Our ramblings about website design and other things

Category: General

Browser Wars

At Bluewave we always test our solutions with a range of browsers, we find that still most users use Internet Explorer with Firefox close behind but more and more users are using Chrome and of course all the Apple fans are using Safari.

It is interesting to see the latest figures:

StatCounter’s monthly statistics for September show IE in the lead with 41.66% of the market, followed by Firefox with 26.79%, Chrome with 23.61%, Safari with 5.6% and Opera with 1.72%.

It seems Chrome will soon be number 2 for market share and it will be interesting to see if google can overtake Microsoft in this area of the market, we are old enough to remember the Netscape/Microsoft war and we know who won there.

Read more on this over on Network News

To Social Network or Not?

A lot of smaller businesses ask us if they should appear on Social networks such as Facebook and Twittter and our answer is usually yes.

Small businesses tend to be comfortable  generating new business by word of mouth, referrals and other traditional marketing methods but less so by newer ways. The key to using Social networking is to make sure some resource is allocated to do this properly as if done incorrectly it can have a negative effect.

We generally recommend Social Networking is used to re-enforce your general marketing message but in a more informal way, the language used can be different and often the messages delivered can be different or from an alternative viewpoint.

One thing is for sure today business and personal lives are merging and crossing over with many users of devices such as smart phones and tablet PCs preferring to use one device for business and pleasure so people expect to see a range of information and messages. You must always remember with Social Networking your customers have taken the decision to follow you so they want to hear what you have to say so you are not trying to force information into their inbox or their post tray.

 

Logo Design

Recently we have been working with a few start ups who have no real brand identity and the first step is to produce a logo.

When we are designing logos we firstly take a brief from the customer if the logo is to be text or graphic based or a combination of both and any colour preferences. We then produce around 6 – 8 different designs and from these we ask the customer to select a particular logo or combination of logos or in the worst case we start again. Usually the customer focuses on several design elements and we refine from there until they are 100% happy.

Very often the logo will then become the customer’s corporate colours and we build their new website design around it.

A key element of the logo design process is that the customer feels they are a part of it and have not been ‘steered’ in a particular direction in that way the customer is proud of their logo and they feel that as they played a part in the design that it is really a part of their new business.

Contact ys if you would like help with your logo design – we can also rescue and refresh existing logos.

DNS Propagation

We often set up a new website or move your existing hosting to our hosting platform and then we tell you to wait while we get DNS propagation across the web so what does DNS propagation mean?

When we set up your new website we create a Master DNS record in our Domain Name Servers. We simply point to our DNS server as being the master authority of your domain.

When anybody wants to know how to find your website, they first go to the registration database to find out who the DNS authority is for your website. Then they visit our hosting provider’s DNS servers to find out what the IP Address is for your domain name, and from there your audience can now view your website.

This all sounds very straight forward however the problem with this whole set up is that in order to speed up the rate at which their customers can view the internet, each Internet Server Provider (ISP) caches (stores) their DNS records. This means that they make their own copy of the master records, and read from them locally instead of looking them up on the Internet each time someone wants view a website. This actually speeds up web surfing quite a bit, by speeding up the return time it takes for a web browser to request a domain lookup and get an answer, and in helping reduce the amount of traffic on the web hence giving it the ability to work faster.

The downside to this caching scenario and what makes it take so long for your website to be visible to everyone, is that each company or ISP that caches DNS records only updates them every few days. There is no standard for this time frame , and they can set this time anywhere from a few hours to several days. The slow updating of the servers cache is called propagation, since your websites DNS information is now being propagated across all DNS servers on the web. When this is finally complete, everyone can now visit your new website. Being that the cache time is different for all servers, as mentioned above, it can take anywhere from 12to 72 hours for DNS changes to be totally in effect. You also have the added effect that some users can see your hosting while others cannot until the propagation is complete.

So in summary you just have to be patient and let the DNS propogation happen.

Google Adwords Marketing

You have to admire Google and their marketing – Adwords sent out a Video to all Companies who have advertised with them and they managed to make each video seem unique to that business which is really clever.

Have a look at the Video for Bluewave Web Solutions:

Google Adwords Video for www.bluewaveweb.co.uk

We even had our name written on the Moon

Which Browser ?

Clients often ask us about which browser should they be using and which browser we optimise our sites for.

In terms of market share Microsoft still dominate with Internet Explorer having a market share of around 60%, second is Mozilla FireFox with a market share of around 23%, third is Google Chrome with around 8% (and growing) and fourth is Safari with 5% and behind that is Opera with around 2% and various other browsers with minor market share.

So generally we test all our sites with Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera but the real growth area is in mobile access. Most mobiles can happily view websites designed for PC access but it is possible to have browser detection for web pages optimised for mobile devices and this is becoming a regular request for us.

Many Website developers take the view that testing with Explorer and Firefox is more than enough and I guess covering around 83% of the market is the majority but in our view one of your customers may have a less popular browser and if your site looks ‘wrong’ then they will not put their hands in their pocket to buy from you.

Colours

When we are discussing a new website with our Clients one of the first decision areas is the colour scheme, often the decision is easy as the Client has an existing logo or corporate colours so we just fall in with that but for many the decision is a blank canvas and can be a difficult one to make.

We try to avoid too many colours as if you are not careful the website can appear garish and like a child’s colouring book, generally we recommend three main colours as this brings out a strong identity keeping the website message strong. Colurs should catch the eye but not distract from the content.

Twitter – the Unwritten Rules

To make Twitter work well for you there are certain unwritten rules you should follow, of course these are not compulsory but are sound advice iand as they say on those talent shows – in no particular order:

1, Post Regularly – If you can then post every day but follow the other rules carefuly to make sure you are not posting rubbish.

2, Be Helpful – If you can answer questions posed, this will help give you a good Twitter reputation.

3, Do not become a Sheep – Many people follow someone just because they follow you, in fact some people have it switched on automatically, make sure you want to follow someone before adding them to your list.

4, Retweets are good – If you see a good Tweet the Retweet it so you can share it with others.

5, Good Tweet information – Make your Tweets informatitive and share items you find interesting.
 
6, Say Thank you – if someone Retweets a Tweet of yours say thanks – in life it is good to be polite and the same goes on Twitter, people like polite people.
 
7, Comment – You will be part of a Twitter community based on your business or leisure interests so comment and be part of that community and do not just sit on the fence observing.
 
8, Be Personal – Give your Tweets a personal touch, unless you are a celebrity nobody will be interested what you had for breakfast but your personal views are interesting.
 
9, Post items other than Text – Twitter can be used to post links to videos, pictures etc.
 
10, Link to other items – It is good to have youur Twitter feed fed from other areas such as your Blog this allows Twitters to find out more about you aif they want to nd read longer posts than the 140 character limit .

Goodbye Googlemail Hello to Gmail

Followers of Gmail may remember when a few years ago Google stopped using the gmail address in the UK and started using googlemail instead, this was due to a trademark dispute between Google and British firm Independent International Investment Research dating from 2005.

It seems this dispute is now solved and all users of googlemail.com addresses will be given the option to change to gmail.com

We really like gmail and all the features it offers in fact we use gmail to collect our mail from our host of email addresses that we seem to accumulate over time – you can always contact us on bluewaveweb@gmail.com

Have a look at the tongue in cheek announcement over on the Gmail Blog here

Google Places

We have been talking a lot about Google Local Business – we promise to stop talking about it as Google have now renamed the service to Google Places 🙂

The service will run as before with a few enhancements planned:

Service Areas: allows you to identify the geographic areas that your business covers.
Enhanced Business Listings: certain US cities will be able make their listings stand out in the listings with Tags.
Free Business photo shoots: businesses from specified cities in the USA can request a free photo shoot of the interior of their business.
QR code: Businesses in the USA can download a QR code (similar to a Bar Code) that is unique to their business, which can then be included on marketing materials. Customers will then be taken to the businesses’ mobile site once scanned with a mobile device.
Favourite Places: As part of Google’s Favourite Places program, 50,000 window decals will be sent to businesses around the USA These will include a QR code that can be scanned and will direct users to the mobile Place Page for the business.

A lot of the above will initially apply to the US only but we will have to wait and see if the services will roll out for UK businesses, one thing for sure is this is a great free service.