If you are a history geek like me, Astoria is one of the coolest places to see how the fresh waves of immigration left an indelible mark on the character of the neighborhood. It started with the Irish.
Then came the Italians, which their remnant can still be seen today with the clusters of Italian delis, restaurants, bakeries, and pizza parlors clustered around Ditmars Boulevard.
The Jews left their mark on the neighborhood with the Astoria Center of Israel, one of the Astoria locations on the National Register of Historic Places.
Starting in the 1960s, there was a large influx of Greeks, both from the mainland and Cyprus. The cultural impact of the Greeks is all over the neighborhood, from the churches to restaurants, and probably the best baklava in the city.
Lastly, we’ve had the Arabs, South Americans, and the list goes on. All leaving their mark on this culturally diverse and wonderfully colorful neighborhood.
Great web design is important no matter where you are located. However, in densely populated areas like Astoria, where mobile usage is high. These best practices are highly important especially
If you didn’t build your own site, you’re likely using a content management system (CMS) that your web builder chose. If he or she didn’t educate you on the pros and cons, you may be in for a big surprise in your webpages’ performance and search engine rankings.
The technical definition for a content management system (CMS) is “is a computer software program used to manage the creation and modification of digital content.”
In other words, it is a system that allows the content to be stored separately from the code that builds the page. The user enters the code through a program called an interface, e.g. WordPress, and the interface saves that as the page data. The browser takes the files from both locations and renders the page.
However, while simple and easy, it creates a problem. To make this easier to understand, I use a simple metaphor of an architect, contractor, and warehouse. The user is the architect, the contractor is the browser, and all the design code sits in the warehouse
In this metaphor, we are going to use a prefabricated home. There are a general set of blueprints, but lots of options for flooring, tiles, etc. Think of this as your theme.
The architect now selects specific options within a house, for example, flooring, tile, window type, etc. But, these specifications aren’t given to the contractor (browser) until he or she shows up to build the house.
The contractor knows he or she is building a home, but other than that, it’s left open. Therefore, they have to bring all the labor and materials they might use, even if they aren’t needed in this specific build.
Once at the site, the contract reads the blueprints and then has to sort through and organize their materials first before the job can start.
As you can see there is a lot of wasted time and materials that put a burden on the contractor. This is why a theme will never be as fast as a custom build.
According to Best Designs, original graphics are the most successful.
“Original graphics make up 40% of all successful visual content that accomplishes marketing goals, but 43% of marketers struggle with the consistent production of captivating visuals.”
Since we are communicating one message, the artwork that supports it must work very hard to support the message. This is where local market know-how can really help. Original photos and images of your business in Astoria interacting with your neighborhood can add value.
It also helps with when your calls to action focus on local events in and around Astoria or at your business location.
Every email, no matter how trivial, should have a call to action. This is where all the hard work above pays off. If we omit one, we just wasted resources that could have been spent more cost effectively.
We cover email list building in great detail in our post on small business email marketing. Again, we will just hit the highlights here as it pertains to Astoria. Every neighborhood has summer fairs. While these were severely impacted by COVID, in our post COVID world they should roar back with a vengeance. It would be smart to see if you could piggy-back off one or more of them.
Incentives, deals, free trials, and samples are all great options when developing your calls to action. See if you can partner with your neighbors to create a shared promotion. This way one shopper in Astoria has two or more places to visit while out in the neighborhood.
The point I’m trying to make in the section above is two-fold. First, it highlights the many options that a local business can choose to stand out. Conversely, it also shows how important it is to stand out from this crowd.
A custom built website is created by web designers. These designers create code only for the features you use to get the results you want. Therefore, there is no excess code.
If your developer helps you set up your tracking codes and other third party integrations, then you can minimize any issues those create.
The beauty of a custom build is there is no trade-off between speed and quality. When you factor in the lost revenue from bounces and poor conversion that a slower site creates, the investment generally pays for itself.
Without taking any action, your performance on mobile will likely fall in the 20s to 40s on Google Pagespeed Insights.
WordPress is the dominant market player. Therefore, we will touch on some of the common plug-in for this CMS.
Most of the plug-ins, save W3 total cache, are simple. Most are not free if you want to get the maximum benefit. They do produce a measurable difference in speed, but do not expect to get above 50-60.
Accelerated Mobile Pages was introduced by Google in and around 2016. AMP is a stripped down version of HMTL which has fewer features, which makes it very fast. But, now you need to manage two sites versus one. Plus, you lose consistency between mobile and desktop
Since you are changing the theme itself, this requires a significant amount of coding knowledge to do it right. This usually requires hiring a developer.
A good developer can usually clean up the theme enough that you can reach custom speeds. The cost is generally equal to higher than a customer build depending on the work required.
If you want lightning fast speed, skip the CMS. We recommend a custom build.