The Web

Today and for the foreseeable future, the web will play an increasingly important role in any successful business.
As a start-up or as an existing agency the question is: how to improve web presence without spending a fortune?

There are a few simple ways of having a good web presence.

You also need a simple direct measure of how well your efforts are succeeding: the number of visitors and where are they from?

 

How to create a good simple site

There are standard styles for websites. Looking similar to other larger agencies is not a negative or bad thing. After all many of them are similar to each other.

The principles of good design are reasonably well understood these days. A good design should not be expensive. A good design is usually simple and clean. Actually older bigger companies often fall foul of over developing their web site. They try to cover everything. They become cluttered. Their home page does not fit on your screen. It's a mass of text. Simple is best and has higher impact. Look at the front page of any newspaper: it's designed to sit an a news stand and sell its self.

The one of the problems is that no matter how good your site is, if it's only visited by 3 people a month, you have pretty much wasted your time and effort.

On the other hand, if a customer is considering using a company, and they visit a web site that is so poor, it turns them off: then all other efforts attracting them has been well and truely wasted.

 

Some simple rules:

A simple, good looking 3 or four page "static" site is a good starting place.

  • The home page should say what you offer in a few simple words and have your phone number and contact email address (as an image). Clicking on this image should go to a contact us page.

At the bottom of all pages, there should be company registration information. The contact information page should give all the information required about your company: Registered address, main address if different, phone and (not essential fax), email address for general contact.

  • The contact page may also give some history of your company, optionally Facebook and Twitter accounts etc.
  • There should be a page for your customers, detailing your services and also having contact information and a contact-us button.
  • There should be a page for potential employees detailing your services (from their point of view) and also having contact information and a contact-us button.
  • There should be a page with your terms and conditions.

There should be a maximum of two styles: the Home page (one style) and all the other pages. Other pages' style should be a simple variation on the home page style. Hosting this sort of site (static) is very inexpensive and there are only a couple of other things to consider.

A simple site is unlikely to generate web traffic (visits) without paid for advertising (read Google ads). 

A simple web site should be inexpensive in time and effort, it will not turn off potential customers or employees if it is clean and professional.

Some low cost providers either include advertising (from which you receive no revenue and have no control) or make a significant charge for moving your site away from them. Both of these are a no-no for you. Why? As time goes on: you will want to make your site "active", this means more expensive hosting and design, importantly this added investment is far more often than not repaid many times over as your business expands. Still, if your business is in any way successful, you will want to expand your site, either in an effort to get traffic to the site by increasing the number of pages or to provide "active pages" with secure customer service information, secure employee information and application forms. There should not be any charge from your current website provider when you move your site to a host which allows you to add active pages.

 

How to get your site:

You need what is known as a web address or URL: Ava's URL is www.ava.co.uk. You can freely search for unused addresses (and resister your choice) here: 

https://easily.co.uk/index.php (amongst others).

Web address have two parts, the name (in our case ava) and the extension or (top level) domain (in our case .co.uk). So what should you go for (dot) com?,  (dot) co (dot) uk or something else?

If you are thinking of a worldwide business then .com is a good idea. However, if your business is local to the uk, then (dot) co (dot) uk is by far the best. Why? Because search engines will automatically promote your site in the uk, with .co.uk whereas  (dot)com will not.

These are the two best known "top level" domains and if you can get a simple name (which is not already taken) then this by far your best choice. Once you have registered you web address (and paid the £10 or so) then it is yours as long as you keep up the small yearly payments. Its not difficult to do, but even so you may want some one to spend some time and help you through the process. It's not unreasonable for there to be a charge for an hour or two of time if they have helped to choose your domain name and corried out the registration process for you.

 

What should I choose for a name?

If there is a big agency with a similar name, it will probably do you harm in some eyes, especially if your site looks like theirs. If you are (for example) a nursing agency then "you company name"nursing.co.uk is a good choice as search engines will pick up on "nursing" in your web site name. For example if your company name is "Alexander Bilbo Clarke" Then if "ABCNursing.co.uk" is free (which it was at the time of writing this!) then that is both simple to remember and would be a very good choice.

 

Content - Hints

Our opinion is a simple and clean design is best.

There are areas of your web page which will naturally attract someone who is browsing your site. This is where you primary message or "come on/call to action/click here" should be. There are many articles on the web about this. If you are particularly IT geekish then you can even download software which will take the video of someone looking at your web pages and tell you where their gaze or eyes are resting. It will also tell you how their gaze travels around your page.

Or simply take a dozen web pages, and ask you friends which one they like most and then use the top two similar ones as a basis for your own style. Provided you don't mechanically copy (cut and paste) the code or artwork, but do something which is inspired from a memory of those layouts or styles, then you are not infringing copyright. So combine two similar styles to create a new one: your own.

Before you put any text on your site, paste it into Word, spell and grammar check it.

 

Content - How to choose colours

 You should use related colours. Colours can be related in serveral ways. These can be chosen using a device called a colour picker (aka color picker) or colour wheel. These are freely available on several web sites. Similar or complimentry tones and saturations give a more professional feel. If they can be seen any pictures you use, then this helps as well.  These sites provide options for choosing "triplets" or more of related colours. As a rule choose somone female to make the final judgement. Unfortunately colour sensitivity and blindness is linked (strongly) to the male chromasome.

Adobe kuler: a play on the words colour and ruler spend at least 5 minutes playing here

Colour scheme designer: not quite as intuitive (to us) as the adobe site but you may like it more

Color rotate: another variation on the theme

MDCube: the harmony option provides a simple way of choosing related colours

Colour Hexa: useful if you are a techie

 

Content - How to find images

 It is generally accepted that pictures will make your site friendlier. There are various ways of choosing pictures.

  •  You can go to your local photographer and get them to take custom pictures,
  •  If you have a good camera, know about lighting and have a photographic talent you can take pictures yourself.
  •  You can go to a graphic designer and get them to draw or produce pictures for you.
  • There are a number of sites on the web that have what is known as royalty free pictures. You can use these on your website for a simple one off payment. The advantage of this is that the one off payment is a fraction of the cost of going to a photographer or graphic designer to get exclusive pictures. The disadvantage is that anyone else can use them. But if you get three or four and mould them together you can get something which is clearly yours and if the odd person spots that the picture is somewhere else on the web, so be it.

Here are some links to sites with "industrial pictures" relevant to you companies website content. Allways go to the licencing web page or the image or provider and if necessary email them to clarify your use.

Free (Creative Common Licence) Stock Photos, Images and Textures from Kave wall

A selection of photographs with the business world in mind (free and royalty free).

Free and purchased images

Google Royalty free stock photos

 

How do people see your site?

They open their web browser, type in the URL and look at the screen... but when they look at your web page, where are their eyes attracted? What bits of the page get their real attention before they are inevitably distracted by something else? Related links on other sites:

Controlling users' Eye Movement in a Website - How & Why

DIY finding how people gaze at your web pages

More DIY finding which areas of your web page have greates impact.

Controlling users eye movement in a website

Effective design principles for web design: alignment

 

General (free) advice on helping people find your web site: known as SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO for short) is the way to maximise the number of people who visit your web site when they type in words to Google (or other search engines) which are relevant to (appear within) your site.

 

 

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