A Website Design Agency That Cuts the B***S***!
(How Long it Will Take, What You’ll Get, and for How Much)
Are you like us, fed up with being oversold?
Wouldn’t it be more refreshing to find a website design agency that gets on with giving you the lowdown on what we provide for you?
We think so too, and that’s why we are steering away from all the fanciful stuff and telling you like it is.
We are about cutting out the ‘bull’ and concentrating on what’s important; optimising our web design service for the leading search engines on both desktop and mobile phones.
For a start, maybe there’s something you haven’t been asked?;
Do you really need a new website for your online business, or could you remodel what you already have without losing much downtime?
This isn’t something we’d expect you to know straight off the bat, but with analytics from us and your instincts, you’ll decide quickly.
You may be convinced that you need a new ecommerce site when in fact it can do you more harm than good!
We want to let you in on a little secret that hardly any website builder would like you to know;
Sometimes it’s better to leave well alone. It’s the, ‘If you pick at it, it will never get better!’ analogy.
At other times a digital bandage or a lighter appoach to graphic design will do until the patient recovers.
Sure, there are times when you need a full operation otherwise there’s no saving you!
It’s all about the health of your website.
If you constantly mess with your site, you’re contributing to the problems that arise from it.
If you have downtime, customers arrive and the site is being reworked.
Will, they come back or go elsewhere?
And what of a new site?
Your regular customers may not necessarily be happy with having to relearn how to navigate the new look site.
Google’s ranking algorithms consider longevity for authority within ecommerce sites too. They won’t have had time to recognise the changes, and your ranking is affected.
The idea of retaining the same site and reworking it while it’s still live has merit.
If you leave your business with the same ecommerce platform provider, your customers find you more easily.
Though Google seems to like changes to a site that are small but frequent, they recognise and tend to reward higher ranking authority to those that don’t alter it too drastically, yet still, bring in more viewers.
With everything said, we also understand that ecommerce platform providers sometimes have to be changed, as do ecommerce websites that are inadequate.
So, what does our company do?
If we at Salesbloom are lucky enough to be invited to analyse an existing ecommerce site, we perform an initial audit for any design project.
Though based in the Cardiff area, this does not restrict us to local projects as our services are used throughout different Western countries.
Liaise with us and meet the team either via a prearranged web chat or if you prefer, we can travel to your offices and address your issues firsthand.
We have a wide range of advanced tools and experience within the marketing industry that give us insights into site issues within hours.
Specialist software tools are utilised to determine if ecommerce platforms providers are fit for purpose.
Our audits include checking (but is not always limited to);
Whether the existing ecommerce site handles the diversity of products easily.
If the present site scales up to handle business growth.
If the platform can stand the speed of growth, including deliveries if dealing with physical products.
How quickly a page loads.
How the site performs on different search engines.
Payment process options.
If the site hosted or self-hosted.
That the platform is correct for the digital market it’s being used for.
If there is ample room for written, video and audio content.
If the support is there when needed, and how long before tickets are remedied.
What the feedback is from other users.
Title tags and meta descriptions.
Content and link issues.
If CTA follows best practice guidelines.
Landing and home pages for bounce rates.
Opt-in best practices.
Customer information registration best practices.
Mobile compatibility issues.
Cost of the platform for service provided.
As a bonus, what products are converting best based regarding traffic to the site. NB. This may not mean they are the best sellers.
- Logo design, from best practice behind design developing to producing an end product.
- The graphic design of the site (it does matter) and best design process.
Instinctively, most clients will feel they know it’s time for a change: Though instincts can be wrong.
There’s a wide range of reasons for problems on an ecommerce store that the provider is not to blame for. Without a proper audit of your existing site, you could be throwing good money after bad.
It may well be that you are correct, but it doesn’t hurt to check.
There are tell-tale signs which indicate the need for a new ecommerce platform.
A survey of your site will determine if the speed is an issue. Logging in and checking out speeds give an indication something is wrong.
A site slows to a crawl or freezes at particular times- perhaps when it’s busy with order processing, or there are lots of viewers on at one time.
The site has difficulty integrating reports and working efficiently with multiple platforms.
Constant software bugs abound that aren’t related to how you use the site, and support is slow.
How We Differ
Regardless of whether you need (or want) a completely new ecommerce website, our strategies remain the same.
Every well-designed website is treated uniquely, as is every client and circumstance.
In our web design agency and marketing agency role, our policy is a little different from other web builders.
We don’t see ourselves as a product supplier- more an information revealed.
Once we’ve completed our assignment, we aim to leave an online business with the confidence to carry on without us.
How our Difference Transpires
The first study we make is of the analytics for an ecommerce business- what’s working and what is not.
Next, we establish the complexity of any issues we find and learn of the size of the client’s workforce to assess how efficiently changes may be carried out.
We encourage our clients to develop the internal skills of their employees.
It is vital to establish early on if the staff available understand any new planning strategies put in place.
Without the right personnel implementing and controlling the processes, any method is likely to fail.
Once the skillsets of a client’s team are known, the strategic priorities are given an order of importance.
It’s at this point an agreement is made between the client and Salesbloom as to what can be achieved within a given budget.
Part of this agreement involves the degree of input the client and their staff will have or what will be passed to us for our responsibility to complete.
Having such an agreement in place early on keeps prices down and clarifies both parties’ obligations.
Though we do offer a complete management service, in our experience, the majority of our clients prefer to understand and then take over the tasks themselves.
To speak to someone that hates the oversell as much as you do, talk to us or meet the team at Salesbloom- for web design in Cardiff, or anywhere in the world.
Being a marketing agency designing, developing a business we understand money is not always the answer.
Keep an Open Mind About Your Web Design
We have to put something across that some businesses have difficulty buying into;
What a company thinks about their site is not as crucial as the user experience gained from it.
Having the wisdom to step back from micromanaging a website build is not easy when paying someone else to build it.
Personal preferences get in the way.
We have preferences too, and if a client is adamant that their site should look a certain way we have to be philosophical and go along with it.
Best practices for website designs often seem counterintuitive.
We get frustrated at how much ‘better’ an ecommerce page could perform if given free rein to create it how we want to.
At the same time, we bow to public opinion as it’s that which ultimately counts.
Our web designs are data-driven.
From the colours of pages and font styles to the content and search engine optimisation, we attempt to adhere to tried and tested formulas.
Minimising personal preferences invariably prove more profitable in the long term.
We still recognise it is your business and your final decision, but not giving you our advice would be remiss of us.
Strategic Planning Takes Time- but It’s Worth It
We invariably see products that should sell well but not being promoted correctly.
For an excellent foundation for any ecommerce web design, thorough and meaningful insight into the client’s core brand is essential- you’ll read this sort of thing on any web designing agency site.
While we agree that what you feel sets your company apart from competition has merit- it’s not the most crucial consideration.
Let’s put it this way;
Would you prefer that a web design agency knows everything about your company’s fundamental values, or do you want a site that resonates with your customers’ values?
Of course, you want both, but ask yourself, ‘which is more vital to sales?’
If the answer is ‘your company values’, excuse us, but you don’t see the bigger picture.
We base our design methods on digital marketing as opposed to just creating an online ecommerce store.
Digital marketing takes into account what the client’s selling, how to attract customers, and how to keep them coming back.
The foundation we base our web designs upon is not about you, it’s about your customer.
How We Carry out Customer Research
If time and budget allow within an ecommerce website build, an organised survey based on industry-specific questionnaires and inviting feedback is the best option.
These types of surveys can be in the form of one-on-one interviews, telephone or mail.
It’s not all plain sailing, as phone and mail surveys are proving more challenging to perform.
Recent law changes and the public’s constant exposure to telemarketing campaigns have left a bitter taste for most people.
The downside too of one-on-one surveys is that they are costly to carry out.
The easier surveys to arrange are online, though they seldom prove to be very reliable.
It’s not possible to control who completes online surveys unless by invitation only, but invites drastically reduce the numbers which in turn polarises opinion.
As part of our client research, we use ecommerce software designed to seek out the demographics of customers for different industries.
We’ve read other agencies decrying their use as if it’s cheating!
(Presumably, they would still want to fit a wall shelf with a hand screwdriver as opposed to a drill?)
All we know is we use the best ecommerce tools available for the most efficient research.
One method we find useful (and less expensive) is when possible to offer free samples of the products that you are attempting to market. Recipients generally feel obliged to give their opinion on a product if they are free!
Another strategy is to use feedback obtained via social media comments relating to the similar products of your competitors. These comments are typically honest and a good gauge of opinion.
Analyse Competitors – They’ll Be Analysing You!
One of the services we provide is to scrutinise your competition.
Doing so may go against the grain for some of our clients and that’s understandable, but your competitors will be doing the same.
You may feel that your products are unique, but unless they’re a new invention, you’d be wrong!
Someone somewhere is selling a product like yours.
We look at the top companies concerning revenue and sales and examine the niche areas on which they are managing to capitalise.
The competitor’s tone of voice regarding how they sell products is explored, and an overall picture begins to form.
How the companies sell (their value proposition) is scrutinised in detail.
Insights are gained from the competitor’s rates of replies and responses on social media.
Social media in marketing terms play a significant role in gauging how well a business is being received online.
Appropriately used, determining what works on other sites saves time and money, and frees a competitor to improve upon areas they feel aren’t working as effectively.
Analysing rival sites is all about extracting that competitive edge.
Heuristics -What Does it Mean to You?
The Oxford English Dictionary describes heuristics as, “Proceeding to a solution by trial and error or by rules that are only loosely defined”.
We’ll go with that as every project is different: Studying an ecommerce site that is already live has to be a fluid process.
Heuristics can determine issues such as;
- The site takes more than three seconds to load fully.
- The fonts being unreadable, unsuitable or mixed.
- Background colours clashing with text.
- Flash being overused.
- ‘Error 404’ notifications.
- The Company’s Logo is missing.
- The headers or taglines are ambiguous.
- The landing page is confusing.
- There’s inadequate or no information regarding the company.
- The contact details are wrong or missing.
- Vital information is lost at the ‘fold’ of the page.
- Bold type is overused making reading a chore.
- The CTA is obtrusive.
- Navigating to new pages is difficult.
- The site search bar is inadequate or missing.
- Interlinking is not used.
- The copy is unclear, or spelling and grammar are poor.
- URLs are unclear.
- HTML is not written to best practice code.
A heuristic analysis of a site in its simplest form acts as a web design template or checklist and helps to keep a format to the procedure.
It’s likely that obvious issues will be determined through heuristic checks.
More profound and meaningful changes require experience and expertise in the field of website design.
Is Persona Development All It’s Cracked up to Be?
The concept of Persona development gets bad press, and some say, quite rightly
The lack of the ability to scientifically study this subject in depth makes for much supposition.
It seems to be the best method we have.
So marketing agencies soldier on, rewriting passages that may always have been inaccurate.
We could be at a point where misinformation is saturating our thought processes and research, making it harder to sell successfully.
Though we at Salesbloom are aware of persona development and ‘how critical’ and ‘vital’ it is, we prefer a different approach to our foundation of website design.
The Content Marketing Institute has an older study carried out by ‘marketing professors’ (wow- great handle!) in the 60s who determined that buyers don’t buy products, they buy solutions.
The more we thought about it, the more convinced we were.
For us, it was only after buying into that belief that persona development becomes worthwhile.
The crux of our digital strategy is more about creating solutions to buyer’s problems or needs than empathising with a specific niche audience.
Plotting Your Customer’s Journey
It’s amazing how many online websites, whether ecommerce or otherwise, are so hard to navigate: It begs the question, “ Did the web design agency test the site?”.
Smashing Magazine has some excellent examples of where form fails over function.
When an ecommerce site is created, there needs to be a logical progression from inception to completion.
Many leading website design agencies segment sections of a site for specialists to work on: In design terms, this is often called ‘siloing’.
Siloing works well as long as the information from each department involved is cohesively linked later.
When no information is passed to the different sectors working on the site, the problems surface.
Due to time constraints and expense, sadly, all too often the site is presented to the client who unwittingly accepts the site ‘as is’.
We say, handing over disjointed and untested websites is unacceptable.
We recognise that customers arrive at a site from many routes and each one, in turn, needs testing against a customer journey map.
Testing is carried out on how customers navigate the site and interact.
Each point of contact has to be examined to ensure a customer reaches their intended goal.
If there are issues or discrepancies within the customer journey, these are ironed out whether before, or after the handover to the client.
If you already have an ecommerce website built, the checks and tests we make are the same as if we made it ourselves.
Also, we would;
- Study your payment processor system for credit card payments and how the site accepts payments.
- Test the shopping cart for functionality, product management and abandonment issues.
- Ensure the site is mobile-friendly.
- Qualify the choice of web host. This could be via reviews, provider expertise, backup facilities, and flexibility of support for changes made within a hosted ecommerce site.
Site Structuring- the Anatomy for Success
A site is sure to lose visitors when pressing too early for contact details, has irrelevant information on a title page or a poor site search platform.
Many areas can dissuade visitors from staying, but the single most pressing concern is disorganised website page hierarchy.
Without a site structure, there’s still a customer journey- though likely a meandering and a short one!
A logical structure of a site is compared to a pyramid, filing cabinet, house, or family tree.
Whatever analogy you prefer, as long as it’s understood categories and subcategories stem from the landing page or homepage, you won’t go far wrong.
An ecommerce site can be somewhat complicated as there are so many categories (think ‘Amazon’ for example), so paring down the subcategories is advised so as not to lose the customer.
Correctly structured sites perform better within Google’s algorithms and therefore rank more highly than those where algorithms struggle to determine a site’s relevancy.
Salesbloom works with the client to predetermine the hierarchy of sections to create a fluidity within the categories and subcategories of their site.
Content- The Mainstay of any Site
This is a time when persona development appears to have a particular value.
Written content is developed to suit a tone of voice based on a target audience.
Skilled copywriters include key phrases as if in natural conversation to ensure search engine algorithms do not penalise ranking.
Where practical and possible, images and media supporting the products will be required from the client to ensure originality of copy.
Hyperlinks assist easier navigation, and these are included when the subject calls for it.
In general, we operate a customer ‘pain point’ technique of writing, but there are no set rules and our formulas are fluid and flexible.
Social Content Strategy
Self promotion through social media presence is almost as vital as the concept of selling online.
Companies can reasonably appraise their brand perception and brand awareness through social media circles and act upon the comments positively and quickly.
Targetting specific audience demographics will assist in evaluating how effective marketing campaigns are. These in turn, are used as a measure against competitor sales.
With Facebook and Twitter allowing direct sales, the social media platforms seem to have realised their huge potential.
When website building, our company sets overall goals to calculate the effectiveness of business growth and company performance.
Get Familiar with Our Services
We do it all! We can make your ppc campaign or rebuild your house