First things first, I need to start with this: My name is Deb Harrison and I am a web designer. My company is indeed called DVH Design, but we are not a registered company in any way.
I’ll repeat that, we are not DVH Design Limited.
Something strange has been happening over the last couple of months: We have had the odd enquiry saying that money has been being taken out of people’s account for branded shoes. The red flag here for me was all the pricing is in dollars ($) This is confusing because I am a web designer.
Originally I thought it was someone trying to flog me the premium domain name dvhdesign.com originally owned by a company in the Netherlands and now appears to be free. I did look and thought that might be the solution to the issue. They gave me the price tag of $2,000. Yeah, that’s not happening!
I thought the emails were stooges trying to get me to buy the premium domain and thought no more of it. Until a week ago when I got an email from an elderly lady asking for her money back. This got to me because my Mum’s also elderly and very sceptical of online. When I asked for a bit more information, she reached out to me in the same way my Mum would. I naturally checked my bank account in case there was an error that we could all clear up and get on with life. There was nothing.
Someone with a similar name to my company name appears to be going on an online shop and taking more money than the shoes are worth. Cue me getting an enquiry on my website or an obscene message on Messenger that I am the fradulent one. For someone who has been transparent since day one, this is hurting me.
For anyone reading this that has been stung, I recommend the following:
Do a search on Companies House: From this alone you will see that the name on the search is not Deborah Harrison and I am based in Essex, not London.
Review online shopping sites before using them. The site the elderly lady referred me to appears to be based in America. Regardless, read reviews of shopping sites before using them. Or do as I do and search their company name. The first result told me all I needed to know about this particular company.
Report them to Trading Standards: I’m not completely sure about the fine line between a US Company trading and a UK Cashier taking the money, but the Federel Trade Commission should be kept informed (https://www.ftc.gov/). There’s also Trading Standards in the UK (https://www.gov.uk/find-local-trading-standards-office). If in doubt, report them to both.
But I assure you: I am not the culprit here. All I know about shoes is that they go on your feet and stop them getting wet. If you take a look at my shoe collection, with exception to the running shoes to compensate for my massive instep, my shoes are Matalan or Primark specials.
I do have an online store: HOP Solutions but this is for height adjustable furniture for home offices, studies and schools. Registered Company link is here https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/14267630/officers. Spot the difference between the 2 listings: There are many.
I have toyed with the idea of going Limited, but that would also mean getting VAT registered, which I cannot fathom. Besides DVH Design Limited was taken 2 years ago by a company in London, so now I cannot. if I now did I would have to change my company name altogether.
But hindsight is a great thing.
Let’s have a quick show of hands: Who wants to get more reviews on their Google Business page? We all know that reviews to our Business profile give us an unfair advantage over our competition and and is a potential way of getting onto page 1 of Google.
But we also know that it’s a long, arduous task to get your customers to sit still long enough to post those all important reviews. It’s not their fault: Business, Personal and Life in general gets in the way. We at DVH Design are always looking to make this an easy task.
DVH Design have partnered with RevCards. With your Review Card you can simply Tap your customer’s Smart phone. This takes them directly to your Google profile. From here they can leave their 5 Star review while you wait.
Pricing varies from £29.99 for one card. Set up is easy. Click the button below and use the code DVH at the checkout for 10% off your order.
I have been busy over the Summer months. Not just with going on holiday but with planning and the setup of my new mini recording studio.
And today I am proud to officially announce my new 12 week web design programme.
Designed with business startups in mind, in just 12 weeks, I will guide you through setting up your own 5 page website. I begin by setting up your hosting , encryption and WordPress setup. From there, my 12-weekly video series will guide you through:
But we are not just offering the 12 weekly video series: We will also provide a weekly accountability, a fortnightly Q&A Session on Zoom, and a Facebook Group. We have also got set up a monthly Speaker in our Zoom group, to give you online and business advice. This will be available to all our subscribers as a monthly resource.
After you have the completed the 12 weeks, you have the choice to either move your website away to your own hosting provider or subscribe for ongoing support and advice, maintenance updates and our online video library to add other elements to your website.
We are offering this 12 week programme for a one-off cost of £197. However for our first 10 signups, we are offering this at a discounted rate of £147.
We have 9 spaces left, so get in touch today to take the first step in the right direction for your online presence.
The last few motnhs, I have had an ongoing learning curve going with setting up and keeping up Google Business Profiles (formally Google My Business or Google Places).
If you haven’t got a Business profile set up for your business, then I would recommend you get one. Set up correctly, a Google Business profile is a potential way for your business to be listed on page 1.
If, for example someone wanted to search for web designers in Braintree. You get the paid adverts right at the top of the page, but below here is a map for every web designer in Braintree. Users can view more businesses by clicking the button to view more businesses, but the top 3 positions are money in the bank.
Here are some tips to get you there:
Give as much info as possible: Hear you can add opening hours, your logo, a cover photo, other images of your product or service or building. All this information adds to your profile and has it working for you.
Answer questions: People can ask you questions on your profile. Yes you will get questions saying “how much if your product service, etc” Answer politely and fully or direct them where they can find the answer. Adding your FAQ’s will also serve you well.
Get reviews. It’s one thing telling everyone how brilliant your company service is, but to have testimonials endorsing your product/service speaks volumes. Go as far to ask your customers if they are happy with your service and ask for a review. It all builds good reputation and Google recognises the feedback.
Use your right to reply: On the same point, not every review is good. This could be a case of mistaken identity, a disgruntled customer for the most petty reasons or old fashioned corporate sabotage. If this is a disgruntled customer, then you have a right to reply. Be polite and fair as your reply reflects on your company’s image.
As a sidenote, if you believe someone has given you a bad review for another company, or believe a competitor posing as a customer has given you a bad rap, then you can appeal to Google. You will however need to provide evidence that this is the case. Google take about 3 business days to reply somtimes a little longer.
Be honest: I have saved this one until last, because it is the most important. Tell the truth. If you’re company is called Acme Enterprises then call your business Acme Enterprises, don’t call it Acme Business services and valeting service. Google suspends any profile that they think might be gaming the system and the difference between a visible profile and a suspended profile can be detrimental.
Now this is the scope for much debate. Google do ask you to verify your business prior to listing your company, but if they get a complaint or suspect that you are not being straight with them, they have the right to take your profile offline and ask you to verify again. It is after all, their system.
Google will ask for a recent bill or your company signage to prove your name. So unless you have genuinely changed your company name and can prove it, your smartest move would be to revert back to your company name.
If you want to debate the issue with them, all I can say is good luck. Google take up to 3 business days to reply, but they often go over that. Also you may have to ask more than once, as their vast support team have a tendency to give copied/pasted answers.
So to conclude, a Google Business Profile can be a potential foot in the door for your business, but you will need to put the work in and just be honest.
If anyone has any questions or can beat my email ping pong record with Google support (2 months), then let me know in the comments.
Going bacGoing back to the lockdown earlier this year, DVH Design was awarded Web Design Service of the year 2021 by the Corporate LiveWire Innovation & Excellence Awards. This was a welcome award and once again, felt unreal.
I shall explain my cynicism: but last year we also won the Boutique Web Agency of the year and sadly this did not feel real. There was no official ceremony and all we had to show for it was a digital certificate.
Last week, I made the journey to Guildford, where I was able to pick up my award. The journey getting there was absolute hell, but worth every agonising traffic jam just to both feel the physical award and get some visual evidence to prove this was all genuine (to me anyway!).
And yes, I do wear a dress sometimes. 😉
I have touched on contact details being on every page (especially if your service is location based), but this page is the go to for all of your contact details.
So include your Business address, phone number(s) and a location map.
You can also provide details about your company location (for example, can people just show up at your address, or do they need to book an appointment?), your business hours, and any links to social media profiles or WhatsApp groups.
Alternatively, instead of an email address, you can also take this time to include an enquiry form so people can contact you directly. If you take this route then you should include:
This outlines how you handle and store any personal details volunteered by your online users and how long you keep it on file for.
So there we have it, a brief rundown of 5 pages that you should be including on your website. Along with the content you should be including to get the best results from your users.
Have I helped? Please let me know in the comments below if you feel I have missed anything.
So far we have given your users content to tell them about you and what you offer, even to the extent of blowing your own trumpet. But not everyone is that spontaneous, so page 4 should really be the page that both backs up your brilliance, and serve the slighly more sceptical visitors to your website.
This might come in the form of testimonials, case studies, a portfolio of your work, before and after shots, the list is endless!
You may have reviews on external sites like Google My Business or Facebook, but don’t be tempted to just provide a link to these pages. Remember, not everyone has an account and you want your users to stay on your website as much as possible. So include your testimonials here.
You can also use this page to display any awards or accreditations: Anything that proves you are a genuine and trustworthy business and not likely to do a runner with anyone’s money.
You have touched briefly onto your product or service on the home page, so it makes sense to include a service page to give your users further details into your products/services.
Remember your users cannot physically touch your products, but well written copy giving details, features, dimensions, additional options can more than compensate for that.
Also invest in a product photographer to take some professional shots of your product to really sell it to your potential customers.
People are impatient online, so make it as easy as possible for your customer to take action right now. So clear buy now buttons, a direct link to a quotation form or simply a link to your phone line enables people to take the right action on your website.
On an e-commerce website, this would be the shop page, where users can search for your product or search for what they would like to buy. These would also include product reviews, which we will look at more tomorrow.
The second page should be used to both tell the user your story and about your business. For example:
Remember the mantra “facts tell but stories sell”.
Come on don’t be shy! 😀 People buy from people so a professional, well taken headshot associates you with your business and builds trust even on a web page. Larger companies normally include this for every key member of their team.
You’ve introduced yourself, now touch on your company: Who are they? How long have you been established? What are your ethics? What makes you different than Fred down the road that sells the same product/service?
If you have a fancy award or an accreditation, here should be the place to add it. Are you an investor in people? A sustainable business? Touch on it here.
I was asked this question last week and it’s given me an idea: Everyone has their own opinion on what should be included on a business website, but if you are stumped for ideas and need guidance, well hey, that’s what I do, right?
Over the next 5 days, I am going to give me top 5 pages and what you really should include content-wise.
This goes without saying. Every website needs a page to begin with. 99% of the time, the home page is the most popular page on your website.
So what should this page include?
Ideally this should feature on every single page of your website (even the 404 page not found). It tells your users that they have come to the right place to see you.
Again having this prominent throughout all of your pages is a no brainer, but if someone has already visited your website and are ready to take action, then make it easy for them by linking them to your shop, subscription button or your phone number or email address.
You can speculate more about yourself in another page, but at least introduce who you are and what makes you different from all of your competitors.
Again are they in the right place? Give an outline of your product/service as well as any images, videos or a good review.
Just text is very offputting, so break it down with a visual of either you, your product or service should feature quite high up on the page. A Smart way of covering a few key points about your business (eg awards, news, products, etc) is to use a carousel (image rotator)
There is a contact page, but bearing in mind this is your home page that your user may have visited before and they want to be able to contact you for more information. Again this should really be on every page of your website.
Love it or loathe it, if you’re requesting personal data from your users or even if you are tracking how people behave on your website (for example Google Analytics) You need to include a consent banner or window throughout your website asking your user if they consent or not.
This is one of the most common questions I get asked when updating a website.
Let’s say you’re working on your website. You have a brand new image in place which should look great on the page, and made a few minor changes to update your content. But then you come to view the live site, and all you see is the same old website. Even clicking refresh doesn’t change anything. Why can’t you see your new content? Ack!
I’m going to get a bit teccie here: When you visit a web page, your browser stores the files from that web page. This includes:
Then if you visit that page again, instead of reloading the entire page again from your server, it uses this file to load the page quickly and reduces the bandwidth and time it takes to load the page from scratch every time.
Unfortunately, if you visit a page constantly and its being updated, the browser still loads the old files. Even refreshing a good few times doesn’t seem to prompt the average web browser. A very frustrating situation when the web designer can see the changes but the customer cannot.
So we need to prompt the browser to ditch its old files and look back on the website to reflect the new changes.
I hope this helps some poor soul out there. Trust me as a web designer, more people need to be aware of this issue.
Every other website I have worked on over the last 5 years has been a WordPress website. I do recommend using WordPress, as it is quite a robust platform and ideal if you are planning on adding and updating the website yourself.
Over the 6 years that I have configured WordPress websites, these are a handful of the plugins that I insist on adding along with the basic platform:
I have used other security softwares in the past, but I find that WP Cerber is quite literally the guard dog of your website. It defends against hacker attacks, spam, trojans and viruses.
Among its other many features, it also gives you an insight into intruder activity onto your website and hardens up WordPress with comprehensive security algorithms, spam protection, bot detection and reCaptcha.
NinjaScanner and NinjaFirewall is another plguin I use to protect websites. NinjaFirewall is a web application firewall that stands in front of WordPress. It can hook, scan, sanitise or reject any HTTP/HTTPS request sent to a PHP script before it reaches WordPress or any of its plugins. It also gives login protection with either a code or logging in twice.
Even directories, sub-directories and scripts outside of WordPress are protected. It can also sync seamlessly with NinjaScanner which scans your blog for malware or viruses.
WordPress in its core form, has no Search Engine Optimisation features. Yoast SEO is one of the best plugins for SEO. You add a page title and meta description for every page, post, product or testimonial on your website. It can also analyse your SEO and readability for each page, Generate XML Sitemaps and verifies your Google Search Console account. There’s also an education center where you can learn to get more out of promoting your web pages.
The premium version’s main features help you rank better with synonyms and related keyphrases, gives real time suggestions for internal links and comes with a redirect manager for deadlinks.
The free software with the basic settings can improve your Google PageSpeed score by about 7 points. The premium version goes further with mobile caching, image optimisation and allows you to delete cache logs.
If your web template doesn’t have one already, an arrow that allows the user to get back to the top of the page with one click goes a long way (especially on a mobile device) WP Front is a simple no-nonsense plugin that enables an arrow at the bottom of each page. It comes with a library of preset buttons or you can upload your own custom button or create one using FontAwesome
Last but never least, UpDraft Plus backs up your web files and database, very handy if you need to undo a change on your WordPress site or if an update breaks your website (this does happen unfortunately). You can also restore previous backups from their control panel.
The free version should serve you well. The premium upgrade gives you automatic backups, a migration feature and automatic backup before updates.
There are many great plugins available to make your website experience better or more adaptable to your needs. I could name many more but these are the essential plugins that tackle, security, SEO and basically cover your back. But a word of warning: Too many plugins on your website will slow down your site performance and makes it vulnerable to security breaches. A rule of thumb would be to not exceed 20 plugins. If however you are on shared or budget hosting, this should be reduced down to 5.
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