The Blog

5 Social Media Trends

5 Social Media Trends

Social media is constantly evolving, social platforms release new features regularly to constantly enhance the user experience. New trends mean marketers have to adapt to stay ahead of the competition. Here are 5 social media trends to be aware of…

1. Video

Video seems to be taking over Social media feeds lately. Have you noticed, for example, how your Facebook feed is now filled with video posts? Social media platforms are prioritising video content so if you want to be seen, think hard about the media you’re using.

Live streaming videos

Live videos are real-time video posts, rather like a live broadcast. Live videos can enrich our experience. Obviously it will help those who can’t physically be there to participate in an event as it happens. Video is a warmer, more personal way to engage with your audience while ‘live feeds’ can feel more life-like, especially with less-than-perfect production. In fact, a spontaneous feed with a great subject is often more powerful than well-produced recorded content.

Facebook is trialing short ‘ad breaks’ in live video, so clearly there’s a potential revenue model for the platform – and it would indicate a growth in the media’s popularity. Read more about how ad breaks could be inserted into Facebook Live streams.

Video uploaded directly to Social media

With the autoplay function, videos are incorporated seamlessly into the Newsfeed. Video uploaded directly to Social media tend to outperform other video linked from networks such as YouTube in likes, comments and shares. Businesses are taking note and uploading more of their own videos directly to social media.

Another change that Facebook is trailing to its mobile app is having videos automatically playing with the sound turned on. At the moment video, content plays automatically while muted, unless the user clicks on the video. What do you think about this potential feature? Read more about it here.

2. Social SEO

Businesses are using social media to gain greater visibility on search engines. Good content is a massive factor and utilising the right keywords, links and hashtags in your posts will help search visibility. As we mentioned in our SEO Trends – When you search a company, their social media links (Facebook, Twitter, etc) should appear along with their website.

Search engine optimization is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) — including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.

Social media sites are also encouraging users to post long form content by publishing posts directly on their platforms, for example instant articles on Facebook.

3. Real Time Marketing

Social media isn’t just about getting your message out.  It’s about connecting with your audience. Real time marketing is a strategy focused on current, relevant trends and immediate feedback from customers. Users expect a quick response to queries on social media and it gives brands a chance to protect their reputation by responding to public complaints.

Brands can utilize social messengers to engage in real-time with their leads. Platforms such as Facebook display a response rate which allows businesses to see how well they’re doing with handling incoming messages and improve their customer service. In future, chat messenger bots will likely make this scalable in new and fascinating ways.

4. Social Media Analytics

Social media analytics are easier to use than ever and play a key role in marketing decisions. Businesses are using analytics in an attempt to perfect campaigns specifically for their target audience. Tracking social media analytics is essential for figuring out what is and what isn’t working, ultimately saving you time.

By looking at analytics, marketeers can find out the optimum times to post content and receive a higher engagement rate.

5. Animated Gifs and Infographics

Animated images otherwise known as ‘Animated Gifs’ have been around for a while. In 2017, the gif will celebrate its 30th anniversary. The use of animated gifs has increased recently with more platforms being able to support them. Twitter launched the gif keyboard this year. Infographics and gifs are a great way to boost engagement and get more visibility. Animated gifs can also be used as profile pictures on some social media sites.

Taking advantage of some of these trends or simply being aware of them can help you to increase your presence on Social media. Are there any other trends that you would add to this list?

SEO Trends for 2016!

SEO Trends for 2016!

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimisation a website’s visibility on Search Engines.  Or as a Google search will tell you:

“Search engine optimization is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine – including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines.”

Essentially, effective SEO drives traffic to your webpage or website through organic online searches.

Search engines want users to have the best possible experience – and that means the most relevant results that deliver links to the best online resources.  So if your website provides your audience with a positive user experience (and that includes relevant content), you have a good chance of ranking higher in the search results. SEO tactics tend to adapt subtly in response to changes in search algorithms  (that is the evaluation criteria search engines use to rank a website’s relevancy) so what are the trends you should consider this year? Here’s what we think…

Local SEO gets even more competitive

Local SEO is, as the names suggests, the process of optimising results for your local audience, geographically speaking. Google gives local listings a high priority, so if your audience / customers are typically located nearby, it’s important to optimise your website content so it reflects your local setting. A user’s geographical location and search history are taken into account when a search is made.  The theory being; it provides the most relevant results for an individual user.  So targeting prospects in a specific area where a business is located (or multiple areas if you’re a multi-store business), will be more-and-more common practice for marketers.

Google my Business

Google my Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses to manage their online presence across Google – Find out more about Google my Business

google businessTip: If your business is listed properly and kept up-to-date on Google Business, smartphone users should be able to find your business quickly and get the address, directions, opening hours and phone number.

Google my Business displays a limited amount of results, which has been reduced recently. Google is not only showing fewer business listings but they have announced that ads are coming to the local pack, meaning results will show 1 ad and 2 local listings. Read more about Ads coming to Google Local Pack

Competition for the top 2 listings is going to increase.

Mobile ‘Friendliness’

mobile friendlyThe continued rise of mobile searches has increased the importance of a Mobile friendly website, and Google recently released an update making responsive design a prominent factor in ranking websites.  It’s becoming more-and-more vital for your SEO, and of course it delivers a more positive experience for your users.  Read more about mobile responsiveness in
our  Top 7 trends for 2016

Is your website mobile friendly? You can check here at Google.

Page Load Times

The page loading time is another factor that contributes to a website’s SEO because it affects the user experience. The page loading time is calculated on the time that it takes to fully display the content on a web page.

We’ve become accustomed to faster internet connections and devices so users expect pages to load instantly.  And they tend to abandon a website that’s slow to load – typically within a few seconds – which could cost you conversions / sales.  This will drive site owners to optimise their website performance.

Social Media

A good Social Media profile can help your SEO as popular Social Media content is indexed by search engines. Search engines consider your ‘social influence’, which is determined on your relevance, reach and the quality of your content. When you search a company,  their social media links (Facebook, Twitter, etc) should appear along with their website.

Rich Answers

Rich answers are the helpful, direct snippets of information you see for certain queries, including articles and videos.

Rich answers are on the rise giving users immediate answers for questions that previously might have led them to a website. If you provide the best answer, Google will put your answer in the snippet box giving your site the most visibility. 


Boson Rich answerExample of a rich answer

Other SEO trends

  • Animated content such as ‘gifs’
  • Voice Search
  • Videos 
  • Readable Urls
  • 301 Redirects

Systemagic. The thinking behind the brand

As you may have seen in the press, Boson recently helped Systemagic launch their new brand and website on the 1st of July. 

tom - systemagic

We really enjoyed this project and Systemagic have received overwhelmingly positive feedback.  So we asked Boson’s lead designer, Tom, what the thinking was behind the brand and what his favourite bits were during the project.


Firstly, who are Systemagic?

Systemagic are a South West based IT support company who pride themselves on their friendly, reliable team and steadfast client-focus.

Why rebrand?

Systemagic felt their visual identity (their website, logo, stationery etc) simply didn’t represent a modern, innovative IT company. Systemagic had built an excellent reputation, growing significantly in recent years, whilst the visual branding was falling further and further behind.  It was time it to catch up!

systemagic devices

What requirements did they have?

Systemagic wanted to rejuvenate their brand and create something they were really proud.  Something which encapsulated why they are different to other IT support companies. During our initial scoping meeting we came to the conclusion that the logo and website were key to achieving their goal;  a brand and presence that Systemagic were proud to shout about.

Where did the ideas come from?

First, explored what makes Systemagic distinct from their competitors – why their customers bought from Systemagic, and not someone else.  That led us to Systemagic’s core values – What is it about the way they see the world, that makes them unique?

It sounds simple, but it’s a really difficult thing to put into words.  

From that point, we started to define Systemagic’s core values:

  1. Personality – Systemagic’s team personality – their ‘friendly’ and ‘approachable’ values
  2. People, not technology lead

Once everyone agreed Systemagic’s core values and vision, our team proposed a number of different logo ideas.  

How did you arrive at the final design?

As with all our design projects, it’s important to work closely with our clients in all stages of the project. Systemagic were no exception and by involving themselves throughout the process, it became very much a partnership that resulted in the best outcome.

During the branding process we suggested a number of alternative logo ideas which varied in shape, font and colour to give a breadth of approaches for Systemagic to consider. We asked Systemagic to visit our offices regularly so we could present our different concepts and listen to their feedback.

There was a clear winner and Systemagic chose their favourite logo concept which we revised and tweaked into their new logo that you can see today.

systemagic logo

Take a look!

Transcend Consultancy Solution

Transcend Consultancy Solution

Transcend help to improve an organisation’s performance through effective change leadership. They asses characteristics and develop awareness of an individual’s behaviour in relation to leading change.  And help to develop wider individual skills within leadership roles. These results are achieved through a proven framework and an advanced algorithm, developed by Transcend’s experienced practitioners.

As Michael Thorley put it:

“We want more people to lead more effectively.  Our aim was to make our framework accessible to more and more people so we needed to reduce costs while enhancing the overall quality.”

Read More

Customer Portal, Coming Soon…

Customer Portal, Coming Soon…

At Boson, we’ve started work on something that we’re really quite excited about.  It’s early days, and I wanted to share it with you because I need to hear what you think.

We’re calling it our Customer Portal (that’s a working title for now) but you could think of it as a members’ area for your customers and staff.

Batman vs Superman

Batman vs Superman

Who would you pick? …Difficult eh! Everyone has their favourite, both have their own strengths, weaknesses pros and cons.

When potential clients come to us for website advice we often find ourselves exploring the ‘Wordpress Vs Boson CMS’ question. (CMS = Content Management System) It’s a similar process to picking your favourite hero! There are many elements that come into play to determine the outcome.

So, we’ve conjured up some handy tips below to help, if you find yourself in this predicament.

Reasons to choose WordPress:

  • If you (or one of your team) are familiar with using WordPress.
  • If what you need can come ‘out-of-the-box’.  i.e. you don’t have any bespoke requirements
  • If the are no plans to change the website and / or integrate business processes
  • If you want a LOT of flexibility when it comes to layout and customisation that you can do yourself
  • If you have a limited budget

Reason to choose the Boson CMS Framework:

  • If you want to expand your website at some point in the future in more unique ways
  • If you would  prefer a more simplistic, cut-down approach to content management
  • If you require bespoke web apps within your website
  • If security is important

Simply ask yourself the questions below to help you decide which approach is best for you:

  1. Do you have any bespoke requirements, unique to your business?
  2. What is your budget?
  3. Are you looking to expand in the future?
  4. Is it important to you to have an exclusive website, or is something more off-the-shelf appropriate?
  5. Who is going to be managing the website content?
  6. Is security important to you?

These principals can be applied not just to our CMS but to any bespoke CMS. Not only will they guide you in the right direction, but should help you make the correct choice for you….

But sometimes people just prefer Batman!

Improving the daily grind

Improving the daily grind

This week was a fantastic week at Boson HQ. We are fuelled by coffee, from sugary to milky, double espressos to lattés and the odd cappuccino. Coffee is at the heart of all of us and radiates through to our work. You can imagine the sheer joy when the new coffee machine arrived. The same excitement levels as a child at 6am on Christmas morning.

There was no funeral for the old coffee machine. The old machine had served us well but it was becoming a bit of a grind to use (pardon the pun). Let’s look at what we had to do just to make one cup:

  • Press button to heat water
  • Fill filter holder
  • Level off & press down
  • Attach holder to the machine (some times requiring several attempts to get it in the groove)
  • Wait for water to heat up
  • Place your cup under the nozzle while your cup fills (you must hold it as it vibrates off the edge)
  • Detach the filter holder, empty the contents and wash

Then you were free to enjoy your beverage. Unlucky if you are included a prestigious office coffee circle and it’s your ‘round’, you then have to repeat this process multiple times!

The new machine is amazing and certainly helps to keep the spirits high. Look how short the list is now:

  • Put one scoop of coffee or beans in the top
  • Press two buttons
  • Place your cup under the nozzle while cup fills

We all know the saying is ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it’ but if the upgrade is affordable and going to be more efficient, why not?! It struck me that’s a similarity between this time saving gadget and what we do day in, day out for our clients;

Does the principle apply to your business too?

If you are still completing onerous tasks, perhaps manually imputing spreadsheets and collating reports daily or weekly, could you change? Is time being wasted that could be better spent elsewhere?  Maybe it’s time for a new coffee machine?

P.S. Our client FTX Logistics, struggled with manual data entry; recording information into spreadsheets for weekly reporting. They radically changed that by creating an automated process – this case with an online timesheet systems. To read the timesheet app case study, click here.

Design: emotion or science?

Design: emotion or science?

In a world where content is king, and small business owners have filled the internet with sites designed by their 12 year-old nephews, website design has suffered. So to uphold the virtues of good design, I’ve come up with a few thoughts to help you navigate through it.

The first thing to consider when designing a website is space. Yes, that’s right, empty space. But empty space doesn’t mean just nothing. Empty space in its right place (small rhyme there), can visually strengthen the content you do have. Using space in design is important to bring focus to the right areas of your site. Don’t be afraid of space, it is a faithful, albeit neglected friend of good web design.

With any business site, it’s also important to honestly reflect your company and what you can actually deliver right now. If your site gives the impression that you are ten times bigger and better than what you actually can deliver, you will set yourself up for longer-term failure. The online consumer is becoming more and more intelligent, and they have immeasurable power to affect the opinions of others.

A good rule of thumb is not to jump too far ahead of yourself. Make your website design reflect where you want to be in two years time. Styles change over time, often having a shelf life of no more than two years. Make sure your site design changes with the times, keep it looking current.

One of the common mistakes made by people redesigning a business website is to get feedback on the design from all the wrong people. Friends, relatives and pets make good companions, but often the wrong choices regarding what is and isn’t appropriate for your business website. Make an effort to get feedback from people relevant to the business.

Ask yourself questions like: Who is my target market? Will this design appeal to them? Good brand recognition and marketing opportunities can come from getting some of your good clients together for their feedback in some kind of fun focus group forum.

Design is often touted as a subjective thing. Remember though, that design is not necessarily art. It has a mission to accomplish and it is a whole lot more technical than often perceived.

Good design will elicit an emotional response, but the process of good design is enhanced when business owners are willing to sacrifice certain emotional attachments.

How to buy a website

How to buy a website

Buying a website can feel a bit daunting. Unless you’re an expert, all the technical jargon can be overwhelming. You’re left wondering how on earth you’ll make the right choice.

The key to a smooth commissioning process is a little bit of thinking ahead. If you know what the web developers will need, it can make your life (and theirs) a lot easier.

Here’s are few tips on buying (or commissioning) a website:

  • Give the developers as much information as you can right from the start.
    Don’t hold anything back. Adding new information later will complicate things, adding to the time and cost of getting the new site up and running.
  • You don’t need to know geek-speak.
    Tell the developers what you want in plain English. A good web development company will translate what you need into technical specifications. To commission something, you say what you want the supplier to supply. Let them worry about the nerdy stuff.
  • Plan ahead a little.
    Before you go visiting web agencies, think about the questions they are likely to ask you.

We normally ask things like:

  • What business are you in?
    We want to know what sort of business sector you operate in. What’s your place within it? Give us a feel for the landscape.
  • What are the primary objectives of this website / web application?
    Think about what you are hoping to gain from the project – e.g. saving time, increasing sales, increasing your company’s profile, etc. Tell us simply what your goals and objectives are.
  • What’s your target audience?
    There may be more than one. List them all. Tell us about the audiences you want to appeal to, and why. Give us as much detail as you can.
  • Do you have an existing website you are looking to replace or upgrade?
    If so, tell us why. If there are aspects of it that are working fine, tell us what they are.
  • What features do you need?
    This can be tricky, because you might not know what features you need in advance. Will you want to update your site yourself, frequently? Will you be selling products online? Do your customers need access to any special services, multimedia files, or access to secure members-only sections? As I said above, you don’t need to know the geek-speak. Just tell us what you need, and we’ll tell you how we can build it. Feel free to ask us for advice at this point. If you’ve been able to tell us plenty of detail about your industry, your business, and your aims, we’ll probably have some suggestions.
  • Is there a brand or visual identity for the project?
    Make sure you pass on any brand guidelines as well as logos and other visuals.
  • Who are your competitors?
    What do you think of your competitors’ websites? Are there any other sites you particularly like? Tell us which ones, and why. Tell us about sites you don’t like, too. What is it about a site that annoys or frustrates you?

It will also help to consider the following:

  • Are there any important timings or deadlines that can’t be altered which will affect the website development schedule?
  • Do you have the resources within your team to stick to a schedule once its been agreed?
    You’ll need to allow time for progress meetings, adding content, and testing once development is complete.
  • How will you be marketing your new website?
  • How will you measure the project’s success?

OK, so that’s a long list of questions and things to think about. But it’s worth going through them; you’ll save yourself time, and your business money, if you plan ahead a bit before starting the commissioning process.

The Zend Framework

The Zend Framework

Typically, our online software is built on the open source platform ‘LAMP’ (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP 5) and developed using Zend Framework (ZF).

Lots of web developers use a framework to provide basic building blocks for a website or a software app. A framework is like a car engine, packed with parts. You can use standardised parts, or use your own custom ones. You could design and build your own spark plugs if you wanted to, but in most cases it will be much quicker and easier to use off-the-shelf spark plugs that you know will do the job.

Using a framework means you have lots and lots of parts to choose from, and a community of fellow framework users to discuss problems with.

At Boson, we settled on the Zend Framework back in 2007, and we’ve not looked back.

Zend is extremely flexible. You can build something solely in Zend, or just use the Zend components that suit the job. You can even mix-and-match Zend components with those from other frameworks, if necessary. There are Zend components for nearly everything, and if you find a need for something new – well, you can write your own.

Zend also comes with excellent documentation, an official certification programme, and a thriving community of users.

By choosing Zend as our framework, we’re giving ourselves the best of both worlds. We have the freedom to develop a new website or webapp in the way that best fits what our client needs.

There is a small price to pay for this freedom and flexibility – unlike other frameworks, Zend makes greater demands on us as developers. You need a certain degree of skill to use it. But we think that’s a price well worth paying if it gets us the programming tools we need to do the job properly.

That’s why we use Zend.