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Web Design Blog

Do you trust adverts?

It may not exactly be front-page news, but there are some interesting nuggets in polling from an American market research company, which highlights how little consumers believe what they are told by advertising.

A couple of notes of caution: the sample size is only 500 and it’s based in America where the first amendment means there is virtually no regulation of what advertisers can say. In fact Lab 42, the company behind the survey were moved to ask the question after reading about the banning by our Advertising Standards Authority of a make up ad in the UK.

The survey is not great news for advertisers.

Lab 42 found that only 3% of its respondents found the claims in advertising to be ‘very accurate’ while 19% found them ‘very exaggerated’ and 57% ‘somewhat exaggerated’.

And, consumers know the tricks too. Photoshop is fingered by consumers for sprucing up ads for cleaning products (87% think the majority are doctored), shampoos (80%) and weight loss (96%). The vast majority of all consumers think beauty ads are exaggerated and of the tiny number of those who do think they are ‘very accurate’ the vast majority are men.

That’s reflected in the largest proportion of consumers – 32% - who think they ‘know what ads are trying to do’.

However, there is some good news for advertisers because, strangely, despite all this cynicism 31% of consumers like to decide what to buy based on advertising compared to the 21% who refuse to make their decisions based on advertising.

But if you’re a new product then advertising may not be for you if these figures are to be believed. The top products which people chose based on advertising were overwhelmingly established brands – Coke and Pepsi are up there – and the top reason given for choosing a product based on advertising was that the consumer recognised the brand. When it comes to social media, only 3% of respondents said that a sponsored message had persuaded them to try a new product.

What works well won’t come as too much of a surprise. Funny sells, particularly to women: 71% of the sample said funny ads were remembered and of these 59% were women. An educational message is the next best connecter and the third was sexy – 92% of those who chose this were, would you credit it, men!

Get in touch with Toolkit Websites, web design Southampton, Hampshire, UK and see how we can help your business grow.
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The Social Media Decade

Facebook was launched as recently as 2004 but in a world that changes at an ever-increasing pace, social media is now the dominant force on the World Wide Web and Silverpop.com has taken a look at this quickly morphing phenomenon over the last decade.

Social media sites are where most of us spend most of our time. And the share is only going to grow. In 2012, Nielsen’s figures on US social media use recorded an increase of 37 per cent in the time spent on social sites in just one year.

Today’s top five social media sites are: Facebook with one billion users and rising, Twitter with 500 million tweeters, Google+ is rising with 400 million users while the fourth and fifth sites are the Chinese networks Weibo, their Facebook (the US one is banned) and Twitter-alike RenRen.

LinkedIn and Instagram are closing in on the big five while Badoo – a dating network that’s big in Latin America – sits at number seven.

Social networks seem to have a natural life pattern too, as Silverpop points out. That is, it’s easy to grow for the first three years as the world gets excited by a novel new toy (nine out of 11 sampled companies did). But then things get tougher and only five of their sample went on to grow in years four, five and six.

But getting over the third year hump could mean a site is on to something that will last. Here are the fourth year membership growth figures for some of the big boys: Twitter grew by a factor of eight, Facebook by six and Tumblr – which is 10th in the survey – grew up to four times.

Silverpop picks out some stars of the future, which marketers may want to focus their efforts on. Foursquare, Instagram (despite its recent troubles) and Tumblr have expanded with widespread smartphone use. And three new sites – Path, Pinterest and audio sharing site Soundcloud – are still young but growing very vigorously.

Growing slowly but steadily are LinkedIn, Yelp (yes, Yelp is social) and photo site Flickr, which had a big boost from Instagram’s privacy settings own goal.

The survey seems to be based on some decent research, Silverpop says it used 85 sources, and is worth viewing in full, here.:


Get in touch with Toolkit Websites, web designers in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and see how we can help your business grow.   
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Website of the Week - Ascot Sign Systems

The latest Website of the Week is another redesign. This refresh of the Ascot Sign Systems website really pushes the boundaries of our platform, which is what we do with all of our redesigns, but this one is particularly unique due to the bespoke coding work.

As a long standing company founded in 1938, Ascot Sign Systems have been through many a change in all aspects of their business. In order to move fluidly with the changing market, a redesign was crucial for the growth of the organisation.

The main feature of the website is the changing background images. This is something that required a lot of bespoke work and coding to get the result you can see on the website now.

The client also purchased an upgrade to have an additional five pages on their website. This gives them more flexibility when adding content to their website going forward, as well as being integral to the redesign process.

A bespoke form was also included in their redesign, which meant that they could customise the enquiry form on their Contact page to include the extra fields that were necessary for their website.

Another feature included on the new website is a private login area. This allows their clients to become members of the website and view pages only visible to people that have logged in.

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SEO is dead, long live content

On the web, Google is king. The search giant is at the top of the food chain for almost every business that makes money online and the internet’s top predator may have killed off SEO.

SEO, or search engine optimisation, has been a staple of online marketing since the 1990s.

The industry has traditionally been split into two camps, white hat and black hat, with black hat operators bending the rules a little more to achieve the promised land – the top of the Google rankings.

Google is the world’s favourite search engine and it’s been that way for so long and the company has become such a dominant force that it’s sometimes easy to forget why it got there in the first place.

Good search results are the key to Google’s popularity and if they lose that it’s terribly easy for the world to set some other search engine as its homepage. 

So Google is constantly updating its practices in order to ensure that the top result for a search for, say, “cheap home insurance” is a decent insurance company not a page with the phrase “cheap home insurance” written several thousand times that links to a casino site.

In the past links have been the building blocks of what makes a site popular but Google is now recognising that social media is the chief way web users share content. So, where in the past a link to a site was a big plus point – which is why lots of marketers indulged in link building – now, Facebook likes and retweets count for more.

And, content must be good quality, useful material, otherwise it’ll get marked down.

This isn’t the end of marketing online but it has changed the focus.

According to Forbes contributor Ken Krogue, an SEO man himself, there is only one sort of content now: “real and relevant content that benefits those who search.”

SEO will still exist post-Penguin (the name of the Google algorithm that’s set the industry a flutter), but it will largely be internal SEO – the way your site is arranged to get your new, valuable content out to the world. Everyone who’s at all serious about internet marketing should be checking the Google blogs to find out what the best practices here are.

Google’s new authorship system, which we touched on in a recent newsletter, also helps. If you’ve got people with something of use to say, make sure they have a Google+ profile and their content is properly by-lined and they’ll start to build a reputation in their field which will give extra weight to what they write.

Krogue also recommends building good social followings – a good thing in their own right – to boost your search engine rankings, quoting Adam Torkildson on what matters: “It’s the buzz you create. And how much value you provide your community of followers in return.”

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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Internet Explorer Vulnerability

The New Year started badly for Microsoft as the world got used to its warning that some versions of Internet Explorer (IE) were vulnerable to hacking attacks.

The bug came to light when the website of the American think tank the Council of Foreign Relations was infected with malware which could be downloaded by site visitors with versions 6, 7 and 8 of the web browser.

The world of hacking is jargon heavy, and this attack has been dubbed a ‘watering hole attack’. This type of attack targets a particular organisation not directly but through websites its members are likely to use. As the Council of Foreign Relations is a hugely prestigious Washington institution – both the Clintons and America’s probable next Secretary of State John Kerry are members – with deep connections to the country’s political elite it’s being speculated that spooks from a foreign government (China is the favourite) may be behind the attack.

It’s also what’s known as a ‘zero day’ attack. This means that it targets a previously unknown vulnerability in software. Web browsers are particularly vulnerable to this sort of dirty dealing.

Microsoft has reacted by publishing a security advisory. However, their best advice was to upgrade to IE 9 or 10, which can’t be attacked with this particular hack. This isn’t an option for anyone using Windows XP, who will have to wait for the release of a Microsoft patch sealing up the security hole.

Your web browser is your window on the world wide web and, along with email, it’s the easiest way for hackers to get control of your machine or load it with malicious software.

IE is shipped with millions of computers and many – particularly new – users are quite happy to go with what comes out of the box.

But changing your web browser isn’t difficult at all; the programme installation will talk you steadily through every step and even transfer all your bookmarks and favourites as part of the process. And, all the leading players are completely free too.

You can find very comprehensive reviews of all the best browsers here and you’ll see that Firefox scores a perfect 10 for security as well as a very high 9.33 overall. Surely, worth a look:


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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Website of the Week - Williams Shipping

Williams Shipping are a company with multiple facets. The website we have chosen this week is the redesign for the Marine facet. As a company that has been in business for over 100 years, Williams Shipping offer many marine services, such as workboat chartering and safety boats.

The main focus of this website is to showcase the different services the company offers, which is shown in the use of an orange accent colour. This accent is used to highlight the parts of the website that are most important, almost like a call to action.

The website has bespoke page dressing created for its Home, Equipment Charter, Media, Contact and About pages. These all follows the same colour scheme as the previous website, but the intricate wireframe work allows for a more sleek and professional design.

Williams Shipping also purchased Pro Pack. This allows them to have dropdowns on their menu (which, again, are styled accordingly) as well as the functionality to have a different header per page. This, like the page dressing, gives the website a more professional feel.
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