Posts Tagged ‘web design’

How to Choose a Web Developer for Your Business Website

Hiring a web developer can mean trial and error, but it should mean doing research in advance to make sure that you will be happy with your choice, that they offer enough results for the money, and that they will create something great for your business. While even the most stringent research won’t ensure that you end up with a top not developer every time, it will certainly help.

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For the most part, you’ll have to choose between independent contractors or freelancers, web development companies, and hiring a full time employee. You’ll also have to learn how to research and compare skills, qualifications, and reputation in order to ensure that your hire is a great one.

What Type of Web Developer to Choose?

If you live anywhere in the greater Seattle area then there is no shortage of web developers to choose from. With options ranging from award winning Seattle web development companies to independent contractors working on gig websites, you have a lot of options. Here, you can go over why some options will work for you and others won’t.

Freelance Developers – Freelancers are highly flexible, can be more affordable than any other option, can provide work very quickly, and are available in nearly every code and website niche. Your main problem will be finding a freelancer who can work within your budget, provide results instead of just logging hours, and who can work with the code or website type that you want. This means that you will spend a lot of time in research. You may also end up hiring multiple freelancers to meet different needs, which means keeping track of more people.

Web Development Companies – Web development companies combine flexibility with a team, which allows you to get as many services from the same company as possible. This can be advantageous to you, because you save time on searching for different talent to fill roles, benefit from a team that is experienced with working together, and have more than one person working on your site. However, costs can be slightly higher, and you’ll still have to make sure that they can provide results inside your budget.

Making a Hire – If you have a budget over $30,000 a year, think that all of your needs can be met by one person, and need continuous work, then a full time hire is right for you. This is a great option if you really need full time support and don’t want to pay for it individually each time. The secret is that you have to find someone who does fill all of your needs, or make the commitment to bringing on a team.

How to Choose the Right Web Developer

Whether you’re hiring a web development company or a one time contractor, it is important that you take the time to research your needs, their reputation, and their abilities before making a hire. A good website will take months to create depending on how much work is involved, so it’s important that you make the right choice.

Skills – Know what type of code you want, what CMS you are using, what features you need, or choose a web development company that can walk you through the options to help you pick something. You can narrow your options if you know that you want a Joomla site, which can help you to make a better choice.

Reputation – Nearly every web developer has a reputation, even if they are fresh out of college. If they don’t have a portfolio and existing work, make a few calls to their university, and learn more. While you should be choosing a more established developer for your business, you can get the point that it’s fairly easy to check up on someone’s worth ethic and reputation. Look at reviews online if they are available (A quick search of the company or freelancer will usually work), check their portfolio, and if you’re not sure, ask for references.

Timeframe and Budget – It is important that any web developer work with your time frame and budget, but it’s also important that your deadlines and intended budget are reasonable.  If you want to pay very little to have something put up very quickly, you will have to spend money fixing it later.

Hiring a great web developer requires that you have some idea of what you want or need, understand your budget, and be willing to do some research to find the best for your needs. If you’re ready to make a hire, contact Rory Martin, a local Seattle web development company, for a free consultation on your business website. Or take a look at our portfolio to see some of our previous work.

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5 Questions to Ask Yourself or Your Web Designer

Most businesses need a website. In 2016, when the average Seattleite actually researches brick and mortar stores from their phone while standing outside the door, that is an undisputed fact. But, bridging the gap between “I need a website” and “I need this website” is a huge step for most small business owners, and that’s logical, especially considering that you’re probably not an expert in web design and development. But what do you need?

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You can use these five basic questions to get a better idea of what you want, what you need, and what you can afford. You can ask your Seattle web designer to help.

  1. What Features Do You Need?– Not everyone will know the answer to this question, and that’s okay. You can have a meeting with a Seattle web designer who can walk you through different features and why you should have them. You can also start looking at competitor websites and deciding what they have, what you need, and why you need it. It’s always a good idea to make three lists of features, one of features that you absolutely need now, one of things that you might need later, and one of things that would be nice to have. This will be very useful when it comes time to budget, because if some things don’t quite fall into your budget, you know that you can cut them out.
  2. How Much Do You Know (Or Are You Willing To Learn) About Website Technology? – If you’re willing to handle hosting, security, website monitoring, and a bit of code every now and then, then you won’t need long-term website management. You also might work well with simple websites like WordPress or Joomla, which you can set up and install yourself after someone else designs the theme for you.  This can save you a lot, if you have the time and skill to make up for it.
  3. How Do You Want to Manage Your Website? – Do you want full control of everything or do you prefer that someone else comes in and handles it for you so that you don’t have to worry about accidentally deleting everything? Both have their pros and cons, but most business owners want at least some level of control. That means using a CMS (Content Management System). You can use an existing one like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, or have a web developer design you one from scratch.
  4. What Kind of Content Do You Want On Your Site? – If you want a one page website, you’re looking at significantly less issues than you are if you’re hoping to build a restaurant website with interactive menus. Content will affect costs, development time, and the CMS you should use.
  5. What is Your Realistic 1 Year Budget For Your Site? – It is important to understand that normal website costs extend well beyond development. You should consider costs of hosting, security, monthly maintenance, updates, debugging, adding new features/tools, etc. as part of your costs. Set a yearly budget that you can afford, and plan accordingly.

Working with a web designer means that you will have someone to walk you through your needs, options, and choices, but it’s always a good idea to do some research yourself so that you know what you want and how to get it. If you’re ready to get started with your website, contact Rory Martin at 206.355.0894 for a free consultation and quote.

Is Mobile Killing Web Design?

If you follow marketing or business news of any kind you will most likely see the term “is dead” on a near weekly basis, with the term attached to everything from last year’s trends to cornerstones of marketing niches, and the latest trend to get the figurative guillotine is web design. Is web design dead? No. However, the advent of mobile, and the steady shift of users away from desktop and laptop devices towards mobile only platforms including laptops and phones is creating a definite shift in what web design should be.

While desktop web design often performs poorly on a phone or tablet, especially with slower 3G or 4G connections rather than WiFi, the trick to quality modern web design is not forgoing it in favor of apps or leaving websites behind in exchange for social platforms, but rather, in better design. This means that Seattle web designers have to create a significant shift in how they approach your websites.

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Focus on Information Availability

Another very important switch that you have to keep in mind is that Google is now often providing information in search. Restaurant phone numbers, small business information, flight times and costs, and other information can now be seen directly in search, without ever clicking on a website. While this will lower your web page views and click throughs, it can make your website more profitable.

Here, you should focus on making information available, without forcing users to read through a lot of information they don’t need. For example, under “Contact Us” you really only need contact information. You also want to ensure that your business address and phone number are on your website so that Google can find them and bring them up when users search for you.

Designing Websites for the Mobile Web

Mobile users are on smaller screens, on less powerful devices, and often have less bandwidth available to them. This means that your mobile websites should be pared down, designed for mobile screens, and as simple as possible. While you can simply resize everything on your desktop website, stripping away nonessentials to provide a streamlined, information based site can be much more valuable to mobile users. This means completely redesigning your website, not just shrinking it, using hamburger or hidden menus to provide more space, and keeping options as simple as possible. Web pages still take longer to load on mobile, so it’s also a good idea to try to make sure that users find what they’re looking for in as few pages as possible.

If you visit any random website on your phone or tablet and then load it again on your computer, it will likely look very different. Unfortunately, not every website does a good job of switching between mobile and desktop, but if you try out a few, you’ll quickly see that some do. Single page interfaces, designed for mobile screen sizes, and responsive web design that adjusts based on the size of the screen.

You also want to take a look at your servers, what you’re hosting on the site, and how you’re presenting it. If your website is loading a great deal of media, flash scripts, external content, or video, it will probably take too long to load for most mobile users. Cut out everything but simple graphics and essentials so that your pages load quickly, even on slower mobile Internet.

Web design isn’t dead, and it never will be. Despite the random clickbait title claims, and the commonplace usage of themes, great web design can do a lot for your business, and it can make you stand out. However, it is crucial that you choose the right design company, get great mobile design, and optimize for the mobile web.

If you want to learn more about mobile web design, contact Rory Martin, a local Seattle web design company, for a free quote on your design, and if you agree, we’ll get started with a kickoff meeting to get to know your company, and your customers.

How to Plan to Have Your Website Pay Itself Off

Building a website is an investment that you will probably benefit from if you take the time and resources to market and create a sales platform. Unfortunately, most small business owners forget that in order for an investment to pay off, you have to continue marketing and putting effort into it. ROI, or return on investment, may be a jargon term that is now everywhere, but it is one that applies very much to every decision you make in business. If it doesn’t have a return, or at least break even, then there is no point in doing it, and that applies to your website.

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The biggest mistake business owners make when they launch a website is failing to plan beyond the launch. This leaves you with a fancy, and probably pretty, website that really isn’t doing much but costing you money. The following should help you to take that and turn it into a profit. Unfortunately, websites are not an “If you build it, they will come”, deal. You have to prepare to invest time, money, and marketing efforts into your website to create a tangible return on investment.

Search Optimization & Marketing

Marketing to consumers who find you in search, and making sure they can find you in the first place, is crucial to earning money off of your website. Search optimization is one of the easiest ways to direct traffic to your site, but it is important that you do so carefully, and do your best to ensure that all of your traffic is relevant and interested in your products or services. This means researching and utilizing keywords, creating valuable and helpful content aimed at your geographic and target demographic, and creating brand authority to help your website rank.

Create a Sales Funnel

Whether you’re creating leads offline or online, you should have a sales funnel on your website to direct anyone who visits your site towards making a purchase. Your sales funnel can include content, an email marketing campaign, or even a discount code, but you should have one on your website. This should include:

  • Landing pages to inform people who click on ads and search terms about what you’re offering. These should be optimized for search, directed at the customer, and have a strong, clear call to action.
  • Information pages, clearly detailing what your products or services are, and why your customer should be interested.
  • A sign up form asking visitors to join a newsletter for more information OR, a sign up form offering valuable information, a quote, or other service’s.
  • A clear call to action offering value in exchange for acting (I.E., Get a free quote, Save 10%, etc.).

Social Media

Social media is a great way to promote your website, and vice versa, but it is important to be consistent. Post informative, helpful, and funny content to your page along with your website, so that your social pages are valuable or fun to follow.

Email Marketing

Email marketing allows you to market to leads you gain through your website, which can turn visitors into buyers. Integrating a good email marketing strategy is one of the best ways to make money off of a website, even for product oriented businesses.

Making money with a website requires great design, quality content, and a product or service that works. Your reputation, search optimization, social media marketing, content, and marketing strategies will all play into whether or not you make a return. Just keep in mind that while your first goal is to get a website, other goals, like driving people to that website, and convincing those people they should make a purchase, are more important.

If you’re ready to get started planning your website, or your marketing campaign, contact Rory Martin for more information, or to get started with a free quote.

Using a Mood Board to Communicate Ideas with Your Web Designer

Creating a website is a daunting task that most small businesses avoid for as long as possible, but if you need one, then you do want to do it right. That means hiring a web development and design team, and communicating your wants, needs, and preferences with them, to ensure that the end result is something that you and your customers love. While providing your brand material, your brand personality, and preferred styles and colors is important, you can take your preparations a step further with a mood board.

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What is a Mood Board?

A mood board is a digital or analog (physical) board with images, pictures, swatches, or colors that show what you want, what you’re thinking, and convey the emotions that you want your website to convey. If you’re making a digital moodboard, it is essentially a photo collage that you feel conveys what you want your website to convey. Most importantly, you can put it together on sites like Pinterest, or using free services like Morpholio, Evernote, or Niice. You can also glue photos, color swatches, and other elements to a physical mood board to create a more dynamic display, but keep in mind that you will either have to take photos of it, or work with a local Seattle web designer to make that work.

Why Have a Mood Board?

Can’t you just communicate your ideas by writing them? Yes, you can. And if you don’t really understand design, or what you want, then that is a great idea. However, if you want to communicate specific emotions, ideas, or have a vision for your site, a mood board can help to communicate that to your web designer. In fact, most web designers already use mood boards, so it will help to bridge the gap, and show them that you actually know what you want. Mood boards can help you to communicate fonts, needs, color palettes, textures, shadows, and much more. Finally, a moodboard immediately allows you to start getting feedback and input on design choices, colors, and other style decisions so that you can reach a final decision more quickly.

What to Include in Your Mood Board?

Brainstorming a mood board should start out with making decisions. You can start by writing out lists of the following:

  • Your brand personality
  • Brand keywords
  • Brand colors
  • Emotions you want the user to feel
  • Fonts you like (Even serif or sans serif)
  • Styles that represent your business
  • The ‘mood’ of the website
  • Photographs you want on the site

You can take these questions to create a fully functional mood board. For example, if you have a mid-range restaurant catering to foodies in search of new experiences and you want a creative but professional website to reflect your brand personality, you can start out by writing out your list of brand keywords like “delicious”, “unique”, “foodie”, “experience”, “taste maker”, and so on. These words can be used to choose images and items, or inserted directly into the mood board using your preferred fonts.

From there, you could insert your brand’s color palette, such as black and grey with orange accents. Emotions are more difficult to incorporate, but in this case, you want people to feel daring, adventurous, like they are gaining social credit by trying something new, and like they are in a warm and friendly environment with good food. Integrating photos of tasty food, adventurous activities such as skydiving or climbing a tree to get honey, and eating with friends would achieve this. For this example, a stylish sans serif font says modern and friendly, while a mixture of thin and thick lines, no slants, and large photographs show a relaxed but still professional environment and style. Finally, you could pin photos of your own food that you wanted to include.

This type of mood board would very clearly and immediately distinguish your establishment from a restaurant that sells traditional family style Italian food, and the web designer would immediately know what you want, rather than creating a more traditional design for you.

Essentially, a mood board is a bit like your brand profile, in that it communicates what you want and what you like, in a way that your web designer immediately understands.

If you don’t want to create your own moodboard, that’s also okay. Most web designers will work with you to create design ideas from the start, so that you have plenty of options to choose from.

Are you looking for a quality Seattle web designer who can work with your needs to create a site you love? Contact Rory Martin to find out more about our web design services.

What to Consider for Your Home Page – Seattle Web Design Tips

As a small business owner in the Seattle area, you’re faced with several conundrums when it comes to web design and development, and your home page is one of them. While other issues, like having a solid basis on which to choose a local web designer, which language or CMS to use, and even your website branding are equally important, we’ll take you through the basics of what to do and what not to do with your home page.

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Less is More

The days of overcrowded home pages jammed with side bars, banner ads, and menus everywhere are long gone, and today’s websites are simpler, sleeker, and definitely bordering on minimalistic. This trend is ideal for mobile users, who get faster load times, and can spend less time looking for what they want. This means paring your home page down to include the basics, and hopefully paring the rest of your website down as well. You can add more items if they are necessary, but keep in mind that most users don’t need the plethora of pages available on most websites. Hamburger or hidden menus, sliding headers, and video are all great ways to integrate more items into less space without crowding.

Really, Keep it Simple

It’s tempting to keep adding features to ensure that your user can do everything you want them to do, but keep it simple. You also don’t want mobile users to be scrolling down for more than a minute or two at most on their phone. Most mobile users are in a hurry, so a heavy text or image laden home page that scrolls down for hours simply won’t do. You can integrate longer pages when necessary, but make sure you test out the length before you make the site live.

Consider Your Brand

Your brand is a crucial element to include in your web design. While it may be difficult to integrate a concept into a website, it’s important for giving users the same feel that they get when they walk into your physical location. That’s one of the reasons why it’s always a good idea to work with a local Seattle web designer. They can visit your actual store or facility to get a better idea of who you are. What’s involved with brand? Basically everything including colors, styles, the thickness of borders, images, font, and much more.

Integrate Large Images

Whether you’re using large header images, banners, or a fashionable background image is up to you, but you should integrate large media. In some cases, you can swap the image out for a video, but make sure it still looks good on mobile. You’re probably getting 40-60% of your visitors from mobile phones, so you want to design for them as well. Why large images? They combine a feeling of luxury with the minimalistic trend of modern websites, allowing you to brand, customize, and stylize your website, without making it look crowded. What’s a great image? Again, it’s up to your business and your brand. If you’re at a loss for ideas, discuss it with your web designer in your kickoff meeting.

Make it Unique (But don’t go overboard)

Even if you’re using a theme or website template, it’s important to make it your own. Adding your own media, photos, colors, and style can do a lot for your website and your brand. But, you don’t have to go overboard. It’s nice to make your website stand out, but you don’t need flashing banners to make it happen. Instead, discuss your options with your web designer, and see what comes up.

It is important to keep in mind that a good website is customized to your business, not the other way around. If a general home page doesn’t fit, make modifications, add features, and make it your own. You’ll pay more for adding in unique features or flash video, or similar, but you will get more value out of it. A great way to get started is having a discussion or kickoff meeting with a local Seattle web designer to discuss your needs and your brand.

Want to know more? Contact Rory Martin to get started today.

Types of Web Designers and Developers & How to Choose One For Your Project

Web design, web development, what’s the difference? In the mind of the average person, not much. But, in actuality, there’s a great deal of difference, and that difference greatly affects what you’re getting for your money. However, it’s not about quality. Different types of web designers and developers offer different services. Just like you wouldn’t hire a Facebook expert to manage your Twitter, you wouldn’t hire a web designer to code the back end of your site.

So, let’s go over some of the different types of web designers and developers in Seattle, and how their services affect you.

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Web Developer

There are two main types of web developers, front end coders and back end coders. A very accomplished person may do both, and a team will almost certainly handle both. Front end and back end coding are the applications that allow your website to run, like menus, the framework, server access, and so on. This code is the basis of your interface and your websites functionality. Web developers can offer features like responsive design, w3C compliant code, cross browser compatibility, tableless HTML, and so on.

Back-End Developers – Back-end developers usually handle CMS, content management, security, data management, data transfer, and so on. Back end services allow you to upload content, collect data, offer security, create user profiles, and so on.

Front-End Developers – Front-End developers typically create tools, such as menus, apps, web based apps, games, and so on. These are made for direct interaction, and allow you or consumers to use them.

Plus, web development falls into multiple code categories, with some specializing in existing CMS systems, like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, and others specializing in custom systems.

Web Designer

A web designer is a very specific type of website builder who designs the graphic part of the website. This is one reason why many web designers are actually graphic artists, with degrees in graphic design, rather than web development. Web design is a completely different function than development, because it involves creating layouts, button sizes, fonts, styles, colors, and otherwise creating the image of the website. Some web designers know code, others do not, but they do not build websites, they design them. Much like an architect designs a website and construction workers put it together.

Like developers, web designers may specialize in an existing CMS. For example, many will create custom themes and layouts for WordPress or Joomla.

How to Choose One?

Most web development projects require a web developer and a web designer, especially if you’re starting from the ground up. On the other hand, if you’re looking for new features, or a new look, you should seek out a specialist. If you want to change the appearance, a web designer is the best place to go. On the other hand, if you want to add in new menu systems and an interactive appointment app, you definitely want a front end developer.

Knowing what you want makes it easier to choose someone to help you with your website. If you need help with web development or design, contact Rory Martin for more information.

How to Quality Check a Seattle Web Developer’s Portfolio

Hiring a web developer can be stressful, especially if you’ve never worked with one before, mainly because most of us simply don’t know what to look for in a website. While the obvious ‘designs you like’ is fairly easy to look for, it doesn’t really tell you if the developer is any good. While it is possible to just choose a Seattle web developer because you like the sites in their portfolio, you can also try a few of the following tips to quality check the developer before you choose them.

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Check Code

Most of us have no idea how code should look, even if we have some experience with it, but there are some free tools you can use to check. For example, the WC3 markup validation service will go through code and display errors for you. While it’s meant as a development tool, you can use it to quality check websites by seeing how many errors are there. Some are normal and even hard to avoid, because code is fairly complex and things happen, but if sites have massive amounts of errors, you definitely want to avoid the developer. Check it here.

WC3 also offers a mobileOK checker to see if the developer uses mobile friendly code. Find that here.

What does this tell you? Unfortunately, if the site is old or the site owner has messed around a lot and added things, errors could be purely of the owner’s making. That’s why it’s usually a good idea to test only the developer’s own website. Even then, if the website was created in a previous version of HTML, it will show a lot of errors that aren’t actually problems, simply because newer versions of HTMl, or of a CMS will use different attributes then originally written.

Check Site Performance

Site performance depends on multiple factors, including the host, server, number of users on the server, location, and the website itself. If you’re testing site performance, it is important to keep in mind that it might not be the website. However, if you’re paying for hosting from the web developer, or getting a local all in one web development and hosting package, then it is extremely important to test their website, or one that they’re hosting.

Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool is completely free, and will tell you how long the site is taking to load. How long is too long? Anything over 4 seconds, and you could be loosing as much as 25% of your customers. You can use it here.

Test Functionality

You can test website functionality without the help of anyone but yourself, you just need a few minutes to click around on a website that they have developed. You can try their own website, or something in the developer’s portfolio, but try to visit as many pages on the site as possible. You want to look for easy to use links and buttons, clean and easy to use and find menus, pages that load quickly, and design that makes sense.

Local Websites

Working with a local Seattle web development company can help you to reduce hassle, improve communication, and ensure that you’re marketing to your local audience, so you do want to check the websites and make sure that they’re actually local Seattle businesses. This ensures that your company really is right in Seattle.

Are you looking for a quality web developer located right in Seattle? Contact Rory Martin for a free quote on your website, or check out our portfolio.

The 10 Web Design Trends You Need to Know for 2016 – Seattle Web Design

Building a website, or hiring a Seattle web design team to do it for you, requires a lot of work, but more importantly, it requires a lot of important design decisions. Choosing what you want partially involves making decisions based on your brand and partially involves choosing what your customers expect and want to see. These top 10 web design trends include some of the best and most recent website technology that you can use to make your website look modern, appealing and easy to use.

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1. Minimalism

Minimalistic websites are extremely popular for a number of reasons. While many people suggest that multi-page websites do best in search, they can be complicated and difficult to navigate for your readers. Taking a minimalistic approach, cutting out everything that you don’t need, and including more blank space than menus and headers, will ensure that the reader gets a great experience. If you need more pages for search, you can always install a blog.

2. Responsive Design

Mobile is here to stay, and in fact, it’s surpassed desktops in search volume. Unfortunately, mobile doesn’t come in just one screen size, so responsive design is here to stay. You want to optimize your site for slow internet on mobile devices, multiple screen sizes, and short attention spans.

3. UX/UI

Planning your user experience and user interface is something we should have been doing all along. It’s important that your Seattle web design team takes UX into consideration when designing your site.

4. Hidden Menus & Hamburger Menus

Hidden menus and hamburger menus get a lot of criticism, but they’re here to stay. They also help to prevent a cluttered mobile page because the menu is tucked neatly out of site. THey’re also common enough that almost everyone know what they are.

5. Large Images

Big Hero images and image backgrounds are extremely popular, but they have to be high resolution to extremely high resolution, and mainly monochromatic. Using an image as your background, or for most of the page, captures attention and keeps it, and is better than using a small banner.

6. Ad blocking

Ad blocking may not be a web design trend, but with 144 million ad blocker users, it’s here to stay. That means web designers have to create sites around users who could be blocking ads, which can be difficult for sites that make money off of advertisements.

7. UI Patterns

UI patterns are increasingly popular, because they allow you to create an entire user interface using an existing pattern, which makes it easier for consumers to use, and easier for the designer. Most importantly, each one can be tweaked and adjusted to create something completely unique, which is better for your business recognition.

8. Rich Animation

Rich animation, such as animations and illustrations, moving buttons, and animated anything on the website are back in style, and they haven’t been as popular as they are now since the days of Flash in 2012. They take a little bit more work, and they aren’t always a good idea (I.e. if a large portion of your traffic is mobile), but they can be exciting, fun, and unique.

9. Web Design Layouts

Long Scroll – Long scroll websites allow you to tell your entire story on a single page, and you can replicate the appearance of a multi-page website by dividing content into sections. This is also great for mobile users. If you’re worried about people not scrolling, don’t. It’s been proven that the trend of not scrolling below the fold is over thanks to mobile users having to scroll anyway.
Card – Card designs break the website up into smaller portions, which are easier for readers to digest, and can be rearranged to your preference on smaller screens.
Dynamic Grid – Think Pinterest. These sites are perfect for shops and anyone that relies on images or video, and work extremely well on mobile devices.

10. Video

From video headers to profile images to video backgrounds, video is becoming a huge trend in web design, and is set to keep growing for 2016. Like animation, you should be cautious with using it if most of your users are on mobile, but it can be powerful, creative, and interesting.
Web design trends are essentially what’s hip in the world of web design. If you want to know more, or get a quote on your website, contact Rory Martin, a Seattle web design company.

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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