5 things to consider before working with a company

5 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 what you need to 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. Are they VAT registered?

It is also a good idea to find out whether the company is VAT registered. If they are, it shows they are serious and established. None of us look to to pay extra tax but If they are not VAT registered, this would indicate a turnover below the £85,000 turnover threshold.

5. 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.

The issue with self-build business websites

The issue with self-build business websites

Building your own website might seem like a cheap and cheerful way to promote your business, but unfortunately, the reality of the finished product often fails to live up to expectations.

First impressions

When a customer visits your website for the first time, accessibility is key. A poorly formatted website can take a sale from your company and make it business for your competitors. It can make it look like your business is trying to cut costs wherever they can, at the expense of the customer. This can leave visitors to your site feeling alienated and may prompt them to take their business elsewhere.

Time is money

The idea of getting your site up and running in under a day might sound appealing, but creating an original, quality website takes time and a lot of hard work, especially when you factor in proper design, mobile compatibility and SEO optimisation. Self-build websites are inefficient and can take a lot of time out of your already busy day to achieve results that are ultimately sub-par.

Experience is key

Realistically, creating a self-build website might be a fun challenge or hobby to undertake, but when it comes to your business, hiring a professional is the only way to ensure you’re providing your customers with the quality, accessible site they deserve. An experienced site designer knows that your website is your key marketing tool and will ensure that your site is generating enough traffic and business.

Why sacrifice your time and hard work building a second-rate website when for as little as £249 you could have a professional site with original content tailored to your needs? At Westcountry Media, we understand the importance of creating affordable, professional websites for our customers. To find out more, contact us today.

The importance of a great website

The importance of a great website

Now, more than ever, your website serves as an integral marketing tool for your company. With an ever-increasing reliance on and availability of digital devices, it is easy to find a company’s website and vet them for yourself. However, the great thing about websites is they also link in well to more traditional marketing websites. So if you are considering whether your website is up to scratch, or considering getting your first one, here are some points to highlight the importance of getting a great website.

Online marketing

Whenever people need a product or service, the first point of call has become a quick search on Google. Perhaps they are looking for a new toothbrush, a car to rent, or even a restaurant in their local area. Google is the fastest way to find a relevant response to their query, as well as compare prices and reviews, and ultimately make a purchase.

This has become an amazing tool for every kind of business as, for free, your customers can find you online and decide to buy from you. Though it isn’t exactly that simple and the whole art of SEO revolves around helping your business rank higher for certain key terms. Either way, with some effort and perseverance, your website can be on the front page of Google for searches relating to what you sell, which opens up amazing opportunities to find new customers.

In turn, a great website is essential as, if people were to find your site, then they need to be impressed by your image and to know they can trust you. The quality of your website will immediately serve as their first impression of you, so you need to make sure it’s a good one. You will also be able to include testimonials and indicators of what makes you secure and trustworthy, such as recognised accreditation’s and secure payment logos etc.

Offline marketing

As already mentioned, your website is not just relevant for people finding you online, but also for finding you via more traditional methods such as:

– Getting a flyer through the door
– Receiving a recommendation from a friend
– Seeing you listed in a newspaper ad
– Spotting you on the side of a bus or billboard
– Noticing that you sponsor an event

Regardless of which one of these methods they use to find you, it’s likely that they will check out your website before calling or emailing. They will want fast access to answers such as how much do you cost? Where are you located? Have people bought from you before? What makes you different?

A great website is integral to helping your potential customers get immediate and practical answers to these questions and starting the process of building a relationship between yourselves and them.

It should be clear that, regardless of how you choose to advertise, be it via more traditional methods or via new avenues such as Google AdWords or Facebook Advertising, your website needs to be great in order to make you stand out from the crowd. Westcountry Media are helping businesses small and large to develop their online identity via fantastic websites.

To find out more on how we can help your business, get in contact today.