Website

Websites are increasingly an essential tool for businesses to communicate with customers. A website ensures your business is accessible; people can interact with your business online in a way that suits them, at a time that suits them. A well designed website creates credibility, allows potential customers to find you 24/7, increases the geographic reach of your business, and is an effective marketing tool.   

Our resources provide advice on getting the most from your online presence as well as case studies highlighting how New Zealand businesses are using technology to improve their operations. 


Reviewing Your Website

We recommend you schedule a periodic review of your website

Consider the look and feel of your site, for example does it look dated, is it easy to navigate and find important content and contact details? Consider what new technology has become common practice since your website was built? It may be helpful to see how your website compares with your competitors. Regular review ensures your website is performing the best it can for your business. Make sure you get others to look at your website and provide feedback.  . A good place to start is to make a list of the pages in your site. You can then assign goals to each page or group of pages. This list is also a good place to track keywords, and other information as well as priorities to determine where you will focus your efforts first.

The following list of questions may be useful to consider when reviewing your website:

  • How useable is it? For example, are your fonts are easy to read on both a computer and a mobile device? Does the structure make sense, is it easy to navigate? Usually the horizontal menu is for your main pages, secondary pages are underneath or on the left hand side. Less important links at bottom of page, such as in the footer.  Have a look at this usability checklist for more ideas.
  • Is your information up-to-date? Nothing is more frustrating for a visitor, than reading about a promotion that expired weeks ago, or visiting a site and looking at your monthly newsletters only to realise that nothing has been posted for the past year. If you say you are going to provide regular blog, an update, or results to the latest competition, make sure you actually do it.
  • Are you consciously building traffic to your website? Having links to your website from trusted, quality websites is a way to build your SEO results. Have someone actively focused on driving these links and looking for opportunities. Use a free tools such as SEO Moz's Open Site Explorer to see which sites are currently linking to yours as well as the anchor text used in those links. CIO.com has a really good article on how to drive traffic to your website.
  • Do you have multiple landing pages? Not all your visitors will come via your home page, and you don’t necessarily want them to. If you sell a range of products or services you can’t necessarily put them all on your home page so consider having multiple landing pages. They can if a potential customer is doing a specific search. Layers of landing pages can also help you organise your website, make SEO easier, and if you ever run a Google Pay-Per-Click campaign you can direct traffic to the appropriate area of your website.
  • Do you have generic images? Avoid generic images if possible. You don’t want people to think your business is ‘generic’.  Ensure your images have an emotional connection to the text. It’s better to have no image, than a poor quality image.

  • How easy is it to buy a product or service?  If you have an article that discusses one of your products, how many clicks would it take for the visitor to purchase the product?  If they search for a product or service on your site, how many clicks to purchase?  You want to make it easy as possible for them to spend their money with you.  For more information read 101 conversion tips to help improve your website.
  • Is your content high quality? Search engines such as Google have very complex search algorithms sitting behind them. These are constantly evolving and getting better at determining quality content from shallow content. SEO aside, good quality content will get repeat visits and will get shared more. We think it’s always better to have a little bit of great content, rather than a large amount of average content.
  • Is your brand clear and consistent? Does your website match your company brand? Are the headings, layouts predictable & consistent? Is your logo prominent and have you used a high resolution image? As a general rule of thumb put your logo in the top left corner. Many visitors expect that when they click your logo it will take them to your home, so make sure you have it linked.
  • Does it promote your social media sites? It’s important to let your potential customers know what social media sites you are on. “Follow” icons should be in the header or footer of your website, so preferably on every page. Include ‘share’ and ‘like’ icons on any page that possesses information worthy of sharing (such as your blog posts, or product descriptions) but don’t overdo it. Actually ask your visitors to ‘like’ your Facebook page, or follow you on twitter, or join the discussion on LinkedIn. Many websites has social media images, but visitors are more likely to take notice of them if you ask them to do something.
  • Do customers log into your site? If so, then consider allowing social logins to make this process easier. Having the option to login via their Facebook or Twitter account makes the registration process quicker, which makes it easier for your visitors.
  • Is your home page dynamic? Many successful websites have replaced most of their static content with variable content that feeds from different sources, such as social media feeds, blog feeds, news feeds.
  • Do you have calls-to-action? A call-to-action is a button or link on your website that converts a website visitor to a potential customer by filling out a form. For example you might want them to download a quote, or register for an event or newsletter, make an appointment, or contact you. There is a whole marketing science around making your calls-to action-effective. To get your imagination flowing read Hubspot’s call-to-action best practices or 10 techniques for an effective call-to-action.

 


Selling Online

What are the benefits of selling online?

Selling online can increase your productivity and give your business access to an international, 24 hour a day marketplace of potential customers (much more than a traditional retail store is exposed to).  To find out more about selling online from a small business point of view take a look at this article from NZ Business.

There is a wide range of options available for businesses to sell online, from building your own ecommerce shop to setting up a store in an online marketplace such as Trademe, Etsy or Ebay.  A few ecommerce platforms to consider include; Bigcommerce, Magento and Shopify.

Steps to selling online

  1. Do your research – investigate the ways you, your family, your colleagues, your friends purchase online, what is easy, what sites do you repurchase from.  Consider how your competitors are selling their products – what works, what doesn’t.  Read online articles and resources about setting up

  2. Decide whether you want to sell your products from your current website, or whether you want to use an existing site, such as Trademe

  3. Determine whether you are going to set up the ecommerce site yourself or whether a web design company will do it

  4. If you are going to set up the site yourself investigate the products you could use, talk to colleagues, friends, business advisor, other businesses to see what they use.  Also talk to your domain name provider

  5. Don’t forget to ensure your online store accepts credit cards – this is a must for online commerce.  Investigate the merchants you could use, such as Paypal

  6. Read the section in this website on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

 

Case Study

Find out about success experienced by a Christchurch Pharmacy who decided to take the plunge into online sales after the earthquake.


Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design is a type of web design that provides a customised viewing experience for different browser platforms such as computers, tablets, smart phones. A responsive website adapts to fit the screen size of whatever device is being used with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling.

Why is responsive web design important?

As mobile usage, especially smartphones, is increasing it is important to accommodate the needs of your customer whether they are viewing your website on their phone or on a computer.

New Zealanders are embracing mobile shopping, take a look at how Kiwis are using mobile devices to buy online.

Steps to making your website responsive:

  1. Check if your website is responsive – there are free sites that enable you to do this such as https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ (your website provider may have already made your website responsive)
  2. Talk to your website provider about the options available
  3. If your website provide can’t help, research other agencies
  4. Get quote(s) to transition your website to a responsive design
  5. Recognise that mobile browsing is expected to outpace desktop browsing, consequently you should consider implementing responsive web design to remain competitive
  6. Factor the costs of a responsive website into your budget (short term?, medium term?)
  7. Select the company to create your responsive website

Note: if you don’t have the budget to get a web design company to do your website, there are free website development platforms that enable responsive websites, such as wix.com or wordpress.org.


Integration with social media

What are social media accounts?

Social media accounts include tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter which businesses can use to boost engagement

Why integrate your social media accounts with your website?

Using your website as the centre of your online presence, linking all your online activity together can increase engagement with your customers and build the audience for your social media accounts. Integrating your website and social media presence gives people a choice of channels to stay in touch with your business, it also provides the ability to boost communication and service to customers and the potential to increase sales.

Things to consider when integrating social media accounts and using social media:

  • Best practice suggests social media buttons should be displayed along the top, bottom, or side of your homepage
  • Be realistic about what you can achieve. When starting out using social media focus on one channel. Then choose a time each day to check your channel. Plan your updates. Regular updates on your social media sites is essential to keep your social media followers informed and interested
  • Don’t dump the social media tasks on the youngest member of your team just because they have an Instagram account. Social media shouldn’t be an afterthought, it should be part of your marketing plan with clear objectives.
  • Only link your website to social media channels that are actively managed, as linking to inactive channels can do more harm than good
  • If you have an ecommerce facility on your website adding social ‘share’ buttons to your product pages will allow users to share or recommend your products
  • If your current website doesn’t have the capability to add social sharing to your pages these products might help; add this, share this. Alternatively, consider the following individual social media plugins; Facebook plugins, Twitter plugins, Pinterest plugins
  • Although it is very popular to add sharing buttons to webpages, remember that these don’t help webpage viewers to see your social media presence without leaving your website, so to strengthen your social media consider using a feed widget

Note: To get inspired have a look at awwwards for best websites with social media integration.


Website Blogs

‘Blog’ is actually short for web log. A blog is a type of website or webpage which usually displays information in chronological order from the most recent ‘post’ (or entry) at the top of the page to the oldest at the bottom.

What are the benefits of having a blog on your website?

There are a number of benefits to blogging. Blogs are a great way to position your business as a leader in its field. Sharing your expertise via a blog is a cost effective way to communicate with existing customers, and highlight your expertise within your industry.

Things to consider if you want to add a blog to your website

Often a lot of time and effort can go into creating a good blog post. Use this great content to your advantage by posting a link to your blog on your social media pages. But don’t just post the link, take time to explain to your followers why they should click on it and the benefits for reading the post. 


Managing your Website Content

To manage content changes to your website it may need to be on a content management system (CMS). 

What is a Content Management System (CMS)?

CMS is software that providers a user-friendly interface so you can create, edit and publish content on your website.

Why should I be editing my content?

Customers now expect websites to be dynamic, provide them with the information they are looking for and highly engaging. Gone are the days when your website looks like a brochure or a sales leaflet. Regularly updating your website will also improve your results in Google searches (see section on SEO). Also, updating your own website using a CMS can save time and money.

Where do I start?

Before deciding on a CMS, it’s a good idea to review a few options so you can choose one that best fits your website goals. Some examples include:


Writing for the Web

Because of the vast amount of information available on the Internet, users are becoming increasingly discerning in what they read. If the information on your site is poorly written it can detract from your message and send readers away from your pages. Consider the following when writing for your website.

Keep it short

Grab the attention of your readers by delivering short messages and using short sentences. Long sentences that stream from side to side of your web page are harder to read and look visually unprofessional.

Make it easy to skim read

The majority of readers will scan your page or article (rather than read every word). To help them out you need to make your page easy to scan by breaking the information into ‘bite sized’ pieces by using variation such as; headings and subheadings, bullet lists, numbered lists, step by step instructions etc. Photographs or images which support your message may help.

Start with the conclusion

Readers may not make it down to the end of your page, so make sure you get your point across in the first paragraph.

Think about titles

Capture the readers’ interest by using exciting titles. Keep them short. Consider including the main benefit or solution to pique their interest.

Target your audience

Think about who your audience and write for them, avoid generalising. Make your text personable and friendly. Appeal to emotions, especially if you are trying to sell a product or service.

Don’t waffle

Your text should be rich with information and succinct. Avoid using technical jargon where possible. In addition ensure your links are descriptive, avoid using ‘click here’.

Be professional

Typos, errors and hard to read text will detract from your message and discourage readers from your site. Get your text proof read. It may be helpful to print off your text and read it in hard copy a day later, to help you spot areas for improvement.

Do your research

Ensure your content is factual and accurate. For more information on writing for the web refer to How to Write Successfully for the Web.

If you feel like you need more skills in this area there are also free online courses available on web writing, such as Writing for the Web by the Open Universities Australia.


Video Content

Why have Video Content on a Website?

Online video is quickly becoming a key way for people to satisfy their information and entertainment needs. It is estimated that by 2017 video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic. If small businesses don’t include it as part of their Content Marketing plans then they risk losing business.

Consider how popular video is already. YouTube has over 1 billion unique visitors each month. Done well, video is engaging, provides information in an easy to digest way, and in the era of information overload can almost seem relaxing as it takes less energy than reading.

Video content can be created to suit a range of budgets. Some options include engaging a video production company to produce content for you, or using an online tool to produce your own.

With the progress of technology, and the ability to record video becoming almost ubiquitous on smart phones, production costs can now be created to suit a range of budgets, making it an accessible medium for the smallest business.

Incorporating multimedia elements into your content enriches the quality of your website. In addition the inclusion of video improves the amount of time visitors spend on webpages as well as increasing social sharing.

Ideas for Content

When planning video content you need to consider your audience and ensure you video will be relevant to them. Following are some examples of video content that might be useful for businesses:

  • Product demos - great when you have just released a new product or added a new feature. You could show your product in use, or how to properly maintain a product. It can also be easier to show different applications of a product than explain them.
  • Detailed explanations – Sometimes it can be a challenge to communicate a complex concepts succinctly, this is where a short video may be preferable over a 5 page document.
  • Training tutorials – Videos can be create for conveying instructions, such as assembling a product or using it. Think of following a recipe vs watching someone bake a cake – which conveys more information and is most likely to get a similar result.
  • Personalise your business – people often trust what they can see. If they see that you are a ‘real person’ speaking directly to them they may be more likely to trust your business. You can convey your business’s personality. Establish yourself as an expert in your industry by answering questions or providing tips and tricks. You could even interview industry experts. Customer testimonials can mean so much more when the endorser talks about a product or service, rather than just seeing quoted test on a page. Or, you could even do a ‘meet the team video’ or a virtual tour of your physical site.
  • Vlog it – a regular quality video blog that provides the customer with useful information can be a good way to get customers revisiting your site and keep your brand ‘at front of mind’.

Tips for Creating Video Content

  • Ask why?
    Why am I making this video? Why would someone want to watch it and share it? (If it’s hard to think of a reason, then you’ve got it wrong – go back to the drawing board).
  • Market it
    Once you’ve made it, don’t forget to market it. Promote your video across multiple channels, e.g. on your website, social media, blog posts, resource centre. Don’t be shy about having it in several locations on your website.
  • Don’t make it too much like an ad
    People watch videos because it entertains or informs not because they want a sales pitch.
  • Don’t stop at on
    A video is a bit like a blog post, on its own it’s good, but if there are many it can be great. What you are trying to do is create a loyal bunch of followers who keep coming back for information.
  • Consider your Content Marketing Plan
    Make sure it adheres to and complements your content strategy. Consider your audience, where they ‘hang out’ online and ensure your audience and ensure your video is relevant to them.
  • Make it shareable
    Ensure you have made it easy for viewers to share your video (the ultimate would be for it to go viral). Some of your videos should be ‘bite sized,’ that is under 30 seconds so they can be shared easily on social media sites. (Consider your audience and which social media they use (e.g. LinkedIn, Flickr, Facebook) as different social media has different video limits e.g. Vine 6 seconds, Instagram 15 seconds).
  • Optimise it for SEO
    Put keywords in your video filenames, video titles descriptions and tags. Read 5 advanced SEO tactics for video content for more information.
  • Consider having a channel
    A channel is a way of keeping all your videos together, providing a short description of your business and a link to your website. Your channel will have a web address that you can then promote on your website or in emails. Potential customers can subscribe to your channel. Two of the most popular video hosting sites are YouTube and Vimeo. Here is an interesting article on the pros and cons of YouTube vs Vimeo.

Getting Started

Initially the thought of creating a video for your business may seem daunting, but TweakYourBiz.com has some great tips for getting started.

Some examples of online tools that assist with video content creation include:

More information on additional tools and tips and tricks can be found on The Next Web.


Customer Contact Facility

Why have a customer contact facility on your website?

One of the key things customers want from a website is to work out the best way to contact you. If you're using an online contact form or email, providing an expected response time to customers (such as next business day) allows customers to be reassured they are valuable to you. Including a phone number to a physical shop or business cellphone gives a personal touch and some customers still prefer being able to call to talk to someone directly.  Allowing customers to easily contact you and your business using your website is reassuring if they are considering purchasing from your business.

Case Study

Buller-based adventure company Wild Rivers Rafting has a very good reason that its website takes bookings. “We don’t have an office,” says operator Bruce.

The alternative for us would be to have a full on booking office. So just doing away with that and having just a simple website is actually way cheaper than the other options for us, he says.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO is short for search engine optimisation. SEO covers a range of strategies, techniques and tactics used to obtain high-ranking placement in the search results pages search engines, such as Google.

Why use SEO?

The use of SEO is like sending out invitations to view your website, without the invitations no-one knows to come and look. Users searching for a business online will often only look through the first few links on the first search engine results page. The higher ranked sites are displayed higher up the page and therefore the greater the chance of the site being visited. Ranking highly in search results for keywords that are relevant to your business can give you an edge over your competitors.

How to apply SEO

Talk to your web designer about their SEO skills.  Alternatively, some NZ companies that specialise solely in SEO include; PureSEO, Premium SEO, Write Ahead.

As SEO is very specialised skill it is best done by someone who is an expert (for example Google takes into consideration over 200 factors when ranking your website). However to improve your site’s performance you should consider:

  • Reviewing the content on your website to ensure it includes keywords and phrases that people are likely to search for when trying to find a business like yours
  • Add fresh, new content to your website as often as possible. Frequent updating of content will lead to your site being indexed more regularly. Some easy ways to add new content are to post customer reviews or testimonials, and keep a regular blog or news feature
  • Online resources that can provide you with advice on search engine optimisation. If you’d like to find out more take a look at online resources such as; Google Webmaster Tools and Moz.

Take a look at the SEO advice Google can give in under 10 minutes.  


Online Directories

An online directory is a catalogue of websites that users can browse or search.  These are usually put together and maintained by people.  A search engine is an online tool (such as Google) that helps users of the Internet find the information and/or sites they are looking for.  Most search engines use automated programs that search on key words.

Why list with an online directory?

Today’s consumers are more likely to search for a business on the Internet instead of reaching for the phone book. Most search engines will provide multiple references to a company within a particular region. These online references are likely to include listings with online directories, rating or review sites and social networks as well as company sites.

Listing your business with a range of online directories increases the chance of your business being found online by users. Some online directories to consider include; Hotfrog, NZS, Finda. Dmoz.


Domain Names

A domain name is the unique name that identifies an internet resource such as a website, for example www.digitaljourney.co.nz  Top level domains are .co or .com, second level domains are .nz or .au and can indicate the country where the website is located.

Email can also rely on domain names to work, for example once your company has a domain name you can then set up emails based on that name, such as joebloggs@digitaljourney.co.nz

Why use a domain name across both website and email?

Using your domain name across your website and email creates a professional impression which customers look for and trust. If you are a New Zealand business then think about what domain name is right for you.

While there are many options available, a good place to start is to consider what your customers look for. If they see you as an NZ business then consider getting a .nz domain name. If you want to be seen as an international business then consider an alternative such as .com.

You can even register multiple domain names for a website and effectively target customers in different countries.

If you are already using email (eg: gmail.com or xtra.co.nz) here is a guide on how to link your domain name to your email address.

Research indicates that customers trust businesses more if they are using a registered domain name. 

 

Case Study

Hear why Survive-it use their domain name for both website and email.


Common Website Mistakes

Sensory overload

This is what happens when there is too much, especially in the form of movement, video, and style, crammed into one website space. When there is a sensory overload a website becomes too complicated for a user to navigate and will discourage instead of encouraging customers.  You want a website that contains all of the information that the customer needs so that they do not feel like something is missing; however you don’t want anything more than the essentials.

Company centric

As much as your website is about your company you want the customer to feel as if it is about them. The customer wants information about your products, their interests regards your product, and information to potentially improve their experience with your product.  A separate web page is useful for providing information about your company and history if you desire.

Dull or generic websites

If your homepage is your name and location and what you sell, or your website is never updated then customers are going to become bored with it and stop visiting Adding fresh content on a regular basis is essential but ensure that the fresh content is interesting and relevant. Providing a good reason for your customers to return to your website is essential.

Visitors should know within 10 seconds of landing on your site if they are in the right place and what makes you different.  The name of your business and what you do/sell is essential but also what makes you unique, think about how you are different from your competitors and ensure your website highlights this.