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

Website Landing Pages

The main goal in having a website is good communication. Good communication through website design is what we do here at Activate Design, based in Christchurch. We understand that communication is the main reason for having a website at all. Your customers need to connect to you, and you to them, and in today’s society websites are the first place a client will look for a business or service they require. Our job is to ensure your online presence remains in perfect working order, to offer upgrades, S.E.O., and a variety of website support services to ensure you get the most from your website.

We have a great team of Canterbury web designers, graphic designers and web developers who specialise in their own areas of website design and creation, and we combine our knowledge of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Content Management, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) Graphic Design and Content Writing, to create informative and professional websites for customers in the Canterbury region, and a variety of business from North Island to South Island wide.

The elements of great website design go beyond the pages that make up the basic layout of a website. A lot more web traffic directed to your site can come through “Landing Pages”.

Landing pages are pages of content consisting of keyword-rich text, that provide additional entry points to your site. What makes these pages different from the rest of your existing website is that they can stretch out and grow like branches on a tree, without cluttering up your website layout. Most “landing pages” are not accessible through a site, or if they are they would usually be linked via a text link in your content, rather than tabs on your site navigation. This is simply because they are written in such a way as to be aimed at the search engines, rather than educating your clients - which is a secondary function.

With landing pages, you can have as many as you like - we would recommend each page be kept to a single topic and elaborated on from there. To understand how this works it is helpful to know how search engines work; Search Engines are constantly evolving - and by that I mean, being upgraded. The people behind the code are learning from experience and applying smarter techniques to the functionality of their search engine programs. Many of the techniques to alert search engines to your website content that have worked in the past do not work today, such as alternative spelling of words. Search Engines have evolved to more complex strategies - and we are constantly evolving our own processes to ensure we use techniques that ensure a search engine recognises what it is you provide, and can connect you to the people who are searching for you online. This constant evolution of how we streamline your content means we are ahead of the market in website development. Someone who was good at S.E.O. years ago may not be up with the play in today’s evolution of processes.

By adding multiple landing pages to your website, you are increasing the chances that a search engine will find you and recognise that you are what a web surfer is looking for, to make the connection. The effectiveness of landing pages will depend on the content, and here at Activate Design we have experienced copy writers who recognise that just being a good writer is not enough, but being a good writer combined with a knowledge of S.E.O. (Search Engine Optimisation), means we write effective, keyword-rich, targeted content that will greatly enhance your ratings with search engines and visibility to web surfers. To do this we can speak with you over the phone to gain some insight into your company, meet with you at your convenience, or simply research what it is that you do to write some unique, clever content for your site.

To further explain landing pages, I will use the example of a store that makes and sells leather boots. If we created a website for them it may have a home page, then linked to this would be the main pages for say, product information, contact information, and company information. That may be all that is needed for the site to effectively communicate what they do, and to showcase the products and services they provide, keeping the menus clear and not cluttered, and the site clean and tidy. However, there may not be a lot of combined content on these pages, so to attract more traffic to the site we could offer the addition of landing pages.

Using this example we could do a landing page on the leather used to make the boots - including lots of keywords related to leather, caring for leather, the process of creating leather, and adding anything that people may be searching for that would link them to that site. We could do another page on shoe laces, and another on shoe soles, adding the keywords related to that topic and extending the net that will draw in potential online clients.

Writing keyword content is not just about adding keywords.

Search engines have evolved to such an extent that we could not write repetitive keyword-rich text, or repetitive text at all, in fact your site would be penalised for this.

For example ;

“We use a variety of leather to produce leather boots. Our leather is a rich leather worked by hand using leather tools and leather products, and we use many kinds of leather and leather solvents to achieve this.”

In browsing this text, search engines would recognise the keyword ‘leather’ is in there, but also that the content is less informative and more repetitive. If you write keyword rich context it has to make sense. Search engines cannot read and understand the text, they do not know what the words mean, but among other methods they work on statistics such as “bounce rates”. A bounce rate is how many people click on your site and then click (or bounce) right back out again, which gives an indication as to whether your content or article has any worth. Using the example of the text above, browsers would recognise this as repitive jargon and click right out again, so the bounce rate would become very high, and reflect negatively on your site. If your keyword rich content was more informative, balanced with keywords and commonly searched-for terms, the bounce rate would be far less. The amount of time a browser spends on your page reading your text, and whether or not they click through to your main website, all matter and are recorded. These are the statistics that search engines will include in their evaluation of your website and the rating it gives you, directly affecting the online traffic that finds, peruses and uses your website.

As mentioned earlier, landing pages can be hidden from all access, other than being the initial site that internet users will click through to after being directed by a search engine. From that page they can click through to your website, and will not be able access that landing page again, except via Google or another search engine - unless you specifically want to give them access to these pages from your site, which may be best achieved using text links rather than adding pages to your menu and complicating your site. Landing pages allow your site to remain simple and clear, then like the branches of a tree, landing pages can be added indefinately, and work best when targeted to a specific topic, as in the example for leather.

Landing pages can be added over an extended period and don’t have to be done all at once. We could do a new landing page for your site every week or month, we are happy to work within your time frame and budget.

Contact us to add landing pages to your site and to write clever content for website and any advertising material you need. Give us the opportunity to ensure you make the most of your online presence, we are here to assist in keeping your site up-to-date and interesting, and encourage you to give us a call for any quotes, queries or website-enhancing advice.

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Posted in Graphic Design

Website and Server Security for Christchurch, New Zealand Businesses Online

The amount of websites being hacked is rising dramatically. Website hackers are able to install software onto websites that can get your site banned from Google and expose your information to cyber criminals. Choosing an appropriate website hosting provider should be a top priority for anyone looking to get a website up and running or moved to a more secure hosting facility.

One question that is being asked more than any other; Is is safe to host my website overseas? Overseas website hosting can sometimes offer low prices, and this is usually their website targeted marketing strategy, but often these lower prices are a reflection of lower standards of quality and more importantly, website security.

If you are looking to host your website overseas then one of the challenges you are sure to face is the difficulty of website support. If the hosting is provided in another country there may arise challenges in communication, language-barriers, misunderstandings, and the challenge of changing your website hosting to another hosting provider - which has been problematic for many website owners in the past. The speed of your website will also be a factor, the closer to the server your clients are, then the faster access they will have to their site.

If you are now thinking of changing your website hosting from an overseas company back to a New Zealand company, we have a few tips for you to keep in mind ;

  • Keep your existing website hosting account open until you have completed the changeover. This will ensure that your website and any email accounts will still be active during the changeover.
  • Have a back-up of your website information and files. This could be a problem if all the website files are located with a website hosting company overseas.
  • Once you have changed to a new website hosting provider, you can make the necessary domain name changes, or if you have switched to a company like us, we would do this for you.

Here’s a couple things to be aware of that can become traps for website owners ;

  • Don’t fall for gimmics like the promise of free Domain names - domain names are not free. When you register for a domain name a registration fee is required by the domain registry, which gives you the right to use the domain name for the duration of the term you have registered for. Choose a company that can provide website hosting and also take responsibility for your domain name renewal - without which your site would go down.
  • Don’t believe a company who promises unlimited storage space. No web hosting company can provide this, there is always a limit to the space available but customers don’t, in actuality, need a huge amount of disk space.
  • Don’t compromise your site getting cheaper hosting by putting up with ads plastered throughout your site. Sites with click-through adverts are the most targeted by hackers, and the adverts are a distraction and aversion for potential clients, unless they have some relevancy to the context.

At Activate Design our websites are hosted on our own secure server in a secure data centre and we employ industry-standard security measures to protect customer information from misuse, damage, disaster and/or the alteration of content. This includes 128-bit security encryption and the our use of a secure server. Our hosting server is located in a 24-hour alarmed and monitored secure area, and we have recently launched ActiveHost - as subsidiary of Activate Design Ltd., offering hosting and domain registration services as a dedicated business unit.

We would like to instil confidence in our secure, New Zealand based hosting servers, and uniquely secure CMS platform which we have developed and evolved over the past five years. There are a lot of CMS platforms out there, ours is unique because it has been created by us, exclusively for our client base, and as it is not publicly available there are no viruses for it.

Benefits of using Activate Design for your website hosting service ;

  • Maintain fast loading speeds for New Zealand and Australian based audiences.
  • Keep your website content and customer data safe.
  • Get alerted to suspicious activity.
  • Be able to back up your website and be able to easily restore it.
  • Avoid getting blacklisted by search engines.
  • Avoid your customers inadvertently downloading and running malicious files from your website if it gets infected.
  • Avoid malicious files such as viruses, trojans, spyware etc. from completely compromising your website, requiring a complete rebuild.
  • Avoid viruses out there that are programmed to disrupt the service and operation of websites, and to collect information, such as customers sensitive data that can lead to loss of privacy, enable unauthorised access, and cause major disruption.
  • Be easily able to update your website using our C.M.S. (Content Management System).
  • Have control to be able to edit content / add products yourself.
  • Establish a high rank on search engines using our S.E.O. Services.

We offer our services both nationwide and overseas, so please feel free to contact us regarding the secure hosting of your website, at our trusted and experienced website design & development, hosting, graphic design and print management company. Take a look at our web design portfolio here.

If you have a website that has been hacked then you know the consequences of not ensuring your site is safely located on a secure server. If your website is hacked it can be non-operational for a long periods of time while it is either shifted to a new server or requires a complete re-build on a safer CMS (Content Management System) platform. Prevent this from happening by choosing a reputable, experienced company for your secure, trusted web hosting, design and development.

The unfortunate truth of online crime, is that websites are the most common place hackers will target. Contact us to discuss how we can create and maintain the highest level of security for your website, today.

For more information on securely hosting your website, visit our ActiveHost page.

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Posted in Website Design

Graphic Design for Printing and Website Challenges

We’re not a printing company that does websites.                                                                         We’re not a website company that does print.        

We are a Graphic Design Agency that has been doing both website design and development and graphic design and printing, since our launch in 2003.

We have so much combined experience in both related industries that we can smoothly design for both mediums and fully understand the requirements and difficulties of both.

As an example, we would design a logo primarily for print - and then that logo can be converted for website use. The reason for this is that print requires a very high resolution (usually vector image - which retains it’s quality at any size), whereas web requires a much smaller resolution as it will be viewed on a screen. Print is a hard medium for quality control, and special care must be taken to have correctly sized, excellent quality images because it is very easy to spot a drop in quality and inconsistency on the printed page.

When you start with a small graphic and wish to re-size, especially an graphic that is low resolution, the process of re-sizing is not always the right one. When you re-size an graphic, all you will achieve is a stretching of the graphic. The resolution of an graphic is based on the number of pixels contained in the graphic, so when increasing the graphic size, this process will not create new pixels, it will only increase the size of the pixels in your existing graphic by stretching them. The best way to ensure your graphics for print are of excellent high quality is to ensure you have large graphics to start with. Graphics for print need to be around 300dpi (dots per inch), and compared to images for on-screen viewing these need to be only 72dpi.

How this translates into website design and graphic design for print, is that if you have your marketing material designed simply for the web - and you to translate your marketing medium into print, all your graphics will look blurry or blocky, giving a bad presentation of your business. At Activate Design we have a clear knowledge of these processes, and can work with you to design either for website-only, or for print-only, or with the foresight to design for both mediums, starting with higher-resolution graphics and logos at print specification, then creating smaller, optimised versions of these graphics and logos for use on your website or online newsletter mediums.

To help those in the know, here’s some information on the two main types of graphic images;

Bitmap Graphics These are also known as raster images and are made up of pixels - tiny dots of individual colours that make up the image, like a photograph. It is hard to resize this image type without sacrificing image quality. When you downsize an image of this type you are essentially throwing away pixels. When you enlarge an image the software has to try to create new pixels, by estimating the colour values of the new pixels based on surrounding pixels. This process is known as ‘interpolation’, and is not an ideal process, often resulting in a blurry image. The best way to handle bitmap images is to start with the largest image possible and downside it for each required application.

Main Characteristics of Raster Graphics;

  • Pixels are in a grid format.
  • The quality of a bitmap image depends on the resolution.
  • Resizing for a large graphic reduces the quality.

 

Vector Graphics These graphics are made up lines and curves, shapes with easily editable characteristics like outlines colours and fills. Fonts are the most well known vector graphics. They consist of single, easily scalable objects. A vector graphic can be modified without changing the quality, and is a very flexible format in the way you can use ‘controlling handles’ in design software to stretch out, move and change an object. This format is not suitable for photo-type images as they are made up of solid areas of colour.

Main Characteristics of Vector Graphics;

  • Easily re-sizable.
  • Clean lines.
  • Resoution independent.
  • Can easily be converted to bitmap.

We can design your logo, business image, stationary and convert this into an online medium. Visit the Graphic Design page at www.activatedesign.co.nz for more information on graphic design, and some introductory prices. View our Website Page for information on our cost effective CMS or eCommerce or websites.

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Posted in Branding

Website Search Engine Optimisation (S.E.O.) in Christchurch New Zealand

Got A Website But Want To Increase Enquiries And Sales? To do that you need more traffic, and to get more traffic you need Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Here is a brief overview of what SEO is. To find out more visit the SEO page on our website www.activatedesign.co.nz

What Is Search Engine Optimisation, Or S.E.O? The term SEO covers a wide variety of processes to optimise your website, and we do this to allow a search engine to more efficiently index your website, which will increase traffic through your website and in turn, increase your ‘conversion rates’ on your website. Each optimisation is industry-specific and requires a tailored campaign and some very dynamic thinking. It is a process of tweak and measure to achieve results, which is why we strongly recommend it as an on-going process to achieve the best results for you website.

What Does S.E.O. Involve? SEO is not specific to one task, but includes many different methods of literally - optimising the information on your website so that search engines, such as Google, can see exactly what it is that you offer, in effect - pointing your target market directly to you. It is also a means of increasing your search engine rankings, and by this I mean whether a search engine places you on the first page of their ‘search results’ or the fortieth.

What Are Conversion Rates? Driving people to your site is only half of the process, once they are there, you want them to do something, buy something or contact you. The number of people that do this called your ‘conversion rate’. A successful website owner will pro-actively market their website and develop an on-going SEO strategy to increase rankings, increase traffic and increase conversion rates. We can help you achieve this.

How Much Bang For Your Buck? It is near impossible to create one website SEO Package that will suit everybody, because first you need a website, up and running, that we can measure your traffic against. We need to track and measure the areas in which your site is not performing as well as it could, and where we can improve your visibility to your potential clients. Here at Activate Design we have created three packages that we believe will offer various levels of website optimisation - Silver, Gold and Platinum. The differences between them are simply the amount of services we offer in each package, because as mentioned, there are many, many ways of optimising a website, some of which I will explain here to give you an insight into the kind of work involved ;

H1 And H2 Tags - these are the headings used on your site. If these heading are graphics, or part of an animation sequence, chances are that the search engines cannot even see them. Headings are an opportunity to utilise keywords as your websites’ unique signposts, that are being overlooked. Image Alt Tags - where an image loads can be underlayed with descriptive text that includes important keywords for both the search engines to read, and incase your image doesn’t load, there is still a chance to show some information. Another benefit of Alt Tags is for where new technology comes in, where website surfers with visual impairments can now use modern software that enables them to hear the description of an image, instead of view it. To view a full list of SEO techniques visit our SEO Prices & Packages page at Activate Design.

How Do Search Engines Work? The way search engines used to work is to only scan the ‘Metatags’ of your website. Metatags are descriptions or keywords in the background workings of your website, not visable on your website, that explain what you do. Because these metatags depended on the honesty of the person writing them, they were not very reliable, and so search engines have had to evolve to scan through ALL the information on your site. The search engines do not see your images, they do not see graphic content, they scan through the code that your site is made up of. A large aspect of optimising your website is optimising the code on your site, and the difference between an older website consisting of pages and pages of code, and a newer site consisting of say, one page of code, written far more efficiently, can mean the ease or difficulty for a search engine to index your site and rank it well, or badly.

Another way of thinking about how and why a search engine indexes or scans through your website, is that it’s about incentivsing websites to clean up the website, to encourage progress and the continued internet evolution. If you think of a search engine as grading each website it indexes - like a points system where a search engine is going to give you say, 2 points for clear headings, 5 points for the ease and efficiency that it could actually view your website’s information, but several demerit points for any mistakes in the coding, and demit points for an excessive amount of code to search through. I can’t say exactly how they work, as each search engine has it’s own way of grading the information that it is scanning, or more correctly - indexing, and these processes are constantly evolving.

What Are Some Examples Of SEO? Genie Clean is a website client of ours who chose the SEO Silver Package for 1 month. The results he gained from one month alone were fantastic, and the client was more than happy with our service and the new business that resulted in the increased traffic through his site. In the four keyword topics that this client choose to optimise, three ended up on the first page of search engine results and the fourth on the second page, which is excellent.

Another website we have recently provided SEO services for is Heavy Diesel Parts & Services (HDPS). They also went with our SEO Silver Package, resulting in their selected key terms all showing up as first page results. To clarify - as a jump in result placements their key search terms jumped 24, 55, and even 76 placements to be included on the first page of results. This means that previously if you searched for terms such as “caltex lubricants”, you would have had to scroll through pages and pages of results before you came across them, now they are on the first page of results, and lets face it, very few people scroll through pages and pages of results, they usually select from the first ten, which is where HDPS are now ranking.

To put it clearly Having a nice website is only half of the process, SEO is the driving force behind getting traffic through your site. It’s about numbers and rankings, and we’re the people to see.

Search engine optimisation is a extraordinary field of expertise. To perform well in google searches it is a total combination of a large variety of factors. If anyone tells you ‘it’s all about meta-tags’ or ‘it’s all about back-links’ then they are kidding you. We know the magic behind SEO and if you are serious about wanting a high-ranking website then you need to talk to us.

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Website Design