Free Web Site & Branding Tools I use & Recommend
Jenna Redfield is the leader of the Twin Cities Collective, the largest resource in the Twin Cities for bloggers, small business, entrepreneurs & creatives.
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You're listening to the Twin Cities Collective podcast conversations with creatives with your host Jenny Redfield. This podcast is all about talking to local entrepreneurs, bloggers, small business owners, as well as just creative people that are living in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. If you're new to the Twin Cities Collective, make sure to go to our website Twin Cities Collective calm, as well as join our Facebook group facebook.com forward slash groups forward slash Twin Cities Collective, and make sure to let us know that you found out about us through the podcast. I hope you guys enjoy this episode. And make sure to subscribe on iTunes. Let's get started with the podcast, everyone. Welcome to this week's episode of the Twin Cities Collective podcast. I apologize, I did not get an episode up on Monday. Last week, I spent a lot of time preparing for the web design and branding panel. So I just didn't have time this week to record an episode. But I really wanted to share with you guys this solo episode, it's gonna be a little bit shorter than our average interview episode. I'm really excited because I'm going to be talking about a few of the different tools that I use to improve my website. So let's get started. So the very first thing that I wanted to share about is what platform I use. Now we've talked about it in previous episodes of the podcast about the differences between WordPress and Squarespace. But honestly, I have switched all of my websites over to Squarespace. Now that's just a personal preference, I tend to find that Squarespace is a lot easier to handle. I think that they basically can do everything that I need them to I use both the e commerce and the non ecommerce sites. And they're really, really amazing. What I also love about Squarespace is their amazing support, which most WordPress sites don't really get, you're kind of on your own. When you use WordPress, it's very hard to find people that can help you out unless you hire someone with Squarespace. They have a huge list of forums, they have 24 hour 724 seven feedback. Again, we're not sponsored by support space. But that's personally what I use. That's what our Twin Cities Collective website is on. So when I was first getting started with Squarespace and with websites in general, I used to be on WordPress. That's what I used before. I have found over the years, a few different tools that helped me grow my website, make it look better, figure out where people are going on the website. So I want to share five or six of those with you today. So the first thing I want to share is a few tools that help you understand when you look at other people's websites, what they're actually using. So the first website I want to talk to you about is called built with calm. And built with com also has own Chrome extension, which is what I usually use. So if you're using Google Chrome, you can download this and add it to your Chrome extension. But what it is, is if you go to a website and you're curious, hey, what website platform are they using? Are they using WordPress? Are they using show it? Are they using wicks? Are they using Squarespace, what you do is you click the extension, and it tells you all the information. It also tells you plugins they may be using. It tells you all these different things about the website that you will have to look into the code to figure out. So if you do know coding, then you could just look in the source code to find that. But basically what this extension does is it makes it easier for people that don't understand code to know what it is. Once you figure out what it is using, if it's Squarespace or if it's WordPress, there are other sites that can further tell you what the name of the theme is there using. And so I've gone to WordPress theme detector, which is another website. And then also within Squarespace, you can actually find within the code, a series of numbers that will tell you which template they're using. So there's a lot of ways to figure out what other people are using. So if you really like a certain website, again, you don't want to copy that website. But you might take a few hints be like okay, well, this is how they used to get it started. Now if you are using WordPress, which honestly, I don't have anything negative to say about WordPress, I think it's a great site. A lot of people I know recently have been using this one theme, and I would recommend it just if I were to go back to WordPress, I would definitely use the theme DDIVI. And it is from the company Elegant Themes. Now this theme I believe is around $100, which is kind of steep for those of you who may be starting out. But that is what I would use it's very easy drag and drop. And that is something that I would recommend changing too. If you're already on WordPress. There are a lot of themes out there. But this one I've heard is probably the best and most WordPress WordPress designers are using Divi. So that's just my few recommendations for figuring out which platform to use. Now, once you have a blog or website going, there's a few tools that I use to get feedback on how people are actually using the site. The first one that I use is called peak user testing. Now you might not know what user testing is, or but when I explain it to you, you'll probably understand. So user testing is a website, they test out your website and give you feedback. So they charge I believe, like $50 for someone to go into depth and go through your website and give feedback. But every month they allow one peak user tests. So PEKPEK, excuse me, PEK dot user testing calm. And I'll have all these links in the description. But what you do is you type in your URL, and you figure out from there, this form that you fill out. And then within 24 hours you get send an email that has a video of someone going through your website and answering three basic questions. It's usually under 10 minutes. And what they do is they give their honest feedback. I've done this many times over the last two or three years. You can only do one a month. But so every time it's July 1 or August 1, I almost was like, Oh yeah, I can now do another peak test. I've done some updates on my website, I want to see if it makes sense. What are people confused with. So if you want someone that's super, super random, and has no idea what your website is, this is the perfect way to do that. In addition, I just want to announce that me myself, Janet Redfield, I'm now also doing this. And I'm going to be doing a big discount on it, it's going to be $15. And you get a 15 minute walkthrough of your website. And I will just be going through and telling you some feedback. So it was originally going to be $30. But I've actually lowered the price to 15 for this Twin Cities Collective the listeners. So make sure to put that promo code in and the promo code will be Twin Cities Collective. And then you will get that discount for $15 for a 15 minute overview of your website, and I'll give you as much feedback as I can about how to update your website, how to add better photos, how to do all that. So I just wanted to share that, I would recommend getting first to peak user test, changing that up. And then when you're ready for that get a website audit from someone who does web design or web website, you know, graphics like I do. So that's something that I wanted to tell you guys about. The next thing I would recommend getting, and this is also free, I'm not all these things that I'm doing are free. The next thing I would definitely look into is sumo.com Sumo calm is a website that you can embed into your website, and it does a tracker code, and it creates a heat map. Now, a lot of people don't understand what heat maps are. So I'm going to explain that to you. So if you go to a website, your mouse goes all over the place depending on where you're clicking. So what a heat map does is it tracks where your mouse is clicking. So it kind of starts to glow like you would see on a heat map on anything else besides the computer. And so it basically shows which parts of your website are getting clicked on the most where people are going, it doesn't really show the route but it it shows the most clicked areas. So I embed this into my website, all the websites I have, you can add it to each page, you can have it not on a page, and then you can track over time where people are clicking. So I use that and I look at it a lot I like to see where people are clicking, what's being clicked on. Sometimes I see that people are clicking on something that doesn't have a clickable link. So I end up adding a link to that. So it's super important to look at a heat map and see where people are actually going on your website. Because most of the times, it always surprises me what people are actually clicking on versus what I want them to click on. So I need to make sure that I look at it and say, okay, is this something that I want them to be clicking on? Or should I change up the words so that it makes them click on this more than the other words that they're currently clicking on. So I highly recommend Sumo. For that it's a free one. There's a lot of heat maps out there that cost money, but Sumo calm is one that I found that is free. Okay, so the final thing I wanted to share about today is Google Analytics. Now Google Analytics is something that I have used for years. And if you aren't using it, I highly recommend getting it, it is free. Again, like I said, most of these things that I use are free. But this one, I think is probably the most important of the three. And what I recommend most people get, what Google Analytics does is it tracks where people find you how long they're on your site, what's their flow of going from page to page. I've used this over the years. And it showed me so much and and really taught me what how people actually use my website. Now, there's some instructions online. And I would maybe go to YouTube and figure out how to install Google Analytics. It's not too difficult. But it definitely isn't super easy. So if you're not super tech savvy, I would maybe talk to someone or have someone help you with that, I could help you with that as well. It's another service I have installing Google Analytics for people. And then that's something that I would really recommend figuring out how to get that there's an app for it. There's a lot of different ways to track it, you can set up different goals, you can track your e commerce sales, and see what the conversion rate is. So that's something I would highly highly, highly recommend getting. So these are three different things that I would recommend getting for your websites all I'll go through them again, peak dot user testing calm to get free feedback on your website, Sumo calm, which gives you a heat map to see where people are clicking. And then finally, Google Analytics, which shows how people find you, it tracks all of the things that people clicking on your site, and more of a text form. So
going forward, that is what I would recommend for websites and how you can sort of audit your own website and make sure that it's working the best for your abilities. Now, another thing that we talked about this month was branding. And branding is something that I I really encourage people to do, if you are not, at the point when you can hire someone to do it for you. I still think you should spend some time branding your site. But I honestly, if I had all the money in the world, I would hire branding designer for every project I ever do. Mostly because those people are very good at it. They know you're they know how to brand a site better than me. And the four people that we had on the branding panel are great places to start. But if you are super, super, super new and that you don't have any money to spend, I want to share a few different sites that I use to create my own brand. For myself. The first one I want to talk about is my favorite app, my favorite website for anything website is that is canvas. com, I was shot how many people didn't know about Canvas, which is something I use on a daily basis. I mean, daily, I use it multiple times a day. And it's where I create all of my graphics, it's where I create anything of any kind, I actually use Canvas Pro, which is $10 a month, so that I can have my logo, my colors, I can upload my own fonts, I use this more than probably I should. I use it more than Photoshop and Illustrator, which I'm not as good at. But I really, really recommend Canvas because it's free. It's amazing. You can get stock photos from there you can, there's so many things that can be offers. For someone who's not a designer, that I just highly recommend it I honestly don't know what I would do without Canada. So Canvas calm is a great way to create beautiful graphics for your website, it's a great way to create banners, there's just so many ways that I use it personally, that is free for you to use. Another tool that I recently found out has now there's no free level anymore. But if you're looking for a way to come up with a brand Style Guide, which usually includes your text, your fonts, your colors, your logo is front of it calm. And that's a a style guide creator tool, again, that used to be free. And now I've realized that it's not free anymore. So I know a lot of you probably couldn't afford it. It does look kind of expensive now, but that is something if you can afford it, I would look into front of it calm. And then finally, I wanted to talk about another website that I recently found that was super helpful. If you're looking to create any type of a color palette, there is a website called coolers CO, which is the super fast color schemes generator. So what you can do is you can create five or six colors that look good together. So I'm gonna spell that out to colors.co. So that is something that I wanted to share with you guys. That is something that I have used before, if you're just don't know what colors look good together, it's a really easy generator that helps you create those colors. So those are three different things that you can help create your branding style guide, I hope that you guys have enjoyed all of these different tips that I have used. And I have found over the years of searching. This is something that I love talking about. And it's something that I recommend you guys really look into if you're starting a business if you're starting to blog, if you have anything online, you want to make sure that it's branded to you to what you're your tastes are and what you think that the taste of your audience are. So I hope you guys enjoy this episode. Next week we start a brand new series. Our July topic is accounting, finance and bookkeeping. I have a few people lined up from podcast. I'm also looking for a few more so if you know anyone that works with creatives about money management, sales, anything that's do with money, let me know I hope you guys enjoyed this episode, the podcast and I'll talk to you guys next week. Thank you guys so much for listening to the conversations with creatives podcast from the Twin Cities Collective. Make sure to head over to iTunes to subscribe to this podcast so you won't miss an episode. New episodes come out every single Monday. And also make sure to give us a review so that we can get more people listening and so that we can give you even more episodes of the podcast. Make sure to also check out our website Twin Cities Collective com where you can learn more about us join our Facebook group join our online business and blogger directories as well as learn more about events that are coming up that we host every single month. Thank you so much again to Allison hall for creating our awesome podcast cover photo as well as Nicola hi les for the use of the song in the intro and altro. Thanks again guys for listening and I'll see you next week. Bye.