Data Visualisation Trends in 2019

Data Visualisation is a powerful tool for analysing your business data, harnessing the brain’s ability to recognize patterns and shapes. The latest powerful tools enable diagrams, charts and graphics to be created on the web with a speed and interactivity that was unthinkable even five or six years ago. Add to this the ability to draw in the browser in three dimensions and even with virtual reality, then the possibilities are very exciting.

In this article we feature some of the latest examples of Data Visualisation and give you an insight into the tools used to produce them.

Uber Engineering Team

Technology: React, MapboxGL

Uber handles billions of data points every day, and has grown it’s own in-house data visualisation team to make the best use of that data resource. Combining this nab-based data gives city managers and ops teams a real-time visual overview of supply and demand distribution. 
Read more >

UK Road Accidents

Technology: Mapbox, deck.gl

Not the most cheery of subjects, but this demo by Ryan Baumann of Mapbox is a great example of combining mapping with a large dataset to give real, useful, location-based visuals. Using hexagonal mapping and coupled with an interactive UI enables the density of accidents to be mapped very smoothly and informatively.
Read more >

Launch It

Technology: WebGL, PixiJS

It’s worth waiting for the loading messages to clear, as this fantastic interactive spinning world is one of best designed and implemented of it’s type. Produced by designer Shane Mielke was made to support the Launch It book release, giving feedback on where the book can be bought.
Read more >

New Year, New Website?

As the New Year festivities fade and we all head back to work, inevitably thoughts can turn to plans for 2019 and how to progress your business. One of the main factors in a sales and marketing strategy has to be to optimise your company’s online presence. We might well be a bit biased – but there are a number of ways we can help you and we’ve outlined some options below.

New website

Most companies and organisations will have a website in place, so mainly we’re looking at a website redesign. Unless branding and logo have changed, typically a second, third- or fourth-generation website just needs to be refreshed, with perhaps a look again at the focus of the content. Responsive design is often a key, to ensure focus is given to mobile and tablet view. Depending on the industry sector, over half of traffic to a website will be on mobile. This also guides us into making sure the content is as clear as possible, with key action points as a focus.

Website Audits & Consultancy

From our basic website audit to a more in-depth consultancy role, we try to use our experience to help you ensure your website or mobile app is delivering the results you need. Focus is given to planning improvements and then measuring the performance over coming months and years.

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing, which includes a wide variety of areas such as SEO, Social Media and PPC campaigns, is the method of marketing your website or app online. With such choice of channels to use, it’s key nowadays to ensure the most effective route is used, and most importantly, to measure the success of the campaign. With analytics and insights metrics available to measure the finest detail of traffic source and flow, it’s possible to accurately show any return on the investment.

2019 and beyond

If you feel that any of the options we outline above may be of use please contact us, we’re always happy to chat through any enquiry. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading some of our #blogmas articles this year, and wish everyone good fortune in 2019.

What we can learn from 2018 Christmas eCommerce reports

When ASOS issued a profit warning just prior to Christmas due to poor online sales in November, many feared that this year was going to be a tough period for eCommerce retailers. With Black Friday falling in that November period, did this mean that other retailers would reflect the performance of one of the UK’s leading eCommerce lights? Was the Brexit effect having a tangible effect on sales and profits?

A good indicator of general retail performance is always how early stores, in the high street and online, switch into the sales period. Long gone are the days of sales starting on Boxing Day. Even in stronger economic times of a few years ago, many online retailers (Amazon in particular), would launch massive promotional campaigns on Christmas Day itself. No sooner had presents been opened than we were busily seeking bargain replacements!

But with some of the big guns such as Next and John Lewis holding off launching sales some confidence grew that the general economic concerns weren’t hitting online sales as much as predicted.

Reports from Next and John Lewis however, have both showed good online sales over the period. Next overall sales were up 1.5% on 2017, but online sales were up a whopping 15.2%, taking many ecommerce analysts by surprise. John Lewis’ figures were up 4.5% in the week to 29th December, but as no separate online figures were released, it’s less easy to assess.

So what can we learn? That online sales, done well, are forging ahead despite uncertainties in the economy and high street concerns.

Free Local SEO Assessment

For our third offer of 2018 #blogmas, we’re offering the chance to have a Free Local SEO Assessment. This report looks at how your website ranks for a given set of keywords, in your area. Local search results can be a useful tool to gain traffic and enquiries.

All we ask it that you use our contact page to get in touch before the end of January and within 2/3 working days we’ll send you a report to let you know what could be improved and those aspects that are being done well. 

Local search results are a great way to market your business through Google or other search engines. Many businesses are suited to local marketing, and with a Local SEO Assessment we guide you through the latest techniques.

3 Exciting Developments on the Web for 2019

Happy New Year! We hope you’ve enjoyed a few of our #blogmas articles this season, and for the New Year we take the opportunity to look forward to a few of the developments on the web that we are most excited about. These may not make a huge impact even this year, but just following any progress is going to give a fascinating insight.

AI & Web Development

 Although Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken a hold and is used more commonly than thought (think timelines in Facebook, targeted ads), the progress of this technology is going to be fascinating to watch. AI is going to change all our lives, and if harnessed in the right way can be a hugely powerful tool. 

The massive amount of data being stored lends itself to being analysed by AI tools in a way any human can’t possibly imagine. Pure data visualisation is a fantastic tool, but imagine the possibilities if the AI tool could suggest what might happen looking forward, and recognise trends before they happen.

PWA – Progressive Web Apps

This is already a favourite subject of ours, but the blurring of the lines between native mobile apps and web applications is going to be a growing influence in 2019. As more and more APIs are made available to the web browser, being able to access native device features such as camera, file storage and geolocation enables a web app to give a level of performance not before seen.

Having one codebase to build and maintain can be a game-changer for companies looking to develop an app, and that cost saving can make potential projects much more feasible.

Starbucks PWA

Content as King

This is a continuation of a trend that has picked up in the last couple of years, which is to move away from design-heavy website and to put the focus back on the actual content. 

As the web matures there is now a real movement to focus on the content – text, imagery, video – that visitors are looking for, and to reduce excessive clutter on the page which only acts as a distraction.

Focus still needs to be given to any branding and ‘feel’ that a client is looking for, but within a clean, easy-to-navigate framework.

Website consultation and report worth £250 for £99

In our second offer of this years #blogmas series, we’re offering the chance to have an Enhanced Website Audit for £99 + VAT. This includes all the aspects of the basic Website Audit, but also looks further into usability, browser testing and competitor analysis.

All we ask it that you use our contact page to email and let us know the website address before the end of January and within 2/3 working days we’ll send you an audit report to let you know what could be improved and those aspects that are being done well. With an enhanced audit we talk a little through what you are looking to achieve with your website before making the report. It’s not always as straightforward as you would think!

Photo by Fabian Grohs on Unsplash

The Rise of the Website ChatBot

Along with the unmissable Cookie Notice & Privacy pop up, the rise of the ChatBot has been hard to miss on the web in 2018. In our first blog for #blogmas 2018, we put the ChatBot in our top five trends for the past year, and there’s every reason to see this continue through 2019 and beyond.

At first the offer to chat on a website, as a support feature, can seem a little intrusive. A further reminder maybe, that our every move and click online is being tracked. But once you get over that concern, and occasionally even use these services, it hopefully becomes more clear as to how they could be useful when used in the correct way.

Some online chat support is still operated by a live person, and more technical enquiries are often handled this way. But increasingly these services are being replaced by an automated support ‘bot’, that has been programmed to give defined answers to a range of commonly-asked questions. These bots, or ChatBots, are fed questions and answers, and using Artificial Intelligence algorithms, are ‘trained’ to respond to a wide variety of input. 

Currently it’s relatively easy to spot the difference between a ChatBot and a real support person, but as time goes by the difference is going to be hard to spot. As we move through 2019, many companies are looking to use the AI tool as a way of increasing engagement on their website. Remember that all dialog is stored, analysed and in turn educates the ChatBot through machine learning. This circle of learning means that what currently seems quite a crude tool, will over the next few years become increasingly sophisticated.

With the release of AI tools such as Google’s DialogFlow, creating a ChatBot is becoming relatively straightforward. Maybe the question is not should we use these tools, but when do we start?

Our Favourite Augmented Reality Apps of 2018

As mobile and tablet technology increases the number of Augmented Reality (AR) apps available is increasing quickly. Augmented Reality apps overlay generated content on a view of your surroundings, and the uses of this are being explored in creative ways, as outlined by our pick of three AR apps below.

BBC Civilisations

Built in support of the BBC’s Civilisations series, this is the corporations first venture into AR and as expected is delivered with superb content and usability. Featuring over 30 artefacts from museums across the UK, the app allows users to view and learn about these selected objects.

BBC Civilisations

Ikea Place

Ikea’s Place app allows users to view IKEA furniture overlaid on rooms in their home, with a view to helping decide which range and model suits best.

Although not perfect and with a few buggy areas, the app is useful enough to give a real sense of how your prospective purchase will look. IKEA is leading the way with what could be a big part of the future for furniture retailers.

American Airlines

OK, we’ll admit it, we haven’t used this in anger, but the American Airlines AR app looks so good we decided to include it here.

Guiding (or ‘wayfinding’) users around airports with overlaid directions to security, gates and airport areas, this app looks to be a great use of real-world AR. The only thing we need to do now is to book a trip to the US to  find out!

Free website audit worth £99

For our first offer of this years #blogmas series, we’re offering the chance to have your website audited for free.

All we ask it that you use our contact page to email and let us know the website address before the 1st of January (not long we know so be quick) and within 2/3 working days we’ll send you an audit report to let you know what could be improved and those aspects that are being done well.

As we normally charge £99 + VAT for this it’s worth getting in touch. Our basic Website Audit includes checks such as site speed, responsive design, content and user experience.

Should you ever wish us to provide a more detailed analysis we also offer our Enhanced Web Audit service for £399 + VAT. This includes all the aspects of the basic Website Audit, but also looks further into usability, browser testing and competitor analysis.

The Best WordPress eCommerce Plugins for 2019

WordPress continues it’s growth as the most popular website CMS and blogging platform, and here we look at the most popular ecommerce plugins should you look to sell online in 2019.

WooCommerce

By far the leading ecommerce plugin for WordPress, with over 29% of market share according to Datanyze most recent report, WooCommerce is still the leading solution for selling online with the framework. It’s a go-to platform for 4D Digital, and we have extensive experience in developing and extending it’s capabilities.

With a large selection of extensions, WooCommerce can cover most website needs and it’s huge contributor base means that any security updates are monitored and released with good regularity.

Easy Digital Downloads

As it’s name implies, Easy Digital Downloads offers a solution for those who are looking to sell download files such as music, articles or eBooks. With an easy set up, website owners can relatively quickly have their very own digital sales platform running.

With the basic plugin free, the premium very of Easy Digital Downloads offers extended functionality regarding email marketing and payment gateway integration.

BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a standalone ecommerce software solution that has gained popularity in recent years. Many would argue that it’s checkout experience is superior to WooCommerce. Now that the WordPress plugin for BigCommerce has moved out of beta, this is going to be a serious option for WordPress retailers in 2019.