Thanks to the Internet, businesses no longer need to outspend their competitors to outperform them on the marketing front. Small companies can go toe-to-toe with established, deep-pocketed enterprises, virtually overnight.
But how? By leveraging the value a well-versed website designer brings to the table. Regardless of a business’ size or industry, a proficient website designer can help:
- Achieve a desired image and appeal to specific markets
- Enable prospects and customers to quickly find relevant information and easily complete tasks
- Build a customer base and increase leads, sales and revenues
Oddly, businesses frequently fork over significant marketing budgets to PR firms, radio, TV, and print publications. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, businesses spend about $400 billion on advertising annually, much of the money going to traditional channels, like television commercials. However, when it comes to their website — the marketing hub that pulls all marketing operations together — business owners often tighten the purse strings.
We often come across and receive killer resources from web industry partners — and we like to share, too.
Here are several that are especially useful for web designers:
Telling Google about domain changes
Moved a client’s site? Tell the king of search about your domain change. Google tells you how.
Are your clients’ soles starting to wear?
Smashing Magazine examines what exactly makes for a good website footer. This insightful article discusses what to include in footers, the importance of sitemaps, usability practices, and styling ideas and trends. Plus, it showcases approximately 50 well-developed footers. Play footsies with Smash Mag.
Fixed or fluid layout?
This Smashing Magazine feature goes over the pros and cons of fixed, fluid, elastic and hybrid layout designs to help web designers head down the right path.
Web browser standards
Web Devout promotes the health of the Web by providing web developers both knowledge and tools. This section covers Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera web browsers, with focus on the HTML, CSS, DOM, and ECMAScript technologies. Get standardized.
Give me speed!
Useful Firefox plug-ins
Firefox is popular among web designers. Heck, almost 60 per cent of Webcoppylus’ visitors use Firefox. Web Design Booth brings you 35 useful Firefox extensions for web designers and developers alike. Plug away.
The demand for good web design is increasing, revealed a recent Webcopyplus online poll. Almost 25% of web users indicated “poor visual presentation” as the number one element that drives them away from websites.
Only 6.6% of web users who participated in a similar 2007 online poll indicated ‘poor visual presentation” as the main reason to abandon a website. That equates to a 267% increase during the two-year period.
Our web content specialists believe the increased desire for quality design comes from the fact that Internet users have become increasingly sophisticated. Consequently, more of today’s Internet users understand that a well designed website makes it possible to achieve more, with less time and effort.
Forrester Research recently evaluated web design capabilities of top interactive marketing agencies across 18 criteria, and reported that Sapient, imc2, Razorfish, IconNicholson, and IBM Interactive led the pack for transaction-led projects.
This was due in large part to the “high usability scores earned by the client reference sites they supplied.”
Organic, just shy of the leaders’ circle for transaction-led projects, received impressive scores for its online branding work, which boosted it into the leaders’ circle for image-led projects.
New to Forrester’s rankings this year, Ascentium, Blast Radius, iCrossing, OgilvyInteractive, Resource Interactive, and Rosetta emerged as strong performers, a category rounded out by returning agencies Critical Mass, Molecular, R/GA, VML, and Whittmanhart. Arc Worldwide completed the research firm’s list of evaluated web design and development firms.
Don’t have half a million dollars to invest in your website? Don’t get discouraged.
While these web design and development agencies are out of reach for most small businesses, there are many reputable smaller scale web designers and developers that deliver high-quality websites that perform well.
In fact, if you do your due diligence, you can get a basic website professionally designed and developed for as little as $5,000 to $15,000.
A client in the HR field asked this week about the value of a Flash intro on a website to set themselves apart from competitors.
I explained strategic positioning and good design is what effectively differentiates a business from its competitors. In fact, if you do a really good job, you can actually make your competition look dull and unimportant.
As I recently noted on Web Designer Wall, Flash intros were tolerated in the ’90s when the Web was a novelty. People were excited about this new thing called the World Wide Web, and many of us spent countless hours surfing it. Spinning images and assorted gimmicks were tolerated, and even considered cool.
Not today. Now people just want to get the information they’re looking for, and get things done quickly and easily.
Still, some business owners think they’ll “wow” people with Flash intros. In fact, a web designer recently told me about an architecture company that spent tens of thousands of dollars on a Flash intro.
Unfortunately, they wasted their money on something that will only get in the way of their visitors. They could have spent that money on search engine optimization, or a host of other marketing and sales tools and campaigns, which would actually generate leads and sales, and promote growth.
While it can take web designers and developers several weeks to design and develop a Flash intro, it takes visitors just a fraction of a second to click their way to the competition.
Typesett offers readers a simple, clever feature that compares websites of rival companies.
When you review the website comparisons, notice the ones that have more impact and promote better usability are amazingly clean. The web designers, developers and copywriters made the effort and took the time to define and effectively convey key messages. They strived for a simple website, and they succeeded.
It brings to mind the words of French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint Exupery: “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Kudos to Apple and Gibson in particular. They made every word and image count. Adidas, Fender and Microsoft should take note.
Too often, businesses don’t get the website they require. Webcopyplus recently spoke to Tamara Brooks of Vancouver’s Syntric Design about how to get the most from your web designer and attain a website that will serve you well.
WCP: What are the first steps to creating a well-managed web design project?
TB: Creativity is subjective but the process should not be. A professional web design firm will desire a strong briefing document, and this is the groundwork of any successful project. In addition, be sure that you have the decision maker at your company interacting with the account representative at the design firm.
WCP: Can you elaborate on creative briefs?
TB: It’s a complex structure, a briefing document clearly articulates your company’s design needs. The process for developing this understanding precedes the web design stage and is one of the most important factors in the outcome of a website. It establishes a mutual understanding of the scope of the work, the project objectives and specific deliverables. It defines the tasks to be completed based on the agreed on estimate or proposal. If the website is complex and includes a large budget, this design brief should be agreed on and signed by both the design firm and the client, and should also be reviewed at a meeting with all stakeholders prior to project commencement.
Are you a web designer? Here’s an article featured on the Guild of Accessible Web Designers that discusses how to get ahead in the Web world.
The colours you choose to represent your business say a lot about you, suggests Juliette Schmerler of SPECTRAMEDIA Strategic Design Solutions.
“Politicians, fashion designers and brand managers pay serious attention to colour trends and colour psychology,” she said.
And so should you. After all, she explained, colour can play a large part in how your audience reacts to you. But be aware choice of colour isn’t just about personal preference.
“There are some colours that are rather obviously associated with particular industries, such as blue for water companies and green for environmental agencies,” noted Schmerler. “However, the choice of warm versus cool colours can also play a part in our perceptions.”
As an example, the Vancouver website and graphics designer explained owners of a bed and breakfast could opt for the coziness of browns, burgundies and mustard yellow in their marketing materials. In contrast, they might want to create an ultra-modern, sleek look with silver, teal blue and crisp white — all very cool colours.
“It is also important to find colours that reflect your company image while differentiating you from your competition,” she stated, making reference to major banks. “Chances are most of us could quite easily tell you which colour each one is associated with: CIBC, red; Royal Bank, blue; TD, green.
“It’s no coincidence that they have chosen very distinct colours to differentiate themselves,” she said. “Ultimately, your choice of colour will be influenced by your company’s goals, philosophy and the image you want to portray.”
So her number one rule when it comes to colours in design? Do not use colour without a specific plan or goal.
Colour Symbolism and Psychology
Assorted sources suggest these interpretations of colour:
- RED: urgency, passion, heat, love, blood
- PURPLE: wealth, royalty, sophistication, intelligence
- BLUE: truth, dignity, power, coolness, melancholy, heaviness
- BLACK: death, rebellion, strength, evil
- WHITE: purity, cleanliness, lightness, emptiness
- YELLOW: warmth, cowardice, brightness
- GREEN: nature, health, cheerfulness, environment, money, vegetation