Top 10 Free, MUST-HAVE WordPress Plugins (I’ve Used to Build Over 80 Websites)

I cannot stand plugin clutter.

There’s just no need for it. I’ve seen websites with over 60 plugins before and it nearly destroys my soul every single time. I’m in recovery and there’s no better way to recover than by writing an article to help people avoid this pit of despair that can lead to a slow, broken WordPress website.

The reality is that to make a great website you only need a maximum of 10, yes TEN, plugins on your WordPress website. 10 plugins to accomplish everything you want.

So in this article we will review, the top 10 essential plugins that you need for your WordPress website. I will explain, what they are, why you need them, and how to quickly get started with them the easy way.

And stay tuned to the end for a few bonus plugins and themes to really help you build a great site : )

So let’s dive right into it, shall we?

Let’s Explore the Top 10 (and ONLY 10) WordPress Plugins that You Need to Have On Your Website

So first, what exactly is a plugin?

Plugins are tools that you allow you to accomplish your website goals. Whatever custom functionality you think you need for your site, there’s a plugin for it. You need an event calendar on your site? Want you site to load faster? How about adding a Facebook commenting feature? Then there’s a plugin for that.

—Now that that’s settled, let’s move on.

I believe the top plugins should cover everything you need to build a full website from start to finish. What does that mean?

Building a full website means having a few key elements:

  • Speed – Caching abilities and fast loading images because loading times matter
  • Security – Keep visitor information and data safe from hackers while protecting yourself at the same time
  • Efficiency – Tools to build a complete website in the quickest way. We want a great builder and the best WordPress setup

All the plugins we discuss below will cover these key elements and then some. I’ve been using these for a long time and I find they are critical in the building process. Even better, using only a few plugins minimizes your risk of conflict and maximizes your ability to rely on your site to work the right way.

We aren’t just getting a few great plugins to add on to your site, we’re going to review the ONLY ones you’ll ever need on your site! Get these free plugins and you’ll have all the tools you need to create a great, lead-generating website!

1. Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights

What It Is

Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights is a traffic analytics plugin integrates with Google Analytics to help you monitor website traffic, goals, conversion rates, bounce rates and more. It takes the complexity of the actual Google Analytics dashboard and shows you just what you need within the WordPress Dashboard.

I’d never setup a website without it. For my clients and my own business, it’s so important to see who is coming to the site and can we service them any better to get them to become a customer. This plugin helps me and my team to come up with those answers.

Why You  Need It

Why is it #1 on the list?

Because website traffic and goals are the most important part of every website. Without this information how would you ever know who it coming to site? How would you know how well your website is performing? You wouldn’t! And that would defeat the purpose. I can’t recommend enough, getting Google Analytics setup for your website. It’s the next important step for website optimization.

How To Set It Up  Quickly

Here’s how you do the basic setup but please see my full guide to get into more detail here.

  1. Create your Google Analytics account at analytics.google.com
  2. Select Admin in the bottom of the left sidemenu
  3. Click “+Create Account”
  4. Fill in your business info
  5. Now with the GADP by MonsterInsights, you can continue through the setup to connect and choose the account you just setup
  6. Then that’s it! You’ll have you Analytics data showing up on your dashboard. If you don’t see it on your WordPress Dashboard. Simple scroll down the widget and click to drag it up to the top. 

 

2. Yoast SEO

What It Is

Yoast is an SEO plugin used to customize and optimize your content. It is the top SEO plugin next to All-in-One SEO and offers many great tools to optimize your website for search.

With Yoast SEO, you can do 5 important things:

  1. Customize your search appearance by editing the meta data for posts and pages
  2. Optimize readability of your posts and pages with simple tips and advice to follow to help you along
  3. Set your focus keyword to make sure you blog post contains the right content and amount of keywords
  4. Easily setup the basics that Google and social media platforms, need to understand what your website is about
  5. And a lot more with the Pro Version. Though I find the free version is all the average website needs

I use it to manage my search appearance and make sure my posts and pages are optimized for readability and keywords.

Why You  Need It

SEO traffic is the best traffic. It’s free, it’s effective, it’s POWERFUL. Getting your SEO together should be a priority from the get-go. I can’t recommend enough, taking the time to sit down and build a list of keywords you feel people would use to find your business and content. After that’s done, come up with some potential blog post ideas that you can write about related to your service or product.

I could go on and on and on because there is so much you can do in this arena to grow your audience, but I need to keep it simple….

SEO traffic can make your business and bring you a lot of traffic. There is a lot that be done to optimize your website for better rankings in the search engines. Yoast SEO simply makes this easier to do.

How To Set It Up  Quickly and Work With It

  1. Yoast makes it pretty simple with a full Setup Wizard to get the basics together
  2. As you  work with your posts and pages be sure to always scroll to the bottom and setup the Search Appearance, which means customizing your meta title and meta description and set your focus keyword to get relevant feedback on optimizing your post/page

That’s it!

 

3. Elementor

What It Is

Elementor is a WordPress page builder. It’s my favorite page builder as a matter of fact! I tried Divi, SiteOrigin, Visual Composer, and theme builders. None truly compare to Elementor in my experience (especially with the PRO version).

Elementor let’s you build your WordPress site visually. Literal drag-and-drop. You your page to be laid out a certain way? You can build it exactly how you want with Elementor. It comes with so many great elements in just the free version and I’ve found that it can do just about everything I want as someone that designs from scratch. It gives me the ability to create freely, knowing I can bring that visual to life.

Why You  Need It

I know the number one issue for individuals when creating their business website it the look of it. You’ll scroll through theme after theme, trying and testing so many, only to find neither one looks the way really want it too.

And I’m with you.

It’s those kind of limitations, I like to avoid.

You can build what you want. You can make it look the way you want it to and guess what? You don’t need a theme to do that and you don’t need to program to do that. All you need is Elementor and one special theme that I mention at the end of this article.

Trust me on this one ( ;

How To Set It Up  Quickly

  1. Search for Elementor and install and activate it on your site
  2. As an example, go to your Home Page under Pages and select Edit With Elementor to officially activate Elementor for that page
  3. You’ll now be in the builder. Here you can literally drag and drop Elements from the left sidebar wherever you need.
  4. When you’re done, click Update!
  5. Now click

I’m actually building a course at the moment where I go into much more detail on building your website from scratch using Elementor. In the course I also review design and how to create a good looking website without any design skill. I recommend checking it out and signing up for the early bird pricing. You can do that here.

 

4. TinyMCE

What It Is

TinyMCE has been around for a long time and for good reason. It provides options in the toolbar that aren’t there by default in WordPress. This plugin is so simply useful and now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever made a website without it.

It just makes things more efficient.

Underlining items and setting font sizes becomes much simpler tasks.

It’s easiest to show why. Below I took a snapshot of what the text editor is by default before TinyMCE has been activated and setup and then what it looks like after:

Before TinyMCE:

After TinyMCE:

You can see how many more text editing options are added once you get TinyMCE. They are al very helpful and even if you don’t think you need them now, you definitely will at some point when building your WordPress website.

Why You  Need It

Efficiency. Plain and simple. You won’t need to edit code to do a strike-through or underline (see that? took me 2 seconds!). You won’t need to figure out pt vs px when sizing fonts or struggle wondering if you can highlight text. TinyMCE has everything you need. You’ll save time and that’s a huge win.

How To Set It Up  Quickly

  1. Install and active TinyMCE. It’s always easy to find as it’s one of the top WordPress plugins
  2. Under Settings, you’ll find TinyMCE. This is where you can configure it.
  3. Select the Classic Editor tab
  4. Drag elements to the toolbar that you’ll use. I recommend adding Strikethrough, Underline, Background Color, Toolbar Toggle.
  5. Scroll down a bit and check Font sizes
  6. Finally, click Save Changes and you’re done!

 

5. WordFence

What It Is

You don’t want to skip this plugin.

Wordfence keeps your website secure. It includes an endpoint firewall, a malware scanner, with everything built to protect WordPress. But honestly, you don’t need to know what any of that means and there’s no need to go through all the details.

There’s only one thing you need to know.

It adds a serious layer of security to your website. I won’t say it completely keeps you protected because there are so many factors that contribute to keeping a website totally secure but Wordfence is a truly great start.

(I’ll detail another method below).

Why You  Need It

It will help you keep your website secure. I’ve seen too many websites get hacked due to poor security ad the website owners always suffer. Wordfence isn’t going to completely secure everything but it would’ve been enough for the cases that I’ve encountered.

To top it all off, Wordfence is a very passive plugin that won’t require much attention from you to keep you website secure. Just make sure you keep it up-to-date and you’re good!

How To Set It Up Quickly

  1. Install and activate the Wordfence plugin
  2. Enter your email to receive alerts about your website
  3. Opt out of upgrading to the Premium version. You can No thanks in the prompt to skip the license.
  4. Now go to Wordfence in the left sidemenu to edit the plugin settings. Since you just installed it Wordfence will take you through a short tutorial showing you around the place. I recommend going through all the steps to learn more about how to use it correctly
  5. That’s it!

 

6. Really Simple SSL

What It Is

Security has never been more important to consumers. Companies like Firefox and Chrome seem to understand this and take it seriously. You may have noticed the green lock in your website address bar when browsing online. You may have also noticed the warnings that Firefox and Chrome will give you if a site isn’t secure.

What you’re seeing is exactly what Really Simple SSL helps with!

Really Simple SSL is probably the simple and most effective plugin on this list. Once you purchase and install an SSL certificate on your website, it’s important to switch your site over to the secure version.

  • Unsecured sites start with http://
  • Secure websites will start with https://  (notice the ‘s’)

Installing an SSL certificate on your website doesn’t change the http:// to https:// by default, so you need to Really Simple SSL to handle this for you.

Why You  Need It

There are two reasons why you need Really Simple SSL.

First, data is encrypted. When someone submits info on your website you or your website visitors, it will be encrypted which means hackers can’t read it. This is a very good thing : )

Second, a secure website is a ranking factor for Google. This is most likely because people are quick to leave a website that isn’t secure.

Well, you tell me. Do you think people will stay on your site, submit their personal information if they see this….

No sir!

Really Simple SSL will hand the switch from http:// to https:// for you in one click.  It is not a SSL certificate but it will switch all your links after you install an SSL certificate.

How To Set It Up  Quickly

  1. Install and activate the plugin
  2. Now click “Go ahead, activate SSL!”
  3. Then you’re done! Told you it was easy!

 

8. EWWW Image Optimizer

What It Is

Optimize your images and you speed up your website! Loading speed is one of the top ways to get more people to stay on your website. You’ve probably heard many times that nowadays, a visitor won’t stay on your website if it doesn’t load in less than two seconds. It’s pretty true!

EWWW makes the process easy. You get thousands of free credits when you sign up which will be more than enough for building one website.

You’ll be able to bulk optimize images and reduce their file size dramatically to have them load much faster on your website. All that without losing the quality.

Why You  Need It

It’s easy to use and you’ll need an image optimizer. Our photos are such high quality now which means larger file size. To show beautiful imagery on your website, you’ll need those images to be smaller in size. This will ensure your site loads quickly and website speed is everything!

How To Set It Up Quickly and Use It

  1. Install and activate
  2. You’ll find the plugin settings under Settings in the left sidebar but you won’t need to edit these with the free version
  3. To optimize the images, select Bulk Optimize under Media to optimize all images
  4. Pro Tip: To optimize only select images go to Media > Library then click the list view (see screenshot).
  5. Now you’ll be able to optimize specific images or even restore some back to the original.
  6. That’s it!

 

8. W3 Total Cache

What It Is

Utilize a cache and speed up your website!

W3 Total Cache utilizes this and much more to improve the speed of your website and I highly recommend it or another cache tool. It enables website optimizing tools and effects and that you definitely wouldn’t want to do yourself all at the click of a button!

Here’s a great article on the top 8 wordpress caching plugins.

Why You  Need It

SEO couldn’t be mentioned more in this blog post. It is just that important. It can account for so much of your sales and business and can ultimately help you get exactly what you want from your website. Whether that be money, sales, exposure, a bigger audience, to reach more people, it can help you get there.

How does this play in?

W3 Total Cache speeds up your website. Speed is a huge ranking factor because Google is in the people business. Ranking is not about tricks and sneaky methods, it’s about people. If people don’t stay on your site to read your content, then you will not be shown. Make your website fast and secure, and you’re on your way to a website that can help you accomplish your goals.

Sounds good, huh?

How To Set It Up  Quickly

  1. Install and active W3 Total Cache
  2. You’ll find the settings for it under Performance in the left sidebar
  3. Select General Settings
  4. Enable Page Cache then Save All Settings
  5. Then you’re done!

 

9. Classic Editor

What It Is

Classic Editor was the default text editor used for posts and pages before Gutenburg which came with WordPress 5.0 on November 27, 2018. Let’s just say me and many many other WordPress users didn’t take to kindly to Gutenburg. Classic Editor quickly became the top WordPress plugin with millions of installs showing how useful it still is to WordPress users.

Without blocks and other clunky elements, it makes creating posts and page content a much quicker process and you know what that means? Efficiency!

Why You  Need It

Okay, okay, okay. I’ll set aside my bias for a second here. You don’t NEED this plugin. You can live with Gutenburg, just alright, especially if you’re new. It’s just…..it’s just hard for me personally *wipes tears* to use that over the Classic Editor. Objectively though, the Classic Editor is much more efficient than Gutenburg and that’s why I recommend it.

Also note, there are potential SEO benefits to using the Classic Editor because of the lack of blocks. Gutenburg creates more code that could effect speed and how easily Google can read and index your website. So do keep that in mind.

How To Set It Up Quickly

  1. Install and activate the plugin
  2. You’re done!

 

10. Disable Comments

What It Is

Disable Comments let’s you…………..disable comments!

WordPress sites unfortunately, get a lot of spam. A LOT. One way to stop this spam is to disable comments. The plugin allows you to disable comments on the entire site or only on certain types of post types like Media, Pages, or Posts.

Why You  Need It

I was asked by a nonprofit recently to help fix up their site, update it, and speed it up. Upon entering their WordPress site, I saw hundreds of thousands of spam posts and comments. I won’t go into the details of how they were hacked and what I did for that right now, but know that once that spam was removed, the website was notably faster. The database would hold all of the nonsense otherwise so let’s nip that issue in the bud right now and disable comments from the start.

If you would really like commenting. There are many other options like Disqus and Facebook that let you add commenting to your site without the spam that typically comes with it.

How To Set It Up  Quickly

  1. Install and activate the plugin
  2. Under settings, select Disable Comments
  3. Everywhere will be selected by default so all you need to do is click “Save Changes”
  4. That’s it!

 

How to Hire a Web Designer: 12 Mistakes NOT to Make!

Whether you’re starting up an online store or getting your brick and mortar business some online notoriety, a good website is everything in today’s digital age. But before you can show off a great website, you need to figure out how to hire a web designer who can build a website that meets your needs and represents your brand.

Web design services aren’t hard to come by. Good web design services are! If you’re not sure what you’re doing, you could end up paying big bucks for a lackluster website—or worse, hiring a web designer who can’t give you what you need. Avoiding these situations means paying close attention to the hiring process and vetting your choice in web designer carefully.

Below are 12 mistakes to avoid when you decide to hire a website designer. Stepping over these pitfalls will help you avoid a lot of headaches, and make sure you end up working with a designer who can deliver the stunning website you need to be successful.

1. Hiring solely based on price

How much should you pay for web design? There’s no good answer to this question. Every website is different and needs a different level of work. A simple restaurant website with a few pages and a hosted menu won’t take nearly as long to set up as an online store with thousands of products!

The real answer to the question of cost is to not hire based on dollar figures. Here’s an example. Say there are two designers vying for your website—one quotes you $200 and one quotes you $600. On the surface, the choice is clear. But the low-cost designer might not give you the same caliber website the higher-priced designer will. Things like clean site code, reliable hosting, wireframe options and more factor into the higher price, and they provide a lot of value that actually saves you money in the long run.

Price is important, but it shouldn’t be the only factor you look at when hiring a designer.

2. Only looking for a local firm

The internet has made the world smaller, and that’s great for finding a professional who can meet your needs. There might only be 3-4 web designers in Lancaster, OH, limiting your hiring options if you need a website created. However, you can just as easily hop online and choose from thousands in nearby Columbus, OH, where more professionals means more opportunities to find the perfect hire.

Don’t feel constrained to looking locally for a website designer. Bakersfield, CA; Billings, MT; Baton Rouge, LA; Boston, MA—it doesn’t matter where they’re located! What matters is their ability to provide you with the website you need, at a competitive price, with the support you need to successfully launch it. Pigeonholing yourself to your local area could mean settling for inferior talent, high prices or inflexible designers.

3. Hiring a ‘graphic’ designer

If you’re not digitally savvy, one of the biggest pitfalls to watch out for is one of nomenclature. A graphic designer isn’t the same thing as a website designer. Sure, a web designer is going to use graphics and layout techniques to make your website pop, but that doesn’t make any old graphic designer a web designer.

Web designers don’t just understand layout and design. What makes them valuable is their experience with coding—specifically HTML and CSS, among other languages like Java and Ruby. These are the building blocks of what people see when they interact with your website. Pretty pictures and vivid colors mean nothing without the coding to coordinate them online. This is why website designers trump graphic designers.

4. “Just make it look good”

Something every website designer absolutely hates hearing is “just make it look good.” This is usually in response to the question, “did you have any design ideas in mind?”

Web designers ask for your input for a reason! Saying “just make it look good” is the equivalent of telling your waiter “just bring me something tasty.” You need to have an opinion. Without any input, a designer has no idea where to start, and the web design process becomes a much more tedious one. You don’t need to know exactly what you want, but you need to provide some answers.

To remedy this, most designers and developers have a quick questionnaire you’ll need to fill out. Be as thorough as possible when answering questions and you’ll find that the website you get is as good (or better!) than the one you want.

5. Working with a middle-man

Today, there’s no shortage of freelance web design platforms out there, built to aggregate candidates and make them easier to browse. The problem is, many of these platforms act as a middle-man—meaning you need to contact the designer you want through the platform. In some cases, this is okay… but it’s important to be wary of the potential for pitfalls.

For example, some platforms may take a cut of the final transaction—either from you or the designer you choose. In other situations, these middle-man platforms make it harder to communicate with the professional you’ve hired. They might even mask the identity of the designer, so you have no real idea of who you’re doing business with.

It’s always best to deal directly with the web designer you’ve hired. Not only does it offer easier communication, it’s also good for long-term partnerships. Remember, your website will need updates and changes in the future! Best to work with someone you can develop a rapport with.

6. Not having examples or ideas

In the same vein as “just make it look good,” one of the worst things to do when hiring a web designer is to start looking before you know what you need or want. The more clear-cut decisions you can make before you start talking with a developer, the smoother the process will go. At a basic level, you should answer a few simple questions:

  • What’s the purpose of your website? (lead-gen, branding, information)
  • What kind of content do you want on it? (gallery, pricing, service info)
  • Do you have any materials? (pictures, logos, existing copy)
  • What’s your budget?
  • What’s your timeline?

Answers to these questions will provide tons of context for the designer you hire and give them a basic concept to focus on. Even better is to have competitor links or URLs of websites you like, so the designer can use them for inspiration.

7. Not getting a native CMS

CMS stands for “Content Management System,” and it’s something your website absolutely needs. A CMS is where all the images, blog posts and hosted files of your website will live. Having them all in one place, easily accessed and updated, is important for maintaining your website. Every time you want to upload a new image or post a new article, you’ll interact with the CMS. A website without a convenient CMS will make it very hard to do these things.

The problem is, not every website designer gives thought to a native CMS. It’s best to work with a designer who builds on a platform like WordPress or HubSpot, which have powerful CMS’, instead of platforms like Wix or a similar website builder, which don’t. Ask a designer what platform they build on and make sure it offers a native CMS, and avoid choosing a designer who doesn’t know what a CMS is or who designs without a CMS in mind.

8. Not establishing a sitemap

Building a website is about more than putting together good-looking graphics and a few clickable icons. The foundation of a website is the sitemap—a layout of all the pages needed to create an online experience. Before any design work begins, you should have an idea of what you want your sitemap to be. Not only does this frame the scope of your website, it also likely impacts the price and timeline for completion.

Do you need a simple long-scrolling landing page? Half a dozen pages to explain your business? Hundreds of pages for each of your many products? Get a feel for how many pages you think you’ll need, as well as the nature of those pages. A simple contact page might not require a whole lot of design work, where product pages might be better templated, for example.

Establishing your sitemap is going to make finding a website designer easier. They’ll understand your needs better upfront, and you’re likely to attract designers who have experience with similar site sizes and types.

9. Not asking questions

Hiring a designer to build your website is the same fundamental process as hiring a professional for anything else. That is to say, you’re relying on their expertise. Ask questions!

Not asking questions leaves a major gap in expectations. “Do you have experience integrating ecommerce capabilities?” It’s a simple question, but a tremendously important one to ask. If the purpose of your site is to sell things and you hire a web designer without ecommerce experience, you’re likely not going to get the best product. Ask about capabilities, experience, design approach, process and anything else that might impact the final website you expect to get from someone.

Asking questions is a natural part of the process when hiring a web designer, so don’t be afraid to get picky. Someone who knows their stuff won’t have any trouble providing straight answers to your questions.

10. Build in revisions and feedback

When you think you’ve found the right web designer to hire, make sure you take the time to establish a process for revisions and feedback. Building a website isn’t a one-and-done process most times. You need a way to let your designer know what you like and don’t like, what needs changing and what doesn’t work. Design work is subject to change—make sure you have a way to request those changes.

Most designers will approach revisions in one of two ways. Some give a defined revisions period—“I offer free revisions for 14 days, then for $X per hour after 14 days.” Others d it incrementally—“I offer three rounds of free revisions and $X per hour for every subsequent round.” These terms are fairly standard. Make sure you understand them and, if they’re abnormal, get clarification. It’s well-within your right to ask for revisions and provide feedback, but you need to make sure it’s through a mutually agreed-upon process.

11. Not establishing a scope of work

As a business owner, think of hiring a website designer as delegating work. And, just like you’d delegate work to an in-house employee, you need to define the scope of work. You can’t just say “build me a website” and expect your vision to be fulfilled!

Take the time to define the full scope of work of your design project. That means going beyond the actual design process. Focus on things like timeline (when do you want it done?) and support services (social media or email integration). Get a comprehensive quote for a comprehensive plan—it’s the only way to hire a designer with confidence. Remember to put the scope of work in writing and have clear dates and deadlines set, too. It’s the best way to start on the same page, with the same expectations.

12. Avoid bad gut feelings

One of the biggest mistakes people make when hiring web developers is ignoring their gut. They get a bad feeling about something and instead of addressing it, they sweep it under the rug and deal with it later. Unfortunately, this leaves them vulnerable.

Maybe the web designer you’re interviewing is reluctant to show you their portfolio? Their rates seem too good to be true? They’re erratic with their communication and hard to get a hold of? Don’t ignore these red flags! Listen to your gut when it says to proceed with caution and you’ll end up making a good decision about the designer you ultimately choose.

Hiring a web designer isn’t something you do every day. Avoid these 12 mistakes and you’ll do just fine! Remember, the key to finding the right designer is to ask the right questions, take the time to evaluate your needs and maintain a good level of communication. Learning how to hire a web designer is easier than you think!

How Much Should You Pay for a Website?

Looking to save some money aren’t ya? Do you really have to choose the 4 or 5 figure bid over the 3 figure one? Spending money on your business can hurt sometimes, I know. But sometimes it is necessary in order to grow in the long run. A website may or may not seem like a important expense to you. You may be biting your tongue trying to figure out if it’s worth the cost. In this article we’ll dive into a bit of pricing and the true business value of a website. So let’s jump right into it!

There are just 4 factors to consider when it comes to website pricing on your end. You need to understand

  1. Person/Company Past Experience
  2. Potential Results
  3. The Person/Company as a Whole
  4. Scope

You should understand these 4 factors and more importantly, the result of each factor. In other words, how it translates to your business in the long run. Please read this article and carefully to get a full understanding as your business is on the line here.

Web Designer’s Past Experience

Yes. When you pay higher prices you pay for experience. in this example, that web developer charging you more may have more experience. They’ll have more ideas on how you can improve your site and get more value out of it. They’ll know what works based on their experience!

Having past experience also gives you the opportunity to see their past work and whether or not it meets your standards.

With an experienced developer, you’ll go through less project hiccups during the project and there’s less of chance they’ll just up and abandon you. This has happened to so many of my current clients. 50% of my clients have gone with the lower bid before working me and the person was more than likely overwhelmed by the project that they just ghost my client. The reliability factor in the website marketing industry is a huge issue so be weary of someone with no experience if your project is important and requires a tentative eye.

In addition to reducing the risk of someone taking your money and leaving, a web designer with past experience will have a smoother process which means less headache for you. I know this because in the beginning, my projects were rough. After doing this for so many years, I have the process down smoothly. So you can focus on your business and not worry about every phase of the project.

It really is worth the price.

Some Caveats

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “aren’t there companies that charge low fees and have tons of experience?”. Yes there are! Just keep in mind, in this industry, you must compromise to achieve that. These companies that pop out full websites for practically nothing are very template based and aren’t worried about website conversion and ROI. Being template based, you can say bye to customization. If you don’t care about any of those things you are good to go with the lower bid!

Potential Results

A good redesign or rebranding can double, triple, or quadruple your results! Get a new website up can get you more exposure bringing you more business as it makes the sale for you.

Websites play a huge part in all types of business or personal ventures. What do you need a website for?

  • Do you want a better image online that represents who you are and what you’re accomplished?
  • Is branding the #1 goal for you?
  • Do you need higher conversions or feel your design is outdated? Outdated design usually means lower conversions.
  • Do you just need simple fixes done on the website?
  • Do you feel your online marketing can be improved as a whole in addition to just creating a website?

There are so many uses for a web designer (or as we say here website marketers). Know what you need first because results may vary. Let them know your issue and see how they respond. Do they know what it takes to solve your problem? Do they have past results that prove they can help you with your ultimate goal and reason for getting a website done?

Know what you need and make sure your chosen designer understands the issue and potential results fixing the issue can get. If they can help you increase your revenue or improve your brand for better exposure, I’d say that’s worth the higher price, wouldn’t you?

The Web Design Relationship

I don’t know about you but I like to work with good people so this part is simple. Are you happy with the experience so far? Sometimes you pay for a good partner. Working with a marketing partner that’s friendly, gets along with you, and is there to help you when you need help is a BIG deal and easily worth the price.

So know the kind of relationship you want with your web designer and choose the one that provides that experience.

Scope

Scope is probably an obvious one but worth mentioning still. Scope is the size of the project. It shows how much the project entails in terms of functionality and ultimately time on the end of the developer. It can change the pricing greatly. For example, if you needed membership or ecommerce functionality on the site, that adds a lot of time as there is more work and setup that goes into these website elements. You will pay more for them.

One thing I can guarantee you is someone charging low pricing (under $2000) for ecommerce setup WILL NOT do a complete job or allow any changes to the already incomplete job within the price range. I’d bet my front door on it!

So beware low pricing and understand common web design costs for additions like ecommerce. Scope is related to time and understand higher pricing will reflect that.

Now Go and Choose Wisely

web design pricing guide

Keep these 4 factors in mind with pricing. I just don’t want people to run into mistakes that end up costing them more in the long run. It is very common for most consumers, including myself, to choose the option that means less up front but that often isn’t the best option. In everything we do, we should always think long term. That’s how business works, relationships work, money works, and so on.

So save yourself the trouble and use the four key factors to choose your web designer carefully.

Don’t Build a Website Until You Have a SOLID Web Strategy

I would LOVE to get right into the meat of this article because everything in here is absolutely essential to building a site that will get you sales, calls, and leads — but it may be important to start with the what and why first if you don’t mind. So…

What is a Web Strategy?

Web strategy is not discussed often enough in web design. The truth is most designers you encounter don’t have much knowledge of what this is and no intent on doing anything after your site is built. But web strategy is essential, otherwise you might as well not build a website.

A web strategy is a plan of action to get your website out. To get qualified traffic coming in and then get that traffic to take a specified action. A web strategy involves your website first and then everything else you may need outside of that. So for example, you need to make sure you have the right keywords on your website and you also need to setup the appropriate social media channels outside of your website.

It is a complete plan of action for leads through the site after it is built.

Why Bother?

Well, if you care to get any business or customers, it kind of matters. You see, many people think they can build a site and people will just come. It is important to keep in mind that a new site is just one of the ten million made that month. I don’t mean to get you down, but that is the truth. The good news is that most of those websites do what I mentioned previously. They just build it and that’s it. Most will not get their site out there by implementing a website strategy. So read on to learn exactly how I do it here at MarvelousWeb Media. Follow this plan of action and you will EASILY make your website stand out amoungst millions!

Let’s Dive In

Your site has to be built for your audience

Traffic doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t convert it. Before you do anything outside of the site you must make sure it is something your audience will like. Learn what your audience values when it comes to your services. Understand their motivations and what they are looking for when they browse for your services.

Let’s say you are a roofer in this example. What would your customers value? Let’s explore:

  • Someone who needs a roof on their house is looking for something that will last a long time and not degrade and cause damage in the long run. It needs to be solid and long lasting.
    • What do you do? Show warranties on your work within the website (preferably the home page). Make it clear in the copy that you do a solid job and all your roofs stand the test of time.
  • In most home services, trust is a big deal. You have someone coming to your house, you don’t want it to just be any random person. Establishing trust is very important to your customers.
    • What do you do?  Show that you have been doing this a long time. Show any reviews you may have from past customers. Show any accreditations you may have from popular companies like BBB.
  • Your customers may wonder if you offer what they need and if you do a good job.
    • What do you do? Display photos of past work. Explain clearly who you serve and what you offer. Do you only work on commercial roofs or do you serve residential and commercial? Make this clear right off the bat on the home page. We don’t want to waste anyone’s time if you don’t offer what they need.

Take this example and apply it to your own business. Really think hard about your customer and what they may find important. You can even think over frequently asked questions to get a good idea of what people are concerned about when it comes to your service. Then take the answers and address them on the website.

Other key elements to making a high converting site are having a nice readable font, a clear call to action, and an easy to navigate menu.

When I build a site here at MarvelousWeb, I ask specific questions to my clients that help me get all these little details out. If you were interested in starting a project with me you could get a taste of those questions on the Get Started  form.

Getting Those Keywords Just Right

When I say keywords in this sense, I am referring to keywords as they relate to Google but also as they relate to your customers. We’ll start with customer keywords.

Customer Keywords

Customer keywords are what I call keywords that mean a lot to your customers. Since I just got finished with a home remodeling website that will be the example for this bit.

If you were a home remodeler what are some words your customers may use. You would find that “dream kitchen” or “dream bathroom” are really big ones. So you would want to play on that in your copy for the site.

Other phrases they may relate are “transforming your space”, “perfect family area”, or “extra space”. These are all important phrases for someone who is remodeling their kitchen or basement so you will want to use them throughout the site to show them that you understand and can really deliver on what they need.

So know your customer, understand what they recognize and relate to, and use that in your website. That’s an essential key to conversions.

SEO keywords

Recognize and use high volume search terms on the website. This will get it on the search engines radar so they know what you offer and can rank/index you accordingly. Make sure to use your company name in the actually text of the site, not just the logo. Google can’t read an image. Also use the name of your services where it is sensible. All this will ensure you rank for your own company name and can get indexed for the right services.

You’ll find that just doing this is usually enough because the majority of search terms revolve around the name of your service. So going back to our example, if you were a bathroom remodeler, you would use that term on the website and that is also what people might search to find you.

Moving Off Site and Getting Traffic

I’ll make this section simple with three key ways to get traffic. People may try to complicate this but it doesn’t get any harder than this. These are the three ways to get traffic to your site

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

SEO is an excellent way to get traffic to your site. It is actually what I consider the best way to get traffic to your site. I love SEO because it is the modern billboard. If you were the leader in your industry in the 80s you would have billboards everywhere. That is how people would know you are the top dog in the area for your service offering. You would have those cheesy commercials on every channel and everyone would know who you are.

But in the 21st century that is not how things work. People are looking online to find what they need.

If you really are the dominate business in your industry you will rank high on Google. Especially in your local area. And you will reap all the benefits that come from it. If someone is on the first page, I promise you they are paying for it and getting that money back ten fold. So that is why SEO is the number way to get traffic. The only issue is that it takes time, financial investment, and patience. This makes it harder for some small businesses to take the leap but they really shouldn’t let that be a barrier because it all pays off big time in the end.

For SEO, you need to decide on your keywords and find places where you can post your link.

Social Media

Most social media channels are perfect for building a brand and getting people talking about you. Even though it may not translate to direct sales or traffic, getting people to talk about your business is a big deal. It seriously helps in growing your authority online.

If web traffic and sales are your goals, I think Facebook might serve you well. Not just a Facebook page but also Facebook ads. Get in on it while it’s hot!

Other social media like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and LinkedIn can really help you to boost your business depending on what you have to offer.

If you aren’t feeling you need social media, at least get a Facebook page up. Like, come on man.

Ads

Google Ads, Facebook ads, Youtube ads — when used correctly, these can be the lifeblood of your business. People may want to complicate PPC (pay per click) but it is rather simple. Focus on ROI. Ensure for every $10 you spend you get a minimum of $10 back. But that’s a poor goal. You should look to get at ten times your investment back from your ad spend. If you spend $100, you should get $1000 back in return. If you can get this result consistently, all you need to do from there is scale. Invest more and get more back. That is literally it (but not really. you need to be able to handle all the business coming in properly and then leverage that new business to get more business and have the team ready to handle even more and scale accordingly, then review and innovate to make sure your business lasts and doesn’t move backwards, then……..but that’s pretty much it.)

But there has to be more to it right?

Well, yeah. You of course need to put in the work to get those results. You need good ad copy and more important than that you need to know who your target audience is. You can run great ads with wonderful copy all day but if you are targeting someone who isn’t in your audience, your money will be for naught.

Other great free methods

Don’t have a lot of money to invest in your business? That’s fine for a while.

If you really can’t put any money into ads or SEO or social media, there are some other options out there for you.

The first thing I recommend to my clients is a Google Listing. Even if you don’t have a physical location, a Google Listing is a must. I have multiple clients who get most of their business just from a Google My Business Listing. It pretty much counts as free SEO in my opinion. Slap some reviews on there and you could take over locally!

If you need any help with this, I’d be more than happy to assist. Head on over to my Contact page and let me know you’re interested.

Chances are you already have a listing for your business but it hasn’t been claimed yet. If that’s the case, you need to claim it right now. Anyone can claim it in the mean time, taking away your access. You really do not want that to happen.

Offline guerrilla marketing

I may be young but I still know the importance of word-of-mouth, cold calling, and hanging up some flyers in your neighborhood or reaching out to some friends so they can spread the word. You can place business cards in books at the library, or walk right into a place where your ideal customer is and put up your business card somewhere. Good old fashion guerrilla marketing never hurts. It can actually be fun.

And the final free method is learning.

You can learn SEO and how to properly use social media. If you learn it, you can implement it yourself. It mostly comes down to whether you have the time or not but it is totally an option. One of my favorite sites for online learning is Udemy!

Wrapping it all up

This is it and don’t forget it.

When it comes to growing your business, this is it. This is how you get your name out there. This is how you get traffic to your site. This is how people can start to find you on Google. This is it.

So if you are wondering, “hey, my new site is up now how do I get traffic and sales?”, this is how. You need a Google Listing, you need social media, you need SEO or ads running. That is how you will get sales and traffic. Get an awesome website designed to be the center of it all and you will take off.

If you have any questions let me know. I love being able to help out whoever I can and give free advice to those who ask. Just let me know your name, business, and what you do.

Making a Website is Hard???

Is it easy to make a website?

Do you need to know AJAX, HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, jQuery, Python, PHP and other complex languages to design a website? Well we are going to figure that out right now. Let’s see how “easy” it is to make a website…

Erasing All the Confusion

I was in a local forum on Alignable recently answering common questions about starting a website, specifically an ecommerce site. I scrolled through the answers and saw so many web designers formulating their answers to scare the person who asked the question. They were saying that to make a site you need to learn AJAX, and networks, and all the common languages of web development. They were saying even when you make a website you are just a pebble in the ocean and you need their help to make that not so.

My face was one of utter confusion. I had to check for a moment and make sure the past 8 years of me designing websites was real, because everything they were saying was such rubbish.

“You know that you can get a decent site up without ever even looking at code?”

No exaggeration there. When I started so many years ago, HTML scared me too. I saw it and did everything I could to avoid it. And guess what? I was still able to make websites, sell products, create landing pages, embed optin forms, and so much more. No coding required.

No Worries

So no worries, ok? A basic website does not require a thousand years of programming knowledge. You can build one right on WordPress with little to no experience. Now, you may be thinking about other platforms. You know, the ones that promise no knowledge of anything and you can build your own perfect site. Sites like Wix and Squarespace.

I will not be nice here or hold anything back.

I don’t exactly like those website builders and my clients don’t either. Nearly half of my clients have come to me from one of those website builders because they just couldn’t deal with it anymore. And many of my hours were spent in just the transfer to WordPress.

UPDATE: Many of my new clients since I wrote this article have needed website conversions from Wix to WordPress because they really want to be able to customize and easily update their site. They had only started their site with Wix because they needed “something” up, but as soon as they were able, they came to a professional. Just like all of us, having something truly unique to you and your business is so important. 

My advice is to stay away because while you don’t need to code to make a great website, you need experience. Experience in marketing and user experience (UX).

It’s Not About Looks

A website must have substance. It must have purpose. Mostly anyone can design a decent looking website but whether or not they design it to convert leads into customers is another story. A website is useless if it doesn’t convert or optimize traffic. Designing a website for me is fun and my knowledge of the industry and experience makes it simple but not easy. I put a lot into the process before I even work on the design. That’s how much there is to it all.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you can’t create a high converting website. You can learn anything if you put in the time and practice. It’s just important to know that is the deciding factor on whether a website is easy to make or not. You can make a great looking site without touching a bit of code but will it work and do its job, which is to help you reach your revenue goals? That is what really matters.

So What’s the Point of Me

You can learn how to create a WordPress site easily. You can purchase a theme to get the look you want. You can put in the time to learn what makes a website convert. WordPress has loads of plugins to solve most problems you may have so why would anyone hire me?

Here’s why most do:
  • Higher end website with cool effects and a premium look
  • My years of experience in creating sites that convert and generate good revenue
  • Time (really big one) – why waste time learning skills you will only need to use once and not hire someone who does only this for a living every day
  • Customization – I love coding and my clients love having a design that is perfect and designed special for them. I don’t use themes.
  • Assistance – if something goes wrong, I am here to fix any problems rapidly with your site
  • Special Functionality – this is where the serious programming comes in, but I happen to love it!
  • Beyond the Site – what do you do after the site is finally up? You can’t have leads without traffic.
  • Further guidance – I don’t just do websites. I look at your whole business to see what can be done to get you to your goals fastest with a good ROI

You Can Do Pretty Well on your Own

Coding isn’t really the problem at all. You can do pretty well on your own. It is only when you really want to amp things up that someone like me may come into play. Otherwise, it is pretty hard for me to tell you that making a website is hard or that you need to know every programming language in the book. You can do anything if you put in the time and effort.

Because the process of creating a high converting website takes time to learn, I put together a short ebook to summarize my process for making a normal website into one that pumps customers into your business. If you don’t have it already, you can download it here