Web Design

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How to get along with your developer

By Web Design, WebsitesNo Comments

The relationship between client and developer can be a fractious one. The complexities of digital marketing, the occasional lack of concrete results and the language barrier (English versus Geek) can create a dislocation which, over the course of a long relationship, can lead to disharmony and, ultimately, a breakdown in communication. Below are some tips to help you navigate this relationship:

The first meeting is crucial.

This is a key moment in ensuring that the relationship between yourself and your developer is a viable one. Be clear about what you want from your website. Make sure you have a good sense of what has been agreed in terms of:

Budget.  The amount a project is offered for is part of the conversation. Digital marketing projects are flexible in terms of what is possible, so a good developer will offer a range of options based on how much you can afford to spend.

Deadline. Again this depends on what is being offered, but a developer should be able to breakdown the project in terms of time.

Business. A well supported digital marketing project depends on the developer having an understanding of the client’s business and of the client’s objectives. An outline of the project should have these aspects at its core.

Report any faults when they happen.

It is important to keep your developer informed about any bugs or errors – a website is a constantly updating entity and it relies on a regular flow of communication between you and the developer to make it stronger and more robust. To be effective, any feedback on issues needs to be detailed and ideally include screenshots so your developer can quickly target the issues and resolve them.

Don’t forget the peripherals.

A developer’s work doesn’t just stop with the website – a project can potentially include social media, daily, weekly or monthly updates to the site, ongoing maintenance or support. Make sure you know what’s being offered for the money you are paying and that you know what support is offered after the website has been made live.

We at Chartered Digital pledge the following:

  • We are bilingual: we speak both Geek and English. We will always try to explain what we do in plain and straightforward English. When that is not possible, we promise to use diagrams, hand gestures or interpretive dance until you, the client, is entirely clear about what we are suggesting.
  • We will never disappear after the project is complete. We promise to outline  everything we offer before starting a project. We are open and accessible – often by phone and, when possible, physically. If there are problems, concerns or snags we can be on hand to resolve them.
  • We will never oversell something or use the complexity of digital marketing to our advantage. We know that there are agencies out there who get away with doing very little under the camouflage of technical language – we promise to be transparent about everything we do.

Get in touch for more details about what we can offer you:

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Building Digital Adventures

By Web DesignNo Comments

Hyper-narrative and Website Design

For those of us of a certain age who grew up before the advent of the internet (and who now struggle to do up their own shoelaces without sitting down), the concept of hyper-narratives (texts with a non-linear, branching structure where the reader makes choice) and, consequently, website design, is neatly embodied in these books:

Choose your Own Adventure stories presented stories in a non-linear way, allowing the reader a set of options every few pages so they could follow a path to a series of different outcomes. From the perspective of the internet age, these books were prescient in the way they took the idea of a story apart and placed control of the narrative in the hands of the reader. The effect of reading them and following the different paths of the stories was a sometimes vertiginous feeling of freedom, but this was cleverly engineered by the authors. To write these books required a rigorous process of planning, structuring and predicting how the reader might approach the different paths. The outcome always needed to be the same: the reader needed to enjoy the experience and receive a degree of catharsis from the different conclusions.

So, how can this translate to website design? The writers of the Choose your Own Adventure books understood the desires and needs of the reader and understood how the linear structure of the story could be broken down and rebuilt in a way that satisfied multiple readers and encouraged them to repeatedly return to the book. A website designer also needs to understand his ‘reader’ or potential customer. A website, much like the Choose your Own Adventure books, is a non-linear tangle of paths that a browser can follow, and the key is to ensure that they reach the information they need quickly and in a way that doesn’t frustrate them. There are a number of approaches that can be taken to ensure this happens:

  • Follow the AIDA model

AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) is the key to both individual pages and to the structure of the website in general. The Choose your Own Adventure writers understood how to grab the attention of their reader, how to sustain their interest, stoke their desire and influence their actions. A well designed website will do the same thing: each page will draw the visitor in and funnel them through to the pages they need to visit to commit to a sale.

  • Know your customer

A good digital marketing service will use persona research to get a good sense of what your customers are looking for and, as a consequence, will plan and construct your website in a way that it both attractive to them and helps them find the information they need.

  • Be prepared to test and adapt

The advantage a website has over the old Choose your Own Adventure books, is the ability you have to change the structure depending on how your visitors are using it. To do this, it is often useful to test pages and paths through the site to ensure the optimum structure and look is adopted. These tests can occur in the development stage, but it is also important to regularly review your website to ensure it is both search engine and conversion rate optimised.

An understanding of the ways in which hyper-narratives can be used to create online journeys for customers is a useful starting point for the planning, preparation, construction and testing new websites. The Choose your Own Adventure books are both a good analogy for how websites work, but also serve as a useful model for best practice. If you’re interested in a new website or refreshing your existing website, then get in touch and we can start plotting digital adventures for your clients to follow.

HTTP/2: What you need to know.

By Future Developments, Web DesignNo Comments

The differences between the original HTTP (now on version 1.1) and HTTP/2 may not at first sound like a sexy idea for a blogpost helping to promote a digital marketing company, but the Hypertext Transfer Protocol and its faster and more secure successor are the bedrock layer for any data communication on the World Wide Web. Without an understanding of what HTTP/2 means and what a difference it could make to your approach to your website, you could get left behind.

HTTP is the protocol used to define how information is formatted and transmitted on the web. It came into existence in the early 1990s and, through various iterations, has become ubiquitous. HTTP is crucial in the context of website construction as it is a factor in the how well your website performs and, consequently, in how prominently your website appears in search engine results. There is a direct correlation between this foundation layer of your website, and how well optimised it ends up being.

HTTP/2 is effectively an add-on to HTTP/1.1 – a refreshing of the old protocol that means a steady and stable transition between the two. The new protocol offers more streamlining and better efficiency, making the communication between browsers and servers more optimised.

In detail:

  • HTTP/2 allows for simultaneous connections, meaning that multiple resources can be delivered using the same HTTP stream. This will cut down on waiting time.
  • It operates in a binary rather than the textual format that HTTP/1.1 uses, reducing errors and, once again, increasing efficiencies.
  • It allows for header optimisation, removing redundant headers whilst compressing the remaining ones.

In short, HTTP/2 does a number of very complicated things, but the results are always the same: more security, more speed and more efficiency. But how does all this impact on you?

Benefits of HTTP/2    

There are a number of clear benefits in adopting HTTP/2.

  • The effect of HTTP/2 on search engine optimisation (SEO) will be indirect but significant. The new protocol will improve user experience, making it faster for users to gain access to information online by increasing page load speed, a Google ranking factor. Further to this, GoogleBot (search bot software used by Google that collects information that leads to the search engine ranking) has now been updated to support HTTP/2.
  • Moving to HTTP/2 will have benefits across all devices and digital channels. It is also compatible with HTTP/1.1
  • HTTP/2 has extra encryption that is automatically employed, making websites that use it more secure.

How to get it?

Support for HTTP/2 is steadily increasing. It is now compatible with a number of major browsers such as Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Chrome, Chrome for Android and Safari, and this number will likely increase as the benefits are recognised. As long as your website is on HTTPS (which it should be anyway to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation), the process of switching to HTTP/2 is relatively simple and involves a minor edit to the configuration of your web server.

But why stop there? Having decided to become an early adopter and to go for HTTP/2, why not take the opportunity to give your website a refresh? You may wish to combine the move with a complete migration, a spruce-up of your current content, or simply a review of how well it is optimised.

Speak with a friendly digital marketing expert for advice on how to complete the HTTP/2 setup and for more about how to make your website fly.