01. I didn’t have thousands of pounds to spend, so I did it all myself.
First off, a basic 5-page website could cost you as little as £350. Depending on the size of your product catalogue a reasonable web designer could even add a Paypal shopping cart to the site for £150 or so. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with taking a hands-on interest in your profile online, odds are you wouldn’t even consider designing your own advertisements and brochures, so why even attempt to design your own website? Two thirds of shoppers begin the shopping process online, so make that first impression count.
02. I just need a one-page site with our address and contact details on it.
Don’t underestimate the power and reach of the Internet, however ‘local’ you believe your service to be. 74% of Internet users perform local searches and 82% of those follow up a online visit with an offline trip to a shop, with a phone call or a purchase. Let’s face it; customers in the North East of Scotland invariably have some travelling to do when it comes to shopping and with the rising costs of fuel, users are turning more and more to the Internet. Why? Because it saves time and money. A simple Google map and some contact information just doesn’t swing it in this context. Get that message across. Every service you provide or product you sell has a story to tell. Converting the casual browser into a paying customer requires encouragement and a professional pitch. They need persuading. Get a decent a decent set of photographs put together at the very least as these can make a lasting impact. And remember: you are competing in a fierce marketplace. Make a first page listing in Google a priority. And I don’t just mean under your business name. Get it ranking in Google under a competitive commercial phrase (like ‘plumbers elgin’ or ‘aberdeen alarms’). This could significantly increase your customer reach.
03. We saved a few pounds using budget services like Firststart. No need for a designer.
There’s nothing wrong with seeking a cost-effective solution like Moonfruit, One.com, Firststart, but the few pounds that you save on building the store initially may be small change in the long run. If your store looks messy and unprofessional or users have difficulty navigating their way around your products your online sales are likely to suffer. Having a professional web designer smarten up your creative efforts could maximise your site’s potential. There’s often no need for dramatic redesigns. Smarten-ups could cost as little as £100.
Please bear in mind that ‘design’ is not all about graphics. A professional design will be based around clear commercial objectives, a purpose-led strategy and a sound understanding of user behaviour. These are not things you can learn overnight.
04. Our office manager knows a lot about local history, so we included it on our website.
If you are providing a local service then it’s good to preserve a local flavour, but writing a 10000-word history of Aberlour is unlikely to translate into sales. Keep things relevant and to the point. It’s so easy to be indulgent when you are scratching around for content. Define your core objectives and stick to them as faithfully as possible.
People rarely need to know why you started your business or what occupied the site of your shop in the early 1400s. If it’s not relevant, don’t mention it. It’s the online equivalent of a long and rambling monologue. Users similarly don’t need to know who you’re married to, how happy you are, how many kids you’ve got or what career you started out in. The success of any public address is knowing when to shut up.
05. Our site looked great on our computer but it looks lousy on my mobile.
Back in the day people used either Netscape or Internet Explorer to view websites. Mobile phones were used to talk to people, iPads were just a twinkle in the eye of Steve Jobs, and a tablet was still something you picked up at the chemist. Today it’s very different. The web designer now has to build a website that looks good on literally dozens of different browsers and devices. And this is really where you’re likely benefit from the input of a web professional. Cross-browser compatibility and multi-platform support are a major issue for both users and web developers alike. This is something you can’t blag as it requires a specific and complex skill set. If you find that your website looks too big on your laptop, too small on your desk-top or just plain dodgy on your mobile then a good web designer will be able to sort it out.
And be warned; Google is cracking down on websites that don’t support Mobile and Tablet devices. Responsive websites will get preferential treatment in the results. The search-engine is currently informing webmasters if their sites needs modifying with emails to their Webmaster accounts.