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The ‘Website’ CHECKLIST : Domains, Hosting, Web Design

webite checklistWebsite ChecklistThis article is meant for all who already have a website, or who propose to buy one. Website – the term is comprised of three things : Domain, Hosting (Web space) & Web Design

There are numerous companies offering these services. I am here to discuss a few points with regards to top, and essential things you need to thoroughly check when you get a WEBSITE through one of these companies.

 

Now to the article,

Every day, I get a few phone calls of this sort :

  • Sir, My domain expires in next few days, but the company which registered it is out of business, Please RENEW it”
  • Sir, I want to transfer the domain to your server, but I don’t have the domain control panel”
  • Dear Support Team, The domain is registered thru ‘X’ and his name is listed as REGISTRANT and Admin Contact, help me”
  • I have a website since 1998, but I am not getting any enquiries through it. So what’s the point in having it renewed ? “
  • My website is down most of the time, can you do anything about it? “

If you look at the above, you could observe the common problem. Thus, a checklist is required for any WEBSITE. Lets see one by one :

domain name checklistDomain Name Registration ChecklistDomain NAME Registration : CHECKLIST

Once your domain is registered, check these things :

  • Is the DOMAIN NAME Registered with an ICANN Accredited Registrar ? (Visit : www.icann.org )
  • Does the REGISTRANT NAME and ADMINSTRATIVE CONTACT show your name/email ?
  • Did the Domain Registration Service Provider give you the Domain CONTROL PANEL with username / password to manage/modify name servers & contact details in real-time ?
  • Do you have the OPTION to get REMINDERS at the time of RENEWAL, well in advance ?

Web hosting checklistWeb Hosting ChecklistWeb Hosting (Web space) : CHECKLIST

  • Support, Support, Support – is the KEY issue when it comes to Hosting. Check the response time of the Service Provider before making an option.
  • How skilled are the technical persons ? Just put in a few queries and see how they respond ?
  • Get a quick look at the Service Provider Website and make sure its professional looking, with user friendly navigation and layout.
  • Check if they have listed TESTIMONIALS, a list of sites hosted with them, discount options for bulk purchase, payment modes. Also make sure there are NO Hidden charges. The key part to look at is : the BANDWIDTH offered for each hosting plan.
  • Multiple Domains in single hosting space. This is an added advantage and saves you money. You can ask for this option if not provided.
  • Make a deep study on the Hosting Plan you choose. Check all the essential features that are provided. To name a few, POP3 mails, SMTP support, FTP Account, Control Panel, Web mail, Spam Controller, Antivirus, Web Statistics.

website design checklistWeb Design ChecklistWebsite Design : CHECKLIST

  • Does the website designer provide you with free minor updates or for a nominal fee on a yearly contract basis ?
  • Is the website professional looking and appealing to the global audience ?
  • It has been 3 months since your launch and there are NO fruitful enquiries and you are UPSET. Wait…..go to : www.google.com and put your website name and click search. Does it show up anywhere in the results ?
  • Does the website designer provide you with monitoring service ?
  • Does the website take a lot of time to load? Make sure it loads faster, even on slow connections. Too much of Flashy animations, bigger size jpegs are NOT an option for your site. CONTENT is King. Make sure your website ‘delivers’.

Give Stanley a call today on 081-525-1727 to discuss your requirements or send him an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ' to request a free quotation.

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Why The Heck Is Your Website Not Selling More?

hitting brick wallHitting a Brick WallIf you’re anything like most online marketers, or website owners, you’ve probably tried every tweak, trick and technique you can think of to get your website to sell more.

Maybe you’ve even had a few successes, and actually improved your conversion rates a bit.

Yet, deep down inside, you’re positive that your site is capable of so much more. You just know that with the right changes and improvements you could be converting a ton more visitors into buyers.

But the problem is... You’ve hit a brick wall and just can’t figure out what to change or tweak.

Perhaps it’s time you tried a new pair of eyes!

Think about it... You’ve probably looked at your website a thousand times. You simply have too much knowledge about your products, your company, what you do and what you offer, to effectively see your website through a first time visitors eyes.

That is where an impartial and independent evaluation of your website can give you a valuable, fresh perspective.

In many professions, getting an outside, second opinion is a common practice.

So how can you get an outside opinion about your website?

new pair of eyesNew Pair of EyesYou have several options for finding that “new pair of eyes”.

You can ask your friends and family to take a look at your website. They may notice a few details you’ve missed, like typos or other simple errors. The main problem with family or friends is that they are often reluctant to tell you what they really think, simply because they don’t want to offend you, or hurt your feelings.

You can post a message to an online forum or discussion group, asking for feedback on your website. There are even categories in some popular forums specifically designed to request feedback for your site.

This is often a better option than family or friends, because you tend to get a broader cross-section of opinions, and the forum members are less likely to sugar coat the feedback they give you.

But, there is one major draw-back to either method of requesting feedback... The input you get about your website from family, friends and even forum posters will simply be based on opinions or “feelings”, not on expert, tested and proven techniques, or advanced sales psychology.

talk to family and friendsTalk to Family and FriendsBasically... They may not know what the heck they are talking about!

Another method for getting outside feedback, is to conduct a survey of your existing website traffic. This is often one of the best options to get constructive feedback on how to improve your website.

I frequently help my coaching and consulting clients conduct surveys of their website visitors as part of their conversion rate improvement programs.

Your final option is to find a company or consultant offering professional website evaluations, or critique services. The benefit here is that, in most cases, a professional will give you a much more comprehensive evaluation of your website than you will get from friends, family or your website visitors.

However, the main problem with the “professional” route is that almost all of the companies offering this type of service are web design companies. So the “evaluation” you get is usually just a disguised sales pitch for a full website redesign.

(Not to mention the fact that most web design firms don’t have the first clue on how to convert website traffic into buying customers...)

But if you screen website evaluation providers carefully, you can find a few that will give you some outstanding recommendations.

Here are a few questions to ask anyone you hire to evaluate your site.

website testingWebsite TestingWhat is your background? (You want them to say they are marketers, not graphic or web designers, they need to understand sales psychology.)

Are your recommendations based on actual split test results? (Often the recommendations you will receive are based on theory or “one size fits all” best practices. Not on the results of actual testing, on actual websites.)

What kind of results have you produced for previous clients? (You want them to show you case studies or testimonials from clients who have achieved measurable results.)

How much time and money will it take to implement the recommendations? Is this just a sales pitch for some ten thousand dollar website redesign? (You want to make sure that the recommendations are going to be easy, and affordable for you to implement.)

Done properly, an outside, independent evaluation by a professional website evaluator, or conversion rate improvement expert, can significantly boost your websites sales. (As long as you take the time to make sure you’ve found a good one.)

So if you’re out of ideas for improving your site... Go out and get a fresh pair of eyes!

Give Stanley a call today on 081-525-1727 to discuss your requirements or send him an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ' to request a free quotation.

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Writing Articles With Style - Create Quality Articles With CSS

css cascading style sheetsCSS - Cascading Style SheetsWriting your quality articles using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), will insure that your articles will be both easy to read, and aesthetically pleasing to the viewer.

A CSS style sheet allows the HTML code for your articles to be cleaner, table-less, easily customizable, and "liquid."

Removing the display attributes of your articles from the HTML code allows you to concentrate on using the HTML for organizing your document's content.

When you use CSS, a new approach is possible to writing your articles for the Web:

* First, you write your article in a very basic HTML document, using simple HTML code. At this stage, use only the most common HTML tags. Focus on organizing your article's content first.

* Next, you identify parts of your document for special display formatting.

* Finally, you define the formatting in the CSS file.

Once you work through this process, you can re-use both the HTML document and the CSS file as templates for your future, quality articles.

This article will provide the tips, tricks, and sample code to give you a head start in creating your own quality articles, and templates using CSS. If this all seems complex and intimidating at first, don't despair--read on. I will explain the basic HTML and CSS terminology throughout the article.

basic HTMLBasic-HTMLTHE BASIC HTML DOCUMENT

The basic HTML document is divided into several sections: html, head, and body.

Tags are used to demarcate document sections, or "elements." Content lies between the tags. For example, the article you are now reading lies between the body tags of an html document.

Tags usually exist in pairs, a start tag and an end tag. The start tag is surrounded by less - than and greater than - angle brackets. An end tag is bracketed with the same symbols, but the first character of the tag is a forward slash (/). For example, HTML code for a paragraph element would include the start and end "p" tags with the content sandwiched between the two.

The basic tag pairs found in web pages are:

* html -- These tags tell a browser that this is an HTML document, and define the start and end of the document.

* head -- The head element can contain information about the document. Although the browser does not present the information to a viewer, the information can be "seen" and used by search engines.

* title -- The title tags define the title element that will be used by a browser for the document's title.

* body -- The document's content is placed between the body tags.

The first line of code in the basic document is the Document Type Definition (DTD). The !DOCTYPE tag tells the browser which HTML or XHTML specification the document uses. HTML 4.01 specifies three document types: Strict, Transitional, and Frameset.

basics html tags in web designingBasics - HTML Tags in Web DesignThe first meta tag in the basic HTML document provides information about how the page content characters are encoded, so that a browser can interpret them correctly.

If you want your articles to be widely seen on the Internet, you need to be particularly interested in the meta tags for keywords and description. These can be seen and used by search engines.

Use the "keyword name" and its related "content" in a meta tag to list your keywords or keyword phrases.

Keywords ought to be appropriate for the article content. They should also reflect what internet surfers actually type into a search engine's query box when hunting for the information you are offering.

Keyword research is a study in itself. Freeware is available on the Internet that can help you determine the best keywords to use in your article and keyword list. Keywords or keyword phrases within the meta tag need to be separated from each other with a comma.< />

Although not all search engines will utilize the description meta tag for their search results, you still need to include a good description for those that do.

If you had just a few characters to describe your article, or to entice a surfer to select yours from the results of a search, what would you write? What you would write is what should go into the description.

css website planningCSS Website PlanningUSING CASCADING STYLE SHEETS (CSS)

I have already suggested several reasons why today's preferred method of creating web pages is to separate a page's content from it's display properties. It's time for a demonstration of how this can be accomplished.

In the past, HTML tags included attributes to define how the content was to be displayed by a browser.

Today, CSS is used to concentrate these attributes in a single, separate file. Simple HTML code specifies "what" content is to be displayed; the CSS code defines "how" the content is to be displayed.

Before CSS can be used to format an HTML document, the name and location of the CSS file must be known to the browser. The browser gets this information through the HTML "link" tag that is coded between the head tags.

Once the CSS file is linked, the browser will check the CSS file for display attributes. For example, if the browser encounters an "h1" tag in the HTML code, it will check the CSS file for "h1" formatting. Here is the "h1" formatting information I included in the article.css file I use for my article titles:

When a browser encounters an "h1" tag in the HTML code, it would display the title centered and maroon.

HTML content formattingHTML Content for FormattingSELECTING CONTENT FOR FORMATTING

Content formatting can be applied to an HTML document only after the content to be formatted has been identified to the browser. An easy way to do this is to place a "class" or "id" attribute within a start tag. The same class name can be used many times on a web page; each id name should be used just once per page.

Once content is identified, the class or id name can be referred to in the CSS file and the browser will apply any formatting attributes found there.

Selections Using Class Names

As an example of using the class name, I used the following CSS in an article about writing ad headlines. In the HTML code, I used divisions tags with a class name of "headline" to demarcate the headline text. I added the following code to the CSS file:

.headline

{

font-size: 24px;

color: red;

font-weight:bold;

text-align:center

}

HTML and CSS CombineHTML and CSS CombineIn the CSS file, I specified the font-size, color, font-weight, and text-align attributes. The class name was added to the CSS file by preceding the name with a period. I used a semicolon to separate attributes in the list. The HTML and CSS code combine to produce a bold, 24px, red headline centered in the HTML page.

It should be noted that there are some basic HTML tags that are their own class names, and do not require a preceding period in the CSS file. These include p, h, body, li, and others. That being said, these tags can be modified by appending an additional class name to them. For example, if I wanted to make the next paragraph blue, I could add a "blue" class attribute to the opening HTML "p" tag and then add this code to the CSS file:

p.blue

{

color:#0000FF

}

This would be a blue paragraph if this HTML were displayed in color.< p />

Selections Using ID Names

The CSS syntax for an ID is a little different from that used for a class. In the CSS file, ID names are proceeded with a pound sign (#). The example below "floats" my 288px by 59px logo image to the left of the following paragraph: the text flows around the image. I added an ID attribute with a name of "logo" to the HTML "div" start tag I used to demarcate the image information. Here is the CSS code I used:

#logo

{

float:left

}< />

span tagsSpan TagsThe HTML and CSS code would combine to produce the following results:

~~~LOGO WOULD FLOAT HERE~~ Text here would flow around the logo.< />

Selections Using Span Tags

If you want to format just a bit of content, you can use span tags

In the article.css file, I defined a background-color attribute for a "highlight" class that will put a yellow background behind selected text. For the next paragraph, I used span tags to bracket the text, "separate attributes." Here is the CSS code:

.highlight

{

background-color:yellow

}

As a result, and if this were in color, the phrase "separate attributes" would be highlighted with a yellow background.

LOOKS AND LAYOUT

A careful selection of the "global" characteristics used for the body element of your web page will insure that your articles will be both easy to read and aesthetically pleasing to the viewer. These characteristics include font, font color, page background color, and page margins.

I use the "body" code in the CSS file to define the default body display attributes. Here is the CSS body code from the article.css file:

body

{

background: #fffef2;

color: black;

line-height: normal;

margin: 3% 25% 3% 25%;

}

font familyFont FamilyFonts

In the CSS body code, I specify the font family I want to use. The first font listed, Verdana, will be used by a browser if it exists on a viewer's PC. If Verdana is not available, the other fonts will be checked, in order. If none of the specific fonts are available, the browser will default to any available sans-serif font.

If you use a commonly available font/font-family for your articles, the chances are good that a reader will see the article as expected. Otherwise, your article might not look the way it should.

Verdana was designed for easy readability on computer monitors and, for this reason, is my font of choice. Since Verdana is commonly available on PCs, using this as the default font will also increase the likelihood that my article text will be displayed as I intended.

Page Background

I set the background color to a light color, the font color to black, and the line height, or spacing between lines, to normal. The background color I like to use (#fffef2) shows colored text and graphics to good advantage.

Margins

I like to adjust the article on my page to show content in roughly the middle half of the page. I think it is easier for the eye to process than content that goes edge to edge. I use the CSS margin attribute to adjust this. The margin attribute defines the top, right, bottom, and left margins respectively (margin: top right bottom left).

In the CSS body code above, I set the left and right margins to 25% of the available display width. Using 25% places about 60 characters per line of text on my 1024x768 pixel full-screen display. I also set a small 3% margin above and below the content.

Lists

If you use a list in your article, you can use the CSS file to customize the way your list looks. Two important considerations of list design are the list bullet and the spacing between list elements. The example below shows how to change the bullet graphic and element spacing of an unordered list:< />

li

{

list-style-position: inside;

list-style-image: url

http://www.elizabethadamsdirect.com/articles/images/small_blob.gif);

list-style-type: none;

margin-bottom: 1em

}

I added two list attributes to customize the list:

1. list-style-image - used to specify the URL to a bullet image (not shown below), and

2. margin-bottom - used to provide some extra space between list items.

For a complete description of possible list attributes--as well as great tutorials on using HTML and CSS--you can visit http://www.w3schools.com

HTMLHTMLEntity Names

Some characters have special meaning in HTML documents. When you want to use these characters in your text, you can use their "entity names" to prevent browsers from misinterpreting them for HTML code. I used entity names extensively for my web version of this article to display many symbols, particularly in the code samples.

Most commonly, I use entity names in my HTML code for quote marks. By doing this, I get the look and feel I want in my text when I use quotes. For example, when I want to use distinctly different left and right quote-marks in my web-based titles and headlines, I use specific entity names to do so.

Careful attention to the entity names you use can add "that extra touch of class" to your articles.

For HTML 4.01, there are entity names for both ASCII and extended characters and symbols. I use an entity name to insert a copyright symbol at the bottom of all of my web pages. You can find a complete list of entity names at w3schools.

I use Dreamweaver 8 for my HTML and CSS editing. With Dreamweaver, I can validate my code as I write it. I have optioned the validator to warn me when entity name substitution might be appropriate.

Validating Your HTML and CSS Code

I like to write valid HTML code for the "!DOCTYPE" version I use. If you click on the w3 validation icon at the bottom of my full-color, web-site version of this article, you will see that the HTML code for the article is valid and error free. You can use the validator accessible through w3schools to check your code, too.

web content writingWeb Content WritingCONCLUSIONS

When you separate your article's content from the code browsers use to display your article, you can focus on using simple, basic HTML code to organize your content. A Cascading Style Sheets(CSS) can accomplish the separation.

A CSS style sheet allows the HTML code for your articles to be cleaner, table-less, easily customizable, and "liquid."

You can look at one of my recently published articles to see the results of using the techniques outlined in this article. The article is "Profitable Ads: How to Write Ads that Pull."

Sincerely Yours,

Elizabeth Adams

 

Give Stanley a call today on 081-525-1727 to discuss your requirements or send him an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ' to request a free quotation.

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Happy New Year 2021

newyearstormbizOne of the greatest joys of this season is the opportunity to say thank you and to wish you the very best for the New Year 2021.

Thank you so much for supporting our business in 2020. We are looking forward to serving you again in 2021!

This coming year is the perfect opportunity to get your business back on it's feet after the disastrous year behind us.

You need to get your business out there in these trying times, so that people can get to know you, and know what you are offering.

Whether you need a website, website re-designed, good marketing, or any problems you encounter with your business website, or marketing, please make the decision today to get the help you need, and which we offer.

Make the decision today, and watch your business grow.

Give Stanley a call today on 081-525-1727 to discuss your requirements or send him an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ' to request a free quotation.

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Christmas Greetings 2020

StormBIz

From the entire team at StormBiz, have a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year and thanks for all your support throughout the year.

The entire team at StormBiz would like to take this opportunity to wish all our Clients, Family & Friends A Happy and Very Blessed Christmas Season.

We wish you have a peaceful and very happy time, and rest to prepare you for the coming New Year 2021.

Now is the time to contemplate and plan what is needed to build your business as you desire, and one sure way to do that is with a professional website and professional marketing, especially after this disastrous 2020 year

Give Stanley a call today on 081-525-1727 to discuss your requirements or send him an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ' to request a free quotation.

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Banner Advertising - What you need to know

colorful waves bannersColourful Waves BannersBanner advertising is one of the oldest marketing techniques, and closely related to conventional marketing. It can, in most regards be compared to billboard advertising, and in some cases, it can even be compared to television advertising, when flash banners are used together with sound.

But how difficult is banner advertising, and is it an easy marketing strategy that almost anybody can use? In a sense, banner advertising is relatively easy if you follow some basic principles.

THE SHORT HISTORY OF ONLINE ADVERTISING

According to our research, the first banner advertising was introduced in October 1994 on HotWired, today they are part of Lycos, and are now called Wired News. The size of these banners was 468 x 60 pixels, and is still a popular size banner in use even today. According to Double click’s “The Decade of online advertising: 1994 - 2004” the US market spends $9,6 billion on Internet ads. Online advertising also provides one of the largest spend of all advertising methods, and is still growing.

During the past 2 – 3 years, a huge change has taken place in the online marketing industry. Online advertising was affected by this as well, and it became clear that there still is a larger demand by consumers than can be met by advertisers. This in effect means that there is a transition process taking place. In the South African market, the same growth and transition are experienced. According to World stats we have more than 3,6 million internet users, and recent stats from World Wide Worx also states that there are more than 5 million computer owners in South Africa. That makes South Africa the 2nd largest in Africa, leaving large possibilities for new online entrepreneurs.

It is a well known fact in the online industry, that banner advertising is a most remarkable marketing strategy, and many companies have performed well and returned great results, many that didn’t make use of it have not performed as well. However, if you have the budget, it is worthwhile to make use of this strategy, especially now to get your business out there and known.

TRACKING THE RESULTS

One of the greatest benefits of online advertising is the opportunity to track results. By using dynamic website to track source and conversion ratios makes it easy to track success and optimize your strategies. Even keeping track of the banner types is easier. Experimenting can also deliver surprising results and can be tracked easily.

Over the years it has become clear that in the online marketing industry, they mostly focus on the amount of clicks they received from the advertising campaigns, to measure their success. Recently it has become more and more complex as it became evident that there are more factors involved than just clicks.

BrandingBrandingBRANDING

One of the greatest benefits of banner advertising is branding. Becoming a well-known brand in the online community can result in traffic that does not click through from banners. Depending on your industry, it can also result in sales lifts in the offline environment. Associating your brand with leading websites clearly cause a trusted association, which in itself has its benefits.

PAY PER ACQUISITION

With the use of tracking software a new payment method has seen the light for advertisers. CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) is one of the most effective ways to place banner ads. Due to the fact that it influences the profit of the site on which it is being advertised, and the profit generated by the advertiser there is much better cooperation for providing good results, than in the old fashioned Pay Per Click methods (PPC).

UNIQUE DELIVERIES

One of the key factors when tracking success of banner advertising is to keep track of the amount of unique deliveries of ads. The same visitor can receive the same banner being served during a single session on the same website at regular intervals. This can assist you in making design changes for your banner, in order to improve click through rates, but it can also guide you to ensuring the website you are advertising on is worthwhile advertising on.

DISPLAY FREQUENCY TO CLICK THROUGH

Absolutely one of the key indicators to ensure your advertising campaign is running smoothly, is keeping track of the frequency at which ads are displayed, compared to the amount of clicks received on the applicable campaign. The following can be reasons for an ad campaign to have a bad frequency to click through rate.

  • Bad banner design, or lack of key features in the design, compared to the site the ad is being displayed on.
  • Bad call to action. A call to action is one of the key motivators for a visitor to click on a banner. “Click here” is not a call to action, but rather a prize or guidance on what to expect when clicking on the banner.
  • Large file size of image. It can happen that due to the large file size of a banner, the visitor to the site didn’t even see the banner, because it was still loading.
  • Information overflows. A banner should never contain too much information, but rather single words that entice the visitor to find out more.
  • The ads don’t stand out, and becomes part of the website.
  • Bad display position.
  • Theme of the site advertised on.
CLICK THROUGH FREQUENCY CONVERSION

This is the key to a successful online advertising campaign. In order to have a solid ROI you need to have a good frequency of Clicks to conversions. A conversion is a visitor that registered with your site, bought something, or at least spent some time on your site. If you notice that the visitors tend to leave the site very quickly after entering, then there is clearly something wrong. Here is a guideline of possible issues effecting conversions...

  • Bad banner design and wording. The user expected something totally different when he clicked on the banner.
  • Use of landing pages. Never use landing or splash pages to point traffic to from a banner ad campaign, unless the splash page is with the structure of the original web site. Many so called experts will disagree with me, but I will explain this under its own topic next.
  • Bad website design or usability. This goes hand in hand with the use of landing pages. If your website is badly structured, and the user has an effort finding what he is looking for, you will lose conversions.
  • Bombarding visitors. Many websites bomb visitors with entry pops and advertising. This is not recommended at all, because the visitor will leave your site immediately.
Landing Page HTML TemplateLanding PageUSE OF SPLASH PAGES

I once attended a workshop where the marketing manager of a large online business told everyone that he introduced splash pages to use with their promotions and that it improved conversions considerably. I was amazed at this remark and had a look at their website. Suddenly it all made sense. The website was clearly badly designed, and the information supplied was purely one way, what they wanted the user to see. The entire website bombed the visitor with the closing techniques, but didn’t supply the user with the reasons they initially visited in order to be closed.

If you have to make use of separately designed splash or landing pages, you probably have bigger problems with your website than you think. If the banner displayed is related to a specific promotion, then that promotion page which is being linked to, should be located within the normal website structure that contains the relevant information, but still allows the user to navigate through to other information that they might require, before they convert into a customer.

General banners that purely advertise your brand, should always point to your homepage, however it is important to know that it is much more effective to advertise a specific product or service, in which case the banner should link to the applicable page on your website. If the homepage proves to be ineffective, then you probably need to evaluate the design and layout of the homepage. Ensure that the page that the user lands on supplies the information that the user will be interested in viewing, based on the banner they clicked on, not the information that you want the user to see.

RICH MEDIA

This is a term you have to get used to. Over the past few years rich media has proven to be extremely effective and the click through rates is amongst the highest in the online advertising industry. Rich media is usually designed in flash and because of the powerful features that Flash has, it can combine quality graphics with sound and fantastic animation. This allows the advertiser to really get attention focused on the user. On click or mouse over actions also allows for more functionality, and all of these can ensure good click through ratios. Java, JavaScript and DHTML can also be used for rich media, but we recommend the use of Macromedia Flash.

USING VIRAL MARKETING
Viral marketing’s strongest feature is the amount of well-targeted referrals that it obtains. By combining a good viral campaign with banner advertising, you ensure that you have continuous publicity and ROI basically multiplies with every conversion. The most powerful effect of a solid viral campaign is the duration of supply. If properly planned, it can supply constant traffic for years after the ad campaign has finished. Viral campaigns normally focus on entertainment value, for example, a funny video or enjoyable game, that gives the visitor the option to refer it to friends.

SOME NEW TECHNIQUES THAT WORK

A fairly new technique that is being used, is to make the banner look like link text that forms part of the design of the site the banner ad is located on. The power lies in the possibilities of providing more information for the user in the form of informative link text to cause a click through. Although it is an image, the user is attracted to the link text. The greatest benefit is most probably the fact that traffic provided by a factual banner, is normally much targeted, which means good quality click through, and higher conversion ratios.

Adding a human element also seems to work well. It makes it more personal for the visitor and attractive to click on.

banner sizesBanner SizesBANNER SIZE & TYPES

By default the most sites use similar banner sizes. Following are basic information and examples to assist you in making a choice with banner advertising.

Skyscrapers

Again there are many different sizes being used but the most common size being used is 120 x 600 pixels. These ads are normally located on the right hand side of the website. These ads have proven very effective but it is important to keep in mind that they are also more expensive.

Small rectangles

This is a very common size and can normally be located at any position of the page. The normal size for these banners is 120 x 60 pixels. The location is very important, and once again, because the banner is so small, you need to ensure that the text being displayed is carefully selected.

Square banners

This is a very good sized banner that allows for cost effective banner advertising, and the chance to provide enough information to invite click through’s. The size for the square banner is 125 x 125 pixels.

Large squares

These banners are 250 x 250 pixels wide, and are normally located just under the header of the page, or amongst the content of the page.

Anchor banners

These banners are normally located at the top of the page, and is most probably ideally located if that is the case. The size of 468 x 60 pixels also allows for the display of good quality graphics and information.

Leader board

This is one of the largest banners that can be used, and is normally located above the header of the page, almost the entire width of the page. Because of it’s size of 728 x 90 pixels. This banner can not be missed, and allows for a lot of freedom in it’s design.

EMAIL BANNERS

Email banners has proven very effective, but there are a few very important points to keep in mind when you want to opt-in for these type of campaigns. Ensure that you are provided the correct information, as far as the amount of people that the email will reach. Many companies do not distinguish between recipients that view HTML mail, and those that receive text mailers. This can have a drastic implication on your costing, if the majority only read text mails. Remember that only viewers that receive their mail in HTML format will be able to view your banners.

Banners designed for email campaigns must load instantly. Therefore file sizes must be kept to a minimum.

advertising partnersAdvertising PartnersCHOOSING AN ADVERTISING PARTNER

The largest challenge involved when choosing a site to advertise on, is distinguishing between the truth, and sales talk. Many sites will provide you with the hits their site receives, as if it is unique visitors. It is important that you ensure they give you the amount of unique visitors they receive. Hits are the highest possible amount that the log stats will display. It is the figure of all the files and images loaded for every page opened, and can be at least 10 times more than the unique visitors the site actually receive.

Making use of Alexa is also dangerous, as it primarily indicates the amount of visitors with the Alexa toolbar installed, visiting the website. In my experience the more webmasters visiting the site, the better the chance that the stats might be skewed, as many of them have the Alexa toolbar installed in their browser. Another important thing to remember, is that there are free tools available to improve your Alexa ranking, without providing real traffic.

Besides obtaining traffic stats for the site you want to advertise on, you will also need to profile your prospective customer (demographics), in order to ensure that you advertise on a site that mainly attracts visitors that you target. Therefore you need to find out about the following.

  • Geographic location
  • Income group
  • Age groups
  • Interests and hobbies
There are many other factors that can be supplied by the site that you wish to advertise on. Make sure you profile your customer properly, in order to know who you need to attract, and where you should advertise.
 
Give Stanley a call today on 081-525-1727 to discuss your requirements or send him an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ' to request a free quotation.
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Writing Benefit-Driven Web Copy – 4 Steps to More Sales

features offeredFeatures OfferedYou've identified the benefits you offer your customers, but how do you turn a list of benefits into engaging web copy which converts visitors into customers?

Recently I wrote an article explaining how to identify the benefits you offer your customers (http://www.divinewrite.com/benefits.htm). That article challenged business owners and marketing managers to think in terms of benefits rather than features when writing their web copy.

What the article didn’t discuss was how to actually write the web copy once they had identified their benefits. That’s what this article is about. (It even gives you a couple of templates you can use to make your job a whole lot easier!)

As a website copywriter, many of the projects I undertake are completely new websites. The client has some general ideas about what they’d like to convey, but they need someone who can fine-tune their message, and create web copy (and a web structure) which engages their readers. As a result, over the years I’ve developed a process for doing this effectively. There are four main steps:

1. Identify benefits

2. Identify how you deliver these benefits

3. Prioritize your benefits

4. Write the content

Although this article touches on step 1, it’s mostly about steps 2, 3, and 4.

STEP 1 – IDENTIFY YOUR BENEFITS

Branding aside, most websites are about selling. Customers don’t want to know what you can do; they want to know what you can do for THEM. That means the first question you should ask is, “What benefits do I offer my customers?” This is usually the first step toward identifying the key message to be conveyed.

That’s not to say that your website shouldn’t describe your products and services. You just need to make sure it describes them in terms of benefits to your customer.

But benefits identification is outside the scope of this article. If you’d like to find out more about how to engage your customer with benefits, go to http://www.divinewrite.com/benefits.htm.

over deliverOver DeliverSTEP 2 – IDENTIFY HOW YOU DELIVER THESE BENEFITS

Of course, you can’t just claim to deliver benefits and stop at that. You need to support that claim. On your website, you’re going to need to convince your audience that you actually do deliver these benefits. Anyone can say they deliver benefits, but few can say it persuasively.

From step 1 you’ll have a list of benefits. Now you need to think about how you deliver each benefit in that list. This is where you start talking about features – price, product highlights, distribution channel, competitor weaknesses, external factors, USPs, etc. It’s helpful if you draw up a table with one column for benefits and one for the features which deliver those benefits. (Click http://www.divinewrite.com/downloads/benefitsfeatures.doc to download an example Benefits-Features table – 20KB.)

You will probably find this process much easier than identifying benefits. In fact, you’ve probably got most of this information written down already… somewhere. If not, chances are you uncovered a good portion of it when you were brainstorming for benefits.

TIP: If you’re having trouble identifying supporting features, before filling out the table, try listing everything you can think of which relates to what you do, and how you do it. Don’t worry about the order. Just brain-dump onto a piece of paper, a whiteboard, a Word document, anywhere… Don’t leave anything out, even if it seems unimportant. (You’d be surprised how important even the most insignificant details can become once you start assigning them to benefits.) If you start getting lost, think back to the question you’re trying to answer: How do you deliver your list of benefits to your customer? Once you’ve done your brain-dump, read through it, and decide which specific benefit each feature delivers

Benefits offeredBenefits OfferedSTEP 3 – PRIORITISE YOUR BENEFITS

Now that you’ve identified all the things you COULD say, it’s time to figure out what you SHOULD say and where you should say it. This is where your benefits-features table comes into play. Read through your list of benefits and prioritize them according to how compelling they will be to your reader.

The reason for this? Priority determines prominence. The most compelling benefits will need to be prominent on your site.

TIP: Be aware that your list may include some benefits which everyone in your business category could claim. In other words, they’re not just specific to your company, but apply to the type of service you offer. For example, if you sell a Content Management System (CMS) for website creation, you may list “Greater control for marketing managers” and “Less expense updating content” as benefits. Every CMS vendor could claim these benefits, so you’ll need to question their importance. Will they differentiate you from your competitors? Generic benefits can be useful if none of your competitors are using them, or if you feel you need to educate your market a bit before launching into company-specific benefits.

STEP 4 – WRITE YOUR CONTENT

So now you know what you’d like to say, it’s time to decide how to say it. This is about three things:

1. Subject – What is the subject of your site; features or benefits?

2. Structure – How do you structure your site such that your customers will read your most compelling benefits?

3. Words – What words should you use to best engage your audience (and the search engines)?

The remainder of this article is dedicated to Subject and Structure. For further discussion of Words, see http://www.divinewrite.com/webwriting.htm and http://www.divinewrite.com/seocopy.htm).

Subject

What is the subject of your site; features or benefits? The answer to this question lies in audience identification. If your audience knows a bit about the type of product or service you’re selling, lead with features (e.g. processor speed, turnaround time, uptime, expertise, educational qualifications, wide product range, etc.). But make sure you talk about their benefits, and make sure the features offering the most important benefits are the most prominent.

services offeredServices OfferedHere’s a simplified example…

“Cool Widgets offers:

* Standard Operating Environment – Significantly reducing the complexity of your IT infrastructure

* System upgrades which are less expensive to license – Providing excellent TCO reductions”

In cases where you’re selling to an audience who knows very little about your product or service, lead with benefits (e.g. if you’re selling something technical to a non-technical audience).

Here’s the same simplified example, reversed for a novice audience…

“Cool Widgets offers:

* Reduced complexity of IT infrastructure – We can implement a Standard Operating Environment for your organization

* Reduced TCO – We can upgrade your IT to systems which are less expensive to license”

Structure

How do you structure your site in such a way that your customers will be sure to read your most compelling benefits? The answer is, keep it short ‘n sweet. And make it scan-able. This doesn’t mean you have to cut features or benefits. You just have to structure your site to accommodate your message.

While every site is different, as a rule of thumb it’s a good idea to introduce your main features and benefits on your home page. Summarize them – preferably using bullet points, but at the very least, clearly highlight them so that your audience can scan-read (e.g. bold, underline, colour, link).

special featuresSpecial FeaturesThen link from each summarized feature or benefit to a detailed description. Try to keep each page to approximately 200-400 words. You may need several pages to detail all your features and benefits. (Click http://www.divinewrite.com/downloads/pagestructure.doc to download a page structure template – 29KB.)

TIP: In cases where you need to introduce features and benefits which are generic to your field (rather than specific to your offering), your home page is generally the best place to do it. From there, you can lead to a second page summarizing the specific features and benefits of your offering.

Conclusion

Web copy is about far more than just clever words. It’s essential that you identify the benefits you offer your customer, and that you can convince your customer you actually deliver those benefits.

I hope that the guidance and tools provided in this article will help you on your way to engaging web copy which converts to sales.

Happy writing!

Give Stanley a call today on 081-525-1727 to discuss your requirements or send him an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ' to request a free quotation.

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Your Website Hurts My Eyes

man with smarting eyesMan With Smarting Eyes7 Reasons to Tone Down Your Advertising

So you're on the computer, as usual. Your eyes are smarting. Your back hurts. You want to jump in the car and sail down the highway with all the windows down and your hair flapping in the wind. But before you call it quits for the day, you have to look up just one more thing. Maybe it is web marketing, maybe you want to buy some artwork to hang in your office. Off to Google you go.

You type in the magic words, whatever they are, and watch as a list of websites flows down the page. You click on the first one, and it's an instant assault on your eyeballs. Ten glaring banners, flashing like Vegas at midnight. One of those annoying hover ads that follows you as you scroll and won't let you read anything until you click the corner. Some sparkly things "snowing" down the page. Frantic messages screaming things like BUY NOW! LAST CHANCE! INSTANT SUCCESS CAN BE YOURS. A picture of a grinning guy who reminds you of your creepy Uncle Lester.

You click away. Not today, not any day. You don't care what that guy is selling or even if he's giving something away, because his presentation is god-awful. Just when you thought you'd escaped the mayhem, a sneaky little window pops up: "WHY DID YOU LEAVE THIS SITE? Please fill out this quick survey!" Are they kidding? You consider typing something offensive in the "Leave Your Comment" box, but figure it will only encourage someone to spam you with unwanted offers.

email popupEmail PopupWe are all familiar with this web-surfing experience. It's downright unpleasant. What's your opinion of someone who pitches their company in such a loud and desperate manner? Do you believe all of their pie-in-the-sky promises? Do they strike you as a company run by people who are intelligent, honest and reliable? Are you going to whip out your credit card because they tell you to?

Of course you're not. Being the loudest, the brightest, the busiest and the boldest may attract attention, but it does not bring sales. That's something to remember when you're creating your own company website. What DOES attract and keep new customers coming back? A simple, tasteful web design. An easily navigable site. Copy that's crisp, clean, and interesting.

Here are 7 reasons to tone down your advertising:

1. Flash is just too flashy. A flash presentation can be creative and unique, but is it really needed for what you offer? Will that kooky winking clown-head in the corner really make the sale for you? Even if you find a really excellent designer, who can put together an incredible high-tech Flash feature, consider the harried web surfer. She's been clicking all day; do you really think she has the patience to stand for one more mini-movie?

too much advertising to enjoy surfingToo Many Adverts to Enjoy Surfing2. Too many messages cancel each other out. Ever try to read one of those pharmacy circulars when you're tired? All of those big red words emblazoned across the page. Headlines crammed in beside blown-out price points and cheap photography. It isn't easy! If you try to cram a whole bunch of words on your website, guess what? Not one of those messages is going to be read, let alone remembered. The eye doesn't know where to look! Try a visual whisper instead of a scream. Make your point as best you can, but take care to leave white space, so the eyes have a resting place where they can digest what you've said.

3. Movement is distracting. Think about the last time you visited a website with "magical stars" sprinkling down over the words. Were you able to read and understand it? Mind the weary web surfer; be kind to his eyes! You stand a much better chance of holding a customer's interest with words that aren't flying off the page, but rather, standing still in one spot, waiting quietly for someone to read them!

click mouseClick Mouse4. The mighty click is all-powerful. You know what it is to be that web hunter. The mouse is in your hand; you're in total control! Now think of that other person palming the mouse, surfing YOUR site. If your website is a frenzy of colour and confusion, all it takes is one CLICK and you're forgotten! Don't want them to click away? Here's how to make them stay. Keep it clean and simple!

5. Your empty promises are lost on the sceptical consumer. Think about your own web-surfing experiences. Did you believe that guy who told you he'd make you a millionaire, if you just SIGN UP TODAY? You're better off being honest and optimistic, than crazed and fanatical about what you can offer your customer.

6. Pop-ups are really annoying. Have you ever been so intrigued by a pop-up ad that you bought whatever they were raving about? My guess is no. Do you appreciate it when you're trying to get some work done on the computer and fifteen pop-up ads crowd your screen and overload your hard drive? I certainly don't! If you don't like such rude interruptions, then don't impose them on somebody else. I don't care how many times that marketing guru tells you it will improve your search engine ranking. Search engine stats might give you exposure, but click rates mean nothing if the customer's not buying.

7. No one reads really long sales letters. Ah, how brilliant of those copywriting experts to convince you that a six-page letter is going to bring in big bucks for your company. Especially if you're paying them by the hour or word! A two-page letter will do the same thing as a six-pager, and more. The 'more' being that it will hold your reader's interest the whole way through. Brevity is the key to great writing. If you can make a great argument in five words or less, you've got it all over the next guy. Keep that in mind before you put the Magna Carta on your web portal.

happy websurfingHappy WebsurfingWant to design and write website content that attracts and captivates? Want to bring your visitors back for seconds, thirds, fourths, and the ultimate purchase? Then keep the above "distractors" to a minimum. Really try to put yourself in the other person's shoes... the one who is searching the internet for what you have. Think about all of those things that prevent you from enjoying your web surfing experience, and then take care to remove them from your own company website! Offer tasteful, subtle design, eloquent headlines, and clear, informative copy. Be honest about what you sell and how it can make a difference for your potential customer. Speak softly, and watch the sales roll in.

Give Stanley a call today on 081-525-1727 to discuss your requirements or send him an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ' to request a free quotation.

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Why You Absolutely Must Have A Website?

a website is your business cardA Website is Your Business CardIn today’s culture, a website represents your business card – even if you don’t have a business! Your child may have a website, your neighbour may have a website, and even your local place of worship has a website.

A website allows you to communicate – keep in touch with as many people as possible, while at the same time minimising the cost of doing so. Can you imagine the cost of consistently printing and mailing to 2000 loyal customers every month?

A website cuts down on your total cost of postage, and your everyday word processing software cuts down on physically writing out every greeting, or piece of correspondence.

However, a website does the one thing that you’re always looking for: a website helps to free your time.

Your time is the most precious commodity that you’ll never be able to get back. You’ll never be able to play that magnificent round of golf, go vacationing with the family or watching your child perform in their school play, if you’re constantly trying to free yourself of responsibilities.

deteriorating websiteDeteriorating WebsiteA website is a lot of work to start. That’s the truth. The best way to look at your website is to view it as your own body. When you put the right fuel (food) in your system, your body runs efficiently. You aren’t constipated, you have lots of energy, and you feel great. Combine this with a little exercise, and you’ll live a fairly long life. When you start feeding yourself bad food, you start to feel tired and irritable. You may gain weight and start outgrowing your favourite clothing.

That’s the same thing that could happen to your website, if it gets neglected. Just like your body, a website starts to deteriorate. The pride that you showed at having a website disappears, and your website suffers.

If you still have doubts about having a website, think of it as your on-line sales centre. Imagine having a system that can take your orders when you are asleep. Or a system that will allow you to take a holiday, and monitor your sales if you want to, without asking a sales manager? Maybe you don’t want to hire and train a new employee to take your orders, and to know your sales process. A website helps you be better at what you do, not what you shouldn’t.

Give Stanley a call today on 081-525-1727 to discuss your requirements or send him an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ' to request a free quotation.

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Your Company's Website – Design, Development & Marketing Aspects

planning a websitePlanning a Website This is the last part of a three part series dealing with guidelines on how to plan, present and develop your company’s website. In part one we explored the importance of having a professional website to represent your company online. In part two, we identified the quality approach of planning your company’s website.

Now in our last part of this series, we will take a quick look into the website design, development/and marketing aspects and your Company’s image.

Company Brand

First step when looking into website design, development and marketing, is concentrating on your company's logo. Your company logo should be the focus point of your website – remember: it is all about your company. Your marketing material should all look similar – business cards, printing materials, online PDF’s – all should deliver the same message and have the same connection.

The main objective of your website design, development and marketing, is to connect prospective clients with your company. They are all alone there, without any sales person to guide them, and explain how the company works, so make sure it can stands on its own merit. Your website must present your company well, as there will be no human factor once a visitor comes around.

build search engine friendly websiteBuild Search Engine Friendly WebsiteEngine and User Friendly

A website is not a brochure! When concentrating on your company's website design, development and marketing, all materials should be created according to using online marketing. The copyright for a website is not the same as used on your printing materials, images have a special format and size, colours should be wisely used, and navigation should be easy, with absolutely no dead ends.

Building a search engine friendly website is not a task that every website design and development company can manage, so make sure you do your homework before hiring a web site design, development and marketing expert. To create a website that is search engine friendly, the team of professionals working on your website, need to have the knowledge and expertise on search engines; how they work and index websites. If a website is not built taking into consideration how search engines work, and the criteria used to index sites in their database, it will probably be invisible to search engine robots. They will not be able to index your site properly, or maybe not to index it at all.

Another common mistake is to hire a website design and development company without enough knowledge on search engine algorithms and might put your website at a great risk using spamming techniques. With the incredible growth of websites being indexed -- about 11.5 billion websites indexed with search engines -- you want to make sure the company working on your website has the expertise to build it to be seen.

crawling and indexingCrawling and IndexingSearch Engine Optimization [SEO] & Search Engine Marketing [SEM]

If you offer products or services that Internet users are searching for, you certainly should look into having your web site indexed with search engines. Building a search engine friendly website is just the beginning; you need to make sure the website will be found by potential users searching for the products and services you offer.

Potential customers are more and more using the Internet and search engines to look for products and services they need and want, and having a website that no potential customer can find, is a waste of time and money. Use your website as a marketing and online sales tool.

Over the past few years of the web’s evolution as a key business tool, shows that an effective website mines prospects that other vehicles do not reach, shortens the sales cycle – in many cases dramatically so – and delivers early and consistent ROI.

seo analysisS.E.O. AnalysisMonitoring and Measurement of the Product

The capability of being able to evaluate, validate and verify if the effectiveness of your SEO campaign is critical. Reputable Search Engine Optimization [SEO] & Search Engine Marketing [SEM] companies will provide you monthly reports showing your current status and suggestions for areas that need improvement (number of visitors per page, time spent, referrals, exit pages, high traffic pages, keywords being used, etc).

Happy manHappy ManUse the information above as guide lines and always use common sense. Your website should be an extension of your company’s image online, and present the same standards of quality and customer appreciation.

Now that you are ready to start, don’t forget that creating a website has lots of work involved, but also lots of excitement. In the process of building your website, you are also expanding your company, and giving it new form and shape.

You must be full of enthusiasm to start, or redesign your website now.

Give Stanley a call today on 081-525-1727 to discuss your requirements or send him an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ' to request a free quotation.

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