entrepreneurship

Website Overwhelm: Has it Hit You, Too?

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Has website overwhelm hit you, too?
Has website overwhelm hit you, too?

It’s funny, I warn clients not to talk over customers’ heads and just last week, I did exactly that: I wrote about how stoked I was with the new Serif WebPlus X8 software and posted a video of how it all works on my LinkedIn wall.  I had a very kind woman point out that she had no idea what I was talking about.

Whoops.

So, I decided to review 3 website building platforms – Joomla, WordPress and Serif WebPlus to give you a view of the back-end as well as the front-end of these website builders along with what the heck is the difference between hosting and domains (watch the video for the exciting conclusion.)  I hope it helps bring more clarity – especially if you’re in the uncomfortable shoes of having to revamp a website and you’re not sure whether to throw in the towel and hire a web designer to start new or fix the one you already have:

I’ve been working with Vinny Hebert over at Web Help U.S. because he’s a staunch Joomla fan and I am – well, I’m not – yet.  He’s been patiently touting the virtues of a Joomla website and I’ve been slowly coming over to his way of thinking – albeit initially kicking and screaming.

I guess what drives me batty about both Joomla and WordPress is the fact that I can’t see the WHOLE page laid out until after I’ve typed or put in an image.  You’ll see what I’m talking about when you watch the video on the comparisons.  Joomla’s very left-brained – and I am decidedly right-brained.  So, instead of complaining, cursing Joomla’s modules and WordPress’ plugins, I decided to sit quietly and play nice. And just like anything that is new – once I let go of my pre-conceived notions of how I think it SHOULD work, I just accepted the way it DOES work.  The result?

Joomla works quite well for enterprise level businesses.  If you have a business that needs to scale, that has multiple users, that needs logins, security, variables for products, unique permissions for different users, Joomla’s your go-to.  In fact, we’re using it for a MAJOR project we’re unleashing in 2015 for the insurance industry because little Serif WebPlus just doesn’t have her big-boy pants on yet.  However, for a small entrepreneur?  You can’t beat Serif WebPlus for simplicity, affordability and speed.

So here’s a checklist of what you should ask yourself before you delve into building your own website or hiring a web designer to do it for you:

1)  What do you want the website to do?

2)  How many people will be updating the website?

3)  If it’s an e-commerce, how many products will you be selling off the website?

4)  Where is your customer base and how will you attract them to your website?

5)  If you’re building it yourself, are there resources you can turn to for help if you get stuck?

6)  Database storage – how and where will you store your client list?

I love Serif WebPlus because it’s a wicked (yes, I said ‘wicked..’) easy platform that allows me to draw my ideas out start to finish.  Joomla is great for heavy-lifting – sites that need a login, protected pages, a subscription perhaps.  WordPress I’ve used primarily for blogging, however, it can also be used as a website and has similar plugins as Joomla’s modules.  However, what’s missing for me in both WordPress and Joomla is the ability to create the website as I see it in my brain from start to finish.  When I’m talking to a client, I already start forming the website in my brain before I’ve even pressed my fingers to the keyboard.  Serif allows me the creative room to put a picture skewed to the left or right – I don’t need to think about it.  I don’t need a plugin or module, everything I need is right within the Serif software – I just draw it the way I see it.  Boom. Done.

What if you have a website and it’s just not working right?  Or you don’t dare hit that update button for fear it’ll blow your website out of the water?  Web Help U.S. has a Dedicated Webmaster program that will update your website so you don’t have to think about it.  He works in both WordPress and Joomla and you can’t beat the price of $59.95 a month.

As much as I love Serif, there are some drawbacks to Serif WebPlus. One, if you have more than one person managing your website, it’s not the ideal platform.  Both WordPress and Joomla allow for multiple users with a simple login.  Joomla allows for limiting accessibility to the site as well (as does, WordPress, so don’t get your shorts in a knot for all the WordPress fans…)

Second, it’s not a very robust shopping cart.  Vinny showed me some fantastic things you can do inside of Joomla for shopping carts and subscription-based websites that I haven’t seen anywhere else.  As Got Clicks grows and evolves, I’m going to need the subscription capability because I’m recognizing many of my clients do not have two grand up front for a website, but they’d be happy to spend a hundred to two hundred a month to promote their business.  I need to pay attention to that, lean in to change, embrace it and see which of these platforms will suit my needs.

But dang!  You can’t ignore the ease of using Serif WebPlus.  I just launched the X8 tutorials last week and already have about a hundred hits on it – so that shows me there is still interest out there.  I have looked at Weebly and I do remember the Homestead websites that came and went, but those have a hard time showing in the search engines and didn’t seem to have a place to put metadescriptions in or page names which are critical to search engine visibility.

So if I’m feeling the overwhelm of what’s the right platform – I can only imagine what you must be going through.  Yes, there are big changes in the wind for Got Clicks.  Yes, Joomla is going to be a very big part of that change and yes, I’m ready to take the next steps – how about you?

Playing Solitaire with Your Business

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The Click Retreat happens this September.  Details at FindTheClick.com
Fold. Shuffle. Play Again.

I’m getting ready for the retreat I’m teaching called The Click in mid-September.  Someone private messaged me on Facebook and it took me awhile to respond back to her.  Here’s what she asked:

“I’ve been in business for 7 years now and it’s been rough.  The recession, banks not lending and my credit score taking a nosedive have made me think I need to get a job, but no one will hire me.  Okay, they’ll hire me, but not at a living wage.  So I’ve been dealt a bad hand and I’m trying to make the best of it.  Will The Click help?”

Wow.  I wish I knew the answer to that one.  I can guide, set up a marketing plan, build a website and e-commerce stuff, but no one knows how to deal with a bad hand… or do we?

I put my cell phone down and picked up a deck of cards.  I played the only game I know next to “Go Fish,” and that’s “Solitaire.”

So I dealt a hand.  And I lost.

I dealt a second.  And I lost.

I dealt a third.  And I won.

So what did I do once I had won?  I dealt again.  And I had one of those “aha” moments.  Whether I win or lose, the result was the same:  I dealt again.  Why?

“Hey Vin, what do you do when you lose a game of solitaire?”

“I deal again.”

“And what if you win?”

“I deal again.  But I don’t play it like you do.”  This gave me pause.

“How do you play?”  I pushed my cards aside and he showed me the solitaire game on his phone.  “Each time I play, I accrue points, so it gives me more incentive to keep playing.”  Accrue points; experience.  Each time you play, you learn, right?

Keep playing… So no matter whether you win or lose at Solitaire, we fold up the cards, shuffle, and play again.  Just like in business.  I remember when I had my corporate handcuffs and how people discouraged me from starting my own business.

“Business is risky – work in the cable industry.”  So I worked for Adelphia.  And they folded.

Deal the cards.  Shuffle.  Play again.

And I created (and re-created) Got Clicks along with many other companies.  Some did very well, some not so well.  But I kept playing and learning and accruing not points, but knowledge and experience on how to do it right more quickly.

Ready to Play?

Here are some tips on getting it right in your business:

Stop Putting Cats in Dresses:  My last blog post talks at length about this and it’s the number one reason businesses fail – lack of customer research.  Do your customers want what you have to offer?  Ask the RIGHT questions and learn what your clients are hungry for.

Simplify Your Messaging:  Stop talking over your audience’s head.  How do you describe your business?  “I do Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Management and build websites and landing pages,” was how I used to lead my elevator pitch and I found people would nod and politely walk to the cash bar.  I now say “I help businesses get noticed online.”  Much less scary, more engaging and memorable.

Make it Easy:  Make it easy for a customer to buy from you.  Think about how you want your customer to receive your product or services.  Is your website concise?  Is it easy to understand what you have to offer?  Do you engage with the right people on your social media?  Are you on social media with a purpose or on there because somebody told you to be there?

Success is not defined by how much money you make, the money you make is directly related to how much success you accrue.  If it doesn’t work? Fold. Shuffle. Play Again.