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How To Future-Proof Your Website

How To Future-Proof Your Website

As user preferences change from desktop viewing to smartphones and tablets, and technology advances – where websites now use tons of different styles and formats for sharing and displaying information – business owners are concerned that their websites may become quickly outdated.

To help business owners, designers, and marketers like you, below, we discuss ways you can future-proof your website.

Make room in your long-term budget for improvement costs

One of the best ways to avoid getting into trouble with woefully outdated web design in the future is to create a website now that could easily be improved later. In other words, you want to lay a solid foundation you can consistently build upon. Additionally, you will want to allocate funds for future website upgrades. However, business leaders often erroneously assume that if they make an investment in quality web design early in the process, then they can avoid putting more money into updates for a very long time.

You have to anticipate that, no matter how well your website works at the moment, there is going to come a time when certain changes need to be made. By structuring website maintenance and improvement costs into your future budget plan, you can minimize the chances of getting blindsided by expensive redesigns or a wholesale overhaul of elements such as security protocols or hosting requirements.

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Keep an eye on the relevance of your content

Almost every organization now strives to set the pace in content marketing, as companies who excel at the practice benefit from a marketing contribution to revenue that is six times greater than those who lag behind. Hopefully you know the feeling of creating an exceptional story or video: you know you have extended value both for your audience and the company, and you feel like it can live forever on your website and continue to be shared across numerous platforms for years to come.

The fallacy with this attitude is that even great content sometimes becomes outdated. Economic and political realities shift and often affect great change in certain industries, the evolution of technology renders advice obsolete, and statistical information can rapidly shift. In order to combat these effects and build a website that remains value-added long into the future, pre-existing content needs to be regularly examined for continued efficacy, including the quality of links and the accuracy of all data and claims shared within.

Work within a tried-and-true content management system

When choosing a content management system (CMS) for your website, you want to find a solution that has the capacity and ability to evolve along with your needs, as well as one that will remain a reliable partner many years into the future.

Some unproven CMS providers promise loads of extras at rock bottom prices in order to entice new companies to utilize their platform. Be wary of such options; not only may you find that a software update in the near future leaves your systems unsupported, but such new entrants also often lack the robust security mechanisms employed by the established platforms.

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WordPress, which is far and away the most employed CMS platform in the world – used in over 60 million websites – is a worthy choice for almost any company. Not only is the platform supported by numerous third-party developers and bestowed with frequent updates, but add-ons and a suite of features make it easy to scale with your business as you grow.

Always build pages on a foundation of responsive design

Few factors have upended the world of web design quite as significantly as the explosion of mobile devices as a primary browsing option for buyers. Forrester research anticipates ecommerce revenue from mobile devices will exceed $140 billion in 2016, meaning that no company can ignore the importance of the mobile website design experience in the present or the future, regardless of size or industry.

Building pages with responsive design results in interfaces that intuitively adapt and format depending upon the screen size of the user. The result is a cohesive and well-designed UX, even if they frequently interact with your site by switching back and forth between devices of different sizes.

Implement code that can be easily maintained and updated

If you want your website to be nimble and easily tweaked to respond more effectively to future audiences, then it needs to be built on a codebase that can be maintained with minimal effort and changed just as easily.

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It is also critical to think about who will be in charge of updating your site design years from now: the answer is you do not know. If the design is based on a platform that one person who is no longer with the company is fluent in, you may find yourself having to start from scratch when adaptable code would facilitate simple updates.

Alternatively, you may want to work with a web design agency that has years of history helping other businesses in your niche so that they can continue to provide expert support for your website over the years to come.

In terms of aging, simple and minimal is almost always preferable

There is a reason most of us cringe when we look at fashion or furniture design from even as recently as 15 to 20 years ago: designers like to take advantage of bold trends in order to stand out from their competitors. It often works in the short-term, but future audiences often banish these designs to the memories of history in favor of more classical styles.

In web design, as well, centering your site around a simple and more minimal theme is generally the better strategy if you want it to age with dignity. By avoiding succumbing to trends of the moment, you can maintain the overall look of your website for far longer and still feature an engaging experience that will spark interest in your audience and increase conversions.

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Understand that you cannot reliably predict the future

Part of the process of future-proofing your website is understanding that it is impossible to account for every development that will affect the worlds of commerce and design in the coming years. Even the most famous technological prognosticators have histories of hits and misses throughout their careers.

In this regard, it is not wise to spend too much time trying to design a website filled with elements that you think are far ahead of the curve and will resonate in the future. You may occasionally find something that does work, but the benefits will be outweighed by the resources exhausted in constant pursuit of future trends. Elegant, highly-functional web design that is based on currently sound principles will persist over something flashy and new almost every time.

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Last Updated on December 5, 2018

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

How do they do it?

By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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3. Demand Learning from Your Team

CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

“The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

“We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

  • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
  • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
  • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
  • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
  • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
  • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

  • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
  • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
  • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
  • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
  • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

    “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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  • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
  • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
  • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
  • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

10. Empower Your Employees

Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

11. Nurture Your Company Culture

Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

Be a Leader, Not a Boss

Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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