Often, when we talk to our clients about “responsive” websites we get some very blank looks and we’ve noticed there is a great deal of misunderstanding around how responsive websites work. In this blog post we will aim to put into basic terms what a responsive website is and how it can benefit your customers.
What is a responsive website?
At first glance, although you may feel the difference between responsive and non-responsive in the above banner is quite subtle, on closer inspection you will notice that the mobile and tablet versions have a different layout. This makes the text and images larger for the responsive version so they fill the screen better and additionally, there’s no need to zoom in and scroll in all directions to find your way around the website.
Although it’s fair to say this does create more vertical scrolling, it is a worthwhile trade-off as it means you don’t need to pinch your fingers to read and navigate the website, in effect making your website much easier and quicker to use.
Responsive websites are effectively the successors of the old-fashioned “mobile website” where you would be redirected to a completely separate website when you accessed a company’s “desktop website” on your mobile device.
We’ve been all clever, clever and techie with our blogs until now because they’ve been written by Julian, our highly intelligent and wizardry wizard developer. For that traditionally slow bit of the year in late August, we thought it was fitting that we give the blog to someone who thinks and behaves in much simpler terms, so you’ve got me (Steve the designer) doing this one.
Chalkhills and cakes made of rice
When not doodling ideas on the back of cereal packets, sharpening pencils, gently screaming at my Mac or tip tapping away at a keyboard, there’s nothing I love more than getting my dangerously worn walking sandals on and tramping off over the Wiltshire Downs. It doesn’t really matter where you go or, indeed, which season you choose, the Downs are a very lovely place to be. I used to work as a photographer, so if I can squeeze a camera into my rucksack between the eighteen gallons of water and copious packets of brazil nuts and rice cakes, I try and take a few shots as well. The images above show just some of the things you’re likely to encounter if you go for a hearty stomp along the Ridgeway between Foxhill and Barbury Castle.
Just below the Iron Age fort of Barbury Castle you can see the disused airstrip and giant hangars that used to be part of RAF Wroughton. Many of the British aircraft used during WW2 would have been here at some point – very often dismantled and crammed into wooden crates like scarily giant Airfix kits. At the end of the war the base was used as a final resting place for a huge number of bombers, fighters and transport aircraft before they were cut up for scrap. In fact, locals used to say that you could walk from one side of the base to the other without touching the ground, just by stepping from one aircraft to another. These days the hangars are home to a staggering collection of Science Museum vehicles and obscure objects that include hovercraft, space capsules, vintage London buses, and even de-activated nuclear missiles (apparently).
Despite what many people think, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is not a black art and doesn’t involve mysterious wizardry. In fact, since Google and other major search engines have cracked down on questionable tactics that used to allow websites to ‘cheat’ their way to the top of the rankings, it really is quite a simple process.
SEO is about providing users with useful, unique, up-to-date and engaging content and making sure the bots that crawl your site can fully understand the nature and structure of your content… To put it in really simple terms, it’s about giving users exactly what they’re looking for when they search the web.
That isn’t to say that it’s easy though – a good SEO campaign takes time and a lot of effort. But there are still plenty of simple things you can do yourself to make sure your website gets the very best out of the search engines…
1) Start a blog, or post to your blog more often
If your website doesn’t already have a blog or news section you can post to on a regular basis, ask your web developer about adding a blog to your website. If you don’t have the budget to do this, there are plenty of free blogging tools that will allow you to promote your website, product or service for free.
Don’t just blow your own trumpet and post about your business though! While a few posts promoting yourself is acceptable, try to mix it up with information and content that your user base will be interested in, be it industry news, advice & guidance or even funny/light-hearted stories – basically anything that provides added value or encourages users to click through to your site.
A quick warning though – don’t be tempted to copy information from other sources (other than quoting small snippets and adding your own commentary). Google and other search engines do not like duplicate content and this will have a negative impact on your SEO efforts.
If you’re stuck for ideas on what to blog about, take a look at Digital Marketer’s Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas.
As the vast majority of our clients use the web hosting we provide via Heart Internet, we thought we would spread the good news about their current infrastructure upgrade which will improve the reliability and performance of your hosting at no additional cost.
To quote from Heart themselves:
“This is the largest single investment in Heart Internet’s history and will ensure that every hosting package on our platform has the best level of performance and reliability available and will provide you with significant performance uplifts. We have set our current best performing hosting clusters as the minimum benchmark for your future performance.
We are replacing nearly half of all our web servers and NAS drives to increase server power without increasing the number of sites per server. As part of this, we’re adding more database servers, ensuring that each server only serves two server clusters instead of the current three. This means that each database server will contain fewer databases, reducing the possibility for websites to impact the performance of others.
We are also adding SSD as caches for both our NAS drives and web servers for even faster response times and performance.
Overall we are really excited that you will see considerable performance improvements.
Our upgrade work will begin on the 13th June and will take several months to complete. Our blog will also have more details as we make progress on the upgrade.”
Here at Lumous, we hope that our clients will enjoy the benefits that this upgrade brings. If however you do have any questions or concerns regarding this work, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Back in 2012, Plantlife setup a campaign to appeal to local councils to adopt their guidelines for better management of road verges in order to protect and preserve the wild flowers and wildlife that flourish alongside thousands of miles of roads all over the UK. Plantlife believe that the majority of road verges can be managed better whilst remaining safe for motorists and saving councils money at the same time!
Here at Lumous we have been working with Plantlife for 4 years to promote their campaign online through a dedicated mini-site. Last month (June 2016), Plantlife re-launched the campaign, and we gave the website a fresh lick of paint. More emphasis was put on the stories that have developed as a result of their efforts, and the influence the campaign has had on local councils. Specifically, we added responsive & dynamic tiles to the homepage, a new ‘inspiring stories’ blog and a Google Map detailing updates from councils across the UK.
Previously, the campaign has been featured numerous times in the national press and has also been covered on several episodes of the BBC’s Countryfile. As a result, their petition to local councils has received more than 17,000 signatures and is starting to make a real difference to our wonderful road verges.
For more information about Plantlife, visit the road verge campaign website.
As senior developer at Lumous, the responsibility for attending last week’s Google Partners event in London fell neatly at my door. We wanted to ensure that we continue to get the best possible results from our clients’ online advertising campaigns by getting up to speed with the latest developments and intricacies of Google’s advertising network, Google AdWords.
In order to secure Google AdWords Certified status for the agency, I needed to comfortably pass two exams; no pressure then! I really needn’t have worried though as my appetite for the subject matter paid off with an average score of 93% across the two exams (lasting a total of 4 hours!).
I don’t want to overload you with all the technical nitty gritty from the course, but there are a few essentials that I simply have to share…
What are the REAL benefits of online advertising?
Unlike more traditional methods of advertising such as print, placement and TV/radio, online search advertising brings the following key benefits:
- It allows you to find customers who are already looking for your services and therefore target a very specific market
- It’s performance is measurable, allowing you to track conversions/sales, and calculate an accurate return on investment (ROI)
- It has a massive potential reach – every month there are more than 100,000,000,000 searches on Google. You can also use tools such as Google Trends to establish how large your potential reach is for a specific keyword.