New Template Being Pushed for Facebook Business Pages

changes

Many of you Facebook received the same update news that I got about changes to business Pages. I have read that these changes are largely inspired by a push to support small and local businesses.

There are more than 80 million businesses that use Facebook Pages. About two-thirds of the 1.6 billion people around the world visit a local business Page or an Event Page each week.

I have also read that Page reach and engagement for brands has been on the decline. The area of weakest engagement is the News Feed.

The News Feed is the key area for personal pages, but not so for business Pages. The changes seem to be making your business presence more like a website. Some smaller businesses have been using their Facebook Page as a website in that they don’t have a traditional website at all. Recently, I built a Facebook business Page for a professional photographer who did not have a website, though he did use Zenfolio to display and sell his work.

Business owners know that customer reviews (Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor etc.) are important to all businesses but especially for local businesses. If you trust the validity of those reviews for restaurants and services, they can drive engagement and sales. And facebook quickly realized (and abused to a degree) the fact that most of us especially trust reviews by their friends and families.

The update makes it easier for people to recommend your business by posting text, photos and tags directly on your Page.

There are also action buttons prominently near the top of Pages for things like booking an appointment for a haircut, ordering, sending a message or writing  a recommendation.

The email I initially received said:

We want to let you know that your Page’s template will be changing. This new design will help you connect with the people who care most about your business on Facebook.

The new layout is specifically for businesses like yours and will showcase important information about your business – like hours, prices and your menu – making it easier for people to connect with Ronkowitz LLC.

You can make this change now, or we’ll automatically update your Page layout on August 24th, 2018. You can also continue to use your current template.

Other changes are also coming for businesses. It may not really affect small, local businesses but job listings (which Facebook has been testing since 2017) is supposed to be added to business pages in the next few months.

Choosing the action buttons best suited to your business would be a good first step, but you can also feature information such as hours and prices, as well as Recommendations more prominently on Pages. You can also choose to highlight new content such as events and offers.

Some of these features are not new, but are displayed differently. Facebook says that 700 million people use Facebook Events each month. You could always link to ticket sales on another site, but now you will be able to sell tickets directly through Facebook Pages and make event-specific ads to help with promotion and marketing. Obviously, those changes benefit Facebook monetarily too.

I have seen other recent changes too not mentioned in most update articles. For example, a photo post I shared from my Instagram to Facebook no longer carried an Instagram label and so looked less like a repost.

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Hiring Web Developers

I saw a post about hiring developers. It was written with clients in mind, but these tips for hiring developers also are something to consider if you are a developer hoping to be hired.

Their list in brief is:

  1. Start with a crystal-clear project scope.
  2. Take your time.
  3. Determine must-haves vs. nice-to-haves.
  4. Ask (and expect) good questions.
  5. Ask for examples of previous work.
  6. Look for a cultural fit, not just talent.
  7. Consider logistics.
  8. Be open to change.
  9. Take a test drive.
  10. Set contractual milestones.
  11. Budget and pay appropriately.
  12. Put everything in writing.
It’s a good list to consider. Certainly, tip 5, ask for examples of previous work, is standard practice from bot sides. Item 9, take a test drive, is not something I have found to be common, but as a developer I would not object to doing.

 

Starting Your Own Web Design Business

I saw that godaddy.com had an article about some steps to a successful web design business. Being a freelance website designer, I had to look.

They say there are nine steps:

  1. Lay the groundwork.
  2. Create your community.
  3. Handle HR and legal concerns.
  4. Establish facilities.
  5. Get your IT in order.
  6. Set up finance and accounting systems and processes.
  7. Dive into marketing and advertising.
  8. Plan for sales.
  9. Set up systems for productivity and quality control.

Since I don’t do web design full time (and have no desire to), I don’t see you as a threat. Click that link above for more details, but here are just a few personal comments on some items on their list.

With all the free and easy to use websites that allow you to set up a basic website, a lot of people who would have needed a designer probably can go at it alone. Still, I find a good number of people who are still technophobes or just know that they won’t do it or maintain a site and want a service. I understand that. You can probably cut your own lawn, so why do so many people have a service to do it?

Groundwork covers a lot of ground. Sart with you really being able to build sites. Just knowing how to use some free sites or a bit of HTML is not enough for what most people want and certainly not enough for what even a small business needs. You may need to take some classes, workshops or online seminars. They suggest Lynda.com as one place to try.

There are lots of books about freelancing, and about web design if you can learn that way. There is also a lot of free info online.

Identifying pricing options was harder than I thought it would be. My first freelance gigs were for friends and I tended to underprice my work. You can have a pricing model of hourly vs. project-based billing. I find that people like project-based because they know the cost rather than seeing the hours pile up. But for my own work, I find the hours are often less than I estimated. You get better at this as you do a few jobs. I use a estimate spreadsheet to formulate a dollar or hours amount.

Don’t forget to build in meetings, travel, and revisions. I also calculate some third party costs that don’t go to me, such as buying a domain and web hosting which I will do for the client. Add in your time to do this administrative work.

My ideal clients are people I know and projects I am interested in doing. Web design is not a full-time gig for me so I can be selective. You may not be so lucky.

You may also be able to offer some other related services. If not, have some people you will recommend that may then recommend you for web work. I do some social media, photography, graphics and video work too. For many others, I refer them to people I know who have that expertise or companies that handle it. That can include branding and PR specialists, hosting, domain registration and email and more professional photo and video work (such as catalog and online store work).

I am a sole proprietor and have an LLC to protect my personal assets. These things vary by where you live and you may need to talk to a lawyer to help you with the necessary paperwork and/or use an online service such as LegalZoom.

Those business expenses can run from a lunch check with a potential client, to mileage, to setting up an office and buying hardware and equipment. Learn about what is legitimate as an expense with the IRS before you file for year one. I have a separate business bank account with its own associated debit and credit cards.

Yes, people do operate out of the local diner or coffee shop, but that won’t work for all clients.

I use a higher-end laptop and Adobe Creative Cloud for almost all my work. I backup all my work in two places -one on a drive in the office, one in the cloud.

I have made up my own invoicing forms and bill like many contractors with a portion to begin and the balance after launch. No payment, no launch.

You certainly need your own website before you take on clients. I have several that I use so I can demo different options and designs.

If you plan to do social media work, or just to promote your business, have some business social media accounts, and consider whether you want business profiles separated from your personal profiles onFacebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Get some business cards and start promoting yourself!

More at Running a successful web design business – The Garage

Web Design ‘Mistakes’

GoDaddy.com posted a list of 15 website design “mistakes.” Of course, some mistakes are not mistakes in some situations.

Here is their list of 15 (details on the full post) which are certainly all things to take into consideration with you website’s design.

Above-the-fold.
Speed.
Responsiveness.
Intuitiveness.
Navigational simplicity.
Readability.
Scannability.
Cleanliness.
Elegance.
Branding.
Contact info.
Search.
Timeliness.
Annoyances.
Error handling.

It is pretty much accepted that having the name of your business and purpose of your website immediately visible on your landing page “above the fold” without scrolling is a rule. “Above the fold” is an old media term from newspaper publishing where that space was what was displayed when a newspaper was stacked on a newstand.

The author lists as annoyances pop-up menus, autoplay and using Flash, but you’ll still find situations where these features play an important role. A pop-ups can be used to capture newsletter signups, for example. But if users are blocking all of them, have you planned for an alternative?

Adobe Flash has gone from being the hot feature for animated banners and menus to being a web design negative. Why? Besides pressure from Apple devices not using it, it is a closed, proprietary system in an increasingly web of open standards. It also is often hacked and it is a heavy draw on mobile device batteries.

Is It All About Conversions?

There is plenty of talk about e-commerce now that we are deep into the end-of-year holiday shopping season. In e-commerce marketing the key word seems to be CONVERSION. That term refers to converting site visitors into paying customers.

Getting visitors to your website is important of course, but even to a non-profit organization you want visitors to engage with their organization. A “conversion” is generally, but not always a “sale.” The organization might also want a visitor to add their name to a mailing list, request information, make a donation or download a special offer.

Websites monitor carefully your activity on the site. When a customer visits, adds item(s) to an online shopping cart and then “abandons” it, that is a lost conversion. Nowadays, it is common in that situation for the organization to re-engage the customer. They might offer free shipping, an email reminder, or even offer live chat with the customer as soon as they attempt to click away from the site.

Social media has become another way to boost conversions.  Social media has been a way to generate traffic to a site for a lot longer. Using contextual ads, word-of-mouth social sharing and positive reviews are all important to attracting users, but turning that traffic into sales or leads is more important.

Using social media is one way to react to the analytic data about visitors.  Using tools like AddShoppers, which uses reward sharing by identifying social “influencers by tracking social activity and crossing that with conversions or ROI.

As instructional designers often use the ADDIE framework for designing training and instruction, some social media and marketing designers use the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) principles to design the user experience. This framework is built upon the conversion funnel.

funnel

The conversion funnel is a phrase used in e-commerce to describe the journey a consumer takes through an Internet advertising or search system, navigating an e-commerce website and finally converting to a sale. The metaphor of a funnel is used to describe the anticipated decrease in numbers that occurs at each step of the process from getting traffic to the conversion of a sale or other action..

Of course,there are many things that can be done to increase conversions besides marketing. Increasing trust in the site, improving site navigation structure and content (text, images, video) and usability to reduce barriers to conversion.

Is it all about conversions? Probably, but it is not all about marketing.

Internet Cookies Are Not Always Sweet

 

cookies

Cookies have been around about as long as the World Wide Web. They are small pieces of data, text files stored on your computer or other device when you load a website in a browser.

Back in the 1990s, lots of sources would tell you to delete the cookies on your computer. People treated them like a kind of spyware. They can be useful. They remember your email and information for forms. They remember passwords that you want remembered. They remember preferences and allow users to register and remain logged in.

As with the sweet and crunchy kind, there are different kinds. A cookie can be just for one visit to a site – a “session cookie” or for multiple visits – a “persistent cookie.”  First party cookies are set by the site that you are visiting, but there are also “third-party cookies” set by other websites who serve up content on that site.

The European Union is concerned about cookies. They have an  ePrivacy Directive (often referred to as the ‘cookie law’) which places requirements on website owners and operators to provide information about, and gain consent for their use of cookies. I have visitors from outside the United States, so I have added the option to this site to opt out of cookies from the site.

This site is hosted on WordPress.com and it makes use of cookies for a variety of different purposes. They offer users a widget to inform and allow consent for cookies. You probably saw that the first time you visited the site, but it might be useful to know more about those cookies are used.

One technical one is akm_mobile which stores whether a user has chosen to view the mobile version of the site.

If you are a registered WordPress.com user, then a twostep_auth cookie is set when you are logged in using two factor authentication. Another cookie – wp-settings-{user_id} is useful to me as a user because it allows my user wp (WordPress) admin configuration for the site.

Some cookies are pretty innocent, such as cookietest which checks if cookies are enabled, and  botdlang which tracks the language a user has selected.

Performance cookies collect information on how you interact with websites and WordPress says this analytical data is only used to improve how a website functions. An example is the ab cookie used for AB testing of new features.

Restricting or disabling cookies can limit the functionality of sites, or prevent them from working correctly at all. Still, people might not like the use of ones like advertising cookies that are used to display relevant advertising to visitors. They track details about visitors such as the number of unique visitors, number of times particular ads have been displayed, the number of clicks the ads have received, and are also used to measure the effectiveness of ad campaigns by building up user profiles.

Sites often use third-party applications and services such as social media platforms. When you use a Facebook or Twitter sharing button or embedded video from YouTube and Vimeo, cookies may be set by these third parties, and used by them to track your online activity. (I don’t have any direct control over the information that is collected by these cookies and either does WordPress.

You can choose to restrict the use of cookies, or completely prevent them from being set. Most browsers provide ways to control cookie behavior, such as the length of time they are stored.

To learn more about how to manage cookies, see aboutcookies.org. For more about advertising cookies and how to manage them, see youronlinechoices.eu (EU based), or aboutads.info (U.S.-based).