• 2013

Yearly Archives: 2013

Analytics for your website

So what exactly is analytics and why should you want it? Analytics is a very broad term, but basically it refers to a system or dashboard for measuring and tracking what is happening on your website. Knowing what is happening on your website is the only way to be able to improve your website. When using analytics the depth you can analyse data to is unbelievable, however you would not need to do this from the beginning. Initially, just start with the basics. That is, how many people visited your website, how did they find you, what did they look at while they were on your website, and how long were they on your site for before they left. These metrics are next to useless in isolation, however over time you can see how they change and grow (or remain stagnant) and this is where you can see where work is required.
Is the number of visitors growing or not? You need to find a way to increase this
How did they find you? Are they coming from the same place, from another website, what are they typing in to Google to find you? Overtime are they finding you by typing in more different words or less?
How long were they are your website? Is time on your site decreasing or increasing? Are they visiting more pages or less with each visit. Are most of your visitors returning to your site, or are they brand new?

There are quite a few different analytics options to choose from, however the best (in my opinion) one, also happens to be completely free, and is Google Analytics. All you need in order to use it is a free gmail account/address, and so create one to use for this. Something like mycompanyname@gmail.com.
Once you have logged into your analytics account, simply follow the instructions, and the system will create a piece of code for you. You can then take this code and place it on every page pf your website and you are good to go. Give it a few days to start tracking stats and then log in to see what you have.

Why we love WordPress

OK, so we have spoken about WordPress a few times and actually recommended it as the CMS (content management system) you should use when having a new website developed. What is it that makes us simply love WordPress and why do we continue to use it for any websites we get developed?
Very simply, it’s because of it’s ease of use and how customisable it is. As mentioned WordPress ia a content management system. What this means is that you no longer need to be able to read and write code in order to add pages to your website. You would simply log in and using an editor that looks quite similar to MS Word, you would enter the content you would like to appear on your website. You would then click publish and the page would be live. It really is that simple. Being the world’s most popular CMS system also means that there are plenty of options when it comes to plugins. A plugin is basically a little folder you upload to your WordPress website that fulfills a very specific function. For example, if you wanted a calendar on your website, instead of building one, just get a plugin for it. Or if you wanted to allow people to rate and review your products, just get the wordpress plugin that does that. Some plugins will be free, and other you would need to pay for. A full list of registered WordPress plugins can be found here.

The other great thing about WordPress is that, if you choose not to use a developer/designer as you want to save some money, you can use one of the hundreds of thousands of free themes available for WordPress. Here is a link to the WordPress themes on the WordPress website, however you can find many more simply by going to Google and searching for “WordPress themes”.

Basically in our experience, WordPress has been the easiest, most cost effective, and most adaptable way to get a website up and running.

Choosing a hosting provider for your website

This is typically not something you would have to worry about, as the person developing your website will either be a hosting reseller (discussed a little later), or be able to refer you and set you up on a good hosting service. However it is something that is very important and you need to be aware of. The hosting company will basically be in charge of ensuring your website is up and working at all times and accessible on the internet. So if they don’t do their job right, no one will be able to see and use your website (so you can see how important they are). A very good host will agree to a certain SLA (service level agreement), which will basically just detail what they commit to offering you. The most important aspect of this SLA is the downtime they commit to, as you will want this to be as low as possible.

The other important aspect of the host is that they protect your website and prevent people hacking it and destroying it. These malicious parties look for vulnerabilities in a hosting providers server to exploit in order to gain access to your website and make changes to it. Not all hacking can be prevented, however if your website does get hacked, you need to ensure the hosting company makes daily backups, so that your website can be restored back to its original ASAP.

In South Africa there are quite a few hosting providers, and so you have plenty of choices. Quite a few of them will actually be resellers, which means that they are just reselling another hosting providers services. There is nothing wrong with working through a reseller, just ensure you know who the person to contact is, if something goes wrong.

The price you can expect to pay will vary widely depending on a range of factors, such as: the actual hosting provider, the size of your website, the amount of visitors your website receives, how many database your website has, how many email addresses you would like on that domain etc. However for a small website, with a small number of visitors you should expect to pay around R99, and then this would go up depending on how those various factors change, all the way to a few hundred per month.

Choosing a domain name

There are many factors to consider when choosing a domain name for your new website. Most people would choose to go with their company name, or if they can not get it, some substitute of it. For example, if your company was Green Bottles and www.greenbottles.co.za was already taken, then you could look at www.green-bottles.co.za; or www.greenbottlesco.co.za; or www.sagreenbottles.co.za. The other alternative is to go for a domain name that describes what you do, so if you are a company that prints business cards, you could go for www.businesscards.co.za; or www.weprintbusinesscards.co.za; or www.businesscardprinters.co.za etc. The options really are endless, as long as the domain name has not already been registered by someone else.
No, should you go for a co.za or a .com? For me this is a very simply answer. If your company is based in SA, serving SA customers, then always go for the co.za. However, if a large (more important) part of your customer base is situated outside of South Africa, then yo should go for the .com.

If the domain you want is currently taken by someone else, and you really want it, then there is nothing stopping you from contacting them directly and seeing if they will accept an offer on it. Purchasing a domain name from someone is just like purchasing anything else, in that the price is based on what you are prepared to pay and what they are prepared to accept..nothing more.

Overall summary of getting a website developed

OK, so you’ve given some thought to the goals of your website, and you are now ready to get started. In this article I summarise the basics you need to be aware of when it comes to getting a website built, live and working. This is just a fairly broad overview, but I do break down each aspect further in later articles.

1. Goals for the website
2. Domain name (website name)
3. Design (look& feel) of the website
4. Development of the website
5. Hosting of the website
6. Analytics and measuring
7. Online marketing of your website

1. Goals of your website. This was discussed in greater detail here

2. Domain name
The domain name is the name of your website. This would be seen like this, www.domain.co.za, or www.yourwebsitename.co.za. This is important as it will be how everyone finds you and what they type in to find your website. Choosing a name is difficult, as there are so many options. You can go with your actual company name, you can choose to go with words that describe what you do (such as www.wesellcheese.co.za), or you can go with something completely different. It all basically depends on your imagination, and of course, what is still available, as someone may have already registered the name you want. You can see if the name you want is available by going here, and typing in the name you would like. This is also the place where you can register your domain name (or the person building the site for you can), and South African domain names typically cost around R75 per year. If you would like a .com domain name, these typically cost around $10 per year. For a more detailed article click here: choosing a domain name

3. The design (look & feel) of your website
This is the fun part. Even though you will most likely be getting a website designer to make your website for you, it is very useful (to you and to them) if you are able to provide them with some ideas you have on the design. This ensures that they have a direction to go in, and that your expectations are met. The easiest way to do this is to simply look around and take note of a few websites that you like the look of. Then combine this will some ideas you may have regarding design elements and colours and send this to your designer to get started. They should be able to create a mock-up for you from this, which you can further refine until you are happy with.

4. Development of the website
Development of the website here refers specifically to what system or code the website developer is going to use to make your website. There are many options for this, however we have always favoured having our website developed in WordPress. WordPress is the most popular CMS (content management system) in the world. A content management system is simply a system that enables websites to be built quicker than normal, and also allows the user (in this case you), so update and make content changes to the website easily. This means that if you want to add new articles to the website, or change some existing information on the website, you could simply do this yourself, instead of needing to hire (and pay) the developer to do it for you. It doesn’t really matter what the developer uses to develop the website, as long as at the end of the day you get a website you are happy with, and that you are able to use as you envisioned, however our recommendation would be to request the developer uses WordPress.

5. Hosting of the website
Hosting is basically a place where you can upload all of your files and folders (which make up the images and content) of your website, so that people can view them. It is simply the place where your website is “stored” so that it can be seen. Hosting various depending on who does it for you, how big your website is, and how many people visit it. For a small website with low visitor numbers you should expect to pay around R99 per month. Read more about hosting in South Africa

6. Analytics and measuring
This is an important aspect of any website. By installing some form of analytics you will be able to see a range of attributes and data. These include the number of people visiting your website; how long they stay for; what pages they look at; how they find you etc. Knowing these metrics will let you know how popular your website is and whether more people are using it as time goes by. There are quite a few analytics options, but one of the best, also happens to be completely free. It is called Google Analytics, and to use it all you need is a free gmail account. Read more about Analytics

7. Online marketing of your website
This is a more advanced stage of your website and one you would only start looking at once the website is completed, live and you are measuring the visitors to it. It basically refers to increasing the number of targeted visitors to your website, and increasing the amount they purchase from you. There are a number of online channels used for online marketing, and these include SEO (search engine optimisation), PPC (pay per click), social media, email marketing, affiliate marketing, conversion rate optimisation, content marketing etc. These will all be discussed in later steps to ensure you understand them and know which ones you should focus on and use for your website.

I hope that this article has given you a good overall picture of what is required when you are considering getting a website developed.

What is the goal of your website

So you’ve decided that the time has come to get a website of your own and get your company online. That is excellent news. However, before we jump into getting your website developed and designed, you need to ask yourself the most important question, “What are the goals of your website?”. That is, what do you hope to achieve by having a website?
This question is imperative as it will define the type of website you have, the budget and resources you can assign to it, and whether it was worth it.

Will your website server just to provide some contact details (email address and phone numbers) and a map of your location. Will it let people find out more about your company and it’s history? Will it provide details of the products or services you sell? Will people actually be able to order and pay for these products/services on the website?
These are all very important questions you need to take some time to consider. Knowing what the goals are for your website will enable you to get a more accurate idea on how much you should be spending on it and what you should expect from the website.
Typically my advice is, even if ultimately you would like people to buy from your website, start small. Get a simply website up that displays the products/services you offer and enable people to contact you about these items. Then once you’ve seen that enough people are interested in purchasing from you online, you can go ahead and get an ecommerce website built (with merchant accounts etc).

I hope this has helped. Don’t take it too seriously and spend hours trying to analyse every aspect, Merely sit down and right down your reasons for wanting a website and what you would hope to achieve from having one.