Responsive website design - what is it?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Mobile usage is continuously growing. Websites are finding it hard to keep up with all the different devices and screens.

Responsive website design is a solution to this problem.

In simple terms it means that the website 'responds' to the device screen size it is on. This website is responsive. If you view it on a desktop with a large screen you will see that it expands to fill the whole screen. If you then try the site on your ipad you will find that it looks very similar but has condensed the content a little to fit perfectly within the screen. Now when you switch to an iphone or Android smart phone you will see that the site has changed quite dramatically. The menu across the top has become a menu icon which can be expanded on tap. The overall layout has become much more vertical, one column rather than a few columns. 

The important thing with responsive design is that there is only one website with all the content in it, but it responds cleverly to the users device. 

It is a lot more work for web designers like us, but the end result is really worth it. Stats show that over 70% of mobile users switch to a competitor if they find the site they are looking at is not mobile friendly.

Is your site responsive? Is it mobile friendly?

6 things that must be on your homepage

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Your website is often the first port of call for a potential customer, when they get to your site you only have a matter of seconds to make an impact. There are a number of things that people look out for and are proven to make a huge difference on the relationship with the website visitor.

I have been very surprised to find huge businesses failing on these basic principles, so even though they sound incredibly obvious they aren’t.

Here is the list of 6 key things that must be on your homepage:

1. Clear contact information
Many people visit your website just to get in touch with you, make it as easy as possible to call you or email you directly from your homepage. Don’t make the visitor search around for your contact details, put them clearly on the top right if possible.
Stats show that by having a telephone number clearly on your website you instantly increase customer trust in the site.

2. Your unique selling proposition

If you have a USP then make it clear on your homepage, if you don’t then at least explain what you do clearly and concisely. Remember to speak to the visitor with simple words that they will understand.

3. Clear navigation
People need guiding around your site, so help them. Give them the 3 or 4 most popular options. I normally recommend clients to think of the top 4 reasons someone would visit their website, make those options clearly visible as soon as they get to your site.

4. Good images
Images can make a massive difference on first impressions of a company. You should have good quality and well taken photographs showing what it is that you do.

5. Call to action
Ideally you should have some call to action that includes the visitor giving you their email address in exchange for some information, eg. a free guide, a newsletter or some other free gift.
This means that you can begin to convert your visitors into leads.

6. Social media links
A recent experiment showed that a florist who displayed their facebook likes on a prominent section of their website increased customer trust by 44%. If you are using social media (you should be) then make it easy to connect with you by displaying this on your homepage.

Make sure your site is doing as much work as it can, so you don't have to.

Easy tips to make your emails more effective

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, March 28, 2012
We all use email so much that it can actually eat up all our free time. With our mobiles receiving emails and the Ipad too, you can’t seem to escape from them.

Over the years I have learnt many ways of improving my efficiency. I would like to share some useful tips with you, on how you can improve your emails.

Your email signature.


If you are constantly having to type the ending to all your emails, eg: Regards or Thanks – you can put that into your signature.

Make sure your signature is on all initial emails and that it includes all your relevant contact details. It can be really frustrating when you can’t find a persons phone number and you have loads of their emails.

Your Inbox


I have been to visit many clients who have shown me their Outlook with thousands of emails in the Inbox. That scares me. I have seen Outlook crash when there were simply too many emails in the Inbox. When Outlook crashes it can be very distressing!
It takes a few seconds to create folders and then you can organise your emails and keep your inbox clean. I try to leave only things I have pending in my inbox, when it builds up I find sometime to get things done and it all cleaned up again.

Writing emails


To me this is the area that is most important. Some people are extremely brief in their emails and in their SMS messages, others write whole books. I think a comfortable comprise is needed.
After you have said the usual pleasantries, get straight to the point, and make it extremely clear. Try and say everything you need so that the other person will definitely understand, rather than leave any guessing. Here is an example.

Client emails me, or even worse sends me an SMS:

Hi Julian,
My website isn’t working.
Please fix.


There are a few assumptions here:
1. I know which website he is referring to
2. That I know who he is
3. That I have all his contact details

The more effective way to right this email would be:

Hi Julian,

My website www.domain.com is not working. This page shows an error – www.domain.com/about.htm
Can you please fix this?

John Smith
ABC Limited
Tel: 2000000
Email: john@domain.com
Web: www.domain.com

When you write the email try to think of the questions that may arise from the message you are sending and answer them. 

Another typical example is in arranging meetings:

Hi Julian,
Can you meet up next week?

--
Yes, sure when is best for you?
--
Wednesday or Thursday
--
Ok Wednesday morning?
--
What time?
--
11am
--
Sorry can’t. How about 12?
--
Ok 12 it is. At my office or yours?
--
Mine is better.
--
Ok. Wednesday at 12 at your office.
--
Ok see you then.

That’s 11 messages which could have been done in 3. Lets see:

Hi Julian,
Can you meet up next week, I am free on Wednesday and Thursday morning, except for 11-11.30 on Wednesday. It would be best in my office as I have something to show you.

--
Sure, let’s make it Wednesday at 12 at your office. Ok?
--
Great. See you then.

Summary:


• Be specific
• Be clear
• Try not to leave questions open ended
• Explain what you need to in order to avoid unnecessary questions

These are just a few tips that can help you make your emailing quicker, easier and more effective. Let me know any tips that you use to improve your email efficiency, by commenting below.

Choosing a good business name

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Names are very important, some people believe that you are defined by your name. There are plently of books which explain the meaning of each name and a lot of parents use these books before naming their children ( I know we did). With a business it is very common to use your own name or something to do with Gibraltar. That can be good but can also mean you get lost in a large array of businesses with similar names. Here are some tips to help you select your business name.

1. Keep it simple.If you company name is too hard to spell, or difficult to pronounce or remember you are making things difficult for yourself. At the beginning it is best to have a simple name that people can remember.


2. Describe what you do.Your name or at least part of it should describe what you do, an easy test is to tell someone the name and ask them if they know what the company does. As in all marketing keeping things simple and clear is the best way. 

3. Choose the right tone.Is your company very corporate and serious? Or youthful and fun? The name should help to set the tone of the work that you do, this helps the right people to identify with the company.

4. Don't limit yourself too much. Although describing what you do in your name is good, it can also limit what you offer in the future, try and choose something that is descriptive but quite open for future business expansion.


5. Sleep on it. Once you have decided a name, sleep on it and look at it freshly the next day. This is a great test for any creative ideas. Having a good rest will help you to look at it from a more neutral point of view.

6. Add something memorable. If your business tone allows you to, you should try to add something a little different. In our case we chose Piranha Designs. Piranha is not something common and is quite unusual, people remember it. The Designs part describes what we do without limiting us to one particular area of design. 

7. Be careful about using your own name. It can be very good to use your own name for the business but you need to try and think long term. Maybe you want to sell the business in the future, or things don't go so well and your name is always associated with the company. It is best to be very sure before connecting yourself in such a powerful way.

There are always exceptions to these rules, that still work incredibly well. Google, Yahoo etc are perfect examples of this. These are just some thoughts and suggestions for smaller businesses, that have proven to be useful. If you have any other ideas or things to add to this list, please let me know, or add a comment below.

We have moved to new offices, wish they were like Google's - VIDEO

Piranha Designs - Saturday, September 03, 2011

4 reasons to use Facebook to promote your business

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Facebook is taking over the internet. It is transforming the way people behave and interact online. Even if you don’t like Facebook or the idea of social media, it is fast becoming a necessity. Here are four reasons why you should consider using Facebook to promote your business.

1. Communication

It can be very difficult and expensive to communicate quickly with your clients and prospects. Maybe you need to print something out, or send emails. With Facebook you can spread a message extremely quickly and totally free. The best thing about it is that your Fans/Friends can also share that with their friends.

2. Awareness

Facebook have an effective and very affordable advertising system. You can specify exactly what type of person you wish to target, their location, age etc. Then you only pay per click, so you know every penny is being spent wisely. This can be a great way to build brand awareness.

3. Listen to customers
Listening to customers is something we all know we should do, but very often don’t find the time to. With Facebook it is easier to encourage feedback and listen to what your customers are saying. As Facebook is a more relaxed environment you may find that customers will actually tell you the truth!

4. Increase sales
If your customers are receiving communication from you, you are listening to them and responding this will, in the long run, have a very positive effect on sales.

There are currently 17,280 facebook members who live in Gibraltar. Are you speaking to them? Or are your competitors?

KISS - Keep it simple, stupid!

Piranha Designs - Friday, May 13, 2011
When I was at University my advertising tutor always used to remind us of these four words:

Keep it Simple, Stupid!

When you are designing or creating something, the tendancy is to over complicate things. We naturally think, it would be great to have this and this. Slowly what began as a simple, clean idea turns into a monster, with loads of different options and calls to action.

When planning your website you need to remind yourself of KISS, it will help you to work backwards. Always going to the lowest common denominator.

There is an interesting story about Google and how one customer helps to keep there website as simple as possible.
Google began receiving an email every so often with just a number on it, say 32. Then another number 37. There was nothing else in this email. After a while they figured out the message. The number was the number of words on the google homepage. This helped them to continuously simplify and remove words, the lower, the better. This simple strategy helped make the Google search engine so incredibly simple that it is extremely successful. Compare it to Yahoo who had hundreds of words and links. People just got lost. They just wanted to search.

When you are planning your site or trying to improve it, think, what are my visitors wanting to do or to read? How can I make the whole process as simple as possible? What steps can I eliminate?

Rather than adding more and more options, try removing some.

How relationships can be built without ever having a coffee

Piranha Designs - Friday, February 18, 2011
The normal way to build relationships with prospects and clients is to go out and have a coffee, or if your lucky have lunch. This has always been the method of choice for most small business owners.

The trend is changing.

I want to tell a small story of how this is happening and how it can affect your business.

There are two web based businesses that I work closely with. I have never met any of their staff nor have I ever spoken to them on the phone. They are based in the USA and time differences and long flights mean that this is not really viable. But I have come to realise that it is not necessary either.

I found this company by just searching online for a software tool that I use. I visited their site, watched some videos, read the information and signed up for a newsletter with more tips on how to get the most out of the software. These regular tips included videos from their video blog, with personal guides on improving business methods. All this was free and actually incredibly useful and informative.

Over a period of time I became a customer and then began to receive even more information and more personal advice for free. Then I came across their facebook pages and got to see how they run the business and a little more of their real lives.

The strange thing is this, even though I have never met, spoken to, or even emailed the person in the videos I feel like I know him. I refer to him by his first name, I speak about him with other clients and friends. He has become a reliable reference and I like doing business with him.

There is a new type of coffee table and a new way of having lunch and it is a lot more informative, educational, useful and easier for you to manage. Its having a system do a lot of the work for you, it is the only way this person can 'have a coffee' with his 10,000 clients. It is the power of new media, the web and emails. Right now it is still at an early stage but soon this will become the norm.

Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses New Website

Piranha Designs - Friday, February 18, 2011
This week we have launched the completely new Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses website. Built on Dynamo CMS it now gives the federation full control over the content of the site. But the new system does not stop there, it also allows for management of clients and subscriptions. It includes a built in email marketing system to keep members up to date.

Visit the new site on www.gfsb.gi

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