Durham University Palatinate Orchestra - DUPO - sponsored by Peacock Carter

Let There Be Music – Peacock Carter sponsors Durham University Palatine Orchestra

Peacock Carter are proud to be primary sponsors for Durham University Palatinate Orchestra (DUPO) for the 2021 – 2022 academic year.

Our donation will be used to support initiatives to bring music education to schools in the Durham area and across the UK, as well as aid the running of the orchestra’s shows throughout the year.

You cam reach more about DUPO’s outreach programme here.

“As a North East business, it is great to be able to support local organisations looking to improve and enrich the region”, said Richard Carter, founder and director of Peacock Carter, and a Durham University graduate himself.

Remo video conferencing platform logo

Using Remo video calls – tips and tricks

We’re sure you’ve spent what feels like countless hours in conference calls on platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and WhatsApp during the Covid-19 lockdown. Each platform has its own benefits and disadvantages.

We recently added experience of a new (to us!) platform for conference calls, thanks to Durham Business Club. Remo (remo.co) is live video sharing software which runs in your web browsers, and allows attendees to join an event as part of a “table” of delegates.

Here’s our introductory guide for Remo conference calls.

Conference call etiquette

Before we get in to the details of using Remo, let’s refresh our minds on some basic conference call etiquette. These rules help ensure all participants can hear – and have a chance to respond to – participants’ questions during the video call.

  1. Set up early! It’s worth setting up to join your video call earlier, to give you time to solve any technical issues before the meeting starts.
  2. Speak more slowly than you would do face-to-face. Not all audio connections are crystal clear, and this extra time helps to give your audience understand what you’ve said.
  3. Leave a gap at the end of each sentence or phrase. This allows for a little delay for those listening to interject with questions or queries.
  4. Mute your microphone if you’re not speaking. Particularly helpful for larger groups of people in video calls, muting your microphone if you’re not speaking helps to cut down on background noise and distortion – particularly if you have children or pets in the background!

The conference hall

The “conference hall” is where you first appear when you join a Remo call. You’re assigned to a “table” when you join the call; these tables provide a smaller group to talk in. Below is an example of a table with 6 delegates on “third table” – the other tables are empty:

Remo - conference calling with tables

You can join another table in Remo by double-clicking on a table with a free space.

If you have a smaller screen, you may not be able to see every table in the video call. You can scroll around the room by holding down your left mouse button and dragging the room.

The call bar

The call bar gives you options to interact and contribute during your video call. This appears at the bottom of your screen on laptops and desktop computers:

Remo conference calls - the call bar

The Tile view allows you to focus on those in your table’s video chat. You can use the Back to map button (bottom left of the screen) to return to the room view and explore different tables:

Back to map - Remo.co

The Cam On / Cam Off option allows you to disable or enable your own camera. The Mic On / Mic Off option allows you to disable or enable your own microphone.

The Chat option provides access to a group-wide messaging system – handy to share links, videos or telling other delegates you’re having issues with video or audio.

Share Screen allows you to share what’s on your screen with those on your table. The Whiteboard option provides a canvas for you to draw ideas and share them with your fellow video callers – we used it to play a quick game of noughts and crosses:

Remo video call whiteboard

Announcements in Remo.co

Announcements allow the event hosts to take over your Remo.co video calls and present to all tables in the event. Multiple presenters can be given centre stage to present ideas and discuss topics of the organiser’s choice:

Remo announcements

While the announcement is in progress, you can’t talk to other members on your table. You can Raise Your Hand under the More option (bottom right of the screen) which flags to the event host that you have a question for the group.

Troubleshooting Remo.co video calls

The most popular issue we came across was with camera or microphones not working: see this guide on Remo.co. Remo have their own in-depth help centre for other queries if you get stuck!

Questions & Answers with Remo

Having hosted our own test event, we later took part in a guided tour and Q&A session hosted by the Remo team, which was a useful way of experiencing the platform as an attendee alongside about 40 other people. It again worked really well as a networking tool (with some great conversations and new connections made!), and some of the key questions we had from our own event – not currently answered in the otherwise comprehensive help centre – were addressed.

What is the best combination of device and browser to use?

The Remo team recommends using the Chrome browser. They noted that the platform works well on laptops and phones (including Android and iOS), but does not function so well on tablets such as iPads at the moment.

Is there an option to have a waiting area before the event, so that attendees can get ready for when it starts?

No, attendees can only enter the room at the allotted start time. However, the Remo team pointed out that a useful tip for helping things run smoothly is to make sure attendees have created their free Remo account in advance of the event.

Some people who had already signed up for our test event, and went to it via the available link at the appropriate start time, got the “Save me a spot” message instead of “Join now”, and weren’t able to enter. Correcting the time on the laptop seemed to fix this. Is this a known glitch?

No, Remo hadn’t come across this particular scenario before. Rather, when you get the “Save me a spot” message to an event you have already signed up for, the most common reason will be that you have signed into the platform with a different email address – perhaps using the “Sign In With Google” link – rather than the email address and password that you used when creating your Remo account. Log out, and sign back in with the correct details.

Can the Remo room be set up with, for example, a smaller number of tables for more intimate gatherings? 

No, changing the room layout isn’t something that is currently available, unless you were to commission Remo to create a custom theme (at a cost, obviously).

Audio and video sometimes cut out when having a conversation around a table. What’s the best way to fix this?

Again, the Remo team recommend using Chrome to minimise video or audio issues during an event. If there is a glitch, switching to a different table and back again usually fixes it. If that fails, try refreshing the browser.

The 14-day free trial features the $150/month Director version by default. Is there a way to instead trial the cheaper Host version ($50/month), to get a more realistic idea of the product that you might actually end up subscribing to?

No, this is not available, unfortunately. The Remo team pointed out that, from an attendee point of view, the experience of participating in an event on the Director platform is very similar to what they will see on a Host platform, except that the room is smaller (maximum 50 attendees instead of 200), there are four (not six) people per table, and the length of any event is capped at 1.25 hours. If a customer wants to subscribe to the Host version, they only have to sign up for a month at a time, so can cancel after the first month (or upgrade to a better package) if they decide it doesn’t meet their needs.

As an event organiser, one of the issues currently is that anyone who has the event URL can enter that event, whether or not they are invited. This works for open events, but not for events that are being monetised, or that need to be restricted to a specific audience. Is this situation being addressed?

Yes, it is. Password-protected events are being rolled out from next week (week commencing 20 April). The event host can also eject anyone from any event if necessary.

Thanks to Alison of Durham Business Group, Graham of CannyInsights.com, Phil of Strike While The Iron’s Hot, John of NBSL, and Lynn for their permission to share images including them! Special thanks again to Graham for the Q and A content from Remo.

Peacock Carter web design agency open during COVID-19 lockdown

Web design agency Peacock Carter still open during COVID-19 lockdown

As the government announces lockdown to help reduce the spread of Coronavirus known as COVID-19, we’d like to reassure our web design, and website support clients that Peacock Carter remains open.

Our Proto office is currently not in use as we have moved to work from home, but you can reach us via hello@peacockcarter.com, or leave a message on 0191 375 5713 with your email address and telephone number, and we’ll get back to you.

We will update this post if or when services change.

Our web design services

Clients in difficulty due to COVID-19

We understand that some of our clients may experience difficulty due to the lockdown restrictions. Peacock Carter aim to support our clients as fully as possible, so please contact us if we are able to help support your business in any way, including discussing payment plans for existing projects.

Last updated 21 May 2020.

WordPress page titles - for SEO website basics

Our predictions for web design trends in 2020

As a web design agency founded in 2006, we know that website design trends change all of the time, and not always for the best. Here are Peacock Carter’s predictions for web design trends for 2020.

Asymmetric web designs

Asymmetrical website designs are one trend we may see more of in 2020 – typically, modern website designs are built from a grid which translates to both mobile and desktop versions of a website; moving away from this grid it’s possible to create more visually interesting content.

The trade off with the use of asymmetric website design is whether this can render content harder to read for your visitors, and whether it impinges the easy navigation of your website.

Bold, simple colours

The use of simpler blocks of colour has been around for some time, but we think it may be due to make a come back for websites in 2020. The benefits of bold simple colours for website design are more impact visually, though there’s potential for issues with contrast making content inaccessible for a small or larger portion of your website’s visitors.

More animation on websites

Historically, websites have been fairly static in nature, serving content to visitors interested in certain topics, products or services. Animation techniques came along, and in the “MySpace” era of the web, animation was done to death, with big, in-your-face sequences distracting from websites’ true purposes – to see your product or service.

We think web animation is likely to make more of a come back again in 2020, with subtler animations introduced – we’re seeing this already on some websites built in the last year or so. With mobile traffic accounting for around 50% – or more! – of web traffic in many industries, modern animation techniques such as CSS animation can be coupled with older techniques like GIFs to create a mobile-friendly experience for visitors.

As with any animation use on your website, beware of overuse – less is more! – as they can become distracting to your visitors.

Of course, one of the things that makes web design so enjoyable is that things change rapidly, so no doubt 2020’s web design trends will end up looking very different to our predictions above!

If you’re looking to update your website design in 2029, get in touch with Peacock Carter – your Newcastle web design agency!

Richard Carter, North East web design agency owner. Photo: North East LEP

Proud to be a web design agency in the North East of England

As an web design agency based in the North East of England for the past 11 years, I’m pleased Peacock Carter still retains its North East roots.

I’ve found the North East a great place to be based for business. In particular, I’ve found the digital and creative community in Newcastle to flourish beyond what was already a great community of talented people in Newcastle and the North East, with regular meetups and talks throughout the year. Indeed, I organise two monthly meetups myself, for the WordPress and Magento platforms.

So, when the North East Local Enterprise Partnership enquired about getting me involved in a campaign to retain more graduates of North East universities in the region, I was more than happy to help.

The beginnings of a North East web design agency

The company had humble origins, starting in a bedroom in Durham in 2006. Founded by 2 Durham University students with a passion for website design and development, we quickly moved in to offices in Felling, Gateshead, before making the jump to Newcastle city centre a few years later. The company has changed its focus a little – like any good business! – since we started, and we’re now a very capable web design agency and ecommerce agency.

Today, Peacock Carter works with clients around the region – and throughout the world – and we are proud to remain in the region with our base at Northern Design Centre on Gateshead quayside.

Work, Live and Stay in North East England

My small feature is part of a much wider campaign by the North East LEP to showcase graduates from North East universities (from Newcastle and Northumbria, to Durham, Sunderland and Teesside) who have remained in the region and been able to contribute to its continuing successes.

You can read more from me and my thoughts on staying to live and work in the North East of England in the NELEP’s PDF here.

Web design trends in 2018

Our web design trends for 2018

As a web design agency who have been around since 2006, we’ve seen a lot of website trends come and go in our time, from skeuomorphism to flat design and the rise of responsive web design.

So, here are our 2018 web design trends to watch out for this year – from more animation to greater use of vibrant colours and a change in direction for typography.

1. More web animation

Animation has been used on websites for decades now, in various forms. Formats such as GIF allowed early web designers to create animations for logos and other uses, but the format could only support a limited range of colours. Then came Flash – a format now largely gone from the web, thanks to the rise of web users adopting their smartphones, which largely did not support the format in favour of more modern technologies.

Web designers now have a broader range of animation tools available to them, making animations, but also more efficient in terms of file size – allowing us to keep website loading times to a minimum. An ideal pairing!

2. Moving away from “the grid” of web design

Mobile-friendly websites have been around for a relatively long time now – in the scheme of the digital world, anyway! – and many are built on a grid system which denotes the relative width of columns for content for different screen sizes.

We suspect that 2018 will see a move towards more assymetric, quirkier layouts for pages, allowing more creative art direction on pages.

3. Vibrant colours

We’re expecting to see much bigger use of bold colours and unusual and striking colour contrasts on websites in 2018.

One thing to beware of with unusual colour palettes is their contrast – poor contrast between text and background colours can cause a lot of issues for accessibility, particularly for those website visitors with colour blindness.

4. A larger focus on serif typefaces

Web designers have typically stuck largely to sans-serif typefaces (i.e., more rounded fonts without “feet” (serifs) on letters) for the web, as they tend to be easier to read. We think 2018 will see more prevelant use of serif fonts, especially with the development of web fonts via tools such as Google Fonts.

Whatever 2018 brings, we can be sure it’ll be another exciting year in web design and development.