Bootstrap

A Website is no longer a static plain page containing some text, a picture or two and not much colour. We expect more, we want more bells and whistles from our Websites. Bootstrap is a Mobile First Framework for designing Website using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

HTML is used to create content on Websites, CSS is responsible for the layout and JavaScript for the dynamic content. HTML5 became the Web Standard in October 2014. It has enhanced support for multimedia.

A modern Website is created using HTML, CSS and Javascript. These can be hand written separately for each separate project, which is long and tedious. A smart developer will keep a library of the most commonly used code used to speed things up. This is where Bootstrap comes in. It is a comprehensive library that allows you to choose from code snippets to create a Website.

What does this mean for you, the client? Sites are created quicker using the latest standards. Unlike CMS Websites (WordPress) that live in the cloud, the original files remain on the developer’s PC (unless he hands them over to you,) however many WordPress themes are now built using Bootstrap.

Bootstrap is not really client friendly and I use it only for my own projects and those that I control on behalf of my client. But is a very powerful platform to use when creating professional work.

WordPress DOT ORG

I mentioned in the previous article, that WordPress comes in two flavours. You can use the free self hosted version or you could use the also free version you host yourself.

Let me be frank, free Websites and Do It Yourself Websites have their limitations. For a Website to perform in the manner you want it to, it needs to be under your control, or the person you pay to manage it.

Websites, themselves are created using a variety of coding languages, from HTML to PHP or ASP, then throw in some JQuery or Javascript and it becomes complicated even before you mention mySQL Your average plumber or accountant may not have time to absorb all of this and still do his job.

So, you get a developer to create your Website for you. But you are soon going to face two important factors in any business, out of date information and the cost of updating the Website.

WordPress to the rescue! WordPress is Content Management System or CMS. This means that once set up on the server, anybody with the right credentials and access the back end from anywhere, using any computer and update the content.

WordPress has a large community behind it and frequent software and security updates are released.

One thing about the Internet, tastes change and what may be a really great Website today, may not be in a years time. by using either a free or paid for theme to re-skin your Website, you can fresh up your Website’s appearance in minutes. You can use free or paid for plugins to extend the functionality of your Website, so with a few tweaks and within minutes you can have a completely new Website at little or no cost.

Having experimented with various other CMSs, I prefer WordPress for customer projects as it is very easy and straightforward for anybody to use.

Your own Website on your own server, using WordPress and you have a serious advantage over your competition.

WordPress DOT COM

There are many free do it yourself Websites and Blogging platforms available to you. Some good, some mediocre. WordPress is different, it come in two very distinct flavours.

WordPress DOT COM is a free hosted Website or Blog and WordPress DOT ORG allows you to download the software free to use on our own serve.

So what is WordPress? It is a Content Management System that you can access from any computer, anywhere in the world, as long as you have a working Internet connection.

So why should you choose WordPress DOT COM instead of any of the other free Do It Yourself options. Because, when you outgrow free, and trust me – as a business you will outgrow free, you transition to the WordPress that lives on your own server, is quick and easy.

Like every free do it yourself Website, you get the free base package and the paid premium package. The free package is perfectly ok and if you find yourself considering the premium package, you know it is time to move to your own server, where you get more control.

The only disadvantage of the free package is that you get a subdomain – yourname@wordpress.com. Of course you can register a Domain through them at a fee or point your own existing domain to the Website, again at a fee. But that is really the only paid option you should consider.

So what happens when you feel it is time to move, WordPress can move your existing site or blog to a self hosted setup for a fee or you can simply redirect people to your new site.

You cannot make the move and expect that your existing audience will automatically follow you. You need to tell them that you are moving (how else will they know.) If you have a mailing list, send them a newsletter telling them about the move and the benefits it will have for them.

Your very last post need to be redirecting them to the new address and and what the benefit is for them. Tempt them with a freebie or a discount.

Just a little of planning and things will go smoothly.

Joomla

Joomla Default Template

Joomla Default Template

Web Design and Development has changed over time with Websites becoming more dynamic. One way of avoiding having to hire a developer to create you a dynamic site from scratch, which be expensive, is to use Content Management System or CMS.* This also has the advantage that should want to, you can manage the content yourself, saving the cost of having to hire someone to manage it for you

The two most popular CMS available are WordPress and Joomla. They are both Open Source and have large community supporting them. Whilst WordPress is by far the most popular, Joomla has its merits.

A plus is that Joomla is Mobile Friendly out of the box – very important in today’s mobile drive Internet.

Joomla is not as easy to work with out of the box, like WordPress**, it involves a bit of a learning curve but becomes quite easy once you have mastered the basics. There are many How to’s and Tutorials published by the Joomla Community to help you get started.

Whilst it is possible to add a Blog to Joomla, I would not use it as a Blogging Platform. I would use it for Websites where I would manage the content that needed changing regularly.

Joomla makes use of Extensions to increase the functionality of the Website, this is similar to the Plugins and Widgets you get in WordPress.

My preference will always be WordPress to use as a CMS for client projects, but i am impressed by Joomla and would certainly use it for certain projects.

*The Website Backend lives on the server (or in the cloud) and thus allows access from any computer anywhere in the world.

**Wordpress is covered in a later article

The One Page Website

One page Mobile Friendly Website

One page Mobile Friendly Website

Websites have come a long way from When I started out in the Industry/ From a plain white background with plain black text to all the bells and whistles one finds on Websites today. Possibly the most import aspect of the evolution Websites have undergone, is the amount of creativity that one sees in modern Websites.

We see Websites in much the same way as we do paper magazines and books, as pages which we turn over. But look at your Internet Browser – you can scroll sideways or down and back up. Next open a Website on your phone – mobile friendly sites scroll down.

So the questions to ask is – why not have everything on one page? One reason that we do not build Websites as many one page is because we hate scrolling, especially sideways to get to the end of the line.

Another reason is that even the smallest Website has a fair amount of Information that they want to get across. To serve up the information in sizable chunks and cut down on scrolling you would use a static navigation either at the top or on the side and jump to that part of the page.

By using the navigation to move around means you can add all the extras you would add to any other Website – an example of this is the Website I made for Coeur de Leon Guesthouse that has a slider at the top and a interactive rooms a guide.

I have to confess, my One Page Websites have additional pages – I do add the boring but necessary legal stuff on a separate page but the core Website is on one page.

I did another simpler Website for Abafazi Logistics Management, again with the core information on one page and the boring add ons separately.

Whilst it is possible to create every Website in this manner, large Website could prove to be awkward and should there be developed in the traditional way.

The OnePager Website that I offer can be used for just about any type of Website but is ideal for Small Businesses just starting out and wanting to establish their presence on the Internet. Expanding the Website or even changing it to a multi page Website or at a later stage is easy enough.

Want to find out more and get your own OnePager – click here

The Business Card Website

In the same way the Business card that you carry around in your wallet and hand out when you meet a prospective client, a Business card site introduces you and your Business to the World.

The Business Card Website serves the multiple purpose of:

  • establishing your presence on the Internet;
  • providing you with custom eMail address;
  • telling the world who you are;
  • and where they can find you.

A Business Card Website, should not be confused with a free directory entry, whilst these serve the purpose of sending you business, you do not control them. Your Business Card Website is yours and you have the final say of what it contains and how it looks.

Who need one? The Internet is no longer the playground of the few. Smartphones have brought the Internet with reach of all. This means that even tradesmen like plumbers or electricians, who sell their services locally, could be searched for online. You phone is often close at hand and you do not have to go looking for your copy of the yellow pages (if you even have one.)

Normally the design and layout of such a Website would be simple, but of course customisation, depending your taste, is possible. The content is fairly standard:

  • Your name
  • Your service or product
  • Your hours of operation
  • Your address, and
  • Your phone number

The Internet has changed the way we do most things and keeps evolving. it is possible in the future that a Business Card Website will be expanded into a bigger site. Taking a real world example, you already own the plot, you are simply extending your property.

By registering your Domain now before it becomes unavailable and using a customised email address, you are already stealing a march on your opposition.

Stay out of Trouble

A lot of small businesses operate informally. They deal in cash, do not use banks and do not pay tax. This is acceptable up to a point.  Take the guy selling fruit at the traffic lights. Whatever he gets paid will go towards resupply and supporting himself. He does not need a bank account and the tax man will ignore

But go one level up to the guy who has a job but does side jobs o his own to time. Usually he will pocket the cash and not declare to the tax man. But somewhere along the line, he or she may take on a project for a company that needs a bank account so they can pay and before they pay they need formal paperwork.Operating under the radar now becomes more difficult, but is still possible.

Then one day the guy who has been moonlight decide to go into business. Now, there are two types of business – one that succeeds and grows and one that fails. So now operating under the radar becomes more difficult and in some cases impossible.

Business will always make the best customers because they have the money to pay for your service or product, but that have procedures in place and will require a proper invoice and because a great many countries have sales tax, they will need something more from you. Keep in mind, they will pay tax on their profits, so being able to prove their expenses to the tax man is important to your customers.

There is another very important reason for Small Business to comply legally – Governments provide assistance to Small Business, in the form of training and finance. In South Africa, i have to provide a tax certificate in order to get State assistance for my business and I am sure most countries would have such a rule in place.

But if you think that the tax man is the only one you need to keep happy, think again. Your customers have a variety of laws they can use to cause you much grief. There are Privacy Laws, there are Consumer Protection Laws, there are laws that govern IT.

Know what laws affect you and how they affect you is a major part of running your business. Law is a complex subject and one are where you need to get professional advice. There are books available, there are Websites available but these can only serve as a guide and rather that make an incorrect assumption, use a lawyer to find out what applies to your business.

Laws are there for the protection of all, including you. You will stay out of trouble only if you know what your rights are, what your client is entitled.

Facebook won’t cut it, you need a Website

I often get told by prospective clients, “Why do I need a Website, Facebook does all of that and is free.” My answer to this, “Facebook belongs to Facebook, your website belongs to you.”

Think about it, Facebook is a business, and in order to make money, Facebook sells advertising. Nothing wrong with that, right? Wrong again, Facebook would rather you see their advertising and does not care if you never find out about little Johnny’s upcoming concert. Like Google, Facebook serves up what they think is best for you.

You and only you control what is on your Website. Even if you pay a developer, like myself to do it for you, you control the money. But it goes further, they content remains on the site until you change it, it does not get pushed to the bottom as someone adds a post.

Consumers are smart, often knowing more about a product through their research, than the salesman does. The Internet allows consumers to get information they need to make a decision. They will get this from Websites, Consumer Forums and yes, from Social Media Posts.

Your Website plays a very important part in this process, it needs to have the information they need, it must be easy to navigate on both their mobile device and on their desktop. It also need to be search engine friendly in order to served as one of the top results, or at least on the first page of search.

Take control of your Online Marketing with a 5 Page Website that you can update and add to at no extra cost

Hosting your Website.

A Website is an investment in your future. Forget about cost, rather look at the potential income the Website will generate over time. Income that will protect your business investment and that will allow you to live comfortably.

Let me put it another way, your Website is an important part of your Marketing.

All this means is, that you cannot trust it to whatever is the cheapest available hosting around. i know cost is important, but if your Website is never available due to server downtimes or even worse, you have run out of bandwidth – the saving you get from using the wrong Hosting Provider, has the potential to destroy your Business.

So what do you need from a Professional Hosting Provider?

  • Enough Space for your Website Files (I give you at least 500mb*)
  • Enough Bandwidth for your Website can always be found online (I give you at least 1Gb*)
  • 99 Percent Uptime Guarantee – that is why I have partnered one of the top 3 US Hosts
  • Data Driven Website Software
  • Your Own Control Panel
  • Anything from 1 to as many as you need eMail addresses
  • and of course, Service
  • and let’s not forget, Affordability

Professional Website Hosting from R15.00/USD1.50 per Month

Choosing your Website’s Domain Name

Small Business must have a Brand that stands out. Several elements make up your brand. Your Domain Name is one of those elements.

Your Domain Name serves as your Address on the Internet. The care you took when choosing a name for your business should also go into choosing a Domain name.

The first thing you need to consider is where is your target market. If they are in South Africa, you should choose a DOT COZA suffix, if they are International try for a DOT COM. Maybe they are in Italy, then choose DOT IT.

The next step is the actual Domain Name. First prize is using your Business Name, but you may be trading as Bill Harper Plumbing in Port Elizabeth and there is another Bill Harper in East London, and he is also a plumber and already owns billharperplumbing.co.za leaving you with the options – harperplumbing.co.za or billharper.co.za.

But what if these are also taken and maybe the DOT COMS for these are also taken. There are other options, for example DOT ME or DOT BIZ and if he wants the Internet equivalent of Vanity Licence Plates for vehicles, DOT PLUMBING.

How important is having the right Domain Name? Your Domain Name is part of your Branding, so it needs to be relevant, as well as being memorable and most important easy to spell.

Because Websites are a good way to learn about a business – people will ask you for your Website address and then look you up at the first possible opportunity by typing in the address you gave them.

Search Engines have become smarter and are likely to give you the site you are looking for, provided it has been optimised for search. Search Engines will give you what they believe to be the best result, based on their criteria- so typing in a Domain Name (if you have it) may still give you the best result.

Choose care fully – your Domain is your address in Cyberspace and could just as easily end up on the wrong side of the tracks as not.