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5 Mistakes to Avoid in UI Design


17th September 2018

We often focus on this blog about what you should do – the best ways to achieve success in web design. But sometimes our mistakes are our best teachers. It can be as easy to navigate the thickets of web development by knowing what to avoid as by understanding the golden threads to follow.

To that end, and following a few recent posts on the topic of user interface design, here’s the flip-side of our how-to series: the how – and what – not-tos. Avoid these five common mistakes in UI design and you’ll be just as surely on the road to success as if you have followed a list of positive rules.

 

Avoid Inconsistent designs.

Consistency in design is about ensuring that all similar actions and elements within your website look and act the same. Do all the action buttons resemble each other? Do all your links? Visually cueing the user into the function of an element in this way makes a site a lot easier to use. One of the easiest ways to remain consistent in your design is with some planning ahead of time – don’t neglect that stage.

 

Avoid Poor Choice of Colours.

Colours portray meaning, so consider your brand and audience before commitment to any colourways and every hue. You also have to keep visitors with colour-blindness in mind. Consider carefully the function of colour in your design: what impressions are you trying to evoke, and what might each colour represent within your design? Always deploy colour strategically, and never randomly.

 

Avoid Text-heavy Content.

It may sound like a paradoxi, but too much text can hide a website’s message from visitors. Copy, of course, is important – and well-written, concise and impactful text is crucial to any website. But use more visuals and less text: a picture is always worth a thousand words when it comes to digital design. In this context, don’t write for the sake of it – make every sentence count.

 

Avoid Neglecting Other Devices.

People are accessing the internet in ways more diverse than ever before. To capture more users, then, you’ll need to ensure that ones with different devices can access your website equally well. Mobile browsers have overtaken desktop browsers and it’s important to keep that in mind. Think about how your site will cope with these disparate demands – and make it responsive.

 

Don’t Ask Users To Click Too Many Times.

The more clicks that a user has to go through before making it to the final “purchase” or “sign up” button, the more sales that are going to be lost. Ensure to check the length of your forms and how many steps you put between their beginning and their end. Use simple structures and clear progress markers to keep your users engaged – and never, ever insert a click unless it’s absolutely necessary!

 

So that’s User Interface Design 101 – the negative edition. Steer clear of these five mistakes in UI design and you’ll be on your way to building a fantastic user experience.  Sometimes, avoiding the pitfalls is as important as taking the right steps.

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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Benefits of Good UI Design


27th August 2018

The benefits of good UI design are almost innumerable. So important is UI design to the success of a website that we might argue it is the single most important element of any web project. Forget your typography choices, your image options or your colourways. UI design is where it’s at?

But what is UI design? Put simply, it is the construction of the user interface – the UI – by which a visitor to your site navigates and interacts with your content. All elements of that interaction – from navigation bars to responsive elements, but also including how images and typography facilitate ease of use – should be included in the UI design considerations.

Of course, UI design is present in a very wide range of applications, from operating systems to aeroplane cockpits. But to focus on web UI design is to drill down quite specifically into how users engage with online material – and the ways in which designers can maximise ease of use whilst also inspiring greater adoption and return visits.

The best UI design is sleek, intuitive – and invisible. As a rule, you want your user interface to be as non-intrusive as possible: the less aware a user is of the interface, the better it is. Your focus should be on ensuring rapid access to core content – in other words to facilitating your users’ access to the information they most need. The UI shouldn’t get in the way of that; it should be the pathway, not the gate.

Let’s assume you get the UI design just right. That was a lot of work; what exactly have you got out of it all that effort? What, in fact, are the benefits of good UI design?

 

Good UI simplifies searching.

Again, UI design is about making it easy for your users to reach the content they need. A good UI will feature search functionality prominently – and ensure that results are relevant. Think about how you’ll tag your content to ensure that searching is free-flowing, not frustrating.

 

Users can navigate your website better.

We don’t always quite know exactly what we want – and search is, after all, only as good as our key phrases. That’s where effective navigation and way-finding comes in: the better your UI, the easier it will be simply to browse your website … and find the content we need intuitively.

 

Condenses interfaces for smaller screens.

These days, good UI design has to be responsive. In other words, you should ensure that your site is as usable on a smartphone screen as it is on a 40” desktop monitor. Don’t neglect the impact of less horizontal space on your design!

In short, good UI design will help your website feel seamless and intuitive – and simply provide greater convenience to your users. That, in turn, will mean they spend more time on your site – and return to it more often. And that, in the end, is the greatest benefit of good UI design.

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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3 UX Design Trends for 2018


21st August 2018

UX design is about ensuring your website works for your users. The interface through which each visitor to your site finds and interacts with your content and services is crucial: unless it feels and functions just right, you’ll lose users quickly and fail to make conversions.

That’s why it’s important to identify and understand the latest develops in UX design and related areas. Not because you should slavishly follow trends … but because, just as technology doesn’t stand still, so too do users’ expectations shift and change.

Keeping up to date with UX design trends ensures that your website won’t feel stale – and can continue to provide the level of service and interaction that your users increasingly expect. Matching your site’s user interface with the latest capability of devices and browsers will encourage new business and repeat visits alike.

In 2017 and into 2018, there have been some significant technological developments with the capacity to significantly alter how users interact with online content. In both websites and apps, and particularly via mobile platforms, UX is changing rapidly. There are three main strands to this transformation.

 

Voice.

The popularity of using voice in UX may signal a movement towards ‘screenless’ design. Think about interacting with Alexa or Siri – no screens need necessarily be involves. This, of course, reduces the number of touchpoints between the user and their device – and should give UX designers plenty of room to innovate and experiment.

 

Virtual Reality.

Virtual reality will only work its way into the mainstream with the help of great UX. The good news, however, is that the relationship is two-way: VR can hugely enhance UXs, to the benefit of both provider and user. Designers will need to master the art of creating more convincing – and therefore compelling – user experiences than ever before.

 

Collaboration.

Not only do UX designers need to adopt new approaches, but they also need to effectively communicate these to developers. Design and the “under the hood” coding must go hand-in-hand more than ever: when it comes to these trends, teamwork is critically important.

 

And there you have it: the shape of things right now, as well as what is to come. Make sure your site is ready, and your users properly served, by adopting these three UX design trends!

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

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Trendy Ways to Use Colour in your Web Design


7th August 2018

Fashions are important. Not because we should slavishly follow them – a bit of individual spark, that certain something that makes us … well, us … is fundamental to crafting an identity or a brand. But fashions do help us meet our target audience’s expectations; keeping an eye on trends helps us avoid looking old-fashioned.

It’s worth, then, being aware of the latest trends in web design – and we try to keep you abreast of them on this blog. Trends in design cover every conceivable aspect of how a site looks and behaves – from typography to menu systems, fashions come and go. You shouldn’t chase these trends at the expense of your brand; but you should at least know about them, to enhance and develop your site’s look and feel over time.

Colour is no different to any other aspect of design in the sense that an audience’s preferences for a hue of one kind or another wax and wane over time. Some years ago, everything was about whites and greys – clean lines, crisp palettes. There was even a time when technicolour websites were actually a thing, and you almost needed sunglasses to go online.

 

Currently, however, there are three key trends in colour which you should consider when refreshing your own website. In no particular order, they are:

  1. Use a strong background. A colorful and powerful background hue can be a good move: choose the right bold shade and you’ll add interest to a specific section of a page, lending energy and a touch of pizzazz to a design. This isn’t one to overdo – turn the saturation up too much and you’ll burn someone’s retina – but don’t be afraid of colours with a bit of punch. In fact …

 

  1. Make a statement. Gone are the days when web design needed to be quiet and monochrome. Colour can – and should! – now be used to make a strong statement. Your site should have character, and colour is a great way of letting your audience know exactly what that personality might be. Using gradients is a very popular current trend which can make a website stand out from the crowd. On which note …

 

  1. Improve Branding for Your Company. The internet is awash with content. Only the clearest and canniest will stay in your users’ minds. Colour can bestow not just personality but “stickability” on your site: most notably, brand identity can really be shaped by the clever use of colour. Choosing a livery for your brand – a set of colours that evoke in some way your company’s ethos or identity – and sticking to them across your site will give it the sort of unity and consistency that can encourage loyalty from your customers.

 

In short, on today’s worldwide web colour shouldn’t be an after-thought or something to avoid. In a crowded marketplace, good design is something that is both tasteful and memorable, consistent and quirky. Choose your brand’s colourways with some thought – and make sure they’re bold enough to make an impression. The internet is a catwalk for your company – so don’t be afraid to adopt trendy ways to use colour in your web design!

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

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What are the Benefits of Using a Web Design & Development Agency?


24th July 2018

There are as many ways to build a website as there are to skin the proverbial cat. You can develop your own, or use a service such as Wix; you can hire a freelancer or ask a friend; you can employ your own in-house developer … and you can engage a web design and development agency.

Of course, each of these options has its own pros and cons associated with it. Some have flexibility as an advantage, others full control; but disadvantages, too, are legion: sustainability and quality are key questions when commissioning a website, and how your choice of supplier affects those should be closely considered.

It perhaps isn’t surprising that, as an agency ourselves, we tend to think that engaging a web design and development agency offers the “golden mean” of all these pros and cons. An agency balances out the risk of engaging a jobbing freelancer with the commitment of hiring your own in-house team; it ensures that your website will be far better than the off-the-shelf ones offered by Wix, and give you greater control than you might have offered a friend doing you a favour.

Most importantly, however, an agency gets you a breadth of experience and expertise. By engaging an agency, you immediately benefit from the experience of more than one developer – and, in working for an agency in the first place, those developers are going to have a lot of experience, since they are constantly working on new sites.

Likewise, an agency’s size and set-up mean they will have clear processes in place to stick to deadlines and quickly fix any problems that may occur. This gives you peace of mind, and an obvious means of avoiding ‘project creep’ – a common problem when your site is built not within the clear confines of an experienced agency.

Equally, the depth of expertise in an agency gives you sustainability moving forwards: agencies can manage your website for you on an on-going basis, long after it is complete; freelancers often struggle to offer the same.

On the other hand, they offer more flexibility than investing in your own internal infrastructure might – agencies are a cost-effective option and yet deliver extremely high-quality work.

Like we said: agencies provide a fantastic balance of all the options. In this way and many others, they are a one-stop shop for all of your web design and development needs.

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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Why GDPR Matters – and What We’ve Done About It


23rd July 2018

Around the month of May, everyone’s inboxes were seemingly full with that stream of slightly begging emails from companies we might have bought something from ten years ago. “Let’s not lose touch!” they pleaded, like old pen-friends who had drifted away from us.

If you were anything like everyone else, you probably just deleted the message. We were all so heartless back then. All of these emails, of course, were about GDPR. This is the acronym applied to the new data protection laws produced by the European Union, which came into force at the end of May this year.

The founding principle of GDPR is privacy: that each of us has a right to decide how our data should be used by those companies and organisations which hold it. That’s why we all received those emails: without our permission, those companies couldn’t keep our details – and couldn’t contact us again about their products.

GDPR is a clear set of regulations which has replaced quite a confused status quo, and in that sense should be welcomed. It represents a great opportunity for companies to get their data house in order, and think more clearly about the information they collection … and what they do with it.

Of course, it also makes some new demands on data holders, and that’s where we’ve been working hard with our clients to help them become not just compliant with the letter of the GDPR law, but with its spirit – we think there are opportunities here, and have been encouraging our clients to grab them.

First and foremost, the new regulations simply require companies to be a bit more transparent and upfront about their data collection policies and procedures. This means new pages – and sometimes new functions – on your website. We’ve been taking our customers through the implications, and got every site updated in time for the deadline.

The most obvious change to make to all of our sites – and one you may have noticed on any you have visited since May – is the installation of a new Cookies pop-up. Online, a cookie, of course, is a little packet of data which a website sends to each of its users’ computers. This can help the site improve the user experience – helping keep them logged in, for instance, or to fill out repeat forms.

GDPR demands that we’re upfront about using cookies – after all, it is essentially a form of data-holding. Your site should have a pop-up message explaining that you use cookies, and offering the user the chance to read your policy. In fact, updating your privacy and terms of use policies are also a must – and we’ve been making sure our clients’ site have them, and in prominent places, too.

It’s also true that the data you hold can only be held for a given period without explicit permission otherwise. You need to think ahead, then – how will you collect that permission in the future? All this is easy to sort, but very important to have. Your agency should be helping you get ready.

If you’re not sure about GDPR, drop us a line for some help. You don’t even have to beg!

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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How Long Does Web Development Take?


11th July 2018

Web design and development is a complicated process. That said, it needn’t take an age. Many businesses put off engaging with web development, however, because they become daunted by the time they fear web development might take.

Realistic expectations are important: understanding that web development takes time is part of properly planning for a project and setting meaningful benchmarks. There are two ways of being unrealistic, though: one can be too optimistic, of course; but one can also be much too pessimistic.

A good web developer will prioritise efficient working and timely delivery of a project. That said, a website can take a minimum of fourteen weeks from start to finish – not an insignificant period of time, however quickly a web designer works.

Starting with an understanding of the realities of web development, it’s entirely possible to limit any further delays – and ensure that fourteen weeks is all it takes. There’s no need to fear the dreaded “project creep”, or the endless web development programme … as long as some thought, and even some preparation, is put in place first.

Web development goes through five stages: discover, design, revisions, initial development and, finally, modifications. Being clear at each stage – ensuring briefs have real clarity and all parties are certain as to goals and KPIs – will ensure that no step needs to be repeated or take longer than necessary. Thinking about what you want before any work is undertaken will ensure that no labour is wasted.

Keeping each stage of the process clean in this way will make sure that the project isn’t slowed down by the web development equivalent of leaves on the line. Equally, you should ask three questions of each web design job: how soon can development begin, how long until the website will be ready for review, and when will you be able to launch the website?

The answers to each of these questions will be dictated by capacity: how busy is your designer, and how many resources are you – and they – able to devote to the project to ensure as rapid progress as possible?

Choose a developer who is able to respond to your needs, not one who is over-worked or bogged down; set project benchmarks so everyone is sure when interim stages should be reached; and devote yourself, too, to the timetable – often the launch date, in particular, will be all about when your own organisation is ready, as much as the site itself.

Ultimately, though, timescales will usually be most dependent on the complexity of the project. That brings us back to realism – be ambitious but don’t be a Pollyanna. A brochure site can be completed in weeks; an interactive e-commerce site is simply going to take a little longer.

Clarity can help grease the wheels; agreed timetables can keep all parties on track; but, ultimately, understanding the complexity of your project – and being honest about the implications of that for the length of time it will take to complete – is what truly decides how long your web development will take.

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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Tips for Using Images Effectively in Web Design


27th June 2018

Amongst the many tools open to a web designer to wow visitors to a given page, the humble image remains one of the most important. Though it has less technological sophistication than a cascading menu or a video background, a great photograph or drawing will capture the eye and the imagination in a way that is hard to match.

That’s perhaps why imagery has become so important again in web design of late. From a flat trend for icons and bold text at one point, we have cycled back to the use of great photography especially – the ‘hero image’ is now a mainstay of many a website, dominating a page and defining its look and feel.

Humans have a visual imagination, and the ‘hero’ image responds to that – and leverages it. Your first job on any web page is to keep your user’s attention. You want to reduce the bounce rate – the number of people leaving a page almost immediately because they find it some combination of boring, confusing or difficult to use – and imagery is a great way to connect immediately with your audience.

Maximising the effectiveness of your imagery, then, is a key means of maximising the effectiveness of your website. Grabbing attention, holding it and then directing it to the content your users want to see, or the content you want them to see, are all roles that can be served by imagery. So. How to make your site look its best?

 

  1. Use a high-quality hero image. The point of a hero image is that it dominates the screen. But when an image takes up most of the browser space, it needs to look incredible. As screens get sharper and more high-res, the impact of a stunning large-format hero image on a landing page is vital – but can only be achieved by matching the crispness of your users’ screens with the sharpness of your image.

 

  1. Consider cropping images. Care should be taken to draw the user’s attention to the main focus of the image, without leaving too much unnecessary empty space. Think about what the photograph is trying to convey – and where it is meant to be directing your user’s attention. Put that in the centre of things, even if you have to cut something else out to achieve it.

 

  1. Use images for UI elements and icons. Now this one’s a bit clever. Depending on the website you’re creating, images could be a really great way to illustrate particular sub-pages, or stories, or blog posts. Don’t full back on icons or clip-art – use crisp, exciting photography throughout your site. It’ll give every page an impact and identity … and your users will thank you for it.

 

Is your website ready for its close-up?

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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5 Website Navigation Trends of 2018


12th June 2018

It can be easy to ignore the importance of navigation design. The other aspects of websites are so much more obvious and exciting: colours and shapes, fonts and photography. But without good navigation design, your website might look great but be way too frustrating to use.

Navigation is, of course, the means by which a user gets from one page to another when using your site. The best websites will have intuitive navigation and menus that make immediate sense. Giving a clear structure to your site, and enabling your users to make their way through it, is the best means of helping your content do its thing.

There are all sorts of methods and techniques to make sense of navigation on behalf of your users – and, as with all elements of design, there are trends to take into account, too. We’re currently seeing five key approaches to menu design that can really help make a site comprehensible to first-time visitor or long-time user alike.

 

Sticky Navigation Bars

Sticky Navigation Bars, for example, keep the navigation menu in a fixed place on each page. This enables users to navigate the site from anywhere on the page – because the navbar follows them as they scroll through content. This is a great way of encouraging users to explore your site without risking them getting lost.

 

Mega Menus

Mega Menus are increasingly popular on websites, perhaps because they are rather different from more common, and therefore a little dreary, drop-down menus. Instead of just flowing downwards along a vertical line, mega menus expand wider, usually containing multiple columns of content. This is particularly useful if your site has a lot of inter-related content.

 

Responsive Sub Navigation Menus

Responsive Sub Navigation Menus are also crucial for sites with lots of pages. Designers will often hide some navigation links on mobile platforms, in order to help the menu fit better on small screens. This design trend retains the space-saving virtues of drop-down menus, but hides them by default behind a “hamburger” icon which, once clicked, expands across the content area.

 

All Capitalisation

All Capitalisation, meanwhile, is a rather more subtle trend but no less powerful. Here, the text of a menu item is displayed in ALL CAPS, offering a text style that feels clear, intuitive and symmetrical. We’re seeing this more and more, and, unlike other uses of all-caps online, it never feels like shouting.

 

Single Page Navigation

Finally, single page navigation is making a lot of the above redundant. Many sites – particularly those with less content to squeeze in – are now simply a single page with anchor points: click a menu item and the page automatically scrolls to the corresponding section. As well as sticky navbars, dot navigation – a series of circular icons located on the left or right side of the screen – is a big thing here, and helps further enhance the natural sleekness of single page sites.

 

So there you have it: navigation is changing, and you need to stay up-to-date if your users are going to stick with you. With luck, this quick review of the top five web navigations trends for 2018 has helped you find your way, too …

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

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5 Ways to Improve Your Landing Page Conversions


30th May 2018

Improving your landing page conversion rate is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to enhance your business’s performance online. Imagine a physical shop that was so uninspiring that, upon entering it, shoppers almost immediately left – and certainly never purchased anything. That shop wouldn’t last long, right?

You should think of your website in the same way.

Your landing page is the first block of content visitors will see when arriving at your page. It might be your homepage, or it might be a specific area of your site set up to receive specific traffic from a particular ad or email offer; whatever its precise composition, its purpose is simple: to encourage your visitors to enter your sales funnel.

Amazingly, many landing pages simply don’t do this job as well as they might. Businesses focus on great search engine optimisation, but forget that, once all those new visitors arrive, the work isn’t over: your site still needs to put its best foot forward and convince customers to engage.

Try these tips to grab your users and not let go!

 

Keep a clean layout. A cluttered layout will simply drive users away from your site. To convince your visitors, and then direct them appropriately, you need to make your calls to action – and your steps to purchase – clear and easy to understand. Your text and images should come together logically to emphasize each other and make next steps plain.

Consider your Above-The-Fold content. “Above-the-fold” is a phrase from newspapers: broadsheet-style papers appear on shelves folded, and so it’s only the content in the top half of any front page that is visible on newsstand shelves – and therefore which contributes most to sales. Likewise, the first slices of content that appear on the opening screen of a website make-or-break: they need to engage users … and keep them engaged.

Consider your language. Your copy is important – it needs to be accessible and authoritative without being hectoring. People visiting your website want to know what your product or service can do for them. Consider teaching them about your product rather than selling it to them as this allows you to build trust. Inform and entertain – the hard-sell is a turn-off.

Use social integration. Make the most of your customers’ enthusiasm for their own networks. Integrating social media on your website allows your users to share your products or services with their friends and family – and that increases everyone’s interest in your business. Provide something useful – a download or a video – that people will want to share.

Use stats on your landing page. There may lies, damned lies, and statistics – but numbers matter. Meaningful statistics are powerful proof of your customer’s satisfaction with your product or service – and your users will respond accordingly. Using your numbers responsibly in this way can build further trust with customers from the off.

First impressions matter. So think hard about these five ways to improve your landing page conversions.

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

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