Bryce Properties High-quality student accommodation close to the University of Plymouth Website design, website hosting, website support, I.T. support, telecoms
The Bryce Properties website is an ‘old-fashioned’ hand-coded site. Written in PHP. We recently added to the site a Booking process which involves data input from the user and the result is then emailed in an email with a spreadsheet attached.
Marjon Students A student rental property website, part of the Bryce Properties portfolio
Technical Support (for business)
Charanna Estates Ltd Technical support for the team in the form of our “I.T. Manager” service, including spreadsheet creation, websites, computer support and networking, PC’s and Mac’s, mobile phones, CCTV and a VOIP telephone system, broadband in over 50 properties. You name it!
Includes the design and implementation of new technical processes to aide this growing business.
Positive Steps Care & Support Limited Technical support for the team, including website, computer networking, PC’s, mobile phones, Office software and a VOIP telephone system.
Premier Construction SW Limited Technical support for the team. Email, website, CRM system, mobile phones, CCTV cameras at their construction sites. Includes the setup and management of their Social Media channels.
Top Glass Glazing Ad-hoc technical support for the business’ Mac computer, office software, website and emails.
Converse Online Email hosting and support
Custom Fluid Power Ad-hoc tech support and website construction (in progress)
Stiltskin Theatre Ad-hoc I.T. support.
Xarri Ltd Technical support (emails, Office 365 etc) to this freehold management business
Welcome Two Providing Microsoft 365 business services (Business email, OneDrive) and technical support.
Various Providing set up and ongoing monitoring of Google and Facebook advertising campaigns.
Microsoft To Do was an unknown to me until my friend Neil who runs another I.T. company over at Total ICT mentioned it, that is.
Like many other professionals, I struggled with keeping tabs on tasks, when I had to do them and so on.
I’ve been using Microsoft To Do successfully (in my opinion!) for several months now and I felt it time to shed a little light on this gem of an application.
Below you’ll find some screenshots and video of how to use the application. But here in this overview, I’ll quickly explain what it can do.
Microsoft To Do can be installed onto most computers, mobile devices and tablets that I know of. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be available on Linux operating systems.
It is, however, available on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices.
Once you have the application installed, sign in with your email account, possibly your personal Hotmail, Live or Outlook account. Or if like me you have an Office 365 for Business subscription, sign in with that one. Often called a ‘Workplace or School’ account by Microsoft.
Microsoft To Do allows you to create Tasks. Well, that’s good Jonathan! Thanks! Yeah, okay. But it does more than that of course. You can add details to each task, set reminders, set due dates, assign someone else (in your organisation, add a file, links, star a task to make it important, flag an email in your email account to bring it into Microsoft To Do ‘Flagged Items’, repeat tasks and more.
Suffice to say, it should satisfy most of us whether we are a worker, a hobbyist, or just want something plain and simple to manage home life.
The fact that you can install Microsoft To Do on your home computer and on your phone and see the same information replicated across those devices is a very useful feature. Out and about? Perhaps with a customer? Or shopping at the supermarket? Check the Microsoft To Do task you created earlier while at home. The information is there.
So, without further ado, here’s how to use the app including a short video. Enjoy.
How to use Microsoft To Do
When you Add to your Day, the task will appear on your home screen, your My Day screen
You can create Groups which contain Lists which contain Tasks. Lists can have their own icon/emoji
Planned tasks show up when a task has a Due date or a Reminder
Here is what the app looks like on my iPhone 7 Plus phone
Since my screenshots contain real information I thought it best to hide some of the lists!
That’s a quick introduction to Microsoft To Do. I like it. I hope you do too.
How does the coronavirus outbreak affect the service that Anything I.T. provides its customers? Note: When I talk about Anything I.T. I’m also talking about its collaborators in the Geek Collective: Comtec ICT and Hello Simon.
What effect? Hopefully very little!
Much of what we do at Anything I.T. and the Geek Collective is proactive work which thankfully can be carried out from the ‘comfort’ of our home offices.
Of course, some services cannot be reasonably carried out at this time without breaking the governments ‘stay at home‘ statement of the 23rd March 2020. Those services might be the installation of a new telephone system, network cabling to an office or fixing a broken computer.
Aside from a few limitations, Anything I.T. can still help your business come out the other side by helping you work proactively on the technical aspects of your business.
Article by: Jonathan Burrows Date: 23/03/2020 Length: 5 minutes
Quote: “When times are bad is when the real entrepreneurs emerge.” – Robert Kiyosaki
Here are a few technical tips and things to do while at home to support your business through coronavirus.
For most businesses, this is at best a trying time, one in which it will be hard to get through unscathed. But what would life for your business be like when you come out the other end?
That’s up to you, of course, however, there are some technical things you can do to put your business in a much better place when we say goodbye to COVID-19. At least from a technical standpoint.
No excuses, it’s time to learn!
What we will cover
SEO for your website
Learn something new
Probably most of you will have some sort of cloud storage in place. This is where you save files to a specific folder on your computer hard drive (such as OneDrive – Personal, and the file is automatically uploaded to the cloud.
If you can only work with files by using Microsoft Office, then consider OneDrive since some plans come with a subscription to Office 365.
Dropbox has a web version of Office built in so that’s handy too. Google Drive has its own version of web programs to create and edit documents and spreadsheets.
The point about this post though is to encourage you to look into cloud storage if you haven’t got it and to take a closer look if you do.
Tip: Check folders on your computer that are outside the cloud storage folders such as your Desktop as these are not synchronised by default. If you lost your computer or the hard drive died then those files will be lost!
Have a look at the way you communicate with your potential customers and existing customers. Here are several things to look into and research yourself:
Move your phone system away from antiquated and immovable hard-wired systems into your office/home (such as a BT line) to cloud-based telecommunications such as Number Club by Hello Comtec. Contact them on their website or us here at Anything I.T.
Facebook Page Messaging
You can have your Facebook Page (you do have a Facebook Page don’t you?) automatically reply with a customised message to anyone that starts a conversation. You can also setup Frequently Asked Questions so visitors can get the answers they need quickly without having to wait for you to respond.
You might want to also integrate Instagram into your Facebook since you can receive and reply to messages all in one place.
Improve your email communications with Office 365 for Business
Office 365 for Business comes with business-class email. A stable and full-featured product. More on that elsewhere.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) for your website
Now that you are stuck at home for a few weeks, why not focus a little on your website?
Check your SEO
Check your SEO for your site by using tools such as Ubersuggest. Once you get familiar with this tool you can then work on your site content to reflect your goals.
Blogging and article writing
Now is the time to create a few articles or blogs of useful information to help your website visitors.
By creating several blogs you can improve the way Google (etc) see your website and therefore improve the visibility of it on search results.
You can normally set each blog with a publish date sometime in the future so you could write about future events coming up and delay their publishing until later.
The important thing here is to write useful information that people will read.
You might also want to try creating video blogs too.
Update your main pages
Take a look at the content on your website pages also. Tweak and improve them. Make sure the content is relevant to what the topic is about. Google likes to see websites updated regularly.
Google My Business
Do you have a Google My Business listing?
Seeing your business in what some people call the ‘map’ section of results can be quite important. Google My Business is yet another way you can improve your online visibility.
If your business has a physical address, then that will help how you appear on the map but the address will need to be verified, usually by way of a postcard sent by Google to the address with a code that needs to be entered into your Google My Business console.
How secure are your computers and the data they have stored on them? Perhaps they should be removed from public view?
Who has access to business files and documents? Did you forget to remove sharing for someone who left the company? Check it now.
Are your anti-virus programs up-to-date? Check them.
What about GDPR? In most small businesses you can check what you have to do to be compliant at the ICO website. There is a Registration self-assessment on the ICO website which will take you through some steps to help you decide if you need to pay a fee or not.
Learn something new
Learn something new. For me, I’m self-teaching myself a new programming language called React. For you? Maybe you have always wanted to get to know more about SEO, or HTML, or how to speed up your computer or to understand your computer network.
Now is the time and there is plenty of information and tutorial websites to help you. Here are just a few:
Lynda.com (Business, Higher Education, Programming, Photography, Business and much more)
Do you find yourself asking the question: “How can I improve the SEO of my website?”. Does Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) seem like a black art? Does it seem like whatever you do, nothing improves?
Perhaps you feel you don’t have time to contribute to the growth of your website?
Naturally, there are hundreds of areas that Google (and other search engines) look at when ranking your website. Many are beyond your control such as the location of the user carrying out the search or the popularity of competitor websites. There are some things you can do that are in your power though.
Read on for three tips to improve the SEO of your website.
1. Provide better content
Search engines know how long a visitor stays on your site. When a visitor stays on your site for more than just a few seconds, it can suggest that the content is interesting enough to potentially provide the information the visitor was looking for.
You are the expert
You are the expert in your field, not me. So I will leave the examples up to you to consider. BUT, what if you wrote content for your site that satisfied the visitor? Perhaps you are answering a question that they need to know the answer too? Maybe it’s a special vegetarian recipe? Perhaps your content explains to the visitor how to make a better golf swing?
Whatever it is, it is down to you to provide the information in a legible way so that your site visitor does not depart quickly going back to Google for alternative answers.
Think about the websites you visit that answer your questions or you simply enjoy reading. What is it about them that makes the site tick?
Content that answers specific questions
When answering specific questions such as pricing details, or the location of your premises, make it clear and obvious. Provide a table of pricing for your pricing structure or a map of your location with the address clearly visible.
There’s nothing worse than a searcher landing on your website to find the address of your premises, not finding it so going back to Google and clicking on another website (say Yell for instance) that does show your address. What do you think Google is thinking about that simple question? It’s not good.
Some sites sell stuff online. So, okay writing stories or articles for these sites might not be the best way forward, but you should ensure that each product text is well written and clear. This will help people stay on the site and encourage people to stay longer and even purchase!
Be the giver
Providing good content in Google’s eyes has a lot to do with what you give the visitor. If you write stuff that is useful then you are one step closer to SEO heaven. Google will also look at links you provide in your copy. you need to create internal links (links to other pages on your site) in your copy, and also links to external sources that might enhance what you have written.
For instance, in SEO circles I often refer to Neil Patel since he is undoubtedly an expert in this field. Some of the videos he produces are spot on so it’s worth checking him out.
2. Consider the structure of your content
Don’t write content that is hard to read. Here’s hoping that this post can be read easily otherwise I’m in trouble!
What I mean by structure is that you should write content that is broken up nicely into paragraphs and sectioned off with appropriately titled headings.
Don’t write a 1000 word article with no paragraphs!
Maybe it needs images or a video to help get your point across. Images can break up the content making it easier on the eyes. Try it!
3. Write more often, and regularly
You think it’s okay to write a new article every six months, do you? Sorry, but if you want to have a non-technical impact on your website, then you need to produce new content or update old content at regular intervals.
Not all websites benefit from writing content such as news stories, articles or tips and tricks. But, if you are not an SEO expert then writing could be the way forward for you. See below about how it has affect our website for a real-life example
How often should I create new content?
The old adage of ‘How long is a piece of string’ comes to mind. It’s whatever suits you and your business. if your content is long and complex to write, then once or twice a month might be enough. If you writer shorter snippets of copy, then several times a week might be the way to go.
What we have done
For us, at Anything I.T. we had several aims one year ago to raise our standing on the search engines. I’m happy to say that we are making excellent progress towards these goals.
The number of visitors has risen by twofold and our rankings for chosen keyword phrases have increased to the point where two are consistently on page 1 of Google results and the others are slowly rising as well.
Below is a search result for “IT Support Plymouth”. It’s lovely to see our site second only to the University of Plymouth (after the adverts and location results of course). One year ago we were on page 10!
How have we done this?
You might notice from the Blog section of our site that we have written around 17 blogs in the last year and a bit. Most of which are fairly in-depth technical articles and tips. FREE stuff we want to share with other small business owners out there.
Not only do we write these blogs but we share them on social media and encourage discussion by asking questions that don’t prompt yes or no answers. Getting into discussion with people and providing free stuff for others has been one of the aims of the blog writing.
Like I said earlier, blogging is not for everyone but I would strongly suggest looking at it.
Quote: “The Geek Collective is an established and credible body of industry professionals who are expert in their specific arena. We are distinct in how we deliver our services and we have come together as professional individuals, to provide our highly trusted services as one collective.” Source: https://geekcollective.co.uk/
Considerations, Types of Backups, Implications, Assessments, Restoration
Note: A PDF version of this post can be found here: Automated Backup Service This document will likely be updated from time to time so information is up-to-date and current.
This post contains questions which are not necessarily answered here but provide an opportunity to create a proper plan to keep company data safe. Liaising with Anything I.T. to do this can save time, money and stress.
Consider the following when planning a backup strategy.
Is an ‘on-premises’ backup sufficient?
Is a manual periodic/random backup taken off-site enough?
Does the nature of the business expect any off-site backups (such as remote backups) to be encrypted?
How much space in Gigabytes will be required (see Assessments below)? Think future-proofing an increase in disk space.
Choice of types of backups (see below Types of Backups).
How often should a backup be taken?
Who oversees/performs the backups? If it is an external company, do you get reports from them regarding current status?
Consider hard copy documents such as signed paperwork. Should these be scanned and saved into a folder that gets backed up?
Is there sensitive information within the files being backed up? Does your company GDPR policy take into account the remote storage of this information?
Are files containing sensitive information stored in a secure Cloud location such as Dropbox, OneDrive for Business or Google Drive?
If a file is corrupted somehow (perhaps by virus or computer malfunction), how do you plan to re-create that file? Or is that not possible?
Are email mailboxes backed up? Typically, Gmail, Office 365 is not backed up by the provider
Types of Backups
Essentially, there are three types of backups:
A Full Backup
This backup when it runs, backups up every file that is
selected in the backup job. Backups can often take a long time since we are
backing up every file regardless of whether that file has changed since the
This backup job backs up every file that has been changed or newly created since the last Incremental backup. This kind of backup is faster to implement but it can take longer to find specific files if lost since they could be anywhere amongst any number of Incremental backups.
A differential backup backs up change or newly created files
since the last full backup.
What is a valuable document, file, email, or resource in
this description? Usually, one that would cause either a little distress at
losing the resource (the effort to re-create it) or significant distress due to
the nature of the resource (a signed PDF contract document, or an accounting
database for instance) and/or a significant effort to recreate the resource.
Often, the information contained in this files is a ‘one-off’ such as that
might be contained in an email or a signed document.
Re-creating the resource
The implication of re-creating a resource can have a
negative impact on a business. Firstly, by way of the time spent to re-create
the resource, and secondly, by way of the negative impact on the individual’s
well-being (“I already created this document, it took me two days”).
In the case of loss of an accounting database, then this loss would be significant and the knock-on effect on the business should not be underestimated.
To come up with a purchase plan for Anything I.T. remote backup, we need to find out how much disk space the client is currently using for valuable documents
How much disk space usage per user will be
Which are the most valuable files/folders (and
where they are located)?
Record which are sensitive files/folders (and
where they are located)
Are email mailboxes being backed up?
Who and How?
How are restores carried out?
Who provides this service?
Is there an additional cost in the case of
Anything I.T. carries out the restoration of individual lost
or corrupted files as part of the monthly cost of the service (see price list
or quote provided).
In the case of a disaster (complete catastrophic loss of data), there is a charge of £75 (as at Feb 2020) per hour to recover. For up-to-date pricing, please refer to our price list.
Atomic Habits is a book I’m currently reading and it just makes perfect sense! James Clear talks about how these small decisions or habits can be amazing catalysts in the long run to boost your business.
So how can you make small atomic decisions? Read on!
Small habitual actions
Small habitual actions producing long-term, sustainable results. Success in I.T. is often about making small decisions and changes, rather than high-impact decisions.
As you read this article consider what actions you take automatically that perhaps haven’t been beneficial to you and your business.
Atomic habits in I.T – Just make stopping and thinking a habit before making a decision.
Keeping the future of your business in mind when making technology decisions will not only help reduce embarrassing future high expenses but provide a fantastic tech platform for growth.
I wrote on my personal blog about the concept of Future Thinking. It needs a little more work but I believe the ideas are extremely pertinent to business too.
Small (yet important) choices
Small choices can make all the difference. Did you decide to put off upgrading your file storage systems, web and email hosting last year? Maybe, you now pay the price by:
Website reliability and speed issues
An inordinate amount of spam in your inbox(es)
Too much time taken up with getting colleagues information which they could have had access to with an upgraded system. This could also include failure to provide important contacts with the right information quickly enough, losing sales or important deals in the process
Loss of documents or other data due to failure to implement a good backup strategy (by the way, syncing services like Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive are not good enough, I’ll explain later)
Concerns of present costs should not outweigh future-benefits
Are you in this for the long-term or not? Do you intend to be in business for more than a year? I should hope so! Then you need to spend some serious mental energies on your IT/web/telecoms systems. Making the right decision doesn’t even need to be expensive!
Before the nitty-gritty details, here are a couple of questions that must be considered:
How do I know I’m making the right decisions?
How do I know that everything is connecting and ‘hanging together’ correctly?
Seek trusted advice and making atomic decisions. That’s the answer
Consider all your business tech requirements under the following headings:
Bespoke (to your business) Systems
"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"
I.T. systems are the things that you use every day such as turning on the computer and loading a program to carry out our duties. It could be sending and receiving emails, writing letters and printing them, entering data into a finance package, and so on. I.T. systems would include the wireless and cabled Internet connections, printers, webcams and microphones for meetings, the list goes on.
Everything about your I.T. systems must work well. The beauty of a good I.T. system is that you hardly know it’s there because it rarely goes wrong. Poor quality systems often throw up little annoying errors which compound over time and disrupt the flow.
In business, flow is so important (I see another blog post in my future) and choosing the right system to enable better flow is one of those crucial atomic choices you can make.
Network cabling from your router to your PC’s and the correct choice of equipment is essential. From wireless access points to routers, PC’s to Macs, door entry systems to CCTV’s. It’s all got to hang together somehow.
"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"
These might include the hosting service for your website, the email platform, and how they all interlink with each other.
There are several very good server platforms to host websites and email applications. Amazon Web Services (AWS) being one such. AWS takes the level of server capabilities to another level. AWS might not be the right one for you though. Word of warning, you will need to have a really good understanding of AWS and server technologies to make this work.
You might be better off choosing a hoster who can offer at the very least unlimited bandwidth, unlimited space, and great support when/if things do go wrong.
Many providers of website design and hosting services offer monthly payment options. Anything I.T. and our partner Hello Simon (award-winning freelancer) offer this as a way for our clients to spread the costs of what would normally be a large outlay.
"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"
Ask your current provider if your website is hosted on the latest (and speedy) hard disk technology, known as SSD. These hard drives on web servers are super fast, much faster than ‘older’ drives.
Should you choose a website made with WordPress or one that is custom-coded (hand-written programming)? Around a third of websites made today are made with WordPress.
WordPress is now extremely popular because it not only provides the business owner with a way of creating and editing pages on their site but it has a wide range of ‘plugins’ providing versatility.
Sometimes that is not enough and you need someone to program a website for you. That’s okay. Handwriting a website provides an opportunity to make it do exactly what you want, BUT can be a lot more expensive than a WordPress created site.
Please also consider how you market your site. Likely, you will need an SEO service like that provider by Hello Simon (SEO). Again, this can be paid for on a monthly basis. In fact, this is highly recommended since SEO is best planned for the long-term.
Gone are the days when a fully-featured telephone system costs the earth. I remember not so long ago it would cost a minimum of £1,000 to get started. That was just for the hardware!
Perhaps thousands of pounds plus huge ongoing support costs just so you could put calls on hold, play them a message so they could choose the right department, or transfer calls to another team member. Then you had the BT line and call expenses on top! You’d need ISDN which was expensive as well.
Nowadays, you can pay as little as £20 per team member with unlimited calls with all the features, and more, of a state-of-the-art telephone system! All this in ‘the cloud’ so no expensive BT lines required.
The system we provide is by a very accomplished provider called Wildix.
"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"
From a distance, this looks daunting and you’d be forgiven if you don’t see how this fits in with the topic of atomic habits.
Sometimes businesses need to run software that is pertinent to their business. There are countless numbers of them!
From accounting systems to property management portals (by the way, Anything I.T. make one called Posidacious), care home software, car sales.
There are sales systems that help you gain leads and sales sometimes called funnels. Once again, monthly payments are the norm here so if you budget well based on your income then you should do well.
You name it, if you have a business, there’s probably some bespoke software that’s been made for you.
Just be aware of the costs such software as they can be crippling. Maybe you could commission a company to make your own! If you do, you might want to consider something that is cloud-based rather than a piece of software that is installed on your PC.
As for the support of such software, in most cases, you will need to pay for support from the provider, rather than outsource support to a company like Comtec ICT or Anything I.T.
"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"
Ask us how bespoke software impacts on your I.T. systems though.
Cloud-based business-class web and I.T. systems
Here are some examples of business-class software and systems that you really should consider, but with relative low-cost impact on your business.
Xero – cloud accounting package, paid monthly, invoices, quotes, reminders, pay directly from the invoice and much more
Canva – Make marketing images for social media, business cards and more. There’s a free version and a paid-for version
Hootsuite – Manage multiple social media accounts from one program
WordPress – A content management system for your website – A WordPress support and management service can be purchased through Anything I.T. – See Price List
"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"
I know I’ve repeated myself about making small decisions throughout this post. It bears repeating though! You don’t need to make big, expensive decisions when considering technology. Just a small one here and there to nudge your business in the right direction.
The benefits will astound you. Once more:
"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"
An introduction to Number Club, what it is and why it can be a ‘life-changer’, or should we say ‘business-changer‘ for small businesses.
High-end Unified Communications, priced for small businesses
What the heck does that mean?
In as concise a sentence as possible, Unified Communications are where you communicate (phone call, conference call, messaging and so on) via any device, whether that be a mobile phone, tablet, desktop PC or ‘proper’ desk phone.
The benefit to small businesses if they can enable this is that regardless of where they are sat (or standing!), they can make and receive calls ‘as their business’, transfer calls to another team member, message team members and so on.
With Number Club, there is a lot more to it than that which we will explain later in this post. For now, rest assured that Number Club is truly a high-end telephone and communications system that small businesses can afford.
Number Club – The gory details
Number Club is an offering by Anything I.T. and its partner Comtec ICT. It’s been designed to provide all the features of a modern PBX system (including Unified Communications) at an affordable price.
Communicate via desk phone; web browser, tablet, mobile phone, all while appearing to come from your business landline
Transfer calls between the team
Place calls on hold
Set day/night times
Customised call routing (press 1 for sales, 2 for support and so on)
Voicemail (including transcripts by email)
Shared contact lists (for your team)
Mobile phone app
Chat messaging within the team
Leave Post-it notes for other team members
Individual ‘Available‘, ‘Away‘, ‘Do not Disturb‘ statuses
PLUS – a direct extension number to our team
A range of desk phones and accessories
£20per (premium licensed) user (some user types are less, please ask), per month on a minimum 12-month contract.
This provides you with a business landline number (actually several if required) in your area (i.e. Plymouth would be 01752 xxxxxx), and full access to the features listed above.
Not only do you get all that, but you also get unlimited UK landline and mobile calls! (it does not include premium-rate numbers) in the £20 per month/per user price.
You do not need a physical desk phone for the system to work. That’s just one of the features that make this a great value system. However, if your business requires desk phones and other equipment, these are available at affordable prices. Please ask us for the latest pricing. Here are some images of products available:
You can even carry out calls via your computer’s web browser. If you spend a lot of time at your desk, then this is a real lifesaver.
Making calls from your business number while sat at your PC is very useful, including messaging colleagues and website visitors (if you have something called WebRTC set up), conference calls and screen sharing.
Not only is useful, it is a professional way of communicating.
Then there is the mobile phone app! From the app you can make and receive calls (again, from and to your landline number).
From the app you can also carry on a chat conversation, check your voicemails and set a status.
By status, I mean you can set yourself to busy of offline which means you will not be disturbed by calls when you don’t want to be. Perhaps you are in a meeting or don’t want to be awakened by unwanted calls at night?
A little but useful feature
if you take on Number Club as your phone service, you get an extension number for each user (let’s say you have extension 3076), you have the ability to dial an extension number for Anything I.T. or Hello Comtec. Right there from your phone! Nice and easy support at your fingertips.
In essence, Number Club is a high quality, full of features cloud based telecoms system which is affordable and scalable as your business grows.
In a moment, I’ll go into some detail about the three ‘geeks’ behind the Geek Collective. For now here is a quick summary of how the Geek Collective can benefit you, the customer.
For the most part, the Geek Collective is an unseen entity (for now) because it’s just three guys in Plymouth (UK) who are techies and whose skills cross a large range of technical areas. Each running their own business.
But how does this benefit you, the customer?
Simply put it means there is a support network behind the business you choose to implement some sort of technical service.
Be it website design through Anything I.T. or Hello Simon, or implementing a modern (and yet cost-efficient) telecoms system through Hello Comtec. Or still more an I.T. Support service through Anything I.T. or Hello Comtec!
Because of the way everything technical works these days, there is a natural crossover between all the supposedly separate areas.
But this is not true in reality.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you want a nice new website made by an award-winning designer (that’s Simon at Hello Simon by the way). That’s great because he will design you a smashing site fit for purpose.
But what if you also said, I need help with the emails on the domain name we own as well. Or perhaps you also mention to Simon that you are moving to a new office and could do with help setting up the technical aspects such as network cabling, broadband and router, new PC’s and so on.
The good news is Simon won’t answer you by saying, “Sorry I can’t help”, he’ll say, I’ve got just the person! And he will pass you on to one of the other two in our little network.
Why would we do this?
First of all, it’s great to be able to offer each of our customers that we can literally do ‘anything I.T.’ related.
But quite frankly it’s really nice to have other geek friends to work with whom we trust.
Trust is an important thing in friendships and also in business. Especially since some of the services we offer could be construed as a competitive crossover into one of the other businesses!
But that doesn’t stop us because we know that the benefits to us and our clients is huge.
More about the three of us and what we offer
You can obviously find out more from our websites and Facebook/LinkedIn pages so here is a summary of each:
Jonathan Burrows of Anything I.T.
Browse this site for more about what we can do and also our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
Anything I.T. was set up by Jonathan Burrows in a rejuvenated format during 2019 having let the business idle along since the mid-noughties!
Jonathan got into computing in the early ’90s when his uncle brought him a PC. He was very excited about this until he opened up the box, only to find that the PC needed putting together first!
In those days without the World-Wide Web, he had to rely on books to help him build his first Windows 3.11 computer. Fun times!
This led to Jonathan eventually changing career path from one of Retail into the Technology sector including time as a Technical Consultant for a FTSE 500 company and later on a Systems Analyst for a large company in the South West of the UK.
Now, Jonathan is excited about the various opportunities coming his way, including the Geek Collective.
Neil’s comprehensive understanding of the technology & communications arena has taken him around the world. With an extensive client portfolio and a commitment to reliability, his knowledge of technology systems is something that he doesn’t need to boast about.
Simon has been creating digital content for well over ten years, alongside his role as a Computer Science Teacher. His portfolio is considerable and works with notable individuals in the music, sport and military arenas.
He is now working hard as a freelance creative and studies the dark arts of search engine optimisation.
So, finally, if you’ve read this far, I commend your efforts! Suffice to say, you are in safe, reliable, technically knowledgeable hands if you choose to use one (or more!) of the Geek Collective to provide technical services for your business/ We are based in Plymouth (UK).
We all love healthy growth in our business. It’s exciting and exhilarating! It can also be a little scary and stressful if you don’t get it right.
Sometimes growth can be quick and sometimes a little slower over a period of time. In either case, if you do not have the processes and framework in place to accommodate the growth, things could go awry.
One area of critical importance is ‘Web/IT/Telecoms’. I’ve grouped them here because if they all hang together nicely then healthy growth can be made so much easier.
Taking an intelligent view and proper planning of your I.T. services can be all the difference to healthy growth and, well, not healthy growth!
How can Anything I.T. help?
Jonathan at Anything I.T. has been a techie since the early 1990’s (showing his age!). With help from collaborators such as Comtec ICT, Anything I.T. can help in all the technical areas of web, IT, telecoms, and indeed other technical services such as door entry systems, CCTV.
We pride ourselves on having an understanding of where our clients are in their cycle of growth. Respecting budgets and areas where they are comfortable.
Aside: Doughnuts can help!
On this point of being comfortable with IT, if a small business is comfortable with a certain aspect of their IT, we are not going to forcibly recommend another way. We will work with our customers in the best way possible. Of course, if the customer is using dated, slow computers not up to the job, then, of course, we will make recommendations.
Some business growth scenarios require the ability to work anywhere. Anything I.T. can set up systems where you can easily access your business emails and files. Also, with telecoms systems such as Wildix (from Comtec ICT), your communications with customers can be seamless and still business-like through web browsers, apps and desktop phones.
When a business goes through change, there are many factors that the business owner needs to plan for. Employees, office setup and costs, informing customers of the change and so much more.
One aspect that is often overlooked is the web and I.T. the business uses. This could be anything from network cabling in the office to website changes. From the headache of changing email accounts and telecoms (and broadband) providers.
Anything I.T. has experience in the area of business change and could be the one factor that makes things go smoothly for you.
Just a few examples of areas we can help when your business goes through change:
Routers and modems
Patch panels and network switches
Setting up secure Wi-fi
Phone systems (Maybe you should consider one that can move office with you with minimum fuss?)
What the heck is an Integrated I.T. Support Service? It’s a unique service offered to businesses in the Plymouth area only by Anything I.T. Read on to find out why it is so different and why it can be so beneficial to your business.
Partnering with you and your business to create a sustainable long-term I.T. framework. One that can grow with your business without damaging your business finances.
We work alongside you to create a solution that not only satisfies your business need to have trouble-free tech but to accommodate where your business is financially speaking.
Why is this service different to other I.T. businesses out there?
I.T., Web & Telecoms support services provided by I.T. professionals are often based on a monthly fee to monitor the existing tech setup in your business.
If problems arise, you might call the I.T. company and get them to fix said problem. Later on, maybe months or even years later, another issue or project arises. Perhaps the upgrade of PC’s to a new operating system?
There is a problem that can surface with this rather distant nature of support. That is that the technology in the business is not growing or organically changing with the business as it in itself grows or changes.
In turn, this can cause unwelcome surprises of unexpected costs and critical downtime to the business.
A lot of I.T./Web/Telecoms support assumes a ‘one-size-fits-all’. Unfortunately, that just won’t cut it in this day and age. Anything I.T. assess the current and potential future needs of its clients and works out a solution from there.
No ‘unwelcome surprises’
With our integrated I.T. service, these unwelcome surprises are negated by the very fact that we work much more closely with your business and therefore can anticipate expected changes or growth. This then leads us to be able to inform you of what you might need to do and spend to enable the changes.
Any increase in expenditure (for instance) happens incrementally rather than in one big shock moment.
Not only does this help the business from a financial standpoint but encourages a stress-free peace of mind environment.
With this service, you are getting an ‘IT Manager’ at a fraction of the cost.
Regular communication is a key factor also. We keep in touch with the client often and encourage regular reach outs and meetings with our clients. Requests such as a new spreadsheet to be designed or an email signature made up are all part of this close relationship we wish to build. All helping towards those goals of efficiency and growth.
How integrated I.T. helps your business grow or change
These days businesses have so many technical demands on them. Websites, email accounts, online advertising, analytics, desktop computers (Windows, Mac, Linux), mobile and tablet devices, telephone systems such as PBX’s, social media pages, broadband and Wi-fi, not to mention cybersecurity, door entry and CCTV systems! The list goes on and on.
There are two approaches that a business can take to these scenarios.
Employ or outsource the work to relevant skilled people (such as website developers; I.T. professionals)
Do most of it (or even all) if you are skilled enough and have time yourself with outsourcing some tasks to others
There are potential issues in both situations which I won’t go into too much detail here except to say that scenario one can be fragmented and involved a lot of unnecessary communicating, and scenario two puts a stupid amount of pressure on the business owner whether they enjoy the work or not.
So, to answer point 1 above, using the Anything I.T. Integrated I.T. Support Services service means one point of contact for ALL your tech-related questions, support and demands, thereby cutting out the communication issues mentioned above.
In answer to point 2 above, let’s take the pressure off you so you can concentrate on building your business. I’m not afraid to say it but often those business owners who have some tech knowledge may fiddle and do okay but when push comes to shove may find their skills lacking.
Using this unique service also provides you with a trusted partner in your business to help it grow and change. An I.T. provider which works with you on a daily/weekly/monthly basis to ensure things go smoothly.
Here’s a list (by no means a definitive one!) of products and services we can help you with:
Website Design and Hosting
Need a website? Need another website? Need help with keeping your site(s) up-to-date and compliant? Just one area that is included in our integrated I.T. Support service. More details on what we do web wise here.
Cloud Email and Storage
Reliable and secure email and file storage is now a top priority for businesses everywhere. From 50Gb mailboxes to SharePoint server helping you collaborate with colleagues. Check our recent blog post on the subject.
Having available to the team four clever and enthusiastic guys (well, two youngsters and two, err experienced chaps), Anything I.T. offers IT skills built up since 1994! Need more information on our I.T. Support service?
Setup, advice, advertising. You name it, we do it. Social Media
By collaborating with our partner Comtec ICT, Anything I.T. can now truly provide a fully integrated I.T. service for its clients. Now (incredibly), our clients have a direct extension number to us from their desk phones, mobiles (via the app) and browser! This includes useful chat, conferencing, video calling and screen sharing features
More information can be found on the Hello Comtec website or our Telecoms page here.
How much does it cost?
Without sounding like a politician, it varies greatly from customer to customer!
All we would suggest is get in touch for a pressure-free chat.
Who is it for?
Certainly for business in the local area of Plymouth and further afield if the circumstances suit both our business and our clients’.
It is also likely that businesses with several employees and/or a decent turnover would benefit most.
Office 365 is becoming Microsoft 365. The blog post below describes products as they were named before 9th April 2020.
The full list of new names of the products are as follows:
Office 365 Business Essentials is now Microsoft 365 Business Basic Office 365 Business Premium (this post) is now Microsoft 365 Business Standard Microsoft 365 Business is now Microsoft 365 Business Premium Office 365 Business is now Microsoft 365 Apps for business Office 365 ProPlus is now Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise
OFFICE 365 FOR BUSINESS PREMIUM
Anything I.T. offers a superb range of products and services to help small businesses. Products such as OFFICE 365 FOR BUSINESS PREMIUM can provide efficiency and a quick way to access certain information.
Why would that be important?
Because having trouble-free/speedy access to information and the ability to get the right information to your customers is essential to run an efficient business.
Used well, the business can profitably grow and the products Anything I.T. offers can grow with you too. In other words, you won’t have to change the product or services when you grow from 4 employees to 10. Or from 10 to 50.
OFFICE 365 FOR BUSINESS PREMIUM is one such product (or service if you like) that can grow with your business.
Your mailbox is hosted on Microsoft’s Exchange servers, one of the best business-class email hosting platforms around. Typically, if you purchased your own domain name and set up an email address, it likely will be a simple mailbox accessed by a protocol called POP3
You get 50GB of storage in your mailbox! That’s huge! Some mailboxes today can be as small as 100Mb (that’s 500 times smaller!). If you went for a Gmail mailbox, you might get 15Gb of space which is pretty good.
The default maximum size for sending and receiving emails is around 35Mb which is a lot larger than your typical mailbox which might be 10Mb or sometimes 20Mb per email. This 35Mb allows you to send larger attachments between co-workers or others you work with. And why not? In this day and age of superfast broadband, sending a 30Mb design document to your co-worker to look over should not be an issue.
With OFFICE 365 FOR BUSINESS PREMIUM, you also benefit from the 1TB ONE DRIVE.
This is plenty enough space for most business users to store documents and files in the Cloud.
With One Drive installed on your PC, mobile and via a web browser, you can access your files from literally almost anywhere.
All the main desktop office software you need including: Microsoft:- Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Publisher, Access
Via a web browser: Web versions of Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint
One license covers 5 phones, 5 tablets, 5 PCs (or Macs) per user. Plenty enough devices capable of accessing your information.
Quote from the Microsoft SharePoint site:
“Organizations use SharePoint to create websites. You can use it as a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from any device.”
Collaborate, chat and communicate about documents and projects your Team is working on.
Be sure to check out the resources below for more information.
We have introduced a price list in PDF format that our customers (and indeed prospective customers) can download and view at their leisure.
The list shows most of our popular products and services, if you do not see something then it does not mean we do not provide that service or product. Just ask for more information on what you require.
The list will likely be updated on a regular basis.
A few days ago we launched the new Bryce Properties website! The customer is super happy and that is very pleasing for us.
We’ve been working with Bryce Properties for a number of years. In fact, the first version of their website was back in 2008! How time flies!
Who/What is Bryce Properties?
Bryce Properties is a local (to Plymouth – UK) business that rents the highest quality accommodation to students looking for rooms in Plymouth. They have a range of property sizes from one-bedroom flats to ten-bedroom houses.
Eleven years – The evolution of a website.
Have a look at the difference eleven years makes!
Sadly, we don’t have any screenshots of this iteration of the site. Probably a good thing!
Wow, 2013 was rudimentary by comparison to the 2019 version! Very linear and not a lot going on. I’m not sure about the lurid pink now!
Some improvements over 2013 we agree, but still not great compared to today’s version.
In 2018, we made serious improvements to the site. Much more mobile-friendly than previous versions and the introduction of the CSS framework Bootstrap 4 to provide a base to work on.
(Expands nicely as the user stretches and decreases the width of the browser window)
A top navigation bar providing quick links to different sized properties stays visible regardless of where the visitor is on the page or indeed on the whole site
Completely secure with SSL encryption
Virtual tours of 15 properties included
When enquiring about a specific property, an email is sent to the office team with the property details enquired-for as well as the visitor’s name and contact details. Making it easy for the Bryce team to communicate back to the prospective tenant
Each property has a tabbed interface providing different information in an easy to navigate way.
For those who really want to know!
Scripting (the programming side of things) – PHP
The scripting language used is PHP. A long-time used scripting language for web developers around the world. This is what enables some of the useful features such as the customised emails that come through to the office.
Bootstrap 4 is a CSS framework. Basically, it comes with a pre-made look-and-feel, providing items such as buttons and tabs. Bootstrap certainly provides a very handy starting point. However, there is a lot of coding necessary none-the-less! This site contains 5253 files!
We hope you like the site. It’s just one type of site we work on and in this case, providing regular on-going support and changes.
Other types of websites include WordPress sites where the customer is able to manage the content of their site once it is live, and Shopify, a fully-functional online shop site.
Contact us for more information or if you would be interested in us helping you on your website project.
We all like free stuff don’t we? Especially if it proves useful! Here on this page, I’m offering you free of charge a useful spreadsheet template I created for recording hours worked.
“Recording Hours Worked.xlsx”
It’s a spreadsheet I’m using myself so I’m getting first-hand experience of using the file. In that way, I hope you also find it beneficial.
No strings attached!
Though coffee and a doughnut would be nice!
If you like it, let me know. If you share it with others, please let them know where the spreadsheet came from!
It’s probably most useful for those self-employed people out there who need a simple way of recording hours worked. It’s intended for recording hours worked for their clients, but it can be used for other business scenarios such as projects. If you use it in larger scenarios, I’d be very interested to find out how. Would you let me know?
All I ask is that you sign up to the Anything I.T. mailing list or Like our Facebook Page. We don’t spam with numerous emails. In fact, you will likely only get between 1-2 a month! I’m not even going to force you to provide an email address. The file is just there, at the bottom of the page, ready to use.
To make this work, you may need a basic understanding of Excel documents. if you break your copy, you can ask me for help, but please don’t blame me!
Explaining the Document
Below are a couple of screenshots of the SUMMARY sheet of the spreadsheet (or workbook whichever you like to call it). You will notice there are a number of sheets, all named the months of the year, as well as the SUMMARY sheet.
On this, the SUMMARY sheet, we enter the client/project on the left-hand side. These names are automatically populated to the other individual sheets. This is important as it ensures no typing mistakes are made by the user (and thereby providing accurate data).
The SUMMARY sheet provides not only a, ermmmm, summary, of hours worked each month and for each client/project, but money made (if you use this as the basis for your invoicing).
The financial aspect is optional and for me at least, it is primarily used for giving me an idea of where I am with certain clients.
You will also note the columns which I hope are self-explanatory:
The individual months (each with Hours and £)
On the far right-hand side, you will see a list of rates. Enter your own here. These rates are used on the individual month sheets (more on this below).
The ‘Month’ sheets – Entering in your hours worked
On each ‘month’ sheet, you should see on the left, the area where you need to enter four pieces of data:
Date (the date of course!)
For Whom/What (See below for an explanation)
Description (Whatever you want in here to describe the work carried out)
Hours (The number of hours obviously. Can work in parts of hours too, such as ‘1.5’.
Your client name or project name. Clicking into this cell reveals a dropdown arrow which picks up the client names/project names you entered in on the SUMMARY sheet. Adding a client name or project name on the SUMMARY sheet automatically adds it to the dropdown options.
This cell is configured so that you must enter in (or select from the dropdown) an exact match from the list. Trying to type in ABC1234lhalhdlahdl (if it doesn’t exist on your SUMMARY sheet) will produce an error.
Type in a description and enter how many hours work, or indeed a decimal of an hour (0.1 would be 6 minutes, 0.25 would be quarter of an hour, 0.33 would be 20 minutes, 0.5 half an hour, and so on).
The ‘Month’ sheets – Client/Project auto-summarisation
On the right-hand side, you will notice the client names (or your project names) automatically populated.
Important: Do not try to type into these cells. Only the rate column of cells is editable (but you will still need to enter valid data).
Additionally, the hours worked for each client/project is auto-calculated based on the data on the left-hand side so do not try to edit this directly.
Option: You can also choose a rate for this client/project. If you do, then the amount in currency is automatically calculated. It could be useful for you if you need to generate invoices based on time worked.
The rate is also chosen via a dropdown menu. The rates are configured on the SUMMARY sheet to the far right-hand side.
Like the other dropdown, you must select a valid option otherwise it will display an error.
In the blank version below, some cells are protected. This is because we don’t want anyone accidentally overwriting the formulas within the cells by mistake and wondering why it’s not working!
If you feel competent enough, you can unlock the cells via unlocking the spreadsheet by clicking the ‘Review‘ tab on the Ribbon and clicking Unprotect Sheet and entering the password doughnut5 (hint hint).
Potential Future Enhancements
I’m considering adding the following columns on the ‘month’ sheets next to the amount (£) column:
Paid (Amount £) – Colours Red (Unpaid), Orange (Partially paid), Green (Fully paid)
Colours of cells would change depending on invoice status, Sent, and Paid column.
Summarisation and Downloads
So, I hope you find this spreadsheet useful. I certainly do!
There’s a blanked out version to download below as well as one containing some sample data.
Ever thought it would be useful to have two Chrome browser windows running, one for your personal websites (such as social media, personal email and news), the other for your business websites (business email, productivity and customer relations management)?
Or perhaps you want to login to the same website with different usernames or email addresses but you find that this doesn’t work when you have the basic set up of Chrome.
For me personally, I have about a dozen iterations as it were of Chrome. In my work as an IT support guy who provides Office…er Microsoft 365 services to customers, I often need to log in to the admin control panel and it’s just great to be able to click a profile and boom, I’m in.
One such customer is Bryce Properties who provide student accommodation in Plymouth. They have a number of people in their team and often times I will need to log in to any number of different websites to diagnose issues.
Having the ability to have multiple Chrome browsers has been a god-send.
Microsoft Edge Browser
Now guess what!? Microsoft Edge is now built on the Chromium core code and you can create multiple profiles for Edge too! I’ll update this page with additional information about how to do this in Edge but it’s essentially the same as with Chrome. So read on!
Updated: October 2020
Each with its own colour theme?
Of course, you can do that with the default Chrome experience by opening two Chrome windows, but what if you wanted to change the colour theme for each so that they are easily distinguishable from each other?
If you head over to the Chrome web store > Themes, you can certainly change the colour of the window, and in fact you can change the look completely with a range of image-based themes.
The only snag is that every Chrome window will change, not just the current one.
So how do you change things so that each Chrome window has it’s own theme or colours?
What you need to do is set up another ‘User’ of the Chrome browser. Google Chrome allows you to add users of its browser so more than one person can use the browser and have their own bookmarks, history, and yes, themes.
At the top right of the browser window will be a small round user icon. If you are signed in to the Google network with your email address, then you will likely see your profile image. Here’s my profile the icon with my mugshot below.
Clicking this will bring up a similar menu to this one:
Click on the Manage People icon to show this new window:
From here you can Add Person:
Choose a name for this Profile and an avatar/icon, and click Add.
Optional: The setup of the new user will ask if you want to sign in to Google Chrome with another user. Perhaps you have a personal email account and a business one?
Each account can then be synchronised (bookmarks, history, colour theme) to other computers you use! Just sign in (or create an account) for the additional user and you are done!
That’s it! Now you can click again on the top right profile icon:
In the example below, I’m signed in with my business email (firstname.lastname@example.org), and there is an option in the menu to open a new browser window with my personal user ‘Jabbs’.
To change colours. You can visit the Chrome web store in each window to choose a theme for each ‘user’.
That’s how you can do this:
Two Chrome windows, two Usernames and Passwords
Also, as suggested earlier, you can log in to the same website with different sign-in credentials. Perhaps you have two email addresses at outlook.com? Or you have two accounts on a social media site? The new ‘user’ can log in with the second set of credentials by clicking on the Profile icon:
Click on the profile icon. In this case a little basket ball. From the list that pops up, choose the other profile you want to use.
You can of course, choose to synchronise your history and settings across devices.
Have more than one computer? A PC and a laptop for instance? Then choose to synchronise by signing in with a Google account. Simple create a new profile on the second device and sign in with that same Google account on the other device!
Google Analytics is a system created by Google to help website owners with statistical information about their website.
Do you remember the old website hit counters? They used to be pretty much the only way you could tell how popular your website was!
Google devised a system where a large amount of useful statistical data could be gathered about your website and it’s visitors. From the total number of visitors during a given period to the kind of device the user was visiting your website on. Google Analytics also shows you information about where the visitor is viewing your website from and how long they stayed on your site.
How it works
One basic requirement is for some Google code to be inserted into your website. If you have access to the website HTML files, then some code like this would need to be placed just before the </head> tag:
The code you need to insert is provided by Google in your Analytics Dashboard when you set up your site.
If your site is built with WordPress, then there are plugins you can install that will do this for you. You would need to install the plugin and the plugin would ask you to connect to Google Analytics so that it can create the necessary code for you.
Essentially, every time a user visits your website, the code above is run and Google receives the information about the visit. This information is then shown in your Dashboard.
Explanation of the most useful features
After navigating to your website dashboard within Google Analytics, you should see information similar to the following. This is the Overview of your site and usually displays the main information from the last seven days.
In the screenshot above, you can see four main pieces of data:
Users This is the number of unique users who have visited the website. This is possible one of the best pieces of information since it tells you how many actual people have visited your website.
Sessions Sessions are the total number of times the site has been visited. Sessions could be made by Users visiting the site several times. In the example above, you can see there are more sessions than users. This suggests that some users have visited the site more than once during the period specified.
Bounce Rate Bounce rate is where a visitor lands on your site but then departs without clicking through to other pages. In other words, they see one page then either go back (perhaps to search results) or close the browser, ending the sessions
Session Duration Session duration tells you how long in hours:minutes:seconds the visitor stayed on the site.
One of the main areas I look at is Audience. Or Audience Overview. This shows you a graphical image of the time period selected. The time period can be changed in the top right of the page. You can also compare to previous years by selecting ‘Compare to:‘ in the date range selector.
Here, we have some additional information. You may notice ‘New Users‘ and ‘Pageviews‘.
New Users New users are visitors to the site that have not visited previously. If a visitor has been to your site in the past, then they would simply be a ‘User’.
Pageviews This is the number of pages that your site visitors have seen. For instance, every time someone clicks on your About Us page, that is recorded as a Pageview.
Analysing the data presented
How it works for your business is of utmost importance to using Google Analytics.
If you can look at the data and make useful, informed decisions about your website, then Google Analytics has done its job. Try and look at the data in such a way that you can gain meaningful information to take your business forward.
So, it’s really up to you how it can work for your business. In the examples and screenshots below, I suggest some areas that we could look into to make the website shown a better one.
Example 1: Browser In the screenshot below we can see a list of browsers that people have used to visit the website. Top of the list is Google Chrome, Safari, Edge, and so on.
From a business perspective, there are two or three interesting pieces of data:
Session duration difference between Chrome and Safari. 8 minutes! Why is that? We need to ask questions about this. It could be that Safari in this list refers to the mobile version of Safari as well as the Desktop version. Perhaps mobile users don’t spend so much time on the site?
The Internet Explorer Bounce Rate. Internet Explorer is the old browser by Microsoft and is no longer supported. But why would users of this browser be more likely to leave the site after visiting one page? Granted, there were only five users. Perhaps you could make a business decision to display a message on your site to Internet Explorer users saying that the website works best on Chrome/Edge/Safari/Firefox?
Three users visited the site using the built-in browser in their Samsung device (Samsung Internet), and another used Amazon Silk (Kindle/Fire browser)!
Example 2: Mobile vs Desktop In this screenshot, you can see something incredible. Visitors to the site are doing so on a mobile device MORE than on a desktop computer!
What does this tell you and your business? Well, the owner of this site certainly needs to ensure that the site works well when viewed on a mobile device! It needs to look good and load fast!
Acquisition I’ll finish this short explanation by talking about Acquisition. This is data showing where your visitors came from to get to your site. For instance, this is extremely useful if you want to analyse keywords that users type in on Google Search
This data also shows whether the user types the address of your website in manually, or perhaps have clicked a link on another website.
So for this website, the majority of users appear to be ‘Direct’ visitors. This is where the user has either typed the address of the website into the URL bar in the browser or has perhaps saved the website to their favourites.
This data is not entirely surprising for this site (Posidacious) since it is a Maintenance Management System for letting agents and landlords. Therefore, I should imagine a lot of the tenants will have saved the page somewhere, as would the staff of the agencies and their contractors.
A small percentage find the site by searching or via social media.
A short video by Anything I.T.
Here, we show you around some of the features in a short video
Neil Patel is probably my favourite online marketer. He dishes out free advice almost daily and writes comprehensive helpful blogs on various SEO related topics.
So the Anything I.T. website has just been launched, but the website is not even listed in the Google Index (more on that another time)!
This means that even searching on Google for “Anything I.T. Plymouth” doesn’t reveal our site!
Clicking through the search results does not find our site at all!
So I’ve made a short video to accompany this blog post (watch below) and our plan is to make certain changes and take actions on the site in the hope that over the next few weeks (even months perhaps) we can show you some results of our search engine optimisation on our own website!
Or if you are, get in touch and you’ll find a helping hand with Anything I.T.
Here’s a short video I made earlier at the Brighter Business Brunch organised by the Six O’Clock Club (thank you Mike Turner)
Something we at Anything I.T. can help with is to ease away a strange fear that many people have of their computers, their website, their Wi-Fi, and their use of computer applications (such as Excel)!
There really is nothing to fear! Sometimes all you need is a helping hand from a someone who knows…
Have you experienced this ‘being scared’? Please let us know below! Don’t be scared!
That’s where we come in!
We’ve just made live a new Anything I.T. website which includes a way of contacting us, useful information about some of the services we offer, and a blog with a growing number of helpful posts which we think will become a very useful free resource.
Get in touch with me direct if you like or through the Anything I.T. Facebook Page, or website (details below).
It is certainly possible for the “average” store owner to set up their own Shopify store online. Of course, it being an E-commerce website it would require the aspect to sell relevant products from your business.
With this, comes a lot of time adding products, product codes, photos, prices, discounts and many more aspects to adding products, which some store owners unfortunately might not have time for.
The first step would be to acquire a Domain Name suitable for your business brand. There are also ways to use existing Domain Names or current live websites to enable the domain as “The New Website” which will, of course, be an E-commerce website and potentially be completely different to the website you already have.
After the Domain Name purchase, the following steps are; Adding the Domain Name to Shopify, SSL Certificate, Shop Configuration, Website Configuration, and then working with Sales Channels. An in-depth guide on all of these will be below.
However, there are also many other potential hurdles you will need to overcome to do all this. All these (below items) can take time but with a certain amount of technical know-how (which can be learned) can provide to be slightly easier to get your site to the finishing post.
Firstly, in my opinion, you will require the “Domain Name” but everything is equally important. Most business owners will already have one. With getting a Domain Name first, it will give you the ability to have a small or larger understanding of the product or website you will ultimately develop.
Example 1:“Shop for Life” which would be perfect for an e-commerce built website to be using Shopify for this. (to provide the ability to sell)
Example 2:“BoatRentalSouthWest.co.uk” could potentially have a “seaside theme” and to give the website the ability to advertise “boats to rent”
With this, you can get a good understanding of the website and what steps you require to create a professional e-commerce website.
The preferred method of installing Shopify into your website is to purchase a new domain name (low cost). You can do this through any domain re-seller such as GoDaddy, Fasthosts, Google Domains. In fact Google Domains has an option to set up your store via the Google Domains Dashboard: with Shopify.
2. Set up the technical aspects of the domain (DNS settings) and then configuration inside Shopify, to ensure the domain name actually works and everything is in place, an advisory test of the live website would be recommended.
DNS (Domain Name Service) is normally configured automatically for you during the setting up of the Shopify store. Please keep in mind that on some occasions these settings might need to be configured manually.
The Domain Name Service is a hierarchical and decentralized naming system for computers, services, or other resources connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities. There are many reasons you might want to use a third-party DNS server, from parental controls and security features to speed and reliability improvements. You can change the DNS server for your entire home network on your router, or set it individually on a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android device, Chromebook, or many other devices. If you change the DNS server on your router, every other device on your network will use it.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. SSL is an industry standard and is used by millions of websites in the protection of their online transactions with their customers.
There are several ways to set up SSL (the little padlock in the browser address bar) which is a requirement for Shopify to work. In most cases, this is an option within the Shopify settings area that needs to be configured. “the little padlock” in generic terms means the connection to this website is secure, which for obvious reasons is a positive thing.
You can also:
Host with a dedicated IP address
Buy a certificate
Activate the certificate
Install the certificate
Update your site to use HTTPS
Or: install an external ‘recommended program’ that can help with instructions on and how to set up SSL.
Understand that https doesn’t mean information on your server is secure, it only protects the TRANSFER of data from your visitor’s computer to yours and the other way too. Once the sensitive data is on your server it’s up to you to keep that data safe (encrypt in the database, etc).
Look for a lock on the browser URL, not the page. After you’ve installed SSL you might want to try adding a lock icon on your pages just to let them know it’s secure if they don’t look in the URL bar.
Adding products (including unique product codes & photo’s) to the correct section of the website.
Files upload like SSL Certificate, additional products, business logo and/or sponsors or anything else that you might desire when setting up Shopify.
Setting up the bank account your money is paid into, for verifying your legal status of the company and it’s address, to ensure Google is happy. Also to avoid complaints or confusion with the wrong business addresses and/or bank accounts. Maintaining customer satisfaction and business professionalism.
Also to set up are: Checkout; Notifications; Billing; Shipping setup, Google Analytics, and much more.
While there are literally thousands of themes to choose from, some free and some paid-for, there will inevitably be some element of changing the source code of the site. This requires some knowledge of HTML, CSS and scripting.
Sales Channels such as the Facebook and Facebook Messenger Channels are marvellous avenues to promote your products within your Facebook Page and your Facebook Page’s Message system.
All this again needs configuration in the Shopify and Facebook settings.
What to do?
We are more than happy to help on an ad-hoc basis or take the project completely into our hands to provide an end result that you can then hit the ground running with.
Have a look at the E-Commerce page on our website and then Contact us for more information and pricing.
We at Anything I.T. are certainly driven to succeed. We work hard to build business that can sustain a high level of client service and expertise.
Our expertise covers a wide range of technical knowledge and at a high level too.
But skills alone don’t cut it. The driving force behind building our business is:
“If we can help our clients grow, become more professional, be more efficient, and succeed; then we in turn will succeed.”
Jonathan first got involved in the technical side of computing when his Uncle brought him a new PC back in 1994!
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately!), the PC was in pieces so Jonathan and his Uncle spent hours and hours putting it together, installing Windows 3.11 and troubleshooting problems (no Google in those days!).
Now, Jonathan is super keen on the ethos of working creatively (not competitively) with clients, and like-minded associates.
With a fantastic First in Bsc Computing, Adam is a talented developer with web and data skills to die for.
Since finishing his degree, Adam has been eager to start new projects, learn new skills, and take his career one step further.
What does ‘Full Stack Developer’ mean to you our client? In a nutshell it means someone who can work on ALL things web. From the behind the scenes coding to the HTML that makes the actual visible page. Therefore, you can have faith that Anything I.T. area capable of working on your project, whatever your requirements.
Adam also loves football and coffee!
Alex joins the team in 2019 and specialises in customer support, organisation, and setting up e-commerce online stores.
Alex has a history in retail and has recently set up his own gaming stream on Twitch.tv.
He brings an energy into the team that is freshening and full of belief that we can help our customers succeed.
It’s fair to say he picks up the pieces that others may miss.
Workflowy is a productivity app (web and for phones). I love Workflowy and use it heavily when I want to ‘get things down “on paper”‘.
Workflowy is different to other productivity apps in that it’s all about Lists.
You create a List, then drill into the List to create sub-lists and so on.
What I like about it is the fact that you can focus on one specific list (or sub-list). You don’t have your screen cluttered with dozens of other related or semi-related lists or projects.
If you want to spend time thinking about what you need to do for your summer holiday, you can create a list (perhaps under a main list you created called ‘Personal’?) and focus just on that list. Maybe you will create sub-lists under ‘Summer Holiday’ of ‘Travel’, ‘Costs’, ‘Clothing’, and so on.
Perhaps you are an Under 19’s football coach? Well, why not create a list under ‘Personal’ called ‘Sports’. And inside that list one called ‘Under 19’s Team’. You could then focus on what needs to be done for that team by creating sub-lists for ‘Players’, ‘Matches’, ‘Practice’. You get the idea
Check out the video to see how it works!
Please let us know by email, Facebook Messenger or in the Comments any questions you might have.
If your website is using WordPress, then first of all, it’s a great choice. It offers a huge amount of versatility and plugins so you can make WordPress do pretty much anything.
What if you want to adjust one of those mythical dark secrets to help your search engine optimisation?
Here’s a couple of places that are easy to get to that can help.
The <title> tag
The<title> tag is very important in that this is what generally shows up in search results on Google:
Who said you didn’t have control of Google? The highlighted lines come from the <title> tag of those websites. So, first point, imagine being able to use an enticing line to encourage searches to visit YOUR site?
Obviously, you need to remember to be informative about what your site provides but you can twist the words around and test results.
For instance, if you were one of the above sites you could change the <title> tag to be:
Six months FREE online invoicing from the best in the industry
Anyway, I digress since the point of this article was to show you HOW to change this in WordPress!
First, sign in to your WordPress site and click on Settings on the left hand side at the bottom.
You will see this screen:
The first part of the <title> tag is taken from the ‘Site Title’ section and the rest of the <title> tag is taken from the ‘Tagline’.
Why not change yours now?
Questions? Email us or send us a Facebook message!
Getting your website to rank (on the likes of Google or Bing) as highly as possible for certain keywords or phrases is called Search Engine Optimisation.
It is often seen as a dark skill, and extremely difficult to get good ranking. To be fair, for the average website of a small business, it is very difficult!
What this blog entry hopes to help with is to at least give you some guidance on how you can make small changes to best optimise your website.
Onsite SEO is stuff you can do to your web pages such as the actual text you write (called ‘content’) and the meta tags of the page.
You may have heard of ‘Content is king‘ and to a large extent it is! Google (we’ll use Google as our search engine of choice for now) has some very clever algorithms which can see whether a website/web page is useful to the potential site visitor.
So that’s the first thing you need to know. Make sure your website content is relevant to the potential site visitor. If you are a garage that specialises in fixing classic cars, then make sure the pages on your site reflect this.
Don’t over populate the site with what you think are the right keywords. Don’t flood your site with ‘classic car repairs’.
Here’s one example that shows how Google knows how good your site is:
Let’s say a searcher searches for’ classic car repairs’ and clicks into your site. The searcher has a quick look at your home page but doesn’t get inspired and doesn’t immediately see the information he/she is expecting. The searcher then hits the back button and continues their search for another website.
What do you think Google is going to think about your site now? Would Google be wrong to assume that perhaps your site isn’t a good site to show in the search results? Especially since searchers seem to be going back to search results pretty quickly to look for another site?
So lesson one would be to make sure your site is decent to look at, works well on mobile devices and also has the content once would expect when they search for ‘classic car repairs’.
Just a quick one on meta tags. They are still relevant! The <title> tag and <description> tag are both used to show searchers in the search results. Like this:
In the image above, you can see three organic results (I’m referring to the ones at the bottom of the image). AM-Restorations; Devon Classic Cars – Home and Classic Car Resprays, Bodywork and Restoration | car resprays. body …
Let’s take the bottom result as an example. In the HTML code of the site there is the following:
<title>Ian Webb Specialist Cars | Classic Car Specialists in Liskeard, Cornwall</title>
Editing this code to reflect your site is important. If you use a system such as WordPress, you can change this in settings. Other sites will have similar options to change the title of your page. The same goes for the description tag.
If you have a custom designed site, then you will either have to edit this yourself or get your web designer to do it for you.
That’s enough to be going on with on Onsite SEO. Below is a short description on Offsite SEO.
Offsite SEO as the term suggests is SEO relating to your site that happens away from your website. This includes getting links from other sites to yours, setting up a Google account with a business address, phone number, opening hours and so on.
Offsite SEO might also include details about your business on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter.
This side of SEO is huge and deserves another blog post (or three!) on another day. For now, concentrate on your website (Onsite SEO) and how it looks to the visitor.
Does your site retain the visitor for more than a few seconds? Can they find useful information about your services and related topics?
Feel free to comment on this post on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn if you have any questions.
Yes, using Excel (other brands of spreadsheet software are available) can look a little scary. But don’t need to be!
Excel is a powerful piece of software that could potentially save you a lot of time, present information in useful ways, and highlight areas of your business that could prove extremely helpful.
You can make a spreadsheet to do very simple things, such as automatically adding up a list of invoice amounts for a given month, or keeping a running total of stock (numbers of products AND the total amount at cost or retail).
Attached at the bottom of this post is an Excel file with two tabs. One tab is a simple list of invoice numbers with dates and amounts. The other is a slightly more complicated stock system with values.
On the INVOICE tab I have also used ‘Conditional Formatting’. Conditional Formatting is a very useful feature. In the Conditional Formatting on the INVOICE tab, I’m colouring amounts of equal to or less than £25 with a pink background and red text. This is just to show you that perhaps there is a problem (i.e. should you have invoice amounts of £25 or less? Is there a mistake?).
The STOCK tab is perhaps a little more complicated but hopefully you get the idea?
I should say that there are systems out there that can do all this for you as well. Check out the likes of Quickbooks, Xero, Zoho, and many more! Of course, you may have to pay for these especially since they have a number of features (some of which you might now need!).
So, simple spreadsheets may help.
Additionally, spreadsheets don’t have to look ugly! Check out the attached to see what I mean.
Apologies if the attached isn’t an accurate representation of how these things work. It’s just meant to illustrate how spreadsheets can look and provide simple solutions.
Do you use Excel? Do you use online solutions like Quickbooks, Zoho? Let me know in the comments 🙂
Anything I.T. was ‘founded’ in 2003 by Jonathan Burrows. At the time we fixed computers and built websites for customers in the Plymouth area. It was okay but ultimately things change and so we moved on to other pastures (not necessarily greener!).
Jonathan continued Anything I.T. part-time while working full-time. This gave him the opportunity to keep up-to-date with various technologies. During that time, he grew his knowledge to encompass Apple Mac, Linux, PHP web development and a lot more.
So where is Anything I.T. now?
At the risk of sounding big-headed (I’m not), I (and the small team we are growing) can do pretty much , well, anything I.T. related. You name it, we can probably do it!
Having said that, if you were to tie us down, then I would say our best areas are in the following:
Web: Design, Build, Customisation, Hosting, Help & Support, Analytics, onsite SEO, E-commerce
Information Technology: Specialising in small-medium business I.T., including remote support, Office application support (Outlook, Word, Excel), computer networking
One-on-one: Small business coaching and solutions. Perhaps you are keen at getting as much I.T. work done yourself as possible? But maybe you just need that little extra help from time to time? Then that’s where we come in
During the summer of 2018, Jonathan decided that going back to full-time on Anything I.T. was the best course and more fully suited his personality and ‘life goals’.
So, now we are moving into 2019 with renewed enthusiasm (and time!) to provide our clients with a professional and helpful service.
Want to chat? Feel free to message us on here. We will quite happily tell you we don’t think a job is right for us if we feel that way. If that is the case, then we would endeavour to point you in the direction of someone who can help!
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