Category Archives: Business

Broadening the Boundaries of Education – Virtual Reality’s Learning Benefits

Virtual reality is set to change the future of higher learning thanks to the countless practical training applications. The augmented and virtual reality landscape is not set to be an asset for only academia, but skills development, risk management construction training such CCNSG training courses as well.

Educators are quickly learning that any subject can be paralleled within virtual reality. The safety of such training alone is reason enough to begin relying upon immersive simulations. Here we’ll be taking a closer look at the benefits of virtual reality within all levels of education and across all sectors. We are seeing exactly how and why the industry will be worth an estimated 40.4 billion US dollars by just 2020.

The Growth of Virtual Reality

From roughly the start of 2016, virtual reality was estimated to bring in $2.7 billion in revenue whereas just one year later its earnings skyrocketed to $7.2 billion. This massive growth has even impacted the artificial intelligence sector, as virtual reality hinges on it for efficient delivery of an automated experience.

The Global X Robotics and Artificial Intelligence fund alone, just one major player in the industry, has grown over 30% in a little over six months. All these movements are doing is highlighting the massive impact which virtual reality is beginning to impress upon our lives. As the technology becomes more commonplace there is a higher availability of developers and interest in simulation for training, distance learning and skills development. Let’s see which industries are showing the most significant expansion within education.

Distance Learning and Virtual Worlds

Virtual reality learning environments (VRLE) are excellent for long-distance learning. Never before has an educator been given the opportunity to share an interactive space with their learners in this way. Social virtual reality learning simulations allow for collaboration of various educators and students all within the same rendered classroom.

With the cost of entry-level smartphone based virtual reality being extremely low, devices such as Google Cardboard afford the disadvantaged an opportunity to receive proper education. The most basic example of affordable VR learning is the 360 degree videos available on free platforms such as YouTube. The chance to be walked through a battlefield or escorted through the Whitehouse while being narrated your syllabus fascinates learners. The knowledge retention of virtual reality-based education is outstanding.  These videos are only beginning to show what is possible given a bit of innovation and creative thinking.

Combat & Military Training in Virtual Reality

Whereas cutting edge military simulations are understandably not common knowledge, the public has been made aware of a few leading exhibits. VIRTSIM is a prime example of a military technology which has been shown in glimpses to the public. Developed by US defence contractor Raytheon, VIRTSIM uses full-body motion tracking to facilitate a massive virtual reality world which is used for military and emergency personnel education.

Their simulation includes muscle-stimulation via electric shock and full free and natural movement within an area comparable in size to a basketball court. With completely custom software and a hardware cost of over $100,000, this is high-end virtual reality. The University of California, Los Angeles is even promoting military developments for the US using VR. Their recently released 360-degree video entitled ‘Leaders Made Here’ allows prospective cadets to become immersed in a glimpse of training from the first-person perspective of a US Army officer.

Virtual Reality & PTSD

Realistic training simulations are not the only benefit which virtual reality holds for the military. Psychology has also found its uses through the treatment of PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder. Psychologist and Director of Medical Virtual Reality at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, Albert “Skip” Rizzo, has been successful using this technology to assist those returning from war.

His virtual reality-based exposure has successfully treated those suffering from all forms of trauma, PTSD and both sufferers of cognitive and motor decline. Once more psychologists grasp the potential of virtual reality and the scope of treatment available in a custom-created environment, it becomes inevitable that we will see great therapeutic value from this technology.

VR for Healthcare

The healthcare training functionality of virtual reality technology is invaluable. Surgeons and other medical staff are given the chance to carry out dangerously precise procedures with no risk to human life. Similarly, complex operations such as organ transplants can be simulated and practiced by the operating surgeon beforehand.

Developments such as Medical Realities for the Oculus Rift offer a full range of cost-effective surgical and medical training solutions. Access to a safe training environment of this calibre is a rarity in underdeveloped areas. This technology also allows surgeries to be broadcast via the virtual landscape. For example, the Royal London Hospital pioneered the way when Dr. Shafi Ahmed live-streamed a cancer surgery in 2014 via Google Glass. Today the practice is far more commonplace.

Medical students can study seasoned professionals from every angle, viewing the procedure as if they were present in the room. The newly launched HP Z back is a new technology which allows for full roaming in a virtual environment. The relatively low cost and across-the-board capabilities are toted to make it perfect for job training with telemedicine a prime application. We are soon to experience even more complex procedures at higher levels of immersion than ever before seen.

Virtual Reality – Evolving the Study of Art

Every area of arts, culture and education has been touched by the deployment of virtual reality. Recently the University of Virginia started up revolutionary art history classes, headed up by instructor Eric Hupe. This resourceful Italian renaissance art and culture instructor has begun including virtual reality in his classroom. He allows students to explore custom-created renderings of frescoed walls and art found in early renaissance Italy. The ability to show art students the magnificence, detail and beauty whilst standing before perfectly recreated inlaid wood panels and elaborate frescoes from the 14th and 15th century is unmatched by any other art class. Yet despite being unique in the execution, many other art instructors are turning to virtual reality to expand their creative horizons. Google has even released what is termed the ‘Tilt Brush’ to assist virtual artistry. Granting a glorious canvas in full virtual reality, this tool allows you to paint in or on a full 3D room. The entire area is available to your imagination. The possibilities are near endless. This marks just the beginning of artistic innovation within education and expression.


How VR Development Impacts Corporate Infrastructure

As one looks closer at the impact of virtual reality, it soon becomes clear that corporate enterprises have long been looking for this technology. From aviation to motor manufacturing and even natural resources, every industry can find practical training benefits by integrating virtual reality.

Fuel giant BP recently partnered with Igloo Vision to lower their risk at the Hull, England-based refinery. By running emergency procedures in a VR simulation maximum safety is guaranteed. Even the titan of aviation, Boeing, has begun investing in virtual reality.

Their venture capital arm Horizon X has poured over $3.5 million into an augmented and virtual reality start-up named C360 Technologies. They hope to facilitate improved employee training as well as an upgrade to their autonomous systems. These are but two of the many examples of how much change VR research and development brings. The European sector alone has grown to 487 companies as of midway through 2017. This number will continue to rise as the industry surges forward around the globe.

Public Virtual Reality Education Platforms

Expeditions VRGoogle Expeditions VR is a premier virtual reality learning experience which transports learners through guided educational 360-degree 3D tours. It allows students from around the world to visit historical landmarks while connecting multiple people to the same lesson through either Google Cardboard or a Daydream headset.

ClassVRClassVR is a highly flexible virtual reality platform which allows educators to develop their very own virtual reality classrooms and simulations. It gives easy access to an interface which makes over 500 preset subjects and their learning material available to be compiled into custom VR lessons. It even allows you to capture your own scenes and other multimedia content. Remote learning is made easy and cost-effective through this innovative development.

Virtual SpeechVirtual Speech has a singular focus, the development of public speaking skills and interview training. It is a great example of how virtual reality can be used to deliver specific training to remote learners. A better correspondence course on interpersonal communication is hard to find. Training real life skills in a virtual environment relieves most of the inhibiting pressure, while leaving just enough realism to simulate speaking in front of large amounts of people.

KinfulKinful is a platform which describes itself as a social-emotional learning curriculum. This setup encourages students to exchange interactions regarding their life and learning experience. The intercultural benefits of connecting learners from around the world are invaluable to long-term growth. Using Kinful, students can literally view the world through another’s eyes, in addition to meeting their peers in a virtual classroom.

The Future of VR and Education

Virtual reality is expanding in all areas.  Yet it is said that while virtual reality may be big, augmented reality has an even larger role in training and skills development. The ability to superimpose objects, people and machinery within a true-to-life environment grants immersion like no other virtual experience can.

Students will soon be capable of interacting with virtual objects and learning implements. This concept, termed embodied learning, grants far more potential than conventional means of education. Students are no longer forced to rely on interpretations of academic descriptions but can instead observe a rendering which looks and feels authentic.

Life is a journey of experience and both virtual and augmented reality allow for experiences which are normally out of reach of most individuals. By broadening the boundaries of our perceived reality we are extending the limits of education, innovation and inspired creation.

7 design hacks to make your startup office stand out!

Starting out in business is tough – but it’s not without its perks. For a lot of people the building space they work in is one of the first things they stamp their personality on. Say goodbye to the boring corporate offices you used to drag yourself into every morning and say hello to 7 designer inspired hacks that will make your new startup space uniquely yours!

  1. Clear the way!

Have you ever tried to move your bedroom around only to find that there’s literally one practical position for the bed and that’s it?! Frustrating isn’t it? Don’t let your office layout or current furniture constrain your office plans, think outside then box, you may even want to consider a steel framed building from https://www.steelbuildinguk.com/ Also, when it comes to the insides – clear out everything you possibly can and look at the space with fresh eyes.

Now, the extent to which you can do this will depend on your tenancy – but if it’s practical you can take down doors, lose window coverings, remove office divides – and so on, until you’ve got a totally blank space.

Then when you do…

  1. Use the space unconventionally

The quirkiest startup offices do things a little differently – and that often begins with the layout. Think about what you want to see when you walk into the space – should this be a vista of your hardworking team? Or should it be a breakout area that keeps guests from stumbling into important business areas?

Do you want open space? Or would you prefer defined working areas? This is your office, so go with what you like and remember you don’t have to rely on the usual elements to divide the space – why not use book shelves to create areas? Or rugs to differentiate one space from the rest.

The best designers don’t rely on walls and doors to define spaces!

  1. Make the space about your company

If you’ve ever been away from home for business you’ll probably have stayed in a few budget travel hotels. The reason the colours, layouts and decorations are all exactly the same is to give a feeling of familiarity regardless of where you are geographically – familiar equals comfort. However, familiar also equals forgettable…

If you want people to remember your company you’re going to want to stamp your brand on the space. When we say ‘brand’ – we don’t mean your logo, we mean giving a feel for what your company is all about. Take for example Instagram’s startup offices…

The designer behind their initial space wanted to reflect the fact they were all about photographs and technology – while still giving a hint of the retro style filters that everyone came to love so much. They did that with clean white walls and sharp contrasting vintage style furniture – and as for colour, accents of pale and mid browns gave a sepia feel that made gave the space an unquestionably vintage photo feel.

Have you got colours that would work for accent walls? What’s the feel of the product you provide? Are you cutting edge tech or wanting a more relaxed vibe? Reflect it in your space!

  1. Let the light in

If you want a productive workspace it’s important to let as much natural light in as possible. The reason natural like looks unlike anything that comes from a lamp – is because it covers the full spectrum of light – not like fluorescent tubes or light bulbs that offer only a small range of colour.

Giving a full range of light triggers the parts of the brain that encourage wakefulness and energy – meaning your workforce is going to be as bright and switched on a possible.

Controlling the light in the office is as much about organising furniture as it is about windows and skylights. Those typical U.S. office ‘cubicles’ are a crash course in how not to do things – take a big spacious office with lots of light and surround everyone with opaque artificial walls. Not ideal!

It might be tempting to put big plants or feature items in your windows – but try not to – and you can boost the amount of light with carefully positioned mirrors around the place too.

  1. Pick some colour carefully

When you had your logo and website designed you probably went with a colour palette that involved some black, white, greys and one or two accent colours. Try to do the same with your office space – if you throw a bucket-load of different statement colours in there you’ll start to diminish your brand and design – and start to look a little hotchpotch.

  1. Consider some wall-art

If you’re looking for a bold statement that really tells the world who’s occupying the space, you might want to think about putting some art onto the wall. We’re not talking pictures, we’re talking full wall murals that reflect your company, your message, the vibe of the room – or whatever else you want to shout about!

Even if it’s just a generic pattern, you’ll find that a team feels more stimulated when they’re surrounded by more than just plain walls.

Not sure that your landlord will appreciate an 80s New York graffiti mural sprayed onto his freshly rendered wall? No problem, there are plenty of companies who’ll create custom removeable wallpapers that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

  1. Mix old and new

If you’ve shaped and coloured a stunning space only to fill it with crisp catalogue-fresh office furniture you’ve fallen at the final hurdle! The best office spaces try to mix old and new to give a classy and well-thought-through feel.

Don’t overdo it though, aim for around 30% of your office furniture to be vintage or antique – if you have much more you run the risk of looking less shabby-chic and instead just plain old shabby.

There are some things you’ll probably want to ensure are cutting-edge – computer chairs are going to keep you workforce comfy – so save the Queen Anne style wing-back chairs for the breakout areas! Consider vintage where ergonomics matter a little less – storage areas, cupboards and side tables are all perfect for that retro vibe!

The result?

There’s mixed bag here – not only are you going to have an office that’s memorable to the clients who come and visit you there – but you’re going to find that the combinations of colours, light and working space bolster productivity – making your office the ultimate in form and function…

10 Financial Tips For New Start-up Businesses

10 Financial Tips For New Start-up Businesses

10 Financial Tips For New Start-up Businesses

Starting up a new business is a time of mixed emotions you’ll be nervous, excited, proud and confident. However, that last one might not last very long if you don’t get a solid foundation set up, the risk of bankruptcy is incredibly high in your first few years and no entrepreneur wants to experience that. 

According to research from Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 start-up businesses will fail in the first 18 months of their operation. So, the risk of failure and bankruptcy is high but don’t panic because you can improve your chances by following these 10 fantastic financial tips.

Budget Everything

One of the biggest reasons start-ups fail and go bankrupt is because they don’t budget properly, if you want your business to succeed then you need to keep on top of your cash flow. You need to know exactly how much is coming in and how much is going out and what it’s being spent on. Every area should have a budget and you should always stick to it, great ideas don’t pay the bills so makes sure you keep on top of your money.

Avoid Unneeded Expenses

When you start a business, you’ll need to spend money that’s just part of getting your business up and running. But you need to make sure you’re spending that money on the right things you don’t need a huge office with an amazing view when you’re just starting out do you? Or fancy coffee machines for the staff room, remember to focus your money on what matters not on extravagant fixtures.

Have A Business Plan Ready

It surprising how many entrepreneurs start setting up a business without a plan, you should always make time to set-up a business plan first. With this you can better work out exactly what you want your business to do and better evaluate your ideas, it also gives you a way to track your goals and work out all the costs involved. So, before you do anything else get yourself a business plan drawn up.   

Check Out The Competition

Yes, it might seem sneaky but this is business we’re talking about everyone does it! So, don’t be afraid to check out your competition and see what they’re doing remember your business is trying to outdo them so look at what they’re doing and see how you can improve on it.

Get Ready To Promote Your Business

Despite what Hollywood might show us not all entrepreneurs are confident, extroverts with a talent for showmanship. That’s OK but no matter how much you hate it you’re going to have to tackle that problem a get ready to promote your business yourself at least for a while. PR firms are not an expense most start-ups can afford so you’ll be doing the promoting on your own.

Use Social Media

Social media is an amazing tool for all kinds of purposes especially promotion, but it can also be used for marketing research and much more. So, get your business on social media as quickly as possible and remember to try and update regularly.

Research Your Customers

Just like researching your competition getting to know your customers will help your start-up business gain a huge advantage. You need to know how to attract customers from your key demographics and understand how they operate. You should be researching your customers all the time, while your business is still in development and after it’s been set-up.

Know What You’re Getting Into

Setting up a business is hard, now you might be thinking “tell me something I don’t know” but few entrepreneurs will be ready for what exactly that means. It will likely mean many late nights and long working days, so say goodbye to your social life for a while because you’ll be putting all your focus and effort into running your business.

Start Out Slow

If you’re setting-up a business you don’t have just jump in, you can start out slowly in fact till you’re ready you should take it slow. You don’t have to quit your job straight away after all, while you’re getting your research done and setting up your business plan you can keep working. Many start-up businesses fail because entrepreneurs try to rush things leading to higher costs and big mistakes when it comes to starting a business slow and steady does win the race.

Don’t Micro Manage

In the early days of your business, you’ll likely be doing many different jobs, that’s why being a jack of all trades will give you a great advantage. However, when you have the time and money to hire employees you’ll have to learn to let them do their own thing. Micro managing will take up too much or your time and won’t create a good working environment. It will be difficult for entrepreneurs to take a back step but if you want your business to succeed then you’ll need to learn to do it.   

Workplace dyslexia and the law

Workplace dyslexia and the law

Workplace dyslexia and the law

Although individual adaptability makes it is difficult to be exact, experts suggest that around 10% of the general population are dyslexic which has led to many schools from investing in Dyslexia support from companies such as CPD Bytes. What’s more, dyslexia is a ‘hidden’ condition, meaning there may not be obvious indications or adjustments that can be made to make the workplace that reflect employee need.

Where a workplace or employment arrangement puts someone with a disability at a disadvantage – the 2010 Equality Act requires employers make reasonable adjustments. Because there are a wide range of issues that can relate to dyslexia – getting a full understanding of a person’s requirements is important when it comes to following the law.

Whether you’re an employer, employee or prospective candidate we’ll walk you through some of the law surrounding dyslexia and employment.

What does the law actually say?

Since the Equality Act is a weighty document some 250 pages in length – it’s useful to cut it down to size when you’re looking at one specific issue. Essentially the message is this – an organisation cannot refuse employment simply because an individual has dyslexia. Not only that – but an employer must think of ways of working that could enable a dyslexic person to fulfil any role.

It’s easy to think about equality in terms of just initial employment – but equality laws must be observed in other situations too:

  • Employee retention
  • Internal promotion and transfers
  • Training and development
  • Performance management and dismissal

Is dyslexia a disability?

In health terms, there’s a distinction between a ‘disability’ and a ‘difficulty’. Essentially a disability puts a permanent cap on a person’s ability to perform a certain task, however, a difficulty can normally be overcome with the right support.

Despite being distinct in the health professions, government legislation refers to dyslexia as a disability and is therefore covered by all disability and equality law.

As a candidate or employee

Whether you are a candidate for a role or an existing employee it’s entirely up to you whether or not you disclose your dyslexia to your employer. You might decide that it is important for you to disclose this information from the very start – and you might have no choice if you feel it would otherwise hinder your ability to apply.

Although legally you have no obligation to disclose your dyslexia, you might choose to do so in your CV, application form or covering letter, during or preceding your interview, at the point of being offered the role, upon commencement of the role or even later when you’re in employment. It doesn’t matter when you do this – the law says your employment should not be affected.

The benefits of disclosing dyslexia

For many people dyslexia can be a tough subject to discuss – especially if your experience throughout education was difficult as a result of your condition. There are benefits to disclosing your condition though – think about it this way:

You and your colleague are both candidates for a promotion. Your performance reviews have both been good and there’s little that would help an interview panel to decide between you both.

You might think that declaring your dyslexia at this stage would swing the decision toward your colleague – but why? If you’re both performing well an awareness of your condition and some adaptations to your working environment could very well bolster your productivity and performance to levels that set you head and shoulders above any other applicant.

What if you’re struggling?

Maybe your workplace performance is lagging behind others? Without declaring your dyslexia your reasons for diminished performance might be put down to other factors – if they include “a lack of focus” or being perceived as “lacking dedication” it’s possible you’re being judged without all the information. Don’t forget, the law protects you against unfair treatment – but if your employer doesn’t know about your condition, they also don’t know that they should be doing more to support you.

Ultimately the decision is yours, but being supported around dyslexia can mean your energy can be focused on letting your talents shine.

Are you an employer?

As well as ensuring your recruitment and training policies fit with the Equality Act there’s a big emphasis on occupational health requirements also being fit for purpose. Making ‘reasonable adjustments’ for people with dyslexia can often be done cheaply and with little impact on resources.

Although this list isn’t exhaustive, adjustments can include:

For issues with reading and writing

  • Providing information in a more suitable format – i.e. video, diagrams, examples.
  • Using specialist spelling and grammar checking tools

For memory issues relating to dyslexia

  • Ensuring objectives are provided individually
  • Setting up the office and workspace in an intuitive and easy to use manner

For commination issues

  • Making sure messages are clear and nothing is assumed or implied
  • Observing turn taking and adhering to agendas in meetings
  • Clear lines of communication that mean tangents are

Supporting around the lesser-known effects of dyslexia

In some instances, a lack of in-depth understanding of their own condition means dyslexic people are missing out on either the adaptations needed to perform their role effectively – or the recompense that they could be due for not being provided the right working adjustments.

The term dyslexia is almost entirely attributed to reading and writing – where in fact it should be considered a ‘processing’ impairment. Imagine the brain to have a measurable and finite amount processing power – now take up a large chunk of that power with attempts to handle reading and writing tasks – leaving a diminished amount of processing ability for ‘working memory’ tasks or the ability to cope with a busy working environment. This is how many other dyslexia related issues occur.

Employer and employee awareness

It takes an incredible amount of awareness for an individual to go to an employer with a deep understanding of their struggles. Instead – they are more likely to complain of headaches – or go to the doctor and present you with a sick note citing stress.

Abiding by the law shouldn’t be the only driving factor for an employer to effectively work with dyslexia – when you begin to understand the range of issues that can occur for dyslexic people, you come closer to unlocking their true working potential – at the same time as bolstering productivity and reducing sickness and staff turnover. If a management consultancy company offered these same results it’s likely you’d employ their services – the reality is, you can positively impact all of these factors by just understanding you’re a condition that affects around 1 in 10 people in a little more depth.

The 9 steps to perfect WordPress maintenance for your business

“Use WordPress” they said! “You’ll make a great looking site easily” they said! “You’ll feel a bit overwhelmed by trying to maintain your site” they said! Oh, no one mentioned that last bit? Did you think you were the only one struggling? Worry not, if keeping on top of WordPress maintenance is a becoming a bit of a headache then we’re here to help.

The key to the smooth running of a WordPress site is being proactive and keeping on top of the regular WordPres website maintenance. We’ve got 9 fairly simple tips that’ll make sure your site never gives you a headache again…

  1. Backup!

It might seem like a simple and obvious first step but backing your site up is really important and overlooked by a lot of people. The main reason it’s overlooked is because of how infrequently it’s used – but, like lots of other things, you don’t realise how important it is until you need it.

The first step here is to have some kind of cloud-based backup – but be aware, if your site is hacked there’s a chance your backup might be compromised too. The most robust way of backing up is to take 2 or 3 backups over a period of a week, that way you can work on a rolling basis, only ever overwriting the oldest file – meaning if you accidently backup a compromised version then you can step a couple of days further back and restore again.

Make sure you’re not just backing up your database too, get all your files covered. Tedious? Maybe. Will you thank us for the advice if something goes wrong? Definitely.

     2.Moderate comments

Another simple one – keep on top of any comments you have enabled on the site. These are prime real-estate areas for spam bots placing dubious links. It won’t take you long to moderate your comments and it gives the impression of a well-maintained site to legitimate traffic.

     3. Keep your files up to date

Keeping files up to date isn’t dissimilar to backing up, it’s not a glamourous task but as far as preventative measures go it’s one of the best. The priority here are your WordPress core files, this is where big security issues are patched – meaning the big steps toward keeping your site safe are done on your behalf. Most hosting companies will give you the option to automatically allow these updates, so it’s a good idea to opt-in if that’s the case.

If you prefer to keep your hands on the reigns of your site for everything then keep your eyes peeled for core file update notifications and get them manually updated as a priority beyond their release.

     4.Update plugins

Plugins are great at a few things – on the plus side they’ll expand your site functionality way beyond anything the base platform can offer, on the downside, if they’re not properly maintained they’ll be great at causing speed, compatibility and security issues!

Keep on top of updates. If you’re working with plugins from good providers then you’ll find they keep up with your core updates – a good reason to make sure you’re only using resources from reputable sources. If you’ve having problems or you’ve stopped using one, get rid of it.

     5.Update your theme

If you’re one of the millions of people who’ve adopted a third-party theme for your site then you need to be a little careful with theme updates. Chances are you’ve customised colours or layout to some degree – make sure that when you update you’re not overwriting your customisation with a generic scheme.

But, don’t worry if you do, you’ve got 3 rolling backups now haven’t you?! 

     6.Maintain your database

The more you update the more you’ll accumulate MySQL and PHP overheads – in layperson’s terms this is the mess that’s left when database functions are performed, updates are made and so forth. Whether you use the Optimize Table function or use a piece of third-party software to keep things tidy it’s well worth doing – slowing down database queries is to website performance what keeping your handbrake on is to driving! 

      7.Traffic analysis

The only way to know if your site is doing what you want it to is to look at what your traffic is doing. Only you know what your goals are – is it sheer traffic numbers? Time spent on the site? Conversions? Completed transactions?

As a website owner or developer it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, which takes us on to our next tip…

      8.Live the user experience

Your user experience is where your site will live or die. The best sites in the world are those that are a dream to use, simple, intuitive, predictable and understandable. Research shows that people will vote with their clicks if your site isn’t up to par, bouncing somewhere else quickly – and potentially never coming back.

Having others use your site can help with your objectivity, if that’s friends and family then great – but don’t be afraid to get someone on board who’s a user experience professional for a totally objective view.

There are lots of technical things you can check that have a big impact on a visitor experience and can be measured with simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers.

  • Does your site work neatly and efficiently over all browsers?
  • Do your forms work as they should?
  • Do all your navigation functions work and deliver users to the right place?
  • Do you have any broken links? 404 Errors?
  • Is your page load speed reasonable?

     9.Maintain your on-page-SEO

There are few jobs on a WordPress site that will stack up like on-page-SEO. You’ve got a choice – do you want to commit a few minutes each time you post to staying on top of the job, or do you fancy a tedious few hours by letting them build up?! For each page:

  • Make sure your H1 tags are only around your title
  • Make sure keywords are in your page URL
  • Place keywords carefully in the first paragraph of content
  • Include the right kind of outbound links
  • Have the right meta description in place

Prevention vs. the cure

So, you’ve read through – what do you think? 45 minutes to an hour’s worth of work each week? If you’re working flat out you might find it difficult to justify taking that time out – but ask yourself this, would you rather factor in those minutes now? Or be forced to spend hours further down the line to remedy, restore or re-do all that hard work? The most optimal thing you can do if you are trying to save on time is to to search out a WordPress website maintenance service to take care of all of these 9 steps listed above.

How To Use Your Photography Skill To Make Money Online

Cameras are everywhere these days, aren’t they? What used to be a luxury accessory is now so common place that there are entire social media platforms based on sharing pictures.

With the popularity of sites like Instagram and Snapchat and the ease of access to cameras, it’s easy to see why people who take a good selfie think they are now a skilled photographer and can use those photography skills to make money online.

But let’s be honest just because you can take a good selfie doesn’t mean you’re a photographer. It might not always seem like it when you look at gossip magazines but photography is an art form and one that many people study for years to master.

That doesn’t mean you have to be a photography student to make money online using photography though, there’s a lot of natural skill and passion involved too. But you do need an understanding of photography and the right equipment for the job.

So, if you have the skills and knowledge, how can you use your photography skills to make money online?

Freelancing

The world wide web is full of freelancing opportunities for photographers, sites like Gumtree and Craigslist are great places to start searching for people looking for a photographer. You might have to do some traveling but there’s plenty of people out there who a need a photographer and these sites are great for finding valuable networking opportunities as well.

Edit Photographs

While freelancing sites are useful for photographers many people will already have the photographs they want to use, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way for you to use your photography skills to make money. Photography is more than just taking the picture, it’s also all about the after work and editing.

Any professional photographer should know how to use photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro (to name just a few) and there are many people out there who will gladly pay for your editing services.

Freelancing sites like Peopleperhour, Elance, Toptal and Upwork are full of people looking for professional photo editing services. They might want you to simply remove the background on a few product pictures or might want the brightness and saturation altering or they could have a more complex objective in mind.

But by knowing how to edit photographs to a high standard you’ll be able to make a lot of money online.

License Your Photographs

If you take a great photograph it’s only natural that someone who sees it will want to use it right? So why not let them, but of course you don’t have to let them use it for free. Most photo hosting sites will have an option for you to license your photographs and set a price for use.

Your photographs will likely have to be checked first before you can license them but this is usually a simple straightforward process. And if you’ve got your own website (and I’d recommend any photographer serious about making money online as one) you can license them directly on your site and let people contact you if they want to use them.

Create Stock Photography

Let’s be honest outside of school PowerPoint presentations no one is really going to use clip art, are they? For everyone else, there are the more professional looking stock photographs. These photographs can be used on all kinds of articles and if they’re high-quality you could make a lot of money.

So how do you create and license stock photography? If you have your own site you can license it all on there but another great way to create and sell stock photography is to submit photography on stock photo websites.

Every time someone buys your photograph you’ll earn a commission, this will vary from site to site and the popularity of the photograph. If you have a large portfolio of photographs then you could make a lot of money online by selling your stock photography. Some popular stock photography sites to get started with are iStock, Big Stock and Shutter Stock.

The application process for each site will be slightly different and once again your photographs may need to be checked first. But once they’re uploaded you could make a lot of money using your photography skills online by creating and then licensing stock photography.

Photography Competitions

Now for something a little more fun! Photography competitions are held by lots of websites from small indie magazines to national newspapers like the Telegraph. While you’ll face some tough competition from other photographers even placing well could get you some money and it will be sure to boost your profile.

So even if you don’t win people might see your name and search you out, so if you ever find a photography competition looking for entrants why not give it a go?

4 Tips for Beginners Who Want to Start a Business

When you want to start a business, the first step people tend to take is to do research and find out what other people did. This is a good thing to do, but you shouldn’t always believe everything you hear or trust that what works for one person will also work for you. Today, I would like to share a few lessons learned by successful entrepreneurs.

Choose something you enjoy. If you start a business and it works, you will be doing it for years to come. Choose something you like and enjoy because you will be more likely to put in the necessary work and commitment than if you were doing something you hate.

Figure it out as you go. You won’t know everything when you start and you very possibly won’t know anything. Don’t let that stop you. Learn as you go. Most businessmen did not know how exactly to run their business or how to operate in the field they were in, but they learned as they went and figured it out.

Choose your partners carefully. If you want or need a partner for your business, choose carefully. Try not to have one because it is convenient, but rather because that person makes the business stronger. You need someone that will contribute, make smart decisions, and support you. If you choose the wrong partner, you will have a nightmare on your hands.

Ignore the statistics of failure. Many people will tell you about the high percentage of businesses that fail or how few of a certain niche succeed, etc. Ignore these stats as they are not necessarily true. If a high percentage of businesses fail, it’s probably because the owners didn’t commit or prepare well enough. Those stats just make people comfortable with failing or they use it to justify why they didn’t make it.

There are a few more lessons, but we will share them later. One other thing that is very important, however, is that your family and quality time should always be important. Obsess about your idea and go do it, but don’t forget the important people in your life.

Infographic by: bizhub.anz.co.nz

4 Top Ways in Which Technology Can Save Your Business Money

Technology is a wonderful thing and it is a great way to save your business money. If you are looking for small ways to cut costs for your business, then consider the following technology practices. You will be surprised at how easy they are and how much you can save. It’s so simple, you will laugh.

 

Telecommute

Telecommuting is something that is becoming more popular and obviously, employees love it many IT support companies are no implementing this technology for business across the globe. Statistics show that employees who are allowed to work from home, have increased rates of production instead of the expected ‘slacking off’ you may expect. Conferencing technology has made it so easy to telecommute and have conferences without the cost of plane tickets, gas, and the wasted time of travelling.

These simple changes in your business will save you a lot of money in the long run. This is the easiest and fastest way to cut costs through using technology in your business.

 

Mobile Payments

Mobile payment systems are a good way to save on banking fees. The fees won’t fall away completely, but most banks will offer a definite reduction in costs. There are different options for these systems and you can choose which one you prefer. Most young people, as well as their parents, will prefer paying with their phone rather than taking out a card or cash.

Electronic Receipts and Invoices

Gone are the days of spending money on paper, ink, and receipt printers. When you use online receipts and invoices, you are saving money and also helping to save the planet. Costs for receipt supplies add up over time and you can save so much of that money by going digital. An added bonus is that you now have email addresses of people who have visited your business or showed interest. They are possible leads for future sales.

Online Advertising

Online advertising and social media advertising are much cheaper than traditional advertising. This does not mean that you should throw out traditional advertising, but to save costs and reach more of your target audience, consider integrating social media and online advertising in your marketing plan. Online advertising enables you to reach your target audience more directly and you can track the effectiveness of your advertisements with stats.

 

 

3 Marketing Technologies That Every Business Needs

The online world is flooding with digital marketing tools. It is no wonder many companies are either hesitant to make use of them or so overwhelmed that they don’t know where to start. I want to share some tools that every business must have. These tools are the best for starting out online marketing and make it successful. The tools are easy to use and often less expensive than traditional marketing tools.

1. Search Engine Marketing – SEO and paid reach are some of the most important ways to get your website seen. If you want your website to show at the top of the search engine results, you need excellent SEO consultant and you need to make use of everything you’ve got. It is of no use if you have a great product and beautiful website if people cannot find you when they search for what you are selling. You can do basic SEO improvement yourself or you can hire professionals to update your website and do all the add-ins needed to rank higher on search engines.

2. Analytics – Analytics help you track how effective your advertisements and other marketing campaigns are working. They give you stats on the number of clicks, conversions, enquiries, page visits per day, etc. It is the best tool to learn about what you are doing wrong and also to see what is working. The most popular analytics tool is Google Analytics.

3. Conversion Optimization – The point of getting people to your website is to try and convert them to take action and buy from you or at least interact. If you use the right marketing apps and other tools, you can get a conversion rate that will make your business grow exponentially. Conversion is a very important goal for any business with a website, so why not put in the effort and money to get them? You can find a few tools for conversion optimization including Landing Page Grader, Unbounce, and Optimzely.

These three tools will already make a difference. There are a few other tools you can use, but we will look at them another day. I will leave you with one last tip: Be mobile-friendly.