The assignment was really quite simple. I received a call from Nick and Martina Ayres asking if I could provide a quote for redesigning their existing company website. The current website had been put together by Nick himself using a free web template from a third-party page builder. Although coming with guarantees of a 'beautiful' and 'effective' website, the free templates that these platforms offer often lack the freedom and flexibility that a professional web designer can offer and Nick had found himself struggling with design issues and coming nowhere in the Google Search results. Like so many other users of free web templates, he found he had a website that no one visited on a regular basis. That afternoon I drove round to meet Nick and Martina at their base in Craigellachie. The quote I put together was based a 12-page 'responsive website'. I explained that modern users were no longer sitting at a desk-top PC or laptop to browse online, but regularly using smartphones and mobiles. This meant creating a website that would adapt, or 'flex' to any number of devices and any number of different screen sizes. It would no longer matter if the device was large or small as the contents of the page would flex to whatever screen dimensions it was. This was important because Google was now ranking 'responsive websites' significantly higher in search results. If Nick and Martina still wished to have a first-page listing in Google, then this would be more than advantageous. A first-page listing in Google also meant that a good deal of thought would need to go into optimizing the copy we produced and tweaking the relevant keywords and tags. A good ranking in Google means creating content that pleases Google and that includes fast-page load, a clear and relevant navigation system and definitely no 'keyword stuffing'. I also explained the concept of 'backlinking' and how it too featured in Google's very complex algorithm. There was several easy tasks they could complete themselves, and I am advised them on the best way to do these. There was another thing perhaps more critical than all the rest: Moray and the Highlands are sparsely populated areas. To generate a greater number of enquiries, Nick and Martina agreed that they would need to focus more on the major cities, and Aberdeen was clearly the largest.
The site was built in under a week and the copy was fully approved (and in certain parts revised) by a very diligent Nick and Martina. The end result is a slick but simple website that uses the minimum of gimmicks and is sharply focused throughout. Users needed to know quickly what this company did and why they should choose them above and beyond all their local competitors. Home security is a very competitive business and customers have big expectations in terms of the technology used and their relative affordability. It was also necessary to place a good deal of stress on the reliability of the outfit, and the outstanding professionalism and speed they could offer. Breaking the products and service down into their constituent parts was also a crucial ploy. Web users are pretty impatient and want to see what they are expecting within moments of arriving on the homepage.
After a few months settling into Google, the new website not only achieved a lucrative (and highly competitive) first-page listing at Google under 'Aberdeen Alarms', it went so far as being in the top two websites listed, greatly increasing both traffic to the site and customer enquiries.