Posts Tagged ‘design’

Top Five Things Every Small Business Website Needs

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Top Five Things Every Small Business Website NeedsCreating a small business website is a daunting task for anyone who has very little or no online experience. Even the smallest bit of research will unleash a whole range of techno-jargon and online marketing advice from all angles – enough to make anyone’s head spin.

To avoid this overload of information, a new site should be treated like a V8 Supercar heading out to the track for the first time. It must be built on a solid framework but will be constantly tweaked throughout its life span into an efficient, customer-converting machine.

To provide this solid framework, there are five essential items that must be taken into consideration from day one:

#1 An Easy-to-Use Navigation Menu

The menu system of the site must be easy to find on the page, simple to understand and uncluttered in appearance. Refine the main options (those visible straight away) down to the bare necessities and “drop-down” menus should be used to display any extras that need to be accessed during a visitor’s time on the website.

#2 An “About Us” Page

Top Five Things Every Small Business Website NeedsIt’s been found that today’s online consumer likes to “connect” with businesses before they purchase products or engage services.  A good “About Us” page should be jargon-free and clearly display who you are, where your business has evolved from and why it exists now. Once again, keep to the essentials but at the same time, don’t leave any important information out.

Be sure to also include a “Contact Us” page on the site with a contact form that sends directly to the site manager’s email.

#3 Helpful, free content

Another way to create a connection with your customers to provide helpful content that will improve the way they interact with your products and services. This can be achieved through a variety of ways including FAQ pages, videos, customer forums and downloadable PDFs. By adding high-quality free content to your site, visitors are more likely to return in the future to what else you have to offer them.

#4 Customer Testimonial Page

Whilst writing your own content will go a long way towards selling your products and services to site visitors, nothing works better than testimonials from your current customers.

Select a few satisfied clients that you have worked with and send them a friendly email requesting a short description of their experiences with your business. You may be surprised how quickly you will receive a response from them – most people love to reward good service.

#5 A Clear Call-To-Action

Top Five Things Every Small Business Website NeedsEverything above counts for nothing if you don’t provide a quick, easy to find Call-To-Action (CTA) somewhere prominent on your site. The CTA is the method by which a site visitor chooses to become a customer. For example, on a motel’s website, a “Make a Booking” button provides as the Call-To-Action. On an eCommerce site, you’ll find a shopping trolley icon marked “Checkout”.

The CTA may be different for each business but the rules for displaying them are the same – it must be eye-catching, clearly defined and be designed in such a way to encourage interaction.

Without a Call-To-Action, a website quickly becomes an online brochure.

Conclusion

There are loads of other elements that help make a successful website that converts visitors to customers. These five items will allow you to create a solid framework from which to build the remainder of your site.

In future blog posts, we will cover some of the extras that will add even further value to your site and help to build your business in both brand and bottom line.

For help getting your small business website off the ground, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design. We’ve been working with small business since 2007.

Is your Web Designer legit?

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Is your Web Designer legit?When it comes to the WWW and the sites that live upon it, some small business owners are a little naive about how it all works. This is excusable as there are so many aspects to take into account – domain names, hosting, email accounts, analytics, SEO and social media are just a few of the items that need to be taken into consideration when getting a business online.

That’s why business owners like to hand over all those aspects to their website developer and say “please take care of this for me!”

There is a lot of trust being placed in that last statement – websites are not exactly cheap and, as a small business owner, you need to be able to rely upon your website “guys” to do the right thing. But, as in many industries, there are people who will take advantage of this.

If you are about to embark on the process of getting a web designer, or your current designer just doesn’t “feel right”, follow the three tips below to guide you to a reputable website design business.

#1 – Ask Around

Your business is not the first one ever to go online so take a look at your competitors and your industry in general. Ask them some key questions if you can:

  • Who designed their site?
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your business colleagues who they would recommend and why? (You may have a bit of trouble getting the same information out of your competitors).
  • Is the site generating the business that they need?
  • Is the site difficult to update?
  • What was the design process like when working with the web developer?

Positive testimonials work for all industries including web design so find out who would do the best job for your particular business.

#2 – Check out the web designer’s current portfolios.

All reputable designers will display their work on their own websites so check them out. Make sure that they can deliver styles that are current (not from the late 90’s) and relevant to your business.

One very important aspect that needs to be checked to ensure that you don’t get ripped off – make sure that you are not going to be paying for a template unless it has been made very clear that is exactly what you are paying for. These templates are not created just for your business and working with anyone that uses them can be dangerous as the “designer” may not have the skills to create / modify / reprogram the design to your specific needs.

A quick way to check:

  • Go to one of the sites they have “built” and copy the URL from the address bar at the top of your web browser.
  • Go to http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/ and paste the URL into the box provided.

This site quickly looks through the code and will tell you if the site is designed with the WordPress CMS (which is fine) and what theme the site is created with. If the theme is commercially available, this site will also tell you where you can buy it.

Too many times, I have seen so-called “Web Designers” that charge their customers exorbitant amounts of money for “designing” a site which can be purchased elsewhere for a little as $30!  All the “designer” does is change the imagery and add some text.

Note: If you run the website for Rusty Mango Design (http://www.rustymangodesign.com.au) through the theme finder above, you will see my framework theme “Rusty Mango Responsive”. This is a bare bones framework (which I personally created, not purchased) from which I then build all my sites.

It starts out looking like this:

Rusty Mango Responsive

But, by the time I am finished designing the site, it can look like this:

A Smarter Solution

That is real web design!

#3           Take a look at some of their imagery.

A little known tool called TinEye can help identify images that have been used elsewhere on the internet. You can find it at https://www.tineye.com/

TinEyeUsing TinEye is easy:

  • Save an image from anywhere on the net to your hard drive or right-click on it and “Copy Image Location”.
  • Use the box on TinEye to upload the image or simply paste in the image location (Ctrl-V on your keyboard).

TinEye will quickly scour the internet with your image information and come back with any close matches.

Obviously this would be no use on items such as stock photography which will appear everywhere but it can be very useful when checking out “personalised” items such as logos. I recently saw a logo that looked familiar – I had definitely seen it somewhere else.  So I ran it through TinEye and found 107 other logos that looked exactly the same!

Doesn’t say much for a designer if they resort to using stock images to create logos. That to me is not designing as it lacks any creativity and I strongly warn against using any design business that does this.

 

Agreed, the steps above will take some time and effort on the part of the small business owner however a website should be seen as exactly the same as any other investment in your business. You would research any new equipment or plant that you are purchasing for your business, so why not research who is going to build your website – the marketing tool that can drive business straight your door.

Without an effective website, built by someone who cares specifically about your business, you may be leaving a lot of money on the table and digging a hole in your bank account.

Photo Credit: Depositphotos.com

If your brand image needs to be consistent, why doesn’t your website?

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Be ConsistentAll business owners would (or should be) be aware of brand consistency – the practice by which the logos, colours and style of a company are shown in the same manner anywhere the business is seen. McDonalds restaurants are the kings of this consistency – wherever a McDonalds in located throughout the world, there is absolutely no doubting which brand is in operation. This is done through a stringent company manifesto that steadfastly lays out the strict guidelines that must be adhered to. Even companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – who allow others to use their logos in various applications – have these guidelines to protect their public image.

The process of consistent branding is so important to building a recognisable business.

A sense of consistency is important in many facets of business – processes, system, employment, discipline and even the layout of offices. So why do many businesses neglect consistency within their websites?

Browsing the web in the past week for inspiration, I came across sites that clearly had been updated with absolutely no thought to maintaining a consistent look throughout the pages. One business in particular was so glaringly bad at this, its website inspired me to write this post.

It wasn’t the design of the site that was bad – it actually was quite attractive. The site was ruined by the fact that it had been handed over to the client and they had no idea about how to keep “the look” of the design flowing throughout the pages. On the front page itself, it was very clear to see where the professional designer had finished and the website owner/administrator had taken over. It made the company look unprofessional.

The sad part is that this problem is so easy to avoid. Here’s five tips to keep your site consistent with your original “vision”:

Tip #1: Fonts

Use the same fonts throughout your site. Resist the urge to try out every new font that you discover on your website’s Content Management System. Novels and magazines don’t generally change fonts half way through and neither should your website. This applies to both main text segments and the titling through the site.

Tip #2: Alignment

Centre Alignment has its place however it isn’t in a large portion of text. By centring text on a web page, you are forcing your viewers to re-adjust their eyes for every new line beginning. Think of other texts that you may read during your day, such as newspapers, and you will realise why left alignment is used on all of them.

Tip #3: Colour and Font Weight

As in tip #1, don’t experiment with colours and font weights throughout your pages. Sure colour can grab attention when required however try not to make your website look like a technicolour rainbow. Font weighting should be consistent too – use BOLD text in the same place each time, for example, on the subtitles within your content.

Tip #4: Image Presentation

If you insist on using borders and shadows around your images, make sure they are used consistently. Don’t apply styles to some and neglect it on others.

TinyMCE AdvancedTip #5: Use a Format tool

Luckily, for those of us who use WordPress as a CMS framework for our pages, we have some great plugins that will make the above tips really easy to implement.

The plugin TinyMCE Advanced has a formatting option. A dropdown menu (called FORMAT) can be quickly coded by your web developer to include all the styles that you need for your site. All you have to do is highlight or select the text/image for the style to be applied to and then select the style from the menu. You don’t need to search for font types, colours, weights or anything.

 

I have to admit that page inconsistency has happened on some sites that I have created – mostly after their handover. A warning: potential customers of Rusty Mango Design beware, I will ring you up and let you know if your styles are out of whack – nicely of course. I will also offer our full support to help you present your information in a consistent style. After all, it’s my job to help you look your best – a cohesive and constant appearance is vitally important to the overall success of your website.

If you would like the plugin TinyMCE Advanced installed and coded for your WordPress site, please get in touch with Rusty Mango Design.

Your business needs a Website – why not do it yourself?

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Your business needs a Website - why not do it yourself? I love YouTube and its intuitive advertisement system – I believe it is a very clever way to target a certain demographic with the correct type of ad. Only problem is that I am always targeted with DIY website builder advertisements and one in particular is driving me crazy atm. It starts with the simple statement (I won’t give away the business name) – “You need a Website – Why not do it yourself?”

Where do I start to answer that question?

These days, there are literally hundreds of online website builders that offer free or supposedly cheap site design for business owners who want to create their online presence. Sign up, choose a template, chuck in some content and imagery and away you go. But as I have said previously, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

There are numerous pitfalls and traps related with using these websites that the casual user may not see. If you have bigger plans than just creating a quick site, such as generating traffic, expanding your business and generating profits – you must stay well away from these quickie sites.

Here’s the top five reasons why:

1. Building a website is not easy! 

There’s to a site than meets the eye. Not only does a website have to look good, it has to “act” in a certain way in order to drive customers into making a purchase or acquiring your services. That’s after they find you in the first place!

A good website has search engine optimisation, backup facilities, content management system, call to actions and many other components planned individually to suit your particular business and integrated into the design from day one. There is absolutely no way that an online builder knows (or even cares) what your business needs. This is what a real web designer comes in handy!

2. You don’t want the same site as everyone else – you want your own!

Using an online site builder involves using a template design – a pre-designed layout which you customise with your logo and content. If you are lucky, you may even be able to alter the theme colours – to a pre-set range of options, of course.

What this invariably means is there is potential for your site to look exactly the same as dozens of others. Chances are, if you liked a particular template, so did hundreds of small business owners around the globe. You will definitely not have that individual look that should define your site from all the others.

C’mon – your business should be as individual as you are – and so should your website.

3. Your site can disappear at any time!

“Never build your house on someone else’s land.” If you are ever tempted to go with an online site builder (paid subscriber or free), be very aware of the small print in the “Terms and Conditions.” The service provider, whoever that may be, reserves the right to remove any site at their own discretion, even if there is no legal reason for doing so.

That right!

The online site builder can go belly up overnight or just decide they don’t like you and your precious site is history. Add to that, the headquarters may be in Israel and your legal rights don’t have any weight at all there.

4. We actually care about your site and how it works for you.

There is absolutely no connection between your business and the online site builders during any stage of the process. You never speak to anyone and email is the only way to communicate. Even then, you will probably “converse” with a different service centre controller each time.

When you choose an actual web designer, we talk to you throughout the design of your website. We check that our decisions are on the mark and ensure that you are entirely happy with the results. This is essential to create a site that works specifically for your business.

On top of this, we need to ensure that your site is the best it can be because the success of our own business relies on “happy” customers. If you aren’t happy with the end results, you probably won’t refer us onto anyone and you definitely won’t give us a shining testimonial. That’s not good for business.

5. Your site should be your own – not covered with advertisements for other businesses.

If you opt for the free version of most online site builders, you will end up with a big banner ad somewhere on your site stating that “THIS SITE WAS CREATED WITH …. – BUILD YOUR OWN FOR FREE!”

Not exactly that professional look you are aiming for.

As web designers, Rusty Mango puts its name at the bottom of websites that we build because we are proud of what we do. It also tends to help a little built with your site’s SEO. But we don’t put something there to scream out “GET US TO BUILD YOUR WEBSITE!” – That’s just rude.

Taking all of the above into account, the reality is that if you want your website done right, don’t do it yourself. With the precious time that you spend learning the system, creating the site and populating it with content, the end result is still a site that just doesn’t work. That’s time you could be spending more effectively working on your business, making sales and providing service to your customers.

Instead spend a little time finding a web designer that produces the type of work that you want (check their portfolio) and you feel comfortable working with to build and maintain your website. This will prove to be a much better investment in the long run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What essentials do you need on your Front Page?

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Front Page EssentialsThe Rusty Mango Design site has been in action in its current form for just over two years, so utilising the Christmas/New Year’s break, I have decided to give it a fresh new look. In doing so, I must remember that potential customers (prospects) will be coming to the home page in search of a few key items. If those items are not readily available (ie hidden or obscure), the bounce rate of people leaving the site will be fairly high.

To prevent this, I am integrating those key items into the planning of the new design right from the very beginning. I’ve sat down with a pencil and paper, (I know – how old fashioned of me!) and I have sketched out and written down those features which must be included. Let’s take a look at what should be seen on an effective home page.

Distinct Branding and Contact Information

This one is a no-brainer. Make sure that as soon as anyone hits your site, they can see immediately who you are and how they can contact you. Get your logo in the all familiar position at the top left of your page (that’s where you look for it, isn’t it?) and have a phone or clickable email up there too – possibly in the top right corner. Easy to see and act on.

Call to Action

In website marketing, a Call to Action (CTA) is a predominant item somewhere on a page that provokes the site visitor to gain an immediate response. Usually the CTA utilises action verbs such as “Call Us Now”, “Click here to find out more” or “visit our online-store”.

The CTA must be easily visible so that it attracts attention and get a response. On the new site for Rusty Mango Design, the CTA is in the main header for each page:

  • Get a CMS Website.
  • Build an online Store.
  • Boost your site traffic.

These are the three keys services that I offer and I want prospective customers to find which service they require immediately.

Essential Information

Grab that pencil and paper again and think about the information your clients need to know about you straight away?

  • Do you have a strict geographic area that you work within?
  • What are the services that you provide?
  • If you provide professional services, prospective clients may need some information on your experience and background.

Stick to the K.I.S.S. principle – keep it short and simple. If your site visitors wish to expand on the basic information that you have provided on the front page, include links to the pages with the expanded details.

Clear Navigation

Don’t overload your site visitors with a gazillion options in regards to navigation around your site. Keep any menus in their familiar positions (i.e. in the header or left side bar). When site designers get a little too inventive with the placement of components, confusion can often set in with site users.

Keep your menu options to a basic level – maybe utilising dropdown menus if you want to allow quick movement to content elsewhere on the site.

Conclusion

With those things in mind, I have created a “fresh” design and I will be launching the new look Rusty Mango site in the next week or so. Keep tuned for that!

In the meantime, take a long look at your site’s front page and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there enough information? Or is there too much?
  • Does it encourage further exploration into the site?
  • Can a prospect interact directly with me form this page or will they have to dig deeper to do so?

If you need any help with the above, get in touch with Rusty Mango Design. We can discuss those very questions and create a front page that will get you attention!

 

Show your “true” colours to your customers

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Pyschology of ColourIt has long been recognised that certain colours can invoke certain emotions in people. Some colours automatically convey an instant importance such as the colour red which grabs attention or can warn you to stop performing a particular action (traffic signs, no smoking, and danger). Other colours can be associated with an emotion: orange conveys a feeling of warmth whilst blue can exude a feeling of tranquillity. These feelings and emotions have been ingrained into human psyche and we can feel them without even acknowledging that we do.

What most people may not be aware of is that colour can be and is used in brand marketing and design to incite the same type of reactions. Can you imagine an all-action brand like Red Bull using any other colours than red and yellow? Would you feel the same emotion if they used a combination of blue and grey? Not a chance.

Last week I stumbled upon the excellent infographic below created by the folks at The Logo Company. Brands that you and I see every day have been grouped into their primary colour bands and the effect is striking. This one diagram illustrates exactly how important the choice of colour is to the success and growth of a band.

colour_emotion_guideThe possibilities of how colour pyschology can be used in everyday marketing are endless. A couple of suggestions could be:

  • Paint your office
  • Using images in your materials that include plenty of the colour you are trying convey.
  • Vary your text to include colours.
  • Weave your colour throughout all your branding materials.

What about in your website design and content layout? Colour can be used to great effect to drive customers into making decisions whilst visiting and interacting with your site. Your Call to Action must be in colours that incite some form of reaction from the site visitor. Your branding needs to be created to envoke the same feelings as done so successfully by the brands in the infographic above. Your content presentation needs the same level of attention too – too often a site is “let down” by poorly implemented content layout.  

To avoid mismatching of colours and the wrong colours being used, make sure your designers have been fully and clearly briefed on:

  • your business’ mission statement.
  • why you do what do.
  • what your business wants to be known for.
  • who is your  target audience.

While you are in discussions with your designer, ensure that they are acutely aware of the appropriate colour choices for your brand and business.

To help break down the psychology of colours even further, here’s a quick guide to colours and the generally accepted feelings that they invoke.

colour_pyschology

As always, if you have any questions about this topic or you are desperately in need of a “colour stylist” for your brand and website, get in touch with us at Rusty Mango Design.

A little piece of colour trivia to round-out this week’s blog:

“Tim Berners-Lee, the main inventor of the web, is believed to be the man who first made hyperlinks blue. Mosaic, a very early web browser, displayed webpages with a (ugly) gray background and black text. The darkest color available at the time that was not the same as the black text was that blue color. Therefore, to make links stand apart from plain text, but still be readable, the color blue was selected.”

Week 11 of 52 – What’s the hold up? Why your website development might be sloooowwwww….

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Where is my website?As a whole, I must confess that I have a pretty awesome list of clients. Occasionally, I may strike one that I just can’t see eye to eye with but generally we can work well together and create sites that are functional and look good. Sometimes however, there can be issues that fracture that client relationship and we both need to work a little harder to see the job through to the end.

One of the main problems in the development of a site can be the timeline from when a client accepts the quote to the actual upload of the final website. Invariably, as with any project, there can be issues that can slow down the whole process and hold things up. And if you are “chomping at the bit” to get that site online, it can sometimes feel like your designer is dragging their feet. But it often comes down to issues that are out of their control.

To give potential site owners an idea of the problems that can pop up from time to time, let’s take a look at some of the “little” issues that can hold up the release of a website.

Domain Name Issues

If you have already purchased a domain name and are transferring it over to the technical control of your designer, there are a number of steps to be followed, all of which can hold things up. Some of these can take up to 48 hours to take effect even after they have been implemented.

Even once the required changes to the settings behind a domain name, it can still take another couple of days for those changes to “bounce” around the web and become official.

ARRRGGHHHH for all parties involved – drives me nuts sometimes!

Server Hold-ups

I won’t list company names in this section but if you were using my services, it would be my job as your developer to steer you right away from some of the largest web server providers in Australia. From past experience, I can guarantee that the biggest holdups in site development can be caused by these providers.

Some are so fernickety about their servers that, even after a customer has purchased server space; they cannot make any changes online with submitting a customer service ticket. These often take up to a week to get any action taken and some even demand that the customer must give a reason for the change (What? – it’s my server space – I have paid for it!!!)

If some of these guys need to be contact via phone, you will always be routed through the Philippines or India. Not a great situation when you need something done straight away.

Google

Once a site is complete, some customers hold the false notion that it will automatically appear on Google. Unfortunately, sites need to be submitted / indexed by Google before they will appear on the search results. Although there are tricks to expedite this delay (I have a nifty trick…) – in the end, it is completely out of your developer’s hands and into the realm of the Google Gods…..

On-Site Issues

Another hold-up in the completion of a new site is the creation of the content for the site. This generally will not be done by your web developer and some customers have not read the fine print to find this out.

If you don’t want to write your content or you feel that you can’t produce the quality you want, get in a touch with a copywriter. They can take dot points for each page and create fully written paragraphs for placement on your site.

 

Despite the potential for the issues above to arise, the road to a website is more often than not smooth-sailing if you have the right web developer “on the job.” They will be able to foresee the problems above and build waiting time for various parts of the process into the overall plan.

How do you find this developer I hear you ask? Quite simple really, just ask around. Find some sites in your local area that have been well designed and contact those business owners for the details. You can check client testimonials on various site too but take these with a grain of salt, no developer will ever post negative comments on their own services for the general public to see.

If you have any questions about the issues above or you want to talk to someone who navigates these murky waters on a regular basis, give the team at Rusty Mango Design a call on 0488 406 050 – we’d be glad to help.

Image © DepositPhotos | VGeorgiev

Week 2 of 52 – No such thing as a Free Lunch!

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Free LunchAnybody active on social media will have seen the advertisements for the free online website builders such as Wix, Webs and Weebly. At first glance, their offerings actually seem quite reasonable. Most offer plenty of space for a business site along with seemingly easy to use interfaces at no cost at all to the user. Surely it’s a great way to get online quickly?

If we take a closer examination of these sites, their setup reveals a different story.

“Hold on, Hold on…” you must be saying, “Aren’t you a web designer?”

Yes, but if you read on, I have some very valid points that may keep you away from using these sites as an option for your business.

“There is no such thing as a free lunch!”

That is definitely the case here. All the free options from these online website builders require that your site gets “branded” somewhere with their logo, not just your own. Some sites are slightly less conspicuous than others but nevertheless, it does look a little un-professional to have someone else’s logo adorning your business site. To remove the logo in most cases, you must join a paid version of the site.

The Optional Extras all add up

Items that are not included in the free setup will also add to the cost of the website for the business owner (special features, plug-ins, extra space, extra bandwidth, etc). Even the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) of your site will generally need to be paid for and without this important factor taking care of; no-one might find your business online in the first place.
The original free option suddenly does seem so free after all.

Ownership of the Site

You must also be aware that the site is retained on their servers, not yours – so regardless of how much sweat, tears and effort you put into the site, they retain control. If you decide to move away from the service provider, you most probably will not be able to take your site with you and that means you will have to start from scratch. In addition, if you have registered your domain name with them and it isn’t a .com.au – you will have an absolute nightmare trying to regain control of that domain.

Stand out from the crowd

All the bells and whistles in the world (if you pay for them) still don’t make up for the fact that, whatever you produce will not be unique just to your business. Online website builders rely heavily on the use of design templates. So even if they offer one hundred different designs, chances are that the most attractive and useful to you will also be very popular with other users.

Your business is unique, regardless of what field you are operating in. Therefore, your site needs to be unique and personally tailored to your business. It needs to cater for every aspect of your online presence. You “might” be able to customize these online templates to suit – but then another question arises – do you, as the business owner, actually have the time to devote learning the ropes and creating the site that your business needs?

Save the headache – use a real Website Designer

And this is the #1 reason why businesses are still choosing to use a professional website designer to create their online presence. It is our job to make you look good on the internet, cater for all aspects of your business online and provide a professional service that ensures that the journey online is as stress-free as possible.

Depending on your requirements, a free website may just be what you need however if you need flexibility, originality, a site that caters specifically for your website and you don’t have the time to worry about your online presence, let us take care of it for you. That’s what we do!

Additional Note: It has been reported recently that the use of online website builders for some businesses has resulted in the spamming of their clients! This could be a PR disaster in the making – the client could receive the spam from you and then you may cop the wrap for it! Beware!

 

 

 

What on earth is Responsive Web Design? (and why should I care?)

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Responsive Website DesignIn the ever-changing world of the internet, there is always a lot of jargon. Some of it is clear-cut, easy to understand and some doesn’t make sense to the regular site owner at all. One of the most talked about points in the last couple of years is the topic of “responsive website design”. Just a quick Google search will show that it has been the topic of many blogs and arguments over that time but with the release of some recent statistics into internet usage, it is something that needs to be addressed by all website owners and managers.

So what is it?

Put simply, Responsive website design is the ability of a website to change itself to suit whatever viewing platform it is being accessed from whether it is viewed from a desktop computer, tablet or smart phone. The goal is to provide the best viewing experience for the site visitor. Dependent on the device, all images should resize (or be removed), content should expand/contract and menu buttons must change from clicking with a mouse to touching with a finger. A site that can do this is known as being “mobile friendly”.

It’s important to note here that this is not just about creating a site that resizes. It’s about buttons, images, text size and content. Site visitors are less likely to spend as much time on a mobile site as they are on a desktop site and the amount of content needs to reflect this too.

How do I know if my site is mobile-friendly?

Simply open your webpage on any tablet or smart phone. If the site displays exactly the same as it would on a desktop computer, your site needs to be converted. Keep in mind, some sites will display the same on a tablet depending on whether you hold the tablet in portrait or landscape modes.

My site is not currently mobile friendly (non-responsive) – should I be concerned?

Yes, you should. According to online business analytics experts, comScore, statistics released early in 2014 show that for the first time ever, mobile internet access surpassed desktop access. Mobile devices accounted for 55% of Internet usage in the United States with apps making up 47% of Internet traffic and 8% from mobile browsers. It is estimated that by 2015, the number of mobile devices in use will equal the population of the planet.

Count on these statistics to keep leaning further and further in favour of mobile devices. This means, that if your site is not responsive and mobile friendly, you could potentially miss out on a lot of conversions (sales) through your business site.

Alright, you’ve convinced me. I need my site to become “mobile friendly”. Is it expensive to do?

A change to a responsive website design does not need to cost the earth. In addition, if your site has already been built with a mobile friendly framework, it can be quite easy to achieve.
With WordPress-based sites, such as those created by the team here at Rusty Mango Design, there are a couple of options.

  • Your site can be “re-themed” with an alternative mobile friendly design allowing all the content to remain exactly the same (you don’t have re-do the lot!). This option, although not quite as expensive as the creation of a new site, can involve a fair amount of work if you require a custom theme to be created.
  • Alternatively, you can install a plug-in that automatically converts your current site according to the device on which it is being viewed. This is probably the cheapest alternative, taking only a couple of hours to install and adapt.

If your site has not been created with a Content Management System (CMS) framework like Joomla or WordPress, your web designer “should” still be able to give you advice on the most appropriate (and cost effective) way to get your site “mobile friendly.

Who can help to get my site mobile friendly?

If your site is not currently mobile-friendly and you would like more information about your options, get in touch with us at Rusty Mango Design. We can take a look at your framework (free of charge) and let you know what the best course of action and the costs involved.

 

Do you need a Call to Action?

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Call to ActionThe idea behind this week’s post is inspired by from an email from longtime client and family friend, David Gibson. David is a respected Brisbane-based Historian with a mind-blowing range of historical knowledge ranging from Brisbane City right through to early settlements on Norfolk Island. His website “Talking History with David Gibson” is his online presence and David’s strives to keep it up to date with fresh facts and information in the form of quizzes, vignettes and even tweets from his Twitter account.

David’s issue with his site arises from the fact that despite it being an excellent resource for historical information, people are not seeing the underlying reason for its existence. And that is to promote David as an expert in his field who is available for tours, historical research, key notes speeches and educational visits just to name a few of his services.

When David contacted me about driving more business through his site, the first item that I pointed out to him that there was no distinct Call to Action prompting his site visitors to ask for more information on his services. Plenty of information but no real promotion of his talents. As I said to David, a Call to Action can often determine the success or failure of a website. It is that important.

What is a Call to Action?

A Call to Action is a highly visible prompt that spurs the website visitor into further interaction with the business. It can take many forms: – a Click Me button, a newsletter sign-up, a Shopping Cart, a Free Quote enquiry form, these are just a few options that are available to the site operator. Anything that can generate that all important sales lead can be used as a Call to Action.

Why should I have a Call to Action?

This question can only be answered by you as the site owner. What is the whole purpose of the site? Is it there to boost or promote your business or organisation? Does the site play an important part in generating your source of income? Do you want it to push visitors towards other aspects of your business?

Maybe you just want more details about the site visitor to initiate further interaction with them.

If your site is designed to interact in any way, shape or form with its visitors, you need to have a distinct Call to Action.

Where should I put my Call to Action?

This question is fairly easy to answer – your Call to Action must be highly visible whenever a visitor comes to your site. This means that it needs to be seen straight away after the page loads, “above the fold” or visible without any scrolling. On David’s site, we have placed a large Call to Action at the top of the front page allowing instant access to David’s CV and contact information. On another site I have created, Roscoes Piazza, the ORDER NOW button is at the top of every single page so that people can order pizza online straight away with minimal fuss…

You must make the interaction between yourself and your potential customers as easy as possible. Despite their interest, most people will not search through your site looking for a way to get in touch with you. If they can’t see the Call to Action immediately or in the first 10 seconds (at most), you risk losing them to another business. And if that happens, your site loses its effectiveness as a marketing tool.

Take a quick look at your site and pretend to be a potential customer – Does your site have a Call to Action?

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