Blog

Lanetech’s blog includes short articles on website design and development, Internet services, SEO and social media. Some of the articles are based around common questions that our clients ask us, and some are just for fun. We hope you find the blog helpful!

david powell in myeloma charity t-shirt

Lanetech’s director to run for Myeloma UK

We are delighted to announce that the Director of Lanetech, David Powell, and his family will be running in the Baxters River Ness 10K on Sunday, 29 September. David and co. will be running for Myeloma UK  and hope to raise valuable funds for the Charity. Myeloma is a bone marrow cancer and Myeloma UK is the only organisation in the UK that deals exclusively with this type of cancer, providing support to patients and families when they need it most. David has been getting in shape over the summer 🙂 and hopes to complete the course in well under 1 hour. If you would like to support David and his family in their run for the Myeloma UK charity, you can do this online via Just Giving. All donations will be most gratefully received! Go David!

lanetech website screen grab

Our new responsive website design!

Lanetech is pleased to announce that we have revamped our website 🙂 using a Responsive Design, in recognition that almost a third of our website visitors use mobile devices (measured using Google Analytics).

Responsive Design is an approach to web design and development that uses fluid layouts, resizable images and different CSS style rules to automatically adjust to the device that the user is accessing the website on. — E.g., the image above shows how our portfolio section looks on a laptop computer and on a smartphone. Responsive design is not new, but it is becoming increasingly popular as more and more people use their mobile phones and tablets to access the Internet. Rather than tiny text and tiny buttons, responsive design helps websites look great across devices and eliminates the need for users to constantly zoom in and out of content.

An alternative approach to Responsive Design is to create a separate mobile website. Mobile websites are usually a simpler (stripped down) version of the standard website that reads better on small screens and is optimized to load quickly. As we recently blogged, website usability guru Jakob Nielsen thinks that you should make separate mobile websites. However, many people in the Industry disagree, not least because the full content is available with Responsive Design.

For anyone considering a new website or a redesign, we recommend that you think responsive! Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss a responsive website design.

edinbane pottery google map custom Street View panorama

Create a virtual tour using Google Street View

We thought you might be interested to learn how one of our clients, Edinbane Pottery, has created a Google Map custom Street View panorama to allow virtual visitors to ‘walk’ off the street and explore inside the Pottery. Many people are familiar with StreetView, the technology featured in Google Maps that provides panoramic views from positions along many streets in the world, and many websites incorporate a Google Map, but we don’t see many custom Street Views (or virtual tours). It’s by no means a cinch to create, you will need to create or commission your own 360 degree panorama photographs and add some code to your website. However, as you can see the overall effect is very impressive!

Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss adding a Google Map custom Street View panorama to your website.

Google Penguin update: has your search traffic dropped?

PenguinGoogle are constantly working to improve the quality of their search results. As such, they are committed to fighting spammy websites — websites that use aggressive SEO tactics in order to get their website ranking higher in search results, such as keywords repeated again and again (keyword stuffing), excessive use of advertisements, hidden text, and buying lots of inbound links. Such tactics focus on search engines and not the user experience.

Google’s latest release of their anti-web spam algorithm named Penguin 2.0 has caused a stir by hurting some SEO firms and business owners while helping others. Lanetech websites are built using best practices to help Google find, index, and rank sites, meaning that our customers probably won’t be impacted by the update at all. But, as a general comment regards websites not built by us, we recommend that you use Google Analytics to compare your organic search traffic from Google a few days before and in the days after Google Penguin launched on April 24; if you notice a drop in traffic, you may have a Penguin problem.

As always, please do get in touch if you would like to discuss options for optimising your website.

e-availability introduces follow up emails for online ticket sales

Today, people assume that it should be possible to purchase tickets for any event online, ideally from the event organiser’s website. Our partner business, e-availability, provides a wide range of online booking systems. The Ticketing system is the most popular, which is ideal for any ticketing- or events- based business. Working with some of our clients, we have recently added a Customer Feedback feature to the system that can help to build positive customer relationships. If activated, emails can be created according to each event and automatically delivered to customers the day after the event. For example, you could request feedback by return email, a review on Facebook or TripAdvisor, or offer discounts/coupons.

Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss our range of online booking and ticketing systems or to see a demo!

The importance of designing a good mobile user experience

Jakob Nielsen photo

I’m fresh back from The ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. The highlight for me was an invited talk by Jakob Nielsen, principle of the Nielsen Norman Group, a user experience firm. Nielsen has been described as “knowing more about what makes Web sites work than anyone else on the planet”. — For anyone interested in website usability and design, I recommend his Alertbox newsletter!

One point he made that struck a chord was the parallel between the early years of website design and the here and now. In the early years, many websites were simple reproductions of printed brochures that did not take into consideration the dynamic qualities of the Web and offered a suboptimal user experience. Today, many websites designed for desktop computers are being accessed on mobile devices, and don’t work because they fail to take into account a range of factors including small screen sizes and reduced bandwidth. Nielsens’s point was that the desktop user interface platform differs from the mobile user interface platform and consequently a good mobile user experience requires a different design than for desktop users.

For those with Google Analytics, we recommend tracking the number of visits to your website using mobile devices – you might be surprised. As always, please do get in touch if you would like to discuss options for optimising your website.

Show up across the Web with Google Places for Business

Google Places iconAccording to Google, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online. We wanted to remind our customers of a free tool to make sure your business stands out: Google Places for Business. Sign-up is quick, easy and free. Simply sign in to your Google Account at http://www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness/ (or Sign Up if you don’t yet have an Account). You will then be able to add your listing to Google Places for Business. This includes your business contact details, hours, photos and a Google map. Your business should then show up on Google Maps and in organic search results – if you check, remember to add your City/Town (e.g., e-availability Forres). You can visit Google Places anytime to edit your information or see how many people have seen and clicked on your listing. Once up and running, our tip would be to ask real customers over time to add a review, as reviews with a 4 or 5 star rating will boost your search engine optimisation (SEO) for the Google Places page. As always, please do get in touch if you would like to discuss SEO options.

Here’s to easter eggs: digital and chocolate versions!

It’s Easter so I’m away very soon to eat chocolate 🙂 But, in the world of technology, Easter Eggs are those hidden gems that software developers secretly code into products – it’s up to us to discover them by chance. I remember years ago serendipitously discovering my first Easter Egg in Quark Xpress: when you deleted a text box with a shortcut command, an alien marched across the screen and zapped it. Great fun! Google is notorious for adding Easter Eggs to its products and services – try searching for “do a barrel roll” and watch the browser screen spin around – and Apple iPhone’s Siri is chocabloc (excuse the pun) with Easter Eggs – our favourite is asking Siri to “Open the pod bay doors” (try it!). Well, enjoy your Easter Eggs – both digital and chocolate versions! Our office will be closed on Easter Monday. We will be providing support, but on a very limited basis. For any urgent issues, please email support@e-availability.com. We will do our best to respond to your enquiry within 24 hours.

Isle of Colonsay’s new website goes live!

Isle of Colonsay Interactive MapWe are delighted to announce that the new website for the Isle of Colonsay on the west coast of Scotland, designed and developed by Lanetech, has gone live!

Lanetech won the tender from Colonsay Community Development Company. The website will play a central role as an information hub for prospective tourists. A key feature is an interactive map built using Google Maps API. The map uses colour-coded dots to pinpoint hotels, B&Bs, self-catering cottages and hostels on the island. Clicking a dot opens a pop-up window with full information and contact details for the accommodation provider, and a calendar showing availability. We are proud to report that the Director of Colonsay Community Development Company has told us that the new website has been met with glowing reviews from users with feedback being universally positive!

Please do get in touch if you’d like Lanetech to add an interactive map to your website – for other examples of maps by Lanetech see Visit Sleat’s interactive map and Western Isles Property’s interactive map.

Social whodunnit competition launches in India

Just for fun 🙂 a great article by the New Scientist… An experiment by Microsoft Research called the WhoDunnit? Challenge launches this month to see how people living in India will collaborate to solve a puzzle that relies on teamwork and mobile phones. Participants call a Microsoft number, which triggers a text message to the caller containing one of five clues. Only one clue will be sent to each phone, and some clues will be extremely rare, so that participants have to collaborate with an estimated 500 others to solve the problem, for which there is a prize of 100,000 rupees. The researchers are leaving it up to competitors to decide how to collaborate e.g., using social networks around work or school. One of Microsoft’s team pointed out that people who interact with many individuals, such as rickshaw drivers, could do well! The challenge is also an attempt to see how competitors share methods, which could be employed by local governments in other types of searches, such as for missing persons. See full article. – This article also reminds us of the ubiquity of mobiles phones, I think our next post will pick up on the mobile web…!

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