We take over lots of websites owned by small businesess that need a reliable web developer to manage their website, and unfortunately the process if often hampered by the lack of essential details held by the business owner. Here’s a list of things you should keep tucked away in a file somewhere just in case something bad happens to you.
Geeky warning: Some of the concepts here are technical – if you have any questions just post a comment!
This is sometimes a single password, or a username and password depending on who your domain was registered through.
These details would have been given to whomever registered your domain name for you.
If something happens to your web host and you need to quickly move your website to a new one, you will need this to make the switch.
The File Transfer Protocol allows your web developer to transfer your website from their development platform up to your web host. Your web host will have provided these when you first signed up for a hosting account.
If you’re unhappy with your web developer, you’ll need to give your new developer the FTP details so they can backup the website, and continue to make changes.
Hosting Account Access
Most web hosts have an interface which allows you to make changes to basic account details like setup new email addresses, create a new database and check your statistics.
To move to a new web host, it will be easier if you are able to access your hosting account so your new host can set up the same email accounts and move over your account fully.
It is a good idea to have a list of email accounts for all your domain names, and the current password. Also include on the list if you have any forwarders or aliases.
If your computer crashes and you are unable to access your email, with your username and password you will still be able to access your email using a webmail interface until your computer is repaired.
Just because you have products on your website doesn’t mean they’re going to sell. Not even if they’re good products, or unique, or interesting. It takes a great website to convince a visitor to part with their money, much more than it takes for a bricks-and-mortar store. There’s a lot to consider in getting the online shop right.
This article was published in the August/September edition of In Touch In Business Magazine.
Anonymity is a blessing for web shoppers, and a curse for web merchants. In the absence of a friendly sales assistant and a good shop fitout, your website needs to display the all signs of a fully-functional web business and make your potential customers comfortable to do business with you.
Start with the ways customers can get in touch if something goes wrong. So clear display of phone numbers, street address and email address.
Next, consider payment security. If taking credit cards customers will want to know their details are secure. This means using a secure payment gateway issued through a bank, or third party like eWay. At the very least own a secure certificate. This step isn’t to be taken lightly as credit card fraud is a great fear of online shoppers.
Credit card and bank logos feel trustworthy. Display the logos of the cards accepted in the footer of the website near the contact details.
Hordes of small business owners went into business because they were experts, specialists and had great track records of doing what they do best. Tell the story on your website through a company history or professional profile page.
The budding digital photography industry has spawned a society of amateur photographers, but professional photography is still the way to go for anyone serious about making money online.
Professional photography ensures products are displayed in their most attractive and most sellable light. For emotional purchases, such as fashion accessories, have a number of different angles of the product shot. This is especially important with multi-purpose products such as handbags.
Keep the photos simple because when they’re displayed on a website they’re quite small, and complex styling or backgrounds will lose the focus of the product.
Don’t forget to include photos of the business owners and team looking smart in their uniforms outside the office. Photos of the management give visitors the people contact they miss from a face-to-face transaction. It also raises your credibility through recognition.
For an example of a shop with great photography, see the Cairns-based jewellery shop for little girls, Silver Bells & Cockle Shells.
Online shoppers are curious, inquisitive and get annoyed by having to search for extra information. Think carefully about the questions customers ask about each product and answer all of them. Don’t be scared of having too much product text because interested customers will read it thoroughly, and the search engines love it!
Internet shoppers don’t like to be sold to, so by all means mention the benefits of your products, but don’t forget the facts. Consider writing light-hearted and informal product descriptions; the online shopping demographic tends to be younger, so we can afford to be a little less serious.
Prices need to be clear and easy to read. Remember that it’s likely people from overseas will be visiting your site, so ensure the currency is understood, and include a currency converter if you’re trying to appeal to the global market.
For a great example of good product text is Zazz who won NetGuide Online Shopping Site of the Year for 2007.
It’s frustrating to get to the end of an online shopping experience only to find out the postage charges are astronomical, or even worse, the company doesn’t ship to Australia.
Make your delivery prices easy to find, and detail various shipping options with realistic timeframes for delivery.
For everyday products it is often the delivery charges that prevents websites from competing on a level playing field with shopping centres. Consider offering free postage for deliveries over a certain spending level, or drop the postage charges altogether and build them into your pricing model instead.
Shops like StrawberryNET have created a huge base of loyal customers by offering free shipping worldwide.
Use strong, affirmative language to ask your customers for the sale. Don’t just do it at the bottom of a page either, ask your customers to buy at regular intervals throughout your copy.
If you forget this part, your customers will wonder what to do next. Buying from your website must be easy and intuitive with limited thought required!
I love shopping online. I love not being harassed by badly trained sales staff. Bliss is having an easy-going retail therapy experience in the privacy of my pyjamas. By concentrating on what the online customer wants in a shopping experience will inevitably bring legions of loyal and happy shoppers to your website.
September in Cairns bring back our first taste of the humid summer to come, and this September has certainly given us a reminder of the workout our air-conditioners will be having in the months to come.
It also brings spring… flowers, mating birds and cleaning. Your website needs a spring clean. So what’s on the spring cleaning list:
1. Check out 5 competitors’ websites.
They don’t need to be local, just businesses doing the same things as you. Have a good look at the information they give to their customers, and what features your website could incorporate.
2. Update your content.
Read every word of your website, and check it is still relevent. It might surprise you what has changed in your business since you last changed your website text!
3. Start a new website section.
Business blogs are popular at the moment because just about every business dreams of starting a newsletter to connect with their customers. But this isn’t the only section you might add… perhaps take the temperature of your customers and listen to what they’ve been asking of you. Usually the parts you need to add are the enquiries you recieve from customers the most frequently.
4. Change your look.
Websites change their design too infrequently. To keep your customers on their toes you should do a little change to your image every year, and a big change every second year.
5. Sell Something.
Start generating a revenue stream through your website if you’re not already. Service-based business could try selling their expertise through an e-book or online adjuct to an offline service. Retailers should have more than just their store location and opening hours – get some product online, even if it’s only a small sample of what’s in your store.
The hot news on the web this week has been Google releasing its own browser, Google Chrome. Most reviews praise the new browser, and my experiences with it so far have been strongly positive. But… what does this mean for online business?
Well first thing is that you should download the browser and take a good look at how your website runs. Go to every page of your site, fill out your contact forms, make a booking or fulfil an order. The key here is to test every part of your functionality.
You may find it interesting that Google Chrome uses the same rendering engine as Safari for Macintosh, so how you see your website in Chrome will be the same as how it will look for Mac users with Safari.
Web developers job just got a little trickier with the introduction of Chrome, as there’s now another browser to add to the mix of our testing regime. If you’d like to know how your website looks in a whole bunch of browsers, have a look at Browser Cam.
When you tell someone a domain name over the phone, it seems instinct kicks in and you will inevitably be asked if that is all one word.
It’s a funny question because domain names cannot have any spaces, so they must all be all one word.
To help stop the spread of this question, I encourage you when asked to say “All domain names are all one word.“