The Coronavirus has caused untold damage to businesses everywhere. Many companies that were used to seeing customers face-to-face on a daily basis have seen a huge drop off in numbers as people fear close contact and the possibility of catching the virus.

In light of the Pandemic, people in their droves are now turning to the internet to source what they need. The reduction of 1 to 1 contact has meant that many businesses have had to think of other ways to reach their customer base and continue to offer their goods and services in this new Pandemic era. Amazon experienced a 50% increase * fact check

What I’ve found of late is that businesses have looked to their digital channels (web, social, email etc) to help maintain their contact with customers and pivot their businesses to offer their products/services online where possible. Many in retail need to look at online-only sales should a full lockdown rear its ugly head again

Fortunately, there is a very generous government grant available for small businesses to help them do just that. You can avail of up to €2,500 grant aid to develop a website that will include on online trading element or an appointment booking function. This grant must be 10% co-funded by the business which means you only have to pay €250.

To qualify for the scheme, businesses must have:

  • no more than 10 employees;
  • less than €2m in turnover;
  • be trading for at least 6 months and
  • be located in the region of the local enterprise office to whom they are applying.

How do I pick a web design partner for TOV?

As part of the application for the TOV you will need 3 quotes for the work. It’s important to be clear about what you want but also use the opportunity to ask questions and get advice as to what they think would best suit you for the project. Some web designers may have ideas that you hadn’t even thought of. Others might help you steer away from areas that simply will not be the best use of your budget.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when engaging with a web designer

Do they ask about my business? Are they interested in getting to know about my business and my customers?

Have they a portfolio of past projects that impress you? Are they flexible in their designs?

Do they have a structured planning process where all discussions are documented so as to keep the project on track?

Ask them about search engine optimisation. You need to consider this to get you site to rank at least on the first page of a Google search. 

Ask will they maintain your site after launch or can they train you to do it yourself? 

Make sure you own your own domain name even if the web designer assists with the hosting side of things. It’s always good to give a deadline for the project when the web designers are actually available to carry out the project.  Most of all, embrace the project and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

If you need any help in designing a new website I’d be happy to help. Book a free 15 minute call with me here.

It is estimated that by 2021 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. And with 88% of online shoppers not returning to a site after a ‘bad experience’, it is easy to see why marketers should make User Experience (UX) a priority. Whether you are marketing a product or service or designing a website, your objective is the same, give people a reason to engage.

The role of marketing is to promote a product or service so as to create brand awareness, promote purchasing, and result in product adoption. In terms of promoting your business or product, your website says more about you than anything else, therefore more consideration needs to go into the online user experience.

The purpose of UX is to meet the customer needs and to create an experience that is easy and enjoyable. User journeys begin with marketing and the user experience smooths out the bumps along the sales funnel until the user converts into a customer. Instead of just focusing on campaigns to get users to the website, marketers would be better served understanding the needs of the user. Marketers tend to focus their research on getting a sense of a market size, value, growth rate, demographics etc. UX design goes deeper into knowing the user. Understanding their goals, tasks, journeys and scenarios.

“Simply improving customer journeys has the potential to increase customer satisfaction by 20% but also to lift revenue by up to 15% while lowering the cost of serving customers by as much as 20%.” 

— McKinsey

Let’s take the example of buying a new pair of sunglasses.

What does the marketer need to know about their users?


Who are they? What are their values, preferences and limitations? 

The sunglasses retailer has a profile of the typical customer as female, 24–28, fashion conscious, influenced by friends and will pay more for premium brands.


What is the user trying to achieve?

Easy, buy a pair of sunglasses.


What do they need to achieve their goal?

The user will want to check out what’s in style, in store, in magazines and online. They’ll want to see what are other people wearing before searching for webstores to browse product ranges and compare prices.


This is the route they take, for example, Google search, reading reviews or looking at related items such as clothes.


This is the context which influences the goals, tasks and journeys. Are they replacing a broken pair or looking to treat themselves to an expensive pair of Guccis!

Better conversion — by design

These deeper insights will give a better understanding of the user and help the marketer align strategy with the user’s goals. Armed with a thorough understanding of your user’s goals, marketers can better influence and contribute to the various stages of UX design. From planning, structure and flow to the content and design. Taking this UX research-based approach, website design will be based on real user data, not assumptions and will lead to better a conversion rate.

Marketers and user experience designers must always focus on their target user, what they are doing and what motivates them. The relationship between the Marketer and the UX designer should be synergistic.

User experience design is not a luxury that rich companies spend money on because they’ve got deep pockets. Granted, it does require a commitment of time, money and resources but the outcome more than pays for itself. Forester Research (paid report) shows that, on average, every dollar invested in UX brings 100 dollars in return. That’s an ROI of 9,900 percent!

Now that’s money well spent!

Whether you are looking to get a new website designed or a redesign of an existing one, It’s a good idea to have a clear picture of what exactly you are looking for before approaching a designer.

What is a UX design brief?

A comprehensive, detailed brief becomes the guiding document for the entire UX design process and spells out exactly what the UX Designer needs to do, and the constraints within which they need to do it. It starts with what the overall objectives of your project (such as increase sales, find new customers) and will help you pick the right UX Designer to achieve those objectives.


Do your research on the UX Designer you plan to send the brief to. Eliminate any companies who don’t offer what it is you are looking for. That might seem obvious but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this. Have a look through their website and shortlist the ones that offer the services you’re looking for. It’s a good idea to call the ones you’ve singled out and have a chat about your needs. You don’t have to go through the brief line by line at this stage but you will quickly eliminate those who can’t or won’t take on the project. You’ll also get a good feel for the designers that understand your needs the best and identify the ones you would feel most comfortable working with.


The UX design process are the methodical steps the designer works through to complete the project. Each designer will have their own process and the process used will be matched to the projects budget, ambition and requirements.

The UX Brief

  1. Objectives

You need to outline what your objectives are. What it is you want to achieve from engaging a UX designer. Are you looking to get people through the door of your retail store, pick up orders online or requests for your services? Be specific about what you want but allow the flexibility for your designer to decide what the best course of action is required for your needs. You might not want to carry out research on your target market because you feel you understand their needs. This is an all too common mistake. You are not your user. Leave this decision to the discretion of the designer but by and large, designing a website that’s based on user research is far more likely to be a success.

“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”

— Dr. Ralf Speth, Chief Executive Officer, Jaguar Land Rover

2. Budget

Telling the designer what the budget you have available doesn’t automatically mean that they will make their quote match it down to the last penny. Most UX Designers will have a suite of different services that they can offer their clients. Services such as UX research, UX design, Content Strategy, Branding, Digital marketing, SEO, SEM, Social, Web or. App development. Knowing the budget allows the agency to tailor the solution to the specific needs of the project. By the same token, there are companies that will have a limited range of services and take shortcuts in the design process. They might position themselves at the lower end of the market in term of pricing so sharing your budget is a good indicator if there is a match between you and a designer.

3. Deadline or time constraint

Is there a particular deadline that you’re aiming for like a launch or an event?

This is absolutely crucial to whether on not an designer can take on a project. Here at , our process to plan, design and develop a typical brochure website may take 4–12 weeks end-to-end. And likewise, if you have a deadline in mind but it’s not set in stone, be sure to let us know so we can agree on a delivery date which allows a bit of flexibility.

4. Background

Give the designer a full picture of where you’ve been, where you are now and where you are going.

Typical questions I like to ask are

  • What is your product or service — how does it work? Who has tested it? 
  • Describe your customers or target audiences.
  • Your competition — who are they, how do you differentiate yourself from them?
  • Talk to us about your existing site? What are the issues you or your users have with it?
  • What about content? Does it need to be redone, freshened up or have you already rewritten it?
  • What features & functionality will be needed for your website? Any integrations such as CRM or E-commerce?
  • Research. Have you looked at other competitors/sites for style and functionality? Have you a good understanding of your users or do you think you need to carry out research to gain a better understand of them?
  • What marketing are you doing/plan to do? For example, search, Email, social strategy?
  • What support will you require after your website goes live? Will you be in a position to carry low-level maintenance such as content updates and blog posts or will you need help in this area?
  • Do you need hosting, support, backups, software updates and security scanning?

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”

— Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist

5. The Team

Provide us with some background as to who is involved in the project. What their job titles are and how they’ll be involved. Are there other 3rd parties or agencies involved that we’ll need to work with or who’s involvement will affect the project? We work a highly collaborative process and we prefer to work closely with you or your team but this might not be possible on your side due to other commitments. It’s best to outline in the beginning how we’ll work together. We can agree on the number of workshops required or the frequency of touch points throughout the course of the project.

After submission of the proposal

It would be helpful to know what the next steps are and how you will be scoring the proposals and what the timeframe will be for a response.

Covering all the above points in as much detail as possible allows the agency to come up with a more tailored proposal and will help to eliminate ambiguity from the outset. Taking a little extra time to write a tight UX brief is time well spent and can even save time and effort down the line if the understanding of expectations is clear from the from the get-go.

Keep the brief close to hand throughout the process so that you can refer to it if you feel the project is veering off course. You should also keep note of any key decisions that were agreed that will have an impact on the overall direction of the project.

A good design project brief will ensure that you get a high-quality design for your website and one that will meet your user’s needs and achieve your business goals. 

Why is there so much confusion between UX and UI?

This post will define the two fields and explain the different areas of the design process each cover. I will give a brief the history of the origins of UX design and explain why UX and UI are mistakenly confused as being one and the same. I will conclude by illustrating how UX design can influence the bottom line in the long run.

  • User experience design (UXD or UED) is the process of enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving the usability, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the customer and the product.
  • User interface design (UI) is the creation of the user interface based on a functional requirement and planned user experience using design standards and aesthetics to craft a certain experience.

Both terms are used across many industries to describe the same thing. Both are involved in the design of websites, apps or any digital products that require human involvement or interaction.

Don Norman coined the phrase ‘User experience’ in 1993 while working with Apple.

“I invented the term because I thought human interface and usability were too narrow. I wanted to cover all aspects of the person’s experience with the system including industrial design graphics, the interface, the physical interaction and the manual. Since then the term has spread widely, so much so that it is starting to lose its meaning.”

This process of user experience design proliferated throughout the software design world for companies who now understood that putting the user at the heart of business was good for the bottom line. It was what made Apple, the user experience design-oriented organisation, the largest company in the world.

Back in the 1990’s the typical software development project took 2 years to complete. This methodology used was known as Waterfall and is still used today.  Waterfall is defined in wiki as less iterative and flexible approach to software development where progress flows in largely one direction (“downwards” like a waterfall) through the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, deployment and maintenance. The product wasn’t put in front of users until it was complete. This cycle was dictated by Moore’s Law which states that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years.

The UX process neatly fitted this cycle. Multi-core chip architecture came on the market in the early 2000s which were the stacking of 8 microprocessors on a single wafer. Now computer speeds accelerated exponentially and Moore’s Law no longer applied leading the way to a new method of development called Agile. Agile allowed for rapid iteration where shippable products could be pushed out the door every 2-4 weeks. The UX process couldn’t keep pace so, according to Ian Armstrong (Principal UX Designer at EMC Dell), visual designers, who had enough of an understanding of UX not to make big mistakes, were lumped with the task of including the UX process with their UI job. And that was the origin of the  UI/UX designer moniker.

Both UI and UX are design disciplines but often the business world associates the term UX/UI design purely with aesthetics. It is understandable that businesses would like one person to do both two jobs so as to save on payroll. UI designers recognise the fact that adding UX to their title makes them more marketable as businesses don’t fully understand the UX concept.

One way to look at it is to say UX design is the design behind the visual part of the design.

Courtesy :

The field of UX is very broad as the above image illustrates. Both UI and UX disciplines are not mutually exclusive but intertwine in the product development. One needs the other and to neglect the UX process completely will not do justice to the finished project. It will deny the business of the best opportunity to achieve a successful outcome. In a recent study from Forrester Research, a well-designed user interface could raise your website’s conversion rate by up to a 200%, and a better UX design could yield conversion rates up to 400%. Put simply, the metrics speak for themselves.

In Robert Pressman’s book Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach, an early business justification for UX is made that’s hard to argue: “For every dollar spent to resolve a problem during product design, $10 would be spent on the same problem during development, and multiply to $100 or more if the problem had to be solved after the product’s release.” This is to say that every dollar invested in UX returns $10 to $100, and correcting the problem from the start is most cost-effective. Not only that, according to, by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Understanding the difference between UI and UX is important. Ignoring the difference is negligent.