Cardiff web design blog The latest news, hints and tips from Cardiff web designers VSI Thinking - www.vsi-thinking.com http://www.vsi-thinking.com/ en (C) 2015, VSI Thinking, www.vsi-thinking.com Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:17:56 GMT Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:17:56 GMT VSI Thinking, www.vsi-thinking.com Web design and web development Search Engine Optimisation for Fulham. http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/search-engine-optimisation-for-fulham http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/search-engine-optimisation-for-fulham Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:00:00 GMT Cardiff web design Search Engine Optimisation for Fulham FC Soccer Schools.

The long term business benefits of employing search engine optimisation as part of a marketing strategy are clear, let’s take a look at how effective it has been for Fulham FC Soccer Schools.

At the beginning of 2014 Fulham FC Soccer Schools decided to focus on search engine optimisation (SEO), asking VSIthinking to research keywords and improve the website SEO. You may recall an article back in mid 2014 which highlighted the success of that work with Fulham Soccer Schools at number one or top three for a range of keywords.

Today Fulham are still at the top of the search engines, and have consolidated the position with additional keywords. This shows the importance of search engine optimisation as an exercise and a great return on investment. Over 18 months after the initial work was complete Fulham FC Soccer Schools are still benefiting from additional value.

The VSIthinking 'thinkCMS' website platform is search engine optimised as standard and provides the perfect technical environment to maximise your keywords. Our keyword research will indentify the right keywords and help you to target the most appropriate terms. The next stage is to carefully implement the keywords in the website using title, meta data, page linking, title tags and alt tags throughout the website.

The results are clear and has helped Fulham achieve another successful year of above target bookings. To find out more call VSIthinking today to see how we can improve your website SEO.

Take a look at some of the top performing keywords for Fulham FC Soccer Schools below...

London Keywords

Fulham Soccer Schools

soccer school London
soccer schools in London
London soccer school
London soccer schools

Surrey Keywords

England Sports Group

soccer schools in Surrey
Surrey soccer schools
Football courses in Surrey
West London soccer schools

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Travel plans are changing with smart mobile technology http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/travel-plans-are-changing-with-smart-mobile-technology http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/travel-plans-are-changing-with-smart-mobile-technology Mon, 13 Jul 2015 12:00:00 GMT Cardiff web design Going Places – How Travel Plans Are Changing Through Smart Technology

Keeping abreast of an ever changing technological landscape is, as you might imagine, fairly important for a web design agency. It can also be a near full-time occupation such is the apparent speed of progress. And, while we’ll steer clear of misty-eyed ‘What an age we live in’ postulating it is worth taking time to examine some of the scarily futuristic developments that are likely to shape travel website design over the coming months and years.  

Making Travel Mobile

We’ve known for some time that the future of internet services would likely be dictated by an increase in mobile usage; the pathway for the internet and the so-called ‘real world’ to further integrate. Indeed, the term ‘Internet of Things’ has been around for more than a decade already – the notion that we would begin to use internet connectivity to control physical things – an idea made ever more real with the global proliferation of smart technology (be it phones, watches or such like). And it is with this evolution of the internet that we can look to gain an idea on the future of travel; more precisely, on our travel experiences.

From a web design perspective, the start off point has to be in regard to the responsiveness of the site itself. Mobile searches now account for more than 60% of all internet search activity and that’s a figure only likely to grow. Therefore it’s an imperative that web sites, travel related or otherwise, are designed for optimal viewing and navigating on all platforms from laptop / PC to tablet and smart phone.

And for travel, it is the latter (smart phone) which may hold the key (quite literally as we’ll examine below) to how we design and operate new sites.

Check Out the New Check In

Most of us are already well versed in the idea of using our phones to make bookings, again reinforcing the notion that, as web designers, we need to ensure our online booking systems are responsive and easy to operate on mobile devices. But, in relation to travel, this is just the start of the process, our phones are now becoming increasingly more integral to every stage of both the booking and indeed the actual travel itself.

Articles on Mashable, and more recently, on the BBC website have reported on how smart phones are now, in a number of cases, being used to manage your entire experience when staying at a hotel. Indeed, as the BBC article notes, a hotel in Japan is taking this one step further by introducing humanoid robots to greet you at reception.

That slightly creepy development aside, the idea of your mobile being the control piece for your stay at a hotel is real breakthrough in travel’s adoption of the Internet of Things concept.

Making the booking directly from the website (whether tablet, desktop or phone) your phone then becomes the portal for control once at the hotel itself. Incorporating technology which already exists on smart phones (such as Apple’s biometric fingerprint recognition) your phone can be used to check-in at automated counters in the hotel lobby. But that’s not all – using a secure form of Bluetooth, your phone can then act as the key to your room, gaining access simply by touching the device to a panel on the door.

The long-term idea is for every aspect of your stay at a hotel to become digitally controlled through your phone or other smart device; be it checking-in, gaining access to the pool or ordering room service.

Of course, whilst this is a new innovation in the hotel industry, the use of smart technology to control every stage of a travel procedure has been in wider use in terms of air travel, your device again the portal from which to book, pay and then become your ticket and boarding pass at the airport.

This, naturally, presents some challenges to those (like VSIthinking) charged with designing websites for the travel industry. Beyond combining aesthetic appeal with ease-of-use responsive designs there is the matter of further integration of different services to consider, so as to make the overall experience seamless for the customer.

And then of course, there’s the matter of security. On a functional level, having biometric style security on your phone is a robust measure. However, given the ever increasing threat of cyber and DDoS attacks, the onus on ensuring the highest levels of security throughout the system are an imperative for any organisation providing online services.

Staying Social

One aspect, however, that needs to be considered when we’re looking at web services for the travel industry is the way in which companies engage with their clients. We are, after all, dealing in a hospitality style marketplace and levels of customer service and social engagement are, and have always been, vital in a travel brand’s success.

So how does this fit in with a fully digital travel experience where human contact is effectively being kept to minimum; and in the case of our robot hosted hotel in Japan, virtually eradicated entirely.

Basically, it all comes down to the way in which social engagement seems to operate on a universal level these days: Social Media.

Interaction via the main social media platforms becomes a vital cog in the digital wheel when we automate the client’s travel experience through the internet and mobile technology. If you’re not having especial contact with your clients at your physical sites then there’s greater importance on speaking with them through your online sites and social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter as well as, importantly, image led sites like Pinterest and Instagram.

Taking a step back in the overall travel experience, social platforms can also become integrated aspects of a customer’s booking by helping with his or her decision making on where to stay, with whom to fly and so forth. Integrating travel sites with live information, reviews and customer feedback from sites such as those mentioned above or indeed, crucial in the travel sphere, TripAdvisor, as well as allowing a quick route towards making a booking from these access points not only increases engagement with clients, it also adds another dimension to what we are accomplishing through our online activity:

SEARCH -> REVIEW -> WEBSITE -> BOOKING ->PAYMENT -> CHECK-IN -> ROOM ACCESS -> GUEST SERVICES -> CHECK-OUT -> FEEDBACK -> SOCIAL PAGE -> REVIEW. 

From the moment we search for the service we want the experience becomes digital, taking us by the hand each and every step of the way and beyond; once we’ve posted our review, status and various other online footprints that will be there to guide us the next time we travel.

For more information on the most up-to-date travel website design innovations why not give us a call.

*Links: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-32931923

http://mashable.com/2014/11/03/keyless-mobile-hotel-check-in/

 

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Ranking First On Google http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/ranking-first-on-google http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/ranking-first-on-google Mon, 06 Jul 2015 09:13:00 GMT Cardiff web design Ranking First On Google – How We Got to the Top

Practicing What We Preach

Getting your business to rank high on Google and the other major search engines is a crucial component in the marketing of our services. However, not only is this a part of the service we provide to our customers, it’s a strategy we take very seriously for our own business.

Which is why we’ve managed to secure NUMBER ONE ranking on the search terms for ‘responsive web design cardiff’ and ‘mobile web design cardiff’ – both of which are ever more important facets to our business and the services we provide.

So, how did we do it and how can we do the same for your business?

Allow us to explain…

Search Engine Optimisation – SEO.

SEO has been around almost as long as the internet itself with online marketers, self-proclaimed gurus and wizards with pointy hats all professing to know the mystical secrets for getting your business’ site to the top of the rankings (ok, maybe not the wizards!).

Of course, the internet has changed dramatically in the past decade and a half.  

The days of loading a website with lists of keywords, of grabbing backlinks from here, there and everywhere to send your site to the top are long gone. Search engines are no longer like the Wild West, ripe with opportunistic prospectors rushing forth in search of internet gold.

Today the search giants such as Google and Bing are a lot more sophisticated, their criteria more nuanced which means the way you approach your SEO strategy needs to be finessed to meet these ever changing dynamics.

thinkCMS

Of course, there are some standard ‘good practice’ rules you should apply to your websites and the pages within which can play a significant role in ensuring your site is on track to rank highly. Fortunately, at VSIthinking we’ve developed a content management system, thinkCMS, which can create web pages automatically structured with sound SEO techniques applied, enabling us to create pages with:

  • Correctly Named and Structured URLs
  • Appropriate Interlinking between pages to relevant content.
  • Page Titles which are relevant to the Key Words you are trying to rank for.
  • Appropriate link titling – providing additional information on relevant links.
  • Correct image tagging

Targeted Key Word Strategy

We’ve long held the belief that good SEO practice stems from tailoring your strategy towards the areas of importance that the client and their website require. We do this by focusing our efforts towards the essential ‘Key Words’ relating to the client’s business and matching it to the key locations, areas or fields in which that particular business operates.

If you happen to be a fishmonger in Falmouth or a Sculptor in Scarborough then, alliteration aside, our strategy would focus on researching the key terms for each respective business and targeting those words towards the locations from which their sales are likely to come.

Engaging Through Content

Of course, it’s all well and good targeting the key words but for effective SEO you then have to utilise them in the most engaging way possible.

How?

The basic approach to this is ensuring you have a robust and well-structured website upon which you have content which is engaging, well-written and relevant to the search terms you are targeting.

Remember that people are using search engines to search for specific things. At VSIthinking we look into these specifics and produce web pages that deliver what they are looking for.

The content itself is based upon specific terms – not merely generic search items – so that it is both informative to the visitor with appropriate key words logically incorporated into the copy rather than just stuffed in to pacify a search engine (an old fashioned technique more likely to penalise than reward)

Applying this to Rank First in Mobile Web Design Cardiff

In an ever more mobile-orientated world the need for responsive websites which can adapt according to the device upon which they’re viewed has become of critical importance to businesses. As a leading name in responsive web design in Cardiff it was therefore of major importance to us to ensure we were highly visible on all relevant searches for this service.

By following a process of targeted keyword research before creating relevant content structured in the most effective fashion through thinkCMS we’ve been able to not just rank high for ‘responsive web design cardiff’ and ‘mobile web design cardiff’ but actually get our business to NUMBER ONE.

Why not find out how we might be able to do the same for you.

 

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Welcome to thinkPROJECT http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/welcome-to-thinkproject http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/welcome-to-thinkproject Wed, 01 Jul 2015 09:08:00 GMT Cardiff web design Welcome to thinkPROJECT

A few months ago we introduced you to thinkPROJECT; our new project management tool developed for the speedy identification and resolution of errors on a client’s website either during development or as an ongoing concern after it has gone live.

Since this initial announcement we’ve been able to put thinkPROJECT through its paces and introduce it to a number of our clients which we believe will add even greater value to the overall service which we provide.

Control Over Your Project Management

There are, of course, a few project management software tools already available on the market such as Basecamp and Trello. Tools which allow teams to organise, keep track and report on the different stages of a particular project.

Where thinkPROJECT differs from the above is that you have complete control over your own system rather than all the communication being passed via a third party tool. This means that all of your projects can be managed in-house, under one banner rather than having to sign up or open a new project with the provider each time.

Use thinkPROJECT to keep track of multiple projects
thinkPROJECT can keep track of multiple projects and tasks in one easy to use system.

In a sense, at VSIthinking we’re offering our clients a two-fold project solution – a tool which offers functionality similar to third party offerings such as Basecamp while delivering an in-house project management solution which they can use as they wish in the business moving forward.

The thinkPROJECT Fundamentals

The core features of thinkPROJECT is that it’s a system which is easy to use and offers a completely transparent way of managing all your on-going projects.

In terms of how it looks and works in practice, the system takes the style of an online forum, something which gives it a familiarity for most users. Everyone who has a part to play in the project will have the access which is required of them so that they can see all action points as well as comment and indeed react.

thinkPROJECT was instrumental in helping us deliver the Luxury Chalet Book website

With a social media style notification system in operation, each user can easily see new action points and updates so that response time is swift.

The system therefore provides a transparent pathway for each issue from the point it is raised through to the sign off and completion.  If, for example, an error in a system is identified then that person can simply raise a new ticket (open a new forum thread) on that particular issue, allowing for speedy response and resolution.

Reporting

With thinkPROJECT there is a comprehensive reporting system which can provide invaluable data to the project manager. With analytics set up to record the status and timings of all issues (operating on an ‘open’, ‘closed’, work-in-progress’ style ticket scheme) the project manager can collate real-time info into graphs and other reports to be able to update and keep track on each stage of the project.

Using it FOR REAL

In order for us to demonstrate its effectiveness we’ve rolled the thinkPROJECT tool out on recent projects with clients.

For instance, thinkPROJECT played an integral role in the development of the recent Luxury Chalet Book website, allowing for easy, direct and regular communication between all interested parties on both client and VSI side. This not only ensured that the project ran smoothly as any errors and bugs were quickly picked up, actioned and resolved but we could also add further value to the client, with thinkPROJECT as a tool with which they can manage web related issues with us as well as future projects with other clients and partners.

For more information on thinkPROJECT and to find out how it may benefit your business why not give us a call and arrange a demo.

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Mobile App Development for Thomas Cook Brochure Store http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/mobile-app-development-for-thomas-cook-brochure-store http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/mobile-app-development-for-thomas-cook-brochure-store Tue, 02 Jun 2015 09:09:00 GMT Cardiff web design Mobile App Development for Thomas Cook Brochure Store

One of our successful mobile app developments has been for the Thomas Cook Brochure Store. The popular app has a range of features to help their customers quickly find a range of holiday destinations and look at the range of accommodation options, all while on the move. Let’s go and learn more...

The Thomas Cook Brochure Store app is available on tablets and smartphones on both iOS, via iTunes, and Android through Google Play and the Amazon Marketplace. The app has been popular on both platforms and regularly sees high levels of usage, seeing more than 315,000 downloads across the various platforms which is close to 2000 downloads every week.

This high volume of downloads has made the Thomas Cook Brochure Store app a viable replacement to the traditional paper brochures and brings great savings to Thomas Cook as there’s no need to print and distribute thousands of copies of each of the brochures.

The Thomas Cook Brochure Store app was developed to provide a range of helpful functions to help make brochures easy to read and navigate in the app. First, a user can choose a specific Thomas Cook brand, or search for a destination. Once the user has found a brochure they would like to read, they can instantly download a copy to the app; this on-demand delivery system reduces the time it takes to download brochures and makes the app a minimal install so it’s great for those with limited storage space on their phones.

Once the user has downloaded a brochure they can access it whenever they need to, even if their device doesn't have an internet connection. When reading a brochure, the user can either jump to a specific chapter or bookmark any page they wish and jump straight to one of their bookmarked pages. Behind the scenes there is also tracking to allow Thomas Cook to see how often the app is opened by users and how many brochures have been downloaded.

At VSIthinking, our app development team are continually considering how to further enhance the Thomas Cook Brochure Store app with new developments and features; a few ideas include social media integration so users can share a particular page or bookmark with their friends. Another area we are looking into is push notifications, to alert users when new brochures have been added to the app, encouraging them to take a look. Lastly, we’re looking to move beyond the limitations of traditional print brochures and add rich media content, such as videos, to the brochure pages themselves so users can see a short clip about a destination.

The Thomas Cook Brochure Store app is available to download from iTunes, Google Play, and the Amazon Appstore.

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Android Mobile Apps Cardiff http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/android-mobile-apps-cardiff http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/android-mobile-apps-cardiff Thu, 28 May 2015 09:09:00 GMT Cardiff web design Android Mobile Apps Cardiff

Our mobile apps developer has been utilising several different apps available on Google’s Android platform to help out with developing apps and getting the most from their Android device. Take a look...

Astro File Manager for Android Astro File Manager

File management is vital on Android as most mobile and tablet devices can expand their storage with memory cards so it’s sometimes necessary to transfer files from the card to the device, and vice versa; Astro File Manager makes it easy and it can even copy and transfer files from the cloud. Our Cardiff app developers like the ability to launch the appropriate mobile app to open a file you’ve located, so there’s no need to go sifting through your apps to open something.

EverNote for Android EverNote

When developing our app developer needs to take notes from clients to keep track of their requirements and requests, EverNote has proved to be a great solution. Not only can it be used to jot down text notes, it can also be used to collect photos and web pages which is great for collating example design elements. EverNote even works across multiple platforms so our Android developer can pass their notes on to other team members.

CleanMaster for Android CleanMaster

A vital part of Android app development is testing; as we thoroughly test our apps we have to ensure the device doesn’t have any previously stored files. CleanMaster is an app which can clear out the device’s cache and download history. This helps ensure our testing is carried out on a clean device, rather than using stored files. CleanMaster can also be used to free up space and resources on the device.

Fenix for Android Fenix for Twitter

Twitter is a great way for our Android developer to keep up to date with current news and local events however the standard Twitter app can make things a little hard to digest; Fenix adapts your Twitter feed into a user friendly, Android 5.0, style. It also has support for multiple Twitter accounts, making it easy to switch between personal and professional users.

IFTTT for Android IFTTT

Our Cardiff app development team has recently been using IFTTT on Android; this handy tool allows you to create tasks or processes which run when something else happens. So if the phone calendar has a meeting event the phone automatically goes to silent, or if a note is created it emails a copy to another contact. There’s a whole range of “recipes” available and it’s compatible with a number of different apps and services making it really versatile.

Think there’s another Android app out there which we should be using? Let us know in the comments section below our Cardiff app developer is always interested in great mobile apps.

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Ski Chalet Mobile Website Design http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/ski-chalet-mobile-website-design http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/ski-chalet-mobile-website-design Tue, 26 May 2015 01:02:00 GMT Cardiff web design Ski Chalet Mobile Website Design

Mobile traffic for travel websites has increased exponentially over the last few years, with over half of all traffic coming from tablet or mobile devices, as well as an increase in the number of users with mobile devices in general. Luxury Chalet Book have recently launched a new website for ski chalet booking, created by VSIthinking, which has been designed to allow for an adaptive approach to mobile styling whilst maintaining consistent content and options for all users. This article looks at four key areas of the website and how the design has considered the various device sizes.

Navigation

The first key difference when viewing the homepage is the menu. On the desktop site, this is a menu bar at the top of the page; however, this format is not ideal for touch screens, particularly for sub options of the top level menu items. For Luxury Chalet Book, both the tablet and mobile designs use a touch friendly menu, which slides in from the left hand side of the screen when clicking the ‘hamburger’ menu icon that has become a standard across web and application design.

Since the website features fantastic photography, the banner section had to remain prominent on all three devices, while maintaining the aspect ratio of the images to prevent stretching and distortion. The tablet and mobile designs take advantage of gestures to swipe between banner images, this is a substitution for the left and right arrows which appear on the desktop version when hovered over. Doing this makes the site more interactive and improves the user experience.

Chalet Search

A search panel is displayed at the top of the page when the ‘search’ icon has been clicked; the level of detail on this button varies depending on the device, with the mobile version using only the magnifying glass icon to keep the page header uncluttered as well as styling it to match the menu button. The search panel pops up on the screen with a variety of filter options, with the size of the inputs optimised to match the adaptive design, such as larger checkboxes and dropdown lists on the mobile layout. This further improves the usability of the site when on mobile.

Search Results

To improve the user experience on mobiles, the number of results displayed per page was reduced to avoid excessive scrolling, links to individual ski chalet pages were also increased in proportion to the screen size to aid navigation. Using an adaptive design allows the styling to make use of extended features for the different platforms, such as on the desktop site allowing hover over actions to create a more embellished design. An example of this is the chalet image zooming in when hovering over it. Search filters have also been designed to be easier to tap on, in a similar way to the ski chalet search.

Property Pages

The layout of property pages has been arranged in a grid format to allow for easier manipulation of content when adapting to various devices. This is shown most clearly in the mobile design, which takes the two column layout from the desktop and tablet designs and combines them into a single column design all while keeping the same level of detail in terms of content.

Take a look at the new Luxury Chalet Book website for yourself.

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Travel website Luxury Chalet Book http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/travel-website-luxury-chalet-book http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/travel-website-luxury-chalet-book Thu, 21 May 2015 10:00:00 GMT Cardiff web design Travel website Luxury Chalet Book

Travel company chalet booking service ‘Luxury Chalet Booking’ has engaged VSIthinking to create an exclusive looking new website design. The business, run by Simon Gill, specialises in luxury chalets for the rich and famous throughout France, Switzerland, and Austria. Chalets can cost over £100,000 per week to hire and offer some of the most luxurious features such as discos, butler services, and fitness gyms.

The web design is aimed at high net worth individuals with an exclusive premium feel. Our travel web solutions combine the thinkCMS content management software and search engine optimisation with a product database. The product database has an easy to use web application allowing properties and prices to be added or amended with just a few clicks. Our travel web solutions automatically create search engine optimised chalet pages that can be found in searches and saved to a customer basket.

To complete the website experience there is not only social media integration, but visitors can create a basket of properties and share with their friends. Luxury Chalet Book are able to view and track all enquiries, chalets sent to a friend, and emails with the thinkVISION customer relationship management CRM solution.

Take a look at the newly launched website for Luxury Chalet Book, and find out more information about our travel websites.

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Windows Mobile Apps Developer http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/windows-mobile-apps-developer http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/windows-mobile-apps-developer Wed, 20 May 2015 10:08:00 GMT Cardiff web design Windows Mobile App Developer

With the range of software and apps available to help with app development, our resident Windows Mobile apps developer has taken us through a few different apps they use regularly to help them stay organised, create great content, and stay in the loop with the latest developments.

OneNote OneNote

If you just need to take a quick note or put together a list OneNote is a great tool. Our Windows app developer uses this for jotting down details in meetings and their notes can then sync to multiple devices. It’s even cross platform and works online so the notes can be shared internally, or passed along to a customer.

Files&Folders Lite Files&Folders Lite

Finding and organising the files on your mobile or tablet device can be quite tricky, using Files&Folders Lite our mobile app developer can quickly find the files they need, and organise resources into the correct folders. The finger friendly interface is actually a little easier to use than the standard Windows Explorer. It can even sync with files stored on Dropbox, to transfer and update files stored on the cloud.

To aid with developing apps we’ve previously used a few different app services including...

Trello Trello

With content for a mobile app often coming from a few different sources, such as text from a copy writer, images from the design team, it’s helpful to keep everyone on track. Trello is a project management app where you can assign and organise tasks and it works on different platforms as well. It’s been a great help and even inspired us to create thinkProject, our own project management service, which improves on many of the features of Trello.

Windows Insider Windows Insider

A crystal ball might offer a prediction but Windows Insider lets us see the future of Windows; giving us access to pre-release updates to Windows and review what changes are coming in the future. We can also access new app development tools the moment they’re available. Our Cardiff app developer is always checking this out and is hot on the heels of any new technology.

Fresh Paint FreshPaint

Finally we have FreshPaint, a great painting and photo editing tool which our Cardiff app development team us to create and mix colour palates and quickly draw out layouts and wireframes. We can even use it to enhance and augment regular photos.

Did we miss a great Windows mobile app? Let us know in the comments section below, our Cardiff mobile app developers are always on the look out for great apps.

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iOS Mobile Apps Cardiff http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/ios-mobile-apps-cardiff http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/ios-mobile-apps-cardiff Fri, 15 May 2015 03:42:00 GMT Cardiff web design iOS Mobile Apps Cardiff

Our iOS mobile app developer has shared their expert knowledge when it comes to getting the most from Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Here are a few iOS mobile apps they use regularly that helps make their day to day work quicker and easier...

Swiftkey SwiftKey Keyboard

While the iOS autocorrect tool is helpful, it can still miss the occasional spelling mistake. The SwiftKey mobile app is an alternate keyboard for your iPad or iPhone where you swipe over the keys to type; it also includes auto correction to fix any inaccuracies making it a great way to type while on the move. It even learns what you’ve typed before to improve its suggested words. We have found that it dramatically decreases the time it takes to write on iOS phone and tablets and is a simple but must-have app.

File Browser File Browser

While it might sound like a simple file management mobile app, File Browser is actually far more useful. Our mobile developers liked the simple interface not only helps you manage and organise files, but it can also connect to different networks and access files stored on different servers. This handy feature makes it easy to transfer photos or notes on the device to the shared network in the office.

When it comes to developing apps, our mobile app developer uses a few different tools; aside from the programming this also includes producing text and images.

Dragon Dictate Dragon Dictation

Dragon Dictation is an accurate speech recognition tool which is great for quickly producing copy from spoken word. It’s compatible with different apps, so it’s possible to write emails, draft blog posts, or even to take down a quick note for reference later. Developers use this to jot project notes and then transfer then to documentation.



VSCO Cam VSCO Cam

The stock camera app offers some basic functions but the VSCO Cam mobile app is a great improvement allowing full control over the camera settings. There’s a wealth of options over the shutter speeds, focus distance, exposure levels, and more. These options can either be set before taking a picture, or can be applied to a copy of the photo afterwards, ensuring you never lose the original.

 

Photoshop Touch Adobe Photoshop Touch

The last tool in our Cardiff app developer’s arsenal is Adobe Photoshop Touch, Photoshop is widely recognised as an industry leader for photo editing and the touch version is no different. All of the familiar tools and layer functions are available so it’s great for adjusting images while on the move. Our mobile app developer uses this to quickly sketch out wireframes and layouts when inspiration strikes.



All of the mobile apps are available in iTunes so why not give them a try, and if you think that we’ve missed a killer app feel free to add a comment below.

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thinkPROJECT - Track and Fix issues fast http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/thinkproject-track-and-fix-issues-fast http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/thinkproject-track-and-fix-issues-fast Wed, 18 Mar 2015 11:04:00 GMT Cardiff web design thinkPROJECT - Track and Fix issues fast

At VSIthinking we strive to deliver the perfect solution for our customers, be that in an online booking system, a bespoke piece of integration, or with our constantly improving content management solution. To make sure our work is robust and functioning correctly we carry out extensive testing of our developments before releasing them to the client so they can carry out their own testing.

To help make testing easier to provide feedback on, VSIthinking have developed thinkProject, a new online tool to help our customers quickly and easily report any issues or discrepancies that they experience on their website. Our latest version of the CMS incorporates our thinkProject module as standard, allowing customers to feedback on all aspects of their website. So what can thinkProject do for you?

  • Provide access to website information 24 hours a day, from wherever you are
  • Improve communication, giving you an instant view of how your issue is progressing
  • Speedy resolution with feedback from the team at VSIthinking to clarify the resolution
  • Reduce time spent reporting an issue, giving you more time to work on more important things
  • Improve customer satisfaction with a website that continually improves

Using screen capture technology, CMS enabled users can now simply log in to the Admin area, enable the CMS and a feedback button will appear on the front end of the website. Clicking this will allow the user to highlight the sections they’re encountering difficulty with, add some further details to clarify the problem and then send it off to the team at VSIthinking.

Reporting issues on thinkProject takes seconds.

The issue is instantly sent to the VSIthinking team, who can access all reported issues related to the customer’s website and allocate them a priority and a designated team member to work on the issue. Customers can access the thinkProject system to see how their issue is progressing, and provide further details if they’re needed.

Once the issue is resolved, thinkProject automatically sends an email to the customer to notify them the moment the reported issue is fixed. The issue is then closed and archived so it can still be revisited should there be a similar issue in future.

The thinkProject system is a simple way to report and manage bugs, which includes the following handy features...

  • Report an unlimited number of bugs and issues.
  • 24/7 web access from anywhere in the world through a standard web browser
  • Full issue history; all comments on the issue are saved and logged
  • Filter outstanding issues in chronological order, or priority
  • E-mail notifications keep you updated of new bugs or changes to current issues
  • Quick and simple bug reporting, using screen capture and formatted text comments

thinkProject is simple to use, our aim was to allow all site administrators to report on any issues, be they minor appearance issues or something more complex. Reporting an issue takes just a few clicks and the issue is then sent to the team at VSIthinking immediately. thinkProject means you spend less time reporting bugs and more developing content for your website.

As with our thinkCMS service, we constantly working on improving the features and functions of thinkProject. We will soon be utilising thinkProject to handle pre-launch website testing for our clients, and adding tools such as task lists and scheduled events.

If you would like an online demonstration of our thinkProject feedback solution, please don't hesitate to give us a call on 02920 331188.

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Sabre Computers Launch New Website http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/sabre-computers-launch-new-website http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/sabre-computers-launch-new-website Wed, 11 Mar 2015 10:00:00 GMT Cardiff web design Sabre Computers Launch New Website

Sabre Computers, a South Wales based IT support and solutions company working with small and medium sized businesses, have recently launched their new website, designed by VSIthinking. The site is designed to showcase the wide range of products and services Sabre Computers can provide. The team at Sabre were keen to give the site a modern feel, whilst improving the user experience by making the site easier to navigate.

Social media integration was also a key consideration in the design of the new website; the site features a regularly updated Twitter feed on the homepage, which comes as standard with our website packages. The footer of each page also feature share buttons to post the website to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Our content management system (CMS), thinkCMS, gives Sabre Computers full control over the content and imagery throughout the entire website. Sabre can also add and manage pages and menus easily.

Geraint Griffiths, Sales Director at Sabre Computers, is delighted with the new website...

"VSI-Thinking have been great from the initial discussion right through to our site going live! We are very pleased with how our website looks. The training we received on the website was very informative from both an SEO and administration point of view."

Take a look at the new Sabre Computers website - http://www.sabrecomputers.co.uk

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VSIthinking Release Updated Template http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/vsithinking-release-updated-template http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/vsithinking-release-updated-template Fri, 06 Mar 2015 09:06:00 GMT Cardiff web design VSIthinking Release Updated Template

At VSIthinking we're continually reviewing our template, listening to customer feedback and including new features we feel will enhance the user experience. The latest update to our template is now available to both new and existing customers, with several new features in areas such as security and document handling. Read on to find out more.

New Document Library

Including images and documents on your website increases user engagement and enhances the user experience, breaking up large chunks of text with images encourages users to keep reading; which is why the major change in this update of the VSIthinking template is a new document library to make it easier than ever to upload new files, as well as manage them in a way that fits with your personal preferences.

Drag and Drop Uploading with HTML5

Making use of HTML5, our new drag and drop uploader allows quicker uploads and the ability to upload multiple images or documents at the same time. Simply drag the files you want to upload into the upload area and those files will be transferred to our servers, ready to add to your page content in seconds.

Image Cropping

Third-party image software can be intimidating for some users, and professional editing tools can be too costly to justify. Our built-in cropping tool allows you to manipulate larger images to resize them to a selection of pre-defined sizes specifically for your website, or just to reduce them for use in your page content. To improve page load times all cropped images are compressed to ensure the images keep their quality with the smallest possible file sizes.

Rename Files for SEO Benefits

Filenames are a key source of a search engine optimisation (SEO) benefit, so the new document library allows for the renaming of files to better describe its contents, or to use keywords to improve a website’s search rankings.

Navigation & Management

Several new features improve the speed and ease of document management. To help you find files quicker, our library auto-suggests tags based on those applied to files when uploading. We have also improved navigation and validation to keep the library running seamlessly and to keep the user informed on their changes. Finally, the library allows users to add multiple folders to organise files in a particular way specifically for your business.

Improved Login Security

Having a strong password for logins is a vital part of web security. When creating an account or updating a password, our template indicates the strength of the password, using indicators such as length and the inclusion of numbers or symbols. For those that would rather stay logged in for a longer period of time, the ‘Remember Me’ feature automatically logs in using your details when viewing a private page. In addition, all validation messages are kept consistent throughout. These changes help to improve the security and usability of our template.

Adaptive Design

In addition to our mobile template, we now offer a tablet-specific template using an adaptive web design, this utilises the same CMS content as the desktop site so there's no need to create dedicated content. This is available on request, as with the mobile version, this provides an alternative to a responsive website design if an adaptive one is a more suitable solution for your website.

New Feedback Facility

Using a project management system aids collaboration, allows detailed reporting capabilities, and keeps both developers and customers up to date on a new or existing project. These are often a third-party system and can be quite costly. We have developed a new feedback system, thinkPROJECT, to work in conjunction with our customer's websites, giving customers a quick and easy way to give feedback or report bugs on their website. To find out more about thinkPROJECT, view our blog post on the subject.

These changes join those from our last update, which include mobile previewing, creating draft pages, and mobile optimisations. To request a free 15-20 minute demonstration of our latest template platform, including the recently updated thinkCMS content management system along with a free consultation, please use our contact form.

As always, we're continually reviewing our template to ensure that it conforms to the latest web technologies and changing user habits, you could say we’re very responsive.

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Neilson Launch Responsive Web Design http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/neilson-responsive-web-design http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/neilson-responsive-web-design Fri, 27 Feb 2015 09:07:00 GMT Cardiff web design Neilson Responsive Web Design

Neilson Active Holidays have launched a new responsive website, developed in partnership with Cardiff web design company VSIthinking. The responsive design takes its inspiration from the TravelMole award winning website already in use, and optimises it to further improve user experience on tablet and mobile devices.

The responsive design ensures that content is optimised according to the screen size of the user. As internet traffic on mobiles overtakes desktop computers many companies have adopted a responsive website design, as Neilson have done, helping to improve the user experience for all users. The responsive design also brings SEO benefits, as Google look favourably on responsive websites giving them a "Mobile Friendly" label in the search results.

When designing the new website, Neilson wanted to ensure that all existing functionality was maintained, including integration to Anite services, the thinkCMS content management system, and thinkVISION, all services provided by VSIthinking.

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Responsive Website Design http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/responsive-website-design http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/responsive-website-design Wed, 21 Jan 2015 12:00:00 GMT Cardiff web design Responsive website Design

To paraphrase the famous Lord of the Rings quote, responsive design is basically "one design to rule them all". As you may have noticed, the VSIthinking website has been redesigned from scratch, making use of a responsive web design across all platforms, giving a fluid and consistent style to all users.

When designing a responsive website, there are many considerations to be made. This post focuses on some of the technical considerations for designing with a responsive site in mind.

Mobile First?

The most important consideration is in what order you want to design a site’s layout and functionality, do you start with a mobile version and work up, or start with the desktop and go down? This is still a matter of debate amongst web developers, most subscribe to the view of starting from the mobile display, but in reality it is down to the designer’s personal experience and preferences.

Breakpoints

Using CSS3 and javascript libraries allows developers to dynamically alter the layout and size of elements on a web page. These can be used to manage the breakpoints at which the design will cater towards. In general, it is best to initially concentrate on three types; desktop, tablet and mobile. This is not, however, the end of the issue. While desktop displays remain quite consistent, tablet and mobile displays can alter in size and pixel density, so it is possible that you will need further breakpoints to accommodate the variety of devices that your visitors may use.

An emulation tool is a must for responsive design. In addition to Chrome’s built-in facilities, there are a range of options to be found online. One example is Mobile Phone Emulator, which offers a selection of device options to test your website against. It is impossible to style for every device because the market continually evolves and user’s tastes differ, but focusing on the most popular is a good route to follow.

Showing and Hiding Elements

It is safe to assume that not all features on a desktop site would be appropriate for a mobile display, and vice versa. Most of the content on this site remains the same regardless of the device being used, but there are functionality changes targeted towards a touch-screen display, as well as limited screen space. We have made use of jQuery technologies to adapt the website menu and footer for reduced displays, allowing the user to toggle whether the information is displayed, whilst maintaining the layer structure of the design through opacity. This gives a better user experience and allows the actual content to stand out.

Flow & Layout

When outlining the content of a page, the flow of information and its layout are important considerations. For example, if you have a grid of six images, scaling down the size of the window would affect the layout that they are displayed in. On the VSIthinking responsive website, the ‘Our Work’ section starts as a two row structure with three columns. As the screen size is reduced, the images dynamically reorder through CSS3 to a three row, two column structure. When viewed on mobiles, this becomes a one column list.

Alongside this, the font and image sizes should also be appropriate. If the font size isn’t changed dynamically, the text could be too small to read or so big that it distorts the design, and images should always be scaled down to maintain their inherent aspect ratio.

While these are some considerations, they are by no means the only ones. But mastering these four points is a massive step towards a responsive website. If you are interested in a responsive website, don’t hesitate to call or contact us for more information of VSIthinking's systems, including thinkCMS, and a free demonstration and consultation.

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Celtic Manor Launch New Mobile Site http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/celtic-manor-launch-new-mobile-site http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/celtic-manor-launch-new-mobile-site Sun, 04 Jan 2015 10:02:00 GMT Cardiff web design Celtic Manor Launch New Mobile Site

The Celtic Manor Resort, in conjunction with Cardiff web design company VSIthinking, have launched a new mobile site, making use of adaptive techniques to provide a fully functional mobile experience across a range of devices.

With an ever increasing diversity in how users are accessing content, Celtic Manor’s new mobile and tablet sites provide a fully functional experience, rather than offering a cut-down version of the desktop site. The design has been chosen to take advantage of touch-screen gestures to allow scrolling through images and options, enhancing the user experience. The mobile website is predominately image led, with integration to social media accounts on all pages to increase visitor engagement.

Through VSIthinking’s content management system, thinkCMS, Celtic Manor can create content specifically for mobile visitors, offering the same options as updating the desktop site. In addition, aspects of the mobile site have been incorporated into a tablet optimised version, which makes use of the desktop site’s content but also utillises touch friendly menus to make navigation easier.

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SMC Kitchens launch new web design http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/smc-kitchens-launch-new-web-design http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/smc-kitchens-launch-new-web-design Mon, 15 Dec 2014 10:00:00 GMT Cardiff web design SMC Kitchens launch new web design

South Wales based kitchen suppliers SMC Kitchens reached out to Cardiff web design company VSIthinking to design their new website to coincide with their expansion to a new showroom. Having traded for over 25 years both locally and nationally, SMC were looking for a website that would stand out from the crowd, whilst keeping up to date with the changing browsing habits of visitors.

Combining the thinkCMS content management system with a responsive web design, in line with the company’s logo and branding, for desktops and mobile devices, SMC can exhibit their kitchen ranges with detailed images and descriptions, as well as promoting previous work. The VSIthinking solution also tracks enquiries made through the website, allowing SMC to keep track of all customers details for organising home visits and, eventually, installations.

“Having been self employed as a sole trader fitting kitchens, I decided to open a kitchen showroom. Amongst the first steps in this new venture was to find a website developer. After speaking to many web developers to what my idea of a website should look like not many understood my thoughts, this all stopped when I contacted VSI, from the initial meeting through to the completed website I have been completely satisfied with all aspects of the development stage through to training and online support. I will certainly be recommending VSI.” – Steve McCormick, SMC Kitchens

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Celtic Manor launch new forum http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/celtic-manor-launch-new-forum http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/celtic-manor-launch-new-forum Fri, 12 Dec 2014 12:00:00 GMT Cardiff web design Celtic Manor launch new forum

Celtic Manor Resort has launched a new members discussion forum on their website, developed by Cardiff web design company, vsithinking. 

To ensure continuity with the other sections of the site, and based on the recent redesign of the resort's blog, the Celtic Manor Resort forum has a responsive design for desktops, tablets and mobile, to handle the increasing traffic from mobile devices. The forum is also integrated to the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts of the resort, increasing engagement with visitors. 

The forum has a range of features, designed with the requirements of Celtic Manor Resort in mind:

  • Customisable, add new rooms with just a couple of clicks
  • Users can personalise their accounts with biographies, username and avatar options
  • Options to ban users from posting, or logging into, the forum for a period set by administrators
  • Filtering of inappropriate language, controlled again by administrators
  • Tagged posts and threads to make them stand out in search results

The vsithinking forum is available to new and existing customers. If you would like to see a demonstration of the forum in action, please call or email us.

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10 Features of thinkCMS http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/10-features-of-thinkcms http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/10-features-of-thinkcms Sun, 30 Nov 2014 02:21:00 GMT Cardiff web design 10 Features of thinkCMS

At VSIthinking we're always working on improving thinkCMS, our Content Management System (CMS), to make adding and updating pages easier, faster, and more intuitive. We’ve recently added a whole range of new functionality which makes site updates a breeze. Here are ten great features of thinkCMS...

1. Adaptive Website Layouts

With the massive, and still growing, use of mobile phones and tablets for accessing web content it made total sense to build our newest CMS with scalability to suit to the user’s device. Our websites include mobile and tablet optimised versions which are able to utilise the same content and render it in a format ideal for the screen size. There’s no need to create new pages or content, our CMS will do all the work for you.

2. Touch Optimised Features

As a result of the rise of mobile usage, the fingertip is fast replacing the mouse; so we added touch enhancements to our websites. Banners can now be swiped to move through the images, menus and site searches are hidden until needed and form inputs will load the correct keypad for the job; all of this makes our mobile websites intuitive and user friendly.

3. Enhanced Usability

Moving into the CMS itself, to make updating your pages quicker and easier we’ve made efforts to declutter the toolbars, hiding lesser used icons and placing a focus on the commonly used tools. We’ve also made it simple to add complex styled elements in just a couple of clicks with a template insertion tool.

4. Translated Formatting

Most users take advantage of the formatting and spell checking options available in Microsoft Word and then transfer the content into the website; with some content management systems this can result in a loss of formatting, or a lot of unnecessary HTML being generated. The thinkCMS platform is able to automatically translate the formatting into the correct HTML tags resulting in clean HTML that looks the same as the original copy.

5. Add Rich Features

A website is often more than just text and images; widgets can be used to pull in content from elsewhere on your website, such as a blog feed or product listing. The thinkCMS makes it easy to add and tailor these widgets in just a few clicks.

It’s also simple to embed external content to your pages; the thinkCMS can easily embed video from sites like YouTube and Vimeo, it also supports HTML 5 video and audio as well as legacy content such as Adobe Flash.

6. Easier File Management

The document and image libraries have been improved in the thinkCMS, files can be dragged and dropped into the library and then associated with keywords to make them easier to find in future. We also have a date search facility to help you find older files which might not have any search terms.

7. Save as Draft

Another new feature in the thinkCMS is a drafting facility; this allows you to save your changes without updating the live page. This is ideal if your content needs final approval before being set live, or if you want to plan ahead and update the page ahead of time. It’s still possible to overwrite the draft and edit the live page so there’s no need to commit a draft if it’s no longer relevant.

8. Preview Your Changes

As well as a draft facility, we’ve also updated our preview tool to show you how your changes will look in the website without saving. The preview also offers emulation for mobile devices, so you can see how your site will look on different devices without having to build up a collection of phones and tablets.

9. Easier SEO management

Good search engine optimisation (SEO) is vital to helping your site position well on the natural search results and the thinkCMS will help you make the most from your pages. There’s a dedicated SEO tab which has a flag to let you know when this hasn’t been filled in. The keywords field also auto-suggests the keywords you’ve used before to make it easier for you to keep your keywords consistent.

10. In House Development Team

Not only do you get a great range of features, the thinkCMS also has great support. It’s not an off the shelf product with no assistance, the team at VSIthinking not only developed it but they use it on a daily basis.

As the thinkCMS is our own software it also allows us to customise and tailor the system to suit your needs, for example we could remove icons you have no use for, or apply user permissions to restrict access to site critical features.

Take a look...

If you’d like to see more of how the new thinkCMS platform could work for you, please contact us for a free demonstration.

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Web design for GRECON http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/web-design-for-grecon http://www.vsi-thinking.com/blog/web-design-for-grecon Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:00:00 GMT Cardiff web design Web design for GRECON

Grecon UK is an architectural stone company that needed a new website and turned to Cardiff web design company VSIthinking. With so many poorly designed and bland looking websites in the industry VSIthinking wanted to create a web design that stood out from the competition. The image driven website uses large background images of previous work and overlays content with HTML 5 and CSS 3 techniques.

The new website includes a mobile optimised design, for tablets and mobile devices. The mobile user interface includes the latest features found in industry leading mobile and tablet websites, such as menu control and responsive design. The mobile website is ideal for potential customers to view when on site and see the range of options from GrenconUK.

Content in the website is driven by our latest content management software, thinkCMS, which has a feature rich editor built into the site. GreconUK have full control over all aspects of the website and can easily add and manage pages and menus. One of the most useful features of the thinkingCMS content management software is the ease at which content can be transferred from MS Word, with a simple cut-n-paste. The thinkCMS will even correctly apply the relevant styles for copy and headings when content is pasted.

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