Once upon an internet pretty things were prized and now its a lot about analytics and SEO, terms which most people would like to unhear. It’s about as fun for a business as filling out a tax return. However, most need a website for very practical reasons or need to change their website for even more specific practical reasons.
A creatives’ website is an asset, a business tool, a part of the money and success making armoury. Not just the front door to a business but the front room where you make friends with your audience and coax them to buy your stuff. I make custom websites, websites which do what you need them to do, meet all the tech specs and look like your brand, priced and geared for the next steps of your success.
WEB DEV SERVICES
Digital Footprint Analysis
This is a process of looking at what is currently online for a business, looking at how well it’s performing online, both on social media and the web in general. How well is the business described, how fresh and up to date or accurate the content is, and whether it matches the current business brand and values. It’s a mix of research, data and opinion. A digital footprint analysis is the starting point for any good digital strategy and for any rebuild/rebrand of a business website. However, it can be done as a standalone process to help inform a businesses own strategies.
A digital strategy is similar to a business strategy but with a focus on all things digital: website, social channels, email, newsletters, digital media etc. A business without a digital strategy is less likely to get ROI on effort and money or have positive impact on business goals. A digital strategy is a custom plan, which makes the best use of the resources and skills available to deliver on specific business goals. It can be a high level set of objectives or something more detailed, but the purpose is the same, to guide what and how digital is used to best effect.
Digital strategies tend to have a shortish shelf-life, particularly if a business is in rapid growth or new. A good digital strategy is a great tool for small businesses where the management team are doing everything, so that there is greater impact for effort ratio.
Creating a digital strategy can be part of the website development project or a completely independent process.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the means by which websites can take advantage of Googles’ search algorithms to get their website to show up in searches. SEO is made up of a long list of variables which google looks at to decide whether to show your site or not when people are searching on different search words or phrases.
Some SEO attributes can be built into the core of a website, some are built around the content, some are outside and all of it is changing all the time.
Factors like, how business critical is being at the top of search to your business, your budget, whether you are building organic reach or paid with Google Ads, all determine how much SEO effort needs to go in to your website.
My website builds have good foundational SEO built in. More advanced SEO building comes as a custom extra. Content is super important for SEO, and sometimes is best rewritten. For those needing to understand more about SEO and how it relates to their website or business, my digital clinic sessions can cover this.
SEO extras can be added on to the optional monthly care package.
Not only does the technology need maintaining and updating, but to be effective the website content needs to stay fresh and up-to-date. Some of this, clients can do easily themselves, others need a bit more technical know how.
Care packages (paid monthly in advance) can cover regular essential maintenance, proactive maintenance, updating, content adding, backups, social media sharing, digital marketing, reporting analytics and SEO or any mix of these.
Squarespace websites will require less maintenance than a WordPress website, which might factor into the choice of platform.
These monthly packages are optional and always customised to a clients needs and budget.
WordPress is a web content management system (CMS) which currently around 1/3 of the internet globally is built on. It’s free to use, although clients need to purchase a domain name and hosting to run their own wordpress site with their own domain name (web address).
While the core wordpress software is free, additional functionality is added through specialist themes, customisations and plugins, which are often not free. The beauty of so many people using WordPress is that pretty much anything you can think of in the way of functionality, someone has made already, meaning that WP websites can be highly functional relatively quickly. I use only premium themes and plugins which have been thoroughly tested to ensure best results.
While wordpress can expand to accommodate the needs of even big complex businesses it’s actually ideal for the small/med business or web user, who wants to have some control over whats posted. Once it’s built, it’s about as easy to add, post or change content as running a Facebook page.
A wordpress website can be customised to any look and feel, style and colour scheme and more or less any page design you can think of.
As a word of caution when everything is on the menu it can get costly, if you are on a budget think about what’s relevant and best for your web goals.
Don’t let the lure of e-commerce (selling stuff on your website) get the better of a good business decision. Some timely Digital Strategy advice can help you pick the right solutions, potentially save money or at least avoid risking it on systems which might not work for you. There are many solutions, picking the right one for your business needs, can mean the difference between success and failure.
I use this to identify a phase in a business where they are getting their systems online and offline ready for selling online. What many people don’t realize is the amount of work in uploading & maintaining product photos & descriptions, pricing, admin, payments, packing, posting, invoicing, accounting and customer service that’s involved in selling online. Also in understanding the business dynamics, such as, is there enough stock, are there sufficient resources and staff to complete orders in a timely manner, is there a future supply of product, what happens with returns, is delivery cost effective, is the pricing right to make a profit? So many things to sort out, which for smaller businesses or new businesses can take some time.
Pre-commerce strategies might have you trial a few products ordered by email or phone from your website. Or trialling a shop portal, like shopify, which takes out some of the costs and heavy lifting on figuring out secure payments and delivery.
Going from no business to a full-on e-commerce website is not only expensive, it just might not be the best solution right away or ever. At least testing other systems first, a business doesn’t lose the big investment and learns a lot along the way.
Having a road map for development of a full e-commerce site or a roadmap for working towards that as a business in stages or an assessment of what would be best for business, will be worth it’s weight in gold in the long run. I don’t expect clients to have all the answers before they come to me. It’s a project and decisions we work on together.
I’ve found that clients often need some sound advice before embarking on a web project, to avoid over complicating or under spec’ing they need for their website. Every case is actually unique and for those who are new to having a website the options can all sound very confusing.
I offer two kinds of consult, a free pre-quote interview where I can glean enough information to be able to make viable suggestions for the project – the results of this are discussed and embedded in any quote but not written as a stand alone report.
Or a billable service for those who want neutral sound advice, quality checking on other quotes, web business ideas or questions around what technologies to use. Results in an email report.
Squarespace is a DIY website build platform with ecommerce and other addons. It’s been growing in popularity as a platform especially in the creative sector because of its’ notoriously beautiful templates. It’s on here because i work with a lot of creatives. The subscription fee which includes hosting is affordable and being a self build platform significantly reduces the usual upfront development costs to get a website up and running.
In an ideal world creatives would have time and inclination to DIY their own website on Squarespace, but increasingly they are looking for someone to do this. As a result, because I work with a lot of creatives globally, I’ve made the decision for 2020 to add Squarespace to my offerings for web projects.
The upfront costs and ongoing fees to run a Squarespace website are typically significantly lower than WordPress. The end result will be just as good because I will be bringing all the usual expertise in content, brand, marketing and search, just as in a WordPress website. Other than the platform, the standards, usability and quality will be the same.
NON WEBSITE SOLUTIONS
Working with creatives globally often means having to find alternatives to the standard solutions which are low cost/free but still effective. An artist can still benefit from having a good digital footprint even if a website is outside both skill and finances.
I specialise in digital for creatives and provide a range of services to help grow that digital footprint with or without a website. Please contact for more details.
Small organisations, not for profits, creative brands, portals, offline services & businesses, can find themselves confused by systems, services and help which is not completely suited to their goals. Not every website is about sales, not every website is about growing numbers, not every website is about size. That’s where custom solutions really come into their own, helping clients to understand what kind of website is best for them right now, something that’s a good fit to push things forward without breaking the bank or leaving a client with a digital strategy they have no time or skill to fulfil.
Custom solutions in the web world can mean spending less money not more, because you are just getting what you need.
Custom solutions are particularly suited to clients who really care about their brand, giving more control over both the big and the tiny details. My clients get several points in the build of a website where they can revisit how it looks and functions.
- Initial Interview / Digital Clinic / Digital Footprint Analysis (Understanding what’s needed)
- Wireframe Build
- SEO, OG, Analytics & other meta
- Testing / Live site
With lots of information sharing before any money or contracts are signed, clients get plenty of useful advice whether they proceed or not.
All builds are custom, contain great starting SEO infrastructure and are built with functionality to help deliver on business goals whatever they might be.
Clients can go lean or multi-faceted including digital curation, brand reputation management, content authoring, content management, photography, e-commerce management, digital strategy, care packages and ongoing SEO. So, there is no fixed website development fee, each site is different and negotiated as a one-off.
For WordPress sites end user training is typically included.
Most web projects include a one month aftercare, for catching bugs and minor tweaks.
UPDATES & REBUILDS
When refreshing existing websites, I take the same approach and only re-use old architecture if it fits with the business moving forward. This means that rebuilds can sometimes (but not always) be more expensive than a new build, especially if there’s lots of archival material to curate or move.
If you’re interested in getting a quote for a website for small business, rebuilding and old one, maintaining a current one, or some digital strategy advice to decide which it is you want, get in touch via my contact form.
WEB DEV PORTFOLIO
FROM NEW WEB DEV | CONTENT | PHOTOGRAPHY
2018 | NAIROBI
NAFASI ART SPACE
WEB DEV | ONGOING INVOLVEMENT IN DIGITAL CURATION & TEAM TRAINING
2018 | TANZANIA
WAVES SURF SCHOOL
WEB DEV | DIGITAL STRATEGY | CONTENT RETHINK | PHOTOGRAPHY
2019 | CORNWALL
RE-DEV OF EXISTING DESIGN | ONGOING DIGITAL STRATEGY & DEV | PRE-COMMERCE
2017 | ZANZIBAR
WEB DEV | NEW SITE
2018 | SYDNEY
WEB DEV | DIGITAL CONTENT & BRAND RETHINK | SSL
2019 | KENYA
WEB DEV | PRE-COMMERCE
2018 | CORNWALL
TANZANIA HERITAGE PROJECT
2016 | TANZANIA
WEB DEV | EVENTS DIGITAL STRATEGY
2014 -2017 | EAST AFRICA
HOW I WORK
My approach to web development is goals oriented; not applying a packaged technical solution or template, but understanding on one side the target customer/audience experience, and on the other, client goals, budget and alignment with the solutions. For emerging or small business or creatives, sometimes it’s a story in parts, not all at once.
My methodology requires a little more time and effort in the early stages, understanding and sometimes helping clients reframe their thinking around digital strategies, but ensures an end product which functions to support a clients objectives in a way which feels comfy.
Offering custom builds on a number of platforms to suit budget and functionality requests or for those who want to do more themselves, support, consulting and handholding.
My approach particularly suits creative people/businesses and the not for profit sector, also clients who are pre-ecommerce and need to align their business/concept or create a roadmap to going fully online.
WordPress, Squarespace, Moodle, SEO, Analytics, Care Packages, Content Authoring, Image Optimisation, Branding, Reporting, Photography and other Digital Services.
BEFORE YOU GET A WEBSITE…
Neither your business nor it’s website live in a vacuum, there are other businesses around and lots of competition online. A good first move when building or rebuilding your website is to check out your competitors and your customers. If you’re competing with big players, or businesses spending a lot of money on reaching your target audiences, your approach online will need to be different than if you are in a niche market. Sometimes, a website which has been performing really well for years needs to change because of the competition. The best websites really understand their target demographics, which in the end impacts on how successful a tool your website is for your business.
If you have a website and want to know if it’s performing well for you – get in touch.
WEBSITES FOR MUSICIANS
Having spent the last few years workshopping around digital strategies for musicians in East Africa, I’ve come to understand the music industry dynamics very well. With a side benefit of understanding what an artist needs to do online to give the best potential, means the roadmap to a good website is handheld all the way and for many emerging artists the first step is in defining the brand, so as to be able to communicate it.
I’ve also devised some strategy packages for musicians, which cover more than just the website, offering different solutions and price points.
With creatives and budgets in mind, for 2020 I have added Squarespace websites to the website platform offerings.