Kitchen Economy

Since 1978, Kitchen Economy has been Cardiff’s local Euronics provider of high-quality home appliances. They work closely with some of the biggest names in white goods including Beko, Zanussi, Cannon, Belling and Hotpoint. Alongside selling a wide variety of these great products, they also have a dedicated spares department to help fix any issues you may have with your appliances!


They work to provide the best possible service to Cardiff and the surrounding area and you can find them situated in their long-standing appliance store in Roath. As they aim to cater to each and every one of their customers, Kitchen Economy opted to go for a full redesign of their website to make it as user-friendly as possible.
They found their old website had become out-dated and came to us to achieve a more modern look for their brand. Alongside a fresh new look, they also wanted their website to become fully responsive across all devices.

What did we do?

Our design team worked to provide a modernised version of their existing functional e-commerce website. The redesign included making the website more visually appealing, with large and high-quality images, alongside clear call to action buttons. We also integrated the Kitchen Economy blog onto the category pages to provide new and useful information while customers browsed the website.

Looking to compete with the likes of AO and Currys with their modernised new design, we worked to provide a responsive, secure and attractive new website. The Kitchen Economy website is now served entirely over HTTPS, meaning that all information users send via the website is encrypted and secure.

We are very proud of the new website and if you’re in need of any new electrical appliances, we’d love if you checked it out today!

Here’s what they had to say about their new website:

Kitchen Economy Tweet

Are you also looking for a fully responsive, secure and SEO friendly website? If so, get in touch with us today for a free quote

From October 2017, Chrome will show a 'NOT SECURE' warning on any HTTP page containing a text form

Switch your website to HTTPS

Google are currently on something of a crusade. They want their users to feel totally secure as they browse the web, and so they've been doing their best to force website owners to take user security more seriously. Google Chrome already shows a 'Not secure' warning on non-HTTPS pages that collect sensitive data; for instance, checkout pages and login screens must be served over a HTTPS connection in order to ensure that card details, passwords, and other sensitive details are encrypted. If you're asking users to enter that sort of information on a HTTP page, Chrome will flag up the risk with a notice like this:

Google Chrome 'Not Secure' Warning

As things stand, that 'Not secure' warning is only shown on pages where a user is explicitly asked to enter 'sensitive' data, such as:

  • Passwords
  • Credit / debit card details

However, Google have now announced a major change that could cause a lot of problems for website owners. As of October 2017, the 'Not secure' warning will appear on EVERY non-HTTPS page that contains a text input form, regardless of the form's purpose.

This means that, from October onwards, the following pages will need to be secured with a SSL certificate:

  • Any page with a search bar
  • Any page with a contact / enquiry form
  • Any page with a newsletter signup form

Basically, if your page contains ANY element that allows the user to enter and submit some sort of information - whether it's their credit card number, their email address, or the name of the product they're looking to buy from your website - then you'll need to get that page secured with an SSL certificate by October.

With this change looming on the horizon, a lot of website owners will need to think very seriously about implementing HTTPS across all pages if they have not already done so. For instance, it's quite common for ecommerce sites to use HTTPS on their login/register and checkout pages while serving all other pages over an unsecured HTTP connection, but once this Chrome update takes effect, the people who visit those websites will start seeing 'Not secure' messages everywhere they click.

And those two little words will often be enough to put off potential customers and send them running to a fully-secured competitor instead.

What do I need to do?

If you are currently serving text input forms over an HTTP connection, you will need to purchase an SSL certificate and install it on the server where your website is hosted. You will then need to update things like canonical tags and internal links so that they point to your website's new URL (beginning with https:// rather than http://). You will also need to ensure that the proper redirects are in place so that anyone trying to access the HTTP version of your website is automatically sent to the secure HTTPS version.

If that to-do list seems a little intimidating, don't worry - all you really have to do is ask your website developer to make the necessary changes for you. They will know how to install the SSL certificate and update everything 

Do I need to switch to HTTPS if my website doesn't contain any forms?

Perhaps you've been reading this and thinking 'this doesn't concern me - I don't have any search bars, contact forms or anything like that on my website, so I must be safe'.

If so, we have some bad news for you. Google have made it quite clear that the October update will merely be the latest step towards their ultimate goal, which is to mark ALL HTTP pages as 'Not secure'.

This week, Google sent out an email to webmasters warning them of the imminent expansion of the 'Not secure' message. That email included the following ominous statement:

"The new warning is part of a long term plan to mark all pages served over HTTP as 'not secure'."

So while your unsecured website may survive the update in October, you won't be able to escape that 'Not secure' shame notice forever. And given that users are increasingly expecting to see that little green padlock at the top of their screens no matter what they're doing online, it's probably a good idea to get that SSL certificate and upgrade to HTTPS sooner rather than later.

Further Reading: Why Convert Your Website to HTTPS?

Should You Outsource Digital Marketing Strategy

Marketing your business online is a multifaceted task that often takes place across many different platforms. Nowadays, a typical digital marketing strategy might include any or all of the following:

  • Responsive website (fast, mobile friendly, optimised for search engines)
  • Conversion optimisation (tweaking content and layout for performance)
  • AMP development (faster mobile pages)
  • Blog posts and other content (including infographics, videos, etc.)
  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc.)
  • PR and link outreach (e.g. articles, external blog posts)
  • PPC advertising (e.g. Google AdWords, Bing Ads)

You may also choose to combine the above strategies with more traditional avenues such as TV, radio and/or print advertising.

With the fight happening on so many different fronts, it's not hard to see why a lot of business owners decide to outsource some or all of their marketing to external agencies. Indeed, it's not uncommon to hire a different firm for each task: one company to design your website, another to write engaging content for your blog, another to handle your AdWords campaigns, and so on.

Outsourcing Digital Marketing

But is this a good way to get results?

The obvious benefit of this approach is that it allows you to hire a specialist for each part of your multi-platform digital marketing effort. You want a professional-looking website, so you hire an experienced web developer who's capable of providing this. You want to get your brand name in front of more people, so you pay a highly-rated PR agency to get the word out on your behalf. Nobody in your organisation knows the first thing about Google AdWords? No problem - hire a PPC expert to set up some campaigns for you.

On the face of it, then, choosing the best person or company for each job on a task-by-task basis seems like a pretty sensible tactic. The problem is that while PPC advertising, SEO copywriting, website design, et cetera are all distinct disciplines that require very different skillsets, they don't exist independently of one another. All digital marketing platforms are intrinsically linked, and trying to separate them all out can cause a lot of headaches.

Here are some examples:

  • Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a critically important part of website development that ideally needs to be taken into consideration at the planning stage. When building a new online home for your business, you might be tempted to hire a designer to create the website itself, then turn the project over to an SEO expert who can select the keywords and write the copy for each page. As a general rule, though, you'll definitely get far better results in the end if your website developer has a strong working knowledge of SEO too - that way, they can make suggestions from the get-go and help you to construct a highly-optimised site hierarchy instead of just hashing in some keywords as an afterthought. Optimising a website is significantly more than just content and keywords - it’s having a modern and responsive site architecture, handling URLs properly, hosting the website in a way that make it fast for the end user, and so much more!

  • If you're thinking of using Google AdWords to drive extra traffic to your website, you may be wondering exactly how much each click will cost you once your ads are up and running. The answer to that question depends on many different variables, but more than any other factor, the amount you pay when somebody clicks on one of your ads is determined by its quality score, which is derived from the combination of keyword, advert and landing page. The lower your quality score, the more you'll have to pay for each click (since Google don't like sending their users to irrelevant or low-quality web pages). But your average PPC manager can't achieve a good quality score just by fiddling around in AdWords - it requires collaboration between your web developer, copywriter and PPC manager to get those ads and landing pages just right.

  • Finally, let's imagine that you've hired a social media guru to grow your audience on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on. In order to craft successful social campaigns and keep your accounts running smoothly, that person will have to co-ordinate their efforts with the person who writes your blog posts, the person who handles your PR, and possibly several other parties like your web developer, your sales team, and whoever is responsible for determining the overall direction of the company. That's a lot of plates to keep spinning!

The point is that - as the old proverb goes - too many cooks sometimes spoil the broth, and dividing up your marketing efforts can hugely diminish your results. Assigning each task to a different specialist opens you up to a lot of potential problems, especially if any of your marketers cannot see:

  • Accurate sales and traffic figures for your business
  • The growth plans you have in place
  • What everyone else is working on

Of course, there are numerous tools and pieces of software that can be used to co-ordinate several groups of people who are all working towards the same goal, but these solutions tend to only work as well as the people using them. No matter how you slice it, trying to synchronise half a dozen different agencies and get them all reporting back to you in perfect harmony can be a huge and frustrating task!

So is there a better way?

A simpler route to digital marketing success

You want to make life simple for yourself, but you're still keen to check all the digital marketing boxes and get your brand seen in as many different places as possible. How do you achieve both of these goals? Well, you could try one of the following:

1) Hire in-house marketing talent.

Instead of outsourcing your marketing efforts to external agencies, you may decide to hire your very own PPC expert, SEO guru, social media manager, etc. That way, all the necessary skills will be in your own office and on your own payroll.

The drawback: Hiring your own marketing team will cost a lot of money and use up a lot of time. You'll have to do all the legwork - posting job ads, looking through CVs, interviewing applicants - yourself, and if you're hiring several people, you'll have to do it all multiple times. Successful candidates might need to be trained up, and they may take some time to properly settle into your organisation.

And that's assuming you can even find the talent you need. Unfortunately, most skilled digital marketing professionals would rather work for an agency (where they would get to work on a variety of different projects) than for an ordinary business (where they would have to the same thing every day). If you do choose the in-house route, you may find that scouting out a suitable candidate for each position is harder than you expected!

2) Find an agency that does everything.

Hiring an agency means that you don't have to face the hassle of recruiting new employees for your own company, and if you can find an 'all-in-one' digital marketing agency who know how to craft engaging content, build successful AdWords campaigns, get seen on social media, AND design a winning website, this will also make it far easier for you to keep your digital marketing efforts tidy, efficient and effective.

The drawback: Marketing agencies that do everything are hard to come by. It's fairly easy to find a company that's great at SEO, or at social media, or at pay-per-click advertising, but finding a company with the skillset and vision necessary to do it all - and do it well - can be quite a challenge.

Additionally, some business executives may be reluctant to put all their eggs in one basket by entrusting absolutely everything to a single company. Will they be vigilant, honest and communicative when it comes to reporting back and keeping you in the loop? And what if this other company were to go under? Where would that leave you, the client?

Clearly, both of the above approaches have their pros and cons. But there is a third option: simply take a little from column A and a little from column B.

3) Hire a skill-rich agency and your own marketing executive.

First, you hire a talented person to serve as your company's internal marketing executive. This person will need to have great communication and planning skills, along with a good deal of digital marketing experience, but they don't necessarily need to be an expert on everything. They won't necessarily be the one setting up AdWords campaigns and tweeting the latest blog posts - their main role will be to co-ordinate your overall marketing strategy and communicate with the people carrying it out.

Once your new recruit is in place and the two of you have come up with a digital marketing plan that identifies goals and highlights key areas of priority, the next step is to find a digital marketing agency that's capable of delivering on your aspirations. You should still look for a company with a diverse array of skills at their disposal - after all, our original point about the multifaceted nature of modern marketing still stands - but since your internal marketing executive will be working closely with the external marketers, you don't have to worry about drifting out of the loop.

This approach is superior to the others for a number of reasons. Yes, you'll still have to interview, hire and orient a new employee, but it's just one person rather than a whole team. Yes, you're still entrusting much of the actual work to an external company, but it is just one company - which should keep things relatively straightforward - and you'll have a dedicated employee of your own to hold them to account, answer any questions they might have, and track their progress to ensure that your overarching marketing strategy is moving in the right direction.

Internal Marketing Executive - Responsibilities:

  • Planning overall marketing strategy
  • Coming up with new ideas for the company
  • Acting as a point of contact for external marketers (and providing them with extra info if needed, e.g. photos, videos, sales figures)
  • Ensuring that all work is completed to a high standard and in a timely manner
  • Using analytics tools to track progress of marketing campaigns
  • Keeping you in the loop

External Marketing Agency - Responsibilities:

  • Putting your marketing executive's vision into practice (this could mean anything from scheduling Facebook posts to contacting journalists or creating and managing PPC campaigns)
  • Making additional suggestions that will boost your company's profile
  • Monitoring / analysing progress and results
  • Reporting back to the marketing executive

Done correctly, this approach will ensure accountability, straightforward two-way communication, and steady forward progress towards your digital marketing goal.

Designer Websites is a talented team of developers, designers, SEO specialists and digital marketing experts. No matter what you're looking to achieve online, we have the skills to help you do it - contact us today to discuss your requirements.

With billions of daily website views coming from traffic on search engine results pages, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is vital to any digital marketing plan. Across the globe, businesses desperately strive to achieve the top spots on Google's SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) in order to generate the most traffic to their business. However, in order to achieve these positions, it is much more complicated than simply having a fast website or just targeting keywords. With the most popular search engines constantly tweaking and altering algorithms, businesses are constantly kept on their toes in an efforts to master SEO.

There is no quick fix to achieving and maintaining a space on the front page of SERPs (no matter what some dodgy SEO companies may tell you!). It takes a combination of techniques to fully optimise your website. Ultimately your website should be very easy and quick to use, it should contain valuable unique content, it should be hosted professionally, it should properly handle errors, redirects, sitemaps, indexing bots, etc. In fact the list of boxes that your website should now tick is very long indeed, and most of these elements are very technical and will need properly qualified and experienced people to implement them. 

SEO now comes hand-in-hand with user experience optimisation, and Google will no longer accept cheap tricks to get to the top of the results page. Instead, Google explains that"Search engine optimization is about putting your site's best foot forward when it comes to visibility in search engines, but your ultimate consumers are your users, not search engines.With that in mind, when considering how to SEO, below are some things to consider.

Keyword Analysis

Although we’ve already mentioned it’s not the only way to help rankings, it remains a very important part of SEO. It involves researching what people are searching on Google when they’re looking for a service like the one your business provides. Then you can target this traffic by having the keywords appear in all the right sections of your website (such as the title tag, Meta tags, page headings, etc) and ads. 

SEO Copy Writing

In the not too distant past, website optimisation experts were often guilty of filling up pages with keyword-rich copy, but these days it's absolutely vital to make your content more user-friendly and readable, but this doesn't mean you forget keywords altogether, it just means you need to work harder to include appropriate keywords, whilst making the content engaging. Copywriting is a balancing act between targeting keywords and providing interesting and useful content for the user. No one wants to visit a website that’s full of useless information, and Google will penalise you for cutting corners. Instead of flooding your copy with keywords, it’s key to maintain readability and an appropriate keyword density.

Coding

To ensure your website can be easily indexed by search engine bots, and that it will run at an optimum speed, it’s important to get your coding correct. You want code-light pages that load very quickly, you need to use the latest compression algorithms, you need to utilise the latest coding standards and include important meta information, rich cards, schema tags, etc. If you want to rank highly across different browsers, your coding has to up-to-date, it has to be responsive to ensure it works on any device, and is cross browser compatible. Avoid template type solutions, or systems where the coding structures are likely to be old and out-dated.

Optimised Website Hosting 

Providing super fast and reliable website hosting is absolutely essential to a well-optimised website, otherwise, all of your other SEO efforts will have been in vain. Correct error handling procedures and redirecting is also really important. You either need a dedicated web server or at least a host who has a very high end dedicated server and holds fewer than 50 websites on it themselves. The speed of the server is significantly more important than it's location, so make sure that the response times are very good. 

Link Outreach/Building

Not to be confused with dodgy link-building of the past – a technique that led to a steady stream of dodgy links spamming the internet (through directories, etc), which is now often branded a black-hat technique. Trying to acquire links synthetically can earn you a Google penalty, which can get you removed from SERPs. However, there is still value in worthy links that are achieved by content creation specialists liaising with site owners. Google still uses inbound links as a part of their algorithm, but now they are more interested in the value of these links rather than the quantity you've amassed. Make sure you avoid any dodgy link building tricks, just focus on networking effectively, and making sure your content is interesting and easy to link to. Ideally, generate content that naturally generates links and shares from real users.

Social Media

With the majority of people checking their social media before they’ve even got out of bed, it’s now more important than ever to make sure your business is within the social matrix. Although there is still some debate about how valuable (if at all) social media is, it's good for brand awareness and potential back links.  By having a well-oiled social marketing plan, you can potentially improve your rankings on the search engine results, so it's worth doing! 

Mobile Friendly Websites

Another development that highlights how SEO is constantly evolving to fit in with the daily lives of users. Search engines such as google value the way your website translates onto other devices such as mobile phones and tablets.

 

When considering how to optimise a website the above is simply a brief introduction, and is by no means a comprehensive list of techniques. Website optimisation is actually a varied and a constantly evolving process, which requires the expert knowledge of SEO practitioners. Here at Designer Websites, the wealth of experience we have developed over the past decade ensures we understand the technical aspects of website optimisation better than anyone else.

Click here to learn more about our SEO services or request a free quote for our SEO services here today. 

Comet Coach Hire Website

Comet Coach Hire Ltd are a coach / minibus hire company offering all sorts of packages throughout the UK and beyond. Whether you're organising a school trip, planning your wedding day, or travelling around Europe, they can provide the perfect transport solution at a very reasonable price.

Comet Coach Hire came to us because they needed a modern, user-friendly website that would enable them to reach a wider audience. The Designer Websites team came through as always - our designers gave the new site a bright yet professional look, and the online enquiry system makes it easy for customers to get an accurate quotation for their journey. Furthermore, since this is a responsive website, it functions perfectly on all devices, from smart TVs and desktop computers to tablets and smartphones.

The new website is now live, and can be found at www.cometcoachhire.co.uk.

What did we do for this client?

This project included the following services:

  • Responsive (mobile-friendly) website design
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Online enquiry form
  • Copywriting

Need a new website for your business? Contact Designer Websites for a quote today!

'Cannibalisation' is a very scary-sounding word, isn't it? It certainly conjures up some very grim mental images. However, the less terrifying keyword cannibalisation is the subject of this blog post. Keyword cannibalisation usually happens accidentally when an over-zealous amount of copy has been added to a website, usually in an attempt to improve search engine rankings.

A good optimisation expert will know how to avoid cannibalisation, however in this article we'll talk about what it is, how it happens, and how to rectify it once you've identified it.

What is keyword cannibalisation?

Keyword cannibalisation is what happens when your website contains multiple pages that target the same keyword(s). Ideally, every search term you wish to rank for should be targeted on one page and one page only - otherwise, you're just forcing your own pages to compete with one another.

Here's an example of what can happen:

Imagine you own a second-hand furniture shop, and you want your website to be the #1 Google result for the popular keyphrase 'antique furniture'. In order to achieve this, you:

  • Use the phrase 'antique furniture' numerous times on your homepage
  • Dedicate one of your internal category pages to 'antique furniture'
  • Write a blog post all about antique furniture, sharing lots of helpful information for potential customers

This may seem like a strong strategy, but what you're actually doing is making it difficult for Google and other search engines to identify which of your three 'antique furniture' pages they should actually be listing as a result for that query.

Why is keyword cannibalisation a problem?

As mentioned above, the problem with keyword cannibalisation is that those pages with the same keywords will be competing against one another in the SERPs. As a result, some or all of those pages may not rank for your chosen keywords at all, or all may just rank lower than if just one page was targeted. That's an issue, because in spite of the keywords they share, each of the competing pages may actually serve a totally different purpose from its brethren.

Generally speaking, Google will not list 2 or more pages from the same website among its top 10 results for a given query UNLESS the algorithm is pretty certain that the user is looking for that specific website. (For instance, Googling 'eBay toys' will bring up a number of pages from eBay, whereas the top organic results for 'antique furniture' are gathered from a variety of different sites.) Google like to hedge their bets, and in most cases, they've got a better chance of satisfying the user if they show 10 results from 10 different sources rather than taking multiple pages from a single site.

This means that, when Google's crawlers look at your website, you want it to be absolutely crystal-clear which page is best suited to which search term. If you're presenting several different pages as possible responses to the query 'antique furniture', Google will get confused and may pick the wrong page to rank (e.g. a blog post rather than your main 'antique furniture' category, which might have had a better chance of driving clicks and conversions). Worse still, if none of the competing pages particularly stand out from the crowd, they may even decide not to rank any of your pages for that keyword at all.

Here are some other issues that may occur as a result of keyword cannibalisation:

  • Content Quality - It would be difficult to have a plethora of pages on the subject of  ‘antique oak furniture’ (for example) and ensure that each one was made up of interesting, useful and original content. Spreading your content too thinly across too many competing pages will inevitably reduce the overall quality of your website, and when it comes to ranking, unique high quality content beats quantity hands-down. Poor content not only leads to poor user experience, it also leads to high bounce rates and discourages people from sharing pages.

  • External Links - Even if you do manage to make your competing pages share-worthy, you risk splitting your link equity and diluting the search engine 'juice' you receive when other websites link to yours. It's far better to have a single page/resource for each subject you wish to cover, because that way, anyone who links to you will easily be able to identify which of your URLs they should send their users to. If 10 people want to link to a page about 'antique oak furniture', you ideally want all of them to link to the same part of your website - this will have a greater impact on your rankings than dividing those 10 links between multiple destinations.

  • Internal Links - The above applies to internal links, too. Internal links are a big ranking factor; in order to determine the hierarchy of your website (i.e. which pages are most important), Google and the other search engines pay close attention to which of your own pages you link to from other parts of your website, how often you link to each page, and what words you use when you do so. If you've got just 1 page about 'antique oak furniture', you can simply link to that one every time you mention that subject elsewhere on your site. If there are 30 'antique oak furniture' links on your website - 10 to a category page, 10 to a specific product, and 10 to a blog post you wrote - it will be difficult for the bots to ascertain which of those linked pages might make the best result when somebody types 'antique oak furniture' into a search engine.

What can I do about keyword cannibalisation?

If you’re over-using keywords on purpose because you believe it will boost your rankings, we would strongly recommend that you stop right now. Keyword cannibalism often happens by accident, but some site owners, and even some online marketing agencies, mistakenly think that using the same keyword in multiple titles and headings throughout a website will help that website rank better for the cannibalised keyword. As we've explained, though, that simply isn't the case.

Hopefully, you’re now in a position to avoid keyword cannibalisation from the get-go. When creating a website, you can avoid this error by making sure you have thoroughly planned the site architecture. Every page should be detailed, unique, and serve its own distinct purpose. If two of your pages are giving users more or less the same information on the same subject, then one of them is a waste, and likely damaging your rankings. Furthermore, all keywords, titles and header tags should be unique to their page. Once you know what pages you need and what each one's function is, it should be relatively easy to choose the keyword(s) for each page using a tool like Keyword Planner.

If you’ve already got a cannibalisation problem (not to be confused with a real-life cannibal problem, which we unfortunately cannot help with), then it’s time to clean up your pages. Start by going through your website and identifying groups of pages that are targeting the same keyword; then, review each group and pick the ONE page from each that you think best addresses the search term in question. (Tip: take a look at which page currently ranks highest for that keyword on Google - it's probably safe to assume that that page will have the best shot of climbing higher once the cannibalisation issue is resolved.)

Once you've selected one page for each keyword, you have 2 choices regarding what to do with the other cannibal pages:

  • Get rid of them. If the cannibal pages don't actually serve any purpose to the user, the best thing to do is delete them and use 301 redirects to send their URLs to the good-quality page you've chosen to keep. This will mean that any links to the cannibalised pages pass their ranking 'juice' to the good page instead. Anyone who attempts to visit any of the deleted pages in the future will be redirected to the page you kept.

  • Retarget them. If your cannibalised pages are important to the broader user experience on your website, then you can keep them, but what you'll need to do is de-optimise them and target different keywords instead. For instance, let's say that you've decided to use a category page as your landing page for the term 'antique furniture' - that keyword also appears heavily on your homepage, and since you obviously can't delete your homepage, you should instead do a bit of keyword research and identify a different search term to target there. (Perhaps a more generic term that covers your entire offering, rather than just your antique line.)

The golden rule when it comes to keyword cannibalisation is that every page of your website should offer something unique. If every page serves a different purpose, there's little risk of crossover between keywords, page copy, and meta tags because you'll need different words to describe each page's function. Keyword cannibalisation can be a pretty good indicator that you have multiple pages stepping on each other's toes and offering basically the same information/service to the end user - if that's the case, either strip those unnecessary pages out or justify their existence by giving them their own unique focus.

If you need help with your website’s SEO, our team of experts are more than happy to help. Contact Designer Websites now to discuss your requirements.

Broadleaf Timber is one of the UK's leading real wood specialist companies, who have been supplying stunning real wood products throughout the UK and beyond for over 10 years. They dedicate themselves to providing the highest-quality wooden products to their consumers, as they believe the modern day mass-produced materials simply cannot compare to the quality of solid wood.

They work to supply every customer with high-quality and durable wood products that will stand the test of time. Over the course of the decade, they have expanded their product range vastly to include everything from bespoke staircases to a variety of spectacular wooden floorings. They also have numerous impressive showrooms across the country which they actively encourage customers to visit. 

They decided to opt for a redesign of their website in order to provide the best user experience to their customers across all channels. They sought to make their functional e-commerce website fully responsive in order to market their real wood products and services to the widest possible audience across all devices.

To achieve their vision, we provided a complete redesign of the website. Our design team worked hard to ensure the new responsive website provided a smooth and accessible experience for all visitors, across all devices.

The new design also compliments the Broadleaf brand, displaying the real wood products they supply through the use of large, visually appealing images and distinct categories. This redesign works to make it quick and easy for consumers to browse and compare the numerous different wooden products they supply. Amongst the many user-friendly features on the website, there is also a handy feature which allows customers to add products they're interested into their 'favourites' basket and come back to it at a later date. 

We're very proud of the new redesign and if you'd like to have a closer look or you're interested in buying some fantastic quality wooden flooring, just click here to visit the new and improved Broadleaf Timber website!

Would you also like to make your website easily accessible, SEO friendly and fully responsive so you can reach the widest audience possible? You can get in touch with us today to request a free quote. 

When most of us want to buy something, find a location, or get the answer to a question, we go to Google, right? We like the results, we’re used to how it works...we even use the word 'Google' as a verb to mean 'search for information about'. No wonder Google is the go-to search engine for the majority of Internet users.

Today, we'd like to take a look at whether this pronounced user preference for Google might wane due to the ever-changing appearance of their results pages, or if - on the contrary - these changes have helped to make the search engine even better. Before we can answer this question, we first need to understand which aspects of Google have changed and the effects of those alterations.

As you probably know, the pages that appear when you search for something in any search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) are known as SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Over the past year or two, Google have repeatedly changed the way their own SERPs look, and the compounded effect of their changes - particularly in the last year - has seen the traditional organic results pushed further and further down the page.

In this article, we’ll attempt to assess the impact of the changing face of the Google SERPs on organic results.

So How Have Things Changed?

More Ad Space

Firstly, there are now more paid adverts at the top of the SERPs than ever before. In February 2016, Google began to show as many as 4 AdWords ads at the top of the SERP, where once there were only 2 at most. This inevitably began to push organic results further down the page. (Interestingly, up to 3 ads now appear at the bottom of the results page too.)

At the present time, paying for ads through Google AdWords is the easiest way to gain visibility on the SERPs - provided you have a big enough budget, of course! Google place their adverts before organic results because it's in their financial interest to do so - they get money every time somebody clicks an AdWords ad. Google ads have been around for many years and most users are more than used to seeing them at the top of the SERPs, and so it seems unlikely that people will stop using the search engine because of this change; however, if Google continue to increase the number of ads displayed before their organic search results, the number of people clicking on those organic results will likely get smaller and smaller.

Here is a typical Google SERP in which the ads are prioritised and take up most of the space above the fold (the point where you have to scroll down to see more). Notice that the only non-paid search result displayed above the fold is the location of a nearby retailer. 

Google SERP for 'tiles'  

Note also that each individual AdWords ad takes up quite a lot of space by itself - this is due to the addition of 'ad extensions' such as review ratings and additional links.

Featured Snippets

Another relatively new feature that pushes the traditional organic results further down the SERP is the featured snippet, which is now considerably more common than it used to be. In short, a featured snippet is a brief extract from a web page that Google thinks will serve as a handy, concise answer to the query you entered. Although these are organic rather than paid, they still take up a fairly large chunk of real estate near the top of the SERP.

Featured snippets are a game-changer for the simple reason that, when they appear, they appear above all traditional organic listings. For some searches, all that's now visible above the fold is a featured snippet and the paid ads section, meaning that these snippets are now arguably more valuable than the coveted #1 organic position. (Some people have even called the featured snippet slot 'position 0' or 'rank 0'). The introduction of featured snippets has changed the way people use Google as they provide users with answers without even requiring them to click onto a web page.

Here's what a featured snippet looks like:

Featured snippet for 'what is a web sling'

Click here to find out how to gain the featured snippet spot for your keywords.

Rich Cards

Rich cards are another way for Google to give you information in the body of the SERP itself (instead of requiring you to click through to a web page). For example, if you search for the title of a film, a rich card with the movie poster, release date, ratings, et cetera will all appear in the form of a rich card:

Rich card for the movie 'Titanic'

Other types of rich cards may be displayed when searching for courses, recipes or events: Google will supply a list of what it finds on offer, rather than having the user manually compare lots of websites one at a time.

As with snippets, this feature allows Google users to get the answers they need without ever having to click onto a website. Rich cards and featured snippets have definitely made things easier for the user, but whether they have made things easier for business owners is a different question.

Local Results (Map Pack)

The map pack is what we call the group of localised results that appears when Google thinks you're searching for a business or a location in a specific place. For instance, if you search for 'tile shop' and Google sees that you're currently in Dinas Powys, your SERP might include a map pack like this one:

Map pack

This is a vastly useful feature for Google users as it allows them to see what's around them at a glance. These results are organic (not paid) and display business information clearly and concisely, so it is a useful feature for business owners as well. The only thing you need to do to be included in this section is to provide your business information to Google through Google My Business.

Shopping Results

Google Shopping Results

AdWords ads aren't the only paid results you might see within the Google SERP these days. There are also Google Shopping results: product-specific listings that appear when your query indicated a desire to buy something. Each Shopping ad includes a price, a picture, and the name of the product in question, along with the name of the website that sells it. Once again, this has definitely improved the experience for the user as they can view and compare an array of information right there on the SERP.

However, as the size and volume of these Shopping ads increase, the organic search engine results are getting pushed further down the page and becoming more visually unappealing compared to the snazzy product images. This decreases the chance of organic search results gaining clicks/conversions, while potentially increasing the number of businesses that might wish to start using Google Ads.

AMP Results

Google AMP result

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) results appear when a website has stripped their pages down to the bare necessities so as to improve loading speed on mobile devices. This means taking out unnecessary styling, formatting, bells and whistles while compressing image files and the like to make them as small and as speedy as possible. When a search occurs on a smartphone, Google may prioritise AMP results as these will theoretically deliver a superior user experience.

Many sites are now striving to make their web pages as lightweight as possible using Google's AMP technology. This may mean that non-AMP pages are increasingly left behind as users learn to favour organic results that load more or less instantaneously.

Less Space

With all of the above features and listings jockeying for position, the competition for space on the Google SERP is tougher than ever before. Even if a business ranks towards the top of the traditional organic listings, it will now be much lower down the page overall.

 Google SERP

In this example, not a single traditional organic result is visible above the fold. Instead, the screen is filled with AdWords ads, map listings, and Google Shopping results.

What is the impact of these SERP changes?

As you can see in the image above, paid ads now dominate the top of many SERPs (particularly where the search term is popular and highly competitive). The face of the Google SERP is in constant flux, but it's a fairly safe bet that AdWords will continue to be prioritised. This means that businesses who rely primarily on organic Google traffic may be in for a rough time; for instance, ranking in the 6th organic position for a popular keyword might have driven a lot of traffic to your site in the past, but that #6 slot may now be so far down the page it scarcely receives any clicks at all.

However, it's not necessarily all bad news. Although the traditional organic listings have been pushed down, there is still plenty of organic opportunity above the fold in the form of featured snippets, rich cards, and the map pack.

At the beginning of this article, we looked to address whether all of these SERP changes will impact the way people use Google. To answer that question, we believe Google works to make their SERPs the best they can possibly be for the user (while also endeavouring to maximise their own profits in the process). Google users can gain information quicker than ever before and the SERPs help them make shopping decisions more easily by comparing multiple websites' offerings at a glance. Increasing the number of AdWords ads at the top of the SERP seems to have been chiefly a money-motivated decision, but to be fair, the increasing prevalence of Shopping ads is arguably a user-motivated development, making it easy for searchers to view and evaluate lots of different products in seconds. Businesses may have been adversely affected by the decreased focus on standard organic results, but at the end of the day, Google are more interested in satisfying the people who use Google to search than in placating the business owners who use Google to drive traffic to their websites.

What can businesses affected by these changes do? 

The preference for paid ads over organic results doesn’t look like a trend that will reverse any time soon, meaning that businesses must continue to work harder at their SEO to appear towards the very top of the organic search results. To boost organic traffic and CTR, try to write content that targets the featured snippet box, and make sure you're listed on Google My Business so that you show up in the map pack.

Inevitably, it may also be time to review your paid marketing strategy (or indeed implement one for the first time). If Google AdWords and Google Shopping continue to dominate the top of the SERPs and it is your goal to be a part of that space, budgeting more money for paid advertising may be key. Ultimately, it is a good idea for businesses to try to appear in both the organic and paid results to maximise their visibility, so refreshing your content and paid advertising strategies is the key to staying relevant in the ever-changing SERP landscape. 

Need help driving organic or paid traffic to your website? Get in touch with the Designer Websites team today - our experts will be more than happy to assist you!

Google Fine Digital Marketing

Following a seven-year investigation by the European Commission, it was revealed today that Google will be fined a record-breaking £2.1 billion for abusing its power and dominating search results with its own AdWords-driven shopping services. This is the largest fine to be given out by the EU for a monopoly abuse case.

The case concludes that Google has been favouring its own comparison shopping service and the products on Google Shopping in the SERPS, thereby demoting competitor sites. Under EU antitrust rules, this is classed as illegal and a distortion of the market. The European Commission believes that this practice has denied other companies the ability to compete based on their merits, as well as denying consumers an accurate choice of products and services.

Google fervently denies these claims and stands by their opinion that their method provides consumers with the best shopping experience, making it easier for them to find the products they want.

However, despite their denial, Google has been given 90 days to cease these practices or face further penalties.

So, what could this mean for Digital Marketing?

Well, if Google have to change the appearance of its search engine results, something that they've systematically changed to dominate the online advertising space, then surely this will have a huge impact on their income streams, and on how we advertise websites! Google have 90% of the search market share in Europe alone, and whilst this form of advertising is becoming more and more expensive with its auction-style bidding, there's unfortunately no getting away from the fact that it works, and many businesses rely on it heavily for their businesses.

At the moment, Google generates a massive amount of its income through its advertising platform, and this fine whilst seemingly huge and record-breaking, is nothing compared to the loss they would incur if they had to stop using it. It's hard to see how they will get around this anti-trust ruling, but it will surely have an effect on millions of companies employing the advertising platform, and all those companies like ourselves who are work very closely with it.

Year by year, Google Ads are becoming more of a priority to Google, with the current number of Ads standing at 4 at the top of each SERP. This, along with the introduction of Google Business and local services, means that no organic search results are shown to users ‘before the fold’.

Google Ads

As can be seen in the image above, the entire right-hand side of the page is dominated by Google Shopping adverts. These are also paid for adverts, as can be seen by the small ‘sponsored’ badge at the top of the page. Due to this, most of the SERPs are dominated by adverts which have been paid for by those advertising companies. Google Ads even appear at the bottom of the page, meaning only the middle 10 results are organic. From this, it is easy to agree that consumers may not be provided with the best possible choice when it comes to shopping on Google.

You have to take your hats off to Google for their genius. Where else in the world can you find an example where a business owner pays an advertising company hundreds of thousands, or even millions of pounds in advertising spend, where you can't speak to anyone, you can't get any loyalty discounts, and you even have to rely on their own statistics about the click costs, click stats, fraud clicks, etc. They absolutely dominate this space, they most definitely monopolise, and they do of course favour anything that earn's money for Google! But, is this unfair practice worthy of a fine, or just a phenomenally intelligent advertising platform?

It is unsure what changes Google may make to the world’s most popular search engine, but if they do impose changes it is likely that they will create a new way to fill the gap left by the favouritism of its own Google Shopping channel. Digital Marketers may need to change their methods to fit in with the changes and come up with new marketing strategies. It will definitely be interesting to see where this goes.

However, there is also a chance that Google will not impose any changes at all and just pay the higher fine after the 90-day period. This fine is the first in the three-pronged investigation into the companies practices and so over the coming months, we may see the super-power fined for other anti-trust practices.

For more updates on this story, you can follow our Twitter or our Facebook here!

In this modern day, the influence of social media is becoming increasingly important. Your friends are on it, your family is on it, your dog might even be on it - but more importantly, businesses are on it. With 42% of marketers reporting that Facebook is critical or important to their business, it's clear to see why so many companies invest time in their social media content strategy. 

However, though using social media for your business may seem like the right thing to do, it may be time to consider whether it is actually right for your business. We’ve looked into reasons why social media might be right for your business and reasons why it might not.

Social media is right for your business if: 

  • Social media is right for your business if you’re looking to engage with your consumers on a more personal basis.

    Social media is one of the best ways of gaining an almost friendship like relationship with your customers. By providing your customers with content they will appreciate, such as useful information, discounts, and insider info, this will create a loyal following of consumers from your social media channels.
  • Social media is right for your business if you want to show the human side of your company.

    Social media is an effective way to show the people behind the business. Photos of the office eating cake for someone’s birthday or a recent company achievement really displays the human aspect of the business. Consumers react well to stories, so by telling your businesses story through social media, you will be able to gain their trust.
  • Social media is right for your business if you have a limited marketing budget.

    One of the best aspects of social media is that it is 100% free. For a small business, the kind of exposure free social media platforms bring is invaluable. Paid for social media advertising is a fantastic way of gaining more conversions, but not every business has the budget for this kind of marketing. This is why social media is right for any business looking to gain exposure without spending too much money.

Social media is not right for your business if:

  • Social media is not right for your business if you’re only going to promote your products.

    People mainly use social media to get the latest news and to be entertained, and it seems constant product promotion is quite simply not interesting. The typical rule of thumb is to post 3 informative and helpful posts for every product promotion post.
  • Social media should not be placed on your website if you do not want customers to get distracted by it.

    If your social media buttons are at the very top of your website and are big enough to be distracting, there’s a chance a possible customer may decide to look through your social media rather than your products. If your social media is active and well maintained, this could be a good thing for your business. However, if it is littered with infrequent posts and possible bad reviews, it may be best to remove these click through buttons from your website.
  • Social media is not right for your business if you do not know how to use it.

    Leading on from the last point, social media is not right for any business which does not know how to use it correctly. For example, if you do not have the knowledge that links do not work in an Instagram post; Instagram is perhaps not right for your business. Furthermore, if you do not know what kind of content to post on your social media or how you can benefit your customers with it, it may be best to take a step away from the platforms or hand them over to someone who does have a good understanding of social media.
  • Social media is not right for your business if you spend too much time on it and do not gain enough feedback.

    Finally, social media is not right for your business if you find yourself spending hours upon hours on it but gaining little to none feedback. Especially if you are creating original content, such as images and videos made solely for social media, it may be best to put that valuable time into something that can provide you with solid feedback such as paid advertising. Paid advertising will be able to provide you with clear data on what works and what doesn’t for your business, so this could be more beneficial in the long run.

In Summary

Social media is great for connecting with people, but social media posts are not the best organic marketing strategy for sales or driving in enquiries. If you have a genuine desire to communicate with consumers, alongside providing informative, entertaining and advisory information, then social media platforms can be great for this. However, posts are not an effective way to promote products or services, so if this is your main aim them we would advise that you focus your efforts elsewhere, such as advertising on social media, which can be very beneficial if done properly. We will take a look at this in our future article about how you can get the most out of advertising on social media platforms.

If you think social media might be right for your business or you would like someone else to do it for you, our social media experts can help. Get in touch with us today to request a quote

Snapchat has always been ahead of the game when coming up with new ways to allow marketers to take advantage of social media. Not only can you take a selfie that makes you look like a dog (the future is really here it seems), but advertisers can get closer to their customers than ever before.


Following the success of Snapchat stories, which in the following years was copied by Instagram and Facebook, it can only be assumed that the same may be the case for Snapchat’s new mapping system. Snapchat continues to evolve the way businesses can use social media to promote their brand, so here’s a look at its newest feature.


What is the mapping system?

(https://www.snap.com/en-US/news/)


Snapchat’s mapping system (created by Zenly, then bought out by Snapchat) allows your friends to see your current location, letting you to see if they are near enough to hang out with in person. The feature also heat maps places where people are most actively posting stories, such as festivals or sporting events. Although it does seem quite like Big Brother is always watching, you do have the option to hide your location in Ghost Mode. Basically, the future looks a lot like more dog filters and letting everyone know your every move.


On their blog, Snapchat explains how this feature allows users to “See what’s happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure”.


What does this mean for Advertisers?

Social Media Phone


Snapchat is rolling out this feature initially for the users (and a few sponsored celebrity accounts, such as Ed Sheeran), but it wouldn’t be surprising if advertisements soon reach the UK. Snapchat has had a clever history of easing in their customers so that ads seem less intrusive. This was true of its snapchat stories which allow the user to take or leave their sponsored posts.


However, with this new mapping feature it is possible that brand-related location will play a part, creating a new method of advertising via the app. It would potentially enable advertisers to target customers who are in their area, letting them know if they have a sale or an event on near them. Brands could pay snapchat to promote their event within the snap map, gaining attention from users that are in close enough proximity to take advantage.


This seems like an opportunity to advertise local deals that would actually pique customer’s interests. As the new feature has only just launched we are unlikely to see this development in the next few weeks, but it seems like a natural progression for the app.


Social media continues to change the way businesses communicate with their customers so it’s important to be on top of your game. If need help using social media to benefit your business, we are here to help! Contact our social media experts today.

5 reasons to give your website an update (even if it's only a couple of years old!)

New Website Design

How old is your business's current website? One year old? Two? Three? Older?

You may feel like your website is as good as brand new, but things move quickly in the world of web design, and it's a good idea to rethink your site every couple of years. Why, you ask? Well, for a start, it's important to keep your website in line with all the latest guidelines and best practices from the likes of Google, but you also need to ensure that it's frequently reviewed from a usability perspective as well as from a performance perspective.

Over the past 12 months, there have been a huge number of changes to the way in which Google, Bing, and other search engines source and deliver their results. Additionally, voice and mobile usage are changing the way we browse and interact with the Internet in general - search engines have adapted accordingly, but has your own website kept up with new behaviours and technologies?

Today we'd like to highlight five relatively recent changes that, even if your site already has a modern look and a smooth UI, may convince you that it's time to think about a new website design...or at least a bit of an update!

1. HTTP to HTTPS

Back in August 2014, Google made the following announcement on their Official Webmaster Central Blog:

"Over the past few months we've been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We've seen positive results, so we're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal."

Since then, Google have been giving HTTPS websites increasingly preferential treatment in their SERPs; in other words, your website will have a better chance of ranking highly on Google if you switch from HTTP to HTTPS.

Last July - approximately 2 years on from the original Google announcement - Moz.com published some numbers illustrating just how much Google now preferred secure HTTPS websites. They found that, prior to August 2014, only 7% of first-page results used the HTTPS protocol, whereas in June 2016, over 32% of first-page results were HTTPS-secured.

Google want to keep their users as secure as possible online, and over time, there'll be less and less room for non-secure (HTTP) pages within the top results. Switching to HTTPS will safeguard and future-proof your site's ability to rank, and it will give your users a little extra peace of mind too.

Further reading: Why Convert Your Website to HTTPS?

2. Mobile-Friendliness

Did you know that the majority of Internet usage now takes place on a mobile device? If your website was designed for desktop users and can scarcely be used on a small screen, you could well be missing out on a lot of business (since mobile users will likely abandon your site in favour of a mobile-friendly competitor).

Mobile's share of the market will only continue to increase as desktop computers become less commonplace and handheld devices insinuate themselves still further into everyday life. Furthermore, Google started prioritising mobile-friendly websites in its results last year, so you risk losing organic traffic as well as revenue if you do not have a responsive design that provides a mobile-friendly experience.

We recommend using Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool to assess the mobile-friendliness of your website, then switching to a responsive website design if you score poorly.

Further reading: What is a Responsive Website?

3. Structured Data

A good web developer will use schema tags on your website to help the likes of Google understand the contents of each page. There are loads and loads of different schema tags, but here are some of the most commonly-used:

  • The Product tag is used to identify a product or service.
  • The Review tag is used to identify a review or rating.
  • A tag such as startDate or DateTime may indicate when an event is scheduled to begin.

Using schema tags (also called 'structured data') enables Google to embellish your search results with additional pieces of information known as rich snippets. Rich snippets look like this:

Review snippet

In this example, Google is able to display a rating and a price for the product in question thanks to the website's use of structured data.

Or like this:

Events snippet

Here, schema tags allow Google to display a list of events (complete with dates and venues).

Rich snippets increase the visibility and usefulness of your website's Google results, and there's a chance that Google may one day give websites that use structured data a small ranking boost. If your site doesn't already use schema tags, you should strongly consider adding them in as part of your next redesign/update.

See also: Google's Data Highlighter Tool

4. Featured Snippets

Whereas rich snippets are dependent on your website's code, featured snippets (also known as rich answers) are dependent on your website's content. Here's what a featured snippet looks like:

Featured snippet - What is a web sling?

A featured snippet may also include bullet points, a table, or - as shown below - a numbered list.

Numbered list snippet - How to remove your oven door handle

If you phrase your Google search in the form of a question (e.g. 'where was lord of the rings filmed' or 'how do antibiotics work'), the top result will very often be a featured snippet. This applies to voice search as well as to traditional text searches - for instance, a Google Home device will usually respond to a question by simply reading out the featured snippet for that keyword phrase.

Google is showing featured snippets for more and more searches as time goes by (we've even started seeing them for non-question queries like 'safety goggles'), and if Google starts displaying your competitor's content in a big box at the top of the SERP, there's a very good chance that your organic traffic will plummet as a result.

For this reason, it may be worth rewriting some of the copy on your site with question-type keywords in mind so as to snag as many of those 'featured answer' spots as possible.

Further reading: How to Gain Featured Snippets

5. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) are Google's solution to the increasingly prevalent expectation that online content should load instantaneously - especially on mobile devices. Website owners can now create 'accelerated' versions of their pages specifically for mobile users, and this is definitely something to bear in mind if you're determined to deliver an outstanding mobile browsing experience.

An accelerated mobile page is essentially a stripped-down version of a normal web page that is specifically designed to load very quickly. AMP pages were originally available only to well-known publications like the Telegraph and the Independent, but the technology is now open to all, which means that you can create lean, fast-loading versions of your key pages in order to please mobile users and (potentially) rank more highly in Google's mobile results.

Using AMP on your wensite will significantly improve the speed with which your website is delivered to users. It may also give you an advantage on the Google AdWords platform to boot.

Does your website need an update or a redesign? Request a FREE quote from the Designer Websites team!

New SunSpaces Website Design

SunSpaces is part of Greensquares, a family of businesses specialising in high-quality, low-maintenance outdoor products. We've already revitalised Greensquares' porcelain tile and composite decking websites this year, and we can now add SunSpaces - the company's contemporary garden room brand - to that list.

Last week saw the relaunch of www.sunspaces.co.uk with a brand new design that we think will help the SunSpaces brand to really make an impact on the increasingly popular garden building market. Large, attractive photographs now dominate each page, and the improved user interface makes it far easier for visitors to browse and compare the various garden rooms, verandas and glass extensions available from the SunSpaces team.

As with PrimaPorcelain and TimberTech (the other Greensquares websites that we have recently redesigned), SunSpaces has also been switched from HTTP to HTTPS - click here to find out more about why we're recommending this to our clients right now.

Need a new look for your company website? Request a FREE web design quote here.

Web design is constantly changing and adapting and as we are now halfway through 2017, we thought we would delve into the world of web design and take a look at the trends which are currently dominating the design sphere. From simplistic to bold, the web design trends of 2017 are certainly something to marvel at. 

Material Design

Whichever part of the web you’re browsing, Material Design is a web design trend that is everywhere in 2017. Developed by Google for Android in 2014, Material Design’s sole purpose is to provide users with a clean and accessible interface. An evolution from Flat Design, Material Design brings some of the usefulness of skeuomorphism (such as layers and depth) back to web design, while still maintaining the simplistic and usable nature of Flat Design.

With its Material Design concept, Google has provided rules for what type of style, layout, pattern, usability a material website or app should contain. These guidelines ensure your website will look both neat and eye-catching at the same time.

Material Web Design 

(https://www.android.com/)

 

Vibrant Colour Designs

While the past couple of years has seen designers opt for the safer colour pallets, 2017 has watched vibrant colours become a popular web design trend. With the popularity of material design leading to criticism that many websites are beginning to look similar, bright and bold colours are a great way to stand out from the crowd.

Vibrant colours can also freshen up an older website or can be incorporated in small amounts, such as adding a strikingly vibrant image to your website. Bright and bold typography can also be used to add this web design trend to your website without changing the entirety of it.

Vibrant Colour Web Design

(https://wellingtonzoo.com/)

Minimalism

Minimalism is a concept that has been around for many years, but this year it is becoming one of the most important web design trends. As it can be assumed from the name, minimalism is a web design trend which focuses on minimal elements on the website and removes any unnecessary elements from the design.

In previous years, minimalism has adopted a reputation of simplistic black and white colour schemes, but this year we’ve seen a turn for the best with websites that adopt both the minimalist and vibrant colour web design trends as shown by R magazineFlatsLife is another beautiful example of the black and white nature of traditional minimalism. 

Minimalist Web Design

(http://www.flatslife.com/)

Brutalism

Although not technically a web ‘design’ trend, Brutalism is definitely a web design concept to keep your eye on this year. Known as the antithesis of web design, Brutalist Design aspires to defy all the traditional rules of web design. Some say it is based on the giant concrete buildings built in the 1950s-1970s – designed to do only its job.

To create a brutalist website, the general rule is to not follow any rules. Colour clashes, text which doesn’t fit in the box, gradients, hard to find links – these are all acceptable in brutalist design and some of the biggest names around are using it. Bloomberg, The Outline and Balenciaga are all examples of brutalist design, and the Instagram redesign has been quoted as ‘paving the way’ for brutalist app design.

Brutalist Web Design

(https://theoutline.com/

By looking at just four of the key web design trends this year, it's clear to see that 2017 has brought a variety of different websites to fruition. We predict these web design trends are here to stay and expect to see them once again in 2018. 

Are you looking for a new website design? Our talented team of expert designers and developers can help you with that. Get in touch today to request a free quote.

ai in digital marketing

On the 25th of May 2017, Google’s AlphaGo AI beat the world’s best Go player in a three game match. The highly complex strategy board game is known for its difficulty and huge set of possible moves, which is what makes this victory such an impressive feat for the champion gaming bot.

Increasingly, we’re hearing about the growing capabilities of artificial intelligence, with many of us encountering and interacting with this technology in our everyday lives without even realising it. With audiences becoming more and more attuned to traditional advertising methods, as well as using a huge variety of tools and platforms to consume and distribute information, it has become the marketer’s primary focus to harness the latest technological innovations in order to reach and engage users.  In addition to the demands of consumers, marketers are also looking to exceed the expectations of their clients by using tools and strategies that will allow them to deliver their services more efficiently.

When they’re not busy toppling board game champions, these rapid changes to the marketing landscape are being led by Google, with the tech giant already playing a huge role in shaping the use of digital technology for both businesses and consumers alike. In fact, their CEO Sundar Pichai recently announced a move from ‘mobile-first’ to ‘AI-first’ over the coming years, which gives a strong indication of how instrumental this technology will be in the future of search. The same can also be said of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, whose own investment into AI technology and machine learning has been well documented, as have the efforts of many other influential companies and emerging start-ups.

While AI is often discussed in terms of its future relevance, it is important to remember that this technology is already being implemented by companies throughout the world, across a variety of industries. To provide us with an introduction to some of the tools and techniques that are being used, and to predict where this may lead us in the near future, here’s a closer look at how AI is shaping the world of digital marketing:

Ads

AI is already influencing ad creation, targeting and measurement, which is only set to increase over the coming years. One of the most interesting examples of these innovations in recent news was the revelation that Mattersight would be using voice analysis to deliver personalised ads on home assistant devices. According to reports, Mattersight will be using their voice analysis technology in order to deduce speaker personality traits, allowing advertisers to target users based on this information.

In addition to ad targeting, companies are also using AI to gather performance data that will allow them to measure the efficiency of their marketing efforts, which in turn will also contribute to greater accuracy in future campaigns. Google recently outlined how they will use this technology to provide attribution precision to users of their Analytics, DoubleClick and AdWords services, debuting ‘Google Attribution’ at their annual marketing conference. The aim of this service is to give users a clear picture of their marketing performance across devices and interaction points, allowing the contributing sources to gain their deserved recognition, as opposed to attributing all credit to the user’s last click.

While creativity is often the most downplayed aspect of AI innovation, it has actually been used to create visual ads for quite some time now. Back in 2015, M&C Saatchi created what was dubbed as the ‘world’s first’ AI Ad for coffee brand Bahio. This was powered by an algorithm which continuously tested design and copy changes, gradually eliminating elements which failed to engage while reintegrating those which proved successful. In more recent times, the same agency has used IBM Watson to create ad campaigns for Toyota, using behavioural data from Facebook to personalise the content.

The biggest obstacle facing AI ad targeting is the objection to data use, which will be particularly challenging in the European market, due to new European Union laws which will come into place in May 2018.  Companies who use data in what is deemed to be a discriminatory or irresponsible fashion could face huge fines, demonstrating the barriers that technology will face as lawmakers seek to ensure that legislation keeps up-to-date with these advances.

Visual Recognition Tools

While their use in security applications may be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to visual recognition tools, they are also proving to be incredibly influential in the world of digital marketing, both in terms of user engagement and in data gathering. From live videos to memes, a huge portion of our online interactions take place in the form of images and video content, which means that we must have the tools to enhance these mediums and monitor their impact on audiences.

Visual recognition tools have played a vital role in the development and widespread use of augmented reality applications, which have drastically enhanced the ability of brands to engage their customers and cultivate user generated content. Crucially, these tools bridge the gap between ‘real life’ and digital experiences, providing marketers with greater control and insight into user journeys, and providing unique experiences which encourage addictive use (as is exemplified by the surge of business using Pokemon Go to attract customers in summer 2016).

The most recent example of visual recognition being used to enhance online search is the announcement of the ‘Google Lens’ tool at this year’s I/O conference. Combining image recognition and information about the user’s location, the tool uses the camera feature on Google mobile devices to provide detailed information about these locations or objects. This information ranges from simply identifying an unfamiliar object, to performing more complicated tasks, such as logging into a wifi network using an image of the password sticker on the router.

Aside from the obvious ways in which these tools are able to enhance user engagement, they also provide tech companies with the ability to capture data and further enhance their learning ability. Despite the differences in how Facebook and Google are using visual tools to serve users, their aim to use them in order to understand and respond to user needs is fundamentally the same, as this Variety article points out.

Content Creation

If you regularly read news articles and reports online, it’s highly likely that some of the content you’ve consumed has been composed using artificial intelligence. The most famous of these tools is ‘Wordsmith’, a platform created by Automated Insights which turns data into coherent pieces of content. Wordsmith has been used by several high profile names in the industry, including The Associated Press, who have used it to generate sports coverage and quarterly earning stories, freeing up journalist time and extending their ability to cover multiple events.

To give you an idea of how prominent these tools could soon become, technology research and advisory firm Gartner estimated that by 2018, 20% of business content will be authored by machines, listing reports, press releases and legal documents amongst the range of content that could soon be produced using AI. This is supported by the number of content writing tools that have popped up in the past two years, one of the most recent being PingGo, a start-up which allows users to generate press releases based on answers to journalistic questions on their chosen ‘story’. The company was founded by Sarah Lee, the owner of a PR firm, with the aim of making press coverage more accessible to small businesses and projects that do not have the budget to invest in traditional PR.

Although most content writers are quick to point out that machines lack the ‘humanity’ needed to inject personality into writing tasks which require a high level of emotional sophistication, research shows that audiences are finding the content produced by bots to be increasingly informative and coherent, evidenced by Christer Clerwall’s study ‘Enter the Robot Journalist’. For now, computer-generated content still falls short in terms of its readability and persuasiveness, however, this could drastically improve in the coming years.

Another limitation of current content production technology is its reliance on human input, which is required in order to map out the content and provide the facts needed to produce it. This could change as computer intelligence improves, providing content bots with the ability to understand and produce natural language. Back in 2014, Google’s Ray Kurzweil predicted that computers would be more intelligent than humans by 2029. Considering the progress that has already been made in the past few years, it is not difficult to imagine that bots could become capable of highly sophisticated writing in the not-too-distant future.

While it’s safe to say that AI marketing is still a developing platform in the world of digital communications, it is far from being a distant, futuristic entity that has yet to be harnessed. Brands across the world are using AI throughout their campaigns, while tech companies are piling resources into pioneering the technology needed to facilitate these services for users and businesses alike.

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