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The Importance of a website for any business

world wide webWorld Wide WebIn today's society, individuals and businesses utilize the World Wide Web as a means to locate, discuss, and distribute information. With tools such as Google, MSN, and Yahoo, businesses are able to not only optimize their websites' search engine results, but also increase the exposure to their products and services. The competitive edge between businesses is defined by more than just low prices, superior customer service, and results. In this day and age, consumers have more on their plate, and less patience to wait for tasks to be completed. They would rather have the ease, and speed of utilizing the internet for service of their needs, than wait in a phone queue for a representative to service that same need. As a result, many businesses have provided additional quality options, and incentives to their members for conducting business transactions online.

A mobile website allows a travelling businessman to take care of his accounts while in the midst of meetings, conferences, and flights. Your company's user-friendly and self-explanatory website design showed the stay-at-home mom how easy it was to manager her business with you, while watching the baby, paying the bills, and getting dinner ready for the family. Consumers don't have time to wait for pages to load. They want websites that are informational, effective, and provide a variety of options to quickly log in and out, while still taking care of their business needs. Consumers utilize search bars and sitemaps to quickly locate what they're looking for, to preserve what precious time they have during the day. They want shopping carts that can save their selections for a later time and date when they have the time to update the products and services they wish to purchase, without having to start all over. With the growing need for consumers to self-service, businesses have awarded incentives to those who prefer to order, service, and cancel their products online.

website redesigningWebsite RedesigningBusinesses are held to higher standards for the level of quality and for their efficiency in servicing the needs of consumers. Consumers want better, faster, easier methods of conducting account transactions worldwide, and expect businesses to progress alongside technological advances. Businesses have been impacted by the rising demand for the need to provide more cost-effective and streamlined servicing. They have found an increased need to constantly accommodate the exponential growth by frequently redesigning websites and performing site maintenances. Despite increasing consumer demands, business owners need to remember not to let quality be overshadowed by the quantity of available methods of accessibility. Though the world is accustomed to technological conveniences, consumers have not forgotten the old-fashioned backbone of quality service and products.

Business owners utilize various tactics to encompass as many consumers in as many ways possible, thereby ensuring their marketing potential is maximized. By incorporating outbound email capabilities, businesses have found email marketing to be highly effective. Options for email marketing range from the "refer a friend" method to clients requesting additional information directly from their websites. By utilizing marketing mailing, businesses gain the advantage of reaching consumers and marketing their products, at the convenience of consumers. Many businesses take full advantage of how easy and powerful online marketing really is. They offer rebates and discounts for conducting business online, which optimizes both their productivity and business results

Business OwnerBusiness OwnerBusiness owners need to get creative when it comes to consumer demands. They need to create a website that is not only effective, but interactive, and also encourages self-servicing. A growing number of websites now offer technical support in multiple forms, and have maintained the sites so as to not slow down with increased access and usage. Websites also have "frequently asked questions" that list questions and answers for common scenarios, to eliminate a certain volume of assistance needed. Companies are therefore able to allocate time and resources elsewhere, to allow for more efficient operation. Business owners in today's society recognize the importance of redesigning websites, and systems, to provide worldwide around the clock access to an easy and efficient website.

For more information, or to request a free quotation, please do not hesitate to contact us

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Guide to choosing the right web design company

judge the book by its coverThis Time DO Judge The Book By It's CoverChoosing a web design company can be a little tricky, and many times it's a gamble, but if you know what to look for, you can save yourself a lot of stress and frustration. If you don't, however, you could be stuck with poor service and empty promises, as well as being faced with ridiculous bills. Take time to empower yourself with the following knowledge, and learn to spot a bad choice in web design companies from a mile...

LOOKS

This is one of those times, that judging a book by it's cover is in your best interests. A web design company's website is it's book cover, so naturally, if their website is not stimulating...chances are that they will create an unstimulating design for your website...which in turn, is YOUR book cover. If your book cover is amateurish, your potential client may very well pass you by, imagining that your service, or product, would be as exciting as the site they've just seen...

LOOKS vs PRICE

If the client liaison of the web design company drives a Ferrari, there's a very good chance that they are overcharging their customers. Web design prices vary greatly. There are no set guidelines for quality ,nor are there any recommended pricing structures, so one must use one's own discretion here. I can't tell you that R 4000 is a good price for a small website, because it depends on the web design itself. If I may use a fine art analogy here. R 1 million is a ridiculous price to pay for a Trechikoff, but an incredible bargain for a Van Gogh.

EXAMPLES

If the web design company does not supply examples of their work or some form of portfolio, it can mean one of two things. Either the company is just starting out and has no work to showcase yet, or they are not confident enough to display their work because it is not very good. The other problem I've come across here is when a web design agency has a long list of clients that they have allegedly done work for, but no links to the work itself. In cases like these, you can rest assured that at least half of their clientele are made up and the other half of their clientele are upset by their shoddy workmanship. Bottom line is: If the company is any good, they will proudly display examples of their work. If the company just doesn't have any work to display, you're taking a gamble. It's your call.

lazy and unreliable manLazy and Unreliable ManSERVICE

There are three kinds of service you will come across in the web design industry. The first kind are lazy and unreliable, the second kind are very enthusiastic and will promise you the world, but won't deliver, and the last kind (which is the kind you are looking for) will get back to you promptly, and meet, or even exceed your expectations. The latter is very difficult to come by. Here's how you can spot the different kinds...Should you ask for a quote from a web design company or get in touch with them via email and they do not get back to you within twelve hours, then you can expect this kind of service for the entirety of the job. They are lazy and do not feel that you are important enough for them to reply promptly. The second kind is more difficult to spot. This kind are skilled in promotional talking but lack the technical skill/knowledge to deliver, so asking a few technical questions should do the trick. Instead of listening to the words they use to reply, watch their body language to see if they look uncomfortable with the question.

LOCATION

A good internet connection for both parties, in most cases, rules out the significance of where the designers offices are located. In fact, if you have a tight deadline, it is probably better to have an online relationship because when you send an email with instructions, the web designer is already at his/her computer to make the changes, as opposed to having to drive back to their premises and prepare themselves for work mode again. Even material for the job can be emailed because unlike their graphic designer counterparts, the files are low resolution, therefore small in size. One thing to keep in mind though, is that if their offices are in a very exclusive area/office park, you can probably expect to pay "exclusive" prices.

SEO

A good web design company will design your website with search engine optimization in mind. It is no good to have a beautiful website that no one is ever going to see because search engines can't read the format in which it was designed. Ask your designer about their website marketing options. A lot of companies say they offer this but really don't know much about it. If a designer can't tell you exactly how they have optimized your site for search engines, then they probably have not.

meeting a deadlineMeeting a DeadlineDEADLINES

The last factor to take into consideration is the web designers ability to work within given deadlines. In a deadline situation it is almost always better to deal directly with the person/s who are going to be doing the work. In many large corporations, they will send a client liaison to receive instruction from the client, but in many cases the client liaison is only trained to appease the client, by saying "yes we can do that", "sure, you will have it tomorrow", but does not have an inkling of what the work entails, and then will go back to the designer only to be told that there are problems with what was promised. This back-and-forth liaising lends itself to miscommunication and is ultimately a waste of valuable time. The best way to see if a web design company can meet your deadline is to give them a smaller job first, with its own deadline. The Bible says "Those who can be trusted with little, can also be trusted with much".

For more information, or to request a free quotation, please contact us

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Banner Advertising - What you need to know

colorful waves bannersColourful Waves BannersBanner advertising is one of the oldest marketing techniques, and closely related to conventional marketing. It can, in most regards be compared to billboard advertising, and in some cases, it can even be compared to television advertising, when flash banners are used together with sound.

But how difficult is banner advertising, and is it an easy marketing strategy that almost anybody can use? In a sense, banner advertising is relatively easy if you follow some basic principles.

THE SHORT HISTORY OF ONLINE ADVERTISING

According to our research, the first banner advertising was introduced in October 1994 on HotWired, today they are part of Lycos, and are now called Wired News. The size of these banners was 468 x 60 pixels, and is still a popular size banner in use even today. According to Double click’s “The Decade of online advertising: 1994 - 2004” the US market spends $9,6 billion on Internet ads. Online advertising also provides one of the largest spend of all advertising methods, and is still growing.

During the past 2 – 3 years, a huge change has taken place in the online marketing industry. Online advertising was affected by this as well, and it became clear that there still is a larger demand by consumers than can be met by advertisers. This in effect means that there is a transition process taking place. In the South African market, the same growth and transition are experienced. According to World stats we have more than 3,6 million internet users, and recent stats from World Wide Worx also states that there are more than 5 million computer owners in South Africa. That makes South Africa the 2nd largest in Africa, leaving large possibilities for new online entrepreneurs.

It is a well known fact in the online industry, that banner advertising is not the most remarkable marketing strategy, and although many companies have performed well and returned great results, many that didn’t make use of it have performed just as well, or even better. However, if you have the budget, it is worthwhile to make use of this strategy.

TRACKING THE RESULTS

One of the greatest benefits of online advertising is the opportunity to track results. By using dynamic website to track source and conversion ratios makes it easy track success and optimize your strategies. Even keeping track of the banner types is easier. Experimenting can also deliver surprising results and can be tracked easily.

Over the years it has become clear that in the online marketing industry, they mostly focus on the amount of clicks they received from the advertising campaigns, to measure their success. Recently it has become more and more complex as it became evident that there are more factors involved than just clicks.

BrandingBrandingBRANDING

One of the greatest benefits of banner advertising is branding. Becoming a well-known brand in the online community can result in traffic that does not click through from banners. Depending on your industry, it can also result in sales lifts in the offline environment. Associating your brand with leading websites clearly cause a trusted association, which in itself has its benefits.

PAY PER ACQUISITION

With the use of tracking software a new payment method has seen the light for advertisers. CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) is one of the most effective ways to place banner ads. Due to the fact that it influences the profit of the site on which it is being advertised, and the profit generated by the advertiser there is much better cooperation for providing good results, than in the old fashioned Pay Per Click methods (PPC).

UNIQUE DELIVERIES

One of the key factors when tracking success of banner advertising is to keep track of the amount of unique deliveries of ads. The same visitor can receive the same banner being served during a single session on the same website at regular intervals. This can assist you in making design changes for your banner, in order to improve click through rates, but it can also guide you to ensuring the website you are advertising on is worthwhile advertising on.

DISPLAY FREQUENCY TO CLICK THROUGH

Absolutely one of the key indicators to ensure your advertising campaign is running smoothly, is keeping track of the frequency at which ads are displayed, compared to the amount of clicks received on the applicable campaign. The following can be reasons for an ad campaign to have a bad frequency to click through rate.

  • Bad banner design, or lack of key features in the design, compared to the site the ad is being displayed on.
  • Bad call to action. A call to action is one of the key motivators for a visitor to click on a banner. “Click here” is not a call to action, but rather a prize or guidance on what to expect when clicking on the banner.
  • Large file size of image. It can happen that due to the large file size of a banner, the visitor to the site didn’t even see the banner, because it was still loading.
  • Information overflows. A banner should never contain too much information, but rather single words that entice the visitor to find out more.
  • The ads don’t stand out, and becomes part of the website.
  • Bad display position.
  • Theme of the site advertised on.
CLICK THROUGH FREQUENCY CONVERSION

This is the key to a successful online advertising campaign. In order to have a solid ROI you need to have a good frequency of Clicks to conversions. A conversion is a visitor that registered with your site, bought something, or at least spent some time on your site. If you notice that the visitors tend to leave the site very quickly after entering, then there is clearly something wrong. Here is a guideline of possible issues effecting conversions...

  • Bad banner design and wording. The user expected something totally different when he clicked on the banner.
  • Use of landing pages. Never use landing or splash pages to point traffic to from a banner ad campaign, unless the splash page is with the structure of the original web site. Many so called experts will disagree with me, but I will explain this under its own topic next.
  • Bad website design or usability. This goes hand in hand with the use of landing pages. If your website is badly structured, and the user has an effort finding what he is looking for, you will lose conversions.
  • Bombarding visitors. Many websites bomb visitors with entry pops and advertising. This is not recommended at all, because the visitor will leave your site immediately.
Landing Page HTML TemplateLanding PageUSE OF SPLASH PAGES

I once attended a workshop where the marketing manager of a large online business told everyone that he introduced splash pages to use with their promotions and that it improved conversions considerably. I was amazed at this remark and had a look at their website. Suddenly it all made sense. The website was clearly badly designed, and the information supplied was purely one way, what they wanted the user to see. The entire website bombed the visitor with the closing techniques, but didn’t supply the user with the reasons they initially visited in order to be closed.

If you have to make use of separately designed splash or landing pages, you probably have bigger problems with your website than you think. If the banner displayed is related to a specific promotion, then that promotion page which is being linked to, should be located within the normal website structure that contains the relevant information, but still allows the user to navigate through to other information that they might require, before they convert into a customer.

General banners that purely advertise your brand, should always point to your homepage, however it is important to know that it is much more effective to advertise a specific product or service, in which case the banner should link to the applicable page on your website. If the homepage proves to be ineffective, then you probably need to evaluate the design and layout of the homepage. Ensure that the page that the user lands on supplies the information that the user will be interested in viewing, based on the banner they clicked on, not the information that you want the user to see.

RICH MEDIA

This is a term you have to get used to. Over the past few years rich media has proven to be extremely effective and the click through rates is amongst the highest in the online advertising industry. Rich media is usually designed in flash and because of the powerful features that Flash has, it can combine quality graphics with sound and fantastic animation. This allows the advertiser to really get attention focused on the user. On click or mouse over actions also allows for more functionality, and all of these can ensure good click through ratios. Java, JavaScript and DHTML can also be used for rich media, but we recommend the use of Macromedia Flash.

USING VIRAL MARKETING
Viral marketing’s strongest feature is the amount of well-targeted referrals that it obtains. By combining a good viral campaign with banner advertising, you ensure that you have continuous publicity and ROI basically multiplies with every conversion. The most powerful effect of a solid viral campaign is the duration of supply. If properly planned, it can supply constant traffic for years after the ad campaign has finished. Viral campaigns normally focus on entertainment value, for example, a funny video or enjoyable game, that gives the visitor the option to refer it to friends.

SOME NEW TECHNIQUES THAT WORK

A fairly new technique that is being used, is to make the banner look like link text that forms part of the design of the site the banner ad is located on. The power lies in the possibilities of providing more information for the user in the form of informative link text to cause a click through. Although it is an image, the user is attracted to the link text. The greatest benefit is most probably the fact that traffic provided by a factual banner, is normally much targeted, which means good quality click through, and higher conversion ratios.

Adding a human element also seems to work well. It makes it more personal for the visitor and attractive to click on.

banner sizesBanner SizesBANNER SIZE & TYPES

By default the most sites use similar banner sizes. Following are basic information and examples to assist you in making a choice with banner advertising.

Skyscrapers

Again there are many different sizes being used but the most common size being used is 120 x 600 pixels. These ads are normally located on the right hand side of the website. These ads have proven very effective but it is important to keep in mind that they are also more expensive.

Small rectangles

This is a very common size and can normally be located at any position of the page. The normal size for these banners is 120 x 60 pixels. The location is very important, and once again, because the banner is so small, you need to ensure that the text being displayed is carefully selected.

Square banners

This is a very good sized banner that allows for cost effective banner advertising, and the chance to provide enough information to invite click through’s. The size for the square banner is 125 x 125 pixels.

Large squares

These banners are 250 x 250 pixels wide, and are normally located just under the header of the page, or amongst the content of the page.

Anchor banners

These banners are normally located at the top of the page, and is most probably ideally located if that is the case. The size of 468 x 60 pixels also allows for the display of good quality graphics and information.

Leader board

This is one of the largest banners that can be used, and is normally located above the header of the page, almost the entire width of the page. Because of it’s size of 728 x 90 pixels. This banner can not be missed, and allows for a lot of freedom in it’s design.

EMAIL BANNERS

Email banners has proven very effective, but there are a few very important points to keep in mind when you want to opt-in for these type of campaigns. Ensure that you are provided the correct information, as far as the amount of people that the email will reach. Many companies do not distinguish between recipients that view HTML mail, and those that receive text mailers. This can have a drastic implication on your costing, if the majority only read text mails. Remember that only viewers that receive their mail in HTML format will be able to view your banners.

Banners designed for email campaigns must load instantly. Therefore file sizes must be kept to a minimum.

advertising partnersAdvertising PartnersCHOOSING AN ADVERTISING PARTNER

The largest challenge involved when choosing a site to advertise on, is distinguishing between the truth, and sales talk. Many sites will provide you with the hits their site receives, as if it is unique visitors. It is important that you ensure they give you the amount of unique visitors they receive. Hits are the highest possible amount that the log stats will display. It is the figure of all the files and images loaded for every page opened, and can be at least 10 times more than the unique visitors the site actually receive.

Making use of Alexa is also dangerous, as it primarily indicates the amount of visitors with the Alexa toolbar installed, visiting the website. In my experience the more webmasters visiting the site, the better the chance that the stats might be skewed, as many of them have the Alexa toolbar installed in their browser. Another important thing to remember, is that there are free tools available to improve your Alexa ranking, without providing real traffic.

Besides obtaining traffic stats for the site you want to advertise on, you will also need to profile your prospective customer (demographics), in order to ensure that you advertise on a site that mainly attracts visitors that you target. Therefore you need to find out about the following.

  • Geographic location
  • Income group
  • Age groups
  • Interests and hobbies
There are many other factors that can be supplied by the site that you wish to advertise on. Make sure you profile your customer properly, in order to know who you need to attract, and where you should advertise.
 
Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free quotation, or for more information
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Keywords are the key to good website design

SEO Keyword researchS.E.O Keyword ResearchWe all know potential clients won't come just because you built the site - the site has to place well in the search engines to pull the traffic. Of course, placement can be bought through Pay Per Click advertising, but there is nothing as satisfying to a web designer as a top position in the free results.

How do you get there? In a word: keywords. Design your web site for search engines from the very get go, and that means, start with your keyword research. Once you have those terms in hand, use them to plan your site and content.

domain name registrationDomain Name RegistrationWhat's in a Name?

If you haven't purchased a domain name yet, then think about ways to incorporate at least one of your keywords. Hyphens are fine, but if you can get bluewidgets.com, go for it. Or www.companynamewidgets.com ... you can rank well without it, but every little bit helps.

website widgetWebsite WidgetsSite Content - Give Them What They Want

If you plan your content based on your keyword research, you give searchers what they are looking for. Sometimes you have to get creative, of course. For example, if you sell red widgets, but your research tells you people search far more often for blue widgets, then you might want to create and optimize a page "red Widgets Vs. Blue Widgets." Sounds silly, but you get the idea. And it not only brings the searcher for red widgets to your page, it converts them to a blue widget buyer.

Create at least one page for each keyword variation, and on that page use your phrase:

  • In an h1 tag once
  • In an h2 or h3 tag once
  • In the first paragraph
  • In bold somewhere in the content
  • In the anchor text of a link to an authority site.
  • In the anchor text of a link to another page on the site

keywordsKeywordsSite Design Architecture and SEO

Your keywords will also figure heavily in the website's structure - especially if it's a large site. Where there are natural divisions, create sub-directories with keyword rich names: www.yourdomain/blue-widgets/ for example.

It can also be a powerful move to use your keywords in file names - your HTML and graphic file names. Assume for a moment you sell widgets of all different colours, and they are search terms ... you would have pages named:

- www.yourdomain/blue-widgets.html,

- www.yourdomain/black-widgets.html,

- www.yourdomain/white-widgets.html and so on.

Use those keywords in the graphic files names as well. Take your home page, for example. Your logo should be called widgets-logo.gif.

alternative textAlternative Text for ImagesOther On Site SEO Design Elements

Be sure to use Alt Tags for images, and title attributes for links. Don't stuff the alt tags with keywords, but describe the images accurately, and do it with the visitor in mind too. Here's why: we know the search engines do use the text from alt tags to help index a site, but did you know that Google sometimes uses the alt tag text as the description in the SERPs! It's rare, but it happens. I've seen it on my own site.

The jury's out on whether this last technique is really effective, but many SEO Web Designers now use the title attribute on links. If you look at the code for the link to my site – or put your mouse over the link, you will see what I mean.

Off Site SEO – Link Building

Wait a minute, link building isn't part of design is it? Yes, it is! You used to be able to build link popularity through reciprocal link programs, but that is no longer an effective gambit. To get links, you need to create the sort of content that makes other webmasters link to your site. It might be a forum, a blog with constantly updated information, or a tool that people need. Build your content to attract links, as well as visitors.

Incorporate these suggestions into your web site, and you will begin to see how SEO and Web Design can be synonymous!

Contact us for a free quotation, or to discuss your website needs

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The Importance Of A Good Header

city skylineCity SkylineFirst impressions are important - when you first see a city you've never been before, what do you notice? That's right, the skyline. Similarly, the first thing you see in the newspaper is the headline, and whenever you think of a TV show, you most likely think of the opening credits.

People tend to assess things based on these first impressions of them. Your website is treated just as anything else people see, they will tend to make a judgment based on the header at the top of your page. If your visitors see a header which has a professional appearance, they will assume that the content of your site is also of high quality.

wildlife website headerWildlife Website HeaderThough it isn't usually a functional part of the site, the header of a web page is one of the most important parts. With a professional and engaging header on a web page, visitors to that site will want to stay, because they will have been assured that if the header is up to a certain level of excellence, then the content they'll read there will be too.

While this may, or may not be true, it is what the reader will assume from seeing a well designed header. This reassurance will benefit you, in that the visitors to your site will not only stay to read your content during that initial visit, but will also return for future visits, and hopefully recommend you to others, and possibly link to you as well.

The header performs two basic functions on your website. It gives the viewer a quick overview of what your website is about, and it also provides an idea of the quality of your site.

Website headersWebsite HeadersEach of these functions are greatly important, but the second may be even more important than the first. There are millions of websites out there, and possibly hundreds or thousands compete with yours. If the style, or make-up of your header gives your website the look that it lacks quality or professionalism, your traffic will go to your competitors instead.

You may not realize exactly what is getting more traffic to your site, and increasing the length of the stays of visitors to your site.

Keeping visitors coming back, and staying on your site longer, is something which you can ascribe to many factors: content, better search engine rankings, new features and the like. However, in many cases it is your header which is doing all of this work: out in the open, yet behind the scenes.

For more information, or a free quotation, please contact us

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