Monthly Archives: August 2017

10 Reasons Why You Need a Web Presence

Research by the Federation of Small Businesses has found that more and more small businesses struggling in the current difficult trading conditions are turning to the web as a cost effective way of boosting sales and profits, with almost two thirds now having an online presence. In affluent areas where disposable incomes and internet penetration levels are significantly higher than the national average, this trend has been particularly pronounced, resulting in an explosion in the number of locally based web designers.

If you are one of the dwindling number of businesses without a web presence how can you be sure that getting online will reap dividends in the long run? Below we outline 10 reasons why you need a web presence.

1. The web saves you money. A professionally designed website with a full year’s hosting and full after sales support can cost as little as £499, marginally more than a full page colour advert in one edition of the local newspaper. But whereas a newspaper advert has a very limited lifespan a properly maintained website will last for years, allowing you to stretch your marketing budget much further and cut long run advertising costs.

2. The web is easy to maintain. Printed marketing material soon goes out of date resulting in significant reprinting costs. But you can update your website content as often as you like at little or no additional cost ensuring that it remains up to date and relevant – for example, special offers, menu changes, new stock.

3. The web allows you to measure marketing results. With traditional forms of advertising it’s often hard to measure impact and cost effectiveness but with the web you get a rich source of visitor data that enables you to target your marketing efforts and measure results much more effectively. Most modern websites include a full web statistics package which can be particularly useful in tracking visitors to your website, what content they view and how many follow up their visit with a sales enquiry allowing you to tailor your content accordingly.

4. The web is interactive. Unlike traditional media which are a one way form of communication, the web allows businesses to conduct live conversations with customers. Link your website with Facebook for example and you have an instant source of customer feedback and can start to build long term customer relationships. Just do a twitter search on your local area and you will find pet coaches, chauffeurs, letting agents and a whole host of other local businesses all tweeting happily to existing and potential customers about what they are up to.

5. The web is customers’ preferred way of doing business. More and more businesses and consumers are actively opting to use the web to find local suppliers or products. More than half of all UK adults regularly shop online nowadays and the online share of the local market is set to continue growing strongly.

6. The web is a great time saver. How much of your time is taken up dealing with routine questions? Posting the answers on your website can save you time and provide added convenience for customers. Building interactive content – for example, online bookings and the ability to download money off vouchers will provide even greater benefits. Offering added value features like these has enabled many local restaurants to ensure that their bookings have remained healthy during the economic downturn.

7. The web has no geographical boundaries. At the present time your territory may be confined to the local area but why stop there? With the web you could be offering your products and services across the whole of your county, region, the UK or even globally. All at little or no additional marketing cost.

8. The web is always open for business. Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the web allows your business to keep working and capitalise on valuable sales opportunities while you sleep. And with many customers no longer working a traditional nine to five working pattern the ability to browse or shop whenever it suits them is a real benefit that will have them coming back to you time and time again.

9. The web is a powerful marketing tool. By collecting data about customers and visitors to your site you can customize and target your marketing campaigns with pinpoint accuracy, yielding much better results than the hit and miss approach offered by traditional media.

10. The web increases sales. Independent research by the Federation of Small Businesses has demonstrated that the businesses who are doing relatively well in the economic downturn are those who have learned how to use the web to give them an edge over the local competition, with nearly half reporting that a web presence has increased their turnover by a fifth or more.

Jan Willis is the Activ Web Design adviser for the West Essex area.

If you are a business owner operating in the Wanstead, Leytonstone, Loughton, Woodford and Buckhurst Hill area and would like to know more about how a web presence could help you out-compete your rivals speak to us today.

Our aim is to offer you a professional, affordable, fixed price web solution. We are not like most other web designers out there – we won’t be trying to confuse you with technical jargon, instead we will make the whole process as simple and hassle free as we possibly can. We want to work closely with you to create a website we are both proud of which will benefit your business / organisation for years to come.

Selecting a Reliable Web Host

In addition to finding a professional, affordable web site designer, securing a web host is another crucial step in the web site design process. A web host is a company that stores your web site’s files. All the pages you see on the net are a collection of pages stored in an online folder. You pay a web host to store your files in its online folder. Having a reliable web host is crucial to your business. Every time you send a potential or current client to your site, you need it to be up and running error-free. Since this is so important, we have listed a few guidelines in selecting a reliable web host:

How cost effective is this web host?
Before selecting a host, shop around and make sure the price and features of the account you are considering are competitive for the industry. Remember: expensive does not mean best! You do not need a well-known hosting provider if a smaller company can provide the same services more effectively and for 1/2 the price.

Does the host have a proven record of reliability?
There are TONS of web hosting companies on the net as I am sure many of you realized as soon as you searched for “web hosting company” in your search engine of choice. Top rankings in Google, MSN, or Yahoo do not guarantee a reliable company. These rankings only guarantee that a company spent time and/or money on search engine optimization (getting its site to the top of the charts). Before you purchase web hosting, ask other business owners which company they recommend and why. Also, check out forums such as Web Hosting Talk. This forum allows customers to sound off about their web hosting company (positive and negative comments are welcome). Here you can hear what customers have said about their hosting experience with company XYZ before you buy.  Also, ask your colleagues or web designer for hosting information.  Some of the best companies can be found through word of mouth referrals.

Is it easy to leave if I change my mind about this host? 
This is a crucial question that many small business owners do not consider. Small business owners do not always realize that hiring a web site designer and securing a web host can be affordable. Instead, they look for an all-inclusive web hosting package that offers pre-built web site templates or site builders. These are tools are helpful ONLY IF you plan to stay with that hosting company throughout the life of your web site. You would be using the web host’s design software, so if you left, the web host would still own your web site files, leaving you to start designing your site from scratch. Before using a site with pre-built templates or site builders, find out if you are allowed to keep your web site if you later decide to move to another host.There are also a few other items to consider: site uptime (is the site guaranteed to be available 99.9%), late billing consequences (is there a grace period, or will site be immediately taken down), and frequency of back-ups (if the web hosting company’s servers go down for any reason, will your site have been backed up and ready to go once the problem is resolved, or will your site be lost).

As a precaution, always back-up a copy of your web site to your home or work computer’s hard drive. This may not be possible if you use a pre-built template or online site builder software, but it is important in case something happens to the hosting company. Remember to always read the fine print of all hosting contracts you sign (albeit digitally) AND to choose a host that allows you to keep a back-up of your web site on your home or work computer (without any extra costs or fines).

How reliable is the customer service/technical support team?
If your site goes down unexpectedly, the hosting company should have an answer as to when it will be back up almost immediately. When problems with your web site arise, or if you have a question about setting up your account, technical support should be able to you. Make sure the host you use either has a posted customer service policy, has good customer service ratings on Web Hosting Talk or comes highly referred by one of your associates.

If you are unsure, one way to test the effectiveness of the company’s customer service is to send a pre-sale question to the customer service team to see how long it takes you to get a response. If it takes 3 or 4 days to answer a question about a potential sale (MONEY), then it will probably take twice as long as to answer a technical support question (when you are already a paying client).

After following these steps, your small business should be on the right track to selecting a reliable web host for your company’s web site design project.

Web Development and Cross Web Browser Compatibility

Does your website look great in Firefox and Safari, but a dog’s breakfast in Internet Explorer?

If so then you need to read this, web development and cross browser compatibility is a very serious issue that should be tackled by any professional web development company or individual.

Web development companies and individual developers if professional should address this issue with their clients to ensure the clients brand and web design looks identical across the most popular browsers.

From Internet Explorer to Opera which are included in the top 5 most used internet browsers (based on statistics taken in October 2010), any professional web development company or individual developer need to keep vigilant with their web browser compatibility checking.

To stay on top of this pressing issue there are a number of free websites available that you can use which will take sample website screen shots of your website and how it appears on selected web browsers.

Easiest way to find these web browser checking sites is to Google the following phrase: “How does my website appear on other web browsers?” This is the current Market Share for the top 5 most popular web browsers as of October 2010: Information source here

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer – 59.18%
  • Mozilla Firefox – 22.83%
  • Google Chrome – 8.50%
  • Safari – 5.36%
  • Opera – 2.29%

In summary cross browser compatibility is one of the key issues that arise when developing a brand new website or custom website application.

It is best practice to ensure your client’s website looks as identical as possible across the most popular browsers. However we do agree that there are a lot of differences in the way some of these web browsers operate and the various scripting and web coding languages they use and their interpretation of this.

So really a lot of these issues can be solved during the development of the website itself. The easiest way to avoid issues is to work with a web development company that already knows the ins and outs of cross browser compatibility.

4 Tips To Ensure You’re Not Losing Customers Because of Web Browser Issues

  1. Download the top 5 most popular web browsers to your pc or notebook and test your website thoroughly on each of them.
  2. Discuss any issues with your web development company or professional developer.
  3. Resolve these issues by checking supported web languages by checking compatibilities for the web browsers themselves.
  4. Web languages to check that appear differently across most web browsers include: HTML v1-5, CSS v1-3 these are the main two that cause the most common problems with web design and browser issues.

If you are the client I strongly suggest you address these issues with your development company. If you are the supplier, I once again strongly suggest you address these issues on the behalf of your client.

Ensuring your browser compatibility is as good as it can be will mean that you or your client potentially won’t lose business leads from customers using one of the top 5 web browsers.

Also customers that may want to purchase off an ecommerce or online shopping website may be put off purchasing because of these browser issues. Online business is serious business – take cross browser compatibility seriously as it can mean increased or lost business for you and your client.

Ben Davis is the sales and project manager for MediaCore a Specialist Web Company based in Auckland, New Zealand. He has had 6+ years of experience managing web design and development projects for his clients. He is also the author of ‘5 Tips To Search Optimize Your Business’.

MediaCore is Auckland New Zealand’s Leading Specialists for Web Design and Web Development. We provide professional and high quality web design and web development services that will meet all your online business needs. We are specialist Magento eCommerce and Joomla CMS web designers and developers.
Services

  1. Web Design
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Free Web Hosting Sites For Your Business

For a first-time user, paid web hosting may seem unnecessary when a simple internet search pulls up free hosting alternatives running into the 1000s. Of course if you look deeper into the offers, then obvious differences appear: free web hosting comes at a price (pun intended) in that disk space, bandwidth and services will be less than paid for sites, and often advertising (which is how the service can be offered free) may seem out of place, or worse still, over the top.

For the professional or business website, paying a nominal monthly or annual charge through hosting companies (a lot of whom offer free trial periods, or upgrades from free service start-ups) will be the way to go. In the following list of hosts, many offer a “try before you buy” business plan, and this is a good reason to use a free hosting service in the short-term.

But for individuals, or small businesses or groups that do not have a problem with advertising and only need a limited number of website options, then free (and limited) web hosting is a suitable choice.

Please Note:

Do always read the Terms and FAQs: offers and services can alter at the stroke of a keyboard button!

Bandwidth is used each time a visitor views your site’s content: a 1 MB file uses 1 MB of bandwidth each time the file is viewed.

Web Storage/Web Space/Online Disk Space is just like your own computer’s hard drive: there’s only so much space. More space means more room for site content like pictures, videos, and documents.

10 Web Hosts with Free Services

Yola

Offering website hosting and design with a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) tool, as well as controlled advertising, Yola makes website creation simple. Small business and solo users will be able to build on their original sites with paid-for add-ons when the situation arises, and new web users have a library of free designs to choose from, as well as paid-for premium themes. A good starter choice for new starters, especially with the options for growth.

Webs

Yes, that’s their name (perhaps “Internets” was taken?). With a point-and-click (WYSIWIG again!) site builder, this web host and design site offers plenty to the most un-technical among us. They offer a Mobile Website App to give people visiting your site from a Smartphone a mobile-friendly experience. Services include domain name – and the option to transfer, email, 40 MB Web Space and 100 MB Bandwidth on their free option.

www.gbbo.co.uk (Getting British Business Online)

Getting British Business Online is a joint initiative from Google, Enterprise UK, BT, e-skills UK and many other partners to help small businesses create their first website and understand the opportunities offered by the Internet. Their website proudly proclaims that users can create a website for their business in 20 minutes. A WYSIWYG tool means, like many other free hosting sites, technical knowledge of the web is not needed. As well as the customisable website, users will receive a.co.uk address, regular updates, and a business email.

FreeServers

With over 4 million websites under their belt, this web hosting provider has the age and experience that means a lot of the kinks of web hosting services have been ironed out. With similarities to 50megs (see below), this established service offers 50MB Web Space and 1 GB Monthly bandwidth, and is supported by (some may say heavy) advertising.

FreeHostia

From their busy (and pretty) website, this web hosting company offers a free service with 250 MB Web Space, 6 GB Monthly Bandwidth and 3 emails. Offering both Joomla and WordPress templates for the blogging side of your site, this service has one-click set-up, 24/7 Customer Support, and is bannerless – good news if you don’t like advertisements.

FortuneCity

Like many other hosts on the list, FortuneCity has a free service that will be enough for some users, and an affordable option that would do for most. The free service has 1 GB Web Space and Unlimited Monthly bandwidth, as well as their own blogging tool. Having been around since 1997, they are well-used, well-tested, and well-known, and upgrading to their Affordable package means users may cut out advertising.

Bravenet

Ad-supported free hosting, and plenty of scope with premium paid-for packages, this Web Host offers multi-domain hosting, 5 MB Web Space and 1.5 GB Monthly Bandwidth. Bravenet has a number of options available if the free service satisfies but you still want more, and is a well-known name in the industry.

AwardSpace

Offering a free service with 250 MB Web Space and 5 GB Monthly bandwidth, this free web host has some impressive numbers. They are also upfront about the limitations of their free service, which includes a limit on outgoing emails, file sizes, and no site builder. However, for the smaller website this host is an excellent option.

Agility Hoster

A free web hosting service, with the option to upgrade to paid personal or business plans, which is another good example of a suitable candidate for polished personal websites and small businesses. Their service includes two domains, 200 MB Web Space and 5 GB Monthly bandwidth, numbers that are not uncommon on paid hosting sites.

50megs

There may be a lot of ad placement at 50megs, but that hasn’t stopped the web hosting company offering its services since 1995, and they have had plenty of satisfied customers! As well as their own website templates, users can copy pre-existing sites over to the service. Anyone doing a web search (and others have commented, too) will notice that 50megs and FreeServers both have websites and services that are (ahem!) alike… with 50MB Web Space and 1 GB Monthly bandwidth.

Infinity Web Design can build, host and optimise your site. Infinity make your life easier by combining all the services available on the internet into one affordable package and our dedicated team are here to help every step of the way.