I.T. Support

- When do you need it?

- Who provides it?

- What is the purpose of having it?

There have been a lot of companies pop up in recent years, specialising in I.T. Support. These companies provide excellent technological support for your home or business needs, and developing a good relationship with a local I.T. support company that are ready to assist you at a moments notice is a great way to start the new year with peace-of-mind in all things technical, especially ensuring that your business can run smoothly, and get any repairs, reconfigurations and support that you may need - fast, and whenever you may need it.

At Activate Design we can design, build and host your website and add and host any email accounts you require. We are not, however, equipped to offer full I.T. support for your company. So though we can ensure everything is running smoothly at our end, that your website and emails are securely hosted on our trusted New Zealand based server and backed up by the support and know-how of our team's ingenuity, we also encourage you to develop a good relationship with an I.T. Support company for the on-going needs of your business technology.

I.T. support companies are expert at offering prompt and focused call-out support people for all those home or business I.T. issues such as the setup and maintenance of email accounts on your personal computer/s, ensuring you are using the latest website browser and updating when necessary, offering support for wireless network setups, computer configuration and related I.T. infrastructure, and ensuring your computer and network/internet settings are secure and protected from outside influence.

At Activate Design we do all we can to ensure the services we provide are seamless and reliable, that we offer clear communication between you and our team of experts, and we encourage you to take those extra steps in ensuring the security and on-going support of your technology needs with an I.T. Support Company near you.

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Posted in Website Design

Best Blogs of 2012

Happy New Year everyone!

On thinking of a new blog topic to write about for 2013, I was scrolling through some of our older blogs and realised what a wealth of free website, design and hosting information we have available to you!

For your interest I have highlighted some of the best and most informative blog topics below. If any of them interest you simply click on the heading to go directly to that post or scroll down through all of our posts to locate them, and read on!

Posts listed in order of most recent to older entries.

  • How Much Should I Be Paying For Website Hosting? - an informative look at important aspects of website hosting and points to consider when looking for a reliable website hosting company.
  • Update Your Browser - offering some very encouraging information as to why keeping your browser updated is of benefit, and links for where to go to get updates.
  • Modern Marketing vs Traditional Marketing - offering both established and new ideas for marketing your business.
  • Is Your Website Climbing With Sales Or Sliding Downhill? - this post offers some great insights into looking at the purpose of having a website, and is a good checklist for you to see if your website is working for you.
  • Christchurch Website Design Process - excellent information detailing the process of website creation, letting you know exactly what to expect, and prompting ideas for focusing your website on your target market.
  • Activemail - Our Simple Email Marketing System - if you've ever wanted to send out regular emails to your clients, our ActiveMail system is one of the easiest to use. How do we know? Well, we use it ourselves of course. Read this post for more information on this excellent, online email marketing system.
  • Website Landing Pages - providing clear information on how 'landing pages' on your website can generate and encourage new traffic to your website. This is just one of the S.E.O. (Seasrch Engine Optimisation) services that we offer.
  • Website And Server Security - good information to know about the hosting of your website and the importance of ensuring your site is hosted on a secure New Zealand based server.
  • Graphic Design For Printing And Website Challenges - this post offers a variety of free design information, especially targeted at those who wish to create some of their own graphics to include on a website or for print, and details the requirements of both media.
  • Website Search Engine Optimisation - interesting introductory information on a variety of SEO services we have available.
  • Get Online: The Problem With Free Websites - this is as great post for anyone tempted by "free" offers, read on to know just what you could be getting yourself into.

We hope the information provided in our posts is both interesting and informative, and we encourage you to contact us if you would like any further information on any of the topics we write about, or for any other queries regarding website creation, graphic design, digital printing and offset printing, or any of our other services like iPhone or iPad apps and SEO services.

We wish you all the best for a successful and productive 2013 !!

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Posted in Branding

How Much Should I Be Paying For Website Hosting?

WHAT IS THE REASONABLE PRICING FOR WEBSITE HOSTING IN NEW ZEALAND?

WHAT IS WEBSITE HOSTING EXACTLY?

 

HOW MUCH SHOULD I BE PAYING FOR WEBSITE HOSTING?

Most people need managed hosting, and we provide it at very affordable rates for managed hosting, often more that 50% cheaper than some of our competitors.

Hosting prices are based on server space and bandwidth.. the smaller and simpler the site the cheaper the package is.

Important aspects of website hosting to consider ;

  • Will my site be hosted on a New Zealand server?
  • Will there be top notch security to prevent website hacking?
  • Will there secure, reliable back-ups in place?
  • Does the hosting company offer on-going website support or once my site is live is that it?
  • Will there be good access of communication between my hosting company and myself?
  • Will the server provide fast performance for a fast loading website?
  • Will the hosting company care about my needs or am I just another partition on a server?

If you’re looking to hosting with an overseas company, you may have to compromise on many of these points above. Overseas hosting may offer a cheaper alternative but you may find that you are just another number, a website space to be crammed onto a server amongst hundreds of other sites, much like chickens kept in battery cages, something we feel strongly against.

Hosting your site on an overseas server will also likely mean slower loading time and slower website speed overall. Something to be aware of is that there are New Zealand hosting companies who host their websites on overseas servers, so if you don’t know where your website will be hosted – ask!

At Activate Design we offer more "free range" hosting, as opposed to your "battery hen" type hosting. We host all of our websites right here in New Zealand with Servers based in Auckland and Christchurch from respected companies who assure ultra-modern facilities with full redundancy in connectivity, power and cooling, as well as a priority to maintaining the highest levels of server security.

We look after you. And that’s an important part of who we are, being accessible and knowledgable to offer website support for all your potential requirements.

We have automated systems that manage your hosting and domain names, allowing you to manage your invoices, domains, and to process payments conveniently, all in our online system. We’re also right here in Christchurch, and at the end of the phone if there’s anything you need assistance with, or send us a support ticket for faster action from out team.

WHAT IS WEBSITE HOSTING EXACTLY?

Here is a brief layout of just exactly what website hosting is, and the basic steps involved in having a website created for your company, before hosting becomes a factor.

A definition of Websites, Website Hosting and Domain names

A Website is your place on the internet. It needs to be run in a program and there are many to choose from. At Activate Design one of our most popular programs is our WEP system. This is a unique website system that we have designed and developed to be user-friendly, specifically so our clients can access and edit their own sites with ease and simplicity, and at their own convenience.

WEBSITE HOSTING is the physical place where you website is located. While your live website is available on the internet it needs be hosted somewhere, on a server. Servers cost money, so the hosting costs money, and that cost is dependent on the size of your website and the type of website you require whether it be a simple CMS website or an eCommerce site where you wish to sell your goods and services online.

A DOMAIN NAME is the address of your site. If you think of your website like a car, then the hosting is the carpark where it is located, and the domain name is the signpost directing people to your parking space. Website Hosting and a Domain name are both part of having a website.

The hosting of your website and the domain name may be more convenient if they are managed by the same company, as we do. We have our uniquely developed ActiveHost system which automatically notifies you when your domain name is coming up for renewal, and also sends out your hosting invoices automatically.

We offer the convenience of being able to log-in to our ActiveHost system so you can view your invoices and domains online, check the availability of new domains and purchase them if you wish, and pay at your convenience.

Next is a brief summary of the steps that are involved in having a website created, just to give you some idea of what need to be done in creating a website, and things to think about before undertaking the process.

Website Steps To Creation;

  1. WEBSITE QUOTE - we talk to you in brief about what kind of site you need, what you need it to do and the audience it will be aimed at. We then propose a site that would suit you. We have developed our own CMS (Content Management System) which is the background system that runs a website, and we have created this to meet the needs of clients who need a user-friendly website that will allow them to make changes to their website themselves with ease and efficiency.
  2. WEBSITE CONSULTATION- this may include time for the consultations on exactly what you need from a website and how it is to look and to function. This may include more than one meeting to discuss your ongoing requirements.
  3. DOMAIN NAME– if you do not already have a domain name that suits you company name and the business you offer, we can assist you to pick one, or two, or more! You need a main domain name to direct users to your site, but you can also have additional domain names that also point to your website as required. For example, you may wish to have; kiwiknifesharpeining.co.nz – as your main domain.But you also may wish to have additional domains, for example; kiwiknife.co.nz / kiwiknives.com / kiwisharpeningservices.net.nz – which can all be signposts to direct website surfers to your website.Additional domain names can be added at any time, but one domain must be registered to you to direct people to your webiste when it goes live.
  4. GRAPHIC DESIGN for your Website – once we have a target and know the style and look that would suit your business, our designers will attack a project with gusto, creating backgrounds and buttons, header bars and the overall style and imagery of your website.
  5. WEBSITE WRITTEN CONTENT– any content for your website can be written by our clever wordsmiths, who will usually meet with you in person and take notes on your business in a comfortable interview-like situation, finding out about you and what you do and writing it in a way that will appeal to your client base while targeting online search engines to ensure optimal web traffic will find you.Copywriting is usually an additional service on request, and not included in the overall cost of building a website unless discussed previously.
  6. PUTTING THE WEBSITE TOGETHER– programmers take all the design and content information and put them together adding functionality and consistency. Our programmers seamlessly make the buttons work, align the navigation, add any additional functionality as requested, and get the website to a finished stage.
  7. WEBSITE GOES LIVE - Once the website has been put together we ask you to review your new website and let us know of any changes you would like before the site goes live.

How much should I pay for website hosting?

We have heard stories of people being grossly overcharged for their website hosting, so we just wanted to ensure we are transparent on the subject of the hosting charges you would expect to pay for having a website online.

In all website hosting companies there will be a variety of hosting packages available, some may say free hosting – but that does not necessarily mean free!

Be wary of companies offering "free hosting" or "free domains", there is no such thing. It could be a matter of that cost being applied to you under a different guise or having a website that is undermined by annoying pop-up advertising that most web surfers will steer well clear of.

It could be that the cost of hosting has been built into the cost of the website build, but this gets a bit fuzzy when you realise that a website build will take a fixed amount of time to complete, but the hosting will continue indefinately... it seems strange to combine the two - and how do you know what you’re really paying for?

Website hosting fees should be separate. There should be a cost for building the site. Then there may be additional costs for content writing if requested, or any functionality above and beyond what was initially discussed and quoted for - which will be clearly laid out and agreed to by you before being undertaken. Then there will be the cost of a domain name which, with us, you are able to register it yourself through our easy to use ActiveHost system.

Registering a domain name means it then belongs to you, and if you wish to keep it you need to register it annually, or for multiple years as convenient. If a domain lapses there may be a small window with which you can re-register it, otherwise it will be available to be registered by anyone else and you will not be able to reclaim it unless by negotiation with the new owner.

If we manage your domain name this will not happen. We will not allow your domain it to expire without you being notified well in advance as we closely monitor all of the domain names in our care, and our automated system means you are notified well in advance of domain expiry. Lastly there is the hosting fees, dependent on your website size and type, and these fees will be ongoing for as long as you wish your website to be live on the internet.

Website hosting should be based on the type of website best suited for your needs.

Basic categories of website available

  • A simple view-only website This is a website for viewing, for providing information and can be edited by us as required.
  • A CMS Website A CMS or Content Management System website, is one that you can edit yourself when and how you see fit. We provide training on the use of our unique wep-site system so you can have control over your own website content.
  • An E-Commerce Website This is a website in which you can edit the site, and can sell your goods and services online. If your site gains more products and grows in size you can easily purchase more space on our server to allow for further website growth.

For a detailed list of our website and hosting packages visit our website hosting page or contact us to discuss your needs.

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Posted in Graphic Design

Update Your Browser!

- Well, Why Should I?

Your browser works fine, internet speed is okay, your emails are readily accessible, credit card transactions process fine and the sites you visit work as expected, so why would you need to update your browser?

Website design and functionality is great to work with, design and build … until we get to the stage of trying to make the website function consistently across a wide range of different browsers!

There are so many new features available to website designers and programmers and we like to utilise all the creative potential for website design that we can, to ensure we are creating modern websites, stylish websites, fast loading websites, creatively unique, appealing and cleverly designed websites.

If you are using an older browser you simply may not be seeing the new effects and features that are available on modern websites. If your old, outdated browser does not understand the code it should be displaying, it will just ignore it and show you what it does understand, it may display as broken pages or links that won't work.

The simple truth is that different browsers work differently. They perform differently in searches, speed and performance and you can choose whichever browser you like best... just keep it updated would you please?

Advantages of updating your website browser regularly;

  • More Security
  • Better Privacy Settings
  • Faster Browsing Speeds
  • Continuous Updates Made Available
  • Browser Extension and Application Add-ons
  • Cross Platform Browsers – to adapt to Mobile and Android devices

What you will miss out on by not updating your browser;

  • Features, Enhancements and Nuances of new website design
  • You are accepting potential security risks and bugs
  • Older browsers become unsupported

We create fantasitic websites, brilliant websites, stylish websites and modern websites all for the enjoyment of you, the web surfer. But we can’t be sure you are getting the whole experience if you are using an out dated web browser version!

So don’t miss out on enhanced website surfing pleasure – updated your browser today, right now! And look to update your browser every six months to a year.

How do I update my website browser version?

WINDOWS USERS:

If you use Window, to update your website browser visit; windows.microsoft.com

If you use Firefox it will normally auto-update, but to ensure you’re using the latest version visit; www.mozilla.org//firefox

If Chrome is your style, this normally auto-updates as well, but to check visit; www.google.com/chrome

MAC USERS:

If you use Safari, visit this link to download the latest website browser version; www.apple.com

Firefox usually auto-updates unless you’ve told it not to. To check if you’re running the latest visit; www.mozilla.org/firefox

Chrome also auto-updates but to check for the latest version visit; www.google.com/chrome

If you’re browser is not listed, visit www.google.com and type in “update my browser” – then enter the name of the browser you use.

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Posted in Graphic Design

Surviving the Facebook conspiracy - the truth behind Facebook

SURVIVING THE FACEBOOK CONSPIRACY

- the truth behind Facebook and the new fees for posting

Facebook has been and will continue to be, a great source of free marketing for businesses. But as some of us have just learned the hard way, Facebook as an alternative to your own website is a mistake.

As you will now be aware, Facebook has just recently added fees to their site, so that for your posts to reach all of your fans you are now required to pay-per-post, otherwise only about 1/4 of your fans are even seeing your posts at all.

Facebook can still be used as a source of free media, but the reality is that the rug can be pulled out from under you again at any time. You have very few rights when using Facebook and no input as to what fees or changes may arise in future. Additionally your posts are not going to reach all your fans unless you pay whatever amount Facebook deems necessary. But why do we think we should have control over something that is by nature, a free resource? Perhaps we have been naive to think that social media would remain free, as no other advertising method has.

This new pay-per-post feature is being called Facebook's "Promoted Posts" feature, and comes at a cost dependent on the amount of recipients you wish to post to.  This same feature is available to individual users who use Facebook as a non-related media source, offering to make your posts available to your whole friend list rather than just the small percentage that now receives your updates. Ironically these new charges come at a time when Facebook's shares have dropped dramatically, and right on the heels of what some might call their "IPO disaster", and subsequently there has been a lot of speculation on the timing and reasons behind these new fees.

Although Facebook have been clear on what these this new pay-per-post feature offers, they have not stated WHY we are now being charged for something that has been a free resource for so long. I believe that in making these changes many loyal Facebook users are now waiting for a Facebook alternative so they can once again enjoy the openness of free Social Media with more stability and less surprises. The lesson we must take away from this experience is that in future there will be NO GUARANTEES that Social Media sites such as Facebook will not flip the coin on their processes, fees, and your rights as a user.

WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT THESE NEW FEES?

Here's what we suggest; if you have spent copious amounts of time arranging your Facebook page to just how you want it, attracting hundreds or thousands of fans - then like so many others you will be feeling the frustration of these new Facebook fees while your posts will only be reaching a very small percentage of your fans.

What we advise is taking advantage of those fans who are already interested in you, and enticing them over to your website. Don't have a website? Then Contact Us today and we will talk you through the process, and get your started on having your own permanent place in the world of online marketing.

Enticing people to your website may require that yes, you need to pay for a post or two on Facebook, to ensure you get the message out to ALL of your fans; that they can now visit your website and be guaranteed to see all of what you have to offer, not to mention that having a website increases the legitimacy of your business, and offers up your website as a permanent port in the storm of online advertising.

• Talk to us about creating a website for you. We are passionate about building websites, mobile website, iPhone or iPad applications and a larger range of online marketing tools to help you promote your products and services. See our Website Portfolio Page for examples of our website design excellence.

• Apply your Facebook Marketing skills and enthusiasm to your website. Take what you have learned about marketing through free Social Media sites, along with your enthusiasm about connecting with your client base, and let us work with you to take advantage of and improve, these marketing methods.

• Offer something to entice your Facebook Fans to your website. You will likely need something more than just "visit my website" to transfer your Facebook fans to your website. Some sort of offer, teaser or sweetener may provide the necessary motivation to encourage them to follow you. A printable voucher or similar special may be just the ticket to pulling all your Facebook fans through to your website, and we can work with you to find just the right Pied Piper to lead your fans directly to you.

• Keep posting via a newsletter. Encourage your fans to 'subscribe' to your newsletter. We have a fabulous newsletter system called "ActiveMail" that is so easy to use you probably won't even believe me till you see it! We create a newsletter template for you, working with you to get the look and layout that suits you, so you can add your own articles and images and send out to your clients as often as you wish.

• Keep posting via a Blog on your website. Keep up your posts hourly, daily, whenever you wish by having your own blog on your site. We will show you how to create keyword-rich text that search engines can pickup on to both generate more traffic and keep the interest of your current fan base.

• Stream your Twitter feed through your site. Again using keywords and moments of interest, fed through your site, to stream your fans back to you. Twitter is enjoying a boom while many of us are Tweeting about all kinds of business events and activities from open days to new product launches, keeping our client base up to date and INVOLVED.

WHY HAVE MY OWN WEBSITE?

• Legitimise your business and run your business properly with your own website. Let's face it, running your business solely through Facebook, TradeMe, or any other such free Social Media site does not generate faith in your legitimacy as a business. People are taking a "risk" on you, and customers are more likely to believe in your value and reliability if you have a website with clear communication on who you are, where you are, and how to contact you in the event that sales do not go smoothly.

• You have more control over the look of your site. You make the decisions on what you want in a website, and we will show you the options available to you, and guide you along the way. Our goal is for you to have a site that you're proud of.

• You are not at the mercy of "fad" Social Media sites. If a site becomes unpopular, stop using it. Generate interest that will direct back to your own website from your own site, or from a different Social Media site. In that way you will remain up-to-date, and will not be at the mercy of sites that have become greedy or unpopular by investing all your time posting on sites people no longer visit.

• You have control of the features you wish to have available to your fans and clients. We have many options available such as creating a Mobile-friendly version of your website, portfolio pages, eCommerce sites for selling your products online, full editable access for you the client, our ActiveMail email system and more!

• Be aware of the costs of creating and hosting your own website. We will layout exactly what's involved in having your own site, with no surprise charges or changes that may leap out at you in future such as what you may experience from Social Media sites turned greedy.

• You can have a website that YOU can edit yourself. Your website will be more editable than Facebook in that you can have access to the whole content and can make changes to the information displayed at any time, or our friendly team can update the site for you at your convenience. Training on editing your site is included in our website packages.

• Facebook is not under your control. Whereas your own website would be, and the Activate Design team is here to offer full support for your ongoing website needs.

• Anything you post to Facebook belongs to Facebook - in that they can use your images for their own marketing, as you gave them permission to do so when you signed up. This is not so when having your own site. Your website will be SECURE and all your files remain your own.

There has been many successful business stories come out of the free marketing that is available on Social Media sites such as Facebook, so we know that online marketing works. What is now frustrating for so many of us, is that the time and effort that you have put into making Social Media work for you, can so easily be taken away by corporate decision making beyond your control.

I like think of it like this, anchor yourself with a website of your own, where content remains in your control and where you can rely on it always being there. Where you can change or edit, refresh or re-brand, add and remove products and alter pricing at your own convenience, and have the peace of mind that the website is YOURS.

Once securely anchored with your own website then by all means, go sailing in the sea of Social Media, utilising Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blog, UTube, and any other sites that take your fancy - knowing as you do so no matter what may change on those sites, the interest you are working to generate will be diverting back to your permanent website. Your website becomes your lighthouse in the storm of constantly changing Social Media.

 

 

 

Visit our Website Portfolio page for examples of our website creativity and production experience.

CONTACT US to discuss having a new website created, updating your existing website, or leading your current Facebook fans over to your website.

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Posted in Branding

Modern Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

Modern Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

Print is not dead. Just to put that statement right there, out in front.

At Activate Design we are web designers and web developers, we make software applications for iPhones and iPads and even iPhone versions of websites and iPad versions of websites. We know the technology because we develop the technology and THROUGH this technology the marketing of your company is accessible, FAST, available on a variety of platforms and EASILY UPDATEABLE!

But is all this technology better than traditional marketing methods?

I think to answer that question we need to look at how our consumers shop for the products and services that they need. But I can tell you this, our graphic designer is kept VERY busy creating flyers, brochures, business cards and banners for local Christchurch business and many other business around New Zealand. Print is very much alive and kicking.

TRADITIONAL MARKETING TECHNIQUES

1. Radio Ads. People still listen to the radio and radio advertising still works.

2. TV Adverts. Most of us still watch some television, so that method of advertising remains relevant.

3. Circulars. Most of us still receive circulars, so print will continue to have this edge on marketing for as long as we can put up it filling up our letterboxes.

4. Flyers. We still like to pick up a flyer when it takes our interest, so printing is ever popular. By this I do not refer to circulars, but the brochures we see available in our salons, our coffee shops, our art shops, video rental stores, even our hardware stores. The printing of flyers will endure because it is less "in your face" than television or radio advertising - which is harder to ignore and therefore MORE ANNOYING. Advertising by the use of flyers retains a customers sense of privacy, allowing them to browse products/services in their own time, and offering them something free that they can take away with them. Also giving you the chance to add your website address, physical address, contact details and other information to further tempt them to you. If a brochure is done right, a customer may pin it to their wall or stick it on a fridge - which is a sure sign that YOUR PRINT MARKETING IS A SUCCESS!

5. Business cards. You don't have a business card? Contact us quick! Business cards are a tool that will forever endure, and whether you believe me or not you should have business cards on you right now! You never know when someone you meet will want to grab your details in a second - after all, handing over a card takes a second of your time, it takes a lot longer to add a note or contact into a cellphone!

MODERN MARKETING TECHNIQUES

1. Websites. For an increasing number of us, the internet is the FIRST place we check to find products, services, contact numbers, business trading hours, maps, and a whole lot more. If it were up to me, websites would be on the top of the marketing methods list. You've just got to have one these days, because if you don't - your competitors sure will, and you've lost customers before you even knew they were looking for you.

2. eCommerce Websites. In addition to just having a website, selling from your website (as in, having an eCommerce website) is just taking the convenience that one step further. Having a personable website is pushing your potential even higher! And what I mean by personable is that you need to let your customers know that there is a person there, behind the scenes - in case anything goes wrong with a sale, and just so they know who they are dealing with. For me, one of the off-putting thing about eCommerce sites is that there are no names or faces for me to associate the business with. It's like doing business with a machine! And what happens if the machine breaks? You need to sell your products online but just as importantly, you need to sell you, your business, and the sense that your business, products and services can be TRUSTED. Trust me on this.

3. Video advertising through websites / youtube. What better way to show how to use your products, to demonstrate your knowledge, to add interest to a product or service, to direct people to your site, to make people laugh (or cry) and share your video with others than to get our snazzy team to create a short video to showcase your awesomeness. Just saying, there's a lot of untapped potential there... How would your company benefit from a short video? Take a look at our Website Video page for more info.

4. Facebook and Twitter. With both of these marketing platforms, the technology is continually developing to make this FREE marketing worthwhile for your business. Adding these as links to your site is also of benefit, and nowdays you can even stream your tweets through your site - very appealing if done right. (We can do it right - contact us today.)

Now let's take a wee stroll into ;

WAYS THAT AFFECT HOW WE SHOP

strolling... strolling...

1. Downloadable Coupons - coupons can now be downloaded or sent to cellphones. This negates the need for a printed coupon and means a customer can simply show a coupon from their phone to get a discount. Companies are getting ahead of this technology by creating online vouchers to send to their clients.

2. iPhone websites / iPad websites / Mobile sites - these are reduced versions of your website that we can create, so that your customers can easily view your website on their own portable technology, encouraging sales and visits and marketing your products.

3. eCommerce websites / websites selling products online - in the realms of convenience eCommerce sites are growing ever more popular. From used goods to beauty products to ordering your groceries, the popularity of buying online is a growth industry so if this is something your business has the potential to do - contact us today so we can work with you to create an eCommerce site for you.

These are just a few things that are going to have an impact on how we shop and whom we choose to buy from. Are you ahead of the game? Are you keeping up? Would you like to contact us to talk about how we can put a rocket pack on your company and boost you into the technology age? Sound like fun? It sure does to us because marketing through BOTH traditional and modern technology is what we do... is what we do darn well.

Even if this is all new to you, give us a call to discuss the future of your business. As well as marketing we can refresh or rebrand your business, design your stationary, offer an EASY TO USE email marketing system so you can contact your client base, we can design, develop and host a website for you, we can do almost anything given a chance! We have the team, the passion and enthusiasm and the skill - now we just need YOU!

See our Graphic Design Portfolio and our Website Portfolio for further proof of how awesome we are.. in case you're not yet convinced.

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Posted in Branding

Is your website climbing with sales and visitor numbers or sliding downhill?

Does your website fit the purpose for which it is intended? Having a website for your business, whether large or small, these days is a must.

Has your website gotten out of hand? Has it grown beyond it’s intended purpose and lost its clarity and effectiveness?

At Active Design we live and breathe good website design. We know what works and what doesn’t. We have the skills and experience to create beautiful, attractive looking websites, and we know the workings behind website creation and the ways and means to increase traffic to your site. We know how to write clever, keyword-rich content to ensure the people who are looking for you make that connection. We are always creating new websites as well as upgrading older sites to keep things fresh and new. We are passionate about what we do and can whip your website into better shape!

Has your website lost if effectiveness and purpose?

Contact our friendly team here at Activate to re-focus your site on it’s true purpose – to provide awareness of the products and services you provide, to offer your contact information and company information clearly and quickly, and to increase sales for your company. Don't put up with a stale website! Let us cook up new website design to satisfy any business style and taste.

Not sure if your website is performing at it’s best? Have a look at these questions to see if your website comes up to scratch or whether it needs some attention. Have a think about the job your website is doing for you; has it gotten old and out of date? Can it be revived or is it time to refresh, rebrand, and launch yourself into the competitive ranks of modern website business? Take a look at our online website design portfolio for some refreshing website design ideas.

  • Would you choose your business with only your website as an introduction? That's a good question, if I do say so myself. This may prompt you to have a look at some of your competitors websites to see where you stand. Does your site reflect who you are as a business, and at the same time being welcoming and clearly informative? And fast - don't forget fast! Website browsing is now the #1 place to find businesses because it is the quickest! Does your site keep up to speed with the others or crawl along, causing your visitors to back right out again rather than wait for graphics, etc, to load? Take a look at our website portfolio for examples.
  • Does you site introduce your company clearly? Is your company name is recognisable and clear? Are your contact details easily visable and up to date? Does your website shout; This Is Us!!? For me personally, diving into a site to find the contact details is usually the reason I'm there, and if a site is clean, clear and easy to read, I might stay a while to read more. Can you grab the attention and curiosity of your fast-browsing website audience?
  • Is there clear navigation to enable quick access to your information? If your website is, for example, for a garden centre, can I find out about lawn maintenance from a menu button or will I leave disappointed, having navigated through screes of irrelevant information? We can add clever content and split your information up into pages, making the right information quick and easy to locate.
  •  Is your logo immediately visible – and of good quality? A pixelated or low resolution logo says more about your company than you probably want to know. It's not good. When presenting your company present everything as professionally and consistently as possible to give the best possible impression. Contact us right now if your logo does not project the high standards of your business! Visit our online logo design portfolio to see examples of our logo design and marketing.
  •  Has your website been proof-read and thoroughly checked for errors? Industry professionals cannot afford even the smallest mistake on their site – after all, if the attention to detail isn’t there on your own website, how do we know you will lift your standards for a customer? If your site is error-free, you are showing your standards are already high, and this will sell your professionalism and follow-through to your customer. Your website reflects how you feel about your own business, and by association, how you feel about other people’s business. Contact me today to proof read every inch of your website, and to create new, refreshing content for your site - error free!
  •  Does your website use Flash? Flash is now old technology. Steve Jobs made certain of that. Flash is no longer compatible with many platforms and though it may look cool when viewing on your computer – what does it look like on an iPad or iPhone? These platforms are becoming more common, and so fast it's hard to keep up with! We would be more than happy to sit down with you and discuss how to make your website effective on all platforms. We can even create targeted versions of your website that devices such as iPhones can auto-detect, and will access - rather than trying to load your main site. Technology is getting very clever but don't worry, we're pretty clever too.
  •  Does your site have images that detract from or enhance the content? Your website images are there to grab attention, to show in seconds what you can offer. They are there to impress, to show off, and to lead to the content that you really want the customer to read. Are they working for you or against you? Are they relevant or distracting?
  • Does your site have video clips? Done right, video clips are a great way to educate and catch the interest of web surfers that perhaps aren’t interested in reading your content. Is your video ready to play when a web surfer clicks on it? Does it play automatically, often annoying the person who has just entered your site and often causing them to bounce right out again. Same goes for background website music – no, no and no. See our video for website page for more information on taking advantage of promoting and educating through video for web.
  • Does your site have a main focal point? Do you know what people see first? Where does the eye of the viewer travel after landing on that first point? Is your website designed in such a way as to offer information in the best order or does a website surfer get lost in the maze of your online information.

Are you going to call us yet?

Here's the number just in case: 0800 30 8996.

Website content is often overlooked in favour of the design and layout of a site. As most of us know, the look of a website is the first decider for a web surfer, to see whether or not they can clearly read and understand the information shown. A clutter of information and pop-up advertising may cause web surfers to bounce right back out of a website in favour of a cleaner, more accessible and easy to navigate site.

Once you've grabbed a web surfer's attention through your mind-blowingly well designed website (click here for examples of such), your information needs to have a similar impact. Website content that is clearly written, key-word rich, and written by someone with a knowledge of all the aspects of your business that you wish to showcase, and a good knowledge of how search engines work to target those little suckers, then we simply ensure it is broken down into bite-sized little pieces and listed under clear navigation.

There are certain other factors that make a website effective, see our S.E.O. Services page on how to increase traffic and, by effect, sales to your website.

We'd also like to encourage you to get in touch with us, have a cup of tea and a bit of a sit down while we discuss how we can utilise our design skills, copy writing talents, developer skills, print and marketing capacity, programming cleverness, proof reading savvy (have I forgotten anything?), focusing on making your website get back to climbing up that hill in it's constant job to get ahead of the race and bring you the attention and recognition your business deserves.

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Posted in Branding

Christchurch Website Design Process

The Process of Having a Website Created

Having a website created can be a daunting concept for some people, so I have tried here to simplify the process for those who have not had a website or online presence before; a beginners guide to websites, website design and web hosting. We create Christchurch websites and websites for the Canterbury region, as we are a website company based in Christchurch. We can also work with you to create a website for companies New Zealand wide, utilising the many forms of communication available to keep in touch and arrange online meetings.

STAGE 1 - INITIAL MEETING. What to expect when discussing the initial concept ;

Website Basic Concept : By all means if you have an idea of the design concept for your website make some notes to bring to the first meeting. It’s a great idea to have a look at other websites to see what you like and don’t like about whats around. Note down any features that catch your eye, even colours that stand out. Having an idea of what you want gives us a head start at meeting your requirements, and can speed up the planning process.

Website Content : At a first meeting we are finding out the products and services you have to offer and how to advertise them online in the best possible light. We are working out the aspects of what you do and perhaps sketching out some major topics which would later become separate pages on a website. Splitting information up into chapters or tabs is a good way to clarify what you do, and is much less confusing for your clients as they can jump to a particular topic rather than have to scan through all your information to find what they need.

Your Online Target Audience : We need to find out who your target audience are, and the best way to showcase your products and services in a way that best advertises your ability to meet their needs. Your online target market will directly influence the design and the language of your website, and the look and feel of the design and content management is how we achieve this.

Are you aiming at families with children? Industry professionals? Companies in the Canterbury region or the rest of New Zealand? Are you aiming your web content to those who already know about your area of industry, or introducing your profession or product as a new concept that needs a higher level of introduction and explanation? Corporate or industrial, professional or casual, these factors will play a part in making sure your website appeals to the right kind of target market.

Time Frame And Budget : At this first meeting we would be asking about your time frame and your budget. Do you have any events coming up for which you need your site to be ready for? Are you involved in any convention or event where you would want to be handing out your website address to gain new business? This could extend into our printing service whereby you may need business cards or flyers printed for a specific event. Having a time frame and a budget is a good thing to think about when extending your business into an online platform.

Domains, Website Hosting and Email : Firstly, a domain name. Do you have one? If not we would need to discuss an appropriate name for your site to get the process started. A domain name is an essential part of having a website as it is the signpost that directs people to your site. Having a domain name involves an annual registration fee of around $30.00, which we can arrange for you. Planning forward for when your website is ready to go online, we will offer you secure website hosting service, on our own New Zealand based server, with the ability to offer you secure email accounts to match your website at our website design christchurch company.

STAGE 2 - QUOTE After running through these initial concepts and working out the best way to meet your business needs, we would provide you with a quote, which will be emailed to you with a break-down of the costs involved. On approval of the quote and a 50% deposit we would proceed with your project.

STAGE 3 - DESIGN With great enthusiasm for a new web project we dive into your website preparation. We put the new site up on a temporary domain for viewing only, without all the working parts such as roll-over button changes or click-through links just yet. Typically we place ‘placeholder’ text and images, to indicate the layout and style of the design, and we can temporarily add an ‘under construction’ page to your real domain, so you won’t miss out on clients finding you in the meantime. When the initial stages of layout come together we welcome you to view the concept creation in its temporary domain location.

Be Involved In The Process : At your own pace you can be involved in the website design process, let us know of any changes of layout and design as the site evolves, and providing us with your context text and any images you wish to include, and we're convenient to contact for website design in Christchurch. We can source images for you, and also offer a copy writing service if you want us to apply our skills in this area. Writing copy for web is a service we offer if you are unsure how to promote yourself in writing. We can chat with you over the phone or arrange a meeting to gain the knowledge of what you do, and turn that into clever, detailed information for your customers to gain insight into your business. Usually splitting this offer into chapters or ‘tabs’ on your website, to give customers easy access to the information they require. The design phase of your site usually takes several weeks, dependent on the size and requirements of your site.

STAGE 4 - DEVELOPMENT Once we have a layout and style that best communicates to your potential and existing clients your unique business identity, then our website developer integrates your design into a content management system (C.M.S.). We get graphic aspects of your site working so all the navigation buttons work and any moving banners or video content and links are active, and it’s all put together into a polished working website. At this stage we add any email accounts that you have requested.

STAGE 5 - CONTENT LOADING Once the site is on a working platform, we load the graphic aspects of your site - text and images, into the C.M.S. and schedule a ‘switch over’ date to smoothly transition your site to our live hosting service, or your chosen provider.

COMPLETION At this final stage we invoice you for the remainder of the agreed quote for your website. We recommend a scheduled meeting for some training on how to log-in and edit your unique content (which some our sites can be built to allow), and get your familiar with the content management system. Alternatively we can manage your content and any future updates for you, if you prefer just to phone or email us with future alterations. This service will incur small fees charged on a time basis only.

SUMMARY These days if you don’t have an online presence you are missing out a lot of potential business. At Activate we want to give you the chance to connect to those who are looking for you online, because people will go online first to find a business or service they require. It is faster, easier, and all around more convenient to find what you are looking for online by web surfing, than it is to look on a map or in a phone book. So here’s a quick summary of main points to think about, before contacting us to assist with your website creation :

  • What are your unique products and services that you wish to market online?
  • Who are your target market?
  • Do you have an idea of time frame?
  • Do you have a budget?
  • What domain name would best signpost your website?
  • Would you like us to manage the registration of your domain name?
  • Would you like us to host your website?
  • Would you like an email account or accounts to accompany your website?
  • When would it suit you to arrange an initial meeting?

From there on we will provide a quote, create a design concept, manage any changes required, develop the site foundation, then add the content and the email or hosting services as requested, and you are up and running!

For more information or to arrange a meeting and begin the process or having a website designed in Christchurch, please feel free to give us a call, or send us an email. Your may wish to view our online website portfolio, to gain an idea of the our unique design quality and creativity. Call us today to make an appointment to meet with the team at our Christchurch Website Design Company.

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Posted in Branding

Website Design & Hosting - choosing who to trust.

There are many companies offering website hosting but how do you know if they are up with the play? There are SO many risks in hosting that most clients simply are not aware of until they are stung.

When thinking about hosting your current website or having a new website created, you need to ensure you choose a company that knows what they’re are doing. By simply being aware that there are dodgy companies out there, and amateurs out there who may be short changing you by simply not knowing the optimal way of setting up and hosting a site, linking and renewing domain names, and being able to problem-solve and customise your online business, you can make a wiser decision on whom to choose for such an important aspect of your company - your website.

It is important to choose a company that is up to date with modern technology and who can communicate with you clearly in your initial website creation, as well as any on-going website support and changes you may need - and there may be a lot, especially if you need an eCommerce website to enable you to sell and update products online.

How do you tell if a company has the graphic design skills to match their level of technical website development knowledge?

If it's style that is crucial to you, take a look at the online portfolio that showcases what a company can do for you. If you're looking to update the look of your current site to encourage more repeat visitors to your site and more traffic, then viewing online portfolios is an excellent way to gauge the quality of a designers' skill. View our online portfolio.

How do you know you have your own individual and unique server space and not hidden away as a sub-domain of another account? Rogue hosting companies do this sort of thing and it has terrible consequences for the client.

A website can be hosted as a ‘sub domain’ - this means it doesn’t have it’s own space on a server but slots in under another server’s space, called a ‘sub domain’. This is perfectly alright if the websites are related or for the same company, but if your website is hosted as a sub-domain you will not be getting the online ratings that your site should be getting as it’s own domain - this means the search engines will be showing you not as a first page option on a search, but as a 4th of 5th, or even further down the end of the lists of options shown to an internet surfer who may be looking for a company just like yours.

Hosting your website as a sub domain may save the hosting company money but cost the website owner long-term through a loss in search engine rankings.

How do you know your website is even hosted in New Zealand and do you know what it means if you are not?

We host our websites on a secure New Zealand based server. The location of the server that your site is hosted on is crucial to the speed at which your site performs, and these days search engines are smart enough to see find discrepancies, such as products made in new Zealand, but hosted from a site overseas, and this could have a negative impact on your rankings.

Contact us at Activate Design to discuss all your website design and website enhancing requirements today.

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Posted in Uncategorized

ActiveMail - our simple email marketing system.

Send beautifully designed email newsletters to your customers by utilising our clear and simple email marketing software system.

In choosing this service we can create a unique template or templates for your company, including your logo and brand, company colours, and any features to ensure your newsletter is recognized as your own. Then with the click of a few buttons you can create your own unique newsletter, easily add links to your website or links to your email contact, and add images to suit.

Another unique feature of ActiveMail is that your newsletters can be saved as drafts. This means you can have newsletters on the go until you are ready to send them, perhaps building them up slowly with products of interest or events as they happen.

Once you have chosen to send your newsletter you can utilize the powerful analytic tools of this program. These tools allow you to see many statistics of each email campaign, for example, how many people have opened your email, how many have followed links and which links were most popular, as well as being able to see how many unsubscribed, and how many forwarded your email to a friend. This statistical information can be very handy in knowing which areas of your business are generating the most interest, which products or services are the most popular and what people are recommending or would like more information about.

This feedback our newsletter system can offer you will help focus your company, your website content, and your business structure to meet the needs and interests of your client base, all the while encouraging their input and welcoming their responses to what is offered, and perhaps most importantly - keeping the lines of communication open. An accessible company is a very desirable one to work with. A company you never hear from usually leads to loss of sales and clients looking elsewhere. Email marketing will encourage brand loyalty to you and your company through better communication.

Keep in contact with your client base today by giving us a call to discuss creating a beautiful email template for you through out ActiveMail system. You will be pleasantly surprised just how easy it is to create informative, stylish and beautifully presented newsletters offering your services to the world.

ActiveMail was originally created as a solution to the many and varied email campaign systems available today, some of which can be very difficult and frustrating to use, with ugly templates and hard-to-decipher navigation. Yes there are many email systems on the market but none as easy to manage or clearly accessible as ActiveMail, our unique email marketing software system.

ActiveMail make the process of sending targeted email campaigns to your clients, one that is easy and enjoyable. Contact us about ActiveMail today.

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Posted in Branding