Why I Love Create.net

Why I Love Create.net

My niche market is designing websites for clients who want to manage and update their sites themselves after they are launched but simply don’t have the skill or motivation to build the initial site themselves.

I’ve been designing websites professionally for 5 years and as a favour for myself and for friends and groups for much longer. In that time I have used many website builders for simple websites and Create.net is definitely my favourite.

My Top 5 Reasons Why I Love Create

#1 Free Trial & Great Pricing

All new Create accounts start with a 14-day free trial – and there is no credit card required so it truly is free. That makes this a great platform to have a play with if you’re looking to test it out before parting with your cash.

When you are ready to sign up, Create’s Website Builder package is just shy of £70 per year and is one of the best value sites on the web – especially as this price includes SSL (something most other companies add on).

#2 UK-based Customer Service

Yes, there are real people based in the UK that you can email or call to get your problems solved! Although my clients generally take over the management of their site once I have built it for them, I can still communicate on their behalf to sort out issues if I have to and the Create.net team are always swift to reply and get any issues solved.

#3 Up to Date Templates & Technology

The templates on offer are fresh and can be customised to match your brand. New templates are added often and you can move between them or see what your website would look like with a new template at any time.

Also, I love using WordPress, but you need to constantly ensure that your plugins are updated (or pay extra for dedicated WordPress hosting to do it for you). Create.net is always evolving to meet new online requirements such as GDPR and mobile responsivity so your site always looks great – and if you do have to manually upgrade then they give you heaps of tips and help to do it.

#4 Shop Facility Included

The built-in Shop facility on Create.net is amazing. I still sell some of my wares through a site I built over 10 years ago and the whole package is simple to use and has many of the options of bigger WordPress builds. You can upgrade your account from a lower package at any time to include a Shop and the annual cost is just under £150 for their Shop Builder package at time of writing and that’s all you pay (apart from your Domain Name).

#5 WYSIWYG Editing

Last but definitely not least, ‘What You See is What You Get’ editing makes updating your Create.net site a dream! Many of my clients are technophobes and if faced with strange looking codes would freak out at having to change their sites. But with a WYSIWYG interface, my clients can simply edit text and view their changes as it will look when published. It’s something my clients really appreciate and even the least technical of them can deal with – without having to call me to make small changes to their site.

What’s Not-so-Good?

All website builders have limitations, so it would be remiss of me to avoid these. In my opinion, the two biggest issues Create.net has are:

No Email

While Create doesn’t provide mailboxes – you can forward emails to your current address using alias addresses which is great for most clients, but you’ll need to add on your own email through G Suite or similar if you want to have a dedicated business email address. This isn’t hard to solve, but is something to be aware of.

Blogging Feature isn’t Great

If you’ve used WordPress or similar and are used to creating gorgeous blog posts with the ability to share them to different parts of your site, then Create.net can be a little disappointing. Whilst there is a blogging feature, it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of WordPress and you get a simple chronological feed of articles. There are still categories and tags, but it feels more clunky than other blog-focused builders.

In summary, Create.net is still my preferred solution for clients who want something stylish and simple to self-manage and I recommend you take a look at what they have to offer if you need a new website and feel happy building it yourself. Take a look at my post ‘Can I Build My Own Website?‘ to see if this is right for you.

And, you know where I am if you need my help!

Web Goddess

Note: this post contains affiliate links to Create.net and keep in mind that I may receive commissions when you click these and make a purchase. However, this does not impact my review of this product. My review above is based on my own continued use of this product and I try my best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

What the Font!

What the Font!

A client of mine recently had her logo redesigned as part of rebranding her business. The new logo is bright and in colours that suit her and her brand. However, the designer has chosen a font that really doesn’t suit her or her business and has made it very clear in the branding guidelines that she needs to stick to it.

So, why is this such a problem?

Well, the fonts you choose for your brand and, therefore, all of your marketing materials and website help convey your vision and your message. It’s not that the font was a bad one, it’s just that it didn’t match her vision or her business. As someone who designs websites with my client’s vision at the forefront of all that I do, it felt like a massive oversight to me.

Which font should I use?

The first thing you really need to do is figure out who your ideal client is; if your business is pitched at high-end clients, then choose a font that oozes style and class; if your brand is modern and funky, choose fonts that convey this.

There are so many wonderful fonts available now that there is no excuse using Comic Sans for everything (don’t get me started on how much I hate that font), and there is no excuse for selecting something random without putting some thought into how it matches your brand.

Secondly, it has to be readable on every type of media – from business cards and letters to websites and social media. It will become a huge part of your brand identity so choose wisely.

Sans Serif or Serif?

 

Sans Serif fonts, like Helvetica, convey a modern feel and lack the extra strokes at the ends of letters (hence ‘sans’ Serif), whereas Serif fonts, such as the classic Times New Roman, are more traditional and professional. Each family of fonts has hundreds of choices so once you have decided which family to choose there are endless possibilities.

You may even choose to use both – a Serif for headings and a Sans Serif for content. As long as you stick to these throughout your materials then your brand will be consistent. It’s important to avoid font overload though, so sticking to two or three fonts at most is recommended.

What next?

Well. for my client this means a redesign of her new logo to better suit her vision. For you, it means getting clear on your own vision so that you can choose fonts that match it right from the start. A great place to have a play with fonts and see how they look together is Canva – it’s free to register an account and they have some great design tutorials to help you put fonts and colours together.

And my final advice is that you have to like the font you choose! There is no point going with someone else’s choice then realising a month or two down the line that you hate it! Trust your intuition and have fun choosing your fonts!

Web Goddess

Can I Build My Own Website?

Can I Build My Own Website?

So, you’re running a business and the next step is to create a website.

The question is:

Can I build that website myself?

And the simple answer is YES – of course you can!

There are some amazing website builder packages out there that I recommend and use for my clients. My favourite two are Create and Squarespace, depending on what my clients actually need their website to do.

But before you hurry off and buy a domain and get cracking, I want you to ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Do I want to design the site myself
  2. Do I enjoy learning new skills and keeping those skills up to date?
  3. Can I spare the time to build the site myself?
  4. Do I know how to build a website that converts visitors to customers?
  5. Can I solve and technical issues that arise?

If you answered YES to most of these questions then off you pop and I hope that you enjoy the challenge of building a great site – I love it and I know you will too!

If, however, you have answered NO to even some of these questions then I would argue that outsourcing your website will actually pay dividends in the long term. It will also free you up to spend time in your business doing the bits you really love.

And, if after answering these questions you are still confused about whether to hire someone or not, ask for some advice. Contact a few different website companies and ask colleagues who already have websites for their thoughts on the best way to go. The more questions you ask BEFORE creating a website the better.

My niche is working with clients who want to have control over their sites once they are launched but need help with getting the site launched in the first place. Here’s what one of my clients has said about this option:

WG Testimonial - Wear it Baby

If you need any help deciding or just want some honest obligation-free advice then please get in touch.

 

Why Website Content is Key

Why Website Content is Key

It is so easy to get caught up in branding and sleek design when creating a website – and a business for that matter – but without the right content on your site it really won’t matter how professional it looks. That’s not to say that bad design is OK either, because the way it looks will catch the attention of potential customers. However, if they are going to stay on your site, there really has to be something of value to keep them interested and convince them that you are the person or company they want to work with. And only content can do that.

SEARCH ENGINES LOVES CONTENT

Or to be more precise, search engines love relevant and freshly updated content. Did you know that according to a Netcraft January 2018 Web Server Survey there are over 1.8 billion websites online? But of these, only a very small proportion are actually active or updated regularly. The easiest way of keeping your own site active is to write a blog and add posts regularly. Each new post becomes a new gateway to your website and gives search engines relevant topics and text to crawl. This will ultimately help your site rank higher in searches and give you a platform to show your expertise in the area you are trying to get business in. And if you have a clear idea of your target audience then this task becomes infinitely simpler to achieve, but if you still struggle for ideas on what to post, check out my list of 50 Awesome Blog Ideas – see you can even blog about blogging!

OVERSHARING IS GOOD

Some marketing gurus will insist that hiding details from visitors and only offering them answers once they click and sign up to your email list is the way to go. However, if you’ve got an overflowing inbox and little time to read through five emails a day telling you why you need to buy from someone, then employing this tactic won’t win you any new clients. I’m all for oversharing on my website and giving as many details about my services as possible – including prices. Why? Because if people see how much I charge upfront, they can make a decision there and then if they think my services are worth it to them. And sharing ‘secrets’ about web design via my blog may empower some readers to build their websites themselves but they are not my ideal clients anyway and I am thrilled that they want to learn a new skill and go it alone.

GRAPHICS AND VIDEO

Content isn’t just words – your images and videos are content too. So branding and keeping your visual content relevant is also important. It also helps break up long pieces of text so that readers don’t feel overwhelmed with long blog posts or pages on your website. I’m a big fan of Canva and use it to create all of my images (including the one below) but whatever image software you use, try to make the images your own and steer clear of stock images wherever possible. Branding your visual content is important

USE SOCIAL MEDIA

All that content you create in the form of blog posts and tips about your own industry can and should be shared via social media. You are creating a library of specialist information when you write a blog and sharing it with as wide an audience as possible is what social media is there for. So, share that post you’ve just written across Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and get your message out there. Oh, and don’t forget to share blog posts more than once. Not everyone will see your post the first time and if the content is evergreen there is nothing stopping you sharing it time and time again across your social media channels. So, what are you going to do to make your content stand out and keep your website active?

Web Goddess

Why Outsource Your Website?

Why Outsource Your Website?

You’ve made the leap to go self-employed or you already run a small business – hooray!! Welcome to the most amazing ride of your life…

What you may not have counted on when you went solo was the multiplication of skills required. Not only are you now doing the thing you love, the reason for your business, but you are now also the boss, administrator, customer service representative, accountant, web designer, publicist, sales manager, and chief coffee maker! It can all seem overwhelming and as your business grows and I hate to tell you, it’s only going to get worse.

At some point, you are going to need to look at outsourcing one or more parts of your business if you’re going to maintain your sanity.

You may have already decided that you need to do this, and I’m here to explain why I believe that outsourcing your website is one of the best things you can do for your business (unless, of course, you’re a web designer). I outsource something I don’t like doing, but you’ll have to read through to the end to find out what that is – and you probably won’t guess unless you’ve read my bio.

So, here are my top three reasons why you should outsource your website:

TECHNOLOGY KEEPS CHANGING

"The only constant in the technology industry is change." - Marc BenioffIt doesn’t matter what industry you are in, times change. But in the field of technology the pace is relentless. Only 15 years ago I was teaching people to create websites using Microsoft FrontPage with scrolling text!

Since November 2017, we’ve seen mobiles and overtake desktops as people’s preferred means of surfing the web so mobile responsivity isn’t just something that would be nice for your website, it’s a must-have.

Companies like Google (who were relatively unheard of when I first started working – anyone remember Ask Jeeves??) are now part of the English language. Did you know that to ‘google’ is now officially a verb in the English Oxford dictionary? The power of this enormous company also means that your ranking on their search engine is completely down to their algorithms – which they can change at a moment’s notice.

And the speed of change is only going to continue. Do you want to keep on top of all of the changes – or do you want to have someone who loves the changes and will do the work for you?

THINGS GO WRONG

I spend as much of my time creating new websites for clients as I do rescuing clients from old websites that have gone wrong. This is usually for one of two reasons:

  1. They have built it themselves and not looked at it since it was published way back in 2005 (see my point about technology keeps changing!).
  2. They have entrusted it to a web designer who promised the earth but delivered manure.

As with everything you do for your business, take the time to get quotes and interview different web designers. We’re not all created equal and you need to make sure you have a great working relationship with your designer and that they really ‘get’ you and your business.

Then, when things go wrong (notice I say WHEN not IF), you will have someone you can call who will calmly sort it out for you because they speak technobabble…

FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS

I am a huge fan of focussing on your strengths and not trying to be everything to everyone. This has taken me a very long time to figure out but I am pleased to say that with the help of Marcus Buckingham and his Strengths Revolution I now know what I’m awesome at and what I should really leave to someone else (who is awesome at what I’m not).

“Strengths are not activities you’re good at, they’re activities that strengthen you. A strength is an activity that before you’re doing it you look forward to doing it; while you’re doing it, time goes by quickly and you can concentrate; after you’ve done it, it seems to fulfill a need of yours.” – Marcus Buckingham

If you want to figure out what your strengths are, then I highly recommend taking the Strengths Finder test. It confirmed what I already knew about myself and helped me clarify my business and personal life – and stop worrying about what I’m not good at.

In terms of your website this is really important. If you don’t LOVE logging into your website and updating it or taking time to check the colours or the coding then you should really consider giving the work to someone who does. Like me!

It will free you up to do the things you’re actually great at and bring even greater success to your business. Time is money when it comes to running your business so instead of looking at the cost of a new website and cringing, think about how many hours of YOUR time getting a website built for you will free up.

 

So what do I outsource? Have you guessed?

Yup, it’s my gardening. OK, so it’s not a part of my busines, but I’m a solopreneur who also happens to be a single mum and committed volunteer – and I HATE gardening with a passion. It’s not one of my strengths but I adore a lovely looking garden. Thankfully I’ve found someone who LOVES it so I get to work to my strengths and so does she…

And, if you’ve already outsourced part of your business – or something at home – I’d love to know what it is…

Web Goddess

 

 

Your Business Needs a Website

Your Business Needs a Website

OK, I’m a Web Designer so you would be right in thinking that I believe that every business needs a website. Duh!

To be honest, I am actually amazed when people I meet ask me if they need a website at all. I guess I just figure that everyone accepts that they do – but that’s clearly not the case.

I believe that every business needs a website because I know that without one your business is missing a key marketing component that can’t always be measured by SEO or sales conversions. And if you’ve already got one and don’t think it’s working for you, then this post may help you realise just how much your website is doing for you too.

Case Study: M.H. Vehicle Services

Recently, one of my clients contacted me about updating their website. The M.H. Vehicle Services website has been live for 3 years (a bit of a shock to all of us) and since then I’ve only made one update. It was a simple build to replace a website that wasn’t really doing anything for them and they are a successful family-run garage business that you wouldn’t actually think needs any further advertisement. The website they have doesn’t cost a lot to maintain (under £100 per year) and I was called in to update their address and add a couple of pages to the site to reflect a physical move to new premises and add some new services. Standard stuff.

And while I was there Matt (head mechanic and owner) confirmed that clients told him they look at the website and compare the photo of their garage with the building when they arrive to know they have found the right place. His wife Gill, administrator extraordinaire, admitted that people also say they look at the website before they call. Even without massive updates, this site provides potential clients with proof that the business exists and that they provide services that these customers are looking for.

So, here are my Top 5 Reasons your business needs a website:

#1 – YOU ARE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE

Let’s put it this way, if I can’t find a website for a company I’m looking to work with, or to do work for me, then I usually don’t bother going any further. The website doesn’t even need to be fantastic. It just needs to tell me that the business is what it says it is. I go for honesty and the more detail the better. Links to social media are good too as it shows they are interested in communicating in real-time. It really frustrates me when I know a business can’t be bothered to have even a basic site.

#2 – 24/7 VISIBILITYWebsites promote you 24/7: No employee will do that - Paul Cookson

People surf the web at all hours. You never know when you customers are going to be online. What about shift-workers or insomniacs? Getting your message out 24/7 is one of the most powerful tools your business has if you use it correctly.

#3 – OWNERSHIP

Social media is great but if a platform goes bust or changes their algorithm so no-one sees your stuff anymore then you can’t do anything about it. Your website is YOURS. You own it. You make the decisions you want to make about what it includes. Your website is your hub for all online interaction so it doesn’t matter what the next big platform is – you’ll have content to share to it.

#4 – WEED OUT TIMEWASTERS

The best part about having your own website? You get to share the stuff that’s most important to you. Swear if you want to, use bright colours, share your personality. All of this gives your clients an insight into who you are and helps you weed out those who don’t. You may think that this cuts off your supply of potential clients but it is actually the opposite. If you create a website that you are proud of and it turns someone off then that’s great. You don’t need to waste time on people who don’t fit with you. Better to find out upfront than to be 3 months into a business relationship and find out that you really don’t jell.

#5 – IT GIVES YOU AN EDGE

There are plenty of businesses out there that still don’t have a website – and those that do but haven’t updated it for donkeys years. They don’t think it’s important or they are still living in the age of the Yellow Pages. Move with the times and get ahead of others in your industry. Create a website that people want to visit. If two businesses are up for a job and one doesn’t have a site or their site isn’t great then they are more likely to be dismissed without even knowing it. Your website gives you an edge that you may never really fully measure.

So, are you convinced yet? If you don’t have a website yet then please look at getting one with urgency if you want your business to succeed. And give me a yell if you would like some obligation free advice on the best way forward for you.

Web Goddess