It’s not impossible to compete for search rankings with the big boys

Piranha Designs - Thursday, July 12, 2018

Every business active online aspires to the highest search engine positions for the most popular and relevant terms – whether those are ‘health food’, ‘estate agents’, ‘country house hotel’ or something else entirely. 

But of course, only a limited number of organisations can achieve first-page results for certain terms at any one time – in much the same way as not every company can afford to have a store on London’s Oxford Street or New York’s Madison Avenue. There’s just too much competition, which pushes the cost of that sought-after space to stratospheric levels. 

It’s a similar story when it comes to the most competitive keywords online. It’s the very biggest companies that tend to occupy the loftiest positions, as those are the ones that can plough eye-watering sums into their SEO and PR budgets. 

So, is there any way around this?

If, like the vast majority of online firms, you aren’t an Apple, Facebook or Coca-Cola, there has long been a widely accepted wisdom that you can’t expect to compete against the heavyweights – or at least, not by trying to play the game the same way they are. 

There are, though, quite a few strategies that could deliver you success – even on a par with much better-established and well-known brands than your own. 

One of these has long been to aim to rank well for less popular keywords which, when taken together, could give you search traffic similar to what you could achieve from ranking well for a single, more popular search term. 

You’re likely to have a much better chance of attaining good rankings for ‘coffee shop in Camberwell’, for example, than ‘coffee shop in London’ or even ‘coffee shop in south London’. 

But it doesn’t stop there...

You see, there are always examples that you can find of brands emerging seemingly from nowhere, having only been founded a few years ago, but somehow rising quickly to give many of the big boys a bloody nose. 

Consider a brand like Fashion Nova, for instance, which has been noted for its ability to sometimes rank highly for competitive single-word keywords like ‘fashion’, despite its ecommerce site having launched as recently as 2013.  

Sites like these put often much wealthier competitors in the shade through a variety of strategies, but often by targeting demographics and requirements that the bigger names ignore – such as, in the case of Fashion Nova, the underserved minority and plus-size markets. 

These comparative minnows’ successes indicate that you should never be too fatalistic about your chances of competing with bigger names in your field. There may be all manner of neglected audiences that you could target, which is why you should also be looking to the social channels where those audiences are likely to be active. 

Then, of course, there is the difference that a suitably comprehensive search engine optimisation and marketing package from a trusted web marketing agency can make – and there are quite a few such plans that we can offer you here at Piranha Designs. 

Ask us today about our Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum SEO packages encompassing all of the elements – including keyword research, page optimisation, guest blogging and more – that could empower you to deal some serious blows to much bigger names in your industry.

5 parts of your site where you may look to inject humour

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Anyone who has ever felt better as a result of adopting an amusing perspective on an otherwise difficult situation will know just how important humour is in day-to-day life. It is uniquely human, and can have various benefits for one’s health, such as reduced stress and a heightened tolerance for pain.

You may therefore be interested in learning which parts of your website design may be most improved with some tasteful and well-judged doses of humour. Well, here are a few suggestions.

The ‘About Us’ page

This is the page of your site that many visitors will look to for a sense of the ‘human’ side of your brand, which could make it ripe for an injection of humour if appropriate. You could have images of your staff, for example, adopting wacky poses or even wearing funny outfits.

News and update pages

These are parts of your site that can feel a little grey and tedious, especially when you have important, but otherwise boring news to share. You might want to take a look at the changes and updates feed at Slack, for example, to see how a lightly humorous style can help to make those important news developments sink in better with readers.

The ‘404 error’ page

It’s frustrating to find yourself at a dead end when you are looking for a particular product, service or page online. A well-done humorous 404 page can therefore be helpful for lessening some of that frustration. However, it’s equally vital to pair any ‘jokey’ error 404 content – many examples of which are brought together in this Usabilla blog post – with a means by which the visitor can get to what they were looking for, such as a search box or navigation link.

The chatbot

It is becoming increasingly customary for chatbots to be used in website designs for organisations in almost all industries. Given that a chatbot is, after all, effectively there to replace a human, you should consider ways in which yours could be given a more ‘human-like’ personality, as may be achieved in part with some well-judged humour.

Blog posts

A website’s blog has long been a key frontier for businesses seeking to give their online presences a dash of down-to-earth personality. Humour – including in bullet points and embedded media such as images and video – can certainly be incorporated to great effect in blog posts. However, a generally relaxed conversational tone can have a similar impact. In short, we would suggest that when in doubt, you go for the subtle rather than laugh-a-minute approach.

It’s important to follow the principle of ‘with great power, comes great responsibility’ with your use of humour in your web design – not least as there are definitely instances in which using it at all could damage the user experience and by extension, your brand.

Nonetheless, humour – when handled well – can be a key weapon when you are seeking to make more of the right impact with your target audience. Contact the Piranha Designs team today, and we can discuss with you in greater detail all of those little touches that could help to elevate your custom web design from ‘good’ to ‘great’.

Does your ecommerce site clearly communicate why the customer should bother?

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, June 12, 2018

There are a lot of things that could greatly help to get more of your website’s visitors purchasing from you – a steady stream of insightful blog posts, for example, or a more intuitive navigation system. However, even many of these things may not be as impactful as they ought to be, if your target audience doesn’t understand or like your value propositions.

If you’re wondering, “what’s a value proposition?”, allow us to explain – it’s the benefits of a particular product or service of yours, minus the costs. When we say ‘costs’, we don’t necessarily just mean the asking price; the economic risk, time or resource investment required should also be factored in.

Think from the perspective of the buyer

Even the above definition is a little seller-centric, which may not aid clear thinking, given that it’s the individual buyer you’re supposed to be appealing to with your value proposition.

After all, the value proposition of a given product or service varies from one potential purchaser to another, because there may be certain features a buyer needs, and certain features they don’t. Plus, buyers tend to think in terms of a product or service’s pros and cons, rather than benefits and costs.

It’s handy, though, to consider value proposition from both a seller and buyer perspective, to give yourself a complete picture.

So, how can you communicate those ‘pros’?

Take a look at your company’s website. You might be offering more technical or complex products or services that can be difficult to explain. Have you communicated the value propositions for them, including what each product or service actually is?

There might even be key benefits of your product or service that you haven’t mentioned on your website. It’s for this reason that it is well worth sitting down and listing all of the elements of value that buyers get, before checking that your site clearly conveys each and every one.

You might also consider whether your site makes it obvious what happens once the buyer hits the ‘order’ button. This can be an especially important element if your business offers services rather than products. A diagram or flowchart could therefore be useful for leaving your target customer in no doubt about the process, and how it will begin to benefit them straight away.

Our expertise in ecommerce web design here at Piranha Designs could be instrumental in boosting your firm’s sales online this year. Highly rated packages are available at various price points to ensure you receive the right website design at a price that makes sense for your company.

Don’t allow usability issues to slow your brand’s growth on the web

Piranha Designs - Thursday, June 07, 2018


Of all of the things that you could do to turn more of your online visitors into customers, it’s hard to think of a better strategy than simply sorting out those little problems that compromise your site’s usability. 

Even a seemingly small website usability problem, after all, can be more than enough to prevent many people from proceeding with a purchase from your brand. 

Why are usability tests so necessary at all? 

As a website owner or marketer, you’re presumably intimately familiar with your site – more so than almost anyone else. Can’t you just do your own informal usability testing as you peruse your site? 

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy, because marketers can suffer from a little something called the ‘curse of knowledge’. This refers to a cognitive bias that prevents them from easily thinking about an issue from the perspective of a less-informed person. 

The likelihood is that you spend so much time looking at your own site that you struggle to imagine what it would be like for someone to see your site for the first time. 

Run a few usability tests, and you will soon come to appreciate how big the gap can be between you, the website owner, and the average visitor to your site. We aren’t just talking about users getting lost on your site or scratching their heads – they could be left so frustrated that they literally swear or even hit their keyboards. 

But these ordinary users aren’t stupid – quite the opposite. If they want something, you create a website to satisfy their desire and they still can’t get what they want, it might just be you who is ‘stupid’... 

The steps to ensure your usability tests bring useful results 

The above cognitive bias is why you should design your site so that even the classic ‘moron in a hurry’ can use it. That way, even geniuses with a lot of free time to browse your site are likely to be thankful for its level of usability. 

There are various ways you can recruit people to usability-test your site, including by turning to people from your site’s target audience, as well as those who have visited your site in the past. Even asking people who just happen to be nearby – a practice known as ‘hallway usability testing’ – can bring invaluable insights. 

A robust quality-assurance (QA) process is essential before each of your website’s pages goes live. That’s why such resources as Smashing Magazine’s 45 useful web design checklists and questionnaires can be so crucial to your efforts to identify usability issues.  

Getting your site’s usability right can be much trickier than immediately meets the eye. After all, you are barely likely to consciously notice a highly usable site, so it can be easy to overlook the solutions and techniques that will help to make your site more usable. 

Nonetheless, by calling upon our own expertise in website design here at Piranha Designs, you can help to ensure that your new site delivers the best possible experience for every member of your target demographic.

A few steps you can take to make your site more accessible

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Accessibility can be a tricky subject for many online business owners to get to grips with, what with all of the complexity inherent in how screen readers and voice command applications work.

The good news, though, is that you don’t necessarily need an in-depth appreciation of accessibility principles to tweak your site to be usable by as broad an audience as possible. In fact, the following steps can go a long way towards accomplishing that.

Make your buttons standard HTML

Buttons are vital for triggering actions on your site. Such actions may include sending messages, saving progress and opening panels, among other things, but it’s important to remember that it is buttons that make such actions possible.

It’s therefore also vital that the broadest range of visitors to your site can make use of its buttons. That’s why you should ensure your buttons are always standard HTML buttons. These are the buttons that are natively usable from the keyboard, with the browser and operating system already knowing what to do with such a button element.

Ensure your site’s links are only ever links

Links serve a specific purpose on your site, much like buttons do, although that purpose naturally differs: they take you somewhere. You can also use them natively from the keyboard – again, just like buttons.

Does that mean it’s a good idea to use a link to perform some of your site’s button-like actions? The short answer to that is “no”.

While a sighted user may not be able to differentiate between an actual HTML button and a link that merely resembles a button, the screen reader will tell its user exactly whether the element is a link or a button. The user may therefore expect the element to behave like a link, rather than a button, and if the response they get isn’t what they expected, this can make your site frustrating to use.

Provide labels for everything on the site

Take a look at one of the forms on your site – if there is one. Is there text next to the form fields, to make clear what each of those fields is for? Then, click on the text – by which we do mean the text, rather than the field itself. If your cursor automatically moves into the input field, you can be sure that the field is appropriately labelled.

An unlabelled form creates problems for a screen reader user, who won’t be able to tell what belongs in each field except by exploring the rest of the site for any other helpful text.

Even if you implement all of the above tips, you won’t necessarily have a perfectly accessible website – but such advice should nonetheless serve as useful inspiration for when you do come to design or alter your site specifically with accessibility issues in mind.

Why not ask the Piranha Designs team today about the custom web design solutions that we can provide for you, in accordance with your most demanding requirements?

How can you make your ecommerce store more ‘Millennial-friendly’?

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Having been born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, Millennials are now largely aged in their 20s and 30s – meaning they wield very significant online buying power.

It’s therefore no surprise that so many owners of ecommerce stores are wondering what they can do to better appeal to Millennial shoppers online.

Here are some of the best ways for your online store to attract and convert more Millennials without alienating other age groups.

Make your entire store usable on mobile

When we say ‘usable’, we mean the user experience on your mobile site should be every bit as impressive as what your desktop site offers up.

After all, almost nine in 10 of those in the UK aged between 25 and 34 now own a smartphone, so swift loading times and almost effortless navigation are musts.

Encourage site visitors to participate

Millennials don’t just listen to their peers attentively when they’re seeking product or service recommendations – they also like to publish their own content and have it shared and appreciated.

That’s why any good ecommerce store from a Millennial perspective is likely to incorporate a lot of user-generated content such as customer reviews, photos and videos of the product in question.

Such participation from site visitors and customers can be encouraged with the inclusion of features like social sharing buttons, forum-style discussions and user Q&As. It can all help to keep Millennial visitors on your site’s pages for longer, as well as make them more likely to purchase.

Use engaging and meaningful photos and video

You only need to visit the Apple website to see how possibly the most Millennial-friendly brand of all hooks in customers from this age range with powerful imagery. Nor should this approach be a shock, given that a large proportion of Apple customers don’t buy directly from physical Apple stores.

As for video, about one minute is the sweet-spot length. However, this isn’t as important as the meaningfulness of each video.

Millennials pay a lot of attention to both images and video, and when you use yours to tell the right story – one that answers their questions about a product and how it addresses their needs, while also communicating what makes your brand captivating – you can expect much more engagement.

Be transparent in everything you do

Transparency as to how your company operates – on both the inside and the outside – will be greatly valued by Millennial visitors to your site. This extends to admitting any mistakes that your firm has made in the past, and how it intends to fix them.

There’s much more that Millennials might expect from your ecommerce store than the above elements. Nonetheless, they can hopefully serve as a productive starting point when you contact the Piranha Designs team about how our know-how in website design – including mobile sites – could benefit your brand.

Your prospective customers will be reassured by a well-sorted ‘About Us’ page

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What’s the first thing that a visitor to your company website will want to know, besides the products or services that you offer? It’s who you are, of course.

By that, we don’t just mean your company name, the sector in which your business is active or even the name of the founder. What we mean, are all of the other things that will actually ease the anxieties and doubts of your potential customers.

What anxieties and doubts are your site visitors likely to have?

Let’s imagine that a person ends up on your site through Google, because you’re selling something that they’ve been looking for. The likelihood is that if you’re reading this, your firm isn’t Amazon or Coca-Cola, so the visitor in question may well have never heard of your brand.

So, it’s the basics that they will want to be reassured about. Is your site a trustworthy one, where they can complete a purchase by entering their credit card or other payment information and be sure that their order will be delivered in good time?

Can they also expect the items that they receive to work properly, and if there are any issues with the product, will you be responsive to their complaints and work hard to resolve their problem?

As much of a habit as online shopping has become for so many of us, the fact remains that online shoppers can’t pick up and feel the merchandise, or try on items of clothing. You will therefore need to do everything possible to quickly establish trust with your audience – and your site’s ‘About Us’ page can be an invaluable tool for this.

A well-crafted page will do much to give you credibility

Given how unlikely it is that the average scammer will go as far as building an intricate ‘About Us’ section complete with detail on company values and original photos, it’s fair to say that original and unique content will go a long way to establishing a sense of reputability among your site visitors.

That might manifest in such details as why and when you started your company, as well as what motivates you to provide the products or services that you do through your site. It might also mean filling the visitor in on your staff, including their full names and own interests.

There’s so much else that you can do beyond this. You could describe exactly how the products or services that you offer are made, or how you manage to keep your prices competitive without compromising quality. What about ‘behind the scenes’ of your company, such as your work culture? You might also want to include details on media coverage that your brand has received.

In summary, when you get your site’s ‘About Us’ page right, it can be such a brilliant part of your site for showcasing and enhancing your company’s identity. It’s all about communicating what makes your brand unique, interesting and relevant, so that your prospective shoppers’ nerves will be calmed and they will feel confident to order products or services from you.

Could Piranha Designs be your crucial partners this year in helping you to get your website to the next level of success? We offer a broad range of up-to-the-minute and proven web design and other services, and would be delighted to hear from you.

Give your SEO a spring clean with these simple steps

Piranha Designs - Monday, April 09, 2018

The very term ‘spring clean’ has unfortunate connotations, implying that some of us don’t thoroughly clean our houses for an entire year. Well, we’re afraid to say that not only is that often true, but it can be the case for your website’s SEO as well.

You see, there are so many little aspects of your company’s site that may be dragging down its search engine rankings, but which you may not even notice until you take a closer look.

So, here are some of the best ways to give your site what may be an essential SEO spring clean.

Get rid of duplicate metadata

We’ll start with something easy – ensuring that all of your title tags and meta descriptions are genuinely unique.

Remember, though, to keep within the widely accepted limits when writing new ones – around 65 characters as far as the title tags are concerned, and about 155 characters for the meta descriptions.

Eliminate redirect chains

What redirect chains does your site presently have? By this, we’re referring to how many instances your site has of one URL redirecting to another, and then to another, and so on due to various pages having become obsolete over time.

Given the multiple server requests that are required when a visitor to your site passes through one of these chains, you can probably begin to see how damaging they can be in terms of wasting your limited server resources and slowing down loading times.

So, don’t keep them around any longer – ask your developers to replace each old chain with a single redirect from the first URL to the last one.

Tweak low-performing pages

You may understandably focus the bulk of your attention on your highest-performing pages, but have you looked closely enough recently at those sections of your site that aren’t doing so well?

It may be that a given page drives a lot of traffic but not many conversions, in which case, you may need to introduce or alter conversion elements. Alternatively, there may be a page that is targeting the right keyword themes but isn’t attracting much natural search traffic. By poring over the data you have for this page and considering different perspectives, you can begin to figure out why.

Remember that we can give you the benefit of far-reaching and well-honed search engine optimisation and marketing here at Piranha Designs, with multiple plans available to suit various requirements and budgets. Simply get in touch with the team today to discuss your needs in greater detail and request a tailored quote.

5 things to avoid in responsive web design

Piranha Designs - Thursday, March 29, 2018

We’re sure many of you reading this will be well aware of the term ‘responsive web design’, which is the practice of designing a site so that it renders well across multiple devices.

Today, it couldn’t be more vital for any ecommerce firm to have a mobile-optimised site, and responsive design has long been deemed the best route to take to achieve this goal.

However, with the increasing prevalence of responsive web design, has also come many an error in its implementation that should be easily avoided. Here are just a few of them.

1. Overly small call-to-action buttons

While it’s understandable that you will wish to ensure every element of your website fits onto a small smartphone screen, this brings the risk that the call-to-action buttons will be too small for visitors to easily tap.

If customers continually accidentally click the wrong button or have to zoom in simply to tap it, such a compromised user experience could lead to them exiting the site. So, be sure to design a site with call-to-action buttons that are neither too small, nor too close to each other.

2. Support for only one image resolution

The detrimental effect that overly large images have on the loading times of a mobile site should mean that your own site design alters the resolution of its images based on the user’s device.

The good news is that there are many ways to ensure this happens automatically, such as the picture HTML5 element or various WordPress plugins.

3. Non-responsive emails

As wonderfully responsive as your main site may be, major usability issues can be created if the emails that your company sends are not also responsive to match.

You won’t want a situation where your mobile users find it difficult to even review their order details or browse through the list of products you’ve recommended to them in an email. Emails need to be treated as the key customer touch point that they are, being given their own role in the responsive design and testing process.

4. Giving mobile users less content

Presenting mobile users with a ‘second-class’ version of your desktop website isn’t a great idea, not least as they may be seeking information with their smartphone that they saw earlier on your desktop site.

Statistics show that the vast majority of online shoppers use more than one device. You therefore need to have a website that is generated dynamically in accordance with the size of the user’s screen, instead of simply hiding vital content.

5. Slow loading times

Mobile users are especially likely to want to take swift action. This means your page size should be kept as small as possible, which will necessitate you carefully considering what content is actually required on the page. Are there certain images, buttons and text that you could dispense with?

Remember that we aren’t contradicting our earlier point here; this isn’t about making your mobile site an inferior counterpart to your desktop one. If certain content must be kept at least somewhere, consider separating it across different tabs.

Would you like to benefit from a gorgeously responsive site for your ecommerce business? We are highly experienced and skilled in CMS website design, and through our packages at various price points, can provide the solution that suits your firm’s needs and ambitions.

Great tips for taking your own eye-catching product images

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, March 21, 2018

If you have spent any time running an ecommerce site, you may have at least been tempted to take your own images of certain products being offered on your site. However, there’s more to impactful self-made product photography than simply setting up a camera and tripod and snapping away at subjects on a white background.

That’s because, as important as the time-honoured product photography rules are, it also helps to subtly break them occasionally if you are to produce the most memorable images. Take a look at some of our below suggestions to see what we mean.

Hang products

You may well be quite accustomed to seeing products pictured hanging when browsing ecommerce sites, so this isn’t necessarily a hugely distinctive tip. However, there are so many ways to creatively hang products, ranging from hanging them upside down and sideways to suspending the item from wires and ropes that also serve as an integral part of the photo.

Don’t be afraid to show a sense of humour and experiment with approaches. The lighting of your images has to be consistently impeccable too, of course.

Macro shots

‘Macro photography’ refers to the practice of taking extreme close-up shots of what may actually be very small items, and there’s no question that these can be very impactful. However, we would also urge you to use such images next to more ‘standard’ product shots so that the viewer has a good sense of what the item really looks and feels like.

Again, lighting is really important here, as macro photography is at its most impressive when even the tiniest and most intricate details are visible.

Keep the background in focus

The conventional wisdom in product photography is that when you have an off-focus background, the viewer’s eye is naturally drawn to the main product in the foreground.

But there’s little to stop you preserving a clear background while also still placing your product slightly in front. You may, for example, place a food product alongside similar items to indicate how it may be used.

Make use of reflection

You can make an otherwise boring image more interesting by applying a reflective effect. This can be done with a mirror, but there are also other ways of doing it.

You might place the product in a shallow pan of water, for example, combined with interesting lighting effects. Or what about using image-editing software to show reflections in water and other surfaces? The result can be more subtle – but still interesting – than you presume will be the case.

Combine these product photography tips with our far-reaching know-how in ecommerce website design here at Piranha Designs, and you can give your brand an impressive online presence that belies the relatively little you might have spent on it.


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