Website design has changed significantly over the years and is constantly evolving as our use of the web via different devices increases.

Web-design-and-user-interfaceA web designer will consider a number of factors that will determine the navigation, layout and placement of content on a website to get the desired action from the user.

You may have noticed that modern web designs generally follow a similar theme these days. There is a good reason for this. From studies on user interface and the use of eye tracking software, we now understand what attracts a viewer’s eyes and where they tend to look first. We can then make sure the important information such as menu and calls to action are placed within these areas.

There are other factors to consider, such as how search engines will rank your web pages from the content and keywords on the page. The headings and where they are placed will influence which keywords search engines will prioritise and rank your page for.

These are the stages a designer will go through when developing your new website:

Research
  • Competitors.
  • Keywords (software is available to help with this).
  • What makes your business unique in your market?
  • Visitor analysis if you have an existing website (use Google Analytics, if installed).
Site map, navigation and wireframe
  • What do you want to communicate?
  • Plan the navigation and pages needed.
  • Consider content for each page, text and images.
  • It is more efficient to design around your content than fit your content into a design.
  • Create a wireframe for your website.
Copywriting and keywords
  • Identify best performing keywords.
  • Include keywords in your headers and your content.
  • Break down information into bite sized chunks with sub headings.
  • Write a new page for each subject and set of keywords.
  • Select suitable images to complement and break up large areas of text.
Engage and convert
  • What are your main messages?
  • What do you do, how do you do it?
  • Required call to action: sign up, telephone call, gather information or email?
  • Testimonials, reviews or case studies to back up your content.
Search Engine Optimisation
  • Build your site to the latest web standards.
  • Develop the site to ensure search engines can crawl all of your pages.
  • Check for errors and site issues before going live.
  • Continuous research and improvements to pages and content.
  • Measure and monitor keywords and site rankings.
Your input is valuable at every stage to of the design process. Whether you decide to write the content yourself and supply images or hire a copywriter and photographer, you should always have the final approval on how your business is presented on the World Wide Web.

Mark Langston
Successful content marketing relies on developing a strategy that is tailored to your own individual business requirements. The strategy you adopt will depend on the most effective media that reaches your customer base.

Content marketing covers a wide range of media, from writing articles for your blog, email newsletters and posting to social media. Other methods include:
  • Case studies and white papers
  • Webinars and videos
  • Press articles
  • Printed materials
Your content marketing strategy needs to be planned to achieve specific measurable goals. For example, one of our clients provides commercial insurance to businesses and their aim is to use content marketing to build brand awareness, establish themselves as experts in their field, improve customer retention, and generate leads.

Their strategy includes producing regular articles covering detailed information about insurance services that businesses may need to protect themselves from financial risk.

Well written, informative articles with unique content posted on their website and shared on social media, together with a regular newsletter to clients, provides a number of benefits for them:
Article_writing
  • Informs existing clients of other insurance products available
  • Communicates their industry knowledge and expertise
  • Earns customer trust
  • Creates content for social media sites and newsletter
  • Provides effective Search Engine Optimisation to improve their website rankings

Effective Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
One of the key benefits of adding content to your website via a blog is SEO. Search engines such as Google regularly update the way they rank websites and deliver search results. Consistently, the most important factor that affects a website’s ranking is the visible content on the site.

Regularly adding relevant content to your website, either by adding pages or writing blog articles, enables the search engines to rank your site against your competitors.

What makes content relevant?
Content is more relevant if the subject you are writing about is being searched for by your customers. For example, if you write an article on “videotapes” you will attract fewer searches than for “Blu Ray DVDs” because videotapes are now obsolete. Therefore, before you start your article, you will need to do some keyword research to ensure you are writing for your target audience.

I find it useful to have a list of relevant keywords at the top of my page when writing an article to make sure the most searched for keywords are included in the article. I use SEO software to help with this research. This applies to any content added to your website.

If you need help with keywords or writing articles for your website, give me a call.

Mark Langston

18th February 2016
*Some mind-bending statistics:
  • Latest figures show that Google now processes around 3.5 billion searches per day, worldwide.
  • By the year 2020 access to the internet on mobile phones will increase by around 40%.
  • In 2014, it was estimated that the world spent $1.2 million dollars online every 30 seconds.
Stand out from the crowd
The internet has revolutionised the way we communicate and attract new customers. Newspapers moving online, ecommerce is still growing and statistics show that in 2015, over 80% of consumers conducted research online prior to buying. These days, whatever your business, you need an effective online presence.

Aquatic_Subsea_1With this in mind, it is more important than ever to find a web design company capable of meeting your current needs as well as your future web development and business growth requirements.

In a crowded online arena, your website needs to have immediate impact and be easy to navigate:
  • Having a structured menu.
  • Providing useful and interesting content.
  • Being visually appealing and informative.
  • Able to evolve as the internet develops.
  • Delivering new content as your business expands.
Web designers use a variety of platforms to build websites, from a fully bespoke offer to an off the shelf template.

Off the shelf templates may be cost effective, but can limit future development and growth. Bespoke platforms are more flexible and have the ability to provide for future growth and development. You may pay a little more to get exactly what you want but you won’t have to completely scrap the site and start again in a few years’ time when you want to update the site.

Different screen sizes
The growth in the number of devices being used to access the internet is expanding (over 76% of adults in the UK now own smartphones). Most businesses will need to consider optimising their websites for multiple devices in future if this is where your audience is active. You can use Google Analytics to find out the percentage of users who visit your website on mobile, tablet or desktop to help make a decision on this.

Promoting your website, online and offline
Marketing_ServicesA lot of website design companies are purely web designers and do not employ anyone with the necessary marketing skills needed to help promote your business. They probably won’t have the skills to write the content for your website or research the keywords you will need.

This can prove to be a stumbling block when you come to marketing your website online. You will either have to employ a marketing person within your business or outsource to an experienced marketing person or agency.

Choosing a web design company with in house marketing services means they will be able to advise you on the best marketing strategy to help grow your business. They will be in a better position to carry out any necessary changes on the site because they will have intimate knowledge of the platform, especially when it comes to SEO work (Search Engine Optimisation).

A good web design company will be able to offer copywriting for content, develop profitable Google Adwords advertising, provide effective SEO for Google rankings and create email marketing campaigns and more. Other support you may need includes logo development, branding and graphic design.

Website design company
When it comes to choosing a web design company, you need to think about future requirements and whether they can offer the services you will need to grow your business.

A few things to find out when looking for a good web design company include:
  • How long have they been in business?
  • How many people do they employ and what skills do they have?
  • Is their client portfolio available to view and contact?
  • What other services can they provide?
You don’t want to find out in a few years’ time that your web developer has decided to go back to paid employment leaving your website without support or any means of updating it.

Mark Langston

*Information taken from http://www.weforum.org

 
With Christmas fast approaching, businesses that rely on this time of the year to generate a large proportion of their annual sales will be using every effective advertising method to reach their target audience and maximise sales.

Google-christmasIf you provide services or products that are more relevant and popular during certain months of the year, online advertising is an effective way of driving traffic to your website and increasing sales. Campaigns can be set up and live within hours. Your adverts can be targeted to a specific audience and geographic area. Conversions can be measured. When the event or season has ended the campaign can be switched off and restarted at any time.

Google Adwords Pay Per Click
Google advertising is ideal for timely and targeted campaigns. Adverts can be set up quickly and turned on immediately to take full advantage of the season or event.

The Google search engine is still the most popular and offers a wide range of features to ensure adverts are targeted, relevant and measurable:
  • Page one position can be achieved for instant traffic to your website
  • Google vouchers for £75 (new accounts only) are available towards advertising costs*
  • Adverts can be made visible within a precise geographic area, nationally or globally
  • Campaigns can be turned on and off when required
  • You only pay for clicks through to your website
  • Budgets can be set and monitored daily
  • Adverts are targeted to your audience using relative messages and keywords
  • The effectiveness of adverts can be monitored
  • Multiple adverts can be tested and measured
  • The most suitable keywords can be sourced to achieve the most relevant click throughs
Whether you are a seasonal business or not, a well-managed and targeted online advertising campaign may be worth a trial. It need not cost a fortune to test the water and Google will contribute £75 towards your advertising costs*.

Talk to us about running a trial to find out if online advertising could benefit your business.

Mark Langston

*Subject to availability

 
Whether you are a business needing a new website or an established company in need of a website revamp, taking time at the beginning of your project to plan and determine what you want to achieve will be time well spent. Writing a brief covering your goals and objectives along with an overview of your technical and functional requirements will provide a starting point for further discussions with your web developer.

Your website is your shop window and can have a direct effect on sales. Visitors will make up their mind in seconds whether to stay on your site or jump off to one of your competitors. You need to capture their attention, establish your credentials and prove your credibility at a glance.

Design, colours and the wording you use will communicate the reasons why visitors should delve further into your website pages to find out more information. By using the AIDA formula you can provide information to drive them to your preferred call to action.

Writing clear, concise information that will grab their attention is vital and you may want to consider using a professional copywriter to achieve this. Other sales drivers include testimonials from existing customers, blog articles and an enquiry form, all of which can be strategically positioned on the home page.

The next step is to consider how the user will navigate around your website and list the most important aspects of your service or products. Producing a simple site map will help you to scope out your offering and provide a menu for your website. Always consider that, ideally, you want to get your visitor to the relevant information with minimal clicks; three should be the maximum number of clicks to get them to a call to action.

A typical simple site map with two levels of navigation could look something like this:
 
Home page
Web design
- Brochure style websites
- eCommerce websites
- Hosting services
Marketing Services
- Copywriting
- Google advertising
- Email marketing
- Search engine optimisation
- Marketing planning and strategy
Blog
Testimonials
About us
Contact

 
Website-design

Site revamp
Compared to a new website, an existing site has a history and we would recommend looking at your website statistics software to find out how your site is currently performing. If you have Google Analytics installed on your website all sorts of statistics are available, such as; device used, bounce rates and visitor flows. All of the websites we build for our clients have Google Analytics installed as standard which provides us with the information needed to make a complete diagnostic check of the site.

Measure of success
The success of your website is determined by its ability to convert visitors into new customers or sales. Any revamp should include functional, design and content improvements that will increase your conversion rates.

By following the advice above and working with our team of experts who understand internet marketing, we will be able to improve the performance of your website.
Mark Langston

 
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