We have been working very hard on a new website for Access Training Wales Ltd, a specialist trade training company based in Cardiff, South Wales. The website is very large and contains detailed information on the various trade training courses offered by the company, for example plumbing training, electrician training, plastering training etc. The company have been delivering trade training courses for many many years and have a fantastic facility in Cardiff, which is purpose built to deliver these types of training courses.

The owners came to us with the requirement to completely redesign and rebuild their old website with a particular view to optimising the new site for the search engines. The trades training industry is very competitive and as such their are many large training companies like these guys who are spending lots of time, energy and money on getting their websites to the top of the search engines for the particular courses that they deliver, so this is a pretty tough ask, however we live to prove that we can do this and although we have only recently launched this site our client is already seeing improvements on the number of enquiries, and this will significantly improve over the next few months, of that I am positive.

Working with this company it was easy to see how passionate they are about delivering high quality training to individuals who want to learn a new skill or even develop a new career. They really get a buzz out of seeing their clients/students complete a course and become a qualified trades person, and that is admirable in my book.

The site is pretty large and contains over 160 pages, which was very hard to write and convert into a website. I think there really is a training course for every trade and every trade related qualification possible! Anyway take a look at the new Access Trade Training site and if you have stumbled upon this page because you are looking for trade training courses then you've definitely found the right place, get yourself on one of these courses and you'll be qualified in no time!

We were approached by an artist who is based both in the UK and the United Arab Emirates with this idea of an online gallery where art lovers could enjoy and collect art from various high calibre artists from around the globe, and artists could show off and even promote their works to an appropriate audience of art lovers. We designed a solution which allows artists to get involved, upload their art, upload a profile and even make some money from the digital versions of the art. The system then allows art lovers to peruse the art on screen and keep their own collections in their accounts, which then could be used on their TV's, mobile devices and digital pictures frames.. in a similar way to their music collections.

The idea is brilliant and although the system is quite complex, using it is very easy and intuitive. It is great for artists because they can get their work out there and they don't have to pay expensive art gallery prices to do so. However its even better for art lovers because it brings together all of these brilliant pieces of art, to leave you only to have to pick your favourite. we love the site and cannot wait to hear it become a household name, for the art-minded of course!

The site is currently in Beta mode whilst the owner of the website finds the appropriate artists to join the online art gallery revolution, but is expected to be in full swing during the second quarter of 2011, so keep your eyes peeled for this site if you love art.

We have just launched a new website for one of first ever clients, we first starting working with Craig Freeman back in 2004 and we first developed a site for them back then. We have now developed a brand new website for them based on the new branding and we think it looks great. The company is a firm of specialist dental accountants who mostly work with dentists, however they do also take on other business type clients and they are in fact our accountants and have been since we incorporated the company. More recently they have worked with a wide variety of clients whist growing their business in terms of the dental accountancy services. We of course thoroughly recommend these guys as accountants, particularly if you are looking for an accountant in the Cardiff area.

Take a look at the new website here.. Specialist Dental Accountants

We were approached by Direct Cane who are a leading Cane Furniture supplier for the South Wales area; they came to us with the requirement of designing a professional website to represent their Cane Furniture business. The website was to look good and perform well in the search engines for searches related to cane furniture and specifically in the South Wales region.

The website is located here cane furniture so if you are looking for a piece of furniture for your conservatory or garden then you simply will not find a better price and a more professional service, I am certain of that!

We were approached by James Installations and Maintenance for a new website that would both improve the appearance of the company online and potentially bring new business in through people searching on Google for an electrician in Cardiff or an electrical contractor in the South Wales area. We developed a new image for the company and then proceeded to develop the website and content, the result is this electrician website, which the client is very happy with.

On a personal note, I have used James as an electrician at my home and the work completed was faultless and very reasonably priced. I would recommend James Installation and Maintenance for any electrician type work large or small.

The latest addition to Google’s SERPs is their new Instant Preview feature. This allows searchers to “preview” a website or landing page prior to clicking through to it. Searchers can preview any listing in the organic results by either clicking the description, or the small magnifying glass icon to the left of every listing. The overview is displayed in a pop up window which shows a snapshot of the destination page, highlighting where the relevant search term appears on that page.

Through the preview pop up screen, searchers can get a feel for the site on the other side of the link; images, headlines, colour and general layout all have a major impact.  With relatively small size of the pop up window, prominent design features are more likely to catch a searchers eye as small text is difficult to read. This will make the first impression, or snapshot of your site, vital to traffic generation much like an advert in a magazine. You will only have 2-3 seconds to grab the searchers attention.

Some factors to consider when designing for instant preview:

Images

The prominence of images which are product or service specific will become even more important in your web design. Larger images allowing a clearer view of your offerings should be used to communicate instantly the thrust of your site. Smaller images or cluttered images will have less impact than a clear, large image in the new preview window. Pages containing long, text heavy content will look very dull and uninviting, whereas an image will allow you to make best use of the 2-3 second exposure.

Headlines

With small text so difficult to read in the preview window, anything in a larger font or bold will stand out as a headline. The searchers eye will be drawn to these sentences first, so make good use of them. Ensure your keywords are present and that the message you are trying to convey is clear and legible within your headlines.

Page load time

Page load times are an important factor in SEO as well as web design, but speed will be even more important with instant preview. If your images fail to render in the short space of time a searcher is hovering over your listing they will very, very quickly move onto the next. Combine this with the need to have bold images on your site, and a balance will need to be struck between image size, quality and load time.

Flash

As usual, Google has a problem with Flash, and Instant Preview is no exception. Flash sites or page elements are failing to display in the preview, making sites look broken or incomplete. This will deter searchers from clicking through to your site, especially if that flash element was critical to your product/service offering. This will result in fewer clicks, which will in turn lead to lower rankings and fewer sales.

Introduction pages

A good website designer will avoid introduction pages altogether, but there are still a great deal of sites out there using intro pages. Again, we have seen issues with these pages failing to display in previews, making your site appear broken and unattractive. This will have a serious impact on your click through rate and your rankings in the search engines.

So overall, instant preview presents new challenges as well as opportunities for web designers, both in design and SEO terms. Greater consideration will need to be given to what is legible and effective within the smaller preview window as well as on the site itself.

Here at Designer-Websites.co.uk we can ensure you have the edge over your competition with website design which takes advantage of Google’s new instant preview feature.

We have just designed and developed a new website for South Wales UPVC Ltd. The company based in Taffs Well, South Wales had commissioned us to create a new optimised website for their upvc windows and doors business. The website, as you would guess, contains lots of information on upvc windows and doors, as well as information about the company themselves. The company supply and fit a wide range of upvc products, including windows, doors, conservatories, orangeries, roofline products and commercial fittings.

During the development of this website some of us at Designer Websites used South Wales UPVC to supply and fit windows and doors on our homes, and I must say the cost was MUCH lower than any other company we spoke to and the jobs themselves were done quickly and easily, with no fuss and no mess. I would highly recommend these guys for windows and doors, not only because they are a client but because the jobs they completed for us were very professional and outstanding quality.

Anyway take a look at the website and see what they do.. UPVC Windows and Doors Company

We developed the computer recruiter website for the Cardiff based specialist recruitment agency sometime ago now, however it was felt recently that it would benefit from a minor facelift, so our website designers created a new image for the site and plugged that into the existing bespoke website and CMS. The whole thing took a couple of days to complete, from design through to development. The result is a more modern and crisp website, aimed entirely at the computer jobs market in the Cardiff and South Wales area.

We think the site looks good and is appropriately targeted at IT professionals, but more importantly our client is very happy with the result.

Take a peek and see what you think, the website is.. IT Jobs Website

We developed a pair of pre-designed websites for The Smile Dentist and Perfect Lips. The websites themselves we designed by a third party and we were then approached to develop the designs into optimised websites. The Smile Dentists site was completed first and is aimed at cosmetic surgery for individuals who want the perfect smile, that website is located here.. The Perfect Smile

The second site was the Perfect Lips site and this site is aimed at ladies who want the perfect lips or who require other botox procedures, the website is here.. Perfect Lips

So if you want the perfect smile AND the perfect lips, well look no further!

Ask any SEO professional and they will tell you JavaScript can be a double edged sword when it comes to website development, specifically in terms of design over SEO. Why? Well let’s take a look.

First things first, search engines don’t crawl JavaScript, so any keywords present within the script will be ignored, which is not good for SEO. You might think that this is not so important but actually one of the most important aspects of a website is the navigation and many websites utilise JavaScript for the menu or primary navigation. Many sites appear to use comments within JavaScript in an attempt to alleviate this problem; however the search engine robots will ignore any comments within script tags, so this will not help.

Another problem which arises with the use of JavaScript in website design is the search engines may see it as an attempt to mislead their bots because this has been a black hat method used by some poor SEO companies to display different information to bots than that which is displayed to the website visitors.

These issues are especially prevalent in navigational links where unscrupulous coders will hide redirects to different URL’s through JavaScript coding. This can actually result in search engines not indexing an entire section of your site as they ignore your top level navigation. Best practise would be to remove JavaScript from navigational links altogether and rely on HTML links instead.

If you’re website design does rely on drop down menus or other dynamic navigation then our advice would be to scrap it and adopt the use of CSS instead, you can get fantastic effects and probably the same appearance by using CSS.

Loading time is another issue affected by JavaScript. The overuse of JavaScript can slow down your website’s load time which not only affects the visitor experience, but also has an impact on your SEO. Load time is just one of many factors search engines use to rank your website.

How can JavaScript be used positively in Website Design?

JavaScript is best used to provide quick user interaction and help make the website more attractive to the end user, so using it to draw attention to call-to-action boxes, speeding up form submission and generally improving the visitor experience will help the website seem less static and more engaging for the user. This can be done without compromising the SEO by ensuring that the JavaScript is used on non-structural and navigational sections of the website.

So if you are going to use JavaScript, here are some tips to reduce the SEO negatives:

• Stick to HTML links where possible
• Do not use JavaScript for menus or indeed any primary navigational elements
• If using JavaScript with images or video make sure you use <alt> and <noscript> tags to offer a text alternative which is placed in the HTML markup
• Move your JavaScript to an external .JS file
• Place the actual script at the bottom of the page code i.e. just before the end body tag

If you are worried about making such changes to your website yourself then it’s probably time to call on the services of dedicated website developers.  Designer Websites provide high quality search engine optimised websites for businesses. Contact us today to discuss your website needs.

Canonical Tags

It’s difficult enough to say, let alone understand - but getting your head around canonical tags in SEO is a must if you want your website to achieve the results you're looking for. Today we're going to take a look at what canonical tags are and why you should care about them.

So, what are Canonical Tags? 

In SEO and website design terms, Canonicalization means you have more than one URL address on the same page. For instance:

designer-websites.co.uk
www.designer-websites.co.uk
www.design-websites.co.uk/home

All three of these URLs will be pointing to your homepage, but the search engines will view these as different pages, indexing each page and allowing them to compete against one another. What’s the issue you might say, well the problem is that this generates duplicate content in the Google search engine results (SERP’s), which Google heavily penalises. This, in turn, means that your pages will likely be pulled from the search engine results, or will be pushed back in the SERP’s, leaving your site out in the cold.

This is where the canonical tag becomes important. Canonical tags are a piece of code you add on certain pages of your website to tell search engines which page is the prefered content. So, in this circumstance, you should choose one of these URLs to add a rel=canonical tag and add appropriate 301 redirects to the other pages. We recommend using both of these methods. 

Why is duplicate content bad for SEO?


Search engines aim to provide the most relevant content to a search query, so when they come across two pages which are exactly the same they are forced to choose one over the other, as displaying both would represent a flaw in their service. Google typically ignores the duplicate content to avoid the SERPs looking clutted with the same content on similar URLs. Sometimes choosing one is not realistic or possible and so a penalty is placed on the website or page in question. This is obviously an issue for SEO as duplicate content will inevitably lead to some of your pages disappearing from the index.

Make sure you define your canonical URL

The canonical tag (rel=canonical) allows you to dictate which URL the search engines should consider the ‘master copy’, the one you wish all SEO benefits to revert to. This canonical tag is placed in the HTML header text similar to the meta description and meta keywords tags:

<meta name="description" content="Site Description/>
<meta name="keywords" content="Site Keywords" />
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.designer-websites.co.uk/" />

It is important to understand that this simply informs the search engine bots of your preference, but it does not actually redirect the content, thus a human will be able to see the content via the canonical URLs if you do not force a redirect. This can sometimes lead to links being developed to URLs that you do not want to be indexed.

What is a 301 redirect?

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect, allowing you to move one URL to another automatically. So, for example, if you try going to http://designer-websites.co.uk it will automatically redirect you to the proper url which is http://www.designer-websites.co.uk.

A 301 redirect should be done from the webserver and not in code. Setting up a redirect is relatively easy but often done incorrectly.  It is imperative that the ‘status code’ sent to the search engine bots upon redirection is a 301, not a 302 or any other code. 

Can I still just use a 301 redirect?

Yes, you can. In fact, the safest way to deal with the canonical issue is to have appropriate 301 redirects in place for your website.

However, the reason we recommend having both is because some search engine bots will actually look for the canonical tag, so having it there deals with the issue quickly and in the exact way the bots are looking for. If a search engine does not look for the canonical tag then at least you have the redirect to fall back on. Most importantly if you 301 redirect properly then no one will be able to see your content under any other URL than the one you choose.

It's important to understand that there are many search engines on the Internet and not all are as sophisticated as Google, so it is safe to assume that not all search engines are sophisticated enough to work with canonical tag, so by not 301 redirecting your URLs properly you run the risk of other search engines issuing duplicate content penalties and the like.

This and many other website optimisation factors are essential for successful websites. At Designer Websites, we will ensure your new website is properly 301 redirected and contains the appropriate canonical tags, as well as dealing with many other technical SEO factors. For examples of our work just click here

“Flash”, the mere mention of the word will have most website SEO professionals running for the hills. Flash sites can look great if done correctly but appearance and user experience should never come as a detriment to onsite SEO, especially for business websites.

Why? Let’s explore....

What is Flash and why do website designers use it?

Flash is a software component used by designers to produce dynamic, interactive websites or site components. The use of flash can have a stunning impact on your visitors. Here is a great example of flash in practice: www.agencynet.com. A flash website on this scale is very time consuming to develop and thus very costly, however there are literally millions of very poor examples of flash on the Internet and that is because these have been done quickly and thus on the cheap.

Flash is often used to display artistic ideas or high quality images, or even to show off multimedia talents, and this is common amongst design agencies and photography web sites.

So what’s the Problem?

The overriding problem is this: it looks great to you and me, but to the search engines these sites are all but invisible. Search robots find it very difficult to index flash sites and although there have been recent improvements; flash sites still fail to compete effectively with HTML sites. Search engines work by scanning information on the web, storing it, and retrieving the best match to meet user queries. Search engines are designed to process text wrapped in tags. The title, headings, paragraphs and links in standard HTML provides structural meaning, which helps search engines understand the importance of the elements on your page.

Whilst the search engines try their best to extract links and text contained in Flash objects, the process is far from perfect, so if your website being found on the internet is important to your business then Flash presents a major problem.

So I think we get the idea, unless you simply don’t care about your website being found on the Internet, Flash should be avoided. However, if you are determined to use Flash elements or have a Flash website which you can’t readily change, then here are some possible solutions:

1. Make use of <noscript> tags

The <noscript> tags can act as an alternative to your Flash allowing you to add some optimised and indexable content. Within the tags you can add header tags which give the search engines something meaningful to crawl. This isn’t cloaking! Think of <noscript> as the Flash equivalent of your <alt> tags.

2. Make maximum use of metadata

Although search engines pay little attention to meta tags these days, if you have a flash file on a page it is essential you make best use of your meta tags. Optimise them as you would for an HTML page.

3. Provide Flash free alternative pages

Provide an HTML only page in conjunction with your flash page, thereby allowing users to access your content even if they cannot view the flash image. This is more labour intensive, but at least your content will be indexable whilst users get the full impact of your flash.

4. Above all else

Don’t do cheap Flash, understand that good looking Flash takes time and can be rather expensive, so do it properly, don’t let a cheap and awful Flash site represent your business online.

So, the verdict...

Search engines are still a long way from indexing Flash efficiently enough for such sites to compete with HTML sites, but if you absolutely have to optimise a Flash website, then the steps mentioned above will help you achieve a far higher ranking.

For further information on any aspect of website design, or for an exceptionally designed e-commerce website which encapsulates a user friendly experience with all the most up to date SEO techniques, contact Designer Websites.

We recently launched a refreshed looking website for Liberty Marketing. We initially created a small business website for the online marketing agency a while back and although the site still functioned well and ranked high in the search engines, the guys felt it was time for a facelift and they also wanted to refocus their core solutions by adding new content to the site. We developed a new design and implemented the changes and now the Cardiff online marketing agency has never looked better.

Visit Wales' largest online marketing services agency

Lovingly Managed offer a unique service, which offers a range of services which help people plan/manage their or a loved one’s end of life. We have recently launched their brochure site with a content managed system within the site which easily allows the site to be updated with news and announcements relating to Lovingly Managed. The informative site gives in-depth information of various ways in which the business can help ease the burden at an emotional time.

Visit the website to find out how Lovingly Managed could help you.

We released a garden decking website back last year and the site is doing incredibly well, we are happy to say. Having recently seen the quality of the decking once it is down I have to say how amazed I am at how good it looks! I have personally put timber decking down and it was hard work and needs staining every year, so this composite decking makes me cringe at how much time and effort we have wasted on timber decking, and continue to waste I might add!

If you are thinking about decking right now, whether it be for your garden or your roof top balcony, or even for a commercial premises I would urge you to first look at this composite decking from Timbertech, it is a little more expensive up front, but will be easy to maintain, will look better than other decking and will also be fitted easier!

Don't take my word for it - take a look at this composite decking site now.