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Choose the best type of website for your business

Choose the best type of website for your business

Websites are incredibly powerful tools that, when combined with the right strategy, can transform your business. The trick is to make the right choices when it comes to branding, content and functionality. However, unless you’re a web expert, that’s often easier said than done.

So, just how do you determine what kind of site is best for your business? Well, that’s a pretty big question. To get you started, we’re going to focus on functionality.

1. Your website can be your online brochure.

Otherwise known as a basic website, this is the digital equivalent of on online brochure, which provides information on:

  • how and where to contact your business
  • what services you provide
  • who you are


These types of sites help your customers find you online but don’t do much else. Many business owners build their basic site, then forget about it until disaster strikes or they need to update the Bios page. This is just fine for many businesses but it is important to keep in mind that if you’re not giving your website attention, then you’re losing out on potential customers and profits. It can be well worth it to find the time and resources to grow your basic website into something more useful to your business.

2. Your website can be a tool to capture leads.

Marketing websites take the basic site several steps further. These sites have clear messaging that communicates your brand and promotes your products. They take site visitors on a journey through defined pathways called Calls to Action, which are the beginning of the sales process. Marketing websites also have measurable goals that monitor website data according to a plan. This data indicates the successful and not-so-successful parts of a website and can be used to inform changes to the website, so that you can reach your goals.

3. Your website can sell your products & services.

Websites can completely replace brick-and-mortar storefronts by moving your business transactions online. Either by having an online store, or just a simple payment tool, you can eliminate expensive overhead costs and, at the same time, increase your reach to a much wider audience. Even service based businesses can operate exclusively online.

The biggest challenge with having an online business is in getting your customers to your website. From there, you must provide a unique value that sets you apart from the competition. A solid marketing plan that integrates branding, social media and content generation will be essential to maximizing the potential of your online sales.

4. Your website can be a part of your day-to-day operations.

Business operations can also be built into your website and often automated, thus, saving you time and money. For example, Help Desks facilitate customer support services by providing a platform for clients to quickly report issues and communicate with staff. Help Desks can be built directly into your website or integrated using a 3rd party system.

Online reservations systems are another great example. Such tools make it easy for your customers to research availability and make reservations, which increases the likelihood of making a sale (as long as your system is well-built!).

If you have any questions about the types of websites or about which one is right for you, please feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!

Why use WordPress for your high end business website?

WordPress Web Design class in Homer, Alaska!WordPress isn’t just for your teenager’s angsty fashion blog. Big businesses around the world depend on this popular web platform to power high end websites like Microsoft News, Vogue India, Bloomberg Professional, Toyota Brazil and Chances are, many of the websites that you visit regularly are also built in WordPress. So, what makes it so popular and why should you build your own professional website with WordPress?

1. WordPress is the most user-friendly tool on the market

The WordPress admin interface does a stellar job of separating and simplifying tasks so that users don’t get overwhelmed with a lot of complicated options. It’s relatively easy to know where to go in order to make needed changes. Content is also separate from design, which prevents users from getting trigger happy with design elements that result in compromising the website’s visual coherency. We have found that with a little training, even technology-challenged staff are able to make everyday content edits.

2.WordPress is scaleable so your website can grow with your business

It’s easy to add new content to a WordPress website, whether in small or big chunks. Navigation menus are a breeze to maintain and build, allowing for the creation of as many complex menus as you need. For really big sites, additional functionality can be added (see section #3 below) to make it easy to manage lots of pages and menus.

3. WordPress is extensible so you can add on new features without too much fuss

Perhaps the most powerful capability of WordPress is the ease with which new functionality can be added. Features like high powered SEO tools, calendars, e-commerce, membership and social media features can be incorporated into your site via plugins, without the need to pay for expensive programming. The real challenge can be in deciding which plugins best fit your website needs! Professional web designers will know exactly which plugins are appropriate for your website needs and which ones to shy away from.

4. WordPress is constantly evolving

The WordPress development community rigorously maintains the software with security and feature updates. They have a strong philosophy that emphasizes usability and simplicity. This vision will help keep WordPress relevant well into the future, which means that you can have confidence that your website can serve you for years to come.

5. It’s easy to find WordPress web designers

With the vast majority of websites on the Internet running WordPress, knowing how to use it is a necessity for all web designers. Whether looking locally or online, this makes finding a web designer with basic WordPress skills quite easy. At a minimum, most web developers will be able to install and configure WordPress, configure WordPress themes, install and configure WordPress plugins and add content.

Of course, sometimes basic skills won’t cut it, so, if you have more advanced design, usability or programming needs, you may need to spend more time researching your options. Advanced WordPress developers will have experience in building custom WordPress themes, user experience, building custom WordPress plugins and should provide training on how to use custom WordPress websites.


Why Web Developers Won’t Touch Wix

Why Web Developers Won’t Touch Wix

And why professional websites don’t use it

Wix isn't for professional web developmentLots of people love Wix. It hearkens back to happy childhood memories of playing with Lego or Barbie sets, bringing your imaginary scenes to life with all of the provided pieces. As long you were happy with the pieces that you had, life was good. However, should you want to take your website, and your business to the next level, there are some major hurdles to consider:

Wix is designed for people that aren’t familiar with the web

Wix’s greatest advantage turns into a major disadvantage as your website needs evolve. Wix works by greatly simplifying the web design process, which means that it also ignores many of the best practices that have been developed in the last 15 years. From a web developer’s perspective, Wix websites are equivalent to websites built in the year 2000. They almost entirely ignore essential concepts like keeping design separate from functionality and maintaining layout consistency. These things are important because they make your website easier to maintain and create a better user experience for your website visitors. And happy visitors means more clients.

Wix puts you in the role of graphic designer and web designer, which is a lot of power!

A graphic designer is an expert in the “planning and projecting [of] ideas and experiences with visual and textual content” ( Web designers determine how website content looks and functions, taking into account best practices, usability, mobile accessibility and clearly defined website goals. Because Wix rolls all of these roles into one, it’s easy to make a real mess of a website that doesn’t serve your business effectively.  Just like with your legos when you were a kid, you can build a mansion with 52 rooms that each have a toilet and a sofa and a kitchen sink, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, especially when your income depends on it.

To be effective, a website must have:

  • clear, concise branding and design that is compelling
  • consistent layout from page to page
  • great user experience
  • minimum number of pages and content
  • no non-essential elements (i.e. things that are added because it looks “cool” but serve no purpose)
  • clear understanding of how it is capturing new business


It can take a lot of experience and knowledge to really pull off that list above and Wix doesn’t make it any easier.

You can’t do deep customizations in Wix

Want to change the way something works? Or have precise control over a visual component? Well, you can forget about it with Wix. There’s no getting behind the scenes to tinker. No tweaking. No custom programming. What You See Is What You Get. Period.

Wix admin panel is inefficient and hard to use

In terms of usability, the user interface in the admin panel could be much friendlier. It’s not just the learning curve but the all of the clicking required to get things done.  Menus are squirrely, you can’t save content chunks and making consistent page layouts is mostly guesswork. All of this combines to make getting work done very inefficient. For web professionals, working in Wix websites is a hair-pulling experience. And if you’re billing the client for the work, well…  you had better prepare her for a hefty invoice.

You can’t move your Wix site

That’s right folks. Once you build your beautiful Wix site, you are beholden to Wix for the entire life of the site. Not only that, but you can’t even move pages or content between Wix sites. You can duplicate a site and that’s it. The one bright spot here is that 3rd party tools exist that will pull the text and photos from your Wix site and move them to somewhere else. From there, you can build a new site from scratch.

99% of Wix websites look amateur

I’ll be blunt here: from a professional perspective, most sites built with Wix are clearly DIY amateur websites. People who know about these things can see it in an instance. Decision makers who are comparing two companies based on the quality of their websites will be able to tell. And that means that your bottom line will be able to tell.

If you want to communicate that you and your business are professional, you will eventually need to say goodbye to your Wix website and hello to the world of professional graphic design and web development. By enlisting the help of experts, you can create a website that has clear intention, excellent user experience and measurable results. Combine that with a stellar business model and great customer service and you have yourself a successful business!


My WordPress Site Has Disappeared!

secrecy-iconWhether it’s yours or a client’s, having a WordPress site go offline can raise your heart rate to epic levels. It’s not fun to have a call from a panicky client or lose all your hard work on your own site. Here are a few common reasons that WordPress sites go offline and how to recover quickly from them:

1. WordPress Doesn’t Have a Built-in Backup System

Most hosting providers don’t include site backups in their most popular hosting packages. You will need to investigate what is available to backup your site.  A Google search for WordPress backup plugins will result in a huge number of articles.  Choosing a reputable source like or one of the PC magazines will be helpful.  “WPBeginner” has a good article comparing backup plugins, 7 Best WordPress Backup Plugins Compared (Pros and Cons). Our favorites are BackupBuddy and Manage WP.

2. Servers Can Fail And They Do!

Even Google experiences outages.  When Gmail went down for just a few hours in January 2014 it caused panic around the globe.   When you choose a host for your website, inquire if they have backup servers and what their downtime policy is. For important websites, we recommend also scheduling regular off-site backups that you can use to quickly restore individual parts of your site. Oh, and periodically test your backups to be sure they work.

3. Admin Users

Clients are amazingly creative in discovering unexpected ways to mess up or crash their websites. Some clients know just enough WordPress to be dangerous! Restrict client access to only the necessary functions (like page editing) by creating separate users account for each person using the site. If you to disallow specific tools and plugins, try using a plugin like Capability Manager or Admin Menu Editor Pro.

4. Hackers

Hackers love to crash WordPress sites. Older versions of WordPress are especially vulnerable to malware attacks, which is why it’s important to keep core files and plugins up-to-date. An article in “PC World” from July 24, 2014 reported that 50,000 sites were hacked through a simple newsletter plugin vulnerability over a period of a couple of weeks. Popular WordPress plugins attract a lot of hacker attention, and have been the source of many of 2015’s most infamous security holes.

If your website starts to act wonky, free malware scanners are available to scan your site.  Our favorite is the industry leading Sucuri Security.

5. Operator Error

Yes, we have to admit that we, too, can make mistakes. Breaking the CSS file with “simple edits”, installing a new plugin that doesn’t play nice or having your connection stall in the middle of a WordPress update can all send you running for a recent backup of your site. So, make it a standard practice to backup your site before doing any work on it, especially messing with the CSS.

Aaaaand the moral of the story is…….

If you have a website,  back it up. Please.


It’s our 10th anniversary doing business!

On May 1, 2005, Sound Web Solutions went into business as a limited liability company.  It started as a family business designing websites for non-profits and small businesses.  Now, 10  years later, SWS is a growing company with an eight member web team designing websites for larger companies such as Enstar and native corporations such as the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association.  We are proud to have been chosen to design the campaign website for Governor Bill Walker.   Our services have expanded to include consulting, security and backup plans, maintenance plans, and search engine optimization packages.   We are looking forward to exciting growth in the next ten years!

5 Add-ons to power up your online store in WooCommerce

Power up your online store

WooCommerce eCommerce tools for WordPress online storesOne of the most popular WordPress shop tools, WooCommerce offers lots of great add-ons to its core online store functionality. These affordable extensions can build trust, streamline the purchasing process and automate marketing. If you use WooCommerce and your goal is to increase online sales (who doesn’t want this?), then these five tools can act as a fantastic starting point.

1. Product Reviews Pro

A good review has a powerful influence on a shopper’s decision to buy. This WooCommerce extension provides style review tools including the ability to ask questions of past buyers. Reviewers can add photos and videos of products, as well.


2. One Page Checkout

Make the purchasing process lightning quick with One Page Checkout. Build special pages in your WooCommerce shop with a specific selection of products and use this tool to enable buyers to choose products, checkout & pay all on the same page.

3. Recommendations

“WooCommerce Recommendations by Graphflow turbo-charges your WooCommerce store with the power of industry-leading recommendations technology.” Using behavior flow, this tool generates recommendations that are more relevant for your online store shoppers.

4. Wishlist

Help customers keep track of all of the cool products on your online store with this Wishlist add-on tool. It supports an unlimited number of Wishlists, which can be shared via social media or email.

5. Follow-up Emails

Combine the power of email marketing with your online store. Keep your customers involved with your brand post-purchase by building an automatic follow-up email process. Not quite a full blown CRM, this handy shop add-on makes it easy to manage your customer relationships.

“Spend your time and resources smarter, build email templates to send single emails to customers, and automate your email marketing to increase the value of your existing customer base and acquire new customers. An email marketing strategy will immediately impact your top-line revenue. When it comes to converting your efforts into sales, email still outperforms search 2 to 1, and social 8 to 1.” – WooCommerce Website


WordPress SEO: Urgent Security Vulnerability

Urgent Security Vulnerability

WordPress SEO

secrecy-iconAn urgent security warning has just been issued for Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin, which has a vulnerability that allows hackers to inject nasty stuff into your WordPress website’s database. If your site has SEO, then you’re probably using Yoast’s fantastic tool.  The good news is that a fix has already been issued  and all that needs to be done is for your plugin to be updated.

Here’s more information from the WordPress Vulnerability Database:

WordPress SEO by Yoast is a popular WordPress plugin (wordpress-seo) used to improve the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of WordPress sites. The latest version at the time of writing ( has been found to be affected by two authenticated (admin, editor or author user) Blind SQL Injection vulnerabilities. The plugin has more than one million downloads according to WordPress.

Read more details on the WordPress Vulnerability Database.

Does your website need a redesign?

Website Redesign Quiz

Thinking about a website redesign? Or is your site already doing an awesome job at bringing in business?

Try our 1-minute quiz and find out if you’re ahead of the pack or behind the times.

Maximize your website with analytics

4 Basic Steps to Better Website Performance - A beginner's guide to understanding website analytics and key performance indicators (KPIs).

We’re getting married!

Wedding BellsI’m excited to announce a new partnership with Out of a Jam Solutions (OOAJ), with whom SWS has had a long term (business) relationship that has been so successful that we’ve decided to tie the knot. Serving Palmer, Wasilla, Anchorage and beyond, OOAJ has provided down-to-earth service in Apple IT, technology consulting and web design since 1999.

Brady bunch style, this marriage expands our core team to eight awesome people. Together, we are able to offer our clients (you) a greater level of service, including:

You may have already noticed a few changes, such as our new main office address in Palmer. For accounting and inquiries, this is the place to call. If you have an opinion on anything, good or bad, let us know!

Thanks for reading,



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