More Funding Available For North East Businesses

small business applying for nbsl small business funding

Have you got a digital project in mind for your business and would like to get some funding towards it, then this is for you?

We can announce that the North East Business Support Fund (NBSL) have successfully applied for further funding to offer grants to eligible projects for North-East businesses which are now open for application.

Here at Black and white Boy, we are registered suppliers to the NBSL scheme and have helped many businesses fulfil their digital projects with the help of the funding available through NBSL scheme.

We have delivered websites, eCommerce solutions and digital marketing campaigns to help those businesses grow and thrive despite the many challenges small business face in today’s commercial landscape, including Covid.

The great news is that NEW funding of £1.6m has been secured and applications are now being invited for relevant projects for SME’s in the North East.

What’s on offer

Depending upon where your business is located in the North East the offer differs slightly.

Specifically:

  • Businesses located in County Durham, the offer available is funding up to 40% of the value of a project costing between £2500 – £8000
  • If your business is situated in Tyne and Wear or Northumberland, the deal on offer is funding up to 35% of the cost of the project from £3000 – £8000.

Which companies are eligible for funding?

The grants are open to businesses who are based in County Durham, Tyne and Wear or Northumberland who are classed as Small to medium-sized enterprises. The definition of an SME is as shown below:

  • Employ no more than 250 full-time or equivalent employees
  • Annual revenue is no more than € 50 Million
  • Balance Sheet value below €43 Million.

There should also be evidence that there is a plan to grow or to recover from the impact of Covid (staff or turnover).

Also, If the business is involved in any kind of group structure – either being partially or fully owned by another business or having partial or full ownership of another business – NBSL would need details to establish eligibility.

How Do I make an application

Making an application is simple and shouldn’t take more that15 mins. It’s all online and easy to understand.

As you may expect it will cover the fundementals of your business, aswell as asking you about the trading history of the business.

If you’re a ltd business you will be required to provide audited accounts for the last two years, though if you haven’t got them that far back, you can still apply it’s just that your NBSL manager will want to know a little more information from you, so its likely they will prefer to do that during a phone call.

Even if your business hasn’t been trading that long and you don’t have all the financial documents of a more established business, that doesn’t mean you can’t apply.

All you have to do is show evidence that you have been trading and that you have been able to raise invoices for the goods or services you provide as part of your application. NBSL will use that information to evaluate your application, but will probably also require a phone discussion to discuss it further.

Once your application has been received it doesn’t take that long to process and receive a decision, sometimes within a few days.

What Do I Do Once My Application Has Been Accepted?

OK, so you have great news and you have received word from NBSL that your application is succcessful, now what?

If you have a registered supplier in mind, you can start immediately, once you have received written notification from your NBSL manager.

The project needs to be delivered within a three-month window and should be shown to be complete within that time for you to receive that funding.

So for example, if its a website, this needs to be live on your domain and fully functional within the allotted time.

After this, there are just some small bits of due diligence for NBSL to oversee such as seeing evidence that the project has been paid for.

Once that has been done, the grant will be paid directly into your bank account and is normally pretty swift.

NBSL state that this would be done within 30 days of completion, but in reality can take as little as a few days.

Book A Quick Call

If you have questions or want a quick strategy session without any obligation, book a call with us and get some answers to your problems

This Bug With SSL Certificates May Cause Problems For Your Website

ssl and https with green pad lock

Over 3 Million Certificates Affected

This post is about a problem that I was made aware of quite recently, the story was also reported in search engine journal and several other places, so it’s not just something that is uncorroborated. The problem revolves around 3 million  Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates and the bug they have found affecting them, as a result, the certificates are ineffective on the domains to which they are assigned and are rendered useless.

If you’re using let’s encrypt SSL Certificates that means that three million sites are now without SSL protection, and could have been hit by this issue so is probably worth checking out to see if your site has indeed been affected.

The reason that this is important is that first of all let’s encrypt are probably one of the biggest SSL certificate suppliers out there, mainly because they supply free SSL certificates, nevertheless, you should still check.

Why Should I Care About An SSL Certificate?

The reason why SSL certificates are important to your website is that it invokes the HTTPS protocol on your domain which an “S” on the end of your “HTTP”. This appears at the beginning of your domain name. however, more importantly than just adding an extra letter to the beginning of your domain name, It also is responsible for showing that little padlock which denotes that your site is secure and that it is actually encrypting data between two data points or servers.

If You Have An Ecommerce Store It’s Crucial

So if you’re collecting data of any type and even more critical if you’re doing any paid transactions, such as with an eCommerce store, for example, having HTTPS protocol should be present at all times in order to encrypt the data as it moves between your website and it’s the final destination. This encryption stops anybody hacking into it and accessing through a public network for example and then reading it or worse. Obviously is a bit of an issue, not least for GDPR compliance and even worse, stealing data or identity theft, so it’s really important that you check to see if your site is still protected.

Below I have added a link to a handy little tool which is free. All you need to do is enter your domain into the field, excluding any HTTP and www, just your naked domain. The tool will simply check with the Lets Encrypt database and tell you whether the certificate is ok or whether it needs to be replaced.

What If I Find My Site Is Affected?

If it’s the latter, you shouldn’t panic, all you need to do is get in touch with your developer and ask them to change it over with a new SSL certificate, which is a pretty quick job. But it’s really important that you do it and don’t ignore that because if you’re transmitting any data whatsoever from your website it needs to be addressed otherwise you are opening yourself up for problems down the road potentially.

it’s basic good practice to have your website to include an SSL certificate so I encourage you to take a look at the tool that I’ve just posted below and just make sure that you are not affected by this problem.

https://checkhost.unboundtest.com/

How to 10x your phone enquiries through your website by using UX design principles

Mobile phone uk principles for more leads

More Phone Calls Through Your Website

As a business owner, if you are investing in your a new website, one of the basic functions you are probably looking for it to do is to generate more potential customers through phone calls or email enquiries, right?

Unfortunately, the truth for most websites is that they don’t perform well in that department, which shouldn’t be the case.

In this article we’re going to tackle this issue head on a even provide a little tip which could 10X your phone call enquiries through your website, based on our experience in applying it on client websites. You just need to apply some basic user experience design principles.

But first we have to throw in a small caveat.

Essential For Any Online Success

For a website to be successful it needs two ingredients …Traffic and Conversions.

You can’t get sales without both these things happening on your website. So as we are talking about getting more engagement on your site, we are naturally talking about the  conversion part of the equation not the traffic generation.

For a website to be successful it needs two ingredients ...Traffic and Conversions. Click To Tweet

For a lot of businesses who have a website,  one of the biggest stresses is getting traffic to it in the first place, real people going to your website. This is one, if not the biggest problem with websites in general and one which is very common.

Surprisingly however, it’s often ignored to the point that the website itself is forgotten about and scratched off as a required business expense that didn’t work, or the owner is completely oblivious to the fact that is getting no traffic, given that most don’t even track their analytics … I digress.

However, the traffic part of the equation mentioned above is a separate issue which we won’t be covering in this article.

How To Get Click Through Rate

So… lets just say for arguments sake that you have been able to grow traffic to your website to a pretty steady number, you know this as you use analytics to at least track what traffic you are getting.

However, you might still be stressing, because despite having a steady stream of people looking at your site, you may not be getting many, or very few new enquiries.

This can be really frustrating for a business owner, especially if they have invested in any kind of traffic generation, such as SEO campaigns or regularly adding content to the site through blog posts etc.

But here’s the thing, there could be multiple reasons for that traffic not converting into enquiries, including the message used and the keywords chosen on your site which may well be attracting the wrong type of audience.

But lets just suppose that the message is right and you were giving great value and provided solutions for your visitor, yet you’re still disappointed with the amount of leads you would like or expect…

what to do then?

This is actually a common issue and something which a lot of site owners struggle with, no matter how much they tweak and how they change the wording or call to actions, they still struggle with getting those all important new customer enquires, despite them visiting the site.

Most people are not aware of a certain discipline in website design called UX or user experience. It’s really important for you as a business as it deals with the way in which a user interacts with your site.

Four of the most common problems a website suffers from which can be identified as UX design issues are:

  • Value proposition on the site, so the user doesn’t know what to do and what the benefits of using the site are.
  • What action do they need to take as often its not that clear.
  • Building enough trust with the user through reviews, testimonials and social proof
  • Mechanisms by which you can warm up prospects and position yourself as a trusted business to buy from and how  a user can be nurtured through the use of funnels.

As web developers who understand UX design, we feel that it is important to think outside the box when trying to study a website and understand how a user might interact with it.

User Experience Best Practise.

One of the biggest issues we see with a lot of sites can be explained through a couple of factors, out-dated web design legacy practices still being used and the inexperience of some website designers, who may not understand the mechanisms of a commercial website, and how it should be looked upon as a contributor to revenue and profit.

Just by simply considering the potential traffic source of a site one can change the perspective towards a design and immediately improve how it works. An example of this would be the consideration for designing your site for mobile devices.

Given mobile traffic accounts for around 60% of the internet, it’s still bizarre that a lot of website designers broadly design sites for desktop, but crucially don’t change the overall design functionalities to account for that traffic source.

Just by simply considering the potential traffic source of a site one can change the perspective towards a design and immediately improve how it works Click To Tweet

Google Mobile Friendly Tool Is A Robot.

While these sites are responsive in design as confirmed with tools such as google mobile friendly tool and get the green check of approval, nevertheless, you have to remember one thing. Google’s mobile friendly test is automated, and while it is a pretty complex, it basically looks for media queries in the code of the site for different screen sizes which are the unique identifiers to show that the site is built with the prerequisite responsiveness in mind.

What it can’t take account of however, is the way humans might interact with the site in the wild.

This is a huge deal, as given the limited real estate on mobile screens, together with how ergonomics works on mobile, this remains a huge blind spot, even though most designers have taken the time to make sure the site functions, as far as they can, on all sizes of device.

But as we know, looking good and being effective are two separate disciplines. A classic example of form over function instead of form following function.

(users are the) ones with a metaphorical credit card in hand, ready to spend money, with the only barrier being your website and their experience using it. Click To Tweet

In essence this is a user experience issue and the type of thing Google is looking for as part of it’s overall quality score, but so too are your website visitors and ultimately the ones with a metaphorical credit card in hand, ready to spend money, with the only barrier being your website and their experience using it.

Ergonomics And Laziness.

One thing we have found which works well for our website clients is to look at the mobile version in a different light, and to view it as an app from a functional point of view. We also draw inspiration from other apps or websites which work well on mobile and then try to incorporate some of that functionality into a clients design, but crucially, hiding it from larger screen versions of the website where it would have no value whatsoever.

We know that as a whole, humans are lazy, and from a user experience point of view, if something is harder to do, even by just a little, its not going to happen in most cases, Click To Tweet

Most web designers, for example, will keep the same call to actions on the mobile version as the desktop or tablet version of the design. This often means that a “call us” link, which is a pretty common element of any business website, is in the header of the site. But if you actually think about how you use your phone, this is actually counter intuitive, as you normally use one hand to cradle the phone, then use your thumb of that same hand to tap the screen.

Following this design principle will result in the call to action in the header being out of reach to most users who haven’t got longer than average thumb or unusually small phone screen.

We know that as a whole, humans are lazy, and from a user experience point of view, if something is harder to do, even by just a little, such as having to reach further with your thumb, its not going to happen in most cases, that goes for a call to action on your mobile too.

always consider how users are going engage with your website, and modify accordingly. Click To Tweet

So our recommendation is simple, always consider how users are going engage with your website, and modify accordingly. In this instance our solution is to add a call button at the foot of a sites mobile screen, it’s that simple.

So If your site is getting any traffic at all and you want people to call you, do this and you should expect to see an immediate uplift in calls.

How Does your brand perform Online & what to improve.