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Your website – Is the online world passing you by?

Website trends and technologies fall out of fashion more quickly than the trends seen on the catwalks. Last year? It was all long scrolling pages and blocky layouts. Next year? It seems that white space, expressive typography and scroll animations are in, in, in. Now we should be clear here: we’re not about change for the sake of it or updates that ultimately place aesthetics above user experience. Our ethos is totally, wholly focused on user experience – and that’s about so much more than how your website simply looks. Here we dig into why it’s always a good idea to consider whether your website is delivering the goods, and what cold, hard data can help you answer this key question.

First of all: You do have a website, right?

3.5 billion Google searches are undertaken every, single, day – and 9 out of 10 consumers rely on the internet to locate and evaluate local goods and services, so it’s pretty incredible to think that 46% of small businesses STILL don’t have a website (you’re not amongst them, are you?!). If so you’re missing out on a business tool that creates critical credibility, and that could see you joining 83% of businesses that say “their online platforms gave them a competitive advantage over businesses without websites”.

Already have a website? Good start.

So, just what should you expect from a well performing website?

The short answer? Plenty. The long answer? These seven compelling advantages….

  1. The essential ability to be found, online
  2. The ability to expand, globally, as and when you wish on the turn of a dime.
  3. To inform, engage and convert your audience.
  4. To create trust and credibility
  5. To react, rapidly, to market changes
  6. The chance to resonate and connect with your audience
  7. To understand your target market in ways you previously thought impossible (we dive into this next)

Now for that invaluable website data we mentioned…

Knowing what your website should do, and whether or not it is indeed performing, are two different things entirely. To understand whether your website is more business asset, less online liability, you need data – lots of data. Here’s what you should be looking for with Google Analytics (or whatever your choice of website analytics software is).

Bounce rates

Visitors are said to ‘bounce’ when they arrive but leave very shortly after with little to no interaction having taken place. If your website has a high bounce rate, there could be a number of reasons behind it:

  • Irrelevant content based on what your visitors are searching for
  • Illogical content organisation – resulting in visitors that can’t discover the information they need
  • Poor optimization of landing pages
  • Lacklustre visual design/layout
  • Poor usability and clunky user experience
  • Long load times (by four seconds, you’ll have lost 25% of your visitors)

Suffering from chronic bounce rates, no matter the changes you make? Then it’s likely time for an update that can tackle all of the above issues in one foul swoop.

Visitor to conversion ratio

(Conversions/Sessions)*100 = Conversion Rate

That equation right there is how you calculate your visitor to conversion ratio. The figure that you arrive at should be measured every day, week, month. If your visitor numbers are sky high but your conversions (such as a contact or product sale) are low, then there’s a problem. A rule of thumb that some work to is a conversion rate of 2% to 3% – punching far below this? Then, you guessed it, it’s time to think about a redesign.

Engagement rates

You’ll never reach a point in time where every visitor converts – it just doesn’t happen. However, you do need to understand the way they are engaging whilst your visitors are online with you. Here are some fundamental questions that need answering month in, month out:

  • What are your users doing whilst on your website?
  • Are your visitors flowing through the website as you wish?
  • Are they arriving at critical conversion points – such as product pages or sales pages?

To get to the bottom of these questions consider:

  • The time spent on your website, and on specific pages – study the ones that show notably long/short visits – what’s the difference between these pages?
  • The exit points on your website – is there something wrong with these pages? What information is missing that visitors may be looking for?
  • The online places that your visitors arrive from – look at the search terms your visitors are using – do they chime with the content you’re presenting?

Ultimately if you reach a tipping point with metrics so poor that you’d be tweaking and editing your website design forever more, it’s time to consider calling in the professionals for an update.

The Sourcefour team are ALL about website redesign when the investment pays lucrative dividends. We don’t suggest changes that won’t pay off, we never overlook visitors for the sake of passing web fashion and fads. If you’re wondering whether the time has come for an update, we should probably have a chat.

portrait of a young amazed man
portrait of a young amazed man

Your new website: Cunning plan or wing it and wish?

So, your brand-new website – what’s the plan? No plan, fingers crossed and leave it to the web design agency? Or a firm foundation for a strategy that creates a solid online sales tool? Before we dig into our step by step for website planning, we should point out that this blog is for every type of client – from those who have literally zero knowledge of the technical stuff, to those who’ve served as whizz kid webmasters for decades. Wherever you fit, let’s get started…

First things first – What should your website actually do?

Clue: It should be more than a collection of supremely pretty pixels.

Today, it’s not enough that your website looks modern, beautiful or super slick. Simply being aesthetically pleasing will get you nowhere in this online world – at least not without a cold, hard strategy that runs underneath those exceptionally nice-looking pages. So, what should your website actually do? Here are some ideas…

  • Convert visitors into purchasing customers there and then
  • Create and strengthen brand awareness
  • Improve your search engine ranking month on month
  • Enhance usability
  • Create fans and brand ambassadors
  • Improve the length of the average website visit

The critical second step – How is your current website performing?

The answer to this question can be found by using a web analytics program (for which you have many options, although Google Analytics is by far the most feature-rich and popular amongst the freebie platforms).

Whatever platform you use, here is a list of the web data you should explore…

  • Number of site visits per month, broken down by new and returning visitors
  • Highest-performing web pages
  • Average bounce rate (users who click on and then away without the page fully loading)
  • Sales figures
  • Best ranking keywords/pages for those terms
  • Total inbound links
  • Average amount of time spent on site

Step three – Understand the challenges, capitalise on opportunities.

By diving into your website data, you gain a far deeper understanding of the current challenges and opportunities for your website re-design. Central to reproducing and protecting the successes you currently enjoy are these four key questions about your highest-performing web pages…

  • What makes this page’s content valuable?
  • What information is useful?
  • How is this page engaging visitors – are there things you can learn about the visuals, voice, content?
  • How can these be replicated throughout the site?

Pro tip: Protect your inbound links

You’ve spent weeks, months, years working on your search engine ranking. Don’t wipe away your hard work in a matter of a single re-design. Make sure your page urls remain the same – and stress the importance of this to any agency you work with.

Step four… Time to backtrack – Who is your audience, anyway?

Think you know your target visitor? Defining them with a persona can help ensure that your design, tone of voice, content and overall website direction resonates with them.

A persona includes things such as your ‘ideal’ consumer’s age, education, family status, location, income level, profession/industry and preferred marketing communication styles.

Not created a persona before? This freebie persona template from Hubspot will make this task super straight forward.

Step five… Last but certainly not least – Communication. It’s mission critical.

By now you should have a tight grip on the next steps for your new website, and be far better placed to work alongside a website design agency (rather than being totally led by them or, worse still, dictated to when you really have zero clue as to what they’re talking about).

But here’s the thing – communication is absolutely essential to any successful web agency/ business relationship – it’s critical for your budget, deadlines, and the overall outcome of the project. So share all that you’ve learnt from these steps – for a flourishing start to your collaborative efforts.

At Sourcefour, we see beyond the pixels. We appreciate websites as the tool of business they are. But that doesn’t mean we talk in techno riddles or geek jargon. Let’s make sense of every step, together – website design that delivers – conversions, new clients, commercial growth. Let’s talk.

 

Video – The good, the incredible and the how-to

Video… Any idea as to just how powerful this medium is? No? Then you’d better buckle up, you’re in for a surprise…

43% of people want to see more video content from marketers

Social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined

Having a video on a landing page makes it 53% more likely to show up on page 1 of the SERP

Video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80% or more

Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text

Good for consumer demand, excellent for shares, great for SEO, conversions and driving home your message. It’s clear – video is here, and it’s here to stay. If you’re yet to get to grips with a carefully crafted video marketing strategy, now’s the time (and here’s the three fundamentals you’ll need to know).

  1. It’s not about you. It’s about them (and their story, not overwhelming them with specs and features)

It’s a golden rule of marketing (but one that all too many businesses break)…

Video marketing is not about your product, it’s amazing specifications or your incredible new service. It’s about your target market and their problem (you know… the problem that you help them solve).

The focus of your video should be on the value you provide, and it should mostly remove you from the picture, to providing a ‘WIIFM’ – ‘What’s in it for me?’.

If it all needs a little explaining, adopt the problem-solution-how approach. Here’s a one-minute video that takes this approach broken down by timings…

  1. The problem– Talk about the pain your customers face (0:00-0:20)
  2. The solution– Discuss your product or service as the answer (0:20-0:25)
  3. How it works– Very quickly describe how it works (0:25-0:50)
  4. A call to action– Tell people them precisely what to do next (0:50-0:60)

Then, consider whether a tear-jerker could work – can you make it emotive? If so you could tap into your consumers’ needs and desires in ways your competitors are struggling to.

  1. Keep it super short and succinct

One fifth of your audience will click away within just 10 seconds – so get to the point by summarising what the next few minutes cover. In the simplest sense, you must answer the question “why should I watch this?”, and answer it well.

You should also be running to around 150 words per minute – this rate allows for enough time for those cogs to whirl as your message sinks in.

  1. And finally… Be inspired (or more realistically, pay the pros to be inspired for you)

Inspiration is everywhere – take this rundown of 5 Killer Examples Of Interactive Videos For Corporate Training; this list of 10 Most Creative And Compelling Video Ads Of All Time, or these 50 Delightfully Simple Ideas For Video Content Marketing.
While these can all provide some great inspiration, video creation is tough – not only the development of a concept, but also the technical aspects. Sure, there’s plenty of freebie and almost free software out there that can help in some instances (like Video Scribe, Wideo and Viewbix), but there’s nothing that can possibly replace professional expertise.

An all-in-one video service will mean that you benefit from a professional script writer, a pro voice over, and production values that you’re simply going to be unable to create on your lonesome.

Convinced about the power and persuasiveness of video? Maybe we should talk about it. We’re right here, ready when you are.

Pencil lying on an open diary with a sketch web design
Pencil lying on an open diary with a sketch web design

PHASE 2 – BISHOP GROSSETESTE UNIVERSITY (BGU) WEBSITE

SourceFour are delighted to have started work on phase 2 design of the new Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) website.

As we move forward with phase two of the process, the team will bring some exciting changes to the site including an improved user experience, the restructure of existing content, additional functionality, an improved navigation, user testing to further ensure the site continues to meet user requirements and further improvement of the site’s internal workflow.

WATCH THIS SPACE…

Landing pages are vital for business. Here’s why…

Leads… the chances are, you need more of them. But let’s face it, getting potential customers to take that vital first step is tough – demanding that you instil a certain level of trust, pique their interest and communicate the value of your offering and the difference it could make.

Landing pages are key to convincing that prospect to leave their details, and central to communicating all that you need to, in 60 seconds browsing time of less. If you’re yet to harness the power of landing pages, it’s time for a re-think. Here’s why (and how)…

Landing Pages – A Brief Overview

Landing pages should serve as a critical tool within your marketing arsenal, yet despite this all too many businesses are misguided about what landing pages are, and more importantly, what they are not. Let’s cut through the noise: landing pages are not simply any given page on your website to which you drive traffic. They are precisely focussed on bringing about a single action from the visitor – the filling of an enquiry form, the entering of an email, the downloading of a file. There must be no distractions, nothing other than elements that support the singular action of capturing visitor contact details via a form.

Key Question: “But my homepage/about page/product pages have contact forms – aren’t they landing pages?”

Your home page, or any other page on your website, may well have a contact form, however these pages each have additional purposes – your about page should tell your story, your homepage should guide your visitors to where they wish to be, your product pages are responsible for making the sale. None are designed exclusively for capturing contact details. That’s the difference. Ultimately landing pages are designed to feed potential leads into your sales funnel (you do have a sales funnel, don’t you? If not, you most certainly should).

Results – Just How Many Leads Should You Expect?

Marketing platform Hubspot achieves an incredible average conversion rate of 35.2% across their 650 landing pages – and whilst this brand is far from a yardstick for the typical business, the figures in the wider world provide for plenty of positive reading, with Wishpond finding that the average B2B landing page garners a conversion rate of 13.28%, while the typical rate for B2C is 9.87%.

That All Important Form – Here’s The Crux of the Matter

Your form provides a chance for your visitor to convert – and for the best chance of them doing so, you need to provide them with an incentive. This could be the promise of an enlightening white paper, a profit boosting eBook or a video series that addresses their pain point. This is an exchange – an ethical bride – they provide their information, you offer something of value. Your form must then capture the details that will allow you to market to them in the future – for the lowest barrier to entry, choose a singular field of an email.

Landing pages demand time, testing and continual tweaking if they’re to deliver upon their promises. Gain clarity on what your audience care about, and what a carefully crafted landing page could achieve for your business and your bottom line. Let’s talk about the possibilities – send us a message and we’ll be right back in touch.

SourceFour help launch new Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) website

SourceFour are delighted to have successfully undertaken the redesign, migration and launch of the new Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) website.

After successfully winning the tender in August 2016, the SourceFour Team headed by Robert Pritchard began the complex task of conceptualising a fresh and modern design that would reflect the University’s ethos as well as meeting the user’s needs, all while migrating over the content from their previous SharePoint site.

A carefully planned roll-out meant the live site would see as little change as possible while the two-phase migration process took place; this involved restructuring the content and carefully paying attention to the inner site navigation.

The move from SharePoint to WordPress was vital to future-proof BGU’s website due to Microsoft confirming the removal of SharePoint’s public website feature. A huge 1000 pages including image, file and content were migrated over in a seamless process.

Source Four tailored the design to create a responsive site that would suit the audience, including design features such as Eventbrite integration meaning students, potential students and parents can book easily onto events at the University.

Barry Clarkson, Head of IT and Systems Development at BGU commented;

“I am delighted with the new website.  SourceFour met the high level brief which we provided and also supplied some invaluable expertise and suggestions to ensure the project was successful. Help and support from SourceFour has been responsive and professional and I am looking forward to phase two”.

As SourceFour now move forward with phase two of the process, the team will bring some exciting changes to the site including the restructure of existing content, user testing to further ensure the site continues to meet user requirements and further improvement of the site’s internal workflow.

The new look website has been met with huge enthusiasm and has had a great response from students and staff alike.

Website available at www.bishopg.ac.uk

S4 donates website to local swim club

SourceFour are pleased to have completed the design, build and hosting of the Louth Dolphins Swimming Club website free of charge. Louth Dolphins Swimming Club is entirely self-sufficient and relies on the dedication of volunteers and funding from parents, via membership fees, in order to run. The club is ambitious and has aspirations to continue developing high level swimmers. Having a high standard of voluntary coaches and providing opportunities to their members is a key priority. Securing sponsorship deals and one off contributions, such as the design and development of their website are essential to ensure that they are able to continue building upon the club’s success.

You can visit the website at; https://www.louth-dolphins.org.uk/

SourceFour Help Create a Michelin Star Chefs’ Spectacular

SourceFour are proud to have designed and created the materials for the recent Michelin Star Chefs’ Spectacular at Yorkshire Coast College.

We designed and produced the luxurious tickets, posters, pull-up stands and souvenir menu’s which we uniquely printed on a special metallic copper paper.

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Three Michelin star chefs plus chefs from Michelin-star restaurants and one of the world’s most respected Master Sommeliers created a spectacular occasion at the Scarborough Spa.

Andrew Pern, James Mackenzie, Paul Welburn, Martel Smith and Anthony Gascoigne presented a feast to delight and internationally-renowned Master Sommelier Ronan Sayburn provided expert advice on the accompanying wines for each course.

All former students of Scarborough Technical College, these ‘Old Boys’prepared and cooked an exciting menu with support from local students and staff from Yorkshire Coast College (formally Scarborough Technical College) . The service was presented by Yorkshire Coast College students in partnership with students from Scarborough University Technical College and staff from the Scarborough Spa.

Read the Scarborough News story here

Read the FE Week News story here

How We Designed Sunderland College Apprenticeship Website

Truth be told design is everything. However, there is nothing more rewarding than design that is purposeful and delivers real tangible results. And that’s exactly what this article is all about: the process of designing and developing a website that makes a difference: Sunderland College apprenticeships. Sunderland College is one of the top performing colleges in the North East, with four campuses.

The Brief

The brief was to design an apprenticeship website for the Sunderland College with all the relevant information for the apprentices and employers.

The design

At SourceFour, the first process was to look at core target audiences for the apprenticeships: young people and potential employers in Sunderland. The website had to be effective in providing information but also attractive to both audiences. Young people who are looking for apprenticeships want a website that is simple to maneuver but also provides all the relevant content that they need in a seamless user interface. Similarly, employers are looking for a simple website where the content is easy to use. Due to their time constraints, they want to be able to access the information in real-time with ease.

The development

SourceFour developed the website with the idea that layout should be easy to use and clutter-free. The idea was to ensure that apprentices and employers are able to find all the relevant information within a short-time. The development team ensured that the website loaded very fast and in keeping with the brand guidelines of Sunderland College, the colour scheme is a reflection of the college and easily recognisable.

The Results

The result is a website that is beautifully designed and engaging both for apprentices and for business organisation. It is built with simple user interface so that visitors are not lost with complex pages or unnecessary content. So far the feedback has been positive as Ellen Thinnesen Sunderland College principal and chief executive said: “The launch of this site is a real step forward for the college, in terms of creating an engaging platform through which we can share with people and businesses the many benefits of apprenticeships.”

Design should be impactful and purposeful and we believe that the Sunderland College Apprenticeship website can attest to that. The college principal believes that the site will become a place where apprenticeships can find real opportunities to towards their careers and that’s satisfying to us.

To find out how we can use design to help you achieve your goals, please get in touch.

Creative design from Lincolnshire