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Why Don’t Companies Innovate?

This is a question that has been bugging me for a while, and you know what, I still don’t have the answer to this fully. You see, working with technology and user experience on a daily basis while improving digital platforms for companies, I can’t help but get used to continually improving all aspects of a business. Yet when I look around at most companies, I see the same old companies doing the same old things time and time again, often getting busier and busier without being more efficient or growing. Now here’s the thing, it is not like there is a barrier to entry to using technology throughout a business. Costs have come down quite considerably over the last few years and there is now more than ever an enormous pool of digital expertise to tap into. Albeit, there is a hugely varying quality of digital expertise, but there is a lot available never the less. So why is it that companies fail to innovate?

I decided to write this blog post after seeing another “Look at how amazing our new website is, let us know what you think…” post on LinkedIn by a proud owner of a business. So I decided to chip in. The site was WordPress based, so far so good. Then it all kind of went to the usual problems, not using Child Themes and not using HTTPS, both of which are an absolute minimum when building WordPress websites. Yet still, the business owner shrugged off the feedback stating that they are working with a “world leading company, I’m sure they know what they are doing”. And in this case, I can honestly only say that this is purely ignorance that is leading this particular company not to innovate. Look, I’m not saying that building a website is in any way innovative, but it does tell you a lot about a company based on the way their website is built. Firstly, in this instance I can tell you that this website was put together on the cheap in an “all fur coat and no knickers” type of way. I see this a lot, and we generally work with companies around 2-3 years after they have gone down this route and realised that it doesn’t work. And what that tells me about companies who go down this approach is that they are still very much in the mindset of cost over value. Purchasing anything based on cost is a losing battle and one that will cause you no ends of problems in the long run, businesses who eventually realise this start to enormously innovate throughout their organisation which starts them on a path to significant growth as an organisation.

This is by no means a lone example though. I’d argue that most organisations fail to innovate throughout their organisation. And this is not because the innovative technology, processes or systems are either not available or expensive. I’d argue that it is because people are so busy doing what they have always done or busy talking about how busy they are that they fail to realise the opportunity that sits right next to them as a solution to their many problems. This clearly is not a technology problem, it is a people problem. It is the decisions that people make on a day to day and minute by minute basis which prevent their own organisation from innovating by keeping their self busy doing the same old same old. This is by no means a unique situation though, this is what is known as the productivity problem in the UK and something which the UK government is looking at as a priority to grow the economy. Businesses need to step up and as what one minister said “Stop being lazy”.

For anyone who is too busy to look at new opportunities, I wish you well, but for those smart enough to stop and take 5 minutes to look at new opportunities, you will be amazed about what is available when you open your mind a little and speak with companies who can help your organisation significant improve throughout. Happier, leaner and more innovative companies are the companies that people like to work with. What is clear to me on a regional basis is that cities like London and Manchester are clearly leading the way when it comes to implementing innovative solutions throughout their organisations, whereas non-city regions and counties are often much slower to adapt. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is due to the majority of businesses being run by small teams and/or families that they struggle to think differently because they make decisions purely based on their own personal past experiences, which limits their thinking. As the quote goes, “To the man with a hammer, the solution to every problem is a nail”. Often true innovation comes from talking with people who are significantly different to you, even if you completely disagree with their way of working and their beliefs. I know that personally, some of the more innovative solutions that we have implemented have been a direct result of the random conversations I have had with people who I normally wouldn’t connect with. Instead these ideas have come based on making time to speak with different people and learn from their experiences. You can learn an awful lot from others when you stop and think about a problem together.

Innovation is key throughout every aspect of your business and the more businesses I speak with I can guarantee that I could walk into any organisation and improve their efficiencies throughout their organisation, whether that is through digital solutions or process improvements. This is not being over confident, this is based on seeing so many problem which are blatantly obvious to me that never seem to get fixed or improved. Often its the simple things that make the biggest difference. The challenge is always getting companies to change. As they say, you can lead a horse to water…. To finish, I’d like to open this invitation to any businesses who is stuck in their ways and unsure what to do to grab a coffee with me. Let’s look at how we can re-shape your organisation to become more efficient whether that is through digital technologies or otherwise. We can’t do this for you, but we can help you open your mind. Let’s chat.

We’re working on exciting projects with forward thinking companies as always. Becoming a forward thinking company is simply a mindset change required from those at the top of the organisation.

Developers Are Creating Problems for Themselves and Companies

Last night I gave a talk at a developer meetup group in Liverpool after being asked to speak at the event. The developer group was full of extremely amazing developers who are far more knowledgeable than myself about the finer workings of high end technology. Hats off to them.

After listening to another speaker at the event before me, it was extremely clear that I had just sat through a talk for an hour and I honestly couldn’t tell you anything about what I just listened to. It was very abstract and quite frankly, way over my head. This is not a criticism of the speaker, he was great and the audience loved it. Here’s the thing though, I like to classify myself as a very knowledgeable person working with various technologies on a daily basis, I’m certainly no-where near as smart at tech as many of the people in the room which is a great position to be in as you can learn from them.

So anyway, I jumped up to do my talk titled “Venturing into the Unknown Building” which was designed to be an overview of building a tech startup from scratch while bootstrapping everything from day 1. I do a lot of talks to businesses, companies, conferences, events and so on, I enjoy doing them and sharing my thoughts with those interested. This one was different though, it was clear that the audience was so unbelievably amazing at various technologies that for those in the audience listening to me the content of the presentation must have been similar to a University Professor attending nursery to learn about something. It was fun doing the talk that’s for sure and it was truly a baptism of fire. What struck me most though was the array of endless questions at the end of the presentation. Rarely do you end up answering questions for a good 15-20 minutes at the end of a presentation, but they kept coming, which was great as it got people thinking.

As the old saying goes, to a man with a hammer, the solution to every problem is a nail. And this couldn’t be truer than within the developer community across all platforms and languages. The problem I see time and time again from developers and technology startups that I speak to on a regular basis is that they keep adding technology to solve a problem when actually you don’t need to add technology. At the development level, technology adds complexity to every project which adds time and money to what is being done. It’s time as developers we step back a little and start to ask ourselves what we are really trying to do.

To put this into perspective, here are just a few of the questions that came from the bemused audience last night;

  • So what tools / technology do you use for your release and deployment process?…. i.e. expecting the sophisticated answer for something like Jenkins…….We use SFTP (for the non-teckies reading this, picture the process being viewed as a stone age person using a flint bow and arrow to catch an animal. It’s functional and it works. )
  • When you make a change within the code, how do you know that it doesn’t break anything else?….. i.e. expecting the ‘best practice’ answer that every single unit of code has unit tests wrapped around them and we run these tests before we push code live…… We just build the code well and remove virtually all dependencies throughout the various classes (for the non-teckies reading this, imagine that you’ve baked a cake. Wonderful. Now your unit tests can be loosely thought of as checks at the end to make sure what you’ve made is correct. So in this random example, you’d line up all the raw ingredients next to your baked cake and confirm that they are present within said cake. This needs you to buy two sets of ingredients to test that the cake contains them all. Thus doubling the cost of the cake baking project)
  • When you added this form to the website in the first instance, why didn’t you build in validation checks at every step from the outset?…. i.e. expecting that it was something we simply forgot to do….. We actively avoided doing this because we would have been building features and functionality that people may or may not have needed. Instead, we let the data tell us what validation checks we needed to add in as and when people started using the platform (for the non-teckies, this is talking about the ‘you must enter your First Name’ type notifications that you see on websites)
  • So what frameworks did you use to build the platform? ….. i.e. expecting a cool and sophisticated answer about one of the endless technology frameworks available to choose from today….. We didn’t use any. We just used solid Model View Controller design patterns to structure our code well so that it is maintainable, easy to manage and release changes. (For the non-teckies, think about this as following a recipe. When you have your raw ingredients in the kitchen, which cookbook do you choose and which recipe do you select from them? We simply threw it all in the pan and it turned out beautiful)
  • Why aren’t you streaming your file uploads via Amazon S3 and automatically resizing images as needed within the applications? ….. I.e. expecting to hear that this is in the pipeline to do so….. Because that is simply too much work involved to do and virtually all employers can manage to upload their logo within the guidelines provided. It’s needless work.

Above is just a small selection of the questions that were asked and discussed after the presentation. It was really interesting discussing the whole tech startup process with a group of highly experienced developers. I was certainly the caveman in the room without a doubt when it comes to tech which was really interesting.

The key message from the presentation though was all around Keep It Simply Stupid. You see, when you add complexity into any project, is it any wonder the costs of said project goes up when you then have to spend 50%+ more time developing the project, and is it any wonder that you cannot find the right talent within your organisation who has 5 years experience using technology X. You’re adding complexity out of striving to continually improve development techniques. I’ve seen this on many occasions in very large organisations where the organisation simply revolves around the digital technology hamster wheel to keep rebuilding technology and adding new and different processes into the system instead of truly stopping and thinking about what they are actually doing. Ultimately achieving nothing while working at 150% of capacity continually wondering why nothing is being achieved.

Ultimately the product or service is here for the user of the end user, the customer. You have to ask yourself that when you are looking to implement technology X or process Y within your application, does the end customer really care and are they even going to notice? If the answer is no, then honestly, what are you wasting time even doing it? Seriously. Sure, if you’ve an endless budget and lots of free time to do this, great, you probably work at Facebook or Google. For the rest of us though, let’s bring these dreams down into the practicalities of the day to day.

To put this into perspective, let’s just take a look at one of the largest developer surveys that takes place each year from Stackoverflow, here are some of the most popular technologies in use today;

.NET, ABAP, Android, Android Studio, Angular, AngularJS, Arduino / Raspberry Pi, Arrays, ASP.NET, Atom, aurelia, Bash, C, C#, C++, Cassandra, Clojure, Cloud, Cloud (AWS, GAE, Azure, etc.), Coda, CoffeeScript, ColdFusion, Cordova, Count, CSS, D, Dart, Delphi, Django, Drupal, Eclipse, Elasticsearch, Elixir, Elm, Emacs, Erlang, F#, Fortran, Git, Go, Groovy, Hadoop, Haskell, HTML, HTML, CSS, IntelliJ, iOS, IPython / Jupyter, Java, JavaScript, JQuery, JSON, Julia, Komodo, Kotlin, LAMP, Lighttable, Linux, Lisp, Lua, Matlab, Meteor, MongoDB, MySQL, NetBeans, Node.js, Notepad++, Objective C, Objective-C, OCaml, Other, Perl, PHP, PhpStorm, PL/SQL, PostgreSQL, PowerShell, PyCharm, Python, R, Raspberry Pi, React, Redis, Regex, RStudio, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, RubyMine, Rust, Salesforce, Scala, Sharepoint, Smalltalk, Spark, SQL, SQL (or SQL Server), SQL Server, SQL Server & SQL, String, Sublime Text, Swift, TextMate, TypeScript, Unity, VBA, Vim, Visual Basic, Visual Studio, Visual Studio Code, Windows Phone, WordPress, Xamarin, Xcode, Zend.

The above really is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to technology choices. Within each of the technologies above, there are equally as many variations, technologies, frameworks and best practice ways of doing things. Technology quite simply is a minefield. I work with technology on a daily basis and I’ve only ever heard of around 50% of these technologies, let alone had the time and inclination to explore them.

Look, I’m not saying that all of these best practice things aren’t something to work towards. They all have their benefits. But let’s be realistic here, every single project is limited based on time and money which ultimately determines the output at the end. You cannot, and I’d argue should not, implement best practice from day 1 for anything, unless that thing is as simple to implement best practice as it is not to. Keep things simple, use solid continual development and agile processes to build on solid functional foundations.

Adding complexity to any project is a risky route to go down and one that I’d always recommend steering away from. Keep your projects as simple as possible instead of keep trying to add in new technologies into the system endlessly just because you can.

A couple of comments from the questions on the evening put this into perspective which include “You had some balls to stand up and do a talk like that in front of a group of specialist developers” and “Your ideas are certainly…. Interesting”, which is a polity way of saying they are a bit “out there”.

One final thought I’d like to leave you with. Technology projects, systems and organisations are as complex as you make them. You cannot then wonder how you’ve got into this position and complain about how difficult things are. Take a staged approach with developing and continually improving any technology system instead of simply bolting on as many pieces of technology as you can just because they are cool to do or are deemed best practice. Save yourself endless hours, weeks and months of time building things that ultimately adds no value to the project, adds cost and makes everything difficult to maintain.

Great talk, great group of people, great discussions. Food for thought from a different perspective. See everyone at a future event.

You Should Not Blindly Implement What Clients Want

You Should Not Blindly Implement What Clients Want

This blog post is a personal bugbear of mine when it comes to people working in the digital industry and with technology. The scenario generally plays out as follows;


Client: “We’ve seen this really amazing flashy whoosh thing on {insert big brand website here} and we want you to do this on our website“


Client: “I’ve had this amazing idea, hear me out, {insert the craziest wackiest idea you can imagine that is trying to do something non-website related on a website}

Digital Person / Agency: “Sure, we can look to do that. What a great idea.”…. They then scramble off to talk about how they go about doing this. Internal discussions, questions on Stack Overflow or Facebook WordPress groups or other digital groups before rushing into implementing this idea as quickly as possible to please the client.


This is such a destructive attitude to take and one which not only shows your lack of understanding about the digital world but also the lack of confidence the client has in you to recommend the right solutions. In my experience, whenever a client asks us these similar questions on a regular basis we put a halt to their thought process straight away and get to the bottom of what they are actually trying to achieve.

What do they actually want? When a client comes to you with a solution to their idea, they often haven’t shared with you their initial idea in the first place. It is your job as a digital expert to get to the bottom of what they actually want before blindly jumping into delivering a preconceived solution. I can guarantee that if you just blindly implement what the client wants, you will end up in a very sticky situation further down the line which will result in the client blaming you for implementing their ideas which were ultimately flawed. It is your responsibility as a digital expert to help the client turn their ideas into realities by using the best possible solution for their needs.

To name just a few real world situations recently to highlight this point and why you should not just blindly implement what the client wants. Below are several examples when digital people have been asking us advice on how to implement various requirements from their clients and haven’t had the guts to tell the client no;

  • Requirement: Client wants to use WordPress as an intranet (which is certainly possible), and they want to have a directory structure like they see on their computer so it’s easy to find files to use.
  • Why this is a bad idea: WordPress doesn’t work like this. Dropbox and other cloud based document sharing facilities do. Don’t go re-inventing the wheel. Tell the client why their solution isn’t the best setup for their requirements and keep telling them until they understand and agree. Blindly trying to implement this kind of file directory style setup in WordPress is just going to cause problems in the long run.
  • Requirement: Client wants to use this fancy font from Photoshop on their website. So we implemented this as an image for all headers. Now they’ve said they want to translate their website. How do we go about this?
  • Why this is a bad idea: Sorry, things now have to be rebuilt correctly. Images should have never been used for headings as they don’t work very well on mobile devices, aren’t SEO friendly and don’t work from a translations point of view. Not to mention the inherent challenges around which browsers support which fonts on different devices etc. Keep things simple.
  • Requirement: Client wants to use their AOL account to send emails from their WordPress website but the emails keep going into people’s spam folders.
  • Why this is a bad idea: Emails aren’t meant to be used like this, particularly AOL accounts. Seriously, who still has an AOL account? As a business owner you need to be using suitable email technologies and when sending emails from web applications, there are specific technical aspects that need configuring to get this working correctly.


You get the drift. Blindly implementing requests from clients is a fool’s game. If you are working in the digital industry, please, stop doing this. Instead, take a step back whenever a request comes through and start to think strategically about what they are ultimately trying to achieve and what the best solutions truly are.

Every single website is restrained in some way based on the web hosting setup, the technologies in use, the frameworks that are used and lots of other moving parts. You cannot simply implement something that you’ve seen on one website into another website without fully understanding the technical implications of what this means. Don’t go re-inventing the wheel and quite frankly if the idea the client has come up with is hair brained, tell them, it will save you endless problems in the future. Start to recommend the best solutions based on their requirements instead of simply blindly implementing everything they want.

Remember, the client often has no idea about the finer details of the technical and digital world. All they often see is the visual side of things and don’t understand what goes into creating functional, scalable and reliable systems that are capable of growing with them. We get a lot of work coming through to us when people have gone down this route in the past, with clients working with digital people and agencies who have blindly implemented what they wanted, only to then by told by us that everything needs rebuilding. Hey, I can’t complain, this generates a lot of work for us, but let’s be honest, from a client’s perspective they are paying, two, three or four times for things when digital people keep implementing everything they want blindly and wondering why things aren’t working for them.

Managing client projects is actually relatively simple. Assume they know nothing and question everything that they say. Start to really get to the bottom of what they are looking for, then use this information with your knowledge and expertise to recommend suitable solutions. Please, stop blindly implementing what clients want. In the meantime, we’ll happily keep picking up failed projects and getting thing working correctly. It’s what we’re best at.

Specialist or Generalist or Multi-Specialist in Digital

An interesting discussion was born on LinkedIn after a comment from a digital leader I know which I thought was worth expanding into a blog post on the matter. The discussion went as follows;


Dave Thackeray

“I’m absolutely fascinated by what constitutes roles in the creative sector. Heading the digital fortunes of a leading health charity here in the UK I find myself crafting Google AdWords campaigns one minute, and forging ahead with a pattern library strategy for our boundless array of websites the next. Coaching social media will be next on my plate, followed by figuring out a forthright partnership initiative with influencers in Yorkshire who can help us develop further the success of our new adventure centre for families.  Being a master juggler is a prerequisite for every role today.”



Agreed. And I’d go as far to argue that anyone who is an apparent specialist in a single field is missing the point entirely. In the digital world, it is so important to understand so many aspects and how they all fit together as part of a wider strategy. Sure, be an expert in something, or many things, but don’t be so blinkered to only do those things.


Dave Thackeray

But because of the choice paradox perhaps we DO need to specialise.  Because you can’t do everything well. If you know where your audience lives (predominantly) then become a master of that platform or communications channel and surprise and delight them there, constantly.  Otherwise you’re in perpetual chase mode trying to win with the latest shiny thing. I rarely see success accomplished leveraging this strategy.



Isn’t digital marketing / the online world a specialism in itself though? Are we being too specialist by focusing purely on a single channel which may or may not exist in a few years with how fast things change? For example, people who classify their self purely as a social media specialist, I’d argue that most 90% of people who work in digital could be a social media specialist too if they wanted to go down that route. I’ve even seen people in the past being so specialised that they only work with a single platform within a channel, i.e. Google+ – and we all know what happened to that. Rarely a day goes by when I don’t have to learn a new skill or implement something in a different way that hasn’t been done before, that’s just the nature of digital. I see being too specialist as avoiding these challenges i.e. ‘sorry that’s not my job, let’s get a {insert tech here} specialist in to do this’ when in fact, given a few hours of research, these people could probably do this their self to an adequate level. I’m not saying don’t specialise, what I am saying is that to specialise only is a bit of a dead end as there are so many overlaps in digital that you need an awful lot of skills to maintain relevance in this ever changing market.


Dave Thackeray

Here’s where it gets muddied. In your first comment you said “anyone who is an apparent specialist in a single field is missing the point entirely” but in your last, “Isn’t digital marketing / the online world a specialism in itself though?” So are you saying specialising in digital marketing is missing the point? Because you can’t specialise in something so diverse as digital marketing, and consider yourself anything but a generalist! I don’t think there’s an answer here.



It’s a fine line indeed. It depends on the level of specialism. Personally I classify myself as a specialist in many areas of digital marketing / technology. Does that mean I’m a generalist or multi-specialist? Its an academic discussion but gets people thinking about options. Knowing you, I’d also classify you as a multi-specialist. IMO a generalist knows a little about a lot but can’t really do anything well. A multi-specialist can do a lot of things well on their own. I think I need to do a blog post on the differences to explain better 🙂


Specialist or Generalist or Multi-Specialist in Digital

So what should you be, as someone working in the digital sector? Well here’s the thing about digital, when you work in digital, from the client’s eye you are expected to know everything about everything. That is what they are paying you for and hence why I use the term above about being a multi-specialist. To specialise in any specific area, I believe, is simply too limiting for what is required on a day to day basis when working in the field. It is just not possible to limit yourself to such as narrow field of expertise such as SEO or PPC or Email Marketing or WordPress etc. etc. You need to know all of the above. And herein lies the challenge.

All of these aspects of digital marketing are indeed specialisms which take a great deal to master, yet they are possible to master when you’re working in the digital sector. Just as it’s a lot easier to learn a 3rd and 4th language after you have learnt your 2nd one. Looking at myself as a prime example here, it has taken over a decade of daily improvements in skills, knowledge and experience which has led me to this point today. Each individual skill takes years to master and requires you to continually keep up to date with changes as you need them. And this point is important which I’ll come back to in a minute. Here are a few examples of what I would classify myself personally an expert in and a few details about why to put this into context;

  • SEO: Years of experience and achieving awesome results
  • PPC: I’m Google AdWords qualified, worked in teams spending £ millions per month on AdWords
  • Google Analytics: I’m Google Analytics qualified and have implemented some pretty cool analytics tracking setups
  • WordPress: I co-organised WordCamp in Manchester in 2015, regularly speak at WordPress events on various topics and have worked with WordPress for years, I know the ins-and-outs about how everything fits together and how to get things done
  • Java: I built, from scratch along with other Java based setups.
  • Digital Strategy: Years of experience and achieving awesome results and being recognised in highly prestigious awards for these results.
  • And many more

The above headings are just the categories really, the finer details is around the underlying technologies and specialisms beneath here. The type of work that we do, and I would argue most people working in the digital world do, is extremely diverse and requires an ever growing skill set. Hence why I believe that you can no longer be a specialist in just a single area of expertise but you must become a multi-specialist to stay relevant.

Keeping up to date with changes in digital can be a full time job in itself. So how much time do you spend doing this when you are a multi-specialist? Well, that depends on your choices and what you actually need to know right now. The amount of information created on a daily basis these days is so unbelievably massive that it is impossible to know everything and understand everything before everyone else does. That’s what Google is for and knowing where to look when you need to know something precisely. You’ll have all seen the image below about knowledge VS experience.

Knowledge VS Experience



The difference being that in a digital interconnected world, it is impossible to have all of this information in your head. There is just too much information for any one person to store. This is where the skill comes in to identify the detailed information when you need to know it. To be able to do this effectively though requires you to be aware of the changes, not necessarily the finer details, but the headlines which is why I rarely read articles in full these days until I actually need to. This isn’t the same as what an inexperienced person will do and just Google for answers and not have any idea of what they are looking at. No. This is about knowing exactly what to look for, quickly digesting the finer details when you need them and using this to implement effectively and quickly because of the years of experience and knowing how to digest this quickly. The same is true for development related work, no-one on this earth can memorise the API documents for the variety of languages and platforms they use, they use this as a reference point to implement what they need.

I believe that being too specialised in the digital world is far too restricting and can blinker people from the wider strategic view for how everything joins together. Sure, in your early career you are always going to specialise in something to get your feet in the door to places. As you progress throughout your career though, you soon become a multi-specialist and are extremely proficient at many aspects in the digital world. And I would argue this is more beneficial for organisations than using a lot of very narrow specialists to achieve the same goal. In my experience, those people who are highly specialised in very specific areas with little knowledge outside of this field often miss the bigger picture about why things are being done and instead focus too much on the extremely fine detail, which in the grand scheme of things really doesn’t matter.

Whatever your position is on the specialist VS generalist vs multi-specialist is, leave a comment below. It’s an interesting discussion and there is no right or wrong position to be in as everything depends on what you need right now and in the foreseeable future.

There Is No Spoon

For those of you who haven’t seen the film, The Matrix, firstly, go out and buy a copy and watch it, it’s an awesome film. The first in any series is always the best. Now you understand the title of this blog post. Let’s put this into perspective;


Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.

Neo: What truth?

Spoon boy: There is no spoon.

Neo: There is no spoon?

Spoon boy: Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.


I sometimes feel like talking in riddles like this when speaking with people about how to grow an ecommerce business as the underlying problems stunting growth are rarely technology focused. Sure, technology may be an issue and need improving, but technology didn’t get there by itself.

You see, the challenges most businesses face when it comes to growth is actually nothing to do with technology or understanding or anything external for that matter. Information is free, if you have the time you can learn anything from cooking to rocket science from the many MOOCs that are available from Universities around the world. Likewise, the problem doesn’t lie with budgets either as I can guarantee that if for every £1 you gave me, I would give you £2 back, you would bite my hand off and empty your wallet without question.

The underlying problem is what Spoon Boy (he really needs another name doesn’t he!) was talking about. It’s about perspective, specifically how you perceive things VS how they actually are. It is how you perceive the challenge and how you deal with the problem which ultimately decides your fate. Do I go to McDonalds or go to the gym? It’s all a choice. And choices start in your head.

There are a few good books that I always recommend people to read, firstly because they are awesome and will help to expand your mind, but also because these types of books help you to think differently about a problem. Instead of seeing everything as a challenge with a never ending amount of barriers stopping you from progressing, instead, think differently about the problem and solutions will manifest. When you have already decided on a solution before you have articulated the challenge or problem, you’ve already lost. Outline where you are going, what you want to achieve and let the team of experts you surround yourself with recommend the best solution. It is your job to allow this process to happen, or not.

Happy reading;

Looking Beyond the Superficial Aspects of Your Website

As a business owner or marketing manager you are likely extremely swayed about website design and development based on how it looks. I am here to explain to you why this is no-where near as important as you think it is. This is not to say that this isn’t important, it is, but it isn’t the be-all and end-all. When making decisions around technology, what you really need to be asking the questions about is technology, frameworks, scalability and adaptability. All of the technical aspects you probably would prefer not to get too involved with as this is what you pay the web guys to take care of, right?

Unfortunately, the reality is that when you ignore these key aspects you end up with an all fur coat no knickers solution which is going to cause you tremendous pain in the long run. Trust me. It is often at this point where we pick up projects, when they have gone seriously wrong in the past when these aspects have been ignored, often because you asked for a pretty looking website or made a decision based purely on how something looks or made a cost-based decision. Here is when we pick things up and straighten things out which is a costly process.

Below we’re going to talk through many of the aspects you need to be asking questions about before you even start to think about the design of your website. When you get the below aspects right from the outset, you can make your website look any way you desire. And most importantly, you can chop and change the look of your website on a daily basis should you wish as you have the flexibility to do so without being restrained by poor technologies.


Platform and Content Management System

It is essential that your website is powered by a leading Content Management System. A platform which allows you to control most of the aspects of your website yourself, without requiring a developer to implement changes. For 99% of businesses out there you have two choices really, WordPress or Magento.


Web Hosting

Poor quality web hosting is going to harm the success of your business. It’s cheap for a reason, it’s restrictive and not that good. Leading web hosting has security built in, is regularly maintained and is backed up in a remote location should anything go wrong.


Website Security

I can promise you that if you don’t take cyber security seriously, your website will be hacked into at some point. A pretty looking website which can be hacked, deleted and changed by an unauthorised person trying to do your website harm is no good to anyone.


Back End Frameworks

A framework is essentially a set of rules for how things are implemented. A back end framework is all around how the server side code is implemented to ensure the code is easy to maintain, easy to extend and easy to work with in general. Think of a back end framework as a separation of concerns, read up about MVC if you’re really interested. Using the correct back end framework for your website ultimately determines how successful your website project will be or how many problems you will face in the future.


Front End Frameworks

Just like back end frameworks, front end frameworks deal specifically with how your website looks on the front end. Just as with all frameworks, you need to work within the limits of the framework which is why getting this part wrong can result in simple changes not actually being so simple in the end. Discuss this with your web developer about how things are built to understand the potential pitfalls further down the line.


Plugins, Themes & 3rd Party Solutions

When using any kind of 3rd party solutions as part of core functionality on your website, it is absolutely essential to make sure these are chosen with quality in mind. Cheap and free is like this for a reason, it’s likely absolutely awful and will cause you many problems down the line.


Website Speed

To a certain extent, the speed of your website is determined by how much you are paying for your web hosting. You cannot expect the speed that you experience on Google, Facebook and Twitter when paying budget web hosting. It’s just like buying a car, the more you pay, the faster it goes. Sure, there are optimisations and tweaks that can be made at the server level to further improve performance, although in the grand scheme of things these are a bit like spoilers and go-faster stripes on cars, they help, but aren’t going to do much on a Peugeot 205.


Control and Flexibility

You want to be able to edit as much as possible on the website, right? Well this hugely depends on the technology you’re using. Certain frameworks will give you more control for you to edit things yourself, others will restrict that control meaning that you have to pay a web developer every time you need to make a change. A costly process over time.



You want your website to work seamlessly across all devices, right? Well this again doesn’t just happen by magic. This is a conscious decision and requires strategic planning to make sure that your website performs in the way that your customers expect.


User Experience

Only now do we start to think about the user experience on the website. Why are people using your website? What are they aiming to achieve? How easy is your website to navigate? What do people like about your website? What do people dislike about your website? How can things be improved on a regular basis to improve performance? It’s all of these questions you need to start asking about your website and business as a whole.



Once you know what your website visitors are looking to achieve, how are you meeting their needs through the content that is available on your website? Are you still dealing with common queries for products and services over the phone? It is this type of content that at the very basic level could be handled by a more sophisticated setup on your website. Think differently about content. Content is not for Google and SEO, content is for your users.



Now we come onto the branding aspect. Once you have all of these aspects above in place, now it is time to start looking at how your website actually looks. At this point, once you have all of the above items in place, you can make the website look and feel any way you like. Get any of the above items wrong and you will extremely restricted based on what you can or can’t do at this point. You see, the branding aspect is the icing on the cake for website design. No matter how good your website looks, if your key ingredients are rotten, your website isn’t going to perform and your website visitors are going to be able to see straight through that.



There is a lot more to website design and development that you may first think. Never assume that your web development team is going to be doing everything right. If you ask for a pretty website, that’s what you’ll get, a pretty website that has been built poorly and doesn’t perform. When you ask a web development team for a website that achieves your business goals, you’ll get a well-built platform for you to work towards your goals much faster. The choice is yours, never skip over asking the difficult questions about website technologies.