Make the best of your Website carousel.
Most people like to see images on a slider on a website, they are a fairly well established design element. However, there are some dos and don’ts to bear in mind:-
Get the auto rotate right:
1. Don’t make them whizz by too fast, give the user a chance to linger on the nice images, maybe even read a heading.
2. Prioritise the order of your slides, the first will always be most important, the fourth may not get seen by a lot of users.
3. Pause on mouse hover, give the user the chance to click on any links and disable autorotate on mobile.
4. If the user clicks on the play controls, stop the auto rotate - they may just be trying to look at something.
5. Add swipe as well as arrows to control the slider on mobile, users like that on touch screens.
There are more things you can do too - check out the full list on our website. http://ilateralweb.co.uk/web-design-news/you-spin-me-right-round-a-guide-to-carousels-on-home-pages/
What are the chances?!
1) You've just bought a new house and the 70's avocado bathroom suite has to go.
2) After some bad weather, the fence between your neighbours has broken and their little doggy is leaving some presents on your lawn.
3) Your little darling has given your beautiful lounge walls a little update.
What do you do?
You might look in the local paper, grab a business directory out of the drawer, Google local services, jump onto social media and search for a local business, ask on social media if anyone knows anyone, or ring friends and family for suggestions.
So...... now, you are that local business they need, using the options above, how can they find your number and not your competitors? Everyone works differently, some use only one of these methods, some a mixture, some all - how many can you be found by?
If it's only 1 of them, you have a 1 in 6 chance they will use the option that finds you, but wait.......there's many other people who also do what you do and they also market themselves in the same place. What's the chance that you will get the call? Probably one in maybe even hundreds at times.
Have a think about your business and whether you are in enough places. Brand awareness is a massive part of your business plan and must not be overlooked.
If you'd like more information on brand awareness and how to expose your business, contact Jo of Forest Traders for more details.
In sales, a Dancing Pony is the sales person who gives all of the information on the first call or visit. This is then perceived by the customer as open information to be used to get the best deal from the competition.
Sales people are warned continually that this is bad practice and they should hold back as much as possible until they get commitment. The buyers though are continually told to try and get all of the information early and under no circumstances to give a commitment.
In my humble opinion, this all leads to a competitive culture where each is trying to outwit the other to get the 'best deal'. This invariably leads to 'buyers remorse' which means that you feel inclined never to buy from that person again and the supplier resents giving any further help.
Clearly in the case of a service such as IT support or telephony which is all about the relationship this will never work.
As more and more 'open source' products are being given away free to start with, thanks largely to Google. There seems to be a new culture building in which the expectation is that you try stuff out first and become 'expert' in its use then go to market to get the best deal. This devalues the role of the expert advisor and potentially can waste a lot of our time. This in turn could damage our ability to do business.
So what can we do? I for one want to have happy customers that feel encouraged to recommend my services, so I'd rather cut out the competition and go straight for the relationship. Since that is going to be based fundamentally on my ability to provide the service, I'm going to give all that I can of my time and expertise free of charge and if prospective customers go elsewhere then good luck to them.
With this in mind, feel free to ask me for a quotation or help any time.
Bring on the Dancing Ponies! ;)
What To Do If Your Website Is Not Bringing In Sales
Getting enquiries and making sales are pretty much the two things that most business owners need to get right if they want to stay in business, as without the enquiry, there is no sale, which means that the more enquiries a business can get, then the more sales they can hope to close. The primary reason any business owner has a website is to increase business, else we would all just have one for vanity reasons, but just having a website does not necessarily mean that it is going to get you success.
If you have a website and you are just fed up of it not working, then instead of giving up on it, you need to take a step back and work out why, taking an often required unbiased view and being critical about its performance and the lack of enquiries you are getting. It is very easy to get proud with websites and try to paint a rosy picture, but unless you are true to yourself, then you are never going to get anywhere. Criticism of your pride and joy can be hard to take, but if the criticism leads to changes that get you more business, it is time to take it on the chin and get some honest feedback.
The first thing to do is check your traffic levels. There are many free website statistic tools online, but the one I would always recommend is Google Analytics. Having a website is one thing but getting people to use it is another, so it’s important that before you start ripping your design to shreds, you make sure that the lack of enquiries is not down to no visitors. You need people on your site to make sales, so if they are not coming, then there is your problem and you can start to take steps to address it. From SEO through to Pay Per Click, there is a huge amount of ways to get traffic and visitors, all of which most firms should be considering implementing anyway.
If the traffic is not the issue, then you need to take a step back and really look at the site in depth.
Although there are many things to look at, some to really focus on are:
· Lack Of Conversion Points – Make sure that your contact details are on the bottom of every page and that your phone number is always in top right of the website, because no matter where the visitor is on your site, you need to make sure that it is easy for them to contact you the moment they decide they want to make an enquiry.
· Over Complication – If your website is too complicated, fussy and it is just not easy to find things, then this is going to be a major issue for your visitors. Make sure the site is easy to use, easy to find the information they need and easy to contact you, which doesn’t mean the design has to be boring, it just means it has to be useable.
· Mobile Compliant – One area still overlooked is websites on smart devices and tablets, which means that if your website does not work on mobiles or tablets and a lot of your traffic is coming from these areas, then you need to sort it by getting a responsive website that will work, so that these people can actually use your site.
· Poor Navigation – You literally have seconds when it comes to website visitors making their mind up about you and your business, so it is vital that you make sure that when they enter your site, they can get what they need quickly. A decent top menu that is easy to understand makes a big difference, with easy to follow navigation structures throughout your site.
· First Impressions – There is nothing wrong with minimal content on your site, but it is still important that the content you do have sells you and your business, else you are not going to hook the visitor into making an enquiry. Your website is an impression of you and your business, so if it looks cheap and badly run, people will assume this is how you run your business. Effort and time are both needed to make a good website, especially if you want your site to start working for you.
Websites require a lot of work if you want them to start performing and earning you money. The more content you write and the more blogs you produce, the higher you will rise in the search engines ( as long as the website is well optimised ). To be honest, if you have a website and never bother to add anything to it, then you cannot expect or demand success, as this should be considered a crucial part of your marketing strategy and you have to work it, and work it hard.
So, if your website is not bringing in the money, instead of giving up and moving on to something else, do some research and take a stand backwards to evaluate what you are offering and if it can be improved. I say this because any website you ever see has room from improvement, and with a bit more effort and unbiased views, you can make your site work for you, that is 100% guaranteed!
Google goes further to the dark side?
SEO for Dummies
Anyone wanting to SEO their site 2 years ago, knew that the two key things they needed to do was to build links from other sites to their site and to identify the keywords that searchers found their site with. For the latter Google provided within their free Analytics tool a free and easy way to check how effective they were.
The Penguin algorithm change in April 24th 2012 link-building was dealt a grievous blow to hit all those who had bought spurious and thin links from stray unrelated sites. Penguin focuses on the quality and relevance of those links.
This year Google has removed the easy accessibility of keywords in Analytics so that site owners could see how they were found organically. For any users of Analytics go to Acquisition, then Keywords then Organic. If 80%+ are coming up as unknown then you are already hit. What you might try is to extend the data range to the full year and then download the keywords shown. For some users this allows them to save some of the key words, which are now dark. But for most it doesn’t.
Why have Google done this?
Well because they can. They own the rules of the game and can change what they want in order to achieve their aim. Their aim is to put in front of the searcher the most relevant page from Google’s databases of pages which they believe, from Google’s understanding of the words entered, is most likely to answer it.
Key words and key word phrases have, as the number of web pages increased, also increased in order to be the most relevant page. Keywords will still be used in Adwords and pay per click advertising to trigger adverts and Google will still use and make available data to those purchasing adverts. Is this wrong? No because with everyone focusing on keywords as the way to optimise and then using Analytics to measure, the game has been corrupted. So no it’s not a breach of a tacit contract whereby Google gained the data on keywords via sites using Analytics and in return we got a free tool.
What can I do?
After gnashing your teeth at the loss of an easy to use tool, move on.
· There are a range of tools which measure the competitiveness of your pages on your defined search terms. Most have a limited free service, which may be more limited as they now need to pay more for Google data.
· If you use Analytics to see entry pages, you will have a good idea of the types of topics that interested your viewer. It is this focus on topics which has become more important. Google has just made it harder to cheat.
· Don’t continue to look for quick fixes as these are likely to break the rules or cause the rules to be changed as too many people pile in. The discipline of writing content around keyword phrases still applies. All that has been lost is the easy way to measure it.
No Cost and Cheap Website Myths
The world is full of no-cost and cheap websites. Some work, but most don’t. Not because the technology is wrong, but because the basic principles of creating and maintaining the marketing tool of the website, are either not known or forgotten. Too often websites are hammers, where spanners are needed.
1. Everything’s social these days so why bother!
Increasingly large brands are directing their clients and prospects to Facebook or other social media rather than their website. Why? Because they know that whatever the web property, it is all about communication and conversation.
That’s why building a website and then not touching it, is like going out into the Forest of Dean and shouting loudly; and going back a year later and expecting to hear the echoes or finding people waiting to talk! The difference between websites and social media is purely conceptual. It is not a choice for most businesses of either/or, but both with a conversion strategy.
2. All web designers are the same!
Not true. All websites must be designed in order to achieve their objectives. Choosing a people carrier won’t win you a F1 grand prix! Turning up in the racecar is perhaps not the right image for a plumber or management consultant! Designer has at least 4 meanings for websites:
· The graphic designer. What does it look like- colours, layout, font?
· The IT techie. How does it work- if the user clicks this what happens?
· The marketing adviser. What does it want the viewer to do next?
· The marketing consultant. How does this fit with the brand and the other sales and marketing materials?
3. Why pay for hosting and domains?
No-cost hosting usually means no fee hosting. Your web-space can be shared with various unconnected advertising diluting your message so that the hosting company can generate revenue. For some businesses at the start, this might be a cost worth paying. Not so your domain, as the costs are so minimal, while advantages on being found and protecting your identity are significant. If you hold the domain registration, you control your site.
4. Content is King and Killer
Site content is governed by contradictory ‘rules’. The ever-changing Google Game sets which pages are found by those who search. Others are set by the target audience who either like reams of words. Or very few. Content can be static (core web pages) or fast-moving (blogs/news).
Without content there is no site. But content is equally killer as king. It’s a killer because for most of us it is difficult to know what to write, so is a painful task; or we copy someone else and get hit; or we tell everyone how brilliant we are so even our closest family read it through gritted teeth!
Most people think of content as only words. But people scan webpages, they don’t read them so using an image is usually essential. An image is anything including photos, diagrams, sketches, drawings, videos and words. Yes the last one is correct- most logos are images of words.
5. Website Done-Tick
Effort and money about to be thrown away- tick. As the customers you serve and the market you operate in evolves so should your website. Regularly adding fresh content aids the communication with those in your sales funnel. How much, how often or what can be tracked through various tools, which should lead back to your business objective eg make 10% more sales.
So let me be open with my aim in writing this blog. If you want to know more about building website basics, then come along to one of the negligible cost half day workshops run by the Forest of Dean Entrepreneurs. For details or to book. http://www.fodentrepreneurs.co.uk/fode-events/forest-of-dean-entrepreneurs-events-calendar/
Let your company media library tell the story of your business.
One of the things that social media and digital image capture has done is to make images ever more accessible to a wider and much more discerning audience. It’s a fallacy to believe that digital has killed photography – far from it – more people take more images and are more image literate than ever before. People, and customers, now expect to see great creative images of you and your business and so a quick headshot in the car park of the breakfast network venue isn’t going to stand up any longer. Or more importantly to you – STAND OUT. YouTube and Facebook have introduced the concept of grab shots and footage, perhaps of a lesser quality, as long as that content needed to be shot in that way. As all of these channels open up to you as marketing opportunities – start to think about how you tell the whole story of your business in editorial images.
And so your image mix will ultimately consist of top quality professional PR, product and advertising shots and video, funky logos, graphics and vectors complimented by instinctive grabs of events, fun and news or even customer generated content. The only time this eclectic mix looks “wrong” is when you misjudge the balance for a particular media. For example, on the company website, all the imagery should conform to the web development brief, quality and theme you set out with. This is the window into your business for potential customers who don’t yet know very much about you – providing poor quality, ill conceived (creatively)and poor quality images = disaster at the first hurdle!
But, your Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest sites will be completely different (but draw on the same library so there is no more work involved for you). On Facebook you’ll want much more of a two way conversation ideally created with clever images and a snappy caption rather than paragraphs of text. On image orientated sites like Tumblr and Pinterest you’ll want the images and video to be interesting and good enough for people to share and re-blog – you want to give them away! Never heard of these sites? Take a look as they are starting to fly now as news and editorial begin to adopt them widely, and on YouTube you’ll want your channel to be interesting, quirky and funny to attract views. All of these things have the potential to drive traffic to each other and, critically, to your website and contact page. Many image sharing portals permit post scheduling and automatic cross posting to your other platforms either within the site or via software like Hoot Suite so the workload is minimised.
You (or your marketing) need ready access to the library to because tweets and posts just look more interesting with an image or video and it needs to be second nature to post an image so start to think in terms of image and snappy caption rather than text and accompanying picture. I manage my own image library as well as image libraries for companies and organisations (either as a service or additional off site back up) and you would be surprised at how much storage is required for full resolution images. An essential tool at this level, which is often neglected in your own image collection (even if you have them all in the same place!) is key wording, ip protection and just being able to find an image among all the rest of your stuff.
Key wording: digital images can have data and information (called meta data) embedded in them but key wording is meant to be searchable by Google, search engines generally and you. It’s why a Google search for a picture of Elvis retrieves thousands of pictures of the “King” alongside various German Shepherds, goldfish and pianos! No reason at all then then why your website, company name, email and phone number aren’t included?
IP Protection: if the image depicts something that is your intellectual property, a unique design or logo for instance, this should be included in the key wording and other data. The copyright (but no other rights) for the image always resides with the image creator i.e. the artist or the photographer even if it depicts ip material belonging to you and so you need to ensure that there is a level of protection embedded within the image.
Searching: All of the above, together with a few other crucial bits of information, will help you find a particular image amongst all your stuff – you just run a search on something you know is in the keywords e.g. “factory, external”. News images all work on the IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council - www.iptc.org ) convention, which standardises this information for users and you’ll find all of their requirements already built into the meta data sheets in digital cameras or editing software. It gives news users key information such as captions, any model releases obtained times/dates/ shot and image descriptions – very useful if you want to give your images away to editorial.
Accessibility is a crucial part of searching and if you buy in marketing services your images need to be shared, available and searchable. If you use, or are moving over to cloud and away from servers Google Drive and Office 365 still allow you to keep a folder of images available to anyone with the relevant permissions.
David is available to demonstrate and talk about these issues to interested parties and groups.
David Broadbent is a professional photographer with over 30 years of editorial experience now represented worldwide by the Alamy picture agency. As well as fully equipped location work, David also runs Summerhouse Studio, an informal small studio ideal for stills and video of people PR and products, from his home in the Forest of Dean. To see more of David’s work visit www.davidbroadbent.com or his folios on LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. Or to actually talk to another human call him on 07771 664973.
Is your website optimized for mobile viewing?
There's not really any surprises regarding visitor numbers to websites from mobile phones, it’s been on the increase for a few years now and is set to increase for the foreseeable future.
Yet I still come across websites that are not geared up for this and that simply amazes me.
I run three websites and track their progress using google analytics. An average of one in four visitors are from mobile phone users.....thats 25% of your potential customers!
Another thing I have noticed, visitor duration to websites from mobile users is down on average by 66% compared to PC’s and page views down by an average of 45%, so this suggests the importance of ensuring the message, product or information you are promoting is clear and your link is direct to it.
I must stress, I’m no expert in this field but you can’t argue with the facts. I would advise ANY business who has not addressed mobile friendly websites to take professional advice.
Can you sell me?
The word 'advertising' is usually followed by a groan when mentioned within a Business. It is viewed as a costly, time consuming inconvenience to most people so why should you bother?
If you question whether your Business can even be sold to people then the answer is “YES – WE CAN SELL YOU!”
Advertising works and it works well providing you find something that fits you. Explore all options including online directories, phone books, local papers, magazines & national publications. Don't automatically assume that the bigger the cost, the better the service either – always ask for details such as average visitor numbers, publications sold or distributed and look at their reputation. Gather as much information as possible.
Don't be baffled by figures or tied into anything without thinking about it – you may find something better on the next look. Weigh up your options, costs and involvement and find something that you think will give you what you're looking for.
Good advertising works by exposing your details through as many means as possible such as Websites, Social Media and networking. Make sure any Company you use understands what you do and what you want to achieve and be confident that they can help you achieve it.
Next time you question “Can you sell me?” Make sure they say “YES WE CAN!”
For more details about how to advertise with Forest Traders, please see www.foresttraders.co.uk
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