Why should you pay a web designer / web design company to create your website?

Introduction

We’ve all attempted to work things out for ourselves with a view to saving money haven’t we?  Whether that includes home improvements, DIY, learning a new skill, or simply because something looks interesting!

If you attempt decorating and make a few mistakes, you can probably cover them up and move on, nobody will notice.  If you have a go at repairing your car, you can take it to a garage or mechanic for them to look at.

What happens if you have a go at creating a website on your own?  Hopefully, you’ll identify what works well, and you’ll have a respectable looking website.

The facts

Unfortunately, there are very serious consequences if you do not fully understand what you are doing.  Website design is about far more than just the look and feel of a website, as a minimum, the following considerations should be made:

  • Where will my website be hosted?  The location of where you website is hosted can have an effect on the search engine results pages.  As an example, if you are a UK based company, having your website hosted in the states would have an adverse affect.  Many cheap providers are able to supply incredibly cheap website hosting due to where they store their data centres.On the same theme, the residing country of the data centres used to store your website will likely be subjected to the data protection rules and regulations of that origin.  I.e. if you website is stored in the states, they have far more relaxed rules regarding data protection and privacy than here in the UK.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).  Having a shiny new website is just the start.  Although you can spread the word about your new website on social media, leaflets, and handouts etc, you will want people to find your website when they perform searches.  Search Engine Optimisation is the umbrella term for considering a wide range of methods and techniques for optimising your website.  Such examples include the use of keywords, URL construction, not using inline styles, making sure your website is mobile friendly and responsive, and ensuring that your website is accessible.  Under the Disability Discrimination Act, you must ensure that visually impaired users are able to navigate your website and obtain the information that they require, in just the same way as a non visually impaired user.
  • Security.  Many Content Management Systems are incredibly popular, with WordPress currently accounting for 58.9% of all websites where the CMS is known.  This is approximately 26% of the web using WordPress!  This is fantastic news right?  Yes, but this also makes WordPress (along with all other popular CMS’) an enormous target.  From a hackers perspective, if they can find a vulnerability in WordPress that can be exploited, they are able to compromise millions of websites.  Fortunately, there are lots of tools and configuration items available to improve security to keep the bad guys out of your website.  This includes items such as reviewing file permissions, only using popular plugins that are regularly updated, and using very secure passwords (such as from strongpasswordgenerator.com).  Also, do not use the username admin.  Admin for a long time was the default username for any new WordPress installation.  No prizes for guessing the username that is most commonly targeted for newbie hackers!

Websites are public facing, meaning that anyone can view your website.  If a website has not been pieced together correctly, your security can be at risk.  The website is after all, only as secure as the weakest link.  A concerning trend at the moment is the level of knowledge required to own and manage a website at the moment is lower than ever.  With so many guides, blog posts, and YouTube videos available which highlight how to install and configure a Content Management System, such as WordPress.  Unfortunately, they do not often provide sufficient technical advice regarding how to tighten security on new websites.

That's fine, what else do I get?

In addition to a professional website design company having a firm understanding of all the above, you also get access to the knowledge and experience of the website designer.  This sound very arrogant, but guess what?  We know more about website design than you do.  Whoops, we said it!  Any website design company that has a wide portfolio understands what works well, and what doesn’t work so well.  This means that we can offer advice, recommendations, tips and tricks.  Call it what you will, we can give you all of the pointers that we’ve learned over the years to help make your website a success.

Your website is also your online representative, which represents both you individually and professionally.  It is often easy to spot a website which has not been professional designed.  To get the best results possible, hiring a professional in the industry makes sense.  This applies to almost all areas in life.

Whilst great tools do exist for very basic website requirements, such as wix, weebly, and 123-Reg page builder for example, users are often unaware of the long term commitments.  If you build a website using a page builder, you almost certainly do not own the source code.  The source code is the geeky programming that happens in the background.  This means that you are not able to migrate your website elsewhere, as the code does not belong to you, essentially you rent the website.

If a website design company develops a website for you, you own the rights to the source code, and are free to use this however you like.  If you have a website developed for you, it will also look unique.  It will not look the same as many websites which have been constructed using page builders.

If you choose CSM Web Design for your website design, you will also be able to ask us for advice and guidance.  We’re a small business, and we firmly believe in helping and supporting fellow small businesses.  We understand that helping one another to achieve success if paramount.  We get just as much satisfaction from this as do when we get paid.

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Conclusion

The decision regarding why to pay a website design company is a personal one, and only one that you can decide.  If you have very basic website requirements, then you may be best placed using a page builder, as long as you understanding any limitations that are in place.

For small businesses that require a professional website, and demand a high level of service and a professional product, hiring a website designer is the way to go.  If you have any questions or require advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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How Google Analytics can help you to gain insight into your visitors

Google Analytics is often something that website users are aware of, but what is it, and how can it be used to help improve your online presence?

Google Analytics

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free service provided by Google, which provides insight into user behaviour on your website. The Google Analytics dashboard provides a wide range of reports which can be used to understand how your customers have found your site.

What information does Google Analytics provide?

Simply put, not all of the information that is available would fit in one blog post, there is so much to delve into! However, key points are:

  • User search terms (keywords, descriptions)
  • User journeys and behaviours, such as the flow of pages that they have visited. This can tie into campaigns that can be created, useful if you would like someone to land on your homepage, view the ‘about’ page on your site, and then use the ‘contact’ page to submit an enquiry. This is called a goal, and each time the goal has been met, this will be recorded.
  • Demographic details of your users, including age groups, gender, hobbies and interests. This allows you to focus on specific content of your website if you receive high levels of traffic from users of a specific interest.
  • Realtime stats for users actively using your site at the time of having the dashboard open. You are able to see the number of visitors on your site, the a summary of whether they are using a desktop or mobile type of device, and also the page(s) that are being viewed. This is very useful if you have recently published new content, or are running a campaign on social media.

How do I get started with Google Analytics?
To get started with Google Analytics, you will need to point your browser to google.co.uk/analytics.  If you do not already have an existing Google account, you will be required to register.

Google Analytics works by providing you with a tracking ID which is embedded within your website.  This code needs to be embedded within every page of your website that you wish to track.  For many modern websites that use a Content Management System, the code will only need to be populated in one place.

The tracking code works by installing a cookie onto the users machine, allowing usage and behaviour information to be collected.  The cookie which is installed lasts for 2 years, unless of course the user clears their browser cache and removes it.  This is one of the methods that Google uses to determine whether a visitor to your site is a new visitor or returning visitor.

How can I take advantage visitor insight?

If you have an understanding of how visitors are finding your website, this means that you can identify whether this matches the target audience that you are trying to attract, or, whether you are attracting more visits from target audiences that you had perhaps not previously considered.

If you have a number multiple pages or blog posts that attract high volumes of traffic and attention, you can identify what has made these successful, and use the same techniques for future content. We already know that Google Search Engine ranking and positioning is partially based on how truthful and popular content is. If you identify the content on your site that is popular, you can start to promote it further and use this insight to improve your search engine positioning.

Mentioning Google Analytics within your site policies
As Google Analytics requires a cookie to be installed on your visitors machine, your website privacy policy / terms and conditions / cookie policy should be updated to reflect this. If any visitors have their browsers configured to not accept cookies, your website will continue to work as normal, however any behaviour for these visitors will not be recorded.

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What does your online presence say about you?

You don’t get a second chance at making a first impression, and the same applies for your website. Your website is an online representation of your business, so it needs to set the right tone. If your business is professional, experienced and reliable, then your website needs to convey this.

Although it can be tempting to save money by creating a website yourself by using free tools, there are a great number of considerations that need to be made. The way that your website is built will determine how successful your site is when showing in search engine results, such as Google. Within the web design industry, we implement SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to ensure that your website shows up when people attempting to find your site use the right keywords and information.

Tools exist to create free websites, but to make the most from your site and use more advanced tools, there will be a price to pay. Asking a professional website design company such as CSM Web Design to create your site means that you will have a completely custom site that meets all of your needs. Furthermore, you will also own the source code to your site, meaning that if you chose, you can take your website and host it anywhere you like!

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