Friday 31 October 2008

How to....create a PDF

Every Friday I intend to post a little 'How To' with some useful tip that will make life a little bit eaier or will add to your professional image. Today - how to create a PDF document.

Why create a PDF?
I send a lot more emails than letters, and many of these emails contain important information, including quotes, order forms, specifications and proposals. I save them all as a PDF for the following reasons:
  1. Most people can open a PDF document, so I don't need to worry about what software version the recipient is using, or whether they have the right software at all.
  2. It looks professional and will look the same with the recipient as it did when i saved it.
  3. PDFs are more secure than a Word document for example, in that they cannot be changed without the relevant software.

How to create a PDF?
I have found a great little tool that allows you to create a PDF from any document by using the 'Print' option in any application.

Step 1 - Installing Cute PDF
Go to and select the 'Free Download' option on the left hand side. In the 'File Download' box that pops up, click 'Run' and follow the instructions on-screen. Cute PDF will have installed itself as a printer on your computer.

Step 2 - Creating PDF Documents
When you need to create a PDF, for example, from a Microsoft Word document, open the document and select 'Print' in the File menu as you would if you were printing the document to send in the post.

In the Print options box, under 'Name' have a look in the drop down menu for 'CutePDF Writer' and click print.

It will then ask you where you want to save the document, simply enter a file name and choose where you want to save the document and voila! A PDF document for you to send wherever you choose.

Thursday 30 October 2008

I am a user, too!

I think many people forget that they use the Internet. That they are someone else's customers, and can feel quite detached from the site they are producing. So every now and then I take a step back and think 'So, how do I use the Internet?'

When I am booking train tickets, what information do I look for? What puts me off or stops me from booking a ticket? If I am looking for a book to read, where do I do my research? If I am looking for a new TV or information about updating my driver's licence (no, I still haven't updated it with my married name) where do I start? Then turn it all on it's head and ask the same question about your customers.

What don't you want?
I know everyone is different, but many people have similarities too, and starting off with what you know you like is better than trying to guess what others want. If pages and pages of text puts you off, chances are a lot of other people will turn away. If you can't stand flashing images and pop-ups, you're probably not alone. So take a stroll around the internet and see what you don't like - it's a lot easier to spot than the stuff you do like.

What do you want?
Having browsed the World Wide Web you'll probably notice a few websites that are 'ok' or that you tend to return to. They may not be the most impressive looking websites with a real 'WOW!' factor, they may not have a huge amount of functionality - but they do something right. Try to put your finger on what that something is. Is it that you can buy in just one click? Is it because the text is of a good size and is easy to read? Are the images nice? Does the navigation work just as you'd expect it? Make a note of your findings and apply them to your site. How do you think your customers feel when they use your website?

Take a break...
This is a lot to take in and will take some time, you'll probably return to your list a few times over the coming weeks as you get to a new website. The chances are you'll have a longer list of BAD than GOOD as there is a general tendency to moan rather than praise (that's what I have found, at least!) but stick with it and just keep your eyes peeled for the good stuff every now and then.

Monday 27 October 2008

Baby Steps

In web terms, the Picseli website is a baby. It is not yet registered in Google so no-one can find it...unless they have the web address of course. It has very little content, as we are still working on the design. And it isn’t due to launch until 1st November 2008. Yet, here I am writing about its success.

A successful Website

I am confident that by spending some time writing content and understanding the search engines and their users that I can have a successful website – after all that’s what all the other SEO companies are doing, isn’t it?

Understand your aim

The first thing to do is to consider exactly what it is that you want your website to do. Who you want to target. What you want to say. For example, Picseli is intended to attract people who need a website, want to improve their site or need some advice on how to do better. It needs to give visitors information on our products and services and a way to get in touch. I want to use the website as a case study to show you that the work we do does make a difference and to give you a more personal feel about who we are.

Take your time

I have worked on a number of websites and rarely do the website owners consider what it’s like from the users point of view. Yes, you need to make sure you get your message across, but is it the one users are searching for? At the moment the majority of people don’t want to spend money on a flashy brand new website, but want to find out how to make more of the money they have spent on it. This is what we will be focusing our website on in the coming months. It can take time to get the message right, but it is worth thinking about it and taking a step back to have a look at your site every now and then to check the meaning is right.

Time to get on?

If you want to discuss the article above and want some help to get your message right please give us a ring now on 08702 402777 or email to arrange for a website health check.

Thursday 23 October 2008

Beat the Credit Crunch

This is a difficult time for everyone (and probably not an ideal time to be starting a new web company) but it has happened before and people have survived. BSS did, for example. It was hard, and redundancies were made, but BSS is still going strong and believes they will get through this one too. To do this they have put a lot of time and effort into marketing as they strongly believe they can help others get through it!

Online marketing is the way forward
One of the cheapest ways of marketing is online, via your own website. Obviously BSS is lucky, having it’s own web department to handle it, but there are steps you can take to help you along.

How do you compare?
The Internet is the first place many people look for a new product or service as they can easily compare a lot of companies and products before making their decision. So what you need to ask yourself is – does your website offer people enough information to properly compare you and your competitors? If not, then the chances are they are using your competitors.

Improve your site
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing with you some of the things BSS has done (and Picseli will be doing) to improve our websites and promote ourselves.

Proof is in the search engines
Picseli is a brand new website, the first content was uploaded on 21st October 2008. So this is a clean slate and it is my job to make sure the website is found in search engines and I will share some of my tips with you. This website will be my proof to you that the work we do does make a difference.

Need a hand?
However, if you are keen to get your website up to scratch please give us a ring now on 08702 402777 or email to arrange for a website health check to find out what your website could be doing better!