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New company profile pages for LinkedIn

Published on October 17, 2012
Tags: Internet Communication

Users of the business social networking site LinkedIn may well have recently logged on to discover that company profile pages on the site have been given a slick new look and layout. The redesign is intended to help drive LinkedIn forward as the leading social network for business use in the face of increasing competition from mainstream social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Inspiration has certainly been taken from mainstream social networks, with the new header image on each company profile page looking remarkably similar to those used on Twitter profiles and Facebook pages. At 646px x 220px, the image is the main focal point when visitors first hit a company’s profile page. Businesses can also make status updates ‘sticky’, keeping them highlighted for up to 48 hours, which is particularly useful if you are trying to get an important message across using your LinkedIn company profile page.
In terms of the header image, companies will need to ensure theirs is bold and eye-catching, making the most of the large amount of screen real estate LinkedIn have provided for this use. Images do, however, need to be kept under 2MB in size. Your company branding can now take centre stage on your LinkedIn page.
Although the pages have been made far more attractive and visually appealing, the functionality of company information and employee relationships has also been improved, making LinkedIn infinitely more usable for you and your employees. It’s vital that you keep your company information up to date and provide detailed yet concise information for those who may be viewing your business profile page on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a great place to push your products and services and the new company profile pages update makes it easier than ever to get your message across to potential partners and clients. It even makes it easier to hire new members of staff and advertise employment vacancies through your company profile page and across the site. It is clear that LinkedIn have not only had an eye on the visual aspect of the social network when designing this new update, but also on the functionality and networking side of things. After all, is that not what LinkedIn is for?
There’s now no excuse for your business not to have its own company profile page on LinkedIn. If you do not already have one set up, it is quick and easy to do and will help brand your business on the social network with great effect. In the modern age of social networking, your company deserves to have a presence and will be able to reap enormous rewards through effective use of social networking and social media optimisation. The new, improved company profile pages on LinkedIn are just the tip of the iceberg.

By Chelsey Evans

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Facebook denies that private message bug ever existed

Published on September 28, 2012
Tags: Internet Security, Internet Communication

After rumours emerged on Monday evening that private messages were being displayed on Facebook users’ walls, the internet was up in arms about the latest privacy issue to be related to the social networking giant. A number of reports, most of which originated from France, suggested that messages from 2009 were being posted to users’ walls and were therefore visible to all users.

On Tuesday, Facebook came out and declared that this was untrue, stating that every message it had investigated was simply an old wall message which its users had forgotten about, therefore assuming they must have been private messages. The company said it had checked very report and found them all to be entirely false, adding: "A lot of the confusion is because before 2009 there were no likes and no comments on wall posts. People went back and forth with wall posts instead of having a conversation."
The users in France had been concerned that messages which appeared to have been sent between 2007 and 2009 were suddenly made public; something which alarmed a great number of Facebook users around the world. Facebook responded by saying that there was no way in which private messages could be published to a user’s wall due to them being handled completely separately by Facebook’s servers. Despite this, a number of users are still sure that a number of their wall posts were originally private messages.
The news comes on the same day that US financial publication Barron’s declared that Facebook’s public stock was only worth somewhere in the region of $15 per share - well below the flotation price of $38 per share; a price which has fallen drastically since the company was floated earlier this year. Shares ended down on Wall Street by 9.1% to $20.79, having fallen more than 11% earlier in the day. Although Facebook was only floated in May, its price has plunged more than 40% in just four months, worrying investors all around the world.
The social networking giant has not been without its recent controversy, much of which has been related to privacy issues which continue to dog the company. The introduction and implementation of a controversial facial-recognition tool which would automatically tag Facebook users in photographs uploaded to its website caused uproar in many circles, with a number of users saying it breached their privacy and control over their own photographs and which images would be available to their friends and work colleagues.
This week, Facebook announced that it was suspending the facial-recognition tool in Europe in order to concentrate its efforts on implementing changes recommended by the Data Protection Commissioner of Ireland last year. The tool will be discontinued for users in Europe by 15th October and is already unavailable to new users signing up for Facebook accounts in the interim. The feature was also criticised in Germany, with German data privacy authorities opening an investigation into the facial recognition tool.
The feature, named Photo Tag Suggest, uses facial recognition algorithms in order to work out who is in a picture based on previously-tagged photographs of that person. The system was introduced to make uploading and tagging photos much easier, as it is often seen as a time-consuming and laborious aspect of Facebook profile management. Users are able to opt out of using the feature, but critics have said this does not go far enough and have demanded that the database should be destroyed in its entirety.
For a company which was valued at over $100bn just four months ago, the road has been a rocky one and CEO Mark Zuckerberg certainly has a number of issues which he will need to address in order to assuage investors in his company, who are likely to be worried at the news of more controversy for Facebook and a number of problems which have meant that the stock price for the technology company has nosedived by over 40%. Many critics think the company will never manage to reach its flotation price and have advised against investing in the social media giant. Others, however, see it as a minor blip and are buying up shares at what they see as a rock bottom price.

By Chelsey Evans

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Social media: How to capitalise on the new side of the web

Published on September 21, 2012
Tags: Internet Communication

Although the vast majority of businesses will now have a website, many would love to get involved with social media but are either unsure as to how to start or, in many cases, do not fully understand or appreciate how social media can help their business.

When approaching social media, the first thing you should consider is what you want to get out of it. Are you simply looking to advertise your business or do you want to engage with customers and add a personal front to your business? Social media allows you to interact with your target audience and adds a human face to your company, which will help your reputation immensely. Social media is very easy to use once you know the basics, but it can be quite a time consuming pursuit, especially so in the early days. Early on, it can feel as though you’re getting nowhere but persevere as the rewards can be huge.
The main social networks to consider are Facebook, blogging platforms, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Each of these websites are distinctly different and have completely different purposes and functions. If social media is completely new to you, you should choose just one website to begin with and start off with a personal account - rather than a business account - so you can get a feel for the system before you dive straight in with your business account.
Twitter is particularly easy to find your way around, especially if you start by following people you know or your favourite celebrities or news feeds. Once you are familiar with the concept, you can begin to tweet yourself and join in the conversation. However, as Twitter is the fastest-paced of the social networks you will need to be sure you can check and update it regularly.
Facebook, on the other hand, allows you to set up a page for your company (be sure to do this as a Page as opposed to a Profile; they are completely different). Facebook will allow you and your company to post news, photos and other information to fans of your page. You can also create advertising campaigns through Facebook in order to promote your business. Blog platforms, such as Wordpress, are also a good way to post regular news although they can be quite complicated and limited in their scope.
YouTube is a dedicated video hosting platform, allowing you to post and share videos with other users. Posting videos or reviews of your products or interesting content could really help to promote your business to web users. A final mention must go to LinkedIn, a business social network which can help you to get in touch with people who work in the same field, or people who might be potential business contacts. It’s generally frowned upon to advertise blatantly on LinkedIn, although its whole purpose of being targeted towards business users can be very handy indeed.

By Chelsey Evans

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The New Google Privacy Policy

Published on March 2, 2012
Tags: Web Site Law, Internet Communication

It has been another busy week in the world of online privacy and Google is back in the spotlight with the launch of its new privacy policy. A significant update from Google is always something to interest web designers, and this example is no different.

This particular privacy update is supposed to, according to Google, get rid of inconsistencies in its previous privacy policies so that ‘we can make more of your information available to you when using Google.’ This means that Google is now better able to share users’ data between different services. For example, if you use all of your Google services while you are logged in, your search history could have an impact on the YouTube videos that are suggested to you.

The Google blog post announcing the new privacy policy gives the example of Jamie Oliver (bear with us). They say that, for instance, if you do regular searches for Jamie Oliver and you then search for recipes on YouTube, Google might take note of this and suggest his videos for you, or put up ads for his cookery books while you are using other Google services.

The impact of this is two-fold. One impact is that it can help to make services more convenient for users as their preferences will be registered across Google platforms. The other impact is that the changes are likely to make it easier for Google to target ads to web users.

Another impact of the new privacy policy, however, is that it seems as though Google may have fallen foul of EU laws and the EU is currently taking action to examine the policy. When the privacy update was first launched about a month ago, the data protection authorities in Europe expressed concern and suggested that Google ought to wait to implement the policy until an impact assessment had been carried out. However, as we can clearly see, Google have launched the changes anyway.

The concern of the European Union is that the Google privacy policy does not meet requirements with regards to ‘information provided to data subjects.’ The French data protection authority, CNIL, has been asked to examine the policy as a result. One of the main issues that have been raised is to do with the way the privacy policy has been worded; CNIL is worried that it is too general in the way it talks about Google services and the personal data involved. They are worried that this means normal web users will find it difficult to determine the details of the policy in relation to particular Google services.

Google has already tried to defend itself against the EU’s concerns, saying that they have already carried out an extensive awareness campaign to try and educate service users about the changes that are being implemented. They also argue that if you do not want your data to be shared across the different Google platforms, you don’t need to be logged into all of the services in order to use them. 

For example, you can use platforms such as YouTube, search and Google Maps without being logged in. There is also an option to go ‘incognito’ if you choose to browse the web using Google Chrome. Google also makes the point that you don’t necessarily have to operate all of your services from one single account – you can have different accounts for different services if you wish.

However, a counter-argument could run that this all serves to make privacy more complicated than it was before despite the fact it is supposed to simplify things; the new privacy policy automatically applies to everyone who uses Google’s services while logged in and there is no option to properly opt out of it. The only way to avoid the policy is to stop using Google’s services altogether. 

There are, though, some other things that concerned users can do to limit the amount of data that is linked across services. For example, they have the option to delete search histories and can view their Google Dashboard to see what data is held on them and where.

Despite this, there are still concerns. Even though Google carried out an awareness campaign, a poll carried out by YouGov found that 47% of UK Google users were still unaware of the changes. The EU action continues and there is worry from some campaign groups.

One thing we find ourselves wondering, though, is that even if people are concerned or don’t understand the privacy policy, is it going to stop people using Google services? We suspect probably not.

By Chelsey Evans

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Do Web Usage Trends Impact on Web Design?

Published on October 28, 2011
Tags: Web Design London, Internet Communication

Questions relating to human behaviour are always interesting and human behaviour in relation to the internet is no different. It’s always intriguing when surveys are released detailing how we tend to spend our time online – but what use do these surveys actually have? For most people, such things are largely for interest only; they provide a good snapshot of what is happening when and offer some entertainment (and possibly validation for our own internet habits).

But what about web designers? Can web usage trends have an impact on web design? Does knowing the percentage of people who use e-retail sites, for example, filter into ecommerce web design?

There isn’t really an easy answer to these questions, as the factors that impact on web design are numerous and so are not just based on how many people like to watch funny YouTube videos of cats (millions of them, if video viewing figures are anything to go by). Specific target audiences have to be kept in mind, as do the needs and wishes of businesses and others looking to start websites. Various regulations and rules have to be adhered to and the limits (and possibilities) of technology have to be explored.

So the issue isn’t simple, but arguably knowing how people like to use the internet can have some effect on certain aspects of website design. For instance, a 2004 survey found that people aged 18-29 were much more likely than people over 30 to use instant messaging services (59% compared to 33%). Information such as this can be used to influence the design of IM services: if you know that most of your users are aged under 30, it helps to focus your website design. Alternatively, it could inspire you to pitch your site design at an older, niche market.

Interestingly, the same study found that 65% of young internet users used the web to research new jobs, compared to 31% of older people. These figures are likely to be more equal now as more and more services move online, but they still provide an interesting insight into where people look for information – and could be useful if you were trying to decide how to pitch a new job vacancy website, for instance.

Of course, web usage trends are also interesting in their own right even without wondering how they might be able to help issues relating to web design. As an example, a 2011 US study found that 78% of adults (both men and women) use the internet. The study also found that people who earn more money are also more likely to be online: 96% of people with a household income over $75,000 had access to the internet as of May 2011, compared with 63% of those whose household income is less than $30,000. Young people were also more likely to be online (95%) than those aged over 65 (42%).

This also raises issues relating to the accessibility of the internet, as well as questions as to how people view it. For instance, are some people unable to use the internet because of how much it costs? Do younger people find it more relevant to their lives than older people?

Many studies have already been done on these important issues and many more are sure to be carried out in the future, but for now, let’s focus on changing web trends. In 2006, 2% of web users said that there was a video of them online. Fast forward to 2011 and that figure goes up to 10%. This also points us in the direction of other changes in web usage: social media is more popular now than it was five years ago and more businesses also have extensive online operations, both of which have helped contribute to the growth in videos online. The popularity of video sites such as YouTube also has a big part to play.

This suggests that there is a certain amount of responsiveness in the internet and web design; as trends emerge and start to become more prominent, they are developed further by designers and others keen to make the most of online potential. It also suggests that web users themselves are reactive and responsive to changes instigated by web design in the first place. After all, web habits can’t change and trends can’t start without someone creating them in the first place.

Overall then, web design and web trends are largely dependent on each other. They are both interesting to look at in their own right, but are arguably most useful – and most interesting – when seeing how they impact on each other and how one can spark a reaction in the other. As web usage continues to grow and evolve, it will be interesting to see the changes that come about as a result.

By Chelsey Evans

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