Phone 0488 406 050
Tropical Coast Web Design
Big Boys Superwash

Your Competitors are online...
Why aren't you?

Without a website, your business could be invisible to the 3.5 billion online searches made by Australians every day!

Without a website, your business could be invisible to the 3.5 billion online searches made every day!

Your Competitors are online...
Why aren't you?

We craft each one of our websites from the ground up, tailoring them to your specific requirements.

Big Boys Superwash

Quality, affordable websites that
build your business & your brand.

We craft each one of our websites from the ground up, tailoring them to your specific requirements.

Quality, affordable websites that
build your business & your brand.

Quality, affordable websites that
build your business & your brand.

Promote and sell products 24/7
with an online store.

Our eCommerce solutions feature all the tools you need to build sales and improve your bottom line.

Big Boys Superwash

Promote and sell products 24/7
with an online store.

Our eCommerce solutions feature all the tools you need to build sales and improve your bottom line including shipping and PayPal integration.

Responsive Web Design
for all kinds of screens...

Over 1.2 billion people access the internet on mobile phones and tablets. What will your site show them?

Big Boys Superwash

Responsive Web Design
for all kinds of screens...

Over 1.2 billion people around the world access the internet on mobile phones and tablets...
What will your site show them?

People are searching for your
products and services online...

... and without an effective online presence for your business, you are invisible to them.

Big Boys Superwash

People are searching for your
products and services online...

... and without an effective online presence for your business, you are invisible to them.

We BOOST your business'
bottom line...

...with websites designed and developed from the ground up to convert prospects into customers!

Innisfail Chemex

We BOOST your business'
bottom line...

...with websites designed and developed from the ground up to convert prospects into customers!

Provide support for your customers,
even when you are asleep!

Your website can be the ultimate "support line", with 24/7 downloads, fact sheets, manuals and videos.

Ingham Motorcycles and Mowers

Provide support for your customers,
even when you are asleep!

Your website can be the ultimate "support line", with 24/7 downloads, fact sheets, manuals and videos.

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Big Boys Superwash

Your Competitors are online...
Why aren't you?

Without a website, your business could be invisible to the 3.5 billion online searches made every day!

We craft each one of our websites from the ground up, tailoring them to your specific requirements.

Big Boys Superwash

Quality, affordable websites that
build your business & your brand.

Quality, affordable websites that build your business & your brand.

We craft each one of our websites from the ground up, tailoring them to your specific requirements.

Promote and sell products 24/7
with an online store.

Our eCommerce solutions feature all the tools you need to build sales and improve your bottom line.

Big Boys Superwash

Promote and sell products 24/7 with an online store.

Our eCommerce solutions feature all the tools you need to build sales and improve your bottom line.

Over 1.2 billion people access the internet on mobile phones and tablets. What will your site show them?

Big Boys Superwash

Responsive Web Design
for all kinds of screens...

Responsive Web Design
for all kinds of screens...

Over 1.2 billion people access the internet on mobile phones and tablets...
What will your site show them?

People are searching for your
products and services online...

... and without an effective online presence for your business, you are invisible to them.

Big Boys Superwash

People are searching for your
products and services online...

... and without an effective online presence for your business, you are invisible to them.

We BOOST your business'
bottom line...

...with websites designed and developed from the ground up to convert prospects into customers!

Innisfail Chemex

We BOOST your business'
bottom line...

...with websites designed and developed from the ground up to convert prospects into customers!

Provide support for your customers,
even when you are asleep!

Your website can be the ultimate "support line", with 24/7 downloads, fact sheets, manuals and videos.

Ingham Motorcycles and Mowers

Provide 24/7 support for your customers, all day, every day!

Your website can be the ultimate "support line", with 24/7 downloads, fact sheets, manuals and videos.

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A website launch is only the beginning…

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One of the biggest mistakes that a new website owner can make is to assume that once the launch of their site has taken place, the hard work is over.

Yes – their business now has an online presence, but without further attention and work on their site, the full benefits of being online will not be achieved.

There still several tasks that need undertaking to make the world pay attention to the site and several more that will require ongoing work to keep the site healthy and functional.

Task 1: Get Google to pay attention

It should come as no surprise that Google does not automatically add websites to their search results. They first need to be notified that a site actually exists before they will send a “Googlebot” to check it out.

There are several ways to make this happen smoothly:

  • Add your site to your “Google My Business” account. It’s a best way to get noticed fast.
  • Make sure your site is Search Engine Optimised (SEO) by using a plugin, like YOAST or All-In-One to guide you through the process of SEO setup. These ensure that the search engine “crawlers” find what they need to.
  • Share your new website link around with other businesses and organisations that are already established online. Be sure to link back to them in turn – Google loves inbound and outbound links.

It is important to remember that Google is in control of this process, not you. Their software technicians are always tweaking the search algorithm so what may have worked last week for SEO, may not work this week.

Task 2: Track your site statistics

It is vital to measure and monitor the statistics for your website. By keeping an eye on visitor numbers, popular pages, bounce rates and functioning keywords, you will be able to adjust your site and its contents to achieve the results you want.

The best solution is to sign up for Google Analytics, integrate this with the Dashboard of your website and monitor your search results regularly. If your search ranking starts to decline or you are having a high bounce rate, the statistics will tell you that you need to take action.

https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/

Task 3: Creating fresh content

Not only is fresh content on your website good for impressing site visitors and helping customers, it is also very good for the website itself. Google’s search ranking algorithm has a special fondness for sites with updated, relevant content, and promotes these sites higher on search results.

Once initially indexed by Google, the “Googlebot” re-visits your site every few weeks and checks the content it finds against the content from its last visit. If it finds the same old information every time, you may be penalised in search results and potentially end up lower than your competitors.

A new article in your blog every couple of weeks, a client gallery or testimonials from your customers are very easy to add and can make Google happier with your website.

Task 4: Implement site security

Benjamin Franklin wisely once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This has never been so true than with a website. There are several vital security components that need to be enacted on your site to discourage Spammers and Hackers from breaching your emails, forms and online files.

# 1 – Get a Security Certificate for your site.

A security (SSL) certificate creates a secure link between a website and a visitor’s browser by confirming the site’s legitimacy and encrypting data between the two parties. This extra certificate is shown in your browser as the https:// prefix at the beginning of a domain name and a padlock in the address bar.

# 2 – Enforce SPAM Controls

Make sure that your online forms are all guarded by Google’s new ReCaptcha protocol – it is now invisible (no more typing in codes) but very effective. Your web server also needs has effective SPAM filters at its core level and most server providers include this in their storage packages.

#3 – Update your plugins regularly

Hackers continually look for ways into vulnerable servers and will use any weakness to break their way into your site. An out of date plugin (or WordPress version) on your site could be the weak link that they are looking for.

#4 – Use the latest version of PHP on your server

PHP is a programming language used in the development of many modern websites. It is vitally important for security reasons to keep the PHP version up to date (usually via your web server’s Control Panel).

#5 – Install WordFence on your WordPress site

Wordfence provides a range of features and options for site owners that help protect their sites from hacking. On top of this, Wordfence provides monitoring of the other components in a site and notifies, via email, when action needs to be taken.

None of the tasks above are “set and forget” – site owners need to adjust SEO triggers, regularly check statistics, add content and enforce security measures to make sure that their sites are fully functional and performing their purposes. Nothing above needs to be overly time consuming but, in the rush of a busy workplace, small tasks can be easily forgotten.

The best way to stay on top of these tasks is to schedule them into your working week, just like any other task. By doing so, you will give your site the best chance of success.

The Essential Checklist for creating a business website that works.

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Did you know that 48% of customers will stop considering your business if you don’t have a website? *

*Telstra

A website is a key part of business marketing and should be at the core of your business’ online presence. Social Media is fine up to a point, but online-savvy customers want to know more about the business they are dealing with and how it can help them.

But what are the elements of a good small business website? Below is our checklist of key components that your website needs to be effective and successful:

1. Clearly defined website goals.

Although they aren’t visible in the final design, outlining goals for your website is vitally important to the end results. Without a clear roadmap in place, your direction may be offline with what you want to achieve and what your customers are looking for.

Use the five W’s as a starting point to define your goals:

  • Who are your customers?
  • What are they looking for?
  • When are your services available?
  • Where are your customers based?
  • Why do they need your products and services?
  • How can you help solve your customer’s problems?

2. An easy-to-use site menu.

Clear navigation on your website not only helps your visitors find what they are looking for, but it also helps search engines such as Google to index your site properly.

Plan your site that no page is any further than two mouse clicks away from the front page – else it is in danger of being lost to your visitors. Conversely, all pages on the site must also link back to the home page.

3. Business appropriate design.

When designing the overall look of your business website, make sure it appears as expected to your target audience. For example, the audience for a nightclub website would not expect to find a website design more suitable to an aged-care facility.

In addition, don’t go too far with the visuals of your design – the focus of the website should always be the user experience. Heavy visuals can also be distracting, and they will slow down the load-time for your site.  

4. Mobile-friendly.

In a recent report from https://www2.deloitte.com, it is estimated that 91% of Australians own a smart phone and use it regularly to access the internet. This means a large proportion of any website’s traffic will be coming to you via mobile and your site needs to be developed from the ground up to cater for this.

When looking to be mobile-friendly, there shouldn’t be two versions of your site. It should be the same site that automatically adapts its various components to deliver the same content on any screen size.

5. On-Point Content.

When it comes to selling your products and services, there is no alternative to high-quality content. Engaging your visitors is the key to lengthening the time they spend on your site and reducing its dreaded bounce-rate.

Ensure that any content is clear, concise and relevant to the person who is reading it. Make sure, as your site gets older, you change-up the content on a regular basis to keep it fresh – not just for your site visitors, but for the Google-Bot which will be looking for such changes.

To keep your content on-point, keep referring to the goals of your site established in step #1.

6. Clear & Visible “Call To Actions”

Whatever you want your customers to do on your website – you need to make it stand out. This is known as the “Call To Action” (CTA).

The CTA’s that we use can determine whether people take action and in what numbers. There are two core objectives of a CTA: telling what they should do and giving them the motivation to do it.

Here’s some example CTA’s that can be used on your website:

Get My Offer Redeem My Prize Book My Demo Subscribe Buy Now Call Us Today Reserve Your Place Book an Appointment  

7. Accessible contact details.

Allow your customers to reach out to you quickly with clear contact details that are easy to access and use. At a minimum, your details should include your business address (if applicable), phone number and email address.

Use a professional email address, preferably with your own domain name – addresses provided by free email services can portray the wrong image to prospective customers.

If you would like your customers to contact you directly from your website, include a contact or enquiry form on the site.

8. Site Traffic Analytics

Without tracking the visitors that come through your site and watching where (and if) they are spending their time, there’s no way you can measure if your website is achieving the goals that you have set for it.

Fortunately, tracking is easily done on several levels. Your website server can follow the most basic of movements into your site and you can install a plugin to watch what happens on your site. Obviously, the most well known and best option is to sign-up for Google Analytics.

Briefly, the most important metrics you should track in your website are:

  • Number of Visitors
  • Bounce Rate
  • Page Views
  • Duration of Stay
  • Time on Page
  • Traffic source
  • Device Source
  • Interactions on site
  • Exit Page

Boost your website by checking these five statistics.

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Web statistics are often the forgotten element in a business website, yet they are key to whether the site succeeds or fail.

Site Statistics

By paying attention to the smallest of details, you will be able to adjust the operation of your site to ensure that you have the best chance of converting visitors into customers. I

n short, monitoring your site’s statistics could make the world of difference when it comes to the key question – is your website working for you?

Here’s five key statistics that you need to monitor on a regular basis:

Site Traffic

This metric counts the total number of visitors to your site and it’s a great way to quickly gauge the growth or decline of visitor numbers. You can also measure any increase during specific promotions i.e. a sales campaign on Facebook.

It’s important to note there are two type of site traffic measured – unique and repeat visitors. Unique visitors are those coming to your site for the first time and repeat visitors are coming more than once. Both are important to determine if you are receiving new visitors and whether your content is worth come back again in the future.

Traffic Source

This data helps to define where the traffic above comes from. There are generally four sources:

  • Organic: From search engines such as Google and Bing.
  • Referral: Directly from other websites (also known as inbound links).
  • Direct: Visitors physically typing in the site’s address.
  • Social: From social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, etc).

Look to use a variety of traffic sources in your statistics and never rely on one platform only. If, for example, your social media crashes and it is your main source, traffic to your site could be severely impacted.

Bounce Rate

The Bounce Rate (BR) of your website determines how many people leave immediately after arriving. A high BR is not good – it indicates that something is wrong with your content or offerings. Unfortunately, it won’t pinpoint exactly what the problem is, but improvements are definitely needed.

Tip: If your site has a high BR, ask friends and colleagues to “test” the site from the mindset of a visitor – they may see something that you, as the owner, can’t.

Top Pages

This metric allows the site owner to determine which pages are most popular with visitors. The data usually includes how many “hits” the page has had and how long visitors spent perusing the content.

By looking at the popularity of a page, information can be ascertained about the type of content your visitors are looking for and this in turn, can influence the content of other less popular pages.  

Conversion Rate

The most important data in site statistics, the conversion rate determines whether your site is actually doing its job – converting visitors to customers.

The data is determined by looking at the number of unique visitors to a site and dividing that by how many of those visitors take some form of action on the site. This action could be several things:

  • The sale of a product.
  • Subscription to a newsletter.
  • Completion of an enquiry form.
  • A share of your content on social media.

So…. how do I measure these statistics?

Obviously, the “big brother” of website statistics is Google Analytics, the basic version of which is free. Being linked to the world’s most popular search is a huge advantage, but Google Analytics has so many tools that it can be a little daunting to first time site owners.

Another alternative, if you have a WordPress site, is Wp Statistics from Verona Labs. This plugin will give you many of the metrics listed above and is hosted locally so no sharing with Google – some of your site visitors may appreciate this

Whatever system you use, website statistics are vitally important for site owners to ensure that the money in a website is put to good use and acts as a boost to your business’ bottom line.

How to make online sales with your existing website.

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In the current crisis, many small businesses have been forced to move online quickly and adapt to a whole new way of operating.

Some, without websites, are trying to utilise their existing social media presence. However, with many other businesses doing the same thing, there is good chance that posts are being “lost” in the continuous feed streaming through on Instagram and Facebook.

Those businesses with existing websites stand a much better chance of being found through search engines, complimented by their social media. Those with online stores are obviously the best positioned to take on the challenge of extra business but what about websites that aren’t designed to be online stores? Is there something they do?

Absolutely. Here’s five simple steps to create an online sales page for your website during the COVID-19 crisis – without breaking the budget.


Step One: Choose 12 of your most popular products.

The page will ideally list your most popular products, so write a list of what those products are. Here’s some questions to get you started: – What do your customers come to you to buy most frequently?

  • Do you sell anything that will be helpful during the current crisis or make it easier?
  • What products are easiest for you to post or deliver in person?

We’ve set 12 products as a “loose” limit as you don’t to overwhelm customers with choices and risk putting them off making a purchase.


Step Two: Set up a dedicated landing page.

With your products selected, create a new page in your website CMS*. This will be the landing page for traffic coming into your site that you want to sell to. It will also act as a gateway to the remainder of your website.

Keep text on the page to a minimum – introduce what you are selling and outline how your business is operating during the crisis – two paragraphs maximum.

Underneath these paragraphs, layout the 12 products you are offering with a photo, name and price. The images can be clickable if you would like to provide more information but ensure that any new page opens in a new tab – this way the main “sales” page will stay open in the background.


Step Three: Contact Form

Your customers will need a way to contact you to place an order. Be sure to include these two options:

  1. Your business phone number – ensuring that it is “clickable” for mobile site users.
  2. A contact form so that customers can supply their contact details and the name of the product they wish to purchase.

By using a contact form plugin on your site, i.e. Contact Form 7 (WordPress), you can also set up an autoresponder to send the customer further information for the sale i.e. delivery information and banking details for direct deposits.

The customer’s phone number on the form will allow you to call them, confirm the order and take credit card payments if you have that capability.


Step Four: Social Media

Once the landing page is ready, start promoting it in your social media feeds. Let your audience know what they can do by visiting your site and include a link that goes directly to your new landing page.

To encourage of your Facebook post, you could include a simple “coupon” code that can be typed into your page’s contact form. For example, the code “SAVE10” could be used for a 10% discount.


Step Five: Pop-Up on Home Page

For those who arrive at your site via regular search engines or direct links, create a popup box that appears on the home page. This can contain a simple message and link button through to the special landing page.

The “Popup Maker” plugin on WordPress is perfect for creating a pop-up that grabs attention.


What if I don’t currently have a website?

For small businesses caught by the current crisis without a website, Tropical Coast Web Design is currently offering full function one-page websites (with email) for only $299 and a very quick turnaround. Head over to our special offer page for more information and get your business online this week!

*Content Management System

My business has a new online store – now what?

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Although regional small businesses are slowly starting to move online, some still fail to grasp how different an online store is to a conventional ‘bricks and mortar’ site.

With the latter, a physical site is set up that all passers-by can see it; both while it’s under construction and afterwards, when the doors are thrown open for customers for the first time.

With an online store, the construction is sometimes done under a “veil of secrecy” but when it’s finished and ready, most site owners automatically expect a flow of traffic through the virtual front door. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. People need to know that the site exists before they can visit it!

It’s important to note that Google doesn’t list sites immediately – it can often take two to three weeks for a site to appear on search results and even then, you may not even make the first page.

My advice – don’t wait for Google. You can promote that brand-new site of yours right now with the following simple tips:

Tip #1 – Add your website marketing into your current “conventional” promotions

This simple tip is often overlooked because some business owners believe that a website is marketed through online methods only.

You can start getting ready for your site’s launch by updating all your promotional materials – business cards, brochures, roadside signs, clothing, pens, company cars, exterior signage, invoices, everything. Anywhere that a current client sees your business name should have the new web address in bold lettering.

If you live a smaller town as I do, get your local newspaper on board for the launch. For a relatively small cost, you can grab some great exposure with an editorial feature. Often these include a half-page “story” on your new site with the other half-page including an advertisement with all your details.

Tip #2 – Utilise your Social Media presence

One of the great advantages that Social Media has over Google is the instant gratification that it gives to every one of our updates, pins, posts or tweets. We don’t have to wait for the search engines to index and archive our information – it is instantly out there. This makes it ideal for promoting a brand-new site.

Most of us already have a Social Media presence so why not use that to your site’s advantage. Announce to all and sundry that you have a new online store and ask your social media “friends” to pass on the news.

Don’t leave it at that though – make sure you create a plan and use your Social Media power to drive everything that your site does. Running a pizza shop with online ordering? Hold instant competitions to boost slow nights. Got a brand-new outfit in your e-commerce boutique? Get one your staff to model it and post it on Instagram and Pinterest. Offering free shipping for today from your e-store? Get the word out instantly with a tweet on Twitter.

Tip #3 – Hold a launch special (with coupons).

Use your newly re-vitalised social media presence to share a coupon from your online store – the software that runs your eCommerce component (i.e. WooCommerce) probably already has one built-in. A coupon is a code that, when applied to the checkout area of a site, generally applies a small discount or bonus such as free shipping. They are designed to only be used once – automatically cancelling after use.

People love coupons – and they’ll also share them like crazy, quickly spreading the word about your new online store.

Conclusion

Try out those three tips and will be giving your e-commerce store a red-hot start in its online life. Don’t procrastinate and wait for people to find you – get out there and “grab the bull by the horns.” A site owner is in absolute control of the future (and potential success) of their online business. It won’t happen by itself – some hard yakka is required.

Five online actions that may help your local business through Covid-19.

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The coronavirus pandemic is affecting Australian small businesses in a multitude of ways.

From a loss of physical traffic into stores right through to numerous people working from home, the situation is changing daily during the COVID-19 outbreak and businesses are adapting to survive.

Below is an action plan of five things your business can do online to improve your chances of riding out this “once in a lifetime” pandemic.

1. Get on social media.

You should already have a social media account for your business and if you haven’t, you’d better set one up! Your customers are all on social media and you need to get two pieces of important information out to them now.

Firstly, you need to let your customers know that you are still operating and secondly, let them HOW you are operating. Have your hours changed? Are you delivering? Are you switching to online trading only? What measures are being taken in your business to mediate the current situation with COVID-19?

Put simply, you need to keep your customers informed about what your business is doing for the next few months.

2. Develop a Social Media Strategy.

A one-off post on your Facebook page is not going to solve anything. With the government guidelines for handling the COVID-19 crisis changing on an almost daily basis, you need to develop a brief strategy to ensure that you are continually visible online. This doesn’t need to be a long-winded document – it could as simple as a weekly calendar:

Monday: Facebook – This week at our business. Tuesday: Instagram – Pic of the team in action. Wednesday: Facebook – Customer of the Week. Thursday: LinkedIn – “Business to Business” offerings. Friday: Facebook – Throwback Friday or Friday Funny

Posting regularly keeps your local customers in the loop and gives them a regular visual reminder that you are still open for business.

3. Use your existing website to make online sales.

With social distancing being recommended by all levels of government, businesses can swiftly adapt their sites to start taking online orders and it doesn’t need to involve a full-blown eCommerce store. A simple online ordering form with your direct deposit information could be set up very quickly to make sales.

Of course, a full online store, with traffic directed from your social media streams, would be the perfect way to do business over the next few months. Your customers could simply select their products, pay for them online and have them shipped directly their door – without any physical contact at all.

4. Update Google my Business.

Check the information displayed by your Google My Business account is current and correct. This information is displayed in search results as people look for you and contains important details such as physical address, phone numbers, website address and opening hours.

Confirming that this information is correct could mean the difference between making a sale or a missed opportunity as more people search online for products and services.

5. Join local Networks and Groups

If you haven’t already, log onto Facebook and seek out your local community online. This might include groups such as local business directories, “buy, swap and sell” groups, your regional council and even the local Chamber of Commerce. Join these groups where relevant and share your business information.

Once you have joined a group – encourage others to start sharing each other’s posts wherever you can. The amount of coverage your business can get through sharing through sharing posts will surprise you.

Conclusion

Despite the gloomy outlook for the next few months in Australia, Covid-19 does not have to be the end of your business. Your business might need to evolve and embrace a different way of doing business, but if we all work together as a local community, we can help one another ride out the storm and emerge intact on the other side.

That’s the true meaning of being a local in a small regional town – we help each other out in times of need.

The Website Development Process – How does it work?

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One of the first questions I am asked when a new business contacts for a website quote is “What happens next?”

And fair enough – most small business operators have had next to no experience in building a website and the whole process can be a bit daunting.

The process itself is fairly straight forward. In this blog, we’ll discuss the very beginning of the site development and work through each of the steps involved to produce a fully functional website that kicks goals for your business.

Step 1: Set your goals and make clear your intentions.

This step often comes after a client says, “I want you to build me a website”. Wrong – you should have a clear idea of what you want to achieve online BEFORE you contact a web developer. How else will you be able to describe (in detail) what you want?

Step 2: Choose a developer who can best help you achieve #1

Search Google for web designers or developers in your region (don’t forget to “go Local, grow Local” if you can) and have a look at their online portfolios. If you see any work that “connects” with you or is similar to what you want, get in touch with them and request a free quote. They may ask a few basic questions to personalise the quote but nothing too in-depth at this stage.

Step 3: Create a Design Proposal

Once you have found a developer who you believe can fulfill your online goals, they will start to develop ideas for a possible site. Ideally, they will ask you more questions about your proposed site or send you a detailed questionnaire.

It is at this stage (and all consequent stages) that you need to remember that this is YOUR site, not the developers. If you have concerns during the process, you need to voice them immediately at any time. The design proposal may go through several iterations, but each is very important – you (and your developer) must get it right.

Step 4: Build the Framework and fill with content.

After approval of the design proposal, your web developer will start to code/assemble a framework. This is a “live” version of the site, based on the proposal, that you will be able to view and test before it is launched into the world.

At this stage, ensure your site will have the following components upon completion:

Content Management System (CMS) – Built-in tools for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Site Security (SPAM, SSL Certificate, Security Blocks) – Clear Call-To-Actions (CTA) on every page. – The ability to track statistics on site visitors (i.e. Google Analytics)

You will also use this stage to develop the content that will appear on the site. Make sure each page is clear, concise and purposeful – no “fluff”.

Step 5: Testing Phase

Due to the wide variety of devices that are used to access webpages, it is vitally important that you check your new site on as many devices/screens as you can. Look and test the site on desktop computers, tablets and smart phones to make sure that your developer has covered all the bases.

Further to this, ask your friends and colleagues to road test the site and give you appropriate feedback that you can pass on to your developer for final tweaking before launch.

Step 6: Launch the Website

Release your site into the World Wide Web and monitor it daily, taking note of any feedback that may help adjust the site for your target audience.

Some may think that the launch of a new website is the end of the process – you can now sit back and watch it bring in all that new business. But, the truth is… launching a site is only the beginning!

In next week’s post, we’ll look at what needs to be done to make your newly launch website a success.

Why does your small-town business need a big business website?

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Putting my obvious bias aside (and many other business owners will back me up here), I firmly believe that if you are operating a business in the 21st century, irrespective of where you are or what your business does, you must have a website.

Smart phones, tablets and computers are everywhere in our modern society and they are all “jacked” into the internet 24/7.

For the business owner, this means, regardless of who your customers are, they will be searching for you on Google. Very few people are reaching for the Yellow Pages these days – it takes far too long (no wonder the Yellow Pages have begun to move online) and can be confusing with the numerous listings. But if your customers can’t find you on Google, I’ll bet that they will certainly find your competitors in the search results and you will lose their business.

This also applies to businesses that traditionally operate out of a small-town community, like Innisfail, where I live and work. It’s important to remember that there are no borders to business anymore and, because of technology, the world is much smaller than it used to be.

Despite these facts, I still find myself, on a regular basis, trying to convince businesses in my hometown that a website is a necessity – even for them!

Here’s three of my counter arguments: –

A website expands your business beyond the borders of your community.

With a website there are no boundaries for your business. Once online, your site can sell products and services around the globe – it can even sell them while you are asleep! And, with the multitude of shipping options available nowadays, you can “move” your products very quickly to any destination on the earth.

So, why would you settle for doing business in a tiny demographic when you could go global?

As Donald Trump often says, “Think Big!”

A website can level the playing field for the “little guys”

Regardless of the size of your small business or its location, your website can compete on the same level as any other business in your industry. You may not have the flashy storefronts of your competitors or the sheer magnitude of their operations, but a website doesn’t have to worry about these things.

Your site can compete on the same level if it offers:

  • An easy to use interface.
  • A clear Call to Action (CTA).
  • Helpful service (through contact forms, online videos, pop-up chats, tricks or tips).
  • High quality products or services.

In short, if your website can deliver the same service as expected from the “big guys”, it has a chance at grabbing customers that would have once dismissed you as “too small”.

You can connect with customers like never before.

Businesses, both large and small, can now build their brands and followers through the use of an effective Social Media strategy. With very little effort, you can start a conversation with your customers and, as a result, grow a better understanding of their needs and wants.

Conversely, customers can carry on these discussions completely separate from your business involved and, as long as those discussions are positive, this will help to build the public image of that your brand.

Examples of this include:

  • Fashion products being spruiked by customers on their Instagram accounts.
  • Special announcements being launched instantly on Twitter.
  • A loyal Facebook following (a great source of testimonials).
  • Hashtags leading directly back to the source – your website.

A properly built and managed website allows a small-town business to build and expand beyond what was traditionally possible. By making your business easy to find, helpful and value for money – you will not only encourage locals to stick with you but may just hook into some lucrative “outside” business and from there – the only way is up!

Why wouldn’t a small business be online?

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Today, the whole world is online.

From the school kids down at the skate park to grandparents on their “grey nomad” tours of Australia, each and every one of them is hooked up and on the net. Either through wireless, mobile, cable, fibre optics or copper wire, Australians (and the developed world for that matter) are processing and sharing information at a rate never seen before in history. We do our banking online, our research assignments online, our university courses online and, most importantly to business owners, we shop online.

With all this access, it is still mind-blowing that some businesses (52% of SMBs*) are still living in the dark ages and operating without an internet presence. That is, they don’t have a website. Why? Look at any business not using the web and I’m sure if you asked the owners, they’d be one of the categories below:-

Time Poor – When do I have time to learn about websites?

Running a business is always flat-out and hectic. With stock to order, employees to manage, bills to pay, premises to maintain among a million other things, there’s very rarely anytime left to do anything else. Some businesses use this as the main excuse to not create a website. Unless you can outsource the work of maintaining a website to an employee or an outside agency, the creation of a site just seems like too much of an extra burden. And this is on top of learning how to do it in the first place. It’s all too hard…

Technologically Naive – I don’t know anything about websites!

If a business has been operating for a number of years (i.e. from before the advent of websites) and working along fairly comfortably, the owners of the business may not be fully aware of what a website can do to improve the bottom line of any company. The simple phrase “We’ve done alright without one!” could be the main reason behind unwillingness to expand online. The inherit danger with this attitude is that the business may be missing out on a number of potential sales simply through an unawareness of the World Wide Web and its possibilities.

Another reason could be that the business operators may not be aware of the process to get a website designed and built. Technology can be fairly daunting to some people and websites are no different. Just the mere thought of moving online or even creating a site for the business can leave some people in a cold sweat.

Just Plain Poor – We can’t afford one right now…

With all the responsibilities listed in the section above, money can also be very tight at times and the perceived expense of website development may just be too much for the business to handle at any particular time. Rumours are often perpetuated about sites for small businesses running into the thousands and who has the spare cash to throw around like that?

Let’s debunk these theories one by one.

Firstly, there is no need for a business owner to fret about going online with their business. It merely needs to be seen as another part of your marketing strategy. Take a look at our four steps to getting online here – all you need to do is decide whether you need a website or not (you do!) and get in touch with a web developer to take care of the rest. If you merely want a brochure site that isn’t going to change often, nothing could be easier. But if you do have the time, maybe you could invest in a CMS site that you can update yourself – the learning curve to running your own site is not as steep as you think.

Secondly, if you are swept off your feet and have no time to run a site then get someone else to do it for you. Hire a developer to create the site and a copywriter to create the content – they can do amazing things with just a few dot points about your business, that’s their job. Already have a brochure about your company? A good copywriter can take this brochure and create a whole website of content for you. No photos? No worries. Stock photography is available for your business and only costs a couple of dollars per image.

Finally, although some web developers charge thousands for site development, it doesn’t need to be that expensive. Obviously, you cannot expect a highly polished site for $200 but if you do a little research and ask for a few quotes, you are sure to find a developer that can work within a reasonable budget. Take care though; make sure you check out online portfolios first to ensure that the designer can provide the high quality service you expect.

As you can see, there’s no excuse for not getting your business online these days. If your business wants to grow and continue to be competitive in today’s marketplace – it needs to be online.

Is your Web Designer LEGIT?

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When it comes to the World Wide Web and the sites that live upon it, some small business owners can be a little naive about how it all works.

There are so many aspects to take into account – domain names, hosting, email accounts, analytics, SEO and social media to name just a few of the items that need to be taken into consideration when getting a business online.

That’s why business owners like to hand over all those aspects to their website developer and say “please take care of this for me!”

There is a lot of trust being placed in that last statement – websites can be a big investment and, as a small business owner, you need to be able to rely upon your website “guys” to do the right thing. But, as in other industries, there are people who will take advantage of this.

If you are about to embark on the process of getting a web designer, or your current designer just doesn’t “feel right”, a little research will guide you to a reputable website design business.

Ask Around

Take a look at the websites of businesses in your immediate network (probably not your competitors). If possible, ask the business owners some key questions about their sites:

  • Who was their designer?
  • Who they would recommend and why?
  • Is the site generating the business that they need?
  • Is the site difficult to update?
  • What was the design process like when working with the web developer?

Positive testimonials work for all industries including web design so find out who would do the best job for your particular business.

Check out the web designer’s current portfolios.

All reputable designers will display their work on their own websites so check them out. Make sure that they can deliver styles that are current (not from the late 90’s) and relevant to your business.

Check for generic design Themes

One very important aspect that needs to be checked to ensure that you don’t get ripped off – make sure that you are not going to be paying for a generic template unless it has been made very clear that is exactly what you are paying for. These templates are not created just for your business and may have been used thousands of times. Working with anyone that uses them can be dangerous as the “designer” may not have the skills to create / modify / reprogram the design to your specific needs.

A quick way to check for generic templates:

  • Go to one of the sites they have “built” and copy the URL from the address bar at the top of your web browser.
  • Go to http://whatwpthemeisthat.com/ and paste the URL into the box provided.

This site quickly looks through the code and will tell you if the site is designed with the WordPress CMS (which is fine) and what theme the site is created with. If that theme is commercially available, this site will also tell you where you can buy it.

Too many times, I have seen so-called “Web Designers” that charge their customers exorbitant amounts of money for “designing” a site which can be purchased elsewhere for a little as $30!  All the “designer” does is change the imagery and add some text.

A website should be seen as exactly the same as any other investment in your business. You would research any new equipment or plant that you are purchasing for your business, so why not research who is going to build your website – the marketing tool that can drive business straight your door.

Without an effective website, built by someone who cares specifically about your business, you may be leaving a lot of money on the table from potential clients and digging a big hole in your marketing budget.