Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
and will return the first Wednesday of 2017.*
Recently I participated in a Marketing Seminar at the Business Gateway in Aberdeen, facilitated by the excellent Liz Pirrie. Listening to the great bunch of people passionately describing their businesses – animal welfare, fitness trainers, payroll services, pollution control consultants, luxury soap manufacturer, the variety was huge – and their hectic days; it was obvious that as a small business owner you have many, often competing, priorities ….
I was exhausted just listening to them! It got me thinking, ‘why, when you have so much on your plate already, would you ever would ever consider making your own website’?
It is true, if you require a website for your business, you are faced with a bewildering range of choices. ‘Doing it yourself’ using one of the apparently “easy to use” template based services can be very appealing.
However, is it such a good idea? Are there any drawbacks to using a template driven site builder for your businesses website? Yes there are, and before opting for a DIY template website, here are seven you should be aware of before opting for DIY.
1. Learning Curve – The adverts for these services are full of people smiling happily whilst they create an amazing looking website in less time than it takes to rustle up a sandwich. It is largely a con. As with any tool, working out how to use it, and use it effectively, takes time. Business owners can often take 40 – 50 hours to learn how to use the web development tool and then craft the finished website for their firm. Whilst the business owner has been beavering away creating a website, what else could (perhaps more importantly – should) they have been doing? And, have they truly saved any money by doing it themselves? Take those 40 -50 hours and multiply by the hourly rate charged to a customer. They may well find that a professional web designer would have cost them less (and created the site far more quickly) than the business owner has managed to do themselves using a template.
2. No differentiation – Using a template means that everyone that adopts that tool starts out with the same basic framework. More than likely, the resulting website will resemble each other. Access to the same font packages, same image galleries and same basic colour schemes all but guarantee a site is going to be similar to other sites derived from the same source. We all want to stand out, we all want our business to look different; using a template significantly reduces our ability to reflect our businesses true identity in our website.
3. User Experience – Whilst a template does allow you to create a website, will it be a good website and will it work for your customers? Most of us make a snap decisions about a product or service in the first few seconds of viewing its website. Without a good understanding of User Experience (UX) and thus User Interface (UI) design, the business owner employing a template is stuck with the UI and UX that the template builder had in mind. Poorly placed navigation links, hard to read colour combinations, unresponsive designs will all drive the site visitor back to the search results and onto another site – another potential customer lost.
4. Transfer-ability – In many cases, you can’t easily move a site or its contents when it is based on a template service. If the business happens to outgrow the service provided by the template hosts or gets fed up with their less than stellar support, they might discover they are stuck with the template hosts as they are not be able to download their content to go elsewhere. They are not far short of being a “hostage”!
5. Backups – Most templates back up their systems in case of a crash but don’t necessarily protect you from yourself. If you accidentally delete an entire page from your website it may be gone for good. As an aside, if a site is created in a template it is worth backing it up to your local machine so you have the text and images just in case you remove something important. Imagine how long it would take to restore an entire page of information, source the graphics you previously used and re-configure the links you had on the page.
6. Total cost – The template will cost more in the long run. Most templates are based on a monthly fee. This can be upwards of $25 / £18 per month. Add that up over a couple of years and compare to site hosting fees. Over the course of a few years the small business will have spent more than it would have taken to have their site built by a web designer and have it hosted.
7. Lastly, Value versus Cost – Yes, going down the template route might appear to be cheaper (though you might be questioning this now too) but will the website give the business the Value it needs and requires? A good website will help to draw customers to a business whilst a poor one might actively turn them away. Small businesses usually have a very specific goal in mind for their websites. Attract, engage, retain and convert visitors to customers. If a site fails at any one of these stages then it clearly hasn’t succeeded as a business tool. Knowing how to attract, engage, retain and convert visitors is what you are paying the web designer for.
Do your business a favour and don’t trust to luck and a template. Engage a web design professional to make your business website a success. It will let you get on with successfully managing your business!
QD Design have been making outstanding websites for smaller businesses and start-ups since 2004. We know exactly the challenges small business face and can help and advise on the best options for any small business looking to get onto the web.
The prime purpose of virtually every website is to be a “shop window” to the world. Most businesses I speak with want to significantly increase the traffic to their web site. And, once there, they want to covert more of that traffic to active, loyal and long standing customers. Your “shop window” may be fantastic but if no one stops by to view it, it isn’t doing much for your business.
Here are 14 ways to get more traffic to your site and to convert that traffic more frequently.
1) Easy navigation
Around each page, between pages and back to the home page from any level within the site. When visitors get lost or confused on a site, they typically go to elsewhere. The navigation should be obvious and readily accessible from every page on the site.
2) Responsive design
Yes, I know this is nothing new but if the visitor on a phone cannot view the site, they will vote with the back button and go elsewhere. Ensure that everyone, regardless of device, can see your site as you want them to.
3) Compatible and tested with multiple browsers
Whilst you no doubt have a favourite browser, your visitor may use an entirely different platform. Does your site work equally well in ALL browsers? Did you check this?
4) Page speed
No one likes to wait. People drift away if the page is slow to load and rarely return to a slow site if they can help it. There are many tools you can use to evaluate page speed and make improvements to a site Google Developers Page Speed Test is one we at QD Design use frequently.
5) Dead or broken links
Nothing says “unloved” website more than a broken or dead link. It is a real turn off for visitors. Either check your links by hand or use an on line link checker such as Broken Link Check to see if there are any that need updating.
Genuine testimonials from real clients can count hugely to converting visitors into customers. If appropriate, include a video from them talking about your product or service. This is just about the most powerful advocacy you can get for your business.
7) User interface / user experience
A website has to meet the needs of the visitor / customer and not pander to the whims and desires of the site owner and designer. A site that is easy to read, easy to navigate and free from irritating distractions will convert many more visitors. For additional advice on UI / UX, check out this great info from the guys at UX Myths
8) Language appropriate for your audience
Write in their language; avoid jargon, slang and any colloquial phrases that people may not understand. Always bear in mind that your website is a tool for the visitors and not a vehicle for you to show off.
9) Answer visitors questions
In other words, try to predict what questions brought them to your site and what information will satisfy them. If you don’t know, then you may have missed something vital to help convert visitors to loyal customers.
10) About us
Few people want to do business with someone / something they don’t know. Ensure your site has an ‘About Us’ section that says who you are and what makes you tick. Present your human face to your visitors (you are human aren’t you)!
Similar to the ‘About Us’ point above, visitors rarely feel comfortable doing business with a firm where the prices are hidden or unclear. If you can, show your pricing structure openly so it saves any embarrassing moments when the customer realises they cannot afford you / your services.
12) Live chat
When you are providing a service and customers need to interact directly with you, a chat tool is often preferred to e mail as a means to get / give information quickly. If you have the staff and can run a live chat to engage with customers, you should see a significant increase in customer enquiries made through your website.
13) Simple, short forms
Should you want to create an e mail list then all you really need from the visitor is their name and email address. Asking for other data, e.g. street address, phone number, date of birth – I know it is only so you can wish them Happy Birthday on their big day – massively puts people off from signing up as they may have genuine concerns over how that data may be used, shared or stored.
14) Finally, no snarky exit ‘pop ups’
You know the sort of thing, emblazoned across the screen as you go to leave a site is a huge banner saying, “No thanks, I really don’t want 20 amazing ways to make my life awesome” When pop ups try to make you feel bad about not clicking a sign up or try to make you feel dumb that you could be missing out on something, they have overstepped the line. There is a reason why the visitor hasn’t click your button and trying to force them into doing it now probably isn’t going to work. They will just leave and in most probability, do their best never to come back.
What would you add to the list to get more people to visit your website? Leave your answers below in the comment box.
You have just completed (or your designer has) your brand new website. The site is live and after many weeks of frantic effort you can finally take a break, sit back and admire the newly launched site, right?
Unfortunately, the hard work continues; in fact, some may say, it has only just begun once the site has gone live! Any parent will tell you that the birth of a child is just the start of years of effort and commitment during which they see their loved one grow and develop. A new website is spookily similar (though maybe with fewer sleepless nights and fewer tantrums)!
In essence, once your website has gone live you need to….
Here is the QD Design checklist for how you can do this once your site has gone live.
If your chosen designer doesn’t have a process for continually improving your website, are they truly the right person for the job? There is more to web design than just devising the site itself. At QD Design we know that the design and deployment is the (relatively) easy part, maintaining and improving the site to achieve your business aims over the long term is where the hard graft is really needed.
QD Design can assist you every step of the journey; get in touch to find out what we can do for you.
According to the Centre for Retail Research in the run up to Christmas 2014, on line shopping in the UK comprised very nearly 25% of all sales made. This was up a whopping 19% on the year before. We spent over £17bn on-line in the six weeks before Christmas 2014.
As the BBC reported Scammers, hackers, thieves and crooks of all persuasions are gearing up to take advantage of our increasing adoption of online purchasing and are planning even more cunning ways to part us from our money.
Here are 10 ways to shop safely on line….
Shopping on line is convenient and brings a world of choice and convenience to your front room. Done with a reasonable amount of caution, it is no less risky than shopping on the high street. Done with less awareness and a degree of carelessness or naivety, and you face a chance of getting scammed, fooled or sadly robbed.
Take care and above all, stay safe.