How to evaluate a website proposal

When you have met many web design companies and received their proposals, it’s time to sit down, evaluate the opportunities and make a decision. Every proposal would vary regarding the level of detail, style, and price which could be difficult to compare them side by side. We will give you a list of key points to consider, which will help you to evaluate a proposal from a web design company.

General Criteria and Score

Before we continue, we need to start with setting up a score scale which could be 0 to 5 for example. As zero being the worst and five being the best for the following aspects below.

– Does the proposal addresses any issues and identify your essential requirements? A good clear understanding of your project could save you a lot of time and stress in the future.
– Does the vendor give you specific details and solutions to your business objectives?
– Does the proposal indicate all of the requirements you have requested originally? A detailed, well structure proposal that gives answers to your requests will score higher.

The three general considerations above should give you confidence that the web design company fully understand your requirements and provide you realistic project time frame.

Web Developer Rating

This part could be a bit trickier than the first one. How would you rate the developer technical skills? How would you determine the creativity level of a designer or developer?

The first impression we could get from a web design company it’s their own website. Also, the scale of the projects they have created could build trust and credibility. Another aspect is the proposal or the presentation they have prepared. The effectiveness of their website could give you an indication as well. Try to score these factors, and they will help you with your final decision.

Project Plan and Relevance

– Does the proposal provide details of the steps, process and methodology the vendor is going to use? It’s important the proposal is created in an understandable and clear format so you can evaluate the suggested approach.
– Does the proposal cover all of the essential services to your website, for example, domain, hosting, photography, etc.?
– Does the proposal specify the team for the project? A complete team with the necessary skill set is crucial for a successful project. Make sure you are aware of who the project manager is and coordinate everything with them.

Price

– Are the quote and payment terms within your budget? Compare prices with your initial research and other quotes. Do they differ a lot from each other?
– Does the proposal give you breakdown and details on what’s included? It is essential that the proposal provides a comprehensive breakdown of prices and services. Also, make sure you are aware of the hourly rate of the vendor as that could be important for future interactions with the company.

Wrap-up

In conclusion, evaluating a proposal could be tricky, but if you follow the list above and score the key points accordingly, you will increase your chances of success. One of our recent clients Elite Acoustic carefully evaluated a proposal by Sleeky and trusted us with their new website. Elite Acoustic Solutions is Newcastle based specialist in sound masking products, check out their new website. If you would like to receive a proposal by Sleeky get in touch, we would love to hear from you!

Why should you switch from Wix to Wordpress

According to a WhoIsHostingThis post on WordPress stats, WordPress is the top content management system and 27% of the Internet is powered by it. The next one is Joomla with about 3%. A big difference, isn’t it? Wix takes the 7thplace with and is used by less than 2% of all the websites. There is a good reason (or good reasons) these content management systems are used as they are and today, I’ll be focusing on the advantages of WordPress over Wix.

Flexibility

Being an open source platform, WordPress can be used to create themes or plugins and this can be done by anyone. This is actually the reason there are so many WordPress plugins available. Its flexibility is reflected in the fact that any feature or functionality that might be missing from the basic system can be installed in a few simple steps – all you need to do is find the right plugin and install it.

WordPrss can be used to build all sorts of websites – from personal blog to an ecommerce website. Its enormous customisability is what differs WordPress from Wix, which is pretty limited in terms of customisability.

Cost

A WordPress site can cost from about £45 to several hundred pounds per year. At this price, users get hosting, the domain, a number of plugins, themes. A wix website, with all these included would cost about twice as much.

Of course, there are free versions of both WordPress and Wix, so it is not a question of price, but comes down to the features and plugins included and WordPress has much more to offer when it comes to this.

Website themes

There are several thousand WordPress themes, while Wix offers several hundred themes. And this is not the main advantage WordPress has over Wix – the customisability of themes and editability of the code is what makes WordPress a winner in this case.

Support

WordPress has a community, forums and its own support website, which WordPress users can surf or contact for any questions. Wix, on the other hand, offers a number of documents, manuals and tutorials on the website. If you can not find the answer you are looking for there, you might need to contact their technicians, however, for advanced support questions, Wix offer a premium support package at additional cost.

SEO

Both WordPress and Wix offer SEO optimized websites, however, the websites built on WordPress are better ranked on search engines. Also, WorPress offers a number of SEO plugins and SEO is the main reason Abbey Masterbatch Ltd, masterbatch suppliers offering black, white & additive & colour masterbatch decided to switch from Wix to WordPress, which proved to be a good decision.

Conclusion

Depending on the goals and budget, different content management systems can be a good choice. The above are just a few advantages WordPress has over Wix and this is why we advise our customers to choose WordPress.

Why you need a fast loading website

Given that a fast loading website is a must nowadays, one might think that there are no slow loading websites or that there are just a few. But unfortunately, this is not the case, and you would be surprised to find out how many websites fail on this test. Website loading speed does not affect your online traffic only, it is also very important for your sales and even brand. Here are a few important reasons for having a fast loading website.

 

 

User experience

User experience is not only a perfect arrangement of your website elements, call to action buttons, white space, images, etc..These are important indeed, but what could be more important to user experience than the ability to obtain the information they are looking for quickly?

Visitor engagement

Visitor engagement is an important element of the user journey and we all know that human attention spans are short and are said to be getting even shorter. According to a 2013 blog post by Apica, the human attention span is only 8 seconds. Can you imagine the damage that slow loading speed can do to website user engagement and not to mention online traffic and conversions?

Conversion rate

If a visitor can not visit the website pages due to slow loading speed, I can’t imagine they will sign up for trial, contact you for a quote or do whatever you set as a conversion goal. Consequently, the conversion rate will drop and this can be fixed in a few very simple steps of which I will talk about in another blog post.

SEO

It is no news that loading speed affects website’s SEO rankings. If you run a check on your website’s SEO on any engine on the internet, load speed will be one of the requirements that your website will either meet or not. Search engines, just like people, like speed, they rank fast loading websites better and that’s a fact!

 

I have recently worked with 2 companies, helping them optimize their website speed: Abbey Masterbatch Ltd, major manufacturer and supplier of a range of thermoplastic masterbatch, particularly black, white, colour and additive masterbatch and ACS Installations – the leading specialists in air conditioning installations, repairs and maintenance. If you need help with this, you know where to find me 🙂 .

How to get the most out of your Social Media presence?

Finally, you have your website, and you are excited to show it to the world! One of the most effective ways to attract visitors and new clients is being on Social Media. There are so many social networks you could join and attract new followers. The opportunities are enormous, but that brings a lot of questions – where to start from, what type of posts to make, how often to update your accounts, etc.

To make the most out of your social media presence you need to have a clear plan, what you would like to achieve, have a timescale and measure the right indicators. In this blog, we will give you some ideas on how to utilise the networks effectively, plan a campaign and achieve great results. At the end of the day managing successful online presence it’s time-consuming and requires a commitment, so make sure you read this before you rush into it.

1. Choose your Social Media platform

Before you start, it’s essential to do some research on which social networks would work best for you. You might need to ask yourself a few questions: Who is your customer?, Where can you find them?, What do they do online? Having the answers to these questions will lead you to the appropriate network. If you are still not sure, it’s always a good idea to start with the three main ones – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

2. Speak the language

Every community has it’s own traditions, habits and a certain way of doing things. That’s usually being described as a culture – it might be the culture at your workplace or at the sports club. It all comes to those little differences, unique ways to express yourself and the language you use in a specific environment. That’s valid to the social networks as well, so make sure you customise your social posts, speak the language and treat every platform as a separate project. In some social networks, you will need to make short and sharp posts, other will rely heavily on the visual content, but if you follow the rules, you can dramatically increase your chances for success.

3. Create content that reflects your brand

As mentioned above customising your content it’s essential, and that doesn’t stop with using the right language. We have warned you it’s not an easy job! You need to put the efforts and come up with unique and fresh content regularly. Offering exclusive content available only to your followers will help you build a high quality and meaningful network. The social media posts you make needs to reflect your branding, marketing strategy and be consistent. At the same time, you need to be careful with talking too much about yourself and not giving anything away. The balance should be between providing valuable and engaging content to your visitors while promoting your business.

4. Use social media to interact with your customers

Social Media it’s a fantastic tool that gives you the opportunity to communicate with your customers and receive instant feedback, which you can use later to improve your business. Ensure that you are using the platforms wisely, as it could be an excellent source for building credibility and express your brand personality. One way to do that is creating contests and giveaways which will encourage people to write about your business, recommend it to friends and be your ambassadors. Another effective way to engage prospects and clients is to show appreciation to existing customers. That works really well with businesses that provide any services and could also showcase their work.

5. Build a quality network

Many businesses are fighting for numbers rather than quality. Being more strategic in your approach will give you better results even with a smaller audience. Build your network by following your business contacts, clients, prospects, vendors, business associated, and many of them will follow you back. Also, a great way to target a specific audience is to boost your Social Media posts. You will need to allocate some budget for that, as you need to pay to promote your accounts within social networks.

wrap-up

Social Media could do wonders for your business, no matter how small or big is. Managing successful social media accounts it takes time, effort and consistent work, but it’s definitely worth it. You can check out Spectrum Agency, a modelling company that has a very diverse portfolio. They actively use social media networks like Facebook, and Instagram not only to promote its company but also attract new unique models. An excellent feature Spectrum Agency uses is the Instagram feed on their website, which automatically updates based on their Instagram profile.

If you would like to add any of these cool features, link your website with your social accounts or just need help with your social media presence we would be happy to help your business grow.

5 ways to drive more traffic to your website

Every company’ mission statement probably says that they do everything with only one goal – to provide what’s best for their customers, I am sure. However, I am also sure that their primary goal is to HAVE the customers that they will work for, make happy or create products for, and of course – sell to. There, I said it, but I do not mean it in a bad way. Customer is king, a business without customers is no business at all and before making customers happy, every business needs to attract them.

 

analyst-analytics-blur-106344

 

Website optimisation

Website optimisation is the first step every business should take to build their online presence. A website needs to offer a simple navigation, look good and comply with SEO rules, otherwise, the website will end up on who knows what page of search engines and won’t get any hits or visits.

Content optimisation

Content optimisation could be considered a part of website optimisation but I listed it as a separate item due to its importance. Why is content so important? There are two main reasons and the first of them is customers – website content needs to be well written and provide the necessary information, conveying the right message to the visitors (potential customers). And, it also needs to use the right keywords for the sake of better ranking on search engines. When both goals are achieved, when the content is optimised both for search engines and people, we can move on to the next step.

Mobile optimisation

The volume of mobile searches is constantly increasing, it is happening every minute. For that reason, search engines tend to rank responsive websites better. Such websites also get longer visits which additionally improves the rankings, ensuring even more future visits. When building a website for J3 Building Solutions Limited, a leading building and construction company based in Newcastle Upon Tyne, we strongly recommended mobile optimisation and the client listened, which was an important preparation for the future SEO work for this company.

Page load speed optimisation

It is needless to say how important the page load speed is. Imagine yourself visiting a website and eagerly looking to find some important information or contact details while it is taking ages to load a page. Not sure about you, but I would leave the website in a matter of seconds.

Social media activity

Having social media accounts as a must for every successful business, no matter if it is a B2B or B2C business. Potential customers will, as part of their research of the market, look into potential providers’ website, social media accounts and the ones with more active social media are said to be chosen by potential customers more often. So, what are you waiting for? Be active, post, share and you will be heard and found by potential customers!

Final thoughts

Yes, there are many ways to get noticed online and drive more website traffic and I listed 5 which I considered most important. If you want to go an extra mile, you can invest some time and efforts in email marketing, paid advertising, guest blogging and a number of other activities that will help you achieve this goal. It is always a good idea to start with a few activities, learn how to do these and then expand your list of activities further.

 

Graphic Illustrations – Why is it a good idea to use them?

Are you planning on building a new website or just looking for an idea to freshen up your existing one?  Colours, fonts, images, and videos are but a few design aspects to address. The tiniest detail could make a significant impact on the message you are sending to your audience. Before you rush into a decision and put a lot of time and resources into a specific style (that might not fit your brand), stop to consider what design technique would best fit your business and brand. Using graphic illustrations is a great technique and here is how they help and contribute to your website design, brand and business.

Storytelling

Graphics and illustrations are an excellent tool for storytelling. Let’s say you are looking to tell your clients about your exciting progress and how you first started the business 15 years ago. Doing that with graphic illustrations would be an excellent choice! People like stories, but it is critical how you tell them if you want to attract the attention of your target audience. It’s not always easy to engage your visitors just by writing your story and adding photos,  especially if you only have access to stock images.
Having illustrations is a much more intriguing and impressive way to take your visitors on a journey with you. An illustration would naturally bring attention to your story and make it easier for the audience to follow through. Graphic illustration could be a friendly and charming way to leave a warm feeling in your visitors, reminding them of their childhood. It is a massive bonus to have your brand associated with happy memories and funny stories from the careless childhood.

Simplifying complex subjects

Have you ever noticed that when trying to tell something difficult, we often draw or try to visualise our thoughts to provide others with a better understanding of the topic? Graphic illustrations are an enormous help in these situations. Using fewer words in a shorter time makes the subject you want to discuss much more engaging and easier to follow. Nowadays, online users don’t spend much time reading and trying to figure out what you want to say. That’s why you need to be sharp and to the point, but also make sure you simplify the subject without missing the essential details.

Unique Design

One of the best reasons for using graphic illustrations is that it can be truly unique to your business. A graphic designer can create personalised illustrations just to fit your brand and these could be your distinct trademark. If you want, you can provoke your potential customers with abstract graphics, which could raise questions and encourage conversations. Also, you can send your brand message with a sophisticated and elegant illustration with a perfect customised colours selection. In the example below, you can spot a great way of utilising the homepage screen and splitting into two parts. Graphic illustrations make this approach very distinctive and easy to navigate. Also, this technique creates subconscious reassurance that your private conversations will stay confidential, which is one of the reasons why Talk Works, a company offering talking therapies and counselling services In Newcastle & Gateshead uses illustrations and not photos on their website.

Summary

There are plenty of styles to consider when using graphic illustrations. If you are already thinking of this exciting design technique, but are not sure what would suit your brand best, get in touch – we love being creative!

How to boost your social media presence using Open Graph tags

Creating outstanding content is essential but it only truly matters if it reaches the audience it’s intended for.

Online presence has become a significant part of every marketing campaign. Websites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. facilitate a more personalised and less intrusive conversation-like interaction with potential customers. It enables companies to come across as more friendly and approachable which results in more well-disposed customers.

Once you have established that relationship with your visitors it’s even more important to keep them engaged and share interesting stories with them on a regular basis.

However, with so many businesses competing for our attention, there is only so much space at the top of the feed. That’s why it’s vital to talk about visibility and what can be done to increase it.

Search engines like Google aim to present information concisely and helpfully and while their sophisticated algorithms are doing a pretty good job, it’s always better to take control of what is to be displayed.

One way to do that is using Open Graph tags. These powerful tags are fundamental to every digital marketer, and it will enable any web page to display as rich, structured graph object.

This excellent tool was introduced in 2010 by Facebook, and its purpose was to offer an easier integration between Facebook and other websites. In other words, it presents rich graph objects with uniform features as Facebook objects. Nowadays, most of the social media platforms rely on it and is adopted by the major search engines.

Some of the main benefits of using Open Graph tags are:

Control

It’s fantastic that these tags give you a certain degree of control, for example when your post is shared by an outside user you can make sure it looks nice and bright as your original one. This wouldn’t happen without the Open Graph tags.

Click-through rates

Ever wonder what makes you click on certain posts than other on social media- very often that’s actually the photo or the description. A well structured and designed post can undoubtedly attract more click to your page.

Improved Conversion rates

The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors to your website that converts into customers/ subscribers etc. Once having gone through the hard work of creating great content and having a high number of click-throughs this organically will affect your conversion rate.

Open Graph Tags are easily overlooked, but they are an invaluable part of your online marketing strategy. If you are smart like our recent client Connect Insolvency, you will not underestimate these helpful tags and will be able to create rich and engaging social media posts and grow your audience.

Top 3 reasons for using video on your website

A common side-effect of today’s fast-living modern society is that people are used to getting things instantly, from fast food to information they need. Call us lazy, impatient or just slaves of today’s commercial world, it is the fact that we spend more time watching films than reading because it is easier and requires less attention or mental activities.

This phenomenon has started manifesting in all areas of our lives, resulting in changes in web design trends too!

User experience

“A picture is worth a thousand words” – someone must have come up with this saying before the invention of the video, so I am wondering how many words a video is worth.

Using video on a website is a great way to supplement user experience and it is being increasingly used in marketing to build a relationship with the target audience because it provides great user experience for the visitors.

SEO

Using video on your website is good for SEO for several reasons and the most important one is that websites and web pages with videos tend to be ranked higher on search engines. Adding this video to your company’s Youtube profile will additionally help with Google rankings, given that it is owned by Google.

Visual experience

The great thing about videos is that they are an audiovisual means of communication, so a good quality video on your website will help you achieve so many goals – it will engage your audience, they will learn more about your brand and most importantly (in today’s fast living way of life), it will save their time, so they don’t have to read a 300-word paragraph to learn what you offer.

In summary

When using a video on your website, you tell your visitors that you care about them, about quality, that you want to stand out and most importantly – that you listen to their needs.

Here is one great example of a website that is using a video on the homepage: a company offering forklift trucks for hire and sale throughout the North East, Forklift Solutions.

 

forklift-solutions-screenshot

The benefits of having a news page on your website

When building a new website, every website owner should carefully consider what pages will be included. Website with over 20 pages could be quite distracting and of course, you want to list all your services, and each of them deserves a separate page. But is the News or Blog page something you should exclude from your website to make it more user-friendly and less distracting?

I would say that the pages like a Blog or News page are actually one of the pages you should add to your list first, and the main reason is the website SEO, but it also adds value to the visitors.

 

 

If you are familiar with how search engines work and what are important factors in SERP rankings, you will know that if you post on your website regularly, it will increase the Google crawling frequency on your website and will lead to better rankings. The reason is simple – search engines tend to favour active websites with regularly updated and fresh content. So, when you rank better for certain keywords, it will lead to an increased number of visits and if your website content is equally great, no doubt your website will become a real lead generation machine.

Now, let’s talk about the value a blog or a news page adds to your visitors. Visitors, like search engines, also like to visit informative websites with fresh content and the News or Blog page is just the right page to give your visitors what they want.

So, use your News or Blog page to share your news and updates with your target audience. Add value to your business too by establishing yourself as an authority in your field through blog writing and you will be rewarded both in terms of better rankings and gaining your visitors’ trust.

 

Both our old clients, like J3 Building Solutions Limited and our new clients like Warm Zones, UK’s leading charity who is dealing with and helping to end fuel poverty, feature this very important page upon our advice.