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Google Analytics: Enhanced Ecommerce tracking

Google Analytics is a great product for tracking your ecommerce site and with the wealth of people using it, there's some great education and resources out there too. Recently they also released a decent upgrade to their standard ecommerce tracking features.

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5 Tips to Boost Your Twitter Following

Rob Waller is the web developer behind the Fakers App which analyses the quality of followers as opposed to the number. It’s been used by over 600,000 people and has been commended by the New York Times, among others.

Since then Rob's set up Status People, a company dedicated to helping businesses with their social media, in particular whittling out the fakers.

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Digital Trends 2013

With a new year comes new challenges, and we're here to help you achieve your goals. At Blueleaf we like to think we're spotting digital trends that could make you more money and improve your digital marketing. As a result, there's a link below to a report of the top 5 trends in digital for 2013. We hope you find it of value and enjoyable.  Please feel free to distribute it far and wide. Click here to view the PDF

If you have any questions about this report or just fancy a bit of chat  don't hesitate to call us on on 01829 260600 or drop us a line.

Written by Rob Smith

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Planning to make a difference

There is much I enjoy about being a Producer, but one area that brings me great pleasure is the thought that we have made someone's day better. It might not always be on a grand scale, and it might even go unnoticed as a specific experience, but it will have registered with the customer on some level. If we have made it easier for someone to find the information they need without frustration, shown them the ideal selection of gifts, or saved them time when booking a meeting room, their experience will be positive.

How do we plan for these friction free interactions? We make it our business to understand the people using the system, and then design the experience around them.

As it's unfeasible to keep a crowd of users in the corner of the office to consult throughout the project we undertake research and create personas - descriptions of certain types of people who will be using the website. A useful persona focuses on the goals of a user, their attitudes, and their behaviours. To remind us that these documents act as stand ins for real people each is given a name and represented by a photograph. This enables us to make design decisions throughout the project based on real people with real objectives. At every stage we can ask questions such as 'will that instill confidence in Jane to buy that gift?' or 'does that save Mark time?'

Of course personas don't replace actual people but it's a great starting point until user testing can be undertaken. But that's a whole other topic...

By Jenny Lomax 

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What's so good about PhoneGap?

Here at Blueleaf we're always looking for the latest new technology and we're rather excited about something called PhoneGap - one of our senior web developers Pete explains why.

If you haven't heard about PhoneGap, in a nutshell it gives you the ability to build an app as you would a website. So, think of PhoneGap as being a "chrome-less" web browser that displays HTML5, CSS and JavaScript content, where "chrome-less" is a term to describe the look of a website without the address bar, bookmarks and navigation that a normal web browser would display. A little bit like the view when you press the full screen button.

With this in mind, PhoneGap enables application build using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript to take advantage of the full screen of the device and is a great way for a web developer to get involved in app development. Further information on PhoneGap can be found here.

 

When would you use PhoneGap?

From our experience, we'd say that apps providing information about a service, product or event are perfect for PhoneGap, where you can do 99% of what you can do on the web without any problems at all.

One great feature of PhoneGap is that it allows integration with the iOS Accelerometer. A simple example of this would be to create a game with the objective of moving a ball around the screen by tilting the device. This can be done by hooking into the Accelerometer and using a little Javascript. Further information on this can be found here.

 

Tips for using PhoneGap

PhoneGap is great as long as you keep it simple. The more things you add, the more memory that the little app will begin to use on the device and if you're not careful, crashes will start occurring. A good thing to remember is that you are still limited by the web technologies on which the app is based, so it's best to avoid any heavy graphics processing or highly interactive features.

It's recommended to use as much CSS3 as possible for animations and transitions and the less JavaScript you use the better, as the devices have a limited amount of memory allocated to JavaScript and if you hit it, then the app will crash.

If your app seems sluggish, try getting some more power by using Hardware Acceleration. Adding “webkit-transform: translateX(0)” to the CSS will trigger this because translateX is used for 3D animation. It doesn't always work (can make it even slower) but it's worth a shot.

Another quick tip is that if you want to hide the Quicktime logo when videos are loading on an iPhone or iPad, here's the answer. I exhausted almost every idea and forum possible but in the end I used translateX again but this time with the addition of a little bit of jQuery. When the video isn't playing, use “webkit-transform:translateX(-2048px)” to hide it off screen. Then detect when the video is playing and send it back, try this as it works a treat -

[javascript] function adjustVideo(videoblock) {

//When this function is called we'll shift the video element 2048px to the left.

$(videoblock).css("-webkit-transform", "translateX(-2048px)");

//We now wait and listen for the video to begin playing.

$(videoblock).bind("play", function () {

//Once it starts playing we shift the video element back over to the right.

$(videoblock).css("-webkit-transform", "translateX(0)");

}); } [/javascript]

Conclusion

Remember that the principle behind PhoneGap is that it’s essentially a website that makes the user believe it's an app. As such, the end user will expect app-like features and performance. The expectation is in the eye of the beholder; show them a website and they will expect a delay while the pages load, show them an app and they expect multimedia activities to happen instantly. Trying to explain problems such as slowness and lag to an end user (or client) when an app looks like an app but isn't actually an app, is a tough challenge.

PhoneGap has its uses but it’s not a native app.  Before deciding to use it, assess the requirements of your app carefully before diving in. Don't be lured into a false sense of security just because you know how to develop for the technology behind PhoneGap (HTML, CSS, JS).  It might not be possible to make your app as awesome as you (or your client) would like using PhoneGap, you might just have to go native. But PhoneGap is certainly worth considering.

To be continued...

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Mobile friendly forms in minutes

Did you know that approximately 70%* of people make their first visit to a website using a mobile device? This visit may be just a quick glance to follow up later on a desktop or they may complete a contact form requesting further information but this first visit could be the difference between gaining a sale or losing a sale. One of our senior developers Daz looks at how contact forms can be made easier to complete. I often find that a lot of forms on websites are not easy to use from a mobile device.  When it comes to entering my email address for example,  it's often the case that the first letter automatically appears in upper case and neither the @ key nor other commonly used keys such as dash and underscore are readily available. Does this look familiar to you?

As you can see in the example you have to press the shift key in order to find the @ symbol, thereby increasing the time it takes for you to complete the form. Some people may even choose to abandon the form entirely at this stage.

Essentially what is happening is that the mobile device is expecting standard text. With a very simple change to the code behind the form however, it becomes mobile friendly thus saving the user minutes and helping your conversion rates.

All it needs is the following change:

From : <input type="text" name="email" /> To:  <input type="email" name="email" />

What surprises me is that the majority of sites on the modern web haven’t changed their forms, even though it's so easy to achieve. Here is the same example as above but changed to be mobile friendly and all it took was a matter of seconds.

This change simply takes advantage of the new HTML 5 input types designed to enhance user experience and supported by mobile devices.  For a comprehensive list of input types, click here. The great thing is that even if a particular browser doesn't support the HTML5 code, it will revert back to a standard text input field thereby always ensuring that your form is functional.

So there you have it - a simple way to make your forms more user friendly for those on a mobile device and a great way to help your conversion.

*Based on an average of analytical data gained from client websites from October 2011 to October 2012, thanks to Scotteo

And to finish off, just a quick tip if you use ASP.NET standard textbox controls - you will need to download a patch for the .NET framework to allow an input type other than text to be specified. Here is a link to the required patch  - thanks to Dan Branwood for highlighting this.

By Daz Taylor

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SEO: Is your site ready for the Google Updates?

So what’s changed?

I‘m Scott Evans AKA ScottEO (too confusing having two Scott’s in the office); if you haven’t guessed already I look after our clients SEO and search marketing interests. I want to explain why the recent algorithmic updates by Google have shaken the SEO industry, and why now, more than ever it’s important to get your site built ready for an SEO campaign.

You’ve probably read lots of chilling articles about the penguin update, but I’m not going to ramble on and give advice how to counter this, for the most part you have to go with the flow. One of the main reasons I joined the Blueleaf team was because I believe that optimising and achieving results for a site that is unprepared for SEO is becoming increasingly difficult. By unprepared I mean such key aspects as URL structure, site structure, content and website depth. Historically SEO companies used manipulation techniques through heavy anchor text link building to force Google to rank a site. The penguin update has changed all this, no longer can SEO companies take any random website and start throwing links at it, then sit back and expect results. No lazy SEO man, NOT FOR YOU!

Preparing for SEO

Over the course of my career working with marketing directors and managing directors I have noticed one common theme; many have a backwards approach to digital marketing. Often the basic plan for launching your new website online looks like this.

 

The Stressful Approach

 

The Smart Approach.

The push and the pull

It’s often pressure from above to hit a website go-live date which causes SEO to be overlooked at development stage. Now more than ever it is vital. You cannot expect an SEO company to rebuild your site structure, and if they did they would struggle with designing it with the user in mind. We combine two simple methods, push and pull. The push relates to pushing visitors to the relevant pages, guiding them with simple site structure and navigation. While the pull is utilising search marketing methods such as SEO and PPC; you want to build optimised pages ready to help the site pull people in. You do this through ensuring your primary SEO landing pages are not 4 or 5 levels deep in the site directory, while ensuring other important factors like URL’s are clean and include keywords. This is a pretty big part of the jigsaw, and often when building your website you have one chance to get it right.

It’s the balance between the push and the pull that has always been important, but often ignored. People expect their website to be found with no SEO campaign and don’t incorporate this in the development stage. Cost cutting usually means that SEO doesn’t factor into build. Its only when the website needs traffic then SEO is considered. This is a backwards approach which is thankfully now starting to change. Smart marketing managers need that assurance, and are switching onto the fact that their site needs to be optimised and built for pulling in traffic.

 

Google keeps us guessing

The penguin update changed the face of SEO, it was a killer for manipulation methods and aggressive link building, but it was the rebirth of well optimised websites which produce great content. Before you could take a poorly optimised website, tweak a few little things and start some heavy link building activities. Now the penguin has arrived and while link building still works, SEO companies cannot push as hard as they once did and cannot rely on their formerly trusted manipulative techniques. This means that the site's structure and on page SEO is now more important than ever.

So ensure you find a web agency that does cater for SEO and search marketing, as at some stage you’re probably going to need it. You have to schedule time for SEO in the development stage and your web agency should offer and provide keyword research and planning. Be forward thinking and take advice on how SEO forms a part of your website.

Image source: https://seogadget.co.uk/beware-of-the-google-over-optimization-update/

Written by Scott Evans

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What's your customer journey?

Understanding the different ways that customers approach your company, the decisions they make and the feelings they experience along the way can be an essential part of any web project. Identifying each of these gives us important insight into the best design, navigation and content for your customers.

So, what are the typical stages of a customer journey? Well, just as there's no such thing as a 'typical' company, equally there's no such thing as a 'typical' customer. The example shown however, fits many.

  • Purchases often start with a research phase, increasingly conducted online. Our learning from this is that your site should cater for customers who want to browse quickly and you need to blow their socks off with the way you show your products/services
  • Following this primary research the next step can often be to experience the product in the flesh, especially if it's a high value item. Featuring a prominent store finder on your site helps customers get to you. You could also include a stock checker so they're not disappointed when they arrive. Once in-store, giving web access to customers via a mobile site or terminal helps deliver a joined up experience. Acknowledging that they may not be ready to buy in-store is also important, so sending them away with something like a discount voucher for use online can encourage purchase
  • The customer's next step may well be further online research. Your site now needs to get customers easily to the products they're interested in, quickly delivering as much information as possible and allowing them to spec the product and add any extras, before of course helping them checkout
  • Hopefully we're at the purchase stage now. Give your customers as much confidence as possible in your online security before you ask them to type in their card details – show trust logos, design your checkout to work quickly and seamlessly, and tell them know about delivery and returns
  • The journey doesn't end there. Once they receive their order, encourage them to share their hopefully fantastic experience socially, review the products and give them clear information on how to contact you with any queries



This is only the tip of the iceberg for customer journeys, but hopefully it will have given you a flavour of the power of these pieces of work. Fully understanding all the ways that customers come to your business and all of the different routes through to making a purchase can pay dividends when planning a website.

It's the only way to ensure that your new site caters for every customer at every stage of their journey.

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It's the little things that count

As our pockets are being squeezed ever more, there seems to be a general lack of loyalty to any one store. Discounting is definitely driving sales. So in this harsh retail environment, how do you turn fickle consumers into repeat customers? There's a great article on the Econsultancy blog about ASOS' after-sales email and how it really improved the blogger's perception of the brand and encouraged him to shop there again.

Interestingly, I had just shopped for the first time at Ocado and had an equally impressive experience. What made the difference to me wasn't the intuitive app or the great offers but a simple text message to tell me that, Myles in Onion van reg XXXXX would arrive at the agreed time to deliver the order.

Why was it so impressive? It was personal and friendly, just like ASOS' after-sales emails. Something so simple and small made the biggest impact and has meant that I shopped at Ocado again.

When planning your sales strategy, remember that after-sales is just as important yet doesn't have to be complicated or expensive, just personal and friendly. After all it's the little things that count.

If you need any help with your digital strategy, contact Adrian Lomas or Rob Smith on 01829 260 600 or hello@blue-leaf.co.uk

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