As a professional web design company, one of the things we ask clients is if they already have a web host service provider in mind. Finding the right web host is important because your site’s speed, stability and security will depend on your choice of service provider. If your web host turns out to be unreliable, you could end up losing key opportunities for your business. On the flip side a reliable web host will make life and work so much easier.

We’ve seen it all before. Clients come to us complaining how their web host has led to headaches and prolonged periods of stress. The reality is, changing web host service providers isn’t easy. Migrating a website to another host has its own set of challenges.

Choosing your web host can seem like a daunting task because there are thousands of web host providers out there. You can get caught up with all the advertising and marketing and realize later on there is another one better.

The purpose of this article is to simplify the process for you. We break down everything you need to know to make an educated choice. Hopefully you will come away with enough information to confidently choose the right web host for your business.

What is Web Hosting?

A web host company maintains specially configured computers called servers which run on a variety of operating systems such as Windows or Linux. The purpose of these servers is to connect websites to the Internet. You are able to view the content of a website by connecting with its server and accessing it with your browser.

To make an analogy, a web host is like an apartment manager. You rent a space on his server (the apartment complex) and in exchange, he will host your website from there. Once you place all your files on the server, the web host will open it up to allow Internet users to access your content.

If the web host is your apartment, the domain name is your address. When you sign up for web hosting services, you will be given an IP address which is presented as a series of numbers such as 123.456.78.987. Your IP address is where people will look to find you.

But numbers can be difficult to remember which is why you need a domain name. Thus instead of typing 123.456.78.987, people can just type a domain name like www.mountaintopwebdesign.com and they will be redirected to your IP address.

Determine the Needs of Your Website and Host

The search for your web host starts with knowing what your website needs. Even if you find a service provider with the best references and highest number of recommendations, it will underperform if it cannot meet your site requirements.

Here’s a checklist of questions we go through with clients so we can pinpoint the type of web hosting service they need:

  1. How will the website be built? – There are different ways to approach web design. We could use WordPress or static HTML and these will have their own technical specifications which the web host should be able to accommodate.
  2. Does your website require more security features? – An e-commerce website which processes credit card payments and houses personal information will need more security features than a blog site. If you’re planning to put up an e-commerce website, the web host should have the ability to support high level security features.
  3. How would you want e-mail hosting managed? – Having your own domain name gives you the distinction of a personalized e-mail address. In business, a branded e-mail address is perceived as more professional than using a yahoo.com or gmail.com address. It tells clients how invested you are in your own business and it helps with your branding strategy. But you do have a choice of having another provider manage your webmail. Check with the web host company to see if its current e-mail accommodation plan suits your needs.
  4. How much data would your website be storing and serving? – Data that is predominantly text-based will require less storage capacity than one which is image heavy. The size of your data will determine not just the amount of storage space but also bandwidth.
  5. How much traffic do you anticipate? – At the start, you can safely assume low volume of site traffic. But you should have plans in place when your business begins to gain traction and traffic volume becomes heavier.
  6. What is your budget for hosting? – If your budget is limited, you will have to do away with some extra perks. Review your monthly budget carefully and assess if stretching it out a bit will significantly affect your cash flow.

Once we have ironed out the details of the website, you can now shift your focus to finding the right web host for your business. It will be easier and clearer for you to review the different website hosting plans presented by each service provider.

Types of Website Hosting Plans

Here are a few website hosting plans you might come across during your search for the right web host:

  1. Individual Plans – These are highly affordable plans best suited for websites that don’t require specialized features or a high volume of traffic. Individual plans are limited in terms of the number of domains to be supported, Internet bandwidth and data storage capacity. Individual plan subscribers share server space with other webmasters.
  2. Dedicated Servers – In this hosting plan, the web host company will provide your business with its own server. Obviously, this plan will cost significantly more than an Individual subscription but it lays down the contingencies should your business grow faster than expected. Before signing up, make sure the web host allows a transition from Individual to Dedicated subscription.
  3. Reseller Accounts – If you plan to set up several other small websites, the Reseller Account could be the subscription for you. This gives you the option to establish multiple individual plans in a single account.

When choosing the type of web hosting plan, always think of your business as a dynamic, ever-evolving entity that will be a constant work in progress. With the Internet and social media, the challenge for a business is to keep track of changes in tastes, trends and demand preferences of consumers. Your website has to be ready to accommodate these changes without missing a beat.

How to Qualify Your Web Host Service Provider

Hopefully at this point, you have a clearer picture of what you are looking for in a web host service provider. You know what web hosting does, what your website needs and an idea of the subscription packages most service providers carry. It’s time to sift through the list of web hosting services and find the one that will support the requirements of your website.

Here are the key points to consider when qualifying your web host service provider:

  • Cost – Entrepreneurs and small business owners especially those in the process of launching startups have good reason to prioritize cost. What we like to advise our clients is to view the cost of web hosting not as an expense but an investment. The performance of your web host will have a direct effect on the performance of your website. Don’t hesitate to shell out a few more bucks per month for a web host with features that can ably service and support your online business.
  • Customer Reviews – These are valuable references for qualifying service providers. There are customers who will gladly take the opportunity to heap praise upon a vendor for excellent service or vent their ire on one that came up short of expectations. Take your time to read as many reviews as possible. Keep an open mind and don’t be swayed by biases toward a particular vendor. Note down the pros and cons shared by the reviewers and bring these issues up with the vendor during discussions. 
  • Customer Support – It does not matter whether you are a beginner or an experienced online business proprietor. You will always need good, reliable customer support from your web host service provider. Customer support should be accessible from multiple points of contact. The web host company should have chat support, e-mail support and inbound calling services available 24/7.
  • Script Support – You may also want to look for a web host service that offers support for a variety of popular scripts. It should make it easy for you to install your choice of platform. For example, if you want to use WordPress, there are web host services that limit the number of MySQL databases you need to create in order to support this platform.
  • Security – All websites should install their own security measures. But it would be great if the web host company can provide additional security features as well. Find out if they offer firewalls, malware detection services or if their servers can monitor for suspicious activity. On the Internet, you can never have too many security measures in place.
  • Backup Support – The thing with hackers is that they will always try to be one step ahead of security. Despite the best laid-out plans, hackers will find ways to shut you down. You should never get complacent when it comes to protecting the integrity of your online business. An important consideration when choosing your web host provider is the availability of backup support. There are companies that factor in frequent backups to make sure if something happens, they can help you restore your website.
  • E-mail Availability – Most web host companies offer e-mail support. Just the same, ask how many e-mail accounts are provided so you will know for sure if it will be enough to accommodate your needs.

The effectiveness of your website is contingent on the ability of the web host company to give consistently reliable service. There are many outstanding web host service providers in the market. If you find one that best fits your website needs, it will make your business run smoothly, efficiently and trouble-free.

Our years of experience working with different web host providers and designing websites have given us valuable insights on what clients need. Thus at Mountaintop we do more than just design quality websites. We also offer web hosting services that fit your budget and the needs of your business.  If you want to learn more about our web hosting package, give us a call or drop us an e-mail. We would be happy to discuss how these services will benefit your business.

Entrepreneurs are amazing people. They are creative and at the same time, analytical. It only takes a moment’s inspiration to trigger an idea. Entrepreneurs know they have to capture the idea and transpose it from a visual on a sketchpad into a website design that best represents the concept through the medium of the Internet. From there, the visual should have the capability to seamlessly manifest in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. But as creative as entrepreneurs are, they need the help of a professional web designer to turn that visual into a fully functional, aesthetic website.

It’s easy to find web designers. A simple search on the Internet will yield links to several agencies and freelancers offering website design services. You can sign up with various online job platforms and send invites to select freelance web designers or post details on your project. You can connect with web designers in social media networks such as LinkedIn or ask referrals from your contacts in Facebook.

The real challenge is to find a professional web designer who can do the right job for you.  

If you came up with a shortlist of 5 web designers, all of them may have similar experiences, technical and fundamental competencies but not everyone may build your website according to what you want. They may not even capture your vision. There are intangibles you need to look out for when qualifying your right- fit web designer.

Here the top 10 qualities you should look for in a professional web designer:

1. Empathy

When you start collaborating with a web designer, the objective is to create a website that will attract your target market. It may seem superficial but studies have shown that the initial perception of your website will be based on how it looks.

  • Designs with the user in mind – A professional web designer will not design for himself but with a specific audience in mind. Customized design will require extensive research work.

In addition to the information you provide, a professional web designer will undertake further studies to learn the online behavioral traits of specific demographics.

His objective is to develop a keen understanding of your audience. He wants to get to know them better, so he will know the best approach in designing your website.

  • Navigability – In his book “Don’t Make Me Think” Steve Krug revealed that the greater the effort a user extends in navigating the site, the less memorable the experience. A good web designer understands the importance of User Experience or UX in web design. Poor UX will result in lower search rankings.
  • Functionality – Nothing is more frustrating for a user than a website that does not load fast or have malfunctioning buttons. These inconveniences can have disastrous consequences for the website.

A professional web designer will view the design of your website from the perspective of the end user. It must conform to his or her needs, wants and expectations. When users enter your website they know they are in the right place. They will want to explore further and not click out.

2. Analytical

Like the entrepreneur, a good website designer balances empathy with precision through the use of data. If empathy focuses on the image, analytics will build the substance of your website.

  • Designs with SEO in mind – Search Engine Optimization or SEO functions to have your website found on the Internet.

It does this by optimizing your web pages with the precise ratio of keywords so that the search engine robots won’t have a hard time finding your content and getting it indexed. Keywords may be used in descriptive, title and meta tags to fast track the search process.

  • Purposeful Content – Keywords can only go as far as drawing attention to content. The harder challenge is maintaining the user’s interest which is largely dependent on your content’s relevance, usability and uniqueness.

For example, what the user sees and reads during the first 10 seconds on the Home Page will determine whether he or she will further explore your website. Composition of web copy; its images and text, is very important to capture interest of the user.

  • Strategic Use of Design Elements – The loading time of your web page can be affected by design elements such as color, use of animation, the use of forms and status messages. A slow loading website can have serious implications on its ability to generate patronage and revenues. A website designer will frequently run tests to make sure speed and functionality will not be compromised by the elements of design.

3. Trustworthiness

Trust is a value that you earn over time. But when working with people, oftentimes you can depend on intuition to tell you if someone is trustworthy or not.

When you are collaborating with a web designer, you are entrusting your vision and ultimately your business with that person. If you don’t feel comfortable working with the web designer, chances are the arrangement will not turn out well.

What are the warning signs?

  • If there’s a lot of resistance on your ideas.
  • The web designer is habitually absent or late for meetings.
  • The web designer is behind the development schedule.
  • He or she can be rude and sometimes makes crass comments.
  • He or she is more worried about not getting paid on time than getting the project done on time.

These types of incidents are potential red flags. Disagreements are part of collaboration. But if you are frequently clashing heads, not only will you fall behind the launch date but you may not end up with the website you want.

4. Passion

You can tell if a person has passion for what he does. There’s an unmistakable energy and enthusiasm in how he approaches work because he loves his job. For him, web design is not just a means of livelihood. It’s an opportunity to help clients meet their business objectives.

During meetings, he is candid and open about his opinions and observations. His intent is to give you the best website for your hard- earned money. He cares about your project and actively offers solutions.

On the other hand, a web designer who only does it for the money is hardly expressive or involved. All he wants to do is carry out your instructions lock, stock and barrel without giving much of an opinion. In his mind, the sooner he gets the job done, the earlier he gets paid.

5. Good Listener

A professional web designer will always acknowledge the client as the expert in what he or she does. He understands that his role is to turn the client’s vision into a collection of web pages and multimedia content by using his knowledge on website design.

If he wants to have a better idea on how to interpret the client’s vision, he should be a good listener. Allow the client to express his or her ideas as openly and candidly as possible. This is the best way to develop an understanding of the client’s vision and branding strategy.

6. Effective Communicator

Communication is often described as a two- way street. When collaborating with your web designer, you must constantly bounce ideas off one another. Creating a feedback loop between you and web designer opens up the chain of communication and reduces the probability of making mistakes.

A web designer who is also an effective communicator knows how to relay opposing viewpoints without discouraging or embarrassing the client. He prefers to have regular scheduled meetings in order to have the proper forum to discuss concerns, updates and other issues.

7. Understands the Value of White Spaces

White Spaces are also called “negative space”. A professional web designer knows how to utilize white spaces and turn something empty into sophisticated elegance that remains simple yet understated.

There are many benefits to using white spaces:

  • Attracts attention to a certain visual
  • Improves readability
  • Highlights orientation of the page
  • Clears out distractions on the page
  • Gives the page a cleaner look

For the best web designers, white isn’t an empty color. They know how to use it to breathe more life into the web page.

8. Solutions- Based

Several things can go wrong when building a website. The page may not load fast enough, it may not set up properly in a smartphone or design issues may leave you and the designer stumped.

A good website designer does not merely settle for alternatives. He looks for solutions and exhausts all possibilities even before considering other options.

9. Meticulous

The saying “the devil is in the details” rings loud and true in website design.

There are many key areas of responsibility to oversee when building websites. A website designer who is not meticulous in his work process might overlook details that may lead to costly mistakes.

A website designer should be able to look into the details against the overall backdrop of the concept. The question he must constantly ask himself is, “How does this element or feature fit in?” Tests are frequently run to make sure the website is not only aesthetically pleasing but highly functional and usable.

10. Proactive

They might have the experience, skills and necessary proficiencies, but the best website designers know their limitations. They could be stuck with a programming or design issue but instead of wasting time trying to figure it out by themselves, they will reach out to people who can help them.

Of course, the web designer will inform you of the situation and how he plans to resolve it. This way you can keep track of the development schedule and know everything that is happening with your website.

How Do You Know You Have the Right Web Designer?

If you have not worked with a professional web designer before, you might place too much emphasis on technical qualifications and work experience. This is perfectly fine but do not overlook personality, attitude and other key behavioral traits.

Take the time to get to know your website designer better. Invite the candidate to an interview and ask the following questions:

  • Why did he or she decide to become a web designer?
  • What are the web designer’s goals, objectives and motivators?
  • What was the web designer’s biggest challenge and how did he or she overcome it?
  • How does the web designer feel about closely collaborating with the client?
  • How does he or she define “professionalism”?
  • What does he or she consider important qualities of a professional web designer?

The reality is, you will only know if you’ve found the right web designer once you start working together. Like all relationships, it is normal to hit rough patches every now and then but these differences should be resolved right away.

If it’s not working out and all efforts to move forward have fallen on the wayside, do not hesitate to terminate the arrangement and find another web designer.

Did you like what you just read? Please share your thoughts and opinions. I would love to hear from you. And if you’re interested in having your own website, feel free to give me a call or send an e-mail.

We might just be the professional web designer group you are looking for!

When someone tells me, “Josiah, I need a website” my next question would be, “What kind of website do you need?”

One of the most rewarding things as a professional web designer is to share my passion for building websites. My eyes light up whenever I have an opportunity to educate my clients on all things related to website design and the Internet. It’s a moment that allows me to inform people how websites can benefit their business, improve their way of life and at the same time dispel popular misconceptions.

Most people think a website is just their address on the World Wide Web. All you have to do is click on the URL or paste it on the address bar and you’ll land on the website. Although oversimplified, the definition is fairly accurate.

But if you need a website, the more important considerations are as follows:

  • What would make people want to click on my URL?
  • What would they do once they are in my website?
  • How would the website help me achieve my goals or meet my objectives?

A website is more than just an address on the World Wide Web. With proper planning, strategy and purposeful design, a website can do more than just give you presence in the Internet.

What is a Website?

Rather than proceed with a technical, textbook definition of what a website is, I will instead do an analogy.

Let’s assume you decided to get into the restaurant business. Planning a restaurant would entail the following activities:

  • Market research
  • Developing a concept
  • Planning and testing of menu items
  • Functional design of the kitchen
  • Ordering, payment and checkout system
  • Reporting system and collating sales data
  • Interior design and aesthetics of the restaurant
  • Marketing and promotional campaign
  • Recruitment, selection and training of personnel
  • Testing of kitchen equipment, POS and food ordering systems
  • Design of menus or menu boards

All of these activities are further broken down into smaller tasks. For example, designing the layout, interiors and aesthetics of the restaurant would require you to do studies on your target demographics. You hope to find out the best combination of design elements that will attract your target market to your restaurant.

What colors best represent the type of food that I plan to serve? What kind of music do my customers want to listen to? What type of look should my interiors go for in order to create the perfect dining experience for my customers? What would be the average group size of my patrons?

The point of the analogy is that when you decide to open a brick and mortar business like a restaurant, you don’t just set one up without meticulous planning and strategy. You run different studies, conduct thorough research and testing to make sure you can minimize the risks of the business.

The only difference between a website and a brick and mortar business is its location.

With a website you operate in the World Wide Web. But that singular difference opens up a whole new set of advantages:

  • Your website business is open 24/7.
  • Lower maintenance costs; hosting fees and periodic updates or improvements.
  • Immediate access to performance data.
  • Easier to implement changes; with the restaurant, a renovation means you will have to shut down operations for a few weeks.
  • Unless you are running a services-based business, you don’t need to hire personnel.

You can read up on thebenefits of having a website from my previous article. But to understand what a website is and what it can do, all you need to do is to change the conditions of building a business from the physical world to the virtual world.

As the web designer, my job is to build you a website based on the research and information you provide. You are the expert in what you do. My primary function is to come up with a website design that will help you achieve your goals and meet your objectives.

Tell me about your business or purpose and I’ll design you a website that meets your needs.

What is a Content Management System (CMS)?

Before I go to the different types of websites, it would be a good idea to discuss what a CMS or Content Management System is and why it’s an important feature for your website.

The CMS allows you to control the content of your website. Whether you use the website for business or for personal sharing, I believe it should have a CMS for the simple reason that it should be dynamic and remain ever-evolving.

Conditions in business and life are never static. Every day you go through different experiences that shape your business and influence its direction. The same goes for your audience. The demographics of your audience may change without prior notice.

In a globalized economy, what happens in one part of the world affects other regions as well. Changes in the world will affect your business strategies and could influence your values, purpose and vision.

If the website is your address on the World Wide Web, then it should be allowed to grow and reflect the changes that you go through. The CMS makes this possible.

The Different Types of Website

When you decide to have a website for your business, it doesn’t mean you have to sell products or services online. Of course you can. However, your website can play other roles that are likewise pivotal to the success of your business:

  • Build a larger fan or follower base.
  • Enhance your reputation as an expert or valuable resource.
  • Educate or inform your market about your business.
  • Establish communities of people who share the same interests.
  • Market and promote your business.

The type of website your business needs would depend on your goals, objectives and its purpose in your overall development strategy.

  1. Personal Website – Your ISP may offer you free server space to set up a personal website. Some people use this type of website as a blog or an online diary. But you can use a personal website for building your brand.

For example, if you are a Personal Fitness Trainer, you can use the personal website to share your views and opinions on exercise through blogs. You can create a timeline of your weight loss journey, post photos, your workouts, diet plans then share the content through social media.

  1. Search Engine Directories, Yellow Pages and Portals – Google, Yahoo! and Bing are the most popular search engine websites. This type of website offers a variety of features and services to the user from e-mail to information.

Classified directories such as the Yellow Pages provide listing services for businesses, both online and offline. Many include an internal search engine to help users find the desired information.

  1. Information Websites – You can have a website that shares information whether paid or not. You may want to have this type of website if you are catering to a niche industry.

A good example would be an information website on investment opportunities if you are a professional Fund Manager. Your website can be a portal where users can access information on different markets including stocks, treasury bills, foreign exchange, commodities and real estate.

An information website will be an effective way of building your brand and enhancing your image as an expert in the industry. You can create a Facebook page to share content that links back to your website and generate more viewers.

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  1. Company Websites  –
    In the days before the Internet became accessible via broadband technology, websites were used as a marketing tool. Companies set up websites not only to provide information on their business but to show the audience they were updated in technology. Think of company websites as “virtual brochures”.

Today, company websites are more than just marketing collateral. You can find company websites that are more interactive and functional. Many have a Career Page where job seekers can look for openings and send their application.

The company also uses the website to inform their end users, employees and everyone on the value chain about changes in management, the board of directors and latest developments.

  1. Blog Sites – The blog has evolved from an online diary into a powerful tool for generating inbound traffic. It has become the cornerstone of the Content Marketing Process. This is why many types of websites; company, personal and e-commerce to name a few, have a built-in blog page.

People spend 21% of their time searching for information and 20% reading content on the Internet. For your blog to be effective, it must be found. Being a prolific writer is not enough. You must know how to optimize your page with the use of keywords and relevant links. Writing a blog has become as much as a science as it is an art form.

A blog website can generate significant income. There are quite a number of blog sites that make thousands, even millions of dollars every month. They earn income from advertising and the more followers you have the more attractive your website becomes to advertisers.

  1. Forums or Community Building Websites – This type of website caters to a specific niche. The purpose is to bring together people with the same interests and have a venue or forum for sharing thoughts, ideas and opinions.

A forum or community website is effective for:

  • Building networks, expanding your contacts list.
  • Promoting products and services.
  • Creating support groups.
  • Disseminating information.
  • Strengthening collectives or interest groups.

An example of a forum would be those that deal with supplements. There are a number of forums and online communities that frequently share ideas and opinions on different types and use of supplements.

Supplement companies give beta testers samples of their products on a monthly basis in exchange for a positive review on these community websites. Testimonials and product reviews are powerful drivers of business because these are seen as “honest”.

Social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus can be considered community building websites because they bring people of common interests together.

  1. E-Commerce or Retail Websites – Over the last few weeks, we’ve read news that a number of popular retailers in the United States are closing outlets or losing business. Billionaire investor Warren Buffet divested $900M worth of holdings at Wal-Mart.

Retail market analysts point to e-Commerce as the catalyst for the reversal in fortunes of these once- mighty malls. Sales from e-Commerce has consistently been increasing since it first broke through the $1 Trillion mark in 2012.

As I mentioned in my article “Why Your Website Needs Responsive Design”, the growth of smartphones will outgrow the population of the world. Consumers are increasingly dependent on the Internet to meet their needs and this includes shopping.

An e-commerce website is more complicated to make. It will need a products page with high resolution images, “zoom-in, zoom out” or “enlarge” features. You will also need a payment system in place plus a shopping cart to finalize all transactions.

Of course, it has to be mobile responsive, fast and highly accessible by multi-browsers. An e-commerce website will require a larger investment but it would be significantly less than setting up a physical establishment.

  1. File- Sharing Websites – These types of websites are similar to community websites in the sense that they cater to people who share the same interests. However, these interests may have specific niches.

Good examples would be websites that allow users to share music, movies or photos. Some of these websites even offer free memberships that can be upgraded for a reasonable fee so you can enjoy additional features.

You will need a powerful internal search engine in the event the number of files begins to encroach upon the website’s capacity.

  1. Work Collaboration Websites – More businesses are starting to outsource work to remote third party service providers.

In the United States, 37% of workforces are composed of virtual assistants or telecommuters. This number is expected to increase to 50% or higher in 2020. Businesses have been aggressively outsourcing tasks in order to reduce costs without compromising productivity.

Work collaboration websites such as Asana, Salesforce and Evernote, enable businesses to work together with their remote teams. These websites have features for project management, file- sharing, planning, campaign management and communication.

Some of these websites offer free memberships that include the basic features. A monthly subscription fee will entitle the user to more features and benefits that can help grow their business.

So Which Website Type Is For You?

These are just 9 of the most popular types of websites that you can consider for your business. The type of website you choose should service the needs of your audience, enhance your business presence and highlight the products or services you are offering.

Would it be possible to have a website that incorporates features of other types of websites?

Yes, again the type of website would depend on your business needs. As discussed, company websites have evolved and integrated other features such as a blog page and a Career page. A blog page gave these companies a platform to share and engage with their customers and clients. A Career page gave them a new platform to recruit talent.

You can have an informational website that has a products and services page with a shopping cart. You could start out by building your brand and establishing your reputation as an expert in the industry through frequent blogging and posting of relevant articles. Once you have acquired a large group of followers, you can transition to an e-commerce website and sell products and services.

To find out which type of website is right for you, review your business model and conduct studies on your industry and target market.

If you’re thinking about having a website, feel free to contact us at Mountaintop Website Design. We have done different types of websites to suit the needs of our clients. Give us a call or drop us an e-mail. We will be more than happy to share our experiences with you!

There is a better than 50% chance that you are reading this article from a mobile device. It was in 2012 when market analysts first predicted mobile devices would blow away the desktop as the primary source of online traffic. Today, it is estimated that 75% of Internet searches are conducted via smartphones, tablets and laptops. This is why it is not enough to just have a website. You need a website that has responsive design.

What is Responsive Design?

The technical definition of responsive design is that it should conform to the user’s behavior and specific environment as influenced by screen size, platform and orientation.

In other words, it must be able to accommodate different screen sizes of various types of devices. If a user switches his Internet search from a PC to a smartphone, your website must be able to adjust to changes in resolution, image size and scripting abilities.

Thus, your website should have the ability to respond to changes in user behavior and preference.

Responsive design translates to flexible design. When you access Facebook from your smartphone it will appear different compared to a desktop PC, laptop or tablet. In essence, with mobile responsive design, the structure of your website is broken down and rebuilt to fit the screen of the device.

In a smartphone, the contents of your Facebook page will appear like they are stacked vertically. You will need to navigate more in order to carry out specific functions of the website. On a PC, most of the key functions are readily available. Facebook will likewise look differently when viewed from a laptop or a tablet.

Why Should Your Website Have Responsive Design?

If you want to know why you need responsive design, use your smartphone and visit a few websites. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Did you get frustrated when you couldn’t access the website with your smartphone?
  • Did you feel annoyed that you had to “zoom out” just to read the contents of the website?
  • Did you feel compelled to click out of the website and visit a competitor website?

If you answered “Yes” to these questions, here’s the fourth question you should ask yourself. Take note that this is not answerable by “Yes” or “No”:

What if that website was your website?

Frustrated… annoyed… compelled. These are powerful emotions that you would not want to trigger from your website visitors. In a world whereby information is made highly accessible by the Internet, your prospective end- users can easily go to a competitor. 40% will choose another website if yours is not mobile responsive.

Here are other reasons why your website needs responsive design:

1. Mobile Devices Will Continue to Dominate Online Traffic

In 2014, it was reported that there were more SIM cards operating in the world than there were people. Based on the current population growth rate, it is estimated that by 2020 there will be 7.7 Billion people. In that same year, it is projected that more than 5.6 Billion SIM cards will be shipped worldwide.

Put simply, the growth rate of mobile technology will outpace that of global population. Cisco estimates that by 2020, there  will be 11.6 Billion mobile devices for a population of 7.7 to 7.8 Billion people. That is 1.5 mobile devices per person!

A study by Ericsson reports that by 2020, 90% of the world’s population will have a smartphone.

What all of these figures mean is that if your website is not accessible via mobile devices now, you will be greatly overlooked by a market that is increasingly becoming more dependent on mobile technology.

2. Google Says So

A popular saying in the virtual world is that if “Google sneezes, the Internet catches a cold”. And why not? Today Google controls 80.52% of the search market share which makes it the most popular search engine in the world.

So Google can basically tell you what it wants in a website and you can only listen and take note. Since 2012, Google has favored websites that have mobile responsive design for the following reasons:

  • Mobile responsive design makes it easier for Google’s search bots to index and organize all content found online.
  • Mobile responsive design makes it easier for users to share and engage with content that is on a mobile responsive site than with different pages dedicated for mobile or PC.
  • User Experience or UX is an important quality to have for your website to climb up the search rankings. If a user can access and freely navigate through your website with a mobile device, he or she will have a good experience. For Google, mobile responsiveness is a prerequisite for having good UX.

In short, Google wants to keep your end-users happy so they won’t have to go to another website. Customers who frequently leave without further exploration of content will increase the bounce rate of the website. Not only will a high bounce rate affect your search ranking but it will cause problems for Google’s external rate algorithm.

Thus having a mobile responsive website offers a win-win-win solution for you, your end-users and Google.

3. Provides a Cost Effective Solution

Another option for your website to cater to the growing market of mobile users is to create a site that is dedicated specifically for them.

A mobile website offers you the following advantages:

  • It will load faster on mobile platforms.
  • Because it has been designed for the mobile audience, UX will be better.
  • Ranks better in local search results.

However, there are also distinct disadvantages:

  • Your customer will have to remember 2 URLs or be mistakenly taken to one of the other websites.
  • You will have to maintain and update 2 websites.
  • A single mobile website will not function in the same way with other device types.

With a mobile responsive website, you don’t have to build a separate one that can accommodate users of smartphones and other mobile devices. It will be much easier to manage just 1 website instead of multiple ones. Although there are legitimate concerns on loading speed, these can be rectified through revisions in design and development.

4. Boosts Your Online Marketing Efforts

3.5 Billion people are online every day. If you are not using the Internet to market your business, you are limiting your audience reach.

A mobile responsive website will greatly boost your online marketing efforts because nearly 70% of online users are on social media and 55% of them prefer to use a mobile device.

Of course, as discussed earlier, Google favors websites with responsive design. If your online marketing strategy includes content creation and it qualifies under Google’s criteria for great content, you will be rewarded with high search rankings.

For Google, great content should be:

  • Unique
  • Relevant
  • Usable
  • Engaging
  • Keyword- rich

A mobile responsive website makes it easier for users to access great content, improve UX and move you up the search rankings.

5. Enhances the Professional Reputation of Your Business

When it comes to establishing the online presence of your business, you should have a mobile responsive website. There are those who believe actively participating in social media and joining online communities are good enough to improve their online presence.

While social media sites are accessible via mobile devices, your company page will not firmly establish your identity in the same manner that a mobile responsive website would.

If you conducted business in a popular coffee shop, would you put their address on your calling card? So a coffee shop brings in a crowd; some even have free Wi-Fi and it is an acceptable place to host business meetings. It does not make the coffee shop your formal place of work. To do so is paramount to squatting or freeloading. It certainly will not enhance the professional reputation of your business.

Having a mobile responsive website tells clients and customers that you are updated with technology. It also says that you are invested in your business unlike those who don’t even want to put up the money to build their own website.

Owning a website means your business has a unique domain name. You have a professional webmail and not using a generic one. That alone separates you from a competitor who has to use a yahoo.com or gmail.com webmail address.

Finally, a mobile responsive website shows customers you care about their convenience. You understand that times have changed and people are living the mobile lifestyle. \

6. Increases Sales Conversion Rates

Research has shown that 69% of online shopping is done via tablet. How can you convert leads into sales if it cannot be accessed by mobile users?

With a mobile responsive design, developers will have more control on how their website will appear on a screen. Thus it gives them greater flexibility in coming up with a design that would make the process of finalizing a sale easier and more convenient for the user.

Responsive design also allows developers to conduct A/B Testing using software like Optimizely or Clicktale. These programs allow developers to segment users, collect and analyze data on how they are using your website. It will help you come up with strategies that will get them to complete the sales process.

It is no wonder that conversion rates via smartphones are 64% higher compared to desktops.

Should You Transition to Mobile Responsive Design?

If you have a website that is not mobile- responsive, these 6 reasons should be enough to convince you to get your professional web designer on the line, request for a meeting first thing tomorrow morning and transition to mobile responsive design.

If you do not have a website yet, look for a professional web designer who can do the job. One of the criticisms against responsive design is that it takes much longer to download compared to a mobile website. A professional web designer has the experience and expertise to get your mobile responsive website to run faster.

Responsive design is here to stay for the next few years. Having one should not be a question of “if” but “when”.

In this day and age where digital technology and the Internet has influenced how we live and work, it is shocking to know that very few small business owners have a website.

It is hard to believe that only 46% of small businesses have a website. This statistic is confounding when you realize people spend 6 hours a day on the Internet.

Based on 2014 survey results, 41% of small business owners reported they don’t think they need a website. What that means is they probably don’t know the benefits of having a website for their small business.

1. Improve Business Credibility.

A simple way to view a website is that it is your online business address. This is where your customers, clients and associates go to find you on the Internet.

The Home page identifies your branded value proposition, the About Us page tells visitors all about your business and the Contact Us page informs everyone how to get in touch with you.

It legitimizes your business and improves your credibility. It gives your business an identity and is virtual proof that it exists.

Don’t be mislead into thinking a company page in Facebook is enough to build your credibility. A 2015 survey showed that 84% of consumers believe that having a website makes your business more credible than just a social media page.

Having a website means you have your own domain. In the same survey, 65% of respondents regard a company-branded e-mail as more credible than a generic one.

2. Build Your Business.

Before broadband technology became widespread in 2004, websites were used primarily for marketing and informational purposes. A website functioned more like a brochure; you put one up to stay ahead of the competition. But there wasn’t much thought and purpose behind the content.

With the growth of the Internet, the influence of social media and the popularity of mobile devices, the website has become a crucial tool to build your business.

  • Share Your Story – According to Nobel Prize winning psychiatrist Daniel Kahneman, consumers patronize brands they can align their values with.

A website is a great way to share your story; tell your audience why you started this business, your goals and what you hope to accomplish with it.

  • Get Clients – It’s not enough to have a rock star online profile. 36% of clients prefer to deal with businesses that have websites. By contrast, only 21% will work with businesses without websites.

A website gives you the platform to highlight your experience and expertise.

  • Find Your Team – Are you looking for people to help you run your business?

Set up a Career page in your website where prospective candidates can fill out an application form and attach their resume.

Post your job requirement in social media and link it back to your website. You should have a good number of candidates in no time!

3. Enhance Your Online Presence.

worldfoodbank responsive website design

Website for WorldFoodBank

Here’s a statistical fact that will blow your mind:

Of the 7.4 Billion people in this world, 3.5 Billion people or 47% are online every day. They are searching for information, sharing on social media or shopping on e-commerce websites.

This number is expected to grow as the world becomes increasingly dependent on mobile technology to search the Internet. Today there are an estimated 2.3 Billion smartphones worldwide. But in 2020, the total number of smartphones is expected to hit 6.1 Billion.

If your small business does not have a website, you will be undermining its ability to generate income. And not just any website; but a mobile responsive website, one that can be accessed by mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Statistically, 65% of online traffic comes from mobile devices.

A mobile responsive website will help you capitalize on the opportunities available on the Internet through the following ways:

  • Improve Search Rankings – By optimizing your web pages, it will be easier for people to find your content.
  • Distribute Content – Create relevant, unique and usable content and distribute them through different channels such as social media and blog sites. People who love your content would want to know more about you and visit your website.
  • Open 24/7 – Unlike a brick- and- mortar business that operates 9- to- 5, a website never closes shop. It is open 24/7, even on holidays.
  • Introduce Business Flexibility – If you don’t want to miss out on opportunities, outsource customer service and have your agents manage all concerns and inquiries via chat or e-mail support at your website.

4. Build a Strong Relationship with Your Market.

A business by definition is a living, breathing entity. Loyalty is achieved when customers know they are dealing with a company that understands their needs and not just a company that wants to profit.

  • Let the Market Know “Who You Are”. Outside the Home and About Us pages, you can set up a blog page where you can share your thoughts and ideas with your audience.
  • Address the Needs of Your Market. Invite your audience to engage you by encouraging them to post comments on your blogs. Embed survey forms and ask your audience to participate and convey their needs.
  • Educate the Market of Your Business. Utilize the 80-20 Rule; 80% of your content should be usable or relevant to the needs of your audience while 20% should educate them about your business.
  • Improve Customer Service. In addition to e-mail, social media, mobile and landline, install chat support as the 5th avenue for customer service. This will give your end-users more options to relay concerns and inquiries.

5. Efficient Way to Promote Your Business.

If you are still using traditional forms of marketing, you are wasting valuable resources, time and money. Traditional forms include press releases, print ads, flyers and distribution Point- of- Purchase materials.

While still popular, traditional methods cost more money and cover less ground. It is also unsustainable; flyers, posters, print ads and press releases usually end up in the trash can.

Online marketing is faster, more efficient and inexpensive. There are many tools and techniques that you can use for online marketing but without a website, these strategies will fall short.

Think of the website as the sun with these online marketing tools as the planets revolving around it. Your online marketing efforts will create inbound avenues to a specified destination place which is your website.

Among the most popular online marketing tools that you can use to create inbound traffic to your website:

  • Social Media – Of the 3.5 Billion people online every day, 2.34 Billion or 67% are on social media.
  • Blogging – Companies that blogged 16 times a month received 4.5 times more leads than those that blogged 0-4 posts per month.
  • Use Videos – Embed a video on your Home page. A video can deliver your messaging content faster and more efficiently than text. Video on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%.

Finally, online marketing is a sustainable process. Your content will not go to waste. You can easily update it and reuse after a few months.

6. Boost Your Reputation as an Authority.

If your business is in a competitive industry, a website will give you the forum to boost your reputation as an authority figure.

  • Blogging –  There’s one reason why blogging is the cornerstone of the content marketing process: It works! Here are 3 key statistics on the benefits of blogging:
    • Websites with a blog have 434% more indexed pages.
    • 47% of buyers read 3 to 5 blogs before engaging a sales rep.
    • 61% of consumers report a blog influenced their decision to buy.
  • Podcast – Set up a podcast in your website, distribute the schedule via Twitter, Facebook and invite experts to discuss topics that interest your audience. 21% more people listened to podcasts in 2016 compared to 2015.
  • Seminars – Conduct seminars on your website. This is a great way to share your knowledge with your market. Encourage your audience to actively engage during the seminar.

7. Create a Tool for Sales Generation.

A website can also be an active and passive tool for generating income because it is the termination or exit point in the sales funnel.

It is very difficult to convert sales in social media. There are no available mechanisms to complete the transaction on- the- spot. An e-commerce website for example, has a checkout counter where goods and services can be paid for right away.

It can also be a good source for passive income via PPC or Pay- Per- Click advertising. Advertisers will pay you every time a user clicks through their ad in your website.

8. Showcase Your Work.

engraveandframeHere’s a valuable tip for those who want a clear advantage in the job market:

Open a personal website and include a page that showcases your body of work.

That is one valuable tip that Hiring Managers all over the country wish job applicants knew. The same can be said for small business owners. A website will give you the venue to present samples of your work.

If you’re offering interior design services, content writing, professional web design services and other types of work that can be made visual, a portfolio page will encourage more clients to try you out.

If you want to increase the impact of your portfolio page, include 5 or more client testimonies. You can put the client testimonies in the Home page which is where users land after clicking unto your link or the Services page.

9. Keep Track of Your Business in Real Time.

One of the most significant benefits of having a website for a small business is that you can keep track of its performance in real time through the use of analytics.

Analytics will provide you valuable data on how your business has been moving within a period of time. Key indicators of business performance include the following metrics:

  • Number of visitors going to your website.
  • Number of “unique visitors” or those who visit your website only once.
  • Page views or impressions tell how many times a page has been read or visited. This will give you an idea on which type of content visitors find interesting.
  • Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your website without exploring past the page they landed on.
  • Average time on site will show how long visitors view your content. The longer the average time on site, the better for your website.

10. Professionalize Your Brand.

Many small business owners make the mistake of not working on their brand until they gain traction.

You have to start working on your brand before launching your business. The brand gives your business its identity and makes it easier for customers and clients to understand what it is all about.

The website is the most effective and efficient way to build and professionalize your brand:

  • It places your branded value proposition front and center in the Home page.
  • Website optimization techniques can help Internet users find your brand.
  • It can be distributed seamlessly through various online channels.
  • A professionally made website shows you are serious about your business.

If you want an effective website or one that can help you take your business to another level, you have to be prepared to invest in one. In a survey of small business owners, 19% identified cost as another reason for foregoing a website.

A website is not an expense. It is an investment because you should expect a return on your money within a period of time.

For your investment to pay out, you have to make sure your website is professionally designed, fully functioning with fast download speed and packed with great content.

Do not penny- pinch and try to do a website on your own despite the availability of free templates. Your best option would always be to hire a professional web designer who has the experience and training to build a functional yet aesthetically beautiful website.

Why Maintenance is Critical to a Successful Website

Like any computer, websites require updates and maintenance in order to work properly. Similar to a vehicle, websites have a lot of moving pieces that can break and cause your site to go down if you are not careful. Websites need regular updates and attention, just like vehicles need regular oil changes. You don’t want your website to be down when that potential customer comes looking, do you?

Trust us, we have seen many websites that have been neglected. Often times you may find that your website has been hacked, there are links to spam or viruses on the website, and the site has been black listed by Google and other major search engines. It is best to avoid going down this road and having a website that is down for maintenance. Your website should always be live, ready for customers and presenting your business at its finest.

Websites Are Not a “Set It and Forget It”

Without website maintenance carried out monthly, you might actually be losing money. If a visitor goes to your website and find things wrong with it, they often exit the site immediately. Most website owners don’t check their website to see how it’s functioning and performing regularly. A missed website issue or any downtime can cause you to lose customers.

Maintenance Benefits

Let’s talk about the benefits of regular site maintenance:

It is important to understand that website load time, performance, uptime, and error free pages are all dependent on the WordPress software and any plugin that is also on the website.

However, new and exciting content, analytics reporting, design changes, and growth are all dependent on someone making all these changes. In addition, this person must check for errors and make sure the content looks great on the site.

Our Maintenance Workflow

At Mountaintop Web Design we work hard so you don’t have to. Our process ensures your website and company is protected at all times. Each time we work on your website, we make sure that we backup your website. We then make the needed updates, then verify that the website is performing without any issues. We even keep a record of the plugins that we update, which will help us troubleshoot any errors on the website. This ensures a speedy update and minimizes downtime. Additionally, our monthly processes include scanning your website for potential security or performance issues. At the end of the month, we send you a monthly report that shows the items updated, results from the performance and security scans, and much more!

Why Not Just Do It Yourself?

While it appears to be cheaper from the outset, maintaining your website by yourself could actually be more expensive than you may think. While it is easy to update from the backend of your website, you will not have a record of what updates were done. If an update to a plugin causes an issue a couple of weeks down the road, it would be very tough to figure out which plugin caused the the problems. Without knowing this, you would have to restore an old backup of your website, which means you could lose recent content, sales orders, contact entries, and more.

It Costs More to Fix Than to Maintain

Similar to a vehicle, websites can be inexpensive to maintain on a regular basis. Where people get into trouble is when a website breaks causing problems with the look and functionality of the site. This can happen if a website is neglected or if regular maintenance was performed incorrectly. When a website does break (like a vehicle), it can be expensive to hire an expert to fix it (especially when the website has been hacked). Regular site maintenance by an expert will help keep your site running properly.

Call an Expert

Why not deal with what you know best and let us deal with what we know best? Would you try to do surgery without a doctor?

Why try to maintain your website if you are not a web professional? If you secure an expert web professional to update and maintain your website, you will have the peace of mind that your website will be up when potential customers come looking.

If you’re interested in our Extreme WordPress Care Plans for your website, contact us to learn about our different support options.

Extreme WordPress care - what types of plans we offer