Thursday, 06 March 2014 10:25

The Social Courier

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Hello Courier,

This wee issue has been mildy annoying me for a good year or so now, so I figured I'd just write a wee bit to help you sort it out.

Every time one of your news articles is published on your site without a lead image - i.e. it's just text, then whenever it is shared on social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn, this image appears next to it:

Courier's placeholder image

Here it is on Facebook:

Courier Open Graph On Facebook

and again:
No branding

and making an appearance on LinkedIn:

Courier Open Graph On LinkedIn

It looks like a test image left over from site development. The numbers 625 & 374 are the dimensions of the image in pixels.

It's happening because there's a bit of code in your site that calls this as pic as the default 'open graph' image - open graph being Facebook's site markup of choice to help them determine which image goes with the content on the page:

content="http://www.thecourier.co.uk/media/courier/resource/temp/625x374.gif"/>

So when no specific image is defined by your content management system, it defaults to this.

It's offputting, not good for your brand, and looks rubbish, so here's a fix.

Just download this image which has the exact same dimensions and filename as the offending one:

Then upload it to your server to thecourier.co.uk/media/courier/resource/temp/and overwrite the old one.

Then your brand will show alongside every text based news article and I can find something else trivial to get annoyed by.

Cheers,
Mark

P.S. Ideally you should change the code and upload a default image that's at least 1200x630 pixels, but this is a decent workaround for now...

Monday, 30 December 2013 00:00

Topsoil E-Commerce Site

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Recently finished and published, here's Turffit Topsoil - a fully responsive magento e-commerce site focussed on topsoil, with a host of supporting content and technical optimisation.
Friday, 18 October 2013 13:28

Digital Analytics Fundamentals: Passed

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The Google Analytics Academy has introduced a new course (this is the fundamental one - more advanced to follow). Anyway - I passed it earlier and figured I should probably put it on my poor neglected blog (working on something good for the blog in the meantime though - stay tuned!). Digital Analytics Certificate
Thursday, 01 August 2013 17:06

Website Design

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Web Design

When I first meet up with a potential client, I'll always ask them to show me some sites with designs that they already like, so I can get a feel for the sort of thing they're looking for.

For me, interpreting a client's vision of what they'd like their new site to look like without that sort of guidance and visual signposting becomes next to impossible. The good thing is that we don't need to know the actual visual web design brief to get started - we never start with how it'll look, always with how it will match your online customer base.

Before we start building a site, we work on online market research and structural planning to ensure that each page will target a term that is used by the client's target market - be it specific to the service or product they provide, or have a more informational feel to it.

This type of research lets us make sure that the site is actually going to be useful, and is going to match the intent of the client's market, so the term 'website design' for us is much more than just picking a colour scheme - it's about how we'll split out every aspect of your business to ensure if you can provide it, the people searching for it will find out that you do. It's about ensuring that you provide all the information a potential customer needs in order to decide to make that first contact and get in touch or make a purchase, and it's about showing off your expertise in such a manner that the site becomes an authority within your market.

Web Development

The vast majority of people use the term 'web design' as an umbrella term that incorporates the actual development of a site. When we're building a site however, they're fairly distinct parts of the process.

This wasn't always the case - used to be that design and content were intertwined, and as such, whenever you wanted to change a bit of text on your site, your website designer had to adjust the design elements of the site to suit. This was pretty time intensive stuff, so when cascading style sheets (CSS) and content management systems arrived on the scene allowing us to separate content and styling, it heralded a new era where users could add or edit content without needing to know their way round html or photoshop.

So when we look at a website build process, we start with the planning - the keyword research, structural plan and content generation, than we consider the platform - content management system, dedicated e-commerce or hybrid, and we create a database for the content and start to create the structural elements that contribute to the functionality of the site itself. The flexibility of content management systems and their ability to be restyled while keeping the same content means they can stay fresh with regular updates, and our clients can add news & blogs or edit page content easily, and for that reason, we simply don't do website design for static websites anymore - everything is content managed.

There are multiple factors that affect the design of a website once we understand the market and the platform - what do your competitors do that you like, what aspects can we include to maximise conversion of traffic into leads when that traffic arrives, and what is the best way to guide users to the desired action. All of this is dependent on the online marketing goals of the business itself. Are we looking for a quick sale, an enquiry, or raising awareness about a cause or brand? All these aspects are important, which is why the 'which sites do you like the look of' question, really just gives us a direction - a lot of the time, we can improve on what we're shown as the sites may be aesthetically pleasing, but that isn't necessarily imply that they are commercially successful.

Successful web design is much more than a visual process; it's the development of a carefully researched and constructed market-led tool that achieves specific goals. Goals that are usually in line with an organisations overall marketing strategy. As such, you should also be considering how your existing marketing strategy would integrate into your site, but that's something we'll look at in another blog.

Thanks for reading,

Mark

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