Web Browser Support

IE Logo circa 2001, aka The 'Blue e'

IE Logo circa 2001, aka The 'Blue e'

Many a year ago, to ‘surf’ the Internet, we all clicked that ever-present ‘blue e’ icon, Internet Explorer. This of course, was only natural—it was all we knew.

At the height of it’s dominance in 2002 and 2003, Microsoft commanded 95% of the web browser market-share with Internet Explorer 6. Because of it’s then-unchallenged position, the browser was allowed to stagnate, holding back innovation and potential on the web.

Browser History

IE6 was released in 2001 alongside Windows XP. There were legal issues regarding the bundling of Internet Explorer with the Operating System, due to the huge PC Operating System market share that Microsoft had. Aside from the legalities, IE6 has also caused many headaches for web designers over the years, so it’s a subject myself and Wayne hold close to heart.

However, as with any industry or market, competition is a good thing, for both companies and customers (even in the banner printing industry!). Even more so with something now so fundamentally important to our way of life and conducting business as the Internet.

In November 2004, Mozilla (a non-profit organisation) released a new web browser: Firefox. Web designers like myself rejoiced and quickly adopted this far superior browser. We’ve also spent years recommending it to family members and friends. It caught Microsoft sleeping and has steadily grown in popularity. At time of writing, it has somewhere around 27% share of the world’s browser market.

Though Firefox has been the biggest competitor to IE so far, other companies have also stepped up over the years with their own web browsers.

Opera has been around for many years, but struggled to gain much adoption. Apple has Safari, which is creeping up the charts with the help of it’s mobile version supplied on iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad. And, of course, we have Google, which released Chrome in 2008; a browser which has shot up to around 15%-20% market share already.

Our Browser Stats

Compared to the scene five years ago, where one web browser dominated the market, we now have a very different situation. These are the stats for our website over the last couple of months:

Browser Share on VentureBanners.co.uk

Browser Share on VentureBanners.co.uk

  • Internet Explorer: 43.98%
    • (of which Version 9: 21.46%)
    • (of which Version 8: 62.85%)
    • (of which Version 7: 13.33%)
    • (of which Version 6: 2.36%)
  • Firefox: 22.84%
  • Safari: 18.22%
  • Chrome: 13.73%
  • Opera and Others: 0.42%

With the exception of a higher Safari share, our stats seem to be relatively similar to the global average.

Where Are We Now?

In a world where people are increasingly accessing the web from a multitude of devices, browsers and locations, it’s the job of web developers to bring them the best experience possible.

This is why we have decided to cease support for outdated browsers such as Internet Explorer 6 & 7. Catering for the lowest common denominator limits what we as web designers and developers can achieve, holds back the potential of what we can build, and adds a painful amount of extra time to any website project. For our small in-house development team to continue supporting five year-old software just isn’t practical. Don’t forget that ‘internet years’ aren’t far off ‘dog years’: these browsers are actually much older than they seem!

Future versions of our websites will be built with (very cool) modern technologies and techniques, which these old browsers are unable to cope with. For example, you wouldn’t be rocking a five year-old mobile phone (or smartphone) and expect to get the features and advantages that more recent models bring. Web browsers are no different—things move on, especially when the Internet is involved.

Not Supporting… Wait, What?

Our IE6 Warning

Our IE6 Warning

Put simply, it means that we won’t be testing our websites in these older browsers. They may look ‘broken’ or otherwise ‘wrong’, though our websites could still be usable from a functionality point-of-view, though we don’t recommend you try to find out. If you visit the Venture Banners website in an old version of IE today, you will most likely notice a lovely bright warning box. This might seem a tad blunt, but hey, at least we’re upfront about why the site might look a bit borked, and we make sure to point you towards some much better options.

2001 Called. It Wants It’s Browser Back.

IE6 Countdown

IE6 Countdown

IE 6 was released before the September 11th attacks. Before the U.S. entered Afghanistan. Before Enron went bankrupt. Before the South Korea & Japan World Cup. Before I left school! In short, it’s pretty darn old.

Just recently, Microsoft themselves announced Internet Explorer 6 Countdown, a campaign to encourage people to stop using the outdated browser and upgrade to a newer version. We couldn’t agree with them more.

And it’s not just Microsoft urging people to upgrade. During 2010 and 2011, large internet companies like Google, YouTube and Facebook announced that they are stopping support for IE6. Governments too, have realised the very real security dangers of using old software. Both Germany and France strongly advised their citizens to upgrade to newer browsers.

But even if you’re still using one of these older browsers, don’t worry; we won’t let you go away empty-handed!

Upgrade Now

Modern Web Browsers: Firefox, Chrome, IE9, Opera, Safari

Modern Web Browsers: Firefox, Chrome, IE9, Opera, Safari

These days, the web browser market is looking much healthier—we’re spoilt for choice. In early March, Chrome 10 was released. Less than a week later, we had the release of Internet Explorer 9. Then a week after that, we saw the release of Firefox 4 (and more recently, Chrome 12 and Firefox 5).

Although we don’t have the time or space to go into the details and advantages of each browser here, we would like to take this opportunity to recommend any of the following:

Here in the Venture Banners offices, we use a combination of both Firefox and Chrome.

One caveat to note is that IE9 is only available to users running Windows Vista or 7. Users of Windows XP would be wise to upgrade to one of the other browsers listed. Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari will all run on Windows and Mac OS X.

These are the best and most popular web browsers that are made for the modern web of today. All of them are free to download, easy to install, and will bring you noticeable improvements to your browsing experience if you’re currently on an older browser.

Get a shiny new web browser and make the Internet smile.

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Introducing Flags!

When I look back on it, it was a bizarre set of coincidences that led me into large format printing and starting Venture Banners (a story for another time!), but when we were setting up the business all those years ago, whilst doing my market research, the one thing that struck me was how difficult it was to get a price on a banner from anyone.

Banners are pretty straightforward, yet I came across various companies, all of whom used a seemingly unfathomable formula to calculate the price. What was more, is that the formula seemed to change almost on a daily basis, making consistency for resellers impossible.

Flags

Some Flags

So that would be our unique selling point: to have a transparent, concise menu pricing system. Not unsurprisingly, it has worked very well—no one likes having to use a Captain Midnight Decoder Ring just to get a price on three metre by one metre banner. And you may have noticed most of the other companies have followed suit. We have used that policy as the corner stone of our business and on all new substrates that we have launched; Self-adhesive Vinyl, Backlit Banners, Digital Canvas and Foamex to name but a few.

The one substrate we didn’t get involved with was flags. Apart from the fact we didn’t have a dye-sublimation printer, the flag market was a complete mystery to me. I heard stories of companies using printers in Poland and others importing them from China. And the prices—good grief! Even Captain Midnight’s Decoder Ring would struggle.

The annoying thing was our customers were asking us, almost on a daily basis, if we produced flags and we don’t like to let people down. People liked the way we operated and wanted to see flags in the product line-up, but if we couldn’t do it properly, then we wouldn’t do it all.

But we’ve been working on it. The brief was simple: a good quality product, a transparent, competitive price, and they must be produced in the UK.

Well, after some considerable time, we’ve done it. Flags are now a part of the line-up at Venture. We are expecting great things, as flags and banners compliment each other perfectly. Our trade customers can benefit from our consistent, competitive price and have another excellent revenue opportunity.

I think we can make Captain Midnight redundant.

Teardrop Flag

Teardrop Flag

Feather Flag

Feather Flag

We are starting with standard flag printing and a few flag products. These flag products include a Teardrop Flag and a Feather/Sail Flag, which come with various base options.

The flags and flag products will be available to trade customers first and provided the whole order processing goes as planned then we will be adding it to our retail site shortly after.

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Wot! No Banner Blog Posts?

You may have noticed that we haven’t placed many posts recently – this is because we are now well and truly in ‘Banner Season’. We have just had our busiest month ever, whilst we are also in the midst of expanding our team.

We also have something new in the pipeline which is due to be launched soon, adding another string to our bow, as it were.

So our apologies if you have missed our inane ramblings of late, but we should be back to our keyboard-happy selves soon, regaling you with banner related musings and information.

With regards to the new bow string… watch this space!

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The Xscape is Back in Stock, Kind of…

XScape Indoor Banner Display System

XScape Indoor Banner Display System

A couple of months ago, the stocks of our Xscape banner display system were depleted. Sadly, we weren’t able to order a new shipment in time, and we weren’t sure when we’d be getting more in, so we decided it was best to mark them as ‘out of stock’ on our website and make them unavailable to order. Two months on, that was clearly the right decision. I expect we’d have had a few disgruntled customers waiting for their banners stands if we hadn’t.

Now though, we’re glad to say that the Xscape is back in stock

…with one small change: the size has been reduced slightly. The width is 50mm less, now at 800mm. The height is 200mm less, now at 1800mm.

We’re still in the process of getting the original Xscape back in stock, and we hope it won’t be much longer before these are available. Once we have them again, it is likely we will revert back to the original size.

Please bear the size difference in mind if you are ordering replacement graphics. Obviously, the smaller stand won’t fit the larger graphics, and vice versa. If you’re after a replacement graphic for the original stand, please order a bespoke banner at 850mm × 2000mm on our standard 440gsm PVC and mention in the order notes that you will be using it with the Xscape.

Why the Xscape?

We’re big fans of ‘spider stands’. Although roller banners are very good at what they do, they’re a bit more of a hassle to get the graphics replaced. Spider stands, like the Xscape, come folded up and can be easily assembled in a matter of seconds. Fitting or replacing the graphic is simply a case of removing a screw cap in each corner, swapping out the old graphic for the new one, then replacing the caps. The whole process can be done in about two minutes. Add to that the fact that the Xscape is also £20 less than our starter roller banner, and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Other Options

If you’re still looking for a larger display, don’t forget about our Greenwich roller banner, and for an even taller display, our Hi-Flyer indoor display.

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Banners and Car Sales

We supply the banners for a few large car dealer groups across the country and having ran a Marketing Dept. for one of those dealer groups I know how valuable banners are to car sales.

Ford Sales Event Banner

Ford Sales Event Banner

Our main marketing medium was definitely newspaper advertising. This provided the mainstay of the car sales business. However, when it came to events, banners were the corner-stone of our marketing. Banners on the front of the dealership had a dual-purpose. Firstly, they went up prior to an event which, as the dealerships were in prominent locations, helped to advertise the event to the passing traffic. Secondly, the banners also helped people know they were in the right place – there was a time that events were advertised but nothing changed in the dealership, this confused people as they were unsure as to whether there was actually an event on. Now, it is standard practice to banner, balloon, bunting and sticker the site – the banner being the main indicator as they are usually rather large and right on the front of the dealership.

These marketing methods helped to increase the success of the events that we held and made us one of the most valuable dealer groups in the country.

Mecedes-Benz Banner

Mecedes-Benz Banner

We were a large county-wide dealership group, who eventually became part of an even larger UK-wide group so our marketing was helped with the sheer quantity of marketing materials and bulk-buy discounts. But, it is the smaller/independent dealerships that can benefit from banners as much as the large dealer groups. Banners are a very cost-effective means of marketing and are also re-useable for repeat events – provided they are looked after.

Basically, banners are a must for any car dealership, more so when hosting an event. When the cost is a lot less than the profit in one car and can be used for multiple events, they act more as an investment than an expense… and with a banner from Venture Banners you can’t go far wrong.

 

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Banners for Family Events… cont.

In an update to my previous post on Banners for Family Events, I thought a list of events that you could use banners for would be a good idea as means of inspiration. So here goes:

  • Any Birthday – I would say the more people attending the better. I also found that the kids really enjoyed having big photos of themselves on their birthday
  • Anniversarys – again better for bigger parties/get-togethers
  • Christenings
  • Communions - not entirely sure what this involves, but I attended a Post-Communion BBQ at the weekend and just thought, ‘a banner would look good here’
  • Welcome Home
  • Weddings - embarrassing photos of the bride and groom, anyone?
  • Retirement
  • Sorry You’re Leaving
  • Congratulations - covers a multitude of events

These are just ideas for events you could use a banner for. If also you would like any inspiration on banner design we do have a banner template section on the Venture Banners website, which you are free to look at – remember we can personal photos to these templates and produce them at any size/dimensions (as long as it is a banner and not wanted on an A4 piece of paper).

You’re welcome to get in touch and let us know of any other events you have used a banner for, and any photos would be great.

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Banners For Family Events

Happy Birthday Banner

A Happy Birthday Banner

When it comes to family events, many people will go out and buy those cheap thin plastic banners you can get from High Street card shops. These are great and do a job of providing a generic message to everyone who visits – brilliant!

But, what if you wanted a more bespoke banner? One which had photos of the relevant person? Where on earth would you go for something like that???… err, hello!

Two Happy Birthday Banners

Two Happy Birthday Banners

We have been producing an increasing amount of banners for family events, predominantly birthdays, but a few anniversary and some ‘welcome home’ banners for troops returning home from duty. I think the popularity has been down to the fact that they are designed and personalised for the individual which implies more thought and can be kept after the event.

It doesn’t hurt to put on some embarrassing photos either, just to add a bit of light-hearted fun to the occassion.

Because of the 440gsm PVC material the banners are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use so that weather does not have to be an issue – they will be just as comfortable in the scorching sun as they will be in the pouring rain.

The material and print is also durable so that it can be used year after year, so long as they are looked after and stored correctly – see my previous article on storing your banner.

Happy Birthday Mummy

Happy Birthday Mummy

For those romantics out there we have also printed a rather large banner with “Kate Will You Marry Me?”* and then he flew over it whilst on a helicopter ride with his potential bride-to-be – as far as I’m aware, she said ‘yes’… poor bloke… I mean lucky fellow! Sorry dear!

For those of you interested in having a banner for a family event then this should help; place an order through the website and enter the following code into the voucher box:

Voucher Code: XQHZS9

This will give you a free artwork service for the designing of your banner. Please note that this code can only be used for banners that will be used for family event and will not be accepted for any other artwork requests, sorry – however, keep your eyes peeled as there may be something in the pipeline shortly.

*The names may have been changed to protect the innocent

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Bank Holiday Banners

Due to the massive increase in demand for banners over the past couple of weeks, combined with four Bank Holidays, we have been a little swamped with requests for urgent banners.

Unfortunately, we have been unable to turn banners around in such a short period, for which we apologise. However, we are still on for our three to four day turnaround, it just so happens that with the double Bank Holiday two weeks on the trot, it means our turnaround is effectively five to six working days.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a Bank Holiday as much as the next guy, but from a business point-of-view, they do tend to scupper things somewhat and a double one even more so. Place another one the following weekend and we have some, now very grey-haired people in production, working very hard to get your banners out on time.

After the May Bank Holiday (2nd May) we should be back to normal service… until the next one.

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Buying From China? No Thanks!

Buying printed banners from China has been seen as a viable cost-effective method of banner production by many banner printing companies for a while now. But this is not without its drawbacks.

We have been approached by an increasing number if companies, that are having increasing problems when dealing with printing companies based in China.

Time Is On My Side, Yes It Is

Ordering from China has never been good for short lead-times. Anything under a month could be tricky because of the distance it has to travel. To keep costs down the banner have to be bundled together with hundreds of others and placed on a container and shipped. Some are sent via cargo plane but costs increase and quantity can be limited.

However, if you have the luxury of a two month lead-time and you have sent your banner to China to be printed, what do you do if, after 6 weeks they call you and say they are not going to make your deadline? Well this is one of the main problems that some customers have appraoched us with. They have been let down by the supplier and the to job has become increasingly urgent, what can we do?

All we can do is provide our normal service and get the banners out in time for their event, we don’t like to let people down and if it’s not possible we’ll let you know beforehand.

That’s Not What I Wanted!

On at least one occassion, we have been told that what they received was not what they ordered. If this happens you are left with no time to fix the problem (unless you’ve had the foresight to get them sent early). Again, we are here to help with the production of your banners.

Language And Consumer Confidence

One of the more obvious problems is the language barrier. I know that English may be well spoken over there, I’m pretty sure that Chinese isn’t well spoken over here, other than by the resident Chinese contingent, obviously. With this in mind and the fact that they are thousands of miles away, I for one would not feel confident in my purchase… but then I might be slightly biased.

The Best Of British

Whilst I am sure that there are benefits and times when getting your banners printed in China is your preferred method, at Venture Banners we print all of our banners right here in the UK. Although we do have a 3/4 day turnaround time (due to the sheer amount of orders we put through on a daily basis) we are human enough to help out wherever we can. We will always aim to look after our existing customers but new customers should not be afraid to ask for help, we will always try to help if we can.

Please note that this article is in relation to printed banners and not the banner material itself, lest there be any confusion.

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20% Discount On Banners for April

20% Discount

Well, we are offering an amazing deal throughout April. We are giving everyone who has either ordered previously… or read this blog… or has seen this on Facebook or Twitter… or has had this sent to them by friends or family… *deep breath*… a 20% discount – although the image at the top may have given it away.

That’s 20% off all our banners (remember these are whatever size you want them – simply use our price calculator for a price), banner products and banner accessories.

Discount Code On The Basket Page

Discount Code On The Basket Page

This offer is in the form of a discount code. The code is:

PQ87MH

Venture Banners Checkout

Venture Banners Checkout

If you want to take advantage of this offer, simply enter the code into the discount code box on the basket page of the website. You will of course need to add your banners and products to the basket first.

Once entered, click ‘Proceed to Checkout’ and you will be able to see the 20% discount applied to your basket.

The discount is applied to the Basket Total.

“But I already have a 10% discount  for submitting feedback on my purchase?” Well, in this case I would keep your 10% discount code as the chances are that it will expire beyond the April deadline of this 20% offer. You will then be able to use it after – smiley face!

Now for the backside-covering bits:

  • You can only use this voucher code on orders placed through the http://www.venturebanners.co.uk website.
  • This discount offer cannot be used in conjuction with any other offer or discount.
  • You CAN send this to anyone you wish for them to use as well.
  • This offer will expire at the end of April 2011.

If you would like to post this onto Facebook, you can use the Facebook ‘share’ link at the top of this post and then everyone can enjoy 20% off banners and banner products – another smiley face, but one with a big smile, and possibly squinty eyes ^^!

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