Many Hands Make Light Work: Accepting a Little External Input When Crafting Your Website

As a small business owner, it can be extremely easy to become territorial over all aspects of your company. After all, that’s one of the reasons you became self-employed in the first place, right? You want freedom to pursue what you want, craft your own ideas, and develop your own brand. However, every now and then it’s a good idea to let others lend a helping hand. As the old saying goes, many hands make light work.

This rings true in particular when it comes to setting up a webpage. A well crafted website can help you to launch your business into the ever-expanding world of E-commerce, exposing you to customers on a potentially worldwide level, opening your store up to access at all times of the day and night, and giving you space on the smartphones that so many of us tend to have our heads buried in most of the time.

So you want it to be the best that it can possibly be. Here are a few areas that others can help you out with to give you the most admirable results.

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Web Design

If you want to succeed in ecommerce, you’re going to need an eye-catching website. This is your base. The place that customers will come into contact with your brand, its aesthetic, and the products and services that you have available. Make their experience memorable.

Rather than using the same old same old web page layout, collaborate with a web designer who will be able to create a site that is easy to navigate, has easily accessible links to important brand information such as returns, sizing, shipping, and terms and conditions; and options such as mailing list signup and contact forms.

Graphic Design

Sure, you can use stock images. They’re free, simple to source, and will do the job. But since when did you ever settle for average? Whether you’re looking at something major like a new logo, or more small-scale like an illustration for a blog post, a reliable graphic designer will be able to hook you up with whatever it is that you may need.

Not only will they be able to put your ideas directly onto paper (or screen), but they will also be able to offer sage advice regarding what works and what doesn’t. They’ll have seen many businesses come and go in their time and can give you a little insight as to what styles will best suit your brand aesthetic and what types of images to avoid.

Content

You want your content to stand out. So many sales sites have such similar product descriptions, blog posts, and images. Try to do something a little different. Employing the help of a photographer and copywriter will ensure that your web page content pops! Not only will it be more memorable (encouraging customers to revisit pages), but it will also encourage sales.

Remember that you can’t do absolutely everything! That’s where self-employed freelancers can come in to help out with one-off jobs. Make the most of their creativity and expertise where you can!

Here’s What You Do and Don’t Need to Know about Computers During a Startup

If you’re starting a business, you’ll already know about the multitude of things you need to consider. Once upon a time, you probably thought the product was the main thing to get right, but that’s far from the truth. There’s advertising, logo and identity design, brand development, and just about everything else. And with a lot of business now conducted online, you’ll need a computer degree to top it off. Or, will you? The world of online marketing can seem daunting to the uninitiated, but you may not need to know as much as you think.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of things you do and don’t need to know about computers when starting out.

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YOU DO

Need to know how create a good website. Getting your enterprise off the ground will be impossible without an online presence. To get a grip on this, you’ll need to master what people want from your website. You’ll need to find a way to inform customers about your product in the most succinct way possible. You’ll also need to explain why they should choose you instead of the many other products online!

Need to acknowledge the importance of social media. Just a few years ago, social media and business didn’t mix. But, the truth couldn’t be more different now. Having a strong social media presence is the best way to build a loyal customer base. This is where you’ll conduct the majority of your client interaction. It’s also where you’ll show the personality behind the brand. And personality is what could set your product apart! The good news is, this isn’t as difficult as you might think. If you already use social media personally, you’ll know what to do to make this work.

YOU DON’T

Need to master web design. This may seem contradictory to the first point but bear with us. As stated, you need to produce good content for your website. But, you don’t need to know the ins and outs of coding and design to display that content. Instead, search for one of many web templates out there. These will take care of all that complex stuff for you.

Need to be a computer whizz. With so much of your business now online, you might feel the need to know the ins and outs of your computer. After all, you need to fix it as soon as possible if anything happens. It’s the only way to avoid losing business. But, fear not. Companies like Windward Technology work with businesses like yours to fix any technological breakdowns. They offer fast response times and can have you back online in no time. There is some cost involved, but it’s worthwhile. Better that than taking things into your own hands!

Need to master SEO. We speak a lot about search engine optimization, and it can seem like a foreign language to a beginner. If SEO haunts your nightmares, turn to one of the many companies which offer to take care of it for you!

Why Your Site Can’t Keep Hold of Its Visitors

Whether it’s for a business or personal branding, a website can be one of the professional’s most valuable tools. But only if it’s being used right. You want people coming to the site, whether it’s to buy something, get information, or even to explore and learn. But the analytics is clear. Your site isn’t retaining anyone for more than a click or two. Why is that and what can you do about it?

Why Your Site Can’t Keep Hold Of Its Visitors

Whether it’s for a business or personal branding, a website can be one of the professional’s most valuable tools. But only if it’s being used right. You want people coming to the site, whether it’s to buy something, get information, or even to explore and learn. But the analytics is clear. Your site isn’t retaining anyone for more than a click or two. Why is that and what can you do about it?

It’s not clear what the site is actually about

This is one of the biggest problems for personal branding sites in particular. People don’t just want to hear about who are you. They want to see what you do and for you to present them with the purpose of the site. The front page should be only about making it clear why they want to stick around. If you have linked them through an ad or a link about a specific part of the site, then make sure you have a landing page for that purpose, too.

The path of the user isn’t your first concern

Websites have the habit of becoming vanity projects. Your website shouldn’t be about “look at me and my business”. You have to think about what use the visitor has for it and how its layout and their trip through the site could make them happier.

You’re designing for the old internet

That’s if your visitor can even access the site, to begin with. Yes, once upon a time the personal computer might have the only way to visit a website. But failing to use responsive web design services to make your site fit to mobile devices is now a fatal mistake for online businesses. How many potential customers or subscribers could you be turning away because they followed your link to a site that doesn’t work on their device?

Your site is too slow

Even if the site works, does it work well? You have to consider the speed of the site. What web hosting options are available to you and what can they reliably handle? You can do well with a low-end web host, just by making sure you’re not overloading the site with images and videos that make it all the harder to load. Either scale your intentions for the site to the host’s capabilities or go for a host that can handle more.

Crown your content

Besides how the site works and how the user explores it, you have to consider the “meat” of it. That is content. People come on the site to read and to see content when they’re not buying something. Refreshing that content means that repeat visitors always have a reason to keep coming back. Meanwhile, typos and other errors make the site look like an amateur effort. There are a lot of content improving tools that can make sure those errors never get to the site even when they escape your notice.

Retaining visitors means putting the visitor on the focus first and foremost. They have to be able to use the site without frustration, to understand it, and to have access to great content. If you don’t have those, then it’s clear that your site will never be able to keep visitors interested.

Get Your Site Ready for Success for Just under $100

If you’re looking to get into the business of being your own boss and running your own company, you need to make sure that you’re making the best and greatest use of all the tools at your disposal.

The best tool around? It’s the internet, and you’re going to use a website to squeeze all that you can from the World Wide Web, like lemons in a cold glass off homemade lemonade!

In fact, you’re going to need to use the internet well, or your business, or entrepreneurial vision, will fall apart quickly. [I’m being dramatic!] There isn’t much of a ‘try’ here; you must make it happen.

You need a website, and you need an amazing one, there isn’t any middle ground here. That I know a lot about.

If you think highly of your business, your idea and your vision, you need to make sure that your website does all of it justice and doesn’t let the “team” down, at all. A failing website will bring down your dreams and ideas.

A good website? It will help make everything happen for you and your business. Your site needs to be ready for success, otherwise, success won’t appear at all! A bad, slow and poorly designed website will only hold your business back. [Lived it!]

But how do you make a website ready for success? “It’s not rocket science”, they’ll say and admittedly, it used to be a lot harder than it is now. With platforms like WordPress, GoDaddy, Mojo Marketplace, and others that are template-driven (themes), a website can look professional for FREE or under $100 USD if you’re feeling like a “Big Spender”.

With web hosting, your site can have all the space it needs in the digital world, as well as being as speedy and optimised as desired and designed. Other recommendations include GoDaddy, HostGator, and SiteBuilder and packages average around $2.99 USD a month. The internet, where websites live, has all the tools and information that you need to make a website functional.

If not, it certainly holds the contact information for the people and agencies who can improve your website. It’s an easy path.

If you want to chug along with a poorly designed website, you certainly can, but as I said [up to] — it will only hold you back from your true web potential. You can almost feel the physical dragging weight of an ugly and poorly optimized site and if you have difficulties using it, well imagine how it is for your existing and prospective customers.

What’s more, if you’re selling via your site, do you expect to be making as many sales as possible with a bad website? Of course not. A good website is a worthy investment and might just pay for itself.

A good website helps your visitors get from point A to point B and transforms traffic into potentially paying customers.

As for a bad website — there’s a solid change it’ll will bore visitors and possibly give them no reason to return. You have all of three to six seconds to capture your visitor’s attention! Make it count!

It pays dividend to have a great website that matches your business. It makes far more sense to avoid running a poor website that’s only going to hold back your business.

At the end of the day, you need to ask yourself one thing – is your website ready for success of any kind? If not, you might find that you’re not ready for success either.

Is Your Business Mobile Enough for the Modern World?

The amount of technological change that has occurred over the last ten to fifteen years is incredible. Perhaps the change that has had the greatest impact, but is often taken for granted, is the adoption of smartphones. Millions of us now carry a powerful computer around in our pockets, enabling us to shop, communicate, fight off boredom and much more at the touch of a button.

However, this added mobility is not just a consumer phenomenon. Businesses must also take note that the modern world is now a mobile one and adjust their practices accordingly. If you’re unsure of the best ways to embrace mobile technology, then here are a few suggestions.

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Image Credit: Pexels
Employee mobility

In the modern business world, it is quite likely that your staff will need to spend a lot of time away from their desks. They may need to travel to a client meeting, work from home, or go on an external training course. However, just because they are away from the office, this doesn’t mean you can afford for productivity levels to drop. Smartphones can be used to keep your employees contactable, via phone or email, and let them access bespoke business tools remotely. You may want to start your own Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy to ensure mobile security issues are kept to a minimum.

However, making sure your business is more mobile doesn’t only relate to smartphones. Are you using cloud-based software that lets your employees access work tools from any device they choose? Employee mobility not only keeps productivity levels up, it also suits modern employees, many of whom prefer a more flexible approach to working hours.

Web design

As a consumer, how often do you look something up on your smartphone compared to a laptop or desktop PC? Chances are that, in many cases, your first interaction with a business or brand comes via your smartphone, which is why mobile web design is so important.

Most website visitors spend less than a minute on any given site, so you need to make sure your mobile site makes a good impression fast. If you don’t have the in-house skills to create an effective design, however, then an external agency might be just what you need. The Story Web Design and Marketing, for example, can provide responsive design that adapts to whatever device it’s being viewed on – desktop, tablet or mobile.

Apps

The app economy is huge and made up of useful tools for consumers and businesses alike. For the latter, launching your own mobile app could be what’s needed to help your organisation stand out from the crowd.

Retail firms can use apps to provide user-friendly online ordering, small businesses can use them to offer card payments via smartphones, and offices can embrace them to provide a quick way for their staff to collaborate on projects. Whatever industry your business is based in, there’s likely to be an app that can help in some way.

In the modern world, making sure that your business is mobile friendly is absolutely essential for success, whether you’re a sole trader or a multinational corporation.

Your Website Is Your Greatest Asset! Stop Neglecting It!

There are a lot of things that are crucial to running a business, and anyone who takes that task on has to have something pretty special about them! You need to be a strong leader, have fantastic social skills and a decent brain for numbers and organization. But there’s one thing that many business owners seem to have in common that can cause them pretty big problems: they don’t know how to use their website properly. Now, it’s likely that you have a website, no business can survive without one. But how much time and effort have you put into really making it the center of your online operations? Here are a few ways that you might be neglecting your website.

Design

Of course, your website should be functional; that’s obvious. If it doesn’t work, then it might as well not be there. But many business owners ignore how important the design of the website it. People make up their minds about your website based on their pretty immediate first impression. If that first impression is an ugly, cheap looking site, then it’s going to have a knock-on effect on your business. This is especially true for certain industries. Hotel web design, for example, can make your break your business. If a customer sees the website for a hotel that looks drab and uninspired, that feeling is going to be transferred to the hotel itself. Make sure that the design of your site reflects the impression that you want your company to give.

Content

Don’t just think of your website as a place to advertise and give basic information. Make sure that it includes engaging and interesting content. People like stories, it helps them to engage with your business on a personal level. If you can use your website to build on the narrative of your business, then you’ll find that customers are much more likely to stick around. You should have a section on your site about the history of the company, as well as a blog detailing recent goings on.

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Image Credit: Pexels
Maintenance

It doesn’t matter if your website it beautifully designed with the most wonderful content if it’s simply not working. You can’t simply put a website online and expect it to take care of itself. Make sure that you’re consistently maintaining and updating the site to ensure that it is as functional and usable as possible so matter what. It might even be worth having a dedicated web team to handle that if your business gets a great deal of its traffic online. If not, and you’re handling things yourself, make sure that you set aside regular time to check up on your site.

Just because the internet is a more recent development in the world of marketing, doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore it. In just the last decade it’s massively transformed the business landscape. If you can’t move with it and adapt, then there’s a chance that you’ll get left behind.

5 Big Problems With Your Creative Business Website

I spend a reasonable amount of time looking at creative business websites for all manner of reasons. For example, I do a lot of competitor research. I also get a lot of inspiration from other graphic designers – from every sector of the creative design industry.

It’s fair to say that I also see a lot of the same old problems cropping up. It’s clear that many creative people are unable of getting the business side of things right. And, it’s often incredibly apparent when looking at their websites. With this in mind, I thought I would go through some of the biggest issues I see on design business websites – and how to fix them.

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Image Credit: Pexels
A website that looks like a CV

OK, let’s start with the biggest crime of all. Far too many creative businesses forget who they are selling to – customers. Sure, their websites look awesome, but the idea of a business is not to impress your peers, it’s to delight your customers. You aren’t making a CV, or trying to get a job at your local design firm. You need clients – and your focus should be on appealing to them. Flash, fancy graphics are okay – but only if they work regarding context. If your website is a technological marvel, but customers find it hard to use, they won’t buy from you – it’s as simple as that. Usability is key – design is just a lick of paint.

No nuts and bolts

You might design pretty pictures, lovely clothes, or first-class graphics. But what impact does it have on your customers? That’s what people want to know – the nuts and bolts of your successes. Let’s say you are a graphic designer – how have you helped your clients make money? Can you share some definitive results, rather than just lots of nice-looking images? Reveal the positive outcomes for your past clients, and you should see your sales rise rapidly.

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Image Credit: Pexels
Targeting the wrong market

Let’s say you are a clothing designer. You might have ideas of wowing the crowds at London Fashion Week and joining your luminaries as one of the world’s best. But the chances are that you will have a much more thriving business seeking out a particular market. For example, let’s say you can create hard-wearing and high-quality clothing. A little investment in work wear ERP software will give you entry to the B2B market. Sure, it’s not as thrilling or as high-end as you might like. But the simple fact is that you will have a more robust foundation for the future of your business.

Failure to sell

Creative people have a tendency to forget what’s important – making sales. Time and again, I see websites that are hard to navigate and almost impossible to buy something. It is critical that your online store has a simple user experience that allows people to buy what they want, and quickly.

Lack of portfolio

It can be tough to create a strong design portfolio when you are just starting out. But as a designer, you won’t get customers without one. The answer is simple, however. You should consider working on your design concepts – perhaps for an already-successful business. Share it with your friends and contacts, and who knows who might see it?

Hope this has helped – let me know your thoughts!