I was casually flicking through the Guardian app this morning whilst drinking my coffee, and one article title grabbed my attention. It read:
Downing Street to garden retreat: David Cameron spends £25,000 on luxury hut
I’ve always found it fascinating to read about what ex-politicians get up to in their own time once they’re no longer in the spotlight (although, it appears you can’t even spend a measly £25k on a hut without someone writing an article about it).
I tapped on the title and read the article. Turns out, David, with the help of his wife Samantha, bought a really nice bespoke shepherd’s hut for his garden, which he’s going to use to write his memoirs. It’s got that fancy Farrow & Ball paint that you see in B&Q but never buy because paint is paint, right? It’s also got Bakelite light switches and hardwood stable doors.
At this point, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with websites. As I read on, David Cameron explains how he came to purchasing the bespoke shepherd’s hut. In his own words:
“When Samantha said we should look for one – I said I’d sort it out. I basically Googled shepherd huts, found Paul’s company and I liked the look of the website.”
Turns out that, just like us mere mortals, David Cameron also googles things!
The company who create the shepherd huts are called Red Sky Shepherds Huts, which is owned by Paul Bennett. Their website is a very nice example of how to effectively use white space to your advantage. It’s clean, modern, attractive and is designed perfectly to entice their target market.
David said he liked the look of the website, and that’s the exact reaction that every business owner should strive for when designing their website. You have to put your own emotions to one side when designing a website, and consider the end user. I work with business owners on a daily basis, and I occasionally have to remind them that we design things with the aim of ticking these three areas:
It reflects the brand and values of the business.
It appeals to the businesses’ target demographic.
It is clear, easy to use, with anyone being able to find what they’re looking for in just a few clicks.
Most businesses will get it right with the first point. They’ll want to make sure that everything is on-brand and reflects what their business is all about, which is great! But unfortunately, points 2 and 3 get ignored more often than they should.
Point 2 relates to how your online presence should be portrayed, depending on your target demographic. If you’re a highly professional, corporate business providing government equipment, your website and its’ content is going to be very different when compared to your local yacht club’s website.
Point 3 relates to user experience, or UX. Websites should have certain fundamental functionalities such as being mobile responsive. They should also consider what the majority of their website visitors will do (or intend to do) when visiting their website. If you’re a local mechanic, it’s likely that most people are simply looking for your phone number, or a way to book an appointment with you. If you’re a magazine, a visitor could simply be looking to read some articles, or set up a subscription. These core elements should be first and foremost when designing a website.
But I digress – let’s get back to Mr. Cameron. The other important point about this story is that Red Sky Shepherds Huts were found by David Cameron on Google. As of 30/04/17, they sit in 2nd position for the Google search term ‘shepherds huts oxfordshire’. Their SEO, however minimal or expansive it may be, is working for them.
And I wouldn’t be surprised to see them jump to the top spot in the coming months.
Anyone could have bought a hut from Red Sky Shepherds Huts that day, but because it was David Cameron, it garnered a huge amount of publicity from news companies. Publicity means more exposure, more backlinks from authoritative websites, and higher rankings for Red Sky Shepherds Huts. Higher rankings equate to increased sales, and all of this was because of two simple things: