EXPERT VOICE // Growing Your Web Garden

cooperhouse

Meet Erin and Tim Cooper, Designer-Developer-Extraordinaires behind COOPERHOUSE. Enlighten your tech-side with their 5 MUSTS for moving your web image / presence  forward. Listen up as they discuss virb sites + squarespace and when it’s time to grow your beneficial to consider growing your garden to broader content management system.

1. Know thyself.

Whether you’re a small business or starting a blog, the first thing you need to know is what you have to offer. Everything you create for your site should be based on what you’re bringing to the table. If you’re an excellent writer, focus on copy. If you’re handy with a camera, share images. If you’re about your community, share that aspect of what you do.

2. Create original content.

You site shouldn’t be built on borrowed images and filler text. If you’re creating a site, you need to create content that is relevant to your audience. Use an editorial calendar to create regular updates to your site. This keeps your audience engaged, helps your site ranking with search engines, and reinforces your brand as being fresh and interesting.

3. Make a plan. 

Create a list of the pages you need on your site, and gather your content before launching. Each page should have a purpose. Think of it like you’re creating a treasure map for your audience to find what they need. Each page should have a “Call To Action”. If you’d like them to visit your store/art show/ blog — tell them. Be clear, concise, and directive.

4. Tend your own garden. 

Creating a website means taking care of it. It’s a little like one of those Tamagotchi digital pets of my childhood. Your site will die a slow sad death in obscurity if you don’t take care of it. Keep your content fresh and make an effort to connect with your audience.

5. Learn some code. 

Don’t let your site look sloppy or messy because you haven’t tried to understand the interface or basic code. You don’t need to know much, and you can always get help from qualified developers (ahem…CooperHouse) if you run into trouble. This goes back to taking ownership over everything you put on the web. Take care that it’s the best reflection of you and what you have to offer. Visit siteinspire.com to see what the latest websites look like and try to  make an effort to stay current.

What kind of site is right for you?

 This question is almost always answered by 2 things. BUDGET & TIME.

For a lot of small businesses starting out, getting a custom, or even basic WordPress site up and running can be challenging. It’s tough to know how much to pay or who you can trust. It’s often easier to start with platforms like Squarespace or Virb until you get the hang of everything that comes with having your own business. The downside to these other solutions is that if you do decide to upgrade, it can be tough to find developers who can help you with custom solutions. We have a lot of clients who built huge blog audiences on Google and when they moved into a realm of business, had to get a custom solution which included exporting years of blog content and comments, which is also challenging.

We think the best choice for almost everyone is to be on self-hosted WordPress. It’s the most flexible system in the world and the options are endless. That said, it’s not always feasible and it’s okay to start with something super easy. Ultimately, as your business grows, you will likely need features or capabilities that exceed what’s available on simpler systems, and that’s when people usually call us. We’re using WordPress every day to build custom sites and creating unique features to help them grow their audiences and their businesses.

PHOTO BY QUIT!

 

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