Why Good Website Design is so Important

Why Good Website Design is so Important

As a Website Design Agency in Mullingar, that specialises in building WordPress websites, we know first hand that the difference between good and bad website design can make a huge difference to your business.

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Bad website design won’t encourage visitors to contact you and may well put them off ever visiting the site again. Whereas good design will create more leads, enquiries and sales that will pay for itself many times over.

Good website design is an asset that generates money and bad design is an expense.

There are many reasons why good design is beneficial to your business, here are the 7 most important ones.

First impressions count

I can always remember an aunt of mine saying to me when she heard that I had my first job interview; “you never a second chance to make a first impression.”

I have heard that expression many times since and in this digital age your business’ first impression is usually your website.

This is your chance to shine on your own site by giving your brand a professional image and a positive lasting impression to potential new clients.

So if someone gets a recommendation for your business I guarantee that the next step is that they will check out your website before contacting you and if it looks bad, outdated or is really slow to load; your business will appear unprofessional. As a result, they won’t be impressed and they may well go to one of your competitors instead.

Generates leads

We specialise in building lead generation websites.

It’s all too common to see a site listing all their services and having a call to action button saying something like “contact us” or “get a quote.” That’s great if they are a red hot lead that is looking for a new site but what about all the other visitors?

What if your website’s visitors are just looking and weren’t interested in getting a price for your services at the moment, they could leave your site and never return again.

So if your site had a report, a download or a white paper available to all visitors in exchange for an email address; you could then build up a rapport and turn them into a warm lead that might convert 6 months later. You could do this by sending them on a series of automated emails, assuming that they ticked the GDPR box, giving them valuable information showing them your expertise for free.

In control of your biggest marketing asset

Service-based businesses don’t own that many digital assets and your website can be one of them. We never build sites owned by third parties such as Wix and Squarespace, we only build on self-owned WordPress websites.

With so many algorithms playing god with your business’ visibility online such as Facebook and Google it’s essential that you own your greatest digital asset, your website because you are in control of what appears on it.

Another worthwhile asset that you own is your email list and nobody can take that away from you.

Your 24 hour salesperson

If your service-based website is designed properly with the right messaging your site can, in fact, be your 24-hour salesperson.

If your website connects with your target audience’s pain points and clearly indicates how your business can solve them you will have much more of a chance converting them into a client.

A good website designer knows this whereas a bad website designer doesn’t which is why it is so important that you pick your designer carefully.

Websites are inexpensive

You will usually have to pay upfront for your site before it goes live as getting credit these days is rare. But a website should last you a minimum of 3 years and if you spread the expense over say 36 months it fairly cost-effective compared to other solutions.

If you were to pay for regular adverts in local papers or local radio stations, the costs would soon mount up.

Out of office hours contact

A potential client could be browsing your site late at night and may well require some further information. So they can message you through your website rather than having to wait the next day and telephone during office hours and they may well change their mind by then.

On our site, we have more than just the typical contact form, we can also be messaged via WhatsApp and Messenger which is great for people who are looking at our website on mobile devices as it saves them time.

I can’t always guarantee a prompt reply out of office hours but at least contact has been made that we can always follow up on.

Extend your local reach

Good website design isn’t just what it looks like, it’s also about the functionality.

If it is built with search engine optimisation (SEO) your site and business can be found in search engines such as Google. For example, your business may well be an accountancy practice in Mullingar but if someone was 60 KM away in Athlone and typed in the county rather than the town, “accountancy practice Westmeath” your business would appear if it was built right.

Final Thoughts

When you have a service-based business getting new leads is essential to growing your business and the better your site is designed the more leads you will get.

So many new businesses start off building their own websites because it’s cheaper and their thinking is why should they pay a web designer when they can do it themselves. Others will opt for the cheapest web designer and as long as it looks good aesthetically they are happy enough.

But if your website isn’t getting much traffic, generating leads or converting visitors into clients; opting for the cheapest option will end up being the most expensive option by missing out on new business.

 

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Gary Gleeson

I am a website designer, a lead generation coach and a certified digital marketer with the Digital Marketing Institute since 2017.

I have been building websites since 2010 and I hold a 2019 BSc Degree in Digital Technology & Design (Distinction).

3 Reasons Not to Use Stock Photography

3 Reasons Not to Use Stock Photography

I understand that most of you don’t have the time to be taking pictures for every social media or blog post so using the many free stock photography sites is such a time saver.

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But unfortunately, there is a downside to them if you use them on your website or social media accounts.

3 Disadvantages of Using Stock Images Online

1) Google states that they are looking for unique content so that means images that haven’t been used online before. The more you toe the Google line the higher up your website will appear in the search engine results pages. So if SEO is important to you, stay away from stock photography.

2) Social media news feeds have algorithms too and if they see images that have been used before they will consider your post to be spam and show it further down user’s news feeds. If your business is on social media appearing high up your follower’s news feeds is quite important, isn’t it?

3) I see stock photography used time and time again on websites and I think they have a really unauthentic feel about them because most of them look cheesy & fake. Visually, I think they are OK for blog posts, but not your main pages. If I see a website that uses stock photography I can only assume that the website has been rushed.

The Compromise

I actually use stock photography for my main images in ALL my blog posts because like everyone else I don’t have the time to be taking fresh pictures or knocking up graphics in Adobe Illustrator. So I put a filter on them at around 80% opacity in Photoshop and in most cases that does the trick.

If you reverse search an image online you will find out if this has worked. So all you have to do is:

Visit www.google.com/imghp, then click on the camera icon.

Click on the “upload an image” option.

Then click on “choose file” and upload your image.

Wait for the results and in this case, you can see that my previous blog post image has only appeared on my web page.

Originally, the first layer of the image from my previous blog post was a stock image, then I added an orange layer on top of that with an 80% opacity and the final layer was the text.

However, I do have 1 image on my home page that hasn’t passed Google unique image test, despite using a filter, but it is only temporary. Because for now, it serves a purpose because the appearance of the home page is more important than SEO. The image will be replaced in a few weeks or so when I will take a “real” photograph and use that one instead.

Final Thoughts

You have to be practical here and decide if having unique images that haven’t been seen before online is important to you or not. Perhaps you don’t have the luxury of being that pedantic with images and you aren’t that fussed about appearing higher up in social media news feeds or in Google’s rankings.

Personally, I think appearing higher up in social media feeds and higher up in Google’s search engine results pages is very important and is, in fact, what digital marketing is all about. So I will make the extra effort.

I do use stock photography on websites on a temporary basis from time to time, but at least you know the downside and you can make the decision that is right and practical for you.

Gary

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Gary Gleeson

I am a website designer, a lead generation coach and a certified digital marketer with the Digital Marketing Institute since 2017.

I have been building websites since 2010 and I hold a 2019 BSc Degree in Digital Technology & Design (Distinction).

3 Reasons Why You Should Host Your Own Website

3 Reasons Why You Should Host Your Own Website

Most business owners tend to leave the website hosting to their website designer as it is 1 less thing to think about.

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Although I can see the convenience in doing this, there are some advantages of looking after the hosting yourself.

What is Website Hosting?

Before I go any further I want to explain what hosting is.

Website hosting is a service that allows businesses and organisations to post a website onto the Internet. A web hosting service provider is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or webpage to be viewed online. Websites are hosted or stored, on special computers known as servers.

Most hosting companies require that you own your domain or site’s name in order to host with them. If you do not have one, the hosting companies will sell you one.

This morning I was at the Mullingar Chamber’s Annual Budget Breakfast where a local firm of accountants went through yesterday’s Budget 2020 and I got chatting to an HR consultant this is looking to self host her own site.

She initially had a paid Wix site and wants to upgrade her site to a WordPress one (big thumbs up from me) and she was quoted €130 to host the site for 1 year from Irish based Lets Host. I told her that that was expensive and I could find her a much better deal, which I did.

Now I am a big fan of Carlow based Blacknight and have been using their hosting for multiple sites and buying domains from them for just over 2 years now. Customer service is great and I haven’t experienced any instances of any of the sites that I look after crashing.

But then I stumbled upon a great deal by Blue Host which is at today exchange rate only €129 for hosting for 3 years that includes a free SSL cert. Compared to Blacknight’s hosting for 1 year is €30+ VAT and another €30 +VAT for the SSL cert.

 

 

After delving a bit further I discovered a few more benefits for hosting with Blue Host:

– WordPress actually recommends hosting with Blue Host and that is good enough for me
– I have also seen reports saying that Blue Hosts has very fast loading speeds
– The control panel is really easy to use in a non-techy way

Both are good but overall Blacknight’s dashboard is very technical and is more suitable to website designers and Blue Host’s dashboard is much easier to use and would be easier to use for newcomers.

3 Benefits of Hosting Your Website Yourself

Save Money

The going rate that web designers charge for hosting for 1 year around €100 + VAT.

€129 for 3 years with Blue Host compared to €100 per year is a significant saving.

Easier to Switch Website Designer

If you are in charge of your hosting and you want to switch web designers at some point down the line you can do so without having to have that awkward chat asking for hosting and login details as your new web designer needs them.

You are not Left in the Lurch

Website designers come and go and they usually move on once work dries up, sometimes without letting their clients know.

Hearing the phrase “I can never seem to get hold of my website designer” is all too common. Sometimes they decide to go travelling or just upskill to earn more money learning a specialised computer language that pays more.

So if your web designer does go AWOL at least you have full access to your hosting.

 

 

 

You’ll find a good website here, to check out to see what hosting a WordPress website has and to see if a website is, in fact, a WordPress website. So if you input my website name you will see that I am currently with Blacknight, but I will move to be with Blue Host next year when my current deal with Blacknight expires.

Final Thoughts

Whether shelling out €100 per year for website hosting and letting your web developer take care of all your website hosting issues or looking after it yourself is your best option, is up to you.

But if you do decide to go down the DIY route with Blue Host do make sure that you let Google know in Google Analytics that your business is located in Ireland because it will assume by default that it is located in America because that is where Blue Host is based. Keep on “The Big Gs” side is always a big plus to climb up their rankings!

Blue Host doesn’t sell .ie domains but they will still host a .ie domain. You can buy a .ie domain from several domain providers such as Blacknight.

Personally, I will jump ship to Blue Host next year because of fast loading times and getting an endorsement from WordPress.

I hope that this wasn’t too technical but if you need any further clarity, let me know.

Gary

 

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Gary Gleeson

I am a website designer, a lead generation coach and a certified digital marketer with the Digital Marketing Institute since 2017.

I have been building websites since 2010 and I hold a 2019 BSc Degree in Digital Technology & Design (Distinction).

What is a Search Engine Optimisation Audit?

What is a Search Engine Optimisation Audit?

So you have spent thousands on your website and you have just realised that your website isn’t generating that much traffic from search engines, so the chances are that your website needs an SEO overhaul.

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The best place to start is with an SEO audit that will highlight areas that can be improved upon so that your website climbs Google’s rankings.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation is the process of making a website or website pages appear higher up in search engines such as Google. The higher up they appear the more likely that users will click on these search engine’s links to your website.

The 7 key stages of SEO are:

SEO Audit

The great thing about digital marketing is that there aren’t many grey areas regarding how successful any type of campaign is and search engine optimisation is a typical example of this because everything is measurable.

The purpose of a website audit is to identify as many issues affecting organic search performance as possible such as:

  • Technical SEO problems
  • Website structure problems
  • On-page SEO problems
  • Current website domain authority 
  • User experience problems
  • Content gaps and opportunities
  • Website loading speed

So in addition to spotting current website issues, the audit also serves as a starting point where initial statistics can be compared to the statistic in the coming months or years to follow that will show how effective the search engine optimisation campaign has been.

Keyword Research

One of the first things that we do before we even design or build a website is keyword research. 

Keywords are terms or phrases that are typed into search engines which should be strategically placed in the website multiple times so that the website appears higher up in the search engine results pages. But please note that if this is overdone, which is known as keyword stuffing, Google will penalise your website for this as it sees this as spam and an underhanded way of trying to beat the algorithm. 

Using the right keywords is one of the most important components of search engine optimisation. 

On-Page SEO

Now that we know what your target market is searching for on search engines, it’s time to dive into on-page SEO which is the practice of creating web pages that answer searcher’s questions. 

Once we have the keywords or keyword phrases that search engine users are using we can amend the website accordingly to make it “Google-friendly.” We do this by updating strategically placing the keywords into the website such as amended content or text, updating page titles, changing the titles and alt tags of images; to name a few.

Technical SEO

Now that we have created valuable content based on our keyword research, it’s important to make sure it’s not only readable by humans, but by search engines too.

So as the name suggests this is the technical part. If I can compare on-page and technical SEO in an analogy, the on-page would be how a car looks and the technical search engine optimisation is all about the engine.

I will keep this section brief but careful attention is needed in the following areas for search engines:

  • Increase the loading time of a website & it’s individual pages
  • Optimise images so that they load quicker
  • Instruct search engines which website pages to index
  • Inform Google what the pages are about using schema markup & the canonical tag
  • Ensure the website is mobile-friendly

Blogging Using Keywords

This is admittedly similar to the on-page SEO that I mentioned earlier but blogging should be an ongoing part of your digital marketing & search engine optimisation strategies.

Blogging has 3 main advantages for SEO:

  • It can increase your domain authority
  • Google gives extra juice to websites that blog consistently
  • Your blog posts can reach a wider audience if it is done properly

A great tip is to keep the important content above the fold for desktop users so that they are encouraged to read the article. Above the fold means in the top part of a page before scrolling down.

This is harder to do for mobile as you have fewer characters to play with so make sure that the first couple of sentences are interesting enough to keep your viewer’s attention. 

Link Building & Establishing Domain Authority 

So we have created content that potential new customers are searching for, that answers their questions and that search engines can understand, but those qualities alone don’t mean that your website or website pages will rank. 

To appear high in the search engines results pages you have to establish authority. That can be accomplished by earning links from authoritative websites, building your brand and nurturing an audience who will help amplify your content by sharing it on their social media accounts and by commenting in the comments section of your blog posts.

Google confirmed that links and quality content are two of the three most important ranking factors for search engine optimisation. Authority websites tend to link to other trustworthy sites and spammy sites tend to link to other spammy sites.

Measuring & Tracking Results

If you can’t measure something how are you expected to improve it?

It’s no different in SEO. We track everything from rankings and conversions to domain authority scores to help prove the value of SEO. Measuring the impact of our work and ongoing refinement is critical to your business’s SEO success.

While it’s common to have several SEO goals, establishing one specific primary end goal is essential. Then we can work towards that.

Final Thoughts on SEO

SEO should play an important part in your digital marketing strategy because it is a great way to generate the right traffic to your site. But don’t get hung up on the number of website visitors from search engines because quality traffic is much more important.

I tried not to get too technical in this blog post as some of the SEO jargon can take some explaining, but if you need any advice on improving your business’s SEO to grow, get in touch.

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Gary Gleeson

I am a website designer, a lead generation coach and a certified digital marketer with the Digital Marketing Institute since 2017.

I have been building websites since 2010 and I hold a 2019 BSc Degree in Digital Technology & Design (Distinction).

Trading Online Vouchers Worth up to €2,500

Trading Online Vouchers Worth up to €2,500

You’ll be pleased to know that since May 2019 the Online Trading Voucher is even more accessible to SMEs than ever before.

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Previously, businesses had to trade for over 12 months and the grant was mainly for website design & development fees. Now businesses only need to be trading for a minimum of 6 months and the grant covers other online expenses too.

About the Trading Online Voucher Scheme

Grow your business with help from this grant that is designed to assist small businesses. It offers financial assistance of up to a maximum of €2,500 along with training and advice to help your business trade successfully online.

Cutting the cost of developing your online trading capacity by up to 50% can make the investment extremely affordable. For example, if the whole project costs €5,000 you will only have to pay €2,500. 

What is the eligibility criteria? 
  • Limited online trading presence
  • Less than 10 employees
  • Turnover less than €2m
  • Businesses have to be in the same county as the Local Enterprise Office
  • A Tax Clearance Certificate is required for partnerships & sole traders
What are ineligible projects for this scheme?
  • Companies with charitable status & commercial semi-state companies
  • Trade associations and company representation bodies
  • Non profit organisations and social entrepreneurship applicants
  • Professional IT type services who are already capable of trading online
  • Conferences and Seminars
  • Projects which are contrary to public policy
  • Agencies of EU funded Operational Programmes
  • Projects with 10 or more employees
  • Projects that are not viable
  • Projects essentially comprising of importation and distribution
What the vouchers can’t be used for:
  • Development of brochure websites (non eCommerce websites)
  • Purchase of non-internet related software
  • Anything other than online trading related activity

The Trading Online Voucher is part of the National Digital Strategy that is being run by the Local Enterprise Offices throughout Ireland on a pilot basis. So don’t leave it too long to apply just in case this scheme gets axed!

The Trading Online Voucher can be used for:
  • IT consultation
  • Development or upgrade of a current website to an e-commerce website
  • Installation of online payments or booking system
  • Internet-related software
  • Online advertising (maximum of 30% of approved Voucher costs)
  • Developing an app
  • Development of a digital marketing strategy
  • Implementing a digital marketing strategy
  • Training specifically to establish and manage an online trading presence

As a Digital Marketing Agency in Mullingar, we can provide all of the services listed above with the exception of building an app.

Conclusion

Businesses that have already participated in the scheme reported that, on average, they saw their sales increase by 20%.

2,000+ small businesses have received the Trading Online Voucher and some of them could even be your competitors!

There is a 14-page form that needs to be completed beforehand and I know that some of you would rather visit the dentist for a root canal treatment than fill it in, so I would be more than happy to run through the form with you.

The Westmeath LEO is located in Mullingar and all their contact details can be found here and a list of all the Local Enterprise Offices in each county of Ireland can be located here.

I would be happy to advise you which areas to invest in that would prove most beneficial to your business after some initial research into your industry and provide you with a competitive quotation.

So feel free to get in touch with me here, if you have any questions as I am only a few clicks away.

– Gary

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Gary Gleeson

I am a website designer, a lead generation coach and a certified digital marketer with the Digital Marketing Institute since 2017.

I have been building websites since 2010 and I hold a 2019 BSc Degree in Digital Technology & Design (Distinction).

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