How COVID-19 Changed Business Forever

It’s easy to say that COVID-19 has changed virtually every aspect of life in the past nine months. However, while some temporary measureslike social distancing, mask-wearing, and avoiding public gatheringswill probably fade away, some other changes will be permanent.

In our business, it’s easy to see how the pandemic emphasized the importance of having a strong website. Even though some entrepreneurs will be anxiously waiting for things to go back to “normal,” we think many of the shifts are irreversible. In other words, all the reasons your website was critically important to your company in 2020 will continue into the future. That’s because we were already moving towards a digital-first business landscape.

As a full-service agency, we deal with everything: print ads, branding, package design, and digital strategies. But this year has been all about online business. The internet has been critically important to marketers for years, of course, but current circumstances have shown what is possible and accelerated a trend that was already in motion.

What does this mean for you and your business going forward? Let’s look at a few things that are already becoming apparent…

Your Website is the Primary Point of Contact for Your Business

In many ways, your website is your most important piece of real estate, your best employee, and your biggest source of referrals all in one. That’s because it can be seen and interacted with by many times more visitors than you, your building, or all of your employees combined. That’s especially true if you’re using search engine optimization and social media to their fullest powers.

When you have a strong website in place it enhances your credibility. It’s easier for people to trust you, and to understand the unique advantages of your products or services. In order to gain these benefits, though, your website has to actually be impressive. It also helps if you can use interactive toolslike online chat and real-time social media feedsto engage visitors from the first moment they arrive.

It’s Not Just about Looks Anymore

Although we are in the “business web design” industry, we recognize that term has become something of a misnomer. That’s because the design (or aesthetics) of a website are no longer the primary or only consideration. What you can do with your pages is just as important as the way they look.

We’ve already mentioned the big benefits that come with using online chat to engage with visitors directly in real-time. What we have also seen this year is that ecommerce plugins, online scheduling tools, and video training modulesto name just a fewcan all make a website more valuable. These kinds of features boost revenue, save money, and make it more convenient for customers to do business with you.

COVID-19 Will Pass but Digital Business is Here to Stay

Speaking of decreased costs and increased revenue, it’s important to remember that bottom-line considerations have been driving business website upgrades for many years. There are a lot of business owners out there who only made changes to their websites out of necessity in 2020. Now that they’ve seen the benefits, though, they won’t be going back.

There aren’t many silver linings to the struggles we have seen in 2020. However, it’s never a bad thing when entrepreneurs and executives can discover lasting ways to find customers or save money. That’s why it’s a safe bet that the “new normal” of relying on business websites is going to be with us even as the pandemic stops being an ongoing concern.

ADA Compliance for Websites

The Supreme Court recently shined a light on ADA compliance for online businesses by refusing to hear a case that had previously ruled that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantees disabled individuals the right to access not only businesses but also their websites and web-based applications. 

The initial suit was brought against Dominos by Guillermo Robles, a blind man who was unable to order a pizza on the pizza chain’s website because it didn’t have the capability to accommodate him. He claimed this violated the ADA, which states that anyone with a disability should have full access to the goods and services “of any place of public accommodations.” While Dominos argued that this law only applied to physical locations, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it also included the online services offered by the business. 

This ruling could open the door to many other lawsuits against retailers who fail to make their websites accessible. The Supreme Court’s action implies that they are likely to apply ADA standards to web-based services in the future, leaving many business owners concerned about their ADA compliance. 

What to Know about ADA Compliance

Making your website ADA compliant is a smart business move that will not only protect your company but also help you reach more individuals with disabilities who may be interested in your services. Here are some key things you should know about ADA compliance:

  • The ADA extends to Tier I and Tier III organizations. Tier I is any business that is open at least 20 weeks out of the year with at least 15 employees. A Tier III organization applies to the “public accommodation” category, which includes businesses like grocery stores, banks, hospitals, and retailers. 
  • The ADA doesn’t have specific guidelines for websites, but the Supreme Court’s actions suggest that they should have the same level of accessibility as a brick-and-mortar location. This means using various website programming techniques to ensure a website is functional for individuals with disabilities.  
  • The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0) is the industry standard for web developers. It consists of guidelines and techniques to ensure websites are perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. These guidelines are broken up into three levels to conform to varying degrees of disability.
    • Level A: This is the lowest level of accessibility. It focuses on ways to improve navigation and translation for readers. 
    • Level AA: This level does more to account for multiple disabilities, including providing developers with direction on color contrast and identifying errors. It’s more in line with what has been considered acceptable in past court cases involving ADA compliance.
    • Level AAA: At this level, a website is designed to be accessible to the broadest range of individuals with disabilities using a combination of programming tools and elements.

Why It’s Time to Upgrade Your Web Hosting

Web hosting is an easy topic for business owners to ignore. After all, most don’t really understand how it works, never see the computers where their websites are stored. Also most are easily bored by details like server speeds.

So, rather than get into the technical minutia of different web hosting packages and configurations, today we simply want to remind our clients and readers that it’s time to review your hosting package. In fact, it’s likely that you could benefit from upgrading to a better plan.

Reluctant to spend money on something you don’t quite see the value in? Let’s look at a few things you get with dedicated web hosting…

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Is Your Business Website Ready for 2020?

We’ve flipped the calendar to a new year, and that has a lot of business owners thinking about what’s ahead in 2020. Many are thinking specifically about their websites, which have become crucial to sales and marketing and our digitally-driven world.

When you have a top-notch web presence for your business, you have an advantage over the competition. When your website isn’t keeping up, on the other hand, it’s hard to keep customers coming your way.

With that in mind, is your business website ready for 2020? Here are four questions you can ask yourself to find the answer…

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Is Your Business Website Mobile-Friendly, or Just Mobile-Compatible?

You have probably heard by now that more than half of all web traffic originates from mobile devices. Experts agree nearly two-thirds of us will access the internet primarily through phones and tablets in the next few years. We agree that Google factors mobile compatibility into it’s search algorithm.

Many of the business owners and executives we work with are aware of these facts but don’t really incorporate them into their online marketing strategies. They do the bare minimum to make their websites mobile-compatible but don’t really go any farther.

That can be a big mistake in an increasingly mobile-dependent world. It’s always a good idea to give your customers more of what they want. If they’re using mobile devices to find you, then it makes sense to provide a better mobile online experience.

We think so. To help you determine whether your business website is mobile-compatible or mobile-friendly let’s look at three different levels of implementation…

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What a Perfect Web Design Looks Like

When business owners and marketing executives turn to us it isn’t because they want an “average” or “great” web page design – they want the very best. But what exactly does that mean?

We hear versions of this question almost each and every day. So, we want to help our readers and clients by shedding a little light on what the perfect business web design looks like.

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Why You Shouldn’t Do SEO Without Social (or Vice Versa)

When social media marketing started taking off, some business owners sought it as a way to replace search engine optimization (SEO). With a few tweets and posts, they imagined they might be able to break away from the competitive and sometimes-grueling cycle of generating and promoting content.

Lately, we have seen the opposite happening: that some small and medium-sized companies are ignoring their social profiles to get back to the more proven strategy of turning search visitors into customers. 

We think that’s a mistake. While SEO might be a more direct route to growing your bottom line, social media marketing still has its place. In fact, we don’t think you should invest time and money in search without also paying attention to your social accounts. Let’s look at why.

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5 Bad Reasons Business Owners Put Off Web Design

Are you one of the millions of business owners who know they need a new website or at least improvements to an existing web presence, but put it off month after month? If so, the good news is you aren’t alone. Many of your peers are procrastinating as well. The bad news is that some of your competitors are taking action and might be well on the way to leaving you behind.

It’s human nature to put off projects that don’t seem urgent, but delaying improvements to your website is a losing strategy. For one thing, your online presence can be your most important sales and marketing tool. It’s nearly impossible to grow your bottom line these days with an underwhelming digital strategy. And for another thing, your excuses for putting things off probably aren’t as strong as you might think.

If you want a little bit of proof, let’s look at five exceptionally bad reasons business owners tend to put off web design projects…

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The 7 Things Your Business Website Needs to Make Clear

When designing a website, or putting content together, it can be easy to lose the forest for the trees. There are so many apps, design features, and new technologies available to today’s business owners and web designers that they sometimes lose sight of what they really need to accomplish.

Numerous studies have shown that you only have about three seconds or less to impress a first-time visitor to your website. Many of those in our industry point to that figure and remind clients they need to upgrade their web hosting for faster page delivery. That’s a good suggestion, but clarity matters just as much as speed. In other words, your website needs to get certain ideas across to potential customers very quickly.

Which facts or ideas do they need the most? Let’s look at seven things your business website needs to make crystal clear…

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The Biggest Trend Driving Online Marketing in 2019 and Beyond

This is the time of year when business owners (not to mention those of us in the web design community) naturally tend to look ahead and think about what a new year might mean for the world of online marketing. That’s certainly the case now, as we are fielding more questions than ever about what to expect in 2019.

There are never certain answers to these questions, of course, simply because technology moves quickly and no one can predict the future. However, from our point of view it’s easy to see that the biggest trend to pay attention to is the one that is already taking place right in front of our very eyes. In fact, it’s so significant that it’s easy to take the associated changes for granted.

We are talking, in this case, about the shift towards mobile web usage.

No matter where you look people are on their phones and tablets. Statistics back up what our eyes see, with mobile web usage approaching 60% of all Internet traffic in 2018. There’s no reason to think mobile web users won’t make up and even bigger percentage of the online market in coming years.

Smart marketers are taking big steps to adjust. Here are some of the tools we are using to help our clients to be ready for the continued growth of mobile computing in 2019 and beyond…

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