Tag: Web Design

It’s important that your wellbeing website is set up right – with a sound structure, clear navigation, and compelling calls-to-action – to take your visitors on a smooth journey through your site so they can find the information they need and make a booking. Read on to find out more…

Need a new yoga website? Here are 3 ways to create one

So, you’re a yoga teacher or you run a yoga studio and you need a new website. Maybe this is your first website. Or maybe you already had one built by a friend or recommended designer, but it’s now out of date and no longer reflects what you offer. Or you find it difficult and frustrating to edit it yourself.

So, you know you need a new website, but where do you start? Do you try and build one yourself? Do you try and find a cheap and reliable web designer? Or do you invest in the future of your business by partnering with a yoga marketing expert, who can not only help with your website, but with your other marketing activities too?

Of course, we think you should go for the third option! But let’s dive a little deeper and we’ll explain why…

Option 1: Build a website yourself

Ok, so you might be really strapped for cash or on a tight budget. Let’s face it – most yoga teachers aren’t exactly rolling in it! You’ve heard there are some decent free or low-cost website platforms out there (think Wix, Weebly, Squarepsace and the like) and you know other people who’ve done it themselves. So, how hard can it be…?

Well, the question isn’t actually how hard is it, but how hard is it to do well? If the internet is an ocean, then yoga websites are like plankton. There are hundreds of thousands out there, all trying to survive in the vast watery wilderness of the world wide web (can you tell I’m a fan of alliteration?)

It sounds intense and the truth is, it is intense. A year ago there were more than 6,000 yoga studios in the US alone. Yoga has become big business and there are now more styles of yoga than you can count on your fingers and toes combined, being taught in almost every location in the world, by a rapidly increasing number of teachers and studios. So, how do you even get noticed in this vast yoga ocean?

The good news is there IS demand to keep up with supply. According to the International Yoga Federation, around 300 million people practise yoga in the world. Now, that would be a lot of traffic to one website! The trick is to figure out exactly WHAT your yoga niche or unique selling point is, WHO your target audience is, and HOW you’re going to reach them to help make their lives better. Basically, you need to catch the right people’s attention. And the way you do that is through your website.

First, you need to decide which website platform is right for your yoga business. Then, assuming you’ve chosen the best platform (that’s WordPress by the way!), you need to decide which page builder you should use for your new site.

The next step is to create a sound website structure or, more specifically, learn how to structure your yoga website so that your students and visitors can quickly and easily find what they’re looking for.

Once that’s all in place, you should research the best linguistic tools and writing tips in order to create compelling content for your website. Of course, for a yoga business, images are very important, as they help to convey your message in a visual way and resonate with your potential students. So you’ll need to learn how to use great images on your yoga website.

Finally, being a yogi yourself, you’re probably keen to help the planet any way you can, so you’ll want to discover how better performing websites can save the planet and optimise your site accordingly.

And if you want to learn from a fellow yogi’s mistakes while you put all this into practice, check out Dan Jones’ post I made these beginner yoga website mistakes so you don’t have to.

Option 2: Hire a web designer

OK, so option 1 feels like a lot of hard work, right? And you probably don’t have the time – or the inclination – to do it all yourself. So, your next option is to hire a web designer.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? You find a designer you like, agree to their terms, tell them what you want and they create it, right?

Wellllll…. maybe. But probably not. The thing is, you’re a yoga expert and they’re a web design expert. So, you don’t know much about web design and they probably know nothing about yoga. This means there’ll be little or no consideration given to the right strategy, messaging or content for your particular audience.

What you need to consider when hiring a web designer

If you’re asking a web designer to create your yoga website for you, these are some of the elements that both you and they will need to consider in order for it to be a success:

  • Beautifully designed logo with meaningful strapline.
  • Significant consideration of the user journey for your particular yoga audience.
  • Clear and sensible site structure/navigation with the user journey in mind.
  • Compelling messaging that resonates strongly with your potential students.
  • Carefully crafted, easy-to-understand copy on every page.
  • Striking images that work in harmony with your copy.
  • Flexible website that’s easy to edit yourself and adapts to your changing needs.
  • Simple and concise domain name that works well for your organic SEO (search engine optimisation).
  • Web pages that are ‘share-ready’ and optimised for organic SEO.
  • Safe and secure hosting provider with watertight backups and updates process.

What you won’t get from a web designer

As we said earlier, when you work with a web designer, you tell them what you want and they create it. This might sound appealing to some, especially if you have very particular ideas, or a certain relationship with control (the word ‘freak’ might not go amiss here…) But that’s not always a good thing.

Where did your ideas come from? What are they based on? Do you know from experience that if you use this image for this page, or display that content in that particular way, you’ll attract more of the right people to your website? No, probably not. Sometimes you need to relinquish control and let the experts do their thing.

However… (and this is a big one)… although you’re assuming a web designer is an expert, they’re undoubtedly NOT an expert in your yoga business. So, just so you know what to expect, here are a few things you probably WON’T get from a web designer:

  • Know your audience: A web designer won’t know your audience the way a yoga marketing expert (like us) will. Unless of course they’re actually a yogi themselves.
  • Consider the journey: A web designer will generally be focused on making a pretty website based on what you ask for. They won’t consider the journey your visitors actually need to take through the site; just how to make the pages look nice.
  • Resonate through your messaging: A web designer will take the content you give them and simply drop it into the site. They’re unlikely to help you get your messaging right, refine your copy, choose words carefully that help to describe what you offer and WHY, give you feedback on your content, or even check your copy for typographical or grammatical errors.

Option 3: Partner with a yoga marketing expert

Aah, so by now you’ve realised that building a website yourself is too much like hard work, and hiring a web designer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. So, your third and final option is to partner with an expert who doesn’t just know a helluva lot about marketing, but whose team are all active members of the global yoga community too. Good choice!

What you’ll get from us

If you decide to go with this option and, more specifically, if you decide to go with Wildheart Media, to design and build your new website, then here’s why we think you’ve made the best choice.

We know yoga
One of our biggest strengths is that we’re all yogis ourselves. Our team members are all long-term practitioners and our founder, Guy, teaches yoga too.

Because we know and understand the yoga audience so well, we only build websites for yoga businesses. Of course, yoga in its wider sense isn’t just about what you do on the mat. So, we also work with clients who embody yogic principles, run wellbeing businesses, and help people to improve their lives off the mat too.

We know the challenges yogis face
We know you don’t want to feel like you’re selling yoga. And we know yogis don’t like being sold to. So, we help our clients overcome the hurdle of the dirty word (that’s ‘marketing’ in case you weren’t sure).

We also help our clients overcome the curse of knowledge and package what they offer in a straightforward way. It never ceases to amaze us how much the curse of knowledge can get in the way of you being clear and easy-to-understand to your audience (no matter how clear you THINK you’re being).

We consider your goals and purpose 
Before we even start on the design and build, we pay careful consideration to the purpose of your website. Who are your specific target audiences? And what goal does your website need to achieve?

For most yoga businesses, the main purposes of your site are to promote your classes, workshops and schedule to your existing students, and to attract new customers. Your existing students need to access your schedule quickly and easily, or find out when your next workshop or retreat is. Potential new customers need to understand what problem you solve, how yoga can help them, and how you’re going to make their lives better.

We’re all about consistency
One of the key things to consider when creating a new website – which won’t even be on the radar of many web designers – is consistency.

Once you’ve clarified the messaging that you know will resonate with your audience, it’s so important that this messaging is seamlessly woven throughout your logo, branding, site structure, user journey, calls-to-action (buttons and links), and main content on your website. Not to mention throughout your other digital marketing activities, like your blog, podcast, email marketing and social media, as well as your physical marketing materials, such as posters, flyers and business cards.

We build partnerships with our clients
Unlike a web designer, we don’t just give you exactly what you think you want, or tell you what to do. And if we hit an obstacle we don’t just chuck it over the fence at you either. We prefer to work closely and collaboratively with our clients and build long-term working relationships.

We’ll work with you to understand your yoga business as deeply as we can, so we can help you choose the right design, the right images and the right messaging for YOUR business. If we don’t agree with some of the design and content choices you’ve made, we’ll let you know and explain WHY we think an alternative could work better.

We add extra value where we can
We’re able to keep our costs so low (compared to most web design agencies) by offering fixed-price packages. This means there’s a standard set of tasks we’ll work to when building your new website – which of course includes all the elements listed under, ‘What you need to consider when hiring a web designer’ above, plus much more. Any further requirements that fall outside of our standard package can of course be agreed as additional consulting work.

On top of this, we like to add extra value where we can. As well as offering lots of advice and guidance along the way, we’ve also created the following free guides to give you extra support when you buy one of our packages:

  • 3 parts of a logo: to help you understand the 3 parts that make up a good logo and why it’s important that they all work in harmony with each other.
  • How to write a business one-liner: to help you write a concise and compelling sentence that sums up what you offer and how it makes people’s lives better.
  • Yoga photography guide: to help you or your photographer take the best yoga photos and avoid those classic bums-in-the-air mistakes!

What else you need to consider

Hopefully by now, you have a good idea of the options available to you when creating your new yoga website (and which option is clearly the best). But, what else do you need to think about? And should a website even be the first thing on your list?

Well, quite frankly, no it shouldn’t! If you want to get the best results from your new website and ensure it becomes your best sales tool (if that sounds too salesy, think ‘your best way of sharing yoga with more people’), it should actually be No.3 on your list.

Before you can start creating the most effective website for your business, you need to know WHO you are, WHY you exist, WHAT your messaging is, and HOW you differentiate yourself from that vast ocean of other yoga businesses. So, here’s the 3-step process we think you should follow:

  1. Brand Strategy Package: If you can’t define or communicate what you stand for, then no-one else will get this either. You need to create a clear message for your business so people understand your WHY.
  2. Logo & Style Guide Package: A great logo makes your business instantly recognisable. There are 3 essential parts to a logo, which need to work closely together – the brand mark, brand name and strapline. If you’re not sure what your strapline should be, then you definitely need help with your brand strategy first, as this will help tease out your messaging and your strapline will flow effortlessly from there. Whether you’re just starting out, or your brand needs a refresh, it’s important to get your logo in sync with your brand strategy. This package will also define the colour palette and typography of your brand, which will then determine the look and feel of your new website.
  3. New Website Package: Great! Now you’re ready to get going with your new yoga website as per option 3 above 😉

Of course, no new website would be complete without SEO (search engine optimisation). Your new website might look beautiful, and even resonate strongly with your audience, but how is anyone actually going to find it?

Our SEO Package works really neatly alongside our New Website Package, as it includes in-depth research on the keywords people actually use to find the kinds of yoga services you offer. Topic research gives you ideas for popular blog content you could create, and competitor analysis lets you know where the gaps and opportunities are in your particular yoga niche. We then bring this all together by skilfully crafting the SEO data (meta titles and descriptions) for your website based on our research findings, to ensure your web pages start ranking higher in relevant search results.

Don’t just take our word for it!

To be fair, we’re probably a little biased when it comes to recommending a yoga marketing expert! As much as we like to sing our own praises, nothing speaks stronger than the actual words used by our amazing clients.

International yoga teacher trainer and Seasonal Yoga entrepreneur Julie Hanson found our Brand Strategy Package a “marvellous experience” and “invaluable” for her evolving business. You can find out more about how we helped her, and watch her video testimonial, by reading the case study.

Mike Richards, aka The Travelling Ape, signed up for our Logo & Style Guide Package after we’d completed our Brand Strategy Package with him. He “thoroughly enjoyed the process,” the final logo “surpassed all of his expectations,” and “it has made him excited to take his brand to the next level”. You can read more on his client profile page.

Deborah Woolf, co-founder of Anahata Health Clinic, a busy yoga and wellness studio, bought several packages from us, including our New Website Package. She found working with us “a pleasure,” felt “guided through the process with care and attention, even to the smallest details,” thinks their “new website looks fantastic,” and says her team “now feels totally empowered and supported in their ability to update and change their shiny new website”. Read the case study to find out more and watch our before-and-after video.

Ready to go ahead?

If you’re ready to get started on your journey of creating the best website to grow your yoga or wellbeing business, why not book a free consultation with us.

At the very least you’ll get plenty of valuable free advice about your marketing (aka yoga sharing). And it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship – with the yoga marketing expert your business so badly needs.

Book a free consultation


Which page builder should you use on your WordPress website?

Honestly, as website owners we have it easy these days. The web veterans amongst us will remember pouring over HTML code to build the most basic (and probably the ugliest) web pages you’ve ever seen. Not to mention the frustration of spending a whole day tweaking CSS just to move that single text box to the other side of the page. It was a difficult time for everyone… but thankfully those days are long gone.

Page builders are a software revolution that let us build and change web page elements in real time – with no coding experience required. Complex code strings are replaced with simple drag-and-drop elements, sliders and multi-choice options. It’s really opened up a world of opportunities for web professionals, amateurs and yogis alike, where anyone can take it upon themselves to execute their own website vision.

Since their inception, a variety of companies and tools have come to fill the space. Though they all perform the same core function, they all go about it slightly differently. In this article we’ll help you assess the options, so you can make an informed decision about which page builder is best for you and your business.

Why use a page builder?

We’re a big fan of page builders here at Wildheart. The purists of the web developing world will probably never come to accept them (for reasons outlined below) but for almost everyone else, they’re a great option. Here’s why.

Advantages

  • Ease of use – The best page builders always have a simple and intuitive user interface, letting you quickly and efficiently bring your pages to life.
  • Templates – Many brands come with a library of templates (sometimes for free) that you can use as a starting point – saving you time, money, and a whole load of frustration.
  • Flexibility – Change your website at any time, without the need to pay – or wait for – a costly developer.
  • Mobile responsiveness – Most page builders offer in-built mobile responsive elements, with a high degree of customisation.
  • Training – Learning to code could take you years, but watching a handful of page builder tutorials on YouTube is often enough to get started.
  • Well supported – These page builder companies are well-funded and very active in improving their product. It’s nice to feel secure in your software choice, and the ongoing future of your website.

Disadvantages

  • Code “bloat” – Some page builders work by inserting shortcodes into the coding of the page. These shortcodes work just fine, but they’re often not the most efficient way to do it. Inefficient code will slow down a website to some degree.
  • Lock in – Moving away from page builders can sometimes break aspects of your website that rely on them. Plus, some page builders (Divi I’m looking at you) rely too heavily on shortcodes and don’t have a function to remove them. So, deactivating the plugin can leave your website littered with random shortcodes. It’s not a problem for page builders recommended here though.

Of course – like any other tool – there’s a learning curve and compatibility points to consider when using page builders. Plus, if you’re designing pages yourself from scratch, how they look and function is ultimately down to your eye for design and your ability to execute on your vision.

So, it’s important to remember that page builders make the whole process significantly easier (especially with so many ready-made templates to start with) but they won’t instantly make you a professional website builder extraordinaire. That takes a little more time and effort.

The best page builders for WordPress

Since page builders first rose to power, there’s been a lot of different competitors for the crown, which has been great for us – the consumers. Tough competition has forced these companies to develop at an incredible rate, and the bar is now really high.

We won’t cover all the page builder options here (there are literally dozens) but there are two clear industry leaders that are worth considering first. These two WordPress plugins are compatible with just about every theme out there, and both offer considerable degrees of performance and flexibility.

#1 Elementor

With over 4 million active installs, Elementor is certainly the biggest player in the industry. Such mass adoption has helped it foster a strong community base, and its commercial success is driving a rapid development process.

Pros

  • Versatile design elements – Elementor provides an extensive selection of blocks and customisation options, allowing you to bring almost any vision to life.
  • Open source – There’s a community of developers constantly adding new widgets and elements for you to use on your website.
  • Beautiful page templates – Access a large library of templates that you can implement on your own website with just a click.
  • Powerful free version – The free Elementor plugin is incredibly feature-rich, and will often be enough for people’s needs. Though, more advanced users will want the Elementor Pro licence to really utilise the tool.

Cons

  • Annual licence cost for Elementor Pro – It’s great value for what’s on offer, but it’s not an insignificant cost.
  • Limited support if you cancel – Elementor only offers a single year of plugin updates after cancellation, at which point you’re at risk for incompatibilities with WordPress and other software.

#2 Thrive Architect

Thrive Architect has been in the game for a long time (previously under the name Thrive Content Builder) and it’s what we use exclusively at Wildheart – both on our own websites and those of our clients.

Pros

  • Powerful editor – Just like Elementor, Thrive Architect comes with a powerful set of design elements and customisation features.
  • Conversion focussed templates – Thrive provides a wide range of feature-rich templates for pages of all kinds.
  • Deep integrations – Thrive Architect can be used in dynamic combinations with other Thrive products like Thrive Leads.
  • Great value – You buy a single plugin license and it’s yours forever with full support.

Cons

  • No free option – However, they do offer 30-day cancellation if you want to try before you buy.

Other notable mentions

  • Beaver Builder – One of the original page builders that’s stood the test of time. A perfectly respectable choice, but lacks the diversity of features offered by Thrive and Elementor.
  • Divi – Known for its shortcode fiasco, but mostly for its namesake premium theme by Elegant Themes. To be fair, it’s an extensive theme and page builder, but it comes only as part of the Elegant Themes full membership. So it’s only really worth considering if you’re happy to lock in with the entire ecosystem.
  • Brizy – The latest page builder on the scene, Brizy is running on some modern new technologies. It offers a unique user interface that lets you make all of your changes inline, instead of the traditional sidebar approach.

Theme builder capabilities

The age of the WordPress theme is coming to an end. Until now we’ve been able to change on-page elements, but never to interact with theme locked elements like the navigation menu, footers and such. Theme builders are changing that.

The days of shopping around for a theme that looks and works exactly the way you want is over. Now if you have a vision – create it yourself!

  • Elementor Pro has a built in theme builder element. It lets you fully customise any compatible theme, but they offer their own barebones theme (Hello) as an ideal starting point.
  • Thrive have gone a step further and produced their Thrive Theme Builder. The Theme Builder replaces your current theme and essentially lets you create a theme from the ground up. Exciting stuff if you want control over all elements of your site.

The right page builder for you

The truth is, any of these page builders will get you from A to B. They’re all capable of producing attractive and functional websites.

Each has a handful of unique features that could be deal-breakers for you (e.g. software compatibility or integrations) but they mostly share the same features.

If you only have a small use for a page builder, Elementor’s free plugin is a great starting point. There’s a good chance that it’ll do exactly what you need without costing you a penny.

Or, if you’re looking to use page builders extensively across your WordPress site(s), then you’ll likely want to pay for Elementor Pro or Thrive Architect.

We exclusively use Thrive Architect here at Wildheart, but I’m personally a big fan of Elementor too. The team behind Thrive say their tools are designed to be more conversion focussed, and Elementor a little more design-led – and I’m inclined to agree.

Finally, the main difference comes down to user experience. Both Thrive Architect and Elementor follow the same general drag-and-drop approach, but with some key differences that you really need to try for yourself.

It’s worth having a play around with the free version of Elementor, and you can buy Thrive Architect with a no-risk return policy should you want to try that too.

Just bear in mind, switching page builders later down the line can be a lot of work, so you’re best off making a decision and sticking with it. No pressure… Good luck!

Need help with your WordPress website?

If all this feels like too much hard work, we’re here to help. Our New Website Package will provide you with a beautiful, effective, fully customisable and mobile-responsive website, using the Thrive Architect page builder. This means you’ll have full control over your own site and will easily be able to manage your own content. Check out our package page to find out more:

Our New Website Package


How better performing websites can save the planet

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you’ll know that planet Earth is facing the biggest climate crisis any of us or our ancestors have ever known. And, whilst we don’t want to get into the politics of this, we do want to assure you that Wildheart is committed to doing what we can to reduce our carbon footprint and help save the planet.

As an eco-conscious soul who feels very inspired by the actions of climate activists such as Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, I was delighted to discover that one of the talks at 2019’s WordCamp Europe in Berlin was called “How better performing websites can help save the planet” by Jack Lenox of Automattic, a company owned by Matt Mullenweg, co-founder of WordPress.

I’d like to share with you the key points of his talk and how we can put his suggestions into action.

The carbon footprint of the internet

To be honest, I don’t think this is something many people think about. We all need the internet, right? In fact, we’ve become so heavily reliant on it in so many ways, can you imagine what would happen if it suddenly got switched off and we went back to pre-internet life?!

But with millions of gigabytes of data being transferred every second, and all those servers powering all those websites, it must take an inconceivable amount of energy to power the internet. Here are some shocking statistics from Jack’s talk:

  • If the internet was a country, it would have the third largest carbon footprint in the world after the US and China.
  • The internet produces 1 billion tons of CO2 each year, which is about the same as all the world’s air travel combined.
  • By 2030, 30% of the world’s energy use will be from the internet.
  • YouTube alone has a similar carbon footprint as the city of Bristol or Glasgow in the UK. When listening to music on YouTube, if the video playback was switched off this would reduce its carbon footprint by 1-5%.

He also said that the size of the average webpage is growing:

  • In 2011 it was 900KB.
  • In 2017 it was 3.4MB.
  • In 2019 it’s projected to be over 4MB.

How much CO2 is emitted when a webpage loads?

I’m pretty sure this is something people rarely think of. I’d certainly never even considered it. Loading a webpage is simply clicking a link or typing a URL into a search bar, right? What does that have to do with carbon emissions?

Well, Jack took us through a very interesting calculation he’d done. He was looking at the amount of energy it takes to power a single webpage. I won’t take you through the minutiae of his calculation — not least because it was way too complicated to take notes on! But the upshot of it was this:

  • A 10MB webpage uses about 14.5g of CO2.
  • This is the same carbon footprint as printing about 3 sheets of paper — just for loading one webpage once!

So, you can see why the internet has such a huge carbon footprint!

What are UK companies doing to reduce their carbon footprint?

In his talk, Jack explained that things are starting to change, as more and more companies are understanding the effect their business has on the planet. These are just a few of the UK companies he found online who are making steps in the right direction:

  • Loco2.com — this booking service for train travel across Europe features a carbon calculator, so you can see how much carbon you’re saving by travelling by train.
  • Great Western Railway — this train company also shows the carbon emissions saved for each journey.
  • Untold Coffee — this online coffee roaster and supplier offers to offset the carbon emissions on delivery.
  • Amazon — apparently they’re about to get a lot better and will start disclosing their carbon footprint from late 2019 or early 2020.

What can we do to reduce the carbon footprint of our own website?

So, with all this in mind, what do we need to consider when creating or editing our own website? And what tools are available to help us?

Web code

Jack explained that the more complicated the code is on our website, the more energy it takes to render it on the front-end. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is more energy efficient than jQuery or JavaScript, so if you have control over which language you use, this could influence your decision.

He suggested doing some “tree shaking” on your site. This means testing your code to see if it’s actually still being used. One of the tools that can help with this is PurgeCSS.

Web features

Similarly, using lots of fancy features on your website will increase your carbon footprint. Large images, videos, image sliders or carousels, and embedded social media feeds all take longer to load, and therefore use more energy. So, when creating a new website, consider if the web features you’re making are really needed to solve the problem.

Jack shared a very interesting piece of research — that people actually find it more stressful waiting for a webpage to load than standing on the edge of a cliff! Generally speaking, people prefer a simpler interface and the easier and quicker it is to do something, the better.

These days though, we do expect to see aesthetically-pleasing features on websites, like large striking images and videos, and coloured buttons that tell us what to do next. But Jack explained the impact of this with a few simple facts:

  • A plain text link uses almost zero bytes of data.
  • A Twitter follow button uses around 50KB of data.
  • In 1969 NASA put a man on the moon using 50KB of data; today all this will get you is a Twitter follow button!

In summary

Can we simplify the user interface, e.g. do we really need:

  • Image carousels/sliders;
  • Background videos;
  • Embedded social media feeds?

Can we reduce the code that’s used to build our site, e.g.:

  • Use lean HTML;
  • Simplify the CSS;
  • Use less script?

Can we make our use of images more effective, e.g.:

  • Resize our images first BEFORE uploading them;
  • Compress our images as much as possible to reduce their file size;
  • Use the “lazy load” technique, i.e. display images and videos “below the fold” so that they load later, rather than immediately as the page is loaded?

Can we improve the user experience, so that webpages aren’t being loaded unnecessarily, e.g.:

  • Use effective SEO (search engine optimisation);
  • Adopt an accessibility-first mentality;
  • Follow best practices?

Is it possible to create a carbon neutral website?

At the end of his talk, Jack shared how he’d managed to create a clean, simple website using very little data. It’s not carbon neutral, but its carbon footprint is vastly reduced from that of the average website found online today. This is how he put it into practice:

  • Stripped down webpage;
  • No images;
  • Only a few requests;
  • 6KB total size: 500KB per page is a good starting point.

Of course, this makes for a very dull, feature-less site with just black text on a white background. In reality, this probably wouldn’t get your site very well noticed! But the point he was making is that we can find a balance between the features we actually need and the impact this is having on the environment.

Some useful providers he suggested to help us include:

  • The Green Web Foundation — directory for green and renewable energy powered web hosting.
  • Ecograder — assesses how green your website is.
  • Cloverly — makes carbon offsets on demand.
  • Exhale — a WordPress theme whose demo site is only 423KB.

How we’re reducing our carbon footprint at Wildheart

We found a lot of what Jack shared in his talk very fascinating, and we aim to reduce our carbon footprint where we can. But, of course, it’s all about balance. We’re a marketing agency, which means our top priority is helping our clients’ websites get found by more of the right people. And building websites with no images, very little design, and unclear calls-to-action (e.g. buttons) is not going to help us do that!

However, some of the points Jack highlights are things that we already put into action and advise our clients on anyway. These include:

  • We always insist on images being resized appropriately first, before being uploaded to the media library. Google will actually penalise you if your images are too big and take too long to load, so your site will appear lower in relevant search rankings.
  • We generally advise against using image carousels and sliders, as they slow down your site, and visitors often don’t see beyond the first image anyway.
  • We usually prefer buttons over text links, as they’re clearer and easier to see, and it’s important to prioritise user experience. However, we do use text links where we can, if this makes sense to the user journey.
  • We use CSS to build and customise our websites, and try to keep the code as clean and simple as possible.

Having run our own site through the Ecograder tool, we scored 55 out of 100. Whilst we’re doing well on page speed, mobile optimisation and avoiding Flash, we do need to reduce our HTTP requests, shared resources and findability, and we’re not currently using green hosting. So, there’s always room for improvement!

Looking for a better performing website?

If you need a new website and want to make sure it’s optimised to be found by the right people for your business, as well as having a low carbon footprint, check out our New Website Package. We’ll give you an easy-to-use, professional website that acts as your best sales tool and brings you customers while you sleep.

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A first-timer’s experience of Nordic Design – Stockholm 2019

Nordic Design Conference Pink Room

At Wildheart we love going to inspiring, thought-provoking conferences to enrich our knowledge, get new ideas and meet like-minded people. Plus, it’s a great chance to get some of our remote team together in person. For example, you can read Ehron’s experience of WordCamp Europe in A first-timer’s experience of WordCamp Europe — Berlin 2019.

In October 2019, I travelled to Sweden for the first time to visit Guy in his hometown of Stockholm and attend the Nordic Design conference. If there’s one thing I can categorically say about the Nordic countries – it’s that they know a thing or two about design!

Everything about this conference – from the venue and the speakers, to the networking area and the goodie bags – was delivered with design in mind. It felt uber-cool and was very well organised to boot.

The venue

One of the best things about the conference was that it was single-track. I’ve been to a few multi-track events where there are so many things going on at once, it can become really stressful trying to figure out: a) what you want to go to next, b) where it is, and c) how to get there! With just one main venue and 10 high-quality speakers, the conference felt easy, relaxed and stress-free.

It was held in a warehouse building called Magasin 9 in a harbour just 10 minutes from the city centre. This gave the conference an industrial feel, being surrounded by water and shipping yards. This was reflected in the shipping containers and wooden pallets used throughout the interior, and there was even an outdoor sauna and hot tub for brave souls!

The networking area

What I really mean is the ‘play area’. Entering the building, we were met with a dark interior full of neon lights. As our eyes became accustomed to the light, and we started moving around the space, we realised it was full of all sorts of exciting stuff!

Shipping containers had been used to create little rooms, including a fur room, glitter room and TV room. There were games consoles you could play on, a Lego table to play at, and even a ball-pit to play in! And dotted around the space were various food and drink vendors, which were all free (but with plenty of queuing): a candy floss machine, popcorn maker and ice cream stand. But, the winner for the longest queue at all times goes to the guy with the cute red van serving only the finest freshly-roasted coffee!

The food

I have to say, I was very impressed with how they managed to feed 400 people in a very simple, straightforward and tidy way. The main food was veggie, and you could opt in for various dietary requirements in advance. Whereas at WordCamp Europe they had many tables filled with little morsels of food that had people scrambling over each other to get enough, Nordic Design kept it simple – you just grabbed a box, sat down and ate!

Inside the box was a delicious combination of veggie dumplings, rice noodles, veggies and Asian salad. And they’d put up a marquee outside with long rows of tables and benches, so you could muck in with your fellow attendees as if you were in a mess hall.

Teas, coffee and fresh fruit were available throughout the day, and during the afternoon ‘fika’ (a traditional Swedish coffee break), the iconic and much-loved cinnamon buns came out to play! With fruit smoothies to boot, the Swedes definitely know how to do health-conscious, but tasty, conference food.

The goodie bags

Even with the goodie bags, the message was clear: keep it simple but high quality. With just 3 items in our tote bags, I for one was very happy with my freebies (not least because I’d just lost my favourite hat on the Stockholm tube the day before):

  • Orange Nordic Design beanie (very Swedish)
  • Colourful Nordic Design socks
  • Stickers from Nordic Design and Confetti (one of their main sponsors)

The speakers

Ok, now for the important part! We only saw 8 of the 10 speakers, as we had to dash off early, but I was very impressed with the quality of the presentations we saw. They were all in English, used great slides and plenty of humour, and all finished dead on time!

Here’s a summary of what we learned…

“Ways of Graphic Design-ing” – Prem Krishnamurthy

Prem started by claiming that nearly everyone is a designer these days, even if they don’t call themselves a designer. Even creating a social media post includes an element of design.

His main question was, “How can we create graphic design with a sense of ethical responsibility?” And he shared the 3 qualities he always brings to his design:

  • Bumpiness: Today’s world is geared more towards smoothness. But discomfort can open up new types of experience. Uniform surfaces are boring and irregularity can help take in complex ideas. Slowing down in order to comprehend better.
  • Juxtaposition: Our world is largely based on sameness, familiarity, run by algorithms. There’s an assumption that if we’re different from someone we don’t want to know about them, e.g. on social media we want more of the same or similar. We must embrace diversity or be destroyed.
  • Generosity: We learn the basics of generosity as children. Graphic design can be generous and collaborative, and the best pronoun for it is ‘we’. It’s a gift that moves in both directions.

He concluded by suggesting that the true power of graphic design is to listen, learn, reflect and give.

“How to run a design sprint without a panic attack” – Diamond Ho

Diamond is a product designer for Facebook, which means she’s designing for 2 billion, very varied, active people – that’s no small task!

Diamond shared her 5 phases of design thinking:

  • Empathise
  • Define
  • Ideate
  • Prototype
  • Validate

In order to prepare your design sprint effectively, you need to set out your:

  • Purpose
  • People
  • Plan

For the ideation process you can use a combination of:

  • HMW (How Might We) statements
  • Markers & Post-its
  • Storyboard

She concluded by saying that preparation is the key to avoiding a panic attack!

“Building a new interaction grammar with XR input” – Agatha Yu

In case you didn’t know (as I didn’t), XR means ‘mixed reality’. Agatha started her talk by explaining that we’re at the baby stage of immersive computing. A brief history of the computer interface looks something like this:

  • Keypress
  • Mouse + keypress
  • Multi-touch + GPS location + camera (mobile computing)
  • Hands + body + voice: multi-input environment (immersive computing)

She shared a very interesting way that she’d applied grammatical elements to generative design:

  1. Atomised representation: nouns
  2. Composable interaction: verbs
  3. Stylised approaches: adjectives

As a linguist and Content Queen, this piqued my interest, even though most of what she was talking about quite frankly went straight over my head!

Agatha talked about how technology plus intent gives us expression, but that this leads to human dilemma. And she left us to reflect on these questions:

  • How can we express what’s in our heads to other people?
  • And how, as designers, can we help with this? How can we make our design more generative, so we can more easily communicate with others?

“Disruptive Design: Harmful Patterns and Bad Practice” – Laura Kalbag

This was probably the most controversial of all the talk topics. Laura raised the issues of accessibility and profiling in the tech industry, but as marketers we rely heavily on profiling to ensure we’re reaching the right audience, and we also need security measures like Captcha in place, to keep our clients’ sites safe and spam-free.

Here are some of the issues she raised:

Accessibility

  • Low contrast text is a prime example of this.
  • Consider accessible vs. inclusive design.
  • We need inclusivity to make better technology.

Captcha

  • This is a completely automated public Turing test to tell computers and humans apart.
  • 4.25% of all websites use Captcha, which is a vast amount. 2.1 million websites use reCaptcha, Google’s free Captcha service.
  • This is a problem for people using screen readers, and is significantly the most problematic feature when trying to access the web.
  • reCaptcha v3 is invisible, so it’s better but still not entirely inclusive.
  • Surveillance capitalism forms the dominant business model of technology today.

Profiling

  • Big tech sites use profiles of their users to target and maximise profits.
  • Profiling relies on a very binary vision of the world, e.g. when creating a Facebook account you can only select Male or Female as your gender.
  • Profiling can serve as a barrier to equal opportunity.

Data tracking

  • So many products now track user data and use it to maximise their profits.
  • Some surprising examples Laura shared of companies doing this include:
  • Loon Cup: the world’s first smart menstrual cup.
  • i.Con: the world’s first smart condoms.
  • Hello Barbie: the world’s first interactive doll.

Laura claimed that we need new models, including new funding models, for the tech industry. And that better isn’t always good enough. These are some of the ways she suggested we can start to make changes:

  • Be different: be a better designer.
  • Be the advisor: make recommendations to others.
  • Be the advocate: for the under-represented.
  • Be the questions: question the norms.
  • Be the gatekeeper: use expertise to prevent unethical design.
  • Be difficult: keep bringing up the issue.
  • Be unprofessional: stand up for people’s needs.
  • Be the supporter: speak up for others, silence is complicity.

Her final message was: Disrupt the disrupters!

“Eye tracking the user experience – should you?” – Andreas Olsson

Andreas started his talk by explaining that eye tracking is about attention. We’re living in ‘The attention economy’ or ‘The eyeball economy’, but 80% of ads online are never seen, which is a pretty bad user experience.

So, what is eye tracking? It measures where people are looking, or how the eyes move in relation to the head. Our eyes don’t move in a smooth path, but in a series of short stops called ‘fixations’. It’s these fixations that eye tracking researchers are interested in.

Andreas suggested that eye tracking isn’t a stand alone solution; it’s just a tool. It needs to be combined with other user research tools, like interviews, but it can provide some very useful data. It can be very helpful in creating a natural environment for users, and we need to find a balance between natural behaviour vs. ease of analysis.

Eye tracking is currently being used to better understand all sorts of industries, like medical, manufacturing, and industrial – because user experience is everywhere.

“We Are Systems” – Ricardo Vazquez

Being a natural systems person, I found Ricardo’s talk quite fascinating as it made me think about systems in a new way.

He started by telling us about Pando, the oldest, most resilient system in the world. Pando is a forest in Utah where each tree is made from the same root organism. It understands its elements, interconnections and purpose, which is essential for the success of any system.

As humans we’re a product of systems. Cities, buildings, institutions, forests and people are all systems. Systems that are aware of themselves can change their behaviour, for example, Pando is capable of withstanding fires.

Ricardo explained that poor structure leads to poor behaviour and gave the example of the judicial system, where we have 12 elements (jurors) deciding the outcome of a case. But, we don’t know their individual stories, so they could be biased.

The anatomy of a system, according to Ricardo, is:

  • Elements
  • Interconnections
  • Purpose

Elements are usually tangible, e.g. a school has books, classrooms and teachers, but they can also be intangible, e.g. school pride and providing clarity. Elements usually suffer the biggest changes. Elements should remove themselves once they’ve helped a system achieve its purpose. If the elements are hard to see, the functions and purpose are even harder to determine.

Systems can be nested within other systems. A tree is a system within a forest, which is also a system. Therefore, you have a purpose within a purpose, and all purposes in a system must be in harmony with each other.

It’s important for a system to be flexible, to be able to change. Ricardo stated that “A system needs to bend but never break”. For example, the cells in our body change regularly but it’s still our body. If you need to change the interconnections or function of a system, you should re-evaluate if your purpose is still the same.

A system is a set of intended behaviours, not a set of objects. We shouldn’t get too caught up in just the elements of a system, e.g. the buttons on a website. We need to observe the behaviours of the people using the system to better understand it.

Systems don’t need to be complex; they need to be transparent and modular, and the user needs to be able to see all variations of the system. This empowers the user and gives them knowledge.

Ricardo ended his talk with a quote by Ben Hamilton Baillie, “If we observed first and designed second we wouldn’t need half of the things we build.”

“The Art and Science of Naming” – Sophie Tahran

As a linguist and Content Queen, I found Sophie’s talk very interesting; also because at Wildheart we have a product idea up our sleeves that will hopefully need naming in the near future!

Sophie claims that a great name makes your product more usable – by creating a shared language – and memorable. She suggested there are two types of names: proprietary & common. She divided proprietary names into the following types:

  • Eponymous, e.g. Disney; Burberry
  • Descriptive, e.g. American Airlines; Home Depot
  • Acronymic, e.g. KFC
  • Suggestive, e.g. Slack Facebook
  • Associative, e.g. Amazon
  • Foreign, e.g. Zappos
  • Abstract, e.g. Rolex; Kodak

Sophie explained that naming is important, requires structure, and shouldn’t come last in your product creation. Her 5-step naming process is as follows:

  1. Lay the foundation
  2. Brainstorm
  3. Refine, refine refine
  4. Get approval
  5. Drive adoption

Lay the foundation
Look at naming conventions. Which patterns do your names follow? Which patterns should they follow?

Brainstorm
There are lots of different ways to brainstorm, e.g. using Post-it notes, blue sky process, etc. You need to identify the entry points and look for overlapping sounds. Certain sounds invoke the same types of ideas, no matter what language you speak, e.g. V = vitality; B & T = reliability.

Refine
Are there common themes amongst your group or are the name ideas all over the map? Sophie suggested some stress testing: take 3–6 of your options and make sure they fit all the naming restriction categories:

  • Literacy: how does it sound, is it understandable?
  • Size: does the name fit the current scope of the product and leave room to grow?
  • Universality: make sure the name doesn’t mean something odd in another language; check for the curse of knowledge.
  • SEO: check domains, etc.
  • Legal: check copyright, competitors, etc.

Get approval
Getting approval for your name should be easy if you’ve followed the steps above. It’s best to make only one recommendation for the name, rather than including the entire brainstorming session. Specify the pros and cons and add some context. Usually naming comes down to: strategic thinking plus a gut feeling.

Drive adoption
Once you’ve decided on your name, make sure it’s updated everywhere and shout it from the rooftops!

“Designing for Transparency in Machine Learning” – Caroline Sinders

To be honest, this talk went a little over my head, but I still found it fascinating learning about what’s going on in the world of AI and machine learning.

Caroline explained that AI, machine learning and algorithms are really just pattern matching and sorting. She suggested AI is like salt – it’s not a meal on its own, but when combined with other ingredients it can transform a meal.

Data is based on human input. All data comes from, or is manipulated by, humans; therefore it’s a precious material. But algorithms are fallible. For example, facial recognition doesn’t always work, which can be very traumatic for people, especially at border crossings.

Algorithms look for cues but some of those cues might be wrong. So, Caroline questioned why more algorithms don’t have the ability for users to change their options. We should be able to elevate or remove information as it becomes more or less relevant. She gave the example of Spotify’s Discover Weekly algorithm, which creates a playlist of songs it thinks you’ll like. But the data could be out of date, so we should be able to change it manually.

Caroline concluded by stating that algorithms should be based on human rights centred design.

In conclusion

My overall experience of Nordic Design was a very positive one. It was a great day filled with fascinating information and inspiring ideas. Although there was a lot going on, the day felt relaxed, spacious and stress-free. I loved the playfulness of the break-out areas, and one of my favourite moments was kicking back in the ball-pit – I’ve been wanting to play in one of those since I was a kid!     

I really enjoyed visiting Guy in Stockholm too, and getting to know more about his life over there. It’s a beautiful city, which I’d definitely like to return to, as there’s so much to see and explore. And, as we share in our blog series Running a remote business, it makes such a difference getting face time with your colleagues when you’re used to remote working.


I made these beginner yoga website mistakes so you don’t have to

At times, creating a great yoga website feels more like following Ikea instructions than a vinyasa. Both can be challenging, but at least with yoga you can often identify and fix mistakes intuitively. A foot out of place here, a tuck of the tailbone there. But website mistakes are often complicated to put right, and sometimes we don’t recognise they exist at all.

Crafting a website that effectively expresses your values, speaks to your audience and communicates your authority and skills isn’t easy. Sometimes we need to make mistakes to learn from them (I know I did), but in this article I’ll tell you exactly where I went wrong, so you don’t have to. Do any of these mistakes sound familiar to you?

You overuse stock photography

New websites need a lot of images to look complete, so it’s no wonder new webmasters go hunting for images online to fill them. The problem is, we’ve all become so accustomed to the big smiles and (uncomfortably) clean white backgrounds of stock photography. They scream spam, and people are intuitively put off at first glance.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some beautiful stock photography out there on sites like Unsplash and iStock. But just remember: if you’re using it, you can be sure others are too.

Besides, the visual assets on your website are far more than just a nice viewing experience. They’re an opportunity to connect with your audience and to convey a message. The “handsome man in yoga pose at sunset” image you find online is never going to do that for you.

Google loves unique images, and so will your audience. So, take the time to create some high-quality visual assets of your own. Organise a photoshoot, hire a graphic designer or just enlist the help of friends and family. Your brand and your SEO will thank you for it.

I’m guilty of not including enough of my own photos. I blame my low quality phone camera but that’s no excuse really. In many ways people are more likely to connect with your awkward practice shots than they are the flawless sunset poses. There’s a place for all content.

Your writing lacks the human touch

Whilst a brand is a powerful thing, people don’t connect with brands. They connect with the humans behind them.

When I first started writing, I made the mistake of focusing too much on the information, and not enough on the delivery. As a former scientist, I wrote my articles like I did my scientific papers. Have you ever enjoyed a scientific paper? Probably not, I know I haven’t.

Yoga is such a personal, intimate experience, it can’t be articulated with raw facts alone. It needs a human touch. Anybody can regurgitate a list of basic yoga poses or the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, but only yogis can express the true qualities of yoga. We understand yogis because we are yogis. That puts us in the best position to create content that truly speaks to our audience.

So, always have your audience in mind when you’re writing, and write as if you’re speaking directly to them. Conversational writing makes for engaging reading, and once you’re comfortable doing it, it’s a whole lot more natural.

You write what you want, not what your audience needs

As a website owner and a yoga teacher, I’m sure you have a lot to share. After all, it’s your site and your message. But even with the best of intentions it’s easy to forget that, ultimately, it’s not about you. It’s about your audience.

“You are not your audience” is a classic marketing tenet used to stop us falling into traps based on assumptions. It holds true for yoga as well. The teacher who’s ignorant of their audience runs the risk of failing their students – even in their blog writings.

So, whilst it can be tempting to write whatever you find interesting at the time, think to yourself, “Does this serve my audience?”

If you find that question hard to answer, there are a few ways to resolve it. Firstly, you can do some research online. You can check forums, Facebook groups, Twitter hashtags – anywhere your audience spends time online. Look for common pain points, challenges and questions. This information is worth its weight in gold when you’re planning content.

You could also use keyword research to discover what people are searching for on Google. If 10,000 people a month are searching for “how to do sun salutations”, you can be sure that’s valuable content.

You spend too little time on headlines

Would you be surprised to hear that I now write at least 10 headline variations for every article? Even if I already have one I like.

Headlines can seem like an afterthought at times. After all, the real value is in the content. But the harsh reality is that without a good headline, people won’t read your content at all. In fact, according to Copyblogger’s 80/20 rule of headlines, “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 will go on to read the content.”

Getting that perfect headline is now harder than ever, because we have to write for people and for search engines. It has to include your target keywords, but also be natural. It must convey the purpose of the article but also intrigue the reader. There’s a lot to consider.

Luckily there are tools to help. I use the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer to score each of my headline variations. You want the right ratio of unique, emotional, and power words to get the best scores – and I won’t settle until I have the best. Read How to write killer headlines for your blog for more help on this.

It’s not clear what your visitors should do next

Whether it’s designed to inform, inspire or entertain, every piece of content on your site serves a purpose to its readers. What you as the site owner also need to consider, is the goal that content fulfils for your wider business.

Maybe it’s to drive traffic to your timetable, sign people up to your 30 Day Yoga Challenge, or push people to make enquiries. Sometimes people will simply get their answer and leave (especially if it’s a clear-cut how-to guide or similar), but unless you make it obvious what a visitor should do next, they’re almost certain to “bounce” off your site.

That’s why it’s vital to have clear calls to action on every page, each tailored to the content that’s present. Whether it’s an in-text link at the appropriate place, a callout box, or a sign-up form – you want a natural transition from content to goal.

In essence, you want a marketing funnel. I know, a “marketing funnel” might sound a little nefarious to your typical yoga professional, but it’s really just about connecting with the right audience, then taking them to the right places on your website to take action.

Learning from your mistakes

Building your own yoga website can feel like a daunting task, but if you follow the guidance I’ve given here – and don’t make the mistakes I made – you’ll be well on your way to creating a site that both you and your visitors will love using.

So, let’s sum up what we’ve learnt:

  • Don’t overuse stock photography. Remember: your images are an opportunity to connect with your audience and to convey a message.
  • Give your writing a human touch. People don’t connect with brands; they connect with the humans behind them.
  • You are not your audience. Make sure the content you’re writing serves your audience’s needs and isn’t simply what you want to write.
  • Don’t sideline your headlines! The harsh reality is that without a good headline, people won’t read your content at all.
  • Make it clear what your visitors should do next. Use calls to action on every page to help your visitors take the next relevant step on the journey through your website.

How Wildheart can help

I made all these beginner website mistakes because I tackled it entirely on my own. Turns out, having critical feedback is essential, because we’re often blind to our own mistakes. Expert guidance could have set me on the right path from the beginning, and saved me a lot of time and money in the end.

If you want to be sure your yoga website is starting off on the right foot, check out our New Website Package. We’ve built a fully customisable template website based on many years’ experience of working with yoga businesses like yours. We know yoga and we know what works!

See how we’ve helped our clients


About the author

Dan Jones, Yogi Goals

Dan Jones is the digital marketing freelancer behind Black Lotus Marketing. He’s passionate about helping individuals and brands connect with their audience through authentic content and communications.

A committed Vinyasa Flow practitioner, when he’s not working on his yoga practice he’ll probably be working on his yoga website. Most likely from a coffee shop… or the beach.


How should you structure your yoga website?

In our last post Which website platform should you use for your yoga business?, we talked about the importance of having a website for your yoga business, and explored some of the different platforms that are available.

In this post we take a closer look at the architecture of your site and share our best practice tips, whether you’re restructuring an existing site or starting from scratch.

Does website structure really matter?

Absolutely! Think of your website as the landscape your visitors are navigating and the structure is therefore the map. People can easily get lost in a badly-designed or complicated website and therefore having a simple, easy-to-navigate and logical structure is key.

Also, in this age of constant distraction our online behaviour is changing; we expect things to be easier and faster and we don’t want or have the time to think too much – we want to go straight to what we’re looking for. In a busy and fast-moving world, we expect instant answers.

Your website needs to be clear, simple and foolproof. You’re taking your visitors on a journey. This journey needs signposts, so make it crystal clear on each page what you want them to do and where you want them to go next.

To do this, every page must have a clear call to action, e.g. Buy Now, Download the PDF, Contact Us, Book a Class, etc. To make these calls to action stand out, it’s best practice to  use a well-designed button. These are the primary calls to action, but your pages might need secondary calls to action too. You can use design elements to help differentiate these.

A step-by-step guide to structuring your website

Structuring your website should be like planning a yoga class: you’re taking your students on a beautifully executed journey and all the elements should flow seamlessly. Here are our top seven steps to a successful website, whether you’re starting afresh, or restructuring an existing site.

1. Use Google Analytics

If you’re restructuring an existing site, this is an essential step. Review your site over different time periods and look at the following: what is the top content? Is there a page or blog that people keep coming back to? Are people using navigation in the order it’s laid out?  How long is the average visit? What is the overall bounce rate?

This will give you a pretty accurate picture of how people behave on your website and what you need to do to improve things.

2. Back away from the screen

As a yogi you know the importance of movement! So, during this process it’s really helpful to take a step back from your computer and use other ways of looking at your site structure. A whiteboard or big piece of paper stuck on a wall is a really good way to ‘see’ your design. Take up as much space as you need; use the whole wall if you can. Sticky notes are great for this, as you can move them around easily.

This ‘hands on’ approach might seem old school, but will stretch your brain as well as your body!

3. Know your audience

What kind of students or clients do you want to attract? Do you know what your ideal student wants from you? Try to keep them in mind at all times.

Create profiles of your most likely students and keep these at the heart of your site design or restructure. Keep in mind these questions: What does this person need or want from us? Can they quickly and easily find what they’re looking for?

4. Get feedback

This is really important – when you’ve spent so long being passionate about your yoga business, it can be hard to view it objectively. So, ask for feedback and advice.

It’s good to go through this process with someone who is doing something similar if you can, but even more importantly, use someone outside of the yoga world as a sounding board. At Wildheart we have a few trusted customers and friends (mostly other industry professionals) who we regularly reach out to and ask for feedback.

5. Work in stages

Remember in our last post we talked about goal setting? Start by mapping out where you are now, then where you see your yoga business in 6 months’ and 12 months’ time. Be realistic about each step and what actions you need to take. Any further than this and you’re in the realm of fantasy, so back it up!

6. Use your phone

A modern smartphone or good camera can be really helpful to document the stages of your website design or restructure, especially if you’re using the old school methods of a whiteboard or pen and paper. Make sure you’ve got enough memory on your phone or camera.

7. Sleep on it

Don’t think it all has to happen at once. Give each new idea and change time to sink in. Come back after a good night’s sleep and look at the structure again, refreshed. Resist the urge to run in and start changing stuff around willy nilly without properly thinking it through!

What’s the best structure for a yoga website?

Navigation

Whether you run a yoga studio or you’re an independent yoga teacher, we have a tried and tested structure to follow. Of course, this will depend on precisely what you offer, e.g. you might want pages for therapies (if you offer these), testimonials, gallery, terms and conditions, and links.  You might want to split your events into workshops, retreats and intensives. You might want a dedicated beginners page. Every business is unique, but the core structure is always the same.

We always recommend a Start Here page, which acts as a signpost page to segment your audience. This segmentation could be into beginners and more advanced practitioners; or those looking for yoga and those looking for complementary therapies. A link to Start Here should appear ‘above the fold’ (so you see it immediately) on the Home page.

We also recommend using a footer menu, as this allows you to prioritise your pages and keep your main navigation clear and simple – we recommend no more than 6 items in the main navigation. Remember the journey you’re taking your site visitors on; don’t make it too complicated or they’ll get ‘lost’.

Calls to action

Keep your calls to action (CTAs) consistent, so that people can see them at a glance, e.g. one colour/style for primary CTAs, another for secondary. If you look at your web page with half closed eyes, the CTA buttons should clearly stand out. Keep the text simple, concise and actionable, e.g. Book a class, Buy a pass, Sign up for a course.

The best way to keep your primary CTAs clear and consistent is to follow your main navigation. So, Home should link to Start Here; Start Here should link to the next page in your main navigation, e.g. Classes; Classes should link to the next page, e.g. Workshops; and so on.

Once you’ve added all your CTAs, don’t forget to test the links on the front-end to make sure they go to the right place.

Live examples

Here are some examples of websites we’ve built that follow a logical navigation and feature clear calls to action on every page:

Iriness Yoga & Wellbeing
Maria Boox Yoga
Stillpoint Yoga London
Ayurvedic Yoga Massage UK

How we can help

At Wildheart we’ve helped countless yoga businesses improve on or build their website structure from scratch. We know the yoga industry, we know your audience and we know what works.

Whether your website is in need of a restructure, or you’re starting from scratch, we have a package for you. Check out our Packages page to find out more.

See how we’ve helped our clients

Read the next post in this series

Our next post is all about blogging: Downward facing blog: Do you need to be blogging as a yoga teacher?

Or go back to Blog series: The art of marketing your yoga business.


Which website platform should you use for your yoga business?

If you’ve been following our new blog series, The Art of Marketing Your Yoga Business, you’ll know that your website should be the heart of your business. Your website is the foundation of your marketing cake; you can only spread the delicious email marketing icing and place that juicy social media cherry on top once you have a firm foundation in place.

But, with so many website platforms and self-build software out there, how do you know where to start? Should you use Wix, Weebly, Jimdo, Joomla, Squarespace or WordPress? Should you build it yourself or pay someone else to do it for you? And what about hosting and maintenance? Don’t worry, we’re here to help! In this post we dive into all these issues to help you make the right choices for your business.

The top 3 website platforms

There are many website builders around, but for our comparison we’ve chosen three of the most popular amongst yoga and wellbeing businesses: Wix, Squarespace and WordPress.

These platforms all offer simple content management systems, all work responsively for tablet and mobile and are all built with SEO (search engine optimisation) in mind. But there are some crucial differences.

Wix

Wix has become very popular recently, not least due to its big-budget advertising campaigns on Facebook. Their main selling point is that their service is free and you don’t need any technical skills, thanks to their easy to use drag-and-drop editor. They have a wide range of beautifully designed templates, with layouts pre-built for various different industries. And there are hundreds of third party apps you can add that incorporate additional tools and widgets to your website.

One of the downsides is that your template can’t be changed, so once you’ve chosen it, you’re locked in. You can change design elements within the template, but you can’t pick a new one. You also can’t edit the HTML or CSS of your website, i.e. the source code. This may not be a problem for many people, but if you did want a designer or developer to tweak the design or layout, they wouldn’t be able to. You also can’t add analytics to your site, unless you upgrade to a paid plan, but analytics are crucial for measuring the success of your marketing efforts.

With their free plan, Wix gives you a free domain name and secure hosting. However, the domain name will contain the word “wix”, e.g. username.wix.com. If you’re running a yoga business, we would strongly advise against this, as it doesn’t look professional and you’ll instantly lose credibility. The good news is you can upgrade to the lowest of their premium plans, ‘Connect Domain’ at only £2.55/month, and connect your own domain name to your site.

Of course, as with any free software, you are subjected to ads, and this also applies to the Connect Domain plan mentioned above. The cheapest way to remove these is to upgrade to their ‘Combo’ plan at £5.16/month. This is aimed at personal users and provides more bandwidth and storage than the free plan. Their Unlimited’ plan at £7.76/month provides a lot more storage and unlimited bandwidth and is aimed at entrepreneurs and freelancers. However, for most yoga business websites, the Combo plan would be perfectly adequate.

Squarespace

Squarespace is similar to Wix in that it’s an easy-to-use online building tool that includes hosting and a domain name (username.squarespace.com). However, it’s not free. Their pricing starts at £10/month (billed annually) for a basic website, or £20/month for an online store. So, if you want to sell yoga-related products through your site, you will have to pay a bit more. They do offer a free 14-day trial at least, so you can try before you buy.

There’s no technical setup or software installation (like WordPress) and you don’t need any coding skills. However, their design templates are very limited and they have far fewer than Wix – 25 compared to 500.

Although your domain name is free for the first year regardless of which plan you choose, they do seem to hike the prices up when it comes to renewal, and you’ll be looking at around £20-60 per year for this.

The interface is well designed and easy to use with lots of useful features. However, like Wix, Squarespace is not open source, so you can’t modify or add to it in any way other than what it already allows you to do. You also do not retain control of your own website, so if they don’t like what you’re doing (for whatever reason), they can simply take your site down. This would never happen with WordPress.

WordPress

Wix and Squarespace are online, self-contained tools. WordPress, on the other hand, is a software package that needs to be installed on a web server before it can be used.

Now, at this point we should point out that there are, in fact, two versions of WordPress: wordpress.com and wordpress.org. WordPress.com is a free online tool, much like Wix and Squarespace, with all the usual features. They take care of all the hosting for you, so you don’t have to deal with web servers (the computers that websites live on), but your domain name will by default include “wordpress.com”. There are lots of options for customising your site, but it’s not as straightforward to use as some of the other free platforms, and it doesn’t integrate well with MailChimp or other email marketing providers. And, if you’ve ever used wordpress.org it’s likely you’ll find the free version incredibly frustrating! It’s far more limited, you can’t upload custom themes or plugins, and you can’t access the source code.

So, we’ll focus on wordpress.org for now, which is far more flexible than the other platforms on this list, and also the most popular – with nearly 30% of the world wide web currently using WordPress.

The first step is that you need to buy some web server space from a hosting company, but this can start from as little as £5/month. You also need to buy your own domain name, which costs around £10-20/year. There are many hosting and domain name companies around, but our favourite is TSOHost (this is only relevant for UK businesses; if you’re in the US you should host with a US-based server company with servers in the US, and we’d recommend Bluehost). The upside of self-hosting is that you get more control and flexibility over your own site, and you can choose your own domain name, to add a level of professionalism to your business.

You can then choose your custom themes and plugins to start building your website. Because WordPress is open source software, anyone can build a theme or plugin to add new functionality. The official WordPress plugin directory currently has over 51,000 plugins – both free and paid – so you’re sure to find everything you need.

Once you’re up and running, WordPress is very flexible and very intuitive state-of-the-art software. It was originally built as a blogging platform, so its user interface is incredibly well designed and no other builder comes close in terms of managing content. It is more technical than the others, though, so you will need some technical skills to make it really good, but you can always ask a designer or developer to help you. Due to its popularity, finding a good designer who knows the ins and outs of WordPress shouldn’t be too expensive or hard to find.

Even though you have to pay for your domain name and hosting, WordPress is still the most affordable solution on this list. So, if you’re not put off by having to set this up yourself, this is a great option. You also get full access to the source code, so any designer or developer can access and edit your site if you need help with it.

WordPress for yoga businesses

At Wildheart we build all our sites in WordPress, in fact we’ve been working with WordPress for over ten years (check out Ashtanga Brighton, the first WordPress website our founder Guy built in 2006). One of the things we love about using WordPress for yoga businesses is the choice of plugins available for dealing with things like booking forms, taking payments and integration with your mailing list. There’s also a great feature called ‘custom post-types’ which allows us to build sections for events or therapists, for example, which are easy to update in the back-end and easy to use with searches and filters in the front-end.

Here are some yoga and wellbeing websites that we’ve recently built or restructured in WordPress:

Yoga studios

Stillpoint Yoga London

Iriness Yoga & Wellbeing

Independent yoga teachers

Maria Boox Yoga

Yoga training

Yoganatomy

Ayurvedic Yoga Massage UK

In conclusion

If you’re looking for a quick, simple and cheap website that you can easily put together yourself, but with limited design and functionality, then Wix is probably a good solution. As a yoga business, we’d recommend their Combo or Unlimited plan, so you can add your own domain name and remove the ads.

If you’re looking for low customisation but also low maintenance, Squarespace is another good option and many find the user interface ‘cleaner’ to use than Wix. If you’d like to compare Squarespace with Wix you can always sign up for their free 14-day trial and try out both platforms to see which one you prefer.

If you’d rather have more control over your website, want to get started for free and don’t mind setting up your own web hosting and domain name, then we’d highly recommend WordPress. It’s by far the most powerful and most flexible of these 3. But be aware that you may need help if you want to customise the design.

How we can help

At Wildheart we always recommend WordPress.org to our customers and build any new sites using this software. When you sign up to our Website Updates Package, we’ll fully manage your hosting for you and can also help you choose a domain name.

One of the great features of WordPress is the countless themes and plugins that make it fully customisable, but these need to be kept up-to-date. We’ll make full weekly backups of your site, make sure everything is updated on a weekly basis, and do a weekly manual check of every page, to ensure there are no bugs or errors as a result of updating. Of course, if there are, we’ll fix these right away.

And we’ll even throw in 3 essential premium plugins that we believe every yoga business should have. This will save you time and money compared to you buying and installing them yourself. So, you can be sure your website is kept safe, secure, fully functional and in tip-top shape.

See how we’ve helped our clients

Read the next post in this series

In our next post in The Art of Marketing Your Yoga Business series, we’ll be looking at how to structure your yoga website. Does structure really matter? And what’s the best website structure for a yoga business? Don’t miss it – keep an eye on our content marketing blog to find out more.

Or go back to Blog series: The art of marketing your yoga business.


Are you ready to market your yoga business?

If you’re an independent yoga teacher or you run a yoga studio, you probably know you need to do some marketing, but are you really ready? As we mentioned in Want to learn the art of marketing your yoga business? one of the first things you’ll need to do is shift your mindset to accept that you’re running a business. And that you’ll need to market that business if you want to attract more customers, i.e. students. This is often the hardest step to take, particularly if you don’t want to feel like you’re ‘selling’ yoga

Authentic marketing takes time and practice to get right, and preparation is key. It’s important to do the groundwork before you can get started. So, in the 2nd post of our new blog series, ‘The Art of Marketing Your Yoga Business,’ we explore some vital elements you need to have in place first. Let’s dive in.

Laying the foundations

If you’ve already been doing some marketing for your business, but haven’t seen the results you were hoping for, try asking yourself these questions:

  • Do you know who your audience is?
  • Do you know who your competition is?
  • Have you organised your website so that people can easily find what they need?
  • Are you regularly creating content that you know your audience will love?
  • Are you giving away awesome content in order to grow your email list?
  • Is every page on your website search engine friendly?
  • Is your website optimised for speed?
  • Are you measuring the success of your content marketing across your website, email campaigns and social media?

If you’ve answered ‘No’ to some of these questions, don’t worry. These are some of the topics we’ll be covering in this blog series.

Setting your goals

Do you know what you want to achieve with your marketing? In order to grow your business  you need some idea of which direction you’re headed in and what your overall vision is. Let’s say you want to get more students to your class. A pretty achievable goal, right? But, how many students, what kind of students – total beginners or more experienced practitioners –  and by when? How are you going to track where they came from? Or how many are signing up for your workshops or other events you offer? How will you know which of your marketing efforts works best? Is it flyers, emails, word of mouth, or your social media accounts?

Set some clear and identifiable goals for your business such as, ‘I want to attract 10 new beginner students to my classes over the next month.’ Then measure how successful you were in achieving that goal. This will help you to plan ahead and see the bigger picture. After all, if you’re not measuring it, it’s not marketing. We’ll be taking a closer look at measuring the success of your marketing later in this series.

Do you really need a website?

You may be thinking, ‘In this social media age do I really need a website?’ The answer is yes, absolutely! There are some really strong reasons why having a good website is a must for anyone running, or thinking of running, a yoga business:

  • Access: Anyone in any part of the world can access your business as long as they have an internet connection.
  • Analytics: You can track who’s visiting your website, what they’re interested in and how long they spend on each page. This is really valuable information which will help determine the best way to reach your target audience.
  • Engagement: From people arriving on your landing page, liking what they read and wanting to know more about you, you can encourage them to sign up to your email list. You’re now growing a community of engaged people who will want to return to your website again and again.
  • Ownership: Having a website allows you to publish and own your own content. With the increasing popularity of social media, the boundaries between sharing and ownership are becoming more and more blurred, and it’s very easy for ownership to get lost in the wave of social sharing.

Why marketing is like baking a cake

There’s a definite recipe for success when it comes to marketing, and we like to compare it to baking a cake. Your website is the cake itself, which has to be in place first. Your email marketing is the icing, which can only be added once you’ve baked your cake. And, finally,  social media is the cherry on top. The point of using social media is to drive traffic back to your website. After all, there’s no point having a nice tasty cherry without a cake to place it on, is there? Your website should be  the hub of your business – this is where the magic happens!

The cake

The base of your cake is your website. This must be your first order of business and you need to ensure

  • The architecture is clear and simple.
  • You’re publishing regular new content.
  • There are clear calls to action on each page.
  • Your site is search engine friendly.
  • Your site is running at an optimum speed.

The icing

The next layer is the icing: building a high quality email list. This takes time and patience.

What you’re aiming for is to convert website visitors into email subscribers so that you can build a more personal relationship via email marketing. Email marketing is still way more effective than social media for building relationships with potential customers, as it allows you to target your audience more effectively. You know that the people who sign up to your mailing list are interested in what you offer and engaged with your business.

For more on this, check out our article An Introduction to Lead Magnets: How to use your WordPress blog to grow your email list.

The cherry

Once you’ve got your website in tip-top shape (i.e. baked your cake) and have started to grow your email list (i.e. spread that delicious icing), you can finally place your social media cherry on top. Remember, the main purpose of social media is to drive traffic back to your website So, try not to get too caught up in ‘vanity’ metrics, such as likes, follows and shares.

How we can help

If you want to start making progress with your website and marketing but you’re not sure where to begin, we have the perfect solution for you.

Simply book a free consultation with us to discuss what needs fixing on your website, as well as lots of tips on how to get started with your marketing. There’s absolutely no obligation to buy further from us, and you’ll receive valuable insights whether you choose to purchase one of our packages or not.

Book a free consultation

Read the next post in this series

So, now you’re ready to start marketing your yoga business and you know that starts with having a sound website. But if you don’t currently have a website, where should you start? Our next post will look at different web platforms to help you choose the right one for your business.

Or go back to Blog series: The art of marketing your yoga business.


Content Kitchen 9: How do I get more enquiries through my website?

Brought to you on the first Friday of each month, Content Kitchen is a series of videos in which our co-founder Guy answers your content marketing questions. Why Content Kitchen? Because they’re recorded in Guy’s kitchen of course!

How do I get more enquiries through my website?

This is a question that businesses ask a lot. You’ve spent time and money making sure your website looks great and is packed with the right information, but how can you start generating more enquiries through it?

This month Guy shares his top 3 tips for getting more website enquiries for your business – these are 3 simple things you can do right now. Guy’s 3rd tip is inspired by Don Miller at StoryBrand from something he calls the “grunt test”.

So what are you waiting for? Watch the video, find out what the “grunt test” is and put our advice into action!


10 steps to a sound website structure

If you’re planning a website restructure, this post is for you! Perhaps you’re launching new products or services. Or you’ve had valuable feedback from your customers. Or maybe you just feel it’s time for a change.

Whatever the reason, it’s important that your website is structured in a simple, sensible and user friendly way. A solid structure goes a long way to helping your SEO strategy (search engine optimisation). According to Yoast, “your site’s structure determines whether a search engine understands what the topic of your site is and how easily it will find and index content relevant to your site’s purpose and intent.”

What’s the difference between a restructure and a redesign?

A website restructure takes into account the changing needs of your business and makes use of past website analytics to make changes.

A website redesign (which often takes place at the same time) focuses on the branding, design and layout of your website.

A restructure and a redesign are not the same thing and require different skills and techniques to implement.

How to tackle a website restructure

There are 2 very important ways to tackle a website restructure:

  1. Look back – use Google Analytics to see how your site is performing. Are people using your main navigation in the way that it’s laid out? If not, this is a clue that your navigation is not aligned with the needs of your audience.
  2. Look ahead – where is your business going? What products or services are you rolling out over the next 6 to 12 months?

A website restructure also has 2 important stages:

  1. Planning – deciding what to change and why.
  2. Implementation – this should only happen after the planning stage is complete and signed off.

We’ll take a look at these elements in the next section.

10 steps to a sound website structure

Here’s our in-depth guide to ensuring your website structure is both sound for your business and relevant for your audience.

1. Use your Google Analytics

Start by reviewing your site over different time periods, e.g. the last 12 months and the last 6 months.

These questions should help:

  • What is the top content?
  • Are people using your navigation in the order it’s laid out?
  • Where are your visitors coming from?
  • How long is the average visit?
  • How many pages are viewed per visit?
  • Do your visitors keep coming back?
  • What is the overall site bounce rate?

2. Get off the computer

It’s a good idea to get up on your feet and away from your screen.

Use a whiteboard with markers or sticky notes. Write down the goals of your business and then physically map out your existing site structure. Sticky notes are great for this as you can move stuff around later.

Take as much space as you need – a whole wall if you can. You don’t want to feel limited by space.

3. Always put the customer first

Customer profiles are a great tool you can use to help steer the process here. Check out our post How to choose your blog topics for a closer look at creating customer profiles.

This is not about what Johnny in IT or Linda from HR wants, this is more about your audience and customers!

Print out your customer profiles and put them in the centre of the board. Keep asking yourself “What does this customer need or want from us? Can they quickly and easily find what they’re looking for?”

4. Don’t do it alone

This is really important – if you’re in your business then you’re too close to your business to view it objectively.

It’s good to go through this process with your colleagues or teammates if you can, but even more importantly, use someone outside the business as a sounding board. At Wildheart we have a few trusted customers and friends (mostly other industry professionals) who we regularly reach out to and ask for feedback.

The same applies – and is even more important – if you work on your own.

5. Work in stages

Start by mapping out where you are now, then where you see your business in 6 months’ and 12 months’ time. Any further than this and you’re in the realm of fantasy, so back it up!

Do you need an interim change from where you are now to where you’d like the business and website to be in 12 months? Make sure you capture this, even if you make changes later.

6. Use your phone

We recommend capturing each stage of your sessions with a modern smartphone or a good camera. Remember to free up enough space on your phone or camera before you start.

You can then share these images with stakeholders and others involved in the project, or just keep them for your own records if you’re working alone.

7. Sleep on it

Don’t rush it. You should allow a minimum of 2 weeks to allow the implications of the changes to sink in. Even if it’s just you in your business.

Ideally, this means several planning sessions with a few days in between. This is especially important if you’re doing the implementation yourself. Resist the urge to run in and start changing stuff around willy nilly without properly thinking it through!

8. Document it

Even if you have a small site you’ll want to document your changes using something like our content audit spreadsheet. This is where you capture all your important search engine data, such as page titles, URLs, focus keywords and, most importantly, your redirects. Complete the form at the end of this post for your free content audit template.

Redirect, redirect, redirect!

If you change any of your existing URLs to new ones, it’s very important to set up 301 redirects. These basically tell search engines to permanently redirect all existing links to your new URLs.

For example, when we renamed the URL of the Wildheart blog, we set up a redirect from https://wildheartmedia.com/content-marketing-blog to https://wildheartmedia.com/yoga-marketing-blog. It’s very easy to do this in the Redirects section of Yoast SEO for WordPress.

If you change a URL without a redirect then all internet links that should go to that page will end up with the dreaded ‘404 page not found’ error – eek!

You may not think this matters too much (maybe you don’t have many people linking to your blog), but you’d be wrong. Google’s very own crawler will also spot that a page that used to be there is suddenly gone and it will have a little tizzy! By setting your redirects you’re reassuring the Google crawler by saying “Don’t worry, we’ve just moved this page to over here”. The Google crawler likes things neat and tidy, so ignore it at your peril!

9. Implement it

Once you’ve captured all the pages and posts that you want to change, and you’ve worked out your redirects, then you’re finally ready to implement.

Before you go ahead and make the changes, ensure you’ve backed up your site first so that if anything goes wrong you can roll back to an earlier version. You don’t want to risk losing all that hard work!

10. Testing… testing…

All done? Well, not quite. The final step is to test all your changes, especially those redirects. And re-submit your sitemaps to Google Search Console, so the crawler is kept in the loop.

Everything working ok? Great, you’ve successfully restructured your website to make it easier for your audience to find what they’re looking for, and therefore better for the growth of your business.

To help you capture your important data and work out your redirects during your website restructure, sign up to our blog below and download our free content audit spreadsheet. Both ourselves and our clients find it an invaluable tool.


Content Kitchen 7: In this social media age do I even need a website?

Brought to you on the first Friday of each month, Content Kitchen is a series of videos in which our co-founder Guy answers your content marketing questions. Why Content Kitchen? Because they’re recorded in Guy’s kitchen of course!

Do I even need a website?

As the power of social media increases, you could be forgiven for wondering whether it’s still relevant to have a website at all. Well, the simple answer is yes, definitely!

In this month’s video, Guy gives his top 3 reasons why you absolutely need a website in order to ensure the growth, and therefore the success, of your business.

What next?

One of Guy’s reasons in this video as to why you still need a website is to do with ownership. Who owns the content you publish online and how does this differ across your website and social media accounts?

Read our follow-up post Sharing and ownership: 2 keys to your content kingdom to find out more.


The best way to a faster website

Most businesses today know they need a website if they’re going to get ahead. If you’ve already got one – well done!

It probably looks nice and contains all the essential info you want people to know about your business and what you offer. Again, well done you!

But do you know how fast your website is? And how important website speed is for building your customer base?

Why is website speed so important?

Most people spend a lot of time and money on how their website looks. Some businesses think carefully about their content, and a few think about turning their visitors into subscribers and then into customers.

But none of that matters if people don’t stick around to read your finely crafted, well organised content. This is where website performance comes in.

Think of your website like a car. You’ve spent a lot of money on a shiny new car and you polish it often to keep it looking spotless. You’ve spent time choosing the right upholstery and you know it’s important to keep it clean and tidy inside. You want to show it off to your friends so you invite them over and they’re suitably impressed by the beautiful, gleaming exterior and spotless, stylish interior. You get in the driver’s seat and start the ignition. The engine tries to start but ends up sputtering and conking out. You try again and the same thing happens. Your friends are disappointed and end up walking away.

That’s why website speed is so important – if your pages take too long to load and your visitors can’t get the info they need in a few seconds, they’ll give up and look elsewhere. We live in an impatient world where we expect everything to happen instantly. We don’t have time to wait for slow websites.

Do you know how fast your website is?

The problem here is we’re entering the realm of the geeks and all kinds of techy stuff! But don’t worry, we’ll keep this simple and keep the jargon to a minimum.

You need to benchmark your site before doing any optimisation; in other words, you need to figure out how your site is currently performing. The most important thing you’re looking for is page load time and this doesn’t just apply to your home page – all key pages should be tested.

There are several online tools you can use to test the speed of your website, but unfortunately it’s not quite that straightforward. It depends on a lot of different variables and even running 3 tests on the same site won’t always give you the same answer.

Many experts suggest using Google’s PageSpeed Insights but we say DON’T DO IT! Why? Because it doesn’t actually measure the loading time of your site – which is just crazy!

So we use Pingdom Website Speed Test.

How to use Pingdom to test your website speed

Simply follow these steps to find out how fast your web pages are loading:

1. Go to Pingdom, enter your website URL and the location you want to test from.

Screengrab - Pingdom speed test

2. Click Start Test and wait for the results to load.

3. In the Summary window you’ll see the results for:

– Performance grade

– Load time – this is what matters most!

– Page size

– Requests

Screengrab - Pingdom results summary

4. Record the results and repeat for all other pages on your site.

The most important result to focus on is load time. Ideally, you want a load time of up to about 3 seconds. Any more than this and your visitors will be waiting too long.

Now, for the purpose of this post, we suggest you ignore all the other info that the speed test offers. It will almost certainly highlight other issues with your website, but what we’re after here is the quickest way to get your website performing faster.

So…

What’s the No.1 way to increase your website speed?

Ok, so you’ve established how fast your web pages are actually loading and, the chances are, they could probably do with speeding up a bit, if not a lot.

So here’s the part you’ve been waiting for… the best kept secret of how to make your website faster… and it has everything to do with…

IMAGES

The images on your website are, almost without a doubt, the No.1 culprit for slowing down your site. The key is understanding how images work and making sure you compress them properly.

The problem is, most images uploaded to the web are far too big and therefore take far too long to load, which essentially puts to waste all that hard work that went into your site in the first place. Remember: no matter how great your content, product or service is, no-one will hang around long enough to find out, if they have to wait too long for your site to load.

Add to this the fact that WordPress has its own default image sizes, and themes and plugins can all add their own images on top of these, and you have a whole lotta images goin’ on!

So, what’s the answer…?

Simple 3-step guide to reducing your image sizes

If you want a faster website, all you need to do is follow our simple 3-step guide.

1. Turn off the defaults

Turn off the default image sizes in WordPress, so you can set your own image sizes.

  • Go to Settings > Media
  • Set all the dimensions to 0 pixels.

Screengrab - WordPress default image sizes

2. Resize your images

Resize your images to the correct dimensions BEFORE uploading them to WordPress.

For detailed instructions of how to do this, including a free image resizing video tutorial, check out our post A picture says a thousand words but not if it takes too long to load.

3. Meet the panda!

Once you’ve resized your images, use TinyPNG to compress them BEFORE uploading them to WordPress.

Simply drop your image onto the page and let the panda do his thing, then download the newly compressed image. The file size will be greatly reduced, without losing any of the quality.

Screengrab - TinyPNG

Bonus tip: instead of using the TinyPNG website to compress your images each time, why not install the TinyPNG WordPress plugin? Simply download and install it onto your WordPress site and it’ll automatically compress every image you upload. Just be sure to select the “compress all images” option.

Now go forth and get speedy!

And that, my friends, is the best way to a faster website.

Our final reminder – which you’ll know if you’ve read 4 things you need for successful content marketing – is that website performance alone is not enough. You also need good people, a great product and clear processes if you want to succeed in growing your business with content marketing.

To find out how we can review and improve on your website performance, and so much more, check out our Website Updates Package.

See how we’ve helped our clients