Digital tablet with blank screen in coffee shop cafe

Everyone knows what bad design looks like. I know what you’re thinking: If everyone knows what bad design looks like, then why do people still think animated flaming skulls on websites are a good idea? […]

The world we know today is one of digital dominance, and the average amount of time spent online increases every year. People have become more interested in online shopping because they think they can get better deals online and won’t have to shop in crowded malls or stores.  According to nchannel.com, 64% of people think customer experience is more important than price and 65% of people have cut ties over a single poor experience.

Numerous factors are taken into account when discussing customer experience and the most important factor of customer experience is website design. Your website’s design determines how a customer feels and interacts with your brand.

So how do you know if your business has poor website design? Here are the top 4 warning signs that your web design needs improvement:

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Even a person who doesn’t stay up to date on internet trends has probably heard that mobile usage has exploded. Technology has grown so much that our mobile devices and tablets have the same functioning capability as a laptop or desktop computer. We as a country have become so dependent on our cellular devices that most people would not be able to successfully get through one day without theirs. Business Insider reported that mobile internet users will grow larger than desktop users this year, in 2014.

What does this mean for your website? Do you know what percent of your customers are visiting your website from their mobile device? Can customers properly navigate your website from a mobile or tablet device? By navigate, I mean make purchases, schedule appointments, or any other activity that has been set up on your site. After answering these questions, are you still not convinced that you need a mobile site? Below are some more reasons that explain how critical a mobile website is for your company. […]

If you’re a super-hero like Spiderman or The Tick, a secret identity can come in handy. When you’re running an E-Commerce website, however, shrouding your company details in mystery can ruin your business.

One of the main disadvantages of E-Commerce is that consumers can’t see, touch or feel the actual products offered on your website. People like to know what they’re buying. Fortunately, it’s a disadvantage that can be overcome to a degree by including plenty of good product-specific content like photos, videos and reviews. Another disadvantage is that consumers can’t see you — or your business — and gain a sense of trust from that contact. As much as people like to know what they’re buying, they also want to have confidence in who they’re buying from. […]

In most of the website usability studies that I’ve read, poor legibility is by far the most frequent complaint encountered. It’s generally a sin of comission on the part of web designers, because web-safe typography by default is designed to be both legible and flexible.

A website gets into trouble when its design diverges from online typographic standards. Often, the issue begins with a site owner — or the site owner’s print marketing designer — who wants the fonts and styles on a website to mirror those the business uses elsewhere. While it may sound like a good theory from a branding perspective, it’s often a train wreck for usability. […]

Websites offer a seemingly endless amount of space for your content, especially compared to traditional media like print or broadcast. For a relatively small hosting fee, you can literally publish entire libraries of text. An average 500 MB hosting account has enough room for more than 150 copies of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” 400 copies of Melville’s “Moby Dick” or 600 copies of James Fennimore Cooper’s “Last of the Mohicans.”

When you’re passionate about your business, the temptation is to use as much of that space as possible to share your enthusiasm and expertise with potential customers. But it’s all a trap, a painful deception. The truth of the matter is that your customers have a lot less time than you have space. […]

I will freely admit my bias towards icons upfront, I believe that just about every design can benefit from their use. What exactly is an icon you might ask? For design purposes, icons are simplistic representations of a concept. Take something big and grand, like the Earth, and reduce it down to a it’s most basic but identifiable depiction. […]

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become a popular topic among website owners. Everyone wants to have the #1 spot in search engines, but it’s hard to know what advice to follow.

Sometimes reading SEO tips and tricks can cause more harm than good. Following bad advice can be dangerous and can potentially get your website blacklisted by search engines.

Google’s algorithm for determining how to rank websites in their search results may be a secret, but the fundamental concept behind it is not. Google wants to provide quality content that matches what users are searching for. The best way to optimize your website for search engines is to focus on building the best website possible for your website visitors. If you are able to accomplish this, your website will already be optimized for search engines!

Below are some basic tips to help you build a better website that customers and search engines will both love. […]

Every website communicates information to users through text. Headlines grab our attention while cluing us into what the following paragraph is about. Supporting text tells us a story about a good or service being offered, and why we can’t live without it. Given the weighty job that text performs on a website, it makes sense to take care in sculpting its appearance. The following is a quick walkthrough of the different tweaks that web designers (and do-it-yourself website updaters) can use to add readability and impact to website text. […]

One of the most important parts of creating a website is designing it to be user-friendly and easy to navigate. With the billions of websites on the internet, users have plenty of choices when it comes to online shopping, entertainment, or anything else they are looking for. If they don’t like something about your website, they can easily find an alternative with only a few clicks of the mouse.

Here are a few tips on what you should avoid on your website, so your visitors don’t look elsewhere: […]

Mar 30, 2010

Web Safe Fonts

Not every font that is installed on your computer can be used on your website, because not everyone that views your website has the same fonts installed on their computer as you. In an effort to keep websites looking similar between different browsers and operating systems, web designers can choose from certain fonts that are “web safe” and reliable. […]

Feb 2, 2010

What is Whitespace?

Whitespace—or, negative space—is the open space between elements in a design. The space can be a color other than white, as long as the area is void of elements.

whitespace

It’s common for whitespace to be seen as “wasted space,” especially when you are working with a limited area. After all, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of every inch of space in your advertisement / brochure / website?

You may be surprised to know that the space that is empty is just as influential as the space that is filled with text and photos.

Using Whitespace to Your Advantage

When there are too many elements in a design—whether those elements are photos, fonts, or headlines—it appears cluttered and crowded. Imagine a room filled with people that are talking at the same time. Would you know who to listen to first? How long would you stay?

Removing unnecessary elements in your materials not only de-clutters the design, but it also places more emphasis on the most important message.

One company that has learned this lesson is Apple. Their advertisements are famous for their simplicity and use of whitespace. Take a look at their homepage from October 2009:

apple-screenshot

Immediately, you are presented with three things: An interesting image that grabs your attention, a short explanation of their latest product, and their call to action, “Watch the iMac video.” They are using whitespace to direct their customers to the most important information within seconds, and to show them where to click next.

Now, Apple has the advantage of being a household name with millions of fans worldwide who are already familiar with their products. Most businesses will probably need to present a bit more information, in order to convince potential customers that their products or services are worth the price. However, the same concept still holds true — adding unnecessary information only distracts from the goal you have set; whether that goal is to click on a link, call your phone number, visit your website, or buy your latest product.

Why Simplicity is Important

Billboards are an example of one medium where a simple message is absolutely necessary. Drivers are — hopefully — concentrating on the road, and only glancing up at signs and billboards for just a few seconds. If you can’t condense your advertisement into 6 words or less, then the driver won’t have enough time to read your entire message.

Designing for websites is similar. The average user will decide whether to stay or leave your website within just a few seconds. That means you need to immediately grab their attention, reassure them that your website has the information that they are looking for, and convince them to stay on your website a little longer.

The only way you can accomplish all this is to decide on the most important information, make it the most prominent part of your marketing piece, and get rid of anything that is a distraction. By de-cluttering your designs, you are able to guide your potential customers to the information that you want them to read, and create truly effective promotional pieces.

Some Tips for Reducing Clutter

  • Use headlines and sub-headlines to break up large areas of text. This allows the reader to quickly scan the text to get a summary, and to skip to the section that interests them.
  • Use simple language. Make your text easy to read and understand, and avoid overly technical language that would be overwhelming and confusing. If your text looks like a lot of work to read, your readers will simply go elsewhere.
  • Create a focal point. If you have several images on a page, your viewers won’t know where to look first. Make one or two of your images more prominent, and place your call-to-action nearby.
  • Create Relationships. Group related items (like a photo, description, and link) together so they are seen as one element instead of three. You can do this by making the space between these elements smaller than the space that surrounds them.
  • Add Whitespace. Make sure there is enough space in your margins, between paragraphs, and around your elements so the overall design is clear and easy to understand.