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.
Sometimes I work on Government funded projects and sometimes the client is much smaller. This is about a much smaller client. One of my longest standing and most regular customers is closely associated with the Abergavenny Kickboxing club. Abergavenny Kickboxing is doing well – its members are winning National Level competitions. As a result the club felt that it needed its own website. They had a small budget for graphic and web design but weren’t sure how to get started.
They asked my for help and we together we came up with a plan. It broke down into these steps
- Based on an existing logo we’d create a new logo and top banner from the club
- Existing flyers would be repurposed as part of the sites graphic design and placed in a rotating banner.
- We’d use an open source CMS as the page foundation – one that club members had little experience with.
- We’d take an existing open source theme and make a few changes that would make it more suitable for use on the clubs web site.
- Club members would edit the web pages.
The result would be something that matched the club needs, be quick to develop and stay in a tight budget.
In effect what we’d done is make use of one modern computings most wondrous things. Open source software – something that cannot be sold but which can be legally modified. It creates nothing less than a vast reserve of opportunity from which growth and progression can happen. In this case it’s helping a successful club grow by allowing the construction of a low cost web.
Its also true for small business. You do not need to design everything from scratch. You can save money and time by adapting what exists to suit yourself. The end result can be effective and offer a useful experience to your users / customers.
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.