Whatever the project ahead we need clarity
and you need to know you’ve got the right team to deliver on what you want to
Before every new client engagement for a sales and marketing web development, we’d like to actually find out who you are, what makes you tick, and why your customers buy you. This way we can make certain that anything we produce, be it a website, social media program, blog program, or alike meets your expectations and those of your clients.
We’d like to start with your vision and
Your Vision is saying what you want
for to the world,
Your mission statement is how
you’re going to present yourself and interact with the world.
Then we know you!
With that understanding we’ll move on to understanding
your brand manual. We come across many who have no brand guidance in place which makes it
difficult to project the business in a consistent and accurate manner;
essential for consistent sustainable growth. Your brand guidance will include
your visual identity,
your colour palette,
the fonts that represent your business,
logo usage guidelines
the tone of voice and the positioning so copy is consistent
Positioning – How you are seen as in the world for instance are these part of the company’s mantra:
If there is no brand manual in place we will need time to understand these item
with you before we start the project. Many clients have us complete this
formative work with them as a mini project before the main project; thus “putting
in firm footings”.
Given all the above items that shout to the world who you are and why the
readers need to take notice, we’ll have a good idea of what makes you special
so we can make you look the
best “you” you can be online
“Customers in the past, have said, ‘you’re a little bit different to the others’.
Well, this may or may not be the case.
But what does resonate with us is that we take the time to understand who you
are, and what makes you the best at what you do. Then with that knowledge,
we’re armed with all we need to make you look good to everybody else.
Frankly, it’s pointless leaping into a
program of building a website, running a marketing campaign for you, writing
your social media, engaging with your social media audience on your behalf,
writing blogs for you, or doing creative
branding if all of this is on weak ground if we don’t know who you are, and
what makes you good.
So the first questions with any new engagement
with Toucan Internet is
Yesterday I had an urgent call from a good client who needed advice on a domain name that was being offered to them. This domain name was reportedly ranking highly with Google as it was made up from a combination of generic product and location terms, such as interior-design-london.co.uk.
The first thing to consider is that in a by gone era exact
match domain names positively impacted search results, whereas now the Google
Algorithm is much more mature, and the impact is negligible if not negative. My
message today is if you want quality results then have a quality website from
all key aspects; content, user value and technically.
The vendors of these “unmissable” domains will normally say
that there is someone else or a client interested but they are offering it to
you for some reason – who would ever commission such a company when they’ll
offer the domain to your competition; that just does not stack up.
As with any purchase you need a degree of due diligence, the
empirical evidence of relevant visitors to a domain name is a must; you are in
a similar way when buying a business, buying the customer list. Remember a
website that is ranking well one month may not do so well the next as rules
change. Furthermore, if the website has been closed for a while and it’s just
the domain name that’s available, Google will start to clear it from the
results as it has no pages to index and also the third-party backlinks will
diminish over time. Effectively there is a half-life of a domain name when it
has no associated website as it’s SERPS
value diminishes over time.
will give you some basic data, importantly it will give you the date of
registration, then if you’re being offered a domain that was registered
recently, you know it’s a scam as it would have had little time to gather a presence.
The performance data can be hard to interpret but should give you an
My recommendation is to follow your inner compass on such
matters and not be brow beaten into taking an unmissable offer because you’re concerned
that you’re missing out; trust me most are miss’able.
Additionally, if the domain is offered at say £700, also consider
what value you could buy your business with that money such as paid advertising
clicks or professional social media content and engagement.
For my clients I’m always available to assist with any such
decision making and welcome your calls.
Simon Thomas has 40 years’ experience in business practices
and builds & programs bespoke websites and apps that sell, market and
“My kick is seeing the business wheels spin more efficiently once we’ve done the geeky process stuff”.
When was the last time
you stood back and looked at the workflows in your business? Why should you if
everything is working well; orders are coming in, the system is processing them
and the goods and services are going out?
The simple reason is
that we live in an environment where technology, convergence and innovation are
opening up new opportunities for everyone, especially businesses, and giving us
further tools and resources to achieve more. OK it’s easy to get overload at
this point with the opportunities to do things differently are everywhere and we
can also be seduced by the next new shiny toy, be that hardware or an app.
Cleverly you need to continually
ensure your business assesses what resources it needs to grow and remain
efficient; what you did last year may not be the best this year; and if you
were doing it five years ago you’re likely missing a benefit somewhere.
We routinely see
businesses processing data and products where big leaps in efficiency could be
gained through the automation of workflow and processes. There are some very
simple changes where automation apps can be included behind the website. Some
businesses will have started and developed workflows using spreadsheets, which
to my mind is excellent as you’ve got a tool that everyone knows how to use at
a fundamental level and changes can be made quickly and with little overhead.
However when the
processes are proven and mature, rarely is a basic spreadsheet the most efficient
way. Use spreadsheets as breadboards for building and honing the process and
then get the processes automated. The automation will remove human error and
save significant labour costs. Then with the freed-up labour turn it to greater
profitability, therefore growing your
business not your payroll.
Having your staff,
customers and processes on one common platform makes for significant innovative
opportunities for growth.
Simon Thomas has 40
years’ experience in business process and builds & programs bespoke
websites and apps that sell, market and automate
processes. “My kick is seeing the business wheels spin more freely once we’ve
done the geeky stuff”.
SSL Certificates provide secure, encrypted communications
between a website and an internet browser. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer,
the protocol which provides the encryption. SSL Certificates are typically
installed on pages or whole websites that require end-users to submit sensitive
information over the internet such as personal data, credit card details and passwords.
Pages such as payment pages, online forms and login pages should have SSL
Why Do I Need an SSL Certificate?
Data transferred in non-encrypted format can be intercepted
between you and the webserver such that your communication and the data therein
could be compromised and stolen. Online transactions may involve sending personal
information such as credit card information, social security numbers, usernames
and passwords. Cybercriminals who intercept unencrypted communications will
gain full access to this data and can use it for fraudulent activities
including identity theft and purchases.
Trust and security are what make people confident enough to
provide private or sensitive information online. SSL certificates demonstrates
that a website or web page can be trusted. Any organisation must use an SSL
certificate to secure their site if they wish to take online payments or expect
their visitors to submit confidential information. Apart from building
essential trust and security into your website, SSL certificates also help with
SEO efforts as Google rates the use of an SSL as a positive ranking indicator.
SSL Products Overview
All SSL certificates are typically a
combination of a Validation Level and Type.
Certificate Validation Levels
Extended Validated Certificates:
EV certificates provide the highest levels of security,
trust and customer confidence for online businesses. EV certificates are issued
only after the issuing Certificate Authority has conducted rigorous background
checks on the company according to the guidelines laid out by the Certificate
Authority/Browser (CA/B) Forum. Because of this, EV certificates contain a
unique differentiator designed to clearly communicate the trustworthiness of
the website to its visitors. Whenever somebody visits a website that uses an EV
certificate, the address bar will turn green in major browsers such as Internet
Explorer and Firefox however Chrome have dropped this pointing out that safe
websites should be the norm on the internet. EV certificates are used by all
major online retailers and banks and are highly recommended for businesses that
wish to immediately build customer trust in their site. The browser address bar
will include the company name with most popular browsers.
Organisation Validated Certificates:
OV certificates include full business and company validation
from a certificate authority using their established and accepted manual
vetting processes. Each OV certificate contains full company name and address
details, which means they provide significantly higher levels of assurance to
end-users than Domain Validated certificates. However, because they are not
validated to the CA/B forum standards, they do not possess the ability to turn
the browser address bar green.
Domain Validated Certificates:
DV certificates provide the same high levels of data
encryption as the other validation levels however do not provide assurance
about the identity of the business behind the website. Whereas EV and OV
certificates are only issued after the applicant organisation has been manually
vetted by a Certificate Authority, DV certificates are issued after domain control
has been established using an automated online process. DV certificates are a
popular choice amongst small-medium sized web sites because of their faster
issuance times and lower price points.
Free Non-Validated Certificates:
FNV certificates are only available to Toucan Internet LLP
clients and provide the same high levels of data encryption between the website
and browser. There is no validation on the domain or the organisation but will
engender trust with website users and assist as a positive ranking signal to
Google. These have some value however any enterprise should consider a DV certificate
as a minimum.
A single domain certificate allows a customer to secure one
Fully Qualified Domain Name on a single certificate. For example, a certificate
purchased for www.domain.com will allow customers to secure any and all pages
on www.domain.com. Single domain certificates are available in DV, OV,EV and
FNV variants at a variety of price points and warranty levels. The
straightforward nature of the single domain certificate makes it ideal for
small to medium sized businesses managing a limited number of websites.
However, businesses that operate or anticipate operating multiple websites may
benefit from the added flexibility, convenience and savings offered by wildcard
or multi-domain certificates.
Wildcard SSL Certificate
A Wildcard certificates allows businesses to secure a single
domain and unlimited sub-domains of that domain. For example, a wildcard
certificate for ‘*.domain.com’ could also be used to secure
‘payments.domain.com’, ‘login.domain.com, ‘anything-else.domain.com’ etc. A
wildcard certificate will automatically secure any sub-domains that a business
adds in the future. They also help simplify management processes by reducing
the number of certificates that need to be tracked. For growing online
businesses, Wildcard certificates provide a flexible, cost effective
alternative to multiple single certificate purchases.
Multi Domain SSL Certificate (MDC)
As the name suggests, a Multi-Domain certificate allows
website owners to secure multiple, distinct domains on a one certificate. For
example, a single MDC can be used to secure domain-1.com, domain-2.com,
domain-3.co.uk, domain-4.net and so on. Indeed, an MDC will allow you to secure
up to 100 different domains (or wildcard domains) on a single certificate.
Customers can easily add or remove domains at any time. This simplifies SSL
management because administrators need only keep track of a single certificate
with a unified expiry date for all domains instead of keeping tabs on multiple
certificates. In addition, MDCs usually represent a cost saving over the price
of individual certificates.
Unified Communications Certificate (UCC)
Unified Communications Certificates are specifically
designed to secure Microsoft® Exchange and Office Communications environments.
UC certificates use the Subject Alternative Name (SAN) field to allow customers
to include up to 100 domains on a single certificate – eliminating the need for
different IP addresses per website that would be required otherwise. UC
Certificates also support the Microsoft Exchange Autodiscover service, a
powerful feature which greatly eases client administration. As with MDCs, a
single UCC can greatly reduce SSL management duties while allowing customers to
realise cost savings over individual purchases.
Simon Thomas is a founding partner of
Toucan Internet LLP; making a difference for clients looking for greater and
unexpected outcomes from their digital engagement.
About the author
“Guidance like this is important to our clients when we
provide SSL’s for websites and web apps that Toucan Internet has developed.”
Simon also has 20 years direct
marketing experience pre-internet and provides a unique blend of innovative
advice based on experience and an informed understanding of today’s and
tomorrow’s enabling technologies.
When HAL asked “what are you doing Dave” in Stanley Kubrick’s film rendition of Arthur C Clarke’s classic “2001, a Space Odyssey”, it epitomised our distrust of autonomous processes that we allow to impact our lives. Pre-programmed devices and services fed from the data we leave in our wake steer our lives more than ever and none more than Google providing answers to your questions on which we all rely to make “informed” decisions.
We all understand that Google chooses answers according to a set of over 200 rules or The Algorithm, and this is continually updated to improve the search results in a fair manner. This will improve some companies’ search results and penalise others. Google, as this Information Age’s big player, is the one we must influence to improve our outcome, but we must play by the rules. Fortunately the rule writer in the Google inner sanctum manages this with responsibility, humanity and common sense.
Deciding on the facts from the hype in the search arena and then seeing how this will affect your presence on the web is the job of the search marketer.
If your presence doesn’t depend on Google search results then just consider your users’ needs when putting your website together, if they use smartphones to see your site it makes sense to provide them a site they can use with near equal benefit as someone on a wider screen device like a tablet or desktop.
If your commercial performance does however depend on the search engine result position then the latest Google algorithm update means you do need to have a website that is properly optimised and that now includes having a properly responsive site; that is one that automatically adapts to the device screen on which it’s displayed. There is considerably more paranoia in the SEO market than with previous Google updates suggesting that its impact will tear the very fabric of the Internet apart especially as it’s given the Hollywood blockbusteresque name of Mobilegeddon, implying that if your site doesn’t work on a mobile device you’re out of business on line. The reality however, some weeks since the release on 21st April, is somewhat mixed. Anyone having lived through and planned for digital Armageddon 15 years ago with the Millennium Bug will tend to be a touch more reflective when it comes to such cataclysmic pronouncements.
The real crux of this is how has this update actually affected websites’ search engine result positions (SERPS) since the Mobilegeddon day. The truth appears to be that the sites without responsive pages are suffering significantly poorer search engine traffic for generic search results, however brand specific searches are affected the least as Google will still naturally refer to the best search result to the brand site, be that a responsive webpage or not.
This update only affects search results from mobile devices. It does not affect results on searches from Tablets or PC’s.
It is a page level change and not site wide.
Quality non-responsive pages may still appear high in the mobile search results if there is superior content.
If your audience is predominantly desktop you still need to consider that your mobile audience is only going to grow.
Ultimately we should always come back to the simple fact that a good website that best meets the intended audience demands is going to be the winner. So write it well, keep up with and even lead in your market with regards layouts and facilities, keep it relevant, interesting and engaging, and take on board the right expert advice from time to time to stay ahead; then your site will remain in the limelight and return commercially.
The decision to choose between a routine website and one that ups the game to run business processes and online marketing is a big one, however the ongoing benefits of automating routine procedures saves time and money.
We were delighted to be commissioned to redevelop the website at Harrys.co.uk as Toucan Internet LLP started as Harry’s Bar’s web partner with their very first website that was developed in 1999.
The creative design was critical in capturing the essence of these two quite different Harry’s Bar restaurants. This exciting design involved considerable liaison with the team at Harry’s Bar and the photographers who shot some stunning images that project exactly what Harry’s Bar is about.
The technical specification was extensive and it affords the team at Harry’s Bar extensive control over the whole website through a friendly control panel:
Add and delete pages
Schedule pages to be available during certain periods, ideal for seasonal menus
Upload, crop and scale images automatically; no image preparation is required before upload
Mailing list function automatically handles opt-ins and corporate mail outs are managed directly on server affording easy mailings and avoidance of being seen as Spam
Place rotating onsite advertising panels
Manage the on-page search engine optimisation
Since a greater amount of decision making will be done through mobile web than is done on conventional pc’s over the next few years, Harry’s Bar’s new website also supports a responsive design that is automatically used in favour of a wider screen rendition if viewed on smartphones.
All menus have a dedicated print version that emulates the real restaurant menus such that they can be printed and reviewed before visiting the restaurants.
Finally when you’re in town next and fancy a bite to eat away from the madding crowd, we wholly recommend Harry’s Bar for a warm welcome, exquisite food and great atmosphere – you will not be disappointed. Furthermore on presentation of a printout of this article before the end of November 2012 you can get 10% discount on the a la carte menu at the Ironmonger Lane venue. Many thousands of visitors to the website every month have already discovered Harry’s Bar, now it’s your turn.
Zoom Answer Call is celebrating its first successful decade in business, over eight years as a client of Toucan Internet.
In 2002 Chella Hayes, CEO of Zoom decided to rebrand the company’s logo, website and stationery and chose Toucan Internet to assist in this project. The resulting distinctive branding is still in use today, epitomising the quality of business call handling from Zoom.
Chella says “Good internet communications are essential to our entire operation and in this respect Toucan Internet has excelled, repeatedly surpassing expectations. We value Toucan’s personal and rapid response to issues as they arise. They routinely debug email problems, invariably such problems being caused by third party or client’s networks, which nonetheless prevent Zoom providing its clients with the first class service they expect”
We wish Zoom Answer Call a successful second decade.
Shona is Toucan Internet’s lead database developer and has decided (or been roped into) running the Edinburgh Marathon this year on 31st May to help raise money for the extremely worthwhile charity of Macmillan Cancer Support.
Shona says “Macmillan Cancer Support have done an unsurpassable job of helping some close family and friends who have been touched by cancer over the last couple of years. The Macmillan charity does a fantastic job helping thousands of cancer sufferers and their families every day by providing practical, medical, emotional and financial support when it’s needed most. ”
So if any of you fancy sponsoring Shona to help spur her on then please do, “I need all the help I can get!” she says.
The link to sponsor Shona online is below and any pennies you can spare is much appreciated:
When Moira Hampton JP of Absentia was looking to enhance the business’ website she asked their local IT support company Systematic Business Solutions. Systematic use Toucan Internet LLP for all their website related projects and were swift to recommend Toucan again for Absentia’s website.
Once engaged on the project, Toucan Internet started the website creative design, optimisation and site development to Moira’s brief. As Absentia’s services are geared to providing House and Pet sitting services to clients in the UK and aboard, the site had to emphasise the diligence and honesty of the sitters that their clients expect when putting their pets and property in the care of ‘strangers’. As Moira Hampton, Managing Director of Absentia says “Our aim is for our sitters to be people you can trust, people who you would like to sit for you again in the future. Our sitters are selected for their integrity, competence and reliability.”
Given this background the site had to project this level of professionalism and be of interest to this diverse but select audience whilst maintaining the clear branding that was already in place.
This was achieved and “we are delighted with the finished website and the random selection of quotes and images on every page makes for an interesting visit every time. Well done Toucan”.