The features that your site’s search function should have

Piranha Designs - Friday, March 09, 2018

If you were online in the late 1990s or early 2000s, you may remember Ask Jeeves, which was a search engine that in many ways, presaged what Google and other search titans today attempt to do: provide a useful response to specific user questions, instead of merely keywords.

It was certainly a compelling concept in its day – the eponymous ‘Jeeves’, by the way, being a gentleman character based on the fictional valet of P. G. Wodehouse character Bertie Wooster.

The character used to appear on the site’s homepage, but the delivery of the question-and-answer functionality was as clunky as you might expect given the times, and Jeeves himself was sent into retirement in 2006.

But with all of the design and technology innovations that have happened since, there’s now a lot more scope for the modern online business owner to ensure their own site’s search function produces robust and relevant results. Here are some of those that we would suggest.

Spelling assistance

Imagine how time-consuming and laborious it would be to manually input all of the conceivable ways in which a given search term could be misspelled. This feature, then, has to be something that can intelligently understand potential user mistakes by itself.

Automatic filtering of common conjunctions and articles

Conjunctions like “and”, “or” and “but”, as well as articles such as “the”, “a” and “an”, can be filtered out of users’ searches, unless one of these words is part of the name of a product.

Alternative words, aka “Did you mean?”

Shoppers may not know the exact terms used in the name of the product they are looking for, or may not understand the correct meanings of certain words. Whatever the situation, incorporating this function into your site search helps to prevent you missing out on sales.

The ability to enter alternative terms yourself

While we made the point above that an intelligent search feature should be able to accommodate many alternative spellings or terms that a user may enter, this work can’t be solely left to the search tool. After all, new alternative phases gain popularity all of the time, and you will be able to identify these through search data, so it helps to be able to incorporate them into your search feature.

Relevant recommendations

It does happen, from time to time, that a user enters a term that delivers zero results. In such a situation, rather than your site presenting your user with a largely blank ‘sorry’ page, you might want to ensure other products or categories are presented to them to increase the likelihood of a sale.

These aren’t the only key features that are incorporated into the most sophisticated search functions of today’s ecommerce stores. When you turn to the team here at Piranha Designs for our custom website design services, you can discuss with us in more detail what form your own site’s search feature could take.

The best subjects for your company’s blogs in March

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Building an enduring relationship with your customers through content marketing depends on the creation of content that they find genuinely interesting and useful. So when your company’s writers are composing blog posts for the third month of the year, what subjects should they cover?

Here are a few ideas that could help to cultivate a connection between your store and its target customers that leads to sales.

Success stories

March is a month of optimism – the time of year when the arrival of spring becomes fully apparent and many of your blog’s readers will be looking to put the dreariness of the winter months behind them.

It’s therefore a fine time to publish blog articles outlining success stories related to the industry that your company serves. If you run a health food store, for instance, you may tell your readers about those who have felt reinvigorated by certain products bought from your store.

Essential spring tasks

Spring has long been associated with cleaning and gardening. There are certainly many tasks that your target customers are likely to need to get on with at this time of year, and they’re sure to appreciate informed guidance as to how they can do the best possible job.

Those running a holiday booking site, for example, may wish to use the opportunity that March presents to urge any of their customers still contemplating a summer holiday to book now before their preferred flights and hotels become unavailable for their chosen dates.

Outdoor activities

The brightening days and creeping temperatures of the mid-spring lend themselves well to blog content about projects in the garden, weekend getaways or pretty much anything else embracing the great outdoors.

So, think carefully about what blog posts could motivate your customers to get outside and enjoy the open air. This may mean an online store dedicated to sports supplements suggesting to its blog readers the outdoor workouts that may best suit their get-fit aims this year.

Nutrition ideas

Linked to the aforementioned point, many of your blog readers will be interested to know how they can support their efforts to achieve a ‘beach-ready body’ (if they aspire to such a thing) with the most appropriate nutrition.

Perhaps you could advise your readers on how their kids could eat better during the month, provide ideas for healthy lunchtime meals at work, or indicate what foods could be invaluable when they next go backpacking?

Remember that we offer onsite and offsite blog content writing as part of our Platinum search engine optimisation (SEO) and marketing package here at Piranha Designs, alongside such other key services as keyword research and social set-up. Why not get in touch with us at our Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh offices to learn how our expertise in these areas could benefit your brand?

5 ways to make your ecommerce calls to action more impactfu

Piranha Designs - Thursday, February 01, 2018

There aren’t many elements of an ecommerce site that play as critical a role as its calls to action (CTA) – yet, it can also be easy for them to be overshadowed by other features.

That means your own site’s CTAs might not be delivering the punch they should when you instruct your site visitor to perform a certain action – so let’s take a look at some of the best ways to fix that.

1. Ensure they’re simple and recognisable

Do you want your site visitor to ‘add to cart’ or ‘purchase’ an item? Fine – so use those words. They’re the words that even your new customers already instinctively know and understand.

2. Use colours that work within the site design

When picking a colour for your CTA text or button, the accepted rule of thumb is to ensure it makes sense within the wider scheme of your site.

Whether you go for a colour that is similar to or contrasts with what is around it, it shouldn’t blend in too much with its surroundings, but also shouldn’t stand out so much that it detracts from the rest of the site.

3. Support them with secondary calls to action

The critical importance of a primary CTA should go without saying, but you can further ensure potential customers remain on your site by providing secondary CTAs that make it easy for them to take alternative courses of action.

Examples of good secondary CTAs range from ‘save for later’ and ‘add to wish list’ to ‘shop for related items’ and ‘buy accessories’.

4. Make them text-based, with a solid background

As tempting as it may be to try to grab attention with fancy graphics, a busy-looking CTA creates the risk that the customer will simply be distracted, instead of carrying out the desired action.

5. Group your ‘add to cart’ CTA with other options

If the product is one for which the shopper will need to select a size, colour or other specification options, by including the CTA immediately below the selection, you can help to speed up the process so that the customer reaches the checkout and enters their payment details all the sooner.

Remember that your site’s CTAs need to be among the most noticeable features of each page of your site – otherwise, your conversions may not be as high as they could be.

Why not discuss the many fine aspects of your next website design with the Piranha Designs team? Contact our experienced professionals now at our Gibraltar head office, or browse our website for more information about what our web design services could do for your firm.

What can you do to get people to come back to your site?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What can you do to get people to come back to your site?

As much as you might sometimes wish otherwise, your site visitors don’t exist in a state of perfect isolation. They’re browsing your site while surrounded by all manner of possible distractions – sat in their kitchen with their children yapping for their attention, or enjoying a quick lunch break before their boss calls them back into the office, or waiting for a taxi to arrive at their home... the list goes on.

Your site is effectively competing with all manner of ‘real life’ things for your visitors’ attention. So if they do get distracted and then forget about your site, how can you attract them back?

Be more memorable than any of your competitors

While many of us might bemoan popular tabloid news sites that attract attention through lurid headlines and sensationalism rather than truth, the reality is that making your site memorable does work a treat for getting people to make repeat visits.

Sometimes, that principle is taken to extremes – just take a look at the famously garish website for LingsCars, for instance. It’s a genuine business, but you might not have thought so at first glance. Nonetheless, it’s not a website you’re going to forget in a hurry.

But there are other, slightly milder ways to make your business’s site memorable, such as by giving your brand a quirky name, having an entertaining and engaging tone of voice or investing in video ads that are ripe to go viral.

Establish a means of ongoing customer communication

Obtaining a prospective customer’s contact details, or getting them to follow you in some other way online, takes the pressure off your company to immediately convert their interest into a sale. You won’t have to do it within one session, and can instead persuade them over a period of days, weeks, months or even years.

So, how can you establish that means of communication? Well, you could offer them a tempting, no-brainer deal – such as a free trial or demo – with a tiny commitment, such as providing their email address or other contact details, that makes it an almost impossible offer to refuse.

Convincing your visitors to follow your brand on Facebook, Twitter or a similarly popular social platform is another potentially good move. This will be made much easier if your social feeds provide a rich stream of content that is engaging, relevant and usable for your target audience.

Or why not launch an ad retargeting campaign? There’s a strong likelihood that if a given target customer was sufficiently interested in your site once, a well-placed ad will convince them to come back.

How could we help your firm with its 2018 goals?

The above steps can do a lot to ensure that a customer relationship that would’ve otherwise been a one-night stand becomes a longer-term commitment. But there’s much more that we can do to enhance your brand’s online fortunes here at Piranha Designs.

Why not contact our team today to discuss our custom website design solutions or any of our other sought-after services that could help to power your brand to success over the coming year?

Don't forget to encourage post-Christmas reviews

Piranha Designs - Thursday, December 21, 2017

Survey suggestion opinion review feedback concept

It only takes a few minutes of Googling to unearth statistics showing just how important customer reviews can be to your company. One recent survey found that 60% of consumers look at online reviews at least once a week, with 93% stating that reviews influence their purchasing decisions.

Links have also been made between customer reviews and improved ecommerce conversion rates - and it's thought that they play an instrumental role in making your site's product pages easier to find in the search engines as well.

All of this, combined with the natural rise in ecommerce sales volume that greets Christmas, makes it an obvious step to do everything possible to encourage the posting of customer reviews as an aid to your post-Yuletide marketing.

Customer reviews have strong value for ecommerce sites

There are plenty more statistics like the above that firmly signal just how much customer reviews could bring to your online business. Did you know, for example, that 82% of consumers say the content of a review has convinced them to make a purchase?

However, it's also vital not to underestimate the SEO dimension of customer reviews, with Google believed to favour sites that have received positive reviews over those with no reviews when using them as a factor to determine search engine rankings.

Customer reviews also often contain long-tail keywords, which could further assist in making your site easier for casual online searchers to discover.

So, what can you do to boost how many reviews you receive?

The greater number of visits to and sales at online stores during December means that now is definitely the time of year, of all times of year, to encourage customer reviews. But how can you do that?

The most straightforward and obvious way is to simply ask for reviews. You may do this through marketing emails that also give you the opportunity to signal how much you appreciate your customer’s purchase, and your interest in receiving honest feedback that will enable you to improve the products your business sells.

You could make a similar request in a social media update, asking those of your followers who have shopped with you whether they would be kind enough to provide a review.

Given the greater impact that reviews for more expensive items may have, it might be a good idea to go further here, perhaps by sending a handwritten card to those who bought such products from you, thanking them for choosing your store and asking them to post a review.

But what if you attract negative reviews?

It’s almost certain that your company, product or service will attract a bad review from time to time. Nor is that always a bad thing, given that the occasional poor review amid the five-star reviews you hope to receive will probably help to make your wider body of public feedback more believable.

Indeed, one study a few years ago showed that ecommerce sites could expect to gain the best conversion rates when their average product review scores hovered between 4.2 and 4.5 on a scale of one to five.

All in all, post-Christmas reviews can definitely be a big part of your firm’s marketing mix as you head into the New Year, so don’t underestimate them! Remember, too, that here at Piranha Designs, we can provide the website design and other services that will help your business to get 2018 off to the best possible start.

How should you deal with your site’s duplicate content?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, December 07, 2017

When you’re building or running an ecommerce site, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll end up with some form of duplicate content on your site. You’re probably thinking of that as very much a bad thing for your site’s search engine performance, but not necessarily for the reason you think.

Doesn’t duplicate content attract a penalty from Google?

It’s interesting that this idea of duplicate content on a website resulting in a penalty from Google has actually persisted for so long. As it happens, a Google blog from as long ago as 2008 declared: “Let’s put this to bed once and for all, folks: There’s no such thing as a ‘duplicate content penalty.’”

However, duplicate content can still be a major detriment to your site’s search engine fortunes, despite the lack of any formal penalties to be imposed for it.

It’s an algorithmic ‘dampening’ issue, rather than one of any human on Google’s web quality team being alerted to certain pages of yours, judging them to be spammy and slapping your site with a punishment accordingly.

After all, when you do have duplicate content on your site, you’re effectively competing with yourself for the same keyword theme. It means that the link authority you would have gained from one page is instead split across two or more pages. When you have duplicates of one page, that page is also less relevant to search engines, which are forced to determine which one to rank.

So, surely the answer is to kill those pages...

Alas, simply removing duplicate content on your site can have undesirable effects. Remember that certain content that is technically duplicated from elsewhere – such as a customer’s ‘wish list’ page or a printable version of a product page – can be useful to visitors to your site.

Getting rid of such content may therefore harm the experience that you give to your site users, which may in turn adversely impact your sales and revenue. But on the other hand, there may be certain duplicate content that you have to remove regardless of any detrimental SEO or customer experience effects, such as if leaving it in place would put you at legal risk.

Exactly how you should deal with particular duplicate content on your site therefore depends on what you need to accomplish. There are a lot of good techniques for removing duplicate content or nullifying its SEO impact, ranging from 301 redirects and canonical tags to 404 ‘File Not Found’ errors and the Remove URLs tool in Google Search Console.

Would you appreciate help to remove or negate duplicate content on your site in a way that brings maximum customer experience and SEO benefits? If so, don’t hesitate to talk to our experts in ecommerce website design and search engine marketing today.

3 big ecommerce website design trends for 2018

Piranha Designs - Thursday, November 30, 2017

The world of ecommerce web design doesn’t stay still – there are always new techniques and technologies coming on stream to guide the site design process.

Here are just some of those that you should be aware of for the coming 12 months.

1. An even greater emphasis on video

Could we possibly have any more video online than we’ve had for the last few years? You might not think so, but with the amount of video on the web continuing to edge upwards, it’s a medium that still hasn’t been explored to its full potential on ecommerce sites.

Expect the coming year to be characterised by the ever-greater prevalence of videos in the background of websites or as hero images, as well as on product pages to provide greater insight into how specific items may be used by the customer.

2. Guided selling

Guided selling involves asking shoppers questions about what kind of products they’re looking for, what features they need and how they intend to use such products, so that the customer can be directed to the items that are the best match to their needs.

It’s not an entirely new phenomenon – the chances are that you’ve already seen sites incorporating ‘selectors’ and ‘finders’ to help to narrow down the products that suit you most.

However, there’s a strong likelihood that you will see much more functionality like this on ecommerce sites as 2018 wears on.

3. More microinteractions

Microinteractions are those little details that help to make the design of a website more satisfying for the human user – the ‘like’ function on Facebook is a great example of the original microinteraction, and they’ve become ever-more numerous since then.

On an ecommerce site, a microinteraction may also occur when a user writes a review for a recently purchased product, in the form of a small animation that thanks them for the submission and encourages them to write a review for any of the other items they’ve bought from the site.

According to Dan Saffer, who wrote the book Microinteractions: Designing with Details, a microinteraction consists of four key parts. These include the trigger that initiates or begins the microinteraction, the rules defining or determining what happens in that interaction, the feedback that communicates what is happening or has just happened, and the loops and modes governing the microinteraction’s content.

Microinteractions may only just be becoming ‘big’ in the ecommerce space, but you can expect site designers to be peppering their creations with them throughout 2018.

Would you like to equip your brand with the complete feature-laden, but effortless-to-use ecommerce portal in the coming 12 months? If so, get in touch with the Piranha Designs team now to discuss how our experts in ecommerce website design can help to make it possible.

Should you still place more emphasis on benefits than features?

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, November 21, 2017

One piece of sales copywriting advice that has long prevailed among marketers is that of the importance of outlining a given product or service’s benefits, rather than its features. It’s much more crucial to tell your target audience about how the product or service in question actually helps them, than to simply list its properties – or at least, that’s what we’ve long been told.

Widely accepted advice, and not entirely wrong

It’s a mantra that seems logical enough. After all, if you simply tell prospective buyers that your product or service has a certain feature – for example, that a given health supplement contains vitamin A – the buyer may be simply left asking, “so what?” But if you then tell them that vitamin A could have real benefits for their health, including for their skin, vision and immune system, their imagination is much more likely to be captured.

It can sometimes be worth mentioning even obvious benefits – such as that a given flight will take the buyer to a particular sunny resort – if it helps to transport the prospective customer’s mind there. That’s simply the way our brains work.

However, it doesn’t always hold fast

There are, though, times when it can actually be detrimental to even mention benefits. That could include when the benefit is unimpressive or obvious, such as if you are a new or used car dealer mentioning a given car’s 0-60 figure or top speed.

While it may be worth mentioning such features of the car, you hardly need to then explain what the benefit is of the car being fast, especially if the vehicle in question is a city runabout.

Nor should you avoid all mention of features...

So often, a marketer’s well-intentioned words to a client to “talk about benefits rather than features” is interpreted as meaning “don’t refer to features at all”, which is evidently ludicrous.

For example, stating that a given smartphone’s camera produces “really sharp and vivid images” isn’t enough, as the customer will also want to know what features – such as optical image stabilisation or the number of megapixels the camera has – actually make that the case.

Listing features alone may leave the reader asking “so what?”, but stating only benefits may have them thinking, “yeah, right”.

...save for certain circumstances

Can you get away without mentioning features in certain circumstances? Yes, you can – such as if the stated benefit is so obviously true that it doesn’t need to be backed up with any mention of a specific feature, or if there isn’t much space and it would be best to provide an alternative form of proof for that claimed benefit.

A good example of the latter is a fitness video, where endorsements by celebrities and testimonials from past customers who have actually used the product will probably be much more persuasive than a mere explanation of the various exercises or chapters covered in the video.

Both features and benefits can have their role in sales copy

When you are next writing web copy and you need to consider the vexed matter of ‘features vs benefits’, it’s best to put the oft-stated ‘rules’ to one side and instead consider how your readers will respond to certain content.

If you are listing a feature that will cause the reader to ask, “so what?”, you should go on to describe the benefit. If, though, you are describing a benefit to which the reader will inevitably say “yeah, right”, it’s important to back it up with a specific feature or another form of proof.

Grasping the respective functions of features and benefits, and how these can be explained in web copy, will help you to determine when a feature should be stated, when a benefit should be stated and when both should be stated.

Why not take a closer look at our extensive search engine marketing (SEM) services here at Piranha Designs and how they can assist your efforts to boost your online business’s sales throughout 2018 and beyond?

#MeToo hashtag is used more than 100,000 times in a single day

Piranha Designs - Monday, October 23, 2017

If you haven’t seen the #MeToo hashtag being used on social media at any point in the last few days, we would hazard a guess that you haven’t been on social media at all during that period. Indeed, its widespread use has been just one part of the massive response to the disturbing news that has emerged in the last few weeks about sexual harassment in Hollywood.

Much of that news has – of course – centred on film producer Harvey Weinstein, with the more than 30 women to have said they were sexually harassed or assaulted by him ranging from Lysette Anthony and Angelina Jolie to Heather Graham and Rose McGowan.

However, questions have also been asked of other Hollywood figures about the extent to which they may have enabled his behaviour or suppressed attempts to speak out about it earlier.

An unprecedented social media response

We have long been able to depend on social media to give an emphatic response to sexism, harassment and assault, as shown by the success down the years of such hashtags as #EverydaySexism and #YesAllWomen. However, even by those standards, one hashtag in particular – #MeToo – was used a staggering number of times as women well beyond the boundaries of the entertainment world cited their own experiences.

It began when Hollywood actor Alyssa Milano posted a message on Twitter on Sunday, asking users to respond “me too” to her tweet if they had been sexually harassed or assaulted to “give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Within just 24 hours, Milano’s tweet had been retweeted more than 17,000 times, while on Sunday alone, the #MeToo hashtag was used 109,451 times, according to social analytics firm Crimson Hexagon.

Even by the standards of the other feminist hashtags to have seen widespread use in recent times, that is an astonishing number. #YesAllWomen, for example, exploded onto Twitter in response to the 2014 Elliot Rodger shooting that targeted women, and was used 61,500 times on 25th May that year. #EverydaySexism, meanwhile, has continued to see heavy use throughout the year, including more than 9,000 times in August, according to Crimson Hexagon.

A great social uprising against injustice

With Rose McGowan’s temporary suspension from the microblogging platform having prompted the #WomenBoycottTwitter movement, the immense response to Milano’s tweet shows that female voices remain in full force on the site. It is a firm sign of their determination to ensure they will continue to be heard in the wake of the troubling reports that we have had to digest from the entertainment world, and which we may be continuing to read for a long time to come.

Would you like to learn more about how your organisation can make a greater impact online? If so, talk to the Piranha Designs team today about any one or more of our vast complement of services.

How can you strike the balance between being useful and ‘salesy’?

Piranha Designs - Monday, October 16, 2017

It’s one of the conundrums at the heart of marketing – how can you impart genuinely useful and relevant information to your target customers in your content so that your brand begins to build a reputation as a trustworthy industry authority, while also actually selling your products or services?

Quality really does have to come first

First of all, we’ve got some bad (or maybe good) news for you: if you really want to attract and retain high-quality customers, you simply have to put the emphasis on ensuring that the content your business produces is high-quality, too – certainly over short-term sales.

Many in content marketing would even go as far as saying that your company should cultivate its image as a publisher or broadcaster before it places much overt emphasis on the selling of products.

But we realise, of course, that your business might not have that luxury. It has to sell products or services, and it has to do so now. So, what can you do to leverage your content so that it has that effect, without either cheapening your content or producing useful content that nonetheless does little for your brand’s bottom line?

First of all, is there useful content you can share about your product?

Striking the right balance between usefulness and ‘salesiness’ doesn’t necessarily have to mean leaving your products or services unmentioned in your videos or blog posts until a brief call-to-action (CTA) at the end. There may be scope for you to produce interesting, entertaining and useful content that nonetheless still has your products and services at its heart.

Maybe you could produce documentary-type videos showing how your products or services are made or used in ‘real life’ situations? However, it’s vital to get the tone and style right here. You won’t make much impact with this content approach if your business simply comes across as self-interested. Content, on the other hand, that communicates passion and value in a captivating manner for the viewer can be very successful indeed.

Another way is to promote your product in a pretty unsalesy, ‘matter of fact’ way – for example, introducing it midway through a tutorial video that otherwise does not overtly relate to your company, and explaining the product’s usefulness or relevance in simple terms.

Then, there is the option to simply treat your content production almost as if it was a TV show or magazine, aiming to produce genuinely engaging content in its own right before incorporating advertisements for your products or services into it.

There’s a lot that your firm can do to get more out of its content and broader online presence. Get in touch with Piranha Designs today about the search engine optimisation and marketing packages that could help to cultivate the right image for your business heading into 2018.


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