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

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Why Not to Use a Free Online Web Builder - Part Four

Why Not to Use a Free Online Web Builder

Part Four: If you think you think it's expensive hiring a professional...

Pizza chef We’re all affected by looks, consciously or otherwise. When we are standing outside a pub or restaurant, we size it up based on appearances. If we’re contemplating a fry-up to help get over a hangover, then we’ll be looking for something very different to when we’re planning an anniversary dinner or looking for a venue for a business meeting. But whatever we’re looking for, we know it when we see it because we’ve learned to look for key indicators that tell us what to expect when we walk through the door.

We might not be able to list those key indicators off the top of our heads, but we have a feel for them.

In design, there are certain typefaces that complement one another. There are colours that suit a particular type of business or target market. There is a language that works well in the corporate market which differs when you are communicating with the public or with a small business. And there are images which confirm your investment in quality while others shriek the words “clip art”.

In business, we strive at all times to appear professional. And these days your website very often forms the first impression of your company. In many cases, all it needs to do is meet expectations. If I want to buy a product or service that you sell, then by coming to your website I have started out by being open to do business. All you need to do is not disappoint me.

Now, if you run a restaurant for a living, then you can’t eat out without scrupulously analysing the food, service, d├ęcor, location, menus and price. As a website designer, I tend to look at everything with a designer’s eye. And of course I know not everyone does that.

That’s what I was looking for So let’s say for a moment that I’m not a designer. When I arrive at your site I should be thinking “Yep, that’s what I was looking for”. Maybe I’ll browse around a few pages first, maybe I’ll check out the competition, but if the price is right and all other things being equal, why should I look elsewhere?

And the answer to that is that I might be thinking: “There’s something a bit wrong about this and I just can’t put my finger on it” or worse “Nothing seems to happen when I click here, where it says CLICK HERE”.

If you do it yourself, then what will you do when something goes wrong? Will you know where to tap? And if your website doesn’t start sales rolling in, what will you do about that? If the answer is start again from scratch, then think about how much time you might have lost in the interim – time your competitors have spent building their web presence.

And once it’s built, the job doesn’t end there. A good website is never finished – it should reflect the vitality and enterprise of your organisation, not leave people thinking “I wonder if they’re still in business?”

That’s not to mention the ongoing process of search engine optimisation. In a world with billions of web pages being created every single day, it’s madness to imagine you’re going to get to page one on Google with your first five-page website and even if you did, it’s madness to think you’ll stay there while others are busy creating more and better content for their sites.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend your time working on your business than on making a website you know is second best?

How many big name brands have built their website using Google Sites? How many big name brands have got a website built in an afternoon by the office manager using Google Sites? You might say that’s a spurious remark, but really, if it was that good, why would you need to do anything else?

The simple fact is that all businesses want to distinguish themselves from their competition or at the very least stand shoulder to shoulder alongside the leading competitors. If all of your competitors have terrible websites then it will take a very small investment to exceed what they have achieved. And if all you do is equal their mediocrity, it will be equally easy for them to leapfrog you should they see the inherent advantages of hiring a professional.

So having given it some careful thought, I’m happy that my instinctive answer still seems like the right one. Amateur work achieves amateur results.

As one of my clients put it - if you think you think it's expensive hiring a professional, wait till you try hiring an amateur.  

Thankfully I work in a field where most people don't need to be convinced of the value of my expertise. They just want to hire someone who knows where to tap, first time, every time.


Part One: You would say that, wouldn’t you?
Part Two: Do you have any experience as a designer?
Part Three: Do you do everything yourself?
Part Four: If you think you think it's expensive hiring a professional...

Read on...

Don't just take my word for it. Have a look at some of the many free online website builders you can choose from.
bravenet devhub
doodlekit google sites jigsy
moonfruit snackwebsites
tripod ucoz
webstarts weebly
wix yola

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Why Not to Use a Free Online Web Builder - Part Three

Why Not to Use a Free Online Web Builder

Part Three: Do you do everything yourself?

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t ever delegate anything unless you can possibly avoid it, then the words “do it yourself” are probably written right through the core of you like a stick of rock.

Personally, I’m a big believer in leaving stuff to the experts where possible. Because I value my life, I like my wiring to be fixed by a trained electrician and because I want to make the best of my finances, I trust my money to my financial adviser and my accountant.

Of course, sometimes you can’t afford an expert, as much as you’d like to. So you have a stab at tiling your own bathroom, say. And it might take a really long time and be a steep learning curve, but eventually, after a lot of swearing and a few broken tiles, you end up with something you can be proud of. It might be a bit amateurish, but you did it yourself.

But does the analogy translate to the business world?

Commercial photography Let’s look at a profession that’s not distantly related to mine – commercial photography.

Sure, we can all take a photograph. Most of us can even take one with our ‘phone these days. And occasionally, with favourable lighting and a compelling subject, they look really good. But that’s more luck than judgement. It takes a professional with the right equipment, experience, a talent for composition, training in a variety of techniques, a thorough knowledge of the technology and of course imagination to get results like that every time. They can take a picture of a cardboard box and make it look enticing. And more to the point, if they had taken the photo you were really pleased with, they’d have done it even better.

There are two big problems with doing it yourself in business.

First, you’re spending a lot of time on something that is not your job. So it’s taking you away from directly building your business and working for your customers.

And second, while you might be relatively proud of what you’ve achieved, you look at your competitors and there’s no disguising the superiority of their efforts.

But you might say “My customers won’t be able to tell the difference. They’re interested in price and service, not looks” and on the face of it, that’s true.

Prev Next

Part One: You would say that, wouldn’t you?
Part Two: Do you have any experience as a designer?
Part Three: Do you do everything yourself?
Part Four: If you think you think it's expensive hiring a professional...

Read on...

Don't just take my word for it. Have a look at some of the many free online website builders you can choose from.

bravenet devhub
doodlekit google sites jigsy
moonfruit snackwebsites
tripod ucoz
webstarts weebly
wix yola

Friday, 20 December 2013

Why Not to Use a Free Online Web Builder - Part Two

Why Not to Use a Free Online Web Builder

Part Two: Do you have any experience as a designer?

It’s not unreasonable to suggest that someone who has rarely, if ever, done something will be less good at it than someone who does it for a living.

Of course, there are arguments against this.

For one, the free website builder applications use templates designed by professionals.

For another, just because you’ve been doing something for years doesn’t actually mean you’re any good at it. You might just be very persistent.

So let’s address those two points.

Website templates First, the quality of the templates. Yes, your template might look fantastic. But design is about creating a fine balance between form and function that is conducive to a particular goal. In the case of making a website, that goal is usually either to make a sale or to initiate a sales lead.

With a website builder application, you start out with an attractive template, but then you obviously have to customise it to your own needs. That will immediately upset the fine balance established by the original designer. And it’s not all about being arty-farty. There will be some practical difficulties to overcome. For instance, the template might be designed for a white-on-black logo but yours needs to be black on white. So now you’ve got a big white box in one corner of the site that immediately ruins the look. Or the template might look great with a short-and-sweet company name at the top like “The IT Consultancy”, but your company name is The Association of British International Petrochemical Importers. And it really doesn’t want to fit.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell Second, I might not be any good at my job. Maybe I’ve had a succession of unsatisfied clients who have ultimately left and gone elsewhere.

Well, no. I have been in business for 14 years and I have a number of clients who have been with me almost that long, including travel company the Sherpa Van Project, VIP hospitality company Mark Butler Associates, biochemical equipment suppliers Biogene, entertainer Allan Stewart and TV audience company SRO Audiences.

Anyway, according to Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book Outliers, the key to success in any field is to practice a task for about 10,000 hours. I started making websites for money in 1995, pretty much the first year anyone would even consider paying for such a thing. I’ve been doing it full time since 1996. Based on a 35 hour week, 48 weeks a year (and frankly, like most of you, I work a hell of a lot harder than that) for the last 17 years, I am now past the 28,500 hour mark. I’d say that qualifies me to claim some degree of competence.
Prev Next

Part One: You would say that, wouldn’t you?
Part Two: Do you have any experience as a designer?
Part Three: Do you do everything yourself?
Part Four: If you think you think it's expensive hiring a professional...

Read on...

Don't just take my word for it. Have a look at some of the many free online website builders you can choose from.
bravenet devhub
doodlekit google sites jigsy
moonfruit snackwebsites
tripod ucoz
webstarts weebly
wix yola

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Why Not to Use a Free Online Web Builder - Part One

Why Not to Use a Free Online Web Builder

Part One: You would say that, wouldn’t you?

I was asked recently what I thought about using free, template-based, do-it-yourself website builders as an alternative to paying me to design a business website.

My first instinct is to say “You should never do that – that’s only for amateurs” but the obvious response to that might be “Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you?”

Which would be fair comment.

So I figured I’d better give the matter some careful thought. Just what exactly do I offer that is better than doing it for yourself?

I want to start off by telling you a shaggy dog story that a lot of you will have heard before.

Knowing where to tap Ever heard the story of the giant ship engine that failed? The ship’s owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure out how to fix the engine.
Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was a youngster. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.
Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. When he went down to the engine room he felt the pipes with his hands, took out a stethoscope, listened to the pumps, and finally placed one of his hands on one of the gauges with his eyes closed. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed!
A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for $10,000.
“What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!”
So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemized bill.”
The man sent a bill that read:
Tapping with a hammer: $2.00
Knowing where to tap: $9,998.00

Obviously this story is designed to illustrate the value of expertise and the gulf between knowledge and effort.

So I have a few remarks to make on why you should make a distinction between a site built by a free, online web builder and one built for you by a professional who knows where to tap.

Part One: You would say that, wouldn’t you?
Part Two: Do you have any experience as a designer?
Part Three: Do you do everything yourself?
Part Four: If you think you think it's expensive hiring a professional...

Read on...

Don't just take my word for it. Have a look at some of the many free online website builders you can choose from.

bravenet devhub
doodlekit google sites jigsy
moonfruit snackwebsites
tripod ucoz
webstarts weebly
wix yola

Monday, 16 December 2013

Christmas and New Year Business Hours 2013-14

inframes website design Reading Berkshire - opening hours for Christmas and New Year 2014
Tuesday December 24th 10am to 4pm
Wednesday December 25th Closed
Thursday December 26th Closed
Friday December 27th Closed
Saturday December 28th Closed
Sunday December 29th Closed
Monday December 30th Closed
Tuesday December 31st Closed
Wednesday January 1st Closed
Thurssday January 2nd 10am to 6pm

Email will be monitored as usual throughout the holidays for web hosting tech support queries.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Should I Host My Videos on Youtube or Stream Them From My Own Site?

Should I Host My Videos or Youtube or Stream Them From My Own Site? If you want to use video to help get more business, the simplest way to do it might seem like Youtube. You're almost certainly familiar with it already and quite possibly you've used it to upload your own personal video files to share with friends and family.

All you have to do is upload the video and use the helpful embed code provided to copy and paste it into your own web pages.
But there are pros and cons.

The Youtube pros are:
  • It's quick and easy to upload videos and you can edit them via your web browser
  • They could get found in a Youtube search as well as a Google search
  • The video streaming technology is fast and effective
  • People might post positive and supportive comments that will boost your credibility
  • If your videos are really popular, you could earn some money
The Youtube cons are:
Youtube privacy settingsYou can get around the risk of people posting negative comments by posting your video privately, which means that people will only find out about it if you share the link with them or if it's embedded in a web page, like a blog post or Linkedin. Of course, if you take this route, it won't be in the Youtube search index, so you lose one of the benefits along with one of the drawbacks.

If you want to go a different way, here are a handful of links you might find useful.

viewbix - "add interactive apps to your videos that engage viewers and drive calls to action"

vimeo - proving there is an alternative to Youtube

jplayer - jQuery HTML5 Audio / Video Library

suave - "elegant HTML5 videos (how they should have been)"

firefogg - use your Firefox browser quickly convert video to web-ready Ogg Theora and WebM

handbrake - open source (free download) video transcoder

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

What to do when the System Administrator says the size limit of XXXMB for mailbox [email protected] has been exceeded

If you've received an email from the System Administrator saying something like...
the size limit of XXXMB for mailbox [email protected] has been exceeded
...then  you will need to take action to get your email back on track by deleting some old email from your mailbox.

The problem here is that  your POP3 mailbox is not designed to store email permanently. It's meant to be a temporary repository so you can access your email when it arrives.

These days of course everyone wants easy access to their email from multiple mobile devices as well as their office desktop computer, but that doesn't mean you need to leave six month-old correspondence on the server. Sooner or later, you'll have to download it and archive it somewhere.

This will require some changes to your email software.

If you're using Outlook - and I've found that pretty much every one of my clients does these days - then here are some tips on what to do about it.

1. Begin by creating an "Archive" in Outlook.

Archives are kept on your computer, not on the mail server, so they do not count towards your mail quota.

Here's a video on Youtube that explains how to do it in Outlook 2010. If you have a different version of Outlook, you can find several similar how-to videos by searching Youtube.

2. Then you will need to configure Outlook so that it deletes old email from the server after a certain period of time (for example 60 or 90 days). I just did a bit of Googling and found this helpful page which gives instructions for different versions of Outlook (it doesn't include Outlook 2013, but you should be able to work it out easily enough from the Outlook 2010 instructions).

The bit you're interested in is where it says "Remove from server after..."

 I found this Youtube video that demonstrates how it's done in Outlook 2010. There's no sound and you'll probably need to view it full-screen to get a good view of what's going on, but if you follow these instructions you'll be okay...

Friday, 4 October 2013

It Was 14 Years Ago Today... ltd was incorporated 14 years ago today.

Unsurprisingly, the company is pretty much unrecognisable from where it began, back in the midst of a dotcom boom when the dotcom bust was a long way ahead and the credit crunch hadn't been invented.

The internet was in its infancy in 1999. We were still accessing the internet via modems using pay-per-minute dial-up connections, or ISDN if you were very lucky. Downloading a video was usually an agonisingly lengthy procedure. There was no such thing as mobile internet - even WAP-enabled mobiles were still a couple of years away. Home computers were plodding, ugly, grey lumps and laptops cost a small fortune. Most companies didn't own their own domain name, everyone was talking about the sensation that was and Lycos was still a force to be reckoned with in the search engine business.

Looking back, it seems an almost embarrassingly primitive age. As a company, inframes is now well into its teens, and like most teenagers, it's hard to look back on our baby pictures without a groan of embarrassment.

So we're not going to waste time looking back.

There's never been a more exciting time to be involved in the world of creative internet technology than today, right now.

So here's to the next 14 years.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Following the Rules Has Its Advantages

Business Networking in Reading, Berkshire, with BNI Reading Oracle

At school, my teachers probably would have told you I had a problem with authority. But sometimes following the rules has its advantages. Certainly when it comes to getting a the ranking you deserve on Google.

This morning I’ve been working on some new content for the BNI Reading Oracle website.

The website has been around for a couple of years now but it’s never been at the top of my priority list.

Unsurprisingly, it comes top on Google if you search for BNI Reading Oracle, which isn't much to shout about. But, more interestingly, it’s also hovering somewhere around the bottom of page one if you search for “business networking Reading”.

That’s a pretty high position for a site that - I would have to admit - is, with the best will in the world, somewhat neglected.

The reason I’ve achieved this modest success on Google is that I know how to follow the rules that help get the best out of whatever little resources you have to put into creating content for a website.

So, if you know someone who is not appearing on page one when you type in their business category followed by the word “Reading”, then introduce them to me.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Help! My Email is Bouncing

Fortunately, sorted out their hosting issues in a fairly timely fashion last week but there is still an ongoing - and completely unrelated - issue with one of their outbound mail servers.

So, if you've seen a bounce-back message like the following, then this post is for you...
 From: [email protected]
[mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: 05 August 2013 11:21
To: [email protected]
Subject: failure notice

Hi. This is the qmail-send program at
I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.

[recipient's IP address] does not like recipient.
Remote host said: 554 5.7.1 Rejected - your IP address was found in a blacklist for sending spam. Please visit:
Giving up on [recipient's IP address].
This sounds like scary stuff. Someone is accusing you of sending spam! That's simply not right, right?

The short answer is: don't panic. If you see a bounce-back message like that one, please wait a few minutes and send it again.

I'll explain why. Here's what's happening...

There are more than 20 servers for outgoing mail.

When you send an email, it gets sent via one of those 20 servers.

It seems that a couple of those servers are "compromised" this week. In other words, someone who "legitimately" signed up with the hosting company then used the server to send spam before their account could be closed down. This resulted on a couple of the IP addresses being blacklisted.

Since then, the system administrators have begun the process for removal from the blacklist. There is are a few hoops they have to jump through and they are doing everything by the book.In normal circumstances, this takes no longer than a week and could be considerably less.

This is all very unremarkable and just a part of the day-to-day running of a shared mail server system.

Currently, there are at least 18 outgoing (SMTP) servers at any given moment that are completely "clean".

Thus, your outgoing email will usually be fine. If it goes via one of those 18 servers, it will be delivered normally. It will only get bounced if (a) you are unlucky enough to get channeled through one of the compromised servers and (b) the recipient's mail server is subscribed to one of the blacklists.

So, to reiterate my original point, if you see a bounce-back, just wait five to fifteen minutes and send again. I appreciate this is an inconvenience, but it is temporary. The servers are on a timer of sorts, to balance the load of each server, so waiting a short while before resending will ensure you don't hit the same outgoing mail server the second time.

Friday, 2 August 2013 sites offline

If your domain is hosted by then likely as not you'll have noticed it's been offline this afternoon.

This problem has been caused by issues with upstream provider

The problem came to light around lunchtime. I'd had a report from a client first thing this morning who couldn't access his email, which may have been the first signs of trouble or possibly just coincidence (it was fine when I checked).

Justhost  tweeted ten minutes ago to say "We've made progress identifying the router causing problems. Approx half of servers should be accessible; we'll keep you posted."

Sadly, users appear to be in the wrong "approx half".

Monday, 18 February 2013

6 things that can help your Google ranking

6 things that can help your Google ranking
For many businesses, getting good positioning on Google isn't that hard. If you have a great website, Google wants it to be at the top.

It's true - that's how Google got where it is today: by reliably providing useful results, day in day out. That's why you use it. And that's why, if your website is going to make it anywhere near the top of page one, it needs to earn that accolade.

Some of the factors that can help are:

1. Content - the more, the better
2. Keywords - whenever you write something, try to include words that you think people might be searching for and repeat them as much as possible without being gratuitous. Repeat the same words, in the same order, in four key areas: title tag, meta description tag, h1 heading and body text
3. Links to your website - from other relevant, quality but (obviously) non-competing sites
4. Customer reviews on Google places
5. Longevity - stick with it and it will come!
6. File names - including your domain name

Better search engine positioning - and of course the concomitant customer enquiries - will come if you work on your content and promote your site.
And remember, the home page is arguably the most important of all the pages and you should endeavour to make good use of key words that people are likely to be searching for. But of course you must always strike a balance between on the one hand being found and, on the other, writing something that will be informative and appealing to readers once they have found you.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Coming attractions

Some sneak previews of sites we're working on right now at inframes...

Lorraine McGregor DCH

CBT Practitioner and Clinical Hypnotherapist
Lorraine, who works in Reading, Windsor and London, helps people with addictions, anxiety, depression and phobias

Lorraine McGregor DCH, CBT Practitioner and Clinical Hypnotherapist

Nutritional Benefits

Nutritional Therapist Laura de la Harpe
BBC Radio Berkshire's resident nutritionist, who practises in Reading tailored providing nutrition plans to help people acieve their goals of weight loss and/or improved health

Nutritional Benefits, Reading

Claire Elizabeth Cakes

Fabulous Cupcake, Baking & Decorating Classes
At a Claire Elizabeth Cakes baking class you will learn professional skills in a fun and relaxed environment - this superb website is being built for Claire by the very talented Caroline Rawson

Claire Elizabeth Cakes

New World

Events & Hospitality
New World creates corporate events that mean business, reinvigorating leadership teams, giving a boost to employees or excite business prospects.

New World Events & Hospitality

Friday, 18 January 2013

360° Panoramic Photos of Reading in the Snow, January 2013

Click on the thumbnails for (much) larger images..

360° Panoramic Photo of Broad Street, Reading in the Snow 360 degree Panoramic Photo of Broad Street Reading in the Snow, January 2013

360° Panoramic Photo of Oracle Riverside, Reading in the Snow 360 degree Panoramic Photo of Oracle Riverside Reading in the Snow, January 2013

360° Panoramic Photo of Holybrook Road, Reading in the Snow 360 degree Panoramic Photo of Holybrook Road Reading in the Snow, January 2013

Yes, we're open for business...

...although that might change once the schools decide that they aren't.

Snow is coming down steadily and looks like getting heavier as the day wears on. Right now, this is what you'll encounter on the way up to our office door...

It's snowing! Outside the office of Reading website designers

The same view - a little over four hours later and it hasn't stopped snowing since

It's STILL snowing! Outside the office of Reading website designers