Posts Tagged ‘Web Design and Development’

Should You Use a Web Designer or Go with a Template or Builder? Seattle Web Design Questions

Setting up a website for the first time can be tricky, especially if you’re trying to do it on your own. One of the biggest questions we get about Seattle web design is whether it’s okay to use a template or website builder or if you need a web designer. This question is difficult to answer, because the truth is it depends on the business in question. The following information should help you decide.

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Website Builders and Templates or Themes

Website builders, themes, and templates are usually free or low cost (a quality theme will cost as around $40-$65 or $500+ if you want to buy all of the rights), or cost a monthly fee, which may or may not include hosting. While this might seem like a cheap and easy way to get started, it often isn’t, because there’s a lot more involved. When you hire a Seattle web designer to create your site for you, they will handle everything, including setting up hosting. If you’re using a paid website builder, it is as easy as it sounds, but you’ll still have to drag and drop, and work with the layout to try to create something professional. Some of the tasks that a design and development company will handle included:

  • Purchasing your domain name (Costs money)
  • Setting up hosting (monthly fee)
  • Installing a CMS
  • Installing the theme, skin, template, etc.

If you’re doing it yourself, you’ll end up doing all of that yourself, some of which can be quite complex and time consuming. If you’re tech savvy, you can probably handle it okay, but many people end up paying for professional help just for setup, which can be almost as expensive as paying a designer to do it for you in the first place.

Website Design

Whether you’re using an existing CMS like Joomla or want your own CMS, a website designer can and will create a custom design for you based around your business needs. Costs usually run in the mid to high triple digits and can run into four digits but do include items like hosting, domain names, maintenance, installation, and setup. Many web designers set fees based on how many hours they take to complete the project, and setting up a website with an existing theme can run from 5-20 hours, and designing a new theme can run from 50 to over 150 hours depending on the complexity and style of the site.

You get:

  • Everything done for you
  • A unique website that performs well in search and exactly meets your needs
  • A branded website
  • Scalability, responsiveness, and local optimization

Which Option Should You Chose?

Choosing between web design and templates usually comes down to one thing. Money. If your business can afford to pay for a website designer to create a custom site for you, then do it. It’s well worth the money in terms of having a unique site that no one else has, having the branding, and saving time on installing and updating the website yourself. In some cases, you can pay a designer to set up a theme with custom graphics to save money if you don’t know how to set up a website yourself. If you don’t have any money or budget for digital marketing, then you can use a pre-built theme or skin while you save up, and plan to make something worthwhile.

Want to know more about how a custom website can help your business online? Contact Rory Martin for more information

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Elements of Modern Web Design for Seattle Businesses

Modern web design has come a long way from the early days of the Internet. Where once flashy banners, automated code, and literal digital neon signs were the hallmark of an expensive website, today’s sites are considerably more sophisticated, relying on wide open spaces, large text, unique fonts, and simple graphics to catch the eye. Minimalism is definitely in, and users will thank the designers who follow trends for focusing on experience rather than appearance. If you’re hiring a Seattle web designer, you should consider many of the elements of modern web design, and try to implement the best of it into your own design (but don’t copy).

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Unique Fonts

Font or typography is one of the easiest ways to ensure that readers remember you, simply because you stand out more. While the choice is up to you when choosing between a serif and sans serif font, you should choose something that is large, easy to read, and that you can read when standing about 10 feet back from your computer for headlines and banner text. Fonts also tell readers who you are, because a font can be fun, serious, stylish, formal, and so on.

Large Media

Images and photos are both incredibly useful for web design because they improve visual appeal, and video can be used to increase time on page, decrease your exit rate, and improve your bounce rate, which all help with your marketing. If your images are of products, you also want them to be responsive, so that you can click, zoom, and take a closer look at what you’re doing.

Responsive

If the modern web could have a calling card, it would be either responsive or mobile optimized. You need mobile optimization, or a website that resizes itself for mobile users. Creating different versions of your site for different types of web browsers (iPhone, Android, tablet) is essential for continued success on the web, especially as more and more users move away from the desktop and laptop, towards primarily only accessing the web via mobile devices.

Better Menus

The days of long overly complicated menus with sub menus are over. If you have to click more than three times, or hover your mouse at just the right angle to get a sub menu, and a sub menu from that, you’re doing it wrong. Hidden or hamburger menus are also popular, because they stay out of sight, which improves the visual appeal of the website.

Flat Design

Flat web design has become a definite trend since Apple adopted it for their website, and for good reason. With little to distract the reader, and only small allusions to depth, it’s simple, minimalistic, and directs the reader where you want them to go, instead of wasting valuable time trying to impress the reader with your web design team’s skills. Flat and semi-flat design are both great options.
No matter what you’re considering for your website, you should have a discussion, or a free consultation, with your local Seattle web design team before you start planning. Choosing items based on your budget, your business needs, and the design team capabilities is important if you ever want to see your plans brought to life.
Want to know more? Contact Rory Martin for more information.

Things to Keep in Mind When Redesigning Your Website – Seattle Web Development

Building a website and standing out in the busy Internet traffic that makes up much of Seattle’s modern commerce can be tough, especially if you’re a small business. Redesigning it can be even more of a hassle, especially if you’re not entirely sure what you want, or why your first design didn’t work. The following considerations should help you out with what to keep in mind, what to ask your Seattle web development team about, and what to consider during the process.

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Who’s Doing the Research?

Depending on your web development team, research and planning may be up to you, or up to them. You usually want them to handle it, because unlike you, they are professionals. Market research, keyword research, continuity mapping, demographics, brand image. You have to know everything, and hopefully before you plan your website.

Backend SEO

If you’re doing a redesign, then now is the perfect time to handle your backend SEO. Everything from your site structure to your URL’s affects your SEO. Talk with your web developer about items like website structure, and research to see what the normal route through your website is (pages people visit). You also want responsive or adaptive design.

If you decide you need a mobile site, then you have to make sure you have canonical URLs, which also have to be set up. Redirects and canonical URL’s are something that will help with your SEO, because it ensures that even if you have a mobile website and a normal website, search engines see visitors from both as on the same page. It also reduces the risk of being flagged for duplicate content. Speed, page load times, 508 and W3C compliance, and if you have an international website, EU Cookie Law, all have to be considered as well.

Navigation

Too many websites are unnecessarily complicated, making it difficult for users to get around. If you’re trying to sell something, whether that be products or a pitch to visit your brick and mortar business, poor navigation can be detrimental to your pitch. If people can’t find what they need in 30 seconds or less, they will usually leave your site. You want to make navigation and menus as simple and as easy as possible to use.

Content

Content is the backbone of the web, so it’s important to consider it when creating your website. Considerations include photo size, how much web content you want per page, whether or not you’re publishing a blog, and other types of media such as whitepapers, video, eBooks, and for-purchase content. All of these considerations are important to keep in mind when designing your website because the website usually has to be designed around them.

Testing

You wouldn’t create a recipe and make it for guests without ever once trying it, so try not to do it with your website. You want to hire a web developer that handles testing, or allows you to come up with a testing team for quality assurance. This is especially important if you’re promoting your website launch to your regular customers, so that you know everything works. You also want feedback before you launch, so you can make changes to perfect your site.

There are a lot of things to keep in mind before you redesign your website, but if you have a good developer, you should be able to get most or all of it from them. Contact Rory Martin to learn more, or to discuss your website needs.

Five Web Design Elements E-Commerce Entrepreneurs Can’t Afford to Ignore

If you’re in the business of e-commerce then your website is your biggest advantage. Whether you choose to work with Seattle web design companies like Rory Martin, or to attempt to do everything yourself, you have to know what works in an e-commerce site, and what sends people running. E-commerce is all about conversion which means your site has to load quickly, use converting text, and have plenty of easy to view and load images. You can also choose to use an e-commerce platform like ZenCart or a big e-commerce manager like Big Commerce, but your web design elements matter as well. Here are five elements that your Seattle web designer should be including in your website, and why.

Social and Email Integration

Today is a world of social and if yours is not integrated into your site, you might be missing out on one of your biggest marketing opportunities. Try integrating an email signup box offering a small 5-15% discount on either a single product or a purchase over a certain amount of money. You do not want to choose anything that would make you lose money, but you do want it to be enough to act as an incentive for signing up or liking you on your social. Include a Facebook ‘likes’ box, and allow people to easily follow you on Twitter. You can then utilize email, and social account to share special deals and sales, as well as to drive attention towards new products which is essentially free advertisement.

Efficient Search Options

Some ecommerce websites convert as much as 16% of their traffic into sales. Others only convert 1 to 4%. While there are a lot of variables involved in the difference, one of the biggest is an efficient search bar. If your customers cannot find what they are looking for, they cannot make a purchase. Including a sophisticated search bar in your website and then properly tagging all of your products can make a huge difference to your sales conversion.

Reviews

While it is true that reviews can be a bit double edged at times, most experts agree that you are better off including them. Try including the option to review an item, and then send a reminding email after the item has been confirmed as delivered. Many people are more likely to purchase an item if it has reviews, even if those reviews aren’t always five-star. In fact, having 3, 4, and 5 star reviews is more likely to sell a product than having only 5 star reviews because it looks more real.

Include Chat

If you don’t have the time to run and manage, or to pay someone, to manage a chat service, then you might want to do without. However, a study in 2012 showed that 76% of customers feel better about purchasing a high value item if they could chat about the product first. If you have your Seattle web designers integrate chat make sure that it is not offensive and does not pop up automatically, and make sure that someone who knows about your products is running it.

One Page Checkout

While it is true that many websites do require you to go through five or more pages before reaching checkout, you can convert as much as 20% more sales if you offer one page checkout. In fact, by simply not requiring your users to sign up, (no registration before sales) you can increase conversion by 23%! Make sure your checkout options are as fast and easy as possible in order to convert the most sales! What does your Seattle web design include? If it doesn’t include any of these important elements, you might want to consider hiring someone to add them in for you! The right website can increase your sales and conversion up from that low 1-4% and into the top of the charts at 16% or higher!

What Your Web Design Really Says About Your Business 

There are more than 664 million active websites in the world and that number is rapidly growing each minute. In 2011 alone, website statistics nearly doubled, flooding the web with millions of new sites, all competing for the same thing, traffic. That growth continued into 2012, and is expected to grow even more throughout 2013. Local Seattle web development has been growing too; with more than 97,000 active businesses in Seattle alone, the number of local websites is literally enormous. If you don’t stand out from the crowd, or your website sends the wrong message, you could be losing out on that fight for traffic and customers.

Your website is like the cover to a book and like that book, people will judge you by its cover. From the colors to the design, your website gives your traffic an initial impression of what to think about you. A sloppy design will obviously send them running, while a thoughtful or spacious one might intrigue them.

Color

Did you know that color is often used to represent an emotion, feeling or thought? For example, blue is used for honesty, courage, ocean, and calm. Bankers, lawyers, real estate agents, travel sites, and even doctors often use this color. Red on the other hand is linked with passion and fire, warmth, emotion, and creativity, but also with danger. Pink is linked with romance, love, cute, girls, motherhood and more. Yellow is linked to cheer, sunshine and children. If you haven’t considered what the colors on your site mean, you should definitely think again. Having an experienced web developer choose colors for your site based on brand image, and style might improve your public perception more than you think.

Design

A sloppy design is obviously bad but did you know that a busy or overly cluttered one can send a band impression as well? Studies show that overly cluttered websites are often considered to be spam as this is a tactic spam sites often use. Go for simplicity and allow a smaller amount of content to have greater impact. If you have a lot of content, create multiple pages, don’t put your bio, an order form, and your company history right there on your home page.

Do you feature your products or information on the home page? If not, do first time visitors know what it is you sell? Unless you have a store or e-commerce site your home-page shouldn’t look like an order form, but it should let people know what it is you do, and why they want to click another page to make an order or to contact you.

Content

Your content includes everything from your written content to photos on the site. As you might have guessed, these have a great deal of impact on what your visitors think about you. If you have grammar errors, overly stuffed keywords, or haven’t updated your content in years, you might have problem.

With photos, you should choose images that reflect your business and what you do. If stock photos are appropriate than you can by all means choose to go with these, but you might also want to consider hiring a photographer and having them capture images that are unique to you and your business. Seattle web development is on the rise and companies around the city are creating, updating, and managing their websites. If you want to compete, your website has to send the right message to your customers or clients.

Build Your Web Presence in 2013 with Social, Website, and Blog

Your web presence is important for marketing and selling your business or content, but many Seattle web developers don’t give enough thought to how they appear, and how they interact on the web. Studies and algorithms now show that your web presence and social interaction could be one of the most important ways to come up in search, gain traffic, and attract new customers or clients. Here are a few tips from the experts at Rory Martin to help you build your web presence in 2013.

Social Helps with SEO and SMM

Your social media, no matter where it is, is part of your SEO and your social media marketing. While shared links on your social don’t exactly count towards your website page rank or your actual SEO, new results from Google show that shares, likes, comments, and discussions on your social all help to build your authority, which in turn enhances your search optimization. For example, a tweet that has been favorited and retweeted, and has the title and keyword in it, will actually show up in search when you look for your content. Sometimes social content will even appear above the original blog or webpage.

The more social interaction you have, the more attention you attract, not only from search engines but from the people who know the ones interacting with your content.  If you want to build your social presence, you have to add targeted followers, interact with those followers, and make your posts interesting.

Is Your Website Optimized?

While search engine optimization isn’t quite as important as it used to be, you still need keywords and context that lets Google know what it is you are about, and what you want to come up in search for. If your website doesn’t explain who you are, what you are selling, and why they should be interested, you’re doing something wrong. Google now ranks websites by how helpful they are, how accurate the page is, and even takes grammatical errors into consideration.

But that’s not all. Web optimization in 2013 doesn’t stop at using keywords, you also have to optimize for maximum visitor interaction. If you can get a visitor on your home page to visit your blog and leave a comment, you’ve just dramatically increased your traffic interaction, and therefore your web presence.  Integrating social with your website can help to improve conversion and grow fans, and that usually means making it easy to like, follow, or +1 your pages from your site.

Blogging for Traffic, Content & Interaction

Blogging has been a time honored tradition for increasing traffic volume, but it can also be used to enhance your web presence. Whatever you blog about, your blog will draw visitors, increase the SEO on your site, and of course, give you valuable content to share with your followers via social.  A few tips to increasing blog interaction include asking opinions, talking about controversial or new subjects and ideas, covering two sides of a topic to make it more interesting, or approaching your content in a new and interesting way. There are plenty of ways that you can increase your online presence. Even with new Google algorithms and search rules, your Seattle web development and optimization can still help you to get traffic, followers, and interaction. Focus on being interesting, helpful, factual, and most of all, engaging if you want to build your web presence.

Major iPhone upgrade coming this summer for Seattle Web Designers too

Apple unveiled a slew of new features — more than 100 in all — in the third major revision of the iPhone’s basic operating system. Among the enhancements demonstrated at a special media event at its Cupertino headquarters on Tuesday were many of the functions users had been clamoring for — in some cases for nearly two years. Among the highlights:

  • Cut, copy and paste across applications for Seattle Web Designers at www.rorymartin.com this is awesome!!
  • So-called “push notification” — for example, of breaking news or sports results
  • Multimedia messaging service (MMS) for sending pictures or voice memos in instant messages
  • Landscape viewing when the iPhone is turned sideways in most applications, including Mail
  • The ability to search Mail, Calendar and other applications for key words
  • Improved calendar functions
  • Stereo Bluetooth for wireless earphones

And much more. At the end of the 90 minute presentation, senior vice president Scott Forstall (who stood in for the ailing Steve Jobs) was rattling off features faster than reporters could type: Notes Sync, audio/video tags, live streaming, shake to shuffle, Wi-Fi auto login, Stereo Bluetooth, LDAP, iTunes account creation, YouTube ratings, Anti-Philshing, Call Log, Parental Controls, Media Scrubber, OTA profiles, VPN on demand, Languages, YouTube subscriptions, YouTube accounts and Encrypted profiles, auto-fills…

“Many minor features add up to a major change,” was Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster’s take-away message.

Apple also announced a raft of improvements — including more than 1,000 new APIs (application programming interfaces) — in the so-called SDK (software development kit) that programmers use to create applications for the iPhone and the iPod touch. Chief among them:

  • Peer to peer connectivity to allow multiplayer games with people in close proximity
  • Support for turn-by-turn navigation and other sophisticated map applications
  • A subscription model that allows subscriptions and micropayments by the item ($9.95 for an electronic book, say, or a more $0.99 for a more powerful weapon in a shooting game)
  • The ability to interact with hardware accessories such as speakers or glucose monitoring kits

A beta (preliminary) version of new SDK is available to developers for free download today.

iPhone 3.0 with all the added end-user features won’t be available until sometime this summer. It will be free to owners of existing iPhones and will cost $9.95 for the iPod touch. Some of the new functions — for example Stereo Bluetooth and MMS — won’t work on the first generation phones.

Apple also announced some App Store milestones:

  • 25,000 apps available for download (the actual figure is now more than 28,000)
  • 800 million apps downloaded
  • 17 million iPhones sold through Dec. 2008
  • 13.7 million iPod touches (for a total installed base of more than 30 million App Store-ready devices)
  • 800,000 downloads of the original SDK
  • 50,000 developers — 60% of them new to Apple
  • 96% of the apps submitted are approved — although not fast enough to satisfy some developers

See Jon Fortt’s Big Tech here for a live blog of the event. Apple’s press release is available here.

Apple closed Tuesday just under $100, up nearly 4.5% for the day. In the past 15 days it has gained more than $16 a share.

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