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10 Ways We Crush Our ‘Free Website’ Competition

free website doesn't compare to Packerland WebsitesEarlier this month I received a call from a golf course getting ready to open for the season. The problem? The company’s free website displayed a message saying “No Tee Times Available.” Anyone who visited the website would be turned away, perhaps choosing to take their golf game elsewhere.

“How do we change the page?” the caller asked. I advised him to sign into his website to make the update. He didn’t know how to access the website or tweak the page.

“Can you help me?” he asked.

This was a tricky question.

A while back, someone at the golf course decided to go with a free website instead of the customized version we created. I helped him locate his sign-in page, told him how to sign in, and gave him some additional advice. I’m a nice guy, and I don’t want to see people suffer. I told him who to contact for further assistance, and the poor guy said, “They don’t return my calls!”

Like this client learned the hard way, there are pitfalls associated with a free website provider. These 10 benefits of hiring Packerland Websites should make you think twice.

  1. Routine Maintenance. Our base price includes minor maintenance, including updates to software and plugins. We also provide daily back-ups and weekly monitoring for updates. This routine maintenance keeps websites functioning properly and offers protection against hackers.
  2. Major Maintenance. Our base price includes 90 minutes of website “stuff,” like adding a slideshow, editing an existing page, or making other techie changes the client requests. We’re happy to partner with you to improve your online presence.
  3. Customer service. We answer the phone and respond to emails. We can trouble-shoot, pinpoint your issue, offer advice, and fix the problem. Our reliable staff has the knowledge and availability you can count on when you need help.
  4. Created with purpose. We ask about your business objectives and develop the website to address these goals. How concerned is a free website provider about your vision and mission?
  5. Marketing professional. My college education and the experience I gained owning and running a business give me an insider’s perspective to online marketing and business management. I’m eager to share my ideas and take your business to the next level.
  6. Customized URL. Companies can create WordPress websites easily enough for free, but URLs that end in WordPress.com or other telltale domains inform visitors you haven’t invested real time or money in your company’s website. Will that make them question your competence and long-term viability?
  7. Professional Quality. A free website might look OK, but a professional-looking website shows you take pride in your product or service. You cared enough to invest in your online presence.
  8. First Impression. In just fractions of a second, visitors will decide if they like your website and determine if they’ll stay or leave. A graphically appealing website will make a positive first impression. Packerland Websites’ graphic designers know how to incorporate the best design elements.
  9. SEO Secrets. Packerland Websites enhances your ranking on search engines results pages with behind-the-scenes techie language, site maps, and other optimization techniques.
  10. Local. We meet with clients in person at our Abrams and Green Bay offices. For clients outside Northeast Wisconsin, we can arrange a screen share and meet remotely.

Are you willing to settle for something just good enough? The old adage “Good enough is not good enough” rings true for websites. Don’t settle for a free website when Packerland Websites offers effective, custom-built websites at affordable prices. Contact us today to get started.

Websites that kick butt as a recruitment tool

Job recruitment by LeTourneau PlasticsA commercial contractor I spoke with recently said he didn’t need a website. What he needed were more employees! In today’s tight job market, he was missing out on a golden opportunity. Why not create a website that kicks butt as a recruitment tool? As employees are hired and the organization takes on more work, the website pays for itself.

The planning that goes into every website developed by Packerland Websites begins with the same important question: What are your business objectives? If you have jobs to fill, employee recruitment might be at the top of your list.

I asked Tracy Beyer, Human Resource Specialist at LeTourneau Plastics in Oconto, how the company uses its website (built by Packerland Websites) for recruitment. After all, the manufacturer has a roadside sign directing job seekers to its website.

1. Post job descriptions in real time
LeTourneau often has more than one position open. To save time and labor, LeTourneau directs candidates to the website right away instead of manually changing the roadside sign as positions change. The website makes it easy for LeTourneau to announce each opening and post its job description. The job postings are readily available 24/7, convenient to anyone searching after hours.

2. Easy navigation directs candidates to applications
The most useful recruitment feature on the LeTourneau website is the simple pathway to the employment opportunities pages (About Us > Employment Page > Apply Online link). The link directs candidates to the online/printable application and the application instructions. The Employment Quick Link found in the footer of every page also brings candidates to the application link.

3. Streamlined application processing
The Human Resources employees have automatic access to applications immediately after the applications are submitted. The website forwards applications to the staff’s Outlook email inboxes. The staff can instantaneously prequalify the candidates and advance to the next phase of the hiring process.

4. Adaptable content for recruitment
WordPress (our CMS–content management system), makes it easy for multiple users to change and update content. This flexibility is helpful at LeTourneau because the staff is able to modify the text according to specific application requirements and processes.

5. Give recruits a reason to choose you
Serious job seekers will research employers online before they apply for a job. An attractive, user-friendly company website will contribute to the strength of your brand. Visitors to the LeTourneau website see images and text describing the company’s history, capabilities, products, and commitment to quality control. The employment page touts the company’s competitive wages, full insurance benefits, 401(k), vacation, paid holidays, and 1st shift Monday-Friday schedule.

6. Bells and whistles
Dress up your website with features that will resonate with potential employees
• Clickable “Now Hiring” button on the Home page
• Employee testimonials, either written or video
• “Meet our Staff” pages that include photos and professional bios
• Employee profiles as Blogs and Vlogs
• Job satisfaction surveys
• Photos, videos, and articles that demonstrate the company culture
• Compensation, training, and benefit package information

If you have jobs to fill, are you giving recruits a good reason to choose you? Your brand is more important than ever in today’s competitive job market. We can help you build that brand and attract talented employees. Give us a call today, 920-826-5901.

Designer joins Packerland Website team

Alexa Vander Wyst has joined the team of Packerland Websites in Green Bay as a WordPress web developer. A Little Chute native, Alexa earned a Bachelor of Designer Alexa VanderWyst joins Packerland WebsitesFine Arts in Graphic Communications at Northern Michigan University in 2016. After graduation she landed a job designing websites in the U.P. More recently, she was employed as a graphic designer and website coordinator at a promotional products company in De Pere.

“With her background in graphic design and website development, Alexa brings a combination of talents to her new role at Packerland Websites,” said Bill Koehne, owner. “Aside from her technical skills, she has a knack for communicating with customers to help them create websites that meet their business goals.”

Alexa said she’s always had an interest in art, and the more she learned about graphic design the more she liked it.

“I like solving problems and I like organizing things, which are very good skills for a graphic designer,” she said. She’s looking forward to applying her visual design skills to create vibrant and user-friendly websites for clients of Packerland Websites.

In addition to her role as a full-time website developer, Alexa works part time behind the scenes at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. She enjoys listening to music and spending time outdoors, especially hiking and downhill skiing.

“With Alexa onboard, Packerland Websites is poised and ready to take on more clients,” Bill said. Contact us at 920-826-5901 or visit us at 2140 Velp Avenue in Howard to find out how we can help you.

Website banner photo: Professional tips

Here are six things to consider when snapping a website banner photo, because you want to greet visitors with a look that says, “Wow!” You have only one opportunity to make a good first impression, so your landing page needs to be attractive and memorable. That’s why an impressive website banner is so important. Visitors can quickly scan the banner image to learn about your website and your business. Colorful photos work great as website banners. They engage viewers and draw attention to your brand.

Example of cropping for website banner photo
When posing a photo for a website banner, it’s best to position your subject to the right or left side to allow room for a Call to Action button. Take a high resolution, wide angle photo that you can crop to 437 pixels tall and 1,750 pixels wide.

So let’s take a look at what makes a good website banner photo, because snapping the right photo takes some planning.

1. Extra wide image

• Think of a website banner as a long sign stretched across a wide area.

• Most banners are three to four times longer than they are tall, 437 pixels tall and 1,750 pixels wide.

• Take a banner photo by holding your camera in the landscape position, not vertical.

2. Cropping a Banner Photo

The digital photos you snap will undoubtedly be square, not rectangular, which means you’ll need to crop the top and bottom of the photo so you’re left with a long, narrow rectangular image that serves as a website banner photo. To do this, begin with the end in mind. You know you’ll need a wide image, so when you pose the photo, think about how the image will look after it is cropped. Here are some tips:

• Remember that at least a third of the top and/or bottom of the photo will be cropped away, so place your subject appropriately.

• Position your subject to the right or left side, so that once the image is made into a banner, text can be overlaid on the banner without covering up the subject.

• Use a high resolution camera in order to maintain the clarity you need once you crop your photo.

3. Background

Put some thought into how the background looks when posing your subject.

• Avoid busy or distracting backgrounds that will take interest away from your main subject.

• Stand far from your subject (or stand closer but zoom out) so you have background on both the right and left sides of your subject.

4. Composition

• Rather than centering your main subject in the photo, offset the subject one-third of the way into the photo. This composition will increase interest and provide space to overlay a call to action box.

5. Go Panoramic

Consider using a panoramic setting on your camera or Smartphone to capture a wide screen image.

• Keep your camera as level as possible as you pan across your subject.

• Move the camera, not your body, when taking panoramic shots.• Avoid panoramic photography of moving objects. The blurriness might ruin your photo.

6. Start experimenting

• To capture the best wide screen image for a website banner, take lots of images.

• Move around as you snap photos to experiment with different angles

• Move forward and backward to photograph subjects at varying distances from your subject

• Try different poses.

• Avoid harsh shadows.

Have fun creating the images that show off your brand, because website banners that “pop” will encourage visitors to more fully interact with your website.

SSL, HTTPS and Secure sites are the New Normal

At Packerland Websites we take privacy and security very seriously. We believe your website should be protected from hackers and eavesdroppers, and one way to ensure this is to transfer data along a secure connection. This secure connection is represented by the letters HTTPS in the URL of a website.

HTTP is short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, which describes the way data is sent over the Internet. In comparison, HTTPS adds an S for Secure, which means the data is encrypted to protect it more fully. The final S shows that the data on a website is transferred over a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) connection. To get your website hosted on this secure connection, an SSL certificate is needed.

I know this is a bit technical, but there’s a really good reason to understand what HTTPS means, especially after Oct. 27 because Google Chrome updated to a new version and websites beginning with HTTP instead of HTTPS are now flagged as “unsecure.”

SSL Green Padlock on HTTPS Packerland Websites pageWhen someone visits an HTTPS website, a green lock icon will be displayed to indicate the website has an extra layer of protection. When someone visits an HTTP website, a warning message will say the website is not secure. Customers who see this message might be afraid to interact with the website, thinking that their data might be more accessible to hackers.

Here’s how one Google article explains the new policy: “Passwords and credit cards are not the only types of data that should be private. Any type of data that users type into websites should not be accessible to others on the network, so starting in version 62, Chrome will show the ‘Not secure’ warning when users type data into HTTP sites.”

If Packerland Websites installed an online store on your website — no worries. You already have the SSL certificate and HTTPS connection you need for privacy and protection. We made sure of that.

For the rest of our clients, we recommend you upgrade to HTTPS. The SSL certificate once was optional, but now is the norm. You want to make your website as safe as possible for yourself and your visitors.

As an added benefit, switching to an HTTPS website should improve your Google ranking because Google considers SSL as a ranking signal.

Packerland Websites is investing over $14,000 in its hosting system over the next 15 months in order to provide clients with the most superior and secure hosting system. We encourage you to transfer to our newest system.

Everyone knows you can save money by buying in bulk. Because of the number of websites Packerland Websites hosts, we have reached a volume which results in savings for our clients. You can upgrade your entire hosting system for less than the cost of what you’re likely to spend if you purchase an SSL independently. We take care of the entire process. If you are a new client of Packerland Websites, HTTPS is now standard practice for our hosting system, so no action is necessary.

If you’d like to know more about the “Not secure” label, we invite you to read https://www.ecwid.com/blog/https-how-to-increase-search-engines-and-peoples-trust.html

How to Turn a Real Estate Website into a Sales Tool

Don’t you love it when things come together? We had the perfect melding of developer and client recently at Packerland Websites when our developer, Diane, was looking to buy property, and our client, Lisa Hanson, was looking to update the Hanson Realty website, Hanson-Realty.com. Real estate website for Hanson Realty

Key features of

a real estate website

Right off the bat, Diane knew what she liked in a real estate website.

  • Immediate access to a search bar to look for properties.
  • A large number of listings on a search results page.
  • Freedom to search the website without being required to create an account.
  • Quickly visible stats for square footage, acreage, number of bedrooms, etc.
  • A simple way to save a property to look at later
  • An email notification for property updates, like price reductions
  • Easy-to-find phone numbers for real estate agents

“If a site isn’t easy to search and appealing to me, I don’t want to stay on that site,” Diane says.

Searching the real estate website is easy

With multiple MLS feeds linked directly to the website, home and property buyers can scan through the properties on the market or narrow their search in several different ways. Maps show the locations of the properties for sale, and clickable markers provide a nugget of information about each property. Buyers can schedule showings online and use the Mortgage Calculator to determine how much the property might cost over time.

For parents of school-aged children, the school pages list the schools in the district and their Great Schools rating, plus images from the community and descriptions of the area.All this, and mobile friendly to boot!

Benefits for the real estate agents

The real estate website becomes a sales tool for Realtors. Agents may have their own accounts and can track the clients they’re working with and manage their own leads. They can change their profiles or add new listings. They can see who viewed their listings or saved a search and know if this individual is an active client. Emails from their clients go directly to them, not to a general mailbox where a message might be forwarded to the wrong agent.

To evaluate how the real estate website is working, analytics are built into the dashboard to measure traffic, emails, and other types of engagement.

The power (and simplicity) of managing your own website

WordPress is the website creation tool used by Packerland Websites. A great thing about WordPress is that it’s a content management system that’s user friendly and allows room for creativity.

What does this mean for you? It means that you get a great-looking and highly functional website built by Packerland Websites to specifically meet your business objectives. It also means that you have the ability to manage the content on your website yourself to keep it up-to-date and fresh.

Basic functions come naturally.
If you’re familiar with word processing software, then doing the basic functions in WordPress will come naturally. You don’t need a background in computer coding or technical knowledge to make adjustments.

Want to change your business hours or add a photo to your website? No need to call us! You’ve got the power at your fingertips to make the change.
We’ll even teach you how to wield this new and amazing power through a one-on-one training session. Plus, we’ll provide ongoing support if you get stuck.

Updating your website shouldn’t take a lot of your time, leaving you more time to concentrate on your business. Plus, you can share the responsibility of updates among multiple users.

Here’s a cool tool!
We’ve created an ingenious tool for you to use when you’re learning the ropes. We call it a Website Update Tutorial, or “WUT” for short, as in “WUT’s up?” “WUT’s happening?” and “WUT do think of me now?” But I digress…

The purpose of the WUT is to provide a starting point for routine changes. Under the “Our Services” tab of our website you’ll find the WUT, listing step-by-step instructions to make website updating easy. On our website you can watch a video or download a PDF of the WUT, or scroll through the instructions and visualize the process by looking at screen shots of the WUT.

Download the PDF of the WUT or visit https://packerlandwebsites.com/website-update-tutorial/ to see it online or watch the video tutorial.

You’re in the driver’s seat.
We created different formats of the WUT, but each format contains the same easy-to-follow guide. Use whichever tutorial suits you best. The important thing is that you feel comfortable updating your website in order to keep your message accurate and fresh.

We like to make things easy for our clients, and this tutorial is a great example of that philosophy. When you partner with Packerland Websites for a website, you’re getting a website built by Packerland; managed by you.

 

 

Why trust WordPress as the platform of choice

Website building WordPress platform

At Packerland Websites, we think it makes a ton of sense to use WordPress as our platform for websites. And guess what, we’re not alone. WordPress makes up more than 20% of all websites on the Internet. There’s a good reason. The platform offers the flexibility we love, because no two websites are alike.

WordPress also encourages creativity because of its ability to be customized, mobile friendly, and owner managed to help you obtain your Internet goals. Plus, WordPress is easy to use, because we teach you how to use some WordPress basics. Check out our custom website update tutorial to see just how easy it is.

Previously WordPress was accused of having a bad rap from some developers who claim the content management system is too easy to hack, and nobody wants their website hacked. Believe me, nobody! Of course, those developers were promoting other platforms as well.

The No. 1 cause of website hacking is a lack of personal security regarding computer use and protective passwords. Other causes are phishing schemes, theft of your personal data, and third party access via outdated theme or plugins which can be vulnerable when a site is not maintained properly.

So how can you keep your WordPress website safe and secure? One of the best protections is to have secure access to your website. Don’t use “Admin” for a login name or “password” for your password. Be wary of suspicious looking emails. Before you click, look at who sent them, where any links may be taking you, and any suspicious downloads.

You also want to keep current with the updates to software and plug-ins. Performing regular checks and updates improves both the security and site functionality.

That’s where we come in. At Packerland Websites, we include basic maintenance updates for our clients as part of our hosting. While we cannot control your passwords and emails, Packerland Websites can take care of the regular maintenance updates that website require. We feel this is so important we automatically include this maintenance in our hosting package, for your security and ours.

There are additional levels of security that can be added to your website. To learn more, check out this article.

 

What Municipalities Need to Know About Upcoming ADA Compliance

ADA Compliance on WebsitesMarketing scare tactics are often used to get people to buy something, and what makes them even more effective is when they have some truth woven into their message.

A current website sales tactic targets entities in the public sector, like school districts and municipalities, and promotes compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Their sale pitch hinges on the premise that ADA compliance is inevitable and gives the impression you are already late.

The fear is that ADA compliance may become unreasonably expensive, technically difficult, and a real pain!

The scary truth is that accessibility to online content presented by public entities is in the process of being treated like accessibility to buildings. See https://www.ada.gov/websites2.htm

Here’s some background. ADA Title II requires that the programs, services and activities of public entities be accessible to people with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Justice is responsible for enforcing Title II and is also responsible for clarifying the rules surrounding accessible websites.

We believe that accessibility is important, and we predict that ADA compliance will become a mandate as time goes on. When this occurs, the requirements for handicapped accessible websites will be more strictly enforced.

The good news is this: An existing website, similar to an existing building, will be given more leeway in getting its accessibility up-to-date. One proposal granted municipalities two years in which to comply with the accessibility requirements.

More good news is that accessible design does not necessarily mean a lot of additional cost for the website owner. It’s possible that only small changes in color contrast or behind-the-scenes coding will be necessary to bring a website into compliance.

The third piece of good news is that the accessibility rules have not been formally adopted, so immediate compliance is unnecessary. Public entities have the opportunity to monitor the rule-making process of the USDOJ, watch for any new requirements and the exemptions that go with them, and note any deadlines set for ADA compliance.

A big challenge will be to find a website developer that you can get to know and trust. You will need someone to do the work with competence and timeliness, without a big price tag.

Packerland Websites is that developer. We have built websites for the local school district and for a number of municipalities. You can bet we’ll keep our eye on these compliance rulings and will be a trusted source for ADA compliance for your website, should the need arise.

In the meantime, don’t be swept away by the scare tactics of our competitors. It’s not worth it!

Converting your expertise into content

Struggling to find time to write content Business owners sometimes struggle to find the time to write content for their business website. Although they are experts in their field, they’re not necessarily experts at writing. And even if they are skillful writers and great storytellers, their time may be better spent on other facets of their business, including the tasks they alone can handle.

Writer to the Rescue, the content writing division of Packerland Websites, can help. By working with Joan Koehne, the Wonder Writer, businesses save time and energy and come away with effective content written specifically to meet their business objectives.

The process starts by having clients review a questionnaire, http://writertotherescue.com/website-content/questionnaire-for-website-content/, which is a good starting point for Joan to learn about their business and formulate website content that’s well-written and meaningful to the target audience.

Compelling content has many advantages:

• Reduces bounce rates

• Keeps visitors engaged longer

• Makes audience more likely to act in the way you envision to meet your business objectives

• Helps you build your authority in the field

• Grows your reputation as an industry leader

• Customizes your brand image

• Presents a tone and voice that reflect your vision and mission

• Helps your website rank higher on search engine result pages.

Whether you’re creating a new website or rebuilding a current one, Joan can work with you to create original content that accurately and professionally tells your story. Trust the Wonder Writer to convert your expertise into effective content. Contact her today at 920-639-1865 or Joan@WriterToTheRescue.com.