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Pixl8 Blog

Welcome to our blogs, here you will find the latest musings from the Pixl8 team on industry news, web design and development.

  • SEND Gateway Launch SEND Gateway Launch

    SEND Gateway Launch

    Jessica Keeling   Posted: 30 May 2014

    Launched by Edward Timpson MP, last week and funded by the Department for Education; we are very proud to have developed the first of its kind SEND portal for education professionals.


    The site was developed with the aim to offer education professionals free, easy access to high quality information, resources and training for meeting the needs of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).


    Users are able to search the portal using ‘elastic search’ technology, filter results, preview documents, watch videos, download and favourite resources. The portal also boasts a number of key functionalities for publishers, they are able to sign up, gain approval from administrators and then contribute to online resources by uploading their own content.


    The flexibility of the portal allows for the library of information, guidance, news and training resources to grow over time and continually develop its role in providing valuable content to the sector.

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  • 8 tips for increasing course applications

    James Sanders   Posted: 23 May 2014

    Help people find the right course

    Not all students know what course they should be doing, make it simple for them to find out what course they can apply for based on their interests, previous qualifications and skills.

    Make it simple

    Have a page which clearly presents all the different curriculum areas students can apply to as soon as they land in their audience area. Group courses together by interest and also level. Do not mix up different course levels which won’t be relevant i.e. HNDs and BTEC Level 1s

    Have a powerful, faceted search

    Have a search bar on each relevant page. Allow students to search and order courses by their age, interests, career aspirations and achievements. Clearly differentiate between different courses.

    Use relevant case studies

    Have career and student focussed case studies linked to courses. Remember you are competing with other colleges, you need to keep on selling your facilities and courses throughout.

    Have a simple layout

    Keep the navigation simple and clear, do not “dump” a lot of left hand navigation in, you should be leading the applications through a process and guiding their navigation.

    Use images and videos

    Images and videos are the most engaging content and will help people to engage with the site, too much text will bore people and they are unlikely to read it.

    Do user testing

    Get a group of prospective students to use your application form and give feedback, after all these are the people who will be using it the most.

    Keep the application form simple

    Allow applicants to enter their name, email, mobile and course they are interested in and let them save and complete the rest of the form later - they could even do the rest at an open evening.

    James has been a trainer and lecturer in Colleges for many years and works closely with our clients to enable them to get the very based out of their websites.
     

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  • CRM integration: Avoiding silos of isolated data CRM integration: Avoiding silos of isolated data

    CRM integration: Avoiding silos of isolated data

    Jonathan McLellan   Posted: 28 January 2014

    Customer Relationship Management systems, commonly referred to as CRMs have been around for a long time.  Although they were once seen as only relevant to large companies with thousands of employees, today their cost and complexity has been reduced making them achievable for smaller organisations. 

    CRMs provide the opportunity to organize and automate marketing, sales and customer service tasks.  Although they offer a great deal of benefits, a number of significant pitfalls exist and should be addressed to ensure you get the most from your CRM.

    When introducing a CRM, it’s easy for it to become ‘just another place to store data’.  Silos of unconnected information are likely to reduce efficiencies, not improve them.  To combat this it’s crucial for a CRM to be implemented in the right way (integrated) and used correctly (by the whole team). 

    Include your whole team

    Firstly, it’s important that the whole team is included and considered when planning a roll out of your new Customer Relationship Management system.  Limiting access and not including all those who genuinely need access to it will lead to the CRM data becoming out of date, and new silos or pockets of data being created elsewhere.  Potential mutiny may then ensue, as different teams claim to have the most up to date information in their respective Excel spreadsheets or Google docs…

    Don’t forget your website

    Secondly, if a lot of your business is done online (for most this is the growing trend) a significant amount of data is likely to be passing through your website from new and existing customers / members.  By integrating your CRM with your website, you can ensure that your website doesn’t become another isolated store of valuable and up to date information.  Connecting your website with your CRM will allow users to update their details online, meaning that when it comes to your marketing campaigns you’ll always have the correct data to hand in your CRM.

    Think outside the box

    Lastly, don’t be tempted to restrict CRM integration to just your website.  Consider all of your other systems that could be integrated with your CRM to provide you with a more joined up approach e.g. event systems, accounting software and customer support portals.  Connecting these together will likely help improve efficiency for employees as well as the overall image of your organisation through consistency and accuracy.

    Choosing the right CRM, setting it up and integrating it can be a daunting prospect.  Fortunately we have loads of experience managing CRM tender processes and even more around successful website CRM integration projects.  Pick our brains here to find out more...
     

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  • How mistakes can lead to better website landing page performance How mistakes can lead to better website landing page performance

    How mistakes can lead to better website landing page performance

    Jonathan McLellan   Posted: 20 January 2014

    In this 3rd and final post of our “Successful landing page” series of blog articles, we’ll be looking at how and why it’s so important that you continue to review and analyse performance of your landing pages.  In our previous two posts we looked at the correct ways to plan a successful landing page, then we looked at how to design a successful landing page.

    Any sort of live content on your website should be treated as an opportunity to experiment (responsibly) with an aim to improve performance, through continuous tweaking and monitoring.  This is especially the case with landing pages, which are first and foremost there to engage and ultimately convert site visitors.  After all, you need to demonstrate return on investment (ROI) for all the time and money spent developing your landing pages!

    Tracking

    It’s vitally important that you have analytical software setup (for most of us this will be Google Analytics) so that you can monitor how your website and landing pages are performing.  ‘Tracking’ was one of the key considerations we mentioned in our earlier post, when ‘Designing a successful landing page’.  This will allow you to understand how successful your landing page is from day one, and if any of the tweaks you’re making are having either a positive or negative effect.

    There’s almost an infinite number of metrics you can track, so it’s important to focus on the most valuable to prevent us from being distracted by less useful data:

    - Number of landing page views

    - Conversion rate (ratio of views to user action)

    - Bounce rate

    - Number of conversions

    - Number of leads

    - Number of customers

    Tweaking

    No, tweaking isn’t a new form of ‘twerking’!  This is to do with making constant adjustments, with the aim of increasing the metrics listed above (apart from the bounce rate).  Analytics are extremely useful, as they provide an insight into the ways you can tweak your landing page to optimise it further. 

    For example: low page views (little traffic) compared with other areas of your site could signify that you need to work on your search engine optimisation (see our post here on effective SEO strategy).

    A high bounce rate / low conversion rate would suggest you need to improve your general content: better calls to action and USP (unique selling proposition).  Is it clear what you’re selling, what the benefits are?  Have you included enough information for a prospective customer to commit to the desired action e.g. fill in a form / get in touch?

    High number of conversions but few of these becoming actual leads would lead us to think the quality of leads is poor and perhaps we need to rethink the content and overall keywords we’re targeting.  Does the content make it clear what you’re selling and at what level, are your keywords relevant to your targeted audience?  E.g. using ‘budget’, ‘cheap’, ‘bargain’ will most likely provide you with enquiries from people with a very limited budget.

    By continuing to analyse results, making tweaks then letting them run again before reviewing, will give you an understanding of the ways you can improve the effectiveness of your landing pages.  Remember to take notes / keep copies of previous content / settings before making changes, in case you need to revert back due to a drop in performance!

    Last but not least – do not be afraid or feel bad, guilty or ashamed if tweaks made produce a drop in traffic or conversions, as Richard Bach once famously said:

    “There are no mistakes. The events we bring upon ourselves, no matter how unpleasant, are necessary in order to learn what we need to learn; whatever steps we take, they're necessary to reach the places we've chosen to go”.

    Are you looking for a digital agency that can build you a website that incorporates best practise in terms of user experience (UX), information architecture (IA) and web design; to maximise engagement and conversions? Then look no further, you’ve come to the right place!  Get in touch with us here to see how we can help.

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  • Google Analytics Training for Beginners Google Analytics Training for Beginners

    Google Analytics Training for Beginners

    Jonathan McLellan   Posted: 23 December 2013

    Pixl8 is proud to offer Google Analytics training workshops for beginners.

    How do you know if your website is performing well? Are you experiencing increasing or decreasing visitor numbers?  Are visitors spending more or less time on your site?

    By knowing and understanding these important website statistics for your website, you can then make better judgements on your site architecture and content to improve the user experience for visitors and in turn your overall search rankings.

    Our Google Analytics training workshop for beginners provides a useful introduction and overview of this extremely valuable piece of free software. By attending one of our Google Analytics beginner training workshops you'll learn how to:

    - Freely navigate around the Google Analytics application and administer accounts
    - Understand all key terminology related to Google Analytics and Web Master Tools
    - Create custom reports based on predetermined filters to help with website SEO
    - Devise event, goal and campaign strategy
    - Be able to monitor your website performance and action errors

    If this is something you'd like to know more about, please drop Jonathan an email!

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  • Designing a successful landing page Designing a successful landing page

    Designing a successful landing page

    Jonathan McLellan   Posted: 17 December 2013

    Are you looking for ways to grow your sales or membership online? 

    Then look no further - this is number 2 of a series of blog articles we’re writing, about planning, setting up and analysing successful landing pages.  In this post we’ll be detailing the important content and design elements you'll need to consider, when creating a landing page that's truly optimised for conversion.

    A well designed and thought out landing page should be short, snappy and to the point.  Research shows you only have 8 seconds to get the users attention (that’s 1 second less than a Goldfish’s attention span)!

    By taking the following points into account, you can ensure your landing page is well optimised for conversion:

    Navigation

    Restrict your primary navigation to minimise the chances of your visitors wondering off to other less relevant areas of your site, which haven’t been designed with conversion in mind.

    Title text

    Your title is crucial for grabbing the visitor’s attention.  Focus on what you’re promoting and your chosen call to action.  If you’re using text over an image, make sure there’s a high level of contrast so your title stands out.

    Body text

    To increase readability ensure your text isn’t too small and keep line spacing generous.  Also don’t forget to pay attention to your previously completed keyword research when writing the content.

    Trust indicators

    Relevant client quotes and testimonials can work wonders when trying to convince visitors of your credentials, thus completing your call to action.

    Imagery

    Use simple imagery to support your call to action and arrows / gradients to lead the user’s directional gaze towards your call to action.  Make sure your images are relevant to your cause and where possible, avoid using cheesy istock!

    Video

    Studies have shown that videos used within landing pages can increase conversions by a staggering 80% - better get your video camera out!

    Social sharing

    Give your page the chance to go viral by including social sharing features, to let visitors easily share it with their friends on Facebook / Twitter or bookmark it for later.

    Mobile

    Mobile web browsing is continuing to grow, so it’s important to consider these smaller screens.  By using responsive design, you can ensure your landing page looks great on whatever screen size it’s being viewed upon.

    Tracking

    You’ll want to track your conversions.  This is possible using Google's Tag Manager to create custom rules to automatically trigger events within Google Analytics.

    If you’re searching for ways to increase your membership or product sales online, get in touch with us now and let us help you create a website optimised for conversion.

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  • Improving website usability over breakfast Improving website usability over breakfast

    Improving website usability over breakfast

    Jonathan McLellan   Posted: 27 November 2013

    We had a great time at our latest breakfast workshop, covering the benefits of enterprise search and the many ways it can dramatically improve website usability.

    It provided us with the opportunity to introduce the new, powerful, full text search system that we’re implementing for many of our clients – ElasticSearch. This advanced website search system provides the ability to search website content, the actual contents of documents and even additional content collections.

    ElasticSearch may also be setup alongside other clever enhancements and visual improvements to aid overall website usability:

    Improved design

    Highlighted search terms may be shown within results, including within extracts of PDFs and other documents. Icons can also be included to clearly indicate whether results are web pages or other types of media such as PDFs or video content.  Pagination of results is also a good idea, to help break up larger result collections and make it easier for users to browse.

    Search faceting

    Search faceting allows users to further segment results using a variety of facet types.  These may include: date, document type, content type or universal website category / tag.  See search faceting in action here, by selecting “Show advanced search” on the right hand side.

    Smart auto-complete

    Help save users the time of having to type out longer search terms by providing suggestions as they type, which can then be selected via a drop down.  These suggested terms may be based on an index of all page and document titles within the website.  Whether or not the suggested terms are based on document or web page titles can also be displayed via an appropriate icon.

    Did you mean?

    Do you ever get annoyed when search results = 0, only to discover you’ve misspelt what you’re looking for?  Avoid the frustration for you and your users by introducing a clever “did you mean” feature, which displays a list of similarly spelt  words based on your entered search term.

    If you’re experiencing any challenges over search on your website, feel free to get in touch to see how we can help!

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  • How to plan a successful landing page How to plan a successful landing page

    How to plan a successful landing page

    Jonathan McLellan   Posted: 13 November 2013

    This is the first of 3 blog posts we’re writing, about setting up a successful landing page.

    If you have a service or product you’re trying to sell or simply get noticed online, then you need to build yourself a landing page.  Gone are the days when you could simply throw together a quick website page, and expect the leads and enquiries to come rushing through.

    Today, competition is fierce!  If you don’t make a considerable amount of effort, then your page will fall to the wayside (probably page 10 or beyond, behind your competitors in the search results where nobody will ever see it…)

    So, what exactly is a landing page?  A landing page is a single website page designed to maximise traffic and in turn conversions.  In this post we’ll cover the most important aspects that need to be considered when planning and preparing a successful landing page. 

    Research and planning

    1.  What service or product is your landing page to focus on? Pick one and go for it.  Don’t be tempted to focus on more than one, otherwise this will confuse your prospective leads and water down conversions.  Using personas as a way of understanding the needs of your visitors is often a very good idea, check out our persona blog post here for more information

    2.  Next you need to carry out some keyword research, coming up with popular alternative phrases that you may be found under.  These should then be used throughout the page.  Check out an earlier blog to find out more about SEO good practise here.  

    3.  Finally, set yourself some achievable goals and targets.  These should be easily measurable to allow you and your team to see how you’re doing, e.g. achieve 5 conversions per calendar month.

    Choosing your call to action

    As the ultimate aim of your landing page is to convert, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to coax people into providing their details or even better – making the purchase.   Depending on your call to action, this could then introduce additional tasks such as preparing the newsletter that people are signing up for.

    Below are a few common calls to action that you could use to tempt people into providing their email address and / or telephone number:

    - Request an online demo
    - Registration for an event
    - Sign-up for a newsletter
    - Download a document

    Landing page options

    Once you know what you’re promoting and the call to action you’re using, you can now get going with building the actual landing page.  Although there’s one more decision that must be made - what type of landing page is best?  This often depends on a variety of factors such as length of campaign and your overall objectives.  Below is an overview of the two main options:

    Within existing site structure and / or design

    This option is great for usability as the page will sit within your existing website, meaning design and navigation will remain consistent with the rest of your site.  A major drawback is that existing navigation may draw visitors away from your landing page, to areas that haven’t been designed or written with conversion in mind. Check your site settings / ask your web team to see if you can remove navigation on your landing page if needs be.

    Separate to existing site structure and / or design

    This option will often convert better as it provides the opportunity to build a separate page from scratch, designed entirely with conversions in mind.  One problem however is that it’ll be competing against your existing site, and may take months to be indexed and ranked by the major search engines.  Because of this ensure to set it up as a subdomain of your site, then redirect any campaign specific URLs you may be using.  Launch Rock and Unbounce are great examples of 3rd party landing page builders.

    Check back soon for our 2nd post in the series: How to Setup a Successful Landing Page, where we'll be looking at the importance of getting your content, imagery and general layout right.

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  • Which web team horror are you? Which web team horror are you?

    Which web team horror are you?

    Jonathan McLellan   Posted: 31 October 2013

    With the arrival of Halloween, we couldn't help but notice the similarities between the roles of a website team and the classic Halloween monsters.  So much so, we thought we'd write up a quick tongue in cheek guide:

    The Zombie - aka Intern

    Fairly slow to move or react.  Often looks half dead following late night partying.   

    The Vampire- aka IT Manager

    Very rarely if ever seen in daylight.  Usually stays inside within the darkness of the office, tinkering with cables and boxes with flashing lights.

    The Witch- aka Marketing Director

    A big fan of high heels, the colour black and cats.  Often heard (loud shrieking cackle) before being seen. 

    The Alien– aka Web Designer

    Usually wears odd looking clothes and speaks gibberish when asked about their latest designs. 

    Dr Jekyll / Mr Hyde - aka Project Manager

    The one with a split personality.  Sometimes fairly relaxed and an ordinary individual when things are on track, however all too often becoming a monster when things fall behind schedule.

    The Ghost – aka Freelance SEO / Content Writer

    Their whereabouts is rarely known.  Will often appear and then disappear, as they breeze in and out of the office.

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  • Do you own this watch? Do you own this watch?

    Do you own this watch?

    Jonathan McLellan   Posted: 29 October 2013

    Following our fantastic summer client BBQ back in August, we've been enthralled in a mystery...

    Somebody left behind a nice looking Dolce & Gabbana men's genteel chronograph leather strap watch.  We've searched high and low, but just cannot find its rightful owner. If it's you, or you think you know who it is, please get in touch with us here.

    (If you're simply a chancer hoping to score a free D & G watch that isn't yours, think again!  We know who attended the BBQ and will check the guest list before returning the watch!)

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