Small business

Playing to your strength

Playing to your strengthMany small business owners when starting out, decide early on to play to their strength. Simply put this is taking something that they are good at doing and personalising it to fill a perceived gap in the market or outperform those already doing it. In fact one of the first things that I tell anyone asking me advice on what to do with their business, is to ‘do something that you love doing’, simply because if you love performing a role you are going to put more work into getting it right for your customers. If one sticks to this simple rule, then the amount of time spent actually growing your business and making those vital new contacts is made a darn sight easier. So why do so many choose to ignore this?

I fully understand that as a small business owner we want to control every aspect of our business to the tiniest degree – hey we are small business owners too, but at some point down the line we MUST step back and actually ask ourselves ‘is this really playing to my strengths?’ There is a very fine line between being engaged and being a control freak that some appear to miss entirely.

Let’s look at an example:

Whilst working for the parks department way back in my youth I came across Fred (name changed!). Now Fred knew a  lot about plants, no wait, Fred knew virtually everything about plants. He had trained at Kew Gardens and had letters after his name to prove his knowledge. Anything I wanted to know about plants, I would ask him. One day whilst working in the gardens of a prestigious park, myself and Fred were given the simple task of driving a small motorised truck out to the gardens, pruning the flower beds and cutting the lawns. As Fred was the senior gardener he was given the role of driving us out there and cutting the lawns.

Well to cut a long story short it did not go well; the motorised truck ended up in a canal and the lawns were never cut because Fred was unable to start the lawnmower. I was berated for over pruning some of the established bushes and further questioned about the removal of some I thought were weeds (I was very young!).

Strangely enough I could drive the motorised truck with ease and had been trained on a golf course about the proper use of lawnmowers. Fred on the other hand would have known what bushes needed to be cut and what plants were not weeds – but we had not been allowed to play to our strengths.

I sometimes find myself in the same position today. Someone approaches us for a new fresh looking, updated website, then when they see the new design want to drag in their ‘favourite parts’ from the old one. In no time at all that ‘all new’ site is looking very similar to the one that was not working for them. I look at hundreds (probably even thousands) of sites every week in order to keep close tabs on what works and what does not. Like many in the creative field, we have trained hard to maintain what we do to the highest level, because just like you we love what we do. Our business like many in the creative field is made more difficult as we cannot hand you a physical product at the end of the process, that does not mean that we care any less about the end result!

So are you playing to your strengths or are you ready to trust someone who may just be able to get you more customers? Give me a call today, Peter at Debayne Web Design – Weaving the Web your Way


6 common website myths

6 website mythsWE have come across many problems with business websites since we started the business. Some of these were down to inaccurate advice from friends, colleagues or other designers, others were just a lack of website knowledge. Here are a few that come up regularly.

  1. No list would be complete without the quote from the movie ‘Field of dreams’ – “If you build it they will come.” There are some who will tell you that just by building a website, you will instantly see an increase in business. Walk.. no. RUN away. What they do not tell you is that as of 2013 there were over a billion websites worldwide and that the ones that get the most traffic are those who constantly update and use their site as a part of their daily business.
  2. “All updates take a long time and a lot of know-how.” Many modern sites especially in the small business market are built on the likes of WordPress or Joomla!, both of which have very easy to use interfaces that can be learned in no time with a little effort. Some designers will use this one to charge you for changes like adding a picture or blog post, whilst some design changes to the actual look of the site are probably best left to a professional, there is a lot that you as the owner can still do.
  3. “You need to choose one of these templates for your site.” Whilst there are many thousands of great templates out there, if you are trying to look unique in your business the last thing that you need is a site that may look just like another company down the road. A good designer can build you a unique template for your business or tweak an existing one to make it stand out.
  4. “A free site is just as good.” I make no secret of my dislike for the ‘free sites’ and encourage you to read THIS. Suffice to say that if you are desperate to be online but have literally no way of affording a website, yes they will give you an online presence. However my advice to you is to avoid them wherever possible and as soon as you are established, pay for a professional web design service.
  5. “Just use this text, they do the same as us.” If you copy text or images from another site, not only will you be in breach of copyright law which could land you with a large fine or worse, you will also be penalised by search engines such as Google – the new search engine algorithms pick up on duplicated text and may ignore your site or banish it to page 10 and beyond – which let’s be honest no one actually searches.
  6. One we are hearing a lot lately is Social media is just as good as having a website.” This to me is like saying that watching the trailer is just as good as watching the movie. Whilst there is no denying that some businesses flourish on social media, if someone wants to know more about what you do, they probably don’t want to spend an hour sifting through Facebook when with a few clicks they can skim your history, past projects, testimonials etc. Social media for me is a means to raise awareness and interest in your product/service, in order to lead them back to your site to find out more and hopefully place an order. Yes it is important that you cultivate and maintain an online social media presence, but it is not the ‘be all and end all’ that some claim.

If you want a clearer picture of what is and is not the best way forward with your new website, site maintenance or site revamp, you have two options; spend hours online reading up – or give us a call. We will come along, have a no obligation chat with you over coffee and help you to decide what is good for YOUR site. For us it is not just a tagline, it is the way we work – Debayne web design – Weaving the Web your Way.

Rules of engagement

rules of engagementEvery so often on LinkedIn a claim re-surfaces that in order to be a successful, trusted business one must have a long list of superficial extras:

  • A modern spotless office – with of course off street parking!
  • Perfectly coiffed hair and for the ladies perfect makeup.
  • A new vehicle which of course MUST also be spotless inside and out.
  • A sharp suit and shoes that one can see ones face in

…and on and on…

..and a little vein starts twitching in my temple. You see I disagree with social stereotyping, which is after all what we are talking about here (unless you are a chauffeur!) Many small and start-up businesses (and quite a few established ones) have no means of jumping through all of these hoops in order to be taken seriously, yet are better at actually looking after the customer than some with all of these boxes ticked.

Example from real life: Not a million miles from where we operate is another business similar to ours. They have a large smart well-lit office with customer parking and all ‘mod-cons’. Their reps are well turned out in sharp suits and their new vehicles are professionally sign-written and spotless. In fact, they tick all of the boxes in the social stereotyping remit, all that is except one – the most important one. In the past few months alone, I have heard directly from some of their victims, one friend actually rang up in tears asking to be rescued from them! With their sharp persona’s comes an arrogance and bully tactics to get businesses signed up with the company, which then proceeds to extract large sums of money for little or in some cases absolutely no work in return.

Is this a unique example? Sadly not so. We have all been victims of believing the best political spin coming up to elections, (which are delivered by very smart individuals in nice suits), the same spin that is quickly swept under the carpet once they are in office. Or how about the fuel companies? ‘You can trust us, we have your best interests at heart’ – beautiful offices, lavish suits and immaculate vehicles; they then proceed to order a Fracking team into your neighbourhood or try and secure an oil platform in a nature reserve! On a personal level, how about the very smart computer shop (lovely uniforms, off street parking etc.) that tries to sell you a new PC when all you wanted was a new power lead? From the high street, to the highest powers in the land, we are over and again taken in by ‘a sharp suit, good spiel and a nice office’. This type of social stereotyping has blinded so many to the dangers of the sharks out there in business and beyond.

It is true that very few will want to deal with someone who looks like a down and out, but for me it has to be more than an outward image, I want to know the person/businesses that I am dealing with on a ‘real’ level. Many of our clients have no smart office, no off-street parking or manicured landscape, many I have never seen (nor expect to see) in a suit or sharp new spotless car. Yet these are the same businesses that I trust with MY business and in fact am proud to call friends. If this ‘reality’ is not your thing do not be too disheartened as we will probably never meet. You see we have no smart office, our car is over five years old (Oh the shame!) and I seldom wear a suit. We do however build exceptional websites and have a long list of extremely happy customers. Strangely enough, every time I begin to ponder on getting an actual business premises another one of these posts floats to the surface and I think ‘you know what, I’m not sure that I even want to deal with someone who expects so much ‘window dressing’ before they will deal with you!’

So which do you prefer? The sharp suit, nice office and the driven sales technique or the company that will work with you from your tiny shop, back bedroom office or garage saleroom to help make your business grow? You know where to find us. Debayne Web Design – Weaving the Web your Way


Business transparency

business transparencyThe subject of business transparency and it’s importance in gaining new business is one that I am particularly keen on exploring. Coming back from a networking meeting this morning I heard a prime example on the radio; the first part of the advertisement big, bold and clear, then 30 seconds of speed reading, mumbling over the terms and conditions – ack! How off putting is that? To be honest I have never seen the profit in hiding behind a brand or set of rules that only come into play if/when the customer steps over some (often invisible) line and quite frankly I find it quite disconcerting.

Yes there must be rules and yes of course there must be terms and conditions, but for goodness sake let’s be clear about them. I have been a member of some teams in the past where the terms of employment came in a book of five or six hundred pages and for some organisations (healthcare is a prime example) such guidelines are to some extent at least needed, but for a small business? Really?

So it got me to thinking how do we as a business measure up to the ‘t+c minefield’?

  • We have simple page explaining what cookies are and how we use them.
  • We have a Frequently Asked Questions section answering some of the common questions that we come across.
  • We also have a pricing page which gives you an idea of the packages that we offer – this is not exhaustive as we realise that everyone’s needs are different and often unique, but again it is there in black and white.
  • When we take on a new client they are provided with our terms and conditions, contract (to safeguard both sides) and any prior agreed upon payment details.
  • There are testimonials here from some of our many clients, so you don’t even have to take our word for it!
  • We also keep a copy of all correspondence to and from our clients, again this ensures that you get what you actually want/need from our service.
  • Above all of this we will never try and talk over a persons head to gain more leverage – there are many in the profession that still do this ‘tech talk’ in order to gain more funds, we are not one of these.

There are no hidden agendas, no minute small print and we will never bill for a service or product that has not been first discussed and agreed upon with you. How many businesses do you know that are not as transparent and have suddenly hit you with a big bill? We are not different, we are not unique, however we are transparent. Sick of getting the run around from your designer? Maybe it is time to talk to one who is committed to Weaving the Web your Way – Debayne Web Design – we’ll be waiting for your call.


The Perfect Toolkit

perfect toolkitI have always been a DIY nut. I guess you can say that it was more through upbringing than actual design, we were always on the edge of poverty so when something broke we got on and fixed it.

As the years passed I never lost this bug so my toolbox grew and grew, soon outgrowing the small cupboard under the stairs and spilling into the outhouse and any vehicle we ended up driving. I never saw this as a problem, it is great to have the right tool for the job right? In fact it wasn’t until I started watching some of the hoarding programs that I began to see the same worrying traits in myself; at one point I had six electric drills and five hand saws..oh dear. Whilst this isn’t a problem as much for those who need to use these tools every day as part of their job, as a DIY’er there was no way that I could justify my ever growing collection. A few years back I bought a large tool set with a lifetime guarantee and a screwdriver bit set with every conceivable bit. I have cherry picked through the remainder of my loose tools and the rest will be passed to my boys or thrown out and the weird thing is, the more old tools I get rid of the easier the jobs become.

The sorting of these tools lead me to an eye opening discovery, whilst it might have been brilliant to have a special tool to reach that certain bolt on a past car, if you never use it again that tool has no business being in your toolbox. In fact when you ‘drill down’ (excuse the pun) into what you actually need, it is frankly quite amazing what you can throw out.

What can we do in our business to maintain a good toolbox?

  • We may have some tools from previous jobs that are easily transferred into our new role, but we must make sure that we are not sticking with a familiar one when a new one will work more efficiently – many of the tools that we use in our business have an even shorter useful life than those we still hold onto in our DIY kit. But do not confuse these with life-skills, as these can be priceless when the same situation rears it’s head years later.
  • Similarly the tools that you are suckered into buying by a slick salesman or promotion that promise great results but never quite work properly have no place in your toolbox. 
  • Use the right tool for the job, for example why have six social media tabs open when there is one tool that combines them all?
  • Use the right tool for your customers, despite what many say the idea of a ‘one size fits all’ is a myth; adapt, go the extra mile, be unique, they WILL remember.
  • Be open to train to work with new tools if they will make your role easier or more efficient. 
  • Most importantly never be afraid to get your hands dirty. If there is one thing that I have carried over from every role that life has thrown me, the best boss leads from the front. I have met web designers who don’t know basic coding, time served gardeners who have no idea how to start a lawnmower and staff nurses who have never changed a dressing! This ‘tool’ will become more useful as your business grows – Plus there is the added danger of if you take your eye off the ball, you can bet that your competitor will not.

Time to clear your toolbox or try a new set of tools? Perhaps that website is looking a little old or you haven’t the time to update or run backups? Give me a call and we’ll talk over coffee about what’s good, what needs to go and what needs replacing. Peter from Debayne Web Design – Weaving the Web your Way


Eureka! What now?

eureka what nextWhat we have found over the years is that businesses tend to come to us when something isn’t working; possibly their social media is not set up right, their site has disappeared, or the designer has moved to Kuala Lumpur without leaving the login details (or a forwarding address!) Ironically sometimes these will be the very same ones who actually promote forward thinking; planners, trainers, mechanics, florists and event management companies etc. Their businesses are built on the foundation of planning for tomorrow, yet when it comes to their online presence a different story unfolds.

So when IS it the best time to talk to a Web Designer? The simplest answer to this is ‘As soon as possible’. Whether we like it or not, the vast majority of buying and selling these days is done or at least begins online and if we choose to remain apart from that, even when we are ‘just starting out’, we run the risk of never reaching a huge portion of potential clients. We at Debayne understand that for some the web is still a very daunting place, full of strange terminology that very few seem to fully understand and even fewer will explain to just anyone unless there is a fee involved! (We can however add that this is not always the case.)

‘So why contact you so soon?’ You may ask. Think of all of those initial costs; deciding on branding and perhaps a logo for your new venture, printing your business cards and advertising material for those first tentative meetings, possible signage for vehicles (even if this is only a magnetic type), policies and procedures put into place, stock etc. Where better to pull all of this information together than on a website? You can of course produce a catalogue, flier or booklet, but this will limit you to how many you can produce and distribute. Sticking with the printed material, if you leave the website until last it will not be present on any of your literature as this will have already been produced and to put it simplistically, if people do not know you are online how will they ever find you? As I am becoming somewhat known for saying ‘If they can’t Google you, you don’t exist!’

So here is the plan of action. You have had your ‘Eureka moment’ and decided what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. You have started putting some notes together about your new venture and are set on a colour scheme and a possible logo. STOP. Pick up the phone now. We cannot speak for other designers, however we can help you develop that logo, polish that text for your website, find good suppliers for printing, photography, run social media, maintain and backup your site to keep it secure, in fact virtually anything you are looking for to help make your business a success. We do not stop at Web Design and any designer who does, does not really want to know about your business, so why trust them to build your online calling card to the world?

One question remains, “Are YOU ready?” Call Peter today for a no obligation chat over coffee. Debayne Web Design – Weaving the Web your Way.

10 Reasons NOT to get a ‘free’ site

free websiteThere is a lot on the TV and press at the moment about do it yourself website design. They all have quirky little names and friendly looking bright advertising campaigns, so why would you ever have to go to a web designer? Here are just 10 reasons;

  1. First and foremost let us talk about individuality. You’ve gone it alone, you are making a business that is unique in what it delivers, there may be others like you but no one does what you do to your high standards. You have researched the competition, decided on your logo and branding and argued with suppliers to get the very best price that you can. So why would you throw all that away on what is often a standard template which will do nothing to highlight your individuality. Some free providers even boast that they have ‘industry standard content’, you want to look just like everyone else, right?
  2. Hosting. Some ‘free’ sites have extortionate hosting fees, putting it simply, what they may charge you per month is what an actual designer may charge per year! How did you think they pay for those prime time TV advertising slots? They may also add banners and other advertising to your site. 
  3. Support. By far the biggest complaint that we have heard from clients who have tried self build sites, is the poor or totally lacking support, you have a problem you are on your own!
  4. Time. That most precious and valuable commodity to every business, regardless of size. It can take an amateur anything up to a month to build a free site, to get everything looking right before the site can go live. This is not being patronising to business owners, it is simply the time it can take to get a handle on this new concept. Here’s a quick maths quiz 40 hour week times four, times your hourly rate = ? Still free right?
  5. Following closely behind time is experience. With little or no experience in designing a website, you may think that your design is the best in the world but will your visitors? Will they just see it as another carbon copy of the last site they visited or worse? You get one chance to wow them..
  6. Space. Some self build sites give a limitation on how much you can have on your site, there is often a fee for anything beyond this level.
  7. Maintenance and back-up. Maintenance of websites is our biggest message, you see just like any other program on your computer, your website runs on an application. If this application is not kept updated and backed up regularly it will be open to attack. Do you think the free site will do that? Read our other post on the importance of maintenance.
  8. Ownership. Some free design providers maintain that once published, your content, your pictures and everything else on the site is owned by them. So if you miss a payment or fail to follow their terms to the letter you lose it all. You may also find that you have no claim on your domain name as it is registered to the company providing the site and not you as it should be.
  9. Email. I wish we had a pound for every free site we come across with a generic email address; hotmail, gmail, msn etc. these do absolutely nothing for your business credibility. You should have an email address that matches your domain name, we provide this as standard.
  10. Flash®. Some of the free sitebuilders still use Flash®. Without going into too much detail Flash® built websites do not show up on Apple devices such as iphones and ipads. Do you want to alienate the 43% of potential customers who own an iphone?

So here is the bottom line. Free sites are often anything but, they will take your time and money (despite their promises) and deliver very little in actual quality. Before being tempted by the flashy advertising and apparent simplicity, ask yourself one question: Would you put a diamond necklace into a free carrier bag? If the answer is no, why would you do that to your business?

We have been providing quality, unique, websites to businesses virtually since the web began. If you value your message and want to reach the right audience, we will be waiting for your call. But hey if you decide to self build, we’ll still be waiting – see you soon! Peter from Debayne Web Design – Weaving the Web your Way.

Buyers Market

buyers marketWe have all heard the term ‘buyers market’, but what does it really mean to us as business owners? Well at the very least it means challenges. You see the simple fact is that no matter how unique or specialist we think our business might be, with very few exceptions, there is a good chance that we have a competitor offering a very similar service just down the road. On top of the day to day running of our businesses, we must remember to check out our competition regularly also and be prepared to adapt our marketing to be more competitive. We must also accept that no matter how tempting our offers or deals, there are those who will continue to go elsewhere for a myriad of reasons.

When building a website, business model or starting a new business, it is important to remember that there are very few ‘overnight successes’ simply because of the reasons above. There are many who will tell you that ‘if you build it they will come’, this is simply not the case generally and anyone giving you this message should be avoided.

But it is not all bad news, with record figures of shopping over the festive season being done on-line, there is a very good argument for having a website. Even if it is not being used as a sales portal, it gives your business another place to be found and provides valuable additional information for potential clients/customers. Very few people now use directories to find a business, they use the search engines and as I am wont to saying ‘If they can’t Google you, you don’t exist!’ However if you think that just building a website will immediately boost your sales, you may be disappointed. A website like any other part of your business, must grow and continue to offer new information, think of it like you favourite shop window; if you pass that shop in a week and the display is still the same you may look in, will you in a month? Possibly. 6 months? A year? Probably not.

This is where we believe that we have the edge on some of our competitors; Debayne Web Design doesn’t just build great websites, we will provide reliable hosting, vital backup and updating services to protect you from on-line attackers and for those who have no time, even social media updates to your followers. Keeping your on-line presence fresh and interesting. If you want to know more about our services check out the rest of the site or give me a call and I will have a no obligation chat with you over coffee to see if we can help you make the most of your website. Peter from Debayne Web Design – Weaving the Web your Way.

You don’t do enough..

Whilst having a recent telephone conversation with another business, I was stunned to hear that they believed that we do not do enough to be of any use to them. It occurred to me that we perhaps do not ‘blow our own trumpet’ as much as we possibly should. We do what we do because we want to help our customers enhance their businesses both on-line and elsewhere, not for some award that will sit gathering dust, definitely not for the money or for dreams of being rich, but for every single one of our customers; from those who just host with us, to those we have helped to create a successful sustainable business.

do enoughOccasionally I am asked what our ‘USP’ or unique selling point is, I will often smile and say ‘What? I have to choose one?’ You see we are different depending on what you need from us. So here for the those who see us as ‘just another web designer’ are just a few of our USP’s:

  • Free advice – wow not that impressive huh? How about free HONEST advice that could recommend another business build your site? Yup done that before.
  • Following on from this genuine synergy with other designers, we know our limitations and will be upfront about them from day one, if we can pass you to a designer with more skill in the area you are looking for, we are pleased to do so. 
  • Introductions to any business that we know may be a great match for you; from something personal like home help, ironing or care for sick or elderly relatives to a world class recognised wildlife photographer, international singer or massively influential business coaching agency who will not look at businesses earning less than £3M in profits. If wanted/required we can literally offer a cradle to grave service for you.
  • Leading on from this, as much or as little support as is needed. Some businesses come to us with everything mapped out and ready to upload, others say ‘I’ve got this idea to..’ and we help them to brand themselves, design a logo and talk to the right printer for their stationary or one of the many photographers we work with, for their product or head shots – literally anything they are looking for. 
  • Real SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). OK so what is the difference you ask? Well there are many ‘specialists’ who will cram a site so full of keywords and phrases that but the time they are finished it will be illegible or will attract the wrong type of browsers. We work with you to understand how your business ticks and place the right SEO on your site to maximise your message, so much so that we have one of our clients ranking higher that their supplier for the same products. 
  • Honesty and transparency, these are two of the most rare items on earth as far as I am concerned. We will not promise something that we cannot deliver and those who follow me on social media will know that I do not hide my opinions and experiences as I firmly believe that you have to know who you are dealing with in order to build a trusting relationship with them.

I apologise if this post comes across as arrogant, but we thought it was time to show how we are different to those who may have the wrong idea about us. On top of all this we have a great client base many of whom have become good friends, I guess this is why we have a 98% retention rate and why we can help so many businesses find the right people to help them. We are not perfect and we have made mistakes, however we own our mistakes and pass the lessons on here in our blog. Oh and I almost forgot, we have just weathered the worst ever recorded recession and are still trading – more than can be said for so many others.

Above all else, we do what we do because we have a passion to help small businesses to compete with the big boys, to help the dreamers and thinkers to make something from that dream and to showcase Charities and Voluntary Groups, all of whom would be charged the earth elsewhere or forced to do a poor self build. We do what we do because we want to help every single client to achieve their goals.

One thing that we are not? We are not ‘just another web designer’ although we do provide start-up sites from £199, maintenance from £11.99 and all of these other services. Do we do enough for you? Give us a call to bring your dreams to life. Peter at Debayne Web Design – Weaving the Web YOUR Way.

Take a walk on the wild side..


The title of this weeks blog is as an homage to Lou Reed (1942 – 2013) who sadly passed away very recently, but left us with this classic, if rather controversial song. Though I would not perhaps recommend that one takes the instructions mentioned in this iconic song, there is still a message here that is very relevant.

take a walk on the wild sideTime and again whilst talking with family or friends I come across very similar complaints; ‘I hate my job’, ‘…has it in for me..’ ‘my boss is a…’ and on and on. To be honest I am finding it harder and harder to sympathise with these tales as I get older, simply I believe, because I and many more like me, decided to ditch that situation and take the bold step of working for ourselves. There are those I know who will already be thinking ‘well it’s alright for you..’ and forming all sorts of opinions, based often on very few facts. The truth is of of course slightly different. I will never say that working for yourself is easy or simple, never will you hear me say that it does not carry a risk. You will however hear me say that I love my job, that every single day is different and brings different triumphs and challenges and that I will never return to working for someone else!

There is a freedom to ‘being your own boss’ 100% of the time brings; yes it is sometimes scary, there are pitfalls and politics and depending on your industry, a lot of hoops to jump through. However being the master of your own destiny means that you see the rewards first hand, you are the one they are recommending, you are the one who becomes the ‘go to’ person in your business.

So it really is as simple as that. You can go on thinking and believing that you have to go to that same mundane job every day, be treated badly by customers and other staff, have no prospects or goals. OR. You can take a walk on the wild side; turn that hobby into a career, retrain (it’s never too late!), take back the control for all those many hours spent working and make them work for you. When you are ready to take on the world, you will need to speak to us as we will be working with you to create a web presence that will attract more customers, showcase your services and even act as an online shop for you – the possibilities are virtually endless. We will be waiting for your call – Debayne Web Design – Walking on the wild side since 2009 and still Weaving the Web Your Way!