When taking the first steps into getting a website, many business owners may not understand the differences between a custom or bespoke website and a pre-made template website. It is important however to understand the implications of both. The fact that all CMS’s are built using a template does not mean a “template” is bad, the issue that is addressed here is whether the template is pre-made or custom-built.
If a web agency offers “see your website before it is made” or is giving a bargain at hundreds of pounds below competitors’ prices, most likely they are using a pre-made template. Pre-made templates are not bespoke web design as these templates have been used from other websites. A pre-made design template means that you’ll be unable to change the design, layout or functionality; the look and feel is unchangeable; and it is difficult to apply any custom made features.
Nevertheless there is one advantage of a pre-made template. The quickness with which your web agency can get your website online, perhaps up and running within a week’s time. If budget is holding you back from getting your business up on the Internet, then maybe a website template might be the way to go.
With a custom-built or bespoke web design service a web agency can discuss the most important issues of a business and give a good think over on the best way to maximise a businesses potential on the web.
For example, one of our customers Wright Automotive, an Edinburgh garage that provides van and car repair servicing and repairs, wanted customers to be able to access his website and contact him through a booking form. This meant we had to build a form for each one of his service pages, this we did by building a bespoke web template for his website only. In the end his customers could book his services directly through the website. Though we had not built something like this before, we recognised the form was an important element for his website to bring in sales.
Custom made templates:
- It will be constructed so it is search engine friendly
- The website will be more adaptable to your company’s needs
- If you have planned what you want in the future for your website, the designer will take this into consideration when they select the technologies to use while building the website
A bespoke web design service will be built by talented and expert web developers who will take time to plan your site so that it is search engine friendly. Web designers will create a custom website and also be sure that it works and looks good in all browsers. A higher budget is needed for a custom built site, but the benefits far outweigh the investment and most often the business will break even from a bespoke web design.
Optimise Web was formed in 2006 as a small digital agency and is a division of Optimise Solutions Ltd. located in the foothills of Roslin, Edinburgh in the heartland of Scotland. We believe in holistic web and marketing solutions and our primary aim is to build high-conversion websites. We not only specialise in building websites using the Magento and WordPress platform but also provide online marketing solutions that rank our sites high on Google.
In 2007, not long after the introduction of the powerful ecommerce platform Magento, we were asked to revamp the online store of an existing furniture retail client whose website was not bringing any revenue. Within six months after the launch of their Magento-built site their eCommerce profits paid off their website investment. Currently their website accounts for 75% of their current revenue. After this Magento project we quickly become one of the fastest growing web development companies that use the Magento platform within the UK. We continue to strive to deliver holistic websites and positively influence traffic, conversions and profitability.
Throughout the years we have also supported small Edinburgh businesses, such as 7Cs Edinburgh and Heathers Cakes, by helping them attain customers through great looking websites at an affordable price we often go the distance to get results for our clients. We believe that when they do well, we do well. Sure enough, many of our new customers came to us through word-of-mouth and recommendations. Our current client-base includes more than forty small-to-medium sized organisations scattered throughout the UK.
In 2009 Optimise Web took on an in-house designer to handle the visual-appearance of our sites and in 2010 we welcomed an experienced coder for the back-end development and programming of our quickly growing Magento projects. This year in 2011 we have had two new hires; another coder to handle our WordPress Websites and an SEO specialist for Marketing and Web Analytics. These skill-sets have given Optimise Web a well-rounded edge to provide expertise in both the front-end and back-end areas in order to build complex websites and bespoke ecommerce sites. In addition our marketing expertise helps to boost our client’s online reputation post-launch. As a team we understand that building a website is more than just making it look good, it’s about using the proper web standards and mastering it as an art.
Currently Optimise Web is a member of the Midlothian Chamber of Commerce and Business Link. We like to participate in the Edinburgh community when possible and recently sponsored Social Innovation Camp (SIC) Edinburgh, a weekend workshop that helps bring together people and digital tools to build web-based solutions to social problems.
If you are an Edinburgh or UK established business and would like to inquire about a website design or eCommerce website, please contact us.
Wright Automotive: An Edinburgh garage, Wright Automotive provides van and car repair servicing and repairs, breakdown recovery and valeting in the Midlothian area.
Wright Automotive’s previous website was built on a very limited budget. It was a mesh of pictures and text and did not get info across in a clean, straightforward manner. The website was not search-engine friendly and could not be found on google even when using the appropriate search terms.
Optimise Web redesigned the website so that it meets google standards and maximises search engine rankings. Getting customer bookings was the primary aim of the site and therefore we focused the design so that every page includes a form for clients to book their vehicle. We used WordPress as it is user-friendly for clients with its easy-to-manage content system.
We also placed the most relevant information on the homepage so it is easy to find, and provides the information that customers actually want to know.
Our design was built on the Wright Automotive brand. By using its signature red, along with warm colours and professional photos of actual staff, this trustworthy connection to the customer demonstrates how Wright Automotive is a high-quality garage.
John is the owner of a toy retailer and wants his website to appear on the first page of Google UK for the keyword “toys”. The first thing that we explained to John is that he is competing against industry giants with millions to spend on marketing activities to achieve their page-one rankings.
For us, or any SEO company, to be able to put John’s website on par with these giants is not possible without a tough fight, and a good marketing budget. As long as you are willing to trust in us and provide us with the right amount of time and budget, we will fight for your website to be on page one.
Unfortunately for small business owners, there are SEO companies out there that give a blind page-one guarantee on any keyword, just to get your business on their portfolio.
We do not work like this.
Google has dictated that no SEO company can give guarantees for a page-one ranking. We as SEO specialists can only follow Google’s guidelines and play within the boundaries set by Google. No SEO company will know how Google ranking algorithms work and for this very reason SEO companies cannot accurately predict the outcome of their SEO activities. Additionally, Google constantly updates their algorithms; a recent update called Google Panda negatively ranked even some of the big name websites from their SEO malpractices.
We understand that every business owner’s dream is to see their website appear on the first page of Google. It is also our dream to get our customers on on page-one. As an ethical SEO company we only guarantee to give a page one listing for keywords on a realistic level.
Puji Furniture: Puji Ltd is a London based company specialising in the design and import of recycled hard wood furniture such as Teak and Oak. The Puji dream began when design graduate Jimmy Loannou decided after having successfully worked in the furniture industry for many years that he wanted to begin creating his own exclusive range. He wanted to help people create a living space that would be inspiring, functional and tranquil by offering products that will complement existing design and furniture.
Puji.com was built using Drupal and Zen Cart. The website was attracting many visitors, but the site’s bounce rate was very high and it wasn’t generating enough sales. The site’s layout and usability were quite outdated and required a complete rethink.
Harnessing the power of the Magento eCommerce platform, we re-strategized / re-designed / re-built the whole website.
Puji is a medium sized company with a good reputation in the furniture industry. Jimmy Ioannou (owner of Puji Ltd.) was involved in all aspects of the business from buying stock to marketing and sales but realised that the website required a lot of time and they needed a specialist to take control of the website side of the business.
Puji’s first online store provided limited flexibility for their high demands and was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain. Jimmy also realised his site was not adequately prepared for the challenge of online purchases. Having heard about the growing popularity of the eCommerce software Magento, Puji approached Optimise Web’s parent company, Optimise Solutions Ltd., for advice.
“We had lots of interesting ideas for Puji. Initially the workload was quite a bit to handle but as Puji was already a respected client we really worked hard to push through to make sure that their new website stood out from competitors and increased online sales beyond expectations.” – Adrian, Developer
Optimise Web went through with the strategy, design, usability, test and updates for all of Puji’s eCommerce needs. The project took eight months. Notwithstanding the result was outstanding, Puji had tripled their yearly revenue within three months of the website launch!
The hard work and Magento development put into Puji paid off as an example for other furniture companies. The results were so outstanding that two of Puji’s competitors quickly went to Optimise Web asking about Magento.
“One of my furniture clients asked me if it was ethical to work with competitors. I always tell them, the competitors are not your neighbours in the business park, the threat comes from the multinational giants. Having developed Magento particularly for small and medium sized companies in the furniture industry, we really understand how to cater to their particular needs” – Sid, Project Manager
For Puji the real value in using Magento as a platform is seen directly in their profits. In a three month period they increased their online sales more than 50%, wayover and above their expectations.
Puji now appears on Google page one for the following keywords:
Indonesian Furniture, Light Teak Furniture, Oriental Bedroom Furniture, Reclaimed Teak Furniture, Dark Wood Furniture, Contemporary Home Furniture, Chinese Furniture, Contemporary Home Lighting, Chunky Furniture and many other words!
Following the success of the eCommerce website revamp project, Puji has now appointed Optimise Web as their Website Design & SEO choice.
I would write thousand testimonals about the commitment and service Optimise Web have offered. I feel very secure in the knowledge that Optimise Web will be hosting and maintaining our website. – Marian Constantinou, Puji Ltd
Integrated Dentalcare: An Edinburgh based cosmetic dentist and growing business, Integrated Dentalcare provides friendly and top quality dental treatments, implants, teeth whitening and other dental services using state-of-the-art technologies. They are the only dental clinic in Scotland and part of a small worldwide group to be able to offer waterlaser dentistry.
Integrated Dentalcare had employed a top SEO agency from Edinburgh to optimise and market their website, but got very little results. They didn’t even get periodic reports on what SEO activities were being done.
In 2009, Integrated Dentalcare approached Optimise Web in order build up google rankings and get found on the first page of Google search results. After the initial free consultation and advice session, Optimise Web recommended that before doing any SEO work, the dentistry needed to revamp the code and content of their website. No further discussion pursued.
One year later Optimise Web did a bit of research and ran some tests on the Integrated Dentalcare website and found that their search ranking and site quality had not improved at all. Optimise Web again recommended to refurbish the website, which actually costed much less than monthly SEO costs. Thus began the project to revamp the Integrated Dentalcare website from unproductive to bullet-proof.
Optimise Web undertook extensive market and keyword research for the dental market and made sure the website was fit to communicate Integrated Dentacare’s business ethos. As a result the look and feel of the website was altered into modern and professional. The framework of the website was strengthened and within three to four months the website got ranked high in Google search results. Phone calls and enquiries to the practice have increased and Integrated Dentalcare is finally making a name for themselves on the web.
Integrated Dentalcare now appears on Google page one for the following keywords in the Edinburgh region:
General Dentalcare, Affordable Dentistry, Mercury Free Dentistry, Decay Detection, Orthodontist, Dental Extraction, Family Dentistry, Orthodontics, Wisdom Tooth Extraction, Painless Laser Dentistry, Emergency Dentist, Dental Implants and many other words!
Following the success of the website revamp project, Integrated Dentalcare has now appointed Optimise Web as their digital marketing agency.
After employing a top Edinburgh website SEO company and wasting much time and money, we were fortunate enough to take the opportunity to work with Sid and his team at Optimise Web. Through Sid’s hard work, research and perseverance now anyone on the internet can easily find out about the innovative technologies we offer at our dental practice. Optimise web have revamped and optimized our website such that within the space of one year, where we may receive one hit by accident we are receiving regular hits, many of which turn into enquiries. This dedication has followed through with Kristina and the other members. They take a genuine interest in the progress of the website and regularly come up with interesting new ideas to improve the user experience and our visibility. It’s a shame we wasted a year before deciding to work with them. – Neeraj Puri, Dentist, Integrated Dentalcare
It could be argued that the consumer’s trust of a seller is a critical precursor to a transactional relationship in an eCommerce environment. Therefore establishing a strong online presence will indirectly affect the attitude of the consumer to purchase your items or services. Listed below are seven SEO and Internet Marketing tips to make your Business-to-Consumer credibility worthwhile:
Article / Blog
All traffic generated from a blog is organic traffic resulting from high-quality content. This content is a less formal, open way to communicate with potential customers. A blog creates links easily back to the website if you decide to leave comments on others peoples blogs.
- Blogging will help develop stronger relationships and loyalty with your clients by providing useful information on a regular basis
- By enabling comments to your blog, you’ll have a free opportunity to get feedback and see how the readers react to your products, prices, etc.
- The more you blog, the more traffic you get
Just remember, if you don’t keep your blog updated, the company might loose points on reputation.
A lot of great brands are creating awesome online videos to promote themselves. Companies create videos for several reasons:
- In the hopes that it goes viral and encourages social behaviour
- Illustrate their expertise in a certain area
- So it can be used as a valuable resource on the web
This is about leveraging internet video to connect with casual viewers. One obvious place to put videos is Youtube, but you might also put your video in a blog where people can comment and leave feedback.
In order for videos to do the above points, vidoes should be:
- easily accessible
- easy to find
- portable or embeddable
- make sure it is well formatted to fit certain sites
- shareable so that it gets out easily
With a podcast you should be aiming to give free, helpful information out. The podcast should be non-biased and in no way advertise your own business. It should be fairly short and provide a brief, informational piece of news. All you need for a Podcast are a computer, microphone, audio recording and editing software like Audacity and a place to serve the MP3 files. Creativity also helps!
Ezine articles submission is another great way to show off your expertise on the web. Ezine Articles get over one-million visitors per day and have a range of topics from Business, Computer and Technology to Arts and Entertainment. Writing enough quality articles will get you the status of being an Expert Author and and give you mass levels of exposure on the web.
Make your news “newsworthy”, a press release is not a sales advertisement. I once read somewhere that a press release should answer all of the “W” questions (who, what, where, when and why), and sometimes “how.” Your purpose in writing it is twofold: to provide your customers with useful and relevant information about your organization, product or service and to get your name out.
If your domain name is hard to remember you might want to think about going with something else. Also, if you plan to go international, make sure your name doesn’t mean something crude in another language! A bad name could really harm business.
A domain name should fit the following criteria:
- Short and sweet
- A good extension (.com, .co.uk, .de)
- Easy spelling
I just recently read that user reviews do affect your SEO. If you have a seriously awesome product or service, than take advantage of your happy customers and have them write reviews for you on Google. This is the most important kind of consumer credibility that is out there!
We all know that service industries rely on good customer service to survive. As a service provider, in order to stand out from your competitors, going that extra mile to look after your clients can make a big difference to your business growth and success. After all, your customers will talk about you if they receive an above average experience as well as a below average service. However, how often are you so taken aback by good customer service that you want to tell everyone about it? Probably not that often. Yet, doing that little bit extra to make your customers feel special can be so simple, there should be no excuse for every business not to make an effort.
Here is a great example of excellent service that I experienced just last week. Whilst organising a friend’s Stag party, I came across a small business called F5karting who provide Land Yachting experiences and tuition in Scotland. I made a booking with them for an afternoon of Land Yachting for my stag party guests. However, a few days before the booked date, we received an email from F5karting to say that the weather forecast for that day was for “no wind”. No wind means no land yachting; we were very disappointed. I called Carol-Ann at F5karting to discuss the implications. She offered us an alternative date, which was not suitable for our party, so instead she spent a few hours telephoning several other outdoor activity providers to find us an alternative activity based on our (quite demanding) needs at very short notice. We had not paid a deposit when booking with F5karting and when I asked Carol-Ann if she got commission for referring us to other activity providers she said “No, I use these situations as a good opportunity to network with other companies”. So, despite not receiving any money for a lost booking and receiving no commission for referring us to another company, she still went out of her way to ensure were catered to in a very courteous, cheerful manner. She even negotiated a 50% discount on our behalf with the company who took us out for an afternoon of outdoor sports activities. That is what I call good customer service. Then to my surprise, I received a text message on my phone, the day after our booking, from Carol-Ann at F5karting, asking if we had had a good day of activities with the other company.
Carol-Ann used some basic principles of good customer service in a highly skilled and effective manner in order to ensure that I had a positive experience:
- Being polite, courteous and positive at all times, despite not making a sale
- Being creative and resourceful when finding alternatives to replace a service she could no longer provide
- Acting as a liaison when referring us to another company
- Negotiating preferential rates for the services provided by the other company to add value
- Following up on the referral to ensure we received good service from the referred company
As a result of missing out on the Land Yachting we wanted, for reasons beyond anyone’s control, I am more keen than ever to book a session with Carol-Ann. This is not just because Land Yachting looks like great fun, but because I feel like she did me a huge favour by working hard to make sure my stag party guests got the day of fun they were expecting. Thus a negative situation, in this case the F5karting no longer being able to deliver an agreed service, was turned into a positive one.
What have I learned from this? Taking a few minutes to think about your customer and exceeding their expectations costs very little, but in the end will make your customers feel compelled or maybe even obligated to return to you for repeat business. Even small gestures can make the difference between customers feeling like they had an amazing experience, rather than just a good experience. Even though you may not get a sale from the customer on every occasion, by giving them a positive memory of your business they may well return in the future.
As I arrived to work this morning the web developers in my office asked me if I had listened to the radio recently. No, I hadn’t, why? On the way to work they had heard a Yell (the original yellow pages directory) radio advert. The radio ad promoted website design and SEO services for small companies and included testimonials of Yell’s web consultants who “love to build websites”.
In July the Wall Street Journal reported Yell Group PLC share prices falling with the announcement of a major online expansion of digital services where investors learned they’d have to wait until 2015 for a return to revenue and profit growth. Now here is the marketing plan rolling out.
Websites Made Easy?
My coworkers, understandably, were annoyed. The website business is a niche and creative industry and here was a corporation trying to break in with the slogan “Websites Made Easy”, which is a non-sequitur anyway. We understand easy websites might be from the customer point of view, but I question the word “easy” used in a slogan let alone a website service. Unfortunately, the trend these days seems to be “quick and easy” and like anything else that is done with this mentality in mind, don’t expect anything of high-quality.
A website is a piece of architecture, and like any building you not only need a main architect but a plethora of specialists to make the building strong and sturdy. A website, like a building, needs to withstand the future. It requires a designer for aesthetics; a web developer for the foundation; an online marketing specialist will sell and market the website online. “Easy” is simply not a suitable word along the lines of website building.
Yell Customer Experience
One of our customers who owns a well-established garage previously bought the Yell package, or rather was sold one as he perceived the Yell sales tactics to be quite aggressive (in our own experience, they’ll hassle you for days until you finally relent to buy their product). I decided to go down to his car garage to speak with him about his Yell experience. He mentioned he paid somewhere between £500 to £800 per year to get his name in the Yell directory. He additionally said he had one very long conversation about his business but didn’t hear back from them until they wanted a renewal the following year.
They might advertise otherwise, but in our experience the content is not tailored to the individual business.
Sly Yell Tactics
What small business owners don’t know (and rightly-so as they are not web professionals) is that Yell uses the same design format for all small businesses. There are several consequences to this however:
- They don’t know enough about the customer – Yell uses SEO based on the company industry and not the specific company products and services. This can result in similar pages and content for company’s in the same industry.
- Untailored Website – A copy webpage may SEO well but would put off most potential clients who see your business for the first time.
- Duplicate Content – Any advantage by using Yell services will be null as everyone will be using the same SEO keywords (based on industry) – worse if you find your SEO is exactly the same as someone else’s.
- Commision-Based – you can imagine that Yell sales are based on commission, which means they want to sell you as much as they can, not what you actually need.
The truth is, there is no simple route to the online marketplace. It takes hardwork and constant communication between the client and web agency. If you want better results for your marketing budget, contact us. No need to Yell for one.
With each year there are more great e-commerce development technologies available alongside Magento eCommerce software. Below we offer a few examples of furniture websites which are great examples of Magento store development and customisation. You may wish to use these furniture websites to model your own eCommerce store off of, so here we explain the few examples of bespoke Magento customisations made by the Optimise Web team.
Magento Classic Website
The Puji Homepage shows all main categories. This website is a representation of what Magento is most commonly used for: good categorisation and navigation. It also serves as a good example of what can be achieved with Magento software.
Magento Customisation: Banner Slideshow
The slideshow module shows various banner ads on the homepage in where the website owner can manage images to the slideshow in the admin back end. This particular page includes four different banner ads.
Magento Customisation: Tabs
This feature packs a lot of content into page in a neat and easy way. Here a user can view Delivery Charges, Deposit Info, Assembly and Materials and Related Articles within one content box.
Magento Customisation: Request a call back
If a potential customer likes a product, this button allows them to leave their details so that the store can get back to the customer request on that particular item. This customisation then sends out an email to the administrator and includes details of the product the customer was viewing when they clicked the button to open the form.
Magento Customisation: Modify it with Bespoke
If a customer likes a particular product but would like to change the size, this option allows them to specify the length, width and height of the piece of furniture.
Magento Customisation: Product Zoom Widget
As the browser scrolls the mouse over the product image, it offers an enlarged view of a product.
Magento Customisation: Auto-related Products
The auto related products feature populates itself if no related products are specified in the back end. Otherwise, it shows other products that the browser might be interested in. Seen here as “You may also like…”
Magento Customisation: Gift List
The gift list is a special custom search funtion that allows a search for list-holders names. This particular item is custom written and it has proved a worthwhile feature for the Raft website.
The above listed are all Optimise Web customisations which enhance the Magento software for your eCommerce store. The goal of Magento is to provide store owners an outstandingly wide range of flexibility and control over the look, content, and functionality of an Online Store.