website Tag

Five website sign-off tips for clients

So you’re in the final meeting with your web designer/agency, it’s been two months of looking at screen designs, prepping content and, if you’re using WordPress, possibly more time looking at themes and functions. Now the moment is here and the final sign-off meeting has arrived.

Clicking through web pages has never been more gratifying as you compare, load, reload and check content. But are you missing something? Are there things that should be in place before you give the all clear?

Here are my top five items you should ensure are in place before signing off any website.

1) Google Analytics

Google Analytics are blocks of code that are embedded in each page which allow tracking of website data.

2) Favicon

This is the little icon that appears in your browser when you visit a website; it’s more of a branding visual that adds that extra bit of value to any site.

3) Structured URLs

URLs are the links in your browser that load each time you navigate pages; these should mimic or relate to the page they go i.e. if the page you’re going to has the heading “welcome to our business” the URL should reflect this: “http://www.yourdomain.com/welcome-to-our-business”
not
“http://www.yourdomain.com/?=pageid1234422/article/content/welcome”
or something along those lines.

4) Responsive layout

In today’s digital realm with the technology and HTML advances there is no excuse not to have a site that at least adheres to tablet screen size (1024 * 768).

5) Out-bound links actually link outbound

Out-bound links are those links that drive visitors away from your site – for example, an affiliate logo that goes to a different site. Theses links should always open in a new window or tab and should not open a new site over yours.

Code in two minutes: The internet is yours

I’ve been doing a night course on HTML and CSS coding through Friends of Design for the last few weeks. I’m doing it becuase I want better control of the websites we build and to be able make precise tweaks and changes to them. At Pomegranite, we build websites on WordPress which allows us to create slick, professional sites that are affordable for the client. Ninety-nine percent of the time, clients don’t need complex, custom-coded websites. And if they do, we hand them over to trusted agencies who can provide that service.

Self-hosted WordPress essentially comprises of two systems: the first is a content management system which acts as an interface between you and the website, saving your images and posts and giving you the tools to edit the website. The second is a theme or template which is like a ‘skin’ for your website and manages its design. This is where it’s handy to have some coding knowledge to manipulate these themes.

Learning to code (I say this with a pinch of salt because hardcore coders study for years) has been a pretty mind-blowing experience. For most people, the internet is another world, created and controlled by others, that we can only make a mark on through social media, which is itself contained separately within the greater world-wide-web. When I started editing the code of WordPress themes, Sarah and I referred to it as “entering the Matrix” and rejoiced when I did something and the site didn’t explode.

But the truth is, the internet is made by people, creating code. To scratch beneath the surface, all you have to do is right click and select “inspect element” to see the code that props up the site you’re viewing.

Coding is becoming more and more accessible to people other than nerdy hackers. Just check out organisations like Code for Cape Town which runs a three week holiday programme that introduces grade 10 and 11 girls to the world of web development for social impact. What’s also great is that you don’t have to wait for someone to teach you to code. There are tons of resources online to get you started.

Codecadamy is the one I started with. It’s super simple, fun and effective at teaching you code. They use a system where you’re walked through the code on one side of the screen and it shows the effect on the other side of the screen. So not only do you never feel lost, but you see instant results.

codecadamy

It’s free, it’s fun, you can login with Facebook and Gmail.

So go ahead, give it a go!

[Feature image source.]

School websites: What story do you want to tell?

I read something somewhere on the internet (could I be more vague? No.) that has stuck with me. It said something to this effect:

“Ask yourself how you are different from your competition – and tell that story.”

In the last couple months, Pomegranite has built new websites for three different schools. On the surface, these schools could appear quite similar: they are all reasonably small, private schools within short distances of one another in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

Yet, walking into each school, you notice a distinct vibe unique to each institution. The ethos of each school is different – and you can feel it.

The trick is translating this into their respective websites. I am a words person, so, for me, this distinctive storytelling happens predominantly through the content of each site. However, some people are more visual creatures, so it’s equally important that the look and feel of each website paints a picture of the character of each school. Sometimes it’s the functionality that sets a site apart – like image animation, online application forms or online payment facilities. But mostly it’s about understanding the story behind each school, what’s important to them and why – and integrating that into each element of the website.

A school’s online presence is hugely important – particularly these days, when the first thing that new parents (a generation with an affinity with the digital world) are likely to do when considering sending their children to a certain school is to look at that school’s website.

When we started building these websites we explored the online presences of a number of schools in South Africa – and abroad, but, let’s stick to our own shores for now. It seemed to be a general trend that schools created their websites years ago when they first recognised the need to be represented online, and they haven’t given their websites a whole lot of thought since then.

Your website is one of your most – if not the most – important marketing tools. It’s time to start thinking again about the impression that your school website creates. What is the user experience like? Does it accurately convey the level of excellence your school cultivates?

What story would you like your website to tell?

ridge school screenshot
st katharines screenshot
apps screenshot

Feature image source