New Lead Developer – Gareth Walrond

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At Cocoonfxmedia it’s all steam ahead this month as the company take on their second employee in the space of four weeks.

Gareth Walrond, has joined the Lichfield- based digital marketing agency after being a trusted supplier for many years. He has joined as lead developer to strengthen the Cocoonfxmedia’s core capabilities and skills.

Managing partner James Blackman said, “Gareth joining the company fits with our long term growth plans, we have been working with Gareth for many years.  His expertise and innovative approach to web development are unique and to the highest levels.

“I am myself a developer and having worked with other developers Gareth really does stand out as one of the best developers I have worked with. With Gareth on board we have the confidence to bring to market some new exciting projects, which will bring some innovative solutions to the market.  Such products as our own CMS System, which will be packed with useful functionality to help our clients save time managing their marketing.”

Gareth said: “I’m excited to join the team at Cocoonfxmedia as their lead developer. I have a BSc in software engineering and bring 17+ years experience delivering commercial web projects for clients.

I bring a wealth of experience working with some of the largest marketing agencies in the world and building digital marketing content for big names such as Virgin Media, Harley Davidson Motorcycles, Lotus Cars, DFS, Save The Children and many more.

I’m passionate about building powerful, yet simple user focused solutions from the mind boggling array of technology that’s available in the digital landscape today and love the fact that I can create virtually anything from code I write.”

In his new role, Gareth will focus on creating and developing CMS systems, web design and web development.

About Cocoonfxmedia

With four employees based in the county of Staffordshire, Cocoonfxmedia is one of the midlands leading digital marketing agencies. With web design at its core, its strong market position lies in the digital marketing industry, with a clear focus on providing measurable marketing solutions. Further information can be found at www.cocoonfxmedia.co.uk or by getting in touch with one of our friendly members of staff today!

New marketing officer joins the Cocoonfxmedia team

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Tenacity pays off for Lichfield graduate who landed new job from work experience placement

A request for work experience paid off for a tenacious 22-year-old Lichfield graduate who has landed her dream first job with a web design and marketing agency as a result.

Hattie Anderson has been employed to the role of marketing officer at the award-winning Cocoonfxmedia after approaching the company to ask if they would accept her on a work experience placement.

Partners at the Lichfield-based firm were so blown away by Hattie’s abilities during a two-week placement that she was offered a permanent job at the end of it.

Managing partner, James Blackman, said: “Hattie is joining us after taking the courage to approach us for work experience. We gave her two weeks and were blown away by her work ethic and ability to apply herself to the job of a marketing officer.

“Taking Hattie on is part of Cocoonfxmedia Ltd’s growth strategy to strengthen our core capabilities and skills and we will be looking to grow the company further before the end of the year. However, it was Hattie’s courage and tenacity that won her that job – had she not approached us, we may have targeted our resources differently.

“It’s been really refreshing to see a young person putting themselves out there and creating their own opportunities. Work experience is sometimes undervalued, but this shows that it really can pay off.

“With Hattie we can now increase the service portfolio to our clients and also increase our own brand awareness.”

Hattie, a former Nether Stowe High School pupil, has just finished completing her MSc in Marketing, after gaining a BA degree in English at Loughborough University.

Hattie said: “I decided to contact Cocoonfxmedia after going to a few interviews and being unsuccessful. I was really keen to find a career in Marketing and didn’t want to waste my skills so decided not to settle for less. I called up James and Glen to offer myself for work experience after advice from family members in hope that this would help become more successful at interviews but it turned out we all gelled and I got a position! I think young people need to be proactive in their job search and contact local companies as well as the larger companies. There’s nothing to lose with short-term work experience as you get out the cycle of being unsuccessful due to a ‘lack of experience’”

“I enjoy the creativity involved with marketing, so after my English degree, this for me was the natural route to take!”

In her new role, Hattie will focus on internal and external marketing, social media management, content marketing and SEO.

Cocoonfxmedia has experienced record growth in recent years as it continues to expand its services and develop new technologies to meet the full web design and digital marketing requirements of businesses.

Business Innovation – Startups Video

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This is a video create by James Blackman – Managing Partner for Cocoonfxmedia Ltd.  The video is still very relevant today and is a good insight on whats needed to get your business startup up and running.

What do you need to start your own business?

I have always been an entrepreneur. Even from the age of 10 years old, I was busy selling my granddad’s golden wedding anniversary balloons, and from that, it developed to making little manufacturing lead models, selling them to shops, to making speaker boxes and selling them to boy races. The real driving force for starting my own business was, working for the last company, I realised that I was making an exceptionally wealthy man even more wealthy through the job I was doing, and getting a very small reward. I thought to myself, “Well, I’ve got the skills to do it, I’ve got the attributes to do it, and I’ve got the drive.” So, I thought I should start up my own business, which is now Cocoonfxmedia Ltd.

What does it take to go self employed?

I think you need to have a good product and a good idea. I feel that you’ve got to have something where you know that you can succeed in, so an underlining willpower to take something and make it work. The key thing to being an entrepreneur and setting up your business, also, is to have a lot of self-motivation, a lot of determination, and to see things in a positive way, and have the drive to take something, and to build on it, and to push it, even if there’s some knockbacks along the way.

What do you need to start your business?

Firstly, you need to have a good product and a good understanding of how that product works. And, ideally, you need cash to start up with. So, if you’re manufacturing a product, you may need tens of thousands of pounds to get started up, but if you’re starting an online business, the cost may be not as expensive. But, cash will help you. And then, from that, you need to understand how the market is working, what are the conditions within the market, what is your potential competition doing. You’ve also got to have a good financial understanding on the processes, such as VAT, PAYE, corporation tax, plus also, your monthly outgoings. So, you’ve got to factor all of these in and make sure that you can keep track of your finances easily, and without that, your company will fail.

What will make your business fail?

I think complacency will make you fail. If you’re doing something a certain way and continue doing it a certain way, you will lose the edge on the market. I also feel that you need to have flexibility. If you have no flexibility in the way you work, chances are you’re going to start losing business, or you’ll not gain business because you won’t have a flexible approach. If you have poor credit control, so basically, if you’re allowing your customers to continuously pay late on invoices, you’re going to have a cash flow problem. Basically, you’re going to lose money, and that’s money which is owed to you, so you need to be hot on your customers’ heels to get paid. Not understanding how much things cost. A common problem is that a Web developer or a car mechanic, people will think, “Oh, yeah, that only costs this because you’re just changing a nut or a bolt, or you’re just changing a bit of code,” but there’s a cost associated with that because time does cost money. If you can get your head round understanding that things do cost money, then you’re on a good start for making a success.

Do you have any other advice?

Research, research, research. There’s no point in starting up a new venture if you haven’t got a clue what’s going on. It’s all a bit daunting when you first start. So, I mean, places like Growth Hub will provide a wealth of information for a startup. You’re also going to get a lot of knockbacks when you first start up. That’s part and parcel of running a business, and you’ve got to see whatever negativity you get, you turn into a positive. And also, listening to your customers. You may find out new pieces of business or new opportunities which you may have not thought about. So, it’s always good to listen to your clients and to your client base, and to use what they’re saying as a tool to help you develop your business further.

Don’t expect people to come to you. Don’t expect the phone to ring immediately, or if you just place one advert out there, it’s going to bring you 1,000 leads. You’ve got to go out to the marketplace. You’ve got to take your brand, your idea to the market, and sell it. It’s going to be a lot of hard work to start with, but once the brand starts to get known and recognized, the phone will start ringing. But, you’ve still got to push it, and don’t be complacent, and be flexible.

Academy School

Multi Academy Schools – A more flexible, functional solution for multiple website management

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Solving the problem of repetitive and laborious website management

We recently developed the system for a Multi Academy Trust , that has five different websites to manage. There was no real consistency across the sites; each with different systems, styles and branding, and no controlled way of working. Tasks were repetitive and laborious and didn’t make efficient use of resources.

Working closely with our strategic partners at the Agency for Education, that specialise in branding and marketing for schools, we were able to design a system that is tailor-made to the requirements of an academy trust.

The disadvantages of existing multi-site managers

While there are existing systems available that can manage multiple websites, they often only work well to a point. If you need more functionality than is available with the ‘off-the-shelf’ solution, you will typically be reliant on finding third-party plug-ins to adapt to your requirements.

Once you start looking at adding more interactivity and more functions in this way, there’s an increased danger of things going wrong. Relying on plug-ins to provide the functions you need also puts you at the mercy of the plug-in developer, who could change it, or scrap it at any time. When you come to upgrade, you could lose functionality and possibly be left with costly problems to fix.

Making square pegs fit round holes in this way can be time-consuming and expensive.

The Cocoonfxmedia multi-site management solution

Our new CMS system is designed specifically for you. It doesn’t rely on third-party plug-ins; whatever functionality you need can be built in quickly and easily at any time.

Easily control and manage multiple websites from one place. So, if an academy has five or 50 schools, each site can be set up using a template, with very little effort. Changes can be applied across all websites from a central place in one go, while tools and functions can also be deployed to individual sites where needed.

Other benefits of the solution for this Multi Academy School website include:

  • Complies with Ofsted’s recommendations for websites
  • Ability to manage one or more sites
  • The Academy or school has complete control over the templates available and these can be set up to match school branding and colour themes
  • Ability to add document downloads and assign them to any page within the system (PDF, Word and Excel)
  • Future proofed to ensure development is easy to manage
  • Course builder
  • Linked to Office 365 calendars to automatically publicise key dates and events
  • Attractive, easy to use gallery feature
  • Multi user access
  • Different sites can run on multiple domain names to maintain independence

For more information about multi website management, contact the Cocoonfxmedia team and one of our experts will be able to talk you through your options.

GDPR

Get ready for the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Monarchy web study

Using the Extended 3P’s in Practice [and in Digital Marketing]

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During our training in Marketing (as every marketing student can attest too), we were drilled in the importance of the ‘Marketing Mix’, otherwise known as the 7 P’s.

The traditional 4 P’s of Product, Place, Price and Promotion were easily applied to tangible products, however it was the extended 3 P’s added for the service sector that really caught our attention, especially working in a ‘service’ industry ourselves.

The extended 3 P’s of People, Process, and Physical Evidence, sounded great in theory, and in the world of text books and imagined scenarios, we could see how they could be implemented. However, in the real world of business, using the extended P’s in practice wasn’t as straightforward as we expected. But as a marketing business ourselves, it’s something that we have always considered and promoted.

So how can you use the extended 3 P’s in practice? Here’s our experience…

 

The Extended 3 P’s in Action 

PEOPLE: In the traditional sense, the people part of the extended 3 P’s refers to employees, because in the service sector, how employees interact with people can be the reason for a sale and even a repeat purchase. Therefore happy, skilled staff equal happy, satisfied customers.  By offering a better level of pre-sales and after-sales support, you can gain that all important advantage over competitors.

We found this to be the case when providing our web design service to a voluntary sector organisation called Talent Match.

The organisation had funding to develop a website aimed at helping young people (who were classed as furthest away from the job market) into work. However, they needed the young people involved in the web design process, but this wasn’t a typical service offered by web design companies.

Trained in the importance of ‘people’ in the marketing mix, and the development of B2B working relationships, our staff accepted the challenge of a new service. We provided focus-groups to the young people that were not only inclusive and informative, but fun and informal. You can see the outcome of that ‘people’ focussed service in our Talent Match case study.

However, offering that personal touch in our service offering didn’t just end there, we also offer continued communication, making sure staff working on projects are always just a phone call or email away; defining the timing of responses based on customer concern, not our own workload.

Read more: School system helps teachers stay bang up to date with their websites

PROCESS: The processes involved in delivering your marketing function and services will help form your brand reputation, either for good or for bad. Every process you have in place, from contact response times to complaint management needs to meet (and preferably exceed) customer expectations. Basically, the more efficient, easier and understandable the process, the more success you’ll have winning over customers.

An example of how we have supported customers to achieve the process aspect of the marketing mix, is by offering custom made website tools and designs to ease ‘pain points’ within the customer journey and experience.

For a recent project we did for a popular music festival, the client had identified that the original processes were not working well or meeting the needs of their new digital audience. Customers looking to book at a number of individual venues were being redirected from their original website to another site. They were also struggling to use the site on their mobiles and this caused further confusion and frustration.

To make the process more customer-centric, we updated the digital system to ease the booking process, making it a seamless transition for both the customers and B2B music venues to manage and monitor. By ensuring that the customer-preferred channel for booking was fit-for-purpose resulted in an increase in ticket sales from the previous year, and a wider audience reach.

PHYSICAL EVIDENCE: For a business to meet the physical evidence variable of the extended 3 P’s they must carefully choose how to portray their image through their physical presence; their premises, marketing collateral, staff appearance etc.  This is an important aspect for companies that don’t actually have a physical product to offer, as their image can be crucial in influencing customers to conduct business with them.

For companies that only offer intangible services, this is an aspect that can’t be ignored. Careful consideration of the appearance of your place of work, right down to the business cards you hand out, must work together to portray your brand message.

In an online context, each company website is a virtual ‘shop front.’ So the design and appearance often determines if visitors will stay and engage further. An outdated website, with poor function, portrays an outdated company, with poor understanding of their customer’s needs.

To support businesses to achieve the physical evidence part of the marketing mix, we provide websites that represent the companies brand values, as in the case of a driving school client. This client found that their website wasn’t attracting, or keeping visitors, with its outdated appearance possibly damaging its overall reputation.

The website needed to be updated to integrate with the offline experience and the message the company wished to portray. The driving school already utilised modern, bright and fun vehicles for students to learn in, and had enthusiastic and friendly instructors; the website and associated social media pages needed to portray that too.

Within a short time of improving the website with bright colours, easy navigation and fun, friendly content, the image of the business became more noticeable to visitors. Website users began staying for longer and the results for that business was a huge increase in enquiries which you can see here.

Reaping the Benefits of the Extended 3P’s

Within the service industry, the extended 3 P’s are actually very useful at helping businesses to achieve a competitive advantage; which is why we don’t just try and implement them in our own practices, but also support our clients to achieve these variables for their business services.

However, to be useful, they must be put into practice and developed on the individual needs of a company’s specific market. One size just doesn’t fit all.

By understanding each aspect of the 3 P’s and auditing your own business offerings, you should be able to identify areas for improvement that can be addressed within budget. This will then provide you with a stronger value proposition as well as establish you as a reputable business that works hard to meet the needs of its customers.

Have you recently supported a business to put one of the 3 P’s in to practice?

What lessons have you learnt from the extended marketing mix?

We’d love to hear your experiences, results and ideas below.

 

 

 

Links:

1: https://www.cocoonfxmedia.co.uk/marketing/marketing-mix-service-extension-3ps/

2: https://www.cocoonfxmedia.co.uk/case-studies/talent-match-staffordshire/

3: https://www.cocoonfxmedia.co.uk/case-studies/compete-online-helping-lichfield-festival-meet-needs-digital-audience/

4: https://www.cocoonfxmedia.co.uk/case-studies/case-study-driving-real-results-new-engaging-website/

 

Arts Festival Website

15% increase in bookings – helping Lichfield Festival meet the needs of a digital audience

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There’s no denying that the technological and digital advances of recent years have opened up a whole new world of opportunities all round.

But it’s also another area in which businesses and organisations are having to compete. Let’s face it, people now expect to be able to do everything online – and not only that, they want to do it in a matter of minutes. If you can’t keep up, the chances are you’re losing out.

This was the situation being faced by the Lichfield Festival organisers when we were recommended to the charity through our links with the Chamber of Commerce.

Website no longer fit for purpose?

The nine-day festival hosts a jam-packed programme of world-class music, art and entertainment in venues across Lichfield every year. It has become an important date in the West Midlands calendar and brings some top names to the area.

However, the old website was no longer fit for purpose and was not in line with what people expected from such a popular and well put-together event.

A good website should be helping you to grow and achieve bigger and better things all the time. As soon as it’s become a hindrance, it’s time to call in the experts.

This is where we stepped in. We are proud to have become an official partner of the Lichfield Festival and, as creative bods ourselves, are happy to support initiatives which encourage creativity and innovation.

Identifying goals to rapidly boost business

Although it’s a charity, we approached this project as we approach any web design and web development brief. And the first step is always taking time to understand a business or organisation’s goals and objectives.

It’s no good creating a shiny new all-singing, all-dancing website if it doesn’t help you achieve your current and long-term objectives.

The Lichfield Festival website needed to better meet the needs of an increasingly digital audience, provide a better service for those accessing the site from their mobile phones, attract new and younger audiences and capture the data of users to help shape future festivals.

What we did:

Improved booking – The Lichfield Festival is made up of dozens of events at a variety of venues. Previously, people booking online were immediately diverted to the Lichfield Garrick website and had to do everything in triplicate. Festival organisers had no way of monitoring sales without contacting the Garrick directly. It was unhelpful and time consuming.

There is now a seamless transition for people booking events and organisers can manage and monitor bookings at all times.

Improved flexibility – The previous system used an older style CMS and didn’t have any real flexibility. Now content can be added quicker, galleries are better and events can be managed much more easily.

Mobile phone friendly – Most people now use their smart phones to access the internet so making sure your website is mobile friendly is a fundamental aspect of web design. The Lichfield Festival site is now much more responsive to mobile phone users and information can be easily shared via social media.

Mapped user journey – Festival organisers now have access to invaluable knowledge and data about who is visiting their website and where they are coming from. This information will be used to help shape future festivals to ensure events appeal to those who are attending.

Meeting objectives – Encouraging participation in the arts and inspiring people to volunteer with the event is a key objective for the Lichfield Festival Association. The new website helps to meet these objectives through the new design and layout.

Fresh new design and layout – The previous site was old and tired. The new website has been redesigned and rebranded so it looks fresh and modern, as well as being much easier to use.

Results

Helen Wiser, Chair of Lichfield Festival, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the new website that Cocoonfxmedia has built for the Lichfield Festival. The company has been a pleasure to work with, offering advice and support throughout the project and accurately translating our ideas into reality.”

Since the new website went live in April, ticket sales have increased against last year and some events have already sold out. Traffic to the website is improved and it is now being visited by a better spread of people from around the country, including increased web traffic from London.”

To find out how your website could be helping you achieve your business goals, contact the Cocoonfxmedia team for more information.

eCommerce for research

Custom design for when you need more than an ‘off the shelf’ solution

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There will usually come a time in every website’s life when it’s no longer fit for purpose, typically because either technology, or your business, has moved on.

There may also come a time when you need more functionality than an ‘off the shelf’ solution can provide.

This was the case recently for our longstanding customers, PI-KEM, who needed a much more complex and flexible website to meet the changing needs of their business.

Web design and web development is not a static, one-off service. It’s a fluid process that has to be re-evaluated as technology advances and businesses grow and develop. Many of our customers stay with us for years on end because we grow with them by ensuring their website is always performing to the benefit of the business.

What the company needed from its website

PI-KEM is a specialist supplier of advanced materials and equipment for science, research and industry. Although the company is based in the UK, it supplies its materials worldwide.

The company needed a website that was more functional, flexible and user friendly. They needed extra security and additional features across the e-commerce, payment, blog and gallery functions.

Custom design

At Cocoonfxmedia we are not afraid of going off grid to provide a company with a custom design website that has the functionality and capacity that it needs. This is exactly what we did for PI-KEM. We built the business a brand new website from the ground up, within a flexible framework that can easily be added to and adapted at any time as the business continues to grow.

Not only does this mean the website is totally unique to PI-KEM, it is also future proof. By building it from scratch within a new framework, we will be able to develop and install additional features at any time. This means something which would previously have taken weeks to achieve will now take only a matter of days.

leftCase

Streamlining processes

A major element of the PI-KEM web development project was to create a website that was much easier for the client to use and manage. Previously the people at PI-KEM had to log in to different platforms to manage different areas of the website, such as the e-commerce section, blog and gallery.

These processes have all been streamlined so that everything can now be uploaded from one area.

Uploading products to the store was previously a long-winded and unreliable process, as it was not originally built to cope with the range that is available today.

This has now been vastly improved so that products and price updates, such as increases or reductions, can now be applied on mass, in one go.

The result of all these new features is greatly-improved, streamlined processes which save masses of time for the client.

Improving the user experience

Another important element of the custom design process was to improve the user experience. User expectations are high these days, to the point that people will likely leave your website in a matter of seconds if they don’t find what they are looking for or can’t easily navigate their way round.

Improving the user experience can’t just be based on guesswork. To do it, we first take the time to understand who your users are and what they are looking for.

We looked at the complete PI-KEM user journey and, through our research, were able to identify two distinct user personas; one who is academic, looking for technical information to inform their buying decision process and one who knows exactly what they are looking for and wants to head straight to it.

By understanding these profiles, we were able to make sure the website works for all its users.

We introduced a range of improvements including fresh new branding, easier navigation, improved mobile responsiveness and the ability to request more information about specific products from the product page itself, rather than going to another screen and filling in a contact request form.

Users can easily locate the part they want to buy and payment is straight-forward.

Results

The results of the new website have been almost immediate. In a very short time frame, the average time spent on site has increased by 85%, alongside a 37% increase in the number of pages being viewed.

If you have complex requirements and need a custom design, contact the Cocoonfxmedia team for more information. We love a good challenge!

Web Design Lichfield

Lichfield Festival reveals brand new website thanks to local web design and digital marketing firm

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The popular Lichfield Festival charity has been given a welcome boost in the form of a brand new state-of-the-art website, thanks to a local web design and digital marketing company.

The new site, created by Lichfield-based Cocoonfxmedia, is more user-friendly, more interactive and has a range of new features which have helped ensure the growing event meets the demands of an increasingly digital audience.

More traffic is being driven to the website where it is now easier to manage and book events online. The new site also enables festival organisers to analyse data about the demographic of visitors to the site which will help capture new audiences and shape future festivals.

Established in 1981, the Lichfield Festival is Staffordshire’s leading multi-arts festival and an important date in the West Midlands arts calendar. Staged over nine days, the festival hosts a jam-packed programme of world-class music, art and entertainment in a variety of venues across the city.

Cocoonfxmedia is an award-winning and growing Lichfield company which has been helping businesses improve their web presence and digital marketing strategies for more than six years. The company is keen to support creativity and innovation and was delighted to partner the Lichfield Festival.

James Blackman, managing partner at Cocoonfxmedia, said: “We had been looking for opportunities to work with a local charity and are particularly keen to support arts, creativity and innovation. We were recommended to the Lichfield Festival charity through our links with the Chamber of Commerce and were delighted to get on board by donating our services and expertise.

“The new-look website is mobile responsive, much easier to use and navigate, both for users of the website and organisers of the festival. It also looks a lot better. The site desperately needed updating and is now more fitting to the demands of today’s increasingly digital audiences.

“This will hopefully help to retain existing audiences as well as capture new ones. One of the big things we did was to improve the booking system so that tickets can now be booked through the Lichfield Festival website using the Lichfield Garrick booking system.

“Since the new website went live last month, ticket sales are up on last year and the festival has already sold out for some events. Traffic to the website is improved and they are now getting a better spread of people from around the country, including increased web traffic from London.”

Helen Wiser, Chair of Lichfield Festival, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the new website that James Blackman of Cocoonfxmedia has built for the Lichfield Festival.  The company has been a pleasure to work with, offering advice and support throughout the project and accurately translating our ideas into reality.

“Despite a relatively short time frame and a wide-ranging brief, our new website came to fruition without stress and we are thrilled with the result.”

Lichfield Festival executive director, Jennifer Mears, added: “Working with James and Glen at Cocoonfxmedia on our new website has been a delight. Their creative ideas, support and general encouragement has been excellent and the Lichfield Festival now has a great new website we are proud to shout about.”

As a new partner for the Lichfield Festival, James and the Cocoonfxmedia team were invited to a special festival preview at the House of Commons last week.

The event was hosted by Lichfield Festival’s principal partner, London Midland, and introduced by Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant – one of the event’s patrons.

It was also attended by singing legend and TV personality Tony Hadley, who was revealed as one of the festival’s newest patrons. The Spandau Ballet singer and I’m a Celebrity star has agreed to lend his weight to the event as it continues to grow as the Midlands’ premier multi-arts festival.

This year’s Lichfield Festival takes place between July 7 and July 15 and will bring more than 60 events to venues across the area, from big names in comedy, folk and classical music to fringe theatre, free events and family shows.

More information is available via the new website at www.lichfieldfestival.org.

A Short (But Very Useful) Guide to Website Planning

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Starting from scratch when planning a website can be daunting.

Yes, there are templates available online, best practice examples and a general idea of how you’d like it to look; but none of those things will ensure your website will end up successful.

Of course, we all want our websites to look good. But just having a visually appealing site alone doesn’t convert visitors to customers – your website needs to have the right strategy, and this can be achieved by taking some time to properly plan your website.

Where to Start When It Comes to Website Planning

If you’re about to commission a website designer to build you a website, you are at some point, going to have to tell them what you expect from that site.

This is where a lot of businesses neglect to provide enough details on the plan and purpose of the website, leaving it ultimately to the website designer… and then later complaining that the website isn’t performing how they expected.

Planning your website properly in order to achieve specific objectives is crucial for quick success; rather than trying to rectify problems at a later stage and costing you more money.

To support our clients to create a good website plan, we suggest downloading our helpful design brief1.  This is a short guide to help you plan your website and think about aspects that will shape and form the layout, content and strategy of your site. So, go ahead and click the download link1 and save your document; we’ll be waiting here for you when you return to discuss the areas of website planning.

Areas of Website Planning; What to Consider

  1. Web Hosting and Domain name Details

We’ll just cover this briefly, as these technical questions can easily be assessed and answered by your professional website designer.

Web Hosting is the server space where your website will be stored and is purchased through a web hosting service. If this hasn’t been paid for, your web designer should be able to arrange this or signpost you to a reputable service provider.

The domain name is your website address and can be bought and registered at an internet domain registrar, again your web developer can help you with this if you don’t have one already.

 

  1. Business and Website Goals

In order to reach a destination, you need to know where you’re going and how to get there. The same is true for your website.

Page 2 of the design brief will help you to do that.

This is the section where you need to ask yourself, why does my business need a website?  To do that, you need to look at the purpose of your organisation and the business goals.

Start by writing down your long-term goals; your mission. Then the short-term goals for where you would like your business to be in 12 months.

This is necessary as achieving business goals will be the overall aim throughout the entire process. Here are some examples2 of business goals and how these relate to your website.

As you can see from those examples, the goals for websites looking to sell products online, will be different for those looking to generate leads. Once you have the purpose of your website written down, you can move on to the next important stage, which is how you will motivate your website visitors to take action; achieving your goals.

  1. Focusing on the Website Audience 

The only way your website will be successful is if it meets the needs of your target audience.

Knowing who you want the website to appeal to, as well understanding the needs of visitors is research you won’t want to skip over.

So, write down as much as possible about your intended audience, including their demographic, persona and then think about what experience these visitors would want to have. 

  • Do they want a website that provides technical details and specifics easily without searching through pages of content?
  • Do they want to read blogs and experiences to alleviate concerns over entering a new contract?
  • Do they want to linger on photos, video’s, music or use forums with like-minded people?
  • Do they want to purchase something safely, quickly and easily?

As well as thinking about the needs of your customers, don’t forget to think about things your audience won’t want, such as a site where they get lost searching for what they need or a website that irritates them with lots of pop-ups or adverts. When you have an idea of what your website should include, this information can be added to page 4 of your design brief.

When you have an insight into what your customers want to achieve once they are on your website (and remember, it may not necessarily be what you would like), you can then work with your web developer to create a site that your customers will be happy to come back to again and again.

  1. Learning from Your Competitors

For your website planning, don’t forget to assess the competition. It may be that you can learn some good practice, or it may be that you can learn practices to avoid.

Visit competitor sites and go through the process as you would a new customer; look at what works well, what frustrates you. Write them down and incorporate them in to your own website plans.

The idea is to gain an edge on your competitors, however if you’re struggling to find a tactic that your competitors already haven’t covered, then speak with your web developer who can suggest new tactics or ideas you may not have thought about, such as we do at our friendly white board sessions3.

  1. Site Content

Now is the time to plan the content and functionality of the website (page 5 of your design brief).

To start planning your website content, first consider which information is vital to include to achieve your business goals, such as:

  • A clear, brief explanation of what your business does
  • Your unique selling point – what makes your business / service / product different to your competitors
  • Your online value proposition – why customers should interact with your business online and on your website
  • Service and product descriptions
  • Contact details

Then consider additional content that will motivate the right actions. Content that will funnel your visitors towards the end goal; these could be blogs, videos, case studies, technical data, articles and images.

You don’t have to write every bit of content just yet, as you’re only creating a plan that will help form an overview and a site map. From here you can get an idea of how many web pages are required as this will help when it comes to finalising the cost of the website build.

In addition to content, you also need to consider the functionality of your website; what tools and facilities will make it work. Don’t worry, you won’t need to have any technical knowledge, you’ll just need to think about what will enable your visitors to meet the goals you’ve set, which could be a purchase, a contact, form filling or sign-up.

So at this point, you’ll need to specify if your site will need a shop (eCommerce), if you want to use or even create a specific tool, such as a ‘design your own’ section, or ‘calculate the cost’ tool. There are also other options you may want to think about, including a customer login and database, app downloads and how you would like your website to be viewed on a mobile device.

The earlier you can identify and plan the functionality of your website, the easier it will be to build and design a site that is optimised for success.

Putting Your Website Plan into Action

Once you have completed your design brief, you’ll certainly have a clear vision of what you want your website to achieve, and how you will motivate visitors to take a desired action.

With a little bit of focused website planning, you can be sure that you’re on your way to a successful and effective website.

All you need to do now, is to meet with your website developers for a relaxed and friendly initial consultation4.

At your initial consultation, you can further your ideas with expert knowledge from your website designer, as well as alleviate any concerns you may have over price and process.

So, there you have our short guide to website planning. Once you’ve asked yourself the right questions, and spent some time considering the needs of your visitors, you’ll be surprised how crucial website planning was to the success of your business objectives.

If you’ve found this short guide to website planning useful or know a business that could benefit, please feel free to share it – it’s easy just use the buttons floating down the left handside.

For more support with website planning, or information on the next step of website design, click here5.

 

Links:

1: https://cocoonfxmedia-co-uk.r.worldssl.net/wp-content/uploads/brief-questions-website.docx

2: https://www.cocoonfxmedia.co.uk/planning-a-website/why-do-i-need-a-website/

3: https://www.cocoonfxmedia.co.uk/planning-a-website/website-specification/

4: https://www.cocoonfxmedia.co.uk/planning-a-website/initial-consulation/

5: https://www.cocoonfxmedia.co.uk