Web Design and SEO Blog

Jan201830

Five Mistakes You’re Making on Your Ecommerce Site

by Mira Brody in Design, Tools & Tips, UX


Ecommerce is a great way for your products to reach customers wherever they are, 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, poor user experience often causes unnecessary frustration and can even prevent visitors from completing a purchase they would have otherwise made. Take a look at our list of five reasons your site may be losing you sales.

1. Not Mobile-Friendly
1.6 billion users shop using their mobile devices worldwide, making it necessary for your ecommerce site to not only ‘work,’ but to perform well on all screen sizes, whether desktop, tablet or phone. If someone on their phone or tablet accesses your online store and find it difficult to use, they are much more likely to leave without making a purchase.

2. Poor Checkout Experience
Once a customer has added an item to their cart and are ready to checkout, you’ll want to make sure nothing is in the way of them following through with finalizing their purchase. Some common “sticking points” are:

  • No guest checkout option. Although you should present the benefits of creating an account with your company to site visitors. In one study, 14% of customers who abandoned their cart reported that it was because registration was required — maybe they were not ready to commit, or just didn't have the time right then to sign up.
  • Payment and shipping options. If you expect your visitors to spend money with you, you need to present them with options. 28% of online shoppers abandon their cart simply due to lack of shipping price options! Talk to your credit card processor about providing multiple payment types, and include different shipping price points as well as delivery times. If our client doesn’t have a flat shipping fee, we often integrate live shipping cost calculators into our clients’ sites. This will charge as close to real shipping costs as possible, making it less likely that the end user abandons their cart because they see over-inflated shipping prices.

3. Lack of product information
The products on your ecommerce site should be clearly represented by large images, multiple photo shots, and provide accurate descriptions so that shoppers can make their purchase with confidence. If you have a large number of products for sale, another great feature to consider on your ecommerce site is a product search and filters so they can easily find the items they are looking for.

4. You Appear Untrustworthy
Gaining and keeping paying customers is a relationship built on a foundation of trust, and a lot of this trust is built on how you deal with a potential buyer’s common questions.
  • Point of contact. Keep the door of communication open with your customers by providing a clear point of contact in case they need to reach you. Whether it be a contact form, customer service number or live chat, your site visitor will appreciate you being transparent and available to them.
  • Return Policy. Studies show that goods are returned at a much higher rate online than at physical stores — your ecommerce store must be equip to handle these transactions. One such way is providing a policy; 63% of online shoppers check a retailer’s returns policy before making a purchase. Provide a link to your store’s return policy that is easily accessible in the footer of your website. If you don’t yet have a return policy, you can easily find a template online, but remember to always have your lawyer look over the language before putting it on your website.
  • Checkout process is too complex or requires too much information. Customers don’t like to give personal information away unless they are clear what it is being used for. For example, they understand that in order to make a purchase, they much provide payment, but why do you also need their phone number or email address? Two solutions here: don’t require information you don’t absolutely need, or be transparent about its use. If you need an email address in oder to send them a transaction receipt, say so!

5. Not Measuring Your Success
If you build it, they won’t come. Just because you’ve launched a shiny new ecommerce site, doesn’t mean any of your potential buyers will suddenly find it. Pair with a reputable digital marketing team to properly optimize and advertise your site, and measure your success as times goes on. This will allow you to better reach your target marketing goals and ensure the longevity of your business.

Conclusion
As online shopping overshadows the brick and mortar version, consumers are becoming more aware of what evokes a positive online shopping experience. If you want your ecommerce site to not only attract visitors, but retain regular customers as well, it is important to provide them with an experience of positivity and trust.
Jan201825

Sharpen Your Skills by Attending a Conference

by Mira Brody in Industry News, Tools & Tips

How our team found purpose and inspiration through the education of others.

When running a business, it is important to keep looking for ways to improve the future of your company. One such way is to consider attending an industry conference or expo where you can absorb information straight from the mouths of experts in your field. While time consuming, sometimes involving travel and oftentimes pricy, conferences have a multitude of invaluable benefits:

  • They allow you to gain Gain Knowledge in your industry.
  • Provide the opportunity to network with your peers and competitors. Talk to them; learn what they do and who they work with.
  • Conferences often include presentation materials, whether a brochure, new software or book.


Big Sky Big Ideas is a conference in Bozeman, MT that our company’s president attended recently. One of the speakers, Tara-Nicholle Nelson, is the author of a book called The Transformational Consumer. The primary concept in her book is that the key to running a successful business is to engage customers by triggering their human desire for growth and transformation. While JTech has always believed in these values, this book has helped us better articulate them to our clients and potential customers. Our team has been working through our own transformation, using this source of education as a driving force to improve our branding and messaging.


We have a lot of great changes coming, all of which were inspired by The Transformational Consumer. From a fresh approach to our blog, to a website redesign including in-house video footage, we are so excited to roll these out to the public.


Invest in Your Company

While keeping up on articles in your industry is a great supplement, conferences provide the unique experience of being present and hands-on with others in your same position. If you are looking for a way to improve the way you do business, consider attending a conference this year!

Jan201823

Is Your Content Strategy Working?

by Mira Brody in Content, SEO, Tools & Tips

Use Domain Authority to measure your results.


There are a number of ways to measure the success of your website and other marketing efforts, but Domain Authority (DA) is a great way to take a look at the broader scope of your site's reputation. Domain authority is your website’s search engine score — out of 100 — which significantly determines how well you will rank in search engine results. Maintaining a high score will ensure you are in good standing with search engines like Google, making you more visible to those searching for your products and services.


What determines your score?

Although there are many of factors behind what determines your Domain Authority, but it can be boiled down to age of your site, its popularity, quality and size. If you are a brand-new site, you’ll start at zero, and as you establish an online presence, that score will grow. Popularity is determined by the keywords in your site’s content as well as how many times your domain is linked to by other authoritative sites. And, of course, larger sites with quality content and prestige pull more weight.


How can I check my score?

There are a handful of tools you can use to keep tabs on your Domain Authority. To check on your website’s score, type your URL into the following sources:


How can I fix mine?

Domain Authority is difficult to influence directly. The best advice is to continually work on improving your site’s overall Search Engine Optimization (SEO), particularly obtaining more links from other sites, and check its performance, such as how fast your website loads.


What is Page Authority?

Page Authority (PA) is also a score ranked out of 100, but instead of measuring the strength of an entire domain, it only measures how a specific page ranks in search engine results. So, while your domain ranks a 50/100, your About Us page may rank a 48/100. This single page score uses a similar blend of metrics as Domain Authority.


Conclusion

Domain Authority has become a viable standard by which to measure the ranking strength of your site, making it an important number to keep an eye on. Your digital marketing strategy should always be working toward improving your score, whether it be monitoring your keywords, linking your site to others, or producing quality content.

Jan201818

Common Website Errors and What To Do About Them

by Mira Brody in Development, Tools & Tips, UX


Website errors happen, but what do all those numbers mean? As a website owner, when is there cause for concern? Are your site’s visitors and business’s customers experiencing the same thing? Although some are minor, if your site is throwing errors often, it can hinder customers from accessing your website when they need it, not only creating frustration, but also the potential for you to lose sales. Here is a handy list of common error states to help you understand what’s going on under the hood if you do come across one on your site.

404 — These occur when a visitor has clicked on a broken link, leading them to a webpage that no longer exists. Google doesn’t like 404 pages and will count them against you in search results.
Solution: Be sure to log in and review your site’s Google Search Console for broken links and check all of the links on your website every now and then to see that they all function as intended. When you do come across one that leads to a 404, you’ll have to fix the URL, or remove it from your site all together.

500 — You’ll see this when the web server hosting your website encounters an issue, usually when it is experiencing a high volume of requests.
Solution: First, try reloading your browser, clearing your browser’s cookies, or waiting until web traffic clears. If you find that this error is occurring frequently on your site, check with your website host and consider a new provider with improved service. If you are a JTech customer, that would of course, be us.

403 (Forbidden) & 401 (Unauthorized) — The link you clicked may be directed toward authorized users only, or has specific permissions, such as an employee portal, or the login attempt has failed.
Solution: Clear your cache and reload the webpage. If a site visitor without a login experiences this error, ask them to show you the URL they accessed the page from. You can check for misspellings, but also make sure it has an extension (such as .com, .net, .html, etc.). If the link to this login page was accessed from an external source, such as an email, it is possible it was pasted incorrectly. For JTech customers, if you were to ever see this error, contact us.

408 — This is a Request Timeout error, which means the request you sent to the website server (e.g. a request to load a web page) took longer than it was willing to wait. Your connection with the website timed out.
Solution: If you or your site visitors are frequently experiencing this error, your website host may not be handing the amount of traffic you have. As with all of these more technical errors, the best fix is to consider upgrading to a hosting service that can handle the number of visitors you have on your site. For JTech customers, if you were to ever see this, contact us.

502 — Another sign of a server being unable to handle your site’s traffic. We see this error a lot with those who have a commodity hosting service that can’t handle website requests in a timely fashion.
Solution: This error will clear once traffic decreases, but again, a persisting 502 error may require researching a better hosting service for your website needs. For JTech customers, if you were to ever see this, contact us.

We hope this compilation of errors comes in handy when you next see one. Although some are due to things out of your business’s control, such as poor internet connection, it is good to know what is going with your website so that you can stay running and available to your customers 24/7.
Jan201816

Attract Your Expanding Market With a New Website

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Keep your website up to speed as markets and competitors change.


Times change and so does your industry. Montana’s Gallatin Valley, for example, is now one of the fastest-growing regions in the country, changing the state of the regional housing market and bringing a business boost to real estate agencies in the area. Venture West Realty is one such agency — they realized their website was out of date and needed some new online real estate of their own.

In order to better reach this influx of potential customers, our team is working on a new, modern Venture West Realty website. Our team is confident that the development of a new map and listings page can make it easier for potential buyers to find properties or explore amenities in the surrounding neighborhoods. Aside from being new and mobile-responsive, the site will also carefully address sellers and buyers as well as emphasize the relationships Venture West builds with their customers, their integrity as people, and their experience in the local real estate market.

After their new site is built, Venture West will be well-positioned to serve those looking to sell or buy homes in the area. It is always important to stay in stride with your industry as it changes, as it will help you better target shifting markets as well as meet your competitors head-on.
Jan201811

Add Efficiency to Your Social Media Strategy

by Mira Brody in Content, Social Media, Tools & Tips

Save time on multiple social media platforms with this free distribution tool.


Social media is a great way for your business to reach customers as they are scrolling through their newsfeed. However, it can consume a lot of time to upload, post and analyze the data across multiple social accounts on a daily basis. Many tools exist to ease this social media management process, but we recommend Hootsuite. Here are a few key features of Hootsuite and how they can help you more economically manage your company’s social media, freeing up more time to run other aspects of your business.

Social media integration — Hootsuite supports integration with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, WordPress blogs, Instagram, YouTube, as well as app integration with other networks you may use for work, such as Pinterest, Trello and Constant Contact. To add a network, simply provide Hootsuite with your login credentials for that platform, and you can post to all networks from a single interface.

Schedule & customize posts — Hootsuite’s scheduling tool allows you to post immediately, schedule posts to publish at a specific date or time, or make use of their AutoScheduling tool. AutoSchedule schedules the post for that same day, but will automatically calculate the time slots at which it will reach the most people. You can also customize each post per platform, if you wish.

Measure your success — Hootsuite will draw analytics data from all your social media sources into one digestible spreadsheet so that you can manage your success without five different browser windows open, trying to compare different graphs and data against each other. Hootsuite allows you to select the social platforms you want to pull data from, and compiles it into reports that you can edit to your needs.

Team collaboration — With a Hootsuite Business or Enterprise plan, you can add multiple team members, and edit access per user. While some employees may have free range, others may need to get posts approved by a manager before the post goes live. More than one person can manage your company’s social media — even from separate offices — and be on the same page.

Conclusion
Hootsuite is a great tool to consider for any business managing more than one social media account. They offer a variety of plans according to your business needs, including a Limited Free Plan, to get you started and a 30-day free trial on any paid plans. From scheduling a single post across many platforms, to pulling analytics on your progress, the software compiles a laundry list of tasks into a single, streamlined interface, leaving you with more time to manage other parts of your business.
Jan20183

A Website Overhaul for Longtime JTech Client, Montana Moulding

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Montana Moulding and Sign Supply has been doing business in the Northern Rocky Mountain region for 30 years. From their home base in Billings, MT, they have grown to be one of the premier wholesale sign supply and picture frame material distributers in Montana, Wyoming,  Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota and parts of Canada.


JTech has had the pleasure of working with Montana Moulding for many years, most recently on a website overhaul. This new site includes sweeping imagery of Montana with an image rotator on the home page, a monthly specials section where they can highlight specific products and an area for announcements. Because they are a wholesaler, and serve photo and sign retailers, there is information about opening an account with Montana Moulding as well as a sign in page for current customers. When signed in, customers can view a list of their purchase history and reorder products they commonly need to restock. There is also a quick order option, where items can be added from a search field located by item number, and a site-wide product search. All of these features allow a customer to very conveniently find and purchase items so that they can restock their inventory with ease. We had a great time working on this project and hope that this new website will serve Montana Moulding for years to come.

Jan20181

Change Your Browser…Change your Perspective

by Mira Brody in Design, Development, Optimization, Tools & Tips, UX

Better serve your visitors by building with all browsers in mind.


As web developers, we try and sympathize with our users by creating a consistent experience, including those on different browsers than we use ourselves. Our team does a browser-swapping exercise that is eye opening as well as challenging for us. Despite our personal browser preferences, we each take a browser for three weeks and then rotate — this ensures we’re all sharing the experience of living in that browser.

What We Learned
Carrying out our daily tasks in an environment we are not used to allows us understand the experience of these users and how they view our products. We catch quirks and bugs that we would otherwise be blind to, for example, page scrolling behavior, layout issues that need to be addressed, animations and other subtle things that are processed differently. Although some may seem minor, it is this level of detail which sets a professionally-developed website apart from the rest.

Conclusion
As much as we’d like to, we can’t guarantee which devices, platforms or browsers will be used to access our websites. Swapping browsers — not only while testing the sites we build, but exclusively for three weeks — allows us to further the polish we build into our sites. It forces us to experience the same performance variations our users do and removes us from the sort of development bubble that causes some to make assumptions about user experience. We encourage everyone who develops, designs or test websites to practice this exercise as well — you may just discover your new favorite browser!
Dec201729

Reflecting on Our 20th Year

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development, Industry News

Some highlights from 2017.

Whether you measure it by the gray hairs on our developers, or how many attempts before our office cat can jump safely onto the couch, JTech is old as dirt — at least as far as the internet is concerned. Since opening our doors in 1997, we’ve grown into a talented team of ten. We’ve been around this long because we reject complacency. We’ve always been innovators in our industry — relentlessly iterating better solutions to the problems we're solving for our clients.

As the sun sets on our 20th year, we’d like to reflect on what we’ve accomplished and where we’d like to be in the coming years.

1. Launched Bozeman Websites

We launched a new, affordable product line that has been a huge success. Not only are these sites custom designed, but they leverage the speed and power of our proprietary development framework, and pairs perfectly with all of the other services JTech offers. With their budget-friendly pricing and timely turnaround, Bozeman Websites has allowed many new businesses in our community to set the foundation on which to grow online as their business does.

2. Domain Management in My JTech

Adding domain management was an exciting addition to My JTech. This feature allows you to manage all of your business domains in the same place you manage the rest of your site. In the domain management area, you can check the availability of a domain, purchase it, transfer one from your old host to JTech, edit the domain’s registrar information and set up auto renewal of your domain so you can ensure nothing will expire by surprise.

3. Added Features to My JTech

My JTech, our content management system, got a lot of attention this year! Here are a few more features we added for your convenience.

File linking — In any large text field, you can now select text and then add a link to an image or file. For example, if you are a gym and want to link to your new class schedule in a blog post, simply highlight the text you want as the link, select the “link to file” tool, and drag and drop the schedule into the test field as instructed.

Inline Image Editor — We’ve given you more control over where you can place images in your body text with an inline image editor. After uploading your image of choice, use the controls to align the image to the center, left or right of the text. With this new editor, you can also crop, flip, delete, download or replace the selected image.

Support Articles — We overhauled our support section of My JTech to provide answers for users. Under the “Support” navigation, you’ll find sections for Basics of Website Management, Editing a Page or Record, Using the Mass Mailing System, and Domain Management. If you ever find ourself in need of some direction, these resources are always available for you to learn more about how to use My JTech to manage your business operations.

4. Added Photography Services

This year we doubled down on our content services and brushed the cobwebs off our camera lenses to do some on-location photoshoots for our clients.

We did a photoshoot for client Story Distributing out at their Casey’s Corner location in Big Sky, MT as well as new headshots for staff members! We also did a photoshoot for the grand opening of Price Rite Drug’s impressive new pharmacy space last spring.

We had a great time coordinating these photoshoots and are sure these will be the first of many!

5. Notable Business Partnerships

Our team had the honor of working with a lot of wonderful businesses this year, and we would like to highlight a few in particular.

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport — What a huge project and a big year for our local airport. Not only did they cut the ribbon to the first new runway in Montana in over 30 years, but a new website as well! We had a great time collaborating with airport staff and the end result is not only beautifully representative of their location, but automates administrative tasks that were once tedious to do by hand. To learn more about the many advanced features of this website, read more here.

Mountain Journal — This magazine is quickly growing in readership and is host to a group of talented writers, covering issues in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We built this nonprofit publisher an affordable and flexible custom website on which to publish their articles and images.

Goin Mobyle — This travel blog is home to the musings of Louise Engelstad and Brian Brandt as they traverse the country with their cat, Sassy. You can follow their journeys through vibrant photography, writing and an interactive route map.

MSU Interns — We’ve had the pleasure of continuing our partnership with the Montana State University Marketing Department. Special shoutout to this year’s interns, Michael Kriegel and Nick Jensen. It is always exciting to get students in the office as it not only adds depth to their college experience but it also provides us with a fresh set of eyes, new skill and enthusiasm that helps us help online businesses thrive.

Looking ahead.

As with any business, JTech is constantly under transformation as we work to improve our process, the websites we produce, and ourselves as team members. In addition to new features in store for My JTech, we’ve been refining our design process to add more depth and detail as we prepare projects for development to produce a more perfect end-product.

As we look back on the last year, we find ourselves thankful for all of the challenging and fun projects that have walked through our doors. Our clients are truly what makes our work so enjoyable, so we thank you for that, and hope to continue working with you for another 20 years!
Dec201726

Is Your Business Pinned Correctly?

by Mira Brody in Google, Industry News, Optimization, Social Media, Tools & Tips

Google Maps distinguishes business types by color and icon.


Over one billion people are actively using Google Maps to locate local businesses and services in their area. This means the accuracy of your appearance in Google Maps is important for any business who wishes to be located by potential customers. Take a look at the map application’s latest changes that will help you with this visibility.

Points of Interest — Google is now highlighting certain points of interest based on your selected mode of transportation. If you are traveling by car, for example, Google will highlight gas stations, whereas if you’ve chosen public transportation, the map will highlight the closest bus stops.

Colors & Icons — Google Map “pins” are now color-coded and display specific icons based on the industry type. We’ve provided Google’s handy key below:

Icons are an important part of a website or web app’s interface, especially one such as Google Maps where most users are looking to make quick decisions. This update is a great reminder for you to check your business listing with Google My Business and ensure all of your information is up-to-date and accurate. If you do not yet have a Google My Business account, we strongly recommend you creating one, as this is the information Google pulls for use in Google Maps.