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The Internet is 25 years old today!

Happy Internaut day! On this day in 1991, Tim Berners-Lee – a British researcher working in Switzerland released the internet to the general public and it has changed all our lives at an unbelievable pace since.

From online shopping to dating, e-mail to video calls, banking, streaming video and playing games with friends who are on the other side of the world (as if they were in the same room) – it’s safe to say that what was completely unimaginable in 1990  has taken over all our lives.

For online business the potential is huge, well on course for overtaking the high street with £60 billion anticipated to be spent online in the UK in 2016.

In just over 20 years, sites such as Amazon and eBay (launched in 1995) have practically taken over what we know as eCommerce. Even Pizza Hut make it online in 1994 and now holds a large part of an ever growing market where we simply just order a pizza to our door – through a website!

Website City as a company only exist because of the invention (and we’re forever grateful Tim!). We’re helping businesses take full advantage of the potential earnings through effective websites.

There was a point in 1991 where there was just one website online, now it is more like 1.07 billion (even though 75% are not necessarily active say Internet Live Stats). It certainly keeps us busy with 3.4 billion users enjoying 4.73 billion pages – but it’s more than that, we live our lives through it too.

Now more than ever is the time to use the internet to take your business forward.

Just for fun – here’s the first ever website.

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Which Social Media site is right for my business?

Social media clearly works but how do you know which will work best for your businesses requirements?

Let’s firstly consider the pros and cons of the 4 main networks.

Facebook has the highest number of regular worldwide users (over 1.5 billion active users!), it’s easy to use and covers all demographics however your posts won’t always get seen by your desired demographic without a paid ad that specifically targets them. Ideal for B2C.

Twitter is excellent for fast communication between a business/brand and it’s followers. Easy and quick to use and you can grow followers easily by relating to relevant trends. It’s fast moving timeline can sometimes mean that your posts are missed and with fewer average interactions it can sometimes like you’re tweeting yourself!

LinkedIn is the ultimate network for professional individuals and the businesses they work for. You and your peers can easily find eachother allowing, for useful introductions. A very useful tool for B2B marketing and establishing even long distance professional connections. It can be consuming particuarly in the setup and a poor profile can do as much damage as poor service! It has many useful features that unlike the others networks, you have to subscribe monthly to unlock.

Instagram is the newest tool that businesses are taking advantage of. It is mainly about impactful imagery and we all know a picture paints a thousand words. Again easy to use with most smart phones and tablets which it was originally designed for. It has high levels of interaction, but will only suit a certain type of business (generally B2C) and the demographic is younger on average than the other networks.

So basically, everyone is on facebook – so if you’re selling to any consumer then it’s a must. If you’re aiming at a younger generation why not post your pictures and brief descriptions with links onto Instagram too.

Twitter is a must for any business so that you can keep your customers updated. Don’t forget there will be those who are doing their research on your company too. Show them you’re active every week (at least) by posting the types of things that you’re working on and get involved with local hastags such as #staffordshirehour for example!

We’ve all heard of networking and LinkedIn makes it easier than ever to do. OK it’s not as good as meeting in person, but if you get proactive finding your contacts and getting introductions, you’ve got an easy way to network and get to the kind of customers that you want to serve.

We’re writing a seperate blog about this soon, but it is very important that your social media is done right.

What to do and what NOT to do!

If you’re going to do anything, do it properly. Don’t leave profiles half complete and fill any profiles with as much information as you possibly can. Allowing people to do their research and giving the customer what they are looking for will make for more enquiries.

Even if it’s once a week – and even if you delegate this task – update your profiles. These days people wonder if you’re still IN BUSINESS if you don’t update your social media profiles!

Tell people what you’ve been upto, post links to relevant media (especially if it involves you!) and post pictures to give people a real insight into your business. It can be of your team in the office, a finished job or even a van leaving to deliver a product to a customer. Maybe it’s good weather outside (yeah right!) and it looks lovely out of your office window.

The biggest part of it, is what people will see first so get a suitable profile picture and a killer description. This may take time, but make it clear, concise and to the point. Tell people what you’re good at and how you’ll help them. Keep it relevant!

Remember what your potential customers are actually looking for and give them exactly that. If you were buying your product or service, and you’d found you, what would what you want to know?

As a basic example on your personal linkedin profile, people don’t want to know that you enjoy “socialising” but sports or other interests help to prove that you are a person and the type of person that a potential customer would want to work with. This can also open up conversational opportunities with people who share similar interests. People buy from people.

From a business point of view social media gives you the ideal platform to portray a strong image to potential customers. Social Media can help to add credibility and relavance to your business, validating your businesses ethos by demonstrating long term relationships with existing customers, feedback from existing customers aswell as links and ties with others businesses, relevant organisations or charities.

Ensure imagery is of quality, text is written professionally and you regularly show your users that you are active and successful, all demonstrating that you are the right company for them.

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Introduction to our Beginners Guide

Thank you for taking the time to visit our Beginners Guide. We appreciate that our industry is full of buzz words and a lot of other jargon that sometimes makes no sense when it’s not your field of expertise.

We want to be as transparent as we can and therefore we’ve produced a short guide for each of our areas of expertise, which you can see is navigated on the right hand side (or below if you’re on a mobile). It may be that you already know some, if not all of what you’re about to read, but please understand that this is targeted towards clients who do not consider themselves technically advanced.

Of course, this was never supposed to be an answer to every possible question and we welcome your feedback if you feel that something should be in the guide but isn’t.

If you have any further questions at any stage, please Contact Us» and someone will be happy to help you.

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Web Industry Jargon Buster

Our website industry Jargon Buster aims to address some terms that you’ll come across when working with a company within the web development industry.

 

For ease of navigation through this jargon buster, we’ve laid it out alphabetically…We also address specific jargon within the pages of our site where appropriate.

Accessibility

In the same way we must make buildings accessible for all, we must do the same for websites. Accessibility online relates to how easy the text is to read for someone who has a reduced ability to see, all the way to using specific tools that enable those with varying abilities to fully use your website.

Alt attribute/tag

The text that appears on a page when an image cannot be displayed. It functions to tell the user what would have been there when for whatever reason the image is unable to load. They can also be used to describe the image to blind people using screen reader software and can help with Search Engine Optimisation.

Back End

A Back End refers to the part of the website that is not on public display, sometimes called an “administration panel” – it’s an area where an authorised user can login to edit a website.

Backlinks

A backlink is quite simply a link to your website from another. It may be that you’ve been featured in the local press and they’ve included a link on their article, or a partner business has suggested that you both may benefit from linking to each other’s websites. This USED to be the main way to get a site higher in the search engine results but can still be useful for a variety of reasons.

Bandwidth

Each webpage is a certain file size, just as an image or document would be to save. Each time your webpage is viewed, it is actually downloaded onto the users computer and displayed on their browser. If you webpage had 1000 hits in a month, this would mean the full size of the webpage file would be downloaded 1000 times. This is what is called your bandwidth. It is the amount of data transferred from your server to a computer that views your webpage.

Bounce Rate

A “Bounce” is when a user has visited your website and left without clicking on anything else or viewing another page. Bounces can happen for a number of reasons but usually because the user was looking for something else and had stumbled upon your page. A low bounce rate is one of the indicators of a good marketing campaign.

Breadcrumb

This is a trail (usually places at the top of a website) that shows you where you are on that website, so the user never gets lost. For example you are on our website, in our blog, in the beginners guide category and at the very top of this page, below the menu, you can see the breadcrumb saysL
“Website City (UK) Limited > Blog > Beginners Guides > Jargon Buster – A Beginners Guide!”

Browser

A browser the piece of software that you use to browse the internet. This will usually be Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or Safari although there are many excellent browsers available.

Cache

A Cache is a little bit of memory that is allocated somewhere, to save files in, so that they load quicker next time. Sometimes you will need to empty your cache if you’re having trouble seeing a latest version of a webpage and sometimes websites have a cache too, to increase the loading speeds of your site.

CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart)

This is simply the swirly text you have to input or image selection process you go through when you’re accessing certain sites, trying to log into emails etc.This confirms you’re a human not an automated system.

Client

The ‘client’ often refers to the web browser. You might ask a server for a web page, which the client/web browser will display. However there might also be JavaScript code in there which adds extra features, and it will be the client displaying this info rather than the server where the information is held.

Code (Source Code)

Web Developers use code to create a working website. The code tells the browser how to display the website. We use two different types of code: HTML and PHP mainly.

Cookies

These are small files which hold data on lots of things, for instance your browsing habits, username and password details to name a few.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

When a website is written, there are several parts to it that hold different pieces of information. A style sheet is where we declare all of the styles, such as fonts, colours and generally how we want elements of your webpages to display. Keeping it on a separate style sheet means that we can keep your webpages consistent, as each page looks to the one style sheet to see how it should display.

CSS3

Allows you to add shadows to text, create rounded images and do a multitude of other things that would normally be created within Photoshop. If you have an older web browser, you’ll just see a simpler, less snazzy version of the website.

Data Centre

A purpose built building where the internet connection is always on that houses computers (Servers) that are required to be accessible through the internet 24/7.

DNS

These 3 letters stand for Domain Name Service and this what sends your domain name to the correct server location, so that when a user types your domain, they reach your website. We have our own DNS servers and look after this for you.

Domain

This is the name of your website and it always ends with a domain extension, such as .com, .net, .co.uk, and many other weird and wonderful extensions.

E-Commerce

Quite simply, a website that you can purchase from.

Favicon

A fav icon is the little icon that appears in the tab when you’re looking at a website. They’re extremely small, you can see ours is the first part of our logo – “Web” in a red circle.

Fold

Or more specifically “The Fold” – this refers to the line where the webpage reaches the bottom of the screen. It’s what you can see before you start scrolling down. Many experts agree that all your important information should be above the fold to ensure a user can see it straight away, even if you have to encourage them to scroll down later.

Font / Font-Family

A pretty basic one perhaps – it is simply the style that text is presented and we can set almost any font to suit the look of your website. A font family is a series of similar fonts, a technique that is sometimes used to ensure that no matter what browser is being used, the user has a similar experience (even if the user doesn’t have that font installed).

Front End

This is the part of the website that the user can see. It is usually referred to the front end when there is a “back end”, a login or content management system of some kind for editors.

HTML

This is the most basic type of code required to build a website. Every website in the world uses HTML to convert a file into a website that can be read by a browser.

HTML5

The latest version of HTML aims to support the latest multimedia content. Previously HTML4 had to be upgraded with lots of software patches and JavaScript to make things work smoothly on more demanding tasks, for example videos. However in some cases this ‘patching’ actually caused glitches and faults within a website… so the latest version HTML5 essentially combines HTML4 and JavaScript assisting the display of more complicated, dynamic and interactive websites, whilst reducing the chance of faults.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol)

This defines how messages are sent and received on the web. When you enter a website domain HTTP sends a command to collect the requested web page. HTTPS is a secure version of this data request, often used when confidential information is involved.

IP address (Internet Protocol address)

An individual number assigned to an internet ready devices such as a PC or smartphone, but also to any peripheral devices like printers. Its and online address that allows the device to receive information in the same way your postal address allows you to receive post.

JavaScript

This is a programming code that adds more interactivity and fun to a web page’s behaviour than HTML.

Jpeg

A compressed image, to allow quicker transfer of data.

Keywords

A Keyword is a word that you wish to be found for when people search for you. You can have many keywords on your website, but you should ensure your content focuses on a handful.

Landing Page

A standalone page that a user will land on after being attracted by a campaign. It is usually specific to a product or service and is a particular promotion within itself, encouraging an action from the user or signposting the user to a place that they can purchase.

Meta Tags

These are the original hidden tags within webpages that tell the search engines some basic information about the page, it’s title and a brief description. They are still relevant for basic information, including what text actually displays on your listing when you get found on a search engine.

Navigation

A term to describe the method that users will move around your website. A clean and clear navigation is essential as a lost user will simply log out of your site. Usually this is achieved with a simple menu in a consistent place on every page of a website.

Open Source

Many systems exist that allow website designers, for free, to use their code to achieve their aims when building a website of their own. Some Open Source systems such as WordPress and Magento, are secure, well maintained and save users tens of thousands of pounds each in comparison to a web development company attempting to write all those features from scratch for a client. Thanks to Open Source technology the cost for an average website that includes an ability for a user to login and manage has dropped from £40,000 to around £5,000.

Page View

This is one single view, by one single user. For example you are viewing this page now, that is on our statistics as 1 page view. One user may view 10 pages. One user may view one page 10 times.

Pixels

A pixel is a dot on a screen. Your screen is made up of thousands of pixels. A screen will usually display 72 pixels per inch, a high quality printed document will average 300 pixels per inch.

Resolution

This refers to the size of a screen in pixels. Your screen may well 1920 pixels wide by 800 pixels high, for example.

Responsive design

Uses CSS3 (see above) to respond on how to best display a websites on mobile, tablet or desktop computers. For instance you might want to increase the text size on your mobile.

RSS

You may have come across RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication), it is quite simply a method that content authors use to share their content very quickly and simply.

Server

A server is a computer that is always connected to the internet. To ensure that the connection is always on, they are usually kept in datacentres. A user types in a domain name, which sends the user to the server that you website is kept on. If the server is off, or the connection is down, your website is not accessible.

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics)

This is a file format, which unlike other images allows pictures to be zoomed into so that it scales the image accordingly. This stops the image from losing quality, using vectors instead of pixels.

UAT (User Acceptance Testing)

This is where you get a team of real people to test out a program or website in a bid to find any bugs or glitches before it goes live on the internet

URL

A URL is the full address to a particular website, page, document or image. The URL is what is displayed in the address bar above. For example this page has a URL of: http://www.websitecity.co.uk/introduction-beginners-guide/

Web Browser

This is basically the software program you use to access the web for example Firefox or Google Chrome.

XML

A slightly different way of transporting and storing data from HTML – think of HTML and XML as close relatives.


We Hope this Jargon Buster has helped… If there is anything that isn’t covered in this blog that you feel should be included, please Contact Us» at your convenience. We will be more than happy to supply you with the information you require and update our site accordingly.

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Business eMail systems – A Beginners Guide

We’re all familiar with eMail and most people usually have several accounts provided for free when they purchase products such as broadband or a mobile phone or tablet…even services like facebook are now supplying standalone eMail addresses for their users.

From our experience and customer feedback we know that companies require a more advanced and professional business email system, that allows constant and efficient contact with existing and potential customers. Whilst also offering personalised and branded addresses with a specific contact, department, domain or business name, for example…YOU@YOURBUSINESS.com or SALES@WEBSITEDOMAIN.co.uk

There are several providers that make this achievable and we cover them all below…you’ll be pleased to know we work with the best and most recognised services in the world.


POP3/IMAP

This method of eMail uses Microsoft Outlook / Outlook Express / Mac Mail and any of the general eMail software available to you on your phones and tablets and has been the standard way to run your business e-mail for many years. You simply add your settings into your e-mail program and run your e-mail from your computers, phones and tablets.

This is included in every hosting account, so at no extra cost, you can have professional eMail with your website.

As technology advances and spam software becomes more stringent with incoming e-mails, it is being found more and more that POP3 and IMAP is not necessarily perfect for all.


Exchange Servers & Google Apps for Business

To truly benefit from a synchronisation of your e-mail, calendar events, tasks and everything else that you wish to have on all of your devices, on a professional e-mail system that beats spam filters almost every time, you may wish to consider a more professional system.

For example Google Apps for Business is £3.30 per month per user, but is our recommended investment for any SME. Yes it’s a cost that you could avoid, however the benefits far outweigh that cost. Professional e-mail that is accessible from anywhere which includes being able to take all of your files with you as they’re securely stored within Google’s Cloud.

Click here to see all of Google Apps For Business »


If you require any more information on this subject please visit the E-mail Systems» section of our website. Alternatively if you wish to run your requirements past an expert before you make a decision on your next e-mail system, please Contact Us »

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Online Marketing – A Beginners Guide!

A website is comparable to a brochure. You’ve gone to the effort of really representing your business well, with a great design and carefully considered information, then you’ve had 10,000 printed. The next natural step is to start handing that brochure out. You can’t assume that your customers will knock on your door or search a directory to find you to request a brochure.

Online Marketing is getting your website and business out there in front of your target market. Technology allows us to specifically target the people & businesses most likely to buy your goods & services, tailoring a marketing campaign (both on and offline) that is not only much more efficient than traditional methods, but also more flexible (at the click of a button you can adapt the campaign to a changing market) and easier to assess its effectiveness.

Of course this varies for every kind of business, but as every successful business knows, you must run a marketing campaign, monitor it’s profitability and then decide whether to end, evolve or scale up the efforts. remember good marketing is never a cost, just an investment!


The most effective ways of internet marketing are…

Search Engines

Whether it’s through Organic Search Engine Optimisation or Pay Per Click advertising, people search the internet to find what they want and the very best place you can be as a business is in front of the people who are searching for what you do!

You can see from your website reports how many people are visiting your website and how they’re finding you. The difference between being on page one and page two for your keywords can be worth tens of thousands of pounds worth of natural sales alone.

For more information on search engine optimisation please visit our SEO» page.


Social Media

The beauty of sites like Facebook and Twitter, from a marketing perspective, is that they have so much information about people that can be used to target your perfect market. For certain industries, it can be incredibly effective. For example you can target an advert towards people, within 10 miles of your location, who have just got engaged. Could you imagine what that could do for an events company, florist or venue?

We can help you to assess your target market and make the most of this avenue. If you require more information on social media marketing please visit our Social Media» page.


E-mail Marketing

Do you have a database of existing customers, or could you put together a list of e-mail addresses that you can use to send out promotions? Alot of people believe that due to spam, people don’t respond well to e-mail marketing anymore but they do! It’s possibly the least invasive, most friendly way you can target customers and the best part is you can build a list any time – and send them as much or as little as you want.

If you require more information on E-mail marketing please visit our E-Mail marketing» page.


Monitoring your success

The golden rule of marketing is to monitor every single action to ensure you know exactly how it’s performing. Internet Marketing makes this not only easy to do, but it’s automated. By monitoring your activity and response rate you can see what’s making you money and what isn’t… meaning you can cut spend on some methods and increase your spend on others, until you find the perfect mix for your business.


If you require more information on any of our marketing services and products please visit our Marketing Introduction» page. Alternatively you could Contact Us» where one of our dedicated team will be happy to answer any queries you may have

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Web Hosting – A Beginners Guide!

Websites are a group of files that load in a browser. Just as you have to save your work such as a document onto your computer, website files must be stored in much the same way. For a website to be online and accessible at all times however, they must be stored on a server which is permanently connected to the internet and allows access from any web browser in the world.

For this purpose, Servers are kept in data centres that are permanently connected to the internet and have all of the software and hardware in place to protect themselves from hackers, viruses and prevent against more standard issues such as overheating of equipment or an internet line going down.

Wikipedias web hosting explanation  – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_hosting_service


Do I need a server?

As you can appreciate if you have a website or are considering investing in one, you will require server space to allow them to be accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, whilst being safe in the knowledge that the site security and server maintenance is updated regularly to protect both your business and its clients. There are essentially two main types of server and these are outlined below…

Shared Servers – Due to the size of a lot of websites and amount of traffic (visitors) on those sites,the majority of companies do not require a server of their own. In most cases we would therefore offer our own servers to our customers which can be shared, this ultimately brings the ongoing cost of server space down to a more reasonable level by spreading the server cost between 2 or more companies.

Dedicated Servers – For larger sites that have a lot of information and/or traffic, or sites that need to be more secure due to the sensitive information they hold (banks are a good example of this) a dedicated server may be more suitable, to either accommodate the size and complexity of the site, or the demand for information from its visitors. Dedicated servers are therefore a more costly option, but if your business requires that extra storage, bandwidth or security the cost is minimal compared to the benefits to your website and customers.


If you require any more information on web hosting please visit our Web Hosting Intro.» page or feel free to Contact Us» where one of our support team will be happy to assist you further.

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Website Design – A Beginners Guide!

A website is a set of files that anyone can view, that represent your business on the internet. People can search on a search engine such as Google, Yahoo or Bing and click on your website there, or you can give them the specific web address (your URL) on your business cards, leaflets or as a link in an e-mail for a potential customer to view your products and services.


What do they cost?

There’s no real set price, you’re paying for a consultation service and website designers time. It’s like dealing with a solicitor, you pay them by the hour and they get the job done, thankfully a website designer is on a lower hourly rate than a solicitor!!! The size and complexity of the site are ultimately the two major factors that determine cost.

We evaluate your businesses website requirements and advise…they can be as little as £200 for a one page basic website, but in the majority of cases they are usually from £1500-6000, we’ve also regularly worked for large companies who have had significant requirements far above that.

We can cater for any budget and for any size of business!


Should I build my own or get a member of staff to? Are they really £5 per month?

Frankly, if you’re a sole trader with no money to spend on a professional website then your only option is to go the DIY £5 a month way, because you need a website as a marketing necessity. However it is not a real long term solution for any professional business for a huge number of reasons that we’ll be blogging about soon.

If you’re a professional company with a budget, then you absolutely must get a website designed for your business. Consider it a vital part of your advertising/marketing spend for the year (although a good well planned and structured website will easily last 5-10 years). A customer’s impression of you is sealed within 7 seconds!!!

You wouldn’t send out a product in a shoddy box, you wouldn’t arrive to an important meeting in an old banger, you wouldn’t have a rotting sign above your front door because of the impression it creates for your business and in reality, far more people will see your website than will ever see your car or office building.


For more information on website design, please visit our Web. Design Intro.» page, or alternatively Contact Us» where we will be happy to discuss your requirements in more detail.

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Sign up to our expert newsletter!

We are now operating a regular e-mail newsletter to all customers and friends of Website City.

Our new newsletter will be packed full of ideas for you to take your business further forward, aswell as real life examples of where we’ve seen success with a particular method, or in a particular industry.

  • Inspiring Case Studies & Examples.
  • Ideas you can really use – and do yourself.
  • Motivational Interviews.
  • Expert Knowledge from a range of sources.
  • The latest and best methods to market your business online.

All for free, with no sales pitches. Ever.

If you’d like this kind of expert knowledge in your inbox each month, then scroll down and enter your e-mail address now.