Over the years the internet has gone through some dramatic changes. Much development has gone into making the web open for all and not just trained designers and developers. Its the obvious progression and has allowed millions of website to flourish and business owners the ability to take control of their own online channels. No longer do you need to know HTML or become a expert Photoshop user. Everyone can take great photos, write good copy and build their own website with systems like WordPress or Squarespace.
Where does that leave companies like ours? Can we survive by doing what we were doing 6 or even 2 years ago? In our opinion no, and we have to move with the times and support our clients by offering them the best solution that will allow them to get the most out of their online channel. That might be through advising them on which CMS to use, or creating a robust and flexible email template.
A while back we used to do a lot of work with email design and production. We would design and code the emails for marketing teams. Things have changed now and more often than not these teams now manage their own campaigns and work from predefined templates that we create for them. You still need a good design and well constructed HTML emails that have been tested but we are not needed to actually add in copy or links, or an image.
We consider ourselves as WordPress experts and we use this system because it has fantastic tools and is so easy to use. Its also very well supported by the web design and development community.
BUT, websites do not write their own copy or blog by themselves. They do not automatically engage with customers and write comments on other sites or update themselves. All this must be handled properly and managed with a clear set of objectives that are achievable and realistic. We can design and build a website that looks fantastic but we can’t make old copy look new or magic up new visits if nothing has changed on a website.
Fortunately our customers are pretty good at doing this and have really embraced the features that come with our websites.
Let’s take one example Pippa Jameson Interiors.
This critically acclaimed WordPress blog has developed over the past 5 years into a trusted source for interiors trends in the UK and abroad. The website attracts on average 15,000 unique visitors a month. What’s her secret? Bloody hard work and great content regularly updated. It didn’t come easily at the start but over the years the site and Pippa have won numerous prizes.
The trick is to continue to evolve with your audience. Don’t be scared to try something new. Work on your tone of voice, practise writing, take photos and video. Connect with your customers and ask them to contribute and tell you what they are doing.
With the success of websites like this and continued development of systems like WordPress we hope to be able to continue offering our services and support to help setup many other SME’s or individuals with great ideas with their own websites for years to come.
If you would like to discuss your website and see how we can help then get in touch. Contact Stuart Edwards at email@example.com
So you’re a business in the market for a new website. You already know that having the best open source content management system would enable your business to edit the content of your website, maintain it and be able to get good quality support. Which CMS should you choose and how do you go about doing so?
You’re not a developer, so the technical aspects really shouldn’t concern you, what should concern you is the ease of use, reliability and cost of maintenance. These three are the most important factors and millions of companies have already made this choice. When it comes WordPress powers over 17.4% of all websites in the world. The second most popular CMS is Joomla at 2.7% and Drupal at 2.3%. (Stats taken from W3Techs and are correct as of 28th Feb 2013.)
What these stats mean for your business is the fact that you will have the largest developer resource available at the most competitive prices and you will always be able to easily find some help with WordPress either as tips, videos or live support within a few minutes of googling.
Here at By the Scruff, we focus on WordPress web development and use it in 99% of the websites that we build, this website is also built and managed through WordPress. Find out more about our WordPress design service
The use of smartphones to access emails is souring. According to a recent survey carried out by Return Path between 2010 and 2012 the use of mobiles to access emails has increased by 300%, and now nearly half of all emails received are read on mobile devices. According to Google 62% of smartphone users that use the internet on their phone use it to access their email; this accounts for more than those that use their mobiles for social networking or search engines (source: Google: Our Mobile Planet).
With these sorts of statistics you can see why optimising emails for mobile devices is crucial for email marketing. In this article I will take you through some of the aspects we consider when we produce email campaigns for both desktop and mobile; we call this responsive email design.
Email for mobile and desktop
When putting together an email you have to consider how it is going to appear on both the desktop and the mobile, how it is going to render across different email clients, and which elements and call-to-actions you wish to capture the audience. If an email does not display correctly 69.7% will delete it immediately. (Source: BlueHornet ‘Consumer Views of Email Marketing’ (2012))
Below is an example of one of our responsive emails for the London Review of Books. It shows how the email appears on the desktop in comparison to the iPhone. When designing for the smaller screen it is best practice to eliminate horizontal scrolling. We develop the email to rearrange different elements into an easy to scroll format, in addition we are able to change the text size and spacing so that it is easier to read on smaller screens.
There are also other things we need to take into consideration, such as the size of the call-to-action buttons and linked text. It is very difficult to select small buttons and links with your fingers accurately when compared to using a cursor, therefore we ensure the spacing and positioning of elements are ideal for both desktop and mobile.
Hiding Items / Navigation
We are also able to remove elements from the mobile version that may make it too cluttered and/or force the user to scroll unnecessarily and consequently distracting your audience from the main call to action. In the example above we remove the ribbon pattern in the mobile version to keep the size and quality of the logo. In the example below we remove the navigation and change the layout of the headline to remove any need to scroll horizontally.
Another new development in technology is retina display. If your email is not designed with retina display in mind, your customers with the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and any future Apple devices will see your images displayed at a low resolution. We take this in mind and code in higher resolution images that appear crystal clear on your retina device.
When compared to other forms of digital marketing email is more lucrative. Email outperforms social-media advertising three to one, according to the Direct Marketing Association (source: Business Week Article), and with mobile use growing at its current rate marketers should not ignore the potential for responsive email campaigns.
The web has evolved from the old days when most web sites were built to a max width of 800px to a state where the number of resolutions that must be considered by a designer is too large to count.
Some don’t understand this idea or don’t care about it enough and build exclusively for the desktop environments and the larger screens. iPads and iPhones have built up a market share too large to be ignored.
There are various ways and various approaches to building cross-platform web applications. One site and one html can be supplied to mobile and dektop environments, but may look completely different when looked at in the different browsers.
In this series I will review different websites and approaches to making your website work on different devices.
Here’s a video recording of the website adapting to resolution changes:
People receive their email in a wide variety of ways. Some through desktop email applications such as Outlook, some through their browsers on websites such as Gmail and Hotmail, and more and more often through their phones and tablet devices. That is why when we design and code emails it is important to ensure that they work and format correctly across a wide selection of email clients.
Previously that meant having a huge number of email accounts, desktop applications and a selection of devices, and spending a lot of time. Not anymore! Thanks to Litmus we can test our emails across a wide range of email clients with a few clicks. Litmus allows you to preview what your email will look like in all the major (and minor) browsers, websites and devices.
Each email client renders HTML emails differently, so with Litmus we can quickly see any differences and adjust the code accordingly. Therefore we can assure our clients that their email will display correctly across all the major email clients and a wide range of devices.
A good while ago, I posted a little review of BrowserLab, a tool I believed was irreplaceable to any template coder. I was wrong.
BrowserStack is the most refined in-browser testing software that I’ve seen on the market. It’s free to try for an hour and the paid subscription is not gonna break any budgets, but the value it brings is absolutely irreplaceable.
You are able to test your website in all the browsers that you wish, using a virtual environment. Here’s an example of me doing exactly that.
Quality control is a top priority here at ByTheScruff and we appreciate great tools that enable us to test our web sites more efficiently. If you think your testing suite is better or have some project that you would like us to help you with, please get in touch with us.
WordPress has always been one of the top platforms for bloggers, due to its simplicity and extendability, however the last 2 years have shown us that blogging is just the tip of the iceberg and jumping down the WordPress rabbit hole can lead to some outstanding websites.
The ability to add hierarchical pages as well as a very user friendly menu manager turned the development focus from a purely blogging platform into something much more flexible.
However a good CMS needs more. A good CMS absolutely must enable the user to create various content bits that can be used in various areas around the website, custom fields have been in WordPress for a very long time now, but they were never user friendly. They were never easy to use for casual bloggers or the people who only update their websites once a month.
Developing custom interfaces to wrap these custom fields was a long and tedious task, so in the interest of saving costs companies would usually resort to using half baked plugins, which tried to do just that. The choice was pretty limited and the plugins never quite did everything you need. There was always a but. Until now.
ByTheScruff recently started deploying a plugin that we have had our eyes on for quite a while now and it has yet to give us one good reason not to use it in production. The plugin is “Advanced Custom Fields“, it provides a beautifully designed interface that makes creating really simple and good looking custom field panels an absolute breeze. There is support for every imaginable field type and it even allows the creation of data streams via its “Repeater” field functionality.
Below are 2 screenshots for a text quote carousel that we are using on one of the sites that we have built using Advanced Custom Fields, the image on the left is how we create the actual field set and the one on the right is how our clients will edit and update them, it doesn’t get easier than this:
So if you are interested in setting up or overhauling a website for your business, a well-developed WordPress site might be just what you need. Give us a shout on 0207 033 4269 or drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be glad to help you.