Maximise online success by launching your website the right way

Launch day has arrived. You’ve spent your budget, put in countless hours to ensure your content is positioning your brand perfectly – and at last, your new website goes live. You sigh with relief and quickly get back to your busy schedule.

Days, weeks, even months pass, without a single lead – at this rate there’s slim chance you will ever see that return on investment.

Many businesses wrongly believe that a new website is like the field of dreams – ‘build it, and they will come’. This may have been true in the early days of the web but it’s definitely no longer the case. Unless you’ve already built an avid fan-base of potential customers watching your every move, you will need to put in some effort in order to build momentum.

Launching the right way

Before you launch

In the months leading up to pressing the go live button, you should make as much positive noise as possible about the impending launch to start generating online traction.

1. Decide on a launch date

To plan the marketing of your website, it makes sense to agree on a specific launch date. If you have an important product launch on the horizon or are about to start some business development, you could think about coordinating the new website launch around that. Certain days of the week are also better to launch than others – for example, no matter how pressing your new site is, do you really need to launch on a Friday?

2. Let people know

Once the go live date has been set, start putting the word out there. Depending on your reach, you may find people visit your site straight away. Make sure you provide a means for those early arrivals to leave their details so you can keep them in the loop. Try directing visitors from your social media posts about the launch directly to a landing page or blog post about the new site to help whet their appetite.

3. Build an email list

Emails on a laptop

A pre-launch landing page with an email subscription form is a great opportunity to increase your list of potential leads. Give people a good reason to sign up and there’s even greater chance you will reach that destination in the sky.

4. Update your email signature

Think how many people you interact with via email every day – your email signature is a prime place to promote your forthcoming web launch to your existing customers.

5. Utilise social media

Social platforms come and go, but social media is here to stay. It’s never too late to grow your online network and further increase awareness of your brand. Using your website launch as a talking point is a great way to get started.

6. Build excitement with sneak peeks

Post teaser content through email marketing and social media that offers a taste of what’s to come. Post regularly enough to hold your audiences attention, but not so frequently that you lose it.

7. Start the countdown

This could be presented in the form of a countdown timer on your website, or included in your news posts.

Post-launch

When you’ve built momentum leading up to launch, you won’t want to let it all go to waste when you’re entering orbit.

1. Continue sharing

If you had positive results on social media during the pre-launch phase, then keep spreading the message there over the following months.

2. Update your email signature

…and anything else that might still be showing a pre-launch message. Make sure you change it to let people know that your new website is live, to encourage your customers to visit.

3. Monitor what’s working

Website planning

Sophisticated analytics tools provide the ability to easily monitor how visitors interact with your site. Some of which also provide simple ways to gather real feedback from your visitors, which proves invaluable when reviewing how your site is really performing.

4. Set up Google Alerts

Once your new site is live people may start mentioning it online. By setting up Google Alerts around your brand name, you’ll be notified whenever you’re spoken about on the web. Good or bad, you want to be ready to respond to ensure your brand’s reputation is always managed.

5. Keep creating

Don’t stop producing good quality content relevant to your audience. Set yourself a realistic content publishing schedule and do your best to stick to it.  This is one of the main ways to continually grow your following, long after launch.

Round up

After successfully planning your website, your next move is to plan for launch. Generate interest around your new website as early as possible using the tips above and don’t stop producing content that is useful to your audience.

If you’re thinking about a website revamp and are aiming for the moon, we’d love to help pilot you there. Get in touch 

Why Website Maintenance is Crucial for Your Business

Like your car, if you don’t keep it topped up with fuel, change the oil regularly, and replace the tyres when they come to the end of their life, sooner or later it will breakdown.  And the chances are that when it does, you’ll not only be without it while it’s being fixed, but you’ll also be left with a hefty repair bill that could have been avoided had you regularly given it the attention it deserved.

Over the years we’ve seen first-hand the pitfalls of skimping on website maintenance – from embarrassing hacks, to total disaster when hardware has failed without a backup. This can not only cost your business financially, it can also seriously harm the reputation of your brand.

In this post we’ll help you understand what website maintenance entails and why you should have a plan in place to minimise the risks to your business of a website failure.

Websites Need to Evolve

Following a successful website launch, it’s all too easy for your attention to turn elsewhere once it’s happily ticking over – after all, you have a business to run.

But the web moves fast, and if you don’t pay attention your website will get left by the wayside. Technologies improve, software gets patched, marketing trends change…and you need to make sure you move with the times.

A professional maintenance plan put in place through an experienced web team will make sure your website keeps moving in the right direction with the minimum effort from you.

But What Could Go Wrong?

If you run a car for long enough without maintaining it, it will break down. It’s not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’. The same holds true for your website. Here are a few things to consider:

Software Updates

To the untrained eye, a website might seem like a mystical entity that lives in the cloud somewhere. However, under the hood there’ll be hundreds, quite possibly thousands, of lines of code that all work together to provide your visitor with the experience you want them to have. But it’s also quite likely that amongst all that code they’ll be a few bugs and security holes just waiting to be found. And if one of those holes gets found by some unscrupulous individual that wants to exploit your website for their own gains, it could be disastrous for your business. You could compare it to neglecting to lock your car – you’ll make it easier for an opportunist thief to take advantage.

You’ll no doubt be aware of recent high-profile website attacks – well, regular maintenance ensures that bugs are fixed and security holes patched as soon as they are discovered, helping protect you from disaster rather than increasing the chances of it happening.

Website Performance

Speed is key to a superior user experience, and on top of this, the major search engines, like Google, use loading time as part of their ranking factors. A slow website is frustrating for your visitors and can lead to significant abandonment issues. Keeping your website updated to take advantage of the latest technologies will ensure it continues to run as quickly as possible. Think of it as upgrading your car with a K&N air filter and straight-through exhaust system, and running it on super-unleaded.

User Experience

The constant evolution of the web means that we often don’t appreciate the improvements that are made, but to use our car analogy again, if you took a 1980’s Ford Fiesta for a spin today you’d realise how far technology has come. The same is true for web browsers, hardware interfaces (from mice to touch screens), and the way new generations take things for granted.

If you don’t constantly improve your website then people will start to find it difficult to use. A classic example of this is trying to use a non-mobile-friendly website on a tiny phone screen – you’ll soon give up and abandon it for a competitor that has already optimised theirs for mobile visitors.

Prevention is Better Than Cure

It’s an age-old adage but it still rings true even in the digital world. Instead of being reactive to problems and forking out the (often hefty) price to fix things when they go wrong, continuous maintenance helps prevent certain situations from occurring in the first place.

With a dedicated support agreement in place, there’s no wasted admin time going back and forth with your web team generating and approving quotes – they can simply get the work done as and when it’s required, leaving you safe in the knowledge that your website is less likely to suddenly break down on you.

A professional web agency has extensive digital knowledge and will be fully up-to-speed with the latest threats, technologies, and standards. If you want the best for your website, the best thing you can do is find a reliable professional to work with. Trying to save a few quid and taking the DIY approach will most-likely cause you a headache in the long run – and besides, surely your valuable time is much better spent focusing on other areas of your business?

If you would like to discuss a maintenance contract for your website, drop an email to hello@deucecreative.co.uk.

Hunting for Easter eggs online?

What are they?

Digital Easter eggs are fun features hidden within websites, apps and other software. Often stumbled upon randomly, these quirks surprise and delight those who find them. They’re often hidden and unpromoted, but don’t worry, we’ll be going through some of the most famous ones below to cut your hunting time in half!

Bringing joy like Cadbury’s

Easter eggs are a great way to bring joy to your audience with a less-than-conventional interface, and the discovery, even through word-of-mouth, makes people feel special – as if they are part of an inside loop. It also humanises your brand by showing personality, making your brand more relatable and easier to connect with.

“…They create this feeling of being an insider with the application or company, which can be incredibly valuable in terms of brand loyalty and engagement.”
Eric Peters, Senior Growth Marketing Manager at HubSpot Academy

Easter eggs can be a great way of gaining exposure. When you’ve heard of an online secret feature, you’ve probably gone to the website just to check it out. They can increase brand awareness, site traffic and user engagement by encouraging exploration.

And so the hunt begins…

Google

Your internet’s gone down! You’re climbing the walls with nothing to do! Nothing to click on, like or look at. Well fear not, as the next time your wi-fi cuts short, head over to Google Chrome. You may have been greeted by this screen before:

A scary sight for most, but not for those that know! Just hit the spacebar to start a super-fun Mario-style game.

Google have plenty of Easter eggs to hunt for. Typing certain phrases into search like ‘askew’, ‘zerg rush’ and ‘do a barrel roll’ will see Google do some crazy things.

They also placed Pac-Man into their Maps on April Fool’s Day. This one comes around quite often as it’s so popular. Even Poke’mon GO started as a Google prank, so Easter eggs can be a great way to test out unconventional ideas before committing to final products.

Spotify

Easter eggs can be a powerful promotional tool too. In December 2015, Spotify changed the progress bar to a lightsaber to promote the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. By signing-up to a specially-created promotional page, users were able to change the lightsaber colour by following the Light or Dark Side. A brilliantly simple content upgrade.

Facebook

If you hunt for language settings in your Facebook account, you might find a few ‘alternative English’ options.
Upside down:

Pirate:

Why? I think the real question is ‘why not’?

Skybet

This gambling website has it’s own ‘look busy’ function. Just click the user icon above the social buttons to be greeted with a rather comical spreadsheet to ‘fool your boss’ into thinking you’re busy at work.

They’ve really focused in on their audience and created a humorous ‘solution’ to what is probably a commonplace situation.

Use wisely

What it does show is a different type of marketing emerging. One that demands a more human-centric approach to create relatable brands that are easy to connect with. Not all Easter eggs are created equal though, and the ones that come out on top are those that require careful planning and development.Whilst Easter eggs can be fun, highly-sharable features, they’re not intentionally driving sales and conversions. They will not magically resolve low-converting websites, and if yours isn’t performing, an Easter egg is not a quick fix. You need to get the basics right first.

Give your website a spring clean

Time for change?

Is your website a hub of activity generating traffic and conversions? If not, then why?

Using analytics can help identify areas of disinterest on your site and help you discover where your visitors are falling off. Set up a free account with Hotjar and Google Analytics to start generating valuable insights into how people are using your site. If your users are not completing the task you want them to, then maybe it’s time for some changes.

Clear the clutter

Content

Don’t fluff-up pages with large walls of content. Split content into easy, digestible chunks of information with engaging subheadings and images.

Site structure

Keep navigation simple – include only the most important pages in your main menu. From landing on your site through to a conversion, your website needs to get your user from point A to point B in a few easy steps with as little friction as possible.

Forms

As simple forms are easier to get through, they often result in a higher completion rate, so clear away any unnecessary fields like marketing questions and required account set up.

Remove the cobwebs

In the digital world, cobwebs are outdated pieces of information. If it’s 2017 and your last post was dated 2015, people landing on your site will question if you’re even still in business. It gives no reason for visitors to come back and check for fresh content.

Stop hoarding

Stop stuffing every page with an overload of information and text. If it’s hard to read, it won’t be read at all. Don’t clog up sites with tonnes of features it doesn’t need, and stop holding onto marketing and web designs that don’t work. If it’s not helping to bring in those conversions, get rid of it.

Remove unused files that are collecting digital dust. It will free up space and help speed up your site – Google will love you for that. Just be sure to set up appropriate redirects where necessary so that any old indexed URLs don’t send visitors to your 404 page.

Spruce up evergreen content

It’s worth checking over old content for useful information. Some blog posts you might be able to re-share, particularly annual holiday content. It doesn’t hurt to edit the content slightly to bring it up to date. Make it more engaging by using videos, images, infographics, relevant links to newer articles etc. It’s amazing how much just a few tweaks can breathe new life into old content.

Upgrade WordPress and Plugins

The longer you put off updating, the more outdated code becomes on your site (and the harder it becomes to update without problems). That’s why it’s vital to keep on top of WordPress updates. Usually involving bug fixes and security patches, regular updates keep your site secure and in good health. It also shows you’re an active, up-to-date business in Google’s eyes, so some SEO brownie points can be earned here too.

Don’t forget: It’s of extreme importance to backup your website’s database and files before updating. Most decent hosting companies will backup your database automatically but it’s worth getting in touch with them to make sure.

Fix what’s broken

Check for 404’s (the broken page links on your site). You can you check here by entering your web address or ask your web team if you are unsure. If your site is in WordPress, we recommend downloading the Redirection plugin to replace any broken links.

Look around your website. Are there any noticeable problems? Use your website like your customers would. Are there any flaws in the user journey?

Ruthlessly check for spelling and incorrect info. It’s also worth getting a few extra pair of eyes to take a look as they could find something you might have missed.

Secure your site

Don’t let your hard work go to waste. You don’t want to spend hours cleaning only to have someone come in and start making a mess! Make sure your hosting is secure, an SSL certificate is in place, and login passwords are updated at least every six months.

Refresh the design

Since the spring is a time for new beginnings, now is a great time to implement a fresh new design. Is your website lacking in conversions? Does it give people that warm fuzzy feeling when they arrive on a beautiful site?

Science tells us that people trust an attractive website over a messy, mediocre-looking one, so don’t risk losing customers to your competitors and keep your site as clean and polished as it can be!

Scrub up

The digital landscape moves so quickly. It’s all too easy to let your site fall behind. Your website is often the first point-of-call for customers, so don’t let outdated posts or page content force them to reach for the back button. If you would like any assistance on keeping your site maintained then get in touch. You say bang and the dirt is gone!

 

Branding, technology and content insights from WXG 2017

Although nervous, I got settled in very quickly, meeting a variety of interesting people from web developers to product designers, events coordinators to animators. Taking my seat, I picked up the complimentary eye mask left on the chair and felt very curious as to what the talks would entail. Each presentation was significant for different reasons. All bursting with personality and inspiring insights, but similar themes ran throughout the day.

Authenticity

Gion-Men Kruegel-Hanna, group creative director at Head discussed authenticity in branding. He explained that when customers buy a product it’s a form of identity, meaning and belonging (think Apple vs Android) so it’s important for brands to build their authenticity into everything they create.

When branding isn’t built in, products all look the same.

Authentic branding was also a key message from Steve Bartlett, The Social Chain’s CEO, who’s almost magical party trick of making anything trend on social media in 20 minutes, had everyone impressed. People are fed up of being advertised to. People hate to be sold to but love to buy so the new job of the brand is to be part of the real story, not interrupt it.

The future of tech

We’re on the brink of a new technological era which was touched upon in almost every talk. Mikela Eskenazi from Blipper gave an exciting insight into Augmented Reality whilst Samantha Kingston of Virtual Umbrella talked Virtual Reality. Both showing how the tech is helping develop more engaging experiences with brands and products.

But some looked even further. Often visualised as a dystopian future, Guy Armitage’s (Zealous founder) optimistic outlook of Artificial Intelligence was quite uplifting. He discussed how AI gifts us with time, letting us get on with more creative endeavours. Think about the mind blowing constructions on Minecraft for example – the stuff us humans create over time is astonishing.

Then there was Pete Trainor, Nexus founder, who harnessed the power of tech for good by using AIs to help young suicidal men. He encouraged us all with the powerful phrase: “Don’t design better, design better things”.

Useful content

What came up time and time again was that “Content is King”. Even afternoon speaker Gion-Men Kruegel‏ looked a little sheepish when a whole slide dedicated to the phrase came up in his presentation. He debated taking it down but kept it in as he explained “it is so right”, so on point and prominent in today’s world.

Tash Walker, The Mix Founder spoke heavily about a culture that produces way too much useless sh**. A typical store stocks 127 types of jam and if one was to eat a different pot each week, it would take over 2 years to get through. That’s a lot of Jam!

That’s when the eye mask came in. I put it on and a sound clip played of people chatting with constant pings and ringtones in the background. This is what 2017 sounds like. But because we’re exposed to over 500,000 useless marketing messages every day, ordinary has become extraordinary. The brands cutting through the noise are the ones that provide useful content – not more jam!

A great example of this is Monzo. Monzo’s Head of Internal product, Valerio Magliulo, summed up his talk in one key point “Be obsessed with your customers and your customers will be obsessed with you.” He showed how Monzo simplifies high street bank’s complex processes to create a better banking experience for people. With a live online demo to Monzo’s customer support chat, he showed how easy it was to change his address in a couple of minutes.

As political polls showed us last year, we’re doing more user research then ever but still getting it wrong. Conor Ward, Head of UX/Design at British Gas, provided an in-depth presentation on how to get user research right. Most times people will say anything just to give an answer. Observing behaviour on the other hand highlights problems people might not even realise exist and allow you to create more useful solutions. As Henry Ford once said – “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”.

Final thoughts

As the day come to a close I was left feeling incredibly motivated and inspired. I feel very lucky to have seen so many great speakers and learned so much from each one. A huge thank you to Kyan, Wirehive and all the sponsors who made this year’s WXG possible. We’re already buzzing for the 2018 event!

How do online reviews affect my business?

Online reviews give your marketing and leads a little boost as well as increase trust in your company.

You might shout about your products and services from the rooftops and tell the world how amazing you are but no one has good reason to believe you until your customers back up these claims with their own glowing reviews of your business.

Studies have shown that customers use online reviews to research and judge a business before committing to purchase. In fact, 80 – 90% of shoppers reported that reviews affected their buying decisions.

Most customers start a buying journey with a quick search in Google, so the company or product with plenty of feedback on will likely be one of the first places people will click.

Do online reviews affect SEO?

Once the online customer reviews start coming in, not only will you quickly build trust with potential customers but at the same time you will increase the search engine’s confidence in your brand, leading to a positive increase in your rankings.

Can online reviews increase revenue?

With an increase in positive reviews and more visibility in search rankings, it’s likely your revenue will increase as a result. However, a one star difference in rating can affect revenue by up to 9% so it pays to get those positive reviews in!

Okay, I’m convinced! How can I start collecting reviews?

The best place to start collecting reviews is from previous customers. These people have hopefully already had a positive experience with your company and therefore are more willing to drop a positive comment your way when politely asked.

Ask customers to give feedback via your website, Google ‘My Business’ page, Yelp or Facebook page. Also check for industry-specific review sites for your business’s sector. Tripadvisor works for hotels, restaurants and other physical establishments. Trustpilot is great for e-commerce as Checkatrade is for tradesmen.

If you are unsure where online to start building reviews, a good place to start would be to Google one of your competitors to find out what they are doing.

Ask for reviews after purchases have been made and services have been delivered.  You could even offer incentives or run competitions to drive more reviews. Just remember to ask for quality, honest reviews instead of encouraging unhelpful fake comments made by customers looking to gain.

How do I deal with bad reviews?

Firstly, a bad review doesn’t mean the death of your business. As a customer about to make a purchase, you’ve more than likely ignored a bad review whilst scrolling through a sea of positive comments. Bare in mind that some people have ridiculously impossible high standards and some just like to have a moan and attract attention to them when given the chance. More often than not, these comments will be taken with a pinch of salt by realistic buyers.

The key thing here is not to ignore negative reviews. Mistakes are bound to happen and acknowledging these will make your brand seem a little bit more human and easier to connect with. Apologise to the customer for their bad experience and attempt to resolve the issue. When people see a genuine willingness to solve issues, it shows you care as a business and promotes a positive image of your brand. It also provides customers with a safety net as they can see you are reachable and responsive should any problems arise.

At the same time, acknowledge positive reviews by thanking those who leave positive comments. Letting them know you appreciate their time and business will certainly earn your brand’s customer service more brownie points.

Before you do anything else, set up Google alerts as this will notify you whenever your business is mentioned anywhere on the web. This can be handy for many marketing strategies but when it comes to online reviews, it gives you a chance to reply to comments promptly. Response time is extremely important when managing reviews, especially the negative ones!

The positive to negative reviews

It might sound silly but a few negative reviews can actually improve your brand’s image. You certainly can have too much of a good thing and a consistent stream of 5 star reviews sometimes looks suspicious. A pinch of negative reviews makes your business look more realistic and human, as well as increase your customer service reputation if you follow the advice above.  

Review your reviews

Reviews aren’t just for customers to make a decision about you. They can be a helpful insight into what works and what doesn’t within your company, so pay attention to them. Receiving a whole bunch of negative reviews is a huge indicator that something is not working. Review the reviews to identify pain points in your business and act on them. Ironing out any bad experiences your customers may have will help increase conversions and lead to better reviews later on.

Get started

Feeling inspired and want to start collecting reviews? Why not contact a handful of your customers today and see what responses you receive and if you need assistance contact us here.

How 3D Virtual Reality is Changing Content Marketing

These customers are using the Internet to follow their favourite brands, both before and after making a purchase. They don’t want to see product advertisements, but rather content that engages them and helps solve their problems.

“Brand value” comes from providing information that gives consumers something to, well, consume. If you happen to have a blog, you’re already content marketing. Though so is everyone else. It’s what’s pushing marketers to come up with new content marketing techniques. For instance, influencer marketing is a valuable offshoot worth checking out. However, today we’re focusing on another content marketing development, virtual reality.

Google’s push into 3D virtual reality is starting to shake up the content marketing world. Providing content that customers can deeply engage with? Yes, please! Getting your foot in the virtual reality door is very important moving forward.

3D virtual reality vs video

The current hot trend in content marketing is video. It’s really no surprise, considering video traffic will account for 80 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2020.

So what does this have to do with 3D virtual reality marketing? Well, everything actually. The interest in video tells us that people are demanding ever-increasing engagement. The desire for increased engagement through video is where VR can swoop in and steal the show.

Virtual reality is essentially shooting video in a special way. Yes, it takes special cameras, but the storytelling element remains. Marketers are already working with production studios to create content marketing videos, so the transition is minimal.

Beyond anecdotal evidence, the data tells the same story. Consumers have made it known that they want virtual reality. 62 percent of consumers would feel more engaged with brands that utilise the VR experience. 71 percent view brands favourable if they use VR.

In a nutshell, virtual reality takes our current video marketing and ups its depth. We already have the tools, we just need to capitalise on them.

VR accessibility

Virtual Reality Marketing Example

Virtual reality is something ripped straight out of a sci-fi film. Most people still have a hard time wrapping their head around the concept. Businesses need to understand that while VR is mind blowing, it’s not all that expensive. The problem is, most people have only heard of the expensive side of 3D virtual reality technology. That’s fairly understandable. Cutting edge tech like the Oculus Rift gets all the press because it’s so mind blowing.

Though to really utilise VR for content marketing, businesses need to understand all of their options. Cheap VR solutions do exist. Just ask Google. Google Cardboard offers the VR experience for under £20. The up-and-coming virtual reality device has sold over 5 million units since its launch in 2014, with sales increasing every year. Just drop in any modern smartphone, fire up a compatible app, and you’re in the virtual reality world.

The extreme accessibility is what marketers need to capitalise on. Any company can create an app that runs on Google Cardboard. An immersive experience like never before is becoming possible. With a few easy steps, you can deliver unthinkably engaging content directly to someone’s living room.

Immersive brand experiences

So far we’ve touched on how virtual reality is a (very much wanted) extension of video, and how accessible it’s becoming. We know that we can deliver cost-effective, high-quality, engaging content that consumers want. That’s great. But how do we utilise it?

Creating 3D virtual reality content that can get your company’s brand in front of consumers is the ultimate end goal. Anything from product demonstrations to store walkthroughs is possible with 3D virtual reality technology.

Let’s break down some hypothetical scenarios to highlight what VR can do for content marketing.

The test drive

Companies that sell products that rely on an experience will love virtual reality content marketing. Imagine that you’re selling cars. What better way to market the driving experience than using a virtual driver’s seat.

Well, Volvo did just that with their Volvo XC90 virtual test drive app; which debuted on the Google Cardboard. People can download the Volvo app to their smartphone and experience a country drive with a full VR cockpit.

My new kitchen

IKEA took a similar approach to Volvo with its Virtual Reality Kitchen Experience. Users can, you guessed it, walk through an entirely IKEA kitchen in VR. The idea gives consumers the best way to experience a fully IKEA kitchen without buying an entire kitchen set.

It seems mundane, but this is amazing content marketing. You can live the brand without having to invest in the brand. Further iterations could let consumers design their own IKEA homes, customising everything to their heart’s desire. It’s pretty much the ultimate in entertaining, problem solving, content.

Anything else you can think of

Virtual Reality Marketing Example

That’s the great part about 3D virtual reality. It’s so versatile that almost any content can have a VR slant. Product demonstrations? No problem. Attending an event from across the country? That’s easy too. Almost any content your brand wants to push can translate to the virtual reality platform.

Google, with one simple cardboard design, has turned content marketing on its head. Instead of blogs and video content, Google is moving us towards “hands-on” demonstrations. No longer are marketers stuck explaining their brand to people. The future of 3D virtual reality content marketing is about letting the consumer live the brand.

Google and other 3D virtual reality companies are quickly changing content marketing as we know it. There’s just nothing quite as engaging as experiencing something in VR. It’s the next best thing to actually living out what you’re seeing. The cheap, accessible nature of virtual reality, combined with its versatility and immersive nature, is propelling the technology to the very forefront of the content marketing world.

If you would like help with any aspect of your content marketing needs, please get in touch with us here.

10 Tips for Successful Website Planning

Whether you’re planning to launch a completely new website, or want to debut a re-launch of your old site, you likely have questions about how to design a site that’s intuitively functional, optimised for search engines, and showcases your products and services in the best light.

Here, we’re offering up the top 10 tips for website planning so you can get off on the right foot.

Website Planning Tip 1: Create a clear plan with achievable goals

We all love to dream big, but if you’re creating or relaunching your website, make sure both your initial design and your growth strategies match your current phase of business.

Start by clearly outlining three specific goals you want your website to achieve. Instead of saying, “I want to let people know about my business,” narrow that focus to “I want to get 100 subscribers to my e-newsletter over the course of 1 month.”

Throughout the planning and implementation phase, refer back to these goals and ask if the task you’re currently working on is in line with them.

Website Planning Tip 2: Find a site host that fits your requirements

Finding the right web host is an enormously important part of planning a successful website – and the reality is that it’s just not an area where you should shop by price.

Web hosting can affect various aspects of your site including speed and security, so it’s definitely worth the investment. A good hosting provider should also provide backups of your website and be readily available should you need to make contact.

Website Planning Tip 3: Optimise your site for lead generation

What good is your website if it is doing nothing for you? Right from the start you need to consider how your site captures leads. What will users do once they’ve landed on your site, and how will you leave them wanting more from your brand?

Include strong call-to-actions, compelling content upgrades and, where appropriate, give them plenty of opportunity to leave their details with you by implementing booking forms, product designers, review forms and email newsletter signups.

Website Planning Tip 4: Make sure your site’s security strategy is in place

Blue rusted padlock

30,000 websites are hacked every day – is yours next? If you haven’t decided on a security strategy for your website, it might be time.

Depending on your biggest security concerns, the type of cyber security you may need will likely vary. Do your research – nothing is worth losing your customer’s trust, or having your reputation ruined because private information has been leaked.

Use the planning stage as a preventative step against hacking. Because by the time it’s too late, you’ll really wish you had.

Website Planning Tip 5: Get your web tracking plan in place

You want to see how much time your visitors spend on your site, the number of hits you’re getting, where your users are coming from, when they’re leaving your site, your most popular landing pages, and everything in between.

You won’t have access to any of this information, which is an invaluable part of growing your business, without a visitor tracking plan in place.

Website Planning Tip 6: Create a backlog of content

Just because you’re launching or relaunching your website doesn’t mean it’s OK to present users with a blank page.

Start drafting blog posts now so that when your new site launches, users will spend more time on your website (helping to improve your search engine rankings), engage with you on social media, and bookmark your site.

Brainstorm topics with your team, hire a content writer if you’re stuck, and create a schedule for the future so you’re not tempted to let your content fall by the wayside when things pick up.

Website Planning Tip 7: Select stellar photos for your site

It’s not just written content that matters – both in terms of rankings and user experience.

Hire a photographer to take pictures for your website or look into buying high quality stock photography.

To help users really connect with your brand, consider having photos of your employees and bios up on your site too – show that you’re “real people.”

Website Planning Tip 8: Create a style guide for your website’s design

Whether you’ve taken a DIY approach to your branding or you have called upon an agency to help, make sure your site’s design is consistent with your brand’s image.

Think about things like typography and font size, line spacing, what colours will represent you best and how repeated elements like buttons will look.

Website Planning Tip 9: Clearly define the pages on your site

Nobody has the time to wade through walls of text on a website to find what they need, and if forced to do so, users will likely bounce from your site onto your competitor’s.

Deciding on the specifics of your internal pages and defining a concise, easy to understand menu will help to ease the navigation on your site.

Make sure you’re including keywords in your page headers and URLs as this can help boost your website rankings.

Website Planning Tip 10: Set up your social media accounts

No matter how annoying you think your friends’ Facebook posts are, when it comes to your business you’re going to have to create social media accounts.

Doing this in the planning stage of your website is crucial not just because you’ll want to feature links to all your accounts on your website.

It really matters because connecting with people you think might use your products or services will help to collect valuable consumer insights and define your target market.

This all matters when deciding which social media platforms to develop the most, plus it can help you optimise your site for your ideal client.

Planning is important

As you can see, website planning is a vital part of creating a successful website. Hopefully these ten tips now give you a clearer picture of how to formulate a strategic plan for your website which will lead to increased traffic and conversions.

Planning in the first stages will also get some of the difficult decisions out of the way early, freeing up more time for you to concentrate on what you do best.

If you do need any further assistance with planning your website, we’d love to hear from you.

Why We Love WP Engine

As a web agency, our clients naturally assume that we can host the websites that we build for them. In reality, the only companies that actually physically ‘host’ websites are the hosting providers themselves, so in effect agencies have to act as a middleman between their clients and their chosen hosting provider. That’s why it’s essential for you that your agency uses a high-quality provider, so that in the event of any problems, you can be confident that they can act on your behalf to get things sorted quickly.

As WordPress specialists, we use WP Engine to host our websites. WP Engine is a dedicated hosting provider, specialising in optimisation, security and support for WordPress websites and as it’s Valentine’s day, what better time to express our love and appreciation? Here’s our top reasons why we fall for WP Engine every time.

Excellent support

Telephones on wall

Communication is key to any great relationship, so when questions need answering your agency will need to provide you with a quick response. WP Engine’s dedicated team are quick to respond, plus your agency will be speaking to a WordPress expert, not just any untrained agent reading from a script. 24/7 phone support and online live chat are also available.

Fast loading times

Website users and search engines love a fast site. As a managed hosting solution, your website’s hosted on top-of-the line dedicated hardware and uses a hand-built WordPress-specific caching system – meaning it can serve webpages up to 10x faster than other hosting providers.

Built in CDN

WP Engine offers the ability to use a Content Delivery Network. This is a collection of servers situated around the globe that are used to load your site’s static content, like images, from the closest server to your browser. Not only does this boost loading times, but maintains speed in heavy traffic.

Increased security

Blue rusted padlock

WordPress updates are made automatically, SSL certificate’s are available, and WP Engine are so confident in their security measures, they guarantee to fix hacked sites for free. There’s plenty of security to avoid the heartache from a hacked website.

Daily backups

Websites are backed up daily, and backups stored offsite. Should the worst happen, your agency should be able to restore your site from a back up in a single click.

Staging area

A staging area is an independent clone of your live production site that can be used to test updates and changes. WP Engine allows these to be created easily, and allows you and other stakeholders to preview any changes before they go live.  Changes can then be easily copied to the live site once approved.

If you’ve fallen in love with WP Engine already, why not share the love on social media?

We saw the benefits of a standing desk. Can you?

How much of your day is spent sitting around? If you’re anything like I used to be, your typical day will look something similar to this:

  1. Drive to work – most likely get stuck in traffic and endure extra sitting.
  2. Spend the majority of the day glued to your computer screen and seat at the office.
  3. Arrive home and lounge on the couch until eventually retiring to bed.

Sound familiar? I used to, like 5 million others still do, spend roughly 12 hours a day sitting down, and if you take into account the 7-8 hours in bed that racks ups to a whopping 20 hours a day being inactive!

“But I go to the gym everyday after work!” I hear you proclaim. I too spend 3-4 evenings a week at various kickboxing and fitness classes. Unfortunately, as more and more studies show, it’s not enough, and that exercise won’t undo the damage done by our chronic sitting.

Take a stand

It is clear that prolonged inactivity is bad. Not only from the aches in our necks and backs, but the mounting evidence highlighting our increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and other ailments the more stationary we are.

So what’s a sitter to do? Taking quick walks or desk exercises are a good place to start, but I highly recommend the standing desk:

Dave and Matt standing at their standing desks

We’re regularly asked about our standing desks by clients who come into the office.

With a press of a button the height adjusts and you can easily switch between sitting and standing.

Speaking from experience

In my previous work placement, I had started having to take days off work, booking more doctors appointments for back pain. My weight also gradually increased, which came as a surprise as I had adopted a much healthier diet and regular exercise routine. Since joining Deuce and taking on a standing desk, my back pain has reduced significantly and weight is slowly returning to what it was.

But don’t just take my word for it. The BBC have carried out numerous experiments on this subject and even shown that the amount of calories burnt off in a year by standing a few extra hours a day equated to running 10 marathons!

For those of you with wearable tech you can even get standing trackers and set goals to get out of your chair. The Apple Watch features a stand ring that tracks any stand over a minute whilst the Fitbit will remind you to stand every hour.

A worthy investment

I only stand for about 1-2 hours a day but feel much healthy and happier for it. I’m proud to say I haven’t taken a single sick day and if I start to feel tired, standing up to work helps me feel rejuvenated.  In 2014, the UK took 10 million working days sick leave for back pain – resulting in a £1 billion loss of earnings. A standing desk may seem like a frivolous spend, but compared to the amount saved on sick days or extra profits brought in by increased working efficiency it’s definitely worth it. And it doesn’t have to cost the earth to upgrade – Ikea now sell them in a range of colours to suit most offices.

Adapting offices

Standing desks have definitely become more popular, and we’re even starting to see further developments to aid movement around the office desk and keep workers active:

DEvelopers on standing desks with treadmill

These treadmill desks may well be our next purchase!

We took the stand and are seeing the benefits. Could your business do the same?