The Demise of the Slider?

Ever since social media has embarked on it's global technological takeover, commercial websites have had to re-double their efforts to compete. Basic static informative layout is a thing of the past and more exciting and visually appealing websites were created with amongst other things, the introduction of sliders.

A slider (or carousel) is a set of large images placed at the top of the front page of the website. These then automatically interchange with one another after a set period of time to the next slide in the sequence. These seem like a great idea; you can incorporate different segments of info into one space and it adds a cool moving feature to your website. However, many observations and reports regarding website traffic and UX suggest that sliders may actually be having a negative effect on your website.

Slowing down the site: Although only one image is shown at a time, the website still has to load all the slides before the page is fully loaded. Remember that these are probably going to be the largest images in your website, all sat on top of each other with coding to make them interchange after a certain amount of time. This is a lot of information for your already busy website to process so naturally it is going to slow the site down, especially when it then has to be modified for mobile use as well.

Often ignored: Reports show that people visiting the website unconsciously ignore the sliders at the top of the homepage. Their brain automatically processes them as ‘adverts’ and tells you to ignore them. This is a concept known as ‘Banner Blindness’ which sounds bizarre, but completely true!

Right/ Wrong Info: When visitors come to a website it’s very rare that they are there to enjoy the view. They come looking for specific information to answer the query they have. Should they come to the page and see the first slider and it’s the information they are looking for, great! However, they can now only read it for ten seconds before it disappears. They’ll then have to click back or try to manually find the page that information is on. Guess what… we’re all lazy so that’s not going to happen! Oddly, this works exactly the same way if it’s the wrong information. The slides will always be there for too long, or not long enough.

Option Overload: IF people stay around long enough to see all the slides, they are greeted by a number of different options and locations of the website they can travel to

  • · Which one do they choose?
  • · What if they’ve forgotten what’s on the second slide?

There’s simply too many options loaded together in a short space of time.

Design Laziness: Ultimately, there will always be pro’s and con’s of any feature you use in your website and everyone will have a different opinion on it. From a designers point-of-view, they’ll always be stuck in the middle of different departments all wanting to get their message out and shout the loudest. The easiest route to appease them all of course is to have a slider where everyone can have a piece of the pie – but latest analysis is showing that this is a kop-out. Decent SEO will rank all their pages for proper keyword terms in any case so that’s one problem solved!

Think about your brand, think about the message, THE ONE SINGLE message that defines your brand and what you’re trying to say and use that, and nothing else.

Do away with your slider and it may ultimately contribute to the success of your website.

Full steam ahead

Back in 1996, a partnership called Rade Internet was formed. Jump forward 20 years and there’s just as much enthusiasm for building innovative IT solutions to help businesses do more, faster.

Here is just some of the work we have been proud to produce this year…

Our Think BioRisk app for AHDB was launched at the Pig & Poultry Fair. It’s designed to test your ability to identify biosecurity risks and features interactive videos demonstrating both good practice and common mistakes. 

Nick DimblebyWe created an eye-catching new website for Nick Dimbleby that showcases his photography on all screen sizes. Just as important, it’s easy for Nick to update the site with his latest work. We produced Nick’s first website in 2003 but we now display his work in a timeline stretching back to the 1990s.

Working with local design agency Spring, we launched a new web system for Suffolk Chamber, bringing together five local chamber areas under one roof. The website integrates with the Chamber’s back office system to manage bookings and member services through a password protected portal.

Now in its ninth year, we have added further functionality to the AHDB Dairy Breeding+ website. Created to provide an online genetics resource for the dairy industry, updates include with a wizard-style took to find the best matched bulls to a farmer’s herd.

OPICO - Sky AgricultureRade have also built a group of websites for OPICO and their brands of agricultural machinery. The platform allows all the sites to be managed through a single admin area, with functionality such as the dealer finder and download centre shared across the sites.

Telling the Blythburgh story, about the people, the pigs and the butchers, we’ve recently launched a new website. As well as a mobile-friendly facelift, the new site makes it easier for visitors to find stockists and restaurants where Blythburgh Free Range Pork is on the menu.

We’re working with a growing number of companies on their online marketing. We use a broad approach that covers on-site search optimisation and off-site brand awareness activities, creating a package that best suits the client in terms of time and budget.

Meanwhile our IT team have been out and about working in some interesting places and for some great Suffolk events – the Suffolk Show, the Henham Steam Rally and BBC Springwatch at Minsmere. Our wireless broadband network continues to expand and now stretches 20 miles inland from our original coastal range.

We have some exciting new projects lined up for January, including the launch of a 5-website project for a client we have been working with since way back in 1996.

We look forward to working with you in 2017 and wish you a happy and prosperous new year.

Suffolk Chamber website


Our primary goal when creating the new website for the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce was to improve usability to benefit both the Chamber team and their members. We have built a content managed website that is easy to use, infinitely scalable and integrates with the Chamber’s existing back office system.

We worked closely with Spring, the Southwold design agency, who provided branding and design for the project.

“We wanted our new look to better reflect the success story that we have become over recent years and to allow businesses to easily access the wide range of services we now offer, as well as the opportunity for our members to use our interactive area to promote their own news, events and special offers,” explains Amanda Ankin, Head of Chamber Services.

The powerful new site brings together five local chambers under one roof, while allowing them to maintain their own identity. It also delivers a range of online services, via a password-protected portal.

“Rade, through their professionalism and diligence, helped ensure that the website met and exceeded our objectives” Amanda continues. “It was a pleasure working with the Rade team and we especially appreciated their thoroughness, problem-solving abilities and all-round high levels of customer service.”

Find out more by reading our case study and visiting the Suffolk Chamber website.

Let us find a solution to your web problems by giving us a call on 01502 478000 

Ready for 2016

As we head towards our 20th anniversary, Rade’s web and IT teams have been working on a number of exciting projects, some to be launched in the coming months. Here’s our pick of the highlights of 2015.

Smorgasbord
There has been a huge variety in 2015’s web projects. From website facelifts to improve the way that services are showcased and news is shared to a complex all-in-one web and order fulfilment system. New sites have designed to better demonstrate capabilities and the scope of international work. We’ve brushed up on our Chinese and added another five pubs to our website system for Adnams.

Spineless Si
Once more, we were asked to help install a 100Mb internet connection for BBC’s Spring Watch extravaganza; once again hosted at RSPB Minsmere. We were happy to make sure everyone could keep up with the antics of Spineless Si. We have also installed a new wifi network at Trinity Park, offering better communications for the Suffolk Show and business exhibitions throughout the year.

Front page news
We made the front cover of Farmers Weekly – Beef and Lamb Lite, with its latest market prices, and the Practical Pig training tool in animal husbandry were 2 of the 11 ‘Must-Have Apps for Livestock Farmers’ featured. New apps we are working on include tools for Biosecurity training and pest identification and reporting.

Rural Broadband
Therese Coffey MP visited to see first-hand how we are helping connect the ‘last 5%’ to superfast broadband. Amongst the customers benefiting from our wireless broadband services are holiday parks, shops, a school, farms, small businesses and hotels. We are also connecting businesses on industrial estates in Leiston and Lowestoft.

Green Award
Receiving praise for our community engagement and progress in reducing our carbon emissions, we were awarded the Suffolk Carbon Charter. Suffolk is aiming to create the Greenest County and we’re pleased to be playing our part. We’ve also upgraded several of our IT clients’ servers to modern, eco-friendly systems that offer more power and greater efficiency.

Holiday Wifi
With the majority of Brits ranking good wifi as a holiday essential, we have been busy upgrading the wifi capabilities of hotels, campsites and holiday parks. From simple repairs to installing entire computer networks, our IT team is helping a growing number of people to improve their communications, streamline their work and make it more secure.

Coming up soon
We have new websites in production which couldn’t be more different if we tried! At the heart of them all is our desire to deliver a long term solution that gives your business the very best platform for your online marketing.

  • An understanding of your audience
  • Great design and innovative functionality
  • Thorough testing and secure hosting
  • Friendly, on-going support

Thank you for helping make 2015 a success, we look forward to working with you next year.

Design key to new website

WRENmediaWRENmedia’s new website, designed and built by Rade Digital, emphasises their skills as global communications specialists. For over 20 years, WRENmedia have been in the business of making science accessible to audiences around the world.

Strong imagery forms an important part of the new design, making the site visually engaging and helping to highlight the range of activities WRENmedia undertake: transforming heavy reports into digestible documents plus providing advice and training on communication and PR strategies to build bridges between scientists and journalists.

The new website showcases how WRENmedia help to convey the value of their clients’ work to donors, policymakers and farmers. It is vitally important work, supporting the development of integrated, sustainable solutions to problems such as hunger, poverty, malnutrition and deforestation.

Easy to update and mobile-friendly, news and case studies can be added to the website whenever needed; social media integration ensures the latest tweets are posted on the site. Built on the Umbraco content management system, the new website makes sure key messages are quickly and clearly communicated.

"All of us at WRENmedia are delighted with the new website, which is clear, easy-to-use and looks great. We have received lots of compliments from our clients already” says Jessica Summer, editor and designer. “A big thanks to Steve and Charles for all their support throughout the process - we felt that they understood what we wanted from the finished site. Also, no question or query was too small when we were figuring out how to use it!"

To learn more about Rade’s responsive, content managed websites and how they can help your business make an impact, speak to Charles Robinson on 01502 478000.

To App or not

App or mobilePeople are interacting all the time, using mobile devices to do just about anything and everything - keeping stats of their lifestyle, keeping up with the news, keeping up with their friends, organising their social life, buying, selling. The list is endless. We benefit from ‘click to call’ features, maps which use GPS to give us instant directions, share functionality so we can spread the word quickly… and now people are even interacting through watches!

Mobile is growing at an alarming rate - right about now PCs are starting to get the ‘cut down’ version of the site which historically belonged in the mobile arena.

You can’t afford not to be mobile these days, so you take the plunge and make the big decision to ‘go mobile’...  Great stuff! Thing is, it’s quite an operation whatever you do, so surely it would be good to get it right!

 

How do they work?

Mobile websites:

  • load pages in a browser in the same way as your big desktop computer
  • need to be accessed over an active internet connection, wi-fi, 4G, 3G ‘all the time’
  • can show you the absolute latest data/content, refreshed on demand

Apps:

  • are downloaded onto your tablet/phone and can operate without requiring an internet connection
  • may need internet access to update information but have the option of retaining the data for use at a later time when, maybe, you don’t have a connection

Which is better?

 Mobile website pros

 Mobile website cons

 Immediate content delivery*

 Constantly requires an internet connection

 Broader device accessibility

 User has to ‘work’ to find your page

 Cost-effective (as an extension of an existing site)

 Hard to personalise the experience

 Cross-platform

 

 ‘Easily’ found through a search engine

 

 Frequent update friendly

 

 

 App pros

 App cons

 Can be used anywhere

 Different requirements for each platform (Android / iOS / Blackberry etc)

 No constant internet connection required

 Higher initial investment

 You get a piece of real estate on the users device

 Code upgrades have to be published via the relevant store

 Once installed, the user has single tap entry

 Code has to be passed as ‘fit for function’ by the relevant store – this can take time

 Better customer engagement

 

 Send geo-targeted or time related push notifications

 

 Make better use of phone functionality -camera, GPS

 

 Readily and easily personalise the experience

 

*Some of our apps are on content managed systems. This ensures that the customer can update content readily.

But here’s the thing; you don’t really have to choose. It’s not an A or B or A vs B conundrum any more. Without doubt, smaller businesses have completely different needs to larger ones so it’s down to what suits you and the budget you’ve allowed.

Sites and apps are capable of different things so let’s play them to their strengths…

In summary

Use both if you can:
1. If you want to be found, make sure that your site is mobile-friendly. Chances are that people are looking (not necessarily for you!) using a mobile device.

2. Once you’ve interacted with them, don’t let them simply wander off into the abyss. Offer your visitors a way of staying in touch, becoming friends and personalising their experience through an app. After all, it resides on their device, they don’t have to come looking for you and you can get in touch with them at any point – sounds good doesn’t it?

Posted by Steve Rooke

Front cover of Farmers Weekly

Appy-Hour at Rade! We are delighted that the Farmers Weekly has featured two of our apps in their list of 11 Must-Have Apps for Livestock Farmers. It was great to see the Beef and Lamb Lite [iOS] [Android] app featured on the front cover.

Furthermore, for both apps the user reviews are really positive. One farmer says he now uses AHDB’s Beef & Lamb Lite 80% of the time for checking market data and local trade. The app also gives him fast-track access to the Better Returns Programme guides, no matter where he is on the farm.

Another farmer is finding AHDB Pork’s Practical Pig app [iOS] [Android] useful for training staff. He says it’s easy to operate and a useful way for staff to learn basic information as part of his farm induction programme.

Speak to Charles to find out what Rade can do for you.

With more farming apps are in production, we’re looking forward to more front page exposure! 

WordPress vs Umbraco - which should you be using?

We come across this debate virtually daily and thought it was high time that we made a comparison.

There isn’t a simple answer over which is better, both offer very adequate solutions.
The question is, to what?

WordPress is a free blogging system which is very well supported by developers all over the world. This can be pushed into being used as a content management system. Depending on your hosting company, you may have the option of a one-click install. It’s very easy to create a simple free site. There are free designs (themes) sitting on the web waiting for you to download – a lot now are even mobile friendly. The functionality is almost limitless due to the number of plug-ins that you can install (a whole bunch of them being free), and bingo, you’re up and running.

…And did I mention that a lot of this is free?

If you’re not very careful though, all this ‘FREEness’ can come at a cost…

Umbraco is a Content Management System which is very well supported by developers all over the world. Chances are, you’ll need a web developer to install this on a server for you. The themes sitting (free) on the web are fairly limited so you’ll need someone to design it for you. The functionality is almost limitless provided you have a decent .NET/MVC developer to build stuff for you, but it’s quick and clean and easy and best of all, very secure… and bingo, you’re up and running.

…And did I mention that a lot of this is NOT free?

So why would anyone favour building a site on Umbraco?

With so many sites utilising the WordPress blogging system as a CMS now, it becomes a very easy target for hackers. Why? Because probably the vast majority of people using the systems, are building small sites for small businesses and are not web developers – (and after all, that’s one of its [free] selling points) – you don’t need to be a code wizard and better, you don’t need to learn… which potentially leaves you wide open… The worst thing? Chances are you won’t even know!

WordPress, to their credit, are very hot on this and release security updates probably every 2 weeks or so (that’s how big the threat is!). You can set your site to auto-update with the latest version, that’s easy, but this then brings an issue of its own.

Remember all those free plug-ins you used to make contact forms, and keep track of your visitor numbers, and create pricing tables, and improve your SEO, and to send all your subscribers to MailChimp, and optimise images, and create a sitemap, and create a photo gallery, and create an events calendar… (you get the idea…)? Not only is every single one of these slowing your site down, all of these have to be compatible with the latest version of WordPress otherwise they will break. Chances are, if it’s developed by a reputable company, the plugin fix will be swift (swift can sometimes mean a week or two).

Umbraco on the other hand is built AS a content management system. Let me just pause there for a moment…

Yup… I said a content management system.

Yes, there are some plug-ins, they generally cost ££ but with your ‘half-decent .NET developer’, building functionality is a breeze – the system is entirely extendable and can be made to do pretty much anything you want.

And yes, you’ll need a site designed, but then it’s exclusively yours – not one you’re going to see over and over again because guess what, you’re not the only person to have taken advantage of the FREE theme.

Big… and I mean BIG companies are running their sites on Umbraco - Heinz, Microsoft, multiple financial institutions, IT companies, even the official .NET site and a property group running 47 high street brands from one installation!

The comparative cost of setting up an Umbraco site is nowhere near what you might think it is. It’s a perfectly good system for smaller companies - if the big companies are using something, you might just want to take their lead!

So who is the winner?

Remember the first paragraph? What exactly do you want to do?

Invariably, we don’t ever build a standalone blog so where we are asked to use an open source system, Umbraco will always be our cms of choice.

Let me make it even easier.
If you had £100k, would you buy a Ferrari or a Tractor?
What exactly do you want to do?
Do you want to do the Cannonball Run or plough a field?

Each has its own merits, just don’t try to pull a plough with a Ferrari…

Posted by Steve Rooke

Good luck to finalists

Rade sends the best of luck to the finalists in this year’s EADT Business Awards. This time last year, Jake and Charles were dressed in their finest as they went on stage to receive our award in the Business Broadband category.

Rade - EADT Business Awards winnerThe award recognised the success of our innovative Practical Pig App training tool. The app makes better use of broadband by downloading video clips to a tablet or mobile whilst in range of a good signal which can then be watched and discussed with stockmen out on the farm.

Similarly, Beef & Lamb Lite allows farmers to create a personal library of technical information which they can access when internet coverage is patchy. They can also stay in touch with the latest market prices with statistics fed from 140+ auction marts. One reviewer said “It’s fantastic for reference or training”.

Fram Farmers Mobile is another light-weight app which we launched last year. We designed it to function with just GPRS so members can place their orders while away from the office.

Rade is working with AHDB Horticulture to build a digital version of their Crop Walkers Guides which will help agronomists and farmers identify pests, disease and deficiencies. A reporting tool allows incidents to be reported with both photograph and geo-tag location.

Now we are starting work on a Biosecurity hazard perception tool. Filming is underway for the interactive video which will test students, stockmen, managers and visitors on their knowledge of biosecurity.

All in all, it's been a busy year proving that all businesses can benefit from the flexibility and efficiency of digital tools, even those still out of reach of superfast broadband.

BPEX Biosecurity App

Following on the success of the award winning Practical Pig app developed for BPEX, Rade has been selected to design and develop a second app and supporting website.

Blythburgh pigletThe aim of the app is to alert stockmen and visitors to pig units of the potential hazards of poor biosecurity. Using interactive video and multiple choice questions, the user will be able to watch and learn how to avoid spreading disease.

Why is this important? Two diseases, PEDv and Salmonella, have started to make an appearance across eastern Europe, the USA and Canada and they have the potential to cause pig farmers huge issues with the health of their herd. The app will be at the vanguard of some very serious measures to be taken within the industry by using education on prevention.

So actually, Rade is helping to protect the national pig herd from some devastating diseases and ensuring the continuation of a decent bacon sandwich.

Filming starts soon and the app is scheduled for launch in the autumn.

If you have an idea for an app and you’d like to speak to us about it, give Charles a call on 01502 478000 or email crobinson@rade.net