May 7 2013

Customer ratings, reviews and social validation – user experience & persuasive techniques on the web…

Customer ratings (those little stars) and reviews are well used by web designers and digital marketing agencies on shopping and community sites – users like them, and they influence us – yes they do. But why?

Customer ratings, reviews, social validation and web design persuasion (source wiggle.co.uk

The key research on web design & persuasion by recommendations

As far back as 2007 De Vries and Pruyn studied the effect of recommendations on users buying digital cameras, and in a nutshell they found that when recommendations were provided for a particular item it sold 20% more than when there was no recommendation.

So why do I listen to strangers opinion online (I wouldn’t down the pub)?

Online ratings and reviews unconsciously trigger our desire for social validation. Social validation is the process where we look to what others are doing, helping us make a decision more quickly, we look to other people to guide us – the important thing to realise is that we do this automatically and unconsciously.

So on web sites like Amazon and App Stores when  we are looking to make a purchase, we quickly evaluate the worth of a product based on reviews by others. If a page doesn’t have those customer stars and ratings on the first page, the page risks losing your attention very quickly.

Hey – I’m completely rational, logical… those stars only help me when I want help – I make the final decision…

For the most part we are all conformists, and the power of those little stars and reviews, and the triggers for social validation, are so strong that very few of us will be able to fight it and buy a product which has lower stars!

I know I like to do some research before buying – all those data sheets, statistics, pictures, graphs and specifications just allow me to tell myself I’m making a wise and conscious choice… but really this is in the main,  post rationalisation of an unconscious trigger on social validation.

Of course the problem now is that most popular products on Amazon and similar sites now seem to have 4.5 or 5 stars, interesting…

If you would like to chat about how S8080 could help improve your web design and user experience, call 01792 485566 and ask for me, Matt Howard, or email info@s8080.com

May 2 2013

Web accessibility, making accessible video – YouTube vs Vimeo

When we are talking about web design, website accessibility and how to make website content accessible with clients I’m often asked by about making video accessible and working with third-party media streaming services such as YouTube or Vimeo.

Image of video player - web accessibility

Embedding these third-party technologies has been a standard means to deliver video content through websites for a long time – they’re free, highly reliable and can be added to webpages with ease.

Moreover, there’s no question that these technologies offer great user experience – they pack large amounts of information into small areas of web page real-estate. Not to mention, 3G and 4G networks are now more than adequate to support streaming direct to mobile devices. They have become a UX necessity and a marketer’s weapon of choice.

However when you also consider that accessible video ensures inclusive design and can really help improve SEO and search engine findability (by adding video title, tags, captions, annotations and transcripts) the reasons to make sure video content is accessible become very clear.

Closed captioning

Despite this, there are still misconceptions surrounding how accessible these technologies are. W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) has always leant towards limiting the use of embedded multimedia content such as Flash and Java – due to their content being out of reach for assistive accessibility technologies.

But that shouldn’t mean avoid them. YouTube for example, has since 2006 focused on developing inclusive technologies that make their video content accessible with the introduction of automated closed captions.

This is an excellent feature which allows video publishers to add text captions to specific points of the video. They present a mechanism for delivering time-based content in an accessible way. They provide subtitles, and caption text can be exported to create video transcripts – plus closed captions are searchable.

Shortfalls of Vimeo, mixed in with the pros

From an accessibility angle, YouTube has all the right ingredients for delivering accessible content and deliver it very well. But with more and more authors opting to use video to enhance their content, the motives from selecting alternatives to YouTube has begun to make online video prone to potential accessibility pitfalls.

Vimeo is a good example – it has a less cluttered and better looking interface than YouTube which makes it a very attractive option. More importantly, it has also resisted the urge to commercialise its service meaning that viewers aren’t presented by an interface littered with adverts. For this reason, its adoption, especially within the educational and public sectors is steadily rising. This does however come with a cautionary note; in its strive to retain what it sees as its bestselling points, features such closed captions are not yet supported by Vimeo exposing limitations in being a viable accessible technology… for now.

If you would like to chat about how S8080 could help improve your web accessibility and user experience, call 01792 485566 and ask for me, Matt Howard, or email info@s8080.com.

Some useful resources:

Apr 30 2013

Web accessibility, using colour contrast tools to help make accessible images

In this post we take a quick look at some simple best practices work to help improve the accessibility of website design.

As a website design company, one of the more challenging elements of good web design that we face is often in providing the means to deliver engaging visual content for that enhances user experience – but equally as important, ensuring our websites adhere to web accessibility guidelines (WAI WCAG 2.0) and best practice.

Web accessibility and good user experience can sometimes be at loggerheads: on one hand, being conscientious of good user experience principles will prioritise design aesthetics and bespoke functionality to create novel and innovative interfaces. On the other hand, accessibility standards, particularly the more stringent web accessibility AAA standards often present many hurdles for web designers – stipulating strict measures for displaying and surfacing content.

Though AAA standards are strict, it shouldn’t mean that meeting them compromises visually striking web design – nor does it mean web design should be text-heavy with minimal colour combinations.

Colour contrast analysis tools to improve web design

From our experience, working with clients who require websites to meet web content accessibility guidelines, particularly those who operate within the public sector, one of the most common web accessibility standards we find to be overlooked regularly is colour contrast. As a web design agency, we focus on custom web design and website development that adheres to the necessary WCAG standards and accessibility best practice.

But that’s only half the story; what happens after website goes live can really affect how well WCAG standards are maintained on a website over the longer term.

Image showing colour contrast – the one on the left has much more contrast than the one on the right!

Content authors who generate their own content using authoring tools can overlook simple WCAG compliant best practices – especially when adding their own decorative styles to text and when working with image content. Though CMS websites and WYSIWYG editors allow authors to add heading tags to text headings, and ‘ATL’ tags to images, there is no in-built functionality to assess how accessible colour contrast ratios work.

There is however a range of free, but effective tools available online that can validate the colour contrast of content. They allow authors to analyse colour contrast to meet the success criterion 1.4.3 guidelines for WCAG 2.0. Ultimately, these tools offer the means to generate accessible, yet highly visual, image rich content.

Here are a few colour contrast tools worth looking at which will help improve web accessibility

Contrast Analyser – a free desktop application that determines the how well colour contrast ratios adhere to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. intuitive and simple to use – considered widely as an industry standard.

Colour Contrast Check is a free web-based validator that allows you find which foreground and background colour combinations are accessible – a simple and easy to use solution.

Luminosity Colour Contrast Ratio Analyser is a simple, free, online colour contrast analyser. By adding the foreground and background colours you intend to use to style your text area or images, this free app can determine how accessible the combination is compared to the success criterion 1.4.3 guidelines of WCAG 2.0.

If you would like to chat about how S8080 could help improve your web accessibility and user experience, call 01792 485566 and ask for me, Matt Howard, or email, info@s8080.com.

Apr 24 2013

EpiServer custom web design and development for CITB

Image of EpiServer custom web development for CITB and the Birches microsite

We have just launched two more EpiServer CMS web sites. The EpiServer development was for CITB, following on the successes of the recent launch of www.citb.co.uk. Our team of .NET developers are really enjoying the quick build time, customisation and flexibility of the CMS platform and it’s robust nature.

  • Web design – Creative & look and feel
  • Web template development
  • EpiServer CMS
  • Technical services, hosting & support
  • Web usability & consultancy
  • User centred design, personas and UX design
  • User testing, card sorting & eye tracking
  • Training workshops
  • Website accessibility and accessibility testing
  • Creative strategy & online style guides
  • Creative concepts, designs & online campaigns
  • Email &email newsletter design and broadcast

Live sites:
www.citb.co.uk/jobs/
www.citb.co.uk/thebirches

If you would like to chat about how S8080 could help develop your web site on EpiServer CMS, please 01792 485566 and ask for Chris Cowell, or email info@s8080.com.

Apr 22 2013

Is a web design company a healthy place to work?

S8080 certainly is!

We have just won a national workplace health and well-being award backed by Welsh Government, basically, the Corporate Health Standard for SME’s.

s8080 web design company health award

As we have an ‘ISO’ in place for team welfare (OHSAS 18001), a lot of the requirements were already in place including regular display screen assessments (the whole team have new twin flat screen monitors), health and safety training, workplace ergonomics and a modern and pleasant working environment right on the sea front.

But it’s the other stuff we do that makes the difference to our digital agency…

  • Friday treats, where we provide hyper-healthy snacks alongside the ever popular muffins and pain au chocolat
  • Hand sanitiser on every desk that helps keep colds and bugs at bay
  • A humidifier running during the winter months to keep the air comfortable
  • Our office is on a Sustrans cycle route
  • A few of us started the ‘Couch to 5K’ running programme
  • We’ve entered a sizable team to take part in the BHF Gower Bike Ride this summer
  • Fresh fruit and veg brought in to share by the gardeners in the team (yes, there are quite a few of us!)
  • But we do still have the occasional Domino’s pizza day too 😉

s8080 digital agency bike rideWe are generally a healthy bunch of web designers and developers, with a good mix of sport and fitness interests including cycling, running, mountain biking and surfing. But as all of our team are 30 plus, it pays to keep expanding waistlines and illness at bay – and we have almost non-existent illness absence, so it’s working!

After a period of consultation and guidance, we were assessed by the Workplace Health team at Public Health Wales and awarded the Bronze standard Small Workplace Health Award, with the Silver standard to hopefully follow later this year. We’d like to say a big thank you to Rhian and Val from Public Health Wales for their knowledge, encouragement and enthusiasm.

You can contact them at workplacehealth@wales.nhs.uk or telephone  08456096006.

It’s valuable to S8080 on many obvious levels, but most importantly, the whole team feed in with ideas and opportunities to do fun stuff together rather than just a drink after work.

Picnic on Pen y Fan anyone?

Update 7th May…

s8080_digital_agency_award

Apr 16 2013

Drupal CMS development for Enterprise Zones Wales

Drupal CMS development for Enterprise Zones Wales - Welsh Government

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have made the Enterprise Zones Wales site live, it’s been a great project working with the team in Welsh Government over the past few months. The project was a rapid turnaround Drupal CMS deployment focusing on the key 7 enterprise locations in Wales.

  • Drupal CMS
  • Web usability & consultancy
  • Information architecture
  • Wire frame design and prototyping
  • Web template development
  • Website accessibility and accessibility testing
  • SEO services & online marketing

Live site: enterprisezones.wales.gov.uk

Apr 15 2013

Email design and broadcast for Fishing Wales and a new e-zine too

Email design and broadcast for Fishing Wales and a new e-zine too

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have just hit send to another big email broadcast to over sixty thousand (yes 60,000)  anglers throughout the UK for Fishing Wales and the Environment Agency. The email was a quick visual email to announce the new season announce the new another issue to the ever successful to the e-zine we design and built. The online analytics showed yet again a huge hit. Here’s a link to the latest e-zine: www.wildfishingwales.com/

  • Email & email newsletter design and broadcast
  • Digital marketing &SEO
  • Web analytics, audits and customer insight
  • Digital illustration
  • Strategy
  • Viral
Mar 27 2013

Dezrez – digital and creative strategy

Dezrez – digital and creative strategy

  • Design
  • Digital illustration
  • Digital strategy
  • Branding
Mar 27 2013

Dezrez – digital illustrations

Dezrez – digital illustrations

  • Design
  • Digital illustration
  • Digital strategy
  • Branding
Mar 27 2013

UK Department of Energy and Climate Change Infographic – household bills

UK Department of Energy and Climate Change Infographic – household bills

  • Design
  • Infographic
  • Digital illustration
  • Digital strategy
  • Branding

Live site: www.gov.uk/government

Mar 27 2013

UK Department of Energy and Climate Change Infographic – energy bill 2020

UK Department of Energy and Climate Change Infographic – energy bill 2020

  • Design
  • Infographic
  • Digital illustration
  • Digital strategy
  • Branding
Mar 27 2013

UK Department of Energy and Climate Change Infographics – energy bill policy impact

UK Department of Energy and Climate Change Infographics   - energy bill policy impact

  • Design
  • Infographic
  • Digital illustration
  • Digital strategy
  • Branding
Mar 21 2013

Business Wales – Welsh Government Drupal web development

Business Wales

  • Designs
  • Website design
  • Website build
  • Templates for your CMS
  • Drupal content management system
  • Drupal custom web development
  • Information architecture
  • Analytics
  • User needs & persona development
  • Wire frame development
  • Usability
  • Accessibility

Live site: business.wales.gov.uk

Mar 19 2013

Royal College of Anaesthetists – Drupal web site design

Royal College of Anaesthetists

  • Designs
  • Website design
  • Website build
  • Templates for your CMS
  • Drupal content management system
  • Drupal custom web development
  • Analytics
  • Information architecture
  • Wire frame development
  • Usability
  • Accessibility

Live site: www.rcoa.ac.uk

Mar 17 2013

Welsh Universities Technocamps – Drupal web site design

Technocamps

  • Designs
  • Website design
  • Website build
  • Templates for your CMS
  • Drupal content management system
  • Drupal custom web development
  • Analytics
  • Information architecture
  • Wire frame development
  • Usability
  • Accessibility

Live site: www.technocamps.com

Mar 8 2013

CITB – Web development

CITB

  • Designs
  • Website design
  • Website development
  • Templates for your CMS
  • EpiServer content management system
  • EpiServer custom web development
  • Information architecture
  • Analytics
  • Focus groups, workshops
  • User needs & persona development
  • Wire frame development
  • Usability, usability testing
  • Accessibility

Live site: www.citb.co.uk

Mar 1 2013

Happy St David’s Day

The team at S8080 wish you all a very happy St David’s Day – Wales’ national day. Treat yourself to a bunch of daffodils for your desk and knock up a batch of Welsh Cakes.

The persistent winter rain seems to have stopped for the moment and the mornings and evenings are getting lighter. It looks like spring is finally with us. A wonderful time of year.

Our good friends at Wales.com asked us to help them celebrate St David’s Day by creating a little interactive and iPad friendly fun. Visit their interactive home and learn more about Wales.

s8080 ipad interactive home

Jan 22 2013

Web design for CAMHS

Surrey Camhs website design by S8080

 

Over the past couple of years, we’ve worked on several web design projects for CAMHS organisations (child and adolescent mental health services). CAMHS websites bring there own special set of challenges due to the young audience and the sensitive nature of the subject matter.

Our first was the Surrey CAMHS website, which was seen as groundbreaking and showed what could be done when a user centred design approach was adopted. We then designed and built two websites for Coventry and Warwickshire NHS – the Moodleton site for younger children and a mobile app based web development for young adults.

Just before Christmas, we started work on another CAMHS web development for a third NHS Partnership trust (more information soon), with a series of alignment meetings with the comms team and the practitioners.

These meetings help us shape the personas, information architecture and web site wireframes and are a valuable forum for brainstorming ideas for engaging the young audiences from the actual people who work with them to overcome their problems.

Content management systems

All of the web sites use a content management system (Drupal, Umbraco, WordPress, even SharePoint in Coventry and Warwickshire’s case) to enable the comms teams to update the website without having to ask a web design agency.

Having a CMS website also means the practitioners can offer up to date advice and information to parents, carers and professionals as well as the young people quickly and efficiently.

The use of open source CMS software means that available budget can be used to develop interactive elements and even mobile website design rather than hefty software license fees.

camhs moodleton website design by S8080

Branding

As you can imagine, each NHS Partnership Trust has very strict brand guidelines, but it’s often the case that their brand agency aren’t digital experts, so it falls to us to extend their brand identity to work well online and for the young target audiences.

During our stakeholder meetings and requirements gathering, we often hear “we don’t want it to look like an NHS website – it puts the young people off”. This is where creative design, carefully balanced with adherence to the brand guidelines comes into play. You can see above how the NHS brand is placed, but the focus is on the creative, characters and the sub brand.

Coming to CAMHS

coming to camhs website design by S8080

Being referred to CAMHS is a difficult time for young people, their carers and families, and a little consideration of how they are actually feeling (and this is where the practitioner’s input into the web site design is so valuable) can help them understand why they feel the way they do, how they can be helped and who will help them.

If you would like to chat about how S8080 could help you design your CAMHS website, call 01792 485566 and ask for me, Chris Cowell, or email info@s8080.com.

Jan 2 2013

Happy New Year

Welcome back to work. We hope today isn’t too demanding 🙂

happy_new_year_S8080

Dec 21 2012

Bespoke web design and web development – a quick round up of some of magic in 2012

What a seriously good year. So many great projects and fantastic new teams to work with.

We’ve been busy, busy, busy designing and developing Open Source CMS’s with Drupal and WordPress being favourites alongside .NET development on Umbraco, and a very exciting project using the Enterprise CMS EpiServer… and of course all of the projects have been wrapped up in our in-demand web usability, consultancy and legendary design!

business.wales.gov.uk – a custom Drupal web design and build

Bespoke web design and development of Business Wales on DrupalAn agile, rapid web usability phase that ran in parallel with our designers who were developing a website re-brand, meant we were ready to start the custom bilingual Drupal website build in record time. Working with the fantastic Business Wales web team meant the long days (and nights), working to super tight deadlines, was truly appreciated!

 

www.visitleevalley.org.uk – bespoke .NET CMS development

Built and deployed to maximise the re-branding of Lee Valley and to promote the Olympic White Water Centre, VeloPark and the Hockey and Tennis Centre well in time for team GB to rack up 120 medals… so lots of custom .NET development, creative design, illustration and a website rebrand, UX and integration into 3rd party systems.

 

Creative and online branding

S8080’s creative team weave their magic into every single project that leaves our doors – beautifully designed email, banner and social marketing campaigns, web builds, interactive content, video and our own special pieces we do a few times a year. We love it…

S8080 digital agency team

Our web usability and consultancy

2012 – Wow! We ran so many stakeholder workshops, generated hundreds of personas, ran card sorting sessions and in the process scribbled on a small forest’s worth of recyclable post it notes! Plenty of in-depth user testing, eye tracking and accessibility testing of our work along the way meant we delivered better informed and highly tuned websites to grateful audiences.

EPiServer Partner status

The .NET tech team worked hard in 2012, building on their skills to become qualified Enterprise CMS EPiServer developers – they enjoyed the challenge and are loving working on the new platform – more exciting things coming in the New Year!

http://www.s8080blog.com/s8080-gain-episerver-partner-status/

Digital marketing and SEO

Our online marketing and SEO consultants have been working on a number of SEO and content marketing projects, poring over raw data, generating detailed coffee fueled online marketing and SEOkey phrase research, SEO and social media technical audits and ensuring that robust SEO and on page optimisation is fused into our whole UX, design and build process.

This work dovetails perfectly with our email marketing campaign and email newsletter work – list management, design, distribution and live tracking and analytics that keep marketing teams very happy indeed!

 

environment agency river level mobile app development

Mobile & Apps

More and more of our sites are being optimised for mobile and tablet consumption with HTML5 replacing Flash development for interactive elements. We have some exciting web app developments that will be launched in 2013… watch this space.

 

 

 

 

Number10.gov.uk – we’re all still very proud of the our branding and design

Of course the on-going success of our web design of Number10.gov.uk on WordPress brings a smile to our face every time we get an email from the Prime Minister’s office!

no10 downing street email

 

13 years and growing…

So 2012 was S8080’s 13th year… huge demand has meant we’ve grown again. Three talented technical developers joined the team further growing our Drupal, bespoke PHP, Front end dev and heavy .NET development capacity.

So, a fantastic year and 2013 is loaded with more fun projects to keep the whole team entertained and smiling!

We’re looking forward to working with you.