WordPress Plugins

You might be asking yourself, “What exactly is a plugin?”. Chances are, your website is already using one if not several plugins. These awesome bites of software add customized functionality to your website – think contact forms, SEO builders, mobile optimization, security protection…the list goes on and on. We’re excited to give you the rundown on plugins and discuss some of our favorites as well.

Plugins 101

Plugins are open-source (meaning the code is adjustable) software made up of PHP code and may include JavaScript, CSS, and images. They are fast and easy to install on your site, and easy to navigate as well. Because they are open-source and the WordPress developer community is vast, a wide array of plugins are available. The result is custom functionality for your site without manually adjusting the site’s code. The other awesome part about plugins? Many versions are absolutely free!

Popular Versions

Hammersmith Support includes plugins on our sites because they add functionality and allow us to customize each site with our clients’ needs in mind. Some of the most popular are:

  • Gravity Forms:  Build complex powerful forms, polls, quizzes and more
  • Yoast SEO: Optimize for keywords, keyphrases, synonyms, build a sitemap, etc.
  • Smart Crawler: SEO page scanner
  • Advanced Custom Fields: Add fields to your pages
  • Defender: A premium security plugin that monitors activity on your site as well as reporting on vulnerabilities and necessary updates

A Word of Caution

We would be remiss if we didn’t tell you about the potential pitfalls of using plugins. Just like your overall website, plugins should be updated on a monthly basis. Taking too long to update could potentially cause your site to be corrupted and not work properly or worse, leave your site open to hackers who exploit outdated versions of plugins to install malware. Once your site is out of date, it is likely that running updates will cause conflicts or issues that will could render parts of your site unusable. In any case, before launching or updating a plugin, be sure to copy your site as is. After activating or updating your plugins, test the site’s functionality (think lead forms, sign-ups, adding new content, etc.) to ensure all is well on the site.

How Hammersmith Support Can Help

If we lost you at backing up your site – let Hammersmith Support help! We offer monthly maintenance packages where we can keep your site up-to-date, running smoothly, including other vital maintenance, and content updates. In addition, Hammersmith Support is offering free training sessions that include tips on how to maintain and understand your WordPress website.

Book your free WordPress training session today!

Have you ever done an online search for a business name and gotten a list of results, along with a quick breakdown of that business on the right side of your screen? That’s Google My Business. Below, we outline several reasons why it’s important and include instructions on how to get started. If you’re already using GMB, read on to find out some additional information that will be useful to you!

SEO

We’ve posted a lot about Google Ranking Factors and Google My Business plays right into that concept. Providing Google with detailed information about what your business is, where it is located, and the types of services that you provide enables your business listing to be up-to-date and informative. In turn, more accurate search results may lead to more potential clients finding your business. Moreover, adding local SEO to your listing means your business information is geographically optimized as well, which is important for many businesses that only serve local customers.

Quick Information

Sometimes a customer doesn’t want to scour your website for information like hours of operation or your address. This is especially important now during COVID restrictions when it may be uncertain if a business is open or closed. In addition, updated information means customers can find your address and directions quickly and easily. There are also Google Reviews that are separate from other review sites like Yelp. These reviews are not able to be sorted by a third party like other reviews sites, meaning you’ll see all the reviews, good and bad.

Because of the visibility of reviews, getting your clients to post Google Reviews is good for business. Make it easy by sending individual notes to each customer, thanking them for their business, and asking them for a review. Be sure to include a link to the Google Review page for your business.

More Places to Post

If you’re already using GMB, did you know that you can post promotions, event information, products, photos, and updates? Quickly get customers in the know and also get some free advertising!

How to Get Started

Ready to get rolling? Click here for the link to begin the process of claiming your business and setting up Google My Business. Once completed, be sure to check in often to keep your information up-to-date. Check out Hammersmith Support’s GMB page too.

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!

Last week, we touched on why gaining certification as a Woman-Owned Business matters. This week, we’ll add some context by looking at this in a bit more depth. How much do you know about the history of women in tech? Would it surprise you to know that the earliest coder was a mathematician named Ada Lovelace, who executed the first computer program in 1833? Or that women were responsible for programming as far back as World War II? Read on to find out more about women’s roots in the industry, where we are today, and what the future holds for women in tech.

Past

As far back as World War II, programming and coding were used to support the allied war effort – and the work was done predominantly by women. In fact, in the early 1940s, actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr created “frequency hopping,” using radio frequencies as a way of avoiding third-party jamming signals. Her invention is considered to be the precursor to Wi-Fi. Throughout the 1940s and ’50s, programming-related jobs, including punch-card operators and technicians who wrote instructions for room-sized computers, were considered secretarial. In general, men focused their efforts on hardware and women on software.

This trajectory continued through the mid-1980s until the advent of personal computers. At home, boys were more generally encouraged to foster computer skills, so that by the time they hit college, they had more confidence and experience with computers than did most girls. This early exposure, along with gender-biased treatment and promotions in larger companies, led to a steady decline of women in technology that has continued.

Present

Surprisingly, according to the New York Times, by 2010 the number of US women in technology-related fields had dropped to 17%. By contrast, in India, a country where women are faced with many additional barriers to education, including 8 p.m. curfews even in college, approximately 40% of students studying computer science are women. When interviewed, women in the US who had left the technology field cited issues such as lower pay for the same work and being left behind when promotions were available, despite being just as qualified if not more for positions. The excitement and love they had for their jobs had been squelched over the years in larger corporate environments.

Where Are We Now?

The good news? The future looks bright for women in tech. In early education, there is a greater emphasis on providing STEM-based learning to boys AND girls. Girls and boys alike are gaining early exposure to and experience with programming by playing code-based games like Osmo and Roblox. Many more student and young entrepreneur organizations are focusing on mentoring girls and young women, which can make a tremendous impact on their success in the field. Organizations such as Girls Who Code and Built by Girls offer opportunities for young women to learn the basics and beyond of programming, build confidence, and provide support for exploring technology-related questions. They focus on mentoring and empowering, helping to develop a network for girls and young women interested in entering technology-related fields.

Let Hammersmith Support Help Empower You and Your Business

At Hammersmith Support, we want to help ensure the future of technology is bright not just for women and girls, but for everyone. We believe in providing our customers with the very best service, empowering them to understand technology and supporting our community by modeling what it looks like to run a successful Woman-Owned Business.

Our core values are transparency, giving back and customer service. We want you to understand the technology you use so that you can be confident that you know how your website works and have a hand in keeping it working. To further our focus on our core values, we are offering free training sessions that include tips on how to maintain and understand your WordPress website.

Visit our Calendly link to book your free WordPress training session today!

This year, Hammersmith Support became a Certified Woman-Owned Business. Really, we’ve always been a woman-owned business, but being certified through the Small Business Administration was a goal for 2020. We are excited to now have this certification to continue to set our company apart from our competition. And there are a few additional benefits we’ll tell you about below.

Why Is It Beneficial?

There are a few benefits to having the certification. First, the federal government’s annual goal is to award 5% of federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses. These contracts are often consistent and reliable sources of business and without certification, a company would be ineligible for the contract.

In addition, being a certified business elevates visibility with clients. Larger, public companies may have requirements similar to those of government agencies or have goals of working with a more diverse pool of contractors.

The certification makes our business eligible for grants from various organizations and governments agencies. Considering the current focus on inclusivity, being a certified woman-owned business provides grant-making organizations and businesses the opportunity to work toward balancing the gender gap, which is especially pervasive in technology fields.

Finally, being a successful woman-owned business offers a model for girls and young women contemplating a career in web development and/or computer programming. Part of Hammersmith Support’s emphasis on giving back is being role models for girls and women who might want to enter this industry and who may be looking for examples of how to thrive in it.

What Qualifies a Company for Certification?

There are several groups that offer a form of a Woman-Owned Business Certification. We opted to work with the Small Business Administration as we found their process and cost to be the best fit for our business. To be eligible for certification, a company must be at minimum, 51% owned, operated, controlled, and managed by a woman. There are four entities that offer a form of certification:

  • Small Business Administration
  • Disadvantage Business Enterprise
  • Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
  • National Woman Business Owners Corporation

Read More

Click over to our blog page to learn more about other women-owned businesses as well as industry topics!

It’s finally here! We are excited to bring you an interview with the Hammersmith Support founder, Heather Locke. Heather has grown Hammersmith Support from just her and her laptop to a full-scale team! The Hammersmith Support service models have changed and expanded as well, growing from building websites to partnering with design specialists in the build process, and now website maintenance packages. With all that growth, Heather has learned some things along the way and is sharing her thoughts with fellow entrepreneurs.

Tell Us About Hammersmith Support

I started Hammersmith Support in 2010 as a solo-preneur after working for several years in the website development industry. My experience from that time was invaluable. But while I enjoyed the projects I worked on and the clients I worked with, I always knew that I wanted my own business. I wanted the freedom to control my own destiny, and I wanted to be an example to my daughter, London. It is important to me that I’m able to not only encourage her dreams, but to show her they are achievable when you work hard for them.

Why Is Being a Certified Woman-Owned Business Important to You?

When I came across the Woman-Owned Business certification, I realized it was something I needed to do for Hammersmith Support. Being in a male-dominated industry, this certification gives us one more way to set ourselves apart from our competition.

From the business side, Woman-Owned Business certification gives us access to government contracts and other opportunities, as well as increased visibility with our clients.

What Are 3 Tips You Have for Other Entrepreneurs?

  • Don’t be afraid to delegate. There’s a limit to how much we can do on our own – surround yourself with people you trust, and then trust them to do what you ask them.
  • I read this quote and it has always stuck with me; “If you’re going to eat Moby Dick, bring tartar sauce.” Having a successful mindset, even when you’re not quite there yet, is key. Always present yourself as a successful person.
  • Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Let their knowledge be the driver pushing you to the next level.

Get in Touch

Contact Heather through the Hammersmith Support contact form, or using the information below. Read more about Heather’s journey from her Voyage Phoenix interview!

info@hammersmithsupport.com

602-391-8024

@hammersmithsupport

Want More Interviews?

Click over to our blog page to read more from other successful business women, industry insights, and more!

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.

We’ve posted quite a bit about different ways to organically boost your SEO. And the one marketing tool that always checks the most boxes is a business blog.

Without a blog, your website has one link to your site, your URL. But if you posted a blog once a week for a year, you would have 52 links pointing back to your website. Fifty-two! That’s fifty-one additional ways that a potential customer could find your site. That’s huge.

In addition to the links back to your site, business blogs are great for a few more reasons. Here’s why.

SEO

Your website is constantly being crawled by search engines to analyze and categorize your site. The easier it is for a crawler to do this, the better chances your site will get returned when someone searches for a related topic. Google uses over 200 factors to analyze and then rank your site, including freshness of content, magnitude of updated information, and quality of content, especially grammar and punctuation. Blogs check off a lot of these Google Ranking Factors, making it an absolute must to include on your site.

Images

Speaking of SEO, having great images in your blogs not only boosts your SEO but it’s also an opportunity for you to share and add new images without having to redesign your website – meaning the images posted in your blog change often without having to update the main images on your site. Keeping a consistent feel across your site is important, but so is displaying new and exciting graphics. A blog is the perfect spot to keep your customers and readers up-to-date on what’s happening while maintaining the look and feel of your site.

Micro Content

Blog topics are a perfect way to feed your micro content (i.e. social media). Blogs are macro content because they are longer, more detailed posts. But those detailed posts can be broken down into bite-sized pieces and used to feed your micro content. For example, this post could be broken down by headings (images, SEO, links) and used for one to 3+ social media posts. The result is a consistent social media presence and cohesive message for your marketing.

How Hammersmith Support Can Help

Do you have a blog tab set up on your site? Let’s talk. Hammersmith Support’s comprehensive monthly maintenance can help get your blog set up, get your site on track, and keep it there with monthly check ups.