Bang-on questions before creating a website

When I talk to people about my business I quite often get a reaction like “Oh, I have a website. I paid X amount and it doesn’t work”.
With “it doesn’t work” they usually mean that they don’t like it, they don’t get new business due to the website’s design / content or they can’t update the website themselves to inform their clients about news or events. In worst case it means all of the above.

Another reaction often is “Had I known what to prepare, the result would have been better and my money not wasted”.

So I thought I use the opportunity to put together some of the things you as the client need to think about before you approach a web designer. He / she should ask you these things in the first or second meeting to get the right understanding of your business, the audience you want to reach with the website and ideas you have already yourself. So it is better to think about these questions beforehand.

  • Do you have a branding? Like a logo, design, fonts you are using already?
    If not this is the right time to first approach a graphic designer.
  • Who are your existing and potential clients? What is their average age? Who do you want to attract with your website?
  • Do you have a marketing plan? What is your unique selling point? Do you know your strengths and opportunities but your weaknesses and threats as well? These should get emphasised or attacked accordingly with the website.
  • What kind of marketing did you do so far? Like flyers, networking, advertisement in newspaper or on the radio. Which ones worked for you which ones didn’t and do you know why?
  • Who are your competitors and how do they present themselves online?
  • Which of their websites do you like or don’t like and why? This goes for design, pages and content.
  • What do you want to show on your website? And which features do you want to have? Like a gallery, a blog, e-commerce, a forum.
  • Do you want to be able to update the website in future yourself?
  • Do you want to use Social Media?

A lot of questions, I know. But they are well worth thinking about beforehand as it will save you a lot of trouble later. And most of them should be easy for you to answer.

I always try to take up as little time as possible of my clients but it is impossible to create a good website without your help and commitment.

If you have any further questions or are ready to start the work on your website please contact me.

Is “Getting Irish business online” for you?

What do you do, when you are looking for information? If you want to find a business near you? When you are looking for accomodation within Ireland or abroad?
Most people go online and search for the information. And the amount of people will rise even more in the coming years with more and more people getting smart phones.

On the other hand about 40% of irish SME’s don’t have a web presence and therefore are loosing business as people can’t find them online.
Some of the common reasons for not getting a website are

  • money
  • time
  • knowledge (how to set up a website)
  • the believe word of mouth is enough
  • the believe they have / need local clients only

For that reason and to tackle especially the first three points the initiative of Enterprise Boards, Blacknight Solutions, Google and AnPost of getting irish business online was launched in May 2011.
It involves a free domain name and free hosting for one year, a €100 voucher for Google AdWords and reduced costs with AnPost if you are sending products to clients.
The Enterprise Boards then offer half day courses for €25 to support you in setting up your  website if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself and by the end of the course each of the participants will have their own website live.

This website might be a simple one but will help the businesses to get found online and to get used to having a website. And there are no limits to the amount of pages, a blog and a gallery are possible as well.

But in case you want at some stage a more branded and designed website you get full access to your hosting so you can upload any website.

I think it is a very good initiative and from what I hear a lot of businesses do take up this offer.

When you want to go for a more advanced website you can contact me for a first informative meeting. I can help you with my knowledge and experience and aim to take up as little of your time as possible.

WordPress.com versus WordPress.org

More and more people and businesses are getting their own website. Be it for a personal blog about their hobby or anything else that fascinates them or a business website. One reason is that it gets more and more important to have an online presence – especially if you have a business – as you basically don’t exist to most people if they can’t find you via an online search. But another one is that it gets easier and more affordable to get a website.

There are several software programmes out there that you can use to create your website.

  • Some free – some you have to buy.
  • Some you just use online – some you need to install on your computer to work on your website.
  • For some you need to get a domain name and hosting (and pay for both) – for others you don’t need to buy one or the other or even none of both.

The one I use and recommend when I get asked by people who want to start off is WordPress. But there is something quite confusing about it:

There are two different versions that are similar but not quite the same: WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

Easiest to use is the version you get using WordPress.com. It’s completely free (unless you need certain extras like mentioned below), you don’t need a domain or hosting and don’t need to install anything on your computer.
You get a domain like “MYNAME.wordpress.com” which is perfectly fine for personal websites but not recommended for businesses. But WordPress.com offers to redirect your website to a domain you registered somewhere else or with them for an annual fee of $12 or $17 respectively as per today.
There are several free features included when you sign up for WordPress.com. You can choose between over 100 different templates, have as many pages on your website you like, get statistics about visitors and protection against spam comments.

So what is the disadvantage?
You are limited in the design of your page as you can only change the template up to a certain point and only use the widgets that are provided to design your website further as you can’t install new ones.

So if you want to have this flexibility you go for WordPress.org where you have even more templates to choose from and can install the widgets you need. You do have to register a domain name, get hosting for your website and you need to install the software on your hosts server but your website will represent you and your business better.

If you can’t decide what is the best way for you to go or decide WordPress.org is the right one for you but don’t have the experience or time to work with it contact me and we can have an informative chat about your options.