How to get engaged online

This was posted on February 13th, 2017

 

What says “I love you” more than web design that draws in an audience and keeps them engaged long enough to foster an emotional connection?

Ok, a romantic spa break or unexpected marriage proposal may come close, but in business, nothing quite cuts it in the engagement stakes like a well-designed web presence.

Over the years, we’ve seen all manner of web technologies come and go. With each one, there has been a web design bandwagon aboard which many a marketing agency has jumped. Few stick around, though, due to the fact that many are more focused on technical prowess than usability and engagement.

Thankfully, those days appear to be behind us. What we’re left with now is a bunch of ever-advancing web technologies, which enable web designers to make business websites engaging and easy-to-use.

So, how can you set hearts pounding with your business website?

We’ve decided to highlight five ways any website can win the affections of your target audience:

  1. Homepage videos

As far back as 2012, it was reported that 87% of marketers relied on video for the majority of their content creation.

There’s one very good reason for this – video is incredibly sticky. Pop a video on your homepage, and you’ll almost certainly start to drive higher engagement from visitors.

The video can be anything (within reason) – a behind-the-scenes tour, team intro or simple ‘to-camera’ piece about the history of the business.

Give it a go!

  1. Proper CTA placement

What do you want visitors to your website to do?

Once they’ve read and digested the content on the website, where should they head next?

The answer might be to contact your sales team, sign up to a newsletter or make a purchase, but whatever it is, you need to make it an obvious next step.

Placement of the call-to-action is vital if you’re to win the attention of potential customers. By-and-large that means placing it prominently within the upper third of the website and ensuring it is a common element on all pages.

  1. Off-grid elements

It shouldn’t be forgotten that entire sections of content and areas of user interaction can be hidden from view until needed. It’s why we regularly see ‘burger’ menus at the top left or right of a web page.

The most common element to hide in this way is the main navigation, which works fabulously in the modern age due to the fact that people are spending more of their time using smartphone apps that employ similar techniques.

  1. A fixed header

An oldie, but a goldie.

Fixed headers have long been a staple of great web design because they provide simple, intuitive navigation for users, no matter where they happen to be on the page.

If they fancy jumping to a different section, the route will always be immediately obvious.

  1. Subtle animations

We’ve seen all manner of fancy animations hit the web, from early implementations of resource-hungry Flash to the more recent incarnations of parallax scrolling.

The trick with animation in web design is to only use it when it offers a genuine benefit to the user. If it’s only there for show, an animation is nothing more than a distraction.

By instead implementing subtle animations that only make themselves known as the user scrolls down and interacts with the website, you’ll draw them in further and encourage interaction.

Bonus tip: Don’t forget the metrics (to measure engagement!)

Let’s say you follow all of the tips in this post and end up with a beautiful yet functional website. How will you set about measuring engagement?

Failing to do so may put your hard work to waste, and it’ll certainly prevent you from spotting opportunities to iterate and improve the design.

Avoid the common mistake of leaving a website to do its job in the belief that you’ve carried out the hard work required to make it a success. Install Google Analytics and pay particular attention to bounce rates, page interaction and time on site.

By doing so, you’ll quickly discover whether or not you really have set hearts aflutter with your lovingly-crafted new website.

Chances are, if you follow the tips above, you’ll almost certainly win lots of new admirers!

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How to avoid the wrath of Google and add an SSL certificate to your website

This was posted on February 1st, 2017

Add SSL article to IHM blog

Google has got a bee in its bonnet about insecure websites. And it’s a rather big bee.

So big, in fact, that it’s now shining a very bright spotlight on any website that doesn’t have an SSL certificate.

“HTTP, we’re readying to call you out for what you are: UNSAFE!” tweeted Parisa Tabriz, manager of Google’s security team last January. She was referring to an upcoming change to Google’s Chrome web browser that would make it ultra-clear when websites aren’t secured via HTTPS.

What is HTTPS?

Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, to give it its full name, is simply the secure version of ‘HTTP’, which is the industry standard protocol over which data is sent between a user’s browser and the website they’re viewing.

Websites that use HTTPS benefit from encrypted communication between the browser and web server. From a user’s perspective, the presence of HTTPS is usually denoted by a padlock symbol in the address bar of modern web browsers, but ‘https’ will also be present in the URL (e.g. ‘https://www.ihm.co.uk’).

So, what is Google doing, exactly?

The change to Google Chrome adds a prominent red ‘X’ to the padlock symbol whenever a website that doesn’t use HTTPS is detected. Previously, it simply displayed a blank white page symbol for such websites.

Originally announced back in 2014, the rationale behind the change was obvious – Google wanted to make it blindingly clear to the user when a website was using insecure methods to transport data to and from their device.

Insecure websites increase the opportunity for hackers to snoop or intercept communications – a threat that is more prevalent than ever in the digital economy and a key concern for anyone using the web. The presence of a red mark against a website, therefore, is likely to be taken seriously by most people.

“The goal of this proposal is to more clearly display to users that HTTP provides no data security,” Google’s Chris Palmer accurately summed up in an open forum back in 2014.

What’s an SSL certificate?

An SSL certificate is a small file stored on a web server which adds a cryptographic key to the data. When installed, it automatically activates the HTTPS protocol and enables the aforementioned secure transfer of data to and from web browsers.

 

The benefits of HTTPS and SSL for business

There are few threats online greater than hackers looking to steal vital personal or business information. If your business website has a valid SSL certificate installed, you’ll have taken a huge preventative step against hackers and those intent on intercepting your communications.

Without SSL and HTTPS, both your business data and that of the customer is at risk. The potential consequences of a breach simply don’t bear thinking about, and with Google Chrome now making it very clear indeed when a website isn’t secure, the brand damage and potential loss of business for those without SSL encryption could be significant.

Equally, and although not explicitly mentioned during Google’s announcement of the new Chrome feature, there’s always the chance that the search giant could begin penalising websites that are insecure by dropping their ranking within search results.

With relatively low cost of SSL certificates and the odds stacking up against insecure websites, investing in HTTPS is advisable for businesses of all sizes.

How do I add HTTPS to my business website?

So, you understand you need  to add HTTPS to your website. Great! But how do you go about doing so? Thankfully, the process is relatively straightforward.

Just speak to us and if you use our hosting services we have the expertise required to get an SSL certificate up and running.

It’s time to get secure and avoid the wrath of Google.

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