BID directs businesses to website solutions

Published on 10 March 2014

A regular question asked by businesses is Where can I get help with my website? BedfordBID directed businesses to a FREE seminar run by Bedford College.  An expert consultancy was giving advice and those who wanted to "do it for themselves" the solution could be in Bedford College courses.

Nearly 100 local businesses and students packed the Studio Theatre at the South Bank Centre at Bedford College on Wednesday 26th February to hear Chris Smith and Alec East of THBOOM! Web Consultancy

The duo talked on the subject of ‘Designing for The Connected Consumer: Adapting to changes in customer behaviour - Responsive Web Design’.  This talk was part of a programme of highly successful joint British Computer Society (BCS) and Bedford College events regularly held at Bedford College. 

Both Chris and Alec have been involved in interactive digital media since 1995.  They've come to the firm belief that the future for business lies, not in the technology, but in being customer-centric in every aspect of an organisation and, if your business is going to survive the next decade, you need to be making the move towards putting the customer at the very centre of your business model now. 

Alec started by explaining that there are 45.8 million smartphones in use in the UK, and 22% of those smartphone users have it as the primary device to access the web.  How much of any particular site’s traffic comes from handheld devices varies massively according to its audience but one thing is for sure - it’s already passed the point of ignoring it.  There isn’t one rule for everyone so it’s more important than ever to understand your audience and their needs.

The drop in PC shipments shows a continued decline.  Such a big and consistent shift suggests the tablet-powered ‘connected customer’ is definitely here and gaining in numbers.  There is an increasing trend for consumers to ‘upgrade’ to a tablet instead of replacing a home PC.

The connected customer, according to Alec, isn’t just about technologies or whether you have a mobile-friendly website.  It’s about radical changes in consumer behaviour and expectations.  This change in consumer behaviour will impact almost everyone’s business models so it’s important to pay attention.

One of the hottest issues in web developer circles this year is accessibility of websites on various devices other than the standard desktop or laptop screens.  Chris emphasised that although the subject is not new, it has taken on a new approach with respect to how to deal with the opportunities that lie ahead.

‘Responsive’ is a design approach to deal with the plethora of devices and screen sizes being used.  Responsive design creates an optimal viewing experience on practically any device and does not require any complex server side code or alternative content.

Exactly the same content is delivered to everyone, regardless of device, but the image sizes, font sizes and layout are adjusted automatically according to the screen size of the device being used.  While there are drawbacks to responsive design, and it isn’t always the best option (Chris mentioned adaptive web design), it remains the most flexible, practical and scalable approach when devising web strategies for mobile and tablet.  Chris explained in brief some of the technologies involved.

Bedford College runs a range of web-build and design courses which are accessible to businesses

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