Category:

Stay Ahead of the Competition

December 3rd, 2020 by

Ballyhoo are still here to support you

First things first, we hope you are managing to stay safe and healthy.

We want to let you know that Ballyhoo are still here to support you in your online journey. Fortunately, we are in a position that allows us to continue operating as normal (more or less), which means we are able to continue to deliver the high-level of service and support that you have come to expect from us.

We’ve all had to adapt to these new times, but many businesses have had to completely rethink their models in order to continue operating. At the very least, they’ve had to accelerate their online growth.

How can you ride this wave too?

Prepare for an increase in online transactions

Many of your websites perform critical business functions and, now more than ever, are likely to be your customers’ primary point of contact.

The ongoing pandemic has forced more and more people to turn to the Internet for services that they would normally do in person: shopping; online fitness classes; medical appointments; booking tables in restaurants (when they are allowed to open); ordering takeaways; and everything in between.

The world has been transitioning online at a steady pace over the last decade or so with more and more services becoming available online. However, the recent situation has rapidly accelerated the evolution of online services and many organisations are scrambling to adopt new practices.

Your competitors are marching forward, don’t get lost in their shadow.

We can’t see this changing any time soon. Even when things go back to normal (whatever that may be), we believe that many of the services that have moved online will stay there and become the new preferred method of interaction.

It’s important that businesses don’t just ride it out and wait for things to go back to normal. Now is the time to update your online practices and ensure that your website caters to your customers so that you can continue to thrive for years to come and tackle anything that is thrown at you head on.

We can help

This might sound daunting, but don’t worry, we are here to support you. If you have any issues at all, want to discuss bringing your website up to speed or just want some help to review your online practices, please send an email to support@ballyhoo.co.uk or complete the form below.

Contact us

Send us a quick message and we’ll get right back to you.

    We aim to respond to all messages within 1 working day.

    How Coronavirus Will Shape The Future of E-Commerce

    July 3rd, 2020 by

    Coronavirus will permanently change shopping behaviour on and offline.

    The shopping landscape both on and offline is going to shift. It already has, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing forth unprecedented change (do you now dislike that word as much as I do?).

    I’m no economist but having worked both on the shopfloor and with businesses pursuing e-commerce success, I think I have a fair insight into shopping behaviour. A decade in web design and digital marketing has certainly shown me what works online and what doesn’t.

    I predict the following main shopping behaviours emerging throughout 2020 and beyond, alongside them you’ll find my recommendations on how you can capitalise on the changing landscape with e-commerce.

    Online Shopping

    Apart from the essentials, many people still aren’t physically going to shops at the moment. Over the past few months, online shopping has been a lifeline for many, with sales rocketing in some sectors.

    Supermarket delivery slots may have been like gold dust but they did exist, and the over 70s demographic, that may previously have typically eschewed Internet shopping, have benefited from priority booking. As lockdown eases, getting a weekly delivery or click-and-collect slot could become a habit, particularly for anyone who struggles to get out and about or is time-poor.

    The supermarket is just the starting point; a plethora of shoppers who weren’t on your radar (or rather the other way around) are now looking for what they want via search engines. Whatever the reason they didn’t ‘do’ online shopping before, they do now, and hopefully they’ve also discovered that the Internet is not a scary place. With good web design and UX considerations, online shopping can be fun and easy.

    Regardless of whether the person visiting your website as a seasoned online shopper or e-commerce newbie, you will still need to make sure the sales funnel is smooth and that any potential barriers to the sale have been eliminated.

    What you can do

    Ultimately, finding e-commerce success still largely comes down to how good your website is. Online shoppers are fickle beasts. To capture their attention, hold it and make a sale your website has to be SPOT ON.

    Yes, having the best price is also a huge factor but you also need to distinguish yourself in other ways. We call them trust factors:

    • Is your website polished and professional?
    • Do you have good reviews?
    • Is your shipping pricing and returns policy transparent?
    • Are your contact details easy to find?

    If the answer to any of these questions is no then you know what you need to do…

    Call Ballyhoo on 0121 295 5352 or fire over an email to hello@ballyhoo.co.uk.

    Subscription Boxes & Discounts

    Subscription services have solidly been gaining popularity for over a decade. The likes of Graze launched in 2007 (the first subscription box that I ever tried), paving the way for more niche regular deliveries. There’s a subscription box for every taste and budget and many sites are making good profit compiling everything in one place and taking a cut when people sign up. From cheese toasties to salon-quality hair dye (my latest subscription due to the lockdown!), you can indulge on a monthly basis for a relatively low cost.

    Other retailers in on the action include Amazon, who offer subscription plans that offer 5% off when you subscribe to regular deliveries of a single product, rising to 15% off across the board once you reach over 5 subscriptions – a substantial saving. There are pros and cons to this type of retailing as a consumer, which I won’t go into now, but as a retailer this is fast becoming a type of e-commerce you can’t ignore.

    What you can do

    • If you benefit from any kind of repeat custom you are already in a good position to introduce a subscription service.
    • Decide whether you want to offer a discount-based subscription or offer a box-style subscription.
    • Note that boxes are generally only useful for small items and a varied catalogue, the main benefit of the box subscription business model being that they fit through letter boxes meaning the customer doesn’t need to be at home and the appeal continues with something new, or a variation on the theme, every month.
    • Offer reduced-cost trials to get customers hooked.

    Click and Collect

    Many retailers turned to the click and collect retail model during lockdown which involved customers being able to order online and collect items safely direct from stores.

    Click and collect is nothing new but it has increased in prevalence due to the advantages of being able to collect items same-day – a kind of middle ground between online shopping and nipping out to get what you need. Prior to lockdown, we were seeing chains like Costa introduce mobile ordering for our morning coffee fix and we could see the introduction of this model accelerated across other sectors whilst social distancing restrictions remain in place. Even if you aren’t a national retailer, there’s no reason why click and collect can’t give you the edge over competitors, albeit on a local scale. I’ve even seen home-baking businesses set up tables at the end of their driveways to allow for safe cake collection.

    What you can do

    • Assess whether click and collect is something you can safely manage from your premises, allowing for social distancing for both collection and queueing. Is sufficient car-parking available? Do you have enough PPE for yourself and staff?
    • Publicise this option early on in the customer journey on your website; even if you aren’t the cheapest this could give you the edge.
    • Ensure that this is actually a delivery option you are able to offer though your website, speak to your web developer if changes are needed.

    Stockpiling

    So-called ‘preppers’ have it sussed, they’ve long been stockpiling non-perishable foods and essential goods just in case of… well, anything. The rest of us are navigating new waters where we can’t just nip to the shops when we run out of milk (actually we can, we just have to stand in a queue two metres away from the nearest human and risk catching a virulent disease whenever we touch anything).

    The increase in bulk-buying and rise in popularity of long-life foods was one of the first new shopping behaviours that emerged during lockdown. We were forced to think ahead; meal planning, batch-cooking and using up leftovers. We were even getting creative with back-of-the-cupboard tins and jars that passed their best-before in 2018 (or older, yikes).

    The national sense of fear that we might run out of toilet roll, which turned so many of us into stockpilers in the first few weeks of lockdown, may stay with us long after the coronavirus threat is gone. How long this crisis lasts for and how big an impression it makes on us as individuals will dictate the extent of our newfound prepping tendencies. At the very least, many have discovered that money and time can be saved by looking to the future and buying what we know we’ll need in advance.

    What you can do

    • Consider selling items in variable quantities, making it simple for consumers, and yourself, by letting them choose from presets (5, 10, 15 etc.)
    • Show stock levels for each product.
    • Introduce bulk discounts.

    For any help with the concepts and suggestions in this post, please feel free to contact our team to see if we are a good match to help you sell online. Call us on 0121 295 5352 or email hello@ballyhoo.co.uk.

    GDPR, Ballyhoo & You

    February 28th, 2018 by

    GDPR is starting to become a familiar acronym. You may be aware of upcoming changes to the law concerning privacy, and perhaps you’ve even received a few scary emails saying that the end of data protection as we know it is nigh.

    But what is it all about, really? And how will it affect your website? We want to let you know in real terms what you need to know and how Ballyhoo will aim to help you transition to new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.

    Disclaimer: This article provides an overview of GDPR and does not constitute legal advice. Ballyhoo’s focus is on how to become website-compliant, and we have partnered with the specialist security firm, Aristi, should you require more in-depth information on best-practice within your organisation.

    Are you ready for GDPR? Are you?!

    GDPR will mean a shake-up of how we manage data consent and requires more stringent policies and possible changes to your website and data storage.

    Despite the law not being enforceable until May 2018, we’ve already seen a lot of information circulating about how to comply. And quite rightly, it’s much better to prepare.

    GDPR will mean a shake-up of how we manage data consent and requires more stringent policies and possible changes to your website and data storage. However, in the grand scheme of things, this is a positive development and, with a little foresight and proper management, it should be reasonably painless – especially if you are already on top of your duties under the Data Protection Act.

    If you’re in any doubt about how to comply and what changes you may need to make to your website (and we can almost guarantee there will be some), we’ve created a GDPR audit service especially to help you meet your obligations.

    So, what is GDPR?

    GDPR is a new European Directive which focuses on the rights of the individual. It is being introduced to give people more control over how and where their data is in use.

    GDPR supersedes the Data Protection Act 1998 (the DPA). We’ve made many technological advances in recent years, so GDPR takes into account how these affect the way we now store and use personal data. If you are already DPA-compliant, you are on the right track and may find that not much has to change.

    As a website owner, you are responsible for any data received through your website; at a minimum, you probably have at least one contact form on your site. It’s more complicated for those of you who are selling products or taking bookings online as the amount of personal data required to carry out the purpose of the website increases.

    Personal data now includes other information that can be used to identify an individual, other than the information they actively provide to you, like cookies stored on their devices and IP addresses.

    Should anything go amiss, you’ll also have a legal obligation to report any data breaches promptly and in their entirety to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

    When does GDPR come into force?

    Despite the UK leaving the EU, our requirement to adhere to GDPR will not be affected, and compliance with legislation becomes mandatory on 25th May 2018.

    That’s not to say you shouldn’t start complying straight away. Many businesses are already rolling out their GDPR-compliant privacy policies and systems, with the intention of ironing out the kinks over coming months.

    To whom or what does GDPR apply?

    Different rules apply depending on the size and scale of your organisation, but the basics are the same, whether you are an individual or a company. You might be large enough to have a dedicated data controller who can take the lead on GDPR, but many of the companies we work with aren’t, so we’ll do what we can to help you meet your responsibilities.

    How enforceable is GDPR?

    As a small business owner or SME, you still have a legal duty to comply, even if you’re not sure you’re large enough to be on the ICO’s radar. You shouldn’t face any sleepless nights as long as you protect the interests of your users. In a sense, it primarily comes down to ethics:

    • Are you giving customers enough information about how you will use their data?
    • Are they able to opt-in (as opposed to opt-out) of communications when they hand over their details?
    • Do they have the right to withdraw consent, if given, at a later date?
    • Are you doing your utmost to protect their data while it is in your possession?

    We can see similarities here with the “Cookie Law” of 2011. Scaremongering was commonplace when this was introduced, and many websites went a bit OTT, but as long as you employ best practice, you should have nothing to fear.

    However, you should be aware that non-compliance carries fines of up to €20 million or 4% of global annual turnover, whichever is greater.

    What is Ballyhoo doing to comply?

    New Projects

    From now on, we will develop every project undertaken by Ballyhoo with GDPR in mind, in advance of the law coming into force. We will discuss the requirements for compliance with clients and ensure everyone knows their responsibilities.

    Existing Projects

    Ultimately, the onus is on you as a site owner to comply with GDPR, but we’ll do everything we can to help. For existing websites that we have built or manage, first and foremost we recommend that you take advantage of our new GDPR audit service.

    Our audit has been designed to take a snapshot of your website or application so we can pinpoint where and how to make improvements. You’ll receive a report detailing our findings, and we can then work with you to implement a plan of action. Alternatively, you can take the audit results away and work through them at your own pace, or even with someone else if you prefer.

    Typically we’ll look at:

    • Data encryption and SSL
    • User registration and contact forms
    • Opt-in and explicit permission for communications
    • Privacy policies
    • Existing stored data

    Hosting

    We will ensure that our hosting service has rigorous security protocols in place to protect data, and we’re currently working on a new hosting infrastructure to improve our service offering using the latest technologies and protocols. More will be announced on this soon.

    In-House

    As for Ballyhoo’s website and systems, we will soon be introducing a new website privacy policy on ballyhoo.co.uk and carrying out an internal data protection audit so that we know precisely how and where we are collecting, using and storing data.

    New information and best practice on GDPR is continually coming to light so we will be monitoring the situation closely in the lead up to May 2018 and will keep you apprised of anything else we think you need to know.

    Pantone 2018 Colour of the Year, Ultra Violet

    January 22nd, 2018 by

    With the new year unfolding, Pantone is back with an all-new ‘Color of the Year’, Ultra Violet. 2018 is represented by a colour that symbolises a night sky that leads to discoveries beyond our current capabilities. It will inspire us to look towards a world beyond our own and incorporate a sense of mystery and magic into our designs.

    2018’s Colour of the Year

    The colour of the year chosen for 2018 is Ultra Violet, a mystical extension of the traditional bluish-purple violet.

    Ultra Violet was not only chosen to inspire others, but it was determined based on a variety of aspects such as cultural trends, emerging emotions and political developments. This colour embodies aspects of blue, purple and red to create a vibrant, mystical and magical shade.

    Experts at Pantone refer to this chosen colour as “a dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future” and we couldn’t agree more.

    A Source of Inspiration

    Ultra Violet already seems to be having an effect on the art, beauty and digital world. We are only in the first month of 2018 and can already see Ultra Violet artwork, beauty products and fashion items being released in the shade.

    Digital Agencies

    When searching the web, we have already seen digital agencies incorporating Ultraviolet into their designs and branding, with some even including a mystic touch to their theme. As web designers, we’re always on the look out for new trends and get excited at the end of each year to see what Pantone announces.

    Fashion

    Many designers in the fashion industry, for example, use Pantone’s chosen colours to keep up with modern trends. Therefore, we expect to see more purple on the runways and in clothing stores this year. Many online clothing stores have a feature on their website that allows shoppers to select their preferred colour, which in 2018 is most likely going to be purple. Fashion designers must ensure they are supplying the ideal shade, Ultra Violet.

    Home Decor

    Not only can Ultra Violet be incorporated in digital and fashion choices, but many violetta maniacs are keen to bring this colour into their homes and are taking inspiration from leading interior designers; most of which are advising decorators to embrace the dramatic colour and to incorporate a variety of complementing, purple shades.

    An easy way to start bringing this colour into the home would be to purchase a variety of cushions in a number of shades and finishes as well as placing artwork around the building. It’s easy, not too expensive and shows you are keeping up with Pantone.

    Previous Colours of the Year

    Each Pantone colour of the year demonstrates how design and industry trends are changing and showcases how the digital world can keep up with them. In 2018, designers will need to add a mystic touch into their designs and show colour in all its glory. Will they incorporate vibrancy? mystic elements? animations? or add a variation of light and shade?

    Previously, we’ve seen hues of Greenery, Blue Iris, Chilli Pepper, Honeysuckle and Sand Dollar become very popular and well loved so we are excited to see the rise in Ultra Violet and how it can be used to show a world beyond our own.


    Sources: shutterstock.com, pantone.com

    Top Web Design Trends This Year

    August 15th, 2017 by

    Trends in the world of web design are always changing; some get more complicated while others take more of a simplistic approach. So far this year, we have seen many new trends and unique ideas and thought it would only be right to compile a list of our favourite trends to keep you up-to-date.

    Typography

    Typography is simply the words you see on a page, how it appears and which style of text has been chosen. The typeface you choose and how well it works with your colour scheme, grid, design theme and layout will help determine whether it is an excellent or poor design. There are two main styles of typography we have been seeing very often, big and bold, and contrast.

    Big and Bold

    Currently big and bold typography is all the rage amongst web designers as it helps to break up a page nicely. Not only does this attract the reader’s eye, but it also holds their attention.

    Big and bold doesn’t necessarily refer to the weight of the font; it’s more about dedicating space to just a single word or statement and making it the primary focus.

    Big and bold typography as seen on Yoga House

    Contrast

    Something else favoured among web designers is creating contrast within their typography. The most popular way we’ve seen this implemented is by using a range of contrasting typefaces, with Geometric, Serif and Monospaced fonts being common choices. Designers have also been seen to contrast the colour and size of their fonts to enhance the look and feel of their websites.

    Minimalism

    With web designers increasingly on the hunt to find new ways to make typography their principal focus, they have started to adopt a more minimalistic approach by using basic monochrome colours or condensing their content, so fewer words are on each page. Some designers even take this approach to the next level, with pages displaying a single sentence or word placed over an image.

    Card Design

    Card design as seen on Netflix

    Card design is an approach that started with Pinterest; it involves making images the focus of the entire page to give users all the information they need to know. Sites like Netflix and Spotify have now adopted this approach, displaying screen grabs from films or images of album covers; the thumbnails can sometimes do more talking than a short bio could, and, because of this, it is set to be a big trend this year.

    Authentic Photography

    Connect with users through real imagery

    More and more websites are using their own unique images relating to the brand over stock photography and graphics. This makes the site a lot more personal, and some websites even incorporate “Meet The Team” photographs to help put a face behind the name.

    While professional photography isn’t going to blow the bank, with tools like Instagram and the hardware on smartphones becoming ever more sophisticated, it’s becoming easier than ever to take and edit stunning photographs in-house to communicate brand values and demonstrate products and services in action.

    Colour

    Vibrant Colours

    As websites get more minimalistic, web designers need to come up with new ways to keep their appearance attractive without looking too busy. Using brighter colours and patterns that compliment one another across the website adds depth and texture to layouts, while still keeping it straightforward and minimal.

    Duotone

    A duotone image is an image made up of just two colours, websites like Spotify’s have been seen sporting this trend as it keeps their website minimal and adds interest. We hope to see more sites use this approach to determine whether it has been a success or not.

    The duotone trend as seen on spotify.com

    If you’d like any further information on web design trends, feel free to contact Ballyhoo today on 0121 295 5352, email to hello@ballyhoo.co.uk or by filling out the enquiry form on our contact page.

    What’s on Trend in Logo Design in 2017?

    July 28th, 2017 by

    So far this year, we have seen many famous brands like Fanta and Calvin Klein revamping their logos, some of whom have used techniques that are becoming more popular throughout 2017. As a result of this, we thought we’d compile a list of some of our favourite ideas in logo design seen this year, some of which we have used in the past ourselves.

    Before After

    Minimalism

    Minimalism is everywhere right now. With many brands such as Kodak and Mastercard simplifying their existing logos, other companies and brands have decided to take away any unnecessary details and just focus on the essential parts to keep up with the trend. Web designers and graphic designers both love it as it leaves potential customers wanting more.

    Before After

    Capitalisation

    This technique is probably one of the biggest trends so far this year. A lot of companies who have redesigned their logo this year have capitalised the writing, and it’s proved to be effective.

    We mentioned earlier that Fanta had given their logo a revamp and capitalisation is one of the techniques used in the redesign. They’ve swapped the rounded cartoonish font to an upper case squared font, while still keeping the cartoonish element to it by using different sized letters. This approach helps make the logo seem more modern yet still recognisable – and, of course, minimal.

    Colour (or Lack of It)

    With minimalism on the rise, companies are going one of two ways with colours – they are either using bright colours and gradients to make simple logos more exciting or going for a black and white colour scheme to keep their logos simple.

    The black and white trend can be observed in logos like Calvin Klein’s or the iPad logo – both of which have taken an extremely minimal approach.

    On the other hand, some brands are taking a wholly different approach, and are adopting bright colours and using gradients in their designs. With this trend, many designers are using one or two vibrant colours to make an otherwise simple logo more appealing. By using no more than two colours, this keeps to the ever so popular minimal trend, while still making the logo that bit more interesting and eye-catching. Take the Yoga House logo, for example, they’ve used an orange and pink palette and have successfully met the goal of minimal, yet eye-catching.

    Typography

    Typography has been one of the most popular techniques in logo design, with many brands adopting a ‘text logo’ approach – logos that don’t include any graphics at all. There have been many different styles adopted so far this year, including stencil typography and decorative lettering:

    Stencil typography

    Some brands have opted for a text logo using broken letters, where they seem to have been painted using a traditional letter stencil.

    Decorative Lettering

    In an attempt to keep logos simple, while maintaining simplicity yet style, some companies have used more decorative fonts. Take Album Art Exchange, for example, they’ve kept their logo super simple, but their use of swashes on the letter ‘X’ has added extra meaning and interest to their design.

    Line Art & Geometric Shapes

    Geometric shapes have always been favoured among logo designers, and their popularity has risen considerably recently. They’re especially effective at creating stylish and unique designs that can appear to be quite involved but are actually somewhat simple and minimal. Line art is also proving to be quite popular too and helps to bring together drawings with typography through its simplicity – again the art attracts the attention of viewers, and draws their eye to the writing.

    Hand Drawn Logos

    So this trend is a little different to some of the ideas we’ve already talked about – they are a far cry from the geometric styles! Hand drawn logos are more unique, as well as being more personal to a brand, and authentic logos can convey a more honest image, making companies seem more trustworthy. This style was a trend throughout 2016, and it looks like this is going to get even bigger over the next year.

    So, what is the most popular trend this year?

    It’s fair to say that the biggest design trend so far this year – and not just across logo design – is minimalism. So many new logos this year have embraced this trend, and many companies who have redesigned their current logos have opted for a more minimal approach. We expect that this trend is going to get bigger and bigger throughout 2017.


    If you’d like any further information on logo trends, please feel free to contact Ballyhoo today on 0121 295 5352, email to hello@ballyhoo.co.uk or by filling out the contact form on our contact page.

    “Mobile First” & the Importance of Responsive Design

    April 9th, 2015 by

    The latest in my series of blog posts inspired by the Greater Birmingham Digital Summit covers a topic discussed extensively throughout the day – the importance of mobile web design and responsive techniques.

    In recent years a term I’ve been hearing a lot is “mobile first” – the principle of designing websites first and foremost from the perspective of someone using a smartphone. Mobile first websites present the mobile user with everything they need, on often tiny screens, without fuss or gimmick. Designing websites in this way is supposed to ensure that as you scale the design to accommodate larger resolutions, and eventually desktop screens, that the design will remain uncluttered and present every user with a streamlined, focused experience. As the number of people with smartphones is growing rapidly this seems to make perfect sense as many people now solely use their phones for web browsing.

    Why use responsive web design?

    So what precisely is a responsive website? Essentially, this is when a website is intelligent enough to know what size of display and resolution it is being viewed on, meaning it will adapt its layout to best fit the space available. This not only makes the website more visually pleasing, it also means that the person on the website will have a better user experience.

    Whether you use the mobile-first principle or not in designing websites (we have experimented with both methods), there is no doubt that you must thoroughly understand who is using your website and on what devices and then use responsive techniques to build it.

    Several of the speakers at the Greater Birmingham Digital Summit stressed the importance of mobile and reeled off some impressive statistics to drive this home.

    • Google’s Pete Danks told us that nearly 50% of all users time online is on mobile and that 42% of B2B workers use mobile to research business purchases.
    • Barques PR advised us that there are 36.9million mobile internet users in the UK (that’s 58% of the population) and that, of these, 18% have made an online purchase on mobile in the last month.

    At Ballyhoo our approach is to design websites responsively from the get-go. On many projects the reason is clear and we have a wealth of Analytics data to back up why this should be the case. On new projects, where the data proving the need for responsive doesn’t exist yet, it’s a harder sell but ultimately, unless there are budget constraints, our clients accept the fact that their mobile audience is growing and that they need to be catered for.

    In a blog post Anthony published earlier this year (Do I need my website to be mobile optimised?), he goes into more detail about why responsive is so important just now and why it will continue to be for years to come.

    Test, Test, Test

    One final thought I will leave you with on this topic is, if you do go responsive, make sure your site works on as many devices as possible! Your web designer should be entrusted to ensure this happens and they should give this the utmost importance (I’d be wary of anyone who doesn’t) but try visiting your website on as many mobiles, tablets and computers as you can for yourself so you understand how your website looks and reacts for your users. If there’s one near you, visit an open device lab where you can spend time testing your site across a wide range of popular devices, usually for free.

    We established Longbridge Device Lab (the first open device lab in the Midlands) for this very purpose – to allow us to test our responsive creations across as many real-life mobile and tablet devices as possible to ensure that the websites we create display and function correctly for as many people as possible. To find out more about this free service for the local community please visit longbridgedevicelab.co.uk.

    Digital Maturity & Staying Ahead of the Game

    March 26th, 2015 by

    In my second blog inspired by my attendance at the Greater Birmingham Digital Summit I will explore a topic discussed during the day that really resonated with me – that it’s simply not enough to invest in a great website and feel like you’re winning the internet game.

    With so many businesses still coming online for the first time and realising the potential returns for themselves you just can’t be complacent. So-called “digital maturity” is not insurance against the future. Rather, continual investment negates the risk of moving backwards in an ever-advancing climate as the industry and your peers mature around you (and possibly beyond).

    The reasons for getting online and staying ahead of your competitors are many. Too many to list here. But what you have to remember is that trading online allows you to reach a wider market and if you don’t take advantage of this there’s always someone else who will, and they may creep into your local market.

    By trading online I don’t necessarily mean e-commerce. Whatever you measure conversions by – an online purchase, an enquiry submission or even a comment on a blog – you are essentially doing business with (hopefully) thousands of customers at once.

    Digital Is About People, Not Technology

    The most recent Lloyds Business Digital Index, an annual report, states that 29% of businesses say being online is not relevant to them. If this is something you also believe, ask yourself, is it relevant to your customers? More people are buying online than ever before and it is reported that people are now spending up to 4 hours a day on a PC or tablet. Of those people 64% have bought something online in the last month. So you may not be internet-savvy or believe there’s a market for your business online, but your customers may say otherwise.

    Understanding your customers is key to staying on top of things and according to Nick Williams (Consumer Digital Director of Lloyds Banking Group), “digital is all about people, not technology”.

    In a world where potential customers can access the internet 24/7 the key is to understand what your customers want and how to engage with them online. Master this and you’ll stay ahead of the pack. How do you do this? Investment. The industry is moving too fast for you to sit back, you need to talk with customers and experts (like us) to devise an evolving strategy that takes advantage of current trends and attitudes. Act quickly and smartly and invest not only your money but your time too.

    The rapid uptake of smartphones is just one example of how the market is changing and just because your business may be traditional and “offline” it doesn’t mean potential customers aren’t searching for your services online and looking for someone just like you. In a world where “to google” has become a verb, it is essential that your services can be found and that your business is represented professionally on the Internet.

    And if you need any more convincing ask yourself this, when was the last time you picked up the Yellow Pages?

    The Greater Birmingham Digital Summit

    March 12th, 2015 by

    On Thursday 26th February 2015 I attended the inaugural Greater Birmingham Digital Summit at the ICC. Touted as the “biggest, boldest summit about digital technology for SMEs ever hosted in the region” I was keen to hear from industry peers and experts about how and why clients like ours should embrace the web, the cloud and all things digital.

    With speakers from local and national government, education and some of the biggest names in tech (Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn), the day promised to inform and inspire Midlands businesses to embrace digital and flourish economically.

    When I first heard about this event I admit I was slightly skeptical about how relevant and educational it would be, especially considering it was new on the scene and may struggle to attract top industry players. I needn’t have feared though as the calibre of the speakers and quality of the venue and organisation surpassed my most hopeful expectations and I genuinely finished the day feeling emboldened and inspired.

    What is digital technology?

    “Digital” has become a bit of an umbrella term for a number of different sectors. When we use this word it can now mean anything from superfast broadband connection and the cloud to websites and marketing techniques. Although Ballyhoo currently identifies as a web design and development company, we wouldn’t argue that we could also be called a “digital agency” as our business also encompasses complimentary services such as hosting and online marketing.

    Digital on the whole is where the majority of industries are going, whether you’re looking to automate processes in a factory, start selling services online or use cloud accounting software to balance the books.

    A recurring theme throughout the day was that businesses can’t afford to not be online and using the tools available as soon as possible. Connectivity and cloud-based tools for remote, flexible working were mentioned regularly in the day’s sessions but here I will focus mainly on the findings relevant to what we at Ballyhoo do – in a word, websites.

    The Greater Birmingham Digital Audit

    One of the summit’s main attractions was the release of the data collected by the Greater Birmingham Digital Audit – a survey of over 400 SMEs, from Birmingham to as far afield as Lichfield, Solihull and Redditch – which reveals some intriguing insights into the attitudes of businesses across the region.

    59% OF BUSINESSES DO NOT HAVE A DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY

    A huge 92% of those surveyed said that digital capability is important for their business, yet 59% said they do not have a digital marketing plan. When asked why they’re not taking advantage of digital 46% blamed a lack of time, 36% a lack of skills and 33% said the unknown cost of investment was a barrier.

    89% of businesses already have a website of some form, with 33% trading online, but it was drilled into the audience by our host, Richard Beevers, managing director of Customer Plus, that you need to have “more than a website”. By this, it is meant that you need to fully understand the implications of a well-planned marketing strategy and the foundation that an expertly designed website will provide.

    For many in the room this may have been news but for me it was encouraging to hear that what we’ve been saying for years is finally becoming a mainstream idea. For a long time now we’ve moved away from simply creating good-looking, functional websites to trying to create successful online presences that, ultimately, make our clients money. Our philosophy is that the principles of research, strategy and understanding underpin a truly successful online venture where due respect is given to relevant traffic, usability and conversion.

    0% OF BUSINESSES THAT DO NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY PREDICT AN INCREASE IN TURNOVER IN THE NEXT 12 MONTHS WHEREAS 58% OF THOSE WHO ARE COMFORTABLE DO.

    More than a website…

    Your website can be so much more than be shop window. Done well, your website could bring in trade that you never dreamed of winning and bring your product (whether that’s a physical item, a service or your expertise) to new markets that otherwise would never find you.

    From our own experience, many clients know that being online is essential to their business future but aren’t convinced by the potential scale of return. However, it is only with ongoing investment, constant analysis and measured risk that you will truly succeed online.


    Note

    This blog post was inspired by just the first 30 minutes of the summit! I have ended up writing a LOT more about the subjects covered throughout the day which I aim to split into digestible chunks to be published to this blog over the coming weeks. Links will be added below as soon as they are online and ready to read.

    Do I need my website to be mobile optimised?

    January 29th, 2015 by

    In April 2014 Ofcom reported that, in the UK, 62% of adults now use a smartphone to go online (up from 54% in 2012) while 30% (up from 16% in 2012) use a tablet. This phenomenal growth has meant many businesses have had to quickly adapt to the rapid change in the way their users view their website. Traditionally many websites were built specifically for large screens and mouse pointers, this means lots of scrolling and zooming for those with smaller screens and frustration for those with big fingers! If you are looking to build a new website or re-design an existing one, it has now become a crucial decision as to whether it should be built with mobile users in mind.

    Do I need my website to be mobile optimised?

    The simple answer to this question is most likely “yes”, but don’t take my word for it, consider the following points:

    Consider your users

    If you have access to user statistics for your website, perhaps a package like Google Analytics, you should be able to see what portion of your visitors are viewing your website on a mobile device. Google Analytics will even show you what devices your visitors are using but other packages may provide less detail. If you don’t have access to such information it is well worth speaking to your developer to see if such statistics are being collected. If not, this should be configured as soon as possible, we believe it is vital to be able to analyse the success of a website and this is the very first stage of that.

    Depending on your industry (some are obviously much more advanced than others in terms of technology) you will likely see a significant proportion of your users are indeed viewing your website on a smartphone or tablet. This tends to be the result across all industries with some now showing the majority of visitors using mobile devices. If you dig further into the data you will most likely see a trend where the proportion of mobile users is rapidly increasing, again this tends to be the result across most industries.

    So, ensuring your website is optimised for a significant minority or possibly the majority of your users makes perfect sense.

    Cost

    Naturally, designing and building a website to support the huge plethora of devices available today takes considerably more effort than simply supporting the handful of desktop browsers in circulation. Therefore you are going to have to pay more for a mobile optimised site. As with any business decision you simply need to evaluate if this is worth the investment. Mobile support sometimes gets the axe when budget restraints come into play, however this may be a mistake if your business relies on a strong online presence.

    Responsive is great!

    For some time now our industry has been using a technique called “responsive web design” to build websites that scale and adapt to the size of the screen the visitor is using. There are some key advantages to this technique that were difficult to achieve before this technique came to fruition:

    • You only have one website to manage and promote. Previously many companies opted for two separate websites, one made for mobile users and one for desktop users. This meant having to maintain content on multiple websites and the mobile versions of a site were often limited in terms of functionality which frustrated users. It also meant that search engines saw two distinct websites and treated them as such, meaning it would take considerably more effort to ensure both were highly visible in search results. This no longer needs to be the case.
    • We don’t have to worry about the constantly evolving smartphone and tablet markets. A good responsive website isn’t designed to work well on specific devices, it’s designed to work well on any device, even those yet to be designed and released. It’s future-proof!

    Improved metrics

    Even if providing a better experience for your users isn’t enough to tempt you, it’s worth remembering that Google monitors how long users spend on your website and uses that (among many other factors) to determine how good your website is. If your users on mobile devices hit your site and instantly see that it will be a hassle to find what they are looking for or read your content they may instantly leave the site and look for an alternative just a tap away. Not only have you lost a potential customer but the all-knowing Google will potentially slide you down their rankings if this happens regularly enough.

    Google cares

    Not only are Google measuring how long users spend on your website, they have also begun to evaluate how well a website works on mobile devices. They have even recently started going to the extreme of sending notifications to administrators informing them when their website is not well optimised for mobile usage.

    Google are using this information to determine how a website should rank in their search results, particularly favouring well optimised websites when a user is searching on a mobile device. So, a well built responsive site is likely to naturally rank better in Google than one that isn’t. Google are even highlighting websites that are optimised for mobile devices in search rankings so you may see more users opting to visit your website once it is mobile optimised.

    How can we help?

    If you are in need of a new responsive website or a revamp for your existing website feel free to get in touch and have a no-obligation chat with one of the Ballyhoo team. We’ll be happy to help answer your questions and can be contacted by telephone on 0121 295 5352, email to hello@ballyhoo.co.uk or via the form on our contact page.