New website for Pavey Group

Screenshot of Pavey Group Website Team PageEarlier this year we were delighted to be appointed by Pavey Group to redesign and develop their website. The Group, which specialise in Insurance, Risk Management, Claims Management and Financial Services, was established in 1971 and are today recognised as one of the Top 100 Independent Insurance Brokers in the UK.

The new site went live in May 2013 and is powered by our bespoke content management solution, allowing their Marketing Department to update their site as and when required.

Other features include:

  • An intuitive navigation, which helps both prospective and existing customers find the information they require quickly and easily
  • Gallery of key personnel – with links to full profile details on each to include professional qualifications, an area Pavey Group were keen to highlight
  • Recommend us form – allowing existing customers to easily recommend the group to their friends and associates
  • Case studies – sharing stories of how they have helped some of their Customers
  • Blog – for sharing the latest company news and adding value to their clients

It has been an absolute pleasure working with the team at Pavey Group on this project, which we hope marks the start of a long term working relationship.

For more information on the Pavey Group please visit: www.paveygroup.co.uk.

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Event tracking for web pages with no thank you page

Google Code Event Tracking

The way goal tracking works for a lot of websites is that you set up a page which displays to the user saying “Thank you for buying widget a'”. When you see someone has visited that page you can see that a sale must have occurred.

Now that is very useful because then you can dig around in the data surrounding that visit, see where they came from and gain some useful business insights like the best converting source of traffic.

I have no thank you page, help!

Some forms of conversion don’t have a separate page to say thank you and use some clever programming to just display thank you on the same page. So how do you track the sale/conversion?

How to track goals with no thank you page

To cut a long story short; If you can’t get a thank you page made, then add analytics event tracking which looks a little something like this:

onclick javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'Action type', 'Label']);

What it does is track the goal interdependently of a ‘thank you page’ view via JavaScript and passes the information into your Google Analytics data.

But what about validation?

What if a user fills in the form wrong and has to hit the send button twice? Well Google has thought of that and interaction with an object (button, link etc…) is only ever counted once per visit. SO no worries there either.

Javascript Event tracking for other goals

The nicest thing about this is that you can track almost any action you like from a video play, to a PDF download to even just someone hovering over a picture with the mouse.

There are a 100 different creative and innovative ways you could use this, can you think of one? Kudos for the best Ideas shared are available.

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March 2016 Go-Lives

We’ve had an incredibly busy month with lots of our clients ‘going-live’ with new shiny websites, not to mention our own of course!

The Devon Air Ambulance Trust

Before and After – http://www.daat.org/

DAAT’s original website wasn’t designed with a large digital marketing influence and as time went on, we realised we could improve the general interface of the site whilst incorporating user experience backed data to improve conversion rates and reduce bounce rates. 
We also repurposed a lot of the content, stripped back the navigation and tidied up the event pages to ensure great usability and hopefully a lot more user interaction – watch this space!

The Royal Marine’s Commando Challenge

Before and After – https://www.commandochallenge.co.uk/

After being recommended to the The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity by DAAT, we carried out a complete reconstruction of the Royal Marines Commando Challenge Website. 
We built the site from scratch, focussing on creating a military feel and encouraging signups. Although the site as a whole was a fairly basic one to produce, the signup form was one of the most complicated we had to build, pushing development to spend days on testing the form to ensure it all worked smoothly and signups were suitably reflected in the CMS. 

Hospiscare

Before and After – http://www.hospiscare.co.uk/

Hospiscare needed a full site revamp having had their old one for some time. This site was particurlarly large and required quite complicated funcionality. The redesign included a module which allows you to create micro-sites for any flagship events. Each of these microsites can include a signup form, photo gallery and a contact form, as well as the usual event information sections. This site was also required to be highly accessable for those with sight difficulties; through the click of a button you can put the whole site into high-contrast mode.

Exeter Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Before and After – https://www.exeterchamber.co.uk/

The Exeter Chamber of Commerce and Industry required a complete overhaul of their website. This site was very complicated and pushed the development team to work all hours and carry out extra training to make sure the site was kept at its highest possible standard. We were tasked to create an event booking system which needed complex options for each member which also incorporated an array of payment taking systems. The complication lay in the multiple existing members and ensuring no data was lost in transition. The new system again required intense testing which incorporated several extra members of staff. 

So, as you can see it’s been a busy month for us all here at Optix. A massive thank you to our Development Team –  Dean and Rich, Robin – our Head of Design, and James our Project Manager and everyone else who has been involved. 

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Devon’s Wildlife on the Web

When you’re charged with celebrating and informing people about the outstanding natural environment of the country’s second biggest county, taking in moorland to coast, the creation of a comprehensive and creative website was needed to do it justice.

Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) recently brought Optix Solutions in to completely overhaul the charity’s six-year-old web presence, and create a resource that covered not just DWT’s extensive work in the county, but also offered a wealth of information on the flora and fauna that make up Devon’s unique habitats and the current issues affecting them.

Optix Solutions has a strong track record in working with local organisations and charities, providing engaging and simple to navigate websites allied to specifically tailored online solutions, designed to attract more visitors, increase visibility and generate volunteer interest and donations.

A particularly eye-catching and useful tool, designed and developed by the Optix team, is an alphabetical plant and animal search service which provides the visitor with pictures, species information and a guide to where and when to see it in the county.

Visitors can also now read a regular blog offering current snapshots of Devon’s wildlife, get wildlife questions answered through a new helpdesk area and find plenty of well-signposted information on how people can support the charity, from becoming a volunteer to leaving a legacy for future generations.

David Ireland, DWT’s Communications Officer, said ”It’s great to finally have a new website we can be proud of and which gives people interested in the wildlife on their doorstep a wonderful resource.”

“The way the website has been set up will give us much more flexibility to go on building the site in the future months and years, with much simpler navigation people will be able to find what they want quicker and easier than before.”

To have a look at the new website visit http://www.devonwildlifetrust.org/

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Blog or brochure site?

Such is the rapid and relentless advance of online technology, it is worth recalling that it was only a matter of a decade ago that business finally acknowledged the necessity of having a decent website at all.

Brochure sites as they are known – sites that basically give the visitor a bit of information about the organisation, details of its products and services, how to buy them and who to contact – were once the standard and are still very much with us.

But for how much longer? The advent of the easily bought set up and managed blog site has redrawn the online landscape for good, fundamentally changing the services that Optix Solutions now offer clients as a result.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), or the art of getting your site noticed and ranked highly with search engines, is the catalyst behind the now firmly mainstream blogging revolution.

Combined with proactive and well thought out social media and online marketing strategies, the engagement with key audiences that a blog produces is one of the keys to SEO success.

Search engines, with Google at their head, are far more sophisticated when it comes to the types of signals and search references they pick up nowadays. They are increasingly configured to reward relevance and consistent activity.

Off the shelf blog site templates, such as those produced by Wordpress, are simple to manage and allow even the smallest concerns to produce a steady stream of fresh, up to the minute content which can be targeted at key audiences.

No longer does adding a new piece of copy or an extra page require the time (and expense) of asking your web designer to take something down, put something up, and write some extra code. It can be done from any computer in a matter of minutes.

Some still think of blogging simply as writing personal thoughts or providing information on particular subjects online.

However, blog sites have become far more versatile, providing ample capacity for companies to not only write on the latest developments in their industries or business, but also include easily updatable pages containing products and services, portfolios, images and videos, case studies etc…

The combination of fresh content and the interest this can produce by prompting comments and creating dialogue with visitors, means there is a lot more noise generating from a well managed blog site than its static equivalent, and with it a much better chance of featuring prominently in search engine rankings.

So is the brochure site dead? Optix Solutions director and co-founder Alastair Banks certainly believes they are about to be consigned to the annuls of online history.

“Although brochure sites are still used by smaller businesses who simply want to advertise their services, credentials and contact details, blog sites are a more effective and dynamic means to manage a smaller, say five to ten page site.

“The advantages are enormous. You can now buy a template online for less than £50 and it isn’t hard to learn how to use the technology and content management.

“You can add pages and content and tweak bits and pieces daily rather than waiting for the designer to do it. You can also combine more conventional news with blogs or link the blog to a main website or online shop.

“Blog sites are definitely the way to go for smaller businesses, which is why at Optix Solutions we have concentrated our energies into developing carefully tailored consultancy packages which enable our customers to make the most of the potential of their blog site, instead of producing static websites.”

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Rising to the Dakar Challenge

Dakar Challenge is all about theScreenshot of Dakar Challenges Website spirit of adventure and the opportunity to do something truly different for a few weeks of your life, and the website Optix has designed for the challenge organisers is all about reflecting that.

Organiser and self-styled ‘Crap Car Svengali’ Julian Nowill first got together a group of 55 ‘bangers’ in various states of disrepair, their drivers and passengers to share the experience of driving from Plymouth to Dakar in Senegal in 2003. The publicity this generated not only attracted 88 cars the following year, but also spawned a variety of copycat expeditions of varying repute.

Despite its success, Julian has always been determined to stick to the original ethos of the Challenge. It remains a part-time hobby run by himself and his wife Annette, simply offering people the chance to do something completely different and eye-opening, hopefully with a lot of laughs and a few tests of character along the way.

Participants are welcome to make charity drops on the journey, or auction their vehicles for local good causes once they reach their destinations, but the Challenge is not a charity event in itself.

Optix has designed a site that reflects the essence of what the Challenge is all about.

You will find stacks of information on the various challenges on offer this year and next – including off-roading in Morocco, and destinations such as Banjul (Gambia), Timbuktu (actually Bamako in Mali, but it sounds better!), The Silk Road and Murmansk in Northern Russia on pages that look like old parchment maps.

The comprehensive booking form features a question and answer section, ensuring entrants are left in no doubt as to what it is they are committing themselves to.

Nothing better illustrates the experience and the camaraderie of taking part in the challenges than the photographs and videos taken by participants over the years. Optix have not only built in a slide-show facility for still photographic memories, we also embedded YouTube on the site to show inspiring videos of previous trips.

At Optix Solutions we understand how important it is that a website is not only great to look at and simple to use, but that it consistently reflects the unique identity of the business or organisation.

With the constant flow of new technical and design innovations available to website designers, it is all too easy to get bogged down in the minutiae and lose sight of what it is your trying to convey.

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Do you need a new website?

Before you even consider whether to build a new website, you need to ask yourself if you even need one? It's a broad and daunting question so we’ve picked out the top 4 questions you need to consider when deciding if you need a new website or not…

Is your site responsive?

The term ‘responsive design’ means that the website is designed to provide optimal viewing across multiple devices and browsers.  

The facts: 

  • 60% of internet accessed is via a mobile device
  • 87% of millennials (18-34 year olds) never separate from their devices
  • Since April 21st last year, responsiveness has been a ranking factor on Google and is likely to become more prolific as time goes on

Test it

The fastest way to test if your website is responsive is to open up your site and using your mouse drag the bottom right corner of your browser to the left. If your site adjusts to the new dimensions of the browser, your site is most likely to be responsive.

You can also use this handy tool, courtesy of Google: https://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

Can you edit content?

The key to keeping your site up to date is a good, robust Content Management System (CMS) which allows you to add and edit content, this can be in the form of pages or a blog for example.

The facts: 

  • 73% of content writers plan to prioritize creating more engaging content in 2016
  • 60% of customers say they feel more positive about a brand after reading custom content on its site
  • Blogs generate 97% more inbound leads than sites without them 

Test it

This is easy to test – if you can edit your site from an admin area, then you have a CMS in place. Check any limitations that may be in place.

Do you prefer your competitor’s site or is your own outdated?

Website envy is a given, however, if you are finding yourself continuously amazed and jealous of your competitor’s site then it’s time to review your own. 

The facts: 

  • 88% of online consumers are unlikely to return to your site if they’ve have a bad experience (too many clicks, slow loading etc.)
  • 48% of people allege a website’s design as the number one factor when deciding the credibility of a company
  • 94% of user’s first impressions are design related

Test it

Check out your competitors and see what you think… It’s also a good idea to ask a few people to test your site and see how many clicks it takes to get to their destination, the less the better.

Can your site be found easily?

Whether it be a service or product, how can you expect customers to buy from you if they can’t even find your website? 

The facts: 

  • The top 5 results on search engine results pages (SERPs) get 75% of all clicks
  • 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine 
  • 75% of users never go further than page 1 on SERPs to find what they want

Test it

Open a new browser tab in ‘incognito mode’ and go to Google. Type in a few phrases you’d like your website to be found for. Where does your website appear (if at all)?

Want to know more?

Find out more about our website design and development process here.

 

Resources:
www.sweor.com blog.appboy.com smallbiztrends.com blog.skyhookwireless.com www.searchenginejournal.com 
blog.hubspot.com/insiders www.imaginepub.com

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Working and Living in Devon by Optix Solutions

From tranquil views to a wealth of British culture, Devon has been a favourite with holiday makers seeking traditional family vacations for decades, but who knew that Devon would become a hub for striving businesses and a county full of commercial potential.

With the introduction to the Invest Devon scheme which includes Work Hubs, business support and networking opportunities, Devon has never been more ‘on the map’. Plans from Devon County Council to improve Devon’s infrastructure, double the number of new jobs and increase the rate of house building by 50%, have made the county even more desirable. As Devon County Council’s newest Business Ambassadors, Optix Solutions has a look at the benefits and perks of living and working in the (nearly) deep south.

Devon has never really been viewed as a place with great opportunity for jet setters and go getters by the rest of the country, however recent statistics tell us that Devon is the place to be if you are looking for work or wanting to start up a business. The business survival rate is over 5% above the national average, as well as employment rates being 76.8% versus the UK average of 71.1%. Devon’s Exeter University is ranked 8th in the UK, which also has a number of enterprises and research hubs including an Innovation Centre which is home to over 53 knowledge based organisations carrying out essential research and development.

Having been named as the best county in England in 2009 by Country Life magazine and with 450miles of coastline the quality of life is known for being better than that of the rest of the country. There is always loads to do including lots of free and family orientated days out as well as the renowned Jurassic Coast which takes you on a breath taking journey through England’s first Natural World Heritage Site. Of course we must not forget the usual popular attractions Devon has to offer; zoos, aquariums, farms, theme parks, botanical gardens, and an excess of outdoor adventure activities to suit both the dare devils and the safety conscious. Excellent public transport links provide affordable travel for non-drivers.

For those night owls, Exeter and Plymouth offer a buzzing nightlife with clubs and bars with a range of different music and themes and for the more laid back party-goer there is the famous Topsham 10 to conquer as well as loads of great local brewery’s and vineyards to try out.

Restaurants are in abundance in Devon with a significance on supporting local produce. From fresh fish caught off the coast of Exmouth to locally reared Dartmoor beef and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s own veg you are never far from fantastic home-grown food.

Low crime rates and little noise and air pollution, Devon is the place to be, business owner or employee, life has never been so fruitful.

If you're interested in working for Optix, send an email to info@optixsolutions.co.uk

 

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Bringing Git to Optix

We have recently implemented a new system called “Git” into our development lifecycle. Git is a version control software application created by Linus Torvalds (creator of the Linux operating system). The idea of version control, is to keep track of all changes made to files in a particular project. It works by developers making changes locally, then performing a ‘push’ to a remote repository. Other developers can then ‘pull’ those changes and continue working on their own changes. This ensures that all developers are working on the same codebase. For Optix, it is used to manage the development and changes to all of our websites.  It also allows many other features to enable developers to keep track of changes to our sites.

Git is slowly becoming an industry standard in web development, but why the big fuss?

  • Collaborative Development – When multiple developers are working on a project (which can happen fairly often), sharing the same code can become unproductive, particularly if one developer is making site-breaking changes. Git allows developers to work independently of each other without affecting each other’s code. On the other hand, because each commit (a bunch of changes to a site) has to be documented by the developer, it also makes code reviews and project management much easier, as each developer has visibility on all code created.
  • Responsibility – Once a developer has ‘committed’ their changes, they are then responsible for that code. This means that if there is a later issue with the website related to some previous changes, a developer can see who committed the last changes, and what they changed.  This aides in fixing issues more efficiently for our clients and ensuring that once the fix is in place, it can be documented and referred back to later.
  • Restoration – Every so often, things go wrong. When they do, developers should have a way of reverting code back to its previous state. Trawling through our regular backups can take time, but Git allows us to do this seamlessly with the click of a few buttons. This leads to less downtime for our client’s sites. 
  • Codebase Lifetime – Any developer will tell you how difficult picking up old, undocumented code is. With Git, you have the entire history of the codebase for a project; every feature, change and tweak is documented and explained. For our web application development projects, this is crucial, and allows our developers to maintain sites over a longer period.
  • Deployment and Testing – Most developers, for better or worse, are still using technologies that have been around for longer than most web development companies (FTP being the most common, which was created in the 80’s) to deploy their websites to a server. These technologies are good, but they introduce human-error, they have encoding issues and they are pretty slow. Git allows us to use modern Continuous Integration tools (to automate testing and building our code) and deployment tools (to automate all of our deployment and rollbacks). This means changes can be rolled out to our customers smoothly and with little downtime. 

We realise this isn’t thrilling content for everyone, but keeping our tools and technology up to date is very important to us. Our web development team is always testing and reviewing tools like Git, to enable us to delight our clients with faster deployments and ultimately leading to more successful and engaging products.

If you would like to hear more about development or have a project in mind, call us now on 01392 667766

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Thirsty Work to Launch New Site with Optix Solutions

Optix Solutions have been selected to undertake the web design and development of a new website for South West water cooler leaders, Thirsty Work.

Thirsty Work offer drinking water solutions including mains-fed and bottled water coolers, boilers, water fountains and three-way filtered taps, and help the local community by supporting local charities and events. 

With a relatively old site that has seen no revenue and very few enquiries, Thirsty Work came to Optix Solutions to see how we could help. 

Their new site needs to:
–    Convert visitors in to customers
–    Allow customers to pay online 
–    Help them become recognized as the number one water solutions supplier in the South West

Director of Optix Solutions, Alastair Banks, says: ‘We’ve been wanting to work with Thirsty Work for a while now and are so excited to be involved in the project. Our business ethos aligns closely with theirs and we can’t wait to get started.’
We’ll keep you posted and reveal the new site soon!

Got a project you’d like quoting on? Check out our Project Planner

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South West Highways Launch Slick New Website

Optix Solutions won the tender to design and build the new website for South West Highway’s as part of a strategic rebrand and development to become SWH Group.

SWH Group provides a broad range of services, including highway and road maintenance, building construction, civil engineering, training and sign manufacturing. The aim of the website was to showcase the different services clearly and highlight prestigious projects completed throughout the region, as well as telling the company’s story and showing its passion for giving back to the local community. 

Optix Solutions Director, Alastair Banks said: “Through regular project meetings involving key stakeholders, a strong relationship has been created which has resulted in a real team effort to produce a website that is modern, clear and reflects SWH Group’s core values.”

A number of new sections were implemented on the site including:

  • A visual case studies module exhibiting completed projects which can be filtered by type.
  • A training zone advertising over 20 courses, including the option to apply.
  • An ‘Our People’ section to give users an insight to core employees within the business, including contact details.

View the new website here and let us know what you think! 

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