Gain The Advantage With A Mobile Website

There are plenty of businesses in specific industries that would greatly benefit from having a mobile version of their website. It may be that these businesses have not yet realised just what a great benefit having a mobile website is to the growing number of people who are browsing the internet on their mobile devices.Housemart mobile website nz shred mobile website aviva mobile website

As Shown Above: Responsive Websites - this property management company choose to have a responsive website for the ease of their customers, some of whom will be using their mobile device to browse their website while physically visiting properties. - this skate, surf and street clothing store found that a responsive site best suits their customers who may local and shopping around, or among the bulk of season tourists who can view their range and location via their website on a mobile device. - instead of limiting the support that Aviva Families offer, to those browsing their site on their home computer, this company choose a responsive website so they can offer their expert family support to anyone, anywhere, with a site that is simple to view and navigate at home or on a mobile device.




I have chosen the following industries that would greatly benefit from having a mobile version of their website, based on the fact that a high percentage of people looking for these particular businesses are likely to be looking for them while browsing on a mobile device - be it a phone, tablet or iPad. People looking for these businesses are likely to be on the move rather than be sitting at a home computer.

  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • Restaurants
  • Schools
  • Takeaway businesses, ie. fish & chips / pizzerias / bakeries
  • Sports facilities – fitness centres / swimming pools
  • Dentists
  • Beauty Salons / Day Spas
  • Hair dressers
  • Auto services


Local people who are out and about may decide on the spur of the moment to visit a hairdresser, beauty salon or even a gym or swimming pool, and rather than go home to look on a computer they may want to book an appointment, get in contact, or simply find the opening hours or contact details of a business while out and about and browsing on their mobile device.

After all, deciding in the moment to get your hair done, or visit a gym, is the freedom that we enjoy from not having to always plan ahead, and the internet is the key to finding our location of choice through the flexibility of viewing a mobile website. And then there’s those unexpected times when you’re on the move and a friend urgently calls and says “can you pickup my son/daughter from school?” You want to look for their schools' website on your phone and quickly find the schools location and contact details. Are you making it easy for people to find you?



As a tourist in a new town, you may want to find a café or restaurant that serves a particular dish, so you will be browsing on your mobile device for a local takeaway such as fish n’ chips, indian, chinese or even pizza while you explore the town. Alternatively you may be looking for a local bar or restaurant to dine in, and want to find out their opening hours and the meals they have available.

As a traveller you may have a call from a friend; "plane's been delayed, we have a free day! Where can we go snowboarding, hire gear and find transport, and what hours are they available? Can we book online right now?" People want the ability to find this information quickly and efficiently.

Your car breaks down and you're on the road. Is there a mechanic with a mobile website where I can find their information and get help? Is there a motel nearby?

Does your website provide this information to a mobile device in a format specific to this kind of browsing? Trying to browse a normal website on a mobile device is frustrating and time-consuming and requires a lot of scrolling around the page.

Housemart Mobile Websites


Shown Above: Responsive site vs Regular website on a Mobile

ABOVE LEFT: The image above shows what the whole Housemart website would view like on a mobile device. It clearly does not fit the format and will require a lot of zooming in and scrolling around the page to find what the information you need.

ABOVE RIGHT: This image show the responsive website as it would auto-resize to fit the mobile phone format. This information is much easier to view, and navigating the site to find select information is simple.



A Mobile Website is a version of your website specifically created to make it easier to find the most important information quickly and clearly. If your competition has a mobile site and you don't, you're at a disadvantage because mobile browsing is becoming the norm, and people are looking for sites on their mobiles that are simple and straightforward.

For more information on mobile websites, see our Mobile Website page. Browsing the internet is about speed and efficiency, and if a site looks too complex then people will exit right out again to find a site that more clearly offers what they are looking for.

In the competitive world of online marketing, we need to anticipate what our target market are looking for, and ensure we are providing that information in the easiert format possible.

Contact us to discuss having a Mobile Website created for your business, today.

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Posted in Website Design

Almost Perfect Websites


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Website Design

Stella Enterprises

Recent website design for








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

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Koru Clinic

New website design & creation for

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

Koru pic








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Posted in Website Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Website Design

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

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.Christchurch Website and Server Security

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.Website Server Security

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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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

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.

Keyword Ranking Graph

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.

Target Customer Profile

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. Search Engine Ranking





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Posted in Website Design

Video Production for Websites in Christchurch New Zealand

We can give your website a unique hook by creating a cutting-edge custom full HD video for your website. Check out our website for packages that include filming, editing, map animation, titles, logo animation, web upload, web optimisation and graphic construction.

Videos are filmed in full HD and are web optimised. No extra video hosting fees, and our videos are easily embedded to your website. Adding a video to your website not only adds interest to your website, getting your potential customer to stay longer while watching you video, it can also give you increases traffic and online presence.

Our videos are not limited to websites, we can create video for TV commercials and even retail display systems. Our cutting edge videos can isolate and target your market, while presenting your business in crystal clear High-definition. We also create eye-catching, attractive motion graphic videos of your products and load them onto a looping system to display on your instore televisions. The tactical placement of your video screening is ideal for bringing in foot-traffic into your store, all the while presenting your store as a cutting edge, professional outlet.

While you're here on our website, check out our websites-videos page. We're the people to see for your website design and web development, logo design, branding and website hosting. Contact us today.

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Posted in Website Design

Get Online: The Problem With Free Websites

Get Online for Free

Every now and then we see another genius internet business plan - "Lets give away free websites!" The idea is a simple one: Lure people in by offering them free websites so you can quickly grow a large base of hosting customers that are locked into paying you. Often we've been asked what we think about the strategy of 'free websites.' Especially since we are also a hosting company, would it not make business sense for us to offer free websites as well?

From our point of view, giving away something for nothing has never been a good business strategy. We are only interested in businesses who are serious about success and I don't know of a single successful website business that started out as a 'free template.' The old saying 'there are no free lunches' is as relevant online as ever. You need to ask yourself: Why is it free? What are they really wanting in return? If you can't answer those questions then rest assured you are giving them something, you just don't know what it is yet.

If you signup for a free website template you will compromise on a combination of the following:

• Generic template layout. When you are choosing a website template, how many other people are choosing exactly the same site? They might be called 'custom websites' but there is often very little that is custom about them, apart from choosing a background colour and uploading your logo into the banner. That isn't 'custom.' Internet users are increasingly savvy and can smell an el-cheapo website a mile away - not good if you want to be taken seriously.

• Inability to add new functionality; membership areas, image display sliders, product features, video, interactive elements etc.

• Little control over the layout. You'd better really like that template because there is no changing it down the track, unless you want to start over.

• Most search engines ignore them! What is the point in having a website if you have no traffic and can't do a SEO campaign to get any traffic because you are on a free template structure?

• You don't own the site. You can't host it elsewhere. You can't back it up. You can't upgrade it.

• Hidden on going costs. Be very careful how much the on-going hosting costs are going to be. Whenever I look at free website companies it's often very difficult to actually find out how much the hosting costs are! They don't tell you, or they offer you 12 months free and then it will just be a small monthly cost. You need to know what it's going to cost and shop around to see if that price is actually a fair price considering the point above.

This is just the tip of the iceberg with regards to free websites. In the end it is your choice and many people simply do not know enough about websites to make an informed decision. They simply see a working website, not too different from their competitors, and it's free! They saved themselves maybe $1000. Many of these people come to us a year or two later saying: 'The free website idea was a silly thing to do - I just didn't really know.. I thought since it was free that it couldn't hurt.'  If you are serious about the success of your business then forget about $5 logos and free websites. Or give the free thing a go and we'll talk to you in a years time.

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Posted in Website Design