Vancouver Island business owner

Why Client Communication Is Essential to Surviving an Economic Shift

Are you struggling to navigate your Vancouver Island business through difficult times? Finding that your business suddenly lacks paying customers or experiences a significant drop in clients IS scary, we get that. But remember, economic downturns are temporary and the choices you make now can positively impact your business’ potential for success once conditions do return to normal.

There are steps you can take right now to positively secure a brighter position for the future of your Vancouver Island business. First off,  stay optimistic and remember: your clients haven’t gone away because of poor business strategies. Your clients are just as much in flux as you are and, honestly, they want to hear from you

During an economic downturn maintaining consistent and clear communication with your client is critical. 

Reach Out

business owner communicating with clients

When situations out of your control alter your business path it’s important to take time and reach out to your clients. After all, they’re likely feeling wary as well.

Try communicating to them with a brief email, a notice on your website, or by calling them directly if feasible. Explain how your business is being impacted and reassure them your products and services will become available as soon as possible. Not only will this serve to deepen your connection with your customers it will also show you’re committed to their needs and to your business.

Be Available 

Maintain an open line of communication between you and your customers. Keep the phone lines open, respond to emails and messages promptly; continue to be part of your client’s lives. 

If your business is lacking the ability to respond to your clients in a timely and meaningful way, consider adopting new technologies. Try improving your business’ communication toolkit by optimizing your website’s UX, sending weekly newsletters, or replace an outdated digital presence with a fully functional website.

Keep Clients Updated

Let your clients know what you’re up to and how you’re working to improve products and services during self- isolation and physical distancing. If you’re concerned that too much information may come across as overbearing and spam-like, consider data we found in SendGrid’s 2019 Email Benchmark and Engagement Study

In the recent study, it was determined that 32 % of people who sign up for information about a product or service like receiving weekly emails. Additionally,  a further 37% of those polled prefer daily communications from their preferred services and retailers.

In short, frequent updates to your clients is a great way to maintain a lasting and meaningful connection with them.

Transition to an Online Platform

business owner shipping packages from ecommerce sales

If you have a product that can be shipped directly to customers, then now is an opportune time to join the thousands of other Vancouver Island businesses that utilize a digital storefront.

Services that aren’t based on physical products, like legal assistance, finance professionals, or contractors, can also benefit from investing in digital resources. For example, If you’ve shifted locations from an office space to working from home, a website is an easy way to reach new clients and let people know you’re still available.

Keeping up-to-date with communication technology like online conference options, and trending social media platforms will also keep your business poised for success.

Keep Information Rolling Forward

While many of your clients may not be financially able to jump on your latest sales and products at this time, keep them focused on your business so you can be there for them when sales conditions improve. 

Provide useful information that clients can relate too, benefit from,  and will appreciate receiving. This will add value to your business by boosting your company’s reputation. For dental offices in Nanaimo, consider sharing tips to maintain good dental health. Chiropractors in Sooke can share physical stretches that are good for reducing stress, and Victoria plumbers can offer short tutorials on simple plumbing tasks.

Vancouver Island is Your Community

Vancouver Island residents Kayaking

Building your business and your brand didn’t happen easily, or overnight. As a Vancouver Island business owner, you’ve likely invested in the people you serve and are proud to be part of the community. As you shift into new circumstances make it a priority to maintain those connections you’ve worked hard to build. 

For more ideas on how to effectively connect with your audience during times of economic fluctuations, contact the Alter-Ego Marketing Group. As part of the Vancouver Island community, we can help you maintain a clear direction for your locally operated business.

What Are The Components of Good UX?

It takes about .05 of a second for a person who lands on your website to decide if they like your site or not, whether they are going to stay or leave, whether they will give your small business a chance. Good User Experience (UX) starts with first impressions, but it doesn’t stop there. The goal of UX is to make sure every aspect of a visitor’s interaction with a website is positive, from the moment they arrive, to even after they leave. If a visitor to your website is happy, they are more likely to buy your products, return and tell their friends about it. 

This sounds like a daunting task, but in this post we go through a few of the more crucial components of good UX. As the name suggests, the website user is central in each component: their goals, their abilities, their expectations, their feelings and so on. Each UX component is multi-faceted and all are intertwined. Consistency is key throughout. 

1. “This site is so easy to use, I don’t even have to think about it.” USABILITY

An arrow painted on the road

This is what comes to mind first whenever UX is brought up. While usability does incorporate some intangible aspects, for the most part, usability can be tested and the results will be fairly consistent across a range of people. Usability is a large and complex aspect in itself, but it can be summarized as a visitor’s reaction of “ It was so easy to use, I didn’t even have to think about it.”

There are four main elements we will focus on here that, if implemented well, can elicit this type of response: navigation, performance, readability, and responsiveness.

Navigation

The aim of navigation is to empower the website user to get from point A to point B with a minimum of frustration. Think of the different goals of the visitors that come to your website and design your navigation around that. On mobile, where space is limited, navigation gets trickier. In mobile site design, it becomes even more important to design with your user’s goals in mind.

Navigation provides a sort of security for the website user, an anchor. The navigation defines the “space” of the site and orientates the website user within that space, so they know where they are at all times, and where they can go from there.

Navigation absolutely has to be simple and obvious. This rule involves a number of factors such as the menu’s location, the menu design, the number of menu options, and the labels of the menu items. Remember, our goal is to make sure the website user doesn’t have to think! Every single website user must be able to easily find the menu item for your painting services, for example; they shouldn’t have to hunt for it. Labels must be clear, concise and meaningful — this is not the place for creative, obscure writing.

Performance

A website must load quickly on both desktop and mobile. Website users simply won’t wait around, even if they are committed to viewing your site. A website user who has been frustrated by a slow-loading site isn’t likely to give it a second chance either.

All the elements of a website that are supposed to do something — elements such as buttons, forms, shop functions and check-out —need to do what the website user expects them to do — easily, consistently and reliably. If the invitation to contact your tax service involves a complicated form with many fields, the website user will most likely go somewhere else.

Readability

As it relates to usability, readability is more about the presentation of the text than the content. It starts with the letters themselves: the font, its style, size and colour against the background. Both serif (with the little embellishments) and sans serif can be legible on a screen, so use whichever fits with your brand as long as it is well-designed. Of course any font will be hard to read if there is not enough contrast between the text and the background. Go for legibility always.

A simple lay-out offers a reassuring order that is easy to read. White space (ie good spacing, not cluttered) is crucial to readability. Most people scan rather than read a webpage to decide if they really want to take the time to read it thoroughly. Breaking the text up into manageable sections with subheadings and images allows for a quick and easy assessment of the content.

Responsiveness

This means that the website is as easy to use on a mobile device as it is on a desktop. Because it is so important, some designers start with the mobile design first, and then modify for the desktop rather than the other way around. Is the text large enough? Are the buttons easy to click? Think about actually using your site on a mobile device.


2. “I got what I needed.” — PROVIDING VALUE

Choosing colors for a painting project

Is it immediately apparent to your website visitors what your website is about? Do they know, in that .05 of a second, that your website is about house painting? Could they possibly, even in that short space of time, think it is about something else — maybe tax returns? If the website visitor can’t even figure out the purpose of the website, the UX isn’t working.

The website visitor should also be able to immediately determine who is presenting the website. Your business brand must be clear and obvious, and consistently so throughout the site. In accordance with this, a website with good UX will also make it easy for your visitors to contact you, if they want.

People usually go to a website to solve some sort of problem, whether that is how to choose a fun colour for their dining room or how to divorse their spouse without acrimony and losing everything. A site with good UX will provide the appropriate amount of relevant information that is easy to find and easy to read and understand.

Your visitors also need to feel they can trust that content and your brand. While all the UX components mentioned in this post help build trust, adding concrete social validation, such as testimonials is very important in small services industries. People will want to read about the incredible house painting you did for others as proof that you will do the same for them.

3. “I enjoyed this website. It made me feel good.” — DESIGN

A woman who is happy with what she sees on her computer

As mentioned at the outset, all these components are entwined; if a person isn’t frustrated by the usability of a site and they find what they need, they are more likely to leave with a good feeling. But this section is about the design, or look and feel of the website. This is intimately tied to your brand, and your purpose. Consistency is important.

There is a reason why blue is common in banking; blue conveys a sense of calm authority. Bright pink, for example, probably wouldn’t work for the website for an attorney. But, a site for a painter could use brighter colours and include more dynamic diagonal lines.

Does your site give a feeling of quality and attention to detail? If the form fields don’t work on mobile and the images are blurry, your site will be judged of lower quality, and your business will be judged the same.

To Sum Up

Ultimately, if a person leaves your site feeling good and feeling like they accomplished  or learned something useful, they are more likely to retain your services, leave positive reviews and tell others about your site. This is what UX is all about — making the user feel good.

Posted in UX
UX web design services

5 Ways to Check if Your Website Needs a UX Upgrade

Designing a site with a user’s experience in mind sounds obvious, but is actually a complex endeavour. This is because User Experience (UX) takes into consideration a wide range of responses to a website, from the practical and measurable like SEO, to more intangible factors like aesthetics and design.

User Experience is vitally important. Every website owner wants to reduce any frustration a visitor might feel, so their visitors stay on the site longer, will come back again, give good reviews, tell their friends and, if you have an e-commerce site, buy your product.

Below we list helpful Google Analytics key performance indicators you can evaluate your site against to help determine how well your UX is performing.

How many Pageviews per month?

If a visitor is visiting multiple pages, they are often finding something they find interesting. This is especially true if your conversion rate is also high. Otherwise, it could mean that your users aren’t finding what they need, forcing them to flip from page to page (something like the old days of TV). It’s important to determine which behaviour is happening as it will inform the rest of your metrics.

What is the dwell time & Time on Page?

How long a visitor stays on a site before returning to search results is also an indication of good UX. Makes sense, right? Google even takes this into consideration when it ranking a site.

Related, but not exactly the same, is the time spent on each page, because a longer amount of time spent on a page is an indication of a higher level of interaction with the material.

What’s your Bounce Rate?

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who navigate away from the site after viewing one page only. A high bounce rate can mean that visitors aren’t finding what they want, and leave. This isn’t necessarily so, however. Analytics platforms will measure both a short and long visit to a page as a bounce. A page with long-length content that people are actually reading could show a high bounce rate, when in fact, people leave after reading it because they got something of value and don’t need more at that time. Bounce rate, therefore, needs to be considered in the context of time spent on a page.

As well, a high bounce rate on a dedicated landing page that is meant to work separately from the rest of the site, often on a subdomain, is expected and necessary.

What’s your Conversion Rate?

The conversion rate also gives an indication of your UX. A conversion is whatever you are measuring as a goal — some action you want the user to take on your site. This could be filling out a form or buying your product, for example. Of course, this stat presupposes that you have the correct goals set up in Google Analytics.

On e-commerce sites, shopping cart abandonment is also an indication of poor UX. Good UX at this point in the shopper’s journey can involve a number of components, from a clear, easy process to permitting users to buy even without an account, to reasonable shipping costs and easy payment methods. A look at conversion funnels in Google Analytics can provide an idea of where you are losing visitors in their journey through the process.

A/B Test Changes

Finally, using A/B testing will help determine if the insights gleaned through the Google Analytics stats above will actually improve your UX before you do a wide scale implementation. Basically, A/B testing is comparing two versions of an element on your website to see which performs better. It is best to test one element at a time to so data is not confused. All sorts of elements can be tested such as: CTA position, colour or label, form fields and position, headlines, content length for different sorts of pages and so on.

Still Not Sure? Get in touch

If you’ve reviewed your website and are still unsure whether your UX could be upgraded, get in touch. We provide web design services for Vancouver Island businesses and are happy to help.

Posted in UX

Canna Tours – Case Study

About Canna Tours

Canna Tours was started in 2015 to provide insight into the new cannabis industry in Canada. Canna Tours partners with Canada’s top cannabis companies to create educational and unique experiences for tourists around the world.

The Challenge

Canna Tours approached our team in late November of 2018 because their site, built in Wix, was not performing very well. Canna Tours’s traffic and sales had dropped. Q4 is a crucial time for any ecommerce business, but since Canna Tours sells Cannabis Christmas Advent Calendars as an important part of their annual income, they absolutely needed a site that was functioning properly. On top of that, Canna Tours had just published a post that had gone viral and they didn’t want to lose the benefits of the publicity. They needed a new site … and fast!

The plan was to get a fully functioning WordPress site designed, developed and launched within a couple of days. Ecommerce would be handled by WooCommerce.

Implementing The Plan

Day 1

Because the timeline was so short (impossible?), and required the co-ordination of different experts with different skill-sets, we first created a detailed to-do list. The goal was a website with a clean, simple design, and intuitive User Experience. Our team was stoked and up for the challenge.

Within a day our team of developers had the development site’s basic design and structure set up. The content of the old site had been imported, but some of it did not import very well. The blog, —all 40 posts — had to be fixed manually.

Day 2

Morning

By day 2 the development site was a fully functional site. It still needed images, service pages and some search engine optimization (SEO) love.

11:30

The developers decided to point the name servers since it can take 24 hours to propagate, even though not all of the SEO was finished. Metadata was completed, but some crucial SEO tasks such as 301 redirects and removing dead links still needed to be done.

12:15

The name servers were already pointed (that was fast!). Our developers made the necessary adjustments in WordPress and the site was live! By early afternoon, the orders were rolling in.

Banner image of the Canna Tours website

Day 3

The site was up on the web, looked great and was functioning well. We fixed a few remaining broken links, but otherwise it was done! Since Day 2, Canna Tours had pulled in $2,690. in Christmas Calendar Revenue.

graph of Canna Tours Christmas revenue

The Outcome

behaviour acquisition stats

Due to the meticulous planning, and the tight coordination of our developers and SEO crew, the design, build and migration to a new WordPress site went absolutely smoothly. Our team really pulled it together to put up a site in record time with absolutely no downtime and no loss of business. A week after the migration, Canna Tours was ranking in the top 3 on Google for a range of cannabis keyword variations that people were using to find the calendars. In fact, Canna Tours had one of their best Christmas seasons to date, and it didn’t stop there. Recent stats show that pageviews have risen 3,146.18 % over last year!

vancouver island

3 Reasons to Choose a Victoria Web Design Firm that Gets SEO

When selecting a web design firm, there are a lot of considerations. Experience, portfolio, price and positive reviews are some. Design and technology chops are others. But one fundamental consideration that often gets overlooked is making sure the web design firm you choose also understands marketing and search engine optimization. 

Read three common mistakes we see all the time and then follow our tips for choosing a Victoria web design company that understands SEO and will set your business up for success – rather than frustration.

Got 301 Redirects?

Make sure the web design firm you choose includes a plan to add 301 redirects from existing pages to new pages.

We see it all the time. As an example, a web development firm creates a beautiful site for a Nanaimo law firm, trains their client on how to manage it then hands the keys over. After the initial excitement and fanfare over having a beautiful new website subsides, the client checks Google Analytics and is befuddled why their site’s traffic and search rankings have fallen off a cliff. In a fit of panic they call us up to help them out.

We get it – a new website often requires reorganizing content. Blogs, products and other key pages move around, pages are re-named, that’s all normal. However, when that happens, it’s absolutely critical to make sure redirects have been put in place for each page. This is 10x more important for pages that rank like your about, contact or main service or product pages. Otherwise, visitors are sent to a dead end and leave your site frustrated. When enough people leave after one click, it increases the bounce rate, telling Google that page has a poor user experience. Google then drops the page in its rankings and fewer customers visit. Needless to say, a bad experience for everyone!

Avoid Being Image-heavy and Search-light

Choose a Victoria web development company with an intrinsic understanding of SEO to make sure they don’t miss any opportunities to rank.

For example, a Campbell River painter may want to emphasize images on their site to show off their work but fail to add content that describes the project. While the pages may look aesthetically pleasing, when it comes to ranking that page, it’s much tougher to be indexed by Google, Bing and other major search engines when they don’t have content to help them understand what the page is about. We recommend avoiding image-heavy pages when well-written and search-optimized content could be added instead. A web development company that understands SEO will anticipate this and make the recommendation during the web design process.

Avoid Subdomains for Blogs and Other Pages with Backlinks

Don’t create additional work – leverage brand equity earned from backlinks. Another scenario: a well established Victoria credit union with a well-regarded financial tips blog moves their blog to a subdomain, making it blog.examplewebsite.com rather than examplewebsite.com/blog. Their blogs then drop in the search rankings and they are left wondering why.

We recommend keeping the blog under the same roof as the rest of your website because Google treats subdomains as a completely new website. If your site’s been around awhile you’ll forfeit any backlinks and link equity you’ve earned and will have to re-earn it all over again. An experienced web design firm with digital marketing chops will advise you to keep everything under one roof and explain why.

Next Steps – When Choosing a Web Design Firm Think Marketing and SEO

We hope these tips for choosing a top web development company are helpful and will save you time, money and frustration. Whoever you choose, make sure the company makes design, technology and marketing sing in harmony.