I confess, I’m a member of the mobile generation. I’m not one of the annoying types who answer their phone at restaurants or during meetings, but I do carry my mobile everywhere and thanks to Telstra’s NextG service, I’m continually connected to the internet.
There are a growing number of constantly connected consumers, who, just like me, browse the web from their mobile phone, on an exceptionally small screen. We are a frustrated lot too, because most websites are not built with small screens in mind.
Many people don’t believe their website will need to be adapted for mobiles, but if your business does financial transactions over the phone, or have a retail store, chances are a percentage of your customers are already trying to find you. Here’s a couple of real life examples of how someone with a mobile might be interacting with your business.
While enjoying an afternoon out of the house, a couple decide to go to a restaurant for dinner, but aren’t near a phone book. They look up the restaurant’s website on their phone to find the phone number.
While driving past an interesting property, someone might notice a For Sale sign out the front and look up a real estate’s website to find out the price of the property.
While out and about we might want to check the closing time of a particular store, or opening times of an attraction.
On the way for a weekend getaway, you forget how to get to an accomodation property. You whip out your trusty mobile phone and look up the website for directions, or just for an address to enter into your GPS unit.
Your web designer should easily be able to adapt your website to create an easy to read version for a mobile phone in 30 minutes – 2 hours, but having all the information a mobile user might require is important in the first place.
The next time you see a friend with one of those fandangled-looking mobiles that can surf the internet, ask if they can look up your website and have a go at browsing it, or finding specific information. You’ll be suprised how it looks!
Do you know that feeling you get when a sales assistant tries too hard to sell you something that you’re just not interested in. You were perfectly content browsing the store, but they’ve come over, bugged you, and now you just want to leave?
It’s remotely similar to those Persian rug TV commercials that The Chaser are always making fun of. There’s just a sleazy, icky feeling about them.
Well… the web have an equivalent. Actually, there’s a few things that fit into the web sleaze category, and are definitely things you should avoid on your website.
Left over from the late 90’s, any text that scrolls is too hard to read. People mistakenly think the movement is going to make people want to read it, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
In case you didn’t feel like waiting… Visitors will not wait to read any text that moves.
Little images which blink, twitch, shake or jiggle are likely animated gifs. Here’s a couple of examples:
Now how can you possibly concentrate on the rest of this blog post with all those little guys captivating your attention?
I won’t start playing sound automatically when you read this, I couldn’t possibly do that to you. But some websites do… and it’s a rude shock when you’ve got a client in the room with you and something starts bleating through your speakers.
So, don’t play sound on your website. Visitors don’t like it.
A couple of people in my office have recently been searching for a new home, and have both lamented at how the real estate agents haven’t quite embraced the web as well as they could, especially considering they’re such an ideal web-based business. The frustrations they’ve experienced are echoed worldwide in other industries too.
Here’s how we think real estate agents could stand out from their competitors:
The biggest thing driving us mad are the things wasting our time. Finding out the property doesn’t match the description written in the listing is big on the time wasting list, but also needing to call the agency to ask for an address is driving us insane.
The primary reason customers turn to the internet is to save time researching. Agents compound this problem with boring, short descriptions that provide very little information.
Agents need to carefully consider the suitability of properties to particular target demographics and consider the questions that demographic would ask when seeking a property.
We’ve been giggling about the abundance of awful photography. Some are photos are date stamped 2004, there’s a great kitchen shot with a big FLU INJECTION reminder tacked onto the fridge, and someone tried to rubber stamp something out of the back yard and botched it up. Many listings have no photos at all!
Photos will do more of the selling than any words you write, so ensure they’re clear, in focus and recent. Have a peek at my previous post on taking photos for your website.
There are so many sayings that need to be erased from the agent’s vocabulary. Here’s the shortlist of ones making us shudder:
Don’t these just get your goat? OK, enough with the cliches.
A colleague of mine introduced me to a unique eCommerce concept from an Australian website, Zazz.
Zazz sells just one product each day, which is a curious decision for any shop, and sells that product until it runs out. A new product is released the next day.
Perhaps the thing I love most about Zazz though is the owner’s quirky sense of humour going into great detail about each product listed and sometimes posting videos of the products in use.
I must confess, I haven’t bought anything yet, but I read the new product almost every day and have no doubt I’ll purchase something in the near future.
A great example of how a unique twist on a normal sales process can win untold loyalty (and perhaps riches too!)
Today’s product, the Puchi Puchi was sold out.
… and how long is a piece of string?
Websites are like houses, they’re all different! Most web development companies will custom build your website just for you – they’re the consultant, project manager, architect, designer, builder and marketeer too!
In Cairns, Australia, websites are known for being much cheaper than they are throughout the rest of Australia. Nobody really knows why, but Cairns businesses certainly get a great deal over their down south competitors.
Here’s a quick guideline to what you would be paying for in our area.
These are tradesmen or single-operator businesses. Mostly they need a simple website to show their scope of skills and their prices.
Service-based industries: $2500 – $3500
Lawyers, media/PR, accountants, web developers… anyone who provides a service fits in here. These industries are hoping their website will provide a strong credibility tool with a good portfolio facility and detail about services provided.
Ecommerce websites: $5000+
Any website which sells something requires credit card security, lots of great photography and good product spiels.
Most web design firms work on an hourly fee for services, and if they give you a fixed price there’s a good chance they’ve considered the time it will take them and multiplied it by the hourly fee.
A good web designer will charge between $80 – $130 per hour.
If the cost is any less than this, I would have a thorough look into their portfolio and check the developer isn’t cutting any corners in essential places.
When asking for a price, consider that most developers will have a minimum charge, some as low as 15 minutes. All jobs, even the smallest ones take at least 15 minutes. Here’s a list of the things a developer does when you request changes to your website:
So even without taking the actual time for the job into account, that’s 32 minutes work. Many of these costs are often absorbed though, parts like billing or receiving the job.
Unless you’re in a marketing program or have something special you won’t have any ongoing fees associated with your website design.
However, you will have some web hosting fees. You should allow for between $250 -$500 annually to cover your website hosting and domain name registrations.
Did you get that title?
The past two days I’ve noticed a number extraordinarily long domain names… they’re a bad idea because they’re very hard for your customers to remember.
Domain names should be as short, snappy and memorable.
If you have a long business name, consider dropping non-essential but common words from your domain like services, the or solutions.
You could also consider using initialism, although you do need to be lucky in registering those. For example if your business name is The Hurley Brothers Real Estate you might consider the following domain options:
But you wouldn’t consider TheHurleyBrothersRealEstate.com.au. Definitely too many words.
If your domain is generic and keyword-rich you will have a strong advantage over your competitors. But there’s a catch… the advantage is limited to the words in the domain.
This is best illustrated with an example.
Say you’re a conference organiser, and you operate in Sydney. You might consider a strong search term to be sydney conferences. The best domain you could pick would be sydneyconferences.com. This domain will almost certainly rank within the top 10 results within a very short time of the website being released.
Let’s say however that you also want to rank for sydney conference venues. The domain sydneyconferences.com won’t have the same stong advantage, since it lacks the word venues. But… sydneyconferencevenues.com would be a great winner.
Generic domain names work well for web-based businesses because they often don’t have a strong brand and therefore leverage the large volume of searchers who don’t already know the name of a business to look for in this industry. Established businesses are better off with a domain name which closely reflects their business name.
Although this is great for very popular search terms, you’ll find most generic domain names in high places are already taken. If they’re not… pounce on them!
This is a one trick pony though, as it doesn’t work to register lots of generic domain names and point them at your site. The search engines will only pick up ONE of these domain names, not all of them. Just keep the others as investments.
One of the major factors responsible for a cost blowout on website development is continually making changes and tweaks whilst the site is still under development.
Most web development companies will charge you hourly for changes made to your website, so it’s important from a cost perspective to get all the glitches, spelling mistakes and formatting ironed out before you hand it over to your web developer.
Lots of little changes add up, and can put a project significantly over budget. Even worse for businesses with marketing deadlines, it can also cause your website to be late.
When you’re approaching a web developer for a website, ensure you have the following ready:
Do your new customers ask the same kinds of things time and time again? Save your admin time by adding the answers to your website. You’d be surprised how many customers inspect your website prior to contacting you.
Here’s some logical things could consider adding to your site:
We hear lots of stories of how difficult it is to find staff in today’s tough labour market, but you’d be amazed how many positions are advertised in newspapers that don’t ever get entered on a company’s website.
There are lots of great reasons to have an employment page:
When I recently had a problem with my laptop, it was after close of business and I wanted to know the process for obtaining work done under warranty. Unfortunately I ended up needing to call the company the next day and waiting on hold for 30 minutes while the receptionist chased up the relevant information for me. It would have been far less frustrating for me if the company had simply chosen to publish this info online.
Information about refunds and privacy are required when you conduct transactions online, but most other businesses leave these important bits out.
If you have a policy, put it up online.
Despite price being the primary motivator for online shopping, lots of service-based businesses are still not transparent about their prices online preferring instead an enquiry page in place of publishing the actual rates.
Customers have a lot of choice online, and if they can’t find the price information they’re after from your website they’re more likely to buy from a competitor who is open and honest about their pricing online.
For the miscellaneous questions you are asked, include them on an FAQ page. For website which include an FAQ page, these are frequently the most popular pages after the prices page.
Include all the information you can’t fit onto other pages.
I keep a running list on my desktop of the questions I am asked most days… and I publish the answers in this blog!
WEB 2.0 is a trendy new IT term glossing the front page of business magazines. While I usually detest the use of jargon, web 2.0 is exciting, has intelligent business applications, and is a whole lot of fun.
Most of us have already had some involvement with web 2.0 websites. As far as definitions go, consider a web 2.0 website to be an interactive one. It encourages collaboration with its visitors, usually by allowing control of content. At a grassroots level, web 2.0 allows for everyday people to have more power on the internet by openly sharing their opinions and creative endeavours.
These websites have changed the shape of how people use the internet through mass interactivity. Many users swear by these tools and believe they’ve helped them organise their life. Many businesses also believe they waste a lot of time, but that’s
another article altogether.
The two biggest social networking websites are facebook and MySpace. Essentially, both websites allow you to create a profile and then control the information that exists on these profiles. LinkedIn is a similar concept, but concentrates more heavily on the business community.
If you’ve never looked at facebook before, now is a good time to start as it has begun allowing businesses and organisations to have profiles. This can give outstanding exposure to your events, new product releases or other interesting developments happening in your organisation. Best of all, it’s free.
Now that most people own a digital camera, we wonder what to do with all those pictures we’re taking! Picasa and Flickr try to address this problem.
Both websites allow you to manage and upload your digital photos and display them publicly or privately for others to view. There are great benefits here for sharing with family and close friends but for some selected businesses, there are marketing opportunities as well.
These photo tools are great for travellers researching holidays and you can bet there are people searching for ‘Cairns’, ‘Great Barrier Reef’ and ‘Port Douglas’ to see other people’s holiday snaps.
If you have a business that can be showcased through great photography, consider uploading some of your best photos to further promote your products through this avenue.
It seems even the smallest business has a blog these days. Essentially, a blog allows a business to add newsworthy snippets of information in a quick and easy to read format on a website.
For your customers, blogs provide a fantastic feature called a comment. This allows anyone to leave a message against your articles, ask questions or share experiences.
Many of these web 2.0 websites are large global ventures but there are plenty of small business applications too. The whole concept of web 2.0 surrounds giving your customers and website visitors more power through interactions. But to come up with great ideas on how your customers can interact with your products and services, you really need to stop being frightened of the internet and spend some time learning what other people are doing with it.
Think Geek (thinkgeek.com)
Allows customers to add photos of themselves using the products they have listed for sale. Anyone who submits an action shot enjoys 10 per cent off their next purchase. Customers feel chuffed they got a photo on a website and of course, the company benefits from future sales generated through the discount.
Sydney Morning Herald (smh.com.au)
Encourages readers to leave comments on news articles to gauge public opinion on current affairs.
Website visitors post messages against recipes which provides fantastic feedback to future cooks on how to alter the recipe for new delicious versions. Its discussion forum also allows keen cooks to share ideas and is a wealth of information on family recipes and tips.
The benefits of allowing your visitors to interact with your product online are immense. Brand loyalty, customer satisfaction and viral marketing are within easy reach using web 2.0 concepts.