Covid-19 Scams That Are Hitting Businesses
It’s not a surprise for the more cynical among us, that there are people out there targeting individuals, using the Coronavirus pandemic as an excuse. But it may surprise you to know that there are many Covid-related scams now hitting the business world too.
Keep your guard up against these scams – trying to exploit a company’s fears about Covid. This is useful information that will help keep you, your employees, and your assets safe.
Government Check Scams
There has been a lot of talk about financial help and assistance for businesses who have been hit hardest by the covid pandemic. This is one of the rumours criminals are taking advantage of, making their scams sound more believable.
These scammers are doing the rounds, phoning businesses and claiming that there is money available for your business from a government agency. These scammers will ask for some sort of up-front payment, or for you to provide some kind of personal information. Don’t be fooled. A government agency would never phone and ask you to provide any personal details.
Business Email Scams
These are scams which have spoofed a company higher-ups email address and will ask you to send some money, or gift cards, transfer funds etc to another account. This may seem really plausible at first glance, but it’s really important to get face-to-face clarification, or at least over the phone, before sending anything.
This scam has been around for years, but in last year’s flurry of pandemic panic, this scam has seen a resurgence. Last year there were a lot of cancelled transactions, muddled orders, and cancelled deals – all of which scammers are taking advantage of.
Public Health Scams
You may receive an email from “Public Health England” or “WHO” asking for national insurance numbers and other personal information about your employees. The reality is that these are not emails from PHE or the World Health Organisation.
It’s a scammer, trying to access the personal records of your employees, to use for nefarious purposes. Some emails will even try to get you to click a download link which will install malware on your device. Stay vigilant and remember that no official organisations will ask for confidential information over the phone or via email.
With more and more people working from home, that provides more and more opportunity for hackers to gain access to a less than secure network. Now that telecommuting and Zoom meetings have begun the norm, hackers and scammers are hoping that companies will drop their network security.
Making sure you have a robust and safe network, with additional security systems in place will help keep your company’s data safe from people who shouldn’t be seeing it. Keep your employees updated on these scams and make sure they’re following safe internet working policies, even while at home. Especially while at home.
This is similar to the email from a company higher up, but usually these messages will purport to come from your company’s IT department. It usually asks for a password or to download some ‘new software’. Of course, the software is really malware, and the password is wanted in order to access data they shouldn’t have access to.
Scammers are using the general chaos of the pandemic in order to take advantage. With people working from home, they’re not as confident in using the technology, and trying to focus on their new way of working means that they’re not necessarily paying full attention to whether the emails are from a legitimate source. Remind your employees that they should always double check who an email is from and if there’s ever any concerns to phone the person the email claims to be from, directly.
Accessibility and its importance to business and design
When it comes to bringing your product or service to the masses it is vital for success that nothing puts potential buyers off or makes them want to find an alternative. This is why accessibility in design is so important as it can make or break a pitch. Accessibility in website design is defined as a feature or function of a website which gives those with disabilities ease of use and the ability to access your site.
Much like making sure your website is responsive so it is applicable for those who use varying size devices, it is important to make sure those who have disabilities have their needs met with an accessible design or you may risk losing a potential consumer.
Some examples of assessable design include having the website be able to be fully accessed with just a keyboard as some assistive programs rely on keyboard-only navigation. Ensuring this is possible with your website will allow those who rely on this service to be able to surf the web, will feel accommodated and you will not be isolating or turning away these consumers.
Another form of accessibility is text-to-speech, text-to-speech is designed for those who are sight impaired or blind, this technology and service allows those with this disability to be able to listen to the information on a page. The importance of this is it allows ease of use to all users of your website, it also does not make any visitor feel isolated, a great experience will also mean that a user is more likely to return to your website and recommend your service to their friends or family which in turn provides your service free advertising.
Consistent or recurring website elements will ensure that those who have intellectual disabilities or are sight impaired will be able to easily navigate your website as they will be able to predict where the element is if it is consistent on each page. The most important element you should be looking to keep consistent is the navigation as this is the feature that those who use your website will use the most and it should be the element which is the easiest to find and use.
When it comes to an accessible website there are 4 key guidelines which you should be looking to adhere to in order to ensure everyone who visits your website is accommodated and so you are not unintentionally turning away people who might otherwise become customers to your business. These guidelines are; perceivable, operable, understandable and robust.
With the increasing population and the exponential growth of internet browsing and shopping, it is important that your website leaves the visitor with a positive experience which they would want to share with others increasing your positive feedback and revenue in response to having an accessible website for all that may use it. In having an accessible website, you are ensuring that you are giving your customers of all backgrounds and abilities the best experience and one they would want to repeat.
The importance of establishing a social media presence
When it comes to establishing your business as a competitor in the business rat race, you should be looking to utilise all the advantages you have available to you. One of the best by far has become social media, everyone has their own opinions on social media but you cannot deny its growing trend in reaching the right people and reaching the younger generations.
There are a plethora of established and trending social medias and you should be looking to create an audience on as many as possible as the further you reach the more business you will get in return. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, the rise in social media presence will help to raise your profits. Many social medias are free to sign up for, so there is no downside to signing up. The majority of social media platforms these days have an in-built advertising system so for a fee you can advertise your business to an appropriate audience to help build up some potential customers.
The importance of social media as a marketing strategy is that it can help your business connect with already established customers, which also allows the customers to ask questions without physically visiting the business location, saving the customer time and gives your business a personal and friendly vibe. Using this method of marketing will also help to expand the reach of your business to a new audience who may have not heard of your business.
Social media add a personality to your business as when making posts about your products and services you are showing the customer your temperament, your style of humour and your personality. Some of this information may even be given out subconsciously through the way you structure your post to the way you punctuate, it all gives an indication to your customers about the brand you run.
Creating a social media account allows you to create a description of your business’s mission, aims and prosperities. These will show any potential customers what you have to offer and how you can benefit them, you can also have exclusive codes on your platform so the customers will have to visit the social media platform to get the discounts. Any consumers who may not know about your business now know that you offer discount codes for your business, which will increase the traffic leading to your store.
One underrated use for social media marketing is that it is low cost market research as well as reducing the overall marketing costs. You will be able to see the overall visitors who visit your page and they may leave feedback which you can use to improve your services and/ or products. Customer feedback is incredibly important so having it at your fingertips makes it incredibly easy to read it and implement it.
Social media is continuing to be on the rise so using it to help and advance your business only makes sense, using it for feedback and to advertise to those who may become new consumers.
Managed correctly it can be a low cost way to explore new opportunities and ultimately increase you bottom line.
Local SEO – getting your business noticed by the right people
Everyone in the industry knows how important it is to have your content reach the ideal people, people who are most likely to become consumers in your specialised area. SEO does this and having your website optimised to be at the top of the search results is what all business owners should be striving for if they want to be successful in their niche.
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the process of optimising your website so it appears at the top of search results when a specific string of words or phrases is imputed. Localised SEO is using that process but applying it to a specific location, so if a potential consumer is looking for a service or product in an specific area then localised SEO allows your business to be at the top of the search results if they match the criteria.
The importance of optimising your website to your locale is so your services are presented at the top of your niche increasing traffic to your website and in turn your website will rank more favourable as you have a large amount of traffic. This is most beneficial for business owners who only have one base of operations as it will drive the traffic away from your competitors and towards your business as it appears you are more local.
Benefits of localised SEO are:
- Your business is more attractive in the search rankings and will naturally increase traffic towards your site, and in turn increase sales.
- You are advertising to people who are more likely to visit your website as you appear higher in the search rankings in a particular area and appear more favourable for consumers who are in that area.
- You will generate a competitive edge over your competitors as you appear higher in search rankings for your particular area, which drives the traffic towards your website.
- This is a cost effective way for your website to grow in traffic, as your website appears at the top without massive advertising costs.
- Your business will build up a local following as by appearing at the top of search results in your desired area, locals are likely to recommend your services to other local people who may benefit from it.
- Your business will seem more appealing to the consumers who live close to your business as over the last few years there has been a massive push for people to buy locally and support local shops, so you can cash in on this view and advertise in a way which fits the ongoing push.
Keeping your business on the top is what all business owners are looking to do, so using every advantage is crucial for your success and for such a low cost localised SEO seems obvious to ensure this success. This will also allow you to build up a relationship with locals and in turn they will begin to advertise your products or services to other locals giving your business the push it needs, with the ongoing push for local businesses it only makes sense to make the most of localised SEO.
The Importance of responsive design and how it benefits you long term
Having the right website for the job is a core part to building an audience, your website should reflect the sort of person you are and what your business has to offer to the consumer. The generation we are in greatly values the use of handheld electronics such as phones and tablets so you should be looking to adapt so that your website fits comfortably within the screens constraints this is known as a responsive website.
The official definition of an adaptable design or responsive website is a development choice made by designers which allows a website to change appearance depending on the screen size or the orientation of the device, this type of design greatly relies on proportion based grids to rearrange elements of the site. This style of design is encouraged to new designers as it allows the consumer to view your content regardless of device, which means you aren’t deterring any future clients if they are trying to view your work on a phone rather than a laptop.
Responsive design is becoming increasingly more important as tech companies work to develop new sizes of device. Having a responsive website gives your consumer an optimal experience and will encourage them to spend more time on it because if a website doesn’t fit a customer’s screen appropriately then it may appear jarring or uncomfortable to look at so they won’t spend the time to see what you can offer them they will instead find a website which is more aesthetically pleasing and easier work through. It will also improve how your website is ranked on google as the more people visit and stay on there the better it will rank, if you website is not pleasant to look at then people won’t continue to view it or tell others about it.
Some benefits to this style of design are:
- You will be able to attract a wider audience as your consumers will be able to view your website on a variety of devices and won’t be deterred as your website gives a great experience meaning you will be able to retain viewership to your content.
- This style of website is easier to maintain as if there is something wrong with it you can correct the issue across the board. Some designers may choose to optimise and design different websites for the different devices but a responsive website allows you to optimise for all sizes of device.
- A responsive website will increase audience retention which will keep traffic flowing to your website as it is optimised for a range of devices, meaning visitors will have a more pleasant experience.
To summarize it is important to optimise your website for a range of devices. This is to ensure sure your audience’s experience on your website is positive and something they would want to recommend. Having a responsive website ensures that this fact is adhered to and allows your business to flourish in an age where mobile devices are on the rise.
What design trends are on the rise in 2021
Do you want to stay ahead of the curve in designing a website or graphic so your business can excel in 2021 – then these elements may be for you.
Keeping up with trends is a crucial part in the designing process, seeing what’s popular and how you can incorporate it within your own works. When it comes to staying at the top search results trends can be a great way to skyrocket your own career and sell your work to the masses.
Analysing these trends may show you why they are popular at the moment and what their relevance will be in the following years. Last year has been a very culturally and environmentally fuelled year so expect these themes to be on the rise this year and possibly next year.
Some design elements to keep in mind because they are on the rise are:
Reconnecting with nature:
- People are becoming very environmentally conscious so variants of green and using a leaf pattern may be beneficial to you within your designs to perceive that your brand has a connotation of connecting with the environment.
- People are also making a conscious change to work with businesses which match their views, so it may interest you to possibly use a green accent on your website to show that connotation as people are looking to reconnect with nature and become more environmentally weary.
- Retro elements are on the rise, people are looking for more geometric shapes and more fun designs which show a sense of nostalgia from the 80s.
- Bright colour is also back in style as people want this feeling of optimism due to the year that has just past, so colours such as light blues and yellows may be beneficial to you in showing those connotations of optimism and nostalgia.
Symbols rather than words
- Symbols have had a huge prominence in designing and that trend continues to rise in popularity as you have the ability to tell people in a concise way what you can offer them. You should also use text as that will affect your rankings in google but when used in tandem you can show a really powerful message.
- Symbols tell the reader what they are about to read without reading it so it is important that your symbols are relevant and impactful.
- Authenticity is on the rise because if your design shines honesty then the reader is more likely to trust your opinions and go with your business over one which they don’t trust.
- A professional design can be used to show trust and historically the colour yellow has been used to connate honesty, if you are looking to excel in the market then maybe consider this in your design.
To summarize the last year has been rough for many designers in the graphics industry, but things are looking optimistic for this year, so keep your eye on these trends as they progress during the year.
Five tips for great logo design
In the world of design, a lot of time is spent dreaming up a perfect logo, most commonly to represent a company or product. And a logo is important as it can help form a recognisable bond with a company or product After all, how many brands can you recognise by the logo alone? If you are trying to dream up the perfect logo design, here are some helpful considerations.
Have your logo tell a story
A logo should mean something, something relevant to your brand. Sometimes the story behind a logo is obvious, sometimes less so. Sometimes clever details are not initially noticed by the masses, then it goes viral when it is (think the hidden bear in the Toblerone logo-excellent for marketing when it’s spotted and shared!) For a logo with depth, don’t just put shapes and colours together, construct something that makes sense.
Use negative space well
Sometimes a logo with a plain background framing it can look good. But be careful or having too much white space, sometimes it does no favours. Judge the right amount of blank or coloured space (if any) to leave, or use it wisely by having it add something to the main logo area (think the hidden arrow in the FedEx design.
Sometimes simple is best
Yes,, we all love a clever logo. One that has some kind of trick that makes it very clever, such as the Amazon logo having the ‘A-Z’ of products it sells represented in its design. But sometimes keeping the logo simple is the best option-no tricks are needed. After all, you want to make sure everyone ‘gets it’. How simple is the ‘f’ that represents facebook? Very, and yet it is easily recognisable as being part of the branding. You have to be careful not to confuse anyone with what your logo is saying.
Have a unique logo
One thing that you don’t want is a logo that is too similar to an existing one, or one that someone is likely to come out with themselves, and if it is too generic of a design that is likely to happen. So although above we have said about keeping it simple, don’t go too simple! If you can find a way to make your logo unique, it’ll be all the better for it, and stand out well, making it easier for people to identify it with you. A good way to achieve this is with the styling of any imagery used, or a font. In regards to the font, think about how well the famous CocaCola one works.
Have fun !
This may seem a generic point, but if you are too uptight about the designing of your logo you can sometimes restrict yourself with your output. Think outside the box and get creative-your more likely to come up with a winner this way!
These tips will hopefully act as a helpful guide when it comes to the important process of designing a logo. And if you are struggling to come up with the goods there are plenty of very talented designers who will be more then happy to take the project on themselves!
Adobe Business Catalyst eggs in one basket for Witney firms
Since its inception as a company Websites by Mark has been attracted to the seemly professional look of the product called Adobe Business Catalyst.
What has stopped us in the past is pretty much the same reason we don’t ever recommend site builders like Wix and Moonfruit. Simply put when you use a platform like Adobe Business Catalyst, you are using a proprietary system and although you may pay for the service, you have to ask yourself about ‘what happens if?’
And to be fair when first became interested in the platform, during research we found a local competitor (at the time we were based near Witney in Oxfordshire) offering the platform to its customers, we were initially impressed how professional the platform looked. For us, one of the main blocks was the upfront cost to business which we saw as a barrier too far for most of our client base.
On March 24th, 2018, many customers have woken up to the news Adobe is killing the Business Catalyst platform. Worse still as the platform uses proprietary technology. It’s not as simple as putting the site onto third-party hosting.
In short when they finally do pull the plug, if you have not had a site rebuilt and hosted elsewhere, you will no longer have an online presence.
Although this is a real concern for anyone affected, the good news is there is time to do something about it.
Although not suitable for every sort of site WordPress makes a fantastic alternative.
Where WordPress is different is that the source code is open source, which means you never have the danger of anyone pulling the plug on the platform. You are also not tied to a single hosting provider. In other words, in a world where there is chaos. WordPress is about as future proof as it gets.
When you migrate from Business Catalyst you are likely to find that at least some of your pages may have a different URL, this will cause an initial drop in rankings, but the good news is with the right preparation, this is not a long-term issue.
Our offer to companies in Banbury, Carterton, Oxford, Oxfordshire and Witney
If you think you might have an Adobe Business Catalyst website we will be happy to take you through your long-term options.
Not only will you get a website which performs just as well as your defunct Adobe Business Catalyst website, but its fighting fit for the future and your hosting is likely to be cheaper as well.
If you are interested in finding out more, please visit our contact page for our contact details.
Designing a website which ranks well in Google
Since its earliest incarnation, Google has continually involved to both give more relevant results to its user as well as combat web spam created by individuals to game the system.
While a lot of techniques still work equally today, Google has added some interesting changes to the mix, which make designing a great looking site which ranks well a real challenge.
What hasn’t changed
Google mission for providing links to relevant websites has not really changed. It relies on a combination of inbound links and well-written content. And still puts a lot of weight on inbound links. So even with the world’s best-written content, someone with a better backlink profile will have a head start.
Google also likes to match search terms with content. So, if your webpage has phrases which people search for it is likely to perform better.
Normal SEO work cycle.
With SEO the starting point is always looking for terms which people search for and have an amount of traffic associated with them. There are several Keyword tools available, but as time has gone on, these tend to have become less reliable as regards to accurate data they provide.
So, once you have a potential list of phrases, as good SEO will first look at them on a human level and then look at competitors to see if they have come to the same conclusions. If you are targeting completely different phrases, there is a chance you might be right, but a bigger chance you are not.
When crafting your Web pages, you would then look to craft copy around the phrases and as a final touch maybe check that you’re not massively going over the top compared to your competitors with the number of times a phrase is used.
You would then wait for Google to re-index before evaluation and tweaking.
Website design in a Google 2.0 world
In more recent times, people who have followed a ‘script’ to apply SEO (i.e. titles must include the search phrase, H tags must include the search phrase etc…) have found their results have become poorer over time. Simply put this formula no longer works.
The first major change which has already happened is that Google is moving away for exact matches. And clues are available when you search. As an example, if you search for web design, not only instances of web design appear in the result but variations like website design, web designer and all manner of other similes. The other major changes are the stripping of stop and connecting words. So, in the above example, if someone was to search for web design London, Google would give equal match weights to variations such as web designer in London or even website design near London.
As a designer, it gives us more scope to include ‘proper’ English and still has pages which rank well.
But this is not the end of the story
While much focus has been given to semantic SEO and OG tags, there is still little evidence that Google lifts pages with these tags included. In short, Google still only trusts what it can see.
But this has one more massive consideration and that’s how Google evaluates a web page for SERPS’s.
Now while its true Google does evaluate the whole page, it does not evaluate the whole page equally.
In short, Google only is really interested in the content above the fold. So in other words, if you have a large header, large slider and then below the fold your actual content starts, although Google will still evaluate the whole page, Google won’t rank your page as effectively as if the content started immediately below a small header.
Worse still, Google now much more interested in a mobile-first world, which means we have even less space to get our SEO copy onto the screen.
Designing mobile first
One way around this is to construct your site as a mobile-first experience and optimise your site for this experience and then use media break points to improve the site design for larger formats.
While not recommended for all images, in the above example where the slider would take up the whole mobile screen, one solution would have the slider not showing for anyone using a small format mobile phone.
This would have not only the advantage of helping Google rank your site appropriately, but also give your users a better experience in the process.
While its possible to ignore the things, Google sees as important and still rank well, this approach relies on an amazing backlink profile. But considering how Google sees the world we can design and build a site which naturally performs well on all search engines including Google.