My New Website

After years of working on all sorts of websites I thought I’d create my own personal site. I’ve created quite a few sites for myself before but they have always been about my web design and development work or (failed) entrepreneurial attemps to generate a bit of money. This is different. I’m not looking to gain any money, work or reputation, just giving myself a platform to publish, well, whatever the hell I feel like.

I’m not sure what will go on it yet, maybe a bit of a blog, maybe some articles, photos, video, music. Or I might just fill pages with adverts and animated GIFs. Seems to work for some people.

The Design

I thought I’d just share some of the thinking and technical approach behind the design. As a web designer/developer I don’t want the site to be just about its content, I see it as a bit of a playground for trying out new design ideas.

To begin with I’ve focused on keeping the design as clean, clear and simple as possible. It’s fully responsive so works on devices of all shapes and sizes. I’ve also kept the technology involved to a minimum serving up static HTML files for maximum speed.

Going forwards I’m sure I’ll play around with different design ideas so not all pages will look the same. We’ll see what happens.

Anyway, enough. Hope you enjoy. Now go and do something more useful.

Online ways to launch a website

3... 2... 1... lift off!In the offline world when you create a new publication, like a brochure or catalog, you need to plan its distribution. You need to get it in front of your potential customers. Online is no different.

Too many people out there still seem to think that having a website built is the job done. Get a website and then sit back and wait for people to visit it. Wrong. The offline equivalent is having your brochures printed and then leaving them in their boxes. Just building a website is not enough.

So, what can you do to distribute it and get it in front of your online customers? Here are some simple steps that should help.

Firstly, you need to change the way you view the website compared with a more traditional printed brochure. The website is not equalivalent to a brochure. Your website in isolation is not worth anything. No, really. It’s completely worthless. Without any way to reach it it may as well not be there.

The way to get it out there is by creating links to your site. These can be links in emails, on other website’s pages or on search engine results pages, like Google.

To get your site to appear in the search engine results you need to let the search engines know that it exists. You can either submit it to the search engines manually or just create links to it from other sites and they will find it and do the rest.

For more information on building links please see my other article Links, link exchanges and strategies.

It takes time to build links and get found through the search engine results pages so what else can you do? Well, this may be stating the obvious but tell people. Tell everyone. And I mean everyone. Even the people who you don’t think will be interested may know someone who is.

Ask for feedback. Approach people and say you need their help and value their opinion. We all love to feel important, valued and that we can help someone else. Send them a link and ask for their feedback. Most of them will take a look and if they’ve had a quick look it will increase their chances of remembering your site in the future.

Win win win! One of the easiest ways to get people to visit a web page is to incentivise them, put something in it for them. Running a competition is good. This will not only pull people in but may also have a viral effect as people forward links to your web page to friends and family. It also provides an opportunity to capture their data (only with their permission, of course) and approach them again in future.

Use social networks. By posting a link on facebook or twitter you can reach huge numbers of people in minutes and if they like what they see it can really snowball.

In short, when you’re budgeting for a new website like Click here to read more about Carlson Knives you should add in some budget to launch it or it may not provide you with any value.

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.

What is a website visitor worth?

What are your visitors worth?When looking at investing money in trying to get more visitors to your website you need to first work out what a visitor is worth to you.

So, how do you work it out? Well, to do it at a basic level is very simple. Choose a time period to analyse – the last 12 months, last 3 months, last 30 days, etc. Now, in this period see how much profit you made and how many visitors your website got. If you’re using a web stats package, unique visitors is the figure to use here. Simply divide the number of unique visitors by the profit and this will give you a mean profit per visitor. You can use this as a basis for spending on gaining more visitors.

Whilst more visitors means more profit you shouldn’t just look at boosting traffic but try to actively increase the value of each online visitor. If a visitor becomes more likely to buy from you they become more valuable and investing money in attracting more visitors then gives you better value for money. So, as well as your traffic you also need to try to improve your conversion rate. The conversion rate is simply the proportion of visitors who buy. There are lots of things you can do to boost your conversion rates but that’s for another day…