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“High-quality web content that’s useful, usable, and enjoyable is one of the greatest competitive advantages you can create for yourself online.”

― Kristina Halvorson, Content Strategy for the Web

Too many companies put marketing techniques over quality content, yet it’s the content that answers users’ questions, builds loyalty and drives sales.

The following three tips will help you write great online content:

1. The ‘So what?’ test

A common mistake in online content is that it doesn’t explain the benefits of what it’s selling or promoting in a way that would make users care. This is commonly because the content was not written for the user.

When creating content, ask yourself ‘so what?’. If it does not help the user, get rid of it! This will encourage you to create concise, useful content focused on your users’ needs. This approach might be difficult if you don’t know your audience. If that is the case, user research/testing and then the creation of personas will help!

2. The squint test

The squint test is where you scan your pages to see where your eye falls without actually reading the body text. Would a user scanning this way see what you think is obvious? Also, make sure you don’t fall into one of these common traps:

  • Make sure there is no dated material or date references that would confuse
  • Long paragraphs? Hit the enter key to create white space/line breaks

3. Personas

As aforementioned personas are great tool for understanding your users, which in turn is essential to writing online content.

Personas distill findings from user research and turn your audiences into realistic characters. A user persona has a name, age, interests and characteristics. It’s someone you can empathise with. Writing for a user persona helps you understand what your users want and will aid in writing useful, concise content.

Personas are not a quick fix by any means, but are an invaluable tool in creating online content. If you want to learn more about Personas we have written about them in detail.

If you’re interested in online content and want to learn more we have 4 online copywriting training courses that can help.

It’s been 10 years since Webcredible was incorporated, a milestone so significant we celebrated with two parties. One to celebrate with our staff, and another with everyone who is (and has been) close to Webcredible.

The second party was at Centre Point, and we invited ex-staff, clients (new & old) and suppliers. We even invited our first ever client and user experience trainer!

It was a really enjoyable evening, even if we couldn’t serve a specially created Webcredible cocktail, so thank you to everyone who made it.

If you want to see the photos from the evening then we’ve created a Pinterest board.

As an added bonus, if you want to learn more about Webcredible’s journey over the last 10 years check out this infographic, and this lovingly made presentation:



Cultural change is commonly accompanied by an evolution of our language. It should come as no surprise then that in this tech-heavy environment, new words are sprouting like mushrooms. Even if sometimes we don’t realise it.

These new words add meaning and help us describe the relationship we have with the technology in our ever-so-sophisticated digital world.

 

 

What’s new

A quick look at new words recently added to the Oxford Dictionaries confirms that technology and the internet remains the number one catalyst for emerging words:

Funnily enough, these technological inventions cause certain behaviours that further spawned new words. For example:

  • As defined in the Oxford Dictionaries, a digital detox  is “A period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world”
  • My other favourite is describing someone as a Glasshole as a result of using Google Glass in a socially unacceptable manner

Some new additions that I find particularly exciting:

  • When David Cameron announced doubling research funding for the internet of things at the CeBIT technology trade fair in Germany, I wondered if this word might finally go mainstream. Will it soon be officially part of our lives?
  • The acronym UX (user experience) that we use so much in this industry has also been recognised (by the Oxford Dictionaries) – which I hope will make UX easier to explain to those not familiar with the term

The future

It is very exciting to be witnessing the creation of these new words that are contributing directly to our lexicon. I wonder what kind of words people will need in a few hundred years from now. For now, we can only theorise by exploring and understanding how technology is evolving and dominating our lives.

On a side note, if you’re a Scrabble fan, you might be interested to know that selfie or hashtag may (or may not) win the vote to be a new official word in Scrabble.

Dear camera manufacturers,

I’ve been one of your loyal customers. I’ve had a Canon SLR camera for more than 15 years, and played around with all sorts of cameras since I was 2 years old.

But today I find myself less and less inclined to take my camera out for a spin, and that’s not for a lack of inspiration. You’re probably already aware that people haven’t stopped taking photos — they just use their smartphones to do so.  According to some sources, shipments of standalone digital cameras almost halved in 2013.

I don’t want this to continue. I’ve spent some of the best moments of my life taking photos of people I love and objects that impress me. I believe that even when everyone has a smartphone with a great camera, there will still be a place for standalone cameras. But to reach this place, you need to change. Here are 5 things you can do:

Fix your chargers

In a recent trip, I had a bag stolen with my camera charger inside. Looking to buy a new one, I discovered that the official one from Canon costs at least £30. It’s a bulky box and comes with a very long cable that only fits UK plugs:


So I bought this one instead:

Yes, it’s a made-in-who-knows-where knockoff. But it cost £5.99, it’s slightly more compact than the Canon one, and it comes with UK/EU/American swappable plugs as well as a car adaptor. Guess what, camera manufacturers — a lot of your customers are likely to use your cameras when travelling, and hate having to get extra adaptors.

While we’re at it, why don’t all cameras support charging via USB (since they tend to have a USB port anyway)?

Make disposable cameras

“Disposable cameras?” I hear you say. “Didn’t these die together with film?”

Let me explain: I love my iPhone camera and the millions of interesting things I can do with it,  shooting time-lapse videos for example. But would I leave my iPhone unattended in a corner to shot a time-lapse? Would I strap it on my bike to get an interesting viewpoint? Or would I happily take it out and use it in the rain? Definitely not, as I don’t want a £500 piece of kit to be stolen or damaged.

What I’d love to have is a cheap camera that I can hang off a tree or strap on my bike and I won’t cry if it breaks or goes missing. That’s what I call a “disposable” camera, and it already exists – I bought it for £26.99 on eBay and it’s not made by any of the big camera brands.

The 808 #18 keychain camera (pictured right) shoots decent-quality 720p video and also has a time-lapse feature, looping video, and motion-activated triggering (so you could use it to photograph visiting wildlife for example).

It’s tiny and weighs less than 20 grams. People have hung it from helium baloons, flown it on kites, attached it to quadcopters and used it for underwater filming.

When most images and videos are made to be shared, a unique viewpoint matters more than image quality. You can tap into this by making cameras where such viewpoints can be achieved without much risk.

Build a platform, not just individual products

Not many people realise that today’s digital cameras are essentially small computers with a lens and an image sensor bolted on. Those who realised have gone on to hack cameras and load their own custom software such as CHDK and Magic Lantern. This has allowed photographers to do all sorts of amazing things, from capturing lightning strikes to amazing astrophotography.

Why should this only be available to those willing to take the risk of tinkering with their camera? Why don’t you provide a better way for people to maximise their creative use of your hardware? If a $150 smartwatch can have its own app store, why can’t your $500+ cameras?

Promote your products better

I just went into a camera manufacturer’s website and clicked on the first product I could see. The following screenshot summarises everything that’s wrong about promoting camera products today:

Remember, your website is no longer just a brochure. With high-street camera shops shutting down, websites are one of the few places where your potential customers can experience your products. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to fix your websites — you just need to:

  • Show how your products fit in the context where you want them to be: in your customers hands and bags
  • Stop talking about features with obscure names, and start talking about what these features help your customers shoot better photos (“you can control it via your iPhone” vs. “it has built-in Wi-Fi”)
  • Use before/after photos to show how each feature works (if the feature doesn’t have an impact that’s easy to spot in a photo, why are you even talking about it?)
  • Show full-size, zoomable photos taken in a variety of situations where you expect people to use that camera

Remind people to use their cameras

Even with your best efforts to create and promote an amazing product, we’re all humans living in an age full of distractions. So there’s still a chance that we end up buying a great camera, only to leave it sitting on a shelf for an extended period of time. Such disengaged customers are much less likely to feel they get any value out of their camera, let alone buy another one in the future.

I’ve already mentioned that your cameras are little computers, and many of them now come with built-in Wi-Fi. Which means that they could be easily associated with a user account, and collect usage statistics. And if they sit idle, they could remind customers to use them.
Imagine if after a period of inactivity cameras could send their owners an email. The purpose of that email would be to provide a range of ideas to make a photographer excited enough to pick up a camera again.

Based on what your camera manufacturer knows about you, they could propose:

  • Events near you with a photographic interest (such as art exhibitions or music festivals)
  • Photographic challenges and competitions that you could take part in
  • Features of your camera (such as macro photography or slow-motion video) that you haven’t had a chance to explore yet

So, here are a few things you can do. But you need to be quick — some of these opportunities won’t last for long. I, for one, will be watching closely and hoping my current camera won’t be my last one.

Kind regards,

Alex

We’re glad to announce the work we did with UCAS last year has won the first ever UK Cloud Award for a public sector project. The award recognised UCAS’s “Track in the Cloud” as an innovative and successful project delivered using cloud infrastructure.

When we were approached by UCAS for this project, it was clear that we were dealing with one of their most critical public-facing tools, accessed by thousands of prospective UK university students with massive usage peaks around certain events in the academic calendar. UCAS wanted the new site to be stable enough to handle hundreds of concurent logins per second, but also to be clear and intuitive so that students can get all the information they need without having to phone up for clarifications.

As we found out while working on the project, migrating such critical infrastructure to the cloud is a massively complex undertaking – but everything had to be built and tested to a very fixed deadline: A-Level Results Day. Our accelerated design framework allowed us to work very closely with developers and internal stakeholders, which meant that we were able to deliver a great user experience whilst keeping to tight deadlines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When UCAS launched their updated tool it not only performed with amazing stability, but it also received very high satisfaction ratings by its users. We’re glad to have played a part in this and we congratulate UCAS for their well-deserved award! If you want a more in-depth run down of the work we did for UCAS you can read the case study.

Case studies

Our success stories

  • UCAS

    UCAS's Track portal is award-winning, achieving a 95%+ satisfaction rating across its 750,000 users

  • Hotels.com

    Hotels.com gained a much stronger competitive advantage due to a great mobile & tablet strategy

  • Pearson Education

    Pearson Education has embedded user-centred design into all their digital design processes

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We're a user experience agency (UX agency) that creates people-centred, efficient and delightful digital experiences.

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