It’s a New Year, and with it, you may have gained a new responsibility – the company website. Now if the website has been a bit of ‘hot potato’ within the business, then things could be a little disorganised.

Now, even if you think things are sorted, there’s all of those things you ‘don’t know you don’t know’ and that can catch you out.

So here’s our guide you can work through to make sure you are all sorted for 2017.

Where to Start

It can be stressful managing a website, but you are not alone – as there are lots of professionals out there waiting to support you – you just need to know what it is you need and want and who has been doing what for you. So:

  1. Gather up all the important technical and administrative information (logins)
  2. Work out who should be consulted on the website changes
  3. Review the website, – is the website meeting the needs of the business and is the information current?

Gathering important information

The Web Design company

Most web companies are not proactive in contacting existing clients as are often too focused on new work. Call and introduce yourself and ask if there are updates they would recommend?

  • Find out what it costs to do basic updates  (expect to pay anywhere from $65 to $180 + GST per hour for website updates (advanced work can be more)
  • Is there any content management with the website?

Website Hosting:

Website hosting is storing the website files on a computer that is permanently connected to the internet. Charges for hosting can vary – it could be a flat rate or based on data stored on the web server (disk space) and data transferred by people visiting the site (web traffic).  Hosting has become something of a commodity recently, with large multinational companies swallowing up smaller hosting companies – so don’t be surprised if your hosting firm has been bought out (even in New Zealand).

Find out:

  • Who is hosting the website? It could be your website designer or it may be another company altogether
  • How much does the web hosting cost? Is it an annual or monthly fee?
  • How does the web hosting get renewed?
  • What are the hosting limits? (this is the space allocated to your website)

To find out who is hosting a website you can use this service: http://www.whoishostingthis.com

Domain names:

It’s vital that you’ve got your domain name registrations sorted and under control as the website can go offline if the domain name is not renewed. Worse still, your email can go offline too – so no company emails will be received and that’s a stressful situation to be in.

Find out:

  • When is the domain name up for renewal?
  • Is your business the legal registrant for the domain name? Sometimes the website designer is the legal registrant – which is not ideal and needs to be rectified asap
  • Do you have the UDAI code for your domain names? This is a digital code that allows you to move your New Zealand domains between registrars if you want to change registrar
  • The login details for the domain name registration company so you can login and renew your domain or give access to the domain records to IT professionals as needed
  • What email address is receiving the domain name renewal notifications? This is particularly important as if the email is no longer being used as you won’t be getting the renewal reminders – so the domain could expire.

To find out your domain name details, go to registerdirect.co.nz and do a search on your domain name (as if you were searching for one to buy). The next screen will show you the ‘whois’ information for the domain name, including the admin contact, date the domain will expire and who the registrar is. If you’ve used a personal address for your domain name registration, then yes, this is public information to those that know how to do a search.

The Website Review

The start of a new year is a great time to take a good look over the website and work out what your next steps should be. Staff are feeling refreshed and will hopefully have a ‘can do’ attitude – so lots can be achieved in the first quarter of the year.

Start by deciding who should be consulted about the website. It’s important to get the right people consulted at the beginning as it can be difficult to change things down the track if a key decision maker is not consulted.

So, who should be consulted?

  • Within your organisation – it might be your CEO, head of departments, marketing manager, sales manager, sales team, support staff
  • External parties – your clients / customers, advertising agency, copy writer, marketing consultant, photographer, web design company.
  • Who’s the final decision maker? Keep them informed and make sure they sign off on decisions as well.

Your web content:

Check:

  • Are ex-staff still on the team page, old offers still shown, outdated pricing or packages still displayed?
  • Is the overall look getting dated?
  • Is the look inline with brand guidelines, logo guides, specific colours?
  • Do you have better access to resources such as professional images?
  • Has the website kept up with technology?
  • Is the website generating enquiries?
  • Are you tracking visitors to the website via Google analytics or some other website statistics?

The Look of the Website

  • Websites can start to look ‘dated’ after 3-4 years.
  • Design trends change over time, desktop screens get bigger so websites get wider, fonts get bigger, and there are more fonts to choose from
  • Do you have better or newer resources? Nicer images, case studies, presentations, videos, testimonials.

The Technology behind the Website

  • Do you have a content management system?
  • Is it smart phone / Ipad friendly? Not sure? Time to check your website on a smart phone
  • Is it time for E-commerce?
  • Is the site linked up to social media sites?
  • Do you have a Facebook like box on the site?
  • Linked-In Link from the website?
  • YouTube Link from the website?

Content Management (Admin for your Website)

  • Content management allows you to login and make basic changes to the site (upload / insert images, update text, menus, pages). Common content management systems are WordPress, Joomla, Drupal (all open source)
  • Most websites will have content management, if not, it’s time to update to one that does so you can do your own website changes
  • Some website firms have their own CMS and you may be charged a monthly license fee to use it (pricing can vary considerably and in some respects you are possibly subsidising their internal product development)

Responsive Website Design – is your site mobile friendly

A responsive website is one that adapts to the size of the screen of the device (cell phone, tablet, monitor) accessing it. This is now an essential tool, and if your site is more than 3 years old, it may not be responsive. If it doesn’t read well on a mobile phone you will lose business, it’s as simple as that. Time to act on this is now!

Social Media Marketing

  • Review your current level of social media engagement – which social media sites are you on?
  • Who’s responsible for your social media marketing?
  • Is social media worth it? Are you getting a return on the investment of your time to do social media? (even if it’s free to use these sites – it’s still time-consuming)
  • Realistically, have you got the resources to feed the social media monster? If you are scratching around for content, it’s going to be a distraction.
  • Avoid a ‘me too’ mentality with social media and just do the ones that really make sense for your business.
  • It can be time consuming and there can be a lot of negativity with social media – so have some policies in place for how to deal with this.

Search Engine Optimisation

  • Can be found in Google for your business name?
  • Can be found in Google for several of your keyword phrases e.g. ‘Christchurch tax accountants’
  • Be aware that Google results are getting more and more personalised – so not everyone is seeing the same results
  • SEO is a vast area and hard to do well consistently – so you may need to get some expert assistance
  • If SEO offers from SEO companies sound too good to be true – they probably are (e.g. guaranteed placements on free Google search results) – this area is ripe for abuse from less savoury companies
  • Review any paid advertising you have on Google AdWords for example – or get an expert in to analyse things as you could be overpaying for those clicks

Are you getting the results you need?

Most sites exist to generate leads, so are you getting enquiries?

  • Are people calling you from the website and mentioning the website?
  • Are people subscribing to mailing lists on the site? Do you even have a mailing list form on the website?
  • Are people taking up offers advertised on the website?
  • Are you tracking website statistics? Google Analytics and web server statistics are options.

Other things to consider

  • Email marketing – building a mailing list is one of the best things you can do for your business. There are some excellent services that can link in with your website (e.g. mailchimp.com or www.activecampaign.com)
  • Legal obligations – do you have in place; privacy statements, terms and conditions of trade, are you meeting your obligations with the Fair Trading Act?
  • Logins – do you know all of the logins for different services – web hosting, website, email, domain name?

Security Issues

Security online is becoming complex and time consuming, with things changing very quickly. Websites are an attractive target for hackers as they can gain access to the website to distribute malware or display spam advertising.

  • Are you storing your login details securely? (ie using a password management service)
  • Does reception have the logins written down on post-it notes that are stuck to the monitor? This is terrible security.
  • Are you updating your passwords often?
  • Are your passwords complex and difficult to guess? Long and containing numbers and characters.
  • Do you have an active subscription to an internet security and antivirus service like Norton’s or AVG? This is vital – as websites can become infected with Malware that ends up on your PC and spreads via your network
  • CMS updates – is someone keeping your content management system (such as WordPress) up to date? If not, it can become vulnerable to being hacked. Look into a website care or support plan
  • Have you increased the security measures on your website?
    • SSL certificate (so a green lock is shown in the browser and your website address will be shown as https://www.mywebsite.co.nz)
    • Are you using two factor authentication for logging into your site (this is where you get emailed or text messaged a unique code and must use that in addition to your normal login)
    • Is a ReCaptcha used on your website to prove that the person logging in to the site is a human and not an automated bot?

Advanced Marketing

If you think you’ve got most things under control and working nicely, it might be time to consider doing some advanced marketing. Such as;

  • Automation of some emails via email marketing
    • On-boarding emails to new clients via a service like Active Campaign (sending a series of welcome emails)
    • Nurturing emails sent periodically and automatically to anyone who has shown interest in your service and signed up for a mailing list
    • Sending out an e-book or a voucher to anyone that signs up to your mailing list
    • Sending out birthday emails to your clients
  • Automatically posting your new blog posts to your social networks

Well, that’s quite a list to work through and should keep you busy for quite some time. I hope I’ve also given you some great ideas on how to move forward with your website.

If you need any assistance or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.