9 Reasons you should switch to WordPress for your service based business

light blue flowers held by brunette lady in a pink dress - 9 reasons you should switch to WordPress for your Service based business

I hear a lot of reasons why people think they shouldn’t or can’t switch to WordPress for their website.

A lot of them are based on what they’ve heard other Content Management Systems or website providers say about WordPress.

But today I want to focus on the things that make WordPress an excellent choice for your service-based business and I’m going to focus on the features of WordPress rather than opinion based reasons.

Because ultimately I want you to have a great well functioning website for your business, not one that limits you or ends up costing you more than if you just hired a developer in the first place.

So let’s dive into the reasons.

More choice

When you have a WordPress self-hosted site that means you have more choice. You can choose who your host is, you can choose what kind of features you have, you can choose your theme.

You can choose to spend as much or as little $$ on it as you want.

More control over your content, hosting, design

Just like you have more choices you have more control over your content.

Want to export everything so you have a backup of your entire blog? No problem.

Find that your host doesn’t have the kind of support you need? No problem. You also can choose hosting services that don’t charge you more for more pageviews once you start driving traffic to your site.

There are a TON of free WordPress themes fully designed paid for themes, custom developers, and the sky is the limit for making your design come to life. Your website can look/feel/function the way you want it to.

More features

Because of the way WordPress is built there is a wide range of features that you can add to your site through plugins. Again a lot of these are free plugins or low in price because of the open source nature of the platform.

That means that if you have an idea or want your website to do specific things there is more than likely a plugin out there that does it already and you don’t have to know code to make it work.

Room for growth

Another thing that WordPress does better than any other platform is that it is set up for growth. You aren’t limited in any way shape or form by what your website can do.

You can start out with a single landing page, then grow to have a blog, then find add in a membership site all in the same platform.

It’s great for your long-term planning especially if you know you want to implement different features down the road.

Easy to update your content

Because WordPress is a Content management site it is easy to update the content on it. You don’t have to go into the code and mess around with finding the <p> tag and adding different styling to it.

You can even get themes that are based on Drag & Drop builders like Visual Composer & Divi that let you move things around and make adjustments to your “static” pages quickly and easily.

Plus, don’t believe the hype that you can’t use WordPress (you don’t even need to know code. There may be a learning curve while you are figuring out the administration panel for your WordPress but that is like most things when you first start to learn them.

You really don’t need to dig around in the code, unless you really want to.

Set up for SEO from the start even before you use plugins to enhance your SEO

Now, this is one that is really cool. WordPress because of the way it is organized in the code your content is already optimized for Search Engines to crawl it.

That way as long as you are focusing on adding quality content consistently to your site you are already ahead of the SEO game.

And then you can take it further and get a tool to help you optimize even more.

Lots of Integrations with other services and software

This goes along with a couple of the topics above like more features and room for growth but here I want to talk about outside services that are already integrated with WordPress and the set up on these plugins is basically just connecting your account.

Like MailMunch. This plugin is a wonderful opt-in plugin that allows you to create pop-ups, top bars, blog post opt-ins, and landing pages directly in your admin panel. Then all you have to do is connect it with your email marketing provider and boom your opt-ins are adding people to your list. No exporting and importing it’s all automatic.

There are lots of integrations already out there this was just one example.

Active and thriving community for support

Now if you do run into a problem, have a question, or want to dig into the code. There is an active community ready to help you.

I hear a lot that WordPress doesn’t offer support. And while that is true, WordPress itself does not there is a huge community of designers, developers, forums, and websites dedicated to WordPress. You can find just about any answer you need with a few minutes of searching.

 

Post title - 9 reasons you should switch to WordPress for your Service based business
Pink flannel blanket - 9 reasons you should switch to WordPress for your Service based business
Post title - 9 reasons you should switch to WordPress for your Service based business
light blue flowers held by brunette lady in a pink dress - 9 reasons you should switch to WordPress for your Service based business

Web Basics Series: Why you need to care for your website and not fix it and forget it

When was the last time you looked at your website? Like really looked it over and not just added another blog post? Websites need love and caring just like a garden, this is what you need to do after you launch it to continue caring for it. One of the benefits of continuing website care is that you know it is always accurate. Many times we get busy working with clients and forget to make adjustments to our own stuff even if our business has changed.

Often we get our websites up, it was quite a journey, and now you want to sit back and focus on other things. While this is true for a time you still need to care for your site over the long term to keep it working for you!

There are a lot of strategies that you can use to help keep your website up to date. You can set appointments with yourself to spend some time reviewing your site. You can spend a little time each morning. Or plan for a big review twice a year but the important thing is to revisit your site and click around because websites change. Especially in today’s web world where you are relying on so much data being served to your website if one of those things quit working it will quit working for your site.

Review your site regularly

I’m sure you’ve had this happen either on your site or someone else’s site where you get intrigued by this headline and click to read more only to be taken to a page that says the content doesn’t exist. Eek! None of us want that to happen on our site. So regularly revisiting your site can help you notice when this happens and get it fixed faster.

Review your site a few times a year and adjust copy/photos etc based on where you are now in business, also check and make sure links are going where you want. AND that you don’t have dead links. Also, if you spend a little time with your copy/photos/services/offerings then you won’t end up with a huge mess on your hands after adding and adding to your website. As we grow, sometimes we and our business could change week by week and you may be presenting offers in places that you no longer wish to offer or maybe your prices changed and you get in a weird spot when someone asks you why there is a discrepancy.

Update your software

You’ll want to make sure you update your website software. This will help prevent security leaks and keep your website up and running.  If you are using a hosting/website service for your site then you might not have to worry about this one. But definitely, if you are hosting your own you will want to make sure things are up to date to prevent security vulnerabilities from becoming a nightmare.

Perform and save backups regularly

Backups and security. Don’t hope and pray nothing will happen to you, make sure you are covered in case anything happens. Because you and I know when technology is involved things happen. Check with your hosting or if you have WordPress install the plugin Jetpack and configure the backups in there.

When was the last time you refreshed your website and gave it a little care? Comment below!


Want to make sure your homepage is ship shape? Download my Ultimate Homepage Checklist in the free resource library today! All you have to do for access is enter your information below!

Web Basics Series: 5 tips for making your website look more professional

5 tips for making your website look more professionalGet your website looking professional this week without starting from scratch!

I hear it all the time from people in Facebook groups, friends who run online businesses and clients. They aren’t proud of their site. It feels off and they aren’t putting it out there yet and getting noticed. If you aren’t using the biggest piece of your online presence, your website, fully then it is time to make a change.
It’s ok to make changes and adjustments as you go. The only thing that is not ok to do is to keep putting off working on it because you don’t know where to start or you don’t want to get sucked down the rabbit hole and spend months making adjustments. I’ve got a list of 5 easy things you can do to make your website look more professional without completely starting from scratch!

Do you have a custom domain for your site?

A custom domain does wonders. For example, a custom domain looks like this  “yourname.com” and it looks more professional and polished than “yourname.example.com”. The example part of that domain, if you have it is probably the website hosting you are using like: wix, weebly, squarespace, wordpress or many others. Most of those services will allow you to buy a custom domain through them so that you get to remove their name from your URL, but you might want to consider going through a separate service to purchase your domain name. See more on custom domains in the first part of this series here.

Even if you are a DIY website maker with one of these services it is extremely important to have a custom domain for your website because it signals to visitors and potential clients that you are professional and serious about your online business in a very subtle way.

Get a custom favicon uploaded

Don’t know what a favicon is? I bet you have a bunch of tabs open right now in your browser. It is the little image in that tab next to the name of the website.  Your favicon is going to be a simple version of logo mark because a favicon can only be 16px by 16px and detail gets lost at that small size.

If you are using a WordPress website you can install a plugin that makes the process easy. Just install the plugin, upload your file and you are good to go.

White space is king

Use white space. Above the fold is a thing of the past with all the different screen sizes these days. But one thing that does make a huge difference between a professional website and one that needs a little tweaking is white space. White space is the spacing around elements on your website and gives people’s eyes a chance to breathe and take in the information.

Above the fold is a thing of the past with all the different screen sizes these days, it’s still important to have the most important information higher on the page but not everything has to fit above the fold. But one thing that does make a huge visual difference between a professional website and one that needs a little tweaking is the use of white space. White space is the spacing around elements on your website and gives people’s eyes a chance to breathe and take in the information.

Go take a look at yahoo news and see what I mean. This kind of website is known for jamming everything together but it does make it hard to know what information is the most important, what you should be looking at and is visually congested. So give your content some space and let the important information stand out!

Take time to review your content regularly

Review your content. Make sure your website’s copy is fresh and up to date. If you have changed your programs details make sure they are correct on their sales pages, etc.

I know I’m guilty of the set it and forget it approach to my website sometimes. I get a new sales page put up and then never take another look at it. Often we only ever take another look when someone brings something to our attention. I have a billion and one other things on my to-do list and when I get something marked off I don’t often go back to it.

But this is a habit that is good for you and your business. Schedule a little time at the end of each quarter to review the content and graphics you are using. Make sure it is all up to date, that your program details are still correct, your bonuses or extras are still correct and that you are still in LOVE with your offerings.

Use professional photos of yourself

Use pro photos of yourself. Using a blurry and strangely cropped photo to get that person you posed without of the frame is not a professional looking headshot. Make sure it is just you, clear and bright enough that we know it is you!

This doesn’t mean that you have to run out and hire a professional, although this would guarantee that your images are consistent, clear and on point for your websites. You can make due with cell phone pictures. Just keep these things in mind.

Make sure you are the subject of the photo.

Keep the background distraction free.

Make sure the lighting is bright and you don’t have any crazy shadows going on.

Every single photo you use needs to be clear and not blurry.

And when the time comes and you can afford a photoshoot. Do it you won’t regret it. Your photographer will work with you to bring your vision for your photos to life and make you look your best!

It’s all in the details

Even if you think people don’t notice small things like your domain name they do, especially when it comes time to type your website into their search bar from memory. You might be making it even harder on people trying to find you if you’re website is yourname.XYZDOMAIN.com rather than just your business name. These small tweaks will make a huge impact in making your online presence more professional when you are starting out!

What will change for your business with a more professional website? Comment below!

 

Web Basics Series: What is the difference in WordPress.com/WordPress.org and how does Squarespace fit in??

It’s week two of my website basics series. This week we are talking about platforms for your website and how to choose which one is right for you!! Let’s get to it!

So MANY PLATFORMS… and how to choose…

When I first started in the online world I had Blogger blog. I thought I was the “bee’s knees” I could choose a theme and write till my heart’s content. It was like 5 posts in that I realized that I wanted this whole web presence to be a thing for me and I was going to need more than Blogger offered in features. I then graduated to a WordPress.com site. It was a step up it offered a lot of features without being overwhelming for me, but then before long I needed, even more, features and I made my final transition to a self-hosted custom coded WordPress website.

So the whole point of that story was to say…it’s a journey. Whatever path you take to get to what resources you need is perfectly fine. And while one platform is perfect for you now it may not be in the future for a host of reasons. And wherever you are if it is working for you then that is exactly where you need to be.

Content Management Systems

So all these services fall under the category of Content Management Systems or CMS. They allow you to manage the content on your website without digging into the code. Some of them let you see under the hood and tinker around while others make everything clickable or drag and drop and keep you from accessing the code.

But what do you need and why are there so many WordPresses?

Let’s start with WordPress.com

WordPress.com is hosted on WordPresses servers. They control the code and only have hundreds of templates that you can choose from for free and upgrade your account as you grow to get more control over your site. They take care of everything other than the content for you. You can pay a small monthly fee to get a custom domain name from them or use a yourname.wordpress.com domain for free.

This platform is great for beginners who aren’t afraid to dig in and try stuff. You aren’t going to mess anything up, the system will warn you before hand.

What make’s WordPress.org different?

WordPress.org is self-hosted. You get complete control over every bit of your site and what themes you can add. If you wanted to venture into the code, for whatever reason, you could. You would need to get hosting and a domain name set up.

Now WordPress has come a long way since it’s early days when it got the reputation for being difficult to work with. At that point, you did have to know some code in order to make your website your own. But now there are so many themes/plugins available that you don’t even have to know any code to have a WordPress website. One of the great things about the WordPress platform is that it is open source.

Open source means that the code is free and available for independent developers to make plugins and themes without having a fee they have to pay. This means that often developers create a plugin(Plugins are add-ons that extend the features of your website without having to write code) that extends the functionality of WordPress and then put it out for you to use for free. WordPress has a huge library of free plugins and themes that will get you up and running without coding…unless you want to which is another story.

And what about Squarespace?

Squarespace is very similar to WordPress.com they take care of everything, you can choose a template to customize inside the admin panel. You will not need separate hosting for a Squarespace website becuase they host the files for you on their servers. The biggest difference is that Squarespace doesn’t have as large a library of plugins as the WordPress community. This keeps the choices involved with setting up a Squarespace site minimal and will not overwhelm you with all the choices.

If you need to tweak the design slightly Squarespace does offer the ability to add custom styling through CSS.  You are limited in having access to the source code and cannot make major changes to your site. This is fine for most websites but if you dream of having a website that offers something a little different you might run into problems making it happen.

Keep in mind…

Read the terms of service with any platform that is hosting your site for you and be aware of what they do with your content and your account. Just because you are paying for a site with a platform does not mean that you own your website, you may just own your content. Be very careful when reading through the Terms of Service of a platform.

How do you decide??

Think about how important the flexibility of your site is to you. What tools are important to you as you grow your business? Is the platform going to fill your needs on all the important parts to you?

There are pros and cons to each platform and if you google WordPress vs. Squarespace you are going to find a lot of arguments on each side.

WordPress is much more flexible in terms of growth than Squarespace, despite its slight learning curve.  If you are absolute beginner Squarespace will get you up and running quickly. You need to keep mind that each of these platforms has their place along your entrepreneurial journey. Your needs will change as you grow your online business and you find you need more or less flexibility with your site.

And the in the world of technology things are changing daily. Website building services are constantly updating their code with new features and usability adjustments.


Get access to my Ultimate Homepage Checklist in the Free Resource Library. Get access below!

Better Student Housing Branding & Web Design

BSHMockupGuys! I just finished up the website for this project and I’m so excited! It’s for a Student Housing Rental business in Muncie, Indiana (where I attended school) that is shaking things up in the housing community. They are working with local businesses to offer discounts and amenities to their tenants even though they don’t have typical apartment community amenities.

We had several things to consider during the initial planning process like making it so that available properties were highlighted to get it rented quicker, filtering the properties to different pages so that all the 1 bedroom apartments were together on the same page and so on. It was also important that the site look up to date and really make it stand out against some of the larger property management websites.

To help it stand out we chose a nice clean full-width design that heavily relies on the images from the properties as well as pictures around Ball State Unversity’s campus. I created this website in WordPress so that the client can easily update it or add in property listings. It is also fully responsive.

MobileFriendly

 

BSH_Styleguide

The branding for this project was also fun to work on. I wanted to highlight the fact that these rentals are homes so I started with sketching up logos with houses as imagery. The House in some cases looked a little bland so I added in a key to give it some visual interest, other than windows and doors. The key gives it great visual interest that scales well without losing the detail of the key inside the building.

 

Let's Work Together!

Have a project you want us to discuss about? Feel free to get in touch:

9 Reasons you should switch to WordPress for your service based business

light blue flowers held by brunette lady in a pink dress - 9 reasons you should switch to WordPress for your Service based business

I hear a lot of reasons why people think they shouldn’t or can’t switch to WordPress for their website.

A lot of them are based on what they’ve heard other Content Management Systems or website providers say about WordPress.

But today I want to focus on the things that make WordPress an excellent choice for your service-based business and I’m going to focus on the features of WordPress rather than opinion based reasons.

Because ultimately I want you to have a great well functioning website for your business, not one that limits you or ends up costing you more than if you just hired a developer in the first place.

So let’s dive into the reasons.

More choice

When you have a WordPress self-hosted site that means you have more choice. You can choose who your host is, you can choose what kind of features you have, you can choose your theme.

You can choose to spend as much or as little $$ on it as you want.

More control over your content, hosting, design

Just like you have more choices you have more control over your content.

Want to export everything so you have a backup of your entire blog? No problem.

Find that your host doesn’t have the kind of support you need? No problem. You also can choose hosting services that don’t charge you more for more pageviews once you start driving traffic to your site.

There are a TON of free WordPress themes fully designed paid for themes, custom developers, and the sky is the limit for making your design come to life. Your website can look/feel/function the way you want it to.

More features

Because of the way WordPress is built there is a wide range of features that you can add to your site through plugins. Again a lot of these are free plugins or low in price because of the open source nature of the platform.

That means that if you have an idea or want your website to do specific things there is more than likely a plugin out there that does it already and you don’t have to know code to make it work.

Room for growth

Another thing that WordPress does better than any other platform is that it is set up for growth. You aren’t limited in any way shape or form by what your website can do.

You can start out with a single landing page, then grow to have a blog, then find add in a membership site all in the same platform.

It’s great for your long-term planning especially if you know you want to implement different features down the road.

Easy to update your content

Because WordPress is a Content management site it is easy to update the content on it. You don’t have to go into the code and mess around with finding the <p> tag and adding different styling to it.

You can even get themes that are based on Drag & Drop builders like Visual Composer & Divi that let you move things around and make adjustments to your “static” pages quickly and easily.

Plus, don’t believe the hype that you can’t use WordPress (you don’t even need to know code. There may be a learning curve while you are figuring out the administration panel for your WordPress but that is like most things when you first start to learn them.

You really don’t need to dig around in the code, unless you really want to.

Set up for SEO from the start even before you use plugins to enhance your SEO

Now, this is one that is really cool. WordPress because of the way it is organized in the code your content is already optimized for Search Engines to crawl it.

That way as long as you are focusing on adding quality content consistently to your site you are already ahead of the SEO game.

And then you can take it further and get a tool to help you optimize even more.

Lots of Integrations with other services and software

This goes along with a couple of the topics above like more features and room for growth but here I want to talk about outside services that are already integrated with WordPress and the set up on these plugins is basically just connecting your account.

Like MailMunch. This plugin is a wonderful opt-in plugin that allows you to create pop-ups, top bars, blog post opt-ins, and landing pages directly in your admin panel. Then all you have to do is connect it with your email marketing provider and boom your opt-ins are adding people to your list. No exporting and importing it’s all automatic.

There are lots of integrations already out there this was just one example.

Active and thriving community for support

Now if you do run into a problem, have a question, or want to dig into the code. There is an active community ready to help you.

I hear a lot that WordPress doesn’t offer support. And while that is true, WordPress itself does not there is a huge community of designers, developers, forums, and websites dedicated to WordPress. You can find just about any answer you need with a few minutes of searching.

 

Post title - 9 reasons you should switch to WordPress for your Service based business
Pink flannel blanket - 9 reasons you should switch to WordPress for your Service based business
Post title - 9 reasons you should switch to WordPress for your Service based business
light blue flowers held by brunette lady in a pink dress - 9 reasons you should switch to WordPress for your Service based business

Web Basics Series: Why you need to care for your website and not fix it and forget it

When was the last time you looked at your website? Like really looked it over and not just added another blog post? Websites need love and caring just like a garden, this is what you need to do after you launch it to continue caring for it. One of the benefits of continuing website care is that you know it is always accurate. Many times we get busy working with clients and forget to make adjustments to our own stuff even if our business has changed.

Often we get our websites up, it was quite a journey, and now you want to sit back and focus on other things. While this is true for a time you still need to care for your site over the long term to keep it working for you!

There are a lot of strategies that you can use to help keep your website up to date. You can set appointments with yourself to spend some time reviewing your site. You can spend a little time each morning. Or plan for a big review twice a year but the important thing is to revisit your site and click around because websites change. Especially in today’s web world where you are relying on so much data being served to your website if one of those things quit working it will quit working for your site.

Review your site regularly

I’m sure you’ve had this happen either on your site or someone else’s site where you get intrigued by this headline and click to read more only to be taken to a page that says the content doesn’t exist. Eek! None of us want that to happen on our site. So regularly revisiting your site can help you notice when this happens and get it fixed faster.

Review your site a few times a year and adjust copy/photos etc based on where you are now in business, also check and make sure links are going where you want. AND that you don’t have dead links. Also, if you spend a little time with your copy/photos/services/offerings then you won’t end up with a huge mess on your hands after adding and adding to your website. As we grow, sometimes we and our business could change week by week and you may be presenting offers in places that you no longer wish to offer or maybe your prices changed and you get in a weird spot when someone asks you why there is a discrepancy.

Update your software

You’ll want to make sure you update your website software. This will help prevent security leaks and keep your website up and running.  If you are using a hosting/website service for your site then you might not have to worry about this one. But definitely, if you are hosting your own you will want to make sure things are up to date to prevent security vulnerabilities from becoming a nightmare.

Perform and save backups regularly

Backups and security. Don’t hope and pray nothing will happen to you, make sure you are covered in case anything happens. Because you and I know when technology is involved things happen. Check with your hosting or if you have WordPress install the plugin Jetpack and configure the backups in there.

When was the last time you refreshed your website and gave it a little care? Comment below!


Want to make sure your homepage is ship shape? Download my Ultimate Homepage Checklist in the free resource library today! All you have to do for access is enter your information below!

Web Basics Series: 5 tips for making your website look more professional

5 tips for making your website look more professionalGet your website looking professional this week without starting from scratch!

I hear it all the time from people in Facebook groups, friends who run online businesses and clients. They aren’t proud of their site. It feels off and they aren’t putting it out there yet and getting noticed. If you aren’t using the biggest piece of your online presence, your website, fully then it is time to make a change.
It’s ok to make changes and adjustments as you go. The only thing that is not ok to do is to keep putting off working on it because you don’t know where to start or you don’t want to get sucked down the rabbit hole and spend months making adjustments. I’ve got a list of 5 easy things you can do to make your website look more professional without completely starting from scratch!

Do you have a custom domain for your site?

A custom domain does wonders. For example, a custom domain looks like this  “yourname.com” and it looks more professional and polished than “yourname.example.com”. The example part of that domain, if you have it is probably the website hosting you are using like: wix, weebly, squarespace, wordpress or many others. Most of those services will allow you to buy a custom domain through them so that you get to remove their name from your URL, but you might want to consider going through a separate service to purchase your domain name. See more on custom domains in the first part of this series here.

Even if you are a DIY website maker with one of these services it is extremely important to have a custom domain for your website because it signals to visitors and potential clients that you are professional and serious about your online business in a very subtle way.

Get a custom favicon uploaded

Don’t know what a favicon is? I bet you have a bunch of tabs open right now in your browser. It is the little image in that tab next to the name of the website.  Your favicon is going to be a simple version of logo mark because a favicon can only be 16px by 16px and detail gets lost at that small size.

If you are using a WordPress website you can install a plugin that makes the process easy. Just install the plugin, upload your file and you are good to go.

White space is king

Use white space. Above the fold is a thing of the past with all the different screen sizes these days. But one thing that does make a huge difference between a professional website and one that needs a little tweaking is white space. White space is the spacing around elements on your website and gives people’s eyes a chance to breathe and take in the information.

Above the fold is a thing of the past with all the different screen sizes these days, it’s still important to have the most important information higher on the page but not everything has to fit above the fold. But one thing that does make a huge visual difference between a professional website and one that needs a little tweaking is the use of white space. White space is the spacing around elements on your website and gives people’s eyes a chance to breathe and take in the information.

Go take a look at yahoo news and see what I mean. This kind of website is known for jamming everything together but it does make it hard to know what information is the most important, what you should be looking at and is visually congested. So give your content some space and let the important information stand out!

Take time to review your content regularly

Review your content. Make sure your website’s copy is fresh and up to date. If you have changed your programs details make sure they are correct on their sales pages, etc.

I know I’m guilty of the set it and forget it approach to my website sometimes. I get a new sales page put up and then never take another look at it. Often we only ever take another look when someone brings something to our attention. I have a billion and one other things on my to-do list and when I get something marked off I don’t often go back to it.

But this is a habit that is good for you and your business. Schedule a little time at the end of each quarter to review the content and graphics you are using. Make sure it is all up to date, that your program details are still correct, your bonuses or extras are still correct and that you are still in LOVE with your offerings.

Use professional photos of yourself

Use pro photos of yourself. Using a blurry and strangely cropped photo to get that person you posed without of the frame is not a professional looking headshot. Make sure it is just you, clear and bright enough that we know it is you!

This doesn’t mean that you have to run out and hire a professional, although this would guarantee that your images are consistent, clear and on point for your websites. You can make due with cell phone pictures. Just keep these things in mind.

Make sure you are the subject of the photo.

Keep the background distraction free.

Make sure the lighting is bright and you don’t have any crazy shadows going on.

Every single photo you use needs to be clear and not blurry.

And when the time comes and you can afford a photoshoot. Do it you won’t regret it. Your photographer will work with you to bring your vision for your photos to life and make you look your best!

It’s all in the details

Even if you think people don’t notice small things like your domain name they do, especially when it comes time to type your website into their search bar from memory. You might be making it even harder on people trying to find you if you’re website is yourname.XYZDOMAIN.com rather than just your business name. These small tweaks will make a huge impact in making your online presence more professional when you are starting out!

What will change for your business with a more professional website? Comment below!

 

Web Basics Series: What is the difference in WordPress.com/WordPress.org and how does Squarespace fit in??

It’s week two of my website basics series. This week we are talking about platforms for your website and how to choose which one is right for you!! Let’s get to it!

So MANY PLATFORMS… and how to choose…

When I first started in the online world I had Blogger blog. I thought I was the “bee’s knees” I could choose a theme and write till my heart’s content. It was like 5 posts in that I realized that I wanted this whole web presence to be a thing for me and I was going to need more than Blogger offered in features. I then graduated to a WordPress.com site. It was a step up it offered a lot of features without being overwhelming for me, but then before long I needed, even more, features and I made my final transition to a self-hosted custom coded WordPress website.

So the whole point of that story was to say…it’s a journey. Whatever path you take to get to what resources you need is perfectly fine. And while one platform is perfect for you now it may not be in the future for a host of reasons. And wherever you are if it is working for you then that is exactly where you need to be.

Content Management Systems

So all these services fall under the category of Content Management Systems or CMS. They allow you to manage the content on your website without digging into the code. Some of them let you see under the hood and tinker around while others make everything clickable or drag and drop and keep you from accessing the code.

But what do you need and why are there so many WordPresses?

Let’s start with WordPress.com

WordPress.com is hosted on WordPresses servers. They control the code and only have hundreds of templates that you can choose from for free and upgrade your account as you grow to get more control over your site. They take care of everything other than the content for you. You can pay a small monthly fee to get a custom domain name from them or use a yourname.wordpress.com domain for free.

This platform is great for beginners who aren’t afraid to dig in and try stuff. You aren’t going to mess anything up, the system will warn you before hand.

What make’s WordPress.org different?

WordPress.org is self-hosted. You get complete control over every bit of your site and what themes you can add. If you wanted to venture into the code, for whatever reason, you could. You would need to get hosting and a domain name set up.

Now WordPress has come a long way since it’s early days when it got the reputation for being difficult to work with. At that point, you did have to know some code in order to make your website your own. But now there are so many themes/plugins available that you don’t even have to know any code to have a WordPress website. One of the great things about the WordPress platform is that it is open source.

Open source means that the code is free and available for independent developers to make plugins and themes without having a fee they have to pay. This means that often developers create a plugin(Plugins are add-ons that extend the features of your website without having to write code) that extends the functionality of WordPress and then put it out for you to use for free. WordPress has a huge library of free plugins and themes that will get you up and running without coding…unless you want to which is another story.

And what about Squarespace?

Squarespace is very similar to WordPress.com they take care of everything, you can choose a template to customize inside the admin panel. You will not need separate hosting for a Squarespace website becuase they host the files for you on their servers. The biggest difference is that Squarespace doesn’t have as large a library of plugins as the WordPress community. This keeps the choices involved with setting up a Squarespace site minimal and will not overwhelm you with all the choices.

If you need to tweak the design slightly Squarespace does offer the ability to add custom styling through CSS.  You are limited in having access to the source code and cannot make major changes to your site. This is fine for most websites but if you dream of having a website that offers something a little different you might run into problems making it happen.

Keep in mind…

Read the terms of service with any platform that is hosting your site for you and be aware of what they do with your content and your account. Just because you are paying for a site with a platform does not mean that you own your website, you may just own your content. Be very careful when reading through the Terms of Service of a platform.

How do you decide??

Think about how important the flexibility of your site is to you. What tools are important to you as you grow your business? Is the platform going to fill your needs on all the important parts to you?

There are pros and cons to each platform and if you google WordPress vs. Squarespace you are going to find a lot of arguments on each side.

WordPress is much more flexible in terms of growth than Squarespace, despite its slight learning curve.  If you are absolute beginner Squarespace will get you up and running quickly. You need to keep mind that each of these platforms has their place along your entrepreneurial journey. Your needs will change as you grow your online business and you find you need more or less flexibility with your site.

And the in the world of technology things are changing daily. Website building services are constantly updating their code with new features and usability adjustments.


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Better Student Housing Branding & Web Design

BSHMockupGuys! I just finished up the website for this project and I’m so excited! It’s for a Student Housing Rental business in Muncie, Indiana (where I attended school) that is shaking things up in the housing community. They are working with local businesses to offer discounts and amenities to their tenants even though they don’t have typical apartment community amenities.

We had several things to consider during the initial planning process like making it so that available properties were highlighted to get it rented quicker, filtering the properties to different pages so that all the 1 bedroom apartments were together on the same page and so on. It was also important that the site look up to date and really make it stand out against some of the larger property management websites.

To help it stand out we chose a nice clean full-width design that heavily relies on the images from the properties as well as pictures around Ball State Unversity’s campus. I created this website in WordPress so that the client can easily update it or add in property listings. It is also fully responsive.

MobileFriendly

 

BSH_Styleguide

The branding for this project was also fun to work on. I wanted to highlight the fact that these rentals are homes so I started with sketching up logos with houses as imagery. The House in some cases looked a little bland so I added in a key to give it some visual interest, other than windows and doors. The key gives it great visual interest that scales well without losing the detail of the key inside the building.

 

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