May 2015 | Digital8

What should you look for in a Digital Strategist?

Let’s face it, it’s 2015 and a very large portion of businesses would by now have had at least some dealings with either an agency, in-house or contracted Digital Strategist.

Be it Social Media, SEM, SEO or the increasingly important element of Content Marketing, most businesses are now aware of the importance of an online presence in today’s ever tech-evolving marketplaces.

Naturally, with this comes an ever-expanding pool of talent to choose from. Some great, some not so great, but all offering essential services.

So how does anyone tell them apart?

There are actually more answers to that question than anyone could cover in a single blog, but we thought we’d list 5 of the best things to look out for in a crowded industry to ensure that your Digital Strategist is an inspired, creative individual with the right amount of know-how and tenacity to get you results.

  1. Are they paying attention? A great Digital Strategy Expert should be asking you a lot of questions around your business and what you hope to achieve online. You would hope that the conversation would revolve around a) Your goals & b) What can be done to achieve them. Because in the end no amount of technical wizardry or charisma will mean anything if your campaign isn’t based around clear goals and an even clearer understanding of your business.Obviously an expert will need to shoot you down on occasion if those goals aren’t realistic given the reality of digital marketing, but if they aren’t offering solutions, look elsewhere.
  2. Do they think outside the box? Do you want a number working on your online presence, or a genuine talent? The very nature of this industry requires that those who work in it are constantly expanding their knowledge and keeping up to date with the latest changes and advancements in online technology.Ask them straight up for an example of something crazy they’ve done to get results for a client. If it seems like they follow the same tired formula every time, look elsewhere.
  3. Do they intend to be accountable? Let’s not beat around the bush here, projections in an online strategy are hard. There are so many variables and so much can change during the course of a campaign that not many people will give you guarantees. As they shouldn’t, at least as far as SEO is concerned given Google’s own warnings about providers who offer guarantees.But hard doesn’t have to mean impossible.It takes a lot of hard work and ambition to do, but you’d want that of anyone you plan to put to work right? Just do yourself a favour and understand the aforementioned difficulties involved in what they’re doing so that if the unforeseen does happen and targets have to change you understand why.

    As an aside, there’s also no reason that you can’t at the very least get a detailed outline of what will be implemented over the course of a campaign if all goes according to plan. Things will likely change, but a simple shared spreadsheet or cloud based CRM project can ensure that you know exactly what is due to be done at any given point in the campaign and whether or not it is getting done. If they refuse to do so or start to explain why they can’t for any reason, look elsewhere.

  4. Do they strike you as passionate? This is a big one. We’re in a growing industry with more and more companies and experts entering the space. What can unfortunately happen in this situation (as in any growing industry) is that overworked and/or uninspired people lose their spark. At the end of the day this is a technical, but creative industry. Amongst all the code and numbers and clients, the people who work in the field are at danger of becoming jaded or stifled by red tape and sheer workload.Look for the people who are still excited about what they do and have the freedom to explore new ideas and methodology. If you’re in a meeting with someone who is clearly attentive and having “aha!” moments while figuring out how to help you, you’re onto a winner. Otherwise, look elsewhere.
  5. Results. I really wish I didn’t have to explain this one, but I will. Let’s take technical SEO factors for instance. Rankings are not results. Traffic is not results. Even conversions in the form of an enquiry are not results. These are all the means to an end. That end being increased business. Of course, once an enquiry comes through to you then it is your responsibility to convert it and you need to accept your part in that, but if you can’t at least have a conversation about potential return on investment then what is the point?Any good salesperson or Digital Strategist should flat out refuse to work with you if they don’t feel that their efforts could deliver a return on investment for the price you’ll need to pay to achieve increased rankings, traffic & conversions.If they refuse to talk clearly about ROI, look elsewhere.

And we’re cheating a bit here, but just for good measure…

6. Do you like them? It’s very important to understand that you will need to work closely with the person organising and implementing your strategy. Just because you’ve hired them to do the work, doesn’t mean that they won’t require your input or approval on certain aspects of the work to ensure it stays in line with your business needs. For this reason, pick someone you feel you can have an honest and friendly working relationship with and make sure you allocate the necessary time to communicate with them about how things are going. If you don’t enjoy speaking to them and avoid doing so as a result, your campaign will definitely suffer for it.


As I said, there are many, many other aspects to consider when looking into engaging a professional in this field, but start with those 6 and we’re very sure you’ll be on good footing to make an informed decision!

Happy strategist hunting!

What’s Hot In Web Design in 2015

How web design trends have changed in the last 15 years! Back when I started as a web designer in 2000, Flash sites were all the rage, lack of high speed internet meant images were used sparingly and no design could be wider than 768 pixels. Flash forward to now and the world is a veritable web designer's paradise; anything we can dream up in terms of design and functionality can be easily brought to life. This means the envelope is continually being pushed and this is fun for everyone. 

So what's hot in 2015 when it comes to web design trends? I have nine things to offer:

1. Full page images on the home page

I personally love this trend (and naturally, we've embraced it fully on our own site). Internet speeds nowadays means you can drop a huge image (and even a gallery of huge images) front and center on your home page. This is hugely impactful, looks great and is magic from a branding point of view as it allows the designer to put the company's value proposition right in front of the new visitor and it doesn't have to compete with anything else. But … will the user scroll?

2. Scrolling scrolling scrolling

Yes the user will scroll! Long gone are the days where you had to put all the important stuff 'above the fold' because users were reluctant to stroke the wheel on their mouse. Nowadays people will scroll vertically, they'll scroll horizontally (if you make them … I don't recommend it) and there's even parallax scrolling which isn't 'necessary' from a functional point of view, but is nice from a design point of view as it adds an element of 'depth'.

3. Whitespace

Because people are willing to scroll and we no longer have to try and cram the '10 super-important things any visitor to this site needs to see' into a 768px wide x 400px odd high space … we designers get to go crazy with whitespace these days. What is whitespace? It's space between the elements on a page (as opposed to 'heaps of white everywhere'). 


  • Allows all elements on the page to breathe.
  • Reduces tension between those elements.
  • Allows you to highlight the important things without resorting to big coloured splashes and arrows.
  • Creates balance and harmony.

If you've landed on a website and you don't know where to look first, it's probably because the designer hasn't used whitespace very well. If you feel like your eye is being led naturally from one element to another … that's an indication that they have.

4. Sticky menus

These are good. They are the menus that stay at the top of the page as you scroll down the page. Given how willing we are to scroll these days (see above), they are a very practical and functional element that pretty much every website should have.


5. Hamburger menus

These are horrible. They are practical on mobile devices but for some reason they're also creeping into desktop designs too. There is just no need. People want and expect to see your entire menu laid out for them across the top of the screen. Give people what they want. People are not yet so used to hamburger menus that they will search around on the screen for it. If you make a visitor to your website search for something, you've already lost them.

6. Big fonts

Our desktop screens are bigger and we're doing a lot more reading on them these days. It's very tiring on the eye to read on a screen so we're making the font size for body fonts and heading fonts much bigger now. 14 pt is good, 16pt is better (depending on the font) for a body font. And we’re putting a spacing of at least 1.65 between lines of text. There's no need to make people squint at a screen anymore!

7. Killer imagery

Stock imagery is such great quality and so well priced these days, there is just no excuse to have terrible imagery on your site anymore. And because our internet speeds are faster, we can go big and high impact with our imagery. This is great for everyone: designers, their clients AND the people viewing websites.

8. One page websites

Gosh I hated these when they first became a thing, but I'm far more sold on them now, especially if you have a site with very little content or if you're trying to tell a story. Many sites are now using a 'one page' feel on the home page of multi-page sites as this ensures that if the viewer doesn't get past that page, they're still walking away with a solid feel for what the brand is all about. (NB: If you have SEO goals that you plan to achieve with a website then this can change whether or not a single page site will work for you as they can unfortunately dilute relevance of information as opposed to a multi-page website)

9. Fully responsive design

Not only is this a thing (responsive design means your site will expand to fill a full desktop screen, and contract when on mobile), it's an essential thing after Google's 'mobile-friendliness' update earlier this year. It just makes for great user experience when a website displays in exactly the best way possible for the device it's being viewed on … and that's what responsive design accomplishes.


Kelly Exeter is the owner of Swish Design, a boutique web and graphic design company in Perth, Western Australia. She is also editor of Flying Solo, Australia's largest online community of solo and micro businesses.

We reviewed a few of our favourite apps for Friday!

To inspire app developers in Brisbane and to have a bit of fun on a Friday, we’ve reviewed (and expanded on the idea of) five engaging, quirky apps ranging from pointless to practical. Enjoy!

For the Music Lovers

After scrolling through hundreds of top 10 App Pinterest board, we stumbled upon this one, which left us feeling like an amateur DJ and we liked it. Using napkins and a black pen, we drew a face then a ladder and it miraculously turned into a beat.

It makes us wonder, what could our app developers at Digital8 turn this concept into? We’re imagining scrolling through a modern image board and listening to music, which automatically changes depending on the mood of the image I am looking at. That would be pretty cool!

This app from Ed Burton can turn any sketch into a new tune, it’s called Tunetrace for iPhone and iPad, why not give it a whirl and be inspired?

For Young Minds

This app brought back fond memories of a visit to Japan’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. The SquiggleFish app is a miniature version of this museum exhibit that blends physical and digital play. 

The idea is that children can draw a fish on white paper using a thick black pen for its outline, then scan it in using their iPad’s camera to watch an animated version swim around a virtual fish-tank. Imagine the potential applications! 

This is what we love about the app market right now. Someone creates a cool basic concept and the rest of the app design market runs with it to create cool new expanded ideas! 

We could imagine this working well for an organisation like GOMA (The Gallery of Modern Art) here in Brisbane.

For the Romantics

We sent this WeddingDJ app to a friend who recently got engaged as it will save the couple money and time on a real band or DJ and will reduce the risk of problems. 

It has a perfectly efficient and organised playlist layout and works on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. Could there be any other niche playlist apps missing in the market?

For the Creatives

Imagine not having a design budget but having an app that turns ordinary text into beautiful typography. For content-driven apps, this is a perfect way to save money. 

Notegraphy is a web and mobile app that turns any text into beautiful modern, typography-inspired designs. 

Or alternatively, for design-restricted budgets, you could just call our app developer in Brisbane to develop directly from a clean wireframe and add the design later when you need it. 

Noteworthy App

For Your Sense of Humour

If you love a good laugh, iSwap Faces is both a hideous and hilarious way to spend an afternoon with friends.

A free app is a lot cheaper than your average board game but you can also get versions for a minimal $1.99 download that allows you to control where exactly the face is located and blend the faces together just to make it that much worse. 

This is going to be our long-time humour weapon for Friday afternoon drinks at the office!

And remember, if you’ve got a crazy, great app idea, contact us on 1300 382 777 or shoot us an email! We are the best app designers in Brisbane and beyond.

And the Google SERP’s changes continue!

You may have read our blog last week on a few changes to the way local listings are being displayed within search results. Well not long afterwards we noticed that Google has now partnered with a small group of companies in the US to trial the ability to order food directly from the search results. Without leaving the search engine.

Naturally this got us pondering just how far they might be looking to push the idea of a more “in-engine” experience. You’d all be well aware of the significant in-engine functionality of local listings and we’re willing to bet that a significant portion of you would have had a question answered by the knowledge graph rather than needing to click on a listing to look for what you need, but there is a lot more coming so we thought we’d list a few of the standout potential features due to hit in the near future.

1. Device appropriate results. As you would have heard from us when we were on our soapbox late last month, Google rolled out a mobile friendly algorithm update on the 21st of April this year. This means that the results you see on a mobile device will differ from the results you see for the same search on a desktop computer depending on how mobile friendly that group of sites are. Mobile search results are also set to become more streamlined for the respective devices they’re shown on. Speaking of which…

2. Apps will very likely become much more prominent in the not so distant future as well. Certain apps and websites already contribute to search results, such as yelp’s contribution to local listings or showing Twitter feeds on trending topics.

3. Knowledge graph is only going to get better! It’s proving to be a big hit, which is a double edged sword if you want traffic through to your website (which is kind of the key idea around this blog), but they are now adding everything from statistics and charts through to new languages (Polish, Turkish, Simplified Chinese & Traditional Chinese in particular) and even voice enabled conversation search, which ties heavily into the graph.

4. In-Engine functionality for things like mortgage calculators and measurement conversions. If you were to Google “how many kilometers in a mile” for instance, you’d first see this knowledge graph result:

If you then click on the “More Info” button at the button, you’re then taken to a page which offers everything from calculators through to unit converters and geometry calculators.

5. Image Search will play a much larger role in your life in the coming years. For reasons as simple as posting a hilarious image reply on your friends status update or as complicated as sourcing images for your website (or blog), it’s hard to imagine that anyone wouldn’t enjoy easier image search functionality. Rest assured, Google (amongst others) are working on it. Algorithms that can “see” images and recognize them without any attached text indicators are seeing advancements beyond what could have been imaged a mere 5 years ago and the second Google has what they consider to be a functioning product you can rest assured it will launch. If parts of it haven’t already.

So there you have it. For better or worse, search results are going to change drastically with time and it’s looking more and more likely that Google (along with Facebook, who we’ll discuss another time) are set to offer as much functionality as possible to stop you leaving the search engine.

This doesn’t appear to be a good thing for websites, however given the pretty much zero chance anyone has of influencing this, it does make getting yourself in line with best SEO practice (which itself needs to change along with this) is more important than ever!


Yet another change to Google’s search results has hit!

So this morning we were looking around for catering services for a bit of a party and noticed something quite different in the search results! It seems that local listings have now been categorised within the places portion of results, which has also seen organic results take another hit, being pushed further down the page except for the very first result:

You’ll notice that there is the ability to view only local listings for the noted category as well, which speaks to the idea that Google have very large plans for this element of search results and believe in its importance.

Not only this, but if you click on any of the businesses which pop up in the results you now don’t even leave the search engine! Instead it takes you to a page of search results for that business showing everything, from the site to the local listing, the website, Facebook, directory entries, yelp and pretty much the whole kitchen sink.

This sort of thing presents a double-edged sword to anyone doing SEO in that while organic results are obviously diminished in this scenario there is an opportunity to take advantage of local SEO, which in some cases can actually be much easier. Although we wouldn’t want to get you too excited about that prospect given that increased focus from a display perspective will likely be followed by increased focus in the form of an update to the Pigeon algorithm, which controls these results.

However with that said, it’s early days yet and this could just be a test, or like many other attempted changes it could end up being scrapped. But we’ll just have to wait and see! Let’s not go altering your SEO approach dramatically just yet.