It is vital that any business has a website these days, and with such a lot of competition, it is essential that a company’s website is the best that it possibly can be. Internet users and potential business customers are also getting fussier and more impatient when it comes to navigating, understanding and buying online so the design on your website needs to optimum in all of these areas.
For companies who don’t have a lot of experience in designing websites, this can be a bit of a minefield, and there are some common mistakes which are made by lots of people, which you should try to avoid when you are designing yours.
People Won’t Read Your Whole Site or Even Article
Very few people will sit and read through a whole block of text or every piece of information which is on your site. People will usually scan the text, looking for the specific information that they are after.
When you are presenting information, try to break it down into short paragraphs with sub-headings, and use photos where possible, to make it easily digestible. Don’t put in big blocks of text as this will put people off and they just won’t read it.
Don’t Make Navigation Difficult
Try to keep the navigation about your website as simple as possible. This means that even the most tech-illiterate person can use it and you won’t lose customers through complicated navigation or frustration.
Try to make it as obvious as possible where people can find things, if they have to spend hours looking for something they will get frustrated and won’t come back! A good tip is to get friends and family to try out your website and take their comments on board.
This includes contact information. Make it clear where people can contact you. For small to medium businesses especially, this is vital because it shows that you’re real and not a scammer and this is critical when looking to score business. Include not only your email, but also your phone number and business address.
Get The Colours Right
When you’re thinking about the colours on your website, there are two things to bear in mind. The first is to get a professional looking site, you need to follow the theme of your branding. So if your branding colours are light green and yellow, try to use these colours as your basis.
The other thing to remember, however, is to use colours which combine well together and don’t use colours which are too bright as your background. When it comes to text, the rule of thumb is to use dark letters on a light background and not the other way round.
Make It Clear
It is important that within the first few seconds of scanning a visitor knows exactly what your website is about. If within the first five seconds they cannot find what it’s about, most people will leave.
No to Music and No to Pop-ups
Try to avoid music which automatically plays when people enter your site. This can be not only annoying, but distracting. We all have different musical tastes and if someone doesn’t like the music, this can be off-putting.
Pop-ups are also not advised. A lot of people have pop-up blockers and those that don’t can get irritated by pop-ups. It’s best to avoid them if possible.
Make it Easy To Read
Keep your copy easy to read by avoiding fancy fonts. This just makes everything more difficult to read and understand, so try to keep the letters simple and large.
The process of designing a website seems like a relatively simple one, but there are a few traps that people fall into. By avoiding these basic mistakes, your website can be as effective as possible.
Digital Marketing Manager
The Internet Marketing Academy
As the kids go back to school this week, they will be greeted with a very different, and potentially more challenging, curriculum than what they were used to before they skipped out of the gates for their summer holidays.
The stereotypical IT lesson of playing around with PowerPoint presentations and mocking up spreadsheets on Excel seem to be a thing of the past.
Children as young as five years old will be taught how to programme, or ‘code’, from the beginning of this academic year.
These requirements below are now included in the key stage one (five to seven year olds) curriculum:
Understand algorithms, how they are implemented as programmes on digital devices, and that programmes execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions
Create and debug simple programmes
Use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programmes
While some children that age may find this difficult, others are embracing it, like ten year old Max in this video:
Teaching code seems to be a massive step in the right direction. With the introduction of coding lessons it will make the next generation a lot more employable by having more knowledge of the technological advances around them.
As Max says in the video, it will allow youngsters to be a lot more creative in their IT lessons. It would have been a lot more stimulating to learn how to create an App when I was younger as opposed to changing the font colour in a Word document.
However with this change being thrust on over 160,000 primary school teachers, there may be a few teething issues with this new part of the curriculum in its introductory year. After all, many website developers spent 3 years at university learning how to code so the teaching staff are going to have to be on the ball if they’re going to be able to teach students how this is done.
That said, the next generation were born into the age of technology so we have no doubt that many will be naturals even from a very young age. We’re always keen to be involved with new blood and the upcoming developers – so I think we’ll need to start recruiting at school open days before long!
There is no shortage of beautifully designed websites out there for you to glance across when starting to come up with ideas of how you would like your website to look and function, however what I find with most of my clients is although there is a bundle of different styles out there to choose from, the one thing that they are short of always is time.
Time is always one thing that all of us find there is never enough of when it comes to planning and designing a website. If you want to get it right first time round you need to factor in some time to work on it. This could be from choosing stock images, deciding on a colour scheme right through to writing your website copy.
With time being the essence here are a few tips that can help you get organised in preparation prior to working with a web design company to get your website up and running in the quickest time.
Do your homework prior to meeting your web designer
When I say homework I am referring to all the different elements that needs to go into the website including, design, layout, number of pages, images and your website sales copy. Firstly if you have a pretty clear idea of what you want your website to look like take a list of the domain URLS with you to show your designer and make a note of what you like and dislike about the sites. It could simply be that you like the navigational layout on one site and the way the images are displayed on another. If you turn up with lots of different ideas then the designer will have something to work with rather than starting from a blank canvas.
Research you competition
It is good to look at what your competition is doing and see how they “sell” themselves. Getting an idea of how your competition has advertised themselves on their website will give you an incline if you want to go down the same route or do something completely different. It might be that they have added a video that you quite or they have a good call to action on the homepage. Even if you find that the competitions websites are ugly and not useful in the slightest, researching your competitor analysis is always useful so worth taking some time to evaluate.
Images make or break a website, for example if you look at a van hire service website that has clearly got a reasonably priced video camera and taken a range of shots themselves compared to one who has used a professional photographer it really makes a difference. Images are really important to get right so think in advance what you are going to do. It doesn’t have to cost the earth to pay a professional photographer to come out and take a number of shots if you just need a handful of pictures for your website, there are a number of stock image websites that start the prices off at $1 per image that you can purchase a range from.
You have decided you want a 12 page website to make your company appeal bigger than what it is which is great – but can you provide the content for each of these pages? Remember 1 short paragraph of text will certainly not be enough to accompany 3 or 4 images on a web page. Be realistic if you can’t write a sufficient amount of words on a product or service it is best to have fewer pages with quality content than lots of pages filled with crap! The more pages you have the more navigation will be required so keeping your website as small as possible will work best in your favour.
Original sales copy
Just because your competitor has written a fantastic description on a product you both sell doesn’t mean you can just copy and paste it and send it off to be added to your website. Your work needs to be original. It is fine to search websites to get inspiration but avoid copying it like for like – you will be in breach of copyright and search engines will also penalise you for duplicate content.
Do you want to appear on the first page of Google – of course you do. Keep in mind that having a website out there is not going to automatically put you on the first page of a search engine you need to earn your spot. There are a number of different ways you can do this including looking down the route of an SEO package or Pay Per Click campaign will certainly help. You need to be clear what you want your website to do and if rankings is of importance to you mention it to your web provider so that they can make recommendations of additional packages or tailor a design and SEO package together for you to meet your exact requirements.
Social Network Sites
Do you have social network accounts for your business on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google +? If not keep it in mind as it is an easy “free” advertising tool to help you gain traffic to your website.
These are just a few things to think about when planning a website and to quicken up time it works great for web designers if you have a clear mind of what you want to achieve from your website in the future. Be realistic on time goals; it’s great to go in all guns blazing but if you need to provide pages worth of content you are going to sit down, think and write this up. Websites do not just appear overnight; there is a lot of time and effort required to design, build and code the site so being as organised and prepared as possible will certainly help and may even save you some precious valuable time in the long run.
You feel it’s time to redesign your website and there will be a lot to take into consideration before you do. Could it be to make your website more appealing with a new up to date look? To help you improve search engine friendliness? Or is it to make it compatible for the latest android tablet or mobile phone?
Whatever your redesign is aiming to accomplish, you want to make sure you get it right at the first shot. There is nothing worse for a business than investing time and money into a redesign to find out that it doesn’t meet their business needs or requirements, or worse, you lose your rankings off the search engines. Unfortunately it happens time and time again.
Prior to researching the web design company of your choice or having a go at doing the redesign yourself, here are a few pointers to ask yourself:
What Is The Websites Purpose?
The first key thinking point is to decide what you want your new website to do? Is your new site going to be informative based providing information about your business or are you looking to make sales directly from your website?
Knowing what you want to accomplish will determine what will be required to include on your website, will you need a blog, photo gallery, shopping cart or any other particular requirements? Being able to provide your web design company with this information upfront will be able to eliminate any extra unbudgeted costs, make a list of everything you require your website to do any let your web design company know in advance.
When it comes to a new redesign, why do you need to do this in the first place? Think about what is currently working well on your current site and what is simply not! Look at your website and make a list of everything you like and dislike, it could be that you like the design of the website but it is not converting properly, it looks great on a computer but terrible on an IPhone, or it is just very outdated. Whatever your reason for redesigning it is great to think of it from a design, usability and access point of view.
Is Your Business Growing?
Your website redesign could be simply down to the fact that your business has grown and you need more “room” to showcase your products and services, if this is the case keep in the back of your mind that your business could continue to grow and grow again! Redesigning a website takes a lot of work, time and money therefore it is essential that you think to the future. Most web development companies will be able to assist you with this by providing you with a website suitable to use with a CMS (content management system). Being able to do this will enable you to add extra pages to your website yourself without having to pay additional costs to your web design company to do this for you at a later date.
What Do You Want To Stand Out?
It is important to decide what the most important part of your website is and push it! It could be to advertise a selection of your main products, your contact information or even your blog. It is essential when thinking about your new design to highlight the “important bits” and base your web design around this so that your website converts, it’s all great having a fancy looking website but if it doesn’t convert it is pointless.
Will Your Site Cater For New Devices?
Nowadays it is key to keep in mind how many different ways your potential customer can view your website so it is important that your website is optimised for all devices including mobiles and tablets. It could be that you have a mobile enabled website built or go for a responsive design which ticks all the boxes; however if you decide to progress keep the progression of technology in the back of your mind.
There are many factors to take into consideration when planning a new web design and these are just a few to get you started. Knowing what you want your website to do and understanding your end goals will certainly help to get your wanted end result. Make sure you do your homework and keep your target audience in mind.
KiddiSafe offers a day nursery and pre-school playgroup service, both located in Leicester, providing care for children below primary school age.
Rehana, Kiddisafe Company Director, contacted the Internet Marketing Academy to give her website a completely new modern look and to update the information and services that both the day nursery and pre-school playgroup offer.
Here is a before and after of the Kiddisafe Website:
Rehana was very happy with the site and has had some really good feedback from existing and new clients who have visited her site:
“Everybody who has viewed my website, new and current customers have commented on how modern and welcoming it looks”
If you are looking for a new website design your business or re-design of your existing website then please get in touch with the team at the IMA on 0800 849 5050 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the web design services we offer click here.
Incorporating links with text on your website pages can be very helpful for directing your visitors to the relevant page to get the information they require, but as with many important factors of web design and content layout, if not done correctly it can be so easy to create page after page after page of content that can be quite frustrating for your visitors to use even if this is not what you intended to do so.
Fortunately the most common website mistakes are very easy to prevent and using these simple 4 tips when linking pages on your website will start you on your way to creating a user friendly website.
1) Explain what you are linking to
If possible, provide information about what your link points to. Here is an example…
You run a fitness camp and have included a venue links page on your website where you have listed all the venues that you carry out your fitness camp sessions on one page. If you just put here are a list of venues we use and rows and rows of links, it is going to be time consuming for your visitor to click on each link to find out more information, they may simply just be looking for an address to figure out which venue is closest to them.
I would recommend adding some additional information including the time and days that you run the fitness camp at the venue and simply there address. You may have already provided this information on another page of your website but your potential client may not have seen that page or has seen the page but is getting frustrated going backwards and forwards between the two pages to get the information they require. Adding this additional information to will not cost you too much time as you already know the details already and could be the difference of getting the business or losing it.
2) New windows – avoid them for internal links
So many website owners make this very simple mistake having new pages open up in new windows. In some cases this is OK – For example if the link is going to open up into a PDF document that they may wish to print off fine – but if it is going to a different url page on your website avoid!
The only time it is ok to have a new window open up is if you are linking to an external website (referencing the fitness camp example above – the venues own website would be fine to open in a new window) but if it is a page on your own website keep it to the same window.
The simple reason for this is it can be very confusing having half a dozen windows pop open on your screen. Visitors can still get around your website just fine when opening a link in the same window and if they can’t you may need to sit down and re look at your navigation.
3) Make links blue and underline them
I would recommend if possible (and only if the colour blue is clearly visible and does not fade away into your background colour) to make your link blue and underlined. If you can’t use the colour blue then at least the underline is a clear resemblance that the word is a link.
If you do not make a link clear your user will not know that they can click on it to find out more relevant information and the only way of them using that link is if they accidently scroll there mouse over it. You need to ask yourself what is the point of including a link if it is not clear so when including them in with your text make sure they stand out! Remember your main navigation links at the top do not need to follow this rule – they can be any colour you like just make sure your links within your text is easy to identify by your users.
4) Test your links
Make sure your site works and test them in a browser. Once you have uploaded your new website or made any changes check that they work correctly. Load the page in a browser of your choice and test everything. There is nothing more unprofessional than a user clicking on one of your links that leads to a page that no longer exists.
There are many other concepts to keep in mind when linking internal links on your website, but keeping these simple 4 steps in mind will certainly help you on your way to creating a great user friendly website.
Responsive web design (RWD) is a term used for a website designed to provide an optimal viewing experience. This incorporates text and navigation being easy to read with a minimal of resizing, panning and scrolling across a wide range of devices (including computer monitors of various sizes, laptops, IPADS, Kindles, Androids mobiles and many more). RWD is seen by many sources as a cost effective alternative to mobile apps.
Responsive Web Design History
RWD was first referred to by Ethan Marcotte in 2010 who described the theory and practice in his short book titled Responsive Web Design produced and published in 2011, if you haven’t read his seminar article about responsive web design, I highly recommend it!
Although RWD was around it did not really take off until last year as referred to by Mashable as “2013 the year of responsive web design”.
So What Is The Need For Responsive Web Design?
As technology keeps progressing day by day you can now view a website browser on many devices including mobile phones, android tablets, IPhones, IPads, Kindles, TV’s, Computer Monitors and many more. With the progression of these technologies it means that the user’s expectations have also changed. People expect to be able to use a device such as their mobile to browse a website just as easily as having to boot up a laptop or a computer. In response to this web design companies started creating mobile enabled versions of their websites. Looking back this wasn’t really a step forward but at the time it seemed like a quick, workable idea but meant that every website in respect had two versions, a desktop version and a mobile version, costing small to large organisations a lot of money to get a mobile compatible version of their site coded.
What Factors Make Up Responsive Web Design?
Here are two of the key ingredients behind responsive web design:
The first area to keep in mind when designing a responsive web design is the usage of what’s known as a fluid grid. Similar to Liquid layouts (which expands with the page and was never as popular as creating a fixed width layout), fluid grids go a full jump further!
Instead of designing a layout based on rigid pixels or percentage values, a fluid grid is designed more in terms of proportions to allow the layout to be squeezed or enlarged on to the relevant screen size. All the elements will resize in relation to one another.
Fluid grids are a very important part of creating a responsive web design website. For example a complex three-column layout isn’t going to work well on a smart phone when the width of the browser becomes too narrow, however responsive design incorporating media queries has sorted out this problem.
CSS3 Media queries allow you to gather data about the site visitor and use it to apply CSS Styles.
Ideally you would adjust your layout to perfectly match every device width; however putting the effort in to make this happen is not an option therefore you should target certain resolutions. I would recommend targeting the following pixel widths:
The size and spectrum of screen resolutions are forever changing and creating a different version of a website to meet every demand is physically not possible. Responsive web design addresses the situation head on and provides a cost effective solution. Although responsive web design is not a single way of working but is a collection of techniques, it is certainly taking over the web by a storm.
You have decided to set up a website, but before you start planning the design and the content have you taken into consideration what you would like your domain name to be?
During website concept meetings that we hold with our clients, 99% of them have made a firm decision on what they would like there domain name to be – but is it really that simple to just choose a name? Here are some tips to keep in mind when deciding on a domain name for your business website.
Make The Domain Unique
Steer clear of having a domain name that is too similar to a well-known, recognised or popular brand website already owned by someone else. Try and stay away from names that are simply the plural, hyphenated or misspelled version of an already established domain.
Only Choose A .com Or A .co.uk
If you are serious about building a website that will stand the test of time, you should keep to the simple .com or .co.uk addresses.
It’s great to be cool and trendy and stand out from the crowd with a funky domain name and now there are so many options available including .info, .biz, .me and .tv but most people will automatically assume that your website will end in .com or .co.uk and this small difference could result in you losing traffic to your website.
Make It Easy To Remember
Quite a simple tip if you think about it! As with any business, word of mouth is a powerful tool in advertising. Keep your domain name short and easy to remember. You don’t want to be the company with an all singing and dancing website but who has a domain name that no one can remember or tell their friends about!
Create A Brand Identity
When someone sees your domain name, they should be able to instantly guess the type of content they can expect to find on your website. Don’t get me wrong, some of the big sites such as Amazon.com, Play.com and Monster.com don’t exactly do what they say on the tin – but they do have to do a lot of branding exposure elsewhere and are very well-established businesses in their own right.
When you are first starting out it is best to choose a domain that encompasses both your company name and a word or two which describes what the business does – pcworld.co.uk, primeaccountants.co.uk and mugsgalore.com are all great examples of this!
Avoid Copyright Infringement
This is not a mistake made too often, but it’s always good to keep in the back of your mind as you do not want copyright fines on your back from the get go! Visit copyright.gov and search before you purchase your domain name to ensure nobody else has already copyrighted your idea.
In conclusion keep your domain name short, to the point, and with your brand in mind and you can’t go wrong!
Websites nowadays can look any way you want them to and do anything you want them to do – which is great! However it is very easy to get carried away with website design and this can be the difference between having a professional, high converting website which works for your business, and a website that YOU love but one which is not appealing to your target market – meaning they simply click on and straight back off your site!
As a web design specialist, I have worked with many clients that have a vivid idea of exactly how they want their website to look and during our concept meeting I have had to reign them back in when it comes to design ideas. Yes, you want your website to look good, but you need it to convert for you too.
Here are my web design tips to help you start planning the design of your new website:
1. What Colours Should You Be Using?
Keep in mind that certain colours just do not work on a website! Light colours on a white background or dark text on a black background can’t be read clearly. There is nothing more frustrating for a user than to simply not be able to read your text. Keep in mind what it is your company offers and pick your colours carefully to match the look, feel and branding of your company.
2. Avoid Popup Windows
If someone visits your website it is normally because you qualified for the search terms they entered into the search engine. So why do so many companies make the mistake of having a big, flashing pop up boxes appear as soon as the user clicks on to the site?
Personally I can’t abide by them and many website users are not keen on them either. Used in the correct way, pop up boxes are great to promote an item on sale or a special offer , but the user should be able to close the pop up box down easily and continue using your site as they had intended. But I beg of you, please don’t put them on your homepage the minute a visitor enters your site – this is very, very annoying and the user hasn’t even discovered what your site is about or if this is even what they are looking for!
3. Avoid The Famous Webpage Counter
This is mainly a mistake that people who decide to have a crack at making their own websites make, however I did have a request from a client recently to add one to the site and when I asked what relevance it had to there product or service they simply said “ because it will look good”. Well, not in my opinion!
If you have social network sites with a decent following then it’s great to show these on your website, but to bother displaying the amount of visitors who have physically clicked onto your site what’s the point?
Unless you’re guaranteed to get hundreds of thousands of new visitors every week, all you’ll end up doing is clock watching on your own site and panicking about trying to drive those numbers up – as low numbers will just end up making your site look unpopular. It’s just not worth the risk.
4. Is Your Site User–Friendly?
A very common mistake with first-time website owners is making your site too difficult for the user to navigate through. You need to keep in the back of your mind that your user may not know anything about the products and services you offer, so having a link to one of your products or services hidden 3 inner pages deep within your site is just going to be completely confusing – and will more than likely make it easier for your potential client to go and buy straight from your competition. Keep your navigation simple and effective and make sure you always include an obvious link back to your homepage.
5. Don’t Overcrowd The Screen
Think of it this way, in your own home you wouldn’t want people to see you living among a large amount of clutter would you? Well, the same applies to your website. Space is precious on your website, so you need to use it effectively to keep your site looking clean, tidy and professional.
I have seen many sites that use little animation GIF’s which are great fun if on a video game, but using them on your website is simply going to draw the user away from your content. It is great using videos and pictures on your website but avoid overusing them too.
With your inbound marketing strategy in mind, it may be time to take a look at your web design. Whether you are making over an existing website or starting a brand new one, realise that there is more to web design than aesthetics. The content matters more than the design, and most of your prospects would agree.
As you redesign your website, keep your goal in mind: increasing your number of visitors and leads, not just creating an interesting look. Think about your goals and take them into consideration every step of the way. Worry less about what colour the background is and more about how each and every aspect of your website has the potential to impact your overall success.
Adding Content – Continually
Statistically speaking, the more content you have, the more visitors your website will attract, and the faster your business will grow. And recently updated content is even better for SEO. So figure out ways to continually add fresh content, such as a blog.
Including The Right Elements
Speaking of a blog, your website really should have one. A blog makes it easy to add content on an ongoing basis, and helps you develop relationships with your customers. RSS makes it easier for others to stay up to speed on your website’s changes and updates. SEO gets you the right traffic, and well-designed landing pages are essential to converting that traffic. All modern websites need, at a minimum, these elements.
Protecting Your Assets
Avoid the pitfalls of web redesign by knowing what your assets are and keeping them intact. If you do outsource your web design, work closely with the designer to make sure the new design does not impact your marketing results in a negative way. Your most valuable website features, such as content, SEO, and conversion tools, should be carefully protected during a redesign. Web designers are great at what they do, but remember that their expertise is in design – not marketing. And stay away from the usual suspects: industry jargon, complicated animations, long walls of text, and too many images which may slow down load time (which search engines take into consideration).
Making Your Website Stand Out
Making content a higher priority than design does not mean making your website forgettable. Make sure your logo is recognizable, your tagline is descriptive and simple, and your colour scheme and graphics are contemporary. Use photos, bios, and testimonials to identify yourself and help users connect – with you and with each other. Give your visitors a memorable experience with engaging images, text, and prominent calls to action. This is where a good web designer can really shine – you know what your content should include; they know how to incorporate it in a stylish, user-friendly way.