Blog - Spartan Website Design | Expert Digital Marketing Services Exeter | UK

Specialising in proven eCommerce websites for online retailers.

SINCE 2007

5 Ways to Improve Your Website Homepage

Your homepage is often the first impression a potential customer has of your business and the experience they have when they land on your homepage can make or break their decision to do business with you. The job of the homepage is to reflect, at a glance, what your business does, to reassure your visitors you are a reliable provider of what they are looking for, and to give a great first impression through a design and user experience which reflects your USP and place in the market. There are several key areas to think about when looking at your homepage with a critical eye.

Is your Homepage Navigation Clear?
Once visitors land on your homepage do they know what to do next? They won’t know what pages to view next or what actions to take if you don’t provide them with direction. Nurture your users with clear navigation and intuitive calls-to-action which help solve their problems as well as providing them with solutions. If you sell women’s clothing for example, it needs to be easy to get to the item of clothing they are looking for (or to be inspired) from your homepage.

Does Your Homepage Look Good on All Devices?
To give your visitors the best experience of your website it needs to be responsive to whichever device they are using to browse. A responsive website automatically reshapes and resizes itself depending on the device your site is being viewed on, as well as adjusting the navigable elements to suit the device (such as simplifying menu bars and product displays for a mobile). Read our blog post on responsive websites to find out more.

Are your Visuals Appealing to your Audience?
If you expect a visitor to invest in your brand you need to make sure you’ve invested in it too. This means a well designed logo and high quality images which show off you, your staff or your products in the best possible light. Don’t be tempted to have a go at product photography, use a professional photographer who has experience in your field of work.
Is your Content Simple and Powerful?
A new website visitor needs to get a feel for your offering in just a few seconds, so your copy needs to be clear and appealing. Avoid the use of jargon or ambiguous terminology and don’t waffle! Say what you do and state your mission clearly. The homepage is the place to give a great first impression, not your company history, so keep to the point. If you’re not great with words, use a copywriter.

Can you Gain Trust Easily?
Whether your brand is new or old, people don’t trust so much what you say about your company, they trust what other people say. They need reassurance that your brand is genuine, especially if they are expected to make a payment online. It’s all about peer to peer reviews these days and this trend is growing, so you need to make it easy for people to see endorsements when they arrive on your homepage. You can pay for third party review sites like Trust Pilot or Feefo, but you can also collect reviews from Facebook and embed them onto your site or include a customer quote. Your social media channels help to gain trust in your brand since they offer a way for potential customers to find out more about you. Make sure you link to your social media channels from your homepage and keep them updated with relevant, interesting content which reflect your brand and values.

A warning sign that your website homepage is not performing well is an extremely high bounce rate (over 70). If you are getting lots of visitors to your website and they are mostly leaving after just a few seconds on your homepage something is wrong!

Here at Spartan we’re experts in creating websites which provide an excellent user experience, so get in touch here if you are concerned about your existing website and want to chat through your options.

How will GDPR affect your business?

In three months time, a new regulation is coming into force and replacing the Data Protection Act. This year, on May 25th The General Data Protection Act (GDPR) will be considered the new law and you will need to be compliant or you will face major fines; 4% of your global revenue or £20 million- whichever is greater. But this is nothing to worry about as at Spartan Website Design, we are here to help…

GDPR is there to help enhance your security and make sure your data and business is protected. This will mean that all your software will need to be up-to-date to ensure the protection of your devices. This will benefit your business as you will be at less of a risk of a cyber attack.

If your business processes any personal data or information then you will need to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO). They will have the authority to look at your data protection systems and processes to make sure you are being compliant to GDPR. Alongside this, they will have the authority to remove data and find data in a secure manner. Consumers will now have the right to be forgotten- so if they request any personal data you have on them, you will need to produce this within 1 month and allow them the option to remove the record.

Your website as a business will need to change too. When GDPR comes into action, your Cookie Policy will need an opt-out button to allow people who visit your site to decide whether to opt-in and let your website store their cookies, or they can opt-out. This means you will need a new Cookie banner on your website; with the option of reading the policy and deciding whether to accept or reject it.

For more information about GDPR, you can visit the ICO website or give us a call on 01392 539448 to talk about your website being secure.

Exciting News for Spartan Website Design

Firstly, Happy New Year from all of us at Spartan Website Design – can you really believe it is now 2018? Between all of the projects we’re working on for our existing clients, and welcoming new clients, 2017 seemed to go by in a flash!

Well, in the spirit of the “New Year, New You” mantra that seems to prevail at this time of year, we wanted to share some really exciting news that will see a slight change (for the better!) here at Spartan – We have new owners!

Our new owners currently run a marketing, branding and website design agency in Northamptonshire and have a fantastic in house team of developers, designers, marketers and account managers who are all passionate about websites, design & marketing!

Spartan will retain a presence in Exeter, offering bespoke eCommerce website services to business throughout the region but will now also have a head office in Northamptonshire meaning we can now offer more business throughout the UK, cost effective eCommerce websites and digital marketing solutions.

Website design has become a fundamental way to promote your business or market your product. With 92% of the UK population having regular access to the internet – more than ever, there is a real importance in ensuring you have an accessible platform for your clients and customers. GuruFocus, who have reported on The Office of National Statistics, outline that online sales grew by 21.3% in 2016 and over 30% in 2017 – showing a growing trend for consumers shopping online.

Furthermore, GuruFocus report that by 2018, 18% of all retail sales will take place online and by 2040, it is thought 95% of purchases will be facilitated by e-commerce. With greater choice online for consumers, it shows just how important it will be to ensure your business not only has an online shop, but that it is on a website which is easy to navigate with clear product choices and that is safe and secure to check out on. Without this, businesses will be sure to lose out on valuable business – which is vital when more consumers are moving away from the high streets and on to the World Wide Web.

With a new head office brimming with designers, developers and account managers – we’re all extremely excited at the prospect of working with a whole host of new businesses.

To our existing clients – nothing will be changing… just a few more of us which means more knowledge & expertise and more resources, making us a better agency for your businesses needs!

To talk to the team about the changes at Spartan or to have a chat about an exciting new project just give us a call on 01392 539448.


10 Ways for Online Retailers to Increase Christmas Sales

If you’re a retailer, it’s essential to make sure your website and digital marketing activities are in place to maximise online Xmas sales. In this blog post we share some top tips on getting prepared to maximise sales this Christmas.

1. Website

Is your website up to the job? If you want to retain your customer’s interest once you have attracted them, you need a website which is responsive (resizes depending on what device it is viewed on), is easy to modify (so you can update prices and stock easily), provides you easily with all the stats you need (so you can easily see what your most popular products are and order more stock) and provides a seamless, user friendly experience. Make sure that all of your products use great images and share key product information. There’s a lot of competition out there at Christmas, so if your website isn’t working for you, it’s time to change it!

2. Cart Abandonment Rates

To lower the dreaded cart abandonment stats this Christmas, there are some great plugins you can add to your retail site to help bring customers back to finish their purchase. This works well if people were merely distracted whilst checking out, rather than having a complete change of heart. The Auto Abandonment module plugin sends an automatic follow up by email to those who abandoned their basket. Read more about it on our previous blog post here. (

3. Google Presence

Do the Google test and type into the Google search engine (in an incognito window) what a potential buyer might be looking for on your website. If you come up on page 2, or worse, not at all, it’s vital that you enhance your Google presence.  As well as improving your SEO to help with organic search results, use Search Ads and Google Shopping to attract people searching for your products.

4. Ad Budget and Settings

If you’re already running Google Adwords campaigns it is worth upping your spend over the Christmas period to increase your sales. Don’t forget to make sure you have enough stock to deal with an increase in sales!

It is also worth reviewing the setup of your Ad campaigns. Are the settings matching your target audience? Make sure your location targeting is set up correctly to concentrate your efforts where your products sell best. Are your Search Ads appearing within the top 4 positions, or do you need to increase your bids? Or it could be that you’re paying too much for your search terms.

5. Monitor Search Queries

Are you monitoring search queries on a weekly basis? It doesn’t take long to do this, and by knocking out irrelevant keywords used when people search for your products, you can really help to minimise wasted clicks and get the maximum return on your budget.

6. Be Visible and Visual in the Search Results

Any online retailer would be well advised to use Google Shopping. It’s ideal for showcasing your products, making it easy for people to buy. Many people start with Google Shopping and might not ever make it onto the search results if they find what they are looking for.

7. Social Media Content Planning

It’s almost a dead cert that you’ll already be using social media to raise awareness of your brand and products. Plan ahead and make sure that in the lead up to Christmas you push your popular products by mentioning their key features, benefits and endorsements. Make sure your social media accounts are linked to your website – people will often head over to social media to see what people are saying about your brand before buying. Don’t forget to keep your customers well informed across all of your social media platforms regarding the last postage days on last minute orders.

8. Social Media Advertising

Don’t just rely on Google Ads. Social Media advertising is also a great way to reach beyond your existing audience and increase web visitors and sales. You can do very detailed targeting on both Twitter and Facebook: narrowing down your audience by location, age, interests and job titles.

9. Stay Top of People’s Minds

People do a lot of browsing in the run up to Christmas, looking for the ideal gifts. If you want to make sure people are reminded of your products, remarketing is a powerful tool. Remarketing works by retargeting your website customers with adverts about your business as they browse the web. Remarketing ads can be set up within both Google Adwords and in your Facebook Ad Manager. For your ads to show on Facebook, install your Facebook pixel code onto your website. Read our blog post on remarketing here ( Don’t let potential customers forget your website!

10.  Email Marketing

Do you have an email marketing list? If so you should be planning your content for the Christmas run-up period now. Use your enewsletter over the next few months to push your popular products, explaining their key features and benefits. Make sure you send an e-shot in early December regarding last postage days, so your customers don’t miss out. Also ensure your newsletter sign up link is on your website so visitors can easily join your list.

We hope you found these tips helpful and we wish you a busy trading period in the run up to Christmas. If you need a more user friendly eCommerce website that makes it easier to sell, it’s what we specialise in, so get in touch and find out how we can help.

Top Tips for Creating SEO Powered Content

Do you think about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) when creating content for your website? Does the topic of SEO bore you, worry you, feel too abstract or make you think it’s something for the IT gurus to worry about? If you’re a content creator for your business, SEO should be a major factor in every single word, sentence and page you write for your website. In this blog post we’ll be sharing our top tips on how to create web content to help you get in the coveted top organic search results for your most relevant keywords.

1) Keyword research. Do you have a list of the keywords connected with your business, the keywords that potential customers will actually use? If not, it’s time to develop one and ensure these words get frequent use in your web content. Although obvious repetition and keyword cramming is to be avoided, it’s worth staying focussed on what your main keywords are and naturally weaving them into your writing.

2) Images. Whenever you use images make sure they are relevant, eye catching and purposeful. Make sure you have filled in the image title and description, as well as the alt text, which should describe what’s on the image. This is great for SEO purposes since Google places a relatively high value on alt text to determine what is on the image and also to determine the topic of surrounding text. It also makes your image accessible, since screen readers for the blind and visually impaired will read out the alt text.

3) Links. Referencing other reputable websites and featuring recent material, is a great way of increasing your chances of being found by search engines. Keep up to date with links though – there’s no point adding a link if it’s broken.

4) Write well. Copywriting is a skill, and if it’s not one you possess it’s time to learn, or to pass the content creation work onto somebody else. To keep your reader’s interest, your content needs to have a natural flow – blog posts where readers get bored quickly and bounce off after a few second won’t do you many favours. Make sure you avoid spelling mistakes and grammatical errors too, else it won’t do your reputation much good.

5) Short Paragraphs. A general rule of thumb when writing web content is to keep your paragraphs short, aiming for around two to five sentences. This helps you stay focussed on what you really need to say and makes them visually more accessible to the reader.  Even if you are writing a lengthy blog post, it’s a good idea to use short paragraphs to avoid losing your reader’s attention.

6) Subdivide your content. As with short paragraphs, another way to keep your reader’s attention and help them to focus is to use subheadings, lists or bullet points. This also helps you, the author, to stay focussed and hopefully, to naturally gather in more relevant keywords into your content.

7) Write Relevant Content. Finally, nothing beats writing relevant content. This might seem obvious, but a recent study revealed that 72% of marketers said relevant content creation is the most effective tactic when creating an SEO strategy, so it’s worth staying on topic.

If you have any other tips for improving the SEO worthiness of web content, let us know.  In the meantime, if you need help improving your website, get in touch.

How To Improve Your Abandon Cart Stats

We all know the frustration of looking at the web stats and seeing the, sometimes large, proportion of customers who got as far as the cart and then whoosh, disappeared. Where did they go? Was dinner calling, lunch break up, a giant hot air balloon landing in their back garden momentarily distracting them from their purchase? It’s hard to know in most cases what prevents someone from completing their purchase, but there are some useful tools which can help bring those people back from their state of abandon to become a fully fledged, signed-up customer.

One thing to ensure is that your website has the checkout experience as smooth and easy as possible, otherwise it’s possible your ‘almost customer’ lost interest in pursuing their purchase. Your website needs to be easy to select the product, simple to see and click on the basket and ensuring the checkout experience is as easy as possible.

So if, despite your best efforts, you’re still seeing people drop out before they finish their purchase, it’s time to intervene. As well as Google Remarketing, which we covered in our last blog post, there are some great plugins you can add to your retail site to help bring customers back to finish their purchase. One allows you to auto email people who got as far as entering their email address to remind them their basket is waiting. This is very effective and does work to draw people back who were merely distracted during the checkout process rather than having a complete change of heart.

We hope you found this blog post useful. For help with setting up an effective online route to purchase and all aspects of the creation of an online retail website, get in touch.

Google Remarketing

In our last blog post we looked at Google Shopping, a powerful way of attracting a potential buyer. But what happens if a buyer is attracted to your site but doesn’t buy there and then? How do you remind a potential customer of your product once they have left? The answer is remarketing.

The chances are, if someone is browsing the internet for a product, that they will visit several websites before making a decision. Remarketing is a way of reminding a customer about your product or service once they have left your site, and hopefully whilst they are still considering their purchase in the coming days or weeks.

You’ve probably seen remarketing ads before. They’re the image based ads which follow you around the internet as you browse, advertising a product or website you have viewed in the previous days or weeks. The websites they appear on have signed up to host Google Display Ads.

To set up remarketing you need to have a bit of technical know-how. Firstly you define the audience you want to target within Google Analytics and then you import it into your Google Adwords account. If your website numbers are quite small or you want to keep things quite general you can keep your remarketing audience as anyone who has visited your site. If you have bigger website hits you can create an audience as specific as anyone who has abandoned the shopping cart (you need at least 100 visitors to create an audience). The great thing about remarketing ads is that you are only charged when someone clicks on your ad, hence a potential customer may have your advert popping up several times reminding them of your product, without it even costing you anything.

Although the click through rate on remarketing ads is generally quite low, they are performing the very useful role of reminding people of your product as they consider their purchase. People may well end up revisiting your site through an organic search of your business name too. Remarketing ads are a great way of bringing potentially lost leads back to your websites.

Tips: Make sure the remarketing ad you create reflects the audience you have targeted. 

We are currently offering Free Google Adwords Audits through our digital marketing partner. This will include advice on whether remarketing is right for your business – get in touch for more info.

Google Shopping – a Retailer’s Guide

In our last blog post we looked at Google Search engine ads, one of the most popular methods of getting traffic to your website. In this blog post we’ll be introducing a very important channel for retailers: Google Shopping.

What is Google Shopping? Google Shopping campaigns put your product images, price and business name right in front of people searching on Google making it great for retailers. The ads appear alongside Google search results when people search for the products you’re selling, making them a powerful way of attracting a potential buyer.

If you sell products it’s worth setting up some or all of your products on Google Shopping. You only pay when people click through to visit your website or view your local inventory, making it very cost effective. Google Shopping ads work on all devices and will take people directly to where the specific product page is, making it easy for them to buy.

You’ll need to work with your website developers to set up a feed of your products that goes into Google Merchant Center. This then syncs with your Google Adwords account to make a Pay-Per-Click campaign within Google Shopping. You can then manage your Search Engine Ads and your Google Shopping Ad campaigns from the same place.

Tips: Make sure you have described your product with all relevant product keywords in the title and description, as Google matches search queries to the keywords in the title and description.

We are currently offering Free Google Adwords Audits through our digital marketing partner. This will include advice on your existing Google Shopping campaigns or advice on whether Google Shopping is right for your business – get in touch for more info.

Google Ads – How Search Engine Ads Work

Having a website with no visitors is like having a shop with no footfall. There are several ways to get traffic to your website and in this blog post we’ll be introducing one of the main channels: Google Ads. There are lots of different ways of setting up ads in your Google Adwords account but the most popular method is Search Engine Ads.

So what are Search engine ads? These ads are the ones which respond to a user’s search on Google, appearing in the top 4 slots below the users search and the bottom four slots on page 1. Even if your website is brilliantly designed and has top notch search engine optimisation (SEO), the best position you can get to without paid Google advertising is the top position below the 4 ad slots.

If you’re serious about getting potential customers to your website you need to be aiming for one of the top 4 ad positions AND position 1 of the natural search results! The great thing about search engine ads is that, if set up correctly, your ad should only be appearing to people who are actively seeking your product or service. What’s more, you only pay if people click on your ad (even if they click on it more than once, you pay for 1 click).

Tips: When setting up your search engine ad campaign it’s best to run it to the search network only (by default it’s set by the search and display). It’s also worth being aware of how keyword matching and negative keywords work and to write compelling ad text which makes potential customers want to click and saves on wasted clicks!

We hope you found this useful. Watch this space for next month’s blog post on another great advertising feature in your Google Adwords account: Google shopping – great for retailers.  For advice or help setting up your Google Adwords account, get in touch.

We are currently offering Free Google Adwords Audits through our digital marketing partner – get in touch for more info.

How to Drive Traffic to Your Website

You’ve set up your website, it’s modern, responsive, well designed and slick, with killer branding and excellent copy. You’ve thought about your customer base with images and wording which reflect the lifestyle your brand represents and resonates well with your target audience. So what next?

Challenge number two is driving traffic to your website, and we don’t mean any old traffic, we mean visitors who will really get your products and are most likely to take action. Your website has huge advantages over a physical store since it can make it’s presence known without paying the business rates for a high footfall location. Whilst only the big brands can afford to open their doors on Oxford Street, it’s more of a level playing field online. If you have a great product, a savvy marketing plan and use your budget wisely, your online business will be going guns in no time!

There are three main channels which we’d advise using to drive traffic to your website. The first is Google Advertising via a Google Adwords account, the second is social media marketing (paid advertising as well as regular posting) and the third is email marketing.  These three channels attract potential customers in different ways and allow you to capture people’s interest at different points in their customer journey.

Google Adwords has the advantage of showing your ads to people who are active seekers. If you have set up your Adwords account correctly your advert will only appear to people who are looking for the product or service you are offering.  Social media marketing and email marketing are both ways of generating interest about your product or service amongst customers or potential customers who aren’t actively seeking what you offer.

Over the next few blog posts we’ll be going into more detail on the different ways you can drive traffic to your website and the different website features which can help generate traffic. Watch this space!

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