Web designer April Hodge on women in tech, building your own site and, erm, the best cocktails in Hampshire.
Hi April, how are you?
I am very well thank you.
You’re the Design Director at Littlebigbox, can you tell us a bit more about what you do and who you work with?
Of course, as most self-employed people will know we have to wear many hats! I don’t just design websites; I manage the marketing, social media, sales, accounts the list doesn’t really end. Saying that, I would not change my job for the world. I have the privilege of working with so many amazing start-ups and small businesses within the UK. I have worked with such a variety of businesses ranging from beauty, fashion, and musicians to theatre and mental health charities.
So many Muddy readers run brilliant small businesses. What are your top tips for anyone reading this who wants to build an effective website?
There are a lot of things to consider when building a website but if I had to choose the top five they would be as follows:
1. Use a CMS (Content Management System) that will allow you to easily update your website content and imagery.
2. Make sure to have a minimum of 300 words per page on your website, Google loves content and will favour your website if it includes a lot of content. If your website is product based it can be hard to write that many words, so another option is to have a blog which will show Google that you are regularly adding new content to your website.
3. Clean and simple is the best style for any website! Don’t be scared of white space. If you pack your site with too many colours and text it will remove focus from the areas that you want people to see.
4. Think of your website homepage as your very own shop window, it is the first thing people see when they visit and you must grab their attention right away.
5. Research is key. Before you start, make sure that you research everything. See what your top competitors are doing, choose the best names for your website pages, the best style of promotional imagery, do you have a niche that could be exploited?
Tell us a bit more about web design? What attracted you to it? How did you start out?
From a very young age I was surrounded by computers and would sit for hours with my dad watching whilst he worked on his computer so I always knew I wanted to do something technology-based. This will show my age, but I remember my very first experience of coding was on MySpace (the social media network), you couldn’t do much but you could change the colours of your profile and styling. After this I was hooked on coding and loved being able to create something new before my very eyes.
How do you find being a woman in tech, which is such a male dominated industry?
I still find this industry very male dominated however I do believe times are changing, I see more and more women taking the leap into the tech world, which is great! I am not intimidated by this and believe that there should be equal opportunities for everyone.
WordPress v. Squarespace, the debate rages on. What’s your take?
Personally, I will always favour WordPress. Don’t get me wrong Square Space does have some good features and can be a great platform for start-ups who are looking to build their own website. However, WordPress offers a lot more freedom and you can do just about anything with it. It’s very user friendly as well and all my clients find it very easy to use, even those who dislike technology!
We’re a nosy lot at Muddy, can you give us a behind the scenes tour of your typical working day? How do you balance life/work when you run your own business?
I am not going to lie it can be quite difficult trying to find the right life/work balance. I find it helpful to set my work hours. I work 9- 5 Monday to Friday and have my weekends to spend with my family and friends. I also try to take a holiday at least once a year to give myself some time to recharge and enjoy life.
You’re a Southampton girl, can you give us your top five places to visit/eat/stay and do in the city and south Hampshire?
This is quite a tough one as there are so many great places to go in Southampton and Hampshire. If I had to give my top five faves they would be:
1. I recently visited Otter Nurseries at Lymington Café for a meeting and it was stunning. You can sit outside surrounded by flowers, working in peace whilst having tea and cake.
2. Shanghai 1814 Chinese Restaurant make the tastiest Chinese food and the building is beautiful with chandeliers hanging from the ceilings. They also have karaoke rooms, which is great fun.
3. Lyndhurst is by far my favourite place to visit. There are great cafes, including The Greenwood Tree Café, and I love walking through the fields with the horses.
4. When it comes to food Nando’s is one of my favourite places to go, the staff are always so lovely and you can’t beat spicy chicken.
5. Turtle Bay is my go to place for cocktails, they taste amazing and they are 2-for-1 until 7pm.
Lovely chatting to you April and good luck with everything!
It has been a privilege and a pleasure, thank you!