Almost Perfect Websites


I do a lot of web surfing and if something catches my eye at a show, in a brochure at the fish & chip shop, in a magazine or newspaper, or something mentioned on TV or in conversation, I'll note down the business/product/service in a notebook or on my phone and look it up later, as most of us nowadays do.

What I struggle with, both as a designer and a website surfer, is the almost perfect website.


I'm not going to mention any specific examples, even though in many cases I am dying to flick them a quick email to say "your website would be sooo much more user-friendly if you'd just.....". It is simply my hope that some will read this and think - Yes! It would be better if my website did that! Let's make that happen.

A lot of these things are not large and costly changes, just simple adjustments to the layout, or adding programming to adjust the behaviour of a website feature. Often enough a website just needs to be recognised as the important business asset that it is, and gain the attention that it deserves, to update content, add QUALITY images and keep the site interesting and easy to use.


  • CAN YOU add and change your own content on your website?
  • ARE YOU paying your website company to make ALL website changes for you?
  • WOULD YOU like a website in a Content Management System (CMS) that has been created specifically to be Client-Friendly? Allowing you to make your own changes, add pages and update your website at your convenience and at no extra cost?

If the answer is YES - take a look at our own in-house CMS System WEB EDIT PRO. As this is a system we have created, it is different to the publicly available CMS systems used by a lot of website companies today. Web Edit Pro has been created specifically for Client-use, rather than Programmer-use so it is very user friendly as opposed to systems such as Wordpress, Silverstripe and Joomla! A main benefit of our system is that there is less risk of it being hacked, such as what the publicly available systems face. It's a frightening fact that if a system is hacked it effects every website that runs on it, as what happened to OS Commerce in 2011. Do your know what CMS system your website runs on?

The Points of Frustration of Almost Perfect Websites TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR WEBSITE :

  1. CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE - opens the same size image in a pop-up box. Very frustrating. When we click for a larger image, we want to see a larger image. If there isn't one - remove this feature.
  2. IMAGE SCROLLING - often when you click for a larger image you can scroll through the rest of the images at this larger size. Great anti-frustration feature!
  3. LIMITED IMAGES - if you only display x8 images per page, then I have to click 'next', or 'page 2' to see more, it's frustrating. Sites work great when they display all images at once so all that's required is to scroll down. Some sites have a drop-down option to "display x20 images per page" or "display x200 images per page" which is awesome.
  4. NO NAVIGATION ON SOME PAGES - web surfers expect to see the full site navigation on every page, if we can't we can feel 'lost'. You can have the main page buttons on every page, or even simple text links as a header or footer on other pages works great!
  5. ALTERED PAGE NAMES - "home base" or "website HQ" as alternative names for your 'home page' is clever... but we don't want clever on our navigation - we want instantly recognisable and relevant! Keep it simple with standard page names.
  6. NAVIGATION THAT MOVES - it's a small detail but navigation that is in a different place on each page is frustrating. For example viewing a gallery of images but having to shift the mouse slightly to click the next button on each image makes me grind my teeth. It's not hard to ensure that when you are viewing images in a box, that the box and 'next' arrows stay in the same place for each image, even if the image dimensions change slightly.
  7. CONTACT PAGE MISSING INFORMATION - we've spent time finding your website only to find that the standard information we want is not there. Frustrating? Heck yeah. Contact pages should ideally contain the following ;
    • Phone number + cellphone if available
    • Email address
    • Physical address + map
    • A photo of your premises - goes a long way to making visitors feel confident they can find you.
    • Opening hours / hours of availability
    • A Contact Form
    • Link to signup to your newsletter. Click for info on our ActiveMail Newsletter System.
  8. A LINK OR NOT A LINK, THAT IS THE QUESTION - Links need to be obvious. Use a button graphic or box frame, underlining links also helps. Additionally any text links in your content (very helpful to have) should be a different colour and perhaps be underlined. Use a well-known method of making a link look and behave like a link. It's doesn't need to be pretty, but it does need to be pretty obvious.
  9. PHOTOS PHOTOS PHOTOS - I look through lots of galleries and see images that aren't worthy of what I know to be the exceptional quality of what is actually produced! Or not enough images! Never underestimate the importance of photos on your website as surfers are far more likely to judge your website on the power of your images alone, simply because it's the fastest way to view what you represent, and the internet is all about making information easier and faster to access!
  10. WRITTEN CONTENT - A lot of sites I come across don't offer content that does the business justice, and that's nobody's fault - after all we can't all be professional writers. Read through your content to ensure it's relevant and update regularly if possible. We offer a Content Writing Service if you need to enhance your business information with keyword-rich content from our experience content writing expert... me! What I do is basically do a casual interview-type discussion either over the phone or in person, to gain content for the specific pages / topics you wish to feature. It's a hassle-free way to get effective website content to advertise you to both web surfers and internet search engines alike.
  11. HAVING AN "ABOUT US" PAGE - A surprising number of websites don't write about themselves! They're missing out! An 'about us' page is a great way of showcasing your business legitimacy - showing how much experience you have in your industry, perhaps mentioning staff if you don't have a 'team page', and telling the story of how you got to be where you are now.

 So to sum up, here's some brief key points of how to lessen frustration for website visitors like me ;

  • If a feature doesn't do what it's supposed to - remove it.
  • The less clicks the better. No matter what information a viewer may want to see on your site, make the amount of clicks that they have to click to get there be a maximum of 3. The more clicks, the more likely your viewer will get frustrated and leave your website.
  • Keep the template and navigation standard and the design innovative and original, not the other way around.
  • Lock the navigation into the same place on all your website pages.

As always, feel free to CONTACT US for any more information or to discuss how we can enhance your website.

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Posted in Website Design

Decontamination Medix

New website design for

Decontamination medix website designIt was wonderful to meet Jason Pickering from Decontamination Medix in person, and discover his passion for the health of New Zealanders, relating to quite valid concerns about the health of NZ homes.

We were glad to have had the opportunity to create this website, as well as offer our content writing services for the site, increasing awareness about maintaining healthy homes in our unique New Zealand environment.

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Posted in Graphic Design

Browser Caching - something you should know about.


Most websites you visit will be saved in the ‘cache’, so that the next time you visit that site, your browser shows you the saved version of that website from your last visit. A very clever way of storing things for later use - BUT it means you don’t always see the current version of the website you are viewing!

internet browser caching importance Wikipedia offers this extended explanation;

"In computer science, a cache is a component that transparently stores data so that future requests for that data can be served faster. The data that is stored within a cache might be values that have been computed earlier or duplicates of original values that are stored elsewhere.

If requested data is contained in the cache (cache hit), this request can be served by simply reading the cache, which is comparatively faster. Otherwise (cache miss), the data has to be recomputed or fetched from its original storage location, which is comparatively slower. Hence, the greater the number of requests that can be served from the cache, the faster the overall system performance becomes."


A lot of our clients use our WEP EDIT PRO Content Management System (CMS), which is a system we have developed at Activate Design as an alternative to the many CMS systems publicly available today - specifically created to be user-friendly, as so many of the currently available systems are not. (Most CMS systems are programmer-friendly, not user-friendly.)

Caching is important to know for when you're making changes to your website in the Admin Panel of your site, then viewing your website - and your changes don't show up! This is likely to be because you are viewing the Cache version of your website. This is something that can cause endless frustration unless you know what is happening.

internet browser why does it cache Why do things get Cached?

1. Caching saves time - a site can be loaded very quickly from the cache, rather than from it's source. Very handy if you are looking at the same websites regularly.

2. Caching reduces bandwidth and traffic - reducing congestion on Internet sources by showing viewers the cached version of a site they have previously visited.

Where is the Cache stored?

There are many ways in which a Cache is implemented, and it can depend on the settings of many of your browsing tools, from server to your browser itself. The Cache could be implemented by one of the following;

  • Caching in memory
  • Caching in files
  • Caching in the database
  • Caching in cookies


website browser clear cache

To view the current version of a webpage you are visiting do a 'Force Refresh' or 'Hard Refresh' in your browser.

This will tell the browser to pull up the latest version of that website, direct from it's source, rather than just show you it's cache version.

How do I do a hard refresh?

PC : hold down 'shift' and 'F5'.

Mac : hold down 'control' and 'apple' and click refresh.

I hope this has been an interesting and informative look at Caching, both for those who use our WEB EDIT PRO Content Management System, and for anyone learning more about browsing the internet.

Take a look at our Portfolio Page to see Activate Design's most recent website creations, and Contact Us if you would like to find out more about how we can create an effective new website for you!

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Posted in Graphic Design

Stella Enterprises

Recent website design for








Incorporating the four main specialist areas of their business into one easy-to-navigate website. Stella offers pump hire, fuel services, traffic management services and a range of hire equipment.

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Posted in Website Design

An effective website is a regularly maintained website.

You have a website - fantastic!  But don't walk away just yet!

For a website to be effective you need to keep it up to date, keep it interesting and keep it relevant.

You can do this by utilsing these marketing techniques ;

  • Having a Blog linked to your website and adding regular updates.
  • Having a Facebook page to add interesting events, products or customer feedback.
  • Having a YouTube account and linking your uploaded videos to Facebook & Blogs.
  • Having a Twitter feed to keep tweeters updated on your posts.

imagesYour website is your most effective marketing tool. It's your backstop, it's your billboard, it's your flashing neon sign working 24 hours to ensure that your info is available - even when you're not.

If you don't currently have one of the suggested marketing techniques running through your website, contact us to have a Blog page added, and a link to your Facebook page or Twitter feed to get your business profile, products and services out there for added brand recognition.

Having a Facebook page is still an effective method of free marketing, but remember that as a free resource, you will have very little control over it. This system has been evolving towards being a user-pays resource with increased limitations as changes are implemented without warning, and posts are no longer visible to all unless paid for.

Having your own website is still the #1 best online tool you could have, and using free media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to direct them back to your website is the way to go. Better yet is to have a newsletter system - such as our ActiveMail customised newsletter system - so you can transfer the interest from other marketing methods into a subscriber list that you can send relevant news and information too, at your own convenience.

It is often a surprise to me when companies come to me for updates for websites that they have not themselves visited in quite some time. I would recommend as a minimum, to be checking and updating your website every fortnight. Keep in mind that if you have something such as a regular blog or "recent news" feed on your site, this gives people a reason to keep coming back to your site to see what's new - especially if they can see that your posts or updates are fairly regular.

If you simply don't have the time to do updates to your site, contact us to utilise our Website Copywriting service, where we can write some keyword-rich, relevant content for both your customers to view, and for search engines to recognise that your site is being maintained, so they will keep coming back to index your site, resulting in increased rankings.

To get a major boost in site rankings - contact us about our Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Service.

It's hard to keep up your enthusiasm but if you put the same passion into your website as your do into your business, that will reflect in your website content and your website will start working for you - bringing in contacts and queries and more work. The more you get into the habit of making small updates and adding images, the easier it will be, and if the content is interesting enough then your customers may refer other people to your site to see what you do, resulting in increased brand exposure! Remember to add testimonials and images, which are great for most of those web surfers who will just be quickly skimming your site.

Contact Us at Activate if you would like any updates or changes made to your site, or any features added that will make it easier for you to manage your content.

Keep up the maintenance!





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Posted in Branding

Koru Clinic

New website design & creation for

Christchurch clinic offering facial peels and body treatments among many other therapeutic beauty treatments done by medical staff and trained professionals.

Koru pic








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Posted in Website Design

QR codes : what, why and how

QR Codes are not a new technology, but they are frequently proving their worth as a quick-link to direct a person to a specific website page, promotion or event. The technology is now being included in later models of smartphones and is easily downloadable for most other phones.


QR Codes are becoming a far more utilised tool for marketing, especially with our generation Y's (born 1977-1994) who are technology-wise, expect instantaneous results, and are immune to most traditional marketing as they have been exposed to it since early childhood. Marketing to Generation Y needs to be fast and effective and actually offer a good benefit worthy of their time. This is what makes QR Codes, when used correctly, a subtle advantage.

QR Codes can be included with all other marketing, printed on posters and business cards, and even included on car signage, building exteriors and all printed media. A British film company recently marketed a new movie using a billboard with only the QR Code printed on it, generating curiosity of passers-by and directing a wide audience to their website.


QR Codes are best described as a two-dimensional barcode which, when scanned by smartphone application, open up a specific webpage. Although this is a great use of directing people to your website, the most effective use of QR Codes are in targeted marketing campaigns, giving the viewer a real incentive to use them.

For example if you were printing posters to a music event, and the incentive was to "scan the QR Code to get discount tickets", then the QR code would direct the user to a webpage that is only accessible through the code.

Another example would be : "scan the QR Code to receive today's special discount" where the user can save a mobile-voucher for later use. This is the kind of instant-gratification marketing that is proving effective to a growing technology-savvy market, appealing to smartphone users through providing a simple yet effective way of accessing a company, product, service, discount or promotion.

QRcodeScanningTo stay on the crest of this fast-moving technology, Contact Us today to have a unique QR Code included in your promoting and marketing, signage and printing.

Click here for more information on our Branding and Marketing expertise.

Click here for more information on our Website design & development skills.

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Posted in Branding

Around NZ Rentals

New website design and development for

Newly launched website utilising a unique booking system and features that allow you to easily see the vehicles' suitability to your needs and book at your convenience.

around nz






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Posted in Graphic Design

Effective Website Design

Here is some general information on what makes a website effective. This may be especially helpful for those of you who are using our unique WEP-Com Content Management System, enabling you to create your own pages, galleries, links and more.

So we know that there are infinite options available in how to layout a website, but to have an effective website that users will actually want to spend time viewing, here are a few tips to keep in mind ;



Many studies have been conducted on how people use the internet, how they view website pages, and what they choose to click on. Consistent results show that clear navigation makes the difference between an average website and a really good website.

Although you could have a snazzy website that looks like a spinning planet spitting out rocket-shaped pages of information - it would not be effective in that yes, people want to see something new, but in a familiar environment. If it's too strange, if there's no clear navigation to see what page you're currently on, where the links to the other pages are, and indeed what website you're even at - people will click on your website and then 'bounce' right back out again. Your websites' 'bounce rate' then becomes very high, negatively impacting on your website ratings.


Keep in mind what you are offering so that amongst all the information you are providing about your business, your staff, images, products, services and contact details, ensure there is a very clear and simple path for your customers to take in as few a steps (or clicks) as possible. Understanding why your clients choose to visit your site will help you cater your website to their needs. If they get in touch, always ask for feedback on how your site worked (or did not work) for them.


Some of us like to get a bit fancy, so instead of "home page" we have "home base", or possibly "home portal" or "starbase one" - cool, but in the fast-paced world of website-hopping, it should only take a fraction of a second to recognise a website's page name for what it is. Pausing on a webpage trying to work out what page "home base" is supposed to be, is simply frustrating, and if a whole website is like that then very few viewers would take the time to actually browse your website. Are you using standard terms for your navigation? Can you simplify your terms for easier recognition?



Clear navigation is one thing, but what happens when you navigate away from the main page? Do you get lost in the website pages, not knowing how many pages there are or where it ends - or do you have the reassurance of the same navigation bar, or simple listed text links of all the pages, located in the same place on every page - giving you the peace of mind of knowing where you are at all times. Having the page you're currently on highlighted in addition to fixed navigation on all pages will make navigating through your website much easier.


Websites must cater to the fact that most of us are 'skimmers' rather than 'readers' when it comes to browsing websites and we expect instantaneous results, whether that be clearly knowing what is where on a website, to being able to access pages in one-to-two clicks only. A site can be too clever, to it's detriment.

Example : I can across a site recently that was selling clothing, I was looking for a nice t-shirt for a friend but first I had to click on 'clothing' then choose 'mens' or 'womens', then click on 't-shirts', then select one of the many 'brand options' to get to view the range of t-shirts available in that brand only. When I did not find what I wanted I only had an option to go back to the home page and start again, or use my browsers 'back' button to choose another brand, view the t-shirts, go back, choose the next brand, etc.


Yes, it was clever, and it was organised, but it was too time consuming and I left feeling frustrated. What would have worked better would be to simplify the site into a two-click or three-click process, ie. clothing / t-shirts / and a gallery showing the full range, with some some sub-text under each product showing the brand, rather that clicking through to the brand first, thus reducing the number of clicks to access the product/information.

Is there a way you can simplify your current website? How many clicks does it take to get to the product/service you are offering? Can you navigate from anywhere in your site to exactly where you wish to go?

Contact us for any upgrades to your website design and layout, and View Our Portfolio for recent examples of the many successful websites our team has designed & created.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Multi-tasking when it comes to choosing a business, product or service.

In a recently released Google report it was found that 85 percent of New Zealanders regularly multi-task with their purchasing. This means that while we are watching advertising on television, reading a magazine article or talking to a friend about a wonderful product or service, we are also instantaneously looking up that business online via laptop, mobile phone or tablet!

We take from this that it is an excellent idea to expand your business marketing into more than one area while ensuring that your 'home base' is your website. Your website is the place where customers will always refer back to for contact information, prices, and for further information on any products or services that have caught their attention.

Is your website easy to view on a mobile phone? More and more Kiwis are going online via mobile so see us to create a mobile phone-friendly version of your website today.

Doing a quick online search is also the main way that New Zealander's check that your business is legitimate. For example, when looking for a window cleaning service, New Zealanders will most likely google “window cleaning” and their region, and look for a website that shows clear contact details and positive testimonials to assure themselves that your business is legitimate and experienced, rather than just someone’s hobby or quick-cash scheme.

These visits to your website are also judging the quality of your website, which in turn represents the quality of your business; much like the state of the car your drive is commonly viewed as representing your level of professionalism.

An article that comes to mind is one I read long ago, about a plumber who, as a part of maintaining a professional mind-set and appearance, washes his work van every morning before heading to a job, thus ensuring he is doing his best to show his pride in his work through the high maintenance of his vehicle. A simple but shining example of going the extra mile in self-promotion.


This attention to detail, and to the importance of creating and maintaining a clean, informative, easy to navigate website are the leading factors that we use to create a website which compliments and enhances your company identity, going that extra mile for you and ensuring your website is the go-to place for anyone who hears about you by word-of-mouth, sees an advert for you in a newspaper or magazine, or hears about you by radio or television advertising.

The recent Google report also mentioned that as we now have such a variety of internet-capable devices at our fingertips, we’re looking at other forms of advertising then going online to search for more information, almost instantaneously. We’re not waiting to look up something later, and we don’t take the time to look in a phone book or catalogue, we’re going online to find what we want, right then and there.

If you have a website that isn’t working for you, if people aren’t finding you online, contacting you through your site or purchasing your products/services online, talk to us about how we can help enhance your website and rankings and really make your online presence work for you. See our SEO Page for more information, or simply browse our website for the service that meets your needs. We are always creating new websites and have a great Portfolio of recent work.

Rather than use the variety of publicly available Content Management Systems (CMS), we use our own system that we have developed with the focused intention of creating a system that is client-friendly, as opposed to the hard to use, programmer-tailored systems that are available today. Contact us for a demo on just how easy it is to use our unique WEP Edit Pro Content Management System, so you can make your own updates and changes to your website at your own convenience.

We also offer additional services such as our ActiveMail Email Marketing System, also nice and easy to use. With your own Newsletter template design you can send out beautiful looking newsletters with confidence, and at your convenience.

As always, feel free to Contact Us for any further information and to discuss your needs.

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Posted in Website Design