A Trip Up North For Research Purposes (And To Buy A Porsche)

I didn’t get talked into buying a car by a salesman.

porsche-yellow

It turns out that in today’s day and age, all it takes is a couple hours of idly surfing the internet to fall completely head over heels in love with a car. If only I had this kind of luck with dating!

[However, I wouldn’t usually go for women as old as this particular model…]

When I bought my beloved 2002 Corsa, ten years ago, it was in much better shape.

What seemed like modern contouring gave it a sleek, sporty vibe – the plastic interior practically gleamed, as if it had just come out of the factory, and the engine purred like only a 16v, 1.2 litre could. However, I was 21 at the time, I’d just set up my company and built my first site. My budget restraints were reflected in my vehicle and, even though the old girl has taken me thousands of miles around the UK and Europe; ten years on she was truly starting to show her age.

I’ll admit that I felt a slight pang of guilt, when I first hit the car search engines. Although rationally I knew that I couldn’t possibly hold onto this old banger for any longer, she’d been faithful for a decade – and now I was going to simply trade her in for younger, flashier model. Coupled with this was the fact that I knew that I couldn’t afford to keep two cars at one time – so the Corsa would have to go.

corsa

She wouldn’t be crushed – she’d been far too well looked after for that.

No, my dear Corsa would end up in the hands of an excitable boy racer, who’d more than likely bend her round a lamp post in the space of a couple weeks. Resigned to this outcome, I started considering the countless of other much loved used vehicles that must be put on the market every year. That’s when I remembered the dream cars of my youth: flashy roadsters driven by Steve McQueen and Burt Reynolds. Bold pastel paint jobs and timeless designs – this avenue of fantasy brought me into the path of Tech-9, a bespoke Porsche Dealership and Garage based in Liverpool.

As you might be able to tell, I have a habit of imbuing inanimate objects with little stories and personal embellishments. I get personally attached to things like cars, computers…printers, sometimes. Far from being the clinical gear-heads that I expected them to be, the lads at Tech-9 seemed to have a similar relationship with the majority of the vehicles that they work on in Liverpool.

steve-mcqueen

After inquiring about a certain Porsche 930 on their site, they invited me up to check out their show room and take her for a test drive. I’d never driven a Sports car before, let alone a left-handed model. The speed at which it leapt forward took me quite by surprise and I must admit, I found it a little difficult to get to grips with the old steering. The mechanic sat in the passenger seat clutched onto the sides of the vehicle, clearly a little vexed at my lack of control over the car.

I decided against buying it in the end.

It turns out re-modelled 1970s era Porsches can set you back quite a bit of money – plus a sweet 2013 Corsa just popped up on AutoTrader, and I think it might be more my style after all…

5 Ways Your Site’s Speed Could Be Costing You Money

[And 5 tips that could help you get up to scratch.]

Site Speed Has Never Been So Important – Don’t Get Left Behind!

The longer it takes your site to load, the less time potential clients are going to have for your brand – get up to speed so you don’t lose out on precious custom.

User Experience

There’s a direct correlation between how easy-to-use your website is and how much money it makes. If your site loads slowly and makes the user wait around for some ridiculous flashy gimmick, they won’t hang around.

user-x

[The best way to combat this is with simple Q&A testing. Get a wide range of people to try out your site and get some honest feedback. You’ll probably find that you’ll need to cut back on some of those gimmicky features and simplify your UI.]

SEO

Yes – Google does take page loading speed into account when they rank you in the SERPs. If your page loads sluggishly then this will reflect in a poorer ranking. It’s important to take this with a pinch of salt, as there are dozens of signals which Google uses to rank your website – however, an optimised site will always result in a better ranking.

sep

[To test your page loading speed go to: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ – this tool will even give you a list of things to improve on!]

Sales

It follows that if you’re not ranking as high as you should do and if your site’s a little clunky – then your sales are going to suffer. Bing reported that as little as a 2-second delay could lead to a 4.3% loss in revenue per visitor, whereas AutoAnything reported a 13% increase in sales after they managed to cut their page load speed in half.

money

[Refining the User Experience on both Desktop and Mobile is crucial to boosting your sales – assess your customer’s journey and make sure they’re getting to where they need to be ASAP.]

Conversions

Your rankings may well be excellent and you might have optimised your UX to the very limit, but if your page speed is slow – people will leave your site. Just a 1 second delay in site loading means that you could lose a 7% reduction in conversions. Make the most of every impression by getting your user to where they need to be – quicker.

conversions

[One of the leading issues leading to slow page-loading is the excessive use of plugins. If you separate the wheat from the chaff, you’ll speed up your loading time and also make your site more secure in the process!]

Revenue

All of these factors, boil down to how effective your site is at generating revenue. Regardless of the product or service that your site provides, if it’s slow, it’ll make less money. After edmunds.com cut 7 seconds of their load time, they saw a 17% increase in page views and a 3% increase in ad revenue.

revenue

[For the techies out there, a reduction in CSS will see your site speed massively increase. Cut the fat from the meat, and watch your site speed shoot through the roof.]

If all this sounds a little complicated to you, then why don’t you shoot me an email, I can explain things a little and put you in the direction of someone who can help!

 

 …

Too Much Tech!

We’ve all seen the hoarders on TV.

A few years back there was a freak show epidemic on Channel 4.

Sympathetically told stories of good people who’ve are stuck with terrible conditions: the man with no skin, the woman with a second head that hates her – you get the picture. Amongst the litany of unlucky individuals there were the hoarders.

From the outside there were relatively normal people. A little rough round the edges or perhaps a touch edgy, but not really that strange – until you step inside their homes. The middle class presenter of the show tip toes into the apartment of the poor individual and then spends the next hour of the program attempting to hide their shocked sensibilities.

Cardboard boxes, stuffed and stacked to the ceiling, threaten to crush the camera crew whilst the occupant crawls through make-shift tunnel systems, underneath the detritus of his life that he’s accumulated over the years, unwittingly building the mountain of tat, that now threatens to become his mausoleum.

As the dirty, dishevelled individual talks in front of the camera – trying to explain how the breakdown of his marriage and loss of custody of his kids really have nothing to do with the hundreds of children’s toys and women’s dresses, that have built the foundation of his crummy fortress of solitude, he starts to cry. Within an hour of well edited television, he confronts his problems, gets a professional organiser and declutterer over and the place is spick and span: happy endings all round!

kitchen-appliances

I recently had a team of professionals around to sort out the sorry state that is my house.

I’ve not had a bad year, I’m yet to be divorced by my non-existent wife, or separated from my fictional children – I just love buying stuff.

It’s simply really. Once you get to a certain age, and if you’re fortunate enough to own a home (or be on the way to paying one off) then you’ll find that you have a bit of expendable income on your hands. Now, for a man who’s spent a large portion of his life as a penniless student, the notion of being able to just spend cash with no thought of the consequences was like walking into a dream.

Suddenly all the useless middle-class gadgets, that I’d watched my friends buy over the years, were within my reach. A walk through John Lewis was no longer a useless trek through a swamp of consumer electronics that were out of my reach. Every item was within my price range and no item was too outrageous. Of course there was no way that I was going to use all of them – who was I kidding?

bread-maker

Bread makers are fun to have, but they’re also really big.

Storing them in your kitchen, when you’re not using them is just a waste of space – so it goes into the garage. Although you might have loved Great British Bake Off when it was on, it turns out that your lust for baking mysteriously disappeared after the season finale – that can slot in next to the juicer, smoother and espresso machine.

If you were feeling even slightly entrepreneurial, you could open your own cafe – but you don’t, you stack one piece of expensive tech onto another – until the only option is to call in a professional to sort out the mess.

OK, so maybe I wasn’t crawling through tunnels built of my own sadness. However, I was a little sad to see the ice-cream maker go – I was looking forward to using that.

Gearing up for IOT World Forum 2016 in London!

It’s conference time and I need a new car!

internet-of-things

Around 15 years or so ago, when the web design game was still in it’s infancy, conferences and conventions were thin on the ground. Mostly attended by small time companies and amateur developers – these little gatherings were held in sad little conference centres and roadside hotels. Now that technology companies have become the dominating force behind every major corporation, our conferences have stepped up somewhat in stature. 

I like to attend at least one or two conventions a year and, thankfully, there’s now a huge wealth of options to go to within and outside of the UK. This year, I thought I’d mix it up somewhat and head into the capital for something a little more left field.

What is the Internet of Things?

Although it may seem like one of those things that has just crept into existence, The Internet of Things (or IoT) has actually be knocking around for a good deal of time. It’s a general term given to the concept of physical items sharing data via computer network. Although it might seem a little early to be discussing the idea of your fridge talking to your phone – consider that the first ‘smart’ toaster was revealed at a tech-conference back in the late 80s.

smart-fridge

In today’s world the IoT is covering everything from consumer electronics to home heating – however the concept does have larger, grander ideals. Imagine automated refuse services or crops of fields that tell the farmer when they should be harvested. We’ve only just glimpsed the exciting future of the Internet of Things – that’s why I’m heading to the World Forum this November, to get ahead of the game, and see if a ‘smart’ kettle is really the answer to my problems.

Who’s Going To Be There?

IBM, Huawei and AT&T are just a handful of the big players who are making their way to the Millennium Gloucester Hotel for the Forum this year. Unlike the smaller developers conferences that I attend around Europe, these bigger conventions can often come off more like show-boating than anything else. However, at nearly £800 per ticket (the prices rise to the astronomical cost of £1395 if you buy a few weeks later) I’m expecting to be sufficiently dazzled by the technology and speakers on display.

mo-nasser

Amongst the telecommunications veterans such as Emmanuel Routier (Vice President of Machine2Machine for Orange) and Deon Newman (Chief Marketing Officer of IBM Wastson Internet of Things) – I’m most looking forward to seeing Mo Nasser, General Manager of Sprint. An innovator in Wireless Communications, he’s well known for his lively stage presentations and tantalising insights into future technologies.

My ticket’s booked – but there’s one thing missing…

I’ve been in this game a while now and, as much as I don’t really need a car for travel, I feel like the time’s come to for me to upgrade my vehicle. There’s a good few hundred miles between myself and the capital – and I don’t quite fancy making the journey in my battered Corsa. Plus, if I’m going to be rocking up to the Millenium Gloucester, a 4-Star Hotel in Kensington where you’d be lucky to find a room for less that £100 a night, I should probably be driving something a little swanky.

porsche-911

Although I’ve always taken a great interest in consumer electronics, cars have never been something that have interested me. I just know that a suave car salesman is going to take advantage of me – but I just don’t care.

My tux has been bought, my hotel room is through the roof – I’m getting wheels to match.

Do I Really Need An Online Presence?

Your small business has strong margins, you’re doing well – do you really need internet marketing?

baby-confused

I’m going to tell you the same thing I told my Dad.

My old man’s been a plumber for the best part of three decades. He’s made a name for himself through being reliable, honest and hard-working – qualities I’ve always admire and aspired to embody.

He’s used the same 3 square inches of newspaper to advertise his one-man business for the last 30 years or so and has rarely struggled for business. So, I wasn’t surprised when, a few months ago, he asked me if he should consider getting a website to represent his business online.

Considering my trade, I was surprised that he asked me in the first place.

Regardless of the trade, business or service that you provide – having a website and slew of social media handles is compulsory to running any enterprise in the 21st Century. So where should you begin?


Website

web-design

The first step in taking your business into the online realm is to get yourself a website sorted.

You can guarantee, whether you’re a plumber, like my Dad, or even a High Street Butchers, your competitors will already have their own online store fronts. You have to consider the internet as a whole new market in which to compete, getting a professionally built, modern website built is the first thing you do to get your business on the map.

On-Site Optimisation

seo

Speaking of maps, you’ll want to make sure that your business appears on Google’s ever popular service.

This kind of work is called Local SEO (Search Engine Optmisation) and you’ll, more than likely, need to hire some professionals to do this for your. Luckily, it’s work that can be done relatively cheaply and there are dozens of companies competing within each city (just try searching ‘SEO Agency in Liverpool‘ in to Google and see how many companies pop up!) to grab up clients.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

ppc

Once you’re on the phone to an Internet Marketing Agency, you can have a think about whether you’d like to invest in Pay-per-click advertising or not.

Google owns the online AdWords game and it can be a bewildering world if you’re not aware of how it works. It’s much easier to get someone else to manage the account for you – so you can make sure your site gets the best coverage and the cheapest price.

Social Media

social-feed

Lastly, grabbing Social Media accounts for your business is a no-brainer. They’re all absolutely free to setup and you can start reaping the dividends of increased exposure almost immediately.

There are companies or individuals who can manage your social streams, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter – alternatively, there’s a few useful Apps and Programs that can schedule your posts for you, so you’re not constantly on your phone. Regardless of how mundane or standard you might feel your business is, you can inject a sense of personality and fun into your Social Media feeds easily by simply sharing videos and pictures.

So in answer to your question: yes. Yes – your business should have an online presence.

The costs of maintaining a website are low and your business will be more prosperous as a result of staying in the technological loop.

Tech News Update – November

3 Tech-News Updates That You Should Read

tech-nes

Every week a whole raft of news stories are published. Some of them signal seismic shifts in the way our business works, whereas some are just…guff. 

Here are the 3 most interesting articles that I’ve found in the last week, make sure to click through to check out the full articles:

Wi-Fi Hotspots Just Got More Dangerous – You’ve Been Warned!

hackers_2Most people are aware of the threat that Public Wi-Fi Hotspots pose to Phones and Laptops using them.

The controversial use of Stingrays to mimic cellphone towers, granted law enforcement agencies, as well as well funded cyber-criminals, with the means to trick users into connecting to them – intercepting calls and internet usage.

Stingrays weren’t easy or cheap to setup, but Researchers Piers O’Hanlon and Ravishankar Borgaonkar from Oxford have found a new method of attack that requires far less effort and financial backing. Masquerading as a reputable Wi-Fi Network, attackers can fool smartphones into connecting automatically and intercept Wi-Fi calls to steal the unique identity number (known as the IMSI number), allowing a person’s internet activity and identity to be stolen.

Google Showcase Phone (That Might Make Them Money This Time)

google-techRemember all your friends who bought Google Nexus phones when they were released?

No? That’s because no one bought one. Google has been trying (and failing) to get their smartphone devices into the hands of more people, but now they’ve finally decided a change of tack might well be the best plan.

Instead of selling low to medium range smartphones at next to no profit, the tech giant is now moving to muscle in on the high-end market. They’re selling their new phone for just under $750, the same price as Apple’s iPhone 7 (they’re even releasing a premium version, at the same cost of the Plus). Maybe this will be the tipping point for Google’s hardware sales – if not, they can always take a gamble on the huge range of other products that they’ll be pushing out over the next few years.

India Is Not Ready For Cyber Attacks

cyber-attackerOh dear, India.

Although hundreds of companies in the world out-source their telemarketing, programming and security offices to one of the world’s fastest developing countries, their cyber-security is yet to catch up with the rest of the world.

This was proven as the websites of Indian Embassies in seven different countries were successfully hacked – with hackers leaking personal details of Indian citizens currently living abroad.

Security testers going by the names of ‘Kapustkiy’ and ‘Kasimierz’ claimed responsibility for the attacks, in communications made with The Hacker News, the duo insisted that they did not perpetrate the attack for ‘the lulz or something’. They were, instead, hoping to highlight the weaknesses in India’s cyber-security, in the hope that it could be improved in the future.…