You know how they say ‘when it seems to good to be true, it probably is’?
We know that many people will look at our low prices, and indeed our free websites promotion, and assume that there simply must be a catch.
When one considers the following points, you can see their point:
So, have we messed up our maths? Performed some wizardry that somehow turns deficits into profit?
Nothing so exotic, we’re afraid. The answer lies in our business structure. Take a look at our About Us page, and you’ll see a number of Indian nationals. As you’ll know from the many companies who outsource to India these days, labour, and the cost of living, is substantially cheaper in India than it is here, and that is our ‘secret’.
Unlike those telecoms giants, power suppliers and IT support companies, however, we do not outsource. We employ, train and manage a permanent team of well-paid professionals in India. The crucial difference is that this team are all Notting Hill Internet Services employees, with all the rights that this status entails.
This set-up gives us a unique advantage. Suddenly, that five-page website comes in at £300, and yet it both provides us with a profit margin, and gives a wholly respectable wage to the designers working on it. Those inbound links? £1 each, and the link-builder is very happy to receive it.
The exchange rate, and our differing costs of living, mean that we can offer websites and web services at prices that small businesses and start-ups really can afford. Those free websites? Well, yes, we lose out a little, but the publicity we get means that we can absorb these costs into our marketing budget (and, while we’re exercising complete transparency here, we should mention that of course we hope you’ll also purchase some of our other – equally competitive – products. No obligation).
We believe we have a win-win situation for small businesses – and for our employees in India. Don’t forget, too, that some of the world’s brightest minds are found in this vast subcontinent – a fact that Google and Microsoft, with their Indian HQs, have been quick to notice.
We hope that this post goes some way towards explaining how we keep our prices so low, and that they really are not too good to be true.
Celebrating Our 14th Birthday
Happy Birthday to us! We’re very proud to say that we are in our 14th year in this business and are continuing to grow and evolve with the fast pace of the online industry. We’d like to thank Fari and Carolyn for putting together such a great team and our clients and associates for their loyalty and support.
It’s such a huge achievement to have survived so long amongst many competitors and the daily challenges that the internet throws at us. Here is a virtual toast to another 14 years of success and hard work!
1. Become a Part of the Global Internet Community, Open up to the International Markets.
Websites reside on the Internet, also called the World Wide Web (WWW), a global network of connected Internet servers. Internet users are able to receive and transmit text, video, voice, and other media information across the wired planet in a matter of seconds. The expression “global village” may describe the Internet very well. The Internet shortens geographical distances, country borders don’t exist here – information is transmitted instantaneously across the entire planet.
Your website is a pathway into the Internet”global village” where people meet, make business contacts, shop, sell products and services, watch video excerpts, search for books and read the latest news. With your own website, you can begin to exchange ideas with the global Internet community. You can reach present and potential clients instantly by publishing the information about your company, services or products on your professionally-designed website. Now your business address, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, hours of operation can be at the fingertips of potential buyers.
2. Stay close to your area neighborhood and provide services to your Local Market.
In addition to the global reach of the Internet, your Website can boost your local business or organization’s presence – allowing you to focus on other projects either at home or in your regional area of residence. Whether you’re in New York or Tokyo, Rome or Washington, there are others who may require the services you offer by giving you access to Web search engines and allowing you to advertise your business to all Internet consumers. Not in business? If all you need is the creation of a website for your community volunteer projects or even a fan club for the state college basketball team, the creation of a website will accomplish your goals.
3. Sell Products and Services Online – The advantages of doing business on the Web.
You should consider an Internet Store to become your future storefront. First, potential customers need to know what services you provide and what is your price range. You can reach your future customers by advertising on the Internet-surfers will be able to find you when they search for your business or organization site on web search engines.
You can collect critically important data from your clients by asking them to submit requests for new products or reviews of your existing products: time-to-market turnaround is reduced by the speedy communications offered by the Internet. Your website will become a cheaper advertising medium than traditional brochures or newspaper and magazine ads.
4. Electronic commerce, or E-commerce, is a leading business practice in the global marketplace. E-commerce is an extremely effective way to quickly distribute custom products to clients anywhere utilizing a variety of selections which is almost infinite.
E-commerce is an Internet technology which allows businesses to create revenues over the world wide web by closing the sale right over the Net. Web stores with a real-time authorization of Credit Cards offer a tremendous potential for Internet vendors.
The majority of Internet users are college educated individuals that represent a solid consumer base – they’re looking for value and variety in their spending. With today’s explosion in the number of Internet users globally, the demographics of online shoppers will not only increase, but their spending power will continue to grow as well.
There are no limits to creativity in e-commerce: you can sell books, cars, Internet or telephone service from your website. What is your specialty? With broad international customer potential, you could expand your business to foreign markets as well – you can translate your web pages into foreign languages and reach millions of potential buyers across the globe.
5. Promote your Business among the World’s most Savvy Consumers.
The number of people who use the Internet is growing every day. They are the people who keep up with modern technology, use computers for work and recreation; they’re always looking for new opportunities and services. You can reach this consumer community of Internet users through your personal or corporate website – your company presence on the Web is vitally important to the future of your business. A “window” into the world of the Internet – your website is a place to meet your future clients, business partners, subscribers, and friends.
Web surfers who use their computers for shopping can access your web store or corporate site and place orders or request services 24 hours a day. You can receive customer and client feedback instantaneously via e-mail or a CGI script placed on your web page from anywhere in the world.
6. You Can Offer 24 hours / 7 days a week Service.
In today’s dynamic marketplace, offering a business that is available 24-hours-a-day is not an option, it’s a necessity if you want to stay one step ahead of the competition. Having a company or organization website will allow you to reach interested clients, customers, or new visitors 24 hours a day (the Internet servers where websites are nested never sleep). Forget about the 9 to 5 business hours, now business is done 24 hours a day across the wired globe!
7. Publish The Latest News Now!
The World Wide Web is a dynamic information medium – you can announce the latest news, perform immediate price updates, and have the viewers read about and view the product pictures in a matter of seconds. Today’s stock quotes, current jackpots, live survey results – all can be updated every minute or even every second. The CGI code on your Internet server program will perform dynamic changes to your site to ensure up-to-the-moment punctuality.
8. Answer Commonly Asked Questions on your website.
You can avoid repetitive phone calls and e-mail messages from your clients by having the answers ready on your Home Page. You can concentrate on the core business and customer satisfaction instead of going over the same “What is your business specialty?” questions. Now you can do business faster and more productively by placing important information right on your homepage.
9. Get More Coverage – Receive Critical Media Exposure.
Media correspondents usually begin their coverage of a business or an organization by first looking up the available information on the Web. They’ll most likely first go to the Search engines and then will “click on” to get to your Internet home page. You can attract media attention almost immediately with an operational, attractive website – just look at the media coverage gained by the sites of Amazon.com and Yahoo.com!
Your company could gain significant market share with the help of publicity from the newspapers or online magazines, TV coverage or online surveys. Your winning web home page would attract public and corporate attention and help the viewers familiarise themselves with your business’ specialty and product offerings, or your organization’s mission and history.
10. Turn your Company Internet or Intranet Into a Conference Room for your Employees.
The company Internet site may also become a convenient conference room for your employees – they can communicate instantly via e-mail, attend conferences online in chat-rooms, or by video-conferencing. Your employees would be able to obtain the latest company sales figures, client contact information, or news right from the Home Page. No matter where your employees are – they’ll stay in touch with the company through a website at home, in a foreign country, or when they are flying on business with their laptop connected to the Internet.
To some extent, we are all experts in web design. Your taste may run to minimalist, lavish, or brash, but one thing is for sure. You’ll be able to say, within seconds of visiting it, whether or not you like a website.
It’s perhaps tempting to think of web design as nothing more than choosing a couple of pretty colours. So why do we consider it such a key part of the website building practice – indeed, an element that can make or break its success?
Well, let’s consider a few of the important factors that web designers have to keep in mind, every time they create a new site:
The look and feel
The great thing about web designers? You tell them what you want in words, and they translate it into visuals.
Accessibility, on the other hand, is all about ensuring a site is available to any user, whether they be disabled, elderly, partially sighted, or whatever.
A good designer weaves usability and accessibility into every single site he makes – and he knows he’s done a good job when you don’t even notice it.
Equally, your designer will need to ensure the site works on any number of browsers run at any number of resolutions on any number of operating systems.
Look for the designer who can’t stop telling you about the great new features he’s seen online – he’s the one who is bang up to date.
On the other hand, if your designer adheres to a few simple rules, you’ll find that your design actually boosts your climb up the ratings.
Great designers are always changing – as quickly as the web itself changes.
When one takes all of these factors into consideration, design suddenly begins to look a lot harder. Perhaps it does not work to entrust to just anyone.
At Notting Hill Web Design, we make a difficult process easy. If you want a simple life, you can choose one of our off-the-peg designs, which are ready-tested for robustness, durability, and pizzazz.
If you want something a little more unique, choose our tailored design service. We’ll put our best minds on your project, and come up with something that puts your site at the very front of the pack.
While I had stated a couple of weeks ago that looks aren’t everything, it has to be said that this statement is only true to a certain extent and there are some very obvious exceptions. When looking at the following sites, be sure to be equipped with sunglasses and aspirin.
constellation7.org is possibly one of the most torturous sites to look at and to navigate. All the pages, navigation buttons, and sidebar offer a number of multicolored, neon backgrounds. The neon theme is also reflected in the site’s images and texts. A lot of effort would have had to be made to make this site so ugly. Each page has a totally unnecessary sound clip with no option to mute the sound on the site. I cannot imagine that visitors will want to spend much time on here.
There seems to be a pattern emerging with Jesus and Neon. After you overcome the dizziness of dokimos, you can see the link to their new site, which is quite a relief.
Lings cars from Dragon’s Den has a website that is both funny and ugly. It has all the flashing images and texts, too many colours and different fonts however she has made some funny images of herself and I would tell her personalty and sense of humour is accurately translated here. The site isn’t actually that hard to navigate but there are far too many distractions.
Arngren‘s information overload of ugly overlapping images and text makes you want to leave the site instantly. I think this site sells stuff but, would you trust them?
M.I.A’s intro page and main site has bright colours and prints, much like her personal style. Not sure if it is that acceptable in reality or the virtual world.
So here we have it, examples of how looks can matter. A lot of time and money would have had to be put into making these sites ugly. The saying ‘less is more’ should be considered when designing your site.
It’s important to outline the purpose of your site and the type of information you would like it to contain. Before you begin working on your site, it is necessary to have a clear idea of the purpose of this site.
An informative website describing your company specialty, industry, price-range, services, other information. Placing extensive information and product pictures on your web page could be a good way to promote your business. You can hand out your web address to clients instead of sending expensive printed materials to them.
Form to collect names of potential customers
Web sites can be a very good marketing tool – people who visit your site can give you important feedback about your company, sign up for newsletters, ask for services they would like to see from your business or organization. We discuss the ways to do this later.
Sell Products Online
You’ve heard the word “E-commerce” everywhere; both the media and the stock market are extremely optimistic about online businesses. Would you like to enable your website for full e-commerce functionality with instant online credit card authorization and customized virtual shopping carts? We discuss ways of setting up an e-commerce operation here later on.
You could add other features to your site, which are relevant to your specific business type. These can be discussed at a later stage.
What is your domain name? Is it an easy to remember, distinctive name (at www.MyCompany.com)? We recommend that you select your own first-level domain name for your website (as opposed to using an add-on site at a provider’s server, names like www.aol.com/MyCompanySite do not accept your own identity). There are several reasons to obtain your own first-level domain name:
Site design begins with configuring your headline page – the Main Page, also called Index Page. On this page, you can explain to your visitors the advantages of doing business with you (and not with someone else). Here is the list of typical pages that are referenced by links on the main page.
You would tell the visitor about your business or organization.
You would list the services you offer.
Contact information can be placed on the bottom of every page or on a separate page. When your business or organization is divided into several departments, it’s important to create a separate page for each one, so you can list contact information for each department individually.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Here you would place answers to the most common questions to offset your telephone traffic. Everything that you think is useful to your customers can be placed here.
Press Releases and News
Show your customers what is going on in your company. This page alone can keep your site popular and frequently visited.
You can have as many forms as needed for visitors to request information or to buy products.
Other Pages you would like to have
You can have as many pages as you decide. We could guide you through do’s-and-don’ts of additional pages.
No Graphics at all
You could start out with a text-only version of your site, and later enhance it with graphics. “No graphics” site could be a good starting point if you want quick turn-around. Headlines can be composed of text instead of graphics. Remember that once you have developed a functional text-only site, you should not stop – your site would look dull without graphics.
Graphically designed text
Several programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Macromedia Fireworks will help you customize the look of your fonts. The text than will become actual graphics saved as GIF or JPEG file format.
There are thousands of clipart graphics available on the internet and in software packages as Corel Draw!. Make sure you use royalty-free images or obtain them from a paid software source.
You can place any picture on your website, all you need to do is to digitize the image. There are several ways to do this:-
You can scan it yourself – you will need a scanner and digitizing software, which is compatible with the scanner.
Copy centers – often your local copy-store will have computers, scanners, and friendly staff to help you convert your image into a computer file.
Hire a professional firm. At Notting Hill Web Design, we can do the scanning and size for you – we are a full-service design company.
Professional graphics and Image Maps by computer design artists
There are several types of graphics work that should be left to the professional designer. Stunning, high-quality and high-resolution graphics create an unforgettable first impression and keep the customers coming back. For example, an Image Map is a combination of graphics and navigation buttons that should be completed by professional web designers since designing them involves graphics design skills plus the knowledge of programming.
The context of the web page determines the size of the page. A large amount of information/text requires long web pages. This type of pages is often used for articles, reports and so on. Short pages are good for a brief, catchy statements or offers, aimed to attract the visitor’s attention and give out all the information at once. Both of these formats have advantages and disadvantages: Long pages can be large in size and take a long time to load. Short pages will download fast, but can’t deliver detailed information. It will be very inconvenient for your user to “jump” to all pages on the site in order to get complete information. Based on the type of site you are planning, choose the type of pages you will employ.
Choose the elements you’d want to be included in your pages:
Top of the page:
The body of the page: Background.
Available from commercial packages such as Corel Draw!. You can find many free patterned backgrounds on the Internet.
Just like custom-designed graphics, backgrounds can be tailored specifically for your site.
Bottom of the page:
The title is the name and description of the website that is interpreted by the browser as a title of the page, it is not really a part of the page itself. The Title is crucially important since most Search Engines use it to index your page. Make sure you use the right keywords in the title!
URL address on the printed page
Allows your users to record and distribute and print a unique URL page on your website. This way your user will always know where the printout came from.
Skillful use of pictures and photos can dramatically enhance the look of your site, after all, there is an old saying that still rings true: “It’s better to see once than to hear a hundred times.”
Black and white photographs
Monochrome pictures will create an artistic “feel” and at the same time assure faster downloading time.
Animation can add action to your site
There are several ways to create animation. One of the most common is GIF animated format (most of the moving banners you see on the Internet are made this way).
There are several technologies that can help you deliver sound to your site. Real Player, for example, will allow you to stream recorded or real-time sound right to your visitor’s computer. Notting Hill Web Design has extensive experience with Real Player applications and would be happy to help you incorporate audio capacity into your website.
Once you have obtained site visitors, keep them!!! Do your best to turn them into loyal customers or members of your online community! If you have an online store and your visitors find what they are looking for, naturally you will collect all the information from this customer in order to market to him/her again.
The way to do it is:
It can be as simple as a printed form that can be faxed back to you, or a more complex and more profitable! Shopping cart (with the protection of SSL, Secure Socket Layer).
Another way to collect the user’s information is:
Newsletter subscription Offer something of value to your visitors to attract their interest. A newsletter covering a related topic can be one of those valued services.
Some things that cost almost nothing to you can be of real value to other people. You can publish your free news, recommendations, and anything else people would find useful – free services attract Internet traffic!
Encourage your customer to ask questions or order additional information. A strategically placed CGI form can do this simple but important job for you.
The greatest site in the world will never have a single visitor if no one knows about it. There are several ways to promote a site:
You should register your site with major Internet search engines. This is the first thing you need to do after you complete designing and publishing your site. There are literally thousands of search engines and directories on the web, but only a handful are popular among almost 100% of internet users: for example Yahoo, Alta Vista, Lycos, Infoseek, GoTo.Com, Excite, HotBot. Search engine registration is simple and straightforward, but getting your site to rank high is really an art (ironically, not science). Notting Hill Web Design is an expert in effective site registration.
Banner advertisement can be very effective. Make sure it is placed on other sites with a topic related (or complementing) yours. There is one drawback: placing your banner on a high-traffic site could be really expensive.
Free banner exchange programs
There are several well-known sites (like LinkExchange) that will allow you to place your banner in an exchange program. Your banner will be shown on the sites, which belong to this program in your category, in exchange for banner exposures of other members on your site. This kind of programs can be very helpful at the beginning of your Internet promotion journey. However, make sure that this is not the only strategy you use. In most of the programs, you get to show only 3 banners for every 4 that you display. So, it is not hard to see, that your supply of banner credits will melt away rapidly without other promotional techniques.
Reciprocal link exchange
There are very many sites that would like to exchange links with you. It’s advisable to be selective about companies with which you exchange links. A good example of link exchange would be for sites that complement each other. For example Computer hardware company would benefit from exchanging links with a computer software company.
You may contact the services that specialize in web news. You might be able to “make the news” and get free publicity. At least it’s worth a shot!
Make sure you include your URL on all traditional advertisement including business cards, mailings, company pens, and T-shirts.
To remain competitive, you need to keep up with the current events and changes. Your website could soon become a tremendous success if you update and upgrade it frequently.
Your ability to maintain the site yourself is related to the way the site had been originally designed. Notting Hill Web Design creates websites with our customers in mind. Once the site is created, we can assist you in learning how to modify and update your website. Very soon you will not require our help anymore. The only time you would want to contact nottinghill.biz again would be when your site requires additional functionality.
A professional team of web designers, web developers, and SEO experts will create search engine friendly websites through on-site optimization. Here are some steps that should be taken to ensure that your site is optimized:
1. Title Tags
It’s the title of the page and is one of the most important steps. It should have keywords in it and accurately describe the page.
2. Meta keywords
Keywords and keyphrases that are relevant to your business or purpose which will help search engine users find your site and understand what it is about.
A sitemap is a list of the pages on your website which allows visitors but, most importantly search engines to view all the pages and get a better understanding of the site’s content and purpose.
4. Meta tags
A meta tag is an HTML tag that provides information of the site. It cannot be seen on the site but it can be picked up and analyzed by web spiders.
5. Internal Links and Link Optimisation
Linking from page to page within the site is a key for search engines as well as encouraging visitors to navigate around the site.
Useful anchor text should be used to link, for example, linking the text “bespoke websites” is more useful than linking “click here” as it will be clearer to search engines and visitors what page the link leads to.
Unique content that includes keywords and keyphrases needs to be on every page. Search engines will penalize sites that have copied content.
7. Image ALT Tags
The images on your site should have ALT tags so that search engines know what the image is and are able to direct users to what they are looking for. Search engine spiders can only read a text and not images. When your cursor hovers over the image, the text should represent the image and be relevant. The image file name should also be changed to match the ALT tag and should never be labeled as “photo1.jpeg”.
8. Social Marketing
By producing and distributing content across social media, you will be able to build a good relationship with search engines as well as your virtual audience. Having the buttons clearly linked on your site and making frequent and consistent updates improves a sites organic search presence. Facilities such as blogs allow websites to be frequently updated which is another search engine criteria for ranking.
While on-site optimization is only one part of SEO, it is the first process to help improve sites organic search presence. This is why it’s important to understand and appreciate the value of a professional when making a site and to seek their services. You should get your site audited to make sure all these steps have been taken and what can be done to improve and update your site.
With the announcement that the beta version of Firefox 4 has been released, it’s that time again. Time to check how your own website looks on it, that is.
While the browser is only in beta (ie, a work in progress), it is currently available for download – its developers are hoping that users will report any bugs they discover before the official launch.
The new version, Mozilla tells us, contains “dozens of new features and improvements” (see them listed here) – each one of which might affect the display of your site. Of course, one hopes not – but it is always as well to check, especially with Firefox having a 46% share of the browser market as of June 2010.
Sounds complicated? We’d be delighted to do it for you: just one of the many services we can offer.
You may currently be preoccupied with thinking about how you’re going to optimize your website for the oncoming mobile web explosion. Well, if you want a break from that, we’ve got news for you – it looks like we’re also in line for a massive rise in Internet-via-TV.
Announcements this week point towards a new generation of a set-top box, allowing for Internet access directly through the TV, without a computer. Presumably, this will lead not only to programme-watching on demand but a blurring between TV and online advertising. There’s every possibility for an ad to give a link, inviting the viewer to switch modes and visit a website for time-restricted special offers, for example.
While mobile Internet users present the challenge of making your website navigable, attractive, clear and comprehensible on a small screen, TV Internet will, of course, bring the opposite issues – especially with the current trend of ever-larger plasma screens. Resolution may also be different.
Project Canvas, the BBC’s name for the new set-top box, isn’t expected to launch until next year, but it’s definitely worth thinking about it now.
Google’s homepage is the most-talked-about blank space on the internet. Renowned for its one-option interface and clean minimalism, the page is often cited as a great example of ‘less is more’.
It came as a great surprise, last week, then, to see that Google had transformed itself. The page that logged-in users saw was taken over by a large photographic image, much in the style of its rival search engine, Bing.
Even more of a surprise came a few days later when the white homepage returned. “Remove Google background” was apparently the seventh-most searched for a term during the intervening days (the image can be removed, but a bug had prevented the link giving this option from displaying).
Read it how you will – panicking behemoth trying to imitate its competitor, then pulling the move when it realizes it has blundered? Or service that listens to its users, and is uniquely positioned to do so, given that they are revealing their inner thoughts with every search?
Either way, it’s good to know that Google responds to the people who use it. The story, while amusing, shows us one of the strengths of the web – that you can try out something new, and change it sharply if it turns out not to be working for you and your business.
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