Thursday, February 26, 2015

Expansion Plans Afoot

We're excited and getting more excited every day, the work continues to flow our way and we have you our clients to thank for that.  There's a lot to do and the beginning of 2015 has seen us in a flying start to the New Year.  I suspect the only reason it still feels like a New Year because time is literally flying past.

All good signs so it is time to take a small step back and decide just what is going on, mostly it's a reiteration of some core services and new ones:

  • Content is king and it seems our support for clients and their website is paying off... we maintain virtually all the websites we build, this is a win win for everyone as we chop, change and manage your websites.  You get the SEO boost you need, the website is a vibrant and on-going asset to your business and we can do all the background work.

    Our Service: is to maintain and manage your website long after it's been built.
  • Fulfilment is one the cards, we do so much work for eCommerce websites, often small start ups that need to organise more than just their websites, so we can store, pick, pack and post products for clients.

    This is a completely new service but is a completely natural progression for us, we often become so involved in Customer Care, Business Processes, Order Management that to actually put products in the post seems obvious.  And we have the space to store masses of product if needed.
  • SEO has never been in such demand, but it's a tough game, we admit it and the one thing we can't afford to do is under-estimate the value of Content... We've changed our prospective on SEO and how we go about doing it - we need your understanding on this, it less about keywords and ranking and more about getting sales and conversion.

    Expect more change in SEO and the product offering we supply.
  • CMS, we're used to a whole variety of ways to update a website, from Shopify to Magento for eCommerce, through to WordPress, Joomla and Basic HTML we can do them all.

    But the time has come to concentrate on our own in-house CMS - known to some of you already as Fyneworks or FWX.  This application is improving in functionality in leaps and bounds and the power of the system out ranks any other system we've seen and can be applied to the smallest website to the largest eCommerce solution.

    What started as a simple per need solution has developed into something without limits.
All in all, I'm sharing ideas of how we can help you further.  Busy we are, but equally we moving into new territory where we can make website, better, faster and with more bells and whistles than ever before.

Our mantra has always been 'putting business on the 'Net', the idea being that we take solid, proven ideas and make then happen for clients, but for the first time I'm getting the real feeling that we're moving ahead of ourselves with the ideas and innovations we're starting to use.

Hopefully a bright Summer awaits us.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Google's Rough Future

To all my clients be aware - this blog is aimed directly to you more than anyone else, so here's some plain English tit bits for you.

Google may be on the wane - for the first time ever it lost market share in the USA where it's always been in the 70%ish region.  Bing and other search engines have made far more in roads into Google's Search in the USA because unlike here in the EU, when you get a new computer it is automatically loaded to default to Bing.

Here in Europe following some Anti-Trust cases Microsoft was forced to load an extra start up choice so that when people brought a new computer they were given options about using Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer - as you can imagine a lot of people switched to Google and that has given Google a significant boost in the EU.  Google now boasts about 96% market share of Search.  We in the UK Google pretty much everything.

But, then along comes Mobile - and sure the main two mobile types are Apple (IOS) and Google (Android) - Google knew this was coming and have done everything they can to benefit from it.  However the upsetting piece of information for Google is that people are searching for less. They prefer to play their games on this mobiles rather than look for things.

Now let's look at Google monster revenues - 5Billion a quarter - it's a massive 'cash cow' - but 90% of that is driven by Google's Adwords Advertising system - you place you Advert in your words, selecting your chosen keywords and set at a price you're willing to pay. It's a very powerful proposition for advertisers, the only really danger is if someone else advertises on the same keywords as you.

However, with around half of all time spent on the Internet is via a Mobile phone - and as the 'Internet' isn't quite so cool on a Mobile, fewer people are searching, fewer people are finding those Adverts and Google despite giving you Android for free is actually collecting less revenues.

An additional factor is that Google charges slightly more to advertise on a Mobile - thus many advertisers are ignoring Mobile (fewer returns anyway) and concentrating on Desktop.

You can begin to see Google's worries... as more and more of us turn to Mobile instead of the Internet so Google's revenues will slow down.  And more worries are on the way, for Google, as advertisers realise their customers are all on their Mobiles they will look to ways to get the adverts on a Mobile and here enters Facebook.  Around 50% of all time spent on the internet on Mobiles is spent on the Facebook App, that is something that will only increase with time.

There isn't really a solution here - Google's revenue are forecast to stall or reduce - but what is revealing and on huge interest is that now we are starting to understand why Google is investing in Wearable Tech like Google Glass, Driverless Cars, High Speed Internet into people homes and all the other super cool things they do.

They know at Google headquarters that they are on borrowed time with their current Advertising model.

Caveat - Google Glass has been closed down on the grounds that it was too 'uncool', you can see just how sensitive Google is to a product that can be described as 'uncool'.  It's a small word that could potential destroy a massive company like Google very very quickly.
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Friday, January 16, 2015

2015 - 5 Predictions of what we're in for!

Happy New Year to all those we haven't yet wished it on, I hope 2015 will be as good and fruitful as ever.  Here's a quick if not belated round of up some of the things we might expect in the Website world.

  1. Social Media - for the last few year with the rise of social media and blogging - emphasis has been significantly on getting out there and getting your name onto those websites. The ROI has been questionable, but that not fully the point, it's more a case of corporate entities are swamping peoples personal spaces and this is switching people off using Social Media.

    On top of this companies are understanding that they don't own their data or customers on Social Media and other websites.

    Prediction: We will see growing mistrust of social media and fewer benefits for ordinary companies.  This will gather momentum slowly at first.
  2. Re-focus on Website - Now that Social Media and Blogging are set up - it will be time for businesses to refocus their efforts on their own websites, technologies in this area are expanding fast and with Google requiring ever more 'fresh content' to boost websites - Companies will need to get their Content Strategies in line.

    Prediction: A lot more work to keep websites updated, current and fresh.  Redesigns will be prolific - if you look at High Street brands - those that got their website right had the highest growth last year.
  3. IoT (Internet of Things) - New-comer to the block - we're going to see a huge rise in where the Internet reaches - we've heard about it for ages, Smart Fridges and Connected Cars - but this is becoming increasingly main stream.

    Yes - Google has ditched it's Google Glass - but only because the hardware didn't look right. In reality the places we will see the IoT's is in cars, on planes, in hotel rooms, taxis, and of course on our Mobiles

    Prediction: It's all gathering pace, the biggest selling gadgets of 2014 were wearable tech, wrist bands, watches.  This will continue right through to next Christmas
  4. Security - We had the first inklings of change as Google started supporting HTTPS and some pretty major flaws in Internet security surfaced last year.  This year we're going to have to take security of our websites far more seriously.

    Increasing amounts of the services we use are with fewer companies, exposing our data to more risk of being hacked or stolen, suppliers of services will increase security and we will have to follow suit.

    Prediction: Expect more passwords and 2 step entry to websites and services you use.
  5. Email Wars - No longer Browser Wars (although that is a battle waiting to resurface) - this year will see Google and Outlook.com increase the stakes - all ready we resell both services to end clients, but both services are good, both make sense, both offer email on the go - from multiple devices and both come with a dozen extras.

    But will the concept of charging X per month per email address really work for the smaller consumer - not all the issues are ironed out yet and there is a lot to compete for.

    Prediction: People will continue to move away from self hosted or corporate hosted email - if you want to use a Domain Name in your email - it would be no bad thing to subscribe to either Google or Outlook.com and people will be forced to it because of their need to have email reliability on the go.
And those are our main five predictions for 2015, much builds on last year - fundamentally we're seeing more consolidation between the biggest players, Google, Microsoft, Apple, the rise of Gadgets will only get bigger, yet we will increasingly become aware that our data is being used by these companies and there will be resentment for that.
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Friday, December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

So - my plan for Christmas an ALL NEW NCompass Website - leave a comment to show your support for this idea.

In reality - it's been an amazing run up to Christmas, we've worked hard, done more and been more organised than ever before.  And I think that has reflected in many of our clients expectations and results.

A well earned rest for everyone I hope.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's all about Conversion Rates

A couple walk into a Restaurant, sit down and order... how many people walk into a Restaurant, sit down and leave - probably less than 5% - Right?

Someone walks into shop, they're after something, could be something useful (most people buy what they need), could be spur-of-the-moment if the products good enough they'll buy it... I wonder what percentage walk out empty handed.

A website gets 1000 visitors a month... if you're lucky you'll get 20 orders or enquiries, more likely you'll get 10.

So what is it about the other 980 visitors that they didn't like you enough to buy something.  By any standards you care to measure that is a staggering number of people that have taken the time to look you up, either via Google or typed in your web address or responded to some action you've taken.

They've entered the 'shop' so to speak.  Sure, it's not going to suit everyone, but 98% of people seems staggeringly high.

  • The ease of saying no
    This is the traditional excuse - people shop around - I'm now going to make you think - when did you last 'shop-around'?  The fact is we don't actually shop around that much do we.  Obviously we have to treat this case by case, we just go to Amazon and order the product.

    In fact the opposite is true the higher the cost value of your product - the more likely it is people will visit your website after a recommendation or some specific prompt.  Take Holidays - you don't randomly decide to visit somewhere, you have a reason to go where you want.

    I could list lots of examples, but the truth should be that people shop around a lot less than we are led to believe.
  • Stumbling Blocks
    Now here's something I can relate to - frustration with websites, can't work out how to use then, can't see the product properly, don't want to pay that extra costs.

    Again though I have to question this - most websites these days are reasonably easy to understand and if you want a product badly enough you'll put up with whatever quirks you come across.

    Couple that with the fact that more and more young web-savvy people are coming online all the time and 'grey-surfers' themselves are learning the ropes pretty well these days.
  • Robots & Machines
    I can also relate to this - the truth of why so many people visit your website and appear to do nothing (Bounce Rate) or very little could be because machines are accessing our website.

    If 80%-90% of all email is Spam - then we can extrapolate that probably most traffic on the in junk and that most of the thousands of visitors to your website are junk.

    That is a very sorry state of affairs and something that is not easy to rule out.  But really, can we believe this?  Do you know anyone who runs a computer that visits billions of websites for no apparent reason?  Is it the Chinese, I mean why?

    Humans have interacted with each other for millions of years - why this sudden desire to know about a website selling Uggs in Australia, it just doesn't actually make sense.
So, back to the 'Conversion Rates' - what can I say, 1%, 2%, 5%, all that matters is that your conversion rates go up and not down.  Every thing you do to make your website better (removing stumbling blocks) will help.  But equally everything you can do to make your website stop doing worse will also help (do you really need traffic from the Philippines?)

If we think about - we can work at this from the other direction - we can block and stop traffic that is a waste of time... Who are all these people that visit the website and do nothing, it's a bit like sending a mailshot through the post to addresses that don't exist.

We love that number, 1000 visitors per month... but if they are 980 visitors that don't do anything - what then?

The point is, if you get your Conversion Rate up to 5% or even 10% that will have far more effect on your over all activities than virtually any other statistic.  You'll be 'on-message' to the 'right-audience' and able to satisfy their needs far more easily.

Note: SEO prompt - We believe here that Google now measure activity within your website - if they can 'tell' that you are satisfying a clients needs via a sale or an enquiry then Google will give credit to you for that.  Equally if you are getting a ton of traffic from some dodgy source, surely Google can tell that as well.

The point being - working on your Conversion Rate will conversing see a huge rise in the right kind of traffic to your website because Google will like you better.
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Viral Marketing our first effort

Have you shared, liked, clicked or laughed at some 90 second funny video.  Of course you have, humans are emotive creatures and we love a laugh and a bit of sentimentality.

Well now we're having a a go at that very same thing.  This is the first in series of what we hope will be fun and edgy little videos designed to provoke a small reaction to be shared and to ultimate raise awareness of a brand.  it's all great fun.

Please take a moment to watch the Video and then feel free to share it with your friends and family.  It pure entertainment.


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Friday, October 17, 2014

Future of Web Design

I think I'm working this out - your thoughts are welcome.

Like with every Industry the IT/Internet/Web Industries are growing up, computers aren't what they were, Mobile phone can do 'everything' and all the pioneers of programming stuff are reaching their fifties or even thinking about retiring.

So where are we all going.  We have to look pragmatically and realistically at what is going on around us, we've just experienced or we're in the tail of of a human era like no other, the last 20 years of the Personal Computer have created a revolution in creativity and freedom of expression.  We can visit almost any website we like and contribute and if that wasn't enough we can easily learn the skills to make our own website - these days it's more on a par with cooking than learning French, anyone can do it.

But will this last - I'm not at all spelling out a doom and gloom here - but with Tablets and Phones massively taking the place of our PC's and grey boxes in the corner of the room - we are losing some of our ability to build and create our own websites and thus in reality we're also giving up some of our freedom of expression.

Of course - there will be plenty of other ways to express what we want to say and probably only a fraction of web users ever bothered to make their own website.  But none-the-less something in our ability to have complete freedom will disappear.

Examples:

  • We seen this happen to the car industry - most of our grandparents would happily get under a car and try to fix it, in fact cars were so unreliable they had to.  These days cars are better built - but you can't service them you need to go to a Garage.
  • Our teenagers currently learn a lot about computing and that's great - but as they use Tablets and iPhones more and more - a bit like the old VHS machines - they won't know what it is like to work n a Desktop computer.  They'll lose a vital skill in learning how this Internet thing works
  • Rise of the banks - as usual money drives most things - instead of making your own website from scratch and hooking it into a Bank so you can take payments will gradually become a thing of the past.  Instead you'll buy into a 'system' and insert your bank details and some will happen behind the scenes to make it all work.
So what does this all mean, I don't think it will effect the ways people express themselves particularly, but there will be consequences:
  • Cost - it will definitely cost more to set up a website, yes there will always be 'free', but if you want to sell something or actually 'do' something it will cost more.  Also if you want to be successful (i.e. have more than just a hobby website) then it will cost significantly more.
  • Web Designers and IT skilled people - because things will be more reliable and when you 'buy' into a system in theory it should be easier - but we'll experience a further shortage of people will the skills required.  There simply aren't enough learning how it all works to cater for the demand.  Take away the fundamentals of learning how computers work (which will happen to some degree) and you will get even fewer skilled IT people.
My greatest fear is that websites are set to rise in price dramatically.  You'll buy into a 'system' like www.wordpress.com or www.shopify.com, but very quickly you'll need to pay for some expertise and it will be significantly more expensive than today.

As a comparison we could be looking at the medical profession where you can get most things for free(ish) on the NHS - but actually if you want something extra you have to go private and then the numbers are simply staggering.

Does this spelt out some good news for Website Designers - not really, instead of getting a full eCommerce website up and running for £3000 (approx) and making sure the website is all singing and dancing... it's going to cost £15,000 and there's going to be a heck of a lot more to take into account.

We here already cater for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus by default, not to mentions a vast array of 3rd party services for everything from hosting, statistics through to advertising and seo.  As we need to plug into more and more of these systems - so to will our time, intelligence and skill be tested more and more.

In fact the pressure for website designers will be to take on fewer clients for more money, exasperating the already considerable shortage of skilled IT people.

As I said at the beginning, I'm working this out, in terms of the future, I do see plenty of ways that people will self express on the website, that is not at issue, but I also see a significantly higher cost to market, fewer IT professionals which will ultimately lead to fewer, but better websites.

Supply and demand runs everything of course - but I suspect I'll retire before there is a seriously disruptive industry that will shake all this up again and that is a bit of a shame,



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