Top 10 Tips to get the most from your website

Vision ICT websites offer a plethora of components and layouts that allow you to edit your website to your specific needs. But if you’ve had our websites for a long time or you are a new clerk, you may not know about these things which can take your site to the next level. 


10. Planning Application Component

Using our planning application component makes it easier for your residents to comment on and view everything about an application. You can link directly to the applications specific page on the planning portal just by clicking the reference and the main details are there to view at a glance.

We can also add multiple components to separate planning applications by year.


9. Organisation Display

For many residents, the council website is a hub of information, not just about the council but also about their community. Part of this can involve displaying organisations, groups, businesses and maybe even setting up a directory. Usually you want to display contact details, additional information and maybe even a map for each organisation but this can make pages unruly, messy, and hard to add to.

With our organisation display, you can add contact details, images, web links, additional text and if you add a postcode, our system will generate a google map for you. All this displayed on the organisations own page that you access with one click. New organisations will be put into the list alphabetically. You can even separate these displays by type or area, making it easy for your residents to find what they are looking for.


8. Heading Images

Its one of the most obvious rules of design, but a website with images will always look more interesting that a website which is just plain text. Images allow your eyes to take a break when processing a huge amount of information; can provide visual context to something being explained or just help residents get to know your town/village/city/councillors/staff better. As well as being able to add images into text boxes, did you know you can also add heading images which span across a page?

Full instructions can be found on our help and support site.

7. News Stories

Letting your residents know what’s happening in their community and their council is integral to good transparency, and news stories are a fantastic way to do that.

Those of you who have our news component already will know that you can add images, posters, external links, document links and text into the description of a news story the same as you can on any normal web page. But did you know that you can also link them directly to external websites or internal pages, and share those news stories directly to Facebook or Twitter? Read our post on Adding and Editing news stories for more information.


6. Hidden and Draft pages

Sometimes you may need to add a new page to the website that you don’t want users to see until it is ready. This is where our page management function shines. You can set up a hidden or draft page that can only be accessed by a link, not through the main page navigation. This allows you to work on the page in the background until you are ready to reveal it.

You may also want to hide the sub pages of a section, to clean up your navigation and compel users to click on the section page to get to those subpages.

5. Linking to internal pages

Websites, web pages and the world wide web; the internet is a series of links that form a complex well… web. It can often be necessary to reference a page on your site to another page on your site, whether its to link to sub pages in a section or just refer people to a place where they can find more in depth information.

Internal linking is an important part of strong SEO which helps your website reach higher and remain higher up the list on search engines. Having pages that reference each other keeps a user on your site for longer as they become involved in your website. The best pages to link to are the hidden ones and the ones in your subpages, rather than the ones that can be easily found in your navigation bar.

Linking within the text of a sentence or paragraph can be stronger than linking to an image as your telling your user and the search engine that the page you are linking to is so interesting that you want them to be able to find it in one extremely easy click. This not only helps your users to find relevant information quickly but helps your SEO. 

4. Customise your Layout

Vision websites are made of pages with a series of components that can be edited, moved around, and deleted to suit your needs. To the far left of each component (you can tell where a new component begins as it will have a title that you can edit and a horizontal line where it ends) are up and down arrow icons, a dustbin icon and a constrain/full screen icon. The up/down icons move each component up and down the page, the dustbin deleted the component entirely and the constrain/full screen icon makes the component either reach to the edges of the page or fit within the middle 2/4.

A few of our components also allow layout changes with just a few clicks to display different information. For example, our people component has a drop down underneath so you can display any combination of the person’s name, and contact information, their photo, or a bio/description. A 2/3 1/3 text box has a drop down to allow you to switch which side has the smaller column and events components allow you to swap between a simple view and links to more information. Committee members lists can also display different amounts of information and meetings can be split into years or displayed all on one page. Try these different customisations until you find a layout that suits you.

3. Formatting Tool

Have you ever gone to a website only to be presented with 10 different colours and fonts, and words screaming at you so loudly that you didn’t know where to start reading? Its for this reason that our websites are designed with clear heading and text styles built in. Our designers have selected fonts and colours that work well together and are accessible to people with colour-blindness (in keeping with the accessibility regulations).

However, you can bypass our styles by pasting text directly into the text box. This causes a problem for accessibility but also the professionalism of your site. To fix this issue we have a formatting tool which strips any styling from the text while keeping the links; it’s easy to use with just a few clicks. You can then reformat the text using our text editing icons and in-built headings.


2. Add Social Media Feeds

Social Media has become a staple for most businesses and organisations wanting to reach a wider audience, especially in this time of social isolation. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram give you the ability to get feedback from and interact with your community. Not only can you remind them of events, but you can get their input on decisions and create a place where your residents can communicate and help each other.

Now, not only can we add a linked icon to your navigation bar for social media, but we can also place the feed directly on the pages of your website. Residents who may not know about your social media presence will be able to see and click on it more easily than ever before.

1. Multiple Text Box options

While plain text spanning a page is functional and good enough for a blog post, I’m sure most people would agree that variation in text box layout and graphics keeps your reader invested in the content. For interesting design on our websites, use any of our 6 text box options.

Full width is nice and functional but a bit dated; two columns can split nicely two pieces of equal information or two options. The one third, two thirds text box is invaluable as it allows you to add a photo to a larger piece of descriptive text or to provide a side panel for links and documents. You can even switch which side has the larger box. Our other text columns can be used to display multiple images, useful links, documents, or step by step instructions. They can contain logos for businesses or represent days or years for information. Do not use these columns as you would a table however as they stack on top of each other when viewed on a mobile phone. Use the text box that best fits the content you have, experiment with using different ones for better layouts and elevate your website.

We hope that you will use these tips to experiment and get more comfortable with updating and customising your website. If you are interested in any of the features above or in one of our websites, please contact us via email at info@visionict.com or on the phone 01392 669497. 

~ Mel Hingston 

Get in touch with us

We would be delighted to chat about your ideas and identify how we can help you. Call or email our friendly and talented team to discuss your requirements.

1 Southernhay West, Exeter, Devon, EX1 1JG
Company No: 3911169