Web Design – Don’t Overlook Your Website! Part Two – Copy

This was posted on December 30th, 2011

In this second of three posts regarding maintaining your main website, we look at copy. Your website copy is one of the most important elements of your site and arguably the most powerful because it’s what tells visitors what they want to know.

Like any other part of your site the copy must be kept in good order and benefits from being regularly refreshed or occasionally rewritten. However, there are some basic checks you can carry out to ensure that at least your current copy is up to scratch.

Read through the copy to identify errors such as spelling mistakes or poor grammar – invite someone else to do the same – they might spot something you’ve missed.

Check the facts! Is your copy imparting up to date information to visitors? If your business has changed or diversified your copy needs to reflect that.

Is your copy consistent? Check that it doesn’t contain different spellings or variations of the same word – for example, ‘website’ and ‘web site’.

Does your site contain more copy than it needs? If your copy is padded out but not saying actually anything, consider removing anything that’s not relevant.

If you don’t do so already, break up blocks of copy with the use of headings and bullet points – this makes it much easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for.

Good copy is as vital to the success of a website as the web design itself and the two can’t be divorced from each other without affecting that success. If you can afford to hire a copywriter for your written content it would be money well spent, but if not, then the tips and points I’ve listed should at least help to improve what’s already there.

In the third and final part of ‘Don’t Overlook Your Website!’, the subject will centre on refreshing the look of your website.

Until next time.

 

 

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Web Design – Don’t Overlook Your Website! Part One – SEO

This was posted on December 30th, 2011

With the insatiable appetite for smartphones and the need for businesses to have a mobile-optimised website, it would be easy to forget that in the clamour to capture mobile visitors your main website still needs to be properly maintained.

It’s true that more and more visitors are using mobile devices for online activities like shopping, email and social networking but regardless of how high or quickly those numbers grow it doesn’t mean that your main website will become redundant.

It’s a fairly safe assumption that PCs won’t be consigned to the scrapheap anytime soon just because smartphone usage appears to be going through the roof and beyond, so whilst a mobile-optimised website is now a must, a standard (for want of a better word) website still holds the same importance as it ever did.

Checking that every element of your website is working correctly is time well spent and is something your web design company will be happy to assist you with. In this the first of three posts, I’m going to touch on a few things you can do to keep your website healthy, starting with a few simple tips for SEO.

Test your website’s internal and external links to ensure they are working correctly.

Look at the sites you’ve linked to – are they similar businesses to yours or totally unconnected?

Check through your website copy – are your main keywords and search phrases present and in the right density?

Consider adding a site map to your website – great for easier navigation and helpful when search engines are indexing your site.

What I’ve mentioned are very basic points and only a tiny part of the SEO process but they are also things that website owners can check for themselves and not a bad thing for them to experience their own websites from a visitor’s point of view.

In the second part of this three-part post on looking after your website, I’ll be covering the subject of copy.

Until next time.

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Web Design – Email Address Links

This was posted on December 30th, 2011

A couple of days ago I happened across a website that left me quite amazed. It wasn’t because it had an outstanding design or stunning graphics. It wasn’t interactive and nor did it have any fancy Flash animation. What amazed me was the fact that the only way of contacting the owner was through a mobile phone number.

The majority of website visitors don’t even think about phoning a company when they decide to contact them, at least not on their first visit. They often prefer the relative anonymity of email to begin with so they can assess the professionalism and competence of a business based on their email conversations.

Now technically there is nothing to say that it’s wrong to offer only a phone contact option because even in this email age some businesses might prefer to be contacted in this way and that’s their prerogative. However, looking through the website it was obvious that this business invited contact through email as well, though how they thought that would happen is a mystery to me.

Yes, there were ‘click here’ invitations to contact them on every page and all were underlined so they stood out but that’s all they were: underlined words, not clickable links and nowhere on the site is there a visible email address clickable or otherwise.

The website in question is homemade and not the work of a web design expert and so understandably not without its rough edges but of all the errors it could contain, having no way of contacting them by email could be amongst the worst.

Since looking at this site I have come across others where email links are present but inoperative and there are more out there than you’d imagine. Broken email links will not only be an annoyance for visitors, they also do nothing to enhance a company’s online image. In fact that goes for any broken website links not just email.

Website owners should be making periodic checks on their website links especially their email because although some visitors will take the time to type in an email address, many others are likely not to bother and instead just leave the website in favour of another one.

Until next time.

 

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Web Design – Mobile is Pocket Power for Consumers

This was posted on December 23rd, 2011

Before writing this, the last post before Christmas, I went to my local supermarket to get some last minute bits and pieces, and you’d expect, the place was extremely busy despite the early hour but I quickly got what I needed anyway and headed for the checkout.

I didn’t actually reach the checkout for another twenty minutes or so because of a shopper’s comment to her husband/boyfriend or whoever caused me to stop and eavesdrop on their conversation which to me got more interesting by the minute.

The shopper in question was looking at her Blackberry and had commented to her companion that a particular item (I don’t know what it was) was being sold cheaper by a rival chain. It was hearing this that caused me to stop and listen because although they were already in the store she was still searching product prices via her smartphone.

Her partner suggested she try yet another website to check the price only for her to reply that she’d already looked at that one but…‘The website was too big for the screen…I couldn’t find it (I assume she meant the product itself) and I couldn’t be arsed with all the messing about’. Obviously, the website she’d looked at wasn’t optimised for mobile and consequently had missed out on a potential sale.

Web design blogs including this one have long been preaching the need for businesses to have a mobile-friendly website, and I saw firsthand what happens when they don’t. Smartphones numbers are growing daily and the conversation I witnessed this morning is likely being repeated by countless other smartphone owners all over the country. Optimising for mobile is no longer a matter of choice but an absolute must.

As a secondary observation, what really surprised me was when I heard her say they would drive to this other store where the item was cheaper and buy it there because up to then it appeared to be just a price comparison exercise but actually went much further to the point that despite the busiest time of year for shoppers and traffic they were prepared to travel somewhere else for a better deal.

What I’m saying is that once consumers are on your premises with everything they need under one roof, it’s no guarantee they will take advantage of that convenience if they can find something cheaper elsewhere. In other words, it’s not a done deal because smartphones have given money-conscious shoppers the power and ability to browse other outlets even whilst they are shopping in yours.

That’s about it for now except to thank all our readers for being with us this year and to wish each and every one of you a very merry and happy Christmas from everyone at the in.house.media web design blog.

Until next time.

 

 

 

 

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Web Design – What’s in Store for 2012?

This was posted on December 18th, 2011

This is traditionally the time of year when blogs and articles start to fill up with various web design predictions and expected trends and today’s post is no different.

This week’s search of the web found my interest piqued by a few predictions, one of which stated that an apparently old design trend will be making a return: the use of circles. In short, where a site has a photo or image, it could simply be made circular. Coloured borders and blocks of colour could also have circle designs incorporated into them and the few template examples I saw leads me to think that it could work very well. 

Parallax scrolling is another design trend that looks promising and there are some excellent examples to be found on the web. Parallax scrolling gives the illusion of 3D as website images move around the webpage at varying speeds. It’s an interesting look but as with anything artistic, it will suit some and not others.

Single page websites with sliders is another area I posted on and at first glance, there are no obvious visual differences between a slider website and a standard brochure-type site. Both contain pretty much the same thing; graphics and copy but with a slider site, a click on a menu option will see the content slide into view from one side into the centre of the page whilst everything else on the main page remains as it is. I think these will catch on but again, it will be website visitors that give it the thumbs up – or down!

Finally, we come to mobile. There’s not much I can add to this because as predictions go, this was bang on the money but I suspect not even the most far-sighted thought it would become what it has. I’m only going to attempt one prediction for 2012 but only because I think it’s a fairly safe one – mobile will grow even bigger. I don’t think many will argue with that.

Until next time.

  

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Web Design – Mobile and Social Media

This was posted on December 11th, 2011

The internet has changed many aspects of our daily lives in one way or another; communication, information and web design of course, but businesses have perhaps undergone more significant changes such as the introduction of ecommerce for example. And for businesses, things are changing again because it seems there is no getting away from the fact that a mobile-optimised website and a social media presence are becoming absolute musts.

Only a comparatively short time ago, just having an online presence was considered as cutting edge, but the advent of social media and rapid increase in the use of smartphones has changed all that forever. 

Although there are still consumers whose online purchases are conducted on desktop PCs, they are quickly being outnumbered by mobile users as more and more people turn to smartphones and tablets and if this is only reason for businesses to have a mobile optimised website it is reason enough.

Social media sites have also had a huge impact with countless businesses now making more use of their sharing potential. Facebook and Twitter are awash with marketing and advertising messages that reach significantly more users than any business website could generally hope to achieve.

I’ve heard some bemoan the fact that the internet has changed too quickly and how sad it is that a website alone is no longer considered enough to attract online customers, but the hard truth is that it’s consumers themselves who are responsible for driving those changes and businesses must adapt to customer demands if they are to remain competitive?

Obviously, there are no rules that say you must use social media or have a mobile optimised website and there are perhaps many successful online enterprises working perfectly well without either. However, as trends go, social media doesn’t look like slowing down just yet, and smartphone users are certainly not in short supply.

For the time being it’s still all a matter of choice but I suspect that as mobile and social media are now all part of the marketing mix and firmly linked, both are areas where businesses should be looking now rather than later to find potential customers and opportunities before they are left trailing behind the rest.  

Until next time.

 

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Add Fresh Content to Your Website the Easy Way!

This was posted on November 27th, 2011

Take a look at any blog or article about website content and you’ll notice that they will invariably mention the importance of regularly updating or adding fresh content to your site for search engines to index and push the site further up the listings.

This is sound advice and certainly worth doing if you want to maintain a decent position in search engine rankings, but as a business website owner however, time is often at a premium and after a long, hard day’s work, sitting down to compose new content is probably the last thing you’ll want to do.

One way of getting around this problem is by adding an RSS feed to your website. RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’ and is a system that automatically feeds selected content (you decide what you want) from around the internet to your website, blog or social media pages.

You will no doubt have visited lots of sites (including this one) containing an RSS icon of one sort or another but may have given them little or no attention or even knew what they were but they are nonetheless just about everywhere.

In addition to keeping search engines happy, the syndicated content could also lead to more website visitors and blog readers and the good thing is that the content delivered will always be current and up to date; it’s rather like having a newspaper containing only the news that interests you.

For those with no time to search out the content they want, RSS makes perfect sense and certainly worth considering both for attracting more visitors and readers and keeping your website firmly in the sights of the search engines. They are fairly easy to get started with but if you’re not quite sure how to go about it then have a word with your web design company who will no doubt be able to help.

Until next time.

   

 

 

 

 

 

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Web Design – Single Page Websites with Sliders

This was posted on November 20th, 2011

In a recent post, I briefly looked at websites with parallax scrolling effects which the Web Design Ledger website describes as ‘…the technique that features layered images that move around the website in different speeds/perspectives creating a nice and interesting 3D illusion”.

Some websites to be found with parallax scrolling effects are extremely eye-catching and definitely worth a look, and staying with interesting web design concepts, today’s post features another technique that also seems to add something a little different to the general mix: that of single page websites with sliders.

At first glance, there are no obvious visual differences between a slider website and a standard brochure-type site. Both contain pretty much the same thing; graphics and copy, but with a slider site a click on a menu option will see the content slide into view from one side into the centre of the page whilst everything else on the main page remains as it is.

This is actually quite a pleasing effect but I suspect that this type of site would better suit those businesses that either don’t want or have no need for their sites to contain a huge amount of content. After all, there’s little point in having a slider page if you then had to scroll down to read it all (assuming it’s possible to do this in practice of course).

Single page websites with sliders are beginning to grow in popularity and a search of the web will bring up quite a few examples, and if you haven’t seen one yet then take a look at this example here to see what it’s all about.

Until next time.

  

 

 

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