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Activate Design Limited

Flat Design: History, Advantages, Disadvantages.

In early web design, designers wanted to showcase their skills with vivid animations, three-dimensional graphics, and more. Then came skeuomorphic design, a design type which aimed to mimic real life with shadows, textures, and more. 

And most recently, flat design has become the leading technique for web designers. 

What is Flat Web Design?

flat website design style

Flat design is a UI technique that uses two-dimensional elements and bright colours. This means stylistic characters like drop shadows, gradients and textures are removed so that they lose the three-dimensional element. 

Flat design is commonly characterized by clean edges, solid colours, engaging palettes, flat/two-dimensional images and multi-browser compatible icons and fonts. It is meant to be minimalistic; and if a component of the design serves no functional purpose, then it is often discarded.

What are the Advantages of Flat Web Design?

Originally developed for responsive design, flat design enables web content to scale according to the user’s screen size. And with less graphical content, this technique allows the scaling process to occur faster, thus allowing the webpage to load faster. 

By removing older design styles that can quickly phase out of style, modern web designers are essentially future-proofing their designs to align with modern principles and ensure their websites continue to provide a positive user experience. 

What are the Disadvantages of Flat Web Design?

As with any trend, especially in the world of design, there are downfalls of modern trends. For one, it’s trendy. Many designers like to approach websites with their own style that does not conform to trends. 

In terms of stylistic principles, there are a few disadvantages to flat design. The first is colour. The use of bright colours often makes it difficult to match colours. 

Another issue is typography. If a font that is too slim or narrow is chosen, it may be difficult for users to read. 

And though flat design was intended to be minimalistic, many critics argue that it’s too simple. They suggest that it’s impossible to send complicated, sometimes underlying, messages in flat designs. Essentially, they’re implying that flat design limits creativity. 

With a better understanding of what flat design is, the history of it’s evolution may seem clearer. 

Creation Myth: Where Did Flat Design Come From?

Most of what we see on the web has origins from fine art. While it may be difficult to determine the exact start of flat design or where it came from exactly, we can look at a few periods of design and art that flat design takes inspiration from.

Swiss Style of Design

The Swiss style of design, also known as the International Typographic Style, is the main period of design that comes to mind when considering the history of flat design. This minimalist style was dominant throughout the 1940s and 1950s and mainly focused on the use of grids, sans-serif typography, and the clean hierarchy of content and layout.

Typography was a major element in Swiss design and soon our much loved Helvetica typeface was created in Switzerland in 1957. Thank you Switzerland!

Minimalist Design

Flat design has also been influenced by Minimalism. The term “minimalism” is sometimes used interchangeably with today’s flat design, but minimalism was a popular art technique decades before the web was developed. Minimalism has history in architecture, visual art, whereas flat design takes its influence from the design and visual art expressions of minimalism. Minimalism embraces efficiency. When you employ a minimalist aesthetic, you leave just the necessary elements. Geometric shapes, bright colours, and clean lines dominate both old and modern minimalism style design.

Who’s Your Daddy?

Microsoft and Apple have had the most impact on making flat design popular in the last decade. While Microsoft was working on its flat design style, Apple was working on something similar. Apple started hinting at moving away from its use of skeuomorphism, and then completely abandoned it in favour of flat design with the release of iOS 7 in the summer of 2013. The design of iOS 7 seemed to have made the flat design even more popular than it was before practically overnight.

Apple carries a lot of clouts when it comes to trendsetting styles and people tend to follow its design aesthetic because it feels more modern and on trend. So when Apple switched to flat design everything else seemed outdated and people began to redesign with this new, flatter design. This is most evident in the different apps that have been updated to work well with iOS 7.

Ring! Ring! Hello Responsive Design!

It’s important to note that the main reason flat design has become so popular in recent years is because of the development of responsive web design. As more and more devices are connecting to the web, with various screen sizes and browser restrictions, designers are finding that their tried-and-true design styles don’t translate as well when you have to shrink those designs into smaller viewports.

Flat design allows for the efficient web. Without the extra design elements in the way, clutter up space, websites can load much faster and are easier to resize to smartphones and tablets. It’s much easier to display crisp boxes and typography than it is to make several different images to accommodate all the various devices and features out there.

Back to The Future… of Flat Design

Considering how fast the web changes these days, it’s easy to say that flat design will eventually run its course in due time. It’s not the perfect design and there are obvious flaws. But as designers experiment, test, and learn, flat design will evolve and eventually a new style will emerge in its wake. Perhaps it’s just a matter of being able to incorporate it with other styles the way Google does. They take the best of both worlds…hmmm!

While the flat design may seem new and exciting and is a popular trend, it isn’t revolutionising the web. Flat website design creates a dividing line between technology and tactile objects encouraging a user-friendly and functional approach to ‘design’, with an emphasis on ease of operation. It makes surfing the web via your smartphone and tablet easier, but it’s nothing groundbreaking, is it?! Well, its user-centric foundations have seen it replace the old-school skeuomorphic design with a more simplified, universally recognised aesthetic.

Flat design empowers the UI of all modern Apple, Android and Windows devices. To adopt its approaches is to inherit its reach. It’s a style consumers expect and trust these days, and its introduction within the framework of your website could be the difference between online success & failure.

Flat UI designs, using brighter colours and flat visual effects with negligible or even nil gradients and graphical illustration, became popular because of the outrageous demand of something new and minimalistic. They follow a minimalist, responsive approach that is user-friendly, eye-catching, and works on any kind of website that exists.

Lost and Found

Have I lost you yet? This is a lot of information, but I’m going to give you some links to some more. There are plenty of resources out there that can help you better understand flat design and can advise you on how to use it on your own personal and professional projects.

There are literally hundreds of other websites that will offer you all kinds of flat design UI kits. If a flat design isn’t your aesthetic, then don’t adopt it as your design mantra. There are ways for you to stay true to your natural style and incorporate elements of flat design in order to stay up to date and contemporary.

The beauty of the flat design is that it’s clear-cut and clean. The sharpness and varied features result in a design that’s modern and tidy. If it’s too simple it may be unable to put across a complex visual communication. Some experts feel that this simplicity may be a disadvantage, but who can say for sure? At the end of the day, good design is all about usability and functionality. No one design can fit all websites and it’s up to you what kind of style you want to embrace. Right now, flat design is in fashion, so we feel it’s best to stay current and keep up with the trend.


Posted in Website Design, Graphic Design, Responsive Design

.nz domain names 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.

domain names concept image

Pre-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 1 pm, 30th of March to register, or your .NZ domain will become publicly available.


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.

Posted in Graphic Design

How Do Graduates In Web Design Get A Job

Mo’ Money: How do Graduates of Web Design Actually Get Paid?

Hey smarty pants, you’ve just graduated college and you’re ready to enter the real world and start earning some even ‘realer’ cash. How will you find a job? Some methods are better than others, especially when in the design industry. Conducting proper research ishire us hand written sign essential when it comes to job hunting for designers, as is the knowledge of how to create a good resume and portfolio. Here are some handy hints to help you secure a job quickly and hopefully with as little stress as possible.

You’re lacking in experience, but don’t let this hold you back. These days, all your skills are transferable: you just need to be able to communicate this effectively. What skills did you learn at that café that can be carried over to your new design career? If you’ve had any leadership or team-driven positions, it can look great on your resume, even if you were just a team leader at your local Mitre 10.

If you still have gaping holes in your resume, go into more detail about the particular courses you took at school. Be sure to highlight your academic successes, projects you completed, awards you won, and any travel you’ve done. Potential employers want to engage with your human side, so showcase your personality, not just your work experience and education.

You Are the Brand

In order to land your creative design dream-job, you’ve got to have a solid portfolio that demonstrates the high quality of design creativity you possess. Your resume and portfolio are essentially advertisements for your brand, which is YOU.

You can’t just send out mass emails with the same resume to every potential employer. You should tailor your resume and portfolio to each prospective employer, studying their design work and tailoring your content to reflect what it is they may be looking for. You’re clever, you’re talented and you need to prove it.

It’s the Little Things that Count

Reading full job descriptions and following the instructions exactly is imperative when applying for your first web design job. Employers do this to weed out the people who don’t follow instructions properly. Don’t wait for them to ask for a link to your portfolio, supply it immediately. If you don’t follow these precise instructions, you’re running the risk of being auto-deleted. Keep in mind that there may be hundreds of other designers vying for the same job, designers who may be more qualified than you. Give yourself at least a chance to be considered by not makings silly, avoidable, and embarrassing mistakes.

Web design job descriptions can be very vague and some terms can be misinterpreted for a completely different position. Front-end development, HTML, and CSS are all very different things and you may not know them all inside-out. Understanding what skills are appropriate for the job you’re applying for is very important. Time is money and you don’t want to waste it. That said, even if you don’t have all of the proper qualification, there’s no harm in taking a leap and applying for a position that is beyond your skill set. If your personality is spot-on and you’ve got the right attitude, a company just may take you on board with the intention of training you up properly and reaping the rewards with years of commitment.

Trade Me Jobs vs. Everything Else

The only place to start looking for a job is Trade Me Jobs, right? While it’s convenient to have Trade Me at your fingertips on your mobile or laptop, make sure you’re thinking out of the box. Yes, most businesses advertise on Trade Me first, but while there are oodles of jobs available, there are also hundreds of applicants pursuing the same position. Be sure to check out SEEK and be so bold as to check out the websites of the design firms and companies that you admire. Sometimes they may post listings on their sites. Check frequently. Even if you don’t hear a response back right away, some agencies will keep your information on file and contact you later on when they’re looking for someone. It’s an excellent idea to make yourself known to the agencies in your city, even if they don’t seem to be actively looking for a designer.

It’s a Popularity Contest

Using social media platforms as a medium to connect with others is a great way to create and develop professional relationships. Many designers hear about jobs through friends before a position has even been advertised publicly. Keep your mind and options open by seeing potential in everyone that you meet online and offline. New Zealand is small and you never know who you might meet and what opportunities they can provide for you. Start building up your personal network and don’t be afraid to ask if your fellow designers know of any jobs available. Your best chance of landing a design position may be through the personal connections you make.

Use Your Brains

Finding the right job after graduating may take several weeks to several months and that’s why you’ve got to keep track of the agencies you’ve already contacted and who you should follow up with. Create a simple Google Doc with a chart of the company name and a brief description, the name of your primary contact for the job and the date that you applied. This will help you see your job hunting progress all in one place, instead of your e-mail inbox.

If you’re not hearing back from any of the companies you’ve applied to, it may be time to try a different approach with your resume and portfolio and see if you get any better results. If you haven’t heard back from a company within a week, sending a polite follow-up note to remind them about your application is good way to proceed. But, don’t be too aggressive as they might just be overwhelmed with too many applications.

If you haven’t heard back in a month’s time, don’t barrage them with e-mails. Instead, put that lead on hold for now and pursue some others. Certain companies are too busy to let you know whether or not you’ve made it to the next round in the application process. Don’t take it personally and don’t get discouraged. You need to be pro-active. You make your own opportunities!

Let’s Break It Down:

  1. When it comes to your resume and portfolio, create something that will get a Creative Director to really notice you. It’s all about impact. You’re a brand and you need to be remembered. Create a portfolio that defines what you stand for. Create a talking point about you. Don’t let the fact that you stay less than a year at any given job be the only talking point. If you’ve moved around too much, be ready to answer some tough questions about reliability and commitment.

  1. So, you’re a brand and not the Ultimate God of Design. Let your work speak for you.  Don’t tell your potential employers how amazing you are. Remember, you just graduated, so while you’re fresh, you’ve also inexperienced and you don’t want to come off looking arrogant and deluded. The design firm that hires you is doing it because you’re cheap, you work hard, and you’re showcasing your potential.

  1. With so many books the same, your portfolio needs to be different. A lot of design schools churn out factory farmed students with the same work. It takes Creative Directors less than 15 seconds to determine whether a portfolio warrants further inspection. Great agencies look for a certain amount of professionalism and depth. If you really want to stand out, your portfolio needs to be stunning.

  1. Be ready to work hard. Studying graphic design is a luxury and while you’ve been doing work and learning over the last few years, there hasn’t been much pressure. You’re entering the real world now and you need to work harder, faster, and all-hours. You need an excellent sense of time management and you need to have a good sense of process. How do you approach your work? Where do you go for inspiration? How do you know when an idea is good?

  1. At the heart of it all, people are the most important assets in any design firm. You need to be able to engage future employees with your kindness, your attention and your eagerness to learn. Don’t go into an interview cocky and arrogant: you need them more than they need you. Employers are scrutinising your portfolio, resume AND your personality. Are you easy to get along with? Can you work efficiently with others and independently? You don’t need to be the best of friends with your work colleagues, but you need to be able to maintain an open and healthy dialogue. Good web designers are thoughtful, considerate, and not overly wrapped up in their own egos. Our designers at Activate embody all of this and more.


Posted in Graphic Design, Website Design

What Are Infographics & How Are They Used? | Activate Design

An infographic of a good infographicInfographics 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!

Posted in Graphic Design

The Importance of Professional Logo Design

Why is Professional Logo Design Important?

A logo is essential to any business, big or small, which serves as the foundation to branding and as a symbol that customers associate with the company.

A logo is critical for brand-recognition. Think Coca-Cola. Everyone knows that particular colour red and that swirly script that is associated with one of the most well-branded soft drinks on the market.

CocaCola Logo DesignHaving a strong logo and brand like this one means that we don't have to think on a conscious level, "what does this represent?", we can automatically recognise this brand at a glance.

This is the kind of brand recognition that is possible when you have a strong logo and bespoke branding strategy. People will come to recognise your brand at a glance, and the more they see it, the more you will be remembered as the "go to" company for your particular product or service.


The Infamous $100,000 logo design

NEXT Logo DesignMany design companies will offer you a fixed price and one option for your logo. We do not. An infamous example of the 'fixed price one option logo design' is the NeXT Logo designed by Paul Rand at a cost to Steve Jobs of $100,000.

Steve Jobs has this memorable comment regarding working with Paul Rand; “I asked him if he would come up with a few options, and he said, ‘No, I will solve your problem for you and you will pay me. You don’t have to use the solution. If you want options go talk to other people.’”

Now, not every logo designer is the next Paul Rand; and it’s unlikely that your business is like NeXT.  At Activate Design, we feel that it’s best to work through various ideas & designs directly with you, ultimately creating a logo that is best for your business.


What should a logo mean to me?

A logo is something that you should be proud to include on building and car signage, on company clothing and stationery. It must be unique to your brand and recognisable by your customers, and a signature of your products and services.

Activate logo design examples

Shaggy Bones Bakery logo: representing a bakery specialising in all natural dog treats.

Advanced Applicators logo: representing a service driven company established to distribute and install a range of Passive Fire Protection products.

For more examples of our logo designs, visit our Portfolio Page.

A logo is something that precedes you in business. In this way, your company logo will either be lifting your potential customers' expectations of you or it may be working against you, projecting a negative image. The latter can often occur if your logo resembles a competitor, does not relate well to your company or if the fonts or style is outdated.

Is changing your logo a good idea?

If you have a strong logo then yes, you could use it indefinitely. BUT, it’s worth noting that many well-recognised companies have continued to evolve their logo with time. Companies such as Microsoft and Coca-Cola, Shell, McDonalds and Apple have refreshed and reimagined their brand to keep up with modern styles and ideas.

We offer re-branding services as well, to give your logo new life. Re-branding can be very effective, and you can choose to debut a completely new design or maintain aspects of your previous logo; perhaps a shape or colour that served as the focal point of the design. Ask us about design and brand refresh, to give your brand a makeover with a splash of modern creativity and professionalism.

Apple Logo Design evolutionLogo left: Apple logo 1976 Middle: Apple's logo 1976-1998 Logo right: Apple's current logo.


How is creating a logo design with Activate Design different?

At Activate Design, logos are our passion, and we would prefer to work with you to create a logo that exceeds your expectations. We do this by listening to you, by offering you choices and by listening to your feedback.

We do not outsource your design work.  Our experienced designers will meet with you to discuss your needs. We then research your market to create a unique concept that will make you stand out from the crowd. The research is important to us because you need to be different.

For example, if we were to design a logo for your new soft drink company, it would be prudent to avoid a certain shade of red, and any similar swirly fonts that may relate to existing well-known brands. Business logo design is not just about creating something visually pleasing, it's about doing the research to back it up. About providing a design solution that meets the ongoing marketing needs of your company and being able to provide the reasons why it will work not and for the long term.

If you’re looking for a  logo design company, contact us today to discuss a new logo, logo refresh, or full branding strategy for your business today.


Posted in Graphic Design, Logo Design, Branding

5 Ways To Begin Working With A 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.

endless staircase going into the sky

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.

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.

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

Posted in Graphic Design

Web Design Project: The Complete Guide

When undertaking a new website project, there's a lot to consider. Here's our complete guide to building the website of your dream. 

At Activate Design, we will work with you to create a website that answers all of your clients' questions before they even 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.


cartoon drawing of a business meeting


Questions to Ask About Your Website Design Project

Before you build a new website (or rehab an old one), you should know why you're doing it. These questions can help you determine if it's worth the investment, and what the new website should offer.

What advantage(s) do I offer over my competitors?

You may offer better quality products, faster service, or a more diverse team to provide a wider range of solutions. Regardless of the advantage, your website must make it clear that you are better than your competitors.

How will my target audience be searching for me?

Are your customers likely to be searching for your website via desktop computer, tablet, or mobile device?

In any case, you'll need a responsive website design to adapt to all screen sizes, or a more dedicated mobile website to cater specifically to mobile users..

Do I want to sell online?

If you offer physical or digital products, an eCommerce store might be the solution you're looking for.

With our signature eCommerce platform, we make it easy for you to manage your products, inventory, and content, even if you're not technologically-savvy.

Do I want an online portfolio?

Are you a photographer, chef, or designer? An online portfolio is one of the best ways to show off your work.

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. 

How can a website benefit my customers?

Include testimonials, product reviews, and more to build trust with potential customers. If you own a physical storefront, keep your customers up to date with hours, in-store specials, and more!

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.

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.
  • 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 find your store.
  • 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.

Elements of a Web Design Project

The first steps of a new website are crucial. First and foremost, you should have an idea of how you want it to look and function for customers. 

The best way to do this is by doing research. Learn about website design and graphic design, and make mental notes of websites that you enjoy frequenting.

Main Navigation

Most websites have these standard pages:

  • Home 
  • About Us
  • Shop/Gallery
  • Contact

But depending on your business, your website may include pages such as:

  • Product
  • Blog
  • Equipment
  • Services
  • Meet the Team
  • History

If you're 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.

Extra Features


Classifying products into categories makes products & collections easier to find for customers.

Think about a costume shop. They may have different costumes defined as 'masquerade,' 'country,' and 'gothic.'

Separating these items into categories will make it much easier for your customers to find the type of costume they're searching for.

Navigation Features

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 Terms & Conditions and/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.

Posted in Graphic Design

Helix Industries

Another example of website design in Christchurch by Activate Design, with this newly launched website for Helix Industries.

An enjoyable project for us as it was a bit of an eye-opener to see the diverse range of tools, engine parts, components, moulds and more, that this company can produce. This website is also a good example of how we can assist with our Content Writing Services, if you're not sure how to best market your businesses unique abilities in a concise and effective way, for the web.

Helix is a Christchurch-based specialist in advanced engineering, who can cater to a wide range of requirements as well as being able to freight Internationally.

Helix Industries Website Design


Posted in Graphic Design

Browser Caching - something you should know


Most websites you visit will be saved in the ‘cache’, so that the next time you visit that site, your browser shows you the saved version of that website from your last visit. A very clever way of storing things for later use - BUT it means you don’t always see the current version of the website you are viewing!

Wikipedia offers this extended explanation;

"In computer science, a cache is a component that transparently stores data so that future requests for that data can be served faster. The data that is stored within a cache might be values that have been computed earlier or duplicates of original values that are stored elsewhere.

If requested data is contained in the cache (cache hit), this request can be served by simply reading the cache, which is comparatively faster. Otherwise (cache miss), the data has to be recomputed or fetched from its original storage location, which is comparatively slower. Hence, the greater the number of requests that can be served from the cache, the faster the overall system performance becomes."


A lot of our clients use our WEP EDIT PRO Content Management System (CMS), which is a system we have developed at Activate Design as an alternative to the many CMS systems publicly available today - specifically created to be user-friendly, as so many of the currently available systems are not. (Most CMS systems are programmer-friendly, not user-friendly.)

Caching is important to know for when you're making changes to your website in the Admin Panel of your site, then viewing your website - and your changes don't show up! This is likely to be because you are viewing the Cache version of your website. This is something that can cause endless frustration unless you know what is happening.

Why do things get Cached?

1. Caching saves time - a site can be loaded very quickly from the cache, rather than from it's source. Very handy if you are looking at the same websites regularly.

2. Caching reduces bandwidth and traffic - reducing congestion on Internet sources by showing viewers the cached version of a site they have previously visited.

Where is the Cache stored?

There are many ways in which a Cache is implemented, and it can depend on the settings of many of your browsing tools, from server to your browser itself. The Cache could be implemented by one of the following;

  • Caching in memory
  • Caching in files
  • Caching in the database
  • Caching in cookies


To view the current version of a webpage you are visiting do a 'Force Refresh' or 'Hard Refresh' in your browser.

This will tell the browser to pull up the latest version of that website, direct from it's source, rather than just show you it's cache version.

How do I do a hard refresh?

PC : hold down 'shift' and 'F5'.

Mac : hold down 'control' and 'apple' and click refresh.

I hope this has been an interesting and informative look at Caching, both for those who use our WEB EDIT PRO Content Management System, and for anyone learning more about browsing the internet.

Take a look at our Portfolio Page to see Activate Design's most recent website creations, and Contact Us if you would like to find out more about how we can create an effective new website for you!

Posted in Graphic Design

Effective Website Design

Here is some general information on what makes a website effective. This may be especially helpful for those of you who are using our unique WEP-Com Content Management System, enabling you to create your own pages, galleries, links and more.

So we know that there are infinite options available in how to layout a website, but to have an effective website that users will actually want to spend time viewing, here are a few tips to keep in mind ;



Many studies have been conducted on how people use the internet, how they view website pages, and what they choose to click on. Consistent results show that clear navigation makes the difference between an average website and a really good website.

Although you could have a snazzy website that looks like a spinning planet spitting out rocket-shaped pages of information - it would not be effective in that yes, people want to see something new, but in a familiar environment. If it's too strange, if there's no clear navigation to see what page you're currently on, where the links to the other pages are, and indeed what website you're even at - people will click on your website and then 'bounce' right back out again. Your websites' 'bounce rate' then becomes very high, negatively impacting on your website ratings.


Keep in mind what you are offering so that amongst all the information you are providing about your business, your staff, images, products, services and contact details, ensure there is a very clear and simple path for your customers to take in as few a steps (or clicks) as possible. Understanding why your clients choose to visit your site will help you cater your website to their needs. If they get in touch, always ask for feedback on how your site worked (or did not work) for them.


Some of us like to get a bit fancy, so instead of "home page" we have "home base", or possibly "home portal" or "starbase one" - cool, but in the fast-paced world of website-hopping, it should only take a fraction of a second to recognise a website's page name for what it is. Pausing on a webpage trying to work out what page "home base" is supposed to be, is simply frustrating, and if a whole website is like that then very few viewers would take the time to actually browse your website. Are you using standard terms for your navigation? Can you simplify your terms for easier recognition?



Clear navigation is one thing, but what happens when you navigate away from the main page? Do you get lost in the website pages, not knowing how many pages there are or where it ends - or do you have the reassurance of the same navigation bar, or simple listed text links of all the pages, located in the same place on every page - giving you the peace of mind of knowing where you are at all times. Having the page you're currently on highlighted in addition to fixed navigation on all pages will make navigating through your website much easier.


Websites must cater to the fact that most of us are 'skimmers' rather than 'readers' when it comes to browsing websites and we expect instantaneous results, whether that be clearly knowing what is where on a website, to being able to access pages in one-to-two clicks only. A site can be too clever, to it's detriment.

Example : I can across a site recently that was selling clothing, I was looking for a nice t-shirt for a friend but first I had to click on 'clothing' then choose 'mens' or 'womens', then click on 't-shirts', then select one of the many 'brand options' to get to view the range of t-shirts available in that brand only. When I did not find what I wanted I only had an option to go back to the home page and start again, or use my browsers 'back' button to choose another brand, view the t-shirts, go back, choose the next brand, etc.


Yes, it was clever, and it was organised, but it was too time consuming and I left feeling frustrated. What would have worked better would be to simplify the site into a two-click or three-click process, ie. clothing / t-shirts / and a gallery showing the full range, with some some sub-text under each product showing the brand, rather that clicking through to the brand first, thus reducing the number of clicks to access the product/information.

Is there a way you can simplify your current website? How many clicks does it take to get to the product/service you are offering? Can you navigate from anywhere in your site to exactly where you wish to go?

Contact us for any upgrades to your website design and layout, and View Our Portfolio for recent examples of the many successful websites our team has designed & created.



Posted in Website Design, Graphic Design

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