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.

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?

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?

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.

Grow customer confidence and increase your Google rankings with an SSL Certificate

Piranha Designs - Thursday, September 28, 2017
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Is your website secure?

Grow customer confidence and increase your
Google rankings with an SSL Certificate.

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Protect your rankings

Google now adds more weight to sites that are protected by an SSL certificate and use HTTPS on all their pages. So as well as protecting your customers, you will have better search engine results, even if you do not host sensitive data.

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SSL Encrypts Sensitive Information

The primary reason why SSL is used is to keep sensitive information sent across the Internet encrypted so that only the intended recipient can understand it.

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SSL Provides Authentication

This means you can be sure that you are sending information to the right server and not to an imposter trying to steal your information.

SSL Provides Trust

Web browsers give visual cues, such as a lock icon or a green bar, to make sure visitors know when their connection is secured. This means that they will trust your website more when they see these cues and will be more likely to buy from you. SSL providers will also give you a trust seal that instills more trust in your customers.

How your site displays with SSL

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How your site will eventually look without SSL

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SSL is required for PCI Compliance

In order to accept credit card information on your website, you must pass certain audits that show that you are complying with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards. One of the requirements is properly using an SSL Certificate.

SSL options (packages):

Providing your visitors the security they deserve

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Simple SSL

£99/yr

£75 installation fee

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check.png128-256-bit encryption

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Standard SSL

£239/yr

£75 installation fee

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check.png£10,000 warranty

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Extended SSL

£349/yr

£75 installation fee

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Making your website accessible isn’t a waste of time – it actually boosts sales

Piranha Designs - Monday, September 25, 2017

Group of people holding the ACCESSIBLE written speech bubble

What value do you place on designing your website to be accessible for those with disabilities and special needs? Is it something that you have already done and continue to keep a close eye on, in line with the latest government guidelines?

Or do you feel that you lack the time to bolster your site’s accessibility, or that it’s something that would only benefit a tiny proportion of your prospective customer base regardless?

Is ensuring accessibility actually that important?

There is certainly a moral argument for ensuring that everyone – and we mean everyone – can access your business’s website.

There is also a legal one, as if your website fails to meet certain design standards, you could be sued for discrimination. Such legal action isn’t something that many companies have faced so far, but it also isn’t unheard of, with several such cases having been initiated in the past by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

Given the relative lack of legal repercussions so far for organisations that fail to make their websites accessible, it may seem that ignoring this aspect of web design is something you can ‘get away with’. However, there’s another, potentially much more powerful argument for boosting a site’s accessibility: the financial one.

Even the smallest adjustments could make a big difference

Yes, the number of visitors to your site who are blind may be very small... but there will be many others who have some level of visual impairment, while others may be trying to view small screens in bright environments. By following accessibility guidelines for those with low vision, you can therefore boost the profits that your business gains from all of the above people.

It’s a similar situation when you optimise your site to be easily understood by those with dyslexia. There may be only a small proportion of people visiting your site who are actually dyslexic, but there will be many more people who are non-dyslexic and highly academic, but who might not understand certain specialised terms that you have used on your site. A site that is accessible for dyslexics therefore potentially benefits a much wider range of people.

Or what about designing your site to be more usable for those with physical disabilities? Again, it’s worth thinking here about all of the people who are not physically disabled, but who have previously had to grapple with website buttons and sliders that are so small, it takes five attempts to tap them on a touchscreen device. A website that is easy for a physically disabled person to use is also easy for everyone to use.

Enquire to Piranha Designs today about accessible web design

In fact, many of the guidelines that you may have read on how you can design a more accessible website – and the Government Digital Service has released some great ones here – overlap with the advice you may have previously read on how you can make your website easier for the entire population to use.

So, why not join the accessibility revolution? Talk to our team here at Piranha Designs about your concerns, and we’ll bear them closely in mind when providing you with a website design that will enable your company to grow among all of the segments of its target audience.

Reusing your content is just an ‘easy way out’, isn’t it?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, August 17, 2017

Erm, no, not really – especially given how difficult it can be to constantly think up great new ideas for your content. You might just, instead, use certain content repeatedly to reach many more people and boost your company marketing’s all-round effectiveness.

You’ve probably seen certain content ideas used again and again – maybe initially in a blog post, then in an infographic, and perhaps later in a podcast or YouTube video. This might have been the case across several different companies, but you can easily do it within your own business – and there’s nothing wrong with it, as long as you do it well.

In an age in which organisations seem to be spending more and more time and money on their content marketing, the astute reuse of your content can help you to extract more value from each and every content idea you have.

Content is made to be reused!

If you have any doubts about the ethical side of reusing content, think of it this way: when you tell a famous bedtime story like The Very Hungry Caterpillar or The Cat in the Hat to your children, you don’t feel guilty about not being the original source.

In fact, to do so would miss the point. Great stories deserve and indeed, need to be told time and time again, and great content tells such great stories. It’s why you should create your content from the outset with the potential for its reuse specifically in mind.

Furthermore, the effective reuse of content brings many real benefits to your business, including the ability to spin off more pieces of content given the fewer ideas you will need overall, as well as the scope to promote a single piece of content across many mediums, including your blog, email newsletters and social media.

Yes, you can reuse your content – to brilliant effect

So consider today how you might create and then reuse content on a ‘multiplication’ schedule that will help to keep it relevant and effective for longer. Could that new blog article you’ve just posted be given an extended lease of life when you share pictures from it on Instagram, grab a quote from it for your company’s next Facebook status update or post a YouTube video based on it?

Whatever anyone tells you about reusing content, it isn’t just ‘lazy’ – indeed, it could be one of the most powerful ways of telling and retelling your company’s most compelling stories, and generating more traffic, sales and revenue in the process.

Check out Piranha Designs’ wide-ranging online marketing services to discover just how far your company could go with our help.

Great product descriptions help you sell more online.

Piranha Designs - Thursday, July 03, 2014
We have all had the negative experience of buying something online and receiving something completely different than what you ordered from the net. And we all know how it feels! 
These sorts of experiences are normally the type that as a online seller you want to avoid because it damages your reputation both with individual customers, and more importantly with search engines like Google. Be aware that product descriptions and photos are normally the only reference point your potential clients will have for your products so make sure you do it properly from the start. Don't fall into the same trap as so many others by copying and pasting manufacturer's descriptions or using the same collection of words for all your products. If you are serious about e-commerce check out these tips we have prepared for you to write a good product description from the start.

 Think before you begin
Before putting pen to paper, pause for a second and meditate on what you are selling. Put down the main points that make your product useful and how you can describe them to a potential buyer. By going through this slightly longer process you can ensure that you include everything you want to get across to the public in one piece of text, so nothing important is omitted and you can feel satisfied you have done the best job possible. Style and tone should reflect the audience you are are trying to reach, so make sure you have done your market research.

 Innovate, don't imitate!
Whatever you do always make sure that you don't plagiarize what someone else has already written, even if it is the manufacturer. All text must be freshly conceived in its entirety and therefore never published beforehand on the web. While reproducing previously drawn up descriptions for the product can sound like a really quick and easy shortcut, it is the biggest mistake you can make. The first thing that will go out of the window will be its SEO value, quickly followed by your ranking in search engines. It is better to round up the best ideas from other reviews of your product or those in the same bracket and develop your own words from that material.

 Keywords are the key
Keywords are the mainstay in any product description so make sure you do not forget to include them. This will do two things at once – give you a better SEO ranking and make a client feel they have reached the place where they want to be. At the same time, don't overdo it. If you go overboard with keywords your description will be unreadable and you will be downgraded by your search engine. Most of the time keywords will appear naturally  in your text if you just write what you feel about a product, thus giving the reader an impression that you are having a dialogue with him or her.

 Be seriously funny
The most important thing about product description is that it is accessible and user-friendly. Humour and emotion play a big part in giving these pieces of text life and imagination, but always remember to tailor it to your target audience. As part of this identification with the reader you could also use colloquial terms and cliches which make a connection with your reader. In particular if what you are selling are luxury products, wow as many of the the customer's senses as possible so that they will feel it will really make them feel better.

 Put yourself in their shoes
Ask yourself what the person searching for your product is thinking. How could you make it sound so irresistible that they would not hesitate to proceed to checkout? Which things are imperative to include? Examine what characteristics could be asked for in a buyer's mind and deliver them. When you have written them all up check with someone else to see if they would have anything done differently or if they need more answers than what you provide.

 Improve your layout
Web-users don't normally have much time when they are looking to buy things online so the best thing to do is to avoid is long chunks of prose. Write up stuff clearly and concisely, so information can be examined easily and follow it with tidy bullet-points that summarise the product features to a potential client. 

 Include client feedback
While it would make no sense to point out what could go wrong with your product, it is valid to be able to show that a neutral observer like a past client has had a positive experience both with your company and more specifically, with the product in question. This can be presented in the form of product reviews or as a link to an article written about your product making sure it is recent and fits in with your description. Such a ploy could corroborate your own product description, affirm that your company is open to criticism and virtually confirm a sale. You can find product reviews all over the internet which will boost your e-commerce no end and additional modules can also be purchased online.

 Create a narrative
You want the customer to be captivated by the product and for the description to translate that emotion. One way of doing this by telling a story of the product's journey. Below are some things you could include:

Where it was manufactured
The manufacturing process and what it is made from
Who designed it
The influences that led to the product being created

A product story like this can read more like warm advice from a previous buyer than a cold description from a sales-orientated company, which, when accentuated with colloquialisms, can really create a sense of confidence in the product. A narrative like this can really give you the cutting edge over your closest rivals and will make people take more interest in what your brand has to offer.


• Show why yours is top dog

Nowadays, the harsh reality of the market is that every product has a replica which is could be cheaper than the one you are selling. Additionally, the amount of companies getting acquainted with the Web and its commercial advantages is increasing everyday. This is why your product needs to be a cut above the rest. And the best way to prove that is by contrasting it positively with other brands and using rich vocabulary like superlatives to strengthen your argument. Special offers or free services are always a great way to make your client get over their reservations and order the product immediately.

Examine the advice above to ensure your product descriptions are a real hit which will bring in more sales than ever before. When presented alongside quality images of the product and attractive web design, the results will mean you can just sit back and start taking orders.

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?


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