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Improving Business Efficiency

I had the pleasure over the last month of working with a small business whose mail order division had grown very rapidly in the last 12-18 months and were in need of streamlining their processes.

Many businesses starting out in mail order eventually run into these problems. In the early days of low order volume, efficiency isnt so important – you print the orders, input them in your accounting software, write the labels, pack them in boxes/jiffy bags and it takes fairly little time regardless of how you do it.  Once you get up to dozens of orders a day though, let alone hundreds, every little inefficiency builds up.  Before you know it, what used to take minutes now takes hours and you find yourself struggling with the workload or having to spend out on hiring new staff.

But it doesnt have to be that way.  In our first business, we went within the space of a couple of years from zero orders to over 500 orders a day.  If we’d have stuck to our initial procedures, we’d have had to employ many, many more members of staff or we’d have gradually built up a significant backlog of orders.  We offered same day despatch and next day delivery and there’s no way our customers would have let us get away with slower shipping, whilst the employing more staff would have killed our profitability.  So we found through trial and error how to streamline our processes and by the time we sold that business, we could handle over 500 orders a day as easily as we could handle 15-25 orders a day in the beginning.

With the company I mentioned at the start of this post, we helped reduce order admin/processing time from up to four hours a day (before the orders were even sent to the warehouse) to just minutes via the integration of their various systems. The best thing is that as their orders continue to grow, the processing time should barely change whereas without these changes it would have continued to grow exponentially.  Lots of manual data entry now just takes a few clicks on a mouse and accounting data and shipping labels are ready.

If you are part of a small business experiencing growing pains, especially in the mail order/online retail sector, we can help.  We can advise on how to streamline your own office and warehouse operations, at a very reasonable cost that will seem cheap compared with the time and potential expense you will save.  Please drop us a message if you are interested to know more.

Just Launched: www.eclipsekickboxing.co.uk

Our latest web design project has been a site redesign for Eclipse Kickboxing and Gracie Jiu Jitsu in Wolverhampton. In business since 1989, Eclipse has long been a successful martial arts gym in the centre of the city and were looking to update their website and really showcase what goes on at the club as well as providing a great user experience.

The result is a visually appealing, feature heavy, easy to navigate site. It makes heavy use of video footage from within the gym to really give the browser a sense of what to expect when they walk through the door, taking away that initial trepidation that many people have when joining a new gym. Amongst the many features of the site are very details timetables, dedicated pages for each trainer/instructor, a shop, a blog, an FAQ page, image and video galleries and an events section where browsers can buy tickets to upcoming seminars. We also integrated their existing student curriculum software and booking system. The website is fully responsive, adjusting to screen size and device.

Making Websites Faster With Cloudflare

About a year ago, I wrote about the importance of page speed for website users and for search engine optimization. Lately I’ve been designing a lot of sites and using a variety of new techniques to boost speed further. Here’s the latest GT Metrix report for this site:

new-page-speed

Page load time has reduced from 3.5s to just 0.9s and page speed score is up to 98%. This has been achieved via several plugins for Word Press (the software this site runs on) and the use of Cloudflare Content Delivery Network. Cloudflare is free to use (unless you upgrade to a more premium account version) and it optimizes the delivery of your web pages so that visitors get much quicker load times. To read more on how it works, please visit their website – https://www.cloudflare.com/overview. It’s extremely easy to set up, just create your account and then change your domain name servers to point to Cloudflare. Cloudflare then sits between your domain name and your webhosting package, boosting your website performance and also screening out threats.

Cloudflare has a variety of additional functions even with the free user account level, such as minification of javacript, CSS and HTML.

New Project: www.combatathlete.co.uk

A redesign for Telford’s #1 MMA Gym is our latest web design job. Combat Athlete needed a new, fresher, more professional site to showcase the training and facilities that they offer. The finished product is a sleek design, full of images of their club and a wealth of information on their services. Features include:

– Class timetable and price tariff modules easily administered through the admin panel
– Events calender
– Social media integration

If you are looking for Mixed Martial Arts in Telford, Combat Athlete is the place to go!

Our Latest Project: www.loco-investing.com

Our latest web design project is actually one of our own websites – www.loco-investing.com. This is our pet project, a website devoted to stock market and property investment where we provide articles, news, analysis, discussion and educational information on all aspects of investing in the stock market and in property. Share investing is a complex business but one we enjoy and are very active in. We also have a growing portfolio of properties that we rent out as long term investments, so feel well qualified to provide information on that sector.

The Loco Investing website has been up for a number of months, but we decided to change it from it’s original form of a fairly basic personal style blog to something far more professional and corporate looking. We also wanted to switch the software from Drupal to WordPress since we are using WordPress more and more now with our web design clients so we want to become experts at it. The more sites we build with more and more features using WordPress, the better we get and the better a service we can provide our customers. We have also completely re-branded the site with a new logo and new colour scheme.

We think the new Loco Investing site looks great and hope you agree. If you have an interest in stock market and/or property investment then please do check it out and bookmark us for future visits as we will be putting a lot of great content on there.

The Importance of Page Speed

Many people underestimate the importance of page speed for their website – that is, how quickly the individual pages of their site load. Not only does it matter to end users, who are far less likely to stay on your site the longer it takes to load, but it appears to matter in search engine rankings too. It’s widely believed that page speed is factored into the complex algorithms the search engines like Google use for their rankings.

We use two tools to maximize the page speed of our websites – GT Metrix and Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

We’re just putting the finishing touches to this, our own new site, and part of that final process is getting page speed down. Just an hours work, using both of the above tools and following the recommendations they provided, has taken us from a starting point of a 58% page speed grade on GT Metrix with a 7 second page load on a 56kb connection, to a 97% score with the page load down to only 3.49 seconds. This is time very well spent! Here’s our latest readout:

Importance of Page Speed

It’s not always possible to implement all of GT Metrix and Google Page Insight’s recommendations depending on the software and server set up, but good results can almost always be achieved. Don’t underestimate the importance of page speed for search engine rankings and user experience. We recommend that at the very least you run your own site through GT Metrix and see how you fare. And if you need help speeding up your site or if you need a fast and efficient new website, please keep us in mind. We offer affordable web design or we can work with existing sites to improve page load speed.

The Importance of Page Speed For Search Engine Rankings and User Experience