B&Q Show the Importance of Upgrading Your Website

This was posted on November 5th, 2014

bandq

On this blog we often extol the virtues of upgrading your website and keeping up to date with modern technologies. No matter how big or small your business, this is vital.

Take B&Q for example, who recently announced the launch of their new £60 million website. DIY.com professes to be the UK’s busiest DIY website, getting over 3.5 million visitors a week. It might seem only natural, then, that a company the size of B&Q would have to keep up to date with the most recent trends in web design and website development, but does that mean that your small business should ignore them?

The argument should be much the opposite. B&Q, after all, are the largest DIY chain in the country and will likely be the first place people go to for their home improvement needs regardless of whether or not they’re keeping right on top of all of the latest web trends and technologies. Your small business, however, is competing with hundreds and thousands of others at a similar level to you and you will need to ensure you stand head and shoulders above the rest. This is why small businesses really can’t afford to fall behind.

B&Q have a very strong reputation and many people will stick with them regardless, even if their website takes a bit of getting used to and doesn’t quite work the way they expect it to. When a customer is faced with either using Fred Bloggs Plumbing Ltd or Joe Smith Plumbing Ltd, not knowing anything about either of them, the factors which then come into play to help the customer decide which company to use can change drastically. And your website is just one of those factors, but a pretty big one — particularly if the potential customer is comparing both companies on the web.

This is why keeping on top of the latest trends in website development and design is so particularly important to small business owners and is why we love to work with small and medium sized companies in order to help them get the best out of the web. To speak to us about your website, call us today on 01604 790007 and we’ll let you know how we can help.

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3 New Google Devices Announced

This was posted on October 20th, 2014

nexus6

 

Hot off the heels of the latest iPhones and iPad, Google has recently announced three new Android-powered devices running under its Nexus brand.

One of the most exciting new products is the Nexus Player, which introduces Android TV to the living rooms of the world, bringing the power of Android to your TV. You’ll be able to buy movies and shows through Google Play or use apps to find new things to watch. You’ll also be able to access Netflix, YouTube and a range of other services. Think of it as something akin to XBMC but without the need to set up a dedicated server or box. At a cost of just $99 (£62), it’s one of the cheapest ways of turning your TV into a net-connected Smart TV.

The already popular Nexus smartphones and tablets have another two devices in the range — the Nexus 6 smartphone, which comes with two front-facing speakers and a part-chargeable battery, through which a 15-minute charge will last around six hours, which should certainly put a dent in Apple’s market share. The Nexus 9 tablet now has a 4:3 aspect ratio, making it far more usable for productivity apps. Both devices come with metal exteriors, making them feel far more ‘premium’ as opposed to the plastic feel previous Nexus devices had.

Are the changes enough to topple Apple? Probably not, but they’re certainly a step in the right direction and the new features continue along the path of usability and functionality as opposed to the sparkly, glittering features that Apple tend to opt for. With the Nexus 6 expected to be priced around £400 and the Nexus 9 at £250, the pricing is somewhat cheaper than for equivalent Apple products, which should appeal to many users.

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10 Shocking Halloween website horrors — Part 2

This was posted on October 14th, 2014

website-horrors-part2

 

The spooky festival of Halloween is fast approaching, and last week we showed you five of the worst horrors you could commit on your website. We also promised you another five, and we’re always true to our word, so here’s another set of things you certainly should not do on your website!

  1. Call-to-action zombie wasteland. This is actually quite a scary one, as a lot of people don’t even know what a call-to-action is, despite having a company website and expecting to get new business out of it. The action is what you want visitors to your website to do: buy a product, phone you, sign up to your newsletter; whatever. The call-to-action is what compels your user to carry out that action, be it imagery or convincing wording. Hell, even bribery works as a call-to-action, but the point of the matter is that you need one.
  2. Monstrous blocks of text. No-one likes reading big blocks of text, and that point’s even more pertinent on the internet. Break it up with bullet points and lists (see, that’s exactly what we’re doing with this blog post) and people are far more likely to stick around and read it (just as you’re still sticking around and reading this).
  3. Eternally sliding sliders. Yes, sliders are a great way to convey a lot of information in a small piece of screen space, but cramming loads of content onto each slide and having 80 of them rotating away is just annoying. Again, stick to the principle that you want to make things easy for the user and get them into following that call-to-action above anything else.
  4. A soulless About Us page. People often neglect this page. Factually, it’s usually the last page people read. When they do, though, it’s because they want to find out more about you as a company. Don’t waffle on about the rubbish no-one wants to know about. This isn’t where you try to impress people — it’s where you need to instil trust and do that final bit of convincing to push the user over the line into trusting you with their money and their business.
  5. Automaton videos. No, no, no! Facebook have really taken a huge rap from their users recently for enforcing auto-playing videos, and if people can refuse to use Facebook because of it they can certainly click away from your site and onto a competitor’s. Never force anything on the user — give them the choice and they’ll thank you for it with their money and their business.

If, as a website owner, you’ve managed to avoid each of these 10 website horrors, you’ll be going a long way to online success. If you’re starting to feel a bit guilty about a couple of them, it might be best you give us a call…

 

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10 Shocking Halloween website horrors — Part 1

This was posted on October 6th, 2014

website-horrors-part1

 

Halloween will soon be upon us, and it’ll be perfectly normal for a couple of nights to see witches, ghosts and monsters walking the streets of the world. In the world of the internet, though, we’re subjected to some monstrous horrors every single day of the year. Yes, we’re talking about horror websites. This week and next, we’ll show you 10 of the worst things you can do to your website. But for now, here’s 5…

 

  1. Frighteningly bad stock images. Seriously. No-one’s fooled. Nobody really thinks that woman with the gleaming white teeth with the phone pressed up against her ear actually works in your office, especially as she’s on five hundred other websites across the net. And no, we don’t want to see two men in suits with briefcases shaking hands. Behave yourself!
  2. Over-SEO’d zombie-like content. Yes, we know you know the basics of SEO. We also know SEO is important. But what we know and you don’t is that you can over-SEO a website to the point where it’s actually doing you harm. If a user can’t read your website properly because it’s loaded with keywords and weird over-SEO’d stuff, they’re going to go elsewhere. The search engines might love you (they probably won’t), but your potential customers will be leaving in their hordes.
  3. Information overkill. Your homepage should help the end user get what they want quickly. Give them the basics; don’t give them the life story of you and your company and every single service you perform. They need to know the basics and they need to know them quickly, else they’ll go to your competitor. After all, your competitor is only two clicks away. Keep them on your site instead!
  4. Mysterious navigation. Make your site easy to navigate, or users won’t bother trying. As above, your competitor’s website is only two clicks away, and the customer doesn’t care that you’re losing business. They want an easy life and to get the answers they’re looking for quickly, so help them out. Don’t use confusing jargon and industry-speak; keep it simple.
  5. Creaking loading times. We know it’s 2014 and that a large proportion of the country is on super-fast broadband, but that’s no excuse for extremely hi-def images on your homepage and massive great videos swamping the page real estate. It’s going to make loading times much longer than they need to be, especially for users on mobile internet who are looking for something quickly. Again, it goes back to making the experience easy for the customer, as otherwise they’ll go elsewhere!

Of course, none of this should apply to you. If it does, you’ll need to get it sorted out and pretty quickly, so your website doesn’t become another Halloween horror. More next week…

 

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Jazzing up your website for Halloween

This was posted on September 23rd, 2014

It might seem like a long way away, especially with the warm weather we’re still having across many parts of the country, but Halloween is only five weeks away. Oh, you don’t celebrate it? Well a good number of your customers and website visitors no doubt will do, so you’ll want to mark it in some way.


haloween-web-design
What not to do

We all remember how we used to know Christmas was coming a few years ago: You’d log on to your favourite website and the logo would have a Santa hat and there’d be animated snowflakes falling down the screen. Thankfully, the days are long gone, and these days the jazzing up of websites for Christmas is far more tasteful and done in the spirit in which it is intended. There are, though, a number of other methods which you should not be tempted to use…

Firstly, don’t let your developers or ‘tech guys’ do the design. Back-end coding and design are completely different things. Your customer won’t see the perfectly-formed PHP code or well-organised SQL tables. They’ll see a terrible design.

The same goes for for copy — if you’re writing pages for Halloween itself, don’t be tempted to do this in-house. Writing copy for the web is a very specific art. It’s your shopfront. You wouldn’t do your own sign-writing or write your own TV advert, so why chance losing sales through your website?

Any changes you make to your design must reflect on your mobile design. Before that, even, they must work on your mobile design. Don’t go over the top with fancy graphics if a decent percentage of your customers won’t be able to access your site as a result.

Engage social media

Social media is a fantastic way to get your customers engaged in a holiday or seasonal event. Why not hold a Twitter costume contest, asking your followers to send you pictures of their Halloween costume with a prize for the winner? Pet halloween costumes are very popular, too!

Why not ask users to tweet a 140-character spooky story? You could even hold a pumpkin-carving contest on your Facebook page or ask users to submit their spookiest photo or drawing with a prize for the best one.

As always, you’ll need to use your social media platform to engage with your users rather than talking to them. People don’t like being sold to, and that’s even truer online where everyone’s trying to do it. Build a relationship and a platform through fun events such as the ones listed above and you’ll find that people’s views of your company increase and you’ll be far more likely to stick in their minds and pick up their business in the future.

Use it as a marketing tool

If you sell anything that’s even remotely related to Halloween or horror/scary stuff, you can capitalise on it, even if it’s only a couple of products. Even if you sell something as seemingly unrelated as personalised car number plates, there are some fantastic Halloween combinations which could be used for your Halloween marketing campaign.

Keep it light-hearted

This ties into the social media points above: Keep it fun and light-hearted and use Halloween as an opportunity to show the world your company’s personal side. Show everyone you’re just people like they are and that you’re one of them, celebrating and marking the festival of Halloween.

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How does the iPhone 6 affect web design?

This was posted on September 16th, 2014

 

iphone6-affect-web-design

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few days, you’ll probably be well aware that Apple have announced the launch of the new iPhone 6. Any new technology can have web designers biting their fingernails and quaking in their boots as they rush to find out what effect it’ll have on web design practices. After all, the iPhone is one of the most popular browsing devices in the modern age, so ensuring your website is viewable on it is vital.

The current iPhone 5 model has a 4-inch screen, displaying a 1136x640px resolution at 326ppi. The iPhone 6 base model, however, has a 4.7-inch screen, displaying 1334x750px at 326ppi. The larger iPhone 6 model, however, will have a 5.5-inch screen, with a whopping 1920x1080px display at 401ppi. So not only is the new screen larger, but there’s an even larger model available as well.

A lot of websites will have problems — that’s no secret. But if your website has been properly designed to have a responsive layout, it should cause no problems at all. Responsive design is meant to be flexible, meaning it can respond to any resolution, screen width and pixel density. There are a number of advantages, though.

For example, the iPhone 6 offers web designers far more screen real estate, meaning more information can be shown without cluttering the screen and making the content difficult to read. The increased resolution and pixel density on the larger iPhone 6 will make images seem crisper and sharper, too, meaning you can make the most of your graphic designers and really show off the visual aspects of your website without worrying about text becoming unreadable. The new larger screen sizes are key.

Once again, though, it all comes back to responsive design. If your website has been designed to respond to different screen sizes and adapt to keep the site visible and readable no matter what the resolution or pixel density, you’ll find that it adapts to the iPhone 6 just as well as it does to other models, effectively future-proofing your website from a device point of view by ensuring a responsive design is in place.

So the basic message is not to worry, particularly if you’ve got a responsive website design. If anything, the new iPhones could bring about a range of advantages and new opportunities for website designers and business owners.

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Top website mistakes you must avoid

This was posted on August 1st, 2014

website-mistakes

 

The web is often the first place people will find out about a company, or it will be where people go to ‘check out’ a business. The trouble is, it is also a crowded place and is very easy to leave and find someone else. All business owners know how important their website is, but so many websites suffer from mistakes that can easily be avoided. Here are some of the most common.
Walls of text. With so much to look at online speed is of the essence and visitors are not prepared to read large block of text. They want headlines, pictures and video so it is easy

Poor quality images. It’s easy to spot stock images but they are used time and time again. They do not give a website any personality or demonstrate who you actually are. A few good quality ‘real images give a true and quality appearance.

Lack of or a bad ‘call-to-action. The main thing you want from your website is for people to contact you. So this needs to be made clear and easy. Do not just rely on one page with your contact details.

Filling all the space on the page. White space is one of the best ways to make the important things stand out. We want to be able to see and understand the page quickly. This is not possible with a crowded webpage.

Confusing navigation. Make it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for. Keep it simple and logical. Keep menu titles short, concise and in a logical order.

Pop-up windows. Apart from being annoying and old fashioned it can become very confusing to have multiple windows open at once.

Not answering visitors’ questions. People go to a website for information so it is important to tell them what they want to know.

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Big changes for UK website addresses

This was posted on May 16th, 2014

ukFrom the 10th of June 2014, new .uk domain names become available for the first time. This is one of the most significant changes to UK web addresses ever bringing the UK into line with countries such as France (.fr) and Germany (.de) and is almost certain to eventually replace .co.uk as the extension of choice for British companies.

So is it worth registering a .uk and what are the implications for businesses?

The shorter domain will give businesses a simpler and more memorable web address, and is the clearest indication yet that you are a business based in the UK. It will also mark your company out as right on top of technological developments.

The introduction of the .uk domain is not simply a matter of national pride – it has been created to benefit businesses in the UK. One significant factor of registering a .uk domain will be a requirement for registrants to prove that their companies are based in the UK – giving visitors the confidence that the domain is owned by a real British company.

.co.uk is still staying though, along with .org.uk, .me.uk and all the other domains ending in .uk that currently exist. Businesses with these domain names are being offered a five-year free reservation period in which they can take up the .uk version of their name. After this time the domain will become available to be registered by anyone.

Essentially, if you already have a web address ending in .uk, there is no need to rush, and as long as no conflict exists with another .uk business with the same name.

So if you are a British business or organisation and you want to reinforce your online presence then registering your .uk  domain name should be high on your ‘must do’ list.

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