16 things to do during lockdown

Life is on hold, but you don’t have to be 

 

Stuck indoors and looking to relieve the lockdown boredom? If you’re struggling to find a series on Netflix you haven’t watched, it’s time to think outside the box. Staying in doesn’t have to be a waste of time – why not discover a new skill or hobby? Not only will lockdown fly by, but you’ll come out of it as a new and improved version of yourself – win, win! 

Train your pooch! 

Give your pup some love this lockdown by giving them some behaviour training. Whether it’s combatting aggressive behaviour or teaching them basic obedience commands, dog training can lead to your pup living a longer and happier life. If you’re not sure, hire an online dog trainer and learn the most effective tips and tricks.

Learn a new language

Being stuck indoors is the perfect opportunity to brush up on your language skills. Long gone are the days of dusty old language books – there are now endless ways to learn a language online. Whether it’s watching foreign language shows on Netflix (with subtitles, of course!) or listening to podcasts, language learning doesn’t have to be boring anymore. 

If you’re serious about improving your language skills, hiring an online tutor is a perfect way to add some structure to your learning. They’ll also hold you accountable on the days where vegging out on the sofa is much more tempting! 

Set goals

If you enjoy living life in the fast-lane, lockdown might feel like it’s been put on pause. But having the time to slow down and reflect can be really helpful when it comes to understanding where you are in life and where you want to be. 

Whether it’s working towards financial independence or trying to live a healthier lifestyle, setting goals and breaking them into small daily tasks will help you to feel focused and productive. If your goals seem unattainable or you don’t know where to begin, why not hire an online life coach? As long as you’ve got a strong internet connection you can have consultations via video call, or over the telephone. 

Try a healthy new diet

One of the upsides of lockdown is that you can spend more time in the kitchen, try out new recipes, and kick-start healthy eating habits. If you have difficult dietary requirements or need help controlling your calorie intake, start your journey the right way by getting a nutritionist or dietitian.

Balance the books 

Okay, so not very exciting – but hear us out! Lockdown is the perfect time to get on top of those boring financial tasks. If your business has been affected by Covid-19, it might be time to reassess your financial situation. If you need some help getting your affairs in order, an online financial advisor will be able to help you manage a number of tasks, including cash-flows and reassessing your budget. 

Get the boring stuff out of the way so you can free up time for what’s important when lockdown ends! 

Kick bad habits 

Did you know it takes 21 days to break a bad habit? Lockdown is an ideal time to say goodbye to bad habits and form some healthy ones! The first step is identifying what you want to change and what your triggers are. 

Once you’ve figured that out, there are lots of exercises to help you combat a bad habit. A tried and tested one is replacing a bad behaviour with a good one – if you find yourself regularly reaching for the cookie jar, why not replace it with some dried fruit? Alternatively, you could hire an online hypnotherapist to help you with the legwork. 

Learn to code 

Coding is an incredibly sought after skill in our digital world, so why not give yourself a head start and give it a go? There are tonnes of online coding courses out there, or if you’re looking for more personal support, you can find an online coding tutor. 

Learn a new instrument 

Ever committed to taking up piano or the guitar only to find that you simply don’t have the time to practice every day? With so much time on your hands, lockdown is the ideal opportunity to get your daily practice in. Struggling to find your inner Beethoven? Find an online music tutor. 

Revamp your living space 

If you’re sick and tired of being stuck at home, maybe all you need is to give it a new look! Interior designers are now providing their services online – designing a ‘virtual’ room and filling it with real-life items available to purchase – pretty cool right?

Learn to draw 

Okay, so you may not be the next Picasso, but drawing is a great way to pass the time, and has been proven to help with anxiety and stress. If you’re serious about improving your sketching skills, it’s worth hiring an online drawing tutor to help you hone your craft. 

Give your website a face lift 

If your business has had to come up with new ways to connect with customers remotely this year, then having a great website should be at the top of your priorities. Whether it’s improving user experience (UX) or refreshing your content, investing time into your website will help to attract and retain new customers. But it can be a tricky task – especially if you don’t know the basics of web design. Hire a web designer to ensure your website gets the high-quality finish it deserves. 

Get fit 

With an abundance of online fitness classes to choose from, there’s no reason you can’t get fit from the comfort of your own home! Grab some household objects as weights and get moving! Getting an online personal trainer is a great way to add structure to your workouts and help you to achieve your fitness goals. 

Get party planning! 

Whether it’s a birthday, wedding, or anniversary, lockdown is a perfect time to start planning your next event. Yes, the world seems uncertain, but there’s no harm in giving yourself a headstart for when normality resumes. If you need a helping hand, why not hire an online event and party plannerFrom scoping out the best venue to finding decorations, it’s easy for them to tick off their to-do list from home. 

Update your CV 

Smash the job market as soon as you get out of lockdown by updating and refreshing your CV. Not sure how to make the most of your CV? Online CV writers are on hand to ensure your CV is perfected and polished – highlighting your best bits!

Write a novel (or a blog) 

There’s no better time than during lockdown to get those creative juices flowing. Pick up a piece of paper and a pen (or your laptop) and start working on that novel you’ve been meaning to write for the last five years. Or if you don’t fancy yourself as the next William Shakespeare just yet, maybe ease yourself in with a blog post. 500 words are very different from 500 pages, after all! If you need a polished blog for your business, you can find online blog writers to do the hard work for you. 

Try out yoga 

Lockdown is the ideal opportunity to find your inner zen. Whether you’re an experienced yoga-lover or a complete beginner, there will be something online for your age and capability. All it takes is a quick two minute Google search. Alternatively, you could hire an online yoga instructor – they’ll be able to ensure your form and techniques are spot on, saving you nasty injuries later down the line. 

 

 

 

 

 

How much does a web designer cost in the UK? 2020

Average price of a web designer in the UK

£400 – £1,000

What can I expect to pay for a web designer?

Need your website revamped or built from scratch, but not sure of the cost? Find out how much your web design expert will charge depending on your location, website size, design complexity and more.

What is a web designer?

There’s far more to web design than meets the eye. Designing a professional website with clear, user friendly navigation is a work of art. On top of that, you need to factor in additional features like web compatibility, quality content, and search engine optimisation. If you’re trying to grow your business, getting your website off the ground is the last thing you need to worry about! 

A web designer has the expert knowledge to ensure your website is search engine friendly and customised to your needs. They’ll remove the faff from the process and even save you money, as getting the job done right the first time around means you won’t have to worry about unexpected repair costs later down the line. 

How much does a web designer cost in the UK?

It’s tricky to determine the price of web design as no two websites are the same. To make life easier, we’ve put together a rough breakdown of average web design costs based on local UK professionals: 

Average Cost (in total) £500 – £600
Minimum Cost (in total) £250
Maximum Cost (in total) £1,500 – £2,000+

However, web designers can charge anything up to £5,000 for larger and more complex projects. It’s always worth discussing your budget with your web designer up front so that you’re both on the same page. 

What changes the price of hiring a web designer?

  • Location 
  • Size
  • Design complexity

Location

Web designers set their prices to reflect the cost of living in their area. If you decide to hire a web designer in London, expect to pay more as the cost of living is higher than the rest of the UK. 

If you live in the big smoke but you’re on a budget, don’t despair! Web design is a remote service, so it’s possible to hire someone based in another part of the country, or even the world to you. This gives you more flexibility when it comes to pricing.

If you do choose someone from the other size of the world, remember that time differences could make communication tricky, and could even slow your project down. 

 

Size

When it comes to determining the cost of web design, size can’t be ignored. The larger the website, the more sophisticated capabilities it will require, increasing the time (and money!)  it takes to design, build, and launch it. 

Here’s a breakdown of average web design total costs based on website size: 

Size of website Type of website Average Cost (in total)
Small Basic £200 – £500 
Medium  Small business  £500 – £1,100
Large  Ecommerce Site  £1,000 – £2,500 

When choosing the size of your website, it really depends on what you need the website to do. If you need a simple platform for posting blog content, a smaller sized website will do the trick. However, you might need a large website if you’re launching an e-commerce store, for example.

Design complexity

The complexity of design can also impact project costs. If you want to build a website for an e-commerce store, it will require far more pages, responsiveness, and animations than a simple blogger’s website. 

The more complex the design, the more time it’ll take to complete, and time is money! 

Is hiring a web designer worth the cost?

If the thought of web design costs is getting you in a wobble, read on for our top money saving tips: 

  • Keep web pages to a minimum – The more pages you want your website to have, the more time it will take your designer to complete, which means higher costs! Keep charges to a minimum by cutting out any pages that aren’t absolutely necessary. 
  • Get creative with your own photos – When choosing images for your website, avoid using costly stock photography. Why not tap into your creative side and take your own photos? This minimises costs as well as giving your website a personal touch. 
  • Keep it simple – When it comes to website design, simple is often much more effective. Don’t go overboard with reams of content, images or videos. This will keep costs down, and users often prefer a simple interface anyway – so it’s a win win!

If you’re looking to update your blog, or take your business online, find a Web Designer on Bark.

Wix vs. WordPress – which is the better option?

Thinking about creating a website? If you’ve already done your research, you’ve probably come across Wix and WordPress. Two of the most popular website providers, they’re both great options, but which one to choose? Depending on the type of website you need and your technical skills, one may be a better option than another. If choosing between Wix and WordPress is getting you into a wobble, let’s find out the best choice for you. 

Wix 

Building a website on Wix couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is pick a theme and edit it to your needs by moving different elements around on the page – but pick wisely, as you won’t be able to change the theme once you’ve chosen it. However, for the web design rookies out there (and let’s face it, that’s most of us) the process is a breeze. If you’re looking for simplicity and functionality, then Wix is the web design tool for you. The best thing about Wix is that it’s free, although you can access advanced features by upgrading to premium packages. 

Wix Benefits:

  • Drag and drop style editor gives you complete freedom to move elements around on the page 
  • Basic package is free to access 
  • A variety of add-ons for all website types 

Wix Drawbacks: 

  • You can’t change the template of your site once it’s been created, so the only alternative would be to start again from scratch 
  • Dragging around different elements on the site editor can be time consuming 
  • Lacks a variety of features on the blog section, making it more difficult to customise or implement SEO

WordPress 

A whopping 50% of the internet is powered by WordPress, making it easier for onboarding new colleagues to work onto your site in comparison to other, less widely used web builders. 

Whether it’s developers, designers or content creators, most people know how to use WordPress. Bloggers are the biggest users of WordPress, though tools such as WooCommerce make it easy to use for those with eCommerce websites too. 

When it comes to building your WordPress site, there are thousands of themes available. And even better, if you want to change it, you can do so immediately without having to start your website again from scratch. However, as the only drag and drop feature is in Gutenberg (a blog text editor), you’ll need to have some technical know-how, or may need to hire someone who does.

WordPress Benefits 

  • The most popular CMS on the internet with thousands of themes available
  • Regularly updated
  • Sophisticated blog tool that gives more content displaying options 
  • Access to tools such as Yoast SEO and Google Analytics (unavailable on Wix) 

WordPress Drawbacks 

  • If you use the free version (WordPress.org) you’ll need to purchase hosting
  • Premium themes can be pricey 
  • Some technical knowledge is needed to manage plugins
  • Not at easy to access customer support

To sum up 

And there you have it, a short but sweet comparison of Wix and WordPress. In a nutshell, Wix lets you hit the ground running with easy visual editing. You can drag, drop and move elements without needing to know a single line of code. 

However, you can’t change your template later down the line, so it’s important to choose something you’re happy with. If you also decide to move providers, you may also need to rebuild your website from scratch. But for anyone who lacks technical knowledge, Wix is an ideal option. 

WordPress is the go-to for everyone, from bloggers to business owners. Its huge market share means you’ll find way more plugins and features than any other provider, though these aren’t always cheap. With WordPress, you have the freedom of choosing any theme and changing it at any time – providing complete flexibility as your website grows and evolves. 

A web designer can change or custom build you an entirely new theme on WordPress. While WordPress is more tricky to navigate than Wix, it provides businesses more freedom and flexibility. It has far more tools for SEO and bloggers too.

 

5 tips for creating great content for your website

Every website should have high-quality content, regardless of its purpose. Whether you’re a small business owner looking to drive conversion rates, or a mummy blogger attempting to boost your online presence, strong content is key to increasing search engine rankings and driving traffic. Yes, a beautifully designed website is important, but it’s no good if the content is lacking in freshness and clarity. Even Google favours content over visuals when it comes to determining search rankings. 

We live in an age of information overload, and we’re more impatient than ever. You have about three seconds to hook visitors with your website content, so it pays to get it right. The good news is that writing quality content isn’t as difficult as it seems – here are 5 tips for getting it right. If you don’t have a way with words, you can always hire a web design expert, who can advise you on how to optimise your content for your intended audience. 

Keep it simple 

If you think the content on your website is simple, it’s probably not simple enough. Remember, your website should be designed so that users understand immediately what they are looking at and where they should click when they land on it. In other words, they shouldn’t have to think at all – it should be intuitive. Yes, the site architecture should take the reins with this, but your content has an important part to play, too.

Ensure the content is free from vague phrases which might cause confusion, and keep the message clear and simple. Another thing to remember is that you never know who may end up on your website, so it’s always best to cut out any fancy jargon and write your content in a way that is clear for everyone to understand. 

Keep it short 

This follows on from the previous point. If your content is too long and wordy, readers will simply get bored and move on. You’re not writing a novel – you’re writing for a website, in an overcrowded marketplace, where you have about three seconds to capture a user’s attention. There’s just no time for waffling.

Some websites may have sections, like blogs, where longer content is required. This isn’t damaging, as these pages are designed for people who want to obtain more detailed information, but keep in mind to make the information as digestible as possible. Make sure longer content is cut into smaller chunks, and add images to break it up. 

Give examples 

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your writing may be, telling visitors how fantastic you are just isn’t going to cut the mustard. For whatever message you are trying to communicate, make sure you back it up with measurable, real-life examples. Don’t be afraid to go into detail about how you’re better than your competitors. But remember, keep the language punchy and simple to avoid bogging users down. 

Make it scannable 

Remember the golden rule – website users scan. Websites are very much a browsing tool, and visitors may have to quickly scan several websites before they get the information they need.

The key thing to remember is to always put the most important content at the top – think of it as a word hierarchy. Break your text up into bullet points, even separating it into tables or boxes if you can. This helps the reader to easily find what they are looking for, which increases the chances of them staying on your website. 

Turn heads with your headline 

Your headline is the first thing to capture a reader’s attention, so it pays to make it catchy. If your headline is boring and bland, it’s likely no one will bother to read the content that follows it. If it’s jazzy and engaging, your reader is far more likely to be intrigued and read on.

To spark interest with your headline, the key is to use simple but powerful language. If you can, make your headline a call-to-action by using words like ‘click here’ or ‘get started’. This makes it super easy to convert visitors into buyers, as it makes it obvious which action they need to take next to access your products or services. 

To sum up 

Capturing a reader’s attention in a crowded digital space is a challenge to say the least. Creating concise, relevant, and high-quality content is absolutely essential to driving and retaining traffic on your website. If you put time, energy, and effort into writing great content, it’ll be well worth the investment. 

The biggest web design trends of 2020 

In the rapidly changing environment of 2020, it’s never been more crucial for businesses to build an online presence. But with so many brands jumping on the digital bandwagon, how can you set your website apart from the rest? Web design is a fast-moving industry and it’s not always easy to keep up with ever-changing trends. Is your website looking a little stuck in the past? Bring it back to life with this year’s hottest web design trends! Or if you need to build a website from scratch, why not hire a web design expert to bring your vision to life? 

Dark mode

It’s safe to say there’s been a lot of buzz around dark mode. Whether it’s on your mobile, laptop, or twitter account, you’ve probably seen dark mode somewhere this year. As a concept, it couldn’t be simpler – an option that lets you change the background colour of your application to black. But don’t let its simplicity fool you – its sleek appearance and modern feel has meant that dark mode has dominated everyone’s screens this year. There’s more to it than visual appeal, too. Dark mode helps to protect your eyes from the glare of computer and telephone screens. Trendy and comfortable – we’ll take that. More web design trends 

Bold Lettering

When it comes to lettering this year, think big, bold, and beautiful. It’s a crowded online marketplace, which makes it difficult for customers to remember your website. One of the easiest ways to be memorable is by simple, oversized lettering. It helps hone in on your core message, drowning out other unnecessary clutter. And guess what – remembering your website makes customers more likely to return to it. A winner all round! If you want to take it up a notch, why not replace images with lettering? Letting the text do the talking is a compelling way to get your message across. 

Lots of whitespace

If you’re wondering what whitespace is, the clue is in the name. It’s the gap between content on a website – so anything filling the space between images, graphics and text. Whitespace might seem simple, but it’s a powerful web design tool. It creates a fresh and tidy looking interface, draws attention to call-to-actions, and highlights the key message of your website. 

Colour blocking 

Solid colour blocking is a classic style that’s made a come-back in 2020. Put simply, it uses bright, vibrant colours to separate the page of a website. So if you’ve got lots of messages you wish to convey on one screen, this is a visually appealing and simple way to display it. 

Split-screen layout

Divide and conquer – that’s the idea behind the split-screen layout. It lets your website display multiple bits of information on a single page, meaning that everything is tidied and organised in one place. The result? It’s slick, clear and simple to navigate for users. 

Minimalism

Have you noticed that tech gadgets are getting smaller? With Apple watches and the like soaring in popularity, web designs have had to change to fit the mould of these much smaller interfaces. That’s where minimalist design comes in. It reduces design elements down to the basics to accommodate tiny screens. A minimalist design will typically have very little information on display, making use of the full-width of the screen. For a striking minimalist design, opt for vibrant colours, bold typography and plenty of whitespace. 

VUI 

Voice User Interface is a handy tool that lets users interact with a website using voice commands. It’s a dream for user experience due to the simplicity of browsing that it offers website users. Think of it as an Alexa device for your website. 

Whichever web design style you choose, always make sure that it represents your brand identity and the key message you want to get across. After all, your website is one of the first things a customer reacts with, and first impressions count.

An easy guide: How to build an online presence for your small business

We are surrounded by media. From when we sit at the bus stop in the morning to when we chill out in front of the TV in the evening, we are constantly targeted by large companies and brands who are desperate to gain our attention. This has become increasingly prevalent in the age of social media, which has provided another avenue from which brands can target us, even drilling down into our demographics and interests. With that in mind, small business owners now need to make sure that they are developing an online presence, to make them stand out in industries that are already heavily saturated.

It’s common knowledge that online presence means brand awareness. Nowadays, how you present your brand online is similar to meeting a customer for the first time. Your online brand is essentially what people think of you when you are not available. Online presence is often a test of credibility for many technologically savvy consumers, who would rather connect with businesses online first before making a purchasing decision. This poses an opportunity to impress and capture the attention of potential customers. These days the first port of call when looking for information about a product or a service is to ‘Google’ it, meaning online presence is crucial if you want to make your business a successful one.

So how can you become a major player in this competitive age? Here are 5 ways to effectively maximise your online presence:

Branding 

No matter how big or small your company is – branding matters. From word go a clear and consistent branding strategy should be developed, which can be pumped across all online channels to create brand recognition. According to the founder of The NY Brand Lb, Mary Van de Wiel, “without a brand you ultimately lack an identity, a presence – and a purpose.” You should think about your tone of voice and your values, as well as your visual aesthetic. Not particularly creative? Don’t know where to start? Then maybe you should find a graphic designer who can help you pinpoint what your business is about in a visually appealing way.

Communicate your brand
Shout loud about your brand

Website Design and Development 

You never know who will be knocking on your virtual door at any time of the day or night – so make sure your home on the Internet is kitted out for new visitors! Creating and more importantly maintaining a website is a useful tool for every business. Here, you can shout loud about your portfolio of work and maybe even offer your tuppence-worth via a company blog. Your website needs to be functional and user friendly, and this is where a professional with experience in website design and development may come in handy! Once you find the right web developer, start thinking about optimising your website. This will make sure that your website performs well on search engines – just like the aforementioned Google! Be front and centre of the online world, and drive traffic to your website with the help of an SEO professional.

Web Site Design
Build a user-friendly website!

Social Media

You’ve developed your brand, and mastered your website. But how can you enhance the visibility of your brand even further? The key is to make sure you are on social media – which is both effective and cost effective. Social media not only helps you to grow your customer base by reaching a wider audience, it also helps you to promote brand recognition and loyalty. Find a social media marketer who can help you maximise channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Although not the most widely used social network, G+ should also be maximised. Effective use of G+ can determine your inclusion and ranking in the carousel of businesses that appear at the top of the Google search results. As well as aiding your SEO, there are also advanced features available to businesses using G+. Check out G+ for yourself and add Bark.com to your circles!

If you’re feeling particularly competitive, you might want to also get set up on new and emerging social networks like Snapchat and Periscope. The opportunities are endless!

Be active on social media
Engage with your customers via social media

Email Marketing

In this day and age, almost everyone has an online presence in some form, even if it is just an email address. Email marketing is a sure way to stay on the radar of potential customers, and it can definitely allow you to establish profitable relationships in the long term. This is to be used wisely, and should not be spam abuse. Instead your emails should offer something to the consumer – be it special offers, industry news or company updates. Feeling a little confused? Then find an email marketer to help you get the job done.

Build a customer database
Build a targeted email marketing campaign

Online Directories

Regardless of how strong your online presence is, you won’t be able to sit back, relax and let the cash flow in. You need to get ahead of your competitors, who are battling against you with extensive advertising budgets. If a customer can’t find you when they are searching for a product or a service, then you simply won’t get the business. Joining an online directory like our very own Bark.com ensures that you are placed directly in front of the right people, often for a very minimal spend. No matter what service you provide, learn more about joining Bark by visiting our Pro-Centre.

Incorporating a targeted email marketing campaign with your slick new branding, user-friendly website and engaging social media strategy will set your small business on a path to success, all with the added help from an online directory like Bark.com!

Do you have any other tips for small business owners? Let us know!

For more Bark.com tips and insights, why not check out our other blogs?