On 1st October 2015, Narrative celebrated our fifth birthday and five years of helping businesses achieve more online.
So much has changed in the five years since we set-up our digital agency in Bedford, including a name change (we used to be called THBOOM!), moving into a bigger studio space ( twice ), and evolving the business from a small web design & build agency into a full-blown digital strategy consultancy partnering with businesses who want to use the internet more effectively.
The two founders had over 15 years experience of digital when they started Narrative and understood that, as more people gained cheap, easy & ubiquitous access to the internet, they would gravitate towards those organisations who made it easy for them to use their services. Narrative was set-up to focus on creating digital services that are so good, people prefer to use them over other channels.
Once we proved that better service design & UX led to happier customers, we started to ensure that every other channel was linked to the digital, so even if they picked-up a printed brochure, saw and advert or poster somewhere, it would be a seamless and coherent journey back to the digital experience where the magic happens.
We were amongst the earliest pioneers of responsive design, now considered the industry-standard best practice for supporting mobiles, tablets, web-enabled TVs and other devices. Our decision to support mobiles before most other agencies was driven by our understanding of audience behaviour and our clients benefitted, not just from the improved customer experience and the increased conversion rates, but also from the SEO benefits when Google made mobile support one of its key SEO ranking factors in May 2015, and started to move sites down the search results if they lacked support for mobile devices.
Our approach to digital strategy is informed by trends in audience behaviour, but we don’t just follow them. We have worked with technology long enough to understand that it doesn’t stand still and you shouldn’t just jump on the latest bandwagon. That’s why our clients benefit comes along, as well as SEO services proved more sustainable and cost-effective etchniques over search term gains that
Even if we ignore the effect of mobile-support on SEO (over-dramatically nicknamed “mobilegeddon“), SEO has still transformed in the last five years. Narrative’s founders each have 20 years experience so they’ve seen a lot of changes but the last five years have completely transformed SEO beyond recognition. While there are many techniques that will bring success, it is no longer possible to trick it or game-the-system and the only way to ensure a sustainable search engine ranking on Google and other search engines is to have a website that is near perfectly suited to the users’ needs as possible. Fresh & good-quality content, support for multiple devices, accessibility, server speed, the calibre on inbound links, structured data and markup on the pages themselves… there are over 220 factors that contribute to modern SEO and none of them can be tricked; you just need a website that
The internet is increasingly ubiquitous, although we still have a long way to go. Internet cafés that were once seen as strange and exciting have all but died out, to be replaced with free wifi practically everywhere. These days, we all carry the internet in our pockets – on our phones – and we use it to find the nearest services, compare prices in store, cheat at a pub quiz, send photos to our friends, get discounts at restaurants and much, much more.
The in-store experience has transformed, with people trying out a product in-store and then buying online.
How we entertain ourselves has changed irrevocably, especially for those of us born into a world with 5 or less TV channels and cartridge-driven games consoles. The likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and on demand video through Sky, Virgin and others give us access to all kinds of content while games consoles now use the internet to download games and play against other players around the world, with in-game micro-purchases to add features.
I could go to self-publishing, photography, DIY websites, access to communities etc but these are all small picture.
The big picture is that increased access and usability means the public are increasingly preferring to use online services over traditional ones. They might browse a physical brochure but they will buy online more in the future.
It will be interesting to see what the world looks like in another 5 years.