Websites for Staying Connected

Websites for Staying Connected

We live in a fast-paced, busy world. People always have somewhere to be, something to do, or someone to see. So how is your business maintaining its connection with your customers and clients? With so many things competing for their attention, you need to make sure that they realise you’re still there, that you care about them, and that you appreciate their loyalty.

One great way to stay connected in this online-focused age is through your website. It’s easy to think that once you have had your site built and it’s live online, that’s all there is to it – but please don’t just forget about your website! In order for it to generate you continual business and new clients, your site needs to be current, up to date, and full of interesting information and resources for your clients.

Perhaps your website needs a bit of a makeover?  If you’ve had the same graphic design and layout for the last 8 years, then it’s likely to be less than attention grabbing. Just as fashion trends are constantly changing, so is the world of online design. People will notice if your website is still wearing last season’s look. You might be surprised at how a few simple changes can make a huge difference!

Using your website to stay connected is about more than just design though. You want your site to ‘talk’ with your customers, to let them know what’s new and happening in your neck of the woods. Adding regular updates on your home page can make a big difference, and if you want to venture into the world of blogging and social media (which we will cover more in a future post) then that offers plentiful opportunities to stay in touch with your target market, and gather valuable feedback on what they really want.

Make sure that the people out there know all the services and products you have to offer! If you have recently launched a new aspect of your business, then your website should reflect this. Another effective way to keep you customers in the loop is by sending out a regular, monthly or bi-monthly email newsletter. This needs to be interesting and informative, so that it doesn’t end up in the trash box but is instead considered a valuable resource.

In summary, these three key points will help you stay connected in today’s world:

  • Your Website Design needs to be current.
  • Keep up a Conversation with your customers – be it through blogging, newsletters, social media, or regular website updates.
  • Reflect your products and services on your website!
If you’d like some more pointers, or just a friendly chat, we love staying connected at Activate Design.

Give us a buzz, or pop in and see us.

Posted in Website Design

How to Avoid Big Mistakes in Web Design

It’s easy to say what a good website is made of, but what are the most common mistakes that result in badly designed websites? There are many culprits to consider when discussing bad web design. At the top of this list, as you will see from my previous blog post, are web building sites that claim web design is easy. Let’s have a look at what exactly constitutes good web design before we consider its pitfalls. If you take the time to browse the multitude of websites on the internet, you’ll come across some pretty inventive web design. But for every properly constructed, engaging and innovative website, there are hundreds of poorly designed ones.

Let’s Take a Ride

shaggybonesbakeryGood web design is about transmitting information in an effective way. How a website is able to effectively guide the eyes of the viewers is paramount. It’s the designer’s job to lead users around the screen. Different parts of your design act as road markings for the user. A well designed website doesn’t just take you to a store and leave you there. It helps you navigate around visual sign posts such as logo and brand to positioning statements and main body text. One of the most frustrating experiences for me, as a designer, occurs when I enter a site and get lost immediately. I can tell you right now, I don’t stick around very long in a website with bad layout. Mastering navigation is a crucial skill involved in good web design.

It takes a lot of skill to create a website that acts as a map for the user. You have to consider the position of information and you need to know how to use colour in a way that will influence the user. Good web designers know the importance of contrast in making something important stand out. Not only is skill important, but you have to have a strong sense of design sense and taste.

Entering Space

It’s tempting, when faced with a blank screen, to fill up the space with text and images. But there needs to be a certain amount of blank space to give a good website a sense of flow. You don’t want to inundate the user with too much information all at once. It can be off-putting and overwhelming. Using space is an art. Proper spacing can make content appear clearer. You need to consider how you space out your images, but more importantly, how you space your text. Keeping the user’s eyes engaged can be difficult. Eyes can easily get lost with too much space in between lines. If there is too little space, the text can be confusing to read. It’s truly a fine balance.

Good web designers understand the importance of padding and white space. Remember the golden rule: text should never touch other elements. There needs to be a good amount of white space around images and text. It makes your content easier and more pleasurable to read this way. Keep in mind that less is often more: white space gives balance and proportion, creating a more elegant vibe. A cluttered website is the sign of a dodgy business.

May the Font be with You

Have you ever tried to read something created with a terrible font? It’s nearly impossible. The internet is awash in bad font design. Text is the most integral element of good design, so it's surprising to come across so many websites who put so little thought into it. When designing a great website you have to consider which fonts to use and the statements they make. Bauhaus 93 and Times New Roman will not transmit the same information.

And Remember: size does matter! If your font is too small it’s going to be really hard to read which defeats the point of your website in the first place! Your font choice is crucial in transmitting the information you have to your user. Subscribe to consistency, readability and proportion when designing a site that works effectively and efficiently.

Sweet Dreams are Made of These…

When building your dream website, don’t let your imagination run too wild. If you spend all that time picking a font that isn’t a standard HTML font or you start playing around with tricky vertical alignment, you may end up with a beautiful website that isn’t user friendly. Designing a site and building one are two entirely separate realms. When in doubt, keep it simple. Good web design isn’t just about superficial good looks. As with most things, beauty is found on the inside! A well thought out website is a user friendly one. If your site is friendly, it’s going to be popular and you’ll see the proof in your pudding, er, traffic!

When you design a website, you have to think like a user. Consider the different tasks people might do while they’re there. Make it easy for them to get what they’re after. There’s no law against having a look at what your competitor sites are doing.  While you may be a complicated artist with a grand vision, good web design is essentially a tool for people to find what they’re looking for. And considering the amount of competition out there, you can’t afford to make your site too complex. Here are my top five worst mistakes being made in web design currently.

1. Absence of Contact Page     This mistake is particularly puzzling. Why design a site in the first place if you’re going to make yourself unavailable to your customers? Time is money and not a lot of people want to waste it by filling out lengthy contact forms. Ensure your physical address is available, along with your landlines, mobile numbers and email addresses. The lack of a contact page gives the impression that you’re unreachable which isn’t going to help your business.

2. Absence of Social Network Links All smart businesses have their own Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and even Pinterest presence. IF you’re not linking your social media network to your web page, you’re simply missing the point. This means you’re also missing the traffic. When handled properly, social media networking can generate a lot of buzz for your business. They help to form a relationship with your customers and they are an excellent source of free advertising.

3. Underwhelming Content Let me make myself very clear: the success of your site is incredibly dependant on the quality of your content. Consider your content to be like the freeway to your website. Bad content is like a dead end: no one is going to travel to you. Your writing has to be good, engaging, and interesting; however, the structure is equally as important. Use headings, sub-headings, and for god’s sake embrace the paragraph. Oh, and brush up on your grammar people!  If you’re not a strong writer there are plenty of capable SEO companies who can do the work for you at a reasonable rate. They’ll also help direct more traffic to your site as it’s what they do best. It’s also imperative to keep the content up to date. Grammatical errors and old content give the impression that you don’t care. This website is the face of your business so make sure it looks good. You can’t afford to lose the customers or the credibility, can you?

4. Broken Links lead to Broken Hearts Can I just say: ARGH! Broken links and bad links are the worst thing that can happen to a website. Make sure you take the time to test out the links on your site and do this weekly, if not daily. Broken links on your website are sure indications that you don’t care enough about your business. They make you look incompetent and amateur. It’s almost as bad as having automatic music playing the background. Don’t get me started on that…

5. Nasty Navigation This guy is the worst. Look, competition is fierce out there. If you build a website that people can’t figure out, they’re going to move on to your competitors. These days, no one has time to waste, especially you. Make sure there’s a navigation bar on every page that guides visitors to other areas of your site. It has to be visible at all times. Make sure your back buttons are in working order. You want your website to be an enjoyable experience for users. Try to make it as less frustrating as possible.

Clean, clear and simple are rules that you should follow when considering web development. All it takes is a little common sense and intuition. Create an easy navigation system with intuitive navigation bars, search boxes, and don’t clutter them up with too many images and sound effects. You’re not George Lucas, you’re not.

I guess the best advice I can give you when it comes to creating good web design is to put your business in the hands of the experts. Come in and talk to one of our helpful experts today!

Posted in Website Design