WordCamp Bournemouth, a personal journey with WordPress

By Published 16 July 2014

WordCamp Bournemouth

WordPress, an open source platform used for building dynamic websites, continues to steadily grow throughout the creative design and development industry and it is now one of the leading platforms and platform of choice for many agencies.   As a result the WordPress community has now evolved and groups of people who use WordPress on a daily basis gather, meet up and discuss and share their skills, experiences, knowledge, best plugins and best practice at regular meetings up and down the country (as well as all across the world).

These meetings are called WordCamps. Read the rest of this entry »

How to understand the basics before you engage a web designer

By Published 8 July 2014

Web design user experienceBusiness owners face a constant learning curve with technology in today’s world.  It’s not enough just being a business leader, it’s now more important than ever to have a good understanding of the social media landscape that surrounds the ever growing opportunities – to reach out and gain new clients.  And the message is clear that if you don’t jump on board this ship, it will continue to sail without you.

So when it comes to your web presence, how far should you go to understand the technology that builds your website?

I’ve often had conversations with business owners about their website and explained to them about “platform”, “WordPress”, “Custom CMS”, even email marketing, greeted with the response “… so where does that email go to?” It can be incredibly confusing if you’re not familiar with the terminology.  I often find myself repeating what I’m saying – a lot, and explaining it in ways to help make it easier to understand.

If you plan to invest in the re-development of your website in the near future, then I believe it’s important to understand some of the basics in order to know what you’re asking for.  This will be an investment for the future, so in order to compare “apples with apples” so to speak it’s good to know what you’re asking for in the first place.

So let’s take a look at some of the basic processes that are involved in building a new website:

Wireframe

A wire frame is simply a blank canvas laying out boxes to denote where you want different content and images to appear.  The layout is incredibly important as this will dictate how the development will progress.

Design

The Photoshop (PSD) design does not just include where the punchy images will go, it also includes designs for:  Text colour; Font; background colours; Heading styles and sizes (H1, H2 etc); link colours; layout.

Also, not all pages will have the same design layout.  For instance the Homepage of a website will always be different to the content pages, which will always be different to the blog page.  So layouts will need to be designed for each of these pages.

UX (User Experience)

One of the most important aspects of design in today’s web world is designing from the user’s point of view. Keeping the design clean, easy to read, easy to navigate and making sure most of all that the user experience is a good one.  Ultimately we want users to come back and re-visit the site and recommend to others.  So the UX is the most important aspect of design.

Platform

The “platform” is the software that is used for developing your website. Fewer and fewer websites now are built without using software in some form or other.  The reason for this is so that it makes it easy for the owner to update the content themselves, rather than having to go back to their web designer all the time.

Now there are a number of different platforms available that are “open source”. Open source is when software has been developed by a community and is therefore freely available to download onto the server where the website will be hosted.  Some of the most popular platforms that are used by web designers today are:   WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Magento.  There are of course many others however these are the most popular.

Development

So now a wireframe has been created, and a design has been agreed this now needs to be converted into a real, live website!   This involves development work (HTML5, CSS, Java, PHP.. etc). In other words the language that programmers develop code in to make it look and do all the things you want it to do.  Even with the skill and expertise required, sometimes bugs can be found that need to be fixed and all this takes a fair amount of time.

Once the development has been completed then it needs to be tested. It’s important that your new website works across all the latest browsers, and is viewable on mobile devices.  We have to check all this before we can agree that the site is ready to go live.

Value for money

So in summary, when you receive a quote for your new website that may be a little higher than you thought, there will be good reason for it.  If you follow due diligence and get 3 or 4 quotes from different web design companies, then make sure they are “like for like” in order to compare prices.

You will probably find that each web company may have a different approach and use different software which makes it very difficult to compare one against the other.

If you understand what you want and what you are getting, it makes it easier to make that very important decision.

Has SEO outgrown its acronym?

By Published 20 June 2014

We have now moved into a period of time when the good people at Google and the other search engine providers; are focused more than ever before on the relevant results returned by search engines following searches conducted by human beings.

Before we put the flags out let’s take a quick look at how this has happened. You have no doubt heard the phrase “I will look it up on the internet!” or “I’ll do a search!” The first statement is false! Without some form of index it would be impossible to find anything on the internet. For those of a certain age you may remember names like Excite an early web search established in 1993, or LookSmart, or how about Altavista? These were all early developers of what we now call Search Engines!

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Where’s your content? What’s your excuse?

By Published 18 June 2014

Have you been asked the same question more than once in your business?  I’d be surprised if you haven’t.  It could be any question about your business, it could be about your products, services or just simply – how does this work?  Now the point of this is that you are asked these questions because they know you have the knowledge to provide them with the answer.  If you didn’t clearly you wouldn’t be doing your job properly.

Content

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So how much should you pay for your WordPress website?

By Published 27 May 2014

All WordPress websites are based on themes that can be extended upon their intended purpose – that is part of its power. So the more complex the design or functionality a site owner requires, the more he will have to spend adapting it to suit. We have organised WordPress sites into three types. Each type is progressively more complex and has a higher price tag.

Type A – The no-frills website

Type A is the least expensive option and consists of the bare bones of what you would expect from a brochure / portfolio style website to achieve.

wordpress website designTypically, a Type A website will use an out-of-the-box WordPress theme which are rather like kit-cars i.e. the design is preconfigured with how its structure, functionality and colour palette etc is made up. For example, if the theme allows the background colour to be changed from green to blue, you can’t have it red, unless you are willing to pay extra for customisation.

Warning: Many businesses opt for the Type A site with the intention of making revision after revision until the developer gets it “perfect.” That’s not what the developer has agreed to. The developer has agreed to a basic site at the low end of the cost spectrum and that’s what they’ll deliver. If you want the developer to spend lots of time fine tuning and finessing your site for the Type A price, you will be disappointed.

Read the rest of this entry »

10 Poor Excuses NOT to have a Business Blog Now

By Published 15 April 2014

to-blog-or-not-to-blog

Fair warning!  This is a rather pointed prod-of-a-blog, directed towards business owners and entrepreneurs, so if you’re not up for receiving a shove in the right direction, you may want to continue on with your day…however, if you are looking to grow your business for free, then perhaps you might be willing to hear what we have to say…

At LA Marketing, we are in the business of helping other business owners get the most out of their online presence, and it never ceases to amaze and frustrate us that the more we speak to people about the value of blogging and other forms of content marketing, the more we are blown away with lame and down-right daft excuses as to why these men and women are not jumping on the wagon and giving their customers what they are truly looking for.

So in this little post, we have decided to take a break from trying to convince small business owners about the incredible benefits of blogging and to embrace it. Instead, we’re going to talk about some of the bogus excuses we’ve been hearing more and more of these days.

“My company’s website does not currently have a blog because…….”

Read the rest of this entry »

Keeping your website content fresh for success

By Published 3 April 2014
Imagine this:

With the help of a website design company, you have just finalised the content and a great look for your new website. Now it’s time to launch it and sit back and let it weave its magic, right? Well, not quite! Keeping your website fresh and up-to-date is a key factor in attracting new customers – and keeping existing ones.

Here we explain why having an up-to-date website is so crucial to its success and offer simple ways in which you can keep your web content performing for you consistently, and for the long term.

3 important reasons why you need to change your web content regularly

1. To help search engines know your value

To put it simply – search engines like websites that change regularly and regard those with the most frequently updated content, to be the most interesting and relevant to web surfers. A lot of value therefore is placed on fresh content so if you want your business to perform well in search engines, then it is vital you appear to be actively updating and adding new content to your website.

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Google+ is a must-have for all business – here’s why…

By Published 4 March 2014

Why Google+?

We all know that being found in search engines organically is in essence free marketing – and who doesn’t like something for free?

SEO (or Search Engine Optimisation) is a process that includes online and offline strategies that help the search engines to index your site and ultimately takes all of the information you give it and assigns your website a position on search pages.

Google, the main search engine on the internet, does this by using different signals to determine the quality and relevance of each page of your website. The most important among these signals is links from other sites. These links must be of high quality to rank higher in search engine results. A link from the BBC News site will be valued much more highly than a link from a small independent news sharing site, for example.

Google+ isn’t just another social media platform; it’s a powerful weapon in your SEO arsenal and having an active profile page with Google+ and linking it to your website (and vice versa) can help you increase search rankings for your website.

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Why content and distribution are important to influence

By Published 3 March 2014

According to Mashable, 100,000 tweets are shared, 347 website blog posts are published, 48 hours of YouTube videos are uploaded and 571 websites are launched to the world-wide-web every minute of every day (and those numbers continue to grow year on year).

On its own, that’s a huge amount of published content. But add to that the social-media-sphere and what you have is a never-ending volcanic plume of content being promoted and accessed from a plethora of channels.

social media conversation prismBrian Solis and JESS3 share this infographic, The Conversation Prism. It is a visual map of the social media landscape, and an ongoing study in digital ethnography that tracks dominant and promising social networks and organizes them by how they’re used in everyday life.

As marketers, what this graphic isn’t intended to do is overwhelm us or make us tear our hair out and wonder how we can possibly generate content that will get through all this noise (although this is a key question you need to include in your marketing plan).

The bigger picture is illustrated neatly here in this quote from a US-based marketer and thought-leader, Jonathan Pevelman from Buzzfeed
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Is your website reacting to the latest browser trends for 2014?

By Published 25 February 2014

Put simply, are you focusing on your UX for today’s consumer market by making your website responsive?

If you don’t yet know what a responsive website is or what ‘UX’ means, then quite frankly you probably aren’t keeping up with the latest online trends.  But unlike fads that come and go, this very powerful trend is here to stay and will affect your business whether you like it or not.

Mobile Responsiveness and the UX (User Experience)

web_design

Having a website that responds to the size of the mobile device it is viewed on, such as tablets, smartphones and mobile phones is essential these days. If yours doesn’t ‘shrink to fit’, then you could be doing a lot more harm to your business than you think.

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