Is IoT Innovation Or Intrusion?

We’re not far away from being a hyper-connected society with smart household appliances that can communicate with multiple devices. And companies.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the grand scheme of technology corporations that will supposedly make our lives more convenient and provide solutions to a smarter lifestyle.

The idea of a fridge that knows when you are out of milk or the jam is past its sell by date seems like a good idea. So does flicking the kettle on from your mobile phone before you’ve even dragged yourself out of bed.

IoT is set to be the next wave of growth in the technological revolution and whilst there are advantages, is there also a dark side and it mean an invasion of your privacy?

Is total connectivity really that smart?

We are already seeing IoT taking shape in Britain. The US and some countries in the EU too. The government-led initiative to install smart meters in every home is the best example to date.

Smart-Energy-Meter_3375886bEnergy companies claim smart meters will help households monitor their energy output and enable bill payers to reduce fuel costs by using less electricity.

Smart meters know which appliances you are using and at what time of day you are using them. They even know when you have left the house. And all this information is shared with energy firms.

Where will it end? The smarter technology gets, the more opportunities brands have to interact with consumers and nosey into your private life.

And when you consider how interconnected we will be once wearables function, IoT starts to sound Orwellian. The next stage will be micro-chipping.

The convenience of consumerism

Privacy of course is a personal matter. Brands have the capacity to improve the life of their customers and IoT enables them to offer a personalised service that can offer genuine help.

Some people will be okay with this and can enjoy the benefits.

Smart refrigerator with LCD screen

Smart refrigerator with LCD screen

Let’s use the fridge example again. If you shop at Tesco and you let them receive messages from your fridge, they can compile a shopping list and have it sent to your home without having to do more than a few swipes and a click on your smartphone. You can do your shopping on the bus. Or in your driverless car.

The potential for brands to build customer loyalty will be unrivalled once IoT is in full swing, but how will consumers react to persistent communication? Regardless of how personal the message is, it’s still marketing.

But IoT gives brands more insight when to market to their customers. People do not tolerate misplaced marketing messages that contain offers they are not interested in or they receive too many emails.

If brands know when it is okay to send a message, consumers will find this more acceptable. Therefore sharing personal information with trusted brands through IoT may have personal dividends and help to manage your lifestyle.

Whilst there is still a risk of intrusion, and conspiracy theorists claim IoT is 24-hour surveillance, the potential benefits will outweigh concerns of not having any privacy. It’s just the internet in everything.

Could FlipBook Technology Change How We Interact With Websites?

How many times have you heard readers say they prefer to devour proper print magazines and paperback books rather than engage with content using a digital device?

Well, the real-life reading experience could soon become widespread in the digital sphere.

Advancements in web technology over the last few years are gathering pace. The ways we can interact with brands and one another are creating new and exciting experiences.

Ideas that were projected in science-fiction since the 60’s and 70’s are now becoming a reality and as we tilt on the brink of a revolution in web technology, user-experiences promise to get even better.

A recent development we find interesting is flipbooks. Although the technology has been knocking around for nigh on a decade, attempts to utilise the software in a business setting failed.

Thanks to HTML5, previous issues have largely been resolved. Now publishers have the tools to create online magazines, catalogues, brochures and many other document types that are possible offline.

The graphics and animations provided by flipbook technology are stunning and allow online marketers to replicate print publications digitally. Glamour magazines and glossy brochures are even more eye-popping on high-definition screens than they are on page.

The benefits flipbooks offer publishers indicate the web could experience a revolution in the way we access content and interact with the websites. The technology is already there.

Interactive web content

The emergence of flipbooks provides readers with a platform that allows them to interact with the page. The days of scrolling may become a thing of the past as swiping takes us back to the traditional style of reading.

Flipbooks look and feel like print magazines. By swiping or clicking in the corner, the page turns over just like traditional print publications you hold in your hand. Audio effects even sound like the turning of a page.

Now that augmented reality is likely to be a real possibility in the next few years, internet users will have real-world experiences online. And flipbook technology has the potential for readers to rediscover the experience of reading a ‘proper’ book.

Furthermore, motion technology already exists in computer games and TV’s. Readers won’t even have to touch the screen to turn the page. 3D imaging, software that has taken huge leaps in recent years will provide the visuals that round off a truly immersive experience.

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 14.42.56The package of 3D imaging, motion gesture and augmented reality provides a formidable weapon for web designers to launch on the internet. For the time being flipbooks make it conceivable for the technology to impact on the way we access content.

But there is also the potential for web developers to adopt existing technologies in web designs which would dramatically change the way in which we interact with websites. Such as the interactive creatures on the website we created for Bush Grub.

Take every memory or dream you have about technology in science-fiction and imagine how that could become a reality. The prospects are mesmerising and exciting.

It’s fair to say that some of the ideas are a long way off becoming a reality just yet. But for book lovers, the real-world experience in a digital space is already happening.

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Design Tips From the White House!

Being creative director at the White House is one of the most high profile jobs in the design industry. Until just a few weeks ago, the person in charge of the President’s creative output was Ashleigh Axios. Tasked with “conceiving and managing the execution of projects to engage the American public about Obama’s policies – as well as presenting the US President in a favourable light”, this is a job not for the faint hearted.

Make your content engaging

shareIf there’s one thing that governmental design has to be, it’s engaging. The projects that Ashleigh Axios was working on were designed to connect with the public, explain policies and make the American people feel included and involved with the work the President was doing.

When President Obama revolutionised the American healthcare system, the creative team at the White House had him explain the changes and the new system on a popular YouTube show. This made the policy a lot more accessible to everyday people and made the changes seem more human and more relevant than if they’d been announced from a podium in front of the press.

Create a diverse workforce

In order to appeal to a diverse audience, you need to have a diverse workforce. The Obama administration was the first to include interns from the opposing party in its design team. Though they kept these Republicans well away from the Twitter account, this enabled the designers to come up with ideas that would appeal to a wider cross section of the public.

A diverse workforce is also better able to innovate and come up with new and exciting ideas, two things that can make a big difference to the quality and the effectiveness of your output.

Don’t be afraid to have fun

Though many of the design projects carried out by the creative team at the White House are serious and important, they haven’t shied away from poking fun at the President and the administration when appropriate.

Playing with your brand and being brave enough to make fun of your organisation is a great way to show a more human side of your company. It also shows that you have confidence in your business and that you have a strong corporate identity.

Embrace your mistakes

Whether you’re the head of a local design company or the President of the United States, mistakes will happen. Owning up to your errors and learning from the things that didn’t go quite right with help you to grow as a professional and ensure that the decisions you make in the future are the right ones.

For more design tips and ideas, have a look around our site today.

4 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Website

If you own a business, you’re probably online. Which means you have a website. It looks great, maybe performs okay. All in all you’re pretty pleased.

But did your last web designer (or current) tell you anything you would not ordinarily know about your website? If not, we will!

14142288153251886811. You don’t have to register your website with search engines

There are still some web design agencies and SEO companies charging their clients to register their domain with search engines. It used to be the case that websites had to be submitted to search engines for indexing, but algorithms are so sophisticated nowadays webpages are visited by little crawler bots and indexed automatically.

2. You can say what you like

There is an unspoken protocol throughout every industry that commands businesses to be polite and respectful to their customers. As a result every company is nice on the surface and all put a glossy shine over people’s problems. But if it’s your website, you can say what you like! You will attract more customers than you lose by standing up and being brave so dare to be different.

3. Your website communicates to your audience

shareWe covered colour psychology in an earlier post, so if you don’t think your website communicates to people, think again. Design and colour communicate to your audience and evokes emotions. That may effect you customer so much that they decided to share your site on social media bringing even more people to your site.

But even on a basic level, visitors to your website will pass judgement about the way it looks and performs. If you have an out-dated design for example, your business appears old-fashioned and neglected.

If your site is not easy to navigate you appear disorganised and untrustworthy. If your product descriptions are vague you appear lazy and unhelpful. Either way, visitors will leave.

4. Web maintenance is easier than you think

The majority of website updates are fairly simple and only take about 30 minutes to perform. To be fair, your website has to be constructed well in the first place otherwise you will run into complications.

But for most professional web agencies, it’s a relatively straight forward task – so easy in fact you could probably do it yourself through your content management system.

So there you go, four things you didn’t know about your website, but now you do!

What Do Colours Really Mean And Does It Matter?

When you look at a colour what do you think?

If you are like most people you will ordinarily like it, or nor like it. Or you might be indifferent. This is what your conscious mind thinks.

Yet colours are much more powerful and have a resonating affect on our sub-conscious mind – the mysterious unconsciousness we have within us that stirs our emotions. It is the sub-conscious mind that colours communicate with. Therefore colours have an affect on how we feel whether we are consciously aware of it or not. Furthermore, every colour emits a different emotion.

Why some colours evoke emotion

Psychologists say colours are rooted in your experience and culture. This revelation comes as quite a shock to many people despite knowledge of colour psychology kicking about for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians and the Chinese used colour for therapeutic purposes.

Modern day researchers are rediscovering this phenomenon. Studies show that colour has an effect on mood, feelings and behaviour. And major corporations know colours influence purchasing decisions.

Have you noticed how banks often use blue in their colour scheme? This is not a coincidence. Supermarkets use orange or yellow. There is a reason for that. It’s the same reason fast-food chains use red in their brand logos.

Bright colours stimulate your sub-conscious and compel you to act hastily. There is something sexy and racy about red that burns us with desire. There’s a reasons the high street’s turn red in the lead up to Valentine’s day.

Why colour is an important part of design

The reason fast-food restaurants and supermarkets use red, yellow or orange is because they evoke a sense of urgency. There is something in our sub-conscious mind that compels us to act hastily when we see bright colours.

You may notice that a lot of eCommerce sites also include bright colours. Buy buttons on websites are often orange, yellow or bright green. That’s because web designers understand the psychology of colours.

Now think about social media networks. What colour springs to mind? Are you thinking blue? The leading social networks all feature some form of blue in their logo other than Google+… but Google includes blue in its company logo.

This is because blue creates the sensation of trust, security and authority. This is why the NHS and numerous insurance companies use shades of blue. Look around and you will find an emerging trend in colour association.

So do you still think colour psychology is a load of old nonsense?

If you do, then you are probably not evoking the emotion you want in your customers. Does the colour of your logo and website reflect how you want customers to perceive your brand?

The colour and design of your website, logo and marketing materials have more sway over your audience than you may think!

5 Web Design Lessons we can learn from the Biggest Sites around

Though it is constantly evolving and adapting to fit our changing needs, there are some principals of web design that hold true no matter what the content, style and purpose of a website is.

If you’re thinking about redesigning your site or are already in the process of giving it a facelift, check out these web design lessons that we can all learn from the biggest web giants out there.

facebook1. Facebook

Facebook has undergone regular updates over the years with each altering the layout and look and the social network.

One of the main lessons we can take from Facebook comes from its layout. Take a look at your homepage and you’ll see that all of the links you need to post, comment, search and message are right there in front of you. Visitors who want to look at more posts from friends and groups can scroll down their news feed at their leisure.

 

2. AirbnbScreen Shot 2016-04-19 at 16.40.31

For such a complex business, the Airbnb site is incredibly simple and easy to use. The main homepage is dominated by a full size video, while the copy of the site is limited to essential information only.

One aspect of the Airbnb site that’s especially impressive is the way they’ve placed the focus on credibility, using their star system and reviews to help reassure users that hosts are trustworthy and reliable.

wiki-logo

3. Wikipedia

The Wikipedia site offers a master class in how to keep web design simple. Containing almost no colour, no unnecessary links, no advertising and no gimmicks, Wikipedia is a great example of a content focused site that’s designed with the user in mind.

 

 

4. Google1414228815325188681

Like Wikipedia, the Google homepage keeps things simple. Though it’s one of the most used and most visited sites on the web, the Google main page is made up of large areas of white space, helping visitors to focus on the search bar and the task in hand.

 

instagram-logo5. Instagram

Instagram is a great example of placing the most important content on a site front and centre. Users’ photos are very much the star attraction on the site, with all other content kept to a minimum.

The site is also incredibly easy to use, with the accompanying app helping amateur photographers enhance their snaps and create works of art.

 

 

If there’s one thing we can learn from these titanic sites, it’s that less is more. Keeping it simple, focusing on usability and ensuring the most important content is clear and easy to find will help you to create an eye-catching site that’s stylish and practical

Get in touch with a member of our team to find out more.

How does the Budget Affect Small sized Businesses?

If you’re the owner of a small or medium sized business, you’ll know just how big of an impact small changes in tax rules can have on a company’s finances.

That’s why small and medium sized business owners where watching the Chancellor’s recent budget more keenly than almost anyone else. Looking to see how the new changes will affect them and their business, SMEs across the country will be trying to work exactly what the new budget means for them.

Business rates

One of the biggest changes to affect small and medium sized businesses is the raising of the threshold for business rates. At the moment, businesses that occupy commercial premises worth £6,000 a year in rent or more have to pay business rates.

These rates vary across the country but are generally calculated using a formula that takes into account the size of a business and its location. Often extremely costly, business rates make it hard for small and medium sized businesses to establish themselves in the market.

Under the Chancellor’s new plan, the annual threshold for small business rates relief is to be raised from £6,000 to £15,000 while the higher rate threshold will also be increased from £18,000 to £51,000. This should benefit around 850,000 businesses across the UK.

george osbourne

Tax breaks for micro-entrepreneurs

The Chancellor created two new tax free allowances in his budget for ‘micro-entrepreneurs’: people who make occasional profits through selling products online or renting out their home, car or other services via the ‘sharing economy’.

Under the new rules, these low income startups won’t have to pay tax on the first £1,000 they earn, making life a lot simpler for those trying to make a bit of extra cash on the side.

Stamp duty

Changes to stamp duty will affect businesses that are looking to buy or sell their premises. Under the new rules, the commercial stamp duty rate of 0% will apply to purchases up to £150,000, there will be a tax of 2% on the next £100,000 and the 5% top rate will apply above £250,000. There will also be a new 2% rate for high-value leases with a net present value of more than £5m per year.

Competition

The chancellor also announced a number of reforms designed to help small businesses cope with unfair competition from foreign enterprises. Under the new rules, overseas retailers won’t be able to store goods in the UK without paying VAT, something that should level the playing field when it comes to online selling.

Overall, the new budget is good news for small businesses. Growing companies should find it easier to thrive while increased investment will make it easier to drive business forward, increase profits and make companies more successful.

To find out how investing in your company’s web presence could help you to take advantage of new business opportunities, or to find out more about our services, get in touch with a member of our team today.

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Changes to Google Adwords and Other SEO Updates

At the end of February, Google announced that it was getting rid of its right hand ads bar for good. Users browsing the web from a desktop or laptop computer would no longer see a dedicated advertising column on the right hand side of their search engine results page, instead, ads will be incorporated into the main part of the results listings.

Though this may not sound like a groundbreaking change, it will affect both the user experience and the way that companies use Adwords and other SEO techniques. Understanding exactly what these changes mean for business will help you steer your SEO in the right direction and ensure your company isn’t left behind be the updates.

Why change?

Whenever Google updates its algorithms, working practices, logo or layout, there’s always a reason behind the change. One of the main factors motivating this change is the fact that Google believed the right hand ad bar simply didn’t work.

The tech giant started playing around with the right hand side bar a few months ago, removing it from certain searches and placing more paid ads in the results column. Google carried out a number of studies, including research that involved tracking eye movement, and found that users are much more likely to click on an add if it appears more naturally on the results page.

What does this mean for paid ads?

 

The number of ads shown on a search engine results page will shrink from around eleven to a maximum of seven. This means that competition for high value search terms will sky rocket and that Google will be able to ask a higher price for their Adwords.

Competition for places on the first page of the results listings is likely to become even fiercer, forcing paid advertisers to invest even more in their SEO marketing.

Is that the end for organic results?

With up to four paid ads at the top of the SERP and three at the bottom, the number of organic results on a page will be limited. What’s more, the paid ads at the top of the page will push organic ads ‘below the fold’ so users will have to scroll down to see results that have appeared organically.

This means that businesses that still want to appear on page one of Google – or to maintain their position wherever they currently appear in the listings – will need to put a lot of effort into ensuring their SEO is as good as possible.

If your company website needs a little TLC to bring it fully up to date, or you’d like to find out more about improving your SEO, get in touch with us or have a look around our website.

Awesome Examples of Packaging Design

The packaging of a product plays a huge part in creating its identity and making it attractive to its target audience. Done well, packaging can transform an everyday product into an iconic piece of design, making the contents even more attractive to prospective buyers and ensuring the product a place in design history.

Though it takes a little more time, imagination and creativity to come up with original and innovative packaging design, the extra effort you or your marketing team put in will be well worth it when your product hits the shelves. To get inspired and get your creative juices flowing, here are a few examples of outstanding packaging design.

Parmesan pencil

parmesan-pencil

Sometimes an idea makes so much sense, it’s hard to believe no one else thought of it before. If you like to enjoy your parmesan in thin, delicate sheaves, this original packaging design will suit you perfectly.   

Moulded into the shape of a pencil, the parmesan can easily be shaved from the stick using a special ‘sharpener’. Incredibly effective and easy to use, this tasty piece of stationery will transform meal times forever.

Fruity toilet paperfruity-roll

The perfect product for anyone who wants to add a bit of colour to their downstairs loo, this fruit themed toilet paper transforms a functional, everyday product into a fun interior design accessory.

air-shoebox

Air Shoebox

The perfect shoebox for Nike Air Trainers, this innovative design may not be the most environmentally friendly piece of packaging, but it does help the product to really stand out from the crowd. Helping to create an even stronger brand image, this unique shoebox is a great example of conceptual packaging design.

 

 

Fitness-inspired shopping bagshopping-bag

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most effective.This fitness-inspired shopping bag is a great example of how a creative mind can transform the look of a product with just a single image.

Turning a standard bag into an interactive piece of art, this clever twist will help keep the brand, and the product, in shoppers’ minds for longer.

 

Which Bug’s a Bug?

CWM Brand portfolio-Bush GrubWhen designing the packaging for these Bush Tucker Trial inspired chocolates, the team at Clockwork Moggy used many of the innovative and creative design techniques we’ve looked at.

Using the same colour scheme that viewers of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here will be familiar with, and incorporating a bright, bold splash of jungle imagery, we’ve created a fun and eye-catching range of products.

To find out more about our packaging or graphic design services, have a look around our site or get in touch with a member of our team.

Scam alert: Domain Notification for yourdomain.com : This is your Final Notice of Domain Listing

Watch out for this spam email. Today I received this email:emailscreenshot

It looks urgent and official, but it’s not.

Look at the email address – [email protected] That’s not your domain registrar, that’s not anyone’s domain registrar.

I highly recommend that you do NOT click the links in this email. However in the interests of this article I investigated the link changing the last part from my own domain to google.com and ran it through a proxy to safeguard myself this is the page that comes back.

websitescreenshotAs you can see what they are actually doing is selling packages to submit your domain to search engines.
Looking back at the email you can see that in small print it says:
“Do not discard, this notice is not an invoice it is a courtesy reminder to register your domain name search engine listing so your customers can locate you on the web.”

Regular search engine submissions went extinct decades ago, nowadays once a search engine has found your domain then you never have to resubmit.

If you receive this email don’t be fooled by the trick and certainly don’t pay them any money.

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