Here at Designer Websites, we offer a bespoke web design and development service that provides our clients with unique and highly functional websites, which are scalable, fined-tuned to their needs, and are intended to offer the best user experience/impact possible. 

Whether your aim is to generate a strong and memorable brand image for your new company online, or to offer very unique functionality to your customers, there are multitude of benefits that come from investing in a bespoke website. 

A question we’re often asked by clients who are thinking of commissioning a bespoke website, is what makes this better than a template type site based on a pre-built system. 

On first impression, pre-built solutions can seem like a great idea for people who are starting out online, simply due to their low price point and accessibility. They are the ‘quick fix’ of the web design world, using shortcuts to get a website up and running in an attractive time frame, while allowing the user to build their design based on a set of ready-made foundations. While their popularity is undeniable, what this article will do is highlight why many of the benefits have drawbacks which outweigh the advantages, and why a bespoke web design could offer a more sustainable, professional advantage to you in the long term. 

Exclusivity and Customisation

As mentioned above, a template on a pre-built system can seem like a perfectly adequate solution for your website at first, especially as there are often thousands of designs that are available to choose from to make it feel unique. The fact that it’s pre-made, also means that you can test your site to see how it will look for the user once you have uploaded all the content. There is very little design or development time required and therefore the cost should be very low indeed. In fact many of these DIY type solutions allow you to build a site yourself, albeit you would need to be relatively web savvy to realistically get something operational.

Sounds ok so far right? So what are the drawbacks?

Unique Design

With many of these pre-built solutions there are thousands of template designs, with new ones becoming available every day. Over time of course, with hundreds of millions of websites online, they become less unique as more people choose the template. You can also tweak many of the templates to use different colours, images, etc; making them more specific to your company or requirements, but you can only go as far as the template will allow you. With many pre-built systems you can use a totally bespoke design on-top of the platform, which will give you some uniqueness for a while, again, within the constraints of the systems capabilities. These systems are meant to be easy to replicate and the code structure is always the same, so your design will not be unique for as long as you might like.

If you use a decent designer to create a template on top of a pre-built system, then you may well end up paying over-the-odds for what is fundamentally a template system, without gaining any of the benefits of a bespoke website. This is in fact where most people fall foul; these web designers are selling you what they term, or believe, is a ‘bespoke website’, when in fact it’s only a bespoke design within a rigid structure of a template system.

Moreover, we see companies charging ridiculous fees for what is simply a design, made relatively easy for the designer by the confinements of a pre-built system. After all, they believe that they are selling you a bespoke website, when actually they are most definitely not! 

Responsive or Emulated Responsive

A true responsive web design starts with the user interface designer, who should spend time creating separate designs for each device type, i.e. mobiles, tablets and monitors. The designer will carefully think about the user journey on the mobile, for example, excluding section and including the most relevant areas, making the point of the website more appropriate for that type of user in that situation. It may be a totally different layout to that of the monitor version. Along with this comes the usual menu style changes and resizing of images, etc.

An emulated responsive design, often employed by pre-built solutions or templates, is one where the system makes automated calculations based on the size of the screen and changes the style of the menu and resizes elements on like images and fonts on the screen. So it’s the same design/layout but adapted to the screen size. 

Emulated is better than not having a responsive design at all, but does not give the user the best experience, and does not sell your business of products in the best way.
Bespoke responsive websites are naturally far better than emulated responsive, so be sure what your web designer is offering you, ask them if it’s ‘true responsive’ or just ‘emulated’.

Expertise

Problems arise when you ask your web designer; ‘can we make it do this?’, or ‘can you make it do that?’, and the answer is often an intake of air and.. surprise surprise either 'no', or 'we can' for the cost of a small car! The reason for this is that they are not proper software developers, (although don’t straight up tell them that because they probably think they are) and fundamentally, they did not develop the system. They have merely placed the design on top of it, so it’s actually pretty tough for them to do what you are asking without outsourcing to a software development company.

A true bespoke website will be modern, totally unique, scalable, delivered by the people responsible for the coding and not just the design, and fundamentally if you need a change it is often very easy and quick, but most importantly very doable!
Truly bespoke websites are delivered by companies with a combination of professional software engineers, user interface developers and highly skilled web-specific designers. These tend to be far more stable companies and not your fly-by-night very small design-only firms, so an additional benefit is that you don’t have to worry about your website disappearing one day!

Some large companies take the view that pre-built solutions are a very fast way of making easy money, and therefore still deliver them. Sadly, these tend to be the companies who charge the same as a bespoke development company would for a truly bespoke website, but instead they deliver to you a pre-built template system at an extortionate price! It’s a very fast way to make money if you can sleep at night with this kind of business model...

So are bespoke websites more expensive? Well, they most definitely should be, because they require highly skilled and experienced people to develop them, butquite often they are not more expensive at all! In our experience, they are sadly often cheaper than the pre-built templates systems, because some unscrupulous companies charge a great deal for placing a design on top of a pre-built solution.

Code Age & Technology 

One of the biggest problems with pre-built solutions is that they cost the founding company a great deal of cash to develop, as they try to create a one-size-fits-all type solution. This then leads to them needing to sell that solution over and over for many years to claw back their costs. In turn, this often means that the pre-built solution being sold to you is 5 to 10 years old (or worse) based on old technologies and techniques, albeit its existence in an ever-changing technological world!

A bespoke website will be developed with the very latest technologies, available online techniques and scripting functionality, and there is significant benefit to this online, not least of which is the search engine optimisation benefits.  

Expansion and Optimisation

One of the most significant limitations posed by template systems is the inability to expand and improve your website over time. If you want to say integrate your Sage accounts, your ERP system, CRM or barcoding system, etc, this can often be made overly-complicated or even impossible! 

Plugins are often available within open source pre-built solutions, which are intended to offer the user the ability to extend the possibilities set out in a template, these can soon prove to be unreliable, insufficient, bug riddled and even highly insecure. Developed by third parties, these plug-ins could not only clash when used in combination with other plug-ins, but also with general system updates across the template platform. This puts the user in a lose/lose situation, due to the fact that while an update may affect the freedom granted by these additions, neglecting to conform to system updates could increase the chances of your site’s security being compromised (actually a common problem with templates). These plugins can not only compromise security and reliability but are often not optimised and therefore contain unnecessary code, making the system sluggish and unresponsive.

As far as online optimisation is concerned, your website should be light, fast and responsive to the user, making it easy to use. You want to offer your customers a speedy and useful journey through your website, and this too is what the likes of Google want. They don’t care about you or your business, they only care that the website they are affectively recommending is providing a useful experience. After-all, if they constantly linked to slow and poor quality websites, then we’d all stop using them to search for things on the internet right?

The problem with a one-size-fits-all system, is that it lends itself to providing quick and easy solutions, meaning that you don’t need to be very skilled or experienced to provide one, again meaning that the site will not be properly optimised. These systems contain lots of bolt-on’s and plugins to handle newer technologies that didn’t exist when it was created 10 years ago, which  just adds to the slowness and the bulkiness. Add to this the inherent security issues which arise with these systems, and you have to wonder why they sell so well.

Support and Security 

As I have already mentioned above, template websites can cause serious problems when it comes to security, simply due to the fact that they present an attractive target for hackers. If you own a bespoke website, then hackers would need to target it specifically and run lots of tools to find out where the admin area is, where the database is stored, etc. This makes the process far more time consuming, and therefore less appealing. Template websites tend to have the same admin login area, the same database location and the same codebase etc, so they are very easy to hack. As part of a wider network of replicated sites, they form a super easy target once a vulnerability has been identified. 

No website is safe from a really good hacker, all you can do is provide as much security as possible and make it more time consuming for them; if a good hacker wants your information they’ll get it! If they can get into military instalments or FBI systems, then they can most definitely get into your website if they really want to. The point is, why would they waste their time trying to get into a relatively secure and obfuscated website, when all these template type sites exist on the internet? These pre-built solutions make it easy for them, and the designers developing them actually know very little about the technical security of a website in the first place.

In fact, an inherent security issue is posed by the fact that many of these systems are open source, and provide free plugins. If you want a widget within your website to perform a specific task, you can simply look online to see if someone has created a plugin for it. Often you will find it has been done and most of the time these will be fine, but how would you or your designer know if that plugin had some backdoor access type code hidden within it, or keyboard tracking, or a million other security risks? Bear in mind that your designer didn’t write the code, and more than likely wouldn’t understand it even if they did try to read it.

Another disadvantage of using a template is the lack of support when things do go wrong, like some of the issues I have mentioned above. If you discover a problem with your website, without the proper expertise it can be very difficult to diagnose and fix. 

Summary

So a bespoke website will have the following benefits:


- Truly bespoke design – not easily replicated
- A true responsive design – not emulated
- A proper development and design team for support and assistance
- More modern and technologically advanced code
- True scalability and the ability to integrate any online technology as it becomes available
- Security from common vulnerabilities
- Importantly, an optimised solution that is light, fast and responsive
- And lastly.. value for money! We’re not simply pushing a design onto a pre-built solution and then charging you the price of a small car for doing so!


We’re happy to answer any questions you may have on this subject, if you do have any further enquires, please don't hesitate to get in touch.


In the lead up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Sage Pay released some interesting statistics and information concerning the way in which consumers would be shopping this year, highlighting the psychological motivations which urge people to buy into the frenzied purchase of Christmas bargains.  In collaboration with Professor Vince Mitchell and psychologist Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, they gave us an interesting insight into the psychological reasoning behind the spending habits of the British public, a few of which we will discuss in further detail below:

Fear of Missing Out: Triggering Primal Impulses

sage pay stats

With Sage predicting £1.7 billion to be spent this year, it’s clear that the increase in Christmas sales is not simply due to the fact that everyone’s feeling a little more charitable during the festive season. ‘Fear of Missing Out’ is an important factor in urging people to part with their money in cases where they would normally abstain from buying, which plays on our primal hunter-gatherer instinct to prioritize our survival of over that of others. While the conscious, logical mind knows that the prospect of getting a brand new television over the next person is far from being a life or death situation, 39% of shoppers said that the concept of getting the best deal was what urged them to buy. Consequently, 60% of shoppers admitted that they later regretted buying a bargain due to lack of need or use for the product, which demonstrates just how easy it is to play on people’s instincts in order to override the voice of reason which would usually prevent them from taking action.

Types of Customers: Why One Size Doesn’t Fit All

sage shopper categories

While there are some shared instincts inbuilt into every human, there are also many individual personality traits which retailers should consider in order to target certain types of shoppers. Dr Chamorro-Premusic split these into a list of categories, which highlight the recognizable characteristics presented by certain types of spenders:

  • The Hyper-Maximisers: Have a detached relationship with their money, spending it on things they need rather than want. Furthermore, they put a great deal of energy into finding the best deal and being careful with their money.

  • Old School Savers: Careful with their money and unlikely to splash out, they are put at a disadvantage by their slow adoption of technology.

  • Old School Spenders: Impulsive and carefree with money, focusing more on the short-term than the long-term. They are more likely to pay in cash.

  • Click and Collectors: More likely to spend on utilitarian needs rather than hedonistic wants, although such purchases are not typically price-sensitive. More likely to use technology for convenience rather than saving money.

  • Carefree Clickers: Use technology in their purchases for the experience’s sake rather than to save money, and are more likely to splash out on a treat than on essentials.

  • Cash Flashers: less likely to go cashless; their relationship with the cash they spend is both conspicuous and carefree.

  • Sanctioned Indulgers: Members of this group are careful with their money, but tend to spend it on indulgences and associate it with emotional benefits. They are not particularly open to new financial technologies.

  • Hunter-Gatherers: Risk-averse savers and budgeters who use the latest gadgets to help them in this quest. They are likely to enjoy this process of hunting for bargains and use technology to save money.

Online Ease: Why Cyber Monday is Likely to Outperform Black Friday

sagepay cyber monday information

With Sage predicting £828 million to be spent on Cyber Monday this year, it’s interesting to consider how the popularity of online shopping could cause the in-store Black Friday deals to become somewhat obsolete. Apparently 71% of us prefer shopping online simply out of convenience, but it also seems to be an environment in which we are more willing to make larger purchases and spend impulsively. 43% of UK shoppers said they experienced feelings of guilt when handing over cash; a process which is eliminated by the ease of online transactions. Professor Mitchell noted that “in the online world, the reality of things such as money can get distorted, removing the guilt we associate with face-to-face spending”. With many of the negative experiences associated with in-store shopping removed, it is hardly surprising that online sales are progressively out-performing those seen on the high street.

In conclusion, Sage noted that while the Christmas shopping scramble is an important time for retailers, they should also remember to consider long term loyalty when targeting their customers. While impulse inspiring deals can prove to be profitable short-term, a universal model won’t keep customers coming back. Retailers should be catering to different types of customers by selling and promoting in different ways, in order to alleviate feelings of remorse and secure a sense of loyalty. Business should also keep in mind their capabilities and resources before attempting to keep up with larger corporations, in order to ensure that any action taken is good for their business as opposed to being detrimental to their reputation.

All information provided by http://www.sagepay.co.uk/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sageuk


IDS are a security company based in Cardiff who specialise in providing professional security and fire protection systems throughout the UK. With decades of experience in the field, the team are able to oversee the design, installation and maintenance of a variety of security systems, ranging from CCTV and access control to fire alarms. In addition to these services, they also offer 24/7 call-out and monitoring to their customers every day of the year. 

Despite being an established company with a thorough knowledge of their trade, IDS recognised that their website was not performing well enough in search engine results, which is what led them to contact Designer Websites. After careful consideration, our team set about improving the website in order to ensure that it was a great reflection of the company's products and services, which could easily be reached by potential customers. 

The new IDS website has a more professional look, with content that makes efficient use of meta tags and copy to ensure that the company will rank well in search results. The site also has an improved focus on local search terms, allowing them to effectively target and increase their business prospects within Cardiff and the surrounding area. In addition to these improvements, we also added a blog to allow IDS to share their latest news and insights, providing them with an enriched means of communicating with both new and existing customers.

You can view the new website we created for IDS here

For more information about the range of website optimization services we offer, click here, or follow this link to send us your questions and ask for a quote.
Responsive vs. Non-Responsive Websites

The development of new technology moves at an alarmingly accelerated rate, and it's important for business owners and web developers alike to keep up with these changes in order to respond to customer demands. One of the biggest changes to how we search and browse the internet today has been the popularisation of portable devices such as smartphones and tablets. We are now able to search for products and services online at any time we wish with practically no restrictions, dramatically changing the way in which we browse and keep up with online content. As a direct result of these changes, website owners need to adapt their sites in order to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers.

This is why responsive web design has become such a popular solution in recent years. Internet users now expect to be able to transfer from one device to another with ease, and well-made responsive websites deliver consistency and adaptability to users while making the lives of SEOs much easier in the process. In this blog post, we will highlight some of the differences between responsive and non-responsive websites, demonstrating why the former option is usually the better of the two.

Images and Loading Times 

Images are a great way to capture a user's attention straight away, which is part of the reason why it's important to include great-quality visuals on any website. A non-optimised website can pose many problems when viewing these images on portable devices, including increased loading times. Responsive web design utilises flexible grids, layouts and images in combination with intelligent use of CSS media queries to address this problem, allowing visuals to appear clearly across a multitude of devices with varied screen sizes. 

Being User-Friendly

As noted above, responsive websites are a great way to prevent images from losing their impact when viewed on devices with smaller screens. This goes for the text and navigation of a website, too; by optimising a website for use on mobile devices, web developers are able to streamline content while making it easier for users to view and navigate the site.

Some would argue that a dedicated mobile website performs better in this respect, particularly in the case of news sites with a lot of written content or ecommerce sites with a variety of functions that are difficult to translate. But here's the problem: due to the fact that every website must found its reputation from scratch, regardless of a separate website being part of the same brand or business, a separate mobile website will struggle to perform well in search engines. A responsive website, on the other hand, can deliver a great user experience across all devices whilst also preserving the site's reputation by keeping everything under one URL.

Pleasing Google and Getting Noticed

Recognition from Google is of vital importance to every website owner, due to the simple fact that high Google rankings drive a lot of traffic. If you're looking to improve your Google rankings, it's important to keep an eye on the bounce rate of each page on your website; a high bounce rate means that users leave quickly because they can't find what they are looking for.

Non-responsive websites often fail to translate content efficiently from one device to another, and this can force mobile visitors to give up on your site very quickly. This is why responsive websites seek to prioritise usability in their design, benefiting both the customer and the website owner by improving the search and share experience. The issue of consistent reputation (see above) is also part of this wider experience, as it once again makes it easier to get your site noticed and ranked higher by Google. Having a single URL for all versions of your site makes it easier for Googlebot to crawl and index the content while avoiding any accidental duplicate content issues. meaning that all positive reactions will be valid on other devices.

* * *

And there you have it: a short guide to the difference between responsive and non-responsive websites, and how they function for users and businesses.

If you would like Designer Websites to create a responsive website for your business, please click here to request a quotation.
Spectrum Displays

Spectrum Displays specialise in the design, construction and installation of film and television sets, as well as display stands and conference sets for special events. They also offer digital print and signage services to businesses who are looking to be more visually engaging. 

Despite having years of experience in the industry and a proven track record of success on a number of exciting projects, Spectrum did not previously have a website on which to display their vast portfolio of work and reach out to new clients. Attractive, engaging online content is vital for the continued success of businesses in the modern world, and now that their brand new site has gone live, Spectrum have a platform that will allow them to expand and improve their business.

The bespoke design of Spectrum's new website ensures that they are able to reach new customers in an appealing and visually exciting way. It is also fully responsive, thereby improving the usability of the website on smartphones and tablets and making it completely accessible and user-friendly for anyone visiting the site.

Due to the nature of Spectrum's business, it was essential to ensure that the website made prominent use of visual features. The use of photography is prevalent across the entirety of the new site, contributing to a clear and compelling reflection of the company's previous work. The subcategories of each speciality title lead to a gallery of images, which can be viewed as an online portfolio of Spectrum's previous work. 

While it was important to provide examples that placed emphasis on the finished product supplied by the company, it was also vital to present potential customers with familiar brand names in order to further endorse Spectrum's reputability. For this reason, client logos such as that of the BBC and ITV are prominently featured at the bottom of the homepage; this serves as a visual indicator that Spectrum have worked with some of the biggest names in the film and TV industry. 

Click here to explore Spectrum Displays' new dynamic website for yourself.

Having worked with the company behind Safety Life Gear on previous occasions, we were recently approached by them again, as they had decided to expand their existing business by branching out into branded workwear. Pleased with the results we had achieved for their other businesses, Designer Websites were their first choice when setting up this new venture, as they knew we could deliver an engaging and user-friendly e-commerce web design.

Safety Life Gear's new website allows users to browse an extensive selection of workwear and PPE, covering everything from hospitality aprons to hard hats. This selection is comprised of items for men, women and children, including a vast selection of accessories as well as clothing items. The majority of these items also come with the option to personalise them with company names and logos, offering you the option to choose between plain and branded clothing. 

Due to our previous work with the company, it was important to us that the design and branding of the site was consistent with their previous websites, which is clear in everything from the logo placement to the menu style. We also wanted to ensure that the site was as easy to use as possible for customers, which is why we implemented a quick and simple customization process. Under each product there is a 'Branded from' and 'Blank from' button, which makes it simpler and more efficient for customers to place their order and check out. Once the user has selected the branded option, they can upload their desired branding and select from a range of placement options, making the order process as hassle-free as possible.

As well as making the design work for customers, we were also keen to ensure that the company could make their own changes with ease and efficiency, via the straightforward CMS system. The company is able to manage everything from homepage banners, to featured products and page content, making it easy for them to add new products and advertise offers.

You can view the new Safety Life Gear website. To find out more about our web design and branding services, please contact us today.

The main purpose of pay per click advertising is to drive high quality traffic from your target market to your website for the lowest cost possible. To do this depends on the relevance of your adverts, your keywords, and your landing pages, both to each other and to your target market. 

Once your keywords, ad groups and landing pages are completely synergised, you will be rewarded with a higher position in Google's SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), and you will pay less every time someone clicks your ad.  You may also see a metric called “Quality Score” increasing.

Quality score is one of the most important metrics in a Google advertising campaign. Quality score is scored out of 10 (1 being the most expensive and 10 being the cheapest). If and where your ad will be shown on the SERPs is all down to your quality score.  After a recent update, the default quality score for newly added keywords is 6; however this is subject to change very quickly. Quality score is  calculated by an algorithm based on the following factors; 

The relevance of your ad copy - When you are organising your account, it is important to ensure that your keywords are in a tight-knit ad group; this enables you to create ad copy that is relevant to all of the keywords in your ad group. This means that when a potential customer enters a relevant search query into the Google search box, your ad will be relevant to their search. Which leads us nicely onto the next point... 

Click-through rate (CTR) - Even though no one knows just how much weighting CTR has on Google's quality score, it is pretty obvious that Google count this as one of the most important factors, if not the most important. 

If your advert is relevant to the searcher's query, they will click on your ad and enter your site in the hope that they can find a solution to their problem through your company. The more people who click on your advert, the more likely Google are to realise that your website is relevant for this particular search and increase your overall quality score accordingly. To increase your click-through rate, make sure that your ad copy is relevant. 

Landing page - You have now created the tight-knit ad group and created a relevant advert that reflects your keywords. Now you need to think about where on your site you are going to send your traffic. Obviously, you need to send people to a page that is relevant to your keywords, and to your ad copy.

For example, let's say you are creating a campaign for a web design agency that specialises in ecommerce websites, but also provides customers with various digital marketing solutions. The company owner has asked you to create a campaign that focuses on their responsive ecommerce website design service. You will need to point your adverts to your ecommerce landing pages, not your digital marketing pages, as this will decrease the relevance of your adverts, meaning that they will not be shown as much, if at all. Furthermore, if your ads are pointed at irrelevant landing pages, every click you receive will be really expensive, and most importantly, potential customers will click onto the website, see that they are on the wrong page, and leave, increasing your bounce rate.

Unfortunately, people do not often have time to look through your website to find the exact page or product that they require. The less clicks it takes for them to find what they need, the more engaged they will be, increasing the likelihood of the customer completing your goal (e.g. signing up to your newsletter, downloading your e-book, purchasing a product, booking an appointment, or making enquiry about your company). When your tracked goal has been completed, this will be recorded in AdWords as a conversion. An increased click-through rate at a lower cost means that your cost per conversion is decreased, and your return on investment is increased! 

Would you like our professional digital marketing team to manage your paid search campaigns for you? Click here to request a quote, or give us a call on 01146 339050.
Psmicrographs responsive website

Have you ever seen a photo of something microscopic (such as a dust mite or a red blood cell) and wondered how that photo was taken? Well, there's a high probability that it was captured using a scanning electron microscope, or SEM; there's also a reasonably good chance that it was taken by the team at PSmicrographs, who specialise in SEM photography and provide a huge variety of detailed stock images to the people and the organisations who need them.

PSmicrographs recently contacted us because they wanted to update their website. The company's bosses had noticed a sharp increase in mobile traffic (that is, the number of users viewing the PSmicrographs site on a mobile device), and they were concerned that their website's design wasn't properly optimised for smartphones and other small screens.

We quoted PSmicrographs for a responsive website design, and work was soon under way to make their extensive image library easier to browse on mobile devices. That work has now been completed, and www.psmicrographs.co.uk is now a fully responsive website, functioning just as well on smartphones and tablets as on desktop computers.

If you need scientific stock photos of anything from chromosomes to wolf spiders, we heartily recommend that you visit the PSmicrographs website and browse their comprehensive collection of SEM images. Whether you're browsing the website on a PC, an iPad, or your mobile phone, we are confident that you'll find it easy to navigate and a joy to use in general.
Cross Accounting Service website

Based in the Rhiwbina district of Cardiff, Cross Accounting offer a wide range of accounting services for businesses of all sizes. The firm's specialities include bookkeeping, managing payrolls, and assisting with self-assessment tax returns; with years of experience and a flawless track record, Cross are among the leading accountancy firms in South Wales, and they're taking on new clients all the time.

As the owner of a growing business with a great reputation to uphold, Cross Accounting founder Nicola Cross was keen to ensure that her firm's website was providing potential clients with the best possible online experience. She recently asked our website design team to take a look at her site with a view to making it a little more mobile-friendly, and we're pleased to announce that the new, responsive version of the Cross Accounting website was released yesterday.

This version of the site has been designed to look good and operate smoothly on screens of all sizes, from desktop computers and laptops right down to tablets and smartphones. Mobile users see all the same information about the firm, but the site's navigation automatically changes to fit the smaller view, making it easier for clients to find what they're looking for on their phones.

We're very pleased to have worked with Cross Accounting, and we wish Nicola and her team all the best for the future. If you're based in South Wales and you need an expert accountant for your business, be sure to get in touch!

4 ecommerce optimisation tips for online retailers

 
Ecommerce optimisation
 
Ecommerce websites are typically a lot more complex than brochure websites. For one thing, ecommerce websites require some kind of online payment system, but there's also the issue of sheer size - by dedicating an entire page to each and every product you sell, you're potentially saddling yourself with a website that's hundreds or even thousands of pages deep.
 
And, as you can imagine, organising and optimising that many pages can be a mammoth headache. Fortunately, our website optimisation experts are here to share a few tips and suggestions that will help you to both climb the Google rankings and do a better job of satisfying your customers. If you're serious about optimising your ecommerce website, here are some things to bear in mind:

Every page should have its own unique title tag.

Google's guidelines demand "distinct, descriptive titles for each page on your site", and this includes the many product pages that form the bulk of your ecommerce website. The page title tag is an extremely important ranking factor for search engines, and since you ideally want all of your product pages to rank highly for relevant search terms, it's a good idea to come up with a different title tag for each and every one.
 
Let's say, for example, that your company sells decorative lampshades. Your lampshades come in dozens of different colours and designs, so it doesn't make sense to use a generic title tag like Buy Cheap Lampshades for Your Home on every single product page. A better approach is to craft title tags that give a more detailed description of each individual product; for example:
  • Dark Blue Lampshade | Buy from Spiffing Shades
  • Bright Red Pendant Lampshade from Spiffing Shades
  • Black & White Lampshade for Floor Lamps
  • Gingham Lampshade | Order Online with Spiffing Shades
These page titles tell search engines (and the people who use them) a lot more about each of your products, and this will make it easier for Google et al to index your product range and list your pages on relevant SERPs. Each title tag should also be accompanied with a unique meta description that offers a little more information about each product. For instance, here's what the description for that dark blue lampshade might look like:
 
This dark blue lampshade is handmade by the experts at Spiffing Shades, and includes a dual purpose fitting that's compatible with ES and BC lamps.

 

The recommended maximum length for a title tag is just 55 characters, so the meta description is a good way to go into greater detail about the page you're optimising.

Avoid duplicate content.

You might think that, once each of your product pages has its own unique title tag and meta description, you don't have to worry too much about what's actually on the page. Unfortunately, if you're serious about conquering your competition in the Google rankings, you'll need to write unique copy for each of your product pages as well.
 
This task can be particularly tedious if a lot of your products are very similar to one another, but it still has to be done. If Spiffing Shades sell a hexagonal lampshade in five different colours (red, blue, white, yellow and black), the company's copywriter will need to write five different descriptions to give each product page the best chance of ranking. Of course, Spiffing Shades could simply choose to list the hexagonal lampshade as a single product, with customers selecting their preferred colour via a drop-down list; this would mean less work for their copywriter, but that single product page would struggle to rank for colour-specific terms like 'hexagonal red lampshade' or 'black lampshade hexagon shape'.
 
So why can't the Spiffing Shades team just create five different pages and re-use the same product description on all of them? Because search engines don't handle duplicate content well. Each of those hexagonal lampshade pages will look practically identical to Google's bots if the same text is used on each one (and no, changing 'red' to 'blue' won't make a difference!)
 
If Google finds multiple pages that all look alike, it will usually only index one, which means that all the other similar pages cannot possibly appear in search engine results. Too many identical pages may even result in an outright Google penalty that affects your entire website - is it really worth taking that risk just to save a little time on writing product descriptions?

Put your most important products on the homepage.

We at Designer Websites have created a lot of ecommerce websites in our time, and one thing we've noticed on numerous occasions is that product pages seem to rank significantly higher when linked to directly from the homepage.
 
This may be because putting a product on the top page of your website makes it much easier for bots to find, crawl and index; whatever the reason, it seems to work, so if there's a particular product that you'd like to see on the first page of Google results, we'd always recommend including that item among the products listed on your homepage.

Put some effort into your images!

Images are an absolutely crucial factor for any ecommerce website - whether you're selling cookers, toys, laptops, or combine harvesters, nobody will be interested unless they can see what they're buying. 
 
But that's not the only reason to make sure you've got high-quality images for each of your product lines. There's also the small matter of Google Images; we've seen websites pull in thousands of visitors every month from image searches alone, so it's well worth getting your pictures done properly. Attractive, eye-catching product images will help you to stand out from all the other image listings (they're also essential for a successful Google Shopping campaign), and adding clear, concise alt tags to each of your images will help them to get closer to the top of the results page.
 
Need more help with your ecommerce website? Get in touch with Designer Websites for a quotation - whether you need some website optimisation or a brand new website design, we'll listen to your requirements and work to achieve the results you want!
Scoliosis SOS
 
The Scoliosis SOS Clinic has the distinction of being the only UK clinic that offers non-surgical treatments for scoliosis and other curvatures of the spine. Using a range of techniques - including the Schroth method, trigger point therapy, and osteopathy - the Scoliosis SOS team are able to effectively combat spinal conditions with no need for surgery; as the video below shows, this approach gets fantastic results for the Clinic's patients!
 
 
Scoliosis SOS got in touch with Designer Websites because they needed use to redesign the company website. Not only would the new site have to look more attractive and encourage more users to contact the Clinic, it would also need to have a responsive design that functioned equally well across all devices (including smartphones and tablets).
 
The new website went live last week and we're pleased to say that we met every requirement of the Clinic's brief. The site's layout makes it easy for scoliosis sufferers to learn about the company, its methods, and the results they can expect, and the numerous case studies and testimonials offer extensive insight from previous patients. Furthermore, our web design team delivered a sleek, responsive design that allows patients to get all the information they need regardless of what device they're using.
 
If you're seeking non-surgical scoliosis treatment - or if you'd just like to see our team's latest work - then visit the new Scoliosis SOS website now!
New TLDs and SEO

A lot of new top-level domains have been created over the past year or two, and more are on the way. For example, .lol, .dog and .movie are all launching this month - creators of funny dog videos will soon spoiled for choice!

The popularity of newly-established domains such as .brand, .london and .wales may have you wondering if you ought to get with the times and snap up one of these snazzy new TLDs while the iron is hot. In particular, a lot of our clients have asked if using a more unique TLD will help their website's rankings on Google and other search engines.

Or, to put it another way...

Will a new TLD help my website's SEO?

The short answer? No - Google themselves have said that the new gTLDs (generic top-level domains) do not have any special advantage over the ones we're more familiar with:

"Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search."

So that's Google's position on the matter (the above quote is taken from the official Google Webmasters blog). Unfortunately, it looks like your choice of TLD won't have much of an impact on your website's keyword rankings; for example, your cookery blog won't have any more chance of conquering the foodie SERPs if you change your URL from www.grub-with-gwen.co.uk to www.grub-with-gwen.cooking. Sorry about that.

However, this doesn't mean that purchasing yourself a new gTLD is completely pointless. The really good thing about some of these new gTLDs is that they give users a little more information about your site than the ultra-vague likes of .com and .org. For example, it's impossible to guess what kind of website www.samsonswan.com might be from its URL alone, but we can reasonably assume that www.samsonswan.cymru is owned by a Welsh company, or that www.samsonswan.music belongs to a musician or band.

And that can be useful for search engine bots as well as for humans. Let's say you own a second-hand car dealership in London called Marvellous Motors Ltd. Your customers are Googling 'used cars London' and you want to show up on the first page of results for that term. Purchasing a domain name like www.marvellousmotors.london will make it more obvious (both to human users and to Google's spiders) that you're a London-based business, and this may well improve your chances of ranking locally.

The new TLDs may also come in handy if you share your brand name with somebody else from a totally different field. Imagine, for instance, that you've just opened a new pub called The Branch & Blossom, but - shock horror! - it turns out that there's a popular indie-folk band by that name already. Anybody attempting to Google your new business will end up on TB&B's SoundCloud page or browsing a list of their upcoming gigs, and since they're already using the domain name you wanted (www.branchandblossom.com), you're going to have to pick a different one instead.

So what'll it be? Your instinct might be to simply pick the closest available domain to what you originally wanted (www.branchandblossom.co.uk or www.branchandblossom.org), but it may be a better idea to register www.branchandblossom.pub or www.branchandblossom.bar instead. This will let everyone know that you're a bar, not a band, and people searching for your business will find it easier to spot which Branch & Blossom website is the one they're after. This also works if you're on the other side of the equation; newly-formed bands can use TLDs like .music or .rocks to differentiate themselves from established businesses who share their name.

So while an unusual TLD won't necessarily help you to scale the SERPs, there are other ways in which it can help you. If you want to make your website's URL more descriptive of who you are and what you're about, using one of the many new gTLDs that have been available recently may well be a good choice for you.

Of course, if you already have a website with a standard TLD (such as .com or .uk), it would be foolish to discard your established URL in favour of a trendy new domain name with no history. This will break any links to your current website, and erase the reputation that you've built for yourself with the search engines (they put a lot of stock in domain age and history!)

Instead, we recommend using 301 redirects to ensure that users and bots trying to reach your old domain are automatically sent to the new one instead; this will allow you to switch to a nicer domain name whilst retaining all the positive SEO 'juice' that you accumulated before the changeover.

Need help with registering a new domain name or setting up your company's website? Contact Designer Websites for assistance!
Doctorcall logo

Doctorcall Medical Services are among the UK's leading private medical groups. Established in 1989, Doctorcall was the first visiting doctor service in the UK, although they now offer many other services besides (including sexual health tests, physiotherapy treatments, occupational health checks, and cosmetic treatments such as Botox®).

If you've never heard of Doctorcall before, here's a brief introduction:


Doctorcall first contacted Designer Websites in late 2014. Their website at that time was a self-made Wordpress solution, but what they needed was a professional, bespoke business website to represent their long-established brand in the best way possible, and we were the company tasked with delivering this.

Here are some of the features that Doctorcall requested for their new and improved website:
  • Fully integrated Qinec booking system
  • Ecommerce system with online payments powered by Sage Pay
  • Mobile-friendly responsive design
  • Blog engine to allow Doctorcall's staff to post news and updates

What happened next?

We worked closely with Doctorcall to design and develop a new website that was tailored to their specific requirements. The new site went live in March 2015, and the impact of our work was visible almost immediately - the site's total traffic for April was almost 20% higher than in April 2014:

Doctorcall site traffic

An even more pronounced improvement was visible in Doctorcall's mobile stats - total mobile traffic for April 2015 was 41% higher than the same total one year earlier:

Doctorcall mobile traffic

This demonstrates the difference that a responsive, mobile-friendly website design can make - at time of writing, mobile users make up roughly 40% of Doctorcall's total visitors!

It's also worth noting just how well the Doctorcall website has been performing from an ecommerce standpoint. When developing the new site, we incorporated a shopping basket system that would allow visitors to purchase certain Doctorcall products (such as home testing kits and anti-ageing creams) over the web.

This approach appears to have worked wonders for the business - site revenue increased by almost 90% between June and July 2015!

Doctorcall revenue

All in all, our work has yielded outstanding results for Doctorcall's business. Here's what they had to say about the new website and its performance over the last few months:

"Designer Websites came highly recommended to us, and we couldn't be happier with the results of what is essentially a huge project for us. From start to finish they guided us through the design, delivery and acceptance of the ecommerce website in a clear and easy-to-understand way.

"Thanks to their clear communication and expertise, we now have a product we are very proud of. They continue to help us develop our online platform as we think of more ways to increase revenue through our web presence."

Jamie Watkins, Doctorcall Medical Services

Would you like us to design a new website for your business? Request a quote now, or give us a call on 01446 339050 to discuss your requirements with a member of our team!
 
When it comes to web design, there are a lot of pitfalls to be aware of. Whether it's doing something you shouldn't or failing to do something you should, one mistake can ruin your entire online presence, so it's important to keep your wits about you!
 
Here, courtesy of our professional web design team, are five do's and five don'ts for you to bear in mind when you're putting together your company's website...
  • DO get straight to the point. The average web user prefers not to stay in one place for too long, so when you're designing your website, be sure to put the crucial details (i.e. what you offer and how to get it) front and centre.

  • DON'T put style above functionality. We've no doubt that you're an artistic genius capable of designing a web page that belongs in a gallery, but appearances shouldn't necessarily be your top priority when it comes to creating a successful business website. Instead, focus on providing a straightforward, elegant experience for the end user, and tailor your design to complement this.

  • DO be consistent. Each page of your website should have the same basic look and layout as the next, as this will give users a smooth, seamless journey through your site. Of particular importance is the site menu - if this crucial navigation element changes or moves around as users browse your website, those users will quickly get frustrated and go elsewhere. However, we also recommend keeping a close eye on less obvious factors such as fonts and branding; keeping these things consistent at all times will ensure that your company looks professional to site users.

  • DON'T use Comic Sans. This 'fun' font looks extremely childish, and it is almost never an appropriate choice for a professional business website.

  • DO stick to a simple colour scheme. Using too many colours will make your website hard to read and unpleasant to look at. Stick to just two or three colours to keep everything striking and easy on the eye.

  • DON'T forget about your mobile users. The number of people using smartphones and tablets to browse the web is increasing every day, and so it's becoming more and more important to ensure that your website looks just as good on these devices as on a desktop PC. A good way to achieve this is with a responsive design that changes to fit the screen on which it is viewed.

  • DO show off your social media accounts. The power of social media has grown exponentially in recent years, and few business can afford not to be seen on Twitter and Facebook these days. Incorporating your company's social accounts into your website is a great way to gain followers and boost your visibility; obviously, you'll want to include links to your various profiles, but you may want to go one step further by integrating social media feeds into your site's design, allowing visitors to see your latest tweets, pins and posts as soon as they arrive on your homepage.

  • DON'T stuff too much in. When designing your website, aim for brevity and simplicity - don't pack each page with dozens of images and reams of text, as this will create a cluttered look that makes it difficult for users to find the information they need.

  • DO keep analysing, measuring, and making improvments. Like great art, a good web design is never finished! After your website goes live, you should use Google Analytics and other tools to continuously monitor its performance and tweak your design as necessary. Are people clicking on that button? How does it compare with the other button on the other side of the page? Should you move it elsewhere, make it bigger, or scrap it entirely to make room for something else? These questions can be answered with the help of things like goals and event tracking, so keep a close eye on how people interact with your site and never stop looking for potential improvements!

  • DON'T use Comic Sans. Please. We know we said this already, but it bears repeating. Refer to www.comicsanscriminal.com if you don't understand the issue here.
Want us to design your business website for you? Click here to get a quote, or visit our Professional Web Design page for more information.
Multiple ecommerce websites

It's easy to imagine the benefits of having multiple ecommerce websites - if one ecommerce website can drive a hundred sales a day, then a trio of ecommerce websites should theoretically be able to drive three hundred sales, right?

However, setting up a multi-site ecommerce solution is both expensive and time-consuming, so before you get started, you need to be absolutely sure that it's the right choice for you. Here are a few different ways in which multiple ecommerce websites can benefit a business - do they apply to yours?

1. Target multiple audiences

Some products are suitable for many different audiences. There are lots of disparate groups who might be interested in purchasing drinking accessories, for example; you've got university students, hen parties, stag parties, nightclub/bar owners, and goodness knows who else. This is great news if you specialise in drinking accessories, because it means you've got loads of potential customers to sell to!

However, this can pose a problem when it comes to your ecommerce website. If you're simultaneously trying to market your business to all of the groups listed above (and probably several others besides), you won't look like a particularly appealing choice to any of them - instead, the hen parties will probably go to a website that deals specifically in hen party accessories, the bar owners will go to a trade website for industry professionals, and so forth.

Setting up multiple ecommerce websites is a fantastic way to tackle this problem. If you've got three completely separate websites stocking the same products, this allows you to target three completely separate audiences. You can make one pink and glamorous to appeal to the hen night market; the second can look slick and professional, so as to rope in the nightclub owners; and the third could be used to highlight your biggest discounts, which is sure to please those thirsty students!

Of course, that's not the only benefit to a multi-pronged approach...

2. Compete for different keywords

Search engine bots are a lot like the customers mentioned above: they'll be more interested in your website if it's specifically targeted at the market you're aiming to conquer. For example, that generic drinking accessories website of yours will probably never rank for terms like 'hen party shot glasses' or 'wholesale pint glasses', because these things form only a small part of your overall offering. Unless you're Amazon or someone similarly huge, you'll generally find it very difficult to compete for keywords that are only tangentially related to your business.

You'll find it a lot easier to rank for those keywords if you've got an entire website dedicated to each set; just as the hen party planners of the world are more likely to click on a website that's specifically designed for them, Google are far more likely to show your website to those party planners if you look like a hen party specialist.

3. Focus your product ranges

If you're one of those companies that sells all sorts of different products, squeezing your entire range onto a single website can be a serious headache. If you've got the budget, it may be much easier to spread your stock over several ecommerce websites rather than trying to cram it all into one place.

As a bonus, this will make it much easier to label each website when it comes to marketing yourself. If everything's neatly divided up, you'll be able to say...

"This one's a flooring website, and this one's a wallpaper website, and this one sells furniture!"

...instead of...

"This is a website that sells...um...stuff for decorating your home with."

Fewer product ranges per site equals stronger overall focus, and focus is key if you want to make a big impression on potential customers.

4. Multiply your social media reach

If you have several different ecommerce websites then you also have the ability to create several different brands, and this in turn gives you the scope to set up several different accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and the other big social platforms. The benefits of this are reasonably obvious: you can accrue multiple sets of followers from multiple demographics and interact with them in multiple different ways!

One of the best ways to make the most of having multiple brands on social media is to establish a distinctive voice for each one. For example, if one of your ecommerce websites sells gadgets and techy stuff, you can adopt a 'geeky' persona for that brand, weighing in on the latest tech news and pop culture gossip on Twitter whilst also sharing your own products. Then, if you're selling those same tech products in a slightly more professional capacity (e.g. to businesses) on a second ecommerce website, you can set up another Twitter account for that site and use a more formal tone to speak with your customers in the industry.

5. Make money via an affiliate system

If you want to get really ambitious, there's another fantastic way to profit via multiple ecommerce websites that we haven't yet touched on. We at Designer Websites have helped several clients to set up 'affiliate' systems - this means that we create a white label ecommerce website for that customer, who then sells that website design to clients of their own. Each client (or 'affiliate') can brand and customise their own website in any way they please, but they're all selling the same products, and all of the affiliate sites are built upon the same original code.

Here's the upshot of all this: you can drive more sales for your business by allowing others to market and sell your goods via ecommerce websites of their own. Your affiliates will be happy because they're getting a cut of the money you make, and you'll be happy because your sales are going through the roof and other people are doing all the legwork for you!

If you have a large product range, multiple target audiences, and/or the desire to set up an affiliate marketing system, then a multi-site ecommerce solution may well be a great choice for your business. Click here to get a quote for your project, or visit our Multi-Site Ecommerce page for more information and some examples of our previous work in this area.