Which social media site do you use?

It's a silly question, of course - modern internet users would never confine themselves to just one social platform. Each one excels at something different; for example, we use Facebook to stay in touch with our friends, while Twitter is the best way to keep track of your favourite celebrities. LinkedIn is strictly for business, while Google+ communities are a great way of finding people with the same hobbies as you.

This seems like a pretty good system to us, but the biggest names in social media have other ideas. Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus...each one wants to be the social network, and all of them have recently been attempting to expand their horizons and give us everything we could possibly need. Here's how social media moguls seem to be thinking right now:

"If I give them hashtags and trending topics," Mark Zuckerberg reasoned, "they won't need to leave my website to check Twitter! I'll be the King of the Internet!"

This attitude has resulted in a massive online arms race, with everyone plagiarising everyone else's features in a bid to be the one site that really does have everything. It's hard to say whether or not this is a good thing; we are getting some cool new features out of the ongoing social skirmish, but a lot of people liked Twitter (for example) the way it was, and a lot of these changes have gone down like lead balloons.

If you're not entirely sure what we're talking about, here are three features that social media sites have copied from each other recently:

Trends & Hashtags

Who did it first? Twitter, of course - the microblogging site has been utilising hashtags for years. They've been used for serious purposes (like tracking new stories as they develop) and silly purposes (adding a sarcastic bit of commentary to the end of a tweet), but no matter how you use 'em, they'll always be associated with Twitter first and foremost.

Who else is doing it? Pretty much everyone, although Facebook are the most notable plagiarists here. In fairness, everybody was using hashtags in their FB posts anyway, so it's hard to blame ol' Zuckers for appropriating Twitter's big idea; it's much easier to point the finger at him for Facebook's recently-introduced 'Trending' section, which actually goes one better than Twitter's 'Trends' by including a snippet of information about each trending topic.

Handy, although we can only imagine how many people had Game of Thrones spoiled for them by that little white box in the corner.

 

Cover/Header Photos

Who did it first? Google+ has allowed users to upload cover photos since it launched in 2011. Facebook weren't far behind, rolling out the cover photo in September of the same year. Either way, it certainly wasn't Twitter's idea.

Who else is doing it? Yep, that little blue bird and its evil overlords can take just as good as they give. Roughly one year after Facebook first allowed its users to add cover photos, Twitter starting doing more or less the exact same thing.

More recently, Twitter's layout was radically changed, putting a lot more focus on the cover photo (or 'header photo', as Twitter would have you call it). This was met with a lot of criticism - wasn't Twitter supposed to be about fitting everything into 140 characters? Why the sudden focus on adding images?

 

Dragging & Dropping

Who did it first? Again, we're pretty sure that Google+ can claim the bragging rights here. A lot of people were reluctant to embrace The Big G's social network when it first materialised online, but if there's one thing that won people over (including the Designer Websites team), it's the site's superbly sleek functionality, epitomised by the way in which you can simply drag images and other items straight into your posts.

Who else is doing it? Almost everybody, although we certainly aren't complaining about this one. You can now drag and drop images into tweets and Facebook updates, just as you can with G+ posts, and it's miles better for everyone (although the functionality is still a little clunky on FB). Now, if only LinkedIn would let us do this as well...

What do you think? Are all social networks too similar nowadays? Should they be sticking to what they each do best? Or are you enjoying all of these changes and new features?

Let us know on Twitter...or Facebook...or Google Plus.

Sova Healthcare screenshots 

Sova Healthcare provide bespoke home care services to elderly and vulnerable individuals in Yorkshire and Leicestershire. With two offices in two separate parts of the country, the company was beginning to outgrow its rather basic website, and that's why Sova got in touch with the Designer Websites team.

We used a number of different strategies to update Sova Healthcare's online presence. The most striking difference between the new site and the old site is the responsive design; given the current trend towards mobile phone usage, most of our recent clients have opted to go responsive, and Sova were no exception. Where the old site was somewhat difficult to navigate on a smaller screen, the new site looks great and functions perfectly on any device, from desktop PCs to smartphones and tablets.

Home care is obviously a sensitive topic for many people, particularly the type of people who are likely to visit the Sova website. With this in mind, we collaborated with Sova to ensure that every element of their new site painted the company as a compassionate and understanding care provider with a wealth of experience. This is reflected in every aspect of the finished website, from the copy to the choice of images.

With streamlined navigation and a friendly, welcoming design, Sova Healthcare's new website will make it as easy as possible for clients to arrange healthcare for their loved ones. If you want to visit the new site, you'll find it at www.sovahealthcare.co.uk.

Liberty site previews

With offices in both Cardiff and London, Liberty Marketing are an award-winning agency with a great track record. They offer a range of digital marketing services, from copywriting and search engine optimisation to social media management and pay-per-click advertising. They've helped hundreds of businesses - large and small - to find their feet online, and their brand new website will surely help them to reach even more clients.

The new Liberty website went live yesterday, and it's another great example of our talent for responsive web design. If you'd like to take a look, the URL is www.libertymarketing.co.uk - here are some of the improvements that we've made:

  • Responsive design for better appearance and functionality on mobile devices
  • Simple, straightforward navigation, making it easy for users to find the service they need
  • Crisp, modern look that stays true to the company's established brand image
  • 'Our Thoughts' section, containing Liberty's latest blogs and social media posts

With mobile internet use increasing all the time, it's now more important than ever to have a responsive website for your business. Click here to request a free, no-obligation quote for your new site.

alphabyte.it preview 

Computers are right at the core of many businesses (not least our own), and yet you'd be surprised at how many of those businesses have absolutely no backups or disaster recovery plans in place. From hardware failure and computer viruses to flooding and human error, there are any number of dangers that could wipe out all of your information in the blink of an eye - you never know what could happen tomorrow!

Fortunately, Alphabyte IT can help you to safeguard against all of these hazards and more. They've helped a huge variety of businesses to organise their IT infrastructure and protect themselves from data loss, and with the brand new website that we've just finished building for them, they're ready to help many hundreds more!

The new site (alphabyte.it) is completely responsive, and while we obviously aren't entirely objective, we think it looks absolutely great. The simple design makes it easy to find the service you need, and trust us, data backup is just one of many services that Alphabyte can provide. They also offer IT evaluations, project management assistance, copy and printing advice, and much more besides.

So if you haven't been taking proper care of your company's IT systems, go and take a look at the new Alphabyte website. They may end up saving your business!

Bakeware screenshots

If you enjoy the odd spot of baking on the weekend, we've got fantastic news for you: BritishBakeware.co.uk (our latest project) is now up and running! British Bakeware is a brand new enterprise that was started by a team of baking fanatics - the company sells baking trays, cake tins, and all kinds of other essential kitchenware. In short, it's a one-stop shop for bakers all over the UK!

This is an ecommerce website and so, as usual, we've made sure that the buying process is slick, functional, and as easy as can be. Products are divided into several different categories ('Bread Baking', 'Grill Pans', etc.), and from there, it's a straightforward shopping basket system that allows users to restock their kitchen in moments!

One very nice feature of this website is the blog. We styled it to look like one of your mum's recipe books (very in-keeping with the website's vintage theme), and we gave it a highly readable layout that makes it exceptionally easy to whip up your next masterpiece. The recipes are linked to 'Products You May Find Helpful' - for example, the pizza recipe links to a pizza tray - and those products contain links to the relevant recipes, too. It's a great idea, and we're very pleased with how it all comes together!

We are delighted to announce an exclusive offer from SagePay to friends of Designer Websites, where you can get your first three months completely free! 

SagePay will offer secure, easy to use and flexible online payment systems for your business. Thanks to our partnership with SagePay they have kindly created an offer where customers and friends of Designer Websites who sign up to SagePay through our custom SagePay partners will get their first three months completely free.  

Note this offer is only available to New SagePay customers. 

 

Previews of 50cal.co.uk 

50cal Detailing are based in Belfast Harbour, and they specialise in high-calibre car detailing products such as wax and polish. They're still a fairly young business, but they're serious about what they do, and their products took years of research to perfect.

The 50cal website has just gone live, and we think it's one of the most eye-catching we've ever created. It's got a sleek black design and a responsive layout that looks great on smaller screens (smartphones and other mobile devices) as well as on desktop PCs. Moreover, 50cal's intuitive ecommerce website makes it easy for potential customers to find the product that's right for them - whether you're looking for wax, car wash foam, wheel cleaner, or something else again, you'll find it in a matter of seconds.

Don't believe us? Visit www.50caldetailing.co.uk, have a click around, and see what you make of our latest work!

Practice Solutions screenshots

Practice Solutions Ltd are based in Rhondda Cynon Taff, and they work within the health and social care sector. Their stated aim is to "improve people's lives", and they do this by empowering people and helping them to change things for the better.

Digital media is one of several services provided by Practice Solutions, and obviously, any company that works with video and social media needs to appear plugged-in and switched-on. For this reason, the people behind Practice Solutions decided that their site was in need of an update, and that's where the Designer Websites team enter the picture!

The new Practice Solutions website is now live - you can visit it at www.practicesolutions-ltd.co.uk, and as you'll see, we've refreshed it with a vivid, lively new look. The new version of the site is easy to navigate and very appealing to look at - we hope that the company are happy with it!

 

Hen UK are a new hen party company supplying hen accessories online to all of the UK. To stand out a saturated market, they wanted a snappy web design that looked sleek, user-friendly and was completely responsive across all mobile and tablet devices.

We are delighted to announce their website is now live, and we think it’s pretty snazzy indeed! We opted for minimal text because we wanted the design to do the talking. We filled the homepage with colourful images of some fun and cheeky hen night products for an overall aesthetically pleasing design.

The website is completely responsive, which means no matter how you choose to buy your hen products – via phone, tablet or PC, the customer experience will not be compromised, and Hen UK will look equally as snazzy on any device!

The result is a fun and flashy website which perfectly represents the band. Head on over to http://www.henuk.co.uk to check it out now.

Screenshots from the new Training Courses Wales website

If you've ever felt like quitting your job and starting a completely new career, our latest project may well be of interest to you. We've been putting together a brochure website for Training Courses Wales, a company who specialise (as their name would suggest) in vocational training courses. The site went live yesterday, which means that budding plumbers, electricians, gas engineers and construction workers can now book onto relevant training courses right here in Wales.

The local factor is a big part of what Training Courses Wales are all about. They realised that many, many more people would be willing to train for a job in the trade industry if they didn't have to travel so far; catching trains, booking accommodation, and going days without seeing one's family are all big obstacles on the path to a new career. Would-be electricians in Swansea, for example, may previously have chosen not to undertake professional training because they couldn't make it to London or Manchester for a good quality course.

That's where this new website comes in. Training Courses Wales provide vocational training courses throughout South Wales, allowing a lot of people to start the career that they always wanted to have. The TCW site contains details on all of the different qualifications that you can gain from their courses, along with a slick enquiry form that interested parties can use to get in touch. If you want to see what exciting new occupations are at your feet, or if you just want to see an example of our handiwork, pop over to www.trainingcourseswales.co.uk now.

Previews of the new Floormaker site

We've been looking after Floormaker's site for several years now, and our latest project for these well-established flooring suppliers was a new, responsive website design. A little while ago, the Floormaker team noticed that a growing portion of their site traffic was coming from smartphones and tablets, and since they wanted to give these mobile users the best possible experience, they picked up the phone and asked us to redesign their site.

The main result of our hard work is that the Floormaker site now responds to the device on which you view it. For instance, people who buy their floor using an iPhone will see a slightly different layout to Floormaker's PC-using customers.

Having said that, we made plenty of other changes while we were redesigning the site. Social media feeds are now prominently displayed on the homepage, making it easier for visitors to see what the brand is up to on Twitter and Pinterest. We also created a 'DIY SOS' blog, which the company can now use to answer any flooring questions their customers might have.

New features aside, the whole site generally looks a little sharper and more modern. Pop over to www.floormaker.co.uk now and see what you think of our handiwork!

Screenshots of the new Headrush Europe website

Headrush Europe is a wholesale supplier of beer bongs, beer pong tables, and all kinds of other drinking accessories. They supply these items to loads of big-name retailers; you've probably heard of Hawkin's Bazaar, MenKind, and Gadget Inspector, and these are just some of the companies that stock Headrush products.

Why are we telling you this? Because Headrush Europe's new website has just gone live, and we're the people who created it! Since Headrush are wholesalers, not retailers, this site is somewhat different to our other ecommerce projects. In addition to the usual shopping basket/checkout functionality, we put together a nifty application form through which customers can register for a trade account. The trade account allows stockists to keep track of their purchase history and make regular bulk orders from Headrush without any faffing about.

We're pretty pleased with the new Headrush website; if you're interested to browse for yourself, head over to www.headrusheurope.com and check it out.

Screenshots of the new Iola NZ site

With responsive web design becoming more and more ubiquitous, you may have noticed that a lot of our client websites have been receiving the responsive makeover recently. We've already told you about Howells and TimberTech, and the design work that we did for both of those sites - well, Iola NZ is the latest website that we've made responsive.

Iola is a New Zealand-based outdoor furniture company. All of their products - chairs, tables, sun loungers, the lot - are hand-crafted by master weavers, and the furniture that they create is ideal for a cool, contemporary outdoor living space.

With this in mind, it was important to the people behind Iola NZ that their website should be as attractive and as modern-looking as possible. Hence the new responsive design; the revamped Iola website looks just as good and functions just as smoothly on phones and other mobile devices as it does on our desktop PCs.

Whether you view it on your laptop, your iPad, or your smartphone, we think you're going to love what we've done with the Iola NZ site. Check it out at www.iola.co.nz.

Our clients TimberTech are a garden decking expert company and thanks to the Designer Websites team, their website has just undergone a fancy responsive make-over! Their new website utilises the highest development technology and is completely responsive, offering a seamless transition across all platforms. 

TimberTech's highly-optimised website consistently performs well in the search engines and ranks impressively for related keywords, and now they have a snazzy responsive website to match! We're really pleased with TimberTech transition to a responsive site and think their extensive range of composite decking is now magnificently on display whether you're viewing it from a tablet, a laptop, a desktop computer or a mobile device.

A responsive design is the best way of ensuring your website is thoroughly user-friendly. If you'd like a responsive design for your website then get in touch with us for a quote now.

Pop on over to TimberTech's new website and see our latest responsive design in all its glory! 

Howells Legal website screenshots 

Howells Solicitors are one of our long-term customers - it's been a couple of years since we first worked on a website for them. The site we created back then was slick, stylish, and functional, but times do changes, and any businesses that want to stay successful and relevant need to change with them.

With this in mind, Howells asked us to give their website a responsive revamp. Responsive design (which ensures that your site looks good on any and all devices, 'responding' to the size of the screen you're using) is very much the 'in' thing right now, but it's far more than a mere fad. A massive slice of internet usage now occurs through smartphones and other mobile devices, and a responsive site ensures that you're attending to the needs of each and every segment of your audience. An old-fashioned site that was designed solely with desktop PCs in mind may well look rubbish when viewed on a phone, and if that's the case, it's bound to be a massive turn-off for your mobile visitors.

Not only is responsive design better for the customer - it's also better for search engines. Google now recommend responsive design as best practice, saying that such sites are far better for the ever-expanding mobile demographic. The guys at Howells knew all of this and, keen to please clients and search engines alike, they came to us and asked if we could update their site.

And, well, that's exactly what we did! We're pleased to announce that www.howellslegal.co.uk is now fully responsive, and we think that the site looks better than ever. If you need a responsive design for your website, pop over to our Quote Request page now.