Author Archives: louise

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What is UX?

Category:Websites Tags : 

UX or User Experience is a term you will often hear bandied about in the website community these days, but what is it and more importantly why is it important for your business’ website.

UX stands for User Experience and when used in relation to websites it means what a person experiences when visiting your website. UX can also be used in other areas of your business, for example when someone calls, visits or interacts in another way with your business. I’m focusing on Website UX.

Why is UX important?

It is likely that your website was a big investment for your business, so it is essential that investment pays off and if your users are not having a good experience on your website the chances are it won’t.

If you have invested in a website I hope you have also invested (either time or money) in getting people to your website, this could be through PPC, SEO, Social Media, Blogging or a variety of other marketing methods, so if once you get your all important prospective customers to your website you really want them to convert – otherwise that was all a big waste of time and money!

UX can help ensure your website visitors become customers, there is a lot to website UX, but here are some things to consider when looking at User Experience on your website

Prioritise information

One of the nice things about websites is that you can include soooo much information. However it is essential that you think about the priority of information. What is the most important piece of information for your users, ensure that information is given the ‘top slot’ on your home page and then drill down from there. I would say one of your most important pieces of information is your contact details – so make sure they are front and centre.

Don’t try and reinvent the wheel

People are used to the way websites work, navigation is at the top of the page, contact link will be on the right, links are highlighted and underlined, buttons are rounded corner rectangles. If it works and people will find it easy to use don’t try and do something different just for the sake of it

Stick to your brand style

Translating your brand into a full website design can be difficult, it’s easy to get carried away with fonts, colours and imagery, but it is essential to stick to your brand style, so that users aren’t confused and distracted. Your website’s priority is to enhance your brand and communicate your message, if in doubt, leave it out

Think about all the pages, not just your home page

It can be very easy to focus on the design of your home page and let the others pages take second place, but bear in mind that a user might not enter your website at your home page. If you are relying on SEO or PPC they are likely to enter at one of your product or service pages. If you are blogging then the blog page will be their first impression of your site. Of course they will hopefully take a look at your other pages, but it is essential that their first impression, whatever page that might be, is good

Make your website scannable

Just like reading a book or magazine, people scan websites. The phrase ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ has never been more true! So ensure that people can understand your website and business with a quick scan. Once they find something that interests them they will read, but you have to capture their interest.

Get rid of pop ups

They are annoying – get rid…simple

So now you know what website UX is and how to improve yours. I’d love to hear your thoughts…are there any websites which you feel have great UX or that really annoy you?


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Is print advertising dead?

Category:Design Tags : 

As the internet has grown and developed the question of whether print advertising still works has been something that comes up in discussions with my clients over and over again.

Throughout the 20th Century print advertising was king! Everyone read newspapers or magazines and popping an advert in one was a fantastic way to get new clients. The brilliant Mad Men shows what a high-pressure, successful world advertising was.

However in 1990 a clever guy called Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet and advertising in the traditional sense changed forever. Suddenly you could promote your business yourself with a snazzy new website! However businesses soon found out that people were not going to just magically know your website was there, so advertising was still key – how else were your prospective customers going to know what your website address was!

So advertising became less about telling customers about all your products and services, the website could do that, but just about telling people about your brand and letting them come and find out more, but then some brainboxes in California came up with Google and the game changed again.

Now it would seem people could search for your business on their actual computers and it appeared to be free advertising! Who would ever want a print advert again. Unfortunately as the years went by we realised that Google wasn’t as free as it seemed….actually getting a Google ranking involved quite a bit of work (or paying someone to do the work for you) or Google gave you the wondrous opportunity to pay for a top Google ranking (Pay-Per-Click). The best thing about Google, if you knew about it, was Google Analytics….definitely free and giving you the ability to track your website visitors; how many you get, how they found you etc. Finally you could actually give your advertising a Return-on-Investment number!

Mark Zuckerberg appeared to put the final nail in the coffin for print advertising in 2004 when he launched his Facebook. This was quickly followed by Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and many more than did not make it. Initially these seemed like great places to keep track of cousins and school friends, to check out your friend’s dinners or days out, but they soon became the perfect advertising platform. Not only are the results trackable, but you can also target your advert very specifically, run it for as short or long time as you like and it doesn’t cost the earth….so is it time to say goodbye to print advertising forever?

Unfortunately for many brands it may be that time, if your target audience are young people and teens there is some argument that they may never purchase a magazine or newspaper and in fact that reading on paper is a dead art for them, however if your audience is over the age of 20 there may still be hope.

The main problem with print advertising is that it is so hard to know whether it worked or not. Even if you asked every person that enquired they may not remember where they heard about you, or they may have seen your advert, visited your website and say that was how they came to you with no mention of the advert at all.

So do I have any tips for making print advertising work for your business….I’m so glad you asked

  1. Don’t take up last minute advertising offers, do your research and find out if your target audience is actually reading the publication. A larger investment in a quality publication is more valuable than a small investment that brings in nothing
  2. Really think about what you want to advertise…if possible create an offer with a unique code so you can track responses and find out your ROI
  3. Have your advert professionally designed, don’t just throw something together. Print is still a busy place and the readers are actually interested in the content, so you have to catch their attention
  4. Don’t put too much in your advert – keep it clean, use your website to give more info

One final thing to bear in mind is that many publications are going online now and they combine their print advertising deals with digital advertising, so make sure you find out if there is a digital aspect particularly if you are looking at a younger audience.


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New Year, New Logo?

Category:Branding Tags : 

Last week one of my clients has approached me with the following query; “over the festive break one of my friends mentioned that I’ve had the same logo for my company for many years and wasn’t it time for a change….should I change my logo?”

We had a good chat about it and they’ve decided it’s not time for a change, but it led me to thinking….when should you change your logo?

Your logo is your key communication tool, it should feature in every piece of marketing you produce, as well as all your communications with your clients and suppliers. Any change needs careful consideration as it can really affect how your audience perceives your company. Your audience will come to recognise your brand and changing it can mean your clients no longer identify with your organisation. Change can be good, but it can also be negative.

Remember these companies that changed their logo for the worse…


GAP’s 2010 rebrand is renowned for being withdrawn just 1 week after it was launched. The new logo was accused of being “cheap, tacky and ordinary”. Not the way GAP clothing wants to be thought of.

From a classic to logo that speaks of history and credibility Oxford Dictionaries, in an effort to look modern and cool, ended up with a logo that looks like a cross between Beats by Dre and Twitter – not cool!

Another failed example of an attempt to modernize, Black & Decker moved from a logo that feels like a stamp of approval and quality to a generic logo that reads like Black Plus Decker

Although a relatively young company Air BnB’s growth had been such that they felt a rebrand was in order. The new icon is supposed to be ‘the universal symbol of belonging’ unfortunately it actually looks a bit rude! Whoops!

So having seen where some big brands tried and failed – what would be a good reason for  rebrand?

A change in business ownership

A merger or acquisition often results in a rebrand. The aim is to make the change visible to the public, but it could also form part of the legal requirements of the change. It is essential in these circumstances to ensure that the qualities and personality of the original business are maintained to avoid losing the value of the merger or acquisition.

A change of product or service

Often called Respositioning, if your businesses offering has changed then a rebrand may be in order. Your business may have evolved naturally over time to offer different things or you may have made a strategic decision to change your specialisation. Either way it is very important that your brand accurately reflects your offer.

A change of market

Markets are always changing and growing and it is important that your business is aware of and reacts to changes in the marketplace. It may also be that you have pinpointed a new or growing market for your business and you wish to target this new audience. Getting your brand right here will be essential.

Internationalisation

If your business is embracing internationalisation then a rebrand may be essential. As well as changing your logo you may need to consider a name change, as your name may have the wrong associations in other countries. Rebranding in this case needs some serious research into your new territories.

An outdated image

Although, as we saw above, this can be a dangerous reason to rebrand and can often lead to more harm than good, it can also be crucial. However it is very important to assess your target market accurately before making any changes. If your market hasn’t changed, then your brand probably doesn’t need to either.

So think carefully before you throw the baby out with the bath water….


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Social Media Myths

Category:Social Media Tags : 

There is no denying that social media is an important part of any business’ marketing strategy, but there is so much information flying about, its hard to know what is true and what isn’t. So when it comes to social media here are some myths I can definitely dispel

You must be on all Channels

There are so many social media channels, some you have heard of; Facebook, Twitter and Linked In for example. Some you not be so familiar with, such as; Pinterest and Foursquare. Some that have pretty much been and gone like Google +. And finally some which you may not even think of as social media such as YouTube.

You many have heard that you need to be on all social media channels, but not only is this probably impossible (you do want to have some time left to run your business – right?), but it is also not at all necessary. Your best course of action is to check out the main channels and see which ones are best suited to your business. Then focus on doing a few really well.

Social Media is only for young people

It is certainly true that many young people are very keen on social media, some might say ‘addicted to’. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t reach an older audience via social media. All networks have a different demographic, not just in terms of age, but also in terms of likes and dislikes.

The best way to establish whether your target audience are using social media and which channels they prefer is to actually ask them! Then you can decide whether it will help your business communications.

You should post a couple of times a day

Unfortunately it is this attitude that is causing more and more people to switch off from social media and particularly from Liking business pages. People tend to get kind of annoyed if their feeds are full of ‘sales chatter’ from businesses, rather than cute pictures of cats and babies.

The ideal number of posts you should make will really depend on your business, but most businesses don’t need to post more than a couple of times a week.

It’s free

Well this is true to some degree, it is free to set up a Business Profile on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In etc. However when you take into account the time it will take to manage your profiles and the fact that time is money, it’s suddenly not so free anymore.
If you decide you need a professional to manage your social media, then there are certainly going to be charges involved. Having said that social media as a marketing tool can be a great investment, you just need to think of it that way.

Buying Fans and Followers works

This is a BIG no no! The best way to get people to Like or Follow your business is to engage them with quality content. Buying Fans may increase your numbers, but it will not work as a marketing strategy, because in general these ‘people’ may not be real people at all. Even if they are they are not going to be your target audience, they may not even by in the same country as you!

It may take longer, but getting real people to Like and Follow your business is the only way to make social media work

 

If you need help with your social media marketing, whether it’s just getting your cover image right or managing your whole social media profile we can help, just get in touch

 


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Things to consider when exhibiting

Category:Exhibiting Tags : 

There is no doubt that exhibitions are a great way to develop business opportunities. However if done wrong they can also be a big waste of time and money. I’ve been helping clients get the most from exhibitions for years, so I thought I would put together some important points to think about.

  1. Choose your position carefully
    Most exhibitions will offer a wide range of position and size of stand. Obviously you need to pick your space to match your budget, but also consider the flow of visitors. Which direction do they enter? Where will the break out or catering areas be? If possible try not to pick a space in a corner or against a wall as many visitors may not even get that far! However you can guarantee they will want a coffee and a sit down at some point.
  2. Get an idea of the space in ‘real life’
    I’ve always found that laying out the area of your stand on a floor using masking tape is really helpful. You can do a scale diagram, but it just isn’t the same as actually standing in the space yourself. You might find that with some clever thinking you can fit more in than you thought.
  3. Think about re-using your exhibition graphics
    Most exhibitions have what is known as a ‘shell scheme’. These are little ‘booths’ with walls to which you can affix your vinyl graphics. However it is worth bearing in mind that not all shell schemes are the same dimensions. Just because they sell the space in square metres does not mean the panels will be 1m wide. Consider having several pull-up banners, or even a pop-up exhibition stand. These can be reused in many places and even put up in your business premises to get the most from your investment.
  4. Consider storage
    At the very least you will have a bag with you. If you are attending an exhibition across several days you may have spare flyers or giveaways, you might want to keep a supply of water and snacks on the stand. Where are they going to go? It is essential to consider where you are going to put your ‘stuff’. A messy stand does not make a good impression.
  5. To sit or not to sit
    This is always a difficult decision. There is no denying that standing at eye-level with visitors is more engaging that sitting down, but after 3 days you may need to take a load off. Consider having high level stools which you can perch on, but which still leave you at eye level with the visitors. You can even get them to match your brand colours.
  6. Giveaways – great investment, or total waste of money
    The thing about giveaways is that they are a great reason to interact with visitors. If you get it right you may even find visitors beating a path to your stand to get what you have on offer and of course that is a great time to start a conversation about what you do. Try and think of something original, useful and something that relates to your business. If you can get it in your corporate colour – even better!
  7. What are you going to wear
    There is no denying that you need to look smart when exhibiting and most people do still choose to wear their own clothes. However consider getting some branded clothing. If you go for something bright this can really add a visual element to your stand, but having your brand on your clothing also has the benefit of advertising your company even when you’re not on your stand. Think about having something printed on the back too, perhaps a question that only your company can help with or even your stand number.
  8. Have you thought about the other exhibitors?
    I expect you are very much focusing on the visitors to the exhibition, but don’t forget making connections with the other exhibitors. You may find new clients and also good business contacts among your fellow exhibitors. One of the main benefits of being an exhibitor is that you can go and talk to your fellow exhibitors. When visitors try and do that it is called canvassing and is strongly frowned upon.

Are you thinking about exhibiting? Do you need some help with an upcoming exhibition? Get in touch if you want to have a chat.


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Responsiveness and it’s effect on Google Ranking

Category:SEO Tags : 

Many of you may have heard that Google will penalise websites which are not responsive, but you may be wondering why has Google done this.  And possibly, what is a responsive website? And finally, what does it mean for my business’ Google ranking? Let’s start with the first question.

Why have Google done this?

By now I think most of us know that Google ranks websites according to an algorithm which is constantly changing.

Google’s algorithm is just trying to imitate the decision making process that normal people go through when looking for a product or service, in order to bring searchers the best results. The reason it is always changing is that the way people search and indeed use the internet is constantly changing.

A few years ago the majority of people were accessing the internet using computers, either a desktop or a laptop. Now nearly 60% of people are using Google on a mobile device (tablet or phone). So by penalising websites that are not ‘responsive’ Google is attempting to provide a better experience for searchers.

So this brings us on to what is a responsive website?

Being responsive doesn’t just mean that your website is ‘mobile friendly’. According to Google it is not good enough for your website to work on mobile devices. Google believes that the layout of your website should adjust to different devices to provide an optimum viewing experience and this is what being ‘responsive’ means. So if a user is viewing your website on their phone the display should shift to one long column and the navigation should be easy to use on a small screen.

So finally, what does this mean for my business?

Well, it may make very little difference in reality. Responsiveness is just one of many factors that Google uses to rank websites and certainly there are many other factors you need to make sure you are getting right, such as; keywords, user content, meta content. However bearing in mind that Google has brought this into affect because it believes it is what the public wants….you would be advised to ensure your website is responsive sooner rather than later.

Most websites can be converted to responsive with very little work, especially if there were built in the last 5 years. If responsiveness or indeed Search Engine Ranking Position is something you are worried about for your business get in touch for more information.


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How does website content affect SEO?

Category:SEO Tags : 

As I have mentioned in other blogs we know that Google’s algorithm is trying to imitate the decision making process of real people and because of this it is clear that the content of your website is going to have a big effect on how Google ranks your website. However there are some common myths about website content which we can put to rest.

Myth 1: If I update my website regularly it will improve my SERP (Search Engine Ranking Position)

Unfortunately improving your SERP is not as easy as that. Writing blogs, adding or changing service content or writing news articles on your website will not have a great impact of your SERP. Google likes to see websites which are kept fresh because stagnant websites are seen to be a symbol of ‘dormant’ businesses. However it is essential to ensure your content is relevant and also utilises your keywords.

Myth 2: The more keywords you put into your site the better

Unfortunately not….Google weights keywords, so the first one you list will carry the most weight and the weight apportioned to each will decrease as you go on down the list. So you can see that the more you have the less weight will be attributed to each. Google is trying to find it’s user’s ‘experts’, so by having 20 keywords all you are saying is that you are a ‘jack of all trades’ not an expert. If you have a number of products or services you want to optimise, then set up pages for each and optimise each one separately with a couple of select keywords.

Myth 3: If I have good keywords in my site I don’t need to do anything else

Once again, sadly, this is not the case. Ensuring you have researched your keywords properly and that you have used them in both your page content and your meta content is really important. However it is very unlikely that just carrying out this ‘on-page’ SEO will be enough to beat out the competition.

Myth 4: If I use my competitors company names in my site I will be able to steal people searching for their business.

This one is true…to some extent. If you put your competitor’s company names in your site there is a good chance that you will come up in search results alongside them. However this is a ‘black’ SEO practice and if your competitor complains to Google there is a good chance they will blacklist you from their listings entirely. Just stick to good SEO practice.

If you would like to have a chat about SEO and how you can improve your Search Engine Ranking Position get in touch.


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What on earth is CMS?

Category:Websites Tags : 

CMS stands for Content Management System. It some ways it does what it says on the tin….it is a system for managing the content of your website.

Content Management Systems are generally accessible via any computer with an internet connection by using your browser. This could be Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

There are many different CMS’s available, but one you have probably heard of is WordPress. We create websites using this system and also using the slightly more advanced Joomla system.

CMS’s are general quite easy to use with a little basic training. The main text editor part will be very much like using Word, you’ll type what you want the website content to be, choose whether you want parts to be bold or perhaps some bullet points and then save your work to make the changes live on the website.

Most content management systems will also allow you to update images on the site, add new pages and delete old content.

Depending of your business needs and your technical ability the CMS can also be used to edit other parts of the site, including home page layout, navigation and fonts and colours. The beauty of having website experts create your CMS website is that you can choose how much control you want to have and still have experts to step in and make other changes for you.

Many businesses are now choosing CMS websites to suit their ever changing market and of course to help with SEO! To find out more about how a CMS can help your search engine ranking, read about it in our blog article ‘How does website content affect SEO’.

If you’d like to find out more about how a CMS website can help your business, or if you want a quote for one, drop us an email hello@inspirationagency.co.uk