One place for hosting & domains


      Make Your Website Merry and Bright with These 10 Holiday Marketing Ideas

      The bright and cheery season is finally here!

      String up the twinkling lights, bust out your ugliest sweater, and get to work decking out your website.

      via GIPHY


      Work during the holidays?!

      Yeah, I do sound like the Grinch right now. But getting festive for Festivus (and all the other major end-of-year holidays) can actually give your website more chances to unwrap extra visitors.

      If your cup of ideas isn’t running over, we’ve got you covered. Our gift to you? Ten great ways to freshen up your website for the holidays. Batteries not included.

      Before You Get Started

      Before you delve too deep in creating new holiday campaigns, take the time to look at the results of your holiday promotions from last year. Hopefully, you already did this when you were prepping your website for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But if not, let’s refresh!

      Let Your Goals Guide

      First, take a moment to reflect. What are your company goals? And what do you need to get out of the holiday shopping season: more sales, leads, or subscribers? Every action you take, including fun holiday marketing campaigns, should drive toward those goals.

      If the campaign you’ve got in mind won’t help you achieve your goals, put that idea on the naughty list.

      Review Last Year

      Which promotions registered with customers last December? Which ones fell flat? Before you put fingers to keyboard, take a look at last year’s results and build from there.

      Plan Out Sales in Advance

      Run the numbers to find out what deals you can afford to offer during the holidays. Then use this information to help you choose which holidays ideas to implement on your website.

      Analyze Your Channels

      You need to know how you’re going to spread the word about your holiday campaigns and promotions. So ask yourself: Do you have an email subscriber list? How strong is your social media presence? Is one platform stronger than the others? Have you ever used PPC?

      Scout Out the Competition

      What have your competitors done for the holidays that you could tweak for your specific audience? Make a list. You can even look to big brands for ideas (lots of inspiration coming your way).

      Got all that? Okay, on to the ideas!

      10 Holiday Ideas to Brighten Up Your Website

      1. Make Sure Your Website is Ready for the Season

      First things first, let’s get technical to make sure your website is geared up and ready for the season.

      You can do this by checking with your hosting provider to plan for any surges in traffic. If you need to upgrade for more resources, do it before the holidays hit. That way, you won’t run into issues when all those visitors come knocking on your website’s door to get your holiday deals.

      Next, make sure your payment gateway can handle more transactions. You may also want to consider upgrading your services to accept more forms of payments and double check your security features. The gifts of convenience and security are the type of holiday cheer your customers will appreciate.

      Need a baller payment gateway for your website? Here are 10 can’t-miss options.

      Finally, optimize to reduce your site’s load times. I could give you a mile-long checklist for this, but you’re busy — I get it. Instead, try these ten speedy-site tips, and then test your site’s performance with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

      Now, you’re ready to roll!

      2. Dress Your Website up for the Holidays

      Your customers are used to your website’s regular look, and that’s great — for most of the year. When the holidays roll around, though, consider giving your site a little extra sparkle.

      Take caffeine juggernaut Starbucks.

      Everyone is used to the company’s white-and-green siren, but come November 1, Starbucks’ cups get a little more festive.

      Obviously, your website isn’t a paper cup. So when it comes to zhuzhing up your homepage, a lot of jingle can go all the way. Let’s look at a brand that does holiday cheer well: Bath and Body Works.

      As soon as visitors hit the website, they are greeted with twinkling snowflakes and a giant, festive banner image. Even their promotion code is cheery: SNOWFALL.

      One word of warning (and good, old-fashioned marketing advice): know your audience.

      When you opt to make your branding more holiday-themed, pay attention to how your customers receive it. If you’re worried, solicit customer feedback, run some A/B tests, or hold a focus group.

      You don’t want to catch any flack — like Starbucks often does — for being too much this way, not enough that way.

      3. Use Your Email Marketing List

      Of course, it’s easy to get caught up in making sure your website is perfectly festive. However, it’s vital to remember that many customers won’t see it — unless you email them with a link and a good reason to return to your homepage.

      Long-time readers and first-time commenters alike will probably remember that we’ve gone in-depth before on why website owners need to get serious about email marketing.

      It’s the single-most-effective marketing tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion, and retention. You want a slice of that pie!

      WordPress users! Learn how to build your own email subscriber list directly on the platform.

      Most of all remember that your subscribers opted into your email list for a reason: they want to hear from you! Don’t forget to wish them well this holiday season and share your good news.

      After all, who doesn’t love a killer sale like this offer from Legacybox?

      4. Make ‘Em Laugh

      Sometimes the best way to get your website visitors in the holiday spirit is to make them laugh.

      Of course, how you do this is largely up to you and what works for your brand.

      JibJab allows visitors to personalize hilarious videos and send them to friends and family. Each year, the site offers a series of customizable holiday cards that are bound to make their customers laugh, share, and repeat.

      Kmart is another brand that has used humor to increase sales during the holidays.

      While the Jingle Joes might not “resonate” with everyone, the use of humor is a good way to stand out during a very competitive shopping season.

      Lastly, don’t be afraid to go dark. Like real dark.

      For a lot of people, getting together with family for the holidays isn’t a friggin’ Hallmark movie. HotelTonight took all those bad feels and translated them into this dark-comedy dream.

      You don’t have to be a hotel booking website to pull this off either. Get creative and think about your specific target audience. The world is your air mattress — erm — oyster.

      5. Put Together a Holiday Gift Package

      No matter what products or services you offer, you can group them together during the holiday season and offer a holiday combo on your website.

      Dollar Shave Club nails it each year. 

      As you can see, the shave kit is exactly like the ones they offer every other month of the year.

      So what’s changed?

      Only the context! The Elf on the Shelf signals holiday hijinks are afoot without the brand having to do any repackaging of their product.

      This time of year, people like to see holiday promotions. Even if you are selling the same old thing, dress up the way you promote to match the season.

      6. Drum Up Interest

      Almost everyone has a hard time waiting for the holidays (even if you can’t wait for them to be over, amirite, Scrooge?). But as a website owner, you can use all that anticipation to drive hype for your business.

      Take H&M. The brand created a short trailer to tease its 2017 holiday collaboration with Nicki Minaj.

      I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of all things H&M and Nicki Minaj, so even before the final campaign dropped, I knew I’d be checking out H&M’s latest gear. #MarketingSuccess

      Of course, if you don’t have the budget to hire a mega-watt celebrity to headline your holiday campaigns (pssst, have you heard of micro-influencers?), then you can always build hype the old-fashioned way: with a countdown!

      Ellen famously does the “12 Days of Giveaways,” and it’s hugely successful. Hitch your sleigh to that idea by doing 12 days of promotions, deals, even blog content — anything that will resonate with your customers.

      There is nothing naughty about leaning into the sense of urgency and excitement that comes with the holidays.

      7. Promote Your Expertise

      If there’s one thing for certain about the holiday season, it’s this: people gain weight. Yeah, your pants aren’t lying; holiday weight gain is real. And so is the motivation to lose the weight come January 1.

      Don’t worry I’m going somewhere with this.

      If you are a brand that holds a special level of expertise on a holiday-related topic, then the time is now to jump in and start sharing.

      For example, if you are a doctor, wellness coach, purveyor of health supplements, or self-styled weight-loss guru, then focus your content on how people can stay healthy during the holidays.

      Need an example? It’s like that one time we talked about tech-themed horror movies for Halloween. Look for a niche that you have expertise in and find a way to tie it to the season.

      Content win!

      8. Get Real With Your Followers

      Not like Drunk Uncle real. I mean genuine. The holidays are a great time to share what your brand is really about.

      Take Samsung for example.

      Their “Unwrap the Feels” video captures the spirit of the holidays by showing a collection of darling families gathering together. It’s so darn charming, that by the end, you might get a bit misty-eyed — and want to purchase some of Samsung’s magical family-bringing-together products.

      You don’t have to pull heartstrings to win hearts, though.

      If you are getting jolly around the office, let your customers in on the fun. Chances are they’ll be interested in the team that keeps their favorite products on the market.

      When you hold an office party or volunteer for a charity project, make sure you share the real, unfiltered you with your customers.

      9. Give Back to Customers

      When it comes right down to it, the holidays are about giving back. There is no better time to focus a little less on the bottom line and a little more on making the world a better place. For instance, you could make a donation to a charitable organization or sponsor a company-wide day of service.

      DYK? DreamHost is currently matching up to $10,000 for donations to Charity:Water.

      Looking for a viral way to spread joy to your customers? Host a giveaway or contest on social media.

      Last year DreamHost gave back to our customers with “The Dreamiest Website of the Year Awards.” Customers were able to submit their websites for a bevy of awards. The winners got swag, cash, and bragging rights. It was a fun way to thank the people who keep us in business.

      10. Welcome Visitors to the New Year

      After the hype has died down, take some time to ramp up your content production. Why? Because once the merriment is over, your customers will be thinking about the next big thing: the new year!

      Come January, DreamHost customers are looking for help building a brand new website to kickstart their resolutions, whether they’re starting a blog or a business. Think about what your customers will want to do next year and start creating content to help them do just that.

      The new year is a fresh start for everyone. Stay on top of your content strategy by preparing in December for a big rollout of fresh ideas in January.

      Give your website a home for the holidays. Sign up for DreamHost today!

      Stick a Bow on It, You’re Done

      There you go! We hope you’ll enjoy (and use!) these 10 gift-wrapped holiday ideas to connect with your customers during the holiday season.

      And we want you to get in on this too!

      Tell us: how have you decked out your website in years gone by? And what are you trying for the first time this December? Spread the good cheer with us on Facebook or Twitter.

      Source link

      The Ultimate Guide to Website Localization

      It probably won’t surprise you to learn that English is the most common language on the web. However, it’s far from the only one. In fact, nearly half of all internet users have another native language aside from English. This means many websites are needlessly excluding a significant portion of their audiences.

      To avoid losing out on potential conversions and revenue, make the smart move to localize your site by translating it into one or more other languages. While this might seem difficult, or even impossible if you aren’t multilingual, you don’t need to worry. Today, it’s easier than ever to translate and localize a website.

      In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of website localization and what it entails. We’ll also show you some methods you can use to create a multilingual site — even if you don’t speak a second language. Let’s go!

      A Quick Look at Language on the Web

      According to W3Techs, over half of all websites use the English language. This is hardly unexpected, considering that it’s the most commonly spoken language among internet users. In fact, more than a billion internet users speak English.

      However, while English may be the most common language, that’s not by a wide margin. It turns out that almost a fifth of internet users speak Chinese, for example, while over 8 percent speak Spanish. That’s hardly surprising, considering how common those languages are.

      What is somewhat shocking is how few sites cater to those same users.

      Returning to the first study we cited, it turns out that not even 5 percent of sites provide Spanish as a language option, while Chinese is available on less than 2 percent of sites. This means that literally billions of internet users are forced to use websites in a non-native language or are left out of a large portion of the web altogether.

      An Introduction to Website Localization

      Considering the facts above, it’s no wonder many people are attempting to make the internet less English-centric. This is usually done through a process known as localization, which is often shortened to ‘l10n.’ That term may sound strange, but it was coined because there are 10 letters between the “l” and “n” in “localization.”

      We should also mention that this strategy is sometimes confused with a process called internationalization, or ‘i18n’ (for the same reason as above). Where localization aims to adapt an existing product to suit another culture, internationalization is the process of making that product easy to localize in the first place.

      The WordPress Polyglots team is an example of how both l10n and i18n can be implemented in a single platform. This team works on making all aspects of WordPress easier to localize across regions, including providing help for theme and plugin developers.

      It’s also important to note that localization is not only about translating your site’s text. Although that is a key part of the process (and we’ll discuss it more in a moment), localization also involves adapting your site to another culture. For instance, it means making sure that currency, measurement units, and general terminology are updated accordingly.

      Localization can also mean altering other aspects of your site to suit different cultures. It turns out that what’s considered strong web design can vary based on your region. For example, some design elements like testimonials are much more highly valued in the US than they are in parts of Europe.

      Ultimately, this means that if you want to localize your site, you’ll need to do some research. For an idea of what can happen when a brand fails to do this, you can read about the time KFC told its Chinese customers to “eat their fingers off” or when Apple released a keyboard in Europe that wasn’t actually usable with many European languages.

      By now, you might be thinking that localization sounds like a hassle. While it will take some work, it turns out that it’s a crucial task for most sites.

      The Benefits of Localizing Your Site

      The fact is that proper localization benefits everyone. Not only does it help make the internet a more open and welcoming place, but it offers advantages to you and your site as well. Before we get into the practical details, therefore, let’s look at why you should bother localizing your site in the first place.

      For example, localizing your site helps you to:

      • Target a larger audience. Localization opens your site up to people who would otherwise not be able to use it.
      • Improve SEO and create localized SEO campaigns. You can create a unique URL for each localized version of your site, for instance, which can boost their rankings.
      • Increase your conversions. Users are more likely to convert if your site is in a language they’re fluent in.
      • Make your site more accessible. You’ll make it much easier for those who have a limited-to-no understanding of your site’s primary language to read and absorb your content.

      As you can see, localization is mutually beneficial to all parties involved. However, while this is something most website owners should consider, that doesn’t make it a task you should jump into without some careful planning.

      What You Need to Consider Before Localizing Your Site

      As you’ve likely gathered already, localization is a process that requires time, effort, and investment to get it right. For this reason, there are several questions you’ll need to answer before you even think about looking up the Japanese word for “website.”

      Naturally, the first thing you’ll need to do is consider which languages and regions to focus on. To narrow down your options, you can take a close look at your site’s analytics, as this will tell you which countries you have the most visitors from already. For instance, if you have plenty of traffic from Spain, you might want to consider creating a Spanish version of your site.

      It’s also a smart move to perform keyword research for specific locations. This will help you determine the demand (or lack thereof) for your services or products in a particular region. By doing this, you could end up finding an untapped market that you can appeal to by creating a localized site, especially for that audience.

      Once you’ve nailed down the major languages and regions for your audience, it’s time to consider the practical realities of localizing your site. We mentioned previously that this will require some market research, to find out how your site will need to change in terms of layout, images, messaging, and so forth.

      If you have the funds for it, you might even want to hire a team to help you with this project. Hiring translators is usually the most effective way of localizing a website, especially since you’ll need to maintain the new version of the site over time. Whenever you update or add content to your main site, it’s important that you are able to do the same on the localized versions.

      Finally, you’ll also need to think about implementation and compatibility. Fortunately, if you’re a WordPress user, you have much less to worry about. There are actually multiple plugins that can help you localize your site, including tools that perform automatic machine translation.

      How Automatic Translation Can Help You Localize Your Site

      Translating an entire website is typically the most time-consuming and costly aspect of localization. Depending on how much content your site contains and how often you update, this can require a significant investment and plenty of manpower.

      However, there is a way to make the process considerably easier, by letting a machine do the bulk of the work for you. This is known as automatic translation or sometimes machine translation. Chances are you’ve seen this in action on a smaller scale if you’ve ever used a tool like Google Translate.

      The Google Translate website.

      Without getting too technical, solutions like these automatically translate large volumes of content automatically from one language to another. The best part is that you can implement such a system on your site, automatically translating all text content as soon as it’s added.

      As you can imagine, this is much faster and cheaper than hiring one or more dedicated translators. Since there’s no waiting period between creating the original content and the translated version, you can ensure that every version of your site is up-to-date at all times.

      The main drawback of machine translation is that no solution is perfect, even though the technology has progressed rapidly since the days of Babel Fish. As such, you will most likely need to edit the translated versions at least, to make sure the content is still correct. However, even this task is far less time-consuming than translating everything from scratch.

      Another important consideration is which tool to use. We’ll look at some of the best options in a moment, but it’s critical you pick one that is compatible with all aspects of your site. For example, if your WordPress site contains a WooCommerce store, your translation plugin must be able to translate the e-commerce aspects as well.

      3 WordPress Plugins That Can Help You Translate Your Site

      Automatic translation is a great way to save time when localizing your site, but you’ll need the right tool for the job. Fortunately, as is usually the case, several WordPress plugins can help you out. We’re going to look at a handful of the best translation plugins right now, one by one.

      1. Weglot

      The Weglot plugin.

      Weglot makes it easy to create a multilingual site, even if you don’t speak any additional languages. This plugin uses machine translation to generate a fully-translated version of your entire site, which includes all page elements. It’s also compatible with just about any plugin or theme, including WooCommerce.

      Key Features:

      • Generates translated versions of your site in 60+ languages
      • Translates all text on your site, including navigational elements, comments, and more
      • Is compatible with all WordPress themes and plugins

      Pricing: Weglot offers a free plugin and a series of premium plans, which start at €9.99 (roughly $12) per month.

      2. Polylang

      The Polylang plugin.

      Polylang makes it easy to configure your site for localization. With this plugin, you can set the language for each post, and then create translated versions right in the standard WordPress editor. By default, Polylang offers the tools needed to create manual translations. However, you can also use it in conjunction with its sister plugin, Lingotek Translation, to perform automatic translations.

      Key Features:

      • Lets you easily translate your content in the standard WordPress interface
      • Enables you to use an unlimited number of languages
      • Provides WooCommerce support as a premium add-on

      Pricing: Polylang is available as a free plugin, as well as a Pro version that costs €99 (roughly $114) for a single site.

      3. WPML

      The WPML plugin.

      WPML is one of the most popular translation plugins, and it’s not hard to see why. This tool provides an intuitive interface that makes it easy to create and edit your translations. However, in contrast to the other plugins we’ve mentioned so far, WPML is mostly focused on manual translation. It works by assigning specific users the role of Translator, which makes it simple to track and manage your translation tasks within WordPress.

      Key Features:

      • Enables you to create manual translations within WordPress by assigning Translator users
      • Provides support for 40+ languages
      • Lets you generate language variants, such as Canadian French, using a language editor

      Pricing: WPML offers a number of paid tiers, which start at $29.

      How to Translate Your WordPress Site Using Weglot

      Now that we’ve looked at a few tools, let’s walk through how you can get started with localization by translating your site. For this example, we’ll be using the Weglot plugin that we covered earlier, as it’s free and includes automatic translation by default. This makes it an ideal choice if you want to test the waters before committing to a solution.

      To start off, you’ll want to install and activate Weglot. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be prompted to configure the plugin.

      Configuring the settings for Weglot.

      You’ll need an API key here, which is used to connect your site to Weglot’s cloud translation API. To get your own key, simply register for a free Weglot account.

      The registration form on the Weglot website.

      Once you’ve set up your account, you’ll be shown your API key. Copy this, and return to WordPress and the plugin’s settings. Paste your API key into the corresponding field, and then specify your site’s standard language and which language(s) you want to use for your translations.

      Then, click on Save Changes when you’ve finished. As soon as you’ve done that, you’ll see a message informing you that your site is now multilingual.

      A message informing you that your website is now multilingual.

      If you take a look at your site, you’ll see a new ‘language picker’ feature in the bottom-right corner.

      The Weglot language picker in the bottom-right corner of a WordPress site.When you click on this, you’ll see both your site’s default language and the one(s) you specified for translation.

      The Weglot language picker showing Norwegian and English options.

      If you select one of those alternative options, the site will reload and display in the specified language.

      An example of a WordPress site translated into Norwegian.

      You can also see that the URL for the site has changed, to include a code for the translated version. In our case, since we chose Norwegian, the plugin has appended /no/ to the end of the URL. As such, if the site’s address were, you could access the Norwegian version by using

      Now, this is just scratching the surface of what you can do with automatic translation. For one, you can return to the plugin’s settings to customize your language picker, both in appearance and position.

      The Weglot plugin settings.

      On this screen, you’ll also see a link to your Weglot dashboard, where you can manage and edit your translations.

      The Weglot dashboard.

      This dashboard gives you total control over all versions of your site and even shows you when and who edited individual text strings. This means that you can generate a translated version of your site in seconds, while also hiring a professional to edit the end result (if you like).

      As we mentioned earlier, translation is only one aspect of localizing your site. However, saving time when it comes to translating your site’s content will help you immeasurably, as it frees up resources to perform the necessary research and localization work on the rest of your site.

      The Language of Business

      Assuming all of your site’s potential visitors are fluent in your native language is not just arrogant, it can even be harmful to your business. By shutting the door on a significant portion of your audience, you could lose out on both traffic and conversions. As such, it’s well worth creating localized versions of your site.

      Do you have any questions about localizing your WordPress website? Join the DreamHost Community and let’s start the discussion!

      Source link

      How to Design an LGBTQ-Inclusive Website

      At DreamHost, we care a lot about accessibility and inclusive web design. The idea is simple: make your website as easy to use (and as welcoming as possible) for each and every visitor.

      Of course, you’re going to think about the abilities of your users and the demographics of your target market. But there is a huge population that many small business owners forget to consider when designing a website: individuals who identify as LGBTQ (an initialism for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning).

      “Wait,” you say. “People are people, and love is love.” And you’re not wrong!

      However, there are so many things you can do to make a website that is more inclusive and welcoming for all your visitors, regardless of orientation or identity. We’ll walk you through some of the key reasons you should consider the needs of your LGBTQ customers when designing a website (spoiler: it’s good for business) and then we’ll give you 12 key pointers to get started.

      Why Having an LGBTQ-Inclusive Website Matters

      “Making your site more inclusive for LGBTQ people can improve the user experience for everyone,” explains Jaymie Strecker, a non-binary Drupal developer at Kosada in Athens, Ohio. “Your site’s audience almost certainly includes people who are LGBTQ themselves or have LGBTQ friends and family. To provide the best user experience, you have to understand how that facet of their lives intersects with your site. Why would you want to alienate a significant percentage of your users?”

      Strecker points out that some people hesitate when they hear the word “inclusive” because they equate it with “politically correct” and are afraid it will take away their creative freedom in crafting content for the site. “They think it’s about following a bunch of rules about what you’re not allowed to say,” Streker says. “In reality, being inclusive is about understanding your audience and making your site resonate with them. It’s about breaking away from marketing clichés and reaching out to your users in a more authentic way. A more LGBTQ-inclusive site will come across as more vibrant, fresh, up-to-date, and friendly.”

      Another factor in having an LGBTQ-friendly site, the one we teased above, is that it’s simply good for business. “It’s 2018, we live in a capitalistic society, and online shopping is a must nowadays,” says Laura Egocheaga, Lead Digital Marketing Strategist at DivibeTech in Tampa, Florida. “Money does not discriminate, and analysts at LGBT Capital estimated the LGBTQ buying power at $965 billion in the U.S. and up to $5.4 trillion globally.”

      According to a Gallup poll in 2016, 7.3 percent of U.S. millennials identify as LGBTQ. In its 2017 Accelerating Acceptance report, media watchdog GLAAD put that figure much higher: 20 percent. On top of that, Egocheaga notes, younger people — especially Gen Z — are more embracing of queer culture overall.

      “No matter if you’re a startup or big brand, your objective is to capture the attention of a younger generation to increase the lifetime value of your consumer,” Egocheaga says. “An LGBTQ-inclusive website matters because you don’t want to be turning away that buying power, let alone be considered a horrible brand in Generation Z’s eyes.”

      For Queen of Surfing, a Hawaii-based expert on online publicity and marketing, the proof is in the numbers. “If you go online and research the top 100 followed entities on Twitter, 8 percent of them are gay or lesbian or transgender,” she says. “Even more awesomely shocking: 30 percent of the top 10 most followed people on Twitter are gay or lesbian or transgender. To make the error of excluding us from any version of online presence and not considering us as a demographic when creating your website is akin to losing out on 8–34 percent of your possible profits.”

      There are perks to having an LGBTQ-inclusive site within your company as well. It can help your employees feel safe and valued, regardless of how they identify. It will also help LGBTQ customers — and prospective LGBTQ employees — find you. For example, at DreamHost, we are champions of diversity — that’s why two of our core values are to empower people and give everyone a voice.

      12 Ways to Create an LGBTQ-Friendly Website

      So how can you tweak your site to be welcoming to all? Simply follow these 12 tips to create an LGBTQ-inclusive website.

      1. Use gender-neutral terms.

      Being inclusive when it comes to pronouns is crucial, especially in drop-down forms. “Gender forms should contain more than just binary options,” says Andrew Becks, co-founder and COO of 301 Digital Media, based in Nashville. “More to the point, why collect gender at all? Sign-up form completion rates will likely be higher with one less question, so maybe just avoid asking altogether unless absolutely necessary.”

      In addition to male and female, be sure to include ‘non-binary’ or ‘other’ as an option. “If ‘other’ is chosen, give them the option to write in what they want their gender to be,” Egocheaga says. “This will give you an in-depth look into that consumer’s mind so you can retarget them with specific marketing content.”

      If it’s an option on your site, a text field is the best bet since that will provide options that cover all of your users, explains Streker, who prefers to use the gender-nonspecific pronoun ‘they.’ “This allows people to write in options that you may not have considered, such as the Native American term two-spirit or the Native Hawaiian / Tahitian Māhū,” they says. “It irks me, as a gender non-binary person, to be forced to choose between radio buttons ‘male’ or ‘female.’”

      2. Include a variety of images.

      “Avoid clichés like featuring only opposite-sex couples in photography,” Becks says. Use pictures and graphics that represent individuals and couples from the LGBT community.

      “Facebook does a great job at this when they have two males or two females get married and share it as a milestone post, showing an icon of two males or an icon of two females dressed up,” Egocheaga says. “It’s the little things that make a huge difference.”

      Though there aren’t many LGBTQ-inclusive options on popular stock photo sites that you can buy, there are sites that offer inclusive content that reflect the diversity of your audience, such as, the LGBT section at Twenty20, Blend Images, PhotoAbility, and the Getty Images Lean In Collection.

      “Drawings can include LGBTQ people, too,” Strecker says. “For one of my company’s websites, to explain our product in a fun way, we commissioned a comic from artist Kelci Crawford that features a genderqueer character.”

      3. Show targeted products.

      “Where appropriate, have a section of the website dedicated to an organization’s LGBTQ-community outreach efforts or LGBTQ-targeted product offerings,” Becks says.

      “And definitely include that page on the menu so it catches everyone’s attention right away,” Queen of Surfing says. “A ‘straight’ person coming across your site might now forward it to their LGBTQ friend, having noticed that mention on your menu.”

      Want a real-world example? On its LGBTQ community page, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants spells out the organization’s commitment to diversity. In 2014, the hospitality giant became the first national hotel sponsor for The Trevor Project (the country’s largest organization that works toward crisis and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth), donating hotel rooms, meeting spaces, and catering, in addition to hosting fundraisers for the organization across the country. Additionally, Kimpton often caters to LGBTQ guests through their blog, Life Is Suite, with posts like 5 Unique Trips LGBT Travelers Will Love and Our Favorite 10 Gay Bars from San Francisco to Philly.

      4. Use SEO to Promote Your Site

      When you have an LGBTQ-inclusive site, you want to ensure the community finds it — and there are tricks for making that happen. “Build external links and partnerships from LGBTQ-community websites and blogs to diversify and improve a site’s SEO backlink profile,” Becks advises.

      Queen of Surfing emphasizes the value of a meta-tag to drive an audience. Essentially, a meta-tag is how people find your website. When you go online and input search terms in a search engine, those very words are meta-tags. To make your site pop up in first in searches, use these words repeatedly in your website.

      “In a nutshell, to attract the lesbian, gay, and transgender community to your website, meta-tag it by repeatedly mentioning the words ‘lesbian,’ ‘gay,’ and ‘transgender’ along with your matching product or service organically and wherever appropriate within your website,” Queen of Surfing advises. The keyword opportunities are limitless, she says:

      • If your site promotes cruises, include content that specifically mentions ‘lesbian cruises.’
      • If you focus on charity events, create content targeted around the phrase ‘gay charity.’
      • If your site covers healthcare topics, include an article about ‘transgender healthcare.’

      “You better believe when we go online, we don’t just search for a product or service,” Queen of Surfing adds. “We definitely input the words ‘transgender,’ ‘gay,’ or ‘lesbian’ with any product or service when we perform online searches.”

      5. Educate yourself about LGBTQ issues and terminology.

      “You can’t improve the user experience for your LGBTQ users until you understand where they’re coming from,” Strecker says. “This is an ongoing process. There are many ways to do it.” Here are a few examples:

      • Hire speakers to talk to your team about LGBTQ awareness.
      • Attend or sponsor events for LGBT people and allies in tech (for example, DreamHost sponsored an LGBT+Allies meetup during WordCamp US).
      • Follow blogs of LGBTQ advocacy organizations.
      • Get involved with local LGBTQ advocacy groups.
      • Support policies that promote diversity in the workplace.
      • Make LGBTQ resources available for employees.
      • If you have an LGBTQ person on your team, get their feedback. “They may have some valuable suggestions,” Strecker says. “But don’t put all the burden on them. Every member of your team should take responsibility for making the site more inclusive.”

      Strecker points out that the LGBTQ community is an incredibly diverse group with many communities and different points of view, consisting of people of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities. “LGBTQ people are wealthy and poor, urban and rural, and across the political spectrum,” they says. “Different LGBTQ people talk about their identities in very different ways.”

      Be sure to consult with the LGBTQ community for different aspects of your website. “Include LGBTQ representation in the website design, development, testing process, hiring, and vendor selection,” Becks adds.

      6. Collect only the data you need.

      “If your site is intended to be GDPR-compliant, you should already be doing this,” Strecker says. “Do you really need to ask your users what their gender is? If you don’t have a specific plan for how you’re going to use that data, don’t ask for it. If your users are participating in an online community, they may not need to know another user’s gender, but it can be helpful to know the pronouns to refer to that user (she/her, he/him, they/them, etc.). So, your user registration form can ask for the user’s preferred pronouns. To protect users’ privacy, this should be optional.”

      Remember to think about why you are collecting this data in the first place. Consider your present and future needs, and what you plan to do with the details you amass. If there isn’t a valid purpose for it, reconsider your approach.

      7. Tell users how you’re going to use their data.

      If you do ask users for their gender, sexual orientation, or other personal information, Strecker advises telling them how you’ll use that information:

      • With whom will it be shared?
      • Will it be shown publicly?

      “Because trans people may go by different names in different situations, when asking for a user’s name you should provide help text or other context to explain how that name will be used,” Strecker says.

      For example, if you’re asking for a phone number, inquire what name they want to be addressed by if you’re going to call them. When you ask for an address, have a name field that goes with that address. If you’re collecting donations, what’s the name that should appear on the tax receipt? What’s your billing name if you’re asking for credit card information? If you’re hosting an event, ask what name should be on the badge.

      8. Watch your language.

      “When writing the content for your site be mindful of non-binary terms,” Egocheaga says. “Gender fluid people are not confused, and you must be mindful of that. All LGBTQ people want is to be respected and acknowledged for who they are.”

      When asking for a user’s sexual orientation, there are so many possibilities — it’s not just lesbian, gay, or bisexual — so your best bet is to provide a text field, Strecker advises. When asking for a user’s title, in addition to the usual “Ms.”, “Mr.”, and so on, include the gender-neutral title “Mx.” and make the field optional.

      Questions about relationship status should consider more than just married or single. “With more and more kids growing up in households with same-sex parents, it’s time to retire the perennial security question: ‘What is your mother’s maiden name?’” Strecker says. “These may seem like small things, but they can make a big difference in making LGBTQ users feel welcome on your site.”

      9. Protect users from harassment on your site.

      “More and more online communities are instituting community agreements that protect users from harassment and hate speech,” Strecker says. “A web search will turn up many templates and examples to help you get started.”

      To make sure users understand your expectations, your community agreement should list some of the kinds of harassment that are banned, for example: “on the basis of race, ethnicity, disability”. This list should also include sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

      “Have a plan for how to respond to homophobic and transphobic comments,” Strecker says. “This may include deleting the comment, speaking to the user, and/or suspending the user’s account. Empower users to protect themselves. Many sites let users flag inappropriate comments to bring them to the attention of a moderator (who should be knowledgeable about LGBTQ issues). If your site has private messaging, enable users to block other users.”

      10. Use security best practices to protect users’ data.

      “Leaked data is bad for any user, but the consequences can be especially dire for LGBTQ users,” Strecker says. “For LGBTQ people who are not out at work, being publicly outed could get them fired. Twenty-eight states in the U.S. still have no laws protecting private employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTQ youth who are not out at home are incredibly vulnerable. If their family finds out, they could be abused, subjected to conversion therapy, or kicked out of the house.”

      In fact, a national survey by the University of Chicago found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth had a 120 percent increased risk of experiencing homelessness compared their peers who identified as heterosexual and cisgender.

      11. Support a cause.

      “If you’re a social enterprise make sure to showcase it on your site by showing exactly how you’re giving back to the LGBTQ community,” Egocheaga says.

      Whatever you decide to support, show how you’re helping on your website. “The LGBTQ community is known for having an open heart, and we tend to align ourselves with entities whose products or services are either sustainable in themselves, or entities who donate to worthwhile charitable causes and activism,” says Queen of Surfing. “Is your product or service eco-conscious in some way? I highly recommend overstating everywhere on your website wherever energetically appropriate each and every way your product or service is eco-friendly. This is guaranteed to attract the lesbian*gay*transgender*bisexual*queer pocketbook.”

      12. Avoid making homophobic and transphobic remarks.

      “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen someone do this, then dig themselves in deeper by saying, ‘It was only a joke,’” Strecker says. “If you mess up, own up to it, apologize, and be more mindful in the future.” This goes for all of your platforms. In addition to being careful about your website, keep the same policy in place for social media and any additional marketing materials.

      “The more you educate yourself about LGBTQ terminology and issues, the more you develop a sense of what is and is not appropriate to say,” Strecker says. “You can relax and be spontaneous in your online interactions without accidentally saying something hurtful.”

      Creating a Welcoming Website

      We all want to be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of who we are or where we come from. Your LGBTQ visitors deserve the same consideration you give your other users. And human rights aside, it just makes good business sense to make this diverse group feel at home when they visit your corner of the web.

      So tell us, how have you created an LGBTQ-inclusive website? Any other tips you’d add to this list? Share with us on social media or join the DreamHost Community to start a discussion.

      Source link