The Growing Role Of Upmost Importance 

UX design

For years, if you wanted a website, you’d need to have it built by a web developer or programmer. You’d convey your desires to the programmer, roughly, and they’d create something that delivered on what you requested.

It wouldn’t necessarily work well for the user, but then that’s not what you would have asked for. A developer’s job is to do what they’re asked and make things work and function from a technical perspective. 

Then, as things developed, front-end designers came into being in order to make things aesthetically pleasing for the user. Even today, it’s surprising what a good-looking website can achieve in the mindset of clients. 

We’ve seen clients who had old, clunky legacy systems that work as intuitively as algebra, yet they wanted nothing more than a refreshed front-end. Sometimes, a newer-looking design, some well-coordinated coloring and a few nice buttons can make a big difference in the client’s perspective of a digital tool’s quality or usefulness. However, this digital lick of paint often only coats cracks in an otherwise dysfunctional and confusing journey. If it looks good, but functions poorly, it’s still badly designed.

So, if we have programmers that make the back-end work and designers that make the front-end pretty, who is responsible for the over-arching user experience? Who’s responsible for the identification of user wants and needs? Navigation? The organization of content? The presentation of information? Cue the User Experience (UX) Designer.

UX design includes: 

  • User research, 
  • Information architecture, 
  • User testing, 
  • Usability and functionality,
  • Content design

It’s everything related to making websites, apps and digital tools for the end user; the people that actually use it; not the client and not the developer. It’s user-centric and people-focused. 

UX design is by no means a new role, globally speaking. In fact, many companies have been employing UX designers for years. Recently, however, the importance of user-centric design is growing. Companies and government have been forced into investing in the creation of seamless and as user-friendly solutions due to the following marketing conditions:

  • Rising user expectations – Big-budget companies like Google and Apple that specialize in usability, raise the expectations of users. Online, we’ve got to keep up if we want to keep our current customers and attract new ones.
  • Increased competition - It’s a lot easier to get online and trade these days and more businesses are taking the leap. For e-commerce stores, you’re competing with Amazon and Google, the SMEs and even the average Joe on eBay. More competition means we need to do more in order to convert and keep customers.
  • More opportunity – The average daily time spent online is rising every year. If people are spending longer online, then we have more of an opportunity to reach them, but our UX has to be unnoticeably smooth and better than our competition.

Having a website created is easier than ever. Having a website that looks cool is just as simple. Having a website that is a pleasure to use, adds to the user/brand experience and meets your customer needs better than your competition takes a little more work. It requires a specialist. It requires a UX designer.


View User Profile for
Posted by Thursday, October 23, 2014 5:23:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C SMB web design web development web trends website

Should You Opt For Cloud Hosting For Your Website? 

cloud hosting for website

If you’re planning on creating a website for your business, then one of the first things you’ll want to consider is where and how you host it.

What Is Hosting?

All of the files that make up a website are stored (or hosted) on a web server. A web server is simply a computer that’s part of a network and connected to the internet. When you type a URL into the address bar on your web browser (Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer), or click a link on Google, your web browser needs to know what web page to show you. It does this by following the web address back to the web server, which in turn tells your browser the correct page to display and all of the files and images that go with it.

VPS Hosting

VPS (Virtual Private Server) Hosting where your website is hosted on a dedicated web server. This single server will be responsible for storing all of the files that make up your website and also handling and processing all of your website’s traffic i.e. telling all of your visitor’s browsers which pages to display. 

The major floor with VPS hosting is that, should there ever be a problem with your server or when routine maintenance has to be carried out or should there be a security breach, then your site will be taken offline while any work is undertaken. If you run an ecommerce store, this can not only loose you sales, but also deter potential customers from returning.

Cloud Hosting

You’ve probably heard the term ‘Cloud' before, especially if you own an iPhone, as Apple’s iCloud backup storage has helped edge the term closer to the mainstream. But, what is 'Cloud Hosting’?

Cloud Hosting is when your website is hosted on a variety of servers, each connected to each other. This group of servers work with each other, forming a virtual cloud.

Why Cloud Hosting Is Right for Your Website

There are many reasons why you might want to choose Cloud Hosting over VPN Hosting for your website. The some of the major reasons are:

Efficiency and Speed - with cloud hosting, your site is hosted by an amalgamation of servers, potentially across the world. This means that, rather than placing a large demand on one single server, the load is spread across each connected server. Therefore, if someone tries to load your website in Russia, they can load it from the server or group of servers closest to them. This means that your website loads faster, as no single server is under strain at any point.

Cost Benefits - you only pay for the bandwidth and space you actually use when you host in the cloud. If you’re an SME looking to create your first website, you won’t be using a lot of space or bandwidth initially, which makes cloud hosting more cost effective. Your hosting needs will grow with your website and business needs, meaning the cost would rise incrementally. Your business will scale simply and you’ll never pay for server space that you don’t need.

Running Time - with cloud hosting, there’s typically a 99.9% uptime. This means that your website will never be offline while maintenance is carried out. This is because your website is effectively running on many servers. Therefore, when maintenance is carried out on one of the servers, another server or group of servers is employed to handle the traffic.

Many Hands Make Light Work

The phrase ‘many hands make light work’ is certainly true when it comes to web hosting and, even though Cloud Hosting is on the rise at the moment, not every hosting provider offers it right now.

All of our websites come equipped with cloud hosting, so you can get fast loading speeds and near 100% uptime at a reasonable cost by contacting us today. 

View User Profile for
Posted by Monday, September 15, 2014 4:04:00 PM Categories: web development web hosting website

What is Website Security and Why You Need It 

importance of website security

Having effective and reliable website security helps to build trust and confidence between you and your customers. It is important to protect your site from outside attacks and to keep customer information confidential and secured.

Security is a measure of how safe your website and its data are from hackers.

A secure website is of paramount importance to your business. Websites are under continual attack by hackers, looking to steal funds or personal information of your clients or, in some cases, take control of the website and change it for their purposes. Even a single security breach can be disastrous to your company, both financially and in terms of the trust you have built with your clients in safeguarding their personal information.

Ultimately, higher customer confidence means higher sales through repeat orders and customer loyalty.

Typically, there are key pages in your site where it is important to reinforce security, namely:

  • Log-in page
  • Using the shopping cart
  • Creating an account

You can maximize your site security by limiting administrative access to your site. Device a difficult password which cannot be easily decoded. Change your site password regularly.

If your website platform doesn’t offer these services, check our Power Site. Fast Track’s fully customizable website solution that includes all of the latest features including a CMS, eCommerce, SEO and more.


View User Profile for
Posted by Wednesday, September 3, 2014 2:05:00 PM Categories: online marketing web development website

How Mobile Web Design Can Increase Your Sales 

mobile web designHaving a mobile-optimized website is unavoidable. With 58% of adults in America1 owning a smartphone and spending an increasing amount of time on them, the opportunities for brands to increase sales through this medium are growing rapidly.

For business owners and web designers alike, understanding the kind of sales increases that have been experienced by brands through the use of mobile web design, and the specific design decisions that lead to them, will help you construct and inform your mobile strategy.

The Over-Arching Principles

1. Personalization

By removing barriers and making transactions as painless as possible, you can personalize the mobile experience and help users progress through their path to purchase.

Dominos Pizza personalized its mobile experience through remembering customer payment details, which contributed to a 20% increase in sales through its mobile channel2. Now, over 60% of orders are placed on mobile devices2 and the digital nature of the channel helps track specific ROI as a result.

2. Use User’s Urgency

Mobile browsers are goal-oriented3, which means that they’re often in a position to make a purchase right there and then. So the opportunity to increase sales on mobile devices is certainly there if you make it easy to do.

On smartphones, the user’s defenses, guards and natural shields are down, so there’s an opportunity to increase cross sales as well, if you can make a relevant and related offer appealing enough.

3. Restrictions

Don’t make users log in before they can browse3, or worse, before they can make a purchase4. Placing restrictions on the browsing experience, especially if you’re a lesser-known brand, can cause apprehension and discourage users from continuing.

4. No Pinching

Don’t make users have to pinch and zoom and rotate their device when navigating. Making users adjust their natural browsing behavior to navigate around your site leads to frustrations that are likely to lead to abandonment3.

Mobile sites should be responsive and fit the screen the user is using. Through utilizing Responsive Web Design (or RWD), many brands have seen a direct increase in conversions5 with some experiencing an up to 54% increase in sales6.

Practical Design Tips

As well as these over-arching principles, there are also some specific design nuances that can also lead to an increase in mobile sales.

1. Infinite Scroll

People behave differently on mobile devices. For example, users tend to keep scrolling until they find something useful, hence the infinite scroll on sites like Twitter and Facebook where engagement is key. Recognizing this, the Huffington Post incorporated an infinite scroll on their mobile site, and increased the average time spent on the website by 50%7. The more time users spend on your site, the more opportunities you have to persuade them to make a purchase.

2. Call-to-Action (CTA) Front and Center

With users behaving with more urgency on mobile, they’re less patient. They have momentum. By putting your CTA front and center on the Home page8, you can keep that momentum going and lead users to their desired place as smoothly as possible.

Using at least finger-sized buttons that are easy to click will help here because if your ‘touch targets’ are too small, people can make mistakes and click the wrong thing9, all of which will lead to further frustrations and drop outs.

3. Intuitive Forms

Make mobile forms easy to fill out by incorporating auto-advance, so that users are moved to the next field in the form automatically, which reduces friction3. Also, make sure you show users the correct keypad in line with the type of field they’re completing10. For example, show the numbered keypad11 when requesting numbers and email keyboard12 when asking for email addresses. This strips away tension and allows the user to progress without thinking too hard and without needless barriers.

Taking Mobile Seriously

The difficulties users feel using desktop sites on mobile devices is similar to those experienced by people with disabilities13, so careful attention has to be given to specific nuances when designing websites for mobile devices. And given the amount of traffic and revenue potential on mobile devices currently, let alone the potential for the future, the attention and investment required may not only be worth it, but before long it’ll be unavoidable.

If you’re looking for a future-proof mobile responsive website that’ll capitalize on the above and meet the needs of your mobile customers, connect with us for a chat about how we can help.















View User Profile for
Posted by Monday, August 25, 2014 12:33:00 AM Categories: online marketing responsive design web development

The Latest Google Addition That’ll Boost Your Website Traffic 

Google Instant, the feature that pre-empts your search terms and shows the results of your predicted search as you type1, has started including branded business suggestions in the Autocomplete drop down menu. These stand out above all of the other suggested search terms and could be a huge pull for traffic to your website if you’re lucky enough to make it onto that fabled drop down.

What Is Google Instant?

You’ll have seen it before; when you search for something on the Google website and, when you start searching, it predicts what you’re searching for by using Autocomplete2 and shows you the results as you type, like this:

google instant










Google claims that by showing you search results as you type, you’ll wind up making better searches because you can adjust your terms accordingly during your search3. How many people actually do this is debatable and there are retorts of this actually slowing searchers down4. The Autocomplete feature that it uses to predict your search also has a built in spell checker so sloppy or quick searches aren’t penalized. 

Google says that it doesn’t necessarily prioritize the most popular searches with Google Instant5, as it tries to keep things personalized. A personalized search is more valuable than a popular one, according to Google5. So depending on what country, state or town you live in1; whether you’re logged into a Google account or if your previous searches are stored in a cookie6, you’ll be seeing personalized searches unique to your location and browsing history. This means that what I see when I search won’t be the same as what you see when you do.

Google Instant’s Relevance for Businesses

Google Instant and Autocomplete work hand in hand and are valuable for businesses on a national and local level. If you’re included in the suggested searches, users can find you quicker. Plus, if you’re SEO strategy is strong, then you’re targeted keywords may feature in there, too. This all helps tempt traffic and potential customers to your website.

However, typically, Google won’t do you any favors and include your business in Google Instant unless it’s sure that you’re the best match for the user’s search. And, even then, you’ll be one of four other suggestions in Autocomplete and many more on the search engine results page. Each one looking identical in terms of the way they're presented with only the physical hierarchy of the list to infer priority or relevance. However, things might be about to change.

New Google Instant for Business

Imagine my surprise to find that, when I searched “Fast Track” this morning, I noticed that Google have done us a bit of a favor. Our logo, address and Google Plus URL are featured in the drop down suggested search terms in Autocomplete. It’s in the style of a mini search result and looks more attractive than a 6 foot cupcake:






Is Google now prioritizing relevant businesses who are registered with My Business7 or Google Plus in favor of those that aren’t?

There’s no question that our suggested search term certainly looks more attractive and tempting than the others on the list. It makes us stand out. It looks clean and professional and almost like a Google endorsement, as opposed to a simple suggested term. Although the other results aren’t related or our direct competition, will this feature stay when those suggested terms are filled with our competition?

Where Will They Go With This?

The potential for business growth as a result of this is huge. What if, instead of our address and zip code, Autocomplete showed quick synopsis of what we do and a phone number? Or a link to a contact form or our Twitter handle or even our most popular services or customer ratings and testimonials? What if the white space beside our address had a banner, a gif or even a video of a product tutorial? What if these enhanced branded suggestions were presented in a similar fashion to search results pages, so that when users search for “web design Seattle”, the Autocomplete and Google Instant suggest Fast Track in this fashion? 

The possibilities and opportunities that Google could unfurl here are endless. They could even replace the entire search engine results page with an even smarter Autocomplete and Instant fusion where all search results are shown in this fashion in the drop down. And, they could charge businesses for more interactive features, too. 

Whether all that is planned or not, I’m sure we’ll eventually find out. But, if you’re not currently registered to Google My Business7, you should do it now, get in early.









View User Profile for
Posted by Sunday, August 17, 2014 5:22:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C inbound marketing online marketing social media marketing web development web trends website
Page 3 of 12 << < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >>