by Bill Rambo | May 17, 2020 | Consumer Trends, eCommerce, Email Campaigns, General, Local News, Website Maintenance
The coronavirus pandemic is a troubling time for local small businesses. Use your website to keep your operation running smoothly.
While the spring and summer of 2020 haven’t gone the way any of us in the business community might have planned, many businesses large and small are finding ways to adapt to an economy that seems to change daily. Practicing social distancing can be difficult while also trying to keep a business running. Use the tools you have available to make things easy and safe for your staff and customers.
Update crucial information on your website
Have your hours or availability changed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19? Have you closed your lobby or started offering curbside pickup? Be sure to update your website to reflect these changes. Update this information on your Contact Us and About Us pages. Add banners and other notes on your front page to be an eye-catching way to present the new information.
Remember that your customers aren’t just looking for this information directly on your website! Update this information on your Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. If you manage your Google Business listing update your hours and availability there. If you don’t mange your Google Business listing, now is the perfect time to get started on learning how to use this important tool.
Keep your customers informed with a pop-up
Pop-ups don’t have to be the same annoyance they were in the 1990’s and 2000’s. A well-designed and unobtrusive pop-up can be an easy way to communicate important information about COVID-19 policy changes to your customers. Plugins make it simple to make a pop-up box that blends in well with your website and won’t be in the way.
A well-placed pop-up combined with updated information throughout the site will make sure that anyone checking your site will know if you’re offering additional services during this complicated time.
Local businesses are offering curbside pickup to serve customers with less close contact.
Revitalize your business model with online ordering
During the pandemic many restaurants and businesses have switched to pickup and curbside service. You can streamline this process for your small business by setting up online ordering on your website. You can use forms to do anything from requesting pickup for an item, filling out an entire restaurant order, or even collecting payment online. Adapt your model to an online system to keep your employees and customers safe while keeping your doors open.
Use your mailing list to send updates
Have you been building a database of loyal customers in a mass emailer? Now is the perfect time to send messages to your users to let them know about changes in your hours and business practices. Restaurants offering specials and modified menus can use these email lists to get the word out. Combine mass emails with website changes and social media updates for an effective strategy.
Coming together as a community
If there’s any silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic for a business owner, it’s that many are turning to local businesses for support and normalcy during this time of uncertainty. A business that learns to adapt will emerge stronger and with a better grasp of how to use their website.
Contact ITD Interactive today if you want more information on how to update your website to keep your customers informed. Now is a great time to set up an online ordering system!
by Bill Rambo | Dec 3, 2019 | General, Security, Website Design, Website Maintenance, Websites
When you sign up with ITD Interactive for managed website hosting, you get more than just a place to put your files. You get security for your private information. You get a website that your customers can easily and quickly load. Most importantly, you get a guarantee that your website will keep working!
Our Servers Are Safe And Secure
We partner with WPEngine for our website hosting service. They only do WordPress hosting, which means they do one thing and they do it really well. They protect their servers with lots of methods such as (tech talk warning) intrusion detection, disk write protection and limitations, vulnerability scanning, and much more. WPEngine even lets us know when there are widespread security issues that we should look into. They’re serious about security and so are we.
Your Site Loads Quickly And Is Optimized For Mobile
One of the best things about WPEngine hosting for WordPress is the requirements they put on new sites. While it might take a little extra work to keep everything in line, it ensures your site loads quickly and efficiently every time. The servers are structured in a way that balances the data to lighten the impact on your site’s load time even during peak hours.
We Give You A Free SSL Certificate, Just Because
We offer a completely free and auto-renewing security certificate as part of our basic hosting package. This will keep your site secure and let your customers know your site is legitimate and professionally made. It also gets rid of that annoying popup in Chrome that could scare some potential customers away from your website!
If you’re running an eCommerce site you’ll want to consider a paid SSL certificate like those offered by GoDaddy and Network Solutions. These come with guarantees that will keep your site safe and offer compensation in the event of a security breach.
We Make Sure Your Website Keeps Working
It’s crucial as a website owner is that your site stays up and running all the time. What happens when a potential customer tries to open your website and nothing loads? They’re going to go somewhere else!
The most common reason for a site to stop working is related to automatic updates of the WordPress core or plugins. As a managed hosting customer you’ll always be protected from these issues. If you try to load your site and it’s not working, just drop us a note about it and we’ll check it out. If it’s because of an automatic update or something else that’s out of your control, we’ll get it fixed and make sure your site is up and running as expected with no extra charge.
It’s important to note that these fixes are only covered if it’s related to an issue that was out of the site owner’s control. If your site breaks because of something you were working on (editing core files, installing new plugins, etc.) we’ll still fix your site for you, but there may be a charge for the labor depending on what we have to do.
Your Site Gets Daily Backups (Just In Case)
We get it! Sometimes things just happen. In a worst-case scenario when a small change to your site breaks the whole thing with no easy way to fix it. With daily backups you’ll always be able to roll back your site to a previous backup of the site. Then we’ll be able to keep your site running while we investigate what caused the problem in an isolated environment.
If you’re ready to stop stressing about keeping your website up and running, get in touch with us! We’d love to talk to you about how managed hosting can make your life easier.
by Bill Rambo | Aug 20, 2019 | General, Mobile, Website Design, Website Maintenance, Website Maintenance Services, Websites
Website Maintenance That Won’t Crash Your Site!
Here at ITD Interactive we’ve had 20 years in the business of web development, website maintenance services, and website hosting for local clients and beyond. In that time we’ve also taken over some old websites that needed to be redone and spruced up. It’s in that work that we’ve come across many web design no-no’s that you should never do yourself.
Part of our standard web design package includes staff training so that our clients will always be able to update their own sites. While we’re happy to continue working on sites if needed, we don’t believe in forcing clients to use us exclusively for their maintenance and updates.
For those of you want to be adventurous and update your own sites, take a look through this list of what NOT to do first.
DON’T: Self-host a video for a website background
Using a video as a hero background is a great way to add motion and personality to your site. But be careful when setting it up – uploading your video directly to your media folder could bring your whole site down.
Look at it this way: on average a looped video file that’s been processed for use on the web is still going to be about 5 megabytes. If one or two people open your website and download that file, it’s no big deal. But if for some reason you get a rush of 200 people looking at your site all at once, suddenly 200 people are trying to download that 5mb file at the same time and using up a gigabyte of bandwidth. For many lower-end hosting plans that can be a huge chunk of your monthly allotted bandwidth, and using that much at once can even entirely crash your site so that nobody will be able to look at it without a time-consuming and expensive support call.
Do this instead: Plan ahead for these traffic rushes by using a third party site to host your video. Many slider plugins will let you easily paste in the URL of the video and display it perfectly on your slider without using any of your bandwidth. This should go for any video, not just backgrounds! There are plenty of great options available for video hosting like Vimeo or even YouTube.
DON’T: Upload full-size images
Just like self-hosted video files, it would only take a few huge images on your website for a traffic rush to bring your server to a crashing halt. Raw files that come straight off a phone or camera can be 10mb in size or greater, so uploading lots of these will burn through your allotted bandwidth and disk space more quickly that you can imagine. It’ll also drive your users crazy if they have to wait for huge files to download before the entire site can be seen, especially if they’re using a mobile phone on wireless data to view your site.
Do this instead: Process your images first before uploading by resizing and optimizing them in a program like Photoshop. If you don’t have access to Photoshop there are free alternatives online like Pixlr. For most uses your image shouldn’t need to be larger than 1920px on the longest side at 72 PPI, compared to the huge 2500px+/300 PPI files from your smartphone or camera. You can save your images in JPG format for most situations – you should only need a bulkier PNG or a GIF in special circumstances that require higher definition or a transparent background.
DON’T: Forget about the mobile version of your site
More than half of the visitors to your site will view it on a mobile device. Not only that, but Google now actively penalizes sites that aren’t optimized for use on mobile. It’s absolutely crucial to work on the mobile view of your site alongside the desktop view! Ignoring this step when adding or changing content will result in frustrated mobile users leaving your site and Google knocking it down in search engine ranking.
Do this instead: Always test your site in a mobile view when adding new content. Use a phone or tablet to open your site, or if you don’t have one available you can resize your browser window into a vertical ratio to get a good idea of how your site will look on a mobile device. Make changes as needed to make sure all of your content can be viewed and navigated normally.
These are a just few of the major no-no’s to watch out for in website maintenance, but believe us when we say there will always plenty more lurking. Keeping a website up and running with fresh content is crucial to any business
If maintaining your own website is becoming too much of a burden, talk to us about our maintenance plans!
We’ve got a package to fit any size business with any size budget and will work with you to make sure your website is always updated and filled with fresh content tailor made to boost your presence. Contact us today to find out how to get started.
by Bill Rambo | Jun 12, 2019 | Consumer Trends, General, Local SEO, SEO, SEO for Small Business, Social Networking, Web Marketing, Website Design, Website Maintenance, Website Maintenance Services
The business climate has been great for locally owned and operated businesses for the last several years. Many people feel a renewed sense of community. Supporting local small businesses is the perfect way to start loving where you live!
From restaurants and breweries to manufacturers and industrial facilities, local businesses are booming and they all have one thing in common: they need a well-designed website to stand out, search engine optimization to be found, and a social media strategy that will help them engage with the local market. That’s where your friendly neighborhood local web design and marketing firms like ITD Interactive come in!
Local Web Designers Understand Your Market and Customers
We understand your market because we are your market! We spend a lot of time examining and researching the local market for the same reason any local business does: to look for ways to expand our reach and find new customers. A local design firm will have a better understanding of how to reach local customers than a group from hundreds of miles away who may have never even stepped foot in your market before.
Here at ITD Interactive we always try to support our local businesses in the Tri-Cities. There’s no better way to understand how to reach customers of a business than to be a customer of that business yourself.
Local Web Designers Are a Part of Your Local Network
Since we all work in the same business community, there’s a good chance that we’ll know more than a few of the same people. This is a perfect opportunity to get real-world reviews. Just ask someone you know who’s worked with us! Every local business owner knows there’s no advertising better than good word-of-mouth. Take a look at our portfolio and testimonials to get an idea of who we’ve worked with.
Local Web Designers Are a Phone Call or Quick Trip Across Town Away
A quick Google search is all it takes to know there are a lot of options out there when it comes to building a website. There are definitely a lot of talented designers in the field. But there’s always a catch! If you’re a small business owner in Johnson City, TN and decide to go with a web design firm in Chicago or even somewhere a little closer like Asheville to build your site, you’ll always be working around their schedule. Designers in other cities often have a lot of local clients. They may even be in another time zone or work a totally different schedule. It may be difficult to get them on the phone if you have questions about your website or if your site is down and need to get it back up as soon as possible so you don’t lose any business.
ITD Interactive is a Proud Local Johnson City, TN Web Design Agency!
ITD Interactive is a local web site design firm. That means we’re within miles of any business in Johnson City and a short trip from Bristol, Kingsport, and the rest of the Tri-Cities area. We’re in the office normal hours every weekday and will respond to you within a business day if we happen to miss your call. When you need to see how something works you can drop by our office any time for a hands-on tutorial. If you’re lucky you’ll be here on a day that JC brings in her famous chocolate-chip cookies – we’re happy to share if there are any left!
If you’re in the Tri-Cities and are ready to see the difference in working with local, personable web designers drop us a line and let’s get to work!
by Bill Rambo | Oct 15, 2018 | Search Engine Optimization, Security, Uncategorized, Website Design, Website Maintenance
Why Does My Website Say ‘Not Secure’?
If you’re a Google Chrome user, you might have noticed your updated browser is now telling you that some sites are “Not Secure” in big red letters. If you’re a business owner with your own website that’s being flagged this might be even more concerning to you. If you’re wondering what this means and how you can fix it, read on for the full story about SSL and You!
Google announced in early 2018 that starting in July their Chrome browser, the most-used desktop browser by a wide margin, would start flagging unsecure sites that aren’t using HTTPS encryption. HTTPS in plain English is the secure version of HTTP, which is one of the basic ways websites are accessed on the internet. HTTPS normally uses SSL for encryption, one type of security certificate that keeps private information transmitted on your site safe from snooping middlemen.
Think about it this way: imagine HTTP is the front door of your business and it has a standard doorknob with a regular old lock on it that you keep locked after hours just in case. HTTPS is that same door but with extra deadbolts added on to beef up your security and keep criminals out.
That’s not to say that any site without HTTPS encryption is automatically in danger of door-kicking hackers! If your site isn’t using outdated contact forms to send private information such as Social Security Numbers, financial information, etc., your site and its users probably aren’t in any real immediate danger without an SSL certificate protecting your site. The reason Google is enforcing this new rule is to encourage site owners to make the switch to HTTPS to create a more secure web with secure and encrypted sites being the default, not the other way around. It’s a great idea in theory, but the only problem with that is many security certificates can be expensive and difficult to install and maintain, many requiring yearly renewals.
If you’re a small business owner who needs a website and you’re scratching your head about all of this, that’s where ITD Interactive comes in! Our standard hosting package for WordPress sites includes a 100% free SSL certificate that we install and maintain for you. You’ll be automatically upgraded to an HTTPS site without any hassle or yearly renewal fees. Your site will be more secure and your users who visit your site in Google Chrome won’t get that annoying message that implies that your site is not safe to visit. We can also offer more heavyweight worry-free SSL certificates for eCommerce and medical websites that need added protection for an added cost.
If you’ve already got a website you’re happy with, you can still take advantage of this offer. Switch to ITD Interactive hosting and we’ll move an exact copy of your WordPress site to our ultra-secure servers and get your free SSL certificate up and running in minutes. Click here for pricing and more information.
by Marcus Ledbetter | Sep 24, 2014 | Inbound Marketing, Website Design, Website Maintenance
Photo by Anne Thornlley / Flickr
If you are looking for the interweb’s most complete listing of ways for updating a website, you’ve hit the jackpot. Here are 23 ideas with in-depth descriptions (from guys who update websites for a living) and lots of links to live examples to get you moving. (more…)