Bad news about your website – you’ve got the content all wrong

This was posted on June 23rd, 2017

We’ve got some bad news.

 

People don’t visit your website to find out how great you are. They’re not interested in your business, it’s history or how many top awards you have sitting on the mantlepiece.

 

They care about one thing – themselves. We all do.

 

The visitors to your website are looking for an answer to a problem they have or a product that provides a solution to an ongoing challenge.

 

You may have exactly what they need or the answer that solves their problem. The content on your website should therefore address their pain and explain in plain English how you can help.

 

Here are six things you can do to your website content to make it more seductive and bring in more leads:

 

  1. Put your big idea front and centre

Whatever it is that you have for your customers, put it front and centre.

 

When you visit Apple’s website, for example, their products hit you straight between the eyes. That’s because Apple knows they’ll grab the most attention. You can do the same with a bold image or big, captivating headline.

 

  1. Work on the readability

Take a look at this blog’s intro. We’ve focused on short, sharp sentences and paragraphs.

 

Your web content needs to do the same to ensure readability and the ability for visitors to quickly skim for the info they want. Few people will read it all, so…

 

  • avoid chunky paragraphs;
  • promote the use of bullet points.

 

  1. Include soundbites

A sound bite is a nugget of wisdom – a piece of text that is easy to remember and perfectly quotable. They often come in the form of straplines, and you can’t have enough of them on your website.

 

Stick to the rule of providing information in groups of three, for example “the thinnest, lightest, most beautiful device we’ve made”.

 

  1. Create stories around your products and business

Head to most company ‘about us’ pages, and you’re met with long, drawn-out histories of how they came to be and their commitment to ‘constant improvement’.

 

That’s all a bit dull, isn’t it? Instead, tell a story about your business. What drives it? Who are the people behind it (the characters in this plot, as it were)? Give it a beginning, middle and make the customer’s role the end (i.e. the purchase!).

 

  1. Present features as solutions to their problems

Let’s say you’re looking for a new tablet. You discover two manufactures who both offer bullet-pointed feature lists.

 

Manufacturer A:

 

  • 10” screen
  • 8gb of RAM
  • Stylus support
  • Keyboard case included
  • 10 hours battery life

 

Manufacturer B:

 

  • Work on two apps at once with a 10” screen that improves productivity
  • Enough memory to ensure you’re never left waiting for a process to complete
  • Ditch your pen and paper and do everything with one device
  • Make the transition from laptop to tablet and simplify your tech setup
  • Work all day without ever having to hunt for a power outlet

 

Which one would you go for?

 

  1. Overcome objections before they’re made

Your product or service isn’t perfect – that simply isn’t possible – but you can go a long way to reducing fear in buyers by overcoming objections before they’re made.

 

For example, if you’ve developed a new phone case that is glass-like in appearance, you could dispel fears about it’s durability by saying: “Even though our case is as smooth and clear as glass, it’s actually toughened plastic, so won’t shatter”.

 

Wrapping up

Follow our tips above, and you’ll quickly create a web presence that is both seductive and ready to turn passers-by into brand advocates – rather than boring them to death.

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7 Things people hate about your website

This was posted on March 20th, 2017

 

It’s time to ask yourself some very tough questions about your business website.

When it was built, you loved it. The design was of its time, the customer journey was well thought out and it reflected your brand values perfectly. Things change, though; web design trends and best practices evolve, and can outdate websites – fast.

For example, it was only recently that Google switched to a mobile-first index, placing the previous king of the search result jungle (the desktop-optimised website) firmly into second place. As a result, any website that has failed to take small screens seriously is likely to see its rankings drop significantly.

If your website isn’t receiving the volumes of traffic it once enjoyed or if your analytics tell regular tales of people dropping out of the visitor journey at crucial points, there’s a good reason for it – but you’re not going to like it.

People hate your website.

Sorry.

 

Here’s seven reasons that might be the case:

 

  1. It isn’t mobile-friendly

It bears repeating: the mobile-first Google index is now live. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it’ll disappear without trace.

It’ll also frustrate visitors. If you’ve ever cursed a website’s inability to display correctly on your smartphone, you’ll know exactly what we’re referring to. You have seconds to make a good impression online, and the first one you make will almost certainly be on mobile device these days.

 

  1. Google says it isn’t secure

Google is now making its dislike of insecure websites obvious to users. If your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, it isn’t secure – and Google knows it.

Online security is something that is at the top of everyone’s minds in the digital age – make sure you give the people that browse your website ultimate peace of mind by implementing HTTPS encryption (it isn’t as expensive as you might think).

 

  1. It features a laborious slideshow

We’ve all seen and been frustrated by them; the seemingly endless slideshow that sits atop many business websites will make or break the user experience.

Slow load times and acres of text and imagery don’t make for an engaging slideshow. Stick to three slides max and keep both the copy and images punchy and relevant. No one will sit through eighteen slides of War and Peace.

 

  1. There’s too much waffle

As previously noted, you have mere seconds to catch someone’s attention online. Spend forever getting to the point, and you’ll lose them after the first paragraph.

Every word, sentence and paragraph on your website should tell an engaging story and have a purpose. Keep it short, concise and focused on the target market.

Which brings us onto our next point…

 

  1. You’re saying “we” too much

Customers only care about themselves. They don’t care about your heritage, countless years of service or the cabinet full of awards in the boardroom.

What can you do for them? What questions do your products and services answer? What’s in it for the person visiting your site?

Focus every element of your website on the user and stop staying “we” – naval gazing business websites simply don’t work.

 

  1. The calls-to-action are weak (or non-existent)

What do you want the people who visit your website to do once they’ve finished browsing? Without the right calls-to-action (CTAs), they’ll simply leave without making any form of contact, making the whole episode a rather pointless exercise.

Bearing in mind that every visitor will have different needs, you need to offer as many relevant CTAs as possible. Some will want a quote, others will want to download additional content, while many will just want to contact you.

Provide visitors with multiple options for completing their journey and they’ll make a decision that will offer you a vital insight into their position within the buyer’s cycle.

 

  1. You’ve used too many tacky stock images

Stock imagery has its place, but use too much of it, or skimp on the low quality stuff, and you’ll quickly turn off website visitors.

Investing in unique imagery that is relevant to your business is smart. A day with a photographer might feel lavish, but it will result in images that will make your website jump off the page and fully reflect your business’s brand values.

Close that Google Images window!

 

Wrapping up

The dawning realisation that people hate your website isn’t particularly pleasant, but it’s a crucial step in building a web presence you can be proud of and rely on to attract quality traffic.

From quality traffic comes pre-qualified leads – so, ask yourself each of the questions above, and make changes where your business website falls short. Now.

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How to get engaged online

This was posted on February 13th, 2017

 

What says “I love you” more than web design that draws in an audience and keeps them engaged long enough to foster an emotional connection?

Ok, a romantic spa break or unexpected marriage proposal may come close, but in business, nothing quite cuts it in the engagement stakes like a well-designed web presence.

Over the years, we’ve seen all manner of web technologies come and go. With each one, there has been a web design bandwagon aboard which many a marketing agency has jumped. Few stick around, though, due to the fact that many are more focused on technical prowess than usability and engagement.

Thankfully, those days appear to be behind us. What we’re left with now is a bunch of ever-advancing web technologies, which enable web designers to make business websites engaging and easy-to-use.

So, how can you set hearts pounding with your business website?

We’ve decided to highlight five ways any website can win the affections of your target audience:

  1. Homepage videos

As far back as 2012, it was reported that 87% of marketers relied on video for the majority of their content creation.

There’s one very good reason for this – video is incredibly sticky. Pop a video on your homepage, and you’ll almost certainly start to drive higher engagement from visitors.

The video can be anything (within reason) – a behind-the-scenes tour, team intro or simple ‘to-camera’ piece about the history of the business.

Give it a go!

  1. Proper CTA placement

What do you want visitors to your website to do?

Once they’ve read and digested the content on the website, where should they head next?

The answer might be to contact your sales team, sign up to a newsletter or make a purchase, but whatever it is, you need to make it an obvious next step.

Placement of the call-to-action is vital if you’re to win the attention of potential customers. By-and-large that means placing it prominently within the upper third of the website and ensuring it is a common element on all pages.

  1. Off-grid elements

It shouldn’t be forgotten that entire sections of content and areas of user interaction can be hidden from view until needed. It’s why we regularly see ‘burger’ menus at the top left or right of a web page.

The most common element to hide in this way is the main navigation, which works fabulously in the modern age due to the fact that people are spending more of their time using smartphone apps that employ similar techniques.

  1. A fixed header

An oldie, but a goldie.

Fixed headers have long been a staple of great web design because they provide simple, intuitive navigation for users, no matter where they happen to be on the page.

If they fancy jumping to a different section, the route will always be immediately obvious.

  1. Subtle animations

We’ve seen all manner of fancy animations hit the web, from early implementations of resource-hungry Flash to the more recent incarnations of parallax scrolling.

The trick with animation in web design is to only use it when it offers a genuine benefit to the user. If it’s only there for show, an animation is nothing more than a distraction.

By instead implementing subtle animations that only make themselves known as the user scrolls down and interacts with the website, you’ll draw them in further and encourage interaction.

Bonus tip: Don’t forget the metrics (to measure engagement!)

Let’s say you follow all of the tips in this post and end up with a beautiful yet functional website. How will you set about measuring engagement?

Failing to do so may put your hard work to waste, and it’ll certainly prevent you from spotting opportunities to iterate and improve the design.

Avoid the common mistake of leaving a website to do its job in the belief that you’ve carried out the hard work required to make it a success. Install Google Analytics and pay particular attention to bounce rates, page interaction and time on site.

By doing so, you’ll quickly discover whether or not you really have set hearts aflutter with your lovingly-crafted new website.

Chances are, if you follow the tips above, you’ll almost certainly win lots of new admirers!

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How to avoid the wrath of Google and add an SSL certificate to your website

This was posted on February 1st, 2017

Add SSL article to IHM blog

Google has got a bee in its bonnet about insecure websites. And it’s a rather big bee.

So big, in fact, that it’s now shining a very bright spotlight on any website that doesn’t have an SSL certificate.

“HTTP, we’re readying to call you out for what you are: UNSAFE!” tweeted Parisa Tabriz, manager of Google’s security team last January. She was referring to an upcoming change to Google’s Chrome web browser that would make it ultra-clear when websites aren’t secured via HTTPS.

What is HTTPS?

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, to give it its full name, is simply the secure version of ‘HTTP’, which is the industry standard protocol over which data is sent between a user’s browser and the website they’re viewing.

Websites that use HTTPS benefit from encrypted communication between the browser and web server. From a user’s perspective, the presence of HTTPS is usually denoted by a padlock symbol in the address bar of modern web browsers, but ‘https’ will also be present in the URL (e.g. ‘https://www.ihm.co.uk’).

So, what is Google doing, exactly?

The change to Google Chrome adds a prominent red ‘X’ to the padlock symbol whenever a website that doesn’t use HTTPS is detected. Previously, it simply displayed a blank white page symbol for such websites.

Originally announced back in 2014, the rationale behind the change was obvious – Google wanted to make it blindingly clear to the user when a website was using insecure methods to transport data to and from their device.

Insecure websites increase the opportunity for hackers to snoop or intercept communications – a threat that is more prevalent than ever in the digital economy and a key concern for anyone using the web. The presence of a red mark against a website, therefore, is likely to be taken seriously by most people.

“The goal of this proposal is to more clearly display to users that HTTP provides no data security,” Google’s Chris Palmer accurately summed up in an open forum back in 2014.

What’s an SSL certificate?

An SSL certificate is a small file stored on a web server which adds a cryptographic key to the data. When installed, it automatically activates the HTTPS protocol and enables the aforementioned secure transfer of data to and from web browsers.

 

The benefits of HTTPS and SSL for business

There are few threats online greater than hackers looking to steal vital personal or business information. If your business website has a valid SSL certificate installed, you’ll have taken a huge preventative step against hackers and those intent on intercepting your communications.

Without SSL and HTTPS, both your business data and that of the customer is at risk. The potential consequences of a breach simply don’t bear thinking about, and with Google Chrome now making it very clear indeed when a website isn’t secure, the brand damage and potential loss of business for those without SSL encryption could be significant.

Equally, and although not explicitly mentioned during Google’s announcement of the new Chrome feature, there’s always the chance that the search giant could begin penalising websites that are insecure by dropping their ranking within search results.

With relatively low cost of SSL certificates and the odds stacking up against insecure websites, investing in HTTPS is advisable for businesses of all sizes.

How do I add HTTPS to my business website?

So, you understand you need  to add HTTPS to your website. Great! But how do you go about doing so? Thankfully, the process is relatively straightforward.

Just speak to us and if you use our hosting services we have the expertise required to get an SSL certificate up and running.

It’s time to get secure and avoid the wrath of Google.

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Contact forms – don’t neglect yours!

This was posted on July 18th, 2016

contact-forms

 

When you’re setting up a website for your business, there’s a huge amount to keep in mind. We all spend days agonising over the appearance of our sites. The colours have to be just right, reflecting the tone of your company. The layout has to be carefully thought out, ensuring the site is easily navigable. The rise of high speed broadband has seen the increase of all sorts of extra whizzes and bangs, from video backgrounds to robotic assistants and animated components. Without a doubt, there’s a massive number of questions we all have to ask ourselves, to make sure our sites are a positive reflection of what we do, and to encourage our customers to fill their trolleys.

However, there is one part of many business’s websites which is regularly lacking attention and care. The contact form on your website is one of the most important pages in your arsenal when it comes to targeting customers and turning intrigue into closed sales, and yet it is one of the components which is most commonly neglected. This could be for many reasons – a lot of people are so distracted by pimping up the rest of the site and making sure it looks flashy and tempting, they forget about the importance of the contact form, which is, after all, often the last page potential customers see and thus vital for forming those closing impressions. Perhaps we’re so used to seeing uninspiring contact forms, we forget how much better they could potentially be. Perhaps, because of the nature of the form and its purpose, we assume that anyone clicking on that page are already interested enough not to warrant extra effort.

We shouldn’t underestimate how important and how useful a well designed, carefully constructed contact form can be. As I just mentioned – they can create a lasting final impression, and this can be equally powerful as a first impression. Furthermore, contact forms are vital for the success of your business. They allow visitors a quick and simple method for expressing interest and getting in touch with you, and this is most likely to be the first contact you’ll have with your customers directly. They may be enquiring about your products and services, which you can easily turn into sales, and they may also be contacting you directly to make suggestions or ask questions which could lead to the improvement of your business and customer relations. As such, they are hugely important, and should be treated and designed with this importance in mind.

So, let’s take a look at why this part of your website is so vital for the growth of your business, and a few ideas of how to improve them to make the most of your contact with your customers. After all, who doesn’t like receiving fan-mail?

What does a good contact form do?

Contact forms are not just for potential customers. They are the primary way all types of people are going to get in touch with. Existing customers may want to send you words of praise or constructive criticism, jobseekers may want to enquire about getting involved with your business, and other companies might be interested in working alongside you. A good contact form keeps things simple and direct, and handily directs all these type of people to the same inbox. For almost any business, they’re the best communication tool you have. Here’s why:

  1. They’re dead quick and simple. Customers don’t want to have to search your site for an email address, copy and paste it into their email server, or go through any extra effort to get in touch. Competition online is ferocious, and this has led to the attention span and patience levels of the general public shrinking rapidly. A contact form can be filled quickly, and with a click of the mouse, customer’s messages can be with you in an instant.
  2. They help you know your customer base. This is really very important for your business. A good contact form should allow you to know where your customers are coming from, what type of people your business is attracting online, and what the denizens of the internet are looking for. From this, you can streamline your business to attract more of the same, and develop useful ‘frequently asked questions’ sections of your site. Good contact forms on new-style websites also tell you how your enquirers found your site – through social media, google, etc – something which is becoming increasingly important in the world of online marketing.
  3. Contact forms positively invite enquiries and suggestions. Not all of your customers are going to be instantly converted to your products or services, no matter how wonderful they may be. A contact form gives them the freedom to quickly ask questions or seek advice, thus allowing you as a business person the opportunity to dispel any fears or hesitations, or offer your own suggestions.
  4. They help generate leads. What business doesn’t want to close more deals? When people log onto your website, you don’t have a clue who they are, you don’t even know they’re looking at your information. Contact forms convert the anonymous into the known, and when somebody enters their personal details into the form, they are demonstrating a level of trust that you – as a salesperson – can build upon to form a relationship with them.

With all this in mind, don’t you want to include your own contact form, or take another look at your contact form, and ensure it’s doing its job properly?

Make sure your contact form follows these basic guidelines:

  1. It must follow the design of your site. You don’t want your form to look as though it has been tacked on at the end, as an afterthought. Make sure the design components of your site are carried through into the contact form, whether this means sticking to a colour scheme, keeping the same fonts and headings, or including some related images.
  1. Make sure it contains all the relevant components. You’ll need a space for their name and email address, and plenty of space for questions and comments. Lots of good sites nowadays are coming up with creative ways of making this seem like a less intrusive process. For example, instead of putting just ‘NAME’ next to the text box… why not try something friendlier, like ‘My name is…’?
  1. Put in a confirmation message. This is reassuring for the customer, they want to know that their message is getting through. So after they’ve clicked ‘send’, make sure they see a quick message telling them their message has been sent, and an approximate guess as to how long it will take for you to get back to them. This will leave your customers feeling comforted, and these sort of impressions really count.
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Five Simple Ways to Improve Your Online Shop

This was posted on July 11th, 2016

improve-shop

 

 

My, how the world has changed. Many of us still remember the scepticism and snide jokes that were bandied about when online shopping first became available, with many claiming it would never catch on. They said the same about mobile phones. They said the same about jazz and rock n roll. They probably said the same about the television, soap and the wheel, too. The fact of the matter is that more and more of us are relying on online shopping for an ever-increasing percentage of our purchases. Groceries, clothes, children’s toys, wine… you name it, there’s an online shop providing it.

While this has had an adverse effect on the high street – we’ve seen the slow but inevitable death of bookstores, record shops and travel agents, to name but a few – this has surely been an overall positive trend. For the first time ever, the normal consumer no longer has to rely on what is locally available, and has more choice than ever before. Global competition for more or less every product and service has made companies lower their prices and make their services far more efficient and customer-friendly than ever before, and we’re all enjoying the benefits this has brought.

If you’re the owner of a business or the manager of a website which deals with online shopping, and you aren’t feeling the same benefits other similar businesses are enjoying, there could be a number of reasons for this. To be a player in the world of online shopping, it is of vital importance to keep up to date with new trends and the latest fashions for online shops. It is all too easy, in this fast paced, competitive market, to fall by the wayside. To be even a year out of date is drastic and potentially fatal nowadays, so take into account these five simple steps to ensure you’re doing all you can to bring success to your business. As is always the case in these matters, it’s often the little things that make all the difference. Even by updating your product photos (make them sharper and more professional looking) will massively improve the image of the company your customers receive.

  1. Offer the extras

It’s all too easy to offer the bare minimum nowadays. Because of the competitive nature of online shopping, somebody is always waiting to undercut your prices and offer something which you are not. Customers are not as loyal as they once were, and your competitors are nothing more than a mouse click away. As such, small extras such as free shipping (which everybody everywhere appreciates enormously), loyalty rewards for return customers, and free advice and consultations can make a world of difference, and will bring customers back to your site time and time again.

  1. Keep your customers up to date

This one should go without saying, really, but so many people fail to take this simple and effective step. It takes little more than a monthly newsletter to maintain interest in your products and services. Most website providers and site building companies now offer incredibly cheap and easy solutions to communicating directly with your customer base. Spend a little time every couple of weeks writing attractive, tempting newsletters, informing your clients of progress in your company, offers and discounts, or new ideas, and directly invite your existing and potential clients to click on your links and see for themselves what they’re missing. People appreciate the personal touch, and it is a great, warm way to invite people back who’ve visited in the past.

  1. Encourage reviews and feedback

This one can’t really be overstated. You’re proud of your company, and you know you’re products and services are great. But in this age of youtube comments, tripadvisor star ratings and ebay reviews, consumers expect and demand to know the deal from existing customers, not from the boss. Open up a feedback page on your site, or regularly publish positive reviews and thoughts from your happy customers. You can then highlight what people love about what you do, and this will encourage new customers to see how you can make them happy, too. You can never please absolutely everyone, but the consumer knows that a majority of positive reviews is more likely to sway their decision than anything else.

  1. Make sure your website is looking good

First impressions make a huge difference, in life and in business. Websites that look old fashioned, uncared for or badly designed have a massive impact on how long a customer stays on the site and browses your products. A bad looking website raises a lot of reasonable questions in the head of the consumer. Questions like: if they can’t manage a modern website, how well are they going to manage my money? It isn’t unfair to assume that because a website looks shoddily put together, your services and products would be the same. Would you buy your dinner in a dirty restaurant, even if the chef tells you the kitchen is clean? Of course not.

  1. Clearly state your returns and refund policies

At the beginning of this article, I said that online shopping was originally met with some hostility and scepticism. For many people, this feeling remained. There is always an element of risk with online shopping, as after all, you haven’t had the chance to see the product in situ, haven’t been able to touch it, see it from all sides, or try it on. There is an increased likelihood, therefore, that it may need to be returned at some point. For customers with this worry in mind, they need to be clearly reassured that should they be unhappy with their purchase, the returns policy is simple, straightforward, trustworthy, and written on your site in plain black and white. The chances are, they’ll be delighted with their purchase, but this little extra bit of security is likely to give them that final push in the right direction.

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Video Backgrounds – Not Just A Fad

This was posted on July 4th, 2016

video-background

 

One of the reasons we, as a civilisation, are so obsessed with and enthralled by technology is due to the fact that it is always moving. Twenty years ago, nobody would have imagined that in the pockets of almost the entire population would sit a small device, connecting us to all the information in the world, every film ever made, every song ever recorded, every book ever written. The pace at which technology is moving forwards is as exciting as it is fascinating, and every year, new advances are made which change the game for the year to come.

High speed internet changed what websites were able to do, more or less overnight. Suddenly, we could expand the size of our websites. We could add more information than ever before, make fast and effective links to other related sites. We could push our message across with every colour in the rainbow, and additional extras like sound and music began to be bolted on to words and pictures, creating a more immersive, personalised and interesting browsing experience.

Moving into the future

The newest widespread step in website design has been the addition of video and animation – not just as a insert or a link, but as a fundamental part of the image of a site. More and more companies and website owners are beginning to implement video backgrounds to their websites, creating something truly effective and involving where before there might have been just a static, blank canvas on which to post information.

This has been carried out with great effect, particularly in the creative industry. Successful examples include:

  1. The websites of various bands. These have had moving images of atmospheric scenes floating across the screen on their sites backgrounds, adding the drama and linking images with sounds taken from forthcoming records and tours, etc.
  1. Promotional websites for movies. These have added an extra layer of intrigue to their teasing, by running slow-motion clips of key scenes behind cast lists and reviews. It’s a brilliantly subtle way of ramping up the ‘image’ of a film, and demonstrating cinematographic skills and heightened dramatism.
  1. Industry giants such as Spotify. Many large music websites have used video backgrounds highly effectively, creating a sense of calm and a positive vibe for everyone who browses their site.

How to make the most of video backgrounds

The thing that seems to work best, when it comes to video backgrounds, is subtlety. Video backgrounds seem to be at their most effective when they are not blasting you with information or distraction, but are instead heightening the atmosphere and ambience of the browsing experience. Think peaceful woodland scenes, leaves blowing in the wind and lovers strolling hand in hand in the distance – this has a subtle, psychological effect, which can encourage casual browsers to spend more time on the site, and feel comfortable doing so.

As websites have become more sophisticated, web users have become more discerning and perhaps more influenced by the appearance of the site – nowadays, the difference between an attractive, modern site with video backgrounds, and more old fashioned, clunky, static site is enormous. As such, increasing the impact of your site in those crucial first few seconds that somebody clicks on your link has never been more important.

Video backgrounds are also a great way of increasing the effectiveness of your brand. Once upon a time, branding meant little more than sticking to company colours and placing a big company logo on the corner of the screen. Today, branding is all about identity and association with specific lifestyle choices. Bringing video backgrounds and well-chosen music onto your site is an easy and highly effective way of reaching out to your customers and letting them know what you’re really about.

Imagine you’re inviting a date over for dinner. You want to make a powerful first impression, and give your prospective partner a taste of what to expect for the future. Are you going to leave your home exactly as it normally is, or are you going to pull out a few stops, change the lighting, put on some mood music and wear your most expensive perfume? In a similar way, video backgrounds are seductive, they’re dynamic, they’re another tool to demonstrate that you care about your company’s image and you’re willing to go the extra mile to make the customer’s visit to your virtual home and a pleasant and memorable one.

No need to cast doubt

There is always going to be a certain amount of scepticism when it comes to things like video background. After all, the internet is full of fads and passing trends – things which catch on for a short while, then go the way of the virtual dinosaur. However, because of the way the internet’s usability, speed and general performance is going (up and up and up, it seems) we can expect video backgrounds and more dynamic visual appearances to become the norm, relatively quickly. Unlike other fads, video backgrounds seem to have a genuine positive effect, as long as they have a level of subtlety which does not interrupt or disturb the overall browsing experience, and as long as the video itself is well chosen to fit the brand as a whole. As such, this is a bandwagon it really could be time to jump onto.

Furthermore, you don’t need to be a film maker or creative artist to make video backgrounds work for you. Thankfully, stock video can be purchased and used in much the same way as stock photography. As such, there is a staggering wealth of video out there to browse through and choose from, so you needn’t sweat about creating or finding one with any difficulty.

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The Vital Importance of a Good Website

This was posted on June 27th, 2016

good-website

 

First impressions count for a lot in life. When you’re going for a job interview, you make an effort to look sharp, put on your best suit and comb your hair. We agonise over what perfume to apply when heading out for a first date, and we are taught to smile openly and make eye contact when meeting a client we haven’t met before. This all happens for simple, scientific reasons – our evolutionary biology has an ingrained ‘stay or go’ mentality, and this has led us to making snap decisions within seconds of meeting somebody. It may not be nice or fair to judge so many books by their covers… but we all do it, all the time.

The exact same principle can be, and should be, applied to websites. When a potential customer or client opens your website, they too are going to judge it initially by appearances. As the world gets faster, business becomes more competitive, and now that every company has a site of their own (which probably processes the vast majority of their custom), it has never been more important to have a snappy, good-looking, modern and impressive website.

We’ve all been there – we click on a google link to a site we feel will suit our needs, and we’re immediately faced with gaudy colours, inappropriate fonts, poor formatting or confusing banners and subheading that look as though they belong in the 1990s… and what do we do? We immediately click the ‘back’ button, and choose the next google listing that suits our requirements.

 

Common and deadly errors

  1. Keeping up with the Joneses

Probably the biggest error a company can make nowadays, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, is to have a website that seems to belong in the distant past. This is more common that you’d think, and usually comes about due to the owner of the website simply not giving enough thought to what consumers expect, or what impression their website makes on potential customers.

Perhaps the manager rarely visits their own website, and has other priorities. Perhaps they aren’t aware that their site – and therefore, their brand – is outdated and clunky. Perhaps they don’t care, or don’t feel they should care.

  1. Don’t underestimate the importance of your website

A website is just a tool, just one aspect of a business, isn’t it?

No, it isn’t. Nowadays, a website is your ‘front-of-house’ staff. It’s your virtual reception. It’s the place your potential clients will go to not only to get information about your services and products, but also the ‘feel’ of a company. An outdated website can make a company look out of touch and out of step with the modern business world. It could even look shifty and untrustworthy to those who need to feel safe, should they be making financial transactions through the site. In short, it could be disastrous.

  1. Keep your customers in the know

Other common (and easily fixable) mistakes also include having few or no updates on the website. Let’s say you have a blog, and when the site was launched, you diligently updated your information and the comings and goings of the company on a regular basis. Over time, you became more relaxed on this front, and the next thing you know, you haven’t posted anything for a year or two. A customer might see this, and (reasonably) presume you’ve gone out of business. Bang. Another paying client goes elsewhere.

  1. Take Pride

On top of this, a good website, carefully constructed with the customer in mind and which creates a positive image and brand, is a reflection of the care and pride the manager has in their company. If you were invited to someone’s house for dinner, and when you turned up you found that their home was dusty and old, things hadn’t been cleaned or spruced up for years, you’d come to two conclusions: Firstly, that the owner takes no pride in their home, and so cannot expect anyone else to, either, and secondly: I’ll stop at a takeaway on my way home, thanks very much.

Websites operate in much the same way. You want to exude pride and care through the image you set of your company. The easiest way to do that? Get somebody to help you bring your website bang up to date.

 

New World, New Expectations

The simple fact is that there is more competition than ever before. Companies providing services of all sorts are no longer relying on local customer bases, the old women down the road, or the regular customer who pops in for a chat on their way home from work. Today, companies based in rural England are as much in competition with similar business in London, as they are in Delhi or San Francisco. The internet has connected the world – a great thing for consumers, but a wake up call for the complacent and those slow to catch up. Constructing a decent, approachable and stylish website has never been easier, and there’s no longer any excuse to be left behind.

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