Medium to large organisations have been waiting to delve into the mass of information that they gather about their customers, particularly in digital trends. Mobile and cloud technology appear to be at the very top of that list but what does this actually mean for those organisations?

Ovum expects a significant wave of business technology ramp-ups in 2014, in response to the market demand. They are predicting that many businesses will fail to act on the data they possess keeping with existing ‘future-less’ systems in an act to save money. However, some will move forward with this new found information they have spent so long obtaining and really push the boat out to grow their IT services ecosystem to create more immersive, engaging, and quicker ways to engage with their systems.

The number 1 priority for those ready and willing to progress their IT ecosystem will no doubt be looking at diversifying their existing IT solution. The biggest game changer that companies will find useful is the transition from traditional ‘desktop’ software to the new cloud systems which don’t require terminals with multiple areas for problems to occur. The cloud systems operate under a single umbrella, all data and computing takes place in a single area as opposed to every computer on the network creating the requests. This tied with the power of new servers and the speed at which most internet connections are currently running means that some systems will be up to 80% more efficient meaning less time waiting and more time working.

Perhaps bad news for employees but certainly good news for employers!

Making technology work, really work; for your staff and your customers isn’t easy. Many companies make the mistake of working around technology which ends up being nothing more than problematic, time consuming and a constant compromise on service. Technology must be deployed in a way that proves to be a valuable resource for your staff and internal systems as well as your customers and their specific needs, so don’t start with ‘off-the-shelf’ software that will compromise your organisation, instead let Pipe & Piper mould bespoke software around you and your customers.

touch screen graph on a tablet

We provide bespoke mobile and cloud software, business and technology management consulting, and most importantly a clear IT solution built around you! We have experience across a whole range of business sectors and industries providing integrated solutions to start-ups right through to multi-nationals.

Pipe & Piper will provide you with business and technology strategies, project management, business intelligence solutions, and software implementation. We truly understand business technology and how mobile and cloud systems can create an effective, dependable solution for your business. Ultimately our aim is to optimise your internal systems and procedures; creating new efficiencies, increasing your revenues, and improving your profitability.

We believe mobile and cloud solutions are the future of business technology. Software giants will still provide the building blocks; the platforms, the credibility for new technology, but we will utilise the popularity and flexibly, in a timely and cost effective manner build to a bespoke solution to suit your specific needs.

The future of business technology is cloud computing and mobile software platform services which will rapidly and significantly change the way the world does business. Contact Pipe & Piper today to find out how we can help your business grow.

We’ve been so busy working on projects new and old we’ve not even had time to update our own website! Not great, we know but it does mean that we’ve got some great things to update you with!

Over the next few days and weeks we’ll be adding much of our new content so keep an eye out for our updates.

In terms of web and tech news, there’s been some amazing stuff! iPhone 5S and 5c, GTA 5, Google Android basic to name a few of the popular ones!

Bear with us and we’ll get more info on all this exciting stuff soon!

Its only a matter of days now before the new iPhone’s are released in the public domain! We’ve had chance to play on the new iOS7 operating system and it has some great features! All you iPhone fans out there will be happy to hear that there are features unique to the new OS that only you will get (they’re not coming to Android anytime soon). In particular the cool multi-layered effect background, new quick link short cuts (which to be fair have been present on Android handsets forever!), updated app interfaces, 64bit software support (something we’re really excited about) and a new easily accessible music interface.

Additionally, we’ve seen plenty of images on the new iPhone’s and it has to be said they look great. We particularly like the cheaper iPhone 5c that comes in a variety of colours. The iPhone 5s looks identical to the old iPhone 5 but is now available in grey (black really), silver and gold (which somehow doesn’t look tacky!)

More on the new iPhone when we’ve got our hands on it 😉

Websites are still in evolutionary process, they continue to support and introduce new great features; which enables us to view richer content more easily than ever before. It’s always exciting to imagine what could be next for the www. Here in this article we delve into what’s currently hot this year in terms of web design.

Single Web Page

Lots of creative companies are going down the route of having a single page website. These sites utilise the navigation links to scroll to the relevant section. There are several positive and negative impacts single pages can have on a design. If Single Page is well designed then, you should be able to stay clear of most of it’s detractors, it’s worth knowing that there is a lot of work goes into making a single web page a slick and interactive product.

Positive Impacts

  • Design looks creative and free flowing
  • Looks different to the more traditional box layouts
  • Content is already loaded so decreased loading times per section

Negative Impacts

  • Harder for the design agency to maintain (may increase the cost)
  • The company that has a single web page is mainly reliant on their website designers to maintain the website
  • Not great for SEO as all sections are loaded on one page and not split into different cacheable URLs
  • Slows initial loading time for webpage as all content is loaded at once.
  • Website can confuse user if not extremely clear workflow

There’s no right or wrong way to design a website but there’s definitely some food for thought when thinking about implementing a single page app.

Single Page Web Apps
A great example is Purple Orange a PR company.

Minimalism

We are seeing increasing numbers of web apps deploying a minimalistic approach. There have been several influential products which have had an impact on this trend. Especially with the new windows 8 metro design for tablets, mobiles and desktop computers. Has seen many new websites spawning being heavily influenced by the windows design. Another example great example is the new XBOX 360 dashboard, this like the metro design is both simplistic and easy to use. This minimalism hides huge volumes of content into more palatable bite-sized chunks.

Windows 8 Metro UI
A great example of a minimalistic approach which has influenced many new websites

Typography

The use of typography in web design has always been considered by many an art form, since the inclusion of @font-face we have seen a huge reliance on custom fonts to change the way we view websites. This art form is not just appreciated by web designers but everyone! This year has seen some fantastic websites take advantage of some of the extremely elegant fonts that are now available. Whilst websites in the past have incorporated  typography as a large part of the design process, we are now starting to see nearly every major website rely on this technique.

Great typography web design trends
Image from chriswhitedesign.com

Fixed Headers

The year of the fixed headers! This is a funny one because the ability for a user to have a fixed navigation bar has always been available, however it’s only been widely adopted by many sites fairly recently. The fact that fixed headers are so easy to incorporate begs the question of why have they not been around sooner?

However having fixed headers provides many advantages…

  • Brand Building -It helps build the sites brand as the logo and brand name are always viewable
  • Easier Navigation – Helps people navigate around your website more easily
  • Stops Unecessary Scrolling – It can more often than not prevents the need to scroll all the way to the top/bottom of the web page
  • Improves Usability – By improving the usability of the site you are in turn increasing the pleasure factor of the visitors viewing experience.

Fixed Headers Web Design Trends
Facebook has had a fixed header for years but only now has many other websites followed suit.

Responsive web design

Web design trends in 2013 could not be complete without mentioning the rise to prominence of “responsive web design”. It has been around for a while, like many other techniques listed, however the amount of sites that now offer a responsive layout to it’s users is only ever increasing.

responsive web design
Our Pipe & Piper Responsive Design

The web is only heading in one direction and that is mobile, this is why many websites cater for different devices and screen sizes. A responsive website allows the owner of the website to serve the same content but to be displayed differently depending on your device. It’s a really cost effective way to reach as many people as possible, it’s very important not to alienate your visitors.

Stay up to date with the Latest Trends

With Pipe & Piper you can guarantee your business gets a head start by knowing your website is at the forefront of the digital age. Whether your in Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster or anywhere in the Yorkshire area we have happy clients all around the UK, so location is no problem for us!

Unfortunately there’s no magic SEO solution which just places your business at the top of Google. Many companies past and present have spent vast sums of money trying to achieve this and it’s just not realistic. There are hundreds and thousands of blogs and articles online that will give you the latest trick or hacks to cheat your way to the top, but ultimately they never work in the long run.

Google’s search algorhythm is so advanced and is constantly evolving, there’s no doubt it will punish your website eventually. However all is not lost, there are definitely things you can do to improve the chances of your business rising to the top of the rankings!

Google SEO tips for businesses

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation, this is the process of increasing the visibility of websites in search engine results. We will try organic SEO which means were just focussed on getting your website to the top of Google naturally without paying for advertising slots or a pay per click campaign.

Being a non-technical business owner what can I do?

Adding Quality Content

Content is KING, it really is that simple. If you have engaging content your site WILL get noticed. There is no substitute for adding original content. It’s like anything, the more effort you put in, the more rewards there will be. Websites that are regularly updated generally receive higher ratings by search engines.

Adding news or blog items is a great way to keep your site fresh. It’s worth noting that placing large amounts of information that has been copied from other websites will have a negative impact on your ranking score. So that’s why it’s so important to create original content.

Social Media

When you add new content to your site, shout about it! Tweet it, Facebook it, update your LinkedIn status. Try to reach as many different mediums as possible, because it’s all about getting maximum exposure. The more people seeing your content the more links will be created back to your website. This in-turn will increase your website’s PageRank (which is mentioned below)

PageRank

This is one of the most important factors of Google search’s ranking system. It effectively represents how respected your web page is (on a scale of 0-10, with 10 being the highest). The value is determined by the quality of relevant links pointing to your website.

So for example getting a business relating to plumbing linking that links through to an accountant website will not have a great impact, as this is not relevant at all! However if you got your site featured in a similar industry website as yours (especially busy ones) this would be extremely beneficial.

Remember there are over 200 other factors that determine search rankings so don’t just rely purely on PageRank.

To check your PageRank you can get a free browser add-on, there quick and easy to setup.

Chrome – PageRank Status
Firefox – PageRank
Internet Explorer – Google Toolbar

Link Text Descriptions

Search engines use the text of the link you click to help determine what’s inside the page your about to visit. So the more descriptive links you have the more chance the search engine will find it!

So consider the following examples below:

Bad –  “for more information about tax returns click here

Good – “Want to know more about tax returns?”

Click here doesn’t give the search engine any clue about what’s in the link without actually visiting it.

Webmaster Tools

Google offers a great free resource in Webmaster Tools. It’s an essential for any business owner. It allows you to easily inspect the health of your website. You will need to firstly verify ownership of your domain and then your away! Some of the main things to check are:

Broken Links – You should check your broken links weekly as these can crop up from time to time and will harm your sites ranking.

Sitemap – Add a sitemap to your website, you can do this by free with online sitemap generators, these help search engines crawl your website and let them know which sections of your website get updated more regularly. It’s basically like a big treasure map for search engines!

HTML Improvements – This might be something the website administrator has to deal with, however these are extremely important and need addressing because Google is basically giving you free advice on how to improve your website markup! Take notice!

There’s lots of goodies inside Google Webmaster Tools, check out there video below:

FREE business directories

Getting maximum exposure for your business is never a bad thing, these websites allow you to post all your key information about your business on already existing well ranked websites. Most importantly they allow you to post your website address which will link back to your website and get you much valued SEO points!

Start out by registering your business in FREE directories such as TownTalkYell.com & Thomson Local.

Tips for the more Technically orientated Business Owner

Clean URLs

What is a clean URL (uniform resource locater – or link to most people!)? A clean URL is a user-friendly link that is easily readable. This makes it much easier for people to remember. It also gives search engines more of a chance to find what content will be displayed on that page.

Bad www.example.co.uk/static/Browse/9849849/c_1/3354t343Garden%20List%20Limit-50/c_2/product_list_1203801283012.html

Good – www.example.co.uk/outside-and-garden 

Meta Tags

Keywords – Ignore them! In the past search engines used Meta Tags before they got abused by website owners by slipping non relevant keywords to help boost rankings. Google doesn’t now use any of the keywords in ranking web pages, spend this time on adding quality content as mentioned above.

One thing you can do is search for what keywords people type to get to your website with Google Keywords. This gives you an insight into what your users want. You can also check to see the popularity of searches relating to your website.

Description – These are important for displaying an introductory paragraph about the page in the search engine results list. These need to interest the user enough for them to visit your site, so they need to be relevant.

How does the Google search engine work?

The best way in which to climb the SEO ladder is to understand how search engine works. This video by Google gives some transparency to business owners and will hopefully explain how it all works.

Do I need to worry about other Search Engines?

YES! This article caters primarily for Google search, although other search engines benefit from using these best practices.

  • Bing Search
  • Yahoo Search
  • Ask Search
  • Dogpfile (Looks through all search engines)
  • AltaVista
  • Lycos

There’s been a long history of disgusting animations on websites since the early days of the web, things such as the <marquee> tag which allowed web developers to scroll text the page in a jagged fashion, also not forgetting the ever present animated GIF which allow for multiple pictures to appear in a slideshow like fashion.

This is some extremely annoying marquee text scrolling for your pleasure..

However now with ever increasing CSS3 support for modern browsers we can make the most of 2D & 3D animations. Even the old enemy is getting on-board with the new IE10 achieving some impressive  Acid Test scores abd also proving to be quite successful with the HTML5 support!

Adding animate.css

So.. with this in mind step in designer Dan Eden. His project animate.css allows developers to easily add a whole host of animations by simply adding CSS classes to any HTML element.

Here’s just a shortened list of what’s achievable.

  • Flippers
  • Fading entrances
  • Fading exits
  • Bouncing entrances
  • Bouncing exits
  • Rotating entrances
  • Rotating exits
  • Lightspeed

animatecss

Checkout this example

Click me for demo.

Other websites using Animate.css

Customer Service is Changing

We’re just in the process of putting the final touches on Georgeson McCarthy’s new website which is now online. If you need a chartered certified account in the Yorkshire area then we would certainly recommend Michael and Carolyn.

We are looking for community organisations or voluntary groups that would benefit from having a community based website or mobile app. The aim is to help promote the goals and objectives your organisation is trying to achieve via an online platform, as part of the digital inclusion initiative.

There is funding available that will pay for all or some of a website or mobile app (or upgrades if you already have a website).

If you are interested in this amazing opportunity, please contact us directly for further information.