What does good design mean?

For us it’s the perfect marriage between functionality and aesthetics.

We see it in nature, architecture, fashion, interiors, engineering… Some days it might be a tulip, the Brooklyn Bridge, or a Ducati 916 that catches your eye.

Today, it’s the simple, honest form of the Wishbone Chair by Hens Wegner.


Are images more important than words ?

We’ve mentioned before about how the attention span of readers is much more brief when browse online. In real terms you have mere seconds to grab the attention of a visitor to your business website and keep them there. So what’s the best way to capture their attention and keep them reading? Even better, what’s the best way to have them explore further and convert to becoming a paying customer? The words you use are important, but images can be even more powerful.

Here’s why…You are likely to be aware that everyone has their own style of learning and absorbing information. Some people like a written description, others like pictures and some like a hands-on approach. In general, by far the most captivating tool is to use good quality images though.

Think of it this way… A clearly written product or service description is important. It will tell the reader what you want them to gain from visiting your page, or give them all the details about the product or service you are promoting. It may take them anything from a few seconds to a minute to read it and at the end you will have given them exactly what you want them to know.

John Lewis Christmas Ad

Pictures ARE campaigns in their own right! An image can convey a whole campaign in moments. It has the power to evoke feelings and emotions – why do you think John Lewis spends millions on their Christmas advertising campaign to try and make us emotional?! Pictures have power. The key is to make sure that the message is accurately portrayed and conveys exactly what you want it to say.

A good image helps your potential buyers to visualise what it is you are offering. They are the headline, tag line and copy, all in one. With a picture you can tell a whole story in far less space than words. This is especially useful if you are paying for advertising space. A picture is a good old shop window display, tempting customers in and helping them to pick you over your competitors.

So what sort of images should you use? It’s important to use original pictures wherever possible. If you sell products made by others, it’s worth the time and effort to create your own images, rather than use any generic content that comes with the stock. This is also true of descriptions. Of course, there are many sources for generic images online, which can be used to illustrategeneral points and to make posts more interesting. When using them, look for licensing that allows you to reuse with modification. That way you can crop and even add to images if you wish, making them different. This means that amongst the many others who will have just used the standard image, your post will be that little bit different.

Make sure any stock photos you use are relevant to your post and business – as well as to your audience. This is very important. Check any text that is visible in the images, make sure it’s in your language, or the language of the audience you are trying to reach. Check the backgrounds and any stickers or posters that may be visible. This is what you would do if you were taking the photograph yourself.

There are both free and paid for stock photographs available. Choose carefully and check the websites first. Often images will be advertised across many platforms and could be in common use. This is why we suggest looking for those you can modify to make them less generic. Of course, you can also hire a professional photographer to help with headshots – very important to make sure you get these right. But, you can also hire a good technical photographer who specialises in product photography and who will help you to project your products and services in a professional and appealing way. It’s not the cheapest option, but can be very effective and gives you a great portfolio of images for future posts.

There is also the option of making your own graphics, infograms and illustrations. A platform such as Canva is very good for this and once you get used to it, it’s possible to produce some really professional looking artwork for your posts.

Of course, your other option to to hire a graphic designer. This isn’t the least expensive option, but you can be guaranteed of a professional looking result that considers everything you want to include in the brief. This goes from the basic branding and product information tothe psychology of colour and font choice. It really depends on where you are are in your business and what budget you have available for a campaign or web update.

If you would like to talk to our experts about how MXMG could help your website and posts to maximise their appeal, please get in touch and we will be more than happy to discuss the options with you.


Why Your Business Website Needs a Blog

It’s a well-known fact that regularly updated websites rank higher on search engines and attract more traffic. Yes, it’s important that your website looks good, but that in itself isn’t enough for the Google algorithm. Content is the key to success. There’s no better way to ensure a steady stream of fresh content, than to blog.

Content marketing has become a bit of a buzz-phrase, but blogging is more than that. A good blog will not only tell visitors – and potential customers – what you do, it will also fulfil a whole host of additional functions.  With a good blog, you will be able to tell your story, a key element of good PR. You will also be able to express your personality, help people to get to know you and develop a feel for how you do business. Importantly, a blog allows you to build trust and demonstrate expertise in your business area.

Creating content that your customers will want to read is vital, but how do you know what topics will inspire visitors? The aim of a blog is to encourage people to click, read and ultimately lead them closer to that all-important conversion into becoming customers.  So, what should you write about?

The key is to think about what you do for your customers. Firstly, think about these three points. Make a list for each:

  • Why do people, or organisations need your product or service?
  • What gap, problem or desire does it answer?
  • When customers, or potential clients contact you, what do they ask?

With these lists you have the beginnings of a great topic plan to work through! For example, at MXMG, a few of the top questions we get asked are:

  • How do I make my site visible amongst the millions of other websites on the Internet?
  • Why are there so many WordPress updates? Do I need to install them all?
  • Why do I need a Web Designer?

You’ll see on our list of blog posts, these questions are all covered – and answered!

A good blog will have a mixture of topical and evergreen content. This means some posts will be time-sensitive and relevant to something that is currently in the news, for example, the forthcoming GDPR legislation, or the recent changes to the Facebook algorithm. Evergreen posts will be relevant at the time they are written and for some time in the future, so can be used on an ongoing basis.

In addition to driving traffic to your website via search engines, a regularly updated blog will give you material to promote on social media. This provides an additional avenue to steer and direct new visitors to discover your website.  It can also enable you to provoke engagement by asking your followers how they currently solve a particular problem, whilst leading them to the answer, conveniently on your website.

One thing to remember with a business blog is not to use it for blatant promotion; this is a bad idea and will deter repeat visits.  Think of your business blog as a place where you show off your knowledge and expertise. Don’t be afraid of giving information away; it’s an investment in creating your reputation as an expert and building relationships with your visitors.  Your blog becomes a valuable resource, where existing customers know they can gain information, hints and tips. Meanwhile, potential customers will see evidence to prove that you know what you’re talking about.

Your blog also provides a continuous marketing resource and offers the perfect place for your customers to refer other people.

Remember, when browsing online, people generally have much shorter attention spans now, thanks to the increasing amount of time spent on digital platforms. So, keep your blog posts long enough to cover everything and short enough to maintain interest.  Comprehensively proof read, check spellings and grammar.

Professional writing is not just about being creative, it’s also a technical skill.  If you’re thinking of hiring a copywriter, do your research, check their portfolio and read what they’ve already published.  If your landing page is your online shop window, your blog is your best customer assistant, guiding your visitors to the information they need and showcasing your offer. It’s something that you really need to invest in and one thing you can’t afford to get wrong.

You can also find out about MXMG’s content creation and copywriting services here.


“Instant everywhere” content delivery to mobiles

Yesterday Google announced a new initiative called the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP).

More content is being accessed on mobile devices than ever before, yet the user experience is often painfully slow. It is also frustrating for content publishers who have to compromise on the look and feel of the mobile version of content, not to mention advertisers trying to generate revenue.

The aim of AMP is to make content for mobile phones, particularly news articles, that loads really fast. David Besbris, vice president of engineering for search at Google, said: “We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously. We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant”no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you’re using.”

Google’s initiative is clearly intended to catch up with similar moves by other companies. Earlier this year Facebook launched Instant Articles, aimed at loading articles onto mobile phones ‘as much as 10 times faster than the standard mobile web’. Moments is designed to turn conversations and other content on Twitter into a fast, accessible and coherent narrative, accessible from within Twitter itself.

But these are closed, platform-based solutions that require publishers to sign up with their content. Google has made the AMP Project open-source, so the format will be available to all publishers to implement within their content management systems. WordPress has already announced that it is developing an AMP plugin, and Google has said it hopes that all CMS systems will add support for AMP HTML pages. The initial technical specification has been released on Github, which means that anyone can join in the development fun. Google has announced partnerships with a large group of publishers who will be integrating AMP HTML pages, including Twitter, WordPress, Pinterest, LinkedIn, the BBC and various newspapers. For now you can see a demo of how AMP will work on your mobile.

So what does this mean for your website?

Google insists it won’t penalise websites that aren’t AMP compliant, though earlier this year it started to favour mobile-optimised sites in its search results. Increasing numbers of users will view your website on their mobile or other devices, so it makes sense to offer them the best possible experience.

This is the perfect moment toget in touch with MXMGfor a free assessment of your current website. We will give you no-obligation, expert advice on how to make sure your website and digital strategy is up to date and ready to meet the needs of all your users.


What does the General Data Protection Regulation mean for businesses?

What does the General Data Protection Regulation mean for businesses?

All businesses and organisations keep records containing personal data. It’s unavoidable – if you have customers, employees, job applicants, suppliers, or a mailing list, you need to keep records. Those records will contain data such as contact information, purchases, payments, staff records, etc. Now, the rules around how that data is managed are being tightened under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Companies must have the correct processes in place, before the new regulations apply in May 2018. Time is running out, so what do you need to do?


Additional EU legislation to protect personal information will become law in the UK on 25 May 2018. This is when the General Data Protection Regulation comes into force. It’s important to note that Brexit will not affect the implementation of the new rules. This is because the GDPR will apply to organisations based within the EU, as well as those located outside the EU, who trade within it.

The new rules are being introduced to ensure consistency across international borders. It’s easier than ever to trade with customers and suppliers overseas, so it makes sense to have a standard approach in relation to data.

In order to protect personal information and ensure it is managed within the conditions set out by the GDPR, there will be restrictions placed on the transfer of such data outside of the EU.

The UK Data Protection Act already covers the handling, storage and processing of personal data, so it’s likely that the majority of organisations affected by the GDPR, will already be complying with current legislation. They will need to update and amend their processes to comply with the new rules.

The GDPR places great emphasis on the security of personal data. This is intended to protect people against unauthorised use of, or access to, their data, via cyber-attacks, data breaches, or accidental loss. Organisations have an obligation to implement appropriate measures to properly protect data.

Definition of ‘Personal Data’

The importance of personal data is being formally recognised under the new regulations. There’s a distinct move towards personal data being seen as belonging to an individual, just as much as their DNA does. The new legislation is very consumer-focussed in terms of putting them in greater control over what information is stored and used.

Under the GDPR, the definition of what constitutes ‘personal data’ is wider. In addition to general information, there are additional categories, such as IP addresses, which can be used to identify individuals. This is to keep up with the development of technology and the fact that people are doing more online than ever before.

Essentially though, any information that could identify someone, is personal data – even if that data has been anonymised.

It also applies whether the data is electronic, or manual.


There are several additional responsibilities for businesses in relation to data under the GDPR.

It’s up to the organisation to prove they have consent to store and use data, as well as being able to demonstrate how and why it is used. They must also have documented processes for security.

Consent must be a conscious decision and cannot be assumed or automatically opted into. It must be given with a clear understanding of the purpose for which the information is being collected. People must actively give their consent and be made aware that they can withdraw it at any time. This means you can no longer accept a business card and assume that allows you to add the details to a mailing list.

There must be a valid ‘lawful basis’ for the storage and processing of personal information. Organisations must only use information for the specific purpose it was obtained and nothing more. This already exists in part, under the DPA’s ‘conditions for processing’ but there is greater accountability and a requirement for the ‘lawful basis’ to be properly documented under the GDPR. Steps must also be taken to ensure information is current, kept up-to-date and held for only as long as necessary to fulfil the requirements for which it was collected.

Privacy notifications must include the reason for obtaining and processing data. You may have already received notifications from some of the companies and organisations with whom you have a relationship, telling you about how they are changing the way they handle your personal information. This is evidence of how they are also getting ready for GDPR.

The onus is squarely on the organisation holding the data and accountability is key. In addition to managing and processing rules, there’s an obligation to report certain types of data breach to the relevant authority, for serious breaches, that obligation extends to also notifying the affected individual(s). The breach could be a loss, damage or destruction of data, accidental disclosure, or unauthorised (external, or internal) access to data. The report must be made within 72 hours of becoming aware that such a breach has occurred.

People will also have easier access to the information that is held about them. They can request the information and withdraw permission for it to be kept, or ask for it to be corrected. Companies will have to amend or delete data, as specified. This information must be provided within one month, free of charge, although if requests are repetitious, vexatious or excessive, a reasonable fee may be levied.

Failing to meet the requirements of data management under the GDPR could lead to serious consequences. The upper threshold for fines is a huge €20 Million or 4% of turnover, whichever is greater. If you compare that with previous fines under the UK’s Data Protection Act, where some of the biggest fines ran into hundreds of thousands of pounds, you can see just how big the GDPR’s teeth are.

What should you do now?

  • Prepare your business for the new regulations. Ensure all staff have the relevant information, provide training and, consider certification.
  • Consider carrying out a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA). This is an ICO-recommended tool, which can help to identify any weaknesses in data handling. It also enables an organisation to easily assess how they can effectively meet their obligations under Data Protection legislation. Check out the ICO’s guidance to PIAs.
  • Ensure your data protection policies are documented – including any staff training and certifications.
  • Review your current processes; document existing data handling and security. Audit the data you hold, where it was obtained, the purpose for which you have it and what you do with it. Delete any data you no longer use or need.
  • Index anyone with whom you share data and list the reasons why. Examine how you communicate with people for whom you hold data and how you amend or delete data where necessary.
  • Check your consent and privacy notifications. Do your current consents meet GDPR requirements? If not, get them re-issued and amend your records for any withdrawn or amended consents.
  • Map out the procedures you will need to implement to meet GDPR requirements for the following:
  • Lawful basis. Establish your organisation’s lawful basis for data processing. Make sure you have properly documented it and included it in your privacy notifications.
  • Subject Access Requests. Formalise how you will deal with requests for access to personal data, as well as amendments and deletion of data.
  • Data breaches. Document how you would investigate and where necessary, report a data breach.
  • If necessary, appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) for your organisation. Some organisations, such as public authorities, are required to appoint a DPO, but it can be useful for any organisation to have someone who holds responsibility for ensuring compliance practices are maintained. The DPO – whether formally required, or not – should report at board level, be given adequate resources for undertaking the role and carry out their DPO duties independently.

The full text of the GDPR, can be found here and the EU’s GDPR portal contains additional guidance. The European Commission also has a catalogue of information here, which also contains links to Data Protection Authorities around the world.


Google Adwords has Left the Building – what this means for your business

Google has long been the first choice for web admins and online marketers, when it comes to advertising and analysis. Adwords and Analytics provide data that can help make the most of any website, for everyone from individual bloggers, to SMEs and huge corporates. It’s fair to say though, with Google’s growth and the resulting number of products and assorted brands on offer, it’s all gotten a bit confusing for many advertisers.

Today, more than half of online searches are carried out via a mobile platform. But it’s not only where people carry out searches that has changed, HOW people search and their response to the information they are presented with has also evolved. This meant that Google had to evolve too and become an intrinsic part of the process, connecting consumers to the businesses, information and entertainment they are looking for, whilst providing the opportunities for businesses and providers to get in front of the right people.

Whilst the online experience has undoubtedly become more complex, Google is looking to simplify its offer. This boils down to streamlining the current array of products into three simple elements.

  • Google Ads
  • Google Marketing Platform
  • Google Ad Manager

Here’s a quick look at each of the new brands:

Google Ads is where all of Google’s advertising options will be accessed, no matter whether they’re to be used. The aim is to help marketers make the most of every opportunity to connect with users, across multiple platforms. This means more effective targeting, whether users are seeking solutions on Search, checking out videos on YouTube, exploring Google Maps, or looking for new apps on Google Play.

As part of the offer, small businesses should find it easier to enter the world of paid online advertising, via the new ‘Smart Campaigns’ feature. This service is specifically designed for SMEs, making the creation, management and targeting of ads a quicker and simpler process.

Here, Google wants to help small businesses reach the right people, with intelligent use of data, driving more of the results that business owners and entrepreneurs want to see.

Google Analytics 360 moves to combine with DoubleClick Digital Marketing, rebranded as Google Marketing Platform. This is where businesses will be able to plan, create, analyse and optimise their customer experience. A suite of tools will assist businesses with gaining a better understanding of their potential customers, whilst putting the customer experience at the front and centre of the process. Marketing teams will be able to collaborate on projects and share insights and information, updating and tweaking campaigns as necessary, in order to get the best results.

Google Marketing Platform uses the existing integrations between Google Analytics and DoubleClick products, via the new “Integration Centre”. Here, businesses will be able use data to make their advertising, targeting and conversions much more effective. They will even be able to link products and identify new opportunities for converting sales with valuable insights into visitor profiles and activity.

Google Ad Manager is all about the money; creating a complete ad platform to help businesses increase revenue and protect their brand, no matter how they choose to sell. The platform means the end of the DoubleClick brand, but continues to offer the same functionality. For businesses, this means opportunities for monetisation, whilst maintaining protection against spam, domain spoofing and bot-traffic continue to be key functions. For consumers, it’s about adapting content to the plethora of screen sizes, platforms and devices, whilst ensuring ads are optimised for the user experience.

In real terms, this is little more than Google having a tidy up; bringing products together into a neater package that is easier to understand and use. Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s Senior Vice President, Ads & Commerce, acknowledges this, as he said, “This is a primarily a name change, but it is indicative of where we have been directing the product” for the past few years.”

For anyone who is already using Adwords, Analytics or DoubleClick, transition should be seamless, with no system changes, migrations, or training requirements necessary. New features are designed to simplify the process, not make it more complex. Importantly, for businesses that have long wanted to try online advertising, but were daunted by the prospect, this is a positive move.


What is Social Proof and Why Is It Relevant to Website Design?

 important part of any marketing strategy, social proof is about creating positive influences around your product or brand. Our natural tendency is rely on other people’s approval to confirm that the action we are about to take is the right one. Online, this behaviour means that providing your customer or visitor with the right social proofs will make them more likely to buy your product, subscribe to your newsletter or use your services.

Here are some examples of social proof tools that can easily be incorporated into your website.

Highlight the number of people who use your service

Social proof is about the wisdom of the crowd, so showing how many people have signed up to your website will encourages others to join. For example Mailchimp draws attention to how many people have signed up and how many emails are sent every day.

Reviews from users

Used extensively on many websites like Amazon, Tripadvisor, Yelp etc, user reviews can drive traffic to your ecommerce website and influence a purchase. Reviews eliminate any doubts your potential customer may have about whether to buy your product or visit your business. Reviews are also a great way to attract unique, regularly updated content, which search engines like.

Reporting Customer Behaviour

Amazon does this to great effect, telling you what customers ‘also bought’. Not only does it provide proof that they bought the product that you are looking at, it also encourages you to add other items.

Highlighting the most popular blog or page

This feature is found all over the place now. It encourages people to read what other people are reading. Here’s just one example from