Page Speed: How it impacts your SEO

In 2010, Google announced that page speed would impact your website ranking. This actually refers to the time a visitor has to wait until your page is completely loaded. On average, a page roughly takes 5-7 seconds, whilst the ideal load time is around 3 seconds or less.

A badly designed website can be the cause of slow loading times, chances are potential customers will just close your website and visit a competitor. A slow page load is penalised by the search engines and has an impact on your ranking, both on mobile and desktop devices. Google states:

“A search result for a resource having a short load time relative to resources having longer load times can be promoted in a presentation order, and search results for the resources having longer load times can be demoted.”

So, there are a few factors you should focus on to improve your page speed.

  • Web Hosting: You get what you pay for. Cheap web hosting can damage you in the long run. Pick a reputable host.
  • Images: Large images can have a serious impact on page speed. Uncompressed images, or images that aren’t scaled to the correct size can also have a negative effect.
  • Themes: Some CMS themes tend to contain a lot of ‘bloat’ by default, some of which you may not require in order for your site to function correctly.
  • Code: If your HTML/CSS isn’t efficient or too dense, this can cause a low page speed score too.
  • HTTP Requests: The more you have, the slower the loading time of your site will be. Try to combine CSS and merge Javascript files when possible.
  • Page Size: Having to load a 1-4MB site via mobile on a 2G/3G connection is a recipe for disaster. Gzip can be of some help here!

Everything improves when your site loads faster.

Google looks on you more favourably and tends to rank you higher. Users are happier, Bounce rates decrease, Conversion rates increase and you generally make more sales!

Is your website slow? Not ranking well on Google and other Search Engines? Get in touch today to see how we can help.

Five festive Social Media tips!

With Christmas less then two weeks away, social media is a fantastic way to promote your business and engage customers, especially in high-spending times like the run-up to Christmas. We’ve put together five festive tips on how to make the most of social media marketing over the Christmas period.

1. Use multiple Social Media channels

It’s important to remember that customers and potential customers will be using social media over the Christmas period, but the chances are they don’t all use the same social media networks. GlobalWebIndex research found that the average person is signed up to 5 social media accounts and actively uses 3 of these. Make sure you’re using a range of social networks.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are currently the most popular Social Media channels in the UK but consider what might be useful or appropriate for your potential customers. Research has found that amongst young customers Instagram is a hugely popular platform.

2. Schedule a Christmas Day message

You may be tempted to think that Christmas Day is a day for giving your social media accounts a rest. However, with so many people receiving smartphones and gadgets, they’ll be logging onto social accounts to wish family and friends season’s greetings, and showing off their new gifts.

Sending out a ‘Merry Christmas’ message from your business is a good way to show customers you care. There are plenty of tools out there that allow you to schedule posts in advance, Hootsuite and Buffer are our personal favourites.

3. Run a fun, festive poll

Twitter’s new poll feature allows you to run a 24-hour poll. This is great chance to engage followers in your business by using relevant Christmas topics. Try to keep it fun and festive by asking questions that are debated this time of year such as ‘What is the best Christmas film?’ Also, try posting a link to your Twitter account on other social networks so you can get as many people involved as possible.

4. Use festive-related hashtags

Twitter and Instagram are where users discover and research all types of products. Last year there were over 282 million tweets from around the world about Christmas shopping. According to Twitter, 52% of users tweet about their Christmas purchases, and 69% are likely to purchase something from a small business that they follow on Twitter.

So, when you’re posting over the Christmas period on Twitter and Instagram feeds, be sure to use appropriate hashtags, like #ChristmasWishlist and #Christmas2015.

5. Provide regular updates

As we’ve already mentioned, Christmas is definitely a popular time for social media use, with everyone checking out photos of friends in their festive jumpers and house decorations. Make sure you take advantage of this by providing regular updates and posts. Think about what will be useful or engaging to your potential customers. Promotions, opening times, return policies, and other useful information whilst remembering to throw in a couple of fun facts to keep it light and in the festive spirit.


It’s always better to plan Christmas social media campaigns in advance, but these simple tips can still get planned and implemented quickly. While you’re implementing your Christmas social media campaigns, don’t forget to track your success!


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

christmas-chains-thumbnailIf it’s too cold and miserable to go out during your lunch break why not pass some time away with our Christmas Chain game? Beware though, it’s addictive!

Click here to play the Mercury Web Christmas Chain game!

If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, look out as we will be posting up a different game every day during the run up until Christmas!

If you would like your own branded game hosted on your own website to spread some festive cheer to your current and prospective clients, get in touch and we’ll put some ideas forward!

Contact Gareth Moore on 01482 782 287 or email

Optimising your website for Black Friday

Black Friday is essentially a US phenomenon that takes place the Friday after thanksgiving which has gradually been adopted in the UK in recent years, falling on the last Friday of November. The run up to Black Friday changed in the UK in 2014, with a heavy media focus leading up to the event.

2014 saw approximately 2.4M searches for the term ‘Black Friday’ with a prediction that this year the figure will increase to roughly 4M.

If your site isn’t ready for the demand, your sales won’t benefit.

To make the most of Black Friday, you’ll need to get started right away. We’ve put together a few tips to help you:

Eight tips to a stronger Black Friday SEO Performance.

1. Create a dedicated Black Friday Page – Creating a section of your website or a page dedicated to Black Friday which you can recycle each year will help your search engine presence. The age of the page and the equity from back-links are an SEO factor. Doing this is also a great way of inviting customers to register, capturing data and generating interest well ahead of the sale weekend.

2. Make sure your pages are relevant and content rich – Many Black Friday pages are thin on actual content, with many retailers just displaying a count-down timer. You need to make sure you maximise the length of your content to get ahead of your competitors.

3. Plan out your homepage – It sounds like a basic step, but some sites forget to add a link to their Black Friday section or webpage on their main homepage. It may be that you add appropriate banners to a slider and calls to action on the homepage to promote this limited-time sale. You may also think about adding a temporary top navigation link so users can navigate to specific sale items.

4. Get your deals out early – Various journalists and areas of the media like to have deals to write about in the run up to the event, so leak some deals early, but, make sure the purchase of these are disabled until the event starts!

5. Don’t forget the mobile! – A well thought out responsive design will make it easier for people to purchase products or find information on your website when they access it via a mobile or tablet device. Google also favours websites that are now responsive, so making sure your website is responsive is now a must! Be sure to do some user testing beforehand to make sure your site is easily accessible, this means checking all areas of your site, including the checkout process. It will protentially save you from problems and wasted advertising.

6. Revisit your load times – You should never underestimate the potential increase in traffic to your website. Various ‘Big Name’ Brands did this last year and their sites either crashed or had very long waiting times. Every one second delay in page load time decreases customer satisfaction by 16% and conversion rates by 7%. Make sure your website loads within three to five seconds. Images tend to be the culprit on most slow loading websites, so make sure they’re compressed as much as possible.

7. Tweak the tags! – Making changes to the META tags and descriptions can be beneficial, even if they’re only small changes. Utilise long tail keywords that are less competitive to attract a niche audience that is looking for exactly what it is that you offer.

8. Social Media – Be sure to use Social Media and target your audience at different times of the day. People tend to shop at different times of the day, so bare this in mind when posting. It’s also worth considering amending your header images on Facebook and Twitter to increase awareness.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner. If your website isn’t ready, your competitors are going to enjoy the success. It isn’t too late to prepare your website and optimise it for a profitable Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Not sure what it is you need to do, or not sure where to start? Get in touch with us below!

Search Engine Optimisation: On-Page vs Off-Page

When it comes to optimising your website there are many factors that play a major part in helping your website perform to its best. We’ve outlined below three on-page and three off-page techniques that can make a real difference to your website rankings!

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO refers to the parts of a website that influence where you rank on each of the search engines.

1. Optimisation of your title tags and META descriptions

Title tags and META descriptions are considered to be two of the biggest on-page elements for strong SEO.

Title tags tell the search engines what your page is about, and it strongly impacts search engine rankings. Meta descriptions are short page descriptions displayed in search results and are normally limited to 140-160 characters. These tell the visitors what your page is about, META descriptions can impact click-through rates.

2. Optimise your Page Content

It’s important to make sure your content is structured in a way that search engines can easily crawl and accurately interpret, whilst also making sure that it’s clear and easy to read for the end user too.

  • Does each of your pages contain at least 200 words of strong content that relates to the page subject?
  • Does each of your pages include just one H1 tag and relevanr H2 tags were needed?
  • Does the page have images with ALT tags?
  • Does each page of your site contain unique content?

Your website content should always appeal to actual users first, and search engines second. Try writing your content as if you were writing an article for a magazine or newspaper.

3. Locally optimise your pages

Google over the years and in more recent times has got a lot better at figuring out the location of a user so it can provide relevant local results. This means whilst it doesn’t need much help, it’s still worth looking at the following things:

  • Including the name of your closest city/town in your page titles.
  • Including the name of your closest city/town in your H1 and H2 headings.
  • Enabling click-to-call functionality on your phone number allows mobile users to easily call you.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is often thought of as a way of attracting visitors to your site, this normally involves activities you complete off of your website.

1. Social Media

Social Media is a good platform for promoting your blog. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are a good way of grabbing traffic It’s best practice to have social sharing buttons on your blog, so that readers can easily share your posts with others.

2. E-Marketing

Whilst E-Marketing isn’t seen as popular as Social Media or other off-page techniques, it’s still a good way of driving traffic to your website. E-Marketing tends to be more popular with E-Commerce based websites, that can regularly send out Cammpaigns to users who have previously bought items from them. If a campaign is done correctly, it can see a significant increase of click throughs, an increase in traffic which effectively means an increase in business.

3. Online/Offline News Items

We know that content creation and regularly updating is number one in terms of Search Engine Optimisation. It’s the best method of earning website credibility and a good way to drive more traffic to all of your website pages. The more unique, helpful and relevant content you produce, the more search engines like Google will favour you.

Whilst there’s no written rule as to how often you should update your content/blog, you should update it as often as possible, whilst at the same time making sure what your writing is of the highest quality and would be regarded as beneficial for potential visitors.

A well executed off-page SEO strategy will reap many rewards and benefits for your website

Which one do I need?

There’s no clear winner when it comes to on or off page SEO. It’s vital that both of these strategies are thought about prior to the development and then implemented correctly.

Your first concern is to get your on-page SEO correct so that all relevant search engines can understand and determine what content you have and then when you have enough high quality content published, to start thinking about various off-page techniques that can give you that extra push.

We’re here to help!

Not sure what it is you need to do? Have your rankings taken a turn for the worse? Get in touch with us below and we can talk you through the various options we have to help you climb the Google ladder!

Five reasons your visitors are leaving!

Attracting a potential customer is hard, grabbing their attention and retaining them is even more difficult. If you’re having trouble getting visitors to stick with you, consider whether you’re making any of the five common mistakes below.

1. Slow loading speed
Nobody likes a slow website and you only get one chance to make a first impression. If a potential customer visits your site and is hit with a webpage that is slow to load, chances are they’ll look elsewhere.

  • One in four visitors will abandon a website if it takes more than four seconds to load.
  • 46 percent of users will never return to a poor performing website.

With more and more people taking to the internet, it’s vital that page loading speed is taken into account when developing a new website. Page loading speed also plays a massive part in search engine optimisation (SEO). Google tends to rank sites that load quickly higher than sites that don’t.

2. Design
One of the main and obvious reasons people shy away from visiting your site comes down to the design. Web design trends tend to change yearly and keeping up with the trends can be a difficult task. If you want visitors to make use of your website, or return in the future, your website needs to look the part.

The design of your site is the first thing the visitor will see and visitors tend to trust a website more if it looks like it’s kept up to date visually, whilst at the same time useful to them.

Research has shown that it only takes 50 milliseconds for visitors to form an opinion about the visual appeal of a web page.

3. Navigation
The main navigation should be in a clear spot. Most websites tend to have the navigation at the top of the site, above, below or in line with the logo. The main navigation should be simple and clear and labelled accordingly.

Poor navigation is one of the main reasons visitors leave websites before they would have liked. Using a navigation that is logical and intuitive makes it easy for the user to navigate through your pages. When a visitor comes to your website it should be obvious what your business does and what the visitor is supposed to do next – the call to action.

4. Content
Your website might tick all of the above points, but if it isn’t updated on a regular basis with fresh and engaging content you could still be pushing potential visitors away.

Having a blog or a news section on your website is a great way of adding and ensuring content is constantly updated. The frequency of updates may vary depending on how often your visitors are returning. Once you’ve decided on a publishing schedule, it’s important that you stick to it, whether this is daily or weekly updates.

Make sure your visitors always have something new to engage with.

5. Poor mobile experience
According to Google, more searches now take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 Countries. Making sure that your site is fully responsive and working across all forms of tablets and mobile devices is now a must.

A recent survey found that:

  • 74% of visitors were more likely to return to mobile friendly websites
  • 61% were likely to leave if a site wasn’t mobile friendly, and
  • 67% were more likely to buy at a mobile friendly website

Since April 2015, Google now penalises websites that aren’t mobile friendly. This tends to mean that your website will rank lower in searches, which in effect means you’ll lose customers, traffic and ultimately business.

If any of the above apply to you, then chances are you’re missing out on a large chunk of your target audience. Get in touch with us below and we can talk you through the various options we have to help you increase and claim back those visitors!

The Importance of Responsive Web Design

What is Responsive Web Design?

Responsive web design is a framework and approach to web design that is aimed at giving the user the most optimum experience when they visit a site on any portable device. Having a responsive website means that the user no longer has to zoom in or out or scroll left and right to see the relevant content within the sites page.

Benefits of Responsive Website Design.

Recent research has shown that over 80% of smartphone users in the UK have used a search engine such as google to search for information whilst on the move. With 30% of all traffic now coming from a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) responsive web design is something that cannot be ignored anymore.

The Proof?

It’s easy to claim that tablets and smartphones will take over, or, be the future of the web scene, but Ofcom’s recent findings which are specific to the UK tend to back this theory up.

  • 66% of Adults own a smartphone, with 61% using a smartphone to go online
  • 39% of UK Adults access the internet through a tablet
  • During 2014, the average online spends via mobile internet increased from 20% to 24%

With statistics like these it’s clear that the future does lie increasingly with smartphone and tablet use. With the arrival of Smart Watches and Smart Tv’s, having a m. or mobile only version of your desktop site will simply not be good enough.

Search Engine Optimisation Benefits

Google announced a change to their algorithm in April 2015 which meant that responsive sites, or sites that were mobile friendly were looked upon more favourably, penalising sites that aren’t responsive.

Google favours responsive websites as it allows its agents and bots to index changes to the website much more quickly, which naturally will help your website climb when you’re constantly posting and publishing new content.

Have you seen a decline in sales or visits?
Not sure what it is you need to do to avoid been penalised by Google?

If your website isn’t mobile friendly, don’t worry. Get in touch with us below and we can talk you through the options for moving to a responsive website.

The dangers and risks of cheap Web Hosting

When it comes to choosing a web hosting service, many website owners tend to look for the lowest prices and this is where they often discover they’ve made a massive mistake!

There are some cheap hosting companies out there that do offer value for money, but they are few and far between. Getting a competitive rate is important with any service that you use but you need to take a number of other vital factors into consideration when choosing the ideal web host.

Four reasons why going with a cheap hosting company puts your website at risk:

Customer Service

Whether it’s a general question or a critical problem, you need to know someone will be on hand to help. Just like anything else in life, what you pay for is what you get. It’s possible that the company is based overseas or outsource their customer service, meaning if/when you do reach someone, they might not actually be in a position to help you.


Website downtime is arguably the most frustrating thing for anyone trying to do business online. Cheap hosting packages means there are likely to be less people to monitor the resources and this means your server and therefore website is more likely to experience downtime.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Search engines have strict guidelines and rules in place. Among those rules are: Performance (Speed), Availability (Uptime) and Security.

  • Website Speed – If the hosting provider doesn’t have good or sufficient hardware in place this can ultimately affect site loading speed.
  • Website Availability – The availability and uptime of the website is the responsibility of the hosting provider. Search engines don’t like to direct their users to websites that are frequently experiencing downtime.
  • Security – Cheap hosting companies are usually much more prone to security issues. You might have taken all the precautionary measures to protect your website, but if your hosting company hasn’t done the same, you could still be at risk.

Lack of Features

Reputable hosting companies will include a plethora of features and popular software like WordPress, Drupal, BBPress and many others. Cheap hosting providers will slack on these features and often only allow a set amount emails or databases, they may not offer one click installations and provide a marginal amount of bandwidth and storage space for each account.

Five essential Twitter tips!

Twitter is a busy place. With it currently having over 316 million monthly active users sharing over 500 million pieces of content a day, it’s safe to say it’s here to stay.

As with all Social Media platforms, Twitter is more than just a ‘build it and they shall come’ platform.

We understand that in order to get started, there’s a lot to learn, from optimising your profile to engaging with relevant users at the right time of the day.

So, with that in mind, we’ve decided to share these useful Twitter tips that you should follow when using the platform for the first time.

  1. Personalise your profile
    Your Twitter bio allows the use of 160 characters. Make sure your bio is fully optimised and includes relevant hashtags.
  2. Make your Twitter handle stand out
    Use your Twitter handle wherever you can, email signatures, on your website, blog and Facebook page.
  3. Use rich media in your tweets
    Using rich media in your tweets such as photo’s, videos or GIFs make your tweets visually appealing to your followers. Tweets from businesses that contain these types of media are more likely to get interaction than tweets that don’t.
  4. Content Scheduling
    Best practice for posting on Twitter is to post gradually and consistently on a day-to-day basis. There are free scheduling tools available, such as Buffer or Hootsuite.
  5. Shorten your links
    There are plenty of free URL shortening sites out there so take advantage of them. Using link shortening tools such as not only tidy up your URL’s but allow you to track exactly who is clicking on your content.

Got any Twitter tips of your own that you can share? Be sure to follow us and let us know. @mercurywebteam

Search Engine Optimisation – The do’s and don’ts

Search engines are nothing new, the first one was created in 1990 and called Archie, short for archive. Since then a few have come and gone whilst others have come on leaps and bounds.

Google is by far the most widely used search engine. It took the best part of 6 years for Google to overtake Yahoo! at the top of the charts and it hasn’t looked back since.

Search Engine Optimisation or (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine’s “natural” or “organic” (not paid for) search results.

Search engines base the decision of the order in which these results display (otherwise known as ‘rankings’) on a wide range of criteria, technically known as algorithms. The challenge you’ll face is that the search engines change their algorithms regularly , and this in turn affect your search engine ranking and can be the difference between being in the top 5 results, to not even being on the first 5 pages.

Top 5 SEO do’s

  1. Content
  2. Well written, quality content, makes a difference between a regular website and one that dominates the search engines.

  1. Keyword Research
  2. Every time you add a new article or a page of new content, be sure to use the Google keyword tool to determine which keywords and phrases people are using to run searches in Google.

  1. Responsiveness
  2. Make sure your website is responsive. This means it needs to work correctly on mobile and tablet devices.

  1. META Tags
  2. META Tags (Title and Description tags) are still an important factor. Every page on your website should have unique META Tags associated with them.

  1. Patience
  2. SEO takes time and isn’t something that will happen overnight. Having a strategy in place is the best way forward, making sure you set realistic goals over an achievable period.

Top 5 SEO Dont’s

  1. Keyword Stuffing
  2. This is one of the oldest spam tactics in the book. You should never use too many keywords within your content.

  1. Don’t copy content
  2. The content you write for your website needs to be unique and not just copied and pasted from another source. Duplicating content will be penalized by Google.

  1. Page Loading Times
  2. You need to make sure your website loads quickly. Sites or individual pages that tend to take a long time to load will eventually become problematic not just from a users’ point of view, but also from Google’s.

  1. Cloaking
  2. Cloaking is a technique that creates two versions of a single website, one version for the users and another for the search engines. The version seen by the users is filled with relevant user-friendly content while the site viewed by crawlers is keyword and meta tag stuffed. This technique needs to be avoided.

  1. Don’t buy links
  2. Buying links is when you pay other people to link to your website. It’s not good practice and it’s also a direct violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Is your website search engine optimised? Need help optimising your website? Get in touch today!

Do your emails and e-shot campaigns have a responsive design?

For the less technical-savvy, Responsive Email Design is an email or e-shot campaign that has been designed to view perfectly across all devices, whether you open emails on your desktop or iPhone!

More than 50% of emails are now opened on handheld devices! If your emails and e-shot campaigns aren’t responsive, then you are catering for the minority!

According to a recent survey, over 51% of email opens occur on mobile devices with people checking their phones an average of 150 times a day. The survey showed that if the email hadn’t been optimised for handheld devices and wasn’t easily viewable, over 80% of recipients hit the delete button!

3 seconds is all it takes to make a first impression, within those 3 seconds a user will decide whether to read the email or delete it without further thought. If receiving the email on a handheld device, upon seeing that the email or e-shot is responsive, 21% more people will read further down than would have done had it not been properly optimised. Around 63% of people have more confidence with the product or service on offer if they can see the email or e-shot has been professionally designed.

We live in a time-poor society, emails aren’t just read on a desktop, and people pick up emails whilst walking down the street, waiting in a queue in the supermarket or whilst sat on the tube or bus. It’s much harder these days to capture people’s attention in such a small amount of time. It’s therefore important to do everything possible to ensure you grab people’s attention with a bold statement and a cracking design within 3 seconds.

Find out more about our e-marketing services, or alternatively get in touch using the details below.

*Statistics provided by Litmus Software

Your Instagram feed is about to change!

In a blog post yesterday (Tuesday, 15th March), Instagram announced they will “soon” be dropping the reverse chronological order currently used in your feed and will instead display the photos in an order decided on by an algorithm.

“The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post,” writes Instagram. “As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.”

According to Instagram, they are doing this because they estimate that their users miss an average of 70% of their feeds, which is a lot especially if you’re following hundreds or thousands of Instagram users.

Such a strategy has been adopted by Facebook for years, and recently, Twitter adopted a similar approach, with an algorithm that allows important, missed tweets to be seen by users when they log in to their accounts.

Instagram has announced that it will roll out the new algorithm for its news feed with a small sample of real-world users. Eventually, the updated news feed will be set for a widespread roll-out within the next few months.

Are you a fan or the proposed new feed?

Let us know on Twitter!

Facebook ‘Reactions’ to launch in a few weeks

Facebook will finally address the demand for a ‘Dislike’ button by providing five more ‘Reactions’ for users to choose from.

This new option is the company’s response to the demand for a ‘Dislike’ button, something that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he found too negative to even consider.

The program has been in testing since October of last year and Facebook has been letting users do more than just like; they can now add a range of reactions: Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry. Yay was also tested, but won’t make the final release.

The new ‘Reactions’ are set to come soon globally but won’t replace the like button! Users will be able to press and hold the like button for the other options to appear.

Here’s a video of how it will work, made before the decision to get rid of “yay”:

Are you looking forward to the release? Let us know on Twitter!

Goodbye Internet Explorer 8, 9, and 10!

As of yesterday (January 12th, 2016), Microsoft will no longer offer support and security updates for several versions of Internet Explorer running on various versions of Windows.

Internet Explorer versions 8, 9, and 10 will no longer be supported on Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 desktop operating systems. This is less of an issue for the latter two, as these operating systems shipped with Internet Explorer 11.

Statistics shown by Netmarketshare claim that, 4.18% of users are still using IE 10, 6.67% are using IE 9, and 8.95% are using IE 8. This means that roughly 20% of all desktop users will become susceptible to spyware, viruses and hacks if they don’t upgrade. Microsoft has stated it will alert users of old IE versions with a nagging notice, prompting them to upgrade their browser.

The Downfall

When Internet Explorer versions 9 and 10 were released, IE was no longer the dominant browser. The combined market share of Firefox and Chrome, as well as other browsers like Safari and Opera, had finally overtaken. Newer versions of IE (9,10), while performing better than previous ones, still often displayed websites incorrectly, and continued to take up extra development time.

The latest offerings from Microsoft, IE11 and Edge, gave them a boost and brought them back in line with browsers like Chrome and Firefox. But the damage was already done, and consumers had learned and realised to avoid the IE brand.

IE versions 8, 9, and 10 mark the end of an era. While consumers may shrug and web developers may cheer at its demise, IE and its little blue ‘e’ will be a brand that wont be forgotton.

What’s your preferred browser? Let us know on Twitter!

Seven Web Design trends for 2016

Have you started to consider what your web presence should look like in 2016? If you haven’t updated the design of your website over the last few years then now is a good time to do it.

While most of these trends are based on what we’ve been seeing in the latter stages of 2015, we can see these carrying on into 2016.

Mobile Friendly Web Design
Mobile friendly websites are now becoming more of a must rather than a trend. The concept is simple and easy, not only does it make your site viewable across a range of different devices, but search engines now tend to rank mobile-friendly websites higher.

Flat Design
Flat designs continue to be one of the most effective web design methods and looks like it is in no danger of being replaced anytime soon. The idea is to simply remove all characteristics of realism such as drop shadows or gradients.

Hero Images (Full screen images)
Full screen images are one of the easiest and fastest ways to grab a user’s attention. Slow load times shouldn’t be an issue thanks to the advances of bandwidth and data compression.

With the increased use of Retina and HD screens, it’s vital that not only the correct typography is used but its served at a size that is big enough for a user to read. Large-scale typography tends to be something that’s closely related to flat designs too.

The typography market is rich and varied and you can easily purchase great fonts at reasonable prices. Google fonts offer developers and designers a wide range off fonts, all of which can be used for free.

Long Scrolling Pages
Scrolling is becoming the predominant method of interaction. Mobile web has changed the way we think and interact with websites. Scrolling is simply easier to do, faster and gives you more control. Scrolling is just more natural.

Sticky Navigation
Sticky navgation perfectly suits websites that decide to go with the long scrolling pages. The sticky bar is a good opportunity for a user to have access to the site navigation without the need to scroll back to the top of a page.

Minimalism is key to any website. The key to minimalism is to remove any non-essential design elements or distractions. Websites are more engaging when you’re not required to read through endless chunks of text or adverts to find the content you were looking for in the first place.

Periscope, Twitter’s live streaming app

Periscope put simply is a live streaming video platform that allows you transmit a live recording to your Periscope and Twitter followers.

Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein came up with the idea for Periscope while travelling abroad in 2013. Beykpour wanted to see what was happening in Istanbul when protests broke out in Taksim Square, he turned to Twitter. While he could read about the protests in Taksim Square he couldn’t see them.

In 2014 the pair launched Persicope.

With the app gaining popularity, in March 2015 it was announced that Twitter had acquired the app and reportedly paid $100 million in cash plus an additional stock compensation package.

In August 2015 it was announced that Periscope had 10 million active accounts with users watching 40 years’ worth of content daily and that’s just from app streams!

So who’s been using Periscope?

The app has become the talk of the technology world, with it been a popular hit with broadcasters and media companies who have realised they can reach new audiences easily and cheaply.

Sky News presenters have used the app to show viewers behind the scenes footage, David Cameron also used the app to broadcast his first post-election address.

Celebrities are also starting to follow trend and sign up too, with the likes of David Blaine, Ringo Starr and Arnold Schwarzengger, just a few of the early adopters.

The future of Periscope?

The service itself is still relatively new and upcoming, and many apps come and go.

Periscope’s main rival ‘Meerkat’ rebranded and launched within a few days of Periscope hitting the app store, however Periscope still seems to the most popular of the two with it having close connections to the Twitter Brand.

The introduction of Periscope and similar applications confirms that live-streaming is here to stay and will continue to rise.

Instagram hits 400M monthly active users

Instagram, the photo-sharing network announced on Tuesday (22nd September) that its reached the 400 million monthly active user mark, up from 300 million just nine months ago.

The Facebook-owned company said more than 75 percent of those active users currently live outside the US. The company also reported more than 40 Billion filtered photographs have been shared on its site since it launched back in October 2010.

Recent changes by Instagram have also made the platform much more appealing to users and advertisers, with the introduction of adverts in timelines and a move away from the enforced square crop by allowing landscape and portrait content to be shared.

The battle of mobile payment platforms!

The growth of mobile use and the ever decreasing price of handsets means that there are now record numbers of people using smartphones for every day tasks.

In recent years, consumers would tend to browse stores online, see something they’d like to purchase and then head to their nearest PC or laptop to then purchase the item. Experts estimate that Brits are set to spend £14.95bn via mobile devices in 2015, driving a huge 78 per cent increase on 2014. Broken down, this figure works out to be £474 a second!

Apple Pay was announced back in September 2014, and has only just recently launched in the UK (July 2015). On the back of this we’ve seen Android Pay, which is set to launch ‘soon’ and Samsung Pay with a release date that is yet to be confirmed in the UK.

Apple Pay

With Apple Pay it’s possible to pay for goods and services of up to £30 in the UK by tapping either your iPhone or Apple Watch to a card reader – as long as your bank supports Apple Pay.

You may be limited as to what shops do accept these kind of payments, some shops may not choose to accept it despite having the technology to do so.

Contactless terminals in the UK were limited to £20 transactions up until recently when the limit was raised to £30. However, these terminals will need a software update before they can accept larger amounts, so it could be a while before your favourite store accepts that £30 limit.

Apple Pay only works with the latest generation of iPhones, the iPhone 6, or an Apple Watch. This is due to the fact that previous generation of iPhones lack that vital NFC chip.

Android Pay

Android pay is currently only available in the US. It’s believed that Android Pay will gradually roll out once Google have released their latest Android offering, Android M 6.0 (Marshmallow).

Unlike Apple Pay, Android Pay allows the ability to rack up loyalty points and use them to make free purchases, Coca-Cola currently let fans in North America store up points and then claim a free can from a vending machine simply by tapping their phone against it.

Android Pay is secured in the same way you lock your phone, this can be a PIN, password, facial scan or fingerprint.

Android Pay will work on a wider range handsets as long as they meet the requirements;

  • The phone runs Android 4.4 KitKat or newer, and
  • The phone has a NFC chip.

As well as being used for payments in store, Android Pay allows the user to pay for purchases they’ve made in other Android apps, which means entering card details and billing addresses for every payment will be a thing of the past. With over 1,000 apps already planning to integrate Android Pay into their App Platforms, Android Pay looks like it will be a massive success.

Samsung Pay

Samsung launched Samsung Pay with their latest flagship offerings the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge at the beginning of 2015.

Samsung Pay works differently, rather than limiting transaction to NFC payments only, it will also work with magnetic strip readers (Old technology that is available in nearly every shop that accepts card payments)

Samsung has primarily partnered with MasterCard and Visa for the launch of Samsung Pay, which has now already launched in the US and Korea and is set to launch ‘soon’ in Europe.

Samsung Pay works in a similar way to Android Pay and Apple Pay, by allowing the user to add cards and then tapping the phone to the card reader to make the payment.

As it stands at the moment, only Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and Note 5 users will be able to use Samsung Pay, it may be that Samsung allow other NFC and fingerprint reader Android phones to use Samsung Pay, but, Samsung have yet to comment.

Whilst each of the three are very much similar, most people are unlikely to choose an Android, Apple or Samsung device based solely on its payment app.

Mobile payments are here to stay and now that Apple, Google and Samsung all have their own options for users, nearly everyone will have the ability to make purchases safely and securely with their chosen device.

Google releases ‘Brotli’ algorithm

Google has recently released a new open source compression algorithm that is far superior to the current compression methods that currently exist.

Compression algorithms help shrink and compress items such as images, fonts and other website content in a hope that smaller file sizes will result in speedier loading times.

Brotli, the compression algorithm is now available for developers to download and use. Benchmarks have found that the new format offers 20-26% higher compression ratios when compared to other current algorithms.

In order to use Brotli during a connection to a website, you need to make sure that the browser you are using supports that algorithm. At the moment it’s impossible to say whether this will become a new web standard or if it will remain confined to a few niche users.

We’re keeping a close eye on this one.

Is your website optimised for Windows new browser, Edge?

This week Microsoft officially launches Windows 10, the brand’s newest operating platform which proceeds Windows 8. One of the most significant changes with this version of the OS is a new browser which replaces ‘Internet Explorer’ as over the years the browser has gained a bad reputation.

The new browser, which will be known as ‘Microsoft Edge’ come’s with a completely new look and packed with new features.

Amongst a new in-built reader which allows the user to enjoy articles in a distraction-free layout and the ability to easily mark-up and share web pages with your own comments and doodles, we are also promised a much faster browsing experience.

However for those with existing websites, you’ll know that historically with each new version of Internet Explorer that’s been released, some of the functionality would stop working or some of the design elements would stop rendering properly.

Websites that are compatible with the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE11) will still be viewable in ‘Edge’, however, you’d be advised to have your website checked out with the latest browser.

If you’d like us to review your website with ‘Edge’ send us a link to your website to and we’ll happily review it free of charge.

Mercury Web Design Limited launches to offer new answers to digital industry

blog-launch-imgMercury Web Design Limited is breathing fresh life into the digital industry as more businesses look to stand out from the crowd.

Boasting a six-strong team of web and digital experts, including two web developers, an SEO specialist and two sales personnel as well as being supported by the wider marketing team of our parent company Mercury Group, we are able to provide a unique service offering to the industry.

Our core services include web design and development, SEO, ecommerce solutions, e-marketing, pay-per-click and social media, and we are already delivering industry leading projects on behalf of Mercury Group’s clients which range from small start-up businesses to global PLCs.

Gareth Moore, managing director at Mercury Web Design, said: “Mercury Web Design has been set up to offer industry leading services to all sizes of businesses across all industries.

“We are able to offer dedicated web and digital services, supported by an award-winning marketing and communications team. Traditionally, web design and development has been a secondary service offered by most agencies to their existing clients. We are different.

“Our expert team understands the importance of ensuring any business has fit-for-purpose digital and web platforms and, with combined industry experience of more than 20 years, we are well positioned to deliver the most state-of-the-art, innovative solutions that will make a positive difference.

“There has been a gap in the market for some time now for a dedicated web and digital agency of our size and expertise and I am delighted we have been able to launch in Hull, a city in which its digital scene is really taking off.”

Gareth has worked within the industry for more than 10 years having completed a media degree at Warrington University before joining Mercury Group, formerly known as Mercury Design & Marketing, as a web developer and then going on to become head of digital media at Hull-based digital marketing agency Bluestorm. He returned to Mercury in 2015 to launch Mercury Web Design.

While the business is in its infancy, Gareth is confident its order book will grow rapidly over the coming months and is already actively looking to recruit the very best web and digital talent.

“Having studied and worked in the industry for more than decade, I realise the importance of having the right team with the right expertise and, as more and more businesses turn to web and digital solutions to grow their profile, it is all the more importance to ensure that is in place as quickly as possible,” he said.

“With that in mind and following our business plan, we are hoping to recruit two or three more people by the end of the year. I truly believe Mercury Web Design is in the perfect position to offer something new to the industry and I am looking forward to leading the team and watching the business go from strength to strength.”