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Design Trends

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Author: Ashley

Throughout February, we’ve told you how and why it’s important to be found online, how to keep your website current, and how to figure out when it’s time to redesign. Here are some of the most popular web design trends we’re seeing lately.

With so many mobile devices being used to browse the web, it’s important to make sure sites are user friendly and functional. It is becoming more and more important to focus on how a site works on mobile devices. Responsive design streamlines the process of designing a website for both desktop and mobile, ensuring that the website content looks consistent and works seamlessly for all device sizes.

Flat design is about keeping it simple, clean, and modern. The emphasis is on bold lines, creative typography, and saturated colors. This design technique offers a cleaner look for content. Flat design can enhance a website’s responsive design and allow pages to load faster.

As we mentioned in our previous article about Web Fonts, we now have access to high-quality fonts at affordable prices. Websites now are able to show off their personalities through the use of fonts.

There is just something about watching a video that text can’t duplicate. Videos are becoming easier to produce and easier to share not only on your website, but on social media as well. Because of video apps like Vine, videos are becoming shorter and more people are watching and sharing them.

Large photo backgrounds or hero images are starting to take the place of sliders. But not just any ordinary photo. You’ll see more original photography, images with color overlays, blurred images, and images that resemble Instagram photos.

Scrolling through a website is faster and easier than having to click through a bunch of links. It’s especially convenient for mobile and tablet devices where swiping is key. Many times you will see layout changes as you scroll. Sites are organizing their content better than they used to, making it easier to read and navigate via scrolling.

Make it quick.

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Author: Scott K

I have heard that a website has as little as 50 milliseconds to capture the interest of potential customers. Most dating information says that in a face-to-face encounter you have less than 2 minutes to make a good first impression.

So, after reading the first line I may have lost the majority of people reading this. For those still reading this information, it is important to your company website. For businesses it means your website better deliver what your customers are looking for. And do it fast! Some customers who come to your site are looking for information and may spend more time, however, the look, design and content still have to grab on to your audience and hold their hands away from clicking the mouse.

A strong brand identity and quick powerful messaging will also help. It’s about what you say and how you say it. Make a strong connection on an emotional and personal level.

Well, I’m over my 50 milliseconds and maybe over two minutes too.

Briefly, make a powerful connection.

The Importance of Online Review

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Author: Kelsey

Every business owner knows that having a well rounded online presence is important. With 85% of consumers going online to find local businesses, reviews posted on local review websites such as Yelp, Yahoo!, Google+, or Angie’s List can be the deciding factor whether or not a potential customer decides to choose your business over a competitors. Local review websites are not a new concept. With people actually preferring consumer reviews over editorial reviews, there are many opportunities for word of mouth to work to your advantage.

Chances are, if a customer is reading reviews, they have already identified a particular item or service they are in need of. There are not many steps between reading reviews and making a purchase, so it is crucial for businesses to have a positive online reputation to transform the people reading the reviews into customers.

Studies show that consumers trust online reviews almost as much as personal recommendations. While reading about someone else’s experience in a restaurant, office, hotel, etc. the consumer feels comfortable with their decision to either choose your business or not, based on the review. Many see online reviews as opportunities to educate oneself before making an important decision; we trust others’ opinions when we are indecisive. All of this shared information also appears to have a positive effect on search engine rankings. With that being said, the more positive reviews you have, the higher you will appear in the search results. Rankings, along with raving reviews, create a positive impact on potential customers.

Consumers form opinions quickly, typically reading six reviews or less. This means that business owners need to carefully manage their online reputations. Responding to feedback, whether negative or positive, can make quite a bit of difference. Interacting with a negative review might not completely fix the issue, but it shows that you are willing to help resolve problems and that you genuinely care about your customers.

From Tables to Responsive Layouts

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Having worked in the web design industry for over 17 years, I have seen many ways to build websites from the front-end developer’s perspective. When I first started back in 1997, we used “tables” to position elements on web pages, even though tables were really meant to display simple data in a table format. The code for tables is very bulky, and based on today’s SEO standards, tables are not a good choice compared to a CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) layout.

However, the practice of using tables was ideal at the time. It worked with most browsers, and everything was more or less pixel-perfect. One downside, though, was a lot of images were used for spacing, resulting in your page actually having many tiny transparent images. You wouldn’t see these with your eye, but in the back end you would see them all over. This was bad due to the number of http requests needed to load all of those images, which slowed up load times.

As time went on, new tricks had to be invented to improve a large range of problems and poor practices in table design. One of the biggest cons for table layouts was making general changes site-wide. CSS was available but was mostly used for fonts, and to make matters worse, the majority of browsers didn’t support CSS, which could basically break your website.

A committee called the W3C was formed in 1994 to change the direction of web development for the better. Protocols set by this committee have allowed browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome to use CSS effectively, and when updates or new versions of browsers are released, they also abide by the W3C protocols.

With the use of mobile and tablet devices skyrocketing and mobile devices surpassing desktop browsers for Internet surfing, front-end developers must now create websites to work in all browsers, platforms (like Windows/MAC), and now mobile/tablet devices. It is a difficult task, but with the ability to use CSS in creating pages, a new technique has come into play called responsive design.

Responsive design allows us to create a website that will display nicely and give you a great website viewing experience on all devices. This has the major advantage of requiring us to maintain only the main files instead of creating a completely different website just for mobile devices. Depending on the site, there are times where you may want to do a separate site just for mobile, but overall, responsive design has taken off. In my opinion, the comfort of knowing your website will look good on everything from a huge flat screen monitor down to an iPhone makes responsive design the best way to go.

Today, tables are still used to display data, but they are used in e-mail newsletters as well. We are hoping in time that will change, but for now, most of the big e-mail companies like Gmail have a lot of strict rules which force us to use tables.

It is amazing to see where we have come from 1997 to today. Who knows what the next big thing will be? But back when tables were heavily used for constructing websites, we couldn’t do a tiny fraction of what we can do now with CSS.

Signs It’s Time to Redesign

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As we mentioned in our previous article, The Importance of Being Found Online, having an online presence is important and is one of the first places potential customers will look for you. But is your website up-to-date? Having outdated features and content on your website could be driving potential clients and customers away. Here are some signs that it’s time to redesign or make some updates.

There is nothing more frustrating than visiting a website and not being able to find what you’re looking for, whether that means your contact information or the products you are offering. Make sure your visitors are having a good user experience. Some of these questions might help you decide if you need to redesign or update.

– Can your visitors find the most basic information?

– Is your site navigation confusing?

– Is your important content hidden?

– Are your products and services up-to-date?

– Are there functions and features that don’t work or are outdated?

Responsive websites have become a standard in web design. It’s about good usability, and it ensures that your customers will experience your site as you intended, regardless of the device they use to view it. Responsive design makes it easy to manage one site instead of separate sites for desktop and mobile.

A good rule to follow is to redesign your website every 2-3 years. Between doing a full site redesign, be sure to do periodic updates to keep your site current. You want to keep the style of your site current as well as keeping up with developments that make your site more user-friendly.

Just because you have a website doesn’t mean people are finding you when they search for you. If you aren’t popping up in search results, your website isn’t doing you any favors. You need to be found, before your competition.

Flash websites take a long time to load, and if your website takes too long to load or runs too slowly, your visitors will most likely leave. Search engines also have a hard time indexing Flash web pages properly, which isn’t good for your SEO. People are searching the web with all sorts of devices, and most mobile web browsers have no Flash support and therefore can’t display Flash-based websites.

Social media is a great way to stay connected and promote your business. Let your visitors know you have a social media presence by including the links on your website. This makes it easy for your customers to find you and engage with you.

Keep your website updated and keep your visitors coming back! We’re here to help whether it’s time for a redesign or just a few updates.

The Importance of Being Found Online

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Devices and computers are connected to hundreds of services that are making the world much smaller and more local. Almost everyone has searched online for a business. Perhaps it was to look up the store’s hours, what is on the menu, if they are open on holidays, or to simply find the location. Smartphones allow consumers to quickly find local businesses and decide whether or not those businesses are the correct choice for them. Of course, all of this depends on one key factor: whether or not you can actually be found online! Incorrect, out of date, inconsistent, or missing listings all can result in lost opportunities. It is not enough to rely on word-of-mouth or traditional marketing techniques to bring in new local customers, you must be able to be found online!

Have you pulled up your local listings online lately? (Here is a free scan tool to find out). Does the information contain the correct name, address, and phone number? What about extended information such as your hours, services offered, and bios of your team? Remember, being an industry “best kept secret” does not offer any type of financial advantage.

So where to begin? Updating your listings online can definitely be a hassle. Luckily, we can help eliminate the headache of manually updating each listing. Wisnet now offers a local search and listings management solution. We have put together a package that includes local content management, review monitoring, and guaranteed presence on more than 50 of the most popular local search engines, local directories, and mobile applications.

Some of these sites include:

  • Bing
  • Facebook
  • Mapquest
  • Yahoo
  • metroPCS
  • Yelp
  • Foursquare
  • ChamberofCommerce.com
  • USCity
  • YellowPageCity.com
  • WhitePages

In addition to updating your name, address, and phone number, we can also update rich content such as staff bios, event calendars, and products & services. This additional information captures customers and provides them with an engaging experience.

Finally, more is better when it comes to the legitimate sites you have linking back to your company. Including your company in online directories not only improves your search engine rankings, it also ensures that potential customers are able to find you–physically and digitally. Do not lose customers to frustration or impatience over having to track you down. Instead, make it easy to find your business and even easier to buy your products or enlist your services.

See your level of visibility in just a few moments. Click here for a free scan!

Your website is your brand. Wow, is that a revolutionary statement!

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You have a business, which means you have to have a website. And of course you have to have a name on your company business cards, and a logo, too. No brainers. But too often a company’s website is just as much a cookie-cutter as a business card. Your website logo is just your company’s name in Arial… because that was the font at the top of the font list. The content is a long monologue from your brochure that is as exciting as reading the phonebook. You picked a template from some site on the web and had your fifteen year old nephew put it together for you. And you are DONE!

Sadly, your business website is now just like every other website.

But if you think about your website as being your company’s identity and personality, and the primary way you can separate your business from everyone else, your website needs to be more than a template. It needs to be your brand.

At wisnet.com, we work with you to discover your brand. It’s more than Arial and your picture. We will ask you questions and talk about “who you are” and how you satisfy what the “market wants.” We narrow your brand down to five words that differentiate you from every other business. We bring all that to life on your website and show you how your brand can live beyond the Internet.

We make your website work for you, and we can also make it easy for you to talk to your customers through your site on a one-to-one basis. Give us a call at (920) 322-9522 or visit wisnet.com. But don’t forget to thank your nephew for offering to help.