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
Type the above phrase into a Google search bar and take a look at some of the posts on the page.
Most of these posts have been written by WordPress developers advising ways of getting around some of the issues that are inherent in WordPress, such as:
  • Security
  • Poor quality plugins
  • Software updates causing problems
  • Server needing constant surveillance
  • SEO limitations
  • Content management difficulties
There are advantages of using a WordPress theme. You get an off the shelf design that is “mobile ready” which can save time and money.

You may have to compromise on quality and your content will have to fit into the design theme that has been selected, but if you are on a tight budget, then this solution may suit you. Design themes can be sourced from a variety of providers; some are free but most have to be purchased.

Design theme costs
Most themes are governed by a licence fee and, depending on the provider there will be a one off payment or monthly cost for the use of the theme. One source of themes is Envatomarket’s Themeforest. They offer two licence options (taken from their website):
  1. Regular licence (typically $59) - Use, by you or one client, in a single end product which end users are not charged for
  2. Extended licence (typically $2,950) - Use, by you or one client, in a single end product which end users can be charged for
If the end product, including the theme, is going to be free to the end user then a Regular License is what you need. An Extended License is required if the end user must pay to use the end product.

These themes take a considerable amount of time to develop and design, so agencies using these themes will have to pay to use them and will pass those costs on to their fee paying clients.

You may want to check with your developers how this cost is being passed on and that the theme they are using to build your website has been licensed for you.

Custom design and build or WordPress theme?
There are some initial questions you need to ask to help you decide which route to take:
  1. Do you want a design and custom built functionality that is unique to your business? Do you want your developers to understand your business and its requirements and design a website that is built around your content? Then you will want a custom design and build
  2. Are you happy to select a design theme that you can insert your content into? Do you mind if your website looks similar to a lot of other websites? Then a design theme may save some time and cost, depending on how much the licence fee is
At Crystal Thought, our preference is to build custom websites after meeting you to find out about your business, target audience and competitors. This way, you get a unique site that will meet the challenges of your business that also has the ability to grow as your business develops.

However, we understand there are times when a design theme will work well for a business and with this in mind we have developed a selection of design themes customers can choose from. The advantage of developing our own themes are as follows:
  • Wordpress-problemsBetter security
  • Intuitive content management system
  • More stable and better build quality
  • Better control of the hosting and server maintenance
  • Mobile optimised
  • Improved SEO
  • No license fees
Call us to discuss your preferred option.

Mark Langston

 

19th August 2015
Improving the ranking (position on search engines) of our clients’ websites is one of the most rewarding aspects of our work.

Scoring_a_goalWatching a site gradually move up the rankings and receiving positive feedback about increased numbers of visitors and conversions is a bit like managing your child’s football team to help them win the local league. It’s not always plain sailing, progress can stall and it can take time to achieve results depending on the skills of your competitors and where you are currently ranked. However, perseverance pays off and over time the results start to come.

We would not be able to effectively improve our clients’ websites without software to provide the information and tools needed to manage this process, for example:
  • Website audit
  • Keyword research
  • Web page optimisation
  • Quality link building
  • Social media influence
  • Result checking and reports
  • Competitor information
  • Website analytics

We use industry standard software to carry out all of these tasks and keep us up to date with the latest search engine changes.

SEO_software_ranking_changes_charts

It takes a combination of skills to effectively carry out the work:
  1. Developers (technical changes)
  2. Marketers (research, copy writing and analysis)
  3. Designers (design and user interface)

The first stage is to generate an audit report using the software. We can then generate another report that will show the page ranking on Google for the current keywords and how many searches have been made on those keywords in the past month. From these reports, we can determine what work is needed to make site improvements.

For a free review, call me to discuss what you want to achieve.

Mark Langston

 
We get asked this question many times.

There are a lot of factors that will influence where your website will appear in the search rankings. Some of the factors to consider include:
  • How old is your website compared to your competitors?
  • How competitive is your market?
  • How pro-active are your competitors on keeping their websites refreshed?
To give your website a fighting chance against these influences that are out of your control, your site will need to be better than your rivals. Think of it as a house that you are trying to sell for the highest possible price in a very competitive market.

Foundations
The foundations and fabric of the building need to be well built.
The technical elements of your website need to be correct as specified by the search engines. This will ensure the content on your website can be “read” by the search engines so that they can correctly rank your site, some examples include;
  • Tagging your images with relevant captions,
  • Checking for errors and running validation tests,
  • Site maps
  • Url rewriting
  • Using software to find the keywords your customers will be using to find your website,
  • Writing good content using your keywords
  • Analysing your competitors content

Maintenance
Keep it well maintained.
You need to keep it in good condition and looking good so that when people visit they get a good first impression and want to come back again. It needs to be up to date and use the latest technology.You need to refresh your pages and add new pages regularly. This is where a blog can be very effective for continually adding fresh content. Combined with social media it can be a very powerful way of getting your message across to new and existing customers.

Wow factor
Create a wow factor.
Like the smell of home-made bread, inviting hallway or a new kitchen, first impressions make all the difference. An inviting home page with content that will grab the attention of visitors will make them want to look around and stay longer.

Marketing
Good houses attract more potential buyers and interest.
Likewise, attracting more visitors to your website is one of the factors that will improve its page rank. Get your social networks working for you and commenting on your products or services to help drive more traffic to your site.

Feedback
Just as your Estate Agent will give you feedback from visitors, you need to have all of the analytics available on your website to measure visitor numbers, time on site, pages they visited and jump off page etc. so that continual improvements can be implemented.

For more information about how to improve your website go to our Search Engine Optimisation page.

Mark Langston

17th December 2012
It is all too easy to get discouraged when you have to find new and interesting topics to write about that will keep your audience captivated. Here are a few thoughts that will help to keep you motivated.

Who is your audience?
It is not just your clients or visitors to your website, who are reading your blog, Google and other search engines “crawling” your website will be picking up the new content too.

So, how can you make sure your blog is being effective?

Good content
Your blog needs to be well written, interesting, relevant and useful. It should also include the keywords that are relevant to your business or industry. It helps to have a good understanding of your customers and detailed knowledge of your product and services so that you can write informative and engaging content.

Keywords
As part of your Search Engine Optimisation strategy you will need to know your keywords – these are the search terms most used by your customers to find your products or services.

These can relate to each of your individual products or services. You will naturally use these keywords when writing about your business, however it does help to know which keywords are most searched and if there are any other search terms being used that you have not thought of.

Software is available that will provide this information. This research can often help you come up with ideas for the articles you are writing.

Social media
Your blog can be used to integrate with your social media activity. Your blog provides a two way link for users of social media:

1. Your blog visitors can - like (Facebook), tweet (Twitter), g +1 (Google), In share (Linked In) your blog.
2. Users of your social media sites can link to your blog from your page.

Keep blogging
Don’t give up, it does take time and effort, but if you persevere and get it right the result will raise your company profile and improve communications with your customers.

Mark Langston
Older Posts

Sign up to our email newsletter and receive our "Guide to web design and online marketing".

Get some useful tips to help improve and promote your website and increase conversion rates.