Looking After Your Business During The COVID-19 Coronavirus Crisis

Looking After Your Business During The COVID-19 Coronavirus Crisis

Today, in this current crisis we find ourselves in, your employees’, clients’ and the community’s wellbeing is of the utmost importance, nothing is more paramount. Nevertheless, many businesses are still running be it at a much-reduced rate or for those key businesses, at normal capacity or beyond, life does go on. The COVID-19 Coronavirus has had devastating effects on an international scale, with almost every country having now reported cases of the virus, bringing a vast number of businesses to a standstill.

Here at Acethespace Design, we are still putting in every effort to support our clients, albeit from isolation, but like most, we have also felt huge impacts on our ability to continue in the current situation. If you do have any worries or questions we are here for you to reach out to, you can call us on 0116 212 3597 or get in touch here. The hardest-hit industries include restaurants, bars, travel, hotels and other small businesses in general. This may be a tough time for us all, but together we can work through this crisis and come out at the other side. But in this period of slowdown, there are plenty businesses can look at to ensure they come back stronger than ever. SEO At times like this, it’s crucial to remember that SEO takes times. By focussing your spare time during this period on optimising your online presence, you can expect to reap boosts in your business numbers later on in this year once things start to get back on track. With so many businesses shutting up shop temporarily at this time, it leaves them time to crack on with building their online presence too, so it’s something to consider ensuring your businesses isn’t left behind once we get back to normal. Keep clients and employees up to date You may be in a state of lockdown, but it’s so important to keep clients, customer and employees in the know. They need to know what’s going on, the steps you are taking, but above all, show them that you care – wish them good health and be sure to put safeguards in place for these unprecedented times. A great way to do this is using a blog or dedicated page on your website giving updates as and when they are needed, this will also help your online efforts for search ranking by keeping content relevant whilst keeping your connection with customers strong. Don’t have a blog or staff area to your website? These can be vital tools in times like these, so maybe it’s time to consider getting something put in place, get in touch to find out how we can help. Looking at your website So, you’re now working from home, well, it’s the ideal time for all things content. Auditing your website’s content is a lengthy task that can be a real challenge in a bustling office – but now you’ve got hours and hours of serene quiet, perfect for getting stuck in. Or, perhaps it’s come time to get your website revamped to help you bounce back from this crisis with a fresh, refined look by getting yourself a brand-new website while traffic is at a low. Stay positive This is all unprecedented and uncertain in how it is going to affect us both now and in the long run. If you are worried about how COVID-19 is going to affect your business, we advise you to check out the Government’s website for all the latest information and schemes being put in place to protect British businesses. Should you find yourself in a position of looking to use this period of downtime to overhaul any facet of your business be it your website, branding or anything else, get in touch with the team who are on hand to help you achieve greatness.

Tell-tale signs of when to rebrand your business

Tell-tale signs of when to rebrand your business

Have you ever had that feeling when your clothes which were once comfortable are now starting to feel a little snug? Or perhaps the feeling when you’re looking in a mirror and are tired of your hairstyle? It’s the same with brands.

As times change, you may find that your brand is looking like a relic of days gone by, or maybe just what your brand symbolised in the early day when you were a small startup now don’t reflect the value and character of your more established venture; no brand will ever remain unchanged, eventually, a redefinition becomes due.

Rebranding can open up so many more doors, the value of it as a long-term investment is borne out by brand metrics. It can do so much, be it separating you from the crowd, instil your marketing efforts with more vigour and relevance, reach whole new audiences, and what’s more, it may even allow you to charge more for your products and services.

Knowing when you require a rebrand can be tricky. All too often the typical red flags can get missed especially when you’ve got a tight ship to run and work never seems to let up, and even when you do spot them, initiating any form of plan of action to embark on a rebrand can be daunting and be left on a to-do list in your drawer. So, how do you know when’s the right time to reach out to a design agency?

 

This compiled list of 12 indicative signs to look out for, so you know when its time for your brand to hit update.

1: Your brand name has lost its relevance to your brand vision

Brands evolve. The name may have been great 10 years ago, but today it’s not a true representation of what your brand is all about. It may well be a change in cultural context which changes the meaning of your brand name or perhaps the name has simply outgrown its welcome. There are countless reasons, but you shouldn’t let your brand name drag your brand down and stunt progress.

2: You feel embarrassed handing out business cards or web address

This is a pretty common one. What may have worked at the time, now just doesn’t do you justice and so you end up handing out cards that you’d rather just keep in your pocket to spare you from shame. Outdated, stale, boring or just unoriginal – if your identity either offline or online or both no longer has any good about it, you need branding help.

3: You’re unable to stand out from your competitors

What makes a brand a brand is its identity, an identity to differentiate itself from that of a competitor. If your own brand has lost its uniqueness in what can sometimes be an ocean of marketplace sameness, you probably want to consider rocking the boat a little. Revaluate what you have, who you are and channel that into your brand to make it exponentially more visible to potential customers looking for a company with something about themselves, not just another sheep.

4: Your brand has become confusing and over-complicated

Brands should have a clear message from the off. When you started it may have been clear and obvious but as you’ve grown you may find that your brand design has become convoluted and confusing since added new offerings and such, but you’ve not unified the brand narrative as you did so. If your potential customers are left clueless about what you’re all about, then you should consider taking a step back to refine and simplify. With branding, the more complex, the less cohesive – a rebrand is one of the best ways to remedy this.

5: Your business model or strategy is no longer the same as it was at the start

Sometimes you’ll find that five years down the road, the strategic objectives on which your company was founded are no longer what they were at the start. Regardless of whether it’s unforeseen market opportunities or changes in technology, business models do change. When this happens, you should consider changing up your brand too, in order to align it with your operation.

6: You’ve simply outgrown your brand

Growth and scaling are some of the more fortunate problems to have in terms of changes within your business. Well, if you do find that you’ve expanded to the point that your branding no longer gives a true representation of your size, then, you guessed it – rebrand. Sometimes leaving your old brand behind is what it takes to compete at a higher level with higher-tier brands.

7: You’re merging or undergoing an acquisition

When growth doesn’t come organically, a step many businesses take is to merge with or acquire other businesses and form an entirely new entity. When this happens it should always be looked at as a golden opportunity to rebrand since it’s critical to look at how the acquired brands gels with the architecture of the parent company. It’s all too common for this to be overlooked which then, in turn, impacts both brands due to poor brand alignment which does nothing more than to confuse.

8: Your original geography no longer applies

What happens when LDNtown Financial Ltd starts taking on clients from Birmingham, Newcastle, or Cardiff? Or maybe when Rutland Design Study sees a brilliant opportunity down in Cornwall and decide to up-sticks and relocate their operation to there? Regional businesses can all too often be faced with the prospect of a rebrand if they are to expand into new regions or simply relocate without causing confusion and questions.

9: Your brand has found itself being associated with a negative image

In this day and age, we often find that certain words or concepts can take on less desirable connotations which can end up affecting your brand with devastating consequences. What might be an innocuous brand, can find itself in hot water overnight thanks to how social media has the intense power of spreading political mishaps and business faux pas like wildfire. Often the simplest and most effective rectification in these circumstances is to jump straight into rebranding and wash away the old brand image.

10: You want to charge more, but you’re struggling

If you find yourself in a market where the price for your products or services seems despairingly pinned down even with the costs for materials rising, there’s something you might be able to do to circumvent the issue. Ultimately, brands boil down to perception, so if your brand is designed specifically for a certain demographic which is better suited to your pricing range, you’ll find it much easier to pick up the work for the prices you’re looking to charge.

11: You’re not engaging with your current audience

We’ve had the boomers, now we’ve got millennials, tomorrow it’ll be post-millennials. Regardless of whatever the appellation may be, there’s always another generation closely behind those who are spending money in the current marketplace. One way to tap into these new audiences is with rebranding by redefining yourself. Staying on top of demographic shifts is good business since none of the young and savvy wants to be associated with the prosaic brands of their parents’ gen.

12: You’re finding it hard to attract top talent

The fact of the matter is this, top talent wants to work at the top brands. That’s all there is to it. So perhaps you find yourself wanting to recruit a high calibre of employee to propel your business forwards, but your brand is holding you back. The best talent expects a business to take itself seriously. If a business looks and feels subpar, they probably won’t even consider working for you. Redefine your brand not just for your customers but for your current and future employees as well since they are the crucial cogs that turn the business machine.

 

So, whether it’s plain for all to see, or so obvious you can’t see it, signs that show the time for a rebrand is nigh can be found just about anywhere. The first sign can often be as simple as wondering whether a rebrand is on the cards at all! Whatever the reason for it, you can rest assured that taking the steps to rebrand by reaching out to an agency will be the right decision to make. The benefits (if done right) can be immeasurable and the investment will pay for itself many times over.

The questions you should ask before hiring a web designer

The questions you should ask before hiring a web designer

Not too long ago a research study commissioned by GoDaddy found that of the very small businesses in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Turkey and India, 59% of them didn’t have a website.

If you’ve ever been in the position of getting your website built, you’ll probably understand why that percentage is so high.

The trouble so many encounter is finding that web designer that can work on the same wavelength as you. One who talks your language rather than technical jargon, and even then, finding a designer that fits within your budget can feel like trying to find a contact lens in a swimming pool.

The year is 2020 and not having an online presence in the form of a website is in most circumstances business suicide or at best extremely stunting and will prevent any decent development. Yes, there are exceptions to this, but in general it is a crucial aspect of business that shouldn’t be overlooked, as by not having a website you leave potential customer with so many unanswered questions which may prove to lose you any prospect of their custom.

So, to help, we’ve compiled a shortlist of questions along with some explanation behind them that you should consider putting to the web designer the next time you’re on the hunt for one. So, whether its your first time or not, you’ll know their capabilities and what you can expect rather than blindly committing yourself to them.

Don’t worry, they shouldn’t mind you asking questions if they’re worthy of your business, if they aren’t comfortable with the questions being asked then you have to ask yourself why, what are they hiding? Besides, most designers will welcome the questions as it shows you know what you want – and believe me, us creatives are happiest when the client has a good idea about what they want.

Question 1: Can you show me some of your past work?

Any good web designer will be more than happy to show you their past projects. Designers take huge pride in what they have done so there should be jumping to show you what they can do, if they’re not willing, it is not a good sign.

  • So they’ve got a great portfolio – that’s excellent. However, you should definitely check some of the sites out, make sure they work in the kind of way you’ll want yours to. You need to be sure that this web designer can do what is needed for you.
  • If the quality is there, the designer won’t have to sell you their services – it should all talk for itself.
  • Make sure they’ve got diverse design abilities. They may have created the kind of site you like, but having a designer who has created more than just the one style of website is a much better option. You want your web design to be versatile is key.
  • Don’t settle for a designer who replicates the same website throughout their portfolio, yes they may be great-looking, but you want your site to stand out from the rest and have its own identity.

Question 2: Can you show me your references and testimonials?

There’s more to designing a than making it look great – the designer has to be easy to work with, hit deadlines, and much more. You need to be able to have full confidence in being able to work with the designer regardless of how well they can design a site. So asking for their testimonials or references can be an effective way of getting an idea of whether they’ll be suitable based on their past client’s feedback because, at the end of the day, you want to be left praising them about how well they did.

Question 3: Who will create the website’s content?

Many websites fail purely based on the quality of the content. A website is far more than just a nice-looking picture – it’s a crucial tool that needs to be designed in more than just a visual way. Laced throughout your website is content, some that’s visible in the way of text and then some that cannot be seen such as meta-data, this content is vital to a website’s success.

A phrase you’ll often hear is “content is king”, this is because when people search Google, the words they use want to coincide with the words used throughout your site, we call these keywords and so your content should be composed around these terms. The best of the best websites are those that are built using a digital and content strategy to achieve this. So you should speak to your web designer about the best use of content, meta-data and SEO.

Some of the most important details to discuss with the web design include:

  • Market research
  • Content strategy
  • Keywords
  • SEO and meta-data
  • Analytics

Writing website content, blog posts or product descriptions can be quite a nerve-wracking prospect, but there are plenty of guides and content writers to help with this that your designer may well be able to refer you to.

Question 4: What’s your process?

Its always a good idea to know how the designer plans to manage the project – poor project management can often lead to a poor project outcome or simply a difficult or messy project that can leave you feeling confused, annoyed, or just out of sorts with the designer. You want to know what they plan on doing with the information when planning the website. Look out for:

  • The hallmark of a good designer is one who begins the process by considering your objective. So, for example, they should be probing you find out if your site will be for eCommerce or a portfolio or anything else.
  • Based off of what you tell them, they should then create a sitemap designed to give you an idea of the overall content structure before any development work gets underway.
  • One thing some designers may do is create a visual mockup or wireframing of what they envisage the finished site to turn out like – a great step in the process to make sure you’re both on the same page.

Remember, a good designer won’t just focus on making the website look nice – they should also focus on ensuring the site offers excellent user experience to the visitors as, without this, a website is likely to flop.

Question 5: How long will it take to do?

Okay, so you’re probably going to ask this one anyway as time is money right? However, there are a few things, in particular, to listen out for. Well provided you’ve communicated the complexity of the website and the expected number of pages, the designer should be in a position to determine how much design will be involved and therefore give you a good idea of a timeframe.

Most designers will break the project down into four key stages to help manage the overall timeframe:

  1. Discussion – this phase is where you and the designer will communicate about the project extensively to identify exactly what is needed.
  2. Design and Development – the design will generally do this stage alone and is usually the longest of all the stages.
  3. Amendments – at this point you’ll be in a place where you and the designer will work closely to work through changes to the site, note that this should be welcomed and actually encouraged by the designer in order to iron out the final product.
  4. Launch – the name speaks for itself, the site will be put live for the world to see.

A crucial talking point with your web designer is getting an agreement upfront regarding how they can consult with you and make changes where required before the launch stage.

At this point, you want to be working out clearly with the designer about how many amendments the designer will do for the agreed project cost. Such as three sets of amendments, this is a fair number that gives plenty of opportunities to get the website to exactly where you want it. So after that you know to expect any additional charges rather than suddenly being hit with further costs on the invoice. Obviously, if mistakes are on the designer’s part – and of course this can easily happen since interpretations can be difficult depending on how you choose to communicate with your design – the designer should be correcting these without additional charges.

Question 6: How much is it going to cost?

Probably the most anticipated question, since it can quite often be the deal-breaker. Generally speaking, there’s no fixed or definitive rule for costing a website – its a very fluid thing. That said, a designer will have their set hourly rate and day rate that they work to, and so what you’re doing is buying their time to get at their expertise. Yet, its a very good idea to have in mind a budget for the project – know what you want to pay and, if within reason, a good, versatile design should be able to compose a decent proposal based on how much you’re setting aside since the bigger a site and the better a site, the more time is going to take and as I said before, time equals money.

In short, if you give the designer a good enough understanding, they’ll have a good idea of how long a site will take and thus how much to charge. Therefore they will be able to confirm this with you before getting started – you shouldn’t be looking to start anything without getting this confirmation.

Question 7: How will I update my site – can I do it myself?

So the site is done, it’s live, but now there some changes that need making – can you do these yourself? Well, it’s your site now, so you should have unrestricted access to it now. You need to know who gets the keys to your website just like you would if you bought a new house – you’ll need to work out how this is going to happen and how to get into the site to make changes – if that’s how the site even works!

Well, there are plenty of options and these vary depending on what type of site you can. If you have a bespoke built website with no backend CMS, well you’ll need a web designer to jump in and edit the code for you so it’s a good idea to work out the costs for making any changes. Other sites such as eCommerce will have a backend CMS be it WordPress or something else, so the passwords for this can simply be handed over and you’ll be able to make your changes, though you may prefer a designer to step in and do the work for you and they’ll more than likely be able to do a task in a fraction of the time it will take you, allowing you to concentrate on running the business – but again, work out what the costs will be.

If you do decide to rely on your designer to do it all for you then there are some considerations to make and it’s a good idea to get these worked out with the designer before shaking their hand:

  • What costs will be involved, will it be hourly, fixed, or even on a fixed monthly maintenance package.
  • How long it will take to get updates done, its often a good idea especially if you enter into a maintenance agreement, to work out a timeframe for getting changes made.