Web Design: Covering the Basics

Web design is an essential service for any outward-facing business. If you want a profile, whether within your local community, nationally or even internationally, then these days, you need a presence on the Internet. But you need that presence to be an effective one. You have mere seconds – or less – to grab the attention of the online browser who’s looking for a company to supply products or services. So it pays to employ professionals to put together an eye-catching website that inspires trust and confidence in your audiences and potential customers. This article looks at some of the basic principles of good web design, and why employing an experienced agency will pay dividends.

Taking it back to basics, four key areas should be addressed when it comes to identifying what effective web design should look like. The first is the site’s structure. It’s essential that your website is easy for your would-be clients to use. Anything less than straightforward, clear and concise and chances are, you’ll lose a large proportion of visitors straight away. A good UX agency will, therefore, place emphasis on ease of use and simple navigation; to take the user to the information they’re looking for in as short a journey as possible.

The second factor is speed: Internet searchers can be both inpatient and time-poor. Any delay in pages loading or images appearing is likely to result in lost business. Web designers know all the tricks of the trade to keep your site agile and quick to respond.

Thirdly, you are definitely missing a trick if your site is not designed to be mobile-responsive. The use of smartphones and tablets to search the net now exceeds desktop or laptop use. If your site doesn’t present properly to viewers no matter how they’re accessing it, you’ll certainly lose potential custom.

Finally, clear calls to action, prompting users to take the next step, are also a must. Any good web designer will have strategies to inspire customer engagement.

So you have the basic architecture of the site in mind. Now it comes to the nitty-gritty: what information do your customers want to see when they visit your website? There are numerous factors for you must think about here. Obviously, you want people to understand what you are offering them from the outset. Your homepage should be transparent about what you provide and what makes you stand out from the competition. It doesn’t need to go into the minutest detail – less is often more. But talk in general terms about the products and/ or services you have on offer and provide clear links to other areas of the site where more information is available.

Another essential in terms of business web design is clear contact details. It’s a relatively easy way to engender trust, by providing a few ways potential customers can contact you. Include a phone number and a physical location if at all possible: these mark you out as a credible – and real – business. If you’re involved in e-commerce or take any money at all through your site, then SSL – a system that encrypts sensitive data such as credit card information – is essential. Have it, and tell customers you have it, for their security.

So now, you’re beginning to pull together a site that will be easy for users to navigate through and informs them of your company’s unique value proposition. It’s known from research, though, that website viewers’ attention is grabbed – and more likely to be held – by images than by large volumes of text. That’s, in part, where graphic design comes in. Isn’t this as simple as loading up your company’s logo and shoving a few photos on each page, though? Unfortunately not, images must demonstrate strong relevance to the text they illustrate. Otherwise, they’re confusing at best; misleading at worst.

Does your company logo tell customers what you do and effectively communicate your brand messages? Do the images on your homepage either pique curiosity or closely illustrate the text that surrounds it? If not, they’re more likely to switch readers off than entice them to find out more. A graphic designer will advise on these matters and also on the best fonts, colour schemes, icons and so on to use to enhance the overall look and readability of your website. This can assist in creating an impression of professionalism, trustworthiness, and reliability: all vital characteristics of a company people will want to buy from.

These days, there is a multitude of online tools and tutorials out there for the talented amateur to put together a website hosting a personal blog; or even for a cash-strapped start-up to get themselves a presence on the Internet. These certainly serve their purpose. But if you are a serious company in the business of selling either goods or services, then a critical factor for your success is building trust. Any sign of amateurism on your website may well discourage potential buyers from taking a chance on you. What you need is a web design that is sleek and lightweight, yet delivers all the important messages. It must be stylish, well ordered and highly functional; easy for new users to navigate around, find the information they need, and make a purchase or get in touch with you. If your website is not achieving this at the moment, it is definitely time to call in the professionals and make some changes.

What Can We Do To Encourage Our Children’s Business Mindset?

While it’s difficult enough as an adult to run a successful business, if we are doing our best to prepare our children for the business world, it’s important that we help to develop their entrepreneurial mindset. In many ways, it’s this mindset that will keep them going through good times and bad. And if you have a child that is showing signs that they will benefit in the business arena, that they are leaders rather than followers, or they have an abundance of ideas, are there anything we can do to nurture this mindset as soon as possible?

Pointing Them Towards The Right Resources

Much like the class project where children look after a hamster or an egg to teach them the rules of responsibility, you can start to instill the idea of professional responsibility early on in life. Nowadays, a blog is a stepping stone towards running bigger businesses, and resources like OnBiz can help to instill the right tools in our children. The big issue with the internet is that there’s a lot of misinformation out there, pointing our children towards the right resources helps ensure they are learning good stuff early on. They will be able to tell the difference between good and bad resources as they get older.

Ideas Are A Dime A Dozen…

It’s in the execution where an idea is worth something. And while children are young, they are, arguably, at their most creative. Encouraging them to come out with as many ideas as possible at this stage, either through play, or general creativity, could serve them well later in life. And while ideas are great, and we need to encourage this constant flow, we have to teach these children how to extract the gold out of these ideas. The greatest entrepreneurs don’t just have ideas, but they know how to transform them into something that “has legs”.

Giving Our Children The Tools To Cope

And it’s not just enough to give our children the information and the means so much to realize ideas, but we have to prepare them for the veritable ups and downs of business. Many budding entrepreneurs now step into running their own business without prior knowledge of what they’re letting themselves in for. If we teach our children, not the fact that it’s going to be difficult, but the internal resources that can help them through difficult times, they will minimize stress, and they will learn to function through these difficulties. It’s not enough to give our children the skills to get the job they want, educationional institutions these days need to factor in the realization that children can succumb to stress, arguably more so than their parents and preceding generations. Running a business is one of the most stressful things anybody can do, but if we can teach our children how best to cope with these anxieties, they will have tools for life.

Teaching our children the entrepreneurial mindset isn’t just about the facts and figures, it’s about ensuring they’ve got what it takes in their brain to cope with everything that flies their way.

Check out this resource guide on children’s entrepreneurship:

10 Reasons to Love Project Management

Did you know I have an MBA in Project Management? One of the blessing of that degree is that I freelance projects for small businesses and individuals.

If you are thinking about taking one of the project or program management courses that I offer or exploring a career in this industry, you will be in for a career that is varied, with lots of job opportunities. With that in mind, read on to discover ten of the reasons why a career in project management is a good choice.

1.    Flexibility – One of the main reasons why a lot of people desire a career in project management is because of the flexibility that comes with this. In a lot of cases, you will be able to spend time between your home and office, which is good for those who have a family or other commitments.

2.    Working with other people – This is one career whereby you are going to be interacting with different types of people all of the time.

3.    Transferable skills – Another benefit associated with project management is that it truly does open a number of different doors for you in terms of your career. This is because you will have skills that can easily be transferred to other careers. Not only this, but you can literally work in any industry, from financial services to construction management services, as all sectors have a need for project management.

4.    You will deliver something useful and worthwhile – Project management can be incredibly rewarding because you will be able to see how all of the hard work put in amounts to the deliverables in the end.

5.    You are always learning – You never stop learning as a project manager. Every project and every challenge represents an opportunity to better yourself and your team.

6.    Introduce new things – There is something fun about delivering something new and fresh to the market.

7.    Problem-solving – If you are someone that likes to solve problems and thrives when there is a challenge, project management is definitely the career for you.

8.    New tech – Another advantage of going down this route is that you will often get to try new solutions before anyone else does. This means that you will be ahead of the trends.

9.    You will lead a team – There is something satisfying about being a project manager and leading a team. You will get to inspire others and whenever a project is successful, you will have been the person to spearhead it.

10.    The variety – Last but not least, one of the great things about project management is that no two days are ever the same. You will always have something new to tackle, and so it is not hard to stay motivated and interested.

So there you have it: ten of the benefits that are associated with a career in project management. If you like the sound of the above, what are waiting for? Jump start your career in project management today!

Questions? Email me Regina (at) reginacoley (dot) com.

Get your head in the cloud

Have you visited the Cloud recently? Not sure what we’re talking about? Then you’re missing out on the latest system of working that business experts claim is providing greater workflow, better security and access for your business.

Cloud-based working is fast becoming the way of the future and predictions are that most businesses, small to large, will soon make use of systems that free up their office space and allow access to important files and documents no matter where you’re working.

We take a look at some of the advantages of Cloud-based computing and what it might mean to your business.

Cost

In terms of cost this is where the Cloud system wins hands down. In short this system provides a much more cost effective IT solution than the traditional approaches.

You simply don’t need huge piles of hardware to keep your network going, you don’t even need an office space as everyone in your team will be able to access your shared files online. You’ll cut down on storage, electricity and office rental if you choose to go fully Cloud compliant.

You might already be capitalizing on your Electronic Workflow by using online document storage but transferring your entire network to Cloud computing is the last step towards lowering the running costs of your organization.

Dependability

With a reliable platform fully managed by your vendor, you’ll have access to high security and IT support services 24/7. The days of having to ring around IT support companies for help will be long gone.

Are there any real disadvantages to Cloud computing? There are one or two issues that need considering before signing up.

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Control

While you have unlimited access to your files and important documents you might feel that you’re having to place a great deal of trust in a vendor outside your organization. You might find it frustrating when your system crashes for reasons outside of your control or when there are technical glitches that you have no power over.

Security

You might also find that you’re placing a great deal of trust in the security of your Cloud computing in a vendor’s hands. How do you really know how robust their antivirus software is or how strong their defenses are against hackers? You don’t so this will take some getting used to.

On balance the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages but there are always things you should bear in mind before fully transitioning to Cloud-based storage in your business.

Being able to access all your information on the go is fast becoming essential for the modern entrepreneur who conducts business from cafes, shared working sites and from home as well as at the office.

Freeing up storage space and reducing the need for clunky hardware helps hugely in reducing utility and rental bills and allows staff greater freedom to work remotely rather than tied to an onsite network.

Consider Cloud-computing something to aim for in the life of your business, do the research and get involved in a movement that will soon become the norm.

How to Manage Your Employees Effectively

As a business owner, you will have realized how important your employees are. Managed effectively they can be the most important assets your business has. Ensuring they all get along and work together as a team can prove a challenge. There are some things you can do to make this a simpler task and to get the best from the people you work with.

Good Communications

Employees generally respond well to knowing about ongoing projects, any aims you have and deadlines that have to be met. Communication with them well and keeping them informed will help to motivate them to accomplish the goals ahead.

This is why some businesses hold weekly staff meetings. They let the staff know what is going on within the business, and give the employees the chance to give feedback on the way the work is progressing. It is also a great opportunity to acknowledge good work and to say thank to them all for their efforts.

Delegating Work To The Right People

Part of managing a workforce effectively is recognizing people strengths and weaknesses. Developing relationships with them will help toward this and you can identify high performers by using improved talent pipelines with succession management software. Having the right person for the job can make a huge difference to the quality and timescale in which it is completed.

You Are Not Superhuman

There are only so many hours in a day that you can work and if you find you have too much to do ask your team for help. Do not be afraid to let them know that sometimes you need assistance and always own up if you make an error. This will show them that you do not expect them to be superhuman either and that you recognize that everyone needs help occasionally.

Show Them The Way

No amount of talking replaces showing your employees that you are committed to your work and will behave professionally at all times. They will follow your example and if you want them to work well, you have to do the same. The same can be said of continuing to develop your career, perhaps by completing an online course for a further qualification. Let the workers know how the coursework is doing, and support them if they want to do something similar.

Manage Conflict

Some conflict is inevitable in the workplace. After all, people are different and have varying views.  If there is a conflict it will create a bad atmosphere and the productivity levels will drop. If members of your staff have a problem, which is creating this situation, do not ignore it.  These things have a habit of starting off as something minor and escalating into something much bigger. As soon as you realize there is some friction in the workplace, deal with it immediately.

Work With Your Employees

Working with your employees helps to create a feeling of unity rather than a ‘you and them’ situation. If they are busy, help with whatever it is and show them that no one is above doing any particular job.

Managing your employees effectively can be one of the most important parts of your job, and when it is done properly, it will help to bring more success to your business.

Question: How well do you work with your team?

Reduce the Stress of Running Your Business

Sleepless nights, tearing your hair out, wondering where your next client will come from? These are all frequent complaints of people that go into business for themselves. However, it is possible to minimize the stress that running your own business causes by following the advice below.

Minimize your overheads

One of the things that small business owners stress about the most is money, and whether they will make any or not. To remedy this most spend their resources attracting new customers and making more sales, but there is another method to consider as well, and it’s reducing your costs.

In fact, if you reduce your overheads, that is what it costs you to run your business, and produce your product, you will earn more profit from every single sale. Something that can help you raise your profits overall, and really will relieve a lot of that finance-related stress.

Get your IT monitored

IT, in this day and age, we can’t do without it, but for most of us, it is not our area of expertise. In fact, the setting up and running of the systems we use every day can be a real challenge, even for the smallest of businesses.

That is why it is essential to use a provider like ClearFuze Networks to manage your IT systems for you. They will then be able to monitor performance 24 hours a day and so can stop issues, becoming problems quickly and easily. Something that means you can relax and look after the rest of your business, while your IT does exactly what you need it to do.

Get organized

Sometimes it’s not the task that we have to do that is the stressful part of the equation. Instead, it is our work practice that is letting us down. That is why it is crucial to get organized both in your work environment and regarding the process that you use.

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After all, it’s much more stressful to have to swap multiple times a day between different tasks, that to batch them all in one go. Similarly not knowing where to find critical documents when you need them can undoubtedly raise your adrenaline levels, so be sure to have an effective filing system, even if you do most of the work online.

Prioritize a work-life balance

Lastly, if you really want to beat stress as a small business owner, then achieving a work-life balance is crucial. Of course, it’s incredibly easy for small business owners to overwork and never shut off because all the responsibility rests on their shoulders. However, this can be awful both for your mental wellbeing and for the long term success of your business. After all, you won’t be doing your best work if you are burned out.

Therefore it’s vital that you balance your work life by setting hard finishing times, and not being contactable during these periods so you can focus on other essential parts of your life, as well as rest and recharge. Otherwise, the stress of running your own business can drag you under.

What do you do to release stress in your business?

Can You Really Run A Solo Business?

Businesswoman, Team Leader, Woman, Business Woman, Suit

The answer is yes, but you probably shouldn’t. Building your empire is a truly exciting prospect, but even the great Romulus needed support to build Rome. So, while you naturally want to feel in control of the entire venture, it’s imperative that you embrace outside help. This is the only way to maximize your hopes of sustained success.

Why Shouldn’t I Run The Business Alone?

Running a business all by yourself may seem like the ultimate way to maintain control and reduce the costs associated with having a team. However, even the likes of Bill Gates and Alan Sugar are supported by talented staff members. Visit lovemoney.com to learn more about the number of employees at major organizations. It’s fascinating reading.

This is because going it alone can hinder your progress in many ways, including;

  • The speed of productivity will be far too slow for the level of progress you want.

  • The quality of work will suffer because you will have weaknesses like anybody else.

  • The desire to save money will backfire while revenue drops too.

  • The client interactions will suffer badly.

  • The opportunities to establish a good work-life balance will be virtually non-existent.

Essentially, you owe it to yourself as well as the business to find that winning support.

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What Type Of Help Is Available?

Depending on the nature of your business, outside help can come from many different sources and cover a range of daily tasks. The key is to analyze your venture thoroughly to determine where your staffing budget will be best spent. After all, no entrepreneur has a limitless cash resource.

In truth, though, outside support can aid your business in many ways. Here are just some of the people you may want to use;

  • Graphic designers that can make your business look professional and stand out from the crowd. This is done with business cards, websites, and interior layouts. Appearances count for everything.

  • Salespeople and customer care teams that will handle the bulk of interactions with your clients. If they can build up a rapport with the customers, sales revenue should soar.

  • IT specialists that can promote greater productivity, security and collaboration. Visit zetasky.com to learn more about the possibilities. No business can avoid modern tech.

  • Accountants and admin staff that can ensure the company is legally complicit and on strong financial ground. This lets you focus on actively driving the venture in the right direction.

  • Affiliates that can bring extra customers to your business by promoting its products and services. Their impartial words often carry far greater weight than your marketing campaigns.

Further help can come from a range of sources including permanent staff, remote workers, and outside contractors. Many hands make light work, and it will fire your business to far greater outcomes.

The Final Word

If you are still plotting your rise to the top, there’s nothing wrong with conducting the planning phases alone. Once your business is operational, however, going it alone simply isn’t an option. The right employees and contractors will be your greatest asset.   

Practical Website Design Tips to Help You Create a Solid Online Presence

If you’re serious about starting a business, then it’s important to look at factors such as your online presence. In this article, we’re going to talk about a couple of practical web design tips that will improve your exposure and give you the online presence that you deserve.

1. Test, test, test!

Your website is useless if you don’t test it. Make sure you test it on different internet connections, various devices and also for different purposes. Get your friends and family members to test it out as well to see what their experiences are, and never ignore any criticism they may have.

2. Make it mobile friendly

Over half of the internet users in the world rely on their mobile devices to stay connected to the internet and its resources. Make sure your site is responsive to the browsers, resolutions and screen orientation that mobile devices use. This will ensure that your site is mobile friendly and easy to access for a large number of internet users. If you need to redesign the site to fit mobile devices, make sure it doesn’t take away from the existing desktop design.

3. Hire a service to help

Hiring a website design expert to help you is about the most practical advice you’ll hear. You’re a business owner and likely not a web designer, so why struggle with something when you could just pay money and get it done professionally? Only engage in web design if you have an interest in maintaining your website or if you’re a web designer yourself. Otherwise, always go to a professional service with a portfolio that is similar to what you’re looking for.

4. Focus on convenience

The easier your site is to browse, the better it is for your customers. Make sure your navigation is simple, that there are no dead ends on your site and that every bit of information can be reached within a few clicks. In a perfect scenario, all of the useful information on your site such as contact details should be reachable in just a single click from the main page.

5. Make it shareable

Set up a social media account so that you can easily share your website and advertise it. Make sure you add different widgets to make your content shareable as well, and don’t forget that you occasionally will need to make your content fit into a shareable format. For instance, the very first picture that you use in an article should be relevant to the content and preferably custom-made, and you should always take snippets from your website so that they can easily be shared on short-form social media sites like Twitter and Instagram.

6. Keep it short

Unless your entire site is focused on creating long-form content such as detailed guides and blog posts that make detailed accounts of your life, keep it short. Your content should be quick, snappy and accompany what it is you’re selling. Of course, this won’t be the case if what you’re selling is based on long-form content, but it’s still good to keep things concise so that your viewers don’t get scared off by huge chunks of text on your site.

Essentials Every Online Edupreneur Needs For Their Business to Succeed

The face of education is changing! It’s no longer only about what kids learn sat behind a desk in school, but also about how we can not only teach them more effectively in others ways but how we can encourage them to be masters of their own learning as well. This is excellent news for anyone that is looking to set up an online edupreneur business. Although, to succeed you will need to make sure you have the essentials listed below.

A calling

Working in education can be tough. Whether it’s teaching in a school or offering tuition online, it requires patience and a lot of hard work behind the scenes before you even get to the lesson.

That is why it’s so important that you pick education because you love the process of learning and enjoy sharing this with others. It really can’t be a fallback, plan B type option. In fact, if you want to succeed it really need to be your vocation and your calling in life. It is this passion that will get you through when things, as they inevitably do, become difficult at times.

Need help identifying your calling? Check out this article for assistance.

A defined market

Just like any online business you need to know who you are pitching your services and products to. In fact, you can have the fanciest of websites, and all the ideas in the world, but if you don’t have a defined market your business will struggle.

Of course, many edupreneurs focus on the online tutoring side of things, but this is not the only possibility to consider. In fact, there is in-school and governmental consultation work, resource creation, and evening the mentoring of other teachers and educators to think about as well. Just be sure to pick an option that not only suits your skill set but that you will enjoy as well.

Some IT resources

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No online business is going to succeed without IT resources and equipment, especially if you are accessing your clients primarily over the internet. Happily, much of this equipment such as laptops, and tablets can be bought for a reasonable price, which is great for when you are just starting out.

Although, it is always worth spending money on things like Cybersecurity Services when working in this field. This is because it is crucial to keep client data safe both for your professional image, and particularly when working with children.

Some knowledge and experience

Lastly, to set yourself up as a tutor, educator, or consultant you will need two more things. These are knowledge of the field you wish to specialize in, and some experience working in a similar role. This is important because it is these two things combined that will provide you with the authority to function as an effective edupreneur.

Of course, if you do find yourself lacking in one of these areas, there is always action you can take. Regarding knowledge, studying a formal course, or making use of the evidence-based papers available online can help.

While, if you lack formal experience you can offer to volunteer in education institutions locally to build this up. Something that will put you in excellent stead for starting, and succeeding at running your own edupreneur online business.

5 Ways To Save Money On Your Business Office

Are you look for ways to save money on your business office? If you are, then you are in the right place because we have some tips to help you do this. Offices can end up costing you a lot of money, so when the purse strings need to be tightened, the office could be the first thing to go. Let’s look at some of the ways to save money on your business office.

Lease It

One of the things that you can do is think about is leasing your offices instead of buying one. This will make it cheaper because even though you are paying monthly instead of one lump sum, if for some reason you need to move your business somewhere else, this isn’t going to be an issue. As well as this, unless you are staying put for years to come, you are likely not going to cover the amount it would cost to buy an office in rent. You should think about getting a lawyer who has some experience in assisting with a lease so that you know everything is up to standard.

Run It From Home

Why not just run your entire business from home instead of having an office? You can use the space that you have already paid for, be in the comfort of your own home, and you don’t have to make payments on a space that you only use for a few hours per day. This will save your business money, and you might find that you like working from home a lot better than going to an office every day.

Let Out A Part Of Your Office

Or, you can consider letting out part of your office if you already own one. This way, you will get a steady source of income, meaning you will be earning some money from letting people use your office space. You never know who you are going to come across when you do this, so make sure you check them out before you let out part of your space.

Go Green

Your bills are likely costing you a small fortune. Electric, and gas could be costing you a lot of money, especially in the winter months. Going green is going to help you here, and one way to do this is with solar panels. When the sun isn’t around, you are going to have to pay your normal rate, but if you use solar panels you can use the sun to power your office, saving you money on electric.

Hit The Suburbs

Buying a property in the suburbs is going to be a lot cheaper than buying one in the city, so you might want to start your retail shopping here. You will find the prices are dramatically lower, and more affordable the further away from the city you go. If you don’t mind commuting into the big city when necessary, then this could be a good option for you.