The Web, the Internet and some other stuff too

Calculating the Value of a Website to a Business

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To monitor the effectiveness of a website as a lead generator for your business you need to know eight things:

  1. Website development and maintenance costs
  2. SEO/PPC costs
  3. The number of unique visitors each month
  4. The number of form enquiries you get from the website
  5. The number of phone calls you get from the website
  6. Your offline conversion rate
  7. Value of the business won
  8. Cost to deliver

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Heat Maps

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What is a Heat Map?

A heat map shows you what areas of a page users have been clicking on.

How is a Heat Map useful?

A heat map is useful as it shows you one thing no other analytical tool can show you. It can show you when a user has clicked on something which isn’t even a link. The user expects it to be a link but turns out it isn’t. Google Analytics and all the rest of them can only show if a link has been clicked on.

Secondly, it presents information in a very consumable way. Trawling through analytics can take time and also takes a certain kind of person. One look at a heat map and you can get a pretty good picture of what happens after users land on your home page.

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Writing a Specification or Brief

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“Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them!”

The above quote reminds us of the challenges of presenting information verbally and even after doing the above only a percentage of what you say will get through.

When working out a cost for a website, clients should be specific about what they want.  Some clients call it a ‘brief’ or ‘scope. For the purposes of this article we’ll call it a ‘specification’, though please don’t confuse this with a high level specification that can often take months to compile and go through several revisions.

Some clients think it is our job to create a specification and it is all part of creating a quotation for them. This article explains why it makes a lot of sense for the client to do it.

How a specification can help you

  • The act of writing down and explaining your requirements forces you to think more clearly about what you need and why you need it. It develops your ideas and your business.
  • It helps you to start to understand  more about about websites and how they work.
  • It speeds up the costing process as you are making all the information immediately available which the design agency need.
  • Giving a document which explains what you want is much safer than just telling people as they will not retain everything you say – the human brain isn’t capable (even if notes are taken). The document can be referred to later if there is a misunderstanding about what should have been delivered.

What should be in a specification

Background Information

  • Some info about your company (do you have a LTD company and is it VAT registered?)
  • Some info about the idea behind the website
  • Do you already have a domain?
  • Do you have or need branding (logo etc.) developing?

Objectives

What do you want the website to do for you? Here’s a few possibles:

  • Create new leads by being found on Google?
  • Showcase your expertise to people who already know about you? (brochure site)
  • Increase online sales?
  • Create a community/audience?
  • Provide information to clients?
  • Boost a mailing list?
  • Provide software services online?
  • Increase advertising revenue?
  • Increase donations?
  • Raise awareness/campaign?
  • Educate?
  • Entertain?

Target Audience

Qualify who you want to engage with:

  • Businesses or consumers
  • Specific businesses in a sector
  • Specific size of businesses or organisation (start-ups/SMEs/corporates)
  • Local/national/global
  • Demographics e.g.  age/gender/income band/ethnicity
  • Existing clients
  • All and sundry

Competitors

A new site is your chance to get one over the competition so spend time looking at what they are doing well or badly and aim to do two things:

  • improve on the competition
  • set yourself apart

Website Management

Very often overlooked, the ongoing management of a website will take up a portion of your time. The following information can help an agency to set up a Content Management System (CMS) suited to your needs:

  • What experience of maintaining websites do you bring to the table?
  • How much time do you have for keeping the website up to date?
  • How many people will keep the website up to date?
  • Do you have any preferences for a Content Management System and if so why?
  • Will the CMS need to connect to anything else?
  • Do you have any platform requirements (Windows or Linux)

Content

  • Will you be supplying the written content and is it ready?
  • Can you supply relevant high quality images or would you like us to source from stock photo websites?
  • What pages do you want on your website?
  • What is the site structure or site map? (what sections does it have and what pages are in these sections)

Functionality

When we ask about website functionality, surprisingly, we can be greeted with blank faces. It may be useful for you to think about what happens when a user goes on your website in the form of user journeys e.g.

  • home page > clicks on ‘Contact Us’ > Fills in contact form
  • home page > rings phone number
  • home page > uses search box > lands on Search results page and clicks on one result
  • home page > clicks on ‘Get a quote’ > fills in form
  • home page > clicks on ‘Shop’ > clicks on ‘Shoes’ > Clicks on ‘Mens’ > clicks on shoe > selects size > adds to basket > checkout > enters card details (or clicks on ‘Pay using PayPal’)
  • section page > user click on ‘home’ link > user clicks on ‘Contact Us’ > user fills in contact form

Ecommerce software can vary in what it allows vendors to do so you really need to be clear about the buying and ordering process.

Device and Browser Support

Following on from your analysis of your target audience, it would be useful to know what they use and in what percentage. Some clients bring in stats from their current site showing us the percentage of users on mobile devices, tablets and desktops or the percentage using Internet Explorer 8 for example. Tell us what devices, operating systems and browsers you want supporting. This can have a significant impact on how we code the site, how long it will take and what is delivered. Here is a list to consider:

  • Safari on iOs 6,7,8
  • Chrome on iOs 6,7,8
  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Safari
  • Dolphin on JellyBean, KitKat, Lollipop (Android)
  • Chrome on JellyBean, KitKat, Lollipop
  • Internet Explorer 8+ (IE8 is an awkward bugger and will need extra work)
  • Internet Explorer 9+

You may even want to specify devices such as iPad 3, Samsung Galaxy Tab 3.

Likes and Dislikes

Bear in mind that when we design a site we are not attempting first and foremost to create a site which YOU like but a site which your TARGET AUDIENCE likes. However, knowing what sites you like and dislike and more importantly WHY can start a conversation.

Timescales

When do you want the project to start and when do you want the new website to go live?

Time-scales are dictated by three things,

  • the amount of work which needs to be done
  • the number and availability of people to do it
  • the efficiency of the people doing it

Check with the agency that whatever date you have in your mind fits with their capacity.

Ongoing Marketing

  • Depending on your website objectives you may want the website to generate new sales leads for you through search engines.
  • Will you require any ongoing optimisation for search engines in order to get high rankings in search engine results?
  • Will you need blog posts or new pages created for you?
  • Do you need a social media campaign integrated with website content?

Budget Range

Most clients are reluctant to divulge a budget range as they may simply have no idea OR they want to see what figure an agency comes up with. However you do need to think about budget and have a conversation about it. Otherwise you may be presented with solutions you can’t afford and which offer more than you need.

Here’s a tip to help you – think of two figures:

  • wow, if you could do it for £x that would be amazingly cheap
  • whoah if it’s £y then that’s starting to become unrealistic for me

Once you have this range (£x to £y) you can present it to agencies and they’ll present solutions within that budget. The solutions may not include everything you need. It’s a competitive market so you should get costs based on their:

  • experience (especially in your sector)
  • expertise
  • overheads

Decision timeline

The specification should say:

  • when a quotation is needed by (try to give agencies a reasonable time to provide a proposal).
  • when a decision will be made by you

You may also want to supply a weighting you will apply to quality vs cost.

Summary

A specification can often be just the beginning of a conversation and it doesn’t preclude ideas from an agency.

A well written specification helps you and helps the agency to help you. It is the foundation on which the project will be built. It’s always a good idea to make your foundations solid.

 

Measuring profit and forecasting growth

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We live in a world where data is king and those who use it effectively survive and prosper.

  • Question – how much profit did you make on your last project and how do you know?
  • Question – how much money do you think you will have in the bank next month, six months from now and twelve months from now?

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A quick guide to achieving better SEO in WordPress

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Statistics

According to the latest w3techs.com statistics, WordPress is used by over 61% of all sites that use content management systems. That means that over 77 million websites are run on WordPress alone, while the remainder 39% are run using various content management systems such as Drupal and Joomla.

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Glorious Graffiti

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Our new office is in Liverpool’s creative quarter, known as the The Baltic Triangle. There is some amazing graffiti near to us and the sun came out today so we took a couple of snaps. Here they are for your delectation:

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Web Design in the Baltic Triangle

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In June we moved office to Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle from Liverpool Innovation Park (aka LIP) where we had been tenants since 2007. LIP was a nice environment but the real killer was proximity to my house – 10 minutes away. Having previously been on a daily commute to Macclesfield from Liverpool the 10 minute cycle to work was comparative bliss.

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Colour Contrast and the User Experience

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Users complain when things don’t work or are difficult but if they have a smooth user experience and get what they want from a web page then they’ll move on happily unaware of the thought and effort that made it possible.

One underlying characteristic of best practice web design is ensuring good colour contrast between foreground text and the background  – not OK colour contrast but GOOD colour contrast.

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How to Choose a Premium WordPress theme

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This is a guide to picking a theme, aimed at developers, who have a mid range knowledge of HTML and CSS.

Hacking and customising themes to create a website is nothing new. However the availability and quality of premium themes available has changed. It might be fair to say with the massive improvements in themes available on sites such as ThemeForest, that web design and web development has a realistic new process available to developers when creating a web site.

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Moving Office

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After 7 years at Liverpool Innovation Park in the suburbs, we’ve moved to Liverpool City Centre. We have a larger office with a kitchen in it now and room for a breakout area. Rent’s cheaper too!

The new location is known as the Baltic Triangle and it’s dang interesting. We’re surrounded by old buildings echoing Liverpool’s proud maritime past.

The Baltic Triangle is also home to a bunch of digital and web design companies so lots of creative looking people wandering around…there is a look you know…

Above picture shows the view from our window so we can see the Mersey, the Liver Building and the big wheel thingy.

Phil works for EdgeThreeSixty in Liverpool doing all things related to web design.