As a primer for this year, we at 4CDesignWorks wanted to look at some key factors that should be part of your strategy moving forward.  Buckle up, things could get bumpy!

Some of these key factors are:

  1. The Importance of Hosting
  2. WordPress Content Editing & ‘Page Building’
  3. Get Your Legal Team Involved

Hosting is (and always will be) important

Selecting a provider can be a pain.  There are now so many out there!  Some offer multiple years of hosting at a discounted cost, others may allow you to register your domain AND get hosting, and there are even those that specify in a type of hosting (such as WordPress).

The better hosting vendors are ones that have baked-in options to add and/or include the following:

  • Security scanning and malware protection
  • Backup features (typically daily and/or on-demand)
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • Optimization tools that will compress imagery, minify CSS, and manage cache
  • Compress HTML via Gzip
  • Have great 24/7 support
  • Scalability for growth

Based on the traffic of your website and the various requirements/needs – there could be more than one host that fits your bill.  In some cases, a whole new website may not be needed, but a move in hosting provider – or reevaluating the plan you may be on.

As previously seen in the topic of page speed and SEO in 2020 – hosting can be an integral factor in this, as more sites and companies strive for better, faster, and more focused mobile website organization/layout.

There are now multiple hosting providers that have WordPress specific offering – in which case a switch, along with some optimization techniques – makes a huge difference in the same exact site!

WordPress page building changes the way content will be edited

As of this writing, if you have WordPress and have yet to see this new(ish) block editor – it may be due to the Classic Editor being enabled.  While we have had several clients dislike the block editor and choose the previous more streamlined way of managing content – once 2022 rolls around, the Classic Editor may not be supported anymore!  Now, there is a chance that it could still work beyond that date, but banking on that is not sound of strategy.

Gutenberg is the page builder baked-into WordPress as the response to other website builders.  The rise in popularity of these came within the past 6 years and the ability to change every page was a driving reason why!

Coming from the perspective of those that simply want to just manage content – the block builder can be overkill and even intimidating.  Simple pages are now a bit more complex for the office administrator to create or edit.  Also, this tends to create backward compatibility issues in some of the test sites we’ve seen – leading to the need to recreate pages (or even an entire website).

It isn’t all bad news, however.  If there is a site that potentially leaned very heavily on a page builder for general construction and layout of multiple pages, a new lighter weight theme can be used with Gutenberg blocks to create these pages.  This all helps in page speed and searchability as what was once another plugin potentially bogging down the site can be replaced with something that comes standard within WordPress.

At 4C, we see this as more of a supportive reason to be critical of certain ‘off the shelf’ themes – as many heavily rely on page builders and scripts to provide visual composition – as opposed to focusing on content and then formatting said content.  Many times, a content strategy will be just as helpful to ensure your website is attractive and informative, striking that critical balance, as opposed to looking like reading a boring manual or simply looking at an advertisement that is all flash and no substance!

Some needs can work their way into requirements, such as considering if archiving is a better work-flow than manually entering bits of content more than once – or considering the use of custom post types and how they can help make the content management experience better for all involved.

Check what your website needs with your legal team

There have been some laws that are either in effect or going into effect. 

Effective January 1, 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) introduces new data privacy rights for California residents – forcing companies that conduct business in the state of California to implement structural changes to their privacy programs and cookie acceptance policies to include a “Do Not Sell” opt-out.  If this sounds familiar, it’s likely you have seen or heard of ‘The Cookie Law’ or General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR has been boiled down to many websites using a notification that essentially informs the viewer that cookies are at use in the site and that viewing the site, you (as the user) are a-OK with that! 

After these items of alphabet soup, we have the topic of accessibility.  Legally, your website must be accessible to everyone and designed to work with assistive technologies, like screen readers, to give users with disabilities access to the same products, information, services that are available to everyone. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and ensures “equal enjoyment” of all goods and services.  We can see a world where this will continue to be strongly enforced in the coming years.

To close, the web is changing every day, and your web presence will have to change with it.  Popular browsers rise and the general uses for them have grown and changed exponentially.  Because of this a sound strategy and effective planning in determining your goals and requirements will go a long way to having a site that will sustain you for multiple years.  Personally, I’ve always looked at websites as a lot like cars – they work every day to get people to and from a destination.  If you can get 5 solid years out of a website, then it’s made it’s ROI.  Typically, around that time they need for re-evaluation is needed and the website should be different by that time, to reflect the company!

Contact 4CDesignWorks today to learn more about our offerings and/or get our opinion on your website via a health check.

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