Graphic Design Services: Do You Need It?

graphic design services nz

Graphic design touches every part of our lives—from billboards, we see on the way to work, to the apps we use every day. As a business owner, you might wonder why you should hire a graphic designer when Jenny in accounts is pretty good on Microsoft Word? Graphic design software has improved a lot over the years, but the core of good graphic design always comes back to creativity and experience. 

A company that specialises in web and graphic design services will bring a level of professionalism to your company website that would be hard to achieve in-house. Just as you’d hire an electrician to install new lighting in your office, a graphic design agency will provide fast and appropriate design solutions for your business. 

Some small business owners opt for online design sites like Fiverr or Upwork to get their logo and graphic design services work done. While this might suit a simple, one-off project, there are risks to this approach:

  1. The original designer may no longer be available when you need to revisit the design.
  2. The design work is carried out by individuals working off-shore, who may not be familiar with the nuances of your business and it’s culture.
  3. The low fee/high turnover approach of these design sites promotes expediency over creativity.

Your company needs to present a unified look to the world—your website, social media, print media, advertising, and branding all need to communicate a consistent message. Just like the physical assets in your business, your company’s visual assets need to be effective, fit for purpose and well maintained. A graphic design service can help you identify and formalise these assets, right down to the font used in your byline.

When you first meet with a web/graphic design company, their goal will be to learn as much as they can about your business. For many business owners, this process can be quite enlightening, as you reflect on the nature of the work you do, your customers, even your competitors. As an independent consultant, the designer you meet with can offer insight into your business that might not be obvious to you. The web design process can often uncover inefficiencies in the company structure that only become obvious when developing or updating the company’s website.

So the answer is yes, you do need a professional graphic design service—but how do you choose one? Design plays a part in every part of your business: logo, website, print media, smartphone app, so it pays to choose a company with capabilities in all those areas. Using separate design services means more workload for you, and it increases the possibility of errors through miscommunication or mis-matched deadlines.

Activate Design is a Christchurch based design house offering a full suite of design services, including websites, logos, apps, videos, and print. Alongside these design services, Activate Design provide essential services like web hosting, SEO, content writing, email marketing, and tech support.

If you’d like to know more, check out our work or request a quote.

 

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Posted in Graphic Design

Pump Up Your Sales with These Sure-Fire Internet Marketing Strategies

 

The best digital marketing strategies are those that are simple to implement and boost your sales. In this article, we’ll take a look at some proven internet marketing tactics and marketing tips for small business.

Online marketing can be divided up into five main categories:

  • Content Marketing
  • SEO
  • Web Design
  • Social Media
  • Advertising
  • Content Marketing

The internet lives on content, whether its blogs, videos, or social media posts. Content marketing is not hard-sell like advertising. Instead, it aims to inform and educate new and existing customers about your products, services and your company. You want customers that are seeking information to view your site as an authoritative source of that information. One way to do this is by guest appearances—be it a guest blog, video or an audio podcast. This not only extends your reach to new audiences and builds your credibility, but you’ll also get a valuable ‘back-link’ to your website.


SEO

All that lovely content needs to find an audience, and that is where SEO (search engine optimisation) comes in. Using keywords, title tags, backlinks and other SEO techniques, you can raise your profile in search engine results and connect with your target market. For small businesses with mostly local customers, optimising your site for mobile and local search is probably the most effective strategy available.

Web Design

In terms of internet marketing, a well-designed website is one that enables users to quickly find what they need and encourages them to act with subtle visual cues. You need to design your site as an internet marketing platform from the get-go. Too many websites get caught up with ‘showing off’ the company when they should be attending to the needs of their customers.

Social Media

Social media is an excellent outlet for running promotional campaigns, competitions and announcements. It’s also a fast way to get direct interaction with your customer base and gather valuable feedback. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram thrive on live content, so the focus should be on special events such as a new product release. You need to identify the platform most favoured by your target customers—for young, tech-savvy individuals it might be TikTok or Snapchat.

Advertising

Any digital marketing plan needs to include advertising, including some traditional print media advertising if appropriate. Before you spend any money on advertising, you need to establish your target audience and then identify the most suitable medium to reach them. Digital advertising has become something of a science, with the ability to target specific demographics. Pay per click advertising such as Google AdWords can be very effective, but they require some expertise to ensure clicks actually lead to sales.

If you’d like to discuss internet marketing strategies for your website, contact the team at Activate Design.

 

 

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Posted in Marketing

11 Amazing Facts About Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization amazing facts

There are many techniques available to improve your website traffic, but the granddaddy of them all is still SEO or search engine optimisation. SEO needs to front and centre in any search engine marketing strategy, as search is still the primary means by which users find and navigate to websites.

Here are eleven digital marketing facts that might surprise you:

1. Off-page vs on-page SEO

Website optimisations like keywords, title and meta-tags are known as on-page SEO. Off-page SEO are techniques that help improve the authority and popularity of your site. While on-page SEO is essential for any website hoping to increase traffic, it’s the Off-page SEO that largely determines your ranking in search results.

2. Page titles still important

The page title description is still a very potent SEO tool, but this doesn’t mean you should stuff the title tag with a list of keywords. Google recommends you choose a title that reads naturally and effectively communicates the topic of the page’s content.

3. Long tail keywords

Fifty percent of search queries are longer than four words. Think about your audience and how they might pose a search query. Remember, most people use ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘where’ in their query, so build that into your keyword content.

4. Quality content

Talking about content, it shouldn’t be surprising that quality content does rank better and serves your audience or customer’s needs. Users are becoming savvy to marketing that’s dressed up as content, so do your clients a favour and provide genuinely useful information.

5. Update and republish

Producing quality content doesn’t mean you can’t revisit older material. Often content can get buried as you add new material to your site. If the information is still relevant, updating and republishing is a great way to reconnect with your users and provide new information for indexing by search engines.

6. Object detection in images

Google algorithms can now detect objects and shapes within images. This AI-driven technology is still being refined, but the goal is to deliver more accurate SERP’s to users, with less false positives. So having appropriate and visually distinct imagery on your site will become increasingly important to SEO. Alt-text descriptions are still very necessary though, and like page titles, should contain descriptive text—no keyword stuffing.

7. Host your videos on YouTube

Google owns YouTube, so it makes good sense to host your website videos on YouTube and embed them on your site. YouTube hosting ensures your video appears in YouTube search results as well as Google SERPs.

8. Page speed affects mobile ranking

Page speed has been a ranking factor since 2010, but last year, Google introduced the ‘Speed Update’ algorithm, which means very slow-loading mobile sites could be negatively affected. Google provides this handy online tool to analyse your site’s speed.

9. HTTPS sites may rank higher

The Chrome browser, which has a 45% market share, now shows a warning icon when a site is not secure. It does appear that page one search results are beginning to prioritise HTTPS sites, so long term it’s a good strategy to switch to HTTPS/SSL for SEO and of course, security.

10. Most users ignore paid ads

Seventy to eighty percent of users don’t click on paid ads in search results, preferring to go with organic search results. While this might not be good news for advertisers, it demonstrates the ongoing need to focus on good, SEO optimised content.

11. Almost half of all Google searches are local

Whether your company is big or small, you need to optimise your site for local search. Make sure you list your business on Google My Business and other local directories. A mobile-friendly site is essential, particularly for retail, where 1 in 3 mobile searches are followed by an immediate store visit.

If you need help or advice with search engine optimisation for your website or mobile app, contact the team at Activate.

 

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The 7 Hottest Mobile Website Trends for 2019

7 Hottest Mobile Trends in 2019

There’s no need to explain how important it is to have a mobile-friendly website these days—it’s a given that most people will be browsing on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, particularly in the consumer space.


Creating responsive design websites that conform to the latest mobile technology trends becomes even more essential when you consider that Google indexing gives priority to mobile sites. If you or your client doesn’t have a mobile responsive website, you’re undoubtedly missing out on valuable traffic.
To help you keep on top of mobile technology trends, we’ve gathered together seven of the hottest mobile website trends for 2019:


1. Progressive Web Apps


Progressive web apps (or PWA’s) have been around for a while, but there is renewed interest in them as mobile browsers become more capable. There is still some confusion as to what constitutes a PWA, but in general, they are mobile web pages that act like apps, including the ability to function offline. For small companies, they offer a lower cost of entry into the world of apps that can be offered directly to their customers, without the need for app store involvement.


2. Load Speed

Optimising page load times is going to be a big focus in 2019, as mobile e-commerce continues to grow, and users demand a snappy UI with fast response times. Good code will undoubtedly improve page load times, and the quality and speed of your server can be a real pinch point. Google recommends webmaster minimise or eliminate redirects on your site. This site provides a handy tool that maps the number of redirects on your site.


3. Mobile payments


As mobile payment platforms like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and even Facebook Messenger become more broadly supported by banks and retailers, it creates more trust in the notion of mobile payments. Mobile website developers need to capitalise on this trend by ensuring their sites offer frictionless payment options for users.


4. Touch ID


The growth of mobile payments is further boosted by support for Touch ID technology. Built into virtually all recent smartphones, Touch ID offers peace of mind. By integrating this fingerprint security into your mobile website or web app, you demonstrate to your customers that their security is important to you.


5. Short-form content


Long-form content has long been accepted as a good way to improve SEO and increase traffic. However, research is showing that short form, video-centric content is better suited to mobile sites and is expected to grow in popularity this year. Animations, short quizzes and other interactive content are more likely to hold audience attention than blog posts or long-form articles.


6. Gestures


Another way to make your mobile site more ‘app like’ is by adding support for gestures. Swiping, pinching and zooming are all familiar interactions on a mobile device, and it makes sense to use the same OS gestures on your mobile site or web app.


7. Functional Animations


Functional animations are simple motion elements that are built into your UI. They help guide users by, for example, changing a button shape when a user taps on it. Used well, they can bring your site to life and encourage the people to explore the site. Like gestures, they give visitors to your mobile site a more interactive, app-like experience. The best functional animations are those that serve a genuine purpose and integrate well into the site design.

Does your site need some mobile optimisation? Talk to the team at Activate Design for more tips and advice.

 

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10 Simple Website Mistakes to Avoid

Before Content Management Systems (CMS) became common place, website owners usually had to turn to their website developer to change any content. There was a frustrating time delay relying on someone else – and the ongoing costs, of course. However, one upside was that the changes would be done in a clean and tidy manner by the web developer. Today, most sites use a CMS and the owner can log in and make changes themselves. But this is not without a downside in that things can end up a bit of a mess.
 
So here are some common mistakes and how to avoid them.

a poor quality image

1. Uploading poor quality images.
Probably the most common way to ruin the look of a website is the uploading of poor quality images. Today, people web browse on devices with large, high resolution, retina displays and you just don’t get away with crappy images anymore. A new website usually starts with sharp, high-quality imagery carefully chosen by the designer. This just gives the site a professional, polished appearance. But over time, these quality images are often swapped out for low-quality, blurry images. Or even worse, images that are tall and narrow when the display area is wide and short.
Don’t be that person. Carefully select images that will suit the space they are being uploaded to. Make sure they are of decent quality. And remember, a large image can be made smaller and look great – a small image cannot be made larger without looking bad. Learning some basic image editing techniques such as cropping and resizing can be very useful.



website cms admin panel

2. Not checking your changes.
Another very simple mistake is simply not refreshing your browser while on your website to check how your changes actually look. Often it is because the website owner is in a hurry to add/change something; they log in to their CMS to change a few things but forget to check how the changes look. A good work practice is to have two browser windows open, one for your CMS admin panel, the other with your front-end site. Make changes incrementally – refreshing the browser and checking each time. Sometimes an image needs to be cropped slightly differently, or a line break added to some text – it may seem minor but it all adds up to a polished looking site… or an amateur looking mess.




news blog
3. Having a news / blog but never using it.
This one might seem a little strange but it’s not unusual to come across a website that has an exciting ‘Latest News’ section but the only post in there is the first one that says ‘Welcome to our new website.’ – despite being several years old. After the initial enthusiasm of a new site wears off, the owner is faced with the reality of taking time to create blog posts for their news section, and they never get around to it. Fresh, updated content is a great way to bring people back to your site, grow content and increase rankings.  A blog/news section is the best way of doing this - but you need to be sure you are actually going to use it, or it just looks amateur and off-putting to visitors who are looking to engage with your business.

 

 

 

instant chat box 
4. Having a ‘instant-chat’ feature – but never using it.
Have you visited a site and a little box appears on the side saying ‘Is there anything we can help with?’ – It is fantastic way to chat with someone from your business instantly. But it is infuriating when there is nobody actually there. If you frequent a website and notice that the chat-panel is always ‘unavailable’ it is unwelcoming. But much worse is when the panel pops up and prompts a chat – but there is nobody actually at the other end. It is almost like answering the phone to a customer and not speaking. If you aren’t going to use the instant-chat function do not have one.  

 

 

line breaks cms
5. Not understanding how to do a paragraph or a line break. 
Content Management Systems automatically add in paragraph breaks when you press enter. To just enter a line break without the extra spacing; press shift + enter. Sometimes people don’t know this and end up wondering why their text has huge double spacing and looks ridiculous.

 

 

 


6. Breaking styles.
Your website designer would have set a range of styles to keep things looking clean, consistent and professional. Such as the size and font of your headings, sub-headings, body text, links etc. However, it is possible to break from this and do something completely different. Sometimes people want to put in some text or a link and make it ‘stand-out.’  But nothing ruins the look of a site more than all kinds of odd looking headings, type and links in garish, clashing colors with various fonts, sizes and weights. It is a slippery slope towards making your site look like it was made in 1998. 

 

 

7. Poor content placement. 
You might have a small area on your site for a bit of introductory text. Perhaps a few paragraphs. The mistake is to dump a huge story of text into this area at some point. The text blows the formatting of the site, as these introduction areas are generally never intended to have that many words. Think carefully about the amount of type you are putting in and where is it going. If you have too much, you should add in a ‘read-more’ link to expand the text if the user wishes to read it. Likewise, dumping images into a content area of the site in a way that was never intended, is slowly going to mess everything up. If you add in images in this way, it is a good idea to just ask your web developer to make it all look tidy again after you are done.

 

 

 

social media icons
8. Social media links that go nowhere.
Sometimes web designers will add in common social media links to a site during the mock up phase, just as example placement. The website owner might intend on using social media but never actually gets around to it. So the site gets developed and the icons are there, but are never linked to anything. Years later people are still clicking on the facebook logo to find it doesn’t go anywhere. Embarrassing.

 

 

 


9. Inconsistent staff profile pictures.
Your site should have started out with a consistent approach to staff profile photos. Your website designer should have adjusted them to be a uniform size and profile. Perhaps with the background removed or a specific type of image adjustment. But over time staff changes require new photos. Someone in the business adds the new staff with poorly taken photos from a cellphone or pulled down from a social media account. They’re uploaded with completely different widths, lengths, backgrounds and colours. Some are blurry and pixelated others are poorly cropped. If you are not sure, just ask your web company to do it for you. They will be able to do it very quickly and efficiently and keep it looking great. A professional company has professional looking staff profiles.

 

 

 


10. Too many pages for your navigation area.
When your site was developed, lets say it was designed with 5 pages in mind; Home, about, services, gallery, contact.  Of course there is ample space to add in some more, and over time this expands to be; home, about, services, specials, information, staff, gallery, testimonials, faqs, blog, contact. But now these have pushed well beyond the available navigation space and it looks terrible. If you get to this point, simply ask your web company to add in a drop-down sub-navigation panel or tweak your navigation design so that it fits nicely. This mistake often is a result of #2 where new pages have been added – yet nobody actually checked that they still fit into the navigation area.

 

 

 

 

Having trouble sending emails to Xtra?

Yahoo Xtra Mail

Issues sending emails to recipients with Xtra email addresses is not unusual but it is terribly frustrating.  
 
There have been wide spread problems with Sparks Xtra/Yahoo email services dating back as far as 2008, with a resurgence in 2018.

Issues with Spark email Xtra hitting Kiwi businesses – 13th Sept 2018
 
Essentially Xtra have implemented ‘security measures’ in an attempt to reduce spam. But have been over-zealous in their approach so that legitimate mail is also blocked.
 
Rigorous testing by the the IT community has discovered that it is not just emails that may appear suspicious. Such as those from blacklisted accounts or untrusted servers, or those without a subject line, or those with attachments. No, it is actually almost ANYTHING, especially those containing financially related themes.
 
Even more unfortunate is that Xtra stubbornly believe that what they are doing is best practice. So although the problem lies with them - they are unlikely to fix it.
 
Technically the problem isn’t yours, but the reality of the problem is.

So what can you do if you have a whole bunch of customers using Xtra who are just not receiving your emails? Not a lot unfortunately.
 
Ideally your recipients ought to be the ones who contact Xtra to complain that they are not receiving legitimate emails and demand a resolution or change to a different provider. Unfortunately, most of them are not going to do this as they do not actually KNOW they are not getting emails.
 

•••

Imagine you are sending a traditional letter to a friend. You put it into an approved Dimension Lengthwise Envelope with a government issued postage stamp. You deliver it to an official post shop. Your letter is delivered by the official post man. BUT your friend actually hires someone to collect their mail each day. He throws out any pizza flyers and put the important looking stuff on the kitchen bench. But all YOUR letters have been going in the rubbish with the junk. What’s more, he doesn’t tell your friend he threw anything out.
Your friend should probably fire this guy!


 •••

The problem really lies with Xtra (Spark) to ensure delivery. What makes things worse is that there doesn’t appear to be a department responsible to help with external senders. Most online reports show a frustrating lack of success from any Spark customer service team regarding this. Mostly they say that you need to get your recipient to ‘whitelist your email address.’

But this is a poor solution really. Firstly, contacting your customers individually to try and get them to whitelist your email would be a maddening exercise. Many will not even know what this means or how to do it. Secondly, there have been tests done, where the email address HAS been whitelisted in Xtra – and yet the emails STILL do not get through.
 
We always recommend that Xtra users move to a different provider.
 
“I have also learnt that Xtra fervently believe this is all designed to make the internet a safer place. On that I can agree. If you cant send email and you cant receive email and you spend your time on the telephone to Xtra and the rest of your time filling out meaningless forms then the internet is indeed a safer place. You are after all not using it - therefore it is a safer place. Well done Xtra - you have succeeded in that goal.” – GeekZone, 2008
 
Incidentally – our own email servers (ActiveHost) do not currently appear to experience trouble sending to Xtra accounts. Whist anything could happen with Xtra in the future, we currently don’t have any email customers reporting problems associated with this.

When to add Limited or LTD to a logo?

The short answer is.. never. 

Why do some businesses have LTD or LIMITED as part of their logos, mainly the construction and trades industry? As a logo designer it is often unfortunate to be asked to retrofit this into a design - it always looks tacked on like an afterthought. I have been designing logos for more than 15 years and find that it's only ever the construction and trades industry that insist on this.

I always ask for the reason why they need to add the legal designation on their logo, and usually receive one of these 3 answers:

  1. I want people to know that we're a real company.
  2. Our lawyer said we have to.
  3. Everyone else does it.

Now, there is some basis for each of those reasons.

1. I want people to know that we're a real company. LTD is an abbreviation of Limited and all that means is that you are a Limited Liability Company. There are 3 types of companies in New Zealand; Limited, Co-Operative and Unlimited. Limited means that the shareholders are personally limited in their exposure to the companies financial obligations. This is by far the most common form of company. Co-operative companies exist for mutual support of all members and have different obligations in regards to their profits. For example; taxi businesses, dairy companies, Māori community services etc. Unlimited liability companies are rare - their shareholders personally have ultimate liability to all financial obligations of the company. This form exists to meet particular, usually foreign legal requirements. 

So in a sense, yes, displaying LTD or Limited does show that you are a 'real company.' But is it necessary to actually be on your logo? On your vehicle? On your building sign? The vast majority of businesses in NZ are limited, but you do not see LTD on every logo. Even within the construction industry itself; Hawkins, Fletcher, Naylor Love - none of them have LTD or Limited on their logos, but each will undoubtedly be a limited liability company. Why do the smaller players feel obliged to display this legal information so prominently? 

2. Our lawyer said we have to. From a legal perspective, you should have your full company name included on all financial and legal documentation such as invoices, contracts, tax returns and legal records. This is usually written above contact details, address and so on. However this is irrespective of the logo.

Historically, small start-up businesses would incorporate a company name - and then simply write it out in full. They wouldn't have a logo design - logos were just for big boys like Ford and Coca-Cola. Therefore, their full company name was it. 'Taylor & Sons LTD' written the same on everything from their shop sign to their invoices.

Logo sign with LTD

Now, lawyers are not particularly renowned when it comes to creative logos, branding and identities. Most of them continue the tradition of simply writing out their full company name. As an industry, lawyers, accountants and doctors have been a bit slow to come around to branding and identifying themselves creatively. So it comes as no surprise that advice from a lawyer in regards to a company logo is that it should be the full company name. 

lawyers logo

Yet you only need to look around at what some of the big players are doing. You won't see LTD, LLC, INC, PTY or any other legal descriptor abbreviation tacked alongside the Apple, Google or Twitter logos... in fact, they don't even use words at all anymore!


3. Everyone else does it. Again, there is basis for this as you do not have to look far to see a trades or building company with LTD or Limited on their logos and on their utes. Whilst most other industries have long since moved on from this. You are unlikely to see LTD added to logos for: florists, beauty clinics, clothing stores, cafes, restaurants or IT firms. 
For the trades and construction industry - the idea really only continues to exist due to the 2 points we have covered. In addition, a small start-up building company will see another small start-up building company and simply follow suit. As their business expands and professional marketing and design people become involved - their logo is soon separated from the full company name and these legal descriptor abbreviations are quickly dropped. 

construction logos

Summary. If you're starting out in business and incorporating a company. Yes, you should have your full company name on all official and financial documents. Your full company name will include the legal descriptor so that your position on liability is disclosed. Seeing this on an invoice does show that you are a real company. However, your logo has nothing to do with any of this. Take a look at any of the big national brands, none of them will include LTD in their logos. A Logo is a graphic to represent your company - it is not your legal company name. Your logo is a separate entity which can use your shortened name, your trading-as name, or maybe just a symbol - no name at all!

Think about your own personal name. If your name was Nicholas Charles-Lewis Desmond VIII then yes you would have to write this for all legal documents. But you do not have to write it all out in full every time you sign your name. So if you want to avoid this old-fashioned ticky-tacky look, leave your legal designation off your logo design. 

Posted in Branding, logo branding

Top 5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Consider Mobile Apps

small business mobile app development nz

If you’re a small business owner, chances are you benefit from technology more than larger enterprises. You probably use online accounting apps like Xero to manage your invoicing and accounts, social media platforms to market and promote your business and cloud services like Dropbox for file transfers and storage.

Mobility will be important to you—with smartphones and laptops, you can operate your business anywhere, anytime. So doesn’t it make sense to provide your customers with this same convenience through your very own small business mobile app?

Here are the five solid reasons why mobile app development should be on your ‘to -do’ list in 2018:

1. You’re in Control

When promoting your business on social media, you have less control over what your potential clients will see. Sure they might see your targeted ad on social media—right next to your competitor’s ad. A mobile app allows you to market directly without the ‘noise’ and distractions.

2. App Usage is Increasing

There’s no argument—desktop is out and mobile is in. This means your traditional website is less likely to be the first ‘port of call’ for your potential clients. A recent study by Research firm comScore showed that millennials spend 90 hours a month on mobile apps.

3. A Complete Solution

A mobile app covers all aspects of the business transaction: marketing & promotion through in-app notifications, product and contact information, point-of-sale and customer loyalty (e.g. a points scheme or QR code scan). Best of all, a well-performing app will remain on your customer’s device long after the sale, encouraging repeat business.

4. Your Best Employee

Imagine having a staff member who continually brings in new business, works 24 hours a day, always provides accurate information and actively encourages the sale? A mobile app could be your new best ‘employee’. For many small businesses, taking on extra staff can be a huge gamble, but a mobile app can provide a similar ROI with less risk and more potential for growth.

5. It’s Easier Now.

Mobile app development is a mature industry now and coding tools like HTML5 and Javascript make it highly accessible. New API’s make it easier than ever to build sophisticated features into mobile apps, such as Geo-targeting, which enables you to send special offers to clients based on location.

A mobile app for your small business also demonstrates a commitment to providing your clients with a better sales experience and after-sales service. You need to be where your customers ‘are’ and today that undoubtedly means mobile. Once you’ve made the decision to develop a mobile app (good for you!), the next step is to partner with established professionals in the mobile app development space.

Activate Design are leaders in small business app development, with proven results for our clients. Our specialist team includes graphic designers, creative thinkers, and senior software developers, and we've developed dozens of commercially successful applications around the world. Find out more about Activate Design’s app development service here.

 

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2018 Best Practices for IOS App Development

ios app developmet nz

Last month we looked at best practices for Android app development. Do the same rules apply to develop iOS apps in 2018?

IOS 11 has brought some significant new features to the platform, including Apple Pay, which allows you to make and receive payments in selected apps.

For users this means frictionless e-commerce transactions on their iPhone or iPad; for iOS app developers, it’s a rich opportunity to monetise their apps and create true e-commerce solutions in the mobile space.

So if you work in iOS app development, what can you do to ensure your users get a ‘best in class’ app experience?

Bring The New

One of iOS 11’s compelling new features is augmented reality (AR) and users will increasingly be looking for apps that use AR in new and novel ways. The Pokemon craze may have cooled off but there are great opportunities to apply AR to vertical markets. A good local example is Augview, who use the technology to visualise underground services.

Machine Learning

Less talked about but equally exciting, is the ability to add machine learning to your app via Apple’s Core ML. This is the feature that makes facial recognition work so well on the new iPhones and will have huge implications for app development, adding the ability to quickly recognise every-day objects, using built-in libraries.

UI Design

Apple has always put design at the forefront of their products and users expect the same high standard in their apps. Apple even provides a useful 'Do’s and Don'ts' page for iOS developers, with tips on how to format your app to make it readable and optimised for touch control.

Compatibility

As of IOS 11, older 32-bit apps will no longer work, so ensuring your app is 64-bit is more than best practise—it's essential to your survival in the app store. It's estimated that over 500,000 apps became obsolete due to this 64-bit requirement. Keeping your app up-to-date and compatible with major iOS releases is ongoing work but equally, it allows you to add new features and keep your users engaged.

App Marketing

The iOS App Store received a major upgrade this year, providing a fresh interface and more tools for developers to promote their apps. The ‘Today’ page highlights new and interesting apps and provides more editorial content than before. Developers with a good ‘story’ should take advantage of this where possible. Search has also been improved and includes the ability to search for developers, in-app purchases, categories, stories, and collections.

Regardless of the platform, best practise app development should include thorough research and rigorous testing, for UX and security issues. In 2018, iOS app development is getting a technological boost with iOS 11’s new features, with mobile payments through Apple Pay set to be the driving force for many new app projects.

Are you an iOS app developer or looking for an app development partner? Activate Design is a design and software development agency. We welcome any opportunities to collaborate on app product design and development. Click here to find out more about what we do, or contact us for more information.

 

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Posted in Mobile Apps

2018 Best Practices for Android App Development

Android App Development Best Practices for 2018

The release of Android 8.0 (Oreo) is a game changer that is destined to have a huge influence on Android app development in 2018 and beyond.

The Android platform has become fragmented, with many devices running on outdated OS versions. Over 50% of devices accessing the Google Play store in August 2017 were still on 5.x. Oreo aims to solve this by making it a lot easier for device manufacturers to deliver ongoing OS updates.

The benefits for mobile app developers are clear—access to a much larger audience of Android users and the promise of a standardised OS platform to ensure a better and more consistent app experience.

So what are the best practices for Android App development in 2018?

The Need

What need does your app serve? Does it offer something new or improved? Doing market research and workshopping your idea rigorously is definitely best practice and something all mobile app developers should invest in before you invest money and resources. This includes studying your competitors and deciding where your app will sit in the marketplace.

Good Design

A successful app needs a fully developed design before any code is written. Google provides a helpful guide to their Material Design visual language. Working with these style guidelines will make your app feel like a natural part of the wider Android UI. Compelling design is the key to standing out in this highly competitive app marketplace. Poor design is often cited as the main reason why users stop using an app.

User Security

Creating secure apps that protect user information is paramount – nothing defines ‘fail’ more than a serious security breach. The good news? Oreo makes it much easier to push out security updates, but until it’s installed on more devices, developers will still need to ensure their apps work safely on previous versions of Android.


Optimisation

The Android develop community offers many useful tools for optimising your app, including Proguard, which will remove unused code and reduce your APK file size. The Android Debug Database is another great tool for debugging databases and shared preferences in Android applications.

Testing

It’s important to test your app for issues such as faulty code and memory leaks but also from a functional, UI perspective. Get users to test your app before its release using real devices, not just emulators.

Updates

Keep your code up to date and be sure to act quickly on any user feedback you receive through the Google Play Store. Users expect to get updates that not only fix issues but provide improvements. In fact, the key to ongoing user engagement is to connecting with your users, meeting their needs and delighting them with unexpected new features.

Prepare For Success

Unless your app targets a specific niche, it has the potential to attract huge numbers of users—so be prepared! You need to factor scalability into your design and development, so your app continues to grow and caters to the needs of its users.

As Android 8.0 Oreo takes hold in 2018, Android app development will have a unified and cohesive platform that will provide increasing opportunities to reach a larger user audience with apps that work better, are more secure and provide longer-term revenue for developers.

Are you an app developer? Activate Design is a design and software development agency. We welcome any opportunities to collaborate on app development projects. Click here to find out more about what we do, or contact us for more information.

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Posted in Mobile Apps