Posts Tagged Web Design and Development

Creating Killer Call-To-Actions for your Website

Possibly one of the most common occurring themes for the majority of Irish websites is the lack of strong “call-to-actions�.

Having great call-to-actions one of the most effective (yet often overlooked) ways in which you can get people to interact with your website visitors. In a nutshell, call to actions make the visitors on your website “do something�. So if you want the person visiting your website to do something, tell them!

Personally, I don’t think you need to read the many studies that show how effective a strong call to action can be to realise that they can greatly improve the response from the visitors to your website. For me it’s quite obvious that by constantly making it clear what you want the person to do when they are on your website, will have an effect.

Developing strong call to actions are not rocket science, but in saying that, you should spend sometime thinking about what you want the button to do and how you will achieve it. Here are three simple steps to help you build a killer call to action:

Colour
The easiest way to make a call to action jump off a page is to emphasise it with colour. There are studies that suggest red, yellow and orange are the best colours to use for many different reasons, but the general rule of thumb should be that it stands out from the background.

Wording
Setting aside time to research what wording is best for your call to action could prove time well spent. If you want someone to do something, tell them this. For example don’t be afraid to say “Click here to…â€?. Think hard about the effect the wording you are using will have on someone. In reality you should try some split testing to see what wording works best.

Placement
We all know that it’s hard to gauge exactly how small or big the screen of the person visiting your website actually is, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of research to find out what the majority of people on the web are using. Choose your optimum resolution and ensure that all (or those most important) call to actions appear “above the foldâ€?. In other words, make sure the user doesn’t have to scroll to see your call to action.

And the only way to finish off this post is to say… test, play, experiment and test again!

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Need a web designer? Things you should look out for…

In the past, when fax machines were in mass use… if your business didn’t a fax number, no-one took you seriously. Nowadays, the same can be said about a company without a website. If any company is serious about succeeding, they must have a website. Unfortunately, web design is a lot more complex than plugging in a fax machine and waiting on it to ring.

It is essential that your business website conveys the correct message that will help with the promotion of your business. Whether that is just a simple brochure website that details your services, phone number and opening hours or if you require something a little more advanced like a fully blown eCommerce system, at the very least, it should add value to your business. And the best way to make sure you are getting the best from your web presence is to find the right web designer.

I think it’s fair to say, Web Designers are a strange breed. Everyone seems to know one and has had OR heard of a bad experience with a web designer. Web designers are notorious for falling off the face of the earth, never to be heard from again. Many leave businesses stranded with websites that they can’t even make the simplest of changes. Others are left with designers who charge the sun, moon and stars for the tiniest of changes to a web page. Well unfortunately it is a very common situation. But there is a common reason for this.

In many cases web designers are highly under valued in terms of the work they do. The reality is that most people don’t actually understand how long it takes to make changes to a website. Although many changes are a simple task (to someone who knows) – most of the time, they are still quite time consuming tasks.

If you ask an electrician for an hour of his time to get your electricity back on, you’d probably be happy to spend €90 for this privilege. But with a web designer, someone who sits at a computer screen all day and “presses a few buttons”, paying them €90 for this seems quite outrageous. Especially when as far as you can see, you just want them to move an image to the other side of the screen.

The reality is that many web designers have plenty of work and can’t be bothered working for someone who refuse to value the work involved in getting your “small change” done. A lot of these cheap web designers come straight out of college or initially started working for you as a nixer. Getting that extra bit of cash is great in the early days. But as soon as they try and make a living out of it, they quickly realise that it’s really not worth it. It doen’t take long to realise that the time spent on your project, would be better spent working for McDonalds, because quite simply, they’d earn a lot more money and get more respect from people enjoying that Big Mac meal than having to listen to constantly justify the bill for the work they have done on your website.

If you are only starting out on the road to web success, you should really read this article to get an idea of the typical situation a web designer endures on a near daily basis : http://www.27bslash6.com/p2p.html – if you think you will easily be able to find the best web designer for your website for next to nothing, think again. The good ones simply don’t come cheap!

Here’s another few tips on choosing the right web designer for your business.

  1. Don’t judge the book by its cover
    The first thing most people do when searching for a web designer is look at the company’s portfolio. Although this will give you a good idea of what kind of work they produce, a lot of a web designers work is client driven. Web designers tend to work on the edge of the latest design fashions. They create websites every day and are therefore ahead of most clients taste in terms of design. Generally speaking the clients drive the style they want and most web design companies will give the clients exactly what they want (to a certain extent!).

    However, good web designers will work with the client and help them understand how best to interact with your website visitors. If you find navigating websites on their portfolio to be poor, chances are that they are too.

  2. Clear Communication
    We come across a lot of disgruntled customers who were unhappy with their last web designer. Not because they were bad at their job, but because they didn’t listen to the client and understand their requirements. A lot of web designers have a clear idea of how a website works and believe one size fits all, which it clearly doesn’t. If your web designer doesn’t share the same vision as you, it’s unlikely to be a good working relationship – so don’t waste your time trying to convince them to your way of thinking. Get someone on the same level.
    There is also a major we like to call “feature creep”. This is where the initial brief for the project changes as the project progresses. In most cases they are minor and a lot of the time the web designer will take the hit without any complaints. However, if these requirements grow or change on a number of occasions, that can seriously dent the web designers motivation to complete the project and therefore the the relationship can become soured. To avoid this, make sure you are 90% clear from the outset as to what you’d like to achieve and let the web designer advice you on the best possible way to approach the rest.
  3. Listen & Learn from their experience
    There’s nothing worse from a web designers perspective than to hear “I read that… so we should really do this”. If the web designer is worth their weight in gold, they would have been around the block and heard this numerous times from their clients.

    This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t question your designer – in fact, it’s the quite opposite. You should constantly ask your web designer for their advice. They will be glad to give it as they will feel happier that they can put their ideas into action and use your website as a great portfolio example.  They work everyday in this business and they have seen what does and doesn’t work.

    Always remember that a lot of what you read is already out of date in terms of web design and web marketing. A good web designer will be ahead of the curve and so detailed in his approach to design that he wouldn’t bore you with the details. But he would get great enjoyment out of explain the reason he used a particular font in a particular part of your site! So my adivce to you is to USE your web designers knowledge as much as possible – but make sure you are prepared to listen and change your mind.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing more a web designer really wants from you other than repeat business and a recommendation to potential clients. It is very much in their interest to make your website a success. It’s the successful clients that recommend them on for more work, which in turn puts food on their table.

The right designer will be passionate about every project they are involved in, to ensure its success. If you don’t feel the passion, don’t use that web designer. Find someone who is – but be very careful, like every industry, there are a lot of fly-by-nights. These web designers just want to make a quick buck from you and they never want to hear from you again. They don’t care if the site succeeds, they are making enough quick cash not to care about repeat business.

At this stage, it’s probably best to wish you all the success with your web project and don’t forget that our company offer web design and web development services – so get in touch if you’d like to discuss your web project with us!

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Web design search volume in decline


As the recession hit, most web design companies were busier than they had ever been before. There seemed to be a sudden rush of businesses trying to get online. In the majority of cases it was a knee-jerk reaction to prop up their falling incomes. During the latter half of 2009, this sudden rush seemed to have abated. There are many stories flying around that some of the major web design companies in Ireland are hanging on by the skin of their teeth and offering well below cost websites in order to generate some sort of cash flow.

Although they say that 99% of all statistics are made up, it’s still worth looking at some… :)

Google Trends is a great tool for researching keyphrase search popularity over a number of years of traffic on Google. So I used this tool to run a few searches on terms relating to web design to see if it could paint any sort of picture of what the state of the web design is in.

Web Design Search Stats - Google Trends

As you can see from above graph, the search term “web design” has been on a massive decline since the recording of the statistics began. Interestingly, if you take a close look at the latter quarter of 2009, you can also see a steady decline in searches for “web design”.

December is generally a slow time for new business in web design terms, so there are no surprises when you see the massive dips in searches across all years. Also quite interesting, is the steady performance of the term “website design”. In fact, there’s possibly a slight growth in searches for this term throughout 2009.

Does this mean that the web design industry has finally entered the recession with everyone else?

Only time will tell I guess…

Looking at the other side of our business; online marketing, it appears to be performing quite well. There is an obvious increase in searches for “SEO” – everyone seems to know what it is now or at least know someone that fancies themselves as one. There is a decline in searches for “Internet Marketing” though, maybe a phrase that has been lost to the popularity of “SEO”.

Although it’s hard to see from this graph, there has been a surge in searches for “Social Media Marketing“, which started showing up on the radar in 2007. No surprises there, since it’s the latest and greatest buzz word on the planet!

Online Marketing Search Trends

We’ll never get a true picture of the web design or online marketing industry from statistics like this. For example, the searches for “SEO” are being diluted by people trying to figure out how to market their own websites rather than actually looking for those services. None-the-less it’s interesting reading for anyone in or trying to get into this industry.

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Athlone Web Design Company

 

SIERRA MADRE, CA - MAY 29:  Spam, the often-ma...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Regardless of what business you are in, there’s always someone willing to go the extra mile to lower the tone, quality and image of the industry.  None more so than the web industry.  Spamming the Internet is easier than any other form of marketing – it’s free, easy and only takes a short amount of time.

Fortunately, most professional web design companies, don’t lower themselves to these tactics because they either don’t need to or prefer to distance themselves from such tactics to avoid damaging their brand. None-the-less, there is always one shady company hanging around the corner waiting for an opportunity to pounce. It really irks me to see companies pass themselves off as being “professional web design companies”, when they resort to these spamming tactics.

Let’s face it, using the word “Professional” is probably one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book. It says it as it is. Just because these companies offer a lower quality of work does not mean they are not professional in other ways, therefore, it’s hardly false advertising. The bit that gets me is when they try to pass themselves off as being as good as the next or largest web development company in the country. The simple fact is that those regarded as the best among their peers have never resorted to such tactics to get where they are today.

BenDunne.com has been flooded with spam since it went free (until the 18th of December) and in every category, there is a web design company offering cheap and nasty web solutions. Why Unnamed Web Design (company) think that posting adverts with pictures of kittens, puppies motorbikes and even wads of cash will help make anyone decide to use them is beyond me. But to think that they call themselves professional when they need to resort to tactics like this is just well beyond belief.

 

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Ben Dunne’s TenderMe.ie – is it worthwhile?

If you had listened to NewsTalk 106 at all over the past couple of months, you will remember being bombarded by adverts for Ben Dunne‘s latest and greatest project – TenderMe.ie.

TenderMe is a system that allows anyone to go online, enter information on work you need done, whether it be office equipment or computer repairs and receive quotes to your email from a number of different suppliers who want your work.

Within days of the first advert being aired on the radio, people were buzzing about TenderMe.ie – nearly every person I met asked me about it or recommended that I try it.

Because of the exposure the site was getting I felt that I would be mad not to know about this site and how it functions. I didn’t believe the type of clientele my company works with would look or use this site, but I’m always open to being proven wrong! So off I went and signed up for an account to receive alerts on the types of job requests that I was interested in.

Within minutes of signing up – I was getting emails notifications (and quite regularly) of people looking for eCommerce websites, Content Managed Websites and even basic brochure type websites. I have to say, some of them (from their headline tag) looked like they could be nice projects for a company like ours. That was of course until you went to the website to read more detail. Only then would you realise, that there really was no description of these jobs at all. Well if you call “A company website selling products” a description of what is required, fair enough… but for the type of business we do, that’s just not enough to give anyone an accurate quote.

As it was only €3 to respond to a tender, I thought I’d do a few tests to see what kind of response I could get. My idea was to quote from two different types of suppliers – one a professional web design company and a few from a cheap and nasty type web design company. After spending €18 and quoting prices lower than any other possibly could, I didn’t once receive a response. I honestly didn’t expect a response to an average quote from a professional web design company at professional rates, but I did expect a response to the cheaper quotes. If people were looking for a good deal, they couldn’t have got any better as far as I was concerned.

It left me wondering whether these job postings were really legit or was it just Ben (or his staff) making up jobs tenders in order to fill the site with content or worse still… to line his pockets?

I do believe TenderMe.ie could be a useful service if there was a bit more transparency. Take for example Adverts.ie – they don’t let you make private offers, you must do everything in the open where everyone can see. This approach makes it very clear to everyone who is participating where they stand and whether or not they are getting a good deal. This approach would definitely reduce the money going into TenderMe.ie’s bank account initially – but the more people can trust the service, the more they will use it. This is something that Ben and his team have clearly missed.

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