Monthly Archives: February 2010

A very simple guide to email on your portable devices (blackberry, iPhone, netbook etc.)

Many people have asked recently about using their email on their portable devices and it’s actually quite simple once you understand a few of the main principles

Here’s how seven Creative’s email system works

Firstly, a few definitions:

  • Local email client – this is an application on your home or office computer for reading and sending emails. Common local email clients are Outlook and Thunderbird
  • Remote web-server – this is your web-mail account and is accessed through your web browser. Your received emails are stored here until you collect them using a local email client or delete them by logging into the web-mail directly
  • SMTP – stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol and is the system used when emails are SENT. It transfers the email from your out-box to the recipients in-box.
  • POP3 – stands for Post Office Protocol and is the system used by local email clients to retrieve emails from a remote web-server

If you’re using a local email client (see definitions), this is what happens when someone sends you an email:

This is what happens when someone sends you an email

This is what happens when someone sends you an email

Of course, you can log directly into your webmail account and reply to ‘Jim’ like this:

This is what happens when you reply to an email from your webmail account

This is what happens when you reply to an email from your webmail account

The problems with this system

This system works perfectly well when sending emails between computers, however, emails are commonly sent with very large attachments.

for example, Seven Creative’s email system allows you to send up-to 80 MB attachments which is obviously far too big to receive on a mobile phone or similar portable device! Firstly, portable devices tend to use the mobile network’s system for connecting to the internet which is very slow and most people are charged by the MB for this internet connection so it could be very expensive. Secondly, mobiles and portable devices are not designed for large attachments and storage is limited.

Surely, a better idea for mobile email would be to just give you a preview of the important bits of the email such as who it’s from, the text and the name of any attachments?

This is where IMAP comes in handy

IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol and is used for reading mail on portable devices.

IMAP allows you to just download the message headers i.e. the title and the text. This then gives you the option of either replying, ignoring or deleteing the message (and by ‘deleting the message’ it means removing it directly from the web server without having to ever download the actual message)

The size of the header information will normally be just a few bytes so is quick and cheap to download and doesn’t take up much storage space on your portable device.

The best thing about IMAP, however, is that it never actually deletes or removes anything from the webserver unless you tell it to. This means you’ll never end up with duplicate messages or some messages on one computer and others on another, for example, you can connect to your inbox, read an email, reply to the sender and then when you get home, your email is still there on the web-server for you to download as normal

IMAP runs in parallel to your POP3 address allowing you to read emails from multiple devices while keeping them always in one place

IMAP will also work with Microsoft Exchange server, however, it really does start getting complicated then… 🙁

Using IMAP to read your emails on a portable device

Using IMAP to read your emails on a portable device

It’s a lot simpler than you think…

to start using your portable device to check your emails.

Let us know if you’d like to give it a go and we can supply you with IMAP and SMTP settings

Get in touch with us here

Sales and marketing optimisation

Consider the alternatives

If you were in any doubt that offline advertising spend had fallen in 2009, this physical comparison between the Yellow Pages directories from 2009 and 2010 should convince you. The 2010/11 edition is literally 40% thinner than the 2009/10 edition.

According to IAB (2010), in the UK, the entire advertising sector contracted by 16.6% in the first half of 2009, however, the online advertising share grew by 4.6% to a record 23.5% share of the market.

Obviously, in the midst of a recession, you’d expect advertising spend to decline, however, it seems as if many companies are realising that the traditional forms of advertising and marketing may not be the best way to reach customers and deciding rather to look towards the internet.

Google dominates the pay-per-click (PPC) advertising world with a 65.4% market share (AFP, Feb 2010) and for most people, they’re the only place they’ll ever think of advertising online.

There is, however, another way!

The primary objective, when deciding your marketing approach, will be to give you the best return-on-investment (a.k.a. ROI) which, to put it another way, basically means get the most customers for the least spend.

Google advertising is great for some businesses, but for others, it’ll never work – potential customers simply don’t use the internet to find some kinds of suppliers. Even for the businesses where it potentially works well, so much money is sometimes wasted through poorly researched and implemented key-phrases and badly-planned campaigns that they never reach their potential. Besides this, as the main player in the PPC world, competition for key words and phrases can be fierce!

Social network advertising, on the other hand, has shown some fantastic results with campaigns we’ve run recently. One of the main problems with Google PPC  is you are only able to target customers geographically. Social Network Marketing, on the other hand, allows you to also target customers demographically and psychographically!  As a relatively new avenue, the current costs can be much lower than Google PPC and you have the option to also pay by impression if you’d prefer.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as another way to boost your organic search engine rakings. Whereas the results can sometimes be much less tangible than the PPC campaigns; a well optimised web site can give a much better ROI over time.

If you’re certain that traditional Search Engine PPC is the one for you, consider Bing, Microsoft’s search engine competitor to Google and Yahoo. Bing is currently gaining search engine market share from Google and Yahoo remains a force in the market.

Whichever you choose, as ever, the key to getting it right is good planning.

More information

With many years experience of online and offline advertising campaign planning, setup and management, Seven Creative are perfectly placed to help your business get the best ROI by optimising your sales and marketing activity

If you’d like Seven creative to help you with your marketing strategy, give us a call on 0114 383 0711 (international: +44  114 383 0711) or contact us through the website

Setting up a computer from new

Emergency computer reset

Computer reset lever

I’ve just set up a new laptop for someone and thought to myself that it might be interesting to write a short list of the changes I make and the software I install during the process.

The problem with new computers these days is that they arrive pre-installed with all sorts of software you didn’t ask for and don’t need. Whilst this software more-than-likely subsidises the cost of the new computer, it’s something that I’m personally not a big fan of – it slows down your computer and there are often better free versions of this commercial software available.

The last 5 or 6 laptops I’ve bought have all been Toshiba because I like their reliability and I currently buy from Insight as their prices and service are very good (Prior to that it was eBuyer)

Insight laptops don’t tend to arrive with too much pre-installed software, unlike a certain other larger mail-order computer supplier I could mention, so it’s not too time consuming to sort out.

This particular laptop is a Toshiba running 32 bit Windows Vista Business

  1. Firstly, I connect to wireless internet (if available). If you’re installing the operating system too, XP prior to Service Pack 2 doesn’t have wireless internet support as standard so the best thing to do is download XP Service Pack 3 network install version to a flash drive (or disk) and install before you’re able to connect wirelessly. Of course, you could connect with a cable if you preferred but I find them so 1990’s
  2. Secondly, I download Google Chrome Browser and install. This browser is miles ahead of it’s nearest competitor and I don’t use anything else these days for day-to-day browsing. When installing, I set as default browser. I also install flash player browser plug-in at this time. This is something that is not essential but will probably need to be done at some time.
  3. Thirdly, I Download Revo Uninstaller free version and install. This is a great utility for removing applications from your computer as it will also remove left-over registry entries and files
  4. I download (but don’t install yet) Microsoft Security Essentials. Free software and currently, the best option for your virus and malware protection, IMO.
  5. I remove McAfee anti-virus using Revo Uninstaller.
  6. I install the Microsoft Security Essentials I downloaded earlier. Once installed, update and run the ‘quick scan’ finish installation.
  7. Run Widows Update until all updates have been installed
  8. Download and install Ccleaner. This free utility has some very useful little features that should come in handy, firstly;
  9. Run Ccleaner and navigate to Tools/Start-up. Disable or delete any items you don’t want to start-up when the computer starts
  10. Open Revo Uninstaller and uninstall and application I don’t want

This is the basic list above. Below are a few other optional steps:

  1. Install Microsoft Office. Once installed, update.
  2. Download and install Skype. Couldn’t do without this application!
  3. Download and install AL Show free version. A great little media player
  4. Download and install Bullzip PDF printer free version. Installs as a printer and allows you to create PDFs using the normal ‘print’ command

Hope this helps?

Seven Creative February Newsletter (12 February 2010)

A note from the editor

The year seems to be flying by – I have no idea where January went which is worrying as I’ve not touched anything stronger that Horlicks since New Years Eve! As I write this we’re already over a ninth of the way through the year with only 271 shopping days left until Christmas so it must be that it’s all-systems-go here at Seven Creative Acres – our diversification and sales push seems to be working a treat and we’re busier than we’ve ever been!

In the news at the moment, Toyota’s recall of the 2010 Prius along with 2 other hybrid models comes on top of 2.3 million cars already recalled has sent their share price plummeting. The prognosis, however, looks quite good. From all accounts, Toyota will survive this crisis and, no doubt, will emerge stronger than ever. They may have initially expanded too quickly, however, they were perfectly placed to weather this particular storm. What can we learn from this? Toyota concentrated on quality and reputation and built a brand towards which consumers feel loyalty and trust. The words ‘quality’ and ‘reputation’ sometimes seem anachronistic these days in a world of cut-throat business, however, they have served Toyota well and the company will undoubtedly remain as successful as they ever were.

In this issue

  • Who owns the intellectual property rights to your website?
  • Ever accidently deleted an important file?
  • What is Conversion Rate Optimisation?
  • Which browser do you use?
  • Domain name maketh the site – when to use a hyphen
  • What is a .DOCX or .XLSX?
  • Promote your website for free

Intellectual property rights – a word of warning

When we produce any kind of design work for our customers, from websites to leaflets, we automatically transfer the intellectual property rights of the work to the customer upon final payment. This is something we believe to be fair, ethical and is clearly outlined in our terms and conditions. If one of our customers decides they’d like to take the artwork elsewhere in the future, they’re free to do so. This also applies to domain names, photography, logos etc.

You would be forgiven for assuming that this was just standard practice in our industry.  However, we’ve recently taken on a new customer who has been very poorly treated by her previous design company:

When she decided she wanted to upgrade her website she approached us and we presented a proposal, which was accepted.  She then approached her previous design company to inform them of this and to request administrative control of her domain name and her website files in order to allow us to move the hosting and upgrade her site. She was shocked with the response. The company abruptly informed her that the website, its content and all the imagery and design belonged to them and was further informed by them that if she used any elements of the site without their permission, she would face legal action.

Luckily, the domain had been registered in her name so we were able to transfer administrative control directly. If this had not been the case, this would have also been lost.

This, in our opinion, is totally unethical but just goes to show that unless you have these issues clearly outlined when you enter into a contract, you may have no rights to your website or artwork if things turn sour!

We would like to point out, however, that, in our opinion, commissioning a bespoke design (rather than the purchase of template artwork) would infer IP transfer at the point of completion.  A commission, by its very nature, is a piece of work undertaken for you.  Imagine having a portrait painted and then the artist telling you it always belongs to them!  On a day in court, I think she would have won, but who wants the stress and expense in undertaking this?

Obviously, we’ll not be mentioning our new customers’ name, but the company who treated her so badly, on the other hand, were ‘’. If this is the type of service they provide to their customers, I’d avoid them like the plague.

Recovering deleted files

Piriform Recuva logoI have a little free application installed on my computer that I use surprisingly often to recover ‘permanently’ deleted files. The trouble with installing an application like this after you’ve deleted that important file is that there is a good chance you’ll overwrite it and therefore properly permanently delete it.

Recuva by Piriform is a compact and intuitive application that scans your hard drive for deleted files and allows you to restore the files it finds. The application is free and takes up no system resources until you actually need it. I’ve used it and would recommend it to anyone who might be in a position where they need to recover an important document that has been accidently deleted at some point.

Download it from the Piriform website:

Conversion rate optimisation

Conversion Rate Optimisation is probably not a phrase you’re currently familiar with.  However, it is something you’ll undoubtedly come across at some point if you start optimising your website. Basically, the difference between a ‘sale’ and ‘no sale’ can be, for example, down to the colour or font of your ‘buy now’ button. Making small adjustments and monitoring how it influences your conversion rate allows you to optimise the look, feel, layout and content of your website which will ultimately mean your site provides you with a better ROI.

A design decision, even when based on years of experience, is sometimes still just a ‘best guess’ but conversion rate optimisation will help you to make decisions based on real usage data

Browser comparison

Google Chrome Internet Browser LogoSometimes is seems that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is never out of the news – security holes, urgent updates, compatibility issues and downing street petitions to phase out Internet Explorer 6 to name a few – and, more recently, even the German Government warned web users to use a different browser to protect security!

Internet Explorer is the most widely used browser, but is it the best? I stopped using it several months ago due to the unreliability and clunkiness of the browser. Obviously, due to the nature of my work I have to test websites on all the main browsers.  However, internet explorer began to become more of a liability than something to actually facilitate my work.

When Chrome came along, I discovered a light-weight and fast browser, which speeds up my online experience and proves to be extremely reliable. Chrome is the free browser provided by Google and has already rocketed in popularity since its release in late 2008.

I personally find Mozilla Firefox to be slow, heavy and clunky – not a great deal different to IE.  Safari, on the other hand, is less buggy, however, I’m used to the Miscrosoft shortcuts which don’t always tally up with the Apple browser.

If you’ve not tried Chrome, why not give it a go? It’s changed my online experience for the better and shown there is a better way to do it. I don’t think I’ll ever use IE as my primary browser again!

Choosing a domain name – when to hyphenate

As more and more of the best domains are registered it becomes harder to get the right one. Many people will initially consider compromise or shortening their business name, however, this may not always be the best solution.

Something which is not always considered is the humble hyphen. Did you know it can often help your visitors or potential customers find you as the hyphen often breaks up a string of letters into readable words. One of the most high-profile examples is the National Lottery. Their domain name ‘national-lottery’ is easier to read than with the hyphen than without: nationallottery.

Another issue to consider is from the search engines point of view. A search engine will match a search term against a domain name without prejudice, or to put it another way, if your domain name contains words that have been formed by putting other words next to each other, the search engine will match them.

One of the most infamous examples of this is the Mole Station Nursery. Originally, a perfectly innocent website for a genuine nursery based in New South Wales, they quickly became famous on the internet when someone pointed out their domain name implied something else:

This example is an extreme one.  However, it shows that this nursery could have avoided any embarrassment with a humble hyphen or two to break up the words.

Just for a bit of fun, here are some other famous examples of domain names that could have benefited from a hyphen:

  • Experts Exchange –
  • Therapist Finder –
  • Powergen Italia –
  • Pen Island –
  • Who Represents –

What are DOCX / XLSX?

If you’ve ever come across a file with a .docx or .xlsx extension and not known what to do with it, read on.

Microsoft’s Office 2007 brought many changes including new file extensions for Excel 2007 and Word 2007 documents. Whereas Office 2003 documents are forwards compatible with Office 2007, the 2007 documents are not compatible with the 2003 version or prior versions and this is where the problem lies.

The cynical amongst us may speculate that this may have been done to encourage Office users to upgrade to the latest version, however, this isn’t actually necessary.

Not many people know this, but there is a compatibility patch you can apply to MS Word 2003 and Excel to allow you to open the 2007 version documents and use them as normal.

More information and download available from here:

If you’re using Office 2007 and you’d like to save a document in the older format meaning it will be compatible with 1997, 2000 and 2003 versions of Office, simply click on the top-right windows button, select ‘save as’ from the  drop down menu then select Word 97-2003 document.

Promote your business for free

Inbound website links are one of the most important elements when it comes to Search engine optimisation. Of the different types of inbound links you can have, direct, on-way contextual links are brilliant when it comes to helping your site index well with search engines and driving traffic to your site and we’re giving them away for free! If you’re a customer or friend of Seven Creative / Seven Website Design, simply write a title and paragraph about your business and send it to us and we’ll put you direct a link on the Seven Creative Blog. Simple as that! No strings, no cost. Give us a call if you want more information

…and finally

This brings us to the end of another newsletter. If you’re still with us; congrats. 1800 words is quite a pile to plough through! To reward you for your dedication, I’d like to leave you with a final thought:

“Whenever I see a man with a beard, moustache and glasses, I think, ‘There’s a man who has taken every precaution to avoid people doodling on photographs of him” – Carey Marx

Wishing you a continuing happy, successful and prosperous 2010 – Chris and the Seven Creative team