Are you thinking about taking your business online? You're not alone! The COVID-19 pandemic has left many brick-and-mortar shops closed until further notice, but online shops have seen an unprecedented rise in customers since lockdown began.

Countless people are now turning to the Internet for their favourite products and necessities, so opening a digital store for your customers to use is a no-brainer. Here's where to start:

1. Choose a domain name

Choosing a domain name that fits your business is an important first step when you're taking your business online. Ideally, your domain name will be the same as (or very close to) your business name - for example, you can see that our domain name is designer-websites.co.uk. This will help people to match your website to your brand.

Here are a few other things to bear in mind when you're choosing a domain name:

  • Choose a suitable domain extension like .com or .co.uk
  • Avoid domain names that include other people's trademarks - this can cause legal problems

There are lots of different websites you can use to find and register your domain name. GoDaddy and Ionos are two popular registrars. Once you think you’ve found the right domain, you can either register it yourself or ask your website developer to do this for you. Once registered you'll own it for at least a year, so make sure you choose wisely.

2. Set up a website

Once your domain is up and running, it's time to start thinking about the exciting part: setting up your website! There are lots of pre-built systems and free platforms out there, , but in our opinion, these are simply not the best way to go if you want a quality site.

Although pre-built systems might look like a good deal, there are several reasons why we'd recommend a bespoke solution if you're taking your business online. Here are just a few of them...

  • More freedom to customise your website's functionality and design
  • Significantly improved scalability
  • More flexibility to integrate 3rd party solutions
  • Improved website security
  • Much better optimisation
  • Better tracking

The list goes on - read our blog about the advantages of a bespoke website design if you'd like to find out more.

Your website needs to:

  • Be visually representative of your brand
  • Show up in Google's search results
  • Work seamlessly across a range of devices
  • Generate successful sales / enquiries

We know this sounds like an awful lot of work when you're already shouldering all the pressures and responsibilities of running a business, but fear not - here at Designer Websites, we have in-house graphic designers, developers, and copywriters who can do all of the hard work for you. Whether you need an ecommerce website that allows your loyal customers to shop online or a simple brochure site to help you generate more enquires, we can help.

Over the years, we've supported all kinds of businesses as they've made the transition from brick-and-mortar store to online success story. Check out some of our case studies if you'd like to see how we did it.

If you're interested in taking your business online, you can request a free, no-obligation quote here:

Request a Web Design Quote >

3. Integrate a payment method

One way to help your customers feel secure when they're placing an order on your website for the first time is to integrate a recognisable, reputable payment system. Designer Websites is an official Sage Pay partner, but there are other options like PayPal, Stripe, Wirecard and Worldpay that you might consider too.

For added consumer confidence, you should also:

  • Make sure your website has a valid SSL certificate. This will ensure that any sensitive details (e.g. passwords, credit card numbers) submitted via your website are encrypted and therefore much harder for hackers to steal.
  • Add an express checkout option so new users aren't forced to register an account on your site when making a quick purchase.

4. Follow the law

As you might imagine, selling your wares online comes with a set of legal obligations that may seem a little overwhelming if you've only ever sold in-store. Here's a brief overview to help you get to grips with the basics:

  • You need to comply with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) if you are collecting any personal data from your users.
  • You must clearly display appropriate terms of use, a privacy notice, VAT details, cookie/marketing consent and information about pricing and delivery costs.
  • You should be aware of age restrictions that apply to your good/services and (if applicable) set up a method of verifying age before the checkout.
  • You should be mindful of copyright. Images, text and even the architecture of a website site can be copyrighted. Make sure you're only using digital assets that you have the rights to use.

5. Let customers know you're online

Although you might not be closing the doors of your real-life store for good, it's important to make people aware your business has a new space online. There are many different ways you can reach out to old and new customers to share the good news, including...

  • Social Media

Use your existing social media channels (or set some up) to make a bit of noise about your new website. There are so many platforms to choose from, you'll have no problem reaching your target audience in no time at all.

We'd recommend tailoring your posts to suit each platform; for example, you could post a detailed announcement on Facebook and a more casual mention on your Instagram story. This gives people lots of different ways to discover that your business has moved online. (Don't forget to include a link back to your new website whenever possible!)

  • Email / Newsletter

A great way to let your existing customers know that you've moved online is to send them a simple, informative email. You could include a promotion to encourage them to make their first purchase on your online store. While this won't directly help you to attract new customers, it is a great way to keep your loyal customers in the loop.

Operating as a stand-alone offline business is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Don't get left behind and lose sales to your competitors. Take your business online with a little help from the Designer Websites team.

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It's the end of another busy week for us here at Designer Websites, and it looks like the rest of the tech and marketing world have been up to their eyeballs too! Once again there are a bunch of things on our radar that we'd love to share with you this week; from a double resignation at Google to 2020 website preparations. Intrigued? Just keep reading...

Photo from https://www.theverge.com/

Spotify Wrapped Takes the Internet by Storm

If you've ventured on social media anytime this week you might have seen images like this popping up all over the place. Well, that's because we've come around to the Spotify wrapped time of year, where listeners get an in-depth overview of their musical habits. That's right, those guilty pleasures and Disney-sing-alongs and Karaoke classics are about to be showcased for all to see! This year, Spotify has made their roundups social media-friendly, much to the disappointment of Apple Music users, who haven't been treated to these luxuries!

Google Co-Founders Step Down

It looks like some big changes to the Google management structure are beginning to take shape. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, currently CEO and President of Alphabet, are to step aside leaving Google CEO Sundar Pichai to take the reigns for Alphabet too. They've said they will remain in the company as active shareholders and board members!

Freshen Up Your SEO Strategy

The year is coming to a close and we're starting to see reminders that now is a great time for reflecting and adjusting your SEO strategy. 

If you've been focusing on building engagement on socials, writing engaging blogs or optimising your site content, it might be time to switch things up a bit! Why not dedicate some time to build some valuable backlinks, or pursue adding eye-catching video content to your site?

Start to plan your business goals for 2020 and consider how you can tweak your current strategy to suit them! Our SEO team always recommend at this time of year is a dose of healthy competitor analysis.

Take a look around competitor sites, find out what they've been doing, who's linking to them and make sure you haven't missed an opportunity to reach new audiences. You might notice your competitors holding festive competitions at this time of year, which is something your audience can really share and engage with!

Here are a few pointers to help you refresh your SEO strategy:

  • Check your existing site content and add extra information where you can. This will give returning users a little extra to read!
  • Consider adding videos to your marketing plan, a splash of eye-catching multimedia can really boost engagement
  • Build your social media following. Have you tried a Facebook boosted post this year?
  • Review your internal links and consider adding new ones, this will help Google better understand the layout of your site and potentially boost rankings!

These are just a few ideas to get you started, keep checking back to see our helpful SEO based blogs throughout the year. We'll see you next week for another DW roundup. Have a lovely weekend!

 

festive playlist, Christmas playlist, Christmas tunes, Christmas songs

 

With the calendar now well into December, it’s officially acceptable to fill your car with Christmas tunes and crank up the volume to a chassis-shaking, bell-jingling 11+.

To help you get your yuletide off to a flier, we’ve put together a festive playlist to get you in the Christmas spirit faster than Phil Mitchell at a free bar.

Chosen by the various members of DW team, this varied collection is a mixed bag of Christmas classics, festive favourites and holiday anomalies – and we mean varied…

If variety is the spice of life, consider this playlist to be a melodic lamb madras. Tuck in!

 

festive playlist, Christmas playlist, Christmas tunes, Christmas songs

 

“All I Want for Christmas Is You” – Mariah Carey

Making its debut in 1994, it’s hard to believe that Mariah Carey’s Christmas classic is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year – all the more reason to add it your playlist and play it loud and proud!

A festive favourite for many, Miss Carey’s anthemic December tune is so popular that it even broke Spotify’s global single-day streaming record on Christmas Eve Last year, clocking up almost 11 million streams!

Festive Fact

Since its release, the song has been covered by countless artists, including everyone from Arianna Grande and Shania Twain to My Chemical Romance and Bowling for Soup.

 

“Christmas in Hollis” – Run DMC

An altogether different yet equally awesome addition to the playlist, 1987’s “Christmas in Hollis” proved that the festive airwaves are strictly reserved for radio-friendly pop music.

This tinsel-tastic track by New York rappers, Run DMC, originally appeared on a benefit album in aid of the Special Olympics. Solidifying its status as a Christmas classic, “Christmas in Hollis” even makes a memorable appearance in the opening five minutes of Die Hard – which definitely IS a Christmas film!

Festive Fact

Despite being directed by an NYU film student, the video for "Christmas in Hollis" went on to win Rolling Stone's 1987 “Best Video of the Year” award, incredibly edging out Michael Jackson's music video for “Bad” directed by Martin Scorsese.

 

“Mistletoe” – Justin Beiber

Justin Beiber traded his cap for a Christmas hat back in 2011 with this reggae-inspired holiday tune. By January 1st 2012, the track had reached an impressive 722k downloads, selling more copies in a calendar year than any previous holiday song in digital history.

Included on Beiber’s Christmas album, “Under the Mistletoe”, the song helped the album shoot straight to #1 on the Billboard 200 in the US. As a result, Beibs became the first artist to record three #1 albums before the age of 18.

Festive Fact

Prior to its official release, Beiber debuted the track live in front of over 45k screaming fans Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Stadium on October 6th. Despite the fact it was over two and a half months before Christmas, the crowd lapped it up!

 

“Things I Want” – Tenacious D and Sum 41

When it comes to warm and fuzzy Christmas songs, it’s fair to say that Tenacious D and Sum 41 are two bands that aren’t the first that spring to mind. Luckily, this tune from 2001 is neither warm nor fuzzy, instead offering breakneck festive fun in a 3-minute joyride.

Brushing aside the typical paint-by-numbers approach of seasonal song-writing, “Things I Want” is a yule-tirade of demands from Jack Black to St Nick, ranging from a time machine and a robot pelican to Pamela Anderson’s speedo top and a statue of Moby.

Festive Fact

Jack Black would return for another crack at the Christmas collaboration in 2010, teaming up with comedy actor, Jason Segel, to cover David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” mash-up.

 

“Stop the Cavalry” – Jona Lewie

Hitting the airwaves in 1980, “Stop the Cavalry” was never intended to be a Christmas song; however, the line “Wish I was at home for Christmas” led management to change course and take the festive approach.

In hindsight, Jona Lewie will be glad they did. The song has become a yuletide mainstay and, according to Lewie himself, the song’s royalties account for 50% of his annual income.

Festive Fact

Upon its release, “Stop the Cavalry” reached #3 in the UK Singles Chart. It was kept off the top spot by two reissued John Lennon tracks following his untimely death that same month.

 

“Proper Crimbo” – Bo’ Selecta

The brainchild of Leigh Francis, “Proper Crimbo” hit the airwaves almost two decades ago in 2003 and, while the cast of characters in the video may show its age, the song itself hasn’t lost any of its catchiness.

A true ear-worm in every sense, the song itself reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart back in December ’03. While it remained in the charts for nine weeks, it’s remained in our hearts ever since!

Festive Fact

Leigh Francis would return to the music charts ten years later in 2013, this time behind the legendary tasche of Keith Lemon with the fittingly titled “I Wanna Go On You”.

 

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” – Brenda Lee

Despite turning 61-years-old this December 1958’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” isn’t showing any signs of age and is a firm favourite of many during the festive period.

Incredibly, Brenda Lee recorded the song when she was just 13-years-old. While the song was largely unsuccessful upon its release, it’s gone on to snowball into an absolute staple.

The track was also memorably included in 1990s Christmas classic, Home Alone, further cementing its status as a solid-gold Christmas classic.

Festive Fact

Famously covered by Kim Wilde and Mel Smith for Comic Relief in 1987, the cover version actually peaked higher than the original, reaching #3 in the UK Singles Chart to the original’s #6.

 

“Mr Hankey” – South Park

For anyone growing up in the ‘90s, South Park was a true phenomenon, blending outrageous cartoon antics with expletive-riddled adult comedy in one ridiculous package. This song is no different…

Released in 1997, “Mr Hankey, the Christmas Poo” brings a whole new meaning to the term “yule log”. Howdy ho, everybody!

Festive Fact

The following year, South Park would have another crack at the music charts with “Chocolate Salty Balls”, as sung by Chef (aka Isaac Hayes). Incredibly, Chef’s contribution went on to #1 in the UK Singles Chart in December ’98.

 

“Fairytale of New York” – The Pogues

What wintry playlist would be complete without being graced with the unmistakable opening piano notes of Shane MacGowan’s 1987 classic, “Fairytale of New York”?

A true iron-clad staple of the Christmas period, the song has endured year-after-year and has remained timeless since its debut. In fact, following its re-release in 2005, the song has made an appearance in the UK Top 20 every December since!

Festive Fact

MacGowan, himself actually born on Christmas Day, apparently wrote the song as part of a bet with Elvis Costello. It’s fair to say that MacGowan probably won that bet and has been laughing all the way to the bank every Christmas since!

 

“Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” – The Darkness

Rounding out the list in style is 2003’s the crotch-hugging, lycra-clad classic from The Darkness. Filled with trademark falsetto singing, outrageous outfits and face-melting guitar solos, it’s everything you could want it to be and more.

Channelling the festive tunes of ‘70s glam-rockers Slade and Wizzard, Justin Hawkins and Co. go all out in their festive foray into snowy song-writing with more cheeky lyrics than your average track from The Cheeky Girls. A true Christmas crowd-pleaser!

Festive Fact

Despite being hotly-tipped to be Christmas #1, “Christmas Time” by The Darkness was pipped at the post by a depressing cover of Tears for Fears’ “Mad World” by Gary Jules. According to Music Week, they were beaten by just 5k copies.

 

 

So, there you have it – 10 festive favourites from the DW team to help you get in the Christmas mood and kickstart your own Christmas playlist. Merry Christmas from everyone here at Designer Websites!

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roundup heading

Take a break from the Black Friday shopping to join us for another roundup of the greatest and latest tech and marketing news.

This week saw the introduction of Google's ambient mode, the removal of inactive twitter accounts, the launch of a new social media platform and some very controversial photos of cows in VR headsets.

Are you intrigued? Let's jump right into it!

 

Video courtesy of Android

Google Assistant's New Ambient Mode

 Have you ever wished you could see helpful Google assistant information on your lock screen?

Well, with Google assistant's new Ambient Mode, that dream is becoming a reality! Things like your calendar events, your notifications, information about the weather and smart home controls can be managed directly from your lock screen with Google's Ambient Mode.

The catch... Ambient only works when your phone is plugged in, so you'll have to keep your charger handy if you want to make the most of it!

At the moment, it looks like Google is only giving a select number of devices access to this feature including Nokia phones, Xiaomi phones, Lenovo's Smart Tab M8 and more. Hopefully, with Ambient mode's deep integration into Android, we can expect to see it roll out across most devices in the coming months. 

Do you think this could replace your Google Home, your Amazon Echo? Let us know your thoughts.

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Twitter Deactivating Inactive Accounts

When was the last time you logged onto Twitter? If it was 6 months ago (or longer) then you could be in for a shock!!

Twitter has announced that it will be deactivating old accounts to free up usernames and 'clean up' the platform. 

As you can imagine, the idea of deleting inactive accounts has caused a bit of an outrage, particularly amongst people who have lost a loved one. Currently, Twitter doesn't have a way to memorialise the accounts of deceased users, which can make preserving these accounts a little tricky. 

Luckily, Twitter has said they'll delay this process until they've come up with a solution to these concerns. After all, many people hold on to the twitter conversations and exchanges they had with a loved one long after they pass, so it's nice to see Twitter making allowances for this. 

Cocoon

Image from www.standard.co.uk

Cocoon App Created By Ex-Facebook Employee

Just when you thought there couldn't be any more social media platforms, a new app called Cocoon emerges!

Upon initial inspection, Cocoon looks like a hybrid of WhatsApp and Facebook newsfeed. Cocoon offers a space where you can share messages, make video calls, see people's locations and much much more. 

Sachin Monga, who co-founded Cocoon, worked at Facebook prior to setting up this new social business venture, and says that the app has become her 'home on her phone'!

We think this is an interesting concept, and could be a simple way to filter out all the spammy news articles, old school friends and annoying acquaintances that most of us are used to seeing all over our Facebook & Instagram feeds. Would you be willing to give it a try? 

So, that concludes our roundup for this week! So, will you be giving the new Ambient Mode or Cocoon a try? Or will you be logging back into your long-abandoned Twitter account to save it from being re-commissioned? However you're spending your weekend, we hope it's a good one and we'll see you next week for another DW roundup!

Yet another week has gone by and yet again... lots has happened! Here's our weekly round-up of the latest and greatest marketing and tech news of the week. 

Instagram's hidden likes

If you haven't already heard, Instagram is rolling out a new feature in the hope of making Instagram a more mentally friendly place! The new change means users won't be able to see the total number of likes on each other's posts. This is all part of Instagram's movement towards de-incentivising the platform.

At the moment, Instagram is testing this feature so we're yet to see what kind of impact this will have. Instagram reports that feedback has been good so far though, so watch this space!

Google tests a new feature that corrects your pronunciation

It was announced this week that Google plans to launch a new feature to help people check and correct their pronunciation of new and unfamiliar words. All you'll need to do is speak into your microphone, then, Google will use its AI technology to analyse your pronunciation and provide helpful feedback. Perfect for people learning a new language!

Search Console training series

For digital marketers looking to brush up their Search Console knowledge, Google is planning to release a new series of videos to walk you through the platform step by step. We know that Google has (and is continuing to make) some pretty significant changes to the format and features of Search Console, so this will be really beneficial for marketers everywhere.

So far, we can only see the trailer... but we'll definitely be checking back to watch the episodes as Google starts to roll them out!

Exciting tech releases

It's no surprise that with Christmas quickly approaching, big tech companies are rolling out new and attractive tech an alarming rate! This week alone, Apple released a new 16-inch MacBook Pro, Motorola released a new Razr (which looks deceivingly like the original model we all know and love), and Disney+ launched.

That's right, you can now find hundreds of Disney TV shows and films all in one place... 

So, if like us, you're going to spend the entire weekend binge-watching Disney movies then we'll see you next week for another round-up!