Category : Web Design

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Web Design: What is an Alternative to Adobe Photoshop That is Free?

The answer is GIMP!

GIMP is a free graphics program which is comparable to Adobe Photoshop. GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) runs on Windows, Mac and Linux.

I am often asked what graphic programs are good to use for basic graphic design. GIMP is a pretty good candidate for this. It can even save files in Photoshop format.

Website Design Wollongong News: Adobe Create Suite 5 – CS5 Released

It’s an exciting time because Adobe have just released the latest website authoring tools that most website designers and developers use everyday.

I cannot think of day when I do not use Photoshop or Dreamweaver. As I write this post, they are both open.

The industry standard for web design is Adobe Photoshop and Dreamweaver. For over 10 years, web developers have used Dreamweaver to build all sorts of web pages.

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SEO: Page Speed Now A Factor For Google Ranking

Google leads when it comes to quality of search engine results for end-users. If you are looking for something, usually Google will find it. That’s why Google wants to continue to satisfy it’s customers.

Google has now added a new factor to the rankings of their search engine results. Research has shown that faster loading web sites adds to a user experience. They stay on fast longer web sites for a longer period of time.

Web sites that are slow to load are often aborted because they take too long to load.

What about your web site?
How long does your web site take to load? If your web site is slow to load, are you losing visitors? Now, you will not only lose visitors but your search engine rankings will drop.

Slow loading web site factors
The factors are all measured from the users’ point of view. How long it takes for a web site to be downloaded and rendered on a users computer screen is the measurement used.

There are two great books based on this topic by Steve Souders – High Performance Web Sites and Even Faster Web Sites.

Here are his rules for producing fast web sites –

Wrap Up
If you optimise your website, your users will have a better experience and you will get higher rankings in Google search results.

SEO: Are you losing your Google ranking with Cyclical Content?

I’m going to describe an important concept about content that appears year after year on your website. If you had a product that came out each year, for example – a car model from Toyota called the Corolla, what address would give it?

  • http://toyota.com.au/corolla
  • http://toyota.com.au/corolla-series-8
  • http://toyota.com.au/corolla2009

Still unsure? read on and I will explain which one to use.

What is Cyclical Content?
Cyclical content can be defined as information about a product, service or event that comes out each year or period.

You may have an awards event that is on every year or a new model of a product every six months.

The mistake most web designers make when working on your website
Many web designers will make the website address for your event, product or service with the date attached to it or the series number or something like that. For example, the awards website address that you have this year is http://yourname.com.au/awards09

What happens next year and people are searching for your awards website address in Google? They type in the name of your awards but what address comes up? This year and all your previous awards website address will be competing against each other.

The answer
The best website address to use is the same one every year or every time the product is released.

These are good addresses because it says the same –

  • http://toyota.com.au/corolla
  • http://yourname.com.au/awards

It doesn’t matter what year it is, the current information for your awards will be found in the same spot. Previous years’ award information won’t be competing against other years.

If you wanted to look at the 2006 model of the Toyota Corolla, you would use this address – http://toyota.com.au/corolla/2006. If you wanted this year’s model, you would use – http://toyota.com.au/corolla.

Wrap Up
I hope you understand how to use your website address in the most practical way to keep ranking your website high in the search engine results.

Shopping Carts: Could your shopping cart be penalised from Google?

Did you know that Google penalises websites for duplicate content? If Google thinks you have copied content from elsewhere on the Internet, you can get banned from Google.

If you sell the same products as other merchants, are your descriptions of your products unique or copied from the manufacturers website?

Did you copy your content?
If they are copied directly from the manufacturers website or from a competitor, you run the risk of being banned from Google or at least penalised with your search engine rankings.

Make your product descriptions unique
The benefit of having unique product descriptions may give your website a better ranking. Having your own product description that you wrote means you can make it more targetted for specific keywords giving you more control of your ranking.

Search engines love content that is unique. Customers like reading product descriptions that say more than what’s your competitor websites.

Wrap Up
Make your product descriptions unique!

What Type of Website Should I get?

There are hundreds of options available when it comes to developing a website but which one should you choose? This article is dedicated to describing the main types of websites that are available and how to pick the most suitable type.

A couple of things first before we look at what’s available, you need to answer the following questions

What is the purpose of the website?
Is the purpose of the website to sell products online, take bookings or simply provide information to your customers?

How often will you update it?
Some website are updated everyday while otherwise are only updated once a year. Will the updated be done by your web developer or do you want to do it yourself?

What is your budget?
Do you have any idea how much your website is going to cost? There are a lot of people that just want to take your money, but there are also people who will give you a fair price for a good website. Get multiple quotes and trust your instinct.

The types of websites available
Websites can be broken into the following three types –

Static website
This is a website with one page up to a dozen pages with a contact us form. This is ideal for small businesses that want a web presence without a large investment in developing the site and ongoing fees.

Site updates are done only a couple times a year. I do not recommend leaving a site without any changes for longer than 12 months. You want to demonstrate to customers that you have an up-to-date website with current information on your website.

You can make this website yourself using a website builder or have it professional designed by a web designer.

Flash websites would be included in this website type because changes usually need to be done in Adobe Flash.

It is commonly referred to as a brochure website because it’s purpose is similar to a printed brochure.

Content Management System (CMS)
CMS websites are template driven and suitable for websites that are update often. It could be updated a couple a times a day or a couple times a month. These websites consist of two areas – the public website that everyone sees and an administration area to manage the content.

CMS websites require more investment to setup but updates can be done more easily. With little training, the business owner, receptionist or other employee can update the site. The user simply adds, modifies or deletes the content through the web-based administration area. The web developer is only required to make major changes such as modifying the template.

Examples of open source content management systems include – WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. Some companies create their own CMS software but requires a large budget and more time to develop.

Shopping Cart System
Online shopping carts are very popular today enabling small businesses to compete with the big guys. Customers are comfortable purchasing online and paying by credit card. Many online stores have started as owner operators and expanded into large businesses employing hundreds of people.

Shopping carts can range from one page order forms – a static web page suitable for 10 products or less; or full e-commerce systems (suitable for 10 to 50,000 products) with backend administration capabilities to add, modify or delete products.

Examples of open source shopping carts include – CartXpress, osCommerce, Magento, CRE Loaded and Zen Cart.

Website designs
There are two popular types of website designs available – custom design and templates. A custom design may be suitable to give your website the same look and feel as the rest of your business. Website templates allow you to see what you get before the project is started. Website templates are available for all types.

You can browse our templates here – Template Shop.

Wrap up
You may use one type of website or a combination of website types within the one website. Some website have a static section, an online store and a blog (CMS).It all depends on what your needs are.

Before you talk to any website developers or designers, know the purpose of your website and browse the web to get some ideas. This will be very helpful when you talk to your web developer.

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Is Search Engine Optimisation Worth It?

onlinenews

Search engine optimisation (SEO) can be defined as optimising your website so search engines can rank your website in the natural search results, as high as possible for those targetted keywords.

But is all the effort in SEO really worth it?
Should you put all that time and effort into optimising your website so that when the search engine bots come through, that your page will rank higher?

Should you even think about paying an SEO professional to do it for you? What return on investment can you expect?

There’s no  guarantees
No one can guarantee number one position for your chosen keywords for the natural search results. You might get emails in everyday with promises but still no real guarantee.

The statistics
The number one ranking website for any keyword has an average click through rate of 56%. So if 1,000 searches are done for that keyword each day, that’s 560 visitors each day on average.

Of these 560 visitors you get daily, 5% purchase a product – that’s 1 in 20 people. That’s a nice conversion rate and works out to be 112 new customers each day from that keyword. If the average purchase was $100, that’s $11,200 a day in revenue. That number 1 ranking is worth a lot of money.

Imagine if it was a popular keyword and it was being searched 100,000 times a day – 56,000 visitors a day and up to 11,200 new customers a day in an ideal scenario. That’s $1,120,000 a day. Now we’re starting to talk big business!!

Would your business benefit from this kind of traffic?
Any online business could benefit from this kind of traffic. On the Internet, targetted traffic is king. It earns money and it’s what some businesses survive on.

Competition is heavy in the search engines and the most profitable the keywords, that more likely there is going to be more competition.

Conclusion
SEO is definitely worth it and can take a company from being good to great! If your website is not search engine optimised, you are not helping the business at all.

If you have any questions about SEO, please contact me – nigel@burke.com.au

David Lim: Transition From A Hobby eBay Seller To Fulltime Small Business Entrepreneur

timberbitsAuthor : “Pen Kits & Pen Blanks – Timberbits.com

Most people dream of handing the letter to the boss that says “I quit!” However the reality is very seldom realized.

Starting your own small business is very daunting and traditionally, doing so means mortgaging the family home or borrowing from family and friends.

Where to start.

Ebay has now the perfect vehicle to test and develop you business model and skills. With a few click and some loose change in your pocket, you can compete in a level playing field with the big boys in town.

Should your sales start to pick up and you get into the rhythm of selling on ebay, you will very quickly notice the advantages and disadvantages of eBay.

Pro’s and Con’s

The main disadvantages of eBay is mainly

1. the enormous fees that it charges, and

2. the price wars and race to the bottom which quickly erodes profits.

The next level.

Once you have developed a customer base, it’s time to start to lead them to an environment that you control. Lead them to a place where the big corporation can’t dictates how much their share is (before your even earn a cent), away from the “hand of god” that can delete all your listing because of a complaint of a righteous customer, away from a place which shares all your business statistics with your competitors.

By leading your customers to your own web site, you take back control and you also save a lot of money in the process.

Your website is your shop – give it some street appeal

Have you ever visited a web site that looked like it was done by a 8 year old or a newbie to web design? You wouldn’t get a dodge carpenter or a friend of a friend to fitout your retail premises – we all know this is the case we walk into some shops, why do the same with your web site?

With the invent of the web – small business can compete with the big boys in town. Spend a bit of money up front and get a professional to do the job. To fit out a retail shop professionally expect to pay over $250,000. A professional website is less than $1,000.

I always get complimented for how professional Pen Kits & Pen Blanks – Timberbits.com looks. It cost me less than a $700 to get started – that’s less than 1 months of eBays fees. Now my website’s volume has grown to more than 5 times what I sell on eBay. I now save thousands of dollars a month just on eBay fees, not to mention the time and frustration on eBay.

My word of advice is as soon as you start selling more than 20 transactions a month on eBay, start to invest in a website. When you do build a website, don’t go cheap – we all know what those websites look like, pay a professional because you get what you pay for.

Google: Let’s Make The Web Faster + New Tool

google-betaGoogle has introduced a new tool that allows you to check the speed of your website and improve the speed.

This is one of Google’s ways to give back to the Internet community by educating developers and designers to make better websites. This in turn is supposed to make the web a better place.

Tutorials
The site has some great tutorials and you can visit them here – Tutorials. Some example tutorials are –

Participation
You can participate in discussions about making the web faster here – Share and discuss

Useful Tools
There are some fantastic tools the Google lists here. You can access the tools page here – Try useful tools. Some examples are –

I highly recommend you check out the educational tutorials and test some of the tools they have made available and listing on the site.

SEO: On-Page Elements You Can Instantly Change To Get A Top Ranking In Google

wwwYour website can rank higher by simply knowing what elements Google and other search engines look at when indexing your page. When you are aware of these elements, you can make minor modifications to your website to produce a better ranking.

This is information that your SEO expert does not want you to know. SEO experts charge thousands of dollars to apply this to your website.

  1. URL – The URL is the web address. You can name the page with the targeted keywords.
    Action – Name your pages accordingly.
    Example – http://yourdomain.com.au/keyword.html
     
  2. Links – The links in the page should be related to the targeted keywords. These are just like references and by reading the references, you should be able to work out what the original page is about.
    Action – Name your links so they are related to the targeted keywords.
    Example – <a href=”apr.com.au”>Australian Produce Report</a>
     
  3. The title tag – Do not simply place your business name here. Search engines rank the first words as the most important keywords for your site.
    Action – Place the most important keywords first and then your business name.
    Example – <title>keywords | page name | Business name</title>
     
  4. The description tag – This does not have as much weight as it used to have but it is still important. Many search engines still look at this for keywords and even Google may use it as the description for your page in it’s search results.
    Action – Imagine that your visitor has not seen the page and write a good description about what the page is about.
    Example – <meta name=”description” content=”a great description of the page”>
     
  5. The keywords tag – Search engines may not put much weight on to the specified keywords but it is still good to include it because every bit helps.
    Action – Enter a list of the most important keyworkds into this tag.
    Example – <meta name=”keywords” content=”a list of great keywords”>
     
  6. The heading tags – Search engines look at the heading tags throughout your document and define what the page is about. Many websites make the mistake of not using the heading tags at all so the text looks like a long blurb to a search engine.
    Action – Using heading tags to break up your text into headings and subheadings using the search engine recognised way.
    Example – <h1>Big heading</h1> … text … <h2>Sub heading here</h2> … more text.
     
  7. Bold text – Does your site use bold text? Using bolding on your most important keywords in your text. This will make it easier for a human reader and search engine bot to understand it – but make sure that it still looks good. Afterall, you need to make pages that humans can read and not pages that are simply only optimized and readable by search engine robots.
    Action – Use bolding for your most important keywords in your content
     
  8. Text – Your chosen keywords should be the main discussion points on this page. If you have chosen a keyword but have not mentioned it in the content, should you be really targeting that keyword or maybe you need to add more content so you include the keywords.
    Action – Check that your target keywords are aligned with the content.
     
  9. Alt text – Do your images utilize the image description element? If you load a web page without images, you should be able to make out what the images are about using the image description information. Search engines only read text and not images. The alt image value appears when you rest a mouse on an image.
    Action – Describe every image on the page and add your targeted keywords where you can. Remember that Braille readers and speech synthesizers use the alt text value so do not confuse these readers.
     

How could we forget these basic rules?
When making a web page, we often think about the marketing and the selling perspective of the page. We often forget that search engine robots need to read these pages too. On the other hand, we need to create pages that humans can understand as well.

Search engines try and replicate how a human would read a page but sometimes, they need a helping hand. By implementing these elements correctly on all your web pages means that search engines will recognise the content and targeted keywords more easily.

Conclusion
You now know how to optimize your on-page elements for your website. Now go update your website with your new found knowledge!

The importance of quality product images

product2We have seen different shopping carts and eBay listings but what is one of the most important things you’ve noticed about the products and listings? There is the layout of the site, the functionality and then there is the quality of the product images.

Do your product images look professional? Do they say ‘buy me’ to the viewer?

The Benefits of Great Product Images
Having high quality product images for you shopping cart and website can make or break the success of it. Too often I see websites with poor to average photos of products. The business has done a lot of work to the website in getting it ready and spending money to drive customers to the website, then they display poor photos of their products.

Have a look at the flyers that come in your mail box from Woolworths, Coles and other retailers. All the product images are perfect. They want you to buy their products so they have the best product images. You too can have great product photos by spending a few dollars or buying the equipment and doing it properly yourself.

product1Do-It-Yourself Photography
If you want to do this yourself because you have a large number of images, a bit of time and a turnover of products, you can invest in some photography tents by searching through eBay. Most digital cameras today can take high quality photos if you know how to. There are a lot of resources on the Internet to show you how.

Professional Photography
If you have a limited number of products that you will have on your website, it may be better to use a third party photography studio. You can send them your products, they’ll take the photos, optimise them, send you quality images and send your products back.

With your new high quality product images, you will be selling more products immediately.