The Action Plan
This page is part of our Knowledge Base area and has all the information that appears in Area 2 so visitors can easily download or print the information in one go.
Please use the menu to the left to go to the section of area three you are interested in.
Knowledge Base Area 2
In this area we cover the processes and information you should have before you hire a website design and development company or start an in-house design project. Understanding the aspects that go in to developing a professional looking, search engine friendly website that will achieve maximum results will have you starting off on the right foot. We have found that many companies and small businesses go through several website designs over a two to five year period before they learn the lessons that this area will provide. Website design is not as simple as putting together a good looking website a loading it on to the web, what is the point of having a great looking website that nobody can find?
Should I develop my own website?
If money is an issue you may be asking yourself 'Should I develop my own website?' Whilst this may seem the cheaper option initially you also need to consider how much this will actually cost you. If you are starting up a business you will already have a million and one things to do such as making contacts, setting up bank accounts, ordering stock and so on. Building your own website can be time consuming and may therefore cost you more in the long run.
There are advantages to designing your own website though as you alone know exactly how you want it to look and communicating this to another person may be difficult. However you must also remember it is not just a case of having a website that looks great, it also has to be easy to find, easy to use and functional. Visitors to your website need to be able to navigate the site without issue, find the product or service they want and if possible purchase them online, otherwise you risk them going elsewhere.
You may have the skills required to design a great looking website, but how will a search engine rank your site, will it show up in the search engine result pages for your targeted audience? We advise you do extensive research before attempting to develop a website yourself, if you are under the impression that putting a list of keywords in the websites meta data you will show up for them words then you have a long way to go. Google hasn't used the keywords meta tag for nearly ten years and it has no impact on your websites listing. See our sections on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for more details.
So maybe the question is not 'Should I develop my own website?' but 'Can I develop my own website?' You need to honestly decide if you have the time and level of competency required to undertake such a project yourself and whether you can develop a website that will stand up well against your competitors. If they answer is no you would be advised to seek the help of a professional.
Do I need an e-commerce website?
As you already know every business is different and just because you have something to sell, it does not mean that ecommerce is the best option for your business. If your business retains its customers because of the 'hands-on' service you offer there is no point wasting your time and money on implementing an ecommerce website.
Similarly if the product or service you offer is customised to individual needs then you may need to stick with selling face-to-face or over the phone. Or you may want an advertising and marketing website where people can learn more about your company and what you offer without the need for them to feel pressured into buying your products or services online.
However if you are selling products that only need to be seen and have a description using ecommerce could be the option for you. It could potentially bring you a lot of business as it allows people from all over the world to purchase your products at any time of day or night, without you having to incur the expense of additional salary costs. Effectively it means you can trade 24/7 and you will never have to turn a customer away!
There is also money to be made on 'impulse buyers'. According to research (Link to PDF) impulse purchases represent up to 40% of all the money spent on e-commerce sites. The discussion of whether this is driven by price or the design of the website continues, either way such high percentages of spend cannot be ignored.
There is also the option of PayPal buttons and shopping carts, if you only have a small selection of products that would be purchased from your website you can install PayPal buttons that have set values for each item. When a visitor clicks the 'Buy Now' button they are directed to PayPal and have the option of paying through PayPal or with a credit card. Once payment is made they are directed back to your website and you use your PayPal account to receive the required information. This option does not require a ecommerce data base or any monthly fees (apart from PayPal fees).
Do we need Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
There are many ways to reach a target audience, and a good online marketing strategy includes several methods. A website should be an integral part of any marketing strategy, and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a key element in online marketing.
Having a 'presence' on the Internet is not sufficient as this will not drive traffic, leads or sales. Your website has to compete and outdo your competitors. If you are not using Search Engine Optimisation to market your website, you are surrendering leads to those who are.
Unlike TV, radio or magazine advertising, which will 'target' a broad demographic; Search Engine Optimisation specifically targets the people who already have an interest in the products and services you provide. These searchers are the 'low-hanging fruit' of your target market; effectively they are pre-qualified warm lead as they have taken the time and trouble to search for what you are offering. This is why online marketing has the lowest cost-per-lead and therefore a greater ROI compared to other forms of advertising.
You should also be aware that your target market is forming impressions of your industry all the time and these impressions are formed in part by the major search engines, which are seen as an authority on your company's leadership in the field. The audience relates high search engine ranking to brand reputation. If your brand is not visible in the organic SERP's (Search Engines Result Page) you will not be perceived to be a market leader.
In short, by failing to use Search Engine Optimisation, you are conceding a competitive advantage to others.
Do we require a Content Management System (CMS)?
This will depend on the size of website you are developing. If you want a content management system to enable you to update simple content and pictures within a template page then a CMS may be the way to go. However if you intend to use the content management system for anything more complex than this you need to take in to consideration what internal expertise you have and whether this resource has the capacity to add this work to their current workload.
Whilst at first glance it may look as though a CMS is the cheaper option, the more complex tasks such as managing the structure of your website or managing your search engine optimisation (SEO) can be labour intensive and will require additional design and set up fees.
So maybe the questions you actually need to ask are as follows:
Are you really saving money if it takes your inexperienced internal resource twice as long (if not longer) to do the job as it would a professional?
Do you have the time and resources available to keep your website up-to-date on an on-going basis?
What is the actual benefit to being able to make changes to your website in house vs. the risk of damaging your SEO efforts, and therefore your online marketing strategy?
Orb Web Development are happy to work on a per hour basis at a low rate for existing customers and what may take you half a day in-house could take us a little as half an hour.
How do I choose a website development company?
As with any large purchase you should carefully research a company before you instruct them to develop your website. Factors you should take into consideration include:
Expertise: Do they have the skills required to develop the website you want? This will of course depend on the complexity of the website in question, however you also need to think of future development and ensure the web development company you chose is capable of fulfilling your requirements.
Previous Projects: Review the web developers own company website as well as their portfolio of recent projects and ask yourself…
Is there a good look and feel to the website?
Are they easy to navigate?
Do they give you enough information about the products and services on offer?
Would you buy from these companies?
You can also request references from previous clients to help you in making your decision.
Optimisation: If a customer cannot find you in the top search engine results there is not much point in having a website. A good website development company will know all of the tactics to be used for search engine optimisation as well as those not to be used! An optimised website will help your business to get a good rank in the search engines.
Customer Service: Support will vary from company to company, some may offer 24/7 support whilst others may have no time for after sales service. Be sure to choose a company that suits your requirements and one that is not so busy with their current customers that they do not offer support to their past customers.
Cost: Just as skill sets will vary so too will the cost of a website development project. You should make sure you have a clear idea of your requirements and have a budget in place. You then need to choose a web development company that best meets your business needs.
Most importantly the developer you choose should value your business. They should listen to what you want and understand what your business wants to achieve and they must have the ability to create a website that truly reflects the message your business wants to convey online.
How can we maximise website traffic?
There has been a great deal written about this and the list of things you can do is extensive. Here are a few processes we would recommend to get you started:
Search Engine Optimisation: The most important strategy is to rank as highly in the organic listings in the search engine results pages (SERPs) as possible. Your web pages should be created for optimal indexing, focus on your target keywords and be search engine friendly i.e. try not to use Java script and Flash as search engines cannot read them very well.
Google PPC Adwords Marketing: Google's Pay Per Click advertising will see your website listed at the top of Google's result pages for your selected keywords and phrases. You pay a set amount for each time a visitor clicks on your add and visits your website. Click here for more information on Adwords Management.
Linking Strategies: Submit your site to key directories or Trade organisation sites (if applicable) as these will help boost your page rank. Request reciprocal links to complimentary websites; remember this is about quality not quantity. The search engines use link information to determine what your site is about i.e. who you link to and who links to you.
Social Media: Join the social media communities of Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter etc. The aim is to have people talk about you, bookmark your website or link to your website. All of this will generate traffic and increase your page rank. Also consider creating a business blog, this will need to be updated regularly and contain good content if you want people to link to it.
Publish E-mail Newsletters: Although it can be a little time consuming this is a great way to keep in touch with your customers and develop brand awareness. It also gives you the opportunity to collect email addresses of prospective customers, is inexpensive to distribute and unlike a blog the customer does not have to search you out, they simply receive the newsletter into their inbox.
Marketing Collateral: Make sure all of you marketing collateral, stationery & business cards etc. include your website address.
Refer to Area 4: The marketing for more information
Do we need an online marketing Strategy?
Online marketing is by far the fastest growing advertising method for businesses today. In order to maximise the benefits it is crucial to develop an online marketing strategy that works for your business.
In December 2009 Comscore.com reported that 131 billion searches where conducted from home or the work place. This was 46% more than December 2008 and shows no sign of slowing down.
4 Billion Searches per day, 175 Million searches per hour, 29 Million per minute Online Marketing allows businesses of any size to access the mass market using a targeted approach at an affordable cost, unlike traditional methods such as advertising, direct mail or PR. Technologies such as websites & social networking allow you to keep in touch with your customer base, create brand awareness and sell your goods and services.
Benefits of Online Marketing Lower Cost: An effectively targeted website will reach the right customers at a much lower cost than traditional methods and will deliver a greater ROI.
Improved Conversion Rates: Online marketing is targeted therefore users of your website are already pre-qualified warm leads. A well designed website will assist in making these leads become customers.
Measurable results: Analytics tools enable you to establish how effective your website is by obtaining information on how your customers have used your website and how they have responded.
Methods of Online Marketing
Search Engine Optimisation: This method places your website in the organic listings on search engine result pages (SERPs) which receive an average click through rate of 75% of search engine traffic. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the most effective long term solution to your online marketing strategy.
Adwords and PPC Marketing: These are sponsored links that are found at the top and down the right hand side of the SERP's. The pay per click (PPC) rate is mainly based on the competition for the particular keyword or phrase you have chosen to target i.e. the more competition there is the more expensive it will be, as this is where the bidding begins! Adwords campaigns can be highly profitable if managed by a professional. See our Adwords Management section for more details.
Social Network Marketing: There are millions of people who are looking to meet other people to develop friendships or professional business relationships, look for employment or share first-hand information about all sorts of things such as their experiences, hobbies or interests. There are many social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to name a few. On these social networking sites people can link to others of a similar age, sex or even with the same interests. This enables you to reach a very large targeted audience with your products or services and assists in driving traffic to your website via back links.
Press Releases: Optimising your PR in the correct format can and will enable you to achieve first page on major SERPs for press releases and news feeds at a fraction of the cost of a similar campaign done via Google Adwords for example. To make the most of digital media it is not sufficient to submit a press release with the correct search phrases and keyword density. The campaign should also deliver a consistent message and generate unique content that can be utilised across all media sources. Press releases are also a good way of building quality back links to your website, which will positively influence your page ranking.
Email Marketing: This method is only successful if the quality of the leads being targeted is good. Do not make the mistake of assuming quantity is better than quality as this will prove to be both costly and time consuming with little reward. The most effective use of email marketing is newsletters and memberships. This allows you to communicate with your audience in a personalised and targeted manner.
Should we integrate with social networks?
In todays online market social networking marketing has huge advantages for any business and has become a very powerful and persuasive tool. Social network marketing is becoming increasingly more important in influencing a consumers decision in purchasing products and services online.
Because customers can provide a large majority of the content direct to the social network, you as a company have less control over what is written, and prospect customers view feedback and comments as more trustworthy and are more inclined to purchase from you.
What are social networks? Social networks including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to name a few are online communities of individual people and companies who share common activities and interest. Social networks supply a wide variety of ways for people to interact, including email, blogs, instant messaging and newsfeeds.
When a person or a company joins a social networking site they have to set up a profile for themselves, the profile will include information such as interests, links to friend, photos, video, career and more. This allows for highly targeted marketing and great viral marketing possibilities.
How does social network marketing influence purchasing decisions?
Social network members share opinions with friend and colleagues making recommendations on a wide variety of products and services they have experienced. Research shows that consumers seek and highly value independent recommendation when considering purchasing products and services and the social networks are where this takes place. These opinions are also seen as more objective and trustworthy and hold a far greater value for your business.
Social network marketing is highly viral and powerful as members and friends don't have the information pushed towards them like other forms of advertising; it is referred to them by a trusted friend or associates and is there for far more trustworthy.
Benefits of social network marketing
There are many benefits to social network marketing and they can be gained at a very low cost, these include:
Increasing product & brand awareness: Social network marketing will increase the online presence of your products, services and brand. Many companies now actively use social networks to drive traffic and create brand awareness.
Increase website traffic: Social network marketing is about increasing visitors to your website, as this is where you will sell your products and services. Visitors to your website that come from social networks will be highly targeted and have a positive initial impression of your company, increasing the outcome of a sale.
Improve your websites search engine optimisation (SEO): Social networks are a great way of build one way natural 'backlinks' and improving your search engine optimisation efforts, search engines like Google place a high value on natural backlinks and especially those that come from the larger social networking sites.
Increase success and awareness of new product launches: Social networks provide a platform to inform and receive information on new products and service before launching them. Giving potential customers an input in to the developing of a product will increase their loyalty and increase product success when launched.
Knowing your target audience
When developing a website for your business it has to be designed towards your target audience, having a clear understanding of your visitors age, demographic, interest, search terms used etc. will have a huge impact on your visitor numbers and conversion rates.
The first step is keyword and phrase research, this research will tell you the size of your online market, what your prospective customers type in to a search engine to find your products and services and other vital information. Take a look at our keyword research page for more information.
You have to design the look and feel of your website with your target audience in mind, a fun adventure activity business should have a bright and fun website with lots of adventure pictures and colour, whilst a corporate website is clean and simple using a base of three calm and crisp colours and a few professional corporate images.
Increase your websites conversion rate
The majority of people and businesses make the common mistake of concentrating on visitor numbers to their website and not the percentage of visitors they are converting in to customers.
Many websites struggle to covert visitors in to customers and website owners need the right tools to monitor their websites performance.
A professionally developed website will bring in visitors but it also has to convert them visitors in to customer or your website will still fail to achieve a positive ROI.
Below is a list a tips to help improve your websites conversion rate:
Keyword & Market Research: Do your research; keyword and phrase research will supply you with the right information on what your prospective customers are typing in to a search engine (Google) to find your products and services. This will then help you to develop a website that is highly targeted to your visitor's requirements. Click here for your FREE Keyword research.
Develop Landing Pages: Not all visitors land on your home page, Google Adwords advertising and organic listing will sometimes take searchers directly to the product or services page they are searching for. Knowing what pages visitors are going to land on will allow you to develop that page knowing what that visitor has typed in to Google and what product or service they are trying to purchase.
Call To Actions: Clear call to actions and an easy navigational structure will make it easy for prospective customer to send you their information. General contact form, customer surveys and questionnaires are a great way to get visitors interacting with your company and getting you that all important first foot in the door.
Look & Feel: Your website has to look and feel right, a professional design using the right colours and images will make a visitor feel like you are a market leader selling a quality product.
Special Offers: Special offers and FREE stuff is a great way to start interacting with your visitors and acquiring their contact and business information.
Newsletters & Memberships: Getting visitor to sign up to newsletters and memberships is a great way to keep customers informed of new products, services and special offers.
Google Analytics: Keep track of visitor numbers, time spent on each page, what pages are being visited the most, what keywords and phrase are being used to find your website and much more.
What colour scheme should we use?
Choosing a colour scheme can be more difficult than you may first imagine. Your website is your representation of your business to the world and as we all know colour can dramatically alter our feelings and emotions. This is why it is so important to consider a colour scheme before you start the website development process.
Traditionally the following colours are associated with the feelings shown below:
Red: anger, love, passion, hot
Yellow: happy, bright, warm
Blue: cooling, calming, reassuring ¬ cool to cold, depending on depth and intensity
Green: envy, growth, nature, cool
Black: fear, dark, cold
White: purity, innocence, cool
When choosing your colour scheme you should aim to create a harmonious balance in the visual experience.
If the design is too chaotic the viewer may not be able to stand looking at it as the brain rejects what it cannot understand or organise.
However if the design is under stimulation for the brain the viewer will not be engaged and may get bored.
Both of these scenarios could have visitors leaving your website and looking elsewhere! Colour harmony will deliver a sense of order and visual interest.
How much should we spend on a website?
With more importance being placed on the quality of website development these days, it is not surprising that more and more businesses are asking the question how much should we send on a website? The world has become more internet focused so it is essential for both small and large companies to give themselves the edge by creating professional websites that attract customers and give that all important great first impression.
However there is no simple answer to this question. Website development, as with other types of project based work, has many variables, all of which can add or subtract from the overall cost of the project. The costs can vary greatly depending upon the website features required. Whilst the cost of a basic website has reduced in recent years the need for more interactivity with the customer means the cost of a high-end website remains steady.
Some of the factors which determine website development pricing include:
Number of pages: A website with 100 pages is going to cost more than a 10 page website.
Design: A template design will not cost as much as a custom design website.
Copywriting: This is a crucial element of your website that you may want to write yourself as you are the 'subject expert' and it could save you money.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): Whilst basic SEO is standard with some website development companies you may want additional SEO work as this is the key to reaching your target audience in the search engines.
Other additional features such as flash, e-commerce and a Content Management System (CMS) will also increase the cost of your website.
For an indication of what your website requirements may cost, use our online website calculator. Whilst this is not an exact cost it will give you a ballpark figure to base your budget on.
How to make a website multi browser compatible
You should aim to make your website compatible with all major browsers available, these include but are not restricted to:
Testing the cross compatibility of your website is an absolute must. You may have a preferred browser but your website visitors may not be using the same one and you will drive visitors away if your website does not work in their chosen browser.
To create a multi browser compatible website you should:
Use standard compliant coding.
Do not use proprietary (browser specific) HTML tags and features.
Validate your website pages.
Your website may look slightly different in each browser but the aim is to make sure your website is viewable and that the page format and functionality is not lost.
Newer forms of coding i.e.. CSS3 will work in the latest browsers but older browser i.e.. Internet explorer 8 and lower will not recognise certain parts of the code and may render your website unusable.
Making video a part of your website is a great way to interact with your visitors, letting them meet the team, view products and services or just a fun clip will have your visitor returning to your website and recommending it to their friends and family.
There are two main ways to intergrade video on to your website:
Hosting the video on your website server: You would load all files on to your server and then link to each file through an image or light box etc. There are negative aspect to this option as videos can take up a large amount of space on your server and could be slow loading.
Hosting videos on a third party website: Hosting your video on a third party website i.e.. YouTube is a preferred method for many businesses as this allows you to store all files on their servers and the videos will stream perfectly. These videos can still be embedded in to your website so it's seem that they are part of the site and the visitor doesn't have to navigate away from your site to view the video.
All videos on this website are hosted on YouTube with a light box effect.
Which hosting provider should we use?
There are two types of web hosting available:
A free web hosting provider will cover their cost by imposing advertising on your website. These can be in the form of banners, pop-up windows or an advertising frame. Whichever method is used you should make sure you are comfortable with it before choosing a free hosting provider.
A commercial web hosting provider is what we would recommend for your business website. When choosing a commercial web hosting provider you should consider a number of factors:
Location: Always use a hosting provider in the same country that your business is located. If not you will have a significant impact on your search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts.
Speed and reliability: The provider needs to be fast and reliable otherwise you will lose customers and page rank in the search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). They should be able to guarantee uptime of over 99%. If it falls below this figure you should be entitled to a refund of some sort.
Bandwidth: This is the data transfer that takes place when a visitor browses your website. The hosting provider has to pay for bandwidth so beware claims of 'unlimited bandwidth'. Make sure you know exactly how much bandwidth the package allows to avoid being stung with extortionate costs for 'exceeding' the so called 'unlimited bandwidth'. Your bandwidth requirements will depend on how many videos, galleries, links to files etc. are included in your website.
Disk Space: Again this will depend on the size and type of content of your website. Some hosting providers will offer 500MB or 'unlimited space' however it is unlikely you will ever reach these limits, for example a small website with no videos or galleries etc. will use in the region of 5MB of space.
Technical Support: You should make sure they are technically competent and that they are available 24/7. If your website goes down you do not want to have to wait until after the weekend to get it back up!
Location: Always use a hosting provider in the same country that your business is located. If not you will have a significant impact on your search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts.
With regards to cost, whilst paying a high price for a web hosting company does not guarantee they will provide the best service, it's safe to say if it seems too cheap to be good, it probably is!
Keyword & Phrase Targeting
Targeting the most relevant keywords and phrase will have a huge impact on your websites visitor numbers and conversion rates.
When carrying out keyword research it is easy to find a keyword that is achieving a large number of hits, this doesn't mean you should target that keyword. Keyword research is not only about finding the highest searched keyword but also about finding the most relevant keyword to your products and services.
A more relevant keyword with a lower search number may produce a higher conversion rate, making you more money for less website hits.
Never target or research a single word, this is to vague and will result in a low number of targeted visitors. Always target a two - three word phrase that is highly targeted towards your website products and services.
Google offers a selection of FREE tools and the keyword research tool is one of them, this tool will allow you to see the number of hit a specific keyword or phrase gets from Google searchers per month and year.
Be aware that there are several different setting on all keyword tools and depending on what your business needs are the result can be very different when using the incorrect setting.
If using the incorrect setting some phrase many return results showing thousands of hits per month but when set up right they actually fall to hundreds or in some cases zero. Keyword research is the starting point to any web development project and is the building blocks to your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts therefore we highly recommend you seek some professional help before carrying out your research.