Websites & Online Services
SAM Sales and Marketing assist customers with website development and optimisation. We can design great looking websites to suit a whole range of applications and budgets.
When you buy a website, it is hard to know what you are buying. Why does one supplier charge more than another? Particularly, why are there ongoing costs involved in building a website?
Consider buying a mobile phone: you purchase the phone upfront, and unless you just want a clock and contact manager you pay an ongoing service to the network so your mobile is useful. In the same way, we operate our service on a subscription basis since we believe it gives the most effective websites over the long term.
Hosting is the one ongoing cost you must pay. It is storing your website on a computer (server) which is permanently connected to the Internet. This means that people can get to your website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Reliable hosting is important. If the server is often unavailable it will prevent people from seeing your website and affect your search engine ranking.
Your hosting service should include email accounts for your business. You should also insist on getting web statistics, which are vital to getting feedback on your site as a business tool.
- Is anyone visiting your site?
- Where are they coming from?
- What are they doing once they are on your site?
We include hosting as part of all our accounts. This helps us get your site up and running as quickly as possible and provides ongoing technical support.
Software & Upgrades
Our sites are all built with a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS means that you can add pictures, pages and text without any further charge. If you would prefer us to do it we can provide this service as well. Please see Our Technologies below for more information.
CMS Software is upgraded as part of the service, keeping it up to date as website technology evolves. We can do this as we use open source software, which is continually tested and developed by thousands of web developers across the world. You won’t have to buy an additional license down the track, and you can easily add features to your website over time since your software is the latest system.
Every browser behaves differently. As new browsers are released, poorly planned websites can become broken and hard for people to use. As part of the service we make sure your website displays correctly on all popular browsers both current and future.
The problem of website features that break seems to have become quite common amongst other web design companies. Some new clients have come to us with sites that have a Contact Form where the responses have disappeared, never to be seen again (along with the prospective clients) or a Shopping Cart where the checkout didn’t work. Lost enquires and lost sales can add up to a lot of missing customers. Our service ensures that all parts of your site will continue to work, not only on day one but also for the life of the web site.
A “fire and forget” website, where the website is launched and never thought of again, is only going to have limited success
We offer ongoing access to our expertise in technical, copy writing, graphic and marketing areas to help you get the most out of your website. We will help you:
- Get more visitors who stay longer.
- Add features that will increase website effectiveness. Our staff are available to help you update your website via phone, website, email or in person.
When discussing a potential website, we keep the costs of your site as transparent as possible so there will be no big surprises in a year.
Our guarantee means that you are not locked in. If you are unhappy with our service you are free to move on (see below).
Not everyone is looking for this kind of comprehensive maintenance service for their website. We do it this way because we believe it delivers the most effective website in the long term.
Our Technologies Standards
Your website is also built according to the HTML and CSS standards. The benefits to you are:
- Display: Your website will display correctly in modern browsers.
- Speed: Your site will download more rapidly, increasing user experience.
- Accessibility: Your site will be available to more people on more devices.
- Maintenance: Your site is developed and maintained faster.
Our websites are also hand-coded, which gives the most efficient programming that is possible, to maximise the above benefits.
Content Management System
All of our websites are built using Content Management System technology. A Content Management System (CMS) is vital to the continuing easy maintenance and improvement of your website. There are many benefits:
- Content can be maintained efficiently and cost-effectively. Your information can be moved, duplicated, added, deleted, hidden, resized, converted and reorganised rapidly online. Menus, vital to a usable website, are automatically updated. Footers and contact information can be quickly updated across the whole website.
- A consistent look is enforced. Traditional maintenance of websites can often result in a confused and “broken” website design. Managed content uses “templates” to ensure that any changes to the site are consistent to the specified design.
- The website is easily upgradeable. Website features can be rapidly added in the future within the framework of the existing site. A new website look can be swapped in later without needing to touch the content. Layouts tailored to particular devices, such as PDAs, can be added to your site without touching the content.
- Removes the need to purchase specialised software. The online software provides everything that is needed to maintain the website, removing the need to invest in additional software to create web pages and web graphics. The straightforward nature of the managed content software also removes the need for specialised training and skills.
- Reduces hidden costs. When the time that you or a staff member spend designing, developing and updating a website is considered, the real cost of a traditional website can be astronomical. SAM clearly defines design and development costs and significantly reduces maintenance time.
We use the Typo3 CMS software, which is actively developed and improved, by hundreds of professional developers around the world.
About Our Service Website Lifetime
A website might take a couple of months to design and build but be online for five years. Instead of concentrating exclusively on the design and build of your website (months) SAM Sales and Marketing makes sure we look after your website for its entire lifetime (years).
A website has a number of phases: planning, design, development, and ongoing maintenance. While the design and development phase may take 6 months, the website itself may be online for five years. Many web development companies concentrate only on the design and development process. Once the site is delivered, it is commonly left up to the website owner to update the site themselves. Many small improvements are left undone since the business owner has neither the time nor expertise to put them into place. As a result the website becomes gradually less effective over the years and doesn’t work as hard for the business as it should.
SAM provides an ongoing service which works to continually increase the effectiveness of a website over its entire lifetime.
The service includes:
- Refinements: continuing advice, suggestions and improvements to make your website more effective.
- At any time you can get in touch and ask about anything to do with your website. We are happy to do some research on your behalf and make recommendations as part of our service.
- Since we spend our time working on the web there are often new opportunities and features that we become aware of. Occasionally we will inform you about an initiative that we believe could improve your website effectiveness.
- We continually publish articles on our website dealing with various issues, which are resources accessible by you (and others).
- Maintain: Sites that are built and forgotten can often degrade as new browsers become popular and new versions of existing browsers are released. Such display issues can make a website impossible to use and potentially damage the perception of the quality of a business. As part of our ongoing service, SAM makes sure that sites work and display properly in all the current popular modern browsers. (See an example of a browser error below.)
- Upgrade: The software behind the site is continually upgraded with better security, better features and usability improvements. SAM makes sure that these software upgrades are applied to our websites so that the security, features and usability benefits are reflected on your website.
- Support: SAM staff are available via phone, email, online chat or even in person to support and help you in whatever way you require.
- Host: Part of our service is hosting to make your site available to anyone, anywhere, at any time. We consistently make upgrades of our server hardware and features as part of our service.
Website should make money
Most businesses don’t build a website to win awards or showcase a glossy new design. Most businesses build websites to promote and ultimately make money for that business. However this underlying purpose of business websites often seems to get lost under fancy design, “cool” technologies and complicated features. Those things are nice to have but if the underlying ability of the website to promote the business is reduced then they become a handicap rather than a competitive advantage.
Some common mistakes are:
Excessive use of Flash. Some website designs are done completely in Flash (web animation). The websites look great but often suffer from usability problems including confusing and non-intuitive navigation as well as slow load times. They are also invisible to search engines so they prevent potential customers from finding you. If ‘look’ is more important to your business than information then a completely Flash site may be appropriate, otherwise it should be avoided. This doesn’t mean that all Flash is bad. The use of some Flash to decorate and “spice up” a page is usually a good investment.
Inappropriate website features. These are website features that can be expensive to build and maintain but don’t actually contribute to the purpose of the site. These can include fly-out menus with fancy effects, which actually make the site difficult to use. Additionally, pages featuring sound effects which are unexpected and unwanted can actually damage the reputation of the site owner. Another common “feature” is splash pages (entering pages) which take ages to load and don’t actually communicate anything to the user.
SAM ensures that the resulting website actually promotes and makes money for your business.
SAM aims to work with you on your website for many years. A strong relationship would be the foundation of such a partnership and nothing is more vital to a good relationship than communication. With this in mind we consciously work to let you know what is happening and by what date. Depending on the complexity of the project the following things may happen:
- Initial meeting, which answers the question “How can we help you?” May go through a formal questionnaire to draw out what is required.
- Development of a proposal, which lays out what we suggest and the benefits to you the customer. Ideally this is discussed in a follow-up, face-to-face meeting.
- A development deposit is issued and paid.
- The project is laid out in online project management software. The tasks that are required to complete the project is laid out here (to-dos) and deadlines (milestones) in consultation with you the client.
- As the project progresses to-dos are ticked off and milestones are met. Communication is done on the project management area rather than via email where things can be lost. Where appropriate offline communication notes are transcribed into here so that everyone is working off the same page. Files appropriate to the project are uploaded here so nothing is lost.
- The website is developed in a staging area so that you can give feedback on the site since you exactly how it behaves. If you have elected to update your own site you can also begin loading in content and learning the CMS software.
- An invoice is issued and paid for the remainder of the development costs.
- The site is launched.
- The project is reviewed. Any inefficiencies and frustrations are discussed and procedures are put in place to make sure they don’t happen again in the future.
- As stated above, the website continues to be refined over the years in consultation with you.
SAM works hard to keep the communication channels open. We communicate what’s going on and what is possible by when. For this reason we offer a money-back guarantee if, for any reason, you are not happy with our service.
We also don’t tie our customers into any contracts. If you don’t want to do business with us anymore you can leave at any stage. We’d rather that our service continues to impress rather than forcing you to stay with us.