Whirl Sites Blog

At Whirl Sites we’re passionate about the web, and our blog is a place where we share resources, tips, and interesting links that we think are of value to our existing customers and to everyone else who loves web development as much as we do.

The Difference Between Mobile and Mobile Responsive Websites

mobile responsive websites“Mobile websites” and “mobile responsive websites” are the same, right? Wrong.  While there are some similarities between these, they are not the same.  Understanding the difference can help you make wise decisions about your website.

Mobile Websites

The world is definitely becoming more mobile all the time.  Mobile devices are growing in popularity and use.  Searches on mobile devices are on the rise.  Furthermore, the predictable future seems to be continuing in that direction.  For this reason, many businesses clearly recognize their need for a mobile option.  A mobile website is a completely separate website that operates in parallel to a traditional desktop version.  It is designed to look good and work well on a mobile device.  Businesses almost always maintain a traditional website for desktop users in addition to the mobile website.

Mobile Responsive Websites

Another alternative that businesses can choose is a mobile responsive website.  It sounds the same, but has some significant differences.  A mobile website is designed specifically to render well on a mobile device.  On the other hand, a mobile responsive website is designed to adjust itself to whatever device opens it.  While a mobile website works in tandem with a traditional website, a mobile responsive website is a single website that serves both mobile and desktop users.

Reasons to Choose a Mobile Website

With the huge market of searchers and buyers who are using mobile devices, mobile friendly sites are a virtual necessity.  In general, mobile websites are a less expensive and easier to design option.  Mobile responsive coding is typically more complicated in order to enable the website to adjust to different screen sizes.  It is not an easy undertaking and some businesses choose to maintain two websites in order to avoid the cost and complexity of a mobile responsive website.

Reasons to Choose a Mobile Responsive Website

Mobile responsive websites may be more difficult in the short term.  However, in the long term, they are often the best option.  First of all, a single website is simpler to maintain and update.  When you have two websites, the work is doubled.  Additionally, having two websites means that you have two domains and two URLs.  This can have a negative effect on organic search results for the two sites as well as links from other sources.  Because these websites are treated as distinct, your SEO and link-building efforts may be diluted or require duplication.

All Whirl Sites are mobile responsive websites.  These may not be right for everyone in every situation, but we believe that they are often the best choice.  If you are looking for a painless, affordable way to launch a website for your small business or organization, Whirl Sites might be the answer you’re seeking.  We offer businesses and nonprofits in the Indianapolis metro area, including Zionsville, Westfield, and Avon, (or anywhere with an internet connection) the opportunity to get their message out on an attractive, functioning website.  Call us at 317-892-9435, and we will have your Whirl Site ready to go in a matter of days.

The Simplicity of Whirl Sites, Easy to Use Websites

easy to use websitesFew things are as simple as we’d like them to be.  One small change can too often trigger an avalanche of complications.  Take, for example, a straightforward change to your service offerings or an addition to your product line.  This can have effects throughout your business.  Changes, even relatively small ones, can also necessitate changes to your website.  You don’t want customers or prospects dealing with old information so you need to make any required changes quickly.  Fortunately, Whirl Sites are easy to use websites, which make updates simple.

Quickly Add or Update Text, Pictures, and Even Video

Whether you need to change a word or totally overhaul your content, making changes and additions to your Whirl Site is easy.  All our Whirl Sites are built on the WordPress platform, which is popular for many reasons including its ease of use.  After logging into the editor, you can type your content or paste it in from another source.  You can also swap out pictures or change the size or other attributes of images as needed.  You can even upload videos to your Whirl Site.

Make Updates Yourself Without Special Programs or Knowledge

Having to depend on someone else to perform a task automatically makes that task more complicated.  With Whirl Sites, you don’t have to wait until an IT expert is available to make updates.  You can do it yourself.  Think you don’t have the skills to do it?  That’s nonsense!  If you know how to use Microsoft Word, you can update your Whirl Sites pages.  No coding knowledge or technical experience is required.  And you don’t need to have any special software either.  Everything you need is right there on your site.

Refresh Your Memory Any Time

As simple as the process is, it may not be easily retrievable from your memory.  We get it – you have a lot on your mind!  That’s why we created a series of voice-over webcast tutorials to show you step-by-step how to get it done.  We give you tips on what to do and even what to avoid.  These videos are available for your viewing at any time.  Our videos can also be passed on to others in your business who might work on your website.  The WordPress training videos that we provide eliminate the need for you to explain the process to others you delegate to do work on your site.

As a small business owner, you make the tough decisions.  You deal with the everyday irritation.  You solve the intractable problems.  There are enough difficulties that cannot be avoided so when you find a simple option, you jump on it.  Whirl Sites are easy to use websites that help you get your message out.  Business and organizations in the greater Indianapolis are already benefitting from Whirl Sites.  We’re providing simple, affordable website solutions for businesses and organizations in Avon, Brownsburg, and Fishers.  Keep it simple and give us a Whirl!  We can get your website up in a few days with little effort on your part.  Call today (317-892-9435) or visit us online.

Using Video on Your Website

videoIf a picture is worth a thousand words, then what is a video worth? Obviously much more than even a picture.  They are able to show movement, action, and change in a way that text and still pictures cannot.  When added to your website, video can quickly bring a new depth and breadth to your communication and customer interaction in these ways.

Make it Personal

With videos, you are better able to share your story and yourself.  Much human communication is nonverbal, and text and even pictures lose that whole aspect.  Videos allow you to introduce yourself is a memorable way to customers and potential customers.  This is especially important in a service-oriented business.  It is also important in cases where trust is a major factor in buying decisions.

Connect with Visitors

Similarly, video gives you a platform to connect with visitors to your site.  Viewers will feel more personally connected to what they have seen.  This may make them feel more comfortable calling to ask a question.  It can also give them a sense of confidence in your business or organization.

Show Off Your Products or Services

Sometimes it is hard to describe in words how your product works or exactly what your service includes.  A video gives you the opportunity to show instead of tell.  Give prospects a glimpse at how easy it is to use.  Demonstrate the quality of your product by giving them a peak at the internal components.  Show them in real life how well the product works.  You can also include important information for current customers, such as how to assemble your product or perform routine maintenance.

Improve Your Search Rankings

Just as important as what you see is what you don’t see.  Behind the scenes, your website is being evaluated and ranked by search engines.  There are many things that you can do to improve those rankings, and video is just one.  Search engines view video favorably so the addition of a video to your site may get you pushed closer to the top of the page.

Keep Them Coming Back

When you have interesting content that grabs the attention of viewers and communicates relevant information, people will come back to your website.  In general, videos definitely get and keep the attention of visitors.  Videos that are clear and informative will make an impact.  If you are able to keep adding more videos, visitors will return to see what is new.  Increased traffic is always good for sales.

Whirl Sites websites allow you to add all kinds of content, even video, with ease.  We are helping small businesses and organizations in the greater Indianapolis area (and beyond) establish a more visible online presence with our well-designed and well-functioning websites.  Our streamlined process makes our websites simple and affordable for our customers, and we can have them ready to go in a few days. Whether your business is located in Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, or across the country, you would love to help you take your business to the next level with a quality website at a reasonable price. Call us at 317-892-9435 or visit our website to learn more.

Five Things You Can Accomplish with a Blog

blog

Blogs are a big marketing trend right now, but they are more than just a fad.  They really can help you reach some of your most important marketing objectives.  Here are just 5 things that you can accomplish with a blog.

Communicate Helpful Information.

In you’re like most small business owners, you have a lot you’d like to say.  You have a brain full of accumulated information that you’d love to share with your customers and prospects.  Information about your company, your product, your industry.  Blogging is a great way to share this information in a friendly way.

Connect with Customers and Prospects.

One strength of a blog is that it gives you the ability to give customers and prospects information they want and need.  While you may know your industry forward and backward, the general public doesn’t.  They are searching for background information and technical expertise as well as practical applications and tips to make them more knowledgeable consumers and users of your product.  With a blog you can communicate what you know with eager consumers.

Create Natural Sales Opportunities.

As you write about your industry, you will naturally be including facts about how your product fits into that industry.  Since you know your product really well, you have a great opportunity to share with your readers its best features and benefits.  Presenting your product or service within the context of the industry gives consumers the data they need to make an informed decision.  Hopefully, that informed decision will result in a sale.

Establish Yourself as an Industry Expert.

Today’s consumer wants to know more and more.  They want to know more about how things work, why things work the way they do, how to compare competing products, how to best use products, and just industry-related practical advice.  Since you live every day in your industry, you are an expert.  You know the things others want to know.  If you are willing to share that knowledge in a blog, consumers will look to you as an expert…because you are!

Boost Your SEO.

In addition to the natural advantages provided by blogs, there is also a less obvious benefit.  Behind the scenes, your online content is influencing your SEO rankings.  As you add more content to your website, your SEO will improve.  If you are adding relevant content regularly by posting blogs consistently, your SEO ranking will continue to advance.  This means that you will be more likely to be found in online searches.

Of course, before you can blog, you need a website with blogging capabilities.  All Whirl Sites websites include a blog so you can start writing and promoting yourself as soon as we get your site up and running.  Since our websites are built on the WordPress platform, blogs (and all your website content) are easy to post.  You don’t need any coding knowledge to post blogs on our sites.  In fact, if you know how to use Word, our WordPress-based websites will be no problem.  Whirl Sites serves customers in central Indiana, including the communities of Carmel, Brownsburg, Fishers, and Indianapolis.  We help small businesses and organizations to make the most of their limited resources by providing affordable websites that work smoothly and look professional and appealing.  Give us a call at 317-892-9435 or visit our website to learn more.

Understanding What Drives Website Traffic

website trafficWhen you create or evaluate your website, it’s easy to make it all about you.  What you like, what you want to say, what looks good to you.  And that’s fine because, after all, your website is a reflection of you.  But how much thought have you given to your potential website traffic?  As you make decisions about your website, it is helpful to think about why prospects may visit your site and what they are looking for.  Here are four reasons people may be visiting your site.

Information About Your Company

Sometimes people find their way to your website through an online search.  These visitors may have never heard of you before.  Think of your website as a way to introduce yourself to these visitors online.  Others may have heard of your business, but they want to know more.  In both cases, you would do well to think about what kind of information about your company will be the most helpful.  You also want to be sure that the organization of your site makes sense.   Make it easy for visitors to find pertinent information.

Information About Your Products or Services

Other visitors may not be interested in your business as an entity.  They may only care about the products or services that you provide.  You want to be sure that you provide relevant information.  Anticipate the questions prospective customers may have and then answer them.  Let them know how your products or services are superior to those of your competitors.  Be sure to focus on benefits that will appeal to visitors personally rather than features that you, as an industry expert, are impressed with.

Ways to Contact Your Business

Another subset of visitors will be familiar with your business and product but are interested in contacting you.  They may be current customers who have questions about a recent purchase.  Others may be considering a purchase but need additional information.  For these visitors, you want to make sure that your contact information is correct, easy to find, and presented in way that makes contact simple.

Special Deals You May Be Offering

Finally, other visitors will be customers that know how great your business is.  They are simply looking for a good deal that they can take advantage of.  Having a special offer gives shoppers a nudge to actually pull the trigger.  Can you offer a cost-savings as an extra enticement to buy?  Do you have a special package deal that you could promote?

Knowing what visitors are looking for is a good first step, whether you are creating a brand new website or improving your current one.   With that insight, you can construct an effective website.  If you’re ready to get started, Whirl Sites can help.  Our professionally designed templates utilize intuitive visuals to direct visitors to key information.  We also work with you to develop a simple, straightforward navigation structure to make information easy to find.  If you need it, we can even help you develop engaging content.  Whirl Sites has worked with businesses and organizations throughout the greater Indianapolis area from Avon to Zionsville as well as across the Midwest.  Visit our website to peruse our classy designs or call us at 317-892-9435 to find out more.

Virtually Limitless Website Options

website optionsEach small business or organization has its own personality.  And this comes through in your website.  Or it should.  When you design your website, it is a reflection of you.  Or it should be.  Yet when the options you have to choose from are limited, you may not really be able to find a choice that correctly reflects who you are as a business.

This is why businesses often choose a custom website.  In this model, you make all the decisions.  You can have things just how you want them.  Best of all, someone will do it for you.  But you will pay for it.  Custom websites can be quite pricey, and the more complex your tastes are, the more you will pay.  Is there another way to get a website capable of expressing the essential character of your business without paying a premium for it?  Actually, there is.  Customizable websites provide options at a cost-conscious price.

Professionally Designed Templates

Customizable websites start with a template.  These templates are designed by professional web designers.  We know what works and what doesn’t.  We know what looks good and what doesn’t.  We’ve taken the knowledge we’ve gained from working on custom websites and put it to work in our templates.  This is our starting point.

Personalized Elements

But that is just where we start.  You shouldn’t think that since you start out with a template that every website built on that template looks the same.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  This is where you can let your style show.  You can determine basic structural elements such as the number of focus boxes used and the size of the slider.  You can decide which fonts and colors best convey your brand.  Finally, express the individual character of your business or organization by adding icons and photos of your choice.

Expert Guidance

So how many possible combinations of these customizable websites exist?  Well, for you math geeks out there, taking just a couple of the variables yields the following equation:

8 templates x 140 colors x 6 fonts x 140 font colors = 940,800 possibilities

And this only takes a few of the variables into account.  This doesn’t even address structural elements, which can change your website’s look, as well as your photo and icon picks.  With all the choices available, you may need some guidance.  “Which picture would look best here?”  “How many focus boxes do I need?”  “Which colors go best with the rest of my design?”  If you find yourself unsure of design choices, that’s okay.  That’s what we’re here for.  We will give you our expert opinion to make your website look great.

As you can see, customizable websites are a great way to go.  They offer you tried and true templates, lots of options, and help from professional designers.  Whether you are in Carmel, Brownsburg, Fishers, Indianapolis, or anywhere within reach of the internet, our customizable websites will help you get your message out.  If you are ready to try one for yourself, go ahead – give us a Whirl!  Call us at 317-892-9435 today to get started.

Facebook and Your Website Make a Great Marketing Team

Woman with laptop sit relaxed green grass

Chocolate cake is great – few people would argue with that.  Ice cream is a sweet treat – ask any kid on a summer day.  But together chocolate cake and ice cream are irresistible.  The combination of chocolately goodness and refreshing creaminess makes an unbeatable team.  Similarly (but with fewer calories), you can create a powerful marketing force by combining your Facebook page and website.

Using Facebook to Promote Your Website

Facebook is a smart way to promote your website and drive traffic to it.  Posting on Facebook gives you an opportunity to reach a broad audience.  You can take advantage of this reach by linking back to your blog or website.  Facebook also has the added benefit of enjoying preferred status on Google searches.  This means that your posts using strategic key words should show up closer to the top of the searches your potential customers are making.   With any luck (and interest-grabbing posts), those potential customers will then visit your website.

Using Your Website to Bolster Your Social Media Presence

But what if you don’t have a website?  There are some businesses who choose to operate without a website and count on a Facebook page alone to target customers.  However, choosing to limit your business in this way really puts you at a disadvantage.  Think about it – one avenue for getting found and reaching people is always inferior to two.  Additionally, when you only have a Facebook page and not a website, visitors will inevitably ask questions.  Is this a new business?  Is this business that small?  Is this business shady or unreliable?  These assumptions may be invalid but some prospects will still have them.  A website helps you to establish your credibility and give you a place to provide more detailed product information.

Maybe you are not getting the visits and leads you need from your Facebook page alone.  Or maybe you have a Facebook page and are getting some traction but would like to take your marketing to the next level.  Either way, Whirl Sites can provide you with a well-designed WordPress website that is customized to suit your tastes and your needs.  We’ll help you enhance your online presence whether you’re in local Brownsburg, Plainfield, and Zionsville or across the country.  Don’t miss out on the opportunities for using Facebook and a good website in tandem.  Get started now by calling us at 317-892-9435 or visiting us online.

Ongoing WordPress Managed Hosting Service

WordPress managed hosting serviceBuilding a website is a project and while you’re in the midst of the creation phase, it requires some thought and attention.  Even if you are hiring someone else to build your website, you still have decisions to make.  First, you have to decide who you will hire.  This initial decision alone takes a bit of research and decision-making.  Then you’ll have decisions about how you want your website to look, how many pages you’ll have, what content you want to include on it, and how you will want the information to be organized.  But like all projects, the creation phase of your website will end and you will stop making decisions about your website and start enjoying the fruits of what you’ve created.

The Value of WordPress Managed Hosting

At this time, you will not be thinking critically about your website and how it’s working.  In fact, you will rarely think about it at all…unless you have a problem.  That is why it is important that you consider the future while you are making choices now.  Choices you make early in the process can have consequences after your website is up and running.  One of these choices is in who will be managing your website after launch. Of the many benefits of a Whirl Sites website, one is our ongoing WordPress managed hosting service.  That string of words may not mean much to you, but it boils down to two valuable services: software updates and security.

Keeping Your Website Software Up-To-Date

Most people rarely think about the software upon which a website is built.  Invisible behind the interesting images and engaging text is the code that enables the website to run correctly.  When everything is running smoothly, there is no need to think about the software.  However, periodic maintenance is required to ensure that your site will continue running smoothly.  Whirl Sites’ hosting service will perform this maintenance and keep all software and plug-ins current.  Since this occurs behind the scenes, you can go on NOT thinking about your website and how well it is functioning!

Keeping Your Website Secure

Another concern that you may occasionally give thought to is your website’s security.  Every small business owner fears a website hack and the damage it can do.  But just worrying and hoping it won’t happen is not a very good strategy for protecting yourself.  Fortunately, as part of our hosting services, Whirl Sites is working to keep you protected.  For starters, we help you with smart password selection.  In addition to helping you be proactive against online attacks, we keep your security software up-to-date and monitor for attempted attacks.  Finally, if something does happen to breach your security, we take care of cleaning up the mess.  Again, we want you to be able to NOT think about your website and just go on enjoying it!

Do you have more questions about Whirl Sites and the ongoing WordPress managed hosting service we provide for all our websites?  We would love to discuss in more detail the comprehensive service that we provide.  We would love to talk to you about why it makes sense for small businesses who don’t have dedicated IT resources.  We would love to explain how we can make our websites and our hosting service so affordable.  Whirl Sites is based in Brownsburg, Indiana, but most of our business is done online or by phone so we are able to serve you wherever your business is located.  Whether you are in Carmel, Noblesville, Avon, Indianapolis, or Timbuktu, Whirl Sites is ready to partner with you.  Call today at 317-892-9435 to find out more or to get started.  Give us a Whirl!

Using a Landing Page to Accomplish Your Marketing Goals

landing pageHave you noticed that the world is full of chaos and noise?  Distraction is everywhere, and even important messages tend to get drown out by the clamor.  Connecting with prospects and customers requires businesses to think strategically.  Tools are available that can help you reach your customers, communicate with them, direct them, and gather information about them.  In fact, there is one that can help you with all these objectives. It’s called a landing page and here’s how you can use it for focused marketing efforts.

Focused Communication to Visitors

A landing page is a web page created around a specific offer or event.  You can funnel traffic to your landing page by presenting an attractive offer within a marketing campaign.  For example, you might offer free shipping or a free gift for visiting your landing page and following the directions. An effective landing page will clearly and concisely communicate what you want your visitors to do. For example, you might ask visitors to give you their email address or mailing address in order to receive what you’ve offered.  With a landing page that is well-thought-out, prospects get just the information that they need – nothing more and nothing less.  Presenting an easy-to-understand message, a clear offer, and simple instructions will increase the chances for success.

Valuable Information from Visitors

A landing page is an effective tool not only to communicate to customers but also to gather information from customers.  If your offer is valuable to visitors, they will willingly give you the information you are seeking in exchange.  This is a great way to capture data about interested customers, which is very valuable.  It gives you an opportunity to follow up further with people who are more likely to actually purchase your product or service.  In an environment filled with both relevant data and meaningless noise, a landing page connects you with quality customer data and creates sales opportunities with a higher likelihood of success.

So maybe a landing page is a great marketing tactic, but it must be difficult to put into place, right?  Well, no, actually they are usually fairly easy to create.  This is especially true if your website is built on the WordPress platform.  You can add or change pages, including landing pages, with ease and as often as needed.

We build our Whirl Sites websites on WordPress and thus provide you with the perfect backdrop for creating your own landing pages.  Landing pages can also be set up on a separate domain that then links to the main domain. So no matter what kind of existing website you have, we can build you a separate landing page linking back to your website.  Whirl Sites has experience providing customizable websites and landing pages to customers in the Indianapolis area as well as around the country.  Call us today at 317-892-9435 to get started!

Boost Your Visibility with Google My Business

Google My BusinessDo you ever feel like your business is invisible online?  Like you’re there at the party, so to speak, but no one is talking to you?  Well, maybe it’s all in your head.  But maybe there just might be something to your negative intuitions.  Maybe your business is not enjoying the online interaction that you would expect because you haven’t done all you can to make sure that you are “visible.”  The good news is that with Google My Business this is an easy problem to fix.

What Google My Business Can Do for You

If you have not yet registered your business with Google My Business (formerly Google Places), you could be putting your business at a disadvantage.  That’s because if Google does not recognize that your business exists, it will not appear on maps that are generated when potential customers do a search for businesses of your type in the area.  For example, let’s say you are a mechanic in Indianapolis, Indiana, who has not registered your business. Someone who lives just down the street could search for “car repair” and your shop would not show up on the map of nearby businesses, ever if you are the closest mechanic to the searcher. This means that your business is missing out!

How to Sign Up

Registering your business does not cost you anything and it is easy to do.  Just go to www.google.com/placesforbusiness and following this simple process:

  1. Sign in to your Google account. (If you don’t have a Google email account, you’ll have to create one.)
  2. Fill out the registration form. (Be sure to answer questions accurately.  If something looks fishy, you may be flagged for review, which will delay activation of your listing.)
  3. When filling out the form, you will need to decide how you would like Google to verify the existence of your business. You can do this by phone or by mail.  When you receive your PIN from Google via the method you chose, you will also receive instructions to complete the registration.
  4. Once registration is complete, Google will activate your listing, usually within 12 hours.

It’s that simple.  With an active listing, your business will be included on maps of your surrounding area.  Additionally, your business will also be displayed closer to the top of search results, even if you don’t have a website.  Furthermore, your customers will be able to write a review of your business on Google+.  This really is worth the few minutes of time that it takes to complete the process.  It is just one easy step that can help your business become more visible online.

Another is having a search-friendly website, like a Whirl Sites website.  Whirl Sites, located in Brownsburg, Indiana, offers a simple, inexpensive solution to your website needs.  If you’re ready to take that step, give us a call at 317-892-9435 to find out how easy our process is.

Four Common Sources of Website User Frustration

website user frustrationWebsites are an ideal platform that many small businesses rely on to accomplish their marketing goals.  Businesses can use their websites to market to prospects, disseminate information, communicate special offers, and provide customer service.  No website is designed with the goal of irritating visitors.  Yet sometimes businesses launch websites that do just that.  Instead of serving the needs of prospective and current customer, they end up generating user frustration. Instead of building their brand, they just create a negative opinion of the business.  Here are four sources of frustration for website users.  You’ll want to be sure to avoid all four!

  1. Slow Loading or Moving.

    Websites that are slow to load or slow to move have a huge problem.  Patience is not a virtue in our society, and this is especially true online.  The truth is that if your website takes too long to load or to move to another page, users will not wait.  How long is too long?  While studies have been done to narrow down the threshold, in the end that doesn’t really matter.  The bottom line is that each visitor has a personal threshold – a length of time that is too long to wait.  And a faster website always has an advantage over a slower website.

  2. Media Overload.

    While it is frustrating to wait for information, it is also frustrating to be immediately bombarded by quickly moving images and loud audio.  Images, audio, and video can be powerful tools to capture viewers’ attention. However, too much can cause the user to shut down mentally.  Remember that users often come to websites with a question to be answered.  When the website hijacks the user’s experience and prevents the user from finding the answers sought, the user may leave that website and seek information elsewhere.  An additional ironic negative of media overload is that these features often have such large embedded files that they actually can use websites to load or move slowly too!

  3. Confusing Navigation.

    By and large, people are lazy, and I don’t mean this is a bad way.  It’s just that we want things to be as easy as possible.  Websites with an easy-to-follow, intuitive navigation make it easy for user.  In contrast, a confusing navigation requires users to work hard to get the information they are seeking.  In most cases, visitors will just give up and go to another website – maybe even the website of one of your competitors.

  4. Unclear or Inadequate Content.

    The look and design of your website goes a long way to capturing the attention of visitors and conveying a positive initial reaction.  However, users are not there to see your cool design. They are there to get the information they need.  So if you want to avoid annoying visitors, you need to make sure that you are providing information that is clear, correct, well-organized, and of an appropriate length.  If visitors to your website cannot understand what you are trying to say or find the content to be too short or superficial, they will go to another source.

The common thread here is that each of these frustrations has the same result – users will often give up on your website and go elsewhere.  If that is happening often, then you might as well not even have a website.  I know that is harsh, but it’s true!  So take heed to these warnings.  At Whirl Sites, we are focused on creating websites that work well and appeal to, rather than frustrate, users.  We utilize innovative technology and simple coding to ensure that our sites are quick to load. Our clean designs and intuitive navigation make it easy for users.  We can even help you upgrade your content.  Give us a call to find out how we can give you a great website that visitors will find straight-forward and beneficial instead of frustrating and unhelpful.

Website Advantages: Six Reasons Why Every Business Needs a Website

advantages of having a websiteLife happens online these days.  It’s where we work, where we shop, even where we connect with others.  Yet some small business owners still wonder if they really need a website.  This question hardly deserves an answer, but I’m going to answer it anyway.  In short, YES – you do need a website!  Need to be convinced? Keep reading for our explanation of 6 website advantages.

A Website Establishes You as a Professional.

While in the past, a website may have been an “extra” that set you apart from your competition, those days are over.  Now it is just expected that any reputable business will have a website.  Without a website, businesses can seem small, unprofessional, or unprepared to prospective customers.  A website lends credibility to a business and conveys the idea of stability, history, and competence.

A Website Creates Opportunities to Introduce Yourself.

What is an introduction worth to you?  Wouldn’t you love the opportunity to sit down with someone who is interested in buying your product and telling them all about why it is a superior option compared to your competitors?  Think of your website as a means to do just that.  Buyers who are considering a purchase can access all the information about your product that you choose to put on your website.

A Website Gives You a Chance to Show What You Can Do.

Even beyond the information you share about your company and your product, a website is also an opportunity to actually demonstrate your product with more expanded detail.  This can be done through pictures, detailed diagrams, case studies, and testimonials from satisfied customers.  In this way, a website might actually provide you with the ability to give more detailed data and specific examples than you would be able to communicate in an in-person meeting.

A Website Expands Your Ability to Make a Sale.

The effectiveness of a website to communicate with prospective customers is accentuated by its availability at all times and in all locations.  Whereas a sales employee can only be in one place at one time, your website is there whenever a would-be buyer has an impulse to buy or a question to be answered.  Additionally, your website makes you accessible to anyone around the globe.  Your reach is virtually unlimited in terms of time and place.

A Website Provides Tools for Cost-Effective Marketing.

Every marketing tactic has a cost associated with it and that cost must be weighed against the potential reach of your tactic.   When you send out a mailing, your potential audience is the mailing list.  When you place an advertisement in a magazine, your potential audience is the list of subscribers to the magazine.  When you have a website, your potential audience is anyone with an internet connection.  Since the cost to set up a website is relatively low and there is not much ongoing expense, a website is a highly cost-effective strategy.

A Website Helps You Serve and Stay Connected to Your Customers.

A website is not only beneficial in reaching prospective customers and making individual sales, but it also helps you to serve the customers you already have.  You can strengthen customer loyalty and satisfaction by providing relevant information that your customers need or want through blogging or other features on your website.  This will also keep you at the forefront of your customers’ minds.

If you still don’t have a website but realize that you really do need one, it’s time to talk with the professional designers at Whirl Sites.  We understand that this is both a necessary investment and a fantastic opportunity.  By providing you with a website that looks great and functions smoothly, we will help you maximize the benefits of a website.  Visit our website to learn more about us.

Getting Started on SEO: Questions to Consider

SEO We all know that SEO (short for Search Engine Optimization) is an important element of marketing a small business.  Being easily found online is a first step in promoting your goods and services on the web.  That’s a simple, easy-to-understand truth.  However, understanding what SEO does and why it is important is not the same as actually taking steps to improve your search ranking and exploit it to generate leads and grow your business.  Now this topic could fill a shelf full of books, and this blog cannot begin to scratch the surface.  But what I will do here is to share a cluster of questions to consider as you begin to think about SEO and the role that it plays in your business.

Who Are Your Potential Customers?

SEO is all about being found by the people that you want to find you.  In order to connect with these people, you need to know who they are and what they want.  While this basic question does not directly impact your rank, you cannot proceed with an effective SEO strategy until you have an answer to it.  Find out who your target demographic is and then find out as much about them as you can.

What Content is Valuable to Your Potential Customers?

Once you have identified your target market, you can start thinking about what content will appeal to them.  What do they need to know?  What are they interested in?  What do they value?  As you consider questions like this pertaining to your potential customers, you can build a list of topics, information, and keywords.  You can use these to start producing quality content that adds value and attracts interests.  Relevant content will not only contain searchable terms, but will also draw the attention of readers.  Both of these occurrences will increase your SEO.

Where Might Your Content Be Shared?

When content is valuable, readers will not only visit your site and read your content, but they will also share your content.  Since links from outside websites back to your site demonstrate the usefulness of your content, they can significantly increase your SEO.  As you set out to write your content, you should be thinking about how you can garner attention and increase the likelihood of earning a link.  Here the key is that the content is high quality.  Writing that is sloppy, unclear, or shallow will not draw the attention of readers, and they definitely will not be willing to share your content with others.

When Should Content Be Added? 

Just as important as the ‘what’ is the ‘when’.  Improving your search ranking is a cumulative process that depends on your continual effort.  Content doesn’t stay fresh for long so additions need to be made on a consistent and frequent basis.  For many businesses, this task is easily accomplished through a blog that they are able to post to regularly.

How Well Does Your Website Function?

While much of the rest of this post has focused on content, there is another huge factor that influences how you rank.  That factor is the functionality of your website.  Has it been built on a solid platform?  Is its code simple and precise?  Do its internal links function correctly?  When a website is solidly built, rather than patched together, it is viewed more favorably in terms of SEO.

At Whirl Sites, we understand the importance of SEO and the opportunity we have to be a partner with you in creating a website that has the potential for increased SEO.  We start out by offering you a solid website that is built on WordPress.  WordPress websites typically are viewed favorably by search engines because the code they use is clean and straightforward. They also have some standard features which make it easier for you to better your SEO.  As a content management system, WordPress makes it simple for you to keep your content updated and fresh.  Furthermore, all our website come complete with a blog that you can use to consistently post information that customers will find interesting and valuable.  With a Whirl Sites website, you will be ready to grow your online presence and improve your SEO rankings.  Call us at 317-892-9435 with your questions or to get started on a site.

Is a WordPress Website Right for You?

WordPress websitesIt is no accident that Whirl Sites websites are all built using the WordPress platform.  When we began designing the templates that our customizable websites are based on, we chose to use WordPress as the content management system for our sites.  We believe that WordPress is the perfect platform for nearly every website.  But nothing works 100% of the time, right?  Well, actually there are some types of people for whom a WordPress site is not a good fit.  Check out the top 4 below.

  1. People Who Prefer ‘Complicated and Time-Consuming’ over ‘Simple and Easy’. There are a few strange people who like things to be difficult, but most of us like to keep it simple and easy.  That is exactly what WordPress does.  You can add or change content to your website by simply typing it in.  No knowledge of coding is needed.  If you can use Word, then you should be able to use WordPress.
  2. People Who Like Being Out of Control and at the Mercy of Others. Even if you are not a control freak, I doubt that you really want to relinquish control of any part of your business, including your website.  When you have a website that is built on WordPress, you don’t have to.  Since no technical knowledge is required to modify your content, you never have to wait on an outside vendor who is far less motivated to keep your website up-to-date than you are.  You can be in full control of your website and not dependent on others.
  3. People Whose Goal is Limited Choices and Diminished Growth. WordPress is extremely popular, especially for websites that include blogging, and is used by millions of people worldwide.   Thus, an enormous number of plug-ins have been developed and are available to add on to a WordPress site.  These plug-ins put a wide variety of functionality at your fingertips.  Want to monitor your traffic? No problem.  Want to boost SEO? Sure thing. With each additional feature comes an additional opportunity to grow your business.
  4. People Who Want to Keep Their Online Presence as Small as Possible. Nearly every business today is looking for ways to increase search rankings.  Just having a site that is built on WordPress gives you an advantage in this area.  Because WordPress code is so clean, search engines look upon their sites favorably.  This advantage can be increased even more when the blogging feature is utilized.

If you do not fall into any of the 4 categories above (and let’s face it, who does?), then a WordPress website is probably ideal for you.  Whirl Sites gives you a simple and cost-efficient way to get a WordPress website working for you.  Visit our website or give us a call (317-892-9435) to learn more about how easy it is to get started.

Whirl Sites: A Website Option You May Not Know About

250The explosion of online resources has definitely changed the landscape for business owners.  Entrepreneurs who wanted to start a business have always had a lot to consider, but it used to be things like the physical location of the business and how to transport goods to customers.  Now in additional to more traditional concerns, businesses must also consider things like online presence.

In today’s business atmosphere, a website has become a necessity.  Without it, not only do businesses miss out on opportunities but they may also appear incompetent, unstable, or behind-the-times.  But while every business may need a website, they don’t all need the same kind of website.  The needs of a large company often require a custom website with more advanced features.  Large companies also usually have the resources needed to develop a custom site.

But if you own a small to mid-size business or administrate a not-for-profit or other organization, the choice is not always so simple.  You don’t need an elaborate website, and you can’t afford one either.  Are DIY sites the answer?  Or maybe hiring your neighbor’s teenage son to build one for you?  Realistically, with these alternatives, you are more likely to just get frustrated than to get a quality website.  Whirl Sites gives customers another website option, one that addresses the shortcomings of other choices and provides a website that is professional and functional without spending a lot of money.

A Whirl Sites website is a customizable website which is created by professional designers.  While a custom site requires an original design and decisions at every level, a Whirl Site is built upon a foundation of our own professionally designed templates, which can be customized to give each site its own unique look.  There are a couple of advantages to this approach.  First of all, since the templates have already been designed and tested, we know that it works.  There is no need to work out the bugs so we can get your site up and running right away.  Second, we don’t have to re-invent the wheel with each website or spend time creating a more complicated website than what your business requires.  We will give you a website that has all that you need but only what you need.  Finally, because of our streamlined process, our sites are more affordable than your typical custom site.

Do you know you need a website but aren’t sure where to get one that fits your needs?  All you need is a site that looks good, functions seamlessly, and doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.  Is that too much to ask?  At Whirl Sites, we don’t think so!  Visit our website or call us at 317-892-9435 to learn more about how to get started.

Don’t Get Hacked – Protect Your WordPress Website

Internet secure access concept backgroundThere is little that can evoke fear in the heart of a business owner like the thought of a hacked website.  Hackers can do immense damage to a website in a short amount of time, and once done, this damage is not easily fixed.  This is one area where an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.  At Whirl Sites, we understand just how serious the problems created by hackers can be.  We do not want our clients to have to fear a potential hack, and so we have built safeguards into our product.  Let me tell you more.

Create Strong Passwords.  One of the best ways to protect your website is to create strong passwords.  While the temptation is great to use your birthday, your child’s name, or even the ubiquitous ‘123456’, having easy-to-guess passwords is like putting out a welcome mat for hackers.  Whirl Sites will help you recognize bad passwords and replace them with strong ones that will keep your website safe and sound.

Keep Updates Current.  Another weakness that can be exploited by hackers is security software that has not been kept up to date.  It is so easy for this to happen.  You know how much you have to do, how long your to-do list is.  Installing updates on your website probably doesn’t even enter your mind as a good idea, let alone make it onto the long list of things you need to get done.  But just because you’re not thinking about it doesn’t mean it’s not important.  It actually is a very important part of protecting your website, and for that reason Whirl Sites doesn’t leave it up to you.  We take care of this vital task as part of your monthly maintenance.

Monitor Site Consistently.  It is clear that one reason hacking is so damaging is that often those being hacked are unaware that anything is happening until the damage is already done.  Whirl Sites provides protection to its sites by utilizing software that constantly monitors for suspicious activity and alerts Whirl Sites administrators to this activity.  We are then able to look into the situation and often to put a stop to it before any harm is done to the website, and more importantly to the reputation of the business or organization.

Deal with Assaults Immediately.  There is so much we can do to protect our Whirl Sites websites from hacking.  We understand the weaknesses that plague many websites and have processes in place to vigilantly guard against online attacks.  In fact, at the time of this posting, we have never had one of our websites successfully hacked.  However, we are not ignorant of the fact that all the good planning in the world will not prevent every attack.  If any of our sites would be hacked, we are prepared to apply all our resources and knowledge to getting things right as quickly as possible.  After all, it is our reputation that is on the line too, not just yours.

If you are interested in more information about Whirl Sites and the high-quality, affordable websites that we offer, visit our website.  You can also call us at 317-892-9435 with any questions you may have.

Cheap Standing Desk – DIY Solution For Work

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Do you consider yourself a “hard worker”?

Most of us are certainly not lazy, but the nature of the modern business world in America has most of us sitting all day long, a far cry from what our grandparents consider “hard work”.  For the first time in human history, mankind is sitting for more of life than moving, and its one major cause of our obesity health crisis.  Think about it, did most of your grandparents sit at work all day?
Most of us can’t get away from our desk jobs, but we can make a cheap standing desk to improve our health.

A Solution: Cheap Standing Desk (Stand-up Desk)

Like many of you, my work here at Whirl Sites has me sitting most of the day.  In fact, I get really sore FROM SITTING!  My lower back regularly spasms and forces me to stretch out regularly.

I have a friend who posted on Facebook about his new standing desk (stand-up desk).  This fancy desk has the ability to easily raise and lower to either sit or stand and work.  As I talked with him about it, he told me that he was also able to concentrate better on his feet, and he just felt better overall.  It really got me thinking about my own health, but then things got busy and I forgot about it.

Taking Action Myself: Productivity Boost!

One day I went to a Starbucks to check my email and work for a couple hours.  As is so often the case, there were no available tables.  I reluctantly setup my laptop on a high bar they had setup on a wall and sat in a very uncomfortable stool.  I chose to us it as a standing desk (stand-up desk) instead and noticed over the next couple hours that I was extra productive and able to keep my attention on my task better!  I went home that day and used a box made from lumber out of my garage to boost my desk up temporarily.

It’s been 3 weeks of standing to work and I am telling you, I feel better, I accomplish more, and I am never going back!

Still need convincing? Find out how sitting in your career causes early death in this post by Michael Hyatt.

A DIY Cheap Standing Desk

cheap_standing_deskAfter seeing how expensive standing desks can be, I decided to try to duplicate that Starbucks bar that I loved so much.  I am keeping my sitting desk, but adding this to my office to have another option. My cheap standing desk was just $25!

Parts Needed:

  1. Four IKEA Shelf Brackets (or any bracket)
  2. Flat Closet Door (I got mine for $5 from Habitat’s ReStore)
  3. Screws and anchors (hit studs if possible)

Tools Needed:

  1. Screwdriver
  2. Drill for pilot holes in wall and door

I honestly think we will be selling more websites and setting them up faster because of the desk / bar in this picture.  Hopefully, I’ll live a few more years because of it too!

Brad Murray
Owner, Whirl Sites
[email protected]

Low-cost Answer to “Mobilegeddon” – Google’s Mobile Requirement

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So you’ve heard that Google is changing their search requirements to heavily reward websites that are mobile responsive?  Many media outlets have labeled it “mobilegeddon” and promise doomsday results for small business who can’t afford this expensive solution, right?

Mobile Responsive doesn’t have to be expensive!

That’s right, it’s not just big business that can afford mobile responsive website design and avoid mobilegeddon.  Whirl Sites is one answer that gives small business owners an easy way to upgrade their website to a mobile responsive design.  Just $399 and your business can be on the same level as enterprize level organizations.  Don’t let this panic you, it takes us 2-4 days to get your website up and running typically.

What Does Mobile Responsive Mean?

Maybe we need to back up here and define terms.  All the fancy term “mobile responsive” means, is that we code your website to respond to the screen size it’s being used on.  Be that a phone, tablet, or huge monitor, it will look beautiful if it’s done right.  It also ensures that your text, photos, and navigation fit on the screen just right so that the user doesn’t have to zoom with their fingers on those smaller devices.  Google is doing this “mobilegeddon” because their users are mostly using tablets and phones, so it actually makes sense.

What Are You Waiting For? Don’t Get Hit By Mobilegeddon!

It’s not worth waiting to see how bad the damage will be for your business once Google gets things updated.  You don’t want to lose a single customer over this when it only costs you $399 to get it fixed.  Contact us today if you have questions, or just sign up here!

WAY BACK WEDNESDAY: Fox News

It’s really incredible to see the change in what roll the internet has taken in all of our lives in 2015.  We really do rely on the web in so many ways that we didn’t even in the 1990’s.

Where do you get most of your news now?  If you need to know something, really anything that is going on, you likely go to the internet either through your computer, phone browser, or an app of some kind.  Seldom would you run for a newspaper or magazine, right?

This week’s WAY BACK WEDNESDAY features one of the most well known news organizations on the planet, Fox News.  No matter what your opinion of the network, noone can deny it’s power and influence on our daily news cycle.

Can you image if Fox News only had 4 headlines on their website homepage today?  Seriously 1996, that’s all you had for us?  Wow, have things changed.

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Obviously, Fox News has moved forward on the web because consumers expect more from them.

Your customers expect more from you too.  Don’t you think it’s time to update your website to match expectations?  You can’t underestimate the power of your presence on the web.

For only $399, why not give us a Whirl?  Get a Whirl Site today!

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See Our Pricing

Contact our owner, Brad Murray, today and discuss your website needs!

Brad Murray: (317) 847-0290

WAY BACK WEDNESDAY: Apple

Apple_Whirl_SitesThere is nothing wrong with having a website that looks like the one Apple has here if it’s 1997, but unfornately for you, its not. In fact, this website was a pretty good one for 1997. The problem many businesses have is they still have a website from 5, 10, or even 15 years ago. Technology has changed, and the way people view the web has changed.

Mobile Responsive

Older websites didn’t have any way to take into account the incredible variety of screen sizes that we have to deal with today.  I am typing this on a monitor that is 1800 pixels wide, so we have to design our websites with those huge screens in mind.  Unfortunately, we also have design for someone, like my friend Dan, who still has their old iPhone 3GS from 2008.  The original iPhone was only 320 pixels wide!

We are able to account for both of these screen sizes with one set of code through something called mobile responsive design.  All elements on the site are sized based on either a percentage of the screen, or they change when the screen size crosses a threshhold.  For example, a banner image across the top might be set to have a width of 100%.  Then, as the screen size shrinks, it always fits from edge to edge.  When it comes to text size, we might set a heading font size to drop by half when a screen is below 680px in width.  It’s more complicated than that, but you get the picture.

Updated Design

Another important element to consider with the age of a site is design.  If you look at the Apple site from 1997, there are elements there that we simply don’t use anymore.  You don’t dress in bell bottoms anymore to go to a business meeting.  Your website shouldn’t look like its outdated either, noone will take you seriously.

Whirl Sites designs are all cutting edge technology.  And, once you are our client, you can be assured that your business can ALWAYS stay on the cutting edge.  We plan to release a new design every month as we keep our finger on the pulse of design trends.  If you see one of our new designs and want to switch, you can always do that!

Give us a Whirl!
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