Category: Wellbeing Websites

If you run a wellbeing business you’ll need a high performing website that not only showcases your services, classes, courses and events, but also helps you stand out from the crowd and gets your business found by the right people. Read our posts to find out how…

A guide to creating images for your website

Did you know that using the wrong sized images can drastically affect the performance of your website? Or that most images are subject to copyright and you could be breaking the law by using them?

If you don’t know your kilobytes from your megabytes, your JPGs from your PNGs, or your pixels from your pandas, then fear not! We’re here to bring it all into focus for you.

(Read on to find out who the panda is and how he can help…)

So, what’s the problem?

Feeling congested…

Is your website not performing properly? Do the pages take a long time to load? Website performance is one of the many factors Google uses to rank a page. And many people don’t realise there could be a simple reason for this: the images.

Your internet connection is like a 2-way highway between the internet and your computer. And data is like traffic running in both directions. The more data there is, the slower the traffic gets.

When you visit a web page in your browser, every image has to be downloaded onto your computer. If there are 5 images on the page, with a file size of 100 kilobytes each, that’s 500 kilobytes, or half a megabyte – which basically equates to a lot of traffic on the highway.

Imagine your computer’s hard drive is like a multi-level car park with a certain capacity measured in kilobytes, megabytes and gigabytes. Every file added to your computer takes a parking space, until the car park is full. The size of the file is like the size of a vehicle: scooter, car, van, lorry, etc. Text files, like scooters, can be quite small. But video files are more like juggernauts. They can be huge because they contain a lot more information.

OK, so you get the idea. Image files can vary in size, just like vehicles. And the bigger they are, the more space they take up in the car park (i.e. your hard drive), and on the internet highway.

Looking a little squiffy…

Your images might not be displaying as they should. Perhaps they look stretched, grainy, ‘blocky’ or out of focus.

You might not think this is very important in the grand scheme of things, but let us assure you – details matter. Your website is your shop front. Whether you’re selling products or services, more often than not it’s your website that provides your potential customers with their first impression of your business.

If they’re presented with a substandard website, with spelling mistakes, poor quality images and pages that take too long to load, they’re probably not going to think much of your business. They may even get bored of waiting for a page to load and look elsewhere. We get very impatient when searching or browsing online. We want information instantly.

If a visitor to your website thinks you haven’t taken care with your brand, your words and your images, why would they think you’d take care of them as a customer?

How do I make it right?

Ok, so you get how important it is to have good quality, correctly sized images on your website. But how do you go about making that happen?

Let’s break it down into the 4 things you need to know about creating images online:

  1. Where do I find images?
  2. How big should my images be?
  3. How can I reduce the file size?
  4. What do I do with them now?

Where do I find images?

Here are our top tips for finding images online.

No stealing

Google is the most obvious place to search for images. You just type what you’re looking for into the search field, go to Images, and you’ll be presented with thousands upon thousands of images to choose from.

However, we have one very strong word of warning here: Don’t ignore copyright issues!

If you’re running a business online, you should never use free images you’ve found via search engines, unless they’re ‘Labelled for reuse’. Luckily, Google makes it easy to find these. Just select ‘Search tools’ from the menu bar in Google Images and you’ll see a dropdown menu for ‘Usage rights’, which can help you find free images without breaking any copyright laws.

Give credit

If you find the perfect image via a search engine but it’s not labelled for reuse, or you’re unsure if it’s protected by copyright, you may still be able to use it.

Most people will happily let you use their image as long as you credit them for it. You’ll need to find out who owns the image by visiting the website and contacting the individual or company through their email address or contact form. Send them a message asking if they’re willing to allow you to use the image. Make sure you’re specific about which image you want to use and how you want to use it. Give them the URL of your website and a brief outline of what you do.

If they give their permission, you can go ahead and use the image, but make sure you add a caption stating the source of the image, with a link to their site.

Free stuff

Although many online images are subject to copyright, there are some websites that do provide free, high resolution, stock photos. They may not have such an extensive collection as paid image libraries, but you might just find exactly what you’re looking for without putting your hand in your pocket.

Some examples are:

Visit the library

If you’ve tried the free sources and still can’t find the perfect image, why not visit the library?

Online image libraries are a great way to source high quality, legitimate images. There are millions to choose from and you don’t need to worry about copyright issues or crediting anyone for your image: once you’ve bought it, it’s yours to do what you like with.

You usually pay for your images with credits, which you buy in bulk and then keep your account topped up as you use them.

Our favourite image libraries are:

How big should my images be?

When it comes to image size there are 3 things to consider:

  1. dimension: measured in pixels, e.g. 300 x 400px
  2. resolution: the number of pixels packed into a set space like an inch
  3. file size: measured in kilobytes (kb) and megabytes (mb)

The higher the resolution, the better the quality of an image because it has more information in each square. But more information means a bigger file. So, ideally we want a balance between image quality and file size.

If you upload an image into WordPress that’s very large, say 1920 x 1080px, it’s possible to resize it within WordPress, but the original file will still be sitting in your media library taking up valuable space. It’s far better to resize the image before uploading it in the first place.

Here’s how:

  1. Download the image from your search engine or image library.
  2. Use an image editing tool like Pixlr to re-size and/or crop your image.
  3. Re-save the image at the correct size.
  4. Upload to WordPress.

It’s worth noting, however, that you can’t simply import an image into Pixlr, type in the size you want to change it to and hit enter. I’m afraid, due to a little trickster known as ‘aspect ratio’, that simply won’t work. This is what causes your image to look stretched or distorted because you’re trying to resize it to dimensions it simply won’t fit.

There’s a little more involved in resizing images than first meets the eye, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be creating perfect images in no time. For a free tutorial video on using Pixlr to re-size and crop your images, simply sign up to our blog at the bottom of this page.

The exact size requirements for your image will depend on the styling of your blog or website. But, as a general guide, an image spanning the width of the page will need to be approximately 700-800px wide.

If you have a blog landing page (like this one), you’ll need to insert a featured image into your blog post so that it appears as a thumbnail next to your excerpt.

If you share your blogs on Facebook and Twitter, you should also create correctly sized images for these social networks, which can be entered into the Yoast SEO plugin within your blog post.

Here’s a rough guide to approximate image sizes:

  • Blog main image: 720 x 360px (depends on your styling)
  • Blog thumbnail: min. 200 x 200px (depends on your styling)
  • Facebook image: 1200 x 628px (recommended by WordPress)
  • Twitter image: 1024 x 512px (recommended by WordPress)

How can I reduce the file size?

Ok, so you’ve found the image you want to use and edited it to the right size. But what if the file size is still too big? Well, that’s where the panda comes in.

Say hello to the panda at TinyPNG.

This is a free online tool that will neatly compress your image file without losing any quality. In other words, it optimises your image for using it online.

As an example, I uploaded an image that was 40.3kb and the panda reduced it to 36.4kb, saving me 10% of file space. And the larger the file, the bigger the saving. So, with a 3.6mb file, panda was able to reduce this down to only 307kb, saving me a massive 90% of file space. And here’s the proof that you can’t tell the difference:

Man with laptop writing notes

Man with laptop writing notes (compressed)

The image at the top is the original 50kb file. The image at the bottom has been compressed down to 43kb using TinyPNG. The dimensions are the same but the file size is reduced by 15%. Can you tell the difference?

What do I do with them now?

Once you’ve found the images you want to use, resolved any copyright issues, re-sized them correctly for your different media, and optimised them for the web, what next?

If you’re using a WordPress blog you’ll need to import your images into your library. You can either import them first, by selecting Media and Add New:

WordPress screengrab - media library

Drag and drop the files in, or click Select Files to browse for them on your hard drive. You can then insert them into the required locations by selecting them from your library. Or, you can upload your images directly into the blog post:

WordPress screengrab blog post

Here’s how:

  • Main image: using the standard visual editor, move your cursor to where you want the image to be placed within your text and select Add Media from the toolbar (see screengrab above). From here you can either upload a new file or select an existing one from the media library. Be sure to select Full Size from the Size menu so that the image is displayed exactly as you created it.
  • Thumbnail image: in the right hand column you’ll see a text box called ‘Featured Image’. Click the “set featured image” link and add your image file in the same way as above.
  • Facebook image: if you have the Yoast SEO plugin, scroll down to the Yoast box beneath the main body of your blog post and click the social icon on the left hand side. In the Facebook tab, click Upload Image next to the ‘Facebook Image’ field and add your correctly sized Facebook image (see screengrab below).
  • Twitter image: do exactly the same as the Facebook image, but this time select the Twitter tab in the social section of the Yoast box.

WordPress screengrab Yoast SEO

You should preview your blog post to check the images are displaying correctly before publishing. Once published, you can check the thumbnail image on your blog landing page. You can then share your post across your social media networks and again, check the images are displaying correctly.

Good luck!

And don’t forget, you can get a free tutorial video showing you how to re-size and crop your images using Pixlr, simply by signing up to our blog below.


Top 5 tips for search engines

In this 3 minute video, Leia shares our top 5 tips for search engines.

Like website security, search engine optimisation for your WordPress site is not something you should spend a lot of time on. Following our top 5 tips for search engines will put you way ahead of most business websites.

In this video you’ll learn:

  1. What search engines are
  2. How search engines work
  3. A little secret about search engines
  4. 5 things you can do to get better search results
  5. A bonus action you can take

What did you think?

Did you find this video useful? Do you have any comments or feedback? Don’t be shy, leave a comment below.


Get peace of mind in 3 minutes with simple WordPress security

In this video our co-founder Guy gives you a clear 3-step action plan to give you peace of mind when it comes to security on your WordPress website.

Website security is not something you should spend a lot of time on. Follow the 3 steps (and the bonus step in the video if necessary) and get on with running your business.

In Simple WordPress Security you’ll learn:

  1. How your website works
  2. Why things go wrong
  3. What can go wrong
  4. A helpful mental outlook
  5. A 3-step action plan
  6. A bonus step

What did you think?

Did you find this video useful? Do you have any comments or feedback? Don’t be shy, leave a comment below.

 


Prepare for a redesign with a website content audit

In my previous post SMART goals for websites and marketing I introduced the SMART framework that we’ve adapted for websites and marketing. In this post we’re going to dive deep into creating a Website Content Audit before you undertake a website redesign.

The first question to ask when facing a website redesign is: Why? Why? and Why? No, that’s not a typo. The 3 whys are a great way to drill down to the root cause that is driving the change. Too often companies change their websites on a whim or out of boredom. Considering that a redesign can cost even more than the initial build its prudent to consider your goals carefully before proceeding.

Identify your goals

Before you embark on a website redesign you should identify your goals: First, identify the key business driver for the redesign. It’s unlikely that the purpose of the whole business has changed. If a new product or service is being launched, is it possible to redesign only a section of the site or add new sections to the site? Is it possible to get away with a design refresh with a change of logo, fonts and colour palette? (assuming you are rebranding your business).

Startups

If you’re a startup though, it may be that you’ve completely realigned your business and are targeting a new audience and even have a new value proposition and new products.

Getting clear on your goals is really important: Check out my post SMART goals for websites and marketing first and then come back to this post. Right, let’s crack on with that website audit!

5 steps to performing a successful Website Content Audit

We recommend the following 5 step process to help you evaluate your existing website content:

  1. Audit your existing website content
  2. Review your site analytics
  3. Plan your redirects
  4. Cull your content
  5. Check for broken links

1. Audit your existing website content

The first step is to take stock of all the content on your existing website. This includes pages, landing pages and your blog posts. With your new goals in mind what content do you currently have that can be repurposed and tweaked? You’ll need a spreadsheet for this task, fortunately we have just the thing!

The Website Content Audit spreadsheet serves two purposes. Firstly, it shows in black and white (green, amber and red actually) what content you currently have. Secondly you can use it as a basis for creating a new site structure. Armed with this information you’ll be able to create a sitemap for your redesigned site which can be used as part of a brief for a freelance web designer or web design agency.

2. Review your current site analytics

It’s a good idea as part of your audit to review your website analytics over a 3, 6 and 12 month period before culling your pages. The metrics you should be looking at are:

  • What content has had the most visits?
  • What are the top landing pages?
  • What content has brought the most repeat visits?
  • What content has had the longest visit duration?
  • What content has brought the most referrals from other sites?

You’ll need to make an informed decision about what to do with this content. If it’s no longer relevant for your business then you can confidently remove these pages but bear in mind this will affect the volume of traffic to your site and depending on how radical a shift your business is going through – you could risk losing a lot of your traffic.

Visitors are not customers

This is not as alarming as it sounds because visitors that are not looking for what your business sells are just that: visitors, and visitors are not customers. You will have to have a solid conversion strategy in place to convert website visitors into customers. But it’s just a fact of life that only a small % of visitors will convert to customers.

A planned drop in traffic is quite acceptable and at this point it’s worth having a think about a relaunch strategy so you can use it to drive new and relevant visitors to your updated site when it goes live. Because that’s actually when the real work starts!

3. Plan your redirects

If you’re getting a lot of referred traffic from pages that are no longer relevant and have decided to remove those pages permanently then it’s best practice to make sure that these pages redirect in a way that is as seamless as possible.

This is so that visitors are not faced with a ‘404 page not found’ error. There is a column in our Website Content Audit worksheet for this exact purpose. If you have a WordPress site then install the plugin Broken Link Checker before you cull your content – this will enable you to see the current state of broken links on your site.

But let’s back track for a moment, what do I mean by referred traffic? Referred traffic are visitors to your pages from other sites. These could be via a google search or someone linking to your content from a page or blog post on your website or a link from social media or email campaigns. It’s worth noting that you have little control over who links to your site content or where they link from. This is another very good reason to review your website analytics before your content cull.

4. Cull your content

If you’ve been running your site for a while or have been creating a lot of content you’ll want to do some housekeeping and cull your content in preparation for your website redesign. Again, use our Website Content Audit spreadsheet to record redundant content first. Then, if you’re using a content management system like WordPress you should unpublish the content by switching its status to draft first (rather than deleting it permanently immediately) and also set up your redirects.

5. Check for broken links

screen grab of WordPress plugin: Broken Link Checker

Once you’ve removed the redundant content you’ll want to check for those broken links on your site to these pages. This will cover any redirects that you’ve missed. Use the WordPress Plugin Broken Link Checker to do this. It’s way more thorough than trawling through your site manually especially if you’ve written several hundred blogs over the years.

Forms

Your website probably has some signup forms for people to subscribe to your blog or download content. (If it doesn’t it should!) You’ll need to check that any confirmation or thank you pages still exist in the new site to avoid those nasty 404 pages.

Social Media Accounts

Your business likely has a presence on multiple social media channels. You’ll need to check that these all link to existing pages on your redesigned site.

How to conduct your Website Content Audit

There are two ways to approach this. First, login to your website content management system. If it’s a WordPress site you’ll see a list of pages in 3 different categories at the top of the pages section.

Screengrab of WordPress Pages

Go through all the pages starting with draft pages first – delete any drafts that you don’t plan on making live. Next scan your list of pages for ones that are redundant or duplicates.

The second approach is to browse your site in the normal way, clicking your way through the main navigation and sub-pages and sections you have. Add all the pages you currently have to the Website Content Audit Spreadsheet.

Using the Website Content Audit Spreadsheet

Screengrab of the Website Content Audit Spreadsheet

There are 3 worksheets:

  1. (Example) Existing site pages
  2. Existing site pages – for your pages
  3. Existing site posts – for your posts

As you can see from the image we’re using colour coding.
Green is for pages you want to keep in their entirety.
Amber is for pages that have content you’d like to repurpose.
Red is for pages you don’t want to keep (bear in mind those URL redirects here). If you hover your cursor over the column headings in the spreadsheet you’ll find some useful comments to explain what goes in each column.

What next?

The whole point of this exercise is to have a good hard look at what content you currently have, but this blog should raise more questions than it answers… In fact the content audit deliberately makes obvious what you don’t have. What sections are missing? How will you relaunch the site? What will your content strategy be moving forward? And the most important question of all: How will you convert visitors into customers?

All of these topics will be covered in our upcoming blog posts. So if you haven’t already, sign up using the form above and get your free Website Content Audit download, plus our monthly blogs delivered straight to your inbox.


SMART goals for websites and marketing

The SMART framework was popularised by modern management guru Peter Drucker. It was initially developed to help organisations set realistic goals that are measurable. But as a framework it can be applied to any project, including digital marketing and website design.

It’s worth noting that there are many different definitions for the different letters and it’s worth adapting the framework to suit your needs best.

Here at Wildheart we use the SMART goals framework as just one of the tools to help our clients:

  1. Define SMART goals for your digital marketing campaigns
  2. Define SMART goals for a website design or redesign

This post introduces our adaptation of the SMART framework specifically for marketing and web design purposes.

Here are our SMART goals for websites and marketing:

S is for Specific

It’s important to set a specific goal because it provides you with a focus for your activities. Goals that are too big are unlikely to get finished. Can you break your project into smaller goals?

M is for Measurable

A specific goal is measurable and if you can measure it you can track your progress and adapt. Be careful of trying to measure too much (a common mistake). What is the single most important metric you need to measure?

A is for Achievable

An achievable goal is realistic – what tactics and strategies can you use to achieve this goal? Think back to S – are you being specific enough or too ambitious?

R is for Rewarding

This step is another great one for checking if your project justifies the effort. Is this the most rewarding goal for you to be undertaking right now?

T is for Timely

If it’s going to take too long to complete a goal it may not be the most rewarding one to tackle now. Setting an end date is a great way of having a deadline to work towards. Can you break down your goal into smaller goals?

Watch our SMART Goals for Websites presentation:

Smart Goals for Websites Download

Conclusion

Remember SMART goals are only one tool to aid your thinking around your marketing goals. If you’re planning a website redesign then check out our next blog post: Preparing for a redesign with a website content audit.


Do you have these 3 essential WordPress plugins?

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a free web-based software program created in 2003. More specifically, it’s a content management system. This means that it’s useful for creating and managing the content of websites. So, if you run a business and you pay someone to update the content of your website, you should seriously think about converting your existing site to WordPress. It’s like having the keys to your own car.

What are WordPress plugins?

WordPress plugins are add-ons you can install to extend and expand the functionality of your website.

As of November 2016 WordPress.org listed over 47,500 available plugins. How many plugins you need depends on what you want to do with your website. On the Wildheart website we currently have 21 active plugins, but a complex WordPress site could easily have around 40 active plugins.

Most plugins are free, with an optional paid or premium version. This is a great model because it allows you to get most of the functionality you need for free, and if you need extra features you can upgrade.

Our 3 essential WordPress plugins

At Wildheart we’ve established a standard plugin set that we always install, starting with these 3 essentials. Remember this is just a starting point and our focus (as a content marketing agency) is making sure that:

  1. Your visitors can find your website content using search engines,
  2. Your visitors can interact with you via messages and comments,
  3. Your website is kept safe from malicious attacks.

Essential WordPress plugin #1

Get found in Google searches with Yoast SEO for WordPress

SEO stands for search engine optimisation and making sure your content can be found by search engines is nearly always a priority for website owners. This plugin is particularly good because it helps you choose a keyword focus for a page or post and then provides you with a workflow to help you optimise your page with this keyword in mind. This plugin starts with a free version but the premium version is great because it allows you to manage your redirects too.

A redirect is used when you change a page’s address (url) – you need to make sure that people linking to the old address get redirected to the new page address. You’d be surprised how often this happens. Here at Wildheart we’re constantly refining our pages and posts.

Check out the Yoast SEO for WordPress page for a full list of features.

Essential WordPress plugin #2

Stay in touch with your website visitors with Gravity Forms

Most websites need a way for visitors to send website owners a message or allow for comments and feedback. A very common way of doing this is having a contact form on your website. Forms are usually complicated to build and manage and require programming knowledge.

Not any more! Gravity Forms by Rocketgenius is a premium (paid) plugin which allows you to create as many contact forms with as many fields as you like.

Gravity Forms also comes with add-ons which allow you to extend the standard feature set. Basic add-ons include linking with email marketing providers like MailChimp (our favourite!) Advanced add-ons include payment integration with Paypal, adding coupons to forms with Coupon, taking credit card payments with Stripe, as well as add-ons that allow you to collect data from your website visitors with Polls, Surveys and Quizzes.

Check out the full list of Gravity Forms Add-Ons.

Essential WordPress plugin #3

Protect your website from malicious attacks with WordFence

There are an estimated staggering 16,045 attacks per minute across the globe on WordPress websites. WordFence is the most downloaded security plugin for WordPress websites. They provide a comprehensive set of security tools in their plugin to stop you getting hacked and alert you as soon as there’s a threat to your site. They’ll even send you regular reports so you can see how many times there have been attempted security breaches and from where in the world.   

We use and recommend the premium (paid) version of WordFence because it is updated in realtime when new threats are discovered and uses something called remote scans which use the power of WordFence’s own servers to more deeply scan your site. The free version is very comprehensive and a good start towards getting on top of your site security.

Check out the full features of WordFence.

Good housekeeping

Remember to keep your active plugins to a minimum and make sure you update them regularly. It’s also good practice to periodically review your existing WordPress plugins and replace them with newer and improved versions. Of course, if we manage your WordPress website we’ll already be doing this for you so you can just relax!

Need some help with your WordPress plugins?

As part of our Website Updates Package we’ll review and update all your WordPress plugins and much, much more!

Website updates package