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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formats for sharing and displaying information – business owners are concerned that their websites may become quickly outdated.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One of the best ways to avoid getting into trouble with woefully outdated web design in the future is to create a website now that could easily be improved later.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The fallacy with this attitude is that even great content sometimes becomes outdated.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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Published on September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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