Filtering by Tag: Design

2014 reflections oh, and about that Unicorn...

 

So that was 2014!  Pretty good year if you ask me.  I know some of you struggled, particularly in the retail sector but others thrived and there seems to be a general optimism for 2015.  About bloody time!

When I look back at the businesses I worked with this year a number of things stand out:

Web Platform

All sites this year were built on the Squarespace platform , I haven't built a new WordPress site since 2013. Not only are they great to look at, scale beautifully on Mobile and are easy for the business owner to update and use, not one of you has had to deal with an outage or a hack - this is huge!

 
New websites  from Simply Friday in 2014

New websites  from Simply Friday in 2014

 

The whole "managed" website idea, which can initially turn people off because they don't have full control is actually perfect for small business owners who don't have in-house tech resource.  If you're still futzing with servers, updating plugins and responding to ever more prevalent security alerts - you might want to think about changing.

Content Production

So we're all pretty familiar with blogging nowadays, but what I'm thoroughly enjoying is how everybody has their head around the use of Imagery.   Whether you're sourcing from the creative commons or getting creative yourself with iPhones and digital cameras, content is looking better than ever and of course that helps spread your message through your social networks.

What I'm perhaps most excited about is the development of video.  I know a few of you have it on your Q1 Ed. cal for next year but I've got to give a shout out to Keith at Greenstate Insurance and Winky at Schatan Optical Gallery for buckling down and learning how to do this.  Like everything, video is not difficult, but it takes time to learn and to find your voice.  For pure ease of information delivery and SEO value, you can't beat it - just watch this short video on who is covered to drive your car - and watch out for the rooster!

 
 

Outsourcing the boring but essential bits

We all know how hard it can be to actually create good content in the first place, but the whole image sourcing, adding of alt tags, proper meta descriptions, correct formatting and then sharing etc can be a pain in the butt.   Fortunately there are resources like Nicole Paulus over at Nico New Media who has been doing this for years and is great at her job.  She's now working with several people on this list and I know she makes their lives so much easier.

If you'd like to focus on the creative aspect and leave the formatting and delivery to Nicole get in touch with her.  Also, she's a fantastic writer, if you're not a natural wordsmith Nicole is a great resource for getting your ideas into well written SEO copy - check out this latest newsletter she wrote for Casa Victoria

Finally - about the Unicorn

It's the classic cobbler's children have no shoes thing, but for three years I have been growing this business without a defined brand or logo.  However, next year I will be developing my visual identity and defining my product offer on the website.  I had had an idea for a logo and sent it out to the list for feedback and while the younger online crowd loved it, the more traditional physical location business owners thought it was lame!

As I explained to a few of you - the color palette comes from the Scottish flag - The Saltire - which represents my background and heritage.  Blue is also a great color for a consulting business as it is seen as a very trustworthy color (and it's pretty masculine too!)

I like the circle approach as I think it will work well as a 50 by 50 pixel icon plus I like how the text works around the central image.  Below is a second iteration from a designer friend of mine in Berlin, Maja.  I like where it's going and I think a few more tweaks of the font and actual wording and we'll be pretty close.

 
 

As for the Unicorn, well, the Unicorn is the national animal of Scotland - bizarre but true - but in addition to that, amongst the digital marketing community a Unicorn is someone who possesses both Marketing and Technology skill sets, which would sum up my business pretty well.

But perhaps more importantly - it's a frickin' Unicorn!  And I think that's cool.

So - that's it for 2014, I wish you and your families  a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.  I will see you all in January and we'll continue to build on the great work you have done in the last 12 months.

;-)

 
 
 

What I've learned about web design in the last 12 months

(or - why websites are kind of like human beings)

 

  • There is no one design that works for everyone
  • Your website should be as unique as you are
  • The only way to find out what that looks like is to change and measure the results
  • It costs less to change your website today than it ever has

Think about it, we've evolved over millions of years - sure we're pretty recognizable as humans instead of say gorillas, or fish, or sofas even, and yet we're all unique!  We're different shapes and sizes, colors and creeds, we have different languages and behaviors and we dress in a myriad of ways to help us get what we want.

But this didn't happen overnight - there had to be change, there had be a selection process in order for the most "successful" traits to win out.

The Takeaway For Your Website

There is a utopian design for your business' website, one that turns all those visitors into paying customers or clients.  The only way to get there is to try different versions - hell, call them generations,  of how it looks and functions.  So do this:

  • Decide how long each generation will have to develop useable data - say two to three months
  • Choose which metric you want to improve
  •  Make changes to your site and / or strategy
  • Measure the results
  • Discard what didn't work
  • Rinse and repeat

 God With a Fast Forward Button?

The only question you need to ask yourself right now is how quickly do you want to evolve?

Big Caveat

This isn't just about the design of your website, it's about your content too.  What you put out into the world has a huge impact on who visits you and whether they choose to engage.  When it comes to SEO, website design is inextricably tied to content strategy so to evolve successfully, you need to be looking at both.

Let's Talk

This isn't complicated, it just requires a little strategy, planning and execution.  If you'd like some help setting it up, call me on 310 980 2499 or email me and let's talk.



 

The Infographic

 

I've been working with infographics quite a bit recently, it's a great way to communicate with your audience.  Here's a few things you should know:

65% of people are primarily visual learners. 

The brain also processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text!  If you can express your message in a graphical way you make it easier for people to take the information on board - and we're all about making it easy for the customer!

Infographics should tell stories

Good Infographics are hard to produce - you can't just dump a few icons and colors on a page and hope people will be wowed by your design skills.   If you removed the text from an infographic would you still have an idea what it was about?

They're Images!

You should already be familiar with the idea that "an image is the sail that moves your content through the sea of Social Media."  People share images way more than they do text articles - an infographic  is the perfect content type for the social media world.

They're fantastic for SEO

Because people are more likely to share your infographic you tend to generate more links, more social shares, more interest in your content and visits back to your website and that's what it's all about isn't it!

They can be about anything

Here's one we just commissioned for my parents 50th anniversary from UK designer Adam Richardson.  It's unique, tells a great story and is eminently shareable!  Click the image to see it in its full glory!

 
 

 

What kind of infographic do you think would work for your business?  Call me on 310 980 2499 or email me and let's chat.

 

Written while listening to: Study music Playlist - music2work2


 
 

Radiohead King of Limbs - Marketing and Design

This post is about marketing and web page design - the takeaways are:

  • If you have something that people want, they will tell their network about you
  • If you have something that people want, make it easy for them to find and purchase it
  • Set expectations and then over deliver

Marketing (Part 1)

Radiohead are notorious for their lack of communication, they have the best signal to noise ratio of any band I know.  This means that when they do communicate, people comment on it.

The band announced the release of their new album with a simple blog post on their website on Monday.  I don't regularly visit Radiohead's website, but I found out about the record’s existence from a news aggregator on Tuesday.

Marketing (Part 2)

I read eleven music related aggregators and I receive three of them in email format, the rest are RSS feeds. I scan their headlines every morning and if something catches my eye I dig deeper.

Pretty much every one carried the story about Radiohead's new album and in every format I was able to click through to the band's website.  Once I had verified the information and pre-ordered the record, I then tweeted to my network about it.  Over the next two days I saw people in my own network going through the same experience and tweeting and blogging about the record to their network.

Design (Part 1)

When I arrived on the King of Limbs website I immediately knew that I was dealing with the band:

Band name (brand) is big and easily identified – the text is simple and straightforward and the graphic immediately funnels your attention to the purchase process.  Note how there is no menu navigation – there is only one way off this page and you choose it by identifying which market you are – brilliant!

Design (Part 2)

There are two products on offer – the higher margin one is presented first, but again – look how clean and simple the language is.  Look at the relative size between the title and the text and the information delivered.  There are only two visible buttons on this page – the pre order and order button – there is no doubt what the purpose of this page is.

Although menu navigation does make an appearance it is super simple – no drop down menus, no multiple options, simple and clean.  The rest of the purchase flow is just as easy – there are no “up sells”, no additional offers and no superfluous requests for information.

Marketing (Part 3)

When Radiohead announced the new album on the 14th, they said it would be available on Saturday 19th.

When I woke up this morning and looked at my network on Twitter I saw that people were already listening to the album.

http://twitter.com/thebluesage/status/38611832986025984

I immediately went to the site and saw that they had released a day early, I downloaded the album, started listening and immediately told my network the news.

By exceeding the expectations that they themselves had set, they delighted me and made me feel good about the whole experience.

Takeaways

If you have something that people want, they will tell their network about you

If you have something that people want, make it easy for them to find and purchase it

Set expectations and then over deliver

Simple huh!

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