Monthly Archives: October 2014

Choosing a great website designer

web_designer_sydneyThere are approximately 16 kabillion website designers out there. And thanks to the proliferation of easy-to-use content management systems such as WordPress and Wix, it seems pretty much everyone can buy a Mac and call themselves a “designer”.

So how do you sort the wheat from the chaff and know that the website designer you choose is up to the task?

These hints will help you determine which website designer would best fit your project:

Have a look at some of their other sites

All (good) designers have a unique style. And what works for one business website, might not work for another. So have a good look at a designer’s portfolio to make sure they are a good fit.

Talk to the designer

A good designer will be honest about their capabilities – a great website designer will want to get to know you and your business inside and out. They will check out your current site and ask plenty of questions about your company, your vision, your goals and more.

Don’t be hoodwinked

A lot of designers will make empty promises about getting you on Page 1 of Google. But that’s not their job. They may work with internet marketers or SEO copywriters, but the design itself is not what Google sees, so be wary of any designer that makes this promise without explaining how.

Getting a site to rank well on Google takes time and is achieved through a sustained addition of content and usefulness to your .com over time, as well as quality backlinks and a social media strategy.

Take control

Once your design is finished, that is not the end of your web journey. The best sites grow as change and the company grows and changes. So you don’t want to hire a design agency that is going to charge you a small fortune to keep your website fresh through updates content and small tweaks.

The best designers will teach you how to do it yourself and hand it over for you, or someone in your company, to manage.

Look for a designer who loves what they do

If your designer blogs and uses the web in their free time, then it is obviously their passion, not just their job. It also means they have a deep understanding of the online space and your website will be more user-friendly as a result.

The end result you’ll get will be better when you work with someone who spends a great deal of their life on the web. They simply understand this space and understand usability better.

One-stop shop

Look for a web agency such as Direct Sites Online, which offers both web development and design, rather than separating the look and feel from the coding. This is the best way to get a polished product – and it also saves you time rather than having to deal with two separate specialists.

Get referred

The best way to hire a good designer is to have one referred to you by a friend or business colleague who is internet savvy. So ask around, and then use the steps above to choose the one that best fits your business.

Remember, design is not the be-all and end-all of your website presence. Dominating Google, and having a site that people flock to is an ongoing commitment – long after the designer has moved on to new projects.

Direct Sites Online in a one-stop shop for website development, design, content management and website marketing. Call us on 02 9557 7623 or email info@directsitesonline.com if you want a website that works for you.+

12 website content ideas that work

Website content ideasWhile we’re sure you have heard by now that “content is king”, but did you know that the wrong kind of content may well be a pretender to the throne.

On the other hand, well-written content that’s fresh and engaging will have your loyal subjects flocking for more.

This post will give you 12 ideas to deliver great content that will attract and keep visitors.

  1. Make a list. You know, like “12 website content ideas that work” or “10 ways to market your website”
  2. Business Lessons. Everyone loves hearing what mistakes you may have made along the way and the lessons you learned from them. And everyone make mistakes in business, so you will be spoilt for choice!
  3. FAQs: Do your client and customers often ask the same questions of your products and services? Save up your answers for your blog posts!
  4. Business tools: Most of us have apps or cloud solutions for bookkeeping, time management or stock control that we depend on. So share your favourites with your readers.
  5. Industry news, research and events: Have your finger on the pulse of your industry and be seen as a subject matter expert by sharing your opinions, or letting your readers know about important updates in your field.
  6. How-tos: Take your audience step-by-step – with a video if you can – on how to best use your product, or how your client relationship works.  If you can’t manage video, just write a descriptive pos.
  7. Interview an expert: Find an expert in your niche and using video-cam technology, interview them about their insights. Alternately, write up the answers in Q and A form.
  8. Promote your wares: While we don’t recommend every post being promotional (that will drive people away), every now and then it doesn’t hurt to host a giveaway on your blog.
  9. Repurpose existing content: Have a look over old posts. Is there something that could do with an update? Or perhaps you could transcribe a video on your site, and post it as a written post.
  10. ‘Tis the season: Have a think about how seasonal variation affect your product or service. There are heaps of holidays, events and special days throughout the year that you can use as a theme for a post.
  11.  Be controversial: Do you have a strong opinion on something in your industry? Then write about it. This is a great way to perhaps reach a broader audience – but be prepared to deal with those who disagree.
  12. Think strategically: What search terms are people using to find your product or service? Weave these keywords into a blog post and watch your website hits grow.

With these 13 suggestions, you will never be losts for words again. And make sure you share and promote your content through social media.

For more information and help on writing engaging content, contact Direct Sites Online on 02  9557 7623 or email info@directsitesonline.com.au

Maintaining your WordPress website

wordpress maintenanceLike anything in your business, your website is an investment that needs nurturing. Without maintenance, your WordPress site is probably giving you no return on investment – and at worst, it would be vulnerable to hackers.

You cannot afford to have a static website – technology is changing and you need to be prepared to change with it.

Here at Direct Sites Online, we suggest to all our clients that that need to be proactive in maintaining their WordPress website – starting with a plan that includes the following:

Regular backups: This is importance to ensure that, should your website be corrupted for one reason or another, or you lose content, you have a backup that can go live almost immediately. If you rely on you WordPress website to run your business, you cannot afford a long downtime to fix any issues. How often you backup depends on your needs, and you can automate it through such things as the free BackUpWordPress plugin

Check plugins – Speaking on plugins, these also need to be updated regular. This can be challenging because an update of one plugin can negatively affect a different one. You can mimimise risk by checkin the plugin homepage to see if anyone has had problems. And remember, while plugins are a great way to customise your site, the more you have, the slower your website will be. So deactivate (or, better still, delete) any plugins you don’t use.

Update WordPress software – WordPress regularly releases updates – often for security reasons, so it is vital that you make the update. And it’s easy – you just have to click a button on the dashboard. However, like plugins, an update may cause problems. In some cases, it may not be compatible with your theme, or may affect plugins, files and folders on your site.  For this reason, WordPress updates and upgrades are perhaps best left to the experts at Direct Sites Online.

Ongoing maintenance: Just like a regular visit to your GP, regular “health checks” are important for your site. You need to do such things as remove spam comments; delete used photos and files; update passwords; check for broken links; and delete old themes and dialled plugins.

The kind of maintenance your WordPress website needs will depend on the business needs and preferences. Some of this can be challenging without technical knowledge and skills, which is where Direct Sites Online can help. Call us on 02 9557 7623 or email info@directsitesonline.com.au