Do You Need a Website With So Much Social Media?

hands tied - social media restrictions

hands tied - social media restrictions

Recently a client was surprised to be contacted asking for information they make readily available on their website. The contacting individual only tried Facebook as a resource for information.

Although you can do a lot as a business with your Facebook Page, it doesn’t come close to the flexibility a website can offer.

Why You Still Need Your Website

Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., are great ways to connect. But they have real limitations on what your audience sees.

  • Limited space for a bio about your company. Your website URL probably isn’t even on the main screen.
  • Lots of restrictions with call to action button/area. For example, you can’t create wording of your button for the Facebook page in the header – it’s multiple choice. In other words, you will probably need to pay for an app to get around it.
  • Restrict what is displayed. Mobile users usually do not have the full features of the website versions. Facebook, for example, buries their latest posts option within their menu and only displays top posts by default. They may never see your posts in their timeline.
  • Change the rules. Facebook severely restricted the amount of posts users see for "liked" pages. If you have over a thousand likes, only 10 or so folks may actually see your latest posting unless you pay to "boost" the post.
  • Little to no control. It is their space so they decide on picture sizes, how much text can be in a picture, change what is displayed on sidebars, etc. It is constantly changing.

It all comes down to lack of control. Social media is a great way to connect but you should also direct visitors to go to your website for more information whenever possible. You have control of your website and what they see.

"…So what should social’s role be in all this? Social needs to be the gateway drug to your site." Gary Vaynerchuk

Also, be sure your most valuable content is on your website so your site visitors want to stick around.

Do you use social media to generate traffic to your website? Love to hear your ideas.

Posted in Social Media

Best Way to Align Images In Content


Dog fell asleep reading

I read most of my articles via the Feedly app (RSS Reader), but I do receive some via email newsletters. If you’ve been doing newsletters or blog posts for a few years, you might not know that how you align images with content may hurt your marketing.

Recently seeing left-aligned images on a newsletter prompted me to reconfirm what I had previously learned; left-aligned images should be used sparingly with content images, if ever.

Don’t Break the Left Margin

Over the years, I have seen web design articles arguing against aligning an image to the left of a paragraph. To be honest, it always looked "off" to me, so I wasn’t tempted to do it.

However, I thought it might be good to do some research and see what other disciplines had to say. Since designers don’t always get heard on the "why" I’ll quote Kissmetrics, which has a fantastic article about David Oglivy’s research for successful ads.

"…Don’t break the left margin. When we read, we rely on the left margin always being there as an anchor, to give us a place to return our eyes to. Without a consistent left margin it’s exceptionally difficult to follow the text." – Kissmetrics

Most of you reading this are in the Western Hemisphere; we are left to right readers. It makes sense with text you don’t want to interrupt the flow, break the reader’s attention, or distract them from finishing your incredibly valuable article. Egads!

Are there exceptions to this? Sure, I occasionally do it with author bios – looks okay and because it is the end of an article, it’s less likely to distract people from finishing. But if that bio is uber important, probably best to align the picture to the right.

So What Exactly is the Best Way to Align Images in Content?

NONE! Yup, you read that correctly! Put the image on a line all by itself that is full width.

Why? Because floated images to the right (or left) usually look crappy on anything mobile. Those smart phones may be larger these days but an image next to a paragraph looks SQUINTY. My friends, I am sorry, but it isn’t a desktop-only world anymore.

You spent hours looking for just the right image to convey your marketing message, article concept, or relatable photograph – why would you want people to have a hard time seeing it?

Look above at this article – see how the image goes the width of the paragraph? That is the current standard. Looks great doesn’t it?

Have some questions about aligning images? Ask away!

Posted in Formatting Posts and Pages

Are Your Social Media Icons Driving People Away?

The unwelcome mat

The unwelcome mat

Last week I combed through my Twitter feed to see what folks shared. I find a lot of good articles that way; people share what they think is valuable and that means learning some cool things!

One article grabbed my attention, so I went to the website. It was lovely. It had a nice big layout with beautiful, large type (FYI, most type is sized too small). But then I got completely distracted by the social icons in the header. I didn’t finish the article and I clicked away. They just lost me as an ongoing reader (no newsletter sign-up, etc.) and I was lost in social la la land.

Don’t Slam the Door if They Knock, Invite Them In

website header example

This is one of those times when design needs a clue. Something that looks great doesn’t necessarily work well for marketing. A website is like a house; it should welcome your visitors, not shove them out the door.

Many website themes are guilty of sticking social media icons in the header area. It looks great there, and it visually balances the logo in many design situations. But here’s why that’s problematic:

  1. Your site visitor just got there; do you want him/her to immediately leave?
  2. Your website is the final destination, that is where you sell. Most social media is a funnel towards your website for most marketing purposes.
  3. Social media will change the rules – your website is under your control. How often have you done a *headdesk* in frustration from yet another Facebook change, limiting the audience reach that liked your page?

Your website is your online home for your business. It is the go-to place to find out more about your business, engage prospects, and sell your services or products.

So Where Should Your Social Icons Go?

Go grab a piece of paper (or pull up a Word doc). Let’s get clear on marketing priorities.

  • In order of priority, list what you would like your website visitors to accomplish on your website?
  • Then look at your header, sidebar, footer, and any other places you are using for marketing elements. For example, a marketing element is a newsletter sign-up box, latest blog posts, promotion of a book or other sales item.
  • List your marketing elements in order of priority.

Now that you see your marketing priorities, do your social media icons need to be in the header or the most prominent marketing element on the page? Probably not.

However, it’s good engagement to use social media where your audience hangs out to drive them to your website. You don’t want the placement of social media icon links to immediately send people packing! So be sure to evaluate its proper placement in alignment with your business marketing goals.

My advice, your website is your business home where prospects go to learn more about you. Once they arrive, invite them to stick around.

Where are your social media icons on your website?

Posted in Social Media, Social Media Graphics, Web Design

More Favorite Font Resources

More Fav Font Resources

More Fav Font Resources

Confession: I love fonts. Although I’m not a typographical nerd, I just love what powerful design elements they are. It is amazing what a simple font change can do for any website or design document.

Fonts have the power to add sophistication, change the tone, add emotion, and upgrade the professional look of your website. Working with a designer can help you choose one to effectively match your message. Best of all, it’s a cheap way to upgrade and appeal to your audience.

Wondering if your website is getting stale? Sign-up for your Target Audience Design Evaluation and we’ll analyze and give you feedback on making your website more appealing to your audience.

I wrote a post a year ago about some of my favorite font resources. Since then, I’ve found more that have me tweeting "Hi, my name is Nancy, and I’m a fontaholic!" There are seriously tempting fonts that range from styles appropriate for the boardroom to the bakery.

New Favorite Font Resources

  • Design Cuts. These folks from the UK have limited time deals and frequently feature fonts. They work hard to put together gorgeous collections from talented designers and they always seem to nail it. Commercial (the kind of license you need for your website) and frequently extended licenses (i.e. for selling t-shirts) are included.
  • The Hungry Jpeg. Newest kid on the block – absolutely drool worthy font bundles! At the time of this writing, they have 66 fonts for $29 – what you can expect to pay for just one font. Commercial licenses are included.

Some Oldies But Goodies

  • MyFonts. Most business logo fonts usually are not public domain fonts available from Google Fonts. Buying the logo font to match on a website is great branding and adds professionalism. Check out their bestsellers list if you are looking for some ideas.
  • Font Squirrel. Public domain fonts – you install them on your server or desktop (they usually offer both versions).
  • Google Fonts. Nearly every WordPress theme uses their fonts since they are public domain, available for commercial usage and hosted on the web. Although I like this more than I used to, it’s still a mixed bag.

Type Lists

  • Typewolf. I subscribe to Typewolf and routinely look at their wonderful list of resources. This site has lists like the top Google fonts, Favorite Body Text Fonts, etc. Bookmark worthy site!
  • MyFonts Best Sellers. See what’s trending, many are always on the list like Avenir, Proxima Nova, and FF Din.

What are your favorite font sources?

Posted in fonts, Web Design

Site Icon Tool – Favicons Just Got Easier

WordPress 4.3 Site Icon Tool

What the Heck is a Favicon?

Favicon in a browser tab

Glad you asked! It’s that cute little pic you see in browsers in the URL bar (for Safari) or tab (for Chrome and Firefox etc.) on your computer. But these days a favicon is also used by your iPhone, Android device, tablet or, gasp, internet fridge. Now with so many gadgets using the favicon for a website icon, it’s more difficult for makers of websites to accommodate many sizes.

Load it Up Once, Serve it for Everything


Fortunately, the WordPress team has noticed this issue and incorporated a dashboard feature in Customizer that allows you to upload just one image for several sizes.

Here’s how to take advantage of the new site icon feature:

  • For business owners, your logo is your identifier for your brand. Place your logo artwork in a 512px wide by 512px height (px stands for pixel) image and save as a jpg or png. This image will be used for small sizes too (down to 16 pixels on the old browsers), so keep it simple.
  • Verify the image file size is small; if it’s going over 50k, use to shrink it down. Why? So mobile devices don’t eat up bandwidth and download time with an overly large image.
  • Login to your WordPress dashboard to Appearance > Customize. Click on the "Site Identity" tab on the left.
  • Click on "Select File" and load your new 512×512 logo file into the Media Library. Click Save or Select.
  • To save your new site icon (Favicon), click "Save & Publish" at the top.

There you go, really easy! To see the icon in browsers, be sure to clear your cache (history). Now your logo icon can be easily viewed on many devices!

FYI, WordPress themes will discontinue the old favicon methods, so be sure to make the transition to the "Site Icon" feature soon.

Need help? We can set up your logo artwork in the required size, optimize for quick loading, and load it up in your website for you. Contact us today!

Posted in Website tips, WordPress Dashboard

Ensuring a Smoother Update to WordPress 4.3

WordPress 4.3


When WordPress does a major release of anything with only two digits (4.3 for example), plugins and themes also get updated (we hope) so they can work well together. Although WordPress 4.3 may not seem like a big deal, there were some under-the- hood changes with letting go of older tech that may impact your plugins and themes.

Since not all plugins and themes are kept current, it is best to do your homework first! Here are my survival tips:

  • Backup, backup, backup! There’s a reason my colleagues and I make backups of websites. When things go badly, there is no substitute for restoring the previous days’ copy. If you don’t have backups, your best bet is VaultPress and it’s slightly cheaper than Backup Buddy if you only have one website.
  • Plugin checklist. Are they 4.3 ready? Login to your WordPress dashboard, click on Plugins on the left. Check to see if each plugin under "View details" is compatible up to 4.3. If up to 4.2.4, it’ll probably work with 4.3, but there is some risk; thus the backups!
  • Older plugin? Have some that are going grey? See if you still need them or find a competitor replacement that is current. Obsolete plugins are security risks. Also there is function in WordPress 4.3 no longer supported, check to see if your plugin is among them. However, if WordPress repository says it is compatible with 4.3, no worries.
  • Genesis Users – update the framework. You’ll need Genesis 2.1.3 in order to use WordPress 4.3 without issues. Update your Genesis parent theme prior to updating WordPress. FYI, some webhosts are being a pain about this, so you may have to update manually.
  • Theme check. For other vendors, check the theme information compatibility guide to verify they are 4.3 ready or listed as compatible. Premium themes will list it on their own websites, WordPress theme repository for the rest.

Okay, you did all of the above? Alrighty then, hit that shiny WordPress update button!

Want to read an article about the cool new features in 4.3? WPBeginner has a nice one.

Overwhelmed by staying on top of updates, backups, and other security concerns? We can do that for you. Sign up today!

Posted in WordPress Maintenance

One of My Favorite Blogging Tools


I love stuff that saves me time, don’t you? One of my favorite tools just keeps getting easier to use. This plugin ROCKS.

If you are a newsletter subscriber, you’ve probably read about my favorite plugins for bloggers (it’s also available as a blog post). That was more than six months ago. This particular plugin really saves me time and has changed since I last wrote about it.

Scheduling Social Media Right from Your Blog Post

Many people love Hootsuite or Sprout Social. They are both great social sharing management apps, but they don’t quite fit me when it comes to my blog. For one thing, both require you to login and jump through several hoops when I just want to write and quickly promote a post.

This is why Post Promoter Pro is a time saving rock star. You can take care of your promotional Tweets, Facebook, and LinkedIn posts from the comfort of your WordPress dashboard. It is really user friendly!

Promote Your Blog Post While It Has Your Attention

The reason it is simpler to work on promotional tweets, etc. while you are in the blog post dashboard? It is easier to get quotes from your post, you can quickly look up the pictures to go with your promotions and decide on your exact schedule for them. You don’t have to login to a social media app, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.; you simply schedule it to your social networks in one step! That saves time!

Take a look at this no-nonsense dashboard that appears below the "Edit Post" dashboard.

Time Saving Plugin

There is a tab for Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook (not shown, I use FB directly). For scheduled tweets, the dash tracks how many characters you can use and turns red if you go over. You can schedule several tweets (love that part). LinkedIn tab doesn’t offer multiple schedule posts, but you can have it go out to LinkedIn at the time of publication.

Not Sure Where to Get the URL for Your Image?

Just to go the Media Library in your WordPress dashboard, click on the image, and the URL will be to the right. Or just save time, click on the upload icon for the image URL in Post Promoter Pro, and it will take you straight to the Media Library! Easy peasy!

Posted in WordPress Plugins

Get Your Learning On



I’m frequently asked where I learn how to make websites. First, let me say it took several years; it isn’t something you just pick up overnight, that isn’t realistic. Websites are not MS Word, even if WordPress looks deceptively easy. Just like hiring a plumber, web designers, developers, and user experience developers know which bolt to tighten to fix a leak, etc.

However, some things can help you beef up your own skill set and I’ll share those resources even if all you want is better looking posts and pages!

WordPress Learning and Resources

There are many resources but I’ll share the handy ones. Sometimes you need help with just one function, like "how do I make a link," etc. Often a quick Google search is a mixed bag of results and if you are like me, you prefer authoritative sources that won’t waste time!

  • Easy WP Guide. This is a must have for your digital bookshelf. Anthony’s manual is easy stuff, no coding, just going over the different areas of the WordPress dashboard.
  • WP101 Video Library (*aff link). Sometimes you need to see how it’s done. These short tutorials are perfect for refreshing your memory on how to do simple stuff on the dashboard, etc. FYI – that lifetime deal is a steal!
  • Although pricey for the long term, there are some great teachers there. WordPress changes a lot, so make sure the course is close to the latest version of WP.

WPBeginner has some videos but I’ve never tried them, at present it doesn’t have the depth that WP101 Video Library has.

For Those Making Websites

If you are in the biz, here are some of the places and learning resources I use!

  • Code School. A paid service with a few no-cost entry courses. It’s code focused but has design courses as well. I like the course focus structure they use.
  • Genesis Camp. StudioPress is a theme seller, but this live stream event was done independently and has a lot of great tracks for people in the business. Videos are available to watch online!
  • Treehouse. They have short videos and got started with responsive design with these tutorials a few years ago. They have learning tracks to guide you.
  • WordCamps! These volunteer-run events are dirt cheap, and feature guru speakers. They’re usually held on weekends. Find one near you.
  • WordPress TV. Some of the WordCamp sessions have been "taped," check them out.

And of course, which I mentioned earlier. I do share a lot of tips on my blog as well so check that out!

What are your favorite learning resources for websites?

Posted in Learning, WordPress

Have You Looked At Your Website Lately?



Have Your Eyeballs Seen Your Website Lately?

I had a Gmail setup question, so I went to a couple of gurus’ websites. I was surprised by obvious broken image links (you know those blank boxes), a footer widget that stopped working, and some other display issues I won’t bore you with.

Most of these problems indicate that something has gone haywire under the "hood," probably due to a plugin conflict or upgrading WordPress beyond what the theme supports. Conflicts of one thing or another do happen – it’s good to check your website visually on a regular basis.

Because your website isn’t a print document, you should monitor it after any software/plugin updates. Even if you haven’t changed anything in recent months (yikes), your webhost may have made adjustments that impact your website.

Your Visual Inspection Checklist for Your Website

Before you lament anything that may have gone AWOL, know that websites do not function well when ignored. They do need the "oil changed." It is the nature of the beast.

Here are some tips on what to look for:

  • Have someone else check. Have your Virtual Assistant or someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time on the website do a visual check, etc. You might overlook some of the obvious issues because you’re familiar with your own website.
  • Check your pages and posts. You don’t have to read line by line, you’re just scanning for anything that looks "off." Especially pay attention to the "Blog" page that summarizes your posts, your contact page form, portfolio pages (displaying a lot of aligned images), calendar pages… anything that uses special functions (sliders especially break easily).
  • Sidebar check. Do they look okay, does everything appear as it should? Click through several pages to verify they are still working. Conflicts with third party widget plugins are common and usually among the first to break.
  • Footer check. Is your copyright date 2015? FYI, if you have WordPress credits and a theme credit, you should edit those out. Stick with the basics: your business name, city and state, and a link to your contact form.
  • Images check. Go page by page (especially top level pages on your menu bar). When inspecting for images, first clear your browser cache (clear history). Websites will store images and other assets locally on your computer so be sure you’re getting a live view. This way you can see immediately if your images are still aligning correctly, etc.
  • Check for broken links. If you want to save time, install the broken link checker plugin (if your webhost allows). Run it and once you have your report, go fix those links or reinsert missing images, etc. Once you’re done, uninstall the plugin because it’s a huge resource pig and will slow down your website.
  • Browser check. The new Microsoft Edge browser is coming July 29! My favorite service already has it available. I use Browser Stack – love them!
  • Mobile device check. My 88-year-old dad recently got his first smartphone! Everybody has one these days and for many, it’s their primary device! Check your website with an online responsive web design tool!

Hopefully everything looks as it should or better yet, showed you something you need to change. Websites are best when not treated as static print brochures, but instead evolve to meet the needs of your clients.

Need some help fixing some stuff that has gone awry? Give us a shout!

Posted in WordPress Maintenance

Image Tips for Facebook Boosted Posts

cardboard rocket

Boy in a cardboard rocket

What’s a Facebook boosted post? When you share a link, image, or post on your business page in Facebook, you can opt to extend your reach by paying to "boost" your post. Essentially it’s a paid ad.

I realized the limitations of designing Facebook images during a recent conversation with a font vendor. Here are tips to save you time and keep you from pulling your hair out!

Extending Your Blog Post Reach

You may have seen my newsletter about business websites with blogs getting a lot more visitor traffic. I see this with the websites I maintain for clients; so, I highly recommend maintaining an active blog as part of your marketing strategy.

To help get your latest blog posts out there, share them on your Facebook business page to increase your audience. However, you can have a ton of likes and still not reach many folks (unless you are an entertainer). That’s why using the boosted feature is one of your best bets. With the boosted post option on your Facebook business page, your blog post can effectively reach those who have liked your page and their friends!

I think we can all agree Facebook won’t win any design awards (what’s with the perpetual baby blue background color?). But people do use it (for some obsessively), so be sure to extend your reach by boosting your blog posts on your Facebook business page.

Facebook Boosted Image Tips

One way to ensure your boosted post attracts attention is to have a terrific image. Start by searching at places like Big Stock Photo, Stocksy, or Creative Market. Need some tips on choosing? Check out my post with tips.

Once you have that awesome image for your blog, you need to make sure your wording will work within Facebook’s image ad restrictions. The tricky part is staying within Facebook’s 20% text restriction.

Facebook fortunately does have a tool so you can check:

Facebook Grid Tool

The grid tool divides the space into a 5 x 5 grid. You upload your image, click on the spaces where text appears, and voila, you know if you’re within the 20% rule.

A couple of things to keep in mind when including text:

  • The text needs to be readable on a mobile device – LARGE TEXT,
  • You only have about one line to work with so think 4-5 words,
  • Use a condensed font (this article has some winners); you can go large and still fit within the restrictive 20% text grid.
  • Make sure your text has good contrast by adding a background color to the text area for best readability.
  • When in doubt, check the ad image policies (Facebook logo, for example, not allowed).
  • The shared boosted post image size is 1200 x 900 pixels recommended (displays 470 pixels in the timeline), although it will look smaller on a mobile phone being around 4 inches wide.

I hope that’s helpful. Do you boost your posts?

Posted in Social Media Graphics

Web Design Insider Tips