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.
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.
This month Keiran Reid from Freeparking (a New Zealand web host) has been good enough to create a guest post on his view of Weebly versus Wordpress for us. 543 creates all our websites in Weebly, so it's great to have this impartial view - and we add our extra thoughts at the end of this blog.
The Guest Post on Weebly v WordPress
At their core, Weebly and WordPress are both Content Management Systems or CMS’s which let non-technical users edit websites. Both exist in the same basic niche, in that they allow you to create or edit a website, blog or e-commerce store. They both present a range of features to users and have various strengths and weaknesses that we will explore in this article.
Ease of use:
As a cloud hosted service through Weebly Inc, getting started entails getting access to an account by either signing in with your username & password, or signing up with a Weebly Cloud provider like 543 Design. The drag and drop interface makes it extremely easy for non-technical website owners to add or edit content, the idea is that you shouldn’t need to touch any code for most changes.
Provided as open-source (free) software, WordPress can be installed into any standard web host service. It has been around longer than Weebly and it is known for being the tool of choice when it comes to blogging and eCommerce.
Plugins and integrations:
When you make a website in Weebly, there is an admin backend area. It includes a long list of built-in tools and functionality like an online store, contact form, blogs, maps, images etc. You don’t have to install any Plugins to get a good level of functionality. Weebly manages the entire platform for you, so day-to-day plugin security management and the website unexpectedly breaking are less of a concern.
WordPress is an open source website builder, as an open system, there is a lot more freedom for third parties to contribute and extend the system, when they have been doing for years by providing both free and paid “Plugins”. Using the right plugin can add a useful your website’s functionality, but a poorly built plugin can have negative implications for your website’s performance and security.
The Weebly Ecommerce platform is designed to make it quick and easy to setup an online shop. It is a great Ecommerce solution for small businesses that need to build a simple online store with a few handy features.
WordPress, by way of the WooCommerce plugin, is a popular choice for building an Ecommerce website. It is used by many organizations from small one person shops all the way up to large enterprises.
Weebly is a perfect solution for making small websites quickly, whereas WordPress excels at blogging and eCommerce. With a simplified page editor, and tech support on-call when needed Weebly is a great choice for small businesses who need a great website. In comparison, WordPress can be a good choice if you have a larger project that needs advanced customization.
Both Weebly and WordPress are able to have custom themes developed by a professional web developer. There can also be several other complexities involved in actually getting a website live which may mean you need to seek assistance or get a professional web developer.
543's Thoughts on Weebly v WordPress
From day one, 543 Design made the conscious decision to design in Weebly rather than WordPress. That has given us a unique perspective, and we definitely think that for most small businesses, Weebly is the way to go. In a nutshell:
Weebly really is a fantastic platform and we love working in it. For a really complex build, sometimes we do suggest other platforms, but for 95% of clients out there, it's the ideal fit.
Get in touch with us if you'd like to get us to build your site, or try giving it a crack yourself direct with Weebly. And if you really want to get fancy, try one of our Weebly Themes (Weebly Templates) - they are really easy to add to your site and give it a whole new level of professionalism.
If you do decide to use WordPress, please get in touch with us and we can recommend a WordPress designer we trust. A big thanks to Keiran from Freeparking (a sister company to our domain provider Discount Domains) - if you have a WordPress site and are looking for a New Zealand web host - either of those companies would be a great place to start looking.
The difference between a $1,200 website and $12,000 website will largely fall into one of those categories. If you've got a highly complex development that needs lots of smart software developer hours, then that will bump the price up. But if you're just looking at a reasonably standard informational website, then you really shouldn't be paying an absolute arm and a leg. Just as an example, let's have a look at how 543 gets to our 'cheap' website design prices:
Personally, we always try to steer clear of that phrase 'cheap web design'. Why? Because the quality of our websites isn't cheap, the result doesn't look cheap, and our clients certainly aren't cheap. Rather, we'd like to think we are the smarter choice. Affordable, friendly, New Zealand web design that gives your company the internet presence it deserves.
Hotjar - visualising website data
Because we spend every day reading tech articles to keep ahead of the curve, Facebook will often give us 'suggested' posts or pages for tools to help out on websites. We'll tend to give them a test and every now and then one will impress us enough with it's functionality and pricing to start using regularly and recommend to our clients - HotJar seems to fall into that category.
What is HotJar?
In a nutshell, HotJar creates 'heat maps' on your website - showing you exactly where people are clicking, scrolling and moving on different pages on your site. It gives you the ability to quickly understand how people are using your site - which in turn can help you make changes to the site to make it more effective. Below we've given a very brief overview of some of the features and what they do.
The aspect of HotJar that most people will immediately be drawn to are the heatmaps generated for the site. It shows you how users are interacting with your website design on a computer, mobile and tablet - showing you where they move their mouse, click, and how far down the page they navigate. It can be really intriguing information and if used correctly, should give you an understanding of why your site may or may not be converting into sales. Below are a couple of the heatmaps we generated for our homepage over a few days. What we learned pretty quickly is that twice as many people viewed the site on a computer as a mobile, and next to no-one did on a tablet. That's good info for us - and that stat will no doubt change from industry to industry...but it shows how important the mobile version of a site is. Other than that, what you'll see in the graphics is the attrition rate from the top to the bottom of our single scrolling website. Only about 30% of users make it all the way down to our contact form - which is real food for thought and something we'll put our mind to in tweaking our site in the future.
The other features
HotJar comes with a whole stack of other features that some users will really love. You can choose to have each user's journey on your site recorded. This is a fantastic little piece of insight as you can literally sit and watch where the user's mouse tracks on your page. It's an excellent way to see what parts of the site people may be moving away from, where they are trying to click or move on the page, and just in general get an understanding for whether your site is getting used as you want it to be.
Another feature that the HotJar team suggest you use is the 'poll' and 'survey' pop ups - which appear on your site and askusers a question about what they think about the site. We can see the benefit of asking questions of your users (whether there is anything that they want to see on the site, or if they had any issues), but with our site already having a 'sales' point pop up, we didn't want to be too intrusive to people on it so didn't test these particular features.
The final feature that we think alot of clients will get a kick out of is the contact form monitoring tool. By creating a form with HotJar, you will be able to identify exactly where on the form you are possibly losing customers. For websites that utilise a big contact form, that could be extremely useful - helping you refine your forms so that you make sure you hear from everyone who starts to get in touch. Again, with a contact form of only three fields on our site, we didn't give this feature a run, but will do so further down the track.
All in all we found HotJar very useful. It's easy to set up (you just need to drop a little snippet of code onto the pages on your site you want to monitor - something easily done by your web team), and the data is pretty instant and understandable. Cost wise, there is a free version for sites with smaller amounts of traffic - which will probably suit most small businesses in New Zealand. We've already had a couple of clients look to start using it, and if you take the time to analyse the data and actually make changes based on that feedback it could be an incredibly powerful tool.
Find out more at HotJar:
What domain name
We continually find ourselves trying to explain why it is so important to give your website a refresh. Technology moves at a rate of knots these days and even if you had an amazing website design a few years ago, chances are it will start to look dated FAST if you don't keep on trend and up to date.
Sometimes though, a picture is worth a thousand words and you just need to see change in action. Below are a few of the biggest websites globally, and looking at them you can get a real impression of why change is so important.
Drop us a line to talk about our super hosting package that includes a yearly website update in it to make sure you stay on trend. Keeping a constant improvement ends up being cheaper in the long run and ensures you'll always be at the forefront of the web.
Our Tech Blog
The founder of 543 Design & Online gives his thoughts on everything web and branding.
We're always happy to have a chat about anything you read on here - just get in touch!