Basic Monthly Website Maintenance Package

Congrats!! You’ve got a WordPress Website! With a simple, flexible publishing engine at it’s core, WordPress is a powerful tool in the hands of anyone who wants incredible SEO (which you NEED, to be found online), online marketing leverage and social media integration! With the WordPress publishing engine, we have just built you a complex, dynamic, data-driven website.  With WordPress, you can truly tailor a blog, informational or e-commerce website to your own design tastes, needs and business goals.  All the blogging tools you need are readily available: Some are packaged with the WordPress software; others are third-party plugins and add-ons created by members of the WordPress user community. With a little research, knowledge, and time spent on your part, you can take your WordPress website to a place that gives your customers and readers an exciting experience that keeps them coming back for more.

To keep your WordPress website or blog secure and properly backed up, there is ongoing maintenance to think about. Is it absolutely necessary? Nah, you could go without it. But you could go without an oil change – or tire rotations or regular tune-ups – in your car every few thousand miles, too.  Dynamic websites like yours can only “coast” for so long. (read more about static vs. dynamic websites)

The question is…should you? Should you ignore your site’s vulnerabilities? Should you cross your fingers and hope for the best? Or should you keep your site – your content, your products, your message – as safe as possible by keeping current on all WordPress, Plugin and Theme upgrades and should you keep, not only your database, but your site files, backed up on a regular basis, scanned for malware?

Our Basic Monthly Website Maintenance Package includes the following:

  • Updating WordPress software and keeping current with all upgrades (one of the best ways to keep your site secure and hack-resistant & free of malware.  Note: One of the biggest contributors to malware attacks is running outdated software. Protect your users and yourself.)
  • Updating all Themes and Plugins
  • Database backups
  • Monthly backup of every site file on your host’s server, in case of an emergency
  • Email correspondence with us to answer maintenance related issues*

* This does not include other, non-maintenance related WordPress questions, but if you bought a website from LuHow Designs, you have unlimited access to our training videos.

Basic Website Maintenance $75/month

What is an “Organic” Search Engine Result?

I thought I should clarify my use of the word “organic”, for those of you who may not know. When you conduct a search, say, on Google.com, you’ll see some search results (usually in a yellow or colored box) that are paid advertisements, meaning someone bought ad space to appear as a result when someone googles certain keywords.

I just Googled “best red lipstick” and a sponsored ad from Maybelline appeared. This is a PAID search result, not an ORGANIC one.

Organic search engine results

An organic search result is one that search engine algorithms have determined is the most relevant to the person doing the search, based on their keywords (and their cookies, but that’s a topic for another day) as well as a whole slew of other factors related to the website content, website traffic and social media integration.

There is an ART and a SCIENCE to SEO (search engine optimization).

In other words, the art and science of search engine optimization is crucial to increasing your online footprint and implementing strategic online marketing.  The result of intentionally implementing SEO into your online marketing strategy is a high ranking on consumer searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo, pushing the traffic of internet searchers and consumers to YOUR WEBSITE FIRST. ;-)

If you’re struggling with your business or organization search engine ratings, LuHow Designs can help.  Contact us today, we’d love to assist you with your online marketing needs.

So you need a new website? Where do you start?

As a website designer and developer, I have seen clients go around in circles trying to figure out what they want their website to be, what the purpose of it is, how they want it to look, feel, perform. They lose precious time when they approach their project without thinking it through and mapping it out first.  If you are considering creating a website for the first time or re-designing the one you have, you must know this important truth:

The PURPOSE of your business or organization will determine WHY your website exists and HOW it will help you accomplish your goals.

Determining the purpose of your business or organization, as well as the audience or customer you are targeting, is crucial to driving the strategy (look, feel, function, everything) of your website.  What do you want your website to do that will help you accomplish your business goals?

Once these questions are answered, we try to ask more questions to help decipher our client’s online strategy but ultimately one of the most helpful things our clients end up doing is our suggestion that they spend some time critically exploring the internet on their own and jotting down websites they like and don’t like, whether it’s design or functionality, whether it has to do with their type of business or not. This really helps them to see what’s out there, what the possibilities are for them to pursue and begin imagining what it can look and feel like on their own website.

Perhaps your business goal is to increase your revenue by 20% but there is competition that appears above your business on search engines.  We LOVE the challenge of boosting our clients in search engines so that they organically appear above their competition! And our websites, integrated with social media and email marketing, have the power to do this, if done correctly.

We always have our clients setup their own domain and hosting accounts in their name or their business name and the websites we build for them (complete with cheat sheets and tutorials!) are theirs, they have full ownership and are never obligated or under contract to hire us again if they don’t want to. We have seen TOO many people “lose” their websites, destined to wander the earth separated from the website they thought they owned.

If you are looking to get started with your online marketing strategy, LuHow Designs can help you!  Contact us today for a FREE one hour consultation that, whether or not you hire us for the job, will give you clarity and a place to start accomplishing your business/organization’s goals!

Thanks for Your Support!!

Thank you SO SO much for giving me a “thumbs up” and a positive, supportive comment on YouTube!  If you haven’t yet, please get in there and share whatcha think!  Whether I receive the scholarship to the B-School Modern Marketing Course or not, I am SO looking forward to starting it next month!  I know all of my current and future clients will benefit from this training!  Be prepared to be WOWED! (Uh, not by the video but by the results of my training).  I LOVE to see my clients succeed and cannot wait to apply my training to work for YOU!  This video was such a leap, and out of my comfort zone, but you should know that I will do the same for my clients to see them reach their goals!

Another New Website in North Platte

Check it out, another website redesign that is almost done…..
(I can’t wait to tell you all the cool things it can do, real-estate listings importer, featured listings, image slideshow, site searchability, client-side editing, instant post to facebook and other social media and MORE)
sheribourne.com

 

Is Your Website Static or Dynamic?

There are many static websites on the Internet, I designed some of them!  There are especially a lot of static websites in North Platte, Nebraska where I live and work.  A static website is the traditional way to build a website – it’s an easy way to get something up and going and they are cheap to host, but you really have to know coding (like someone with web design/development skills) to edit it and keep it updated.   You may not be able to tell right away but if the site looks basic, and gives you information without anything cool happening, it could be a static website.

Although a static website can be fairly cheap to develop in the short run, they could be costly to maintain in the long run because of the growing number of pages and the need for help from a web developer who knows the code, AND, what people don’t realize is that the site is usually not very useful for the user and that the content can get stagnant, which is not conducive to site ranking high on search engines.  They give the user and the search engine (like Google) exactly the same response over and over again.

Dynamic sites on the other hand can be more expensive to develop initially, but the advantages are numerous.  A dynamic website can give the website owner the ability to simply update and add new content to the site. For example, news and events could be posted to the site through a simple browser interface. There is really no end to the features that can be added to a dynamic site.

Dynamic features enhance the user experience and most often result in an increase in traffic and added time spent on the site. Some examples of dynamic website features could be: forms, photo albums, content management system (CMS), e-commerce (selling stuff online), forums or discussion boards, newsletter, contact forms, detailed searches, social networking (connecting the site to Facebook, Twitter and other social sites), intricate calculators, RSS feeds (like a theater’s latest movie listings or recent news from CNN), ability for administrators or users to create content or add information to a site (dynamic publishing), without worrying about “breaking” something in the core code and thus, disabling or seriously disabling the website.

Advantages of dynamic websites

  • Much more functional website
  • Ability to continue adding dynamic features
  • Much easier to update
  • Deliver information to a wider audience
  • New content brings people back to the site and helps in the search engines
  • Can work as a system to allow support staff or other users to collaborate

Disadvantages of dynamic websites

  • Usually takes longer and is more expensive to develop
  • Hosting costs a little more

Many sites from the last decade are static, but more and more people are realizing the advantages of having a dynamic website. Dynamic websites can make the most of your site and either use it as a tool or create a professional, interesting experience for your visitors.  Here is an example of a static website  AND Here is an example of a dynamic website. (I created both of these, by the way….the static site is about 6 years old).  When I first started designing web sites I created a lot of static ones, since then I have redeisgned my old static sites into dynamic sites for my clients in North Platte, Nebraska, Denver, Colorado and across the U.S.  What remains the same is that I listen to what my clients need and I help them step by step to accomplish the web presence they desire, that will accomplish their goals.

If you have any questions or comments, please add yours to the post interaction or contact us.

What to Look for in a Web Designer

Trying to find a company or individual to design, program and maintain your website can be a very intimidating task!  I have seen many people go through this process and, initially, they always seem to have a “deer in the headlights” look on their faces!  It really isn’t too different, I think, from the way my face must look every time I walk into The Buckle to buy a pair of jeans!  Hey, some of us are overwhelmed by the thought of developing a web presence while others of us are intimidated by the thought of matching our own clothing before we leave the house…..it’s all about how we present ourselves to the world, right?

Today I found a very helpful article that I wanted to share with you if you happen to be shopping for a web designer at the moment.  Don’t be overwhelmed.  Take some advice and then go with your gut.  I found this article on about.com.  A few things the author said that I would like to highlight for you are:

Designer Portfolio…look for examples that show diversity and range for the designer. Ask to see the portfolio online so that you can see how the websites they’ve built actually work. This is especially important if you’re looking for a designer to build any type of interactivity for your website.

Designer Skills…to assess this in a Web designer, you need to know what you need on your website. This can be hard, but worth thinking through beforehand.  But some skills that they should definitely know include: HTML, CSS and JavaScript.  It is important to note that there is the possibility that one person might know a wide range of technologies and programming languages (like PHP, Flash, Ajax, SEO, graphics creation, content writing), it is NOT likely that they will know them all well.  If they tell you they don’t like JavaScript, so they sub-contract all JavaScript work out to someone else, you should consider this a bonus. They know their weaknesses and have figured out a way to work around them.

Designer Experience…while experience can be useful, it can also be a drawback. Just because a designer has less experience doesn’t mean that he or she can’t build a beautiful site for you. Before you base your decision solely on how many sites they’ve built or how long they’ve been in business, think about this:

  • Many long-time designers are stuck in their habits and might not be willing or able to give you a cutting edge website (if that’s what you want).
  • Younger designers are more likely to have gone to school to get a Web design degree. While this isn’t vital either, it does tell you that this person has academic knowledge that an older designer might only have through practice.

Designer Fees…the same rule applies here as with anywhere, “you will probably get what you pay for”.  “Free” means you’ll get a very bad site or very very little, or maybe you’ll get a good site, and then when you ask them to make one change they’ll never answer your calls.  Volunteering and barter is different than free. If you run a non-profit, you might be able to find a Web designer to volunteer time for your website. If you offer a service that is valuable to the designer, you may be able to trade for their web services.

Remember, web design is a specific expertise that only a qualified and trained individual can deliver.  If you need a plumber, you don’t call a florist.  If you need an electrician, you don’t call a hairdresser.  The world wide web might be somewhat new and you may be wary of how to navigate the process of entering it….but you will probably need the expertise of a qualified individual or company to help you, web design is a specific skill set like any other specialized trade.

Read more helpful information on hiring a web designer at about.com>>>

What does your website say about YOUR business?

I am not sure what is worse, an ugly website or a website where you can’t find what you’re looking for.  Probably they are equally bad.  The world wide web is chalk full of aesthetic and functional violations.  On the other hand, many small businesses do not even have a website.  More on that later.

So, what does your website say about you?  About your business?  How would you describe your current “web presence”?  How would others describe it?  Is the current description exactly what you want to portray to anyone and everyone who can find you online?  Is your website easy to use and does it fulfill the function or purpose that you want it to?

Many businesses don’t need a fancy elaborate website, but they do need a user-friendly, functional, eye-pleasing and informative destination. If you think about it, would you ever hang an ugly sign on your store or office door?  Put a nasty billboard up for everyone to see?  Why, then, would you settle for an outdated, difficult to navigate website?  Your website can help or hurt your credibility with new potential clientele.

One type of project I take on a lot as a web developer are redesigns.  And a web redesign does not necessarily mean that the current website was poorly designed or built, it just means that it is important to keep up with the times and with the rapidly changing technology.  I even do redesigns for my own clients.  There are so many free and inexpensive tools out there for your website to utilize but if you don’t have the right kind of website, you won’t be able to access much of it, missing valuable time and opportunity to further your business.  And, just like fashion, clothing and home decor, styles change.  I am not saying that you need to keep up with the trendiest web features (in fact, I would probably advise against it) but you do need to make sure that you adopt a timeless, classic look and user-friendly functionality.

Shopping for web design services can be very intimidating, I know.  There are an awful lot of options, expenses and language that is difficult for most people to understand because it is so foreign to them.  If you need help weeding through your small business website needs and options available, please contact me, web consulting is another service I offer at a discounted rate.  I enjoy helping my clients evaluate and strategize so they can discover what they want their web presence to say to the world about their business.  However, if you are even considering hiring me for the redesign of your website, you can consult with me absolutely free!