What is a blog and what is a website?

October 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm | Posted in Blogging, Clients, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media | Comments Off on What is a blog and what is a website?

Recently I was asked this question and here I will try and answer the question as best as I can.

A blog is updated regularly but then again so is a website!  Actually I don’t think that there is any difference they are both used to give information, sell products, keep people up to date with events and so on.  I think that it comes down to the layout which creates a difference and our perception.

I think that initially blogs were simplified versions of websites which were designed to be quick to update and show the updates in a clear diary style.  Our perception is that they should be updated regularly.

Blogging platforms like WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr have a certain style in that they list the entries in a diary style, they have tags and categories which can be used to navigate to articles (in addition to a menu) and they have the ability to allow comments.

Looking at this blog, you can see that there is a menu at the top of the page. On the right hand side there is a list of recent posts, a list of months which shows when updates were made,  a category list (when you write a post you will put it in a category) – this is great as you can click on “mobile devices” for example and it will list all the posts in that category.

WordPress has managed to straggle quite successfully the world of blogs and websites and their sites can be developed to look like websites and not like blogs and is very popular.  In fact, I read somewhere that 1 in 6 websites are powered by WordPress.  That is also a bad thing, as it is so popular it is an obvious target for hackers so WordPress are constantly updating their software.  This is the same issue for all public content management systems, eg Joomla and Drupal.  So you need to keep on top of all updates and make sure the your site is securely hosted.

WordPress is an excellent platform and is used by millions of many people there is multiple places to go for “help” eg books, YouTube videos and forums.  It is easy to use and set up.   And there are two versions…

wordpress.com

Advantages

  • It is free and easy to set up.
  • You get 3GB of storage but you can buy more if you need it..
  • There are over 200 ready made templates to choose from and you can change the template whenever you want – if not more.
  • Your data is stored on WordPress servers, which are very robust, they back it up, protect is from spam, update the software etc.
  • Easy to update.

Disadvantages:

  • The domain name includes wordpress.com for example: wordpress.com.
  • they add adverts to your site but you do not get a say in what adverts, so this is where you pay for a ‘free’ website.
  • There are over 200 ready made templates to choose from so someone may have a site that looks similar to yours. So it is not bespoke.
  • You are confined to the design.
  • No support apart from forums. 

(Information is correct to 2nd October 2015)

Paying WordPress

You can buy your domain name from WordPress so it would appear without ‘Wordpress’ in the extension.

Advantages

  • You get 13GB of storage.
  • No adverts
  • Ability to alter the templates eg colours, font.
  • Upload video (on the free package you would have had to upload to YouTube or Vimeo and embed the video).
  • Email support.
  • Your data is stored on WordPress servers, they back it up, protect is from spam, update the software etc.
  • Easy to update.

Disadvantages

  • You have to pay WordPress and if you want to change the fonts etc you may have to pay someone to develop the site to make it look as you want .
  • You are not able to develop the site any further, if you wanted you would need http://www.wordpress.org.

(Information is correct to 2nd October 2015)

wordpress.org

The software package is downloaded to your computer or uploaded directly to an Internet Service Provider’s server and you use the framework to design a website.

Advantages

  • The software is free
  • There are all sorts of plugins designed by enhance your website. Most are free.
  • Customise your own template, bespoke design, can grow as your business and traffic grows.
  • Free to choose the host ISP.

Disdvantages

You are responsible for:

  • Installing and setting up your WordPress site.
  • Regularly updating your themes and plugins (remember those hackers).
  • Updating your WordPress version when new versions roll out (remember those hackers).
  • Keeping your site secure for your visitors and protecting your site against hackers and spam.
  • Backing up your whole site regularly in case it.
  • Resolving problems with your site and server if they arise

(Information is correct to 2nd October 2015)

Hosts

Ideally you choose a host who will take some or all of these points, which of course is reflected in their price.  Some companies offer 10GB of bandwidth for about £25 per year but you have to take on the responsibility of updating the website.  However managed packages, where the ISP (Internet Service Provider) takes on the responsibility of updates and even setting up the site for you charge from £4.99 per month to £20 per month.  So it is definitely worth shopping around.

The Solutions Factory and WordPress

 

We do not offer a development package for WordPress there are plenty more developers out there who would make a much better job of it than us.  However, if you do go down the route of having your website developed through WordPress.org you will need to make sure you know who is responsible for updates and back ups.

We use the free wordpress.com system as you can see, although we’re not a regular bloggers as you can tell!).

The other features which I like about this free system:

  • com takes care of the security updates and the backups. But if I was worried about my articles I would keep a copy on my own machine.
  • When you ‘press’ an article it is also publish on the “Freshly Pressed” WordPress site which bloggers who are signed in can see. More people see your post!
  • People can follow your blog and receive automatic email when you create a post.
  • You can reblog other people’s blogs – easier than writing yourself and your audience gets to see what’s important  to you.
  • The site is simple, we don’t need any plugins such as photo sliders.
  • We are not too worried with our brand, we have our own website so there is no problem with using the .wordpress.com extension.
  • As it’s free, it doesn’t matter if we don’t use it for 3 years!

 

The above essay has been written as someone asked me the question.  This is not the opinion of The Solutions Factory Ltd but of the author.  This is not a recommendation and information is correct to 2nd October 2015.

Lesley Parker

 

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Introducing the new kid on the block… Pinterest

March 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Clients, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Web Design | Comments Off on Introducing the new kid on the block… Pinterest

I came across Pinterest a few months ago via Twitter.  I wasn’t sure about it at first and with so many of these social media sites the best thing for me to do is join and have a go. So, I did.  Oddly, if you join you have to wait 24 hours or so for your invite!  It sounds extraordinary in this day and age but if you are invited by an existing member it’s quicker. Anyway once I signed in and started playing around with the site, even reading the instructions, I realised that this was not about saying what you had for lunch or where you had been but about interesting visuals – photos and videos of posters, fashion, design, architecture, interiors etc, etc, etc.  It’s a website for what people put on their pinboards, not on their wall at home but on their computer on the web where everyone can see it. Interesting as whatever you have pinned, could become viral.  I eventually found a lovely blog which describes what Pinterest is and how to use it: http://www.2wired2tired.com/what-is-pinterest-tutorial.

Of course, this is a business opportunity, as way of driving traffic to your website, if you have a visual business that is.  When someone pins the photo from your website to their board, your web address is also displayed. Other people on Pinterest could ‘like’ or even ‘repin’ the image and of course they may follow through and go to your website and then it’s up to you and the content which you have on your website.

So how do we make people pin something from your website?  I have a gadget called ‘Pin it’ in my browser window (I’m using Firefox) which when I click on it, the website changes so that it displays just the images on the page. I then click on the one I want on my pinboard and, once I’ve logged in, it appears on my pinboard.  Social Bookmarks are now including Pinterest to their choices too, something which can be added to every page of your website.  Or, if you have a Pinterest page of your own you can add a ‘Follow me on Pinterest’ plus link on your website.

There are some great ideas for marketing using Pinterest: http://www.copyblogger.com/pinterest-marketing/

I think that Pinterest is fun, and is great to look at.  It is certainly more interesting than Google+ which has so far proved to be very disappointing.  In comparison to Pinterest it is too complicated to use and complicated takes too much time.  I hope to persuade some of our existing clients to use it as it might be beneficial to them.

Privacy, Time, Design

February 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Posted in Clients, Social Media | Comments Off on Privacy, Time, Design

I finally persuaded a client to have a Facebook page, as I think it will enhance the business as there would be more interaction with their customers.  News would be more immediate as folks tend look at their Facebook page very regularly, even daily, more than once a day even. (Client gave me an incredulous look when I said that!)

The problem with Facebook as my client saw it was, privacy, time and designing the look of the page.

The privacy issue was about, ‘I don’t want to tell the customer everything about me”.

Well, I said, simply don’t. Talk about the business, talk about why people like your products, why you like your products, how it’s produced, but don’t say anymore.  It’s a matter of choice.  Personally, I always think that if I wasn’t prepared to put it up in lights in Piccadilly Circus, than I won’t put it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.

I understand the time issue, all small business owners do.  When do you make time to sit at a computer, on a daily basis, especially if you have to travel to see customers and buyers?  It’s a conundrum, here is a way to interact with a large audience quickly and cheaply but the day to day chores of running a business are getting in the way. There’s no answer apart from being organised, make a daily list. If you are not at your computer for day or two, make notes of things you’d like to tell your customers and then make the time when you get back to a computer to put it on Facebook. Or, have a smart phone with a Facebook app. and you can update on the move – although, that might not suite everyone and you may be in an area like where I live, where there is no 3G or free wifi.

Finally the look or design of the page, this is simple, because Facebook make it simple.  The design of the page, the branding on the page is 99% Facebook. The only thing to do is upload the logo, write some information and the page is created.  So your brand is not so obvious on the page, it is very subtle. I know of quite a few businesses who have started with Facebook pages and only later have gone on to have a website.  I think, in a way, that their brand is created by the interaction with their customers, they are creating trust and a reputation just by this interaction.  I’m not an expert on ‘marketing’ this is purely observation but trust and reputation go along way in the very competitive market place in which we are today.

The Facebook page is up, I will help them with it for the time being as they get used to it.  It’s all good fun in the end and I think that they might find it very useful to their business.

JonJu Tech Ltd website is live

January 26, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Posted in Clients, Joomla Design, Search Engine Optimization | Comments Off on JonJu Tech Ltd website is live

We recently launched a new website for JonJu Tech Ltd a  which helps design and development of electronic products.  JonJu Tech wanted a very clean, simple looking website which is easy to navigate and is optimised for search engines.

JonJu Tech were really pleased with how, once they had some training, they could easily update and edit their articles and add pictures.  They also loved being able to add the page description which appears in the html code and is very important to SEO they can also add keywords which are not so important.  This gives the user real power to control the content for their customers and for search engines.

Jon Ju Tech also sent me pdfs of handwritten notes which they wanted their customers to be able to comment on. So I found a plugin and component from the Joomla extensive extensions directory and I was able to embed the pdf with a comment system below. I think it’s a good solution and you can see it if you got Knowledge Base / Design Decoded Notes and then click on the one the subjects in the list.

See their site at http://www.jonjutech.com/

2011 Carmarthenshire Tourism Awards

November 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Posted in Clients | Comments Off on 2011 Carmarthenshire Tourism Awards

The Solutions Factory has been nominated for TOURISM SUPPLIER BUSINESS OF THE YEAR for the 2011 CARMARTHENSHIRE TOURISM AWARDS. The Ceremony will take place on the evening of Thursday 10th November at the Stradey Park Hotel in Llanelli. It is exciting and unexpected and we’re very grateful to our customers who nominated us.

Brooke Green English Organics- pure organic remedies for life

May 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Posted in Clients, ecommerce | Comments Off on Brooke Green English Organics- pure organic remedies for life

We have launched a new ecommerce website for Brooke Green English Organics who produce organic essential oils, herbal tinctures, handwashes, soaps, candles using English grown ingredients.

The look of the site was designed by their graphic designer inline with their branding and packaging, using the Solutions Factory ecommerce and order processing system.

 See the site at http://www.brookegreenenglishorganics.com

My Clients and their Social Media Presence

April 8, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Posted in Clients, Social Media | Comments Off on My Clients and their Social Media Presence

It’s a sunny afternoon here in West Wales and I’m sitting here wondering how I can help some of my clients with their social media presence.

I’m not going to pretend that I am anywhere near an expert on this topic but I do Tweet (personal account so it’s a mix of friends, F1, Joomla! and typical social network moaning @TiggerCub if you dare).

On Facebook, I rarely write on my wall, but I do ‘like’ and I volunteered to be an administrator on the Pwerdy-Powerhouse page which is a local Community and Arts Centre.

I’ve also proved that I’m not a great blogger. How many days since I last updated this site? I’m surprised that WordPress haven’t thrown me off for laziness.

However, in for a penny etc here are some of my comments / suggestions.

  • If  you decide to use social media to promote your business you are putting yourself in front of the public.
  • Your ideals, your reputation: people will react if you are controversial, people will react if you are interesting.
  • Remember, whatever you put on the web it is there forever for good or for bad.
  • You will be aiming to have conversations with your past, present and future clients.
  • You could give tips regarding your business or general information.
  • You may find out more about your clients’ wants and needs as they ask you questions, they may even trust you.
  • You may not be comfortable writing so why not try audio or video?
  • Finally, for now at least – enjoy communicating with people.

 

Honeybuns cakes

April 23, 2009 at 10:46 am | Posted in Clients | Comments Off on Honeybuns cakes

One of the things that we like to do well at The Solutions Factory is to have a great relationship with our clients.  We hope to really understand the needs of our client and as they get to know us, will feel more relaxed and trust us.  Clear communication is really important.

A particular client who we get on well with is Honeybuns, they bake gorgeous cakes in Dorset. We have developed all versions of their website over the years, the most recent version came live last year with a new shopping site so the public can now buy directly from them.  The site was designed in conjunction with their graphic designer who designs all of their packaging and point of sale material so that the brand is shown clearly through all of their marketing.

To prove the good relationship, every once in a while a box arrives with sample cakes for us to try. So this morning, The Solutions Factory team had a gorgeous coffee break, sitting on the picnic bench outside beside the pond, eating our Honeybuns cakes.

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