After a flurry of hard work, Gonerby Hill Foot’s website went live at the beginning of December. They wanted their new website up as quickly as possible, so there is still a bit of work to do on it, but you can see for your self it is already looking pretty good!
When creating a website most people spend quite a bit of time deciding what information you want to include. But it’s important not to stop there, you also have to consider your style of language you want to use to convince people you are the one for them.
My daughter is in her last year in primary school and we’ve been spending quite a lot of time in the last few weeks visiting secondary schools in the area trying to decide where she should go next year. The school we went to today was fine and we were shown around by the enthusiastic head of Art. She pointed out all the fantastic facilities they had but each time she would start her sentence with “we’re very lucky to have….
This seems to be quite a common phrase in schools on these sort of tours, but she used it so much it stopped seeming like false modesty and more like surprise they had a new technology block, or well-behaved kids, or a great language department.
It obviously wasn’t luck, but down to good planning, hard work, talented teachers, focussed effort etc. So why didn’t she tell us that? After al it would have made the school sound even better.
The individual concerned was obviously not comfortable with showing off what they had but at the end of the day she was there to sell the school and she could have done more to sell not only the facifilities but also the effort and talent that they had to put them in place in the first place.
She obviously (and understandably) wasn’t used to selling and didn’t want to sound boastful. She isn’t alone with this – many business owners underplay their abilities on their websites too.
Always remember the purpose of your website is to get out to the world what you do and to get visitors to want to use you. You need to convince them very quickly that you have what they need and know what you are doing. You don’t have to sound brash and do a hard sell – but you do need to sell yourself, your business, your school or your organisation.
So be positive about what you do; your successes and how you achieved them; and what you can do for your customers.
I am really pleased to announce the launch of a new website for a holiday home (link opens in a new window) in the small town of Quillan, within the Lanquedoc region of the south of France.
Having completely re-furbished the house the owners were looking to rent it out as holiday accommodation and wanted a website to show off not just the house but also the local area.
They are now looking to get the website listed on other sites to help to get it let.
Doing a bit of DIY at home can save you money in return for a bit of your free time. But in the workplace this approach can be a false economy if you can’t do the task well enough or it takes you away from your “proper job”.
One of the differences between Sunburst and other web design companies is we don’t leave our customers with a Content Management System (CMS) to update their website once we’ve built it for them.
A CMS is an online application that let’s you update the content of a website without having to delve into the background coding of the site or mess around with an FTP to upload new pages. All great in theory and I am all for self-empowerment, but the reality of the different CMS I have used in the past is less about freeing users from having to deal with techies and more of a time-sink.
There are a number of problems:
- They tend to be a bit “clunky” – they require quite a bit of learning to understand how they work and as they are not totally intuitive, need frequent use to stay familiar with them or be prepared to consult the manual for anything other than basic presentation. For many smaller businesses, their website isn’t updated often enough to maintain the levels of knowledge required, so when something does need to be added or modified the 5 minute job takes all morning.
- They limit what you can do on your site – how you can make your content look and change the structure of your website is limited by the CMS used and how your website was created in the first place.
- Speed – as a fairly complex, online application, a CMS is affected by your PC, your connection speed, the speed of the server it is hosted on and the number of other people trying to update their websites at the same time. At times the CMS can take and age to update or even crash (losing your half-updated work) – this has been especially true for school websites I have managed.
- They still require specialist knowledge – whilst you don’t need to do any coding, to get the most out of the CMS and keep your website working well you really need to understand how a web page goes together. This includes how to use the different headings semantically to make it accessible, or understanding how to use different elements to make the page easy to read and the website simple to navigate around.
Ok, none of these problems are insurmountable and there are obviously advantages to being able to update your website yourself. But do you have the spare capacity in your organisation to devote to maintaining your site? In schools I have known senior teachers or even the head being in charge of updating their websites; in a small business it is likely to be the owner who does it. In either case the website has to compete with other activities for attention and is a poor use of an expensive resource.
We are excited to announce that the Hemswell Cliff Primary School website is now live! Following a lot of hard work their new website includes a special section devoted to their relationship with the RAF Hemswell Association.
We are pleased to annouce the launch of a new website for Stanford Junior and Infants School in Laceby, North East Lincolnshire.
This is a great school with a unique history and an enthusiastic staff. We have produced a? website that allows them to show off some of the brilliant things they get up to.
Stanford Junior and Infants School website
The Guardian Newspaper’s website has launched a Teacher Network that has free resources for teachers.
A common fault with many websites is that their are produced for the benefit of the site owner and not their target audience(s). This is true of all kinds of sites – voluntary organistions, public bodies, small business even large multinationals.
How many sites have you been on that proudly proclaim their Mission Statements, but you struggle to find a contact name?
People are not as patient as they used to be and this is especially true on the web. If they can’t spot what they are looking for or the site doesn’t grab their attention in a few seconds they are likely to go elsewhere. If they do stick around (maybe they think your site is the only place they can look for something) then they will become frustrated with your organsation if they can’t drill down quickly to the information they need.
There’s nothing wrong with having the Corporate bits, but generally it won’t be what people will be coming to your site for. The key is deciding what people will be looking for on your website and making it easy to find – don’t be tempted to hide the good stuff in the hope visitors will look at everything else you want to show them whilst they search out that nugget of information, because they won’t.
The very first thing is to decide who your audience is. That may seem obvious at first but give it a bit of thought and you may find it is not that simple.
For example I produced a site for Park Home site (www.beckheadpark.co.uk). A Park Home used to be a static caravan, but are now more like fully fitted bungalows. When planning the site we came up with a list of different users of the website that included:
- existing Park Home dwellers looking for a new site
- people who knew about Park Homes and were looking for a new Home
- people who knew little or nothing about Park Home living and wanted to know more
- first time buyers
- existing residents of the site
Obivously from there we then came up with they different sets of information that each audience type would be looking for. It was a relatively straightforward task from there to produce the neccessary content and try to organise it so that it was easy to find on the site.
Over the next couple of weeks I intend to follow this up by looking a bit more indepth at some of the different audiences you might cater for with a school’s website.
The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas always shows off some interesting stuff and this year is no exception – with intelligent ergonomic keyboards and mice, head up display goggles, stereo “anywhere” systems to name but a few.
The Guardian has done a series of short videos showcasing some of the products on show. Worth wasting 20 minutes on for its own sake, but obviously great potential for stimulating ideas and discussions on technology.
Guardian CES Products Spotlight