Selasa, 26 Mei 2009

7 Ways of Getting Your Customers to Say �Wow�!

Robert Warlow

Small Business Success

Just imagine. You have walked out of a shop or put down the phone after purchasing something and your immediate reaction is �Wow!� How do you feel? Excited; satisfied; fulfilled � eager to return and buy again?

Wouldn�t it be great if you could get your customers to feel the same way about dealing with you?

Lots of small business owners (and not so small!) seem to think that the customer is merely an interference. But how can you get your customers all pumped up and ready to do business with you again? I�ll share some tips on exactly how you can get a �Wow!� response and show how it can positively impact your bottom line.

Get promising

These days too many businesses seem reluctant to commit to anything. As a result, you walk away with a nagging doubt that nothing is going to happen and so the whole experience is not pleasant. What a refreshing change to get a business that provides a firm promise on dates and times or opening hours. Can you provide a clear promise to your customers? Have a think about each aspect of your business and highlight all your �promisables� in your sales and marketing stuff. One great tip � under promise and over deliver. Promise delivery in 7 days, knowing you can do it in 3 days. When the goods arrived 4 days before expected, that�s a �Wow� factor if ever there was one!

Important point � if you can�t deliver it, don�t promise it!

Be a Tigger

Remember Tigger from Winnie the Pooh? He�s all over the place; bouncing up and down with endless energy and enthusiasm. He just leaves his friends breathless! What a great person to be with and do business with. Are you enthusiastic when you speak and deal with your customers? Are your staff brimming with enthusiasm? If you can�t project an image which says �I�m happy to be here�, how can you expect your customers to feel different? So, have a Tigger day every day!

First impressions

If you have a shop or office where customers visit you, what do your premises say about your business? Is it modern, fresh-looking, clean and tidy? Or is it worn, tired and generally looking run down? Like it or not, customers will judge you on what they see. They may say �Wow� but for all the wrong reasons!

A pot of paint and a splash of colour can make all the difference and it doesn�t have to cost the earth (these DIY programmes have a lot to answer for!).

Be a problem solver

Despite all businesses believing they have great customer service, the fact is that the majority don�t. The main reason is that when people complain, most feel that they have not been listened to and their problem has not been solved. Be a solver of problems - quickly and efficiently. A motto � �Resolve to solve�.

Be their friend

I don�t know about you, but I am a sucker for business owners who take their time to know me and recognise me when I next call or visit! The bond and the desire to do more business with those types of entrepreneurs, is strong for me. Do you take time to build a relationship with all your key clients? Do you go out of your way to greet them when they next do business? As the saying goes, aim to turn strangers into friends and friends in to customers.

Value for money

In this day and age of new technology, and the hefty prices that go with it, the concept of giving great value is sometimes forgotten. Creating a �Wow� moment can be as simple as giving a little bit extra, something unexpected. It doesn�t have to be of huge value, it�s genuinely the thought that counts. However, don�t restrict this idea just to price. Price on its own may not work, it has to be tied in with something else � 2 for 1, a small gift etc.

The quality of your product must also reflect value for money. Don�t try and pass off an inferior product with a superior price � you�ll again create the wrong type of �Wow� moment! Medium price and great quality � a definite, positive �Wow�.

Call them

The real killer �Wow� is calling your customer a few days after he has bought. Asking him if the product is fine, whether it does what he wanted it to do, is one sure way of stopping him in his tracks! If everything is great, then you have a customer for life. If there is a problem, wonderful; you have the opportunity to put it right and � have a customer for life. This is a very simple and powerful way of creating �Wow�.

So that�s it. If you follow theses simple ideas, all your customers will be saying �Wow� and they will be coming back time and time again. Who knows, they may even tell their friends? Take some time to review these tips and see how you can apply them in your business.

� Robert Warlow

Small Business Success

Small Business Success is a resource dedicated to helping small business owners be more successful. If you are looking for a regular flow of ideas and tips then subscribe to Small Business Success a free newsletter, which provides you with quick tips, ideas and articles.

For more information visit

read more ......

Jumat, 22 Mei 2009

Professional Business Plan Writers: Should You Hire One?

Are you interested in starting up your own business? If so, you should carefully consider writing a business plan. The thought of preparing a business plan tends to fill most business owners with dread; it can be a difficult, stressful, and time consuming process. For this reason alone you may want to think about seeking assistance.

One of the many ways that you can seek help to write your plan is by hiring a professional, who in this case is a professional business plan writer.

What Is a Professional Business Plan Writer?

Before deciding whether or not you should hire the services of a professional business plan writer, you should first clearly understand what they are. In most cases, you will find these individuals to be experienced, professional writers who are well versed in business terminology and who can effectively understand the needs of businesses. It is important to understand when writing anything, even a business plan, that it is the wording which makes all the difference; the words used can be the difference between success and failure. That is why a large number of small business owners turn to professional writers for assistance.

What a Professional Business Plan Writer Can Do For You

When it comes to searching for a professional business plan writer, you will find that different writers perform different duties. For example, a large number of writers will merely take your ideas, which you have already thought out and developed, and present them in a professional matter; they will just present your plans in a more professional way than you could.

Then there are the professional business plan writers who will work with you to develop your plan from the inception of the basic ideas for your business to the finish document. Naturally since more work and time goes into to assisting you with developing a business plan from the bottom up you will probably find that the services of these writers cost more than traditional ones.

It is important therefore that before you start your search you be very clear in your own mind as to what level of support and input you require.

Why Hire a Professional Business Plan Writer?

There are a number of different reasons why small business owners turn to professional business plan writers. One of the key reasons is of lack of experience when it comes to putting ideas on paper and not knowing what format a plan should take. If you have never created a business plan before you can easily find yourself staring at a blank piece of paper for hours on end!

Although it is relatively easy to learn how to create your own plan, it can be a time consuming process to undertake the research and get into the appropriate mindset. With the right experience, a professional business plan writer will be able to create a detailed, professional business plan in half the time that it would take you to create the same plan.

How Do You Find Someone?

If you are interested in acquiring the services of a professional business plan writer, you have a number of different options. One of those options is to search for someone locally. Dealing with a local business plan writer is great, especially if you want to deal with someone face-to-face. Your search can focus on your local government business advice centers or even asking fellow business colleagues. If there is a writing group or circle in your locality then you can approach them for potential names.

The only problem that you may find is that not all areas of your country will have professional business plan writers. This means you may have to turn to the Internet for assistance. By conducting an online search you will find a large number of professional writers who specialize in creating or writing business plans.

What Should You Look For Before Hiring?

When choosing a professional business plan writer it is important that you don�t choose either the first person that you come across, or the cheapest. If a well written business plan is crucial to the success of your plans then you must be careful in your selection. Your business plan may not only be used for your personal guidance, but it may also be used to attract financing for your business and that is why your plan must look professional, be detailed and readable.

Before hiring a writer, you should request samples of previous work and also ask to see testimonials from business owners who have used their services. This will help to ensure you are getting your moneys worth and that you end up with a business plan you can proud distribute.

As with any contract you enter into be very certain what you are getting for your money. Does the contract include the provision for free updates or unlimited revisions before the final version is agreed? Will you be charged per word, per page, or by the hour? Make sure you fully understand the deal.

By following these points you should be able to decide whether or not a professional business plan writer can assist you. Whilst they can be an additional cost you may not be able to afford, in the long run it could be the best investment you ever made.

You will find a complete guide on how to write a business plan in my e-book �The Secrets of Writing a Killer Business Plan�.

Robert Warlow

Small Business Success

read more ......

Selasa, 19 Mei 2009

How to Write a �Killer� Business Plan

Robert Warlow

Small Business Success

Writing a Business Plan can be a daunting task. You have so many ideas floating around in your head that it can be difficult to capture them all in a logical format. However, committing time to writing an effective Plan can help improve your chances of success. In this article I will be giving you some tips on how to write a 'killer' Business Plan!

Tip 1 � Understand the Need for a Plan

Without a clear strategy and long term objectives you may be reducing your chances of success and so it�s important to commit time to plan ahead. Having put in time, energy and resources to come up with the ideas, why spoil it all by not having a structured plan for the future? The benefits of business planning cannot be underestimated. There are some potentially business-changing reasons to prepare a Business Plan. You must view planning as a crucial investment of your time, which could mean the difference between success and failure.

Tip 2 � Don�t Go It Alone, Ask For Help

Picture this. You've never written a Business Plan before; you sit down at your table and end up staring at a blank piece of paper for 3 hours! Then, another 3 hours later, all you have is a bin full of scrap paper. However, in order to help you put a plan together there are a variety of sources of help you can tap into:

  • Professional advisers

  • Business colleagues

  • Advice agencies

  • Your staff

  • Books (see our free e-book offer at the end of this article)

Tip 3 � Follow a Framework

Having a framework or outline to follow can make the task of writing a Business Plan so much easier. The 3 parts to your Plan are:

  • Where you are now

  • Where you intend to be

  • How you are going to get there

This is your framework which will guide both you and the reader through your business and your idea.

Tip 4 � Tell the Reader Where You Are Now

In your first section you want to paint a picture of where your business is now. These are the main areas to cover:

  • Business history

  • Location and premises

  • Your product or service

  • Your market

  • Your customers

  • Your competition

  • Your staff

  • Equipment

Provide an insight into each part of your business so that the reader of your Plan knows how the business looks now. Obviously if you are just starting up, give an idea of how you see these parts of your business once you get going.

Tip 5 � Tell the Reader Where You Intend To Be

Having given an overview of your business, the next step is to tell them where you want to be. The main points to cover are:

  • Your objectives and goals

  • State what you want from the reader � a loan or overdraft for example

  • Explain why you need and what it will be used for

Tip 6 � Tell the Reader How You Are Going To Get There

It�s all very well promoting your idea and business but the important point to put over is how you are going to get there. Here are the key points to cover:

  • Marketing plan

  • Additional resources needed to meet your objectives and goals

  • Your contribution in terms of cash or equipment

  • Security you can offer to support a request for finance

  • Profit and loss and cash flow forecast to show that you plan to make money and that you can pay back the loan

Tip 7 � Provide Some Supporting Information

Your Plan will have contained a lot of information, so it is helpful to include supporting documentation to provide more background. Placing these additional items as an appendix ensures that the flow of the Plan has not been affected by additional information.

  • What sort of items could you include?

  • Letter of support from your Accountant

  • Confirmation of pending orders from customers

  • If you are purchasing a property, you could include the sales particulars

  • Independent industry surveys showing that your sector is doing well

  • If you are buying machinery, include quotations

  • If you business� main asset is you, include your CV!

Tip 8 � Ask Someone to Review It

When you are totally immersed in a task you can easily miss obvious mistakes. Ask someone to review your Plan to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors � don�t rely on Spell Check! Does it all make sense? Have you been logical in your arguments?

Tip 9 � Get the Presentation Right

After having spent a lot of time and effort on the content you don�t want to spoil it all with poor presentation! Here are some tips:

  • Get the Plan typed; it will make it look more professional

  • Make sure all the papers are clean and that there are no dirt marks or coffee stains! Buy some good quality paper

  • Purchase a classy folder or binder to put your Plan in (paper clips or staples may not portray the right image!)

  • don�t forget to include all your contact details

Tip 10 � Deliver Your Plan to the Reader in Time

Once you are satisfied that your Plan is a good representation of your business you can post it but ideally you should deliver it, at least you know it has got there! Prior to a formal interview (if your aim is to obtain finance) you need to give the Manager time to read your plan. Ask to make an appointment with him in 3 days so he has time to read it.

Enclose a covering letter saying that you have made an appointment and your Plan is attached for him to review and to prepare any questions.

All that remains for you to do is to turn up at the agreed time and present your case!

� Robert Warlow

Small Business Success

Small Business Success is a resource dedicated to helping small business owners be more successful. If you are looking for a regular flow of ideas and tips then subscribe to Small Business Success a free newsletter, which provides you with quick tips, ideas and articles.

For more information visit

read more ......

Kamis, 14 Mei 2009

Manage Expectations � Manage Profits!

Robert Warlow

Small Business Success

Do you often have the thought that your business would operate so much better without customers and all their demands? They want this, that and the other � all of which interrupts your day! But customer expectations are what drives your business and keeps them coming back.

Do you know what your customers are expecting of you? If not, how can you find out? What will understanding their expectations do for your business? In this article we are going to look at expectations and how it�s important for you and your business to know what they are.

What Do They Expect?

Not many businesses endeavour to find out what their customers want! Owners assume they know. Big mistake! If you want to grow your business, find out what your customers expect of you. How can you do this? Ask them! Why not have an �Expectations Week�. Tell your staff that this week�s goal is to ask customers what they expect of the business. Set a target of approaching a certain number of customers a day and just ask, �If I was to ask you what your top 3 expectations of doing business with us are, what would they be?�

Alternatively you could put out an Expectations Book and ask customers to write down their comments. This way, they will not be embarrassed and perhaps may be more frank!

If you operate your business remotely, why not do an e-mail survey? Consider offering a prize to encourage responses.

Great Expectations

What is your customer likely to come up with as expectations of doing business with you? Here are some possible answers:

- fast and efficient service

- competitive price

- quality products

- sufficient stock to meet demand

- trained staff

- being treated politely and with respect

- the phone being promptly answered

- e-mails responded to within a reasonable timescale

- promises being kept

- a clear complaints procedure

- clean and well maintained premises

Depending on your business, the list could go on! But you have the idea. No doubt you could add many more.

Review and Take Action

Armed with your list of expectations, your next step is to review them and see which ones you are currently meeting. Remember, you may think you are meeting a certain expectation but this is an opportunity for a quick reality check to ensure it�s really happening.

The list you�re left with are the expectations which you are not currently delivering on. Looking at each of them in turn, ask yourself whether, even with the best will in the world, you could meet that expectation. You may have an over exuberant customer who just expects too much! If you realistically can�t meet it, delete it.

You will then be left with a number of core expectations, which you could meet with some thought and action. Sit down with a pen and paper and put in place an Action Plan on what needs to be done to achieve what your customer expects of you. Get your staff together and all commit to putting the outcomes into action.

You�ve Listened!

Having gone to the trouble of asking your customers what they expect of you, don�t forget to provide them with some feedback. If you gathered ideas from the shop floor, put up a notice thanking everyone for their participation and listing the expectations you are taking action on. Why not display an Expectations Charter?

If you had responses via e-mail, reply and again outline what you have done. You could even list the expectations on your web site.

Having gone to all this trouble of asking, reviewing and taking action, it�s all too easy to forget what you committed after a few weeks or months. Make sure that at least once a quarter you re-visit the original list and check that you are still delivering what your customers expect of you.

What Can You Expect?

If you have followed through on the steps, what�s in it for you? After all, the customers get what they want; what�s your payback?

- your customers are likely to return more often

- they are more likely to remain loyal customers

- they will spend more

- they will be an ambassador for you and your business

- they will generate referrals

Some pretty compelling reasons to put an expectations programme in place!

So, review these steps and consider asking your customers what they want of you. If you can manage their expectations, you manage their experience and so manage your profits!

� Robert Warlow

Small Business Success

Small Business Success is a resource dedicated to helping small business owners be more successful. If you are looking for a regular flow of ideas and tips then subscribe to Small Business Success a free newsletter, which provides you with quick tips, ideas and articles.

For more information visit

read more ......

Sabtu, 09 Mei 2009

Why We Fear To Sell � And How You Can Overcome It

Robert Warlow

Small Business Success

So, you have set up your business, got all your stationery printed, got the premises and office sorted and now you have to get out there and �sell! Suddenly you break into a cold sweat but you persevere, pick up the phone or approach your first customer and it all goes horribly wrong! This really sets you up for the next one!

The fear of selling is something which most first time business owners suffer from. Selling is not something we are taught in school or shown by our parents (unless you are immersed in business from an earlier age!) and so the whole process is alien to us. In this article we are going to look at exactly why we have this fear of selling and what you can do to overcome it.

Fear of Failure

Undoubtedly the biggest fear most people in selling, and business have is the fear of failure. There is nothing more demoralising than a continual lack of success! Fear of failure has been ingrained from school � remember all those tests when the results were read out for all the class to hear? If you had a poor result, you never felt like trying again! But, don't be like Homer Simpson when he tried to consol his son Bart who had failed in his bid to be class president,

"You tried and you failed. The lesson is � never try."

So, what can you do to conquer your fear of failure? The bottom line is that you need a rock solid positive attitude. You must have an inner voice which is continually pushing you onto the next prospect and saying, "Come on, let's find the one who's going to say yes!"

Failure has to be seen as a learning opportunity. In every failure, there is a nugget of information, which next time, can point you in the direction of better success. James Dyson, the inventor of the revolutionary vacuum cleaner, summed up the need for a positive attitude, when he said, "Success is made up of 99% failure. You galvanise yourself and you keep going as a full optimist."

Image Fear

Not everyone has boundless self-confidence. When you start out in business, there is sometimes a nagging doubt that you may have bitten off more than you can chew. This inner doubt chips away at your self confidence and soon you have a poor self image, which reflects in your sales pitch. To be a successful salesperson you have to have a strong self image.

To improve the image you have of yourself, follow these steps:

  • Write down the qualities which you believe a successful salesperson should possess. Try and limit the list to 4 or 5 key qualities

  • Find a quiet spot and relax your body and mind with deep and steady breathing

  • Once you are totally relaxed recite the strong, self image qualities you identified earlier

  • Imagine or visualise yourself possessing each of these qualities. See in your minds eye how you look, now that you have these qualities. See how successful you are, how you look, and the car you are driving, where you are living

  • Repeat to yourself that you are assuming each of these qualities and becoming a better person with each day that passes

Repeat this exercise first thing in the morning and last thing at night and you'll soon find your self image and confidence levels increasing!

Fear of Rejection

Closely linked with the fear of failure is the fear of rejection. Hearing the response "No" is not a great motivator! The main way to deal with rejection is just to accept that it happens. Try and re-frame any rejection you get by saying to yourself that it's the customer who loses out, not you. Walk away with a smug smile on your face and remind yourself that you are one step closer to someone who will say "Yes".

Product Knowledge Fear

A lack of in depth knowledge about your product or service quickly finds its way to making for a poor presentation. There is only one solution � and that's to get learning! Absorb yourself in the product. Understand all the features and benefits, so that you can confidently talk about all aspects of your offering. Banishing this fear is one of the easy ones to put right.


No one likes to be criticised, especially if you have tried your hardest. Unless you are very thick-skinned, harsh criticism can knock you back. If you carry out the exercises on improving your self-image, your ability to take criticism will also improve. Decide to view criticism more as feedback than a direct attack on you. There is usually some element of truth in the majority of critical comments and it's important that you take the opportunity to learn and change.

Presentation Fears

You may know all the features and benefits of your product but, like an actor, you suffer from stage fright! The presentation fear can be down to a lack of structure around your sales process. Write a basic outline on how you wish a perfect sales pitch to go. Prepare a script for the key parts of the presentation and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

Why not ask someone to help you role play a sales presentation? This will give you the opportunity to make all the mistakes you want but in a risk-free environment! You should also visit your local Business Link office and see what courses they are running on sales skills. Look out for books and tapes on effective selling. All of these actions will assist in improving your confidence and result in a more professional sales presentation.

Selling does not have to be a fearful experience! If you have the right attitude, a strong self belief, a full understanding of your product and plenty of practice, then you will have nothing to fear. So, take a look at each of these fears and put a plan in place to tackle them today!

� Robert Warlow

Small Business Success

Small Business Success is a resource dedicated to helping small business owners be more successful. If you are looking for a regular flow of ideas and tips then subscribe to Small Business Success a free newsletter, which provides you with quick tips, ideas and articles.

For more information visit

read more ......

Senin, 04 Mei 2009

Web Marketing Tips, Tools and Techniques

Although web marketing should be strategy-based, depending on industry and market, there are a few common tips and techniques that we’d recommend to anyone looking to increase the profile and effectiveness of their website - especially for those with new domains. The following is a guide to the way we may go about it.

Page Overview

Web Hosting Basics

  • Set up a custom error page - Most of us are familiar with the Error 404 page or Page / Server Not Found message. This occurs most often when a specific web page is requested but either no longer exists, can’t be found or the URL has been mis-typed. The process of creating a friendlier web page such as this one will need to be set up by your hosting company but should be regarded as essential for both user experience and for search engines.
  • Page redirects - If you have implemented a new website to replace an old one, 301 redirects will help to take any existing links and credibility onto a new page.

Back to Top

Sitemap Fundamentals

First of all, let’s clear up any confusion concerning the term sitemap. There are two distinct types of sitemap even though they both do pretty much the same job which is to accurately represent the structure (or architecture) of the website in which they reside to make sure all its pages can be found.

A sitemap that’s intended to be visible within the site (e.g. sitemap.html) serves as a navigational aid to both the end user as well as a search engine crawler while an XML generated sitemap, which is found in the root web directory, is intended to be of value mainly to to a web bot to help it index the site.

  • Include an HTML (or equivalent) sitemap within your website. Create a comprehensive list of links in a logical or hierarchical sequence each of which point to pages within your website.
  • Set up an XML sitemap for your website. If your site can not create this automatically, use an online tool or download some cheap software to do it for you. We use RAGE. The XML sitemap sits on the top-level of your domain directory. Then,
  • Create Your Robots File - A Robots file tells search engines what to do and what to ignore abut your website (comprehensive overview here). One thing you can do immediately, is tell the search engine where your sitemap is - see this robots file for The Escape website. Why not right-click on it to download and amend the details accordingly?
  • Set up Google Webmaster Tools - You can then attach your new site map into Google Webmaster tools for intelligent feedback on how they see your site. Both Yahoo and Microsoft also have variations.

Sitemap Tip #1

Specifying the Sitemap location in your robots.txt file

You can specify the location of your Sitemap using the robots.txt file. To do this, simply add the following line:

Sitemap: sitemap_location where sitemap_location should be the complete URL to the Sitemap, such as

You can also specify more than one Sitemap file per robots.txt file.

Sitemap: sitemap1_location
Sitemap: sitemap2_location

Sitemap Tip #2

Submit your Sitemap using an HTTP request

To submit your Sitemap using an HTTP request issue your request to the following URL: searchengine_URL/ping?sitemap=sitemap_url.

So, if your Sitemap is located at, your URL will become:


Back to Top

Web Page Content Refinement

  • Make sure your web pages say what you want them to say with The Escape’s Web Page Analyzer.
  • Refine your meta titles and descriptions so they relate to the page content and ensure they look compelling in a search engine with our Better Meta Data Tool.

Stick to the Rules

The goal of all content managers should be to make their website as search engine ‘friendly’ as possible but without running the risk of incurring any penalties in the process. It’s therefore very important to understand that there are certain activities that may lead to a loss of search engine rank or, even worse, result in a total ban.

We strongly advise anyone responsible for administering or making changes to website content to acquaint themselves with some of the basic rules that apply.

Read, How Can I Create a Google-friendly Site?. It provides advice on good practice when developing searchable, web-friendly pages along with a few things to avoid. Further information from Google that deals with design, content, technical and quality issues is also recommended reading.

Similar help is provided by Microsoft for Live! Search.

By sticking to the guidelines, any chance of falling foul of the vagaries of web spiders will be hugely reduced.

Back to List

Website Go Live

New Domain

  • Tell people that you have a new website - why not email your customers?
  • Ask business partners, local/industry press to publish announcements on their website with a link to your new website
  • You can manually add your URL to Google, Yahoo, Live and other search engines.
  • For immediate impact, you may want to consider some specific per-per-click ad campaigns to drive initial traffic.

Existing Domain

  • Use your new website as a reason to contact people - existing clients, suppliers, press, etc.
  • Contact people linking to you to mention that you have a new website, especially if they are linking to a page that has been moved or no longer exists - it will give you a chance to suggest a new relevant link.

You can find out who links to you by typing the following into the search bar of your search engine:

  • Google: link:
  • Yahoo: link:

Back to List

General Awareness Techniques

  • Advertise your domain in any offline communications - stationery, business cards, brochures, giveaways (diaries, pens, etc.).
  • Add a footer to your e-mails with a link to your website. Make sure everyone in the company is doing the same.

Back to List

Localised Online Marketing Techniques

Don’t overlook what’s on your doorstep. If you have business in your local market, enhance your profile geographically.

  • Place your business in Google Local and Yahoo Local.
  • Go to Google and do a search for "your_town_name directory" to see if there are any free or cheap local directories. You can of course do the same with industry directories.

Back to List

Pay Per Click Advertising

Pay-per-click has it’s place but is becoming increasingly expensive. In our experience, it’s best used for consumer websites selling product, or niche products and services for B2C or B2B.

  • Google is still the biggest with Adwords, but you also have Yahoo and Microsoft Adcenter.
  • Facebook has a variation of keyword matched social advertising - probably best for consumer products.

Back To List

Articles and Whitepaper Marketing

Write articles on your website that are useful to people, then tell people about it - your existing client base for starters, industry, bloggers, etc.

Back To List

Social Bookmarks

If you have pages on your website that could be useful to people, place on social bookmark buttons to allow visitors to easily share them using social bookmarks. You could post them yourself, but these tools tend to use credibility, so you will need to be sharing lots of relevant stuff before yours is also recognised.

If you scroll to the top of this page and look on the right you will see the social buttons we have applied. You can’t guarantee someone will click them, but it does give them an easy way of doing it if they do want to share.

  • Delicious is an online bookmarking tool where users can share their bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon allows people to play roulette with websites of interest. It’s a great platform for discovery though and can drive lots of quick traffic, if it’s good. Users vote with their fingers.

Back To List

Social Networks

Social networking is a 21st century phenomenon where people sign up to a website, create a personal profile and begin to share all types of information amongst themselves. In many cases, this results in large, lively, 'virtual communities' inhabited by people with similar interests who are keen to interact and communicate with each other.

You can promote your business by creating company profile pages on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Squidoo. Alternatively, consider uploading photos onto Flickr or videos onto YouTube.

Use these networks to inform. In other words, become an active member of each community and build unique, relevant content and you’ll find that your backlinks will work much harder for you.


read more ......

Kamis, 30 April 2009

What makes an accessible website?

There is a lot of confusion regarding web sites that are 'accessible'. Many people automatically assume that it has something to do with disabled people and they'd be partly right. With approximately 8.5 million disabled users of the internet in the UK it is a very valid point (more about that later) but it's not the full story. It's more a story of acceptable standards.

It comes down to this:

Standards + Compliance = Accessibility

The mad gold rush

Imagine it is the early nineties and the Internet is beginning to take off. Who exactly is writing the script of how it works? And more importantly, who is reading? Web pages were being created in HTML, (Hypertext Transfer Markup Langauge).

This meant that if you wrote some code in a certain way you had a page in a certain format that anyone with access to the Internet could read. Gold Rush!

Now, there were some very skilled practitioners of this, but then again, there were also some cowboys.

We started to Bodge it

I say we, I know I did (in the bad old days before I saw the light). New software came out that meant we could create web pages without having to code. It was great… wasn't it?

Well not really, because we ended up with lots of websites that exploited the way browsers displayed web pages. We used tables to cheat layouts; we used frames to make use of slow download speeds.

Another important point to mention is that the browsers, although similar, had (and continue to have) slight nuances between each other that displayed web pages slightly differently.

Yes, we ignored the user because it was easier for us to build web pages that way. You can excuse everyone for that, but not anymore.

Let me ask you a question!

You are using a word processor and you are creating a document that also includes a list, do you:

  • Assign style sheets to all the subheadings or just make them bold and slightly bigger?
  • Tab your list items across, or put in lots of spaces?

This is a very basic example of what standards are.

W3C and WAI

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the guardian of the internet:

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential. W3C is a forum for information, commerce, communication, and collective understanding.

Hooray, a set of standards! Not only that but they introduced the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)

The Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) develops strategies, guidelines, and resources to help make the Web accessible to people with disabilities.

Rules and Guidelines

So now we had a set of standards. If only we could enforce them then the whole world could live happily ever after: People with disabilities would be able to access the entire web and the Internet could transform into something so much more.

Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995

Discrimination against disabled people is not just an ethical issue, it is now law and that includes your web site.

  • 19. - (1) It is unlawful for a provider of services to discriminate against a disabled person-
    • (a) in refusing to provide, or deliberately not providing, to the disabled person any service which he provides, or is prepared to provide, to members of the public;

The relevant text can be read on the OPSI web site.

Is Having An Accessible web site important?

Easy answer - yes.

There are cases of large organisations being taking to court for not having an accessible web site and being seen to be discriminating. Although these are rare at the moment, the profile of these cases mean that large companies are taking note. Late 2005, for instance, saw a lot of the banks relaunch new accessible web sites.


Creating a web site to be accessible is not hard and neither is it some kind of voodoo. You shouldn't see it as big brother telling you what to do, you should embrace the standards. It actually makes great business sense. As a web design agency, we can honestly prove the following major advantages:

  • Accessible Web Sites get better traffic because the search engines can easily find the content (as long as it's good content).
  • Accessible web site design is cheaper in the long-run. Accessible web sites are easier to maintain and update, adding pages and sections.

Other Advantages

If that doesn't convince you that your business does need an accessible web site, perhaps this will.

An accessible web site opens your business up to the web. It is the standard. Imagine suddenly speaking the same language as everyone else, including search engines. They start wanting to talk back - as long as you have something worthwhile to talk about, of course.

Is your Web Site Accessible?

The best place to start is by going to the W3C Validation Markup Service and validating your web site. If the page turns red perhaps the second step is one of the below.


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