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The Pros and Cons of Custom Websites

By | Custom Websites, Responsive Web Design, Web Design, Website Development | No Comments

For businesses, it is a must in this day and age to have a website. It is your home base and your business address in the virtual world.  Having a great website can actually help or hurt your business. A great website will reflect on your business, helping it gain more clients and become more successful.  A poorly made one will look messy and unprofessional, turning off clients even from the very start.; and this is not great from a business perspective.

In the process of getting a website for your business, there are 2 very big decisions you have to make–whether to use a template type of website or have a custom one built.  Each one has its own pros and cons and it really depends on you, your needs and available resources as a business.

Template websites are those that are pre-designed and basically pre-made. Coding has already been done for you so all it will need is a bit of time to get your information in and some tweaking and customization from your end. To cite a few benefits of choosing these types of websites, they are 1) very inexpensive (and they can even be free!), 2) they are pretty much plug-and-play and you can do all the customization on your own and will have no need for a website developer or third-party company to help you, and 3) they are very quick to do so you can have your site up and running in as fast as a few hours.

There are drawbacks though, to this kind of website. More often than not, it is very easy to see that the site is a template site and it lacks the professional look that your business may need.  It will also look very similar to other sites since templates are readily available. These sites may not stand out and may not function as well as you would like since you would be limited to the features and plug-ins available to you.  More importantly–and this much be stressed as very important, template websites may not be as secure as you would want them to be since the code is easily accessible. Website support, SEO and marketing tools, and analytics are also quite lacking for template websites.

Custom websites, on the other hand, are those that are basically built from scratch.  They are your idea and your concept made possible through collaboration with a great web development team (should you not have the skills yourself). Custom websites are unique and created specifically for your business needs.

Looking more into custom websites, we can cite some pros and cons.

PROS:

They are created solely for you so they are uniquely yours and have the full functionality you need.

This means that the site is planned, created and built just for you and your business. Everything from conceptualizing, planning and building of the site is geared towards your business needs.  This also means that there is a lot of focus on showing your brand personality and you can be sure that your website will look very unique and professional.

Your web development team will take care of the building, optimizing, maintaining and keeping your site safe.

Most website development teams will work with you from the conception of your website, to making sure that it is optimized for SEO, to maintaining and updating your site and making sure that your site is kept secure. This is something that template website providers lack in, or should they offer these things, will add on more costs and fees.

Custom websites are fully tested before launch.

This is great to make sure that your website performs well and is available to all browsers.  Also, any necessary software integration and capabilities of your website will be tested to make sure that everything is working well.

Custom websites grow with your business

One of the biggest advantages of having a custom website is that there is always room for growth as your business grows and changes. You need not be stuck with a site that is obsolete because your business needs have changed or you may have new offerings as a business;  you have decided to use new software. Since your custom website is built from scratch, you do not need to create a whole new site to accommodate your needs as you grow.

Let’s now take a look at the biggest cons when opting for custom websites:

CONS:

They can get pricey

Unless you have the skills to code and create a custom website yourself, the general process is to find and hire a reputable web development company or team that can help you get your brainchild online.  Hiring a good company costs quite a bit more than template sites and you would need to make time to find a team, draft a contract, and then brainstorm and collaborate with the team to create your website. 

They take time

Custom websites take much longer to build than template sites which can be up and running within a few hours.  Since a custom website is built from scratch, the time needed to build, test and make sure that the site is running well is much longer. This can take weeks, if not a couple of months.

It may be hard to communicate your vision and ideas

This is especially true if it will be your first website for your business.  There may be some difficulty being able to share your vision and your idea to the website development team. Again, relaying back and forth ideas and concepts may take more time.  A good website development company will be ready for such situations though and will be able to guide you through the planning and concept development process.

Though more tedious and time-consuming, custom websites–when done in collaboration with a good website development company, is more than worth the time, effort and cost.  If done well and made to suit your business perfectly, a custom website will help you put your best foot forward and give your website the edge to succeed from the time it is up and running and for years to come.

 

-This article was written by Abby Villarica from Green Box

Why link your website to your CRM

By | Customer Relationship Management - CRM, Forms, HubSpot, Marketing Automation, Web Design, Wordpress | No Comments

This post runs over why you would connect a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system ( such as Hubspot) to your website.

Many CRMs now allow you to capture form data on your website and pull this into the CRM, this has the following benefits to you:

  • store users information in your CRM
  • be able to follow up in CRM and have all the interactions in CRM so you can see the history of interactions with that person
  • see what the user has been looking at on your website

 

Hubspot WordPress form integration

The are 2 main ways of taking the users details from your website:

  • a form (standard or popup)
  • a chat box

An example form might look something like above ( this is one I’ve generated in Hubspot , but you can customise and generate your own forms in many ways in Hubspot, manually with HTML or with a tool such as Gravity forms for WordPress, or with other tools). Also remember to make sure you are GDPR compliant if your in the EU.

When the user submits the above form, this is what is will look like in Hubspot.

Hubspot captured lead from WordPress website

 

As you can see the data from the form is recorded in the activity section above and a new contact (Beavis) has been generated in the CRM contacts database. Where you can record all your interactions with this contact ( email , phone and so on ). Emails can also be automatically logged into your CRM and you can automate replies to emails with Marketing Automation sequences. This can be very useful when you have a large number of users (for example your supporters contacting your Charity or Not for Profit Organisation).

I’ve been using Hubspot in this article but the same can be done with others such as Salesforce ( and many others ). I haven’t gone into much technical detail in this post, only why and what are the benefits of this.

CRMs are great for following up and interacting with your supporters, customers, leads and so on. I hope I’ve shown you how you can easily ( and automatically ) put form contacts from your website into your chosen CRM, to make this process easy and save you time.

I plan to write another article on the technical aspects of how todo, what I’ve described briefly ( integrate your WordPress website with a CRM like Hubspot)  in the coming months, but if you’d like help with doing this then please contact us below.

How to engage your staff using your Intranet

By | Buddypress, Intranet, PHP, Web Design, Wordpress | No Comments

In this article, we’ll look at some ideas for useful things to have on your intranet and how to use these to help engage your Employees, members or Volunteers.

intranet employee engagement features

What are the benefits of engaged staff ?

  • Happy workforce ( productive workforce, helps business be more profitable)
  • Low Staff turnover ( saves money in recruitment and training)

Useful Intranet features  for employee engagement

Employee Recognition Section

Make your staff feel engaged by recognising them and their achievements ( both personal and professional ). A section on your homepage for this would really make people feel valued, and a good way for other employees to spark up a conversation with the recognised individual ( or team) Some ideas of the kind of thing to recognise:

  • An employee has a work anniversary
  • An employee is doing a Marathon for charity
  • A employee or team have delivered a great project that will help company save money
  • The works Football team are doing well

“Our Intranet features a news feed with stories of employee honors and work anniversaries, volunteering, company sponsorships and other news with links to more details. It can be a challenge sharing our culture across four states in a regulated industry. But people love reading about and seeing images of colleagues they know as well as those they’ve never met. By far we’ve gotten the most engagement posting photos of employees in Halloween costumes and celebrating Ugly Sweater Day. In a regulated industry, the simple, silly things unite us and we laugh together. ” – An Intranet Manager I interviewed that wishes to remain anonymous.

 

New Employees Section

Welcome your new employees, with a section on the homepage, linking to their staff profiles.

Suggestions

Have somewhere, that employees can easily post suggestions, to save money, to make staff more engaged, to make money and so on. Your staff are your businesses greatest asset ( often the ones on the shop floor close to certain areas of the business can deliver great insights – that might otherwise never come to light). You could incentivise with a monthly prize for the best suggestion.

Personalisation

Display relevant content to the Intranet visitor based on one or a number of criteria ( or even let users pick what they want to see).

Displaying content based on a Persona 

E.g. one type of persona could be ‘New Starter’ , are there any important documents they need to read, are their specific forms they might need to fill ( eg bank details so they can get paid on time).

If your a large organisation (with multiple locations across the globe) you might want display things based on the location, or the team ( maybe HR need to see something different to IT and so on).

Allowing Users to pick content they are interested in

You can let users pick some of the content they are interested in and have it displayed prominently for them.

 

Are you looking to have an intranet developed or would like to upgrade / improve your existing Intranet ? Get in touch we’re experts in this area.

 

Using WordPress as a Company Intranet

By | Intranet, PHP, Web Design, Wordpress | No Comments

planning a WordPress Intranet

WordPress can be a great choice as a company / staff Intranet, but it’s important to first define what features you need. Then to either code the features or choose plugins to use / customise.

Being a programmer, I think WordPress is an excellent intranet choice, the WordPress API allows you to customise things to how you want.

In this article I’ll later discuss some useful plugins for some of the main features.

Common features of a staff intranet

There are many possible features an Intranet website can have, these are probably the ones that nearly all Intranets will need.

  • Company news
  • Knowledge base / Document management System
  • Staff Directory and Profiles

Other features a company Intranet may need:

  • Forms ( online / downloadable printable forms )
  • Staff Events Calendar
  • Blog/s
  • HR section (policies and the like )
  • Social network features (such as groups, group threads, user to user messaging )
  • WordPress integration with Microsoft Active Directory (if you choose WordPress and your on a windows network)

Look and feel and navigation

This is down to preference, but some things to consider are:

  • Company branding
  • A good homepage will have latest news prominently displayed.
  • Good navigation and Search feature to allow staff to navigate to the things that important to them.

 

How to achieve the main Intranet features with WordPress

 

Document Management

WordPress has basic document management built into it as standard through the media library, which for many organisations will do what you need.

For basic Document Management on an Intranet you need to ability to:

  • Upload a file and store it
  • Generate a link to the file that can be used anywhere on the Intranet (allowing easy access)

Once you have this functionality you can create pages and put the documents on the pages, eg you might have a HR (Human Resources) section that has a policy documents page (just add the links to the page). Go to the file in the media library and get the link like in the image below:

If you want to go further, an example might be wanting to have review dates for documents. So you can guarantee that policies and training documents etc are upto date, then a good starting point is the WP Document Revisions Plugin (you’ll need to customise it alittle for review date functionality):

https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-document-revisions/

Company News

The blog feature of WordPress can be used for posting articles on any topic. If you want to create a company news section, a simple way is to create a category type of ‘company news’ and then add this to any post you want to have in the company news section.

E.g if I wanted a Javascript posts section on my website I could create ‘javascript’ category and then all the javascript posts are on this page: http://www.green-box.co.uk/category/javascript/ ( so long as i tag each post with that category ).

You probably want this also on your homepage, todo this alter the template for the homepage and drop in something like below or use a widget if you have widget areas and don’t want to touch any code https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/category-posts/ .

Staff Directory and Profiles

There are many plugins for creating staff directories, this depends on your needs. A straightforward one is Ultimate member:

https://wordpress.org/plugins/ultimate-member/

Another good one (with lots of features), is Buddypress. This one might be overkill if you want basic staff directory. It has member features for creating a social network – such as groups, member to member messaging and so on.

https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/buddypress/

Conclusion

I hope this gives you some insight in creating an Intranet with WordPress. Although I’ve only touched on some of the basic features here.

If you’re planning an Intranet or would just like to know more, enter your email below to receive my free pdf which goes into much more depth on creating some other features that you might find useful things like:

  • being able to easily create forms
  • integrating WordPress with Microsoft Active Directory

If you’d like my free PDF on Intranet Development with WordPress please enter your email below:

please email me on [email protected]

 

How to do Ajax in WordPress

By | Ajax, Javascript, Web Design, Wordpress | No Comments

updated 10th Jan 2018

Write a javascript function to trigger the ajax call

Put js above in my_js_file.js (see later in this post).

Wrap in code below for nice loading:

jQuery( document ).ready(function() {    put above code here     });

To see how to send a form via ajax see here.

 

Write a php function to handle the ajax call (you could put this in functions.php)

 

There is one final piece, you might notice the ajax_object.ajax_url in the Javascript function above. We need to make this available in the js file that this function is in. This needs to be done in php.

Include ajax_url like this (below)

 

Woocommerce – Converting grams to kilograms ( product weights)

By | Web Design, Woocommerce, Wordpress | No Comments

If your using product weights in Woocommerce, you might find you want to change from grams to kilograms at some stage.

There are 2 parts to this:

Part 1:

Firstly in wp-admin you need to change a setting on the Woocommerce (below).

However this doesn’t automatically convert grams to kilograms.

convert from grams to kilograms setting

Part 2:

Converting existing products grams to kilograms.

For this you’ll need to use a little script, I created this one as a page template.