Top Tips to Handle Any Small Business Challenge with Ease

small business challenges

Small business challenges can come in many guises—client complaints, cash flow issues, faulty software, even government audits. To run a successful business, you need to be resourceful and up for the challenge. We’ve put together some top tips to help build your company’s resilience in the face of these common small business problems.


Many small businesses begin as a self-employed or sole-trader operation, and before you know it, you have staff, a commercial property lease and possibly loans for plant and equipment. The increased financial risk can creep up on you and without proper protections in place, you could lose everything. Registering a limited liability company is essential to protect your personal assets – it puts a firewall between you and your business.

Business insurance is another means to protect yourself if something goes wrong. Types of cover include liability, commercial property and business interruption (which covers you for events like natural disasters).


Cloud-based accounting software has turned the often dreary task of invoicing and bookkeeping into something almost fun. Ok, maybe not fun, but at least a lot more efficient! Platforms such as Xero and MYOB allow you to not just keep the books, but to analyse your cash flow and get a clearer picture of your financial position. Well-presented invoices and statements also help to market your business as a professional operation.


As your company grows, the management expectations increase. Many business owners come from a background of self-employment, and may not have the necessary people management skills the business now demands. That is why training is such an essential component in any successful company. Whether it’s a management course, product training for new employees, sales workshops or an industry conference—upskilling helps you and your staff stay engaged and ready to take on new opportunities as they arise.


A classic small business problem is time management. It's easy to get distracted by incoming demands on your time and before you know it, the day is gone and you haven't even got to your to-do list. 

One strategy to take control of your workday is to actively book out time for yourself – schedule it into your calendar. Prioritising is another useful skill—focus on the tasks that will achieve the biggest gains for your company. 


One of the challenges for small business owners is maintaining a professional level of service with minimal staff. A common misjudgement is to do everything yourself and save money. This can be a good strategy for some tasks, but sometimes the best option is to hire a professional and get the job done quickly and to a high level. A good example is website design, where a DIY effort could leave a negative impression on potential clients before they've even made contact with you. Graphic design work, such as your company logo and branding, is another task best left to the professionals, as it’s generally a one-off expense and having outside input on your company's ‘look' can be invaluable. 


Small business marketing challenges invariably revolve around cost. Large scale campaigns are beyond the budget for many small businesses, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a marketing strategy. Online promotion through social media channels, sales landing pages and simple SEO techniques can offer good exposure to your target audience for minimal cost.  Social media marketing is one area where a hands-on approach can yield good results. Customers seek authenticity and by providing a consistent stream of posts, images and videos on your customer’s preferred channels, you’ll help build up your company’s identity and increase traffic to your business.

We hope these tips have been helpful. For further advice on internet marketing, website development and graphic design, drop us a line here at Activate Design – we’ve been helping local small business since 2003.



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5 Best Practices When Designing a Header for Your Website

graphic design

The header is the first thing users see when they visit a website. It typically contains the business’s brand name and logo, and it can also be used to help visitors navigate the site’s contents with ease. Because of this, it’s essential to create an attractive and functional header to provide a consistent and positive user browsing experience. However, designing a unique header is challenging. With so many design factors and ideas to consider, it’s easy to get lost in the process. 

Here's a guide to help simplify the header designing process:

1. Highlight the Important Elements
The header must contain meaningful information about the brand. This way, users will have an idea of what type of website the business is running, allowing them to scroll through each page with a clear goal in mind. Aside from the company’s name and logo, the following elements should also be emphasised:

  • Navigation links
  • Search button
  • Call to action
  • Contact information
  • Social media icons
  • Multi-language toggle (if necessary)

Take note that these elements will vary depending on the website. For example, if the site is handled by a non-profit organisation, there should be a “donate now” section on the header. On the other hand, if it’s an online retail site, a shopping cart must be added.

2. Use Readable Fonts

Although using dramatic fonts does give the website a unique edge, a lot of users may find it incomprehensible. As such, it’s better to use clean and clear fonts. It’s also smart to keep the words short and in a relatively large font size to make the header readable at a glance.

3. Make it Visually Appealing
Making a visually appealing header doesn’t necessarily mean to add every stunning icon, photo, or effects on the website. Sometimes, the simplest and cleanest options are enough to keep the header engaging. Examples of amazing header designs usually have the following features: 

  • Combines transparent headers with impressive images
  • Utilises fixed or sticky headers
  • Features distinct spaces by layering objects

4. Choose an Efficient Menu Style
There are several menu styles businesses can use to make their headers more functional. However, two of the most efficient options are expandable and double menus. Expandable menus provide plenty of space for images while double menus present users with two layers of navigation. 

One of the most common menu styles seen on headers today is the hamburger menu. This expandable menu gets its name from its design, which consists of horizontal lines that make it look like a hamburger. The hamburger menu is easier to access and contains the website’s core categories.

5. Be Familiar With the 3 Common Header Design Patterns
People scan or read through information differently, so businesses need to choose a header design pattern that allows their users to absorb their content the way they intended it to. The three most common models are as follows:

  • F-pattern. Typically used on websites that display blocks of content (e.g. blogs and search results pages.)
  • Z-pattern. Designed for websites with minimal copy and where simplicity is their main priority.
  • Gutenberg diagram. Applied to pages with text-heavy content. It also describes the general pattern on how the eyes move when looking at evenly distributed information.

The header is an integral part of a website, so businesses should take the time to create a header that’s attractive and practical for their users. To learn more about the importance of great header design and ideas, contact Activate Design today


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Want to Succeed in Internet Marketing? Do These 6 Key Things.

6 Key Things For Internet Marketing Success

Last month we looked at some of the reasons why, despite our best efforts, an internet marketing strategy fails. These include having a fuzzy goal, no research, poor audience targeting or not offering anything of value to your potential customers.

This month, we’ll look at six key internet marketing tactics that are guaranteed to succeed and encourage business growth.

1. Develop Your Own Website.

When developing internet marketing for a small business, control is a vital attribute. You can sell through Facebook, Amazon, eBay or Trade Me, but in doing so, you surrender a lot of control when you should be funnelling customers to your own website.

When building your site, it’s best to avoid website platforms like Wix and Weebly, that lock you into a restrictive CMS system . You need to retain complete control over your content and system, including the ability to easily transfer to another hosting service if required.

2. Use Sales-Oriented Landing Pages

Once you’ve got your website up and running smoothly, it’s time to focus on marketing strategies and tactics that will pull potential customers into your sales funnel. A well-designed sales landing page is a powerful tool that engages the customer and delivers an immediate Call to Action—what more could you want!

3. Be Mobile

Whether it’s your website, online ads or video content—make sure it’s mobile-friendly. You should tune the content to the needs of mobile users. For example, they’re more likely to be looking for easy to read information such as contact details or a location map, rather than blog posts or PDF downloads.

4. Get Personal

Through careful research, you can learn a lot more about your potential customers—who they are, their interests, their age group and other demographic indicators. Using this information, you can create tailored marketing strategies that are more personal and will resonate with your audience. At the same time, you will save money by not spending marketing budget where it has little chance of payback.

5. Be Visual

Videos, pictures, live streams and infographics all have an appeal because they convey instant information. Viewers can see your product or quickly get to grips with a concept. Visual content is much more likely to be shared, and customer-generated video content is highly effective on social media.

6. Be Technical

All these internet marketing tips play a crucial role in attracting customers and growing your business, but to be truly successful requires a technical approach. From web analytics and user testing to SEO strategies—the best way to create success is by studying and understanding your audience, and then creating a content plan for them, with a schedule and a clear set of goals. The best way to measure success is by studying the data that you gather as your campaign progresses. Are you reaching the people you need to reach?

Want to learn more about small business web marketing? Sign up for our free email course and receive actionable tips and strategies straight to your inbox.

Is it time to activate your business? We offer a complete website and digital marketing service for small businesses looking for a professional online presence at a reasonable cost. Contact us today!


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Posted in Marketing

Internet Marketing Tips: 6 Reasons Why it Doesn’t Always Work (and what you can do about it).

Internet Marketing Tips

Internet marketing techniques offer small businesses a viable means to compete with the big players and get noticed in the online marketplace. Well-designed digital marketing ideas and campaigns can make a massive difference to your company’s turnover, usually for less cost than traditional marketing strategies. But they’re not a guaranteed path to riches and sometimes they just

The internet is awash with sites and blogs promoting marketing tips for small business owners, with the promise of astounding results. In reality, any product marketing strategy requires research, planning and a clear set of goals to be successful. In our experience, there are six key reasons why internet marketing can fail to deliver results:

1. No clear goal

A vague and general goal such as “Driving more traffic to our website” may be achievable, but without clearly defining your target audience and what you want them to do, you could end up with lots of ‘tyre kickers’ and no sales to show for it. A well-defined goal helps you define the scope of your campaign, your audience and a measurable outcome (e.g. 20% more sales from women aged 20-35).

2. No Research/testing

Even with a set goal in mind, internet marketing strategies can fall over without some background research. Sometimes this fact-finding can reveal that your primary goal is flawed, which may seem like a setback, but is actually good news, as you can re-evaluate your strategy before any financial commitment is made. Once you’ve settled on a marketing approach, test it out on a small sample group that represents your audience, and gather their feedback. Use this information to refine your marketing content.

3. Poor audience targeting

Your marketing goal may be to attract more subscribers to your mailing list. An incorrectly targeted campaign could see you gain many subscribers, but very few genuine prospects that will convert into customers. Social media marketing allows you to focus on specific demographics, but you need to do your research beforehand to ensure you are talking to the right audience.

4. No value

For better or worse, most internet users will only click on a link if there is something ‘in it’ for them. A big marketing mistake is not offering something of value to these potential customers. Strategies that rewards users with genuinely helpful information, discounts or special offers are more likely to get traction.

5. Poor website

Many internet marketing campaigns stumble at the last hurdle by directing users to a website that isn’t performing well or fails to capitalise on the traffic. A user who has made an effort to click through to your site should be presented with a seamless experience that meets their expectations and ultimately leads to a sale.

6. Budget

There is a perception that you can do internet marketing for little or no cost, but you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Digital marketing is very cost-effective but still requires some investment (in time and dollars) to pay dividends. A common error is not allocating enough budget for your marketing. Companies who create TV commercials must also buy enough media time to ensure it is seen. The same applies to online marketing—whether it's banner ads or paid posts on social media, make sure you allocate enough budget to gain penetration into your chosen market.


If you’d like to discuss internet marketing strategies for your website, contact the team at Activate Design.


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Posted in Marketing

Graphic Design Services: Do You Need It?

graphic design services nz

Graphic design touches every part of our lives—from billboards, we see on the way to work, to the apps we use every day. As a business owner, you might wonder why you should hire a graphic designer when Jenny in accounts is pretty good on Microsoft Word? Graphic design software has improved a lot over the years, but the core of good graphic design always comes back to creativity and experience. 

A company that specialises in web and graphic design services will bring a level of professionalism to your company website that would be hard to achieve in-house. Just as you’d hire an electrician to install new lighting in your office, a graphic design agency will provide fast and appropriate design solutions for your business. 

Some small business owners opt for online design sites like Fiverr or Upwork to get their logo and graphic design services work done. While this might suit a simple, one-off project, there are risks to this approach:

  1. The original designer may no longer be available when you need to revisit the design.
  2. The design work is carried out by individuals working off-shore, who may not be familiar with the nuances of your business and it’s culture.
  3. The low fee/high turnover approach of these design sites promotes expediency over creativity.

Your company needs to present a unified look to the world—your website, social media, print media, advertising, and branding all need to communicate a consistent message. Just like the physical assets in your business, your company’s visual assets need to be effective, fit for purpose and well maintained. A graphic design service can help you identify and formalise these assets, right down to the font used in your byline.

When you first meet with a web/graphic design company, their goal will be to learn as much as they can about your business. For many business owners, this process can be quite enlightening, as you reflect on the nature of the work you do, your customers, even your competitors. As an independent consultant, the designer you meet with can offer insight into your business that might not be obvious to you. The web design process can often uncover inefficiencies in the company structure that only become obvious when developing or updating the company’s website.

So the answer is yes, you do need a professional graphic design service—but how do you choose one? Design plays a part in every part of your business: logo, website, print media, smartphone app, so it pays to choose a company with capabilities in all those areas. Using separate design services means more workload for you, and it increases the possibility of errors through miscommunication or mis-matched deadlines.

Activate Design is a Christchurch based design house offering a full suite of design services, including websites, logos, apps, videos, and print. Alongside these design services, Activate Design provide essential services like web hosting, SEO, content writing, email marketing, and tech support.

If you’d like to know more, check out our work or request a quote.


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Posted in Graphic Design

Pump Up Your Sales with These Sure-Fire Internet Marketing Strategies


The best digital marketing strategies are those that are simple to implement and boost your sales. In this article, we’ll take a look at some proven internet marketing tactics and marketing tips for small business.

Online marketing can be divided up into five main categories:

  • Content Marketing
  • SEO
  • Web Design
  • Social Media
  • Advertising
  • Content Marketing

The internet lives on content, whether its blogs, videos, or social media posts. Content marketing is not hard-sell like advertising. Instead, it aims to inform and educate new and existing customers about your products, services and your company. You want customers that are seeking information to view your site as an authoritative source of that information. One way to do this is by guest appearances—be it a guest blog, video or an audio podcast. This not only extends your reach to new audiences and builds your credibility, but you’ll also get a valuable ‘back-link’ to your website.


All that lovely content needs to find an audience, and that is where SEO (search engine optimisation) comes in. Using keywords, title tags, backlinks and other SEO techniques, you can raise your profile in search engine results and connect with your target market. For small businesses with mostly local customers, optimising your site for mobile and local search is probably the most effective strategy available.

Web Design

In terms of internet marketing, a well-designed website is one that enables users to quickly find what they need and encourages them to act with subtle visual cues. You need to design your site as an internet marketing platform from the get-go. Too many websites get caught up with ‘showing off’ the company when they should be attending to the needs of their customers.

Social Media

Social media is an excellent outlet for running promotional campaigns, competitions and announcements. It’s also a fast way to get direct interaction with your customer base and gather valuable feedback. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram thrive on live content, so the focus should be on special events such as a new product release. You need to identify the platform most favoured by your target customers—for young, tech-savvy individuals it might be TikTok or Snapchat.


Any digital marketing plan needs to include advertising, including some traditional print media advertising if appropriate. Before you spend any money on advertising, you need to establish your target audience and then identify the most suitable medium to reach them. Digital advertising has become something of a science, with the ability to target specific demographics. Pay per click advertising such as Google AdWords can be very effective, but they require some expertise to ensure clicks actually lead to sales.

If you’d like to discuss internet marketing strategies for your website, contact the team at Activate Design.



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Posted in Marketing

11 Amazing Facts About Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization amazing facts

There are many techniques available to improve your website traffic, but the granddaddy of them all is still SEO or search engine optimisation. SEO needs to front and centre in any search engine marketing strategy, as search is still the primary means by which users find and navigate to websites.

Here are eleven digital marketing facts that might surprise you:

1. Off-page vs on-page SEO

Website optimisations like keywords, title and meta-tags are known as on-page SEO. Off-page SEO are techniques that help improve the authority and popularity of your site. While on-page SEO is essential for any website hoping to increase traffic, it’s the Off-page SEO that largely determines your ranking in search results.

2. Page titles still important

The page title description is still a very potent SEO tool, but this doesn’t mean you should stuff the title tag with a list of keywords. Google recommends you choose a title that reads naturally and effectively communicates the topic of the page’s content.

3. Long tail keywords

Fifty percent of search queries are longer than four words. Think about your audience and how they might pose a search query. Remember, most people use ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘where’ in their query, so build that into your keyword content.

4. Quality content

Talking about content, it shouldn’t be surprising that quality content does rank better and serves your audience or customer’s needs. Users are becoming savvy to marketing that’s dressed up as content, so do your clients a favour and provide genuinely useful information.

5. Update and republish

Producing quality content doesn’t mean you can’t revisit older material. Often content can get buried as you add new material to your site. If the information is still relevant, updating and republishing is a great way to reconnect with your users and provide new information for indexing by search engines.

6. Object detection in images

Google algorithms can now detect objects and shapes within images. This AI-driven technology is still being refined, but the goal is to deliver more accurate SERP’s to users, with less false positives. So having appropriate and visually distinct imagery on your site will become increasingly important to SEO. Alt-text descriptions are still very necessary though, and like page titles, should contain descriptive text—no keyword stuffing.

7. Host your videos on YouTube

Google owns YouTube, so it makes good sense to host your website videos on YouTube and embed them on your site. YouTube hosting ensures your video appears in YouTube search results as well as Google SERPs.

8. Page speed affects mobile ranking

Page speed has been a ranking factor since 2010, but last year, Google introduced the ‘Speed Update’ algorithm, which means very slow-loading mobile sites could be negatively affected. Google provides this handy online tool to analyse your site’s speed.

9. HTTPS sites may rank higher

The Chrome browser, which has a 45% market share, now shows a warning icon when a site is not secure. It does appear that page one search results are beginning to prioritise HTTPS sites, so long term it’s a good strategy to switch to HTTPS/SSL for SEO and of course, security.

10. Most users ignore paid ads

Seventy to eighty percent of users don’t click on paid ads in search results, preferring to go with organic search results. While this might not be good news for advertisers, it demonstrates the ongoing need to focus on good, SEO optimised content.

11. Almost half of all Google searches are local

Whether your company is big or small, you need to optimise your site for local search. Make sure you list your business on Google My Business and other local directories. A mobile-friendly site is essential, particularly for retail, where 1 in 3 mobile searches are followed by an immediate store visit.

If you need help or advice with search engine optimisation for your website or mobile app, contact the team at Activate.


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The 7 Hottest Mobile Website Trends for 2019

7 Hottest Mobile Trends in 2019

There’s no need to explain how important it is to have a mobile-friendly website these days—it’s a given that most people will be browsing on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, particularly in the consumer space.

Creating responsive design websites that conform to the latest mobile technology trends becomes even more essential when you consider that Google indexing gives priority to mobile sites. If you or your client doesn’t have a mobile responsive website, you’re undoubtedly missing out on valuable traffic.
To help you keep on top of mobile technology trends, we’ve gathered together seven of the hottest mobile website trends for 2019:

1. Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps (or PWA’s) have been around for a while, but there is renewed interest in them as mobile browsers become more capable. There is still some confusion as to what constitutes a PWA, but in general, they are mobile web pages that act like apps, including the ability to function offline. For small companies, they offer a lower cost of entry into the world of apps that can be offered directly to their customers, without the need for app store involvement.

2. Load Speed

Optimising page load times is going to be a big focus in 2019, as mobile e-commerce continues to grow, and users demand a snappy UI with fast response times. Good code will undoubtedly improve page load times, and the quality and speed of your server can be a real pinch point. Google recommends webmaster minimise or eliminate redirects on your site. This site provides a handy tool that maps the number of redirects on your site.

3. Mobile payments

As mobile payment platforms like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and even Facebook Messenger become more broadly supported by banks and retailers, it creates more trust in the notion of mobile payments. Mobile website developers need to capitalise on this trend by ensuring their sites offer frictionless payment options for users.

4. Touch ID

The growth of mobile payments is further boosted by support for Touch ID technology. Built into virtually all recent smartphones, Touch ID offers peace of mind. By integrating this fingerprint security into your mobile website or web app, you demonstrate to your customers that their security is important to you.

5. Short-form content

Long-form content has long been accepted as a good way to improve SEO and increase traffic. However, research is showing that short form, video-centric content is better suited to mobile sites and is expected to grow in popularity this year. Animations, short quizzes and other interactive content are more likely to hold audience attention than blog posts or long-form articles.

6. Gestures

Another way to make your mobile site more ‘app like’ is by adding support for gestures. Swiping, pinching and zooming are all familiar interactions on a mobile device, and it makes sense to use the same OS gestures on your mobile site or web app.

7. Functional Animations

Functional animations are simple motion elements that are built into your UI. They help guide users by, for example, changing a button shape when a user taps on it. Used well, they can bring your site to life and encourage the people to explore the site. Like gestures, they give visitors to your mobile site a more interactive, app-like experience. The best functional animations are those that serve a genuine purpose and integrate well into the site design.

Does your site need some mobile optimisation? Talk to the team at Activate Design for more tips and advice.


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10 Simple Website Editing Mistakes to Avoid

Before Content Management Systems (CMS) became common place, website owners usually had to turn to their website developer to change any content. There was a frustrating time delay relying on someone else – and the ongoing costs, of course. However, one upside was that the changes would be done in a clean and tidy manner by the web developer. Today, most sites use a CMS and the owner can log in and make changes themselves. But this is not without a downside in that things can end up a bit of a mess.
So here are some common mistakes and how to avoid them.

a poor quality image

1. Uploading poor quality images.
Probably the most common way to ruin the look of a website is the uploading of poor quality images. Today, people web browse on devices with large, high resolution, retina displays and you just don’t get away with crappy images anymore. A new website usually starts with sharp, high-quality imagery carefully chosen by the designer. This just gives the site a professional, polished appearance. But over time, these quality images are often swapped out for low-quality, blurry images. Or even worse, images that are tall and narrow when the display area is wide and short.
Don’t be that person. Carefully select images that will suit the space they are being uploaded to. Make sure they are of decent quality. And remember, a large image can be made smaller and look great – a small image cannot be made larger without looking bad. Learning some basic image editing techniques such as cropping and resizing can be very useful.

website cms admin panel

2. Not checking your changes.
Another very simple mistake is simply not refreshing your browser while on your website to check how your changes actually look. Often it is because the website owner is in a hurry to add/change something; they log in to their CMS to change a few things but forget to check how the changes look. A good work practice is to have two browser windows open, one for your CMS admin panel, the other with your front-end site. Make changes incrementally – refreshing the browser and checking each time. Sometimes an image needs to be cropped slightly differently, or a line break added to some text – it may seem minor but it all adds up to a polished looking site… or an amateur looking mess.

news blog
3. Having a news / blog but never using it.
This one might seem a little strange but it’s not unusual to come across a website that has an exciting ‘Latest News’ section but the only post in there is the first one that says ‘Welcome to our new website.’ – despite being several years old. After the initial enthusiasm of a new site wears off, the owner is faced with the reality of taking time to create blog posts for their news section, and they never get around to it. Fresh, updated content is a great way to bring people back to your site, grow content and increase rankings.  A blog/news section is the best way of doing this - but you need to be sure you are actually going to use it, or it just looks amateur and off-putting to visitors who are looking to engage with your business.




instant chat box 
4. Having a ‘instant-chat’ feature – but never using it.
Have you visited a site and a little box appears on the side saying ‘Is there anything we can help with?’ – It is fantastic way to chat with someone from your business instantly. But it is infuriating when there is nobody actually there. If you frequent a website and notice that the chat-panel is always ‘unavailable’ it is unwelcoming. But much worse is when the panel pops up and prompts a chat – but there is nobody actually at the other end. It is almost like answering the phone to a customer and not speaking. If you aren’t going to use the instant-chat function do not have one.  



line breaks cms
5. Not understanding how to do a paragraph or a line break. 
Content Management Systems automatically add in paragraph breaks when you press enter. To just enter a line break without the extra spacing; press shift + enter. Sometimes people don’t know this and end up wondering why their text has huge double spacing and looks ridiculous.




6. Breaking styles.
Your website designer would have set a range of styles to keep things looking clean, consistent and professional. Such as the size and font of your headings, sub-headings, body text, links etc. However, it is possible to break from this and do something completely different. Sometimes people want to put in some text or a link and make it ‘stand-out.’  But nothing ruins the look of a site more than all kinds of odd looking headings, type and links in garish, clashing colors with various fonts, sizes and weights. It is a slippery slope towards making your site look like it was made in 1998. 



7. Poor content placement. 
You might have a small area on your site for a bit of introductory text. Perhaps a few paragraphs. The mistake is to dump a huge story of text into this area at some point. The text blows the formatting of the site, as these introduction areas are generally never intended to have that many words. Think carefully about the amount of type you are putting in and where is it going. If you have too much, you should add in a ‘read-more’ link to expand the text if the user wishes to read it. Likewise, dumping images into a content area of the site in a way that was never intended, is slowly going to mess everything up. If you add in images in this way, it is a good idea to just ask your web developer to make it all look tidy again after you are done.




social media icons
8. Social media links that go nowhere.
Sometimes web designers will add in common social media links to a site during the mock up phase, just as example placement. The website owner might intend on using social media but never actually get around to using it — or even signing up in some cases. So the site gets developed and the icons are there, but are never linked to anything. Years later people are still clicking on the facebook logo to find it doesn’t go anywhere. Embarrassing.
If you decide you're not going to get around to using Twitter after all — simply ask us to remove it. 




9. Inconsistent staff profile pictures.
Your site should have started out with a consistent approach to staff profile photos. Your website designer should have adjusted them to be a uniform size and profile. Perhaps with the background removed or a specific type of image adjustment. But over time staff changes require new photos. Someone in the business adds the new staff with poorly taken photos from a cellphone or pulled down from a social media account. They’re uploaded with completely different widths, lengths, backgrounds and colours. Some are blurry and pixelated others are poorly cropped. If you are not sure, just ask your web company to do it for you. They will be able to do it very quickly and efficiently and keep it looking great. A professional company has professional looking staff profiles.




10. Too many pages for your navigation area.
When your site was developed, let's say it was designed with 5 pages in mind; Home, about, services, gallery, contact.  Of course, there is ample space to add in some more, and over time this expands to be; home, about, services, specials, information, staff, gallery, testimonials, faqs, blog, contact. But now these have pushed well beyond the available navigation space and it looks terrible. If you get to this point, simply ask your web company to add in a drop-down sub-navigation panel or tweak your navigation design so that it fits nicely. This mistake often is a result of #2 where new pages have been added – yet nobody actually checked that they still fit into the navigation area.




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Having trouble sending emails to Xtra?

Yahoo Xtra Mail

Issues sending emails to recipients with Xtra email addresses is not unusual but it is terribly frustrating.  
There have been wide spread problems with Sparks Xtra/Yahoo email services dating back as far as 2008, with a resurgence in 2018.

Issues with Spark email Xtra hitting Kiwi businesses – 13th Sept 2018
Essentially Xtra have implemented ‘security measures’ in an attempt to reduce spam. But have been over-zealous in their approach so that legitimate mail is also blocked.
Rigorous testing by the the IT community has discovered that it is not just emails that may appear suspicious. Such as those from blacklisted accounts or untrusted servers, or those without a subject line, or those with attachments. No, it is actually almost ANYTHING, especially those containing financially related themes.
Even more unfortunate is that Xtra stubbornly believe that what they are doing is best practice. So although the problem lies with them - they are unlikely to fix it.
Technically the problem isn’t yours, but the reality of the problem is.

So what can you do if you have a whole bunch of customers using Xtra who are just not receiving your emails? Not a lot unfortunately.
Ideally your recipients ought to be the ones who contact Xtra to complain that they are not receiving legitimate emails and demand a resolution or change to a different provider. Unfortunately, most of them are not going to do this as they do not actually KNOW they are not getting emails.


Imagine you are sending a traditional letter to a friend. You put it into an approved Dimension Lengthwise Envelope with a government issued postage stamp. You deliver it to an official post shop. Your letter is delivered by the official post man. BUT your friend actually hires someone to collect their mail each day. He throws out any pizza flyers and put the important looking stuff on the kitchen bench. But all YOUR letters have been going in the rubbish with the junk. What’s more, he doesn’t tell your friend he threw anything out.
Your friend should probably fire this guy!


The problem really lies with Xtra (Spark) to ensure delivery. What makes things worse is that there doesn’t appear to be a department responsible to help with external senders. Most online reports show a frustrating lack of success from any Spark customer service team regarding this. Mostly they say that you need to get your recipient to ‘whitelist your email address.’

But this is a poor solution really. Firstly, contacting your customers individually to try and get them to whitelist your email would be a maddening exercise. Many will not even know what this means or how to do it. Secondly, there have been tests done, where the email address HAS been whitelisted in Xtra – and yet the emails STILL do not get through.
We always recommend that Xtra users move to a different provider.
“I have also learnt that Xtra fervently believe this is all designed to make the internet a safer place. On that I can agree. If you cant send email and you cant receive email and you spend your time on the telephone to Xtra and the rest of your time filling out meaningless forms then the internet is indeed a safer place. You are after all not using it - therefore it is a safer place. Well done Xtra - you have succeeded in that goal.” – GeekZone, 2008
Incidentally – our own email servers (ActiveHost) do not currently appear to experience trouble sending to Xtra accounts. Whist anything could happen with Xtra in the future, we currently don’t have any email customers reporting problems associated with this.


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