Providing your website’s visitors with a great user experience (UX) is a challenge. Especially for corporate websites that require sophisticated features and functionality, this can be an ongoing struggle. But it’s a challenge you need to solve if you want to stay relevant and remain competitive in today’s digital business landscape.
Usability is the measurement of how easy or difficult your website is to use for your audience. Good usability makes the experience of using your website as convenient and simple as possible for all your site’s visitors.
Despite the obvious value of this, usability is often neglected by businesses when building a website. That could be because you don’t have the time or budget to follow best practices, you don’t have the in-house design expertise, or you simply aren’t aware of just how important usability is today. Whatever the reason, you can’t afford to take the risk of releasing a site with a poor UX.
Understanding the Importance of Web Usability
You’d be amazed by how many websites these days fail to give their users an experience that delivers on their basic expectations. If your website falls in that category, poor usability may have an influence on whether your users adopt or reject your site. This could be the difference between a visitor abandoning a poorly designed page or sticking around and converting to become a customer.
So, how do you ensure your website doesn’t end up on this ever-growing list of failures?
The key is to focus on your users’ needs, and put yourself in their shoes when planning, designing, and developing your site.
Even if your site isn’t customer-facing, good usability is also crucial for internal systems. Employees are users too, and their adoption – or rejection – of your technology will also have an impact on your business.
This is easier said than done, we know. That’s why we’ve provided a selection of tips and advice to help you overcome this challenge.
How to Improve the Usability of Your Website
1 – Keep it Simple
Whenever you’re thinking about UX, always follow the rule that simplicity is best. If a website has a design or functionality that’s complicated, its usability will suffer. Try to keep things as simple as possible at all times.
2 – Nail the Fundamentals
While some design choices, like colour and font, can be argued as subjective, there are certain aspects of usability that are more objective. Getting the fundamentals right will help you ensure you’re delivering great usability.
For example, optimising your site to ensure its pages load quickly, organising your pages with proper headings and sub-headings, making sure clickable buttons and links stand out, avoiding making any text or touch-points too small, even providing clear, useful error messages, and so on.
3 – Adhere to Accessibility Guidelines
Usability shouldn’t be confused with accessibility. Accessibility’s purpose is to make all technology accessible and easy-to-use for everyone, equally, with a significant focus on those with disabilities and other difficulties.
To ensure your website meets the current requirements for accessibility, you need to follow a set of principles and standards known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), linked here.
If you’re working with an agency, they should have best practices for accessibility already incorporated into their approach. Make sure you check this anytime you’re evaluating agency partners for a website project.
4 – Learn from Experience
We’re all users of websites, and we all know how it feels to encounter a frustrating UX. Use your own experience of this to try and build empathy for your users and what they might like and dislike. Any time you come across a website that gives you a bad experience online, make note of this and ensure you don’t allow similar problems to creep into your own site.
5 – Don’t Make Assumptions
While the previous point is important, it’s also crucial to realise it’s not enough. Using your own experience will only get you so far and, in some cases, it could even cause additional problems.
Remember that usability is dependent on delivering for your target audience’ personal preferences when interacting with your website. It’s always risky to assume you know how your users think and feel.
Don’t make decisions about design and functionality without considering who the target users are and what they need from their experience. This leads us nicely into the next point.
6 – Test With Real Users
It’s always necessary to test the usability of your site with real people who are part of your target audience. The best way to ensure your website will provide a great UX is by asking real-life users to test it out, collect their input, and put that feedback into the final version. This is known as usability testing, which is a phase of the design and development process that every successful project requires.
7 – Know When to Ask for Help
All of these tips are helpful to be aware of, but for the average business they can be daunting and difficult to put into practice. That’s why the majority of large businesses with outstanding websites have worked alongside a specialist agency partner with expertise in user-centric design. To ensure your site has great usability, it’s often necessary to find the support of an agency who has proven experience delivering similar projects successfully.
Usability Should be a Priority
Usability is crucial to the success of any website, but it’s something most businesses are still struggling to get right. Ultimately, though, your users are the ones who will determine the success or failure of your investment.
You have to put yourself in their perspective when designing and developing your site, and that includes getting real people’s feedback and approval. Only then will you create something that meets your target audience’s expectations for speed, convenience, and simplicity.
If your website provides a clunky or frustrating UX, most users today won’t hesitate to go elsewhere rather than waiting around to complete their task on your site. If that task in question is purchasing a product or service, you’ll see that poor usability will eventually begin to have a negative impact on your business.
Following the tips and best practices listed in this article will help you avoid that trap and create a UX that’s better than most websites. Doing that will begin to drive positive outcomes like greater adoption rates, improved customer retention and loyalty, and a stronger return on investment.
To continue learning with a deeper dive into the topic of web usability, including more insight into its principles, additional guidance on design best practices, and current trends and future predictions, read our related article here.
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- A fully-managed service with 24/7 support
- Automated monitoring and alerts
- Back-up and disaster recovery
- 99.99% up-time
- 100% pass-rate for data centre audits.
- Auto-updates – When your platform’s software is automatically updated, changes in the code can cause new security weaknesses to arise.
- Plugins – Using WordPress plugins from untrustworthy sources, or neglecting to update and maintain your plugins properly, can also cause security issues.
- Review the results and analysis of any previous tests (if there are any)
- Define the scope of the testing, including which tests will be performed
- Gather all necessary data and information on the system to conduct the testing
- Determine the criteria of success or failure for the tests.
- Use automated tools to scan for vulnerabilities and identify weaknesses
- Attempt to exploit the identified weaknesses
- Repeat the tests with different types of user roles and permissions
- Measure the outcomes against criteria for success or failure
- Create a report on the outcomes and results of the tests.
- Review the reports and analyse the results
- Remediate and resolve the vulnerabilities that were able to be exploited
- Re-test the vulnerabilities to ensure remediation was successful.
- Quality Assurance Testing
- Migration and Launch.
- Website Data
- Target Audience
- Industry Landscape
- Your target audience now has a shorter attention span, and less patience when browsing websites and services online
- Your target audience also has more choice of options than ever before when choosing who to buy from.
9 February, 2023
10 Tips to Improve WordPress Security and Minimise Risks
Cyber security and data protection should be top priorities for your business right now. Of course, this is particularly important for large businesses, and those in strictly regulated industries like financial services, where the outcome of a cyber attack or data breach can be catastrophic.
As these security concerns continue to intensify, you must be increasingly careful and vigilant about the technology solutions you use. You should also take more proactive steps to ensure everything in your tech stack is built and managed in a way that minimises your risks.
When it comes to WordPress, there’s a common misconception that the platform isn’t secure enough for large businesses. This misunderstanding tends to come from the fact that it’s free-to-use, so it was originally more popular among smaller independent businesses and B2C blogs.
Today, however, WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system (CMS), and for good reason. Considering a significant percentage of that user base includes global enterprises, you’d think such popularity would be enough proof that it’s a secure platform.
On the contrary, large businesses still ask us on a regular basis, “Is WordPress secure enough for us?”
Is WordPress Secure?
The answer to that question is, yes, WordPress is a secure, stable platform, even in its “out-of-the-box” state. WordPress’s core code is thoroughly tested and quality-checked by a team of security experts continuously. Not only that, but the same team regularly releases security updates and reinforces any potential weaknesses before they can be capitalised on by cyber criminals.
In fact, the speed at which security updates are implemented in WordPress is arguably the fastest in the world today when compared with other CMSs.
Additionally, WordPress is open-source software, meaning all its code is available to the public. Users are constantly suggesting changes and updates, often to fix bugs in the code and minimise opportunities for cyber criminals. This keeps the platform safe and secure for everyone else.
But while WordPress does have the ongoing support of some of the most talented and devoted developers in the world, it’s not immune to security vulnerabilities. No software is, unfortunately.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of, and work with, some fundamental best practices for security. Listed below are some steps you can take to further strengthen the security of the WordPress CMS.
Best Practices to Strengthen WordPress Security
1 – Secure Hosting
The hosting service you choose for your platform will determine how secure and well protected your data will be.
It goes without saying that WordPress should be hosted in a secure environment, overseen by an experienced provider who prioritises security within their services.
Some things you should consider essential for a hosting provider include:
Before choosing your hosting provider, do plenty of research to ensure they’re able to provide these measures. Most businesses will work with a development agency partner for WordPress, and that agency should be able to help you with this process.
2 – Back-Up and Disaster Recovery
Following on from the previous point, any good hosting provider should also offer back-up and disaster recovery services. These are like safety nets that will allow you to protect, save, and recover all your data in the event of any losses.
3 – Be Careful with Plugins
Plugins are a great way to enhance the WordPress platform with new capabilities and features. But you should only ever use plugins from reputable, credible sources, otherwise you could experience security problems.
It’s also important to keep all your plugins regularly tested, maintained, and updated. Again, this is an area where a WordPress agency partner will help you.
4 – Always Keep Your Platform Updated
When you’ve built a website with WordPress, you’ll often receive software updates from the platform. Any time this happens, it’s because a bug has been fixed or some improvements have been made to the software.
Keeping up with these updates is so important from a security perspective, because they’re designed to keep your site secure. By letting your site run on an outdated version of the platform, you leave yourself at risk of a known issue being exploited by a cyber criminal or some malware.
This is another thing that a good agency partner should take care of for you, so you don’t need to worry about keeping your platform up-to-date.
5 – Never Auto-Update Your Plugins
You have the option to enable auto-updates within your WordPress platform. While this may seem like an easy way to keep your CMS up-to-date, doing so can create technical issues and security risks that simply aren’t worth the convenience.
Each plugin you use will have its own button for you to turn auto-updates on or off. Any good agency will advise you to turn those auto-updates off and instead opt for a more secure approach to your updates, to maintain the resilience of your platform.
6 – Use Security-Specific Plugins
Another way to reinforce the security of WordPress is by implementing security-specific plugins like WordFence, Sucuri, or Defender Pro.
These handy tools will do a lot of the hard work for you, monitoring your platform and spotting potential vulnerabilities so you can fix them before they’re allowed to have any negative impact.
7 – Enable SSL
A secure sockets layer (SSL) is a protocol which encrypts the transfer of data between your website and your users’ browsers. Enabling SSL makes it more difficult for cyber criminals to steal or compromise data online. Don’t worry, though, as this will be taken care of by your hosting provider as a standard practice.
8 – Avoid Tools that Open Direct Access to Your Site Database from the Dashboard
Some tools and plugins will enable direct access to your site’s database from within your CMS dashboard. While this can make certain aspects of website management easier for you, it also creates security vulnerabilities. This is something you should always avoid, because these additions are often severe security risks.
9 – Encourage Your Users to be Mindful of Security
The biggest security risks, and many opportunities for cyber criminals, come from unsafe user behaviour, poor platform maintenance, and badly built sites.
Your behaviour, and the behaviour of your end-users – and your agency – should always be mindful of security. If it’s not, sooner or later you’ll encounter problems. Some security best practices you can introduce include making strong passwords compulsory for all users and implementing measures like two-factor authentication.
10 – Find a Trustworthy Agency Partner to Support You
We understand that following all these steps sounds like a lot of work. Of course, when you’ve got your own job to focus on, the last thing you need is to be spending time struggling through complex website security processes.
That’s why it’s so valuable to find a reliable, trustworthy agency partner when using WordPress to build and manage websites. A good agency will ensure everything is secure and up-to-date for you, so you can spend more time providing outstanding services and experiences to your customers.
It’s always worth taking time to find an experienced agency with a strong track record of building robust, secure sites, to give you the peace of mind you deserve. That means they should handle your secure architecture, testing, monitoring, updates, and ongoing support for you as part of their services.
Being Truly Secure is an Ongoing Process
When you’re selecting a content management system (CMS) to build critical digital assets like your website, security must be a top priority. It’s for that very reason more and more large businesses are looking to WordPress as their platform of choice.
However, it’s equally important to choose an agency you can trust, and one that has these security best practices incorporated into their approach. This doesn’t just stop at the delivery of your website, either. True security is a constant ongoing process, and your agency partner should help you through that.
Following the tips listed here will give you everything you need to build a resilient, secure website on WordPress, suitable for the enterprise.
Interested in learning more about WordPress? Discover how a global enterprise achieved game-changing results by using WordPress to build a secure, innovative, bespoke solution. Check out the story of RedeWire from Rede Partners LLP here.
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4 January, 2023
SoBold’s 2022 Round-Up
As we’re now into the first week of 2023, this feels like an appropriate time to reflect on what was another thoroughly successful year for SoBold in 2022.
We’re now working with enterprise clients and providing them with excellent website design and development services. We’ve also continued to grow our client base and are proud to have consistently produced outstanding work on their behalf throughout the year.
We’re pleased to have strengthened our presence in the healthcare and financial services industries. Now, we’re looking forward to building and managing more scalable products for our clients in the year ahead.
Our High-Performance Team
The definition of “high-performance” will vary from person to person, and you may have your own idea of what it means to you. For us, as an agency, it means every member of our team holds each other accountable to always perform at the highest possible level, so we can achieve a standard of excellence for all our clients.
We’ve used “high-performance” as a core value of our company since day one, and have worked very hard over the years to build a “high-performance” team. In 2022, this continued to develop and has allowed us to push those standards even higher, which is something we take a lot of pride in.
We were excited to see all three of our business teams grow in 2022: design, development, and operations. Over the past year, we also made a conscious effort to ensure the whole agency is working closer together as a more functional unit, for the benefit of our clients.
As the team has grown, we’ve had to implement more processes, which has allowed us to scale, and will enable us to continue to scale, as we move into the next cycle of our business.
Congratulations to Ivo Georgiev, who’s coming to the end of a successful apprenticeship scheme, which he did with us and the help of QA’s Tech, Digital, and IT Apprenticeship.
The SoBold Website!
In 2022 we launched our new SoBold website. Finding time to do this while continuously delivering projects for our ever-growing client base was a challenge, but one I’m really proud of the team for managing so well. We used this as a beta project to roll out a new SoBold workflow, and whilst there’s still some way to go to perfect this, we’re really happy with how it’s looking on the front-end!
Every member of the team worked on this in some way or another, and we’re already getting considerably more inbound leads and exposure from it.
We’ve been working hard on becoming more active in the online community as well, and this is notable particularly over the last quarter where we’ve increased our marketing. We were fortunate to be interviewed by Cloudways, who are a cloud hosting service provider we work closely with, and you can see this interview here.
Clutch has continued to be a new business driver for us and our profile has gained more exposure amongst the country’s best website design and development businesses.
We’ve also begun producing a selection of in-depth guides and blog articles to help our community more easily navigate the current technology landscape. You can find all that useful content on our blog.
We’re grateful to have worked with so many wonderful people from some brilliant clients over the past 12 months, and have built an array of different sites each with their own unique brief and challenge.
If you’d like to gain insight into the process we follow with our clients for project briefings, check out this recent article, which also includes a helpful brief template.
This is a great chance to showcase below some of the work we’re most proud of in 2022, for a selection of companies who are doing some very interesting things to make positive change in their respective industries:
Built and Live
Jamie and the Jam – Jamie and the Jam conceptualise, create, deliver, and manage beautifully bespoke content for their clients and their audiences.
Amplitude Clinical – Amplitude is a leading UK Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) and clinical outcomes platform.
Arenko – Arenko is a market-leading technology provider enabling the clean energy transition.
Dictate.IT – Dictate.IT helps healthcare organisations across the UK and Ireland harness the power of speech to deliver seamless, efficient, and effective document management.
Edgerley Simpson Howe – Edgerley Simpson Howe are specialist out-of-town retail, leisure, and commercial roadside property consultants.
Pippo – Pippo lets you book your GP appointments whenever and wherever suits you.
Common Purpose – Common Purpose offers exceptional personal training in the heart of Mayfair. If you’re looking to start with a new gym or PT in the new year, Common Purpose are your guys to speak to!
Still Waiting to go Live!
Coller Capital – Coller Capital is one of the largest global investors in the private equity secondary market.
Healthlink – Healthlink connects more than 15,000 medical organisations across Australia and New Zealand.
Konnect Net – Konnect Net helps businesses in the insurance and health sectors exchange data in a quick and secure way.
There’s also a handful of special clients listed below that want to highlight, either because of the longevity of the relationships or the positive impact our work has made on their businesses:
Kapow Primary, whom we’ve been working with since 2018, is now used in almost one third of all UK primary schools, with over 30,000 primary school teachers using the Kapow Primary platform each week.
Our amazing Kapow team has been working on some really inspiring projects over the past few months particularly, and we cannot wait to share more when we publish these live.
You can learn more about our work with Kapow, and how we first started, in our case study here.
We started working with Rede Partners in late 2019 to help bring their vision ‘RedeWire’ to life. RedeWire is a new interactive online limited partner (LP) portal, providing instant access to Rede’s current fundraising offering.
RedeWire has had a closed launch, so we’re really excited for it to launch to their wider audiences in Q1 of this year.
Transport for London
Transport for London has renewed its cookie management contract with us for a fifth successive year. This highlights not only the great work we’re doing with them, but the importance of the relationship we’ve built with them.
We’re proud to have been working with Clanwilliam since 2017, and our relationship has flourished each year since then. We initially started working with their Global HQ, before being rolled out across their three divisions Clanwilliam Ireland (site being redesigned in Q1 2023!), Clanwilliam UK, and Clanwilliam ANZ.
We work with over 15 of their brands designing, developing, managing, and hosting their websites. We also work closely with these brands to help them with their branding and print design activations.
2022 saw Clanwilliam take a major shift in their global brand, choosing us to help them rebrand from Clanwilliam Group, dropping the ‘Group’. We worked closely with their Global Brand and Communications Director, Lauren Turner, to help bring this to life.
We all went into the process looking to rebrand Clanwilliam in its entirety, changing the logo and creating a completely new brand. However, we quickly realised the logo was going to stay and the brand needed to change around this.
We uplifted Clanwilliam’s colour pallet and fonts, creating a new brand that much better reflects their company’s values and ambitions.
You can see a more detailed case study about what we did here.
It’s Not All Websites Though!
Our talented Graphic Design Team was busy in 2022 too, across multiple rebrands and supporting various Knight Frank divisions. Some of our Knight Frank work is highlighted here.
We’ve also successfully managed to move all our clients into our Positive Park Hosting environment, which is based in Cambridgeshire. This has meant all our sites are running on a more optimised and bespoke server, tailored to their needs. Our VIP enterprise-grade support at the hosting park has made a positive impact, ensuring all our clients have peace of mind that their sites are secure and stable.
The hosting environment is an eco-friendly data centre that uses 100% renewable energy and is certified by the Green Web Foundation.
You can learn more about our hosting solution on our WordPress Website Hosting service page.
In addition to working with our clients, we’ve also been working hard on improving our processes, becoming more compliant and becoming a more reputable company across the board.
We became ISO 90001-compliant in 2022 and have successfully put our project management systems in place. Our Project Manager, Anna de Moraes, has been instrumental in implementing processes to optimise our workflow, and she’ll continue to drive the business forward into 2023.
We were absolutely delighted to work with Nation.Better to get a Skilled Licence VISA sponsorship as well, which opens up opportunities for us to hire more global talent. This is something as a business we’ve been looking forward to for a while now. Getting this licence and already hiring two people, and giving them the opportunity to work in London, is something we’re really proud of.
2023 and Beyond!
2023 is only going to be bigger and better for us here at SoBold. We have big plans to execute on our hiring strategy and intend to grow the team across all areas of the business. Doing so will help us continue to improve the service we provide to our clients.
We’ll continue to work with key clients in our industry focuses: healthcare, finance, real estate, and SaaS. As we work with more medium to enterprise-sized clients, we’re confident we’ll become more recognised as the High-Performance WordPress agency.
Thanks for reading. We hope you have a great year in 2023!
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24 November, 2022
SoBold obtain Skilled Worker Sponsorship Licence
SoBold are delighted to announce that we have obtained a sponsor licence in order to sponsor international skilled workers to come and work at SoBold.
SoBold have always put heavy emphasis on hiring the best global talent for our needs, and we have strengthened our ability to do this by obtaining a Skilled Worker Sponsorship Licence.
With all sponsorship licences that the Home Offices grants they need to be reassured that the sponsors can live up to the “significant trust” that the department places in them. The Home Office further made checks that SoBold is a “honest, dependable and reliable” workplace, and capable of meeting the responsibilities that it expects from sponsors.
Since being granted our Skiller Worker Licence, we have been fortunate enough to put it to use to hire two new team members.
Anna de Moraes, joined SoBold, from Portuguese company, SpringParrot. Anna had been able to work remotely, and was living and working from the UK, when she got in touch with SoBold. Anna, who is natively from Brazil, said of the process:
“The steps were pretty clear and the whole process was quite simple. I’ve had friends waiting years for their visas to be approved while we were able to complete everything in a short period of time! I was already excited to start and, in a blink of an eye, I was finally part of the SoBold team!”
More recently, SoBold hired Santosh Gajera as a Back End WordPress Developer. Santosh has relocated from India in order to provide his services to SoBold. When asked about the process behind him getting his Skilled Worker VISA granted, Santosh said:
“To keep my IT career moving forward, I needed sponsorship from an organisation that sponsored my visa. SoBold has been an invaluable help in obtaining my Tier-2 (Skilled worker) visa. I am very thankful to their hard work and professionalism. My documents were handled very scrupulously by them, and they provided full support throughout the whole application process . I got my visa approved in two days, which is amazing, and they handled everything for me.”
SoBold worked with all-in-one digital platform, Nation Better in order to achieve our sponsorship licence and the process was streamlined, affordable and transparent.
SoBold already have a diverse talent pool, with staff from all over Europe, and with the help of Nation Better, we have been able to improve the way in which we hire international talent and open up opportunities further afield. We look forward to continue growing our team with exceptional overseas talent and have access to a wider talent pool.
SoBold Managing Director, Will Newland said:
We are absolutely delighted to welcome both Anna and Santosh to the SoBold team. Without our Sponsorship Licence we would be missing out on a large pool of talent that is the future of our business. We very much look forward to continuing to use our Sponsorship Licence to our advantage and giving skilled employees the opportunity to come and work here at SoBold.
For more information on what current vacancies we have, please visit our website careers page.
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14 July, 2023
A Guide to Penetration Testing: Strengthen Your Website Security and Minimise Risk
Penetration testing, often abbreviated as pen testing, is an essential process to ensure you maintain a safe and secure website. But what exactly does pen testing involve, and how can you rest assured your agency partner is covering all potential vulnerabilities for you?
This article will provide a detailed guide to penetration testing, helping you minimise your security risks and ensure your website is fully protected.
In a recent series of articles published in our resource library, we provided an in-depth explanation of the end-to-end process of building a high-performance, enterprise-grade website. (If you’d like to read that series first before learning about pen testing, you can start here).
After you’ve worked with your agency partner to successfully build your website, you’ll also need to ensure your site is protected from cyber security threats. With that in mind, you should understand the important role that pen testing plays in effective website security and maintenance.
What is Penetration Testing?
Penetration testing is a form of website testing that’s used to identify security vulnerabilities When conducting pen testing on your site, your agency will simulate a range of cyber attacks that could be used by cyber criminals or malicious software (malware).
The purpose of this is to identify security weaknesses within your site and take action to prevent them from being exploited in the real world. This approach goes beyond basic tests, as it doesn’t just list the vulnerabilities, it examines how they could be exploited and helps to prevent that from happening.
Why is it Crucial for an Agency to Conduct Penetration Testing?
Website security is critical in today’s digital business landscape. Cyber security threats have become highly intelligent and sophisticated, now capable of penetrating even the strongest security networks.
The outcomes of a cyber attack on your website could be catastrophic, either through sensitive data being stolen, lengthy losses of business continuity, or even reputational damage.
Remember, your site’s security isn’t just vital to you as a business, it’s also something your clients need assurance with when they agree to work with you. You should be taking as many proactive steps as possible to ensure your security measures are rigorous enough to match high levels of risk.
Covering All Bases for Robust Security (in WordPress)
It’s useful to be conscious of the common security weaknesses and pitfalls cyber criminals typically aim to take advantage of.
Security vulnerabilities can be created when your website is running on outdated versions of your platform, or if something hasn’t been configured or integrated properly. Other common pitfalls include weak authentication measures and insufficient protection from the perspective of your users.
With platforms like WordPress, there are some areas in which less experienced agencies could allow security vulnerabilities to creep in as well. For instance:
This is one of many reasons why it’s important to work with an experienced agency partner who has proven platform-specific knowledge and expertise. Your agency should know your CMS of choice inside out, and should therefore be well aware of all the most common security pitfalls and targets for cyber attacks.
What Does Effective Penetration Testing Involve?
To conduct pen testing, your agency’s security experts will run through a process that attempts to penetrate your site’s security measures.
This is usually done in stages, as follows:
1 – Planning and Preparation
2 – Running the Tests
3 – Post-Testing
The Benefits of Thorough Penetration Testing
Working with an agency partner who can support you with ongoing pen testing is a necessary step towards gaining enterprise-grade security for your website.
Technology changes so quickly today. Your platform receives updates regularly, your site is always growing, and cyber criminals are constantly finding new ways to breach your defences and gain access to your data. Penetration testing allows you to keep the pace with new emerging vulnerabilities.
Conducting regular pen testing can also help improve client relationships and create competitive advantages as well. In certain industries, a demonstrable commitment to security will be greatly appreciated by your target audience. This can help to differentiate you from the competition and provide the trust required to attract more prospective clients to work with you.
Website Security is a Never-Ending Battle
While every business with a website faces tremendous security risks today, this is a proven process that can help to minimise that risk and give you the confidence you need in your site’s security.
Any agency partner you work with should have the knowledge and expertise to understand the importance of pen testing, and should insist on making this an integral, ongoing part of your site’s maintenance.
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18 April, 2023
Exploring the End-to-End Process of Web Design
In this article, we’ll outline the end-to-end steps of what takes place in a thorough user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) web design process and discuss what modern web design requires to be successful.
You may have read our in-depth guide to creating a brief for a web design and development project. A brief can be used to capture all your ideas and requirements before discussing your project with any web design and development agencies.
Once you’ve completed your brief, and evaluated your options for agency partners, you’ll be ready to launch into your website project.
An end-to-end website project is typically organised into phases, which will usually be structured as follows:
We’ve provided a detailed breakdown of these phases in a recent series of articles. This series is intended to give you a clear understanding of the full end-to-end process involved when working with an agency to design and develop a website. This will help you remove any apprehension heading into this kind of project and set you up for success.
The Current State of Web Design
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”Steve Jobs, Co-Founder and former CEO of Apple.
While web design does focus on the visual aspects of the site, there’s a lot more to it than just the aesthetic elements like colour schemes and typography.
Web design is a complex blend of branding, user experience (UX) design, user interface (UI) design, graphic design, content creation, layout and structure, accessibility, and much more.
The design of your website needs to be visually attractive but, more importantly, it also needs to be simple and easy-to-use. Your website needs to find the perfect balance between supporting your strategic objectives and serving your clients with a seamless experience. Of course, that’s much easier said than done, which is why it’s so important to find an experienced partner you can trust to guide you through the process.
Outlining the Web Design Process
Phase 1 – Research and Planning
The phase that underpins EVERYTHING!
A good agency will have absorbed everything in your project brief. They should also have worked hard to understand your perspective and your requirements from your website, before you’ve even agreed to work together.
Once you’re preparing to launch the project, the research and planning phase will then go beyond that initial information gathering exercise.
The objective of this phase is to define the full scope of the website, including its design, its features and functionality, its content, and everything else involved.
Your site will be discussed in extensive detail, and then research will be conducted into some key areas that will inform your design and development, such as:
Whether you’re making small updates to an existing design or completely rebranding your business, it’s equally important to use this research to inform every decision you make. That’s because every element of your site’s design must be made to support your business goals and serve your target audience with a great user experience (UX).
This research and planning phase is essential in enabling you and your agency partner to do that.
Phase 2 – Visual Exploration
This exploratory phase involves defining the most appropriate and effective visual direction to take with your site.
The main tool used to help determine the right visual identity for your website is a set of mood boards. These are a visual compilation of different options for colour, typography, structure, images, and other visual components that are used to tell your brand’s story through your website’s design.
A good agency partner will usually present around three mood boards to help shape the direction, then collaborate with you to narrow it down to one final version.
Visual exploration, like most processes within web design and development, will be collaborative and iterative. You’ll be presented with ideas by your agency partner, then given the chance to provide feedback across several rounds of revisions.
Phase 3 – User Experience (UX) Design
The UX design process is the phase in which you work with your agency’s UX specialist to create a blueprint of the website functionality.
This involves creating wireframes (either low-fidelity or high fidelity) that help you visualise the design and outline your website visitors’ flow through the pages into your main calls-to-action. This is the way the website’s design works strategically to drive outcomes that align with your business goals.
This phase takes place before working on the site’s visual design to ensure the two separate aspects complement each other.
Phase 4 – User Interface (UI) Design
From there, your user interface (UI) will be designed. The styles, fonts, and look and feel of the site from the mood boards will be applied to the wireframes.
Your agency will likely present you with a design for your homepage before moving on to the rest of the site. This will typically be done on a desktop screen size, but it can be done on mobile if you want to take a mobile-first approach. Once this is complete, it will then be designed across the relevant breakpoints.
After completing this process, your agency partner will be ready to enter into developing your website.
Making Complex Processes Simple
As technology continues to become more advanced, more and more of our daily lives now take place in a digital-first context. This means:
In order to succeed, your website’s design requires careful planning, research, and a strategic approach if it hopes to meet the demands of the modern client.
Working with a specialist design and development agency is a proven approach to ensuring you gain a website that meets your requirements and delivers on the expectations of your target audience.
Completing a process like the one outlined in this article will enable you to design a website that can become your clients’ go-to online source when they have a need.
As mentioned earlier, we’ve provided a step-by-step guide to each of these phases to make the process even easier for you.