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.

content-management_systems-advantagesA Content Management System (CMS) is a computer program that will allow a user with no web development or coding skills to make changes to the content on their website pages.

There are hundreds of off-the-shelf open source systems such as Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla, to name but a few of the more popular CMS, which can be used to make changes to the pages of a website. Alternatively, website developers may decide to build their own bespoke system.

Advantages of a bespoke CMS
Building a bespoke system gives a web developer flexibility and control over their website build and future development for their customers. Because they have written and understand their own code, they are able to include additional functionality far more quickly than trying to add a feature that is not included in the off-the-shelf version. For example, if a client wants to add a testimonials page to their website with some of the testimonials appearing and rotating on the home page. With an off-the-shelf CMS, the web developer will not always know how the code works and it will be a lot harder to add something that is not already included in the original system.

The other problem with open source software, which is often free, is that it is continually under development. This can result in it being prone to bugs and security issues that need constant attention. A site running Joomla, for example, needs to be updated regularly. The website manager must ensure that it is patched up to the latest version at all times, including any third party plug-in's or modules they may have installed. Failure to do so could compromise their site. Joomla is a very popular web application and it is probably one of the most hacked PHP applications on the web. See http://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/alerts/TA13-024A

A well designed CMS that is easy to use and hosted on a secure server is recommended for all serious business websites.

Crystal Thought CMS
We decided from day one to build our own CMS and we are regularly monitoring and improving the usability and security of the system.

Our bespoke CMS has been developed and improved over a number of years in collaboration with our clients and provides a system that will allow easy up-dating and changing of web page content and layout.

To find out more about our CMS visit Crystalthoughtcontent-management-system

Mark Langston

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