What’s this about? This short guide is aimed at establishing what a skilled game competition site is, how it is developed, why everyone has to get a turnkey software solution for the backend but a custom-made site, what goes into the security and privacy of competition, and most importantly - do you really need it?
Is this guide for you? This guide is aimed at people who have seen Spot the Ball competitions, photos of winners with their cars or Ipads, and thought - "I want a competition like that!" If you want to navigate the competition site landscape, properly plan and budget a skilled game project, and efficiently communicate your needs and wants to the development team - you're in the right place.
"Do I really have to read 5,000 words to understand what custom software is?" In reality, no. But making informed business decisions on long term projects is better than basing your opinion on a Wikipedia article and then wasting 10k GBP on nothing, right?
If you want a more succinct, straight-to-the-point, tl;dr type of answer to a particular question - email the author - firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and we will do our best to lift the lid on everything that might interest you.
We updated the guide with new advice and information on 15.02.2021
Before diving into the complexities of competition site design, let's first see why it is crucial for your site's success.
Your Site Design Sets The First Impression
When visiting your website for the first time, your audience often tends to form their first impression of your business, that too, in a matter of seconds. Therefore, you want to make these first few seconds valuable, and the only way to do that is by way of appealing and comprehensive site design.
If your site does not appeal to them or looks like every other site out there, your audience's first impression of you will be a negative one, and so they would neither want to come back or to refer your site to others. Hence, you will be missing out on valuable leads as users could leave your site for some other companies that seems more appealing.
Site design is crucial for your brand's success because it impacts what your audience thinks of your brand, whether it perceives it in a positive light or negative light. Depending on how they perceive your brand, they will either stay on your page and explore more of it or leave it for a competitor's page. All in all, a well-designed site will be able to generate leads for you.
It Helps With Your Search Engine Optimization Strategy
Most elements and practices that you make use of when designing your site tend to impact the way you publish content on your site, which in turn influences the indexing of your site by search engine spiders.
The design of your site is one thing you just cannot mess up. If your on-page search engine optimization fundamentals are not up to the mark, you'll struggle with visibility from the very start.
Apart from how content is published on your site, some web design elements can affect SEO directly. If you are not familiar with how web design works, it can be difficult to understand it, but to put it in a layman's words; your design needs to be SEO-friendly.
The best way to ensure best practices of web design (and successive search engine visibility) is to partner up with a customized solutions development company like Tentacle Solutions that knows what they are doing.
Enables Customers To Judge Your Hospitality
By simply looking at your site, audiences can deduce how you are going to treat them. Your design is an indicator of how you view your audience. The more effort you put into it, the more hospitable you will appear to your customers.
You can visualize your website as a customer service representative. If your website is welcoming and bright, your audience will feel more at ease on your page.
In contrast, a typical and unattractive site makes your business seem cold and aloof. People do not wish to explore a business that does not pay heed to what they think or want.
You can imagine your site design as the digital face of your business. If someone was to walk into your office, wouldn't you want a bright and friendly face to welcome them? An up to date web design is just the same as a friendly face welcoming your new visitor.
It Increases Your Audiences' Trust
The better designed a site is, the more visitors will perceive your business as professional and hence trustworthy. If your site is not updated, they might perceive it to be the work of an unprofessional company that is not to be trusted.
Think about someone looking to invest a great deal of money in a manufacturing company. They're spending a large amount of money, which means if your website design does not give the impression of safety and security, they'll look for another business to place their order with.
In comparison, a well-designed site comes off as professional and signals trust with your audience. They will think of your business as trustworthy and feel comfortable exploring more of it.
Trust is a crucial factor in determining whether your visitors stay on your site or don't. The longer your visitors remain on your site, the more opportunities to generate those leads.
That being said, here's a step by step guide as to how you can work with Tentacle to launch a well-designed custom competition site:
1. You buy our turnkey STB software: (Turnkey software is such that it can be integrated into systems to carry out processes like billing, web design, teaching, managing web content, etc.); this type of solution does not have to be built from the ground-up, rather it is ready-made and can be used right away once it is installed. Turnkey software can bolster the performance of your business and help stifle competition.
2. We design and build your site using years of our web design experience: After you, as our client, have bought our turnkey software, the remaining process is on us. We will then design your website according to whatever framework you provide. Your job is simply to inform us about what you have in mind, and ours is to bring your ideas to life. Your site will be designed and built by our experts, who will make sure to provide you with unique and innovative solutions.
3. You can launch your project: Lastly, all you will have to do is launch the site and initiate your success story with Tentacle Solutions.
At Tentacle, we strive to provide unique and innovative solutions, built from the ground-up, just for our clients. We make sure that our solutions encompass all needs that our clients have specified to us, and this is exactly what sets us apart from other website design platforms. In addition, no one out there does STB as we do, and you've probably realized that by now. The competition websites that we build and design work perfectly with the STB software and utilize best practices in competition site design. This, among others, is one characteristic of our software development company that you will certainly not find anywhere else.
Now, if you are thinking of plug-ins on WordPress and some website design agencies who can create competition websites for you, here's the thing for you.
While there is practically no harm in opting for a website design agency, it cannot give you what really makes custom competition sites worth the money. That is, they cannot provide you with the expertise that Tentacle can, in terms of gamification. This is because they do not know the back-end of Spot the Ball. In contrast, we have been creating competition sites for STB since its inception in the digital world. So, it's only fair you opt for a platform that guarantees success instead of one that is unreliable.
As for WordPress plug-ins - they cannot be trusted, as we've mentioned before. It would be best if you did not ignore the fact that mere plug-ins like these can only increase the risk of data exploitation for you. At Tentacle, we strive to provide a safe and secure environment for our clients, guaranteeing 100% protection of your data. Therefore, our Spot the Ball software is a much better alternative for running competitions where user data is not exploited. What more, we also offer customization options, unlike this plug-in that provides a half-baked version of STB, with no options for customization at all.
Another point of differentiation between a provider that is truly deserving of your trust and one that is not is customer satisfaction. At Tentacle, producing happy and satisfied customers is a top priority, and we make sure they are well attended at all costs, and none of their needs are left unfulfilled. This is something (among others) that these plug-ins can't give you, for they do not offer customer support or maintenance services from experts. Not only will you be at a consistent disadvantage by buying plug-ins off of WordPress and other providers, but you will also miss out on the prestige of working with the single best STB provider in the world, which is unfortunate, to say the least.
Read More: Brief History of Spot the Ball
Lastly, hiring freelancers for designing your competition sites can be tempting; however, it can also be delusional, for they cannot guarantee the security and stability for the sites like the plug-ins discussed above. On the other hand, you have no reason to stress about safety and stability when working with corporate developers, for there's always that aspect of accountability that may not be there in the case of freelancers.
Now that you know why working with Tentacle is best for you, let's look into our approach to creating and designing competition websites, i.e., custom website development, and see why it's best to create competition websites compared to using ready-made plug-ins/templates for competitions.
While it is entirely up to you what site you go for, the choice you make (between a custom-made site and an off-the-shelf one) dramatically impacts the way your site looks and functions as well as on the user experience overall. It serves as a determinant of the success of your competition site and of your business. Mentioned below are some of the primary reasons a custom made site is a far better option than an off the shelf/ready-made site.
Opting for a custom-made site is liberating, to say the least. You get so much more freedom to epitomize what is unique about your brand and your business. Freedom rocks. Not only will you be able to stifle competition by setting yourself apart from your competitors, but you will also create a good impression on your visitors, and as they say, the first impression is the last impression. This, however, is not possible with a template design. Your business is (hopefully) unique in its functionality and approach, and so should your website be.
However, if you make use of a ready-made site, you will defeat the purpose of providing a unique experience and hence would be no different from your competitors. What more, visitors might even confuse your site with someone else's - and give them the business instead. Opting for a custom-made site is the only way to fully portray what makes you the best- better than everyone else.
Be At The Top Of Your Game
The best and most explicit way to showcase your professionalism is by incorporating a custom made site. Why? This is because a custom made site clearly shows that you are actually serious about your business and its reputation. It is a clear indicator that you have put in a lot of effort and time to maintain that particular site that has now become the face of your business, and visitors pay heed to that. This factor becomes most apparent when users visit other sites that look cookie-cutter and basic. (read - boring).
Most importantly, making use of a custom made site bolsters your credibility and can help establish your brand as both a reliable and promising source and not a cheap, quickly thrown together alternative.
Through custom made sites, you can tailor everything according to your target audience and demographic. Unlike off-the-shelf designs, here you have control over your site's look and functionality, both of which, might I remind you, are extremely important to boost user engagement and eventual conversions. You can craft your users' journey as you want with full control over the layout and content through customized design. You can also make the best use of your website's SEO,
bolstering your rank in search results and ensuring your site reaches the right people with a lot more ease than in the case of a ready-made design.
Operate Out Of The Box
One major con of off the shelf or ready-made sites is that they have limited functionality. This limited functionality is inflexible, and so you are restricted to what the site allows you to do, which can keep you from applying the functionality you actually need for your competition site. You might want to integrate a page that entails instructions for the competition or elements like testimonials.
Read More: Price of Spot the Ball
Also, the customer portal you've been talking about, right? No such off the shelf template exists that can do everything you want it to- or everything it is supposed to do. Making use of a custom-made website is the only sure way you can have the capability to manifest your vision.
Update Your Site When Required
Another benefit of integrating a custom made site is its flexibility and scalability to change and grow whenever needed. For instance, you can update your features or add more of them according to your users' increased needs, whatever they may be or wherever they may arise.
This, however, is not the case in pre-made sites that will force you to confine yourself in its limited functionality. What more, with custom made sites, clients are often provided with professional developers that keep the site up to date, saving you the trouble. Bingo!
Don't Fall For What Seems Easy
While just getting a site right "off the shelf" might seem easy and less expensive than getting one custom made, you will eventually have to pay for it in the long run. How? Well, due to the inflexibility of ready-made sites and the tendency of competitors to adapt to a stationary site, you will always be at a loss. Googling "how to make a competition site" is a good starting point, but ultimately proves a trap. However, if you had opted for a custom-made site, you would've made more of it rather than losing the money. Don't be the kind to make such a silly mistake.
Reach out to us today, and initiate your success story with Tentacle Solutions. We are a leading U.K. based software and development company specializing in custom-designed solutions for companies. Contact us to see how we can help bring your ideas to life and create the perfect solution for you and you alone.
Understanding The Audience
When making a competition site, you must make sure that you design it in a manner that it connects to its audience. By the time you get down to creating your site, you probably might have already figured out your target audience. But the question is, do you know really know them? If not, then we've got some bad news for you. According to a study, 7 in 10 businesses do not make the cut because they fail to engage with their audience. Do you think you are one of the 70 percent? If yes, don't worry, we've got you covered! Here's a guide to why you need a target audience, how to identify them, and the benefits of knowing them in website development:
Recipients of marketing efforts that you have predetermined are known as your target audiences, the people you aim to inspire. These people are the ones you want for your site, who can eventually turn into valuable customers. The best possible approach to know your audience is by way of incorporating buyer personas.
After your target audience has been identified, we can start working on designing your complete site. This will be done according to your understanding of your audience. For example, you must know their aims, their expectations, etc. Now when you design your competition site with your audience in mind, you should expect the following products:
1. Better Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Digital consumers greatly prioritize personalized content that they can relate to or find meaningful. Competition sites that are designed according to the target audience bolster not only user engagement but also increase your conversions. These activities are tracked by indexing bots, allowing your site to secure a high rank in Google search results.
2. Boost Engagement and Conversions. If you do not design your competition sites properly and users feel uneasiness when interacting with it, there'd be low engagement from users and low conversions. As we mentioned before, you can make use of buyer personas to personalize your site for them in order to maximize conversions.
3. Decrease bounce rates. Since most visitors form their opinions 0.5 seconds after visiting your site, the first impression really matters on the internet. People in different demographics respond differently when it comes to your layout, offerings, or aesthetics. However, suppose you have a predetermined audience and have specified it. In that case, people in that particular demographic will be more likely to access your website and see what you have in store for them, especially if it's something they take fancy to.
4. Better Insights for Optimization. Most customers tend to feel frustrated if your website does not provide for their needs. However, if they find it to be valuable, 63 percent of surveyed people said they would think of your brand in a positive light. Customized web designs target the desired audiences, filtering out the rest and luring in leads with high potential. Also, through the integration of buyer personas, you can optimize your website by eliminating facets that do not produce results.
5. Enhance Your Website for Your Audience. Connecting with your audience is key to succeed in your business. This is not to be taken as an option but rather a demand that needs to be fulfilled. The best way to do this is by optimizing your website, which is clearly the face of your business online. Tailor your website to increase user engagement and conversions. At Tentacle Solutions, we make customized sites that have an optimal performance to suit your audiences' needs.
Accessibility In Terms Of UX/UI
A product or service becomes "accessible" when anyone can make use of - no matter how they come across it. Laws regarding accessibility are basically for people who have disabilities, but UX/UI designers should try to fit all kinds of audiences in different contexts of use regardless. Not only is it the correct thing to do, but often it also has its set of advantages – particularly better designs that benefit all kinds of audiences. This is so as accessibility features designed to aid people with disabilities are often also used by other people, too. For instance, video captions integrated to help people who have difficulty hearing can also prove beneficial for someone who is in a social gathering and has to watch the video on mute.
15 percent of the world's population would be excluded from your design if you don't make it accessible.
Moreover, readable, high contrast text that's been integrated into your service for those whose eyesight is weak can also help those whose eyesight is perfect but are using the service in broad daylight. Most users—no matter how capable—are prone to facing challenges owing to demanding contexts. When you design for people of all ability levels, you can bring forth products and services that can be used and enjoyed by anyone- or at least be of help or relaxing.
Read More: UX/UI in Spot the Ball
Despite the fact that accessibility is a vital component of successful UX design, it is often overlooked by companies. According to a 2011 World Health Organization report about disability, however, 15 percent of the world's population would be excluded from your design if you don't make it accessible. Additionally, many jurisdictions impose penalties if companies fail to produce accessible designs. However, this should not serve as a reason for you to make your design accessible but rather the fact that it has its own set of benefits which include but are not limited to:
Better SEO from semantic HTML
Ability to expand user base in different settings/contexts
Improved perception of the Brand
Fast loading speed
Regardless of a business's niche or industry, delivering a memorable user experience is part of every business's priorities. A website that can capture the attention of new or returning users tends to perform much better compared to one that does not. Part of creating such a site is making sure it delivers at the right time, meaning it does not take long to load at all. Therefore, site loading speeds are incredibly crucial for your site's success.
Modern Customers are Impatient. When a website takes forever to load, it is typical of us to feel angry or frustrated, eventually shutting it down to look for another one. Similarly, the people who are entering your STB competitions online right now are no different. They don't have the perseverance to sit around and patiently wait for a website to show up whenever convenient; rather, they want things done instantaneously. The longer you make them wait, the more interest they would lose in you. In a report by Google in 2012, most smartphone users were willing to wait for no more than five seconds for a website to show up before moving on to another one. Do you want to bet that people are more patient today than they were eight years ago?
Website Load Speed Impacts Your SEO Since 2010, Google has been using site loading speed as a ranking signal in their algorithm, and so it greatly impacts where your website ranks in the results. Site speed mirrors how fast a website acknowledges web requests. It is not only crucial for site owners to speed up websites but also to all internet users. Sites that load quickly have more satisfied users as compared to those that load slowly and often end up with a negligible number of visitors. This is due to the fact that most visitors are not willing to wait longer than 30 seconds for a site to show up. Google is aware that directing traffic to websites that have slow loading speeds can have a disastrous impact on the user experience, so it only makes sense for the search giant to still value site speed.
Role of CDN in site loading speed
A fast loading website can enhance your SEO. And this where CDN comes in.
A CDN decreases the distance information has to travel between the server and the user. It is a network of servers, rather than a single server, with locations in a number of geographic areas. When a user gains access to a website, information is gathered from the server location which is nearest to them.
Read More: CDN and Page Speed for Competition Sites
The result, however, is a faster flow of data.
That is what a CDN basically entails; however, there's plenty of information on the internet about the functionality of a content delivery network and how it compares to making use of just an origin server to house a site.
In general, if you wish for your Spot the Ball competition sites to load faster, then you can shift to a CDN, which would also help reduce costs of your bandwidth, improve your site's SEO and efficiently handle traffic spikes. It is a valuable and practical option for many site owners.
Trouble with payment processors
In today's modern and tech-savvy e-commerce environment, both merchants and shoppers are looking for nothing less than a smooth and secure digital experience. With the increasing use of online payment processors, concerns over security and user demands are also increasing, resulting in complex processes and challenges for all parties involved.
However, the biggest challenge is to ensure that you or your users do not face any trouble with payment processors for that would dramatically impact user experience and the subsequent reputation of your site. Challenges that may arise include:
1. Fraud and chargebacks
2. Cross border transactions
3. Customer or card data security
4. Multi-currency and transaction methods
5. Technical integration
No trouble with the gambling commission
Last but not least, ensuring that your site is legal is imperative for your site to work. Otherwise, your site will be under the radar of the Gambling Commission, and once it is, it will be scrutinized, and you will ultimately have to take it down. Also, having trouble with the gambling commission will affect your reputation. Hence, you could even lose customers, which will eventually result in the failure of your site.
Speaking of failure, disregarding any of the guidelines mentioned earlier could really make your site fail. Also, providing confusing instructions on how to play and no ongoing support could also add to its failure.
Our process of designing competition sites is wholly based on our years of expertise in this field, which have bestowed us with the wisdom of understanding the kind of audience that comes to play on each particular competition site. We make use of the best techniques to bring your ideas to life. Our principles include:
Accessibility and Inclusivity in web design: We make sure that we include everyone in our web design by making it as accessible as possible. This way, we ensure that every person gets equal access and equal opportunity to take part in the competition. This also helps in upholding the principle of legality of our Spot the Ball software as this way, we're able to ensure that an unskilled player does not have the edge over a skilled player. Furthermore, the techniques we use to make the competition site more accessible overlap with other best practices that include but are not limited to search engine optimization and usability.
Knowing the audience: As we've mentioned time and time again, understanding your audience is KEY to designing a successful competition site. Unless you know who you are dealing with, you cannot make use of the best practices to increase user engagement.
Polished, turnkey STB software to cover the back end: After figuring out our target audience, we incorporate our turnkey software in a manner that it complies with the audiences' needs so as to maximize the best results.
Community building: Last but not least, we make use of our best practices to build a community of loyal customers that proves to be useful in referral marketing and in boosting the credibility of the site.
When all's said and done, all you need to know is that with Tentacle working for you, you have nothing to stress about. All you've got to do is brief us on your vision, and what you hope to achieve, the rest is on us. We only go upwards and onwards from there.
Security Of Competitions
One factor that must not be overlooked when working with any custom development agency is their credibility and dedication to your cause. When working with Tentacle, it is almost impossible for you to overlook it, for it's manifested in all that we do. Our customer base has grown on the basis of credibility; each project of ours is a testament to that.
We guarantee 100% protection of your data and tailor our competitions accordingly, so no stone is left unturned in living up to our promise. Here's how we make your sites 100% secure:
Unlike freelancers and other web design agencies, Tentacle can guarantee the protection of your personal data through compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation. This is legislation on data protection and privacy. Furthermore, unlike many other platforms, Tentacle does not expose user data to exploitation. At Tentacle, we give paramount importance to providing top-notch security. Therefore, our version of Spot the Ball is much more secure and suitable for coming up with a competition site that is free of risk of data exploitation. We use SSL certificates that are digital certificates that not only provide authentication for a site but also enable an encrypted connection. Moreover, along with having secure databases, we do not gather or store any transaction data, thus ensuring all the parties' privacy.
To ensure personal data isn't mishandled, we advise that transaction data is done at the payment processor's side and not the competition site side.
We make use of the best practices of cybersecurity to protect sites from malicious attacks.
Credit card transactions can be handled through payment processors, which are companies that specialize in such transactions. These companies employ anti-fraud measures to make certain that both the customer and the merchant are secure.
Finding a reliable payment processor is paramount to the success of a competition site. We don't provide those. It's up to our customers to do it. However, we can advise you on what qualifies as a good payment processor partner and how to find a good payment processor partner:
First and foremost, you have to make sure that the whole project is legal; it operates within regulatory boundaries and does not (advertently or inadvertently) fall under the category of gambling. It should be a registered company with an operating license and no gambling commission issue. You can check this by assessing the legality of the project and its nature. If it is tilted towards chance-based operation, then you might want to check if it violates the Gambling Act and is under the Gambling Commission's radar.
Now in order for you to get access to a credible and secure payment processing company and for it to work with you, you must have a site that is appealing and persuasive enough. However, that is not your burden to take. We will do it for you- you just have to find the perfect payment processing partner for your site.
Before opting for a deal in the market, the first thing we do is compare. A comparison between that particular deal and others and how that deal can benefit us more or suit us better than others. Similarly, you must perform a due diligence of payment processors and compare the reviews, data, etc.
Plan it as a long-term partnership- that's what we believe in, and that's what a payment processor should bring to the table for our clients.
If you need help developing a skilled game competition site for your company, the experienced team at Tentacle Solutions is happy to assist. Based in Glasgow, Scotland, we deal with all facets of skilled games, including predictive analytics, testing, creative UI/UX services, and more. Contact us today to learn how we can help you create a one-of-a-kind app to suit your unique needs.