First of all this whole topic is subjective. The most important thing is that whatever you write represents you and your organisation in a way that pleases you. If there is any doubt about that you may want to consider some form of split testing where you create several versions, show them to staff or stakeholders (or me) and see which gets the best response.
In the meantime here are some guidelines. The 12 points below are not a definitive list and are not in any particular order. They are just some suggestions to act as a guide. Choose the points that are applicable to your business or market sector and discard the others.
Before getting into things. I feel the need to say that everything in this post is just my understanding of what can be a confusing legal area. Also if anyone can see anything wrong with what I write please let me know.
There are three main reasons I either create my own images or license them*.
In my opinion after the quality and appropriateness of the image (which is very good from most providers) having confidence in the images legality and long-term availability is worth paying for. This is especially true now that images are relatively cheap to license.
As I write I realise that this is a traditional view of image licensing and in the modern world of micro-stock and amateur portfolios it may be outdated. The point is that I do everything I can to minimise risk when it come to business, yours or mine.
On a contractual note when James Image Management purchases images for clients they need the client to agree to be bound by the licensing agreement that comes with the image. This is done to protect our company, your company and the creator of the image.
*Nothing in this post should be taken as legal advice on which you can rely. It is for general information only and just represents my understanding of current UK legislation. If you are unsure of your position regarding image rights I strongly recommend that you take professional legal advice.
Substance over style is a notion that anyone involved in website development needs to keep in mind. When all is said and done great content always beats great style. But you as a website owner can always strive for both.
I'm writing about this because one of the few things that seem to be universally accepted in the world of web development and internet marketing is that content prevails when it comes to delivering a positive experience to your visitors. Good content attracts loyal visitors. I always follow this first principle by emphasising the need for veracity, authenticity and trustworthiness.
You have to attend to all of this on every single page of your website. Every page is important and every page deserves your full attention. The problem is that often the hardest part of creating content, especially written content, is structure. I find that most website owners have a lot to say but sometimes don't know how to say it. When I get stuck I default to a sequence of questions I have relied on for over 40 years. I ask myself;
Who? What? Why? Where? When? How?
You are probably aware of the fact, that there's nothing new or original about this. As a student I became aquatinted with the ancient Greek orator Hermagoras of Temnos and then Rudyard Kipling and later still Aristotle. But the truth is that I came to it through the 1958 movie 'Teachers Pet' starring Clark Gable. By the time I saw the movie I was in my teens and the power of asking simple questions, has stuck with me ever since.
In the movie the questions were applied to journalism. I have found that they can be applied to most content creation especially where you are trying to tell your audience a story. For those of you that have read this far I hope you can see how I applied the questions to this post.
One final thing. I found out a long time ago that it's okay to be plain spoken, if what you are telling people is exciting.
To save you time you should know up-front and unsurprisingly I think the answer is to build your own website but get help from someone like us. However there is more to it.
There is a lot written on the internet about how to choose a web design company. Common checklists include;
So far-so-good. But, and there is always a but. I still find that the most important thing on peoples mind is budget closely followed by the realisation that great website performance, design and branding all come at a price and often the TOTAL price is less than clear. This is especially true when ongoing fees, the cost of updates and additional pages are factored in.
This in my opinion this lack of cost vs clarity led to the surge of DIY website builders we see today. This means for many people the problem has become choice. To check I did a quick search on "how to build a website" and was presented with 2,070,000,000 results - I make that over 2 billion options!
There are a few major players in the market which simplifies things but based on my interaction with small businesses over the last decade what owners want is affordable good looking functional websites that they can control without being too technical.
In recent times there has only been 2 main choices -
This middle ground sits between a costly fully custom coded website that almost always requires professional and a cheap fully DIY adventure that demands competency in website design, branding, photo editing, writing content, keywords and search engine optimisation.
It should come as no shock that it is this third choice that James Image Management currently operates in and recommends to all budget conscious businesses that want to keep control of their biggest shop window. Get someone who will start you off, listens to what you want and helps you when you want to make changes. This can bring the best of all worlds-
A final consideration. Recent history tells us that no website, server or content management system is 100% safe against cyber attacks/hacks. This is relevant here because some online builders rely on the website manager to keep up with security issues by regularly installing security updates. Most newcomers understand the importance of these updates but not the urgency. The thing to remember is that some platforms attract more hacking attacks than others. So any delay upgrading security patches as they come along can allow criminals into your site which can ultimately lead to the site and domain name becoming unusable. It's the sort of costly mistake that you only make once. It's also one thing less to worry about if all of the 'backend' security required is high quality and comes as standard in the systems you are using.
This post is inspired by something I have just read that reminded me of the importance of function when it comes to web design. The RNIB article 'Now, it's more important than ever that everyone can read your information!' It caught my eye because it follows on from the RNIB* advising, strongly, that websites don't use justified text.
There are generally four alignment options for text Left, right, centred and justified. The problem is that justified text can create large spaces and patterning in text blocks that can make it harder to read the actual text.
We have always been mindful of creating justified text that looked natural on the page but this was more for the look of the page than any other consideration. However with the growing acceptance that accessibility is something everyone should be taking more seriously we now take the view that it's easier to avoid any issues by using standard text.
Because of this we now recommend not using justified text on all new websites and over time will be looking to reconfigure our existing sites.
*Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
When I write I always struggle with talking about what I think about things. This is mostly because anything I write is invariably the result of some sort of group effort or conversation. This problem is compounded when I write for websites that I build and control. If I'm not careful my name ends up everywhere.
The message then is that when planning your website you should decide what voice you want to use and how you want to present yourself to your visitors. If you are an expert in your subject be clear about it. If you are an aggregator of facts and opinions don't hide it.
The James Image Management Website is a clear example of this. I built the site and created all of the content, BUT I am not alone in my delivery of the service. I have a team of people and partners that I can call upon for help. The net result is that I can deliver a very personal product knowing I have the technical back-up to deliver it.
The point is that even though my name is on most of these posts and the website refers to us as a group it all comes down to the fact that clients can be confident that any projects WE undertake are controlled by a single person ME.
Hopefully this blog provide some insight into what we offer, provide inspiration for you to build the website you have always wanted and help with developing your business generally.