It's time to go mobile

For the first time, mobile online shopping has overtaken desktop. Figures for April to June 14 show 52% of traffic to retail websites came from smartphones and tablets.

The IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking Report also reveals that 36% of online sales are now made via a mobile device. Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: “Considering that as recently as 2010 mobile visits to e-retail sites accounted for less than 3% of traffic, this latest milestone represents staggering growth of 2,000% over the past 4 years.”

So what is the best way to cater for your mobile visitors? We recommend using mobile-friendly, responsive design. The layout adapts to the visitor’s screen size, ensuring they see your site as you want them to, whatever the device. Plus, unlike having a separate mobile website, you only have one site to maintain.

5 things to consider when planning a responsive website:

* Adapt the navigation for touchscreen users - easy to select buttons and links.

* Identify the essential content – what information is most important to your mobile visitors?

* Make your message clear - rethink your text.

* Simplify the layout and functionality; turn off features which won’t be used on a smartphone.

* Reduce images – make your site faster to load and free up screen space.

Responsive design helps you to future-proof your website by allowing it to transform from one screen size to another. You want your site to look good on any platform, whether a desktop PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone, and you don’t want any visitors to miss vital information.

Having a mobile-friendly website is becoming an essential part of any business and you’ll be amazed at what is achievable on a small screen.

Is your website working hard enough?

Rather like an employee review, pose these questions to assess your website's potential as part of a winning team:

Does your website communicate clearly?
Visitors need to find key information without too much searching. Consider design, layout and content to make proper use of your online presence; not forgetting your mobile visitors. Make contact details and CTA (call to action) buttons prominent, to help convert your visitors into leads.

Is your website working efficiently?
Visitors won't hang around if your site takes a long time to load. Making adjustments to the coding, images, layout and the running order of scripts can make your website work far more efficiently. Also, make sure you are investing in professional web hosting to support such an important part of your business.

Is your website customer focused?
Reviewing your website traffic and visitors' behaviour patterns will give you vital clues to how well your website is performing; what's proving most effective and what needs attention. Analytics tools can help gauge the success of a promotion, monitor which pages are most popular and which areas are being overlooked.

Do you need to expand your website's skills?
Keep an eye on your competitors and try to keep one step ahead by introducing new features that increase interaction with your website visitors. This could be by using video clips to demonstrate a product, adding event booking to save you admin time or including an area for secure document access, whether by clients or sales teams.

Does your website comply with the law? 
The Disability Discrimination Act made sure websites were accessible to all. Since then, accessibility has become a fundamental of website design, improving user experience for everyone. The EU e-Privacy Directive is one of a list of legal requirements for your website and email database. Make sure you comply with the law.

You may already update your website by posting news, offers and tweaking pages, but there is good reason to include a broader appraisal. For a little time invested, your website can make an even bigger contribution to your business.

New .uk Domain Names

Last month saw the launch of .uk, a new choice of domain in addition to .co.uk (and .org.uk, .ltd.uk and .me.uk). While it releases many more domain names onto the market, they are not all immediately available.

Someone else already owns your favoured .co.uk or .org.uk? It’s going to be a long wait to find out if you can register your top pick.

Own the .co.uk and interested in buying the .uk domain? If so, the .uk version is reserved for you until June 2019. If you haven’t registered the .uk by then, though, it will be open to everyone to buy and start using.

A word of advice, reserved registrations must match the original domain, so you first need to check the contact details on your Nominet record.

In the months ahead we will see how popular .uk becomes. Many organisations will register to protect their brand but will they start using .uk day to day?

Like .co.uk, the new domain is reasonably priced to register for up to 10 years at a time. Give Tish a call on 01502 478000 if you want to discuss or follow this up.

Rade Digital Award Winners

At last night's EADT Business Awards, RadeDigital were announced as winners in the Business Broadband category.

This category is for initiatives which make use of better broadband to support business improvement.

The award recognises the success of the innovative Practical Pig App training tool which we designed for BPEX. The App allows pig unit supervisors to download video clips to a tablet or mobile device whilst in range of a broadband connection which they can watch and discuss with their stockmen in the working environment without the need for an Internet connection.

Rade Digital Business Awards finalists

RadeDigital is celebrating being selected as finalists in the EADT Business Awards.

We have been shortlisted in the Business Broadband category for the Practical Pig training app we created for BPEX. We designed the app to utilise faster broadband connections within the office to download video clips which farmers can use as a training tool out in the field; the ability to work offline when broadband is not available. The judges said: “response from farmers and the industry has been very positive.”

“I’m delighted that our talented team has been recognised by these awards” said Jake Barton, Rade's MD, “The award highlights the importance of access to better broadband to help businesses to grow and do business together. Here at Rade, we have spent the past 18 years helping people benefit from web technology; building websites to support their growth and IT systems to facilitate better communications.”

Market prices at your fingertips

Beef and lamb producers now have access to latest market prices on their mobile or tablet. The EBLEX Mobile app brings together data gathered from markets throughout the UK so you can compare prices from your nearest auctions or choose favourite markets for quick access to results.

RadeDigital built the app by engineering multiple data imports into reports, comparison charts and graphs to display both on the EBLEX website and the new app. We embedded the new Market reports in EBLEX’s existing website and worked with the Market Intelligence team who provide statistics from 141 livestock markets taking place each week.

Visit Apple’s App Store or Google Play and search for EBLEX.  

More info: EBLEX Market Prices at your fingertips

Practical Pig app on Farming Today

Following this week’s Pig and Poultry Fair, BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today ran a feature on the innovative BPEX Practical Pig app.

Practical Pig promotes best practice pig production. The app was developed by RadeDigital and works on smartphone and tablet or download the videos on a PC or laptop from practicalpig.bpex.org.uk the fully content managed website which allows BPEX to manage the addition of new video content themselves. 

Pensions Policy Institute migrate to ESM Content Management


We have successfully migrated the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) to our Enterprise Site Manager (ESM) content management platform.

The PPI is an educational charity which provides non-political, independent comment and analysis on public policy on pensions and the provision of retirement income in the UK. They publish regular research reports, briefing notes and hold policy seminars on a wide range of topics.

Rade developed their original site way back in 2002 when the PPI was formed. This was developed on our previous MediaStream platform and has been developed over the years with a site refresh in 2006.

ESM brings the key advantage of being able to edit site content from the front end of the website by using "in-context" editing (right clicking on content and editing it!). 

A case study will follow shortly.

Hubble & Co launch Ecommerce site


Rade has launched a Magento based Ecommerce system for fastener specialist Hubble & Co.

Formed in 1989, Hubble and Co operate from their sites in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft and carry a huge stock of nuts, bolts, washers, wood and coach screws plus a great series of pins and rivets, brackets and even plastic expansion plugs and washers.

Understanding the nature of the products, such as nuts and bolts, was key to the project as the site need to be easy to use whilst guiding the end user quickly to the exact specification of product they are looking for.

The Magento Commerce based website allows users to drill down through product ranges by any number of attributes (price, pack quantity, thread size, thread length, grade, din, material amongst many others) using a parametric search.

To find out more about the project see our case study or visit the site at www.hubble.co.uk

Progression of web development

Progression of web development: Frontend architecture and user experience (UX)

As the years go by and technology improves we see many changes within the web development industry, from responsive techniques and animations, through to better user experience (UX) and user interaction.

Most recently, people will have heard the term ‘responsive web design’ or ‘adaptive web design’ where we’re seeing innovative techniques being used. This includes the recent introduction of CSS regions which looks like it will be an interesting addition to a developers toolkit.

Responsive design is a fabulous way to improve your user’s experience. It allows you to deliver your information to people in a custom manner based on the device being used, screen size and even which way up they’re holding it. Aside from making the site far more efficient, the developer can now ensure that the site is seen in exactly the way it’s intended. The fact that’s it’s now so commonplace reinforces the fact that it’s now an essential tool rather than a ‘trend’. After all, who doesn’t want to increase their conversion rate and/or sales?

Responsive isn’t the only technique we’ve been introduced to recently though, of course. Clever use of CSS3, HTML5, and sometimes JavaScript, or other JS libraries, opens many doors for us to experiment with user interaction and animation. Providing more interaction not only gives users a better experience but it also gives them something to talk about, blog about and share.

Is it all good?

There’s a very fine line between a good user experience and a bad one. Having access to the powerful techniques that can be deployed using HTML5 and CSS3 isn’t always good and it’s very easy to over-do it with animations. It’s best to keep them subtle and smart, to gently improve the user interaction rather than show your entire arsenal of special effects all on one page. So ask yourself whether it’s totally necessary and ensure that it will have a positive impact on your website.

There’s also a behaviour that we quite often see in conjunction with responsive development; that of forcing users to navigate differently because they’re on a particular device. This needs to be made simple and intuitive. Forcing people to use certain devices or orientations isn’t friendly and can have quite a negative effect when people don’t want to ‘think’, they simply want to access the information they’re after. Clearly there’s occasions where forcing a user to turn their iPad on it’s side is totally unavoidable but like the old familiar “This website has been designed for a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels” message, you won’t win any friends by doing it!

“Everything in moderation…”

Remember this phrase?

Never has it been more applicable than now. With flat design, designers have finally moved away from using ‘every effects filter possible’ in Photoshop and it’s now the developers turn to show restraint. We’ve been introduced to many more new techniques in recent years; Parallax scrolling, SVG graphics, icon fonts that are infinitely scalable, the use of fixed header bars and infinitely scrolling pages. All good stuff but let’s start to set the trend right here;use restraint– we can save allthese topics for another day.