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Do you need a website in 2020?

Do I need a website in 2020?

When asking the question, “Do I need a website in 2020?”, some people say yes, some people say no. Let’s examine this a bit closer and clear up a few things. A better way of asking the question, “Do I need a website in 2020” is to say, “Is a website the answer?” Now we’re getting somewhere.

Asking the question Do I need a website in 2020, is the wrong question to ask. At least it’s not the first question to be asking. In this article, we’ll examine things in more depth. We’ll be asking the right questions, and arriving at the right answers.

Everybody needs a website - but why?

Why people need a website
In his famous book, The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams hits the nail on the head. In it, he talks about the ultimate question, to Life, the Universe and Everything. Surprisingly (spoiler alert), the answer comes out as… 42! This humorous story has a profound, hidden meaning. To get the right answers, you need to ask the right questions.
Morgan Freeman’s lovable character Red, in the Shawshank Redemption works this out. The last time he finds himself up for parole he’s asked whether he felt rehabilitated. He looked into the eyes of the parole officers, and asked, “What do you really want to know?” Let’s think about that for a while.

If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up somewhere else

Sounds obvious doesn’t it? It all comes down to ambition and planning. What do you want to achieve? What do you want your website to do?

I’m sorry, but the only person who can answer that, is yourself. Or… maybe your better half? But seriously, you need to know what your goal is. Is it lead generation, or online sales? We wrote about this some time ago. When meeting new clients for the first time, the most important question we ask, is why do you need a website? Only when you know where you’re going, can you come up with a plan to get there.

Is Social Media enough?

Is social media enough?

Social media is a wonderful thing, but it has limitations. It is however, a great way to feed traffic to your website. In fact, we encourage our clients to have social media channels they can promote their content on.

I know it’s possible to run a business from social media alone. Many people do. Know that, if you have competitors, many of them WILL have their own website. Not having one, puts you at a disadvantage.

Another thing to bear in mind. The social media platform is not yours. You’re bound by their rules, and they can change at any time. Having social media is excellent, but you’re running a huge risk if it’s your only online presence.

Don't let your competitors steal your business

Provocative as it sounds, that’s exactly what’s happing to you, if you don’t have a website. Your competitors, at least the ones doing more business, will have one of their own. That means that, business that you should be getting, is going to them. What are you going to do about it?

Don't websites cost money?

A website is an investment, not a cost

There are a number of things you’ll need when creating a website. Whether you do it yourself, or pay someone else to do it for you. Not counting the obvious cost of a designer / developer, these are some of the things you might need to pay for:

How much you decide to spend on your website, depends on your budget and expected return on investment.

Here at BRIGHTON WEBTECH, we’re big fans of WordPress to build our websites in, although we’re used Joomla too in the past. The beauty of programs like these, is that they’re open source. Essentially, that means they’re free to use. So, our recommendation to satisfy your need for a website, is WordPress.

Let’s keep reading.

Expense or investment?

Invest in a website
This is interesting. Let’s look at the definitions of each, according to Collins Dictionary:
  • Expense (noun):
    Expense is the money that something costs you or that you need to spend in order to do something.
  • Investment (noun):
    Investment of time or effort is the spending of time or effort on something in order to make it a success.

So, which is it? The answer: it doesn’t matter. It could be either. You need to decide. What’s important, is how you think about it. An expense is something you have to have, a burden almost. But if you think of it as an investment, you’ll love it so much more. You’ll be inclined to look after it, feed and nurture it. It’ll be something that grows with you and something you’ll value. Hey, it makes you look more professional as well. Who doesn’t want that? If you’re still reading, I think I know which side of the fence you’re coming down on.

Can I build one myself?

Truthfully, you could. Would it be better than a professionally designed site? Possibly. The best amateur web designers, are better than the worst professional ones. If you do decide to go it alone, good luck to you. Here’s some things I’d recommend that you get your head around before embarking on such a project:

To answer this one fully, would take a whole article. In fact, it’s on my list to write. Watch this space, or better still, sign-up to our newsletter using the form on this page. We’ll keep you informed of new content.

So... Do you need a website in 2020?

Do you need a website in 2020 - YES YOU DO

To address the question, Do I Need a Website in 2020… the answer is YES. But, be absolutely sure of why you need it. A website provides a solution to a problem, whether it’s sales, lead generation, brand awareness or just community. If you have the interest, ability and drive to do it yourself, go right ahead. Do it now, because your rivals are already ahead. Don’t let them get away. Good luck.

Ready to discuss your next project?

Get in touch TODAY, to start the ball rolling on your next website project. We’re ready to help.

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10 Ways To Make Your Website Stand Out From The Crowd

With so many websites in the world, anything you can do to lift your head above the masses, is going to help. What follows, is my opinion of what can be done, to inject life into your website. Will everyone agree with me? Probably not. The first website I designed, was almost 20 years ago, so I like to think that I know something about the subject. Feel free to take on anything I say below. Enjoy.

The Basics

If you’re reading this, then I’m assuming that you’re interested in creating, or looking to improve an existing website. These days, with online web builders like WIX or SquareSpace, you don’t need to know about the underlying technology in website construction. However, there’s much more to having an outstanding online presence.

Therefore, I would suggest that, you need to learn to develop a designer’s eye. Photo manipulation, including cropping, colour correction, touching up etc. is also a vital skill. With template based web builders, like the ones above, professional designers have already exercised their skills in producing some really nice looking themes. The problem comes, in my opinion, when people try to adapt an excellent, existing theme, to match their own brand, colours and images. Without the designer’s eye, people are often baffled about why their modifications don’t look anywhere near as good as the design they started with. It’s due to the lack of knowledge of the basics.

Therefore, as a starting point. some things to learn are:

  • Photo editing
  • Colour theory
  • Content writing
  • Graphic design

The rest of the following items, are not in any particular order of importance.

Be Interesting

Your business, and your website, start with you. How interesting do you really think you are?

Can you remember the last time you enjoyed speaking with a boring person? Silly question? Of course it is. Nobody likes boring. Then again, people aren’t likely to become more interesting, just because I suggest it’s a good idea. If you’re already interesting, then great. Unfortunately, not everyone is… including me. So, what’s the solution? Obviously, make yourself a more exciting person.

“Great idea Einstein”, I hear you cry. “How exactly can I do that?” Well, maybe I can tell you how I did it. As a lot of business people do, I go to a number of business networking events, which involves talking to strangers about your business and yourself. If you’re reading this, then you already know how important web design is. It doesn’t mean that it’s the most riveting subject in the world. However, for me, I have another business, a beekeeping business. So, when I tell people at these networking events that I’m a web designer, just before their eyes glaze over, I tell them that I’m also a commercial beekeeper.  All of a sudden, they really want to talk to me… always.

Okay, you might not be the kind of person who dresses up in funny suits, and opens up boxes of deadly insects, but you might be a church bellringer, or a glider pilot, or… you get the idea. If you don’t think of yourself as an interesting person, do some interesting stuff. Guess what happens then? You’re interesting. When you’re interesting, your business is interesting. It’s then a small step to translate that onto your website. However, be careful not to over-do it. Keep this in mind when you get to section 8 below.

Layout and Structure

This can mean different things to different people. So that you can understand where I’m coming from, this is what it means to me. Layout, is how things appear, visually, on screen. Structure means how things are arranged “under the hood”, in the code of the website page.

I see layout as a visual thing. If we’ve done the hard work, in getting visitors to your site, we definitely don’t want to put them off with an ugly site. Depending on your intended audience, you might want to be a bit flash. Especially if you’re in the preforming arts, or entertainment. Even if you’re serving a business market, you’ll still want to have a minimum standard. Therefore, play around with different layouts. Move your items around the screen a bit. Even be a bit daring, with overlapping elements. If you get stuck, search the internet for blog layout examples, etc. for some inspiration.

Structure is something different. It’s the HTML code that contains the words and most of the images. It’s the way that blind website visitors see your content. Watch out for an article about accessibility I’ll be writing soon. Did you know, that Google is blind? If the underlying structure of your web pages, don’t follow certain rules, it won’t be understood by Google, so it won’t know where to rank it.

In summary, use of good layout to make your content look organised and appealing, will make your website stand out from others around you. Don’t be tempted to use structure to design layout. This is an advanced topic, that will take some dedication to learn. Or… you could employ the services of a professional to do it for you. I know of at least one, who would be more than happy to talk to you about it.

Make it Mobile-Friendly

If you already have a website, then this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. People have been talking about it for years. And for good reason.

If you ask your favourite search engine, what percentage of website visitors are using a mobile device, then you’ll find it’s over half. Even looking at my own site stats, I can see that is the case. If people don’t have a good experience on your site, if viewed from their phone, they’re not going to stick around. That’s half your audience gone already!

Back in the “old days”, designers like myself, would create two different versions of a website. The main (desktop) version, and a mobile one. These days, it’s very rare to see that method used. Instead, the good designers (yes, I’m including myself in this group… he says modestly), will employ a responsive approach.

Responsive web design, can be achieved in a number of ways. Ultimately, it comes down to the skill of the designer, and their ability to create clever CSS (the code that makes your site look pretty). If you, or the person designing your site, used a theme, then this might already be responsive. A word of warning, these only go so far, and in my opinion, always need fine tuning. So many people, including professional designers, are still getting this wrong. However, if you get this right, it will certainly make your website stand out from your competitors.

In short, over half your visitors are using a mobile phone. Be kind to them, or you’ll lose them to someone else.

Don't Use Stock Photos

I’m going to almost retract that statement already. Let me explain. Having no photos on your site, is bad. It’s bad for SEO, and it’s bad for user experience. See section 2 above, about being interesting. Faced with the choice of no photos or stock photos, I’ll go for stock photos virtually every time.

By far, the best way to make your website stand out, is to hire a photographer to capture the essence of your project or business. Whilst I’m at the level where I can take a reasonable snap with my phone, I’m a long way off what a professional photographer can do. Therefore, when I’m designing sites for people, I have a number of professionals I can call on.

In between the two, is stock photos. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of stock photos available, are of excellent quality. In fact, I often use it. The resource I goto first, is pixabay.com. On there, is some beautify imagery, on virtually any subject. It’s not the quality of the stock photos that’s the issue, it’s how they’re chosen. When you, or if not you, your customers, spend long enough on the web, the same photos begin to crop up time and time again.

There is a solution, and it’s this. We already know that the quality of stock images, isn’t the limiting factor. It’s how we use them. If we take an image off a stock photo site, and use it as is, without modifying it in anyway, we’re not being original or unique. This is what I do. Sometimes I’ll find a image, but only use a part of it, maybe a patch of sky, or part of a building. Also, I usually play around with the colours or contrast etc. By the time I’ve finished with it, not only will I have an image that’s an excellent fit for the article it’s going next to, but the original photographer probably wouldn’t recognise their own work. Anyone is able to do this, and companies like Adobe, make some excellent photo editing software to do this. However, this can be expensive. I use, open source (free) software, like GIMP, which is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

So, you don’t have to stop using stock photography, just be more creative when doing so.

Graphics and Imagery

Now that we’ve sorted out what to do about the photos on your site, let’s now discuss other graphics and imagery. You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s the same thing, but I’m talking about splashes of colour here and there, lines and colour to break up large blocks of text, and even typography as graphics.

If you look around this article, you’ll see a few features to break up, what is quite a lot of text. When visitors are faced with huge blocks of text, it can be daunting. It runs the risk of frightening people off, before they’ve started to read anything.

It’s important, not to be too distracting, we’re trying to provide value in the article after all. Some people like to put animation onto web pages. Some people like to put a LOT of animation on them, making their site stand out for the wrong reason. This is subjective, but in my opinion, too much flashy stuff, starts to become distracting, and not the reason people visit your website. A little bit might be good, but please, resist the temptation of putting too much on. Don’t do it, just because you can.

Don't Forget the Content

Content is King. After all, it’s the meat in the sandwich. It’s what the search engines have read, indexed and offered up to your visitors, and what they’ve come here to read. Gone are the days where you get away with a couple of hundred words and you’d end up at the top of the search pages. Occasionally, you’ll find a few sites that are an exception, but they’ll be other reasons that they’re there.

So, what do your website visitors want to read about? That, dear friends, is an excellent question. The website owners that answer that question the best (then write that content), are the ones that will succeed. I’ve written an article, that may help you along the right path.

Good content, written the right way (see the next section), is the foundation of a successful website. Time spent planning this, will pay dividends in the future. It’s not everything, there’s SEO issues to consider, but it’s a vital step, that shouldn’t be ignored.

Make It About Them

“It’s not you, it’s me!” Okay, let’s not go down that route. So, you have your website. It’s your baby. You’re proud of it. You want to show it off. You want to shout it from the roof-tops!

But, and I hope this doesn’t come as a shock, everyone isn’t always as interested in you, as they are in themselves, especially if they don’t know you. We could discuss whether this is good or not… but we won’t.

This is the most common mistake that people make, when creating their own website content. It’s true, you probably know much more about your subject than your readers. That’s why you created your site in the first place.

What people often do, is get bogged down in telling their visitors, what qualifications they’ve got, what materials they use, how they plan their work. What your visitors are really interested in, is how your product or service, can help them. How you can solve a problem they’ve got.

It’s difficult to do, but writing in a way that’s going to interest others, is a skill. That’s why we often employ the services of some trusted copy-writers. It will make the world of difference in your visitors minds.

Keep Your Website Content Fresh

Whilst some content is timeless, some will have a best before date. When you’re looking for information on the Internet, I’m betting that you want the most up-to-date info you can find. For example, if you’re looking to see what films are on at the local multi-plex, or even the latest software to write your website in, you want to know about now, not last year.

Does that mean that, all of the articles you wrote over the last 5 years, is now rubbish? You’re in luck, no it doesn’t. You can update and even re-purpose it. Search engines love it when they see that you’re on top of things, and your information is up to date.

Yes, it can be a lot of work, but you can be sure that, if you don’t keep everything up-to-date, others will. Then, their website will stand out instead of yours. You decide whether it’s worth it.

Find the Right Designer

If you’ve read this far, then well done. If you didn’t know before, you’ll know now, that’s there’s quite a lot involved in creating a stand-out website. There is, of course, much more you could learn, and further articles might appear here soon.

Hopefully, you’ve learned something new, and can go away and put something you’ve learned here, into practice.

It might be though, you’ve realised you’re at a point where you need to call in a professional. You won’t be surprised if I offer my own services. Feel free to have a look around this site, to see what we can offer. If you think we could work together, please get in touch.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do.

Ready to discuss your next project?

Get in touch TODAY, to start the ball rolling on your next website project.

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Get your website right first time

How To Get Things Right With Your Website

Why You Need a Website

As a web developer in Brighton, I always ask my customers why they want me to build a website for them.

It should be obviously, really. They’ve come to me to develop a major part of their marketing, something that they obviously want and need – but why, exactly?

If you’re not sure of the exact reasons behind the admittedly eminently sensible decision to employ me, you may not succeed in your endeavours. You can’t just “have a website” unless you have clear expectations of what you want it to do for you. And, as the architect of your future website, I need to know what I’m building and why I’m building it for you. Does that make sense?

Here are some pointers to help you think laterally when it comes to your all-important presence on the internet.

Are you looking to legitimise your business and to make a great impression?

Well then, that’s an excellent idea and you should certainly talk to me.

Picture this:

You’ve sallied forth to a networking event, you’re wearing your shiny shoes and you have a smart business card with all your contact details on. You have your website address clearly displayed for lo, I have built you the website of your dreams.

You make an excellent contact, someone with whom you could definitely do some business. They WILL look you up the next day. If your site is easy to navigate, with lots of professional yet friendly-sounding content, plus compelling calls to action PLUS a good photograph or two of you, tremendous things will happen. Your website has most likely consolidated the good, if not exceptional first impression that you made.

The message here is: you are a great business person who literally means, well…business. Job done in terms of a website.

And guess what, a well laid out site will make your prospect want to contact you.

No website? The following will most likely happen: Your name will be put into Google. You may come up somewhere, most likely as a LinkedIn contact. And yes, you will be judged for not having a website. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself when you next meet someone without a website at a business networking event. You feel a little bit disappointed, don’t you?

It’s a bit like turning up to a party without a bottle of wine.

Do you want to generate leads for your business via your website?

This is similar to the above point, but from a different angle. Your website should be the hardest-working tool in your marketing arsenal. Full of information about what you do and how you are solving your customers’ problems (you do know how to write about that, don’t you?), your prospects will be knocking at your proverbial door in no time (Ok, emailing you), seduced by your persuasive words and subtle calls to action.

Your crisp, focused, friendly and professional website has just generated a lead for you. And, this is business that you didn’t have to go out and get yourself, which is entirely gratifying.

Tell me about this when we meet, so that I can design something extremely well fit for purpose.

Being found by your target market

We need to talk about this next bit, too: So…you need an SEO-friendly WordPress website, with lots of perfectly-written, user-friendly content that gets shared. Also, some VERY good, sometimes tricky on-page search engine optimisation on each and every page, each for your key search terms. Oh yes, and that fiddly alt text over images.

Yes, you can learn to do this yourself, but I work with someone who can do this for you. You’re busy for goodness sake, let us take care of this on your behalf.

Taking it to a higher level, if you want consistent leads from your website you will need to exchange links and articles with like-minded businesses, even your competitors.

Do You Want to Generate Sales from Your Website?

If you sell products, a good quality e-commerce site in WP is de rigeur.

You will need a website that, at the risk of stating the obvious, makes it very easy to buy your products on-line. And yes, some websites (not mine, of course) operate a ridiculous Sales Prevention System where would-be customers simply give up in frustration and check out a competitor’s site instead. I’m sure you’ve had this experience yourself.

Excellent e-commerce sites are “clean”, simply laid out, with top-notch images, clear, in-depth product descriptions and VERY obvious “add to basket” functionality.

Again, let’s have a chat about this as I can most definitely help here.

Other Things to Consider

Your website will be open 24 hours a day and will expand the reach of your business on a worldwide scale.

You should refresh the content on a regular basis, adding blogs and new articles as often as you can. Remember, you have a ready-made market place just waiting to hear from you.

Offering an FAQs page, for example, puts you in a strong position as the provider of great information about your business.

So…if you’re thinking about a website, think carefully about why you think you need one and importantly, about what you want it to do for you. Whatever you need, I can help you achieve it so just give me a call and let’s get started.

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