ABC Leasing

ABC Leasing are a team of car leasing specialists based in South Wales. They provide vehicles for personal use as well as for professional purposes, and they pride themselves on providing great customer service and making the leasing process as fast and as hassle-free as possible for their customers. 

One of ABC's main aims is to provide a straightforward and transparent service, making it easy to apply for a lease and to find the information needed to make an informed decision. With this in mind, they became concerned that their website was somewhat outdated and difficult to use, preventing them from giving their customers a truly user-friendly experience. This is why they decided to get in touch with Designer Websites with the the goal of creating a sleek new website that would be easy to use and comprehend. They also wanted to improve their website's search engine optimisation, in order to attract more business via Google and other search engines.

Our developers worked closely with the team at ABC to create a modern and user-friendly website, with a variety of helpful features that were custom-built to meet their aims. A primary goal for the new design was to ensure that customers were able to browse and search the full range of vehicles with ease, allowing them to select their desired car or van online. To make this as simple as possible for site users, we developed a sophisticated search system that allows users to refine their search by make, model, vehicle type and budget, granting them the ability to add or omit these specifications according to their preferences.

As well as improving the search function on their website, ABC were also keen to make the application process as straightforward as possible, enabling customers to apply for a lease without having to visit the ABC office in person. Their new website's online application page makes it simple and stress-free for users to apply for a lease on any device, thanks to the responsive design, which ensures that the information is presented on smartphones and tablets in an easy-to-navigate format. There is also an additional enquiry form for people who would like to find our more about ABC before making their decision, allowing them to target undecided customers as well as those who have already chosen to commit.

To view the new and improved ABC Leasing site, please visit http://www.abc-leasing.com/

If you would like to discover how an improved website could enhance your business or organisation, please get in touch with Designer Websites to discuss your requirements.
Alternatives to Google

Has any company ever dominated its market quite as thoroughly as Google? With roughly 40,000 search queries processed every second, Google is by far the biggest player in the search engine game; you probably use Google more often than you use your toothbrush. The company's utter dominance is such that the word 'Google' itself has long doubled as a verb meaning 'perform an online search' - it's very much the Hoover of search engines.

Still, if Google's tax avoidance and career-ending April Fool's Day jokes have left a sour taste in your mouth, there are alternatives. Here are a few non-Google search engines that may be worth investigating:

Bing (www.bing.com)

Bing was launched in 2009, but despite Microsoft's best efforts, it has never come close to threatening Google's position as the internet's go-to search engine. Bing has always been the Pepsi to Google's Coca-Cola, and many of the people who do use it simply do so because they don't know how to change their browser's default search provider.

Why you might prefer it to Google: Some people argue that Bing actually gives better results than Google. Granted, a lot of those people work for Bing, but we'd encourage you to at least give Microsoft's engine a try - depending on what you search for, you may well be pleasantly surprised.

DuckDuckGo (duckduckgo.com)

DuckDuckGo has been active since 2008, but the search engine's user base has shot up over the past year or so, largely due to the public's increasing interest in web services that preserve their privacy.

Why you might prefer it to Google: DuckDuckGo is all about user privacy. Whereas Google uses things like your location and your search history to deliver personalised results, DDG doesn't track you or collect any personal information whatsoever. The downside? Since DDG serves every user exactly the same results for each query, the search engine isn't very good at handling searches like hair salon near me (remember, DDG doesn't collect info on your current location). You can, however, work around this by supplying your location in the search term itself, e.g. hair salon in shoreditch.

Blackle (www.blackle.com)

Blackle is powered by Google Custom Search, so it's not a unique search engine in its own right like Bing and DuckDuckGo. However, it does have one advantage over the Google you're used to...

Why you might prefer it to Google: Blackle's all-black design is actually more energy-efficient than Google's homepage, which of course is predominantly white. Blackle's About Us page suggests that, if everyone used their site instead of Google, it could save as much as 750 megawatt hours every year (that's enough energy to power a vacuum cleaner for 85 years straight!) A secondary benefit: by setting Blackle as your homepage, you're providing yourself with a regular reminder to save energy whenever and wherever you can.

Common Search (about.commonsearch.org)

At time of writing, the Common Search search engine only exists in the form of a UI demo. However, the idea behind Common Search is well worth talking about: as their mission statement points out, one of humanity's most important resources (the internet) is currently in the hands of "profit-seeking companies", but Common Search's nonprofit search engine will eventually provide web users with an alternative. They aim to be "open, transparent and independent...just like an arbiter should be".

Why you might prefer it to Google: Since Common Search won't be run for profit, there will be no adverts (unless they have "exhausted all the other ways to be financially sustainable") and the organisation's decisions hopefully won't be influenced by the possibility of financial gain.

If you're a business owner looking to climb the Google (or Bing, or DuckDuckGo) rankings for your industry's top keywords, our Search Engine Optimisation specialists can help. Contact us now to request a quotation.

If you're an Instagram user, unless you've been hiding under a rock all weekend, you're likely to have noticed some unusual goings-on in your feed over the Easter break. In place of the usual selection of posts, you will no doubt have been bombarded with a repeated message from many of the accounts you follow, urging their audiences to 'turn on post notifications' in order to continue seeing their content. The reason for all of this panic and uproar? Instagram's latest algorithm changes. 

Sparked by the same issue that launched the #RIPTwitter tag only a few months ago, the outpouring of complaints from users came after the image-led platform announced that it would be abandoning the traditional reverse-chronological feed in favour of a system which will order posts by 'relevance'. Following in the footsteps of Facebook and Twitter, Instagram's changes mean that you will no longer see the newest post from your followed accounts on your feed first; instead, you'll see those which have been selected by the algorithm. 

While the idea of having curated content specifically targeted to your previous likes and interests may seem like a move towards user-friendliness, the alterations have come under considerable scrutiny since their announcement. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the new system is said to include 'post-engagement' as a factor in its ranking process, which for many is seen as a move towards social media elitism. This is due to the fact that those with the greatest number of followers are likely to appear first, due to the large number of 'likes' which their posts regularly attract. Until now, Instagram has been the go-to platform for many self-made businesspeople and demi-celebrities (outside of YouTube, of course!) Everyday users have been able to build up large and loyal followings based on the quality of their content and their post timing/tag intelligence alone, but this pathway could be derailed for future users thanks to these changes.

This change has also come under considerable scrutiny by businesses established outside of Instagram, who until now have made use of the platform's growth and popularity to get their posts noticed by existing and potential customers. This is largely due to Instagram's affiliation with Facebook, and the perceived similarities between the former's latest update and the latter's own new algorithm change haven't helped. The current panic and outrage from businesses is somewhat justified, based on the negative impact documented in the wake of Facebook's own non-chronological feed change. After the changes were brought in, businesses reported all-time-lows from their organic post reach, a move which many viewed as a method of forcing companies into resorting to paid Facebook ads.

And here lies the core problem with content filter changes on social media platforms and search engines: the issue of profits over people. In the eyes of many users, life is being made increasingly difficult for average users and small businesses, as the ability to reach your desired audience without the boost of a large existing following or financial investment becomes increasingly elusive. The prospect of an organic, indiscriminate form of online networking seems to be a dim and distant dream for many, but are the objections to this latest set of algorithm changes justified?

One factor which could go against the presumption that the new change is bad for business is the fact that Instagram does not currently discriminate between business and personal accounts. This means that unlike Facebook, posts from 'real people' are not unfairly prioritised over those posted as part of a business's brand awareness and marketing strategy. While this may not completely solve the question for smaller accounts and those just getting started with Instagram, it does force users to be smarter with their use of trends, analytics, and overall post quality. Popular post times, trending hashtags and calls-to-action should all factor in to the post-algorithm Instagram strategy, which could even mean that those who strive to cater to their intended audience will be rewarded over those who simply take for granted that their posts will be seen. Lazy, repetitive content leads to a decrease in engagement, likes, and eventually followers; this means that, while the new algorithm may give those with an established follower-base a head start, it will still force all users to maintain post quality.

It is also worth noting that urging followers to 'turn on notifications', is probably one of the worst steps that an Instagram user can take in the wake of these changes, particularly those running business accounts. For the network's average users, it was puzzling and slightly laughable to see Instagrammers with hundreds of thousands of followers posting these messages, as one would naturally presume that these accounts will have a better chance of being prioritised under the new system. For followers who weren't already irritated by the barrage of notification posts, it is highly likely that the deluge of notifications facing those who did decide to 'switch on' will strike a decisive blow. As any good social media marketer knows, spam is never a positive or fruitful way to target users, so your main priority regardless of these changes should be the production of relevant, high-quality content.

While it may be easy to attack the faults and motives of Instagram's latest update, it is worth remembering that, unlike previous alterations to the online experience, these changes should not pose an instant impact for users. Instagram themselves have explained that the roll-out will be gradual, and will involve an extensive testing process, suggesting that they are interested in maintaining Instagram's user-friendliness. Though it is important to question the business motivations of companies like Instagram, it is also important for users to see the bigger picture in order to adapt and account for changes beyond their control. 

If you're looking to improve your business presence and brand image on social media, click here to find out how we can help.

South Wales UPVC Ltd. are wale’s longest running double glazing firm, established in 1990, they have since become marketing leaders in their industry. The company started 25 years ago, and only offered double-glazed windows and doors to their customers. Now, in 2016 South Wales UPVC Ltd. have been going from strength to strength and have expanded their services and now offer expert conservatory and porch installation.

Having worked with Designer Websites before they were more than confident in our abilities to create exactly what they require from a website.  South Wales UPVC Ltd needed a website that could effortlessly reflect the quality of their products.

As Always, the team at Designer Websites created a stunning website that is not only responsive and user friendly, it reflects the standard of their work with ease. Their new home page has a minimal and particularly easy to navigate. With South Wales UPVC Ltd. being a welsh company they felt it was important to maintain their welsh identity, so opted for the White, Green and Red colour scheme which remains prominent throughout their new website.  

Word of mouth advertising and reviews are an incredibly valuable source of information for potential customers of South Wales UPVC Ltd. So to let people see just how outstanding this company is we have provided links to their trust pilot page so people can easily see their reviews and we have updated their enquiry form to make it quicker and easier for people to get in touch, or get a quote from desktop and mobile.

If you would like to see what our designers have done with this website, visit http://www.southwalesupvc.co.uk/ now.

Facebook Ad Images

Earlier this week, Facebook changed their guidelines regarding ad images. The images that accompany Facebook ads were previously allowed up to 20% text coverage, meaning that up to one-fifth of your promotional image could consist of written text; however, Facebook's Guide for using text in ad images now states that their "preferred image style" contains "little to no text". Advertisers must now strip most if not all text out of their ad images if they wish to continue reaching the largest possible audience.

This change came into effect on Tuesday the 22nd of March, but you'd be forgiven for missing the memo - there seems to have been no official announcement from Facebook, and the alteration appears to have gone unnoticed by mostof the online publications who would usually cover this sort of thing. Even the people paying to advertise on Facebook were not notified of this change, meaning that many people will have seen their ad reach plummet over the last day or two.

If you're concerned that this change may have affected your company's ads, here's a quick primer on the updated guidelines and how to comply with them:

OK, Low, Medium or High?

As of Tuesday, text coverage is now defined by four different categories. The category into which your Facebook ad falls will determine a) how many people you'll be able to reach, and b) how much the ad will cost to run.
  • OK: These ad images contain little or no text. A photograph overlaid with your company logo will probably fall into this category as long as there's no other text present.

  • Low: These ad images contain some text. Ad images with one or two lines of text will fall into this category; while these ads will probably reach fewer people than ads in the OK category, you may decide that the image text is so important that you're willing to sacrifice a portion of your impressions in order to deliver your full message.

  • Medium: These ad images contain a lot of text. Placing text in several different parts of your ad image will probably land your ad in this category. Facebook will still show these ads, but they are likely to reach a very small number of people under the new guidelines.

  • High: These ad images contain too much text. Facebook will not show an ad like this (unless the ad image is covered by the list of Exceptions - more on that in a moment).
Here's the infographic that Facebook have released to help advertisers understand the new guidelines.

Facebook Ad Image Guidelines
Image from facebook.com

Exceptions to the new rules

Facebook have stated that certain types of image will be exempt from these stricter image saturation guidelines. If any of the following apply to your ad, you can probably disregard everything we've said so far:
  • Book or album covers
  • Posters promoting concerts, music festivals, comedy shows, sporting events and films
  • Text-based businesses (e.g. calligraphers)
  • Screenshots of apps and games
  • Legal text
  • Infographics
  • Pictures of products (where the entire product is visible - no zooming in on a specific area)
Unfortunately, this list of exceptions does not cover logos, watermarks, or numbers - all of these things count towards the total amount of text in your image.

What should I do now?

If you're already running any adverts on Facebook, we strongly recommend that you log into your account and check the images that you've used alongside those ads. Pay close attention to the number of impressions your ad has achieved over the last few days - if that number has dropped since Tuesday, there's a good chance that your ad images no longer comply with Facebook's preferred style. Even if your impressions have remained stable, it's probably a good idea to swap any text-heavy images for images containing little or no text, just to be on the safe side.

Going forward, you will need to make sure that any new Facebook ads you create place are accompanied by images containing as little text as possible. You can still use text in the ad itself - just try to keep it out of the image or your campaign may not reach the audience you're targeting.

If you would like our social media experts to assist with your company's Facebook ads, please contact Designer Websites today - we can help you to create a compelling advert that reaches the largest possible audience.
UPDATE (12th Dec 2016): Google recently announced that HTTP websites that collect sensitive data (e.g. passwords, payment details) will soon be flagged as 'not secure' when someone attempts to view them on the Google Chrome web browser. This means that, if your website requires users to enter login details and/or personal information, it is now even more important that you follow the advice given below and secure your site by upgrading to HTTPS. Failure to do so ASAP may lead to a sharp decrease in site traffic as Chrome begins to warn people away from your site.

Why Convert Your Website to HTTPS?

There’s lots of chatter on the internet, and particularly within the SEO community, about implementing site-wide HTTPS for websites, and you may be wondering why. In the first instance, website owners are making the shift predominantly because Google have (relatively recently) suggested that, because HTTPS is inherently more secure for internet users, they have added this as a ranking factor within their SERP algorithms. There are other reasons, of course (chiefly the added security), but most website owners whose websites were not previously secured by an SSL are having to think about the switch simply to stay ahead of the competition.

We’ve been building secure websites for ecommerce for over a decade; this is normal practice when handling transaction and customer details, but not so much for basic brochure-style websites. However, we recently converted a brochure-only website for one customer to a more secure HTTPS website; take a look at composite decking suppliers TimberTech.

Timbertech are among the first of our customers to switch to a site-wide HTTPS website, and we’re very closely monitoring their rankings to see if this has any effect on the SERPs. We anticipate carrying out this task for a great many of our customers over the coming months, and we think that if you have not already done so, then you should seriously start thinking about doing this for your website. Here are two reasons why:

1. A more secure browsing experience for your users.

All data sent via HTTPS is encrypted, meaning that it cannot be read by anyone but the intended recipient. As mentioned, we always use the HTTPS protocol at the checkout stage of our ecommerce websites, thus ensuring that each customer's payment details and personal information are handled securely. However, many non-ecommerce site owners are now opting to switch to HTTPS too, and it's not hard to see why: even if no payment information is sent via your site, it can still give users extra peace of mind to know that any other sensitive information they enter (email addresses, telephone numbers, login details, etc.) will be safely encrypted by your website.

2. Potentially higher Google rankings.

The primary aim of any search engine is to deliver the best possible results to the end user, and since online security is a major concern for many web users right now, companies like Google and Bing are always looking for new ways to identify secure, high-quality websites.

Google announced some time ago that HTTPS had been incorporated into their algorithm as a "lightweight" ranking signal, potentially giving HTTPS websites a slight advantage over standard HTTP sites in the search engine's results. We've seen a lot of debate over how much difference HTTPS can actually make to a site's rankings, but while it would be foolish to suggest that HTTPS is some kind of miracle solution, it seems fairly safe to say that converting to HTTPS can at least make a small difference to a site's organic search positions. This blog post from ahrefs.com suggests that HTTPS, when implemented properly, does correlate with higher search rankings.

However, that brings us to an important point: if you're going to make the leap from HTTP to HTTPS, it's important to ensure that it's done properly. Among other things, you will need to implement the proper redirects throughout your site, and make sure that there is a single canonical version of each URL.

If you'd like the Designer Websites team to help you upgrade your site from HTTP to HTTPS, please get in touch - we will ensure that the changeover is handled properly, giving you the best possible chance of achieving higher rankings and meeting the expectations of your users.

A few days ago, we found out that Google would be removing all PPC ads from the right-hand side of the search results page; an announcement that has since sparked widespread debate amongst SEOs. The search results page now has 4 paid ads displayed at the top of the page, which means that it takes longer for users to reach the stream of organic results than it would have previously. While Google have attempted to compensate somewhat by adding a greater number of organic listings below these ads, with 9 blue links being displayed, there is still  a great deal of concern from those who rely on organic rankings.

Previously, side adds would have been more obvious to viewers due to their positioning aside from organic results, which helped to highlight the fact that they were ads. Reserving them for within the list of organic searches means that they viewer has to look through these ads, making it more likely that they will get clicked. This has come as an unwelcome change to many SEO professionals, who are concerned that Google is prioritising its commercial gain over the experience of its users. Results that would once have appeared near the top of the page, have now been pushed closer to the middle, giving an almost entirely new meaning to the prospect of coming out 'on top' in organic rankings. 

Naturally, there are both positive and negative aspects to these changes with regards to the user, which will depend largely on how aware the specific individual would have been of paid results previously. The more street-wise internet users may be irritated by the fact that they now have to scroll through even more paid results, while those who pay little attention to ad markers may even find the new layout refreshing in comparison to the somewhat cluttered appearance of the previous format. The users least affected by this will be those who conduct their searches largely by mobile devices, on which side ads were not present prior to these changes. 

This change has also led to much debate amongst paid search marketers, who fear that the loss of side ads will drive up the price of PPC campaigns, as the competition for the top position becomes more intense.However, some have been quick to dismiss these fears, due to the fact that these ads were already accounting for a low percentage of the total click volume. Wordstream founder Larry Kim also notes that all ads will now be able to use additional add-ons such as sitelink, location and call-out extensions, allowing them to take up a larger area, and providing them with a chance to stand out amongst their competitors. Additionally, he also drew attention to the fact that desktop now account for less than half of all searches, suggesting that perhaps these changes would have had a gradual impact over time regardless, as people gradually migrate from desktop to mobiles.

Whether you view these changes as a positive progression towards better quality ads, or see them as an inconvenience which serves as proof of Google's prioritisation of financial gain over user experience, there is no doubt that you will have to adapt your approach to suit these new developments. As with any updates and alterations in the world of SEO, it is doubtful that the affects of these changes will be felt straight away, however, it is important that people start to examine new strategies straight away to avoid being left behind.

To find out how we can help to improve your visibility in search engine results, or assist you in targeting the right audience with your Google ads, get in touch today.
eTrader provide high-quality ecommerce websites for garment decorators who wish to market and sell their products online. Not only has this service helped countless clothing companies to find their feet on the world wide web, it has also allowed many other businesses to supplement their main revenue stream by selling a range of garments via eTrader affiliate websites.

Being a primarily web-based business, eTrader naturally wanted to ensure that their own website was giving visitors the best possible impression. That's why they asked the Designer Websites team to help them update their site with a brand new design and some improved functionality for potential clients.

eTrader's new website has just gone live, and we're all extremely pleased with the finished job. In this blog post, we'd like to briefly talk about some of the improvements that have been made...

A new look and a responsive design

eTrader's old website had begun to look a little dated, but far more importantly, the site was not optimised for mobile devices. This meant that anyone viewing the eTrader site on a smartphone or tablet would have found it difficult to navigate the website as easily as a desktop user.

The new eTrader website is an entirely different story. The site's new blue and white colour scheme looks fresh and modern. bringing the eTrader brand right up to date; furthermore, the responsive, mobile-friendly design allows the site to fully accommodate the needs of mobile/tablet users, adjusting to fit screens of any size.

Improved application form

The old eTrader website was designed as a simple brochure site: interested parties could get in touch via telephone, email, or a simple online contact form, but the site did not allow users to specify any details about the service required. When building the new and improved eTrader site, we created an in-depth signup form that allows you to determine practically every detail of your eTrader website online, including:
  • Package required (The Trader, The Garment Decorator, or The Affiliate)
  • Domain name
  • Website layout and design
  • Email accounts
  • Associated social media pages
This feature makes it far easier to apply for a website, and we feel that this will really help to drive more enquiries for the eTrader team.

Visit www.etraderwebsites.co.uk to take a closer look at our latest work.
Jump Factory Website
 
Jump Factory is a brand new trampoline park that's set to open in Basingstoke next month. Situated in a converted warehouse, the park will consist of more than 80 trampolines, plus other installations like a half pipe and a giant airbag.
 
Trampoline parks are all the rage right now, appealing to everyone from mums and babies to trained athletes looking to sharpen their skills. At time of writing, Jump Factory's grand opening is still more than a month away, but thanks to the assistance of our social media specialists, the park is already attracting a lot of attention online:
 
Jump Factory Headlines
 
Amazingly, Jump Factory's Facebook page has already racked up more than 2,200 likes - not bad for a business that's yet to even open!
 
As you can probably imagine, the Jump Factory team are expecting a lot of demand when they open their doors on the 29th of February (leap day, appropriately enough), and so they asked us to design and build a top-quality website that would make it easy for potential customers to learn about the park and book visits online.
 
And, as usual, the Designer Websites team were more than up to the challenge! www.jumpfactory.co.uk went live earlier this week, and we're pleased to report that early bookings are already flooding in. Jump Factory's website features a colourful, dynamic design that aims to appeal to serious jumpers as well as to families in search of a fun day out; the site is also fully responsive, making it easier for the people of Basingstoke to book their jumping sessions via smartphone or tablet.
 
UPDATE: Jump Factory Basingstoke is now open! Click here to find out more about the park and book your visit online, or visit our Professional Website Design page to see what services Designer Websites can offer your business.

Late last year, Twitter announced that it would be experimenting with changes to the order in which tweets appear, sorting them by ‘relevance’ as opposed to the traditional reverse chronological order. It also made changes to the much used ‘favourite’ button, replacing it with a heart symbol to represent ‘likes’. Both of these changes sparked huge debate amongst Twitter users, but nothing seems to have caused as much controversy as the social network’s latest announcement regarding changes to the defining 140 character limit.

As part of these changes, users would be able to post tweets of up to 10,000 characters, potentially transforming the Twitter experience as we know it. Known for short, snappy thoughts and insights, many people fear that expanding the limit by such an extraordinary amount could completely alter the core principal of a tweet, eradicating the defining feature which sets it apart from other platforms. With fears regarding loss of individuality and spam posts, many have been quick to criticize the reported plans, however, it is far too early to gauge what kind of impact (if any) this change will have.

While it’s only natural for social media to react with a ‘the sky is falling’ mentality upon hearing what, at first, sounds like a complete overhaul of the traditional Twitter format,  on closer inspection, the changes seem far less drastic than sensationalized headlines make them sound. Fears regarding spam and ‘clogged’ feeds for example, are apparently misplaced, due to the fact these longer tweets would appear in an unexpanded format, prompting readers to ‘click for more’. In fact, it is possible that this new, longer format could even do something to ease twitter spam, by removing the need for Tweetstorms in ‘rant’ situations. As opposed to being forced to scroll through endless snippets of an individual’s 1 of 7 Twitter rant, it would instead, give you the choice as to whether or not you would like to continue reading.

Overall, the process doesn’t seem like a move intended to completely alter Twitter in its current form, although it does seem like another step towards making Twitter a more inclusive experience. It would likely remove the need for third party tools such as ‘TwitLonger’, and would give you less need to click out to other sites in order to view additional content. In the same way as Twitter Cards allow you to view images, play audio/video and sign up for mailing lists etc. from within Twitter, it is possible this new format would allow you to blog/share views directly to the social network, removing the need to link from another blogging platform or article. 

While those who have managed to perfect their impactful yet concise tweeting method will see this as an alteration which somehow devalues the purpose of the platform, it is likely from the sound of early plans that the social network, at least visually, will appear in the same format that it always has. Although the way in which people use Twitter may alter over time in response to these changes, most would agree that a 10,000  character limit won’t mean essays of emojis and life-stories pervading your feed. Whether people will stick to the ‘standard’ tweet or not is impossible to tell, but it will be interesting to monitor how this development will impact the way in which digital marketing experts and casual users approach the platform. 


Whether you’re looking to promote a new product or share your latest blog, email marketing is a great way to encourage customers to visit your website. Unlike social media, email has a far more ‘permanent’ nature, due to the fact that users must actively dismiss posts as opposed to simply overlooking or bypassing them. In order to ignore or ‘opt out’ of a particular message, users must delete the item from their inbox, making this a great way to catch and hold the attention of customers.

It’s all very well having gained a list of emails, but it’s what you do with this information afterwards that will really create a lasting impact for your brand. By acquiring this information, you have established a bond of trust between yourself and your customers/audience, and it is important to ensure that this sense of trust is implemented correctly. Emails should provide useful, engaging content for your customers, and should reflect the services advertised when you encouraged them to sign up in the first place. This refers not only to content of your emails, but more importantly your subject line, which could mean the difference between someone opening your email or sending it straight to their junk folder!

In order to help you get the best from your email marketing campaigns, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts in order to help you provoke interest from your readers, and avoid being categorized as spam. 

Devices to Avoid

Spammy Text
Over-use of ‘sales’ language as well as the excessive use of capital letters and/or punctuation can trigger spam filters, which means that the intended recipient will miss out on the content of your email altogether. Even if a message with a poor quality subject line manages to make it to its intended destination, words like ‘free’, as well as unnecessary exclamation marks and other potential triggers could cause the message to seem useless or untrustworthy to the reader, leading them to disregard and delete the email without even viewing its content.

Poor Personalization 
When used correctly, personalisation can be a great addition to the subject line of your email, but it's important to avoid unnecessary/template style personalisation in order to improve the impact of your campaign. Subject lines which name the recipient can often be off-putting as opposed to engaging, creating no real value and chipping away at your precious character count.

Overly-long Titles 
Due to the large volume of emails being received by audience members, it is of great importance to provide straightforward and easy-to-comprehend information for them to digest. Long-winded and overly descriptive titles take too long to read and react to, making them unappealing for the average recipient. Due to the multitude of emails which will undoubtedly surround yours, it’s important to make your email stand out. The title should of course, provide some clue as to the content, but this should be seen as more of a gateway as opposed to an exact outline. 

Techniques to Implement

Appropriate and Intelligent Use of Punctuation 
While excessive use of punctuation marks and symbols can harm the impact of your line, using these sparingly and effectively can attract the eye of the viewer and encourage them to click on your email. The best example of this would be the use of question marks; a proven way to provoke interest in your reader. Not only do questions cause them to wonder how the information provided affects them, it also arouses a general sense of curiosity regarding the subjects mentioned. 

Target Your Audience
As mentioned previously, poor personalisation can do more harm than good to your campaign, but if used correctly, it can attract the desired response without seeming gimmicky or desperate. Effective subject line personalisation encompasses a range of approaches, from location targeting to demographic-led language. For example, offers or suggestions which relate to the recipients specific locale are sure to gain a better response than those which give more general information. This step could also relate to the language you use and the subjects you choose to emphasise, based on your audience demographic. 

Use Witty, Engaging and Inviting Language
Having considered the previous point regarding audience awareness, you can then decide what type of language is best suited to target your chosen demographic. Conversational elements are usually a good choice, as they avoid seeming cold and robotic. It can also be impactful to pair this with humour, although as always, you should consider whether or not this is an appropriate angle for your recipients.

Controversy is also a great way to get people clicking on your emails, as it provokes an emotional response from the reader, causing them to question the statement while reflecting on their personal reaction to this information. It is important, however, to use this tactic with caution, as it can sometimes be frustrating for readers who find there is no valuable pay off for their action.  

While we have noted that ‘sales’ language can be detrimental to your efforts, appropriate calls to action can, in fact, be beneficial when used correctly. This involves techniques such as invoking scarcity, which could range from advertising a ‘limited time’ offer to stating that a product is low in stock or is selling out quickly. Customers feel compelled to act due to a fear of missing out, prompted by the suggestion that they must act quickly to gain the advertised benefits.

Experiment with Length and Numbers 
As mentioned in the ‘devices to avoid’ section of this post, overly-long titles can cause the reader to switch of immediately. Using uncharacteristically short titles could be an interesting tactic to consider, as they will stand out visually in a cluster of emails, and will also provoke a need to reveal additional information. For those looking to apply a more conventional approach, 50 characters or under is a good figure to stick to.

Numbers could also be a great addition to your subject copy, as they offer something visually unusual for your brain to analyse and become attracted to. In the context of lists, they also work just as well as they do in blog post titles, by appealing to the human brain’s desire for short and easy-to-comprehend information. 

Test
As is the case with most marketing techniques, the best way to gage which subject lines are working for you is by measuring the responses they receive. This can be assessed in a variety of ways, from viewing how many of the emails sent out were opened, to the quantity of voucher codes redeemed as part of an offer circulated via email. When using services such as MailChimp for example, you will be able to use subject line research tools to get ideas, and try AB testing your subjects to see which performs best and meets your desired aims.



When used correctly, subject lines can massively impact the efficiency of your email marketing campaigns, first by getting them noticed in an inbox, and then by getting the recipient to click on them. Like any other online marketing strategy, you may have to try a few different approaches before you find what works best for you, but in time you should find yourself writing eye-catching and engaging subject lines with ease. Just remember to keep your copy clear, concise, and free of errors, whilst also following the guidelines mentioned above.  

For more Online Marketing tips and SEO news, follow Designer Websites on Twitter!


We recently designed a new website for cleaning at height specialists, Seers, who were looking to better target their height services in order to improve search rankings and expand their online presence. 

Seers offer a range of high level cleaning and maintenance services, from graffiti removal and bird spike installation, to standard gutter and window cleaning. Their team has decades of experience in the industry, and covers a vast number of buildings, such as warehouses, hospitals and office buildings (just to name a few). They also cover a wide catchment area, carrying out jobs throughout South Wales and South West England. 

In order to specifically target their cleaning at height services, Seers decided to commission a website that made full use of this term, in order to compete for a better position in search results. Although their variety of additional services are also included on the site, and are easy to locate in the drop down menu, the homepage copy is optimized to place a greater emphasis on height level cleaning, in order to fully encapsulate this phrase. 

As well is improving the SEO for cleaning at height, the new website also has improved functionality and visual appeal, making the site easy to navigate and engaging for visitors. Thanks to the image-heavy design, viewers are able to experience the full extent of the services offered by Seers, getting more of a feel for the type of work they carry out. The photographs also validate their experience in the field, by providing a visual record of past projects. 

At the bottom of the page, there is a prominent array of recognizable logos from high profile clients such as Pinewood and Marriott, which also helps to validate their experience in the field, by demonstrating their ability to carry out work for reputable companies.

The new website is also fully responsive, which means that it will be easy to navigate on mobile phones and other portable devices. This means that customers searching for their services are likely to have a positive experience once they have landed on the site, which in turn will also improve their search rankings by reducing their bounce rate.

View the brand new Seers website. 

If you would like more information about our web design services, please get in touch with us here.
twitter cards blog

If you run an ecommerce site, a blog or have an app you want to promote, Twitter Cards can be a great way to get around the 140 character limit imposed by a standard tweet. Much like add extensions on Google, Twitter Cards allow you to add enhanced details to your tweets, which could potentially lead to valuable actions for your business if used correctly.

Whether you want to focus on an image, a product or want to encourage someone to sign up for a service (to name just a few), there are 7 types of cards to choose from to best suit your desired results. These are tailored to suit the type of media promoted (be it text, image, video or sound clip), and to provide the intended audience with the information required to make them click. This means that as well as providing an improved visual experience for the viewer, the cards also allow them to interact with your posts easily from within Twitter.

For example, if your goal is to promote a particular item and make people decide on a purchase quickly, then a product card would likely be your best option. This includes a title, a thumbnail image, and a description of up to 200 words, as well as other details such as price and availability. These inject the online shopping experience directly into the viewer’s Twitter feed, allowing them to consider the purchase right there and then.

You are also able to measure the response to your cards easily, thanks to the accompanying analytics used to measure impressions and engagement with you cards. Just go to Ads, Analytics and then choose Twitter Cards, to see how well your cards have been doing. A range of metrics will display the number of impressions and clicks, along with other performance statistics, and will also let you see how well the cards have been doing over a given period of time. 

The analytics section also allows you to find out who your key ‘influencers’ are, which essentially shows which tweets had the most impact on the impressions your card received, along with the handle/persona attached to this. This function could be particularly useful to companies and individuals who have worked with bloggers for example, as it could demonstrate whether or not the product or service you attempted to promote through them is actually having the desired impact. It could also show who is already engaging with you brand, and could present potentially successful partnership opportunities in the future. 

If you think that Twitter Cards could be a useful edition to your digital marketing strategy, then there are three things you should consider in order to gain the most advantage from them: 

Test it Out

Once your developer has added the appropriate meta tags to the page you want your cards to pull information from, you can run the URL against the validator tool to test them. This allows you to preview the card, and make sure that you’re happy with the format.

If you’re just starting out with Twitter cards, or you’re unsure about which style would work best for a specific purpose, then it may be worth trying out several card types before choosing the one you will stick to. Check the analytics to see which type is performing better and driving more engagement, then make the transition to this type permanently if you are seeing consistently positive results from it.

Pin it!

If a card you have tweeted yourself has provided you with a great level of engagement or has had a particularly positive impact for you, then it is well worth pinning this tweet so that it appears at the very top of your feed.

By putting this at the top of your page, you are not only showing you or your company at your best, but are also creating an opportunity for the tweet to gain even more attention. This also allows you to prioritise your aims and messages, so that the most relevant piece of information is the first thing to be seen by your audience. This also works in terms of landing pages, as you will naturally want to direct your viewers to well-optimized and/or high-converting pages. 

Make Engaging Copy

Apart from website and lead generation cards, all card types appear in the Twitter stream in an unexpanded format by default. This means that the user must click if they want to see more of the content, by selecting the ‘view summary’ option. 

In order to make users click and view the full card, you will need to ensure that the copy itself is engaging and intriguing, in order to spark the viewer’s curiosity. The more compelling the caption, the more likely it is that people will want to find out more.


Twitter Cards are a fantastic way to offer your followers more information about your website, and when used correctly, can help to drive valuable traffic and conversions. The best part, is that they offer you a lot of freedom to try out and measure different strategies, in order to produce the best results over time. Experiment, and see what works for you, while maintaining the quality of your copy and landing pages – no Twitter Card can make up for poor content!

Follow Designer Websites on Twitter for more advice and regular updates.


When someone first suggested that you should get a blog, you weren’t really too keen on the idea. But eventually, after a lot of nagging, you came around to the idea. You thought it wouldn’t be too much work – after all, how much time do you really need to dedicate to a blog anyway? In fact, you were quite surprised by how easy it was to update your blog at first; you even began looking forward to writing the posts. 

Then one day, an important task came up when you were right in the middle of writing. ‘It can wait until later,’ you thought. ‘The blog isn’t my top priority anyway.’ Eventually, you were spending less and less time on your blog, going from one post a week to one a month, until you were spending virtually no time on it whatsoever. Neglected, and without any fresh content to sustain it, the blog soon became a distant memory, inactive and unloved.


So don’t neglect your blog any longer, use these three techniques to ensure it stays fresh and healthy:

Create a schedule

Be sure to make time for your blog. Decide ahead of time when you’re going to post and what the content will be; this will give you a plan to work from and something to stick to, so you can easily manage your other tasks around it. Thinking of topics in advance will also mean that you’re not stuck for something to write when you do get down to it, minimising the risk of writer’s block!

Think of your audience

It’s important to keep customers and readers engaged with useful content, so do your best to consider their needs and expectations when planning your blog posts. Think: what would the people who visit your website and/or use your services want to read? What would make them want to engage with your post?

Stay current

The easiest way to source fresh content and keep your blog up-to-date is by looking for important news that’s relevant to your field, or by scouting out trending topics that may be of interest to your readers. Try to make sure that what you’re posting is as original and as high-quality as possible; regurgitating content that already exists elsewhere could make people lose interest.


Here’s the bottom line: if you’re going to add a blog to your website, be sure to utilise it to its full potential. Post regularly, and post well; don’t ignore your blog for months on end, revisiting it only to post the odd bit of company news or an annual Christmas message to your clients. Your blog needs attention and love – if you don’t update it regularly, then it will not only fail to serve its intended purpose, it may actually cause your search rankings to drop. Why? Because if you haven’t updated your blog since last year, Google and its users might think you’ve abandoned your website entirely!


access training

Recently we were approached by Access Training Academies, a trade qualification course provider who were interested in improving the usability and search engine performance of their website.

Access Training offer some of the best trade courses in the UK, giving students the opportunity to gain practical experience in a large number of fields, ranging from plumbing to plastering. With state of the art facilities, and a concentrated 1-8 tutor to student ratio, Access Training are able to offer an efficient and highly successful set of teaching programmes to their candidates. 

Hoping to reach out to potential students and aid their location of suitable courses once they had reached their website, Access Training asked us to improve the site's visual and technical aspects, thereby increasing its overall performance and quality.They began, by deciding that they wanted to make the site fully accessible to people who were using devices other than a desktop computer to search for their courses. We achieved this by ensuring that the new design was fully responsive across a number of portable devices, allowing excellent navigation regardless of screen size.

This user friendly nature has been extended throughout all aspects of the site, and is particularly noticeable in the new 'course finder' wizard, which allows visitors to find suitable courses with ease and efficiency. This is directly related to the site's improved copy, which has been condensed to provide easy comprehension and better search engine performance by targeting specific keywords. We've already seen some improvements in their Google rankings since the site went live, and we are sure that this is something that will see continued improvement over time.

Visit the new Access Training Academies website now, or get in touch to find out more about our services.