Monday, 29 December 2008

Good Logo Design

So what does a logo do? Why do you need one? Why is it important for your business website?

Firstly, a logo promotes your business in the market. A logo gives a unique identity to your business, especially in a website design. The best logo designs are so unique and easily recognisable that the name of the business springs to mind even when displayed with out text. They act as ways of establishing credibility with your customers and building a brand identity.

Therefore, good logo in a web design needs to be memorable. Your customers need to be able to picture your logo easily when thinking about your company. It needs to spring to mind. By the same token, the logo design needs to be easily describable. When your customer is talking about your business with someone else they need to be able to refer to you business in an identifiable way. “That plumbing company with the blue squiggle” isn’t going to cut it.

“That plumbing company with the blue squiggle like water dripping out a pipe” might.

Continuing to use this hypothetical plumbing company logo as an example, the logo needs to be easily scalable. How good will that squiggle look as a favicon in the address bar of a web browser, or on the side of a biro? How good will the logo look on the main page of the plumber’s website, or on the side of his van?

The logo also needs to work in black and white. Will that blue squiggle be distinctive enough if the customer prints off something from the website in black and white?

Having a really good logo makes putting together a website for a business really easy, as the colour scheme and design elements of a good logo can be used as the basis for the whole site design.




Monday, 22 December 2008

Is Your Site Legally Accessible?

As a UK business owner, you have to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act of1995. You are required to make reasonable adjustments to your services and the way you provide them to ensure that disabled people can use them. This includes your business website.

The DDA states that disabled people should not be treated less favourably than other people when accessing services. This duty extends to the provision of websites where a website falls within the definition of a service under the terms of the DDA.

This means you must ensure that there are no obvious barriers to disabled users on your website. Whilst there are no formal guidelines, the government has supplied guidance for government websites here:

Government guidance on accessibility on websites

How does this apply to your website and your website design?

Well obviously, a fully flash site isn’t going to cut it. Flash websites can’t be read by screen readers, which are often used by visually impaired and other disabled users.

It is best practice to use simple and easy to understand words on your website. Avoid the use of jargon wherever possible on your websites.

Any pictures on your site should have captions with descriptions of the pictures so the website makes sense when read with a screen reader.

Text should be in high contrast to the background. Black on white is best, but white on dark blue is also good. Avoid combinations including red and green in your website design as these will not always be visible to colour blind users.

Make sure your business website structure is very simple, and that users can easily navigate from one part of the site to the other. At the very least there should be a link on each page to the home page.




Friday, 19 December 2008

Browser Wars: Making Sure All Visitors Can View Your Site

Not all web browsers render websites in the same way. If your site is coded by your web designer to only work in one browser, and your customers use another, your customers could be unable to see important information about your company. In a worst case scenario, they may not be able to see anything on your business website at all.

Some visitors won’t have updated to the latest version of their browsers either. Again they might not be able to see anything on your website.

The way round this is to ensure your business website is as standards compliant as possible. This way the site will be both backwards and forwards compatible. Older browsers might not be able to see everything modern and snazzy on your site, but an older browser will be able to display the most important thing on your business web site, the basic content about your company.

All the websites built here at Toolkit Websites by our webdesigners have been checked to ensure they display correctly on as many browsers as possible.

Avoid having an all flash site as older browsers, and alternative browsers such as screen readers may not be able to display your lovingly crafted animations.

A good way to check how your website appears in a range of browsers is to use a service like Browsershots (http://browsershots.org/) or Browsercam (http://www.browsercam.com)

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Toolkit Websites On Facebook!


We web site designers need to keep up with all the internet trends to make sure we create the best web designs for our customers.

One of the biggest things on the web in the last couple of years has been social network services.
These are online places where people can get together and interact quickly and easily with each other, sharing information, photos and videos etc.

Facebook is one really popular social network service that lets you keep track of your friends and post messages, and upload pictures and videos. Some of us here in the office have used it to keep track of old university mates. Facebook also has a cool feature where you can create a page for a person, a business or a brand, and other users can sign up as fans.

We've created a Toolkit Websites page on Facebook where you can leave us wall messages with suggestions on how we can improve, see some of our video customer testimonials and check out our portfolio of existing client websites. So if you'd like to take a look at our page and sign up, please click on this button:







Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Internet Explorer Security Problems!

We recently wrote about why you should use Firefox to browse the web.

Turns out your favourite website designers are a bit psychic! Today, the BBC News reported that there is a really serious security flaw in Internet Explorer.

The flaw leaves you vulnerable to attacks that could see you losing control of your computer and having your passwords stolen if you continue to use Internet Explorer. Microsoft is working on a patch to fix this. The BBC goes on to say:

Spreadfirefox Affiliate Button"Microsoft says it has detected attacks against IE 7.0 but said the "underlying vulnerability" was present in all versions of the browser."

10000 websites have already been affected. In the mean time, no matter what version of IE you're using, it would be best to switch to another browser that doesn't have this security flaw.

We use Firefox when we build a web site here in the office, but there are plenty of alternatives such as Opera, Chrome or Safari.

You should also make sure you have an anti - spyware program and good anti virus software to make sure you're completely protected. Spybot Search and Destroy and AVG are good programs we've had experience of using here in the web design team office.





Monday, 15 December 2008

Marine Resources Testimonial for Toolkit Websites

Some of our website design customers have leapt at the chance to swop video testimonials for Christmas web designs for their business websites.

James Ward, from Marine Resources in Southampton, Hampshire, UK sent us this great testimonial on why he loves his company website from Toolkit Websites . You can check out the Marine Resources website here with it's lovely Christmas web site design:

http://www.marineresources.co.uk



We've added this video to our video testimonials page on the main Toolkit Websites website. You can see the video testimonials page here:

http://www.toolkitwebsites.co.uk/video




Friday, 12 December 2008

What’s Firefox?

Firefox is a free, open source web browser that comes with lots of great features. We use Firefox here in the Toolkit Websites office to access the internet and view both our demo and client websites.

“But I already have a web browser. I use Internet Explorer” I hear you cry. “Why should I download Firefox?”

Did you know that by using Internet Explorer to access the internet you could be putting your computer at risk? Security firm Secunia.com reported in September 2008 that 10 out of 31 security flaws in IE7 remain unfixed, with the figures being higher for older versions.

Spreadfirefox Affiliate ButtonFirefox 3.0 had only 3 reported flaws in Sept 2008 according to Secunia, and Mozilla is already working towards supplying patches.

The other great thing about Firefox is that it’s one of the most standards compliant browsers out there, meaning it will render websites correctly on screen.

The Ad-ons console lets you customise Firefox to suit your needs. Here in the office we use ReminderFox to remind us when to make calls, and Colourzilla to get codes for the colour of anything on a website. It's a great too for getting the colours right on your business web design. Both of these make our job as web designers a lot easier.

If you want to try Firefox you can download it for free from: www.getfirefox.com




Thursday, 11 December 2008

Mega Monday for Online Shopping


The second Monday in December is known in the retail industry and by web site designers as ‘Cyber’ or ‘Mega’ Monday. It’s the day when all the Christmas shoppers get online and do their gift buying on e – commerce websites. This year, Internet trade body IMRG, reported that online sales volumes were up 18% year on year!

Clearly lots of people are taking advantage of the great deals you can get buying online, and the convenience from shopping at home. Both online only businesses like Play.com and Amazon and high street retailers like M&S who were running special offers saw a surge in purchases. Given the current financial situation, consumers are doing more research online before they make important purchases. Consumers are also purchasing items online that they first saw whilst out shopping offline to try and get a bargain.

This is why it is so important to have a company website. Your customers are investigating the services offered by your competitors and weighing up why they should choose you over them. Make sure you’re included in that research by having a relevant and informative business website, and if you can, offering your customers the ability to buy online.

If you’ve already got your business web design from Toolkit Websites up and running, you too can be part of the boom in Internet shopping. The Toolkit, our content management system, is built to work easily with Paypal. Paypal have also just launched a great new way to create Paypal buttons that match the design of your site, right in time for Christmas. You can find out more about the Paypal Button Factory here:

https://www.paypal-marketing.co.uk/businessbulletin/2008/december/index2.htm

Once you’ve generated the code for your stylish button, you simply paste it in to the HTML view of the Edit Page window. You’ll be selling your services online in no time!

Here’s our guide to adding Buy It Now buttons in the Toolkit:

http://www.toolkitsupport.co.uk/paypalbuynow






Monday, 8 December 2008

New Referral Scheme at Toolkit Websites


Have you got your Christmas card yet from your favourite website designers?

When you do, you will notice our snazzy cheques inside the cards created by our web design team. These cheques are the first part of our new referral scheme.

Do you know anyone who really needs a business website? Are you pleased with your website from Toolkit Websites? If you refer a friend to Toolkit Websites and they order a website from us, we'll pay you £50 in cash.

That's right, £50 in cash, just for you.

What's more, if your friend orders their website design before Easter 2009, they will receive a £47 discount on their setup fee too!

What a bargain! Consider it a little Christmas present from your friendly website design team.

To refer a friend to Toolkit Websites, please fill in the form on the page below:

http://www.toolkitwebsites.co.uk/refer




Friday, 5 December 2008

Can't Wait For Christmas at Toolkit Websites!

Even website designers can't wait for Christmas! We're counting down the days and getting all excited. Our web design team have been having fun decorating our Southampton Office. Check our awesome traditional Christmas Tree:

Alex also created a tropical Christmas tree using the spiky plant that lives by Richard's desk:



We've put up the Christmas decorations on our website too. Take a look at our festive website design here:

http://www.toolkitwebsites.co.uk


Some of our web site design customers wanted seasonal web site headers too.

Here's a sample of some of the Christmas web designs we created so far this year, click on the images for larger versions:







If you're a Toolkit Websites customer and would like a Christmas website design for your business web site, our team of little elves... I mean web designers will be happy help you out. Check out our guide on Toolkit Support:

http://www.toolkitsupport.co.uk/seasonalheaders



Thursday, 4 December 2008

Best Wishes from Toolkit Websites


It might sound surprising but website designers do use paper sometimes! Here at our Southampton office at Toolkit Websites we often brainstorm ideas on pieces of paper to come up with ways of providing a better web design service.

We're also using paper this week in another fun way because we're sending out Christmas cards to all our website clients! As you can see, we've been busy signing the cards today to make sure the postman delivers them in time for Christmas. That's Tristen, our Web Design Technical Manager hard at work!

So look out for your card in the post if you've got a business website from Toolkit Websites!

Monday, 1 December 2008

Splash Pages Aren’t Cool

Splash pages are used on some websites by website designers as an “introduction” to the site; they usually fill the page and have a button/link in the middle inviting the user to “enter the website”. Unfortunately splash pages generally have the opposite effect and according to some reports 25% of visitors leave a website as soon as they hit a splash page.

Further more splash pages can cause more problems than just putting your visitors off; they can even scare the search engines away! The splash page in your website design can act as a blockage to any search engines trying to visit your web site in order to rank you within their index, which obviously is the last thing you want to do.

In short.. keep it simple. You wouldn’t add a second front door to your shop to greet your customers, so don’t do the same with your business website.