Website news to squeeze the pips, from Appelgreen
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Stephanie Boucher

Half of small businesses have no website

All right, we admit it: we’re biased. But still we were shocked when the CEO of Talk Talk said recently that about half of UK small businesses don’t have a website.  This article from the US seems to confirm this.  While we don’t think a website should be your first priority when setting up a business, it has to come in somewhere, if only because the modern public expects to find one.

And if, as the article says, you believe you don’t need any extra business because you’re already working flat out, a simple website can save you phone-call time just by letting your customers know when your shop is open, or which services you do or don’t offer.

Of course we disagree with the article’s assertion that a website is cheap and takes 20 minutes to set up (we’re biased here too!). Moz asserts that professionally designed websites have the edge, even in terms of search engine rankings.

From our experience of taking over badly designed websites, we would want to caution you against cheap imitations.

Creating a better home page

The home page is the top of the hierarchy tree for any website.  Although there’s no guarantee that all your visitors will land on it first, it is still the reference page for new arrivals.

Apparently, we don’t read pages, we only scan them, according to website usability consultant Steve Krug, author of Don’t Make Me Think.  Indeed this makes home page design vitally important in hooking the visitor.

At Applegreen, we aim for a short home page with a clear hierarchy, easy navigation and prominent call to action.  Detailed information can go in an About page, or other appropriate sub-page.  Will Stevens recommends steering a middle course between information overload and the old-fashioned, minimalist “splash” page with no proper message at all.

Above all, consider the main purpose of your website as you plan your home page.  If there are several purposes, or several related services to highlight, the home page should be the place where these are given the prominence they deserve in your overall project or business.

How to (and not to) use Twitter

Anna Foster of YouByYou Books had an instant success just before Christmas with a well-timed tweet.  Her message about one of her recent publications, Tenterden Then & Now, was re-tweeted all over Tenterden and led to a flurry of orders!

But we are also warned not to cut corners with social media. Lauren Dugan, of Social Times, explains why you might want to avoid a current trend, the automation of messaging from Twitter to Facebook, as these two platforms have very different audiences.

Happy new year to one and all from Applegreen
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