4 Things Your New Website Absolutely Has to Have

4 things your new website has to have by HighleyDesigned

I recently launched my new website, highleydesigned.com. It’s a simple site to give people more information about my business and my services. It includes a recent projects page which is like an online portfolio and most importantly it features my blog!

As I was designing my site and working on layouts and themes I realized there are a million things to consider, but I was most concerned about a handful of important features.

  1. Make Sure Your Contact Information is Easy to Find
    This is one of the biggest reasons people come to your website – because they want to learn more about you or get in touch with you! Too often I visit websites that bury their contact info or the only way to get in touch is through an email contact form.Make yourself approachable! Let people know you are happy to take their calls or it’s easy to set up an appointment etc. I recommend a phone number in your header and full contact info in your footer (phone and address). Your contact page should include all of that along with a map so people can see where you’re located and that’s where you can add your fax number, email address and other additional information.

    An email contact form is great to have because it makes it easy to track who’s contacting you via your website, but if someone wants to send you a long message or add attachments it’s often easier for them to send an email from their own account. For this reason I include an email address on my website, but if you find you’re receiving too much spam you can always remove it.

  2. Make Sure Your Site Features Responsive Design
    Responsive design means your website is mobile friendly. The term responsive highlights your site’s ability to respond to any device. Take Facebook for example – it looks different on mobile, tablet and desktop. Amazon is similar, and like Facebook, it’s become so popular they developed a mobile app to make it even more accessible.Google has announced that with its newest algorithm responsive design will play a major part so it’s important your website is mobile friendly. You don’t have to write html code to make sure your site is mobile friendly. Try using a visual editor to design your site like Duda. Duda offers beautiful responsive websites at a great price.
  3. Make Sure Your Site Offers High Quality Content
    When you have a great website the biggest mistake you can make is to fill it with mediocre content, poor copy writing or generic headlines. If you don’t have someone in-house to do your writing, hire someone with experience. A professional can make your website sound as good as it looks.Pay special attention to your site headlines and make sure to avoid cliches. When it comes to your content make sure you portray yourself or your brand as a voice of authority in your industry. You want people to know your an expert in your field that can be trusted. And when it comes to your blog or your site’s original articles – don’t share something that’s been shared a million times unless you can add a fresh perspective. Remember to be original!
  4. Make Sure to Use High Quality Photos
    The photos on your website speak to your brand’s professionalism and can either say “high quality” or “yikes they actually put that on their website!” This may mean spending money on stock photos or hiring a photographer – either way, you’ll be glad you did.Make sure your photos are bright and look cohesive. For example if you have a page with staff photos make sure they are all taken with the same backdrop, or if your site features products make sure they all have a transparent or white background.

 

 

How to Create Quality Video Content for Social Media

Learn to create quality video content for social media via HighleyDesigned

One of the things I can’t stress enough when it comes to social media is quality vs quantity. It’s better to focus on one or two platforms you can master, than waste your time trying to gain followers on every single social network. That said, choose the platform(s) that already have a large following and make it your goal to expand them! One of the best ways to grow your audience is with engaging content, and if you read my latest blog I talked all about content marketing and its various forms. Today I want to focus on video.

Whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter, IG or you’re already broadcasting on Periscope, the key to great video content is knowing your audience. Does your audience follow you for information? Do they follow you because you make them laugh? Or do they follow you for your expert tips and DIY ideas? Take what you’re already good at doing and expand it! Learn to create videos with content you’ve already covered. It’s easy!

If you’ve written an awesome blog about something, break it down into three main talking points. Then, write yourself some notes. You can do a quick Periscope broadcast explaining your post and reviewing your key points or you can make an edited video for Facebook! If you can keep it to 10 seconds or less, create a short video featuring a key point for Instagram. If you’re not a talker or you get camera shy, play around with different video apps like Legend and Filmora and create a step by step tutorial with visuals and graphics.

Another way to create engaging video content is to give your audience a “sneak peak” or “behind the scenes” tour. Show them what a day in the studio is like or take a short video of your staff, or even your kiddos if you work from home. Trust me… it may seem lame at first but people LOVE to see the “real” you! And people love pets and babies, no matter what they say!

The biggest thing holding you back from creating video content is you! Whether your budget is big or small you can take quality videos with your cell phone or using the free apps I mentioned. If you have a tiny budget, start small and make your videos personal. If you have money to spend, by all means hire someone professional to highlight your brand! Video is here to stay so find a way to start using it for your business. The sooner you do the sooner you’ll see an increase in your engagement across all platforms!

Here’s a short video I created with Legend to promote the podcast I host each week with Lancaster Podcast Studio. It doesn’t have sound but it’s perfect for IG or Facebook! When people see something moving or realize an image is actually a video they stop scrolling for a moment and watch! Enjoy!

 

Content Marketing: It’s Not Just Blogging Anymore

Content Marketing Comes in Many Forms | Learn more via @HighleyDesigned

I recently started hosting a podcast with Lancaster Podcast Studio called Open Chat and my guests this week were local marketing professionals. We had a great talk about digital marketing and social media but the topic we kept coming back to was content marketing – what it is and how to provide value to your online audience. (To listen to the full show click here.)

I think one of the biggest challenges we face as marketers is defining our audience and creating a variety of media for them to consume. With the numerous social media platforms we have to post on, content marketing isn’t just blogging anymore. And Google is getting smarter – you cannot just blog to add keywords to your website – they want to see that you are providing valuable content that’s user friendly.

So regardless of what industry you’re in, if content marketing isn’t just blogging anymore, what is it? Well, content marketing can be a free eBook, a standout visual, a video or tutorial, an infographic or a free download. There are various tools to create this kind of media and most of them are FREE so it’s easy to incorporate video, GIFs and tutorials into your marketing mix. To learn more about free tools for creating video and standout graphics see my previous blog.

Now that you know what content marketing is, let’s talk about adding value. Something is not valuable if it’s been written about and talked about a million times already. If you are going to write or create a video about something that’s yesterday’s news, you better have a fresh perspective to keep your audience interested. Another tip – if you can’t explain a process in a few simple steps then leave it to someone else. Adding value means providing your audience with something that’s fresh, easy to follow, entertaining to watch and useful to learn about.

With all of that in mind, think about the various social platforms your brand is using. After you write a great blog you can repurpose that content over time to each of your social platforms as a different form of media. For example, I recently blogged about working from home. I then created a graphic for Instagram and shared a link to the article on Facebook and Twitter. Before writing this blog I decided I’d take that content a step further and create a video to share my 3 favorite tips for work from home success.

The key to content marketing success is simple:

A. Define Your Audience
B. Keep Your Content Fresh
C. Use a Variety of Media – Blogging, Video, Graphics, Downloads, GIFs, etc.
D. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

If you’re a work from home entrepreneur, blogger or freelancer, enjoy my video! And be sure to checkout the Open Chat podcast – It’s available each Wednesday on iTunes and Stitcher.

 

 

Facebook Posts that Increase Engagement

Want to increase your Facebook engagement? Here are some tips to get your fans commenting and liking like crazy!

  1. Ask a Question
  2. Make it Visual
  3. Make it Fun

One of the best ways to increase engagement is by posting great content. When you want a commenting or liking boost consider posting a fun question or ask your fans for their feedback. People love when you ask for opinions!

Make sure anything you post to FB includes a link or a photo. Photos perform better in the FB Newsfeed algorithm than a text-only post so I can’t stress enough how important it is to have great pictures! You can find free stock photos on a variety of sites or you can make your own graphics with apps like Canva and PicMonkey. I prefer Canva because they have a variety of pre-made templates that make choosing fonts and colors easy!

Here’s a great resource for stock photos if you need them for social media or for your website, courtesy Entrepreneur.com – click here!

Increase your Facebook Engagement with Creative Question Posts and Eye Catching Graphics

It’s also important to keep your questions timely and relevant to your page. Holidays are great talking points and it’s also fun to check out “weird and wacky” events that are happening everyday like National Donut Day or National Spring Cleaning Week etc. I also love to ask people “Would you Rather” type questions because they don’t even have to think of an answer – they just pick A or B and it’s easy!

It’s important to make sure your questions are fun and won’t incite a FB debate on your timeline or offend any potential customers. If you have a fashion site and you want to ask – “Who wore it better:  Hillary Clinton or Carly Fiorina?” – that’s fine, but don’t go asking people who they’d rather vote for etc.

People love to talk about their family, kids, pets and to share their opinions so when you’re coming up with questions keep those topics in mind, then tailor them to your brand and use your own voice!

When it comes to creating graphics make sure your text is easy to read and I recommend using no more than 2 fonts. If you use Canva take note of the fonts in their pre-made templates (these are made by professional designers); if you change the fonts keep in mind what made them work – was one tall and thin and the other was curvy and bold? There’s a reason those fonts were chosen – because they complimented each other. Unless you have design experience stick with suggested fonts or similar options that will also compliment each other.

Keep in mind colors that will compliment your brand and your social media pages or website when creating branded graphics. Did you know when a magazine goes to print the entire 100+ pages must contain the same color scheme and fonts? Imagine your FB page and website are going to print – will they compliment each other?

These are just some pointers for creating graphics that will stand out. The question part is up to you! Good luck increasing your engagement and getting more likes! Here are some of my most popular graphics of 2015.

 

 

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