Monday, 30 March 2009

Which Website is my best fit?

by Nelly Berova

I often get asked the question: ‘how much would it cost to set up a website for my business?’ to which I always answer ‘what is the purpose of this website?’

Choosing a website is like buying a suit – ideally it should be tailored using the right material and measured to fit you perfectly but if your budget is limited, you know you can choose one ‘off the peg’.

Before you start looking for the right web company, you have to identify why you want a website and what its main purpose is. Is it to generate you more enquiries; to sell your products, to act simply as an online brochure, or to establish your brand identity? You also have to identify your target market as well as check few competitors’ websites to see what you are up against and how you can be better.

Based on a clear strategy and a targeted audience you will be able to identify the type of website you require, and from there, the right supplier.

Most web companies or London design agencies are not Jacks of all trades – they have specific expertise, of which you could use to your advantage, but if you chose the wrong supplier, you risk ending up with the wrong product.

For instance, you are looking for a website that sells your products online to as many people as possible and looks funky and original, so you decide to approach a web company that specialises in Flash websites. You pay a fair amount of money for their development of this new and cool site… but a few months later you realise that you can’t update the content yourself; it costs you a fortune to keep going back to the web designers to change or add products, and what’s worse, your website is nowhere to be found on Google Search results. You feel you have bought a product which does not meet your expectations.

You almost have to work backwards.

If you want to sell products online, it’s vital to have a website that ranks well with search engines as well as being accessible. Ask your potential supplier how they propose this should be achieved. If your products change regularly it would be more cost effective to have a website fitted with a content management system which allows you to edit your content. So ask your web company if they offer such a system. If image is important, make sure they have a designer to do the layout of your website, instead of a developer. Checking examples from the designer’s portfolio will give you a good indication of their ability.

So, to find which website is your best fit, get your measurements right before you buy, and you will have a suit fit for every occasion. To find out more, visit our website: www.artdivision.co.uk

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Are you using Twitter?

Twitter is becoming more and more popular, no doubt about this. It’s the new thing that gets many people connected by ‘following’ each other and constantly updating your ‘what you are doing’ status. Through numerous online applications, that are constantly being added, one can grow the number of people ‘following’ you from your desktop, or find people close to your postcode. You can even use your mobile phone to keep you tweeting on the go. The aim of the game is to increase the number of people ‘following’ you, though in short, it’s the sort of new thing you can’t afford not to be part of.

So what, I hear you say. How can Twitter help me with my business?

1. You can use Twitter as a market research platform simply by listening to the conversations. For every business, big or small, it is vital to know what people are saying about your brand, product, service or idea. Through Twitter Search you can monitor their comments, and you don't even need a Twitter account to do it. You can even set up an RSS feed so that you'll receive all the updates of this search in your feed reader.

2. Use Twitter as a quick way to promote a new product or service on your website. Just get your followers to click your link by posting it on your profile. The more followers you have, the more successful your results.

3. Find a new deal through the people you follow – especially in this current market when everyone is searching for a bargain, Twitter is full of them!

4. Interact with your followers and ask them for advice. People love to help and you will be surprised how creative some of their answers can be.

If the above is not enough to tempt you to open an account and follow us on Twitter, you can read more about this and the additional tools you can use to help you get the most out of the web by going to:
The Guardian

And don’t forget, if you do register on Twitter, add Art Division to your ‘following’ list!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Generate more traffic by spreading the word

You have now created your website or are thinking about having one, so what can you do to get traffic to it?

Apart from the old favourites, ‘Pay-Per-Click’ and ‘SEO’, the word now is ‘Social Networking’, which in its simplest term allows you to make yourself heard. But how do you start?

Think of what your business has to offer then start writing about it. Your readers will stick around for constantly updated content, so spend some time letting them know about what you provide and why they should buy from you.

If you have spent some time perfecting your article, you will now be thinking of where to post it, after all, you need to publish it somewhere! You can start with your own website, perhaps add a newsroom to it but if you don’t have a content management system, or your knowledge of HTML is not up to scratch, you may want to consider publishing your articles on what’s called a Blog.

Blogs are articles published in a manner in which the reader can also post comments too, so if your article is interesting, even controversial, people can respond to them, and maybe start a debate, generating an interest. Furthermore, blogs have their own search engines, so you might end up being found by two means; either by your website or your blog.

If you are unable to create a blog in-house, you can use tools like Word Press and Blogger.com (like the one you are reading now). What’s better, they are free, very popular and easy to use.

Last but not least, you need to make your articles more widely available. But until search engines find them, your articles will remain without an audience. This is the point where social networking sites can help and you can also start posting your articles with those websites also.
There are lots of websites now that offer ‘Social Networking’ however each has its own way of doing things, so the first step is to take a look at each one to what they offer and see if they will suit your needs. For example:
  • Twitter.com, who let your followers know what you are talking about
  • Digg.com, and
  • StumbleUpon.com – which will make both your blog and website noticed
These are only a few of them and I am not suggesting that that by adding your article to these sites your blog and website will be inundated with traffic, but it is a huge step in the right direction.

Finally, keep the quality and quantity of output consistent and in time you will notice a steady increase in their interest. After all, you don’t want a sudden rush that soon leaves you forgotten, do you?

Want more information or help, visit www.artdivision.co.uk

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Making your hobby pay for itself

So you have built your website, devoting many hours in a labour of love creating homage to a favourite movie star or pop icon, doing so on a joint notion to hone your HTML and CSS skills, you become proud of your website. It gradually climbs the listings on Google and soon receives a steady flow of visitors. You delight in its success. But had you ever thought about making that weekend project actually earn an income for your efforts? Well why not!

Google’s Adsense (www.google.com/adsense) has grown extremely popular with bloggers and those who run non-commercial websites and is aimed at giving people like you and me an honourable outlet for earning money from our websites of devotion through displaying fee-generating advertisements on your website. Perhaps the idea of covering your shrine with commercials may sound like sacrilege, but with careful placing and a little formatting, their presence may not sound as bad as it seems, and guess what, you will soon find it will begin to more than cover the cost of hosting; your website is now earning its keep.

Adsense works on a simple premise: you designate an area on your website to display adverts and for each click they receive is credited with a referral fee, paid for by the advertiser. That fee of course varies on popularity, though when your account reaches $100 by the end of the month, you will be paid that balance, and should you have not earned that amount, the pot simply rolls over to the next month until you do, but what’s even better, the amount is paid directly into your bank account.

By scanning your content to pick up its keywords adverts are placed by those relevant to your website, that way people visiting your website should technically already be prime candidate to click on them since they will already be of interest to them. My own site, based on a musician, was soon displaying adverts for ticket agents displaying offers for concerts, however you will quickly discover your account will need some fine tuning since every advertiser also using those key phrases will also appear that may have no relevance at all to your subject. Everything from software, to tennis rackets and a chain of eastern European hotels also began appearing on my website, but thoughtfully, Google also allows you to filter any erroneous adverts and you can soon restore order to your website. Although it will demand regular attention, your revenue will rise if you keep all your adverts relevant to your subject.

By being supported by Google, an off shoot of their Adwords tool, Adsense continues to evolve to maximise your earning potential across a multitude of platforms, in particular more recently to display adverts on your mobile content and RSS. So if you have not yet thought of earning a little income from your website, what are you waiting for? And like me, you will be enjoying the wonders of online advertising and have your website work for you, even while you are sleeping.

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