WordPress in Crawley

WordPress is the most popular website Content Management System (CMS) on the web. It has won that position the hard way, by being the best. It’s now at version 4.1 and has evolved into an easy to use and functionally powerful CMS.

Vapour Trail is a web design and development business based in West Sussex with a particular focus on the Crawley and Gatwick area. We have years of experience working with WordPress. We also have a focus on working with small businesses.

For very many small businesses, being able to take control of their website in-house is a godsend. Their needs are probably modest: price updates, blog, news about recent projects. Hiring a web designer to do this can be unrealistically expensive.

WordPress is easy to use. If you can create and save a Word document, that’s pretty much the skill level you need to update your WordPress based website.

So, if you are based in the Crawley area …

  • You have a website and can’t update it. We will analyse it for free and present you with a proposal describing how you can make your website more flexible and useful.
  • If you already have a WordPress based website and need some help with it, we will be very pleased to quote for the work.

WordPress in Crawley

Here at Vapour Trail we want to help small business, charities, sole traders and artists get the most from their websites. WordPress is a great tool to make that happen.

We do not charge to investigate your website or for an initial consultation. We place a high priority on communicating with business owners in everyday language and not technobabble! Since we are based locally, we would be very happy to meet up with you to get to know you and your business.

Contact us on 0333 123 0004 or email info@vapourtrail.biz

 

A New Look with WordPress Themes

Let’s have a think about how a website looks: the layout, colours, font and styling generally. If a website is static i.e. made up of separate HTML pages, the styling is part of the page. But if your website uses a theme or template, it is much easier to change the appearance.

Our preferred Content Management System (CMS) is WordPress which uses a WordPress theme to control appearance. Simply by changing the theme, it’s possible to give your website a whole new look. The content will remain the same but will be presented in a new way. This opens up exciting new possibilities. Your website can be updated as often as you want for minimal effort. You can have seasonal changes: a Christmas theme, an Easter theme and so on. Most themes also allow a degree of customisation: background image changes, changed text colours or similar.

WordPres Themes are available for free download or to purchase at reasonable prices. For example Themify have some great contemporary designs. Or you can even have a WordPress theme created to your bespoke requirements.

So if you are tired of your old website design, it might be much easier to update than you think.

Here at Vapour Trail we create and update websites, mainly for small business. We recommend WordPress as a great business solution and we don’t charge the earth. In fact an initial consultation and a quote are completely free. There’s no pushy sales people (we literally don’t have any). We just want to meet up and find out what we can do for you.

If you need a new look, call us now 0333 123 0004 or email info@vapourtrail.biz

Featured image by Renata Salles

New Year, New Resolve

Happy New Year, I hope you have a great 2015!

Pause.

Now let’s think about what that actually means.

I genuinely offer my good wishes for 2015, I would be very pleased if all my readers had a truly successful 2015. But whilst good wishes are one thing, making it happen is quite another. If you are setting out on a new venture or continuing with an existing one in 2015, it’s success or failure is largely down to you.

If you own that venture, you own the power to make it succeed. So I would encourage you to take some time to make plans, set targets and take control.

Here’s one thing I can really help with. If your business or venture uses a website to communicate with customers or colleagues, take some time to review how well it is working. Does someone searching for what you offer, get directed to your website?

I would be very happy to spend some time with you, reviewing how well your website works. This would be entirely free of charge.

You get a professional opinion of your website and if there are things to be done, maybe we can agree to work together.

So welcome to 2015 and there’s an offer of something free. Pretty good start, eh?

 

Chris

0333 123 0004

 

Add Us To Your To-Do List

Christmas is coming (yes, really) and we are thinking about the celebrations and the end of another year.

But the end of one year means the beginning of a new one. A new year and new opportunities.

If you run a business or an organisation, if you are an artist or performer, you will probably be thinking of new ways you can push ahead in the new year. Any thinking about how you are going to promote yourself must include a consideration of your online presence. How well is your website working, are people engaging with you on Twitter, is your Facebook page effective?

How would you like to talk this over with someone? My name is Chris Jerrey and I run Vapour Trail. I have been building websites for over ten years. I would like to offer you an entirely free review  of your website and social media activity.

I absolutely promise there will be no hard sell! I will help you understand the current status of your website, how easy it is to find, what it says about you. I will also offer recommedations of how you can progress the website to help you meet your aspirations.

Am I looking for new business? Of course, and so are you. So if you would a free of charge, informed discussion about how your enterprise can do more online, add us to your to-do list.

Or just call now!

0333 123 0004

info@vapourtrail.biz

What is Cloud Computing?

If you are at all interested in technology, you will have seen plenty of references to “The Cloud”. You may also have seen the recent stories about celebs having their photos stolen from The Cloud and are wondering if The Cloud is actually a good place to store sensitive material.

So let’s answer the question “What is Cloud Computing”?

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is working with services and resources which are not present on the device you are using.

So, for example, if you take a photo on a smartphone and upload it to Instagram, you are using the cloud. Your photo is not stored anywhere except the cloud but can be viewed by anyone with a browser or Instagram app. Likewise if you receive a file in Gmail and edit and save it using Google Drive, that file is never present on your device, it remains in the Cloud.

What is cloud computingThis is a very powerful tool. If you need files in multiple locations (desktop computer, laptop and tablet), just save the file to the Cloud and it is available wherever you want.

A businessman can create a document at his desk, then save it to the Cloud. The document is then accessible via a tablet whilst travelling.

A student can start writing an essay on their home computer, save it to the Cloud and then continue it on the train or at a friend’s house.

More sophisticated Cloud applications allow work groups to share and cooperate on documents.

Obviously it is important to avoid your resources falling into the wrong hands. Cloud applications come with complex security arrangements but these can be negated by poor quality passwords and easy to guess credentials. It’s incredible how many people still use “password” as their password. Or their name followed by 123.

When setting up a Cloud application (like Google Drive or iCloud) follow the provider’s guidance to create strong passwords and credentials.

If you get the security right, the Cloud can be a powerful tool to make your life much easier.

Further reading:

Wikipedia – Cloud Computing

explainthatstuff.com

 Coffee shop image –Yagan Klely

Content Is King!

Are you making changes, or wanting to make changes to your website? Are you dithering over which font or colour would look best? I have some news for you: It doesn’t matter.

“But, but … ” you say. Let me explain.

Search engine results are not based on whether you are using Arial or Verdana fonts. People will not pick up the phone to call you if your website uses #3366CC rather than #0099FF blue.

People will find your website and engage with it based on the content. Content is King!

Your website should look good and should work properly. It should be easy to navigate and display correctly on different devices. But the website is only ever a container for your content. So long as the website displays your content correctly, it is doing it’s job.

Let’s think some more about content, what should it be? In the business context, the website content should all be promoting the view that yours is a reputable, capable business which customers can entrust with their business: Typical content on a business website would be:

  • A statement of what the business does
  • Who owns the business
  • What their qualifications and experience are
  • How best to make contact
  • Testimonials from existing customers
  • Technical information about the products or services you deal with
  • Prices
  • Examples of completed projects
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Industry news
  • Informed comments on relevant topics

If your website is fresh, up to date, useful and informative, it creates the impression that you are the sort of business that is good to deal with. Remember …

Content Is King!

Content is also key to unlocking the power of search engines. If your website content is relevant to popular search engine enquiries, your website will appear higher up the search engine result rankings, meaning that your website is more likely to receive a click through from the results. This is a practice known as Content Marketing and can be a powerful tool to bring in new business.

Take a look at the content of your website. Is it up to date and relevant? Does it provide useful information and insight? Is it worth spending time reading?

If it’s time for a change, call us for a chat. We’ll help you invigorate your website and make your content shine.

0333 123 0004 (free from most mobiles)

info@vapourtrail.biz

PS. This isn’t new, Bill Gates was saying “Content is King” back in 1996

How To Add Pictures To Your WordPress Blog

Pictures speak in a different language to words. Sometimes a picture is the only way to convey the true impact of a thing or situation. Having both words and pictures available to you is a powerful combination. If your website is based on a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress, you have that combination at your fingertips.

Adding pictures to your Blog is not at all difficult, but let me first talk about the pictures themselves. You don’t need an expensive camera to produce good quality pictures. But you do need to think about what you are doing and develop a few skills.

The current generation of smartphones, compact digital cameras and digital SLRs will all produce pictures that can be used on a website. However they are not guaranteed to do so. The most important part of the picture taking process is the photographer.

How to add pictures to your wordpress blog

Times Square photographed with a Samsung smartphone

Images for use on your website should be:

  • In focus
  • Properly lit
  • Composed in a pleasing way
  • Have the important details fully visible and not hidden in shadow or “blown out” highlights.

Let’s think about these points in more detail.

Focus – Most modern cameras have auto focus but it’s not infallible. Learn how the system works (read the booklet) and practice. Check your results immediately. If they look fuzzy, do it again.

Lighting – If possible, use diffused natural light. Light from the north is less glaring than light from the south. Avoid flash unless you know what you are doing. The flashes on phones and compact cameras are especially good at producing red eye and other undesireable effects.

Composition – Get the camera level and take time to review what you are looking at. Placing your subjects centrally won’t win any artistic prizes but you will be able to see them and they are more likely to be in focus.

Details fully visible – This is very much a result of getting the lighting right. Inadequate lighting will mean the image is too dark or too much will be in shadow. Harsh bright light will also produce deep shadows and highlights without details. Check your image before shooting and review after pressing the shutter. If it looks wrong, try and move you subject into softer light and try again.

Remember, the quality of a picture depends on the ability of the photographer, just like the quality of a meal depends on the skill of the cook.

How To Add Pictures To Your WordPress Blog

If you are using WordPress, this is easy. Do any editing and save the image file on the same computer as you are writing your with.

With the cursor at the point in the text where you want the image to appear, click the Add Media button. Select Upload Files then click the Select Files button to find the file on your computer. After selecting and clicking Open or OK (depending on computer) you will see the upload progress on the right of the next screen. Add a title and alternative text for the image, select alignment and the size you want it to appear. Clicking the Insert into Post button places the image in your Post. When you Publish the Post, it will be there for all to see.

Further Reading – detailed WordPress instructions on adding images

 

It Need Not Cost a Lot

You run a business. It might be a small business running for awhile, or a start up. Your “to do” list says “Get website”. You think: lots of money, fast talking salesman, technobabble, anguish. You go and do something else instead.

I’ve spoke to a lot of people who have been there. They are very good at what they do, but don’t know much about the internet beyond Facebook. They think that talking to a website design agency is going to cost them a lot of time, money and confusion.

It doesn’t have to be like that.

For a start, Vapour Trail is a small business. We don’t employ salespeople, you talk to the person who will create your website. We are a small business, so we know that value for money is important. We want to build a relationship with our customers so we don’t start off by confusing you. We want to create you an affordable website and see it grow with your business.

We don’t try to sell you what you don’t need.

This is a key point, so let me explain further. If you are a big brand, you want all your marketing (including your website) to be unique to you. You will be spending a lot of money to create a totally unique brand identity. And it will be lot of money because top quality design work is expensive.

An affordable website

In most cases, this is not an appropriate approach for a small business. You want to be distinctive and get your message across, but not at any price. We take readily available, often free to use components and combine them with original imagery and text to create a distinctive, but affordable website. We are big fans of the WordPress Content Management System. This is an Open Source product which means it’s free to use. There are hundreds of free themes to control the appearance of the website. These can be configured to create a distinctive look for your business website.

Do you want to know more?

Call us on 0333 123 0004. We will be happy to discuss your needs and quote you for work.

We will make sure you understand what we are telling you. This is all without any obligation on your part. We believe the web is for everyone, not just the big names. Get in touch and we can help remove “Get website” from your To Do list.

Websites for Small Business

Vapour Trail specialises in websites for small business. If you are a small business, start up, one man band or partnership, we can offer you a reasonably priced and effective website. We understand that you need to use your resources efficiently and may want to work to a tight budget. No problem, we are used to that.

Websites for Small Business

It doesn’t matter what size your business is. If it needs a public face and a place to promote itself, it needs a website. The good news is that if your business is small, we can make you a website for a small price too. We offer a Small Business Website Package for £249. If the package doesn’t work for you, please call us on 0333 123 0004 to discuss your needs. We will be happy to analyse your requirements and offer you a quotation.

Self employment is at a record high (August 2014) and each of these micro businesses needs to promote themselves. Their websites may be little more than online CVs, but that presence can be the vital advantage that a business needs.

A WordPress based website can grow with your business and as it’s a Content Management System, you can manage the content yourself. Blog entries and news stories keep the website fresh to stimulate the interest of both human readers and search engines.

If you really don’t have the time or inclination to manage your own content, we will be happy to do it for you. We will contact you regularly and find out what has been happening, then produce appropriate updates for you. Call us to discuss.

We have supplied many websites for small business and built long term relationships with our customers. If you think our expertise could help you and your business, we would like to hear from you. 0333 123 0004

 

 

 

Content Management System

In the beginning, all web pages were written in HTML. Only webmasters understood HTML, so whenever a website needed updating, the webmaster or web designer had to do the work. But life moves quickly, information changes and news needs to be reported. A better way of working was needed.

A Content Management System (CMS) allows someone with basic IT skills to maintain a website. If you can create and save a Microsoft Word document, you should be able to learn how to use a CMS quite quickly.

Blog

New content keeps a website “fresh” and relevant. Human visitors like this because the website looks up to date. Search engines like fresh content too as they use the frequency with which a website is updated as a measure of it’s usefulness. New, fresh content is good for many reasons and a blog is a great way to introduce new content to the website. When a website is based on a CMS, keeping a blog is easy. Just log in, create a new post and start writing!

Updates

The information on your website will change. Prices will change, you will start selling new products and stop selling old ones. A CMS allows you to take charge of all these changes.

Functionality

CMS like WordPress accept a huge range of extensions which will give the website additional functionality. If you want to display Google Maps, have a contact form, sell products, show a gallery of pictures, assess the search engine optimisation of a page, link to social media or display a calendar of events, you can do all this with WordPress extensions.

Marketing

If you engage a marketing professional or instigate your own campaign, a review of your website’s content and some changes are inevitable. A website based on a Content Management System makes this easy.

Do you have a Content Management System?

If you want to get the most out of your website, you need a CMS. We will be happy to provide you with a fixed price quote and advise you on the most suitable product. Call us on 0333 123 0004 to find out more.