A Website Is Essential for Education Providers .. Especially FE Colleges. But Often a Web Design Company Tie You to Them And You Don’t Realise Until It Is Too Late
This is how it works. Some web companies quote and tell you that you will have full control over the website once it is launched. But over the last few years, we’ve seen too many instances where that wasn’t true. Let me show you how a Web Design Company Can Tie You to them.
Many college sites pull in course info from the MIS system. It’s often a problem syncing the two together and the web design company will use a piece of software to do this. Often it isn’t until part way through the design process that they tell you about the need to use it. And they will blame your MIS system.
And because you are working to a deadline its easy to believe they have a solution and go down that road.
The problem comes when you want to take over full control of the website. The bit of software that links your MIS and website belongs to the web company. They insist you need to pay them a maintenance fee to keep the syncing running. And that’s how they stay in control of everything. In the worse cases, the company will then discover new problems when you want to upgrade plugins etc. The plugin will clash with their piece of software and you will need to pay them to modify it!
How Else Does a Web Design Company Tie You to Them?
Another trick unscrupulous web designers do is to quote for hosting the site. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. But we’ve seen one case recently where the bill for hosting was £10k for a three years contract. When we looked at the external host they were using we found a huge discrepancy. The hosting company were charging £250 a year. The extra £9250 over three years was the admin fee the company were trying to charge.
There are a great number of really good web designers available to colleges. Not all are of dubious reputation. The problem is working out which ones are straight and which ones are out to rip you off.
At times like this, it pays to use an external consultant to advise on what to look for. After years of working with straight designers, and finding far too many that aren’t straight, we are happy to advise any college.
Chatlines and Chatbots Can Provide Data Capable of Being Used to Improve Website Design
We all plan for our website to be perfect. But perfection is hard to attain and the best we can often hope for is a high quality site that answers all the questions we expect out target audience to ask.
But sadly we often miss essential questions. Especially those seasonal questions that come through by phone or chatline, but otherwise get missed.
How Questions Improve Website Design
If you take all the questions you are asked in a week or month (download them from your chatbot into a spreadsheet is a good idea). Then analyse them you will see certain trends developing. Continue reading →
Bot Advantage: Bots Often Confer Advantages Beyond The Obvious; Provided You Are Smart
Sometimes the advantage a bot can provide isn’t totally obvious. But here is an example of where a website shopping cart problem was spotted well before it would have otherwise been seen. Continue reading →
Bots Can Be Used Wherever You Have a Digital Presence. That Not Only Includes on Social Media such as Facebook; but also on Websites, in CRM Systems, Chatlines and even Telephone Systems. So anyone can use a bot.
Meet Magician Bot, He’s Wearing His Ceremonial Robes To Greet You
Our Customers Wanted a Magician to Wave a Wand & Produce Qualified Leads and Decrease the Admin Overload and Cost
So We Harnessed The Magic World of Bots. And The Power of Artificial Intelligence & Natural Language Sequencing to Qualify More Leads in Less Time and at Lower Cost on Websites, Social Media …. Even on Facebook. Continue reading →
Chatbots carry out repetitive admin tasks 24/7 .. they don’t just work in factories
Chatbots or bots are an automated or semi-automated software tools that can carry out repetitive and mundane tasks 24/7. They are usually used as a communications tool.
Bots are very common and can undertake admin tasks such as answering emails. Other examples you will undoubtedly come across include the Googlebot. Google uses Googlebot to index the huge volumes of new content being uploaded to the web every second. Its a repetitive admin task that’s been automated with a bot. Continue reading →
Can Anyone Guarantee Getting You On Page One of Google?
That’s the question that James asked me. He asked having heard a SEO company were making such a guarantee and he wanted my view on whether this was a credible situation. So Can Anyone Guarantee Page One of Google?
The answer is if you give me £1000 I will guarantee you a position on Page One of Google within the hour. But I have to say this is a poor offer as all I’ll do is write a Google Adwords ad and make my bid higher than anyone else. Continue reading →
We read a lot about SEO and ensuring that we use the right keywords in our content to ensure we come high up on the Search Engine Results Pages. But to do this, and get highly ranked, we need to know what the online searcher intent is.
Are they just merely curious, doing actual research, want to buy, want to recommend to a friend or something altogether different? People’s intentions are not always obvious, so, when writing content, we need to make some assumptions if our webpage is to match their actual needs. Continue reading →
Websites Cost a Lot of Money, So Correctly Briefing Your Website Designer is Vital if You Want Value for Money from Your Designer
How to Brief a Website Designer
Over the last ten years I’ve specified a lot of education websites. I’ve also reviewed a lot of website specs drawn up by providers. So How to Brief a Website Designer is now second nature to me; but lots of people struggle with it. Specifying the website is key to getting your site right, but it needs detailed and concise specification.
A lot of good web designers tell me that too many clients haven’t much idea what they want in a website except it should be a “good site” or a site like one of their competitors.
No designer can give you value for money with such an imprecise specification. The good ones will probe for detail but the unethical designers (and there are a lot of them out there) will rip you off by fulfilling your imprecise instructions at high cost (then blame you for not briefing them properly).
Website Specification Detail
In the last few years I’ve specified many websites and my experience is that a specification needs to be at least 30-40 pages in length to be detailed enough to provide a designer with sufficient information. And I don’t mean a document full of screengrabs of sites that are liked or disliked; I mean hard facts.
It is necessary to specify your customer profiles, the products and/or services you wish to offer, the Calls to Action you require to be followed and the apps, plugins and functions you wish to provide. In most cases it is the function we wish to provide e.g. an appointment booking system, rather than the actual app or plugin to be used as the designer should have a more up to date knowledge of these and how they will interface with other systems and functions. Continue reading →
Colleges and Universities mainly use the .ac.uk domain names reserved exclusively for them. But they can also use other domains (urls) at their description and other training providers frequently prefer to use .co.uk or .com addresses for their websites and emails.
But what if the domain you want isn’t available? Well, you might still be able to pick it up. Some addresses aren’t used, people just buy them with a view to sell them. They cybersquat on them. Agencies that do this will offer urls at exorbitant fees. Think carefully before paying them. How much are they really worth?
Some addresses have been used but are going to expire for various reasons. It might be the businesses has ceased trading or changed business direction. In that case you can buy them once they are available.
When customers, prospective students or employers look for answers to their problems, want to discover new things, or have to make decisions, they often go online for help. Google calls these times micro-moments.
We need to recognise that our customers are doing this on a wide range of devices when they go to your website or app, and ….. increasingly ….. they’re happening on YouTube.
So providers need a strategy to engage with searchers at this time; the time when they want help and advice.
As Principal I employed very few consultants but did employ Stefan on the basis of a clear ROI.
I would recommend him to any college, university, business or Government agency as a reliable consultant who will become indispensable.
Ioan Morgan CBE Latterly FE College Principal & CEO
He certainly does what he says on the tin...... I've worked with Stefan for many years and he has an uncanny knack of cutting through the ****, focussing on the essentials and coming up with creative and inexpensive marketing ideas that work.
Stefan isn't called the 'Marketing Magician' for nothing you know !
His ability to see marketing solutions that really work is second to none, without spending a fortune.
I think Stefan's great strength is taking problems and solving them, in a clear and positive way, without a whole lot of jargon.
I recently had the pleasure on working with Stefan on publishing a new marketing book. "Creating Business Growth" quickly became a Bestseller in several countries around the world. This project came together and was guided from concept to successful completion by a true leader. That leader is Stefan Drew. Stefan is an experienced marketer and I highly recommend him.
Stefan is very thorough in his research and understanding of a clients requirements. He has a proven record of delivering comprehensive strategic marketing plans that address education / FE issues critical to the ongoing success of a ...MoreStefan is very thorough in his research and understanding of a clients requirements. He has a proven record of delivering comprehensive strategic marketing plans that address education / FE issues critical to the ongoing success of a college. I would recommend considering Stefan for any project that involves strategic planning, communication or digital marketing.
I have worked with Stefan and have learnt a lot from him. He has extensive knowledge in digital marketing and he is keen to share his passion for the kind of deep audience insights that digital marketing can offer. ...MoreI have worked with Stefan and have learnt a lot from him. He has extensive knowledge in digital marketing and he is keen to share his passion for the kind of deep audience insights that digital marketing can offer.
His enthusiasm for marketing is infectious and he is a joy to work with.
Stefan is very thorough in his research and understanding of a clients requirements. He has a proven record of delivering comprehensive strategic marketing plans that address education / FE issues critical to the ongoing success of a ...More
I have worked with Stefan and have learnt a lot from him. He has extensive knowledge in digital marketing and he is keen to share his passion for the kind of deep audience insights that digital marketing can offer. ...More
Stefan has a brilliant insight into the world of FE Marketing! I love discussing new marketing ideas with Stefan and value his professional opinion on efficient systems, processes and strategy.