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Google AdWords Qualification Renewed for 2015

Recently we were invited over to Google’s Manchester offices to renew our Google AdWords qualification and I’m pleased to announce that we have successfully renewed the qualifications for the next 12 months!


Michael Cropper AdWords Qualification Certificate November 2014

What this means is that we know a thing or two about how to manage a successful pay per click advertising campaign on Google AdWords. The ever increasing complexities involved with running a high performing PPC campaign means that you really need to be speaking with a professional if you are looking to seriously grow your business through Google AdWords.

There are an awful lot of changes within AdWords, on a regular basis, which is challenging for businesses to keep up with. At Contrado Digital it is our job to keep up to date with these changes and work with businesses like yours to improve the performance of AdWords campaigns.

Like with every celebration, it isn’t complete without a cake or two!


Contrado Digital Google AdWords Qualification Celebrations

Contrado Digital Google AdWords Qualification Celebrations


While we were at the offices, we thought we’d share a bit more of the Google experience with you. Here are a few more photographs of the Google Manchester offices;


The Hacienda Lives at Google Manchester

The Hacienda Lives at Google Manchester


Google Manchester Office Wall Deco

Google Manchester Office Wall Deco


Google at Manchester Wall Art

Google at Manchester Wall Art

Here is to more involvement between Google and Contrado Digital!

What you need to know about the Google Pigeon update

On the 24th July, Google quietly released a new significant algorithm change which has since been unofficially titled the Google Pigeon Update. Within this blog post we are going to cover what this change is, how this impacts your business website and most importantly, what you need to do about it. 

Google Pigeon

Image source:


What is the Google Pigeon Update

You may have heard about the Google Panda and Google Penguin algorithm changes on Google over the past few years. Well now we have Google Pigeon. Why such a strange name? Because someone at a popular search engine blog,, decided it would be a good name.

So what exactly is the Google Pigeon update designed to do and who does it impact? In short, this algorithm change is only currently being used within the US for English language queries. So for UK based companies, then don’t panic, but do be prepared.

Algorithm changes always start off in the US for English language queries, which is shortly followed by all English language queries around the world and then finally followed by other languages as they are rolled out. What this means is that if your business is based in the UK and is only trading in the UK, then you have a bit of time to implement the changes and plan for this. Google hasn’t announced any specific dates when the algorithm change will be rolled out wider than the US so it is best to be prepared for this as it is rare that significant changes aren’t rolled out globally.

The Google Pigeon update is designed to tie the local search algorithm deeper into the main web search algorithm which uses hundreds of ranking signals. This includes search capabilities such as spelling corrections, synonyms and the Knowledge Graph. The change means that the new algorithm improves a few other factors for local search including the distance and location ranking factors for local businesses. The whole aim of the new algorithm is to provide a better experience for people searching for local results.


How Google Pigeon impacts your business website

What all of this means in simple terms is that your local business will show within the carousel area straight at the top of the search results on Google which can be seen here;


Google Pigeon New York Hotels Carousel

Image source:


The algorithm is designed to give a boost to real world places, expanding beyond the initial places of interest that were originally being listed within the carousel. Search for “Things to do in Manchester” on Google to see how this looks at present in the UK; 


Things to do in Manchester Google Carousel


As this expands within the UK, we will start to see the carousel appearing more and more for searches such as;

  • Builders Merchants in Manchester
  • Timber Merchants in Manchester
  • Plumbers in Manchester
  • Builders in Manchester
  • Restaurants in Manchester

…and many more similar types of phrases.

The carousel area is being used for local listings instead of what is currently being used which is known as the ‘7-Pack’ which is a group of local listings that are often given prominence when people are searching for phrases with a local intent. For example, here you can see the current ‘7-Pack’ listings when searching for “Restaurants in Manchester”;


Restaurants in Manchester 7-Pack - Google Pigeon


With the Google Pigeon algorithm update moving the local listings into the carousel, this also means that directory type websites are also getting a boost. With all of the local listings moving up into the carousel, this means that the other directory style websites are showing higher up the page. Higher visibility generally leads to higher traffic levels. Below shows a screenshot from the US whereby local businesses are listed within the top carousel and larger directory style websites are being listed within the main results (click for larger image);


Google Pigeon Seattle Restaurants Carousel


It is going to be interesting to see exactly how this plays out over time, but it seems that everyone is a winner here – as long as the correct measures are put in place. Some large directories are already seeing a 5-10% increase in organic traffic from this change.

Large branded web directories such as Yelp and Yell are likely to benefit hugely as they have extremely strong brands which helps greatly with the Search Engine Optimisation work. Which means that smaller businesses have to make sure they have the right pieces in place to be able to earn a listing within the carousel at the top to beat the large directories.  


What you need to do next

Ok, so to put the Google Pigeon algorithm update into perspective and to lay out a clear plan of action there are several things that need to be done. While this update hasn’t been rolled out into England just yet, it is better to be ahead of the game as it is extremely likely that this will be rolled out within the next few months.


Complete your listing on branded business directories

It is important to stress here that this is for branded directories, not cheap, nasty, horrible traditional ‘SEO directories’. Stay away from those, stay well away. Here we are talking about well-known brands. Think Yelp, Yell, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, OpenTable and more. 


Branded Directories Logos for Google Pigeon


While there are well known generic directories, there will also be some industry specific directories that will be worth getting listed in. So do your research, or get in touch and we can help you with the process to make sure your business is being listed in the places where it needs to be.

What this will mean is that if a person doesn’t click on your listing within the carousel, then you will have a greater chance that your business will be seen in one of the top business directories. By covering off both angles, this will increase the chances of a potential customer finding your business online.


Make sure Google knows about your business through Google My Business

Make sure your business is listed on Google My Business. Whether you have a single shop / store / outlet / office, or hundreds throughout the UK. Make sure you are listing all of your physical locations on Google My Business. You may have heard about Google My Business recently but if not, Google My Business has replaced the old Google Local and Google Places tools to list your business on Google. 


Google My Business Logo


If you aren’t listed on Google My Business and need some support with this then get in touch and we can work closely with you to get your business listed in preparation for when the change is rolled out within the UK and further afield. 

Happy 1st Birthday to Us!

We have officially reached the grand old age of 1!


Contrado Digital Cake - Happy 1st Birthday


What an amazing first year in business. It astonishes me how fast time flies yet at the same time, realising that we are only 12 months old as a business which is a very short time indeed. It is at this time of year when it is good to look back at the challenges we have overcome and the accomplishments we have achieved as a business throughout this time. All of which wouldn’t have been possible without the large network of contacts and connections with other businesses we have made during the last 12 months.


The Challenges and Opportunities

To give a bit of background about myself prior to launching Contrado Digital. Over the last few years during my career prior to launching Contrado Digital, I had the fantastic opportunity to work with leading UK and multi-national brands including,, Travis Perkins, Berghaus, Oxfam, PDSA, TransPennine Express, Carrier Luxury Holidays and many many more. Working with large and well-recognised brands is great as they really understand the importance of digital.

Since launching Contrado Digital 12 months ago being based in Blackburn, we have spoken with an enormous amount of businesses throughout East Lancashire, ranging from small businesses to large multi-million pound organisations. One of the largest challenges we have faced during this time is talking to businesses about digital and the importance of it. Honestly, the one item that has surprised me most since moving from a Manchester based business environment to an East Lancashire based business environment is that lack of focus on digital technologies. Our experience of this to date is that East Lancashire businesses are 5-10 years behind Manchester based companies when it comes to utilising digital technologies to increase revenues. 

This may sound like a sweeping statement to make since there are clearly some very innovative businesses within the area, often businesses that manufacturer products that are sold globally, although when it comes to their digital presence, this often is left lagging far behind. What this also means is that there is clearly a huge opportunity to help these ambitious companies within the East Lancashire area.

We originally launched offering purely search engine optimisation services, although quickly realised that within East Lancashire that businesses simply weren’t ready for such a specialised service. Manchester yes, East Lancashire, no. As such, we expanded our services significantly to cater for the wide range of requests from businesses around how to profit from digital technologies. To make this simple for businesses to understand we broke this down into 5 key areas that set out a clear path for businesses to increase revenues through digital marketing, starting with getting the basics right first then moving onto the more advanced areas;

  • Design: Looking at how you are communicating your key messages as a business with creative design, photography, video production, copywriting and content marketing. 
  • Build: Looking at how adaptable your website is to meet your ambitious business goals including expansion into mobile applications.
  • Traffic: Looking at how your digital marketing channels are working to increase revenue for your business including search engine optimisation, pay per click advertising, email marketing and social media strategy.
  • Track: Looking at how you are tracking your digital marketing efforts with tools such as Google Analytics, call tracking and our new WiFi Analytics and Marketing service which is designed to bridge the gap between the online and offline world.
  • Optimise: Looking at how to squeeze every last conversion out of your website traffic through the use of conversion rate optimisation, user testing, marketing automation, user feedback, live chat and customer reviews.

Businesses who really grasp the possibilities with digital over the next few years are the businesses that are going to thrive. The efficiencies that can be achieved through digital are enormous and the marketing potential is global. With a clear, robust and ambitious digital strategy, any business can experience significant growth, as long as they are willing to make the necessary changes to adapt quickly. To paraphrase Charles Darwin;


“It’s not the strongest of the species businesses that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”



Within the short space of 12 months since launching, we have had tremendous success and recognition for the work we have completed. Being nominated for a total of 8 awards for the work we have completed with clients, which put us up against well established companies with over 250 members of staff and one company that recently sold for £18 million. Not bad going for the first year of trading!

We were first shortlisted in the Lancashire Red Rose Awards within the Ecommerce category;



We were then shortlisted in the Prolific North Awards within the Best SEO & PPC Agency category;


Contrado Digital Finalist in Prolific North Awards 2014 - Footer


We were then shortlisted in The Bibas in four categories including Creative Business of the Year, E-Business of the Year, New Business of the Year and Most Inspiring Business of the Year




We were then shortlisted in the Chartered Institute of Marketing Northern Awards in two categories including Digital Marketing Campaign of the Year and Northern Agency of the Year


CIM shortlist badge


All in all, not bad going for the work we have done for clients.


Giving Back

We are firm believers that the next wave of talent for the digital industry is coming from people leaving university. That’s why we regularly get involved with speaking at local universities including Manchester Metropolitan University and Blackburn College’s University campus to talk to students and staff about how the digital world is changing and what this means for them and the courses that are being run.

Following on from this, we have also had two separate work placement people come in and work on internal projects which has given them a great opportunity to increase their skills.


Blackburn College MMU Logo



Within this time we have also partnered with some of the leading digital software providers which means we can offer clients a superior service. Tools including HootSuite, where we are an Official HootSuite Solutions Partner and where our staff are Certified HootSuite Professionals.


HootSuite Solution Partner


We have also recently become a Purple WiFi Authorised Reseller which we are delighted to be part of. This allows us to work with companies who are looking to join the online and offline experience together for customers through the use of smart technologies.


WiFi Authorised Reseller


Special thanks

In the true style of Miss World, I’d like to personally thank everyone who has helped us along our journey so far, too many to name individually, so suffice to say that if you are reading this then you are one of these people in one way or another. I’ve met so many amazing business people and had the opportunity to talk with ambitious businesses within the area about how they can utilise digital marketing to increase their revenues, it’s been a fantastic first year in business. Oh yes, and world peace.


The Future

Starting a business from scratch is a tough thing to do and one where there are many challenges that you simply cannot foresee, no matter how much planning you do. Within the first 12 months in business we have had tremendous success and we have also had to re-focus based on the discussions we have had with businesses.

We have BIG plans for the future, so watch this space closely. We are always interested in speaking with ambitious high growth companies to see how we can help to increase revenues further, so if this sounds like you, then get in touch.  

We are now a Purple WiFi Authorised Reseller

WiFi Authorised Reseller


That’s right, we’re now a Purple WiFi Authorised Reseller! You may be wondering just exactly what Purple WiFi is and why we have chosen to work with Purple WiFi. Before we go into that, let’s just look into the near future to see where the world is heading.

At some point in the near future, all business will start with some form of digital interaction. Whether this is business to business or business to consumer, or what is starting to be referred to as person to person. With smart technologies creeping into our daily lives from Google Glass, the Oculus Rift and a 3D printed mini me, we are seeing traditional online and offline areas blending into one. No longer is ‘digital’ a marketing channel that is completely separate to core business. For many businesses, ‘digital’ is becoming core business as brands start to interact with customers at every step along the way, from visiting physical stores to purchasing products on the website to connecting with customers on social media. Everything is digital.

For this reason, we predict that in the very near future, brands are simply going to have to join the dots for customers between all touch points, regardless of whether this is online or in the real world. That is why we have become a Purple WiFi Authorised Reseller, because the software is capable of joining these dots together which we believe are becoming increasingly important. Joining the online and offline worlds together in a way that has traditionally been extremely difficult for brands to do is now possible.


What is Purple WiFi?

Purple WiFi is extremely advanced and cutting edge technology that is designed to turn the current free WiFi in your premises into a marketing tool to directly increase revenue. To keep this really simple, Purple WiFi is a piece of software that is installed on your router (the ‘thing’ that connects your customers to the internet).


WiFi Marketing and Analytics Service Page Header Image


It is this software that gives your free WiFi the boost that is needed to which customers are in your premises, how many times they have visited before and how long they have stayed. In addition, you can see full customer demographic data including name, age, gender, email address and hometown. All of this amazing data allows you to understand who your customers are better than ever and communicate with them to increase the frequency of their visits. Get in touch with us to see a full list of the amazing demographic data you can capture with the tool or to request a demo.

Essentially, if a customer visits your venue once per month and we can turn this into them visiting once every two weeks through targeted email marketing, then this has doubled your revenue per head for that specific customer. It isn’t always about getting ‘new’ customers through the door, if you can achieve the same revenue growth from your current customers then this is also a good opportunity.


Why we have chosen to work with Purple WiFi?

Quite simply, Purple WiFi are the leading players in the market providing this software who are working extensively with global hardware manufacturers including Cisco, Linksys, NetGear, TP-Link, Cisco Meraki, Deliberant, HP, Mikrotik, Open-Mesh, Ruckus, Xirrus, Airtight Networks, Buffalo, Trendnet and Ubiquiti.

The Purple WiFi software works on the leading hardware solutions for your wireless network, meaning that you can be confident that you can start to benefit from this software sooner rather than later.


Turning Purple WiFi into our WiFi Marketing and Analytics Service

Purple WiFi on its own is great, but as with anything, if you don’t use the tool to its full advantage then you won’t get the most out of it. After speaking with a lot of businesses ranging from bars and restaurants to bowling alleys and shopping centres, one of the common themes coming from discussions is around the time it will take to manage the platform.

This is why we have created a service around Purple WiFi which we call ‘WiFi Marketing and Analytics’. It is this service that is designed for us to do look after the marketing part so you can focus on doing your job within the business. Instead of having to learn how to use another tool to maximise its potential, we will do that for you and use our expertise and knowledge of running multiple campaigns to get the best results for your business.

Whether you are simply looking to offer your own branded free WiFi solution for your customers, or whether you are looking to utilise this for a data capture tool, or even if you are looking for the full works to utilise all of the above and turn your free WiFi into a marketing tool to increase revenue. Whatever you are looking for, our WiFi Marketing and Analytics service can be tailored to your specific needs and we can talk you through how this works in practice within your own organisation.

Find out more about our WiFi Marketing and Analytics service over on our services page which talks you through how this works in more detail along with giving some ideal examples of how this new technology can be used to the full advantage. Purple WiFi only sell the software through authorised distributors like ourselves, so get in touch to find out how this can work for your business.

We don’t simply build websites. We work with your business to increase revenue through digital technologies, which just happens to include things like web design, search engine optimisation, pay per click advertising and now WiFi Marketing & Analytics. Get in touch if you would like to know more about how we can support the growth of your business through digital marketing and new technologies.

Having a Play with Oculus Rift and Google Glass at Get Digital Manchester

Last week we attended the Get Digital event in Manchester to look at some of the latest technology hitting the market and what this means for businesses and consumers. The event was organised by The Business Growth Hub. The organisation is designed to help ambitious businesses increase revenue through support across a range of areas. One of their key focuses is around digital and creative skills, which there is an enormous skills gap in the market. If you are based within Greater Manchester, then take a look at how they can help and also find out more about the Superconnected Cities grant where businesses can access up to £3000 towards superfast broadband.

Throughout this blog post we are going to take a look at some of the cool technology we got to play with at the Get Digital event including the Oculus Rift to Google Glass and a Bluetooth beanie. This isn’t just about the technology though, this is about how the technology is being used in the real world and the applications that this technology has for everyone. All of this technology is blending the digital and physical worlds and enriching our lives as consumers.


Oculus Rift

The first piece of technology we got to have a play with was the Oculus Rift. If you haven’t come across this before, the Oculus Rift is the latest virtual reality headset designed for the consumer market when it is officially launched later in the year. What you can see in the image below is me wearing a rather odd looking headset. What I am seeing inside the headset is what you can see on the screen behind with the left and right eye being slightly different views to give a true 3D immersive simulation.


Trying out the Oculus Rift


The simulation was a rollercoaster which went through some amazing landscapes including past the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Lasting around 3-4 minutes till the end of the rollercoaster, it was amazing being fully immersed in the virtual environment and being able to turn my head in any direction to get a true 360 degrees view at any point within the simulation. Truly ground breaking. What was really interesting was that you could actually ‘feel’ what your eyes were seeing as the rollercoaster went down large drops. Maybe that tells you something about how I feel about rollercoasters more than anything. Very odd when you can experience something virtually and get the feelings of the rollercoaster whilst being sat still in a chair. To see this in action, this video below is a useful one which shows a similar setup on a rollercoaster;

This is unlikely to ever be a replacement for the real thing, although it is interesting to think of some of the applications for this technology. Sure, the rollercoaster simulator is one that grabs your attention but think about a few other scenarios past the gaming world. Imagine a 3D 360 degree virtual tour around stunning landmarks around the world without ever having to leave your house. Imagine being able to walk through a city in a 3D world while getting a full 360 degree view of what is happening. Here is what the Oculus Rift looks like from the other end;


Oculus Rift Development Version

Source: Wikimedia


No doubt this technology will have some innovative uses in the very near future as people start to see what is possible with this. For example when joining this up with platforms that allow you to walk around a 3D environment using a device like you can see in the bottom right of the image below;



Source: Extreme Tech


Google Glass

The next bit of technology we had a play with was Google Glass. I’m sure you will have heard about Google Glass before, but if not, then essentially this is a product recently launched by Google that is designed to provide information through a tiny projector within the glasses. Meaning that you can connect Google Glass to your phone and the internet to pick up on any information you can imagine. In addition, Google Glass also comes with a camera which is built in along with audio which works through bone conduction which is really interesting.


Trying out Google Glass


The people demonstrating Google Glass are from Manchester Metropolitan University who have recently been working with Manchester Art Gallery to look at interesting ways to enhance the experience of visitors to the gallery. You may have seen a recent article in the Manchester Evening News paper which talked about this briefly and another whereby one reporter was a little underwhelmed by the whole experience.

The idea behind the trial at Manchester Art Gallery is to provide visitors additional information about the paintings they are looking at such as the date the painting was created, where it was painted, the type of material used and the dimensions of the painting along with other information about the painting. Sure you can have all of this on a small placard next to the painting, although this is a single static piece of information which often doesn’t give you any context. For example, imagine being able to say “OK Glass, find more paintings in this art gallery by this artist”. This connection is how Google Glass can really enhance the experience for people.

Here are a few examples of what I was seeing through Google Glass, the content on the smartphone is being beamed from Google Glass so we can see it easier when showing you here;


Manchester Art Gallery Google Glass Input

For example if you would like Google Glass to read information out aloud to you.


Manchester Art Gallery Google Glass Paintings

The several paintings at Manchester Art Gallery that are part of the trial.


Manchester Art Gallery Google Glass Information

Additional information about the painting that you are looking at.


Traditionally in art galleries if you want to find out more information about everything you would walk around with one of those clunky audio guides which quite frankly are hideous and not very user friendly. Google Glass can essentially replace these and add an extra dimension of information at the same time through the wireless connectivity with the internet.

Google Glass is essentially still in the prototype stage and it will be interesting to see how this takes off when launched fully to the public. Personally I found the experience of using it a little strange at first, although I have no doubt that as these new technologies enter our lives that we will start to get used to them as they really start to help us with what we are doing.


Bluetooth Beanie

At home you have to charge your mobile phone, laptop, tablet, toothbrush and now your beanie. Introducing the Bluetooth beanie from Bluefingers. That’s right, a hat that connects to your mobile phone via Bluetooth to stream music directly into your ears. Because that tiny wire for your headphones is such a pain.


Bluetooth Beanie


Wearable technology is breaking into the fashion world and is already starting to be looked at seriously by several large retailers both in the UK and the US. While you may be thinking, ‘why’ about a product like this right now, I can assure you that you will start to see a lot more products like this coming into the market over the next few years. Take for example with Burberry who are already embedding RFID chips into their clothing so they know when you re-visit the store again in the future.


Panel Discussion

The final part of the day included a panel discussion from startup companies who are already selling wearable technology to councils and futurologists. The discussion was titled “Future of Technology: World of technology VS the business world, education and cities’ infrastructure. Where will we be among all this? How will technology impact our everyday lives?”


Panel Discussion at Get Dgiital


Some interesting points to come from the discussion from Mike Ryan included a prediction that 33% of jobs will disappear by 2030 as computers and technology start to replace laborious jobs with systems that automate work. We just have to look at the taxi booking application Uber and the amount of uproar that has been caused from this technology throughout the world.

Another interesting point was made around education and that we cannot continue with the current model whereby we ‘learn’ for the first 18 or so years of our life then expect to use that knowledge for the rest of our careers. With how fast technology is moving and how this is having a significant impact on jobs, we need to seriously start to re-think the idea of education and start to look at a life-long learning model.

Taking this one step further, MIT recently completed some research around productivity within businesses and income for the workers. What they found was the ever increasing gap between productivity and income, meaning that as productivity and revenue increases for businesses, these increases aren’t seen by the people employed by those companies as a whole. The image below highlights this very well;


MIT Productivity VS Income



Why this is interesting is because of something known as GVA, or Gross Value Added as it is otherwise known. If you aren’t familiar with this terminology, Gross Value Added is a measure of the value of goods and services produced. Wikipedia describes GVA as;


“Over-simplistically, GVA is the grand total of all revenues, from final sales and (net) subsidies, which are incomes into businesses. Those incomes are then used to cover expenses (wages & salaries, dividends), savings (profits, depreciation), and (indirect) taxes.”


As a further simplification on the above, GVA has a direct link to job creation and job security within the economic world. GVA is the measure that is used throughout government and European funded projects to determine the ‘success’ of a project in terms of jobs created or secured. The problem here is that this is at odds with what is actually happening in the real world, specifically around how technologies are allowing companies to work more effectively while still utilising the same amount of people to accomplish that goal.

It was argued within the panel that this model needs to be seriously looked at as we are going to have a real problem in the future as technology simply replaces people’s jobs. Which links back to the idea of life-long learning so people can move away from laborious work and into something more valuable which a machine isn’t able to replicate (yet).

If you keep a close eye on the discussions in the news, you will see how there is talk around how lawyers are going to be put out of jobs with technology, how accountants are going to be put out of jobs with the likes of Xero appearing on the market and so on. While a lot of this is often scare mongering by the publications, this is a serious area that needs to be thought about. We have experienced this with clients we work with, whereby systems we have introduced have resulted in significant time savings within the business for members of staff by automating a specific function. While this is great to be able to work on projects like this, it is a growing area and one where as a society we need to start thinking about how this has an impact on what we currently measure ‘success’ on, which is jobs.

Technology and the fear of “technology taking our jobs” is nothing new. This same argument has been around for hundreds of years with the Luddites smashing stocking frames back in 1799. Although I personally believe that now we are at a time when technology is moving at such a rapid rate that we really need to start to consider how this is impacting on the society we live in. Enough of that for now though, let’s get back to looking at what other points the panel made during their discussions.

Another interesting point made by the panel was around the ‘Covent Garden Effect’ which is talking about how cities and town centres need to move away from this idea of shopping on the high street and moving into more entertainment based. Products and services are often much cheaper online than in shopping centres due to the fact that you don’t have the large overheads to pay. Turning cities into fun places to be will lead to a shift in how citizens use meeting places for fun activities for the whole family. Not simply bars and restaurants, but something livelier. It was argued that many of our cities in the UK are too bland and that we need to put some life back into them. Looking at examples of how the Dutch transform their cities into something a little more exciting. One example was around playing Tetris on the side of a building for example which has already been set up by MIT previously;


Overall, by making cities more entertaining spaces to be then we will move away from the shopping based approach and more for something for everyone to enjoy. Another example in this area was around banks and branches, how you simply don’t need thousands of branches around the country, instead you can simply have a few supercomputers. This was highlighted at a recent talk from Barclays bank whereby they talked about the systems powering the whole banking system from website, bank transactions and ATMs which is simply 4 mainframes and 2 database servers. When you think of the scale of a banking system and it is ultimately running on a few very powerful computers it makes you think about where things are heading. Traditionally this would have been a lot of people doing the same processes, but manually.

Next up was Eva Pascoe talking about digital futures. Eva was the first person to create a cyber café in London called Cyberia. An interesting point made was that we don’t currently have inclusivity with digital technology. Currently the focus is around well educated people being able to utilise digital technologies, whether that is through the high end consumer technology products or on the educational side around computer programming. The point made was that the future needs to include everyone with digital and make sure that anyone can access digital technologies with ease, regardless of how wealthy or well educated you are.

An interesting point was about how we are still people who like to share things, create communities and talk about things. This hasn’t changed with technology, it just means that the technology is allowing us to do this in a different way than before. An example given was around the new craze of Toast Art where people are sharing their artistic creations of food on social media channels, which is often referred to as ‘Food Porn’ (probably not the best idea to Google that while in work…).

Following on from this, the talk was around the environmental impact of fast fashion and how 3D printing can help to overcome some of these issues. Currently as a society we waste an awful lot when we don’t need to which is often caused by the constant desire for new and fresh things. An interesting idea was around biodegradable 3D printed shoes, which means that you can print, recycle, then print again in a new style without having to waste a lot of materials each time.


3D Printed Shoes



It was then mentioned about linking in city information into wearable technology like Google Glass. Imagine sending sensor information from around the city into Google Glass and Maps for exactly where the parking spaces were available. To a lesser degree, this has already been implemented over in Santander in Spain.

Following on from this, the term ‘Urban Informatics’ was brought up which essentially is all around using data to better understand how cities work. Think of this like a ‘City API’ where you can access any data about a city for whatever you need.  An important point was made around privacy and that there needs to be a balance between the benefits of new technology and the privacy issues that come from this. Currently, data often belongs to the businesses that capture your information as this is a valuable asset to them. Although as a user, you are often sceptical about giving your data away for fear of how this will be used in the future. Instead, for a sustainable future in this area we need a system where the benefits are clear and privacy issues remain minimal, so the user will ultimately own their own data. Meaning that if they like, they can have any data about them removed from the system. Until this approach is in place, people will continue to distrust services that capture data as they aren’t sure how this will be used in the future.

A somewhat interesting point was made around how ‘the cloud’ is not sustainable. Every service you access on the web is cloud technology in the background. After running an ISP previously, Eva talked about how ISPs and other providers of cloud technology need to be doing more to be environmentally aware since the power consumption for running large server farms is staggering. One example given was around situating setups in cold climates to reduce energy usage on air conditioning and also situating sites near renewable energy sources such streams and rivers, very similar to how traditional cotton mills were created. Then the talk turned to the idea of a personal cloud which is already available now and is something that I expect to see more people looking at as privacy concerns are raised.



Overall the event was a great opportunity to look at some of the future technology that we are going to see coming into our lives over the next few years and how this is really going to change the way businesses and consumers interact with digital. While this technology offers a lot of benefits to us, we also have to seriously think about privacy concerns and how this impacts jobs and the economy that we live in. What we can be sure of is that technology is moving fast and companies need to be quick on their feet to compete.

Magento Go-ne Saying Goodbye to the Popular Platform

Magento Go is shutting down

The popular ecommerce platform Magento Go is no longer accepting new signups to the service and anyone currently using the platform will have to migrate their website by 1st February 2015. Act now to keep your business website live and working to generate traffic, sales and enquiries. Failure to act will result in your website disappearing.  


What is Magento Go?

You may have heard about the platform Magento already. What you may not be aware of is that there are three different types of Magento. Well there was. Now there are two. Magento is broken down into the three categories;

  • Magento Go: Pay monthly, hosted and managed by Magento, soon to be shut down
  • Magento Community Edition (CE): Free to use, self-hosted and managed by your web design agency
  • Magento Enterprise: Designed for high performing, fast growing ecommerce businesses

It is important to note that the announcement from Magento is only affecting the Magento Go platform and not the other versions.

Magento is an ideal ecommerce platform for your website which has been specifically designed to sell products online with ease. With over 240,000 websites being powered by Magento, it is clear to see why so many choose the platform when looking to sell products online.

The Magento Go platform was designed for small businesses to quickly start selling products online without having to understand how to build a website and all of the technical bits in the background. This can be a great starting point and is often where a lot of businesses start their journey into the digital world selling online. With Magento Go being easy to use, you would have also found that it was rather limiting in the sense that you could only customise the website so far. This is where the next step of the ladder comes into play with Magento Community Edition.


Upgrade to Magento Community Edition

Current Magento Go customers are being advised to move over to competitors of Magento Go which are BigCommerce or Shopify. Although there is another way. You chose Magento Go for a reason, you liked the platform. So why not take the next step with your website and upgrade to the Magento Community Edition platform?

The open source platform gives you full control over your ecommerce website, meaning you can customise as much as you like without limitation. No longer do you have to be restricted by what you can and can’t change on your website. The Magento Community Edition platform gives you full control to be able to do exactly what you like. 


If you would like help migrating your Magento Go website onto the Magento Community Edition platform, or even an alternative, then get in touch and we can identify which is the best solution for your business. For a lot of businesses, large changes like this can be a challenge to migrate, so we’re more than happy to discuss the options with you. We also have a demo Magento platform set up so we can give you a live demonstration for how the platform works so you can see for yourself before making any decisions.