Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Importance of a Good Website Design for your Business’ Image

While we all know that the way people look is not the only thing that matters in our personal relationships, ‘it’s what is on the inside that counts’, websites however are a very different matter. Design, attractiveness, and being usable, is very important for a website and its relationship with your clients. How a business is perceived, is vital to pulling in potential clients, and this includes what it looks like online. You most likely wouldn’t show potential clients your brochures, services, products, or wares from ten years ago, or if they weren't to a standard you’d class as high, so why do the same with your website?

Recently, I have come across several SME’s which have either no websites or old websites with terrible design. Two of the worst examples have been, sadly, for card design and event dressing companies. I say sadly as both these businesses are what I would class as visual industries, in which aesthetics are very important to display their products and services, demonstrating just how beautiful and attractive their work is, is a large part of attracting new clientele.

Beautiful creative designs
Over the last ten years web design has evolved in many ways. Notably, the use of graphics and photographs has increased in more recent designs, along with the use of video, all incorporated in a coherent, well laid out structure. Most of today’s websites tend to use creative yet simple structures, incorporating complementary colours, textures, panelled areas, and various fonts in the design. While older style websites display little design, large quantities of text, possibly laid out around one photograph, usually with a menu down the right hand-side and may contain animation which does not augment the design in anyway.

Photographs should be shot to fit in with the design of the website. Composition and quality of the photographs are very important to show your business off to its full potential, and photographs should be taken with this in mind. The proportions of the picture are key, especially for banner images, which may be long and narrow and have text overlaid in places, obscuring parts of the photograph. So many older sites have photographs stretched out of proportion, to fit the spaces they are required, which does not look good or give a good impression.

Photograph colours should be vivid and the contrast and brightness correct. A photographer or photo editor will make sure a photograph looks good in this way. A professional photographer may also take things away or add things, when either composing a shot or during the editing process making a photograph the best it can be. For example, I recently added a bush to cover a blue tarpaulin in a shot of a garden. I also whiten people’s eyes and teeth, and remove fine facial lines, in portrait shots. Even for images not integral to the page design, such as those in an image gallery, composition and quality are important, to show off your business to its full potential.

Web videos can be designed to fit with what your website is about, and produced professionally relatively cheaply. One of the worst things you can see on someone’s website is a homemade video which has been filmed ineptly on a mobile phone and uploaded to a website, without thought. This is not a good look if you are to attract clients in today’s aesthetic society. I would strongly recommend you employ a professional to film and edit your web videos, if you want to make a good impression.

Whats on the outside counts
This evolution, combining layout design and multimedia has made newly designed websites look more aesthetically pleasing, like pieces of artwork, capturing the audience, and enticing potential clients to interact. If you like how something looks, you are much more likely to trust the company and be persuaded to make a purchase, I myself have a few favourite sites which I use frequently, I would say it is the attractiveness and friendliness of their site design which has kept me returning, as let’s face it I could easily get most things I purchase online from Amazon.

Having your site designed or redesigned so that it looks attractive, professional, more modern and usable enhances your brand image and could potentially pull in many more clients, if marketed properly, than a badly designed site or no site at all.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Facebook Buys Instagram

It has been announced that Facebook has purchased Instagram for $1 Billion. Instagram was launched in October 2010 as an app which allows you to add filters to your photographs you take on your phone and share them with your friends. The app was only available on iPhones until recently when an Android version was released. Facebook aims to integrate Instagram and Facebook in some way, however are according to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook will be “keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything”.

The app currently has 27 million registered users according to its co-founders, an increase of 12 million since December 2011, this combined with its acquisition by Facebook, shows the importance of the sharing images in social media. Twitter also last year integrated the upload of photos using PhotoBucket, making photos the only media incorporated into Twitter other than text. Until recently sharing images was not so easy, and editing them in some way first was definitely not included. Aided by the use of mobile phones with cameras and wireless connections sharing photographs has become possible. Taking and sharing pictures is a activity people love. They can be taken for no specific purpose other than for capturing a moment, and used to create conversations with friends, provoking topics of discussion, or they can be shot for a specific purpose such as providing some kind of information in a pictorial form.

I'm assuming the combination of Instagram and Facebook will involve filters and effects now being able to added to our Facebook photographs, but I eagerly await the outcome of this integration.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Be Prepared for your New Facebook Business Page Timeline

A new era of Facebook pages is upon us. Facebook is moving from the old layout to a new Timeline layout. You can upgrade your Facebook Business page to the new Timeline layout by previewing it in the Preview button at the top of the page. However, on the 30th March this year all Business Pages will change over to this new layout, so be prepared! Here are some changes to prepare yourself for.

No Welcome page
There is now no Welcome page to encourage people to like you page. The loss of this feature seems such a shame, since using a well designed welcome page acts as an Fan gate, enticing a Fan to Like the page, perhaps even offering an incentive, such as access to more information or entry into a competition. Apps and pages made using HTML are still allowed however they are now accessed under the Cover Image as tabbed boxes. Be sure to remove your Welcome pages on the switch over of your business pages to the time line, as these pages will be added under the new square tabs and are redundant. Coca Cola's Facebook page have already moved to the new timeline layout but have forgotten to remove their Welcome page, which doesn't look good especially since it is the wrong size to fit the new Timeline layout.

New Cover Image
As well as you profile image, which is now fixed at 200px by 200px, your page now has a Cover image. Cover photos are 851px wide by 315px tall. If you upload an image that's smaller than these dimensions, it will get stretched to this larger size. Your Profile picture overlays the Cover image slightly. This is a large banner running the width of your page. It looks aesthetically pleasing I must say. It can be moved vertically up and down to position you can see the most out of your photo. This can be done using the button on the Cover Image, drop down option called Reposition.

Some large companies such as Old Spice have specifically designed their Cover Image to the correct size and their Profile image to look like they fit together. Very cleverly done.

The Cover image however while banner like, is not to be used to advertise your company. Facebook states that "This space is not meant for promotions, coupons, or advertisements. Your cover photo should not be primarily text-based or infringe on anyone else’s copyright.". So nice looking photos, graphics and design is the way to go.

Moveable Favourite Tabs
Your photographs, video and applications are all now in the form of tabs under your Cover image to the right, and are known as Favourites. By clicking on an arrow next to the tabs you can reposition these tabs to have your favourite or best tabs on display or hidden. Four is the most you can have in a line under your Cover image, these can be seem on your page. Any other favourites you select from the list will be shown in a drop down list under these four, so think carefully about your best assests and what you want your Liker's to see at first glance.

About Information
Your about Information is now under your Cover image and to the left of your Favourites tabs. This allows hyperlinks, so make the most of it to drive people back to visit your website.

Timeline Features
As the new layout is based around a Timeline there is now a line of months running down the right hand of the screen, starting with the date you founded your Facebook page to present day. You can add extra information to the Founded section if you wish. You can also add other Milestones, by selecting Milestone in where you would make wall posts. When you post to your wall now you can add year, month and date to your post, which will place the post on at it's appropriate time on the Timeline. This allows you to control posts on your timeline, changing there sequence in time to how you they happened or the order you want them to be shown.

Now you can highlight your wall posts by clicking on the Star button at the side of the wall post. This will make the post the full size of the Timeline, hence highlighting it.

While it's sad that the old style Facebook pages will be no more, leaving behind the Welcome page, Facebook's new Timeline layout is moving to the future, providing a better way to display all our content uploaded over the years since we signed up and allowing us to note and highlight important milestone's in our lives, even ones which pre-date Facebook. This along with a sleek new looking page style, focusing on graphics, should serve us better in our use of Facebook for the future.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Drive traffic to your website Using Twitter and your Blog

I like to use Twitter to publicise my blog posts. Twitter is great for this purpose, as it only allows short tweets to make people aware of the latest article's I have written or latest photographs I have taken. This allows them to decide if they want to read more and visit my blog. Ultimately, I would like people will visit my website, which has a link in the Blogroll :)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Creating a Business Page on Facebook

As Facebook currently has more than 500 million active users (Facebook, 2011), having a presence on Facebook is an ideal opportunity to network on the web. It would be foolish for a business not to be represented on Facebook today.

Facebook has two types of accounts:

• A Facebook Personal Profile is the account which is set up when you register your personal details. These accounts are designed to represent an individual.
• A Business or Organisation page is designed to allow businesses and organisations to have a presence on Facebook and have a connection with their fans or 'likers'.

Getting it right
It is really worth getting it right when you start off. Facebook definitely wants us to have only one personal profile. While using a personal profile page for a business works well, Facebook does discourages this. No number or symbols are allowed in the name of personal pages, which maybe needed for the name of business or organisation. People tend to try to get around this by placing the name of the business they are representing within their own name, but as personal profiles are allowed only a handful of name changes, at some point, the name will not be able to be changed. This is not ideal if, for example, the employee whose name it is leaves the company or organisation.

Facebook also warns the user (see below), when changing names, that all their accounts, personal and otherwise, can be closed down if they are found to have more than one personal profile page, as this is violating the conditions of Facebook usage. This is an undesirable situation for both the individual and the business, therefore setting up a business or organisation page from the start is the way to go.

Business or organisation page with Verses without a personal profile
There are two ways to produce a business or organisation Facebook page.
• Create a business page not linked to a personal profile.
• Create a business page through your personal profile.

Creating a business page which is not linked to a personal account has limited options compared to those linked through a personal account. Business pages are designed for individuals who only want to use the site to administer Pages and their ad campaigns.

Business accounts by themselves do not have the option to 'Like' other business pages, which allow you to make useful links with other business or organisation pages—people tend to like people who like their page helping you to broaden your network.

The search facility is also restricted, reducing your ability to search and view other pages on Facebook, giving limited access to information on the site. An individual with a business account only can view all the pages and Social Ads that they have created, and they will not be able to view the profiles of users on the site or other pages. In addition, business accounts cannot be found in search and cannot send or receive friend requests.

They do allow people to like your business page, and the ability to update your status, write on your wall, post photos, links etc.

When a business account is linked to a personal profile, you have all the functionality of your personal profile account and the business page. There is also the option of using Facebook as solely the business page, with business page restrictions, by selecting the 'Use Facebook as Business Name' option on the right hand side of your business page (see below).

By doing this you can add posts or reply to posts in the business name and not your own, which is useful if you want to comment on posts as the business.

This can be reverted back to full functionally through your personal account by selecting 'Use Facebook as Personal Name' in the same area (see below).

Creating a business page
1) Creating a business page not linked to a personal profile.

• First go to and click 'Create a page for a celebrity, brand or business', in small text under the Sign Up form or click the following link which will take you to the same screen:
• Select a category and a name for your business or organisation page. Note that the 'Local business or place' requires an address also.
• You should then have business page which is not linked to a personal account.

2) Creating a business page through your personal profile.

• Login as yourself to your personal profile account and in the 'Search' box at the top of the page and type in 'Create a new Facebook page', or paste in the following URL:
• Select a category and a name for your business or organisation page. Note that the 'Local business or place' requires an address.
• You should then have business page which is linked to a personal account. It is worth noting that the fans of your business pages will not be able to view or have access to your personal profile.
• Below is an example of a business page linked to a personal profile.

Multiple Admins for Business Pages
Once a business page is created, the person who created the business page can add other people as admins of the page, by going to Edit Profile and Manage Admins. This allows the page to be administered by more than one person, which is ideal if other people need to be able to edit the page, for example if someone leaves the business/organisation or if information needs to be updated on the creators days off. Admins show up on the top right-hand side of the page.

Business Pages Extras
Business pages allow some functionality which personal profiles do not have.

Third party developers will build an array of applications that they will compete for Page Admins to add to their Pages. Facebook Pages are also not subject to a fan limit and can automatically accept fan requests.

There is also the option to 'View insights' and 'Promote with an advert', both found on the right hand-side of the page.

'Promote with an advert'
For a fee you can create your own ad campaign in Facebook. You can target your ad by location, sex, age, keyword, relationship status, job title, workplace, or college. As you select each targeting criterion, Facebook we will display the approximate number of users that your targeting encompasses.

'View Insights'
Insights offers page admins a way of viewing a keeping track of the users and interaction of pages and apps. By understanding and analysing trends within user growth and demographics, consumption of content, and creation of content, Page admins and Platform developers are better equipped to improve their business with Facebook.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Online Video Sites

  • Video Jug - free videos (can use like YouTube)
  • Vimeo - (Instructional videos)
  • 5 min - (Instructional videos)
  • Creative Zen - Device (Portable video player)