Case Study – Stronghold Healthcare

Stronghold Global are an established and growing supplier to trade of workwear and business goods throughout the UK. Stronghold required a new website to be quickly deployed in order to react to market changes – specifically to provide PPE supplies due to the second wave in the UK of the COVID pandemic. A short deadline of four weeks was needed in order to be able to offer both quoted goods for trade volumes and paid orders for new customers. 

4D Digital recommended existing branding for the Stronghold Global to be used as the company is well known within it’s target market, but subtle amends were used to enable the Stronghold Healthcare website to have it’s own identity.   

Stronghold Healthcare within the Stronghold Global brand

The WordPress framework was used in conjunction with WooCommerce as an ecommerce module to enable fast development prior to product and content entry. Management of the website content, orders and products by the internal team was to be a key requirement post-launch.


4D Digital worked swiftly with the team at Stronghold to specify the website requirements and deliver the website ready for launch earlier than anticipated. Orders and quote requests were active within a day of launch.  Particular importance has been placed on continual development of the website, with marketing channels set up with the internal CRM for access by the UK sales team. 

Ongoing support is in place with internal CMS training and website maintenance. 4D Digital continues to work with Stronghold on SEO and paid ad campaigns to progress the website.


Progressive Web Apps – How they can help your business

Most businesses realise that mobile technology needs to be at the forefront of any digital strategy. We all know how powerful and addictive mobile apps and websites can be. However, businesses can harness this (in a good way) by using a technology that creates a new type of mobile app or website – the Progressive Web App.

Add to Home Screen

A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a website or application that interacts with the user just as a native app would do. Unlike a native app, a PWA is not installed via an app store such as Apple’s App Store or Android’s Google Play. The application is simply a website visited by the user, who is prompted to install a shortcut onto the mobile home screen.

This seemingly small difference offers a huge benefit to anyone developing and maintaining the app. No app store means no commission fees, no time-consuming approval process every time the app is updated. In addition to bypassing the app stores, being based on web technologies enables the application to written in only one codebase – not the multiple versions that are needed to maintain iOS, Android and Windows apps. Reduced development and maintenance costs, quicker release to market – it’s easy to see why many some of even the world’s largest brands are pursuing the PWA route to market.

PWA Functionality

Only in the last two or three years have PWA’s been given access to the hardware device functions a native app could use. Camera, Microphone, Push Notifications, Geolocation, File system – all of these and more can now be accessed by mobile web technology and therefore a PWA. Transferring data on secure https connections, the ability to work offline – these are now default functionality for a PWA and make for exciting possibilities.

Starbucks leads the way

Let’s have look at three of the best PWA examples currently in use. All are from big brands who are slowly moving away from building native iOS and Android apps.

Starbucks

Like them or loath them – Starbucks have led the way with PWA apps. Featuring geo-location for nearest stores and good offline capabilities.

 

Twitter Lite

The Twitter PWA or Twitter Lite as it’s referred to, can be installed via https://mobile.twitter.com

The performance is so good that it’s easy to forget this is not a native app.

Debenhams

The might not be considered bang up-to-date in the fashion stakes, but the team at Debenhams are ‘en mode’ with this one.

https://www.debenhams.com/webapp

The future’s bright – the future’s PWA?

There may always be a place for native apps. But we would suggest that anyone looking to build a new app should seriously consider the PWA route. Reducing development cost and time as well as removing the need for app store approval, can make a serious difference to any new project.

Update – November 2020

Since we put this blog together in August 2018, the PWA has grown even further in popularity. Major brand names such as Uber and Lyft have both explored the PWA route.

Website launch – Industrial Mergers & Acquisitions

4D Digital are delighted to launch the new website for Wiltshire-based company Industrial Mergers & Acquisitions (IMA). IMA are a team of consultants working with acquisitions and mergers in the energy and industrial sector.

4D Digital have worked with IMA within a short timescale to provide branding, website, email, social media setup and printed materials, supporting the company launch in May 2020.

LinkedIn banner

Improved website build times

Using the latest WordPress framework enabled a fast development time, thus keeping down project costs. The framework has superb content management and straightforward integration with external providers such as MailChimp and Google Analytics.

WordPress page editing

Ongoing support

We look forward to working with IMA, offering ongoing support and experience in helping their business grow. Our services include Web design in Wiltshire, SEO and Digital Marketing.

WordPress eCommerce Plugins to get your business selling online

WordPress continues it’s growth as the most popular website CMS and blogging platform, and here we look at the most popular and effective ecommerce plugins available.

Updated May 2020

With the ongoing government restrictions due to COVID-19, the ability for businesses to sell online is clearly gaining in importance. With over 14 years experience in helping clients move into ecommerce, we would like to help businesses should they wish to make the step to sell online. We are offering free phone call consultations, simply call our office on 01249 561010 to arrange a callback or video meeting.

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.

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 >

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.

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.

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