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What should you think about when designing your website?

What should you think about when designing your website?

You’re off!  You’ve got a great business idea, you’re raring to go and you need your website up and running now!  Before you rush ahead too quickly have a look at this “Take Five” – where we consider a number of things you need to think about in regard to your website and the questions you need to ask when designing (or engaging someone to design your site).  The points are also relevant to those companies who have a website up and running already but have neglected it somewhat!

Think about your website as your digital shop front – it’s often the first contact a potential customer has with you.  So what sort of impression are you giving?  Is it soooo “creative” that a visitor to your site will have absolutely no idea what it is you offer, what it’s all about or what you sell?  Is it chaotic and too difficult to find anything or is it laden down with corporate phrases and acronyms (yawn)?

How easy is it to navigate your site?

People won’t go round the houses to find what they want and if they can’t find it easily, they’ll head off to another site that is easier to navigate.  Put yourself in your visitors’ shoes – what are they looking for and how quickly can they find – two clicks should be the maximum.

What should I double check?

Mobile – Is your site mobile friendly? What does it look like on a smaller device?

Photographs – Are the photographs resized so the page load time is kept down?  Are they consistent in style?  All black and white or all colour?

Colours – Are the colours user-friendly?  What if your customer is colour blind or visually impaired?  Is there enough of a contrast between the colours?  Just because they’re your favourite colours doesn’t mean that they’re everyone else’s.  Ask someone to be honest with you!

Pop-Ups – if you’re using pop-ups (say for sign-ups) have you checked they’re not popping up too much, covering your content or are difficult to get rid of.

Text – Is your text too small or difficult to read?  Are you using the correct type of font (sans-serif fonts are easier to read online eg Arial or Verdana)?

Is your content relevant and jargon-free?

Good content helps your customers connect with you and you communicate with them.  It provides continual awareness and exposure of your brand and products.  A website (and social media) gives you the ability to update your business news as it happens.

How can you attract new customers if they don’t know about you and what your business is about?

Will I be able to update the site myself?

You may wish to send your changes over to your designer but if you’re confident that you can make the edits yourself, can you easily access the site platform to make those changes?  If it’s WordPress or something like Squarespace or Wix then you should ask for the login and password.  Before you start your new project it is a good idea to ask this question because if someone hand codes your site for you it could be that only they (or someone with technical knowledge) can edit and update it.  How many people do you know who understand html and css?

Have you remembered your "Calls to Action"?

You’ve designed a great site and your customers love it but you’re making it really difficult for them to contact you.  Again, no one has the patience to trawl through a site or rummage through a cluttered page, so make sure that one call to action is obvious and easy to use.

Also try to ensure that other contact details are easy to find – phone number, email address, social media links, and general contact forms.  Don’t put too many obstacles in the way!

Think about your website as your digital shop front – it’s often the first contact a potential customer has with you.

Still not sure in which direction to go?

If you’d like to dicuss anything further, then why not get in touch and we can have a chat.

What to think about when setting up a new business

What to think about when setting up a new business

You’ve had a great business idea, you’ve taken the plunge and you’re ready to get going but there’s so much you need to think about.  Suddenly there’s a myriad of things you need to understand (with no corporate IT Department at the end of the phone) and you’re being offered unsolicited advice left, right and centre. In my first “Take Five” I will hopefully be able save you some time and stress (well at least digitally).

I have been privileged and honoured to have been present at the start of many successful businesses.  Here are a few helpful hints (well advice) on how to avoid some of the regular digital pitfalls.  To ensure your adventure starts off on the right foot and that you don’t encounter too much trouble (well on this matter only) , here are my FIVE  pointers to send you in the right direction (the views are all my own).

Domain Names

Please don’t enthusiastically rush off and register your domain name with some random hosting company (particularly if they’re not in the UK).  Talk to your website designer and ask for their advice on where they think both the domain name should be registered and where your site should be hosted.

Have a look at your potential domain name – does it have other connotations when run together?

Do you need .co.uk and .com?  How will you feel if your business grows and suddenly you realise that whilst you have the .co.uk domain name someone locally is using the .com option (yes, it’s happened to a company close to here!)?

Try to avoid dashes, complicated names or lots of initials in your domain name.  Not only will it be a pain to remember for visitors but it will be mistyped and you may not be found.

Please ensure that the domain name is registered in your name (and therefore your company’s), that you know where it is registered (and how to login to the account) and that you are paying for your domain name. You don’t want to be held hostage by a third party who can’t or won’t let you have access to it.

Social Media

Check that the social media names for your new business are available on all platforms and then set up these platforms immediately (they can always be finished later).  You’d be pretty upset to find that they’re no longer available once your carefully crafted website is complete.

How do these social media names look?  Do they make sense or do they spell something inappropriate? Can you believe that Camp America’s Instagram name is @campamerica69

Are your names obvious and easy for someone to tag you on social media (we have a shop nearby that has a completely irrelevant Facebook @ tag – frustrating)?

Are the names too similar to another company?  Recently South Eastern Railway (our local train company covering London, Kent and East Sussex in the UK – @se_railway) was tagged in an angry tweet which was meant for @serailwaykol (Kolkata – India). South Eastern (UK) did politely reply and point the cross gentleman in the right direction.

Website Login Details

If someone is designing your site please don’t forget, at the end of the project, to find out the hosting company details, logins and passwords as well as the admin passwords for your website login (WordPress or template builders).  If one day you can’t get hold of the designer at least someone else will be able to update your website.  Yes, this can happen (a number of times of actually!).  Ask for a summary of all this information if it hasn’t been provided.

Photographs & Graphics

Yes, copyright does matter. Pay for a subscription to something like Shutterstock or Twenty20 or use a royalty-free service but do not under any circumstances use someone else’s work. No, you can’t just copy someone’s logo or photo off the internet and change it a bit. They will find out and they will have every right to charge you handsomely for it.

Digital Budget

This should not be an afterthought but an integral part of your business budget set up. Think carefully about how you will build your online presence and if you need to include a budget for paid advertising like Facebook or Google Ads? Your website hosting and email will not be free and as your website is your digital shop window you need to ensure it makes your business look good. Don’t cut corners but find someone you’d like to work with and who you feel understands your business.

It can sometimes seem so overwhelming …

Still not sure in which direction to go?

If you’d like to dicuss anything further, then why not get in touch and we can have a chat.