Ten Things You Can Do To Your Website To Make Peoples’ Lives Easier

If you have a website, chances are you are continuously thinking about making it better. Here are a few things you may or may not have thought of that you can use on your website.

    1. Make phone numbers clickable.
      With the invention of touchable screens and cell phones, if you publish a phone number on your website (especially if it’s in an image or a button), why not make it so when people click it, it works? Here’s how to add the code. Save your customers the copy/paste, or worse, trying to repeat the number aloud so they remember it as they dial!
    2. Add conditional fields to your forms.
      Is this item a gift? If the person says yes *then* bring up the gift recipient name, address, and message form fields. Conditional fields in forms show up, as you’d expect, conditionally. They not only allow your form to be shorter and sweeter but allow whatever transaction you are facilitating to be more seamless.
    3. Allow email updates.
      People want to stay in touch when you do things like write a new blog post or launch a new product. Give them a way to get a notification when something happens on your site, ideally via email, so they don’t have to miss anything or follow up with you. I use Mailchimp RSS campaigns to do this with new blog posts (plus you can set them to autopost to Facebook and Twitter when they go out) but there is more than one way to set something up. Bonus points integrating signup into existing forms, like your contact form.
    4. Track ads.
      If you are a non-profit offering a banner ad on your website to those giving you money for X fundraiser, why not add tracking to it? Then when it comes time next year for your contact to ask their boss again for money, they can show them the return on investment. They are not going to ask you to do this but when you do, you will be much more likely to get sponsored again if they can understand their return on investment.

  1. Add closed captioning to your videos.
    Youtube and Facebook both autogenerate them (and you can spend a few minutes correcting them) or you can use and get them done for $1/minute. Makes your video more accessible, which is great for people AND search engines.
  2. Make PDFs part of your site search.
    If your website isn’t indexing PDFs as part of the search feature of your website, and you use PDFs with any regularity, consider adding something (a plugin, for instance) so they come up when someone searches for content within them (note: the PDFs have to be readable).
  3. Accept credit cards (not just Paypal).
    There are whole groups of people who, when they get redirected to, cry out internally and click away. If you want someone to buy something, try to keep them on your site to do it. Not only can you collect useful information from them but it puts you in control of the entire process. (If you want to offer the option of paying by credit card AND Paypal, just don’t make Paypal the only option.)
  4. Make your website accessible.
    Your website needs to be as accessible as possible: adding image tags for text only browsers, etc. If you want to test your website and get suggestions for improvement:
  5. Don’t make videos/music autoplay.
    This is obnoxious and means people can’t sneak looking at your website at work. Just don’t.
  6. Think about your website’s mobile experience.
    Over half of your website visitors are likely visiting your website from a mobile device. Check how your website looks/works on a mobile device so you can fix issues and make improvements.

If you act on any of these suggestions, please comment below (or message us and let us know). Anything we left out?

New Site Launch: Jeremy Frey

Jeremy Frey is a rock star in the basket world. His one of a kind creations go for thousands of dollars (or tens of thousands in many cases). They take months to make and every detail is perfect. When I saw them in his workshop I was blown away.

When we began working with Jeremy, orders were a little slow and he was gearing up for summer shows. He had applied for and gotten a grant to develop a website and some branding materials, knowing that these tools would take him further then he could go at several yearly shows and with his current client base, many who collect his work.

He wanted to reconnect with people he had lost touch with and find new customers who were specifically searching for him online (and clearly not finding him).

We took care of the website part while Jason at Loop Design Group worked with Jeremy on the logo/branding. Since this was finalized earlier this week we can write about the project (we had a stand in header so Jason and Jeremy could work without pressure and so in the meantime so Jeremy would have the site to use for his shows).


I like to joke with Alice about having an inherent bias against black background color websites. (I had a proto-hipster boyfriend about ten years ago whose blog was black with white writing as were the black and white photos he posted. He wrote deep thoughts on this site and it makes me roll my eyes to this day to think of it.) But this website really changed my mind about the whole ‘black background is a moody teenager’ thing.

Alice is right, done properly it can look artistic, and depending on font choices and other design elements can look either ‘boudoir’ or ‘masculine’. In this case, clearly masculine.

Alice also wanted to incorporate lots of basket textures since Jeremy’s work is so intricate. (Loved the Facebook icon she came up with!) These were only used as touches since we didn’t want it to seem over the top.


Since Jeremy’s baskets are made to order (with custom colors, etc.) a shopping cart was not necessary but we did want to communicate that people could order with the website. ‘Baskets Available For Order’ in the menu as well as a custom inquiry form below each basket type meant that people understood they could order without us having to actually show every kind of basket that Jeremy could make (hint: a lot, like hundreds).

But most importantly is Jeremy happy with this site? “I”ve already gotten a lot of inquiries from it.” he said. He says mainly in the way of people he’s lost touch with over the years that have found him and his work again as well as some new customers.

I know many artists who hesitate to spend money on their websites… but  I think people would be surprised that they’d make their investment (if not more) back by just having somewhere online people could see their craft.

Check out Jeremy’s site if you want to learn more:




How Chicken Sausage Beefed Up Their Mobile Website

My friends have a weekly poker game. At said poker game, everyone brings a little something to share foodwise with the group. Alice brought some fancy sausage to the last poker game for grilling purposes:


In back of the package was a QR code. As someone who regularly scans these codes only to be sent to a not-mobile friendly website, I was surprised that after this scan, I was sent to a mobile friendly website clearly designed that way on purpose:


(The Groupon ad on the bottom is courtesy of my QR code reader-which is normally what you get when you download a free app. How do I know it was the app and not the website? I put the address in my mobile browser and the ad didn’t show up. Mystery solved.)

So far so good, sausage company.

Of course when you design a mobile site, you design it for scrolling…And so scroll I did:


Like most good websites, Al Fresco has taken the opportunity for this company to grab your email address, in exchange for a $1 off coupon. This amount ($1-$2) is about what someone typically pays for a Google or Facebook ad click (around this amount anyway) and clearly an email address is more valuable than than a single click to most companies.

When you click ‘Sign Up Now’, it links to a mobile friendly form:


As you see, each thing you link to on your mobile website is one more thing you have to make mobile friendly. Signup form, links to recipes, photo galleries… everything you link to is something that not only makes your site more dynamic but also is a potential thing that can go wrong, mobile speaking.

So, if you are shorter on time or money, be enthusiastic about your mobile site but be realistic too. First off, it’s literally 1/10th the screen size of a typical computer so it can’t do everything your full-sized website does. And secondly making elements mobile friendly takes time.

The one issue I found on Al Fresco’s mobile template was one part that didn’t work:



When I click to enter the $1000 contest on the ‘click to enter’ button, I get a 404 error. Bummer, I could use $1000!

Like I said, this is one of the better mobile websites I’ve run into so hats off to Al Fresco on making the QR code actually go to something interesting.

So what can we learn from our sausage-y friends about mobile websites?

  • Think about what your mobile users care about. I cook from my iPhone all the time so recipes are great. I won’t, however, read the company’s blog from my phone, which is why they don’t link to it. They aren’t trying to do everything their regular website does, just the most important to mobile users things.
  • Make everything you link to mobile friendly. The importance for mobile doesn’t just apply to the items on that main page but anything you link to from that page. Otherwise you look like an inconsiderate jerk who didn’t think the idea completely through.
  • Test often. Sometimes there can be an issue you don’t catch, especially if you are updating the page often, or have more than one person updating said page.

Whether you sell sausage or the grill we cooked them on, it’s important to think of your mobile user. So take a look at your website from a mobile perspective at least once a month to see what your mobile customers see.

Want to know more about mobile websites? Here’s a helpful article:

Online Form Software: Your Options

Maybe you read my blog about forms yesterday. Maybe you are doing research on online forms. Maybe you just like this blog and think ‘maybe this nerdy post is something I can use.’ In any case, welcome!

One option you have is hosting your website form elsewhere and simply displaying it on your site. One way of doing this is using Google Docs to make a form then embedding it in your website. Here’s an example of that:

This is my local Rotary club's website which runs on Clubrunner. Can you make a form in Clubrunner software? Maybe but I wasn't going to spend a lot of time figuring it out. So I embedded this signup for our upcoming mini golf tournament on their site.

This is my local Rotary club’s website which runs on Clubrunner. Can you make a form in Clubrunner software? Maybe but I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time figuring it out. So I embedded this signup for our upcoming mini golf tournament on their site.

So technically the form lives on Google but it is displaying on this page.

What’s cool about the Google form? When someone fills it out, it automatically populates a spreadsheet:

Here is the spreadsheet that minigolf signup form is populating. Names have been blurred to protect the other teams butts we will kick.

Here is the spreadsheet that minigolf signup form is populating. Names have been blurred to protect the other teams butts we will kick.

Now I don’t know about you but I find that pretty impressive. Now all I’ll have to do is print off the final spreadsheet and we can do registration at the door and take payment. Easy!

Is Google your only option? Of course not. There are other free form software out there that allow you to create forms and display it on your website. Like this service:

If you are small time, you can totally use the free version of this!

If you are small time, you can totally use the free version of this!

Now what if you have an awesome website driven by a content management system. Can the form live and be displayed on your website? But of course!

Our meeting scheduling form not only saves lots of back and forth emails but get us paid gigs. Win!

Our meeting scheduling form not only saves lots of back and forth emails but get us paid gigs. Win!

We use a form software on our website called Gravity Forms. I love it because not only can I make the form look like how I want but can also look at conversions:

Apparently something about the contact form isn't 'wow'ing people. Good to know.

Apparently something about the contact form isn’t ‘wow’ing people. Good to know.

The software also stores a copy of the form on my server, meaning if I accidentally delete it from my email, I can log into the website and get it again. Oh and it integrates with my Google Analytics and other features I have going on the site.

What? Is my contact form integrated with our email newsletter subscription service? Why yes it is, thanks for noticing.

What? Is my contact form integrated with our email newsletter subscription service? Why yes it is, thanks for noticing.

So in the ideal world, you website software helps you make great forms that integrate with your website (and other online things you have going on). But it’s not an all or nothing proposition; even if you have an old school website you can still have a form displaying there while it lives elsewhere on the internet.

Name the business and you can have a form for that:

Landlord? Take your potential tenant’s (non confidential) information. 

Cat drawer? Let people order their cat drawings online.

Ok there are probably more but if you’ve seen an amazing use of an online form, please leave a comment and we’ll add your idea (crediting you and linking your site of course) to this list!

Beyond The Printer: Why You Probably Need An Online Form

I think a lot of us (myself included) think of ways to do things that are easier for ourselves versus easier for our customers.

Here’s a great (not me) example. Derrick blows glass and he was invited to enter one of his pieces in a contest. He was sent to a website link for this contest so he clicked from his email. On the webpage was information about the contest and then a link to click on to sign up. So Derrick clicked again.

Two clicks in, Derrick thinks he is going to get to an online form… but it’s a pdf. He’s on his phone, which is how 50% of Americans now access the internet. All he can do is look at the tiny writing and think ‘I guess I need to get on a computer to do this.’

Yeah this is a form I can't fill out, let alone read, on my phone. *sigh

Yeah this is a form I can’t fill out, let alone read, on my phone. *sigh

In addition to being on his non-pdf friendly phone, Derrick, like many of my non-business owning friends, however, doesn’t even own a printer anymore… and feels guilty printing personal stuff at work.

‘Why didn’t they just make it an online form?’ he asked me.

No doubt he will turn this in and someone will have to type his application into some kind of spreadsheet or database that will track all the artists entering the contest.

This what I think happened. The person in charge of the contest made the pdf of the application and sent it to the web department, saying “Can you put this online?” Because most website people feel like they should do exactly what someone asks or seem like they are being difficult (and because they are usually busy people), they took this statement to mean link the pdf on the website, not take 20 extra minutes and build a custom form that gets emailed to the right person or people.

Derrick's simple glass order form. You can fill it in on your phone and he'll make you glass. Bam.

Derrick’s simple glass order form. You can fill it in on your phone and he’ll make you glass. Bam.

Why I love forms:

  • They work on mobile devices and regular computers.
  • The answer goes to the right person in electronic format- less typing for you if you get a form submitted.
  • The person filling out the form feels the immediate sense of accomplishment of having ‘done’ it.
  • Forms can apply to all kinds of businesses and non-profits, service-based and product-based sectors.

Will Derrick eventually have an online cart? Of course. But for now he can take requests… and was able to process a $100 order from a woman two weeks ago he had never met via this form.

Can you create an interactive pdf form? Of course. But in terms of mobile friendliness/readability (not to mention impressive technology), consider converting that pdf on your website you want people to fill out into an online form!