Every site is different - but here are some of our favourites.
With 4 years and over 200 sites up online we often get asked for the favourite websites we've built. Picking your favourite site is a little bit like picking your favourite child as every client has different tastes and brings different things to the party when designing a website with us.
Below we've tried to showcase a few of the sites we really like that we've built. Because every client is different, we've tried to give a nice variety of sites. Check them out and grab some inspiration, or contact us if you have something completely different in mind - we love a new project and building something unique!
Our personal favourites
In recent times the great majority of our clients have started to look at not just having a website live and getting people to that website, but how they can get conversions from their website. In this blog we take a look at how you can best set up your landing page and homepage to increase conversions - whether that be through leads or sales.
Sometimes in business, life and design, less can definitely be more. Trusty Wikipedia will tell you that Hick's law (named after William Edmund Hick and Ray Hyman), describes the time it takes for a person to make a decision based on the number of choices they have in front of them. It sounds pretty simple, but the science basically shows that the less choices in front of a person, the quicker they will make a choice. Quick choice's are crucial online. Putting that into practice, if you have a specific goal, you need to make that one choice the only thing the client is pondering. For example... contact us now if you need a website refresh, online advertising, or to put these theories into action on your site!
Rule of thirds
In photography it's widely recognised that if you divide your photo into thirds, it becomes more appealing to the viewer. The same applies to websites, and we can take that a step further. On a PC in particular the user will generally start on the left hand side of the page, then scan down and across it left to right. With that in mind, the 'F' layout is a great one to use - tracing those 'thirds' of the screen. You'll find alot of effective sites will have their call to action placed in the mid/bottom left hand side of the visible portion of the landing page, at the intersection of the bottom left third. Keeping that general layout in mind can really help when setting up your landing pages.
Don't be afraid of blank space
Often when a newbie is putting together a design they think is great, they will shy away from empty spots and white space. They want to cram all their information into the first part of a landing screen, and so think blank space is wasted space. That's a big misunderstanding. Negative space can be used to bring real attention to your call of action, can simplify the page, and can in fact make it look alot better. Use that negative space to draw the user's attention to your call to action button - and remember that simplicity can be the winner on the day.
On this note, definitely give a bit of space between your text by setting a taller line height. At a minimum it's a good idea to have your line spacing at 1.5 times the size of the font - leaving a half gap of white between lines. It is easier for the viewer to read, and also gives a great design aesthetic.
The placement of your call to action buttons in particular can also be guided by Fitt's law. Borrowing from Wikipedia again, this scientific law predicts that the time required to rapidly move to a target area is a function of the ratio between the distance to the target and the width of the target. So, if your mouse is close to a big button, you will click it more often than a small button that is on the other side of the screen. It's another fairly obvious statement, but critical to getting increased conversions on your homepage. Use a reasonably large button, not too far from the centre of the screen (remembering the 'F' layout) and you should be onto a winner.
Our overall 543 thoughts
Like everything online, there is a balancing act to be had between a highly optimised site for SEO, lead conversion, and a visually good looking website. All of the above can really be narrowed down to the KISS principles of keeping it simple. Focus on one major call to action and one piece of messaging, keep the landing page uncluttered around that call to action button and you're off to a very good start. Ensure the button is big, the colour of it contrasts with the rest of the site, and place it in a sensible place near the centre left of the screen. If you can nail those things on the first load of your landing page, you have a site design targetted at increasing conversions.
This has been a great blog for us to delve into and increasing sales and leads is something we are passionate about. Over the next few weeks we'll expand on this blog and look at other techniques and tools that can help you get the most out of your site. In the meantime, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us.
As we reach the end of another financial year alot of businesses will be sitting down to evaluate their place in the market. One of the first things that always comes under the microscope is the pricing of both products and services. It's always something that is worth evaluating, and both an increase or a decrease in your pricing can have positive or negative effects on your overall bottom line. Here at 543 we certainly aren't experts in economics by any stretch of the imagination, but we do have the privilege of helping companies of all types get their businesses online. We've also spent a whole lot of time researching pricing and below are a few of the underlying factors we've seen recommended time and again.
Don't do something for nothing
This might seem obvious, but one of the big pitfalls that small businesses in particular fall into is pricing their products and services at cost. The logic is pretty obvious "if this costs X, then it shouldn't be sold much more than X." It's a really admirable way to do business, but it's also not sustainable. If you want to be fair to your customers and provide them with a great service LONG TERM, then you need to make sure that your company also makes enough margin to last a long time as well. For example, no one wants us to build them a website and not be around a year later to be able to manage it. To be the 'good guy' with great prices and longevity, you'll need to make money somewhere along the line.
Research, research, and a little bit more research
The beauty of an open market is that there are bound to be a number of competitors in whatever your field is, and there are likely to be some competitors near you. If your 'costs' are the absolute baseline for what you can sell, your competitors can be an easy barometer of where you can price products or services including profit/margin. Really look around hard and identify what competitors price themselves at and figure out where you want to fit in the price scale compared to them.
Who is your customer and what will they pay
Trying to understand what your customer might be willing to pay for your product or service is a really tricky proposition. For small businesses in particular, your gut instinct is probably to value your services less than what a consumer will actually pay for them. That's where your competitor research comes in handy - if you can identify a successful competitor with a similar product, then you know that you can match them and also have sales. Of course, you may also want to grab a different part of the market to your competition. If so, it may be worth canvasing that market to understand what their pricing perception is.
Pricing for perception
As counter intuitive as it may seem, a lower price point can potentially lead to less sales - depending on the product and the target market. A lower price can lead consumers to a belief that the product or service is going to be 'less' than something that is priced higher. For something like web design, this is definitely a phenomena we come across regularly. Our website prices tend to be on the lower end of the scale, and that comes with a risk that they are perceived as 'cheap'. Regardless of how high the quality of our work is, the pricing can still give the impression that if a customer uses us, they will not be getting a 'premium' product. That obviously isn't correct, and so our sales pitch needs to counter that perception.
Be smart with your pricing structure
A big pitfall of pricing a product or service can be that businesses get a little bit one dimensional in their thinking. Some industries will jump straight to their normal way of doing things, when there might be another way to look at pricing the same product or service that could generate more sales and increase revenue. Law firms, for example, will religiously price by an hourly rate, rather than going to a project based approach. That's just an example of course, but every business should at least go through the thought process of whether the way they are pricing could be done differently. Should you have multiple levels of products or services? Should you bundle groups of products or services? Should you offer discounts? Can you run a recurring revenue system instead of a one off fee approach? You might end up back where you started - but at the very least going through this thought process should get you closest to the pricing scenario that works best for you.
Behind the curtain - 543's practical example
As always, we like to be pretty transparent in what we do, so we thought we'd delve into how we've reached our pricing structures and the thought processes we went through. These will be different for everyone, but hopefully they at least give a real world example when setting your own pricing:
It's important to realise that each business will have a slightly different approach to setting their pricing. Some of our competitors (who we have immense respect for and will sometimes even refer clients to) are in a completely different price bracket to us because of things like cost structures and the segment of the market they want to be working with. We all have slightly different approaches to business and those different approaches can work for different companies. The important takeaway should be that it's always worth having a look at what you and your competitors are doing with pricing - and it's always OK to have an experiment and make a change.
As dedicated Weebly designers, we often get quizzed on how to make a brilliant website in Weebly. The platform itself is has a ton of features that make it incredibly easy to build a site for yourself, but as with anything, the difference between a good site and a great site is all in the detail. Below are a few of our tips on taking your Weebly website to the next level.
Keep it simple
The most common mistake we see newbies to website design fall into, is trying to make their site flashy and fancy. There are a ton of things you can do with a website, and Weebly has a whole lot of features to help you elevate the site, but if you are new to designing – less can be more. Web design is a constant balancing act between creating something that looks good versus something that also provides information to your customers and search engines. Err on the side of saying what you need to, without swamping the page with thousands of images and lots of text.
White is nice
Continuing on the theme of simplicity, if you aren’t confident in your design skills or taste, don’t be afraid to use white space. White is safe and it’s very hard to offend people’s sensibilities with white. So before you go and make the background of your website a whole colour block or a busy image, stop and think ‘will this look better with a white background’.
Learn the platform through and through
This may seem obvious, but there are a ton of features in Weebly for you to uncover. Open up the website builder and test every element and every button. Understand how placing an element works, and what different elements do at different sizes etc. The better you understand the platform, the more comfortable you’ll be in designing something really appealing in it.
Grab a custom Weebly theme
If you’re wanting to step slightly away from the usual themes that Weebly offers, have a quick search around for some of the custom themes there are out there. These can be slightly trickier to upload to a site, but they can give you the entirely unique look for your site you might be after. Our 543 Weebly Themes are an example of these, but there are some other great companies out there that provide some really nice themes.
Stumped? Search in the Weebly App Center
Sometimes you might be battling away trying to do something in Weebly and you just can’t get it to work. In these scenarios, if you don’t find an obvious element in the website builder, try searching the App Store. As an example, there are a number of apps that let you ‘hide an element’ on different size screens – which may come in handy if you want your mobile site looking slightly different to your PC site.
Get a Website Designer’s Help
Sometimes at the end of the day paying a specialist to make you a beautiful, functional site might be the best option. Any designer that spends their working life designing in Weebly will have tricks and coding knowledge that will elevate your site that extra bit higher than what you can achieve yourself. Your time may be better spent doing business development, or it may be that you’ve tried to make a site look good, but just can’t quite get there. Either way, there is absolutely no harm in chatting to a pro and seeing what they can do for you. We love bringing people’s dream sites to life – so consider it an absolutely privilege to be involved in any website build.
Those are our quick tips on how you can improve your Weebly site from a design perspective. Check back, as in the future we’ll give you a few more tips, including how to make the most of your Weebly site in search engine results.
As machine learning gets smarter and smarter, and Google's algorithm continues to evolve, it's going to be an interesting year for maintaining a strong online presence in 2019. Gone are the days of hustling the search engine by stuffing your page with keywords and hoping that sees it pop up the search results. Here are our top few thoughts on what search engine optimisation is going to mean in the new year and how you can keep performing well on Google.
A positive reputation online is the new word of mouth
Online reviews for businesses are becoming increasingly important in picking up work for companies. A highly reviewed business across platforms like Google & Facebook, as well as industry specific sites like TripAdvisor and the likes will see it's success breed success. Not only do those positive reviews influence a customer's decision making process, we've seen them increasingly help out from a search engine perspective.
The humanesque brain of the algorithm
As Google has evolved, it's AI capabilities are making it closer and closer to a human in it's ability to recognise original and valuable content. What that means for website owners, SEO specialists and content creators is that it's important to invest time in uploading quality content to your website and social media platforms. Automatically generated articles or regurgitated stories are falling to the wayside - so having a quality content creator on your team is going to be increasingly important.
The basics still apply
While the old days of keyword stuffing on websites is gone, the basics of white hat search engine optimisation continues. If you want to do well on Google, you'll still want to get a few things right. Say the right thing in the right places, make sure your site is technically well built and is optimised for speedy and mobile friendly use, and you'll be off to an excellent start.
Be social - in a way that's appropriate for your business
If you want to do well in search results, you should also want to be doing well on social media. In a perfect world you'd have multiple social media channels all engaging different audiences. Small businesses often don't have the time to be able to implement that sort of time, so consolidate your effort and focus on the platforms that suit your business. Getting your world out regularly and people engaging with your brand can definitely have a positive impact on search results.
Since 2019 has kicked off in earnest, anyone that follows tech news will have seen Facebook popping up in their newsfeed very regularly. It's been a busy month for the company, with them making a number of announcements about changes and new products coming throughout 2019. Below are a few of those announcements that caught our attention - and may be useful to know as a small business owner doing any sort of social media campaign or Facebook marketing.
Whatsapp, Instagram & Facebook Messenger to work together
A few clickbait style headings earlier this week announced that Facebook was "merging" Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. While there is some truth to that statement, the changes aren't quite as comprehensive as a full merger. In a nutshell, the plan is to make the underlying structure of the messenging parts of those apps work together. So for example if you have Facebook Messenger and your friend has Whatsapp, you'd still be able to message them directly. More importantly, that messaging is all going to have end-to-end encryption (starting with Facebook Messenger). So you can rest a bit easier knowing your messaging is safe from prying eyes.
Whether this is a sign of a bigger merger to come in the future will be interesting to see, but given Instagram's popularity, it seems unlikely that the platforms will be merged into some form of 'super' Facebook app.
Pages & Groups may be closed before they full violate policy
With all the recent 'fake news' and click baiting that has been coming through the Facebook platform, they've decided to tighten up their protocols by adding a 'Page Quality' tab. This tab will basically tell you as a page owner if your content is being removed or demoted because it is false, partially false, or has a false headline. The idea behind it is to eliminate more misleading content from the platform. In addition to this, the site is going to start banning Pages which are being used to share content that has originally been pulled from the site. For example, if you have two pages and one page is banned or has a post removed, this new policy means you really shouldn't then go and share that same content on the other page. They are calling these 'proactive removals'.
"Scam" button may be on the way
After seeing a few celebrities faces being used by scam posts on Facebook, the company has responded by announcing they will be aiming to launch a scam reporting button to posts - initially in the UK. Again, this whole roll-out of announcements certainly seems to be targeted at improving the trustworthiness of posts on the site.
Run your petitions through Facebook
In an attempt to be seen as more of a platform for social good, Facebook has announced a new feature called "Community Actions". If you have a cause for good, you'll be able to create that cause in Community Actions, tag relevant authorities & government bodies, and the public will be able to one click "Support" that cause, as well as run discussions etc within it. Like alot of things these days, the company will be testing the service in the USA and we'll be curious to see how well they are able to moderate the Community Actions that are posted. Will this just become another feature used negatively by the internet?
SUMMARY: How does this all affect your business?
Like most changes in the online space these days, the changes that Facebook are looking to bring quality to their product. Trustworthiness and reliability are the main focus, so if you continue to create genuine, original and truthful content, then you won't need to worry too much about the changes impacting your page.
As another frenetic year of business comes to an end, companies of all sizes will be looking to their sales and trying to understand how they can maintain or increase them as the holidays roll around. While those of you who run a brick and mortar store operation see hordes of customers come in store on Boxing Day, that trend isn't as much of a guarantee online. Remembering that online stores have the benefit of an upsurge of customers across Black Friday and Black Monday, there is certainly an art to remaining relevant online over the holiday period. Nowhere is that more prominent than in New Zealand, where our beautiful summer calls us away from our computers and out to the beach!
The first thing to understand about the post Christmas period is that it's not just about Boxing Day. It's always a good strategy to think of Boxing Day as the first day of a month long sales and marketing campaign. Your customers will be hunting around and expecting sales on Boxing Day, but their spending can continue into the New Year if you strategise correctly. With that in mind, sit down and come up with a bit of a plan that keeps your offering interesting for the whole month. For example, start the hype for Boxing Day early (so customers are looking forward to sales that are on the way), hammer those sales hard on Boxing Day, then get inventive with your offerings for the rest of the month. Think about different deals which might suit a New Year promo, as well as other ways to engage and reward your customer base.
To give you an idea of what strategies do work over the period, Big Commerce released some interesting stats on where sales came from amongst a group of surveyed companies. What the data shows is that there are definitely a number of ways to skin a cat, and that varying different offerings across the course of the month can let you have success in different ways.
Promos & Discounts - increase in sales
Of course if you don't get people to your website or store to see the above promos, you're going to be struggling to have any customer base at all. Thankfully, Big Commerce also took a look at where website traffic was coming to generate sales. Importantly, they noted that about 64% of sales were coming through companies websites (with 24.7% through brick and mortar stores). Remembering the data is from 2017 (and players like Instagram have definitely increased in prominence in 2018), below is a snapshot of what their data reveals.
So what would we do?
In our view having a clear, sustained plan over the holiday period is key. Making last minute decisions on promotions probably isn't going to happen as you get busy over Christmas, so start your lead in to Boxing Day pre Christmas and have a clear idea of what you are going to do. Be varied with your offers and specials, be inventive, and look to a range of media channels to get people to your site. Facebook advertising, Instagram posts, e-newsletter campaigns, solid Google advertising and SEO will all definitely help you start 2019 in style.
This year has been a huge year for security on the internet. Between the tightening up of privacy regulations and Google's push for "HTTPS everywhere", previously optional security features on websites are becoming the norm.
One of those important features is the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate - that gives your website that little "padlock" in the address bar and moves it from http:// to https://.
So what is an SSL certificate and why should you have it?
What is an SSL certificate?
In a nutshell, an SSL certificate ensures that your users data (think contact forms etc) is handled over a secure network. Basically an encrypted link is formed between the server and the person using your website. It means that forms, credit card details and other important information is kept safe from 'eavesdropping' as that data travels between the user on your site and your server.
Why should I have one on my site?
Beyond the obvious benefits of keeping your own site secure, an SSL certificate provides your users a higher degree of trust in your site and your product. Currently, a padlock in their browser let's every user know that your site is secure. On top of that, Google has always favoured those sites that take security seriously - so if you are serious about performing well in search results, having an SSL certificate is increasingly crucial. As of July 2018, that punishment from Google for non-secure sites is getting harsher and harsher.
Where'd the green lock go?
Because Google believes that a secure website should be the norm, not the exception, they've moved away from giving a 'green' padlock to secure sites. Rather, a secure site has a grey padlock while an insecure site will increasingly have the red explanation point and "Not Secure" alert.
How much does it cost?
The type of SSL certificate you have and who you are purchasing can change the price of an SSL certificate dramatically. In the past it has been a significant expense, but recently a number of providers have started to offer free SSL certificates. 543 agree's with Google's approach in making 'secure sites the norm', so every website we create and host comes with a free SSL certificate.
After putting hundreds of websites live for our clients throughout New Zealand and the Pacific, we've seen a few comments regularly come up when we put our first design draft together. One of the things we often hear is "make our logo bigger" - an understandable request, but one which is not necessarily best practice when it comes to design in general.
It's not about the logo - it's about the brand
One of the first things to understand before looking at logo sizes and placement is that your logo by itself is not your 'brand'. A good logo might become synonymous with a brand (the golden arches for example for McDonalds), but there is alot more that goes into creating a brand than just the logo.
If you think of one of New Zealand's big brands - "The Warehouse" for example - you'll start to get an understanding of why a logo only makes up a very small part of branding. The Warehouse and their 'big red sheds' bring up certain thoughts straight away - affordable, probably the lowest price you'll find for an item in New Zealand stores, and a money back guarantee. To be honest, I struggle to even visualise the Warehouse logo now as it has changed over time, but I suspect The Warehouse marketing team wouldn't be too upset by that. If a customer can name all those important aspects about the store, but not visualise the logo, then the brand is still a whopping success.
So how big should the logo be?
With the above in mind, whenever we are creating a website or any marketing collateral's, we will always think about the broader brand and messaging that we should be conveying. If a logo takes up half the screen, that's a missed opportunity to explain your products, or values, or convey a message to the customer. There is no strict rule on logo size, but it needs to balance against the rest of the page and messaging. If you take a look at some established companies logos, you'll quickly notice that they are often only 20-30px in height and don't take up much space on the page at all. That seems counter intuitive to alot of small businesses (and as a small business owner, you will probably want to go a little bit bigger than that), but the reality is that the smaller your logo, the more space available to display your product, services and messages.
You'll also need to consider the style of your logo and style of your site/marketing materials. Taking 543's logo on this website for example, we use a square logo in a sidebar menu. That sidebar menu takes up a bit more space than a conventional navigation menu would, but it also gave us the look that we were hoping for (and an easily navigable site). Because we have a square icon, we needed to have it a little bit larger than we would usually recommend - but that is balanced out by the navigation menu - and if you head to the homepage, you'll see that our messaging dominates the first drop.
Every site is different, and often logos are a different sizes and shapes, so there is no firm rule on how big you should have your logo - but as a general rule...think smaller rather than bigger.
In a (small) nutshell...
Don't forget to contact us if you have any questions at all about getting your brand, logo and website up and running.
As a website design business we are in a lucky position where we sometimes start to see big industry shifts early in the piece. One area that is currently seeing rapid change and advance is how we as businesses receive our money. Traditionally, any e-commerce store has needed some sort of third party payment gateway to accept payments. The likes of Payment Express and the big banks have dominated that space for many years, but recently the likes of PayPal, Square and Stripe have all started to take more of an interest in New Zealand and the options for kiwis are set to grow rapidly. More options means more competition, and that has to be a good thing, particularly as the new players to the market bring different pricing methods with them.
Most recently, we have seen that some of these online payment gateways are looking to expand their services to also offer ‘Point of Sale’ services (the POS in Eftpos - the ability for stores to take payments in person). The big mover in this space originally was Square. The basic premise of Square was to change the payment industry – bringing credit card processing to physical stores at a lower price point than the current terminal setups, letting you integrate payment methods with something as simple as your iPad. They extend that service to online payment gateways and their software basically becomes an all in one sales package for stores – with features that include inventory management. The big downside for us kiwis at the moment is that while we can use some of Square’s features (by coupling it up with Xero), they aren’t offering credit card processing in our little corner of the world just yet. That said, Australia is offered that service, so in our opinion, it won’t be long until Square does make it to our shores – and a bigger shake up to the industry takes place.
Running alongside Square in the online payment gateway space is Stripe (a company we have profiled before when we compared Stripe and PayPal). Stripe entered the fold as an alternative to online payment gateway providers – sitting somewhere in between Payment Express and PayPal in how it worked. They aimed to have the simplicity of PayPal in setup, but operate more like the conventional payment gateways in that they focus on online store payments (as opposed to peer to peer payments). As of yesterday, Stripe has announced that they are now moving into the Point of Sale space as well. Like everything they have done, Stripe’s offering is more targeted at developers, so you should expect to see it rolled out and packaged up with ‘3rd parties’, but either way it is very exciting news for businesses and consumers. Stripe is already in New Zealand with it’s online credit card processing, and while the POS system is only being launched in America at this stage, this is another big ‘watch this space moment’.
The final area to keep an eye on in NZ will definitely be the ‘after pay’ space. Australia in particular has seen that style of payment gateway explode, and from where we are sitting, each part of the world is starting to jump on that bandwagon to a lesser or greater extent. As it becomes adopted globally, expect to see these types of systems being offered more readily in platforms such as Weebly, Wix and SquareSpace – the consumer focused website and e-commerce options.
However the next few months pan out, it’s certainly going to be an interesting time for New Zealand business owners as more payment gateway and POS options land on our shores. We will certainly be keeping an eye on Square, Stripe and PayPal in particular – as we are increasingly eager to see easy to access, lower cost and integrated payment solutions made available.