One of the great things about working freelance is that you are never quite sure about where your work will take you. 2 weeks ago I was in Cheshire and more recently I’ve been helping out a business that is literally just around the corner from me.
Creative Cakes by Nicola is a Cwmbran based business that specialises in bespoke and quite fantastic cakes. I was contacted by the Nicola who runs the company because I was local and flexible we had a meeting and decided that we could work together. The Creative Cakes web site already existed but it needed to be slightly refreshed and there was need to add more pages and more photographs to it. Additionally like all web sites it would need frequent updating.
I’ve worked with Nicola to work out how the existing content management system worked so that more images could be added, and how to perform essential tasks like adding pages, and making updates to text and images.
I have to say that I have enjoyed this stint of working locally and also want to wish Creative Cakes all the best for their future.
And as for the cakes … well having sampled the wares I can confirm that they are delicious.
I’d just like to take moment to mention the Centre for Business. This is a business support agency that over the last 30 years has helped to create over 10,000 businesses and supports over 8000 existing businesses. These are pretty big numbers, but this is not a case of get lots of numbers and hope for the best. Its a case of help lots of businesses because the quality of service is good.
Part of my work involves finding good things and passing on the good news.
So why not take a look at the recently upgraded Centre for Business web site – there is a lot of good material here – hope you find something of use for your business here.
You might wonder why I am endorsing Centre for Business. Well a couple of things have happened that reminded me that this was something that needed to happen. To start with I have received first class advice over the years from their business advisors. The second one is that I have been working directly with the Centre for Business on a number of projects and as a result I know that they work hard on the behalf of their clients and finally – the recent web site update – which I find clear and easy to use prompted to think – perhaps I should write this piece.
Petals Training have a new and additional website. Whilst the original Petals Training Web Site continues to thrive this new site focuses on a fuller description of the expertise of the members of the Petals Training Team. You see each member of Petals Training is a first class train the trainer, but also has and additional area of specialism. These include IT, Business Skills, Personal Development, Complementary Therapies and Health and Safety. As you can see this is an impressive list that deserves space of its own.
For this project we decided to base the new web site on the original Petals Training theme. Keeping things like menu design and base typography but changing some layout options – for example the left and right hand columns have been removed. In doing this it was possible to create a web site that looked like part of the same family of web sites but which had enough of it’s own identity to better support the new set of services. From a development and budget point of view this greatly cut down on time and cost.
The site is built on a content management system, features are responsive design theme and creates a network of web sites between all the activities run by the members of Petals Training .
If you run a small business I just want you to spend a moment taking a look at this short article on the IT Donut Web Site.
My apologies for the long link – but all you need to do is click.
It cites recent research that highlights two problems.
- Micro and small business typically have 5 unchanging pages on their web site that do not represent the company.
- Most people would not do business with a company that has an out of date or hard to use web site.
The solution to this problem is to get a managed web site and to make frequent updates.
This is traditionally seen as being very expensive and out of the reach of a small business.
This is actually not necessarily true. There are some very cost effective methods of achieving this.
Here are 3 steps that would help solve the problem of an out of date website.
Update your web site to being content managed using an open source content management system. This removes software costs from the equation whilst still delivering you a high quality experience.
Put time aside to think about news information that your customers will find interesting. Write these down ready for inclusion on your web site. The same is also true for any information about your company or products. By clearly writing these down you are saving money and time with a web developer
Find a friendly freelance web site developer who is willing to make updates for you for a low fee based on your notes.
The key to solving the problem of a bad web site is to keep things current. It is something that sounds impossible – but is actually not to bad once you get a good working practice going.
This seems to have been a week of rebranding – and its only Tuesday.
This week Flexible Solutions received a new logo that brought the design work for the company in line with other members of the Fast Fluid Power Family of web sites. Branding like this is a vital part of letting people understand who you are so it was important for Flexible Solutions to receive its new logo.
From my point of view that meant optimising the logo for web uses and making changes to both the Flexible Solutions and Fast Fluid Power web sites in a timely and accurate fashion.
This kind of maintenance work is absolutely essential for all web sites. It’s important that sites reflect the current branding and personality of their owning company. Its also important that changes are made to a web site to make sure it is accurate, and current. Web sites are living breathing creatures that work best for their owners when updates are made. It is good for customers to see the changes and it is good for the search engines to see a site developing – it lets them know that it is important and not just an abandoned document left to float on the web. So from my point of view it is always good to be involved in this type of work.
From a businesses point of view – its a good idea to be able to develop a good relationship with your web person so that arranging updates is easy. I have to say its always been really easy working with the team at Fast – and its great to run updates from that point of view.
Existing customers – LARP Safety Ltd recently came to me for assistance with a rebranding exercise. The idea was to update the company logo to better the reflected how the company is today; once the logo was updated the new look and colour scheme was to be used as the basis for creating a new web site and all new company paper work.
After some thought the new logo was finalised during a Lync session – both L&RP Safety and myself are big believers in using conferencing and communication software such as Lync or Skype. The rich communication these provide – being able to view screens, and video for example make these online meetings highly interactive and valuable. Removing the need for travel time for either party also allows us to fit more into our diaries, but lets get back on point and talk about the web site.
Once the new look was created we decided on a typography heavy web site that clearly and simply expresses what L&RP is all about as a company. The opportunity was also undertaken to update the CMS and introduce new policies and techniques for site maintenance – allowing for a more efficient maintenance schedule in the future. This is important as part of the site is designed to aggregate health and safety news feeds- meaning that this web site could end up handling more information than a typical consultancy catalogue site.
The end result is a new look for the company, a very easy to use web site and a plan for keeping things going in the future. This is something that anyone looking for a new web site should be targeting; not just having a web site built but figuring out how to run content and software updates after the web site is finished. All web sites should have on-going care and attention and it is good to work with a client who values long term planning.
Keystrokes Training have just received a web site theme design update. The new look is designed to be crisp, clear and easy to read on both a PC and a mobile device. All existing page content has been kept the same – one of the advantages of a theme change is that changes to existing content are minimised and all existing page links are maintained.
Part of the new design was to update the navigation. There is a plan to grow the Key Strokes web site – coming soon there will be a live list of planned courses with venue information. In light of this site menus were modified to give a better experience. This new planned courses system is not yet operational, but I will announce it here as soon as it is.
The third and final design consideration was Petals Training. Keystrokes Training is a member of the Petals Training association of trainers and it was important that the new design for the Keystrokes web site reflected the look and feel of Petals Training as part of a branding exercise.
I wish all the best to Keystrokes Training. This is definitely a site to keep an eye on as its owner is determined to do all he can to make sure the standards of IT and Train the Trainer courses in South Wales are kept to a high standard.
First a disclaimer. I have an interest in Microzone Wales it is web site that I work on. I’m also the kind of business that it is designed to assist. This gives me a twofold interest in the site.
That said if you are a Microbusiness in Wales then this is a site you should be looking at. I’d better explain what a Microbusiness is defined as being. This is a small business turning over less than £100,000. To register as a Microbusiness you also have less than 3 staff members.
So what do you get? Well how does free banking, legal advice and access to events and information from the South Wales Chamber of Commerce sound. Its not a bad combination. It covers the basis of professional services that can be expensive for small businesses to access.
The site itself is a venture between the South Wales Chamber of Commerce and the Centre for Business who have teamed to provide the first business support facility the smallest of businesses in Wales. The hope is to encourage the growth and activity of business in Wales.
Personally I applaud this step forwards. There are a lot of very small businesses and they do deserve good support and its an idea with great potential.