Did you catch our post about the history of women in technology last week? Even at Hammersmith Support, we learned a lot from that post! This week we’re excited to bring you a brief Q&A from several modern-day women in tech.

Question: What Advice Would You Give to Young Women Working in, or Aspiring to Work in the Technology Industry?

Preeti Adhikary, Director, AI Lead at Emergents @ Weild & Co. | Forbes Communication Council | Yale MAM’21

“There are a lot of technical and non-technical roles within the tech industry. My advice for women would be to know where they can start and also understand where they can end up. Never stop learning and improving/upskilling yourself. Be an active networker even when you’re not looking for a job.”


Alexandria Ross, Ross Consulting

“Persevere. Don’t cave in when times get tough. No matter what you are feeling on the inside, project calmness and coolness. We must continue to pave the way for women to change the tide and continue to make major inroads to tech. The old mindset is dying out and the new generation has the opportunity to be the change we want to see, equality in tech. I worked in tech when there were very few women, but my love for the technology fueled my determination.”


Kate Schneider, Director of Product, CYTK

“There are three key traits I’ve cultivated throughout my career that have proven extremely useful as I’ve navigated the occasionally treacherous waters of being a woman in technology. First is perseverance. I never give up unless all hope is gone or I’ve managed to find or create a more advantageous opportunity (I can’t stress enough the importance of networking to help with the latter). The second is curiosity. Not only is this a quality that leads to resourcefulness, it is an essential trait that I look for when hiring. The third is confidence – building it takes effort and what has served me very well countless times is wielding it when my scabbard appears empty. By choosing to trust my instincts and rely upon myself even when I wasn’t feeling it, I was able to push through difficult circumstances and take the necessary risks to succeed.”


Akemi Ueki, VP Marketing and Business Development, Biosensing Instrument

“Get an education, put in 100% effort and speak out! Women’s views bring new and refreshing perspectives in a male-dominated high tech world, so don’t be shy about speaking out.”


How Hammersmith Support Is Empowering Women in Business with Technical Training

As we continue this month with our focus on women, we want to continue to support women and empower them with skills to excel in the technology field. One of our core values is giving back and we want to help train not only women and girls, but everyone on the technology we use and empower others with the skills to manage their website and make technology less intimidating.

To expand our focus on our core value of giving back, we are offering free training sessions that include tips on how to maintain and understand your WordPress website.

Book your free WordPress training session today!

Heather Locke of Hammersmith Support

When it comes to building a custom website, one designer does not fit all. Just like any creative job, some professionals are geared towards different industries, styles, specialties, and so on. Finding the right fit may take a little work, but the results of collaborating with the right website designer means your site will not only look beautiful but will also function well for your business and convert visitors into customers.

So, what kind of questions should you ask when looking for a website designer? Here are a few to get you started:

What Types of Businesses Do They Typically Work With?

This is a two-way street. On one hand, you want to know that a designer has experience in your industry…but at the same time, having experience in other areas is important, too. Having a well-rounded portfolio means that designers can adapt and create something unique for their clients based on their individual business.

A reputable company will be able to produce a portfolio of live websites that they have built. Bonus points if they A. still maintain those sites and B. have a referral from the owner.

Can the Designer Implement the Kind of Functionality That Your Business Site Needs?

Finding a great web designer who can create stunningly gorgeous websites is good, but if the site doesn’t have the functionality that you need, then you’re really just spending money on a pretty piece of art. A website that doesn’t convert visitors into customers utilizing smart functions on the site won’t do you any good.

Are They Telling You What You Already Know?

It’s important to remember that you’re not the expert and there should be things you don’t know about what should go into your website. So if a website designer is telling you only things you already know, beware. As professionals, they should be able to explain all parts of the website and why they’re necessary, even the parts you’re not familiar with.

On the flip side, someone not explaining consistently what is important or not important, and why – is a big red flag as well. A good website designer will be able to explain all aspects of the site build in understandable terms.

Does the Design Include “Behind the Curtain” Necessities?

This is similar to the functionality of the site. A great web designer is going to recommend a lot of things that your site visitors won’t see but that are necessary for site functionality. Things like plugins to improve SEO, loading times, and spam blockers. Security certificates, accessibility functions, mobile optimization and so on. Again, the visual design of the website is as important as the functionality behind the scenes.

Have You Scheduled a Free Consultation with Hammersmith Support?

At Hammersmith Support, we offer a free consultations! This is where we can talk through your ideas, needs, and wants for your business website. Click over to our contact page where you can schedule a call directly from our website.

At Hammersmith Support, we value well-designed websites. We also know the importance of maintaining those sites regularly. We’ve posted about what WordPress website maintenance is and why it’s important. But we want to take a deeper look into exactly what on your site requires maintenance and why it matters how frequently maintenance is done.

Platform

The beauty of working with the WordPress platform is that it is always evolving to give users a better product. And that’s what you want as a customer! But with those changes come regular updates. Not staying current with those updates could potentially cause a lot of headaches. An older version of your platform could expose your site to security breaches, slow loading times, and overall poor performance of your website.

Plugins

Aaah, plugins. These awesome little bites of software are great for adding functionality to our sites. An example could be a spam blocker, an SEO booster, or your contact form – there are countless different plugins. While they add so much to a website, plugins need to be updated and tested regularly. You don’t want to find out three months after it happened that your contact form plugin has stopped working and is throwing an error or appearing to work but not sending notifications to you, so potential leads are somewhere in limbo.

Frequency

Annoying as it may be, your website really does need to be updated at least once a month, possibly more if a core update is pushed out (i.e., a security patch). Waiting too long can result in the update causing a plugin conflict and rendering parts of your site (or worse, your entire site) unusable. Just as with tuning up your car, waiting too long or not servicing it regularly can add to your cost in the long run. It’s much less expensive overall to maintain your site than it is to try recovering it or updating two years’ worth of plugins and WordPress versions, fixing all of the pages and forms that are broken in the process.

One More Thought

While a lack of maintenance on your website may not affect your site’s functionality immediately, it will definitely impact it at some point. The impact could be that you have broken graphics or sections of your site that are not displaying correctly. Or it could be that you wake up one morning to an inbox full of emails telling you that your homepage now displays inappropriate material placed there by hackers who were able to gain access through plugins that had not been updated.

Just remember SSP: Security, SEO Ranking, & Performance because without website maintenance, these will deteriorate or be compromised over time.

We’re Here to Help

At Hammersmith Support, we’re here to help make your site as amazing as possible. We can build your site from scratch, redesign your existing site, and update and maintain your site once it’s in tip-top shape so that it’s sure to stay that way. Contact us to talk through what we can do for you.

At Hammersmith Support, we specialize in creating custom-designed websites that are tailored to your business and its individual needs. Our discovery process helps us to understand exactly what our clients’ needs are, which allows us to build a powerful site that is scalable and sustainable for the long run. A custom-built website has a plethora of other benefits as well.

Design

Having a site that is built for precisely what you and your business need means that it will work exactly as you want it to. Everything from blog pages, ecommerce, and downloads to email integration – all of this is built with your individual requirements in mind.

Having a custom-designed site also means that it will look like you want it to. Everything from colors, logos, and images to content will be on-brand for your business.

SEO

Custom-designed websites have built-in SEO. Search engine optimization is incorporated into the site’s design through each page’s content and images. This is important for boosting SEO organically. In addition, code like local schema can be added to help customers find you.

Security

Not only is a lack of security bad news for potentially exposing your customers, it’s also bad for your SEO. Some search engines block websites without an SSL. And if they don’t, they likely will rank your site lower because of the risk. Having a site built just for your business will ensure that A. there is a Secure Socket Layer and B. any additional encryption necessary for your type of business is built right into the design.

Speed

A custom website is built to maximize download speeds for all of the data on your site. It will also include things like a CDN or plugins necessary to have your site running at optimum speed.

Responsiveness

With more than half of the world’s population accessing the internet via a mobile device, having a site that is responsive to any screen it is being viewed on is essential. And Google search loves websites that are built with mobile-first design.

Accessibility

Websites that are individually designed are able to take into account how they are accessed by potential clients. It’s important that every website be accessible to any reader, but this is especially important for businesses that have a differently-abled target market.

Hammersmith Support Can Help

Ready to get your website built? Already have a site that needs some work? Hammersmith Support is here to help. We only design custom, unique websites for our clients and we take great care to understand all of our clients’ needs to build an amazing website for their business. Contact us to talk through what your website can do for you.

Our Hammersmith Support interview this week is with Allison Kierman of Kierman Law. Hammersmith Support created a dynamic, engaging and informative site for Kierman Law. It was important for information to be not only easily accessible but also user-friendly. In her professional practice, Allison strives to make the process of consulting with a lawyer unintimidating. Hammersmith Support was able to reflect that in the site design, yielding a functional and easy-to-navigate site.

We found Allison’s business and her “why” fascinating, and we’re excited to bring her interview to you!

Allison Kierman of Kierman Law, Photo by Blush Cactus Design Studio

Tell us a little about you.

I am an estate planning and probate attorney in North Scottsdale. I work with individuals and businesses to ensure their wills, trusts, powers of attorney, medical directives, and business plans are consistent with their wishes for their legacy after they have passed on.

I am a wife to Alan, who is also my business partner. I’m a mother to two elementary school-aged kids, Bond (10) and Felicity (8), and to two Labradoodles, Linus and Dodger.

Talk to us about your “why” and how that motivated you to start your business.

I grew up on a ranch and farm in West Texas with my grandparents. Our family saw many families needing to sell their farm to pay estate taxes once the family patriarch or matriarch passed on. That idea of giving up so much, after already losing someone special always resonated with me. Because I spent much of my youth with my grandparents, I knew I wanted to do something to help individuals and families like ours through life’s emergencies.

What is unique about your style and product offering?

I work with individuals to create estate plans that are right for them. I spend time getting to know my clients, their families, and their hopes and goals for their loved ones’ futures. I do not rush clients – my goal is always to be a good listener and guide. I never speak in legalese to clients. I always work to educate my clients that form documents that can be found online are often insufficient to meet the needs of individuals in the event of a medical emergency or when losing a loved one. Which is why it is so important to take time to plan with a professional so that each individual’s wishes are clear and able to be carried out.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Be consistent. More importantly, strive to consistently do good work and help others – and work hard at that. Those are my keys to success!

Get in Touch

Visit https://kiermanlaw.com/

Facebook: facebook.com/kiermanlaw/

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/allisonkierman/

Phone: 480-719-7333

Looking for more interviews and information? Click over to the Hammersmith Support blog!

Thinking About Updating Your Site?

Good news, Small Business Owner! Hammersmith Support is running a contest through May 27th for your chance to win a 2 month Essential Web Maintenance Package. This includes site service for 2 months as well as 4 hours of development to get your site spruced up! Click over to our entry page to submit your information and see contest details.

When consumers are looking for a product or service, they will likely have a variety of businesses to choose from. Large companies, small ones, and some middle-sized as well. According to a recent survey, when it comes to choosing who they are going to buy from, 91% of respondents indicated that they prefer small businesses when convenient, while 74% actively search for opportunities to support small and medium businesses even when it is not convenient. Why is that? Many like to support smaller businesses, hoping that it will also support their community. But there are some other distinct advantages that small businesses have over larger ones:

Quick Reflexes

When there are fewer people in a business to train, consult with, etc., companies are able to move faster. The COVID-19 pandemic is the ultimate example. Larger companies were still scratching their heads as to how they should work to accommodate their customers. Where small businesses, like many restaurants, were able to quickly adjust to take-out only options. They streamlined menus, utilized social media to send out details, hung banners announcing safe pick-up, and maneuvered their teams to safely make food and deliver it to customers.

Flexibility

When there’s no chain of command that needs to be involved with changes, actually making those changes for clients becomes so much faster and easier. A lack of hierarchy means that the person you’re talking to likely has the authority to make a decision, and can make it quickly. If a client needs a different service model, there’s no “checking with the manager.” Instead, the change can be made quickly and easily to accommodate the client’s needs.

Connections

Is there anything as frustrating as calling a company, knowing who you need to talk to, only to get placed on hold or sent straight to voicemail? Of course everyone can’t be available every moment of the day, but there is certainly something to be said for having a direct connection to the company you do business with. Knowing that your phone call or your email will be answered and by whom makes a big difference to customers.

In addition, having a consistent relationship with clients means that you’re likely to have a slightly more personal interaction. When a business knows their customer’s children’s names, their spouse, or important events happening in their lives, their customers feel appreciated and comfortable – two aspects of a business transaction that can only be done with genuine customer service.

Innovation

So often in a small business, the owner wasn’t trained to be in their position; they created that position, that business. This level of innovation is so appealing to customers because they know that when they have a problem, this company is going to know how to help them solve the issue.

We’re Small, Too

We know so much of this to be true because we’re a small business, too. We certainly enjoy working with our large-scale company clients, but our small business clients and our nonprofit clients are extra special to us.

Thinking about making some changes to your website? Or do you need some advice about where to start, or what changes you should consider for your website? Need a little help keeping up with your website information? We’re here to help – reach out and let us know what we can do for you and your business.

In 2020, Hammersmith Support will be working to get all of our maintenance clients accessibility certified using the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines standards. Why is it so important for your website to be accessible to everyone? The main reasons are because it’s good practice and makes good business sense. Ensuring your site is always up, running, and ready for any potential client is a must! There are several other reasons (and one perk!) for having your website accessibility certified. Read on to find out more.

Good Business Practice

Differently-abled people account for nearly 15% of all those using the Internet. So if you had 1,000 visitors to your website, 150 of those would be differently-abled individuals. Accommodating those with a disability isn’t complicated and is the right thing to do. Ensuring that your text is able to be converted to a larger or audible version, having images with accurate alt text, and enabling your site to be navigated using the Tab key are all things that can make your site easy for anyone to use.

Diminish the Risk of Discrimination

There is a growing number of disability discrimination lawsuits being filed against even small businesses. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with disabilities and has created many of the standards with which companies are required to comply. If a company ignores those standards and or refuses to comply, it can spell big legal trouble. Read about some of the recent website accessibility lawsuits here.

Boost Your SEO

Many of the functions that are required for a website to be accessibility certified actually double as a good SEO booster. Background information on images like alt text, captions and title are all beneficial for a visually impaired individual, but it’s also great information for web crawlers to use in evaluating and ranking your site.

Is Your Site Accessibility Certified Yet?

Are you ready to get your website accessibility certified? Click here to contact us about our monthly maintenance packages that include accessibility certification.

Good design drives business. In a world of cookie cutter, DIY websites, it can be easy to overlook the importance of a well-designed website. If you don’t sell your products online, why do you need a great website? Actually, there are a few reasons why good web design matters.

First, let’s define what “good web design” means. A well-built site is one that is:

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Functions well and is easy to navigate
  • Provides useful content, including services and contact information

Now, on to why these aspects of web design really matter.

Validity

Have you ever searched for a business online and come up empty handed? Did you continue to try to find that business, or move on to another? Chances are, you moved on. And it could be because without a website, your business doesn’t seem legitimate. A well-built, informative, and responsive website shows your customers that your business not only exists, but that it takes their customers’ convenience seriously and therefore has a very easy-to-find website.

SEO

One study found that 87% of consumers searched for a business using a search engine, which means if your site’s SEO isn’t maximized, you could be missing out on potential customers. Good web design is a major factor in Google Ranking and hits on several areas including responsiveness, quality, security and more. Having a well-built site not only makes it easier for potential customers to navigate your site, it makes it easier for them to find you in the first place.

First Impression

You know the old saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” The same can be said for your website. How your website looks and functions says a lot about your company. If you’re willing to put time and effort into creating an easy way for potential customers to interact with your business, then you’re probably willing to do the same for them with your services. Shoddy websites can give the appearance that your business is cheap, antiquated, and/or disorganized.

Mobile

With nearly half of the world’s 3.9 billion internet users doing so from their mobile devices, not having your website mobile optimized is a problem. Having a well-designed site will usually start with a “mobile first” format. This will ensure that potential customers will be able to find you and your site, no matter where they are searching from.

Hammersmith Support Can Help

Feeling like it might be time for an upgrade to your website? Wondering if you need a complete rebuild? Maybe just need a little help to get your site running better? We’re happy to answer your questions! Contact us and ask away.

For so many businesses, it may be a slow or very slow time. But slow time doesn’t have to be wasted time. Utilizing newly open hours of your day by doing some work on your business website will ensure that it is in tip-top shape as things begin to rebound. Hammersmith Support has brought you many blog posts over the last year and we’ve gathered several that have great information about why and also how to get your website updated.

Enroll in Google Search Console and Google Analytics

Are you using either of these FREE tools from Google yet? If not, now is the perfect time to get rolling. Google Search Console will help you pinpoint any issues on your site and keep you updated should something go down. Google Analytics is great way to see where traffic to your site is coming from and more.

Look at SEO

If you’ve been neglecting your site’s search engine optimization, we’ve got a few ideas about how to fix that. First, read about what SEO is. Next, check out these organic (read: free) ways to boost your SEO.

Start Your Business Blog

You really do need that business blog! Not only is this a great way to reach out to customers and potential customers, blogs also feed your micro content (i.e. social media) and boost your SEO. Learn how to get started here.

Freshen Up Your Site

A stale site is not only bad for SEO, but it’s bad from a customer perspective too. If a potential client sees that your site never gets touched, it can be a huge red flag. There are some easy ways to update your site with new images, refreshed image information, a blog, new reviews from clients, updates to your “about” page, etc.

Get Some Support

Are there areas of your site that need a professional touch? Or is your site in need of a full overhaul or rebuild? Drop us a note, let us know what you’re thinking about and we’ll help make it a reality.

We’re here to help. Click here to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

Google ranking factors

We’ve shared a lot about SEO on the Hammersmith Support blog: what it is, how to boost SEO organically, and how to use images for good SEO. Now we’re bringing you a few of the actual factors that Google uses to rank a site. As of 2019, there are 210 individual factors that Google uses to evaluate a website. Some are things we can all do for our websites, and we’ll detail those below. Others are best left to the website professionals! Here are 10(ish) of the Google Ranking Factors to consider for your business website:

Content Content Content

Content is evaluated in several ways, but we’re going to group a few topics together:

A. Freshness: how recently your website has been updated is HUGE. In fact, Google even puts the date of the most recent update in the search results. If that doesn’t tell you how much Google values fresh content, we don’t know what would. At minimum, content should be updated 1-2 times a month.

B. Update Magnitude: This goes hand in hand with freshness. Changing a few words here and there isn’t going to cut it. Making significant updates to content, like adding new testimonials, images, blogs, or multimedia, will help the most.

C. Quality: Grammar, Spelling: This one is a *little* contested. While some reports say Google doesn’t rank quality, others include quality as part of End User Experience. Bottom line, it doesn’t hurt to have good grammar.

Links

There’s a fine line between not enough links in a post and too many. The baseline is 1 internal (linking to another part of your site) and 1 external (linking to an outside website) link per post. BUT, if you have the opportunity to link to more than one internal page or external site because they’re related to the topic of your post, then there should be more than 1-2 links. Linking to reputable and authoritative sites (news outlets, educational institutions, established businesses) increases the rank as well.

Security

Obviously security is important for your end user safety and your website’s lifespan, but Google also ranks secure sites higher. All the more reason to make sure your URL has that important “s” in the http.

Page Speed

Having a website that loads quickly is usually targeted at end users to keep them from bouncing. But Google also ranks the page speed. If your site has a lot of images or other multimedia, software downloads, or is targeting buyers from around the world, using a CDN can speed up the loading process, not only making potential customers happy, but improving your rank at the same time.

Mobile Friendliness

This is one of the more recent additions to Google Rankings. Having a site that is optimized for mobile users is vital. In addition, priority is given to sites that build mobile framework first, then desktop user framework. Something to keep in mind when evaluating how your end user will likely access your website.

Keywords

Keeping your website’s keywords quality is a must. In addition, be sure that a keyword appears in the first 100 words of a page’s content. At Hammersmith Support, we utilize the Yoast SEO plugin to make sure that our meta data, keywords, and post descriptions are optimized.

Headers, Numbered Lists, Bullet Points

Big, bulky blocks of words are a no-no from an end user’s perspective and for Google Ranking as well. Be sure to break up content and organize it so that readers – and web crawlers – can scan the information easily.

Site Architecture

A well-designed / organized website makes it easier to be evaluated by Google, resulting in a higher ranking. Being able to quickly and easily index site pages is a must. This includes a well-designed site map.

Usability

This is another factor that initially appears to be relevant for the end user, but doubles by impacting rankings as well. An easy-to-navigate site will keep users longer and reduce the bounce rate. This low bounce rate and satisfied user translates into higher rankings.

Image Optimization

We’ve shared how ensuring that your image information is on point is a great way to organically boost a website’s SEO. The same is true for ranking. Making sure that image captions are accurate and informative, while the “behind the curtain” items like title, Alt Text, and description are all completed as well are all considered for rankings. Be sure not to have spammy Alt Text or descriptions. They may work for a short time but will hurt the rank in the long run.

Hungry for more? Click over to the Hammersmith Support Blog for more topics about SEO.