ADCI Website Goes Live

The Amateur Drama Council of Ireland (ADCI) is a nationwide body that administers amateur drama festivals for the whole of the island of Ireland. The organisation was founded in 1952 and coordinates the Full-Length Drama Festival Circuit along with two All-Ireland Finals annually.

The organisation had a pre-existing website that served them well for many years that had lots of good information and resources available. It had become quite cluttered and difficult to navigate in recent times and we were delighted to ‘reboot’ the site with a brand new design and layout. One of the big challenges was the transfer of data from the old site to the new site. The old site had hundreds and hundreds of pages (e.g. results, league tables, festival information) that had to be carefully moved over to the new site and integrate with the new design. This was particularly challenging but we created the tools to allow us to import the relevant data safely.

Another feature that we integrated was a Facebook feed into the homepage and news pages. This pulls in the latest Facebook posts securely into the site meaning that the organisation doesn’t have to maintain a separate blog on the website for news items.

Some of the features include

  • Functional & beautiful website
  • Structured festivals layout by year and festival
  • Clearly laid out results tables
  • Facebook feed integration
  • Email
  • Content can be easily managed through the backend
  • Various reports and dashboards are available on the backend
  • Fully GDPR compliant
  • Comprehensive user manual provided

See the result here

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Window World Website Goes Live

We’ve been working with Riverchapel-based Window World for the last number of months and this week we’re delighted to launch WindowWorld.ie.

This is a sleek and beautiful representation of the Window World business and showcases their products and services in a clear and intuitive fashion. Products and categories are clearly laid out in a catalogue style layout with clear descriptions and attractive & professional photographs. Each product invites the customer to make enquiries directly from the product page which is emailed directly to the team at Window World.

We’ve also enabled automated electronic invoices on the backend of the site. This is a powerful system for the folks at Window World to manage their invoicing easily. They can maintain a customer database, generate estimates and invoices at the touch of a button and automate the sending of these emails to their customers. Customers can view invoices easily online and the business will see the benefit of digitizing this once time-consuming manual process.

Some of the features include

  • Functional & beautiful e-commerce website
  • Well structured rich catalogue of products / services
  • Email automation (product enquiries)
  • Products clearly categorised
  • Customer invoicing
  • Email
  • Products can be easily managed through the backend
  • Various reports and dashboards are available on the backend
  • Fully GDPR compliant
  • Comprehensive user manual provided

See the result here

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10 Common Website Mistakes

It used to be a case that simply having a website for your business was enough to give you a competitive advantage. This is no longer the case as now the vast majority of Irish businesses have a website – so to gain competitive advantage, your site needs to be better than your competition. We see a lot of good websites and a lot of bad websites and while this can be subjective, below are the top 10 common mistakes we see on business websites.

1. Lack of ‘Call To Actions’ / Poorly laid out ‘Call To Actions’

The most important function of your website is to capture conversions. That is to convert a visit into a sale or enquiry. If your website doesn’t do this well, no matter how well it looks, no matter how highly it ranks on Google, no matter how much it cost you – it’s a bad website and is not working. Strategically placed ‘Call To Actions’ are a must have for any website and they should be clear, intuitive and aesthetically pleasing.

2. Mobile Friendly

While the vast majority of all website designs now are responsive (adapt their layouts to screen display size), we still see huge issues and mistakes on mobile website layouts. Buttons and links that are too small to click on mobile, images that don’t scale well to different resolutions and my own pet peeve – non clickable elements such as phone numbers and email addresses. If a customer decides to call you from your website, thats fantastic and you can’t afford to obstruct that call and make them enter the number manually. In times past you needed to be sure that your site was optimised for desktop number 1 and then mobile. This has now switched to mobile first.

3. Poor layout of content

This is something we see time and time again and it is particularly poor on homepages. The offences here range from inefficient headers (taking up too much space), cluttered text and images, clashing of colours, clashing of fonts, poor logo positioning amongst others. Another fault we see is trying to fit too much information into the homepage – sometimes less is more particularly on your homepage.

4. The power of a blog

Blogs can be really useful tools to communicate with your customers and improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) rankings. A well laid out blog will increase your customers confidence in your knowledge and passion for your work. It’s a good way of building relationships and trust with your visitors. If you have a blog on your site though – you MUST keep it up to date. Failure to do so will make your site look stale and static which defeats the whole purpose of the blog. No blog is better than an outdated blog.

5. Your site needs to evolve

You need to understand that like a car needs a service, like your house needs to be freshened up with paint – your website will need refreshing every now and then too. A well designed website should be future proofed where possible and should do the business for you for up to 5 years. Beyond that, no matter how good the design is, they start to look dated. Web technologies move on, styles change, browser functionality increases and standards evolve. A good web designer will future proof your site as much as possible and build on a platform that allows for easy maintenance. We see a lot of sites that are showing the effects of time and this is a bad look for your visitors.

6. Site speed

This is now crucially important as Google and other search engines will place more emphasis on your sites speed in their search algorithm. It used to be just an inconvenience to have a slow website – from summer 2021 you will now be punished for slow loading speeds in search rankings.

7. Poor quality images / unlicenced images

Images play an important role in the layout of websites and web pages. The phrase ‘A picture paints a thousand words’ has never been so true on a web page. Visitors don’t want to read paragraphs of text when they could view an image for a brief moment and get the same story. We see cases of poorly selected images. Images that don’t relate to the message of the page in question. Images of poor quality (pixelated, bad light, band angles). Another problem we see is unlicenced images. A big mistake people can make is to take images from Google Images and use them on their site – the owners / creators of these images are well within their rights to contact you to take the images off your site or even worse, launch legal action against you. We have an account with a stock image service that gives us access to literally millions of fully licenced images that we can obtain on our clients behalf.

8. Non compliance with data standards

As a website owner you have a responsibility to protect your visitors data, make them aware of how you treat their data and provide assurances of how you dispose of that data. In mid 2018 GDPR compliance was introduced in the EU and your site must comply with these standards or face penalties if found to be in breach. If your site went live before mid 2018 it most likely will not adhere to these standards and you may fall foul of the legislation.

9. Lack of SSL certficate protection

See here for a full article on SSL and what it does. In the not too distant past, having an SSL cert for your site was seen as a bit of a luxury. The big online giants used them but there was no real compelling reason for a lot of small & medium sized business sites to have them until late 2017 when all the major browsers (Chrome, Safari, Edge) made changes to display the text ‘Not Secure’ in the address bar on any site that didn’t have a cert installed. Needless to say the words ‘Not Secure’ are not a good look on any website address so we advise our clients to secure their website with SSL and remove this browser warning.

10. Broken links & non-clickable items

This is a real pet peeve of ours here in ClearSoft. Browsing through a site and clicking on a link that doesn’t take you anywhere or takes you to a wrong page or a page that no longer exists is unforgiveable in our view. Another thing we don’t like to see is a phone number or email address displayed on screen that isn’t clickable and actionable. This is especially true on mobile. If you display a phone number or email address on your contact page for example – that information should be clickable i.e. pressing the phone number will call the number directly on mobile and pressing the email address should open up your default mail client on mobile and desktop. This functionality is so easy to implement and so powerful – but yet we find many examples of sites not using it – forcing the customer to manually type in the phone number to their handset which can be very annoying.

Summary

Making a website and making a good website are 2 very different things. If you have a bad website, even if it cost you nothing, it could be the most expensive thing in your business. If you have a bad website that falls foul of some of the mistakes above, you may never know about it. Your visitors won’t tell you that you have a bad website, they won’t tell you that they had a bad experience, they won’t tell you that it was hard to navigate, it looked outdated or certain functions didn’t work. They’ll just go elsewhere.

A good website on the other hand will help convert your visitors to your customers. It will gently and intuitively funnel them to making a sale or making contact with you. It will give visitors confidence in your business, your products / services and your ability to deliver for them.

At ClearSoft we know the pitfalls of creating a new website and we know what mistakes look like. We’re not too proud to say that we have made some of the mistakes mentioned in this article over the years and we know how costly those mistakes can be. For that reason we have created a checklist for each website launch of around 30-40 items to be checked before going live. It takes us roughly half a day to go through this checklist for every implementation but it’s worth it.


All Storage Website Goes Live

All Storage is a brand new storage facility based in County Wexford. They offer personal and commercial storage solutions in their Craanford premises with 24 hour surveillance and 7 day access.

This is an e-commerce site – but a little different to most sites we create in that the product / service is subscription based. Customers sign up to a subscription, provide their payment details and then once a month will be automatically billed through the website (using Stripe Payments). Customers can log on to their account at any stage and cancel their subscription or change their payment details.

We launched the site for All Storage a few weeks ago.

Some of the features include

  • Functional & beautiful e-commerce website
  • Automated storage availability management
  • Email automation (new orders, recurring payments etc.)
  • Products clearly categorised
  • Subscription services
  • Online Payments
  • Email
  • Products can be easily managed through the backend
  • Various reports and dashboards are available on the backend
  • Fully GDPR compliant
  • Comprehensive user manual provided

See the result here

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Kelly Scents Website Goes Live

Kelly Scents is the brainchild and passion of Boolavogue woman Kelly Curry. Her business specialises in luxury candles, scents, fragrances and wax burners. She was looking for an e-commerce solution that would allow her to sell her products and manage the store and stock levels easily.

One of the things she needed was the ability for her customers to create gift boxes by mixing and matching some of the store products (burners, snap bars, candles, bath bombs). We delivered this requirement in a sleek, easy-to-follow way.

Earlier this week we were delighted to launch the new website and online store for Kelly.

Some of the features include

  • Functional & beautiful e-commerce website
  • Automated stock management
  • Email automation (new orders, orders dispatched etc.)
  • Products clearly categorised
  • Mix & match hampers / gift boxes
  • Online Payments
  • Shipping calculated at checkout
  • Blog
  • Email
  • Products can be easily managed through the backend
  • Various reports and dashboards are available on the backend
  • Fully GDPR compliant
  • Comprehensive user manual provided

See the result here

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County Wexford Community Workshop Website Goes Live

We’ve been working with County Wexford Community Workshop for the last number of months on an exciting web project that we were delighted to launch this week.

County Wexford Community Workshop is an Enniscorthy based organisation providing services to children and adults with intellectual disability and their families. The organisation encompasses Kilcannon Garden Centre & Restaurant, Astro Active Centre and Bellefield Design. These are commercial ventures that were set up to financially support our services and to provide employment.

They had a website for years that served them well, but they felt they needed to step it up for 2021 and beyond and improve their online presence. They also wanted to take their first step into the world of e-commerce. We were delighted to be chosen by them and help on their journey.

This week we launched their new website and we are very happy with the final result. The result is a very comprehensive website covering three distinct businesses and the overall organisation.

Some of the features include

  • Functional & Beautiful e-commerce website for Kilcannon Garden Centre, Astro Active Centre & Bellefield design
  • Online bookings
  • Automated stock management
  • Integration into ePOS systems
  • Email automation (new orders, orders dispatched etc.)
  • Products clearly categorised
  • Stock control
  • Blog
  • Products can be easily managed through the backend
  • Various reports and dashboards are available on the backend
  • Fully GDPR compliant
  • Comprehensive user manual provided

See the result here

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WordPress 5.8 “Tatum” Released

WordPress 5.8 was released on July 20th. The release name is “Tatum”, named after Art Tatum – a legendary jazz pianist.

What’s New?

Gutenberg blocks are key to this release. Gutenberg is the advanced editor within WordPress that was launched a couple of years ago. At ClearSoft we’re not huge fans of Gutenberg to be honest. There are better page editors available for WordPress and we just find it a bit clunky. That said, it is powerful in the right hands and it is free.

Gutenberg blocks are blocks of content that can be grouped and moved around your pages – an easier way to manage page construction than just raw code. This release makes improvements to blocks around widget integration, content looping and template integration. As I said we’re not huge users of Gutenberg blocks in ClearSoft so we don’t see any huge benefits in 5.8 to our customers from a functionality perspective.

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D’arcy Real Estate & Letting Website Goes Live

D’arcy Real Estate & Letting is a Gorey based letting agency providing services in Wexford, Wicklow, Carlow & Dublin. They required a comprehensive real estate website to showcase their properties for sale & rent.

The project required special real estate functionality (powerful property search, listngs shown on map, property attributes, agent information, easy contact functionality) and we were delighted to deliver on these challenges. The finished website is as beautiful as it is functional.

Some of the features include

  • Functional & Beautiful website
  • Powerful property search capability
  • Agent information
  • Featured properties
  • Easily add up property attributes (bedrooms, parking spaces, wifi etc.)
  • Blog
  • Social media integration
  • List all properties on a map
  • Various reports and dashboards are available on the backend
  • Fully GDPR compliance
  • Comprehensive user manual provided

See the result here

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Solis Counselling Website Goes Live

Earlier in the month we launched a brand new website for a new Gorey based counselling & therapy centre – Solis Counselling. It’s a classic design in keeping with their existing logo & colours. We sharpened up the existing logo to make it work better with web and integrated into the design which the client really loved. It was a very enjoyable project and bout the client and ourselves were really pleased with the outcome.

See the result here

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The 10 questions you need to ask your web designer

If you’re in the market for a new website one of the initial steps will be to shop around for quotes. There is no standard template for web design agencies to respond to quotes so it can be difficult for you to understand what the quote entails. The quote itself will show you the estimated price, but that doesn’t tell you what you’re getting for that price.

With this in mind we have created a list of questions that you should ask as part of your quote request. This should help you identify how much bang you’re getting for your buck.

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