Michael Guarienti

The Biggest Mistake Businesses Make When Building a Website

There's one thing that every single business website needs to be good – TIME.

The success of your business website relies on TIME more than anything else - your web design skills, ability to write great content, and search engine optimization (SEO) prowess. If you don't have the time necessary to create and update your business website, it's going to fail.

Have you ever gone to a Facebook page or Twitter profile without any new posts for months or even a year? It looks like the business is dead or not able to take the time to keep up with their social media profiles. This reflects poorly on the business.  

The same is true with your website.  

If your website doesn’t look good, isn't updated, information is hard to find, or content is confusing or mizpelled – it reflects poorly on your business. And if this is how you treat your website, how do you think a potential customer is going to think they’ll be treated?

For your website, as in life – time heals all wounds. Any problem can be fixed by investing time in your website, but it requires dedicating the time and attention to create a good website, and the expertise to know how to maintain it.

Dedicating Time to Your Website

It sounds simple enough -- to dedicate time to your website -- but it's not that easy. If there's one thing entrepreneurs don't have a lot of, it's time to take on more tasks!

Countless times I’ve seen great websites fall through the cracks because no one has time to spend updating it.

Too Many Hats

As a business owner, your focus is running your business. Unless your business is creating websites like Mavidea, your expertise is outside of web design. When you take on the task of building and maintaining your own website, you become the web designer, developer, and web manager. If this is not a strength of yours, you could be wasting your time, money, and potential.

As a Web Designer, the best way for Mavidea to get the most out of me as an employee is to put website development and design projects on my desk.

There are other ways I can provide value to the company, but if I'm not working on a website, I'm probably being overpaid and underutilized to do something that someone else could do faster and better.

For example, yes, I'm writing this article to share my thoughts with you, but our Content Advisor is helping to make sure I dot my I’s, cross my t’s and make sure I write in complete sentences.

Mavidea can help your business with what we do best. We build great-looking, mobile-first websites for small businesses, and then we support and maintain them so that you don’t have to. You’ll have time to do what you’re best at, and we’ll take care of everything else.

Read: 6 Super Quick Ways to Update Your Current Website

Four Questions to Ask Yourself Before Designing a New Website

 

1. How much time on a daily/weekly/monthly basis do I have to invest in this new website?  Do you have spare time available to work on your website? Consider what in your business you can spend less time on to spend the time necessary to update and maintain your website. If you have less than 5-7 hours a week available to updating your website, you should find a trusted employee or company to take on this task.

2. How much is one hour of my time worth?  Put a price on an hour of your work, and take that into consideration when you’re spending time on tasks related to your website. For example, if your time is worth $50/hour, you’re essentially spending $50 each hour you’re working on your website. If you can pay someone else $25/hour to keep your website updated, you are saving money and freeing up your time to focus on more essential tasks.

3. Can I redistribute several hours of my week to keeping my website up to date?Is there anything you can take off your plate in order to add this to it? Trying to take on too many tasks is common for business owners, but it usually ends in several important business functions being left behind, including your website and social media pages.

Go to: Mavidea Web Design Services

4. Is there someone else who can complete this project better, in less time, and/or for less money?  Due to the value of your time, it isn’t always wise to create and maintain your own website. Is there a person or company you can trust to create your business’ website better, quicker, or less expensive? If so, you should explore those options. If you do have available time, are web savvy, and enjoy creating and updating your site, it may be a better option to create yourself, but don’t sacrifice the most important aspects of your business in exchange for a good website.

If your time is limited but you still want the best website for your business, Mavidea can help. We take the burden of creating and maintaining a professional and effective website out of your hands and put it into the hands of our experienced web designers and tech team. Let's talk today. 

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Kim James

Before + After: The American Legion Department of Illinois

Long time client, American Legion Department of Illinois does important work in the lives of veterans and the community.

About: The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service-members and veterans.

Their website needed a new design, reorganized content, and then an updated platform to support their newly responsive design.

Before

After we understood their goals and challenges, we determined that their menu would need extensive organizing. If you have a lot of content, and pages for your website, it's best to use what's called a "mega menu". This modern menu system is the easiest way to keep large amounts of content organized and easy to find!

Along with the menu, we worked on a clean and fresh design that would be easy for members to navigate and find what they need.

Their new site is mobile friendly and responsive for easy viewing on all screen sizes.

Desktop & Laptop

desktop-1

More pages...

Mobile Website

Responsive Design on iPad

Thank you to the American Legion Department of Illinois for allowing us to redesign your website and be a part of the great work you do!

More Transformation Stories:

Before + After: KDC Outdoors

Before + After: Wm Masters

Before + After: Project Oz

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Kim James

6 Super Quick Ways to Improve Your Current Website

While some websites are beyond repair, no website, even the great ones, are without room for improvement. Whether you’re ready to throw your website in your desktop’s wastebasket or enter it into the Webby Awards, there are steps you can take today to improve your website.

We understand small business struggles – you wear many hats and you have a limited budget to work with. What you can’t afford to do is neglect your online image and opportunities to virtually connect with your customers.

Wherever you are with your website and your business, here are six ways you can dramatically improve your current website quickly:

Get Rid of Outdated Content

There is nothing that screams "you can't trust me!" like outdated content on a website. A service you don't provide anymore, an old phone number, a bad address, past employees, links to social media pages you haven't posted on in a year, etc.

Go through each page of your website on a regular basis to clean and update the content.

Use Second Person

Your website needs to be about the customer and how your service/product can help them, not you! Read through your content -- if it's written in first-person, then rewrite it so you are talking to your clients and readers at least 3x as often as you're talking about yourself. Instead of “Jones Supply Co. has the experience and talent to deliver what our customers want,” write “We have the solutions to fulfill your specific supply needs.”

Add a Call to Action

If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it. Each page of content on your website should conclude with a call to action – something that tells your visitor what they should do next. Visitors do not want to search for your contact information or guess which page they should go to next. Make it easily available to them with a clear call to action at the bottom of every page.

Example: "Make sure your website is meeting the needs of your customers! Call Mavidea today to start your new website! 888-898-8960"

Real Pictures

Stock images are easy to find online, but they often lack personality and don’t show the unique character of your business. Include real pictures of your office, clients, staff etc. – visitors want to see who you are. Visitors love a Meet the Team page…it makes them feel more comfortable working with your company.

De-Clutter

There was a time when stuffing your website full of keywords was more important than writing engaging content that was both enjoyable and informative. Your visitors do not want to sort through five paragraphs of detailed information on your product or service. Create small paragraphs of highly useful information and leave the cluttered text behind.

Website visitors skim through online content - so make it really easy for them by using at least size 12 font and small blocks of content (2-4 sentences).

Social Proof

Seeing is believing. If you have any semi-active social accounts, add them to your homepage. These social sites allow visitors to get to know you and add to your credibility. If you don't have access to add these to your homepage then add links to them at the bottom of your content pages – an easy short term fix.

Example: "Check us out on Facebook!"

You can also add testimonials to show visitors how much past customers have enjoyed working with you.

It All Leads to Your Website

All of your marketing efforts lead back to your website. Take these tips and apply them to your website to get more business today. The 20 or 30 minutes you spend making these updates will help visitors spend more time on your website, find what they need, and build trust with your business.

Unable to make ANY edits to your current site? Is your site not even worth updating? Call Mavidea today to get a new website for your business for as low as $199/month.

Get Started.

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Kim James

12 Email Productivity Tips to Get More Done Every Day

2016 seemed to be the year of decluttering…declutter your closet, car, mind, DVR etc.

If you’re anything like me then you thought this was a great idea and the solution to your busy life. Only to find that decluttering only works if you continue to declutter…old habits die hard.

So here we are in a shiny new year full of space for new goals. Let’s start with your inbox.

Don’t let your email throw off your day – plan your day or your day will plan you….or something like that? Not sure.

Notes: Some of these tips are for Outlook, but I'm sure your email service has an equivalent for each of these. If they don't then I highly recommend Microsoft Office 365 - it's well worth the money.

Lastly, this list is a compilation of tips from other Mavideans, productivity books, and all around smarter/wiser people than myself - so you can trust it.

Here are the most helpful email productivity tips to find the bottom of your inbox and be more successful in 2017:

Read Getting Things Done by David Allen

Several years ago we read this book at Mavidea and for many of us it has changed the way that we handle our email and tasks every day.

He outlines the process for capturing all your tasks into an easy to use system that keeps your brain from stressing that you forgot something. He has a 2015 version of his book that we highly recommend.

One big takeaway: When you receive a new task, ask yourself "will this take less than 5 minutes to complete?" if you answer "yes" then complete that task right away so that it's done and off your list.

Minimize Your Inbox

Another piece of advice from David Allen is to follow Inbox Zero.

Mavideans love Inbox Zero – it's the holy grail of inbox productivity.

True inbox zero can be incredibly hard to achieve. If you haven’t heard about inbox zero, it’s when your inbox is literally empty. All emails have been filed, delegated, or deleted.

Personally, I operate a somewhat cheated version of inbox zero, but it works for me. I keep my main inbox at zero – every email that I receive has a home. Because I like to hold onto emails that I MIGHT need again, I have a "Reference" folder for the “just in case” part of me that can’t part with them. It still makes email management so much easier for me and keeps my schedule organized by moving unimportant emails that have no tasks attached to them to that “Reference” folder.

Zero Inbox CHEAT How To: Go through the last three months of email - delete whatever you don't need anymore, move the emails that you may need to a "Reference" folder, and the emails that require some sort of action from you to an "Actions" folder.  Then, move ALL the rest of your old email to that same “Reference” folder (if you are like me and rely heavily on your email to find PDFs from 2 years ago). I'm sure the Archive feature in Outlook would work as well...

Schedule 3ish Times a Day to Check Email

Create specific times in your day (you get to decide...it can be 1, 2, 5...you get the idea) that you plan to check your email, and don't open your email between those times. Scheduling specific times to check your email does a couple things, one it allows you to focus on your priorities and two, it puts your mind at ease because you've decided on set times to check email and you know that you'll get to it soon enough.

(I'm still working on this one, but I know several people at Mavidea who do a great job checking email sparingly throughout their day - and they seem very productive and on task.)

Setup Quick Step Folders in Outlook

Whether you are ready to conquer inbox zero or not, creating quick step folders in Outlook is very useful, to quickly filter emails that require an action from you into one folder. Or for situations where you have an important client and you like to keep all their emails, you can quickly filter those emails into a folder.

(you can find the quick steps folders under "Home" in Outlook).

Setup Rules in Outlook

You can setup rules in Outlook to move certain emails into folders automatically, among other things.

Depending on your job role, you may receive a lot of emails from a certain vendor, CRM notifications, or maybe an industry newsletter. Whatever it is, you can setup rules in Outlook for those emails to automatically into a specific folder - this keeps your inbox more manageable and allows you to go through those emails when you need to.

This video is an example of how the tool works and where to find it in Outlook. I used an example if I wanted to move all emails from one specific person to a folder automatically.

Turn Off All Email Alerts

All of those "ding!" noises, little red circles, and mail signs on your email make it impossible to forget your email long enough to really focus.

For Outlook: Go to File and then Options:

Deselect all the "Message arrival" notifications. You don't need these in your life!

Same goes for email on your phone - for an iPhone, go to Settings - Notifications - Mail, and turn that off! It took me a few days to get used to this one, but now it's very helpful in keeping me from auto-piloting to those little red circles...the curiosity was just too much!

Use Wunderlist to Organize Your Tasks

Using the little red flags and tasks section in Outlook or the stars in Gmail are good ways to keep track of your important emails, but it means that you have to keep referring back to your inbox, which is very distracting. If you use a different list app then you can stick to your rule of only checking your emailing a select few times per day.

There are a lot of good ones to choose from, here are a few of the most popular:

Try Unroll.me

Subscribing to email lists is both a blessing and a curse - it allows you to keep up with your favorite company, brands, and thought leaders - but it also crowds your inbox. When you create an account with unroll.me, it gathers all of the lists you are subscribed to and asks you which emails you want to unsubscribe from, which you want to see in your inbox each day, and which you would like rolled into one concise email.

Depending on how many lists you are subscribed to, this can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes initially to set up - after that, virtually no time at all.

Stop Sending Unnecessary Emails

In 95% of situations, it's unnecessary to send an email to a colleague to let them know that you received their email - you can cut down on a lot of extra email by not sending those one to five word emails. Ex. "Thanks for the info", "Got it.", "Ok"

If your organization does this a lot, then you can communicate that you are no longer going to send these confirmation emails - most likely others in your organization will do the same, saving you and your colleagues time and inbox space.

When Sending Email, Think Through the Process

To piggyback on the last tip, take an extra minute to think about why you are sending an email before you do so - and then think through how you can write the most effective email that will not create seven more emails. Think through what additional information you could add to your email to give the recipient as much of the information they need in one email to make a decision. Add "if this, then that" scenarios to your emails - cutting down on the recipient having to ask you additional questions.

Stop Checking Your Email First Thing in the Morning

Nothing is more stressful and more disruptive than checking your email first thing in the morning and starting your day with multiple fires.

Instead, begin by reviewing your weekly goals and top priorities - make a list of things you'd like to accomplish that day. After you have your list, pick something to make progress on or an easy win to start your day right.

THEN check your email and tackle that long list of people who need your attention! You'll be focused and energized instead of stressed and disoriented.  Some people would argue that their job does not allow for this type of system - but it will surprise you how little time it takes to review goals, make a priority list for the day, and tackle a small task that gets you closer to your goals...I'm guessing you'll be tackling your inbox 30 minutes later.

Incorporate Time Blocking

Okay admittedly this last one has nothing to do with your email, but it's a great tip for organizing your day and not relying on your inbox to tell you what to do next.

There are many ways to use time blocking. Once you know what's most important for you to work on then you can block out time for those tasks - ensuring that you spend adequate time thinking, researching, and completing that work.

Time blocking is for job roles that require a lot of strategy and creative thinking. Depending on your job, maybe not every day needs to include time blocking, but if you're working on something that needs a lot of your mental energy then it's a good way to make great progress.

Learn how Gary Keller, The co-founder and chairman of Austin, Texas-based Keller Williams Realty, uses time blocking with his schedule

Information on adding time blocking to your schedule

If you love the idea of time blocking, Ink+Volt makes a great planner for scheduling your day/time blocking:

I hope you've found a few things in this post to make your time more productive! Check back regularly to see more from us!

Other Fun Posts:

Points of Bright Light in a Challenging Year

Why You Absolutely Need to Replenish Your Life

Facebook Live and Instagram Stories: New Social Media Tools Grow Your Business

Click here for Five Website Trends You Need to Know for 2017:

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Erik Barnlund

Points of Bright Light in a Challenging Year

The last thing I knew it was April. I blinked, and here we are starting 2017. It’s an interesting time in the world, in our nation -- and probably inside your business.

The challenges of this year make me realize the importance of appreciating those elements of stability that support our journey forward.

First and foremost to the leaders and business owners, the people that support us in our position of leadership.

With gratitude for great partners

I heard a quote recently that said, “It’s really hard to stop a great team.”

That comment might be easy to underestimate, but when I think about the year that is coming to an end, I can’t help but celebrate the teams I’m on.

What a blessing it is to have those people in my life!

As a person with more weaknesses than strengths, I relish the fact that I have the support of individuals like my business partners. Their friendship, guidance and insight make up for those many areas where I still have room for improvement.

I appreciate the way these men support me and will come to my aid in a moment’s notice.

It’s such a reassuring thing to know that I’m not in this alone. It’s a powerful reassurance to have their advice, counsel and assistance in every critical situation.

So, to Jake, Jamie, Mike and Arnold (not pictured), I owe you a huge debt of thanks.

A salute to a world-class Mavidea team

I also want to step back and reflect on the incredible team we have at Mavidea. Without them, there is no service to our clients. And without those services, our business would not exist.

I see and hear on a regular basis about sharp-thinking Mavideans who stepped up and took care of a situation or client.  These hard-working team members genuinely care about the relationships we sustain with the people we serve.

They care deeply.

It shows every time they go the distance to serve our clients’ service requests.

We’re so blessed to have a world-class team at Mavidea.

To each and every Mavidean, thank you for all you do on a daily basis. I thank you and our clients thank you.

A sincere appreciation to our valued clients

In 2016, we worked very hard to better understand our clients. We set high goals to better identify the kind of services our customers need. We focused on finding new strategies that could exponentially add value to their businesses and organizations.

We’ve made tremendous improvements in many areas. And feel we are prepared to be an even more amazing partner with the clients we welcome to the Mavidea family.

We listen closely to what our current clients have told us. And put that insight into creating great work and finding new solutions.

Many of our clients contributed to these improvements and don’t know their voice was heard.

If you are a client, I want you to know we put great value on every word you shared with us and we’re better because of it. I thank you for your continued business with our company and we promise to continue to increase the value we bring to you and your company.

We look forward to all the new clients we will meet in 2017 -- and all the individuals and businesses with whom we’ll start or further relationships.

I can’t wait to hear your positive feedback and stories of your success.

A tribute of thanks to our financial partners

The chain of gratitude extends to our banking partners, vendors and accountants. The list of these individuals is long, but I want to be sure and recognize Steve Timmermann and his team at First Farmers State Bank and William Dorsey at Packard and Associates for the intimate and long-standing role you have held with Mavidea.

We wouldn’t be here without you, and I want to thank you for that.

A strong bond of love and thanks to my family

For me personally, the core strength behind all my life and accomplishments begins with and is centered on my wife and children.

Without your support each day when I leave and when I come home, I would be an empty man. Everything I do, I do for you guys. I hope you know how much I love you.

Blessings grow in the friendships we share

As I consider this year’s list of people for whom we are grateful, it might bring to mind people who play equally important roles in your own life or business.

Whether it’s been a great year for you, or a challenging one, I invite you to take a moment to reflect on the ways the people who surround you have blessed your life.

Tell them. Pour into them. Do something nice for them.

Those are the relationships that are going to help you tackle your life.

Each one is a blessing. And they would love to hear that from you. Finally, but most importantly, I want to thank the most important person in my life.

That’s Jesus Christ.

I mess up a bunch. And I can’t believe that he loves me the way he does. He forgives me each and every time.

I vow to become a better steward of the blessings he’s gifted me. I promise to share the way he’s changed my life with others. This world would be a lot better place if we would just love one another.

As we close 2016, and charge into 2017, I encourage you to share your love with the people who came to mind while reading this message.

God bless you and yours.

Erik Barnlund, CEO

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