There won’t be a business in the world that won’t have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For some, it’s been a rapid learning curve in adapting.
For others, the lockdown has exposed deep cracks in their business practices, leaving them vulnerable to both current and future disruptions.
That’s why forward planning is crucial, and that includes taking steps now to secure and maximise your business’s online capabilities as we move into the ‘new normal’.
Our new series of articles look at what your business can do now to make sure your online presence is robust, flexible and most of all, adaptable.
This won’t be the first upheaval your business will need to weather, so time spent on reviewing and securing your online ‘estate’ is time very well spent.
The future starts here
Your first move should be to take a good hard look at what you already have online, and ask the following questions.
Is it up to date?
Start with your website. When did you last update the text? (If you can’t remember, it’s time to act now!) When did you last write a blog? How old are the photos? These are all changes you can usually make through your website’s CMS (back end).
Look at the actual design. Does it look dated and tired? Does it reflect your current branding?
If not, think about a new design that’s fresh and engaging - we can help you with this.
Does it work on all devices?
This is critical. You may not look at any websites on your smartphone, but a lot of people do. Most searches are now made on mobile devices including phones and tablets. If your website look terrible on a mobile, you’ll be loosing a massive amount of potential customers who simply won’t be able to read it.
If your website looks awful on anything other than a desktop screen, you need to update the whole site. Today’s websites are built in a quite different way to, say, five years ago. A while back, Akira Studio moved from Joomla! to WordPress as our creation software of choice. One of the main reasons was that WordPress automatically updates to the latest version, so your website always looks great on the latest devices.
Yes, it’s an expense to have what is essentially a new website, but it pays dividends for years to come. It’s also much easier for you to update, and for us too as part of our monthly maintenance service.
Is the hosting and maintenance robust?
Hosting may seem geeky, but it’s important.
- Basic hosting can be restrictive, unreliable and go down for long periods, taking your website with it.
- Professional quality hosting is robust, with 99.98% uptime, the latest security features, rapid access, automatic backups, and more.
Needless to say, Akira Studio only use professional hosting services for our websites. All websites are hosted on servers in their country of operation, so you can be sure of the high levels of privacy and security for your data.
Does it reflect what you offer?
If your website was built even three years ago, chances are you’ve added new products or services, and dropped others. The way you sell may also have changed, including different ways to describe what you offer to customers.
Take an hour or two to look at the pages on your website. Are they all still relevant? Use Google Analytics and/or your website stats to work out which pages earn their keep in terms of visitors, and which ones don’t. If so, what do the popular pages have that the unpopular ones don’t?
Have a think about new pages you might want too. If you want to give customers and clients more information on a specific subject, is it better as a page or an article/blog? Can you website cope with more information in other formats such as PDFs, videos, audio recordings?
Can you expand your online offering rapidly?
This is about accessibility and flexibility - and ecommerce.
Several Akira customers saw their standard retail outlets for their products close down in rapid succession, leaving them no outlet for their goods. Since they had up to date websites in WordPress hosted by us, we were able to create a whole e-commerce solution if required. Clients could update their text themselves, and add new factsheets, PDFs, etc. That would not have been possible if the clients had an older website without the capacity to expand. (We’ll explore e-commerce in more details in a forthcoming article).
Can you easily update content or products?
Key to that e-commerce success was the ability of the clients to log in to the website backend and upload product details themselves. (It’s actually remarkable easy once you’ve got the hang of it.) The same applies to content: if your business had to close physical offices, a simple way to update your home page means you can change these details once the government begins to lift restrictions.
Is it secure against cyber attack?
Criminals love older websites - they are so much easier to hack into than new ones. Your small local business website is at risk if it’s not got the latest level of security to deter hackers and make them look elsewhere for easier targets. The latest version of the web building platform, hosted on professional quality servers with high level encryption and security, will help keep your website secure now and into the future.
Is your social media up to date too?
With popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, etc, you don’t need to worry about hosting or software updates. However, it does need to be up to date, relevant and accurate. If you haven’t posted for a while, do it today! Nothing says “closed” faster than your last post being over a month old or opening times for your shop saying 9am to 5pm if it’s been closed during lockdown.
Change your opening times, update your status, and keep clients and customers informed. Even if you literally cannot work or sell at the moment, still keep posting. Put up pictures and videos of what you have achieved or made or created before lockdown. If you’re volunteering or making PPE, say so. Keep a positive tone and engage with people. You have the time, after all. (We’ll explore ways to communicate with clients other than face to face in our next article.)
Ask Akira - we can help you
At Akira, we’ve been working harder than ever during lockdown. Forward-thinking clients in every market and at every level have been working with us improve, adapt and update their websites and online estate, ready for when lockdown starts to ease. They are creating new ways of working, new methods to reach out, innovative ways to sell.
If you want to be one of them, call us.