For any website builder, domain names probably don't get a great deal of thought from one day to the next, but the fact of the matter is that a good domain can play a really important role in your business. They get your company recognised. They also play a role in getting your website found - via SEO too.
As an online business owners, having a memorable address means that you stand a far better chance of remaining sticky in the mind of your client - or website visitor. It's something that you can hook onto if your website is being promoted, or you're getting a new business card produced, sharing your professional email address, so much better than a free email address and contact information. A domain name is definitely an important asset, as important as your phone number.
Having said that, some people spend so much time thinking about their new website address that sometimes it actually puts them into paralysis.
There are loads of different top level domain TLD out there, and by TLDs, I mean like, flok.marketing, for example. The extension is what makes it different.
For us, it's .marketing, but there is of course, more than one domain name extension here are some of the more generic top level domains: .com, .co.uk - known as country code top level domains in the United Kingdom, not to mention .edu.
The list is almost endless. And there are likely more of these being released periodically.
It’s key to not get too frustrated if you can't find a TLD that suits your business. I'm sure that one will become available that will suit your business.
How To Get A Domain Name
When you're registering domains, try to keep it as short and concise as you can. It may not always be possible, but try to avoid putting the word "the" at the beginning and any other unhelpful words - as they are likely to be the reason you get less visitors - for no other reason than a mistake. Try to avoid hyphens. Those are the types of things that introduce ambiguity, and therefore potentially transpiring that people will go to the wrong website or no website at all. Do try to find a domain that reflects your products and services.
It's crucial to consider these points when choosing a domain - to avoid problems in the future.
So, why do we even have these names? Well, it's a great question. Most people are aware that websites are hosted on servers, servers that are in touch with the world wide web. Those servers each have a string of number called an IP address.
That IP address is unique to that particular server. Now, it would be no good putting an IP address on a business card because it would be terribly hard to remember. So, domain names are the intermediary.
When somebody types in a website address into their web browser, what happens next is that information is sent to your nominated DNS server on the web. The server then takes that information and translates it into the IP address.
After typing flok.marketing into my web browser, it's taken to the name server and changed into server number 173.122.273.24. That is essentially how it works.
Then finally your web page gets served. This all happens in a split second. You probably wouldn’t even notice it.
Who Owns The Domain Name?
Many people ask if they actually own the domain name? And if not, who does own the custom domain? Well, the process works a lot like a registration number plate. It's yours for as long as you keep paying for it.
Generally, people will buy a domain for two, three, five years. At that point, if they don't renew, that name goes back into the pool for somebody else to purchase. You can never actually entirely own a domain, but you can buy it for a long period of time.
Another question related to that is who owns a particular domain? Now, that used to be really, really easy because you could do research using a WHOIS lookup function on the internet. There are websites specifically designed to show you who owns a particular domain from the WHOIS database.
However, nowadays, and particularly with the advent of GDPR, that domain information is often obscured because when you purchase or renew a domain, you can often buy, for a few pounds, domain privacy. Therefore, a lot of the time, that information is hidden.
WATCH OUR VIDEO
Sit back and watch as I answer some of the most popular questions relating to domain names, perfect for those who'd like to know a little bit more about the building blocks of a website.
How To Buy A Domain Name
I also get asked how to buy a domain name. There are lots and lots and lots of places that sell names. We sell them, but we normally sell them through an intermediary. But you can purchase them through somewhere like 123 Reg, or somewhere like that.
You make the choice. There are lots and lots of different pricing levels dependent on the extension of the top-level domain.
How To Register A Name
As an example, .coms are more expensive to purchase in the UK than a .co.uk, although there are lots and lots and lots of offers, so it pays to shop around. You use a domain registrar. Sometimes they have offers I have seen the odd free domain on occasion.
But definitely check to find out what they normally charge. Most of those service providers provide the same service, so fundamentally, you are shopping on price.
We charge a premium because, quite often, we are setting up not just the domain and buying it on behalf of the customer, but we're tying it into a website, maybe email services and those types of things, which takes a little bit of time. But actually, the purchasing of a domain can be done really really cheaply.
Can I Buy Domain Name Without Hosting?
One of the other questions that I get asked is, "Can I buy a domain without hosting?" And of course, the answer is yes you can. You can instigate domain registration and not do anything with it at all.
As long as you keep paying for the domain renewal, that domain will remain yours. You don't need to have hosting at all. You can just have the domain.
Can I Change The Domain Of My Website?
Well, fundamentally, you can, but there are lots and lots and lots of implications on that, not least that you may have to change the configuration of your website to make it work again. A lot of this work would be achieved using the hosting companies control panel and ftp.
The other thing that it will have an implication of is your search engine rankings. If you're ranking highly for a particular domain and the webpage, that will change, and it will have an impact. So, really keep that in mind before you make a massive decision like changing a domain name of your website.
I was also asked whether or not the register, for example, Go Daddy, LCN, 123 Reg, actually own the domain names. And the answer is no. ICANN, for example, in America, look after the databases that hold the names and the owners of all of the domain names.
Nominet in the UK look after the .co.uk names. The fact of the matter is, as I said before, you don't actually own the domain. The domain is only yours for as long as you pay for it.
What About SSL Certificates?
And finally, I wanted to talk about SSL certificates and domain names. The two are not mutually exclusive. The two can be purchased entirely separately, and you don't necessarily need to have one to have the other. An SSL certificate can be purchased entirely separately, or you can get a free one dependent on the level of protection that you're actually looking to have for your website.
So, for example, if it's more of a brochure site, something where it's more information-based but people aren't necessarily transacting anything and handing over too much information about themselves, then a low-level certificate will be fine.
If you're running an e-commerce store, and perhaps you're getting a lot of orders, or the value of the goods is really, really high, then you really need an excellent SSL certificate. And that may cost you hundreds or thousands of pounds because the protection that it offers you is so much greater.
It's really down to personal preference as to how much protection you get, but you don't have to have one for a domain, although it is recommended, and the search engines love an SSL certificate, and in fact, do also rank website pages higher if they are shown to be secure because it gives some validity to your online presence.
So, consider an SSL certificate. You can often get an SSL certificate free with your website hosting. I know that we certainly offer a low-level certificate which means that you can get that padlock, which all important to show that your website is trusted by the web browsers.
So, look at SSL certificates. However, choose wisely because you could be wasting a lot of money, or you could be over-compensating for something you don't necessarily need to do at that particular point in time. But an SSL certificate is a great idea, but you don't necessarily need to buy them from the same place, and you don't even necessarily need to pay money for them.
7 Reasons Why Business Cards Matter
Are Business Cards Outdated?
If you spend most of your working day in the virtual world - and let’s face it, who doesn’t - you may have overlooked one of the most relevant, portable and cost-effective forms of advertising, marketing and promoting available to your business. In another post I wrote I talk about the importance of networking as a marketing factor. A beautifully designed business card is a sight to behold. Yes, we often question how much business cards matter and their relevance. If you’re struggling to understand why this small piece of colourful card remains an important marketing tool - please check out my 7 reasons.
Normally these are the cards that stand up on their own. I don't mean actually stand up like a Christmas card - but stand up to scrutiny. That they are attractive enough to make a statement without distracting from the message. That they use colour and typeface to enhance the messaging. That the messaging is more than an address and phone number. Most importantly that it gives a mini snapshot into your world. Think about what from your business is going to give a potential client a look under your company's bonnet?
What is the usual information on a business card?
The basics are essential. Your Name, the company name, ideally a way of communicating with you - i.e email address and a phone number. There is a lot of debate about putting mobile numbers on a business card. I have done both. Given the fact that I sleep next to my phone, I don’t really feel I need to be that accessible. Which is why I decided to remove my mobile number from my business card.
Do put social handles of either yourself (if you have a business persona) or company handles for social media.
It Makes A New Business Stand Out
If you’re fresh out of the gates, then high quality business cards are a great way to give your new company some credibility and visibility. A beautiful design with your contact details gives a tangible product to a potential customer that can scream quality! It also starts to give an idea as to your business values - so be careful what messaging you use. Something positive could have people reaching for the phone. Something negative could have them reaching for the dustbin.
Please note, if you’re seeking to make a splash with your new business, invest in some well-thought-out well designed business cards. What could add value to this transaction? Could there be a link to your social media? Some freebies? Something that is going to make the experience of the person you've just met - last a bit longer than the short time you'll chat. Maybe a scan me code for a BOT - anything that will keep you more memorable than the next person.
A Virtual Card Is Lost Almost Immediately
If you’ve ever been to a networking event, you’ll have probably looked at the delegate list beforehand, identified who you’d like to meet and committed your hit-list to memory. So let’s say you meet your dream potential client.
You’ve exchanged pleasantries, you’ve established a rapport, it’s all going really quite well. So it comes to the end of your all but brief meeting. What do you do?
Modern-day etiquette has us reaching for our mobile phone to connect on social media or a quick transmission of your contact information is agreed. But it’s not visible after your meet. All too quickly you’ve become a statistic along with the other two thousand contacts inside their phone. Nothing special now about your rapport and suddenly, you’re relying on their memory, which could be good, bad or indifferent.
It may be really convenient to be able to produce your business card via a mobile phone app at any time, however it just makes you the same as everyone else. you can’t write your name stylishly and in this day and age where there is in some markets saturation beyond belief - why would you just want to be the same?
If you feel you do need to send your details via phone - do it AS WELL - don’t do it instead of. There are far better ways to illustrate who you are - what makes you amazing and why people should choose you over the competition.
You produce your newest marketing device. A double-sided, business card that has been through the matt lamination process with a bit of spot UV added into the mix - to make parts of the card shiny. It has your name clearly stated, to avoid embarrassing snafus, your position and what your business does.
Not only that, there’s every possible medium listed to contact you. It looks smart, and your client makes that James Bond - eyebrow-raising look to say “you’ve thought about this - haven’t you?”
That’s when you know - as they play with your calling card in their hand, that you are being remembered for more than a two-minute conversation and a bunch of forgettable contact details.
Whilst we all know that digital marketing is great for getting your name out there and taking prospective clients on those first steps into your funnel - there is really nothing quite like a meeting, a handshake and an exchange of personalised business cards.
You never know where you’re going to meet your next big client. Whether you’re travelling by car, plane or boat - you need to be prepared to network at a moments notice. So you need to be ready. Half of the challenge is that you don’t want to be carrying around a slide deck with you.
So, business cards show a perfect introduction to a new client. Let’s face it, you can have a link to a slide deck on your business card. Plus, they are highly portable. You can carry them in a wallet, purse, pocket, handbag or briefcase.
First Impressions Last - A Long Time
So you’ve just met your next big prospective client. How do you want them to remember you? Having a bad (normally cheap or free) business card is a bit like drinking a wine that’s corked. You’re full of anticipation, and then you take a sip and - UGH! Awful. It's not as simple as to upload a design template and then that's it. No, think about the quality of the product. Think about what it says about you and your company.
The Smallest Ambassador Of Your Business
Think of a business card as an ambassador: It needs to say the right things at the right time and always have the company at the forefront of it's reason for exisiting. It's ideal to parachute into a situation and be there as a prompt to get people thinking about you in a favourable light again.
A memorable calling card does a lot more than just pass on an email address or phone number.
When I give my business card over to a contact, I want them to look at it with interest - not with horror or disgust. It needs to scream quality - not “bin me”. You’ve heard the phrase buy cheap - buy twice? That’s exactly what you’ll be doing with a cheaply made, mass-produced - paper-like card. Pity the poor people who have to get that wafer out of their pocket after a heavy days networking.
It is my desire to make people stop and admire the design it's more than just colour printing. There is all manner of paper types and weights - but never deviate from the standard size - otherwise, they won’t fit into your card case or wallet. Spend time on a creative business card design and printing choices. They are numerous and ensure that you talk to your designer and the printer as to what is new and improved in the world of business card printing. Make sure thought that the business card size stays around the standard - to allow for easy storage.
If you’ve left it a bit late - most offer a quick printing service and next day delivery. But be warned a laser printed card might get you out of a hole, but it isn’t going to make your business sticky in the mind of a prospective customer when you think of all of the different paper stocks and things like gloss lamination that are available as finishes.
Quality comes at a higher price. But what if that cost could be offset against the number of new clients attracted to you by a quality product?
Some people feel awkward about when it's a good time to hand a card to a contact. The answer is that you may need to craft a time within the conversation. Don't leave it to the last minute - otherwise it can get a bit strained. If you're getting the buying signals or at least nodding and interest - that is the time to exchange. Maybe, draw some attention to a particular section of your card regarding an offer or a contact name and number.
If It’s Really Cool It Might Take On A Life Of It’s Own
Imagine if your calling card became it’s own talking point. You give it to a contact and they, in turn, are so impressed with the design, the look, the font sets (the humour) that they show it to some colleagues. Now that’s brand awareness. What’s more, is that it’s free and easy to replicate.
How embarrassing is it when you’re out and you reach into your pocket. Only to present someone with another person’s business card! Worse still - you realise that the clump of cards you have in your jacket are everybody else’s.
Keep a stash of cards in all jackets and blazers you wear. I always keep a pile of my own cards in my office at home and replenish as needed. I’ve missed opportunities in the past when I didn’t have cards with me. It simply looks bad and ill-prepared.
Being the swiss army knife to business is what it takes to win a seat at the table. Stay sharp and look at each opportunity a way of increasing your network - one card at a time.
Less Is More - Keep Assaying It Down
A cleverly placed sentence on a calling card can make the difference to who calls you. It’s great to get calls from all sorts - but when you’ve been in business a while, you’d probably appreciate a way of filtering enquiries to those who are more likely to want your services at your price points. Think about what you could put - just a few words, that could encourage the right people to call and dissuade the wrong ones.
Use Both Sides - One For Your Creativity and One For Contact Details.
In Summary - Silent Marketing Legends
If you thought that throwing your old cards in the bin was a sensible plan - think again. A business card can make an impression - long after your meeting has ended. What would you rather do? Be instantly forgettablee? Or would you rather be thought of as that quirky clever person who bought a knowing smile to the face of a potential business contact?
Keep refining them to make them the most efficient, effective, sought after items you possess. Make your business cards the first part of your marketing mix. They’re still as important - if not more so than they ever were. My recommendation? Get a good one designed today. Think about your company messaging and how you want to be remembered. Put the most important contact details on the card. Make it clear.
Choose an appropriate and easy to read typeface and just go for it. Make sure you talk to a decent printer, who consistently produces good quality products. Don't be tempted to find a cheap alternative. Remember, people make judgements on the things you give away. Do you want to say - I'm cheap or I think you're important and worth lavishing time and effort on? Personally, I'd rather be remembered for the latter. Ask your printer for recommendations.
Ask them what they would recommend. I normally print around 500 cards off at a time. When I have printed more cards, something always changes. From a phone number to an address - then you have to throw them away. Keep the volume to a level that you can get through in six to twelve months.
How Long Does It Take To Build A Website?
After my weighty tome from a couple of weeks ago on planning a website, I thought it would be quite useful to consider how long a custom designed website development might take to create. As a developer, it’s more coding than drag and drop. A good, user-friendly website design shouldn’t ever be hurried. If you're looking to build a website that gets you business - it's important to consider these questions.
It’s also one of the main factors in the success of your web design project. Standard business website can start as a 5 to 10 page project.
The concise answer is: much longer than you'd expect, but it will be worth the wait. You can find five main factors in a project’s timeline:
How Soon Can Your Developer Begin The Work To Build A Website?
High-quality website developers are usually booked pretty solidly, and so can’t start your site at the drop of a hat. There may be some delay from when you initially hire the developer to when they actually start your website project.
How Quickly Can You Provide The Images and Video They Need?
This is often one of the areas that hadn’t crossed a clients mind. As previously discussed, images are the life-blood of a new website. Getting them right will propel your website into the stratosphere and have your competitors green with envy. Get it wrong and your site will disappear into the back-waters of the world wide web. Spend a good long time getting professional images and/or video to lift your development. Everyone knows that video is a powerful medium and yet normally so few people take the plunge due to their own prejudice.
How Quickly Can You Provide The Content?
It’s a mistake to believe the content of your old website is going to cut it in the next generation of website. Unless you spent a great deal of time and money on getting it right the last time - and if you did - why are you getting a new site? No, start afresh, think about what worked and what you now need. If you can assess the old website as to pages that were frequently visited and those that weren’t.
I would suggest getting someone who is good at writing to compile your website. Be honest, if you hate writing, don’t do it - it’ll hurt - every step of the way. As you develop a web site the content becomes even more important.
How long before a site is Ready for Review?
Most designers and developers have a definite process for developing a website, and can describe roughly just how long it will require to get an online site in the hands. A design team would normally start with creating a sitemap, a wire-frame and then a design if we’re using a CMS like WordPress then we need to ascertain what extra development might be needed like WordPress plugins.
Once approved they get to work developing. Most agencies are happy to answer queries and questions and are generally at the end of an email address.
This final factor is the biggest variable and depends largely on you, the client. It includes reviewing the website, making change requests, and finalising content. It also depends on how accessible your domain is. Whether you need the site hosted, and how long that will take to set up.
Most developers will host your development site on a test server somewhere and they’ll install WordPress in an area that is away from prying eyes. Much like a wedding cake, it needs to be moved to its final destination. Also always good to check when the final payment needs to be made to ensure that your site isn’t delayed due to an invoice needing to be settled.
Unlike a wedding cake there is also a mobile friendly version, that also needs to be reviewed and tested. As you create your website, make sure you check the site out on more than one mobile device.
How Soon Is Soon?
If a client calls us - saying something like: “can you get it ready in a couple of weeks?” You’ll probably get fairly short shrift from most decent agencies and designers because they're booked up and wouldn’t be able to make that commitment.
A better way to tackle it is to talk about your goals and deadlines and let them describe how they might solve it and in what timescale. You can then make your selection predicated on their responses, including their suggested solution, quality of past work, timeline and cost.
There’s no “standard” timeframe that coders are booked up. It absolutely is determined by the individual (or company) and their current workload. My team is normally booked 1-3 calendar months beforehand, but it varies. Right now, we’re scheduling assignments starting in November for some clients. But I’m pretty sure that if someone came to us with a very clear goal and intention we’d could find space for another!
Also, the level of complexity makes a difference to delivery time. Is it going to have a members area, or an online store?
Recently, an old client of mine decided to use another agency as we couldn’t start work immediately creating the business website. There was around a months difference. However, that time was soon used up and soon enough the client was behind the schedule we had mapped out for them.
This could have been for many reasons and it wasn’t anyone’s fault specifically, but, it shows that a quick start doesn’t guarantee quality, speed or a relationship. They admitted they had made a mistake and pledged that the next site would be ours!
How Quickly Can You Get a Site Online and Ready for Review?
Your developer is likely to work on a multi stage project framework. They normally kick everything off with a client meeting where you talk through what you have at the moment, what you like, what you hate and what you’ve seen on other sites that excites you.
The agency would then take some time to work out how that could be applied to your site and goals. They then confirm what functions your site needs and what you’re looking for and also ensure that your expectations are managed. Afterwards, they create a sitemap and make time to build rough wireframe to get an idea for placement. It's an important step as you're building your website.
They then proceed to design, where they mock up just how all the pages might look across all devices. The completed designs are the images of your future site. Finally, the design team move along to development, where they build an online site that suits the approved look, feel and function detailed in the proposal document. The developed working website is then delivered to the client in test form for review. So begins the adjustment period.
The three stages typically take eight to twelve weeks - based upon a wordpress site framework.
How Long Before We Can Present Our New Baby to The World
The final link in the chain is the “Adjustment Period”. We don’t limit it to a certain number of weeks - normally it takes as long as you need to review and alter your new website.
This typically includes change requests for minor bugs on a web page or design inconsistencies. I would recommend budgeting at least two weeks for modifications.
The best way to get a website launched rapidly is usually to be prepared.
Block out the right amount of time in your program to examine and review. Knowing when a site is going to drop is critical. Put the date in your diary. The quicker your developer can iterate through changes, the earlier the website gets put live.
You can probably predict what content will be needed and also have it ready. Planning to have some case studies on your website? Great!
Write this content while we’re developing and creating the site. Then you’ll be ready with a set of case studies and be ready to go.
One of the biggest final hurdles as a website builder is obtaining the custom domains details and web hosting information. Using a quality hosting plan is going to cost you money. But then this isn’t a free website any longer. Whilst it is an investment for a small business, ensuring that the domain details are to hand and that you have a quality plan for your website or online shop is vital. The key thing is that the domain can be dealt with during or before you start building.
It's also important to remember to allow time for finding your way around the new CMS - like the WordPress Dashboard.
The number one cause for delayed launches is lack of content. No one wants to launch a half-finished website, and content marketing is tough. Consider including content strategy and copywriting right into our project’s scope.
Once the site goes live, the important factors of adding and activating Google Analytics and other search engines, social media links and of course creating content, as well as utilising all of the other marketing tools available. If you're not sure which tools to use. Take the free trial or low cost period, to work it out. They may not all be right for you - at this moment.
In Summary: Just Tell Me - How Long Is It to Create a Website?
A typical timescale to create a custom website will take around 8 to 12 weeks at the very least from beginning to launch. This includes 2 weeks research and development, 4-6 weeks design, 1-2 weeks first development, and 1 week of modifications. It could take a lot longer if you hold out right up to the end to begin writing content.
They would provide a set of timescales we can have deliverables ready for your own review, and the date when we’ll need your feedback to stick to the schedule. Add these to your calendar so you’re ready to respond. If there are any extensions - like holidays and illness, let them know at the earliest opportunity so they can adapt the schedule accordingly.
An estimated timescale of starting with a developer to develop a website and a delay to the start time shouldn’t be the reason to hire or not an agency. You ought to be actively researching and hiring your agency and creative team team 4-6 weeks before your desired kick off date.
Bring More Visitors To Your Website
Had you considered that your website, the very thing that you have created to promote your business could be losing you sales right now? Had you thought that visitors may not even be able to find your site – let alone decide if you’re the right business for them. Have you been disappointed in the lack of enquiries from your website? Are you like many other businesses and believe that you just don’t get enquiries through the internet?
Are you serious? Enquiries that come from online sources are stronger than ever. If you’re not getting enquiries from cyberspace – have you considered that your website might not be up to the job? Be honest, when was the last time you invested time in your website?
If you’re not getting enquiries from your website you need to ask why. If you’re confident that your products or services sell in the real world, then there is no way you shouldn’t be getting enquiries from the virtual world.
Here are 13 of the biggest mistakes we’ve uncovered on people’s websites – number 3 is a real punch in the bread basket.
You're not getting found
If you’re not getting found, then you’re unlikely to have many or any site visitors. There are quite a few different reasons. It can be as simple as your site hasn’t been picked up yet – because it is really new, or, it could be that you’ve not set your robots.txt up to allow the BOTs to crawl your website or they weren’t set up properly when the site was uploaded.
Essentially the search engines don’t have any timescales that they work to – therefore, if your site is new and you haven’t informed the search engines about the face that the site has been updated or replaced, it may take several weeks or months before they find it.If this is the issue, it can be rectified by using the search engines designated“webmasters” interface. This is what Google used to call their dashboard interface. This will allow you to upload the site map and also notify search engines about specific (or all) pages on your website.
A quick way to find out if site has been added to search engine but is just not simply showing up for any search term is to type in the url of the website for example https://flok.marketing and see if your latest website pops up. If it does – it is probably more to do with the page optimisation or that the site is so new – the search engines haven’t optimised it yet.
Unsecure website - no ssl certificate
It has been drummed into web users that all websites need a certificate to prove their authenticity. Having an SSL certificate(ask your webmaster or hosting company for more information) means that data is encrypted for the purpose of the journey through cyberspace. This means that if you send your personal details, until it reaches its final destination, it will be almost impossible to read – until it is introduced to the de-crypto on key at the end of its journey. Please remember not all SSL certificates are the same!
The higher the level of encryption (not always, but often) and also the higher the levels of assurances you will receive from the certificate issuer. This is more important for businesses who sell ticket items and e-commerce. If you are sending rudimentary data, then a lesser certificate should suffice. But always check with an expert first. You may be unnecessarily spending a lot of money on something that is simply not required.
Not having an SSL certificate may throw loads of warnings on your web browser – particularly Chrome – who prevents you from accessing a website until you click various messages to acknowledge that you’re entering a possibly un secure website. This doesn’t look very appealing and is likely to put off most website visitors. Check your user experience to make sure this isn’t happening.
There is no accounting for taste – that is what we’re told. But honestly there are some websites against humanity that really need removing – forever! Badly designed sites that is the equivalent of spraying lemon juice into your eyes. Designs that have you reaching for the bucket rather than reaching for the phone.
Make sure that the most important points for visitors is above the fold (i.e you don’t have to scroll to read it).Statistically, only 40% of people scroll – so putting your killer offer at the bottom – means almost no one will see it.
Some people simply shouldn’t be allowed to design websites. Sometimes – the sites are so strangely designed that you simply can’t find your way around them. Others are badly designed or designed in such a style that they’ve disregarded the last five years of website advancements. Whatever the reason, it is always best to use what I call – can granny work it test. Sit down with someone who is not linked to your business and ask them to navigate to the most important pages. As them – if they understand what they’re doing and why. If you’re getting sketchy answers, you may need to look at the design.
Sometimes, we sit too closely to the issue to be able to see it – sort of hidden in plain site. It is important that your site is designed intuitively. You want people to find exactly what they’re looking for – with as little ambiguity as possible. Trust me, they will move onto another website if your websites design isn’t clear and concise. The design can be a bit out there – as long as it doesn’t feel alien. If it does –people may leave your website with a bemused look on their faces. More importantly, they’re unlikely to return in a hurry.
Not mobile friendly
Somewhat surprisingly, there are so many websites that simply don’t work on mobile devices. Worse than that – there are many business owners who believe that just because a web page shrinks to be shown on a website – that means that their website is mobile compliant. Please allow me to confirm that a tiny web page on a mobile device is a friend to no-one. Trust me when I write that nobody will consider your site to be mobile friendly in that instance.
The ideal is that the website is designed to seamlessly change from a desktop format to a mobile format without missing a beat. It probably means that if your website was designed more than five years ago, there is every chance that your site may not comply. This also has implications on website rankings too. If you don’t have a mobile friendly site– search engines will downgrade you in the search engine rankings –particularly now that Google searches from a mobile first perspective.
A truly mobile optimised site will resize text and images to fit optimally on your mobile devices screen. It normally means that images are reduced and sometimes removed to keep the vital information visible on the screen in a limited space.
Your website is loading too slowly
How frustrating is it to wait for a website to load. How often have we just left the site and moved on? If you’re impatient, your visitors will be too. Slow sites have a whole list of reasons as to why they’re slow. From oversized images (i.e images that are far larger than they need to be) slowing down the load time. It could also be your hosting. Cheap hosting often compromises at the server speed and allocation to each website.
It could also be something more fundamental to your website. For example, it could be that the coding is inefficient or badly written. Or as is often the case, it’s old code that needs to be updated.Oftentimes this can be resolved with some simple updates, other times, it means a rewrite – especially if the base system is no longer being developed or plugins are no longer working.
Badly spelt, poorly written content
Sounds ridiculous, but it is staggering as to how many people are put off by poor spelling and grammar. The things is that these things matter to visitors, its about your credibility. I remember checking a website that had a massive typo on the header of the website –meaning that everyone made a judgement almost instantly. “Click to find out mo” was the phrase. Now I’m not too sure who “mo” is but find!
It comes down to the final proof reads –that’s what makes a difference. If you aren’t keen on writing, hire a professional to do it for you. There are many highly expert copywriters who will make your business appeal to anyone who visits your website. Once added to your website, make sure that someone reads the pages – to ensure that nothing appears that shouldn’t and that it all reads properly. Poor punctuation can make all the difference to meaning in a sentence. For example:
Let’s eat Grandma!
But more likely:
Let’s eat, Grandma!
What a difference a comma makes – in this instance it’s saved Grandma’s life. Having a poorly proof-read website – snaps people out of their zombie trance, it makes them check their judgement.Moreover, it gives them an opportunity to question their judgement.
There are two good ways to check your own work. Leave it for a few hours, or ask someone else to proof read your work.Both ways give a fresh look to your work and allows for some objective judgement on the quality of what you have written.
Who are you and what do you do?
Sounds obvious, but you’d be staggered as to how many websites don’t actually explain who they are and what they do on the home page. They start gabbling on about their values and how much they do for you. But at no point do they explain what their offer is. Imagine walking down a high street and not being able to tell what each shop sells.You’d probably not bother to go in.
As humans we don’t need much of an excuse to not do something different, given the excuse we will revert to type and just keep on walking past. Not explaining broadly what you do as quickly as you can is as ridiculous as my shop example.
It is vital to set your stall out on your website. Be clear in your offer, we want visitors to be clear on whether they are in the right place or not. If they are – great! Read on. If not, be gone!But give visitors the opportunity to decide for all of the right reasons.
No pain - no gain!
It sounds strange, but prospective buyers need to understand why they’re even looking for the product or service you’re supplying. Having a homepage that makes your solution relatable is key to getting visitors to recognise themselves. What I mean by that is if you were promoting a weight loss program, you’d put some of the pain points on your home page. For example:
Has Christmas stacked on the pounds?
Are you looking to get beach body ready for your next holiday?
Just underneath – you need to put the answer to their problems – a click here for all of your problems to go away kind of button. It may appear obvious what you do and why you’re doing it, but remember that visitors need to know why they’re on your website and what you can do to help them.
Have three pain points for your product or service to help people understand that you have an understanding or their situation.
Not enough detail
Have you ever read a self help book or business book where the content is thin to say the least? Where it’s clear that the author is unwilling to share the “how”? Or you buy a book from a charity shop or thrift store only to find out the last few pages are missing.
That’s exactly how visitors feel about websites that don’t go into enough detail.
Now it’s fair to say that not everyone needs the detail to make a decision – and that’s OK. They don’t have to read the detail. But a web page should be set out with the highlights at the top and the detail below. It draws in the visitor. It makes them understand more thoroughly your offer and the personality of your business. Most importantly, it shows that you know what you’re talking about. Having sparse, thin pages that don’t engage do nothing for your business and more importantly, nothing for how potential clients perceive your business.
Make sure that you go into sufficient detail. Missing the detail is a crime and your sales will be the victim if you don’t make sure that your site tells a prospective client all about how you operate.
No clear call to action
Missing a call to action, can be as fatal as missing the phone number of your website entirely. Visitors need to know what you expect them to do. It may seem strange, but most people need sign posts – a call to action is exactly that. It’s there to coax people along the sales process and funnel. People like to take small steps when they enter the unknown.
Calls to action light the way, they take you from place to place until you’re ready. Finally they show you the way to either make contact or buy the product.
Make sure that your website has a clear call to action on each page to help your visitors way find.
Are you an expert?
We touched on this previously.Content, blogs and in-depth pages help to set you up as an authority. If your website is a string of poorly worded sales pages, trust me, you won’t get many enquiries. Historically, websites that kill you with kindness get the best response and also get the most people taking action.
We’ve had clients who have provided us with the bare minimum and it never fails to amaze me that they are surprised when no one visits a page with 3 sentences on it. Of course they don’t. Why would they? If this document was 2 paragraphs long – would you believe that I know what I was talking about? Of course not – I have to prove to you that I really do have over 25 years experience in digital marketing and web development.
Your website needs to showcase you and your team as the people who know – categorically. No ifs no buts. So why wouldn’t you show people what you know – maybe by video or by blog or an infographic. Whatever you choose – people will appreciate the time you’ve taken.
Contact forms don't work
It may seem an obvious one, but there have been many times that prospective clients complain of no enquiries –only to discover that their contact form stopped working 6 months ago and they didn’t notice or do anything about it.
As a standard practice, you or one of your team should take the time to fill in a form every week or two – to ensure that there is nothing stopping those enquiries coming through. It’s a 5minutes job and it means that you’ll be ready for when you get the enquiries you’re looking to attract.
The site is hard to navigate
Have you checked that you can move around your site. Have you checked it makes sense? Having a fancy way to navigate or worse than that – a hidden or hard to find way to navigate will put people off your website. Please keep it simple. There are always expectations when it comes to websites. The navigation should either be visible or highlighted within the “burger” button. Failing that, if you are using alternative methods – like images or text links, ensure that they are clear to see.
Visitors scare easily. We had an example of a client who made visitors press a button half way down the page before the menu popped up. Pointless! You can guess what happened. No-one visited any other other pages from the home page.
This about how long your pages are. Scrolling is now commonplace – and yet people still don’t do it as much as you think. So keep the important stuff - especially the navigation stuff near the top – ideally at the top.
Website Design Plan 11 Easy Steps To Take (Brand New Guide) 2020
There are so many reasons why it is vital to have a website in 2020. Here's some things to consider before you start building your web site. planning your Website Design, development or maintenance and don't know where to start? Maybe you're a small business and it's been left to you to get a site up and running? I've created a set of 11 easily actionable steps that will help anyone - from a start-up to an established business get on the right track during the website planning process. I am a massive believer in strategy holding the key to success and the importance of website planning. Remember that your website can take a while to develop (see my post on how long it takes to develop a website)
Following these steps will ensure your website stands the best chance of success. Most of these steps can be carried out by anyone. I'm going to share these 11 steps that are going to put you on the road to website dominance. Changing from a good website to a great website.
NUMBER 1 - BE CLEAR ON YOUR OFFER - WILL IT SELL - WILL PEOPLE TAKE ACTION?
It's the single thing businesses are normally not very good at. Often this is completely overlooked. Being targetted and making sure that you are clear on what you are going to offer on your website. Before embarking on your website creation, I would suggest starting, by creating something like a mindmap to get the idea of what your site structure might look like.
For those who have never created a Mind Map before, it is simply a way of organising your idea into sections that allow you to digest it more clearly and allows for more ideas to be simply added.
Make sure that you literally dump all of your thoughts into the mind map. From the products and services, you offer to the bundles and the incentives. Work out how you're going to arrange them to make it intuitive and informative on your site and correlate together with your website structure.
NUMBER 2 - WHAT IS YOUR WEBSITE IS GOING TO ACHIEVE?
It is vital to remember that your website is being developed for your audience - not for yourself. Unless it is an intranet.
Brainstorm what function you'd like your website to perform. Is it a brochure site (yawn!). Could it be a repository for documentation and special prices for your supplier base? Could it have downloadable content and video?
Consider creating your own mission statement that encapsulates why you're creating a website in the first place.
[MY COMPANY]provides [GOODS and SERVICES]to [TYPE OF CLIENT]in a [HOW]manner. Giving them [USP]and providing [BENEFIT].
Maybe, as with other business websites, you need your site to provide 50 leads a day? Or make the phone ring. Any of these are valid reasons for wanting a site created and moreover to be working through a digital marketing strategy. It is vital, however, that you keep in mind your intention all the way through. Make sure that you don't deviate from your core objectives - if you do, it is highly likely your visitors will deviate from your intention too. Just like my article on why having the right type of Business Card- being clear on what you want to achieve is really important.
NUMBER 3 - WHO ARE YOU SELLING TO? - CREATE PERSONAS
Think about who your audience is. What's their name? What is their pain and how are you going to address it? Sounds a bit mother earth doesn't it? But creating personas that allow you to establish who your target audience is could be the difference between a successful implementation and a complete failure. Creating two to three persona's is a great way to understand the traits of your target clients.
You can also make a clearer vision for a design team who is going to create a design and content that will bowl over any new visitors to your planned website.
THE PERSON BEHIND THE PERSONA
The way we would normally work this is to take a sheet of paper and divide it into four sections. The top left would be the background of the persona, you may decide to give them a name, age where they live, their background. Making them as rounded as possible.
THEIR BACKGROUND STORY
Take some time to write down in the top right-hand quadrant, the things that happen during their day to day that make them an ideal candidate for what you are promoting. Things like: The boss is sure that we should be getting leads from our website but wants to know how we can do that.
What are they looking for in a relationship with your business? What do you need to demonstrate or show that is going to make this a worthwhile two-way?
Think about how you might connect with them. What is going to make them come to your website in the first place? Think about the benefits you can demonstrate to personas needs. They normally fall under one of three benefit categories:
MADE, LAID OR PAID
MADE: Will it make me look good to my colleagues, boss or people in general. Will it make me feel good. Will it demonstrate my success? LAID: How will this interaction make me look to the opposite sex. Is it going to make me feel desired or desirable (less likely in a business environment).PAID: Is it going to make me more revenue, make me more profitable, get me a pay-rise or save me money.
NUMBER 4 - WHO ARE YOUR COMPETITORS? - MAKE THE SWOT
Have a good look around at your competitors. Look at what they do well online and also what you'd do differently. If you can know your competitors and understand what they are doing - you can build a fantastic, award winningsite that is going to outshine them in every way. Research is simple these days. Ideally, in your industry, you're going to know who your adversaries are. There are loads of tools out there that can help you find out about your competitor from an analytical point of view.
WORD OF WARNING
The figures are not always entirely accurate, but what will help is that you can analyse trends and get a feeling for what pages they have, whether they are running paid for ads etc.
You can see here that these guys are doing a great job. They're getting fairly consistent organic search traffic (organic search). They've got a boatload of backlinks and just underneath that - their all-time trend is upwards.
This SEMRush report also shows you what search terms they're being found under, which is invaluable. Interestingly, they have a LOT of pages. Many people feel that quantity is superior to quality. However, whilst it is good to have several posts of a good size on a website, it is about how deeply you understand and how useful your blog is to others.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR GOOGLE TO INDEX A BLOG POST?
Properly and thoroughly? Around 35 weeks. So this is not a quick fix. but it is a long term, stable and to getting found for the right reasons.
NUMBER 5 - CHECK FOR DOMAIN AVAILABILITY - BUY YOUR DOMAIN
Be careful with your domain name - it's for life not just for Christmas - choose wisely. It may sound strange, but so many people get carried away with naming their company before they've checked what's available as a website domain.
A WORD ABOUT DOMAINS
Try and keep the domain as short as possible. Keep non-alpha-numeric characters to a minimum or, ideally don't use them at all. The harder it is for someone to type in your domain, the less likely it is that you will receive the traffic.
I use LCN as my domain provider of choice, but there really are thousands to choose from. I've chosen my company name as Jones Engineering. I'm now checking the availability of the domains. Ohdear:
As you can see jonesengineering.com is not available, but simply adding a hyphen means that you could buy the domain below. Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, not really. Because that hyphen could cost your business hundreds of visits per month - as it makes the domain less easy to find. Anything that could be missed or someone could use the wrong character spells disaster. Of course, you may have no choice. but be assured that the hyphen - or any other character that could be mistaken for something else could cost traffic.
Important To Remember Your Credentials!
One of the single most frustrating things we have to deal with is clients who can't find their log in details. It is so important to make sure you can locate them. Or, to make sure you have them ready before your website goes live. Otherwise, there will be long delays whilst you are trying to find them or get the passwords to reset.
NUMBER 6 - CREATE A PAPER SITEMAP OR MENU
Know your website plan before you start. Try some different configurations and don't bamboozle your visitors. Before you touch that website design software or commission your development team, consider this. It is the website navigation comes from the core of your business. Some proper planning. Only you and your advisers can know your business inside out. It's important to group your company into intuitive groups and consider each page of your site. Start with the home page. I normally use post-it notes to make it easy to move categories and pages around to get the right site map structure. You'll see part of a planning session with one of our clients.
There are certain things that you NEED to have on a website. Sometimes it is tough to convince a client that they are needed. For example, who knew that an about web page is actually beneficial? Did you know that it is very likely Google Rankbrain algorithm uses this information to check off information inside your website and to understand what it is your business is about.
NUMBER 7 - IMAGES SPEAK 1000 WORDS VIDEO IS MORE - WHERE ARE YOUR IMAGES AND VIDEO?
If I see that lady with a headset on one more website homepage - I will do nasty things with a hammer to it's designer. If you've ever looked at a website, as I have and played - find the call centre lady with the headset on - you probably, as I do, need to get out more! One of the single biggest giant killers in website development is the quality of the photos, the graphics and the omission of video content.
PICTURES GRABBED FROM SEARCH ENGINES
I cannot understand why any company would prefer to have photos that they've nabbed off Google - yes people still feel it is acceptable to nab images from Google and use them on their own sites - despite the copyright warnings. For clarity: unless you have obtained explicit agreement from the person or company to use their images, you stand a chance of being pursued for a breach of copyright. I personally know of companies who ignored the warnings and ended up with a bill for thousands! As a photographer myself, I have also been a victim of this, and whilst I chose not to sue, it left a really bad taste in my mouth. Not only this, but they are often lower quality than you need. A bit-mappy, blocky, pixel ridden image is a friend to no one. Least of all your website visitors.
A QUICK WORD ON IMAGE LICENSES
Even photographs you have commissioned are not actually yours to do with as you choose - unless you have written agreement. You also cannot give them to other people to use without the consent of the photographer - or if you do - beware. Most creative companies will grant you a license for your business to use the imagery for the agreed purposes it was taken for. Even using it on another form of advertising may not be granted - so beware. Make sure you know who owns the images and ensure that you have been granted a license by paying for it.
WHY SHOULD YOU COMMISSION YOUR OWN IMAGES
Firstly, it makes your website unique. No one else can have your images, because well - you own them. Having your own photos really gives a personal touch to your creative output. It is distinctively you and your brand. Having images of your work, your team, your business is a great way to start the on-boarding process and getting buy-in from clients at an early stage. Often before they've even spoken to you.
WHAT ABOUT VIDEO
Over 80% of bandwidth on the internet is used by video. Ignoring this as a medium is quite frankly commercial suicide. It would be like having a book with blank pages. You're missing an opporunityto reach people in a way more personal than ever before.
Videos are an amazing, affordable way to communicate your personality to your clients. By being seen, people can make a better judgement on how the fit will be between your businesses. It's a great way to convey complicated ideas quickly and concisely. Not to mention showcasing your business in the best possible light. Videos are ideal for case studies, testimonials, step-by-steps and general business promotions.
Don't forget that a lot of videos are now viewed with no volume. If you're talking - make sure that your video is captioned to ensure that you are getting the most from your videos.
NUMBER 8 - WHO'S WRITING THE CONTENT? THE IMPORTANCE OF COPYWRITING
Copywriting is an artform. Don't be glib. If you're good at writing - then write. If you're not - embrace it and get someone in who is. Much like images and video, the written word on your website is vital. It provides clear sign-posting as to what to do next. It gives people the opportunity to quietly understand what you're all about and it draws in your visitors to stay a while longer. The idea of compelling copywriting as far as I can tell is this:
POSITIONS YOU AND YOUR BUSINESS AS THE AUTHORITY
Compelling, content will help to project the best about your business. It will have all of the answers. Great copy is consistent and always right. It doesn't change it's mind halfway through.
SHOWS THE PAIN AND THEN TAKES IT AWAY
As you probably know - getting buyers to feel the pain is a way to highlight what you do and how you can make someone feel better after they've used your product or service. With clever text, you can get people to go through the gamut of emotions to allow them to feel compelled to take the next step.
GET'S YOUR ATTENTION
It's a websites way of yelling "Oi!". Getting your attention in the first place requires great copywriting. Getting people into your world is vital to the success of any website. Having a clever smart and succinct copywritten text will help visitors to understand that.
MAKES THE PROSPECT FEEL LIKE YOU’RE TALKING TO THEM ONLY
Skilled copywriters know you don’t write for the masses. You write for one person, a singular reader, using benefit driven statements that show you're about your clients and not about yourself. I have said this many times. So many companies concentrate on "we'ing" and not enough time "you'ing".
NUMBER 9 - DO IT YOURSELF OR WEB DESIGNER?
If you're time rich and money poor - have a go at designing yourself. Otherwise leave it to those who can do it for you. Business owners up and down the country - especially start-up businesses ask this question every day. Should I pay a Web Designer to create a website for me, or should I sit down and learn it all myself?
The honest answer is - it depends. If you are a new business and can afford it - it is probably better to let someone else do your web development - pay for the expertise and knowledge of what works and why. It's also important to understand what doesn't and why. Why? Because you need to be spending your time getting the customers you need to support your business. Most people don't put a value on their own time in a newbusiness. Fact is it's that time which is so precious and a resource that will run out - if you don't attract buyers to your door. If you simply don't have the money, don't dream that a web designer is going to do you a favour and create the site of your dreams for peanuts. It's just not going to happen. Or rather if it does it would likely happen for one of these reasons:
1) They're doing it as a sideline
2) They're new too and are learning on the job
3) They're your friend and want to support you
4) They're learning on the job
CAN I DEVELOP A SUCCESSFUL DIY WEBSITE IN MOONFRUIT, GODADDY, WIX, WEEBLY ETC?
Yes, you sure can. If you can dedicate the time, learning and energy into doing so - you could end up with something really quite presentable. Let's face it WIXhost of 135 million websites - so they must be doing something right - and kudos to them. You can end up with some excellent results - IF you can source decent images, do a little design work yourself or have access to stock images and learn the platform. It is also important to note that there are some quite large menu limitations on some platforms like Wix that make it more difficult to develop once you've exceeded around 30 pages. So if you're looking to keep growing your website - keep that in mind.
IF I'M NOT HAPPY CAN'T I JUST MOVE THE DIY WEBSITE I MADE ELSEWHERE
A little-known fact about these do it yourself site offers is that you have to pay every month - forever. Not just hosting, but to have the software updates that the company makes on that platform. Unlike a site that is developed in something like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc, where, if you wanted, you could back up that website and take it elsewhere - you are stuck with who you've chosen - paying what you're paying - also the more functionality you want from these providers - the more they charge. Things like: e-stores, contact forms etc can be extra. Best to check with the platform you choose. This could be just fine - for some time and if you really have a drive or passion to understand how a website goes together - jump right in and have a go. If nothing else, you will be learning another skill. It is important to note however that web design is probably not why you've set your business up - it's a bit like accountancy, you probably have the capability to do it - but just don't have the time. Design, web design and marketing plans all fall into a similar category. They're important to the business, but should you learn the skills or buy them in? That's why many people hire an accountant to look after their interests - which is also where digital marketing companies come in - they make sure that a website works.
WIX IS FREE - SO THAT'S GOOD RIGHT?
Free things are great, aren't they? There is, however, no such thing as a free lunch. Free lunches come with conditions. For example, the free offer that Wix gives is that you can build a website - with a reasonable amount of options and facilities and choose the template you'd like to use. The only issue is that you can't use a domain of your choice - you have to use a sub-domain of Wix; which, let's face it, doesn't look very professional. Think about what level of service you will need from your provider and how much it may cost you moving forwards.
HOW FLEXIBLE ARE DO IT YOURSELF WEB SITES?
Those sites are quite flexible - and they offer quite a few options. Quite a few are paid for extra, but they are offered nonetheless. You normally have to choose a template quite early on in the design process and so making changes to that decision afterwards can be challenging (although not impossible). Because you are the judge and jury - you may change your mind several times as to what looks good and what doesn't. Keep in mind that the further through you go - normally the more time consuming it is to change a design.
DO I NEED ANYTHING ELSE?
You'll need a domain name like flok.marketing or mycompany.com. Make sure that you can use the domain with your chosen DIY website partner and if so, how much it will cost to do so. Some DIY providers offer an SSL certificate to prove that the site is who it claims to be - which is important for end-users - make sure your site is SSL compliant. It can also have a (small) positive impact on search engine rankings.
WHAT ABOUT SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION FOR A DIY SITE LIKE WIX OR SQUARESPACE?
Sites like Weebly and WIX have made good progress in getting their sites well optimised on Google. In fact, WIX has gone as far as to seek endorsements from Google directly to prove how well their sites get optimised. SEO is not often, however, about how well or badly a site is built (although of course, it can be a factor). It is more about how the site is laid out and how well a client can navigate it.
WHAT IF I WANT A WEBSITE THAT IS A BIT DIFFERENT?
The issue with a DIY framework is that it can be quite constraining. Not just on your time, but also on future development. Because the code is not open source - i.e you can't have access to it, there are some parts of that site you will never be able to see or change. Therefore, if you need something to show in a particular place and it doesn't appear to offer that facility - you are probably stuck for a while. Before committing to a particular platform, check out some sites already developed in the system to ensure that you stand a chance of being able to get what you are seeking. Always check more than one option to see if one can do what you want better than the other. It sounds like common sense, but you'd be surprised as to how many people jump right in without considering the alternatives.
WHAT WOULD I GET IF I ENGAGE WITH A WEB DESIGNER?
You're going to get Web Design experience - probably in bucket loads. Depending on the company you contact you may get contact from someone who has a marketing background who can advise you on the type of content you need to concentrate on. Also, what not to worry about. Depending on your industry there are some things that simply need to be included. The other thing is the layout. you'd be surprised how many own-developed websites miss out simple things like the phone number or email address. That's like making a cake and then putting it straight outside for the birds to eat. Although - if you've tried my cooking - you may say that is the place for it. The other thing you get when you pay for a website is straight down the line advice on what is and isn't possible and also what is possible and how much it would cost. The reality is that most things can be done - but they come at a price. It is for you to decide how important they are and whether it is worth spending that money so early on to achieve it. That is something only you can decide after listening to what the benefits would be.
WHO DESIGNS MY WEBSITE TO LOOK HOW I WANT IT TO
One of the most important things you get with a web designer developeris - the design. Sounds crazy to state it - but many people don't understand. Unlike off the shelf solutions and templates, many designers like to present something that is created especially for you - from their understanding of your business. It should make your business stand out a mile from the competition. people should be able to take one look at your website and know whose it is. A designer can advise on colour palettes and typefaces to ensure that your message is clear, engaging and makes sense in the way people visit sites. They should also make sure that your site looks different. After talking with you, they should have an understanding as to how "hands-on" you would want to be with the website, therefore adding in or adjusting the levels of design on a page. Normally the more "design-y" a page is the harder it is to change from a layman's perspective.
WHAT IS A CMS OR CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM?
You've probably heard of people talking about WordPress, Joomla or Drupal? These are all CMS's or content management systems. Which one is best? It depends on you, what you're seeking to achieve and also to some degree your budget, as some take longer to develop than others. The CMS is what allows you and your team to access the text and images inside your website to add and change the content. A Website Developer Will Design, Create And Place the template (the look and feel) into a CMS and then add the content. Systems like WordPress are quite user-friendly and have many different plug-ins (or widgets) that help you to get more functionality. Some are free some you pay for.
NUMBER 10 - WHAT FUNCTIONS SHOULD MY WEBSITE PERFORM?
Your website is your best employee. Treat it well and it will give you years of service. Treat it badly and face the consequences. #loveyourwebsite.
This is quite a broad topic, but I'm going to write about this with a bit more of a helicopter view. What are you looking for it to do for you and your business? More importantly, what do you want it to do for your visitors?
Keep These In Mind:
When configured properly a website is a great lead magnet. You can get people to "reasonably do" what you'd like them to do - providing you make it clear enough. DON'T expect anyone to spend loads of money with you at the first touch point. Give them things to try and do that have no risk. Then build from there. Next level - make it something that might take a bit of time - or cost a small amount of money. Once they have confidence you can make the larger offers - but just don't expect too much too soon - or you'll be disappointed. The most important thing is to keep in contact.
A website is your best brand advocate. It never sleeps, never asks for a pay rise and never (rarely) goes sick. It is always on brand and always keeps to the script word-for-word. How can you best promote your brand on your website - to show the bestyou? Think about case studies, testimonials, video testimonials and whitepapers. All of those things and more show what a great business you are.
As far as projects go - a website is the best place to showcase them! They're instantly accessible. Easy to edit and quick to create. Make sure you have a great place to put your work and send people to it. I'm a HUGE believer in making sure it is YOU who control the experience.
It is far better thatpeople get to the place that you control the experience - quickly. Why? To avoid distraction and inaction. The issue with other channels is that you can't tell what else they are seeing. On your website, you can. It's like being in a private meeting with them at your office. you can show them all the good stuff - worry free that a video of a fluffy animal will pop up and grab their attention.
Everyone groans when they read about getting a mailing list together. but hold fire. I love the idea of having a great big mailing list. Why? Because it is MINE! It isn't owned by a social media channel - it isn't owned by another company it is actually mine and it always will be. For those of us who live in a GDPR world. Do not be put off by this - it is still possible to send emails to business owners. Build your list and a drip-feed and keep in touch!
NUMBER 11 - LIFE AFTER GO-LIVE - CONTINUING THE PROCESS
Dontleave your website alone after you've gone live. Keep improving it. Add blogs, pages and useful things for your visitors. It isn't a paper catalogue - keep optimising it.
A lot of businesses feel that they can "tick the box" once the website content has been "finished". Truth is that web development is NEVER FINISHED. Why? Because it should ALWAYS be updated, reviewed, added to and analysed.
Check your website regularly for broken links. Links generally become broken over time when off-site content moves or is removed, or if you edit or delete urlson your own site. It's totally normal. it must be said though, broken links breeds mistrust and make visitors question your site and credibility. How can this firm help my company if it can’t keep links working?
Broken links can also make it impossible for a visitor to complete a task. You may run a fabulous PPC campaign, drive traffic to your landing page and then lose the leads forever if the conversion links don’t work. Worse than that, you could be spending on a campaign that will yield nothing!
If you are using a content management system (CMS), plugins are available that will crawl your site and help to check for broken links. You can also conduct a manual review. When a broken link is found, either remove the link,or, if applicable, redirect it to newer content. It's more advisable to replace with a new link.
2. Meta descriptions
The meta description is a snippet of text, usually around 160 characters, that appears beneath the website address in your search engine listing. The meta description is free advertising. It is your chance to present a summary that encourages users to click on your listing rather than anyone else.
It's an important part of good housekeeping to keep your meta descriptions updated. Make sure they are relevant and address a visitor need. If you can, add an emotional hook. Avoid throwing in too many keywords and instead talk directly to your potential clients. As far as SEO goes meta descriptions don't hold massive power at the moment.
3. Working navigation
Navigation can suffer the same fate as text links. Pages move or become obsolete, and navigation must follow. In addition to making sure your navigation works, check regularly to ensure that your top links still take visitors to your most relevant pages. You may need to add, redefine or remove links in order to take visitors to your best-performing pages. Simplicity in navigation is key. Don’t throw everything at a visitor at once. Instead, direct visitors strategically to your most valuable pages and work it out from there.
4. Image optimization
Images need to be optimised in two ways. Always analyse for:
4a) Compression: All images should be exported for the web and compressed to the smallest usable size. Large images can negatively affect page load times, which is unsatisfactory to both Google and your visitors. They shouldn't be any larger than they need to be. For this blog, I normally max out at 1000 pixels wide and then the relative height. JPEG is a good format and PNG for transparent backgrounds, although like for like they are larger. Make sure the dpi is set to around 100dpi. Much more and you're starting to waste space.
4b) Alt text: Alt text provides the browser with descriptive (alternative) information about an image. Alt text should explain the image and its function on the page. For example, if you use an image as a link, your alt text should tell visitors the image is a link, and to where. People with visual impairment who use screen readers will have alt text read to them, which enhances your website’s accessibility.
5. Don't Forget The Calls to action
Website calls to action are critical to lead generation. Each page should contain a clear call to action to keep the visitor moving.
Each page should have a limited number of calls to action - maybe 1 to 3. If you give a visitor too many options, they may become overwhelmed and not make a choice at all. Be sure that each of your calls to action is clear and specific and directs visitors to make the choice that is most valuable to your business.
6. Up-to-date contact details
As a user, one of the most frustrating oversights is a lack of easily accessible contact information on a website. Some visitors will welcome filling out a form, but others will want to talk to you directly. Your phone number should be visible on every page, in text and not in an image. This is especially critical for smartphone visitors. Ideally - it should be a call link whcihallows you to press the number to call up. If you're advertising a number - put it at the top of the page.
Other visitors may use your website as a resource for an address, directions and parking options. Are you taking them to your current office or an old one? Contact details should also include information about hours and whether office visits are by appointment only.
Use schema markup on your contact information. Schema markup describes your content to search engines. Google looks for this markup when creating local listings - it can also help in your placement in Google maps.
7. Working forms
Can visitors actually submit the forms on your website? Sometimes errors — particularly captcha errors — can prevent a form from being submitted. Are submissions going to the correct email addresses?
Always test forms regularly. Also, make sure any required input fields are clearly marked and that error messages for incorrectly filled fields are obvious. Make sure that the forms don't end up in your junk mail. It's an occupational hazard these days. Getting a good SMTP service will help.
Every professional website should monitor visitors. Google Analytics is the leader in this field; it is free, relatively easy to use and highly customizable. Google Analytics provides a wealth of data about your visitors. You can see who is on your website in real time, and the data help you understand what advertising campaigns and individual pages are performing. I also use Lucky Orange - which can heatmap and also record sessions - which helps identify good and bad spots on your website.
9. Readable content
Quality content is important. It must answer questions, offer benefits and be clearly directed at potential clients.
Technically, however, visitors need to be able to read your content. Is the font big enough? Is the space between lines large enough to make the lines easy to read but not so large that paragraphs have massive gaps? Keep colours plain - black or white is good. Light colours otherwise.
To accommodate online readers, your content should also be broken into short paragraphs and separated with subheads and bulleted lists. Website readers scan, so your most important information should be at the top — in your headlines and the first sentence of each paragraph.
10. Information about you
Believe it or not, about pages are quite important for the Google Rankbrain algorithm. It matches what you blog about with what is in your about page. Also, make sure that you keep it up to date with staff hires and fires too.
I hope that you've found this useful. Leave a comment below to tell me which of these steps you are going to implement to bring you closer to the website that is going to change your business.
The BOTS Are Coming
We're currently experimenting with Facebook Bots. It's a great way of both promoting your business and helping your visitors without actually needing to be on the end of a mobile device or PC. The beauty of a bot is that you can create a visitor experience flow - that gives the visitor a rounded view of both your business and personality as well as consistency.
We've started the journey and plan to add even more to our BOT we've called - Kolf. Kolf is there all day every day to answer questions from how to find us to help you find what you might need out of a digital marketing agency.
We had known about the new shop for several months and were asked to keep it under wraps by the owners. Over time, the logo and brand were supplied and we got to work on creating the website. We wanted to make the website a funky, interesting place to be - with the opportunity to blog and engage interested visitors. We also visited the shop nearing completion and took a suite of photographs of the shop and products. Once we'd finished, we were asked if we could "kick start" the social media campaign. We worked with the company to install a wi-fi solution that encourages social media interaction. We also approach community pages to encourage and spark interest.
One word - "WOW!"
Our campaign saw a fantastic engagement from the local community. From a zero follower start, we managed to get our client nearly 800 LIKEs to the page with over 20 five star reviews! Our clients were overjoyed when we handed over the accounts and we look forward to seeing how they take Elk forwards online.
It's fair to say as business owners we love to talk about our businesses.
The thing is, with our enthusiasm to tell potential customers about our business, we fail to tell people why we would pick your business - should they be in the market for our product or service.
THINK ABOUT IT
So take the time to work out what the benefit is to the customer and tell them. Spend less time “we’ing” and more time “you’ing”. If you can make it clearer how you stand out, you’ll attract more people to your business. So the next time, before you wax lyrical about your business, tell people how many staff you have and how much you’ve invested - equate it to how that benefits to the customer - or leave it out.
Tired and worn out sites and salesmen
It's the first day of the new year. You have your brand new wardrobe at your disposal. You don your brand new shirt and suit. Put on a smashing pair black shoes and head out the door. Now let's say that you never returned home for a year. Sounds ridiculous. But keep with me. Your clothes would look great for a week or two. But would be walking off you after a month. Those brand new shoes would have seen better days. All in all you would look tired and unloved.
And the same goes for marketing messages - especially on a website. Keeping the same message, images and information on a website for longer than a few weeks, could mean that your message becomes lost - or never looked at - or somewhat bedraggled! Keep content fresh, keep your ideas flowing and above all - keep people coming back to your website.
The business, which specialises in large commercial builds for clients wanted a brand that was both contemporary, but nodded to their heritage. The outcome was very pleasing to all parties.
We have since been commissioned to re-design their website: