The Big Session

- By Naomi Booth

It was great to be part of The Big Session - The Sixpenny Sessions team is thrilled with the response which surpassed our expectations on every level.

Lupinis on stage with banners from Auraprint

There was a lot of preparation, my job mainly consisted coming up with the logo and poster to fit the new summer festival. Then there were signs and banners. Thankfully we had our Sixpenny Sessions banners from Auraprint which we could Big up by adding the poster but we felt although they would dress the stage well on the day (above)  we also needed to get out to more festival goesr so we used Auraprint again to print some unusual 1m square banners to catch the passers by eye...

1m square banners from AuraprintThe banners worked! Throughout the day people of all ages flocked to the village to enjoy live music from a broad selection of local musicians, plus children's workshops and delicious food all in the glorious setting of the village's cricket pitch. The sun shone and the Sixpenny Brewery ale flowed and all in all everyone agreed that it was a perfect little summer festival with a wonderful atmosphere. The line-up of music included Sixpenny Sessions favourites Big Joe Bone, TheLongTale, Mother Ukers, The Lupinis, Tom Clements, Break Cover, The Collaborators and headline act, The Hightown Crows. Plus there was a sneak preview of Larmer Tree Festival 2015 Breakthrough Music Award Act - The Villanovas.

Music workshops for children were held in the village hall and the hugely popular 'Baby Rave' for toddlers went down a storm with the under 3's. Outdoor activities included woodland crafts and a 'make a musical instrument' session, the products of which were later on display when some of the children were invited to "accompany" the fabulous Mother Ukers on stage with their newly produced ukuleles – a heartwarming spectacle.

Currently the total proceeds from the day stand at a staggering £4376.68, the Scouts have already purchased the defibrillator for the village and a healthy £3446.68 has gone into the Sixpenny Handley with Pentridge Community Fund. Well done everyone!! The Community fund offers small financial donations for local groups, organisations & small scale projects. If you would like to be put forward for consideration for Community Fund support please apply at: sixpennyhandley@dorset-aptc.gov.uk or Parish Office 01725 552211

Designing for Print

- By Naomi Booth

Conygar Coppice FlyersSometimes it seems I go months without doing any printwork and this month I seem to be doing little else. It is great producing something that people will physically use to promote their business or event.

My run of print work started with Anthony Brown's request for flyers to promote his business Conygar Coppice at the River Cottage Spring. He builds roundhouses, runs roundhouse building workshops and does lots of other woodland crafts and teaching.

The request for flyers soon turned into 2 flyers, and then two flyers and a banner for his stall and 'livery' for his trusty Landrover.

He asked me to find a printer with a quick turnaround and good quality printing... so I used Auraprint. Jenny from Yummy Jam has printed my recent work for her using them and had been very impressed with their customer care and prompt delivery.

Conygar Coppice Stickers

Conygar Coppice @ River CottageAuraprint's website was easy to use and the order came through very promptly. We did need to reorder the flyers and the team at the end of the phone were fab, especially as we were now getting very close to the show... so they made sure my order which wasn't placed until 11:45 on Tuesday was through the printers and in the post and on my doorstep the following morning... This fabulous and professional service meant Anthony could go and look fabulous and professional in his turn at the River Cottage Spring Food Festival (and I could go on holiday with the peace of mind that evenrything was sorted!)

Happy Spring Everyone!

 

Google Search Changes – What happened?

- By Chris Booth

Google Search Changes – What happened?

You may not have noticed but a lot of fuss has been made about recent changes to Google's search engine.  In practice those changes do not seem to be as significant as the hype suggested or as serious as people may have feared.  However the fact is that many older websites are not doing so well with Google as they used to.

If your website doesn't resize itself to fit mobile phones then it may have moved down Google's search results by one or more places.

What did Google do?

Google now keep 2 indexes - one for desktop computers and laptops and another for mobile phones and tablets.

  • When someone searches using a computer the results will be as they always have been.
  • When someone searches on a phone or tablet they get the new index that favours sites that work best on phones.

That is - Google now deliver different search results to different devices.  Phones get different results to computers.

Does this affect me?

If your site is already "mobile friendly" then any affect from this change is likely to be positive.  Your site can only benefit from this change.  Otherwise ask yourself these two questions

  • Are my customers finding me using phones?
  • Do my competitors have sites that work on mobile phones?

If either of your answers is "yes" then you should consider updating your site.  If both your answers are yes then you should probably take the site upgrade for granted and consider when you can get you site reworked.

To answer the question "How does this affect me?" in a more concrete way - try similar searches using a desktop computer and a phone and see where you come in each search.  You can also use a Google tool to check if your site is mobile friendly or not.

What is the affect now?

If you try similar searches on desktops and phones you will find that, on the whole, the differences are small.  Sites are only moving by a couple of positions.

Crystal ball time – where does this lead?

I think that while current changes are small, the future is mobile.  I think we probably have plenty of time to get ready for it.

The writing is on the wall for Microsoft's dream of computers in every home.  The fact is that most people don't need a computer now and probably never did.  I think that, if anything, Google is actually late in making this change and is being a bit conservative here.  For me, that is borne out by the relatively small drop most sites are suffering.

I see four things happening here...

  • The changes aren't finished yet.  Google has a new search but is still tuning it.  If the newly promoted sites appear to serve visitors as well as the demoted ones did then the changes will stick.  Otherwise they will be reversed.  Google will be watching how each and every site fares and they will sink or swim on their own merits.
  • The effect of this change will become more pronounced.  If visitors seem to like the changes I think Google will stop being so conservative.  At this point non-mobile sites will really suffer.
  • This will affect desktop search.  Google are always looking for a way to separate "good sites" from "bad sites" they will use any criteria they can do deliver better search results.   If Google find a way to use their "mobile friendly" data to see who is trying the hardest then I think they will.
  • I think that Google will take their time.  They don't have much competition.  They can afford to move slowly and carefully.

What should I do now?

Check your site - is it mobile friendly?

Search for your site using first a computer and then a phone – is it suffering?

If you are worried contact The Web Booth for advice.

New .uk domain names

- By Chris Booth

You may have heard that Nominet have started to sell .uk domain names like this - thewebbooth.uk in addition to the .co.uk domains they already manage like this - thewebbooth.co.uk. I should like to offer the following good advice

You don't need to do anything until 2019.

What is going on with the new uk domain names?

Nominet, the company which runs the .uk domain space, is selling second level domain names. Currently if you own a .co.uk then the equivalent .uk is reserved for you until 10 June 2019.

Nominet have been emailing domain registrants about this and many Internet companies are pushing the new domain names. If you have heard anything, don't worry. If you already hold the .co.uk then you don't need to do anything until 10 June 2019.

What to do about new uk domain names

If you are planning to buy a brand-new .co.uk domain then you will need to buy .uk equivilant too (if you want it). If you allow your .co.uk to lapse then the .uk will also be freed up for anyone to buy. Otherwise, as I said the .uk is reserved for you for 5 years.

Are the new uk domain names better?

The new domains are 3 characters shorter. Really that is all that can be said about them. In-fact Nominet's advertising says "Shorter is sweeter" and leaves it at that. A rather more concrete fact is that Google gives a large weighting to older domains. Switching your old .co.uk domain over to a newly registered .uk would be catastrophic mistake.

What will happen after 10 June 2019?

Obviously I don't know - but my guess is that some unsavoury gangster type will register all the free .uk domain names and then try and contact the .co.uk domain owners trying to extract money. Even before then I expect Nominet's advertising to become increasingly like a protection racket - "Nice domain name, pity if something happened to it."

Whether or not this is something that will bother you is your decision and the only real reason to register the .uk domain names.

Being able to get a suitable domain name is a significant barrier for new companies and Nominet has often claimed that the .uk names will help with this. I believe that between existing .co.uk owners and scam artists there is going to be precious little left for new businesses.

I expect the domains won't matter to much in the long run. With the massive number of new domains being launched by the American registrar ICANN I believe that it just isn't going to be possible to buy up every permutation of your company's name and many people might not want a .uk when they could get one of these http://www.newtldlist.com/ anyway.

The trend I see is that more and more people get to thewebbooth.co.uk by typing "The Web Booth" or even "thewebbooth.co.uk" into Google so they aren't using our domain name even when they know what we are called. My guess is that, in the long run, the value of having a really good domain name is going to diminish over time.

Scouting for girls

- By Chris Booth

A while ago I stumbled on Nibbler from Silktide.  It is one of those wonderful things that is both completely pointless and also quite helpful; a complete waste of time and far too compelling; wildly inaccurate and yet a good indicator.  It is a total and utter toy that is also both useful and practical.  Allow me to explain…

Nibbler is a website analysing tool.  It runs a wide range of tests on the first five pages it finds on your website.  These tests tend to be a rather eclectic mix.  If you ask me there is a pronounced bias towards social media and HTML5.  The mix of tests has changed several times since I have been using it.  Some of the tests I liked have being dropped in favour of new ones.  For example - Nibbler used tell you how often you published blog posts.

BadgesNibbler then gives each site a score out of 10.  If you prove ownership of a site you can combine your scores to gain points for yourself.  While Nibbler seems far too easy to game I think the end result is a pretty good indicator of the sort of care you are putting into your websites.  The points are gained via badges; there is a badge for making an html compliant site, another for building a site in Wordpress, another for using CloudFlare.  All these badges make Nibbler look like a boy-scout’s shirt sleeve.  Web developers – we promise to do our best!

It’s not all roses and not just because it is so easy to waste time on Nibbler.  From the sort of speed it runs at I think maybe Nibbler is hosted on a Raspberry PI.  Silktide aren’t doing this for the good of their health – yes they want you to buy their products.  Oh, some of the other sites on there are well, you know, a bit morally corrupt.  Hmmmm – it’s slow, there are adverts some of it’s a bit dodgy – yep, that’s the Internet!

Nibbler best UK webdesignersWhat gets me is this – why aren’t there more women developing websites?  I mean look at that motley collection of logos and mug shots on the UK’s top developers.  Yours truly is skulking around at position 10 – there we are and there is our logo as rendered in fuzzy-felt.  How many of the other logos were designed by women.  I’d say “none.”

I know there are skilled women web developers.  I know there are thousands of women making websites but when I surf I just don’t see that many sites that are clearly made by women.  Here at Web Booth Towers we have a little game – visit websites at random, for each site - guess the sex of the web designer, try it.

I spend a lot of time getting my code right and I believe it is important but at the end of the day it is Naomi’s designs that sell.  The look and feel of the sites we create is what our customers buy.  Our ability to put our customer’s message, their personality, their vision and dedication into living pixels – this is what sells.  Those sites then go on to work their little, digital socks off for our customers – selling to their customers.  It comes down to this: Naomi’s designs appeal to all sorts of people but mostly they appeal to other women.

We think we know who our Type ‘A’ customers are.  We think we know what they want.  We certainly know what they don’t want because they tell us, over and over again. 

  • Web developers turning up in suits.
  • Web developers not being flexible with appointments.
  • Web developers being bossy and know-it-all.
  • Web developers talking jargon.
  • Web developers failing to listen.
  • Web developers delivering the site they want to make not the site the customer wants.

Boy ScoutsNow it’s hard enough making money building websites and it’s not like we want any more competition but for goodness sakes guys 50% of the world’s population is women and it’s not like their aren’t loads of them running businesses, making decisions and holding budgets.  What the hell are you doing?

Before you send off for a jumbo-size-multi-pack of pink pixels I should like to draw your attention to the background image of this very page.  It is a great background.  We love it. Our customers love it.  In the history of the Internet I doubt any other GIF has ever shifted more websites, ever.  We didn’t know it at the time but drawing that background was probably the best business decision we’ve ever made.

These days they let girls join boy-scouts, you know that, right?