5 ways to ensure your website meets customer expectations
Before you start designing a website you need to know who your target audience is, and how you can help them. So, how can you ensure your site is user-friendly and meets, or exceeds your customer expectations?
The most important factor when designing a website is to know your target audience, and what it is they want. Your site needs to tick all the boxes, so that a potential customer can make an informed decision about buying your products or services. One of the first steps in this process is to make sure your website is user-focussed, and does not frustrate them so much that they go to elsewhere!
A bit like me today, trying to find the answer to a graph-design question that’s stopping me finish a client project. Grrrr..!
Before you do anything website or social media related you need to understand who your target audience is. Otherwise you could be wasting a lot of time, effort and money marketing in areas where you will see little or no return for your investment.
You need to know who is your typical customer, how old they are, where do they spend most of their online time? And what makes them tick? What problems might they have that would make them visit your website? Once you understand what they want, it will be much easier to plan your site’s content and design.
Keep it tidy
Whether you’re designing a new website, or looking to update an existing one, spend time fine-tuning your content. What pages should you include, and what can you say that will help to sell your products or services? Keep your content concise and your website uncluttered.
Don’t put in too many distractions that will confuse, or make people forget the reasons they came to your website. If your goal is to sell a product think about why they might want to buy it? How will it help to improve their home, business or family lives? Cut out or rewrite any content that might navigate your potential customer away from your site. I have reviewed so many business websites that include links to others. There’s nothing wrong with linking if it’s going to provide relevant information, that helps your customer solve a problem. But just bear in mind that once they navigate away from your website, you risk losing them completely. And you could miss out on that all important sale.
Make it accessible
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 1 billion people live with a disability. That can include people who have problems with vision, hearing or physical disabilities. One of the top issues that could impact your site visitors is visual impairment. Colour-blindness is a particularly common problem, so try and avoid certain colours like red and green, if possible. Make sure the font size is legible, and that hyperlinks and Call to Action buttons (CTAs) are not too close together.
Further help can be provided to assist the visually-impaired by making sure you add descriptive ‘alt-text’ to your images. This text is used by screen-reader tools and can help people who are blind to understand more of the information on a page.
There are a number of easy tests you can perform yourself to check if your website is accessible or not. But, if like me you are a single entrepreneur, and your family time is a precious commodity, then I’m more than happy to execute the tests for you, and provide a complete website accessibility report. Just drop me an email or give me a call to arrange a chat.
With more and more people using handheld devices to browse and buy online, your website must be mobile-friendly. Responsive website design means that whatever size of screen people are using to view your site, the images and text are automatically resized. This makes it much easier to load, read and navigate. If your site isn’t a responsive design, then your visitors will quickly lose interest and bounce merrily away to your competitor’s website.
Most self-build website tools have responsive design already included, with options for you to view your site on desktop, mobile or notepad before you publish. If you have that option on your content management system, WordPress, Wix, etc., then I recommend that you use it. Check your content and media display correctly, heading don’t fall off the screen and CTAs are in the right place. If you’re not sure if your business site is mobile-friendly there are a number of free tools you can use to check it. Alternatively, I offer a free website review which includes testing that your site renders correctly on mobile devices.
Give instant feedback
This might seem like an unusual item to add, but to me it’s as important as all the others I have mentioned.
If you have ever completed an online form, and not received on page confirmation that the action has been successful, you have two options. Fill everything in again and hope it confirms the second time round. Or don’t bother. There’s also a third option which is just picking up the phone, but it’s less likely to happen, unless someone desperately wants to buy something you offer.
It’s important that your site visitors see an instant response when they fill in a form or click on a link, to know it works. So test your site frequently. Because there is nothing more frustrating than a website that doesn’t work properly.
A happy customer is a returning customer.
You must meet user expectations, and if possible, go above and beyond what people are expecting. Test all of the elements of your site thoroughly to make sure everything works as it should do. Don’t brush little niggly problems under the carpet, thinking people won’t care, because they will. Poor grammar, spelling errors and things that don’t work as they should do, can make your website look unprofessional. And it might give them the same impression about you.
For your free, no-obligation, website review, just phone, or send me an email. Find out how I can help boost your online business !
“Shirley at SAA I.T provides an excellent service. Her test report was clear and detailed. I was very impressed by the advice, solutions and instructions – I was able to apply many of the devices. However, with my work commitments I decided to hand over the website and let Shirley work her magic. In much faster time than me, Shirley designed and developed it into a professional website that will be a great asset to my business.”
Back in the old days, when I was a test consultant in the UK, it was probably easy to describe a normal testing day. But here in France my work has changed so much, and all for the better. Instead of working for large companies, my focus is now on helping small businesses improve their online presence. So let me try and tell you, in a few words, what a typical testing day is like.
I’m not a good sleeper. My head hits the pillow and I can be asleep in a few minutes, but it’s staying asleep that’s my problem. And I wish I could blame it on something – old age my husband says. I usually wake around 4 or 5am most days, lie there for an hour and eventually I get up, as quietly as possible. I’m so practiced at these ninja-like manoeuvres I could probably serve in the S.A.S. I slide from the bed, pick up my mobile from the bedside cabinet, nip to the loo and then glide stealthily across creaking floorboards, all by the dim light of my Fitbit.
So by the time my other half wakes up at 7am, (because I always forgot to unset the alarm) I have generally logged on to my PC, had a shot of strong black coffee and checked emails in my four personal and business mailboxes.
Next task in my typical testing day? Social Media!
Trying to produce interesting and entertaining posts for my own business pages, as well as client ones isn’t as easy as it might sound. And when you have to publish something every day then it can be a bit daunting. However, what I generally do about once a week is spend a day researching topical and trending items, that are relevant to the business pages I manage. I post on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google My Business (GMB) for myself and some clients. Luckily, with Facebook and Instagram, posts can be scheduled in advance, which means I get them all done in a morning and only have to publish on LinkedIn and GMB daily. But usually I have already picked the images, ‘inspirational quotes’, and drafted the content at the start of the week.
We moved to France in 2017 and I will make an effort to have a conversation in French with my friends and neighbours. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because I know they have led such interesting and varied lives, and I want to hear their stories. So I have 2 hours of lessons on a Monday morning – which definitely helps to exercise the brain cells. Plus there is regular homework to fit into a testing day. But I’m not complaining, I just wish I could learn quicker so I could chat with the neighbours about something other than the weather! Big shout out toLaetitia Poulter my very patient French tutor.
As you have probably noticed, it’s been a while since I wrote my own blog, but only because I’m regularly creating blogs for my clients. Blogging can take up a lot of time, especially if the client wants a specific topic covered which requires extensive research. But I enjoy writing, and I have received some great feedback from my clients and their readers, which makes everything worthwhile.
Great website report by Shirley. Very thorough and easy to read and implement. It was essential to have a pair of expert eyes review my website and there were quite a few quick fixes that I made after Shirley’s report. The report covered loading speed, functionality, spelling, grammar amongst many other tests
A lot of my work comes as a result of the free business website reviews that I offer. I advertise the review service on my website and social media, and in particular, on several Facebook business groups. On average I can probably get through two website review per testing day. Anyone can ask for a review and they will receive my honest and unbiased feedback. I try not to criticise people because the majority of these business owners are individual entrepreneurs like myself, and have never built their own website before. So it’s a massive achievement for anyone to do that on top of all the other day to day business tasks, and taking care of their family.
However, there are those who seem to make it their daily mission to upset or publicly belittle others. And it was finding out how demoralised one of my clients felt when this happened to her that really brought home to me how distressing negative feedback can be. So I always word my feedback reports carefully, and I highlight the good points as well as the not so good. I also make a point of telling them that, at the end of the day, it’s only my opinion but as a visitor – and potential customer – to their website. If they don’t agree with the comments they don’t have to take any action, and I don’t get upset about it. In most instances, I’m happy to say that people do accept the feedback in the way I hope it should be taken, which is as constructive, not destructive, criticism.
So far, I have not had a bad review, but if and when I do then I will act on their comments, and respond in a positive and professional manner (whilst silently slapping myself around the head).
As I touched on earlier, some of my paid work comes from the free reviews. If someone has struggled to publish their website in the first place, it can be a daunting task having to make changes to fix any layout or navigation issues that I might have found. So they ask me if I can help them out. To be honest, this works well for everyone. I learn about different website design tools, apps and search engine optimisation (SEO), they get an improved site and their customers get a better user experience. It’s a win-win situation.
The biggest advantage for me in doing the website reviews is that I find out about new businesses, great products and services that I might not have noticed before. And I have even bought from a few of them! Whether I buy something or not, I will always try to ‘like and share’ their business pages and posts to give them a bit of a boost. If 2020 has taught me one thing, it is to try and support small businesses as much as possible.
Picky or perfectionist?
I have lost a client this year because they couldn’t keep up with home and business expenses during COVID-19 lockdown. I’ve heard of so many others that have closed permanently. And if it wasn’t for the fact that I can work from home, then it could easily have been me. The support of family, good friends and loyal clients has got us through this dreadful year. Yes, we have had to claim some help from the government during the worst months, but thankfully my regular client work has kept our heads above water. I have also been fortunate enough to pick up some software testing work for a large pharmaceutical company, thanks to a recommendation from an old work colleague. But testing in any shape or form makes me happy. I love finding bugs and helping to put things right. My husband says it’s because I’m picky and I have OCD, I prefer to say it’s because I’m a perfectionist. I’m still working on getting him right – but that’s another story and a different kind of testing day, and a long-term project!
I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog. If you didn’t like it please let me know. And if you did like it, then can you also let me know.
If like me you spend a lot of time reading from a screen you will appreciate well written content. And I’m not talking about potential eye-strain. This is about your content being readable. Whether it’s email, website text or a blog, reading from a screen can be difficult.
Let’s talk about blogs first, because generally they will be the longest and most frequently written. As well as being relevant and interesting, your blog posts have to be readable. If they’re not, then your audience probably won’t even finish reading them.
Know your audience
First of all, make sure your text is at the right level for your target audience. For example, when I prepare instruction manuals for system users I keep it simple. I write them as if every reader is a new user, and that way everybody will understand it. User Guides are a good example because they’re not just for trainees. Experienced users will refer to them too, especially if there is an area they’re not familiar with.
Blogging is the same. It’s easy for me to be enthusiastic about website testing because it’s my job. But if I’m going to write an article about how to improve your website, it has to be interesting and readable for my target audience.
Plan your paragraphs
When you’re starting any blog make it clear from the beginning what the topic is, then go into more detail as you continue writing. This helps the reader understand the concept of your article from the outset. Try not to make your paragraphs too long, and keep your sentences short as well.
How many times have you started to read something and had to start again because the sentences drag on? Sentences containing more than 20 words are considered to be too long. Also, if they are shorter there is less chance of you making grammatical errors.
Check out the example below. This paragraph is an extract from a Yoast.com blog post. I have edited it to show you how not to write a paragraph.
If you really want original pictures that fit your post you should make your own photos. Taking your own photos ensures that you’ll show an original picture; one that can never be found on another blog and on top of that this allows you to shoot a photo that truly fits the content of your post so if you’re blogging about your day-to-day life taking your own pictures is definitely the way to go. That also goes for food blogs or for a company blog or a technical blog or anything else for that matter, it’s much harder to take pictures that actually fit the content of the posts you’re writing.
Even with a few commas in there to break up the sentences, it is still very difficult to follow. The sentences are far too long. Think about how you have a conversation. You don’t talk without taking a breath, so why would you expect someone to read without punctuation?
This is the original, unedited version of the same paragraph.
If you really want original pictures that fit your post, you should make your own photos. Taking your own photos ensures that you’ll show an original picture, one that can never be found on another blog. On top of that, this allows you to shoot a photo that truly fits the content of your post. If you’re blogging about your day-to-day life, taking your own pictures is definitely the way to go. That also goes for food blogs. For a company blog or a technical blog, or for Yoast.com for that matter, it’s much harder to take pictures that actually fit the content of the posts you’re writing.
The other thing to consider is vocabulary. Try to limit the use of long words because if they have four or more syllables they are considered difficult to read. I have read articles where the author appears to have deliberately thrown in long words. It puts me off a bit because then I start to wonder whether they are just trying to be clever, or if they are trying to confuse me?
Of course, depending on your blog topic you might need to use advanced vocabulary and terminology. But if your paragraphs and sentences aren’t too long, then it should still be readable.
My business website is on WordPress, and there is a really useful tool that you can use to help create readable content. Yoast SEO checks the sentence and paragraph lengths as you’re writing. It also checks whether you are using enough transition words and sub-headings. These are all elements which make your content more readable.
It annoyed the hell out of me to start with, because I just could not grasp ‘transition words‘. But I’m fairly happy with this article at the minute, because I can see I have got two green traffic lights for SEO and Readability.
You probably use transition words quite naturally when you are speaking. However, it can be difficult to use them in the right place when you are writing. And when you are trying to include enough transition words to improve the readability, it’s very tempting to use the same ones. This is another ‘No-No’. Try to avoid repetition and using the same words over and over and over again.
Because I draft my blogs in a word or Google document, if I’m struggling to come up with an alternative word I use the inbuilt grammar and spell-checking tools. So to find a similar word I ‘right-click’ in my document and check out the synonyms. This will give you other examples of words that have the same or nearly the same meaning as the word you have highlighted. It’s really useful, and is yet another way to keep your readers happy, joyful and elated.
If you want your readers to get to the end of your blog post, make sure that your text is easy to read. Don’t make your text more difficult than you have to. Avoid long sentences and write clear paragraphs.
My top tip though is read whatever you have written out loud before you publish it. Reading on screen is difficult and it’s easy to miss spelling and grammatical errors. If you read it out loud it will also help you find sentences that are too long.
If you have enjoyed reading this article please ‘like and share’ to support a small business.
“Our aim is to help you improve the quality of your customer’s experience and increase the visibility of your business, by providing expert advice and offering a range of affordable solutions and services”.
Having previously written a couple of blogs which focused on Website Legalities for the small business owner, there are still a few questions that need to be answered. And in recent reviews of a couple of Wix websites, one of these questions is ‘How can I make my Wix Website cookie compliant?’
I’ll try and answer the Wix question and provide a little more background to it. Both of my clients’ websites were built using Wix ADI. This is a very simple website template which allows the non-technical business owner to design and manage their own website. And I admit, when I was updating their sites, it was very intuitive and easy to use.
The downside to that, is that to make the customer experience more personal you have to supply the website with certain personal and financial data. That is not to everybody’s liking, and certainly not mine. There have been instances where personal data has been shared to third parties, and people subsequently bombarded with spam and marketing emails. In some severe cases fraudulent payment transactions have occurred. And all this is from companies they have had no previous contact with.
So what does all this have to do with Wix and cookie compliance then? To protect personal data all websites have to inform their visitors about the cookies generated by their website, or by links to and from their website, for example to social media pages, and for analytical purposes. Some cookies are essential, others are non-essential and for marketing purposes.
If you want to quickly check how many cookies your website uses go to your browser and type in your website url. Click on the security padlock and you will see some site specific data displayed, including the number of cookies used by your site.
One of the tools I use during my website reviews that specifically checks for cookie compliance is CookieBot. Simple to use, no sign-up and in less than an hour you receive an email containing a summary of your website’s cookie compliance and a report on the types of cookies being used on your website.
If you are not compliant it will tell you the reasons why. In most instances it is because your site does not give the visitor options to accept, reject or manage the cookies. This is where your Cookie Banner comes in.
Wix Cookie Plug-in
So the two sites I reviewed that were on Wix did not display a cookie banner. For my business website I use WordPress and there are multiple free applications, or plug-ins that you can add which generate a GDPR-compliant cookie banner. I actually use the CookieBot plug-in because it’s free and has great reviews. I assumed that Wix would have a similar app and checked their support pages for Cookie Compliance information.
Surprisingly, although they have quite comprehensive information about preparing your Wix site for GDPR, unfortunately, the only Cookie banner add-on available is the Cookie Alert Pop-Up app. Unfortunately? Yes indeed. The average review rating for this ‘Wix-recommended’ app is 1.7 out of 5. And the reviews are appalling.
CookieBot to the rescue (again!)
Trawled the internet to find out how to resolve this, because I did not want my clients at risk of being fined for non-compliance. I couldn’t find a solution, but to cut a long story short, Emma Lawrence from Languedoc121techcame back with the answer!
CookieBot can be installed on your Wix site. Hurrah! But not on the Wix ADI version. Booo!
You have to switch to ‘Editor’ version, because to configure the cookie banner correctly you need to manually add in lines of code, and you cannot do this in Wix ADI. If you are not technical then do not try this at home.
Although the instructions are clear it is not something I would recommend anyone attempts if they are not tech-savvy. When I realised that I needed to switch to Editor version I had to ask my client’s permission. One client does not want to switch because she has only just mastered the ADI. So I have had to point out the risks and she accepts all responsibility. The other client accepted and the CookieBot plug-in has been successfully installed. Phew…
If when you check your Wix website you find it isn’t compliant do not load the Wix Cookie Alert. It is not EU compliant, and it cannot be uninstalled. Ask for help in installing a third party plug-in such as CookieBot. Preferably ask an experienced, professional web designer, such as Emma from Languedoc121tech.
So, along with my previous blog posts, with this one you should now have all the information at your finger tips to make your business website cookie compliant .
I hope this has helped. Yes, it’s long-winded, but I wanted to provide as much information as possible, but make it easy to read and understand. If I have missed anything, please let me know. Thank you for taking the time to read it.
Google My Business – profile and map for SAA IT Testing
As small business owners I’m sure we have all heard about Google and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). We might not fully understand SEO, because it’s a fairly complex subject all about algorithms, search terms and keywords. But if you want your business website to rank higher in search results, then employing a SEO expert will help do that. Although beneficial, it’s not something most small business owners can afford.
Large companies employ teams of SEO experts to monitor trends, research and analysis data, and constantly update and refresh site pages. For small businesses though, your best Local SEO friend is Google My Business (GMB).
What is Google My Business?
In a nutshell, GMB is a business listing on Google, similar to Yell.com or ‘Pages Jaunes’ in France. But the bonus with GMB is the advantageous local SEO that it brings with it.
GMB was developed to standardise the information that is displayed by Google in Google Search and Google Maps, so you can be found more easily by potential customers. It helps ensure that your customers have up to date information about your local business, for example your opening hours, address, and contact details. Additionally, you can add links to your business website, share posts, offers and other information the same as you can on social media. It also allows two-way communication between you and your customers by allowing them to create reviews and you to respond.
How does it work?
When you claim your business listing on GMB and you are verified as the owner of that address (you receive a letter in the post with a code to confirm in the GMB set up), you will be a named business location on Google Maps. Your GMB listing will be as detailed as you want it to be, and it will all be highly visible in three important Google areas:
Google Knowledge Graph
This is the box that displays your business information. When someone searches on your business name, this panel appears on the right-hand side of the Google Search Results. On mobile devices it will appear near the top. It’s a really useful summary of the information that is important to new and existing customers, especially if they want to contact you.
If you have several social media sites…Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest…your profiles in each one should be consistent. The same goes for Google My Business. And if you have a business logo – display it!
Make sure you have a profile image so you are more recognisable. Complete the profile section, making it relevant to your business, and appealing to your audience.
Google Local Park
These are the top Google listings that will appear below a map when someone searches for businesses in a particular location
Pinpoints your business on a map, with a summary of the address, opening hours and provides directions to your location.
As if that wasn’t enough, when you set up your GMB listing you get access to Google My Business Insights, which tells you how many people have searched for your sites, what they searched for and the number of page and post views.
You can also build a free, single-page business website. This doesn’t mean that it should replace a full-blown business website, especially if you are a hotel or tradesperson. These types of industries will need higher-quality design, comprehensive lists of services and professional photography The GMB version is very limited, but you can add a resume, products, images, services and prices. Use it as an extra social media platform. The ratings and reviews in particular will help your business rank higher in search results. So encourage your customers to give you feedback. Share GMB listing with them, link it to your business website.
Maybe our fear of criticism goes back to our school days. Spending hours writing essays only to have them marked and returned with lots of red lines and teacher’s comments.
I’ve also been subjected to a wide variety of appraisals and work reviews in the different organisations I have worked for. Most of them provided encouraging, constructive criticism and feedback, especially in my early years in the Civil Service. And yet I still used to dread the annual Performance Appraisal Reviews and the fear of criticism. I imagine we are all the same. We think – hope! – we are doing a good job, but when there’s a review on the horizon we start to worry about getting negative feedback.
I was very lucky to be assigned to experienced managers who understood the difference between constructive and destructive criticism and how it can affect a person’s self-esteem. Their feedback encouraged my personal development and gave me the confidence to take on new challenges throughout my career and in my personal life.
However, there is one incident which stands out in my mind more than any other because of the way it made me feel. Little did I realise that how I felt at that moment was going to influence how I treated people I worked with in the future.
In my first contract as a freelance Test Consultant I was working for a very large corporate company. The job meant I was working away from home, with people I didn’t know and learning a new complex system. Everything was different, I was way out of my comfort zone but wanted to make a good impression because this was the career I loved.
What I didn’t bank on was being assigned to a manager who let her personal life interfere with her professional life, to the extent that on her bad days, she publicly criticised and humiliated people. Less than a week into my new role, I was verbally attacked in a room full of people – because I had saved a file in the wrong place. She should have quietly point out the correct folder structure, but instead she shouted, finger-pointed and called me an ‘over-paid simpleton’.
I sat there open-mouthed and fighting back the tears. People were staring at me. I felt embarrassed and physically sick. I couldn’t even manage an easy escape because the door was the other side of the room. Instead I bit my lip, walked over to her desk, and I asked her quietly and apologetically if she could show me where the file should be. After correcting my mistake I walked down to the Ladies loo on the floor below and cried my eyes out. I had never felt so humiliated in all my life and convinced myself I was going to get sacked. I left work that day ready to pack my bags and even started looking for a new contract!
The next day she acted as if nothing had happened. No apology was ever forthcoming but it occurred so frequently, with different people, that eventually she was reported and moved to another area. Under a new, encouraging, more professional manager I became a team leader and stayed with that company for two years. I learnt new skills and gained knowledge and experience using new testing tools, but the most important thing I learnt was how to give feedback.
If you have single-handedly set up your own business, set up Social Media accounts, manage the financial affairs and created your own website, hats off to you. You deserve a massive pat on the back. It doesn’t matter what line of business you are in (unless you are a web designer!) or how well you are doing. You have successfully done something a lot of people can’t or won’t do for various reasons, and one of those reasons is fear of criticism.
When you’re starting out, you know a business website is an essential marketing tool, but a good web designer costs money – even bad web designers cost money! And although it’s a recognisable investment, if you can’t afford it, your only option is to go it alone.
There are lots of sites, like Wix and WordPress, which can help you create a simple, straight-forward website. Don’t let them fool you into thinking it’s an easy task. You still have to think about what pages you need, getting the right template, writing the content, uploading images, etc. Maybe that doesn’t sound too difficult, but if your website is going to stand out from your competitors then it needs to be aesthetically pleasing and easy to use.
So, now we’ve added a couple of plug-ins and widgets to improve the website ‘look and feel’ and it’s ready for publishing. Who are the first people we ask for feedback? Our friends and family of course. Because of our fear of criticism we can rely on them to be positive – and even if they are really honest, we know it will be in a nice, positive way. But does that mean we are already worrying too much about what other people think and, more importantly, what our customers think?
What is Criticism?
Negative criticism from an unqualified, uninformed source is of so little value that it’s meaningless. It makes zero sense to pay it any of your valuable attention.
As a small business owner we have to learn to deal with these fears, because as soon as your business is online it’s visible and open to criticism. So to survive it’s essential that you stop negative criticism from affecting you.
To do this try to understand more about the critic than the criticism. If they are an expert in their field then, even if their comment is negative, it might be something worth taking onboard. The key difference between criticism and feedback is our perception of it.
Criticism is often taken to mean that we are being judged by another person in a condescending manner. So when people are criticised by others it can be a fairly unpleasant experience for the receiver.
Destructive criticism doesn’t help anyone. In fact it can lower a person’s self-esteem and make them feel like a failure. Constructive criticism, on the other hand can help to develop the abilities of that person, and create a positive change.
What is Feedback?
Feedback is generally understood to be information that can improve the performance or development of a product or a person. For example, a company has released a new product on the market and wants to evaluate the public’s response. There are different ways to go about this. They might hold a small event where samples of the product are given to members of the public and they have to provide feedback. The company can then understand how well the product has been received and act on this feedback.
For people, a manager might give feedback in a personal appraisal, or to a group of employees when they complete a new project. A lot of companies hold one-off, end of project ‘Lessons Learned’ sessions. Key stakeholders are asked to provide feedback for the project as a whole – what went well or not so well and what can be improved.
Lessons learned is all about understanding what you all did right and what you all could have done better. It’s not about finger pointing. It’s about learning. And this is why, when I perform my business website reviews, my feedback report isn’t all about what is wrong with the website. It’s about pointing out what works really well and what can be improved.
I always ask for feedback and, from what I’ve received, the majority of my clients generally agree with my comments. Issues are fixed, suggestions for re-wording are applied, website layout and functionality is improved. A lot of the changes are quick, easy, inexpensive and effective.
Very occasionally they don’t want to make any changes, which is fine. I’m not going to force my opinions on anybody. However I will point out that if one of the issues is that your website is not legally compliant, then that is not just my opinion. It’s the law!
One of the reasons behind this post is a conversation I had recently with a new client. She admits she’s not technically minded but has still managed to build her own website. However, when she saw that someone on Facebook had left a rather derogatory comment, she was understandably upset and demoralised. Personally, having just started my review of the site, she has done a bloody good job and we’ll work together to make it even better!
If you’ve never received bad feedback maybe you don’t have a fear of criticism, and you’re incredibly lucky. Your parents and teachers must have been a lot nicer than mine. But next time you leave a review or a comment, if you know it’s a small business, try and be a bit more considerate. Your criticisms can be hurtful and demoralising. I appreciate it’s not always easy, especially if you’ve had bad customer service, but imagine how you would feel if you were being publicly humiliated.
I know how I felt and it’s not something I would even wish on my worst enemy.
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I’m not being totally disrespectful to cookies. There are some nice ones, but living in France I have now acquired a taste for macarons. The colours, the different flavours… Hmm, I’m going a bit off track here, because I should really be talking about browser cookies, and even they’re not all bad.
Following my article about Website Legalities and business websites having to display a cookie notice, I had a couple of questions from worried website owners. Personal Blog owners too should take heed because you also have to comply with the privacy laws.
What are browser cookies?
They’re not particularly dangerous and they can’t be used to steal your personal data. In fact browser cookies are generally harmless.
They store login details and other little bits of information on your computer from the different websites you have visited.
The information can only be read by the website that made the cookie, and it can only store details that you have given it. It can’t be used to get any other personal data from your computer.
How does Amazon know what I’m looking for?
Well, let’s use Amazon as an example. When you log into your Amazon account it stores the details you entered and shows you everything related to your account. The Amazon website also stores a cookie on your device that tells them what items you viewed last time you were there. So it’s only reading and sharing with you the information you gave it before.
In theory, a website could store your credit card as a cookie, because you gave it that information. But only the website where it’s stored can read it. Therefore the only real ‘danger’ is if someone physically has access to your computer because they can read the info. To be on safe side though, you should only provide personal and financial data to websites that you trust 100%.
Is a cookie a virus?
No, cookies are NOT viruses and no, you cannot catch coronavirus online either. (Believe me, I have seen that asked in one of the browser forums). Cookies are just simple text files. They can’t make copies of themselves and spread to other networks so they cannot be defined as a virus. They could be used as a form of spyware though because they store information about browsing history. That’s why a lot of anti-spyware products regularly flag cookies up for deletion.
Responsible web developers
Now we’re getting down to the privacy issues side of things. Responsible web developers will provide clear descriptions of how cookies are used on their site. There are different types of browser cookies, some are necessary and useful and can’t be refused, others such as third-party cookies usually get created if you frequent websites that display adverts from another website. Again these are not really bad cookies, because they help advertisers keep track of how many people are seeing their ads and whether a particular ad campaign is effective. Cookies can also limit the number of times as advert is shown and display ads in a particular order.
All new and existing business websites have to be compliant. And it’s not all the responsibility of your web hosting service. They can provide cookie data about their website but not yours, especially if you add links to other websites.
There are sites such as CookieBot which can analyse and report back on the cookies it finds on your website and tell you how intrusive they are. Then you have to decide how you use that information and the best way to obtain a user’s consent.
As a responsible business website owner you must:
inform users of the purpose of cookies,
obtain their consent,
provide users with a way to refuse them.
And if users do give their consent it is only legally for a period of 13 months maximum.
There are a number of WordPress plugins for cookie notices and plenty of websites out there offering to scan your site, continue to monitor it and provide bespoke cookie policies. Check out CookieBot and Termly.io
All this talk about cookies has got me thinking about macarons again. I’m gutted that the lock-down stopped me from attending a macaron baking workshop with Keith at Jambon de Printemps last month. But I’ll be the first to sign up for the class when everything gets back to normal.
Do you remember my last article on Website Legalities? It covered the privacy laws relating to Cookies and Privacy Policies and the mandatory details you have to display on your business website. If that was a lot to take in, well sadly for the individual entrepreneur there is a lot more you need to know.
For all activity types – Commercial, Craft and Regulated – your business website must display the following mandatory identity details:
Name and Surname
Telephone Number and Email Address
Name of the Director, and name of any co-director or editor if there is one
Name, company address and phone number of your business website host.
Additionally, for the type of activity you are registered to carry out, you must display the following mandatory Activity information:
Registration number in trade and companies register
Individual tax identification number
General Terms and Conditions of Sale, including price in euros, Tax, delivery costs, date of delivery, payment terms, after-sales service, right of withdrawal, duration of any offers, the cost for phone calls (standard call charges, etc).
Registration number in the trades directory
Or registration number in the register of companies of the chambers of trades in the departments of Moselle, Bas-Rhin and Haut-Rhin.
Reference to applicable professional rules
Indication of professional title
Name of the EU state in which the professional title was granted
Name of the order or organisation with which a registration was made
This article covers the information required for individual entrepreneurs. There are other mandatory requirements for companies registered in France. All the information for individuals and companies can be found on the Service-Public.Fr site.
Best case, if you don’t comply you will get fined €1500. But do you really want to be worrying about getting caught?
Worse case, if you’re found to be processing data without authorisation you could get 5 years’ imprisonment and a €300,000 fine.
I’m including this category for completeness. Personal blogs are slightly different. You are not obliged to reveal your identity, but you can still be fined.
If you decide to remain anonymous, then you only have to display the identity details of your website host. Your hosting company has to have your identification details in case of legal proceedings.
If you don’t want to remain anonymous then you have to provide your identification details. Name, Surname, Home Address, Phone Number and Email Address.
Non-compliance for personal blogs may result in a year in prison and a €75,000 fine.