Don Schindler

Digital Strategy & Executive Social Media Trainer

Tag: website (page 1 of 3)

Can half a second on your website determine the trust of your brand?

judge your website in 50 milliseconds

Image courtesy of stockmonkeys.com

Our guts are pretty good indicators of trust. In fact, humans are hardwired to read a situation and come up with an impression in just 50 milliseconds. We get this “fight or flight” ability from our ancestors.

While not everything is a death threat, we use this ability without much thought to it.

So let’s talk about this “fight or flight” in reference to the internet.

When we are looking for a specific answer to a question, most of us trust Google (about 65% of searches start there) to deliver a website that will have the answer.

We scan the results quickly and decide to click on usually the first couple of links essentially our first impression.

Everything on the page (design, user interface, then content) will determine whether we believe what they say is true or we’ll bounce back to the results and click another link.

How you can adjust your website and online image to maximize your potential trust with a user was a SXSW workshop by psychologist and technologist, Vanessa Van Edwards.

Her workshop was called “Digital Body Language” and here’s what the description was:

digital-body-language

By the end of this blog post, you’ll know why this image looks this way.

“You have 0.05 seconds to make a good first impression online. In those 50 milliseconds you have to hook someone and convey your brand messaging, encourage clicks and build trust. Most important, this happens before a user reads any of your content, headlines or descriptions. You have to capture their attention with your website’s nonverbal cues or your digital body language.

Whether you run a business, work for a corporate brand or just want to better understand online human psychology this workshop is for you.

As a human behavior hacker, I’m going to show participants how to use the latest groundbreaking research to optimize advertisements, websites, social media profiles, online videos, print materials and emails. We will cover a wide array of online human behavior science such as:

*Using eye patterns to know how a user consumes your content.
*Using images congruent with your branding.
*The science of color psychology on customers and readers, and applying it to your brand’s online presence. Simple changes to your website like colors, text on buttons, people images, etc… can have a dramatic impact on its ability to convert customers and leave the best impression – in only 50 milliseconds.”

Her goals for the workshop were pretty simple.

  1. Be aware of what’s influencing YOU
  2. Take control of your cues.
  3. Supercharge your non-verbal branding.

Here are my notes from the class.

Vanessa Van Edwards has based her career on science-based application of 2400+ human behavior studies.

When people first meet you, they are sizing you up with many determining factors much like they do online digital presence.

These non-verbal cues are 12-13 times more powerful than the accompanying content.

So in other words, if you have all these awesome accomplishments on your LinkedIn profile but you have a bad head shot – the head shot will be more effective at trashing your reputation. I’ll give you points from her class on how to improve your head shots down below.

You must make sure your first impression does everything to build your trust indicators, your personal brand values, your credibility and your memorability so people will feel confident in making a decision in selecting you and your company.

Now what makes up your digital impression?

First, you do a Google search.

When people type in your name, what comes up?

Remember to logout of Google or use a different computer than what you normally use because search engines hold on to results so the results will be based on your history not what’s currently available.

Now what pops up?

Your websites, your images, your videos, etc…

don-schindler-google-search

Search changes all the time.

All of these should leave a good impression of you – we’ll discuss more of how these images will look below.

Let’s dig into the links.

If your first link is your company website, there might be little you can do to control the environment that surrounds your head shot and biography.

But maybe you can. You can send this link to your website designer and they can make sure they have incorporated some of these tactics on your website.

When it comes to a digital presence of your company, the first impression is made by your website. On it, users will find your logo, the colors and fonts, photos and/or video, user interface like search box and navigation.

This is what users expect and if things are missing or in unusual places, this will question the credibility of your website – even before they read a bit of content.

So how do you know if your website is trusted?

There are several different ways to measure the effectiveness of your website and I recommend that you have goals set up in your Google Analytics to do this.

But if you don’t have them set up, you can go into your analytics and check out if users are clicking on the right links, if the Bounce Rate is too high (I like to stay lower than 50%) and Time on Page is to low (more than 2:30 minutes would be great).

Users should be clicking on your Call-to-Action – if you don’t have one then I honestly don’t know why you have a website. Most Call-To-Actions I set up are Buy Buttons or Sign-Up for Email buttons. Goals are based on the Thank You Purchase Page or the Thank You for Signing Up Page.

There are also some tools like trymyUI.com that can help you get feedback on what people think of your website.

And don’t get me wrong – text on the page is very, very important but it’s usually what people look at last after they quickly scanned the page for signs of trust like testimonials or third party logos.

Make sure the text you have is positive as this can lead to prime people to believe what they see on your page – negativity breeds mistrust of others but will affect your brand.

Now once they’ve decided to look over the page, what are some important elements that people will focus on?

People’s faces.

Yep, our brains are wired to look for the human face and then the patterns on the face (even when you physically can’t recall seeing the face you will have an impression about it).

Once we have recognized a face, we will quickly analyze their expression to see if they are friend or foe. And since we all study human faces all the time, we can easily pick out what they are feeling. In fact, there are a few expressions that are involuntary that we pick up right away and they can help or hurt your website’s credibility.

Vanessa went over three common expressions that influence trust and they are:

  • Contempt – a smirk or raised angle smile will cause mistrust.
  • Happiness – an honest smile will have crows feet in the eyes. Fake smiles don’t and can help just as much as contempt.
  • Fear – if the user sees the upper whites of eyes (even if the face is smiling, it will seemed forced).

contempt-twitter

Check out the pictures on your website of people. Get rid of the fake stock photos and put in some genuine happy faces.

Next is the gaze.

Vanessa wanted us to know that there are particular ways that people look at other people as well as looking at websites so there are multiple ways you need to take gaze into account.

First is how people look at your website.

They use an F-pattern as first discovered by Jakob Nielsen in 2006 and it still works today.

People scan the site, looking for normal patterns.

Logo, navigation, search box, social then down the page to images and content, then they quickly scroll down the page.

Your crucial information should be placed within this pattern to make sure it is found. Many times I see Call-To-Action buttons or boxes at the very bottom of the page or in an unusual spot. It’s ok to be unusual if you are going to draw attention to the button with color or an image.

But there’s another gaze that we pay attention to.

The gaze of the people on the website.

You can direct people to different places on the website by simply aiming the gaze of the person on the page. People will automatically look in the direction of the person on the page – make sure your call to action is in that gaze.

Another great way to make a good digital impression is to have video on the page or within your search results.

Video is powerful communication vehicle and people tend to watch videos more than anything else online (notice the growing popularity of Facebook videos and YouTube).

But to have a good video that can earn you trust, you must pay attention to the psychological best practices.

Van Edwards just released a great study on the best and worst TED talks. They analyzed over thousands of hours of TED talks to find out the commonalities of these speakers and have come up with some remarkable studies.

Going back to our gut reaction, we decide within the first seven seconds whether we trust the subject of the video. Seven seconds.

If you don’t get them to trust you in the first seven seconds, you won’t get them to trust you the entire talk.

So what are the best practices of the best TED talks?

  • Hands – the study found that the use of your hands in a presentation determined success and trust. 465 > 272 best to worst. If you talk with your hands in videos, then keep doing it. If you don’t, you need to start using them. Things to do with your hands are pointing out growth, counting numbers (1, 2, 3) and personal passion (touch your heart).
  • Vocal Variety – You have to change your tone. Let it flow with your emotion and definitely change your cadence to keep the audience engaged. They never know where you are going next.
  • Smile – Add jokes, tell stories you can smile at even if the topic is serious and use that smile. The best speakers smiled 36.25 sec vs. 9.15 sec of the worst ones.

From her blog post – you can also add Enthusiasm (people liked speakers even with the sound off – so gestures and constant movement), and not using scripts (makes people too stiff and like they don’t know what they are talking about – politicians should take note).

Next let’s talk color.

Now if you are like me, you might have picked the color of your logo or your website based on your favorite colors. But remember you are trying to make an impression on someone so colors and font choices mean a great deal to the user – not just what you like.

Research reveals people base between 62-90% of their assessment on color alone.

So what do certain colors mean to the user?

  • Blue – loyalty, stability, tranquil
  • Red – passion, aggression, sex, metabolism
  • yellow – happy, optimism, youth
  • green – healing, success, hope
  • Black – power, mystery, professional
  • Purple – royalty, spirit, luxury
  • Brown – stable, natural, reliability
  • Orange – energy, fun, warmth
  • White – purity, cleanliness, innocence
  • Gray – neutral, practical, quiet

twitter-color-wheel

What you need to do is limit or eliminate off brand colors, confusing color cues, or purposeless colors. Everything is intentional whether you mean to do it or not.

Wow, are we ever going to get to the content on the page. Yep, now we are.

When it comes to the content, people are going to be looking for authenticity cues. That you are who you say you are.

Now how do you do this?

Authenticity comes from personal stories embedded within your profession information. The “WHY” you do what you do is just as important as they stuff you do. It needs to match up.

But you need to make sure you are eliminating grammar errors (tough for me), spelling errors (even worse) and anything vague that could be a lie so be specific.

You can add social proof to build trust with testimonials, reviews and certifications as well as recognized logos.

Then she spoke about confidence cues.

She said that when we meet someone new we are always sizing them up.

It’s our Alpha thought – are they awesome or am I?

Power body language (body position) has a halo effect – use more space and you will effect more than just you.

If you want people to think you have more confidence then use your body language in ways that are expansive. You are staking claim over territory, keep your head high, arms wide, shoulders back, chest open. The more space you use, the higher people perceive your confidence.

People perceive low confidence as your body is contracted, less space, the more your head is down or bowed and shoulders rolled. Hey, do you know what we look like when we are looking at our phones. You got it – low confidence.

Again, how do we take this to your website and your online presence?

Let’s talk about your head shots – a good headshot according to Vanessa was one that is viewed from below, aim your torso and toes toward the person and eyes gazing at the camera – you will look more trustworthy, open-minded and sympathetic.

If you need to look helpless and get sympathy, be viewed from above and don’t meet the gaze of the camera.

She did a great job in explaining how cereal boxes do this to kids (and adults) with their branding and mascots.

twitter screen shot

Finally, Vanessa spoke about capturing attention.

She spoke about a spectrum of attraction that users are on when they visit your website or online presence.

When you have too much or too little, you can really hamper people from making decisions.

Sounds and animations (like gifs and auto start videos) can grab attention, but too much and they annoy or distract people from the surrounding content.

Too few or too many choices will also cause a user to pause when making a decision.

There’s always an issue with dropping too many links in an article. You have to find the right balance so you should always be testing.

They did find out what kind of things and buttons people like clicking on. Start Here, Entry Level Products, Freeiums, etc…

We started to run out of time toward the end but I’m telling you it was one of the better workshops I attended at SXSW and I was very impressed with amount of information.

Seven Steps On How To Build A Farm Website Yourself

death star website

Your website is the only thing you truly own.

Recently I’ve been asked a lot of questions about building your own website. Farmers have been asking me if they can do it.

The answer is, of course, you can.

Is it hard? Nope, not compared to back in the day (mid 90’s) when you had to handcode everything. Websites are much easier to build and there’s several companies that would love to do it for you like Wix or Square Space.

But if you want to DIY it. Here’s how I would go about it.

1. Get your content together first!

  • Get photos
  • Write the text
  • Make some videos

Honestly you would not believe how many people want to jump right into the website build without any content prepared. How do you know what you want to say?

When it comes to a print brochure, you never start the design without having the content. The content is crucial to the design. Websites are no different. Start with the content first!

What content is normal? I would see these as navigational items on a dairy farm website followed by what question it answers for the customer.

  • Milk Production – How is milk made?
  • Animal Care – How do cows live?
  • Our Community – What is it like where you live?
  • About Our Farm – What else is on your farm? How does it run?
  • Contact Us – How do I ask another question?
  • Journal/blog – How can I see what it is really like to live on a farm 24/7?

 

fair-oaks-website

Fair Oaks Call To Action – VISIT THE FARM

2. Think about what you want people to do or know about your farm.

This is your CALL TO ACTION. Make this the most important call out on the website. Think about these questions when you are putting it together.

  • Do you want people to reach out to you if they have questions?
  • Do you want people to visit the farm? Maybe take a tour?
  • Do you want people to sign up for an email list – you can give them updates on the farm, share recipes, tell them when BLANK is going on…
wordpress-logo

WordPress.com or WordPress.org are both good choices for small sites

3. Should you setup with wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org? Well, that depends.

First you need to ask yourself “why” you want to self host. Here’s a general list of pros and cons.

Pros
– you have almost full control
– you can add content pretty easily
– lots of people use wordpress so there’s a ton of help online
– lots of design templates to choose from

Cons
– can be complicated to set up
– there are monthly costs (domain and hosting)
– can be limiting down the road if you need more features
– there are always updates that you need to be installing

Why I initially went with wordpress.com?

  1. No cost
  2. No worries on set up
  3. Search engines love WP.com

Why I switched:

  1. I wanted more control over the plugins I could use.
  2. The costs are very small.
  3. I wanted to capture email addresses and have more control over the design.

Personally, if you are new to blogging or websites, I recommend wordpress.com. It’s a lot easier to set up and get going.

If you are looking for something even easier than wordpress – I recommend blogger or tumblr.

But if you really want to use wordpress.org and control your own website then I recommend using WP Beginner or WP Learner. Read through the beginning steps before starting.

If you select, wordpress.org you can buy your domain through them or buy it through another company like 1and1.com. These are not affiliate links – I just happen to use them.

You’ll also need hosting. You can buy that through several companies. The guides will explain all of this. There are many companies out there and I’ve used GoDaddy, Hostgator and Rackspace to name a few.

4. Selecting a good design template
Both wordpress.com and .org have great templates. There are several things that I’m looking for in a template.

  1. Mobile friendly/optimized. More people are reading with their portable devices and you don’t want to be a pain for them.
  2. Clean design focused on large photos/graphics. Don’t get something to clutter – the user’s eye won’t focus on the content you want them to.
  3. The ability to add right or left side widgets but not both. I like sharing widgets how to connect with me and capture email as well as show them what posts are popular.

5. Make time to write once a month or more.
Putting time on the calendar is the most important thing. Block the time it takes and spend the time it takes. Don’t underestimate the time because then you’ll blow it off. You are going to need a few hours for your first posts. After that it gets easier.

What topics should you write about? Well, that depends.
Everyone is going to tell you to write about your passion which I assume is your farm. I write about marketing and how to do it better. That keeps me going.

But if you want to attract an audience, which I’m pretty sure you want to do then you should be writing about what your customers want to know about farming.

Most farmers I know are awesome storytellers and you should incorporate that into your writing. If the topic is animal care, then don’t just bullet point the checklist you follow for cow health.

Write a story about how you accomplished the checklist or what went wrong and how you fixed it. Nobody wants talking points – they want to laugh, cry or think about what happened on the farm. And some days a picture can be all that is necessary to convey this.

What topics would I focus on?
Animal Care, dairy farming activities, struggles and successes, how the community plays a role in the farm, how you play a role in the community, what you feed your family, what you do for fun with the family, how you are improving your farm, your opinion on just about anything, what hobbies you have…remember most people are pretty far removed from the farm and they are intrigued with the lifestyle.

6. Set up Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.
After you get the website up and running, it’s time to add some tools that will make your life easier.

Add Google Analytics – this will let you know what people are doing on the website. Where they are going, what they like, what they are sharing, where they are coming from.

Add Google Webmaster Tools – this will tell you how the website is performing in Google’s search engine eyes. Can they search it effectively? What keywords are people searching on and finding your website? What pages are broken? All sorts of great stuff and it’s free.

7. Getting exposure.
The final step is probably the toughest when it comes to having a website. How are people going to find it? While I have a few steps you can do, I’m definitely going to be writing a larger post about getting your website out there but in the meantime here’s a few tips.

  • Share your posts on social media as much as you can. I hate to bust your bubble but most people don’t see everything you post – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. So I would be oversharing as opposed to undersharing. And by social media, there is more than just Facebook out there. Use Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Reddit, etc… If you are serious about blogging, then you need to be serious about using social media for the exposure and interaction.
  • Share with the search engines. You can use pingomatic.com to post and it will ping the search engines to come check out your content. BTW, Google normally visits a site once a month until you get popular then they could visit a few times a day.
  • Share via email. When you are first starting out, it’s ok to spam the family until they get tired. Make sure to ask them to share as well. You never know who they are all connected with.

OK, well that’s basically it for the beginner level. If you have questions along the way, feel free to hit me up and I’ll try and answer them. You can leave a comment below or just email me using the links on the right hand side.

Good luck. Can’t wait to see your site!

How do you do a digital audit of your website and social media? Part 1: Website

When you sit down to do a digital audit, it’s helpful to have your marketing communications goals and objectives in hand so you can see if your digital properties are laddering up in some ways to your farm or business’ overall goals.

To me, your website is always your digital home on the web (don’t trust social networks like Facebook or Twitter to keep your “home” intact – glitches can completely remove your presence) and is probably the best place to drive your target audience if you want them to take a specific action – in other words, your CALL TO ACTION.  What’s your CALL TO ACTION?

Call To Action

Call To Action on Truth or Dairy’s blog is sign up for email

While a digital audit can help you see what is going on with your digital properties, you need to make sure that your CALL TO ACTION is easy to see and act upon for your target audience.

You need to be clear on your CALL TO ACTION on all your digital properties. This is done visually as you look at your properties whether it be a website, blog, facebook page, or youtube channel.

The web is very fluid and you need to be ready to change what you have.

Always be thinking of building with the future in mind – what is hot right now with Google is Social, Local and Mobile (SO-LO-MO).

In the future according to the experts, instead of the battle over what’s in your hand and in front of your face (computer vs. mobile phone vs. tablet), it will be your voice and what’s in your vision (think Google Glass and screens that respond to voice and motion).

But what you need to worry about now is your digital footprint (digital footprint is the results people get when they search for your farm/business/name in Google or on the social networks)  and how your digital properties are performing.

Let’s start the digital audit:

First, you need to pull together a list of all your digital properties.

Do all the ones you know and then make sure you do a search through Google with your keywords and names to make sure nothing else pops up. You might find things you didn’t know about or that someone else might have created for your farm or business. And it’s always good to have searches running on your farm or business with talkwalker.com alerts (free service).

Once you have that in place, we’ll begin was analyzing your websites and blogs.

Google Analytics

google-analytics-image

You should have some sort of analytics on your websites. I recommend google analytics. If you are using Urchin, you need to switch over. Your web person should know how to put google analytics on your website or you can do it if you can access to the code – depending on the blog system they should have a plug-in for this.

I have three training classes (posts) on Google Analytics:

How Should You Set Up Your Google Analytics Dashboard for Your Farm or Business

How Do You Set Up A Goal in Google Analytics

How to Read Google Analytics

I’m not going to go into the details here but you should have a sense of your traffic, time on site and bounce rates.

The overview can help you here but be aware it’s really not the whole story. What you are looking for here right now is trends.

Are people using our CALL TO ACTION?
Are we going up or down in visits?
How about time on site?
Where are people leaving the website?

Google Webmaster Tools

webmaster-tools-search-queries

You need to have your web person set you up with Google Webmaster Tools – this will help show you things like Search Queries (Google Analytics won’t show this anymore if people are logged into Google when looking at your website), Crawl Errors, how many inbound links to your website and how to optimized your website.

The information you really need here is do I have any errors, what are my search queries keywords and how many inbound links do I have?

webmaster-tools-inbound-links

Also, who is linking to me?

You should benchmark this number and then try and grow it in the future. The more inbound links you have the better you are – but just stay away from black hat link building techniques (don’t buy them and don’t submit to useless directories).

It will also show you where you are ranking on Google search engine research pages for keywords – it other words, how are you showing up?

Xenu

xenu-screenshot

Xenu’s Link Sleuth checks Web sites for broken links.

Link verification is done on “normal” links, images, frames, plug-ins, backgrounds, local image maps, style sheets, scripts and java applets. It displays a continuously updated list of URLs which you can sort by different criteria. A report can be produced at any time.

Probably one of the best tools out there for link checking and it’s free!

Open Site Explorer

Open Site Explorer

I use Open Site Explorer to help benchmark the performance of the website.

Copy the metrics on domain authority, page authority, linking root domains, etc…

Much like Google Webmaster tools this will help with showcasing who is linking to you but it will give more information on the sites that are linking to you.

The stronger those sites are, the more power they transfer to your website.

MajesticSEO

majesticseo

MajesticSEO will give you a lot of great information as well much like Opensiteexplorer but you’ll have to login.

Marketing Grader

hubspot-marketing-grader

This is Hubspot’s free marketing grading system and it will give you insights into how the website is performing (0-100 is the grading scale).

The information they provide is pretty self-explanatory.

While they provide some nice insights, be aware they are trying to sell you a product and will probably reach out to you when you use the tool. I do think that Hubspot is awesome but I don’t know how much help they would be for you right now.

SEO Audits are great things

Here’s a great article on how to do this yourself from Philip Petrescu, CEO and Co-Founder of Caphyon, How To Perform a Complete SEO Audit for your website.

This is a very thorough article and I love all the insights and how to fix ideas he has. Definitely worth checking out.

Speed of your Website

google-site-speed

The speed of your website is very important to users and Google. The search engine could downgrade your website if it is not running at a fast enough pace or if a script is slowing it down.

Use the Google Developer Speed tool to benchmark your website. It will also give you a Performance Grade, Load Time and Page Size.

Mobile Friendly

hubspot-mobile-device

Google is not happy with multiple website for mobile and would rather you just have one to meet the needs of mobile users. That’s why going responsive in a redesign is a great idea.

But you need to see how users are seeing your website on their mobile phone so I suggest using Hubspot’s Mobile Device Lab so you can see how your website will render on different devices.  Not everything is represented here.

If it’s hard to navigate, it could cause people to leave the website without doing anything (bounce) and hurt your rankings.

There are probably a bunch of things I’ve missed in the audit (you know like checking different browsers, etc…) so feel free to hit me up with this information.  I’ll add it in if it’s valuable.

Next post will chat about digital audits on your social media presence.

Why do websites need a content management system? I’ll give you four reasons.

Yes, I know I have issues with this. I really dislike websites not built with a content management system.

Why?

  1. Because you’ll always need a webmaster. This was a good job to have a few years ago because you would be the only person who had the keys to website.  You were the gatekeeper. If anyone wanted to change anything including just text, they had to go to you, the person with the knowledge of how the website was built. That is unacceptable in my book and for this day and age.
  2. Because you don’t know how people will be visiting your website. Mobile traffic is up everywhere. Do you really understand all the different browsers and how your website will look in them? It’s not worth your time to adjust, adjust and re-adjust just to get two pictures to line up on your website while looking through Firefox, Google, Safari and the dreaded Microsoft Internet Explorer.  Whoops, I forgot all the mobile browsers.  Better check those, too.
  3. Because you should be spending time on your content. You are a content producer (you write paragraphs, produce graphs, answer questions, maybe make a video. Stop worrying about how to deliver it to the internet. With a content management system, you can easily add all these things without fighting how to code it. Continue reading

Christmas Communication Gift: How would I market a dept, program or class on no budget?

Christmas So you’ve been challenged with getting people to pay attention to things you are offering them but you’ve got no budget to do it with.  Just a few years ago, you probably would have been out of luck.

The only thing you would have been able to use is good old “word of mouth”.  Which, btw, is still one of the best ways to get people to pay attention.

But today if you don’t have money, there are a lot more opportunities to get the word out.

Website – Central Hub
With no budget, I can get an ND blog and make it into a website.  The blog section can always be used for news and there are lots of different themes and layouts to choose from.  The main thing that I want people to do when they visit the website is to do something.  Sign up for something.  You need to get their information so you can reach out to them. Continue reading

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