NSDesign https://www.nsdesign.co.uk Making Digital Work Tue, 11 Oct 2016 21:29:56 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 What is WeChat ? https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/what-is-wechat/ Mon, 10 Oct 2016 17:06:56 +0000 https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=5042 If you have lived or worked outside of China for the past 5 years then you may well be unaware of the huge social media phenomenon that is WeChat. WeChat... Read more »

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If you have lived or worked outside of China for the past 5 years then you may well be unaware of the huge social media phenomenon that is WeChat. WeChat (微信 WeiXin in Chinese) was created in 2011 by the Chinese digital giant ‘Tencent’, also the creator of QQ (the largest email and IM service in the middle kingdom).  We asked Shanghai based blogger Benji Lamb to give us some background information on WeChat, as well as some case studies of businesses taking advantage of WeChat.

An Introduction to WeChat:

WeChat is predominantly a mobile application but there is also an online version. It is the leading social network in China with over 700 million active users. It offers a whole plethora of services that most significantly (from a digital marketing perspective) leads to users remaining within this single application to fulfill the majority of their needs. This means more time which equates to greater exposure to content. WeChat have arguably built a platform that integrates services in a way that caters for the user’s lifestyle more wholly and effectively than any current western app does.

It boasts a host of features:

Instant Messaging: WeChat began life as a simple IM app. Users can now send text, voice messages, pictures and video ‘sights’ to one another. In a sense you could compare this function to Whatsapp or SnapChat. The use of WeChat’s messenger is the main method of communication for the younger generation nowadays which has essentially resulted in the death of the text function of a mobile phone.

Moments: This is WeChat’s version of Facebook’s timeline and wall. You post a ‘moment’ via your profile, and it can be seen on your contacts’ Moments feed. When posting a moment an image or ‘sight’ (video) has to be included, text is optional. Content from official, brand channels is often shared via user’s moments.

Official accounts with subscription. The most important feature for marketers and content creators. It allows an organization to have a subscription-based account to share content with their audience. It is somewhat similar as a fan-page on Facebook. Companies and brands often develop promotional offers for WeChat followers that encourage users to share with family and friends.

Microsites and app-within-the-app. You can have your own website or app running inside the application. This presents a significant opportunity for brands as well as online retailers with your micro-site being highly customizable.

WeChat e-wallet: This gives users the opportunity to connect the platform to their bank. It  allows them to use the app as a method of payment in many shops, simply by scanning a QR code. You can also buy directly online or in WeChat m-commerce platforms. Payment can be made by scanning QR codes or transferring payments to other users. Hongbao’s (red envelopes) can also be used to great effect, users can open mystery envelopes with prizes and cash incentives inside.


WeChat currently has over 10,000 active advertisers and over 1,000 publishers and is connected to more than 67,000 different apps.

From its launch in Q1 2011, WeChat went from 2.8 million active users in Q2 2011 to over 732 million in Q1 2016, see chart below.





WeChat campaigns to take inspiration from

Western brands have been quick to identify the potential of WeChat. However it takes time for marketers to understand what kind of strategies work on the platform, content and strategies evidently need to be tailored for the Chinese market. Today I see an increasing number of very successful campaigns.

1/ Uniqlo, The O2O Success (offline to online or vice versa)


Uniqlo, the Japanese apparel designer and manufacturer is very popular in China with flagship stores in Shanghai and Beijing. They understood quickly that China was a mobile dominated environment. They have developed a very strong physical presence in the country with their numerous stores, this has allowed then to launch a large scale 020 campaign.

The “style your life” initiative was effective in stores where consumers could try on clothes and stand in front of monitors equipped with cameras to take pictures of themselves with different featured backgrounds such as New-York, Tokyo or London. The picture was then sent to their WeChat account where one third of participants shared it on their Moments. The campaign was a huge success, with a 30% increase of sales for featured items alongside an increase from 400 000 to over one million followers. Each shared image featured Uniqlo’s logo.


2/ Sephora

Sephora the perfume group has its own mobile website within the WeChat platform. There, they reward their regular customers and followers who participate in their campaigns with discounts and exclusive access to promotional events and items. News about Sephora and its products are also featured, it is an efficient channel of communication for the company.

The campaign which attracted most attention tried to emulate the success of a previous marketing campaign based around ‘Bobbie, the purple bear’. Sephora added its own spin to it. Their pink bears and other well liked products were available to win in a contest where users had to take pictures of themselves with pink items and send them in via WeChat. Marketers at Sephora show that they know how to interact with their community.


3/ Mulberry, A Story Behind the Products

wechat3Mulberry is a brand of clothing and accessories which started its WeChat account in 2014. They promote through their microsite on the platform and feature exclusive content such as behind the scenes pictures and videos. They notably develop effective storylines for their brand and products.

These narratives are shared via their WeChat page which will include Chinese women as the protagonists. Mulberry are also particularly good at interacting with customers via the chat function, consumers need to feel connected to the brand. The Chinese market is still relatively unfamiliar with leather luxury products which has allowed them to carve a strong niche.


4/ Twist and Drink

wechat4The Austrian specialists of fruit drinks for children promote social responsibility. They emphasize healthy fruit drinks and ecology with the bottles made of 100% recyclable material, they insist that the production process is waste-free.

On WeChat, they created a Chinese styled campaign with animated cartoon characters, although stereotypical these type of graphics remain very popular in the orient (and not just for children’s brands!). They made an animated, colorful world within the application (with HTML5), with their bottles directly addressing mums in China. Each bottle had its own personality according to its taste. Additionally there were games involving the characters with prizes to be won.


5/ Starbucks

Starbucks is now omnipresent in first and second tier Chinese cities. It is actually a symbol of development in China, showing that your city (and citizens) are rich enough to afford it. As a result, the brand is pre-sold to them but to construct this image they took full advantage of social networks.

They started to make their presence felt on WeChat in 2012, by launching their first “mood” campaign. The principal was simple, you sent the platform an emoticon, and Starbucks replied with a song reflecting your mood according to the emoji your sent. With as much as 22 000 messages a day, it is safe to say it was a success. Being one of the first major brands to make their presence felt digitally has fueled their success in China.


6/ Otte, The Shop that Conquered Chinese Hearts

wechat-otteOtte is a relatively small fashion boutique for women’s clothing based in New-York. It has a very small structure but interestingly in terms of its e-commerce; 50% of all online sales are from Chinese consumers.

This brand has invested in Wechat Marketing, with attractive content and a well designed WeChat site. Otte are good at embedding QR codes in all their branding which when scanned links directly to their official subscription page.

This pushed them to open their second store ever in Shanghai, 16 years after the first one in New-York. They cannot be compared to huge groups such as Uniqlo, but what they lack in physical presence they make up for digitally. Proof that effective digital marketing is king.

This example demonstrates that smaller structures can be successful in China. As long as they provide Chinese consumers with what they are looking for, and make themselves visible through smart communication on the web.


7/ Window Malaysia

wechat-malaysiaWindow Malaysia is an evolution of Visa Malaysia built on the same concept. It is a portal, a hub which has the ambition of becoming the first stop for Chinese looking for anything related to Malaysia, whether it is simple tourism (including medical tourism), education, investment, visa assistance, etc.

With much quality information about VISAs in Malaysia they attract a lot of visitors and many other accounts repost their information.

The idea behind their project is to attract visitors through quality content about Malaysia, encourage people in China to know it better and eventually awaken interest in investing or travelling there themselves.

WeChat is sometimes refered to as the ‘’WeChat times’’, Chinese users increasingly turn to WeChat for their news and information about the world. Without a presence on WeChat you are largely invisible in China.


WeChat is a very user friendly application with versions in both English and Chinese. The most phenomenal thing about the app is that users use it for so many services and are thus constantly interacting with it. It has been designed to retain users, to provide a complete service so that the Chinese do not need to leave WeChat, this ease of use is the key to WeChat’s success in China; such a high user exposure creates a key opportunity for brands digitally in China.

Benji Lamb is a digital marketing specialist based in Shanghai. For more information see his blog and website here.


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What makes a good blog? https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/makes-good-blog/ Fri, 23 Sep 2016 13:54:15 +0000 https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=5038 If your homepage is your shop window, your blog acts as your store’s furnishings; little additional elements that set you apart from other brands, identify your place in the market... Read more »

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title_blog_typewriterIf your homepage is your shop window, your blog acts as your store’s furnishings; little additional elements that set you apart from other brands, identify your place in the market and entice your users to make that purchase. But what exactly is the purpose of a blog, and how can you make sure yours is the best? Here are our tips:

What is a blog?

A blog is an article, placed online to reach your target market. Sounds simple enough right? But don’t be fooled, there is much more to it than that.

Blogs are integral in any company’s marketing toolkit. Use them right, and your rankings will soar and you may even close more leads. Use them wrong, and your website will be passed over for flashier, more informative alternatives.

Why do I need a blog?

A blog will help your website and your company get noticed by the people who matter — your customers, your industry and even your competitors. A blog establishes your company’s place in your industry and your readers’ minds.

You can use a blog to build a relationship with your target audience. This is particularly effective if you publish content regularly, so readers know when to expect it. By publishing informative, engaging and helpful blog posts, your readers will associate your brand with the solution to their problem and see you as the thought leaders on this topic. A successful blog will make you their go-to source of information, and persuade them to become loyal and regular customers.

In the digital world, search engine optimisation (SEO) is extremely important. Google loves fresh, informative and insightful content, and tends to push this further up the rankings. By regularly publishing optimised content, your blog will help your website be visible to a wider audience.

Blogs can be shared on social media. Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram and many other channels have the ability to promote your blogs and prompt your readers to engage through likes, favourites, shares or retweets. You can also reuse content on these channels through hashtags like ‘Throwback Thursday’ and promote your backlog of content to show your extensive knowledge surrounding the subject.

What should I write about?

Blogs are your opportunity to inform your target audience about you, your product, the problem you’re solving and how it can benefit them directly. Its aim is to give your readers what they want — even if they’re not particularly sure what that is.

Sales funnel

When writing blog content, keep all aspects of the sales funnel in mind. For top of funnel content, think about how you can draw them in. With middle of funnel content, try to educate your readers, for example with ‘how-to’ content or case studies. For bottom of funnel content, you should be really persuading them to complete a purchase. However, don’t go too heavy on the sales element — that’s what your product pages and calls to action are for.


A blog should be anywhere between 300–1,600 words. Anything less will not be picked up by Google, and anything more could be better used as a white paper or e-book. When writing a blog post, try not to babble on just to reach that 1,600 word count — concise sentences that explain the topic well are best. Use a longer word count to explore a subject in depth, rather than just repeating the same thing over and over.

Choosing topics

Finding topics for regular blog posts may seem daunting, but with an organised approach and a clear direction you can create a successful series of blogs. Make a content plan with these three factors in mind:

  • Frequency
  • Quality
  • Shareability

Find inspiration from other blogs and currently trending topics. Think of your buyer personas and what they would want to know about your product, company and industry. If you can, turn your blogs into a series with a coherent message, so your audience can look forward to this week after week.

Once you have devised your content plan, brainstorm and mind map the posts before writing them, using the headline as an anchor. This way, you can make sure that your message stays consistent throughout all of your blog posts.

Creating engaging content is the key, and believe it or not it’s not all about you; highlight other influencers and thought leaders (but try to avoid writing about competitors!). Comment on industry trends and current events. It’s about promoting ideas and information surrounding your product rather than focusing solely on your product — no one likes those who blow their own trumpet after all!

10 must-have blog elements

  1. Eye-catching title
  2. Punchy first sentence
  3. Points supported by statistics and data
  4. Interesting visuals (images, videos, infographics etc.)
  5. Comments section
  6. Social media buttons to enable easy sharing
  7. Yoast SEO plugin
  8. Simple colour scheme and design that’s easy to navigate
  9. Point of difference from other blogs — angle, tone etc.
  10. Call to action

So there you have it — a quick, simple guide to writing a successful blog post. Good luck!

If you need any more advice on creating blog posts, or website design in general, get in touch with NS Design today.

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10 tips for designing the best home page https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/10-tips-designing-best-home-page/ Fri, 09 Sep 2016 09:39:09 +0000 https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=5034 Your home page is the shop window for your website. It’s usually your customer’s first impression of you, so you don’t want to disappoint your audience. Most of your online... Read more »

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home pageYour home page is the shop window for your website. It’s usually your customer’s first impression of you, so you don’t want to disappoint your audience.

Most of your online traffic is sent to your home page, so it needs to be exciting, informative and relevant to your visitors. In fact, the Neilson Norman Group has said that if you don’t capture your visitor’s interest within the first 20 seconds, you don’t have a chance of winning them over.

So how do you make a compelling and interesting home page? Don’t worry. We’ve got 10 tips and tricks to help your home page flourish and encourage your users to travel down that sales funnel.

Take a look:

10 tips to improve your home page

1.      Who, what, where, how (and what again)

Your home page must answer all of these in very little time. With a quick glance, your visitor should know:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Where you’re based
  • How your service/product works
  • What you can do for them

If your home page doesn’t give them all of this information in that elusive 20 second window, your visitors will leave and seek answers elsewhere.

If you’re a big brand like Apple or Coca Cola, you may not need to explain exactly what you do, but it’s always best to have a quick explanation just in case.

2.      Talk to your audience

Chances are that your visitors haven’t just found your site by accident; whether it’s through searches or social media, they will be interested in you and your product. Make sure your home page resonates with your target audience by speaking in their language — no over-complicated technical language, just simple explanations that you know they will understand.

3.      Compelling value proposition

You must persuade your visitor that there is a valid reason for them to stick around. This is the time to unleash your compelling value propositions — tell them what sets you apart from your competitors and why they should choose to stay on your website.

Use Calls to Action (CTAs) shortly after these to lead your user to the next step of the sales process.

4.      A fantastic design

With hundreds and thousands of snazzy web templates out there, you don’t really have an excuse for a shoddy website. A professional and pleasing design builds trust, communicates value and makes it easy to navigate. Here are a couple of elements you should consider when designing your home page:

  • Layout
  • CTA placement
  • Whitespace
  • Colours
  • Fonts
  • Supporting elements (images, videos, links etc)

Your design should also be optimised for multiple devices. More and more people use tablets and mobiles for web browsing, so make sure your home page is responsive to these formats.

5.      Change it up

Static pages are boring — especially for return visitors. Use sliders and videos to add a dynamic element to your home page.

Make sure you’re refreshing your home page content regularly, and, if you’re linking to blogs or news pieces, that they’re regularly updated to prove to your visitors that you keep up with current affairs.

6.      No fluff

Everything on your home page should be short, concise and to the point, so avoid flowery or over-complicated text. Powerful, punchy sentences will stick in the visitor’s mind and persuade them to click through to your other pages.

7.      Images

Most people are visual, so an image or even a video that clearly indicates what you offer, placed in the middle of your home page, can go a long way. Use images that capture emotion and cause action — avoid cheesy stock photos if you can. Also, make sure that the images are hi-res, as poor image quality will turn an engaged visitor into a lost lead very quickly.

8.      Testimonials

Never underestimate the power of a testimonial. On your home page, have short snappy sentences from real customers telling visitors how great you are. This validation from outside sources will persuade your visitors to look into your company in more detail, and bring them that one step closer to purchasing your product.

9.      Navigation

One of the most important elements of a good home page, and a good website in general, is its navigation. Your user should be able to navigate around the site easily and without delay. There should be a clear path for them to follow, which should be visible throughout their visit. Most users love a search box, so think about adding one in.

10.  Make sure it’s engaging

You can have the best website design in the world, but if the content itself is not engaging you’re not going to get many leads from your home page. Make your text, images and layout interesting for the reader. You know your target audience — use that knowledge of what makes them tick to get them through to your other pages.

Use these 10 tips to help make your home page the best it can possibly be.

Still have questions about home page design? Contact us today and we’ll be happy to help.


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Why video is something to look out for on social media https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/video-something-look-social-media/ Thu, 25 Aug 2016 14:58:24 +0000 https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=5013 Recently, there has been a huge surge in the popularity of online video: YouTube claims that 4,950,000,000 videos are viewed on its site every day.  Marketers cannot ignore those kinds... Read more »

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video_close_up_mobileRecently, there has been a huge surge in the popularity of online video: YouTube claims that 4,950,000,000 videos are viewed on its site every day.  Marketers cannot ignore those kinds of statistics if they want to stay relevant to their audience.

There are many platforms and formats marketers can use, so we’re here to help you understand the concept of video marketing and help your way on to the (not so big) screen.

Why are videos so popular?

For the user, clips are quicker and easier to interpret than a full-length blog post. In fact, Forbes found that 59% of execs would rather watch a video than read an article. In a busy world where time is a valuable asset, video marketing is definitely the way to go.

They are a direct way to engage with your audience – Facebook reported a 65% hike in engagement by brands who began incorporating clips into their Facebook timelines.

Variations within video

There are many different types of video platform; they all have different features, requirements and metrics so there isn’t really a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Here are a couple of things that vary across platforms:

  • Auto-play – Your film plays automatically, even if your viewer hasn’t clicked on it.
  • Audio-play – The video plays with audio without your viewer actively deciding to watch it.
  • Auto-loop – Your clip loops back to the beginning, automatically, so that it plays over and over again.
  • Time limits – Each platform has a different timespan; Vines are limited to six seconds whilst YouTube is unlimited.
  • Embeddable – It’s ‘embeddable’ if you can share it in a web page outside of the platform.

To find out what each platform can do, take a look at this handy infographic:


How to distribute video content

Making a video requires a considerable amount of time, effort and often money, so you need a solid distribution to make sure it’s seen by as many people as possible.

It must appeal to the audience of your chosen platform, and it should be easy to share across other social media platforms too.

Here’s a quick break down of platforms you can use, their target audience and some tips for content creation.


This is the world’s largest video-sharing network; over 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each month. Technically the site is for everyone, but it does usually sway towards younger users (18-34).

It’s free to upload and view videos, but the quality on YouTube tends to be higher than Vine or Instagram, so businesses may need to invest more in video production for this platform.

Despite having the capacity for unlimited video lengths, the most popular YouTube videos are the shortest – usually just under 3 minutes long.


This is not a video platform per se, but does share video. In fact, Facebook claims that it has an average of 1 billion video views every day.

If you are planning to distribute your videos on Facebook, you must optimise them for mobile viewing as this platform is mostly used on mobile devices. Facebook videos are set to auto-play, so make sure you include a hook in your first few seconds so users stop scrolling and start watching.


This platform belongs to Facebook and has, on average, 200 million monthly active users, though it is primarily used by teens.

The maximum video length is 15 seconds, and can be edited from a series of uploaded videos. Of all the video platforms, Instagram is reported to have the best click through rates.

Instagram is great for businesses with low budgets, trying to reach a younger audience.


Vine videos are six-second-long looping video clips. Some are sceptical of its power, but many users love this short form of humorous video, and the auto-loop feature means they can watch it repeatedly.

There are a few additional platforms you could include in your video marketing strategy:

  • Periscope – for mobile live-streaming
  • Snapchat – not technically a video platform, but you can tell stories via snaps
  • Vimeo – for artistic and creative films
  • Twitter – uses video cards to distribute clips
  • Tumblr – not a traditional channel, but helpful for accessing niche communities

So there you have it, a very brief introduction to video marketing. So get those cameras out, get on the move and start filming your next blockbuster!

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Diary of a Modern Apprentice 2.0 (11 months in!) https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/diary-modern-apprentice-version-2/ Tue, 23 Aug 2016 15:20:24 +0000 https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4988   Where do I start? It has been 11 months since I started here at NSDesign and the time has flown by, as a result of working with talented and... Read more »

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Where do I start? It has been 11 months since I started here at NSDesign and the time has flown by, as a result of working with talented and entertaining individuals. Having such talented colleagues, makes life easier as an apprentice. For example, when you are stuck, you can seek advice from other members of staff who are knowledgeable in that particular field. I have come on leaps and bounds with the help of the four, two-week training blocks that QA Apprenticeships have provided.  The training allowed me to get the foundations in place for learning, and then coming into work and implementing them into your day to day work. This has allowed me to take on more responsibility and help out the team more and more.

So what have I learned during my apprenticeship? During my first block of training, I learned the basics of HTML and CSS, and even designed and built a very basic website. The training helped reinforce what I already knew, as well as teaching me some new skills allowed me to experiment more with websites in my spare time. The next two classes that I went to were for PHP, Fundamentals and advanced. During this they took us though the basic concepts and how PHP works and then showed us how to implement this into our websites and this opened up many more doors on the functionality and design of the website.

Embrace the space

Just before Christmas I attended the social media master class – Embrace the Space – which covers social media use in the business world. Being 20, I thought that I would know the ins and outs social media and how it works but after attending… I realised that I was mistaken. I didn’t realise how much is actually possible – in terms of finding potential customers on the internet. I was in awe, and still am. I’d thoroughly recommend the course to anyone (and no, I’m not on commission). Keep your eyes peeled on our websitetwitter account and facebook page for all the details of the next course date.

The end is near…

As I approach the final five months of my apprenticeship, I hope to continue my learning through working – developing my skills – and of course… finish the apprenticeship! When I finish, I’ll be gaining an SCQF Level 6 Diploma for IT and Telecommunication Professionals – which is a great qualification for my CV! You know what they say… Every day is a school day – it couldn’t be more true!

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Security essentials for your WordPress site https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/security-essentials-wordpress-site/ Thu, 11 Aug 2016 16:55:41 +0000 https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4968 We’ve said before that your website is like your shop window. You want to use it to impress passers-by and draw them in. Sadly, cybercriminals and hackers are all too... Read more »

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WordPress_SecurityWe’ve said before that your website is like your shop window. You want to use it to impress passers-by and draw them in. Sadly, cybercriminals and hackers are all too ready to throw a brick through the window of your unsuspecting site, and make it hard for you to conduct your day-to-day business.

It’s essential to protect your website and keep your cyber security up to date. Here are our top WordPress security tips to make sure that your website is ready for anything.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a great tool for all businesses. It’s an easy to use content management system (CMS) that will help you build a high quality website.

Yes, you may have to pay for certain plugins and themes if you want something really jazzy. But most elements of the site are free and really easy to use. This is why WordPress has cornered 50-60% of the global CMS market.

Unfortunately, its popularity makes WordPress a popular target for hackers and cybercriminals. If you have a WordPress site you need to up your security now. In 2013, 73% of WordPress sites were considered “vulnerable”, so there was a huge surge in methods to ‘harden’ your security. We’ve picked through all of them and found the best ways to keep your site secure.

Install Wordfence – the best in WordPress security

Wordfence is a plugin that is dedicated to keeping WordPress users safe from cyber threats. It acts in real time and even blocks brute force attacks to make sure that your website is secure.

Their ‘forensic lab’ analyses threats in order to develop the latest protection and detection rules. The threat defence feed arms the plugin with the latest firewall rules, malware signatures and a list of malicious IP addresses to keep your website safe.

The security plugin comprises a web application firewall, malware scanner and many other security tools. This makes Wordfence the most complete WordPress protection system on the market. Free and premium versions are available, with the latter offering an ‘alert’ service.

Our other top 6 security tips

  1. Keep your WordPress up to date – tell your webmaster to click that ‘update available’ button as soon as you see it – out of date sites are more vulnerable to attacks.
  2. Keep your plugins and themes up to date too – these act as backdoors into your site’s admin, so make sure yours are properly secured through vetting and updating them regularly.
  3. Delete any plugins or themes you’re not using – why take the chance?
  4. Only use plugins and themes from well-known and reputable sources – WordPress.org is your best bet as they will have already vetted each theme/plugin
  5. Don’t use ‘admin’ as a username – it’s obvious, and hackers will use it to get into your site.
  6. Change your password often. Random number/letter strings are best, and there’s a password generator in your WordPress admin interface.

Use these simple security tips to make sure that your WordPress site is protected from the big bad world of cybercrime. This way, your website will be able to carry on as normal and continue to bring in customers to your business.

For more information on WordPress security, contact NS Design today.

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An A-Z of Scottish Olympians at Rio 2016 https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/scottish-olympians-on-social-media/ Fri, 05 Aug 2016 08:55:50 +0000 https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4933   Over the next few days, a total of 366 athletes will compete for Team Great Britain at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, with Scotland contributing a record breaking 50 athletes.... Read more »

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Over the next few days, a total of 366 athletes will compete for Team Great Britain at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, with Scotland contributing a record breaking 50 athletes. In addition to excelling in their chosen sport, many of these athletes are also social media enthusiasts, engaging with their fans on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Our A-Z of Scottish Athletes allows you to follow your favorite sporting stars as they share their Olympic stories (and hopefully successes). Unlike what you’ll see on the TV or read on the news websites, many of these athletes will provide us with a personal, emotional, behind-the-scenes look at the greatest show on earth. Just make sure to send them your congratulations when they bring home the medals!

Scottish Athletes At RIO 2016 Olympics Games

Katie Archibald Cycling (team pursuit)
Mark Bennett Rugby sevens
Chris Bennett Athletics (hammer)
Karen Bennett Rowing (women’s eight)
Craig Benson Swimming (200m breaststroke)
Andrew Butchart Athletics (5,000m)
Sally Conway Judo (-70kg)
Charlotte Dobson Sailing (49er class)
Eilidh Doyle Athletics (400mA, 4x400m relay)
Mark Dry Athletics (hammer)
Grant Ferguson Mountain biking
Colin Fleming Tennis (doubles)
David Florence Canoe slalom (C1 & C2)
Kirsty Gilmour Badminton (singles)
Katherine Grainger Rowing (women’s double scull)
Angus Groom Rowing (men’s quad)
Camilla Hattersley Swimming (800m freestyle)
Derek Hawkins Athletics (marathon)
Callum Hawkins Athletics (marathon)
Richard Kruse Fencing (foil)
Catriona Matthew Golf
Eilish McColgan Athletics (5,000m)
Jen McIntosh Shooting (50m rifle)
Vicki Meyer-Laker Rowing (women’s open-weight reserve)
Hannah Miley Swimming (200m & 400m Ims)
Stephen Milne Swimming (1500m freestyle)
Laura Muir Athletics (1500m)
Ross Murdoch Swimming (100m breaststroke)
Andy Murray Tennis (singles)
Jamie Murray Tennis (doubles)
Chris O’Hare Athletics (1500m)
Luke Patience Sailing (470 class)
Fiona Pennie Canoe slalom (K1)
Beth Potter Athletics (10,000m)
Daniel Purvis Gymnastics (reserve)
Grace Reid Diving (3m springboard)
Robbie Renwick Swimming (4 x 200m freestyle relay)
Mark Robertson Rugby sevens
Duncan Scott Swimming (4 x 200m freestyle relay)
Sam Scrimgeour Rowing (lightweight men’s reserve)
Lynsey Sharp Athletics (800m)
Alan Sinclair Rowing (men’s pair)
Callum Skinner Cycling (team sprint)
Heather Stanning Rowing (women’s pair)
Polly Swann Rowing (women’s eight)
Tsegai Tewelde Athletics (marathon)
Steph Twell Athletics (5,000m)
Lennie Waite Athletics (3,000m steeplechase)
Dan Wallace Swimming (relay reserve)
Laura Whittle Athletics (5,000m)

The Scots to watch (on Social Media)

With (nearly) all 50 Scottish Athletes using at least one social media platform, we thought we’d make things simpler for you, and give an extra special mention to 5 of our favourites.  If you’re going to watch anyone – watch these guys – not just for their sporting merits, but for their engaging, lively, fun, and passionate updates, helping bring the Rio Olympic Games to life!


Andy Murray

andymurrayThe British number one tennis player disappointed his 3.65 Million followers when he suspended play on his twitter account before this year’s Wimbledon tournament to avoid social media trolls. Commenting on the decision he said, “Obviously there are a lot of people who give you support but Twitter is not always the most pleasant place to hang out. So you try to avoid it as much as you can”. He’s still not back on Twitter (which is a shame – we previously named him amongst our London 2012 Team GB Top Tweeters), but he is back – better, stronger, and full of enthusiasm, particularly on Facebook.

He updates his fans regularly with behind the scenes pictures and will often interact with them directly, sometimes just sharing selfies with his dog!  Andy was recently named Olympic flagbearer for the Great Britain team and expressed his happiness with a Facebook update: “I am very proud to be selected as the Team GB’s flagbearer for the Rio 2016 opening ceremony on friday. To present your country at the games is an unbelievable experience, but to lead out Team GB is an incredible honour and something I will remember for the rest of my life”.


Hannah Miley

hannahThe ever active Commonwealth, European and World Medalist is all set for the 2016 Rio Olympics showdown. She has promised to keep her fans updated on Social Media, saying this in a recent tweet: “Updating my Facebook page with pictures and updates on my journey to Rio. Check it out” . The British swimmer engages well with all her fans and adds plenty of fun and character.


Ross Murdoch

Ross Murdoch made our list of Top Scots because he perfectly understands what his fans want from him, and gives it to them regularly. This 100m breaststroke contender shares information, enthusiasm, loads of pictures and actively socialises with his 14,000+ Twitter followers. There’s a lot of fun from time to time and his character shines through, but he knows the boundaries and you shouldn’t see him tweeting things he’ll regret the next day!


Eilish McColgan

A Scottish contender for the 5,000m woman’s race, Eilish McColgan (the daughter of famous runner Liz McColgan – née Lynch) nearly didn’t make it to Rio due to a serious injury in 2015 resulting in surgery and metal screws in her foot!  Her delight at making the team is shown through most of her social media updates, sharing her rehab programme, and intensive training regimes across all her platforms. She’s a proud Scot, and her desire to perform is evident – she’s even promised to start using Snapchat in Rio.  She might not be favourite to bring home a gold, but we’re certain she’ll bring home some more fans on Facebook!


Camilla Hattersley

This popular Scottish swimmer is prone to outbursts of excitement and passion – and who can blame her! Her spontaneous updates ahead of the Rio Olympic games included promotion of the team GB kit, team selfies on the sofa, a first look at the event tickets, and behind the scenes images of her room in the Athletes Village! All shared in a personal, very authentic manner. Camilla is a great example of great social media engagement. She often Retweets not just her team-mates, but her followers, and gets involved on other athlete’s social profiles too! It’s also great to see Glasgow University (where Camilla studies Aeronautical Engineering) getting behind her and promoting her to the world – Rightly so!



Disclaimer – to the best of my knowledge, the links above represent the official social media accounts of the named athletes.  Please contact me to amend any errors should you find them, and more importantly – if you know of any social media accounts run by either Steph Twell or Richard Kruse, please let me know!  From the 50 Scots, they were the only 2 people I couldn’t find anything for!

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Does your site have a responsive design for every screen? https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/site-responsive-design-every-screen/ Thu, 28 Jul 2016 17:04:44 +0000 https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4928 There are many types of screen. Big ones, small ones, portable ones and even wearable ones. Each UK household has, on average, 7.4 internet devices (according to YouGov). That’s more... Read more »

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responsive_design_screensThere are many types of screen. Big ones, small ones, portable ones and even wearable ones. Each UK household has, on average, 7.4 internet devices (according to YouGov). That’s more than two each!

Sadly, one website won’t fit all of these devices, so you must have a website with a responsive design that adapts to each size screen and to user expectations.

What is a “responsive design”?

A page has a responsive design if:

“Design and development responds to the user’s behaviour and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.”

This means your site has to adapt to all the different screens that it could be presented on, including:

  • Desktop computers
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Smartphones
  • Visual devices such as the iPod Touch
  • Smart watches

And remember, all of these come in different sizes so your site has to be ready for anything.

What are the most popular devices?

Smartphones. People use them for browsing the web, keeping up with social media and even catching Pokémon! Ofcom found that smartphones were the most popular device used for social media, streaming music, watching short video clips, news websites and apps, and browsing online.

The old desktop computer has had its day, and is now only really used for government processes like getting a passport, a driving licence or registering to vote.

devices graph, responsive design

As you can see from the graph above, there is a lot of overlap in device usage. Some people will even switch devices mid-session to ensure they have the best browsing experience. For example, if someone is on a site and the page has a video, they will often switch over to a bigger screen (i.e. a laptop or a tablet). A responsive site will be easy to use, readable and engaging for all devices. An unresponsive site will be difficult to navigate and this may put off its users altogether.

No matter what type of content you create, the website itself (and the content layout), must suit all major devices to give your users the best experience.

What does Google have to say about it?

Responsive web design is very important to Google as it believes in delivering the best user experience. It expects there to be a mobile-friendly version of your site, and it will penalise you if you don’t have one.

If your site’s layout and functionality has not been optimised for mobile devices, your site can appear lower down in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

5 quick tips

  1. Page speed – loading time needs to be fast on mobile devices so minimise code, leverage browser caching and reduce redirects
  2. Don’t block images – Google wants to see them and will use them to determine if your site is responsive
  3. Scroll – make sure your design has one continuous thread with no page breaks
  4. No flash, no pop-ups – they’re annoying and get in the way of your user experience
  5. Remember fat fingers – touch screens can be tricky, so try to help your users avoid accidental clicks

Follow our advice and start thinking about having a fully responsive website design that will keep all of your users happy – no matter what device they’re using.

If you want to know more about responsive web design, or anything else to do with your website, get in touch with our experts today!

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Your online presence – avoid fatal faux pas! https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/online-presence-avoid-fatal-faux-pas/ Thu, 14 Jul 2016 11:35:45 +0000 https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4909 Not so long ago, first impressions would be made when you encountered someone face-to-face or on the phone. But since then, everything has gone digital. For businesses, this means customers... Read more »

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online impressionNot so long ago, first impressions would be made when you encountered someone face-to-face or on the phone. But since then, everything has gone digital. For businesses, this means customers are checking them out online before they make direct contact.

At least in the good old days of networking events, if you turned up un-showered, wore an ill-fitting outfit or got a bit too merry at the after-event drinks, you knew exactly why your phone wasn’t ringing the next day. Now you don’t even get the opportunity to make a fool of yourself in person because your first impression is made in cyberspace.

To cultivate the perfect online image takes hard work and dedication, but seeing as it’s the shop window for you, your company and your products and services, it’s definitely worth putting the time in.

Here are the main areas on which to focus:


As most communication is now done online, you’ll need a professional email address, preferably one that matches your website’s domain name.

You should also pay attention to your email signature. It can be tempting to try and include any and all relevant information in your signature, but it’s best to keep it clean and straightforward. Your name, job title and contact information sitting alongside your company logo will be just fine.


You can almost guarantee that anyone who wants to do business with you, or is even just contemplating using your service, will check your website before they call or email you. Make sure that your site is a good reflection of you and your business. If you haven’t updated your site recently it’s worth doing so, both from a design and content perspective.

Online reputation

A prospective client won’t just look at your website; they’ll look at what other people think of you too. This is so they can get a feel of how trustworthy your business is likely to be. Google is both a blessing and a curse in this respect; all the good reviews you’ve acquired over the years will be easy to find, but sadly so will any negative ones.

We suggest Googling yourself, seeing what you find and cleanse the results by using services like BrandYourself.com to make sure your positive results are at the top.

Check your reviews on other sites too, and make sure you address any criticisms so you can demonstrate your ability to act on negative feedback.

Social media

As we’ve said before, social media is a powerful tool if it’s used correctly. When people look for you or your business, they will stumble across one or more of your social media platforms. LinkedIn is the social media network of choice for business types. Make sure your profile is up to date and you’ve added all your business contacts as connections. Keep your brand pages on Facebook and Twitter up to date too.

These changes will help improve your online presence and make you and your company more appealing to your audience.

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It’s official – I’m a qualified trainer (finally) https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/qualified-trainer/ Mon, 11 Jul 2016 12:16:11 +0000 https://www.nsdesign.co.uk/?p=4882 Most of you will know that I do a lot of training.  It’s pretty much all I do these days! As an example – over the last month, I’ve probably... Read more »

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Most of you will know that I do a lot of training.  It’s pretty much all I do these days!

As an example – over the last month, I’ve probably only been in the office just 2 or 3 days, catching up on admin.  Instead I’m usually out doing workshops, seminars, 1-2-1 consultancy, group training, speaking at (and hosting) conferences, mentoring and more.  I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m moaning about this – it’s what I love doing!

Social Media Training by a Qualified Trainer


Strangely though, given the volume of training I’ve been doing over the last few years, I’ve not been in any way qualified to do it.

Until today.

Today, after nearly 9 months of ‘study’, I now have a professional qualification to add to my CV:

SVQ 4 in Learning and Development at SCQF level 9

Recognised globally in the Learning & Development (L&D) sector, SCQF level 9 is supposedly the professional equivalent level to a Degree, so it’s a big achievement, and one I’m proud to have accomplished.


A few people in recent months have asked me why I’m bothering?  ‘You’re already a trainer’.  ‘You don’t need it’.  And they were right.  I probably do more training than most qualified L&D Practitioners, and actually – in recent months, the last thing I actually needed was adding to my already manic workload with the hassles that go with study.

So why did I bother?

The truth is – I wanted the title on my CV for vanity purposes.  I wanted to have the qualification so I could list it on tender responses where it asks for “relevant qualifications” (listing my Architecture Degree is hardly relevant!).  I wanted an accolade recognised within aspects of the training and L&D world so I had an educational achievement to go alongside my years of ‘on the job’ practical experience.  I wanted it because I figured that with my experience of actually running training sessions on an almost daily basis – that getting it would be a walk in the park.  I wanted it because I could then call myself an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and have more cool letters after my name (Assoc CIPD).  I wanted it for all the wrong reasons.

But a funny thing happened.

I realised very quickly after starting the course, that I was enjoying it.  Not just enjoying it – but learning from it.  I began to look forward to my time with Margo my tutor (from Training Matters).  I quickly saw the benefit of her challenging me at every opportunity, questioning why I did things, and encouraging me to look at things differently.

I started taking what I was learning, and using it in live training scenarios.  I began to improve the way I planned for training workshops, developing better processes for working out client’s training needs analysis (TNA), and planning suitable learning and development resources based on different learning styles.

I forced myself to block out slots in my diary for my own Professional Development, and began keeping a record of all the events and learning activities I was attending myself to improve my own skillset, while allowing me to benchmark my methods of training against others.

I introduced new systems of evaluation, new ideas for groupwork, new resources, and a whole new innovation framework which will help ensure I keep taking the business as a whole down the right path.  All this and a whole lot more.


In the end, I wasn’t just doing it for the certificate (no matter how pretty it looks!) – I was doing it because it was making me, and my training better.


So as I said earlier…  I’m very proud of myself today.

Because I’m a qualified trainer.


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