Like all business owners, our clients understand the importance of having a great website. They also know that learning to write code isn’t the only route to success.
At By the Scruff, we’re often asked what’s involved in using a website theme and whether it’s a better option than hiring a web developer.
If you’ve been wondering the same thing, keep reading…
When you’re looking at themes, there are three key factors you need to consider:
Begin by thinking about the purpose of your website. Depending on your profession, you might want to look for themes with a portfolio design, a blog set-up or e-commerce capabilities. Once you’ve found the right ‘skeleton’, it’s just a case of re-skinning it for your business.
As an example, let’s look at a WordPress theme called ‘Divi’, built by ElegantThemes.
You’ll see from the link above, that ElegantThemes have produced a video and live demo, showing you what types of website you could create, using Divi. This allows you to visualize how your site could look, before spending your cash.
On the subject of money…
In general, a theme is usually a cheaper option than building something from scratch. On average, themes range from free to around $150, at the premium end.
Themes can also be relatively quick to use, as you’ll be starting with a template that you can customise as little or as much as you need. Of course, building anything yourself will require more of your time, than hiring a developer to do the job for you.
A word of warning: Most reputable themes come with plenty of online support and documentation. However this isn’t always the case. If you encounter issues with your site further down the line, you’ll want quick access to reliable help. So do your research and choose a theme provider you can trust.
Because of its popularity, many hosting providers have chosen to specialise in the WordPress platform. Hosting companies like 123-reg offer WordPress packages, which get the basics set up for you. Alternatively, you could cut out the middleman and get your hosting directly from WordPress themselves. These are both great options, if you’re new to the process and want to get up and running fast.
That said, if you have some technical knowledge, you might prefer to use an independent hosting provider who will let you configure your server and install WordPress yourself. This will allow you greater freedom over the website and its code.
Buying a theme is usually a pretty straightforward task. If you’ve chosen a third party theme, you’ll simply need to pay for it online, download it as a .zip file and then upload it to your WordPress account.
You’ll also need to think about domain names. Ideally you should use something that’s on-brand, simple and easy to remember.
Websites like 123-reg allow you to search for available domain names. Once you’ve found a good one, we’d advise buying it as quickly as possible, to ensure nobody else snaps it up. Keep in mind that ‘example.com’ and ‘example.co.uk’ are separate domain names. So if you want to own both (or other variations) you’ll need to purchase them all.
Once you’ve got the ‘back-end’ set up, you’ll need to think about your website’s structure and appearance. If you’re not a web developer, this is where using a theme can really help to simplify the process.
Divi, for example, comes with a pre-built dashboard and content management system (CMS). These let you create pages containing different elements such as text boxes, images, forms and buttons. The interface is easy to use and there are plenty of ‘help’ instructions, if you get stuck.
Essentially, a theme will allow you to create an entire website, without touching a line of code.
To create a really effective, professional website, you need to have an eye for design and user experience. Without these parts of the puzzle, your customers will struggle to understand and navigate your site. It’s also worth keeping in mind that although themes like Divi offer a wide variety of features, you will always be limited to the options you’ve been given. If you’re after something very bespoke, hiring a developer to build it from scratch might be a better approach.
Perhaps you want to use a theme but you don’t have all the skills mentioned above? Or maybe you just don’t have time to build a website and run a business simultaneously?
If that’s the case, you can always bring in specialist help, to fill the gaps.
A web designer, for example, will be able to suggest ways of aligning your logo, colour scheme and typeface with your brand. A copywriter can help you communicate your message effectively and a photographer will make you look the part.
With themes like Divi, you can even bring in a developer, to tackle specific requirements, through the website’s code.
How much outside help you use is your decision. Just make sure there’s a solid plan in place, to bring it all together.
An example of how we can build a site using DIVI theme is Perfect Fit Pilates, a Hertfordshire based Pilates studio.
Whether you use a theme or not, creating and maintaining a website is a big commitment. If you’d prefer to spend your time elsewhere, give By the Scruff a call and we’ll lend a hand.
If you’re like me, the idea of tackling ‘lead generation’ might feel less than comfortable. Despite my reluctance to fine-tune my marketing hat into a more proactive ‘weapon’, I’ve been surprised at how much the right tools have eased the process.
With the help of a new lead generation software, I’ve overcome my reservations and started some exciting conversations. Here’s how…
Our most common gripe
As a small business, one of our most common pain points is the time required to nurture new leads. I realised a long time ago that developing those leads is not a short sprint but a process of building long-term relationships. This requires all your skills as a marketer and salesperson- an exercise that we creatives often view as a ‘necessary evil’.
Why is that? Maybe it feels like betraying our creativity? Perhaps the thought of commercialising what we do into a sales format simply goes against the grain?
I’d personally like to think our services are so good that business will just come through the door without an invite, knowing what we do without the need for advertisement. Well, I have certainly been in the game long enough to know that’s just not a good approach to business. In fact, it’s probably doomed for failure, as you’re unlikely to generate the new leads you need in order to grow.
Planning for the dry spells
Let’s face it- the biggest mistake any business can make, is to stop promoting when things get busy. You’re completely focused on the next deadline, but what’s the plan when this busy stretch comes to an end? All too often, we’ve found ourselves in the aftermath of a busy period, wondering why the phone has stopped ringing. Chasing for new business takes time, and time is money.
So we’ve decided to change our ways. We’ve streamlined, reduced our overheads and taken on a more proactive marketing approach, using the tools available to us. One of which, is Lead Forensics.
A helping hand
When a person visits our website, Lead Forensics provides us with information about the visitor and the company they’re from, based on their IP address. It also lists when they visited, what pages they viewed and for how long. We can then identify which of our services might interest them. Then comes the trickier part: finding the person within that organisation, who would most likely have been responsible for the visit.
So how do we do that?
First, we look at the company website. We try to get a feeling of which departments are responsible for procuring the services we identified. Some websites also provide staff details, which can help to identify the individuals to approach. Next we use LinkedIn, to get a deeper understanding of their position and role within the company.
Beyond that, it comes down to emails and picking up the phone. Ouch! Yes, I’m afraid you do have to speak to people but believe it or not you might find they actually want to speak to you too! Approaching these conversations requires a tone of transparency and honestly. Unfortunately, this is sometimes lacking in lead generation and it’s often easy to sniff out a disingenuous sales call. However, you should remember that what you’re offering could be exactly what that person is looking for. If that’s the case, you might find a phone call is just the job.
Like any relationship you will need to develop trust and respect, which doesn’t happen instantly. However approaching the right person and setting off on the right foot can make all the difference. And so the journey begins…
Want to start your own conversations?
By the Scruff have moved offices and are now co-located with the wonderful people at Brightlemon. We are situated in a open plan office on the ground floor of what used to be the Financial Times, many moons ago.
Still ideally situated in the heart of Tech City we can now provided our services in a typically urban digital environment.
Brightlemon are experts in building community based websites for the likes of British Council, NHS, Amnesty International, UKTI and many other larger organisations. We are working with them to provide creative solutions for their clients and will benefit from their expert skills and experience in building focused community websites.
If you are in the area and want to meet for over a coffee and discuss projects and challenge us to a game of ping pong then get in touch.