The term “call to action” is a bit of a buzzword in the web design/development industry and has been for a few years. Call to Action is a term that describes ways to get the user of your website to do something – an action – that is part of the purpose of your website.
Depending on your website, it can be a contact button where you’d like people to submit their name and email address for a special offer. Maybe your website is a service that you want people to sign up for. It could be that you have an e-commerce website where you want people to place an order. Or maybe you have a coupon or some sort of digital download that you’d like someone to get.
It’s a technique that’s still popular because it does work really well to draw your eye to the thing the business/web designer wants you to do or take action on.
It’s a good idea to:
Figure out what you want people to do when they visit your website. Maybe top two things?
Does your website make it clear how to complete those one or two things you defined in step 1?
One thing that I see a lot of local businesses missing out on is the ability to control how and what Google shows about your business when people search Google Maps for you (or related businesses).
When you search Google Maps, in this case for the term “coffee shop”, Google shows you a list of all the coffee shops in the area.
Clicking on Broadway Roastery, a great coffee shop here in Saskatoon, brings you to a detailed page on that business – not to the business’ web page.
An important distinction. Google still gets to have your customer’s eyeballs for another click.
Here you can see links to Directions, Reviews, Photos, and Related Places.
(As an aside, as a business owner I don’t want people to see the Related Places section – why send your customers to your competition? The solution is to add more content to this page so that Related Places is pushed further down the page. See further down for details.)
If you’d like to be able to add content and update this page, you just need to click on the Business Owner? link on the top right corner of the page.
From that link you’ll be given the option to a Add, Edit or Suspend a Listing. Typically you’ll want to Edit your listing.
After you choose to Edit a Listing you’ll see a page that allows you to edit all the information about your business (address, phone number, email, website, description, hours of operation, etc.)
Obviously filling in as much detail as you can will help Google know everything it needs to present the correct information to people searching for your business.
Towards the end of the business listing there’s a section for photos and videos.
This is where you can add more content to your listing so that Related Places gets pushed further down. Add links to videos about your business or upload photos of your business and people will see that. Much more interesting than those other pesky related businesses Google might want to show potential customers, right?
Once you’ve filled in all your details, Google will require you to verify that you’re the actual owner of the business. They do this by sending out a postcard with a special PIN code to the business address that you filled out in the business listing. In 2-3 weeks you’ll get a nice little Google postcard with a PIN code to come back and input to verify that you are the owner of the business. From then on, you’ll be able to update and make changes to your Places information on Google Maps.
This is why I was able to look at and seemingly make changes to Broadway Roastery’s info – they aren’t verified yet as the business owner of their listing. A business that has a verified owner will show a checkmark with alongside the “owner-verified” text.
I was recently contacted by Megan because a website she runs, The Gluten Free Vegan“It’s Gluten Free. It’s Vegan. It Actually Tastes Good.”, seemed to have been hacked and malware warnings were popping up when people would visit her blog.
Obviously not a good situation for a website – particularly one that’s all about food. People gotta eat!
The Gluten Free Vegan runs on WordPress, a popular content management system (CMS) that powers many blogs and websites – including this one. It’s a powerful CMS that allows for a lot of customization through it’s use of themes and plugins and it’s through these themes and plugin options that hackers try to sneak their way into WordPress websites. Most of the time the hackers are just looking to add some code to try and promote their own advertising/spam websites, not do anything really damaging. And this was the case with The Gluten Free Vegan – just some code added to try and create more links back to a spam site.
After reinstalling WordPress, uploading clean copies of the theme and plugins she was using and changing passwords on the WordPress users and database connection and verifying that the database was clean, she was back up and running with a secure website.
Keeping a Website Clean and Secure
Having a clean, secure website is something to be very vigilant about. A blacklisting from Google for serving up malware/viruses on your website can mean not only that those pictures of your cat don’t get LOL’d at by as many people – but more importantly if the website for your business is blacklisted it can mean a loss in revenue.
Like most things on the web these days, it’s great that it’s so easy and free to do so much – but that does come at a cost. There’s still lots of work involved in maintaining a website – even if the software is free to install. Get in touch with me if you’d like help cleaning up or securing your WordPress website.
As part of taking Lemon Productions full-time, I knew I wanted to create a better logo to brand my business with. The logo I had used was something I just threw together quickly along with a horrible chalkboard font. Something about how the shoemaker’s kids have terrible shoes seems appropriate.
I also knew that I needed to get some outside help in designing the logo. I was too close to my business and I wanted to get someone to help put something together that was outside my thinking of what Lemon Productions should look like – while still retaining strong elements of my thoughts, feelings and opinions.
But Aren’t You a Designer Computer Person?
It’s true that I could’ve spent some time in Photoshop or Illustrator putting something together. But I try to recognize my strengths and my weaknesses, and logo/branding isn’t one of them. I can take a brand and run with it on an online campaign or video – but that first creation of a brand isn’t my strong suite.
So, yes, I am a “designer computer person” but not the person that was best suited for the job at hand.
Outsourcing to Calgary
I got in touch with a friend of mine, Larissa, who’d moved to Calgary, following her husband’s dream of becoming a country and western gee-tar player (not entirely true). My request for logo work came at a great time as she’s slowly working her way back into doing design work after being off for maternity leave.
Working with Larissa on the logo has been a great exercise in being on the client side of the equation for a change. Larissa did a great job of pulling information from me about Lemon Productions, my hope for the business and thoughts about where it should go. Things that at first blush don’t seem to be related to just designing a logo – but the answers I gave her help to define what the logo should say and communicate.
After working out the ideas and thoughts behind Lemon Productions, we went through a few iterations on the logo – different fonts, shapes/drawing of a lemon (“Can the lemon look a little less, uh, nippily?“, colours and shades.
I knew we were on the right track when she sent me this picture from her iPhone of the shade of yellow she was thinking:
It didn’t take long for us to arrive at what you should see at the top of this website and the logo below:
Getting the logo done was the big one. Now we’re finalizing business cards and I’m putting the logo out there on Twitter & Facebook as well invoices and other client facing details. I’ll also be making subtle tweaks to this website over the next while, incorporating the lemon in appropriate places.
I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below – what do you think of the Lemon we ended up with?