We covered this subject a few years ago in our original post “Problems with WordPress websites” and we have updated this post to reflect any changes that have taken place recently.

If you are looking to get a new website developed for your business and have been told that WordPress is the best solution, before you make up your mind, type “problems with WordPress websites” into a Google search bar and take a look at some of the posts on the page.
 
problems_with_wordpress_websites_-_Google_Search

Most of these posts have been written by WordPress developers advising ways of solving some of the issues that are inherent in WordPress. We take a look at some of the main problems below and itemise the pros and cons of WordPress compared to a bespoke website build. This will provide you with all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision.

WordPress provides a good platform for building websites but like any other open source software it is not perfect and does have its problems:
 
  • Because it is a well-known platform security can be compromised, hackers and robots can easily find WordPress websites to attack
  • WordPress regularly release security updates to fix security holes
  • These security updates can break a website so the agency will have to continuously monitor your site and fix any issues that appear, billing you for the work
  • The website hosting server will need constant surveillance to monitor security updates
  • Plug-ins written by multiple third-party developers can break or conflict with other plug-ins installed
  • The quality of these plug-ins varies and there is limited support if you need to change them
  • Installing a large number of plug-ins can slow your site down and speed is now one of the most important factors for users and SEO
  • Some WordPress developers have limited coding/programming skills because, in theory, these skills are not needed
  • Lack of originality; your website will look like many other WordPress websites
  • License fees for themes and some plug-ins can add to the cost.

WordPress started out as a blogging platform. It was not meant for developing multiple page websites with extra functionality.  This is why you need a plug-in for every additional feature.

This does not mean that WordPress websites are sub-standard. Providing your web agency has the skills and knowledge to maintain your website and keep it secure and has the experience to choose the best quality plug-ins that do not conflict with each other, a WordPress website can provide a cost-effective build option. However, you need to consider ongoing costs for maintenance.

Bespoke website design or WordPress?

Bespoke_website_design

Your decision will depend on factors such as budget, what you want your website to achieve and how unique some of the features are.

Advantages of using a WordPress theme:
 
  • You get an off the shelf design that is mobile ready which can save time and money
  • Content is easily inserted into the website to match the design theme
  • Design themes can be sourced from a variety of providers; some are free but others are governed by a license fee
  • A wide variety of plug-ins are available to provide additional functionality, some are free, others you have to pay for
  • Open source platform that is well known.

Ideal if you want a website using a design theme and a standard set of plug-ins and you don’t need unique development in the future.

If your developer has coding/programming skills they can customise your WordPress site. However, if you want customisation, it can sometimes be more cost-effective to opt for a bespoke website design.

Advantages of bespoke website design:
 
  • Unique design for your business
  • Features that are developed specifically for your business
  • Content Management System that is intuitive and easy to use
  • No need for security updates as the system is less likely to be attacked by hackers or robots
  • Secure and fast with no unnecessary Plug-ins slowing the site down
  • More control over the design and layout of your pages
  • Additional bespoke development can be added in the future, if required
  • No license fees.

Ultimately, like most things, you get what you pay for and it all boils down to the skill and experience of the agency you select.

Why Crystal Thought

At Crystal Thought, we build both WordPress and bespoke websites and have the coding/programming skills to develop a website that will meet your individual requirements. Whichever platform you choose we will help you to decide what will work best for your business. Read more about our Extanium Content Management System.
 

1. Improve your website for conversions

Improving your existing website should not just be about a new look. Your website has to generate leads and ultimately deliver sales in a competitive marketplace.
 
As well as developing a website design brief, we also take account of:
  • Where your website currently ranks on search engines and for which keywords?
  • What your best performing keywords are?
  • What keywords your competitors are using and where they rank?
  • Your calls to action and are they converting?
  • Where visitors are leaving your website pages?
Ultimately, your website has to perform well against your competitors and generate sales. The content on your website has to convert readers into customers and help to rank your pages on search engines.

2. Design

Good design is about capturing the attention of your audience and guiding them to the most important messages on your website.

Using images, illustrations and infographics is a great way of getting your message across. Web designers will use these elements to provide immediate impact, maintain users’ interest and help them to navigate around the site.

UX and UI (user experience and user interface) are about knowing how to blend functionality with creativity. This will provide easy navigation and a design that is informative and interactive by using animation (motion) and video where relevant. UX also includes technical aspects of the page such as fast loading speed and SEO content.

Modern design is moving towards more white space and uncluttered pages to make it easier for the user to find your most important messages, links and calls to action.

With mobile accounting for around 50% of internet traffic and rising year on year, your website design must be fully responsive and intuitive to use on a mobile device.

Designer_making_website_visuals_for_pages


You only have a few seconds to make a good impression and convince visitors they will find what they are looking for when they land on your website.

3. Content

An effective content marketing strategy costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates 3 times as many leads.

To give your words maximum impact and help tell your story, your content should guide the design of your website. Your content needs to:
  • Convert visitors
  • Perform well for organic searches
  • Represent your current brand values and latest information
  • Be original
  • Be well written with good grammar, checked for plagiarism and spell-checked
  • Include your best-performing keywords
  • Be regularly updated and added to.
Write for your audience first but keep keywords and SEO in mind at the same time for maximum impact and high search engine page ranking.

4. Website page structure

Using your keyword researched content, you should establish an effective page flow for your information by using:
  • Your most searched keywords in the header and subtitles to break the page up into manageable sections
  • Bullet points to quickly get your facts across to the reader
  • Hyperlinks that click through to more information on other pages to help users navigate the site
  • Calls to action on pages to encourage users to click through to a checkout, find more information or complete an enquiry form.

Calls to action
CTAs work more effectively if you can offer the reader something of interest or value. If they sign up to your newsletter or fill in your enquiry form, offer a discount or an E-book that visitors will gain some value from.

CTAs should be bold to attract attention with careful use of colour and information to encourage the user to click through. Using the right colour for a button has been proven to increase the click-through rate.

Website_Content

Tell your story more effectively by providing well-structured pages that will help users find the information they need and take action.

5. Continuous improvement

New content added to your website will keep your pages up to date for your customers and provide more information for search engines to improve the ranking of your pages (Search Engine Optimisation - SEO).

An ideal way to add new content is with blog or news articles. Search marketing is an essential element of the continual improvement of your website page rankings. Regular posting of informative articles on your blog and reviewing and optimising your existing web page content is the most effective way to achieve this.

Without continuous work to improve and add content to your site, it will not be found on the web unless users already know your brand.

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.

Mark Langston
 
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

Mark Langston
 
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.
 

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