Long gone are the days when a design agency could make a living by simply using a few templates to churn out functional websites – now if you want to have any chance of surviving in the ultra-competitive world of web design, you have to be able to create a website that captures the very essence of the business.
After all, in today’s world, it is much more than just about owning a website – it has to represent the company for what it is, including its core values and the message it wants to send. There’s a never ending conversation going on between the consumer and the business which must be nurtured and developed on every platform, especially on the web, where the competition is right there, a click of a button away.
So here are 3 tips on how to turn a website design into a brand experience:
1. Combine Usability With the a Unique Experience
There’s a shift going on in the web design industry – the most successful and forward-thinking designers are shifting more from designing based on usability and features towards providing a unique experience for the visitors.
Of course, usability is also a crucial element, but a visitors’ interaction with a brand begins at the moment he goes on the website – it has to help him build associations that will help him embrace the brand and create a more special relationship.
21st century is marked by an extremely agile and competitive international business scenario! And under such circumstances, managing and successfully running a business becomes a really arduous task. With each new day you have to get ready to face a completely new challenge; especially when you are associated with a creative area like web designing!
Web designing is not just about being the best in creating eye-catching layouts or having a great expertise in the technicalities. It is also about having knack to handle various other factors; to ensure that your company remains in good health!
Well, here are some important and useful tips on website design that will help you to turn your small-scale web designing set-up into a more thriving business.
1. Make yourself heard – Form excellent marketing strategies
There are hundreds of companies which would offer web design services; now how will some prospect know that you exist! You have to make some noise to make your presence felt – You need effective marketing strategies to get a hold on the market.
Identify your target audience – If you specialize in building say sites for showbiz; target audience from the same field. This way, you will get quality leads and eventually this will make a difference to your company’s growth.
Use Social Media platforms to reach out to your target audience; articulate your strengths by engaging the prospective clients into some informative discussions.
The current scenario of online business is pointing towards the importance of website speed. Internet services around the world have benefitted by the advanced technology, thus the average internet speed has increased in manifolds. As a result of which website visitors are becoming less tolerant of slow loading. In the same context Google has also declared to reward fast loading websites with a prominent position in search results. In order to avail dual benefits, during the development of your website keep the loading speed at top priority. Here are 5 object oriented ways to draw wonderful results.
Suppose you use a content management system (CMS) like Joomla or WordPress. People upload images at full size then they adjust their size, this means web browsers has to work on multiple commands. This slows website speed and in order to save yourself from this situation, you can use an image editing program to correct their size before uploading.
Gone are the days when budding web designers could do with mediocre technical knowledge and minimal understanding of the craft. They had the freedom to learn on the job and slowly build their skillsets.
As I said, all that is in the past. Today, newbie designers need to be technically astute, should have a thorough understanding of their craft and must be able to hit the ground running from day one. Displaying a lack of knowledge is not an option; the web design domain has become intensely competitive with design firms and even freelancers trying to push the creative envelope to steal a march over their competitors.
But somewhere along the line, in the battle to remain competitive and come up with pixel perfect innovative designs, the essential fundamentals of web design are either ignored or forgotten. Many newbies are so consumed by concepts like Flat Design, Responsive Web Design, Long Scrolling Home Pages, Adaptive Photography and others that they aren’t really aware of the fundamentals of design. This is a cardinal error, because the integration of the latest cutting edge designing concepts is only as good as your knowledge and implementation of design fundamentals.
So, what are these fundamentals that all newbie designers should never forget? Take a look:
- 1. Don’t break the rules (take this one with a pinch of salt)
jsDelivr is a nifty solution to the problem of hosting less popular JS scripts and other files without having to pay bandwidth costs. As a free open-source content distribution network, jsDelivr allows for the uploading of JS libraries, jQuery plugins, CSS frameworks, fonts, and various other files.
Of course, no responsible developer wants to host files essential to their theme on a shaky CDN that runs the risk of intermittent availability and potential downtime. jsDelivr is extremely reliable. It is sponsored by MaxCDN and CloudFlare, two of the biggest CDN providers around, uses Cedexis for load balancing, and has dozens of edge nodes with 42 points of presence across the globe.
By using two different CDN providers, jsDelivr can maintain reliability and performance even in the unlikely event that one of its partners goes down. If you’re interested in the full details of how jsDelivr works, take a look at this comprehensive explanation by Dmitriy Akulov, the creator of jsDelivr.
At the time of writing, jsDelivr makes over 1000 files available to developers and uploading new ones is fairly straightforward if you know how to use GitHub. To add a file of your choice, you simply clone the jsDelivr GitHub repository, add the files you’d like to see hosted and issue a pull request. Files are vetted for suitability by volunteers, so it may take a few hours to get approval, but once your pull request is merged, the files will be made available on the CDN.
jsDelivr is a great service for theme developers and anyone else who needs to use a CDN without paying through the nose for bandwidth.
If you’re a WordPress user, there’s also a plugin that makes it easy to integrate jsDelivr-hosted files with your site.
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About Rachel Gillevet:
Rachel is the technical writer for WiredTree, a leader in fully managed dedicated and vps hosting. Follow Rachel and WiredTree on Twitter, @wiredtree, Like them on Facebook and check out more of their articles on their web hosting blog, wiredtree.com/blog.
Gone are the days when websites and web applications were developed just to fit your 15” inch devices (desktops and laptops). Now times have changed. Everything is happening via finger friendly devices that respond within nanoseconds to the touch based stimuli. Gartner in its recent report has revealed that the smartphone sales crossed 1 billion mark in 2013 alone. In fact, the no of Mobile internet users are exponentially increasing and are likely to completely surpass desktop internet users in the US by 2015. Most of them perform all the fun tasks (like shopping, reading mails etc) on mobile and everything else on their desktops.
In such a scenario, it becomes absolutely critical for web development companies to come up with a solid Mobile UX strategy that offer seamless experience regardless of the device the visitors are browsing on. Well, I must mention here that if you are one of them who are right now thinking that adopting one flexible solution – Responsive Web Design is more than enough to cater to multiple screen widths; you probably don’t know what importance User Experience holds when it comes to touch screen devices. A visually appealing responsive UI doesn’t necessarily promise a fantastic UX and can leave an overall bad User Experience if not optimized correctly. Visitors tend to fizzle when they’re browsing the web on mobile and come across a site that has an uneasy layout, unreadable text and dramatically frustrating buttons that don’t respond when tapped. What’s the use of a beautiful interface that is non-functional?? A Poor browsing experience on mobile kills your conversions as much as 50% and even a 1 second of delay in mobile page load time equals a 7% loss in conversion killing 50% of ROI mercilessly.
To deliver high performance user experiences on mobile phone devices, it’s high time you hire a team of highly experienced responsive designers who can streamline their web design practices in sync with small or medium sized gadgets to address usability issues for better conversions. In this article, I will throw light on the most critical considerations while designing mobile user interfaces and what you need to mend in your responsive design strategy. I would also recommend you to go through one of my previous posts on “Tools and Tricks to make websites device friendly”.
Lesson 1: Change your methodology – Experiment with Prototypes and approach with what that is best from User’s perspective
Moulding the web designs from User’s point of view is not as easy as it seems to be. You need to analyze the purpose of your web design, you have to know the psychology of your target customers and accordingly map the whole browsing journey to accomplish the business goals that you want to achieve from your website. The best way is to adopt a specific methodology and create a series of user interactions by taking care of usability concepts like the screen size, images, hyperlinks, font sizes and page navigation. I recommend to create at least 3 prototypes and experiment till you come up with the design that is amazing from user’s point of view. List out the most common fields that prompt users to take action and then create a list of interactions with the User interface that you have developed. Map everything from thoughts and feelings to touch points and actions. Ask questions with your design like “What is the first element the user is likely to jump on?? What should they first do while visiting my site on their mobile? How should my mobile web design win the patience of my customers?? What are the pain points with my design (like landing on the wrong page while on mobile)??
Lesson 2: Know your ultimate weapon – Optimize Content so that it is easy to read and easy to tap
When we go to supermarkets, we often hear “paper or plastic” question at the packing counter. Why do people prefer paper? Paper is more eco-friendly and offers almost same level of durability. Just as choice of paper can make a lot of difference to our environment, it is the time for enterprise owners to ask themselves “pen signature or e-signature?” The right answer is secured e-signature or electronic signature.
Signatures are critical for running a enterprise professionally. Whether it is about finalizing a project contract or a price quote to B2B clients, signature is the seal that verifies the authenticity of a document. When you sign a document, it means that you agree to all the things written in the document. If any promise made in the document is not fulfilled, the other party can file a case against you.
When you run a really large enterprise, you have to take care of lots of things and pen-paper based signature is not ideal for you. Documents often get lost due to the negligence of the mailing department, people often forget to sign (especially when a document needs to be signed by multiple stakeholders) and printing documents every time for a signature is a tiring process.
There are a number of benefits that you can enjoy by installing an e-signature solution in your enterprise framework. Let’s consider some of them to understand why it’s time to say goodbye to paper and opt for e-signature.
1. Close deals faster:
There are lots of companies offering the same services in the market. Hence, the faster you respond to the query made by a customer, the better chances you have to seal the deal. Suppose you get a project enquiry from a company and they are ready to pay handsomely if you can start the project within 48 hours.
If you write, print, sign and then mail the project contract with pricing details, you will never be able to inform the client within 48 hours that you can accept the project. However, with the e-signature solution you can sign the project contract within minutes. Since the document and signature both are in digital format, the contract can be sent immediately.
2. Eliminate fax and courier cost:
A successful eCommerce website is always a work in progress. It is ever evolving and is subject to change at all times as you continuously try to refine and improve it without trying to blow your marketing budget.
Although things are constantly changing, there are some aspects that remain the same. These are some of the key ingredients that are needed in every successful eCommerce website. You just can’t do without them.
Let’s talk a closer look at 7 such design elements that are a ‘must use’ to ensure your eCommerce website’s profitability:
1. Shopping Cart
All eCommerce websites have a shopping cart feature for their customers. Online shoppers add the product/s finalized by them to their cart and continue browsing for other products.
Some websites get this cart right, others get it terribly wrong. No prizes for guessing that it’s the websites that have got their cart right that go on to lead a profitable existence.
Generally, there are two distinct types of shopping cart implementations. The first one is when shopping cart appears every time the item has been added; the second one only notifies the customer about the addition of another item.
Regardless of the variant you prefer to use, it is important to place the shopping cart where it is clearly visible to shoppers.
These days one of the biggest problems for eCommerce businesses is shopping cart abandonment. 67.91% is the average documented online shopping cart abandoned rate. That’s a huge number and you don’t want your website ending up with such a high abandonment rate.
This is why you must optimize your shopping cart to ensure maximum number of customers go through the complete purchase funnel on your site. The idea is to do everything in your power to decrease shopping cart abandonment on your eCommerce website.
2. Call-to-Action Buttons
Call-to-action buttons on your eCommerce website play an important role in converting your online window shoppers into customers. ‘Add to cart’ and ‘Check-out’ are the two most important call-to-action buttons of an eCommerce website. Their purpose is to entice customers to purchase an item.
Getting your visitors to take action is difficult.
Call-to-action buttons should be such that they persuade your customers to take action. For this, make these buttons clear, consistent and highly visible. Ensure they exhibit urgency.
The wording, color, size and placement of these buttons matters a lot. Use direct language like ‘Add to Cart’ in large and bold fonts. Use negative space around the button and make it the largest clickable button on your product page.
The ‘Add to Cart’ button should appear on each individual product page. Once the shopper selects an item and adds it to their shopping cart, a ‘Checkout Now’ option should also appear on each page they browse thereafter.
Patagonia’s ‘Add to Cart’ and ‘Checkout Now’ button clearly stands out from the rest of the content.
3. Quality Product Images
A good color scheme is extremely important for creation of a good design. There are plenty of tools that can be gathered to help you achieve perfection in your choices of colors. Lot of them tend to offer you the best but this should not stop you from choosing a color scheme that seems to serve your purpose well. Now the point is how to incorporate the best color scheme in order to ensure that it fits your requirements well.
Mudcube offers you good selection of colour schemes to pick up from. It is one of the most popular handy colour resources for the designers. You can also build up colour scheme of your choice from a particular chosen shade. You can have access to a wide range of colour schemes from the drop-down menu.
Each year brings with it new challenges for web designers and 2014 is no different. In order to meet the diverse challenges that are thrown at you, your fundamentals need to be clear, but that’s not all. You need to be able to predict and identify these challenges and make sure you’ve a solution in place for them. Web design is a domain that was always competitive, but it’s becoming more so over the years. As a designer, your talent will be judged on the basis of whether you were able to face down a designing challenge and come up trumps. This will help you differentiate your services from that of your competitors.
Let’s take a look at some of the designing challenges you will face this year, and how you can not only survive them but also find a solution for them.
1. More Interaction Please!
We are seeing a growing need for website visitors to interact with the website. In 2014, you will be forced to up the ante and make your design more interactive than ever. You’ll need to think beyond merging social with your website to improve its interaction quotient. So how are you going to do that?
First take a look at what this site is doing:
Complete Baltics is a site that rises up to the interactivity challenge with great use of designing fundamentals and animation. The company describes itself as a user of bleeding edge technology and you see that coming across through its website. The use of colors, progressive coding, animation, illustrations, large images and the busyness of the site, and the way they’ve showcased their projects right on the landing page is absolutely amazing. This is interactivity at its creative best.
So, what should you do to meet this challenge? First, take inspiration from sites like the ones discussed above, don’t replicate what they are doing pixel for pixel, but use this inspiration as a launch pad for your own imagination. Creative thinking will help you develop an interactive framework for your design. And today, you’ve plenty of tools to create an interactive website.
With the design technology available today, you are actually limited by your own imagination.
2. More Usability Please!