Category Archives: Content Management Systems

How do I know if my site is mobile/tablet friendly?

smartphoneIf you open your site on your smartphone’s browser and you have to scroll horizontally to view content or access menu items then the site is not optimised for mobile devices.  Most sites built two or more years ago for small businesses would not be mobile friendly by default.  Some are still being built today without considering mobile devices yet almost 50% of people access the web now via mobile.

tabletWhy should I make my site mobile friendly?

Your site should be mobile friendly because more and more people are accessing the web from devices such as smartphones and tablets today.  When people encounter a site that is not mobile friendly they become frustrated and tend to not use the site if at all possible.

Common problems users encounter include:

  • Menu items too small and are difficult to access
  • Popup boxes appear off screen and sometimes cannot be shut down
  • Images are not rendered at the correct size
  • Content is difficult to read without zooming

What is the recommended solution?

layoutWhen it comes to mobile website design there are 2 approaches:

  1. Adaptive design:  in this case a brand new mobile specific site is created and perhaps tablet version too
  2. Responsive design:  the front end of the site is created in such a way that the layout of the site changes depending on the resolution.  This is generally achieved using a technology called CSS3 media queries, whereby visual elements have different styles applied based on the screen width.

How can I make my site mobile friendly?

There are a number of solutions to make your site mobile friendly.

  1. Create a brand new mobile version of your site.  When users access your site from a mobile device this new site will be displayed.  This option has the least impact.
  2. Modify your existing site:  If your site is well implemented it might be possible to adapt the CSS and html to a responsive design.
  3. responsive desktop designProbably the best solution is to re-implement your site using a modern CMS (such as wordpress) with a responsive theme, which means that your site will work on desktop, mobile and tablet devices in the future your site’s theme can change as technologies become available because wordpress is designed in such a way to keep the theming of a site separated totally from the content.

If your site is not mobile friendly, do not worry, you are not alone.  I would encourage you to consider the options above though going forward as smartphones with browsers are here to stay and if you share your content on facebook

Don’t lose web traffic when moving/migrating website

This article might help you avoid and SEO disaster when moving / upgrading your website.

A client came to me last week disgusted that he had moved from no. 1 on google for his search term to nowhere after his website had been “upgraded.” He also noticed his traffic and leads were significantly down and was amazed that this could happen.

This can happen quite easily if you move from one platform to another, perhaps your old side used .htm pages for the various pages of your site e.g. contact.htm, services.htm etc.  When you move to a CMS like wordpress the new url for the same page might be /contact, /services etc. as the pages are generated dynamically and do not need the .htm extension on the file name.  The result is that Google had indexed your old files and when you moved it has to re-index the new pages and all the links and weight these old pages had are lost.

If you have employed the services a responsible and experienced web developer they will not miss this trick and they will add code/a file to your web site to redirect all these old urls (web addresses) to the new urls so that Google also knows that these new pages are upgraded versions of your old pages. The strategy normally taken is to place a .htaccess file on your web server with rules to perform a 301 redirect from the old page web address to the new address.

In addition to setting up redirects, the pages should be SEO optimised also to ensure that they are at least as good as the old pages.  Ensure titles are unique, headings are in place and content contains keywords etc.  Also ensure meta information is as before or better.

If you migrate to wordpress, there’s a nice little tool called Redirects, which essentially does the same job as a .htaccess redirect file and often works fine for small sites that are being migrated to the wordpress platform.

In conclusion, if you decide to upgrade your site, make sure that you ask your developer to ensure that they do everything in their power to ensure all your efforts in terms of promoting your site are not lost when they perform a site migration by putting in place a redirect strategy.

 

How Much Does a Website Cost in Ireland?

“So, how much does a website cost in Ireland?” I’ve been asked this question a lot by potential clients and the honest answer is, ‘how long is a piece of string!’ and depending on who you go to the costs can vary wildly.  I’m posting this really to give people an idea of what to expect and to understand what questions to ask when getting their site designed and the costs involved.

The question to be answered really is ‘How long will it take to build what I want?’ and this is what will dictate the cost as an agency generally charges based on an hourly rate / daily rate.

Hourly / Daily Rate

Most web agencies have this worked out based on staff. E.g. if a project is broken down into 2 days design, 3 days coding, 5 days content, the bill might be broken down separately as the hourly rates might be different according to skill levels required by the staff. In my experience you will get a daily rate of anywhere between €100 and €1000, depending on the agency you go to.  More often than not these will not be like-for-like as no agency with professional staff and bricks and mortar establishment could afford to hire their staff out at €100 a day.  Realistically, it will come in somewhere in the middle, just be careful of this.

My own feeling on it is €100 a day will get you a graduate level web designer, €350 a day will get you an experienced sole trader, €500+ will get you access to a professional within a larger agency.  Remember VAT will generally be charged also, so if you are a sole trader starting up and not registered for VAT, remember to factor that in as you won’t be able to claim it on a VAT 3 unless you are registered yourself.

Factors that affect price:

1. Design Quality: Some clients want a cheap and cheerful design, others want a slick professional look, others want a completely custom illustrated quirky site with all the bells and whistles.  You need to think about these requirements carefully as the perception of the site to your customers is critically important.  First impressions count.

Your options here are:

  • A template based website. This will be non-unique and can be purchased cheaply but  still requires customisation.  Guide time for template + customisation: up to 1 day
  • A custom designed but still relatively simple site design: 1-2 days
  • Top grade site design: 3+ days

Once the site is designed it needs to be converted to HTML + CSS and this can be tricky depending on the design quality.  In our experience you need to double the time taken to design the site to implement the CSS and HTML for the site correctly.

You might also require a logo, corporate branding etc.  If getting it all done together prices could be negotiated to your advantage.

2. Mobile Friendly:  Do you want a mobile friendly website?  If so then there are 2 options. a) Allow your website resize itself responsively using modern CSS techniques, b) create a separate mobile website using a technology such as jquery mobile.  Depending on the quality you desire, this can take as much time as desktop design.

3. Content Management System: Do you want to be able to update the content yourself.  It is my opinion that pretty much all sites should be content managed (unless you just want a holding page or the content will never be changed).  Why should you need to go back to your web developer whenever you want a simple update to the site.  There are a few options here:

  • Use an open source project such as WordPress or Joomla
  • Get a bespoke CMS developed
  • Use a content management system provided by your web host company
  • An eCommerce system

Bespoke CMS systems should be avoided in my opinion.  They do potentially allow for more flexible design but if you chose a system such as wordpress, it is future proof, has more features, has literally thousands of plugins and should in theory keep your costs down. It also has a built in blog/news system.

To install and customise wordpress should take in the region of 1-3 days to set up correctly.  The vast majority of time taken with any CMS is integrating it with the site design through the development of a site theme.

For other systems such as eCommerce systems, there is a bit more configuration involved so it could take slightly longer to set up correctly.

4. Bespoke Software Development

If you require something specific then there are times when bespoke development must be undertaken.  The cost of such development can be very expensive as there should be planning, development iterations and testing as part of the service. The time involved in this can only be estimated upon receipt of a software specification document.  If you can find an open source solution or something that fits your requirements off the shelf you should market validate your business in this way before making a very large investment in something that may not work.

5. Site Structure/Content Upload

The no of pages on your site and their complexity dictate the costs here.  Do you require custom graphics on each page, do you require photos/images.  Are stock images good enough or do you have your own professional images.

You are talking an hour or two per page in general and so the cost would be no. of pages X by hours involved + image / graphic design costs.  Stock images can cost in the region of €3 and €10 euro per image if purchased on a credits basis from well known stock imagery sites.

5. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

When developing a site, SEO should be considered from the beginning.  The site’s structure and pages should be created with keywords your customers are using in mind.  If the web agency does this for you, they will add another hour or two on per page uploaded to the site, and other work such as sitemaps, back links etc. may cost extra also.  If you don’t ask for this service you generally won’t get it by default. It is worth noting that wordpress has some excellent plugins for SEO, which is another good reason to chose this platform.

6. Hosting + Domain

This should cost < 100 euro for a decent package and a .com domain.  If you’re paying more than this you might be getting overcharged.

7. Other Features

Other things you should consider are getting analytics installed, integration with social media through like and share buttons, online ad campaigns on the likes of google adwords and facebook ads for example.  There’s also social media management if you want someone to run your facebook or twitter pages, however in general it’s better to manage this in house and perhaps get the right training.

7. Ongoing Support

A site should never be truly finished. If you want it to do better on search engines, convert more customers you should always be tweaking things.  Support can be given at hourly rates, and discounts in the form of bonus hours are generally applied if purchased on a retainer basis.  Ideally, you should, over time, be able to manage this in house.

Grand Totals

As you can see there are a lot of factors to consider so below I’ll give you 2 potential examples of cost:

Example 1: Straightforward site with 8 pages of content and no SEO

Design: 1 day
CSS+HTML: 2 days
Wordpress CMS Config: 1 day
Content Upload: 1 day
Stock Images: €50
Hosting+Domain: €100

Cheapest quote to expect: 350-500
Most expensive: 2-3K+VAT

An average charge might be approx. €1450+VAT for this type of site

Example 2: Top level design, mobile friendly, 50 pages of SEO optimised content

Design: 3 days
CSS+HTML: 3 days
Mobile Friendly: 3 days
CMS Config with SEO plugins, security etc: 2 days
Content Upload: 70 hrs
SEO: 50 hrs
Stock Images: €250
Cloud Hosting+Domain: €160
Support Contract: 1 day per month

Cheapest quote to expect: 3K
Most expensive: 15K+VAT

An average cost might be in the region of €7,500 for this type of website based on our hourly rate.

Please contact us if you wish to discuss your project.

Do I need a Content Management System (CMS)?

The short answer is YES.

A Content Management System or CMS is a piece of software running on a hosting account on a web server that allows the administrator of a site to log in to and edit the site through a web browser interface, without having to delve into the mystifying depths of HTML and CSS code trying to work out how to FTP the files over to the hosting account etc.

Generally a CMS is made up of standard HTML and CSS elements, a MySQL database (or other database technology), a Javascript word processor/text editor and some server side scripts (PHP, ASP, JSP etc.) to execute database operations such as saving and retrieving content and to allow upload and management of files on the server.

Most design companies will give a customer the choice of installing a third party CMS such as WordPress or their own bespoke CMS. However, design companies generally prefer to offer bespoke CMS to their customers because they can be tied into a specific design more easily, and the user interface can be made exceptionally foolproof. With third party CMS applications design can often be very restricted unless the company specialises specifically in that technology.

You should expect to pay a bit less for a WordPress or Joomla website as there is practically no coding involved in the set up of these sites, rather developers will find a suitable template on the web and will then customise it to suit a particular customers needs. If a company has to develop a theme from scratch, Joomla and WordPress sites can become even more expensive then their own bespoke CMS sometimes prohibitively so.

Regardless of the technology chosen, the major advantage of a CMS is that you will no longer need to call your web design company every time you need to make a small change to your website, with a CMS you can update the site whenever you have a bit of news, want to add a new link, need to upload a new picture, press release etc. etc. You just simply log in through to the CMS via a specific URL or Web Address and edit your website pages on the fly.

However, with this power there are also caveats. Often designers have a keen eye regarding making content on a site look professional. By transferring this power to administrators, the design of the site can often suffer over time from a design perspective as a result, so if you do go for a CMS try and keep the content true to the design of the site and avoid using your own colour schemes, font sizes etc.

Search Engine Optimisation is also generally supported by good CMS systems. They allow the user to modify the title of the page, the content of the page (encouraging the use of h1 tags) and they also allow the admin to add meta description information. Often with static web sites, design companies do not change the title and description on the various pages on the site which can lead to devastating penalties from Search Engines.

So, if you have an existing site without a CMS, don’t worry, all is not lost. If your site is standard HTML / CSS it should be relatively easy to add a CMS to.

UTD Web Design Ireland can add a lightweight, bespoke SEO optimised CMS to your existing site for as little as €400 depending on your specific requirements, so what are you waiting for, get in to the 21st century and manage your own website content today!