Web Analytics

Lots and lots of websites don’t do this and a lot do. The ones that do use web analytics gain higher sales and conversion but why? And what is it?

Web analytics can be done using several different tools. The most popular being Google analytics and then this can be aided with things like click tail.

The aim is to track users through your website; from where they came from to where they exited. This way, you can see what is working well on your website and what isn’t. Then you can tweak the bad stuff and make it better.

What you can also do is test amendments to see if they increase conversions. Just because you think it’s a wonderful idea doesn’t mean everyone else does!

Things that you would be looking at:

  • Where people come from: direct, search engines, social media or referrals
  • What pages people enter your website on
  • What pages people leave on
  • How long people are on the website
  • How long people are on the pages
  • Are people abandoning the process, if so why? This includes shopping cart abandonment and also form abandonment.
  • Looking at what devices people are using and comparing them to ensure everything is working on mobile all the way through to desktop
  • Are things working in different locations? if you are targeting different countries you might find expectations are different

This list goes on but hopefully from that you can see where this goes. You can use this data, along with experience and knowledge to generate a hypothesis for changes to your website. Then you can run tests and prove your hypothesis and improve your website.

There is a cycle to this and it should keep your website improving all the time. It also helps identify potential issues with the website and helps you remove them before they become big problems.

I hope this high level summary helps you with your website :-)

Hosting – DIY or angency?

This is a topic I hold close to me as I don’t like to appear that I am ripping any on off!

Hosting a website just means holding the files (pages) and pictures for your website on a server (powerful computer) for the world to see.

There are two ways to do it (well there are loads, but these are the most likely two) and they have advantages and disadvantages;

  1. DIY – do it your self – I am not talking about getting a server and sorting it all out, I just mean going direct to a hosting company, buying a package and getting your website put on it. You can use a website like this https://www.tsohost.com/product/web-hosting and the lite package is enough for a website like this one. Which is £15 a year + domain costs (which are around £6 a year depending on domain extension; com, co,uk etc all have different prices). There are easy ways to do this. First you can say to your web design company “please put my website on the appropriate hosting package in my name and make sure we have a direct debit set up so it comes out of my account once a year”. They may charge you a little to do it but once its done you have cheap hosting. The disadvantage to this is you have no local support, you have to phone the hosting company direct with any issue. Normally they are really helpful and even if you went with an agency they would only be doing the same thing! What you will also find is the rubbish agencies will just give you the number of the hosting company if you hit problems but still charge you 5 times the price…
  2. The second option is you leave your web design company to sort it out. This will cost you more. We look to charge around £100 per year for hosting a site like this plus you domain costs. The reason for this is we are your support number, so we have to cover our time. Some local companies charge nearly double that and dont even offer the support so you have to watch where you go and what you get for your money. The advantage is you get local support, the disadvantage is it costs more.

Opening up a hosting account and getting your website onto it is not hard and should not scare you. But when problems hit it could take half a day of your time sorting things out. So you just need to look at it.

I hope this helps, don’t let any web design company rip you off.

Google roles new update out – Penguin 2.0

Has your website been hit over the last few days?

Google rolled out a long awaited update called Penguin 2.0 through the week, if your traffic and search rankings dipped the chances are this was the reason.

What would cause you to be caught up in this update? Generally speaking bad links, both from bad websites and heavy keywords in anchor text.

Not sure why you are caught up? Have you used an SEO company in the past and not know what they where doing? Have you dabbled with links in the past? If so this could be the reason.

We have experts to hand to examine your website and tell you the root cause. Pop us an email and we can help.

Our new design

Check out the site, let us know your thoughts and feelings about our new design…

We have tried to make a very friendly but informative website and will continue to add content. We want it to be warm and welcoming, not to formal and scary!

Share your views, its always great to see what people are thinking.

Think About the Future

When thinking about a website you need to think about what your business might be doing in 6 months, a year or even 3 years as you want to keep costs as low as possible.

Its hard I agree, you never know what’s round the corner but you can make some educated guesses. If you cover your bases early it will cost you less in the long run and give your users a better experience when they are on your website.

By looking into the future you may find some key items that could really give your website the edge, this exercise could be more worthwhile than you think.

An example; you are a service company and you supply spare parts as a side line for existing customers. You don’t make money on the spare parts, just on the service side. So you think about what the future may hold… why not get the customers to order the parts online, taking the admin from you and freeing up your time. You could build this into your website so everything’s in one place. This would up the cost of your website but think of the time you would save.

Processes would need to change and some clients would need their hand held but long term this could free your hours up for new clients and more business.

You also need to think about how people will find the website and how they will use it, there is little point having an unused website. How will they find the website;

  • Google
  • Social Media
  • Adverts online
  • Adverts offline
  • Adverts in store
  • Leaflets
  • Newspaper mentions
  • etc.

How will you get the exposure in these environments? Will you use existing resource or use a contractor? You need to think about budgets, skill sets and also objectives.

Then what will they use the site for? looking at an online catalogue, finding contact details, ordering products? The list is endless but you need to really think about what you want. As you don’t want to get a website that does to much as you will be wasting money and at the opposite end of the scale you don’t want a website that looks like a 3 year old has built it (saying that I bet some 3 year olds could build a decent website these days :-) )

This article is designed to open your mind to different concepts and ideas, show you that you actually need to sit down and do some research, no one else can do that for you. A consultant can guide you but at the end of the day its your decision and you money.

Happy website building…

WordPress and Website Design

WordPress, as many people know, is primarily a blogging platform. You get a domain, launch wordpress and get to blogging. But is that all WordPress has to offer?

The answer in one simple word is no.

What is possible with wordpress?

  • Information websites
  • directories
  • ecommerce
  • online applications
  • and more…

The list of plugins are endless and the amount of ways it has been used it unbelievable.

So why is WordPress so popular? In my opinion its because it is so easy to use. In the content management end of the system you just click away and get loads of things done that you would expect to need a developer for. Things like;

  • adding contact forms
  • adding captcha
  • adding a gallery
  • changing the design
  • adding Pay Pal functionality

and loads more.

So what does WordPress cost? To use and install the system is free, what costs money is the additional stuff, well some of it. You can get a whole host of free templates (designs), applications/plugins and loads of free tutorials. The costs comes when you want someone else to set it up for you or you need bespoke stuff as you need to pay them for their time. But its far cheaper than other types of websites as its so quick. Also you don’t need to pay developer costs for most things, a junior can do it. Making the hourly costs cheaper.

We love it, we use it and we recommend it for lots of solutions. As always its not for every solution but it works for most…

 

Getting the correct website

Often you go to a developer and say please build me a website. But what does this mean in 2 years time when you need to upgrade the website?

Most websites are build on a pre-built platform these days, whats the point in re-inventing the wheel? It keeps costs down and allows for ready to use functionality. If you know it or not your website is probably on one of these platforms.

They include;

  • WordPress
  • Drupal
  • Magenta
  • Joomla

Just to name a few. Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages but the key for you is which one do you want your website on?

If you have a developer to hand then Drupal would be a good option, solid platform and once developed on you can more or less do anything. If you want to do some of the work or even all the work then go with WordPress. Its really easy to use and if you need to make the site more complex in the future than a develop can easily do that.

What you want to avoid is going with a platform or solution where once its built it has to be re-built to cope with huge changes. You want to future proof yourself as much as possible. A good developer will be able to asses you needs and potential expansion and suggest the correct platform.

There is only ever one reason to do it from scratch and that is if you want a very small bespoke, static website or you want something so bespoke and unique that it would be quicker from scratch. Everything in the middle would be easier, quicker and gain better results done in a platform that already exists.

On top of this you already have the advantage of read to use functionality. Spam filters, forms, templates, applications and more. You also have the advantage that as people develop further they share it with the community. And on top of that the platform gets regular updates.

So when you next thing about having a website built, ask the questions to the company you chose. What are you building, on what platform and is it future proof.

Web Design and Bounce Rate

So you have a wonderful website design but no enquires? May be it is not so wonderful after all.

What makes design good?

  • Looks – this is a key feature to design, it has to look correct and meet the users expectations.
  • Usability – the person coming onto the website needs to be able to easily use it. With out the site functioning as expected it will not get used

Next up bounce rate – this is simply how many people hit your website and leave in a very short period of time. If this is high then it is a good indication that one of the following is wrong;

  1. Your web design is not working well with the users
  2. The content needs improvements
  3. You have loading issues on your page
  4. Your website does not load in certain browsers

There are lots more reasons but this covers some main ones. Use Google analytics to check this out. You want a bounce rate less than 55%, ideally about 45%. If its less then great, well done.

How does design influence peoples decision to leave the website?

  • If you open a page and don’t see content then people often think there is none and leave. People don’t like to scroll.
  • If the page loads and the design is not set up to work on smaller screens or different browsers for example it can look strange and so people leave
  • If you have thrown your design together and its a bit of a mess then it will look like a spam site and people will leave.
  • If your design looks like a children’s website when its a funeral directors people will hit the site and think they are in the wrong place and leave

I think you get the picture. It all has to pull together.

Just because a graphic designer put your website together it does not mean its great. They have to understand usability and websites. Something that looks great for a book does not necessarily work on a website.

User testing is a great way to get feedback about your website. Get independent people to look at website and gather their views. You can get independent companies to do this for you. You can then use the data to make last tweaks before putting it live.

There is more to website design than graphic design :-)

I Need A Website – do you?

I hear many people say I must have a website, I need to get one. Sit back and think, do you really need one? The answer will probably be yes in most cases but you need to consider the following;

  • What is the objective to having one? If it is just because you think you have to then you may be in to lose a few thousand pounds on something never to be used
  • What will you do with it once its live? If you do nothing, it will also do nothing.

Typical objectives to having a website are;

  • To help people easily find your company information
  • To allow customers to view stock
  • To allow people to purchase from the website
  • To gain exposure to potential customers
  • For online marketing

What do you need to do to your website once its live?

  • Update the content
  • Tell people it is there
  • Marketing – this can be done through paid advertising, search marketing, social media, content marketing
  • Update stock where appropriate

A lot of companies will come to you and try to sell you a website. When I go to a new client I do the opposite in some respects. I find out what the client actually needs. In a lot of cases in the Borders you just need a very simple yet very attractive website. Just because you are a shop does not mean you need an ecommerce website. Because if you are not going to promote and marketing it through pay per click and search engine optimisation you are wasting your money.

An ecommerce website that is not properly pushed will sit static and not get used. So you have wasted the extra £1000-3000 difference you spend when you could have had a nice simple website that you would have gained as much benefit from.

If you do it properly and research your market you may find that the investment is worth it online and you push an ecommerce, that’s great and you can make a fortune from it. Just make sure its the correct thing to do. You can get really good feasibility studies done that will tell you if its worth doing for around £400-900 depending on the complexity and the company doing it. (Be careful though some companies will just repeat words from a text book and you wont gain any benefit from it.)

In conclusion you probably do need a website, its just the type of website you need to think about and what you are going to do with it. You can’t put a website up and expect it to do all the work for it, it takes time money and resource to get it done properly.

Marketing in and Around The Scottish Borders

People hear the words marketing and often just think;

  1. newspaper
  2. radio
  3. magazines
  4. events
  5. trade shows

What about online marketing? Actually getting sales from your website. There are lots of ways to do it, you basically take the offline methods and do them electronically;

  1. instead of news pagers and magazines you have blogs and directories
  2. instead of radio you have you tube
  3. instead of evens you have social media
  4. instead of people walking past the shop you have Google

The massive benefit to online is the amount of people you can get to – it’s much much bigger than traditional methods. Think about Google for example. How many people type in your product/service into Google everyday? Lots probably. Does your website show up for the correct search terms? If you don’t know you should ask a local SEO company and they will tell you. (Don’t use a development company or a company a million miles away, use a good local SEO consultancy.)

So marketing your website online sounds great but is it for you? The bottom line with it is it does not come free, like any advertising. You have to pay to be listed in certain places or get experts to help get you listed in other areas. Like traditional advertising, you get out of it what you put it. If you go to loads of trade shows and networking events then you are going to expand more than sitting in the office. Its the same online, the more hours you put to it the better the results.

Its all about quality and balancing your traditional with your website marketing. Its worth the investment.

There is very little point spending any money on a website unless you are going to market it, its like opening a shop and not telling anyone its open. The door is not locked but no one knows they can come in or where you are.

Marketing your website can often save a business from administration. Its hard times at the moment and shops are not doing great. So get some sales online to start making the profits you used to make. Its all do able with the correct strategy.

Don’t forget though you need a nice website, as if your website is horrible it makes your business look horrible and so no one will buy from you. Your website has to match the image and marketing message that you want your business to portray.

Let us know your thoughts.