Happy new year! This year is bringing some exciting new trends in websites. From behind the scenes to landing pages, websites of 2021 will be visually and functionally different from those of the past. Here are the top 5 website design trends for 2021, and the 2 design standards that will continue to have a huge role.

Asymmetrical Design

The boxy, standard layout of websites will begin to give way to a more asymmetrical approach. Being balanced yet uneven in image and graphic weight makes pages visually interesting and provides new opportunities for conveying information.

Bold Color

Calm, quiet, and flat color is taking a back seat to bold and exciting palettes. Bright color combinations and everyday life views of products, verses stocky images, give new life to visual representation.

Depth and Parallax

Flat and uniform sites will begin to fade as sites with depth and movement come to the forefront. Sites will utilize the parallax effect – where the background moves at a slower rate than the foreground. Think of some of the 3D images you’ve seen posted on social media where the depth of the objects in the image seemingly changes as it is moved or scrolled. In addition, those bold colors will create additional depth through shading, resulting in a more dynamic visual representation without using additional colors. The bold color palette stays true and visually pleasing without appearing flat and lifeless.

Dynamic Questionnaires

Goodbye boring forms, hello exciting and dynamic questionnaires. As companies continue to work towards creating unique experiences for their customers, they will utilize lively and fun ways of collecting information in order to deliver a more personalized shopping experience. Think moving pages and objects, fun questions, exciting layouts, and easy navigation that will keep shoppers engaged and moving through the process.

Causes and Movements

We will begin to see a rise in websites dedicated to causes and movements in 2021. Most sites are backed by an organization, but as we see more social justice movements, environmental needs, and other important topics gain more attention, groups will begin to utilize websites in addition to social media to gain followers and spread information.

Accessibility

While accessibility is not a new trend, we will continue to see this important aspect of website design play a big role in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone to utilize technology more than ever. As companies and organizations pivot to accommodate additional traffic and business, that strategy needs to include adapting design for differently-abled individuals. Interestingly, many of the visual design element trends for this year, such as bold colors and shading, pull double duty with accessibility. In addition to being beautiful and interesting, they are also very useful for the visually impaired.

Mobile First

For the same reasons that accessibility is still a strong element in web design this year, so is mobile-first design. As most of the world will continue to work remotely, socially distance, and shop online, creating a website that is mobile friendly is a must.

How Hammersmith Support Can Help

Thinking that maybe your website is ready for some updates with these exciting trends? Or are you wondering where to start with your site? Ready to finally get your site cleaned up with a monthly maintenance package? Hammersmith Support can help! Visit our Calendly page to schedule your free, 30-minute appointment to talk through all of your questions.

It’s that time of year! Time to look back and reflect on all that has happened over the last 366 days (it was a leap year!). For us at Hammersmith, it means that it’s time to count down our most popular blog posts! We posted, you read, shared, and commented to let us know what you were most interested in reading. So without further delay, here are the top 10 Hammersmith Support blogs of 2020!

#10 Website Accessibility

Consumers who are differently-abled account for 15% of the 4.66 billion internet users in the world. Ensuring that your website is accessible to anyone is essential for good business, and good SEO.

#9 Certified Woman-Owned Business

Find out what it takes to be a Certified Woman-Owned Business and the benefits that the certification had for Hammersmith Support.

#8 Blogs and SEO

You know that having a blog is great for SEO, but did you know that the blog structure can contribute to SEO as well?

#7 The Roots of Women in Tech

Did you know that modern-day Wi-Fi was developed by an actress during WWII? Click to read more about how women are at the roots of today’s tech.

#6 Business Blogs

Still on the fence as to why your business needs a blog? We’ve got your answers here.

#5 The Future of Women in Tech

Even in today’s seemingly male-led world of tech, the future for women in the industry is bright.

#4 An Interview with Allison Kierman of Kierman Law

We loved interviewing Allison Kierman of Kierman Law about her best advice for female entrepreneurs and business owners, and we know you will enjoy it too!

#3 An Interview with Founder, Heather Locke

It’s no surprise to us that one of the top posts of 2020 was an interview with Hammersmith Support founder, Heather Locke!

#2 What to Ask When You Have a Website Built

Even though you’ve hired a professional to design your business website, there are still some questions you will want to ask to ensure that your site is built the best way for you and your business. Read 5 questions by clicking here, and we have 5 more available in a download for you too!

Drum roll please! And the number one most read blog post of 2020 is……

#1 Google Ranking Factors

It’s no surprise to us that everyone is curious about how Google ranks websites. We’re here to help take the mystery out of the process by bringing you what you need to know about Google Ranking Factors and how you can work with your site to boost your SEO organically.

Thank You!

We want to say thank you for reading our posts and letting us know what you want to know more about! Got more ideas? Email us at info@hammersmithsupport.com to tell us what you want to read more about in 2021.

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice! Gonna find if your site is naughty or nice…

While it may be a lesser-known holiday song, it is true: Santa does put websites on the Naughty List too! Not sure which side of the list your site will be on? We’ve got a list of offenses that will get your site on the Naughty List for sure. But don’t worry, Hammersmith Support can help get it on the Nice List just in time for the holidays!

Naughty: No SSL Certificate

Nice: Updated Certificate

No matter what you use your website for, lead generation only or for full-scale e-commerce, you really need an updated SSL certificate. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and it’s the “s” in “https.” Not having an updated certificate can leave your site vulnerable to hackers and malware. An expired SSL certificate will result in some browsers blocking access to your site and displaying a warning that your site is not secure. Lastly, Google Ranking Factors hate unsecured sites. Bad security leads to bad SEO.

Naughty: No Image SEO

Nice: Alt Text, Captions, Descriptions

Web crawlers utilized by Google Ranking Factors just love image information. And including all of the descriptive information in each image – tedious as it may be – is worth it for the boost in SEO. Crawlers are bots and they can only interpret so much from an image. Giving written descriptions helps them return correct information faster, which is a great boost for your SEO.

Naughty: Not Accessible

Nice: 100% Accessible

With nearly 15% of the 4.9 billion internet users in the world being differently-abled (that’s 735,000,000 for those doing the math), it just makes good sense to have your website accessibility certified. While they may seem like minor things to add to your site, these things can make a huge difference for users. Some accessibility requirements include text that’s able to be converted to audio, large print, or braille, tab navigation, and alt text on images.

Naughty: Stale Content

Nice: Fresh Content

There’s nothing a web crawler hates more than a stale website. Google Ranking Factors look at the content on your site from several angles, but age is a major factor. Keep your content fresh and updated by swapping out or adding images, creating blog content or adding testimonials.

Hammersmith Support Can Help

If you’re worried that your site might be on the naughty list this year, Hammersmith Support is here to help! Visit our site to book a free, 30-minute consultation and we’ll talk through your concerns as well as what options are available too.

‘Tis the season for gift giving! And while you’re making your list, we have some things to add to it for your business website…that’s right, your website needs some presents too this holiday season!

A Blog

We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again; your website needs a blog! Not only does a blog add value for your clients and potential clients, but it also is important for good SEO. There are over 200 Google Ranking Factors and a blog can help with a TON of those. Blog posts bring fresh content for your clients, images for web crawlers to analyze, and links, too.

Plugins

Speaking of SEO, utilizing plugins on your site will help to improve user experience as well as your site’s SEO. Yoast SEO will help you by evaluating your blog posts and then optimizing them for the best SEO possible. Smart Crawler is also great for full-page SEO analysis and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) will ensure that your site loads quickly on mobile devices.

Site Maintenance

There are two ways to give your site the gift of maintenance. First, you can update the site’s plugins, as well as the theme and WordPress versions. Updates should be done consistently to ensure that the site doesn’t crash due to too many changes / catch up updates being made. Not running updates regularly can also leave your site open to security risks, which are patched by WordPress developers.

The second way is to invest in a monthly maintenance package with Hammersmith Support. Each month, we’ll back up your site to ensure no data is lost. Then we’ll run updates, check lead generators, make any changes or updates that you request, and more to keep your site running smoothly and securely.

A New Website

Make this the year that you invest in a new site! If your current site is more than 5 years old, built on a template, or isn’t performing optimally for your business, it may be time for a new, robust site that can meet all of your business needs.

Hammersmith Support is Here to Help

We are always happy to offer a free 30-minute consultation to talk through your site needs and how Hammersmith Support can help you! Visit our Calendly page to book your time.

This week we have some spooktakular stories of websites gone wrong…these chilling stories may seem like urban legends, but we know them to be true. Each of these terrifying things can happen to your site if you’re not careful…so read on – if you dare! Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

THE TALE OF THE LAPSED DOMAIN

This story takes place at the website address: the domain. Elvira bought her domain but didn’t check the email that she used to purchase it all that often. And so she missed the email that let her know it was time to renew her domain, the credit card on file had expired and suddenly…it was GONE! Even worse, someone had snapped up the Elvira domain in the blink of an eye, and she was left in the dark with no domain and no way to get her original URL back.

Don’t be like Elvira! Be sure to stay on top of the emails from your domain provider. If you keep a credit card on file for auto-renewals, make sure that it’s current!

THE UNSECURED SITE

Everyone knows leaving your doors unlocked is dangerous…and the same should be said for your website! Casper thought because he wasn’t collecting any personal information on his site, he didn’t need a Secure Socket Layer. But! The creepy web crawlers combed through Casper’s site and returned a very unfavorable Google Ranking…and then a client tried to link to his page, but it wouldn’t work! Oh no, Casper! He missed out on potential business because he didn’t have an SSL certificate.

Let Casper’s cautionary tale be a lesson to be sure that your SSL certificate is up to date!

THE ALL-BUT-ABANDONED WEBSITE

Freddy Krueger finally got his website up and running! But because he didn’t have a lead magnet or sell products through his site, he never ever touched it again. Until one day when he decided to sell his famous knife-tipped glove through his site. It was then that he had to update his entire site to add e-commerce and *POOF!* The entire site disappeared……

You see, because poor Freddy had never updated his site, it crashed trying to catch up so many updates at one time! And with no backup, Freddy’s gloves never made it to the market.

THE HACKER AND THE UNSUSPECTING WEBSITE

Frank N. Stein thought his website was safe enough – he had an SSL certificate, but he didn’t always update his site. One night, some scary hackers came across Frank’s site and decided to have a little fun. They added malware to the site and suddenly every page was filled with ads for some very “adult” products!

Poor Frank. Don’t leave your website vulnerable – keep your site, as well as your plugins, updated.

THE TERRIBLE HOST SITE

Pennywise the Clown found a free website host. One day a customer told him that he never shopped on his website because it was too slow to load and he hated all of the ads on the page. You see, the trade-off for free hosting was…advertising! And even worse, the host site was down all the time for maintenance, making Pennywise’s site frequently inaccessible.

Don’t let your website go down the storm drain! A good host is worth its weight in gold.

Let Hammersmith Support Help

We hope you enjoyed our spooky website tales! If you’re concerned about any of these topics and would like to talk about how to prevent these issues with regular maintenace and support, we’re here to help. Visit our Calendly link to book your free 30-minute consultation.

If the thought of updating your website is terrifying, or if the word “plugin” gives you the heebie-jeebies, this post is for you! Don’t let the idea of redesigning your website keep you up at night; it’s not as spooky as it may seem!

When you work with Hammersmith Support, we pull from our experience ranging from small businesses to large companies and foundations that have multiple sites. Our goal is to help you and your business by creating a dynamic, unique, functional, well-designed and high-performing site. We do this with our three-step system that ensures we understand your needs and are able to educate you about your site to get the best results possible.

Consult

At Hammersmith Support, our first step with every new client is to consult. We want to learn all about you, your business, what’s working, what’s not working, and any other details that will help us to help you. We want to understand the challenges you and your business face. Using all of that information, we’ll create a plan and then help guide you through our process of creating an amazing, customized website for you.

Create

When it comes to creating your site, we never use a template. All of our sites are unique for each client. We build every site with WordPress because we believe it is a superior, very customizable product with an excellent open-source support network. In addition, the sites we build for our clients are not only functional but are also optimized for search engines, speed, mobile devices, and differently-abled users.

Conquer

Once your site is complete, the sky is the limit! While you’re conquering the business world, Hammersmith Support can maintain your site. Our monthly maintenance packages help take the frustration of updating and maintaining your website off of your plate. Website maintenance packages include content updates, backups, security scans, SEO, site enhancements, site optimization, malware prevention, analytics reporting, performance monitoring, and more. We can make changes to your site such as updating inventory or images – anything that will keep your site up to date and running smoothly and securely.

Ready to Get Started?

If you’re hungry for more about website design, click here to download “10 Questions to Ask Your Website Designer!” If you’re ready to talk about your website, schedule your free consultation!

When it comes to building your website, the reason you go to a professional is that you aren’t a web designer, right? But even so, it’s good to ask questions to make sure you are getting not only what you need, but also good value in your site, and someone you feel comfortable working with too.

5 Questions to Ask Your Website Designer

  1. Who will I work with during this process?
  2. What platform will my website be built on? Why?
  3. Do you offer hosting and maintenance?
  4. Do you custom design your websites or use templates?
  5. What if I have a problem down the road, who can I talk to?

Since You Might Be Wondering How We Would Answer These Questions….

At Hammersmith Support, all of our sites are custom-built, not templates, and all are constructed on WordPress. We believe that WordPress is a superior product compared to others on the market, in part because of its customizability and open-source community support. Additionally, we offer WP Engine hosting for all of the sites we build.

We know that all of our clients are unique and therefore their sites need to be as well. We build or refresh every client’s site independently, not from a template. And our full-service approach means we can design for you, or use a design of your choice.

It Can Pay off to Go Small…Business

One of the biggest benefits of working with Hammersmith Support is that we’re a small business – when you hire us, you get us! When you sign up for a maintenance package after your site is done, we’ll help keep your site running smoothly with updates to all aspects of the site including security, as well as make changes you may need to accommodate your business. And the best part? When you call, you’re not waiting on hold to a 1-800 number to talk with someone who has no idea who you are. When you call us, our first-hand knowledge of your site means we’re able to answer your questions efficiently.

Interested in 5 More Questions to Ask a Web Designer?

Download Our 10 Questions to Ask Your Web Designer Top Ten Questions to Ask Your Web Designer

Sign up to receive “10 Questions to Ask Your Web Designer,” including five additional questions to help with your web design process. Or click over to our Calendly link to schedule your complimentary 30-minute consultation with Hammersmith Support.

Our client highlight this week features the rebuild of the Strunk Insurance Group’s website. Teresa Strunk is a fellow W Source Arcadia / Scottsdale member. She and her husband, Casey, are the owners of Strunk Insurance Group, a full-service employee benefits consulting firm founded by Casey’s father, Greg. They reached out to Hammersmith Support to rebuild and redesign their site from the ground up.

The Website Issues

In order to continue to serve their client base effectively, Strunk Insurance Group had several website issues that they needed help resolving. First, the overall look and feel of their site no longer accurately reflected their organization. Their logo felt out of date and their site copy was no longer fitting.

In addition, a security scare led Strunk Insurance Group to prioritize not only the outward look of their site but also the “behind-the-scenes” maintenance. They needed a more robust foundation in conjunction with regular maintenance to ensure that their site was not only secure but also effectively drawing in and capturing potential leads.

Here’s a peek at the site before:

The Website Solution

Knowing that the content on the website needed to be not only informative but also well organized, they also contracted with Katrina Oko-Odoi of Content Worm (also a W Source Member!). She was able to create fresh copy that more clearly describes their often-complex insurance business and the services they offer. That, combined with a new logo and design, resulted in a fresh and simplified site that effectively communicates who and what the Strunk Insurance Group is.

Behind the scenes, Hammersmith Support built a new, modern theme for the design and developed the site using the built-in WordPress Gutenberg editor, which makes updating the site’s back end easier. Hammersmith Support continues to provide monthly maintenance for the Strunk Insurance Group to ensure that their site remains updated, secure and optimized.

The Final Product

Click to see the new and improved Strunk Insurance Group, and the sneak peek below!

Behind Strunk Insurance Group

Casey Strunk

In addition to highlighting the new website, we’re excited to introduce you to Casey Strunk through our Hammersmith interview. Both Casey and Teresa are very involved in the Phoenix community. Casey is the Board Chair of Phoenix EC70, while Teresa is Chair of the Board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona. They are both active members of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, working as strong fundraisers for the charity.

Casey, what is your “why” and how did that motivate you to start your business?

“Greg Strunk, my father, started the business almost 40 years ago. We have always been focused on the client and we continue to see today what drove Greg to start the agency in the early 1980s. There is an under-served segment of the business community. Those employers with 25-200 employees do not have a benefit PARTNER that is willing to invest the time and energy they deserve when it comes to their benefits package. We treat our clients like family and they continue to be our ‘why’.”

What is unique about your style and product offering?

“Most employee benefits firms help clients with employee benefits. It turns out it is a lot more complicated than that. We help clients quarterback everything related to their human capital. This includes enrollment technology, compliance, IRS filings, human resources, and retirement plans.

Lastly, what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

“Surround yourself with a great team. This includes my personal board of directors, peer groups, business coaches, other successful leaders, and your employees! I believe that in order to be successful over the long run, you have to constantly be changing and adapting your business.”

Hammersmith Support Is Here to Help

Are you thinking your site may need some updating? Have you had security issues that you are unsure are resolved? Click over to our Calendly link to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation and see how Hammersmith Support can help you and your business.

Your business blog posts are great at adding value for your site visitor, and they are essential to your website’s SEO. That SEO is based on several factors including the blog structure, which is why your titles and subheadings are crucial parts of your blog. Not to mention being attention grabbers for your readers. We’ve got the breakdown of how to create and use titles and headers that will draw in your readers and increase your SEO advantage.

Don’t Get Cut Short

Titles

The ideal length for the title of a blog is 60-70 characters. After 70, it’s likely to be cut off in the search engine returned results. While this probably isn’t the end of the world in most cases, if your title reads much differently when a few words are cut off, searchers may be confused and possibly even offended by the part that is displayed!

Subheadings

Subheadings are all the headings within your content (“Don’t Get Cut Short” for example). They are important for a few reasons. First, they allow a reader to quickly scan your post. If they can’t get enough information in a few seconds to make a decision about whether or not they want to read the post, they’ll likely skip it and move on. Second, subheadings should pique a reader’s interest. Keeping a subheading snappy and interesting is key.

Keywords and Numbers and Brackets, Oh My

Titles

Using numbers is a great way to grab attention to your post. Think “3 Ways a Great Title Can Make a Big Difference.” In addition, always making sure that your keywords are part of the title is vital for good SEO – this will also ensure that your title isn’t vague or misleading. Lastly, consider using brackets in order to clarify and add details to the title (such as “Blog Titles Really Are That Important [new statistics]”).

Subheadings

The post subheadings are also a great place to put your keywords for the post. If you’re using a number in your title, be sure that your subheadings are following the same format so readers are not confused.

Formatting Matters

Title

In the Hammersmith Support post “How to Structure Your Blog for the Best SEO,” we talked about how formatting your blog boosts your SEO. For titles, WordPress will automatically make your title an H1 tag. But if you have to do so manually, be sure that only your title has the H1 tag. It will make it easier for readers, as well as search engines, to understand.

Subheadings

This post is a good example of formatting that employs several subheadings. You’ll notice that our main subheadings are formatted as H2, and the additional subheadings are H3. That is not only visually pleasing for readers but also helps search engines more readily crawl and rank the content.

Want More?

Click over to our blog to read more about blogging, website maintenance, and women in tech.

We’re here to help! If you have questions about your website or the design process, we’d love to talk with you. Book a free 30-minute consultation.

This week, Hammersmith Support is showcasing an amazing Girl Scouts Silver Award project spearheaded by two exceptional young women, Hazel and Tillie. The foundation of Hammersmith Support is to foster our community and encourage future women in tech. So we were thrilled to have the opportunity to mentor these two inspiring young ladies in learning how to use WordPress so that they could create a website for tweens that focuses on Internet safety. The site will serve as their submission for the Silver Award with the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.

Girl Scouts Silver Award

In addition to being the highest available award for girls grades 6th – 8th, the Silver Award is a national award with national standards. Each project submission should take roughly 50 hours to complete and should focus on a community issue and should benefit 10+ people. Girl Scouts can work as a team or an individual and can recruit help from a few volunteers. The project must also be sustainable rather than a one-time event.

The Website: T-Bex Connections

Tillie & Hazel

Hazel and Tillie worked to create a website that educates other pre-teens about how to safely navigate being online and also provides ideas about things to do when stuck at home while social distancing. Their activities range from recipes to crafts (including homemade face masks!), and includes fun games to play, too. There is also a place where kids can submit questions for Hazel and Tillie to answer, with a little help from their project volunteers.

Future Growth

One of the requirements for a Silver Award is that the project must be sustainable. Because Tillie and Hazel have learned the skills of how to create a website, they’re also able to help T-Bex Connections change and grow as they do. The topics they tackle can evolve to include topics that are interesting to young women their ages.

These young ladies will submit their project to the Girl Scouts of the USA, Cactus-Pine division, later this year. Hammersmith Support will be sure to report the results of the hard work by these talented young women!

Visit https://tbexconnections.com/ to see their (nearly) final product!