Website Design Made Simple

Get your own Webwalrus website for free

By Joe Hewes

Webwalrus free websitesWe’ve been designing websites for many years now. Along the way we’ve learned a few things, made a few mistakes. Those lessons we learnt in the early days mean we’ve picked up what we like to think of as a considered and efficient method for creating great websites, which are fast, simple to construct and coded to a high standard.

And now we’d like to give you all this knowledge for free.

That’s right – our method is one that you can take advantage of right now, with no obligation to buy. You can see exactly what software we use to create stunning responsive websites. You can make them yourself. You can even make them for other people. We’ve got a top of the range website builder that means you’ll never have to touch any code. We’ve got the industry standard framework which means you’ll always be up to date. We’ve got an amazing set of pre-made landing pages so that you can easily get going. And if you don’t want any extra bells or whistles you have all this for free.

Honestly – this is an amazing package which you should definitely try out.

So all you have got to do to take advantage of this is to head on over to our sister site – www.webwalrus.uk and sign up for your own free site. Of course we’ll want your email address so we can try and sell you those other bells and whistles I mentioned – stuff like e-commerce, extra storage space, and all those good things. But rest assured you can get going for absolutely free, and keep the resulting website as long as you like at no extra charge.

So there you go – head on over there and try it out.

Joe Hewes – Webwalrus Head Honcho.

The Easy Way To Start An Email Mailing List

By Joe Hewes

The Easy Way To Start An Email Marketing ListA cornerstone of online marketing is the email mailing list. Everybody who is building an online or real-world business should be building email marketing lists to let their existing customers know about current events that relate to your business, relevant offers and generally to keep in touch with your customer base. All of this will add up to repeat business if not now then further down the line. Starting your fist mailing list might sound like a daunting task, but we’ve come up with this quick guide to help you through your first steps down the road to a successful email marketing strategy.

Sign up for a Mailchimp Email Marketing account

There are many different roads to choose from when you first start off with your list, from fully blown marketing systems like Infusionsoft, Green Rope, HubSpot and the like, to more focussed mass email managers like Aweber and our own personal recommendation – Mailchimp. Apart from it’s ease of use, brilliant support and wide recognition – the best thing about Mailchimp for the beginner is it’s completely free starter tier. Being able to get started without any cost is a real boon for the small business owner. If you need advanced features later on there are of course multiple paid for accounts available.

You can sign up for your free Mailchimp account by visiting this link: Sign Up Free

I’ve Got A Mailchimp Account. Now what?

So the best way to start off with your new email marketing strategy is to add your loyal customers in from your existing email programs. British email marketing law states that you can send email marketing to previous customers as long as you ask their permission and the products you are promoting are related to their previous purchases. You can find out more about current legislation for email marketing here. Don’t worry too much about your obligations to provide easy exit routes from the list – Mailchimp will sort all of that out for you.

You may have your contact’s email addresses in Apple address book, Microsoft Outlook or even your online mail accounts. Wherever they are currently stored there is generally an export ’email addresses as .csv’ option. Follow the instructions provided by your email supplier and you should end up with your list of email addresses all inside one neat file. You can find more information on exporting email addresses for use in Mailchimp by following theses links – just choose the one for your choice of email provider:

Export Gmail contacts as csv file

Mailchimp Apple Address Book Importer

Mailchimp Import from Microsoft Outlook

Other ways of building an email list

Moving forward adding emails from your email program into your Mailchimp account is a cumbersome way of operating, so you’ll need to come up with a way to let new customers be added to your mailing list. If you have a website with us here at Webwalrus ask us to fix this up for you. We can add a sign up form to your website anywhere you like. If you are using an e-commerce setup it might be best to give people an opt-in method as they buy. If you have your own website it might be worth checking out Mailchimp’s list of supported methods for adding people to your lists. You can find that at this link: Best practise for building a Mailchimp list. If you just need to add people on to your list one at a time you can do that via Mailchimp’s website. This process might be suitable if you are running a small club or similar where you don’t get a large amount of signups.

You’re all set up!

So there you have it – all set up and ready to launch your first marketing campaign. Now is the time to think about what you want to say to your customers, develop new and interesting content for them to enjoy or tell them about your latest products. We’ll show you how simple Mailchimp makes it to write an attractive email in our next post. In the meantime – let me know if you have any questions by dropping me a comment below.

Cheerio –

J

 

Choosing Photos For Your Website – 3 Top Tips

By Joe Hewes

Choosing photos for your website

Putting your best foot forward and building trust with your customers are two concepts that go hand in hand, particularly when it comes to designing a great website. The very first thing that potential customers will notice when they visit your website are your photographs. So how do you go about choosing photos for your website? Here are our top three tips to help you out.

1. Hire A Professional Photographer

Having professional quality photographs on your site is a must. Have you ever visited a website for a small business, seen some dodgy looking snaps on there and decided against a purchase? I know I certainly have – the consequences of using bad shots for your website can be a very quick loss of sale. In website terms we call this a ‘bounce’ – a visit to a site which results in an immediate exit from your site. So our first piece of advice is to pay for a professional photographer to come and takes some photos for you to use on your website. Makes sure that you can see some samples of their work before you hire them to ensure that they are a good fit for your business. An edgy fashion photographer might not be ideal for your antique furniture business – although this could depend largely on your branding.

A professional photographer can help when choosing photos for your website

A Professional Photographer can prove great value for money

Once you’ve had a look at some portfolios and decided who to use it’s time to formulate a plan. If you are half way through setting up your website, or are looking to change some existing photographs on a standing site, you may already have some idea of what shots you need. If not it is definitely worth planning out what kind pages you are going to be using on your site, and what concepts need illustrating with your new pictures. Once you’ve got this planned out it can still be worth taking a broad range of extra shots whilst the photographer is on your premises that can be used for future promotions and marketing materials to maximise your budget. One important thing to remember before you start is to ensure you know exactly what you are getting for your money – some photographers may charge per ‘developed’ shot, whilst others will hand over the entire digital reel. Whilst having all the photographs may seem appealing (and cost effective) in the first instance, it can lead to ‘information overload’ sucking up your time having to choose the best shots from the thousands of snaps handed over. A good photographer may well choose to develop (digitally process to ensure highest quality) only the best shots saving you a lot of time in the long run.

2. Using Stock Photo Sites

Let’s face it – whilst hiring a professional photographer is the best way to get your photos, not everybody has the time, budget or inclination to hire a photographer. So the fall back plan when choosing photos for your website has got to be using stock shots from one of the royalty free photograph websites. There are numerous sites to choose from, but you will find there is quite a lot of duplication across the sites. If you have bought a Webwalrus site you’ll receive some images included in your plan, the quantity depends on which tier you went for. If you are making your own site you’ll want to make sure you are getting best value for money with your images, so here is one thing to watch out for: always download the correct size image for your purpose. Some of the sites which charge much higher fees for large ‘print ready’ photographs. These for the most part will be unnecessary for the online world and may slow down your website load times. Don’t fall into the trap of downloading the largest file size possible in case of future use. Most licensed photograph purchases will only cover you for a single use case anyway, unless you plump for the most expensive ‘multi-seat’ options. If unsure on your legal status, always check the details of the license you are buying.

There are many sites to choose from that will supply stock photographs, but the ones we generally go for are either: www.depositphotos.com (very reasonable prices for their lower resolution downloads) or www.istockphoto.com (a great range of high quality photos). There are also some free stock photo websites out there but beware, the quality can be low and search facilities bad or non existent. The time it takes to search out a good photo from all the dross will have to be measured against the cost of just buying from a decent site in the first place. If you’re going to try these out we’d recommend this one in the first instance – www.freeimages.com as it is long established, has a good range of photographs and a decent search facility.

When choosing photos for your website a stock photo can sometimes seem a little 'staged'

Stock photos can sometimes seem a little ‘staged’

3. Keep It Real

Being believable and trust worthy is a major aim for any web design project. So ensuring that any images you use fall into this category is a must. Whether you are using a professional photographer, taking the photographs yourself, or falling back on the stock photo websites we need the images to be as reassuring as possible. Here are a couple of things to watch out for:

Using staged ‘scenes’ to illustrate concepts. It can be really easy to spot a set up scene so if you are going to try this it is often best to invite your photographer to a real event rather than setting up the scene for a specific shoot.

Photographs that contain unusual cultural elements.  When you use photographs from a stock photo website there may well be clues in there that this shot wasn’t really taken locally to the business you are trying to illustrate. In outdoor scenes things like telephone boxes, fire hydrants, trams, even the type of clothing may all give away the fact that this isn’t a local photograph. Indoor shots (particularly for retail) often carry shots of people handing over money – so make sure they are using the correct currency for your area.

The Beautiful People. It’s tempting to choose photographs which feature a parade of shiny happy models having a great time. But it turns out that a constant stream of the beautiful people will almost certainly reduce customer trust in your products, as people can easily tell your not living in the real world. Using real people and real customers in your photographs is the perfect way to build customer trust.

Follow these guidelines and you will be well on your way to having some great looking shots on your website. Next steps include making sure they are of correct size and shape for your site, and ensuring that they are carefully tagged and named to improve your onsite SEO. We’ll discuss this in full in a post coming soon. In the mean time let us know how you get on with your photography in the comments below.