Web Design Blog : Toolkit Websites

Web Design Blog

Ever wondered how people are viewing your website?

 So, you’ve got your website and you probably think it looks great. But is it doing what it’s supposed to do, which is bringing in cash from new buyers and keeping existing customers coming back for more.


Digital marketing agency Massiv’s Tyrone Probert has been explaining some of the whys of website design. It’s all been worked out with some clever research which tracks the eyes of website viewers.

Probert writes: “Design needs to be visually pleasing to the eye but functional too. How do you get your visitors to transform into customers? How do you get them to navigate their way through the buying process? Good architecture, design and an understanding of how people interact with websites all help you make sales.”

He’s distilled the research into 15 simple lessons, all of which can be easily assessed against your own website.

Here they are:

  • People look at headlines more than pictures.
  • As with books, we naturally start at the top left hand corner of a site.
  • Viewers tend to tune out banners.
  • All those beautifully designed fonts may be a waste – people ignore them.
  • Once viewers get to the bottom of a web page they’re generally just scanning.
  • Short paragraphs hold the attention better than long ones.
  • The ads which get most views are at the top or on the left of your page.
  • Putting an ad within or just below attention grabbing content means more people look at it.
  • People are more likely to look at pictures if they’re large.
  • Menus and buttons are looked at for longer than anything else.
  • Even better than short paragraphs are lists – did you skip down to this list?
  • Some readers will just ignore large areas of text.
  • Headlines help focus attention on text.
  • Negative - or blank – space works, so don’t be afraid of ‘gaps’.
  • Menus are most effective when they’re towards the top of your page.

While your eyes should follow these rules too, when you look at your own website you’re going to bring an insider’s perspective and pick up on things a casual customer may never see. Try looking at a website you would use as a customer and see how you read it.

Toolkit Websites are bespoke website designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK. Get in touch today and see how we can help your business grow.
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How much time does your business spend on Social Media?



Vertical Response (VR) work with small businesses and they asked 500 of their clients about their use of social media.

The lessons Massiv have taken from this research is that: small businesses are struggling to keep on top of social media; they’re sticking with the established (essentially Facebook and Twitter) sites and are slow to move to Pinterest or Google+; content is valued, but finding the time to produce it is a problem, and companies are willing to shell out for software that helps them manage their social media marketing.

Let’s go a little further into the detail then. It’s worth bearing in mind that the respondents to this survey were willing to pay for the services of a specialist digital marketing firm so we can assume they’re quite web aware already.

When it comes to that precious time, 43% of businesses were spending more than six hours on their social media. The majority of those – a quarter – spent between six and 10 hours and only seven per cent spent more than 21 hours.

Business owners were spending much less of their own time on social media, but fully one third of them wanted to spend less of it.

It won’t be news to find that two thirds of respondents were spending more time on social media marketing this year than last.

There are two giants in social media and business use reflects that with 90% of VR’s survey group using Facebook and almost 70% of them maintaining a Twitter feed. Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ are, for the moment, dragging far behind.

Blogging is still popular, with 55% of VR’s small businesses posting to their own blog and 16% of them spending more than three hours a week doing so.

That ties in with the finding that sourcing content and then posting it takes up most of the time spent on social media. Answering questions takes up the smallest amount of this social media time, less than is spent on checking out the competition’s online efforts.

As well as time, businesses are spending more cash on their social media. In this survey four times as many businesses have upped their social media budgets as have cut them.

If there’s help available – and we recently wrote about Adobe’s new social media management system – then businesses are willing to spend on it. Thirty six per cent of businesses paid for social media publishing or analytic tools and of these more than half spent more than $26 a month on them.

Toolkit Websites are bespoke web designers based in Southampton, Hampshire, UK. Get in touch today and see how we can help your business grow.  
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Don’t panic! They can’t turn the Internet off

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee has reassured the world that there is no ‘off switch’ for the Internet. 

While some parents might be cursing the news and online satirists have had fun imagining what the thing might look like it’s an important announcement for those interested in web freedom. 

The idea of the so-called off switch is rooted in the Arab Spring of 2010. This series of uprisings, the effects of which are still being felt, swept away regimes including those of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. 

Social media was credited with helping to spread the message of freedom. In response, governments moved to control Internet access. As Wikipedia puts it: ‘on the night of January 27, 2011 the Egyptian government under President Hosni Mubarak shut down the Internet’.

This shutdown was achieved as Internet service providers withdrew their interfaces with the outside world. Other countries also blacked out Internet traffic, some by the rather less tech-savvy method of taking axes to data cables. 

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, speaking at the launch of the Web Index league table in London, said the way the Internet worked meant it couldn’t currently be crippled. 

He said: "The way the Internet is designed is very much as a decentralised system. At the moment, because countries connect to each other in lots of different ways, there is no one off-switch, there is no central place where you can turn it off.” 

But he warned that governments could act together to centralise the web and urged users to protest should they start to. 

The Web Index aims to rank countries by the extent and effect of the web on their citizens. Sweden was top with a score of 100, with the UK in third with 93.83 just behind the United States of America. Yemen comes bottom of the 61 country list with a score of 0. North Korea, which has never allowed its citizens access to the internet, doesn’t feature. 

Over a century ago, E. M. Forster’s prescient sci-fi story The Machine Stops imagined a future of wired up but essentially isolated humans linked by a machine. When the machine stops, civilisation goes with it.

Toolkit Websites are quality web designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK. Get in touch today and see how we can help your business grow.
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Website of the Week - Aquaspec

Aquaspec are a company who provide marine safety lights. To match the cutting edge products they produce, they wanted a modern and minimalist website. The main focus was to be on the products, with strong imagery used throughout.

To tie in with their other promotional material, the website was to have a colour scheme of black and silver, with accents of yellow as per their products. It was also important to the client that they were able to edit the website completely in the Toolkit.

As this was a redesign client, we also included their migration to our new Web kit Platform in the redesign. In addition, Pro Features Pack was used to achieve the dropdown menus and headers per page.

One premium page dressing and two page dressings were used to adhere to the strict brief that the client set out.

Finally, we created three bespoke ten field forms, as it was important to the client that the exact information they needed was gathered from their customers.

When the client was asked to rate the service that we provided, he said that "As ever the Toolkit Website's team have been efficient and diligent in the smooth project management of the AquaSpec website. They have worked hard to deliver the website within the brief and have been very flexible in quickly accommodating a number of revisions throughout the process."

For more news from Toolkit Websites, click here.

Toolkit Websites are bespoke website designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK. Get in touch today and see how we can help your business grow.
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MailChimp for Small Businesses

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Email marketing has always been a contentious subject in the business world, with it’s success rate, cost and the best methods always under the microscope. Mailchimp attempted to put a stop to this debate with a low-cost email marketing and newsletter distribution platform, incorporating the facility to track the progress of your newsletter. The idea of creating and managing your own email marketing campaign may seem like a lot of effort and for those a little bit technophobic a bit daunting, but with Mailchimp they will run you through the whole process in a step-by-step manner, detailing the requirements.
You can create a newsletter using the existing templates or create one entirely from scratch, either way Mailchimp provides a great platform to create engaging newsletters that will reach your target audience effectively whilst ensuring you incorporate the right content and links to get the best response from the recipients. The beauty of Mailchimp is that it provides a lot of the benefits of hiring professional email marketing companies to manage your campaign with nowhere near the same level of cost but a higher degree of control over all aspects. You can start using Mailchimp free of charge and if you have less than 500 target recipients and plan to send no more than one newsletter a month, then it is a cheaper alternative than a paid for supported service such as our own Toolkit Broadcast. Predictably there are certain benefits you don’t get with the free version but generally it can provide a good option for those wanting to try the service out, those with small mailing lists or those who do not require full support. For those who do not satisfy this criteria, our Toolkit Broadcast service is a better option.
Arguably the best thing about Mailchimp and other Email Marketing solutions is the comprehensive analysis of your newsletter and the impact it has had on those it was sent to. The report that can be viewed online or downloaded as a standalone document will show basic figures such as the number of email recipients and the amount of those who were sent it who successfully received it. In addition it will feature other really useful facts such as the number of people who actually opened the email, the number of clicks the newsletter got for the links on it, the number of times it is forwarded onto others by the recipients (and the number of those that subsequently open it) and the total amount of times the emails are opened (to analyse multiple views). Just like our own Toolkit Broadcast service it can even tell you the date and time (accurate to the minute) that the newsletter was last viewed.
One of the difficulties for businesses in the past was assessing how successful the newsletters are and how well received they were, but with the comprehensive reports produced by the likes of Toolkit Broadcast and Mailchimp it has given businesses the ability to view up-to-the-minute statistics on the success rate of the newsletters. They may be disappointed with this and decide not to pursue it in future or they may be surprised by how well the newsletters have worked out - either way they will be ideally placed to make an informed decision on how best to go forward with their email marketing efforts.
Toolkit Websites are web designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK. Get in touch today and see how we can help your business grow.
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The end of the click?

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The way we interact with our computers is changing thanks first to touch screens and now a new laser and camera interface that takes us another step towards the man/machine.

Young people are growing up learning how to use computers from an ever-earlier age. But increasingly their first experience of manipulating microprocessors is by pointing, touching, pinching and swiping.

Now a prototype from Cambridge’s Microsoft Research UK turns the user’s hand itself into a computer remote control. Called the Digit, the device is worn on the user’s wrist. LEDS and lasers shine from this bracelet and cameras record the movement of the fingers.

The team behind the project – which has been born out of Microsoft’s own Xbox Kinect system – say they can measure finger movements with an accuracy of one hundredth of a centimetre.

In its current form, unveiled this month on Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Digit is still quite clunky, but in time should be wristwatch sized.

And Digit isn’t alone in trying to kill off – or at least significantly reduce the influence of – the mouse. A desk-mounted system called the Leap Motion Sensor is also in development.

And, the Google giant is also part of the picture thanks to its Project Glass. This futuristic piece of face furniture puts a computer display directly in front of the user’s eyes. It’s the sort of thing seen in military aviation in the form of the heads up display, but looks far more like something you’d get from Specsavers than the Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition.

By combining the two and linking us ever closer to our computers we could, paradoxically, be freed from the click of the mouse.

Already, Digit has been used to control games and to help kids who use sign language to interact with a computer. But, it could go much further according to Thad Starner, who’s in charge of Google’s Project Glass, who named it “a symbiosis of man and machine that we haven't seen before".

He said: “Having access to data on a split-second basis makes you more powerful, more in control of your life. This is going to get us to the stage where we use systems without thinking.”

You can see a video demonstration of Digit here. (Video link)


Toolkit Websites are business web designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK. Get in touch today and see how we can help your business grow.
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Cameron’s finally a tweeter


Asked to comment on Twitter David Cameron once famously said, ‘too many tweets, make a tw*t’, giving the headline writers a lovely open goal to aim at when he finally signed up for the social network during this month’s Conservative party conference.

To give the Conservative leader’s answer to the original question – which predates his arrival in number 10 - more substance, he said he was worried about politicians communicating without thinking first.

It’s probably fair to assume that Mr Cameron’s Twitter feed is managed to within an inch of its life. From his first tweet on October 6, which referenced that earlier dismissal, to October 19, the Prime Minister unleashed just 15 tweets. All were very much what you’d expect from an account belonging to someone whose every character will be poured over by opponents and journalists. His use of the #welovetheNHS tag became a news story, but anyone wanting to get to know the Prime Minister personally will be rather disappointed.

Asked to discuss the new account for the BBC Alastair Campbell – the Labour former spin doctor – said the PM ‘didn’t really understand Twitter’. He pointed out that the 35 accounts he’s followed all belong to fellow Tories. Campbell said no British politicians were yet on top of a medium he says is playing a vital role in the current American presidential elections.

But there’s no denying that Mr Cameron has done well in the numbers game. He racked up 100,000 followers in a matter of days, forcing bookmakers to pay out (who bets on this sort of stuff?!) and slash the odds on him getting 1,000,000 followers by year’s end.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has 168,203 followers but with well over 1,000 tweets to his name is a relative veteran.

The Fanpage list puts our Prime Minister at number eight in its chart of most followed politicians (although this uses the official @Number10gov account, which is much older and busier than Mr Cameron’s personal feed).

At number one and two are Messrs Obama and Romney and the other highest ranked British politician (despite not really being a politician) is Sarah Brown, the last Prime Minister’s wife.

No one has really found a way of measuring what those numbers mean in terms that politicians care about, ie votes.

The Klout score, which attempts to measure ‘influence’, has been widely criticised but in the absence of anything else it’s worth looking at. Reorder the politicians’ rankings by Klout scores and we Brits vanish from the top 20 altogether, replaced by an army of American politicos with the Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger tucking in behind the two presidential hopefuls.
 
Toolkit Websites are business website designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK. Get in touch today and see how we can help your business grow.  
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Dorkbot worm attacks Skype users

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A new – and rather chilling – word has entered the lexicon of online security, ransomware, and it’s thought to be threatening Skype users.

A worm known as Dorkbot uses the Skype instant messaging system to install malicious software on users’ machines.

The message Skype users have been asked to look out for is: “lol is this your new profile pic”. Clicking on the link in the message will download Trojan malware.

A Trojan gives the bad guys control of your computer, who can recruit it to a botnet. Botnets of controlled machines can be used for all sorts of nefarious purposes by hackers. At the comparatively benign end of the scale your machine may be used to send out email spam or take part in an attempt to overload a website to cause it to crash.

Hackers with access to your machine and key logging software will be well on the way to breaking your passwords. And, one of the first things most botnet computers will do is to send out the bait message to everyone in your address book trying to snag more victims.

A relatively recent addition to the malware arsenal is the ransomware attacks, which according to McAfee have increased in number by 50% between the first and second quarters of this year.

In a world of sometimes bewildering acronyms, there’s something reassuringly old-fashioned and simple about ransomware. The attackers take control of your machine and demand a payment to return it you with your valuable data untouched. Some versions threaten to make public any questionable browsing history or illegal downloads.

Skype, which is now owned by Microsoft, has said that its users should update to the latest version and that it is taking the issue very seriously. The advice that you should keep your antivirus software fully up to date is always worth repeating too.

Defeating the Dorkbot worm is, to those in the know, relatively simple, but for the average home user or humble desk jockey it’s a frightening experience and one that is sure to cost infected businesses, at the very least, time.


One of the beauties of Skype is that it’s free and, as a result, has millions of users. This makes it as attractive to mischievous or criminal users as any of the other burgeoning social networks. Companies who use these networks would do well to make sure their employees are fully up to date on how best to avoid clicking bad links. 



Find out more about Toolkit Websites, Website Designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and how they can help your business grow.
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Networks asked to police themselves



The barrier where free speech meets regulation in the internet age is becoming one of increasing friction. In response to yet more high profile cases the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has said first that social networks must do more to police their own content and subsequently that new laws may be needed.

The most recent cases have seen a man jailed for 12 weeks after using Facebook to make light of the plight of missing (and, tragically presumed dead) Welsh schoolgirl April Jones.

Another Facebook user avoided jail for his unpopular opinions. But after using the deaths of six British soldiers in Afghanistan as an opportunity to tell the world that ‘all soldiers should die and go to hell’he will carry out 240 hours of community service.

The welter of prosecutions has led – along with the posting of millions of pixels-worth of online comment - the DPP Keir Starmer to look at how the online world is policed.

In a series of seminars Starmer has held on the subject, one of the prime movers for some sort of reform of the current system is believed to be Britain’s police services.

They are the ones faced with a crime that almost anyone can report falling victim to simply by logging on to their computers. Section 127 of the 2003 Communications Act makes ‘grossly offensive’material sent by electronic means a crime. So now what might once have been the quick gross-out moment of the latest sick joke in the school yard can cost a youngster a couple of terms behind bars.

Chief constables want companies like Facebook and Twitter to act more quickly to take down offensive material. The social networks are faced both with increasing costs to employ moderators and of defining a line in the free speech friendly world of the web over which its users must not tread.

Starmer may do what he has with other controversial areas of laws – such as assisted suicides – and take all decisions on whether to prosecute into his own hands.

However, he has hinted that the Communications Act has now passed its sell by date and Parliament may need to make the decisions about whether social media should be treated in the same way as telephone communication.

Find out more about Toolkit Websites, Website Designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and how they can help your business grow.
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Who you are is worth a fortune

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According to credit checking firm Experian identity theft is a booming online business. Their 2012 research reported a 300% rise in the illegal trade of personal information in just two years.

Shakespeare told us that our reputations were our most valuable possessions. Were he to be writing in the Internet age he’d probably add passwords and security questions to those ‘immortal parts’ of ourselves.

The Internet has changed almost every aspect of modern life, and criminals are as keen to be up to date as the rest of us. Running into a bank with a sawn off shotgun is so 20th Century, when the modern thief can sit phishing passwords from the comfort of their home office.

Once it’s been taken your identity can run riot in fraudulent hands. Experian’s research says that victims usually discover they’ve been hit when they are refused credit or contracts. An unfortunate 7% of victims learn the bad news when debt collectors come calling.

You can protect yourself online however. Much of this is common sense, but it’s worth remembering that security online is very much your responsibility.

The web is a fast and convenient way to do so many things but cutting corners on security can be costly.
Microsoft’s advice is as good as any.

1 - Use a strong, password that mixes letters, numbers and symbols, upper and lower case. If it’s easy for you to remember it’s correspondingly easy for crooks to crack.

2 – Use a different password for every account you have. When hackers made a password raid on an online Star Wars game you can bet they didn’t want free credit for their light sabres. Experian’s report found Britons averaged just five passwords across a typical 26 online accounts. Make sure losing a message board key won’t open the door to your bank account too.

3 – Don’t use sensitive accounts on shared PCs or in public places. High tech thieves might use key-logging software but a good old-fashioned look over your shoulder can reveal as much.

4 – Value your personal details. If someone calls or emails asking for personal details like your date of birth be sure you know who they are and what they want them for.

5 – Invest in virus protection and anti-spyware and malware programmes and keep them updated. Make sure your browser’s phishing filters are on.

6. Never enter personal details online until you’re sure you’re on the right page. Phishers have become very adept at faking sites so double check the URL before typing and beware clickable links in emails.




Find out more about Toolkit Websites, Website Designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and how they can help your business grow.
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