Most often, our Webs example sites feature small businesses. But during this time of the year, it seems most appropriate to feature a non-profit doing great work in our local community.

Building Hope, Inc. also has a special place in our hearts here at Webs, as it was founded by the mother of a long-time member of our support team. For the past few years, the whole team here has had a great time collecting and wrapping gifts to be delivered to families in the surrounding counties. This year we’ll be sending gifts to 82 kids. If you’d like to get involved with Building Hope, you can view their volunteer opportunities here.

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As we begin wrapping up our series on holiday marketing preparations, it’s only appropriate that today’s example site focus on a Webs user site that is doing a great job with ecommerce.

Kudzu Soap Company in northern Georgia does a fantastic job of using their website to marketing and sell their handcrafted bath items. Let’s take a look at 4 ways Kudzu’s website is set up for success:

1. Dynamic homepage ads. When you first arrive at Kudzu’s page, you get a snapshot of everything that’s going on with the brand without having to navigate around. This is a great way to get your important messages across before people have a chance to get distracted or hit the back button. Within 15 seconds I already know that they have special offers on Facebook and Twitter, I’ve seen an image of their products and packaging, I know where they are located, and that they make handcrafted soaps, boy mousses, and sugar scrubs. Not too shabby for a 15 second first impression.

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There are lots of ways to promote your business and many vehicles with which to get your marketing message across to potential customers. But sometimes the very best way to deliver your message effectively is to hold up a mirror to your potential customers and show them that people just like them have found what they were looking for with your products or services.

Today’s Webs example site does just that. By showcasing the successes of their past clients, brothers Tyler and Travis Blessing of T-N-T Fitness do a great job of letting their product speak for itself. The ‘before and after’ technique of marketing is a very effective one because it speaks to people who are searching for something as the person they are right now. Some marketers choose to show shoppers the ideal of ‘what could be’ thinking that people will be inspired to by their products based on the results alone. But many times people are doubtful that a product or service will work for them as well as it did for the person in the picture. Showing them a ‘before’ allows them to see themselves as your customer.

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Since our theme on the blog this month has been building community around your business, it seems appropriate that our Webs user example site today should be about community as well. A bit of a departure since we are not talking about marketing a business in this edition, instead we’re going to look at a great website created by a group of high school students in Los Angeles to help in the effort to combat bullying.

The website DontBeABully.net is the project of Middle College High School students Chinonso Anokwute, Rigoberto Flores Trigo, Carla Torres, Marquis Mark, Maria Espericueta, Zaria Keaton, Stephanie Henriquez, and Miguel Morales. These self-titled Whiz Kids participated in The Aspen Challenge in 2013, a program in which LA area students came together to work on issues that matter to them and present their solutions.

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In keeping with this month’s theme of trends and inspiration, today’s example site was chosen for its great use of a major trend in marketing right now: content marketing.

Content marketing is a strategy that involves creating and sharing various types of content (articles, photos, whitepapers, etc.) with the goal of boosting SEO, driving traffic, building loyalty, and acquiring new leads. If you’ve been reading the blog here for awhile, you’re no doubt already familiar with Content Marketing – not just because we’ve talked about it before, but also because a blog is a great example of content marketing!

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Unless you are a graphic designer by trade, creating a website from a blank canvas can be a seriously daunting task. That’s why many sitebuilders offer templates over which users can lay their content, logo, images, etc. when creating a website. This option makes attractive websites infinitely more accessible to personal and small business website owners.

The trouble with the template model is the lack of variety that can occur. It’s not a great feeling to spend hours loading all of your content into a website only to discover over the next couple of weeks that there’s another site out there that looks just like yours.

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One of the great things about featuring Webs user example sites as long as we have been is that we get to see how they change over time. Once such example comes to us today from Kim & Ellory’s Kitchen, a personal chef and catering service run by a husband and wife team.

We first featured Kim and Ellory’s site in June, 2011. At that time, their company’s website looked like this:

Since then, as their business has evolved, so has the style of their website. Here is their website today:

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Since we began this week talking about user-friendly website navigation in our How To Make a Website series, it’s only fitting that today’s Webs user Example Site should set, well, a good example.

RentMatrix, an online rental payment solution, has a clean and easy to navigate website that provides plenty of information in an organized fashion. There are a number of things going right with their navigation:

First, there are just 6 options to click on, and only one level of navigation. As we said in Monday’s blog post, multiple navigation levels can be a great way to organize and prioritize information for visitors if you have a lot of it. However, if you can slim down your content to fit on just a primary level, it’s much easier for visitors to see what’s available at a glance.

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While it’s important for anyone with a successful web presence to also have a good mobile-optimized version of their site, this holds especially true for businesses that sell their products directly over the web.

Currently, US consumers spend almost 1 in every 10 ecommerce dollars using a mobile device (Hubspot).

With that in mind, if you are not offering customers who prefer to browse the web on their mobile phones a way to buy from you, you’re essentially leaving money on the table.

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