Website-planningOver the years we have gained many clients who have contacted us because their website was, in the words of one, a bit of a mess.

It’s a sad fact that many businesses spend a lot of time and money on their website and get poor results or worse, websites that don’t work properly.

From our experience, the 10 mistakes to avoid are:

1. Trying to Build your own website
You can use website builders to produce your site; however, if you have not used the interface before, it can be a long process and the results you get are still not great. Your time would be better spent selling your services or products and increasing sales.

2. Getting a friend of a friend to do it in their spare time
This will seem like a good idea at the time but you may find they are not available to keep your site maintained, or even contactable in the future.

3. Not considering security and hacking
Where your website is being hosted and what software is being used to build it is paramount to the security of your website. Off-the-shelf open source products such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla are well known to hackers. A bespoke CMS (Content Management System) is more secure because it is unknown and the code is not publicly available.

4. Thinking all domain name hosts are the same
There are hundreds of domain name hosting companies. Selecting the cheapest is not always the best option. Either you or whoever builds your website will need access to change settings and possibly transfer the domain to a new provider in the future. Some control panels are not very user friendly and other providers charge for transfers. Support can also be limited, so it is wise to go with a reputable supplier.

5. Writing your own words
If you find it laborious putting finger to keyboard to write about your business, then you should probably get a copy writer to craft the content for your web pages. It will save you time and they will be more objective about what your business can offer.

6. Not thinking about how your visitors will navigate your site
Your website needs to have impact and hold visitor’s attention to get them to a point where they can act. UX design (user experience), page layout, calls to action and photographs can all help to improve conversion rates.

7. Not taking time to plan your site
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. Taking time to establish your goals and develop a wire frame before design and build starts will pay dividends in the long term.

8. Not researching your target market
Do you know whether your audience will be more likely to visit your website using a mobile phone or a desktop computer? Age and profession of your customers may determine how your website needs to look and perform on a variety of devices.

9. Ignoring advice from the professionals
Web developers, like any other professionals, are experts in their field. If you ask for something that will not work across all browsers and devices, a good developer will explain why it won’t work and provide alternative solutions. There are usually very good reasons that you may not have considered. Always check your web developer’s credentials and their own website before you choose who to work with.

10. Not considering how you will market your website after launch
Build it and they will come no longer applies in our crowded online market place. You need to think about how you will deliver traffic to your website.

For more information, download our FREE Guide to web design and online marketing at the bottom of the page.

These days there are not many businesses that do not rely on their website for generating new leads.

Whether you drive traffic to your website using offline advertising such as adverts in magazines or digital using online advertising, your website will be the first point of contact for new prospects.

Indications are that digital advertising spend will continue to grow during 2017 and with mobile ad spend overtaking desktop in 2016, it is clear where media budgets are going to be focussed in future.

Online advertising provides many benefits over traditional press, radio and TV:
 
  • Online-marketingTargeted to your particular market sector
  • Higher conversion rates due to accurate targeting
  • Measurable results, cost per click and conversion rates
  • Geographic areas can be selected from local radius to worldwide
  • Immediate delivery of traffic to website for information, services or product sale
  • Cost effective, usually pay per click (PPC), pay per action (CPA) or pay per view (CPM)

Online advertising includes social media websites that now incorporate advertising and offer multiple choices of ad formats depending on what you are trying to achieve.

As with the selection of traditional media in the past, choice of digital advertising media depends on your target audience, the business sector you are in, what you want to achieve and your budget.

The digital advertising platforms that are currently leading the way are Google Adwords, Facebook and LinkedIn. Other platforms include Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Pinterest and Snapchat.

Overview of the most popular online marketing channels
Google advertising
  • Page one position on Google for your most effective keywords
  • Only pay when someone clicks on your advert
  • Write, change, test and monitor your adverts
  • Set up negative keywords
  • Target your advert to a geographic area or specific radius
  • Set your daily budget
  • Remarketing through Google’s display network
  • Turn campaigns on or off at any time
Facebook post boost
  • Flexible advertising formats depending on your goals
  • Goals include page likes, post likes, offers, show products or services, clicks to your website
  • Measurable results
  • Choose your audience by geographic area and demographic
  • Set your budget and duration of advert
  • Only pay when someone clicks on your advert
LinkedIn advertising
  • New, so fewer competing adverts
  • Ability to target specific job titles, functions and industry sectors
  • Variety of advert formats
  • Set your budget and duration
  • Only pay when someone clicks on your advert
Print vs online
Print advertising is still relevant and can have a place in your overall strategy as the web becomes more crowded and competitive. However, the flexibility, speed and ability to track conversions makes online advertising so much easier to justify and demonstrate a return on investment.

Mark Langston
 
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

 
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