Category: Website Builder Tips


Cheap Website Icons thanks to ICON FINDER

February 5th, 2010 — 5:01pm

icon-finder-logo

You want to use icons on your website. You have a look at word and see what icons and clip Art came with your computer.

And what do you find? Not much of any use!

You then turn to the web, searching and scouring through the net trying to find the perfect icons for your web site. At best you only find a few icons in each set.

That’s where Icon Finder comes in.

Iconfinder provides high quality icons for web designers and developers in an easy and efficient way.

You can search through 147,174 icons or browse 417 icon sets – which ar constantly expanding.

This is a great place to find FREE icon packs for your website builder. It gives you the ability to search for a particular icon e.g. TWITTER. This will bring up hundreds of Twitter icons.

Once you have found the icon you were searching for you can then view the ICON PACK, this will give you all the icons that are designed in the same way.

So you can see all the icons for facebook, stumbleupon and RSS to name but a few.

This will make your site look more universal rather than having a Twitter logo designed one way and a Facebook logo designed another way.

Some packs do have licences which means you can use them for Personal Use only or you may have to provide a link back to the Author of the icons.

You can even download the .ico version of the image, so if you are using windows you can use them for folder images as alternatives to the standard folder symbol that you get.

Hey if you designed some Icons yourself then why not submit them and share them with the world? You could maybe even ask for a link back to your WebEden website!

Well if you decide to use any of these icons, let us know…

If you have any sites that offer the same or something similar then post a comment and help out your fellow designers.

See what your website looks like in all screen sizes and resolutions

January 19th, 2010 — 3:29pm

A couple of months ago we had a guest blog from Alison Cross of Alisoncross4webs that talked about how to put The Gold above the Fold.


Newspaper Talk

This phrase is borrowed from Newspaper publishing. It means that if you have something really important that you want everyone to notice, make sure you put it high up on the page, above the place where people fold  their newspaper.

Website Talk

When this applies to building a website, the ‘fold’ is the lowest part on the page that people can see without scrolling.

As many people do not scroll down web pages, it’s important to put your most important information (your gold) above this point (the fold).

Screen Sizes & Resolutions

That’s all very well, but there is a problem: There are a lot of different sized screens with different resolutions. And some people have toolbars installed too. This means that some users can see more of your website than others. And that means that the fold can fall in many different places.

Finding the Fold

So how do you find out where this fold is? Thanks to a handy little visualisation tool from Google, its now possible to accurately see where the fold is for your website for people using different screens.

The Google Browser Size tool lets you understand how everyone sees your website. For any point on the screen, the tool lets you know what percentage of people can see it without scrolling.

Here’s an image of what it looks like:

The tool isn’t perfect. It assumes that your website is left hand justified rather than centre justified (like most WebEden websites are). Nevertheless, when you’re making a website you can use the tool to make sure the important stuff can be seen by everyone.

Try using the browser size tool on your website and leave us a comment below.

Four great (and free) online tools to help you build a website

December 16th, 2009 — 2:27pm

A few months ago we brought you news of a free online tool that gives you feedback on your website design. 5-second test shows your site to volunteers for 5 seconds, and then asks them to write down what they think your website is all about.

You can use those comments to improve your website, and make it easier for users to understand and navigate.

That post has been so popular that we’ve pulled together three more free online tools to help you in your website building.

Paint.net

Paint.net is free tool that lets you create or edit images, and then save them for use on your website. It’s like a ‘photoshop lite’ for those of us with out the cash (or the patience) for the full blown software.

With Paint.net you can build up your images in layers, adding complexity and texture. You can manipulate each individual layer at any time. Once you’re happy with your image you can flatten it, and then save it many different files types.

Zamzar.com

On Zamzar.com you can convert almost any file type to any other file type. Have you got an excel file that you want to turn into a PDF? Or what about a PDF that you want to turn into Word so that you can edit it? Zamzar can do the lot.

Zamzar can also convert a wide rang of music, video, image and compressed files.

Here’s just a few of the extensions that Zamzar can deal with: .ods; .odt; .ppt; .pptx; .ps; .pub; .rtf; .docx; .doc; .xls; .xlsx; .cvs; .odp;  .wpd; .wps… the list goes on.

Zamzar can also convert iTunes files to mp3.

The other cool thing about Zamzar is that you can add a button to your browser toolbar that lets you click on Youtube videos, convert and save them.

Imagemerger.net

One side effect in the digital-camera-megapixel-race is that the files that modern digital cameras produce are now pretty massive. Do you ever have large photos that take an age to download? Ones that you could blow up to the size of a poster? Would be useful to cut them down to size, possibly for use on your website?

With Imagemerger.net/resize.php you can do just that. You can specify the % reduction you want to apply to your image.

Imagemerer.net also has some other cool image manipulation tools – one which blends two photos together.

ColorZilla

Colorzilla is a free extension for the Firefox browser that can help you to choose the right colour for all the elements of your website.

You can download Colorzilla from the Firefox website. It has a colour picker that sits in the bottom left hand corner of your browser window. If you want to know what the RGB colour of anything on the web, simply click the colour picker and then click on the website that you want to know the colour of.

Colorzilla then displays the RGB and Hex values of that colour.

Check these free tools out and let us know what you think.

Do you know any free online tools that you can share?

10 Essentials for every Business Website

December 14th, 2009 — 2:42pm

Here at WebEden we often get asked to have a look at customer websites and give our feedback on how they’re looking. We usually make comments on images, menus, fonts and layouts.

But often we find that business websites are lacking some of the essentials that every single one needs.

There are some basic questions that every business owner needs to ask themselves when putting their website together. These are questions like:

Why do I need a website?
What information do visitors need to know?
What will website visitors look for?
How can my website make a good impression, and make it easy for people to buy from me?

Here’s our checklist of essentials that we reckon every business website should include.

1. Contact details
The most important essential, but so often overlooked. Website visitors will often try to find your website so they can find your phone number or your physical address.

At a minimum you need address, phone number and email address. Make these details easy to find – think about making the ‘contact us’ page one of the most obvious. Put your phone number big and bold on every page – top right hand corner is most common.

2. Map
Having a map of where you are:
*adds a reassurance to your website visitors that you actually exist.
*makes it easy for them to find you.

Here’s a tutorial on how to add a Google map to your website.

3. A ‘contact us’ lead capture form
Many website visitors want to know more about your products and services, but won’t feel like giving you a call. This might be because it’s out of hours, they’re busy doing something else, or they don’t want direct contact. This means that you need a lead capture form.

Having a lead capture form also allows you to give them more information when it’s convenient for you,

4. Photos of you
This is great way to add reassurance about who your website visitors are dealing with. Having a photo jump-starts a personal relationship between you and your website visitors, and boosts the likelihood that the visitor will want to get in touch.

5. Newsletter Sign up
Many website visitors are in a ‘research’ phase of the buying cycle. They’re not ready to phone you or start buying just yet, but still want more information.

A newsletter allows you to start warming up your relationship before they’re ready to buy. Website visitors get the chance to ‘taste’ your service before they actually commit to buying.

As a consequence, a weekly or monthly newsletter can be the biggest source of new leads for your website.

6. Blog
A blog is a half way house between your website and a newsletter. It lets you add personality to your website, and starts an open conversation with your visitors. You can use it to showcase your knowledge & products.

Another real advantage of a blog is that it lets you add fresh content to your website, something that Google really likes to see.  This can help boost you up the search engine results pages for searches that are relevant to you. For further advice with SEO read our Search Engine Optimisation Guide.

7. Customer reviews and testimonials
One of the most convincing ways to sell your products is by having other customers recommend them. As we’ve mentioned in our Social Media Strategy posts, good customer reviews are an important way to boost sales.

I know that you’re hardly likely to publish reviews and testimonials that show you in a poor light. But if you can get some genuine comments from a real people, and they don’t mind you publishing their contact details, then those comments go a long way to reassure others that it’s a good idea to buy from you.

8. Email to a friend
One of the very first ‘social media’ applications, ‘email to a friend’ is now often overlooked

The best way to convince someone to buy from you is by having someone else recommend your products. An ‘email to a friend’ links on your website does just this.

Here’s a video tutorial on how to add the ‘email to a friend’ application.

9. Social book marking buttons
A more modern social media service, bookmarking buttons often run on the bottom or side of web pages accompanied with a message like ‘share this’, or ‘add this’.

Social bookmarks are public web pages where you list all the links to all your favourite websites. They are a way of saying ‘I like these websites’ to anyone who is interested. They are a great way for customers to endorse you. Popular social book marking services are called Digg, Stumbleupon, Delicious, and Furl.

Here’s a video tutorial on how to add social bookmarking buttons.

10. Twitter & Twitter feed
Twitter lets you have a public conversation with your customers or website visitors. It helps to add a human element to your website, and gives your website personality. Here’s a video tutorial on how to integrate your WebEden website with Facebook and Twitter.

Summary
Whilst is important to be concerned with design, colours, fonts, menus and layout, when building a website make sure you include these 10 essentials too.

Anything else you think is a ‘essential’ for your website? Leave us a comment below.

Turn browsers into buyers with the right buttons

December 1st, 2009 — 2:10pm

We consistently discuss how to get more visitors to your website. We talk about using search engines, social networks, and of course there’s even offline advertising.

But all the website visitors in the world are pretty pointless if no-one buys anything (or takes any other desired action) once they get to your website.

Whilst there are hundreds of different design factors that can influence whether or not someone buys from you, an often overlooked factor is how and where and what type of ‘buy now’ buttons you use.

A ‘buy now’ or call-to-action button should act like a magnet, drawing the visitor’s eye. It should be clear, easy to find, and stand out even on a busy page. Varying how you use these on the page will hugely influence your website conversion rate. Here are a few things to think about when it comes to buttons:

1. Try different colours

There’s an easy rule to follow here: Use strong colours on important buttons, neutral colours on those less so.

One thing to be wary of though, don’t use too many different coloured buttons. You still need to keep to your brand colours otherwise your website can end up looking like carnival poster.

2. Try Varying the Size

Another very simple rule. Use a big button for important actions, small buttons for less important ones.

3. Try varying the shape

You can use shape to change the emphasis of the button, and also hint at its function:
Triangular buttons often contain links to more information.
Circular buttons, especially when small, usually perform a basic function such as closing a document or application.
Rectangular buttons are most commonly used for a call-to-action. Due to this consistency across web design, make sure your important buttons are rectangular. Use other shapes elsewhere.

4. Try to varying the Style

Although you want to stick to your website colours and style guidelines, you should still have enough flexibility to make quite big style changes.

A good and easy way to distinguish a call-to-action button is to make it a block of colour with the text in white. In the example below, both bits of text are the same size. You’re left in little doubt which is the call to action button.

Alternatively, you might like to try placing a symbol or an arrow next to your call to action button. This is what we do on the WebEden homepage to encourage people to start building a website

Last of all, don’t make your call-to-action buttons just text links without a highlighted background. Text links are almost always used to just offer more information.

5. Try to vary the placement

Where your button appears on the page will hugely influence how likely it is to be clicked.

In a page with lots of products make sure the buy now button is immediately next to the product that it is associated with. It should also be on the right, at the bottom corner of the product.

If you have a general page that with a general call to action, make sure that the button is on the right hand side, usually lower down the page.

If users have to scroll down the page, make sure you have a visible buy now button on the right hand side that they can see without scrolling. If you need to, repeat the button lower down the page too.

And that’s it

Varying the way your buttons look and how they appear on the page can hugely influence whether or not your website visitors will click on them. The only way to find out what works best for your website is to try out some different combinations.

Any comments or experiences about buttons you’d like to share? Leave us a comment below.

Could the Google homepage get any more simple? Google thinks so!

November 4th, 2009 — 3:11pm

Of all the websites that you regularly visit, which one has the least information? Which one has no images, almost no text, and just two buttons?

Well even though Google tops the league of zero content home pages, their designers have started experimenting with a version that has even less stuff on it.

Here’s a screen grab of the ultra-minimalist look that Google is trying out:

Google is testing out what happens when they hide everything except for the logo and the search box.

Everything else that usually sits on the page, including the options to search for images; maps; videos; plus a sign in for a Google account; is hidden. Those features are restored if the cursor is moved, and then fade back to invisible if you don’t do anything else.

This isn’t the only ‘new’ version that Google is trying out. They are also testing varieties that include the ‘I feel lucky’ button and other bits and pieces on the page.

“We test hundreds of things everyday on the homepage and nothing should be read into it in terms of product change”, said a Google spokesman, playing the change down.

In the past, the Google homepage has followed a strict rule which demanded that no more than 28 words should be on the homepage. Even this has been broken recently with up to 30 words making an appearance.

This experimentation comes at time when the landing pages of other big Internet brands are trying to include more content, not less. But it is perhaps no coincidence that the world’s most successful Internet company is also the one which has the least content on their landing page.

At the end of the day Google’s number 1 aim is to get you to search for something, since it’s only when you do that that they start making money. Any content or information on the page that diverts the user from carrying out this task is potentially lost revenue for Google.

There is a take-away point here if you are building a website with WebEden.

It’s worth spending some time deciding what the point of your website is. Are you trying to sell something? Are you trying to get people to give you a call? Are you trying to make it easy for them to find information about an event?

If you run a B&B your main priority of having a website is to make more bookings. And that probably means that you want as many website visitors as possible to phone you, or send you their contact details so that you can phone them.

Therefore, make sure your phone number and the contact form is on as many pages as possible. Don’t take people down blind alleys – make sure that every journey they make across your website leaves them in a place where they can find your number or get in touch.

Have you tried changing your homepage to make it simpler, or less cluttered? What effect did that have? Leave us a comment below.

Google can now predict the future

September 8th, 2009 — 2:29pm

Earlier this year we talked about the Google Insights for Search tool. This can show you the trend for people searching with a particular keyword on Google, in all countries of the world. Google Insights for Search also lets you compare two or more search terms to see not only their trends, but which is the most popular. The data can stretch all the way back to 2004.

Google has now unveiled a new version of Google Insights which not only tells you about past trends of keywords, but predicts their future too. The intention of the tool is to give advice to advertisers about how much money to set aside for AdWords paid-search advertising, by predicting not only what people will search for, but how often too.

This means that the graphs produced by Google insights show search trends not only including past information but with future results too.

Google say they can do this by analysing past search query information. Google found that search query trends in more than half the most popular search terms are predictable from year to year.

There are some types of keywords, such as those in food and drink, travel and health, that are really easy to predict, tied as they are to particular sporting events and holidays. Other keywords, particularly those to do with social networks and other newly emerging topics, are more problematic

Google have also produced a new map which helps to visualise the way searches change as time goes by, in different regions. Google hopes that advertisers will use the tool to make better judgments about where to target their ads, and how much money to spend on paid search advertising.

For more information about Google insights, watch the Google video below.

Being about to predict when there are peaks and troughs in search volumes helps you make sure that your advertising is timed right. If you sell Valentines’ day cards, then it’s important to make sure you’re maximising your budget when people are actually buying cards, rather than just the day before Valentines day. Here’s an image from Google insights showing the search trend for Valentines day cards:

As you can see, you need to make sure your campaigns are in full flow on 11th February, to give yourself the best chance of maximising Valentines’ day card sales.

Google have admitted that it could not make perfect predictions about the future, but that they were continuing to work on more advanced forecasting models to ‘close the gap between reality and the future’.

Have a go with the new Google insights and let us know what you think.

Give your website the 5 Second Test

September 7th, 2009 — 1:58pm

You’ve got a great idea for a website. You use the WebEden website maker to put together the homepage and are really pleased with the results.

But how do you know that you’ve got the right design?

If you’ve got time, then you can ask a few colleagues what they think of the homepage. Others of you might show it to friends. People tell you what they think. But since you already know these people, what they say will be coloured by your relationship with them. Some of them might say they like it just to make you feel good. Others might give you good feedback on the design because you’ve already told them what the site is all about. In short, you get just a partial view of what a non-independent person thinks of your website.

And the other factor to take into account is: how long did your friends look at your site before they let you know what they thought? The quite scary statistic is that if someone can’t work out what your webpage is all about in less than 5 seconds, the chances are they will leave. We’re all so used to having easily accessible information; if we’re made to work for it we’d rather turn our backs than persevere.

Leaving a site in just a few seconds is called ‘bouncing’, and even the best sites in the world have a bounce rate of around 25%. What’s worse is that a majority of websites have a bounce rate closer to 50%, and many others – even websites of some quite big companies – have a bounce rate of near 75%.

You can view bounce rates using Google analytics. Follow this link for a video tutorial on how to install Google analytics on your website.

Going back to the original problem, how do you get honest feedback about your homepage design, so you can minimise your bounce rate? That’s where a great new service called Fivesecondtest.com comes in.

With fivesecondtest.com, you can upload a screenshot of any page from your website. Once uploaded, your screen shot is randomly presented for 5 seconds to anonymous volunteers. These testers then write down what they can remember about your website having looked at it, and email their reactions back to you.

You can also test out the procedure for yourself, and also check as many designs as you like, before pushing the test out to the volunteers.

Getting this feedback is invaluable. If a majority of testers can’t tell you quickly what your design is all about, then you need to change it. On the flip side, if most of the testers can accurately tell you what your site means, then you could well be onto a winner.

And since this service operates on a volunteer basis, you can try giving your feedback to other people’s designs, by signing up as a tester. This may well help you improve your ability to design a page that appeals to people instantly.

Give your website the five second test and let us know whether you found it useful.

Are you making the most of your Website?

August 6th, 2009 — 1:20pm

I hope that if you’re reading this you like building websites and you want to get more out of yours, and make it work a bit harder.

Research published last week by dotCommerce has revealed that many retailers in the UK are not making the most of their websites. They’re failing to use up to the minute tools, widgets and best practice on their sites. This means that they’re missing out on repeat visits, high value sales, and are spurning any brand loyalty their visitors may have.

The research looked at 20 of the UK’s largest high street retailers. Whilst most were found to have at least basic ecommerce functionality on their sites, many are missing out on the potential that Web 2.0 can bring them.

What do we mean by Web 2.0? It basically describes websites where the informational flow is not just company to customer, but goes the other way too, with customers contributing to and giving feedback on the website.

The sorts of things we’re talking about are blogs, videos, and user generated content such as reviews and comments. The 20 websites in the study also demonstrated little or no integration with other marketing tools such as email and social media sites.

The ones that score the highest were Marks and Spencer (82%) and John Lewis (78%). These were judged to have gone “beyond the basics” to deliver a rich website experience to visitors.

At the other end of the list were health and beauty retailers such as Virgin Vie At Home (62%), The Fragrance Shop (56%) and Avon (54%).

Most of the retailers simply placed their products on the page and allowed people to buy them. Just 45% had any kind of editorial on their sites. Only 10% had any kind of user comments or reviews. A mere 15% had a blog.

What they do get right is customer support: all scored high marks here.

dotCommerce Technical Director Simon Bird said: “With competition for every consumer pound at an all time high, it’s more important than ever for retailers to engage with visitors to their sites.

“It is also important to recognise the role that ecommerce sites can play in encouraging shoppers to sign-up for other marketing and promotional efforts, such as email marketing or loyalty schemes.

“This allows the retailer to begin building long-term relationships with consumers and maximising revenue from their existing base.”

What does this mean for you and your website? In short, it’s a huge opportunity. If the very wealthiest companies are failing to provide a great experience to their visitors, make sure you are using all the tools within WebEden to deliver them.

To start with, make sure your users have access to rich information about the product or service you’re trying to sell them. Don’t just place it on the page with a ‘buy now’ button.

In terms of Web 2.0, look at the option of adding social bookmarking features, forums, email to a friend, and of course a blog. Use the new membership features in order to allow people to become members of your website. Integrate your site with both Facebook and Twitter, and use your social networks to reach out to new people. All these things will transform your site from one that is just a shop front, into one with which visitors can have a real, rich relationship.

And make sure you get customer service right too. Make your phone number, email and contact details easily accessible. Make sure you respond to customers in a timely fashion.

And of course if you do get positive feedback and reviews, ask the people leaving those to do so on the sites that might influence other purchasers. You can read our previous post on getting good reviews.

Have you given your web visitors a better experience than our high street competitors? Leave us a comment below.

WebEden the Social Networking Website

May 18th, 2009 — 1:37pm

WebEden is today (hopefully) catapulting itself into the world of Social Media, Social Networking, and Web 2.0. Whilst we’ve talked before about how to best make use of Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter to promote your site, with our latest update we’re trying to put your WebEden site at the heart of your Social Networking activities.

What are we talking about?

Want to know how to grow your website with more members and advocates? How to interact, manage and develop a better relationship with your visitors? Want to create members-only/client-only pages or sections? Want to post information or updates from your website to Facebook/Twitter? Build a collaborative website with edit rights for different people?

Well then, the membership release is what you’ve been waiting for! After many months of development it has finally arrived, jam packed with new features and a lot of improvement. Read on for more detail…

This release sees a whole new membership section with a number of improvements to make it easier for site owners to attract, manage and communicate with their members.

In particular, the main areas of improvement are:

a) to make it easier to invite members to join;
b) to ensure members become members of the site only and no longer have to create a SiteMaker account;
c) to replace ‘SiteMaker’ branding in the join process with the site owner’s own look and feel;
d) to allow site owners to create site administrators;
e) to make managing page permissions easier; and finally,
f) to enable integration with some Facebook and Twitter services.

More detail on these features is provided below. While there are over 100 new FAQs in the Help section covering the various new features, we will aslo be publishing some specific articles over the coming weeks. These will highlight more of what’s new, what’s improved and how you can make the most of it.

Getting new members

It’s now possible to invite new members using your Windows Live or Gmail address books. Alternatively, you can also just copy and paste a list of emails addresses if you want to transfer them from an offline address book. The content of the invite email can also be customised by you. As a site owner, it is now possible to create a member yourself, while in edit mode. Previously, the site owner would have to ask the new member to come to his or her site and create an account before being able to assign any access/edit rights.

Site Level Membership

Previously visitors to a WebEden site who wanted to join as a member were required to complete a two-stage sign up process: firstly, they had to create a SiteMaker account; secondly, they then had to join the site. Now, all new sites will be built with Site Level Membership, which means that visitors join the site in a one step process. It also means that the members are free to choose a username that is unique to that site alone. Previously, usernames had to be unique across all usernames for all members of the sites built by the partner.

Sites built before the launch will be able to upgrade their site to site level membership, therefore getting access to all the new features provided under site level membership. However, this is not mandatory and in fact some sites use the WebEden wide membership so that they can run a number of sites with shared logins.

The join up process now involves setting up a join page which contains a new customisable login/join widget where the site owner can create a branded experience explaining the benefits of joining their site. Previously, the join process took place in a SiteMaker editor style popup window Emails from the site now refer to the site’s name and come from the site email address. Previously, some account emails were from the SiteMaker Team and mentioned SiteMaker.

Site Admin

A new role of Site Administrator has been created. A site admin has access to all the toolbar functions, but any information regarding the site owner, such as billing details, are not accessible. This feature is particularly useful for website resellers.

Managing members and page permissions

It is now possible to set up permissions for multiple pages at once. The interface on the settings panel has been improved to make it much simpler to understand what permissions have been given to individual members as well as each group.

You can now create groups and drag and drop members into those groups from a single panel. Site owners can now view and update members’ email addresses and send them an email that allows the member to reset their password (as long as the site is using site level membership)

Integration with Facebook and Twitter

It is now possible to allow visitors to become a member of your site using their Facebook login credentials, therefore making it easier for users to register as they won’t have to create another username and password.

You can also link your site with your Facebook account enabling you to post notes and updates on your wall about your website so that your friend network on Facebook can hear about your site or be updated with any changes.

It is also possible to send updates to an associated Twitter account to communicate with your twitter followers about your site.

NB. If you have your own domain name you’ll have to get a Facebook Application key to use the Facebook features. You can do this in the new ‘People’ section on the ‘Settings’ tab and we’ll talk you through the process. It’s quite simple.

And that as they say is that. It’s taken a while for us to get our heads around it all, but we’re sure you’ll get to grips with it much faster. Let us know what you think and we hope you enjoy the new tools!

To give you a helping hand we’ve put together a video tutorial that shows you how to add members to your website.

And here’s one that shows you how to send membership invitations.

And finally, here’s how to send updates to Facebook and Twitter.

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