Coventry: City of Culture 2021 … and Us

December 8th, 2017 in Design, Development

As Coventry is named City of Culture 2021, here in the Image+ offices we’re wearing huge smiles (and possibly a couple of party hats).

We’re proud of our Coventry roots – we’ve been based here for nearly twenty years, and can’t think of anywhere we’d rather base ourselves. Our offices at Electric Wharf on the city’s regenerated canal network are everything that made Coventry a successful candidate for City of Culture 2021: vibrant, buzzing, forward-thinking but with links to an incredibly rich past.

Coventry, City of Culture 2021 (yes, we like the sound of that): it has it all. Medieval heritage in the cathedral quarter, mid-twentieth-century modernism in its remarkable architecture, passionate grassroots commitment to arts of all kinds … it’s a genuinely exciting city, and the rest of the UK is about to find out why in spades.

The win for our city is doubly sweet because we had a small part in it. A while back, we competed to become the designers of the bid team’s website and digital presence – and won. So we feel we contributed in a small way to what was, of course, a fantastic pitch. (And a winning one – did we mention that Coventry is City of Culture 2021?)

It’s the diversity of Coventry that I think helped tip the balance in its favour: it welcomes everyone and has room for everything. At Image+, we have on staff huge fans of Shakespeare and massive football nuts, petrol heads and live music goers. Coventry and its surrounding area caters to us all.

The website we built for the bid reflected this vibrancy: bright and colourful and with plenty going on, it also crafted a single identity for the bid and sought to bring together an awful lot of fizzing activity. It used events, social media, videos and bold colours and graphics to really bring home the bid’s particular character and personality. We’re pretty proud of what we contributed.

Coventry has its own particular energy, and the challenge for the bid was bottling that to present it to the panel of judges in distilled form. The website we built was a part of that process, of course, and we are made up that we helped in a small way to win this prize for our city. But the real winners are the people of Coventry themselves – and we’re pleased as punch to be a part of that crowd.

 

In short: here’s to Coventry, City of Culture 2021!

We’re not going to get tired of saying that.

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

 

How Can You Make Your Website Stand Out?

December 1st, 2017 in Design, Development, Web web design

Making your website stand out is ever more difficult. In today’s forest of web pages, how can your single tree ever hope to stand out from the crowd? What was once known as “surfing” the internet is more like “wading”; to mix metaphors, it can be hard to see the wood for all those trees.

The good news is that there are still plenty of ways to make sure that your website is a cut above the rest. A lot of this has to do with simple design principles. When applied well, good design simply makes a site look right – and it’s surprising how few sites, in truth, fully achieve this goal.

 

Layout & Structure

First and foremost, sort out your structure. Using a good layout is key to attracting and then retaining what we in the trade call “eyeballs”. If your navigation is clear and your site convenient to use, your visitors will like what they see – and make use of your pages again and again. In other words, you’ll stand out as a place to hang out.

 

Branding

Consistent branding can really help achieve this. A recognisable brand builds your reputation and inspires confidence. A good brand can provide visual clues, too, that can bind a site together like the egg in a cake mixture. Think carefully about colours, logos, and typography – make your site a uniform experience as much as a collection of pages.

 

Graphics

Indeed, using images and graphics appropriately can be a really powerful means of making an impact. If branding is the visual framework of a site, then photography and illustration acts as the decorative detail. Great imagery supplies visual flare and interest, making a site beautiful to look at as you use it – and every eyeball likes to be entertained!

 

Content

Finally, consider your content. The text and video you utilise to expand on and detail your messaging needs to reflect the identity of your brand. Your copy should be easy to read and characterful, but not distracting or overly wordy. Likewise, video is increasingly important on many sites, and offers a very dynamic way of supplementing your content.

Just remember to make sure that everything – video, photography, colours – are crisp and vibrant, the best quality you can produce. Muddy graphics or sub-standard video will reflect badly on you; however good the design of a site, if the content is wanting then you will only be able to stand out so far.

 

Ultimately, your goal is to stand out as much as possible – to be, at your best, head and shoulders above the other sites in your field. Clear design, consistent branding, and quality content are the best ways to achieve that. Get these basics right, and you’ll be amazed by the results.

Essentially, we’re telling you to get a good designer (fortunately, we know some!). It’s not rocket science: great design is how you can make your website stand out.

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

5 Most Popular Content Management Systems

August 18th, 2017 in Development cms content management system content management systems drupal joomla magento wordpress

The five most popular content management systems have earned their stripes by being usable, intuitive and flexible. These three characteristics are essential in any CMS, because most often they will be used by non-experts: your web developer builds the site, but your internal comms team or secretarial pool will keep it updated over years. A CMS needs to make sense to them.

A content management system does exactly what it says on the tin (if they came in tins): it is essentially a sort of software application which enables you to access the files and pages of your site in a graphical way, so that you can tweak text, upload photos and add new areas to your site. It will often let you alter the look and feel of your site a little, too – although it’s often best to leave this to your designer.

There are several options for your CMS, and your exact choice will depend quite heavily on what you need to do with it. But the most popular CMS platforms available are tried, tested, and where your search for the perfect CMS will begin.

 

WordPress has become the daddy of CMS platforms because it is free, open source and improbably versatile. WordPress offers free sites at wordpress.com, but many professional sites install the WP platform on their own servers and build a site from there. Because its base code is freely available, developers are constantly building new features for it – meaning your site can be made to do more or less anything, and be controlled easily within the very intuitive WordPress interface.

 

Google Sites, however, is making a plate for the market WordPress had almost sewn up. Like WP, Google Sites lets you change design templates, associate a site with a given URL, edit pages as you would with Word documents and generally build and manage a website with a minimum of fuss. The platform may have fewer features than WordPress, but it is growing all the time – and has the huge benefit of integration with the proliferation of Google services, from Mail to Search, that so many of us use daily.

 

Magento, meanwhile, is custom-build for ecommerce websites. Where both WordPress and Google can handle ecommerce with the addition of tweaks and plug-ins, Magento is a specialist CMS explicitly designed to manage products, sales and payments straight out of the box. This specialist aspect gives it a real edge when it comes to websites looking to make an immediate splash in the crowded world of ecommerce – and it’s go-to for anyone looking to build such a site.

 

Joomla is, like WordPress, free and open-source – that is, it costs nothing and its base code is available for anyone to edit and change in order to add new functionality (and provide their bright ideas to other Joomla users). It’s the second most used CMS in the world after WordPress, and shares many of its features. Databases power both WordPress and Joomla, but the latter provides a lot more flexibility in terms of which type of database you can use – if your server cannot handle the specific database type required by WP, Joomla may be your saviour.

 

Drupal, too, is similar in many ways to both WordPress and Joomla – it’s free, open-source and expandable. But it’s also a web application framework, meaning that unlike its rivals its designed as an environment in which users can build not just sites but web apps such as calendars or email systems. This gives it a very important USP in the current digital landscape, since web users are increasingly demanding that sites have real utility, as well as looking pretty and providing basic information.

 

We may not have made your final decision for you, but we’ve hopefully set out the stall of each of these platforms – why not call us today to discuss further what CMS your team will need to use once your site is complete? Depending on your and their precise needs, there’s a reason to use each of these five most popular CMS platforms.

 

Contact Image Plus for CMS Support and Web Development

If you’re unsure about what Content Management System to use for a new or upgraded website then speak to our experts. Our Web Developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

Business Benefits of Website Design & Development

July 28th, 2017 in Design, Development, Web businesses web design web development

Businesses make decisions on the basis of value. That is a truism so obvious as to bear repeating: we’re all told that web design is important, but what are the business benefits of web design and development? How can we measure their impact in order to inform and justify our investments?

The benefits to a business of great web design are multiple – and offer multipliers in turn. In the digital age, your customers will assume any business with which they engage have a web presence – and they will trust you less for not having one or even merely for having a poorer platform than they expect. Expectation management, then, is key – but there are still more quantifiable business benefits to great web design and development. They can be roughly broken into four areas.

 

Good web design makes your service or product available 24/7

A quality website is a resource that your customers will want to return to. Not only that, but it’s always on. Unlike your reception desk or call centre, your business’s website is open to the public all day, every day. Whatever their schedule, each of your customers can access your services or products at the click of a mouse or tap of a screen, constantly. That means you’re doing more business throughout the day.

 

Smart web development streamlines business operations

Digital technology offers smart solutions. Integrating your business processes with your website and another online infrastructure, enables information sharing, more efficient operations and better lines of communication. All that makes your employees’ days easier and more seamless, which in turn releases efficiencies for the business. Websites aren’t just shop windows – they can be workbench tools.

 

The web opens up more channels for outreach to customers

From Twitter to Facebook, smartphone to tablet, having a good digital presence means you can open up a larger number of channels to communicate with your customers – and convert new ones. Does your website include a blog? Create new content regularly to engage new users. Have you developed a new product, service or feature? Promote that online to earn higher traffic and greater sales. Good web design means better conversation.

 

Your business will benefit from staying competitive online

For all these reasons and more, your competitors will be investing in web design and development, too. The business benefits of web design and development often flow from matching and exceeding their efforts!

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you’re looking for a web design company in Coventry, Warwickshire and would like some support with a website or mobile website, then please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

Top 10 Web Design Trends of 2017

May 30th, 2017 in Design, Development, Web

We’re already almost half-way through 2017 (no, we don’t know how that happened either). So what have we learned – and what pointers can we perceive to lead the way for the rest of the year?

Web design, like anything else, has its trends and its fashions. Following them slavishly will make you seem like a cliché, but ignoring them entirely risks rendering you out of date. Here are the ten trends we’re keeping an eye on – and deploying where they make the most sense.

 

1. Responsive Design 2.0?

Designing websites in such a way that they can adapt to whatever screen or platform they’re being viewed on has been a thing for a while. But with designers increasingly adopted a mobile-first position, and Google rewarding response sites with higher rankings, its adoption has been picking up real pace this year.

 

2. More Use of Scalable Vector Graphics

This comes in hand-to-hand with more responsive design: vector graphics are able to grow or to shrink as windows stretch this way or that. It’s a clever piece of technology that will make your all-important graphics look great every time.

 

3. Big & Bold Typography

If responsive design is “under the hood”, one of the most visible changes to web design this year is the prominence of typography: big, bold fonts will be placed at the heart of designs. In particular look out for serif fonts and geometric ones. Single words, simply presented, have never been clearer.

 

4. New Kinds of User Interface

As mobile-first because more prominent, UIs are changing, too. They look more and more like mini-desktops – lots of buttons to click, sorted into grids – and increasingly involve conversational elements – think questions, prompts and chatbots.

 

5. Authentic Photography

Gone are the days when stock photography passed muster. Users see so many websites per day now that they notice when photographs look staged or don’t seem unique to the site they’re viewing. Take your own photos, and use them prominently.

 

6. More Animation

With GIFs now a thing way beyond cult websites like Reddit, and animated images easier than ever to produce, moving images are more a part of websites than ever in 2017. From animated transitions between pages to cheeky decoration, animation is having a moment.

 

7. Vibrant Colours

White and grey have had their day. The clean and stark lines of recent years remain, but their backgrounds have changed: think fuchsias and oranges, and even bright greens. Let your websites pop.

 

8. The “Hero Banner”

The large image at the top of the website, filling the first screen a visitor sees – situated “above the fold” to adopt newspapers terminology – now reigns supreme. 2017 may see its apogee, but for now it is having a real moment in the sun.

 

9. The Long Scroll

Partly because the “hero banner” is now such a thing, sites are scrolling further than ever before. Mobile-first websites in particular benefit from “single-page” websites – there’s no need for an endless navigation tree of pages. Just let your users scroll.

 

10. Minimalism

All of this said, the biggest trend of 2017? Simple sites, plainly appointed. But be bold.

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you’re looking for a web design company in Coventry, Warwickshire and would like some support with a website, then please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

What are you doing, Dave? How AI can help.

March 31st, 2016 in Development, Technology

Artificial intelligence seems to many less an issue for business and more for science fiction writers. There’s HAL 9000, anxiously asking Dave what he’s doing in 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are the robot overlords of The Matrix, overtaking humans in intelligence and using them as their batteries.

It’s worth saying that the wildest fears of science fiction may be over-egging the pudding: many technologists, like Tom Chatfield [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/18/artificial-intelligence-humans-computers], argue that it would be simple enough to engineer the systems in which AIs operate in such a way that they would not outgrow them and take over our own.

Indeed, artificial intelligence is with us right now, managing systems with specific purposes that can provide concrete benefit. AI is not some futuristic fancy (although its inevitable triumph over mere humans may well be); it’s a tool we can use today.

Fundamentally, AI is simply a term for a computer program able to extrapolate appropriately from a set of data. Take Amazon’s new Machine Learning product, a cloud service that enables companies to build predictive models from statistics they gather. The models are limited to certain questions: predicting the most likelihood of three or more potential outcomes, for instance, or arriving at an accurate model for the volume of a particular product the company should stock. But it’s still artificial intelligence.

Google Translate is another good example of AI businesses can make use of today: we’re so used to using it that we don’t think of it as artificial intelligence at all, but in understanding natural language, in learning from mistakes and reasoning from context, Translate is absolutely a form of AI. Like Machine Learning it is limited to specific tasks within set parameters – but that doesn’t make it any less intelligent in those spheres.

In other words, business may not yet have an answer to Star Trek’s Lieutenant Commander Data … but they have access to AI nevertheless.

Even coders like me aren’t immune. As this article at Primary Objects [http://www.primaryobjects.com/2013/01/27/using-artificial-intelligence-to-write-self-modifying-improving-programs/] shows, an AI which could develop an entire website is (thankfully for me!) a long way away; but it isn’t impossible, and is likely in one form or another inevitable. Indeed, as computers become more numerous and ever faster, and more and more connected to others, they will become increasingly able to access the cloud and Big Data to take on more and more functions.

That poses real opportunities for business – and it’s worth keeping on top of how AI can help you today and tomorrow. Help is the operative word: that programme at Primary Objects took 6,057,200 generations and ten hours to say “I love all humans”. AI isn’t HAL 9000 – for now at least, it’s here to help.

How Keeping Up With Technological Change Is Like War & Peace

February 12th, 2016 in Development

There was a scene in the recent BBC adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s novel of Napoleonic derring-do, War and Peace, which emphasised the dangers of straggling. On the great winter march out of Russia, a prisoner of the French army whom the audience had come to admire a great deal simply couldn’t take the ferocious conditions anymore. He dropped back – and was shot by the soldiers as a burden.

 

I’m pretty sure this was designed to make us perceive Napoleon’s army as the bad guys. Perhaps I’ve been in the tech sector too long, but I wasn’t quite as shocked as the series wanted me to be: this sort of behaviour, thankfully without the actual bodily harm, is par for the course where I’m from.

 

Technology, like an army, stops for no one. Today, we have almost grown accustomed to what would have been to our ancestors an utterly bewildering pace of change. The Russians about whom Tolstoy wrote lived in more or less the same way as their grandfathers; today, our lives are in some ways unrecognizable from what they were even ten years ago. It can be a real struggle to keep up, then – but you don’t have any choice if you want your business to be a success rather than taken to the rear and shot.

 

The consequences of not keeping pace with technological change are as dire as they are obvious: fall behind a trend – mobile internet, for example – and you’ll be less useful or accessible to your clients, less relevant to their needs. Fail to spot the next technological horizon and you’ll miss the key opportunities which could have benefited both you and your clients; and fail to harness the power of IT and your internal processes will become less efficient than your competitors – and your customers will sense that, too.

 

The obscurity of the Luddite is a terrible thing. But in a period of such rapid change how can you avoid it without simultaneously being a genius? You’d expect someone who works for a web design agency to say this, but the first rule of thumb must be: listen to your geeks. Every business has at least one, and their natural enthusiasm for tech has a really practical impact if you can harness it to figure out what the next big thing might be.

 

Likewise, read magazines like Wired or websites such as Engadget.com – these specialise in talking about the latest developments in accessible terms. Very often publications like this are consumer-facing, and that’s key: the most rapid change is happening in this sector, and keeping track of the latest trends in smartphones or tablets will help you understand what your customers expect. Not only that, but big step-changes in business – cloud storage, for instance – began life at the consumer level. Stay a step ahead.

 

So a bit of curiosity can go a long way. Do you kids endlessly play video games? Join in! Gaming is a great way to experience new technologies – from peer-to-peer communication to social sharing and distribution, gaming is constantly making the most of the latest technological opportunities to enhance players’ experiences. In the same way, take a trip to your local tech store – play with the product, talk with the salespeople. Make the latest gear a part of your life. Splash out every now and then on a new toy.

 

In other words, tech isn’t something happening to other people – it’s happening to you, too, whether or not you embrace it. Futurologists spend their careers writing about the long-term future (and it’s well worth picking up one of their books every now and then for context); the least we can do as individuals is understand what’s popular now, and equip ourselves to imagine the next short-term shift. Thinking outside the box – outside your comfort zone, outside your sector or department – keeps us all flexible.

 

And finally, of course, I’d suggest you talk to an expert. If, having read the magazines and played with the gadgets and thought about the future, you think you might have an idea – or even if you’ve merely identified a hole in your organization you think tech could fill – call us or some other group of experts (it should definitely be us) so you can start to plan properly how you’ll make the most of the next big thing . . . and keep up with that long, sometimes grueling, march.

 

All this Napoleonic hi-jinx got me thinking, actually: on the battlefields of Belgium in 1815, during Napoleon’s last stand, many things contributed to the final French defeat. But one of them? The British Baker rifle: a type of firearm with a grooved, rather than smooth, barrel, which could project the bullet faster, further and more accurately. That is, even Napoleon could struggle to keep up with technological change. Don’t let that blind spot be your Waterloo.

Just Like Starting Over: Why DIY Isn’t a Dirty Word

January 18th, 2016 in Bespoke, Development, Web

I’m going to start with some jargon, because sometimes there’s just no avoiding it.

My term of the day is “technical debt”. No, this isn’t what overly optimistic people might call their overdraft limit or credit card statement; it’s the phrase we use to describe the inheritance we taken on when we use an “out of the box” solution.

Oops. There’s some more jargon. “Out of the box” is the phrase used to describe a pre-existing product that can be purposed to a variety of applications. Think of a website builder – a piece of software that allows you, and many others, to build a very basic website using a limited number of templates.

Equally, as an agency we might be presented by a new client with a solution they have previously developed, and which they would like us to move over to our servers as part of our new service to them. This isn’t an “out of the box” solution per se, but it’s definitely a case of us taking on a previous developer’s work – and very often we’ll need to fix issues and add new functionality to it.

That’s “technical debt”: taking on and working with the foibles of a previous piece of software rather than building something expressly for a new purpose, from scratch. Few people like debt, and unsurprisingly we’ve found that it’s often better for everyone if we just start again – build new software for the new servers and new systems. That way, we understand the code better, and it’s been written expressly for the current purposes and contexts.

We understand that clients can see things from the other end of the telescope: they’ve paid for a system that does more or less what they want, so why should they pay again for us to re-build it? After all, it will take time for us to write the new version of the application and get it to a stage of maturity similar to that which the previous platform has already reached.

But if there’s no tight deadline, we’ve found that in the long run it will work out cheaper to write the code anew. Why? Because the devil’s in the detail: your time-honoured software only more or less does the job, and that means we’ll be constantly trouble-shooting the gaps between what the software can do and what it needs to do. That bug-fixing costs money, and it will continue for as long as we try to use the old system for new purposes.

Imagine that the old piece of software is a square peg; maybe when it was first fashioned the hole was square, too … but now the corners have shifted slightly and our developers are having to shave a bit off the peg, or fiddle with the diameter of that round hole. If we’d just made the peg from scratch, it would fit perfectly every time – and we’d understand the material the peg was made from better, too, so future improvements would be much quicker and easier for us to implement.

Likewise, if one of our developers builds your software, all our developers can fix it – because we share “frameworks”, another bit of jargon that basically refers to a shared environment in which code is written. Your previous developer’s work will almost certainly use a different framework – and from any security vulnerabilities to its quirks of grammar, we’ll probably be able only to allocate one developer to understanding it. That means that if I spend a month figuring out your old software, and then I’m sick for a week or go on holiday, then James will be totally stuck.

So it might seem counter-intuitive, but starting over from scratch is often quicker and cheaper in the long run. Like any other type of debt, the technical kind has to be paid for again and again – and in that sense I suppose that sometimes jargon isn’t so divorced from everyday language after all.

Why Affording An Agency Website Is Like Eating Cake

October 29th, 2015 in Apps, Bespoke, Design, Development, Marketing, Web apps cake Design development Web website

cake-web-advert

I realized the other day that I’ve been spending a lot of time at networking events in recent weeks. This is not just because it’s a great way of scoring free cake (hardly a networking event in the country now does not supply afternoon tea as standard, I can only-slightly-smugly report). It’s because these sorts of meetings offer great ways to meet new clients, and understand how all businesses are thinking.

One of the constant themes of my conversations with people from SMEs is one of cost – or, maybe more accurately, how expensive many businesses imagine a professional website might be.

We’ve all met the small business owner who asked his friend to build a website, and wound up with one that was half-finished; we’ve all probably tried to build a website using one of these ‘out-of-the-box’ services or web builders, and found it just cannot do the job. The fact is, your business’s website is ever more important – and needs to be professionally tailored to the particulars of your business. That takes a proper design agency.

The people I talk with over all those cream teas, however, are always worried that they simply can’t afford an agency. You might expect me to try and convince them otherwise, and, I confess, I do – but it’s a fact we don’t want to hide that, sure, we’re more expensive than using a website builder’s templates or getting your mate to do it.

But you invest a lot in your business, and an investment repays over time. We believe that the little bit extra we cost – and it’s nowhere near as much as many people seem to fear! – is worth the investment, and will help your business be the best it can be.

Come to think of it, it’s all a bit like cake (yes, I have cake on the brain – why do you ask?): the better the ingredients, and the better the baker, the tastier the final product. If you’re trying to impress, you don’t use value flour, you don’t scrimp on the icing, and you don’t ask someone who’s never made a cake before to whip one up for you. Your business will look worse than it is – and be less accessible to customers than it should be – unless you build your website like you’d bake that special sponge.

At Image+, we build a website around your business: we’ll design it to look uniquely yours, build in the features you need and those customers expect, and write the content for you so that it’s all professional and compelling. You’ll have face-to-face meetings with us; we’ll be on the end of the phone whenever you have a question; and we’ll do it all for you – you won’t have to fiddle with a single button if you don’t want to!

Let’s say you spend about £3000 on your website with us – that’s a standard amount for a fully-featured website, tailored for you, though we’ve done cheaper – and let’s say it lasts three years before it needs a bit of a facelift. That’s just £80 per month, which is a great deal given that proper websites, as opposed to bad ones, are proven to generate leads, improve repeat business, and increase your brand’s reach. From this perspective, dealing with a tricky online website builder that churns out a basic cookie-cutter website and doesn’t offer any after-sales support seems like the bad investment, right?

So. Not only is an all-singing, all-dancing agency website cheaper than you think; it justifies whatever extra expenditure it may incur over the cheap-but-far-from-cheerful alternatives. So why not pop in and have a chat with us about what we can do for you? I’ll even bring cake.

Mobile-First Design: Why Remembering Mobile Is Like Putting On Trousers

October 14th, 2015 in Design, Development, Search Engine Optimisation, Web

We’re all familiar with the concept of optional extras: additional cup holders in your car,

or ‘accent stitching’ on that custom-made suit. But you wouldn’t buy a new motor

without an engine, and you wouldn’t slip on a new three-piece that didn’t come with

trousers. Those are just the basics. But why is it often so different for websites?

In today’s world, your website will be viewed in a hundred different ways. On a

smartphone or a desktop, a tablet or a netbook; it might be loaded up in Chrome or Safari,

Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. This makes demands on your developers that were

absent in the ‘good old days’ of IE’s dominance, always installed on a 486DX2 66 MhZ

machine.

 

Just like an engineer or a tailor, web designers need to move with the times in terms of

what is considered ‘the basics’. That’s why we believe that all websites should be

‘responsive’ as standard. What do we mean by this? It’s simple, really: we mean that

every client should have confidence that their website will display perfectly on any

screen – and that none of their customers will be turned off by a design that just doesn’t

work on their device of choice.

 

This might sound like common sense, but a surprising number of other web agencies

charge extra for building responsive websites. That is, they treat the ability to display

properly on the varied devices people now use as an optional extra. For us, that’s like

forgetting to put on your trousers.

 

Think about it: according to comScore, the number of people globally using mobile

devices of one kind or another to access the internet has now exceeded those using the

traditional desktop computer. If your site is designed exclusively for desktops – still the

‘basic package’ offered by many developers – you will be alienating the largest segment

of your audience.

 

Not only that, but the internet has changed to reflect these new behaviours: Google has

made changes to how it ranks websites in order to reward those which prioritise the

mobile experience. They are not only penalising those websites which don’t offer any

mobile functionality at all; they are denying rankings even to websites which offer

limited responsive features, such as providing a ‘no-frills’ mobile version of their desktop

website.

 

What can you do about this? You can choose a developer who doesn’t simply remove

functionality from a basic desktop website until it ‘fits’ on a smartphone screen. At

Image+, our design philosophy is ‘mobile first’: we start from the smallest screen,

creating a great website which we can then enhance with each move upwards in size

towards the desktop. This, not surprisingly, is the approach which Google endorses.

 

‘Mobile first’ design isn’t just what the world’s biggest search engines expect. It’s what

your customers want, too. Make sure your website is the success you need it to be – and

don’t settle for a designer who forgets to put on their trousers.