Users on social media expect unique and engaging images that will draw them in and encourage them to respond to your post. This is sometimes best accomplished by a great graphic design that will make people want to share your image. Fortunately there are plenty of apps available to help you create interesting graphics for your posts.
Canva – One of the most useful tools for visual design especially for business owners and entrepreneurs is Canva. This is an app that is easy to use for people with limited design skills who want to create a custom image. You can use the app to choose a layout, search for images, purchase stock photos, add visual effects and customize the color scheme and font to match your brand.
PiktoChart – If you are looking to make your own infographics for your social media posts then Piktochart might be the best app to choose. You can also use the app to make reports, banners and presentations in addition to infographics. There are built in templates to choose from that you can easily customize and edit in order to match your brand’s color scheme and themes.
QuotesCover- Posting quotes on your social media sites can be a great way to capture people’s attention and inspire them. QuotesCover is an app that allows users to create beautiful quote graphics so that you can add a design element to personal or famous quotes that you want to share. Within the app you can choose a layout, add your quote, add a photo or choose a plain background and customize the color and font.
Whatever type of graphics you are hoping to post on your site, there are apps that specifically cater to what you are looking for and make it easy to customize and design unique images.
Design trends are always evolving. What’s old eventually becomes new again and what’s new quickly becomes old and trite. We foresee a trend of big, bold and unexpected elements in web design. Take a look for yourself:
Unexpected Type and Font
Helvetica? Please… there is much more variety out there. Introducing the idea of monospaced font type, where characters are all the same width. This is in contrast to traditional fonts that are all proportional to each other.
Something mundane as text, font size and color can certainly transform your website. Non-traditional fonts will stand out among standard fonts and give your website a pop of personality. Handwritten, mismatched, matte and flat – the idea is to think outside the box, interesting, playful and yet professional.
A Big Focus Encourages Scrolling and a Main Point of Focus
Gone are the days of 2, 3 or even 4 column design templates. Nothing says “cluttered” and “outdated” like a whole bunch of jumbled boxes on your screen. In a way, responsive design has forced designers to simplify. It has also forced designers to think about 3 different templates with 1 look: desktop, tablet and mobile. This works out to everyone’s advantage because responsive templates often point out one main area of focus.
This way, visitors are more likely to pay attention and scroll for more information. They aren’t confused or looking for more, but reading and focusing on the one point that’s in front of them… much needed in today’s world of technological distractions!
You either hate them or love them but we can’t stress this one enough. Even at the tail end of last year, giant headers were making their way into the design world. A bold header leaves a lasting impression. A well thought out header is impressive because it combines the elements of being aesthetically pleasing, as well as completely functional. With a new, big and bold header, you can really incorporate all of the design trends mentioned above to your website home page. And it also goes without saying that while bigger is better, you have to keep page speed and load time in mind with these giant headers.
Radware recently released a report and infographic on e-commerce web page performance. From their findings of 2000 top retailers, 22% of the sites included were found to be slower than they were in 2012! Shocking? In terms of load time and usability, not even top retail stores were not keeping up. It doesn’t help that websites are becoming more complicated as businesses try to cram everything they can onto one page.
Here are some other notable finds:
– Since 2012, load times suffered across all 3 browsers (Firefox 17, Chrome 23 and Internet Explorer 9)
– The median page is 28% slower than the previous year
– The median load time for the top 2000 sites was 7.25 seconds (using IE 9), 22% slower than the previous year
– Only 25% of top 2000 e-commerce sites in the report use CDN (content delivery networks)
If your site is suffering from slow speeds, it could be a result of many things: unorganized site structure, lack of image/file compression, bad website hosting, relying on too many script requests, messy HTML code, using too many ads, and much more. Contact us for a free website evaluation today.
Thinking of hiring a Los Angeles web design company? Here are 7 questions to think about before you hire a web designer for your small business:
1) Can you show me websites you’ve worked on? – Ask to see a portfolio and find out whether they use templates or build web sites from scratch. Make sure to be clear as you’re describing what you’re looking for to make sure that they can meet your needs.
2) Can I get a quote? – Will your designer give you a quote based on a list of everything you want? Or will a number just magically appear out of thin air? It’s important to get down in writing exactly what you want and to make sure that the designer can make it happen. For example, if you have special accommodations, such as an online store or different types of contact/subscription forms.
3) How long will it take to complete the project? – Tied into question 3, your web designer should give you a basic timeline of how long it will take to create a new website design. Ask them to prepare a basic outline of what will be done on a regular basis to ensure that your website is created in a timely manner.
4) Are you familiar with any other forms internet marketing? – Nowadays, many web designers are also proficient in SEO. Having a search friendly web design means that the designer will create code that is easy to index and crawl. Many web design companies also work with SEO to ensure that your site will get maximum visibility.
5) How and when can I contact you? – Is your web designer or company easily reached? Would you rather talk to them on the phone, via email or meet face to face to discuss timelines? Many companies and individuals work in different ways, so make sure that you know what you’re getting into.
6) How is a new design layout going to help my small business? – Lastly, an effective web designer should be goal-oriented in helping your business succeed. What do you want from your new website? Here are a few things you might consider: increase web site traffic, reduce bounce rates, increase phone calls, increase sales, increase in inquiries or subscriptions.
Hiring someone or a company to create a new site for your business consists of more than just pretty graphics. This doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process, but make sure to have these questions (and more) ready as you find the answers you’re looking for.
Follow the Breadcrumbs
If you’re looking to improve your web design and site navigation, breadcrumbs are a good place to start.
Breadcrumbs refer to navigation links that help visitors see where they are on your site. Do the home > resources> articles etc. links look familiar?
Like in the classic fairy tale, these links are named after the breadcrumbs Hansel and Gretel left as they made their way into the woods so that they could find their way back. Depending how much content you have and how deep it’s buried within your site, it’s easy to see how visitors can get lost.
Some argue about the value of breadcrumbs and say that they are not used by average users. Breadcrumbs take only a second to implement on each page and I think the effort is worth it. You can also use Google Analytics to see where visitors are clicking on EVERY page of your site. I find that the majority of clicks will go Home, Contact, and social media icons but it may differ for your site.
More Reasons to Love Your Breadcrumbs
Your customers will appreciate it when they can get to the place they want while using the least amount of clicks possible. Breadcrumbs can also help reduce the bounce rate on your site. For example, let’s say a new user has come across an article on your site and finds it interesting. As shown in the image above, they may continue looking for more information by clicking the Resources and Articles categories. While the neat-freak in me loves the organization and visual look of breadcrumbs, I like them even more because they’re so useful to customers. And anything that will encourage more people to stay on your site longer is always a good thing!
Have you noticed the influx of smart phones hitting the market? It seems that every week, there’s another new, highly sought after phone. This gives consumers more power and choice but it also means that your business needs a mobile friendly website now more than ever.
About 31% of cell-phone owners have a smartphone and you can bet that the number will continue to grow and you can bet that it means more internet browsing on a mobile screen. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re planning your mobile web design:
Keep your mobile site and landing pages simple and straight to the point. You may also want to do testing on different browsers and different mobile devices, because not every smart phone owner has an iPhone!
Use text but not too much of it. If you’re thinking of images with text and fancy buttons and other graphics, you should really reconsider. Depending on what area I’m in, the weather and numerous other factors, my cell phone internet speed can be slooow as… dial-up? If your customer has a slow load time on your website, that can almost always ensure that they’ll bounce away
Adapt to your audience. Many businesses and brands opt for creating a mobile site that is completely different from what their regular site looks like on a normal desktop. Some experts believe that this could actually dissatisfy them. Instead, you can code your site so that it automatically adjusts to the screen size of the device, whether it’s smartphone, tablet, or netbook.
Just like a normal website, there is no one formula you can follow for success. The grounds for an effective mobile website seems even more flexible nowadays, especially because it all depends on your business and type of customers. Feel free to share any helpful links and resources if you have them. For you CSS fans, here’s a good article from Smashing Magazine that goes into more detail about building a successful mobile site.
Springtime is the perfect for new beginnings and we’ve started ours with a brand new site! What do you think of the new web design?
If you’re thinking about a new website for your business, here are somethings you SHOULD definitely plan for:
Interesting and organized – Does your website catch your visitor’s eye? Vivid graphics are a great way to hook them in. Next organization of your content will reel them in and keep them on your site for longer.
Easy to contact and clear calls to action – Different customers like different things. That’s why it’s important to have immediate online contact, like in a form or live chat, and a local number where they can speak to a live person. For most businesses, the ultimate goal is to have that customer pickup the phone and call, so don’t forget to remind them!
Helpful and informative – This part probably doesn’t make sense to some. As they see it, why should they “give away” something for free when they could be charging for it? The bigger picture in having helpful resources is that you’re showcasing your expertise in a niche area. This isn’t to say that you should give it ALL away but loosen up. (On that note, are you interested in some social media tips or SEO articles?)
Get personal – History, testimonials, FAQs? Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be ALL about business as you showcase a little bit more about your company. I’ve seen many sites with neighborhood news, favorite charities, personal interests – all which helps in giving your brand a more human and personable touch.
The point of inspiration – Amazing graphics, wonderful services and engaging videos! What else does a customer need? After visiting your site, customers should be inspired and really see how they can benefit from your product or service. Even if they don’t make a final decision then and there, the important thing is to plant that thought in their mind and standout!
What other elements do you think should be included in effective website design? Feel free to let us know what you think about our new site. And if you’re interested in a makeover for your own site, take advantage of our FREE site analysis today!
Even after you reach the oh-so coveted #1 spot in search engine results page, your work is not done! Here are a few things that you still need to keep an eye on to make the most of your top ranking position:
Customer service – Are you ready to pick up the phone and help potential customers? Wait… before all that, make sure that your contact information is easy to find and up to date. If you use contact forms and have undergone recent site changes, check them to make sure that they still work work! There’s nothing worse than a customer inquiry that goes unanswered.
Search engine friendly web design – A well-optimized page and consistent SEO will help you maintain good rankings. This means that the search engines see that your site/pages are relevant with corresponding keywords and what business owner wouldn’t want that?
Search user friendly – Many sites have a bad habit of being too cluttered with content and other media. While these pages may help your SEO efforts, they can deter users. Content should be easy to find in appropriate sections so that your site is user-friendly. Imagine ranking #1 for a competitive keyword only to have users bounce away quickly from your site because they can’t find what they need!
PR and personality – Whether you utilize social media marketing or other forms of PR, it’s important to throw your brand name out there once in awhile. Press releases and social media not only help show your relevancy in your field but it also helps bring a personal touch to your business. Even in today’s world of overreliance on telecommuting and email, people do like to see the human side of your business. And yes, I think that you can also accomplish this with regular blogging.
What do you think are some other ways you can improve your site/marketing after reaching the #1 spot in SERPs?
If you ever wanted to preview a website before clicking on it, Google Instant Previews now gives you that option. Try it out for yourself. Just search for something in Google and click on the little magnifying glass icon. This will generate a preview of the site you’re thinking about clicking before you actually click on it. Check out the instant preview of Discover Los Angeles above.
Pretty cool, right? But some feel that the new Instant Previews is a double edged sword, as it can also mean “instant” rejection. Of course, you can avoid this by optimizing your website design for these new preview images. We’re talking about clean design and easy-to-read fonts.
What do you think about Google’s Instant Previews?
Your clients have a misunderstanding between web development and web design – ever had this problem? It’s important to explain the difference between these two services because the terms shouldn’t be used interchangeably.
What do you think is the best way to explain web development and web design?
An Eye for Website Design
When people talk about “web design”, they often refer to the look and feel of a site. This means all the creative and visual elements of a website. In (very) broad terms, web design can be like planning out something in print. This means arranging the layout of the site and other graphic elements. To what degree that designers should know how to code is highly debatable…
Web Development Is…
Web development usually refers to the programming of a site to ensure that everything is working. This occurs in the “back end” of the site where all the content is added. Developers use script languages like PHP to make this all happen. When it comes to coding and programming, web developers take it to another level to make sure that these designs are functional. Without efficient development, the vision of your web design can’t fully be realized.
Finding Balance with Search Engine Friendly Web Design
So now that you know that web development and design have to work together, what do you get? Search engine friendly web design is when your site is fully optimized for search engines, as well as human visitors. Customers will take interest in your appealing web design while developers make sure that they find what they are looking for and that it’s working. If you think that websites have to be one or the other, you’re wrong. Read our previous post on bad website design. Some people may consider the design aspect more of an art and the development part to be more technical. What’s wrong with having both sets of skills or wearing two different “hats”? Finding a balance can be a good thing.
Check out some more discussion on what designers and developers should know about their respective fields.