Whirl Sites Blog

At Whirl Sites we’re passionate about the web, and our blog is a place where we share resources, tips, and interesting links that we think are of value to our existing customers and to everyone else who loves web development as much as we do.

Two Common “Reasons” Businesses Fail to Get or Update a Website

The evidence seems incontrovertible.  Having a website can benefit your business in a host of different ways.  It promotes your brand recognition, helps you get your message out to your target audience, makes your business more visible to prospective customers, and even provides a place for you to make online sales.  That’s just the beginning of what a business website can help you do.  Yet some small business owners still don’t have one.  Others have a website that is hopelessly outdated or barely functional.  Why?  Two reasons that are often cited are lack of time and lack of money.  But if you consider the cost-effective websites that Whirl Sites offer, these reasons really don’t hold water.  They are merely excuses!

“I Don’t Have the Time to Launch or Update a Website.”

Creating a website from initial design to final launch is not an easy task.  We get it!  That’s our business so we understand how hard it is to get everything just right.  However, we also know that you don’t have to do all the work yourself.  That was why we created Whirl Sites in the first place.  We wanted to give businesses an option that wouldn’t cost them a lot in time, effort, or money.  When you buy a Whirl Site, you can make the fun and easy decisions based on your tastes, and we’ll do the rest.  You pick a template that appeals to you, tell us what colors you’d like us to use, and give us pertinent information about your business.  We combine your preferences with our designs to create a website that looks great, functions efficiently, and reflects the character of your business or organization.

So you can see that it really takes very little time and effort on your part to launch a Whirl Site.  The one exception that does require some input from you is content.  Your website needs to tell visitors the story of who you are and what kinds of goods or services you provide.  Some businesses have already invested in creating clear content.  If this is the case, we are able to simply lift this content into your Whirl Site.  In the case of a website redesign, we can take content from your old website and add it to your new and improved Whirl Site.

If the necessary content does not exist, we have a team of writers who will write and optimize content for your Whirl Site at the cost of $150 per page.  Your investment of time in this process is limited.  We ask that you make yourself available for an interview (usually lasting around 1 hour or less).  From this interview, we will gather information from which we will write your content.  Again, your time investment in this process is minimal.

“I Don’t Have the Money to Launch or Update a Website.”

I know what you’re thinking.  If your business is going to have a website, it is going to be a good one.  You don’t want one that looks like everyone else’s.  I’m sure you don’t want one that looks unprofessional or adolescent.  And you absolutely do not want a website that doesn’t work right.  To get a website that is attractive, professional, and functional, you’re going to need to buy a pricey custom website, right? Wrong.  While a custom website is a great investment for some businesses, it is just an unnecessary expense for others.  Whirl Sites are a cost-effective alternative that allows you to get a website without lowering your standards.  Our templates are made to function smoothly and correctly and feature professional, eye-catching designs.

Much less expensive than a custom website, the cost of a Whirl Site is an amazing $499.  This makes a Whirl Site a very smart investment.  For a fraction of the cost of a custom website, you can increase visibility, upgrade your image, strengthen communication with customers and prospects, and broaden your target market.  Where else could you invest a mere $500 and receive so many benefits?  And remember that this one-time investment can reap benefits far into the future.  A website, unlike a paper marketing piece, can go on reaching prospects for years without re-printing or re-distribution.

I think we’ve shown that your “reasons” are really nothing more than excuses.  Furthermore, the ease and cost-effectiveness of launching a Whirl Site make your excuses seem pretty flimsy.  It’s time to quit making excuses and just give us a whirl.  We are helping small businesses and organizations across central Indiana, from Avon to Zionsville to experience the advantages of a well-designed, visually appealing website without incurring a major cost in either time or money.  We can do the same for you.  Give us a call at 317.892.9435 and we will get you started.

The Simplicity of Whirl Sites, Easy to Use Websites

easy to use websitesFew things are as simple as we’d like them to be.  One small change can too often trigger an avalanche of complications.  Take, for example, a straightforward change to your service offerings or an addition to your product line.  This can have effects throughout your business.  Changes, even relatively small ones, can also necessitate changes to your website.  You don’t want customers or prospects dealing with old information so you need to make any required changes quickly.  Fortunately, Whirl Sites are easy to use websites, which make updates simple.

Quickly Add or Update Text, Pictures, and Even Video

Whether you need to change a word or totally overhaul your content, making changes and additions to your Whirl Site is easy.  All our Whirl Sites are built on the WordPress platform, which is popular for many reasons including its ease of use.  After logging into the editor, you can type your content or paste it in from another source.  You can also swap out pictures or change the size or other attributes of images as needed.  You can even upload videos to your Whirl Site.

Make Updates Yourself Without Special Programs or Knowledge

Having to depend on someone else to perform a task automatically makes that task more complicated.  With Whirl Sites, you don’t have to wait until an IT expert is available to make updates.  You can do it yourself.  Think you don’t have the skills to do it?  That’s nonsense!  If you know how to use Microsoft Word, you can update your Whirl Sites pages.  No coding knowledge or technical experience is required.  And you don’t need to have any special software either.  Everything you need is right there on your site.

Refresh Your Memory Any Time

As simple as the process is, it may not be easily retrievable from your memory.  We get it – you have a lot on your mind!  That’s why we created a series of voice-over webcast tutorials to show you step-by-step how to get it done.  We give you tips on what to do and even what to avoid.  These videos are available for your viewing at any time.  Our videos can also be passed on to others in your business who might work on your website.  The WordPress training videos that we provide eliminate the need for you to explain the process to others you delegate to do work on your site.

As a small business owner, you make the tough decisions.  You deal with the everyday irritation.  You solve the intractable problems.  There are enough difficulties that cannot be avoided so when you find a simple option, you jump on it.  Whirl Sites are easy to use websites that help you get your message out.  Business and organizations in the greater Indianapolis are already benefitting from Whirl Sites.  We’re providing simple, affordable website solutions for businesses and organizations in Avon, Brownsburg, and Fishers.  Keep it simple and give us a Whirl!  We can get your website up in a few days with little effort on your part.  Call today (317-892-9435) or visit us online.

Virtually Limitless Website Options

website optionsEach small business or organization has its own personality.  And this comes through in your website.  Or it should.  When you design your website, it is a reflection of you.  Or it should be.  Yet when the options you have to choose from are limited, you may not really be able to find a choice that correctly reflects who you are as a business.

This is why businesses often choose a custom website.  In this model, you make all the decisions.  You can have things just how you want them.  Best of all, someone will do it for you.  But you will pay for it.  Custom websites can be quite pricey, and the more complex your tastes are, the more you will pay.  Is there another way to get a website capable of expressing the essential character of your business without paying a premium for it?  Actually, there is.  Customizable websites provide options at a cost-conscious price.

Professionally Designed Templates

Customizable websites start with a template.  These templates are designed by professional web designers.  We know what works and what doesn’t.  We know what looks good and what doesn’t.  We’ve taken the knowledge we’ve gained from working on custom websites and put it to work in our templates.  This is our starting point.

Personalized Elements

But that is just where we start.  You shouldn’t think that since you start out with a template that every website built on that template looks the same.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  This is where you can let your style show.  You can determine basic structural elements such as the number of focus boxes used and the size of the slider.  You can decide which fonts and colors best convey your brand.  Finally, express the individual character of your business or organization by adding icons and photos of your choice.

Expert Guidance

So how many possible combinations of these customizable websites exist?  Well, for you math geeks out there, taking just a couple of the variables yields the following equation:

8 templates x 140 colors x 6 fonts x 140 font colors = 940,800 possibilities

And this only takes a few of the variables into account.  This doesn’t even address structural elements, which can change your website’s look, as well as your photo and icon picks.  With all the choices available, you may need some guidance.  “Which picture would look best here?”  “How many focus boxes do I need?”  “Which colors go best with the rest of my design?”  If you find yourself unsure of design choices, that’s okay.  That’s what we’re here for.  We will give you our expert opinion to make your website look great.

As you can see, customizable websites are a great way to go.  They offer you tried and true templates, lots of options, and help from professional designers.  Whether you are in Carmel, Brownsburg, Fishers, Indianapolis, or anywhere within reach of the internet, our customizable websites will help you get your message out.  If you are ready to try one for yourself, go ahead – give us a Whirl!  Call us at 317-892-9435 today to get started.

Ongoing WordPress Managed Hosting Service

WordPress managed hosting serviceBuilding a website is a project and while you’re in the midst of the creation phase, it requires some thought and attention.  Even if you are hiring someone else to build your website, you still have decisions to make.  First, you have to decide who you will hire.  This initial decision alone takes a bit of research and decision-making.  Then you’ll have decisions about how you want your website to look, how many pages you’ll have, what content you want to include on it, and how you will want the information to be organized.  But like all projects, the creation phase of your website will end and you will stop making decisions about your website and start enjoying the fruits of what you’ve created.

The Value of WordPress Managed Hosting

At this time, you will not be thinking critically about your website and how it’s working.  In fact, you will rarely think about it at all…unless you have a problem.  That is why it is important that you consider the future while you are making choices now.  Choices you make early in the process can have consequences after your website is up and running.  One of these choices is in who will be managing your website after launch. Of the many benefits of a Whirl Sites website, one is our ongoing WordPress managed hosting service.  That string of words may not mean much to you, but it boils down to two valuable services: software updates and security.

Keeping Your Website Software Up-To-Date

Most people rarely think about the software upon which a website is built.  Invisible behind the interesting images and engaging text is the code that enables the website to run correctly.  When everything is running smoothly, there is no need to think about the software.  However, periodic maintenance is required to ensure that your site will continue running smoothly.  Whirl Sites’ hosting service will perform this maintenance and keep all software and plug-ins current.  Since this occurs behind the scenes, you can go on NOT thinking about your website and how well it is functioning!

Keeping Your Website Secure

Another concern that you may occasionally give thought to is your website’s security.  Every small business owner fears a website hack and the damage it can do.  But just worrying and hoping it won’t happen is not a very good strategy for protecting yourself.  Fortunately, as part of our hosting services, Whirl Sites is working to keep you protected.  For starters, we help you with smart password selection.  In addition to helping you be proactive against online attacks, we keep your security software up-to-date and monitor for attempted attacks.  Finally, if something does happen to breach your security, we take care of cleaning up the mess.  Again, we want you to be able to NOT think about your website and just go on enjoying it!

Do you have more questions about Whirl Sites and the ongoing WordPress managed hosting service we provide for all our websites?  We would love to discuss in more detail the comprehensive service that we provide.  We would love to talk to you about why it makes sense for small businesses who don’t have dedicated IT resources.  We would love to explain how we can make our websites and our hosting service so affordable.  Whirl Sites is based in Brownsburg, Indiana, but most of our business is done online or by phone so we are able to serve you wherever your business is located.  Whether you are in Carmel, Noblesville, Avon, Indianapolis, or Timbuktu, Whirl Sites is ready to partner with you.  Call today at 317-892-9435 to find out more or to get started.  Give us a Whirl!

Four Common Sources of Website User Frustration

website user frustrationWebsites are an ideal platform that many small businesses rely on to accomplish their marketing goals.  Businesses can use their websites to market to prospects, disseminate information, communicate special offers, and provide customer service.  No website is designed with the goal of irritating visitors.  Yet sometimes businesses launch websites that do just that.  Instead of serving the needs of prospective and current customer, they end up generating user frustration. Instead of building their brand, they just create a negative opinion of the business.  Here are four sources of frustration for website users.  You’ll want to be sure to avoid all four!

  1. Slow Loading or Moving.

    Websites that are slow to load or slow to move have a huge problem.  Patience is not a virtue in our society, and this is especially true online.  The truth is that if your website takes too long to load or to move to another page, users will not wait.  How long is too long?  While studies have been done to narrow down the threshold, in the end that doesn’t really matter.  The bottom line is that each visitor has a personal threshold – a length of time that is too long to wait.  And a faster website always has an advantage over a slower website.

  2. Media Overload.

    While it is frustrating to wait for information, it is also frustrating to be immediately bombarded by quickly moving images and loud audio.  Images, audio, and video can be powerful tools to capture viewers’ attention. However, too much can cause the user to shut down mentally.  Remember that users often come to websites with a question to be answered.  When the website hijacks the user’s experience and prevents the user from finding the answers sought, the user may leave that website and seek information elsewhere.  An additional ironic negative of media overload is that these features often have such large embedded files that they actually can use websites to load or move slowly too!

  3. Confusing Navigation.

    By and large, people are lazy, and I don’t mean this is a bad way.  It’s just that we want things to be as easy as possible.  Websites with an easy-to-follow, intuitive navigation make it easy for user.  In contrast, a confusing navigation requires users to work hard to get the information they are seeking.  In most cases, visitors will just give up and go to another website – maybe even the website of one of your competitors.

  4. Unclear or Inadequate Content.

    The look and design of your website goes a long way to capturing the attention of visitors and conveying a positive initial reaction.  However, users are not there to see your cool design. They are there to get the information they need.  So if you want to avoid annoying visitors, you need to make sure that you are providing information that is clear, correct, well-organized, and of an appropriate length.  If visitors to your website cannot understand what you are trying to say or find the content to be too short or superficial, they will go to another source.

The common thread here is that each of these frustrations has the same result – users will often give up on your website and go elsewhere.  If that is happening often, then you might as well not even have a website.  I know that is harsh, but it’s true!  So take heed to these warnings.  At Whirl Sites, we are focused on creating websites that work well and appeal to, rather than frustrate, users.  We utilize innovative technology and simple coding to ensure that our sites are quick to load. Our clean designs and intuitive navigation make it easy for users.  We can even help you upgrade your content.  Give us a call to find out how we can give you a great website that visitors will find straight-forward and beneficial instead of frustrating and unhelpful.

Is a WordPress Website Right for You?

WordPress websitesIt is no accident that Whirl Sites websites are all built using the WordPress platform.  When we began designing the templates that our customizable websites are based on, we chose to use WordPress as the content management system for our sites.  We believe that WordPress is the perfect platform for nearly every website.  But nothing works 100% of the time, right?  Well, actually there are some types of people for whom a WordPress site is not a good fit.  Check out the top 4 below.

  1. People Who Prefer ‘Complicated and Time-Consuming’ over ‘Simple and Easy’. There are a few strange people who like things to be difficult, but most of us like to keep it simple and easy.  That is exactly what WordPress does.  You can add or change content to your website by simply typing it in.  No knowledge of coding is needed.  If you can use Word, then you should be able to use WordPress.
  2. People Who Like Being Out of Control and at the Mercy of Others. Even if you are not a control freak, I doubt that you really want to relinquish control of any part of your business, including your website.  When you have a website that is built on WordPress, you don’t have to.  Since no technical knowledge is required to modify your content, you never have to wait on an outside vendor who is far less motivated to keep your website up-to-date than you are.  You can be in full control of your website and not dependent on others.
  3. People Whose Goal is Limited Choices and Diminished Growth. WordPress is extremely popular, especially for websites that include blogging, and is used by millions of people worldwide.   Thus, an enormous number of plug-ins have been developed and are available to add on to a WordPress site.  These plug-ins put a wide variety of functionality at your fingertips.  Want to monitor your traffic? No problem.  Want to boost SEO? Sure thing. With each additional feature comes an additional opportunity to grow your business.
  4. People Who Want to Keep Their Online Presence as Small as Possible. Nearly every business today is looking for ways to increase search rankings.  Just having a site that is built on WordPress gives you an advantage in this area.  Because WordPress code is so clean, search engines look upon their sites favorably.  This advantage can be increased even more when the blogging feature is utilized.

If you do not fall into any of the 4 categories above (and let’s face it, who does?), then a WordPress website is probably ideal for you.  Whirl Sites gives you a simple and cost-efficient way to get a WordPress website working for you.  Visit our website or give us a call (317-892-9435) to learn more about how easy it is to get started.

Whirl Sites: A Website Option You May Not Know About

250The explosion of online resources has definitely changed the landscape for business owners.  Entrepreneurs who wanted to start a business have always had a lot to consider, but it used to be things like the physical location of the business and how to transport goods to customers.  Now in additional to more traditional concerns, businesses must also consider things like online presence.

In today’s business atmosphere, a website has become a necessity.  Without it, not only do businesses miss out on opportunities but they may also appear incompetent, unstable, or behind-the-times.  But while every business may need a website, they don’t all need the same kind of website.  The needs of a large company often require a custom website with more advanced features.  Large companies also usually have the resources needed to develop a custom site.

But if you own a small to mid-size business or administrate a not-for-profit or other organization, the choice is not always so simple.  You don’t need an elaborate website, and you can’t afford one either.  Are DIY sites the answer?  Or maybe hiring your neighbor’s teenage son to build one for you?  Realistically, with these alternatives, you are more likely to just get frustrated than to get a quality website.  Whirl Sites gives customers another website option, one that addresses the shortcomings of other choices and provides a website that is professional and functional without spending a lot of money.

A Whirl Sites website is a customizable website which is created by professional designers.  While a custom site requires an original design and decisions at every level, a Whirl Site is built upon a foundation of our own professionally designed templates, which can be customized to give each site its own unique look.  There are a couple of advantages to this approach.  First of all, since the templates have already been designed and tested, we know that it works.  There is no need to work out the bugs so we can get your site up and running right away.  Second, we don’t have to re-invent the wheel with each website or spend time creating a more complicated website than what your business requires.  We will give you a website that has all that you need but only what you need.  Finally, because of our streamlined process, our sites are more affordable than your typical custom site.

Do you know you need a website but aren’t sure where to get one that fits your needs?  All you need is a site that looks good, functions seamlessly, and doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.  Is that too much to ask?  At Whirl Sites, we don’t think so!  Visit our website or call us at 317-892-9435 to learn more about how to get started.

Low-cost Answer to “Mobilegeddon” – Google’s Mobile Requirement

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 9.06.43 PM

So you’ve heard that Google is changing their search requirements to heavily reward websites that are mobile responsive?  Many media outlets have labeled it “mobilegeddon” and promise doomsday results for small business who can’t afford this expensive solution, right?

Mobile Responsive doesn’t have to be expensive!

That’s right, it’s not just big business that can afford mobile responsive website design and avoid mobilegeddon.  Whirl Sites is one answer that gives small business owners an easy way to upgrade their website to a mobile responsive design.  Just $399 and your business can be on the same level as enterprize level organizations.  Don’t let this panic you, it takes us 2-4 days to get your website up and running typically.

What Does Mobile Responsive Mean?

Maybe we need to back up here and define terms.  All the fancy term “mobile responsive” means, is that we code your website to respond to the screen size it’s being used on.  Be that a phone, tablet, or huge monitor, it will look beautiful if it’s done right.  It also ensures that your text, photos, and navigation fit on the screen just right so that the user doesn’t have to zoom with their fingers on those smaller devices.  Google is doing this “mobilegeddon” because their users are mostly using tablets and phones, so it actually makes sense.

What Are You Waiting For? Don’t Get Hit By Mobilegeddon!

It’s not worth waiting to see how bad the damage will be for your business once Google gets things updated.  You don’t want to lose a single customer over this when it only costs you $399 to get it fixed.  Contact us today if you have questions, or just sign up here!

5 Ways Your Website Is Hurting Your Business

5 Ways FB Photo

_0009_iPhone-5c-BlueIt’s Not Mobile Responsive

Reports around the globe are crystal clear; nearly everyone on earth is going to have a smart phone in the next few years. Even third-world countries who have little other technology are jumping on board.

According to CNN, in February mobile traffic surpassed desktop device traffic for this first time in history. Now, more than 55% of all internet traffic is mobile. So what does that mean for your business if you are not onboard?

So what does mobile responsive mean? It means that a website “responds” to the size screen on which it is being rendered. When coded correctly, it means that all of your website information is formatted perfectly for whatever size screen is being used. As you know, from a small iPhone 3GS screen to a larger iPad, there are literally dozens of screen sizes. Mobile responsive makes your website render perfect for them all.

How Does That Hurt You?

If your website is not mobile-ready, less people are reading about your business, plain and simple. You are loosing customers because they load your site and can’t read the tiny text. People are very impatient with technology, and statistics prove that users move on when they can’t immediately find information they want.

Does your business have walk-in customers? This problem is compounded for you. People look up your website via mobile phone to find your address, call you, make reservations, and many other ways to get them through your door. You are losing customers at an alarming rate if your site is not mobile.

_0044_Painting

It’s Designed Unprofessionally

Never underestimate the power of a great design. I challenge you to find a smashingly successful business whose website design is dated or notably unprofessional. There are ways to get around this hurtle without busting the bank, but don’t discount it. Even if design is not important to you, it speaks to your customers.

How Does That Hurt You?

Think of it this way: Would you go to a client meeting without brushing your hair or dressing nicely? Then why would you allow your website, the first impression many people will have of your business, look unprofessional?

 

_0063_Writing-Doc

The Text and Content Is Unclear

Have you ever been on a website and thought, “what does this company even do?”. As a web professional, I can tell you that I see this every week. Business owners tend to want to write their own content to save some marketing dollars. This is often a huge mistake.

How Does That Hurt You?

When a website is unclear about what your company does, how can a client decide if they need your services? Even if you are able to clearly state what your company does, most fail to give a unique selling proposition. Why are you better than your competitors? Why should I choose you above everyone else? What really makes the difference? Getting your copy (text) right is crucial in turning website visitors into customers!

_0094_PhoneYour Contact Information Is Hard To Find

This one drives people crazy. They get on your website, have made the decision to take the next step with you, but they can’t find any way to contact you. Many websites only have a contact form with no other way to get in touch. Those are good, but what if they want to email you directly? What if they just want to pick up the phone and call?

How Does That Hurt You?

Hopefully I don’t really have to answer this for you. We as business owners already have enough barriers to our success, so this one is easy to overcome. Your website should list every way imaginable to get in touch with you, and it should be EASY to find. Your phone number should be on every page of your website in most cases. If your site does not clearly post your contact information, you are losing customers.

_0007_ChatNothing Is Happening!

This opportunity is overlooked by the vast majority of businesses, even some successful ones. However, there is no doubt in my mind that they are losing customers by neglecting it. Most websites are now built on a content management system that allows you to update your site regularly with recent and relevant information. Your website should not remain unchanged for the entire year, it looks like no one is home.

One easy way to address this problem is to bring your social media feeds into your website. People will see your recent posts and see that you are doing business. Another idea is to ask your clients for testimonials and regularly add new ones. These are great social media posts, and it shows that your business is active.

Last, adding a blog to your website is great tool to communicate regularly with your customers. It gives you an opportunity to show them that you are an expert in your field. Don’t get caught talking about yourself too much though, give them valuable information that helps them!

How Does That Hurt You?

I have seen clients who do this well, and it brings in new clients on a regular basis. Do you have to add content to your site regularly? No, but it’s a missed opportunity. Google ranks pages higher who have recent and relevant content, your customers see you are engaged, and it convinces customers to go with you over your competition. It’s worth it to spend time on your content regularly.

_0017_LightbulbOur Solution: Whirl Sites

There are many ways to correct the problems on your website. A great custom website developer will cost you thousands, but there are also DIY solutions out there that help you setup your own website virtually free.

For many businesses, I think both solutions are a bad fit. Custom solutions are great, but way too costly. DIY solutions take too much of your precious time, and often end up looking unprofessional anyway.

Whirl Sites is a new category between these two options. For $399, we setup your website for you, so you don’t waste time. We save you thousands in design fees delivering you a website that is ready for your content. We even provide professional photography that fits your business on every page.

Let us know if we can help you improve your web presence today!

I Need a Website Fast!

I need a website and I need it right now!

Is that you? Are you searching Google for a fast website solution, but can’t seem to come up with the answer?

Option 1: DIY

There are really only two kinds of solutions to consider. You could try to create a website yourself with one of the many DIY tools. There really are some great tools that allow you to do this for a very reasonable cost. I will warn you though, it’s not as easy as it looks.

Most people either fail to complete the project on their own, or they end up with a website that looks unprofessional because of the failed use of colors, graphics, photos, and fonts.  People also fail with these offerings because they don’t really have the hours available to devote to such a project.  As easy as they make it looks, it WILL take you hours and days to get a great website up and working.  (If you get it working.)

If you go this route, I would recommend either SquareSpace or Wix.  These are robust services if you have the time to do your research and get this big project done yourself.
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