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6 Web Design Essentials For Any Small Business Website

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Not too many years ago, it was almost unthinkable for a small business to invest in their own website. Today, however, it is less of a choice than a necessity if you want to engage with customers, and stay ahead of your competitors.

Website building is more accessible now than ever before, with a wide range of tools and services available to help you create your brand vision in online form. Nevertheless, setting up a business website can be a daunting process, especially if you are new to the world of online marketing.

The on-the-move consumer has little time or patience for poorly-designed websites, so your landing page, and every page thereafter, needs to be structured with purpose and precision. Fortunately, this is not as difficult as it might sound, and if you keep the following checklist in mind, you will soon have a business website to be proud of.

Checklist:

1. Clarity and simplicity

When users land on your homepage, it can take mere seconds for them to decide whether to explore further or move on. As such, you need your landing page to clearly display who you are and what you do. Additionally, using consistent branding throughout your website, using your organization’s name and logo, adds cohesion to your content, and reassures visitors that they have not accidentally left your site.

Most internet users want to be able to navigate a website quickly and without confusion, so your layout is of critical importance. In recent history, there has been a trend towards shorter and shorter menus. Now, many sites display only three menu options, with the aim of quickly directing visitors to the key areas of the website.

Ultimately, your goal here is to make your website as easy to navigate as possible, both for internet users, and search engine crawlers. The simpler it is to crawl and index your site, the more likely you are to be able to secure a good search engine ranking.

Another upside to a simplistic design is that it will load faster, meaning visitors are more likely to stick around. When the Financial Times updated their layout at the end of last year, they reported that a one second reduction in loading times could boost engagement by 5 percent.

2. Personality

The rise of social media marketing has brought about significant changes in the way consumers evaluate businesses and products. You are not, and should not be, an invisible entity hidden behind your brand; your customers want to know who you are and why they should be excited about your business. Furthermore, it is your passion for the products or services you offer that should shine through in your content, and establish your website’s unique personality.

This doesn’t mean you need to reveal your deepest darkest secrets, or divulge personal information. Bear in mind, anything that you put on your website needs to add value, and be relevant to the overall plan. Think about the details you can share that highlights the best characteristics of your business, or that will cause visitors to feel more comfortable and familiar with your brand.

  • Describe who you are and how your business came to be. What drew you to this industry, and where do you plan to go with it?
  • What is your business all about? Give a brief, but clear description of the products or services you offer, and what makes them unique.
  • Set out your values. Perhaps your materials are organic, or sustainably sourced. Maybe your business is carbon neutral, or is regularly engaged in community initiatives. This is your chance to highlight the details that have no place elsewhere on your site, but that you would like your customers to know.

3. High Quality Content

At the same time, it is important not to overload your landing page with content. By selecting key pieces of information, you ensure that these are the first things visitors learn about your business. Consider features such as a landing page video, so you can introduce yourself or your services in more detail, without filling the page with a wall of text.

Throughout your website, your content should adhere to SEO best practices, and always aim to offer something useful to your audience. If you are renovating an existing site, you should also go back through old content, removing anything that does not add value, and sprucing up anything that remains.

4. Business Tools

Do not be afraid to make use of the wide range of tools and applications available for building and running a business website. These applications are not for everyone, but when applied correctly, they can reduce your workload and streamline many time-consuming processes.

For example, you might consider an e-commerce CMS to facilitate the management of product pages, and generation of uniformly structured page links. Similarly, if you are managing social media accounts, or running a blog, content delivery systems can help you schedule posts, and deliver your content on a regular timetable. Shopify is one that brings blogging and ecommerce together nicely, but you’ve also got ones like Squarespace and Wix — your web technology will have a big impact on the overall affordability and design of your website, so choose carefully.

Efficient use of business tools can free you up to focus on other matters, such as creating new content, or engaging with customers. Many tools can also help with the collection of data analytics, providing you with valuable information about consumer behaviour, and the success of individual pieces of content. You can also use tools like chatbots to help customers along the customer journey, though you’ll have to ensure you still remain approachable.

As with all aspects of web design, you will need to weigh up the cost of using these tools against the long-term gains for you and your business.

5. Security

For any website, security is a primary concern. After all, no one wants their data or their content to be compromised. For small businesses, having a secure website is even more critical, as a breach could not only put you and your site visitors at risk, but also can be extremely damaging to your organisation’s reputation.

If you have an e-commerce site, ensure that you are using a secure payment system, such as PayPal or Stripe. In addition, if you use a content management system, or any other third party applications, you should double-check their security standards, and be diligent about keeping them up to date.

Even if your website is not used for sales, it is still important to have HTTPS enabled on your website. You can do this via a Certificate Authority such as Let’sEncrypt, which provides free-of-charge automated certificates, in accordance with TLS security best practices.

That tiny padlock in the corner of the browser can be the difference between a new customer, and a visitor who never makes it past the landing page.

6. The Grand Plan

While this is the final item on the list, it is also the first step towards creating or improving your business website. Every aspect of your design should have a purpose, from menus to image placement, and even the structure of your URLs.

Whether you are starting from scratch, or renovating an existing site, you should create a comprehensive plan, going into as much detail as possible on every aspect of your design. This will enable you to identify potential challenges, costs, and long-term goals for your website. In addition, your finished plan acts as a coherent blueprint for when you finally turn your idea into a reality. Following in the footsteps of tech giants like Amazon is also a good way to grow your online presence — remember to always research the competition and keep tabs on their websites.

A Long-Term Endeavor

Remember that your business website is an ongoing project, not a static entity. This means you can always add or adjust things later if necessary. It is generally far better to create a fully functional, aesthetically optimized website with fewer features, than one bloated with half-finished pages and ideas.

Your site will need grow and change with your business, so constant improvement and reevaluation is essential. Pay attention to consumer feedback, analytics, and shifting trends, so you are always able to stay ahead of the curve. A successful business website requires regular maintenance and renewal, so it is vital to set aside the time to keep your content fresh, and your brand narrative current.

Even so, establishing your website is already half the battle. The rest relies on the same diligence, dedication, and passion for your business that has gotten you this far in the first place.

Victoria Greene: Brand Marketer & Blogger

I’m an ecommerce marketer by trade, and I run a blog in my spare time where I like to talk about content and blogging. I love taking people’s ideas and making them into digital realities. Big advocate of having an customer experience — something I’m currently trying to implement on a few stores of my own!

BusinessArticles is the popular online Hub for quality business articles. We publish unique articles and share them with our social followers.

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Can Phone Screens Be Replaced?

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Even with a protective case and screen protector, there are some situations which will inevitably result in your smartphone’s screen being damaged. From dropping your phone in water to dropping it on concrete, your phone’s screen may eventually need to be repaired or replaced.

Thankfully, there are ways to service your phone without spending a lot of money or sending your phone to the manufacturer in the mail. If you simply search for “cell phone repair near me,” you’ll be able to choose from dozens of local third party services. Here is a quick rundown of the types of situations in which you’ll need to replace your phone screen.

Broken or cracked screen

Fixing a cracked screen is one of the most common phone repairs performed. Generally, this procedure involves removing the broken screen glass and replacing it with a new piece of glass. While you may be able to buy a repair kit online, it’s generally advised that you take your phone to a professional to fix its screen.

This ensures that the repair is done correctly and that you don’t accidentally make matters worse and cause other issues with your phone. A third party service can perform a screen repair quote quickly, allowing you to get back to using your phone in no time at all.

Pressure spots or dead pixels

While not as drastic to your phone’s performance as some of the other issues on this list, dead pixels and pressure spots can severely limit your ability to use your phone to its fullest.

A dead pixel occurs when one of the lights in your phone’s LCD burns out, usually leaving a permanently black or white pixel in its place. While one or two dead pixels can generally be ignored, multiple missing pixels can be particularly frustrating, especially if they’re in key areas on your screen.

The same can be said for pressure spots, which are fingerprint sized discolorations that can obscure even more of your phone’s user interface. Sometimes, users will dismiss these problems and treat them like cosmetic defects. However, it’s best to take care of these before they develop into even bigger problems.

Unresponsive touch screen

An unresponsive touch screen is one of the most serious problems you can run into with your smartphone, and it may take some troubleshooting to rule out other issues. For example, sometimes your iPhone or Android might freeze, but you can still restart your phone. Even resetting your smartphone to factory default is worth a try if you’ve backed up your device’s data and are really looking to fix the problem.

If none of these workarounds rule out your problem, it may be time to take your phone to a professional. The touch screen of a phone features complex circuitry and features that make it crucial to be addressed by an experienced technician. That being said, you don’t necessarily have to go back to the manufacturer for these kinds of repairs. Third party services are often much cheaper.

Water damage

While a bit more rare than other screen problems, if water gets between your glass and the circuitry of your LCD touch screen, the results can be disastrous. In most situations, recovery of your phone comes down to numerous factors, which is why it’s best not to get your hopes up if even a little moisture made it to your phone’s central processor or motherboard.

For this reason, third party companies generally won’t charge a fee for the diagnostic work associated with water damage. Instead, a technician will do their best to determine what work might be able to be accomplished to salvage your hardware and, most importantly, your data.

While replacing the phone in its entirety is usually the end result, sometimes replacing the screen and drying out the phone is possible. So it’s always a good idea to have your phone looked at before you throw in the towel.

While the simple answer to the question “Can my phone’s screen be replaced?” is “yes”, the longer answer is that it depends on the issue your phone is facing. If any of the above issues are happening to your phone, take your device in to a professional technician to see how they may be able to service it.

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Court Reporting Versus Digital Recording: Which Is The Better Option?

When it comes to informational accuracy, technology surpasses human intelligence in several circumstances, but are court hearings included?

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When it comes to informational accuracy, technology surpasses human intelligence in several circumstances, but are court hearings included? Surprisingly enough, they’re not.

While some people may go along with the potential obsolescence of court reporters and the deployment of digital recording as a sole reporting method, that may not be fully recommended for a number of reasons. Modern technology and artificial intelligence are optimizing day-to-day tasks and facilitating operations that would otherwise take long hours to be completed. On the other hand, despite their systematized functioning, electronic devices aren’t failure-proof. That’s where the human element makes an entrance.

Digital recording: the latest technology for accurate documentation

Digital reporting or electronic reporting is, in the words of the American Association of Electronic Reporters and Transcribers, the “use of professional-level audio recording systems to register court proceedings.” Those unfamiliar with the judicial scenery might consider the presence of a human court reporter unnecessary in any case – after all, an electronic device has a faster and stricter capability of collecting crucial information. Still, electronics malfunction, break, and regardless of outside conditions, they’ll only work according to their primary function, which isn’t optimal when you think about it.

When taking human failure rates into account, however, one may find that there’s a high risk of information loss and defective machine performance. In ideal conditions, the recording device would be working properly, and all members would respect their time to speak. Yet, it’s common for litigants lower their voices or speak almost inaudibly in certain instances, which may or may not be caught by a recording device. Additionally, not everyone will keep their speeches stable in court and member will sometimes interrupt one another. When such situations meet poor device functioning, bad audio quality, and human error (e.g. forgetting to press the “record” button), a bunch of missing information could compromise the case and information could be gone permanently.

The job of court reporters is still critical for complete reports

Court reporters are highly trained professionals who are knowledgeable about legal proceedings and emergent technologies. Their expertise and dexterity is based on years of training, which qualifies them to document entire judicial processes. Just for reference, a person must be able to type about 225 words per minute in order to pass the United States Registered Professional Reporter Test.

Another major difference between digital recordings and court reporters is that the best professionals have an expedited turnaround of all transcripts, as is the case with skillful Miami court reporters. Some court cases require faster processing and a shorter turnaround time for being more complicated than others, which once again favors the reporters’ set of skills. They won’t simply deliver transcripts on time — they’ll interpret them, clarify misheard sentences with heavy accents, for example, and offer real-time technology so every court member, including the hard of hearing, has instant access to transcripts. Their role makes sure to benefit judges and jurors alike, providing information that can be accessed in person or remotely.

Should one be employed without the other?

Without technological assistance, the job of court reporters would be harder. For this reason, their education and certifications must always meet high standards of innovation and deliver extremely precise transcripts in a short period of time.

For all-encompassing and error-free documentation, digital recordings paired with the proficiency of a court reporter would be suitable. However, reliable and proficient reporters are always up-to-date with the latest technologies to capture hearings accurately, so the extra cost of a recording device might not be necessary. Court reporters are, at least in the predictable future, the best voice-to-text transcriptors courts can rely on.

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What Are the Prerequisites for the CCNA?

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The CCNA is a Cisco certification required for most IT professionals. There are actually a few versions of the exam, but the most common is the CCNA Routing and Switching certification. This exam can be taken at the Associate level, so there aren’t many concerns as far as prerequisites go.

The only real limitations are that a person under 13 years will not be permitted to take it, and a person between 13 and 17 must have parental consent. For those 18 and older, there are no restrictions, as Cisco does not require any previous exams to become eligible for the CCNA.

Still, just because there are no real prerequisites, this doesn’t mean the exam isn’t challenging. It’s a 90-minute test consisting of both multiple-choice and performance-based questions. Anyone taking the exam will have to thoroughly prove their knowledge and problem-solving skills in a limited time. It can be stressful, and it’s recommended to have both theoretical knowledge as well as practical networking experience before taking the test. The following are the best ways to prepare for the CCNA.

Study materials

There are plenty of study materials that can get you started. These range from official study guides, video courses, labs, and more. There is a list of Cisco approved materials for those wishing to follow that path, though there are a variety of options from other vendors as well. Regardless of whether you pursue free or paid options, you’ll need to do your best to cover all of the content that could appear on the exam. The methods you choose will likely depend on your learning style.

In general, it’s recommended to take a self-paced video course, regardless of your knowledge level. These will generally measure your knowledge at the start of the course to ensure you aren’t bored with concepts you already know nor overwhelmed at the beginning with unfamiliar ideas. You’ll likely need some additional materials, however, as it can be easy to miss some ideas when watching videos.

There’s an official Cisco Certification Guide available in ebook and hardcopy forms which many argue to be the best study guide available. It’s also impossible to replace hands-on experience through any number of study guides or lab courses. Luckily, modern simulation tools like GNS3 can let you practice the majority of performance-based content you’ll see on the exam.

Practice tests

To get a better idea of what the real exam will be like, you’ll need to take some practice tests. While no practice test can show the same questions that will appear on the current exam, there are many tutoring packages out there that include a CCNA practice test with real questions from past exams. These questions are obtained directly from Cisco and Pearson and can give you a good idea as to the structure of the exam. If you’re able to complete these in the allotted time, you should stand a better chance at the real thing.

Additional preparation

No matter how you decide to prepare for the exam, you’ll likely be doing some combination of self-study and seeking outside help. External training options like expert boot camps and live courses may be just what you need if you require a more personal touch. These options generally include several hours of live instruction, and boot camps will let you schedule appointments with an expert instructor.

The real key is that you need to understand your own learning style and pace, something you’ll hopefully have good experience with from previous classwork. Luckily, you can have a combination of everything you think will work for you before you attempt your exam.

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