Design Tips: Just Having a Little Fun – Seriously.
May 12th, 2015 10:55 AM
Web designers love to have feedback from our clients as we proceed through the design process – the clearer the better. However, there are some common terms that we hear frequently that we often understand differently than our clients. Here are some of them and what they mean to us.
“Clean” – Take a white t-shirt and bleach it. That is clean. When we hear clean, we understand that to mean there is a lot of white space and very little clutter on pages. And we love clean – it makes for a nicer look and better user experience. Of course, most websites that start out with a client asking for clean, end up anything but.
“Dynamic” – Dynamic means characterized by constant change. In web design, dynamic means have the capacity for change, or content delivered based on certain conditions such as user search or selected parameters.
“Interactive” – The web IS interactive. Users enter a URL and in response to that URL entered, they see a website displayed. Users click navigation and in response to that click they receive the content they have requested.
“Sophisticated” – Sophisticated is rather confusing to web designers. It can mean complicated or intricate, which we do not like. It can also mean that which appeals to a certain class of users (sophisticates). Web designers always try to design for the intended target audience who actually may or may not be sophisticated.
“Modern” – For us modern is easy – html 5, CSS 3, Responsive. Design trends do change over time, but there is no such thing as ‘modern’ visual design. That is always dictated by function, audience and client branding, etc.
“Pop” – One website that people seem to like universally is the Apple website. We like it too (it is actually clean :) There would be some argument about whether the Apple website ‘pops’ or not. What we would say is the elements that need to ‘pop’ do, and that makes the website effective.
So what is my point? It’s actually a really good one – because there is often a linguistic disconnect between web designers and clients, we believe that web design needs to be collaborative and open-ended. Our process starts with an initial concept based on conversations with our clients and research, and from there it moves along collaboratively until our clients are satisfied that what we have designed fits and works for their business or organization.
Words like those above mean very little, but the collaborative relationship between designer and client is invaluable.
Design Tips: Preparing Your Website for QR Code Marketing
November 17th, 2010 8:16 AM
QR Codes are quickly becoming an important part of a digital marketing toolkit. But where are those QR codes taking your customers? The information you provide a mobile user is important, but so is the way you deliver the information. Traditional websites are not the optimum choice, but with some tweaks to your web design or a QR Code-specific landing page, your QR Code marketing can be very effective.
QR codes are two dimensional bar codes that are frequently used in print advertising or product packaging to provide mobile users with more information about a product or service. A consumer scans the code with their smartphone using QR code reader software (included on most smart phones and available for free via download) and is able to view videos, a mobile website or special offers and/or coupons on their phone.
By now most American consumers have seen a QR code. You may already be familiar with QR codes and how to use them. You may be one of the estimated 70 million American smartphone owners who regularly scan these codes with your phone to get product details or special offers on the go.
Whether you are putting QR codes on brochures, business cards or product manuals, its important provide users a source of information that is optimized for a mobile device. Here are some tips to prepare your website or other content for QR Code marketing:
Microsites or Landing Pages
Manufacturers of mobile devices market their ability to display full websites in a mobile browser. But with small screens and touch screen interfaces, these devices are better suited for optimized, mobile websites. Your microsite or landing page can be as simple as formatting the text and images on the page so that they are easily viewed on a mobile device. For example, use a larger font, bigger form fields for use with a touch interface and include email addresses and phone numbers so users can contact you directly from the phone. Optimize images so they load quickly over a 3G data connection.
Video is a great way to communicate information to mobile users. While Flash is the defacto standard for web video, most mobile devices cannot view video encoded in Flash. One exception is videos that are uploaded to YouTube. YouTube saves videos in multiple formats so that mobile users can view them as well. If you are not using YouTube to share videos, make sure the video you share via QR Code is formatted in mobile-friendly way. Here are some technical encoding details to give your video provider:
If you are going to share documents, presentations or other information for customers to download, make sure it's formatted for mobile devices. Not every mobile device can view Word or Powerpoint files, but they can all view PDF files. Convert your documents to PDF format and use the optimization tools in Acrobat, Preview or other PDF viewer to reduce the file size for online delivery. If you really want to make mobile users happy, reformat your documents so they are easily viewed on a small screen without having to zoom and scroll around the document.
No matter what you want to share as part of your QR code marketing, a little planning can ensure mobile users utilize, and appreciate, the information you provide. Contact us to learn more about QR code marketing and how to prepare your website for a QR Code campaign.
Design Tips: The One Sentence Website
July 20th, 2010 7:30 AM
If your website had one page with one sentence, what would it be?
The answer to that question clarifies your online purpose. It tells us what you see as the most important thing about your organization. And it persuades you to really think about what that is.
At Williams Web, our one sentence website would read, "We provide effective web solutions that are affordable, easily managed and quickly deployed." Each page of our website is designed to reinforce that sentence.
As websites grow over time, they become a resource to customers and a tool for lead generation. They provide more support materials, sign up forms and special offers. They start to drift away from the original focus and try to accomplish as many tasks as possible, providing solutions to every need that arises. This is the nature of websites, but this kind of "purpose sprawl" can sometimes make a once well defined site seem a bit schizophrenic.
Whether your website was launched today or three years ago, it's a worthwhile exercise to ask yourself the question, "what if I only had one sentence?" Write down your answer and keep it somewhere you can find it. Every so often, take a look at your website and make sure it is still serving your original purpose. If you start wondering exactly what your website is supposed to accomplish, give us call. Maybe it's time for a "one sentence" conversation.