8 Hottest New Design Trends for Your Website

This was posted on October 29th, 2015

hot-trends

 

Design trends are always changing and always have been, and the internet’s no different. In fact, design trends tend to change even more quickly online.

If you’ve not redesigned your website in the last couple of years, you’re likely to be lagging quite some way behind. This can have a negative impact on your business and could easily be losing you money. Here are 8 web design trends which will help keep you up to date:

1. Flat-look design

Flat design has been tried out in many forms and has been very successful, with the new iPhone operating system, Windows 8 and the new Gmail layout (not to mention the new Google branding) all employing this almost-flat styling.

It strips away all the frills and nonsense and utilises simple typography, simple shapes and bold colours to convey a message clearly and simply — and that’s what web users want nowadays.

2. Hand-drawn illustrations

These are quirky and fun and jump out and catch the eye in an online world where photographs and carefully designed graphics are the norm. The rough and ready appeal of hand-drawn graphics can’t be easily replicated and as such gives a really unique feel to any website.

For businesses in creative industries or appealing to creative types, this is a superb way to get your message across and convey that creativity in a unique way.

3. Focus on typography

Typography is one of the most important parts of the internet right now, with huge importance being placed on the types of fonts being used to create a brand and make your website and its content stand out.

It’s not just a case of picking one which looks nice — it’s about the message it conveys. You’d be amazed how a simple change of font or typeface can have a huge impact on the sales and enquiries you’ll get through your website, which is why big brands pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get typefaces designed.

4. Quality images

It’s not just a case of grabbing some royalty-free images from a stock source, but creating high-quality images which convey a particular message. Superimposing different elements and text can have a huge benefit, too.

Simplicity is the key here, with use of colour and focusing of the eye being of extra importance. A careful, considered use of images can make a huge difference to your website.

5. Moving images and cinemagraphs

These are increasing in popularity and used to be known as ‘animated gifs’, but have been effectively rebranded as ‘cinemagraphs’. Rather than being animated cartoon-style images, these are effectively moving photographs.

Caution should be exercised here, as you don’t want to end up with your website looking like something fresh out of 1995.

6. Interactive stories

Infographics are a great way of getting a message across, and if it’s done in the form of a story it can be even more effective. People love stories and a big hook at the start can make people click on and run through the infographic.

Making sure users want to know what happens next is a vital way of hooking them in and funnelling them through into becoming a new lead, fan or customer.

7. Minimalist design, putting the user first

No longer is it a good idea to throw everything you can at users. They don’t want to see it all. They want the basics and that’s it. Give the users what they want, not what you think they want.

Extensive menus, submenus, sidebars and confusing navigation will do just that — confuse people. And you don’t want confused potential customers. Keep things simple and minimalist and watch your sales and enquiries skyrocket.

8. Re-workings of older trends

A lot of previous trends are still knocking about but in different, updated forms (see cinemagraphs, above). Some of the more popular re-worked trends included endless scrolling, which was originally designed for mobile users but has had huge success on desktop; and parallax scrolling, in which background elements move at a different speed to the foreground, which can be very effective when used properly.

 

If you want to speak to us about incorporating some of these cutting-edge design trends on your website, give us a call today and we’ll see what we can do for you.

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Is Your Website Costing You Money?

This was posted on October 26th, 2015

costing-money

 

 

Generally speaking, businesses have websites created because they want to generate more business and make more money through the web. However, a poorly designed website could actually be costing you money. Here are five ways in which your website could be causing you more problems than it’s solving:

1. Being slow to load

We have a tendency to think that if a site is slow to load that means it takes somewhere between 20 and 30 seconds. That’s extremely outdated, to say the least. Nowadays, in 2015, if your site doesn’t load in under 3 seconds, the vast majority of visitors will disappear and go to another site — probably your competitor. Usability studies have shown this to be true time and time again, so your site needs to load almost instantaneously or you’ll be losing money.

2. Huge images and bloated pages

This is very much tied into the point above, but is more easily rectified. Images should be compressed to ensure the file size is as small as possible, meaning it won’t add too much to the loading time of the page and will ensure that visitors stay on your website rather than disappearing off to your competitors. The file extension you use is important, too. Don’t just use jpgs for every image and assume that’s best — it’s often far too big for what’s needed.

3. Usage of third-party scripts and external coding

If you’re using Adsense, Google Analytics, Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons, YouTube plugins and various other external coding, this is likely to add a huge load to the amount of time it takes for your website to appear. You should defer external scripts to load after the rest of the page has appeared or, even better, get rid of everything that’s not essential in order to keep your site lean and clean.

4. Hidden or late-loading CTAs

Your call-to-action (or CTA) is what you want your users to click on to take an action. It’s the button that says ‘buy now’, ‘subscribe’ or ‘call us’. This is the target you want all website users to complete, so ensuring it is displayed prominently and loads early is absolutely vital to your website working for you. If not, it could be losing you money.

5. Pop-ups! Pop-ups everywhere!

If you’ve got a big ‘JOIN OUR MAILING LIST’ or ‘GET MY FREE WHITEPAPER’ popups appearing as soon as someone enters your website, the statistics show that they’re likely to just click off and go elsewhere. They didn’t join your mailing list, didn’t want your whitepaper and could well have been a potential customer who you’ve just put off. Think of it like a high-street shop. A potential customer walks in the door. Do you run over and scream in their face ‘HERE, HAVE A FREE WHITEPAPER. SIGN HERE TO JOIN MY MAILING LIST TOO’? No, so don’t do it online either.

We have years of experience in knowing what works online and what doesn’t, and the fact is that online behaviours and requirements are changing constantly. For that reason, you need a web design company which keeps on top of the latest developments and can ensure that your website continues to work for you and doesn’t lose you money — in fact, we can help you make sure that your website creates new business and does the job it was meant to do. Call us today for more information.

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Mindblowing Internet Usage Stats in 2015 and What They Mean

This was posted on October 23rd, 2015

mindblowing

 

 

Each year, the Office for National Statistics releases data on internet usage for households and individuals — something which may sound very dry but is actually vital for anyone running a website or an online business. After all, if you’re looking to target internet users as potential customers, you want to know what they’re up to.

The most startling fact, perhaps, was that the internet was accessed every single day by 78% of UK adults in 2015. Compared with just 35% of them in 2006, this is an astonishing increase that shows just how connected we are every day of our lives.

A remarkable 96% of people aged 16 to 24 access the internet ‘on the go’, or in other words on their mobiles or tablets. This is an enormous revelation for those who still think having a mobile-optimised website isn’t important. If your website isn’t optimised for mobile, you’re missing out on 96% of that segment of the market, which is not great business sense by any measure.

Social networking is also on the rise, being used by 61% of adults. This is one of the primary new routes of advertising and shows some excellent returns — growing each day in most industries. Of those 61%, a huge 79% access social media either every day or almost every day.

If you’re not yet selling online, you’re missing out. 76% of adults bought goods or services online in 2015, which is up from just 53% in 2008. Clothes and sporting goods were the items most often bought online, but the vast majority of industries saw a big increase in online sales. If you’re not selling online, you’re missing out on 76% of the market.

Over the past quarter, 22% of adults bought online just once or twice, with 28% of adults completing more than 11 transactions online, or more than roughly one a week. 42% of adults had made purchases totalling £100 to £499 in the past three months. This goes to show that high-value goods are also bought online in ever-increasing numbers.

And to show how Britain is becoming more and more connected, in 2006 only 57% of households had internet access. That’s now an astonishing 86%, which goes to show that the offline world is no longer where you should be concentrating your efforts. The internet and online shopping is now ubiquitous and needs to be the focus of your efforts if you’re to be successful in business in 2015, 2016 and beyond.

If you want to take advantage of the web and make it work for you and your business, contact us today for more information on how we can help you.

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Back to the Future Day is Here… And The Predictions Were More Accurate Than You Might Think…

This was posted on October 19th, 2015

back-to-the-future-day

 

 

The Back to the Future film franchise is one of the most successful in film history, with the three films still being amongst the most rented and bought movies in the world — thirty years on from the first film’s release.

Although the original film saw Marty McFly and Doc Brown going back in time to the 1950s, in Back to the Future Part II the pair go forward to October 21st 2015 — just two days away from today. The October 21st 2015 of the Back to the Future world had flying cars, hovering skateboards and some rather bizarre fashion developments, but how much did the writers predict correctly?

Undoubtedly, there was a lot of artistic licence involved on the part of the writers and they will have predicted most things in a very tongue-in-cheek manner.

No World Wide Web

Back To The Future II does of course predict some huge changes in technology, that many of us have lived through, but the Internet, arguably one of the biggest changes in modern technology was not even hinted at.

yahoo

Work on the Internet was well underway by the mid 80s although it was not until the end of the decade that the World Wide Web as we now know it began to emerge and the start of the 90s that the first websites became available.

Hoverboards

The thing we were all waiting for in 2015 was the hoverboard. We were practically promised them by BTTF2 and we were totally let down, right? Wrong. Lexus have, in fact, manufactured the world’s first genuine overboard.

lexus-hoverboard

Unfortunately for us, it’s unlikely to become an everyday reality until the world’s roads and pavements are adapted to contain huge magnets — something which is very unlikely to happen in the near future. However, I am sure Lexus have gained large amounts of publicity online with the whole venture.

Television Technology

backtothefuture-tv

Marty’s house in 2015 features a wall-mounted flatscreen TV (still a pipe dream in the 198os) which can display a number of channels at once and also shows video calling from a phone. The caller on the other end is shown swiping their credit card in a small scanner in order to send money to the other person. All of this is very possible and, in fact, routine now in 2015 if you use a little artistic licence with the phone’s credit card scanner and assume that to be Apple Pay. Interestingly, the film shows that outsiders are able to monitor and listen in to private phone calls… The less said about that the better.

Video Calls

Although the Internet is notable by its absence in Back to the Future 2, the film’s writers did manage to conjure up something that we are incredibly familiar with these days. Marty McFly talks to his boss via video call; something which could feasibly happen these days. Although, unlike in the film, we are not limited to making video calls from our big screen television. Programs like Skype have enabled us to make video calls from anywhere in the world, using our computer, smartphone or tablet.

skype-image

Self-lacing Shoes

nike-kicks

When Marty arrives in 2015 one of the first things he does it to put on a pair of self-lacing ‘sneakers’ and it is reported that this is something that Nike are working on. Whether this is simply a next viral marketing exercise or if it set to become reality it will be very interesting look out for.

Predictions that didn’t make it…yet

However, there were one or two pretty much rock-solid predictions by 1980s standards which fell flat on their face.

A newspaper headline headline reads “President Says She’s Tired” — no female president for the United States yet, but it’s looking ever-closer. In fact, it’s the ubiquity of newspapers in the fictional 2015 that looks most odd — not one character is reading the news on anything resembling a smartphone or tablet.

It’s also probably best that we don’t focus on the fashion aspect of BTTF2, too. Let’s just say most of the characters look like tinfoil-wearing mobile phone radiation conspiracists.

 

 

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Is Single Page Design the Future of the Web?

This was posted on October 15th, 2015

single-page-design

 

We’ve all seen websites that don’t have any sub-pages, menus or the usual, traditional hierarchical structure that many websites have. These single page designs, or pageless designs as they’re also often called, are popping up all over the place, but why?

Put simply, in the early days of the web it was usual for websites and online design to imitate print design. After all, that’s what people had been used to for hundreds of years: Separate pages for different types of content, a header at the top followed by the content, and so on. These archaic elements are finally being kicked into touch, though, as leading designers start to create websites that really innovate.

The fact is that people really don’t mind scrolling nowadays. What they don’t like is lots of clicking. We’re more than happy to scroll — you probably use ‘bottomless’ pages every day, especially if you scroll through Facebook or Twitter. Those pages don’t have bottoms, yet they’re the sites we use the most. What if you had to click on each person’s Facebook name to view their latest status? The chances are you probably wouldn’t.

Pageless designs tell a story in a logical order, rather than making you shift around the site to find out the story for yourself (and probably not in the order the designer or company who own the website intended you to). It’s easy to digest, intuitive and there’s no waiting for pages to load. The page seems less blunt, more designed and tailored to the end user and these are all enormous benefits when it comes to generating business through your website.

What’s more, these pages give much, much higher conversion rates on average. They’re shared more often on social media websites and have a much lower bounce rate. They also respond well across mobile devices and scale nicely for people using smartphones to browse the web — which most people do.

If your customers prefer it, why not give it to them? It’s also easier for you or your website design company to update as you only have one page to worry about. There’s no more worrying about menu structures and information architecture, either. Smart, pageless sites are generally much cheaper to create, load faster and force you to simplify your content (with all of the user experience and SEO benefits that brings).

It’s all food for thought, that’s for sure. Some of the statistics and studies into single page design are simply astounding, but we think that’d be better kept for another post. For now, though, it might be worth thinking about how pageless design could revolutionise your website…

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How Quality Content Could Revolutionise Your Site

This was posted on October 12th, 2015

 

quality-content

 

The phrase that’s been bandied about in recent years is that content is king. Most have us have heard that, but what does it mean and why is quality content even more important now than ever?

The fact of the matter is that websites such as Google are placing ever more importance on quality content. Poorly written articles, blog posts and content just won’t cut the mustard with Google. It’ll see your website as being inferior to those of your competitors and send users to them through the search results instead of to you. That’s the cold, hard truth.

So what is quality content and how do you create it? Google has published a whole raft of guidelines on quality content and how to avoid triggering bad content filters. Some of the worst things you can have on your website are:

  • Auto-generated content
  • Hidden text
  • Content scraped or copied from other sites
  • Pages with little or no content
  • Doorway pages
  • Pages loaded with irrelevant text or stuffed keywords

Unfortunately, a huge number of websites have at least one of these in place. Usually it’ll be little or no content or content that’s been used elsewhere online. If that’s the case, you need to revolutionise your content.

1. Make your content relevant and readable

Don’t use corporate speak — the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale is used by Google to ensure that easy-to-read sites are given a big boost over more complicated wording. Google is also starting to value longer articles and pages: in 2015 alone, the average text length of the top 30 ranking pages in Google searches has increased by 25% compared to 2014. You don’t need to be concise: make sure all of the information is there and readers will appreciate it if it’s done properly.

2. Write as an expert, but not as a dullard

This is more of a caveat on the previous point. Don’t write like a school kid, but don’t pretend you’re Professor Stephen Hawking either. You need to sound like an authority in your industry whilst still being accessible to the general reader or visitor. This is where a skilled copywriter really comes into his or her own.

3. Write for humans, not for Google

Don’t write your content with Google and SEO in mind. Write for human visitors. After all, Google’s main aim is to provide the best sites for human visitors. If you try to aim it at Google, that’s a very short-sighted approach and will likely backfire. Target human beings and Google will follow — and you won’t need to worry about algorithm changes tripping you up either.

Most importantly, you need to ensure you know your audience. How old are they? What’s their gender likely to be? What about their hobbies and interests? Educational background? Do they have children? Know your target market and ensure you’re creating your content around them. The tone of your writing should always be geared towards your target audience.

4. Focus on the user experience

This is tied into the point above, but you need to make sure that your whole site is structured towards the user experience. Make it easy for people to navigate through your content and allow them to spend more time on it.

Google knows how long people spend on your website — especially if they go back to Google straight after or use the Chrome browser or Google toolbar. If they leave your site seemingly unsatisfied, your rankings will suffer. If the majority of visits end in a phone call or form submission, you’re likely to see your rankings rise.

One of the areas in which people trip up is in telling everyone about the features of their products or services. Don’t do that. Instead, focus on the benefits those features can offer — especially over your competitors. So you can get out to my house inside 24 hours? OK, fine. What, that’s almost half the time any of the competitors can get there in? Great, you’ve got the job.

At the same time, you should know what objections potential customers might have (price, quality, safety) and address those before they even surface in their mind. Create trust and put them at ease.

5. Create naturally shareable, readable content

Simply writing articles and popping a few backlinks in doesn’t work as a lnikbuilding strategy any more. It’s all about content that people share on social networks, so create something cool that people will actually want to share and pass on. That way, you’re going to have SEO success. And we don’t mean things that you find cool as an industry insider; think of the general man on the street and what he’d want to share. Aim for that.

 

When all’s said and done, creating quality content is extremely difficult and the goalposts are moving all the time. Fortunately, professional copywriters and content writers are on hand to take the sting out of the tail and help you to create content that converts and will help boost your Google rankings.

For more information on how our professional copywriters and content writers can help revolutionise your website, call us today.

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6 Website Improvements You Don’t Need a Web Design Company For

This was posted on October 7th, 2015

6-improvementsThis might seem like a bit of an odd blog post for a web design company to be publishing, but we think it’s important to be clear and transparent. After all, there are a lot of simple improvements you can make to your website without having to hire a specialist web design company to do them for you. Here are our top 6:

1. Adding information

Your homepage needs to serve a function. It’s not simply the hub from which all other pages link, as the web has evolved and every page on your website is effectively a landing page.

Your homepage needs to respond to basic questions that people visiting the site will have. These are usually wanting to know what services you offer, what you charge and how you can help them. Don’t go selling your company (and definitely avoided the dreaded ‘Here at Company X, we…’ line). Speak to your customer, not from your company.

The five things you need to answer on your homepage are: Who are you? What do you do? What value can you offer potential customers? What makes you different? What should they do next?

2. No obvious forward movement

There needs to be a call to action on every page. Where do you want users to go once they’ve finished on that page? If you don’t tell them, they’ll tell you: they’ll go to another site. And probably a competitor’s site at that. Give them a big button that allows them to get in touch. Throw them your phone number. Give them a contact form. Anything to get them to move on to the next step. People won’t use your menus or automatically want to stick on your website — they’ll be off if you don’t give them a logical, real reason to stay.

The best way to handle this is to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What is the logical next step they’d want to take after viewing this content? If you’re the sort of person who answers ‘They’d want to find out about how our company was formed’ or ‘They’d want to see pictures of our directors and the industry accreditations they have’, firstly give yourself a slap round the face and secondly get someone else — who doesn’t work for your company – to put themselves in the shoes of a website visitor and answer the question.

3. A sign-up box or form with no introduction

Having a sign-up box or contact form in order to harvest email addresses is a fantastic marketing opportunity which you should definitely take advantage of. However, simply having a ‘sign up here’ market with a box and a submit button just won’t cut it.

Why should someone enter their email address? Would you do it with a strange company you’d never heard of? Who wants to sign up to a ‘company newsletter’? Answer: No-one. Give them something. Give them a reason to enter their email address. Will they get exclusive discounts? Free stuff? A call from a salesperson? Let them know!

4. Keep your content up to date

The importance of this really can’t be understated. If your website footer says ‘Copyright 2009’ or your latest news article is from 2013, how do customers know you’re still in business? We can tell you one thing: they sure as hell won’t phone you up to find out. They’ll go off to a competitor who they know’s still in business because they can see it from their website.

The bottom line is that if you don’t put the care and attention into something as simple as keeping your website up to date, the subconscious reading that potential customers get is that you won’t put the care and attention into your products or services either.

5. Don’t overwhelm them with content

What you don’t want is a plethora of buttons and menu choices all over the site. Keep it simple, give users a path through your website to find out the information they require and then get in touch with you. Anything else is extraneous, wastes your time writing or creating it and will likely put potential customers off.

If you keep things basic and simple, you’ll be rewarded by customers who haven’t had to spend hours trawling through a website. After all, the average time users spend on any given website is seconds. Surprised? Make sure you allow them to use those seconds wisely, then.

6. Confusing navigation

Do your website visitors really need to know the biographies of your directors? Nope, so get rid of that page. Do they want to see a testimonials page? Probably not, unless they’re time-travelling from 2003. Get rid of it. Do you need separate pages for Locations, Opening Times and Contact Us? No, they all belong on the same page.

Slim down your menu and navigation by getting rid of extraneous pages and merging them into clear, obvious sections where possible. If one of your menu items could quite legitimately go under another existing menu heading, put it there. People are quite happy to scroll these days. What they’re not happy to do is keep clicking from page to page.

 

Are you starting to spot some themes? As with most web design practices, it’s about keeping it simple and straightforward for the end user. People don’t want a laborious, confusing online experience. They are going online to look for products or services because they want it to be simple, straightforward and effective. Don’t make them go elsewhere.

Keep your content simple, customer-focused and streamlined. Never work from the inside out – always from the outside in. Work from what your customer wants to find out, not from what you want to tell your customer. The likelihood is there won’t be much crossover between the two and your customer will never feel connected to your company. And after all, that’s not a great business move.

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