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Introducing Industry Specific Solutions

For quite some time we have been developing websites for many different companies in all kinds of industries.  While doing so we have found that some industries need specific functionality in order to have an effective web presence.

For example, a Realestate agency or agent needs to be able to easily and effectively display the listings they have at any time.  However, they also need to be able to display them automatically on a map and have the agent’s social media and contact information on each one.  There are documents and brochures and any number of other things that need to be listed with each property as well as cross referencing each one depending on their amenities such as plot size and square footage.

Another example would be a restaurant.  Not only do they need to be able to display their menu and where they are located, but they might also want to have people be able to place an order for pickup or book a reservation online as well.

We developed, and are developing, systems with functionality specific to industries which need those kinds of unique systems.  Currently we have systems for the following industries, and are adding more all the time:

 

If you don’t see your industry on the list above, contact us! We would love to develop something that will suit your specific needs at a price that fits your budget.

The 5 Biggest Questions You Didn’t Ask Your Web Designer

Multiple racks of servers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The internet really is the weird world of the geek.  From DNS to WYSIWYG there is a unique language that only geeks seem to understand.  Unfortunately for the small business owner, they have to exist in that space… and it is not a normal environment for regular humans.  We pride ourselves at Your-Web-Guys in being a bridge between the weird world of the geek and the otherwise normal world of the average human.  So in that pursuit, I give you the 5 most important questions you should ask your web designer, but probably did not.

Question 1: Do I own my website?

Seems like a pretty straight forward question, doesn’t it?  I mean, it is your website, right?  RIGHT?!? Unfortunately it is not always a straightforward answer.  Many design firms will retain copyrights to your website or the intellectual property that it consists of.  Some will own your domain and you don’t even know it.  For the small business owner, a website just works… the details are for the geeks to deal with.  That’s fine… for a while.  But when you need to move or try to sell your company or any of the myriad things that need to happen during the lifetime of a small business it can bite you in the rear end.  Take a few moments to ask your web people if you own the website that they made for you.  It might surprise you to find out.

Question 2: Who owns my domain?

Something that many small business owners don’t understand is that their website (the files, data, and email) and their domain (the .com or .net etc) are different.  Not only are they different, but they have different parts that can be provided by different vendors.  For instance, the website and the email can be on different servers so your website is hosted by XYZ Hosting Ltd and your email is through ABC Exchange Servers Inc.  There are lots of other parts that can be done through different companies, but the most important is the registrar.  The registrar is who has to be paid to continue to use the domain.  Godaddy and Network Solutions are a couple of the larger registrars currently, but there are literally thousands of others.  If you cannot login to a control panel and pay for additional time to own your domain, don’t worry, you still might own it.  The actual owner of a domain is in what is called the whois data.  You can search for your whois data many places but this is the website we use.  Just click that link and enter your domain name to find out what is in your whois data.  One of the whois listings is the Registry Admin info.  If that has your email address in it then you own it, no matter what the registrar info says.  With that being said, it might take some effort to get access to it, but it is yours and yours alone… at least until whoever is paying for it currently stops doing so.

Question 3: Where is my website hosted?

Keep in mind, I am not a geek – even though I play one on TV.  But it still surprises me how many small business owners don’t know that their website exists on an actual, tangible machine connected to the internet, much less where that machine is physically located.  Most of the time it is not important information, but it is a good idea to know something about the hosting company that manages the server your website is on.  Things to know include where it is, who is running it, what other websites are hosted on it (do they host online gambling sites or other things you might not want your company associated with), what are their terms of service, and a whole lot of other information that is important to at least be familiar with.  You don’t want to be caught wondering why your website is down if there is a massive earthquake or other disaster near your data center.

Question 4: How long is the contract?

You would think this is a no-brainer, but most of our new clients do not ask about the term of the contract or how long they are committed to being with us.  Keep in mind that the internet is the wild wild west.  There are no standards or industry leaders.  In fact there isn’t much case law for lawyers to fall back on if things get hairy.  Because of this, it is very VERY important for the buyer to beware.  I have seen 10 year terms on maintenance fees.  I have seen contracts that lock the client into paying but does not limit the amount they have to pay.  In other words the company can raise their rates at any time and you would still have to pay it.  I have seen contracts that have such convoluted cancellation procedures that there is no way you could cancel without planning a year in advance if ever at all.  These techniques are in place because the small business owner does not understand the internet much less the company that is providing their website to them and too many companies take advantage of that fact.  In this day and age when your website is absolutely mandatory, take a few minutes to read the contract.  It will always be a good idea to do so before you sign… especially in the wild west world of the geek.

Question 5: Are there any surprise fees?

I recently had a prospective client tell me that he got lured into doing business with a company because their initial setup fee was so low.  A couple of years later when he needed his logo updated and a few other modifications done he got an invoice for almost twice what the initial fee was for creating the website in the first place.  No warning, just the invoice came in a few weeks after the work was done.  He was stuck.  The work had been done so he couldn’t tell them not to do it, but if he had known there would be a fee at all, much less a huge one, he would have gotten someone else to do it.  This is just one example.  From overage fees (yup, just like your cell phone provider) to upgrades to normal maintenance, if they can charge for it, some companies will and many times will over charge for it too.

If you don’t know some or any of this information about your website, ask your provider to explain.  If you can’t get a straight answer out of them, give us a call.  We can figure it out for you and we wont even send you an invoice for doing so.

The Problem With (and Solution To) Blogging for Entrepreneurs

Everybody knows content is king.  It’s one of those phrases you hear when folks are advising a small business owner to blog more in order to get more traffic to their website.  Problem is most small business owners aren’t good at writing.  They are good at doing whatever their company does, but many have trouble writing blog posts that convey their knowledge of it.

One big problem most entrepreneurs face when trying to blog, is carving out time to do it.  I will cover that in a future post, but in the mean time lets talk about the other big problem… where to start.

What could I possibly write about that would be a good blog post for my company?

At Your-Web-Guys.com we advise our clients to write blog posts from four main topic areas.  They should blog about their industry, their company, their clients (ie case studies), and their… selves (sorry for the bad grammar, I’m trying to keep the theme going here).  Lets look at each one in more detail:

  • Their Industry
    This is the easiest one for most small business owners. It’s pretty obvious what I mean here… topics that are about the industry of your company.  Things like changes in the industry or new trends or styles.  Even new equipment or techniques might be interesting to your clients/prospects, especially if you are planning on using those items/processes to add value to what they purchase from you.  Tips and tricks, best practices, and even DIY (do it yourself) posts might be good for your specific situation.  Some entrepreneurs baulk at these kinds of posts, but at Your-Web-Guys, we have found that giving away the milk still sells the cow because most folks don’t want to deal with the complexities of milking.  For instance, we will tell you exactly how to set up and integrate social media platforms with your website… but once you see how complex it is to do so, you will probably hire us instead.  If not, good on you… let us know when you run into trouble.  Zig Ziglar once famously said “if you help enough people get what they want, they will help you get what you want” and we know this is true
  • Their Company
    Not quite as obvious, but probably just as important is information about your company.  Things like new products and offerings should be blog posts, basically anything you would think is worthy of a press release should be posted to your blog first.  In fact, the press release should have a link to the post most of the time.  Also, don’t forget new facilities or vehicles or even events/expo’s you might be attending. Most importantly, you should always blog about promotions and specials you might be running, and don’t delete them once the promotion is over.  If you delete the post then any traffic you might be getting from it is deleted too.  Remember, search engines list web pages, not web sites.  Delete the post, you delete the listing.
  • Their Customers
    One of the most effective uses of a blog is to post information about your customers and how your company and its people/services/products have specifically helped them.  Sometimes referred to as case studies, these updates can explain exactly what the customer was needing, what solution your company was able to provide, and how that solution specifically resolved the customers’ pain point.  It is even better if you can include a testimonial from the client at the end.  Talk about effective marketing!  We employ this technique on our own blog at Your-Web-Guys, we call it our portfolio
  • Their… Selves (Again, sorry for the bad grammar, it is intentional)
    So probably the least obvious of all is this one.  People do business with people, not companies.  One of the things that big businesses have been trying to do is to humanize their company.  Giants like BP and IBM are constantly trying to put a face on their big corporate identity.  This article on the Constant Contact blog is about humanizing marketing in general and goes into more detail.  Small businesses don’t have this problem most of the time.  In fact, most entrepreneurs try very hard to make their companies look larger than they really are.  When it comes to marketing this is not the best idea.  So blog about yourself, your kids, your employees, their weddings, their kids, grandma’s cookie recipe, and just about anything else that will help to humanize your business.  They may not get a ton of search engine traffic and you might not even want to put them on the home page of your website, but your prospective clients and social media circles will eat it up.  Best of all it is a normal update, so google, even though it might not list it on a page that will get you a ton of new business, will see it and see that your website is updated on an ongoing basis.  That is literally more than half the battle when it comes to SEO.

So there you have it, the four topics that just about any small business or entrepreneur can use to help get them started blogging.  But what do you think?  Are there any good topics that you have found which gets your writer’s block unclogged?  Let me know in the comments, I would love to discuss it with you.