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...to the September issue of the Mr Site newsletter – we hope it’s been a great month for you. We’ve got some great homepage design tips from Mr Site’s very own senior designer along with expert advice about business planning from Kim Farrell of CBHC Chartered Accountants LLP. Not to mention our Website of the Month and all the normal Mr Site updates!

Homepage tips

Have you struggled with creating the perfect homepage for your website? Never fear! Mr Site’s senior designer, Craig Collie, has kindly offered to share his words of wisedom to get you on the road to homepage success:

Designing your homepage can be one of the most challenging tasks when building your website – it requires careful planning and lots of thought. Not only is your homepage one of the most important pages for search engine ranking but, it’s also the starting point for capturing your customers’ attention to ensure they continue through to the rest of your website.

The best homepage designs have a couple of headers, a small body of text that defines what the website is about and some constantly updated content to keep things juicy for search engines.

Another thing you must consider for your homepage is a ‘call to action’ – these are buttons, links or images on your website that direct visitors through to other (and important) parts of your website in just a click. These have one specific task and that’s to move people from one page to another. They should be prominently positioned on your homepage and captivate people’s attention.

An example of a 'call to action' on the Mr Site homepage

For example – if you make jewellery then your homepage should take visitors directly to the pages that showcase your products, your online shop or details of where you can purchase the products. You should also have a link to a news page, which will keep visitors up to date about the release of any new stock or trade fairs you might be selling at.

One thing that many people tend to do when designing a homepage is fill it up with too much content. While this may help to make the page search engine friendly, your customers will undoubtedly be turned off by this strategy. My advice – beware of over-filling your homepage with too much content.

Use the list below to find out what makes a great home page….and what makes a not-so-great homepage:
The good... The bad...
Include a main header and a sub-header that delivers a statement about your website and what it offers.
Include a small body of text that uses specific keywords which define your website, what it does and what pages the visitor should go to next – you can include some of your links here.
If you know a photographer, or are a photographer yourself, use some nice images that link through to other parts of your website. Don’t overdo it though; clean, well photographed images will work wonders for your website.
Alternatively, stock photograph can give your website personality – check out www.istockphoto.com or www.sxc.hu for some nice imagery.
Have a section on your homepage that you regularly update, based on new events or anything that is happening at the current time.
Remember – visitors need to be able to figure out what your website is about in under ten seconds
Don’t use copious amounts of non-related text on your homepage. Keep it simple, clean and readable.
Don’t include links to other websites on your homepage – instead use some internal links to direct customers where you want them to go.
Poorly photographed images or low quality images will severely disadvantage your website. Beware of super high quality images that are designed for printing and not the web. Avoid these, and try to get some nice photos that are sized correctly for the internet.

Website of the month

Phil Entwhistle
Thank you to everyone who submitted an entry to Website of the Month – as always we saw a very high standard from everyone! Congratulations to Paul Entwistle of www.pictureblast.co.uk who has captured a niche in the market… and has a great website to go with it:
“Not only does our site look professional – but it’s rated highly by Google, to the extent that for the keywords ‘photo both hire’ we’re ranked number one in the UK. As you can imagine – my business has gone through the roof! We have worked for massive clients, such as Starbucks, Revlon and River Island (to name a few) and football legend Alan Shearer booked us for his 40th birthday party. I place credit to the success of the business down to the website – it’s easy to update when I want or need to, with no waiting around for expensive invoices, and its Google friendly – without stumbling across Mr Site I doubt I would have been able to give up my job…let alone employ my own full time staff.”

If you'd like to be the next Website of Month all you need to do is submit your story by emailing us here and tell us why you deserve the award!

Expert of the month

September expert
Kim Farrell

When thinking of strategic ways to develop your company, business plans can seem like an administrative blockage to business inspiration. But with great ideas comes great responsibility – and getting everything down into a working document might just be the key to the growth of your enterprise. Kim Farrell, Corporate Finance Partner at CBHC Chartered Accountants LLP in Essex, gives his advice on how to make your business plan work hard for you:

"Many entrepreneurs have a good idea of what their business is in their head – how it is constructed, how it works and what the strategy is – but never actually formalise it. At best, this can lead to inefficiency, anxiety and the odd mistake. But at worst, some business owners can lose direction completely, find themselves unprepared for major economic changes (such as the unexpected need to raise capital) and even lose the financial support of their bank.

A business plan is the most straightforward way to give your company a solid structure to work from. Even a basic one will focus your mind on what you want to achieve, shape the overall direction of your business, and provide a starting point for reaching specific objectives. The further in-depth you go, however, the better the results.

When we prepare business plans with clients, we discuss everything from staffing levels to productivity, market penetration to sales. We then draw in specific information from forecasts and KPI’s to make the business plan measurable. By going through a similar process with your business plan, you will be able to motivate your employees with defined targets and expectations. Additionally, you will find that forward business planning is much easier, faster and effective.

Giving outsiders a clear insight into your business is also essential in order to gain finance, get new customers and suppliers, and enter into new markets. This is because banks and other third parties who support your business are constantly looking at risk: the more they understand about the company, how it works, who the key players are, what the market is like, where the business derives competitive advantage, etc, the more likely they are to offer their backing.

Individual reports on their own, such as accounts, can’t provide this information to third parties, so this is where a business plan is vital. It will reassure your supporters, such as your bank, investment angel, suppliers and even your customers, that you mean business."

Top tips for getting started:
  • It sounds obvious, but work out why you’re doing what you’re doing – start with your ultimate goal, and work backwards from there when putting your plan together.
  • Think of your business plan as an ongoing process, rather than a single document – it’s a blueprint for your company’s success, and should be regularly reviewed and updated.
  • Make your business plan measurable by including forecasts and KPI’s. You’ll find that defined figures will give you a clear path forward.
  • No-one knows your finances like your accountant, so make sure you get them involved with your business planning. A financial expert with management accounts experience will ensure that your company has a clear and sustainable financial strategy to actively support its growth potential.
If you are starting a business and would like assistance with your business plan, or if you have an established company that you would like to grow with strategic business advice, please contact us. CBHC Chartered Accountants LLP use a distinct ‘one page planner’ approach, where we are able to concentrate your business plan into an effective, yet super-simple one page document. www.cbhc.uk.com

Whats in this issue?

India news

Purchase Mr Site packages in India with easy payment options

Our new Mr Site Distribution Network now covers all major cities across all states of India – meaning you can purchase Takeaway Website from your nearest local shop with easy payment options. To find out more, please email sales@mrsite.co.in

Calling all web designers…

If you’re interested in web design, Mr Site India would like to invite you along to discuss how you could make your business ideas into a reality using Takeaway Website. To register for a web meeting with the team, just send your details to sm@mrsite.co.in or call Vishall on 09216831682.

O2 offer

Your Takeaway Website is online 24 hours a day…and with an O2 BlackBerry you can be too! BlackBerry smartphones and solutions give you the freedom to work almost anywhere and as a Mr Site customer, you can choose a great value BlackBerry tariff with O2 to suit you and your business. Click here for more information.

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