SoBold has continued to be an accredited Living Wage Employer and has formally made a commitment to ensure all new and existing staff contracts are renewed at the Living Wage rate as a minimum.
SoBold has been a Living Wage Employer since 2019 and they are committed to ensuring that all staff are treated fairly and remunerated fairly in line with the Living Wage Foundation.
The new Living Wage rates were announced on Thursday 22nd September 2022 and SoBold ensured that all staff pay is in line with this.
SoBold hope to see more agencies within the technology sector follow suit and become accredited.
SoBold Managing Director, Will Newland said:
We are proud of the people that work at SoBold and we truly care about them. Our staff have always been the life blood of our organisation and it is an absolute no brainer for SoBold to be a Living Wage employer.
Would you like these insights straight to your mailbox?
- You risk going through a long, expensive discovery and definition exercise that you could’ve done yourself internally for no cost.
- You risk being given a quote that’s too expensive, or a project timeline that’s longer than necessary.
- You risk receiving a service from the agency that doesn’t align with your request or meet your expectations. In turn, you’ll then have to spend even more time and money on a new project to get your original idea developed.
- How will you be backing up the site’s data?
- What level of data encryption do you need?
- How will users’ personal details be stored and protected?
- Will you have two-factor authentication?
- What password recovery process will there be for users?
2 March, 2023
Harnessing Your New Website’s Full Potential by Taking a Block-Based Approach With WordPress
Did you know you can use a block-based approach with your WordPress website to gain more value from the platform, with significant advantages in flexibility, scalability, and ease-of-use?
In this article, we’ll explain what blocks are, how they work, and how you can use them to build enterprise-grade websites quickly and efficiently, without compromising on quality.
WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world right now, and it has been for a while. Unfortunately, though, some people still have the wrong impression that it is a CMS that can only be used to build more simple websites that do not have any real complex functionality or integrations, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, WordPress is far more intuitive and robust than most realise. The fact that around 45% of all websites online today are built on the platform goes a long way to prove that. WordPress also provides more scalable, agile capabilities that are perfectly suited to building enterprise-grade websites if leveraged in the right way.
There are intelligent – but still very straightforward – ways to use WordPress that can unlock more value from the CMS. If done with the right guidance, this can make WordPress a far better option than the more traditional, rigid approach of building websites.
This is an opportunity most large businesses are currently missing out on. In this article, we’ll show you how using blocks is a more flexible approach that can provide you with a wealth of benefits.
Understanding How Using Blocks In Your Website Backend works
In 2018, WordPress released a new block-based design and editing user interface (UI), known as Gutenberg. Instead of the typical page creation and editing functionality of a CMS, where you’d input text and images into a rich text editor, you can now build your site by creating and using a set of components. Components are blocks of code which have pre-defined style and input types.
Each component is named, to denote what it is from the perspective of the front-end of your site on the web page.
Note: Some agencies only provide a list of block names, but here at SoBold we also provide screenshots of each block so you can see it first. This makes the process much easier and saves you a great deal of time.
Each part of each web page is made up of these components, as pictured below.
However, taking a bespoke approach, you can design and construct unique blocks that are entirely your own. Blocks or components can be built for you by your agency so they’re bespoke to you, your style guidelines, your design preferences, and so on. And, when building your site, you can go into your pre-built components and edit things, like changing background colours, adding images, adding text, and so on.
This can be set up for you by your agency, so you have everything you need to create, edit, and publish new pages with your pre-built blocks. Anytime you need to create a new page, you just have to pick the appropriate components and place them in the correct position to quickly and easily build the page.
The Business Benefits of Using a Component-Based Approach
Scalability is one of the greatest benefits of using these blocks, especially if you are wanting to continue to build out your sitemap and build out the content.
This scalability is where WordPress really shines, enabling simple, rapid, virtually limitless scaling of your website with a high level of accuracy. This is a cost-effective way of growing without having to compromise on the quality of your design.
Blocks provide you with a great deal of flexibility in building, editing, and structuring of pages as well. The ability to customise all your components, along with the intuitive drag and drop functionality, allows you to effortlessly adapt and expand on your website.
Building components, and repurposing them repeatedly across your website, is a highly efficient way of growing your site. It also makes it very difficult to make mistakes or take a wrong turn.
This efficiency of reusing blocks across your website will free up time for you to develop innovative new features, or focus on improving the service and experience you provide your clients.
If you have non-technical members of your team who would benefit from using WordPress, blocks will almost certainly improve the usability of the CMS for those people.
An easier design and editing function helps more members of your team create web pages within clear, pre-set brand guidelines. That’s another aspect that frees up more time and resources to focus on higher value tasks.
If you’re working with a design and development agency, this also makes it much easier for them to be able to train you and enable you to use the platform to manage your site.
All this efficiency and ease-of-use will enable you to achieve a faster time-to-market for new web pages, extensions of your site, or even entirely new websites.
That can, in turn, create competitive advantages for your business, particularly if your competitors are working with CMSs that are slower and harder to use.
Whether it’s you or your agency handling this, you can create and publish new web pages quicker than you could with any other approach.
Lower Costs and TCO
As a result of all of the above, you can reduce costs on development and design, and achieve a much better total cost of ownership (TCO) with the WordPress platform.
Something that takes an inexperienced agency days to complete with the classic design approach can be done in hours using bespoke blocks. This drastically reduces development costs and gives you a lower TCO in the long-term.
The Importance of Finding a Capable Agency Partner
As mentioned earlier, bespoke blocks provide you with a proven way to unlock more potential with WordPress and gain greater value from the platform. However, in order to do that, it’s important to find the right agency partner. You’ll need an agency with enterprise-grade expertise and a certain level of skill to guide and support you through this process.
Taking this approach to building WordPress websites is nothing new, but the real value here comes in creating blocks that are completely unique and specific to you, then enabling your team to use those to scale your site.
Many WordPress agencies may lean on the generic block editor. But to get this right, you should push beyond that to find a partner who can educate you on the opportunities of using a bespoke design system to build a high-performance website that’s effortless to manage and edit.
A great partner will also facilitate this for you in a way that ensures you have control, removing the risk of any users making mistakes with the flexibility of this system. You won’t need to worry about the integrity or quality of your site being spoiled because all your components will be built specifically to prevent that.
You’ll gain tremendous value from receiving an intuitive, quality website that you can easily grow at will, but one that’s also managed and supported by an experienced partner. Sticking to these blocks helps you stay within brand guidelines, adhere to best practices, and keep your site consistent.
You then have the choice to manage, edit, and expand your site yourself, or rely on your partner to do it for you quicker, easier, and more efficiently than they would with a traditional CMS.
Making the Most of Your WordPress Platform
Modern businesses today require a powerful, sophisticated CMS that can deliver great websites at scale with enterprise-grade performance. WordPress is a platform that’s built to provide all those qualities and more. Embracing this block-based approach is the most effective and efficient way to achieve that.
With a skilled agency partner to help you maximise the value your business gains from the platform, you’ll quickly realise just how well WordPress can deliver agile, intuitive websites.
If you’re in the process of evaluating platforms to deliver a bespoke web development project, check our comprehensive guide to assessing and selecting the right CMS here
Would you like these insights straight to your mailbox?
8 June, 2021
SoBold is a Proud Clutch 100 Fastest-Growing Company for 2021
Clutch is a B2B review and rating platform that spans the IT, marketing, and business services industries. The site annually holds an awards cycle to celebrate the best and brightest service providers from the aforementioned sectors. SoBold are delighted to be one of the Clutch 100 fastest-growing companies for 2021!
“The Clutch 100 growth lists represent the top service providers based on revenue growth over the years,” said Clutch Founder Mike Beares. “Their recognition is only possible because of their willingness to participate and their commitment to delivering the best services to their clients.”
“We are delighted to be recognized as a Clutch Leader. This award highlights our consistent project success and growth as a business,” said SoBold Managing Director, Will Newland.
Would you like these insights straight to your mailbox?
30 November, 2022
How to Create a Brief That Will Ensure Your Web Development Project is Successful
If you’re looking to build a website for your business, a proven approach is to work with an agency and have them deliver the project for you. This could be a bespoke website design and development agency or solely a website or platform development agency.
Before you approach an agency, however, you’ll first need to reach a clear, detailed understanding of your requirements.
This article will provide an in-depth guide to help you through the briefing process and ensure your chosen agency delivers your project successfully, including a free template you can use to create your own brief. This template can also be used for other types of development projects as well, including anything from an online portal to an internal training platform.
Where to Start
Whether you need to design and develop a new website, or rebuild or migrate an existing site, a natural first step is to take your idea to an agency with a view to launching a web development project.
However, it’s a common mistake to go to an agency too early with just a raw, under-developed concept. Rather than meeting with an agency prematurely, we strongly suggest going through the process of defining your specific requirements and creating a project brief first.
The first thing to do is hold a discussion with the relevant people internally. Talk through the idea, and try to define what it is you need and what you want to achieve with it. Get a clear picture of what that idea or a concept will turn into, but also think carefully about what it should do from the perspective of your end-users.
Once you have a more tangible understanding of what you’re looking to build, you should begin creating a brief.
This is a document outlining the key details and requirements for the project. It’s something you’ll need to take with you to your introductory meetings with the agencies you’re considering, as it will be a very useful tool in helping you explain your idea clearly.
A brief doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s just a simple written document that lists everything you want at this early stage. However, while a brief can be simple, it’s important that it’s as specific as possible too. The more detail you provide for your agency, the more chance you’ll have the project delivered on time, within your budget, and meeting your expectations.
Why Having a Brief is Crucial
There are some potential pitfalls to be aware of that could create challenges for you if you don’t create a thorough brief.
Unfortunately, some agencies will be willing to work with you without a detailed brief, glossing over important details and keeping the expectations and requirements vague. This is a red flag to look out for, as it will likely result in one of several outcomes:
A brief is what gives you and the agency a mutual understanding of the work that needs to be done to successfully deliver the project. Without that specificity, you might end up disappointed. That’s why it’s always wise to put some time and effort in up front before taking your idea to an agency.
Once you submit your brief, you may be invited to participate in a follow-up session to further explore the requirements you’ve listed. This is perfectly normal, and actually a good sign. Experienced agencies will want to talk through each of the elements of your brief with you to help determine the best possible way to deliver those in the project.
How to Create Your Brief
When you begin to discuss and plan the requirements of your project between your team, we recommend thinking carefully about the following points.
Please note: There are a lot of things that could go into a project brief, depending on how complex your requirements are, so we won’t include everything here in this article.
The Project’s Purpose and Goals
Start by thinking about what the purpose of the project is. There’s no use speaking to an agency until you have a clear, specific understanding of exactly what you’re trying to achieve with this project. This should relate to your strategic business objectives, but it should also be designed to meet the needs of your end-users.
Ask yourself how this will allow you to improve your end-users’ experience or solve a problem for them. Answering this might involve working on user personas or developing user stories, or potentially even working directly with some members of your target audience to gather their input.
Project Timelines and Deadlines
Timing is another important point to think about, particularly how much time you have to deliver the project. Deadlines can sometimes relate to certain dates that are out of your control, so it’s better to start as early as possible in those cases. If there’s any flexibility with the timeline for delivery, make a note of that as well.
Make a list of all the stakeholders involved. This is a good thing for the agency to be aware of early on, because the project becomes more complex with a higher number of stakeholders.
Depending on the size of your business, and the nature of your site, your project team will usually be some combination of: A marketing director or marketing manager, someone from your operations department, and someone from IT.
However, if you also have people like someone from your IT team responsible for security, a content writer to provide all the written text, or any external consultants, that should be made clear in advance. If your site will need to integrate with other platforms, such as your CRM system, you may have an integration manager specifically in charge of overseeing that as well.
It’s useful to designate roles to certain stakeholders, such as project sponsors, product owners, administrators, and so on. This will help you understand who’s responsible for different aspects of the project internally.
If you plan to work with external agencies for things like SEO or branding, it’s important to note that in your brief. This is necessary for the development agency to be aware of as early as possible, because collaborating with other third-parties at different stages of the project requires a lot of coordination.
Certain processes may also have to run differently if other third-party agencies want to be more hands-on or handle some parts of the site themselves. The earlier this is made clear, the more smoothly the project will run.
If you have any preference of technology platform or any requirements related to your existing tech stack, that will be something you’ll need to decide early on. For example, would you prefer to use WordPress due to its scalability, or do you have any existing investment in any other platforms?
Think about any preference you have for the various technology choices available, why they’re important to you, and whether your agency will have to tailor their approach to accommodate that.
Try to determine a minimum and maximum budget for your project, even if it’s just a loose range for now. It will help you evaluate agencies, and will also help you prioritise the various aspects of the project as “must have” or “nice to have” in many cases.
Design Look and Feel
This is where your company’s brand comes into play. You’ll want your site to reflect your brand and that will come through in the design. Bring any brand guidelines to the table, and think about what sort of tone or experience you want to convey to your end-users.
If you don’t have any recent brand guidelines and want help updating them, or need to go through a rebranding process, mention that in your brief as well. Design and development agencies will often be able to help you in these areas too, or at least refer you to a trusted partner who can.
User Interface (UI)
How your end-users will interact with your site, and what kind of experience they’ll have, is largely determined by the user interface. When it comes to design and UI, simplicity is usually the best approach. However, depending on the function you’re providing, you might have some specific or bespoke UI requirements.
Consider your target audience carefully here as well. For example, if most of your users will be accessing your site from a mobile device, it’s probably wise to opt for a mobile-first design.
Some other important things to think about here include how you’d like your sitemap to be structured, especially if you have an existing site that you’re already happy with.
If your project will involve rebuilding or migrating an existing site or platform, it will be helpful to gather any existing data sources, such as Google Analytics, that will provide insight into your current site.
Non-functional requirements are all the aspects of your site that happen behind the scenes. These are things that allow your site to do its job properly for your end-users, but won’t be evident to those people while they’re using it.
There’s a lot of things to consider with non-functional requirements, so we won’t cover everything here.
If you have any specific hosting requirements, such as a preference for a certain cloud-based platform, or a particularly secure data centre, those will be important to identify as early as possible.
Say, for instance, that sustainability is a core value for your business, this could also have an influence on how and where your hosting is managed.
If you have an internal IT team that will be contributing towards the hosting decision, make sure you involve them in the discussion.
Security and Compliance
Security is a growing concern for all businesses today. It’s crucial to think about security as a core component of any web development project, to minimise any potential risks for your business.
If you have someone in your team responsible for security, they should begin to think about issues such as:
Robust security also involves keeping compliant with any specific security or industry regulations that may affect your business. Of course, compliance with things like GDPR should be planned for at this stage too.
Some other common non-functional requirements include things like session management capabilities to track and things like log-in time, session length, pages visited, and so on. Search engine optimisation (SEO) tools, analytics, or other capabilities might need to be built into your site as well.
Accessibility, Usability, and Responsive Design
When it comes to aspects that will make your users’ experience as seamless as possible, such as accessibility, a good agency will ensure all these things are taken care of for you. This is also the case for ensuring all major web browsers, operating systems, and devices are fully supported and compatible. Development should always be compliant with industry standards, taking into account optimum accessibility and usability.
However, if you have any additional or bespoke requirements for any of these things, those will be useful to note early on.
The term ‘functional requirements’ refers to everything that your site will be able to do for its users, in terms of its features, functionality, and capabilities.
As mentioned earlier, one of the first things you discussed was what the site will help your end-users achieve. From the perspective of building something your target audience can use, you should start to get a feel for what functionality is required to ensure they can achieve that.
Your features are the things your site will allow your users to do. These can be very simple, or very sophisticated, depending on what you’re aiming to provide for them.
When putting your brief together, think of any and all features and functionality that might benefit your users. Your agency will then work with you to explore these and find the best way to turn that into intuitive, user-friendly features for you.
What to Do Next
Once your team has been through the process of talking through all the points listed above, you should have a very thorough, useful brief to work with. The next step is to take that brief to any introductory meetings you have with agencies and ask them what they think of the project initially.
It’s normal for an agency to ask lots of questions at that stage and really dive into the ‘WHY’ behind all the things you’ve put into your brief. A good agency will even challenge you on certain decisions, to help you determine the best possible way to build what you need.
Once you’ve discussed your brief with an agency, determine which one feels like the best fit. Choosing the right agency is crucial, as it will have a huge influence on whether or not your project is successful.
As mentioned earlier, some agencies will agree to launch into a project without a brief, and that can be extremely problematic. While the main purpose of a brief is to help you and your agency understand exactly what you need, it should also be used as a way to spot partners who may not be sufficiently thorough or conscientious.
Whichever agency you choose, a detailed brief will help you ensure you’re given a fair quote, realistic timelines for completion, and a finished product that meets your requirements and expectations.
More Helpful Resources
If you’re considering a bespoke development project, our related article provides useful guidance to help you choose the right technology platform for your specific needs:
Would you like these insights straight to your mailbox?
1 November, 2022
SoBold announce Cyber Essentials certification
SoBold announce their Cyber Essentials certification for the third consecutive year which demononstrates their commitment to delivering secure technical solutions to their new and existing clients.
Cyber Essentials is scheme which helps guard your organisation against a range of common cyber threats. SoBold’s resilience across a range of internet facing devices was tested and approved, ensuring there were not any major critical vulnerabilities discovered
SoBold Technical Director, Sam Phillips said:
With an ever growing cyber threat, Cyber Essentials certification is becoming more and more important to maintain. Protecting both our clients data and websites is of the upmost importance and successfully passing the more thorough Cyber Essentials guidelines new for 2022 shows our commitment to this.
Would you like these insights straight to your mailbox?
8 March, 2023
5 Women To Shape the Design and Tech Worlds
March 8th is still an important date to remind us of the brilliance of being a woman in our society. Even though it can be a struggle every day, we know that women are capable of anything and we are very proud to celebrate the achievements of these creative and intelligent women.
Who can live without Wi-Fi nowadays? In 1942, Hedy invented the technology that later helped the creation of wireless signals.
Rear Admiral Grace Hopper
If you’re not in the programming world, you may not have heard of COBOL. This programming language created in 1952 is still used on business applications to this day. Grace was one of the first ever compilers and her work led to the creation of COBOL.
Even in the age of Sat Nav, you’ve probably relied on a road sign at some point, right? Either driving or walking down the street, the reliable signs are a source of comfort when technology fails. Margaret was part of the team that redesigned the whole UK road sign system. It all started in the late 1950s and her work still guides us even to this day.
‘Just do it’ – the famous tagline from a brand you might have heard of, called Nike. The tick logo was first developed by Carolyn when she was just starting design and the idea behind it to represent speed and motion. Even though the Nike tick is now one of the top 10 most recognised logos worldwide, Carolyn has only made $35 from her design.
We all know Apple. We all know that they’ve conquered the world of technology by consistently presenting unique designs with both their hardware and software. What you probably didn’t know was that Susan was the designer responsible for developing all the typefaces, icons and other elements that serve as the core for what we now know as the Apple brand.