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Web Hosting Locations & Why They Matter

May 11th, 2022 by

Website hosting allows you to create and maintain your website and domain. A server location is the geographical location of the data that creates your website. Servers are located all around the world, and do not have to be located within the area that you yourself are located.

Why Does Web Hosting Location Matter?

The location of your web hosting servers can impact many aspects of your website, including:

  • GDPR
  • Usability and website performance
  • Marketing costs
  • Search rankings

GDPR & Web Hosting Locations

Not all countries have to adhere to GDPR laws, therefore depending on where your web hosting is located, user data might be sold to third parties. Therefore, we recommend hosting your website within the UK – to ensure that it complies with GDPR laws.

Website Performance & Web Hosting Locations

When a user visits a website, the data has to be fetched from the servers. The further away the servers are located, the longer it takes for the website to be loaded. The longer it takes for a website to be loaded, the increased likelihood of a user bouncing off your website to visit a competitor. However, having web hosting located within the UK ensures that your website is responsive, which in turn builds trust with visitors and forms a positive business connection.

Costs & Web Hosting Location

Although web hosting itself might be cheaper in different countries, it might not be better. Apart from the other issues that we have discussed, having your website located within the UK can also decrease your marketing costs. Having good quality web hosting can make your website quicker – which in turn makes it more user friendly. And what does this mean? It means it ranks better in Google! Which in turn, results in you not needing to spend money on other marketing activities – such as ads.

Search Rankings & Web Hosting Location

Which brings us nicely to Google. Search engines like Google can tell where your servers are located, and use this information to rank search results. For example, if a user searches for something whilst being located in Birmingham, the results will show companies located within this area first. This helps visitors to find local results, but also means that more users = better rankings, helping with your overall website performance.

How to Find a UK Based Server Company?

Here at Ballyhoo, we have our own servers based right here in the UK. All of the websites that we manage and create are located on these servers, meaning that they are safe, secure, and promote quick website load speeds. Want to know more? Give us a call now on 0121 295 5352 for more information.

How to Choose a Web Design Company to Work With

April 20th, 2022 by

Your website is the first impression that consumers will form of you, and will also be the driving factor behind whether or not people choose to do business with you.

It’s essential that the website design company that you work with will help you reach your target audience and business goals.

Here are a few factors to consider when choosing a website design agency to work with.

Anthony and Alison with blue overlay and white text saying How to Choose a Web Design Agency

How to Choose a Web Design Company to Work With

Consider Your Goals and Requirements

Before searching for website design agencies, the first thing you will need to do is assess your goals and objectives. Every website is different – and the features that your website requires will be based on the goals that you want to achieve.

For example, if your goal is to make [X] amount of sales, you will need an e-commerce website. Alternatively, if you want to collect subscriptions, you’ll require membership and account functionality.

You will also need to evaluate the budget and deadlines that you have for your website. This will help you to gather quotes and see who has availability.

Search Nationwide or Local

Website design companies don’t have to be local to you – with the rise of technology and the likes of Zoom, you can hire a web agency from anywhere in the country. This allows you to have a bigger choice of agencies and doesn’t limit your choice to your local area – meaning you can find an agency that does exactly what you need.

Look at Reviews and Portfolio

When researching various agencies, it’s important to look at how long the agency has been running, and also if they have experience in your industry or the type of website that you want (e.g. brochure, e-commerce, membership functionality).

You can also look at an agency’s portfolio to assess skills and capabilities, as well as creativity and coding abilities. When reading portfolio or project items, it’s worth seeing if the agency mentions the outcomes or results of their work, to see how their work has impacted clients.

See the Ballyhoo portfolio

You should also look at the reviews that the agency has, and whether other companies would recommend working with them. You can do this by looking at their website, Google My Business reviews, or Facebook reviews.

Read our reviews

Consider Company Culture

Not only do you want to work with a company that treats their team well, you also want to work with people that will be easy to get along with and that will listen to your needs – and know what you want. Looking at a company’s culture will also give you an insight into how your project will be managed, their personality and working style.

This research can be done by checking out their website, and also social media (and tone of voice that they use on these platforms). You may also want to see if they have any involvement in their local community, if this is important to you.

Look at Industry Experience

It’s good to work with a company that has worked in a multitude of industries, including the industry that you are in. This shows that they are more likely to create unique websites, as well as have experience with a business like yours.

Look at Industry Knowledge

Good website design agencies should be keeping up with modern design trends, and they need to be familiar with the latest technology. They should use a mix of modern trends and features/tools that work (and are backed up by evidence). You can get a good feel for how well they know the latest trends by looking at the web agency website and also their blog and news articles.

Digital Marketing

Once your website is live, do you have any plans for digital marketing, to drive visitors and potential customers to your site? If not, you may need some digital marketing help. A large number of website agencies also offer digital marketing services, so it’s worth seeing if they offer these too. What’s more, a digital agency that encompasses both web design and marketing may have more knowledge than that of a web design agency alone.

Give Them a Call

The best way to get a feel for a website design agency is by talking to them directly over the phone. This will allow you to get a feel for the culture and personality of the brand and those that you may be working with, as well as being able to check that they know what they’re talking about. It’s also good to see how respectful they are to your ideas and ensure that they listen to you, whilst also coming up with their own ideas and inputs.

Choosing a website design agency can be time consuming, but it will be worth it when you have a website that you are proud of.

Here at Ballyhoo, we know what it takes to be a successful website design agency, with a dedicated team of experts and over14 years’ experience. We create bespoke websites that are unique to every client – with your needs at the forefront of everything that we do. If you’re looking for a website design agency, or want to see how we can help you, give us a call or drop us an email now to find out how we can help you.

The Ultimate Guide to Embedding Video on Your Website

February 23rd, 2022 by

A common question that we get asked is ‘what’s the best way to add videos to our website?’. 

Video is a key part of content marketing, and we now know just how powerful it is. Adding video to your website will add value for your website visitors, as it can enhance the user experience and keep users on your website for longer.

However, video brings new challenges – large file formats can play havoc with website load times, which is something every business should steer clear from.

So, what is the best way to add videos to your website? Below we discuss a few options.

WordPress blog with screen showing the video options for embedding video on your website, showing YouTube and Vimeo options

Hosting Direct on Your Website

Whether your website is hosted on WordPress, Shopify, Wix or another platform, you will have the option to upload videos directly to your website.

Advantages

Uploading your video directly to your website allows you to have it hosted within your website files (or Media Library if you use WordPress), and allows you to then input it straight to any website pages of your choice.

Disadvantages

However, this can be problematic as these videos (large files) will take up disk space, and more importantly, can use up a lot of bandwidth if many users choose to stream the videos. In turn, this makes your website speed slower, resulting in visitors bouncing and going elsewhere. Plus, Google takes your website load speed into consideration when ranking, so it’s always best to keep your website as quick as possible. 

Additionally, your hosting may not be optimised for video streaming and therefore the video may not stream very well, resulting in the video loading slower and also causing buffering. However, advanced third party platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo can identify your connection speed and automatically stream your video at a suitable quality to avoid buffering issues.

YouTube

YouTube is the biggest online video sharing and social media platform, and is owned by Google. It allows users to watch, like, share, comment and upload their own videos, on a variety of devices.

Advantages

One major benefit of hosting your videos on YouTube is that the platform is a search engine in itself, meaning it can be really beneficial to have a presence there with high quality videos. What’s more, you can easily embed your YouTube video by copying the ‘embed’ code from the video, and copying on to your website page.

Disadvantages

However, you don’t get any control of the player, therefore when videos are embedded on websites, the player will pick videos that it thinks is most likely to drive more views to show once your video finishes. This often results in competitor videos being shown.

Vimeo

Vimeo is a video hosting, sharing, and services platform, and includes features such as live-streaming and customisation.

Advantages

Vimeo allows you to upload videos to the platform, giving you controls on where the video can be viewed – e.g. whether it should be searchable on the Vimeo site itself, whether it can be embedded in any website or just one specific site etc.

Disadvantages

Although Vimeo offers a Basic account, depending on the settings that you need, you may need to sign up to the paid plan. However, starting from £6 a month, this is a small price to pay to have your high quality videos hosted externally to then use on your website to boost conversions and sales.

A Final Word

Overall, we suggest using Vimeo to host your videos. This safe and secure website allows you to then embed your content in your website, without taking up any disk or hosting space on your own servers.

Need help creating a website that displays and optimises your content? Get in touch now to see how we can create a successful website for your business.

Website Disaster Recovery Project

January 19th, 2022 by

We were recently contacted by a company in the financial services industry, as their website had been hacked. We worked with them to convert their website to WordPress, mirroring their existing website design, to allow the business to continue to operate online. 

The Problem

The large-scale financial company we assisted was running a website with either a proprietary content management system or they had a website which was not being maintained properly; either way, this led them to be hacked and experience a data breach. 

To tackle this, they quickly created a static version of the website (a “scrape”), to prevent it from being hacked and to ensure that customers could still find their company online. However, this meant that admins could no longer make any website or content changes, which they especially needed to do in order to conform with legal obligations in their industry.

Project Overview 

Upon being contacted we established what the client needed from their website going forward and recommended a course of action. We then implemented our Disaster Recovery service, where we created a lean, custom WordPress template that mirrored their current site exactly. Once the custom WordPress template was built, we migrated their content from their existing site to their new WordPress website. 

This meant that the website was not only visible to customers, but that admins could make content changes as and when needed. 

Re-brand & Content Changes 

We also took this opportunity to carry out a light rebrand, adding the client’s new logo to the new website, and swapping the colourways of the website to match this new identity for brand consistency. We also made the urgent content amendments that were required on behalf of the client. 

Ongoing Support

We now provide the client with our WordPress Management Service, an SLA where we monitor their website for any concerning security signs, and are alerted when a WordPress core or plugin update becomes available. We can then promptly and manually carry out the update and run a series of tests to ensure the site is running smoothly, thus allowing us to keep the website updated and protecting it from security breaches. 

We also provide website hosting for the client which provides another level of security and peace of mind due to our secure infrastructure and monitoring capabilities.. 

Disaster Recovery Services 

If you are in need of Disaster Recovery Services, get in touch with us now and we can help.

Sustainable Web Design and Climate Change

December 20th, 2021 by

We are all aware of the current climate crisis, and the changes that we can make to help the planet. But did you know that website design can have an impact on climate change?

Whilst cutting down on printing and paper has made a positive impact on the environment, going digital isn’t all good.

Creating, storing and consuming digital content is resource intensive, and the carbon footprint on the internet is often overlooked.

Don’t believe us? In 2018, Netflix usage accounted for over 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide globally. This is the same amount that the whole of Spain emits in one year.¹

Internet Usage & Climate Change

Internet usage has risen dramatically over the last two years (thanks, COVID), but the majority of people are not aware that internet activities have an environmental cost.

Large amounts of energy are required to store digital content, and all have a carbon footprint. Including:

  • Transferring content from servers
  • Using wifi in homes and offices
  • Computer and screen use

Although individually, these activities produce small amounts of carbon, the number of people using the internet is huge – 54% of the global population – meaning all of that carbon adds up.

How to Reduce Your Website’s Carbon Footprint

Website Hosting

We’ve talked about why the location of your website hosting is important, but this also has an impact on your website’s carbon footprint. The further away your server is located, the longer it takes for the data to travel in order for your website to be loaded – which takes a large amount of energy.

Remove Unused Images and Content

You should be regularly checking the content of your website, and this is also a great opportunity to delete any pages or images that no longer serve a purpose. For example, you may have uploaded multiple similar images to see which one works best. The images that you do not need should be deleted to reduce storage consumption

Caching

If your website uses a CMS, each page has to be generated dynamically every time a user visits the page. This requires server processing for every page view – which increases the energy consumption of the web server. You can use caching technologies to pre-generate static versions of each page, which will reduce the server energy consumption.

Font Files

Minimize the use of custom fonts. Fonts can add significant file weight to websites. Therefore, it is recommended that you use system fonts – as they are already loaded on a users device – compared to custom fonts which are not.

However, if you have the itch to use custom fonts, try to minimise the amount of font variations that you use – such as using less font weights for each typeface.

Use Clean Code & Minify Code

When developing your website, try to streamline the code as much as possible. Not only will this mean that less code needs to be stored – but it also makes it easier when you come back and edit it in the future. You can also minify code to reduce file sizes by removing unused code.

Optimise Images

Images are one of the largest contributors to the amount of data transferred on most websites. You should always upload images at the correct size instead of relying on CSS to resize them.

Video Autoplay

Don’t set videos to autoplay – instead let users choose to watch those of interest to them. This means that the videos won’t need to be uploaded in the background, thus saving energy (and it might also make your website quicker – bonus!).

Making these changes not only helps the environment. By doing the above, you are also making your website more user friendly, more accessible, and ultimately more likely to appear higher up in the SERPs as it is more SEO friendly and likely to be ranked highly by Google.

¹ The Shift Project

What Role Does a Website Play in Digital Marketing?

October 12th, 2021 by

Websites are a vital component in every marketing strategy and plan, for both B2C and B2B. 

Your website is the key to a successful digital marketing strategy, as your marketing activities direct users to your website, with the aim to convert users into customers. 

If your website landing page doesn’t convert, you may end up spending lots of money on marketing activities that won’t work. 

Why You Need a Good Website 

A website is a representation of your business, and it is an opportunity to communicate your business offerings to your target audience and potential customers. 

Websites play an important role in: 

  • Supporting your brand 
  • Generating leads 
  • Nurturing existing customers 
  • Delivering content and value 
  • Communicating to customers 
  • Assisting sales 

It is important that your website is designed well and is easy for users to navigate. A study from Adobe found that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if they find the content and layout unattractive.  

A Website’s Role in Digital Marketing

Websites play an important role in Digital Marketing. All marketing activities are techniques to bring potential customers to your website – to get information about products and services, make a booking or purchase, or to get contact details and contact your business. People visualise your business based on the website –  poor or outdated websites can affect your business badly. 

Social Media & Reviews 

Consumers will often look at reviews before buying, searching for competition in all areas. These reviews should also be shared on your social media platforms. 

Email Marketing 

A website is also key for email marketing. When you send out email newsletters to customers, you can include important information and blog posts that users may find important – and then direct this traffic to your website. 

You can also send special discount codes and offers, which customers can use against products or services on your website. 

Interacting with Customers 

If you are sending marketing users to your website, you will want to ensure that they take action on your website. If they become lost or don’t take action, it may result in them going elsewhere. This is why it is a good idea to have options on your website for users to interact with you – such as a live chat functionality or help article section.  This allows potential customers to get a quick response, helping to build a relationship. 

Location Visible  

Whether you want your business to be found from all over the world or just in the local area, digital marketing is a vital tool in achieving this. Using location specific keywords in your content and website can help increase your discoverability, and help users to find you. What’s more, if you have more than one branch or shop, you can host them all on your website for users to find easily, and send location specific marketing campaigns to these pages. 

Conclusion 

When looking at and reviewing your website, you need to keep in mind your marketing goals. Are they to convert people on the product page? Or to educate and give value to users? This will help you to ensure your website is designed for what you need. 

Not sure if your website is performing as it should? Contact us now for a free consultation and we can review your website with you.