In the last twelve months, we’ve celebrated our sixth birthday as a company, had staff nominated for publicised awards and worked with a number of a great companies both near and far. 2017 was most certainly great for Tad Web Solutions and we capped off the year by opening up a new position in the company to grow our development team. In doing so, we’re able to work with more great companies and continue to deliver more quality websites and effective web-based software to more businesses.
We’re on the lookout for a developer to join our team in the thriving Boho Zone in Middlesbrough. Working as part of a team of three to four, the ideal candidate is flexible, self-managing and willing to learn and adapt. You’ll work on a wide range of projects, including maintenance of existing websites and web-based software as well as the development of new projects.
About Tad Web Solutions
Founded in 2011, we are a web development agency based in Middlesbrough with clients across the World. We help to improve businesses (both B2C and B2B across all sectors) by utilising the web. Recent projects range from CRM development for internal use, to 3D product visualisation and ordering systems, all of which are completely bespoke.
- Permanent post
- 37.5 hours per week, which can be flexible but ideally between 08:00 and 17:00, Monday to Friday (happy to discuss alternatives for the right person).
- £24,000 per annum. We’re also willing to consider less hours with pro-rata payments to suit the ideal candidate.
- 20 days holiday + Bank Holidays.
Planned Start Date
- Tuesday, 2nd January.
- Degree or other higher-level qualification in web/programming.
- Good working knowledge of:
Preferred Additional Knowledge/Requirements
- At least one year of commercial experience
Think you fit the bill?
We’d love to hear from you by Fri 16th Dec, so please send a copy of your CV and links to any previous projects that you’d like to make us aware of to the Managing Director, Ian Elcoate, firstname.lastname@example.org. A cover letter document is not required, instead please use your email to tell us anything about you that isn’t on your CV.
Starting out as a small business, every penny counts. For a new start, a website crafted by a web agency can be one of your most expensive purchases. With the continued rise and development of frameworks like WordPress that allow you to maintain your website on the go, is there really a need for a web designer? Do they justify the cost, which can be over a £1000?
Call me biased, but my answer is absolutely.
We should be open and clear about the cost of software and the truth is developing bespoke software packages for your company doesn’t come cheap.
At Tad Web Solutions we like to be honest with potential clients and where an off-the-shelf solution is available at a much lower cost than developing something from scratch we will suggest it and offer our support, if needed, in setting it up and maintaining it.
A very recent example is from a company using WooCommerce who asked us to develop some “bespoke” functionality for the shopping cart. We simply pointed out that for around £40 they could buy a commercial plug-in that would do exactly what they want. You could argue that we have missed an opportunity to make a few quid. I would suggest that our honest and straightforward approach will lead to a lot more genuine business in the future.
There are times when we will recommend a bespoke solution and in every case it is where there is a business need that will justify it. There are a few scenarios where this will be the case:
- The initial cost is far outweighed by the medium to long term income or savings – the most common case
- It is something new and innovative and it is believed that this will increase sales sufficiently to create a much greater market share and profit
- There are off-the-shelf packages available that will meet most of a business’ needs but the missing parts are mission critical
- It is a cost-effective solution to a regulatory need
Sometimes it may be an idea that is something of a “punt” for the initiator where they believe that their idea could take off with no guarantees, but they have the financial backing to do it.
What we do guarantee is that we will provide honest advice in how we can help you which may include advice to buy an off-the-shelf package or even not to go ahead at all. If it is not our field of expertise we will pass you on to someone who may be able to help you better than we can. If it is something we can help with we don’t take your money and run but build long term partnerships to ensure that our clients get a return on their investment and, hopefully, use us regularly to develop their online presence and software.
If you have an idea or would simply like us to take a look at what you do and look at potential automation and innovation then get in touch – we simply help our clients become more profitable.
The central focus of Tad Web Solutions is to help our clients improve their business by having a great website that advertises what they do but increasingly via automation, by building cloud-hosted systems that increase productivity, improve customer experience and/or make them stand out as being better and more forward thinking than the competition.
What kind of processes should be automated?
Simply processes where there is a business case for doing so, whether that be by savings on productivity through time-saving on the process or reducing the time needed to correct errors in manual systems, or through the increased revenue that will be generated as a result of increasing customers via ease of use or through an innovative sales funnel or product.
The software we build will often be for internal use and can have a NDA as part of the agreement so some of our projects can’t be discussed publicly but to give a flavour:
- The Framed Picture Company website (https://theframedpicturecompany.co.uk/) with ongoing product development and dynamic product visualisation tools developed by us alongside enhanced management tools for automating delivery with couriers and creating work schedules from orders.
- A CRM with bespoke automated customer emailing for a quality standards accreditation company.
- Electronic ordering system for a blinds manufacturer.
- A dynamic product visualisation and pricing tool for a manufacturer that can be incorporated into their trade clients’ sites including trade discount and their own mark-up. This also generates a full and costed parts list for the manufacturer.
- Our newest project is to develop a high level bespoke CRM for a client that will incorporate automated VoIP calls, telephone preference service checking, account storage and management and some very special bespoke tools for the client.
In all cases the tools greatly improve the productivity of our clients by reducing human input, which also reduces errors, but visualisation tools for bespoke products also greatly enhance the customer experience and are great income generators.
Should We Automate?
Take a look at any repetitive processes that require human input. How many person-hours are being spent doing these tasks? What does that equate to in financial terms?
If you have an understanding of what the current costs are you can then make an informed decision on whether it is cost effective to replace this with an automated system and how long it would take you to get your investment back and move into profit.
We would be happy to discuss potential projects with you, the only cost for that is your time to meet up. We’d love to help.
A new website can be an exciting prospect, whether it’s the first website, bringing your website online for the first time, or a new website to bring your company into modern web times. Seeing your competitors rebrand themselves and redevelop their website and online presence from the ground up can sometimes make you feel like you need to do the same – you need a new website to stay in competition. Rest assured, this is definitely not the case.
We pride ourselves on being ethical – we wouldn’t go ahead with a website for a small business if we felt it wasn’t the right decision for you. Before considering a new website, you should have a clear goal. What do you want to achieve through your website? If you already have a website, it’s possible that tweaks to your existing site could make a world of difference.
With every enquiry to start a new web design project, the first thing we’ll do is review your existing site. A large portion of our clients are SMEs who do not have web experts in-house, so rely on our input to help make a decision regarding their web presence. Working with you and your requirements, we can recommend one of two options: redesign or optimise. Here’s how we help you decide the best plan of action and what we’d recommend as part of optimisation with any web agency.
Like all of our posts, the links posted here are not endorsements and we, Tad Web Solutions, nor the author, receive any benefits or gains from posting these links. We’ve genuinely found them useful – we hope you do to!
Use The Right Tools
A successful website doesn’t just look great, but performs great. Part of the research to help you decide on whether a new website is the right option is to review your website’s performance in terms of the following. You may feel that because your website doesn’t deliver enough sales or enquiries, you need to redesign. That’s not always the case.
- Responsive: the most important element. Does your website function properly on a mobile phone or tablet? Use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test on each page of your site to ensure your website is responsive.
- Conversions: using Google Analytics, is the path that users take to either contact you, make an enquiry or purchase a product simple, or do lots of users leave your site before reaching conversion pages?
- Optimisation: is your website already optimised to perform well in search results? Using tools like Screaming Frog, do you find lots of 404 errors, meaning links within your website are broken or don’t exist?
- Speed: using Google PageSpeed Insights, does your website score well for desktop and mobile devices? This tool will give you lots of technical recommendations to improve the speed and usability of your website.
- Content: is the content on your website easy to read? Using tools like Readable.io, you can input your page content and get a score of how easy it is to read your text against the Flesch Reading Ease chart. It goes without saying that content that your visitors can’t easily understand (particulalry mobile users, who are more likely to scan text than read it) will lower your conversion rate. Remember, tools like this will make sure your content is easy to grasp, but that doesn’t necessarily say that your content is quality for website visitors. Spend some time crafting your page text.
- Security: having SSL/HTTPS offers a minor boost to your website in search rankings and also conveys to your potential customers that they are shopping with security. With the introduction of GPDR in the EU from May 2018, you may need to restructure how and what data your website collects and stores. I don’t have a resource for this, but it is most definitely something that you should consider.
Redesigning Your Website
If you’ve identified areas for improvement in next to all of the above, your business has refocussed it’s target market or is looking to completely overhaul it’s appearance and functionality online, it may be time for a new website. A complete redesign and development would mean building a new website from the ground up, making this the most expensive option.
You’ll go through the process of discussing your requirements, what you’d like to achieve via the website – sales, email sign ups, bookings, enquiries and so on. With a clear understanding of how you’d like your website to look and what you’d like to achieve, your chosen web agency can begin to craft your new website.
Optimising Your Existing Website
Unless it’s abundantly clear that your website was designed and deployed in 2004, it is by no means a lost cause. Using the tools previously mentioned, you can quickly highlight areas for improvement and prioritise from there. Rather than a website redesign, we tend to call this ‘website maintenance’ as large sections of your website may stay the same or work the same, but the overall product is fixed and improved.
My recommendation would be to tackle issues in this order, though you can achieve the same end-goal in any order.
- Conversions: look at any existing data you have (if applicable). Before reworking your website in any way, you need a clear plan of the path you want website visitors to take, which usually takes the form of a flow chart. Once a visitor finds your homepage, what do you want them to do next? Plan your call to actions, your category structure and how you’ll fit all of your pages into easily accessible menus.
- Responsive: before you plan on actually drawing in any extra website traffic, you should ensure that your website is easily accessible and usable on all devices – desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile.
- Speed: website speed should be at the forefront of the mind of any web designer or front-end developer. It should be built into your website and not an after-thought. Whilst your agency works to make your website responsive, remind them it should be fast. Image and file compression/minification and caching are your friend.
- Security: when working with a web agency to ensure your website is responsive, they’ll be working through the code behind your website anyway. This makes now a great point to add extra security in the form of HTTPS and SSL.
- Content: regardless of who visits your website and on what device, if your content is substandard then you’re going to lose customers. Do not spend on marketing before you have perefected the look and content of your website.
- Optimisation: by this point, your website should look great, work great and read great. Now it’s time to up your optimisation so that this great new version of your website is found in search engines, the likes of Google, Bing and more. The points below are trivial, and extensive optimisation involves much more work that should be left to professionals – you don’t want to see Google remove your website entirely!
- Meta Data: ensure that your website has appropriate optimisation meta data – title and description as a bare minimum. Tools like WordPress SEO will populate this for you as you fill out the SEO section on each page.
- Image Tags: images can have both title and alt attributes – fill these in for each imae on your website appropriately.
- Valuable Links: include useful links across your website and in your content to external websites, and try and get other (quality) websites to link to your website. Search engines like information and authority – if it can be presumed that you’re influential in your sector and your website has lots of useful information then you’ll see yourself climb the search rankings.
- Work you’ve already done! Yes, really! Factors such as SSL and website speed are contributing factors to helping your website improve position in search results.
Throughout 2017, there has been news of email hacking and vulnerabilities – you can use the website ‘Have I Been Pwned?‘ to check if your email address has been included in any of the public email ‘dumps’ over the last few years. If it has, this post will run you through the process of migrating to a new email address and securing yourself!
Many of us, myself included, have an email address that we hate but are still forced to use. Whether you hate it because ‘email@example.com’ isn’t something you want to put on your CV, because you don’t like your webmail provider (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo etc.) or simply because it just gets inundated with spam from years of website signups is irrelevant. If you hate you’re email address, get a new one and be responsible with where you use it. But it’s not that easy, is it?
I’ve recently went through the process of doing so – here’s my tips to make the transition a nice and easy one. You’ll want to keep access to your existing email address for now at least.
As always with our posts, the links posted are not endorsements and we do not gain any benefit from them – we’ve genuinely found them useful and we hope you do too!
1. Choose a new email provider
If you’re creating a new email because you hate the service you use now, it’s time to research who you think is best. Of the larger companies, Google’s Gmail is my preferred option for their extensive spam filtering and the ability to quickly tie your Google Docs, Slides and Sheets to that email.
As a techie, I also decided to go for Gmail because of the ability to easily setup domain names with G Suite’s MX Records. For a few pounds, I purchased a domain name that I wanted, i.e. petersemail.co.uk to use for email and signed up for G Suite at a cost of around £4 (including taxes) per month. For that cost I get 30GB of storage space for emails and the security of Google – easy to configure two-factor authentication, etc. I could then use Gmail to manage my emails, but also have the unique email address of firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the sake of this post, I didn’t really register petersemails.co.uk but did create a new email address with a domain name, this is just an example address to show what you can do!
2. Create the email address
Having done your research, it’s time to dive in. Registering a new email address through most companies is trivial – you’ll typically be asked for either a phone number or a backup email address that can be used to authenticate who you are and can be used to recover your account if you ever forget your login credentials. Since we’re looking to get rid of our old email address, it makes sense to authenticate by phone.
In a few minutes, your new email address should be good to go. You’re well on the way to escaping that old address!
3. List where you’ll need to change your email address
Accounts on almost every website require an email address. Whilst you’re creating a new address partly to escape spam and the emails from most of these sites, there will undoubtedly be some that you still use. Here’s some examples that you may need to change. Remember to check your ‘Email Preferences’ within each site too – it’ll help you cut down on marketing and non-important messages.
- Social Media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest etc.
Whilst some of these require a username rather than an email to login, if you forget your password then you’ll most likely need access to an email address to recover the account.
- Finance – PayPal, investment portfolio sites, Internet banking, mobile phone carrier.
Essentially, any company that sends you e-bills, statements, renewal notices or important information will of course need your newly created email address.
- Subscriptions – Apple, Spotify, Microsoft
Websites that you have a subscription with for services like Apple Music or Microsoft Office 365 will need your most frequently used email address. Again, they’ll send you bills and need this email address to recover lost passwords etc. If you’re an avid Apple user like me, you’ll most definitely want to change your Apple ID and re-login to each of your Apple devices.
- Key Services – education and health.
Does your school/college/university/doctors practice contact you using a private email address? They’ll need your new address.
- Travel & Commuting – online bookings and garages.
If you’re a frequent traveller, you’ll want to make sure that your most recent bookings and any future details are received by your new email address. For drivers reading this post, car garages, insurance providers and breakdown cover companies use your email address to send information rather than via post. You may get email alerts to warn you that your car is approaching it’s due date for an MOT. Even the DVLA can contact you via email if you choose to tax your vehicle online.
- Other Favourite Websites – online shopping.
All of your most frequently used websites that require an account would be best to be notified of your new email. Shopping websites of all types are typically reliant on an email address to contact you with order confirmations etc. Even websites that rely on a username will require an email as backup if you lose your credentials.
Not all newsletters that hit your inbox are spam, so you may wish to either sign up again with your new email address or change your subscription settings to send to a new email address. For me, this was the Smashing Magazine e-shot and Gary Vaynerchuck weekly digest but it could be from your gym, favourite companies, charities or other organisations.
- Family, Friends & Colleagues
Can’t forget about them, unless that’s what you’re trying to escape. Remember to notify close friends and family of your new email address. You may choose to share it with colleagues or just leave them to contact you through your work email address.
4. Update your accounts
Most websites make changing your email address easy. There’s typically a ‘Settings’, ‘My Account’, ‘Preferences’ or ‘User Details’ pane that quickly lets you change this information. Websites such as Apple will email your old email address to notify you of the change and also email your new address to verify it’s still you, so it’s good to have access to all of your email accounts for the time being.
Some services such as insurance or banking may ask for you to contact them over the phone and confirm your identity before changing your email address – this may seem like overkill, but remember it’s your money and your protection on the line.
Whilst this can feel like a bit of a time consuming process, it’s worth it in the long run.
5. Set an auto-response on your old email
Most major webmail providers allow you setup an auto-responder. Essentially, every email that reaches your inbox is sent a response message immediately. You may wish to setup a message similar to the one below on your old account.
Thank you for your message. This email address is no longer in use and is therefore checked infrequently. If your message is important, please contact me by other means. I will reply to your message when possible.
Note that the message above does not share your new email address or any other means of contact. By now, you will have updated your acounts and shared your new email address with those who you want to be contacted by, so sharing your address in an auto-response only opens yourself up to more spam, making the whole process pointless.
6. Transition to your new email address
It’s now safe to use your new account as your daily email address, so put it to work!
With that said, it’s always possible that someone or something of importance has slipped through the net and still uses your old email address as a main method of contact.
For the first month of creating a new email address, check your old one on a weekly basis. This gives you the opportunity to catch any important emails you’ve missed fairly quickly and contact the sender with your new information.
For the next two months, check your old email address fortnightly. By this point you should be confident that anything of importance will reach your new email address but it’s sensible to check every few weeks “just incase”.
For the next few months check your old email address monthly. After three months, you should have all of your accounts, even the ones you missed initially, sending to your new email. Checking monthly is a sensible option going forward for upto the next 9 months in case you’ve forgotten anything that renews annually.
After one year, you’re good to do. Having periodically checked your old email even for annual reminders and updating your contact information where relevant, you should be ready to completely rely on your new email address.
7. The aftermath of your old email address
Some webmail providers offer the ability to ‘deactivate’ or delete email accounts, which you may wish to do. I’d recommend against this as even though you don’t regularly use this old address anymore, you may still want to check it every few months for periodic messages.
You could even use your old account to sign up to websites or newsletters initially to test the content – if you decide the emails are good, update your preferences to your new account, if not then just leave it to send to your old one.
A blog or new page on your company website is a great way to expand your footprint online – more content and more posts means more information that can be indexed by search engines, the likes of Google and Bing. It also means your potential customers can find out more about your business and your expert insights. Content they might not always find on your standard website pages.
However, there a few more things to consider…
A blog page of your website requires a certain amount of commitment. Whilst a news section on your website is great, failing to maintain it can in fact be detrimental to your business.
Hyptohetically, if you were to visit a company website, read about them and then visit their news articles to discover it was last updated in 2015, would you be more or less inclined to contact them? You can sometimes ‘get away with’ not updating your main website content, but blog post and news articles typically have post dates. For it to appear that you haven’t taken the time to update your website content in almost two years, you can forgive a portion of potential customers for considering that you might not even be trading anymore.
So you’re commited to regularly updating your company news or blog page, but is your content up to scratch?
Posting ‘poor’ content can do more harm than good. When creating content, tailor it for humans to read – not search engines! You can use blog and insight posts to go into greater detail about your business, how you’ve created your process or your product and share your expert thoughts on relevant topics in the news, much like we have with GDPR.
If your content isn’t up to scratch, you can’t expect your website visitors to read it or engage with you via comments and shares.
If your website is built in WordPress, then the chances are you’ll have already installed a plugin called WordPress SEO by Yoast. Activiating this plugin will give you tonnes of pointers and tips to optimise your content both for readers and for search engines, by using tools such as the Flesch Reading Ease test. Aspects of your content, such as word count, keyword density and paragraph length will be traffic lighted red, amber or green which makes it easy to identify what you need to work on to craft the perfect post.
So what should I post about?
Great, so you’ve decided to start a company blog. What are you going to write about? Here are a few suggestions.
- Company Updates – let the world know about your latest achievements as a company. Have you taken on new staff? Won an award? Moved to bigger premises? This is genuine organic content – when someone searches your company name, there’s a chance they’ll find these posts and see that you’re actively and positiviely promoting your business, your staff and your growth.
- Expert Insights – use news websites and articles releveant to your sector to find topics you create a post on. You can then create content and outline how the details of the original article apply to your business or your market sector. Within web and technology, data protection and GDPR are big talking points, so we made a post on how GDPR will affect us.
- How-To Guides – if you’re a consultant or a company that offers a servcie rather than a product , your knowledge and information can be your main product and you don’t want to give that away for free! How-To blog posts and ‘Tips to…’ will draw in visitors who are looking to achieve a task on their own, your post gives them some advise and if they’re unable to complete what they’re looking for, the first the place they’ll go back to is your blog post where low and behold is your contact information. For example, we posted ‘The comprehensive website checklist‘ and following that post, saw an increase in enquiries to help small businesses optimise and improve their website based on our tips.
This isn’t a definitive guide to using a blog for your company, but hopefully it’s enough for you to be able to make a decision on if a blog is suitable for your website.
In our previous post, Meet the MD, you had the opportunity to gain a little bit more insight into how Tad Web Solutions was founded and how it’s managed by Ian Elcoate. Apprenticeships have been and continue to be a key part of our business, so now lets take a few minutes to meet our current apprentice, James.
James has been an apprentice for Tad Web Solutions for little over nine months now. An aspiring web designer, he is involved in many of our ongoing projects, helping to create great looking websites and user interfaces for our clients. Here’s an opportunity to learn a little bit more about him.
As an apprentice, what is your job role?
My job role is Junior web designer, meaning I am tasked with planning, creating and coding the web pages that clients want as part of their website. As I am still learning I have recently been given the task of managing my own project. This means I have to meet with the clients and liaise with them regularly.
How have you found your apprenticeship so far?
My apprenticeship so far has been great – I have had all of the help I could need and more. Learning programming languages is fun and I enjoy doing it, it feels like a hobby that I have turned into a job opportunity. I have been part of the team for almost a year now and feel like I am settling in well as the guys here are great.
What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
I’d have to say it’s just coming in every day and being a part of it, if I wasn’t here I’d be in a classroom learning from a board where as in my apprenticeship I am learning on the job.
What’s your key to success?
Taking risks. You have to take the risks that you believe in and don’t allow other people to tell you otherwise, if I didn’t leave mainstream education I wouldn’t be enjoying what I do today.
New data protection regulations will be in force from May 2018 in the form of GDPR and anybody who stores data needs to be aware of what is coming, what it means for them and what measures they need to add to their websites and data storage procedures to comply with the regulations and in doing so protect their clients’ data.
We’re currently embarking on this process for Tad Web Solutions and happen to be very lucky in that we have access to a security expert who is helping us out with advice and support on how we can review, plan and implement new procedures and processes through small incremental chunks to manage the whole package of GDPR requirements.
Our first step is simply to identify the data we absolutely require to operate the business. As a small business this will be less difficult than some, for instance law firms, who typically store lots of very personal data. We will then be looking at how the data is stored, consent procedures with clients, client access to their own data etc. Throughout developing our own system we will be seeking the advice of our friendly expert and plan to have robust and fully compliant procedures, written, implemented and followed at all times.
This means two things for our clients:
- Once complete we will inform you of our procedures, how you can see the data we hold on you, what your rights are and be asking for consent for data storage as we work with you. The data we store or have access to will vary from project to project depending upon complexity so the exact procedures may vary, for instance if you have a standard brochure website it will be relatively simple but for a complex data-driven website where we regularly add functionality to your systems we may have access to more detailed data and require a more robust procedure.
- We will have developed systems and procedures that can be applied to many other small businesses and we could make these available to you, along with review of your specifics from our expert security contractor to reduce your costs for implementation.
Watch this space as our systems progress we will keep you informed and hope to provide some insights on our approach, issues that were raised and any implications there are for our clients.
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