Category: The Web

How to avoid having a “2022 website”

I came across this write-up today, and had a bit of a giggle:

A typical website visit in 2022

  1. Figure out how to decline all but essential cookies
  2. Close the support widget asking if I need help
  3. Stop the auto-playing video
  4. Close the ”subscribe to our newsletter” pop-up
  5. Try and remember why I came here in the first place

While we can laugh, it’s also unfortunately an experience that will be familiar with many of you while browsing the internet.

And it’s a problem, because it’s turning away potential customers.

The tough part is that we see businesses get excited for all of these add-ons and moving parts to add to their home page, forgetting that if you blind your customer before they can even reach the main pages of your website, you’ve lost them before you even get to start.

As designers, we are always about taking a minimalist approach – the users experience is incredibly important to us. If you’ve got too much stuff for them to read and close, they’re unlikely to read the real content on your home page that you wanted them to truly connect with.

We highly recommend check out your own websites, and check how many warnings, pop ups and moving parts (eg. auto-play videos and animations) are happening when you first visit your website. Put on a timer and see how many seconds it takes until you get to the text most important to you on your home page. If it’s taking more than 3-5 seconds, then you need to decide what can be culled to make it a more streamlined (and friendly!) experience to visiting your website.

How to keep your website active

Generating content can seem like a daunting prospect to add to your business tasks, but it doesn’t have to be. There are lots of easy ways to keep your website active – many are things you are already doing and can translate well into website updates.

SEO that gets you near the top of the phrases you want to be found for is still very high on the wish list of most small businesses. One of the ways of helping improve (and then maintain) your search ranking is by updating your website regularly.

The main “fallback” to keeping a website up to date is by running a blog, discussing topics relevant to your business. But not everyone loves writing opinion pieces or informative articles – or has a business where this is relevant. The thing is: it doesn’t need to be a blog.

The first thing we always recommend to clients is consider what you currently write in your updates on social media. Usually, you will find a heap of ideas there without even realising – and they are things you are already writing about, so adding them to your website becomes just an operational task, rather than a creative (or draining) one. To simplify it, you could do a weekly feature or review on your website, highlighting one special update each week.

Depending on the type of business you have, the types of updates will vary. The key is that it must be text on a page, not in an image or file (like a PDF).

Some examples of easy things to update on your website include:

  • If you are a retail or product-based business, adding new products to your website (with descriptions and pricing).
  • If you are a sports or gym/exercise business, adding timetables (set up on a webpage, not as a PDF attachment).
  • If you run classes, workshops or events – adding a calendar with your upcoming activities.
  • If you are a hospitality business, add your menus into your website as text (and keep them up to date).
  • If you are a service business, set up a section to feature your recent projects.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully will spark some ideas for easy-to-manage content on your own website.

Selling online: how COVID changed everything

By the second half of 2020, it was understood that we were all going to be stuck in “pandemic mode” for quite some time.

It was hard to watch retail businesses around us struggle, who solely relied on in-store sales. This had worked for them for many years. Even with the shift towards online shopping, they were still making sales so didn’t see the need to sell online. That was, until COVID locked us all into our homes and we were left to ordering on our screens.

We began to have a lot of requests and clients seeking advice on how to sell online. And for some, it was an easy transition – they just had to add a little more information to their websites. However, for some it was a huge transition that took many months of planning: getting their inventory into a digital system, choosing a payment gateway, taking photos of their products, writing descriptions, sourcing suitable shipping or courier options – it was a big task.

However, out of that horrible time of lockdown, we have seen many businesses shine. They have evolved and grown in the process. To now be able to sell online and in-store, to offer different ways of payment, to be found in more places than just a bricks and mortar store. Sometimes adversity has positive outcomes, even if it’s hell to get there.

We think the pandemic has changed how we shop forever. Whether it’s a positive move, only time will tell. But we think there’s a lot of clever innovation and reimagining of businesses that has come from this, which is exciting to watch.

Mailchimp Newsletter Design: Western Port Biosphere

If you have information you want to share with your customers/clients/contacts regularly, one way to do this is via email. One system that is quite popular among our clients is Mailchimp, who use it in various ways to keep in touch with their base.

Western Port Biosphere use it for their Connector Newsletter, a quarterly newsletter of articles about our local biosphere reserve and beyond. We set up a newsletter template for them in Mailchimp, which they access and edit for each newsletter issue. The template includes all formatting and colours, so all they have to do is put the text and images in – rather than worrying about trying to figure out a font name or a colour code!

To keep their newsletter email from being too long, they place the full articles onto their website, and then link those in the email after a short introduction.

On a side note – this is also beneficial for SEO as the articles on the website count towards search rankings – one for relevant content, and one for regularly keeping their website updated.

Website Redesign for Mayko Hair

Mayko Hair’s website became very clunky (for lack of a more technical term!), where it was taking a long time to load, and not all pages were working anymore.

After a deep look at the website, instead of “fixing” the previous website with bandaids, we decided it was a more sound decision to start over. We don’t take this lightly – it’s a big change to do, but often it’s for the best to get a website working as it should once again.

So keeping the same content, we redeveloped the website from the ground up, starting with a fresh install of their content management system, and then designed and coded a new website layout.


Are you getting spammed from your own website?

It might sound like nonsense, getting spammed from your own website – but it’s entirely possible.

Do you have a basic contact form that you get lots of junk mail from? Are they taking time away from your day, sifting through what’s legitimate and what’s spam? It’s that moment you realise that you’re getting spammed.

The good news is that it’s quite easy to fix. Bots scour the internet finding forms they can send spam through, but reCAPTCHA stops them. You know those little check boxes asking to prove that you’re a human on certain websites? Or those grids where it asks you to select all the photos with a car/bridge/stop sign? That’s reCAPTCHA.

It’s simple and quick for us to set up on most websites, so if you’re having spam issues – get in touch.

Other things to consider

A simple one that tricks people into thinking their emails are legitimate is by listing a direct (personal) email address on their website. If your name is in your email address, expect spammers to take full advantage of that. One way to keep an eye on where people are emailing you from is to set up an email address that is only listed on your website, so you know that’s the only place they could have found it. It can be a forwarding email address that goes to one you check regularly, but you will at least see what address was used to contact you.

With your contact form, if you are getting few legitimate enquiries, ask yourself – is the form doing what it should? Do you need to change the questions in the form? Sometimes a “message” box is too general/impersonal, and a few lead-in questions can help people articulate their enquiries. More questions can deter and/or make it difficult for spammers to reach you, too.

Marketing after launching a website

There seems to be a mindset out there that websites automatically bring sales as soon as they are launched. As if the internet is a giant billboard and people will know to visit you.

In reality, nothing is automatic. It’s better to look at your website as just another marketing tool for your business, similar to a brochure, a flyer, your shop/office signage, your social media profiles, etc. With any marketing tool, you need to let people know it’s there – you need to have a plan for it. And the planning is ideally done during the website development phase.

Your website’s purpose defines how you would market your website. Is it a go-to for more information about your business, or is it an online store you want sales from? Are you a new business or an existing business? Who and where are your ideal customers?

It’s the last question that is the most important – this is the space where you need to direct people to your website. This could be through other means, whether social media, advertising, emailing, word of mouth – but the short answer is, you need to let people know that your website exists.

Google will do some of the legwork for you, providing you have used phrases through your website that your customers are searching with. However, your best customers may not be a cold click from Google at all, they might already be interacting with your business in other ways and just need a reminder to start with you.

Give them a reason

The second part of the answer is giving people a reason to visit your website. Explain what they will see, receive or can do on your website. Are they reading about your business somewhere and can find out more information about you? Or can they book an appointment online? Or can they buy your products online? Whenever telling people about your website, think about “what’s in it for them” – give them a reason to visit, not just “hey check out my shiny new website, peeps!”.

Long-term, establish a plan for how to get people to keep coming back to your website, or to keep you in their mind. This might be through email marketing, or following your business on social media (providing you keep it regularly updated). Do you have a service they can keep visiting your website to use, or do you add new information that you can reference?

Having a website is more than just “being online”. It’s an important asset to your business that can evolve and grow with you. It’s everything but automatic – and that’s a good thing, as daunting as that might sound. It’s a space for you to play, to experiment, to offer and share to your customers. A website is a special thing, just remember to let people know it’s there.

Websites and Copyright

Recently, I was chatting to one of our clients about her website content. She was rewriting her website pages, as she felt they were being copied from others in her industry. From this, the conversation about what’s covered by copyright on a website came up.

The Australian Copyright Council has a great fact sheet on this topic (titled “Websites & Copyright”), which is the guidance I’ll be sharing in this article.

Firstly – a website in its entirety is not under copyright, it’s the elements that make the website that are subject to copyright individually, eg. your business logo, photos, illustrations, videos, animations, and text. And generally, most elements that makes up a website will have copyright.

What does this mean?

It means that using text and images from other websites without permission may see you infringing copyright. We see people fall into this trap often and innocently. For example – people don’t realise that Google Images aren’t “free” images, but each image in the search results belong to a website. You need to contact the owner of the original website to seek permission to publish their image on your website.

The best thing to do is use your own images where possible. When that’s not possible, look at stock image libraries, where you purchase rights to use an image.

Text and content is the other part of the equation. Google search is already onto this, by punishing websites who plagiarise text from another website. In short: write your own content. Don’t copy words from another website and hope for the best. There are exceptions to this – if you are citing a reference or quoting (and acknowledging the source), with relevant conversation around the reference/quote (such as a review or news article), that’s okay. Direct copying is the issue. Always best to be original.

How do I protect my own text and images?

According to the Australian Copyright Council, “Any copyright material you create for your website (such as text, photos and artworks) is automatically protected by copyright as soon as it is saved to disk, USB drive, hard drive or otherwise in “material form”.”

So if you are working on text for your website, save a copy of it somewhere other than on your website. This may be in the form of a document or file saved on your computer. This will help identify you as the original writer and publisher of the content, should the situation arise that someone copies your text.

With images, you can make them less appealing for others to use by:

  • adding a watermark on the images;
  • uploading low-resolution versions of your images (making them unsuitable for resizing or printing).

What do I do if someone has copied my text and images?

If you find your text and images on another website without your permission, the first place to start is by contacting the owner and asking them to remove or attribute the works (depending on what you would prefer). If they don’t respond to your request, you can contact the website’s host about the copyright infringement, or seek legal representation to follow it up on your behalf.

Should my business have multiple websites?

For businesses who have a variety of offerings, we are often asked if they should have a website for each part of their business.

If we are talking very different businesses that play no part together – then yes, separate websites make sense. However, if they are related products or services, there is often a lot of benefit in keeping everything in the one place.

Website Management

The obvious part is website management. As a business owner, if you have one central place to log into, one central place to update, it can feel a lot less daunting than having 2 or 3 websites to maintain.


By placing products and services on separate websites can also create a lost opportunity; a potential customer may not get to see something worthwhile to them that you offer if it’s on another website. Ideally, you want to be capturing the attention of a potential customer as soon as they reach your first website, rather than redirecting them to another website where they can begin to lose interest. You have to make navigation easy for your customers.


Another aspect to consider is SEO. One of the things that search engines want to see is lots of informative content, updated regularly. Adding content to one website gives all of the “points” to that website. If you have 2-3 websites, then those points are split across those websites, which is ultimately more work for you.

Even if you think your offerings are too different to be placed together, we can always workshop it and see how they can work in the one website. You might be surprised how it can work.


Website Design in 2019

Website design in 2019 has seen some big advances in supported code, which means we’ve been able to build websites beyond our clients’ dreams.

HTML (the language that is used to build websites) is constantly improving, but it can take years for those new little bits of code to be fully supported. So a new piece of code might only work on the latest versions of a browser. Then we have to wait until the majority of users are on those versions before it’s safe to roll out these new little gems.

2019 was the year this happened; and wow, it has opened so much opportunity. We can do so much more in a mobile-responsive website than we could before, which is great for those folks checking out websites on their devices. And on desktop, there’s a lot more flexibility around positioning content in a layout. Where you would often be stuck with a single text box years ago, now you can have multiple content blocks to choose from – all with their own styling, and all interchangeable.

To be relevant to their audiences, we have built traditional looking websites through to websites with alternative structures than what you would normally expect. For example, one website we built works horizontally, instead of top-down/scrolling.

There has also been a drive towards in-depth information websites, where well-planned navigation, filtering and search options have been incredibly important. The aim of the least clicks to reach the desired information is always at the forefront of our minds when designing and planning a website.

Here are a snippet of websites we developed in 2019.

Rebranding? Don’t let your domain name lapse!

If you’re rebranding, you might decide to change your domain name.

While it might seem like a refreshing or exciting change, here’s a couple of things that can make this tricky:

  • Many customers will have your current email and website address saved as your contact point.
  • Any previous marketing material, business stationery and advertising will still have your current domain name published.
  • Search engines (eg. Google) will have positioned your website address in their search results, based on all of the work you have put into your current website.

So a new domain name means that ultimately, you are starting over online. This might not bother you too much; you might have a new website with completely different information. But if you’re wanting customers to still be able to find you via your old details – don’t let your domain name lapse!

The best thing to do is redirect your current domain name to your new domain name/website. Also make sure to do the same with your email addresses, so no emails are missed.

You might find that people finding or emailing you via your old domain name will dwindle eventually, but still hold onto the ownership your domain name, even if you do stop the redirection. If you ever let ownership go, anyone out there can buy it and set up their own website and email addresses. If they set up the same email addresses that you used, they can potentially receive correspondence from your customers who haven’t updated your details – which can be a huge security risk.

With your website, make sure to redirect all pages on your current website to the relevant page on your new website – not only will this help your customers find you (and not see errors!), it will help the search engines update and replace their results sooner, which helps your business too.

Online forms: one or many?

When converting traditional paper forms to online, it seems logical to create the forms like-for-like. But there’s a lot of hidden power in online forms that’s worth embracing.

One of the situations we occasionally come across is a business who is using multiple forms for their clients. These forms are handed out, based on questions asked, or a particular type of enquiry. But we find that most of those forms ask the same questions, apart from a select few about the topic of the form.

Online, you don’t have to have each of them as separate forms. There’s this clever little thing called “conditional logic”, which we love here at Malvolio. Conditional logic allows you to have one form with many questions – a bit like a “choose your own adventure” book – but without it looking or feeling complicated.

So how does that work?

We basically break up a form into a number of pages, each with a few related questions on each page. Based on what options are selected, the next lot of relevant questions appear. For example: the questions could be based on the location or activity selected.

Conditional logic can also make a very detailed form look simple, which is not always possible on paper. If you have some questions that require more information, the “additional information” fields can appear once your customer has completed the first part of the question – and only show them the fields they need to complete. They won’t need to try to figure out what parts of the form they need to complete.

From a business perspective, conditional logic forms are also easier to maintain. Instead needing to update multiple forms with the same changes or new questions, you only need to update one form – minimising the chance for errors or forgotten updates.

If you have forms you are wanting to get online, and move away from printed forms – contact us and find out what we can do to simplify yours.

Why is my domain name important to my customers?

Choosing a domain name can sometimes be just as tricky as choosing a business name. Your website is an important place for customers to find out more about you, so the domain name you choose needs to be considered.

Here’s a couple of tips:

1. Your domain name doesn’t need to be your full business name.

A great example of this is one of our clients with a long business name, Somerville Myotherapy & Pilates Studio. If they were to do the typical “full name as the domain name”, it would look like this: As you can see, that isn’t very easy to read or use. Instead, they opted for – short, catchy, easy to remember.

2. Your domain name doesn’t need to include your services (or keywords) in it.

In the early days of search engines, using keywords in your domain name was a sure-fire way to push up your website’s ranking. But not anymore – it is now the detail, relevance and regularity of content updates. Your domain name has no weighting on your search engine rankings, so just focus on coming up with one that is relevant to your customers.

3. Does the domain name look okay as part of an email address?

With any domain name you want to register, type it out as an email address too, eg. Is it too long, is it easy enough to read?

4. Can you easily spell it out over the phone?

The previous point follows into this one. Try reading your domain name out loud as a phrase, and as letter-by-letter, if you were to spell it out to someone. This is strangely important because you will be surprised by the amount of times you will need to read it out over the phone, or in person if handing out your email address. Make it easy for yourself, and for others.

5. Can you get matching usernames for other online services, such as social media profiles?

It is always a good idea to check this out before registering a domain name. If you can create a consistent domain name that can  also be the same on social media (and any other online services), you have struck gold. This is not always possible, but worth a try. It looks very neat if you can!

6. Do I need a or .com domain name?

Domain names that end in are only available to Australian businesses, as you need to provide your ABN to register the domain name. There is a level of superiority and security in that, which is not a bad thing. It also positions you within Australia for search engines, which can be handy if you plan on being a part of local location-based searches. Domain names that end in .com are global, and can be registered anywhere in the world. If your business is located in countries other than Australia, this may be the better option.

I hope some of these tips help you in selecting a domain name! If you are still stuck, you can always get in touch with us for more guidance specific to your business.

Using Canva for Social Media

To get the most out of social media, it’s well known that you need to be updating your profiles regularly. For some businesses, that can be as often as every day.

But how on earth do you keep up *that* much content and still keep a consistent brand look? You might not be in a position to outsource your social media management to someone who specialises in it (or you simply may not want to). However, there are some ways of making your social media profiles memorable and look good.

Templates, my friend. And I’m not talking “choose a template that everyone uses and stick to that” – I mean to make your own, unique to your business, and use those (or get a studio like us to make the templates for you to use). Use them freely. Use them often. Readily accessible design programs such as Canva are good for this purpose, as you can set up a range of templates and edit them as needed – and then export the files ready for your social media updates.

What features are important in a social media image template?

Have a look at other social media profiles, and you will begin to get a feel for the different types of posts businesses do: some may be action photos, some may be product shots, others may be images solely of text (such as a quote).

The consistent feel should include a set colour scheme and a small collection of fonts. If you already have marketing material or stationery, look at the fonts and colours on those as your starting point. Social media is an extension of your brand – so treat it as if a potential customer sees your brochure first, and then goes onto your social media profile – does it look like the same business?

If you are keen to use illustrations or icons in your social media updates, make sure they have a consistent style too. Think of it this way: if a follower was to grab any three images from your social media profile, would they match? Or would they look like three different businesses?

One template sounds boring?

When it comes to templates, one template would not cut it. You will likely need to set up a number of templates. A list of examples:

  • Image with a quote/saying
  • Image with a paragraph
  • Image with an important notification
  • Image with your website address included
  • Photo with a caption

Also consider the colours and lighting used in your photos – do they look and feel consistent? This can be tricky if you’re not confident with a camera, but do try your best – it all counts.

Why aren’t people buying from your online store?

You’ve set up an online store, everything seems to be working…but you’re not getting sales. What’s happened?

We’ve all got stories of being had by a salesperson at some point. We then read the horror stories of shoppers buying online and not receiving what they ordered. As shoppers, we all have a little bit of fear that we’ll be giving our money away for nothing online – and this can be a huge stopping point for some stores.

How can you avoid this fear in your shoppers? Build trust.

Sure. Easy, maybe not. How?

There’s a lot of small things that you can do which build trust online:

  • Make sure to include a physical address, a contact number, an email address, social media links. The more contact details you have available for a customer, the safer they will feel knowing that they can contact you.
  • Make your pricing clear. Don’t say “starting from” and then have the customer find the price is far, far higher. You will lose their trust straight away. Try to keep pricing specific as much as possible.
  • Include photos of you and your workspace. Make it human and personalised. Customers want to know who is behind the business, and who is making the products.
  • Make sure that you are using a registered domain name, eg. instead of – you can see which one looks more professional and trustworthy.
  • Use social media. Include photos of your process, of orders you are working on, of products you are making. Use social media to interact with potential customers. You may even start to receive reviews online and that will help build trust with customers too. If they can see that others are happy with their purchases, that will build their confidence in purchasing from you too.

Sarah: my history with webdesign

A personal post today: how did I get into webdesign?

I grew up in a house without a computer. We didn’t get a computer until I was in year 9, when the school I attended required students to type their essays instead of handwriting them. However, I had already been going to the local internet cafe every day after school, making the most of my hour on the net. We are in the year 2000, by the way.

During that hour each day, I found Yahoo groups. I soon realised these could be customised with colours and your own images. I worked out what HTML colours meant and got customising. As soon as I had my own computer at home, I started using Jasc Paint Shop Pro (memories!) and designing my own banners. Terrible now, but it was the beginning of my career and I had no idea.

Yahoo Groups were boring. I wanted to do more. I idolised fan websites of my favourite TV shows and bands, and wished I could be as creative as that. I wanted to learn to create what they had created. I wanted to do MORE than what they were doing. I had to learn HTML.

You can laugh now, but I actually started at A daggy website now, but back then it was exactly what I needed. I soaked in every page, followed every tutorial. What Lissa Explains It All couldn’t offer, I did additional tutorials over at Webmonkey (no longer online). I started building my own websites – fan websites, personal websites, websites for friends…whatever I could do. I hated how basic HTML was on its own, so I picked up CSS along the way, adding some Javascript and CGI scripts for even more features.

I was learning, yet I didn’t realise how much I was learning. That was until year 10: we had a project to code a website in IT class. I already knew how to. It was surreal. I had only owned a computer for less than a year and I could already build websites from scratch. I ended up showing all my classmates how to add scrolling marquees and blinking text (thank goodness neither of those are in anymore!), until my teacher got really frustrated and gave me a Javascript textbook to learn from instead.

There was no turning back. By now, I was fully capable of editing photos, creating unique layout designs, making pixel art. I learned so much about colour schemes and typography during this time, too. So I kept creating. I kept coding. I kept building new websites as often as I could.

I tried out designing Flash websites, and while that was also fun – I’m grateful it wasn’t to be forever. I loved solid code.

Fast forward a few years later, we had started to move away from tables and into div layers. Oh how excited I was (#nerdtalk). The possibilities were opening up. And then there were content management systems. I had dabbled in ASP early on while managing a few existing websites…but then there was PHP. And how I fell in love with the possibilities. It changed everything about webdesign: no longer would a website need to be static or fully managed by someone who knows code. A website could be custom designed, and someone else with basic editing skills could maintain the content. This was the biggest turning point.

From there, coding and learning and developing continued. By the time I graduated university, I already had many paid webdesign projects – I don’t remember how it happened, but it snowballed and became a big part of my work.

11 years later, and webdesign is now a major portion of our studio. I am still constantly learning new code, and designing websites for our clients is just as much of a joy now as it was all the way back in the beginning. You know, I didn’t even realise what I was doing was “designing” when I was 15. I was just having fun!

WordPress Plugins: Why Less is More

Not only do we build websites from scratch, but we also help redesign or improve existing websites, primarily on WordPress. We always focus on setting up suitable plugins for each website.

WordPress can be great, both from a developer perspective and even a DIY perspective. But it has one ironic downfall: you can add a plugin to do nearly anything. The WordPress plugin library is nothing short of gigantic. Which means we regularly see DIY websites with a large amount of plugins installed.

There’s a balance to using plugins: choosing ones that work best with your needs, ones that are updated regularly, and not using too many. More plugins = longer loading time = slower website. Incorrectly set up plugins can also slow your website down, or be incompatible with other plugins.

The other trap we often see people fall into, is using additional plugins to “fix” things that just need some coding done, rather than a whole plugin. As a guide, we generally try to keep an average-sized website to use no more than 5-6 plugins at most (and less where possible).

Less plugins mean:

  • Less chance of your website breaking
  • Less areas of your website that need updating/monitoring
  • Less items to load on each page (faster website)

Less plugins also gives you more control, knowing what you have installed – rather than having a whole library of plugins and not understanding why they are all there.



Website design in 2018

Website design is a large part of Malvolio, and it’s probably the most changed. Website design feels “new” to us every year – there is always something new to learn, something new to add.

I remember when I started designing websites back in 2001, and was simply in awe with what is very basic code today. I saw that the possibilities were endless then, and I still look at website design the same way today – with fresh eyes every year.

So what has 2018 brought us in website design?

Websites on Mobile Devices

The move to mobile devices is done, it’s here. If you’re not already accessible on mobile, you’ve missed the boat and need to get onto it ASAP. It’s not even an option anymore (which strangely, was the case only a few short years ago). The expectation is that your full website will be available on mobile, not an abridged version. This includes forms and online stores working the same on desktop as on mobile.

Ecommerce/Online Stores

Businesses are taking online stores far more seriously. While they did become accessible budget-wise in recent years – especially with the rise of DIY services such as Shopify – online stores were still being treated as a sideline to a business. There was expectation that “you build it and they will come” in the ecommerce space, which it’s now that people realise this is not the case. Marketing your online store is just as important as marketing every other aspect of your business. We have seen a huge move towards businesses really taking the reigns of their online stores and making them successful.

AfterPay has become very popular to add into online stores this year, too.

Security, SSL Certificates and SEO

Although it was all the way back in 2014 that Google mentioned security on websites was beginning to be used as a ranking signal, it hasn’t been until this year where it’s had a marked affect. When Google announced that they would begin marking all HTTP websites as non-secure in Chrome from July, this seemed to set off a worry for a lot of website owners and the SEO industry.

For our own clients, we offer a basic SSL certificate automatically on all hosting accounts/websites, which means your website will show as secure on all browsers.

Multi-section Website Layouts

Multi-sections on pages has had a steep rise. In previous years, at a very basic level, each page would generally have a header, a block of text and photos, and a footer. Now this “block of text and photos” regularly includes blocks of text, all sectioned and describing different things. Each section often links to another more detailed page. These sections are much more designed than previous, making websites far more aesthetically pleasing from top to bottom. This trend started with single-page websites, but is now across even the largest of websites with clever navigation planning.

What will 2019 bring in website design? We are looking forward to finding out!


Interactive location search for No Lights No Lycra

New section launched on No Lights No Lycra’s website for their locations. They have over 50 sessions running worldwide (most are weekly), and outgrew the list they used to use.

It is now an interactive map showing all locations. Users can search for their own location by postcode, a list of locations or navigating through the map. It’s such a big change from what they had before!


Mobile-responsive case study: Emma Tomlinson

We designed and built Emma’s website all the way back in 2012, before mobile responsive websites were a common thing. The website design hasn’t changed (it’s standing the test of time!), but the lack of mobile responsiveness was becoming a problem. So we’ve now upgraded it to be the same design and mobile responsive.

Mobile users always prefer a website that fits on their screen with no effort – make sure your own website is easy to view on mobiles. Search engines are also known for ranking mobile responsive websites above non-mobile friendly websites. In some cases, a non-mobile website will not even appear in mobile search results.

If you have a website you still love, but doesn’t fit on mobile devices, get in touch – we might be able to convert it for you!

Online Store Development

The Pawfect Pet Foods Delivery Co are a fellow Somerville business, who came to us wanting to build an online store.

They were taking orders manually – in-store and via email – but felt there had to be an easier way. They wanted to automate the ordering process. So an online store was built. Their entire menu of raw pet foods is listed on their website, available to order in 1kg batches. The online store has also made it possible for add-ons during ordering, such as adding veggies to selected dishes.

As Pawfect Pet Foods deliver Victoria-wide, they have varied delivery prices. The checkout process automatically works out which delivery area they are within, and sets their delivery fee accordingly. Before their online store was launched, they worked this out for each order manually.

The online store also has the ability to create coupon codes for selected customers to use. Coupons can be set for single use, for only selected email addresses, selected products, and more – making them versatile. Much easier than trying to figure out a discount at the counter!

Other pages on their website include meal plans, useful guides such as meat/weight percentages, and happy snaps of their furry friend customers.

Why do we use WordPress?

There are numerous content management systems for websites out there. We use WordPress for our clients’ websites – but why WordPress?

Popular System

Being supported by a huge community of developers, there is a lot of benefit in using a widely popular system:

  • It is automatically updated regularly, keeping it secure and current with modern browsers.
  • There are a lot of plugins available to extend the functions of your website. Things such as forms, online stores, social media connections, etc are easy to add.
  • Those plugins are also regularly updated from their developers to keep in line with the main system updates.
  • While we provide customised how-to guides and one-on-one training for each client, there is an abundance of guides, articles and forum conversations publicly accessible online too.

Easy to Update

WordPress has one of the most simple user interfaces we’ve come across. For those clients who still might feel overwhelmed, the user interface can be customised even further to the most basic set of buttons. It’s easy for anyone to maintain; I normally refer to that if you are familiar with typing a document in Microsoft Word, you’ll be able to use WordPress (there are a lot of familiar formatting options).

There are also nifty little features, such as autosave while you’re typing, a dynamic word counter, and even the ability to schedule pages and posts to publish on a set day and time.

Easy to Expand

We work with a lot of start-up businesses who don’t need a large website initially, but have plans for expanding later on. WordPress is one of the most friendly systems I’ve ever worked on to expand a website. Whether it’s adding new pages to the menu sometimes, or to the extreme of adding a full eCommerce store, the system not only makes it possible, but keeps it simple.

Good for Best Web Practices and SEO

“Best web practices” likely doesn’t mean much as a phrase to you. It’s all the background stuff you can’t see, but makes the user’s visit a pleasant one – such as a page loading quickly, or a page easy to read on mobile and desktop.

With WordPress, you’re not limited to a selection of templates. We custom build each layout, not only to keep it unique to your business, but also to keep the code neat and tidy. A well-built website also has the benefit of improving your opportunities with SEO. WordPress has turnkey SEO tools to help you make the most of your keywords and content too.

No Ongoing Licensing Fees

WordPress, at its core, is a free system. You don’t have to pay a fee to use WordPress, or to receive updates. The only part you pay for is the development/customising of your website, which is a one-off cost. Quite a few content management systems have monthly or annual fees for simply using their system – but not with WordPress. This makes it a sustainable long-term solution for developing websites.

We can convert websites from other systems into WordPress. If you’re feeling limited by your current system, you can contact us to discuss your options.

SEO: it all comes down to content

Good search rankings on Google come from a lot more than using keywords – the content that surrounds the keywords is just as important.

When it comes to search rankings, you need to look at Google as “match or better my competitors”.

In 2018, the things Google looks for:

Content Density

The goal is a minimum of 150 words per page on a set topic. 300 words is preferred, 600 words is ideal. Don’t treat content as an essay – use lots of subheadings so there’s no more than 100-200 words under each heading.

Regular Updates

Adding new content to your website regularly is integral to ranking in search engines. There was a move away from ranking historical websites a few years ago, so now the most recently updated websites fare better. Updating existing content on a page can help, but it’s adding new pages that has the most impact.

Our general recommendation is to update your website with a new page at least once every 2-4 weeks, but it really depends on your competitors websites who are ranking for the same keywords. You need to match (or better) how often they update their own websites. If they all add a new page weekly or daily, then that would also be your goal.


Internal links: Google looks for pages linked to each other that are related to the same topic – it uses this to decide if a website is a collective of information or a once-off source. For example: if you have a page that discusses a product found on your website, make sure to link any references of that product to its own page.

Backlinking: is not as popular as it used to be, as Google now takes a lot more into consideration when ranking a website. If you want to build backlinks (as they do still hold value in rankings), ensure that the websites who are linking back to you have an excellent page rank and a low spam score.

Total number of pages

From our personal experiences, we have found that Google will rarely rank a website less than 5 pages in size. 5 pages is the bare minimum however. When you look at your top-ranking competitors, review how many pages are on their websites – that will give you a fair idea of what you need to match or better to be in a similar position to them.

While this is all relevant now, it will be interesting to see the changes over the next 6-12 months. Google is often changing their algorithms, but we have a feeling that content will always be the main driver of website rankings. After all – we visit websites for information, that’s the core reason for websites to exist!

Google Adwords: Lead Generation

Did you know that we can also help you and your business with Google Adwords lead generation campaigns? We were approached by Benton Insurance Services to develop a turn-key ‘lead generating’ solution for their business.

Farm Insurance Online was founded and we worked closely with Benton Insurance Services to create a Google Adwords campaign that delivers potential leads from Google search directly into a website which we custom developed. The website captures critical lead generating data about the customer before being transmitted directly into Benton Insurance Services business systems for immediate staff follow-up and potential business transaction.

If you’re looking for something like this to help give your business a bit of a boost, feel free to chat to us to see how we can help.

Maintaining a website: the launch is not the end

One thing we find that a lot of people still don’t realise is that once a website is launched, that’s not the finish – if anything, it’s really the beginning of looking after a living and breathing publication.

Testimonials page – website designThe thing is, you can keep adding new pages and new features. A great example of this is Safecom Security’s website. Their website has been running for over a year now, and the newest feature we’ve added is a reviews/testimonials page. The client is able to add reviews as they receive them, plus there’s a section on the page for customers to also leave a review.

Another example is on the No Lights No Lycra website, where we recently added a Gift Tokens page. On this page, visitors can purchase gift tokens to use at No Lights No Lycra sessions, which offer discounted entry.

The goal with a website is to keep it current, keep it relevant. Sometimes this may be from adding new information (or updating existing information), or it may be adding a new feature that adds benefit to your customers while visiting your website.

Expanding a website

Orbit Plumbing is a local plumber in Somerville, who started with a small 5-page website. Their website has now evolved into something much bigger!

Orbit Plumbing first started by just wanting an online presence, which is a regular request from tradespeople…but while a one-page website is great for contact details, it doesn’t cut it when it comes to being ranked in search engines. So we built a small 5-page website as a starting point for them.

After a few months, they wanted to work on SEO, making their website show up higher for local plumbing searches. Because the website was set up for growth, adding new pages and new content was an easy task – so the time could be spent on writing good content, instead of being concerned about how to expand the website.


Then Orbit Plumbing opened up a new arm of their business: Orbit Plumbing Products Online, which is an online store selling plumbing products and the opportunity to book installation with those products. The online store was easily added onto the existing website, following the same layout with some new features and customisation added in.

So they started with 5 pages, and now have a website with over 200 pages of services and products which is constantly updated. It’s been amazing to watch the growth of their now not-so-small (but still local) business!

Adwords vs SEO – there is a difference!

We’ve been getting a lot of enquiries lately about Google Adwords, and how it can help get a website to rank at #1 on Google…so I think it’s time to explain the difference between Adwords and your website ranking on Google!

I completely understand that there are so many buzzwords out there, on top of heaps of offers including all these weird acronyms and fancy names. And then there’s all the spam emails and phone calls where a person speaking to you from overseas says they can get your website to the top of Google (we even regularly get them, a pretty funny phone call to receive but still frustrating all the same).

But what this article is about is the difference between Adwords and search engine optimisation (SEO).

The short of it is:

  • Adwords is paid advertising.
  • SEO is about having your website set up with detailed headings and descriptions, along with regularly publishing informative content.


Adwords can put you right at the top of search listings, but you will only remain there for as long as you continue to pay for the ads. The ads don’t always appear in every search, depending on how much your daily Adwords budget is set at (eg. if it’s $20, when it reaches that limit the ad will stop appearing until the next day).

Adwords also requires you to “bid” on how much you want to spend per visitor to your website (PPC = Pay Per Click), or per view in search results (CPM/PPI = Pay Per Impression). So if you’re trying to rank for a very popular phrase and other businesses have put in higher bids than you, your listing will not be at the top…or if you want it to be at the top in a popular search, you could be paying anywhere upwards of $3–$5 per visitor to your website.

Adwords can be a great short-term solution in some instances, but we find works best if you have a special promotion happening, rather than just linking straight to your website. It can become very expensive if used long-term.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

SEO is about working on your website so Google sees it as an informative resource, and ranks it accordingly without needing to pay for advertising. If you ask a website company to manage and write content on your behalf, there can be costs involved, but it is something that can be managed in-house too.

SEO does require a website to be built as lean as possible, where Google can find the text on the page easily and be able to see titles, headings and paragraphs quickly. It’s also worth remembering that Google can’t see images, and can’t read text in images either – so it’s the information you type into your website that’s most important.

Writing a blog about topics relevant to your industry and business is one way of generating content – each new blog entry is seen as a new page on your website, and as long as it’s well-written, it will usually be picked up by Google in a matter of days (sometimes hours). Each additional page created, as long as it’s relevant to what the entire website is about, can help your search rankings.

Search rankings based on your content, rather than Adwords, also hold their place for a lot longer, providing that you continue to update your website regularly. Sometimes it will take a few months to make a difference, and your website may not go to #1 straight away, but if you work at it and keep putting great information out there, the results can be fantastic.

How technology is changing customers

In the past few years, how customers interact with a lot of businesses has changed, mostly due to the changes in technology. We are now immersed in social media, online shopping, and having everything pretty much a few clicks away. This has provided so many more choices to customers, but it’s also an exciting shift when it comes to communication design, because it also provides so many more opportunities for businesses to share their story.

Social media allows businesses to share a little bit of “behind the scenes” – things that normally wouldn’t be put into a formal brochure or website. Personal stories add depth and a connection between business owners and their customers, especially for small businesses. It’s not just about what the business sells anymore, but how and why. Customers have definitely become more inquisitive – it’s a lot less about just randomly walking into a store or picking something off a large catalogue website.

The changes with what’s possible online hasn’t just created places for reviews and counting how many followers (or likes) a business has – but allows customers (potential, current and past) to interact with businesses without needing to call or visit. And when they find images they love, customers share them online with their own friends and followers – almost becoming brand reps without you realising.

The changes have also opened up so many options to customers to customise their experience with businesses – whether they want to visit in store, place orders online, pick up the phone or touch base via messages on social media.
With the use of social media and with customers having so many more options available to them, there has also been a big increase in personalised orders for products. Whether it’s choosing colour options for an existing product, or getting to create something using their own photos, or asking for something completely customised based on other products a business has made, customers have a much greater say in making their purchases customised to their preferences.

While this may seem daunting for some businesses – as it can turn what was a product based business into a service business – this is an exciting step in connecting with customers. It means that business owners have to think about how they promote their products and services in different ways than before, but the feedback and interaction with customers (both potential and past) is an asset that we’ve never had access to before.

Webfonts have been changing the world of webdesign

We LOVE designing websites. There’s something wonderful about the process and then launching a website that is always rewarding. It’s little things, like finding out what a client wants their website to do and say, and then creating a layout design and functions that make it all happen.

One thing that has really changed webdesign over the past few years is the access to embedded webfonts. Originally, us webdesigners had to choose fonts carefully (and pretty much were limited to this list) – we had to choose fonts that every type of computer user (Mac and PC) would have installed on their computer. If we chose a font that they didn’t have installed (even if we did), they wouldn’t see it on their computer. And we all know how boring Times New Roman can be as a default font, designer or not!

We could have made headings as images in the fonts that a client was after, but that also wasn’t (and still isn’t) suitable as it would make a website slow, plus screen readers and search engines can’t read images, which cuts out quite a few visitors.

But embedded webfonts have changed this, allowing a myriad of different fonts to be used on websites. An embedded font is one that loads on the website each time, and a user doesn’t need to have it already installed on their computer. This has helped a lot of businesses be able to have their website branded in the same fonts as all of their other items, such as letterheads, brochures, signage and more. It also helps give each website their own style and differences from other websites – which was a task when there were less than 10 safe webfonts years ago, and now we have thousands available through embedded webfont libraries. It’s things like this that make designers like us very excited and very happy!

Mobile responsive websites

One aspect of webdesign that people are asking us about more and more is mobile responsive websites, so I thought I’d do a bit of an introduction on the what, why and how.


Now that most of the world seem to spend a lot of their time using their mobile phones for more than just making calls, websites are often looked at on those tiny little devices. I won’t deny that it’s super-convenient while you’re out to look up a business on your phone – it might be as simple as checking out their opening hours. It’s even more handy when the website is set up to be easy to view and navigate on a mobile.

When viewing websites became a thing to do on mobiles, it was standard to create a completely separate “mobile sized” website. These mobile websites often had different content to the main website, and often caused a double-up of having to update the content on both websites whenever information changed.

But HTML and CSS (the coding used for websites) has come a long way, and now it’s possible to create one website that morphs and resizes to suit the screen it’s being viewed on – and this is what is meant if you ever hear someone throwing the phrase mobile responsive into a conversation.

We are continually building websites with mobile responsiveness now, as well as converting existing websites to becoming mobile responsive. It’s a very important thing to note – you usually do not need a whole new website layout for it to become mobile responsive. So you can keep the website you love, but make it accessible for everyone, no matter what type of device they are viewing it from. Technology advances are amazing and wonderful in one!

Duro-Lenz: Website

Duro-Lenz are a promotional label printer, with a focus on distinctive branding.

Duro-Lenz has had an online presence for many years, but they found themselves stuck halfway between a website that would rank very well on search engines, versus a website that visitors could find the information they were after.

The project began by going through what content was to stay, and what was to change. But that was only one part of the conversation – there was also discussion about what information people asked for most often, to find out what wasn’t already covered. This helped streamline customer enquiries with relevant information now accessible on their website.

Other new features include detailed request a quote forms, a quick-view gallery and email newsletter implementation.

Ranking on search engines also wasn’t forgotten; a new approach was taken as SEO has dramatically changed over the past few years.


Content is king when it comes to SEO

More than ever, we are having clients asking how they can get a higher ranking in search engines (primarily Google).

While there are a lot of things you can do for helping a website’s ranking or SEO (search engine optimisation), none of them will be as helpful as good, authoritative content. Gone are the days where putting heaps of keywords somewhere on the page will push you up the list…nor getting backlinks from hundreds of other websites.

The other thing is that words are good – but just by using the key phrase you want to rank for on your page or in your heading isn’t enough. It needs to be followed through with real, human written information. The Google bots have gotten very clever at knowing when something is fake, and they do punish websites harshly – whether being demoted down the rankings or being removed from search results completely.

It might take time to build up relevant content for your website, but it’s worth it. Most websites these days do have access to be edited easily, or to add blog entries, news or articles to – so make sure to use them to their full advantage.

One of the tips we give our clients is to write up information they would like to put on their website into Word documents – could be updates, good news stories, reviews…whatever is relevant to their industry and what their customers are looking for. Then when something is ready, it can be published on the website. It also helps those who are a little busier to create a collection of entries (usually for blogs), and then put them online throughout the year – and if they’re busy at the time, they don’t have to spend time trying to write on the spot when they’re occupied with running their business.

Content is king!

Do I really need to have a website?

The short answer is yes.

Every business needs to be online in some kind of form today. It’s becoming less of a luxury and far more of a necessity.

At the least, you probably have a Yellow Pages online listing (even if you started in the print versions only, they’ve converted everyone across to online for free). You may also have some other business directory listings (such as True Local and Hot Frog), but these only give you space to provide your name, phone and a brief overview of the business. Not an ideal selling tool; only good for someone searching for you who has forgotten your phone number.

Did you know that we hit the 10.5 million mark for internet subscribers in Australia in 2011? That’s half our population (in other words, a fair few people)! If you don’t have a current online presence, you’re missing out on a huge market.

A lot of Australians now search online before making purchases. Sometimes they’ll go in-store to finalise the purchase, other times they will just buy straight off the website. If you’re in retail, have you considered how online sales are impacting your business? Otherwise, have you thought about how to promote your business online to encourage people to visit your store?

This also means for local service-based businesses, you’ve got more than your local counterparts as competition now. People can search far and wide online before picking up the phone to the closest business in location – technology is making it possible to transact all kinds of business from far and wide.

So make sure your online presence is presenting your business at its best. Make sure your directory listings are complete, your social media profiles are updated and your website looks amazing. Remember, most first impressions are now made online, and first impressions count.