6 Things to Add to Your Digital Marketing Strategy

The internet has drastically changed customer behaviour, and with it, the marketing landscape. With millions of people spending hours online every single day, it’s patently unwise not to develop and invest in a digital marketing strategy.

One of the best ways to start is to create your own website. Once you’ve established your address on the world wide web, you can more easily explore other digital techniques.

That said, here are some crucial components of a robust online marketing strategy:

SEO

SEO or search engine optimisation, is arguably the most important part of any digital marketing strategy. Why? Two things. First, most people nowadays spend their zero moment of truth (ZMOT) on search engines. ZMOT, simply defined, is when the consumer looks for relevant information before buying a product.

Second, a significant percentage of internet users don’t go beyond the first page of search engine results. Thus, the higher your ranking, the bigger the chance that the consumer will see your brand name and click on your link. The further you are from the first page, the fewer opportunities you’ll have..

This is why your website is only the first step. After this, you must invest in good SEO services so you can boost your lead generation, and hopefully, conversion numbers. SEO is especially important if you’re in a highly competitive industry, such as e-commerce.

Blogs

Content marketing, which usually comes in the form of blogs, helps immensely with SEO. With a blog, you can establish your brand identity, industry authority, and credibility. You’ll also have a platform to cultivate a relationship with your customers. All of these can contribute to your brand being interpreted by search engines as a credible entity.

What’s even better is that you don’t need a separate website for a blog. If you already have a website, you can simply host it there as a dedicated page. For some topic ideas, start with insightful discussions about industry trends and how you’re applying these as a company. You can also consult your SEO strategy and find some keywords to write about.

Social Media

During its earlier years, social media platforms were almost devoid of brands. They were instead used to interact and connect with friends and family, or even strangers who shared the same interests. Soon enough, however, companies saw the benefit of engaging their consumers where they’re already active and receptive to engagement.

Nowadays, a social media strategy is a big part of digital marketing campaigns. Remember, though, that you don’t have to be present on every platform. The most important thing is to understand how each site works and if it can help achieve your brand’s goals.

You should also engage in what is called social listening. This way, you’ll know what people are saying about your brand and address issues. You can also discover the topics most relevant to your audience and thus engage in more meaningful conversations.

Email Marketing

Unlike social media, where you’re essentially trying to talk to thousands or even millions of consumers, email is more direct. This gives way to more personalisation, which greatly increases the potential for conversions and more genuine connections.

Email marketing is especially useful for e-commerce businesses. Through newsletters, you can easily announce the arrival of new products, your latest promotions, and other offerings. You can even send personal greetings and special discounts to customers during their birthday! Doing all of these can keep you top of mind, which is important in a highly competitive space.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is an increasingly popular advertising model, wherein a brand works with content creators like bloggers and vloggers to promote products and services. When a consumer performs the intended action (e.g., to avail the product or service or download an app), the content creator gets incentivised through commission fees.

This is an effective way of increasing your reach. If you’re a brand, you can tap the content creator’s fan base to expand your market. If you’re a content creator, you can add to your income stream and boost your reputation.

Online Advertising

The online space is a big one and unless you’re an equally big brand, it can be difficult for you to get noticed. This is where online advertising comes in. You can choose from a wide variety of options, including keyword advertising, boosted social posts, video ads, and more—it all depends on your goals.

For example, if you want to help maintain your presence in search results pages as you work on your SEO, you can opt for keyword ads. If you want to promote a certain piece of content or product, you can create a social media ad and then direct those who click on your website. If you want to target a certain audience, consider placing display ads on niche websites.

Remember to keep track of the ads that perform well so you can reallocate your resources when necessary.


The most important thing to remember is that there’s no singular formula to a successful digital marketing campaign. You might need just one, or maybe you need a combination of several. Having concrete goals can certainly help in deciding which ones are the best for your brand. 

Posted in Marketing

8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Web Host

 

As a business owner, you should be aware that it will take more than word of mouth to attract customers. Indeed, nowadays, the success of a business also relies on its digital assets, primarily a website.

In order function well, your website must be more than just beautifully designed. It also needs to perform well—which a web host can help with. 

When creating your website, whether for a blog or e-commerce function, you need to carefully evaluate the web hosting requirements. Web hosting is a crucial consideration because this is where all your website’s files will be stored. Everything that appears on your live website will be kept in and maintained by the web host. With poor web hosting, your customers will have a hard time viewing the content on your website. 

This is why you need to select the best hosting services that will help your website work efficiently. Don’t just choose the first web host provider you see. Rather, you must first understand the needs of your business and website.

Here are some things you need to consider before deciding on the web host provider:

Average Uptime

An important aspect of the performance of your website lies in the average time your website stays up within a given period of time. This is called average uptime, and it can determine how much traffic your website receives. You won’t get much traffic if visitors can’t access your website, which can lead to the loss of potential customers. 

If you want more people to be able to access your site, you need to have an average uptime that is as close to 100% as possible. When selecting a web host provider, make sure you get one that offers an uptime of 99% or above.  

Page Load Time

Web pages that load slowly can be frustrating for viewers and they’ll likely abandon the website completely—which can again be considered as a loss of potential sales. Similar to uptime, the page load time affects the traffic that goes to your website. Ideally, you should select a web hosting provider that will ensure your web pages load within 3 seconds or less. 

Data Security

You need a web host provider that can protect your website’s content as well as your visitors’ data, so look for security features such as DDoS protection and SSL certification. In addition, find a web host that offers an information redundancy system and constant backups. This way, in case of any problems or unforeseen issues, you can rest assured that your website will still be online and operational.

Price

As a business owner, you want value for money in each investment you make. It’s the same with your website’s web host services. Although affordability can help narrow down your decision, it shouldn’t be the main factor. Remember, a lower-priced service doesn’t always mean it is bad; a more expensive option doesn’t guarantee quality, either.

It’s best to evaluate what exactly your website needs and look for a plan that will work both for your budget and your business requirements. Try to explore different offers from the various website hosting services. Some of them have special discounts based on the length of the plan you choose. Usually, longer web hosting plans have lower prices.

Technical Support

Aside from providing a high-performing and secure website, your web host provider must also offer reliable tech support. This is a key factor business owners need to consider because it can make a lot of difference when you are dealing with a crisis. Imagine how relieved you will be if the web host provider can efficiently assist you in resolving a quick issue compared to the frustration of dealing with your website being offline for a couple of hours.

To ensure the web host provider has excellent technical support, check if they have different contact channels available. Also, see if you can easily send them an email, chat with their representatives, or connect to their toll-free phone number. Remember to select a provider that puts customer support as part of their priority.  

Storage

When selecting storage, keep in mind to choose a service that will best match the way you will use your website. For example, you will need ample storage space if you’re going to post a lot of videos. Therefore, you need to find a web host provider that can offer not just enough gigabytes but also a bit of wiggle room.

On the other hand, if your website doesn’t require a lot of storage, you can opt for a more affordable plan and save some money. If you come across a service that offers unlimited disk space for a reasonable price, then you have nothing to worry about. 

Customer Reviews

Reading through customer reviews is one of the best ways to learn more about the web host services you are eyeing. Aside from the feedback written on the provider’s website, check blogs and social media sites to find out what their current and past customers are saying about them. See if they respond immediately when an issue has been reported or if it’s easy to contact their support team. 

Scalability

As a business owner, you are always planning for the future of your company. Hence, it’s only practical to build a website that can keep up with the growth of your business. This includes evaluating if the hosting provider fits your future plans. For example, your web host provider might be able to adequately support a standard blog-type site but it might not have the capability to support e-commerce requirements.

See if the provider you choose can accommodate your business growth plan or if scalability will become an issue. It’s best to prepare now rather than deal with the challenges of transferring from one host to another in the future.


An efficiently performing website can attract new clients and help grow your business. Thus, it’s important to have a reliable web hosting service. Keep this list of considerations in mind before selecting a web host so you can make the right choice and set your company up for success. 

Effective SEO Techniques to Boost Your Ranking

effective seo techniques to boost rankings

SEO remains a vital tool to help you rank well in search engine results (SERP’s). There are many “experts” giving plenty of advice on how to optimise your website for Google, but what does good SEO website design look like?


Many designers think they understand SEO strategies, but opinions and facts can easily get entangled, confusing business owners who need to know what is best for their business. In this article, we’ll tell you what you need to know about SEO.


The Big Three SEO Techniques you need to know.


When designing a website for SEO, there are three fundamental techniques to employ:

  1. Keyword research and placement
  2. Making your site search engine friendly
  3. Building links


Keywords and key phrases are the backbone of search results. There are many online research tools to get you started, but you mustn’t use keywords indiscriminately and diminish the quality of your content. Original visual content, including photos, videos and infographics, can also boost your site’s traffic and encourage content sharing.


Your web designer will ensure your website is easily indexed and searchable. Descriptive titles, meta tags, headings and alt-text are all opportunities to make your site more search-friendly.


Once your site is live, the ongoing SEO work begins through link building. Backlinks are links on other sites that send traffic to your site. Having high quality inbound and outbound links helps establish your site’s authority with Google and other search engines. So that’s a brief intro to SEO; now, let’s explore the subject a bit further.


See: Activate Design offers Search Engine Optimisation or SEO Services

 

With SEO, Everything IS Black and White…

But the only SEO techniques worth using are White-hat SEO.

These are the safe and long-term result producing techniques that the major league search engines recommend as part of good web design. Here are a few of what we think are the main White-hat SEO techniques:

 

1. Content is KING

There’s no point in having a website with poor content. A search engine is like a nightmare editor: it will catch you out on poorly written work. The best way to optimise your site for search engines is to produce excellent writing. Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft endorse websites that are the most appropriate for any given search. Google’s new Rankbrain algorithm rewards websites that provide compelling content—the longer they browse your site, the better your rank prospects. Your content needs to get to the point quickly and encourage users to keep reading and clicking links.

 

See: Looking for website content writing servicesSee what Activate Design has to offer for Christchurch-based businesses.

 

2. Mark-Up Matters

Semantically structure your markup to help search engines understand the content of your webpage. Keep it simple! Search engines like proper heading and titles. Use CSS to separate design elements from your content and make it easier for search engines to find what they’re looking for. If your titles are declaring certain content, make sure you deliver. Make your title and description tags more compelling by browsing the Google Ads that appear at the top of search results. Use these keywords and phrases in your meta tags to generate more clickable SERP’s. 

 

3. Keyword is Key


You’ve got to create your website with well-researched keywords and phrases in mind that you think your customers may use to find your particular site. Keep in mind that single words are not the most effective. Instead, try multi-word phrases that are more specific to your product/service and use them effectively throughout your website. Not sure what phrases to include? Reddit is an excellent resource for finding search phrases. Just search your topic and scan the threads for phrases that keep popping up. Another great source of keywords come courtesy of your high-performing competitors. Type their URL into a keyword research tool, and you’ll learn what keywords they rank well for. Incorporate the relevant keywords into your content.

 

4. Make the Link

The rule here is Quality over Quantity. You want links from other web pages that are regarded highly by search engines and relevant to the content of your page. The amount and quality of inbound links to your site affect how high up the search engine your site is placed. Talking about quality, make sure your content is easy to read and broken down into bite-size chunks. Remember, most users are browsing on their phones and don’t want to read great blocks of heavy text.  Keep your URL’s short and descriptive.

White-hat SEO’s evil twin, Black-hat SEO, uses techniques that are disliked by search engines. Unfortunately, websites that employ these techniques can suffer a number of punishments ranging from ranking penalties to complete removal from the index. Some websites can be banned. For the love of Google, do not do the following:

 

  • Hide-and-go-Seek

Hidden content is the sneaky, underhanded content hiding within the code for a site that is stuffed with keywords. Developers can also hide this content using CSS, ridiculously small text or coloured text on the same colour background. If search engines catch a whiff of this, your website will be penalised or banned altogether. You’ve been warned.

  • Stuffing is for Turkeys


Don’t stuff your site with Meta keywords. Two main Meta tags are used to inform search engines of the content on the page, and when they’re misused, they serve as an alarm to search engines that you’re using spam techniques to improve your ranking. Google is smart, don’t risk trying to fool it.

  • Doorway to Destruction


Doorway pages are designed for search engines and not for your customers. These fake pages are stuffed with content and highly optimised for 1 or 2 keywords that link to a target or landing page. Search engine spiders/crawlers can detect these pages, alerting the powers that be, resulting in being flagged and banned.

  • Farming Saga


The temptation to link all kinds of crazy things to your website to increase traffic is understandable. But, it has the opposite effect. Link farms or free for all (FFA) pages list links of unrelated websites. Trust us when we say they won’t provide your site with an increase in traffic. The only thing you can be sure of is the risk of having your site banned for participating in this scam. On the other hand, having good outbound links to authoritative sites can help establish your website as an information hub in the eyes of Google’s Hilltop algorithm, lifting your ranking.

 

The Internet is a Beast

SEO is essential because it’s all about ranking. A higher ranking will result in more customers, which is imperative for companies that make most of their money online. Good SEO can help these companies improve their organic traffic significantly. As you’ve seen, it’s not about the stuffing. You need an excellent game plan for SEO, and this is where we can help. We know a lot about how search engines work.

The internet is unfathomably large. Without search engines to help us navigate through the approximately 50 billion indexed web pages, we’d be lost in all the disorder. Search engines help find order amongst the chaos by creating an index that directs you to the most relevant website for your search query. Life is moving fast, and this index changes with it. Every day new websites are added, existing pages are redesigned, and new content is uploaded. The internet is fluid, dynamic. And search engines need to stay up to date. Enter the crawlers.

Creepy Crawlers

Search engines use crawlers to create search engine result pages by finding your website via a link from another website or the Add URL page. The crawlers then process this information and index it. When a person enters a query, the search engine analyses their index and generates results of the most relevant websites. Search engines use a ranking system to deliver relevant results. Numerous factors are taken into consideration, and your SEO success depends on your understanding.

Ranking Factors

So, relevancy is determined by over 200 ranking factors. I’m not going to list them all; however, some of the most important factors include:

  • Links: When I’m talking about links, I’m referring to Pagerank, the link analysis algorithm used by Google. It takes the quantities of links into account and essentially translates every connection to a website as a vote for that particular website. Essentially, the more links you get, the higher you will rank, which is why some people lean towards farm linking. Remember when I told you that quality comes before quantity? Well, not all links are created the same. Links from authoritative websites will have more influence than links from less prevalent websites. Keep your links relevant, or suffer the consequences.

 

  • Keywords: The keyword distribution on your page is extremely important as Google checks how often the search query can be found on it. If the search query appears in your domain, URL, and content, for example, your page will be considered more relevant and will thus rank higher. Just don’t overdo it.

 

  • Site Age: Is it just Google who honours the knowledge that comes with age?! Google perceives older websites to be more authoritative than new websites. Take that, you young whippersnappers.

 

  • Fresh is Best: Frequently updating your website is a good idea. It keeps you on Google’s mind. Adding new pages and deleting old ones indicates that your website is still alive and kicking.

 

  • Algorithm Updates: Google’s Hummingbird algorithm uses semantic search to deliver results based on intent as well as language. So while keywords are still important, your page will perform better with related subtopics that are a good match for a user’s search query.

While not an SEO strategy, your website’s load times and usability can significantly impact your ranking. Slow websites will have higher bounce rates, and Google demotes sites with high bounce rates or short dwell times.

If you want your website to achieve greater success on search engines, you’ve got to get your SEO just right. Doing it the wrong way can seriously mess with your reputation and your business. 

At Activate Design, we can help you with SEO and improve website performance.  Learn more about our SEO services and packages.

 

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Posted in Marketing

5 Benefits of Great Content for Your Brand

One of the key elements of successful online marketing is great content. And though forms of visual media such as videos and graphics have risen in popularity, high-quality written content continues to be the most important form of content. 

It might seem surprising at first, particularly with the rise of social media influencers, video creators, and content streamers. But when you consider what search engines classify as “good content,” you’ll notice that many of them favor written content like blogs.

As such, it’s a good idea to seek reliable SEO content writing services and work with them so that your business can reap the following benefits:

You’ll Rank Higher in SERPs

In the digital age, customers find what they’re looking for in two ways: either they will search the internet, or they will ask people they know—who may also end up searching the internet. To capitalise on this behaviour, you’ll want your content to be optimised properly and appearing higher in search engine result pages (SERPs). 

Search engines are continuously changing their algorithms so that they can deliver useful, relevant results to other users. As such, consistently producing good content is the key to good SEO rankings.

High-quality content is informative, credible, and engaging. What’s more, you need to provide a different perspective or more value than your competitors. The last one is particularly important if you’re in a highly competitive industry. Fortunately, if you’re working with an SEO copywriting company, they’ll know what to do to produce top-notch content.

It Establishes Your Expertise

Expertise is a huge factor for consumers when it comes to the products and services they avail. If they’re purchasing a washing machine, for example, they want something that can truly clean their clothes. Moreover, they would prefer an appliance built with quality materials that will last long.

Through well-crafted content, you can communicate this expertise to your target market. In the example above, you can create blogs about clothes-washing tips, washing machine maintenance, or even a quick history of the appliance.

Make sure to discuss keywords and possible topics with your chosen SEO content service provider. This way, you can churn out content that your potential customers are truly interested in. 

Doing all of these can help establish your online authority and boost your SERP rankings. Ultimately, this can help you build trust and rapport with your audience.

It Can Improve Your Social Media Presence

Social media is now practically inescapable, which means you should also have a marketing strategy centred on these platforms. The problem is that you may find it difficult to stand out, especially with millions of posts being uploaded per day.

With great content, this won’t be so much of an issue. Accompany your visuals with well-written captions and see just how much more traction you can get on social media.

If you have a considerable following, there’s also an opportunity to use social media to link out to your website. Direct them to a page with even more helpful content, thus increasing traffic and the potential for conversions.

Great Content Can Result In More Conversions

Modern consumers are a more discerning lot. They can’t always be swayed by flashy visuals or other gimmicks. Instead, they carefully study products and services before they decide on what to support. They not only want to spend wisely but they also want to spend more purposefully.

Through well-crafted content, you can give your audience more information to work with so that they can make educated decisions. Blogs are a great avenue for this, giving you an opportunity to create a deeper connection that can translate into conversions.

Don’t forget to add proper calls to action. Be clear about them—if you want your website visitors to sign up for an email newsletter, then give them all the details so they can do exactly that. More importantly, don’t overwhelm people with too many calls to action; instead of converting them, you might end up turning them away.

It Can Help Deepen Conversations

There’s no denying the great social media content can spark interest. However, the next viral video or image is already in the works. Before you know it, you’ve already been overtaken by another brand.

The opposite is true with great content, which can push your audience to know more and thus start deeper conversations. This leads to a stronger connection, which can influence stronger feelings and opinions that can influence purchases.

Writing great content can also make potential customers stay longer on your website, giving you more opportunities for conversion.

Last but certainly not least, providing meaningful, useful content can increase brand awareness. For those who already know about you, it can keep your brand current and even cultivate loyalty. For those who don’t know your brand, your appearance in SERPs could attract new customers searching for similar services. All of these are desirable results that you want your business to achieve.

As the popular digital marketing phrase goes, content is king. Based on the current trends, it will continue to be king for quite a long time. It’s therefore a wise move to start building your content marketing strategy as soon as possible so you can also enjoy these benefits sooner.

Posted in Branding

Finding the Right Font for Your Design: 6 Simple Tips

font size

 

One of the most difficult parts of graphic design is choosing the right font, because the wrong choice can ruin even the most beautiful visuals. This is why even the most experienced graphic designers are extra careful about this aspect.

Nevertheless, there are certain guidelines that can help point you in the right direction and make the task a little easier. Here are some simple tips to keep in mind:

Match the Emotion or Mood You’re Trying to Convey

One of the best things about graphic design is that it can inspire a wide array of emotions. Fonts can do the same thing, too, even if they’re “just” a set of stylised letters. Thus, it’s a good idea to start by going back to the purpose or goal of your design when you’re choosing a font.

Do you want to express seriousness or aggressiveness? Thick sans serif fonts can help communicate these. Do you want to exhibit playfulness and fun? Curly, chunky, or even uneven-looking fonts can help you achieve this goal. Do you want the design to be perceived as elegant? You can turn to delicate, flowing scripts for this purpose.

The target audience also matters a lot with regards to the font you’ll be choosing. For example, if you’re designing a toy box, your target market will be children. Though the parents may be the ones to ultimately buy the toy, you first have to appeal to the child to successfully start the purchase loop. 

Legibility Is Crucial

The key role of fonts in graphic design is to help communicate a clear message. This simply means that you need to choose one that’s legible in most situations. If people have to squint to read the words or confuse one letter for another, then you haven’t chosen an effective font.

One of the key things to remember about legibility is that simpler fonts will always be easier to read. Decorative fonts are okay for headlines since they’re usually bigger in size. For general usage, however, you need something that’s easier to read.

For logos, website fonts, and other materials that will eventually make their way onto smaller screens, readability is even more crucial, especially since so many people access the internet through smaller screens on their mobile phone tablets. 

Consider Where It Will Be Used

Versatility is another good criteria when choosing a font, especially if you’re doing copy-heavy or text-based layouts. Think about the setting in which the design will be used. Will it be placed on a billboard? Will it be an accompanying photo for a social media post? Will it be printed on an A3 poster? All of the above? These considerations will help you determine not only which fonts to use but also how to lay them out more effectively.

It’s also a good idea to experiment a bit with the style. Try the font in bold, play with the kerning and leading, or perhaps make the text curve into a half-circle. If it still looks good, then you’ve found yourself a winner.

Don’t Use Too Many

Using just one font is perfectly fine if you’re writing a research paper. In graphic design, however, using one font can be rather boring in certain situations. Thus, you should aim for a little variety.

This doesn’t mean that you should get too trigger-happy in choosing fonts, though. Using more than three can be overwhelming and make your design look cluttered and uncoordinated.

In fact, there are times when you don’t even have to use a different font. Try changing the size or the thickness of the letters first. You might realise that using one font in different styles is the most effective solution for your design needs.

Think Harmonious Contrast

If you end up deciding on two or three fonts, they should have harmonious contrast. This simply means that each font should look distinct enough from each other, but not to the point that they’re clashing.

The simplest technique here is to choose one serif and one sans serif font. Then, decide which one would be the more prominent font. When it comes to newspapers, for example, choose which font you’ll be using for the headline—it should be something that’s in harmony with the rest of the article.

Consider Copyrights and Licences.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, check the font’s licencing. Some are free to download but are only allowed for personal use. If you’re planning to use the designs for commercial purposes, you should choose fonts that don’t infringe on any copyrights.

This is particularly true for logos. While typefaces in general aren’t copyrighted, different fonts usually have different licencing rules or inclusions, particularly for commercial use. This is why some graphic designers charge their clients for the price of the font.

You might think that a font is just what a set of letters looks like, but it can truly spell the difference between an iconic and a disastrous design choice. Hopefully, the above tips can help you make the right decision. 

The Best Tools for Mobile App Development

 

Smartphones and tablets have quickly become the device of choice for accessing the internet and online services. The dominance of mobile is equally true of consumers shopping for goods and business users in the B2B space.


App development costs have dropped, so it makes sense for even small to medium businesses to offer a mobile solution for their clients. A mobile app can provide many functions, including access to your products and services, customer support, FAQ and mobile e-commerce. There are three distinct approaches to mobile app development:

  • Native (Where the app is coded specifically for the platform, e.g. iOS or Android)
  • Hybrid or Progressive web apps (a combination of local and web-based code)
  • Web apps (run from a mobile browser only)

 

Native Apps


Native apps tend to deliver the best user experience. They are optimised for the platform and can access the phone’s features such as the camera, microphone, GPS etc. However, they require more work to develop and need to be submitted, approved and hosted by the relevant app store.


Hybrid Apps & PWA’s


Hybrid apps and PWA’s combine local and web-based code, allowing them to be developed using standard web technologies. Cross-platform means clients can use them on both iOS and Android platforms.


Web Apps

Web apps are the easiest to develop, as they just run in the mobile browser using standard web technologies such as HTML5 and Javascript. These apps can’t be hosted on app stores, which means they may be less discoverable by clients. The upside is they are easier to maintain and modify, as there is no need for app store approvals. 


Choosing the right mobile application development platform


Choosing the right mobile application development platforms will depend on the type of app you wish to develop. For example, developers usually build native iOS apps in Xcode or AppCode. Android Studio is a mobile app development tool provided by Google for the Android platform. There are many cross-platform mobile app dev tools that allow you to create a single app that works across both iOS and Android, including many low-code or no-code solutions.


What are mobile app development tools?


Once you’ve decided on the platform and the type of mobile app you want to develop, it’s time to choose the best mobile app development tool. Luckily, there is no shortage of options, but generally, these tools are either native or cross-platform in nature. As mentioned, Xcode and Android Studio are the primary tools for native mobile app development. There are many popular options for cross-platform development tools—some require coding experience, others offer a low or no-code approach. As many are subscription-based, it pays to research the tool and whether it will meet your needs.


Cross-platform app creation - the pros and cons


While these cross-platform app creation tools may appeal to businesses looking for a low-cost entry into the mobile space, there are some potential drawbacks to consider, including:

  • Greater chance of compatibility issues
  • Slower performance
  • Inconsistent user experience

Here at Activate Design, we have a dedicated software development team that can help you develop a professional app solution that performs well and delivers results for you and your clients. We’re also website developers, so we can build mobile apps with tight integration to your website infrastructure.

 

No/low code app development - the DIY approach


Many mobile application development platforms offer solutions that don’t require coding expertise—you start with a template and simply drag and drop components into place. An app built this way may be suitable as a basic interface for your clients, but generally, these platforms don’t offer much scope for customisation. Many are subscription-based, and the finished app can only be hosted on their platform. The risk with this approach is that all your development work is locked into a proprietary system that can’t be easily ported to other applications.


At Activate Design, we believe good design is more than just a pretty interface. We develop mobile app solutions for our clients that fully integrate with their internal systems—offering cohesive solutions designed to work together seamlessly.


Contact the team at Activate to learn more about our mobile app development services. 

 

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Posted in Mobile Apps

The Key Elements of Graphic Design and Why They’re Important

Bringing an idea to life through graphic design takes a lot of work. Remember: beautiful visuals mean nothing if they don’t communicate your message. This is why a good graphic design company endeavours to understand the most basic elements of art in order to create effective work.

Below, we discuss the key elements of graphic design and how they contribute to visual communications.

Colour

One of the most important components of design is colour, which can either stand alone or be used with other elements (e.g., lines or typography).

What makes colour so important to graphic design is that it’s what dictates the mood of a piece. It can also establish the personality of a brand. Moreover, using colour psychology can evoke certain emotions or reactions from the audience. This is why plenty of food companies use reds and oranges, as these are known to inspire feelings of hunger.

At the same time, the right colour combinations can change the tone of a message. Contrasting colours can be used for emphasis, for example, while monotones can imply stability. Lastly, the right colour space (RGB or CMYK) can also affect the quality of the visuals. RGB is best for the screen, while CMYK is best for printed media.

Line

A line is more than just a stroke of a pen that connects two points. It’s also a useful tool for dividing a space or drawing the eye towards an element that you want viewers to focus on. For example, social media sites can use lines to indicate separate sections on a page or prevent multiple images from looking crowded.

Graphic designers also use lines to communicate certain characteristics. A good example of this is the diagonal line, which can stand for energy and motion. Meanwhile, curved lines can mean elegance.

Do note that a designer or artist may choose not to use lines implicitly. They may draw tall buildings or railroad tracks, whose edges can serve as the lines that “cut” through a page.

Shape

Shapes can add dimension and interest to any kind of design. Created using lines, colours, or both, shapes can either interact harmoniously or clash with each other depending on the intended message by the artist or the brand.

Ultimately, everything can be a shape. Even blocks of text in a magazine layout or a speech bubble in a comic page fall under the umbrella of “shape.” Thus, a designer needs to understand that shape composition can affect the cohesiveness of any work.

Space

The area that surrounds the elements in a design is called the space. It can be used to separate groups of text or images, or even to give the eyes a bit of rest from an otherwise busy design.

In this manner, space can also be used to lead the eye. Just imagine seeing a poster with a crowded top half and an empty bottom half. You will probably wonder why the artist left that space that way, and therefore inspect it, leading you to a message that the artist deliberately left there.

Note that space, particularly negative space, can also be used to create shapes and lines. If used wisely and strategically, an entire graphic design piece can be made entirely of space.

Texture

Obviously, you can’t touch graphic design that’s meant for visual consumption using a screen. Even printed mediums are limited when it comes to this aspect. Still, a talented designer can create the impression of texture, giving the design more depth.

Texture can also create a more immersive and “sensorial” experience. This is why some designs can seem soft or cosy, even if you can’t physically feel the softness and cosiness.

Backgrounds are usually the easiest ways to include texture in graphic design, but they can also be applied to text and other elements.

Typography or Type

Last but not the least, typography or simply type is an essential part of design. It can make or break visuals, especially if you’re trying to convey a message. Remember: words are important but the way you present them is also crucial. This is why most news sites (think The New York Times) use serif typefaces for their text, while blogs can opt for more playful typography.

Do note that there are also artists who use only typography to create their designs. A good example here would be logos that use the name of the company (which also sometimes form shapes). Typography can also be used to draw attention.


Remember that good graphic design doesn’t have to use ALL of these elements at the same time. What matters is how these elements are used to achieve the design goal. An artist can make use of only colours and shapes and still be able to communicate the cheerfulness or tranquility of a brand.

The key here is to completely understand how each element works and how they can influence one another to create a good design.

Traditional vs Modern Marketing - who wins?

 

Marketing specialists have been arguing the pros and cons of traditional versus modern marketing since the dawn of the internet. We thought we'd take a look at the state of play in 2021 and weigh up the benefits and disadvantages of traditional marketing against modern digital marketing.

 

What is Traditional Marketing?

 

Not that long ago, the tools of marketing were limited to print (magazines, newspapers, flyers), broadcast TV (commercials or sponsorship) or radio (Ads or sponsored content). Print, TV and radio are what we now call 'Traditional Media'. Despite predictions about their demise, these media forms continue to operate and can still deliver large audiences.

 

Modern Marketing

 

Modern marketing, sometimes called digital marketing, encompasses everything from eDM's, podcasts and websites to digital ads, YouTube videos and social media content.

The pros of digital marketing include:

  • The ability to target particular demographics or interest groups
  • Detailed metrics on audience responses, including open rates, viewing time etc
  • Lower costs and a greater return on investment

 

Even if your campaign assets are expensive to create, digital marketing still wins on cost over traditional marketing because you can continuously test and modify your campaign based on the audience data received. By comparison, a TV Commercial, once completed and ready to air, cannot be easily modified. Nor can a TVC garner the immediate feedback that is available on a digital platform.

 

Digital marketing content is a lot more malleable as well—it can be easily adapted to different channels and customised to suit specific audiences.

 

Why use Traditional Marketing then?

 

The key to successful marketing is knowing your audience, and this is why traditional marketing still has a role to play. For example, customers expect to see a premium or luxury product advertised in a glossy magazine or a big-budget TV commercial. Likewise, a community newspaper ad or mailbox flyer can still be very effective when targeting a local audience.

 

Modern marketing and traditional marketing are not mutually exclusive—the best campaigns combine the strengths of both media. Let's face it, we still live in a physical world, and a well-placed billboard can reinforce your digital messaging and encourage that final call-to-action response in a customer.

 

There are some unavoidable disadvantages with traditional marketing though. Typically, a page of advertising in a magazine or newspaper is much more expensive than the digital equivalent. That printed content also has a shorter lifespan, as the newspaper quickly becomes yesterday's news.

 

There has been a significant drop in the numbers of people who watch broadcast television, as more viewers switch to streaming services and content delivered through social platforms. Last year's lockdowns saw the closure of some magazine titles, as readers migrated to online content.

 

Digital marketing offers one killer feature that no magazine or TV ad can match—the ability to convert ad viewers into e-commerce customers with a single mouse click or finger tap. Internet-based marketing opens up a wealth of different creative outlets for promoting your company and products, including:

 

  • YouTube' How-To' Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Live-streamed events
  • Social media competitions

 

So, in the battle of digital marketing vs traditional marketing, we have a winner, and it's digital. But while digital marketing is more effective, it's not necessarily easy. As more businesses promote themselves online, the competition for eyeballs has become fierce. Marketing pro's like the team here at Activate can help you design digital campaigns that actually deliver on their objectives. The key is integration—making sure your messaging is consistent across all platforms and working together to drive sales. We believe a great website should be the core of your marketing strategy, as it offers you the most control over your brand and the customer experience.

 

If you're looking to refresh your digital marketing this year, we can help you with website development, brand design, SEO and online marketing. Contact the team at Activate to get started.

 

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Posted in Marketing

Web Design Innovation - What to Expect in 2021

2020 was the year where conducting business online became essential, thanks to Covid. 


Consumers were either in lockdown or practising social distancing, and company websites became a vital link for e-commerce and conveying important safety information. We saw many companies pivot to online sales and focus their efforts on improving web design functionality. The pandemic has influenced the messaging behind website design too, with many organisations adopting a kinder, more empathetic tone. 


So what does 2021 have in store?  We expect web design in NZ this year to capitalise on the learnings of 2020, and more small businesses will look to start or improve their website design in NZ.


Visual Trends


Clean minimal designs are making a comeback in 2021, often with a focus on bold and creative typography.  Blur is another feature showing up in many new websites, allowing developers to create a suggestion of depth and separate foreground from background. Noise, grain and other visual effects are another popular technique to give your site a more natural feel that is less clinical. In general, expect to see website visuals that offer a positive, helpful and healthy vibe. Kindness is ‘in’. 


Animation and 3D effects were often discouraged in the past because they took too long to load, but HTML5 technology has changed the landscape. We’re seeing some beautiful 3D motion, animation and interactive UI design elements out there. The popularity of animated emojis on mobile platforms has seen a parallel increase in the use of GIFs in web design. Who would have thought GIFs would be so popular in 2021! Lottie files are a new lightweight, scalable animation format that works on all devices—one of the many innovative new web animation technologies bringing websites to life.


No Code/Low Code 


As part of the drive to make websites more functional, transactional and economical, many designers and developers are turning to no-code or low-code tools and apps to provide back-end functions. These cloud-based tools can be linked together to offer services such as data collection, e-commerce, and database management. The term ‘no code’ can be a little misleading, as these technologies still demand a level of skill that requires input from professional website designers.


Community


There is a strong movement for more engagement by SME’s in their local communities, and we envisage guest blogging, online competitions and other collaborations will become increasingly popular this year. Optimising websites for local search will be a big focus too, as businesses have learnt how important it is to be visible to customers in your area. The risk of cancellation has led many organisations to switch to virtual events, including streamed concerts, online conferences and even fashion shows. The technology costs for streaming have dropped dramatically, and we believe more businesses will start to incorporate live stream features into their websites.


Less Social Media 


There is concern about the increasing power social media companies have over the internet, but there is also growing resistance and pushback from consumers. We expect to see business owners redirect some of their social media budgets into website optimisation and content marketing. There is good reason to be a little sceptical about the advertising metrics provided by platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, as you can only take the information at face value. Analytics from your website give a much better indication of traffic volumes and sales conversions.


Integration


Integrating your website into your business software eco-system is the final trend we think will accelerate this year, as cloud-based integration tools become cheaper and more sophisticated. Some of the many options for integration include:

  • Feeding contact form details into your CRM application
  • Passing Shopify data into Xero 
  • Capturing website bookings with Calendly

If it’s time to give your website a boost—talk to the team at Activate Design. We do web design, graphic design, app development, branding, content marketing and SEO optimisation. We’d love to hear from you.

 

 

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Posted in Website Design

How to Create Awesome Content for Your Business’ Website

content writing topics

So you already have a well-designed, mobile responsive website. Congratulations! To make the most of it, the next step is to create content. This will not only help you rank higher on search engine results, but also convince your customers to buy your products and avail of your services.

One of the best solutions is to work with credible content writers. They have the skills to craft great content, not to mention a comprehensive understanding of how SEO works. However, just because you’ve hired the best content writers doesn’t mean that your work is done.

Indeed, in order to know what good content is, you need to understand how it’s made. Here are just a few considerations to keep in mind when creating content for your website:

Determine the Purpose of the Content

Good content fulfills a purpose. Thus, you have to first determine that purpose before you can start making content. Do you want to promote awareness about your business? Do you want customers to appreciate the benefits of your products and services? Do you want people to make a purchase?

Once you figure the purpose, the next step is to figure out your customer’s persona/s. This way, you can craft content that “speaks” to them, whether they’re mothers or young professionals or sports enthusiasts.

Using these two crucial factors, it will be easier to create content that has all the information your customers are looking for.

Don’t Be Too Clever

Of course, you have to create smart, helpful content that’s relevant to your customers. However, there’s a fine line between sounding intelligent and sounding pretentious. You want to avoid the second one, since it creates a bad impression.

Moreover, not all readers have the time to interpret your content. Thus, simplicity is key. You want your content to be helpful and easy to understand. It should also be straightforward. If you want them to do something, say sign up for an email newsletter, make a clear call to action for it.

Hold a Conversation

The age of the internet and social media has changed the way people communicate. These technological innovations have made brands more accessible, something with a personality that customers can relate to.

This means that your content shouldn’t be stiff and formal. Rather, it should be friendly and conversational. Imagine you’re a trusted confidante who’s trying to provide advice. You don’t want to sound condescending or indifferent, right?

Simply put, loosen up your language a little. You’re solving a problem together, so avoid talking down on your audience through your content.

Keep in Mind: Your Website Is NOT a Book

When people read a book, they usually start from chapter one and then go sequentially from there. This doesn’t apply to your website. In fact, depending on your SEO efforts, your audience will rarely land on your website’s home page.

This means that you should structure pages and content to be easily navigable. Be clear on what their journey should be, whether that’s to click “Add to Cart” or read another article.

Finally, if you’re not writing lists or steps (e.g., a recipe), you should apply the inverted pyramid technique used by journalists when writing content. The inverted pyramid puts the most important information on top then all the “deep-dive” details further below. This is perfect for content types such as press releases.

Make Your Content “Snackable”

In relation to the previous tips, you need to ensure that your content can be easily consumed. “Snackable” content is simply more user-friendly. Whether your audience has a lot of free time or not, they’ll easy-to-read articles and shorter videos appealing.

To create snackable content, divide it into distinct sections that are separated by descriptive headings. If and when applicable, try to use bulleted lists. Charts, tables, pictures, infographics, and other visual elements can also help break up intimidating walls of text.

When it comes to videos, try to keep it on the shorter end. About 3 to 5 minutes would be golden; anything longer should be hosted on video-sharing platforms. Obviously, you can still host long videos on your site. However, they would work best if uploaded to dedicated video sites.

The thing to remember is that creating content isn’t painfully complicated. However, it does take a lot of practice. There are also plenty of things to consider, such as the way search engines and social media platforms work when it comes to ranking your content.

Lastly, remember that you have to continuously update your website with fresh content. This will help keep you active and relevant to search engines, which means you’ll continue to rank high in search results.

Besides, you never know who will stumble upon your website. Consistently uploading great content—whether that’s a blog, a video, or a combination of different media—can show your audience that you’re always ready to help.