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.

Our client highlight this week is ProRhetoric.com. We were so excited to be a part of the rebuilding and rebranding of the website Vital Speeches of the Day to transform into Pro Rhetoric.

The focus of Pro Rhetoric has always been to publish the most important speeches in the world in order to “represent the best thoughts of the best minds on current national and international issues.” Their goal is to offer resources and commentary that appeal to speechwriters. Pro Rhetoric was eager to change the look and improve the overall functionality of their site, as well as offer more options and new resources for readers.

Rebranding

The Pro Rhetoric rebranding was centered around creating a more news-like and less archival feel. While they liked the overall layout of their pages, Pro Rhetoric sought to change the “mood” of the site. Hammersmith Support started with a new color scheme to convey an informative atmosphere. The colors were changed from pastels to a blue pallet with several shades and tones working together. The color blue is often interpreted as “trustworthy” by consumers.

Rebuilding

The original site was built using Drupal, but the client decided to move to WordPress to make the site easier to use on the back end as well as more customizable on the front end. Hammersmith Support added functionality to allow for online subscriptions and renewals, paying close attention to the security of the site. The site supports a variety of content including videos, uploads, event-specific information, a job board, and advertising.

With these various needs, creating a site that was not only functional but also well organized and easy to navigate was essential. In addition, the site needed to support separate content for visitors and paid subscribers.

Supporting

Pro Rhetoric updates their site daily, sometimes more than once a day, in order to provide the latest information to their subscribers and visitors. Hammersmith Support is currently working with Pro Rhetoric in relation to information updates, as well as supporting their site to maintain security, speed, and optimum functionality.

Check out the Pro Rhetoric finished product by clicking here: www.prorhetoric.com.

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.