Category Archives: Softwate Update

New Light-box image effects

Softwate Update

For traditional web developers who write their own code, there has been a cool way of displaying images called ‘light-box’.

We’ve now brought this effect to WebEden so that you can take advantage of it too!

Now, when in edit mode there’s a new ‘pop up’ tab in the Editor which let’s you set the pop-up flag, the pop-up image and an image caption.

This is what the editor looks like:

This means that any image can be popped up to full size, so that your visitors can get it in all its original glory.

This is what the same image looks like when popped up on the screen:

NB. This feature isn’t available for images inside galleries or frames, but we’ll look at extending it further in the future.

The only drawback at the moment is that this isn’t available for images inside galleries or those in frames.

That’s it

Take a look at the new features and let us know what you think by leaving a comment on the blog, Facebook or Twitter.

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New Website Builder Templates

Softwate Update

Locked in a darkened room, fed on honey dripped down strings from the ceiling, the WebEden developers have turned their attention to beauty. And beauty, to them, means new templates.

We’ve had lots of requests from you about the type of new tempates you’d like to see. A lot of you mention that you like to start from scratch, without any template at all, so we’ve added a blank black and white one to the template list.

Others have talked about wanting to go for designs that use large background images with menus laid over the top. Here’s some cracking new ones to satisfy you:

And those of you who like more traditional formats, we’ve got some new designs that we hope will float your boat.

That’s it for now.

Let us know what you think about these new designs, either by commenting below or getting in touch with WebEden on Facebook or WebEden on Twitter.

 

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WebEden Wins Best Web Tool!

Softwate Update

Well what can I say?

WebHostingSearch.com, a leading webhosting guide, has recommended us as a top pick for web site building solutions!!!

And here it is the award…

We were up against some pretty big names in this market so we’re chuffed, pleased, excited, and honoured  – thanks WebHostingSearch.

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Our Shiny New Website

Softwate Update

After literally months of planning, arguing, designing, developing and testing we finally went live with our new website yesterday. We really like it, we hope you do to – and we’d really like to hear what you think.

Here’s what the old one looked like:

And here’s the shiny new one (to compare)

Why a new site?

Well the old one had been around since early 2005, and it was really showing it’s age.

To start with it wasn’t very wide, built for a time when screens and resolutions were a bit smaller.

Second, the font was very small, making it hard to read and hard to engage with.

Third, although we had addressed this over time, there were too many unclear demands on the visitors’ eyeballs.

Over the years we’ve added to it and experimented some too. But wholesale change was what it really required.

Why this design?

What we’re trying to do with our homepage is to reduce clutter, make it easy to navigate, and make signing up to a trial as easy as possible. There’s been a general movement in web design towards ‘single action’ pages where the design reduces the choices for users to just 1. In the case of our homepage, it’s all about getting people to sign up to a trial.

Who did it?

The original design was put together by our designer Kevin Man, and it’s been coded up by resident developer Raymond Francis. And our hats are taken off to them for the hard work.

Here’s a picture of the happy couple (Kevin in the left, Ray on the right)

Is it working?

Waaaaaay to early to say at the moment, but take a look at this, a graph of the ‘bounce rate’.

Bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave your website without looking at any more than the first page.

Before the change our bounce rate was around 30%. Now it’s nearer 23%. That’s nearly a 25% improvement. That seems like a pretty good improvement to me! But more importantly, this shows the benefit of having a re-think about the design of your website  too.

There’s still lots of work to do: sorting out the design for the forum for starters!

What’s next?

We’re really working hard to release our blog feature to you as soon as possible. It’s in testing, the feedback has been good, so it really won’t be much longer. Honest.

What do you think?

We would really appreciate your feedback on the design, good or bad, constructive or otherwise. You’ve all got good opinions on what looks good when it comes to the web, and we’d like to hear them!

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5 Web Design Tips for your Business Website

Softwate Update

Your website is often the first and only way potential customers find out about your business. And as website visitors make a decision in the first 6 seconds about whether to stay or leave, it’s vitally important that you present your business in the right way, and give your visitors the information they’re looking for.

Yet so many small businesses make classic mistakes with their site, effectively showing all these customers the door before they’ve even got inside.

So what are the important web design tips you should follow?


1. Make it easy to move around your website

People usually arrive on your website looking for specific information. If they don’t find it quickly they will leave, and have the impression that you’re a disorganized business.

The reason that websites have menus along the top or down the side is because user expect a particular format for websites. Stick to this format, and make the most important information the first thing they see.

Have a think about why people are on your website. Are they looking for your address or contact details? Do they want to know your opening hours? Do the want to know if you stock a particular item? Are they interested in the trade bodies you’re a member of? Answering these questions will help you organise the pages that should be easiest to find.

Here are a few tips

*Try icons. They’re visually appealing and easy to use
*Group related links together, such as ‘your account, support, contact us’ and ‘Ts & Cs, legal, privacy.
*Make it clear to users which page they’re on by using clear headlines

2. Use Clear Calls To Action

What is the aim of your website? Do you want people to buy something? do you want them to get in touch? Do you want them to sign up to your newsletter? The biggest mistake small business websites make is not having a clear call to action that asks there users to commit to something.

Whatever you want your users to do, make it clear by using a call-to-action button that grabs their attention. Here are a few tips:

*Think about the colour, size, shape and position of your call to action. Make it clear, make it stand out, and put it in an obvious place.
*Don’t confuse users by having multiple calls to action. Decide the main thing that you want them to do and stick to it.

3. Pick the right colours

This might seem a little obvious, but choosing the right colours is critical to your website. I’m not just talking about picking those colours that reflect your logo, your brand or your stationary. But it’s about making sure your colours stand out on the page, making it easy for people to read your content.

The right colours can also effective at sorting out the hierarchy of a page. Here’s some ideas:

*Look at how popular websites use colour and contrast to make stuff easy to read and understand.
*Try using size rather than just colour to make important text stand out.
*Test drive a Colour Contrast tool to check your colour choice such as http://snook.ca/technical/colour_contrast/colour.html

4. Organise Your Content

This is where most small businesses make the biggest mistakes. In a desperate urge to show website visitors how much stuff a business does, many put so many words on their site that it becomes impenetrable to readers.

The truth of it is that most website visitors can’t be bothered to read much text, and will avoid doing so unless it’s absolutely necessary. Even those embarking on a page of text will scan and skip to the end.

So when adding content to your site it’s important to get it into the right hierarchy, making it easy for users to jump to the most relevant section.

Here are three tips:

*Make your font big enough to be easy to read.
*Make significant use of white space, to focus the user on your content
*Make use of titles, subtitles, paragraphs, bullets, block quotes and other tricks to break up long passages.

And never make spelling or grammatical mistakes.

5. Reduce Clutter

This point follows on from content. Generally speaking, the more elements on a page, the harder it is to read. Websites with crammed homepages are difficult for visitors to take in and understand.

And website visitors who leave because they are overwhelmed, are not likely to return soon.

Clutter includes images too – they should only be there to capture attention and guide the user.

Here’s how to reduce clutter:

*With every element on a page, ask yourself the question: ‘can visitors understand this page if I took this away’. If the answer is yes, then you probably don’t need it.
*Make your most important content the easiest to find. Don’t let minor items get in the way of major ones.
*Help your users find what they’re looking for – don’t bog them down with other items like advertisements or promotions.

That’s it

These are five of my web design tips to make sure your small business website gets settled on the right course. Got any others? Leave a comment below.

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New Release: Background HTML and more

Softwate Update

We’ve just released a new update to our Website Builder that bring to life some great features.

Background HTML: Tiling and more

On the 2nd of February update we gave you the option to have no background at all. We’ve now updated this feature so that now have a number of background HTML image options. This include tiling, no tiling, and horizontal or vertical tiling.

This give you a lot more flexibility. You might want to try anchoring the image to the top centre, or the top right or left. You can also choose whether the background image will be fixed in the browser or scroll with your page. Try it – it looks very cool.

Quick access to stuff

We’ve had lots of you saying that’s a pain in the proverbial and sometimes confusion. Now you have the option of ‘quick access’. If you double click on something that is on the page master, you can jump straight to it. This means you can double click on the background to reach the ‘background’ panel in the design menu. This makes moving around the control panel a lot quicker.

You can always turn off the feature by clicking ‘Edit’ > ‘Preferences’ and then turn off ‘Auto Page Master’.

Restricting your page length

Since we’re shortly going live with the new blog feature, we had to remove page length restrictions, since articles, posts and comments can flow on and make the page bigger. So the page length max of 3600 pixels has been removed, allowing you to make things as big as you want. What I would say is that pages beyond a certain length aren’t very engaging, so keep thinking about whether or not your website visitors like long pages.

That’s it!

Some quite nice design changes with this update – let us know what you think!

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WebEden Product and Price update

Softwate Update

Some Good News

In a couple of weeks time we’re updating the specifications on most of the WebEden packages. We’re applying higher Webspace and Bandwidth allowances to every account. And for all current customers we’re not changing the prices of your account.

We’re also simplifying things so that resellers can resell on any of the new products, though there will be lower site limits on some packs. Existing customers will retain existing site limits, and existing Resellers can move to new packs if they want to or stay on their existing plans.

Yeah!

Some… less good news

From the same time we’re putting up the price of all packages. The price change will not affect current customers. If you already subscribe to WebEden the amount we charge you will not change. This price change applies to new customers and upgrades only.

Booo! Why?

We haven’t change the price since we launched at the start of 2005, and this means that we can increase the amount we invest in our development team to improve the products and services.

So if you’re planning to buy or upgrade, make sure you do that in the next couple of weeks.

We’ll let you know the details of the changes once they’ve been finalised.

Thank you for your ongoing support. And feel free to leave a comment below.

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The mobile version of your WebEden Website

Softwate Update

Last week we told you about our new release which means that your WebEden website now has a mobile version suitable for smartphones and other mobile devices.

Mobile phone, smartphone or tablet?

One of the most complicated parts of this was making sure we built a version for all screen sizes – including tablets and mobile phones – and which detected whether the device was running Flash.

Broadly speaking, mobile phones will see the mobile HTML version, other devices without Flash (including the iPad) will see the desktop HTML, and any device with Flash installed will see the Flash version.

The Destop version of a WebEden website:

And the mobile version of the same site:

Mobile HTML Version

This is the first time we have built a mobile HTML version, so we’ve called it, erm, version 1.0! Its set up for small screen mobiles so all the content of your website is in a single column. Images are resized, links are larger to make them easier to press, and navigation uses a roll out menu. This makes the whole website easier to read and navigate.

This is definitely a work in progress. There are lots of things we’d like to do to improve it, and we’d like you to tell us how you want it changed too.

How the mobile version works

One of the reasons why people love WebEden is because you can use it to design in any way you like. We don’t restrict where you put your content and images, but allow you to drag them round the page and resize them until you’re happy.

That’s great from a design perspective, but because there’s often no formal architecture it make it challenging for us to write logical code that turns this unordered design into a formal structure for a mobile.

So for the mobile version we had to write an algorithm that analyses your free form design, makes sense of the order, and then lays it out in a single column. The code needs to make assumptions about what’s important and what’s not.

Columns and groups

In order to create a structure for each page we try to group objects which lie over the top of or near to each other (on the X and Y axis) into rows and columns.

Here’s a tip: Keep related content lined up, either in a line or on the Y axis, so it helps us group them correctly.

We assume the widest column on your website is the most important and display that highest on the page, with the other grouped content falling in a single column beneath.

Another Tip: Make sure your most important content is in the widest column.

Headers and footers

We then identify the header as content at appears above the site menu. As for the footer we use the placement of widgets such as the login button or the social media links as an indication of footer content. If you don’t have these then we assume the last row is the footer.

Tip number 3: Try testing the position of objects to help us correctly work out what goes in the header and footer.

Ignored items

There are some parts of your design that are there for pure aesthetics, and we ignore these for the mobile version. These include some images, empty text boxes, or items covered by other objects. Let’s say for example you place a coloured square behind some text. We make a decision that the text itself is the most important part of the design and render that in HTML, whilst leaving out the coloured square.

Tip 4: If you definitely want an image to show up in the mobile version then make sure it’s not covered by anything else.

We realise this isn’t perfect so are working to improve it for the next release.

HTML Design

The mobile HTML version of your website is fairly generic. For example, we use the HTML background colour and use that. We don’t apply additional styling to text or menu colour. Again, this is something we’ll improve next time around.

Mobile Menu

On the mobile HTML version the ‘menu’ button at the top will always display, even if you have hidden the menu from the page on your desktop site. This is important to make sure that users can always navigate the site.

Headlines for SEO (H1, H2 and H3)

At the moment the first ‘title’ text box on each page is set as the H1. Other ‘title’ text boxes are given H2. In the body text a bold line less than 120 characters is given H3.

That’s it

That’s the basic intro to the mobile version of your website, how we make decisions about what goes where, and some guidance on how to change how it looks.

We really want to find out what you think of the mobile version, or if you are having any problems, so please leave a comment and let us know what you think.

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New Release: Mobile version, shapes & more

Softwate Update

Well we thought we’d have this out last year, and then we tried to do it a couple of weeks ago. Now we’re finally live with a WebEden release to get really excited about.

The developers have been working flat out on this release since early last year – we let them out in the sun for half and hour in September but they’ve been locked back in their windowless room ever since. Because this is a big project. We’ve had to rewrite some of the central parts of the WebEden system in order to integrate the mobile HTML roadmap (released now), the new Blog (released shortly) and e-commerce features (after that, not long).

Mobile HTML version of your website

We’ve now created the technology that will simultaneously publish a full Flash version of your website (for desktops and laptops), a desktop HTML version (for those people who haven’t installed Flash), and a mobile HTML version optimised for the small screen.

Here’s a desktop version of a site:

And the same site on a mobile phone:

The mobile optimised version your website is rendered in a single column of HTML. This means that all your content appears as a long vertical column which is easy to read and allows the user to scroll down the page. The website navigation is by a roll out menu, which means that most of the screen is devoted to your content.

This is just the first version of the mobile HTML – we’re going to be improving and upgrading it over the next few months. If yours is a website where you think the mobile version isn’t placing your content in the right order, please let us know and we’ll add it to our test cases.

In future, we’ll be adding styling options for the mobile version that will allow you to customise it.

TAKE NOTE: If you’re looking at the HTML version on your mobile and find a page with no content on it, just press refresh and it will display the content correctly. The ’empty page’ will only occur the first time a page is visited following the release. It will happen only once. It will not happen for all users.

New Shapes Widget

The exciting new shapes widgets lets you apply fills, gradients and effects to lots of different shape objects, usefully allowing you to customise the basic design of your website. Shapes is a project that’s going to be added in the next few months – we’ll be letting you apply these effects to text boxes, the blog, and images.

Option to turn off background to give a very cool design

There’ now a feature which lets you turn off the Flash background of the site. In its place you get the HTML background. Doing this makes it possible to do the full screen image / fluid web design style that is so in vogue right now, with big headers and footers.

That’s it for now.

As we keep banging on, we’re shortly going to be releasing the blog and e-commerce. We’re just sorry they can’t all come at the same time.

We really want to know what you think of the new release, and would love to see the new designs that you can come up with using shapes and backgrounds. Please leave us a comment below and let us know what you think.

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WebEden Free Website Charity Giveaway

Softwate Update

We get all sorts of people building websites with WebEden.

Some have a hobby or an interest they want to share with the world. We have lots of clubs who want somewhere to show off team photos and results. Others are small businesses using the web to service customers and find new ones.

Last but not least are charities. Because the WebEden website builder is so easy to use (and so low cost), WebEden is a popular way for people in charities to build their own website.

We’re really happy to be able to serve this sector so well – so much so that we’re going to give away 100 Free Websites to charities.

Totally Free

We will pay for a year subscription to either WebEden Lite or Standard for any UK charity. This includes a free website, free website building tools, free hosting, a free domain name and up to 5 free email addresses. Free for a whole year.

How to qualify

All you need to be is a UK Charity registered with the Charity Commission. You need to use your free website for your charity. All we ask is that you add a link to your website indicating that this is a website provided by Website Builder WebEden.

How to Apply

To apply add the following details to the comments box below:

Your Name
Your Charity Name
Your Charity Number
What your Charity Does
Your Email Address
Your Phone  Number

What criteria will we use to select the winners?

The first 100 genuine applicants will receive a free website for their charity.

When will you find out if you have a free website?

Depending on how fast we receive applications, we hope to start notifying lucky recipients at the end of January.

That’s it!

We look forward to receiving your applications!

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