Arlandir Bed and Breakfast – new website launch

June 3, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Web Design | Comments Off on Arlandir Bed and Breakfast – new website launch

We launched a new website today for a local bed and breakfast, Arlandir.

The site owner only has a small business but wanted a modern looking site which reflected her business. It has been developed in Joomla 1.6 content management system using a JoomlaShine template, which has been brilliant.  The site has also been set up for smart phones, so it opens as a simple, non graphic site on smart phones but the option is there to view the site in its full glory.

Take a look at www.arlandir.com.

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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.

 

The Mobile Website

July 20, 2009 at 4:57 pm | Posted in Web Design | Comments Off on The Mobile Website
Tags:
The Mobile Website
I’ve just had a shock.
I’ve just remembered the exasperation of waiting for a website to materialise on my monitor.  The same experience I had for years because the web was slow because I had to use dial up modems, and I had to watch the Netscape icon swirl around whilst I waited for a website to appear. When it did, the page would slowly load as there were too many large graphics and animated gifs and mostly the sites were ugly. Why have I been so rudely reminded of the past? I surfed the web on an HTC mobile device, and experienced the web as it was a decade ago.  I’ve not had access to a PDA before and I never wondered how the web looked on a small screen.  I really hadn’t thought about the web on the PDAs and iPhones until I actually had a look.  It was like going back in time.
I’m not alone, have a look at this article: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/mobile-usability.html
All websites are designed for bigger screens and even the simplest website will need to be designed to be more accessible for a mobile screen. Is it worth it?  More people are buying these mobile devices as they are becoming easily affordable.  These people could be your customers.
My next (unpaid) job will be to make our Solutions Factory site accessible for the mobile web, so that might take a little time as I have paid jobs to do, and with those I will be persuading our clients that they need a mobile web site.
Use this tool from Google to view your website on a mobile phone screen and also look at a website optimised for a mobile phone such as the BBC:

I’ve just had a shock.

I’ve just remembered the exasperation of waiting for a website to materialise on my monitor.  The same experience I had for years because the web was slow because I had to use dial up modems, and I had to watch the Netscape icon swirl around whilst I waited for a website to appear. When it did, the page would slowly load as there were too many large graphics and animated gifs and mostly the sites were ugly. Why have I been so rudely reminded of the past? I surfed the web on an HTC mobile device, and experienced the web as it was a decade ago.  I’ve not had access to a PDA before and I never wondered how the web looked on a small screen.  I really hadn’t thought about the web on the PDAs and iPhones until I actually had a look.  It was like going back in time.

I’m not alone, have a look at this article: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/mobile-usability.html

All websites are designed for bigger screens and even the simplest website will need to be designed to be more accessible for a mobile screen. Is it worth it?  More people are buying these mobile devices as they are becoming easily affordable.  These people could be your customers.

My next (unpaid) job will be to make our Solutions Factory site accessible for the mobile web, so that might take a little time as I have paid jobs to do, and with those I will be persuading our clients that they need a mobile web site.

Use this tool from Google to view your website on a mobile phone screen and also look at a website optimised for a mobile phone such as the BBC:
http://www.google.com/intl/en_uk/mobile/default/search.html

TRUST in a virtual world

May 8, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Web Design | Comments Off on TRUST in a virtual world
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According to Wikipedia “Trust is a relationship of reliance. A trusted party is presumed to seek to fulfill policies, ethical codes, law and their previous promises.”

So, how do we make the consumer trust our website and buy from it?

Design
The design of the website must be consistent. And interestingly, consistent, simple design is very appealing without the need for any fancy graphics. Keep the design simple and keep the design clean, take a look at some blank screen, for example Google.

The branding, the logo etc must be on every page. The layout of every page must be consistent, as should fonts, font size and colour.

Navigation must be the same on every page. It’s no good loosing your consumer in your site, they’ll move on. If you have so much information on your site why not integrate a search engine onto the page and always have a sitemap? This will help with navigation.

Words
If the site is selling online and credit or debit card details are needed, make sure the security of the system is identified to the consumer.

You may want a newsletter or a registering process for more information. Therefore email addresses will be collected and stored. Again, make it clear they will be kept securely and not sold on to a third party.

The Human Touch
Recommendations are now becoming more common and really useful. But then you have to trust complete strangers… If there are many comments or recommendations then it is possible to form an opinion, but maybe not when there is only one or two.

I always add our sites onto the human directory http://www.dmoz.org. When a site is suggested to this directory, a human being, with an understanding of the business of the suggested site will check it out and then add it to the directory. The major search engines also take notice of this site and periodically get update from this directory and add it to their own.

I always suggest that our clients make their contact details very obvious, sometimes on every page. Personally I won’t buy from a site if I can’t see any contact details. I want to see a real address and a telephone number. If the company is a limited company I want to know and of course it is law that a Limited company’s details are on the website. Basically, no matter where the company is in the world, I want to know that if I chose to that I could knock on their door.

To me then, trust seems to come down to the human element. But perhaps that’s old fashioned, what do you think?

Men are still from Mars and Women from Venus, even shopping online

May 1, 2009 at 9:25 am | Posted in Web Design | 1 Comment
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I know that most men don’t like to shop.  There’s too many people, it’s too busy, there’s too much choice, there’s too little choice, the sales assistants don’t know the answers to questions, the sales assistants are too much in your face…  So, I thought, perhaps naively, that shopping online would be a better experience for men and they would shop just as much as women.  However, after reading the article “Men want it fast, Women want it All” by Jason Lee Miller on http://www.webpronews.com, it is not so different online as it is in the high street.  It is worth taking note of this kind of information by web designers and website owners.  The article seems to suggest shopping websites should be designed more towards women rather than men.  I wonder if that is true of “male oriented products” such as cars or razors?  Something to think about.

The article is at http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/04/29/men-want-it-fast-women-want-it-all and it’s also worth reading the comments at the bottom of the page.

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.

Newspapers love their top ten lists, don’t they?

April 16, 2009 at 8:54 am | Posted in Social Media | Comments Off on Newspapers love their top ten lists, don’t they?
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There is a new top ten list published in the TimesOnline today and I’ve actually found it useful. Usually they’re about the top 10 films or lettuce leaves or something.  Anyway this is called “Ten ways to make more of Twitter” at http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article6099159.ece and it gives good links to useful Twitter related sites.  Once I get the Solutions Factory a Twitter account I will surely make some use of this.

Welcome to the Solutions Factory Blog*

April 13, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Posted in Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Web Design | Comments Off on Welcome to the Solutions Factory Blog*
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*Actually this is the blog for the web design department of the Solutions Factory.

The Solutions Factory is a software development company with a small web design section who have decided to have a blog.  Well, we keep telling our clients about using social media, so thought that it was time that we dipped our toes into the waters.

This blog will be used to experiment with social media, highlight interesting stuff about search engine optimization and about web design.

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