Tuesday 22 March 2011

5 questions to answer before speaking to a web designer

If you do not currently have a website, you may not know where or how to start. This series is intended to help you ask the right questions of your web designer and to give you a bit of a head start for when the designer starts asking you questions.

Part 1 will cover things for you to think about.

1. Why do you want a website?

Have you been told you should have a website or do you have a genuine need for one?

If you’re doing it because you’ve been told you need one, the chances are you won’t buy into it, and a website does require some investment from you. Not just in terms of cash, but time and thought too.

Aside from that, what specifically do you want your website to do for you? Some examples are to:

· increase enquiries online and offline

· sell your product online direct to the retail or wholesale sectors

· provide company information to save costs printing brochures & leaflets

· manage customer support and improve customer communications

· launch a new product, service or brand

· provide information to clients or potential clients

Knowing what your website needs to achieve makes a big difference to how the website is designed and built.

2. Who is your audience and what do they want?

This could be one of the most difficult questions, but can give you the most benefit. Think about who the website is targeting and put yourself in their shoes. Remember that your primary aim and your visitors’ aims could be very different. If you are trying to sell a product, they may just be looking for information – the website is there to convince them to buy.

In the example above, if you want to sell your products and a visitor is likely to be looking for information it makes sense to make sure you have enough information available so that the potential customer feels satisfied, and may purchase online or has the information they need to purchase offline.

3. What content will the site include and how much?

Ideally, you should think about this from 2 points. The launch - how much content do you want to start with? Then a few weeks, months or years down the line - how much could your website grow? Again, this will vary depending on the answer to point 1. A company brochure site is likely to stay fairly static, whereas an e-commerce site or information site could start small and expand rapidly.

Think about the type of content too. Will there be video? PDF documents to download? Or will it be mainly text?

4. What functionality do you need from your site?

Do you want to be able to update the website yourself? Which content will you need to update?

Do you wan visitors to fill in forms online?

Will you have online payments? Or full e-commerce functionality?

The possibilities are endless, and you do not need necessarily need to have a complete features list written down, but thinking about the kind of thing you want your website to do will help your designed lead you in the right direction.

5. How do you want the website to look?

Design is subjective and open to countless possibilities, so while some designers love to be given a complete carte blanche when it comes to web design, it is often better to have some ideas of what you want.

As an example, we designed a website for a client. It was very dark, with greys and blacks, that made their orange logo & branding really stand out. The client hated it because they wanted a white, very light design – which unfortunately they hadn’t mentioned!

More often than not it can be what you don’t like that can be more helpful than what you do. Do if there’s a particular colour or type of image you don’t like, or you don’t like your menu on the left hand side of the screen, you don’t like a very minimal website – tell your designer!

Now you’ve hopefully thought about what you want from your website and have some notes to talk to your web designer about. In part two we’ll look at questions to ask your web designer.

Friday 11 March 2011

How to...link to your Facebook page

One of the most popular posts on this blog is 'How to add a Find us on Facebook button'. As it was written back in November 2008 it is now out of date. We have had a number of requests to update it, so here you go.

The Find us on Facebook button

Essentially the button was a marketing tool provided by Facebook to enable you to link to your page and you needed to know how to add an image & a link to your website for it to work. This is still the case and, as far as I am aware, you can still use the button if this is your preferred method of linking.

Facebook Icons

Another popular choice, if you use a number of social networking sites, is to line up a few icons and add a different link to each of them. There are plenty of people offering free icons for download for every site you can think of! A search for 'free social networking icons' will give you plenty of options. Or you can design your own to match in with the theme of your website.

The icons above were found on the following sites:
1, 4 & 5: http://blueblots.com
2: http://tydlinka.deviantart.com

There's also a wide variety of Facebook icons on www.facebookicons.net.

Facebook Badges & Boxes

Facebook has made a few pages to enable you to link from your website to your page. We have covered adding a Facebook 'Like' box in a previous post, and another option you have is to add a badge.

If you follow the tutorial above, get to step 3 and instead of 'Add a Like box to your website' click 'Get a Badge'.

on the left hand side you have a number of options to choose from - Profile badges, Like badges, Photo badges and Page badges. Click on Page badges (if you aren't already on the right page).

To see how you can change the badge, click on the 'Edit this badge' to the right hand side to see the options available. Then just copy the code and add it to your website (or send it to your web developer).

This is just a very quick overview of the options available to you with the new Facebook pages, so if you'd like any more details or have anything else to suggest please comment and let us know.