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.

SEO Trends for 2019

SEO has already been adjusted in 2018 with the new ‘medic’ core update. But now as we move into 2019 we can expect to see some new influential changes to the algorithm.

Why will there be changes in 2019?

As humans we continue to grow with technology and any changes in modern movements. The search engines will have to maintain that standard, and there are two ways this could be affected – advancements in technology like artificial intelligence, and voice recognition and commands through website search.

What will be the next focus for SEO?

Although the core of SEO will stay the same, here are a few things to consider.

Voice Commands

In 2018 voice commands systems such as Siri and Alexa have been on the rise. Google may consider putting this as a ranking factor for websites.

Security

You may want to take a look at your website and see how secure it is overall. We already know that HTTP’s is a ranking factor, but we may have to increase this in the future with threats of cyber hacking and spamming.

Mobile Indexing

80% of the UK population now owns a mobile phone that they use for internet purposes. Any websites that are not mobile friendly or don’t use responsive designs will be in the lower ranks.

Featured Snippets

When you’re searching for a keyword or phrase online might have noticed a snippet of information pop up. This will be used for educational purposes so that users can see and find the answers more efficiently.

Star Ranked Data

Data online that contains a star ranking (1 to 5) will be valued more than normal links. Google will look at users website feedback and may prioritise 5 star links.

Will SEO trends change drastically?

The short answer is no. However, many new SEO trends are likely to pop up, so heres what we need to stay focused on.

The SEO Do’s:

• Continue building high PR links through mentions in top ranking and relevant websites

• Focus on keywords that matter and don’t neglect long tail phrases

• Expand your visual content and remember to use alt text and tags

• Helpful content is a must. Remember it’s quality over quantity

• Make a responsive web design that is perfect on all devices

The SEO Don’ts:

• Keyword stuffing

• Spamming links into text and blogs

• Copying your own or others online content

• Upload large images to the website

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.

Top 5 Website Trends in 2018

In the first of our 12 Blogs of Christmas we have a look back at 2018 and pick out our top five website trends from 2018. These are website and app design and functionality that we’ve seen grow through the year, and may just give a pointer as to where we need to look in 2019. So if these are the top trends – are they the best way to enhance your website and make the most of your online presence? Not necessarily, and we give our verdict on each.

1. ChatBots

We’re sure you must have experienced the popup welcome when visiting a new website – ‘Can we help?’. Usually on the bottom right of the screen, these advice-offering widgets often feature thumbnail photos of the support person and their name. Nine times out of ten these are automated ChatBots, trained by Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning to automatically respond with guidance to common visitor requests. The suspicion is that these bots can be helpful, but tend to become an annoyance when continuing to appear on further browsing of the website. So are these ChatBots an annoying passing fad, or can they offer real value to your website visitors? Well, we think they are here to stay and will play a growing part in our web experiences over the next decade. A bit annoying currently, but when it becomes difficult to tell the difference between the bot and a real person then the value of a ChatBot really kicks in. Companies who’ve invested the time in ‘training’ these automated helpers will be a step ahead of their competition.

Verdict: Needs to be used with care currently, but a good investment for the future.

2. Original Illustrations

Website frameworks offer a fantastic way of helping clients get projects up and running quickly, and keeping maintenance costs low. One of the drawbacks though is that website styles, layouts and typography can become very similar unless time is invested in making the project stand out from the crowd. This is where original illustrations have taken a role in adding a wonderful bespoke element to the best of the web.

Verdict: We think illustration can make a real difference, and is well worth the additional initial cost.

MailChimp’s 2018 redesign

3. Data Visualisation

Having worked this year on a large Data Visualisation Portal, we’re perhaps a little biased in thinking that Data Visualisation has been a growing trend for 2018. However, the growth of infographics, mapping and data charting can only help users get the information they are looking for and is a great example of new techniques pushing the boundaries of user interaction. Coding tools including ChartJS, more advanced software such as Tableau, and mapping frameworks similar to MapBox make this a fascinating area to work in.

Verdict: We may be biased, but new techniques make this an exciting field to be involved with.

Mapbox GL 

4. Microinteractions

Microinteractions are those subtle, almost imperceptible, effects that occur when buttons change when you hover over them, or images fade in when scrolling down a page. Although often seen as a ‘nice touch’ that gives a website an added design element, these microinteractions can really help guide and prompt the user through a website path. More advanced interactions can show detailed animation and even morphing of images and text. Developments with the use of SVG images and typography in modern browsers have enabled web developers to let their imagination run free.

Verdict: Becoming a key design element and if used carefully can help guide the user and create a unique style for a website.

5. Progressive Web Apps

Progressive Web Apps or PWAs, are websites which have increased functionality that enables them to give a more app-like experience to the user. On mobile they can give the similar performance of a native iOS or Android app, but run from a website or web app. The huge benefit to client and developer is that the PWA uses only one codebase or set of files, keeping development and maintenance costs much lower than would be needed to maintain  separate native and web applications.

Other features which are typical of a PWA are the ability to work offline with locally stored data until a data connection is available, access to device hardware such as camera and geolocation. Our blog post from earlier this year outlined in more detail the rise of the website PWA.

Verdict: The future of the the web and mobile app.

Starbucks PWA

Top 5 Summary

These are the top five web trends that we’ve picked out from 2018, and maybe give some insight into what to look for in 2019. If we were running a top ten then just missing out on the charts were: Content Marketing, Responsive Design (yes, still), Reactive Design and Push Notifications. There’s another blog post in the making!

The Twelve Blogs of Christmas

4D - 12 Blogs of Christmas

4D - 12 Blogs of Christmas
4D Digital – 12 Blogs of Christmas

This year we are joining the #blogmas campaign and will be running our own 12 Blogs of Christmas over the festive period. Featuring articles that look back on web developments in 2018, looking ahead to 2019, guest posts from friends of 4D, and a few offers thrown in for good measure!

We’ll be running our blog over social media using the hashtag #4D12days – keep a look out and let us know what you think. Any feedback on the articles is welcome!

Every day from Christmas Day we’ll release one blog, articles will cover web design, mobile apps, social media marketing, SEO and all things web! From in-depth assessments of the state of web development to a more light-hearted look back and ahead we hope you’ll enjoy the blogs.

 

4d-christmas-embelishments

Website launch – Baileys of Salisbury

Baileys of Salisbury
Baileys of Salisbury

Baileys of Salisbury are an independent, family-run bed retailer based in Salisbury, Wiltshire. Baileys approached 4D Digital looking to set up a new website for the business, wishing to ensure the quality of the website reflected the mid- to high-end bed ranges they offer in store.

With a relatively short project time, 4D worked closely with the client in order to co-ordinate with the store opening at the end of November 2018. Launching on time and with on-site client training and an ecommerce framework, the website is all set to grow and go from strength to strength.

The website was built with a particular focus on mobile and tablet device layouts, with larger lifestyle images being more prominent on desktop browsers.

With an ecommerce framework at its core, the website system will be well-set to expand the ranges of beds featured in-store and online. Custom settings have been applied to enable the store owner to easily add and update page content and enquiries.

We’re extremely pleased with the website and look forward to working together with Baileys of Salisbury over the coming years.

www.baileysofsalisbury.co.uk

 

Corsham Rugby – Player Sponsorship

4D Digital - Player sponsorship - Corsham Rugby

Adam Draper - Player Sponsorship - Corsham RFC - 4D Digital
Adam Draper

4D Digital are pleased to be sponsoring our local rugby club, Corsham RFC, for the 2018-19 season. We are Player Sponsor for first team player Adam Draper. Adam, who graduated from Loughborough University last year, plays centre for Corsham and is part of the 1st XV who play in the Wadworth 6X Southern Counties South West Division.

Last Season, Corsham 1st XV won the Bath Combination Vase Cup at The Rec, Bath Rugby’s home ground, and will be looking to continue their good form in the league this year.

Corsham Rugby run two teams at Senior level, the 2nd XV playing in the Dorset & Wilts 2 North division, having been promoted last season.

In addition, the club run a thriving junior section from age groups at U7 to U16.

 

4D Digital - Player Sponsorship Corsham Rugby
Photo courtesy of Christopher Chard Photography