Gravity Digital Web Design Derby

Digital Marketing Blog

How to optimise images for your website

How to optimise images for your website

We love launching new websites for companies and it’s great to be able to give them full control over updating their own sites. Adding news articles, case studies and updating text are things that ideally can be done in-house very easily. When it comes to adding images though, things can get messy!

Here at Gravity, we’re often phoned to help ‘fix’ a website after being updated by a client. “It takes ages to load” or “the image is really blurry”. And recently, “I set some images to upload overnight and they haven’t even got halfway this morning”. Hmmm. I can guess what the problems are straight away, but then I’ve been using Photoshop since version 1 (there was only one undo step – it was a nightmare!).

Okay, I know I don’t look that old (no Photoshop expert does) but here are a few tips to help you with getting the best results for your website that I’ve picked up over the last couple of years (or so) and remember, you don’t only have to use Photoshop (see below for alternatives).

 

Crop, Resize

Cropping the image is the first thing you need to do. It’s hard to teach but here are a few pointers:

  • Crop out unnecessary details to redirect focus to the subject.
  • Don’t always centre the subject and don’t forget the rule of thirds. Most cameras and image editors have a Rule of Thirds guide built-in. You can also experiment with rotating an image to produce a more dynamic composition.
  • For a series of photos, keep your cropping consistent.
  • Don’t try to fit a portrait photo into a landscape space and vice versa. Just have a new photo taken – it will look much better.

When it comes to replacing or adding a similar image, you can easily find the size of an existing image on your website by right clicking and viewing the image properties in your browser.

How to edit images for your website

Make sure you save the new image at this size to avoid any problems. Most programs allow you to set the image size in pixels (both width and height) so you can crop and resize in one go. Just don’t forget to work on a copy in case you need to revert to your original version.

 

Adjust levels and sharpen

At this point it’s also a good idea to check the colour levels and sharpness of the image. If using professional photography then you should only need to use the ‘Sharpen’ filter. It can make a big difference…

Compressing images for your website

Saving images and reducing files sizes

It’s so important to compress images when saving them for the web. It’s important for visitors, who will only wait a few seconds before going elsewhere, and it’s important for Google. Large images are the number one cause of slow websites and if your web site is slow to load, it won’t rank as highly as some of your competitors.

If using Photoshop, when you’ve cropped and resized the image, use the File > Export option and select ‘Save for Web’. In this window you can select the file type (more below) and select the quality. The lower the quality, the smaller the file size (which means it loads faster). Don’t reduce the quality too much though, otherwise the image won’t look great. Experiment with each image to get the best compromise between quality and size.

 

Choosing a file type. JPEG, PNG or GIF??

As a rule of thumb, use jpeg’s for photos and PNG files for things like logos and graphics. Jpeg’s use ‘lossy’ compression, meaning the image quality is reduced as the file size decreases. PNG files come in either PNG-8 (which is 256 colours – the same as GIF files but when saved are even smaller) and PNG-24 which have lossless compression (but for most images are larger file sizes than Jpegs). PNG-24 files can use transparency though, so are great if you want to overlay an image onto an existing background.

Image compression for websites

Lower quality = smaller file = faster loading. Higher quality = bigger file = slower loading times.

 

Photoshop alternatives

There are lots of free applications and online services you can use to resize images. A great open-source one is called GIMP (Google it. No, sorry don’t – just go here: https://www.gimp.org/ it might be safer) or search for ‘Resize images online’. There are 1000’s of options.

 

If you’re responsible for keeping your website updated, there really is no excuse for not converting and saving your images at the correct size. If you’re a technophobe or just simply don’t have the time to alter your images, get your photographer or marketing agency (or even your kids!) to supply you with web ready images.

Just remember, photography can make or break a website – literally.

 

Find out more…

If you’d like a chat about an upcoming website design project, please email us on [email protected] or give us a call on 01332 416555.

Digital Marketing Blog

Customers use websites in different ways so make sure you cater for them all.

Customers use websites in different ways so make sure you cater for them all.

Today’s consumer expects to be able to visit your business website on any device, from their mobile phone to their tablet to their desktop. That creates an interesting challenge for businesses and designers: how to create a site that works across all devices, provides the same essential information but adapts to fit not only varying screen sizes but customer behaviour too? The goal here is to create a user experience that is seamless and positive whatever, and wherever, the access point.

Research has shown that people have different expectations when they check out a site on their mobile device as compared with when they look at it on their static desktop, so a business’s job is to make sure their virtual shopfront interfaces with their customer in the best possible way each time.

 

One size does NOT fit all

Creating a mobile-friendly website categorically does not mean simply shrinking your existing desktop site to fit a smaller screen. Both laptop and mobile users deserve sites that have been well thought through for their needs – and with half your viewers looking at your site on their desktop, the way your website performs for them is equally as important.

 

Key differences for mobile users:

Speed – Mobile users are typically in more of a hurry to cut to the chase and get vital information quickly than desktop viewers; this may be because they’re on the move, checking their phone between meetings, or relaxing in front of the TV in the evening, browsing your site at the same time, and therefore easily frustrated with anything that’s hard to see or too fiddly. These users will not be prepared to spend as much time exploring your site as your desktop visitors, but they still expect to be shown the same information; this means re-prioritising by switching on and off elements of the site to make them appear differently depending on the viewing method. There will be differences too in how a device is used. For example, a desktop site can have “mouseovers” – content that is uncovered when you hover over it with a mouse – while, clearly, a mobile user has no mouse, so will need this information to be accessed in a different way.

With this in mind, design the mobile site so the parts the user is most likely to want to view are clearly visible on the landing page. A user survey conducted by Google and AnswerLab uncovered some interesting insights into what mobile users valued most when accessing sites from their device. Consider the following when making things as easy as possible for your mobile user:

  • Big, easily-pressed buttons
  • User-actions – such as “buy”, “get quote” or “check availability” – will benefit from being situated in large letters on the landing page, while on a desktop you may prefer a more subtle approach so as not to put off the customer with too much of a sales pitch early on in their visit
  • Clear means of getting back to the home page, e.g., selecting your business logo
  • Edited down content on the landing page so it’s shorter and punchier
  • Adding filters to menus so they are pared down but the same level of content is still there

On the move – Adaptability is key for any business to succeed and web design is no different. When creating your across-all-devices web strategy think carefully about what mobile users may want and need, that desktop users won’t – and also, what advantages a mobile phone may have over a laptop. For example, if your business is customer-interfacing – a shop, for example – consider including mobile-specific features such as directions to your premises which use the phone’s GPS. However, it is important to respect your customer too: many people don’t like to feel they have been “found” by mysterious Internet forces without being asked first. So, if you’re including a tracking feature consider incorporating a “Find me” button rather than a button which asks for your customer’s location – that way, they feel they are in control and not you. Another common feature of a mobile-only site is a ‘call me’ button that allows users to call you up while checking the site.

Different times of day – One very exciting new area to consider when designing sites, which we are pioneering at Gravity Digital, is to change information on our mobile-friendly sites depending on the time of day. As with all the other points above, the best way of coming up with innovative design is to put yourself in the shoes of your users. In particular, think how their needs will change as the day progresses. At eight in the evening, a mobile user may be interested in different information than they are in the morning – whether that’s because they are out with friends or watching TV at home. Your business could give different content than when the site is accessed at 10am. Let’s say your business is in idyllic country cottages – you could include a ‘sunset’ picture in the evenings, which will make your site feel fresh and up to date. Or if you run a restaurant, a button which tells people how busy you are when they press it at 7pm, or what the specials are today, will be both innovative and useful. First thing in the morning? Think about what commuters might need when looking at your site. Remember, everything is flexible, from colours to content.

The key is, as with all areas of business, try to think about the needs of your customer and put them at the forefront of every decision you make. That way, you’re sure to come up with multi-purpose, user-friendly websites that will take you from strength to strength.

 

Find out more…

We are a no-nonsense web design agency based in Derby. If you’d like a quote for a website, please email us on [email protected] or give us a call on 01332 416555.

Digital Marketing Blog

New website keeps courier firm moving

New website keeps courier firm moving

The logistics sector is evolving rapidly and for small to medium sized courier firms it is imperative that the website looks great and performs even better.

GT Couriers was established in May 2000, and since then this Derbyshire based company has built a successful business that boasts a logistics network providing deliveries in the UK and overseas.

Wayne Turner, director, is delighted with the result; “We love the new website and it will help us maintain our competitive edge online. It’s intuitive design and simple navigation makes it easier for visitors to see the wide range of services available and ultimately make an enquiry for a competitive quote.

“We know that the launch of our new website is just the beginning of our new online journey and we are looking forward to the next phase of work with Gravity which will include SEO, AdWords and social media management.”

It takes a few seconds for people to make a decision about a brand through their website so ensuring it functions efficiently is imperative.

Gravity Digital specialise in website design and attracting visitors to the website by providing effective digital marketing support. Each website is different to the next, but one thing that all websites have in common is that the visitor is firmly at the centre of everything they do. Websites should be as individual as the organisation whether it’s a courier firm or engineering company – one size doesn’t fit all!

http://www.gtcouriers.co.uk/

If your company would like a new website or digital marketing support, please feel free to get in touch or take a look at some of the other websites we have developed.

 

Find out more…

We are a no-nonsense website design company based in Derby. To learn more about how we can help you get results from your website, please email us on [email protected] or give us a call on 01332 416555.

Digital Marketing Blog

Gravity Digital launches e-commerce website for luxury brand

Gravity Digital launches e-commerce website for luxury brand

Internationally renowned luxury brand Wheathills decided it was time to launch a new look website to promote their outstanding craftsmanship as marquetry and period furniture specialists.

Wheathills is a family run Derbyshire based company that specialise in hand-crafting the most ‘exquisite’ pieces of bespoke and personalised furniture and memory boxes. This is the first time this luxury brand will be selling a select range of products online.

Les Banton of Wheathills, is delighted with the website; “Since the website went live we have received some great enquiries from all over the world.

“The website has opened up many opportunities and we recognise the importance of keeping up with the ever-changing world of retail as people want to be able find products and shop at their convenience, no matter what time of day. Due to the nature of what we do, Wheathills is driven by attention to detail and our new digital store displays our expertise and range of products perfectly!”

Andy Smith, Director of Gravity Digital, has worked with Wheathills to create the perfect online presence to appeal to their prestigious clients; “Creating a website for such an esteemed company to promote their range of hand crafted luxury products was a great pleasure. Wheathills have clients all over the world so the website needed to appeal to each and every one of them whilst introducing them to the e-commerce aspect.

“The website was designed around Wheathills exact requirements and needed to display the products by being visual, informative and reflect the high-quality nature of their products.”

Websites are a vitally important marketing tool for any company and need to do so much more than just look good. Visitors to a website need to feel like they have ‘arrived’ especially with luxury brands, as there are only a few seconds to make a good first impression.

Gravity Digital specialise in website design from a visitor’s point of view and each website they develop is different to the next. Websites should be as individual as the organisation whether it’s a multi-national, SME or Charity – one size doesn’t fit all!

https://www.wheathills.com/

If your company would like a new website please feel free to get in touch or take a look at some of the other website we have developed.

Find out more…

We are a no-nonsense digital marketing agency based in Derby. To learn more about how we can help you get results from your marketing, then get in touch. Please email us on [email protected] or give us a call on 01332 416555.

Digital Marketing Blog

What is an SSL/TLS Certificate and does my website need one?

What is an SSL/TLS Certificate and does my website need one?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a security method which allows for the encryption of data when being transferred over the internet. TLS (Transport Layer Security) is an updated, more secure, version of SSL. We still refer to security certificates as SSL because it is a more commonly used term.

Typically, when you submit a form on a website, the data is sent as plain text which potentially leaves you and visitors to your website vulnerable to hackers. SSL certificates help to protect the transfer of sensitive information, such as personal data and credit card details, by encrypting it during transmission between the user’s browser and the web server.

Having an SSL certificate is your way of telling visitors to your site that their information is safe with you – an excellent way to boost trust. It’s a level of web security that isn’t just “nice to have” anymore – SSL encryption is essential for boosting security for your website users.

How do I know if a website has an SSL certificate?

The easiest way to tell, is to check the URL in the address bar. Websites using SSL always start with HTTPS as opposed to the unsecure HTTP. Depending on the browser you’re using, there are also other visual clues like a green padlock, as shown below in Google Chrome.

Other than improved security, are there any other benefits?

Yes. If you’re an online business, there are other benefits too in using HTTPS instead of HTTP:

Improved Google Rankings

Search engine optimisation (SEO) helps your website climb to the top of Google’s search results. It’s a combination of optimal web design, site content, keywords, speed, links and security. Google announced (back in 2014) that it would give a higher preference to websites that have an SSL certificate installed. Using HTTPS can increase your rankings in the search engines.

Improve online sales

If you’re selling online, then increasingly your shoppers will check to see if you have SSL. Without it, they might not even stay long enough to see what you have to offer. Having an SSL increases your chances of gaining and retaining customers who come to your website.

Google has recently announced they will be flagging websites without SSL certificates in their Chrome web browser. If your website visitor is using Chrome and visits your website, they may get a message stating that your website is not safe. This is a big turn off for people – nobody wants to risk sharing information online if they’re not sure it’s secure.

How do I get a SSL Certificate on my site?

Purchasing and installing an SSL certificate has a small cost associated with it, and the certificate needs to be renewed each year. If Gravity Digital produced and/or host your website, please get in touch with us and we can set up an SSL certificate for you and look after ongoing renewals. You can also order online here.

If you have a website that has been built by another web design company, get in touch with them and ask them to install one. Alternatively, if you’ve built your own site, get in touch with your hosting company.

If you are thinking about having a new website, then make sure you get an SSL certificate in place for the launch.

Please feel free to get in touch if you would like any more details.

Find out more…

We are a no-nonsense web design agency based in Derby. To learn more about how we can help you get results from your marketing, then get in touch. Please email us on [email protected] or give us a call on 01332 416555.

Digital Marketing Blog

The Importance of Professional Headshot Photography

The Importance of Professional Headshot Photography

“Nottingham Trent University has finally seen the light and is replacing really awful photos taken on a web cam for security passes, with ones taken by an in-house photographer. Staff are now seen to look professional and competent . Bad photos are as bad if not worse than typos in corporate marketing. Even our students get to use the professional photographer for their LinkedIn pictures now (you should have seen the terrible ones they choose – ones with other people in for example!)”

Rebecca Goodall MRICS –  Senior lecturer at Nottingham Trent University

 

Ask a photographer what they think about the importance of professional headshots and they will probably express their despair at all the bad photographs out there.

The first thing I would ask someone who questions whether a professional headshot is necessary is “would you allow the person building your extension at home to build your companys website?”  Each of these jobs are skilled professions in which the person has hopefully gained years of expert knowledge and experience in doing the job to a high standard.

A set of professional photographs of you, your staff and your products, along with your website, branding and social media are all parts of your PR toolkit. If you really want your business to succeed to it’s fullest potential, why would you be satisfied with a sub standard toolkit with worn out, shabby old tools that simply don’t do the job anymore? Particularly when it’s highly likely that your competitor has a set of shiny new spanners.

If you’re considering doing your own (DIY) headshots, you can see clearly from the examples here the huge differences when comparing a DIY shot taken on an iPhone, and a shot taken by me with professional kit. Even though both shots are taken in exactly the same office one is clearly suitable for professional purposes, the other is definitely not.

If you’re thinking of using a photograph you already have, you know, just for now, until you get something sorted…..your self styled photo says to potential clients “I couldn’t be bothered to get a proper one done”….so what does that say about how you perceive your own business, and in turn how they will? Unless the job you’re looking for is “sunbed monitor” or “snowboard tester” it’s perhaps best not to have a full body shot of you on holiday or partaking of some kind of sporting activity, because quite frankly, nobody cares if your carving is awesome dude, potential clients care if you look approachable, capable and literate.

As an experienced professional photographer, I’m well aware that the majority of people don’t enjoy being photographed, I’m one of them. When I had my own headshot done, I asked my friend who is also my assistant to take the photograph. She knew exactly how to relax me, how to position me and took the photo quickly and efficiently so the experience didn’t drag on. The saying “throw enough mud and something will stick” really isn’t the way to go when you’re trying to make a good impression on LinkedIn.

Here are a few reasons why a professional headshot is vital, as opposed to a pouting selfie or “that really nice picture of you at last year’s Christmas party”:

  • Do you have a best side or a worst side? A good photographer can hide or accentuate these sensitive features, giving you a photograph you’ll be proud of.
  • A professional has the right equipment and lighting. Would you know what lens is best to use for portraiture and at what aperture to separate you from the background?
  • They will have creative ideas about locations and experience in how to use natural light effectively.
  • Whilst the basics of a headshot are the same, i.e. a clean, sharp, well lit, head and shoulders portrait, the photograph for a personal trainer should be approached differently to that of a solicitor in terms of clothing, background and posing.
  • You get what you pay for, shopping around for services is always a good idea, but with professional photography, you always get what you pay for. Headshots are an investment which you’ll be able to use for a period of time, so invest wisely.

So, if you’re at the point of considering using the services of a professional photographer, remember, never underestimate the power of your portrait.

 

Find out more…

If you’d like a chat about your photography, please email us on [email protected] or give us a call on 01332 416555.

Digital Marketing Blog

AMP: What is AMP and do I need it?

AMP: What is AMP and do I need it?

You may have seen a small ϟ AMP symbol next to some Google search results when using your phone but what does it mean? Despite what some people think, you won’t get electrocuted if you click the link. What you will get is a super-fast mobile experience.

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and is an open-source initiative from Google to make just that – really fast mobile pages. While most responsively designed websites look fine on screens of all sizes, they often contain a lot of the baggage of desktop websites when viewed on mobile. This can include large images, big Javascript libraries (a programing language used to create interactive effects) and CSS (used for styling web pages) and lots of unnecessary code. An AMP is a highly optimised version of a web page that has been stripped right back allowing it to load almost instantaneously.

HTML was introduced in 1980, around 15 years before the first iPhone, so this is what HTML may have looked like if it had been designed back then, with mobile performance in mind. AMP pages can still look good, they can still use CSS, images and some Javascript but the way they are programmed and delivered to your phone is different.

Another thing that speeds up AMP is the fact that they can be pre-rendered and cached by third parties. This means that while the publisher still controls their content, platforms, such as Google, can easily mirror the content for optimal delivery speed to users.

Should I implement AMP on my website?

The AMP approach is particularly suited to news based websites and AMP has seen large scale adoption in the publishing world so the answer here would be yes, particularly for publishers with a Google News presence.

If your business website is already optimised for mobile and was developed with best practices in mind, it should be quick already, so you may not see much benefit. However, any site with lots of static content would benefit from the increase in speed and user experience. This could be recipe sites, travel guides, entertainment sites or even a fairly standard corporate blog.

At the moment Google doesn’t prioritise content that is on AMP pages in their search listings, but should this change in the future then we’ll have no alternative but to AMP up our websites.

Click here to view an AMP version of this page

 

Find out more…

We are a down to earth web design agency based in Derby. If you’d like a chat about an upcoming project, please email us on [email protected] or give us a call on 01332 416555.

Digital Marketing Blog

Why pay more than £99 for a website?

You’ve seen the emails, you’ve heard the promises. You too can have a website for £99. But the question is, would you really want one?

It’s cheap, yes, but is it effective? At Gravity Digital we are always explaining that a company website is the single most important marketing tool today, and this is why.

  • 90% of people don’t trust websites that have mistakes.
  • 90% of people that phone, email or visit your business will have researched your company online first.
  • 94% of business to business customers research online before making procurement decisions.
  • 85% of customers look online or ‘Google it’ before making purchase decisions.
  • 75% of people trust online reviews and say they are influenced by positive or negative online reviews.
  • It takes 2.6 seconds for a visitor to your website to have that all important ‘first impression’ about your company and brand.

When put like that, it doesn’t make business sense to leave your websites to mass marketing firms, your well-meaning brother-in-law or your IT whizz kid son, however cost effective they may be. What you really need is a well-designed, functional, responsive and integrated website – not something that just looks pretty.

Your company’s website says a lot about who you are, and when you are saying it, it needs to say, ‘we are professional’, ‘we are the best in our industry’ and ‘we are solid and trustworthy’.

As the UK’s largest search engine (the one more than 90% of people use), Google studies in every detail how people interact with websites. Google takes tracking these interactions very seriously and, from this information, we can gain important insights that can help us influence the way our online presence is represented.

For example, customers move between devices when engaging with a company online. So when you have an interested person looking at your website from their laptop, mobile or tablet, the experience and 2.6 second first impression must be exactly what you want them to see.

With ecommerce websites, studies show that re-engaging with a customer within the first 60 minutes of them having abandoned their shopping basket is optimal in improving sales conversion rates. By contacting customers back to remind them they have unfinished business with you lets them know that you are interested in them.  When approaching this side of the web design process you want to make their experience with the brand as slick and professional as possible.

But let us take a step back for a moment. Before your customer has even visited your website they will have come across your brand alongside all those of your competitors – in Google search results, or on Twitter.  People turn first to search engines and social media channels to learn about products. This is where your customer’s journey starts.

It is no good having the best looking website in town if no one knows it’s there.  Company websites have to work for their place in society. Getting the SEO-structure of your website right will help you to manipulate how your brand appears on search engines to create the best first impression. Getting your social mark up right in the code of your website will help you present product pages to their best advantage on social media.

The customer experience for your brand also needs to be rolled out to all online channels your business uses, such as search engine marketing and social media channels, so that prospective customers understand they have found a business they can trust.

Your website is not just about selling (ok, so yes, it is *mostly* about selling but not *all* about selling).  Good website design can accommodate other business goals too.  Your website should also be about the customer service experience, which, if done right, will reduce costs for your business.  This is just as important to your bottom line as selling more products is.

If you can nurture people through the after-sales experience online, you free up your phones to enable your sales team to carry on doing what they do best – selling.

Examples of this could be to provide a place to easily reorder spares and repairs, or a customer login area to enable the download of user manuals.  You can also avoid huge postal costs of brochures if you allow people access to PDFs online. And you can reduce inbound calls to your business by providing well-written content that leads customers through FAQs.

Businesses that want to generate sales or business leads online need to focus on making their websites look and feel professional.  This means building a site that contains engaging and persuasive content to assist in the psychology of convincing customers that they will go on to purchase from you and not a competitor.

Moreover it means getting the ‘technical bits’ of your website right. The way your website is coded, how tricky parts of your website work such as the shopping baskets and checkout systems, even where and how it is hosted will ensure that your customers have a reliable and trustworthy experience.

When it comes to website design, getting it right is vitally important for all businesses.  Those that fail to heed this warning are putting their business reputation at risk.

So with all these considerations in mind, it is time to stop thinking about your website as a cost, but to instead think of it as an investment.  You spend money to make money, so spend wisely.

Find out more…

We are a no-nonsense web design agency based in Derby. To learn more about how we can help you with your website, get in touch. Please email us on [email protected] or give us a call on 01332 416555.

Digital Marketing Blog

Why you can no longer afford to have a website that isn’t mobile-friendly.

Why you can no longer afford to have a website that isn’t mobile-friendly.

Users are increasingly visiting your website from a variety of different smartphones, tablets, and other devices– and it only makes sense to accommodate this growing number of visitors. From a usability perspective, having a mobile-friendly website is essential.

Now it makes sense from a search engine ranking perspective as Google are now penalising websites that are not mobile-friendly:

“Starting April 21 2015, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

How do I know if my website is mobile-friendly?

For the past few months, Google have been sending warnings to webmasters who have sites that are not mobile-friendly:

Google and mobile friendly websites

You’ll only receive one of these warnings if you or your website designer have set up Google Webmaster Tools for your website and it isn’t currently mobile-friendly.

To make it easy for you to check, Google have  produced an online tool where you can test your site. All you need to do is enter your URL on this page to find out.

What can I do if my website isn’t mobile-friendly?

First of all, don’t panic! Your websites position in the search engine rankings shouldn’t change for those searching on desktop computers and depending on your business type, the majority of your customers may still be using desktops. However, this is changing at a rapid pace and in some countries, over half of all searches are carried out on mobile devices.

There are a number of things that can be done to make your website mobile-friendly. In some cases, the style sheets of your current website can be changed to create a responsive design which will resize the website depending on the type of device being used. In other cases it will mean rebuilding the entire site using a fully responsive design.
 

Find out more…

We are a no-nonsense web design company based in Derby. To learn more about how we can help you get results from your website, get in touch. Please email us on [email protected] or give us a call on 01332 416555.