What to do if your website provider is holding you for ransom

Just recently we spoke with a very successful entrepreneur who had their website taken down by an angry IT provider. As if managing your websites and all other online assets isn’t hard enough, when your provider is a bad apple you can feel powerless to stop the damage to your business reputation by not being online.

As a part of the IT community where this happens it makes us frustrated too, but there are ways you can protect yourself from this kind of disruption. Here are our top three suggestions:

Keep control of your domain

yourwebsiteaddress.com.au or .com should be under your control. You can share this with your providers but as long as you are the main point of contact for the domain registration then any funny business can still be reversed by you.

We hear stories time and again where someone claiming to be your best option starts off by offering to register your website domain name and then forcing you to purchase services you don’t need because they control your domain.

There are a number of cost effective domain registrars that allow you to setup your own registration. Just make sure once you have done this that you store the logins in a safe place to share with your trusted IT provider.

Ask your provider about how to move your website

If you have a great provider then there is no reason to move it however it’s important to ask the question and listen closely for the answer.

25% of all websites in the world are built on a WordPress content management system. This is an open source platform with developers & infrastructure aplenty. It should just be a matter of a small effort to provide the files to your new provider if that is what you need.

Most importantly, if they laugh nervously and try and avoid answering the question then this should be a warning flag. Business requirements change and your IT provider should be accommodating.

Make sure your provider is doing backups of your website

Most providers will have a service that backs up to a secure location regularly and this means that if the unforeseeable happens to your site and it goes offline that you can reclaim it from the recent past once you fix the problem.

This one does require a good relationship with your provider but in the scheme of things, another important question to ask.

Ultimately it comes down to whether your provider understands what can happen over time and in the context of a changing business environment. Importantly, its your website and you have the right to ask questions and make changes to your arrangement if you need to without fear of retribution.

Looking for Creativity & Inspiration in One? Try Canva!

In an ever-changing online world Google and everyone you know is content hungry! And you can’t just share a nice written article anymore; you need to make it beautiful with creative design and imagery.

If it’s that important to Google and your users, shouldn’t there be something that doesn’t require a degree in rocket science to use?

Enter Canva

For those who have never used this kind of thing before, it has its own very simple training modules that you simply click the ‘Design School’ button up the top to find easy, step-by-step instructions.

And if you still need some extra love and care, click on ‘Hint’ at the bottom left of the module to be taken to video that demonstrates exactly what to do. The best part is that each one loads and plays through so quickly so there is no chance to forget what it is you have to do. Once you grasp the simple basics it is very easy to make an amazing infographic, poster or whatever else you need.

One of the best features of the software is the ability to drag and drop to insert your choice of image or text box into your poster or whatever it is you are working on. What’s even cooler, is even if you you have the whole thing finished and you decide you don’t like that background after all, it’s so easy to change!

And maybe the coolest, you can use one of the thousands of free images provided or your own image that you have uploaded. No need to pay loads for istock images or your own photographer!

Melanie Perkins

This software is easy to use because it was designed by a graphic design university teacher for her students who found it difficult to understand other software – like most of us. Melanie Perkins is an inspiration to all of us. From simply wanting to help her students design their university yearbooks more easily, she has become the CEO of one of the fastest growing companies in Australia. Of course, such things don’t happen in a vacuum and she did have help, but she has certainly put in the hard work and the hours to create her dream.

The Canva Story

It took seven years to get her dream up and running and in that time she worked hard and kept her focus on her business plan instead of diverging like many young companies do. It is this single minded focus teamed with patience and care in choosing just the right person for the third helper that has helped to make her company so successful. And now it is up and running, expansion is on the way with Canva for Business almost ready to go.


Learning about what Melanie has done should inspire all those who have a goal of any kind to not be afraid of hard work and long hours if it means success in the end. Her journey also teaches us the importance of having patience and in choosing wise and knowledgeable people to help us along the way.

Diamonds, Puppies and Taxes are Forever…but technology changes and so should you

We love Smart Company, they produce articles relevant to businesses of all sizes and they always answer the question, “So what, why should I care?” And we love their work so much that we wanted to reiterate the significance of their article on why a website isn’t forever.

We recently blogged about why you should care about mobile responsive design, and maybe all you heard was blah, blah, blah. Fair enough if you feel like people are holding it over your head but Smart Company has again summarised why your website has to change over time – see here!

We share your pain and having to update websites, technology and software to help our businesses run better, those unexpected costs are always frustrating. But the reality is consumer and business habits change and that means you have to also.

It doesn’t mean to have to change everything all the time but if you have a good technology and software advisor to your business then they can help sort out the wheat from the chaff to know what deserves your money and attention and what can stay as is.

Check out our Free Guide to Website Design, a Free Download from this page (click on the orange button) to get an idea of what you need to consider in 2015 for your website.

3 Ridiculously Practical Reasons why Mobile Responsive Design Matters

You don’t need a new website, do you? So maybe your site is a little out of date, but its got your phone number on it and its pretty easy to see what you offer your customers. Why should you spend money to get a new website?

Typically it comes down to one factor alone – how it looks on a mobile. While we won’t dispute that some industries have a low viewership of websites on mobile devices its entirely possible that number might be low for the exact reason that people can’t see anything on your website on a mobile so they don’t even bother in the first place.

What is mobile-responsive design? Essentially it means taking the desktop version of your website and adjusting the content and sizing of things so that on every other device it looks normal, easy to read and no pinching and zooming are required.

Here are some ridiculously practical reasons why mobile responsive design is critical:

1. Commutes are Longer – People in cars/trains/buses/trams don’t talk to their seat mate anymore – they check out their phone on that hour long trip to work in the city and this includes all generations of people, not just gen-y. Why bust out your laptop when you can use your mobile with one hand?

2. WiFi is Everywhere and Free Most Places – the Shopping Centre, the bus, the coffee shop, the airport – and of course this is for all devices but unless you are editing a document in Word on your laptop, why wouldn’t you just use your mobile?

3. Because You Want People to Call Your Business – On a well-developed site the link to your phone number is always accessible but even better, when you click on it something magical happens – the phone you are on will ask you if you want to call that number immediately. These people that call are leads, that will buy things from you

So of course our awesome designers and developers can help you build the mobile responsive website of your dreams but from the broader web community we would like to formally announce that people use their phones, a lot, and if your website sucks on mobile then it will impact your business.

5 Online Tips for 2015

Contrary to some commentators we are finding companies quite excited about 2015. They are busting out of the gates and they have a better understanding of online world then even a year ago.

We rebuilt our own website last year and we know first hand the digital world can change a lot in a short time. When looking at your online presence in 2015 consider the following 5 things:

1. Your sales leads have probably seen you first – While you have your own sales process to bring in new leads there are just as many people out there that have probably come across you in their research. So think about what information you would consistently want to share with people if they were calling you directly. There is never a bad time to evaluate your 15 second speech on what it is you do.

2. Use the data – hopefully you already know what your website, blog and social media visitors are like. But if you don’t you should check what information is being tracked online for your business and then figure out how to make it work better for you.

3. Get mobile – we beat this drum a lot last year and we will keep up the same tune. There are 5 billion mobile phones in use and if people have to squint or constantly pinch and zoom to get to what they need on your website then they probably chose a competitor instead

4. Make your website useful – consider selling products on your website, not just advertising them. Or if you don’t want to sell but want to spend less time on the phone explaining your products then build a site that is well-organised to do that talking for you. Remember – they have probably already researched you before they call anyway and this is an awesome way to stand out.

5. Plan to add good content – we are big fans of the blog and social media but the most important fan of fresh content is Google. And for those with marketing budgets big and small adding fresh content to your website on a regular basis not only attracts visitors, it might just lead to the next product or service innovation you have been looking for.

Keep it fresh, keep it current and keep the human touch and check out our new site when you get a chance – and don’t forget to download our Free Guide to Website Design.

Happy New Year!

Three Steps to Feeling Less Intimidated by Website Design

We all need a little care and contemplation every once in a while to get the best out of ourselves and website design is no different. In a website build or revamp project it really is the most important part of the process and most people feel intimidated from the start. Never fear – these 3 easy steps will help you feel a whole lot more in control and confident in what you can achieve.

Step One – What You Want to Feature?

There are those normal things like About Us, Products and/Services Lists and Contact Forms that all sites generally have and they are important too. But when your customers (current and future) load your website what are the couple of things that you really want to impress upon them? What is your unique sales proposition, what makes you stand out? Is it your extensive product range or maybe your expert skill in your particular area. Whatever it is, it matters when it comes to the site design.

Step Two – What Do You Want People to Do?

If we use the storefront comparison, if customers have physically entered your store and are showing signs of interest, what would you want them to do? This is easy to track when you are looking at someone face to face, and its easy to track online too with Google Analytics by figuring out how long people are spending on your website and what pages they are looking at, but I digress.

What do you want them to do? Buy straight away, call you to discuss how you can help, send an email to request an appointment or reservation? What you can encourage your customers to do on your website is virtually unlimited, but keep it simple and know what you want to them to do so that the site design encourages that.

Step Three – Find Existing Websites That Do These Things Well

Ultimately you can’t go wrong by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, so find the sites they like, and the ones you do too and then share all of this information with your designer. And be specific about those things because no site is going to do everything exactly like you would so don’t be afraid to mention likes and dislikes about those examples.

The Internet is framed around being able to gain information and engage in transactions quickly, therefore following the above three steps with this principle in mind means you will be in the driver’s seat of your website build. Empowered and dare we say it, feeling a little excited too!

Interested in sharing your design dreams with us? Give us a call or click here for more information.