Social Media Management – Responding to Negatives

Dealing with Negatives – Social Media Management

Businesses and public figures can both be affected by social media, for good or ill.

The first thing to recognise is that no matter how small you are, you can’t simply ignore social media because it certainly won’t ignore you.

Anyone serious about dealing with the public simply must have a social media presence and monitor it well.


It’s not possible to be everywhere at all times, waiting for someone to mention you or your business, but Google Alerts makes online
monitoring easy.

Simply set your Google account to alerts you by email whenever someone posts your business name online. Set up alerts for possible variations on
your name too.

Be vigilant on your own pages and spaces to be sure you know what is going on and what is being said.

When something negative happens, and it will, you have several options:

Be Like Switzerland, be Neutral

You can decide to ignore antagonistic posts and comments, and often this is the way to go. If someone posts a really horrible and rude comments about you or your business, as your Dad told you when you were a kid, it really does say more about them than about you. I know that sounds trite, but if you don’t react chances are others will react on your behalf, telling the poster to pull their head in.

These people are called “online morality warriors” or “angel trolls”. They haunt the internet looking for nasty comments so that they can tell the comment writer off and display
their own higher moral standards. Use them to your advantage.

Be a Spy

Have at least a couple of spare social media accounts you can use that are not related to yourself or your business. Then you can use these to anonymously tell off the offending poster if no online morality warriors have come to your aid yet.

If telling the commenter off doesn’t work or isn’t a good option, use your spy account to bury the post. Simply add random posts and replies on unrelated topics until the offending
post has dropped off the page.

Smother them in Honey

This option involves taking the post very seriously and killing them with kindness. Best suited to the more passive-aggressive personality, it works remarkably well and enables you to turn a nasty comment into a stellar endorsement.

Be understanding; be caring; even if you really want to scream.

I recently saw this done to great effect on Trip Advisor when a client’s customer had posted along the lines that “the place was filthy and the staff were rude”. Suspecting it was not a
genuine complaint (the place is always clean and the staff always delightful) the owner publicly replied asking politely for more details – date, what the staff member looked like, what they said, nature of dirt etc.

Further, my client said he would look into it as they “take these matters very seriously” and offered financial compensation if the person complaining would contact them by email.

Of course the complainer didn’t email any details, so after a couple of days the owner asked again on Trip Advisor, and again, and then began getting supportive comments saying “ignore the troll” and such, along with positive endorsements from people who had enjoyed the business.

Address Genuine Issues

Some issues are real. Don’t forget that. No business is perfect.

So if a real issue is brought to your attention be grateful, thank the poster and explain what you will do about it.

Sometimes it is simply a misunderstanding, such as the time a client was attacked on Facebook because they had “closed down their shop and done a runner” keeping the poster’s deposit for goods. They hadn’t, they had simply moved into larger premises down the street.
In this case the business owner apologised, saying that they emailed all customers and the poster should have received said email.

Turned out the poster had thought it was spam and ignored it, but his apology was glowing and when he also received a small freebie from the business he became one of their best advocates.


People Use Mobile and Desktop Devices in Different Ways

People Use Mobile and Desktop Devices in Different Ways

85% of people say mobile devices are a central part of their everyday life, so obviously your website needs to be RESPONSIVE to perform well on the tiny screen.

However, the way people use their mobile is quite different to how they use a desktop PC.

So, what are the essential differences between how people use mobiles and tablets compared to a desktop PC?

1. People have very different objectives when using a mobile compared to a desktop PC.
A desktop PC will be used to find details of products or services, whereas a mobile device is more generally used for a quick search for specific information, such as price, contact details or opening hours.
Mobile users tend to immediately go back to their search results if the site they find is not optimised for mobile use.

2. “Content is King” regardless of the device.
When it comes to types of content, users generally don’t browse websites on their mobile device.  Research indicates that mobile users scan rather than digest content, so the way content is presented must be considered to compensate for the fact that mobile users pop onto your site for a very short time.

4. Desktop Users Still Outnumber Mobile Users
We cannot design entirely for the mobile experience because, according to Search Engine Watch, desktop visits last 3 times longer on average than mobile visits, with more pages viewed and half the bounce rate. This is because when mobile users land on a page they don’t want to pinch and resize, they want a mobile-friendly, responsive design to guarantee a smooth browsing.

With that in mind, after adopting a responsive design, most websites report a 30-40% traffic increase.

5. Some Businesses Do Not Consider What Users are Looking for on Their Website
To understand what users are looking for when browsing either on mobile or on desktop we have to look at their motives.

There is no doubt that users on smaller devices have different motives from those on desktop devices and the needs of a mobile visitor tend to be more utilitarian.

Serious errors occur when a website forces the mobile user to wait for pointless photos to load or, worse still, a video.

While desktop users are more open to design elements, such as images and boxed information, these do not suit the quick informational need of the mobile user.

6. Time Spent on a Page Matters
Mobile users are impatient!  According to KISSmetrics, 40% of people will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load and 46% of mobile users say they are unlikely to return to a website they had trouble accessing in the past.

With such a large volume of information literally in their hands, mobile users rarely go idle – a page is either open and  active on the device, or it is closed.

In contrast, desktop users will open tabs, leave them idle, and come back to them.  As Chatbeat found “the amount of time that people spend idle on landing pages actually correlates positively with their likelihood of returning to your site on future days.”

7. User Preference for Apps vs Web Sites is Still Debatable
This is a hotly debated topic.  Some researchers claim use of apps is rising, however, according to others the adoption of desktop apps is falling as users prefer browser-based sites.

The data is hard to analyse because mobile usage of apps is over 90% based  on Facebook and other social media apps.

It is difficult to make a case for the need for an app for the average online business, especially when the high developmental cost is considered.

8. Are Mobile Users are Younger?
No, data does not support this idea.
While younger users may use their mobile devices more to play music and check social media, the use for browsing websites (other than social media) shows no noticeable difference between ages groups.




10. Users Prefer Researching on Mobile, BUT Purchasing on Desktop
Mobile commerce has changed the way users behave. Users check reviews and compare prices while on the go. and when in a store 82% of smartphone users turn to their devices to help them make a product decision.

However, while mobile internet usage for quick research is on the rise, people still tend to switch to desktops to complete their transaction.  37% of mobile users said that they use their mobile device to do research, but they go to the desktop to make the purchase.


In order to cater for the needs of mobile users keep in mind:

  • Easy adaptability between screen sizes
  • A fast website that offers an instant response
  • Obvious phone  number and contact details
  • Accurate and up to date information
  • Easy navigation

When  considering how your website adapts to the mobile environment, one fact remains vital: 

Users always seek relevant, actionable information that helps them better their lives, so help them achieve exactly that.

Facebook or Instagram – Which is Best for My Business?

If you plan to market your business via social media, it is important to know where to spend the majority of your time and effort.

Today, the 2 big players vying for business marketing are Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook is by far the bigger, with an estimated 1.1 billion visitor every month compared to Instagram with 500 million a month.

So what are the similarities and differences, and how might one be preferable for your business than the other?

  1. Size: Because Facebook is much older than Instagram it has a much larger database of users.
  2. Demographics: Facebook has an older demographic than Instagram.
    If you are targeting a younger demographic Instagram is the better platform to use, but because Facebook has older users you can target people who statistically have a higher income and higher spending power.
  3. Engagement: Engagement refers to sharing, liking and commenting on posts.
    Facebook has more users but Instagram ranks better for engagement and sharing. The choice of Facebook versus Instagram may be different for different kinds of businesses. A business that uses a lot of visual attention-grabbers to advertise may find Instagram a bit better than Facebook, especially if the target audience is young.
  4. Targeting: Both Facebook and Instagram allow you to target your audience by location, gender, interests and age group, so much of a muchness there.
  5. Linking: A major downside for businesses wishing to use Instagram is that Instagram prevents clickable links in photo captions or comments. That feature is only available in paid ads. This can be very frustrating when you want to encourage people to visit your business website.
  6. Videos: Instagram was developed fort sharing photos and short videos. In the past, videos were restricted to 15 seconds but that has been increased to 60 seconds. If you want to share longer videos, Facebook would be preferable.
    Features: Facebook has numerous options such as groups, events, shops, and business pages, that Instagram lacks.
  7. Clutter: Instagram is uncluttered, clean and very easy to navigate compared to Facebook, so although your business may be accessible to a smaller audience than on Facebook, it may be more visible to that audience and lead to engagement.
  8. Campaign Management: Both Facebook and Instagram are easy to use when it running advertising and marketing campaigns. You can easily select your audience, track your campaigns, and see your reach and conversion rates.

Possibly the best advice, if you are unsure, is to dip your toes into both platforms and use the same posts, then monitor them to see which performs better for you.

As with all forms of advertising, knowing your market and where they are is vital.

Deadly Click-Bait

Click-Bait is the term used for those annoying headlines that promise something amazing, but lack any substance when you follow the link.

Examples include:

  • You will never look at ice-cream the same way again when you see this!
  • He called the police – but it was the next call that really turned things around!
  • He changed his name for a horrible reason, and now he is telling us why!
  • She made a sex tape but she never expected this!
    (You will notice, there is always an exclamation mark at the end)

However, as anyone who has ever used the internet can verify, these sorts of headlines are almost always misleading and lack any real substance. In short, they do not provide the information they promise and, from a marketing viewpoint (well, any view point), breaking promises is bad.

Audacious titles and headlines give a false impression to people and sensationalise blogs and articles. When that happens people who click on the links will be disappointed with the content and less likely to return to your website.

So why do people do it?

Why add click-bait to your site?

Click-baiting is used to bring a constant flow of traffic to a web site, but the reality is that it is often traffic that may not even be useful in the long-term.

Click-baiting is one of the bad side effects of an old fashioned approach to SEO (search engine optimisation) and site content marketing.
It originally started as a practice to hook readers and get them to click on your link from a social media site and visit your page.
The tactic was most prevalent among sites that rely of advertising placement for their income, such as UpWorthy, BuzzFeed and Distractify.
The idea was to show their own advertisers impressive traffic statistics.

Click-bait headlines aren’t clever and new any more, and for most people they are just annoying: just another form of spam cluttering up their lives.
Today, with some social media platforms like Facebook actually penalising it and Google reported to be looking at ways to drop sites that use it excessively, it is not even so much that click-bait might spoil your online reputation – it might even soon get your site blacklisted!

As with all bad practices, clients of self-styled “social media gurus” and “SEO experts” soon begin to realise that the traffic click-baiting is driving is not of any value to their business, but often they have invested thousands of dollars in these dodgy practices before the realisation dawns.

The cruel fact is that people who are attracted by catchy headlines are invariably not the customers that you are looking for anyway.

In summary, this is why you should avoid click-baiting:

1. Click-bait makes you look less authoritative
Click-bait tactics are not used by respectable companies or newsrooms. We do not see Apple or Microsoft using click-bait techniques. Nor do we see the ABC, the New York Times or the Guardian using catchy titles to attract traffic. Their quality of content attracts their traffic – and that is how it should be.
When you use tactics like click-baiting, you look like a desperate novice who is trying hard to grab attention and it backfires.

2. Click-bait attracts the wrong kind of traffic
Those who are attracted to catchy titles expect something sensational. Unless you are releasing a genuinely astounding innovation you should not indulge in sensational advertising because you are about to break a promise the moment your reader clicks. When they see your article lacks the substance you promised they leave your website disappointed.
Those who are NOT attracted to catchy titles are put off your business and look at you with disdain.
So, in the end, you get nothing at all.

3. Click-baiting is a fad that has passed its prime.
Click-baiting depends on terms and trends that reflect fad in our societies. They are attractive and are catchy only for a certain demographic and for a certain period of time. When the trend shifts, your content becomes irrelevant and no-one will bother to go back and read it again.

You cannot possibly create timeless content when you all you rely upon are catchy and trendy titles.

Timeless solutions depend on the quality of the content and the seriousness of what is being published.
If your article depended on titles to attract people, you probably are writing the wrong way.

Focus on your content so that it speaks for itself.

If you cannot write well, hire content writers who are efficient and talented. They should be able to write well without resorting to tactics such as keywords or click-baits, ensuring there is a certain level of quality to what you publish.

Aim to be respected as as business that is of high quality and be sure your writing reflects that aim.

SEO Tips – Don’t fall for an SEO scam

And now for some SEO tips…
SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimisation” or “search engine optimiser”.

A decent website design will include SEO as part of the building process. This is NOT a service you should expect to pay extra for when you first build your website.

However, if you have an existing website that is not ranking well, you may consider paying someone to improve the Google search rankings. You may decide to hire an SEO expert.

Deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision that can potentially improve your site and save time, but you can also risk damage to your site and reputation.

Google search results pages includes organic search results and often paid advertisement (denoted by the heading “Sponsored Links”) as well.
Before beginning your search for an SEO, it’s a great idea to become an educated consumer and get familiar with how search engines work.
We recommend starting with reading about Google Webmaster Guidelines and Google 101: How Google crawls, indexes and serves the web.

Some useful questions to ask an SEO include:

  • Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
  • Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
  • What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe?
  • How do you measure your success?
  • What are your most important SEO techniques?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How can I expect to communicate with you?
  • Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?
  • While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways.

Here are some things to consider:

  • One common scam is the creation of “shadow” domains that funnel users to a site by using deceptive redirects.  These shadow domains often will be owned by the SEO who claims to be working on a client’s behalf.
    However, if the relationship sours, the SEO may point the domain to a different site, or even to a competitor’s domain. If that happens, the client has paid to develop a competing site owned entirely by the SEO.
  • Another illicit practice is to place “doorway” pages loaded with keywords on the client’s site somewhere.  The SEO promises this will make the page more relevant for more queries. This is inherently false since individual pages are rarely relevant for a wide range of keywords. More insidious, however, is that these doorway pages often contain hidden links to the SEO’s other clients as well. Such doorway pages drain away the link popularity of a site and route it to the SEO and its other clients, which may include sites with unsavory or illegal content.
  • Be very, very wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue.

No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.

Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google.

Be careful if a company is secretive or won’t clearly explain what they intend to do.

You should never have to link to an SEO.

Choose wisely.

(Source Google Webmaster Tools)

SEO Tips. What Can You Do to Improve Your Own SEO?

Some simple general SEO tips for optimisation of your web site are as follows:

SEO Tips #1: Text is MOST important on your site. The more words you use to identify and highlight your service, product and position,the more likely you are to rank higher on the page during searches. Similar to the Golden Rule of Real Estate (ie: location,location, location), text, text, text is vital as far as SEO is concerned. So DON’T skimp on words!
Say as much as you can about your business, using key words that may lead a person to your site.
For example, if your business is selling tents, then you would probably need to enter some points highlighting certain aspects, such as quality fabrics, nylon vs canvas,metal or nylon zips, lightweight and compact. Whether the tent fabric is breathable or more durable or non-flammable etc. How to set up your tent,how easy tent setup is and selecting a site, also where NOT to set up your tent and camping safety tips.

SEO Tips #2: Avoid anyone who suggests “smoke and mirrors” , “hidden background programming” and “directory sites”. These will often REDUCE your Google ranking, as will having multiple domains all on the same site!

SEO Tips #3: Choose who you do business with wisely, as optimisation “scams” are increasing. So be wary of random emails offering these type of services.

SEO Tips #4: If your site used old school “back links”, it’s time to clean up your link profile as Google Penguin will penalise it. Cleaning up a penalised or non ranking website’s link portfolio is vital for the site to rank again.
Google launched the Penguin Update in April 2012 to better catch sites deemed to be spamming its search results, in particular those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings.

When Google’s Penguin update was rolled online forums and discussion boards were filled with webmasters sharing how the algorithm update has affected their websites.

The update was much bigger than reported, with websites being either completely destroyed by Penguin or boosted up the SERPs (search engine result pages).

Here is what happened with this update:

  • The Penguin algorithm became more sensitive to spam. Two main groups were hit the hardest:
    • older websites whose backlink profiles were never cleaned; and
      websites with links using the same anchor texts over and over again, therefore increasing anchor text density.
    • Some websites lost as much as 70% of their traffic, and rankings dropped by as much as 20%. More reports of websites dropping from the SERPs came in as the weekend came to a close.
  • Older websites with established and quality link profiles were not hit by the update.
  • Newer websites displayed the extreme effects of the update – those with steady months of quality link building shot up the SERPs quickly after the update, while those building on just a handful of keywords and those sites without established link profiles disappeared from the SERPs.

The latest Penguin update just goes to show how serious Google is at zeroing in on spam and low-quality links. If you haven’t cleaned up your link profile yet, or if you’ve already been hit by Penguin, it’s time to look at those links and start removing bad ones that can hurt your rankings and traffic.

SEO Tips #5: It’s really not that hard.

  • Create an honest site
  • Use plenty or text
  • Ignore scammers
  • Don’t try to fool Google – you won’t win 🙂

Nothing too small

It doesn’t matter how small your initial idea is, it may grow.

A great website does not need to be expensive.

Done right, you can begin with a small, simple site, and add on features as your business grows.

Call me on 8339 5728 to discuss how a website can help your business to grow and flourish.

Does My Website Look Big in This? Responsive Websites

Once upon a time, everyone had the same size computer screen. Remember those big, heavy, box shaped things that sat on every desk? Back then, web design was simple. If the site I made looked good on my screen, it looked good on everyone’s screen.

Then along came laptops, mini-laptops, mobile phones, smart phones and eventually tablets of every size and shape.

Today, a website needs to work, look good and be easily navigable whether it is on a big, medium, small or tiny screen, in both landscape and portrait orientation.

The term used in web design for this  adaptability is “responsive”.

A responsive web site will cunningly reconfigure itself like a contortionist, to fit any size screen or device. So if your site looks good on your office PC you can be sure it also looks great on your customer’s mobile phone.

But how to be sure?

We cannot possibly all own every size and configuration of screen to check our websites on, but it is possible to get a good idea by using a service such as Am I Responsive.

Most websites older than 10 years are unlikely to be responsive, so it’s a good idea to check. Older websites were “static” and while the screen size shrinks down when viewed on a mobile, it may well be too small to see or navigate easily.

Remember, if your customer cannot see your website clearly on their phone you may be losing their business.

Changing an existing static website to a responsive one should be a simple job for a web designer (we charge $200) as long as there is ready access to the server your site is hosted on.

Unless you require significant changes to the graphic style of your site it shouldn’t be a major inconvenience or cost much to make it responsive.

Of course, if you have hundreds of pages of content it will take a bit longer and cost more. However, your old, static site can remain visible to the public until the new site is completed and ready to launch.

So check your site today. Is it looking good on all devices? If not, give me a call.

Want to discuss changing your website to responsive?
Call Jane on 8339 5728.

Why do people ask you to copy & paste Facebook posts rather than sharing?

Why do people ask you to copy & paste Facebook posts rather than sharing?

If you use Facebook, then you will have seen these posts which end with “copy & paste, don’t share”.

Usually they relate to something that tugs at your heart strings, or it might be political or religious. You read the post and then see at the bottom the line “don’t share, copy and paste”.


If you agree with the post and think others should see it, surely clicking the SHARE button is the simple option; it is what it is there for, after all.

So why did your friend ask you to copy and paste and not to share?
I bet if you ask them they will say they don’t know.
I bet they simply copied and pasted it from another friend, who also didn’t know why.

There is one suggested reason people ask you to “copy and paste” rather than share that you can find on a few sites if you google, but it is incorrect. It claims that Facebook reduces the prominence of posts with lots of shares – it doesn’t. So that can’t be the reason for all these “copy and paste” requests.

However, clicking the SHARE button may carry audience restrictions. If your friend was using the “friends” audience setting, then if you share the post you may not always be able to set it to PUBLIC. Similarly, if your friend deletes the original post you shared, it may disappear from your posts too.
In this respect, it can be said that a shared post is less prominent that a copy and paste post, however, this is not the principal reason why those heart-tugging posts ask you to “copy and paste, don’t share!”

It should be fairly obvious that there are negative reasons for stating “copy and paste, don’t share!” so here are a couple I have found:


You are being asked to self-select yourself for something later.

When you simply share a post you like with your friends there is no way to track it further than your first share; no way to find out who else has shared it further on.

But if you copy and paste the post exactly, the potential future scammer can find you and target you.

Here is an example of how the “copy and paste, don’t share” request works

There has been a “copy and paste” post going around recently about animal abuse. As well as the directive to “Do not share” but instead “copy and paste” this, the post contains a key phrase with incorrectly spelt words.

A person who copies and pastes it can easily be found by searching Google with the operand “key phrase here”

The potential scammer can now see a long, long list of Facebook users who have copied and pasted the exact message about animal abuse.

Now they have a target list of people who they can be reasonably sure will react to a new post, a new “like” request, a new friend request, or some other “support us” plea that is related to animal abuse.

So you have self-selected that you are someone who cares about animal abuse and who is also perhaps a teeny bit gullible (or so the scammer hopes). You are now a target for a scammer and you are likely to soon be asked for money for some supposedly related cause.

Of course, this can work for any subject.
Key phases to look out for run along these lines:

  • “don’t scroll without typing amen.”
  • “if you woke up this morning and you are thankful every day while being bless scroll down and type amen”
  • “how many likes can she get?”
  • “this baby still cute, scroll if you are heartless”
  • “ignore if your heartless”
  • “keep scrolling if you are heartless”
  • “Ignore If You Have No Heart”
  • “Don’t scroll without saying R.I.P”
  • “This is so sad type AMEN and lets see how many amens and likes he can get”
  • “Don’t scroll without showing respect”
  • “Please don’t scroll down without saying “Amen”
  • “Don’t Press Watch Without Typing Amen”
  • “1 like = 1000 prayers Don’t scroll without typing amen”
  • “Would You Save Your Mother? Type Yes Ignore NO”
  • “Do you trust in prayers? If yes so please pray for this baby take a minute and type “Amen” your one amen is one prayer if you don’t love children so you can skip this”

The “type Amen” posts are particularly prevalent at the moment, so avoid those and, if you do happen to be religious, say a little prayer to yourself asking God to help whoever the subject of the post is (they may actually be real and if they aren’t God will know) and also pray for the scammer that they might find a better cause – then move on. God doesn’t really need you to type anything.


Another reason for the “copy and paste, don’t share” request is that by copying and pasting a message, you are creating another instance of the message that is not dependent upon the original. (Credit

If 5000 people share a hoax or fake news message by clicking Share, and for some reason that original message was removed (for example, deleted by Facebook for being fake!) then all those 5000 “shares” will vanish at the click of a mouse. If the original post being shared is removed, so do all of its shares.

The same doesn’t apply if you copy and paste a message, then post it. If 5000 people copy and paste a message to their own timeline, and the original gets removed, you still have 4999 instances of the message remaining on Facebook, since they are all separate posts, independent of each other.

Another reason, of course, is that it makes it harder to track down the person who started a hoax, since we’re all passing along a message in a digital game, and the privacy settings of many users often makes it impossible to track the original creator of a particular message.

This is a tactic often employed by hoaxers to help their posts remain on Facebook for as long as possible, and is most often the reason hoaxers prefer copying and pasting, as opposed to sharing.

In summary – don’t copy and paste posts on Facebook until you think for a moment about why you might be being asked to copy and paste.

If you feel strongly about a post, simply share it.
But always also remember to check if it is actually true first.
As a minimum, start by running it past Snopes or another fact checker of your choice and search for the original article.

Here is a wonderful guide to Facebook hoaxes and the perils of copy and paste requests with many examples of past hoaxes and the reasons they were created.


There are occasions when to copy & paste Facebook posts is appropriate, but that should be your decision. Don’t just copy and paste because the post asks you to – consider why you are being asked.
If a post specifically asks you to copy and paste, they really should tell you the reason why they are making the request.

Here are a few reasons I can think of to copy & paste Facebook posts rather than sharing them that, to me, seem quite legitimate:

  • When you’d like to share a post but need to edit it for clarity, spelling or grammar.
  • When sharing would compromise your friend’s privacy (eg the post has their kid’s names in it or their locality).
  • When you want to add an image to the post.
  • When you want to personalise a post.
  • When you are sharing information about a business or group that is important to you and you want to reach the widest audience.

20 Years on, what’s new in web design?

It’s no secret that I love web design!

I fell deeply, head-over-heels in love with the internet 20 years ago and changed the course of my career in marketing to specialise in this new technological dream.

It’s now 20 years since I produced my first website – a rather simple, single page for CPS Credit Union (now Beyond Bank) that would take less than 5 minutes now, but back then took many weeks!

That first foray into web design lead to a passion. I loved the complexity of the coding and the challenges of graphic design. That first web site had to render well on monotone screens as well as colur because, believe it or not, colour monitors were only a new product at the time.

To say that web design has changed a lot in 2 decades is stating the obvious. But one of the thrilling things about being a web designer is that you constantly need to stay abreast of new trends, changes and technologies.

So, what major trends are influencing web design today?

There are 3 major factors that are currently affecting web design:

1. Google standards
2. Variety of screen size displays
3. Touch screens rather than mouse
3. Better speed to load

Google now ranks websites that are optimised for display on multiple screens (phones, tablets, desktops etc) higher than sites that are not. In Australia, between 81-83 percent of all internet access is now via a phone or tablet (Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, June 2014).


The trend to viewing on a small screen means that in terms of graphic design websites have become clearer and cleaner with pared back graphics.

Logos (headers) are smaller and simpler and using complex background images now makes your site look old fashinoned.

Flexibility is king and anything that gets in the way is removed.

Having a video on your home page, once a sign of class, now means you will put people off, especially if it is set to play automatically and has a soundtrack. Firstly because this means your site takes longer to load on a device that is using a roaming signal (like an iphone) and secondly because, if you are in public, it can be really embarassing if someone’s ad starts blaring from your phone.

Fixed percentage width and centre aligned sites are making a come-back.

The was a short lived trend for full width sites, where no matter how narrow or wide your screen was, the site would fill from one edge to the other. Unfortunately, this lead to the edges being blurry on some devices, so the trend has returned to widths that leave a sophisticated small border again.

Stock images are dead! Yay!

Recent analysis shows that stock images, and especially those ones of “professional people at meetings”, rather than giving the impression that a business is dynamic and competent, actually makes a business look rather dodgy. People recognise stock images for what they are and using them makes it look like you are hiding something. Better a photo of your staff taken on a phone camera than using fake people.

People like the personal, not the corporate.

They want to do business with real people and these days the use of stock photography is likely to give the first impression that your website is some sort of scam. After all, that’s what scammer’s site look like.

Responsive Web Design (RWD)has been around for a while. Up until recently, most design emphasis was placed on making the site look great on desktop devices, and just ok on mobile and tablet devices. RWD has moved toward making every experience look great no matter the device.

With this move, we are starting to see design elements that begin from the point of taking what works on mobile devices and implementing it site wide.

Menus are where you expect to find then – in the upper right of the small screen and horizontally across the top on the big screen. It’s really quite odd when you think about it, how website menus move about and can sometimes even be difficult to find!

This would never happen with a book, would it? You always know that in a book the content will be in the front and the references will be at the back, so why hide these things in tricky places on a web site?

If you produced a web site because you wanted people to read about you or your business, don’t be tricky and hide your content. That’s just silly.

And while on the topic of hiding your content, gone too are those irritating, slow loading, “just wait while I draw it” graphics. Really, nobody has time for that sort of self indulgent twaddle and nothing else attacts a back button push quite like being expected to wait in order to see something.

Mouse-over images are also gone. With over 80% of all internet access being via a touch screen, mouse-over images are clunky and redundant. They slow your site and don’t work anyway if you aren’t using a mouse.

Bigger text, even huge text, is sensibly making a come-back.

Maybe this is due to the ageing of the generation X web designers who these days need glasses themselves, but it is a welcome change, especially on small phone screens. And incidentally, if your text is considered too small, Google will now penalise you by dropiing your ranking.

Your viewer wants to get a preview of all you have to offer right on the first page so the trend is towards home pages that are much longer in order to create a dynamic interaction between the website and the viewer. So the first sentences should be who we are, what we do and where we are.

Scrolling is not an issue on touch screens, but using menu links may be. Over 90% of visitors to a wen site never go past the first screen, so get your details there!

Skeuomorphic design is being replaced by flat design.

Skeuomorphic design refers to the trend to take objects from the physical world and render them on a screen, such as making objects like “buttons” look 3 dimensional, so that the user “presses” them when they click.

This design trend began in the mid 90s because websites mirrored the buttons people were familiar with on household objects.

Similarly, in the 90s there was a trend for websites to have notes that looked like bits of paper, paper clips attached to the borders, 3D effects like drop shadows and notice boards that looked like pin-up boards. However, twenty years on, internet users are completely familiar with the online environment and visual clues suggesting what to “press” are no longer necessary.

what is the point of clickbait

Clickbait is a pejorative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines or eye-catching thumbnail pictures to attract click-through and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social media.

These are the sort of headlines you’ll see on clickbait articles:

  • Man hugs a dolphin. What happens next will blow your mind!
  • 3 facts about oranges that will change your life FOREVER!
  • What this little kid can do with a tin can will amaze you!
    And when your curiosity is piqued, you click, and you are inevitably disappointed.

But it is not just the disappointment that should make you wary of clickbait, it is also the fact that clickbait is SELECTING you.

That’s right!

We know that clickbait sites are all about getting you to see the advertising content; usually for some pretty dodgy stuff. Advertising for goods and services that you think to yourself you would never personally be gullible enough to fall for.

Yet, by the very action of clicking on the clickbait headline, when you should know better, you have just self-selected yourself as a gullible person.

Clickbait is a trend that any reputable online marketer will studiously avoid.

Why? Because resorting to clickbait in an attempt to capture user interest can do more harm than good for your brand in the long term..

Sure, it grabs people’s attention because the headline is clever or funny, but clickbaits always fail to deliver what is promised, leading to distrust or, worse, damage to your reputation.

Instead, focus on what is valuable and learn to write powerful headlines without resorting to clickbaits.

Remember that content is king and, ultimately, quality always wins.

It may be true that capturing the attention of your audience is just half the battle, but keeping them engaged is another story.

What you provide after the headline matters more.

It is better to have ten people read your online article because it is relevant to them and they are genuinely interested, than to have a thousand click on it and become instantly disappointed.

People tend to stick with those they can trust, who deliver what they promise, so avoid clickbait and look after your online reputation.