The 5 coolest business apps of 2019.

Beacon13 - web design and digital media. here's our top 5 coolest apps for business.

We have the pleasure of working alongside the most ELITE businesses in Northern Ireland, so we asked over 100 NI businesses, which business software proves most successful for their business…

1. MailChimp

MailChimp is one of the biggest names in email marketing software, unlike virtually all competitors, MailChimp offers a free plan. As in permanently free.

Newsletters, Campaigns with Built-in analytics

Mailchimp is a email marketing tool, basically it allows you to regularly engage with your audience via the use of email. This usually involves sending out a regular email newsletter with updates, special offers, information and advice. If you have a blog it would also include links to your latest blog posts.

Email marketing is absolutely key in reaching your potential customer base. It is the cornerstone of building a digital business.

Beacon13 recommends MailChimp for email marketing.

2. Quotient

Quotient is super-intuitive online quoting software that lets you create, send and manage your quotes. You’ll save time and make more money with Quotient. Need we say anymore!

Beacon13 recommends Quotient for quoting software for small to medium businesses!

Great looking Quotes with a competitive edge

Your quotes will look great, and receiving them over email makes doing business easy for your customer. The whole process can give you the edge you need over any potential competitors.

Easily add images, files or website links directly on your Quotes, and give your customer everything they need to make a decision.

3. Xero

Xero is beautiful accounting software that helps you do mundane bookkeeping tasks faster, so you can enjoy more time doing the things that matter to you.

Beacon13 recommends Xero for Accounting software, for making tax digital!

Accounting software for “on the go”, simple and effective.

Xero can automatically handle tasks that used to take up all of your time. From importing bank transactions to sending invoice reminders, we’ll do the work for you.

With all your data stored safely and in one place, it’s easy to get a snapshot of how your business is tracking. You can also invite your accountant or bookkeeper into Xero so they’ll ensure you meet all your tax obligations.Make payroll a walk in the park!

Look after your staff with Xero Payroll and drive profitability on your projects with Xero Projects. It’s fully integrated with Xero so you can keep all your business information in one handy place.

It’s easy to access all your data and Xero tools from anywhere – just connect to the internet. Plus, keep all your essentials like invoicing and payroll at your fingertips with Xero’s mobile app.

4. Twilio

If you have used online banking, Airbnb, or Netflix, you have probably used Twilio. In fact, Twilio powers communications for over 40,000 businesses around the world.

Beacon13 recommends Twilio for text alerts to engage customers.

Text alerts for your customers

Simply put, Twilio is a developer platform for communications. Software teams use Twilio APIs to add capabilities like voice, video, and messaging to their applications. This enables businesses to provide the right communications experience for their customers.

Behind Twilio APIs is a Super Network, a software layer that connects and optimises communications networks around the world. This is what allows your users to reliably call and message anyone anytime.

With Twilio, you can reach customers in the ways they prefer, and engage with them effectively using context related to that interaction. As customer experience can increasingly make or break your brand, programmable communications has become more crucial than ever to the success of businesses today.

5. Sitechecker Pro

Good SEO is vital for any business website

Compliance with search engine guidelines is an important factor for the success of your website. The Sitechecker Pro analyses your website and gives you tips on optimising your site for a long-term success in search engine optimisation.

Beacon 13 - recommends that every business do a SEO checker on their website. Every website in today's world should have GOOD to excellent SEO.

Simply, to implement good SEO practices, its great to have a tool that’s got your back. Did I mention that it’s FREE?…

Beacon13 are digital professionals, we are here to help your business grow digitally. If you’re thinking about a website refresh, or need a partner in digital , give us a call today on: 02879549627. 

Here’s 5 reasons Woo-Commerce can turn your website into a revenue machine.

Woo-Commerce - Business eCommerce store - Beacon13
Woo-Commerce, Let Beacon13 transform your eCommerce website into a online revenue machine.

What is Woo-Commerce?

It’s a plugin for WordPress that will transform any website into a very powerful online store. It has everything you need all under one roof. It’s simple to use, robust & secure. Think of it as your online business revenue machine.

So…What’s the BIG deal?

You could pretty much sell anything and it’s incredible easy to use! If you want to sell something, you can sell it with Woo-Commerce. That includes physical products, digital products, subscriptions, appointments, and much more.

Woo-Commerce is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms worldwide.

It’s Free… Yup Free as a bird.

Woo-Commerce is competitive with leading enterprise eCommerce applications, but because it’s free, any business or entrepreneur can take advantage of it. Now that’s what you call a level playing field.

Unlimited Plugins & Awesome Features.

Just like WordPress, Woo-Commerce includes an extensive range of features that can be extended with the addition of plugins. Businesses who use Woo-Commerce benefit from access to thousands of WordPress plugins & themes as well as hundreds of eCommerce-specific extensions built just for Woo-Commerce. It’s your one stop shop.

Woo-Commerce, you'll find everything you need. - Call Beacon13 today - for some crucial advice on eCommerce.
With over 100+ plugins associated with Woo-Commerce, you’ll find everything you need.
Are you ready for Tax going Digital?

When managing an online store with payments, security is crucial. Woo-Commerce is built on WordPress, the software that runs 26% of the web. Regularly audited by Sucuri, an industry leader in security, so you can rest assure you’re in good hands.

Tax is going digital in Early 2020, every business owner, self employed or sole trader you should be thinking about taking payments online, whether you are a retailer, accountant, estate agent, builder, hairdresser or a charity everyone should take payment’s online!

The simplicity for both you and your customer/client is undeniable, they pay quickly, you get paid fast. Online payments give you the added backup of invoices and statements stored online, perfectly ready for that dreaded tax return!

Payment Gateways - WooCommerce, Beacon13 - Digital Media.
Over 100 payment methods available.
You can design the way YOU want.

Not only does Woo-Commerce have endless themes to suit most, you can totally customise your Woo-Commerce store to stand out from the crowd. Pretty awesome isn’t it? Not only do you have all the Themes to help begin, but you can ideally create your own awesome design, with the help of the experts…

Awesome Analytics & SEO built in.

We all know the importance of SEO and managing the growth of your business website with analytics. It’s hard staying on top of it all, with WordPress – Woo-Commerce, you have it all in the one manageable place.

Woo-Commerce - Built in - google Analytics and SEO Yoast
Woo-Commerce – Built in – Google Analytics and SEO.

The more you know about your customers and the way they interact with your store and its products, the better. Woo-Commerce have you covered.


Can any business website use Woo-Commerce?

Unfortunately Woo-Commerce is an eCommerce plugin for WordPress websites. Good News is we can help…check out our article on WordPress for everything you need to know about WordPress websites.

Get a Quick Quote to change your current business website to a WordPress site & join the 2.3 million eCommerce websites around the world.

In short, because Woo-Commerce provides a complete eCommerce solution that is fast, easy to use, and can adapt to the needs of any eCommerce business, it’s bloody amazing and if your not on it already… I would recommend it. I’ve had my fair share of eCommerce platforms… and this one ticked all my boxes.

If you are struggling with your current eCommerce website or even thinking about taking payments online, talk to Beacon13, we can advise whats best for your business.

McKee’s Pies kicks off a new era with home delivery and on line store.

mckees website with beacon13. directors conor o'kane and paul gibson

McKee’s started off as a traditional family butchers in 1898. Over 120 years later they’re bringing their traditional recipes on line with a new website and home delivery service.

The elite butchers (based in Maghera) have seen a steady growth of the company from the mid 80s. The growth came mainly from a timely response to changing times.

order on line mckees pies
start your order now at McKeesPies.com

McKee’s started producing pies and convenience foods just around the time that women (Sorry gents, but that’s who did the shopping in those days) were looking for such products.

McKee’s pies, stuffing and scotch eggs are now household names across Northern Ireland. And the company delivers these products to over 150 stockists as well as selling direct to the customer from their Maghera base.

When opportunity strikes…

It’s in the “direct to the customer” part that McKee’s have noticed an opportunity. McKee’s have a wonderful brand, a loyal local customer base and a fleet of vans on the roads every day. This lends itself naturally to a home delivery service.

McKees new website at mckeespies.com

The missing piece of the pie? (forgive the pun)… A shiny new website that allows customers to order McKee’s products on line. This is where Beacon13 comes in. The Beacon13 team have created a WordPress website with Woo-commerce, Paypal Payments, Email alerts and more.

We’ve added all of McKee’s product lines and worked with the McKee’s team to create packages for family dinners, occasions and parties. We’ve given the website some of McKee’s branding and styling to reflect their shop, the factory and product packaging.

All in all, providing the same wonderful McKee’s experience, but now on your phone or desktop from the comfort of your own home.

No mean feat.

McKee’s understand that a new approach to the sale of their product won’t be easy. Although the company is well versed in selling their products in-store and to their trade customers, the internet sales and home delivery service will be a whole new challenge.

McKee’s will initially trial the service to the (very) local market first. Only addresses within a 20 mile radius can avail of the home delivery service at present. This will allow McKee’s to build up an understanding of their customers expectations when it comes to ordering on line.

Ultimately McKee’s want to offer the same level of quality on line as they do in-store. So they’ve given themselves a little time to make sure this happens.

Beacon13 will be on hand to help them perfect their new digital venture.


Try out McKee’s new home delivery service at www.mckeespies.com

Credit Unions in NI are turning to Fintec for cyber security & disaster recovery.

credit unions in ireland it support and cyber security

Fintec Limited is a growing IT support company based in Bellaghy. The Mid-Ulster team has developed a niche with Credit Unions in Northern Ireland & the border counties. A unique blend of IT experience, knowledge and cyber-security skills has positioned Fintec as the “go to” team for Credit Unions.

Fintec specialise in providing managed IT solutions including hardware, email, back-up and security. They offer Credit Unions; on line and off-line support and a dedicated IT specialist. Fintec is now actively working with over 30 credit unions.

Business Continuity Planning & Disaster Recovery

BCP (Business continuity plans) are essential for all businesses they prepare your organization for times of emergency or disaster, BCPs make sure that your business operations are still running should the unthinkable happen.

Fintec also offers a disaster recovery service for when the unthinkable happens to help credit unions get their business get back on track.

“We focus on keeping all your critical business functions operational by implementing firewalls to stop cyber attacks, installing back up drives and back up servers.”

Brian Rea – Fintec
credit unions in derry, antrim, tyrone and down are proud to call their Fintec their long term IT partner for security.
Derry Credit Union – just one of Fintec’s many Credit Union contracts.

Cyber Security

Cyber security consists of technologies, processes and controls designed for the purpose of protecting your system, networks and data from cyber attacks. Proper implementation of cyber security greatly reduces the risk of cyber security.

Fintec offers a vast knowledge and experience in cyber security implementation and the best measures for preventing such attacks from happening.

Working with Credit Union’s existing software

Fintec has substantial experience in working with typical software packages used at Credit Unions in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Software like Zion, Cumis relationship management and Abacus fern software are just some of the packages that Fintec is happy to integrate their hardware with.


Does your credit union need managed IT support, cyber security or disaster recovery?

You can arrange a free audit at: fintecltd.com/credit-unions

The almighty power of SEO…

Business Owners - Let's Talk about SEO

SEO helps small business owners create fast, robust, and user-friendly websites that rank higher in search engines, which in turn helps bring more qualified potential customers to their sites and eventually increases conversion rates. In many respects it’s simply quality control for websites.

Here’s 3 tips on boosting your website with SEO.

Keyword Research – It all begins with words typed into a search box. Keyword research is one of the most important and valuable in the search marketing field. Ranking for the right keywords can make or break your website. By researching your market’s keyword demand, you can not only learn which terms and phrases to target with SEO.

Keep it simple – Well-structured, clean, and uncluttered websites compels a casual visitor to stay longer, thereby decreasing bounce rate and increasing page views. Build relevant content and solve their problems, they came to your site for a reason, make it happen!

Implement your keyword research – Make sure your keywords are within your meta descriptions and meta-tags, titles, headings. Oh and check your URL slug, make sure it’s simple and relevant.

Besides, one of the main reasons for having a website is to stand out from your competition and increase sales.

More traffic, more engagements, more sales.

For small business owners SEO is the KEY to digital success.

Check your websites SEO ranking  here :

Ready for the next level? Call or email Beacon13 – We’re your SEO experts.

3 secrets in digital that your competitors aren’t looking at. (Yet!)

3 digital secrets 2019

Anything to get one up your competitors, win new business, learn grow and innovate at the same time… Surely that can’t be bad. Here’s 3 things in the wacky world of the web and digital marketing that your competitors are missing out on…

1. Bing

Yes Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. Everyone wants to be number 1 in Google, but no one really thinks about it’s little sister: Bing. Bing currently accounts for around 12.5% of searches. And Bing is now the main search provider for Amazon’s echo devices.

digital search engines like google and bing - optimise your business for Bing search in belfast and northern ireland

Also, Bing & Yahoo are the same thing! So anything you do on Bing will also work on Yahoo. Putting the same thought into Bing as you would Google could allow you to capture customers and leads that your competitors are overlooking.

What can you do today? – Create a Bing business listing. (similar to the way you would in Google. And carry out some test searches in Bing to see how you fair out. Ask your web team to help you appear more prominently in Bing. )

2. Instagram

Instagram is fast becoming the world’s #1 social media platform. Many experts believe it will surpass Twitter (currently #2) in the near future and replace Facebook (currently #1) in the years to come. As internet users become more and more visual, the ultimate app for photos and video is where you can really get one up on the competition.

digital and social media marketing - how to make Instagram work for your business belfast

“But Instagram’s not really for me or my business” – I hear you say. Well, good luck with that outlook. So your “customers are older” perhaps? Well- the new ones will be on Instagram. “None of my competitors are on Instagram” – Hello! Then you should really be on there! Clean up where they’ve overlooked!

What can you do today? – Create a business account on Instagram. And start posting! Start of with some office or factory pics. Then perhaps a photo op with a new client. Now add some of those photos from your last award ceremony. Now an info graphic of how your business works. Now take a few photos of your new product line. Now you’re getting it!! And tag your location and add some industry relevant hashtags. You’ll be winning new business from Instagram in no time.

Bonus points – Boost your post to your target audience and showcase your work to thousands of potential clients. Also consider adding and Instagram gallery to your website.

3. Video

Yes, yes, everyone suggests video. And everyone agrees it’s great. But very few of you actually do anything about it. There’s 2 parts to using digital video successfully for your business. a) The video itself (the content, the production) and b) The promotion of sed video. (There’s no point in a great video if no-one sees it!)

digital professional video production with drones, dslrs, professional lenses, professional editing software - and awesome promotional tools - this WILL WIN NEW BUSINESS.

The production – You MUST create a video that people actually want to watch. Not just showcasing your business or products or services. The video must have some good music, a voice over perhaps. Some b-roll and cinematic shots. It should be shot with good lighting and sound. And preferably have a script. i.e. A start, a middle and an end!

“Don’t get us wrong, it doesn’t have to be an winning masterpiece. And there’s nothing wrong with shooting on your phone. (The digital camera and sound tech on a good iPhone in 2019 is pretty awesome in-fact.) But please, think about lighting and sound. “

The promotion – This is the fun part. Once you’ve got a decent video, now post it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. Blow the cobwebs off your wallet and spend a little to showcase your video to everyone that counts. With a cpl pf hundred quid you can showcase your video to 10’s of thousands. Try and get teh same coverage on TV and see what your bill looks like!

What can you do today? – Hire a team to make a corporate video for you. A short 3 minute video about you and your business. Ask them to add it your website and promote on social media to your target audience. Have a good “call o action” at the end of your video.


Want to stick it to your competitors? And really ramp up on digital? Talk to us at Beacon13 about your business. We’ve got great rates on business websites, seo, social media and year round support for our business customers.

Https – What is it? And why is it important.

https-important-beacon13

Google wants it. Firefox complains when it’s not there. So what’s the main advantages of https? Why do i need it? And where do I get it?…

What the hell is it?

HTTPS is a secure version of HyperText Transfer Protocol or HTTP for short. The ‘S’ stands for Secure.

It is a method for ensuring secure communication between a user’s browser and a web server. It is often recognised as showing a green address bar or padlock in the browser window to indicate a secure connection.

In short, it makes your website and transactions on it secure and encrypted.

Why do i need it? 

Chrome, Safari and Firefox are making it very clear to users if your website is secure or not. Having https setup correctly will display a little padlock symbol against your domain name. This, if nothing else – suggests you care about your users and potential customers enough to make their transactions and information secure.

Why would anyone give information over a non secure website? This is 2019. In fact they may just leave the site.

I don’t have an e-commerce store, do I still need it?

Again, Yes is the short answer. It’s not critical but it not only makes transactions safe and secure. It will…

  • Speed up your website
  • Improve your Google positioning
  • Look better to your customers and potential customers.

Google is still putting pressure on websites to improve their security. The search engine giants issued a ‘final warning’ in October 2018, which shows that strengthening the SEO impact of HTTPS is being taken very seriously,and so you should think about making the security switch sooner rather than later.

How much does it cost?

Costs vary depending on your hosting configuration but generally it will cost around £100 per year. And a web team might charge a small fee for configuring it for you.

How can I get it setup?

Your first port of call should be your web team or designer. If you’ve setup the website yourself, then try your domain host. Often setting up https can be a tricky process and then there’s a little work involved in re-submitting your website to search engines when the job’s done.

If you need any help please don’t hesitate to contact us at: www.beacon13.com

Selling Christmas turkeys on-line.

turkey e-commerce

When you mention e-commerce, the  first products that spring to mind are perhaps laptops and i phones or flights and hotel rooms. If you told us 6 months ago that we’d selling thousands of turkeys on-line we’d probably have laughed. It seems that our customer’s users did not have the same misconceptions.

For the last few months we’ve been working on not 1 but 2 busy websites that have channelled their focus at this time of year to selling Turkeys and Christmas dinner packages to their clients. with all orders and payments taking place on-line. 

Both McKee’s Country Store and Bradleys of Maghera have been very in-tune with the needs of their customers. They’ve identified that a large portion of their customer base are more than happy to order their Christmas dinner packages on-line. Taking (at least a little of) the hassle out of Christmas. 

McKee’s Country Store & Restaurant

McKee’s is a successful Farm Shop in the Holywood Hills just outside Newtownards. With a great history, tradition and loyal customer base they’ve decided to make things as easy for their customers as possible, allowing to choose from a section of Christmas dinner packages and pay online.

Customers can collect their Turkeys, Veg and desserts on Christmas Eve with a fast track service setup to make the process as hassle free as possible.

Bradley’s Outside Catering & Deli

Bradley’s of Maghera offers more of a deli service for their customers. Understanding their customers they’ve opted to create individual Christmas dinner packages and desserts. They’ve made these available on their website and promote the service on social media.

In both cases Beacon13 has designed, configured and supported the websites, e-commerce stores and payment gateways responsible for this surge of Turkey sales. We hope that no vegan extremists will target us for the death of so many birds. 

Considering e-commerce? 

Beacon13 not only designs and develops world class e-commerce solutions, we also support our clients with growing their business on-line and promoting their new stores. So please feel free to get in touch to discuss your project.

A social media strategy with the Loughs Agency.

Loughs agency digital strategy

The Loughs Agency (based in Derry~Londonderry, on the banks of the river Foyle) is a body that supports and governs marine wildlife and leisure activities in and around Lough Foyle and Carlingford Lough.

In 2018 Beacon13 was commissioned to design, deliver and support a new social media strategy for the agency. The agency would be addressing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn & YouTube. 

As with any strategy or plan we had to establish a baseline. (You must know where you’re at before you can plan where you’re going!). We completed a full report on followers, views, subscribers and friends on social media. 

We then set out to establish the state of each profile and roles on the platform. As with many companies & organisations, we often find a number of accounts on each platform. Sometimes used for departments or brands but often unnecessary.  

We went about consolidating various accounts to give the agency one clear voice on social media. All relevant parties were given access and roles as required.

The agency had a re-branding exercise in conjunction with the new social media strategy. So all profiles needed new logos, background images and associated graphics. 

Once we had all of the above in place we worked with the agency to establish how much time and resources they had to commit to social media. We established their short term and long term goals.

Matching up these two things allowed us to create a strategy for posts, comments, replies, video uploads and post content over time. We also created a schedule and plan for sed activities. 

The Loughs Agency is now well underway with their new strategy and meeting real tangible targets as well as reporting effectively to their board on progress.

We’d like to thank the Loughs Agency for their commitment to Beacon13 and we look forward to supporting them in the future.

5 reasons we love WordPress

wordpress website developers northern ireland

WordPress runs 32% of the internet. More and more of our client’s are asking about WordPress websites and updates. Here’s 5 reasons why…

5. WordPress Plugins allow you to create functionality to suit your business. There’s simple plugins for maps and social feeds but there’s also more complex plugins for property sales, job listings, e-commerce and more. The majority of which are free to install. (Often some functionality is kept for a premium version though.) One of the best plugins is Woo-commerce which essentially turns your website into an e-commerce platform.

4. Yoast makes search optimisation(SEO) super easy. Yoast is a plugin for WP that allows you to change meta data, titles, keywords and descriptions that appear in Google and search engines. Yoast will give you tips to improve your page to better appear in searches. (All you need to to do is get green lights!)

wordpress seo yoast

3. Blogging is still awesome for content marketing. Regular blogging allows you to create and share original content about your business. The added bonus of blogging on your WP site is that your creating loads of relevant content for Google. In short, Google loves blogs!

2. It’s free! Well technically. It’s free to download and install WordPress. And around 90% of the plugins are also free. The cost comes when you’re considering hosting. Hosting a WordPress website requires a little more resources than a static website. (Mostly because there’s a database attached so effectively you’re hosting a website and a database.)

1.  It’s super easy to use! Yep, the number 1 reason our client’s use WordPress and the number 1 reason we’d recommend it is that it’s it sooooo easy to use. Every blogging dashboard in the world has been loosely based on the WP dashboard. It’s simple, clean and work’s nicely on all devices.

Continue reading “5 reasons we love WordPress”