Why Your Website is My Baby Too

Often times when a project is very dear to someone you will hear them refer to it as “their baby”. As a project manager I do this quite often when discussing my projects with my peers and even with my clients. It sounds silly but there are many reasons why I think your website is my baby too and why you want your design company to think like this!

First of all I care about your website as much as you do every day. Managing a web project is what I do day in and day out and each of my projects I care about seeing from beginning to end. In the end this website is going to represent your company as a whole but it will also represent my design company too. So I care about the design, the functionality, and the ease of use for your future growth and expansion. When picking a design company you want them to care about your website as if it was their only project because that’s how you know it’s getting done right.

Second of all, like a baby, building websites involves planning for the future. This just means that I care about your project and am going to let you know if something isn’t working right, doesn’t look right, or may not be the best or easiest thing for you to manage in the future. Ideally you want your design company to be focused on making sure your website will last you several years down the road. Your website will grow and change over time so what you want to focus on is not only how your site can accomplish what you need for today but what can it do for down the road.

Finally because I care so much about your site and project I may seem like I am demand a lot when working on a project. Things like getting approval on designs, getting your content finished and getting a site launched. I’m doing this because your website is being built to reflect YOU and the only way to do that is get it out there in the public. Your design team will push you to complete your site not so that you are rushed but because having a finished product that represents you in the best way possible is our ultimate goal.

All in all when picking a design team you want to know that they care about your project as much as you do. You want to know they will stay in communication with you, will help you build a site that you can grow with, and help you stay on track to show that baby…I mean website off to the world.

Why Simple is The Best

Many times when a business decides to redesign or create a new website the first thought they may have is: “How do I make my business stand out?”. As a business you may think that your site needs to be busy and have lots of “pop” or “pizazz” in order to make people remember your site and what you do. However when it comes to website design, simplicity can be the best and really make you stand out among the crowd. There are a few things that you can do to keep your design simple but very memorable.

  • Take a look at a flat design: A Flat design is a minimalist design that has elements such as clean easy to read font, a lot of negative space, flat colors, and easy to navigate features. The benefits of a flat design are that it’s easy to convey and present information while keeping the design appealing and approachable.

 

  • Reduce 3D effects, gradients, and shadows: All of these things could be used sparingly on a design but too many of them will clutter up a page and make it hard to navigate, hard to get information and be too busy on the viewer’s eyes.

 

  • Consider using static images rather than a slider: A slider is a great idea to get a lot of information in a small amount of space but if done wrong they can be distracting and can cause clutter. Take a look at our blog: To Slide or Not To Slide, to get additional ideas to do on your site.

 

These are just a few reasons why simple is the best. Remember the less busy a design is the more your viewer will be able to focus on your content and what you can do as a company.

It’s almost always a great idea to have a simple design with bright colors, lots of images, and great content. By doing this, you will definitely stand out among the crowd.

Using Call to Action Buttons on Your Website

What Is a Call to Action?

A Call to Action is a clear direction that encourages the visitor to take action. The most common example is a button or link telling visitors to “Buy Now”, “Call For a Free Analysis” or simply “Contact Us”.

Why Use the Call to Action?

A website is primarily informational. It usually contains information about your company or product and lists various features or benefits. It should explain who you are and what your company does, why visitors should do business with you, etc.

All this information is great, but it leaves the visitor free to wander around the site with no direction from you. That’s great, but you are trying to get sales! Or at least trying to get leads from your website.

In order to get sales you need to exert some control on the visitors going to your website. A Call to Action is a great way to do this.

Think of a Call to Action as a way of guiding your visitors to the next step they need to take and exerting some control over them to get them to take that next step.

For instance, most companies dealing in high end services or products need to talk to their prospects on the phone before they make the sale. The details of what they are offering are usually too complex to put on the website.

In this case you would put enough information on your website to interest visitors, convince them that you are a good company to do business with and get them interested in getting a quote, or getting an analysis of their needs. You could then feature a button on every page that said “Free Consultation” or “Find out more information” “Talk to a specialist now”, etc.

This button would send them directly to an online chat or email form so that a salesperson could get in touch with them right away. This way you turn your informational website into a lead and sales generation machine which is working for you 24/7 instead of just an online magazine for people to browse and then forget about.

Conclusion

The call to action is a way to direct focus and give the visitor a clear route to the next step they need to take on your sales process.

When using call to action buttons, consider what you want the visitor to do: what your primary aim is, and how this fits in with your sales steps. It might be to sign them up for a free trial, complete a survey, ask them to contact you or get a quote.

Whatever it is, make sure you have a Call to Action featured prominently on your website to ensure your visitors know the next step they need to take and that they take it.

Don’t leave your visitors uncontrolled.

Tell them what the next step is, exert some control on them and start increasing your sales!

Getting On the Same Page

When you want your website to look a certain way, you need to be able to communicate effectively with your designer. Instead of “pop”, use terms like “contrast” or “gradient”. The more specific you are, the closer you will be to getting the design of your dreams! Here are a few terms to help you when communicating with a designer.

Above the fold
Referring to the part of the web page that is visible on-screen before the user scrolls down.

The term was originally used with reference to newspapers, where the newspaper would be folded and placed on a news stand. The visible part of the paper (above the fold) is what sells the paper.

In web design, the part of the site that is above the fold has the same function. There must be enough content of interest above the fold to make the user want to dig deeper.

Backend
The backend of a web site refers to the HTML, code, files and server processes that make the website work. The backend is what the web designer builds, the frontend is what the web site visitor sees.

Body Text
The main text portion of a book or website.

Block Quote
A long quotation–four or more lines–within body text, that is set apart in order to clearly distinguish the author’s words from the words the author is quoting.

Character
Any letter, figure, punctuation, symbol or space.

Contrast
The state of being strikingly different from something else, typically something in juxtaposition or close association.

Domain
A domain name is a name by which a web site or web server is identified, for example www.webdesigndictionary.com. Domains can include letters, numbers and hyphens only.

Gradient
A gradient, or graduated fill, is a color fill that gradually blends from one color to another.

Hierarchy
A system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority.

Kerning
In typography, the reduction of letter spacing between certain character combinations in order to reduce the space between them, performed for aesthetic reasons.

Negative Space (or whitespace)
In design, the space not occupied by the text or images.

Pixel
Shorthand term for picture element, or the smallest point or dot on a computer monitor.

Sans Serif
In typography, characters (or typefaces) without serifs, which are lines crossing the free end of the stroke. “Sans serif” means “without serif”. Example below

Serif
In typography, an all-inclusive term for characters that have a line crossing the free end of a stroke. The term serif refers to both that finishing line and to characters and typefaces that have them. Example below.

Example of Serif and Sans Serif:

SansSerif

Knowing the terms involved in the field makes it possible to have a conversation with your web design company and actually speak the same language! Good companies will understand you anyways, but it never hurts to get a working knowledge of the terminology in a field you are working in.

Reaching the Finish Line

When working on any project, reaching the finish line and getting the project complete and launched on the web is always the ultimate goal.

While working to get their websites done, occasionally some people start to feel that their project will never be “complete” because the information they are trying to display on the site is always changing. This is something I have encountered as a Project Manager with several of my clients. Here are a few things to keep in mind when finishing a web site:

1. Your Content
2. Content Management System
3. Grow Into Your Site
Reaching the finish line with a web project may seem daunting, but if you remember that while the information on a website is almost always fluid and changing, the design of the site is something that is usually fixed for some time, it will be easier to finish that project.

Remember that a good web design company is going to direct you into the best structure for your site so you can use it for many years to come.

Keeping Viewers Interested

You’ve decided that you are going to get a custom website created for your company. You are probably wondering how to keep your customers and viewers interested in your site and how to continue to drive in traffic. In the “Web World” there are a couple of basic ways to drive traffic and keep visitors coming to your site for more. These are:

Blogs
Being Socially Connected

By using a blog and plugging into social media, you can make sure that you are doing what is needed to drive traffic to your site, which will ultimately make you more visible to the clients you need to reach.

Trust Your Team

I remember as a kid when I went to summer camp we did this “trust” exercise where we were broken into groups of people. Often times we were put with people we didn’t know and then asked to fall into the crowd. Looking back it seems silly, but at the time I didn’t know who these people were and I had to trust that when I fell off the platform into that crowd they would catch me. The point of the exercise was to force you to trust the unknown and learn to trust the people that were on your team.

I often times think that when a business makes the choice to dive into or enhance their web presence they can have the same feeling, like that kid at summer camp being asked to fall into the crowd. As a business, when you pick a design team to work with, there is a lot of trust that you are handing over to that design firm.

Here at Studio98 we don’t just create boring websites, we create Showcase websites for our clients to really communicate who they are and what they do. Having a passionate team build your website makes a huge difference in how the design is going to come out.

Our Project Managers (including me) thrive in the area of pulling together all of the pieces of a website and we work to be the best we can possibly be at it. Our sales team knows it’s not just about “making the sale”, but connecting with the client and starting the process of creating something amazing. Our designers are true artists and with every design they create, they want it to be amazing for the client but also be an amazing piece of art. Our developers have trained extensively on how to take a design and use code to turn it into a website that is a pixel-perfect rendition of the designers work. This is harder than you might think, but they are expert at it and they love doing it.

When choosing a design firm, find a team who believes that working in web design is not just “a job”. As cliché as it sounds, for them, it should be a way of life and they should be passionate about helping communicate your business to your clients. This goes a long way towards promoting trust that they will handle your website with the care it deserves. People who love what they do, generally do it very well.

So if you take care when you pick your design team, pick one with passion and one that you feel you can communicate with, you will have a much easier time trusting them than those strangers at summer camp.

If you are going to get your website done right, you need to be able to trust your team.

How Fonts Affect Your Users Experience

Recently, Researchers at MIT conducted a study which proved that fonts can impact how we feel. A bad font can make us unconsciously feel bad, while a good font can make us happy.

We relate fonts and font styles to our past experiences. This is often influenced by the culture we grow up in. For example, sans serif fonts are commonly used on official U.S. government forms. However, in England, sans serif fonts are more commonly used by tabloids. The context in which different fonts are used changes how we feel when we see them.

In case you need an example, THIS IS A SANS SERIF FONT and THIS IS A SERIF FONT. Sans serif simply means without serif. Serifs are the finishing strokes on the tops and bottoms of the letters. You can see that the sans serif font looks the same on every part of the line which makes up the letter, whereas the serif font has little strokes on the ends of the lines.

Some fonts are easier to read than others. The harder your eyes and brains have to work to understand the paragraph, the worse we feel afterwards. Serif fonts were originally used by the print press, because serifs have been proven to help the eye move from letter to letter.

When computers were first used, computer screens had low resolutions. Serif fonts didn’t look right with the poor screen resolution that was available back in those days. So, early designers started using sans serif fonts.

Let’s take a look at a specific example. Comic Sans is the most hated typeface in the design community. THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF COMIC SANS. Let’s take a look at why this is not a good font to use. It was designed for Microsoft to provide user-friendly menus for people who were a scared of computers. When it was included as one of the font choices in Windows 95, it took off. Everyone with a computer and the idea that they could do “graphic design”, started using it on their party invites, store signs, personal emails, and so on. Comic Sans wasn’t designed to do all these things, so why did everyone like it so much? The designer of Comic Sans himself thinks people like to use it because “it’s not like a typeface.” That very fact ensures that it will look unprofessional and even childish when used on official documents or business websites. This is an example of a font producing a bad effect in terms of marketing. It associates your company with unprofessionalism and perhaps childishness? What better reason would there be to not use Comic Sans for a business?

Try out different fonts before deciding which is right for your company. If you are having trouble deciding, consult a professional. This way you will ensure the font you chose will make users happy, and be good for your company.

Why You May Want To Think Twice Before Going Local

Globalization is a big topic these days in universities.  For us “Millennials”, it is a part of our every day lives.  We buy foreign cars, wear foreign clothes, and buy anything we can online. We don’t think twice about it.

This doesn’t happen all the time, but it still surprises me when a client decides to work local instead of working with a company that works globally for the sole reason of going local. You do not find large companies doing this, it rarely comes up. Especially when it comes to technology.

I feel that there are many perks to working local, but there are many points you should consider before you write off certain companies with great reputations who aren’t next door.

    • BIGGER TALENT POOL 
      Our company, for example, has many of our staff that live and work in our offices locally, but for designers and programmers, we hire the best of the best, wherever they may be. This has led to having exceptional staff in London, Austin, Los Angeles, Chile, etc. This means that we get to go through infinite resumes to find the best staff. As for our staff, living wherever they’d like makes them happier, thus resulting in better products for you.

 

    • SAVE TIME 
      Many global companies save time by not traveling to see their clients at a moment’s notice. If a company takes time out of their day to come see you, this means they’re going to be doing this for their other clients as well. They may be sitting in traffic trying to get to another client’s office when they could have been working on your project. I also tend to find that meetings in person take 2-3x longer, making you much less productive. I personally can only do 3-4 face-to-face meetings a day, whereas I can get 10-15 conference calls in the same time. Last point on this one is… you’re busy! You don’t have time to sit down for hours in your project going over questions when a quick 5-15 minute call could do. And the call can be done from wherever you are in the world. It’s a much more efficient use of your time.

 

    • SAVE MONEY
      I said it in the last point and I’ll say it again. Money. Many of my clients decide to work with our global company because they get the high quality product for less. They aren’t paying for our conference rooms and special fancy chairs, not to mention that plant in the corner. With a company based out of an office in NYC, a portion of what you’re paying for is the desks, chairs, rent and over-inflated salaries so employees can afford more than a small closet. These costs can drive the price of a project up by 4x, easily.

 

  • GET BETTER PRODUCTS  
    To compete as a global business, you have to be better than the local competition. Global businesses need to be faster, more responsive, higher quality and cheaper. With today’s technology and various types of screen-share meetings available, you can get a lot more done than you could 10 years ago. You essentially get the same effect of sitting next to someone, but much more efficient time utilization.

 

There are many instances when these points apply. It’s possible the best in the world may be in your backyard. But before you decide to go local, I encourage you to do what most companies are doing these days and be sure to look outside of your box. You may be surprised what you find.

“Hey doesn’t Joe know how to…” vs. the Professional

This question has been asked to me before, more than once. The question is, “What’s the difference between using your team and just using that guy in that one department that learned how to do this a few years ago?”

I suppose I’ll just pick two key points which make the real difference:

1. Your staff are most likely working for you full time on their position.

 

It can be hard for someone to design and develop a website in addition to holding down their current position and for the project to actually push through all of the approvals to get finished.

It is similar to trying to learn a new language. If I want to learn Spanish, I could try to learn it at home, in the car, etc. Or, I can go take professional classes. I learn best in a classroom because the staff there are dedicated to one thing, teaching me how to speak Spanish.  When you hire someone for a project, you’ll want it to get done. A professional company will keep you on time and make sure your site is continuously moving through to completion. At Studio98 we have multiple dedicated experts building each website that focus on their specialty, design, development, client training, etc.

The fact is, there’s no way that someone who is not doing it full time can keep up with the latest technology and advancements in design and development and still be focused on the other full time job you originally hired them to do. They are definitely not going to be able to drive the project through to completion on a deadline.

Which leads me to my next point:

2. We have Professionals who specialize in websites

 

The designers at Studio98 that custom build websites have their Masters degree in art or at the least a degree in graphic design. They know how to aesthetically create a professional website that fits your company (which you can see by their many articles in this blog). They do web design day in and day out and can get a gorgeous product quickly. They are not freelancers doing this work on their down-time from their regular day jobs.

After the design, the project goes to dedicated development professionals who do nothing but develop our designs into functioning websites.

The difference is like having your neighbor Joe make your wedding cake with a Betty Crocker box cake recipe after work because he made a cake once for a party, versus hiring a professional baker who specializes in artistic high end cakes. They’ll both bake you a cake, but they may not look the same….

You have to put a priority on your website because it is THE first impression many people get of your company. If they are turned off by a poorly done or unattractive site, you are losing out on new business . You can’t afford to have your website look half done or so-so. The amount of potential clients/income lost from a bad website is far greater than the cost of a PROFESSIONAL company ever would be.

That’s the short answer. If you want a professional site, hire the professionals!