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Published on July 26, 2013, by in CMS, Random.

As you may have read in our previous blog post, Our Website Design Agency – How the CMS changed Everything, we talked about how the CMS changed the web agency/client relationship. A website design client no longer has to keep going back to their developer for every single web update.

A huge number of websites are designed, developed, handed over to the client and never touched again by the website design agency, even if the website is updated on a regular basis.

The is a hands on and cost saving innovation for the client, but a huge blow to website design agencies and the repeat business levels. After all, updating a website that has already successful gone through the tricky design sign off stage, is often easy money.

Website design agencies are having to come up with new ideas and approaches to earn repeat business from their clients. Here are a few choice suggestions from us:

Offer additional services

As a website design agency, our skills go way beyond website design and development. Design being the key word. We can offer our clients e-newsletters, business card design and printing services, posters and flyer design, letterhead designs and even invoicing documents.

Business advice for start ups

A large number of our clients are start-ups. Many clients are dipping their toe into the self-employed world for the first time and are open and grateful for advice on a business level rather than just website design. We offer our clients a consultancy service on all matters involving setting up a small business and getting it off the ground. After all, we were in that position no so long ago.

Keep regular contact

Even if a client no longer requires your services because they are completely at ease with the CMS, there will come a time where the website will require updating beyond the capabilities of the CMS, such as a template design improvement or a functionality requirement. Keeping the relationship with the client will often pay off in the long run. Send occasional friendly emails enquiring if business is going well and the website is performing. Send them email updates about your companies progress, or even a Christmas card in the post. Another reason to keep in contact with such clients is because most of them will be entrepreneurs, venturing into many businesses which will require websites.

Do a good job!

It should go without saying, if you do a good job then the word of mouth will spread, your portfolio will improve and the clients will soon start flocking. If you take the attitude that there is no repeat business therefore you must churn out as many jobs as quickly as possible, often to the detriment of the individual project, then your business will undoubtedly fail.

In conclusion, website design is a cut throat industry and a real challenge for a small business to survive in, as are many industries in this time of global recession. We must change and adapt with the innovations, come up with fresh ideas to recur business from clients. But most importantly, continue to do great work that will catch the eye of others and bring new business to you, even if you are not earning so much recurring business.

 
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We are a London website design agency. We have watched the website design industry change over the years and have adapted to survive the highly competitive industry. One of the biggest shake ups of the industry came with the rapid rise in popularity of the Content Management System (CMS). Three industry leaders being WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.
The CMS changed three key elements in the website design industry:

  • The way in which website design agencies developed their websites
  • The introduction of low cost website design agencies and cheap website templates
  • Client expectations of their own website updating ability

Let’s look into these points in more detail.

The way in which website design agencies developed their websites.

Before the popularity of the CMS, website development used to be made up of predominantly HTML, PHP and CSS, with the occasionally Flash website thrown in for good measure. Although most CMS are predominantly made up of HTML, CSS and PHP, website design agencies are now starting the development process by coding a CMS template, having to work within the various syntaxes and rules set by the CMS, such as module positions and embedding via extensions rather than hard website coding.

The introduction of low cost website design agencies and cheap website templates.

A CMS allow for websites to be churned out in literally minutes. Website templates can be used again and again, copied and pasted onto web server. All you need to do is change the text and image and the website is your own. This evolution has resulted in many web agencies offering extremely low costs. More recently, website design agencies are offering the customer the ability to “build their own website” at impressive prices. Although these costs are incredibly competitive for website design agencies to compete with, CMS template and low cost agencies do not offer that sought after bespoke website design and custom brand identity. View our website design portfolio to see some of our bespoke website designs.

Client expectations of their own website updating ability.

In the past, a website design agency would design and develop a website for a client. When the client wanted to make an update, no matter how small, they would have to come back to the web design agency. Even if the client wanted to change a typo, the website design agency would have to process the request. This would often put the client in a corner. The web agencies would know that the client would be very unlikely to go elsewhere, so they could charge what they wanted. Now, however, times have changed, and for the better. Clients can log into their website CMS control panel and update content themselves. If the site is built correctly with the right

CMS, they can update text, images, menu items, video embeds and more.

In conclusion, yes the website design industry has changed massively over the past 10 years, especially with the introduction of the CMS. As with most industry changes, website design agencies must embrace the change, be forward thinking and innovative, rather than fighting it, otherwise they will crash and burn.

 
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As the managing director of Red 13 Website Design and an ex self-employed website designer/developer, I have hands-on experience in the great ‘Website Design Agency Vs Self-Employed Web Designer’ debate.

I spent the best part of 4 years as a solo website designer and developer. I had my own portfolio website, a few regular clients and a successful Google Adwords campaign. It quickly became apparent that my target market was clients in a similar position that I found myself in.

  • Self-employed individuals
  • Small businesses and SME
  • Start ups

I got the general impression that these types of clients found it easy to relate to me when discussing their website project. I would talk to them on the phone, coming across as a real person rather than a robotic sales man, often found at larger website design agencies.  I enjoyed discussing and offering advice on all matters of their business, not just the website design or website development.  Most clients would appreciate this approach and reward me with their project.

Although being highly personable and friendly often worked well with self-employed and small businesses, the same cannot be said for the bigger and corporate companies. These types of businesses are usually quite wary of small “one man band” website designers. They are looking for similarly big/corporate website design agencies. Obviously bigger companies have bigger websites which are often too large or complex to be handled by a single resource. Website design agencies will always win the bigger website design projects, and rightly so.

A general belief is that large website design agencies can turn projects around quicker, have more experience (as a combined group) and are more professional when dealing with large companies. From personal experience, I would generally agree with this. I have come across far more ‘dodgy’ individual website designers than website design agencies.

There are clear pros and cons for both self-employed website designers and website design agencies. As I have touched on in this article, I have found that most people/businesses tend to prefer to work with similar size companies as themselves. But this should not always be the case. The good thing about website designers or website design companies is that they will have their own website and online portfolio as a perfect reflection of their skills and quality of work. If a website designer/agency does not have an impressive website and portfolio themselves, then move on, quickly.

If your website project is not overly humongous, then don’t automatically dismiss the individual website designer, check out their previous work. If you are a small business or start-up, don’t be put off by the bigger web design agencies, give them a call and find out if their starter packages work for you.

Ideally you will find a website design agency with a personable and friendly approach that was spawned from the roots of a self-employed website designer/developer. I am proud to say that Red 13 Website Design is exactly that.

 
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Around 20% of our website customer calls open with a familiar tone: “We have been dealing with another website design company but we have come to the end of our tether”.

frustrated-website-design

Typical complaints will be something along the lines of:

  • The website design was nothing like the brief that we sent
  • They are charging unreasonable amounts for the smallest of web design changes
  • They are using boring, static website design templates with little allowance for custom web design
  • The website usability and functionality are terrible
  • The customer service is non-existent

From listening to at least one of these complaints per week, we have established that the problem usually lies with the sales person acting as the middle man between the client and the website design agency. These sales people often have zero website design or website development skills themselves and therefore offer the world, with little understanding of what the client actually needs or want from a website. They are simply a ‘yes man’. The other key problem with middle men with no website design/development experience is that they will struggle to communicate the client brief to their website designers and website developers.

If there is no direct communication between the website developer and the client, then the brief can be miscommunicated, resulting in a website that is nowhere near the clients’ requirements.

That is why it is important, as a client, to ask delving question to the person that you are communicating with from the website design/development agency. Ask them if they are the website designer or the website developer. Undertake a little website development research before enquiring and prepare a few testing questions.  Question them on HTML, CSS, a CSM system or specifically how they would go about the development of a specific element of the website.

Here at Red 13 Website Design, we do not have ‘sales people’; everyone in the company who deals with customer enquiries has excellent experience in both website design and/or website development. The briefs that our clients send us are perfectly communicated to our website designers and website developers, resulting in beautifully designed websites to the highest of standards as expected from our clients.

If you would like to speak with one of our website design/development experts, please contact us.

 
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Published on June 13, 2013, by in CMS.

We, like many other websites out there, discovered this week that our dynamic Twitter feed suddenly, without warning, went bust! It turns out that Twitter have updated their third party extensions access rules. In a nutshell, they are not allowing any third party access to their feeds unless the extensions use the official Twitter API, found at https://dev.twitter.com/apps/new

To quote Twitters ‘Rules of the Road’

“Twitter maintains an open platform that supports the millions of people around the world who are sharing and discovering what’s happening now. We want to empower our ecosystem partners to build valuable businesses around the information flowing through Twitter. At the same time, we aim to strike a balance between encouraging interesting development and protecting both Twitter’s and users’ rights.”

At Red 13 Website Design, we used to have the Joomla Extension twitter-roll-deluxe, which had a fancy auto scroll feature. When the API update struck, this extension disappeared. No support… nothing.  Most other Twitter feeds on the Joomla extension directory are not API compatible (yet). Although we have found one that is fully up to date and working well:

WDS Twitter Widget

It is easy to install, works perfectly and is easily customisable. Unfortunately it does not have the fancy auto scroll feature.

View the footer of Red 13 Website Design to see this Twitter feed in action.

 
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Hello World (as they say)!

Welcome to the long overdue Red 13 Website Design blog. We’ve been so so busy with various website design and development projects that we just haven’t had the time or resources to keep up a blog.

This week we have taken on a  new geek, welcome to the team Joe! Joe specialises in SEO and CMS development which will  not only boost this very blog but also lighten the load for the rest of us, allowing us to keep the blog posts consistent.

The purpose of this blog is to write informative, educating and hopefully interesting articles about all things website design, web development, logo design, SEO, e-commerce websites and more.

Our main website, Red 13 Website Design, already contains useful information on ourwebsite design services. This blog intends to offer a little more in-depth information. For example, we will be reviewing web design/development software and CMS extensions. We also aim to help assist fellow geeks suffering from those hair-pulling code nightmares.

Goodbye world!…(see you tomorrow)