Are you technology happy?
No? Call us on +44(0)1209 613660.

Web Site Stuff

Server Hosting

Server Hosting

Why not let Focus Technology Europe Ltd take care of your website hosting – we can host your website for less than £15 a month. Hosted on our own servers – maintained and look after by us. No outsourcing.

Talk to our Tech Team for more information, or just to have a chat.

Trust Me! I’m a web site…

Is your web site helping or harming your credibility?


One of the most important purposes of a web site is to engender trust and demonstrate your business’s credibility within your market. Fail to do this, irrespective of any ‘funky functionality’ or time consuming marketing efforts and the potentially valuable revenue stream will be nothing more than a big hole in the world wide web into which you pour inordinate amounts of time and money!

According to the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab’s Web Credibility Research Project

there are 10 primary factors that can make or break your site’s effectiveness in boosting your credibility. I actually think that there are 11, one of their really should be split! Let’s look at them one by one:


1.      Make it easy to verify the information on your site

At first glance, this may appear to relate more to non-commercial or informational sites, but actually, if you’re quoting figures or research that back up your usp, provide a link or at least cite your source.

Why? Look at these two phrases:

“Over 500 000 people in the UK have satellite TV”

“According to XYZ University Research Project, in 2015 over 500 000 people had a paid satellite TV subscription with another 200 000 using freesat”


The second phrase shows a little more detail and illustrates the fact that you didn’t simply make the numbers up, therefore you care enough about your business (and by extension, your customers) to spend that extra bit of time researching your market properly.

2.      Show that there is a real organisation behind the site

This is a simple one. It’s often missed by small, one-man-band web designers. They stick an email address and mobile phone number on their web site, but don’t provide any indication of a physical address or a landline number. They may be the world’s greatest at what they do, but don’t do themselves any favours trying to maintain such a level of anonymity.

Additionally, showing any professional or business organisations in which your company are involved will show that you are an active part of the business community, again, by extension potential customers will take the view that you will, or are at least likely to, care that little bit more for your customers. Poor companies are not likely to bother joining organisations or business groups.

3.      Highlight the Expertise within your company

If you have particularly knowledgeable team members, or they perhaps contribute to community projects or are an authority in a particular related subject area, highlight this within your site.

All customers like to think that they are employing the experts and therefore getting the best knowledge available. Whether you are recommending a 3rd party product, or providing a service, demonstrating the depth of knowledge within your team is essential if you are going to get that web site visitor to complete the enquiry form or pick up the phone.

4.      Show that you are Real, Honest and Trustworthy

The first step of this is to show who you are. You don’t need to put your whole team’s CVs / Resumes online, but put the whole team on the site.

And remember that all companies are ultimately about the people in them, be open, honest and friendly. Your web site is the first stage to building a relationship with potential customers. DO your team have hobbies that demonstrate character traits that will help build trust and credibility? Perhaps your company provides long term services that sometimes need a bit of extra effort, one of your team run ultra-marathons, that hobby requires exactly the type of commitment you are trying to sell, so include it in their bio.

5.      Make it Easy to Contact you

It is far too common for sites not to provide quick and easy contact methods. Remember, it’s for your customers’ convenience, not your! Here are a few important points:

  1. Provide multiple channels, phone, email, a contact form, postal address
  2. Think ‘outside the box’ if your market has any commonly used non-standard communication methods, for example, Skype or irc (Chatrooms) or Google hangouts.
  3. Monitor ALL of the channels provided. It’s not good looking cool with your Skype details on your site, if you never turn on Skype
  4. If your market can be time sensitive and you have the resources, consider a live chat service.
  5. Do you have a showroom or offer a drop-in service? Provide a map

Remember, the less effort the customer has to put in, the happier they will be when they make contact.

6.      Design Your Site so it Looks Professional AND is fit for purpose

People make sweeping judgements about a company’s professionalism based on the quality of the visual design of any material that they provide, especially your web site, if it’s their first point of contact.

That’s not to say that every business needs to spend thousands on design services, but some investment of time and / or money should be considered to ensure that the basic rules or followed.

Consistency is the key. This demonstrates an attention to detail, which engenders trust in that you will bring that same attention to detail in what you provide to your customers. Particularly important areas of design are:

  1. Layout: keep the overall layout of you web and print design themed along the same lines.
  2. Typography: Maintain consistent use of fonts, colours, relative sizes and spacing across all of your communications.
  3. Images: Define a style and stick to it. So many ecommerce sites fail on this point, which is actually one of the most important in maintaining that level of consistency that actually increases your credibility.
  4. Mission / Ethos presentation: These should underpin everything that you do, but ensuring that your visual presentation backs this up is something that a good designer will be able to do.

7.      Ensure That Your Site is Easy to Use

UX or usability design is one of the buzzwords on the web these days, and while a bit trendy, is an important factor in the design and planning of your site.

Put yourself in the shoes of our customers (remember it is they for whom you are building the site) and think how they would want to use it. Do they need a quick and simple way to order spare parts or consumables for a product? Will they be looking for a quote for a production run?

By ensuring that the functionality or information they are likely to require is easy to find, you will show that you have considered them and that their time is just as valuable as your own. Another plus when it comes to credibility…

8.      Ensure That Your Site is Useful

Everyone likes something for nothing! It’s human nature. So give something away on your site. It doesn’t have to be something tangible, it doesn’t have to cost you anything. Remember that you are the expert in your field, so you have something your customers don’t, knowledge. This also reconnects with item 3 in our list, by giving away knowledge freely, you demonstrate your expertise as well as giving your potential customers something for nothing.

Other great ideas for freebies include pdf downloads, desktop wallpapers (great for brand awareness).

9.      Update Your Site’s Content Often

We’re not suggesting that you should rewrite your whole site frequently, but, if you have a blog or news section, don’t leave it with the ‘Welcome to our new website’ post as the only one there. Don’t start off with bags of enthusiasm posting every day, then after 3 weeks all of a sudden, nothing… That doesn’t demonstrate the credibility you need, but that you get bored after a few weeks.

10.  Use Restraint with any Promotions

In general, people hate popups, if you must, be very careful and make sure that they genuinely serve a vital purpose to a large proportion of your current and potential customers. A good example might be a school web site adding a popup to their site to say that the school is closed due to a plumbing leak. A bad example would be a popup asking visitors to sign up to your mailing list!

The same rules of subtlety and relevance apply to general advertising on your site. For you own products, think about the sales process and provide your simple calls-to-action, rather than banners and ads that appear to be from another provider.

If part of your income is from advertising 3rd party products on your site, ensure that it is clear to your visitors which are 3rd party ads and which are for your products. ‘Banner blindness’ will reduce the effectiveness of both if you muddle things up.

11.  Avoid Errors of All Types, No Matter How Small

Two of the most common issues on web sites are broken links and typos. There’s no need for either…

  1. Get someone else to proof read your site. Spellcheck doesn’t cut it. Most do not review the context as well as the spelling, so always ask someone else to proof read your site. It may even be worth employing a professional proof reading service.Even if you are generally pretty good and proof read other people’s work, don’t rely on yourself to proof read your own writing.
  2. Regularly check broken links. This can be an automated process using any one of a number of online tools. Our favourite is:
  3. Conduct a regular review of the site’s content (text, images and media, such as videos) for relevance and accuracy. Out of date content can be just as harmful to credibility as missing content and broken links.


So, in summary, plan your site carefully. Plan your content carefully. And don’t consider your web site to be ‘set it and forget it’, but as a continuously developing and important part of your marketing efforts.

The most effective web site marketer take the view that the web site is part of their team and is alive. It needs feeding, care, attention and a new suite of clothes every now and then. While you shouldn’t need to commit masses of hours to your site (unless it’s your only, or most important marketing channel), but you should specifically set aside time for it on a regular basis.

Creative Focus

If you would like to talk to Focus about how we could help you get the best from your web site, give us a call on 01209 613660.

We provide design and development services for web sites and web applications as well as online marketing, design for print and IT infrastructure and communications services.

4 things to look for in a web developer

OK, so it’s always a bit controversial when a web developer advises on what you should look for in a developer. Of course what they really mean is ME! And I’m no different it would be unnatural if I didn’t think that I had the traits that I’m going to talk about.

But whether you’re going to hire me, or someone else, I still believe that you should be looking at these traits in your web developer. So here goes…

How often should I have my web site redesigned?

Let’s face it, we have all seen them; sites that were built 5 or 6 years ago and actually do more harm than good to a business’s image. But how often should a company redesign or rebuild their web site?

There’s no single answer but there are a number of factors that affect the decision. The important ones are:

What type of business are you?
Are you changing your overall branding?
Have you moved into a new market?
Is there some new functionality that would enhance the site’s performance?
Is the site currently performing to its potential?
What is the cost of the redesign and development?
Is the budget available?
Will you get a return on the investment made in a new website?

f we look at each of these in turn:
What type of business are you?

There are certain companies, such as fashion related businesses, that will certainly need to look at some level or redesign on a yearly, if not seasonal basis. It’s important to their brand identity to be seen to be up to date. However, an engineering company that had a strong hold on a niche market would not have that need and could therefore ignore this factor when considering a redesign or planning the marketing budget.
Are You Changing Your Overall Branding?

This is something for every business. When looking at the overall brand identity of your company, it’s vital to have a good level of consistency in all branded material. This includes the website and should, without a doubt, be an important part of the re-branding process. The level of re-branding, along with other factors mentioned in this article, will dictate the extent to which the site needs to be redesigned.
Have you identified a new market into which you can move?

This is potentially one of the most important factors that may lead to some level of redesign or enhancement to a company’s web site. If you are aiming at a new market segment, or have new products that appeal to customers previously not attracted, one of the fastest ways to become visible to them is online.
I think, with this factor it’s important to emphasise that we aren’t necessarily talking about a complete visual redesign. It may take the form of new functionality, or simply a refresh.
Is there some new functionality that would enhance the site’s performance?

With the speed at which internet technology moves it’s almost certain that within 6 months of a site going live, there will be new technology or techniques that could enhance the site. However, before running for the company chequebook and commissioning a developer, it’s worth thinking about how it will enhance the site and its revenue generating potential.
It may do so simply by giving the user a better experience. Making the site more intuitive will put users in a more positive mindset when using it and therefore more inclined to spend. It may be a more direct approach to revenue generation such as adding eCommerce functionality to a site that was previously a more static presentation. Both are valid reasons for undertaking an enhancement or redesign. However beware of the ‘because it’s new and cool’ factor unless your company has that same appeal in its brand.
Is the site currently performing to its potential?

This is probably the most common reason for undertaking a redesign. However, a redesign is not always the right solution.
It’s important that, once you have realised that your site is not performing as it should, you analyse its activity and try to identify where and, if possible, why it is under achieving. It may be that the marketing of the site is letting down what would otherwise be a highly effective marketing tool. It may be that its message is unclear or aimed at the wrong demographic group. The first is not necessarily a redesign problem, the second may be. Either way, it is important to know what is wrong before trying to fix it…
What is the cost of the redesign and development?

We are all aware that in the credit crunch budgets are far from limitless. It is important that you, as a potential client have an idea of your budget and also what you can realistically get for that budget.
It’s also worth considering the total cost to the company rather than just the cost of the design or development work. In the same way that IT resources are said to have a TCO (Total cost of ownership) which takes into account factors such as support, maintenance and the cost of the person working with it, a web site has similar associated costs.
Some things to consider in this area are:
• Hosting – do you need extra hosting facilities for the redesign?
• Down Time – will the current site be off line for any period? Don’t forget that web sites can be viewed anywhere in the world 24 / 7.
• Additional Development Costs – factor in some contingency, particularly if your designer or developer will not commit to an absolute fixed price.
• Domain Name – Unless included in your hosting package you will need to own one, possibly more. These are an ongoing cost for the site.
• Maintenance Costs – This may be a professional designer, or one of your own staff (or you!), however the cost of the time will need to be factored into a site’s TCO.
• Marketing Costs – online marketing of your web site is vital. Online marketing is a vast subject area. This will be covered in later articles, but don’t forget it when factoring the site’s TCO.
Is the budget available?

This is an easy one. Yes or No. Or perhaps not…
We all have champagne tastes and would like the funkiest site just like the one that our own industry’s market leader has. The truth is, they have that site because they are the market leader and, most likely, have a huge budget. However, there are often more simple solutions that have a much lower price tag, while achieving very similar results. If you have a limited budget available it’s worth being honest with your project team (designers & developers) about your budgetary restraints. This will allow them to pitch at the right level and give the whole project a more open and honest communication style throughout its life.
It is also important to be realistic in your expectations. You know that you’re not going to get a complete flash site with specifically shot video footage for £500, or even £2000… You might for £20000. It’s worth, a) doing the research to see what you will get for your budget, b) looking at what you really want and getting a true idea of what it would cost. The final project will usually be somewhere between the two.
Will you get a return on the investment made in a new website?

This should be the factor that overrides all the others. Is it going to make more money, if so how long will the payback period be?
For sites that directly generate sales through some kind of e-commerce functionality, this can be relatively easy to calculate. For non-e-commerce sites it is more complex to quantify effectiveness. While people may come to you and purchase face to face, did they find you through the web site?
How old is your current site?

My final reason here is the obvious one. How old is the current site? If it’s less than a year old, it probably doesn’t need a change, certainly visually. If it’s 5 years old it will almost certainly be looking tired compared with a large number of sites.
This factor shouldn’t be the sole reason for redesigning your company’s web site, but in truth, it’s probably the catalyst for starting to review it…

So, in conclusion, there isn’t a sensible way to state how often a company should redesign it’s web site, but hopefully you will now have a greater understanding of the factors that should be looked at before making a final decision.

Do I need to learn HTML to manage my web site?

This is one of the most common questions that I get asked by new clients. It’s not always phrased this way, it could be ‘I don’t really understand computers, will I still be able to manage my web site?’ or ‘I’m not very technical, but I would like to update my own web site.’

The answer isn’t as cut and dried as you may think…

Join Our Maillng List

Sign up for regular tips, tricks and news from Focus