Where to start?
It's confusing... There are any number of free DIY website templates available which seem, at first glance, to offer a quick and easy website solution for all.
Blogs have become increasingly easier to manage and can be a useful tool to promote you or your business online. And then there's the growing world of Facebook and tweeting via social networking. Where do you start... and when do you stop?
If you are a creative digital designer, an expert at html coding, and as slick as a Google robot when it comes to search engine optimisation, and have a lot of time on your hands, then the answer could possibly be no - you can do it yourself.
But, ask yourself this question... If you were opening a retail shop or a suite of offices would you want to build the premises yourself? Would you wire the electrics, glaze the windows, fit the carpet? Well, you could if you had all the skills, but when would you have time to run your business?
If you're serious about your internet presence and you want your website to bring you new business and be found quickly and easily on the internet, then you would be well advised to use the services of an experienced expert. Remember that old adage 'you get what you pay for' and it very much applies in this fast changing industry.
Businesses rarely succeed if they don't adapt to change, and the world of business is changing with increasing speed.
If your business is a start up venture or you are expanding into new areas, then your website can promote you in a way that no other medium can. The internet is available 24 hours a day, every day and most people, especially your customers, will be looking for your services online - just as they used to use business directories. Remember what happened to The Yellow Pages... gone.
A well optimised, stylishly designed website could be the first contact your new customers will have with your business, and will set the tone of who you are and how you conduct your business. First impressions count and your website is that first impression. Your website needs to found quickly, be easy to access, simple to navigate and, very importantly, demonstrate the quality and standards of what and who you are.
Do you want to reach new and existing customers locally, nationally or globally? Do you want to develop your market reach? Do you want to diversify your product range and services?
A well designed website is a powerful, flexible advertising tool. A good, pro-active website designer will use a variety of search engine optimisation techniques to ensure your website reaches new customers wherever you wish to find them.
Everyone seems to have heard about key words and key phrases, but what are they and how should you use them?
It is easy to fall into the trap of focusing too much on key words and phrases and making them the fit into your text, sometimes at the expense of well written copy. Think about your main areas of business and make a list of all the important keywords that genuinely match your products and services. You can then craft well written copy, incorporating your important keywords and make it a pleasure to read. If you approach your website content in an authentic and intelligent manner you will end up with the right copy.
Elizabeth can help you with this and may suggest editing your copy to enhance the SEO of your website.
If you already have a logo, a colour theme and a strap line that clearly identifies your company or business brand then the website design can enhance and reinforce your business identity.
If you don't have a brand identity then Elizabeth can assist you. In some cases Elizabeth will create a logo for you but she may prefer to refer you to a graphic designer.
Original digital drawings and illustrations can also bring an individual, unique style to a website. Refer to links.
Good photographs are, without doubt, the essential element of a good website design. Even if you are handy with a digital camera you should really consider using a professional photographer to take studio shots of your products, staff, or location.
Some people know exactly what they want to say on their websites and even prepare page titles and text content well in advance. But this is fairly rare and you would not be alone if you are struggling to decide what to write.
Here are some guidelines to help you make a start:
The About Us page often causes internal anxiety because many people simply don't like writing about themselves (it's a British thing). A good way to conquer your modesty is to write in the third person. This provides the opportunity to stand back from yourself and your staff and describe yourself and your business as if you were an outsider e.g. a customer. That'll help focus your mind.
The Contact page is an easy one. Simply jot down all your contact numbers and email addresses. If you think you need an online enquiry form first think about your customer - how much information will they be willing to disclose at the first point of contact? Keep it brief and to the point. Only ask for the information you need to start a conversation that will help them and you do business together.
|Repeat email address (in case of typos)||email@example.com|
|Preferred method of contact||Phone
|Your enquiry||Customers can fill in their request if they wish|
This is just a simple outline of an enquiry form. Customers can use it if they want to make a tentative enquiry and filling it in won't take up too much of their time. To see a working example of an online enquiry form click here.
This is where a professional website designer can really help you. Together you can work out how many pages you need and what topics need to be covered. Ecommerce websites will require more pages than you realise but Elizabeth will guide you through the process.
The main criteria is to keep it as easy as possible to convey the information you need in a way that is easy to navigate. The rule of thumb is to ensure the users of your website don't get lost, confused or frustrated. They'll simply go elsewhere if this happens.
Make a list (and buy a notebook for your website ideas)
Finally, think about your own internet browsing habits. What are your experiences? Ask yourself what annoys you about a website that you don't like or use and what is it that pleases you about your favourite website. Make a list of websites you like and websites you don't like, even if they are not in the same business as yours. Show the list to your website designer and work through it to identify the good and the bad elements of each one. This is time well spent.
Now, click the arrow below to take you back to the top of the page. (Thank you for sticking with it!)
"We are glad to say that having Elizabeth Walsh design our website was an excellent choice. From start to finish we found her very professional and thorough. She listened to our ideas and thoughts and produced a very artistic draft of the website from which we and Elizabeth were able to quickly develop and agree on. One of the key areas we wished for was to quickly become a top website found when using any of the search engines. This was achieved without any issue."
Lynda and Paul McCarthy
"I would just like to thank you for helping me to understand just how a website works. I arrived with you a novice and left rather more enlightened! I would happily recommend your web design services to anyone and regularly do! I must also say that your passion for your work really shows through, to the point that after producing our website for Monnow Marquees, I am sure you would have been able to go out to site and sell one yourself!
"A huge thank you for my fantastic website. It's lovelier than I'd imagined it possibly could be, and has already had fellow journalists and editors singing its praises.
Thanks too for your extraordinary patience, excellent guidance, occasional (and pretty much always justified) determination to get me to alter things on design or SEO grounds, and for your creative ideas that have made it so visually stunning."
‘The best phone call I ever made was to book an appointment with Elizabeth Walsh to discuss a website design for The Walking Holiday Company. From our very first meeting she impressed me with her passion and commitment in creating our website and it is so rewarding to see your ideas turn into reality, and then surpass your expectations.
Elizabeth will guide you expertly through the processes involved. Our clients and associates have expressed an ease of navigation around our site, and we have achieved many top quality links on the strength of the web site design and content.
Elizabeth took the time to study our services, and our ratings on Google have been very impressive. I never knew search engine optimisation could be so interesting! I can totally recommend her website design services."
"Many thanks for all your help in completely restructuring our website. We are absolutely delighted with the new design and layout and now love telling everyone to have a look!
Many of our customers have commented on how impressive they think our new website looks."
Sarah and Sheila Hitchon