Five secrets to a super fast website design

Five secrets to a super fast website design

Many things help you drive and convert traffic on your website. The design has to offer good navigation that provides a clear, quick and convincing journey for visitors from first landing on your website to a final transaction.

That journey might have many stop points along the way, which is why it is important that the processes are fast. Websites that typically take more than four seconds to load a page are abandoned. User behaviour studies have found that for every 1 second of page loading, your website can lose 7% of revenue.

Yet there are many ways that you can increase your site’s speed. Here are five secrets to help you with your website design.

1. Use optimised images

Uploading images is important on website design. A good image can increase conversions and improve branding. However, they are also very memory intensive and some websites can see drastic improvements in speed by having more web-optimised images.

This can be done very cheaply yourself by using programs like RIOT.

2. Reduce HTTP requests

Yahoo reports that 80% of load time is due to the time downloading the different elements of a page. This includes images, scripts and stylesheets. Every element creates a need for an HTTP request. The more requests, the longer it takes for a page to render.

Reducing the number of HTTP requests is, therefore, another key way to improving website speeds.

3. Minifying resources

Sometimes coding in your website’s program can be very bulky. Every letter, word and instruction in your website’s build is something for it to download. However, these are important files as they determine the appearance of your website. When you are minifying, you can reduce the size of the files and therefore reduce the time it takes to download a particular file.

In addition, you can often combine some resources of the same type (JavaScript, HTML, CSS) into fewer files that reduce HTTP requests.

4. Enable browser caching

It is more than likely that your website won’t convert on the first visit. Sometimes, visitors will come multiple times to your site before completing a transaction. This is where browser caching can help because it can reduce the time it takes for the site to render on future visits.

Browser caching is a great option for e-commerce sites as well. But it doesn’t serve companies well that have a regularly changing web design.

5. Use external hosting platforms

If you host videos on your website, you can be sure that they are slowing down your website. Videos use a lot of memory. Instead, you need to use third-party hosting solutions, like YouTube, to host your video content to speed up your website but still offer top quality delivery on the content.

Videos on YouTube can also serve as an additional way to market your content. So using YouTube is highly encouraged.

By implementing the tips above, you can be sure to speed up your website. This will improve your website’s conversation rate and improve revenue from online sources.

Upgrade your website now, ahead of potential Brexit turmoil!

Upgrade your website now, ahead of potential Brexit turmoil!

We’re living in very turbulent times, with the Brexit deadline looming and many small and medium-sized businesses struggling financially. Political uncertainty around the Prime Minister’s deal has already caused some major companies to pull out of the UK, with future trading deals potentially falling apart and the country running the risk of a supply shortage.

All bad news?

While the news is filled with doom and gloom, there are always silver linings to be found if you look hard enough. British businesses have already proved they are resilient, and many are talking up their chances of surviving the coming months and years however messy the country’s exit from the EU is going to be. If your company is to weather the storm, however, now is the time to take proactive steps to help you secure new customers and hang onto them, no matter how hard trade becomes.

If things are about to get bumpy, now is the time to invest in your marketing strategy and upgrading your website. If trade is to slow down in the coming months, you need to do everything you can to see that your business is future-proofed and able to thrive whatever happens. If you’ve been putting off upgrading or refreshing your website, then quit stalling – put it off much longer and it could be too late!

Invest now to future-proof your business

Customers are quickly turned off by unattractive, hard to navigate or slow websites, and they’re likely to go elsewhere if they don’t like what they see. If you want to attract customers and keep them coming back for more, you need a site which has a slick and appealing design and is easy to use across all devices.

As experts in this field, we know the value consumers place on great website design. As an integral part of your marketing campaign, make sure your site is the very best it can be, because it could be ‘make or break’ as we head into an increasingly challenging market. To find out more about how Westcountry Media can help your business, simply get in touch with our expert team today.

4 things to consider before working with a company

4 things to consider before working with a company

As a business owner, one of the most critical decisions you can make is deciding on which other companies you are going to work with. From the design of your website to product packaging, the services you seek have a huge impact on your overall brand image and how you are viewed in the eyes of your consumers. With that in mind, read on to discover some of what you should consider.

1. Are they a Limited Company?

You can check with Companies House to ensure the firm is a UK-based Limited Company. This will help you determine if the company is credible.

2. Do they have insurance?

You should find out whether they have professional indemnity and other insurance in place. Don’t be afraid to ask the question.

3. How long have they been in business?

You also need to establish whether the company is experienced and stable. To do this, find out how long they have been in business. 8 in 10 businesses fail in their first year, which is why it is not always wise to go for a new company.

4. What have other people said about their service?

Search online for customer reviews. If a business has a bad reputation then you know to stay away. In today’s digital age, it’s easy to pick up on businesses that have disappointed their customers. Don’t just consider the reviews directly on the company’s website, as it is likely that they will only display the positive feedback they have received. Check out independent review platforms for a true understanding. Most businesses will have a couple of negative reviews but they should give an idea of what to expect. Not being able to find any reviews should also be a red flag.

At Westcountry Media, we tick all of the above boxes. If you require web design services, working with us will give you peace of mind knowing we are an established and reliable company with an impeccable reputation.

Can I leave and take my website with me?

Can I leave and take my website with me?

When you’re getting ready to sign off on a new software project, chances are you aren’t thinking about what happens when its lifecycle eventually comes to an end. This is understandable, but all too often it turns out to be a frustrating and expensive oversight – especially for small businesses.

With web design projects specifically, it’s important to consider this when selecting a design company to work with. For instance, many large providers build websites on their own proprietary systems. This type of in-house platform means that, once your site is live, it’s almost impossible to move on if you find a better solution for maintenance, support or hosting.

In the worst case scenario, you could even find yourself stuck in a contract with poor customer service because the only alternative is paying to have an entirely new website developed. For many small businesses, this simply isn’t an option financially.

When choosing a provider to work with, remember to ask the question “Can I leave and take my website with me?

At Westcountry Media, we build our websites on widely used, open source platforms such as WordPress. This means that if, for any reason, one of our clients decides to move to a different design or hosting company, the transition would be completely seamless. In fact, almost any web designer in the world would be able to work on the existing site.

Additionally, WordPress is used so widely that if you did choose to move to another company for your web-hosting, chances are there’ll be no downtime or, even worse, data loss. So not only would you be saving the cost of a whole new website, you’d also avoid the loss of business that could arise from these technical issues. Additionally, your customers will be able to continue using the same website that they’re familiar with, and you won’t need to spoil your brand by finding a new URL.

Why would we want to make it easier for our clients to move to a different company? We’re confident enough in our hosting and customer service that we don’t need to tie in our customers with restrictive contracts, or create conditions which make it impossible for them to leave. Our clients stay with us because they want to, not because they have to.

Update from HTTP to HTTPS before July

Update from HTTP to HTTPS before July

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secured version of HTTP. In simple terms this is the protocol through which information is sent between a browser and website. The difference between HTTP and HTTPS is simply that HTTPS uses encryption when sending the information. This helps to protect information that is being transferred including login details, form submissions and even bank details.

Browsers have gradually been increasing their security levels and marking websites as secure or not secure in recent years, but in July browsers will begin clamping down on those websites still using HTTP. Here we explore HTTPS and why you need to make the switch.

How does HTTPS work?

HTTPS uses either Secure Layer Sockets (SSL) or Transport Layer Sockets (TLS) to secure and encrypt connections. The system creates two ‘keys’ that mean information can only be unlocked with the correct code. The private key is kept by the website owner in their server and this allows them to decipher the information and convert it back into useful data. While the information is being transferred, however, the data cannot be intercepted or captured.

What is the HTTPS certificate?

When a website uses a trusted SSL digital certificate the browser will check this and then display a trusted padlock symbol that reassures the user that the website is protected. With this symbol they will know that the website is able to protect their data.

Why do you need to change to HTTPS?

Whether you are collecting data on your website or not, there is about to be a shift in the way that secure and unsecured websites are treated. In July all HTTP sites on Google will be marked as being unsecured and the other browsers are soon to follow suit. The reality of this is that anyone visiting a HTTP site from July 2018 will be given a warning by their web browser that the website is unsecured. Even if you aren’t collecting data from customers this will be enough to send them looking elsewhere.

How do you change to HTTPS?

To upgrade your website to HTTPS you simply need to follow a certification process, establish your SSL and upgrade your systems. To find out how to make the switch before July, contact Westcountry Media to discuss the options and processes.

4 simple checks for a trusted website

4 simple checks for a trusted website

A recent survey by the Office of National Statistics shows that cybercrime increased by 8% last year, with over 3.6 million cases of fraud and more than 2 million reported cases of computer misuse. This increase of online fraud cases means consumers are having to become more adept at spotting fake or untrustworthy websites.

So displaying trust is one of the most important things your website has to do these days. Research by Nielsen Norman Group shows that a users trust needs must be met before they are willing to go forward with a transaction. Unfortunately, this often means they are discounting trustworthy sites that are not following best practice. So basic steps should your website take to help persuade users that you are a trustworthy business?

Green Padlock (SSL Certificate)
Due to recent government and consumer campaigns, customers have been trained to look for the green padlock icon displayed in the address bar of most browsers. This ensures there is a secure connection between the website server and the user’s browser, helping to protect information during transmission and reducing the risk of hackers intercepting personal information. If you haven’t already done so, you should contact us to implement secure SSL hosting as soon as possible, not least because this can also help improve your SEO.

Full contact information
Too many companies still make the mistake of not showing thorough contact information on their website. A contact number is a must, and it should be a landline if possible, consumers don’t typically trust companies that only show mobile numbers. But don’t stop there, you should also display your full postal address and postcode if possible. This helps to put people’s mind at rest that you are a real physical business and that they can contact you if something goes wrong.

Company registration information
Most people are not aware and even some larger companies make this mistake, but It is a legal requirement for limited companies to display their registered company number, place of registration and registered office address on their website. Typically this information is displayed in the footer, on a terms of business page or on the contact page, but it can go anywhere, so long as it’s there. Aside from being a legal requirement, this information can go a long way to proving that you are a legitimate business. If you operate in the B2B space, you will find this information is one of the first things customers look for.

Clear and concise T&Cs
All companies require terms and conditions to operate but do they really need to be written in legalese and hidden away where they’ll never be seen. Documents such as your privacy policy and returns policy should be written in a clear and concise style, providing the information the user seeks quickly and efficiently. Try to resist the temptation to write two thousand words in long-winded paragraphs without any subheadings. This makes them difficult to read and most customers have become accustomed to viewing such pages with mistrust.

The vast majority of sites we see are making at least one of these basic mistakes which are potentially costing them thousands in lost revenue every single day. Users of all ages are becoming more web savvy all the time, not because they want to, but because they have to. By failing to implement these simple trust forging elements on your website, you risk losing valuable business.

In most cases, the solutions are easy and cost-effective to implement, so if your website fails one or more of the above checks get in touch with one of our specialist team today and we’ll work to get it sorted. You only have one chance of gaining a users trust, so it’s in your interest to get it right first time.