Managing Your Digital Footprint

Having a website is great for getting your message out to the world. There are two ways of looking at websites: one is to see them as brochures listing what you do and how to contact you, this is often the first step in the process of ‘going digital’, the second is what is sometimes termed web 2.0, this is where your website contains dynamic content and is connected to other online tools, websites and resources.  A web 2.0 website seeks to offer features and functionality which go further by offering the visitor the ability to interact according to their needs.

Digital Footprint
An example Digital Footprint

A more dynamic 2.0 website will offer:-

  • recent information on your activities
  • links to other relevant websites
  • links to other online platforms
  • external information from feeds/widgets etc.
  • ability to interact e.g. communicate with groups associated with your field
  • could include downloads, sales, forums
  • will collect user feedback/analytics

This kind of website requires continual input from you with new content and activities but offers much greater power in attracting interest and interaction. You could see it as a way of maintaining a network online using social media tools rather than face to face via the golf club or the pub. This is not to say these approaches are mutually exclusive but rather maintaining a digital footprint is another option for your organisation. An online network has the potential to reach far more people than you could meet in person.

Once you become the custodian of your digital footprint you can undertake some analysis of your followers/subscribers/contacts. What are they interested in? How often do they visit?, where are they based? You can view comments, forum posts, conduct surveys, and use web analytics to gain insights into these questions. Finding out what people are looking for should inform your own organisational development plans. The idea is to use your web presence as a means of creating a feedback loop. Rich insights on your customers/clients/users should then be harvested, analysed and built into your planning.  You may start to create online activities to entice people to engage. Offering free advice or materials could be a great way to increase visitors to your site and hence raise your profile and/or business leads.

Your Digital Footprint is made up from a variety of online tools which will refer to each other to form a whole. So for example, when you publish a new blog post or web page you will notify people via the different social media tools you are using. Your notification, for example, a tweet, will contain a link to the new post/page. This way your various online tools are working together to maximise your reach.

Once you develop an online profile, create a like minded community, and interact and respond with that community you have the opportunity to move toward becoming an Agile organisation. Moving your organisation toward being agile is seen as the key to success in a competitive and dynamic environment.

Once you begin to curate your digital profile you will identify new ways of finding your voice and promoting your mission. If you would like to explore this topic further, get in touch.

Martin Sepion

Getting yourself onto the web using WordPress

Whether you are a blogger, charity or small business, getting onto the web for the first time can be a little daunting. This post aims to give you a few pointers to give you the confidence to get online.

If you are completely new to the online world it is probably best to experiment with social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These give you the opportunity to create an online identity, share/create content, and build networks of ‘friends’ or ‘followers’.

However, in this post I am concentrating on using WordPress to create a website or blog for you to share your ideas with the world. WordPress is open source software that is developed be volunteers. It is very popular as it is supported and developed by a huge worldwide community of computer software developers. More than a quarter of websites on the internet are developed using WordPress.

There are two ways you can get a wordpress site. The first is to use a company that allows you to set-up a WordPress website or blog for free. An example of this is WordPress.com. WordPress.com will host your site for free leaving you to add the content. You can choose from a selection of site designs (Themes) as well as many other options and be on the web in no time. You will have a URL which includes wordpress.com – so it may look like https://SallysFlowers/wordpress.com

This is a great way to get started as you can experiment with different settings and become familiar with how WordPress works. However, if you have a more ambitious project in mind and need more flexibility, you may choose the second option which is to use a web hosting company (e.g. WordPress.com, 1&1 or GoDaddy). This will cost you a small monthly fee for hosting your website and a fee for registering a domain name. Hosting is where a company allocates you some space on their servers and keeps your website online 24/7 You can buy additional hosting services as you need them, such as extra space and more domains. Installing WordPress onto hosted websace is quite straightforward as all the major companies provide wizards to simplify the set-up. These companies will offer domain registration services so that you can choose your preferred name, check to see if it is available and pay a small fee to register it to you. This is done on an annual basis and will typically cost £10-15 per year. Added to the hosting cost you should not have to pay more than £70 per year for a basic package.

Once you have got yourself a domain name (e.g. www.sallysflowers.co.uk) and set-up your WordPress site onto your hosting service you are ready to start configuring your site and adding content. This second paid-for model offers much greater flexibility than the first free option. Once you have set up your basic site here are some steps I suggest you consider:-

  • Choose a Theme – design template for your site
  • Install and configure the plugin Google Analytics (e.g. ) – this shows how many people are visiting your site
  • Install a spam blocking plugin – this blocks unwanted junk messages
  • Install an SEO plugin – this helps to make your site easier to find by search engines
  • Install a plugin to clear your site cache – this speeds up your site
  • Consider a photo compression to reduce page loading times
  • If you are customising your site consider using child themes as this ensures your customisations will not be lost when you update your themes
  • Consider a plugin to create an XML sitemap which helps search engines catalogue your site
  • Consider backing up your site – just in case

There are many many Themes, Plugins and Widgets available to customise your site. Which you choose will depend upon what you want to achieve. You can create incredible sites using these user friendly features that are part of WordPress but if you want to totally control everything you will need to learn some coding. There are some great videos on Youtube which help with this.  A website or blog is an ongoing project and should be seen and managed in that way. A website can become part of your digital footprint which if it is linked can be a very powerful tool to promote you, your organisation or your business.

I hope you found this short overview useful. As always of you would like to know more get in touch.

Martin Sepion