Jolly Good Websites for Reading Businesses Established October 1999
Tel. 0845 6445513 (national) Tel. 0118 9507617 (local)

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Is my web page too wide - or not wide enough?

If you had your website designed in about 2003, chances are that when you look at it now, it either has a lot of empty space to the left and right or your whole site is pinned to the left-hand edge with a big, empty space on the right.

That's because the computer you have now has a relatively high resolution compared to how it used to be when the site was first designed. And most other people will be seeing the same thing, so perhaps it's time you brought your site up to date.

A few years ago, it was a good idea to make web pages just under 800 pixels wide. That ensured it would look good in a resolution of 800 x 600, which was pretty common for a lot of people.

It's worth pointing out that a web page with a width of 800 pixels is too wide for a screen with 800 x 600 resolution. That's because you have to allow for the window edges on the left and right and the scroll bar. So around 770 pixels or 780 pixels wide would be a safe bet.

However, since then, you've got a better computer, right? And chances are, you have your screen set at a considerably higher resolution.

Personally, I use dual monitors, one set to 1600 x 1200 and the other 1280 x 1024. Today, if I set my screen to 800 x 600, it looks hilarious. Icons become the size of dinner plates.

I would consider a reasonable width, by the standards of the average computer resolution settings, to be a little over 900 pixels.

guardian.co.uk is 940 pixels wide, for example, which means that it sits quite neatly on the page even if you've got a resolution of 1024 x 768. If you go below that, to 800 x 600, you get sideways scroll.

Sideways scroll is the enemy and it must be stopped.

So the short answer is, a web page width should be about 950-ish pixels.

Here are some illustrations.

Here's what I see when I visit the BBC website if I have my browser full-screen at 1600 x 1200, which is the resolution I work at every day. Note the grey space round the edges, because that will disappear in the later screengrabs.

1600 x 1200
Please click here for a larger version of this image

Now see what it happens when we drop down to 1280 x 960. Note how the bottom of the page has now dropped under the bottom of the screen, but you've still got a lot of grey space round the edges.

1280 x 960
Please click here for a larger version of this image

Now we go to 1024 x 768. This is probably the resolution I would have used about seven or eight years ago. Note that all that extra space on the left and right margins has vanished and we have now lost more than half the page at the bottom of the screen.

1024 x 768
Please click here for a larger version of this image

So there you have it.

Like I say: the short answer is make your page a little under 1000 pixels wide and everyone should be happy. I wouldn't go higher than 1000 pixels.

Web page widths of famous-name sites:
thetimes.co.uk - 978 pixels
microsoft.com - 932 pixels
cnet.com - 986 pixels
bbc.co.uk - 995 pixels

You could go for a "liquid" width but you're in for a world of pain, design-wise. That's another can of worms!

It then just comes down to how much content people are going to see vertically, which you have no control over. It depends entirely on the resolution of their screen. In the examples above, about 55% of the page disappears below the scroll line as the resolution of the screen decreases. Yes, you did read that correctly - it's not a typo. Well over half of the homepage disappears below the bottom of the screen.

That said, it's very wise to make the most of the top 500 pixels. To find out more about that, read my article on Above the Fold design.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Register a .co.uk domain for £2.99

You can register a .co.uk domain this week with 123-reg for only £2.99 per year + VAT for the first two years.






Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Start-Up Advice For Single Mums

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I'm from inframes.com ltd in Reading, a design and development company that builds websites for businesses.

"You should refer business to me because I have been making websites for 15 years and I am starting to get quite good at it.

Back to School with inframes - advice for single mums starting up an internet-based business in 2011


"The school holidays are coming to an end and it's no coincidence that last week I was giving some advice to a single mother who is looking to start up her own business selling children's clothes online.

"I was able to talk her through some of the intricacies of setting up an ecommerce business and gave her a ballpark figure of around £500 + VAT for the initial design and devlopment plus ongoing monthly fees of £29.99 + VAT for hosting. For that, she'll get a fully-working virtual business.

"So this week, as mums around the country get a little free time to contemplate the future after two months of full-time parenting, my ideal referral would be a single mother who is ready for the challenge of starting her own web-based business in 2011 and doesn't know where to begin.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


Further Reading

What exactly would that £500 + VAT buy you? Suffice to say, it's everything you need to start selling online:
  • Your website (designed from scratch - we never use templates)

  • Unlimited email

  • A database (to store all your products and orders and to organise those products into categories)

  • Your customers will get a "shopping basket" with a checkout system that will allow you to take credit card payments

  • A back-end admin system (to upload images, add, edit and delete products with different size and colour permutations)

  • The facility to view and manage orders and print out dispatch notes

  • A customer relationship management system which will allow people to log on and check the status of their orders (awaiting dispatch etc)
And of course, that's just an example, because at inframes we never make the same website twice and every job is tailored to the needs of the business.


What's BNI?

I am part of a growing new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Is Your Email Address Costing You Business?

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I'm from inframes.com ltd in Reading, a design and development company that builds websites for businesses.

"You should refer business to me because I have been helping people to use the internet to generate new business for nearly eleven years.

20 different email accounts for only £3.99 + VAT per month - call 0845 6445513 for details


"This week I have been setting up email accounts for fellow BNI member Trevor Walton of the TPW Group. Trevor has a portfolio of companies offering building services and opportunities for investors in property development. On any given week he could be doing deals worth millions of pounds and yet he didn't own a domain name for his company, just a free Yahoo! Mail account.

"There's nothing wrong with using a service like Yahoo!, Hotmail or GMail to manage your email, especially if you are on the road a lot. But does handing out a business card with a generic, free email address send out the right signals to potential customers? In most cases, I'd say not. In fact it may lead the more cynical buyer to suspect your credentials.

"But looking professional is neither expensive nor difficult. With a single 'phone call, we arranged the purchase of tpwgroup.co.uk and set up an email service for Trevor at a cost of only £3.99 + VAT per month. And best of all, Trevor can continue to use Yahoo! Mail to send and receive email, so he doesn't have to change the way he communicates with existing customers, but his email address looks much more professional to prospective ones.

"This week, have a browse through your business cards to see if there's anyone you know whose email address doesn't do them justice. And let them know there's someone who can change that for only £3.99 a month.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


What's BNI?

I am part of a growing new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Four Steps to a Brand New Website

How does a brand new website development project typically run from start to finish? I'm glad you asked. And the clichéd answer is that there's no typical website project, because ever client is different. And of course that's true. But not very helpful. So the following might give you a bit more of a clue.

Step One. We start with a friendly chat about why you need a website and how you expect it to benefit your organisation. At this stage you might present me with samples of business stationery, leaflets or literature and, where possible, digital copies of logos and images that you know you want to include. And perhaps you might point me in the direction of other sites you've seen that you aspire to emulate or that have a relevant design. Not that we'll be ripping off other people's intellectual property - it's just a helpful way of moving from a blank page to a first draft.

Step Two. After that consultation, you'll be given one or more mock-ups of how your site might look. If I'm trying to impress you, I'll call it a "creative treatment". But really they're mock-ups. These wouldn't usually be clickable web pages, just Photoshop graphics to give you an idea of colours, fonts and layout. We'll then talk these over and a second or third draft may or may not be required. Every job is different.

Step Three. Once we've agreed on that, we'll leave each another to get on with it for a while. You may have to write and compile several pages of content and photos while I'm beavering away making it all look good. We'll probably be in touch via email and 'phone a number of times and depending on your commitments and the urgency of the project, it might take anything from a few days to a few weeks. But the next time you see your website, it will be a working version that you can click on and interact with. And again I'll be expecting you to want to make changes and additions, because even if we've communicated very well, it still might not be quite the way you've imagined.

Step Four. After that, we're at the deployment stage. I'll take care of making the site live and help you as much as possible with irritating tasks like domain name registration and transfer as well as setting up your mailboxes. And of course you may well require some help in learning how to update the site yourself now that I've finished work.

Need a Web Designer in Reading?

Four Reasons to Choose Jon from inframes

My commitments to my clients:

First, I offer a very personal service. I might not create every bit of your website myself, but I will be available to you on the end of the 'phone any time to talk about your website and I'll be very happy to give you free advice about anything from domain name registration to search engine optimisation. If I'm not around when you call, I'll call you back at the soonest possible opportunity, guaranteed.

Second, I don't tout a selection of website packages and try to squeeze your organisation into one of them. My clients come from such diverse fields as travel, molecular biology supplies, photography, ticket sales and IT consultancy, so I have to address the needs of each of those businesses individually. In your case, perhaps you're trying to promote your organisation to find new customers, or enable better communication with existing customers, or both. Or perhaps something else entirely. But I wouldn't presume to tell you what sort of website you need until we've had a chance to talk about your aims.

Third, I will be available for after-sales service every bit as eagerly as I am before your cheque clears. However, I try to put myself out of a job to the extent that I recommend you take control of your website once I've finished with it. I don't consider it good customer service if you have to keep coming back to me every time you need to change a telephone number or update details of a forthcoming event. So, depending on the resources you have available, I'd deliver you a website that you can maintain yourself. And if you want to expand and develop it further, you'll know where to find me.

Fourth, I take internet security very seriously. Hacking is a very real problem and sloppy code can make it very easy for even a semi-competent hacker to get to your customes' private contact details. I won't allow that to happen.

Monday, 5 July 2010

BNI Member Links Page

BNI

Looking for a solicitor you can trust? An insurance broker? Or maybe a health and safety adviser, graphic designer or financial adviser? There's nothing quite like a personal recommendation. And I know representatives of the companies below personally, because I meet them every week for lunch where I have come to recognise their achievements and expertise in their chosen field.

Our full members include representatives from (in no particular order):

Blue Sky
Independent Financial Advisers, Reading

inframes.com ltd
Website Design, Reading (that's me)

Mailboxes Etc
Printers, Reading

Barrett and Co.
Solicitors, Reading

Academy
Insurance Brokers, Reading

Itinium
Industrial and Commercial Heating and Ventilation, Bracknell

Dean Weller Associates
Career Management & Outplacement, Theale

Milieu Vista
Health & Safety, Reading

Jon Baverstock
Graphic Designer, Reading

Deborah Heath
Interior Designer, Reading

Tahex ltd
Computer hardware, Reading

Citylocal Reading
Business Directory, Reading

Fresh and Clean Services
Commercial and Office Cleaning, Tadley

Lindsey Shane Palmer
AutoCAD Designer

Sparkright
Builders, Reading

Micropoint
IT Support, Reading

Positive Solutions
Mortgage Advice, Reading

Forest Computerstaff
IT Recruitment, Reading

What's BNI?

I am part of a growing new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

BNI 60 Seconds - Latest Testimonials

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I'm from inframes.com ltd in Reading, a website design and development company from Reading established more than ten years ago.

"You should refer business to me because I will give a free telephone consultation to anyone looking for advice on their website and I charge a very competitive £35 per hour for my services.

"Rather than a story of the week, I’d just like to share a few testimonials and words of thanks I have received since I last stood here."

"Looks super” and "Perfect” from Nelson at Biogene.com on Monday

"Damn, you're good.” From Martin at SRO Audiences on Monday.

"REALLY appreciate your help” from Nick at LostinTV.com last Wednesday

"Thank you for being so understanding, we are most grateful to you for helping us out at the last minute” from Kerry at markbutler.co.uk on May 28th.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


What's BNI?

I am part of a growing new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Is Your Homepage Too Big?

It's good to keep a homepage small for a variety of reasons.

1. Google likes fast-loading homepages. Say no more.

2. The homepage is just a shop window for the information on your website, so you shouldn't worry about there being too much actual content on it.

3. People don't like to scroll. I know it sounds bizarre, but it's true. So you should try to keep most, if not all, of your homepage content "above the fold". Above the fold is an old newspaper publishing expression – the theory goes that when I newspaper is on the rack, the most important elements (ie. the masthead and headline) should be visible at a glance even if it's folded over or partially obscured by competing publications. The same rule applies with a website homepage, except that with a website you're trying to avoid forcing visitors to scroll down to find what they want.

Of course, there are examples of good website designs where you do have to scroll down to see the whole homepage, but generally speaking you will find that (a) they have a lot of content on their site and (b) they use above-the-fold space to state their intent and to proffer their most important products and services.

See How The Big Guys Do It
In my opinion, the size of the homepage should be in keeping with the size of the website as a whole. If you've got 40,000 pages in your site, then by all means have 100 links on your homepage. The current version of the microsoft.com homepage, for instance, has 294 things you can click on. (Yes, amazing, I have a thing that counts them, would you believe? I never knew that would ever come in useful). But I think you'll agree they have stuck pretty firmly to the above-the-fold rule.

How the microsoft.com site uses the above-the-fold rule


Homepage Dos
Do use your homepage to do the following things:
  • Make an impact

  • Capture the imagination of the reader

  • Make yourself look good

  • Make it completely clear what you do

  • Highlight a particular product/service or range of products

  • Tell people why you're better than or different to the competition

  • Boast about your awards, credentials, testimonials, guarantees or any other evidence of your expertise/value for money


Homepage Don'ts
You should avoid the following things on your homepage:
  • Showing exactly the same thing 365 days of the year

  • Saying "Welcome to [insert company name]" - it's a waste of valuable space

  • A 'News' item that is weeks or months out-of-date

  • A detailed explanation of products or services

  • A Flash-y "splash page"

  • Audio or video that starts playing without the visitor having clicked a Play button

  • Corny, royalty-free images of people in suits shaking hands or pretty receptionists wearing telephone headsets


Say What You Do
Finally, just a note to emphasise a point from the above list of "dos": make sure your homepage makes it clear what your website is about. Again, I know it sounds crazy, but I've lost count of the number of websites I've seen for companies that offer "business solutions" and "enterprise solutions" but you'd be hard pressed to decide whether they're an IT consultancy or a cleaning firm.

Further Reading:
Is My Web Page Too Wide - Or Not Wide Enough?

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Does Your Site Have a Call to Action?

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I'm from inframes.com ltd in Reading, a website design and development company from Reading established more than ten years ago.

"You should refer people to me because I help people make more money from their website.
Blue Sky Independent Financial Advisers, Reading
"This week I'm going to be doing some work for David from Blue Sky Independent Financial Advisers and one of the things we're going to be looking at is a Call to Action.

"A Call to Action is very important on a website. It's all very well getting someone to come to your site, but what if they just browse and leave – even if they intend to come back one day, they might not. They might forget or go elsewhere. So you need something on your site to convince them to move ahead with their purchase there and then.

"A Call to Action might be a limited-time discount on a product or a free gift, but for a company of financial advisers from Reading, that's less practical. In a case like that, you're hoping to get a lead rather than a sale. You want a name, an email address and a telephone number. And members of the public won't give that to you freely – they expect something in return. Maybe it's a voucher for a free telephone consultation or a free ebook they can download.

So this week I'd like you to go away and look at your own website and ask yourself if it has a Call to Action. And if it doesn't, give me a call, and maybe we can work on one together.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


What's BNI?

I am part of a growing new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Free Online Marketing Techniques



BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I am a website designer from Reading.

"You should refer people to me because I can help them to use the internet to get more business and enhance their reputation.

"This morning I've been having a look at some of the online techniques the election campaigners in my constituency are using.

"The Conservative Party's Alok Sharma is trailing behind - he doesn't appear to be using Twitter and his Facebook page has only got 137 supporters so far.

"Labour's Naz Sarkar is Tweeting about his campaign and has 125 followers. His group Naz Sarkar for Reading West currently has 185 members.

"But screaming into the lead is the Lib Dem candidate, Daisy Benson, who is active on Twitter with 1,382 followers, has a regularly-updated campaign blog, and has a Facebook page with 499 members.

"So what can we glean from all this?

"Simply that these people feel there may be something to gain – possibly a seat in the Houses of Commons – from making use of these free tools provided for marketing themselves and their ideas. So this week my ideal referral would be a company that wants to be doing the same and doesn't know where to start.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


What's BNI?

I am part of a growing new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Protecting Your Site From Hackers

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I am from inframes.com ltd, a website design company from Reading.

"One of the reasons my customers stick with me is that they know I'll be there for them in a crisis.

"A lot of my customers rely solely on their website for their income, so you can imagine how horrified they might have been one morning last week to come into the office and find their homepage had been replaced by this:

Screengrab of hacked site - PLEASE CLICK TO SEE FULL-SIZE SCREENGRAB

"Now I take the security of my sites very seriously, but there are limits to what one can do. In a shared hosting environment, your website can be one of maybe a hundred occupying the same server. In this instance it appears the security of all the sites was compromised by a single piece of script uploaded to one of the neighbouring sites.

"But thanks to the speedy reaction of the hosting company – to whom I have been referring business for ten years now – this malicious code was erased completely within minutes and the security breach permanently purged.

"So this week I'd like you to refer me to anyone who has ever had their website hacked and wants to talk about how to ensure it never happens again.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


More on this Subject - What Can You Do?

Protect Against SQL Injection

One of the most common methods of hacking a site is via its database using a "SQL Injection". This technique can give hackers complete control over your database. It can be avoided by careful programming and there's a useful free Firefox add-on called SQL Inject Me from Security Compass which allows you to test any page for common vulnerabilities.

Protect Your Passwords

Keep your passwords secret and don't use the same one for everything. You know it makes sense.

Host Your Site on a Dedicated Server

If you're currently paying twenty or thirty quid a month for your web hosting, this is a relatively costly solution that you will have to think hard over, but if your site is in a shared hosting environment (see above), you run the risk of it being scuppered by one of your neighbours. If your business depends on your website, you should seriously consider a dedicated server or Virtual Private Server (where multiple operating systems effectively run side-by-side on the same machine).

What's BNI?

I am part of a growing new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Another Testimonial



BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I am from inframes.com ltd, a website design company from Reading.

"You should refer business to me because I can give you pretty much anything you see on someone else's website.

"Last week I had a call asking me to do exactly that. I look after the website for the actor and entertainer Allan Stewart and he told me to go and look at a banner ad for Littlewoods he'd seen on the AOL homepage.

"In the ad, there was a little carousel showing photos of models and you could place your cursor over one of the photos to slow down the animation, find out more about the outfit and of course click to make a purchase. Allan asked if I could replicate this effect to create a moving menu for his video page. I did and he was delighted with the results.

"In fact he emailed me to say 'I love it. You're very clever' and told me he'd be sending me a DVD of even more video to include on the site just to make the most of his new toy.

"So this week I'd like you to refer me to anyone who'd like to add a video or animation to their website and doesn't know where to begin.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


What's BNI?

I am part of a growing new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Vehicle Tracking Made Easy



BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I am from inframes.com ltd, a website design company from Reading.

"You should refer business to me because I do far more than just design websites – I build applications that are a vital part of my clients' businesses.

"This week I've been working with the Sherpa Van Project, which has a fleet of vans based in Yorkshire. Using software from a company called gtrack and maps supplied by Google, we operate a website that allows the coordinator to pinpoint the location of vans on the road at any given time and thus predict the likely arrival time at their next stop.

"To track a vehicle in this way you need a hard-wired box costing around £200 or a mobile 'phone that never leaves the vehicle. And you'll need a data-only SIM card for each box which should set you back less than a tenner a month. Setting up the website and configuring the SIM cards is less than a day's work and after that you can log in to check on your vehicles from any web browser.

"So the referral I'd like this week is from anyone with a fleet of vehicles who would like to know where they are at any time and for that matter precisely where they have been at any given minute on any given day.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


What's BNI?

I am part of a growing new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Free Web Domain, No Strings Attached

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

My name is Jon Ewing and I am from inframes.com ltd, a website design company from Reading.

"Following on from my 60 seconds last week in which I was talking about Google's Local Business Center, I wanted to draw your attention to another business opportunity sponsored by Google.

"This is particularly directed at Robert Craigs from Mailboxes Etc because he was telling me last week that he hasn't yet got a proper web site for his own business, just a page on the corporate website provided by MBE's head office.

"You may think that unusual, but in fact it's estimated that as many as 1.5 million businesses in the UK do not have a website.
GBBO: Getting British Business Online
"Which is why Google, along with Enterprise UK, BT and e-skills UK have launched a new project called Getting British Business Online with the aim of providing 100,000 businesses with a completely free website – including domain name registration for the first two years and all hosting.

"So, Robert, you can sign up for your free domain name and make your own website at gbbo.co.uk.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


Further Reading

There are quite a few other places where you can help yourself to free web hosting to get your business online.

Tripod
Along with Yahoo!'s now-defunct Geocities, Tripod was one of the first companies to give away space for people to create their own web pages. They were bought by Lycos but have survived their parent company's collapse. It has been renamed Multimania in the UK and France.

Google Sites
The same system that powers the GBBO programme (see above).

Microsoft Office Live Small Business
Snappy title, Microsoft!

Weebly
Some people might blanche at placing the reputation of their company in the hands of a company called Weebly, but putting any qualms about their name to one side, this free hosting service ticks all the right boxes.

wix.com
This one's a bit different because a template-driven system allows you to create your website entirely using Adobe Flash, so it arguably looks a bit more slick than plain old text and pictures.

Blogger
Arguably a blog is no substitute for a company website, just a useful addition to one, but if (a) you've got no budget, (b) you have limited technical knowledge and (c) you can spare a few minutes a week to work on it, at least it's a start. As well as Blogger, look at Blog.com and Wordpress

Posterous
If the very idea of making a website is just too much, but you're comfortable using email, this might be worth a look. Posterous lets you make your own blog-style website by email alone.

Take a look at this page on freebielist.com for even more options. If you're prepared to compromise a little, it seems there's really no need to ever purchase web hosting ever again.

What's BNI?

I am part of a growing new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

A Shortcut to Page One of Google

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I am from inframes.com ltd, a website design company from Reading.

You should refer business to me because I will give a free telephone consultation to anyone looking for advice on their website.

This week I've been talking to a young lady called Sascha who was referred to me by Dean Weller at Personal Career Management. Sascha has started up a business as a mobile massage therapist and wants some advice on getting more business from the web.

"And actually, one thing she had already done is so very effective that I thought I'd mention it today. It's something that takes five minutes, doesn't cost anything, and may - if you're very lucky - put your website straight the top of Google's listings.

"I'm talking about signing up to Google's own version of Yellow Pages, the Local Business Center.

"You can find add your business at google.com/local/add/ and if you take a look at this screengrab, you'll see that Sascha's listing for NaturalHaven.co.uk has been catapulted right to the top of the listings when I search for 'mobile massage therapist reading'. And she didn't pay a penny for it.

Google Local Business listings for mobile massage therapy in Reading - PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR A MUCH LARGER SCREENGRAB

"So this week I'd like to request once again that you refer companies who already have a website and want to talk about ways to get more business from it without spending a fortune.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


What's BNI?

I am part of a growing new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Turn Bad Luck into Good Customer Service

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I am from inframes.com ltd, a website design company from Reading.

"You should refer business to me not only for prompt and personal service, but because I also endeavour to bring my clients good luck.

"Let me explain.

"One of my clients is The Audience Club, a members-only website for very low priced London theatre and concert tickets.

"On Monday I was informed that a new member, a Chinese lady, was unhappy with her membership number.

"That's because the Chinese word for 'four' sounds exactly like the word for 'death'. Worse still is a number containing a four and a two, because that sounds exactly like the Chinese words for 'dead body'.

"I immediately delved into the data and manually changed all her records and issued her with the new number 888888. In Chinese, the word for 'eight' is lucky because it sounds like the word for 'prosperity'.

"So this week I'd like you to refer me to anyone who has a customer database and wants to integrate it with their website so that customers can check their accounts online.

"With any luck, I'll be able to help.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


What's BNI?

I am part of a growing new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Websites for Working Mums

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I am from inframes.com ltd, a website design and development company from Reading established more than ten years ago.

"You should refer business to me because when BNI's assistant director Nick Forgham took up my references to be a member of BNI, he said they were two of the best he'd ever been given.

"It's Mother's Day this Sunday, so I thought it timely to mention that working mums are amongst my best clients.

"I look after the website for my wife, who runs a company specialising in training public relations professionals.

"One of my clients is a lady in London who runs a business called The Audience Club providing very, very low priced tickets for theatre, comedy and concerts.

"Another is a working mum from Braintree who runs a travel business with her father, renting holiday villas in Tenerife and the Canary Islands.

"So this week I'd like you to refer me to a working mum who is starting up her own company and needs a website or just some advice on how to do business on the internet.

"And at this point I wanted to say that if you need me to provide a reference, I can give you a whole list of ladies who would be prepared to give me one... but then I thought that might not sound quite right.

"Instead I'll just say: to find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


What's BNI?

I am one of half-a-dozen people who have started a new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

BNI 60 Seconds - More Testimonials

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I am from inframes.com ltd, a website design and development company from Reading established more than ten years ago.

"You should refer business to me because in the past week, all modesty aside, I have received emails from two separate clients saying, and I quote 'What a star you are' and 'You are the king!'

"The reason for this praise is my ability to bail people out when their website is giving them trouble. This happened yesterday when Sarah from the Flowers and Plants Association gave me a call. It wasn't very profitable because I was able to fix her problem in ten minutes. In fact, I didn't even bother to bill her for it. It turned out someone had overwritten a file I had written last year with an older version, so all I had to do was upload the proper one and soak up the glory.

"So this week I'd like you refer someone who would like to add a 'star' to their team who can be relied on to pick up the pieces when their website goes wrong and charges a measly £35 an hour – or sometimes, if I'm feeling in a good mood, nothing at all.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


What's BNI?

I am one of half-a-dozen people who have started a new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

BNI 60 Seconds - A Testimonial

BNI


Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I am from inframes.com ltd, a website design and development company from Reading established more than ten years ago.

"You should refer business to me because we don't sell packaged websites at a fixed cost – just bespoke solutions tailored to the needs of your business, either for an agreed fee or at an hourly rate of £35.

"Yesterday I got a call from a chap called David who I've worked for many times but has recently got a new job at a recruitment agency. He was having big trouble with their website. There was a problem with the software for updating the vacancies and the company that made it told him they couldn't fix it because it was too old and offered to design him a new site instead.

"When he told me about the problem, I guessed immediately what was wrong and I was able to fix it in five minutes. Five minutes later, he emailed to tell me that everyone there was very impressed by my service and they want to talk to me about doing a complete redesign.

"So this week I'd like you refer someone to me whose current design agency is as incompetent and unhelpful as David's, because they really make me look very good.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


What's BNI?

I am one of half-a-dozen people who have started a new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Taking Control of Your Website

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I am from inframes.com ltd, a website design and development company from Reading established more than ten years ago.

"You should refer business to me because we don't sell packaged websites at a fixed cost – just bespoke solutions tailored to the needs of your business, either for an agreed fee or at an hourly rate of £35.

"This week I spent an hour with one of the new employees at the offices of one of our long-term clients giving him an initiation into using the content management system we built for them about five years ago.

"For those that don't know, a content management system allows people within an organisation to publish pages of text, pictures and so on to their website, often without any technical knowledge other than the ability to use a web browser. We designed the system precisely to the client's needs and it took about a week to develop and deploy, costing around £1,200. Since then I've lost count of the number of employees who have used this software week-in-week out to keep the site up-to-date over the years.

"So this week I'd like you refer someone to me who wants to take control of their website away from their web design agency so that they can expand and update their website themselves every day.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


What's BNI?

I am one of half-a-dozen people who have started a new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

How Keep Off Hotmail's Greylist

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I am from inframes.com ltd, a website design and development company from Reading established more than ten years ago.

"You should refer business to me because I offer a reliable, friendly and personal service at the competitive rate of just £35 per hour.

"This week we've been working with a client on data purification.

"In a nutshell this means making sure that you're not sending emails to addresses that have been defunct for years or never existed to begin with. And while you might think this isn't necessary – email being ostensibly free to send – it's becoming more and more important because services like Hotmail and Google Mail and well as ISPs and corporate network administrators are increasingly greylisting (which is to say banning) senders who persistently send email to non-existent addresses. Which means that you might find yourself cut off from all of your Hotmail customers just because you sent a mailout to a handful of out-of-date Hotmail accounts.

"So this week I'd like you refer someone to me who has been building an email database for two years or more but doesn't have a policy to remove old data and avoid greylisting.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."

Windows Live Hotmail
More on This Subject

1. Read This
To find out what greylisting really means, visit www.greylisting.org

2. Create an SPF Record
Depending on how much control you've got over your domain's DNS settings, you may be able to create an SPF Record or, if you use Micorosft Exchange, a Sender ID. These help to legitimise your email. How? Well, spammers very often spoof the originating address of their email messages to make it seem like you've got mail from HSBC or eBay or Facebook, for example. But if your mail server checks the SPF record for every email that arrives, you will stand a much better chance of weeding out malicious spam from authentic email. The email's header contains details of the server where it originated and the SPF record will tell your mail server whether that server really does belong to the domain in purports to come from. And if all of that sounds too technical, don't worry. The important thing is that creating an SPF Record or Sender ID will help keep you out of Hotmail's bad books.

3. Join the Junk Mail Reporting Programme
If you have your own mail server, you may be able to join Hotmail's junk mail reporting programme. If you meet Hotmail's criteria, they will begin notifying you whenever an email from you is marked as junk so that you can delete that address from your database. Read more about the junk mail reporting programme here.

4. Remove Hard Boucebacks
It should go without saying that you must have a method for allowing people on your database to unsubscribe themselves. In addition, it's important to have a process for removing email messages that result in a "hard bounce", which is to say the email address does not exist, as opposed to a "soft bounce", which might result from a full mailbox. If your mailing list is small enough, you can do this manually, by checking bounce-backs. To an extent this can be partially-automated by using something like Mail Grab, which strips addresses out of email messages or other files. But if you are getting more bounce-backs than you can manage manually, you'll need software that can check your email as it comes in and unsubscribe the recipients automatically. Precisely what that software is will depend on your other systems (ie. mail server, customer database etc) so give us a ring or send us an email and we can talk about your options.

5. Use a Double-Opt-in Subscription Model
In some cases, you might be sending email to addresses that never existed in the first place, simply because the subscriber made a typo when he or she entered the email address. To get around this - and if you have ever opted into mailing lists yourself, you've doubtless encountered this yourself - there should be two stages to your sign-up process:
(a) the initial sign-up, which generates a single, unique email message and
(b) the click-through from that unique email to activate the subscription
Using this method, you ensure from the beginning that the address is real. And it has the positive side-effect of stopping malicious or mischievous people from signing up other people without their knowledge.

What's BNI?

I am one of half-a-dozen people who have started a new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

BNI 60 Seconds - Changes to Blogger

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I am from inframes.com ltd, a website design and development company from Reading established more than ten years ago.

"You should refer business to me because I offer a reliable, friendly and personal service at the competitive rate of just £35 per hour.

"Last week I talked about setting up a blog for one of my clients and since then I've heard about a change to the running of the free, Google-owned Blogger system that is going to affect the way some of my clients run their websites starting at the end of March. So I've been taking steps to pre-empt any problems and make sure the transition is as smooth as possible.

"So this week I'd like you to refer someone to me who has a website and doesn't have anyone looking after it full time but might find it useful to have a member of the team they can call on at any time who knows their website inside out and can spot potential problems long before they start to cost them money.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."

Blogger
More on this topic

For years, Blogger has allowed you to store your website's FTP hostname, username and password as part of your account so that you could write your blog page on blogger.com and then click "Publish" to copy that page to your own site. As a consequence, you could create blog pages for your own website without any technical know-how.

But from the end of March, you won't be able to do that any more.

It seems that Blogger's owners, Google, are fed up with providing technical support for this free service and rather than making it a premium subscription service, they've decided to scrap it altogether. Instead, Blogger blogs will have to move to a Blogger-hosted service, where the pages appear on Blogger's server instead of yours.

The good news is that you can carry on using Blogger and still make your blog pages seem much the same as always, plus you can still keep your usual domain name, as long as you know your way around your domain's DNS management.

The best way to do this, assuming your domain registrar provides you with a DNS management console, is to create a subdomain (aka vanity domain).

We've done this with www.allanstewart.com to create the new subdomain blog.allanstewart.com.

You do this by creating a CNAME.

It's pretty simple. You don't need to know any IP addresses or anything, just create a new CNAME in the format "whatever.yourdomain.com" and associate that domain with "ghs.google.com."

It might take anything from a few minutes to 48 hours for the new DNS record to filter through and the Blogger publishing settings page will tell you if your domain is or isn't ready yet.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There's a full stop (dot) at the end of "ghs.google.com." - it's important, so don't leave it out. Do leave out the double quotes, though - they're not part of it!

ANOTHER IMPORTANT NOTE: Google suggests it is "important" to "create a 'A' NAME records for your naked domain". No it isn't! In fact if you're using a subdomain, you absolutely must not do this.

Allan Stewart's news page used to be www.allanstewart.com/news.asp but now that he can't publish his blog to his own webserver, that page is now found at blog.allanstewart.com

What's BNI?

I am one of half-a-dozen people who have started a new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

BNI 60 Seconds - Start Blogging!

BNI

Each week in our BNI lunchtime meeting, I am expected to get up and tell other members and visitors a little bit about my work in a sixty second snapshot.

If you want to find out a bit more about our weekly meetings, skip to the bottom of this page.

Here's what I had to say this week:

"My name is Jon Ewing and I am from inframes.com ltd, a website design and development company from Reading established more than ten years ago.

"You should refer business to me because I offer a reliable, friendly and personal service at the competitive rate of just £35 per hour.

"This week we've been redesigning a website for a hotel. The owner is keen to keep his customers informed about special events, boost his search engine ranking and generally keep his site fresh by writing a weekly blog. So we've seamlessly integrated his blog into the design of his own website, so he can update his site without needing to understand about writing HTML or uploading files. In fact, he writes his blog using Blogger, the Google-owned, free blogging service, which powers the inframes.com blog, too.

"So this week I'd like you to refer someone to me who has a website but doesn't know how to update it and I'll show them how they can add professional-looking new pages to it every day of the week.

"To find out how good your website could be, look into inframes."


What's BNI?

I am one of half-a-dozen people who have started a new chapter of the BNI business networking group and we're looking for other Reading-based small business professionals to refer business to.

We meet between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Wednesdays. If you'd like to come along to a lunch, please drop me a line or give me a call and I'll put you in touch with our organiser.

There's absolutely no commitment required – you just pay a tenner, which covers the cost of lunch at the Strada on the Oracle Riverside - and you'll have a chance to meet existing members and other visitors, introduce your business and of course hand out business cards.