By Dorothy York, President and CEO of North American Precis Syndicate (NAPS)
The demand for site development has been growing, even in a down economy. There are over 28 million small businesses in the U. S., of which, nearly half don’t have a website. They can grow admirably well with a small investment. People expect businesses to have a good site in this day and age. Many have one that is in need of refreshing improvements which can be accomplished in very little time for a more attractive look and feel. Adding some insightful analytics, and management tools, can help transform businesses into a modern, more productive organization. Creating a simple, new, five page site, after asking clients a few simple questions, can be done in about an hour or two.
There are some very useful tools, that are inexpensive, or free, which can help to manage and automate the process, for a more professional approach, which can be monetized in the form of a new service that can be offered to clients.
Here are three good website designer platforms to choose from:
1- Joomla!: This is a flexible platform empowering website creators. This is an award-winning Content management system (CMS), which enables you to build web sites and powerful online applications.
2- WordPress: WordPress is a free and open-source content management system written in PHP and paired with a MySQL or MariaDB database. Features include a plugin architecture and a template system. This software powers 38% of the internet. More bloggers, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies use WordPress than all other options combined. It is scalable and secure. You can create any kind of a website with no code, no manuals, and no limits. You can get:
- Photo carousels
- Tiled image galleries
- Movable building blocks of text, photos, forms, Yelp reviews, testimonials and much more.
3- Site Swan: This provides everything you need to start, run and grow your own web design business, including easy-to-use software, no experience needed, using your own brand, and creating a huge profit potential.
There are some helpful tutorials online to help walk you through the process.
Here are 20 helpful software solutions to help get you started:
1- Moz: SEO software for smarter marketing to help you increase traffic, rankings, and visibility in search results. This will help with:
- Site Audits, by crawling your site on demand, uncovering technical SEO issues, and recommending improvements and fixes.
- Rank tracking to track performance of hundreds (or thousands) of your traffic-driving keywords across 170+ search engines.
- Back link analysis using the Moz link index, to see metrics to any site in seconds, including anchor text and Domain Authority.
- Keyword research to discover thousands of keywords to target along with Keyword Difficulty scores, competitor research, and SERP analysis.
2- SEMrush: This is an all-in-one marketing toolkit which will help to improve visibility across all your channels. It is an online visibility management platform for SEO, PPC, social media, content marketing and market research. It will help to:
- Run a technical SEO audit on any site
- Track your daily rankings
- Analyze any competitor’s SEO strategy
- Analyze any domain’s back link profile
- Research millions of keyword ideas
- Gather SEO ideas for gaining more organic traffic
- Unlock your “not provided” keywords
3- Keywords Everywhere: a browser add-on for Chrome & Firefox that shows search volume, CPC & competition data on multiple websites useful for Internet Marketers. This saves a lot of time, that would otherwise have been spent on copying data from one website while finding search volume from another. This lets you find long-tail phrases with their accurate search volume, CPC and competition data without having to switch between your keyword tool and Google Keyword Planner.
4- MarkUp for Chrome: Visual Feedback for Websites. Easily provide and collect feedback on any live website from your browser. You can cut through the noise with immediate, visual feedback and go from design to build to publish, without wasting time.
5- WhatFont: With this extension, you could inspect web fonts by just hovering on those.
6- Whappalyzer: a technology profiler that shows you what websites are built with. You can find out the technology stack of any website, create lists of websites that use certain technologies, with email addresses and phone numbers and use tools for lead generation, market analysis and competitor research. This sill instantly reveal, for example, e-commerce platform, content management system or marketing automation tools.
7- CT Genius: to put an ad on a website, this provides innovative ad sales solutions for the publishing industry, specifically. This enables workers to do this remotely, working from home.
8- Jot Form: This is an easy-to-use online form builder for every business. You can create online forms and publish those, get an email for each response and collect data. This allows more flexibility with hierarchy, the ability to customize with advanced styling options to match branding, in a time saving automated process which allows you to securely collect online payments.
9- Cognito: this is a free, easy-to-use form builder for interactive forms. You can:
- Create unlimited forms with the drag-and-drop form builder that has the layout and flexibility needed.
- Customize your style and embed your responsive form directly on your website or blog.
- Receive customized email notifications, view your entries from any device and create custom views to manage your workflow.
10- Wufoo: This is an online form builder with cloud storage database. You can build custom forms that you can use to collect data, payments and to automate your workflows.
11- ClickUp: This is one app that can replace all the others. With this you can have all your work in one place, including tasks, docs, chat, goals & more.
12- Adobe XD: This helps you to share your story with designs that look and feel like the real thing. You can wireframe, animate, prototype, collaborate, and more, all in one place. This allows you to drop a pen, make a comment, and review ad templates. It is a design system for building digital ads.
13- Google Analytics: This helps you to get a deeper understanding of your customers. These are free tools you need to analyze data for your business in one place. It should be on every website to tell number of active users, bounce rates, audience, geo location, acquisitions from organic search, direct, referral, social, and so much more.
14- Screaming Frog: this is an app to grab a url, paste in and get a piece of code to send out an SEO spider which is a website crawler that helps you improve onsite SEO, by extracting data & auditing for common SEO issues. This will allow you to:
- Find broken links and server errors, bulk export the errors and source URLs to fix or send to a developer.
- Analyze page titles & meta data descriptions and identify those that are too long, short, missing, or duplicated across your site.
- Extract data from the HTML of a web page using CSS Path, XPath or regex. This might include social meta tags, additional headings, prices, SKUs or more!
- Generate XML Sitemaps quickly and image those with advanced configuration over URLs to include, last modified, priority and change frequency.
- Audit Redirects
- Discover duplicate content
- Review robots & directives
- Integrate with Google Analytics, Google Search Console & PageSpeed Inisights
- Visualize Site Architecture
15- Mail Chimp: Known more for managing email campaigns, this can also help small businesses do big things, with the right tools and guidance every step of the way. You can bring your audience data, marketing channels, and insights together so you can reach your goals faster, all from a single platform. You can create a website with built-in marketing tools to help you launch it. You can send the right messages on all the right channels by building emails, social ads, landing pages, postcards, and more from one place. You can get help creating better
content with easy-to-use design tools and flexible templates or using the AI-powered Creative Assistant to generate custom designs for you in seconds.
16- Whatagraph: Clients like colorful graphs and data such as page likes, top page posts, etc. This will help you to:
- Create and automate visual marketing reports in minutes for social media, PPC, SEO, E-mail, and other channel marketing analytics.
- Choose from over 30 pre-made template options or create your own.
- Connect sources to combine all your data from different teams with 30+ integrations.
- Set up and deliver daily, weekly or monthly automated reports to your client’s email.
- Use your own branding with white-label reports and send those from your own domain.
- Filter your campaigns to report the data for several campaigns within different date ranges and sources.
- Upload images to your report or add a screenshot.
- Include offline information with custom data widgets, inserting your own custom data sets and you can create visuals using infographic reports.
- Add data from sources not yet supported by the API, by importing CSV/Ecel files from any sources you need.
17- Loom: This helps you show your presentation, by recording video messages of your screen cam, or both. It can be faster than typing an email or meeting live. You can post to your site so it is instantly ready to share and watch anywhere. It is a more efficient, expressive, and effective way to communicate. There is nothing to schedule, because you can send send quick videos that people can watch on their own schedule, and you don’t have to type a wall of text. You can easily edit your presentation and get analytics about who watched it. This is great for an especially complicated subject
18- Google Skillshop: You can access free online training to develop skills for Google workplace tools. You can learn at your own pace, with e-learning courses, designed by Google product experts, and get Google product certifications along the way. Certifications include:
- Google Ads
- Google Marketing Platform
- Analytics Academy
- Google My Business
- Google Ad Manager
- Google AdMob
- Authorized Buyers
19- Facebook Pixel helper: This is a Chrome extension that helps you when you install a pixel on browser, to target people that have been on your site. This is a troubleshooting tool that helps you validate your pixel implementation. This works in the background to look for conversion or Facebook pixels and provide realtime feedback on the implementation. A small number will appear on the Facebook Pixel Helper icon to indicate number of pixel events. When clicked, a panel will expand to show a detailed overview of the page’s pixels, including warnings, errors and successes.
20- Baseecamp: To manage workflow, this is an all-in-one toolkit for working remotely. This is great for people that are stressed, whose work seems scattered, whose projects are slipping and are finding it tough to see and manage everything. This will help organize everything in one place, help the team work together, even though they are apart, help managers and staff to stay on top of things and to restore a greater sense of calm. They literally wrote the book “Remote/ Office Not Required” to show employer and employees how to work together in any place, anytime, anywhere, and showing how to avoid common pitfalls, learn best practices and get up to speed quickly.
All of these are user friendly tools that can be utilized without knowing anything about how to code. It’s easy and it can be a lot of fun for creative and talented people. For a successful digital marketing agency to thrive, website design is a growing field that is in high demand and can easily be added as a marketable service, utilizing current staff members or hiring just a few people. With templates of questions to ask clients in the “discovery” stage, for information gathering, you can speed up the process so that a simple five page site can be developed in as little as an hour.
As a trusted advisor to your clients, you can more easily get an audience to propose the idea as part of your overall plan. Some charge for monthly hosting services or your clients can pay for that with a variety of providers. This is a low maintenance solution that can generate a new revenue stream and help to retain existing clients by providing excellent service.