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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formats for sharing and displaying information – business owners are concerned that their websites may become quickly outdated.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One of the best ways to avoid getting into trouble with woefully outdated web design in the future is to create a website now that could easily be improved later.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The fallacy with this attitude is that even great content sometimes becomes outdated.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 February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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