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.
Before broadband internet was mainstream in Australia, many people joked about the web being the world wide wait. Certainly high-speed internet access has made a considerable difference to everyone’s web browsing habits, but still some pages are slow. Why is this?
Big images mean large file sizes and therefore longer download times.
Animations are made up of lots of images, and typically take longer to load as a result. They’re also frustrating to users as they often have a loading screen where not much happens (except waiting).
Websites which have automated features like search are sometimes doing lots of things in the background while loading the page. This can lead to slowness.
Having under construction pages on a mostly finished website is a clear sign of a disorganised business owner. While it’s tempting to make an under construction page as a self reminder to later write the text for that page, it doesn’t send a positive message to your customers.
Web surfers get frustrated when they click on a menu item and visit an empty page. Some people think that an under construction page will entice users to come back later, but honestly, we’re all just too busy to remember which websites might have a page coming soon.
Remember your visitors don’t know what pages you’re planning to add, so best advice is to simply leave these pages out. Don’t have them linked from the menu, and don’t give any hint that a new page is coming.
Just launch it, then advise with a great email newsletter.
Promoting your website is no longer about banner ads and reciprocal links – the web has grown up. While there are many ways to spend your advertising dollars online, there are also plenty of ways to tap into the community of the internet and take advantage of the free opportunities to spread the word about your business. Here we take a peek at the free promotional avenues you can tap into but you might not have realised their significance.
This is the most important free promotional technique for all websites. Search engines are responsible for 85% of the average website’s visitation, which means if you’re not well placed in the engines you’re missing out on a lot of customers.
Here’s the quickest way to get your website ranked well:
1. Think of the keywords your customers will search for to find you.
For example, if you consider the tourism industry in Cairns an owner of an apartment complex in the city might consider the following keywords;
cairns city accommodation
cairns self-contained apartments
cairns family accommodation
2. Include these keywords in your website text
The search engines will not rank you for the keywords you want unless you include them in your text. Ensure you include them in a natural way using proper English. Here’s an example of a paragraph of text using the keywords above:
Cairns Oceanview Apartments offer self-contained accommodation in the heart of Cairns city especially well suited for families and couples travelling on a budget. Only walking distance from the popular attractions on the Esplanade, Muddy’s Playground and Cairns Central Shopping Centre our Cairns apartments are the perfect accommodation choice for your tropical holiday.
Search the web for directories which focus on particular industries, such as tourism, education or finance. You may even by lucky enough to find very specific directories for micro-industries such as managed apartments or English schools for example. Think about the many terms people use to describe your industry and search for these.
Most businesses belong to trade associations or professional bodies which feature member listings. Ask for a link, and ensure you’re listed appropriately.
Avoid directories or bodies which solicit your business for upgraded listings as they are generally not well enough trafficked to be worth the while. Very large directories often provide very little actual visitation to websites listed within, so spend money carefully. Instead look for niche directories which operate in a specific sub-industry or location.
The more websites you are listed on, the more credible your business appears to search engines and to customers. Search engines will repay you by listing you higher for your keywords the more websites that link to you.
Many of us write mini-articles everyday in the regular emails we write to our customers and our clients. Consider making these a more formal article and submitting them to other companies for inclusion in their newsletters and on their websites.
The usual policy for such an exchange is that other websites and newsletters can reproduce the article only in its entirety, without modification, and includes the author’s by-line and a link to their website at the bottom of the article.
For those of us who already write articles consider posting these articles onto your website as well, and include a note that allows others to republish your article without specifically seeking permission as long as the article is left entirely intact. This allows your articles to more quickly be distributed across the internet.
Consider newsworthy events that happen in your business and consider submitting them to print and web periodicals within your industry. Links from news and media sources are favourably considered by the search engines and are poised to boost your website even higher in the search rankings.
Press releases also have the added benefit of making your business appear dynamic, changing and expanding which encourages others to do business with you.
Blogs work incredibly well for establishing a regular visitor base to your website. Most business people offer regular industry comment to clients and associates, and a blog allows you to get this content out to a wider audience.
You might be surprised how simple this suggestion is – but I still need to search high and low for some business’ website address (URL) despite having their business card and brochure in my hand.
Don’t make potential customers look for you. Print your everywhere your phone number is: letterhead, business card, envelopes, flyers, brochures, emails, outdoor signage etc.
To aid readability, I recommend excluding the http:// part of your web address and just including the www.domain.com.au part instead.
Business owners send hideous numbers of emails each day – email is reported as the most common form of executive stress.
Help combat this stress by knowing that every email you send is promoting your business and encouraging people to visit your website.
One of the reasons many people are attracted to the internet is because of the vast number of forums, blogs and online communities of people with very specialised interests. Tap into the areas in which your business exists by seeking out your peers and competitors online and finding where they exchange information.
Respect the culture of these discussion groups by not openly spamming advertising throughout the posts, but instead offer valuable contributions and information to the people asking questions. Ensure you include a signature at the bottom of your posts which links back to your website.
Regular visitors to these forums will gradually trust and recommend your business provided you do not aggressively market your business or overtly plug your products.
Many businesses display testimonials on their websites and this is a great show you support local businesses. Ask that your testimonial include a link to your website, and ensure you include a company logo so it may be included with your testimonial.
The end result is another link to your website, and credible support of a business transaction.
This encourages repeat business so people can find your website again easily by just checking their list of favourites. It’s simple, quick and free.
There are lots of other free ways to promote your website, but a common theme throughout most of these ideas is involving yourself in the online business community.
Unless you become familiar with how the online customer thinks you may never tap into how to make money out of them, or establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Do you have any other ideas? Submit them as a comment below.