Why we’re dumping PayPal

No-PayPalWe have today finally taken the decision to no longer accept PayPal payments for any of our work or services.  We have had a fairly uneasy relationship with PayPal for a long time due to it’s rather suspicious policies of arbitrarily freezing accounts and refusing to release funds (some times for several days) whilst they earned a little interest clarified that we weren’t money laundering or anything else untoward.

We’ve even heard stories of business and events getting into severe difficulties due to PayPal’s policies and the web is full of anti-PayPal websites and campaigns against the payment processor’s actions.

In response to these issues, we took the decision a while back to limit our use of PayPal to only accept payments of less £100 to eliminate the risk of having any larger and potentially cashflow affecting payment being tangled up by PayPal.

Today however, PayPal has really made it impossible for us to continue to use their payment processing facilities to process any further payment for us.

For those you not already aware, PayPal announced today  changes in it’s legal agreements for UK customers that come into effect in June this year.  In summary the effects of these changes are that PayPal’s buyer protection scheme will be extended to payments for services, digital downloads and other intangible goods.  At the same time the time limit for claims made under the scheme will be extended to 180 days.  Whilst on the surface this may seem like great protection for buyers.  It poses a huge risk of major issues for sellers of such goods and services as it means a customer can raise a claim against the quality of your goods or services and request a full refund almost 6 months after the sale when it may be almost impossible for you to defend the case due to lack of supporting evidence etc.

It is our firm belief that UK consumer protection legislation is already more than adequate to protect buyers and it is not PayPal’s place to provide additional protection that could prove detrimental to businesses and open to abuse by unscrupulous people.  On top of this, based on our experience of dealing with staff at PayPal we would have to question their competence to adjudicate in what could be rather complex circumstances.

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Why is web design so expensive?

Man shocked at web design priceWe are occasionally asked by prospective web design clients why our pricing is so high.  Our quotes and proposals have been met with shock, suspicion and even anger.  Actually due to very careful management of workload, resources and overheads our prices compare very favourably with the industry average and invariably we come in lower than our competitors by a good margin.

So why do some prospective clients still gawp at our prices?  Actually I think there are a number of reasons:-

Firstly, there is a plethora of hobbyist or part-skilled “web designers” out there offering a basic website for less than £500.  We have even seen one local chap offering a free website if you purchased web hosting from him via his reseller shared hosting account.

Then there is mass hosting companies like vistaprint, mrsite, and 1and1 offering DIY website builders for little more than the price of basic shared website hosting.

To the average small business owner, visually there is little difference between a bespoke website built by a professional and any of the above offerings.  Okay a bespoke website might look a little neater and the spelling and grammar may be better but does that really justify the price difference?

Computer science is very complex and it’s what you can’t see at the back of the website that makes the difference.  Whilst the above offerings may look okay in your browser they will almost definitely break in less popular browsers or on mobile devices.  They may not be accessible to screen readers and other disability aids used by blind and disabled visitors.  They are not optimised for modern search engine algorithms.  In fact a lot of these websites can and will do more damage to your business and its reputation than good.

Taking Pixelbox as an example, an average small business website will take around 8 to 10 hours of design work, 10 to 15 hours of development work and 3 to 5 hours of testing and optimisation work.  30+ hours of at least two highly qualified and experienced professionals working on your project using the latest techniques.  Backed up with the knowledge that your new website is not just a collection of images and text on a web server but a finely tuned and researched business tool built to ensure it conveys your message to your target audience in a professional competent manner and scientifically optimised to get your business in front of the right people at the right time and achieve return on your investment.

Furthermore, a website built by a professionally qualified developer will be built using industry best practise and in compliance with international web standards which ensures your website works perfectly regardless of the browser or device and is completely accessible to disabled and blind users.

So there you have it, a lot more goes into creating a website that does what it’s supposed to do than most people realise and as the saying goes “You get what you pay for!”

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The psychology of colour use in web design and marketing

Why is Facebook blue?  Well actually in Facebook’s case the answer is very simple.  Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is red/green colourblind and so he chose blue as the richest colour he could see.

Colour does however play a much greater role in human reaction to websites, logos, adverts and calls to action.  So much so that some of the world’s biggest most successful brands have invested billions of pounds into researching the psychological reactions to different colours used in branding and marketing.

As a small business you may think that the things that are important to the big brands aren’t important to you or your customers, but you couldn’t be more wrong.  Your choice of colours in your branding, logo, website and advertising are just as important to your business success as they are to the big brands.  Possibly more so if your business isn’t a household name amongst your target audience.

Whilst it’s extremely important that your website is easy to find and use and your copy is easy to read and directs a visitor to take whatever positive action you want them to take, be that signup to your mailing list, ring for a quote or buy your products.  It is equally important that you carefully choose the right colours that create the desired stimuli in your potential customers.

It’s fairly obvious that your choice of colour will produce a stimulus in your visitors to emotionally decide if something is aesthetically pleasing to them or not, but did you know that people tend to react to something red in colour more quickly and with a sense or urgence? Or that blue and green stimulate a more calm and measured response?

White and black are sterile but they are also smart, sleek and modern.  Your choice of colours greatly affect how people view both your website and your business.

Picking your website or brand colour scheme is far more complex than simply picking your favourite colour.  Part of the design process will need to be the identification of appropriate colours that will elicit the reactions and responses you want from your customers and potential customers.

Using the wrong colours in your website and other marketing endeavours can actually produce the opposite of the results you are hoping for and can actually turn people off your website or brand.

Colours produce all kinds of different reactions and responses in people.  For instance red and orange produce feelings of excitement, urgence and energy.  Whilst blue produces an air of calm, relaxation, trust and confidence.

Choosing the right mix of colours will go a long way towards securing the success of your web marketing efforts.  Use the following chart to help you decide on an appropriate colour scheme for your business.

 

color-emotion-guide

 

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5 tips for improving your small business website

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A website is an essential part of any business nowadays.  But a bad website could be doing more damage than good to your business.  Here are 5 tips on improving your small business website and growing your business through internet marketing.

1. Invest in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

No matter how good your business, products or website are. It means nothing if you don’t show up in the major search engines when people search for keywords related to your products and services.

A good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) consultant will work on-page and off-page to improve your websites’ performance in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

However, Search Engine Optimisation is constantly evolving and the big Search Engines are getting ever more sophisticated in how they rank sites and the algorithms they actually use are a fiercely guarded commercial secret.  Accordingly, when choosing who you trust to optimise your website you need to carefully research their past successes.  Don’t be afraid to ask them to show you some of their previous work.  Look at their own website. How easy was it for you to find them when searching?

2. Invest in a professional revamp/redesign

Your website is your shop window to thousands of potential customers.  If it is untidy, out of date, difficult to navigate, poorly built or just ugly people will not even hang about to look at your products, services or prices.  It is widely accepted that on the web you have just seconds to impress a visitor to your website enough for them to stay and read your content.

Even then you are not guaranteed to convert them to customers.  Your website needs to be easy to navigate with all the information the visitor needs within easy reach.

Cheap web design may cost you much more than the price you pay to the “designer”.

3. Make your website interactive and interesting.

On today’s modern internet virtually everyone surfing the web has a fairly fast broadband connection and are browsing using a modern device.  Accordingly, the days of static black text on a white background are long gone.

To retain visitors and encourage return visits your website needs to be interesting.  Try adding videos, audio, image sliders, galleries, slide presentations, social network feeds, polls and of course a regularly updated blog.

Also provide your visitors with numerous ways to follow you and get in touch by including links to all of your social network pages and profiles.

4. Optimise your home page

As I mentioned earlier you have just seconds in which to persuade a visitor that your website is worth reading.  Make sure your home page has the wow factor and stands out from the crowd. Effective use of images and/or video help make visitors click into your page and interact.

5. Humanise your website.

You’ve heard the saying “people buy from people”.  This couldn’t be truer on the web. Tell your visitors about yourself.  Where you live, how you got into your current business, your favourite pass-times.  And try to write your website copy as if you were talking to your customer.

 

Pixelbox are a small Web Design, Development and Marketing studio based in West Lothian, Scotland.

We love helping our clients carve out successful sustainable businesses on the web.  If you’d like help or even just some advice on any of the above issues or anything else related to doing business on the web please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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Google Helpouts – exciting new development from Google+

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Google latest development is the Hangouts based Google Helpouts.  Google Helpouts is a one-to-one ecommerce enabled live assistance service that will allow tradesmen, educators and entrepreneurs to provide live one-to-one webinars for customers and set charges for this service.  Essentially creating an additional revenue stream for their business.

Google describes Helpouts as a way to allow professionals and experts to “share their knowledge with people who want to learn from them by giving a Helpout.”

The service is still in invite only closed beta at the moment but the website is live at https://helpouts.google.com/welcome. And Google have said that they are inviting thousands of experts from a wide variety of industries to test the new service.

According to the new services help pages experts can choose to list their helpout services under Home & Garden, Computers & Electronics, Health & Counseling, Nutrition & Fitness, Fashion & Beauty, Art & Music, Cooking, and Education.  Payments for these services will be handled by Google Wallet.

It looks very interesting and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye as Google Helpouts progress.

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