Archive by Passion Digital

5+ Years at Passion: SEO Executive to Operations Director

26Oct

Hamish joined Passion Digital shortly after the company started, when it was just a few of us based in a little mews next to Clapham Common, specifically right behind the rather infamous nightclub named Infernos!

He gave us his absolute all, which allowed him to progress rapidly right through the ranks, enjoying 5 ½ very happy years at Passion Digital. Before he moved on, we asked him to note down some of his lasting memories and thoughts on what life at Passion Digital has to offer.


First things first, moving on from Passion Digital feels very strange indeed. ‘Gut-wrenching’ is actually the best way to describe it, as I have the utmost respect for my colleagues here on a professional and personal level. They’re a talented, dedicated, diligent and – yes – ‘passionate’ bunch. For various reasons though, the time has come to depart.

So why do I feel so strongly about Passion Digital?

Well, whilst at university I’d started a business selling woollen products online, which became reasonably successful. Once I’d sorted the physical logistics, my attention shifted to the marketing side of things, where it quickly became apparent that my approach to all things digital was going to make the enterprise either succeed or fail.

I taught myself the basics regarding web design, development and marketing, but once my degree was finished, I knew I wanted to turn my newly acquired surface-knowledge into something more developed.

Looking back now, the truth is that little business provided me with far more practical skills than my actual degree! It also highlighted how few companies were effectively exploiting the massive potential the digital world offered.


Joining an agency was therefore the next logical step in learning the craft. I reasoned that if I joined a smaller agency, I’d be given better opportunities to see more clients and experience the full digital mix. Fortunately for me, Mike Grindy – our CEO and founder – had just started Passion Digital, so he gave me a shot in a junior role in the SEO department, based purely on my modest achievements with the little business.

In that first year, it became clear that my logic was thankfully sound. At Passion Digital it’s impossible to become siloed into doing a singular activity; you’re exposed to everything, including the raw commercials, right from the start. If you want to jump in at the deep end, learning the intricacies of all channel activity alongside the soft skills of client management and teamwork on the job, then Passion Digital is a truly wonderful environment to be in.

Of course, given the above, there were certainly times when the work was testing and late nights for a period became the norm, but this was exciting too; a symptom of the growing pains any ambitious company wants to be having. The reason that myself and others were willing to do this with a smile was because we were positively invested in the company.

We were – and continue to be – a bunch of like-minded, slightly geeky friends, all united on a fixed vision of becoming one of the finest digital agencies in the UK. Sizeable client wins over the years, along with too many awards to mention, hopefully attest that we’re moving steadily in that direction.

I should also note that Mike has always understood that happy people are productive people, meaning all the standard Silicon Valley style perks have been in place since inception, creating a lovely working environment where people feel able to be themselves. As such, the team bring along their full brain, not just their work brain, to the office. That may sound silly, but the improvement it has on output is genuine and it’s something which benefits all parties.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but here you can see my trajectory within the company:

  1. SEO Executive
  2. SEO Manager
  3. Interim Head of SEO
  4. Account Manager
  5. Senior Account Manager
  6. Operations Director

I should add that this is by no means exceptional, as we have plenty in the company who joined as interns, yet now perform integral roles brilliantly only a few years later.

Clearly to do the same in a large agency in such a short space of time simply wouldn’t be possible. If you’re willing to commit, learn fast and evolve as needs require, then at Passion Digital you really can turbocharge your career.

It’s only when I speak to those working in different companies and in different sectors that I realise just what a unique setup we have here. There honestly are no egos, no office politics, no bad blood; just a collegial atmosphere of skilled professionals, all of whom are good eggs. I will miss them all dearly.


Walking into that little mews on my first day, I had no idea that years later I’d be one of the Senior Management Team, helping orchestrate the running of a 40+ team, doing exceptional work for household names. Yet due to the constructively fluid nature of career development at Passion Digital, this dream scenario became a reality.

It’s been a journey I feel very privileged to have been a part of and I cannot recommend the team highly enough.

– Hamish

What Does Voice Search Mean for Your Business?

24Apr

Hey Siri, are you single?

The popularity of voice assistants has been on a steady rise since Apple pioneered Siri in April 2011 (yes, it HAS been 7 years!). Since then, Google (Google Assistant), Microsoft (Cortana) and Amazon (Alexa) have also joined the game. International players are not behind. Chinese giants Baidu and Alibaba also have their own assistants (DuerOS and AliGenie, respectively). Who hasn’t tried asking Siri if she has a boyfriend or girlfriend? (“Why? So we can get ice cream together, and listen to music, and travel across galaxies, only to have it end in slammed doors, heartbreak and loneliness? Sure, where do I sign up?”) or if she watches Game of Thrones (“Who me? Siri, First of the Name, Siri Siliconborn of House Apple, Rules of the Alarms and the Reminders, Guardian of the Calendar Appointments, Keeper of the Ontologies, Flipper of Coins. Yes, I am watching”).

Smart speakers are taking over

While initially voice search was limited to smartphones, smart speakers are taking the world by storm. Amazon launched first such device (Amazon Echo) in 2014 and ever since then there’s been no going back. 10% of UK households already own a smart speaker, with OC&C Strategy Consultants projecting the growth to hit 50% of UK households by 2022. comScore predicts that that voice search will account for 50% of all search activity by 2020. These are big numbers.

Now, this still doesn’t mean much for your business. Who cares how many people talk to their devices and ask them to turn off the lights or to give them a compliment. What DOES matter for your business, is that while UK voice transactions through smart speakers are worth £0.2bn now, they are expected to increase to £5bn in the next 4 years. Even with the current 10% penetration rate, nearly half of owners (44%) made a purchase using their smart speaker in 2017. Groceries (20%), Entertainment (19%) & Electronics (17%) dominated voice shopping product categories in 2017 but as the popularity of voice e-commerce grows, so will the types of voice purchases.

voice-search-commerce-sales

Voice search optimisation

With the new type of search, new ways of optimising for search will inevitably emerge are already emerging. To rank in voice search, you need to rank in position #1 – there is no page one with 10 organic results. There is only result #1 and a “winner-takes-all” market.

Satisfying user query will be increasingly more intent-dependent. Google calls it “Micro moments”:  purchase moments, research moments, and discovery moments, just to name a few. Consumers experience them on average 150 times a day: I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, I-want-to-buy moments.

With voice search, focus shifts to conversational, long-tail search terms and the meaning behind a query, instead of a specific keyword. What naturally spoken questions may customers be asking about your brand or products/services offered by your brand? Do you already answer such questions on your website? Do your pages trigger featured snippets? Have you mastered the use of Schema Markup?

Further down the line, brands will need to develop a “skills” strategy, alongside their other strategies. Voice-command “skills” for smart speakers such as Google Home or Amazon Echo can range from planning, ordering, looking things up, or controlling other devices (such as turning lights on or changing thermostat temperature).

Headache just thinking about it? Have a relaxing cocktail! Not sure what to go for? Don’t worry – you can consult Ask Patron, Patrón tequila’s new Alexa skill! Ask Patron will help you no matter the type, flavour, occasion or ingredients you have available. Feeling adventurous? “Alexa, ask Patrón to surprise me.”

The future is here.

Call us on 020 3773 9289 or get in touch to talk about the future, and what it means for your brand.

What is Negative Space in Web Design?

07Nov

Many designers make the mistake of creating overly busy and complex web designs, filling every corner with colour and content. But does adding loads of content equate to a ‘good design’ for the user? Well, current trends in web design demonstrate that negative space is not simply an excuse for a lacking imagination, instead, it’s actually integral to user experience. Ensuring there is enough negative space within the design allows the user to comfortably absorb the information which is being presented on the page, and if used in the right manner, it offers a stunning visual impact. But before uncovering exactly how we use it in web design, we need to ask the question…

What is Negative Space?

Bear Grylls website

Also known as ‘white space’, negative space describes the areas between different elements on a web page. These spaces deliberately do not display content and contrary to popular belief, do not have to be white. Instead, it can be of any colour or can simply include the gradients, patterns or background on the page. In this example, the sky provides the negative space needed to bring out the darker foreground image of Bear Grylls, but also offers a backdrop for the rocky mountainscape in the middle ground.

Let’s dig a little deeper into how we incorporate negative space into web design…

It Improves ReadabilitySquare Space website

It is very important that the visitors on your website find the copy easy to read. This means that the content and copy on a web page (as opposed to book or paper) has to be treated in a specific manner. These are general guidelines which designers follow, and their ability to leverage these is where the creativity comes in. One such guideline suggests that negative space is required as a buffer to stop the web page look cluttered, yet at the same time to make the content more readable. If you have a particular tagline that sums up your brand, negative space can guide a user’s eye to the meaningful words, in this case, ‘make it beautiful’, ensuring the user gets your brand’s message instantly.

Balancing ActGoogle Search

Web development is all about maintaining a fine balance among all the elements of the web page. This involves designing a web page in such a manner that each element gets its due space and importance. The visitor should not be bombarded with images or get carried away by one specific element on the web page. Google effectively guides the user to the actionable areas of the page, i.e. the ‘search bar’, ‘images’ and ‘Gmail’. They deliberately kept the design simple and balanced to avoid confusion and to maximise the action rate of the user.

Sharp Content HierarchySpotify website

A web design which lacks sharp spacing and hierarchy is not satisfying to the human eye. We find satisfaction in order and tidiness, especially when it comes to visuals. If a website looks confused and messy, we will assume the brand itself has the same characteristics. Introducing negative space means you can clearly differentiate between different elements on the web page. By increasing or decreasing the visibility of certain elements, web designers can put elements like a logo, navigation icon, headers, and image slideshows in a clear hierarchy, giving a unity of form to the web design.

This way, all the elements on the web page will also gain an aura of importance, making it attractive for the end-user. If used in a loose manner, the negative space might shift focus of the content and thereby become less effective.

SophisticationKitchens of Uber Eats website

Ultimately, all the website owners want their website to look sophisticated. This can be achieved by using the negative space in an intelligent way. It’s integral to visible composition, even if it’s mostly processed by the subconscious mind. you might not be aware of it, but negative space evokes feelings of discipline, simplicity and cleanliness, all things we associate with sophistication.

Closing Thought

There are no fixed rules when it comes to the use of negative space. Experimentation, the trustworthy companion of any artist, is probably the best way forward. But most importantly, don’t think of space as something you omit, think of it as something you create.

See how Passion Digital utilises negative space by checking out our case studies!

Agile Project Management in Web Development

03Oct

Agile Project Management is referred to as an iterative and incremental method of managing the planning, design, development, building, and testing activities for a project in the fields of engineering, information technology, and web development. Agile project management has come to the forefront of web development and is the leading trend in the business world today. But does this model have any impact on project efficiency? If so, how can a design team benefit from applying agile principles to a web development project and what effects does it have on the client? In this blog, we examine the process of agile project management to find out how it impacts web development project efficiency.

The use of agile principles with a web development project is mainly about collaboration with the client but also helps to accelerate production. There are numerous advantages that the agile methodology brings to project management. Below are some of the most important advantages in this list.

Faster-to-market

The Agile website development methodology promotes the concept of early and regular roll-out of the product through iterations and beta demonstrations, which in turn results in hitting the markets early and therefore impacts projects efficiency.

Enhanced Quality

With frequent sprint retrospectives, and continual improvisations through iteration, agile project management is designed to produce better quality products. The methodology also defines proactive methods to prevent product problems and also has tools and methods to support the vision.

Improved Customer Satisfaction

Due to the continuous customer engagement and high visibility on the process and progress, the end customers experience better satisfaction. The product owner and up-to-date product backlog are crucial in this procedure, and it also helps to accommodate changes in a quick manner. The customer also gets a feel of the working product after each sprint demonstration cycle.

Improved Team Morale

An agile team is found to be more innovative and creative due to the self-management, visible knowledge sharing principles implemented and this impacts project efficiency positively.

Flexible Team Structure

Unlike conventional teams, agile teams are more flexible to take decisions in the size and components of a team, owing to its self-management nature. Agile web development projects are noted to have multiple scrum teams on the same project which provides opportunities for addressing customer needs better through customization, impacting project efficiency in the process.

Strong Relevant Metrics

The time, cost and effort estimates used by agile teams are more relevant and more accurate than metrics on traditional projects. Usage of metric data like the sprint burndown chart is a classic proof for this.

Improved Performance Visibility

The agile website development process stresses on regular status meetings, daily sprint reviews and progress monitoring which enables all members of the team to monitor progress and performance.

Improved Project Predictability

The use of techniques like static sprint length, same team allocation, and metrics allow the agile project teams to predict timelines and budgets for future projects with more accuracy.

Risk Reduction

The agile mechanism was proposed to reduce the chance project failure. Relying on a working product from the very first iteration enables the customers to perceive the outcome and then work on the changes by giving constant feedback.

See what can be done when agile project management is used – check out our case studies
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