Web development in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates has undergone a profound transformation since 1973, seeing tremendous growth and achieving an incredibly high income per capita.  It is widely recognised as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with industries such as tourism, manufacturing, real estate, financial services and trade playing a major role alongside oil.

With such opportunity and competition it is extremely important for new and existing companies to make effective use of modern marketing strategies.  Internet marketing is now a major multi-billion pound industry and a method suitable for the progressive nature of the UAE business community, particularly for the two major Emirates; Dubai and the capital Abu Dhabi.

Web development UAEInternet penetration in the UAE is on the rise as regular web usage has reached 67% of the population, with 55% of the population using it on a daily basis.  Currently, the web is used primarily for emails and searching for information, with a smaller percentage accessing the internet for business or for making online purchases.  The internet is inevitably changing the dynamics of how we structure our business, culture and society, with the UAE being no exception.  As internet penetration in the UAE grows, businesses must respond by developing high quality Arabic web design.

A modern well-presented website is now expected for most businesses and organisations.  With good quality website design, Dubai and Abu-Dhabi based companies can benefit from improved information distribution and an expansion of reachable markets.  It is an effective way of winning new business and retaining existing customers, while responding quickly to new competitors.

With competition becoming more demanding and search engines more concerned with the user experience, the web business owner should consider the importance of web development.  A UAE company immediately commands respect from web visitors with a professional Arabic web design.  In order to compete amongst the ever-increasing market in the UAE, it is wise to invest in a well-constructed website with a strong logo, a harmonious colour scheme, simple and professional looking graphics, and effective navigation options.  UAE consumers have high expectations from companies, expecting high levels of service from them.

As internet use in the Arabic world has grown faster than anywhere else since 2000 and access costs have shrunk, businesses should now increase investment in web content in order to gain a place in the highly competitive world market.

Youth of UAE embraces the world of social media

Facebook recently reached the momentous landmark of having 500 million users. When you consider there are close to 7 billion on planet earth this means that 7% of the world’s population is on Facebook.

In certain countries such as the United States, the UK much of Europe and Japan almost everyone between the age of 15 and 29 has a Facebook account. However in these countries the internet has existed for a several years and young people are now growing up with the technology.

But this does not show the full Facebook picture. There are lots of countries where the internet is a much more recent phenomenon and it is changing the way young people in particular interact and share information.

For example the UAE perhaps does not have the world’s fastest most reliable internet service but the Facebook penetration is very high. It could be argued that because the population is much smaller in comparison to the US and the UK it is not a fair statistic.

On the other hand, it could be argued that the high Facebook penetration shows just how much of an influence the social networking site has. If people have access to the internet, depending on their age and other demographics, they will almost certainly have a Facebook account.

The UAE has become an important region of financial investment and infrastructure growth. It is now home to the world’s tallest building the Burj Khalifa. Dubai is a city which has emerged from the desert as a leading centre for a wide variety of businesses and industries.

facebook marketingIn Europe and America nearly all businesses now have websites and the standard is always climbing. Businesses are now putting a lot of effort and money into web marketing and SEO because they understand that in such competitive markets and advantage or opportunities must be exploited to the fullest.

The car manufacturing giant, Ford revolutionised personal travel by implementing mass manufacturing to produce the Model T which really opened up the car market to a much wider group of people.

In 2010 Ford again revolutionised the industry by launching its new Explorer model only on Facebook. More and more businesses are looking to social media for marketing opportunities as it offers businesses the chance to interact with customers and to gain valuable insight into products and services.

Middle East Netizens are on the Rise

Web design UAEOver the last couple of decades the Internet has become a huge worldwide phenomenon.  Latest global figures show that the number of internet users (also known as ‘Netizens’) now stands on the verge of exceeding 2 billion!

Of that total a whopping 64 million of them are in the Middle East, accounting for a staggering growth rate of 1825% over the past decade.  Amazingly this growth rate is 15x that of what was seen in North America over the same period.

As more and more people are gaining access to the Internet, it is the perfect opportunity for companies to move their business to the Web.

At the start of the Internet age Europeans and North Americans were by far the largest users. However, this is gradually changing as other continents embrace the World Wide Web. In recent years there has been a big increase in Internet users in regions such as Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Since 2000, the number of users in Africa and the Middle East has increased by around 1,800%. Meanwhile, Asia has gathered 704 million users – over 300 million more than any other region, encompassing about 42% of worldwide users. This can be attributed to large population in Asia; a staggering 3.8 billion of the 6.7 billion people on earth (that is 56%) live in Asia.

Another change is that Europe has overtaken North America as the second biggest user of the Internet. In terms of percentage of their population Asia is still quite far behind, with North America having the highest figure. Only 18.5% of Asians use the Internet, while half of Europeans do and three quarters of North Americans do. In the Middle East, 30% of people use the Internet today, however, this reach is rapidly increasing and as it does the importance of businesses being well presented online becomes ever more apparent.

Computers and the Internet are modern inventions which therefore effortlessly fit into modern life of Europeans and North Americans. Many Africans and Middle Easterners have very different lifestyles and this is reflected in the figures. Asia is a mixture of old and new, but modernising all the time, thus the increase in Internet users. As developing nations like Asia, Africa, and the Middle become more technologically advanced this trend is likely to continue.

Businesses and organizations in the Middle East that want to capitalize on everything the Internet has to offer should look no further than the web design and development firm, MintTwist. Originally based out of London, MintTwist has successfully created websites and marketing strategies for a wide variety of companies over the past eleven years. They are now entering into the foreign marketplace with the opening of Mint Twist Dubai. The growth of business and Internet seen within Dubai and the Middle East could not be better supported and facilitated than by the experts at Mint Twist.

Petrol Heads and Pampering!

Support the Herts Air Ambulance and enjoy an evening out that you won’t have to persuade the other half to attend!

MintTwist is keen to lend our support to this worthy cause. Air amblances really can make the differrence between life and death. There is no doubt that countless lives have been saved by their incredible skill and dedication.

In aid of the Herts Air Ambulance – ‘Petrol Heads and Pampering’ will be held at Porsche Centre Hatfield on Thursday 14th April between 7pm and 10pm. Ex-Top Gear Presenter and Sunday Times Columnist, Jason Dawe, will host the evening; with new and classic Porsches to admire and a rare opportunity to have a guided tour of the Porsche Workshop by highly trained technicians.

Michelle de la Bertauche, Fundraising Manager for the Herts Air Ambulance, said: “This will be a fantastic event with so much going on – we’ve already had lots of interest. We will be raising vital funding for the Herts Air Ambulance, which costs £130,000 every month to enable it to continue to fly its life-saving missions. We can’t thank The Porsche Centre enough for giving us the exclusive use of their showroom for this event, it is such an exciting opportunity.  We’ve also had huge support from other local businesses, it looks set to be a great evening we are all really looking forward to it.”

Date: Thursday 14th April 2011

Time: 19:00 – 22:00

Location: The Porsche Centre, Hatfield Business Park, Hatfield AL10 9UA

For more information please contact Hannah Ashby, PR & Marketing Coordinator on:-

01787 226118

Click on the image above to expand

The browser war continues

For those working in the web design industry, browser choice is often a topic filled with debate. For anyone who surfs the net browser choicer can also be a very personal matter and recent data suggests that browser choice is increasingly diversified.

In the beginning there was Netscape Navigator. However by 2002 the browser had all but disappeared. This was primarily down to the growth in Internet Explorer, and the dwindling development efforts by the Netscape Corporation.

Internet explorer is a bit like Ghenkis Khan and the Mongol Empire. Perhaps not the most obvious comparison, but give me a chance. So, Internet Explorer was launched in 1995 and by 2003 had a market share of close to 95%. Between the year 1206 and 1280 the Mongol Empire grew to stretch from Korea to Moscow.

The rapid expansion of the Mongol Empire is much like Internet Explorers rapid growth in popularity. The development of Internet Explorer was also fairly rapid and progressive. The Mongols were also progressive and introduced new technology and new thinking into a medieval Eurasia.

However like all Empires, over time cracks begin to appear. For the Mongols, their days of power were numbered and to make matters worse the epic trade routes that were built up now helped spread the Black Death which decimated both Mongol and other populations.

browser warsIn 2010 Internet Explorer had a market share of 60% which is a long way of its 2003 peak of 95%. This begs the question, what happened? The answer is quite straightforward. Mozilla happened.

Mozilla created the web browser Firefox and it really came into its own with its 3.5 and 3.6 versions and now their latest version, Firefox 4 is available to download. The browser is currently competing with Internet Explorer for top spot, but right now it has a market share of about 30%.

Internet explorer was never going to maintain a market share of 95%. Competition from Mozilla, Google’s Chrome and Safari ensured this. In my own experience having started with Internet Explorer, then on to Google Chrome, I am now using Firefox 4 and have found it to be an excellent web browser.

In my field of SEO and web marketing I believe Firefox offers me the best web browsing experience. It is well designed, easy to use and highly customable. The amount and variety Firefox Add-ons available is exceptional and definitely provides me with very important data and information.

Greg Jacobs

Content Manager
MintTwist

Online shopping continues to flourish in the UAE

Web marketing DubaiIt was recently announced by MasterCard that online shopping is a growing trend in Dubai. According to the company, the percentage of people who use the internet to carry out their shopping grew from 29 per cent in 2009 to 42 per cent in 2010.

The MasterCard study showed that the most influential group are those between the age of 25 and 44 and within that group, those between 35 and 44 will use online shopping more frequently. There are a number of explanations for this but perhaps the most obvious and logical is that those aged 35 and above will have more disposable income.

Furthermore, the study also showed that online shopping is becoming increasingly popular for women in Dubai and the wider UAE. The data suggests that 7 per cent more women are using the internet for shopping compared to last year.

The market research carried out by MasterCard involved 8,500 consumers in the region. This has provided rich data which has generated some useful information. For example it showed that the leading categories in the UAE in 2010 included airline tickets, hotel bookings, home appliances and electronic products, clothing, restaurants and home food delivery.

As the online market continues to flourish in the UAE, the key to maximising its effectiveness is to ensure that there is strong internet penetration. After a slightly slow start the UAE now has approximately 75% of its population online which is a very healthy figure.

So what does this mean for web design in Dubai and other parts of the UAE? It suggests that as the internet becomes even more popular in the region the more demand there will be for web design, web marketing and SEO from business community.

As a relatively young online market, the UAE provides excellent opportunities for businesses as the level of competition is still quite young and relatively small. If for example you want to dominate a keyword in Google.ae it is important to invest in SEO and web marketing now rather than wait a couple of years only to find that a competitor has pulled out a massive lead.

Dubai economy grows by 2.2%

The UAE has become an important financial location in recent years having attracted billions in investment from businesses around the world. Dubai is a key location within the UAE and projects such as the Burj Al Arab and the Burj Khalifa along with a host of other modern architecture projects are synonymous of the city and its ambition.

Sadly though this does not mean that Dubai is free from global economic forces and so in 2009 the GDP contracted by 2.4 per cent. This was due to a plunge in the property and construction market which was, and still is, crucial to this Arab emirate.

However property and construction is not all that Dubai has to offer. International trade and tourism play a big part in Dubai’s economy. It is thanks to this that the Dubai Statistics Centre can state that they expect GDP for the whole year to increase by about 2.2 per cent, having increased by 2.4 per cent so far.

Dubai metro

The other key economic sector for Dubai is tourism. In fact with limited oil reserves it could be argued that tourism is the future for the country and therefore the priority. Judging by some of the construction projects you would assume that Dubai’s leadership is acutely aware of this.

What does this mean for web design in Dubai? Well, web design Dubai is in fact a young part of the economy but as the number of businesses and organisations increase so will the demand for top quality and professional web design. Be it internet projects or intranet projects, big business or small business, all will require web solutions.

The infrastructure in the UAE region has improved significantly and will continue to improve. Projects such as the Dubai Metro have had an excellent response from commuters. Other digital projects such as Dubai’s e-government site are an example of the kind of integration between government, businesses, public services and people which will all contribute to the continued success of Dubai.

UAE competes in the World Summit Award

World Summit AwardSince the internet was developed digital content has come a long way. If you look at web pages of the mid to late 1990’s you will find that they are much more simplistic, both in terms of appearance and functionality.

Fast forward to 2011 and the internet, some might argue, has become the eighth wonder of the world. The difference between the internet in 1996 and 2011 is integration. Today the internet forms an integral part of our lives and even forms part of our identity.

For half a billion people at least, there is a site which allows you to share with the world your life and everything about it. Yes the Facebook generation is here, they are here to stay and content is king. The Facebook generation has grown up with the modern glossy internet which has evolved to become incredibly technical and capable with lots of potential.

However, content is not universal. Different people in different countries will interpret content differently. Different languages are spoken in different countries and the way people will read will be vary across regions and countries. Therefore the design of a website and the content within are the two most important factors for success.

Showcasing digital content gives web designers and developers from around the world the opportunity to raise their profile. Events such as the World Summit Awards allow web design Dubai to compete and showcase its work amongst the best.

The WSA competition sets out to determine the world’s best and most innovative e-content and ICT technology. Winning this competition gives tremendous international recognition which is why web designers and developers from around the world are so keen to win this prestigious prize.

Web design UAE is pushing hard to meet the deadline of March 17th.After last year’s competition there was a lot of interest following the success of the ‘Hesabi –My Math’ project. It was judged to be a great product for children because it makes learning more enjoyable and more like a game which maintains children’s attention levels.

Innovations and success such as this has paved the way for technology in the region. The web design and development market along with web marketing and SEO is progressing at a rapid pace in the UAE as is the demand for such services.

My Technology hero – Tommy Flowers – The father of the digital age

Tommy FlowersThe name Tommy Flowers probably means very little to just about everyone which is a shame because without Tommy Flowers it is more than likely I would not be here writing this blog.

The genius of Tommy Flowers was obvious from a young age and he eventually earned a degree in electrical engineering from the University of London. The very concept of electrical engineering was relatively novel in the 1920’s but Tommy Flowers knew it was the future.

Tommy later gained experience working on telephone exchanges and by 1939 became convinced that a completely electronic system was possible. At the very same time, Europe was descending into the chaos of war which would soon drag the rest of the world and Tommy Flowers into it.

Alan Turing, another technological hero, was working for the British government breaking German codes. He developed the world’s first algorithms and was literally years ahead of the competition. Eventually Turing heard about Tommy Flowers and asked him for help.

The reason he asked him for help was because the latest code breaking methods being used at the time required large amounts of data input which by hand would be completely impractical. However if an electronic machine could be made which could break codes by inputting large quantities of data then any German code could be broken.

The key for Flowers was valves, lots of them. To put things into context, at the time the most complicated electronic device used about 150 valves. Flowers proposed that his machine which he names ‘Colossus’ would use 1800 valves. Sadly the British government and the Ministry of Defence were yet to be convinced and rather than offering their help told him to make do on his own.

Colossus

Undeterred Tommy poured every ounce of energy, every second of concentration and every penny he had into his ‘Colossus’.  After eleven months, Flowers and his devoted team built ‘Colossus’. The world’s first computer was born and immediately set about breaking German codes. Later the ‘Colossus Mark 2’ was built which used 2400 valves.

German intelligence became British intelligence immediately. The Allies now had a massive advantage over the Germans and with their new intelligence were able to dominate the war at sea, the war at air and the war on ground. The D-day landings, which marked the beginning of the end for Hitler, used vital information gathered by ‘Colossus’.

The Supreme Commander of the Allied forces, Dwight D Eisenhower went for a meeting at Bletchley Park, the home of ‘Colossus’ and the code breakers, on the 1st of June 1944. There he was handed a decryption made by ‘Colossus’ which showed that Hitler did not want additional troops to be sent to Normandy. Eisenhower turned to his staff and said “We go tomorrow.”

Without the work carried out by Tommy Smith and the code breakers at Bletchley Park it is quite possible that the outcome of World War 2 would have been different. Tommy Flowers is my technological hero because he built the first computer which broke the German codes which won us the war and brought freedom to Europe and the world.

The social media revolution at the centre of revolution

The start of 2011 has been an eventful to say the least. At the centre of this activity has been the Middle East, in particular Tunisia and Egypt. The highly respected BBC correspondent John Simpson compared the events in Egypt to the fall of the Berlin wall.

Watching a revolution unfold on television is a fascinating experience. What’s even more fascinating is that the internet and social media in particular were key components of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. An army of bloggers and tweeters in Egypt and Egyptians around the world were at the heart of the uprisings.

social media egyptTahrir Square was the epicentre of the revolution and once the protesters took control of the square and organised it, at the very centre were the bloggers. The job of blogging was made much harder as Egypt’s internet service providers were forced to shut down in an attempt to make it harder for demonstrators to get organised and limit the flow of information to the international community.

By the time Egypt’s internet was largely shut down the news of the demonstrations had already gone around the world and back again. The speed of information thanks to the internet and social media is what ensured the news of the protests went global in minutes.

Sadly, as is the case with most revolutions, it cost lives. It is estimated that at least 300 people died and hundreds more were badly injured in the Egyptian revolution. If free and fair elections can be held in Egypt within six months, as the military which now controls the country has promised, those who died will not have done so in vain.

One individual really caught my attention during the Egyptian revolution. Wael Ghonim is Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and Africa. Such is his influence that he was arrested on 25th of January and not released for twelve days.  Upon his release and following an emotional interview on television thousands of supporters joined a Facebook page in his honour which states “We authorise Wael Ghonim to speak on behalf of the Egyptian revolution.”

Wael Ghonim is not a politician. He is not a man who seeks power or accepts that he at all special. However, because of his position in Google he was seen as a major threat to the ousted president Mubarak which resulted in his arrest and it could be argued this made him a political prisoner.

For the revolutionist, the demonstrator and the protestor, Facebook, Twitter and blogs are their voice to the outside world. To a dictatorial regime Facebook, Twitter and blogs are powerful weapons that must be contained. The only problem is that the internet and social media has taken root and digging it up is impossible.

 

Why your website content shouldn’t be an elephant

You’ve spent months planning and talking about your new website.   Agencies have been interviewed and briefed, you’ve looked at designs and waited patiently for the build to finish…but one thing is missing.   Content.

Content is often the last thought but it should be one of your first. Writing what goes into your website at the beginning:

  • Helps you focus on the structure and aims of the site.   By thinking through what will go on the site, you are more likely to drop redundant sections and develop better ones.
  • Assists web designers in producing better more accurate designs.   What you have written informs and inspires them about your company.
  • Minimises development time – you will receive a test site that is 95% complete, leaving you free to concentrate on fixing bugs and making final tweaks, rather than feeling the pressure to produce hundreds of words.
  • Gives you a head start with SEO.   With your content written, you can start planning your SEO strategy and give your site the best possible launch.

Creating content can quickly become an elephant – weeks away from launch it is a small speck in the distance. Suddenly it’s large and looming. One of the biggest reasons people put it off is that they are unsure how to write engaging copy, and copy that will work for SEO. Good copy can reap big returns so it is worth taking the time to research how to do it properly. Check out our Top Ten Tips for Web Copy and the Short Guide to SEO from MintTwist and kick start your content today.

What to expect from web design in 2011

2010 was a difficult year for many people in many different industries. After the difficulties of 2008 and 2009, 2010 was never going to be a boom year. Many economic analysts had forecast 2011 as a year of recovery and maybe a bit of growth in the economy. However, with widespread government spending cuts due, 2011 might be slightly premature.

Web design is quite a fast moving industry. Web design companies are constantly striving to improve their abilities and their knowledge in an effort to get ahead of the competition. This requires a web design company to pay close attention to what the likes of Google are doing.

Search engine optimisationThe pace of life today is incredible. Google has obviously picked up on this because loading speed is now part of the Google algorithm. Some websites contain huge amounts of data and others not very much, and both present challenges. For new websites your web design company should be aware of the latest Google algorithm and ensure the site is developed with it in mind.

Images are everywhere on websites and they are prime example of loading items which could hamper your site. It is imperative that the image file size is kept to a minimum and that they are ideally formatted in JPEG and GIF.

Another challenge for web designers and developers is to make sure the site being built is suitable for the various screen resolutions available today. The can range from 640 x 480 to 1024 x 768 and as technology improves resolutions are only going to get bigger and better.

There is also growing demand for websites to work with mobile devices such as the Apple iPad or Samsung’s Galaxy Tablet. Web designers are quite used to having to perform cross browser testing. Cross platform testing is certainly a growing aspect of web design and represents significant opportunities for various businesses.

The style of websites has changed so much in recent years. At first the web was all about bright flashy bold colours and fonts to grab the eye. Now, the best sites are those which use neutral colours and fonts which are easy on the eye and easy to use. Take Google, the world’s most successful site, notice anything?

Top five tips for choosing the right web design company in the UAE

Web design UAEIf your business is located in the UAE finding the right web design company is not a straight forward exercise as there is a big choice of web design agencies in the UAE. It is important to take certain precautions before selecting an Abu-Dhabi or Dubai web design company to design, build and test your website.

The first thing you can do is cut down the number of firms to choose from. If you were to include every single web design company it would take a very long time. Companies with experience, a solid track record and a good portfolio should be top of the list. It is also good to try and work with a web design company that has done work for other businesses in your business sector because the designers and developers will have an even better understanding.

The portfolio of a web design company is their signature. It is a demonstration of what the company is capable of and also gives you the opportunity to contact them and find out what their opinion of the web design company is. Ideally a web design company will have page for testimonials with glowing references, but this is not always the case.

It is also important to have an understanding of the technology. Building websites is a technical operation which requires the work of highly skilled individuals. The portfolio of the web design company will give an indication of how advanced they are. If the web designer’s website looks like it was built in 1995 it is probably best to avoid them.

Budget is always a concern for businesses. Keeping within budget is absolutely critical to businesses, particularly new ones. If you feel you are being well and truly overcharged, meet with a competitor and see if they prices changes. Don’t be afraid to negotiate because often web design companies will be somewhat flexible.

Finally, if you want to have a website which continues to exist and function for several years, it is important to stick with the same web design firm as the company who builds your site will have the best knowledge of your business and over time their knowledge of your business and how you work will improve allowing them to provide a better service into the future.

Choosing the right UAE web design company

The market for web design in the UAE has grown at an astonishing pace. 2010 has been a big year for the region, most notably the completion of the worlds’ tallest building, the Burj Khalifa Skyscraper and in Abu Dhabi the world’s largest indoor and first Ferrari theme park was opened.

The region has seen huge investment over the last two decades and created an oasis in the desert. Cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi have emerged and are now key drivers for the region. The region is home to the offices of numerous multinational companies and corporations. In addition to this there is very healthy growth of small to medium sized business.

In today’s business world there is no doubting the importance of a web presence and the UAE is no exception. The problem is that the vast majority of web development firms in the UAE do not have the same level of knowledge or experience as professionals in the West.

Internet usage is growing at a rapid rate in the UAE amongst the 4 million or so people that live there. Companies are investing millions of dollars in the region and the internet is a vital communications tool which is only growing in use and importance. Choosing the right web design company to work with can be difficult but below are some useful hints to help with that difficult decision.

Check the Portfolio – For web design companies having a portfolio is a simple must have. It gives a web design company the chance to show off their work and you can quickly gauge what kinds of styles are possible. However, be warned because seeing them in a gallery is not enough. It is vital that the functionality of these is thoroughly checked.

Talk to the owner of the business – Before any deal is made it is essential that you meet with the director of the web design company. This gives you an opportunity to test their knowledge and gives you an opportunity to talk about their previous and future projects and get contact details for referrals.

The kitchen sink – The very best web design companies will do more than just develop a website. The best firms will begin with a free consultation which will be based on a very high level view of your business and who it is targeting or which markets are most relevant. It is also common to discuss the design and development process used by the web design company because this will help in organising time scales.

Following on from this the Dubai web design company should be able to demonstrate their skill in keyword research, content management, digital graphic design, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and web marketing. If your web design company can fulfil all of this then you are speaking to the right people.

The people – Knowing that there is a team of dedicated professionals with specialist skills, working on your behalf is hugely important and can give you a lot of confidence in the web design company you are working with.

The vibe – Finally, the design company you choose to work with has to feel right. The communication needs to be friendly but professional and constructive. In other words you must be able to question the design company and you should expect good answers in return. Companies who don’t listen to their clients inevitably let them down so if you are ignored head somewhere else.

To outsource or not to outsource?

Both private and public sector organisations are faced with the ongoing challenge of deciding whether functions or individual projects should be carried out internally or externally. Within the broad context of the annual review cycle, MintTwist re-evaspxaluates the merits of outsourcing project work just as one would with every other business decision.  It is important to recognise outsourcing as a strategic business tool, but to also determine the specific benefits that externally sourced work brings to the company.

It is wise for all companies to recognise the benefits of outsourcing for the continued progress of their business.  For the web development company, self-contained projects are easy to outsource and reap numerous benefits.  This type of organisation can help managers to set priorities more clearly and focus on core projects, which thus improves productivity.

Outsourcing converts fixed costs into variable costs and therefore releases capital for investment elsewhere in the business.  In this way it is possible to avoid large expenditures.  Inevitably, labour costs are reduced.  Hiring and training staff for short-term projects can be expensive while using temporary workers is often ineffective.  Therefore, with specific projects outsourced, human resources can be focused where most needed within the business.

The use of outsourced agencies enables new projects to begin quickly, without the need to commit weeks or even months for preparation and setting up.  Companies see an increase in productivity and gain access to a broad range of services which place businesses on a level playing field with other, possibly larger, companies.

Conversely, there are costs associated with outsourcing project work that impact on more than just financial growth.  The greater number of outsourced projects, the more potential for communication difficulties between the outsource provider, the company and the client.  More specifically, the field of web site design necessitates ongoing dialogue with the client in order to meet expectations whilst achieving maximum results.  It is far easier to manage the client relationship and achieve consistent service levels without the introduction of a third party.

It is always prudent to keep in mind that, while functions can be outsourced with each project, accountability cannot.  Web design companies, such as MintTwist, deal with sensitive data for each client that must be managed carefully.  While it is possible to identify and outsource provider’s portfolio of work, it is more difficult to assess its ethical conduct and personnel practices.  Such issues can be easily managed internally within the ethos of the organisation and under direct managerial control.

With a long-term perspective it can be an excellent decision to invest in training for staff in order to achieve a consistency in output for the company.  Whether it be skills related to website design, sales, marketing or SEO, London web design companies require employees to have the current knowledge base and associated skill set to contend with the competitive market.  The ongoing use of outsourcing does not allow for the development of high level functioning internally.  With competitively high service levels and excellent client relationships, MintTwist determines that the costs of outsourcing project work outweigh the benefits for the company.  Outsourcing introduces an unknown quantity for the web design company, where projects are in fact better managed in-house.

BBC to roll out new visual language!

The BBC’s website is today well established as arguably the most cutting edge, the most current and the friendliest to users. The website is much more than just a page rank of 9 and pages of english language! It is a website which not only hold top quality content, but carries with it the impeccable reputation the BBC has built up over decades of impartiality.

The BBC is a publicly owned organisation, which means that the BBC website belongs to the people. As a result there is tremendous affinity and popularity for the site.

Although if you were to look at the site in 1997 you might be a little disappointed as you can see below.

BBC homepage 1996

BBC homepage 1997

This was a basic offering with two sections to the site. Over time it has grown to encompass a great deal more. However due to the organic way in which the website evolved and the old structure of the business, with dozens of small design teams working independently of each other, the site had a fairly schizophrenic nature once you delved into its depths.

About 2 years ago, after printing out the site onto what has now become jokingly known as the ‘Wall of Shame’ the BBC decided to embark on an ambitious project, called Global Visual Language 2.0, with the aim of unifying the visual and interaction design of bbc.co.uk and the mobile website.

The Wall of Shame

The BBC created a new wider, centred page template to take advantage of wider screen resolutions and for the first time created an underlying grid. They rationalised the hundreds of different banner styles into a new global and local branding and navigation system.

The scores of different audio and video players were discontinued and they created a universal embedded media player. They also redesigned the homepage creating a visual style that began to ripple through the site and onto the mobile platform.

BBC HomepageThe BBC showed excellent mastery of ‘web 2.0’ which is an approach that has been adopted by many other businesses and organisations. However the BBC now believes it has served its purpose and it is time to move on.

They have set out to broaden their ambitions to create a design philosophy and world-class design standards that all designers across the business could adhere to. They want something distinctive and recognisable and they knew whatever was created needed to be truly cross-platform and that with simplified user journeys.

The BBC didn’t do it on all by themselves. Together with representatives from across the business, led by the project’s Creative Director, Ben Gammon, they formed a Global Design Working Group, and created a GVL Steering Group to help manage and direct the course of the project. The BBC also approached the industry to find a partner to co-create the styleguide: Neville Brody and his agency, Research Studios.

Over the last four months, they have spent countless hours and created countless iteration designs, components, mastheads, footers, polar maps, word documents, pdfs and grids… and this is all still a work in progress.

They are creating a design philosophy, or a set of values, to unite the user experience practitioners across the business and have settled on nine keywords which sum up what they’re about and what they’re trying to achieve:

Modern British
The BBC want to create a modern British design aesthetic, something vibrant and quirky that translates outside our national boundaries.

Current
It needs to feel current and reflect what’s happening in the UK right now, in real-time with links to the past – to a rich archive.

Authentic
Need to sound authentic and relevant, warm and human.

Compelling
The BBC engages the audiences with compelling storytelling with voice ranges from serious and authoritative through to witty and entertaining.

Distinctive
Standing out from the crowd, the BBC is bold and dramatic.

Pioneering
They pioneer design innovations that surprise and delight.

Joined-up
All services and platforms as one connected but deliver experiences that are sensitive to their context of use.

Universal
The services are open and accessible with simple, useful and intuitive interfaces.

Best
The BBC’s ambition is to be the best digital media brand in the world.

In doing this work they have begun to distil the essence of a new visual style. Taking inspiration from many sources to try and achieve “an underlying grid system that was flexible enough to enable many unique design variations whilst still feeling coherent and considered.”

The new grid is based on 31 sixteen pixel columns with two left hand columns that can be split into four, and one wider right hand column.

A key feature of the new GVL is a much more dramatic use of typography. As well as Gill Sans they have introduced big bold type in Helvetica or Arial and restricted variations in size so that we have much greater consistency across the site.

Below and on the left is an example of it all pulled together on a new story page, and examples of typography styling in promo drawers. It is focused on signposting and articulation; you can see the time stamping treatment and signposting for live content.

The BBC wanted to create something that is flexible enough to allow all the brands their full expression whilst uniting them into a coherent user experience.They also wanted to strip out any superfluous decoration and allow the content and imagery to shine through which we find exciting and refreshing

The final push is to finalise the masthead and footer. They are also looking at mobile, IPTV and social elements on the page (social bookmarking, share functionality, comments, ratings, reviews etc).

As to when exactly this will go live, it is hard to say. There will need to be a significant test phase because maintaining their status as a very reliable site is very important. But considering they are in the latter stages of the build it could be as soon as this summer, but we may have to wait until the winter. Whatever the case maybe we are looking forward to its arrival.

MintTwist – Web Design in London, UK – refreshing the web

Job Opening for a Senior Sales Manager at MintTwist

Senior Sales Manager – Web Marketing Strategy Services

Leading Web Marketing, Design and Development agency have an excellent opportunity for an experienced Senior Sales Manager with strong Web experience to join their London Head office.

In this role you will be responsible for the following:

- Follow up leads and win new business contracts on a monthly basis

- Develop and cultivate the continuous supply of sales leads, lead generation channels and business contacts

- Attend face to face meetings

- Manage relationship with new and current clients

- Attend relevant networking events and industry forums

- Develop sales strategy for the UK and Europe

- Develop accurate sales forecast with business Director

- Manage database of clients and contacts

- Work with salesforce on a daily basis

This is an exciting opportunity to join a market leading business in a very visible and important role to the business. In order to be considered for this role you MUST have experience in the following:

- Strong experience in High Level service sales

- Web background and strong knowledge of web marketing techniques

- Web sales experience

Please send a copy of your Resume through to elliott@minttwist.com

Website Launch: Goal Group

MintTwist launches the new UK website for Goal Group who are widely-acknowledged in the financial services sector for its innovative and creative solutions to highly-specialised niche processes.  The new website is sleek and modern and, combined with the new web marketing strategy, will talk to a wider audience.  7 foreign language websites are due to follow this in the coming months.  See the new Goal Grgoup website here:  www.goalgroup.com

“Dragons Den winning company” chooses neighbour to refresh their blinds

London, U.K. — The company, Blinds-In-A-Box, has launched a new website ( http://www.blindsinabox.co.uk ) which sells their product; low cost, temporary and easily installable blinds.

Blinds-In-A-Box’s three partners Simeone Salik, Janice Dalton and Dominic Lawrence joined forces in 2007. After Simeone struggled to find temporary blinds for her new home, she along with her interior designer, ceased the current market gap as an opportunity and created their own business of temporary blinds.

In order to grow as a business, the trio needed outside support. In 2008, nervous but prepared, the three appeared on BBC’s show Dragon’s Den. After a clever and well planned pitch, Blinds-In-A-Box won the offer of investment with the show, but not without receiving a few disappointing ‘no’ responses from the other dragons investors. By taking up the offer with James Caan and Duncan Bannatyne, Blinds-In-A-Box was able to receive an investment of £40,000, buying the two Dragons half the business. The appearance on the show sparked a large rise in orders for Blinds-In-A-Box from customers. They were also able to close a deal with Argos that will stock more than 800 of their stores with thousands of Blind-In-A-Boxes temporary and inexpensive blinds.

Blinds-In-A-Box needed a website that mirrored the style and professionalism of their growing business. Mint Twist was selected because they could increase sales for the company by improving the website’s ‘visitor-to-customer conversion ratio’. It was a huge advantage that they just so happened to operate out of the same building; Central House in Finchley.

Early results indicate that visitor numbers and conversion rates are increasing.

Mint Twist was able to accomplish this by following a web design and marketing processes that gets target messages to target audiences with ‘clear calls to action’.

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MintTwist is a web agency that helps product and service businesses increase real sales leads and improve communication with proven, process driven web design and web marketing techniques. Its head office is in North London.

Contact Elliott King (MintTwist Business Director) on +44(0)20 8349 8213 or email elliott@minttwist.com to arrange an exploratory meeting.

Software Launch: ISSEL

ISSEL is a specialist in helping customers maximise the performance effectiveness of their organisations through the use of web analytics and performance management technologies.  MintTwist has been working with ISSEL to produce a SUSHI compatible web service to be installed on top of their existing HitList system allowing clients to access SUSHI reports remotely.  The web service is now running live and doing a superb job!

Website Launch: Visibility Lighting

The funky new website for Visibility lighting goes live!  Visibility Lighting & Sound was established in 2002 with the aim to provide customers with light fittings at affordable prices and from the worlds leading Lighting Design companies such as Murano, Foscarini, MetalSpot, Flos and de Majo to name but a few.  The new website reflects the compnies core values and talks directly to their target audience.  See the new website here:   www.visibilitylighting.co.uk

Website Launch: The Faraday Partnership

MintTwist are proud to announce the launch of the new Faraday website.  Faraday offer a personalised portfolio of complementary services to improve your organisation’s performance and leadership throughout the UK.  The brand new website compliments the announcement that Faraday is now accredited to Lot 16 – Management and Leadership on the OGC.buying solutions framework agreement for Learning & Development and eLearning Solutions.  See the new website at www.thefaradaypartnership.com

Web Design and Doughnuts

9th – 16th May 2009 is National Doughnut Week (UK) which is supported by celebrity chefs Ainsley Harriott and Brian Turner and sponsored by The Children’s Trust, a registered Charity and MintTwist Ltd, a London Web Design Agency.

Celebrity chef and popular TV personality, Ainsley Harriott is once again putting his support behind the campaign, in the hope that even more cash will be raised for The Children’s Trust. He said:

“Everyone deserves a treat now and then and National Doughnut Week provides a fun opportunity to treat someone you know to a delicious, mouth-watering doughnut. So bakers, get baking and all you lovely people get buying and help raise funds for a very special charity.”

Celebrity chef, Brian Turner is also supporting the 2007 campaign and said:

“National Doughnut Week is a fantastic way to treat yourself with some guilt-free indulgence because it’s all for the amazing charity, The Children’s Trust! The Trust makes a difference to the lives of children with multiple disabilities all over the country. So treat yourself and someone special to a doughnut and help change lives this National Doughnut Week.”

Director of MintTwist, Elliott King said:

“When we were first approached to get involved with National Doughnut Week we weren’t sure whether we should be taking offence. It was an honor to donate our skills to assist the Children’s Trust.”

Get involved and see the website here: http://www.nationaldoughnutweek.org/

More on this: http://minttwist.wordpress.com/2009/02/09/minttwist-eats-up-design-costs-for-national-doughnut-week/