All The Things Your Forgot To Design For Your App Or Site

If you are a  site or app  builder/designer then you should check out this post by Jon Moore on Medium – 50 Things You [Probably] Forgot To Design

This is just a list of things that you might have forgotten to design. When you think about how simple an app like Instagram or Snapchat is, it’s easy to overlook just how many screens, states, and stuff goes in to making a really awesome user experience.

A couple of my favourites, with my comments;

3. The “Thanks for Signing Up” Page – this should include designing the ‘thank you’ page that MailChimp kindly offers.

13. The 404 Page – it’s amazing how overlooked this page can be!

34. The Social Media Profile Images – they all need to be the same, except their size and possibly their colour and all the things that social networks ask you for


How I Find Time For Social With A Tablet

asus tabletLife can get very busy and it’s easy to run out of hours during the day. For many business owners, your time is taken up doing client work or admin. My typical day involves blog post writing and programming for client sites. Recently I’ve found a way to squeeze some extra time out of the day.

Now sitting on a shelf is my old Nexus 7 (2012) tablet, if you’ve had one then you’ll know just how unreliable they are now – battery problems and constant crashes.  It got to the point I just couldn’t use it anymore. So, I replaced it with an Asus 8inch tablet.

I’ve installed the standard selection of social networking apps, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc. In the evenings, I can grab the tablet and start responding to messages or add my own updates. I can do this while food is cooking or when listening to music. When there’s a gap, I can quickly do what I need to.

Along with the social networks, I’ve also added productivity apps. There’s plenty of good ones out there but the apps I find very useful include Trello, Evernote, IFTTT and of course Dropbox. I can pick up the tablet and check my diary or my to-do list that I’ve created on Trello.

Using Facebook on my tablet is a better experience compared to the website. The same goes for Pinterest and Trello.  I’ve even found an app that allows me to track client time. – Gleeo Time Tracker. It’s not brilliant but so far it works and not overly complicated.

Alot of what I do on the new tablet I did try on the old one. However, as it was unreliable and kept crashing, the experience was terrible. Instagram is so much better on a faster tablet with a bigger screen, so is Pinterest for that matter.

My tablet is now part of my ‘toolkit’ and helps me stay organised and in touch. Not sure I could do without it now.


It’s 2017 And Time You Re-Evaluated How You’re Using Twitter

re-evaluated twitter usage for business

Looking back at the last few months of 2016, I think we can agree that Twitter has become a large echo chamber. No one is really clicking links anymore and it’s really difficult to get anyones attention. Well, unless of course you are a public figure with a huge following and a very engaged audience.

The thing is, Twitter is still being recommended as a platform ‘every business’ should be using. Not only that but because small companies have little time to provide relevant platform specific updates, they are using automation services that posts the same thing to every social network they are on.

In 2017, it’s time you re-evaluated how you are using Twitter. Here’s a few things that I’m testing out and other things I’m looking to try out…

Use images

Every Twitter update should have an image with overlayed text – if possible. You have to do something that makes you stand out from all the other tweets. For my other site, I try to use an image for each post with that blog posts title overlayed on it. Wherever I share that post, the image should catch someone’s eye and bring them to the site.

Text of a tweet

The text of your tweet shouldn’t just be the title of your blog post. Be creative with your writing but don’t mislead! Ask questions, share things and try to be engaging.


Nothing wrong with automation – per se. You can schedule your posts but ensure each one has an image and the text is  more than your blog post title. Again, be creative with your words.

Blog post title as a tweet

If you blog post title is good enough as a tweet, change the capitalisation and make it seem more like sentence.  It will be seen as an automated post otherwise and just simply ignored.

Get involved!

Engage! Respond to people, thank them for following and ask questions back. Do something that will start a conversation! You can use Twitter search to find out what people as saying in your industry. Don’t wait for the world to get in touch, be proactive!

Getting followers

Each time someone follows you, use Twitters recommendations and follow similar people. As Twitter users tend to follow back (in my experience) you can thank them and start a new conversation – even if you just asking about the weather!

If you have similar ideas to share, leave a comment below or get in touch…

Help Your Eyes, Take Regular Breaks!

eyestrain take breaks

There’s on thing I am terrible at, and that’s taking regular breaks away from the screen. I love blogging and could spend all day at it. However, that’s not very good for maintaining consistent concentration, your eyesight and your health in general.

Two of the major problems bloggers and I guess anyone else who spends a lot of time in front of a screen, is eye strain. That’s why taking regular breaks is so important. The other problem is that sitting around all day is not good for you. You’re not getting any exercise and that can lead circulation and heart problems.

I found some good advice on the post, ‘Workstation Ergonomics: Take a Break!‘…

Eye breaks – looking at a computer screen for a while causes some changes in how the eyes work, causes you to blink less often, and exposes more of the eye surface to the air. Every 15 minutes you should briefly look away from the screen for a minute or two to a more distant scene, preferably something more that 20 feet away. This lets the muscles inside the eye relax. Also, blink your eyes rapidly for a few seconds. This refreshes the tear film and clears dust from the eye surface.


Rest breaks – every 30 to 60 minutes you should take a brief rest break. During this break stand up, move around and do something else. Go and get a drink of water, soda, tea, coffee or whatever. This allows you to rest and exercise different muscles and you’ll feel less tired

I’m working on my own routine where I take breaks every 60 – 90 minutes. This allows me to get most of a blog post written before I start refining it. Also, I try to go for a long walk around 4pm each weekday just to stretch my legs and to get some fresh air.

There’s a handy Chrome plugin that I use called ‘Timer’. You can find it on the Chrome store here and takes moments to install. You can set the alarm to go off in 10,30, 60 and 90 intervals. If you’re already working in Chrome for blogging, then having an alarm built-in as it were, makes it very handy.

There’s another benefit that I’ve experienced while using Timer, it gives me a deadline to work to. I’ve often found that working to a deadline means I concentrate better and not get distracted by Youtube or Facebook. I know that when the timer has gone off, there’s a treat waiting for me, like a cup of tea or something to nibble on. I’ve found that it also encourages in a different way. If I get my work done and there’s time left, I fill that gap with checking emails or tidying my desk up. The little jobs that need to be done but often left till much later.

It’s important to have a healthy attitude towards your work. It doesn’t matter if your are self-employed or work for a company, you must take care of yourself!


Curated Content And Analytics, Are You Checking The Right Numbers?

curated content analytics

When it comes to analytics for curated content, which measurements are the most important? Which ones can you ignore and which ones are irrelevant?

Sites with curated content have certain characteristics that they all share.  Their articles (lets call them blog posts for now) have a word count that’s going to be low, one or more outgoing links and not a lot of images.

This is important to understand: curation posts are, by nature, quick to read with plenty of reasons for the reader not to hang around.

This has implications for analytics, the important measurements for a content curation site are going to be totally different for most other sites. For instance, Business Insider and the BBC have much more in depth information and higher word counts in their posts. They will be measuring, for example,  bounce rate and engagement.

A curation post with around 300 words and two or three outgoing links, will take no time at all to read and the visitor will most likely leave via one of those links quite quickly. That’s what happens and is totally normal. However, the analytics will show a high bounce rate and little to no engagement.

So what is important?

On the Curata website, Pawan Deshpande has written a good post on which measurements you should be taking notice of. The post is dated 2013 but is still very relevant and matches my own experiences…

From Content Curation & Analytics: What to watch and what to ignore

Most content marketing strategies rely on the same analytic measures as any other online marketing campaign such as page views, visitors, and traffic growth. However, content curation is unique among content marketing strategies because it relies on third-party off-site content. As a result, audience behavior is very different from traditional online marketing campaigns where all content is consumed within a brand’s online properties.

He recommends to keep an eye on…

  • Page Views and Visitor Growth
  • Frequency & Recency
  • Count of Visits
  • Days since Last Visit

Curated content is there to do a job, perhaps as part of a social media marketing strategy. If you’re not looking at the right measurements, the ones that really matter, then you will be getting the wrong idea of how things are going.

It’s important to have a plan, you need to ensure you know why you are curating content and what you are trying to achieve. That way, the analytics you should be looking at will have more meaning and give you the feedback you need.

The Ingredients Of A Food blogger – Plans, Patience And Uniqueness

food blogger

I am a food blogger, well to be more accurate, I curate content created by food bloggers. With the aid of my trusty RSS feed reader, I collect together posts that fit in with a particular theme and then write about them. Think of it as being like a curator of a museum who brings together interesting works based around a central theme.

I get to see an awful lots of blog posts, some are written really well and some have superb photography. Some of them are a pleasure to look at, the website design is spot on, the navigation is easy and the whole things hangs together just right.

However, the are many many more that are failing. Titles are uninteresting, the site design hurts the eyes and the photography is dreadful. Don’t get me wrong, the content is great. The food is terrific and the blogger puts in a tremendous effort to perfect their dishes. They are really good as a recipe creator and cook. But alas,  not everyone knows how to run a blog successfully.

Not all food bloggers are out for profit. For some, it’s a fun thing to do, and why not? Good for them I say! But if you are out to make money from your food blog then you have a lot of work to do. I don’t want to put you off blogging but this quote from Internet Live Stats should get you thinking…

There are over 1 billion websites on the world wide web today. This milestone was first reached in September of 2014, as confirmed by NetCraft in its October 2014 Web Server Survey and first estimated and announced by Internet Live Stats (see the tweet from the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee). The number had subsequently declined, reverting back to a level below 1 billion (due to the monthly fluctuations in the count of inactive websites) before reaching again and stabilizing above the 1 billion mark starting in March of 2016

So when you decide to become a food blogger, just remember there’s going to be lots of people out there already doing what you’ve been thinking about.

Not all is lost though, I like to think that there’s always room for someone else who an do it bigger, better and cheaper. Besides, how many website visitors does it take before you can start making money?

Here’s some things a food blogger should consider before getting started…

You may have mastered the art of cooking, but as a blogger you going to have to understand the Internet at a deeper level.

What are you bringing to the table? What is unique about your idea the will draw attention?

Food blogging is a not a quick way to riches. These days you have to be patient, very patient!

Once you understand what is ahead, you can make better plans. Better planning brings better results. And patience is what you need to stay the course and eventually see your plans bare fruit. As the old saying goes, “All things comes to those who wait”…

Ah Yes, About That Long Gap Between Posts…


Yeah, it seems that it been nearly a year since my last post. Quite a gap eh? No real excuses other than I’ve been working non-stop on my other site, Cookery Ideas. I’m now doing 4 posts a week plus a weekly newsletter. You’d be surprised just how much time that can take up.

That’s the thing about blogging most people don’t get. The time it takes to write something you think people want to read. The research, the writing, creating images for the post – the hours can easily slip past. But if you want your site to do well then it’s something you have to do.

Luckily for me, the tools I now use and the fact I understand more about what readers want, allows me to post with more confidence and therefore spending less time doing it.

I enjoy writing about food and the act of writing posts in general. It’s just me, the screen and some rather good music (Klaus Schulze at the moment). I find it kind of relaxing.

Now that I’ve got a handle on my working day, I plan to be here more often. Sharing my thoughts on blogging, the Internet and life in general. Hopefully my next post won’t take so long!


Three Basic Checks You Should Be Doing On Your Business Website


When was the last time you checked your website? Bringing up the site in your browser to check it’s still there is not enough. These are some of the checks you should be doing.

ONE – Test the contact form

Has your site stopped sending you emails from keen customers? It could be that your email contact form is not working. Check it out by filling in the form yourself and ensure you get the resulting message in your inbox.

TWO – Any updates pending?

WordPress sites will let you know that there are updates awaiting, once you have logged in and accessed the admin screens. Updates are important because they often include security enhancements. This helps to provide protection against hackers etc.

THREE – Download your site backups

Where would your business be without it’s shop front? Your website provides visitors with a look at what you are offering. If your site was to vanish, where would you be?

Making regular backups of your site means that you can restore it quickly when there’s a problem, either with the same host or another one. Do not rely on your current host to make them for you. They may not make backups regularly enough, may charge you for the pleasure or their backups do not include the WordPress database.

Can I help?

If any of this sounds too much for you or you have any questions then feel free to get in touch.

Gite And Holiday Rental Owners, Are You Spending Ad Money In The Right Places?


The question that gite and holiday rental owners often ask is, am I spending my advertising money in the right places?

If you are just starting out and want to know where to begin, then check out various forums and Facebook groups for advice. Members will give you a general idea of which sites work for them.

Those that have been running advertising for a while have the advantage of statistics, Google Analytic’s is a good example. You also have data from people who have booked, you can ask them which website they saw your details on that then led to them booking.

Lets take a deeper look.

Plenty of website visitors but no bookings

Google Analytic’s reveals that a certain holiday rental site (that provides listings etc) is sending your website a lot of traffic. On the face of it, that’s good. However, are you actually getting bookings from that traffic?

If bookings are low or non-existent, then there are two options…

  • Your website is not persuasive enough
  • The wrong kind of traffic is being sent through

Again, Google Analytic’s can help. Which pages are popular? Are visitors reading only a few pages? Are they reading the ones you want them to?

Plenty of bookings but do you know where they’re coming from?

This time we start with the booking information, take a look and see how they arrived at your site. Recommendation perhaps? From a site your forgot all about or perhaps from social media posts? It’s important you keep track of such things. Just because website X is sending you a lot of traffic, it might be site Y that actually sends people who are really interested and want to book.

The answer to the question is…

The answer is, you can work it out from the data you already have. There are plenty of free services that keep track of where website visitors are coming from. Take time to examine it and work out which site is being the most effective.

You may find that the site you always thought you should stay with actually results in a few bookings. If they provide no bookings at all then stop advertising and save money!

You could be surprised that the site you forgot all about is sending traffic that actually results in bookings.

The other key thing to remember is, what works for others may not work for you. Not only that, what works may not work for long. Marketing is the same for any businesses, test and measure and do it on a regular basis.


End Of Season Checks To Do On Your Website

Website jobs

For most gite and holiday rental owners, the end of the season means it’s time to put your feet up and enjoy some well earned rest. However, if you want the interest in your website to continue then there are a few things you need to do.

The Gallery

Summer is a great time to be taking pictures, not just of your own property but also people having fun. If you don’t already have a gallery page, create one and add your most recent photo’s to it. Share a select few on Facebook and provide a link to where they can find more on your site.

Winter is quiet but not totally inactive!

You really do need to keep writing posts all year round. Mainly to keep people interested but also to keep search engines visiting. Check with your local tourist office, the Marie and locally based sites that list events. Each post about what is happening in your area, what you are doing and even how you are improving your property will be of interest and contribute to next seasons bookings.

Website checks and maintenance

Now is the time to make adjustments to your site. Not just updating the pricing page but also making sure the site is working as it should. If you have a WordPress site, backup the database. If you are using Google Analytics, check to see which post or page is performing the best, and also the ones performing the worst. Check where incoming links are coming from and which advertising is bringing the most clients – work out where your money is best spent.

Of all the things you could be doing, I highly recommend you ensure your website is in good health and you are aware of which advertising is bringing in visitors who actually book with you.