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Let me firstly start off by saying that apps are fantastic when done correctly. They can be a really useful tool and can help to seriously grow a brand and engage with your audience.

Apps are integral to our modern lives and we use our handy smartphone apps to help us navigate through our ever busier and complicated lives. So when a company gets it bang on with their app, it can produce some truly fantastic results.

But this is where a lot of businesses fall down the rabbit hole because apps are so important for their audience they think that they automatically need to build one for themselves. This trigger-happy app mentality sees a lot of companies failing to think through their strategy before chucking tens of thousands into an app that is hardly used and not performing to its optimum.

You just need to scroll through Google Play or the App Store to see the trend as clear as day. Thousands of hardly downloaded apps sit pretty and wait to be used, like the wallflowers at the smartphone school dance waiting for a suiter to take a chance and download them.

Game of life

But even when your app finally gets downloaded, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the user is going to stay active. We live in fickle digital times where app loyalty is a hard thing to earn, and so as soon as the download takes place it’s pretty much a fight to the death to keep the user engaged and using the app on a regular basis.

Think about it this way – how many apps do you use in a month? Before you say loads, think about which ones you use and when. I would hazard a guess that you use more than one app every day but that they are often the same ones.

Take my own beloved app usage as a litmus test, I would say I use 5-8 apps on a monthly basis, which include:

Daily:

  • Google Maps
  • WhatsApp
  • Fb messenger
  • RBS online banking
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Slack

Occasional:

  • The Trainline
  • WeTransfer
  • Bitly
  • Eventbrite
  • Meetup
Just to put that into context, I sometimes use (i.e. once or twice a month) some of the biggest apps out there, because they are only useful to me on occasion. I don’t even have many niche, start-up apps on my phone, only well-known apps that serve a purpose.

People download an average of 1-3 apps per month and use an average 0.5 of those apps once downloaded. Why? Because the market is so competitive and there are already some fantastic apps out there. Customers are basically spoilt for choice and only engage with apps that make their lives better in an immediate and tangible way.

This might seem kind of gloomy, but when you build your own app you are basically hedging your bets on very low engagement stats from your audience which any bookie worth their salt would tell you is a high-risk investment.

If you’re going to invest in building an app then you better be sure that it’s going to be the best thing since sliced bread. And what I mean by that is great user experience and that your app is truly useful for the person who is going to download it.

Building an app is the equivalent of choosing to play a game of Russian roulette and thinking that you have a good chance of not dying. Sometimes it’s best to not take a gamble, especially when the risk is unnecessary and there are other options available to you.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-app, they are my favourite digital obsession. But they are also complex beasts and need have a great idea behind them that has undergone solid researching and strategic thinking – and that’s without any snazzy branding and slick back-end coding.

Question time

So if you’re starting to think that you need an app for my customers to use, the first thing you should actually be asking yourself is – do I really need it?

If your mobile-enabled website can perform the same function as your prospective app, you could be saving yourself a wad full of cash by ditching your app idea. For example, you want to create an app so that people can access personal or confidential information and you also want to put some interesting marketing tools or industry-related articles on their too. If you create a member’s portal on your website that is only accessible with a password, it can perform this very function at a fraction of the price and will be accessible on multiple devices, not just a smartphone.

And before you steam ahead and contact an agency, you need to tick three boxes for your app idea –

  1. It serves a specific purpose that your website can’t fulfil
  2. The app is useful for your intended audience
  3. It’s interactive (i.e. has tools, functions, games, videos etc.)

If your app doesn’t tick all 3 then throw your app idea in the digital bin and get cracking on improving your website usability.

Another great tip is to actually ask your audience. If you are going to be spending upwards of 20 thousand on an app, it’s well worth the time to ask your customers what they would like to see from the app you are building. Not only will it help you to build an app that is completely tailored around your potential users, it will also help you to raise awareness of your app before you’ve even built it.

Top of the Pops

There are only a handful of apps that actually hit the nail on the head by achieving great engagement and building a true membership base, the rest float around on Google Play and have the engagement levels of a digital graveyard. So before you invest, really think about if the app will do what is says on the tin and if your audience will care enough to use it.

And if after this article you are still 100% adamant that you should build an app for your business, then I would say throw caution to the wind and build that app. Who knows, it might make our lives easier and more hassle-free in the process.

 

Psst! Did you know that us Bamboo wizards can create pretty nifty mobile-enabled portal pages on your website? Before building that app, have a chat with us about what magic coding formulas with can sprinkle over your website.


Photo by Saulo Mohana on Unsplash

So you’ve set up shop and you are doing well for yourself, you’ve got a steady stream of loyal customers who refer you to anyone within hearing distance, for now you’re sitting pretty.

But you’re a business person and you know it isn’t good to rest on your laurels and rely on plan A without having a B and C thoroughly worked out. You know that the next inevitable step to keep the cash a-flowing is doing a bit of marketing and so it’s high time to get on the online branding train and start raising your ‘online presence’, which means creating or improving your company website.

Internally though you’re rolling your eyes, you’ve got this creeping suspicion that it might actually not be worth the investment, especially if you’re doing well without it, right?

Trust me

First things first, websites aren’t just a money-making machine (although all websites should perform this function to some extent). If you get most of your clients through referral then your website’s primary goal is to confirm what your referee is saying about you. Kind of like an online backup, a trust-o-meter.

People generally like to fact check and have third-party assurance, and one way they do that is to Google you. If for example your referee has told your potential customer that you have a shed load of experience designing bespoke metalwork for bars in the city centre. So they do a little search on you and find a gaggle of case studies on your site which talk about those very projects, which backs up the claim and makes you look like a specialised expert. Or say you’re a jack-of-all-trades and have press releases, case studies and testimonials showing exactly that, then the customer will find it and think Aha, just as I was told!

Your website is part of your customer service and using it to forge a positive customer experience acts as the first building block for a trusting business relationship. And that first brick happens before they even getting get in touch with you because your website is basically carrying out the first customer service step by just floating about on the internet.

Are you alright?

And in this digitally switched-on world most people will check you out online. And when they do, they’ll use it to form part of their opinion on your company by looking for your website, social channels and third-party review sites.  If you have no online trace, they will start thinking one of two things –

  1. There is something wrong with you
  2. You aren’t moving with the times

The particularly judgemental people among us, will probably think both. And if you are lucky enough to have clients that don’t care if you have a website or not, who just want to see honest work done properly, then fantastic. But times are a-changing, so the next bout of clients from the infamous millennial pool or generation Z will care.

Think of it this way – every person who looks you up and doesn’t find you is a missed opportunity. A website could’ve either helped the potential customer identify who you are in the market or decide whether they should spend money with you.

Back in 5 minutes

Having said that, no website is always better than having a bad website. My personal web design pet peeve is the ‘this website is under construction’ landing page – the equivalent of airing your dirty laundry in public, nobody needs to see it and it makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.

If you are working on your site but you want people to know that you care about your online presence, then use your social channels as a proxy. Especially Twitter and LinkedIn, which have great Google rankings and will help show your professional face in public. As long as people can find a trace of you and are able to discern your principles then you are absolutely fine and dandy.

While I’m on a roll, another cardinal website crime is sites that aren’t mobile friendly or bring you out in a sweat just trying to navigate through it. The whole point of a website is to show your best business self, and so the website needs to navigate like a dream, function well and look like you are ahead of the crowd. If your website isn’t doing that, bring it down for now and work on it, or better yet get the Bamboo boys to step in.

Dollar signs

Once you have your website up and running and it’s strutting its stuff on Google, it’s effectively acting as a free advertising beacon. It cost a lot of money to regularly advertise in trade magazines and industry journals, and so if you get your SEO bang on and write relevant content, you will help guide the flock right to your website and your brand with no extra money spent. Think of your website as full-page Ad spreads that have a potentially global and niche audience.

And if you’re willing to loosen those purse strings you can get cracking on some Google Ads campaigns which, when done right, can be cheaper than traditional advertising and reap better rewards or return on investment.

Not sure how? Ask us if you like, and we’ll help you give it a whirl.

Lead the way

Your website is also a chance for you to show who you are to the outside world and have some sort of control over what they see. This may sound slightly creepy, but if you are truthful then it doesn’t have to be dodgy.

For example, if you manufacture products that are hands down the best in the market, then tell your audience! Put up all the snazzy accreditations you’ve achieved and explain to them what makes your product the bees-knees. When you create sharp, crisp copy that lets you flaunt your best attributes it sets your company apart from the rest.

Or let’s say that you produce some pretty delicious cakes and sell them locally, you are doing well but you want to keep building awareness in the region. You actually really care about supporting local producers to make those cakes, so you buy your eggs and milk from the local farm shop and you purchase your flour from a fellow small and local business. Your first port of call is to tell your audience exactly that! because the type of customers that buy from you will care that you support local causes and will more likely become loyal and tell other people about you. It also strengthens your brand identity, so when people think of you they think of delicious cake and wholesome business practices.

Look into my eyes

If the eyes are the window the soul, then websites are the online doors to your business.

In the end, your website is part of your professional image and is important to get right for any size business. A good website can bring more business to your door, help elevate your brand, set you apart from the rest and provide a back up to what your established customers are already saying about you. And who wouldn’t want that?


Photo by Miguel Sousa on Unsplash

Smartphones are our beloved personal assistants, our communication tools and our secret keepers. A blossoming love affair or deep-seated addiction that has helped smartphones rise to stardom. Our phones are now the way most people in the world search for online information and view websites.

Gone are the days when the home computer or even the laptop reigned supreme. Anyone who checks their Google Analytics will have noticed this trend. People are much more likely to jump onto your site via their phone because smartphones are used as browsing screens that people have to hand and can use while on the go.

Topsy Turvy

The trend has hit such a climax that it’s becoming the browsing norm. Desktop and smartphone roles have been flipped and people aren’t going back.

In the past, Google’s SEO rankings would concentrate on desktop website content, now though Google has released a mobile first indexing to effectively react to the rising use of our handy pocket devices.

So what’s going to change? Before, Google primarily scanned through your desktop version and largely ignored mobile. Google is now going to start reviewing your mobile website before it rates your desktop version.  Google will use its crawling, indexing and ranking systems to firstly analyse your mobile content and then desktop.

As we’ve jokingly hinted at in a previous blog, Google is effectively the God of the internet and once it lays down a new way that websites are ranked, web designers and business have to keep up or get out of the game. This means that in the near future, websites will be firstly built for mobile and then desktop. Kooky stuff.

It doesn’t stop there. Google will start to penalise you if your mobile version of your site isn’t up to scratch and you will see both your rank on Google and your traffic go down. If you already have a mobile responsive website, you can relax. Make yourself a drink, sit back and watch the rest of the internet start to scramble. If your website isn’t mobile responsive, then put it on the top of to-do list, because things are about to get rocky.

For the mobile responsive crowd, don’t make your second cocktail just yet, because there’s still a bit of work to do.

Preaching to the converted

Even though websites are accessed via mobile more than 50% of the time, the conversion rates for mobiles (36%) are much lower than desktop. E-commerce mobile websites have much more people dropping off before they’ve purchased. It seems people are more than happy to window shop on mobile but not to buy the product or service.

So what’s turning consumers off?

One reason is simply the size of the screen and the fact that navigation and user experience is still (in general) better on desktop e-commerce sites. Online shoppers can see images more clearly and can easily hop through catalogues of products and back to their shopping trolley.

The biggest issue for mobile is the actual checkout. Always remember that the easier you can make it for a person to buy, the more likely they will. Here are some ways to make your online shopper’s lives a little easier on your mobile site:

  1. Get rid of any obligatory registration forms, or pop-ups that won’t go away, they act as literal barriers to higher conversion rates. Always give people the option to be a member or to continue as a guest.
  2. Enable an autofill option for guests and members. Create a secure section in the members profile where they can store all their payment information once and your site does the rest for them. A two-click or even 1 click shopping experience (Think Amazon) – from product page to the buy button is your e-commerce Eldorado.
  3. Give shoppers options – this includes different payment methods, videos of products, save purchase to buy later and staged payment or deposits for expensive purchases – Airbnb has just introduced a 2 stage payment option.

Promise me the moon

Security and habit are also prime reasons shoppers click off mobile checkouts and go back to their trusty desktops.

People are a sucker for habits and will take a while to start to trust and feel comfortable with new-fangled ways of doing things, especially when money is involved. Shoppers want to feel secure and want to know that their money hasn’t been thrown into a pyramid scheme or that their card details haven’t been flown across the internet to various international fraudsters.

How do you prove to your customers that you aren’t about to throw their money off a cliff? With open, honest information and clear content which is present at every stage of the purchasing process and of course with top end security.

For example, if you deal with large amounts of money or are the middle man between customer and creator, have a third-party banking system and tell your customers how safe their money really is.

We also highly recommend creating a separate page with all your security information and returns policy clearly written and easily accessible from every part of the customer’s journey. The more clarity you provide, the more opportunity you give your customer to trust you.

Definitely don’t exaggerate or claim to provide any form of security that you cannot.  And If you are worried about your e-commerce security, there a plenty of web application scanning tools that can help you analyse risk or contact a professional web designer to help you assess any holes in your back-end security.

It takes two

In the end, a successful e-commerce website that builds strong conversion rates is a website that understands how important it is to listen to customer behaviour and nurture a two-way relationship with their shoppers.

If your mobile e-commerce site isn’t doing what it’s meant to, look at your analytics and ask your customer’s how they think the mobile site could be improved. You’d be surprised how much useful information you collect and how your relationship with your customers strengthens.

And remember that the quickest way to an online shopper’s heart is easy navigation, clear options and secure checkout payment.


Photo by Mia Baker on Unsplash

We’ve got to a stage in our digital adventure where we’ve reached peak information overload. There isn’t a point in the day where we aren’t thrown a statistic, a graph, an infographic or given a slurry of trends to watch out for.

We are now so bombarded by facts, which often oppose each other, that we are even starting to genuinely believe that facts are relative.

Truth Sayers

One of the reasons for this shift in how we view truth or facts is there are so many well regarded and official polls that have colossally failed to predict voting patterns. And these predication fails have subsequently managed to be part of the mudslide that tipped the world in a completely different direction, Trump and Brexit being the most obvious.

When experts are giving us facts and the reality doesn’t match up, we naturally start to come the conclusion that fact and opinion is part of the same blurry painting, and that one person’s truth is another person’s fiction.

And this isn’t a fringe belief, it’s starting to become an ingrained and popular mindset which has many experts referring to the current era as ‘post-truth’. We are basically living in a time when a fact can be subjective, and that belief is completely linked to how we view, process and interact with data.

The many brushstrokes

When we think of data we think of figures and that those figures are collected, processed and then churned out to show us what is truly happening at any given time. That could either be how long people are on Facebook every day, how many people believe aliens exist or which type of ketchup people shop for in Tesco.

What is consistently happening though, is that people are using a certain bit of data collection and using that as the whole picture. They use one result to tell a version of the story, but not the whole picture.

When you strip out complexity you run the risk of siloing information which often doesn’t show what is actually happening or what people are truly thinking. Much like how priests used the Latin Bible to pick out their own truths in a time when the general population couldn’t read or understand Latin.

We are now digital awakened, so we think of data as gospel. But the data we are absorbing isn’t as much of an all-seeing truth as we like we think, not because the data is infallible but because we aren’t analysing it in the right way. We are relying far too heavily on the cherry picking of data to tell the whole reality of a situation.  And when we cherry pick and don’t look past the data to the human story behind the number we run the danger of misleading an audience or even ourselves in the process.

We are forgetting that behind the data are people, and people aren’t wired like computers, often aren’t that logical or feel inclined to follow a predicted trend graph. Putting the humanity back into how we analyse and process data will ensure that we are more aligned with real thought processes and complex human natures, so we can predict things more accurately.

A great example is writing down everything you eat and drink for a whole month and then collating that data and creating results and insights from it. Some of the results might not make sense or be quite shocking. Say for example your alcohol consumption is a lot higher than the national average for the month and that you actually fall into the category of a binge drinker. But then if you have another look past that one result and go back to the story behind that statistic, the actual truth might be that you like a glass of wine every other night in front of your Netflix binge of the moment.

Raw data doesn’t work or isn’t properly reflected in reality when we don’t analyse what is actually happening behind the scenes, especially when we don’t use context or take into account human nature.

Once upon a time

Many people also think analysing data helps us to be more efficient (which it does) but the reason we all love a good statistic is because it helps us to understand the world and our place in it. Data at its best is useful and relative information which helps us to improve as a person, understand the current status quo and how we relate to one another.

We have started to forget what data truly is. Data is always a means to explaining a story, and we as humans love to communicate and understand ourselves through our stories. When we take out the complexity of life and the many layers of human nature from our data, we lobotomise it and make it float apart from reality. The story behind the data is always what matters.

Humane brain

Data is like music – at its most basic it’s just strings of notes which sit flat and lifeless on a music sheet. But once a musician takes time to find the emotive story of each note and processes it into a melody, the musician breathes life into those numbers and it finally makes sense and relates something to us. The individual notes become part of the entire song.

Giorgia Lupi, Information Designer and Data Humanism advocate, says it best in her Ted Talk:

“To make data faithfully representative of our human nature and to make sure they won’t mislead us anymore we need to design ways to include empathy and imperfection. Use human qualities in the way we collect, view and analyse data. Instead of using data to become more efficient we should start using data to become more humane.”

She even suggests that to bring humanity back into our data the most logical step is to take technology totally out of the question. We should start collecting our own behavioural patterns and using beautifully designed visual graphics to show how we think, feel and behave. We then apply those findings to engineer how our technologies analyse data.

Because technology can’t track our thoughts or intricate moods (yet) it is up to us to put our human spirit into our graphs and figures so that our polls and our predictions finally represent ever-changing global stories, people and viewpoints.

One thing is for sure, once we learn how to combine the power of data and our own human natures, we will create a data culture tour de force. It’s something that the whole technology sector is trying to solve, to be able to combine the best parts of ourselves and our inventions to create emotive and efficient technology.


Photo by Luiz Felipe Souza on UnsplashPhoto by Pankaj Patel on Unsplash

It’s fair to say that there’s been quite a lot of scaremongering about the upcoming GDPR laws flying about the internet and running across offices. You’ve also probably received an Armageddon of email spams from every company under the sun asking you to agree to be spammed for many more years to come.

But before you fall to the ground and raise your hands to the sky and ask what to do, don’t worry all is not lost – and you most certainly don’t need to do a ‘Wetherspoons’ and delete your entire database just to protect yourself.

All shook up

Let’s rewind for a second and talk about why GDPR is coming around the bend and what has triggered the EU government to act.

There is currently a bit of a shakeup going on between businesses and governments, especially when business is done online. Before, the internet was thought of as a boundless and utopian information sharing tool. The very essence of the internet was to have plateaued and free information. But our technological advances have been moving so quickly that governments have been struggling to keep up and protect citizens properly. And so with all this freedom came a darker side to the internet, and one of those murkier realms has always been data collecting.

It’s common knowledge that companies have been collecting personal data records from us without adequate consent for years. We never really liked it but what could we really do about it?

Well, the EU government has now stepped in to push for more transparency and auditing trails from companies to protect the privacy rights of its citizens. And GDPR is the practical application of the EU government’s wish to create a stricter version of our data privacy laws, which will unify EU member state laws and give more power to the people.

The law will come into action on the 25th of May 2018 and will specifically protect EU citizens from organisations using their data irresponsibly and gives citizens more visibility about what information is shared, as well as where and how companies use their data.

Pretty good stuff right? So why is it sending jitters across the business world?

I think we all agree more data protection for citizens is a good thing, but the challenge now for many companies is to understand what GDPR actually is and how they can become 100% compliant. Any businesses found not following the regulations could be fined up the 4% of the company’s global annual turnover. Although this penalty will be reserved for serious breaches, it is understandably a huge risk to be taking if you don’t swat up enough about how to handle your data properly.

The Big Bad Wolf

There is also a shed load of misconceptions about GDPR laws and it’s sending a lot of companies into a bit of a kerfuffle. The regulations aren’t as scary as most will have you think, and they definitely aren’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

So, what can you do?

You can lawfully process personal data without consent if it is necessary for:

A contract with the individual: for example, to supply goods or services they’ve requested, or to fulfil your obligations under an employment contract.

Compliance with a legal obligation: if you are required by UK or EU law to process the data for a particular purpose, you can.

Vital interests: you can process personal data if it’s necessary to protect someone’s life.  This could be the life of the person in question or someone else.

A public task: if you need to process personal data to carry out your official functions or a task in the public interest or you have a legal basis for the processing data under UK law

Legitimate interests: if you are a private-sector organisation, you can process personal data without consent if you have a genuine and legitimate reason (including commercial benefit), unless this is outweighed by harm to the individual’s rights and interests.

Wash my sins away

Providing consent is being talked about a lot for good reason. Companies now need an audit trail or record of when contacts in your database give consent (or permission) to marketing, being contacted or having their information shared. If the reason you are contacting someone doesn’t fit in the above list or you don’t have any tangible proof of consent for your current contacts you need to go and get it.  And when I say tangible proof I mean that you need the date, time, source, IP address and consent statement.

How? Most companies are directly emailing their contacts to ask them to confirm they still want to be contacted and are using a ‘double opt-in’ process. It’s crucial that the consent is freely given, traceable and that they have a choice to not give it.

Another good tip is to give your database a good cleanse. This prep work will mean that you can delete any irrelevant contacts, eroded data or contacts that appear twice. Doing a data cleanse will save a lot of time in the long run because it will stop you or your team contacting an unnecessary amount of people.

It’s also good to keep in mind that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your contacts. Spending time analysing your contacts and sorting them into importance will help with prioritising your GDPR campaigns and help build stronger relationships with your core customers. It’ll also give you a planned strategy and stop you and your team running around like headless chickens.

Hallelujah

If you haven’t sorted out your contact consent by the 25th of May you could be subject to penalties, right? Yes, but don’t panic.

The 25th of May is a cut-off point, but if you haven’t sorted out all your contacts and you aren’t 100% compliant by then just ensure that you have proof that you are enacting the requirements and that you are finalising your data consent or ‘opt-in’ plan. Showing that your data processing is ongoing could stop any infringement fines from occurring. So get your finger off the ‘delete all’ button and start sifting through your database.

Another crucial basis of the GDPR law is that you can send contacts (who haven’t given tangible consent) information if it is in their ‘legitimate interest’. If you can prove the information you are sending could be useful or could interest the person you are contacting, then you are legally allowed to and will be compliant with GDPR. Or in other words, you can choose between double opt-in consent or legitimate interest – music to all marketeer’s ears.

But what does the wonderful vague term ‘legitimate interest’ mean? Can you send adverts about your dance classes to anyone in the vicinity who has two working limbs? No. What you can do though is contact people based on their industry and job title. So what you are emailing them has the potential to benefit their business, themselves or be of interest to them.

As clear as day

There are some things that we all don’t know or can’t predict because the law needs to be alive and kicking to see how the regulations will come into action and how that will affect businesses and individuals. Questions like how does the right to erasure affect archives, how high will the fines be and will suppliers need to raise their prices to account for the loss of lead generation? The fog can only start to lift after the 25th of May when the law becomes a practical day to day regulation that we all work with.

What we all do know though is that GDPR is going to completely change how we receive information and how customers view their own data. GDPR is giving back ownership of our information in a time when information has never been more valuable.

What businesses now need to do is buckle up and except that we aren’t in Kansas anymore, but that Oz might not be such a bad place to do business in. If we accept that we might have to lose a lot of contacts but that we actually gain insight into our most loyal customers, we can actually use the changing times as a way to nurture existing relationships and create valuable content. GPDR will hopefully create a much stronger two-way bond between your business and your contacts, who have opted in to still listen to you.

If you would like to find out more, you could do a lot worse than start with the ICO’s guide for small businesses.

Look out Mystic Meg! Bamboo Mcr’s got hold of a crystal ball, and we can see…

Smart Technology

First things first, everything is going to get a lot smarter. We aren’t just talking about Bamboo’s brilliant website building skills (ahem), but about the entire breed of technical devices out there on the market.

As predictions go, you might feel like it’s a pretty safe bet to assume technology is going to get a bit more quick witted. Technology has consistently become smarter since we started putting together techy stuff to make even better techy stuff. It’s the kind of horse you’d bet on to get a sure-fire win.

But, what we think will specifically make tech even smarter in 2018 is the internet of things (IoT). Now, the internet of things may sound like a loopy science project or a deep space mission, but what the internet of things means is connected objects that can exchange and collect information via the internet – think Amazon Echo, Apple’s Siri or your fridge that suggests you might want to make an omelette with the egg and cheddar combo on your shelf.

We are obviously right at the start of the IoT movement, but experts are predicting that 2018 will be the year of IoT and where we’ll start to see real changes to our lives. IoT is going to create a completely connected world where all devices and products will form mass networks that communicate with each other and form integrated services and data troves. The internet of things will basically become the backbone for all our consumer goods.

The movement is so huge and set to tip over into our every waking moment that in 30 years or so, we’ll actually look back at the likes of Amazon Echo and have a little giggle about how quaint our IoT systems were, kind of like how we look at the 80s bricks that were apparently mobile phones or existential life before Google.

Two huge IoT examples set to change our lives are smart homes and smart cities. Most of us are already familiar with smart homes – thermostats, lighting and security systems that you can regulate with your phone, or fridges that predict food running out, and fire sensors that contact emergency services when triggered. Smart cities are also set to revolutionise our urban lives by freely exchanging live data as we go about our days. IoT cities have the potential to reduce traffic congestion, noise, crime, and pollution.

User Experience

User experience or UX design has been coming up on the rear for a very long time. User Experience has always been important, with 88% of users less likely to return to a website if they’ve had a bad experience. A UX designer’s principal role is to make your journey from A to B as smooth and pleasant as possible. As technology gets smarter and more connected, seamlessly smooth user experience across multiple channels, devices and systems will become even more important.

UX designers are also the real Mystic Megs of the digital world, because a huge part of their job is to predict how people will want to use a system and how that might change over time, which is a crucial asset in the quickly evolving technology sector.

So, what will this mean for our digital spaces in 2018? Time saving nudge features, voice-activated experiences, augmented reality, and modern passwords such as biometric activation, are all being excitedly whispered about along the UX grapevine.

Social Media

No we aren’t going to predict social media happening, that ship has long since sailed past the billionth duck face selfie. What we are going to predict for 2018 is that social media channels are going to become even more integrated and connected, just like user experience and smart technology.

Social channels are already merging their identities to eat up their competitors and keep their valued users. Instagram stories copied Snapchat, LinkedIn news looks very similar to the Twittersphere newsreel and Facebook is now a video tidal wave, akin to the original video titan, Youtube.

Social media will also continue to eat up traditional T.V viewing. Since the birth of Youtube, Netflix and On Demand streaming, the young’uns and the tech savvy have switched off their family tellies and flocked to their portable devices to stream from the internet wherever they want and to their hearts content. It’s very similar to the previous shift from CD to mp3, everything is getting more online, connected and instantly accessible.

TV channels and television producers have been tracking this colossal shift and have done what all savvy business people are now doing – they integrate the competition. Most television boxes now have the option to watch programmed television or go onto on-demand viewing, because it’s set to become the mainstream way of watching our most bingeworthy television programs.

The Future’s bright

So what’s in store for Bamboo in 2018?

Drum roll please!…… We are very excited to reveal our plans for a brand spanking new website, scheduled to be live and kicking early this year. Since our move to Manchester city centre, we felt like a new look was in order, it also gave us the chance to integrate lots of snazzy new user experience and design features as well as a Manchester bee inspired logo!

We are also going to continue to eat cake and live our very own coworking experiment in Ziferblat Edge street. Working in the northern quarter and being around friendly and creative people has definitely brought about some surprising opportunities. We’ve found new clients, friends and even branched out into photography and video creation.

All we can say is, roll on 2018 and let’s hope it builds on the brilliant year we had in 2017!


If you ever want a chat with us about our uncanny crystal ball skills or maybe even how we build great looking functional and modern websites, we are always available via phone, email or even for a cup of tea at Ziferblat Edge Street!

 

Why Google Rankings strategies matter

Your site is up and running, it’s looking sleek and shiny, ready for the whole world to see. You sit at your computer waiting for the thousands of visits and leads that are going to come knocking on your digital window.

So why have the weeks gone by and you’re yet to receive the tidal wave of requests you expected, and your views are struggling to hit the 100 per week mark?

First things first, you are not alone, many companies navigate through the choppy waters of website traffic and have no idea how to bring the boat into port in unchartered territory.

Google is effectively the gate keeper of high search rankings and organic traffic. Meeting Google ranking requirements is one of the most important things for high website traffic, and ultimately lead generation.

What then is the magic Google recipe to put you above all your competitors and become the cream of the Google ranking crop?

Tell me the truth

One of the most important and relatively easiest ways is with quality content. Writing engaging and relevant information on your website which is often refreshed (i.e. with a blog) is a sure-fire way to see your Google rankings rise.

People react most to genuine content that hits a Zeitgeist or speaks to their values. Which means that no amount of hyperlinking or SEO can replace interesting content that attracts your core audience. You can even attract long-tail traffic, which is basically attracting visitors that are interested in what you do but weren’t specifically looking for you.

A good example of this is if a restaurant, which has a website and blog, posts weekly trend setting recipes. A person might research a recipe that is on the blog and stumble across the post, like what they see, look at the whole website and decided to visit the restaurant.

SEO my heart out

Another way is through SEO, a term which is being bandied about a lot and is being propelled as the new way to write content. Away from the marketing jargon, SEO is just writing compelling content for your brand which contains words that people are likely to search for when they are looking for what you do.

It’s important though, to firstly write quality content and to secondly concentrate on SEO. The worst mistake a lot of websites do is to try and drive content by solely concentrating on searchable words, this often created conceited and jumbled up sentences which tends to lead to high traffic but also very high bounce rates.

SEO works when you can’t tell the searchable words are there. They should never be the gravitational pull in a sentence but should instead sit calmly behind the scenes in a genuine piece of writing.

Meta-morphosis

It’s also not just about the words you write for the whole world to see, it’s also important to get your back-end in order. All I mean by back-end, is the page settings in your editor suite, where you can view each of your pages and write meta-tags or searchable terms which help Google understand what your site does, raised your profile and directs the right traffic towards it.

It is also important to do this for pictures and videos. Google is basically a very complex algorithm and reacts to data (a colossal 20 petabytes per day). If Google processes a picture or video without a back-end description it is basically invisible to Google and won’t help your rankings.

Social Space

Social media also has a big part to play, because it can help drive more traffic to your website. Having various social media accounts for your company effectively shines a stronger beacon towards your website by picking up visitors from a wider angle.

You are quite literally providing more opportunities to be searched for on the internet, and Google likes knowing that traffic is coming to your website from multiple sources. A bit like the popular high school kid, who decides whether you’re worth their attention based on how many friends you have.

Picking which social media platform is right for you is also important. If you’re a design company, Pinterest and Instagram are probably the way to go, if you’re a street food company Instagram and Snapchat will probably get you genuine engagement, where a data analyst organisation will probably look to Twitter and LinkedIn as a more appropriate route.

The key strategy with social media is to get your branding streamlined and to constantly generate compelling content which will, if all things go to plan, drive increased traffic to your website and give you a healthy boost on Google.

Rising Star

In the end, raising your Google ranking can feel a bit like a shooting star, some days your rankings soar and some days you are left scratching your head and wondering what changed from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Don’t lose faith though, the best sign that your google ranking strategy is working is that the long-term pattern is one of growth and that you are enjoying writing your content. Sometimes that can be a reader’s individual feedback, an average increase in session duration or a few more contacts via your website or social media accounts than last month.

Whenever I write for myself or for companies I always stick to a genuine voice and write about what is genuinely interesting to the core audience, and then I back it up with metatags and SEO. Just like in real life, when you are faking it, people can tell, and tend to back away. The need for genuine conversation reaches all corners of our life, including the internet and our websites.


Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.

Why coders are today’s rock stars

Every decade we have a ‘cool’ job gang. And every decade there are a set of people that go from working behind the scenes to rocking our professional world overnight.

This decade is the age of the coders. Gone are the socially inept stereotypes and in its place, are hip tech-savvy individuals working for futuristic Google-esque companies and changing the world as they code.

Tech is now seen as cool and as a by-product the people that have kept it afloat are the rock stars of this shiny new world. Coding trendy new apps, inventing social media, birthing websites, working with governments, or developing ground breaking software has transformed the classically introverted coders to completely different social creatures and given them public relevance.

Coders were the belly of the digital beast, but have long since walked out of their computer filled backrooms and onto the media stage. Coders are now talking about their achievements and are rightly seen as an integral part of the future of digital.

Code of Fire

It comes as no surprise really. The internet is built by and dependent on coders, as is all software, most modern technology, and is used in music and modern art.

When what someone does becomes so crucially important across our entire lives they have much more room to fulfil their potential. In turn, this attracts more rising stars and helps make the industry even more ground-breaking.

Art and science is also becoming very blurred. The omnipresence of technology means that the new generation will have a much deeper interest and knowledge of basic tech and code and will use that to create, invent and innovate.

Even now, artists actively use creative software tools and web developers learn how to use the arts to create inspiring digital platforms. And because this generation’s coders are the first to pioneer the marriage between creativity and technology, they naturally become the Johnny Cash of code.

Here comes the sun

Coders were working underground for decades partly because it took society a long time to realise that coders aren’t strange people typing a string of incomprehensive letters and numbers.

Our access to technology has raised our awareness of code and its importance in our daily lives. This naturally peeked our interest in who makes our smartphone apps or how a website is built and makes us want to know much more about coders. We have that same thirst for celebs, and which makes them systematically cooler than the average joe.

Because technology is revolutionising our daily lives, it is also creating social and pioneering movements just like rock and roll did and still does. Being the first of a mass movement makes you ground breaking. Hackathons, big data and the internet of things are all trendy buzz words for a reason.

The idea of ‘geek’ is also finally being turned on its head. Scientists, tech inventors, mathematicians and coders are finally having their day in the sun because of the technological advancements they are creating and the digital movements they are pioneering.


Sara is a freelance writer based in Manchester. She owns the commercial and creative content company Fraiche Ink, focusing on think pieces and marketing content.