Getting online? Figure out the first step.
If you're new to creating a website, the number of different platforms and ways to get online can be a bit overwhelming. The first step you need to take is understanding what things you want your website to be able to do.
When we have new clients come to us to build their website for them, it's very common for our first question to be "what do you want your website to be able to do". It's an incredibly simple question, but one that a surprising number of people haven't really thought about. As a basic rule, what you want your website to actually be able to do (the functionality) will dictate what website platform you should choose to begin with. For example, if you are just wanting a straight forward informational website that you'll be able to edit really easily, then something like Weebly, Wix or SquareSpace will fit the brief. They offer drag and drop website editors that are specifically targeted at the average consumer being able to run their own website. However, when you start to add any sort of complexity to a site (think membership systems, databases, or to a lesser extent e-commerce), then you will need to start looking at website platforms with more flexibility (with WordPress being the initial starting point for alot of people). A few things we'd recommend considering:
Once you've chosen a website platform (or content management system) to move ahead with, the design process generally ends up involving two major stages. First up, you'll need to pick the styling or 'theme' of your website. This styling will flow through all your pages, so it pays to take a little bit of time up front getting that right. If you are a newbie, we'd recommend keeping it simple. Pick out a base colour (usually white, sometimes black), and then a max of two colours from your branding and stick with those. Keep the number of fonts to a minimum (two is safe - one for headings and one for the body text), and if you are playing it safe, you can get away with just one main focal image on each page. If you follow those basic guidelines, you'll at least be starting down a middle ground track and shouldn't scare customers away.
With the design and theming chosen, you'll then need to start adding your content to the site. Think about using headings that make sense for both the readers and search engines, and try to sit in the shoes of your customers and clients. Figure out what your end goal is, and make it as easy as possible for your customers or clients to get to that point. Use call to action buttons regularly throughout the site, so people are only ever one or two clicks away from a conversion for you. If you have a more complicated site, or specific functionality, make sure you do some decent research about any third party plugins you use on the site. We always suggest keeping plugins to a minimum - as it's just less things to worry about in terms of security and ongoing maintenance.
Ultimately, website design falls into one of those categories of things you could do yourself, but isn't necessarily completely straight forward. Like most things in life, an expert or specialist in the field will tend to be able to provide you a higher quality result with more conversion potential, and they'll probably do it quicker as well. The investment you make in getting a website designer to do the work ultimately saves you time that you can put into other parts of the business. We love seeing our clients having a crack at the online side of things themselves (and everything we build let's them take over the running of the site), but also think that it's worth having a chat with us, or another expert, before diving into a build yourself. We're always excited to have a no obligations chat with anyone, and will steer you in the right direction regardless of whether you use us, another designer, or build a site yourself, so don't hesitate to get in touch with us today.
Understand the basic hierarchy and elements of your online profile
When we first jumped into the website design world, the first learning curve for us is the first learning curve most business owners take as well. You want a website address, a website, and email account - but don't really understand how they interact.
At 543 we're all about giving our clients as much knowledge or upskilling as they want when it comes to the online world, and one of the most important things to understand is that your domain, website hosting and email hosting are separate things, that can be held in separate places. We like to use the analogy of a house to explain it:
Sometimes it's easy for those of us in the online space to assume that everyone knows the basics of how the web works, but it can be a pretty foreign place to most. Don't ever feel like there is a dumb question. In fact, we encourage you to contact us and drill us about anything online, we're more than happy to chat.
You've got an idea - but where to from here?
As a branding and website design company, we have seen a lot of businesses start from scratch, and can give a unique view on what works and what doesn't.
If you're reading this blog post, you're likely to be sitting on a gem of an idea that you'd like to turn into a fully fledged, income earning business. In some ways that initial idea can be both the easiest and hardest part of the journey - with something like 20% of all businesses failing within the first 2 years of launch. Below we've laid out a few basic lessons we've learnt through both our own, and our client's, experiences.
Starting a business is a daunting and exciting journey. For most, there will be alot of hard work and toil that goes into the early years, but if you do push through and grow your business, the long term rewards and sense of satisfaction are huge. Hopefully the above gets you on the right track in terms of a thought process and if you are in the early stages of getting started, don't hesitate to contact us for a no obligations chat. We're more than happy to talk you through specific experiences we've had with other clients in your industry, and can provide you with helpful insights that may save you a buck in the long run. We love it when our clients succeed, and there is nothing better than being there from day one.
Top Napier Website Companies
If you are looking for a website designer in Napier, you are spoilt for choice with options when it comes to both quality and budget.
As a proudly Hawke's Bay based company, we are obviously pretty bias when it comes to the region, but having worked with alot of the website designers in the Bay, we are constantly impressed with the quality of business that New Zealand's regions continue to produce. Our local design industry services the whole country now - helping businesses of every size get online whether they be in Auckland, Wellington, Amberley or Whangarei. With that in mind, it came as no surprise to us to see Top Reviews post their article on the best website designers in Napier recently. It's great to be included in this list, but it's also pleasing to see some of our other favourite local web design companies getting recognition as well and just a reminder of the quality of local talent spread throughout this fantastic country.
So whether you are a local Napier business looking to improve their online presence, or a company from farther afield in New Zealand after top quality design - our little tech forward part of the world has something to offer everyone. Don't hesitate to contact us if you have a question about websites or anything else online.
What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
If you have a website or are looking to get one soon, one of the first little acronyms that you'll hear thrown around is "SEO". But what is SEO and how much do you need to invest in it? Why should you care, and can you do something about it yourself? In this first instalment of 'The Basics', we dial back the technical terms and get to the guts of what SEO means to you and your business.
SEO - Search Engine Optimisation - what's that?
SEO stands for 'Search Engine Optimisation'. It's a broad term that covers a range of techniques used to try to get your site performing the best it possibly can in search engine results naturally. So rather than paying Google to run your ad at the top of the search rankings, the goal of an SEO plan is to bring your website up to the top of the rankings without needing to pay Google.
But how does it work?
Imagine reading through every website on the internet and then trying to put them into topic categories, regions, and in order of which site is the best match for a topic and a region. That's effectively what Google's algorithm is doing every day and is a great starting point for understanding how SEO and search engines work. Unfortunately, Google can't watch through the videos on a website, or see a picture and know what's in it (although we're sure that may change in the future!). What Google can look at is what is written on the site and where it is written. That's the starting point for SEO - the 'on-site' factors which tell Google what your site is about. The search engines also then look at how the site relates to the rest of the internet (eg what other websites are talking about a site), and that makes up the second part of the equation - the 'off-site' factors. A good SEO plan is all about getting those on-site factors and off-site factors targeting the topics and search terms you want your website to show near the top of the rankings in.
So what are the on-site factors I need to worry about?
Exactly what the Google algorithm looks at in ranking a website isn't absolutely set in stone. As the algorithm evolves, different elements of your site will be looked at differently by Google, but there are some 'rules of thumb' you can follow.
And what about off-site factors?
The off site part of SEO can be a little trickier to get your head around. While looking at all the sites on the internet, Google is also following the links between sites to try to better understand what they are about. For example, if your local Rugby Club has a website and it links off to the local Netball team website, Google will be looking at that link to identify if they are related in some way. On top of that, the search engine knows that if a high ranking, high quality website is linking off to another site, then that other site should be looked at in higher regard. Equally, if a low ranking, low quality site links off to another site, then that negative may rub off on that site as well. So where possible, if you can have your site featured in articles on well regarded sites that are about the same topic area that you work in, you'll see benefit.
Also think about sharing your website links through your social media channel's regularly. Google has an uncanny knack of identifying popularity on the internet in general, so if your social media channels flourish (and you link back to your website), then expect good things!
Do I need to worry about anything?
As you do a search for SEO you might see the terms 'white hat' and 'black hat' SEO pop up. These terms basically allude to there being good ways and bad ways of doing SEO, and they get thrown around in different contexts that can be quite confusing. The bottom line is that as Google evolves, some of the techniques used in the past to jump up the search rankings have started to have negative effects. As a basic rule, anything a human would look at as 'unnatural' on your site will increasingly be recognised by the search engines as you trying to game the system. For example, cramming hundreds of keywords in the site meta data used to be the way to tell Google what the site was about - that no longer really works. Same goes with overloading your page with keywords (ie having only keywords on the page without other text around it). Link building in particular can be slightly risky these days - beware of a 'toxic link' - ie a link from a website that has nothing to do with your topic area, from a site that Google doesn't necessarily trust. If you have an SEO specialist that suggests a 'link building' campaign, just make sure they are cautious about where they are getting those links from. Some of these dodgier SEO techniques may give your site a short term bump, but long term could damage your rankings.
Do I need to do anything?
So the good news is that even if you do absolutely no SEO on your site, it's possible it will start moving up the search engine rankings. There are so many factors that contribute to a ranking, that if you have a reasonably good site in a niche that isn't super competitive, then over time your site can creep towards that coveted front page ranking. However, if you aren't running a rankings scan, and haven't got an eye to the SEO side of things, then you are leaving things to chance a little bit. It would be like Usain Bolt showing up to the Olympic final without training for the last year - his natural talent miiiight pull him through, but it's far more likely the runners that have been training will cross the line in front of him. SEO is very much like training in that regard - it can be a pain in the ass, and if you don't do it then it isn't the end of the world...but if you want to win - then it's probably something you should look into.
For more information about SEO or anything in our "The Basics" series, don't hesitate to contact [email protected] .
Giving for good this Christmas
As the end of the year quickly approaches us, businesses throughout New Zealand will be looking at thanking their clients and showing gratitude in what has been an extremely tough 2020. But is there a better way to give this Xmas?
Bottles of booze will be wrapped, gift boxes will be sent, and branded items will fly around the country as we all look to make sure our clients and suppliers know just how important they are to us. Small gestures can be huge, and it's always important to thank those in our circles that have made 2020 just that little bit better. However, this year in particular has shone a light on alot of kiwis that are doing it tough - and there is no time like Christmas to look outward when it comes to giving. Increasingly, businesses and clients really appreciate seeing social good being done, and there are a huge range of fantastic charities around that you are able to donate to on your client's behalf. This year, instead of sending out our annual Christmas gift, 543 are going to direct those funds into a few donations to charities - and we'd really encourage anyone who was thinking of sending us a gift to do the same.
With New Zealand having 27,000+ charities - the real trick becomes figuring out where to send a Christmas donation. From child poverty, to medical advances, there are literally thousands of worthy causes to get behind. If you're so inclined, you can dive into the Charities Register to have a look through all of New Zealand's charities, but below we've provided a few thoughts to help you land on the charity that is right for you.
What's important right now?
Choosing where to give probably starts at having a think about what is going on in the world right now, and what charities might be needing help in this moment in time. 2020 has obviously seen alot of families fall on tough times, so for us a charity like KidsCan, or The Salvation Army makes alot of sense. Housing is also a burning topic at the moment - so Habitat for Humanity could be another good option, or take a look at The Kindness Institute - which focuses on overcoming anxiety, fear and stress. Equally, you may recognise that alot of attention will be going the way of those charities this year, and so might look towards something like Canteen or Forest & Bird to make sure those other areas in need continue to get some backing while the spotlight is pointed elsewhere.
What's important to you?
Ultimately everyone has their own passions and life experiences that will guide their giving. You might want to get in behind climate change and our future leaders with Generation Zero or perhaps you have had someone close to you touched with dementia and Alzheimers NZ holds a special place in your heart. If there is something very important to you, you're bound to find a fantastic charity in New Zealand to get behind.
Go local - or look abroad?
For 543 one of the first things we did was have a look around for charities in our region. The Hawke's Bay Foundation, with their approach of spreading donations across a range of charities locally was a natural fit. You'll be able to find your own local charities with a little bit of looking, and in 2020 it does seem fitting to support local. With that said, New Zealand's response to Covid-19 has put us in an enviable position globally, and there are alot of overseas causes that will have increasing need of help. The poorest countries in the world will be the last to get a vaccine, so something like Unicef for example will remain important.
What is happening around you?
The last little consideration that we looked at was where our colleagues and fellow businesses have directed their giving this year. We're truly stoked to have seen both our competitors and friends already donating to Surf Life Saving NZ and Send A Little Smile. Those are both charities we could easily get behind, but knowing some other awesome businesses have backed them, also let's us have a look around at other options to share the love this Christmas season.
At the end of the day, if you are choosing to support a charity this year instead of send out gifts this Christmas, who you donate to will be a really personal choice - and there shouldn't really be a wrong answer! Above are just a handful of example options we've included - hopefully they spark a light bulb moment for you about where you'd like to give this year. Have a look around, understand what the cause you are getting behind stands for and give for good in 2020.
It's the time of the year when the internet starts to go crazy with specials! Given how tough 2020 has been for so many people, here at 543 Design we've decided to extend a 20% discount for 2020's Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale. Just complete the below form before 1 December 2020 and we'll apply a 20% discount to your website design fee. Our prices are already some of the best in the business, so get yourself an incredible site for an incredible price this weekend.
*Can be applied to as many sites as required, however discount is a maximum of 20% and can not be used in conjunction with any other 543 discount.
How subtlely rebranding can keep your company identity
It should come as no surprise in today's online economy that positive reviews are hugely beneficial for your business. Whether you have a physical retail store, own a cafe, run a law firm, or have an e-commerce website, Google reviews may be one of the first things a potential customer sees about your company. It's hugely important to cultivate a good selection of reviews, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by sending a Google review link directly to your customers. Below are a few simple steps you'll need to follow to create that Google review link.
How to Create a Google My Business Review Link
1) Claim your Google My Business Profile
This may be something you have already done, but if not, it's a crucial first step towards not just improving your Google reviews, but also improving your general profile on Google. To claim your profile simply head to https://www.google.com/business/ , sign up, and create your businesses profile. If you have a marketing company working for you, they may have already done this, and you'll just want to liaise with them about the next few steps.
And you are done! Hopefully this has helped you get your review link out to more of your clients, but if you have any questions about this, website design, or anything else on our site, don't hesitate to contact us today.
Is e-commerce right for your business?
With Coronavirus seeing more and more individuals self isolating, the world of e-commerce is going to become increasingly important. Have you geared your business up to be able to sell your products or services online?
It's fair to say that over the last decade the way that we do business has changed. The wealthiest company and man in the world has their entire business based around the concept of buying goods without ever having to step foot in a physical store. Gone are the days of needing a storefront and physical premise to run an effective business. The not so new, but ever more important frontier of digital business is becoming the driving factor to many companies profitability.
For New Zealanders, that spells opportunity. Whether you are an established business without an online presence, a new shop that hasn't branched into e-commerce, or someone just starting out their journey - starting an e-commerce website could offer you a fantastically cost effective way to increase your bottom line.
So what is e-commerce?
In it's simplest form e-commerce is any online facility that lets consumers buy products or services online. This could be physical products, digital products (like books or videos), or even online services like video and skype consultations. The key component is that the offering is paid for through the website.
Why is e-commerce such a good option?
E-commerce can potentially open up a whole world of consumers to a company. New Zealand in particular has a fantastic reputation globally, so for some of our industries in particular e-commerce opens up overseas markets that absolutely love us. Coronavirus has proven that when something like a pandemic hits, brick and mortar day to day business is put at danger, while an opportunity opens up online as more consumers seek to have their goods and services delivered to their doorstep. It's a trend that existed before this global health event, and it'll be one that continues after it.
Can my business operate an e-commerce site?
The first thing you need to ask yourself is 'do my products and services NEED to be performed in person'.
For most physical products, the answer will be absolutely not. If you can pick it up and hold it, chances are you can package it up and sell it online.
For intellectual services, your knee jerk reaction may also be 'I can't sell what I do online' - but have a real think about that. Could you digitise your knowledge? Create a series of articles or videos that you could sell online? Could you run online seminars, or hold consultations via Skype or online? There is a huge amount of scope for growth in the majority of professional services businesses online.
And lastly that leaves those industries that rely on physically touching and seeing their consumers. Your physio's, doctor's and dentists for example. Obviously alot of your job will be based around in person consultation, however, you also hold alot of valuable knowledge that could be digitised. Doctors clinics are already looking at running video consultations for example.
What does it cost to do e-commerce?
Generally the cost of e-commerce will vary depending on the solution you go for. It would be rare for you to have hosting costs of less than about $50 per month, and inevitably if you take payment online, you'll be paying a percentage of each sale to a payment gateway provider (around the 3-4% mark). There are obviously delivery costs to consider, and the initial cost of setting up or creating an e-commerce website. You can see our website design pricing here. Our pricing is below $2,500 + GST for a website design - putting us at the lower end of what a website designer would charge for an e-commerce site. You can of course make a site yourself, but having a professional opinion can often pay dividends in the long run.
So why haven't you got an e-commerce site yet?
If you've been thinking about it for a while, this Coronavirus scare might be just the prompt you need to get your e-commerce website underway. There is plenty of upside, and in times like these it's important to look at how your business can adapt and improve. It's never all doom and gloom, and where there is hardship, there is often opportunity for growth.
As we've said in a number of blogs now, if sales slow, remember that alot more people are going to be online as more self isolation occurs. Shift your focus to online advertising, and take any slow period as a chance to improve what your doing as a business. Your website design is a great place to start that.
Be sure to get in touch with us if you have any questions at all about an e-commerce website or anything online.