Thursday, 28 March 2013

Web design tips for small businesses


Thanks to Jackie Barrie for this guest post, extracted from her new book: ‘The Little Fish Guide to Writing Your own Website.’


Follow the F-pattern

Eye-tracking studies show that website visitors tend to glance along the top two lines of text, then scan down the left hand edge taking in only the first two words of each line, and perhaps look across the page once more. They spend very little time looking at the bottom right hand corner of the web page. The pattern of their views looks like the shape of an F.

Designing your website - heatmap


These heatmaps show eyetracking results for three websites. The areas where users looked the most are coloured red; the yellow areas indicate fewer views, while the least-viewed areas are blue. Grey areas didn’t attract any fixations.
Source: nngroup.com

When you know about this F-pattern, you can arrange your content to suit it. For example, write a powerful headline at the top of the page that answers ‘what’s in it for me’. Add a sub-heading mid-way down the page, especially if the first couple of words are significant ones. And avoid putting anything important in the bottom right hand corner.

Splash pages

Have you noticed those websites that start with an animation and – if you’re lucky - a ‘skip intro’ link? Have you ever watched the intro without skipping it? No. Me neither. This is called a ‘splash page’ but any extra click e.g. ‘enter site’ is a chance to lose site visitors. Please don’t do it. The only people who benefit from splash pages are the web designers who get paid to create them.

Navigation

Aim for a site that is no more than 3 clicks deep, so that the user doesn't have to work hard, and is never more than 3 clicks away from the content they seek. Site navigation is not the same as print pagination. As pages can be read in any order, site visitors need to be able to get to anywhere, from anywhere. To do this, you can include a sitemap (this is good Google practice too) and/or breadcrumb trail, especially for complex sites with lots of pages.

Inspired by the story of Hansel and Gretel being lost in the woods, a breadcrumb trail is a set of links that show where you are within the site e.g. Home > Services > Copywriting.


Breadcrumb trail from Art Division, showing Home > Web Services > Online Marketing

On his site WebPagesThatSuck.com, Vincent Flanders has collected some wonderful examples of what he calls ‘Mystery Meat Navigation’. That is, navigation that baffles the consumer.

The point is, you have to make it easy for your site visitors to find what they want. So don’t let your web designer try to be too clever with the navigation they use.

Jackie Barrie writes without waffle for websites, blogs, newsletters, brochures, leaflets and speeches, in fact, anything to help your company make more money. She is the author of ‘The Little Fish Guide to DIY Marketing’, and ‘The Little Fish Guide to Networking’ and ‘The Little Fish Guide to Writing Your own Website’Find out more at www.comms-plus.co.uk

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Spring clean your social media accounts


Spring Clean your Social Media Accounts
Well, we've finally caught up with ourselves here at Mission Imblogable. We polished off the leftover Christmas chocolates weeks ago and we've heartily failed our new year's resolutions to go to the gym every day and eat more healthily. (Those chocolates didn't help, admittedly.)

So we're ready to resume normal life in the office, but we thought we'd make things a little easier on ourselves by cleaning out our social media accounts: time to cut back the clutter to make time for our highly important work. (HIGHLY important work.) Here's how you can do the same:

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a place for making professional connections and networking with those in your industry. But we're betting you don't even know half the people on your list. Just who is that SEO consultant in Stockport? Have you ever even spoke to him? Delete! And delete anyone else you've never spoken to and really couldn't put your finger on why you connected in the first place. Oh, and stop endorsing people for things. It doesn't mean anything anyway, it's just another fun way to waste your time.

Facebook
Your personal Facebook account is a place for friends, not acquaintances and definitely not your boss. Your company account needs regular posts - but have you actually looked at which ones are getting the most engagement? Measure, check and compare. More metrics, less looking at Grumpy Cat. If pasting endless links isn't working anymore, then maybe it's time to rethink your strategy.

Twitter
We like to think of Twitter as a legitimate news source in the Mission Imblogable office. That's our story and we're sticking to it. Even so, the number of times we've strayed and found ourselves reading about Bieber's latest angry antics is simply embarrassing. So cut out the gossip accounts and stop following those who seem to take up an inordinate amount of your feed without ever actually saying anything. Set up alerts, use a third party app and follow hash tags that actually relate to your business.

Pinterest
There are now third party apps for Pinterest too. So you can schedule these posts now. How many boards have you got now? Streamline. Keep it relevant, and see what is actually working. Pinterest have just launched analytics for social marketers, so use them. Don't just look at pictures of cakes, shoes and cats, measure your work.

Google+
Google+ is the one place we're actually going to advocate spending MORE time. Either that, or delete your account completely. Because otherwise what's the point in having it? Obviously you should still spend your time on G+ wisely, but it really is a great place to have interesting conversations. So dust your account off, update your profile, and get busy with the fabulous networking action.

Meaningful work is happening all over the place in the Mission Imblogable office now that we've pruned our social media accounts. Because that's how we roll. And you should too.

If you need help with all that social media marketing, then get in touch with the team at Art Division. They can help you get on top of these never ending platforms.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Estate Agency Charity Pledge

Paramount Properties - estate agents in West Hampstead
The economic downturn has had a massive impact on many lives, with the cost of living rising dramatically at the same time as many have seen wage freezes, redundancies and benefit cuts. One unwanted outcome of such a harsh financial climate can be homelessness.

It's heartening to hear at such times that businesses are donating to charity. The Estate Agency Foundation (EAF) is dedicated to homelessness charities and is aiming to raise a whopping £250,000 this year. They will split the money raised between charities such as Thames Reach, Centre Point, Trinity Winchester, DHYP and Hope 4.

Paramount Properties, estate agents in West Hampstead, are ambassadors to the EAF and they've started the year with a brilliant pledge: to donate 25% of all letting income for March to the charity. This follows on from 2012 when they asked 'Who would pay to see estate agents jump out of a plane?' Plenty of people did, as the team raise over £700 from a charity parachute jump.

We're hoping that with their March pledge, Paramount Properties can help get the EAF going on the right track to raise money for this worthy cause.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Native apps vs. web apps: the difference explained


Tech advances pretty quickly these days. It's hard to keep up, we know. New mobile devices come flying at us before we've even had chance to figure out the most stylish and functional case to keep our last one in. One thing that bemuses a number of people is the difference between native apps and web apps. Allow us to break it down for you.
Native and web apps

What's a Native App?
Remember Snake? That's a native app. It was pretty cool, right? But if you didn't have a Nokia, it was a no-go. Native apps are coded for specific devices. They're designed to run on a singular operating system and device.

“But I've got Angry Birds on my iPhone, and my buddy's got it on her Kindle Fire!” we hear you cry. It's okay. We believe you. But the developers of Angry Birds have had to code it differently for each device. Think of it as translating Lolita from English to Russian, but less controversial.

Native apps are downloaded and installed directly onto a device (or it comes installed on your jazzy new smartphone). This is what allows push notifications and makes the app quicker to launch and run. And, because it's installed on your device, you don't need an internet connection to use it. (Unless you want to play online or update it.)

What's a Web App?
A web app is an app that's accessed via your device's browser. They're coded in browser-based languages, such as HTML and Javascript, which means they can run on any device with an up-to-date browser installed. No need to create different versions for each type of device.

Of course, because they're web-based, this means you can only use them while you're connected to the interwebz – but that's not really a problem for people with their 3G-happy smartphones.

Which is Better?
Native apps take longer to develop and it costs more to do so, but they generally offer the user a superior, smoother experience. Native apps have faster loading times and the ability to use the hardware on your device, such as the camera, GPS and accelerometer (which is a real thing, promise). Naturally, they're easy to find too – just head to your favourite app store.

On the other hand, web apps are great for developers because they don't need to be altered for different devices. They're also responsive and can work across different screen sizes, unlike native apps that need to be tweaked for each different model.

Web and Native Tablet apps
We're guessing native app developers weren't too happy at the announcement of the iPad Mini. We can just hear them now: “Oh man! Another budget increase!” Wait, scrap that. The developers were probably very happy. The people hiring them were probably not.

Web apps win on the updates front, given that, er – they don't need updating. You just go to the website and, of course, the latest version is sat there waiting for you. Same as any website you visit on your laptop. But then, web apps can't access any hardware (except GPS, and even then in a limited capacity). So it's a bit of a toss-up.

Tech advances could mean web apps take the lead in the future, though. Hark back to when you used to use desktop applications on your computer. Now you mostly do stuff within the browser, right? Want to play a game of Hearts? Do it online with a bunch of real people instead of battling it out against the computer (who ALWAYS WINS because he understands the rules). Ahem. Anyway – same exact thing.

Thanks to our friends at Nimble Mobile for this guest blog. If you need app developers in London, they're your go-to guys.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Brilliantly creative job applications: part II

Getting a job today is hard. Everyone seems to be looking for one, and nobody seems to be hiring! If you find yourself in the same boat, it's time to ask yourself: do I need to get more creative with my CV?

Our post on the subject: 'Brilliantly Creative Job Applications' way back in August 2011 has been one of the most popular on the blog ever, so we thought it must be time to find out how creative types have been getting hired since then.

Going for an original online campaign will stand you a much better chance of getting hired. Or at least of going viral, which is fun too (though not nearly so well-paying).

1. Florian is All In
Florian Holstein went all out, or rather – all in with his attempt to woo sports behemoth Adidas. He so desperately wanted to work for Adidas that he created an entire website purely for the purpose of slapping an Adidas-shaped CV on it. It showcased his passion for sports, the company, and his work – and highlighted exactly how his work could help the company. He also included a list of 8 compelling reasons Adidas should hire him. And, well – it worked. Florian was hired by Adidas in April 2012.



2. The Creative Ransom
Web space is a prime commodity in today's digital world, but personalised URLs are even more valuable. If you haven't already snatched up your own domain name, we recommend you do so immediately, lest some internet thieves whisk it out from under you. Which is precisely what Andrew Grinter and Lee Spencer-Michaelse did to some of Australia's biggest ad agency directors. The menacing pair claimed the URLs of the top ad execs and posted ransom notes on each of them, warning the directors to give them a interview, or “the site gets it.” And unsurprisingly, yeah, they did notch up a fair few interviews.



3. Hire Us Or We'll Marry Each Other
A slightly gentler approach, creative duo American Alex and German Charli – a copywriter and a designer – sent out a different sort of threat. The threat to get married if nobody hired them – because Charli's visa was due to expire, and the team wanted to stay together so they could continue doing their best creative work together. The girls got their happy ending and were hired as freelancers.



4. Creative a Badass Unofficial Ad
If you're passionate enough about a product to create an entire advert off your own back, chances are you're passionate enough about the product to work for the company that created it. Brandon Foy did exactly that with his beloved Windows Phone 7, and when Microsoft spotted it they liked it so much they asked him to make another one – with the promise that if it reached 200,000 hits on the 'Tube they'd air it on TV. The ad didn't make the cut, but Brandon did – Microsoft decided to hire him.



The message here is pretty clear: get personal, get noticed, get hired. And show 'em what you can do! If you've got that great job already and you'd like help with an online campaign to get your business noticed, then contact the team at Art Division.


Monday, 11 March 2013

Design: artist colour palettes

Following on from last week's post about the use of colour in web design and branding, we just couldn't resist this beautiful infographic that shows 10 famous artists and the colour palettes they used. Once you've chosen the main colours you're going to use, the shading and hues are endless as these charts show. They also show the breadth and beauty of the colour palette - and make you want to go and check out the paintings. We could stare at this one all day!


10 Artists, 10 Years: Color Palettes

Friday, 8 March 2013

Google+ big profile pictures

 
The good folks at Google + have made some changes to how your profile will appear on your Google + page. You can now add local reviews, bigging up your favourite restaurants or local shops.
You can also edit the info in your 'About' tab separately.

But the BIGGEST change of all is the photo size you can now use a cover photo.
'Cover photos are much larger than before (up to 2120px by 1192px), and they display in 16x9 when fully expanded.' said Google's Sarah Mckinley, in her post about the changes.

Reactions so far have been positive, with users loving the big photos especially. What it highlights to us here in the world of small business marketing is the continuing importance of Google + for online strategy, and the need to set up and maintain a presence within the right circles and hangouts.

Sources: Mashable/Betanews

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