Category Archives: Websites

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Simple WordPress Tips

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I think most people in business these days have heard of WordPress, but just in case you haven’t WordPress is a Content Management System for building websites using a language called PHP, which is easy to use, search engine friendly and makes it simple to keep your website up to date.

WordPress was originally created back in 2003 as a tool for building blogs, but in the last 17 years it has become so much more and is now a great tool for the small (and even large) business website.

In theory it is possible to build a WordPress website with very little technical knowledge, but there are some tricky areas and even if you don’t want to do-it-yourself it’s still useful to have some basic knowledge of the system, so I thought I’d put together a quick guide of some of the areas that I have found useful over the years.

Themes

A WordPress Theme allows the user to change the look and feel of their website without altering the core code. All WordPress sites require a theme to be present, but some can be used to create bespoke designs and some are pre-designed so that the beginner can create a great looking website without technical know-how. Both free and paid for Themes are available from a huge number of developers, with different levels of design and support available.

Plugins

A WordPress Plugin allows the user the extend the functionality of the website. This could include ecommerce, contact forms, search engine optimisation, analytics and even security. Once again paid and free plugins are available and different plugins require different levels of technical no-how to use. Some Themes will force you to include certain plugins to run their Theme – just go with it…they know what they are talking about!

Posts and Pages

The two main types of page content in WordPress are Posts and Pages, in general the Pages are used for information content such as Services, Case Studies etc and the Posts are used for your blog, FAQ or news section. The layout of both types of pages will be determined by your Theme, either bespoke or template.

Other Types of Content

Other kinds of content such as Slider Banners, Portfolios, Team Sections can be controlled by your Theme or Plug ins. Before choosing a Theme ensure that you know what content you intend to have in your site, so you can be sure that the Theme will have areas for all of it and you won’t have to squeeze it in odd places.

Menus

You can manage your site’s navigation in the Appearance section under Menus. Here you will be able to add Posts, Pages and Categories and drag and drop the menu structure to get the navigation to look how you want it.

Widgets

Also in the Appearance section is Widgets – this is where you can configure the content that appears in your side bar or footer sections of your website.

Theme Options

One last useful area of Appearance is Theme Options. If you have selected a Theme Template, so that you don’t have to do the design work yourself, this is where you will be able to adjust it (to a certain extent). You may be able to control your site logo, the order sections appear on the home page, your colour scheme, contact details and social media links. Different themes will allow different levels of personalisation. If you find you cannot alter something get in touch with the developer you got the theme from to see if they can alter it for you. You are more likely to get a good result with this if you have paid for your Theme.

Security

I would ALWAYS advise you to use a security plugin, I have found WordFence to be very reliable (even the free version). As well as having security at the WordPress level the server your website sits on also needs to be secure, so ensure you have chosen your hosting provider carefully.

SEO

If search engine optimisation is part of your marketing strategy then add the plugin Yoast, this gives a great traffic light system for optimising your pages and posts.

Analytics

For an easy way to hook up your website to Google Analytics try Monster Insights (again the free version is fine).

Final Hints

Don’t copy and paste your content directly from Word….the CMS will try to interpret the code which is in Word and could mess up your page layout. Pop the content into something like Notepad or TextEdit to remove formatting first.

Don’t upload huge images….its not necessary and it will only slow your site down…for you and your users.

Well I hope this blog gives you a few useful hints and tips to using WordPress. If you are still finding it completely baffling, but you have a WordPress site, or you’d like one, get in touch for some personal advice.


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A Guide to Google Analytics

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Some of you may have heard me say that having a website without some kind of statistics is like trying to drive with your eyes closed. Without data how do you know whether your website is doing what you need it to? If you are actively marketing your business you want to be able to see your visitor numbers increasing.

Analytics can also give you great data on things like, your most popular pages, the most popular days of the week and times that your website is accessed and even whether people are using your website more on desktop computers or mobile.

Checking your data can also help you find out if too many people are ‘bouncing’, this means leaving your website as soon as they find it.

I tend to recommend Google Analytics because it is free. There are lots of other statistics packages out there and some can give really detailed information. If you are a large B2B company there are packages that can identify what company has visited your website!

Setting Up Google Analytics

I have already written an FAQ on how to get Google Analytics on your website, so I won’t repeat myself…you can read about it here

What do I do now?

Ok so now you have it, unless you have a lovely digital agency who will send you a report on a regular basis you’ll need to login and check your stats. I find it useful to diarise this for the beginning of each month.

Easiest way to login is to Google ‘Google Analytics’ click the result and enter you username and password. You’ll start on the Dashboard which gives you very immediate data, including how many people are on your website right now and visitor trends for the past week. You can scroll down to see information like When do your users visit and What are your top devices.

Useful Data

Here are the most useful areas for me, on the right hand side you will see a menu which includes Audience. Click here and then click on Overview.

Select the date range in the top left, I like to view data by month (I also record this data outside of Google Analytics, but that’s up to you)

The data you can now see will tell you:

Users – how many individual people accessed your website during the month

Sessions – How many times people accessed your website during the month (a person may have accessed your website several times)

Number of Sessions per User

Page Views – How many pages in total your users viewed

Pages per Session

Average Session Duration

Bounce Rate – This is a figure which tells you how many of your users came to the site and left immediately. Anything under 50% is fine….unfortunately at least half of your ‘visitors’ will probably be ‘bots’ – these could be good bots (like Google bots) or bad bots (like Spam Bots), but there is nothing you can really do to stop them and you could spend a lot of time and money trying.

You will also see a pie chat showing New and Returning visitors. 80/20 would be a good split here to show your website is engaging current and new customers.

I now like to take a look at how visitors found my website. You can find this information again in the left hand menu under Acquisition, you may have to close the Audience menu to see it. Once again select overview and set the date period if you need to

Here you will find the source of your visitors displayed both as a pie chart and a table

Organic Search – this means people that found your website in the natural Google listings. In theory you could also find out what term people searched for, but most people have private browsing enabled, so this often does not yield helpful data

Direct – these are people who typed your website address into the address bar of their browser, they may have found it on your business card, email signature, an advert or flyer

Social – fairly self explanatory….these are visitors that came from social networks, clicking on this in the table will give you a breakdown of your most popular social networks

Referral – this is people who clicked on your website address on another website, unfortunately much of this data is often Spam bots, so if you see things like xyz.co.uk just ignore

You may see other sources too for example if you have run a recruitment advert on a large national site

Finally is you have run a PPC campaign you can see Paid Search data here, the number of people that came to your website after clicking on your Google Ad.

Google Analytics contains a huge volume of data about your site and your visitors, but if you can at least start by hooking it up to your website and keeping an eye on the above stats on a monthly basis it will give you a great insight into how your website and your marketing is working.


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Website Redesign – things to think about

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A business connection recently asked “My website is two years old, do I need a new one?” You can read my answer to that question here, but if you have decided that you do indeed need a new website you’ll want to make sure you have thought of everything so you don’t need a new one again in a few years time! So here are my top 10 things to think about if you are redesigning your website

Check out the competition

Whatever marketing you are undertaking it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the competition. In this case you want to visit their websites (but as a rule make a List of your competitors on Twitter is a great way to keep an eye on them – read more about how to do this in my FAQ). Have a look at what they are doing that you think is good. I’m not saying copy them, but be inspired by great ideas. Also see if there is anything that you think doesn’t work so you can avoid it!

Does your current website have any particular problem areas

Are there any parts of your website that you are particularly concerned about, or that people have mentioned don’t work well. Perhaps your website isn’t mobile friendly (if you are not sure you can check here), maybe it takes too many clicks to get to important content. Whatever the issue keep this at the forefront of your mind as you consider your redesign

What about SEO

How does your current website perform in search engines? If the answer is ‘very well thanks’, then be sure what you do does not negatively effect your results. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the redesign – you are not coming up in search engines…in which case make sure you do your SEO research right at the start. Or maybe search engines just are not an important part of your marketing strategy – that’s fine, but be sure that is the case before you disregard them.

Take a look at your website statistics

Does your current site have analytics? Google Analytics is a great free tool that can help you find out which are your most popular pages, how long people spend on your site and whether or not they come back. If you have it, then have a look through the statistics to find out what works and what doesn’t. If you don’t have it then make sure that you install it in your new website – you can read more about Google Analytics in this FAQ

Ask your customers

By far the easiest way to find out what is good and bad about your existing website is to ask! If you have many customers you could set up a short survey and allow people visiting your website to fill it out, perhaps offering a reward to participants. If you clientele is more limited you could email a survey to selected clients. Survey Monkey is a great free tool for creating your own online surveys.

What is the goal of your website

It’s really important to have your website goal front and centre throughout the design process. Perhaps your website has more than one goal, in which case you can prioritise several goals. It might be to give information, to create enquiries or to sell products, but whatever it is keep it in mind at all times.

Do you know your target audience

It’s never too late to create your target audience persona…is it Rebecca the Stay at Home Mum? Lawrence the Lawyer? Margaret the Retiree? Perhaps you have more than one target audience persona. If you haven’t already thought this out now is the time! It will make your website redesign and all your marketing so much easier and more effective

Review your content

Have a good look through ALL of your website content. Is anything out of date? Is there anything that is surplus to requirements. Just like the shelves of a shop everything in your website should be useful and beautiful. Don’t keep anything that doesn’t have a purpose.

Make sure you are happy with your brand

If you are redesigning your website is it also time for a rebrand? If your reason for a website redesign is because your business or target audience has changed then it may also be time to think about a rebrand. You certainly don’t want to spend your valuable time and money redesigning your website only to realise in six months time that you need a new logo!

Draft your new structure and content before you get started

Once you have followed all of the above steps, you’ll be in a great position to create a website structure, this will list all of the planned pages for your website. Because you have done your SEO research you’ll know your keywords and be able to write your service content to reflect these. If you are having a blog you should get at least 3 ready for when you go live and also have all the case studies and testimonials prepared. Get all your images ready, resized for web and named sensibly. All this planning and organisation will make your redesign go much more smoothly

As ever if you are thinking about a website redesign and you need some help, drop me a line louise@inspirationagency.co.uk


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What is UX?

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UX or User Experience is a term you will often hear bandied about in the website community these days, but what is it and more importantly why is it important for your business’ website.

UX stands for User Experience and when used in relation to websites it means what a person experiences when visiting your website. UX can also be used in other areas of your business, for example when someone calls, visits or interacts in another way with your business. I’m focusing on Website UX.

Why is UX important?

It is likely that your website was a big investment for your business, so it is essential that investment pays off and if your users are not having a good experience on your website the chances are it won’t.

If you have invested in a website I hope you have also invested (either time or money) in getting people to your website, this could be through PPC, SEO, Social Media, Blogging or a variety of other marketing methods, so if once you get your all important prospective customers to your website you really want them to convert – otherwise that was all a big waste of time and money!

UX can help ensure your website visitors become customers, there is a lot to website UX, but here are some things to consider when looking at User Experience on your website

Prioritise information

One of the nice things about websites is that you can include soooo much information. However it is essential that you think about the priority of information. What is the most important piece of information for your users, ensure that information is given the ‘top slot’ on your home page and then drill down from there. I would say one of your most important pieces of information is your contact details – so make sure they are front and centre.

Don’t try and reinvent the wheel

People are used to the way websites work, navigation is at the top of the page, contact link will be on the right, links are highlighted and underlined, buttons are rounded corner rectangles. If it works and people will find it easy to use don’t try and do something different just for the sake of it

Stick to your brand style

Translating your brand into a full website design can be difficult, it’s easy to get carried away with fonts, colours and imagery, but it is essential to stick to your brand style, so that users aren’t confused and distracted. Your website’s priority is to enhance your brand and communicate your message, if in doubt, leave it out

Think about all the pages, not just your home page

It can be very easy to focus on the design of your home page and let the others pages take second place, but bear in mind that a user might not enter your website at your home page. If you are relying on SEO or PPC they are likely to enter at one of your product or service pages. If you are blogging then the blog page will be their first impression of your site. Of course they will hopefully take a look at your other pages, but it is essential that their first impression, whatever page that might be, is good

Make your website scannable

Just like reading a book or magazine, people scan websites. The phrase ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ has never been more true! So ensure that people can understand your website and business with a quick scan. Once they find something that interests them they will read, but you have to capture their interest.

Get rid of pop ups

They are annoying – get rid…simple

So now you know what website UX is and how to improve yours. I’d love to hear your thoughts…are there any websites which you feel have great UX or that really annoy you?


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What on earth is CMS?

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CMS stands for Content Management System. It some ways it does what it says on the tin….it is a system for managing the content of your website.

Content Management Systems are generally accessible via any computer with an internet connection by using your browser. This could be Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

There are many different CMS’s available, but one you have probably heard of is WordPress. We create websites using this system and also using the slightly more advanced Joomla system.

CMS’s are general quite easy to use with a little basic training. The main text editor part will be very much like using Word, you’ll type what you want the website content to be, choose whether you want parts to be bold or perhaps some bullet points and then save your work to make the changes live on the website.

Most content management systems will also allow you to update images on the site, add new pages and delete old content.

Depending of your business needs and your technical ability the CMS can also be used to edit other parts of the site, including home page layout, navigation and fonts and colours. The beauty of having website experts create your CMS website is that you can choose how much control you want to have and still have experts to step in and make other changes for you.

Many businesses are now choosing CMS websites to suit their ever changing market and of course to help with SEO! To find out more about how a CMS can help your search engine ranking, read about it in our blog article ‘How does website content affect SEO’.

If you’d like to find out more about how a CMS website can help your business, or if you want a quote for one, drop us an email hello@inspirationagency.co.uk