In the past month, the PracticeWeb team has been digesting all sorts of interesting articles and blog posts about web design, digital marketing, SEO and more.

With a general election and Christmas in close succession, it’s been a strange few weeks, but there’s also been plenty of reflection and rounding-up of 2019.

Melissa Tredinnick

Assistant editor


What SMEs were thinking and talking about in 2019

As well as writing on behalf of accountants at PracticeWeb, I also edit the content at our sister publication, UK Business Forums – an incredibly useful way to keep in touch with the concerns and questions that preoccupy SME owner-operators. Just before Christmas, I spent some time digging through the forums and pulled together this round-up of the pithiest quotes from members:

Mark T Jones on dealing with negativity: “There will be people who doubt you and there will be people who want to destroy your business, some for personal gain and some just for the fun of it. You need to be able to take this in your stride, and to separate constructive criticism from plain negativity.”

Social media: Instagram’s new influencer dashboard

Instagram, with its aspirational lifestyle imagery and generally upbeat feel, just keeps getting bigger and better. It’s kicked off 2020 by launching a new feature designed to help brands connect with ‘influencers’ – those bright young things whose endorsement means so much:

Mark Zuckerberg is no idiot when it comes to pulling in revenue from advertising and with the amount of money influencer agencies are making it’s a no brainer for Instagram to make these moves… Facebook did the same to FB pages, by lowering the organic reach it forced the page owners to buy ads just to get their posts in front of the followers that the pages already had… If Instagram pull their new platform off well enough they could very well be the biggest influencer agency in the entire world.

Accountants, in general, don’t make as much use of Instagram as they could, and there’s probably an opportunity for the first practice to get a reality TV star to endorse cloud accounting software from the VIP room at a nightclub.

Philippa Jordan

Marketing manager


Mike Crook

Managing Director


UX: The rise of the UX writer

This piece from UXPlanet is a year old but popped up when I was doing some research for a project this week. In brief, the idea is that writing for user experience (UX) is a unique skill in its own right:

The UX writer is responsible for all the text the user encounters when navigating their way around a product. Be it a website, a mobile app or a piece of software, copy is crucial in guiding the user and helping them complete their desired actions… The celebratory message that pops up when you reach 10,000 steps on your Fitbit? That’s been written by a UX writer. The error message that greets you when you enter the wrong pin for your mobile banking app? Also the work of a UX writer… Everything from the smallest CTA button to the most glaring error message has an impact on user experience. It’s the UX writer’s job to craft copy that is not only compelling and concise, but also user-friendly, appropriate within the given context, and on-brand.

The idea ties into the work we’ve been doing with heat-mapping, A-B testing and other ways of analysing user behaviour. Every word and every detail counts when it comes to guiding the buyer journey.

Content: going viral with a niche angle on pop culture

I generally roll my eyes at contrived attempts to go viral from brands but when Rated People published this article just before Christmas, I can’t lie – I was envious. It sets out to estimate the cost of the damage caused to properties in big Christmas movies such as Paddington and Home Alone 2:

Taking the top spot is the 1988 blockbuster Die Hard with its over the top action scenes totalling an eye watering £15,192,394 worth of damage to the iconic Nakatomi Plaza office block and its surroundings. In second place came Gremlins with the mischievous, evil creatures inflicting £544,415 of damage to the fictional town of Kingston Falls.

It’s clever because it’s the kind of entertaining article I can imagine reading in Empire magazine. That it happens to so brilliantly promote Rated People almost feels like an afterthought.

Ray Newman

Head of content and insight


Mark Jones

Lead designer


Branding: Simple design, sophisticated process

Language learning app DuoLingo has had a big rebrand which, if I’m honest, I didn’t love at first glance. But this article from Creative Review which lays bare the thinking and the process blew my mind just a little bit:

“So many tech and Silicon Valley brands have adopted the same neutral, characterless sans-serif typography,” says Michael Johnson, Johnson Banks Founder and Creative Director. “We were determined to find something that stood out – and the answer was to use their mascot as our inspiration”… First the team worked on Duolingo’s logotype, by referencing Duo’s “feathery form” through serif-flecked lettering taken from the owl’s plumage. Bit-by-bit this developed into a fully formed typeface which reflected the company’s “quirky personality”.

Finding out how the brand came together really changed my perception and made me warm to it. Now, which accountancy firm has a logo I can turn into a font?

That’s it for this month. We hope you’ve found something worth bookmarking, sharing or acting upon. If you work in marketing for an accountancy firm, we’d love to hear from you if you’ve seen, listened to or read anything interesting – drop us a line or connect with us via Twitter or LinkedIn.