HdK Associates explore how to improve your website with a range of tips and tools. With: Hans de Kretser, Director; Raffaele Malanga, Creative Director; Nick Hart, Project Manager and Sebastian Cater, Head of UK Theatre & Workforce Development.
Nick, Raf and Hans from HdK Associates will take you through ten typical problems that affect websites over time. They will give you easy-to-follow processes and online tools you can use straight away. Also, the team will be there to answer specific questions you may have about your own website, and share any suggestions that come from the participants. They’ll look at topics like what happens when your navigation loses the focus it once had, issues with images that can slow your website down, making sure your call-to-actions are still on point and checking you’re reaching your target audience.
This webinar is aimed at anyone who is involved in managing a website, with or without a technical understanding.
- A better understanding of what makes a good, user-friendly website
- Free (and nearly free) tools to help improve your website management immediately
- A step by step process you can adopt to improve your website
- Ways to track effectiveness of the improvements you make
Please see below some of the questions that came up during the webinar session and the responses from the panel:
What are the best ways to design for a phone?
There are many different principles, but here’s a quick rundown:
- We recommend one column of content
- Around 30-40 characters per line. This improves readability, which Raf discusses in detail during the webinar
- Any buttons or navigation links need to have enough padding around them to account for large thumbs
- Don’t be afraid of a scroll. We scroll all day, everyday – there’s no need to cram everything at the top
Will you have some tips for Joomla?
HdK specialises in WordPress websites as we feel it’s a platform that is best suited to the budgets of our clients. It’s also the most popular CMS available and can do everything they need. There are cases to be made for Joomla and Drupal, but we’re big fans of WordPress.
How do you build in flexible website navigation structures that allow for a growing portfolio of projects?
You ideally want a ‘listing page’ – also known as an archive or index page – that collates your portfolios in one place. Each portfolio will have a thumbnail, title, mini-description etc. The page can also be filterable, allowing visitors to choose which type of portfolio projects they’d like to view. On our own website, you’ll see that we’ve added such a filter: https://wearehdk.com/projects/. Then, you can make the homepage pull through the latest projects. Our take-home tips for this question are: consider how to categorise your projects, and bear in mind that each project will need a thumbnail.
How to best integrate Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Integrating social media platforms is becoming harder and harder. Yes, you can embed social media feeds, but it’s quite difficult to redesign them to match your website. This is because websites like Facebook and Twitter want users to stay with them – not go to you. But you can still embed their feeds if you use their own widgets. Otherwise, the subtle embed of a tweet in the middle of an article is brilliant for reminding visitors that you’re on social media.
How do I build a portfolio website if, as a theatre designer, I work across two (or more) specialisations – in my case lighting and video – design/animation/illustration?
This is where content strategy comes into play. You could use glooMaps to map out two different user journeys on your website – one for lighting design and one for video design. When the visitor arrives on the website, they could be prompted to pick either of the two routes. Those looking for a lighting portfolio will be taken to a lighting section, but with awareness that you’re also a video designer, and vice versa.
How to generate traffic consistently and stimulus for new content out of production?
This is a big question and there are lots of strategies you can put in place which will differ from website to website. Being clear on your goals, setting targets, regularly tracking what works and what doesn’t work and building on your successes is the general principle. Testing out new ideas on a regular basis can help to keep your content fresh and asking for feedback from your content consumers can give you confidence in your approach. In terms of new content out of production, have a planning session where you think of all the different topics you can create content around and make schedules and plans for delivering that content. Use a variety of techniques and platforms such as blogs, vlogs, and podcasts.
I used to manage a website in my previous job at an NPO, but now I am freelancing and studying an MA, and would like to build a new website. I’d be interested to find out if there are ways audiences can interact with my website – including a page for discussions/blog posts/ uploads etc. And I’m just overall interested in building a good effective website.
We always recommend that discussions take place on social media. It’s a more natural home and can gain greater traffic, which will then funnel through to your website. But, if you want to hold discussions on your website, we recommend using a blogging platform that has comments built in. WordPress is particularly good for this.
What should the maximum size of an image be?
There isn’t a common rule as this depends on specific cases, but usually large images should be between 500kb and 1MB in file size.
Am enjoying and finding the tips useful…Just wondering if any specific tips when you are using a free website host e.g. weebly when there are limitations on what you can do.
This is a valid point. Where you have hosting limitations, you really need to focus on the quality of your content. At the end of the day, good website design is design that supports and lifts your content. And then in the future, perhaps think about investing in a basic web hosting package. It’s a worthwhile business expense that can have big returns. Some website hosts allow you to pay monthly, with no contract, so you can cancel any time. If your website host doesn’t have metadata editing capabilities, but does allow you to edit the source of the website (the code underneath), you might be able to manually add your metadata. There are lots of tutorials on how to do this on YouTube.
This is all extremely useful, thank you. May I ask what’s the name of the website host you’re currently using for the HdK website?
At HdK we have our own servers to manage our clients’ websites. We find this is the best way to ensure a high quality of service and speed to which we can respond to issues. When looking for a website host, experience has taught us to avoid some of the big companies where you get a very impersonally and unresponsive service. Can they talk to you about technical matters in plain english?
I want to update our website and use a slightly different domain name (think dropping a part of the charity title) Is it a case of making sure all the metadata is the same as our old site in order to stay at the top of google searches in the same way?
This is a good question, and something we’ve helped lots of clients with. The first step is to make sure redirects are in place for all links on the old domain. It takes a while for a domain to be struck from search results – Google might still be sharing your old domain, so you need to make sure it forwards to your new domain. Missing redirects have a negative impact on SEO. With the metadata, it’s not so much an issue. As long as the metadata accurately reflects the content of your website, all should be okay.
Do you suggest adding a feedback section (comments etc) to eg your shows pages, or is it better to leave that to social media?
We feel social media is the more natural home for discussions.