Cadet’s Log: Kate Roughley

Kate Roughly, a recent Graphic Design and Multimedia graduate, shares her thoughts on joining our Nettl Academy as a Nettl Cadet.

When I started at the Nettl academy, I felt nervous and excited. I graduated from the University of Worcester last November after finishing my course in May. I have missed designing every day since I finished, and I grabbed the chance to design again at the Nettl Academy.

I travelled down to Birmingham on the first day and felt welcome as soon as I arrived. I met the other designers on the course and we all soon broke the ice and got chatting. I’ve been working full time in retail since I left university so it was great to be around other designers again in this atmosphere.

Chris and Simon who have been leading the course are great at teaching and really friendly too. I love being able to learn again. We have been focussing on web design on the course and learning about Brambl and WordPress. I didn’t do much web design during my time at university so I was looking forward to this chance to learn new skills as a designer.

We began with a group task which was really fun, we were given a brief then had to talk it through, create a launch project for a juice bar and then show our work to the rest of the group. This was nice to start off with and I enjoyed all of it. Even presenting at the end, which I never thought I’d miss!

We then learnt how to use Brambl, a platform Nettl have to make web design more efficient. I’ve only ever used code before which I found difficult and Brambl is much more visual which I definitely prefer. Being able to build the website panel by panel and adjust it visually is easier for me.

classroom training in great room training room birmingham nettl academy

After that we looked at WordPress which is a little harder to use than Brambl. Brambl is great but quite simple, whereas WordPress gives more freedom to me as a designer. Being able to use plug-ins, its free to use by anyone, and CSS code can be added to personalise the site even more. I prefer WordPress out of the two platforms as even though it is harder to use, I know that I can still learn how to use it well and then have more freedom with my design work.

We have been given a brief from The Printing Charity and as a group, we are all redesigning their current website individually. This is such a fantastic opportunity as I get to design again and work with a client. The Printing Charity wants a fresh new website that is clearer and easier to follow so the audience can find out what the charity does and how it helps people, as well as letting them donate if they want to.

So far I’ve redesigned the home page for the site and kept it clean and simple, using images of the people involved to help the user connect more with the charity and I’ve stuck to the colours that are already being used. These colours are really bold and look great on screen, it gives the website much more of an impact. I can’t wait to redesign the whole website which will hopefully lead to more opportunities.

I’ve been really enjoying my time at Nettl so far and getting to work with such a great company of creatives. I’m getting to grow each week as a designer and learn new skills which I’m really grateful for.

The Nettl Academy recently opened it’s doors to welcome the first batch of Nettl Cadets onto the training programme. The Nettl Academy is a way for design graduates to gain some experience, get on-the-job coaching and real-world training.

nettl cadets academy launch web training group photo

Could you cut it at Cadets?

If you’re a design student, or you know one, we are looking for applicants for next term.

Click to find our more about the Nettl Academy or enrol.

Cadet’s Log: Sean Comrie

After graduating with a degree in Illustration and Animation, Sean Comrie heard about a ‘cool design experience opportunity’ on the horizon. Welcome aboard the Nettl Academy, Sean. Give us your thoughts on becoming one of our first Nettl Cadets.

“I had spent a couple months working a typical supermarket job whilst desperately trying to find some kind of creative inspiration, admittedly more days spent not designing at all and just focusing on working a very normal job. So hearing of an opportunity where I would get to learn some design skills and get real life design brief experience to me felt like a total win, as at university I had never really experienced doing any commissioned-style projects because that was more catered for the Illustration Graphics/Fine Art students.

Initially, I was very nervous, as I thought maybe I’d lost my edge. I hadn’t designed anything to show others in a while. My projects prior to starting had very much been private and mainly unfinished. But everyone at Nettl put me at ease because they are very friendly and it almost feels like a little family relationship rather than just serious business.

The lessons on web design run at a good pace and are made easy to keep up with, especially for someone like myself with zero experience in web design. After the first couple of sessions using their in-house web design software, Brambl and WordPress, I am slowly getting a better grip of designing for web.

I understand the things required to make an appealing and successful website. In addition to this, the critiques after the sometimes one-day deadline projects are very helpful as they get you thinking of where you can improve and practice quick thinking and execution.

sean critiquing a website design

During these projects you also get to work with some of the other cadets. It’s a nice experience meeting new people from different places, much like university again, which is something I really enjoy.

Over the last week I was challenged to create two logo designs for two different types of companies which is something brand new to me as normally logo design is out of my field. But doing this was great fun and I feel like it’s eventually something I will be able to say is part of my designers repertoire.

As I continue through this programme I hope to continue honing such skills and develop others.

The Nettl Academy recently opened it’s doors to welcome the first batch of Nettl Cadets onto the training programme. The Nettl Academy is a way for design graduates to gain some experience, get on-the-job coaching and real-world training.

Could you cut it at Cadets?

If you’re a design student, or you know one, we are looking for applicants for next term.

Click to find our more about the Nettl Academy or enrol.

nettl cadets academy launch web training group photo

Cadet’s Log: Tom Read

Tom Read, a current Illustration & Graphic Design student at Coventry University, and one of our first Cadets, shares his experience of the Nettl Academy:

“As soon as I heard about the opportunity to gain real world experience in a professional design studio, I jumped at the chance head first. Something like this isn’t a regular occurrence and having that kind of experience under your belt is vital to a successful career in design.

Situated in the centre of Birmingham, 5 minutes from New Street train station, the Nettl studio is everything I imagined it to be; modern, quirky and well equipped. Plenty of seating areas, a generously sized meeting room and enough Mac computers to satisfy any Apple fan boy. But the best thing about the studio is its in-house coffee shop supplying the fuel that keeps us designers going!

“The skills we would be developing though out the course were clearly highlighted to us at the start of the programme; the ability to use web building software to create responsive and attractive websites, vital techniques needed to be able to print a range of documents and imagery and marketing, sales and general business skills needed to communicate with potential clients.

“Sounds like a lot of complicated work, but this isn’t the case as the professionals that work at Nettl are there to guide you every step of the way. They run though everything in great detail so there’s no need to feel like you’re unsure as to how something works or is produced.

“I am currently in my final year at Coventry University studying Illustration and Graphic design so as you can imagine, my current background isn’t web design at all. In fact, I’ve only ever messed around with basic web programmes like Adobe Dreamweaver and Muse and so have had no solid experience so you could say I’m a complete novice at this. But fear not, as this does not matter when you enrol onto the Academy course as the professionals will teach you everything you need to know from the ground up from setting up the site to publishing it.

nettl web cadets discuss

“So, 2 months in and I have learned an incredible amount about this industry. I can say now that I can create a fully functional website using a range of building software completely independently; something I could only have dreamed of beforehand. I am also more aware of key marketing and sales skills to be aware of as well as how to work efficiently with clients to ensure a smooth working partnership is achieved.

“Anyone looking for some solid industry experience should look no further as the answer is right under their noses. The Nettl Academy is exactly that, solid industry experience. I am incredibly grateful for everything I have been taught so far and hope this list only grows over the next coming weeks!

The Nettl Academy recently opened it’s doors to welcome the first batch of Nettl Cadets onto the training programme. The Nettl Academy is a way for design graduates to gain some experience, get on-the-job coaching and real-world training.

Could you cut it at Cadets?

If you’re a design student, or you know one, we are looking for applicants for next term.

Click to find our more about the Nettl Academy or enrol.

nettl cadets academy launch web training group photo

Cadet’s Log: Chris Locke

The Nettl Academy recently opened it’s doors to welcome the first batch of Nettl Cadets onto the training programme. The Nettl Academy is a way for design graduates to gain some experience, get on-the-job coaching and real-world training.

Here, Chris Locke, one of our first cadets, speaks about his experience so far.

“At the Nettl Academy I’ve been taught how to use certain online applications such as WordPress and the company’s own Brambl to make professional looking websites in very little time.

“The intense series of tutorials have helped to show me how a studio workflow revolves around speed and reliability. Building websites quickly and to a high standard is something I didn’t think I’d be able to do two months ago, but I’m doing two or three in a day now.

“It’s allowed me to get through the swamp of setup relatively quickly and actually get down to designing things, using the skills I honed at university.

“It’s something I can put on my CV, that I’m learning from, and that easily allows me to work a part time while still being involved in the industry I really want to get into. We all know it’s a terrible time trying to find something directly out of university.

“It’s given me a reasonable example of how a studio naturally works. The change of pace is the most substantial difference, making for an invigorating experience. My colleagues and I are receiving a better experience of work than we did at university, and from professionals as well.

“What’s more, it’s free and doesn’t eat into my schedule too much. We can come and go as we please at the studio any day of the week, and Nettl have given us the ability to use web creation software at home as well – though not professionally of course.

“Our input on projects is listened to and we are given proper, harsh advice that we can actually build upon. Not to say that the staff are any less than lovely. Everyone’s friendly and willing to help you out. Simon’s an excellent tutor, down to earth and concise.

Could you cut it at Cadets?

If you’re a design student, or you know one, we are looking for applicants for next term.

Click to find our more about the Nettl Academy or enrol.

nettl cadets academy launch web training group photo

Introducing Nettl Now

Nettl now: Same day printing, delivered FREE in 4 hours

We’re pleased to announce the launch of Nettl now this week.
Our solution to your on-demand print needs.

Nettl now offers a range of popular print products, delivered direct to you for free, in as little as 4 hours. You can order anything from one poster to a few hundred flyers. The service was created in response to client demand. Our studios tell us they are constantly being asked to help with last minute jobs and get clients out of a pickle.

The rapid turnaround is the perfect tonic for when print is needed urgently. Perhaps:

  • You’ve been let down by another printer,
  • Someone forgot to order,
  • You’ve spotted a last minute event opportunity,
Panic not. The NEW fangled way to get printing & display, when you downright must have it today!

Clients place their order online at www.nettlnow.com, upload their print file and then choose a delivery slot, starting within 4 hours. Their order is then printed, packed and delivered that day by dedicated bike or van.

nettl now same day print delivery outside nettl web studio manchester

Our pilot service is available in Manchester right now, and following a successful trial period will be rolled out to a further 10 locations and beyond, with plans to offer Nettl now in all major cities across the UK.

Free delivery with Nettl Now is available in the following Manchester postcodes now: M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, M7, M13, M14, M15, M16, M17, M21, M27, M30, M32, M33, M41 and M50. The service covers the city centre, Ardwick, Ancoats, Blackfriars, Brooklands, Castlefield, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Clifton, Davyhulme, Deansgate, Flixton, Greengate, Hulme, Fallowfield, Ladybarn, Longsight, Manchester Science Park, Media City, Moss Side, Northern Quarter, Old Trafford, Piccadilly, Pendlebury, Rusholme, Trafford Park, Sale, Salford Quays, Stetford, Swinton, University, Urmston, Wardley and Whalley Range.

Become a Nettl Nowmaker

Does your business make digital print or posters? Register to find out more about becoming a Nettl Nowmaker,

How to get More Web Enquiries

Top 6 tips to get more web enquiries and grow your client list

People are busy and easily distracted. So how do you encourage visitors to stay a bit longer on your website, find what they need, and get in touch easily? Ultimately, how can you convert your web traffic into web enquiries?

There’s no magic formula, but research has shown these simple steps can help:

  1. Be clear about what you’re offering
  2. Write for the web
  3. Make it easy to get in touch
  4. Build trust and credibility
  5. Be mobile friendly
  6. Keep it up to date

1. Be Clear About What You’re Offering

clear web proposition - sign showing what is on offer on santa monica pier

When someone arrives on your site, you don’t have a lot of time. You need to make it clear who you are, what you offer, and what do I need to do to take action?

Headlines and straplines are incredibly important. That’s because, in very few words, they give you the opportunity to summarise what the company, website or page is all about.

As well as words, you can use images, icons and video to communicate your message effectively.

A great example of this is Dropbox’s homepage. The snippet of text clearly says “Get to all of your files from anywhere, on any device, and share them with anyone.”

dropbox website homepage landing page example

There you go. That’s exactly what they can do for you. In one sentence. And to complete this fabulous landing page, a very simple form. You know exactly what you need to do next. Apply this simple approach to your website and you’re sure to increase web enquiries.

2. Write for the Web

People read differently on the web. They tend to scan and pick up snippets.

Typically, users read less than 30% of the page, and this is mostly the top section and headings. Attention declines dramatically as they move down the page. So it’s a good idea to put the most important information first and get your message across in the headings.

By getting a clear, unified message through to your audience, you stand a much better chance of communicating value and purpose, which will in turn encourage more web enquiries.

In general, it’s best to use simple language. Avoid jargon and complicated terms. Government advice regarding writing for web suggests people prefer to read information in plain English ‘because it allows them to understand the information as quickly as possible’. Writing in CAPITAL LETTERS is more difficult to read. It also looks a bit shouty, so should be avoided anyway.

  • Make the text easier to read by using:
  • Short sentences
  • Sub headings
  • Bullet points
  • Highlighted keywords

3. Make it Easy to Get in Touch

This one sounds obvious but it’s often overlooked. Typically, the 2nd highest visited page, other then the main homepage, is the contact page. People are searching for your business online, just so they can get in touch.

So to boost your web enquiries, give them what they want, nice and early. Consider putting your phone number in the header. Make sure the footer has your phone number and email details.

If you have a business where the location is important, like a hotel, shop or restaurant for instance, then make a big effort to clearly show where you are and how to find you.

A clear CTA (Call To Action) should exist at the bottom of each page. There’s potential for multiple CTA’s throughout the page at different sections. The goal is to make it very clear what the visitor needs to do next. This could be anything as simple as a

  • Telephone number
  • Email Address
  • Contact form
  • Link to social media
  • Button to apply/register/download/read more

Consider adding a live chat feature to encourage engagement. Although we’d only advise this if you have the resources. At least one person needs to be available to monitor and respond to the enquiries. An idle chat can look understaffed and have a detrimental effect.

4. Build Trust and Credibility

Building trust is especially important for businesses that sell online. Customers will want to feel an extra level of reassurance. After all, there’s an element of the unknown about the internet. You want to feel safe handing over your payment details. You want to feel confident nan’s present is going to arrive on time.

But for websites that don’t sell, credibility is still often the primary objective. That’s the case for most brochure websites. Visitors typically arrive for the first time, usually after hearing about the company in some way.

This may have been through personal contact, recommendation, online search or a piece of marketing literature. Visitors will be looking for indications that the company is professional and able to deliver on it’s promises.

People like to do a little digging.

Here are 5 ways to help boost your credibility and increase web enquiries:

Get an SSL Certificate

Having an SSL certificate on your site means the data passed between your site and your visitor is secure. SSL helps you gain trust from potential customers and makes you look more professional. Your local studio can help you buy and setup SSL.

Look the Part

Professional design and well written copy is of paramount importance. Even subliminally, good design will go a long way towards the perception of your brand. By association, if the website is high quality, your product or service is high quality. SEO expert, Rand Fishkin of moz.com believes ‘Design isn’t just important, it’s 50% of the battle’.

Use Testimonials and Accreditations

People are far more likely to believe what someone else has said about your business than what you say yourself. It’s human nature. So combine great design with industry accreditations, and social proof.

Use testimonials as a powerful way to say how great you are. Work them into relevant case studies to demonstrate your capability. This will really cement your credibility and encourage users to take the next step with confidence.

Allow Visitors to ‘Meet the Team’

Our experience tells us that ‘meet the team’ pages are very popular destinations. Typically only falling behind the home page and contact page in terms of visits. It’s easy to see why, people like doing business with people.

Publish a Blog

Another popular hotspot for visitors are blogs or latest news sections. Not only does a fresh, relevant blog keep Google happy, it also helps position your company as experts in your field.

5. Be Mobile Friendly

mobile friendly mobile first web on the go

Or perhaps even ‘Mobile First’. That means designing your site primarily with your phone user in mind. Sure, it has to look great on a desktop too, but with more and more people browsing on their phones these days, considering their needs first would not be a bad thing.

Think about it, if you’re checking the web on the go, you don’t want to struggle to do what you want to do. Encourage mobile web enquiries by making things quick and simple to do on a phone.

People are often ‘quickly’ doing something on their phone, while they’re doing something else. Quickly sign up for this, quickly pay that bill, quickly book a table… If your website doesn’t support ‘quickly’ then you’ll quickly be shown the door.

Things to watch out for are:

  • Text too small to read
  • Buttons too small to click
  • Forms too tricky to navigate
  • Hefty images and downloads

If you have to pinch and zoom to work your way around the site, time to change, speak to one of our Nettl Web Studios.

6. Keep Your Website Up To Date

gone fishing sign for web enquiries

Google likes fresh, new, relevant content, but so do real people! Sure, a lively blog will help your search engine rankings but it will also indicate that you’re an active business on top of it’s game. Frequent updates will encourage users to come back for more, it can help position you as an expert in your field, and it will create the confidence that leads to web enquiries.

We mentioned trust earlier. It’s important to keep on top of updates to maintain credibility. You don’t want your site to look like you’ve gone for lunch and not come back.

If a feature has stopped working, if the footer still says 2015, if the blog section has gathered dust and the social media feed is more #london2012 than #pyeonchang2018, a bit of tender loving care is needed to avoid putting people off.

A well maintained website is also necessary for security. If you need a hand keeping on top of things, just ask us about our concierge service.

> We Can Help

Web traffic is great but website enquiries are better. Use the advice above to convert your browsers into business opportunities.

There’s a lot to think about, but we’re here to help. Call or pop into your local studio for advice on how to make your website work harder.

Nettl Cadets, Class of 2017 Take Their Seats

Nettl Academy swings open the doors for First Nettl Cadets

A warm welcome to our first Nettl Cadets who completed day one at the new Nettl Academy. The training programme, based at our Birmingham Business Store, is an initiative designed to help parachute the Cadets into a design career.

Every year, thousands of would-be designers leave university facing an uphill struggle to secure a job in the creative industry.

With over 10,000 graduates fighting for just 800 jobs, the competition is fierce and talented design hopefuls can find it tough to gain valuable experience.

The Nettl Academy

The Nettl Academy is a way for design graduates to gain some experience, get on-the-job coaching and real-world training. This approach benefits both the graduate and the employer. New starters with relevant experience under their belt can hit the ground running and be productive from day one.

Kate is one of the first Cadets. She studied Graphic Design and Multimedia at the University of Worcester. She said “I started at the Nettl Academy because it was a great opportunity to further my skills as a designer and, hopefully, help me start my career.”

classroom training in great room training room birmingham nettl academy

The Right Fit

One of the challenges our Nettl partners face is that they don’t know what someone’s really like until they hire them. They could put them through training just to discover they’re not the right fit. We hope that the experience a Cadet gets from Nettl Academy will not only make them more employable, but create sustainable, long term positions within existing teams.

We’ve already had interest from other Nettl studios in our network of 100 locations. We’re always looking for talent and our partners are expanding and recruiting.

Built for Success

The first sessions have already been a great success with lots of energy and ideas. The Cadets have shown great potential and we plan to launch a second Academy in Manchester later this year.

If you’re a design student, or you know one, we are looking for applicants for next term.

Click to find our more about the Nettl Academy or enrol.

team photo nettl cadets nettl academy

How you can Expo in an Instant

Exhibiting this year?

Want to know how we got from the photo on the left to the photo on the right in just 15 mins?

fabric exhibition display stans at prolific north live expo manchester

That’s right, everything out of the boot of a car and assembled in just 15 mins. Not a furrowed brow or bead of sweat in sight. OK, just one bead.

Last minute opportunity

We managed to secure a (VERY) last minute slot at Prolific North Live Today. Just last night we confirmed the booking and within 12 hours we’re exhibiting. We can grab opportunities like this because our stands make us flexible.

Your business can benefit from fantastic deals on exhibition spaces if you’re able to move quickly.

With very little planning, we are able to just turn up with our branded booth, table and footstool in the back of a car. Within minutes we’re all set up and ready to go – Instant Expo in a box. Well, a boot.

How fabric can make your life easier:

Our fabric range is:

  • Lightweight
  • Portable
  • Packs away neatly
  • Quick & easy to assemble
  • High impact
  • Seamless
  • Machine washable
  • Safe to use

To get your hands on some next generation fabric displays, contact your local Nettl studio.

Prolific North Live

Prolific North Live is taking place at Event City in Manchester today. The expo features leading exponents of digital, marketing, print, branding, content, advertising, PR, TV and film.

The show is open until 5pm so if you can get there, we recommend it. You’ll need to move quickly though (Like us).

What is an SSL Certificate and Do I Need One?

Is your website secure?

If not, Google Chrome, the world’s most popular browser, is letting visitors know about it.

To the left of the web address there is a little security status icon. If you land on a page that doesn’t have SSL,  you’ll see a little circle with an ‘i’ in it. Click on it to reveal a message that announces:

“Your connection to this site is not secure.”

“You should not enter any sensitive information on this site (for example, passwords or credit cards), because it could be stolen by attackers.”

Doesn’t sound great, does it? It gets worse. Since Chrome’s latest release (Chrome 56) in January, non-secure pages containing password and credit card input fields get marked as ‘Not Secure’ in the URL bar: 

secure notification in chrome https ssl

And if Chrome has major concerns about the privacy of your site’s connection, or perceives it to be “Dangerous’ you’ll get this howler:

not secure warning in chrome

How can I make my site secure in Google Chrome?

Have you ever noticed the extra ’s’ at the beginning of the web address? You know, some url’s start with http://www. and others https://www. Well, that little ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’.

secure green padlock chrome https url with ssl certificate

When you go to a site that uses HTTPS, the website’s server is using an SSL Certificate. You’ll see a little locked padlock and be informed that the site is ‘Secure’. A little like this:

secure https url with ssl certificate

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL is used to securely encrypt communication between you and a website, so it keeps your details secure from hackers. It’s highly recommended for all e-commerce websites or sites that use forms to ask for personal details you don’t want getting into the wrong hands.

Does my Website need an SSL Certificate?

If you have an e-commerce website (online shop) then yes, absolutely. In fact, most payment gateway providers will insist on it so that you can take payments securely.

However, until recently, most other websites were less likely to need one. But in a bid to improve security across the internet, Chrome’s latest update means many more businesses will want SSL. Companies will want to avoid having scary warnings broadcast to people visiting their website. After all, they can appear quite off-putting to the vast majority of web users.

Benefits of SSL:

  • You don’t scare off your visitors.
  • It helps your Google ranking.
  • You look more professional.
  • It helps you gain trust from potential customers.
  • You get more data in your Google Analytics report.
  • The data passed between you and your visitors is secure.

How do I get an SSL Certificate?

We can help you buy and setup an SSL certificate for your website.
Prices start from just £9.99 +VAT per month.
Don’t scare your customers away! Contact your local studio to take action today.

Safer Internet Day: Cyber Safety Tips for Small Businesses

Safer Internet Day is being celebrated globally today in a bid to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology. The focus for the campaign is working together to protect children and families online. However, with cyber crime cases on the rise, online security is something we should all be considering within our businesses.

Here are 5 basic tips to help your business stay on top of its e-safety game:

  1. Protect your computer
    When it comes to protection against viruses, worms and trojans, every business computer should employ anti-virus technology to help prevent attacks. Install well known anti-virus software and make sure you stay on top of the updates. But remember, anti-virus scanners are only able to detect the nasties that are already listed in their database.
  2.  Be wary of email
    Never open or click on attachments in emails that you weren’t expecting to receive. Even if you recognise the sender’s email address, be sure to exercise caution, their email account may have been hacked. Beware ‘Phishing’: Never click on a link from an email requesting login details, no matter how official it looks.
  3.  Enable automatic updates
    Vulnerabilities in computer applications are a bit like open windows to a hacker. Companies are constantly updating their software to deal with new threats and prevent potential risks. It’s therefore very important to keep your version up to date. Switch on automatic update notifications to be kept up to speed and ensure your apps are as safe as possible.
  4.  Use strong passwords
    For a strong password tip, use a good mix of random words and special characters. Make sure it’s at least 8 characters long. Why not pick a memorable phrase, or a line from a song, and choose the first characters from each word. Don’t use the same password across multiple sites.
  5. Use SSL on your website

    Having an SSL Certificate on your website not only looks more professional and increases trust, it also secures data passed between your website and your visitor. Whether it’s a promo code, personal information, passwords or credit card details, an SSL certificate protects the information you send and receive. Learn more about SSL.

    For more information on how to stay safe and prosper online, contact your local Nettl studio.