25th October 2019
Business start-ups and small local enterprises with a few employees can find it daunting when they come to think about building and maintaining a website.

Today, most businesses whether they are a local builder, hairdresser or insurance broker need a presence on the web. Your customers are all searching online and even if they find you through a referral or press advert, they will want to check out your website to find more information before making contact.

A website gives your business credibility by providing additional information about your business. What you do, how you do it and where you are. Additional proof of the quality of your services or products is provided through images and testimonials on your web pages.

Small-Business-Website-Design

Domain names, hosting, HTML, website builders, content management

These are words you will be hearing regularly when you start looking into getting a website built.

You can write the content, take the photographs and even build it yourself these days if you have the time to get to grips with what is needed to develop a presentable website. The risk is, you will end up with a website that does not work properly, cannot be found on local searches and turns visitors off instead of converting. If you decide to do it yourself, these are some of the elements you will need to get right.

Developing websites for small business

Because your competitors will already have well-established websites, you need to make a good first impression when you launch. Your website must have a great visual impact and contain well-written content that helps to sell your products or services and gets you found on local searches.
 

Design
A well-designed website with intuitive navigation will give your site a unique presence on the web. Web designers have to keep up with the latest trends in design and technology to provide a website that will convert visitors and perform well on search rankings so you will have to do some research on your competitors and other websites that you consider have good design and perform well.

Website copywriting
Google search algorithms reward websites that are well written, have good grammar and spelling and are easy to read and understand. Search engines and your readers will value content that quickly explains what you do and how you do it. Highlighting the features and benefits of your services will make it easier for them to choose you over your competitors. Duplicate content, thin or low-quality content will put you at a disadvantage in the search rankings.

Before you start writing content, you need to know the keywords your target audience will be using to search for your product or service. You can use Google’s keyword tool or a proprietary software platform to find out how many searches are being made on your keywords and then include them in your content.

Our_Work

Photography
There are many stock image libraries where you can buy images and some of these are free. However, if you can take your own photographs of premises, work you have done for clients or products, they will often have a greater impact than generic stock images.

If you do take your own pictures, they will need to be high quality, fit the layout of your web page and be relevant to the content. Images taken from a mobile phone or camera will give you a large jpeg file that will need to be compressed so it does not slow the web page down.

Web development
The technical quality of a website helps it to rank in searches.  Broken links, large images (uncompressed) that make a web page slow to load and pages that cannot be crawled will all affect your local page rankings on search engines. Speed is a big ranking factor especially on mobile phones and your visitors will not thank you for making them wait while your page loads.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
This is a huge subject that has been covered in some of our other blog articles. The same principles apply whether you are a local or global enterprise, the better the quality of your content, the better your website will rank on search engines. You also need to continue to add content and keep your content up to date. The best way to do this is with a blog. Writing articles about your business sector and informational pieces about your products or services will add new content to your site and help improve search rankings. To read all our articles covering Search Engine Optimisation, click on the SEO tag below.

Online marketing
Once your website is complete, you will need to have a marketing strategy that will drive traffic to your website. It does not have to be expensive. As a small business, you will probably be working with a limited budget to spend on advertising. Social media pages are free to set up and post on except for your time. Email marketing can be a very cost-effective way of keeping in touch with customers and informing them of new developments in your business and there are plenty of free email platforms you can use to design and send multiple emails.

Google My Business
To help get your business listed on local searches you need to register with Google My Business. You can add information about your opening hours, location map, business profile and relevant images together with a link to your website.

Website prices
You may prefer to leave the website build to a professional web developer and supply the content yourself which is a good balance of resources. The cost of developing simple brochure/information style websites has come down over the last few years as template designs and content management tools have improved. The process can be quick and cost-effective if you can gather all the information you need for your web pages.

One of our recent articles covers all you need to know about working with a web designer to get your website built, click on the website design tag below to read all of our website design articles.
 
Before you ask your website designer to mock-up a design for your new website, you should be analysing how your current website is performing.

Improving your website should not just be about a new look but include improvements to increase leads and ultimately sales.

Website-analytics-on-computer-screenDiscover the potential value of your website and what improvements are needed by asking the following questions:
  • Is your website generating the number of enquiries you would expect?
  • How many visitors do you get to your website and where are they coming from?
  • What devices are they using to view your website, phone, tablet or desktop?
  • How many potential clients are being lost before they reach a call to action and where are they abandoning your website?
  • How many monthly visits are your competitors getting and where are they obtaining their traffic?
  • Where is your website currently ranking on search engines and for which keywords?
  • What is the average value of a lead or transaction from your website?
Carrying out a website audit will answer all these questions and enable you to allocate a budget towards your new website that will provide a return on investment.

If you need help with this, we have the software tools to provide the statistics you will need to help improve your website.

Design process
Once we have established your budget and what you want to achieve, the next step is to develop a site map and navigation structure. This will involve discussions with you to analyse the website audit information to establish a page flow, listing your new pages and how they connect to help users find what they are looking for and act.

The website audit information is vital at this stage of the development. It will guide your new website structure and identify areas for improvement.

Website-redesign

Content
This may not seem the right stage in the process to be thinking about content. However, to give your words maximum impact and help tell your story, content should guide the design, not the other way around. Using the information from the website audit you need to ask:
  • Is your existing content converting traffic?
  • Does it perform well for organic searches, SEO and keywords?
  • Does it represent your current brand values and latest information?
  • Is it well written with good grammar and spell-checked?
  • Can you write it yourself?
If you need help with this, we can write copy for your pages, news and blog articles. Writing for your audience first but keeping keywords and SEO in mind at the same time for maximum impact and high page ranking.

Design visuals
Once we have your final content, including images that are available to use, we can start work on the design mock-ups for your pages.

This is where the creativity starts; using information from the website audit and the content provided, your web designer can then develop page designs and layouts, starting with the home page, ready for your approval.

This stage can take time to finalise as your team will want to have an input in this process. Colours, images and styling are all subject to individual tastes so it is vital to get all your feedback at this stage of the process because any changes later in the website development can impact on schedules and cost.

Designer_making_website_visuals_for_pages

Website development
Once design concepts are approved, development work can start. Depending on the size of your project, you may not see much in the way of progress for a while until a demo website is available for you to view.

If all the previous work has gone to plan and we have interpreted your requirements correctly, there should be no surprises at this stage. Your approved designs will be built and your approved content in place. There will always be some tweaking to be done. From experience, when content is viewed on a live page in context with images, some elements need to be moved around and these minor amends are usually included in the contingency costs up to a certain limit.

Mobile optimisation
All websites these days should be optimised for mobile devises. This is the last stage in the development process and cannot be carried out until your desktop website page designs and layouts are approved.

Testing and quality assurance
Testing is carried out in house, across several platforms and devices, the main ones being PC’s using Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Apple Macintosh, using Safari and Mozilla Firefox.

Before launch, our team will individually check their own areas of input such as project management, design, content and development work, to make sure everything is as it should be and meets your brief.

All that needs be done now is to repoint the domain name to the new site and within (usually) 24 hours your new site will be live.

Continuous improvement
Whether you have opted to manage your website yourself using our bespoke content management system “Extanium” or you are happy for us to make the changes for you, new content added to your website will keep your pages up to date for your customers and provide more information for search engines to rank your pages.

An ideal way to add new content is via a blog or news section. This will have been flagged up following the website audit. Regular monthly posting of informative and interesting articles is the most effective way to improve your search engine rankings.

Start your web redesign by calling us on 01584 890725
 
If you are searching for ways to increase sales in today’s competitive environment, there are 5 steps you can take to start generating enquiries.

infographic1.Website performance
Your website is the hub of all your online activity.

Even if you are advertising off-line using press ads or mail drops, the first thing most people will do is go online to check out your website and research your business before taking any further action.

Like a lot of things from designer clothes to product packaging, image and design are important and will create the first impression visitors will have of your business.

Quality of build is also important. What determines how successful your website pages are at being found by search engines will depend on how the site has been constructed, how engaging the content is and the relevance of the keywords used.

It takes the skills of a good designer and web developer with an understanding of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to provide a sound foundation for your website to develop and grow as your business goes forward. With the right management, continuous SEO work and generation of new content, these skills will help you achieve a page one ranking on Google over a period of time.

A good website is an investment and you will reap long-term rewards if you take time at the beginning of the project to work with your developers to give your website the best chance of converting visitors into clients.

2.SEO
Assuming your website has been developed with SEO in mind, this will provide a good starting point to monitor and improve the rankings of your most important keywords on the main search engines.

A new website will take around 6 weeks to settle and start providing the keyword ranking information needed to identify where to concentrate efforts on improving page content to move keywords up the page rankings.

New content and improving existing content are amongst the most important factors in SEO. Having a Blog on your website and regularly posting informative articles will help improve your keyword rankings.

We already work with a select number of our clients to achieve page one rankings. First, we carry out a review of your keywords and competitor activity. Then, if we think we can achieve results for you we would recommend a programme of work to achieve success. We will be honest with you if we think SEO is not the best way for you to achieve results and we consider one of the other steps below to be more cost-effective for your particular business.

3.Social media
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are some of the most popular social media sites. For small businesses with limited time, I would recommend focussing on one social media platform and spend your time there. Social media can be very time consuming if you want to generate quality leads and increase your connections with the aim of sending them to your website or taking the conversation off-line for a more detailed discussion. Call me to find out how.

4.Advertising
Developing a successful advertising campaign will bring a constant supply of leads into the business.

Choosing where to advertise and creating the adverts for a campaign that will generate enquiries will need research into your products or services. Price comparisons, competitor research and an understanding of your target audience will help decide where to advertise and what to say in your adverts.

Online advertising such as Google Adwords can drive traffic to your website immediately. Campaigns can be set up and tested very quickly to find out what works using conversion tracking and Google Analytics to measure the effectiveness of click-throughs to your website.

Social media paid advertising on Facebook and LinkedIn is relatively new and can be very effective for some businesses. Like Adwords, adverts can be tested and refined to maximise response rates and conversions to provide a constant supply of enquiries to your website.  

Press and TV advertising are still relevant for some businesses; however, it is more difficult to track responses to justify the cost unless you can direct readers to a specially developed landing page or unique phone number to record visitor numbers.

Whichever route is best for you, your website will be the hub of the activity.

5.Email marketing
Sending regular emails to your clients and prospects, providing you have their permission, is still one of the most effective ways of getting your message to your audience.

If you are writing a regular blog article for your website, as well as sharing on social media, send a link in your email to the article and continue to remind subscribers of your products or services.

Further reading
You will find more information about each of the above steps in some of our previous articles and I will be writing in more detail about each of the above in future articles. Alternatively, visit the Marketing Services section of our website.

Call 01584 890725 to discuss how you can use these and other marketing techniques to grow your business.

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

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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