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.
My own website 🙂
DVH Design has won the CorporateLiveWireAward for Boutique Design Company of the Year 2020.
Assessed by a panel of judges that took into consideration the following for our award:
Heartfelt thanks to all my customers for your ongoing support over the years. We could not have done this without you.
Today is the 19th anniversary of DVH Design. We started in a tiny box room in Black Notley as a part-time business. Initially as a sideline to my administration job and then evolved to keep me sane when I had little children.
During that time we have evolved from a Microsoft FrontPage whizz(?) to learning the web code and scripting. We have also taught ourselves various Ecommerce and CMS packages, particularly Joomla, ZenCart and more recently WordPress.
In addition, DVH Design have also added Search Engine Optimisation (the story of how that came to be can be read here). We have also included Responsive website design, AdWords advertising. More recently, we specialise in helping website owners regain control of their own website. For example when their spouse or former web designer break communication. Sadly this has become commonplace over the last few years.
For that reason alone, we have changed our slogan depending on what fitted the company ethos at the time: We have gone from “Web Design Across Essex”, briefly experimented with “Sites not Sights”. Our now more fitting slogan, “Your Online Superheroes” (which is honestly nothing to do with my love of Marvel/DC films!)
But we could not have done any of this without our customers: These have varied from all works of life and backgrounds and from the novice website owner to serial business owners. Some I’ve worked with for a few months and a good few I have worked with for 15 years. I like to hope I have helped them achieve what they set out to achieve to begin with.
The last 19 years has been a big learning curve, and I know that learning curve will continue for years to come. DVH Design now have an AdWords expert on Board and will shortly include logo design to our services. There are other services that we are looking to include, so watch this space.
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