As part of our ongoing relationship with Christ The King College in Preston, we are pleased to launch their new website. Our brief was to create a simple portfolio site that would be easy for staff and students to update and would keep to the boundaries of the budget available. Built in WordPress, the website acts as a hub for student and parents, keeping them updated with what is going on on a daily basis. It is also used as a recruitment tool for prospective parents, clearly highlighting the school’s benefits and providing instant access to the prospectus. Christ the King College is a specialist maths and computing college, it was therefore a priority that their site although simple, was well designed and easy to keep up to date.
One of the important things to bear in mind when designing a website is the different needs that users have. Some will be accessing your homepage for quick information – your contact details for example. Others will be visiting your site to find out more about your brand and decide whether they want to become a customer or not.
To cater for both these customers, we apply the 30:30 rule. Customers should be able to get what they need within 30 seconds but there should be enough interesting content to keep them involved for 30 minutes.
Always prioritise the 30 second skimmer because they’re likely to be an existing or potential customer. But gradually develop enough content for the 30 minute researcher – these are the people who become evangelists for brands they decide to trust.
We are pleased to be working on a new e-commerce website for Balthazar, a UK based company that runs spas and sells beauty products in Saudi Arabia. A fascinating challenge, we are creating a completely different user experience. Female consumers in Saudi are cash rich and spend a lot of time researching products on the web. As they are currently not allowed to drive, their store based retail experiences are restricted. We will therefore be working to transfer retail theatre to the online journey.
Media coverage today is stating that the world will run out of IP addresses tomorrow – what does this mean for your website?
What are IP addresses?
Devices connected to the web are given IP addresses that behave like phone numbers. With the number of mobile devices that are now connected to the web, the current system (named IPv4) of 4.1 billion addresses in the 1980s is set to be fully allocated to regional authorities by the end of this week. Once these have been distributed to individual clients there will be no more IPv4 addresses.
What happens next?
IPv4 will be replaced by IPv6 (version 6) which will enable a seemingly inexhaustible number of IP addresses. There are concerns however about translation issues – IPv4 and IPv6 are, in essence, different ‘languages’ which means that there will be challenges connecting IPv6 addresses to websites using IPv4.
Do I need to worry?
It makes sense to ensure that your digital agency is prepared for IPv6 – many have been slow to experiment with it because of a lack of immediate benefits. John Curran, Chief Executive of the American Registry for Internet Numbers states that only about 2% of websites worldwide currently support IPv6.
Apparatus clients have no need to worry – Our datacentres are already compatible with IPv6 and we have already been allocated IPv6 addresses. Testing is well underway to ensure a smooth transition.
With the imminent arrival of web 3.0, the semantic web, savvy companies are reviewing their online activity, but how do you know when your website has had its day?
The big one
You can’t update it instantly. If you have to wait for your web agency to make content changes for you, involving a wait and an invoice at the end of it then you really need to change to a user friendly CMS.
It isn’t built in Open Source
If your website was built using a proprietary CMS (a system created by your web developer that only he has the keys to) then you are missing out on the potential for regular FREE technical updates from developers around the world. Websites built using Open Source have this functionality as standard.
It doesn’t answer the customer question ‘what’s in it for me’
Lots of websites are developed for the board of directors and are primarily used to broadcast company services to an unsuspecting public rather than simply helping the customer to find wat they want quickly. We call these sites vanity sites and you can usually spot them because they have ‘about us’ as their second page. THINK! Yes the customer might want to know a little more about you when they’ve decided to purchase but it really isn’t the first thing they want to know.
Pages are a sea of copy
People browsing online are impatient to find what they want. They will not sit and read through paragraphs of prose – not only do they not have time but it makes their eyes hurt. Break it down with good navigation, use headings, bullets, numbered lists and draw their attention to key points using bold.
Pages are a sea of images
From the sublime to the ridiculous, don’t waste precious optimisation opportunities by having hardly any copy at all.
Flash – aaargh
Owing to the ongoing battle between Apple and Adobe, the iphone, ipad and ipod cannot play flash content. Given the market penetration of these devices, you will be losing numerous visitors if your homepage is based on flash (however given how difficult it is to optimise flash homepages not many people will be finding you in the first place).
Despite commercial imperatives, objectives for a website should not be just about sales, sales, sales. In fact web trends are showing that savvy businesses are realising that the value of their website goes way beyond this. Think about your website in terms of the following functions:
Can you fulfil answers to popular queries and provide reassurance about your brand online?
Simply featuring a product or service with a cost is giving fodder to price comparison sites, give succinct information to satisfy the customer's appetite for information
Delight your customer, inform and entertain them, giving them a reason to return to your site regularly
Remember web content is king for 2011 – but it must be written for humans as well as search engines … use social media well, develop apps. The need for a good digital marketing strategy is a no brainer but you have to be clever about it.