Web Design Blog : Toolkit Websites

Web Design Blog

Toolkit Websites iPad Mini Competition

Merry Christmas to you from everyone here at Toolkit Websites.

You should have received our Christmas card in the post which has details of our fantastic competition to win an iPad Mini!

With the card is our referral "cheque" that has information on our referral scheme where you can earn yourself a free £50 Amazon Voucher!

We are delighted to be running a competition over the festive period to win an iPad Mini

For your chance to win please visit Facebook and enter our competition

You can find out more information about this competition by following us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and keeping up to date with our Blog

We look forward to receiving your entry and hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Toolkit Websites are expert website designers Southampton, Hampshire, UK. get in touch today and see how we can help your business grow.
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How secure are your passwords?

If you had broken into the United States nuclear missile system at the height of the Cold War and had it in your mind to – as the popular hacker/paranoia movie War Games had it – play global thermonuclear war you’d have needed to guess a password.

And, if faced with cracking what must, surely, have been one of the most secure systems on the planet you just slammed in: ‘00000000’ then the world as we know it would have ended.

Hopefully that particular procedure is now much, much more secure. But, as the numbers of passwords we need to navigate our online lives multiply so we’re forced into a compromise between safe and memorable.

Safe is a long meaningless string of upper and lower case letters mixed with numbers and special symbols which is unique to one site. Memorable is your favourite football team and the year they last one a title with a zero replacing an O or 1s for Is.

Hackers prefer memorable. Because memorable is predictable and the software they use relies on spotting patterns to crack passwords. Every time there’s a big leak of passwords they celebrate at Cyber Crime University because they can learn more about how we tend to act. And, yes each leak confirms that people still use ‘password’.

According to a recent Guardian article on online security, at 1,000 guesses per second a totally random five letter string can be cracked in three and three-quarter hours. A 20 letter string? That takes 6.5 thousand trillion centuries.

A recent Telegraph piece on the same subject reported that you can come home from any high street store with a machine capable of making 8.2 million guesses a second.

So there’s an arms race on.

It’s clear that following those well worn rules will make your passwords safer and, despite what they say, you may find that writing them down is the only option. If you do, then indulge in a little cryptology yourself rather than creating a document on your desktop called ‘passwords’.

And, be prepared to apply those rules across the board. Even a site that doesn’t seem that big a deal – an online game for example – can be a chink in your online armour. A now notorious hacking attack on a Wired writer was enabled by combining a jigsaw of information from Gmail, Amazon and Apple accounts.

Brian Cheswick, an online security expert, is an advocate of writing down passwords. This will not please your bank and as Cheswick warns; if there’s a key logger on your machine you’re buggered anyway.

Otherwise, he suggests using one of ‘password wallet’ services now springing up like LastPass, 1Password or the freeware Keepass.

Toolkit Websites are expert web designers Southampton, Hampshire, UK. get in touch today and see how we can help your business grow.  
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America love their social media according to a survey by Nielsen

Americans spent 121.1 billion minutes logged onto social media sites in just one month this year according to the latest survey from Nielsen the kings of business number crunching.

In American billions, the figure for the time spent on social media in July 2012 equates to 230,000 years.

There isn’t a similar piece of data for the UK but it’s a fair bet that the exponential growth in social media use is being mirrored on this side of the Atlantic too.

In July 2011, Nielsen found Americans logged on to Facebook and the like for 88.1 billion minutes. That’s an increase in time spent on social media of 32.7 billion minutes.

Facebook is still the giant of the social media web despite a 4 per cent drop in unique visitors from the same time last year.

The second placed site might be a surprise: it’s Blogger, the Google blogging platform. That too has seen a small drop off in users, while WordPress its blogging rival is up 10% in unique users. Twitter shoots up by 13% and is the second most used site.

The big movers are relative newcomers. Google+ is up 80% and is the seventh most popular social media site. The bump in numbers looks impressive, but in July 2011 Google+ was fresh out of the box and open to the public for the first time, so it’s bound to have shot up from those invite-only beta testers who were its first users.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is Pinterest. The site’s whole business model was questioned when it opened for business – would it breach copyright law – but people seem to like it. User numbers are up 1,047% in a year and those users are spending 1.25 billion minutes on the site, 720 million minutes accessing it from mobiles and 120 million minutes using its smart phone app.

Tumblr is growing fast too.

The growth of mobile phone and tablet browsing is another big story from the report. All the sites have seen a massive increase in the number of users accessing them from phones – Twitter, which could have been designed with smart phones in mind, has been particularly well served by the move to portable computers.

Social media sites are now the most used type of website in the USA.

There’s a host of other data in the report, and some of it is rather puzzling: American Asians are the ethnic group most likely to buy after seeing social media ads while Europeans web users are the least likely than most to talk about TV on social media while we’re watching it, for example. But any business user will be fascinated to learn that one in three social media users would rather talk to a company through their social media sites than by phone. And, Pinterest is proving to be the female social media site with a minimum 70/30 split in women’s favour depending on how the site is accessed.

You can see more of the report for free here. http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/social/2012/

Toolkit Websites are professional website designers Southampton, Hampshire, UK. get in touch today and see how we can help your business grow.    
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2012 is the year of malware, reports security experts Sophos

As the year draws to a close, the annual round ups are coming thick and fast and in the bad news column we can name 2012 the ‘year of malware’ according to cyber security experts Sophos. It’s also the year that hackers followed the browsing world onto social media.

Sophos reckons that 80% of hacking attacks online were enabled by malicious code inserted into legitimate sites. And as the world goes social, the bad guys are following closely behind. The rise of new platforms and languages is making maintaining security more complex.

Hackers have always been inventive, and social media offers a great new way to test out their skills. One clever way to exploit our worries about social media saw hackers setting up a Twitter account. Once the account has some followers the criminals send a direct message to them all warning them that an embarrassing photo of them has been posted to Facebook. Click the link and you’re infected.

It’s not just clever psychology though; hackers now have their own products. Blackhole is a software package made in Russia, which helps its owners produce their own malware. It’s frighteningly easy to use – all you need is a website that you can convince people to visit and Blackhole does the rest. It’s so popular that 27% of the all the malware is believed to come from Blackhole. Worryingly, the sellers of these ‘crime packs’ have promised customers they’re going to be trying even harder next year.

Internationally, Honk Kong, Taiwan and the UAE suffer most cyber attacks, while the safest countries are Sweden, Japan and Norway.

Platform wise, Android is becoming an increasing target for hackers. And, the Apple user’s boast that their machine never gets viruses may be about to be silenced, sales are growing and the hackers are starting to wake up to Macs too.

Governments and terrorists are also developing their online weaponry and the spectre of a ‘cyber 9/11’ is being raised.

However, there is some good news. Sophos says IT professionals are getting smarter too and praises law enforcement agencies for some major victories in 2012.

The next challenges, says Sophos, will come as cloud computing comes of age. As surely as night follows day, the hackers will target the cloud too. 

You can read the report in full here.


Toolkit Websites are professional web designers Southampton, Hampshire, UK. Get in touch today and see how we can help your business grow.
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Pinterest business account

Social media is a fluid environment businesses need to be nimble to keep up with the latest development. This year that’s meant joining Pinterest, the online scrapbook and image sharing site that’s shooting up the user number rankings at an impressive rate. On December 9, the Obama Whitehouse signed up for the site, which is a marker of sorts.

Another development is the site’s launch of business accounts. Lots of businesses already use Pinterest and it’s a natural fit for things like fashion and interior design.

John Brand of Inc.com has some useful tips on how to use the site to interact with customers.

The first is to put some time in and focus on the best Pinterest users, who get the most followers and repins of their images.

Secondly, take advantage of the site’s simplicity. It’s already a design classic so don’t mess with it. Brand cites some impressive figures for extra web traffic driven to business home pages from Pinterest.

Thirdly, don’t forget to integrate with the ‘real’ world. Promote your Pinterest page in your premises and promote your premises on your Pinterest page. You should also promote this new social medium through the existing ones – send Facebook users to Pinterest when its supremely visual style is the best fit for your message.

Fourthly, daily pins are a great tool says Brand. A memorable slogan or design will get you plenty of views and repins.

Don’t be too self-interested is the next tip. Experienced users reckon that boards which are just about selling aren’t popular, so if you see something that another company is doing and you like it, then pin it.

Number six is to do a bit of piggybacking. It’s a technique that’s familiar from Twitter and it seems to work here too, so follow the most popular boards in your business area.

Tip seven from Brand is to be selective and stay true to your business brand.

Recent research on social media suggests that businesses are already struggling to keep up with the demands of their online presence so adding another should be considered carefully. But if you’re an image-led business and have lots of female customers then Pinterest could be a valuable new focus for your business.

Toolkit Websites are professional web designers based in Southampton, Hampshire, UK. Get in touch today and see how we can help your business grow.
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Five Social Media Tips

The proliferation of social media platforms is a challenge to businesses who need to focus their marketing effort where it will have most effect, while avoiding getting bogged down in the detail of using these powerful interactive platforms.

Scott Lake founded Source Metrics, a social media platform that aims to simplify social media marketing and in the process produce real return on investment.

He’s come up with five simple core concepts for managing your social media marketing.

1. The first thing Lake advises is to set clear, defined and measurable goals for your campaign. Decide what you want your social media marketing campaign to achieve and how you will measure whether it’s achieved them or not. Sales leads generated, he says, are a good solid way of measuring a campaign’s success.

2. Secondly, you should make sure you’ve got something to give your customers in return for their email address or Facebook ‘like’. A free gift is great, of course, but if you can inform, entertain or otherwise engage your audience that can be enough too. Pick something that will dovetail to your own product though; that way you’ll interest the right people – everyone wants a free cinema ticket, but do they also want your product.

3. Your campaign’s landing page is key. This is where your potential customers arrive after clicking your marketing link and it’s where interest is converted into solid information so it’s worth taking some time over its look and feel. Lake recommends designing your own page rather than using Facebook itself and even designing a different page for clickers arriving from each social media platform.

4. At number four, we’re ready to launch. Lake advises promoting your offer with more traditional marketing techniques – there’s no reason a print advert can’t send people to your Facebook page. Email lists he says are still great marketing tools – try putting a link to your homepage at the end of an email newsletter and, according to Lake, be amazed at the upsurge in traffic. Again, he recommends tailoring your campaign to each social media site, both as a means of keeping your message fresh and as a testing bed for different posting styles.

5. Finally, Lake recommends the use of shortened links to track the success of your campaign. Shortened links customised to each part of your campaign, or the platform on which you post it, will allow you to measure the effect of all your hard work. And, you should react to this information as it arrives says Lake – if a particular posting time, social platform or message style is working use this information to cash in.

Lake is pretty clear about what the potential results of a successful social media campaign are. He writes: “These leads are the most valuable data your brand will encounter: You need to treat them with the utmost respect and strategically lead them through your sales cycle.”

You can find Scott Lake on Twitter as @scottica. 

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

Care @ Home provide efficient and effective care to meet the needs and aspirations of the service users in a caring manner.

The client wanted to redesign their existing website they had with us to apply a modern design. Along side this we also refreshed their logo to introduce a new colour scheme.

Included within the redesign was the migration from our old platform to our new webkit platform. The webkit upgrade has been written with the latest programming languages. This upgrade works in parallel with your website to improve loading times across all internet browsers plus much more.

As the new design is on our webkit platform we were able to introduce bespoke forms. This client wanted to have an enquires form on their contact page to capture all the information they need.

When the client was asked to rate the service that we provided, he said that "Thats great all good"
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Christmas content for festive sales

ClickThrough Marketing is a conversion-optimising specialist and they’ve put together a guide to the best ways to promote your business at Christmas.

The first thing the agency’s Ali Harris confirms is that quality content is now the big thing in online marketing and this should be kept in mind whatever you do.

The good news is that taking PR online makes it a lot easier for businesses, even small businesses, to use. Online PR lasts longer, there are a multitude of platforms on which to spread your message and many of these are highly specialised and therefore provide better access to likely spenders. It’s also a lot easier to measure the effects of your efforts in likes, page views or retweets.

But don’t neglect the traditional media, which still has a lot of power, and remember that a good idea is a good idea on and offline.

Some of Ali’s tips for good Christmas press releases include:

  1. Top 10s or end of year lists, which are beloved of both the traditional and new media. 
  2. After you’ve summed up the year just about to pass, try to predict what’s ahead – it doesn’t have to be accurate but make it fun and likely to start conversations. And don’t forget the future includes your own New Year deals.
  3. Shout about any seasonal charity linkups and get a link back from the charity.
  4. Even a Christmas competition is worth a press release, and any business can do this.

When it comes to your social media marketing, consider sharing some advice that will get shared. Make your profile useful: Christmas gift-wrapping advice is always handy. Make sure potential customers are in no doubt about your Christmas opening hours, delivery deadlines and when you’re back in business for the New Year sales. If the snow does come down, make sure you’re prepared and that your worried customers know the latest news too.

Social media is all about talking to people so engage in interesting conversations with your followers. Don’t forget to let the Scrooges amongst them get involved with some fun chatter about the downside of the season of singed tinsel and dropping needles.

Harris also spends a good deal of time talking about correctly tagging the images on your site to make sure they show up in Google image searches. This is particularly important if you work in a visual or design-orientated business. Tagging images as Christmas gift ideas will help them show up when the world is desperately searching for something to spend on. .

Harris warns that the window for online Christmas shopping seems to be getting shorter. You need all your Christmas content up and running by the first week of December. However, there are two new shopping days thanks to the Internet. Shoppers log on with their shiny new gadgets on Christmas Day and Boxing Day and start buying all over again – particularly good news if you sell add-ons and accessories for their new phone or tablet.

There’s an awful lot more in ClickThrough’s webinar, which you can listen to in full here.

But, there seems to be a strong, consistent message coming through on online marketing and SEO at the moment, summed up by Harris as: “People share stuff they think is good, or interesting, or unusual, and Google rewards originality and relevancy, as well as interest in your content. Don’t cut corners.”

Link to webinar:

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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Going local in a global world

Google is a globe-encircling titan of the internet, so it’s interesting that the world’s homepage is putting a lot of focus on making its services more localised. This should be good news for small businesses who want to use pay per click (PPC) advertising effectively.

Google announced in November that its city-level targeting for AdWords would be rolled out to nine new countries, meaning that advertisers in 43 countries can now target their ads to specific cities.

The buzzword for this is Geo-targeting, which is something small businesses have been doing naturally and with no need for new terminology for centuries.

If you’re offering a product or service that can only be delivered in one or two locations then geo-targeting is essential if you’re not to waste money online. A Edinburgh window cleaner who cycles on his rounds doesn’t want to pop up when a man with dirty windows in Eastbourne goes online looking for a wash and wipe.

But as well as putting necessary limits on your marketing, localised PPC can help to expand your business.

By targeting your PPC at new areas and customising your AdWords content – bear in mind languages and currencies – you can even find customers who don’t even speak the same language as you.

Setting up a new website for each new territory is expensive and fraught with problems. This sort of targeted PPC however, can give the illusion of international reach – and crucially, local sensitivity – without that hassle. Simply translating ads into different languages for different users, which with this level of targeting you can now do, will at the very least reduce waste spend showing incomprehensible ads.

If you’re thinking of growing into a new territory then this city-level targeting provides a great way to test the waters without ending up with just a few orders which are costly to deliver and may not lead to a sustainable expansion.

This is particularly the case if it’s a whole new country you’ve got your eyes on. Pick a couple of test markets to gauge the interest in your product without wasting paid clicks.

The green campaigners used to ask us to ‘think global and act local’ but as it has so many times before, Google has turned this maxim on its head.

Toolkit Websites are bespoke web designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK. Get in touch today and see how we can help your business grow.
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