Important Things to Look for in the Best SEO Company

There are many companies out there that offer SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), so many infact, that the market is flooded with them. The blanket email spam sent out from these companies can become very frustrating, believe me - I know. For myself, I get multiple emails every single day from companies and individuals both in New Zealand and overseas (mainly India) offering SEO services for our Activate Design website.

Many of these emails start with: “I have viewed your website and believe I can improve your rankings by the following methods...” Another may say: “I have conducted a thorough analysis of your site and believe we can give you #1 rankings by …”

white hat seoMy first issue here is that if indeed these companies had actually viewed our website as they say they have, they would have seen that we ourselves offer a full SEO service. We also offer mobile sites, responsive websites, full website design, development and more. What I mean to say is; there’s no use offering window cleaning to a window cleaner right?

So I must conclude that these emails are spam being sent out without any real research having been done.

My second issue is are these companies using good "white hat" seo techniques, or agressive "black hat" techniques that rarely obey search engine guidelines and put your website at risk.

Is there any way to tell? My advice would simply be to use a well reputed provider of SEO. A good bet would be a company such as ourselves who don't soley offer SEO, but specialise in a host of other website related services.

My other advice would be to choose an SEO specialist in your country, that way if something goes wrong you know you can reach them easily to discuss and are not limited by electronic communication and time differences.

THE QUESTION YOU NEED TO ASK FIRST IS: CAN I TRUST SEO SERVICES FROM AN UNKNOWN COMPANY?

As a recent example, we were contacted by one of our Clients who had been intrigued by an offer of SEO that seemed too good to be true, yet also seemed quite legitimate. This initial email offer outlined a lot of points that appealed to our Client and the third party company seemed to know their stuff. Our Client had then spoken with this unknown company, (a wise step), although the company was not based in New Zealand, and decided to proceed with the service.

When they contacted us it was to forward an email requesting top-level access to their website to be passed on to the third party company. Our client had been informed that code would be added to their to site increase rankings. Without knowledge of SEO techniques themselves, our Client would have no idea what was being added to their site, and what could be hidden in the code that they would never find out about.

AT THIS POINT IT NEEDS TO BE CONSIDERED: HOW MUCH ACCESS TO MY WEBSITE SHOULD I GIVE A THIRD PARTY COMPANY? HOW MUCH ACCESS TO MY WEBSITE SHOULD AN SEO PROVIDER NEED?

The answer, in fact, is none. If you do decide to take a risk on an unknown search engine optimisation company either based in New Zealand or overseas, they should not need access to the background workings of your website if it is just some code they are adding to your site. As we suggested to our Client, they would be wise to have us check and add the code into their website for them, ensuring it is 100% legitimate and that their website, which is such a large marketing investment, is kept safe.

In this particular case, once our client contacted the company to inform them to send the code to be added independently, they never heard from that company again. Rather suspicious don’t you think? That code could have contained any number of things from links to other sites or improper and outdated SEO practices that would have had a detrimental effect on rankings.

YOU NEED TO KNOW: WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF USING AN OUTSIDE COMPANY FOR SEO?

There are many, and I’m not scaremongering here - I genuinely believe that a website is such an asset that we are more than happy to ensure it's continued security. After all, we take pride in our websites and want to ensure the optimum effectiveness of the websites we create for every business, individual or organisation.

The dangers you face of using an unknown SEO company are that your website could be made vulnerable, hacked, deleted, or simply undermined. What I mean by undermined is that there are many, many methods of SEO to increase your rankings, and the effectiveness of these methods changes constantly. SEO techniques change as search engines get smarter, for example, Meta tags were once extremely effective but are rarely used anymore.

An HTML Meta Tag is a form of data tag that is not visible on the site itself, yet still communicates to search engines about your web page. Meta tags were popularly used to convey information like page title, description and keywords. What occurred to change this was that dishonest websites were adding keywords to their meta tags that did not in any way relate to their website content, effectively luring people in to their website through dishonest means. Thankfully, search engine technology is constantly evolving and once it was determined that Meta tags could be manipulated to gain undeserved rankings this technique became less used if not completely redundant. A good SEO provider must be constantly updating his or her skills using "white hat" techniques to stay ahead of trends and avoid penalisation for using outdated techniques.

FIRST CONSIDER: WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY WEBSITE IS COMPROMISED DUE TO SEO SERVICES FROM AN ILLIGITIMATE PROVIDER?

What should I do if an SEO provider damages my rankings or results in my site being banned through "black hat" seo techniques?

If your site does not improve in rankings or actually goes down in rankings, there may be things we can undo to reverse the downward spiral and restore your website’s integrity. Contact us immediately!

If you website is banned from Search Engines, which happens more than you realise, we can re-create your website, making it much improved and more effective by employing good SEO techniques right from the start.

We work with SEO specialists who keep up to date with all the latest SEO techniques and developments to ensure any SEO results in a growth in rankings, not penalisation of rankings due to dishonest or outdated practices.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY WEBSITE IS HACKED OR DELETED?

Give us a call. If you have one of our websites then unless you have given someone access to your website background, your site will be very secure. Our CMS (content management system) is unique in that it has been developed by us. Most websites that are hacked are created in open-source Content Management Systems, such as Wordpress and Magento. Open-source cms are available for anyone to use, so unfortunately there are more people working on ways to compromise them.

If your website has been compromised then in most cases we can repair it for you and get it working again with minimum down-time. If your website has been created in an open-source CMS we have a lot of experience with a range of issues that can occur, and on several occasions when the corruption is too wide-spread, we have re-created complete websites in our more secure CMS.

I think it’s important to note that with our CMS you can still host the site where you like. We do not lock you into hosting with us as some other companies do. Having freedom of choice is for your simple peace of mind.

Our unique CMS was created in response to the fact that most CMS available were created for programmers to use, not people (not that er, programmers aren’t people…). So our CMS is very, very simple and straightforward to use, giving you greater control over your content and images, and allowing you to add, hide or remove pages, add links and much more.

So if you’re thinking of SEO services to improve website rankings, or if you’re have concerns about the ongoing security of your website - do feel welcome to contact our team at Activate Design. We have designers, developers, service support technicians, and just friendly helpful people like myself here to assist you whenever needed.

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Posted in Graphic Design

.NZ DOMAIN NAMES NOW AVAILABLE

It's the first time that 'second level' domain names are going to be available, and it's happening NOW. CONTACT US TO PRE-REGISTER YOUR .NZ DOMAIN NAME TODAY, at the same annual domain registration cost as your .co.nz domain.

Several reasons why .NZ domain names are now available:

  1. The first reason is simply that there will be more choice with .nz domain names!
  2. Another reason is a more representative domain name for you as an individual. A lot of people have .co.nz domain names and they're not businesses, so having just the .nz domain could be a better option for many. However, I would recommend registering the .co.nz as well, to avoid confusion for people trying to find your website, at least initially.
  3. A .NZ domain name also offers you a shorter option for your website address. This is also handy if you want to use your domain name for your email address, for example you could email me at: info@activatedesign.nz, rather than the longer info@activatedesign.co.nz.
  4. With the launch of available .NZ domain names New Zealand also align ourselves with other countries that have already have made this change. Other second level domains have already become available, such as .co and .org, where you can register, for example: activatedesign.co and activatedesign.co.nz.

stake_your_claim_856Pre-register your .NZ domain on a first-come first-served basis!

All domains will have a status level, that will let you know whether the domain name is available, conflicted, or if you have PRR status. Click here to do a Domain Status Check.

  • Available to register!
  • Conflicted : meaning that it has likely been registered in at least two second levels - e.g. someone holds (domainnames.co.nz) and someone else holds (domainnames.org.nz). There is a simple online conflict process that you can undertake to try to get your .NZ domain name.
  • PRR Status : "Preferential Registration or Reservation status". If your domain has PRR status you have until 1pm, 30th of March to register, or your .NZ domain will become publicly available.

DON'T MISS OUT ON YOUR CLAIM FOR YOUR .NZ DOMAIN

4th September 2014 - Pre-Register your domain. From the 4th of this month you can pre-register available and eligible PRR (Preferential Registration or Reservation) domain names. CONTACT US to pre-register your .nz domain name today!

30th September 2014 - Register your domain. From the 30th you can register available .nz domains on a first-come, first-served basis. If you have a PRR domain name (ie. you already own the .co.nz or similar) you'll be able to register it, or reserve it for free for up to two years.

30th March 2015 - PRR Domains Available for General Registration If, before 30th March 2015, you have not registered your company's domain name (ie. you own domainnames.co.nz, but have not registered domainnames.nz) then your .nz domain will become available for general registration to the public.

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Posted in Graphic Design

Effective SEO Techniques to Boost Your Ranking

The FYI of SEO in Web Design

SEO is everywhere on the internet and there are a lot of “experts” giving plenty of advice on how to do it right, but how do web designers use it effectively? It’s a subject thatHow to use SEO effectively in web design https designers think they understand, but opinions and facts can easily get entangled, making itconfusing the business owners who need to understand it the most. I’m going to tell you what you all you need to know about SEO.

With SEO Everything IS Black and White…

But the only 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 bad 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.

  1. Mark Up Matters

Semantically structure your mark up to help search engines understand the content of your webpage. Make it simple, stupid! Search engines like proper heading and titles. Use CSS to separate design elements from your content to make it easier for the search engines to find what they’re looking for. If your titles are declaring certain content, make sure you deliver.

  1. 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 much more specific to your product/service and use them effectively throughout your website.

  1. 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 of quality inbound links to your site has an effect on how high up the search engine your site is placed.

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:

  1. Hide-and-go-Seek

Hidden content is the sneaky, underhanded content hiding within the code for a site that is stuffed with keywords. It can also be hidden from users by 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.

  1. Stuffing is for Turkeys

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

  1. 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 are able to detect these pages, alerting the powers that be, and this can result in being flagged and banned.

  1. 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. This is unhelpful! Trust me when I say they won’t provide your sire with any increase in traffic. The only thing you can be sure of is the risk of having your site banned for participating in this scam.

The Internet is a Beast

SEO is important because it’s all about ranking. Obviously, a higher ranking is going to result in more customers, which is imperative for companies who 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 when it comes to 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 uses crawlers to create search engine result pages by finding your website via a link from another website or via the Add URL page. Google only follows href and src links. 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. In order to do this effectively, search engines use a ranking system. There are numerous factors that are taken into consideration and your SEO success depends on your understanding.

Ranking Factors

So, relevancy is determined by over 200 elements. And I’m going to list them all right here. No, no I’m not. Because it’s literally impossible to discuss them all with you right now. We can, however, look at a few of the main ones.

  • Links: When I’m talking about links, I’m referring to PageRank which is the link analysis algorithm used by Google. It takes the quantities of links into account and essentially translates every link 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 over-do 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: Beware the Penguin and the Panda. Google is pretty damn smart and over the last few years they have made a number of algorithm updates. These updates increase the quality of search results and help to fish out the phonies. Their two most recent updates, Panda and Penguin, have made the biggest impact. The Panda update went into effect in February 2011 and it affected almost 12 % of all search results. The Penguin update was announced in April 2012 and affected approximately 3.1% of search queries. When I say affected I mean that a sudden drop in traffic has been caused by a change in the ranking algorithm. Penguins and Pandas are super cute animals, but in the land of SEO, they are vicious and you need to be aware of them.

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. Get in touch.

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Posted in Graphic Design

Advantages of upgrading your website regularly

While a steady stream of updates, new images, projects and events added to your website will certainly result in both improved search engine results and repeat visitors, many people are unsure when it comes to the question "how often should I update my website?" and "how often should I launch a complete new website?"

At Activate Design we would advise seeking the advice of an experienced design agency to review the design and layout of your website at least every two years.

Depending on the cms (content management system) that your website has been built into, you may not need to have a complete new website built. In a modern cms system the design of the site can be completely refreshed while keeping the same pages and content intact, although at this time you would be wise to re-write your content

THE FUTURE OF WEBSITE DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT

We would like to say that with a modern cms (content management system) we would be able to update the design of your existing website each year or two, while keeping the core of your website intact. However, at the end of the day everything has a lifespan. It may be that we can continue upgrading our cms for quite some time, perhaps for many years to come, but we need to be flexible and aware enough to know that there may be significant change in industry technology that we would need to launch a new cms or undertake another

The comparison website below is a great example of how a website that was previously still able to offer customers clear information on the business, was upgraded to a much more professional design and layout, creating a much more modern website. The new site reflects positively back onto the company, that they are up to date with trends, and they care about maintaining a positive and professional presence, both online and in their

Seek the advice of an experienced design agency to make sure that your website is up to date with modern trends of both appearance and usability.

upright_before_home

Posted in Branding, Graphic Design, Website Design

Connecting Groups With Websites

We were recently contacted by a Christchurch-based creative organisation who were struggling with online resources that were limiting member access, updates and involvement. Here is their story and the solution that gave them everything they needed, simply and cost-effectively.


Is it okay that I only have a Blog for my Business or Organisation?

This is the question were were asked initially. The organisation was only using a Blog to reach all members of their group. This was working well for a time, except that the link to the blog needed to be manually emailed to every person each time a new Blog was added. If there was any update to the information contained in the Blog, all members had to be emailed again.

Emailing the link to the Blog was also risking the possibility of the member's email account being blacklisted, especially as the member list increases. Large amounts of bulk email being sent from one email address raises warning flags and may result in your email as been marked as a spam source.

In this case also, the link to the Blog - it's actual address - was very long and complicated. Once the group members had visited the Blog and deleted the email, they found they could not find the Blog again! Without easy access to an online reference of the groups events, members simply could not find out what was going on, and could not contact anyone except by phone/email to find out. This was putting a lot of pressure on the one person who was the main contact at that time.

Having a business Blog is a fantastic way of reaching your target audience, as well as attracting attention from the wider public. The trick of it is - where is your blog located? Is it easy for new and existing members or customers to find it online? Or do you need to email a blog link direct to each contact, every time you post a new blog? Would it make more sense to have your Blog available through your website, making it is simple to locate while drawing people to visit your website more often? And when they visit, you have more opportunity to advertise and advise on additional information, events and more.

Beautiful young woman reading from her ipad while enjoying her cappuccino at a coffee shopThe Solution For This Organisation Was A Website

By creating a cost-effective website for this organisation, we created for them a permanent home for their group.

The website provided the following advantages for all members:

  • A Website is easy to find: Members of the organisation could always find the website to check anytime for updates and changes to events. The website became a great and easy reference to direct potential members too, for more information.
  • It's so simple to contact people through a website: Members and non-members could easily contact the right people through the website contact form, and using clearly layed-out contact details supplied on the website. This is perfect for a website for a craft organisation or non-profit organisation to keep in touch online, without lots of phone calls back and forth.
  • Social Media traffic has a permanent place to call home. With a website, people who heard about this group from their Facebook page and Blog now had a place where they can go to find ALL of the information they want. Have you ever tried to find contact details and opening hours on a Facebook page? It's not fun.
  • The website content and images are editable by the group. The website was created in our unique cms (content management system) which is straightforward and simple to edit for all users. Having a website they could edit meant that the members could update their own information without incurring extra costs for changes. We also provided assistance with our Content Writing Service, to have well written and effective targeted content to ensure good initial rankings. Images and content could be changed independently, and the number of pages they could add to reflect their growing organisation was unlimited. In addition we offer Photography Services wherever required.
  • Members can choose who has admin access. This meant they can decide within the group who will be responsible for updating the website - ie. information and events. This could be several people not just one, rather than everybody - to keep things manageable.
  • Additional functionality could be added anytime. As the group came to rely on having a website, and to reference it for each event, it was the next logical step to add Calendar functionality. The organisation came to us for a way of listing upcoming events in a simple way, and we discussed the option of linking a Google Calendar into their website, but ended up creating a new calendar that is unique to them, directly on their new website.
  • A website that can be viewed on all devices. We coded the website 'responsive' to cater to the new generation of members who used their mobile phones and iPads to go online, rather than a desktop computer. What is a responsive website? A responsive website is a website that has been coded using a 'responsive framework'. A responsive website will automatically restructure it's layout and text size based on the size of the screen it is being viewed on. This means that regardless of the device they are using, members of the group and outside viewers will have the best possible experience viewing the site. This is great if you want to show someone your new site while out and about or at meetings, on your mobile device.
club_groupCOULD A WEBSITE BE THE PERFECT SOLUTION FOR YOUR GROUP OR ORGANISATION?

If you have a small craft group, non-profit organisation or are a sole trader or business and you are relying on Facebook, Twitter, a Blog or other social media just to keep in touch, then you are probably not reaching all of your members, or letting the general public know about you to encourage future members!

Contact Us to find out about the process of having an editable content management system to open up your organisation more effectively to all.

We also offer Graphic Design and Printing Services for all your complimentary print requirements such as members forms, docket books, letterheads, membership cards, business cards, promotional bookmarks and postcards, posters and more.

Posted in Graphic Design, Printing, Website Design

Christchurch Content Writing Service

At Activate Design, we offer a Content Writing Service for customers who are having a website created with us, or for whom we are producing print material such as brochures, posters and flyers.

As a content writer at Activate Design myself, I have thoroughly enjoyed recent opportunities to provide content writing services to a variety of businesses throughout New Zealand, assisting in the process of creative website development with direct and concise content for new websites, and for purposes of refreshing and expanding website content to coincide with a website recreation, update or relaunch with a fresh new website design.

Recently completed content has been produced by us for a variety of businesses undertaking website development and print marketing, including builders, painters and decorators, property management organisations, bio-security and decontamination specialists, interior designers, home loan experts, sign writers, architects,glass repairers and more.

As a writer it is a genuine pleasure and a welcome challenge to learn about such a variety businesses. During a meeting it does not take long to chat with a client about the most important aspects of their business to determine the main marketing aspects and areas of strength for showcasing on a website.

Written content for websites usually includes text for the following pages;

  • Home page - overview of business and what they offer.
  • About page - about the development of the business and the team.
  • Services page - key factors about the services offered.
  • Products page - key factors about the products offered.
  • History page - establishment and history of the business, which could include product development, personal histories of key staff, historical locations and more.
  • Gallery page - inclusive of keyworded content in association with each image
  • Contact page - to add a map, photos of premises, opening hours and all contact information.

Content Writing ServiceStudies have been done into the browsing habits of web users and it is generally understood that when a viewer lands on a website they will have made up their mind about the website suitability, in relation to their interests, in just a twentieth of the second.

What this means to a website development company is that each site must clearly display the nature of the business it represents, and offer attractive easily accessible information and written content such as clear headings and shorter sentences, to entice a viewer to read on.

Websites are not libraries. They are on the surface - quick-reference material for those on the go, while also containing more in-depth information for interested viewers.

A websites more indepth information, such as how the business was established and relevant experience of key staff, is also invaluable in providing validity for a business. For example, if a viewer is looking for an established company to manage the development and manufacture of a product, they will be looking for a website page on business history. This page should then provide the necessary information to validate the companies industry expertise. Whereas other viewers may simply be looking for an address and some quick contact information.

Personally, I often look up sites such as art stores to find their open-hours - and how frustrating it is when they're not listed! Make sure you list all possible information on your site so that your website is working for you 24/7 as a reference, a point of contact, and a proof of your validity as a professional in your industry.

I enjoy the challenge of writing content because for the most part, the workings, history, and products and services of business people that I meet are all an expedition into the unknown. I believe this introductory perspective is as great an advantage as it is a challenge, in that the content produced from learning about a business for the first time is then perhaps more clearly explained and defined than it otherwise would be if the writer were overly familiar with the company products and history.

The perspective of the writing can sometimes differ to suit what is best for a particular business. Sometimes the written perspective works best as being in the first person, for example "welcome to the Blue Shoe Company, we offer your our exquisite shoes in a variety of designs". At other times a third person perspective seems to work better with a particular website, for example "Blue Shoe Company offer products with a unique style and flair". WIth a third person style I like to include quotes from the management and staff, to ensure the site does speak direct to it's audience. Testimonials are also a great thing to include in your website content!

I believe in the discretionary nature of content writing as an esoteric service, provided for our clients with the intention of enabling them to speak directly to an online audience. Because of this belief I have not listed examples of websites for whom this service has been provided. However, if you are interested in looking at examples please contact me - Crystal at Activate Design, and I can advise on examples of completed content writing work, and discuss the provision of content writing for your business website or printed marketing material.

 

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Posted in Graphic Design

What are Infographics and How are They Used?

infographicimageInfographics are a method of representing data and processes visually using graphic design in a way that engages the viewer and enables them digest complex sets of information more easily. Graphic and web designers integrate infographics as a form of web content as part of online marketing strategies. Infographics have gained tremendous popularity in recent years due to their fun, engaging and creative ability to convey information, engage with wide audiences, and their tendency to go viral. Infographics are therefore a huge asset to web designers, bloggers and web content providers.

An effectively designed infographic should do the following:

  • Display relevant, accurate, often complex, and interesting information
  • Enable the viewer to absorb this information readily and enjoy doing so.
  • Be so compelling that the viewer is likely to share

What are the uses of infographics?

Here are some of the top uses of infographics:

Used as a tool for recruiting

Infographics can be used by designers or any applicant on their curriculum vitaes in order to effectively present their careers and their specific skill sets by utilising a personalised design style during job applications. The employers have also adopted the reversed version of these infographics by advertising a vacancy or presenting their company profile to prospective candidates.

These types of infographics will summarise the required skill set of an ideal candidate while also giving all the important facts and features of the company. Web designers should have a creative mind in order to make the job vacancy and the company as a whole appealing to all the prospective candidates.

Presenting survey data

Infographics are used to represent the results of a survey. The raw data in the form of numbers can often overwhelm readers. Infographics therefore organise and compress the data into a form that will make it easily digestible by the target audience.

Explaining how something works

Infographics are used to represent complex ideas in a simplified format. They can also be used to reveal the mechanics behind how an object or process works.

An infographics designer can reduce complex ideas, data, and processes to their core elements and represent the relationships between these components using simplistic design. Viewers can then visualise how each of the components come together as part of the bigger picture.

Draw comparisons

Infographics can visually display similarities and differences in data sets and / or processes or concepts, enabling the viewer to easily draw comparisons.

Interesting facts

Infographics can be used in order to make facts that may otherwise be boring, more fun and interesting. The simplicity and the visual appeal of infographics bring facts to life by creating an interesting interpretation and representation of the facts that can engage with large audiences.

Provide Information to consumers

It is no secret that a customer wants to make informed decisions when it comes to making purchases. It is therefore up to the businesses to provide information about their products and services in a simple, clear and concise format to their customer. Designers should therefore utilise infographics to do exactly that.

In summary

Infographics are an invaluable tool that can and should be used in your internet marketing strategy. They condense information into a visually appealing, and easily digestible document. They have a range of benefits and can be used through a large variety of niches.

You would be amazed at the types of infographics out there! Wired.com have compiled a list of the top 13 infographics of 2013, while the team at Creative Bloq have created a list of the top 80.

Contact us today to get started with your own infographics campaign!

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Posted in Graphic Design

5 best ways to begin working with your Design Agency

Your website is a valuable investment in your business.

Have a website created is a commitment in time and money, and it can be hard to keep up the enthusiasm and momentum required to see a project through to completion in a timely manner.

Project Steps for Website Development

What can I do to speed up a website project?

Website design and development can be a relatively quick process, sometimes happening in a matter of weeks, depending on the complexity of the project. But for this to happen your design agency will need good communication with you to keep the project moving.

Here are 5 tips to get you started and keep you moving forward in your website project, as well as how to get a head start so that you keep momentum going. Keep in mind it is much easier to jump into it and keep working on it regularly, than it is to stop and try to get back to it later.

 

Best Tips on Getting Your Website Project Started Efficiently

1.    Look at other websites in your Industry Your design agency have a lot of experience in knowing what design and functionality will suit your particular type of business. What will help you to have more input into your particular website project is to look at similar industry websites and see what else is out there. A little time spent researching what is already online in your industry and locality will empower you to have more input into the planning and development of your project.

2.    Take note of what it is about your favourite websites that you like We all have websites that we visit regularly, it may be of benefit for you to note down what you like about your favourite websites. It may be the way it's written, it may be the page names or the images on display, or even the colour scheme used. Knowing what you like will help you better communicate with your agency what you want for your own website.

3.    Start your content writing early You have decided to proceed with your site after talking with an agency, so you should now know what pages are initially being created for your website.

Keep in mind that with good CMS websites you should be able to easily and independently add or remove pages later, so for now you can concentrate on gathering content for the pages you know you have to start with.

Some of your initial website pages may be ; ◦    Home page - requiring an introduction ◦    About us page - with a bit more indepth info about you or the business ◦    History page - information on how your business got to where it is today ◦    How-to page - information on how your products / services work ◦    Team page - information on your team and their specialist skills ◦    Products / Services page - information specific to your products and services ◦    Gallery page - images of your products or services in action ◦    Contact page - contact information and a map to your premises

4.    Utilise the Agencys' Content Writing Services If your design agency has a content writing service, use their expertise to get your content written in a way that is targeted to the web.

Keep in mind that you can start on your own content, and then take what you have written to an experienced content writer, and get them to look it over and provide any advice or further content.

See our Content Writing Page for more information on creating effective website content.

5.    Make a firm decision on each stage of your website that requires your approval. Once you have decided to go ahead with a website, there are several times when your Design Agency will be waiting on your go-ahead.

You would be well advised not to put off deciding whether you are ready to proceed to the next step, as a delay will result in a distancing from the project for both parties. A design agency waiting to hear from you for over a week may have no choice but to give other projects your slot for the next phase of development, ultimately extending the completion date of your own website project. I would encourage you to get in touch with your design agency if at any stage you are unsure of where your project is at, or how long things should optimally take. Good communication will make the difference between your website project taking weeks or months.

A good experience working with your chosen agency will build trust and peace of mind for dealing them in future if you choose to have them host your website and manage your domains as well as make any changes to your website that you may want to have done in future.

Visit this link for more information on our website process, and you're welcome to take a look at our website portfolio for recent examples of our clients' completed website projects.

Contact us to discuss undertaking a website project for your company, and for a free quote on a site that is right for you.

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Guidelines for a new website project

Help with planning a new website project - where to start.

When undertaking a new website project there are some questions you can ask yourself to make your path to success clearer, and to ensure you know the steps that need to be taken. 

We will work with you to create a website that answers all of your clients' questions before they even have to ask. Every company deserves a website that represents them, their team, and their products and services in the best possible light. Make it simple for your clients to find you, and to find exactly what they want.

Website development meeting website project meeting

Questions to ask about your website project.

  1. What is the advantage of my products / services over my competitors? You may offer better quality products, faster service, or a more diverse team to provide a wider range of solutions.
  2. How will my target audience be searching for me? Is your customer base likely to be looking for your from a home or business computer, or could they be travelling and using a mobile device, or both? You may need a 'responsive' website to work on all devices, or a more dedicated Mobile Website to cater specifically to your Mobile-savvy audience in addition to, or instead of, a standard CMS website.
  3. Do I want to sell online? You may need to look at having an eCommerce website for online sales, and one that you can easily use. Too many eCommerce systems have been developed for Programmer use and are not client-friendly. We have our own WEP system we have developed specifically to make it easier for clients to manage their own website content.
  4. Or do I want an online portfolio? Your website can become a place that provides further information about your products and services, and gives your business a contact point while showcasing your company as a well established and legitimate place of business. Either way there is still some planning to do how to best promote your online presence...
  5. What specific benefits do our customers receive? You can include information on how you best meet the needs of your customers, or perhaps, why your loyal customers keep returning to you.
  6. What examples of previous successful projects can we offer? Do you have photos of previous jobs you have done, products you have developed, or in-store displays that best showcase your work? Do you have customer testimonials of how your work has satisfied your clients? People love to be assured that what they are getting has exceeded the expectations of your previous customers.
  7. What can we offer online? What you can offer online through images and testimonials is legitimacy that you know your industry and can offer top quality products and excellent service, but there is so much more you could offer ;
    • Free downloads for more information or software.
    • Online booking for tours, rentals or accommodation.
    • Special deals or vouchers just for visiting your website.
    • Online support with instant messaging, or a contact form for more convenience in getting in touch with you.
    • A map and clear instructions/images to help people locate you.
    • Images of your premises, so when they arrive the surrounding are familiar and make your customers feel more comfortable.
    • Staff Profiles, so your customers can feel like they know you.

Taking the first steps towards a website project.

It's those first steps that will be most important in your website project, and they are knowing what you want and how you want to be represented. My advice to you would be to look around. Find our more information on Website Design. Take a look at what others in your industry are doing. Take a look at design for specific industries, for example; Graphic Design for the Hospitality Industry, and Graphic Design for the Construction Industry. Look at a whole bunch of websites to see what you like in the way of design and layout, and in the pages that they have listed.

A good website will usually have these standard pages;

  • Home page
  • About us page
  • Gallery page
  • Contact page

Dependent on your business, you could look at having dedicated website pages for;

  • Products page
  • Equipment page
  • Services page
  • Team page
  • History page

If you are a restaurant you may want to look at having a full menu page, and a downloadable version of your menu. If you're in the industrial sector you may want a page on new equipment for sale, and a separate page for used equipment. We can help advise you on the best way to display and promote yourself, making navigating your website an easy and enjoyable experience.

For easy viewing items can be separated into categories. For example, a costume hire shop may wish to showcase their items under 'masquerade', 'country' and 'gothic'. Separating items into categories can make it much easier for your customers to find what they want, and an easy site to view is going to keep people coming back.

There are standard features of websites that make it easier for people to navigate through your website, and these are things we can discuss with you in more details in a website planning meeting.

Some of these features may include;

  • A Search Bar - to enable quicker results for specific requirements
  • Navigation Footer Links - so people can have a better overview of what's on your site, and to avoid a 'lost in space' feeling.
  • Legal Information - including t&c's or guarantees associated with your products and services.
  • Instructions - on how to use an item, how to order an item, or information on special features.
  • Instructional Videos - links to instructional videos on your website are a great reference point for your customers, and will keep them coming back, as well as referring friends to your site to view your clips.

Take the time to browse the internet and note down things that catch your eye, or sites that were simple and enjoyable to view. View our Activate Portfolio for the most recent website design and development projects we have undertaken, and CONTACT US to discuss how we can create a website that will be like an online branch of your business, working 24 hours to ensure your customers can find you, and see exactly how you can meet and exceed their expectations.

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Epic Entertainment

Take a look at this newly launched website for Epic Entertainment - showcasing the promotional talent, themed events, dancers and fashion of this dynamic company.

For more examples of website design and graphic design by our local Christchurch based design company, check out our Porfolio!

epic entertainment website design

 

 

 

 

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