About the Author
Sarah is co-director of Malvolio. She brings her creative skills to the business, and loves concept development in commercial projects, illustration, and working on various self-initiated paper craft projects in her spare time.
Category: The Web
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
There are numerous content management systems for websites out there. We use WordPress for our clients’ websites – but why WordPress?
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
The 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.
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!
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.