When all is said and done, the quality of the design is like a first impression at a job interview – you only have one go before his or her mind is made up. To acquire a good design, I firmly believe you need someone who has a unique perspective on User Interaction and User Experience, but you also need someone who has a passion for the web, because that person will be the equivalent of an encyclopedia, with in-depth knowledge and experience in their area. Cheap and Cheerful design will only get you so far, cheerful, good looking and well built are much more appealing and are less of a head ache for the end user – your customer base. Good design, I believe is based on certain principles. Each website should be like a solid house, it is built on a great set of foundations, i.e. a good hosting package and the domain name itself. Then you use the building blocks by creating a HTML5 / CSS 3 design that ensures it is mobile friendly, that in-turn makes it accessible to all mobile users regardless of the device they use. So lets get into some details without the jargon.
In 2018, I think it is fair to assume anything a web designer/developer builds for you, should be mobile friendly; otherwise you are wasting valuable money. There are 1.5 billion websites on the Internet, out of that approx. ten show on the first page of a Google search and that is no mean feat, and we will cover that in Search Engine Optimization later. Now imagine out of that 1.5 billion, you are a start up company in Ireland – which would you prefer to be – mobile friendly, or not mobile friendly? Over the past 10 years of building websites, I still to this day meet clients who say ‘cheap and easy will do’, or ‘I don’t need mobile friendly’ my inner Tasmanian Devil always lights up when this happens and I sit my client down and explain to them that cheap and easy is fine in theory, but it won’t make them show up on the internet. So lets cover what’s involved.
Search Engine Optimization
What is it? Well, it is otherwise known as SEO and I believe it can be broken down into bite-sized chunks and easily explained.
Now I know it is the traditional old school method of making the Internet work, but it still works once you understand how Google bots and crawlers operate. Each search engine operates like a spiders walking around the web. When you launch a web browser, imagine that spiders are going for a walk, for them to create their web they type ‘keywords’ into a search engine - each step is a keyword! When you hit return to launch the search, the spider has stepped on the search or return key, once they have pressed it, up come your results, the results shown are based on the keywords your designer has entered on your website – this is called meta data. Meta data is a list of keywords separated by commas and there is NO LIMIT to the amount of keywords you can have in a system. Each keyword brings you one step closer to showing up on page one, but takes time, as it requires spiders to find you! SEO on it’s own is not the key to making your individual website appear, proper marketing, traditional and digital are the key.
What? Well they are key to your targeting strategy as they provide metrics (statistics)! Why? Well analytics give you a few things, and they are not confined to your website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter also provide them. Having access to these will provide you with demographics, locations, times, and most of all; they give you solid proof of what you are doing! They are the best metrics you will find, and if understood properly, they will develop your marketing and targeting strategy for you! I do recommend getting someone to work up a strategy for you, as looking at them yourself without background knowledge would be the equivalent of driving the car without turning on the engine. SEARCH ENGINE REGISTRATION Some people will tell you it is a waste of time, trust me, it is the best decision you could contemplate making. Registering your website and adding a Meta Tag for it, ensures every time those spiders come walking across your website, your search engine knows you exist. It also ensures when engines like Google send out their spiders on Friday night, they know your website is alive and well!
Everyone uses it widely these days, and in more than one-way. Having a live feed on your website with daily news or information, should drive people to your website. In theory that sounds good, but Google analytics will prove to you where your website is getting ‘referrals’ from. Today you might have ten clicks that say ‘organic’, they are people that came across you without clicking on social media or ads, 100 might be from a Facebook feed, 100 could be your Instagram account, you catch the idea.
Hosting and domain name(s)
I know the world has a hundred options and they all sound great, but for me, I like to support Irish and to have someone on hand when something crashes or something puzzling shows up. I’ve tried the offshore options, some say they offer hosting with the domain name and then charge you an extortionate fee for the pleasure of doing business. Pick a good Irish Company like Blacknight who will give you real-time support! Not submit a ticket today and get an answer in 72 hours. Over the last ten years, I have had this question a thousand times – does the domain name matter, in short NO! WHY? I hear you scream? Think of a domain name as the address on the last letter that came through your post box, for the sender to post you that letter, they had to know you were alive and had an address, that address – much like a post code is unique, but if marketed properly, the world and it’s father knows when they Google you, you will show up. You are that guest that shows up to every function and gate crashes with the other top ten results on a Google search. The domain name doesn’t matter, how it is marketed does! One piece of advice I would give anyone buying a domain name and hosting with the company you are having build your website – make sure it is in YOUR NAME not theirs!
One of the most important parts of a website in my opinion! Imagine going to a black tie event with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt! Not on! Graphics are part of that external facade that provides the first impression to your users! For the user to know they want to go with you, you have to draw them in! To do that, you have to appeal to their inner self. Lets say you are buying a skateboard for your child, but you as a child played with them too. You went off to Google, entered ‘skateboards’ and hit return! On the first result, you see in the Meta Description that they offer a parent and child deal! Your inner child lights up with excitement and off you go buying what you perceive to be the deal of the century! Marketing and the graphics you are met with have drawn you to that point of sale. If the graphic showed a large and small skateboard with nothing more than two planks of timber and eight wheels – plain and simple, you would have probably let it behind you, but the skateboards had lovely paint jobs, graphics and customization options, different wheels depending on your preference and even gave the option of adding names to the boards – that is the lure of marketing and great graphics! Appearance is everything! AFTER SALES SUPPORT For years this has been a bone of contention with me. I truly believe if you love what you do, than giving support with the service you provide should be a given. If you aren’t getting the support you need, than change provider!