5 Essential Features in a Great Website

5 Essential Features in a Great Website

The website process can be a daunting one but we have been creating custom websites for a number of years now and have gained an in-depth understanding of what makes a website successful. I’d like to share 5 essential website features which will contribute to your website’s success.

1. Responsive website pages

Your site must be able to adapt to whichever device your potential customer is using. This shows your customer you are thinking of them and their user experience. Importantly, Google now prioritises these sites in searches so if you want to stay competitive, you need a responsive website.

 

2. Page quality

How a page is structured, how the text reads and how it speaks to potential customers is the essence of a great website. Web copy is structured very different to print. The reader only scans a page and has a shorter attention span so we take this into account when styling up the text.

 

3. A picture is worth a thousand words

You can’t underestimate the importance of your main image on your home page, or any other page for that matter. Images evoke feelings, emotions and help capture your audience.

 

4. A strong and visible call to action

We want to generate leads for your business so a strong call to action is essential. We don’t want customers to miss it so it has to be at the top or near to the top as possible. One call to action which is very successful is “Book your free consultation” – it’s hard to resist.

 

5. Ensuring easy navigation

This is essential in helping your potential customers find their way through your website. We suggest  limiting your top-level navigation menu to no more than seven clearly labeled tabs with related pages organised under them. You should also have a clear way to get back to the home page no matter where your readers land such as a clickable logo at the top.

These five very important features are foremost in our minds in every project and help us create successful websites for each customer.

The Best Software for Running a Small Business

The Best Software for Running a Small Business

Choosing the best software for running a small business can be challenging. It’s very important to select the right tools to serve your business needs but because there are so many choices, it can be overwhelming. Sometimes you can select the wrong tools or go overboard and end up using too many tools.

You could also try the software out and only after using it, decide that it’s not serving your business needs. This can be a big time waster because you’ll have to start from scratch with another tool or software application. It also might involve transferring data from one tool to another which takes you away from the things you really need to be doing to grow your business.

As part of our effort to help people grow their businesses and reach more customers, we would like to share with you some of the best software for running a small business. These tools have helped become more efficient, grow our business and reach more customers!

Below we share our favourite efficient and affordable tools to help you run your new freelance or startup business which includes a website content management system, SEO tool, newsletter and mailing list tool, accounting software, CRM database, and open office software.

1. Website Platform and Content Management System

If you’re in need of a website or platform for publishing content than WordPress is the easiest to use tool out there. It powers one in every six web pages! WordPress is incredibly flexible and scalable. It’s inexpensive compared to many website platforms as you don’t have to pay expensive monthly fees.

You can use a designer to help you design your website or blog on WordPress. You can also get a free or premium theme and design it yourself but it can be very time consuming and not everyone is a designer! It’s important that your website is mobile-friendly, looks professional and is easy for your potential customers to navigate.

Many small businesses decide not to invest in a professional designer for their website resulting in a poorly designed, hard to navigate website. Your website today will need to look great on both tablet and portrait views on smartphone and tablet, as well as on laptops and desktop computers.

Get in touch with us to learn more about WordPress and to see how we can help you with a mobile-friendly website for your start-up business or helping you upgrade your existing website.

2. Search Engine Optimisation Made Easy with the Yoast SEO Plugin

The Yoast SEO plugin can be installed on WordPress and is used to optimise your website pages and improve your search engine ranking. It has an easy to use form and guide that you fill out for each of your websites pages and blog posts to make sure they meet requirements of search engine algorithms used by Google & Bing.

3. Marketing Automation Platform with Newsletter and Mailing List Tool

We use MailChimp which integrates with our mailing list opt-in tool on our website. Anyone who signs up for our mailing list on our website is added to our MailChimp database automatically. We then use our custom designed newsletter templates in MailChimp to send out emails and monthly newsletters to all of our mailing list contacts. It’s free to use for up to 2,000 contacts and 12,000 sends.

We can design a custom MailChimp template and help you set up a mailing list opt-in on your website. Just get in touch and find out how we can help you stay in touch with your customers.

4. QuickBooks Accounting Software for Self Employed Freelancers or Small Business Owners

One of the best investments in your new startup business will be accounting software to help you easily manage the financial end of your new business. This is a task that many new freelancers and startups find to be the most difficult so it’s important that you get a software that makes it easy. One of the best online accounting software available is QuickBooks accounting solution. With QuickBooks, you can easily create and send invoices from anywhere, take snapshots of receipts, connect directly to your bank account, estimate tax, complete HMRC self-assessment, sort business and personal transaction and track mileage transactions. Their basic package for freelancers starts at $6.00 per month with promotions often offering discounts. They also offer a more advanced package for small businesses.

You might decide you want to go with a free financial or invoicing tool because they are available, but keep in mind that this solution might not grow with your business and might not offer all of the features of a paid version like QuickBooks. They also might not be able to provide the HMRC self-assessments or other tax features.

5. Customer Relationship Management Database Solution

A great free option for small business owners and freelancers and one we also use is Capsule CRM. It’s great because it can scale with your business. It starts out with two users with 250 contacts for free and you can upgrade to the professional version for $8.00 per month per user and up to 50,000 contacts.

6. Open Office Software for Creation & Collaboration on Documents, Spreadsheets & Presentations

If you want to avoid the cost of Microsoft Office for Windows PCs or iWork on Macs, you can use open software from Google like Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. For more robust features similar to MS Office or iWork you could also use the Open Source LibreOffice software for creating documents, spreadsheets or presentations.

The great thing about these cloud-based office solutions is that you can easily collaborate simultaneously with clients or other members of your business. It makes it much easier than using tracked changes and sending documents back and forth over email.

 

Do you have a favourite app, tool or software that has helped you with freelance work or running a small business? 

Please comment below and let us know what apps, tools or software have helped you the most!

How Adding an SSL Certificate Benefits Your Business

How Adding an SSL Certificate Benefits Your Business

Have you added an SSL certificate to your website yet? Adding an SSL Certificate benefits your business in many ways. It can improve your website’s security and protect your customer’s data. In addition, it can improve your Google search ranking and also ensure people can still visit your website.  Below we go into more detail on the benefits of adding an SSL Certificate to your website.

SSL Certificate Benefits

1. Improve Your Website Security

image for ssl certificate benefits blog showing https in url to show ssl on websiteAn SSL certificate adds a layer of protection to your website in order to protect it from hacking. It encrypts and secures data on your site. Think of it as sealing a letter in an envelope prior to posting it. When you add an SSL, your website address will start with HTTPS instead of HTTP. This added ‘s’ gives visitors to your website more protection against hackers.

2. Improve Your Google Search Ranking

You can also improve your Google search ranking by adding an SSL certificate to your website. Google is now prioritising websites that have SSL certificates in their search results so, adding one can give your ranking a boost. SSL certificates give websites more security and protection, therefore, your site is considered safer for visitors, so Google is prioritising them.

3. Prevent Your Site Being Marked Unsafe by Google

Google has recently announced they will be flagging websites without SSL certificates in their Chrome web browser. If your potential website visitor is using Chrome and visits your website, they might get a message that your website is not safe. This will mostly affect websites with contact forms where visitors are required to enter data. They could decide to flag other websites without contact forms in the future.  The new General Data Protection Regulation being implemented in the UK in June 2018 might affect their policies in this area.

Setting up an SSL Certificate

We can help you set up an SSL certificate on your website if you’d like to improve the security on your website. We can arrange the purchase of your SSL certificate through your hosting provider and get it all set up for you! Get in touch to see how we can help!

Is Your Social Media Profile Bad for Your Business?

Is Your Social Media Profile Bad for Your Business?

You know how important it is to have a professional image to represent your business. One of the first steps of a new business is usually having a professional logo and website designed, along with business cards and other materials. However, many fall short when it comes to their social media image, which could be bad for business.

Professional Profile Images and Banners on Your Social Media Pages

It’s quite common to see social media pages of businesses with logos and profile images that are blurry with poor resolution, that aren’t sized properly, or banners that don’t fit or look like you did them yourself, without a professional graphic designer. Some amateur graphic designers can get away with it, but it’s always a good idea to get a professional’s honest opinion on your homemade creations. Your social media account is another online representation of your business so it’s very important that it also looks professional.

It can be very time consuming creating profile pictures and banners, especially if you’re not a graphic designer, and if you have multiple social media accounts, as different sites use different image sizes.

Should You Use a Professional Logo or Head-shot?

Use your logo or a professional headshot for your profile image, depending on the type of business. A sole trader might go with a headshot, but if you have more than one person in your business, a logo might be more appropriate. You can use your logo in your custom styled, branded banner image.

In most cases, you can use the same profile images and banner images across your different social media accounts, but they all need to be sized appropriately which should also be done by a professional designer.

When your social media accounts don’t look professional, neither does your business so it is very important to use properly formatted images and banners across all your social media accounts.

Moo Web Design can create social media profile pictures and banners for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn Personal & Business Pages, and any other account where you need custom images. Just contact us for a free consultation on how we can help!

 

How to Choose the Best Domain Name

How to Choose the Best Domain Name

Choosing the Best Domain Name

One of the most difficult things about starting a new business is deciding on a name for your business, but nowadays this task can be even more difficult. If you want to stay competitive, you’ll also need a website, so you’ll also have to decide on your domain name or website address. Here are some tips on how to choose the best domain name for your business:

  1. Use Consistent Branding.
    You should try to use the same domain name as your business name or something close. These days that can be very challenging, as many domain names have already been purchased.
  2. Choosing the Best Domain Extension.
    You’ll also need to decide on a domain extension. The most popular for business is .com. If you’re a non-profit, you’ll want a .org extension. Another common choice is .net, but it’s not as common and it could make it harder for people to find you.  If you’re only doing business in a country outside of the U.S., you can better target your customers by using your country’s extension like .co.uk for the UK. Many people will buy both the .com extension as well as the extension within their country and use both. In general, the .com extension will improve your ranking as Google gives .com websites preferential treatment and overall it looks more professional.
  3. Keep it Short.
    If your business name is long or particularly complicated, you might want to consider a shortened version for your domain address. The longer your domain address, the harder it will be for people to be able to find you and also type it into a url. If people have to look to hard for you, they might just go with one of your competitors instead.
  4. No Punctuation or Numbers.
    Punctuation, especially hyphens, confuse people and chances are they won’t be able to find your business. If your potential customers don’t include the hyphen or other punctuation when typing in your domain address, they might not be able to pull up your website. Also when people hear a number, they don’t know if it’s the numeric digit or it’s spelled out, which can be confusing.
  5. Make it easy to type.
    No slang or abbreviated words. You want it to be easy for your customers to type in your address and find you easily.
  6. Use keywords.
    To improve your SEO, use keywords that describe your business or the services you provide. For instance, if you’re a website design company, you might use moowebdesign.com. You can also use your location in your domain address if you only target a specific area, like edinburghwebsitedesign.com. Using keywords can really help your ranking in Google search results, as well as on Google Maps & Business.
  7. Check copyrights and trademarks.
    Make sure you do your research and check the name isn’t trademarked, certified or registered. You also want to make sure a similarly named company doesn’t exists in another country in case it might interfere with your customer base.

I hope these tips on how to choose the best domain name for your business make it a little easier when you’re trying to choose the best domain name for your business!

Are you having trouble deciding on a domain name?  Just leave a comment with any questions below, and hopefully we can help you with your decision!

 

If you need help on how to choose the best domain name or business name, Moo Web Design can help! Just contact us for a free business consultation!

Website Update & New Blog!

Website Update & New Blog!

Greetings from Andrea and Katy!

We just updated our website and added a new blog where we’ll be sharing invaluable advice on how to improve your business profile and online presence! We really love our new mobile-friendly, responsive WordPress website, which uses the same technology we use to build our client’s websites. We design our WordPress websites so they are super easy for our clients to update and manage themselves! No more expensive calls to the developer to make a slight change to your content! Moo Web Design is a graphic design and website design partnership based in Edinburgh, owned and operated by Andrea McDermott and Katy Garlington. We help small to mid-size businesses in Edinburgh and beyond to improve their businesses and reach more customers through affordable, professional design services. We can help get your business off on the right foot and make sure you stay competitive, in this increasingly competitive world!


Moo Web Design Services

Start-up Business Package – Logo Design, Website Design, & Business Cards Moo Web Design can help you turn your business idea into reality through targetted, custom design, as well as invaluable business and marketing advice to help you reach more customers. We help start-up business owners by providing them with an affordable business start-up package which includes a professional logo, a mobile-friendly website, business cards and letterhead. We can also help you with choosing the right business name, domain name, hosting and we can also handle the purchase of your domain and hosting so you can focus on more important things! Friendly Upgrade Package We can also upgrade your existing website so that it is mobile-friendly, Google-friendly and customer-friendly!  Google is now penalising websites that are not mobile-friendly and most web searches are now performed on mobile devices, so this is very important to maintain your online presence.


Free Business Consultation

You can just give us a call or write an email and we can provide you with a free consultation on the best way to improve your business profile and online presence so you can reach more customers!


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