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First Impressions – last

So I want to talk about emails today – yes those dreaded things that we rely on so much but don’t always give a great deal of thought too – until it all goes so horribly wrong!

Now I have a personal issue with some email accounts these are namely hotmail/yahoo/AOL – don’t get me wrong when they started it was great that people could get email for free! However nowadays these are often used for/by spammers to attack your systems and avoid detection.

So what do you think happens when you send someone an email or they see your email address and it says @hotmail.com – would you think twice about emailing them?

Did you know that when you purchase a domain name www..com you can then get a matching email address to; @.com – now isn’t that just a bit smarter than hotmail or yahoo??

For years I blocked all yahoo emails as they were constantly targeting system with spam and viruses – and even these days I limit which yahoo email accounts get through.

So are there any free email accounts that are ok? If you run a business then sadly I am going to be strict on this and say no!

However for personal – yes try @gmail.com

So maybe you look at your own email address? What is it telling people about you?

Thanks
Sarah

£100 websites – do you get what you pay for?

Simple answer is yes – you get what you pay for.

There are a few adverts on TV these days that talk about creating and setting up your own website – simply and easily – and for a very low price.

Obviously this is not something I want people to do – so obviously I will say its wrong! However instead I will give you my thoughts on these types of services – the pros and cons!

Sometimes the simple answer is you get what you pay for – so the cheapest price means you will get a cheap website. Cheap isn’t always good though.

There have been sites around that will design a website and create it for you for £100 for years and the sad fact that is on the surface they don’t look that different from a website that cost someone say £800. So how as a user would you know!?

Website are created using HTML or code and that is where these cheap sites come into play, the CODE or HTML is very important – why? well because the search engines read that code and depending on how its been written – what content is available for the search engine to read – will depend on our you get “ranked” ie 1st on Google!!

Now some of these cheaper one don’t use good code, correct code or even updated code – that all effects the search engines – and hey what good is a website if it just doesn’t get found!

So sometimes its worth paying a little bit more or a website – because after all that website is the window into your business – if it doesn’t work or looks bad then you could be putting off customers!

You wouldn’t give out a crumpled business card after all!

Or would you??

That is for next time
Thanks
Sarah

CTRL-C, CTRL-V, CTRL-W – Shortcuts what do they all do!

My Top Ten

Keyboard shortcuts are a great way to get things done much quicker.

Who needs a mouse these days!!

So here are some of my top keyboard shortcuts!

CTRL-C – Copy
CTRL-V – Paste
CTRL-X – Cut
CTRL-W – Close (this works for most applications from browsers upwards!)
CTRL-S – Save
CTRL-P – Print
CTRL-A – Select All
CTRL-B – Bold
CTRL-I – Italic
CTRL-U – Underline

So what shortcuts do YOU use?

Want your own blog?

This Blog is using WordPress software which is FREEware software that anyone can use and download.

But what is a blog?

Basically a blog is like an online diary – it allows you to vent/write or just keep in touch with your customers, friends, family and anyone really!

Why write a blog?

Like everything these days – there is no point having a website if no one can find it
No point having a product if no one can find it or read about it

This is where a blog can come in really handy – its simple and easy to write and update – you just have to invest in some time!

But the best thing is that you can link it to other social media links – like twitter, facebook, bebo, youtube etc etc and generate a really good online presence for you , for your company or for a product – or all three!

what do I write?

You need to make a decision from the start as to what your blog is about – personal or professional? Then stick to that theme – the rest – well a brain dump that has been tweaked usually works.

Write about what you know – what you are passionate about – whats in the news – the options really are endless!

But once you start writing you do have to keep up with it – who would want to read a blog 6 months or even 1 month out of date!

Want to know more – well keep reading!

Thanks
Sarah

Hosting – what is it and where do I get it?

Hosting is like renting space on a computer in the never-never that you then “put” your website files onto – which allows everyone to see it. Again you only ever rent your hosting (you can actually buy it but that is very expensive and not required for most small businesses). Hosting is usually purchased on a monthly, quarterly, six monthly or yearly basis. Costs can vary.

Buy cheap – get cheap!

I use 2 different hosting companies – Stream Networks and KDA Web Services. But I can also work with other hosting companies if you have already purchased it.

There are two main types of hosting, Unix and Windows (Unix is usually cheaper and better whereas Windows uses Microsoft software so the costs can be higher.) Most small business find Unix perfectly acceptable.

You also have the choice of virtual or dedicated, virtual hosting means you share a computer with 50/100 other companies, and the price is pretty small – or dedicated which means you have the computer just for yourself, the costs are higher but you don’t need to worry about anyone else making a mistake on your “computer”. Again most small business virtual hosting is the norm and perfectly acceptable.

What are bandwidth, web space and data transfer?

Hosting, like most things online, do have a lot of jargon, below are a few simple layman explanations:

  • Bandwidth – this is effect by the number of people that look at your site and also how many images or “downloadable” item on your site. The more popular your site the larger this number should be.
  • Web space – how many files and images you need to create your website, unless you have a large ecommerce site or lots and lots of images to display then usually this is not an issue.
  • Data transfer – is also linked to bandwidth but is also used up by your emails and also how much you upload and download data to your site.
  • PHP/ASP – these are all languages that are used to create websites.
  • MYSQL – this is a database facility online – great for ecommerce or content managed websites

Still confused? Well no need to worry contact me and I will sort it all out for you – at the best possible price.

Copyright 2007 – whoops 2012 please

So did your website switch over to 2012 without you having to do anything or did you have to edit every single page manually!

You will see many sites that have incorrect copyright or date information at the bottom – just think if you were buying from a website and saw “copyright 2007” on it – would you still buy from them?

Possibly not!

So don’t expect your own customers to purchase from you if your date is well – out of date!

Its very easy using PHP to ensure that your date is automatically updated for you; just insert

instead of 2012 – and that PHP code will pull the current YEAR only of the actual date – cool!

Please note this will only work on pages that have PHP enabled

If you don’t know if this is posisble for your website – give me a call or comment and I can check for you

So don’t stay in the dark ages!
Thanks
Sarah

Accessilibilty

A bit of a buzz word but also pretty important, so what does it mean? Accessibility is basically how easy to use the website is. And this doesn’t only mean simple navigation, number of clicks – but also whether its viewable to people with speech browsers, text only browsers as well in different browser types – Internet Explorer, Firefox and others.

Not every website that looks good – works well too, only by using good practices, up to date standards and code does this happen. You should always employs these on every website and if you want to add something to your site that might impinge on this – its always worth thinking hard about it.

just because you like it doesn’t mean your customers will

I know why wouldn’t people like flashing imagery – or scrolling text – or even text that scrolls across the screen! When you only have 3 seconds to convince a potential new customer that you are worthy of their money, do you really want to dilute that impact with potential distractions on your website?

Never forget that the customer might never have seen your products before – unlike you will know them inside out!

A bit like buying a rental property its worth thinking about your customers needs as well as yours.

Ecommerce – Buy Online

Ecommerce is a great thing – it means you can shop from the comfort of your own home at your own time. Whilst you might not get the personal 1-2-1 services from some shops – buying online lets your product get to SO many more people!

But you must get it right! next time you buy something online – or maybe decided not too – think why? Why did you not buy from X website but you did buy from Y? Those are the things that make an ecommerce website good rather than bad. Customers get bored, get frustrated and they don’t know your products like you do! So you make your website

  • Easy to navigate
  • Quick to navigate – not too many clicks
  • Obvious on where to find things
  • Search facility in case you are not sure what you are looking for
  • A site map to jump straight to what you want

All of these things make your customers’ shopping experience better, the better the experience the more they will come back – the more they will tell others!

What’s in it for you?

Money – no really the better the site works the more orders you get BUT the added extras are what counts too, here are just some of the standard items we use for online stores – all from a click of a button!

  • You can edit every product item, you can hide product items, you can copy product items and duplicate them,
  • You can easily create new categories and products on the fly,
  • You can also apply sales across the board or per category or per item. Each sale is given a start and end date therefore allowing you to set it up prior to a sale and then it starting automatically,
  • View statistics for orders, products and customers,
  • View all customer details,
  • Enable stock levels on each items so that are automatically displayed as “out of stock” when limit reached. You can also be emailed when low stock levels are approaching,
  • Also multiple currencies are available, GBP and also Euro again by a simple button click,
  • The following reports are available at a click of a button – products viewed, products purchased, customer order totals and low stock items,

and if that’s not enough here are just some of the modules you can “add on”

  • Various postage, packaging and shipping charges,
  • Item of the week, most popular item, What’s new, best sellers, featured items, tell a friend,
  • Reviews on items,
  • Gift vouchers,
  • Banners for advertising manager,
  • Newsletters and email lists,
  • List of all customers,
  • List of all orders,
  • Limit the max/min quantity requirement for purchase,
  • Allow the shop to only display prices to logged in customers,
  • Links manager,
  • News manager,
  • Printed price list,
  • Wish list,
  • Customer loyalty scheme,
  • Bulletin board or forum.

and much much more…

Want more information? Contact me and I will explain it in more details

Whois…

WHOIS Search provides domain name registration information

Or basically you can search to find out who owns a domain name. Just click on the link below and enter in the domain name you are interested in (without the www. part) click the button and the details will be displayed.
Click here for Whois link
When purchasing a domain name you have the ability to hide details in a WHOIS search – therefore if you cannot see anything other than the registrant (name or company name) – then they have hidden the details and that is all you can see.

Why is this useful?

If you want to purchase a domain name that is already being used, this will tell you who to contact to purchase it from – or even when the domain expires so that you can pick it up when it comes back into the mass market.

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Testimonials

As a serial entrepreneur it is wonderful to have people in your team that you can rely on to get new ventures off the ground. Sarah’s ability to interpret my (often ill defined) ideas and design websites and other collateral is invaluable. I shall continue to work with her, and appreciate her feedback, for some time to come.

Caroline Billington – carolinebillington.co.uk