Chrome is Updating and Leaving Mixed Pages Behind

In an announcement on October 3rd, it was revealed that Google Chrome will be phasing out access to pages with mixed content, citing user security. 

 

What Does This Mean?

If your website has secure https:// connections, but includes media without secure linking, Chrome will flag the page as insecure. Beginning in December 2019, Chrome 79 will allow users to toggle their security settings. They will be able to allow the browser to access insecure scripts and otherwise blocked content. Google will release Chromes 80 and 81 in early 2020 and promise to upgrade media with http:// security to https:// automatically. The update will allow mixed images to load, but with a “Not Secure” warning appearing in the Omnibox. 

 

How Does Mixed Content Affect User Security?

Mixed content provides malicious website builders an opportunity to tamper with content to influence visitors to the page. They can do this by adding cookie trackers to hidden scripts or messing with media links. Due to the prevalence of https:// security, and the relative lack of upsides to having mixed content, Chrome has decided that it’s more efficient to block all mixed content and upgrade the passive content of images, audio, and video.

 

Is My Website At Risk of Being Blocked?

Always make sure to check that your website is up and running and complying with all search engine and browser guidelines, but chances are that the largest risks to your site will get upgraded by Chrome with Chrome 80 and 81. If you would like some easy and/or free ways to quickly check your website for potentially blocked pages, check out Search Engine Journal’s article on the update. A number of good resources appear at the bottom of the page.

If you would like help building or maintaining your law firm’s website, contact us here at Mockingbird Marketing. The services we offer include web design and SEO for your business, as well as web-traffic monitoring and PPC.

Structuring Your Page for SEO

Whether you’re building a page for an article, a blog, a product review, or a practice area, the way you structure your page is vital for Search Engine Optimization. From the design to the programming to the writing, you should always keep the big picture in mind before publishing.

 

Design

Your webpage should also be user-friendly first. This means the visuals are pleasing and the color scheme is easy to read. If the website looks good enough for the consumer to stay and read its contents, you’re on the right track. For improved reading and improved SEO, make sure you use headings in your text. These allow readers to easily scroll through your text to find the section they’re looking for, and it lets Google know the contents of the website. Don’t be afraid of having multiple “Heading 1’s,” as Google has ensured webmasters that despite certain less than honest tactics, the search engine can look past them.

 

Programming

The success of your site should rest on a foundation of solid programming, with special consideration taken to page speed and crawler accessibility. I’ll be honest, I know nothing about programming or coding, but if you’re building a website you or someone on your team should. 

 

Writing

As mentioned before, make sure your content is properly labeled with headings. As for the actual writing, try not to be Hemmingway or James Joyce. You want your writing to be comprehensive, but not rambling. If possible, work links into your writing as naturally. This will help Google connect your page to other pages on your website, as well as other websites. 

Your website is your company’s connection to the largest human network in history, and if you don’t set it up for people to visit you are wasting time and money. If you need help setting up a website for your law firm contact us here at Mockingbird Marketing. Optimizing web pages is what we do!

Title Tags: What They Are, How They Work, and How to Write Them

Those working with WordPress/Yoast SEO will know title tags from setting up their homepage, but not much beyond that. Due to this, it can be easy to neglect title tags when building a website. This is a mistake, and I’ll tell you why.

 

What they are

Title tags are incredibly important to SEO and page rankings by helping to communicate the purpose of the page in its code. HTML title tags are similar to page headlines but are often more to the point and describe the basic function of the page. A seen below, the page title for the New York Times is “The New York Times,” but the title tag (visible in the scroll-over text in the upper left-hand corner) is “The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia.” 

 

How they work

Title tags work by telling search engines the content of the page. This is how title tags can improve rankings: a well tagged page will make it easier for the search engine to connect users with the website. If the tags are relevant to the page, it will show up in relevant searches, even if none of the keywords from the page title are searched.

 

How to write them

As previously stated, title tags need to be relevant to the content of the page, with specific enough keywords for search engines to be able to categorize them. This focus on keywords might make it tempting to cram your title tag full of any relevant word or phrase, but be warned: Google automatically trims long title tags. This can be seen above, where “The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia” is cut into “The New York Times – Breaking News, World News …” If Google considers your tag too long or insufficiently informative, they will rewrite them. If your title tags are concise and informative, Google will probably leave them as you wrote them. In summary: you can make your title tags long if you want to, but Google might take over.

You Should Care About Accessibility

Recently I had a client cut me off mid-sentence with, “I’m going to stop you right there, I don’t care about that”.

I was in the middle of telling him why his current website did not meet WCAG guidelines and how we would fix this during redesign. We moved onto the next line item and I couldn’t stop thinking about why he should care. Everyone should care about making your site accessible.

Let’s say you are building your own store from the ground up.  There are specific requirements that you need to meet so that your building is up to code. You want as many people to be able to enter your store as possible, right? The same thing goes for your website. Your website is your digital storefront and should want to make sure that everyone can interact with it.

According to W3.org, web accessibility is defined as:

Web accessibility means that websites, tools, and technologies are designed and developed so that people with disabilities can use them. More specifically, people can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web and contribute to the Web.

Here are some quick numbers for you. According to interactiveaccessibility.com with data from 2012:

• 56.7 Million Americans (18% of the population) have some type of disability

• An estimated 38.3 Million (12.6% of the population) have a severe disability

• 19.9 Million people (8.2% of the population) have difficulty lifting or grasping, making it difficult for them to use a mouse or keyboard.

• 15.2 Million people (6.3% of the population) have a cognitive, mental or emotional impairment

• 8.1 Million people (3.3% of the population) have a vision impairment and may need to rely on screen magnifiers or screen readers. They might also have some form of color blindness

• 7.6 Million (3.1% of the population) have a hearing impairment. Do the videos on your site have transcripts or captions?

There is a possibility that potential clients can’t utilize your site in some aspect, resulting in them leaving your site. Making your site accessible doesn’t only benefit users with disabilities either but making your site accessible to everyone no matter their situation. It means making your site accessible to users on mobile devices with smaller screens, elderly users with changing abilities, users who are impacted by “temporary disabilities” like a broken hand or people with “situational limitations” like being outside in bright light or in a waiting room where they can’t listen to audio.

Accessibility on the web is important and as a business owner, you should care about if your site is accessible or not.

Why We Start Design Projects with a ‘Discovery Phase’

We start every digital project with a discovery phase, which is an initial research period that will help provide structure during the design process. This research phase provides propose and direction to both us and the client when creating a digital solution. The discovery phase also helps identify potential roadblocks before we start designing or building a website and allows for more informed decisions throughout the cycle of the project. We don’t just want to build what a client asks us to build, we aim to build a successful product that aligns with the client’s business goals, appeals to their users, and helps them stand out from the competition.

How do we do this at Mockingbird? We break down the discovery phase into three categories.

Business Goals and Client Perceptions

  • Business Goals
  • Internal Perception

We start the conversation by finding out where the client falls within their current market and where they’d like to be headed. This requires an understanding of their current business goals, relative strengths and weaknesses, and competitive advantages within their industry or geographic area.

We have a client questionnaire that goes over internal perceptions to help identify any unique points that make a firm stand out and appeal to potential clients.

User Behavior and Customer Desires

  • Demographics
  • User Behavior Through Analytics

Next, we want to answer the question, “Who are we designing for?” We gather as much information, mostly by gathering analytics and running our own report, to define who the client’s current website users are and how can we appeal to them. No matter what field of practice, hiring an attorney is a fairly emotional ordeal. We want appeal to the right desires. We want to imagine the website from their perspective. In doing so, we can appeal to their emotions and make it as simple as possible to contact your firm.

Market Landscape and Opportunities

  • What Competitors Are Doing
  • Your Position Within the Market

Finally, we want to find the room for opportunity. What are competitors doing? Are they all doing the same thing? Is the client’s market saturated with law firm websites showcasing the same interchangeably well-tailored lawyers with crossed arms, touting their millions of dollars recovered? We don’t want our clients to blend into the crowd of attorneys, we want to show off how each firm is unique and prove they stand above the competition.

By taking a step back and looking at the entire landscape before starting any of the actual site mockups we’re able to take a more data driven approach to the design process. It’s not enough to build a website that loads fast and looks great. The true differentiator comes from creating a site that sets each client apart from their competitors, aligns with the emotional needs of their clients, and helps them achieve their firm’s business goals. The discovery phase is a key first step and helps build the foundation for each successful website.

Webinar: ADA Compliance – From a Lawyer and Designer

Listen to Mockingbird’s Design Lead, Ryan Sprouse and Taft Stettinius & Hollister’s IP, IT and Data Security Partner, Jeff Kosc to get down and dirty about ADA Compliance for websites. This webinar showcases what it’s actually like to interact with the web while disabled, reviews Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and discuss the most current legal thinking and precedent regarding ADA Compliance lawsuits related to websites.

 

Taking a Content First Approach to Website Design

The main goal of a law firm’s website is to create a solution that meets their target audience’s needs and encourages conversions by getting visitors to contact the firm. Understanding your target audience and your firm’s business goals is the driving factor behind website content. We want to convey your firm’s narrative in a way that’s clear, concise, and emotionally appealing to potential clients. Below are key reasons why your firm should start every website project with a content first approach.

Tackling content first helps shape design and saves time.

Agreeing on content structure helps eliminate two major obstacles: creating new content to fit the design AND needing to edit old content to fit an updated design. Both of those events are avoidable if you create a design with content in mind. This can cut down on rounds of revisions where you may end up making small content changes and allows the designer to present your content visually in a way that appeals to the user’s emotions and conveys your firm’s story.

A solid content plan speeds up the workflow of the project.

Frequently, the biggest road block when creating a new website for a client is waiting for content. Establishing the structure and content needed before the design eliminates this obstacle so you don’t end up waiting on content decisions when the site is almost ready for launch. Developing a plan for content at the start of the project will help clarify who will be creating new content, when it needs to be created, and how that content is going to be structured before anything is designed. Instead of waiting in the middle of a project, we establish this up front for an optimal workflow.

A content first approach makes for a better user experience.

When the design is built around the content, the user has a consistent experience across the website. All practice areas look uniform and aren’t structured differently, location pages have all the necessary content for Google My Business and are displayed the same. We want the user to know they are on a location page or a contact page, not guess because one office’s content is displayed differently than another. Uniformity not only helps speed up the website because there’s less code, but when users navigate the site everything reinforces one uniform message about your firm. With a content first approach, we know what to display from mobile to desktop and how the content will scale in different views and sizes.

Content planning provides scalability and structure moving forward.

Often, content will be managed post launch by someone in your firm. Having the content structured and following an outline helps scale the website in consistency and design. Someone who wasn’t present during the design process can manage the content afterwards without missing a beat.

In short, a lot of the difficulties that pop up during the design and development process can be mitigated if you spend some time planning out what you want to convey with your website, and more specifically, what type of content you’re going to use to communicate that message.

Jeffrey Zeldman Quote on Content in web design

Quote from Jeffrey Zeldman, a legend in the web design world.

Tips to Make Sure Your Website Is Accessible

What is Web Accessibility?

What does the word accessibility mean? A quick Google search on “Accessibility” yields a result from Wikipedia stating, “Accessibility is the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people with disabilities.”

Google search result for Accessibility

 

Why Does It Matter?

The overall goal of web accessibility is to ensure that a website’s content and functionality is visible and can be operated by anyone. As a business owner you want to make sure that your website can be used by all of your potential clients. In order for you to reach the widest audience possible, your website has to be accessible.

What kinds of disabilities are we talking about?
  • Auditory
  • Cognitive
  • Neurological
  • Physical
  • Speech
  • Visual

Accessibility doesn’t always pertain to individuals who have disabilities. Web accessibility also includes:

  • Mobile devices, smart watches, smart TV’s, etc
  • Aging individuals
  • Individuals who are experiencing temporary disabilities like a broken arm
  • Individuals with situational limitations such as being outdoors where there is bright light or in a library where they cannot listen to audio

How to Ensure Your Website is Accessible:

Listed below are some simple steps you can check to see if your website is accessible on a basic level.

Page Titles:

Page titles are a short description of a webpage. They appear at the top of the browser as well as in the SERPs. They are used by screen readers as well as bookmarks and favorites. Make sure that you have a title that sufficiently describes the content on your webpage.

 

Title tag for Mockingbird website

Alternative (alt) tags:

Alt tags are used to describe an image when an image fails to load. They are also used by screen readers for users who may not be able to see the image. You can check to see if an image has alt tags within your content management system. Make sure that all alt tags are descriptive and specific.

Headings:

Headings are important for the overall structure of the page. Headings are ranked from H1 to H6 with H1 being the most important. Headings are also crucial for people who cannot use a mouse. Headings provide structure for people to navigate through the webpage with a keyboard or a screen reader. Make sure all pages within your website has an <h1> level heading for the title of the page. For more information regarding headings and how to correctly use them, check out Yoast’s outline on how to use headings properly.

Contrast:

It is easy to overlook something as simple as color when it comes to accessibility. Color contrast is important to keep in mind when designing a website. People who have impaired vision may not be able to read content on your website if the colors don’t comply with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). To check whether your website follows the WCAG guidelines, you can use a contrast checker.

Check Your Site

The simple steps above are just the tip of the iceberg when in comes to web accessibility. Use this outline to quickly check if your website meets some of the basic requirements for digital accessibility and be certain that your website can reach the widest audience possible.

 

To read more into web accessibility, check out any of the websites below.

https://www.w3.org/WAI/

https://webaim.org/

https://www.washington.edu/accessibility/web/

 

How to Assess the Success of a Website Redesign

Not all website redesigns are created equal. In many cases, updating a website is the obvious starting point for addressing technical issues, modernizing design and usability, or updating your brand. Done correctly, a new website should offer a boost to your overall business.

Key metrics to look at when assessing whether a new website is successful:

  • Site speed
  • Organic traffic
  • Usability
  • Conversions

Each of these metrics can be tackled by answering the questions below.

How do technical benchmarks compare against your previous site?

By analyzing site speed, on page scripts, image optimization, outdated plugins, and even the platform the site is hosted on, you can get a pretty accurate picture of whether the new website offers an improvement over what you had before.

Unless you’re adding massive new functionality or downsizing your firm, there shouldn’t be any reason to take a step backwards in terms of site speed or hosting. Moving your hosting platform can potentially tank your site, and developers with no understanding of how search engines actually work can build a nice looking site on a terrible foundation.

Ideally, your new website should only show improvements or equivalencies when it comes to technical benchmarks.

Site Speed Before and After
The dramatic improvement in site speed between old (above) and new (below) is one key indicator a recent redesign was a success.

Are more people finding the site organically?

Although it’s not uncommon to see a dip in traffic following the launch of a new website, one of the best indicators that things are going well in the search engines is an increase in organic traffic.

All pages you’re trying to drive traffic to should be indexed in Google (and the search engine also rans) and getting visitors. Post launch increases in organic traffic are a great indicator that smart decisions were made during the website redesign process.

Do potential clients find it easier to navigate?

You want your new site to be as easy to use as possible. Prospects shouldn’t be struggling to find information or get to the appropriate internal pages. Without using tools like Hotjar to monitor user sessions, the best way to gauge the performance of your new website is by comparing bounce rate, average page views, and time spent on site against the previous iteration.

If people are less likely to leave, looking at more of your content, and spending longer on your new website, that’s a great indicator that things are going well.

How do your conversion rates compare with the old site?

Even if traffic is up and people are spending more time interacting with your new site, it’s not a true win if they’re not requesting your services. By comparing the old site’s conversion rates against the new one you’ll get an accurate picture of the incremental improvement between the two.

Regardless of traffic, if a higher percentage of visitors are reaching out to learn more about whether your firm can help them, it’s a strong signal that your redesign improved your ability to generate new business.

Is it helping you achieve your business goals?

The ultimate goal of your redesign is to get more business. This can mean more clients, higher value clients, or even a shift in which portion of your practice you’re trying to prioritize. Although it’s not always directly tied to driving revenue, that’s definitely the most common goal.

Very few firms are effectively tracking marketing on a cost per client level, but even if it’s only being looked at on a cost-per-inquiry basis, reducing the cost you pay for each qualified lead shows the money you spend on a website redesign was an investment rather than an expense.

Summary

Website redesigns can be extremely expensive and failing to take a data driven approach is a great way to burn money and create massive frustration. Projects of this scope should be approached as an investment in your business and any good agency will work with you to measure the results of their work, continue to refine and improve post-launch, and push for decisions during the redesign process that will not just “look nice” but actually help your firm be more successful.