Redback Studios


Opening the lid on the web design industry…


Hello %%First Name %%

I’ve been involved in the IT business in one way or another, since the commercial restriction on internet use was lifted in 1991 and modems started to become a must have sale item to the public. I remember wanting to burn a video file to a CD (which cost $1,700 then, now you can get one for just $20) and so I rang the CD Burning manufacturer to ask how?. Their reply was, “when you work out how, can you let us know?”

Today the internet is a major part of everyone’s life and we are all constantly learning how to utilise the internet to enhance our businesses and our lives. Unfortunately the internet industry still uses a bit of ‘smoke and mirrors’. Some of it is simply because of that’s the way it's always been done, sometimes it is laziness, sometimes ignorance and sometimes it can be bordering on unscrupulous.

So today’s article is about some things that your web designer may not want you to know or be aware of, but they are ALL surprisingly common and very relevant to EVERY online business today.
Below are 3 main topics that you should be aware of.

You might have been robbed blind and don’t even know it!

I’m always surprised how many business owners don’t know where their domain Registry Key is. Some don’t even know WHAT it is.

It’s the key that controls your Domain Name - meaning you whole online business.

What’s worse is that your web designer or hosting company may actually (legally) owns your domain, not you!

This is a HUGE risk that most SME business owners are oblivious to.

If you think for a second this is sensationalistic, you haven’t heard of the multi-million dollar lawsuits of large corporations who have been swindled over the years. Plus I can give you many examples from over the years from my own experience in helping clients.

What’s alarming is that, at any time, without notice, your business website could be taken down, closed or changed with the domain moved/pointed to any other website. In some cases, that can affect your emails other online information.

What should you do about it?

First, if your domain name ends in .com.au go to http://whois.melbourneit.com.au and type in your domain. Make sure ALL the registrar details are ALL in YOUR name, especially the email addresses. If the registrar also tells you to check whois.ausregistry.net.au, then do!  And check that ALL the registrar details there are correct.

Second, if your domain name ends in a .com, check your .com details by going to http://www.whois.com and do the same thing, check that ALL the registrar details are yours, especially the email addresses.

Third, if you don’t have a .com.au domain name, buy one ASAP so you are seen as an Australian Business from a marketing, branding and positioning perspective. You can re-direct the .com domain to your .com.au or vice versa. (This is beyond today’s email, but helpful for local search considerations).

Building A New Site, Could Cripple Your Online Business.

This is one of my pet peeves because it involves either an ignorant or lazy designer taking advantage of you.

You can’t afford to jump into a brand new site without asking your web designer about the effects on your search engine rankings. There are several popular web languages used to build web sites, the most popular being HTML, PHP and ASP.

The reason this is important is because if you currently have an HTML based website, Google has indexed your pages (for example) as ‘/contact-us.html’. So if you now get a site made in PHP (for example), the supposedly same page would have the following syntax: like ‘/inde.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=5’.

So the old site pages indexed in Google will simply ‘error out’ and your rankings will plummet because the information previously available is (1) no longer available and (2) the new information is well, new and needs to take the ride up the rankings as the indexing takes place. That means you more or less start from scratch.

I’ve seen extreme situations where years and thousands of dollars of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts were destroyed to the detriment of an unsuspecting business owner.

What should you do about it?

Get educated and informed. Then talk to you web designer or company to understand the pros and cons and ask what solutions they offer for this (an other technical requirements discussed here). There are many ways to account for this and not lose your all-important long-standing rankings.

The solution is well beyond today’s email, but what I can tell you the onus is on you to be aware of the risks BEFORE you start designing a new website.

 

Avoid “IT entrapment” at all costs or you’ll pay the ultimate price

These days, we all want the capability to edit our own websites for those quick edits and updates to information about our products and/or services. The technology that manages online publishing on your website is called a CMS or Content Management System. 

Access to your CMS is valuable for 99% of SMEs, even if it is only the occasional edit, since doing these yourself often results in faster updates and keeps you in-the-loop as you develop your own ‘webmaster skills’.

Some web design companies charge up to $120/hour for CMS updates which means a typo (that they introduced in your copy) could cost YOU $30 to fix!

Many web design companies have a business model based on making money FROM you – not FOR you. So get yourself informed to make educated decisions and keep your web design company on the straight and narrow.

One of the ways they make sure you are tied to them is by customising a CMS in such a complicated and convoluted way that only they can figure out how it’s all put together. That’s a kind of entrapment and you must avoid it at all costs.

What should you do about it?

Avoid a web designer ‘created or customised’ CMS:

The problem is that every web designer has his/her own way of doing things including writing code, which is often difficult for other designers to understand and easily edit.  (Have you noticed nearly all web designers ‘bag’ each other's code.)

So if your web design company makes a customised CMS just for you, chances are that if your need to change web designers at some stage, whether they close or you have a falling out, the new company will most likely want to re-write the site or make huge edits, (after of course first bagging the existing code!) And if you let them create their own new (of course improved and better) CMS, the vicious circles continues.

Most people find the huge expense and inconvenience off-putting and reluctantly stay where they are – that’s why it’s called entrapment!

The best solution is to use the most popular Open Source systems, meaning it’s not owned by anyone and written in a standard code that most web designers can edit if you need anything customised. Although these systems are free, you still need to pay for a design, setup and any specific customisation you want.

By choosing one of the big players, such as Joomla.com, you have a solid foundation for a website that can grow with you, is comprehensive and yet easy enough for you to use without expensive (external) technical resources.

There are plenty of other systems that can function as a CMS including WordPress, so do a little research to see what best meets your current and future requirements.

You can use a ‘hosting company CMS:

Most web hosting companies today offer a free CMS to build your own website, with no web designer intervention needed. These are simple ‘click and drag’ solutions that are great for a small business with limited requirements.

The main drawback is that with most of these FREE CMS, when you want to change hosting companies, you can’t easily take your site with you, as it is unique code, for that particular CMS. That means when you do want to move,

  1. You have to start your website from scratch again and if you have been building it for a while, this can be quite a huge task. This is getting easier to do, but further explanations are beyond today’s email.
  2. If the new system is using a different platform/code, you could loose your Google rankings as mentioned above.

 

I hope you found today's topics useful.

If you have any topics you would like me to address in these newsletters, or have further questions on this topic or anything else, please don't hesitate to contact me on support@redbackstudios.com.au or Reply to this mailing.

Warm regards

Laurence

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Redback Studios recently upgraded our Wine IP website; www.wineip.com.au and it has a very smart look and is simple and easy to navigate. The process for us as a business was easy and Laurence extremely helpful and understood what we were seeking; which reduced the costs in time and money. Redback also hosts our website and have been able to help us with technical problems that have arisen outside their responsibility. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Redback to design, develop and maintain your website presence.

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