Easy Web Things

Kristie

The Christmas Country Fête

Case Study

Ticketing

Sell and send tickets within the event website, without sending purchasers to third-party sites.

Design

Updating the site with a fresh fun look, and simplifying content.

Site Management

Maintain and manage all aspects of the website, so the event organisers can concentrate on the event.

The Christmas Country Fete

More Information

In 2023 the new owners of the Christmas Country Fête wanted to incorporate ticketing into their website.

We enjoyed building a new site, and providing ticketing for this popular event.

We look forward to another year of The Christmas Country Fête for 2024! 

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Happy New Year, a big welcome to 2024.  

One question that seems to come up often, especially in this economy, is ‘how do I build my own website, myself, all by myself’?

I’m going to try to write this as fast as I can, because time is short, but I think I can do it, I think I can write something helpful very quickly… lets go! 

A quick guide for those who want to build their very own website all by themselves.

Now, if you want to live life on easy mode and you only need something genuinely basic, don’t even read this. Go straight to SquareSpace.com or for a kiwi option, rocketspark.co.nz  

Need something free and don’t mind the hosts advertising all over your page, try wix.com 

But if you want more than the basics, and the opportunity to expand on the usefulness of your website and add extensive features over time, go with WordPress.  

Read through this as a starting point, and do give me a yell if you need help.

URL, Domain Name, or website address

Most people start here, with a web address.  This is often your business name or idea name, followed by .com or .net or .co.nz or similar.

You can buy your URL from a Domain Registrar, and you usually pay for it yearly.  

If you’ve bought a domain on its own, your domain name won’t do anything until you’ve pointed it to a website.

When someone visits your domain name in their browser, your website data is fetched from where your website is hosted.

 

Hosting

Hosting is when special computers (servers) have the files and database of your website saved on them.  

Cloud hosting, is, essentially a bunch of servers joined together with fancy software.  It’s not up in the sky, it’s in data centres all over the world.  If anyone tells you “My website doesn’t have a server, it’s up there on the cloud” and then they point upwards, at the sky, they’re sadly misinformed.  

Your hosting may be combined with website-building software.  SquareSpace, Wix, Shopify, Webflow and RocketSpace combine hosting and website-building software into one product.  They can make building a basic website an easy streamlined experience.  If you buy your domain name through them as well, you might not even realise your website has html files and a database saved somewhere.  

But there are thousands of hosting options out there, and the kind of website you are creating will determine what kind of hosting you need.  

If you are using WordPress you can choose to host with wordpress.com or you can upload the WordPress files to nearly any host/server.  This is made easier if you use a hosting control panel software like Cyberpanel or CPanel, both of which have extremely quick WordPress set-up times.

Hosting can vary greatly in price and quality.  Shared hosting is usually cheapest, and for a basic website it’s fine.  If you are running an online store you may need to upgrade your hosting to get good performance.  Some cloud hosting allows you to scale quickly if you suddenly need more resources.  This can be quicker and easier than moving your website to a different server.  

When you have chosen your hosting, you need to link the URL to where your website files are hosted.  

This is done using something called Nameservers.  

Nameservers and DNS records

A DNS (Domain Name System) record associates important information with your URL.  

The A Record tells what IP address your domain should point to.  The MX record tells where your email should be sent.  And the Name Server or NS record, tells where a computer should look to find the A record and other records.

Your host will provide you with Nameservers, and you can add these to your URL’s records to direct your URL to where your website is hosted.  

You also need to ensure your URL is entered at the host end, it should have an A record and other records recorded with the host.  

You will need to ensure you have the correct MX records for your email.  If you use Google Workspace or Outlook, they will provide you with the appropriate MX records to add.  

When setting up email you can add a handful of other records to ensure deliverability DMARC, SPF, DKIM, actually, this deserves its own post I think.  Put it on my to-do list please.

Building your website

Now for the fun part.

How you go about this will all depend on the web-builder you’ve chosen.  

With WordPress you can add website-builder plug-ins such as Elementor and Divi.  This gives you more customisation options than just using a theme.  

To add a plug-in, you can search for it in the plug-ins menu, or upload a .zip folder containing the files.  Plug-ins can also allow you to add a wide variety of other functionality.  Be careful not to use more than you really need, as too many can affect website performance on cheaper hosting.  

In WordPress (and many other website-builders) you can select a theme, which controls how the website looks.  You can usually adjust colours, fonts, content, and images.  Some themes are made to work well with website-builders, like the Hello Theme for Elementor.  

Websites usually divide each page into 3 sections.  The header, the body, and the footer.

The header goes at the top of the page, and should remain the same for each page of the site.

The header should contain your business name, your logo, and a menu.

The footer goes at the bottom of the page, and also should stay the same on each page.  Popular inclusions for the footer are; contact details, links to terms and conditions, and links to important pages in list form.

The body is where each page’s content is.  The body should be different for each page.

Important pages to include are:

Homepage, Services, About, Contact, and News. 

In WordPress, you have ‘Posts’ as well as ‘Pages’.  Posts are for news items and are displayed as full posts or extracts on the news page.  In the settings section of WordPress, you can choose for your homepage to be a page you’ve created or a list of your posts.

 

But what about Code

In this day and age, with the great website-building software about, you shouldn’t need to touch code to create a basic website.

But if you’re a bit curious try this out…

Create a new .txt (plain text) document in textEdit or notepad.

Type in:

<html>
<head></head>
<body> Hello World
</body> </html>

Now save and close the file. Change the extension of the file from .txt to .html

Double-click the file to open it.

Woah! It should open in a browser, and look you’ve made a website!  It’s hosted on your own computer, and not accessible to the public, but it’s a very very very basic starting point.

If you put in the time and effort you can make a whole website this way.  You can also learn to use a code editor like Visual Studio Code, which makes your code easier to read when there is a lot of it, and helps you to locate problems with your code.

There are a tonne of learn-html resources online, a lot of them free.  You should also learn CSS to style your website, and you could learn a bit of JavaScript, how about some PHP, SQL… it’s a slippery slope.  You might spend more time on your website than on your business! 

WordPress itself gives the code-curious a great learning opportunity. You can build your entire website without needing to look at all that lovely open-source code… But you can look if you want…  then you can dive right into the files and break stuff!  Then learn a lot while you fix it.  Fun times!

Times up!

Ah! I’m out of writing time!

I hope this was at least a little helpful as a starting point for anyone wanting to do a DIY website.  

I often run out of time for news posts, but this year I’m going to try harder to include some helpful information in my monthly news posts, addressing more frequently asked questions, or problem-solving situations.  

If you have a question you’d like me to answer, or something you’d like me to write about, flick me an email at hello@easywebthings.com or message Mosaic on socials.  

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Just a short update…

If you’re reading this, this website has made it to a new server!  

We’re also trialing .co.nz URL instead of .com, to make it clearer that we’re New Zealand based.  

 

The Christmas Country Fête

The Christmas Country Fête, whose website we built and maintain, had its big day on October the 26th.  Despite some windy weather it sounds like the event went well.  Looking forward to it happening again in 2024!

 

Halloween

It just so happens to be Halloween as I write this.  I’ve been a bit under the weather so I won’t be heading out trick or treating.  But I will be planting pumpkin seeds in the garden.  A suitable southern hemisphere halloween activity.

Well, that about wraps things up for October.  It’s been a busy month, and things only look busier heading into summer and the festive season.

Have a great November!

– Kristie

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Spring is here, according to popular opinion (though the actual date is subject to some controversy… should the decision be astronomical or meteorological?) 

Here at Easy Web Things we are looking forward to a busy summer, and lots of fun weekends enjoying the great outdoors.  But spring cleaning is on the list in the meantime, and not just for the house and office…

We’ll be spring cleaning websites this month!

Spring cleaning a website??? 

Feel like giving your own website a spring clean yourself? Read on for some handy tips…

Monthly maintenance is great, but sometimes it’s good fun to dive in and really sort things out.  Have a declutter.  Get ready for the coming summer.

Here is a fun acronym with a few ideas for a fun website spring clean.  (Ok, yes, we all have different ideas about what is fun ok, this is fun for me!)

S.P.R.I.N.G…

S is for Server. 

I did think about saying S is for SEO or Security, but these are ongoing tasks, not to be left for just for a Spring spruce up.  

The server is the hardware that hosts your website.  Like a computer, it has memory, a CPU, storage, an operating system, and it is connected to the internet.  The server that your website is hosted on can have a direct effect on your site’s performance.  Possibly your business doesn’t have its own server, but you pay for web hosting and perhaps don’t even think twice about how it works.  

If you manage your own website it can be helpful to learn about your website’s hosting, and the servers your hosting company uses.  Do you have your own server? Is it the whole server or a virtual server?  Is your website sharing resources with other websites?  Is it located in a specific location, or is it a cloud server?  What are the limitations?  

If you are running low on space, check that you haven’t filled your allocated space up with old backups.  Keep what you need, and ‘declutter’ the rest.  

Consider getting some help if you’re having performance issues and don’t know where to start.  It’s great when the person managing your hosting works with you to achieve your goals, and you’re not left in the dark hoping for the best. 

P is for Plug-ins

One for the WordPress users… What plugins do you have installed? Do you know what they all do?  Do you still need them all? 

Maybe there are some you installed for a single short task, that’s now complete.  Or perhaps you have some plugins that do similar jobs, and an upgrade of one has made another obsolete?

List all your plugins, document each of their purposes, and ensure you are only running what you really need.

Deactivate and delete any plugins that aren’t needed anymore. 

R is for Review and Refresh

Read, review and refresh your main page’s content. Check the accuracy of information that is important to customers, like your business hours, prices, and contact information. 

Update your Frequently Asked Questions with the questions customers asked you most often this year.  Especially the kind of questions that take up time but don’t necessarily lead to sales.  

If you have an online store, review your products.  Are they all current? Do you need to remove any you won’t stock anymore, or update any with new variations? 

I is for Intent

Consider the true intent of your website.  

If your website is intended to gather sales enquiries through organic search engine traffic, is it doing that?  

If the intent of your website is to sell through an online store, is it achieving that goal?

If your website’s intent is to allow bookings, sell tickets, deliver learning, or answer customers’ frequently asked questions, is that what it actually does?

If you have a lot of features that don’t align with your website’s intent, consider carefully whether these are being used, or are actually a distraction for the main purpose of the website.

It’s ok to remove under-utilised features and focus on what your website really needs to deliver.

N is for Navigation

Is it easy for customers to find out what they want to know, or get where they need to go? 

Find someone who is not very tech savvy and ask them to complete a common task on your website, while you peer over their shoulder taking notes.  Don’t give them any hints!  Can they do it?  What makes it hard for them?  Can you improve the navigation so it’s easier for them to get where they need to go? 

G is for Graphics and Images

Do you need to update your site’s images?  Watch for old pictures that don’t show your best work, or are low quality or just look unprofessional.  Consider taking some new photos if your front page images are outdated.  

Also, make sure that your graphics and images have helpful alt text to describe images to people using screen readers.  Make it useful and relevant, don’t just fill it with SEO keywords.  

Have fun with your spring cleaning your website!

And if it really doesn’t sound like fun to you… well, you know who to call.

Thanks for reading,

Kristie

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For those looking for a New Zealand specific perspective on getting a free website up and running, here it is.  How to create a website for free in NZ.

I think most people looking for a free website are small business owners, freelancers, artists and bands, and people who want to explore web design.  Any others? I’m curious about this, so let me know if you don’t fit into those boxes!

Back in the mid-2000’s I first looked into good free and cheap website options.  Long story short, I ended up having to learn a bit of HTML and CSS to get the results I wanted.

Thankfully, times have changed and now you don’t actually need to write code to create a basic website.  

And, you don’t need to pay for hosting for a free website.

Just remember though, you do get what you pay for.  Free websites may include advertising for the provider, limited features, limited space, or limits on bandwidth.

Often it may be better to pay to get what you need.  A website can be an important business investment.  

But a completely free website is still a great start if you just don’t have the budget, and something is often better than nothing.  

My Favourite Free Website Options

I would recommend a free Webflow site to someone who only needs a couple of pages to start with, is confident with technology, and would benefit from the Webflow CMS system if upgrading in the future.

I would recommend a free Wix site to someone who finds technology a bit more challenging, and is unlikely to need advanced features on their website in the future.

And I would recommend WordPress.com to someone who blogs or is likely to scale up to a fully-fledged WordPress.org site in the future.  

Read on for more details…

Creating a Free Website on Webflow

Webflow has some great options for creating a free website hosted on their cloud platform.

However, you will need to to use one of their branded domains, and you won’t have full access to their content management systems.  There is a limit to 50 CMS items, and 50 form submissions.

That said, you can create a decent looking 2 page brochure site on Webflow for free.

Your site will have a Webflow badge on it, and will be limited to 1000 visits per month.

To build a free website with Webflow, go to webflow.com and sign up for a ‘Starter Site’.

Webflow also has a free comprehensive online course available, if you are new to website building, so a free Webflow site can be great for learning to build Webflow websites. 

The good news is, upgrading to a Webflow CMS plan and adding your own domain down the track is easy.  The free starter site gives you a great introduction, and your site can be later expanded to add more functionality.

Creating a Free Website on Wix

Wix free websites are pretty popular among small businesses in New Zealand.  

The free version of Wix restricts you to one of their branded domains, and includes Wix advertising on your website.  

There are also limits to storage and to google analytics.

To set up a Wix site, go to wix.com and sign up for an account.  

Wix has a shallower learning curve than Webflow, but Webflow has a lot more functionality and options available in the long run. 

Creating a Free Website on WordPress.com

It is worth clarifying that WordPress.org, and WordPress.com are slightly different.

WordPress.org provides a free OpenSource content management system that you can install and use on your own hosting.  

WordPress.com is provides hosting and a web-building platform utilising a version of the WordPress.org CMS.

Want a free basic website with unlimited pages and a blog? Use WordPress.com

The free plan on WordPress.com includes 1gb of storage and unlimited pages.

Plus, once you’ve got the hang of WordPress.com if you later want to move from a wordpress.com site to a wordpress.org site in the future, you can easily export your content, and you will have already learned a lot of relevant information.

If you want an extremely flexible customisable option with room for nearly any future feature you can imagine? Use WordPress.org + paid hosting.

WordPress.org powers a huge amount of the internet.  You can do just about anything online with a WordPress website.

RocketSpark is Free for Designers

RocketSpark is not technically free for everyone, but it is free for their web design partners.  

I’ve mainly included it in the list because it is a New Zealand made website builder.

If you are a web designer and are looking for free options, do consider RocketSpark.

If you are a web designer, it is free for you to join the partner program and use RocketSpark to build clients’ websites.  The clients you onboard would then pay RocketSpark for hosting and support.  

There is also a 30 day free trial if you’re not a designer, but are interested in trying out their platform.

Website builders with free trials

There are many paid platforms out there that provide a free trial but are not free long-term. Here are a couple that I personally think are good for beginners to look at.

Rocketspark has a 30 day free trial. If you continue with Rocketspark you would be supporting a New Zealand made product, and will have your data hosted on New Zealand based servers.  

SquareSpace is not made in New Zealand, but it is very quick and easy for beginners.  It also has a one month free trial if you want to test out its features. 

Other Free Website Builders

I have focused this post so far on website builders that are personally familiar to me. 

Below are some others that I have not tried, in case you have plenty of time on your hands and want to try out a lot of different options.

Responsive Web Design for Small Businesses Websites in New Zealand

Tips for building a Free Website

1. Keep it simple

Use your website to tell potential customers important information about your business, and how to contact you.  Don’t add too many features or irrelevant information.

Don’t use too many different fonts or colours (I know, I know, look who’s talking).  To be really safe, pick one font that matches your logo or theme, and stands out a little, for headings.  Avoid Comic Sans unless you run a kindergarten, and avoid Papyrus unless you are James Cameron. (And even then, think twice about it.) Pick an easy-to-read font for general text.  

For keeping colours simple, choose one accent colour, and use it sparingly.  Keep everything else fairly monochrome.  (I’m having one of those ‘do as I say not as I do’ moments writing that.)

Spell check, and have someone else proofread.  The occasional mistake is human.  But, as your brain tends to miss your own typos it doesn’t hurt to have someone else take a look too. 

2. Make information clear for customers and search engines

If you are providing a location-dependent service, use your location along with your service, in the main heading of your site.  This helps search engines (and customers) understand where you are.

Include the basics of Who What When Where Why How for your business.

Who are you, What do you do, When do you do it (opening hours), Why do you do it (what problem are you solving), Where do you do it (Location), and How do you do your job? 

You don’t need to include every little detail, just enough to avoid confusion between similar businesses.

Tell potential customers about your unique selling point.  Why should they use you instead of your competitors?

3. Use Quality Images and Logos

Use a smaller number of good-quality images, rather than a lot of mediocre images.  Ensure your logos graphics and photos are the appropriate resolution.  Using overly compressed jpegs, or using images compressed by Facebook or other platforms, can make images look distorted and low quality.

4. Check your Website

Check that your website looks good on a range of mobiles, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers.  

Go to https://pagespeed.web.dev/ and enter your website’s URL.  Wait while your page is analysed and results generated, then review the results.

You won’t always be able to fix every issue, especially on a free site. But you can use it to identify easily fixable problems like insufficient contrast between text and background, or images without Alt text.

Aim to get 100% score on Accessibility, Best Practices, and SEO. 

Unless you have an exceptionally lite-weight site, you will probably need to do a lot of optimising, and maybe set up caching, to get to 100% speed on mobile. So don’t stress about that mobile speed score too much on a free site.  As long as it loads in a reasonable period of time so your customers don’t give up, it should be fine. 

5. Set up a Google Business Profile and include your location

Include all relevant information, and follow process for verification.  Add your website to your NZBN database entry.  You can also set up business pages on social media, and link them to your website.

Other Resources

Make sure you sign up to Digital Boost.

Digital Boost is a great FREE resource for New Zealand Businesses who need help to get online.

Digital Boost has videos on building your own website, and covers WordPress, Wix, and Squarespace.  

Time to upgrade that Free Site?

Here at Easy Web Things, we don’t build websites for free. But we do create websites that are worth the price.

We believe that having us build a website should be solving a problem for you. 

Maybe it’s saving you the time it would take to become really proficient with a website builder.  Maybe it’s making your customers’ lives easier by allowing them to generate quotes or estimates online. Or maybe an online store will bring in more revenue for your business.

A free website may be a great starting point for you, but if you want to step things up a notch, we can convert your free website to something even better.  

Consider moving to a paid website if you want to:

  • add additional functionality
  • use a custom domain name
  • look more professional by removing platform ads
  • find more customers by improving SEO and reducing bandwidth restrictions
  • include more pages than your free plan allows

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Everyone wants to save time and money.  And when you’re busy, time is money!  Spend less time on repetitive tasks, and open your schedule for more productive work.  Websites can often save you more money than they cost, here are some ideas for websites that will pay off in the long run.

Digital Marketing Websites

This is usually what first comes to mind when people think of a ‘website’.

This is a website that is a brochure or advertisement for your business.  It allows people to find your business using search engines and usually offers basic details and contact information.  These often start with a classic 5 pages: Home, About, Contact, Services, and a news/blog page intended to be regularly updated.

In order to be effective in getting visitors through search results, this kind of website should be formatted in a way that allows search engines to understand your services.  Additional landing pages geared towards popular relevant search terms may be added.  Search Engines continuously update their algorithms and how they prioritise results. The aim of the search engine is to deliver useful websites to their users.  Search engine optimisation should be balanced to ensure it doesn’t negatively affect the user experience on your website.  Content marketing, is a way of promoting your website by providing useful or interesting content (articles or blog posts) to potential customers.

A digital marketing website is a form of advertising, and is often supported with a digital marketing campaign including paid ads on social media and google ads.  This can be more affordable than advertising in traditional media. It can also allow you to tailor your advertising carefully so you are not wasting time advertising to people who do not need your product or service.

A digital marketing website is often just a starting point, and may also include any of the following.

Ecommerce Websites

Ecommerce websites allow you to sell products or services online.

Ecommerce Websites allow you to save time by accepting orders and processing payments automatically.  In the case of digital products, they can also deliver the product.

Quote or Estimate Generation Websites

Save time by having an automated quote or estimate generated.  You could have this integrated with your accounting software.  You can have quotes sent out automatically, or keep the human touch. To save time while maintaining a personal touch, the website can generate a draft quote based on details received from potential customers.  The draft is then reviewed by a staff member who also arranges a phone call or meeting with your potential customer to discuss the work.

Customer Support and F.A.Q. Websites

Save time on customer support, by making the answers to Frequently Asked Questions easily accessible.  This could include an extensive FAQ list, a technical documentation library, online user manuals, forums where questions can be asked and answers made public to help others.  Customer Support could also include integrating contact forms, pop-up chat windows, and chat bots.

Technical Documentation Websites

Make technical documentation and user manuals easy to search and navigate online.  Many customers will check online for answers before contacting support.  It can be helpful to include basic information in an easy to understand format, as well as more technical information for advanced users of your product or service.

Learning Management System (LMS) Websites

Save time on staff and customer education, by using online courses to deliver important information in an easily digestible manner.

Speed up your staff onboarding and ensure they have the technical knowledge required, by providing online courses that can be completed anywhere at any time.

You could also provide relevant learning to your customers, either for free to support your products and reduce customer support calls, or charge a fee for certification, to generate additional revenue and cover the cost of course development.

Event Ticketing Websites

An initial investment can set you up with an ecommerce website where you can sell tickets directly to your customers, with options to scan a QR code on the attendees entry to the event.

You will still pay your payment provider a small amount for processing the payment, but in most cases, this is significantly less than the per-ticket cost charged by third-party ticketing providers.

Having your own event ticketing through your website is a great option if you will be running events year after year.

QR code Websites

Websites designed to only be accessed via a QR code, usually from specific locations.

QR Code Reporting

In this example, a reporting website is used with onsite QR code posters, in a large area such as a warehouse or orchard.

QR codes are displayed in prominent places encouraging staff or contractors to report issues when noticed.  Each QR code is associated with a location so the issue can be easily found by maintenance teams later.

When staff or contractors scan the QR code with their phone camera, a form comes up in the browser of their phone.  This allows maintenance or health and safety issues to be quickly and easily logged without excessive interruption to workflow.  An email can be generated to relevant teams, or the problems can be logged in a database, or both.

A QR code accessible site can be a simpler solution than using an app, in cases where short-term contractors or temp staff are often working. It reduces the time and effort in making a report. (eg. with some popular apps temp staff or contractors are having to download a different app for different locations, sign up for accounts, verify email addresses, and register to a location, all before a simple report can be submitted.)

Additional interactivity at an exhibit

Another example for a QR code accessible website is using a QR code next to features at an exhibit or event, providing additional information to attendees who are interested in learning more.  This can save on sign printing costs, as QR code posters can be reused and the linked webpage adjusted to the occasion.  The web page can also display a larger amount of information than is practical to print and can include video and audio media.

Requesting Donations

A frequently seen example is requesting and processing donations on entry at some art galleries, museums, and even hiking trails.  This is because it is more affordable to set up a QR code poster linking to an ecommerce website, than it is to provide payment processing hardware or staff to process payments, at the location.  Obviously, if entry payment is compulsory this isn’t a good option.  But for collecting optional donations in an increasingly cashless society, it’s the perfect solution.

Online Booking Websites

Online booking saves a lot of time for people who use bookings when providing services.  Spend less time on the phone, and have less back and forth over email.  Link it up to your calendar so you don’t get double-booked.

You often see online booking websites for hairdressers, car servicing, vets and pet groomers, customer support services, and accomodation providers, pretty much if your business ever uses appointments, you can benefit from an online booking system.

Community or Social Websites, and Blogs

This includes classic online forums, social media, and blogs that allow discussion and comments.  

These may require dedicated community managers to avoid spam and unsavoury content making it online.  

However, in some cases community interaction can be invaluable for providing support and solutions to customers with technical problems.  

Software as a Service (S.a.a.S.)

Software As A Service, is software provided over the internet, usually via a cloud-based service.  It may look like a website and may involve a website, but behind the scenes, it often involves complex infrastructure and functionality beyond what the previously mentioned websites offer.

Another difference is that SaaS is intended to be your service product, and earn revenue.  The previous websites I’ve mentioned are intended to support a core business (though of course, the core business could still be SaaS!)

Software as a Service usually uses subscription-based models.  This supports the creators to continuously improve their product, (and replace it with something better at the end of the products lifecycle).  

Examples of SaaS include Xero, Netflix, Salesforce, Microsoft 365, Zoom, and many many more.  

SaaS products are also often integrated into other websites.  Examples include booking systems like Calendly and payment processors like Stripe.

Use a Website to solve a Problem

The line between a ‘website’ and ‘software’ has blurred more and more over time.  The benefit of technology moving online is that it can be accessed from anywhere, from any modern internet-capable device.  You can automate things, or deal with work on the go, spending less time tied to an office.

Think about your repetitive tasks.  Whether it’s picking up the phone to answer the same question 20 times a day, or manually creating 20 similar quotes.

Talk to us today about your ideas.  We can help you put together a plan, and figure out a way to save you time and money in your business.

A clock, and wooden blocks spelling out the words "wasting time".

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Happy New Website...

Happy New Website day to The Christmas Country Fête!

The new website for The Fête is up and running, with Early Bird tickets now available for purchase.

What we've been up to:

It has been a busy month here, and I missed writing a June update.  (Though, as I write this on the 1st of July in New Zealand, it is still June in some parts of the world. So I’m definitely counting this as the June update!)

Getting the new website online for the Christmas Country Fête was a real highlight this month.  The event runs on October the 26th this year, and it looks like a lot of fun!

Mosaic the Office Cat has neglected the Easy Web Things Social Media a little, again.  She gave no excuses, and simply admitted she just prefers snoozing in the sun.

It was exciting to see some snow appear on the mountains this month, then disappointing to see the rain wash it away, and then exciting to see it come back again.

Douglas Adams and Elementor AI

Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

This quote is from an article written by Douglas Adams in 1999, titled “How to stop worrying and learn to love the internet.” 

I’ve always harboured this quote in the back of my mind, and I may be showing my age but this year it’s been launching to the forefront of my mind on a regular basis!

Specifically around the subject of A.I.  (Which I’m sorry so many of my updates have mentioned, but it’s been a much-discussed topic this year.)  

Elementor, which I use daily, now incorporates AI text and image generation right there in the page builder.  It’s just there, awaiting an easy click of a button to fill a page with content.

But, whenever I’ve been tempted to use it I’m disappointed that it doesn’t do my job for me and I still need to engage my brain.  Maybe more so than usual. I spend too much time rolling my eyes at it, fixing it, huffing and puffing at it, and then I usually delete what it writes and I go back to the old fashioned way.  

I’ve developed a special loathing for the generic AI style of writing.  It’s stuffed with mindless filler.  And if you choose any of the ‘personalities’ on the Elementor AI, it’s stuffed with cringe*.  The only good news is, if you try it, you may start to value your own natural writing style a little more.  And you will certainly appreciate writers who can get their point across neatly. (Not me. I use more than the Yoast recommended amount of passive voice don’t you know.)

Listen up, fellow humans! According to the wise words of someone, somewhere, anything invented between fifteen and thirty-five is the cat's pajamas! Like, totally awesome! And you know what? You've still got plenty of time to jump on that bandwagon and make a name for yourself. But beware, my friends, after age thirty-five, apparently it's all downhill from there. It's like the universe says, "Sorry, you're too old to handle all this newness." But hey, don't let that stop you from trying! Keep those creative juices flowing and maybe, just maybe, you'll be the exception to the rule. Don't let the natural order of things hold you back!

Thanks for Reading!

– Kristie

*apologies to GenZ for using the word cringe, undoubtedly that was totally cringe of me.

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Why is a Website important for Small Businesses?

A strong online presence is helpful for businesses of all sizes, especially for small businesses aiming to thrive and compete in their respective industries. Word-of-mouth and other traditional marketing methods are still relevant, but having a well-designed and functional website is essential.

Makes life easier for customers.

A good website makes it easy for new and existing customers to find or contact a business, and to access their products and services.

A responsive website is one that looks great on any device, so that potential customers can use their phones to call at a click,  find out about services, or easily purchase products.

Responsive Web Design for Small Businesses Websites in New Zealand

Establishes a Professional Image

A website serves as a virtual storefront, offering small businesses an opportunity to present themselves professionally. It allows them to showcase their products, services, and brand identity in a visually appealing and consistent manner. A well-designed website instills trust and credibility, making potential customers more likely to engage with the business.

Expands Reach

With a website, small businesses can extend their reach beyond their local market. An online presence enables them to target a global audience, attracting potential customers from all over New Zealand, and all over the world. 

Rakia gorge, a beautiful scene with blue river, blue sky, and snow capped mountains. The images is framed with green tree leaves.

Enhances Customer Engagement

A website enables small businesses to efficiently communicate with their customers. Through features like contact forms, live chat, and social media integration, businesses can provide instant support, answer customer inquiries quickly, and receive valuable feedback. Engaging with customers in a personalised manner encourages repeat business.  

Showcases Products

For small businesses, showcasing their products and services is essential in generating interest and driving sales. A website provides a platform to highlight products, services, and promotions in a visually appealing and organised manner. Including high-quality images, detailed descriptions, and customer reviews helps customers make informed decisions.

Builds Brand Identity

A website offers small businesses an opportunity to establish a unique brand identity. Through thoughtful design, consistent branding, and interesting content, businesses can differentiate themselves from competitors.  A well branded website can reflect the business’s values, culture, and mission, to help attract customers who will become loyal supporters.

Cost-effective Marketing

Compared to traditional marketing methods, having a website is a cost-effective way for small businesses to promote their products and services. Online advertising, content marketing, and social media integration can be leveraged to drive traffic to the website and increase brand awareness. 

Ecommerce Opportunities

A website opens doors to ecommerce, allowing small businesses to sell products or services online. With an e-commerce platform integrated into the website, businesses can reach customers 24/7, expand their customer base, and increase revenue. E-commerce can eliminate geographical limitations in many cases, making it easier for businesses to enter new markets.

ecommerce website used on a mobile phone

In other words, Yes, having a website is Important.

In today’s increasingly digital world, a website is a valuable tool for businesses.

Investing in a well-designed and user-friendly website is a wise decision that can propel small businesses towards long-term success.

But I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t prompt you to wonder, do the people who are not currently trying to sell you website services, also think that websites are important?

Ask around in your industry, look at what your most successful competitors are doing, talk to your customers, talk to your competitors customers, read the ‘further reading’ section below…

And… after you’ve independently confirmed that a great website is absolutely essential, then do give us a call.

 

Further Reading

Here are few more articles on the topic from a reputable New Zealand source of information; business.govt.nz:

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The Rock Factory

Case Study

Update

Organising and updating content to keep it enjoyable for both humans and search engines.

Refresh

New assets, new front end, with the familiar Rock Factory style their customers recognise and love.

Simplify

The Rock Factory have had a website for 15 years, and it sometimes needs a little declutter and prune.

More Information

Michelle from The Rock Factory has been running her own website for over a decade.  She is absolutely capable of doing it all!

I’ve helped her out with her website on a few different occasions over the years, but this year (2023) we have done a complete overhaul.  

Michelle is the very busy owner of a busy events company, so I’m really happy to be able to do the ‘Easy Web Things’ for her.    

This year we gave The Rock Factory Websites main pages an updated and improved new design, and we are continuing work on UX and SEO.  

Testimonial:

"Kristie from Easy Web Things is the best person to look after your website for you.

Not only did she design a beautiful aesthetically appealing website site, but it has made a world of difference for me and my business The Rock Factory to have the peace of mind that a capable and dedicated person is looking after our website and making sure everything is up to date.

Like her brand name, she makes websites easy to deal with."

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Source Elements Academy

Case Study

Educational Content

Technical concepts explained for learners with a broad range of experience and learning styles.

Learning Management System

Online courses for easier onboarding for new staff, and customer expert certification.

Site Simplifed

A new simpler website, reducing troubleshooting and maintenance costs.

Testimonial:

"Kristie worked with our international team for two years on tight budgets and multiple time zones. She immediately proved herself a multi-talented and dedicated project manager, and website and educational services developer, who consistently demonstrates exceptional organizational skills. I have been impressed by her ability to motivate and lead teams to success, all while ensuring that projects were delivered on time and within budget.

She possesses a unique blend of technical expertise, leadership skills, and strong communication abilities that make her a valuable asset to any project team. She has a deep understanding of project management and development methodologies and has a keen eye for identifying and mitigating risks before they become issues. Additionally, she is adept at communicating project goals, timelines, and expectations to stakeholders, ensuring that everyone is aligned and working towards the same end goal.

In my two-year experience working with Kristie, I admired her exceptional ability to lead and inspire. Her approach is collaborative and inclusive which helps to create a positive and productive work environment.
Kristie has a natural talent for identifying team members' strengths and empowering them to take ownership of their work, which results in high-quality deliverables and a sense of pride among the team. We build some impressive projects together that will have a long life.

I strongly recommend Kristie—her passion for seeing new projects through from beginning to completion, coupled with her exceptional skills and ability to inspire and motivate team members, make her an invaluable asset to any team of all sizes.
Rebekah Wilson
Source Elements CEO

More Information:

About Source Elements

Source Elements are a global company that develop remote workflow software for the audio and media industry.

Their most well-known software Source-Connect is an industry standard for remote audio. It is used behind the scenes in many movies, tv shows, adverts, and more.

Source Elements are partnered with Walt Disney, Warner Brothers, Universal, and used by many well known names around the world.

How did I help Source Elements?

Source Elements have been around since 2005, and they saw a huge influx of new users in 2022 as remote workflows became more common.

Source Elements needed to deliver online training to customers and new staff. 

My mission was the development and launch of Source Elements Academy; developing their online courses through 2021 and 2022, and a new build of the Source Elements Academy website at the end of 2022.

The result is that Source Elements have a dedicated online training site, that can be maintained in-house, and delivers training to new staff, and customers.  

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