A domain name is simply the address of your website – for example, our domain name is www.esterling.co.uk.
You will need to buy a domain name for your new website if you don’t already have one and there are a number of options to consider:
- Type of domain name. For a UK business, a domain name ending .co.uk is the best option. If you trade worldwide, you may choose a .com name. If you are a charitable organisation you may choose .org and so on.
- Should I use my company name? A lot of businesses use their company name as their web address, including eSterling. If you have a very long or complicated company name you may want to abbreviate it in some way. Think about how you will use your domain name. If you are going to be mentioning it to customers over the phone, make sure you have one that is easy to understand.
- What are the other options? Some websites very successfully use their product names or slogans as web addresses. The likes of webuyanycar.com or. diy.com (as used by B&Q) spring to mind. This type of domain name can be easier to remember than a company name and can also help with your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). For example, if you sell motorboats and you have a domain that contains this ‘motorboats’, you are more likely to get good results for this product in a Google search.
What else should I think about?
- Who is your web site aimed at? Other businesses? Consumers?
- Will you be printing your domain name on stationary or advertising it elsewhere?
- Is your company name too long or too complicated? Or is it already taken?
- Could you use a domain name which relates to one or more of your products or services?
To find a suitable domain name for your website, simply use the eSterling domain checker www.esterling.co.uk/tools/whois
This tool will show you which domains are available to buy. Then simply give us a call to get started.
Like Tom said last week in his blog post, it only takes three seconds for a customer to make up their mind about your website. If you want your company to come across in the correct light, you must make sure the text on your website is error-free. Spelling, punctuation and grammar must be correct – no excuses!
I know my blog post is starting to sound like a rant from your English teacher, but trust me – good English on your website is an absolute must. Errors in your copy reflect badly on your company because glaring mistakes look unprofessional – especially if a typo gets in the way of the message you are trying to put across. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – if you can’t get your copy right, will they want to trust you with their money?
Here are my top tips for making sure your website is error-free:
• Write any text for your website in Word. This means you can easily spell-check your writing for errors.
• Get someone else to proof read your text. It’s easy to miss your own mistakes, as your eyes will read what they want to read! Ask a colleague to check your writing, or if you’re alone in the office, read it aloud – you will often spot mistakes this way.
• If in doubt, print it out. It’s hard to read a page of text carefully off a computer screen. Printing your copy to check it will help you to find errors, and you can also write on any corrections to remind yourself to make changes later on.
Taking a little extra time to proof read your website costs nothing – so make sure you do it today! And if you need a little extra help, give eSterling a call for Copywriting services.
Once you’ve decided to have a new website, the fun really begins!
The key to success for any website development project is a strong foundation. This comes from having a clear and precise understanding between the client and development team from the very beginning. For this reason, we meet with all of our clients to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
The procedure usually goes something like this:
- An initial meeting is arranged with our Directors to discuss requirements. At this stage basic elements of design and functionality of your website are discussed, as well as budget and timescale.
- The next step is to meet with the Project Manager and the development team to lay out an exact specification of what you need for your new website to be as effective as possible for your business.
– This part is where you can tell us your ideas, from aesthetic preferences through to functionality. During this meeting we take note of any other websites that you like (and what you don’t like) and also get a feel for what message you are trying to put across to your customer.
– It is also agreed between both parties as to what exactly is feasible within the constraints of time, budget and scope. An exact price is calculated to suit your budget are we also give you an expectation of what end product you will receive.
We find that these early meetings are important for the success of the project. As Project Manager, I find that I’m able to plan your website build more effectively after discussing your needs in detail.
Every project can be faced with hiccups along the way, but if the project has been built on this strong foundation then the difficulty can be overcome – leaving you happy with your new website.
This week Facebook launched its latest updates which has drastically changed the layout of the news feed.
So far the update has received very mixed reviews. It seems that lots of people are finding their new feeds overloaded and complicated, while others like the news ‘ticker’ as it offers a real-time experience even when you’re not on the home page.
Whatever your views on the update, most people doubt it is coincidence that this latest Facebook update has come in the same week that Google+ opened its doors to the public. Some might even suggest that the Facebook bosses aren’t concerned with whether you like the update or not, as long as your status is about Facebook (and not inviting people to join you on Google+).
While there is no doubt that Facebook is still the number one social network in the world, Facebook must be starting to worry about their status as top dog. Now that Google has joined the social networking revolutions Facebook is facing competition from the biggest name on the internet. Google is a massive brand and the billions of people that use Google on a regular basis for other purposes will surely be tempted to try Google +.
As Richard’s post last week explained, the use of social media like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ should be a major part of any company’s online strategy. Ask us how to upgrade your website so that it is social media friendly.
Making a website from scratch, rather than using a template, is the preferred method of almost all professional web designers.
Creating a website from nothing will mean that everything behind the scenes (we call this the code) is specifically required on that website; and there won’t be any unused code that often occurs when using a template.
Website template editors can also produce bloated code, when there is a far simpler way to do the same job by hand. Less code means that the files will be smaller in size and pages will therefore load quicker.
Hand coding also means consistency throughout the website design – for example, there won’t be odd sections with incorrect colours which could easily occur if bits of the template are overlooked.
Problem solving is also significantly easier if a website site is build by hand. Any error that occurs can easily be read by the designer since they wrote it themselves in the first place.
Finally, a hand coded site will be a better product for you, since the designer won’t be restricted in what they can produce and each web design will be unique.
Doing things this way not only helps the website itself, but also allows the designer to improve – which is so important from my point of view.
From the perspective of the designer, constantly having to code a website from a blank canvas will allow them to find new and more efficient ways to create. Not only this, but with the ever changing world of web development, hand coding allows the designer has to develop with the times. This ensures that each new website produced is in-line with what’s happening in web design right now.
Three seconds doesn’t seem like a long time, but it’s the time it takes for a visitor to make up their mind about your website.
Just having a website is not enough. An amateurish website will imply that your business is not a serious one, and can tempt your potential customers to choose your competitors over you.
The top offenders when it comes to bad websites are;
- Poor colour schemes
- Broken links
- Poor graphical layouts – cramped text, irrelevant images
- Confusing navigation
- Outdated content, typographical and grammatical errors
- Horizontal scrolling
Is your website guilty of any of these web design sins?
Rightly or wrongly, people judge your business by your website – so it must be good! Be honest and think about what conclusion a first time visitor may form about your business.
Ask yourself these questions about your website…
- Does it enhance your brand?
- Is it appealing and clean?
- Is it free of bugs and glitches?
- Does it promote credibility?
- Does it boast rich content?
- Have a smooth functionality?
- Is it compatible with popular browsers?
- Does it have a consistent navigation area?
- Do the design principles enhance rather than distract?
- Is there a good balance of text/graphics/white space?
Visitors see any lack of credibility on your part as a warning, not a welcome, so avoid giving visitors an excuse to not do business with you!
Make those first three seconds count and give eSterling a call about our web design services.
The internet has changed beyond recognition. I remember the early days when an email address alone was considered one of the coolest things a guy could have.
Can anyone remember Geocities, Netaddress, Yahoo Chat etc? In those days if you could string a few pages of a website together; you were considered a Guru… Yeah. I recall my first encounter using the internet with much nostalgia.
Today the internet is (kind of) the same as it was, however, we have embraced it and are using it in such a way that is far different than a decade ago. Today we are accustomed to using social networking in our everyday lives.
To me, if you are not ‘part’ of the internet by having an active email address, website, social media presence etc, then you are missing out on a massive change in the way humans interact in the 21st century.
Now we have another social media network available to us – Google +, which I’ll be trying out as soon as I can!
I have no idea what is in store for us within the next decade of the evolution of the internet. However, I do believe we are going to see some changes and new ideas popping up all the time.
The internet is now very social…are you part of it? And do you have any fun memories of your interaction with the internet over the last decade or more?
Park Farm Shooting is a family-run clay pigeon shooting ground in the West Midlands offering fun days-out and clay pigeon shooting lessons. The company first came to eSterling in 2009 to improve their online presence with our SEO services.
The SEO plan was working well in terms of rankings within Google, but the team at eSterling was concerned that an outdated website could be putting visitors off.
The old Park Farm Shooting website involved a lot of scrolling, as news items and event information were all on the homepage. Our recommendations were to split up this content into clearer sections and give the site a fresh makeover.
Phil Giles was responsible for the design. Phil said; ‘The strong green colour scheme and eye-catching imagery make for a site that captures the attention of visitors. The contact numbers are also available at-a-glance to encourage people to get in touch.’
Phil over at Park Farm was also happy with the result: ‘I was originally an SEO customer with eSterling and the team pointed out that I could benefit from a new website. I took the plunge and had a new website designed earlier this year. I’m really pleased with the look of the new site, and I’ve also seen a 20% – 30% increase in business since it went live, which is brilliant considering times are tough for everyone.”
You can view the new Park Farm Shooting website at www.parkfarmshoot.co.uk. The shooting ground is available for corporate events, stag weekends and shooting days as well as shooting lessons.
Following Phil’s post on Friday, which was about how to choose a web design company, we thought we’d go back one step further.
Our Back to Basics guide will talk you through everything you need to know about setting up your own website. We will be posting a series of articles discussing domain names, hosting, web design and SEO. All the posts will be jargon free – we promise.
So onto Part 1… Do I Need A Website?
With an estimated 51million of us in the UK now online, getting a website for your business makes perfect sense.
If you decide to make the commitment to having a website which is easy to use and easy to find, you could be opening up a huge potential market.
Online retail is now growing six times faster than high street retail and UK companies are exploiting this trend by selling products through e-commerce websites.
Even if you don’t want to sell online, research shows that 83% ofUKshoppers use search engines to research a purchase before they buy. This is also true for consumers looking for services, making a website a cost-effective way of advertising your company.
However, a web site which isn’t seen by your customers is like a shop with no front door. It is essential that your website can be found by using search engines such as Google, which is where SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) comes in.
SEO is about making your website easily found when people use search engines to look for keywords related to your business. We will be discussing SEO in more detail later in the series.
If you would like more information about getting your own website please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tune in for the next Back to Basics when we will be discussing domain names.
Choosing the right web design company is a tricky thing. There’s a lot at stake, and if you end up with a bad design, bad code and are nowhere to be found in the search engines then you’re at a massive loss.
Here are a few pointers to help you narrow down your search and find the perfect company for you:
Don’t just go with the first company you find in Google. Ask people you know or local businesses with good websites which company they used.
Is their own website designed well?
There’s nothing worse than a web design company with a terrible website. If a company can’t design and maintain their own website well enough, will they do that for you? Although you don’t need to like their design, a well designed site is a good indicator.
Do you like their design work?
Every designer should have a portfolio. Have a look at their work, and see if anything catches your eye. Always remember that every client wants a different thing, so bear in mind that they may not have the same aims as yours.
Do their sites work well?
There’s a lot more than just the design. Check their sites in different browsers to see if they break or look same across the board. Make sure they are easy to navigate, well thought out and convey the client’s message well.
Have they made a site with features you want?
Although it’s unlikely that they will have made something to your exact specification, they may have made a site with certain parts you need e.g. ecommerce, content management system etc. Don’t be afraid to contact the company and ask them for specific examples of things you are after.
Do their sites rank well?
Try and find some of their portfolio sites in Google, obviously without using their company name! You want your completed website to be easily found, so make sure that they can do that for you.
So what’s next?
Gather a shortlist of the best companies you have found and approach each one with your specification. Remember don’t always go for the cheapest option. It is more important to go for a company that understands your needs, you can communicate well with and will deliver you exactly what you set out to get.