Posts Tagged ‘web design’

Website Navigation Tips for Businesses – Seattle Web Development

Your website navigation is one of the most important aspects of your site, because it controls how people get from one place to another, and can make or break sales, creating leads, and even reading more on your site. While it can be tempting to simply cram everything into your menus so that people can find it, they often find nothing at all. If you’re working with a Seattle web developer, or planning to hire one, these following tips will help you with making the right decisions regarding your menus and other website navigation.

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Use a Recognizable Style

It may be tempting to use a unique menu or navigation system because it makes you stand out, but the important thing to remember is that people will have to learn it. When helping people through your site, especially to making a purchase, the last thing you want them to have to do is take a moment to learn. Studies and real world reactions show that people hate things they aren’t familiar with. Use existing menu systems and layouts that people already know, understand, and can use without a second thought.

Ditch Drop Down and Sub Menus

Drop down menus and sub menus may seem like a good idea because they allow you to clean up your home page, but they aren’t usually a good idea. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to see where they have to go, which means using a menu that they can see. Hamburger menus are popular, but not always a good idea because they make finding the menu difficult, especially on small screens.

Optimize Your Navigation Order

If your navigation order is completely randomized, then you are doing it wrong. You want to figure out which pages people are most likely to visit, and in what order, and organize based on priority. You don’t really want an irrelevant page on the top of the menu, because it completely throws the menu off and makes it that much harder to use. If you’re upgrading an existing website, you can usually go about upgrading your menu by prioritizing the pages that get the most traffic, or using the path that most people take through your website. If you’re building a new website, you can ask your Seattle web developers to create a natural path through the website for users to follow, and organize navigation accordingly.

Use Links Not Buttons

Links are better for menus than buttons because they’re smaller, simpler, less likely to malfunction, and are better for search optimization.

Keep it Simple

Simplicity is the key to a good menu. Don’t make it hard to find the right things, don’t add too many items, and certainly don’t have more than 10 items. Sub-menus may seem like a good idea but they are most often messy, difficult to use, and can fail completely on mobile devices.
Good navigation makes for a good user experience, which boosts your SEO, your website’s usability, and your conversion. Discuss it with your local Seattle web development team during site development, and make sure that it’s easy to use before you launch.

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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.

Responsive Web Design vs. a Mobile App – Seattle Web Developers Discuss

Mobile is becoming more and more important as users switch from clunky laptops and desktop PC’s to their lightweight, mobile tablets and phones. While many homes still incorporate a PC, more than 27% of the population no longer owns a computer, and instead relies almost solely on their mobile device to access the web and all that comes with it. With some 54% of millennials admitting to using mobile to compare rates and shop when in physical stores, mobile access can make or break a sale.

But, you get it, you need mobile. We don’t have to convince you of that. What you do have to consider is whether you need a mobile app or a responsive web design. This decision is a bit more complicated, because it requires understanding your complex market and user database.

What’s the Difference between an App and Responsive Web Design?

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One of the most frequent questions we get about web design is ‘what’s the difference?’. In simple terms, a responsive web design allows your website to automatically resize based on the browser and screen size of the visitor. It can be accessed via any browser, so long as the user has Internet. A mobile app must be downloaded from the app store.

Pros and Cons of a Mobile App

A mobile app is a great way to engage with consumers and tell them that they are important enough to you that you made them an app. If used properly, you can offer a webshop, sales, discounts, consumer rewards programs like points, notifications, and much more through an app.  Apps are fast, capable of more functionality than websites, and can incorporate smartphone features (like GPS to offer real time directions to your store). They’re also popular, in 2014, consumers spent 27% of their time with mobile brands using apps. If you’re trying to boost your search ranking, another consideration is that app pages do not show up in search. While versatile, easy to use, and relatively inexpensive to deploy, they have one major flaw. The consumer has to be committed enough to your business that they are willing to download an app to clog up their probably already full mobile phone with your app. Unless you are one of their favorite stores or restaurants, you probably won’t be able to earn this kind of commitment.

Pros of Responsive Web Design

Responsive design is easy to integrate into almost any website, boosts your search engine optimization, and allows any casual visitor to quickly come along and check out your website. This makes responsive web design convenient, relatively easy to deploy, and easy for anyone to use. While it’s not going to push as many sales as an app, it does allow new customers to research your products, check your website from their mobile device, and get in and out quickly without being annoyed by a desktop layout website. Responsive design is not a cure-all, and it will require maintenance, but it’s a much more versatile solution than a mobile app.

Which Is Right For You?

For most small businesses with no strong consumer base, the answer is definitely responsive web design. However, for almost everyone else, the answer is both. Responsive web design allows casual visitors to easily check out your website and your products, price or quality compare, and then go back to whatever they were doing. An app requires a lot more commitment, which most new customers just aren’t willing to make. Of course, your long-term customers who shop with you regularly are almost sure to appreciate an app, especially if you use it to offer updates, sales, notifications of deals, and even special user discounts. Responsive web design is pretty much a must-have for everyone, so even if you have an app, you should consider responsive design. If you can’t afford both, focus on the web design first, and budget for the app later.

Want more local Seattle web design tips? Follow our blog. Or, contact Rory Martin for a quote on responsive design for your business.

Planning Your Small Business Website For Your Budget – Seattle Web Development Tips

In an ideal world, everyone could get the exact website they wanted, and even a small business website could have custom coding, a unique content management system, built in functions and features including a webshop, contact, or menus, but the truth is, not everyone can afford it. Most Seattle small businesses have a tight budget, which means choosing your features and functions wisely, cutting corners where necessary, and planning for the best results. This does require planning, and a careful discussion with the Seattle web developer you choose, but it does mean that you can get a fully functional website within, or close to, your budget.

Cool quote posted by my friend Erin Shafkind

 

Seattle Web DesignDecide What You Need

Sitting down to discuss your website needs, wants, and options, and then narrowing them down can help you with keeping costs to a minimum. An easy example is deciding if you need menus, a webshop, or etc., and then discussing the pros and cons of each. If you have a webshop, you won’t necessarily make sales off of it, so it might be a better fit to add to your website later. Planning your features and deciding which you need now and which you can add on later can save you money, but it’s also important to ensure that you’re only getting the features you absolutely need.

Consider Existing Designs

If you want to save money, then considering a pre-built website theme with custom design and custom layout could be the way to go. In fact, this is the best option for many small businesses, because it can cut hundreds of hours of developer work off of your bill. While a custom design will still give your website the best chance of standing out, it’s not 100% necessary, especially if you’re aiming at a small local audience of people who live in the Seattle, or your suburb, area. For example, if you choose to go with a Joomla website, you can save a lot of time developing a custom backend to your site, and still get a completely unique design.

Plan For the Longest Launch Time Possible

One consideration is that if you need rushed work, you will usually be charged for it. Ask your developer what a reasonable time to launch is, and then go with that rather than trying to get your website up by a specific time. This also ensures that developers have the time they need to do everything correctly, so that your website is as functional as possible.

Combine Extra Services

Some Seattle web development companies have services for promoting your website, integrating your digital marketing or social media, and so on. These might seem like added expenses, but chances are, if you’re launching on the web,, you need them. Consider comparing costs with hiring someone separately to see how much you will save, and then plan those costs into your budget. After all, your website won’t make a return on profit if you aren’t marketing it properly.

Hiring a Seattle web development team to build your website can be challenging, but don’t go into it without asking questions. Ask for quotes, get information, and make sure you know everything before you make the hire to ensure that you know what you’re getting into. You can start by requesting more information from us here.

What is Flat Design? Seattle Web Design

What is Flat Design? Seattle Web Design

Flat web design is something of this season’s hip new trend, but by all appearances, it’s here to stay, and for good reason. Flat web design is rooted in some of the best web design elements, combining simplicity with clean lines, simple fonts, and minimalist design to create web design that really stands out, even when multiple websites use similar design. Flat design combines elements of visual style with simplicity to create the illusion of 3D while retaining simplicity. If you want to get in on the trend, your design needs the following features.

Simple Typography

Your typography says a lot about who you are, but a simple, plain, and easy to read font says more than the most interesting font in the world. Helvetica and Sans Serif are very popular fonts for this, but they are by no means the only option.

Shadows and Illusions of Depth

Flat design usually has an illusion of depth or 3-dimensional structure, so you need shadows, illusions, and lines that create depth wherever possible. This is fairly simple in theory, but you do need a designer who knows what they are doing in order to pull the look off.

Transparent, Interactive Design

Transparent but interactive design is one of the biggest and coolest themes you will find in transparent design. This often translates into translucent or opaque menus and buttons that allow you to see the button and press it, but also see through it, so that it looks more like part of the site rather than an ugly button. When used with buttons, it’s known as a ghost button, but it also works with menus and other text holders that would otherwise be quite intrusive.

Minimalism

A minimal design, complete with large graphics and plenty of blank space would have been rare ten years ago, but today, simplicity is in. Flat design incorporates minimalistic styles, imagery, and design, uses large graphics and lots of space, to create a site that is easy to take in, simple, and not overly complicated. Because simplicity vastly affects user experience, this can also boost your customer’s satisfaction with the site, as well as the design quality.

Flat design is rapidly evolving to fit new parameters, and often moving outside of the box or format that the first flat websites used. This allows you to create something truly unique, that stands out from other sites, while integrating a beautiful and popular design style.

Almost-Flat design, or Flat 2.0 is a little bit more complex, offers more flare, and is a good alternative if you’re not completely into minimalism, but still want simple with a touch of 3D. Flat 2.0 integrates many of the features of flat design, but allows you to fit in more content and more design. Because flat is not all or nothing, you can also choose to integrate elements that you find appealing, while sticking with more traditional web design options for other parts of your site.

Contact Rory Martin, a Seattle web developer, for a consultation or quote for developing your website.

How to Protect Your Website From Hackers – Seattle Web Development Tips

If you have a business website then, you no doubt, worry about hackers, viruses, and other issues that could not only affect your website, but also your business reputation. This is especially important if you offer online purchases through a shopping cart. Even if you’re just starting to set up and build your site, the following tips from Seattle web developers can help to ensure that you take the right steps to protect your site. While these tips do not include coding issues, you can talk to your web development team to ensure that they are integrating security into your design.

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Use Secure Logins

While you may be tempted to use your default logins, or ‘administrator’ plus “password123”, you should usually be a bit more creative. Some hackers are nothing more than good guessers, and some use software to input commonly used password and username combinations, until they get lucky. Make sure they don’t by ensuring that your password is a string of complex numbers and letters, with special characters, and that your username is something other than your name, ‘administrator’, or similar. A good idea is to use the name of your first pet plus your school locker number or your first phone number if it’s a personal website, or a randomly generated secure hash if it’s a website that multiple people are using.

Consider Security Plugins

If you’ve gone with popular CMS like Drupal, Joomla, or Wordpress, you can choose multiple security plugins to ensure that your website is as safe as possible. Options range from apps that only give you a few tries to log in until they lock you out, to those that email or text you if you’re logging in from a new location.

Don’t Integrate Third Party Flash Apps

Unless you’re using apps from a very trusted source like Google Maps, try not to integrate third party applications into your website. JavaScript and flash injection both allow hackers to insert malware into visitors computers directly from your website.

Purchase a Security Script

Buying security is a must if you want your consumers trust. Most web hosts offer security certificates, but you can also purchase them from popular antivirus companies like Symantec’s Norton. Posting these on your website tells your visitors that you are doing everything you can to keep them safe. If you don’t know how to set this up, don’t be afraid to ask your developer.

HTTPS

If you’re running a store, asking for personal information, or even asking for email addresses, you should consider setting up HTTPS. This means that your site is secure, as is the connection, so that hackers cannot access the information under normal circumstances. Once again, just ask your developer.

Knowing how to protect your website is important, especially with more and more vulnerabilities found in websites. If you want to know how to protect your specific website, ask your developer, or hire them to build in more security.

Five Tips for Choosing a Local Seattle Web Developer

Finding a quality web developer is notoriously difficult on the web, especially with thousands of overseas companies who operate under dubious credentials and often offer themes or pre-built websites under the pretense of a custom site. Going local is the easiest way to ensure the originality of your site, but it also allows you to find a company that understands your local customer demographic, local website trends, and that you can meet in person to determine their actual suitability for the job. Whether you’re looking to hire a one-off Seattle web development team to build your website, or need a long-term web specialist for maintenance, updates, and constant development, you can use these tips for choosing a good local Seattle web developer or team.

web building

Understand the Market

The first rule of hiring a web developer anywhere, not just in Seattle, is that you have to understand the market, fair pricing, and what you can expect for the money. If you’re accustomed to choosing outsource and offshore companies with engineers and developers primarily in India and Pakistan, then you’re going to be able to afford considerably less if you go local. However, you also have to know normal pricing for a website of your size and standard, so that you can get a fair quote, without feeling that it is over the top or too cheap. Your best bet is to set a budget in advance and then figure out what you can get for that budget before you go ‘shopping’ for a developer.

Decide on Skills and Requirements Up Front

You wouldn’t hire a Japanese sushi chef if you wanted a French Crémeux, and the same goes for web development. While some developers are experts in everything, that’s rare and usually quite far fetched. Instead, look for a developer who has the skillset you need (I.E. JavaScript, PhP, and HTML) and make sure they can work with it before you hire them. There is no one size fits all developer, unless you’re happy with whatever they can build you.

Look for a Past History

While it may sound unfair to only hire experienced developers, you wouldn’t hire an inexperienced person for most other jobs, so don’t risk it with your website. Choosing someone with verifiable experience, standards, and hopefully references you can use to verify claims and ensure that the developer hits deadlines and offers quality websites is an easy way to cut out a lot of hassle.

Check their Portfolio

Finally, you want to know that you like their work and that they are capable of building you a website that you love. Checking your prospective web developer’s portfolio is the easiest way to make sure that they will offer you the website you want.

 

Want to know more about how a local Seattle website designer can help you? Contact Rory Martin to see if we’re a good fit for your needs.

What Seattle Companies are Doing Wrong with Web Design

With over 644 million active websites on the Internet, it can be difficult to make yourself stand out. Luckily, there are far fewer local Seattle websites to compete with, but you’re still going to have to make yourself stand out. While the average small business now recognizes that they need and should have a website, not everyone goes about it in the best way. A website is your brand on the web, and it has to be just as convincing as any physical storefront. Because many consumers are now visiting mobile websites before they go to a store for the first time, your site is becoming more and more important. With that in mind, here are few things that Seattle businesses frequently get wrong, and help from local web designers on how to fix those problems.

web design feature

Forgetting to Research Your Demographic

If you’re in a hurry to get your website up, a new business, or don’t think you need a target demographic, you could be making a huge mistake. While some people don’t think they need to target anyone and others try to target everyone, both options are a mistake. Researching your target demographic allows you to market your website directly to the people most likely to need your services or products, allowing you to create more churn and make more sales.

No Marketing

No one likes to be marketed to but if you have a whole website with no calls to action, no links driving people to buy things, and nothing at all to tell the consumer that they should be spending money, then you’re probably missing out. Integrating strategic calls to action, links to products, and creating landing pages for users who search for your content on the web can be crucial to your success.

Overly Complicated Design

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The 90s and early 2000s saw a rash of poorly designed websites with flashing banners, jQuery animation, and really cluttered design. If your website looks like an advertisement board, has more images than free space, or crams something into every possible space, you’re probably telling customers that you aren’t professional or modern. Go with simple, elegant, and easy to use.

Not Updating Your Content

Regularly updating your content, even if it’s as simple as changing all of the listed dates on your website once yearly, is crucial to being on the web. Customers like to see activity so that they can see you’re a relevant, real business. Consider linking your social media so that consumers can see your likes and social activity, keep a weekly blog and update it weekly, and post regular updates.

Using the Wrong Designer

The wrong designer can completely ruin your website. Whether you’re paying more than you have to and going way over budget, or paying less than you should and getting a substandard website, you’re making a mistake. You’re probably also messing up if you decide to do your website yourself, unless of course, you’re a qualified website designer. Go over your budget, decide how much you can make back from your website in a year, and choose a quality designer with a good reputation based on that criteria.

If you want to know more about quality Seattle web design, contact Rory Martin for a free quote.

Does Your Small Business Need a Website? – Seattle Web Design Tips

The first servers powering the web may not have been switched on until 1991, but in that time, it has expanded at a rate so exponential that it’s expansion could be said to be unprecedented. The technology, which was initially created to allow access to data from anywhere, has become such a common part of everyday life, that most of those born in the 90s quite simply cannot imagine a world without it. With over 640 million active websites on the web, it’s hard to imagine that there are businesses who don’t have one. However, with 27.9 small businesses in the U.S. and over 217,000 in Washington alone, there are literally millions of businesses that have not yet made it onto the web.

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While it is an undeniable fact that a web presence can greatly benefit a business of any size, and the dot com is undeniably the gold standard for establishing your brand on the web, there are other options.

The Size Of Your Business

One important consideration is that many businesses are actually very small businesses. Very small business owners often bring home between $20,000 and $120,000 per year in gross profit depending on their business. Small businesses, which can make upwards of $1 million per year, can typically afford a website without any problems, but for very small businesses who use most of their income for living expenses, renovations and small personal luxuries, the often high costs of a website are not always an option.

Social Pages vs. Web Pages

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Social pages are quickly replacing websites as the first place that customers visit. While anyone searching for a keyword or business type on Google, Bing, or Yahoo will most definitely find your website first, they can also reach your Google Plus page if it is properly optimized, your YouTube page, or even your Facebook page, depending on how you write your About description. Because services like Google Local allows you to put yourself on the map (literally) in search, web pages are becoming less and less necessary for simply telling people about your business. In fact, a busy social page with visible reviews, visible consumer interaction and fresh posts will leave the average consumer more convinced of the quality of your small business than most websites.

What You’re Selling

The last and most deciding factor for choosing whether to go with a website or a social page is your business. Depending on what you are selling, what you want to use the website for and what information you want to display, a website may or may not be right for you. For example, if you have a restaurant and you want an interactive menu, online booking and live chat, then you definitely need a website. If you have an auto-shop and you just want to let people know where you are and when you’re open, it’s significantly less necessary.

While statistically, more than 140,000 websites are launched per day, the truth is that with social media, the days of one page websites and web pages are virtually over. Not everyone needs a website when they can establish a web presence just as effectively, and without the hassle, using social media. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a website, it just means you might not actually need one.

If you want to know more, contact Rory Martin for a consultation.

Seattle Web Design – Should I Use a Custom Theme?

If you’re using a CMS that supports themes, then one of your first questions is probably whether or not you need a unique, custom theme, or if you can get away with purchasing an existing one, or even using a free-to-use theme. The answer to the latter is, probably not, there will be thousands of websites with that theme, which is a definite disadvantage for making your website stand out on the web. The answer to the second is that it depends, and you may want to consider your options. The following help from Seattle web design experts should help you decide if you need a custom theme or not.

Why Use a Custom Theme?

A custom theme is advantageous for a number of reasons, especially if you’re just one of a number of similar Seattle businesses. Whether you use Joomla, Drupal, WordPress or one of another of the countless available CMS systems available, you can likely download a number of free and cheap themes that allow you to easily set up and get your business running. Unfortunately, that’s the problem. The cheaper and easier they are, the more businesses who will use them. Over time, consumers may become confused by seeing the same websites with different brand names, which generally reduces the impact of your branding and consumer messages.

It also affects your SEO, because most web based algorithms track uniqueness. When you have a website theme, none of your code is unique because other people, and potentially thousands of other websites are using it. When you have a custom theme, you won’t have any of these problems.

However, custom themes cost more, take longer to get up, and might delay your website launch if you’re planning it quickly. While custom themes have a lot of advantages for branding and some advantages for SEO, they might not be the best choice right away if you plan on launching your site immediately. However, you can plan to launch immediately with an available theme and plan a re-launch with a custom option for a few months or a year down the road.

What is Your Web Traffic and Web Based Revenue?

A custom theme typically costs upwards of $500, and many more than twice or three times that depending on the size, complexity and required features. Depending on how much money your website is going to generate, a custom theme might not be a good business decision, especially not if you own a small business. If you mostly want a one to five page website so that your customers have somewhere to go if they look you up on the web, then a custom theme might set you back a great deal of money when you would be better off investing it in advertising to boost your online sales. However, if you’re already making a great deal of money off of your website, or have the potential to, then a custom theme can be part of your marketing plan, because it is good business sense for branding, custom advertising, and standing out from the competition.

Want a quote? Contact Rory Martin’s Seattle web design team at 206-402-6347 for a consultation.

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