In recent days there have been grumblings of disquiet over a few vocal bloggers decrying an apparent rampant overuse of Twitter Bootstrap – a toolkit of simple but elegant HTML and CSS conventions used for building web apps. While this nerd backlash may seem to some to be a storm in a teacup, it’s raised a few heckles with developers who find the convenience of the library to be a good thing.
The issue appears to be the “samey-ness” of websites using the framework. Sites such as the Built With Bootstrap Tumblr feed showcase the variety of websites built with the toolkit. When flicking through the galleries a certain style does leap out and, admittedly, some even use the library “as is”. The result though is not entirely unpleasant, and as one wily commentator pointed out it is better than the ‘Geocities look’ that developers would routinely come up with on their own.
Still, there are others fighting in its corner. Dave Winer has run to its defence and compares Bootstrap to the legendary Apple Macintosh, arguing that the standardisation and ease of use it offers allows people to focus on what’s important with a web application. The negativity he believes comes from people worrying that such frameworks commoditise user experience, will block development of alternatives or even somehow remove creativity from web design. Winer believes that the benefits of adapting to resources like Bootstrap allow developers to build ever better software on these foundations rather than wasting time on the basics over and over again.
I heartily concur with his opinion. From my own perspective I have found working with Bootstrap to be a great experience allowing me to concentrate on the nuts ands bolts, nitty gritty of development without having to worry about how form controls look by default. Bootstrap offers a standardised and useful set of defaults that allow the developer to focus on content and usability rather than wrestling with getting the same appearance with a dozen different browsers. All that and it doesn’t look half bad either.
One of the cornerstones of development is to not repeat yourself. Using third party frameworks or developing your own saves wasted time and allows us to focus on the needs of the customer. Bootstrap is the beginning. The rapid take up and support it has generated shows there is a need for such frameworks. Eventually there will be replacements and soon thereafter Bloggers complaining that everything looks the same. Again.
The Raspberry Pi computer went on sale today priced at just £22. The coveted device immediately sold out, crashing the product’s the website and leaving many gadget buffs disappointed.
So what is everyone so excited about? The Raspberry Pi doesn’t have any bells and whistles, in fact, you even have to provide your own keyboard and monitor to use it. The unique selling point is simplicity – the Raspberry Pi is fully programmable by the user.
The Raspberry Pi is capable of internet browsing and has a USB port, Ethernet port, SD card slot, and an HDMI port for video output. At its heart is an ARM chip, also found in mobile phones and tablets, and it runs a version of the free open-source operating system Linux.
It is hoped that the Raspberry Pi will inspire a new generation of children to learn computer programming, just like its forebears the Sinclair Spectrum and BBC Micro did in the 1980s. Eben Upton, the founder of the charity behind Raspberry Pi, thinks one should be given away to every child as they reach a new school year – something that will be achievable thanks to the low cost of the device.
Upton got the idea for the Rasberry Pit when he found that applicants for computer-related degree course places “[didn’t] seem to know enough about what a computer really was or how it worked….”
As one of the non-technical staff at eSterling, I’m certainly familiar with knowing how to use a computer, but having no idea how it actually works. Perhaps the Raspberry Pi could revolutionise the way we think about computer programming and make technology accessible to schools and businesses alike.
This year we’re bringing you a little light relief on the eSterling blog with Fun for Friday. There are so many weird things on the internet; we thought we might as well share them with you all.
Today’s Fun for Friday is good clean fun – the Facebook shower curtain. If you’re someone who checks Twitter on the toilet, this social media bathroom accessory is just the thing you’ve been looking for. All you need to do is put your face in the transparent ‘profile picture’ window and set your status to ‘I’m in the shower. LOL’.
The social shower curtain is available to pre-order from website www.spinninghat.com.
Why do I use Twitter and what do I get out of it? First of all I read many articles about how great Twitter is and how to use it but I don’t see many articles about what people get out of it. So here’s my take on why I personally use Twitter and how to get the most out of it.
First of all, I should tell you I have a lot of hobbies and interests. Im not one of these people who get’s home from work and sits in front of the TV – I’m not having a go at people like that – hey, whatever makes you happy.
I like to create stuff. My main hobby is music and in particular writing and recording music. I use twitter to find out about all of my favourite artists – news, gigs, interviews, videos, documentaries, new releases and memorabilia. For example, I first found out Noel Gallagher was recording his debut solo album from Twitter, not BBC News, not google or the NME, but Twitter. A lead singer from a band that were in the same recording studio tweeted Noel Gallagher was in the studio opposite recording his new album! Brilliant!
When it comes to my hobby of writing and recording music I follow people who will help me to improve what I do. I use Garageband to record my music so I follow Garageband experts and Garageband Software Developers who help me to improve the production of my music. Simple. From Twitter, I learnt of a piece of software that would give me a brilliant drum sound for my songs, I brought the software and it’s improved my songs 10 fold! I would never have known about it if it wasn’t for Twitter.
I first learnt of the deaths of Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse on Twitter and I don’t follow any news corporations. News travels fast on Twitter and you tend to be on the cusp of every major news story around the world.
I remember watching the shocking scenes of the London Riots live on my TV and simultaneously checking my twitter feed to hear the latest goings on from people I knew in those areas. Eventually a whole movement was created from Twitter that night. An every day person started a campaign to ‘Reclaim the Streets’ eventually amassed thousands of people to help clean up the streets of London the very next day.
Im also interested in gadgets (boys toys) so I follow Apple news and rumours. I hear all the latest about gadgets from all over the world. I learnt about ‘FaceTime’ on Twitter when the news broke months before any major news station caught on. I learnt of the death of Steve Jobs on Twitter and the subsequent fall out all came from Twitter
I know what your thinking – ‘You’ve got loads of interests – How would I use it?’
Well my Wife has no hobbies but she too is a Twitter user. She follows actors and actresses, music artists, celebs, friends and family members. She loves it, she’s forever asking me if I’ve seen this tweet, or that tweet.
An old friend of mine who I only see about 3 times a year is a regular tweeter and I get to hear about what he’s up to so when we meet up its all the richer for conversation pieces.
The simple fact is that Twitter is for everyone and everyone can get something out of it. Sign up and search for things you would like to know more about…its that simple
When you’re asked by your web agency to write some content for your new web site all you really have as a guide are the page titles (About Us, Company Overview etc.). It’s hard to know what to write about, let alone find the spare hours to write it. That’s why we as Web Designers appreciate it must be difficult to start writing when the day-to-day running of your company takes up so much time.
To get you started here are a few small tips on how to write the perfect content for your web site quickly and painlessly.
What to Write About
What is your industry? Where are you based? What areas do you cover? What are your products? Do you offer services? Why are you different from other companies in your industry?
These are all questions that will need to be answered pretty quickly when a potential customer lands on your web site so answer these questions immediately. Try not to write long sentences and paragraphs if possible – this will immediately turn a potential customer away. Make your copy punchy and interesting, don’t just list the facts – make it personable.
How to write your content
Always bear in mind your ideal keywords when writing for your web site. You may have heard about ‘Keyword Rich Content’ – this is basically a way of writing that includes the words or phrases your potential customer would type into a search engine to find your business – USE IT! A bullet point list is always easy to follow and is a great way of listing services and products.
…and remember, you’re selling your company to the world!
What to do once your content is written
Run spells checks and re-read it all. Here at eSterling we always double check the content our customers send us and we can improve where necessary. Send it to your Web Designers on a word or similar document.
This is just a small article on writing content for the web so if you need any more help please call our help desk on 0121 766 8087 and they will be able to go through all this in greater detail.
They have now invented a term for it – m-Commerce
Studies show that consumers buying goods from their handsets is set to more than double by the year 2013 (Survey by Ovum and Verdict Research Company)
There is a current total of £123 million being spent via mobile, out of a total of £21bn online retail spend.
There is already a shift towards the mobile-web, so are we ready for what they reckon could be the next big step?
What type of products might one buy via a mobile device?
Am I a dinosaur for feeling it will be years before I take a chance on buying from a mobile? Although I might buy from a Tablet.
What do you think?
Here are some simple ways to increase you ROI via conversion rate optimisation.
1. Be Relevant
Your ad text or meta description should always be relevant so the user will know what to expect when they arrive on your website. There is no point making wild claims that are not reflected on the site as this will just lead to poor bounce rates. Make sure that you use the keyword in your H1 title as this will help with both users and search engines. Perhaps one of the most vital points to consider in term of relevancy for the user is to use an accurate image. All to often I see generic images used on eCommerce sites, this will do nothing to improve sales. Always use your keywords in crawlable areas of the page as well utilising keywords in the domain if you can.
You must quickly and simply portray your business proposition to your customer, frame the product or service in your opening text, ensure you prioritise your key features and benefits, consider the best way to get your point across – text, image, Video? Next try to see it from your customers point of view, see if you can handle any objections or concerns they may have about purchasing from you. One final point to consider is not to overwhelm the the user, do not be tempted to bombard them with too much information – an alternative may be to include downloadable demo, white papers or fact sheets. Always use a call to action.
The more trust your site can instill in the user the more sales it will make. This statement is so true for on-line shops. This can be done by the site itself as well as in the promotion of your company brand and the product/service brand. Your main enemies here are scepticism brought about by lack of information, not including reputable 3rd party ratings/awards and badges, and not have an SSL or payment system from a good provider. Try to use trust inspiring text, for example point it out if you have secure check out system, include testimonials in either text or video format. In terms of the web design you need to have a clean and tidy looking site, it should look professional and not rushed or cheap.
4. Understand User Intent
Try to find out what your typical customer responds to, try varied approaches and stick with the one that works best. You could try a softer call to actions or a harder approach, you may wish to experiment with different web designs and ways of presenting data, perhaps you will convert better if you can engage with the customer in a phone call? The key with all the things you try to is to ensure that you have a tested it in a fair way and to measure your success. Once you have a good amount of data you can choose the best way to proceed in terms of your customers intent.
5. Remove Distractions
Remember that the more obstacles you put between the moment a user enters your site and the point of sale the more likley it is that the sale will not complete. Your sales process should be simple, linear and as easy as possible. Common issues are including global navigation on your PPC landing pages, not using technology’s like JQuery to stop users from leaving the sales funnel by utilising tabbed pages of JS overlays to keep users on the page, off topic text and distracting images, asking for too much information from the user just to make the sale.
To find out more about conversion rate optimisation, get in touch with us here at eSterling.
This week Google have launched a new feature on Google+, called Google+ Pages. This allows businesses to set up Google+ accounts as a way for them to interact with their customers through Google’s social network.
Up to now Google+ has been purely a people-to-people social network, but this is the internet giant’s first attempt at using the network to connect people to businesses.
The pages are similar to company pages on Facebook and will work in similar way. Customers can already +1 your page providing you have a +1 button on your web site, but now they can also add you to their “Circles”. This means they will be kept up to date with whatever you put on your Google+ pages.
If you want to get your business on Google+ or wish to discuss any aspects of using social networks to connect with potential and existing customers give us a call and speak to one of our social media experts.
November is upon us and that can only mean one thing – it’s practically Christmas! Consumers are sure to start their Christmas shopping in the next few weeks and many people will be turning to online stores to beat the queues.
A recent study by e-commerce data quality experts at Postcode Anywhere polled a thousand UK consumers. The results show that while 25% of consumers plan to buy more Christmas presents online this year than last, only 5% will reduce their online spend.
Postcode Anywhere’s sales and marketing director Phil Rothwell said, “With 5% set to reduce spend and 25% to spend more, all things being equal, retailers could well be looking at a rise of around 20% in online sales this Christmas, a similar increase to last year. This is a fairly significant finding, but possibly not a surprising one given the circumstances.”
If you own an e-commerce website you should be thinking about how you can maximise seasonal sales. An easy way to do this is to start an Adwords campaign, which allows you to advertise on Google quickly and simply. You can choose your own monthly budget and even control when your ad appears.
If you already have an Adwords campaign, you should think about increasing your budget from now until January to maximise Christmas sales. Don’t forget that many consumers will be looking for great deals in January as well!
Here at eSterling we can provide you with assistance with Adwords, so if you would like to find out more please get in touch.
I’d forgive you if you didn’t believe this headline (I had to check April Fools Day hadn’t come early myself!), yet it’s true – the Hammer-pants-wearing entrepreneur has launched his very own search engine.
It’s called WireDoo and MC Hammer is hoping that it will revolutionise search in the same way that Google has. The concept of WireDoo isn’t bad – Mr Hammer calls the way it works a ‘deep search’ and hopes it will return results based on relational topics.
MC Hammer, real name Stanley Kirk Burrell, discussed this in more detail at the Web 2.0 Summit inSan Francisco. He explained that today’s search engines work by connecting keywords (search terms) to one topic (not an entirely accurate view I must add). However, MC Hammer believes that when you search for a home, you will want to see information about the surrounding community, schools and crime statistics etc. And this is exactly what WireDoo claims to achieve, hence the tagline is “Search once and see what’s related.”
The rapper didn’t reveal much more about the how the search engine will work in practice and we’ll have to wait a little longer to try it for ourselves as it is currently in pre-beta. You can however sign-up to get access to WireDoo as soon as it’s ready.
Taking on Google will no-doubt be a tough one for MC Hammer and if he wants to prove he’s ‘Too Legit to Quit’ he’ll have to be prepared for a rough ride. Toppling Google has so far proved difficult for big-hitters such as Yahoo and Bing and many other failed projects (who remembers HotBot, AltaVista and Infoseek?).
However, if MC Hammer’s project does take off, eSterling will be the first to let you know. You Can’t Touch This!