The old adage ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ is particularly apt in the field of web design. In the fast-paced click on, click off world of the internet, your web site needs to have a certain something to attract and retain your customers’ attention.
As part of a successful web site build, we are often tasked with the sourcing of good, strong imagery. The use of photographs, line drawings and other visual design features can make the difference between a good site and a great site. The right imagery will help you to carry your message and to support your company branding much quicker than text (although that’s important too). Here are a few tips:
- Human beings are pre-programmed to look at the faces and bodies of other humans, and so if you want to connect to your customers you may need to look for images of people. Choose carefully, people like real-looking people and so perhaps that supermodel might not be quite the ticket.
- Striking colours within images will attract attention and may add more power to your site than coloured text or page backgrounds, but go for clear, strong images rather than fussy or busy ones.
- If you’re selling products MAKE SURE you have an image for EVERY PRODUCT. Missing or broken images create a really bad impression on the browser and if someone can’t see what you’re offering they are very unlikely to buy it.
- In the same vein, it is worth spending a little bit of money to have your products photographed professionally. Clear images are much more successful than blurry, old or dim ones.
- Make sure your images are cohesive. Decide on a style or a frame of reference and stick to it. Your eSterling design team will be able to help you with this. Tartan and leopard-skin may both be striking, but it’s unlikely that putting them together will do anything except give you a headache.
- Supplement your images with great text. The use of clever straplines alongside your images will double the effect. Make sure you use succinct and relevant straplines.
If you have any queries about freshening up your current web site or building a new one, please contact eSterling and we’d be pleased to help. Call us on 0121 766 8087 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re thinking of giving your website some TLC, you can rely on eSterling to help. Whether you are looking for a simple upgrade such as adding a page, or you are looking to completely re-design your site, eSterling has the solution at a competitive price.
Our experienced web designers and developers are always willing to listen to your special requirements and help you get the best out of your project, whilst our dedicated project manager will ensure that the job will be carried out to schedule.
If you are an existing eMarketing customer, our SEO team will be able to advise you of the best solutions to maintain your current rankings. This minimises disruption to your site and keeps the traffic following even when changes are being made.
Contact us today if you need to:
- Add a new page to your website
- Get a blog for your website
- Re-design your homepage
- Re-brand your site
- Add a video upload page
- Upgrade your CMS (content management system)
Call eSterling today on 0121 766 4080 or email email@example.com to get things started.
As we approach 2012 many of you will be looking to get a new website to go into the New Year with a virtual bang. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you all the benefits a website has to offer as a place to showcase your products or services. A new website is no doubt a good move, but what if it can’t be found?
Your customers need to be able to find your site when they are searching for your products or services, which is where SEO comes in. SEO stands for search engine optimisation and it’s the behind the scenes stuff that gets your website noticed in Google. Without it, your website is like a shop with no signs – not good!
There will be some of you that already have SEO covered and your old website has brilliant Google rankings. Your customers are finding you, but when they get to your site they don’t like what they see. This is something we internet types refer to as ‘bounce rate’ – if your bounce rate is too high it means that too many customers are bouncing straight off your site using their metaphorical internet space-hopper. One way to make sure your customers stick around is to upgrade your website to something more modern, slick and shiny – a website to be proud of.
Whatever category you fall into, you need to be aware of the ways that SEO and web design can work together for you. A good internet solutions company (like eSterling of course) can help you with the complete package, making sure your website attracts visitors and keeps them interested.
Web design and SEO go hand in hand like fish and chips or gin and tonic… I just wish the web designers would learn this and make the SEO team a cup of tea once in a while!
In our quest for constructive feedback from our clients, we often come across requests to scale a website down so that the whole page fits within the screen size. When a client asks for their site to appear ‘above the fold’, we always explain that this isn’t such a great idea and I’ll explain why…
New viewing mediums
With the web now extremely prominent on mobile phones and tablets and even HDTVs, the way the site can be viewed will be different on each platform. Users will also have a variety of different resolutions on their monitor and each browsers visible screen size will be different depending on the size of the toolbars. This means there isn’t a specific ‘above the fold’ point where all of the content must be.
Negative impact upon the design
If you scale down a website by around 300 pixels then the design of the site will significantly suffer. The original design will no doubt include plenty of white space around the design so the user can ‘breathe’ when looking through the site and everything is clear and easy to manoeuvre around. However, once that is removed and many of the elements are bunched up, the site will be a lot more difficult to scan and will probably result in the user either not noticing key information or not bothering to explore the site further.
Users are willing to scroll
Research has suggested that although the user will naturally spend more time looking at the top of your website, they are more than happy to scroll down to view more, especially if the site is designed to be scannable. In research carried out by ClickTale.com it found that 76% of users scrolled and that a good portion of them scrolled all the way to the bottom.
A domain name is simply the address of your website – for example, our domain name is www.esterling.co.uk.
You will need to buy a domain name for your new website if you don’t already have one and there are a number of options to consider:
- Type of domain name. For a UK business, a domain name ending .co.uk is the best option. If you trade worldwide, you may choose a .com name. If you are a charitable organisation you may choose .org and so on.
- Should I use my company name? A lot of businesses use their company name as their web address, including eSterling. If you have a very long or complicated company name you may want to abbreviate it in some way. Think about how you will use your domain name. If you are going to be mentioning it to customers over the phone, make sure you have one that is easy to understand.
- What are the other options? Some websites very successfully use their product names or slogans as web addresses. The likes of webuyanycar.com or. diy.com (as used by B&Q) spring to mind. This type of domain name can be easier to remember than a company name and can also help with your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). For example, if you sell motorboats and you have a domain that contains this ‘motorboats’, you are more likely to get good results for this product in a Google search.
What else should I think about?
- Who is your web site aimed at? Other businesses? Consumers?
- Will you be printing your domain name on stationary or advertising it elsewhere?
- Is your company name too long or too complicated? Or is it already taken?
- Could you use a domain name which relates to one or more of your products or services?
To find a suitable domain name for your website, simply use the eSterling domain checker www.esterling.co.uk/tools/whois
This tool will show you which domains are available to buy. Then simply give us a call to get started.
Once you’ve decided to have a new website, the fun really begins!
The key to success for any website development project is a strong foundation. This comes from having a clear and precise understanding between the client and development team from the very beginning. For this reason, we meet with all of our clients to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
The procedure usually goes something like this:
- An initial meeting is arranged with our Directors to discuss requirements. At this stage basic elements of design and functionality of your website are discussed, as well as budget and timescale.
- The next step is to meet with the Project Manager and the development team to lay out an exact specification of what you need for your new website to be as effective as possible for your business.
– This part is where you can tell us your ideas, from aesthetic preferences through to functionality. During this meeting we take note of any other websites that you like (and what you don’t like) and also get a feel for what message you are trying to put across to your customer.
– It is also agreed between both parties as to what exactly is feasible within the constraints of time, budget and scope. An exact price is calculated to suit your budget are we also give you an expectation of what end product you will receive.
We find that these early meetings are important for the success of the project. As Project Manager, I find that I’m able to plan your website build more effectively after discussing your needs in detail.
Every project can be faced with hiccups along the way, but if the project has been built on this strong foundation then the difficulty can be overcome – leaving you happy with your new website.
Making a website from scratch, rather than using a template, is the preferred method of almost all professional web designers.
Creating a website from nothing will mean that everything behind the scenes (we call this the code) is specifically required on that website; and there won’t be any unused code that often occurs when using a template.
Website template editors can also produce bloated code, when there is a far simpler way to do the same job by hand. Less code means that the files will be smaller in size and pages will therefore load quicker.
Hand coding also means consistency throughout the website design – for example, there won’t be odd sections with incorrect colours which could easily occur if bits of the template are overlooked.
Problem solving is also significantly easier if a website site is build by hand. Any error that occurs can easily be read by the designer since they wrote it themselves in the first place.
Finally, a hand coded site will be a better product for you, since the designer won’t be restricted in what they can produce and each web design will be unique.
Doing things this way not only helps the website itself, but also allows the designer to improve – which is so important from my point of view.
From the perspective of the designer, constantly having to code a website from a blank canvas will allow them to find new and more efficient ways to create. Not only this, but with the ever changing world of web development, hand coding allows the designer has to develop with the times. This ensures that each new website produced is in-line with what’s happening in web design right now.
Following Phil’s post on Friday, which was about how to choose a web design company, we thought we’d go back one step further.
Our Back to Basics guide will talk you through everything you need to know about setting up your own website. We will be posting a series of articles discussing domain names, hosting, web design and SEO. All the posts will be jargon free – we promise.
So onto Part 1… Do I Need A Website?
With an estimated 51million of us in the UK now online, getting a website for your business makes perfect sense.
If you decide to make the commitment to having a website which is easy to use and easy to find, you could be opening up a huge potential market.
Online retail is now growing six times faster than high street retail and UK companies are exploiting this trend by selling products through e-commerce websites.
Even if you don’t want to sell online, research shows that 83% ofUKshoppers use search engines to research a purchase before they buy. This is also true for consumers looking for services, making a website a cost-effective way of advertising your company.
However, a web site which isn’t seen by your customers is like a shop with no front door. It is essential that your website can be found by using search engines such as Google, which is where SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) comes in.
SEO is about making your website easily found when people use search engines to look for keywords related to your business. We will be discussing SEO in more detail later in the series.
If you would like more information about getting your own website please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tune in for the next Back to Basics when we will be discussing domain names.
Choosing the right web design company is a tricky thing. There’s a lot at stake, and if you end up with a bad design, bad code and are nowhere to be found in the search engines then you’re at a massive loss.
Here are a few pointers to help you narrow down your search and find the perfect company for you:
Don’t just go with the first company you find in Google. Ask people you know or local businesses with good websites which company they used.
Is their own website designed well?
There’s nothing worse than a web design company with a terrible website. If a company can’t design and maintain their own website well enough, will they do that for you? Although you don’t need to like their design, a well designed site is a good indicator.
Do you like their design work?
Every designer should have a portfolio. Have a look at their work, and see if anything catches your eye. Always remember that every client wants a different thing, so bear in mind that they may not have the same aims as yours.
Do their sites work well?
There’s a lot more than just the design. Check their sites in different browsers to see if they break or look same across the board. Make sure they are easy to navigate, well thought out and convey the client’s message well.
Have they made a site with features you want?
Although it’s unlikely that they will have made something to your exact specification, they may have made a site with certain parts you need e.g. ecommerce, content management system etc. Don’t be afraid to contact the company and ask them for specific examples of things you are after.
Do their sites rank well?
Try and find some of their portfolio sites in Google, obviously without using their company name! You want your completed website to be easily found, so make sure that they can do that for you.
So what’s next?
Gather a shortlist of the best companies you have found and approach each one with your specification. Remember don’t always go for the cheapest option. It is more important to go for a company that understands your needs, you can communicate well with and will deliver you exactly what you set out to get.