Website Design

A website as special as you are

Your website should be as unique as your business. We have a wealth of experience designing websites that work from the heart of what makes a company unique. What's more we understand that good website design is driven by functionality, which is why our websites look good, and work efficiently and effectively.

Whether you need an attention-grabbing online brochure, smooth-as-silk shopping online, or unique functionality to help service your business or customers in a particular way, we have the expertise to deliver.

All of our websites are fully loaded for search engine visibility and efficient operation. This includes search engine optimisation with researched keywords most relevant to your business, optimised images for fast page loading, and carefully structured content to attract and engage visitors to your site.

We're very proud of our extensive portfolio of web design work, which includes direct work for our own clients as well as discreet work for other design agencies.

We are also excellent at building the maximum potential around the bare bones of an idea, and in working-up existing fully-fledged designs.

How we work

  • Discuss your aims and targets. Who is your audience? Do you plan to sell on-line?
  • Look at your competitors - what do they do and how can it be improved upon?
  • Create designs, including a site navigation plan for content structure.
  • Tweak designs to your approval.
  • Keyword research to allow search engine optimisation of all pages.
  • Start building the site, including SEO (find out more about SEO here).
  • Integrate other systems as needed, such as e-commerce, PayPal and other payment tools, etc.
  • Add tools to analyse and enhance your site's performance, such as visitor statistics and analytics.
  • Test your site, with you, and perhaps with some of your customers, before launch.
  • When your site is live, we offer a range of tools to help drive traffic to your site, including online advertising, newsletters and more.

Database Development and Information Management Systems

Databases work at the core of most websites. At one end are fairly simple sites on popular content management systems such as WordPress; at the other, sites with multiple databases and complex queries driving large organisations.

Ampersand specialises in the creation, management and integration of databases into online applications, including websites. As a database developer, we make sure the applications we develop deliver high levels of integrity and data security. Our expertise extends from creating new databases, to integrating existing data into new applications.

We are also experienced at transforming into databases - data from a wide variety of formats, such as csv and txt files, spreadsheets such as Microsoft Excel, even from paper documents.

We are a Microsoft Specialist. We also work with all kinds of databases, including Open Source software. We're often called upon to integrate data into specific functionality. Our database experience includes:

  • Microsoft SQL Server (MS SQL)
  • Access
  • XML
  • Plain csv data
  • MySQL
  • Lotus Notes
  • Sage
  • We can usually convert legacy data into MS SQL

Database Applications

Examples of ways that we've used databases to benefit our customers include:

  • Online product brochures
  • Email marketing to sorted & targeted lists
  • Secure sharing of information
  • Audits of all transactions
  • Customer access to their own purchase history and invoices
  • Bespoke e-commerce websites
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
  • Cross-selling and up-selling of products

Database Experience

We are highly experienced in building websites around data management, and have many examples that show how we've integrated databases into online projects. Our knowledge can help accelerate the return on investment you make into your online database systems.

For more information, call us on T:0161 303 2000, or click here to contact us.

e-commerce

E-commerce websites and online shopping solutions

If you sell products, it pays to sell them online. We deliver highly-functional e-commerce websites that lead customers smoothly through the online purchasing process, from finding, to informing, comparing, selecting and buying.

If you choose us to build your webstore, we'll aim to create an ecommerce website that attracts customers to your products, then encourage them to 'add to basket'. That's a big step in itself. But products in a basket are not a sale, in fact most e-commmerce customers don't progress past the first stage of the checkout process. Which is why from here on it's essential to maintain your customers' commitment to buying. Each action they need to perform is a trapdoor through which potentially they can drop out of buying.

We are skilled in developing and using processes that help keep your customer engaged throughout.

A key element of a website with ecommerce is keeping the customer comfortable. And a key part of that involves making sure products are well presented. Our expertise in managing databases, coupled with our e-commerce experience helps us design real functionality into the structure of the data - products, categories, navigation, etc. We use our flair for design to showcase each product to potential customers, and structure your online shop so that products are easy to find. The result is a powerful channel created specifically to build sales for your business.

Key elements for e-commerce websites

Your home page is your shop window. You need to dress it to attract the most relevant customers - just as you would a bricks-and-mortar shop in the High Street.

Know your customer - every kind of person shops online, women, men, parents, kids, teenagers, the elderly, professors, low-literacy users, non-native English speakers, etc. Do you know what kind of people use your site?

Sell the sizzle, not the sausage - there's a great difference between listing products for sale, and 'selling' them. Show the benefits and features of your products, and explain why they're special and why customers should buy from you. Promote special deals as soon in the site as you can.

Build trust - use images to show products clearly. Create detailed descriptions, with additional specifications where relevant. Write terms and conditions and warranties that aren't camouflaged in 'small print'. Include accurate delivery details. Don't be over-optimistic on the speed of services. Remember - it's better to surprise than to disappoint.

Don't build a maze - make sure your customers always knows where they are within your site. Make it clear where they can go to from every page. Make it easy for them to get back to where they've been.

Ease the purchasing process - remember your customer might shop in numerous webstores, even if they've logged into yours before, they might not remember. Make the shopping basket, login process and payment process as silky smooth as you can.

Encourage ratings and feedback - most online shoppers will look at customer feedback and star ratings before they've even read the product details. Make sure you have them, and they're good.

Manage your site - respond to orders rapidly. Check stock levels often. Add and remove time-sensitive special offers and deals when you should. Respond to customers' queries as quickly as possible. Make sure stock, prices, warranties, terms and conditions and delivery information are always up-to-date.

For more information, call us on T:0161 303 2000, or click here to contact us.

Custom coding / software development

There are standard tools to perform the majority of tasks for website and data-based applications, however we have found there is the ongoing demand for custom coding and software development to cater for specific applications.

We provide custom coding services to our own customers, as well as other design agencies. Our expertise includes: HTML, CSS, XML, ASP.NET, AJAX, MS SQL, and more.

Software Sourced

We provide a range of software development services, competitively priced. We'll work closely with you from the initial brief, through detailed specification, to ensure the most efficient route to the successful completion of your project, and to achieve the best user experience.

Our skills cover:

  • Web application development
  • Mobile Apps
  • Cloud-based applications
  • Web services development
  • Desktop application development
  • Systems integrations
  • Database development
  • Application modernisation (improving and developing existing systems(
  • Software/user functionality

Attention to Quality

Quality software depends upon attention to detail, and efficient code generation. It's also critical to fully understand the intended outcome, and suggest any improvements and enhancements throughout the planning and development stage. You'll find our approach is thoughtful, productive and efficient.

For more information, call us on T:0161 303 2000, or click here to contact us.

SEO (search engine optimisation)

SEO is essential.There are plenty of offerings out there for DIY and 'free' websites, and lots of one-man-bands who will throw you a few web pages together for not much money. But unless they're optimised for search engines, they're probably worth just about as much as they cost. A bit like having a brochure printed then leaving it in a cupboard.

Search engine optimisation, or 'SEO' is a subject that baffles many people, even though it's essentially straightforward: it's all about creating your website content and structure in a way that makes it visible to search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Safari, etc. (OK - mainly Google, which had a share of more than 88% of searches through most of 2015. Bing comes in 2nd at around 7%.)

Despite all the technical stuff about 'algorithms' and secret squirrel searching rules, all Google works hard to do is to make sure that when we type in a search query, we get the most relevant results. So it's constantly refining its systems to recognise the text on a web page more accurately, and to prevent its processes from abuse by companies trying to manipulate results page rankings.

Search engine optimisation involves making sure that your website content and structure follows guidelines for search engine visibility - to help Google find it, so that it can deliver accurate results and guide the most relevant visitors to your site.

We start search engine optimisation before we add any content to your website. It's an essential and integrated part of our process.

SEO as standard

We build SEO into every website as standard. This includes:

  • Keyword research relevant to your subject area. Before we start creating content we have a list of keywords to work with.
  • A 'focus keyword' - we'll select the most relevant keyword from the list as the focus for a page.
  • Page content - we make sure that there's the right density of keywords in the page, to many and the page becomes 'spammy'.
  • URLs - these are the individual web addresses for each page, were we can we'll incorporate the keyword into the page URL. (the browser bar for this page for example). They appear in search results under the headline.
  • SEO title - this is the text that usually appears in the tab at the top of the page - it also appears as the headline text in a search result.
  • SEO description - this is the text that is displayed in search results.

Accessibility

Accessibility is another important consideration when designing and building websites for our customers. Clear content and page descriptions are just as relevant for accessibility as for search engines. Research shows that pages written specifically for the way we 'read' web pages help low-literacy users as well as general visitors, because good web content is organised and structured in a way that makes it easy for everyone to absorb and remember.

In addition, often overlooked tools such as 'alt' descriptions on photos and illustrations are crucial to visually impaired visitors. They are also visible to search engines, and can include keywords to add power to your website's visibility to search engines.

Social Media

Social media marketing

With careful planning and good administration, social media marketing can be highly effective - in terms of cost, and in delivering rewards in the right markets

Marketing in the past was primarily focused on broadcasting – a one-way push of information about products and services, designed, when effective, to generate interest and enquiries. Perhaps the biggest change brought about by social media is the transformation of marketing into interactive communications channels. Another significant difference is that its success is almost instantly measurable via visitor analytics tools.

We have the know-how to make the most of your marketing budget through carefully managed social media campaigns. Whether your target is business-to-business, or business-to-consumer - we can tailor ongoing campaigns to help sell your products, promote your services, or push your reputation.

Additionally we have the experience to build social media into a wider marketing campaign, embracing a wider mix of online and offline media, such as advertising, emails and print.

A Matter of Opinion

What your customers think about your products, your services, and your company, is now out there for all to see. Whether this is a blessing or a curse depends upon how you manage the information presented.

If you manage feedback considerately and actively, you can make it work for you. A positive response to good comments, and swift action on complaints will help build trust with prospective customers and build your reputation.

News or noise?

Online marketing as often seen as a necessary inconvenience. Knowing you should really post to Twitter, you create several Tweets at once, post them up simultaneously, then ignore it for another week or so.

Another common mistake is to treat Facebook, LinkedIn, etc, as advertising billboards - posting anything so that you have 'a presence'. We can show you how to manage social media for maximum effect, including the feedback you generate.

For more information, call us on T:0161 303 2000, or click here to contact us.

PPC (Pay Per Click Advertising)

Pay-Per-Click

Extracting the best out of pay-per-click advertising, or PPC as it's commonly known, demands a high level of skill. Setting up a basic campaign can be easy. Expertise is needed to configure and manage it in a way that ensures your potential market is targeted with a high degree of accuracy, in order to make the very best use of your budget - no matter how big or small that is.

Configuring a PPC campaign demands both skill and information. You know your own business better than anyone, and we use our our skill, to use that information, to configure your campaign for maximum benefit. Factors we need to consider include:

  • Geographical reach - where is the majority of your business likely to come from?
  • Online activity peaks - are there specific times when your prospective customers are likely to be online?
  • Keywords - what words or phrases are customers most likely to use to search for your products or services?
  • Budget - not just how much, but how can it be most usefully deployed?
  • Ad titles and text - a few words that need to have maximum impact.
  • Landing pages - do they deliver what customers expect and need?
  • Response mechanisms - how do you respond to enquiries in an effective and timely way?
  • Results analysis - how do you turn all that data into useful information?

We're here to help, with the time, skills and expertise needed.

For more information, call us on T:0161 303 2000, or click here to contact us.


E-mail Marketing and Online Marketing

It's said that it's easier to sell more to existing customers than it is to find new ones. Email marketing is a powerful tool that can drive that process, and we have the resources to deliver.

We have experience in ensuring your message gets delivered to the right people, ensuring high delivery rates in the age of spam is difficult we have the experience to ensure your message gets through to your audience.

We are highly experienced with all aspects of online marketing for b2b and b2c customers, from ensuring websites are fully optimised, to compiling effective PPC campaigns. We can also support online marketing with a range of 'offline' services, such as print-based material, advertising, etc.

Successful online marketing is critical to the success of any business or organisation. Yet online marketing is often treated as an afterthought. You wouldn't print a brochure then leave it in a cupboard and expect customers to walk in off the street to take one, but many companies do the equivalent with their websites.

The most common online marketing tools and channels include:

  • SEO and content marketing
  • Social media
  • PPC (pay-per-click ads such as Google Adwords)
  • Email marketing

We can help you realise your business aspirations through carefully considered marketing strategies to get more punch for your £.

SEO

We cover every aspect of SEO, from site-based SEO with optimised content, to everything needed to ensure your site maintains high online visibility, and performs well in search engines. Find out more here

Social Media

We have the experience to make the most of your budget through carefully managed social media campaigns, to sell your products, promote your services, and build your reputation.Find out more here

PPC Advertising

An effective PPC campaign demands both skill and information. You know your own business better than anyone, we use our our skill, to use that information, to configure your campaign for maximum benefit. Find out more here

Email Marketing

E-mail marketing allows precise control of what message you send and to whom.

Mission Statement

We always aim to ensure our clients are happy, and that our work exceeds their expectations
- Give us a call to see how we can help your business do more business
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