Last week we had the pleasure of launching (no pun intended) a new web site for our friends at Bristol Balloons. We manage 3 sites for the Balloons team and this year we were approached about providing an updated and refreshed design to the flagship of these 3 sites, Bristol Balloons.
It wasn't just the front end that required an update; we have to undertake a complete bespoke development upgrade of the entire back-end system as well.
We've been working long and hard over the last couple of months on developing a back-end system which will prove to be much more flexible and productive for the team at Bristol Balloons.
Design wise we've used the space available in terms of the width and also made key elements available 'above the fold'. The design is centred around striking images that really sell the experience of a balloon flight to users. The new clearer language, navigation and 'call to actions' will have a real positive effect on the conversion rates of the site.
We've also ensured that the new checkout process follows best practice techniques in order to reduce the number of drop-offs and ensure purchases are completed both quickly and easily.
In the limited time that the site has been live we've seen a reduction in both Exit and Bounce rates, which is extremely encouraging. Over the next few months we'll be monitoring the key analytics of the site with a view to updating the other two sites; Bath Balloons and Ballooning Network.
So if you're looking for a special treat, that once in a life time experience or just want to see our handy work, why not take a look at what Bristol Balloons has to offer....
Created on Wednesday June 20 2012 03:30 PM
So the Cookie Law was implemented over the weekend and last week we noticed a number of high profile sites implement their solution to this new legalisation, including; The BBC, The Mirror and the Financial Times.
This change has watered down the initial legalisation somewhat and ensures that the implementation we have seen over the last few days comply with the new legalisation.
If you haven't considered on the new cookie legalisation could affect you than please contact us for some advice or take a look at our best practice guide - here.
Created on Monday May 28 2012 11:03 AM
More and more Company web sites are using ME. By that I mean they talk about themselves. A lot. "We have a great range of pipe cleaners". "Our business has been running for 250 years and we are brilliant". "Look at our interesting news all about us".
It's boring. And self-orientated. Even when including keywords and SEO-focused copy, the content itself still needs to be interesting and effective for the reader. Customer-focussed, if you like.
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
We are WidgetWeb! We have a huge range of products including waterproof widgets. We offer good prices and are a well-established business of 30 years. Browse our site now!
Got a leaky sink? Need to fix it fast, and at a low price? You'll find a full range of waterproof widgets here. In a hurry? No problem. You'll love our super-speedy order process.
Why has your web visitor come to your site? They have a leaky sink and need to find some waterproof widgets - quickly - and for a good price. They’ve not come to hear about how long you've been running for and a load of flowery 'me me me'.
See how Apple are putting this in place - lots more 'you' than 'we' in this iPad piece.
The copy on your site needs to address your visitor and their needs, quickly and effectively. Keep them focussed and you'll have a better chance of them making a purchase, or making contact, or downloading your latest offers... Talk to your customers, not at them.
And finally... For every instance of we, try to say 'you', at least twice.
If you'd like to chat about your web copy with one of the team here at Focus, drop us a line here.
Created on Thursday May 10 2012 09:46 AM
Only 2 weeks to go!
On 26th May 2012 all UK websites must demonstrate compliance with the EC ePrivacy Directive. A few weeks ago we sent you our guide on what it means for you and your web site. For more information on this check out our: Cookies; Best Practice Guide.
If you haven't contacted us in regards to a Cookie Audit please feel free to do so. We will undertake this before the 26th May 2012 (charge may apply), report on the cookies which exist on your site and our recommendations on the next steps to ensure your website is demonstrating compliance.
For more information contact us on: email@example.com
Created on Wednesday May 09 2012 10:00 AM
MS Ireland have joined forces with McVitie's to organise a fantastic event to raise awareness and money for services used by people with Multiple Sclerosis and their families.
So, it was down to us here at Focus to come up with the campaign concept from the McVitie's brief. I've been lucky enough to get hands on with this wonderful project. As the newest member of the team it was particularly exciting for me to be involved with such a big project. Once everyone was happy with the logo, it was on to the site redesign. By this point I was carried away and had a real feel for the theme of the event so wasn't short of inspiration. McVitie's Tea Party is such a fun, bubbly and brilliant occasion that I thoroughly enjoyed reflecting this in the design. It was great fun putting all my energy in to this project and seeing it go live was a great achievement for me in my first six weeks in the job. Not only am I getting the satisfaction of a job well done (even if I do say so myself) but I can also feel good in the knowledge that it's all for a great cause. Check out http://teaparty.ms-society.ie/tea-party if you fancy joining in on the fun and throwing a McVitie's Tea Party of your own!
Created on Friday May 04 2012 08:04 AM
Last week (which seems like an eternity ago) I went down to London to visit Internet World 2012. I was looking forward to seeing what the 'buzz' was this year and had picked out my choices of informative seminars. I've never been to IW before so I wondering if it would be any different to the exhibitions that I had been to before.
First impressions were that it was a lot smaller than I had envisaged...it was the first day of the show so I'm sure a lot of the exhibitors had been up most of the night (or early morning) putting the final touches to stands. I had a wander around the show and spoke to a few different companies and looked forward to my first seminar on email marketing...then I saw the queue...I instantly realised that this wasn't going to happen. So I stopped off at an open Adwords seminar running in the middle of the show.
My next seminar was due to kick off in about 50 minutes so I made my way to see what was happening...queuing had started already! I was one of the fortunate few to get a seat for a seminar on Advanced SEO...it was a really informative presentation and confirmed a few of our suspicions whilst also drawing our attention to a few new things.
I also saw a few eCommerce seminars which were very interesting and it's good to hear what we're doing and recommending to our clients is similar to others in the industry and forward thinking in our approach.
All in all I was impressed with IW...it provided some new information and also confirmed that we're top of our game in terms of trends and the working methods employed by us. I'm looking forward to next year's event.
Created on Wednesday May 02 2012 11:11 AM
This isn't meant as a dig at Adobe - although they don't come out of this well - but a number of our clients have 'Live Chat' help facilities on their web sites, and an article I read recently listed the presence of
a 'live help' feature as an essential part of an ecommerce store.
Of course like most things, that depends on how you've implemented it. Let's take......hmmmm... Adobe for example. We at Focus have some Adobe software on a monthly subscription - paid for on a company credit card which is all good until you want to update the card details, as I wanted to today.
Having logged into my account and found my 'subscription', I see a nice big 'Edit Billing Info' button - all looking good. Pressing the button though reveals that "the page cannot be found" and I am advised to ring the North America / Canada helpdesk on a very expensive international phone number. Hmph.
Luckily though, I see a equally nice, big 'Live Help' button just to the right, so I click again. I'm asked my name and a friendly agent welcomes me by asking how I am. I say I am very well.
So how can Adobe help me today? I explain - in some detail - my situation, hoping it's pretty standard, easy stuff. But no. Despite being labelled 'Live Help' on a page that is only available for logged in Adobe users - he can't help. He doesn't have access to accounts or user details. I assume he can help though if I wanted to buy something - but probably couldn't help me pay for it (as that needs an Adobe account).
Just a little thought (and dare I say it Adobe, usability testing) would have helped - I guess (sigh) broken links on web sites happen (although still pretty poor) but the link to 'live help' that doesn't help is even poorer. Remove it for logged in users, or re-label it (Live Sales Help?), do something rather than have people like me blog about stuff like this.
Grudgingly I logged out - only for another live chat window to pop from nowhere, and ask me if I wanted any help....
Created on Wednesday April 25 2012 09:20 AM
We blogged a while ago about our use of Twitter's Bootstrap project on some of out internal sites. We're in the middle of a redesign for Bristol Balloons and we've been using Twitter Bootstrap as the CSS foundation for the design of the site. We've found that the process of styling internal pages has sped up considerably whilst still producing excellent results (if we do say so ourselves). We get good looking styling from the get go which can then be customised to fit the design rather than starting with a blank slate. We've also found that we're producing CSS/HTML builds which are rock solid in IE (7 and above) without the need for time consuming debugging and CSS hacks.
Twitter Bootstrap seems to be to internal styling what a grid system is to page scaffolding.
We're still in the process of deciding when we use this approach but it's certainly an interesting one. There is still much for us to explore here, particularly the responsive design elements it provides, so watch this space.
Created on Thursday April 19 2012 12:00 AM
In the Autumn of 2011 we had a review of the first six months of 2011/12 regarding the performance of the web sites and from this put together a plan for the next six months. The main aim was increasing traffic and user engagement of the sites.
Over the last 6 months we've been working closely with the BCC team and introduced a monthly update schedule that is used to create new content for the site; this includes news articles and polls along with updates to the video content on the site.
In Q1 and Q2 of 2011/12 10 news articles were created for Go Places Do Things with the news page achieving an average of 15 views per month. In Q3 & Q4 we produced 35 news articles and achieved an average of 40 views per month, not bad considering that Q2 is the busiest period for the site and Q3 is the quietest.
The additional news articles and regular updates made to the Go Places To Play web site meant that we have DOUBLED the traffic between 2010/11 and 2011/12. Our news articles have also ensured that we were ranking for specific keywords in organic search rankings. The figures really do show that content is a brilliant way of engaging and increasing users whilst ensuring that your site is refreshed. A news / blog page is a very simple way of achieving this.
Another really interesting statistic which can up was the increase in mobile traffic. We had a jump from 4% average in 2010/11 to 14% average in 2011/12 for Go Places To Play (including a massive 20% in Q4). We know mobile traffic is increasing on a weekly if not daily basis, but the 1 in 5 visitors statistic for Q4 was one which really did surprise me.
We'll be working closely with BCC to ensure that mobile visitors are as engaged as our desktop visitors.
Created on Thursday April 12 2012 08:36 AM
I was living in Hamburg, painting, when it suddenly came to me; I'm going to be a Graphic Designer. So, I boarded the plane to Bristol and began a degree in the subject. Circumstances meant I did freelance graphics by the side of unrelated jobs for a few years including a role at a law firm in Abu Dhabi. I never gave up though and finally nabbed that dream job, so here I am at Focus.
As my start date crept ever closer, excitement turned to nerves and I wasted a week worrying about the week to come. As it turns out nobody here breathes fire and I haven't fallen flat on my face... yet.
On my first day there was a casual mention of an upcoming hot air balloon ride which I foolishly took as a harmless prank on the new girl. My mistake, I should have known really. I'm surrounded by creatives with over-active minds, of course a pleasant lunch wouldn't be their idea of a team building exercise, unless the buffet is 3,000 feet high.
This, like my time here so far is quirky, surprising, exciting and definitely keeps me on my toes, the only difference is nobody here is full of hot air. I couldn't ask for a nicer bunch to be 'stuck' in a basket with. I can honestly say that I look forward to going in to work each day and getting stuck in. The intelligence behind web design is fascinating and I am fortunate enough to be involved in both the marketing and the design side of things. These guys really know their stuff and I intend to soak it up up like a sponge. An irritating sponge that eavesdrops on their conversations, but that demonstrates a willingness to learn, right?
I'm sure there are plenty more surprises in store for me here and I can't wait. I want to thank everybody at Focus for being so welcoming and of course for all the cups of tea!
Created on Thursday April 05 2012 09:58 AM
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