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

 

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

 
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

 

24th January 2014
Mobile_phone_websitesWe are frequently asked about making websites suitable for viewing on mobile and tablet devices.

Whilst it is true that more and more people are using different devices during the day to access information, before answering “yes, we can do that”, there are a few questions that need to be asked of the site owner.

Not all developers will ask these questions and some are jumping on the gravy train and offering to convert websites that don’t need or justify a mobile presence.  Worse still, they convert them badly, which can be detrimental to the brand and user experience.

Things to consider:
  • Why do you think your website needs to be accessible on a mobile device?
  • Do your website statistics show that a lot of users are viewing your site on mobile or tablet devices?
  • If they are, what pages are they looking at and responding to?
  • Is it viable to display or explain your services or products on a small screen?
  • Think about your target audience; would they search for your products or services on a mobile device?
How to achieve the most effective mobile web design

Some of the answers to these questions can be found by analysing your website statistics via Google Analytics. You can find out where users have come from, the pages they visit and what device they are using. The next step is to identify the information users are most interested in and how they navigate around your site. Only then can we prioritise the information to be shown on your mobile landing page.

For example, the research may tell us that mobile users are viewing your services before making an enquiry. Making it easy for them to navigate to your services pages quickly and adding a phone number or short enquiry form will help them to make contact with you.

The next decision is which method of implementation to choose. There are a number of ways and the choice will depend on your budget and what you want to achieve.

The two most used ways are:

Adaptive web design
This method is server-side (the server where the website is hosted) and means that the server identifies the attributes of the device being used and delivers a version of the site that is suitable for that device. This requires the development of new website pages that are specifically designed for the device being used. This route is the more expensive option but delivers well designed, targeted, fast loading content, designed specifically for the device being used.

Responsive web design
Instead of the server delivering the information to the browser, this method uses the browser to re- size the layout of the website when viewed on a smaller device. This has limitations and relies on the existing page layout to deliver the on-page information, which may not necessarily be in the best order of priority for the user to find what they need.

Layout changes to landing pages may be needed to alter the priority of information based on the research mentioned above. We believe that server-side work is also necessary to reduce image file sizes to ensure the site loads quickly on a mobile phone. Slow loading of websites is one of the major frustrations for users when trying to access websites on their mobile phones.

Summary
As more users access the internet via their mobile phones and tablets, site owners will have to assess the needs of their customers and adapt their websites to meet mobile demand.  Only the most useable, correctly adapted websites will win. If implementation is not done properly you could end up doing more harm than good.

Mark Langston
Google_visitorsWebsite diagnostics

If you want to improve your website and make it more engaging for your visitors, you first need to understand what your visitors are currently doing when they land on your site.

William Lever’s quote “I know half my advertising isn't working, I just don't know which half” does not need to apply to your website because web analytics software can now provide insight into what is working and what is not.

If you are frustrated that you are not getting enough enquiries or orders through your website, your web statistics can help to identify where improvements can be made that will get your visitors to take action. That response could be; picking up the telephone, filling out an enquiry form, signing up to receive regular mailings, requesting free samples and information guides, or buying your products.

Google Analytics

The leading website analytics tool is Google Analytics and your web developers should have installed this or other suitable software on your website to measure a variety of statistics shown below (To any of our clients reading this article, we install Google Analytics as standard on all of our websites. Call me if you do not already have access to these reports).
  • Google_AnalyticsVisits
  • Unique visitors
  • Number of pages viewed per visit
  • Average visit duration
  • Bounce rate
  • Language and location
  • Browser and network used
  • Mobile and tablet usage
  • Google Adwords information linked to account
  • Social interaction
  • Visitor flow
These figures should be the first place to start when looking at ways to improve your website. For example, if your bounce rate is high, then visitors are not finding your home page interesting enough to stay and look around. The bounce rate measures visitors that have landed on your home page and bounced straight off again. You only have a few seconds to engage your visitor and keep them looking around your site.

Likewise, if the average time spent on your site is low and visitors are jumping off at a certain page, this information helps when analysing which pages need additional work doing to them.

Regularly reviewing your website statistics will help you to take the next steps to improving your site and increasing sales.

Mark Langston
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