Questions to ask of yourself and your website developer, when planning a new website.
We have helped Mono-Culture set up their blog in Squarespace 6. It seems to be going quite well and we hear reports of over 500 visitors a month visiting the niche photography site. Quite a success in a crowded photoblogging sphere.
So we've said goodbye to 2012, a great year of celebration in Great Britain.
Following on from what was a wonderful 'feel-good' year (ok recession and weather to one side for a while!) iconic British brand - Mulberry, have created a wonderful celebration website. In their own words...
"In this year of celebrations, British luxury brand Mulberry goes beyond the bunting to champion the unsung heroes, craftsmanship traditions, and unique characteristics that make Britain great, and to celebrate in its own way the charms and eccentricities of its motherland."
From the world renowned museums and galleries to the lesser know quirky traditions, this site continues that feel-good factor into 2013 - Brilliant, well done to all involved, (which incidentally, could be you) - go take a look
Ecwid (e-Commerce Widgets)
You might not have heard about Ecwid. If you havent and you are thinking about e-commerce, we think you should.
I decided to write this piece because i've just spent two full days trying to find anything that comes close to ecwid - reviewing 14 of the best known online e-commerce SaaS offerings from Magento, Big Commerce, Shopify, Foxy Cart, Roman Cart, Zen Cart and so on.
I can't. - nothing even comes close to this unique little diamond!
Why is Ecwid so special?
What makes ecwid so very special is, in part the features of the product - some of which are not available anywhere else (the quality and style of the built in Image uploader product option for example). But what sets it appart totally is that it is a widget. You can install the store front on many different websties, on differnt pages of one website, on Facebook, on your blog, in fact anywhere you want to sell something online - you can install your shop!
Like conventional e-commerce products, SaaS hosted stores etc, Ecwid has a well designed and easy to use 'back end' which allow the store keeper to manage products, categories, customers, and transactions. Unlike most if not all stores, Ecwid allows you to determine how the store looks and on which pages of your existing website it sits.
If you design nice sites, or if you've had a good site built - and you want to sell something from it - you really dont want to start from scratch again, and this is where Ecwid get's seriously interesting.
Conventional wisdom would then say... well you should use Foxycart. Foxycart is a lovely Cart/Checkout designed to integrate with your existing product database: Ecwid is designed to fit right on your existing website, but delivers beautifully executed product 'widgets' to place on your pages.
From a search engine point of view, your shop is now as effective as the surrounding pages and you can optimse content, create micro data tags etc and benefit from Google Merchant Services.
- Create the index and search where you want them
- Ajax pages means no screen refreshed
- Agile checkout
- Drag and drop buying
- Works really well with Squarespace, Wix, 1&1 etc.
The whole user experience is well executed and thoroughly thought through. If you are adept at CSS, the whole site is customisable (or we can do that for you...) Call us if you'd like a quote to help you build the store you really want!
A wonderful, inspiring source of colour palettes. Design Seeds is the creation of Jessica who has a passion for colour and thankfully, a willingness to share. A beautiful website that we challenge anyone working with colour not to find inspiring.
Version 5 Face Lift
For us though, working 'under the hood', one of the useful improvements is that made to the CSS editor.
The editor now 'undocks', so you can see what you're doing, and you can alter the proportions of the editing window to better suit text editing. I know you can cut and paste into a proper text editor, but I'm not always at the same machine so I never know what tools I've got - so the bundled tool is the one I tend to use by default.
In the new Custom CSS Editor.
- Search and replace
- Colour coding
- Line Numbering
- Indenting and Outdenting
- Colour schemes
- Collapseable Style editor to enable a better review of the impact of the changes you are making.
Other Changes include a myriad of new fonts -
Autosave in the Blog Editor
Along with word count, character count and the nature of the CSS Class you are using echoed in the editing window.
Here's what Squarespace have to say:
DEVELOPER-FRIENDLY CSS EDITOR
As web designers and developers, we know how limiting it could be to write and edit CSS within a small window. Now you can do it all within our beautiful new editor; pop out the entire window and see everything at once. The new editing toolbar allows you to find & replace, undo & redo (even post-save), insert style variables, and format your code like a pro. 3 new color themes are also available for easy-on-the-eyes editing.
AND MUCH MORE...
- Add style to your blog post elements with 8 new icon sets, available in both black and white and 4 different sizes.
- Keep the background image but change the color thanks to alpha-transparent PNGs available in many of the redesigned templates.
- Customize buttons, like “search” and “submit”, right within Fonts, Colors & Sizes.
A brief guide
In order to buy effective design, the designer needs to have a brief. There is sometimes a gap between what the designer needs and the information and guidance they get: So we've created this 'brief guide'.
So we sat down and came up with this 'brief guide' to help you give your designers the inforation they need to do the best job for you.
Who is your Customer?
- Small Business
- International Corportation
- Private Consumer
- Charity / Not For Profit
- Public Sector
If your ideal customer is an 'individual consumer' - who is the idea customer ?
- Age group
- Life stage
- Income (Low/Medium/High)
- Avant Garde or Laggard
- Local / Regional / National
What is your product or service?
- Outline description
- Unique selling points
Where does your product or service fit into the market?
- Commodity (ie lots of competitors and mainly price/service competition)
- Premium products (ie few suppliers of high value differentiated product)
Are there significant fixed points that are not changeable because of historical/cost reasons?
- Legislative restrictions on content (eg Financial services)
Have you done any marketing before?
- Supply samples if possible
Have you had an identity designed?
- If you can supply artwork if will help reduce time and therefore costs
- Most designers will ask for EPS (Encapsulated Postcript) / Adobe Illustrator (AI) file types
- JPEG and PNG or PDF are of some use but they lose quality when the size is changed for different uses.
Have you got high quality original relevant photography?
- Images are vital and the better the photograph, the better the results of your site.
- If you need stock imagery there are inexpensive stock libraries most designers use.
Who are your biggest competitors?
This helps the designer to see the context of your product and will help to either make the what you buy 'fit in' or 'stand out'
What do you like? (please supply examples, and if possible what it is you like about them)
This helps the designer to understand what you value and guides the thought process.
What you DON'T like? (please supply examples, and if possible what it is you don't like about them)
Finally and MOST IMPORTANTLY
What is the objective of the work?
- Sell more
- Change perception
- Reinforce position
- Update image
- Adapt to seasonal factors
- Manage your own content
- Open new markets
- Launch new products to existing clients
- Reposition existing products to new customers
- Complete Diversification
- Liberate yourself from a metaphorical 'hostage situation'
Social networks are increasingly important in directing traffice to websites.... which ones do you engage with?
Search engines are highly effective at reading your content and placing your site in context, but in order to help them gauge your content and lear about your site, 'meta tags' (invisible groups of words that describe the content of your website to help the search engines) The meta tags must describe the content of your website (or you will be penalised) so think of the meta tags as an executive summary of your website content.
This information is normally elicited by account managers or designers during the initial interview but it all adds up to create a holistic view of the design requirements and helps to make the work done fit the requirement right from the outset: This means best value for the client and minimum wasted time for everyone.
We think Flattr and Squarepsace is a GREAT combination. You create wonderful content and if others agree and enjoy your work, they can reward you in lots of very small ways. but lots of raindrops make mighty rivers....
Chris took this picture in Paris (obviously!) this Summer. Let's say this inspires you and brightens up your day... well share the love and click the button. The link might be very specific or it might be more general -a Whole blog or individual items.
We hope it flies.
It deserves to.
Sometimes you come across 'stuff' on the web that solves a problem. Sometimes you can download free stuff, stuff that someone has created but is willing to share for free. Sometimes you come across a blog that has just the information you need, again for free. Ever wanted to show your appreciation for this 'stuff'?
Well now you can with Flattr - http://flattr.com/
In brief (taken from flattr.com) - when you're registered to flattr, you pay a small monthly fee. You set the amount yourself. At the end of the month, that fee is divided between all the things you flattered. You're always logged in to the account. That means that giving someone some flattr-love is just a button away. And you should! Clicking one more button doesn't add to your fee, it just divides the fee between more people! Flattr tries to encourage people to share. Not only pieces of content, but also some money to support the people who created them.
Let's spread the love!
We think that the combination of Flattr and Squarespace is a match made in HEAVEN. - The game has changed. Now you can be rewarded for making the world a nicer place - You dont have to set up e-commerce and try to market your wares, your ideas etc... just put a button next to your lovely pictures, and get money for ideas and creativity.
Flattr is a hugely democratic advance in creative remuneration and we think it has the potential to really open up the creative world.... maybe.
If you like the thought of using Squarespace and love the idea of getting paid for your insight... then we can help you embed Flattr and start the ball rolling for you.
You've GOT to have a look at Pinterest.
It's a 3D Scrapbook, it's full of ideas and memes - It looks lovely and it's a great way of storyboarding and mapping. A great place to create a body of research and to create mood and style boards for clients and friends. Collaborate - We are just starting to get a feel for it.
It's a great time to be alive!!
One of the best things about squarespace is it's ability to deliver different content to different users.
1. Internal Use - External availability!
Using a special audience for your company teams, you can create dedicated intranets that integrate with your website and are available, editable and accessible from anywhere!
- Sales leaflets
- Quotations and client communications
- Client information
- Company Policies, Insurances, Registrations etc
- Disaster Recovery - Planning -
- Health and Safety Procedures
- ISO documentation
The list is as long was you want it to be, but the amazing thing is: You can create an audience for each type of user so you give them just enough of what they need to do their job, and help the company to succeed.
2. External Use
Create a user group for your customers or suppliers.
- Meeting Notes
- Performance metrics
- Calendar of Events
- Quotations and other project documents
- Files and resources
- Links and articles
- Trade blogs and news not in the public domain
- Handbooks and work sheets
- Sales campaign
- Registration forms
- Email landing pages
- New product announcements
- Trade launches
So you can create content as diverse as your business -
Create parts of the website that reflect the way you want your business to operate and Squarespace will reward by delivering exactly the content you want to deliver to exactly the right group!
We think it's rather good!
Really interesting social bookmarking - Makes research both fun and powerful.... could this be a way of integrating social media with sharing your browsing experience.
we've used it for market research when working as a team - very useful!!
Sadly a Flash only product which has me back tracking a bit....
Here's an example of how we're exploring what is possible for client promotion:
The requirement for Flash will limit our usage of Pearltrees - A great idea but ultimately the victim of the Apple adobe strife?
We think this is a fantastic website, we really like the design.
The message is coherent and the website echos the idea: we feel it get's the message across really well.
Cleverly, Rapanui have teamed up with the Met office in the UK to create a number of lines using iconic designs of forcast symbols so familiar to those of us in the UK. This is inspired marketing.... clever juxta position of ideas, honest commercialism and a fusion of brands underpinned by the notion of global warming - without obviously overstating the link. Brilliant!
Heavy blame spreading from the south!
It's great to see a combination of design, sustainability and original thinking happening in dear old Blighty!!
How do you use your squarespace site?
Publish and be damned?
The SEO of Squarespace is famously effective - organic traffic spectacularly good BUT....
Have you started to use your blog to help you sell? I guess most small - medium businesses rely to some extent on direct selling - person to person emails or visit?
We've found using the blog to be an excellent way of speaking to a prospective client - delivering highly specific detailed messages, even personal messages in an immediate way: For example we often get enquiries from business people who havent created a brief for their new makreting project.... so we write an intro email with a specific link to 'Writing the Creative Brief' or when we are explaining Search Engine work we might use this explanation...
This means that we can do the blog entry once, for each topic, but use it like a brochure that we build 'on the fly' for clients.
Specific events, links in email campaigns, even a special message for a premium contact that you want to do business with....
As we get busier, keeping many projects on track at the same time and working together as a team was taking up more and more meeting time....
Different clients have different seasons that are important and planning ahead is crucial to make sure we deliver excellent results - without last minute rushes.
Wrike is an online project management tool that helps us align our work with the needs of our clients - saving us time and the client money - it helps us to manage our time and make sure nothing is ever missed....!
Have a look at Wrike.... it might make a difference to your business too.
If you are a new, young or start-up business or are new to email marketing then you probably have got either no email addresses or very few, this is very common and you're not alone. It takes effort to build up your lists, but it will pay dividends. Quality addresses that are permission based are worth their weight in gold.?
1. Add a sign-up to your website - ‘Join mailing list’, ‘keep me informed’.
This will help you capture information, addresses from people who visit your site. Don’t miss your chance to start talking directly to your visitors and start building that all important relationship. mailcritter has a built-in subscribe form builder to help you to do this easily.
2. Ask your customers
If you deal with customers in person either face to face or over the telephone, then simply ask them for their email address and permission to contact them. You can do this as part of your standard customer engagement. If you have staff, train them to ask for email details. Tell customers why it’s a good idea, you will keep them up to date with new offers for example.
3. Ask people you meet at events
If you attend networking events or trade shows, again ask ! like my mother always said “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”. Even if they just give you their business card, you can manually add them to your list.
4. Offer incentives for sign-up
People love free stuff, offer a freebie or the chance to win a prize. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just think how much you're saving by not purchasing a database list, you could offer a white paper or be the first to get offer information. People are more likely to give you details if there is something in it for them.
5. Make sure your sign-ups are not hidden away
Your sign-ups should be very prominent on your site just like a special offer would be, or any other call to action. Add them to every page or in a sidebar so that they are always seen.
6. Link sign-ups to other content.
“Like this article? then make sure you don’t miss others – make sure you sign-up”. If you publish articles or special offers or blogs, add a link to your sign up after each one. If a visitor reads something they like you're in a better immediate position to get their details.
7. Never miss an opportunity
Include a ‘join our mailing list’ in your signature / sign off on the bottom of all your emails. If you blog or comment on sites that are not your own, add it to your sign off. Even put a url address to it on your business cards.
8. Don’t ask for too much
The more detail you ask for the more reluctant people will be to freely sign up. So make sure the information you are asking for is relevant, only ask for the information you really need and is pertinent to your service or offering.
9. Be viral, ask people to pass it on
When you do send out your email campaigns, be it offers or newsletters, make sure you add the forward to a friend snippet. If people like what you're offering they will be happy to pass it on. Remember if everyone forwards it to only one other person your email has already doubled it’s circulation.
10. Have specific 'sign ups'
Different people like different things, if you have lots of content you would like to use for your email campaigns, then split up the sign up. You can have one for special offers, one for newsletter and so on… by doing this you can capture more data and segment it.
We're not ones to brag about the work we do: We noramlly just get on with it.... but for once we think it's time to shout about Filemaker Go!!
We've just delivered 3 applications for iPad based on Filemaker Go Platform.
Blue Chip Salesforce integrated - with iPad for meeting planning, agenda making and note taking - "a spectacular success",
A Major National Highstreet retailer now ordering spares online via iPad "We're absolutely delighted - the implemetation could not have gone more smoothly"
Filemaker and 'All My Own Work'.... Fundraisers for little ones - now with a fully functional calculator. Fundraising doesn't get more fun than this!