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 website designs.

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.

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.

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.

Is cloud computing the future of web design?

Cloud computingWith the 7th International Cloud Expo being held in America this November and the announcement that New York City and Microsoft are teaming up to provide the city’s 100,000 employees with access to cloud services, it is evident that cloud computing is now at the forefront of computing technology and a current buzzword in the field.

Cloud computing refers to anything that involves delivering hosted services over the internet and encompasses any subscription-based or pay-by-use service that, in real time, extends IT’s existing capabilities.

A clear benefit of this provision is the inevitable reduced cost incurred by any organisation.  The provision is not owned, with any resources being consumed as a service.  The company only pays for what is used as a utility, therefore avoiding capital expenditure.  According to New York City’s Mayor, “Through our partnership with Microsoft, we’ve found ways to offer our employees Microsoft’s newest computing tools while reducing costs to taxpayers.

By capitalizing on the city’s buying power, consolidating dozens of separate city agency license agreements into a single one, and paying for software based on use, we’ll save $50 million over the next five years.”

Until now, New York City’s agencies each purchased software individually, comprising more than 40 separate license agreements and even more maintenance and support contracts. With the new cloud agreement, all of the city’s software and services will be under one unified agreement, saving money and eliminating confusion.

Organisations also benefit from increased storage capacity as compared with that available on private computer systems.  With a phenomenal growth in data quantities, companies are under pressure to store and protect not only new data, but older existing data that is kept ‘just-in-case’ to protect against any future difficulties.  With this storage requirement comes additional costs associated with the greater need to manage and protect the data.  Cloud computing provides a cost-effective solution for this ongoing problem.

With the continued advances in technology and ever changing needs of organisations, cloud services ensure that the most up-to-date software is available to companies.  Similarly, the evolving nature of such provision ensures that companies are offered greater flexibility in how they access services and the many different combinations of services that may be required.

Possibly the most significant benefit arising from this shift in technology is the ability to access information from anywhere, resulting in greater mobility for employees.  In the case of New York particularly, this benefit is exemplified by the fact that many of the city’s workers are not office-based and so will have improved access to services with resulting improvements in communication between agencies.

Despite the significant benefits associated with the cloud computing revolution, there is also concern surrounding cloud computing and its attendant security risks.  The main concerns about cloud computing are security and privacy as data inside the ‘cloud’ is outside a company’s firewall and that brings with it an intrinsic threat of risk.  With an increase in hacking attempts, companies need to implement stringent security measures such as proven cryptographic methods to authenticate users.

This security risk extends beyond data storage to web development.  It is evident that an unsecure server is bad for search engine optimisation and for a company’s website.  As identified by an SEO London company, a lack of security in the cloud can result in the loss of search engine rankings.

As part of the ever growing and evolving IT industry, we must be open to advances in technology even if we maintain some reservations about potential security issues or associated concerns.  A spokesperson from a London web design company recognises the potential for cloud computing and the advances in technology in our every day lives.  “As web designers we frequently find ourselves caught up in the everyday workings of the internet”.  Cloud computing may very well be the new technology to drastically change the web design market but ultimately only time will tell.

Did you know you can get FREE Champagne by refering new business to MintTwist?

Free Bottle of champagne

Yes it’s true! MintTwist is offering the finest Champagne (FREE) for each and every successful referral you provide.

How to get my FREE Champagne?

It couldn’t be more simple.  Send us a quick email with the details of the business you are referring, including the contact you would like us to approach, and we will do the rest.  Our experienced sales team will get in touch with the business, and if they decide to use one of our Web Design, Web Marketing or SEO services we will ship your your FREE Champagne.  Nothing to it!

How do I start?

Simply send us an email to info@minttwist.com with the contact details of your referral and let our sales team do the rest!

Facebook: The good, the bad and the ugly

When you consider that Facebook was launched in February 2004 and has grown to over 500 million members, it really is an incredible achievement. It is a feat of epic proportions and a tremendous success story which also reflects the growing popularity of social networking.

There are people whose career is now dependant of Facebook. There is an ongoing battle between  independent application developers and development companies such as Zynga, around the world including web design London.

Zynga is a fantastic example of success with Facebook. After being in business for nearly three years the company has an annual revenue of over $100 million dollars and are responsible for some of the most popular applications on Facebook, specifically Farmville and Mafia Wars.

However, in the interest of fairness and objectivity, one could argue that Facebook is a bit like Marmite. You either love it or hate it. My fourteen year old niece for example will happily spend hour after hour on Facebook, whereas I will spend maybe five to ten minutes on it every day or two.

A few too manyHow many times have you been out with friends, maybe you had a few dozen too many drinks and made a complete fool of yourself, which would have been fine pre 2004 because even if your friends did have cameras and took pictures there was no website which could embarrass you in the same way Facebook can.

The influence of Facebook has also spread to businesses and careers. It is widely reported that employers will try and find your profile on Facebook, just to see if there is anything you perhaps forgot to mention. You have the ability share with the world absolutely everything that you like and dislike, your favourite music, food, movies and your political and religious affiliations.

For some the amount of information has gone too far. It is frequently said that knowledge is power, and if that is the case Facebook is all powerful because they have knowledge of over half a billion user. Some might ask what possible harm could come from all this knowledge?

Well a lot really. To begin with, companies will go to extreme lengths to gather data on customers and Facebook is a giant and rich database of customers. Since 2004 advertising has become increasingly significant for the company because it brings in revenue. With Facebook companies can set up highly targeted adverts, so one could argue that ad least users aren’t bombarded with random advertising. By localizing the site Facebook is sending out a strong message of willingness to improve their service which is encouraging.

There is also a much darker site to data which was demonstrated during World War 2. In Germany and elsewhere in Europe, as the Nazis grip spread to Poland, France, Holland and Belgium the census’ of the countries were used to hunt down Jews and other political enemies. Indeed this is a somewhat extreme example of the dark side of data but it did happen and does show how information can be used in the worst possible way.

International web design in London

London undergroundIn the last 100 years the world has shrunk. It is now so small that the furthest place you can go is at most going to be a day or two away. There are some exceptions though, for example if you wanted to reach the heart of the Amazon rainforest or the North Pole or any other extreme location it might a bit longer than a few days, say a week or so.

Living in London you really do get a sense of this shrinking planet we share. Having been born and raised in this remarkable city I consider it a genuine privilege. The city has so much history, energy, culture, style and beauty it is impossible not to fall in love with it.

There have been many famous quotes about London but one has always stood out for me. The English poet Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) once said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”

Putting to one side my bias and instead thinking more impartially, for me to say that London is perfect would be a lie. There is no such thing as perfection. However the same can be said about all major cities, they all have their problems.

What I find most amazing about London is the richness of culture and the variety of nationalities, which you don’t have to go far to see examples of. The workforce at MintTwist itself is evidence of a small world and multi-culturist society.

  • Eric our SEO guru has Kenyan parents and moved to the UK at a young age.
  • Gabriel, who works on web marketing, is from Argentina.
  • One of our developers, Julien is half French, half English.
  • Andre our senior developer is half Portuguese and half Angolan.
  • Mustafa, our project manager is Turkish Cypriot.
  • Lee our head designer is a quarter Italian, three quarters English.
  • Alexis, one of MintTwist’s directors is half Greek Cypriot and half English.
  • Our other director, Elliott, and without doubt the most interesting blend of nationalities, is one quarter Spanish, one quarter Jamaican and half English.

As for myself, I have a Croatian mother and my father’s family immigrated to the UK from Poland over a hundred years ago.

More than anything, what this demonstrates is that the movement of people is a fundamental part of the development of mankind. Ever since humans evolved into bipedal creatures it has been in our genes to explore and relocate to better places. Without it Columbus wouldn’t have discovered America, the Vikings wouldn’t have come to Britain and the British would be much worse off and a more crowded place because we wouldn’t have Australia to send criminals to.

Only joking! :-)

The MintTwist-ology : Design the Perfect Website

Introduction

In order to design the perfect Website, you will need to have your Website Planning document (see Plan the Perfect Website).

With this, your Designer can start the process of Website Design.

Broadly, the Website Design process involves three main deliverables:

• Create a ‘sitemap’
• Create ‘wireframes’ for Homepage and Content page(s)
• Create ‘visuals’ Homepage and Content page(s)

What is a sitemap?

A sitemap is a diagram that defines all of the pages in a Website and the hierarchical structure in which they will sit.

Note: In the ‘build’ phase the sitemap will be turned into a physical web page; this helps humans get a quick overview with quick links to of all the pages within a site. It also helps Google to automatically index all of the pages in your site (this helps with the Search Engine Optimisation of your site; which in the medium term will increase your number of visitors from the search engines).

What does a sitemap look like?

As an initial starting structure, a standard website will probably contain at least the following pages:

• Homepage
• About Us
• Products and/or Services Homepage
o Product 1
o Product 2
o Service 1
o Service 2
• Contact Us
• Terms and Conditions
• Sitemap

To this, a number of other pages will be added. The number and types of these pages should be determined by your Website Planning document and any other supporting preparatory material that you may have.

Note: It is advisable to provide each distinct function of your website with a dedicated page. This way each page of your website remains relevant and clear, maximising the effect its specific message and related call to action for your visitor.

An example of a sitemap for a Shipping Website

sitemap1

Wireframes

The wireframes will provide a visual overview of the sections of the web pages and the types of content and functionality that will be placed on them. A wireframe will be used to ensure that the correct messages and calls to action will be placed in the correct places on the page in order to maximise their effectiveness.

Note: There should be no areas of ‘dead’ or ‘unused’ space. The space on a web page is your real estate and your web designer should ensure that every last bit of it is working for your business. A wireframe will help you to see what each and every part of the web page will be used for.

An example of a content page wireframe for a Shipping Website

wireframe

Website Visuals

The homepage is your face to the Internet; it should be designed to be high impact; immediately portraying your target message to your target customer. Studies show that Internet users make up their mind about a website in less than 2 seconds based on their experience of your homepage. If they don’t like what the see, feel or read they will move to the next website on the list.

The homepage visual should be designed first. Once this visual is agreed, content page visuals can also be designed. Depending on the complexity of the site one of more content page visuals should be created.

An example of a homepage visual for a Shipping Website

visual

Approving the Design

At each stage of the Design process you should review the deliverable to ensure that the correct messages and calls to action are being presented in a Design style that will appeal to your target audience.

Using your Website Designs

Once complete your Website Designs will be used by the Website Coder in the next stage of creating your “Perfect Website”…Develop the Perfect Website

This article is based on the “MintTwist-ology” for creating the “Perfect Website”. MintTwist is a London based Web Agency specialising in high quality Web Design and Development.

The MintTwist-ology : Plan the Perfect Website

Introduction

In order to create the perfect Website, firstly you need to have a Website Planning document. Before you can start the process of Website Planning you need to know two key things:

· What do you want your Website to say?

· Who do you want your Website to say it to?

Once you can answer these questions you are ready to proceed and begin “Website Planning”.

Website Planning

The process of Website Planning involves you being able to define 4 key aspects of your Website. These are:

· Message/Audience

· Perception

· Action

· Content

By following this article, and writing down the answers to the questions in each section you will produce your own Website Planning document.

Define your Website Message and Audience

Write down the answers to these questions:

· What is the primary message you wish to convey to the audience of your website?

Examples of this are; telephone us about our product/service, buy something, register with our website etc.

· What are the major purposes for the site?

Examples of these are; name branding, e-commerce, product or service information, generate leads, etc.

· What are the specific short-term and long-term goals for the site?

Examples of these are; to reduce customer service in-house, generate x increase in sales, generate new leads, etc.

· Who is your target audience?

Where relevant include things like; age range, profession, interests, gender, income bracket etc.)

· Is you target Website target audience different from your current customer profile? If so, please describe.

· Are you a local, regional or an international business and do you want to target a specific area?

· Who are your primary competitors?

· How does your company differentiate itself from competitors?

· What are the key reasons why customers choose your company?

Examples of these are; price, information, niche, quality, speed, expertise, sole provider.

Define your Website Perception

· Write down three adjectives to describe how the user should perceive the site.

Examples are; conservative, progressive, friendly, formal, casual, serious, experts, humorous, service-oriented, professional, etc.

· How is your company currently perceived?

· Do you wish to carry through the same kind of message through your website?

· List any URLs of sites you find compelling. What do you find the most interesting about these sites?

· List URLs of competitor sites. What you like and dislike about their overall site?

Define the Actions you want your Website Visitors to take

· What is the primary action you wish your target user to take from the homepage of your site?

Examples of these are; order a product, download a brochure, browse company information, move along specified path through the catalogue, email customer service, explore pages, phone your shop / office, etc.

· What is the primary action you wish your target user to take before leaving your site? Is it the same action? If not, describe why.

· What elements are key items you wish to have available to the user on every page?

Examples of these are; order form, brochure, email address, contact information, advertisements, access to a particular product range etc.

Define your Website Content

· Will this site use existing or new content? Describe any visual elements or styles you want.

Examples include; logo, text, product shots, press releases, testimonials, brochures, sell/data sheets, etc,

· Can this be utilized from existing marketing materials or collateral?

· Describe the major topics for your site?

Examples include; Products, Services, Information, How to Contact Us, Links, Frequently Asked Questions, Events, Members-Only Area, etc.

· If relevant, describe the product/service categories of your Website. If relevant, include sub-categories.

An example of this would be; 1. Fry Pans: Pancake / Crepe pans, Omelette pans, Sauté pans, Frying pans, Deep fat fryers, Accessories. 2. Pans: Pan sets, Sauce pans, Milk pans, Speciality pans, Pan Lids, Pan Storage, etc.

· If relevant, describe the major brands (other than your own) that your company would like to promote on the Website.

Choose a cross section of brands that represent your company fully, these could include; budget brands, premium brands, fashionable brands, high quality brands.

Include other useful Information

Remember to add anything else that you feel is relevant as a footnote to your Website Planning document.

Using your Website Planning document

Once complete your Website Planning document will be used by the Website Designer in the next stage of creating your “Perfect Website”…Design the Perfect Website

This article is based on the “MintTwist-ology” for creating the “Perfect Website”. MintTwist is a London based Web Agency specialising in high quality Web Design and Development.

Looking Forward

Journal of an American Intern

Paris and Beyond

Wow, it seems like this internship and study abroad experience has gone by really really fast. It seems like I have hardly been here! I’ve done a lot of exciting things in London, at MintTwist and around Europe and I have loved it. Here at MintTwist I have written a lot, which I never really enjoyed before but now I have realized that I don’t hate writing if it’s creative writing. All those papers that I have to do in the next five days before I leave don’t seem that tough any more.

Now that I have been with MintTwist for about five weeks, I can tell that the company is really going somewhere fast. The vibrant, youthful and fun attitude which is portrayed through www.minttwist.com is representative of the people working here, and the direction they want to go in. In addition to being a fun and eager company, they have the right opportunities coming their way to do something really impressive in the future. I’m excited to see where the company is going and I will definitely be following up. Did I mention MintTwist is on Facebook!?

I also got to go to Paris last weekend. I have wanted to go for so long! It was beautiful, but I think it looks better in pictures for some reason. I also wish I knew French because it was not easy to communicate, even with the people who spoke English. My favourite thing there was the Louvre which I only got to see for an hour and a half because it was closing. I would have gone there just to see the building if there wasn’t eve art in it. It’s so big and so nice and I can’t wait to go back someday and spend a whole day there. That’ll have to wait until I’m rich one day though.

Anyway, this is my last entry. London has been great and so has MintTwist. I will keep my eye out for all the good things to come from MintTwist and I can’t wait to see the USA site up…

Cheers,

Tommy

Web Design Vacation

Journal of an American Intern

Oh my, this weekend was the craziest I have had yet, and arguably ever. All I have to say is thank God they speak English in Dublin. We got to Dublin at about midnight, and took a cab straight to the hostel which was hidden away not too close to down town. After we finally found it, we were told that we couldn’t stay there because we had booked incorrectly. Oh joy, here we are dead tired after working and travelling on a Thursday night without a place to stay! Uh oh.

Luckily we had an extremely nice and helpful cab driver who was able to tell us some other places we could stay. After a €60 cab ride and a couple unsuccessful inquiries for a room, we found another hostel to stay in. It was actually way nicer than I ever expected a hostel to be; we had four beds and our own bathroom! We were so relieved. We wanted to stay there again because it was really close to the centre of the city and obviously was very nice. So we asked the place we had mis-booked if we could cancel, and they said yes and that we would only loose our deposit of €40. Sounds great. So we booked the nicer one nearer to city centre and paid. I felt so happy and relieved.

Then we called the other place to cancel, and were told that we couldn’t and we would have to pay for that night. It was really frustrating and since we don’t have tons of money, we had to cancel the nicer place and walk a couple miles to the next place, which ended up being a college dorm that stunk like old take-out food and didn’t have working showers. Yay!

We finally got to go out in the city and begin our day at about 1:00. We saw the Dublin Castle which was the weirdest “castle” I have ever seen; it had modern buildings attached and colourful painted exterior walls. Anyway, part of the point we went to Dublin was to meet one of my best friends from home who has been studying in France this summer. Once we met up we ate, and then went out for the night. It was a great night.

The next day we walked to the Guinness factory in the rain, got literally soaked, and waited in line for an hour to walk through a building, not a factory, which simply promoted the Guinness brand. What? I was expecting something much different but that’s OK because its one of those places you “have to go.” After that we went to dinner which was a huge meal – three courses! I was so excited until my friend had a panic attack and we had to leave to go to the emergency room. He’s OK now, but it was a pretty intense situation at the time. And now we know how the health system works there, which is very different from America. I saw a women collapse in the waiting room and no one even cared. My friend was crying and freaking out on the ground and no one cared. I saw people who looked terrible and clearly needed help who had been there for 6 hours and would be waiting for who knows how long. After we were there for three hours and were told it would probably be six more, my friend tried to get it together and said we should leave. And that is my Dublin story. It was a mess but it was really fun as well.

Here at MintTwist I’ve been creating templates and documents to help before and after projects and to gain feedback from customers. I can’t believe it but after this week it will only be one more week here! Next week I’m going to Paris so watch out for that entry cause it’ll be the last.

Stonehenge and Bath

Journal of an American Intern

Last weekend I got to go to Stonehenge and Bath, both of which were very interesting and unlike anything I have seen before. I have heard that Stonehenge was awe-inspiring, and while it was impressive I was surprised I didn’t find it more fascinating. I was also surprised that it is just off of a main road. It was weird because we were suddenly there, right next to Stonehenge. It was really cool and I am glad that I got to see it, but I do not think I will go back.

Next we were off to Bath, which I knew little about. Immediately upon arriving I loved the architecture and atmosphere. It felt very old and home-like. Not that where I’m from looks anything like that, it just felt cosy. We went on a walking tour through the city and learned the history and stories of Bath. It was beautiful; there were lots of flowers and well-groomed gardens because apparently they enter a contest every year for having the best gardens. Then we went to the Roman Baths which were humid and dirty looking. Seemed like it would have been an amazing place during Roman times but now it’s in decay and looks pretty sketch (sketch, or sketchy is the American word for dodgy BTW). They say that the water from the spring can heal anything so I drank some, but since I wasn’t sick or anything the jury is still out on that one.

My time here at MintTwist is still going well. I enjoy the meetings on Monday mornings because I like to listen and know what’s going on around the office. That’s one thing I think some businesses fail at—basically communicating by having regular meetings to discuss what’s going on. Note number two: if I ever have a desktop computer again I have to get two huge screens. I think that’s all for now, I’m going to Dublin this weekend so I gotta get going!! I can’t wait to write about that next week.

My Feelings on Branding

Journal of an American Intern

It’s my second week in London. I love that the temperature here isn’t too hot, but the cloudy sky is getting really depressing. Pittsburgh is known to be cloudy and depressing but this feels much worse! They say it’s supposed to get sunny soon. Can’t wait! Anyway, right now I’m learning a lot about MintTwist, what they’re all about and what they are good at. MintTwist has created a really cool brand which they have reflected through their website. I happen to be very interested in branding so I’m excited to be able to work here. Maybe my interest in brands comes from being American where we are obsessed with brand names and material goods. Branding is definitely an effective way of selling products.

Website design is really a modern way of reflecting a company’s brand and image to their audience. So in a way MintTwist is more than a Web Design Agency, they are like a marketing company as well. Some of the work I have been doing has been creating questionnaires for new clients to gather information. One of them was a Branding Questionnaire which I found to be particularly pertinent for a few reasons; I love branding, I think all companies should have a clear brand identity, and I think MintTwist should become more involved in branding their clients.

In a way, it is necessary for a company to have a strong brand identity before creating a website, because if they do not have a sense of self how can MintTwist create a website which reflects their spirit? In addition this brand which we reflect on their website needs to be carried throughout their company with print work, business cards etc. So when a client comes to MintTwist I think that we should help them develop, update, or create a brand image, then create a website which reflects that, and then complete the project with matching business cards and letterheads etc. Obviously I’m sort of an idealist, and that is definitely an ideal, so take it for what its worth. I think I got that ‘full service’ attitude from working in retail where they would tell us to “complete the sale” by getting customers to buy basically anything and everything and then opening a credit card at the register. I don’t really appreciate that attitude because it feels really corporate and pushy, but in terms of branding I believe in it because brands should be all-encompassing. In short, I love brands and the creation of them.

First Week in London

Journal of an American Intern

Hello, my name is Tommy and I am an American student studying abroad in London and interning at MintTwist, a Web Design Agency in North London. I attend the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania where I am studying Communication and Economics. Many people have never heard of Pittsburgh, but you probably just didn’t know you have, because it’s where Heinz Ketchup is made! I love ketchup… but that’s not what I’m here to discuss; I am writing this blog to chronicle my experience as an intern at MintTwist! But, no worries this blog won’t be strictly business, I will also include stories from my personal life and the trips I will be taking to Stonehenge, Bath, Dublin and Paris!

I’ve been waiting 5 years to come back to London, and I have finally arrived!! I am so excited, and really exhausted, but to be totally honest London isn’t the place I always dreamed of studying abroad. Trinity College in Dublin is where I’ve dreamt of studying. But that’s not what happened! So why am I here, you ask? Because I also love London, and I think I want to move abroad one day (possibly to London) and if I wanted to see what it would be like to work in the UK. After all, if I was going to move to a different continent, it would be helpful to have had working experience there, cause if I didn’t I would probably be homeless. In short, the opportunity to have an internship in London was too good to be true and when I found out I could I knew this was what I wanted to do!

Now that I’ve settled down and done all that orientation stuff, I’ve begun my internship at MintTwist. In case you have been speed reading or haven’t been paying attention, MintTwist is not a drink… it’s a Web Design Agency! My mom said it sounded like a beverage, it does, and I think that’s the point, its refreshing! It’s a cool name, (people don’t say ‘cool’ here do they?) and it makes you take another look and ask who are you MintTwist? I’ll tell you what I know… which is what I’ve seen on MintTwist.co.uk. Besides that I am researching Search Engine Optimization (SEO) like none other and trying to get used to my new life for six weeks.

My first impression from the site was that MintTwist was a young, vibrant and creative company. I loved what I saw because I felt like it seemed like a quirky, fun company. Those who know me well might (I mean would probably) describe me that way. So I was happy to be interning at this place called MintTwist. Now that I am here sitting in the office I can tell you what MintTwist is like behind the beautifully designed website. You must want to know if the website is reflective of the actual company, right? If not, skip this and go to the next entry.

The atmosphere at MintTwist is actually very similar to the website; the company is busy, energetic and of course, creative. That’s not to say that the website is ‘busy’ though, it’s very well laid out! But what more would you expect from a company that designs websites which are reflective of their organizations? I am excited to be working for such a young, energetic company because there is a positive attitude and an eagerness to expand the business to new markets and regions of the world. Eagerness and excitement in a business is really important to me because there is nothing worse than working for a company which isn’t excited about its work. That can be truly miserable and boring. MintTwist is not that kind of place, and that is refreshing.

MintTwist launches WordPress Blog

MintTwist is pleased to announce the launch of their new WordPress blog!

WordPress is a powerful blogging tool that has taken the Internet by storm and it feels right that MintTwist should become a part of it.

With the launch of the MintTwist Weblog comes a fantastic opportunity to blog about our trials and tribulations with our web design projects, as well as the views of the team regarding current Web trends and issues.

MintTwist is a website design and development agency based in North London, with a new office in Northampton. We develop websites from the ground up, as well as refreshing existing sites.

Our close relationship with our clients has proved that we can work with a vast array of people and organisations, both large and small.

It is with excitement that MintTwist launches this blog, and we hope you enjoy it to.