Check It Out is a production house dedicated to providing our clients with simple, inexpensive, effective websites.
You don’t go to a tailor every time you want to buy clothes. Most of the time you grab something from the peg that is just as good, but much cheaper. We think the same applies to websites: Check It Out never ceases to be amazed at the exorbitant prices charged by some website design companies, and feels that this expense is unnecessary, and taking advantage of customers who are unfamiliar with the internet.
Similarly, trying to do it yourself for the first time, or using companies that offer ‘free’ DIY websites, can often leave you in a complete pickle, with an unprofessional, ineffective site.
For a fraction of the price, Check It Out can produce a website that is just as effective, and in some cases more effective, than those of our high-priced competitors.
Check It Out provides low-cost, simple, effective websites.
We set you up with a domain name, a hosting account, and build you an effective website using the ‘WordPress’ tool, which is perfect for websites and blogs. We also make sure the search engines like your site.
We keep the cost to you low by offering a choice of site templates, and a choice of colours. Check It Out has a great deal of experience in creating websites that work – conveying to the browsing customer exactly what is needed by the client, without unnecessary frills.
Small businesses, medium-sized businesses, start-ups, charities, families, book launches, photography studios, schools, weddings, parties, bar-mitzvahs! Primarily anyone who doesn’t yet have a website but wants a good one, fast and cheap.
We can also work with you if you have a site already but it’s not doing what you want it to.
Sure you can. There are lots of tools out there to help you – Dreamweaver, Microsoft Front Page, etc. Some web hosts like 1&1 offer free tools that purport to make websites simple to create with no experience or skill at all.
The problem is that despite the claims, you will probably not have the experience required to make the site as effective as it could be. We don’t want to insult you, but unless you’re a born natural, the site you produce is likely to make some ‘schoolboy’ errors that, without the experience offered by Check It Out, indicate amateurism to your customers. You will almost certainly not know how to make your site attractive to search engines. The design may be practical, but have poor navigation, and look clunky. And if you’re inexperienced, it could take you days or even weeks to put together. On purely a cost benefit analysis, we’ll save you money.
How do we know this? Well, because we’ve been making great sites with small and medium sized businesses for fifteen years now, and have seen it all before.
You may have heard about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). You may not know what it is. We’re here to help out.
(The following applies to all search engines, but I’m using Google here because despite its competition, it’s still the only one that really counts.)
In short, SEO is a way of making your site favourable to Google, which results in how high up in Google’s list of results your site will be for any given search term.
For example Joe’s Widgets sells, amongst other things, Headlight Fluid Filters. Now Joe likes the fact that he owns a widget company, and he may want people to be able to find “Joe’s Widgets” if they type that into Google. However he’s going to find a lot more new customers if his site – or more importantly the relevant page – appears in the first ten results if they type “Headlight Fluid Filters” into Google and actually find the product they’re looking for.
Then in a perfect world the person using Google goes to Joe’s site and buys a Headlight Fluid Filter.
To get Joe’s widget site to the upper echelons of Google’s results for “Headlight Fluid Filters”, then, the relevant page on his site needs to be optimised for this particular search phrase.
How do we do this? Well like I proclaim, I don’t want to blind you with jargon, so I’ll try to keep this simple. Google ranks any given web page for particular search terms (in this case “Headlight Fluid Filters”), using a term called “PageRank”.
The PageRank of Joe’s Headlight Fluid page is contributed to by various things: relevance of the page’s content to the search term (does it talk about Headlight Fluid and the filtration thereof?), how those terms are written on the page, the popularity of the site the page is on, how many other popular sites link to that site, how often people click Joe’s Widgets when it appears on Google after someone’s searched for “Headlight Fluid Filters”, and many other criteria, which change almost on a weekly basis.
It’s a job to keep up with all this, because Google never tells anyone what it’s changing, so everyone in my profession has to try to work it out!
In order to persuade Google to give your site and its relevant pages a decent PageRank, there are many “off-site” activities that you can do that involve getting people to link to your site, setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts and so on. These are activities that we can certainly help with, but are not part of the website deal
What is part of the deal is to build the site in a Google-friendly way in the first place, which goes a long, long way to helping you. This means building a website that Google will instantly like, and then when it’s ready telling Google that it exists. We then wait a few days while Google’s minions (little programs called ‘bots’) crawl all over the site like spiders and send what they find back to the Google database for processing.
All of this can be tracked, and we will provide you with the means to see who is finding you on Google, how many people find you, and where they all are. And we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Sorry the answer to this FAQ is so long. I promise you it’s about the shortest I could possibly make it without resorting to jargon!
Design agencies are great! They employ people who are keen, passionate, and usually immensely talented. However, it does not follow that such people should be building your website. Think about it: if you’re the next Leonardo, Picasso or Damien Hirst, are you going to be content with sticking content into a simple, elegant template, or would you rather embellish it with things that really underline your talent?
I know what I’d do if I had that kind of artistic ability.
Bucking convention is also a mistake made by talented designers working on the web. “Hey, instead of having the words ‘Contact us’, why not put a picture of a rugby ball (because it’s a ‘Contact’ sport)?” Well, in our opinion, this sort of thing is a very silly idea. Give your site’s visitors what they expect to see, and they will be able to use your site effectively. Confuse them, and you’ll lose them.
And of course, paying such talent isn’t cheap. Add to this the fact that many design agencies have come to the web from the medium of print, and don’t necessarily understand what makes an effective site, and you can make an expensive – but beautiful – mistake.
A “domain name” is the word for the unique address of your website – for example www.joeswidgets.co.uk. If you want a website, you have to have one.People talk about ‘buying’ a domain name (also known by the sexy acronym ‘URL’ – for unique resource locator) but actually you rent one on an annual (or multi-annual) basis, for a very low cost. Our service will rent a domain name on your behalf for one year, but once you’re renting it you can renew it over and over again for next to nothing. If you let it expire though, someone else can – and probably will – snap it up.
The slight drawback to choosing a domain name is that there are billions of websites already, each with a different domain name, and the one that you want may already be being used by other people – and more often than not your first choice has already been taken. You may be lucky and find that www.joeswidgets.co.uk is available, but if not we’ll work with you to find something that is as close as possible to your first choice.
In order for the internet to see your website, it must be on a computer that is visible to the rest of the internet. This is known as a ‘web host’. You may already have a host, but if you don’t, Check It Out can help. Check It Out does not provide this service directly, but we are resellers of a company that does (the service agreement is therefore between you and this company). Again, it is very inexpensive – less than £10 a month, including email addresses. We can’t provide a legally binding guarantee, but we have used this company for the past ten years with no problems at all.
What if I already have a hosting account?
Check It Out Ltd’ low prices are based on a fixed model: we use DreamHost because we know its capabilities. If you have already bought a hosting account with a different company, it might be as easy as DreamHost, or more tricky. That doesn’t mean we can’t help.
We would prefer to open a DreamHost account for you and transer your site there. That would be the preferred solution. However if you’ve already paid for a year or so, we could try to work within the restrictions of your current host. Some hosting companies (such as 1&1) offer similar features, albeit in a less convenient form, while for others the account holder is on his/her own. We can certainly work with a different host, but might have to charge accordingly.
You have no doubt seen some fancy animations on high budget sites. You know, the kind where you hit the ‘SKIP’ button to get past it to see the content?
That’s made in a programming language called ‘Flash’, from the Adobe company. It’s a brilliant medium, and can do some awesome things with sounds and animations and interactivity.
But it is really quite rubbish for regular business sites. We’re not against Flash per se. It has many uses – product demonstrations, games, etc. But that fancy introductory animation I mentioned probably cost the client upwards of five hundred quid. All for something that the user is invited to – and almost always does – ‘SKIP’. It’s like having someone dancing in front of the door of your shop that you have to move aside before you can go in.
What’s the point of that? Check It Out believes introduction pages are a waste of time, bandwidth and money, and usually serve only to boost the egos of the designer and the person commissioning the design. Web users are notoriously impatient, and putting any barrier in between them and your content is likely to lose you visitos.
Then you have sites that are entirely designed in Flash. They look fantastic! Bits of the page spin around and make noise and jump all over the screen. But they are self-enclosed sites that the user has little control over: which usually means that if you reload or bookmark the site, you have to go back to the beginning and re-navigate to find out where you were. Not only that, but you can’t copy a relevant link to send it to your friends, business colleagues, or prospects. And if someone’s on a slow connection, they’re a complete pain in the arse to load in.
Next, Flash is being phased out at the moment. Most mobile devices (iPads etc.) can’t use it, and more and more developers are moving to the next big thing, HTML5, which is non-proprietary.
Finally, one of the biggest reasons to reject Flash-heavy websites: search engines can see some versions of Flash, but have problems indexing them. Your three-thousand quid Flash site might just as well be a brochure hidden at the bottom of a filing cabinet if Google can’t see it.