My website is 5 today!

Happy 5th Birthday!My website, www.chris-smith-web.com, is 5 years old today.

I registered the domain name and started building the site on 15th June 2004. This has made me all nostalgic so I thought I’d take a quick look back over the last 5 years and how the site and business has changed in that time.

I registered the domain with a company called 123-reg whom I still use to this day. They provide good value domain registration with a nice simple control panel. I also hosted my first site with them though now I have moved on, mainly due to the more advanced technologies I now use.

website in 20042004

My first design was fairly basic but, looking back on it now, I still like its simplicity and clarity.

Although it was a new site it managed to bring in some good enquiries and before long I was off and running.

I can still remember my first enquiry and the first website I built for a client very clearly.

website in 20062006

As the “cheap web design” market got more and more competitive I needed to redesign the site to try to improve its search engine rankings. I tried using an individual web page for each individual service I could offer.

With hindsight, I think what I gained in web traffic I lost in conversions as this design failed to impress web development seekers.

website in 20072007

Another year on the web was changing and Web 2.0 technologies were becoming more common. I decided I needed a different design with a fresher, more vibrant feel. This design change saw a marked improvement in my enquiry levels.

I also started using server side technology to create more interactivity.

Today

My site now uses a blogging model and has articles as its centre rather than just the static pages about my services. This model is strong on the search engine side and my visitor numbers are higher than ever. It also means I get to write about the things that I’m passionate about – web development and online marketing.

The Future

I’m just in the process of launching a new site focused on Online Marketing. Please take a look at Chris Smith Marketing, www.chrissmithmarketing.com.

Beat the Credit Crunch – Move Online

Save moneyWith all this financial doom and gloom in the media it’s perfectly understandable that many businesses are looking to cut back on spending and play it safe until the economy is more stable.

Starting a new website or investing money in website marketing is probably something that is generally viewed as an expense to be avoided in the current climate but a move towards web based business could actually save you money.

We all know that paper publications like corporate brochures are in decline and electronic media are on the increase. Now could be the right time to make the leap.

If you produce a brochure it’s probably costing you thousands. You’ve then got all the distribution costs – covering letters, envelopes, postage. With a website you’ve got an initial cost (almost certainly lower than brochure print costs), some annual maintenance costs (hosting, backups) and then internet marketing costs (promoting your website to get your business found). The big cost difference online is that when you come to the next cycle you don’t have this initial outlay again as you would with a brochure. There’s a huge saving to be made.

Moving your marketing publications from offline to online won’t just save you thousands, it has other benefits. With a traditional brochure the only way of measuring its effectiveness is seeing which of its recipients go on to enquire and then which buy. In reality most companies don’t even track this and don’t really know whether or not their brochure works but carry on with it blindly more out of habit than anything. With a website and online marketing tools everything is tracked, logged and measurable. Consider the advantages of knowing all this:

  • You will know how many people visit your website. With a brochure how many are read and how many go straight in the bin? You’ve no idea.
  • You will know which products people are looking at. Again, with a brochure you’re in the dark.
  • You will know how people found your site – from search engines, from other sites or by typing in your web address (from offline promotion).
  • With online advertising you will know exactly how many people have viewed your ad and how many have clicked it. Compare this with an ad in a newspaper or magazine – there’s no easy way of knowing how effective it is.

Moving your marketing from offline to online will not only save you money but will provide you with exact data which can be used to inform your marketing decisions. This means better marketing and less money wasted on ineffective marketing.