A word from Manage My Website's founder, Allie Astell.
It's almost 6 years since I came up with the idea of Manage My Website and to celebrate this milestone we've now launched our brand new website. Editing, updating and transferring the content was like reading a diary, and it fascinated me.
The digital world we live in now is dramatically different to the one I knew back in 2009, but our client-centred philosophy has never changed. Here's a round-up of the changes we've seen.
Website Design, Build and Management
Squarespace was a relatively new template driven, cloud hosted concept that was much easier for people with no real technical knowledge to use, and I started experimenting with it. Back then they were on version 5 and when you view our portfolio you'll see that many of the early websites we built are still active. The themes were simple and quite limited, but it was easy to flex them into something entirely different and that's what appealed to me.
Squarespace has moved on beyond recognition and was even advertised at the Super Bowl 2015 in a collaboration with Hollywood legend Jeff Bridges. I'm grateful that we were with them almost from the beginning, because now it's one of our specialities and the demand is massive.
We're now using Squarespace 7 which is much easier to use, with drag and drop functionality, text, image and code blocks, social media, MailChimp integration and e-commerce capabilities. The templates these days are fully responsive on all devices, and they're stunning. The fact that we can make them look bespoke by coding with CSS is also a real bonus. Lots of agencies now use our Squarespace web design and training services as well as private clients.
As there used to be no e-commerce facility within Squarespace, we would either integrate another online shopping facility (such as Wazala) into our websites for clients with a lower budget, or we'd build using open source platforms using Zen Cart or WordPress with a shopping plugin for those who could spend more. All of these options served us well at the time and we created some beautiful pieces of work, but the admin areas were pretty ugly and sometimes difficult for our clients to pick up.
Nowadays there's a wealth of choice at our disposal, and many of them are cloud-hosted and template driven. Shopify is the market leader in this area, and has become another one of our specialities. With thousands of beautiful responsive templates, extra apps for just about everything, and an attractive and easy to use admin area, it's definitely worth considering if you want to start selling online. Again through some clever coding via .liquid the themes can be changed very easily.
Squarespace now also offers e-commerce functionality by integrating with Stripe, although at the moment it's a little less flexible than Shopify as it was never truly geared around online shopping. However if you're only selling a few products it's definitely worth considering.
Social Media Marketing
It's actually difficult to remember how things were social media wise back in the day. The only websites to consider were Facebook and Twitter, so I set up pages on both and they could only be managed via my Mac as smartphones were yet to make their explosion into our lives.
I remember writing a little blog excitedly asking my clients to join me on Twitter and I would spend hours researching how it worked. It was through Twitter that I ended up becoming an expert for Startup Donut, writing for the HSBC newsletter and networking with like-minded web savvy people to increase my knowledge in this up and coming area.
In terms of Facebook, it was a time when our updates went to our entire audience and we didn't have to pay for promoted posts or further reach. Pages could be advertised, but if someone liked your page they received every update into their newsfeed. Halcyon days some would say.
Most businesses at that time didn't see the benefit of marketing their services via social media, so I started to provide a consultancy and training service for those that were more forward thinking.
And now? With most businesses now realising the dramatic impact social media can make on both their PR and sales, managing pages and creating strategies for our clients has become big business. Of course there are still the old favourites - Facebook and Twitter - but now most companies also need a presence on Google +, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, And YouTube, all of which should be used very differently.
Reaching the people you need to on Facebook is no longer free, as they limit the visibility of every post, and unfortunately perhaps this is the way things will go across many of these channels.
In an age when the majority of the world's population is online 24/7 via their smartphones and tablets, social media is now crucial for business. And the hashtag # is king.
Having started off marketing myself as a freelance Web Consultant in 2009, I soon realised that with the amount of work coming in I'd need a strong team of suppliers to carry out the work coming in on a daily basis. So I selected the best graphic designers and web developers I could find, all UK based. But as the business grew, project managing everything myself grew harder and harder.
As you'll see from our 'Team' page we've now recruited our 'Go to Girl' Kirsteen Mahmoud. She'll be managing our marketing, admin, accounts and client relationships. My other colleagues Martyn, Ruben, J and Valentino are also second to none in their respective areas and have been selected for their vast knowledge, experience, attention to detail and proactive approach. Like me, their passion for their work is obvious.
From Squarespace to Shopify, WordPress to ExpressionEngine, and all things related to web maintenance, branding and social media consultancy, we excel in providing our clients with exactly what they're looking for. We go beyond the call of duty for each and every project we take on.
Technology might have changed, but the same business values apply
Rebuilding our website from Squarespace 5 to Squarespace 7 was one of the most challenging and thought provoking jobs I've ever done. It was like reading a diary and it made me remember how much Manage My Website has been through over the years and how much we've had to learn in a relatively short time.
If you'd to find out how we can help you, please get in touch.