Monday, 10 July 2017

British Airways Mystery Tour

BA plane
A family of frequent flyers with British Airways registered with for a service that enables family members to pool their air miles via a British Airways Executive Club Household Account. 

Each person who registered received an email from BA, giving a confirmation link to add the new account. Each person is required to use the link to  connect to a specific page on the BA website to complete their registration. Linking from the first few emails worked as expected.

Then something odd happened with the last one...

The link in one email led to an obvious phishing website which was running a video and sales pitch. The family member quickly deleted the tab from their browser. They returned to the email and tried the link again, to be presented with a different sales pitch. Again, they closed the tab and, this time, also the browser.

Starting afresh, they tried a third time and up popped a warning “Your computer is infected. Do not turn off your browser or your data may be lost…" etc. The user shutdown the computer, disconnected their external backup, and called for support (an associate who works with The BPc).

The computer appeared no worse for wear and the B.A. emails appeared to be genuine, correctly formed and with similar code to the other emails that all worked as expected. However, on closer inspection, the link on the 'problem' email was slightly different - the dot was missing after the www giving a link at rather than

from the air & waiting to fish
leaving the skies for a spot of fishing
And there was the problem: is a phishing website owned by a squatter!

Copy/Pasting the link from the email into a browser, manually, and inserting the dot in the correct place between the www and britishairways, enabled the link to work as expected, going to the appropriate website page to complete registration.

For some reason, in this one email from British Airways, the link was formed incorrectly.

The phishing website is an opportunistic one like hundreds of others, waiting for an unsuspecting surfer to mistype a web address. Luckily, in this case, there was no harm done. You can TechCrunch for more good & bad examples.

Although you might expect the odd mis-type to take you on an unexpected journey when using the internet, you don’t expect a major corporation like British Airways to direct you to a highly suspect website!

BA has been informed, so hopefully this particular gate will be closed today. We'll keep you posted if/when we hear something :)

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Clients' Websites Recently Designed & Published

Of the websites we mentioned as 'under construction' in a previous post, one is still waiting for some final information. The other is the showcase for a family run accounting services company based in London and Hertfordshire. During the design phase, there were a couple of reincarnations but we finally launched the SJ Accounts Solutions website earlier this year.
We designed a nice little website for SmithHamiltonLaw but since we've handed it over, the person appointed to update it has, in our opinion, lost much of the design balance. The home page text is too small to read. 'Designed by TheBPc' has been removed from the site but we are quite happy about that in the circumstances. Pity though.
Recently, we delivered a website for Jim Germaney Driving Tuition. When Jim became an independent instructor, he was looking for a website designer and was referred to The BPc by another independent instructor who is still very pleased with the unique design we delivered a number of years ago.
We also redesigned The BPc website.

For website design, optimised content writing and meta-data optimisation, regular news posts, social media management, logo design and related graphic design... briefly jot your requirements on an email or call/leave a message and we'll get back to you.

Finally, we have a number of websites under construction, in Herts and London. If you can't wait for our next portfolio update, follow TheBPcUK on Twitter or Facebook.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

First New Website Design in 10 Years

For several years, The BPc has begun work on a total renovation of whenever there was some quiet time, such as Christmas or August, but never to the point of completion. Finally, we have published our brand new website in time for the start of 2017 business.

Tech-note: the original website was hand-coded in HTML and the new website is built in WordPress.

Over time, demands from our clients have followed varying business trends in marketing, graphic design, desktop publishing and business internet services, e.g. optimised website design and social media management.

Of all the designs we could choose, why this one?

Its presentation is simple, allowing viewers to find the information they are looking for as easily as possible (we hope). We've selected images of different styles - some vibrant, some cool, many that we've created ourselves. Above is the a screen shot of part of the home page, the other pages use a side-by-side layout, as shown below.

Amongst our future plans, we shall be adding to the website blog which, in our opinion, has an attractive layout. At present, the following topics have been covered for the launch:

Some other website designs are showcased on our site, with links to their related case studies and further links to the clients' websites, where you can find their contact information to help you with your independent research into the quality of our services.

Visit our new blog posts on our website by clicking the above 'News & Blog' image.

Friday, 23 September 2016

How to Embed a PowerPoint Presentation into a Web page or Blog

Recently, a client asked whether they could include a PowerPoint presentation to run within their website....

How easy this is for each application depends on your website or blog platform and whether you currently update your blog or website content. Below are the instructions for WordPress website pages or posts and Google Blogger. They are based on having a MicroSoft account and a One Drive account - it's easy to set them up and if you have Windows 10, you are probably already set up. The terminology we are using refers to a Windows-based computer with MicroSoft Office, rather than a Mac or iPad.

You can choose an existing PPT file or create a new one and copy, move or save it, as appropriate, to a OneDrive folder, in exactly the same way as you would store a file on your PC. The One Drive folders should be visible in the left column of Windows Explorer, as shown below.

Log into your Microsoft account and go to OneDrive in your browser. Tick the box in the upper-right corner of the file to select the file you want to embed. Click Embed on the top of the page, and then choose Generate.

click to enlarge image to make it readable

Copy and paste the resulting code into the HTML window of your website or blog... et voilĂ !

Please click through our test presentation, below.

Get in touch if you get stuck and we'll try to help (no charge, no obligation).

For more insights on how to engage with your readers, peruse our post about adding videos to your blog or website. The principle is similar, using third party media such as YouTube.

Further information: PowerPoint WebApp & SkyDrive-OneDrive / PowerPoint and Office 365-SharePoint

Friday, 9 September 2016

Don't Scoff! Social Media is now paramount in Business

For those who think Google has it all their own way in determining the rise and fall of a website's popularity, be aware that Social Media is giving it a good run for its money. Small Businesses that focus on Google alone would be well advised to pay more attention to at least two forms of social media. Depending on your product or service and potential client base, you need to determine the best media for you - Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Google+ even Tumblr, Instagram or Pinterest. 

First of all, a warning about some of the statistics you are likely to see: they are often non-UK-specific. This matters a great deal if you are primarily a local business that rarely exports.

In the UK (as in the whole world) Facebook is the most widely used social media. Pfft! I hear you say - Facebook is just for chit-chat and sharing silly photos and videos. Consider, though, that we are not courting friends via our personal accounts, we are sharing insights and promoting products via our Facebook BUSINESS page. It's completely different! Good photos do work well though.

Facebook posts, when popular (i.e. liked and shared) often pop back into timelines a few times over the course of a couple of days. You can set a Facebook business page to automatically post to a Twitter account too - that's one less job to do.

Twitter is widely used by businesses and is more the equivalent of throw-away comments - send the same message several times, using different words if possible, several times a week. Add relevant hash-tags and occasional images. In between tweeting your own stuff, try to like and re-tweet other interesting content - this will usually encourage interaction from the account who posted the original (unless, of course, it's someone like 'the official account of the Duke of London' - is there one?).

A study of UK users of Facebook and Twitter revealed some interesting stats. Between 60%-70% claimed to follow accounts to keep up to date with the latest news from those accounts - and not to share nice pictures of their coffee and snacks!

One of our clients is getting far better results from advertising on Facebook for £10 per day than from advertising with Google Adwords for £30 per day. This may not last forever but it works for now.

Linked In is nowhere near as popular as FB or Twitter but it's definitely worth a try as you are likely to have a completely different set of followers.

The problem is that unless you interact with your followers on any of these media, you will not know how to build on the benefits. Small business owners usually fall into three categories: they don't have time to spend on managing social media, they don't have the inclination, and 'other'. At The BPc, we can  definitely assist with the first two and may be able to help with the 'other' category. Ideally, we work with you rather than doing it all for you, so you still have to be slightly social but just with us!

We're not about mass tweets, we are about interaction; quality not quantity. If that sounds like the way you want to work, get in touch! You can comment on here or send a message via Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, 27 June 2016

How SEO has Attained Adulthood

Social networking
Hats off to Google!

Whilst I still believe the search-engine giants to be manipulative and to favour businesses who can afford to pay for advertising and high profile professional promotional services, I accept that this is just the way that business has always been done. Throughout history, money generates money, most of the time.

However, Google has taken a moral stand against some kinds of 'cheating' and has patiently trained website owners to work with them, rather than against them. To be fair on website owners, most of them are not bad, just naiive, and Google was a bit heavy-booted at first.

Still, we're on fairly stable ground now and SEO practices are, to some extent, standardised. In the world of small businesses (SMEs), this has been assisted in some part by the standardisation of website and e-commerce developer packages and their recommended themes and popular add-ons. For example, the use of WordPress to create a website with Yoast or similar plug-ins as basic SEO guides.
  • It is easier for website developers to create good quality, standardised - but unique - website for clients
  • It is easier for website owners/managers to maintain current data on their websites
  • it is easier to integrate Social Networking - the primary source of links to SME websites
With equal availability of low-cost tools and general knowledge, it is less easy to get an edge over competitors who have more muscle, even if you have a 'better' product or service.

SEO on a Budget

If you can't afford to get ahead, at least try to stay in the game. Whether you do it yourself or farm it out, there are certain practices you should follow.
  • Website page content should be full of interesting information for your potential clients/customers. For clarity (and SEO) use the product name rather than 'it' (but don't over-do it!) and try to write at least 300 words per page/topic. Include images (with alt-tags) where appropriate - it helps to make text more readable. Use keywords or phrases that your clients might use in their searches and, when there is more information available on another page, link to it with meaningful text.
  • Linking to your website from other websites is best when the pages that are linked from and to contain similar keywords. Remember that quality generally overrides quantity (although there are plenty of examples where this seems not to be the case). Forum sites with genuine links to your website are doubly useful as they are valued by users and produce good quality human traffic.
  • Social Media is underrated by many website owners. Primarily, for business, the top three are considered to be Twitter, Linked-In and Facebook. However, depending on your business, you may have good results from Pinterest, YouTube and Google+. If you don't have time or inclination to run your social media accounts properly, there are several inexpensive third parties who will manage them for you for a reasonable monthly fee.

Once the foregoing is in place, your next consideration is to include a blog.
  • Typically, off-site (Google blogger or Wordpress) or integrated into your WordPress website;
  • May be used for news, case-studies, discussion topics, guest posts, "thought leadership" etc.

Link to Blog-related posts.


Should you require our services, please let us know. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Tips: Photos for your Website

If you are taking your own photographs to include in your website design, here are some tips to keep your website designer happy and achieve a more professional finish.

Set up your Camera

Whether you are using a digital SLR or a smartphone, set your camera to at least 5Megapixels (2592x1552), preferably 8Megapixels (3264x1952) or more.

Set up your Shot 

Unless you have a specific requirement for "portrait" (tall) images, you should take your photographs with a "landscape" orientation. It is surprising how many people forget this when using their smartphones.

takng photographs and cropping

Leave more room around the edges than you think you need, keeping the subject central - the edges can be cropped and often edited (to remove objects or repeat scenery) as required, without stretching to increase the width. This is especially important if using wide banner header images on your website. Also, try to keep horizons horizontal - photographs can have tilt correction during editing if there is sufficient space around the main image.

Cropping and Editing

If you are cropping or editing the image yourself, remember to store the original full size photograph and work on a copy - give the copy a meaningful name rather than pic-01 (see below). You can then use the original to generate several different shapes and sizes at any time.

Images for Websites

When your website designer asks for images, offer to send a copy of the original photograph or the specific size that is requested. If you are uploading images yourself to update your WordPress website, check the maximum size necessary - uploading several images at 5600pixels wide will slow down the website's performance - usually a 2000-ish pixel width is adequate.

Before you upload images, ensure that they have meaningful titles, e.g. pink trainers rather than img-01, and add a descriptive Alt-title or Alt-text when using images on your website or blog, which helps search engines to index them properly.

Thanks to Professional Solutions (website design-and-build) #Herts for inspiring this post.