Category Archives: Web Design

7 Crucial Pages for Your Music Site

Music siteA well-designed, professional website is very important for any serious musician. It gives you the opportunity of showcasing your product, interacting with fans, building a following and networking with others in the industry. Here are some of the pages which you need to incorporate in your site:

1. A shop page

This is an absolutely important page for every music website. The shop page is where your fans get an opportunity to purchase your music. You could either sell our music directly from your site or upload it on a third-party site like iTunes and link from your shop page. The advantage of selling directly from your site is that you end up making more from each sale. Besides selling music, you could also consider selling other things like tickets and merchandise.

2. A blog page

If your music career is dynamic, it would be advisable to have a blog page on your site. A blog is very useful when it comes to updating your fans about the latest development in your career and the industry in general. For instance, you could share your thoughts on trending topics, your reflections of the last gig, or updates about your upcoming album. You could also consider inviting your fans to contribute guest posts on different topics.

3. An About page

People who visit your website for the first time probably don’t know much about you. This is why it is very crucial to have an about page in your site. This is where you share your story with people and give the opportunity to know you at a deeper level. You could talk about your beginnings in music, your challenges, your highlights and your accomplishments so far. Don’t forget to provide links to other pages on your site where people can buy your music, watch your photos/videos or make bookings.

4. A contact page

As the name suggests, this is the page where you provide contact details to your fans and prospective customers. The first contact details you should have on this page are your social media profiles, especially Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Most of your fans will want to interact with you on those platforms. You should also have an email address or contact form for potential business partners who would want to communicate in a formal way. However, it would not be advisable to post your personal phone contacts on this page since people are likely to misuse it and waste your time.

5. A gallery page

As it has been said, a photo is worth a thousand words. Fans would want to see photos of your latest gig, your family, your recent vacation or the latest award ceremony you attended. A gallery page on your site will give you the opportunity of showcasing such pictures. If you are running a WordPress site, you will find numerous gallery plugins which you can download at no cost. Such plugins will enable you to showcase your photos in an organized manner.

Having these pages on your site will enhance your chances of success as a musician. Be sure to keep it simple and remember to constantly update your content.

How to Prototype Website Ideas Fast

rp_Ecommerce-marketing-300x168.jpgIt’s often said that creating a working prototype of something before you start building the intended result will save you a significant amount of time in the long run, as although this seems counter-productive (you’d expect yourself to save time if you missed out the prototyping element), you’ll come up against many less problems later on if you first encourage (and overcome) them in the prototyping stage.

Your depth of knowledge in this area, and the time you want to spend on it, will play large factors in the types of prototyping you decide to ultimately move towards. If you want to get your website online as soon as possible, using a free website builder is always a good idea, as you can build your prototype as you go, eventually publishing the finished result when you’re happy with it.

If you have more time, and indeed a greater knowledge of the process of website creation (you’ve created several in the past), you may wish to go the slightly longer route, slowly building up the idea in your head into a full, working prototype that can be used as an accurate model of what your final website design should look like.

When going through the website prototyping process you’ll want to work your way up, allowing yourself to make as many mistakes as possible in the beginning, as the sooner you make mistakes, the easier they are to fix. For this reason, it’s recommend that you:

Create Pencil Drawings

Drawing out prototype ideas in pen or pencil doesn’t get the credit it’s due; there’s nothing more versatile than a blank sheet of paper, as it allows you to really spill the contents of your brain onto it, without the usual constraints that come with advanced design or prototyping software.

Drawing your initial website prototype in pencil allows you to:

  • Get the main points of your website down,
  • Not be constrained by digital barriers,
  • Not overly commit to one single idea; giving everything a chance to shine,
  • Start over (roll the paper into a ball) anytime.

Build Digital Mockups (Wire-framing)

Once you’ve drawn an initial website design that you’re happy with you should move onto building digital mockups of your design (also called wire-framing) to make sure everything you’ve drawn out can fit into defined spaces.

There are certain guidelines that all website designers much follow, and this is the perfect time to figure out who your website is aimed towards so you can start following these guidelines. Building websites with elderly users in mind, for example, is an entirely different process to building websites with teenagers and twenty-somethings in mind.

Create an Interactive Prototype

Lastly you’ll want to create an interactive prototype using a prototyping framework, such as Bootstrap, to build a prototype that can be reviewed and played around within your browser. This is the most important step of all, because at this point your website prototype is being created on the same code basis that it’ll eventually be released on.

If you have a delicate design that can be shifted around depending on the words or images that are placed into it this is the perfect opportunely for you to add your website copy and any relevant images; as these may reveal some failings in your prototype that you’ll have to address before launching your final website.

In conclusion, building a working prototype of your website before you start building the finished product will save you a significant amount of time in the long run, as it’ll allow you to fail often in the early stages of your prototype, saving you time later on.

Tips for Improving Website User Experience

ecommerce nicheYour website is much more than just a platform to advertise your services or products. In fact, for many customers, it’s the primary point of contact between themselves and your business, outside of your actual physical, bricks-and-mortar shop or service centre.

It is therefore vital that your customers have a pleasant user experience both at their initial point of contact, as well as during their return visits. To ensure that your customer’s experience remains positive, it is always worth regularly testing your site to check for areas that could be improved upon or possibly even redesigned.

If you aren’t sure which areas of your website could be improved to offer a better user experience, here are a few ideas that could help to get you started.

1.  Loading Speed

For many people, your website loading time is a very important factor. According to the dedicated analytics service KISSmetrics, 40% of users leave a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. This, of course, is a very important factor, and one that is certainly worth looking into.

2. Reliability

Your website is only as reliable as your hosting service. If you use a budget hosting service, there is every chance that the reliability of the provider may occasionally come into question. There are lots of hosting providers that offer good reliable services. You can check customer’s reviews to find one that that is suitable for your requirements.

3. Correct Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

To make sure that your message is clear to all of your customers, it is important that your spelling and grammar is correct. Poor grammar and spelling mistakes can lead to misunderstandings, as well as not being conducive to good SEO results.

4.  General Usability 

Usability and easy navigation are key to good user experience. Clear uncluttered pages with easy to use main bar menus can improve the entire user experience. Easy to find home page or back buttons are also important to visitors to your site. Keep it simple and clear for better around functionality.

5. Pop Ups and Overlays

For most off us, pop ups and overlays are annoyances if not even full blown distractions. They do not improve the overall user experience and are best avoided.

6. Images

Good quality images can improve your customer’s user experience. A well-chosen image can compliment copy very well, improving the overall feel of the page. You can find some great royalty free images on Flickr to boost your presentation value.

7. Copy

Good, clear copy can make all of the difference. Keep your copy simple, easy to read, and above all else, to the point. Customers do not want to read long paragraphs to get the information they are after. If your copy appears slightly long-winded, edit it down to a more punchy and concise message.

8. Responsive Designs

More and more people are using their phones or hand held devices to access the Internet. For these people to get the best out of their experience, a website needs to offer them a responsive design. Responsive design offers automatic resizing, which makes both navigation and reading that much easier. If you don’t have responsive design, it would be worth contacting your website designer to find out more.

9.  De-Clutter Your Website

Over time, a website can get cluttered with images, redundant buttons and even banner ads or video. Take a long look at your site and figure out what you can remove to leave a cleaner and more organized platform. The more streamlined the site, the faster it will load and the more user-friendly it will become. At the end of the day, your customers just require an easy to use platform that is uncluttered, simple to navigate, and reliable.

Emma Meyer is writing on a freelance basis for WickedWeb Digital Agency, a company with 10 years of experience in the digital marketing industry.

Mobile Web Design – What to Look Out For

mobile web designIn this day and age, more and more people are using smartphones and tablets to access websites. However, some sites which look great on a computer monitor don’t look very attractive when viewed from a mobile device. It is therefore very important for every website to be optimized for mobile devices. Regardless of the device being used, visitors should be able to enjoy a pleasant user experience on your business site. If your design is not mobile friendly, visitors are likely to get frustrated and click away.

When it comes to mobile site design, there are many factors that need to be considered. You need to take into account technical issues such as screen size and the operating system being used, as well as issues related to user interaction. Here are some of the things to look out for when designing your mobile website.

1. Functionality

When designing your mobile site, your focus should be on functionality rather than aesthetics. An attractive site which does not work well is ultimately useless. Mobile device users should find it easy to access and navigate around your site. Your buttons and other clickable objects should be large enough to allow visitors to click, scroll and type on your pages. Use color or framing to make your buttons and links stand out from the rest of the content. This will make it easy for users to identify them. Once you have ensured that everything works well, you can then focus on improving the aesthetics of your site.

2. Use content in moderation

People use mobile devices such as full-size tablets, mini-tablets and smartphones to access the internet. You need to take this into consideration when adding content to your site. Don’t make the mistake of stuffing your pages with content. This will only make your site appear cluttered and confuse visitors. Instead, content should be added in moderation while leaving a lot of white space on your pages. This will keep your pages clean, thus making it easier for your visitors to read the text.

3. Keep track of website analytics

Once your mobile site is up and running, you need to regularly monitor how people are interacting with it. Some of the analytics you need to keep track of include unique daily visitors, most visited pages, average time spent on site and bounce rate. These statistics will give you an idea of how you can improve your site. For instance, if the number of unique daily visitors is low, you could think of new strategies for promoting the site.

4. Don’t use pop-ups

Pop-ups are some of the most annoying elements in web design. This is especially the case when it comes to mobile design. Pop-ups are likely to cover a good portion of the screen, thus obstructing visitors from the important content on your site. As a result, visitors might get frustrated and exit from your site. Therefore, it would be a good idea to leave pop-ups out of your design.

5. Avoid unnecessary user interaction

Most people use mobile devices on the go and therefore don’t have much time. When they visit your site, they would want to find what they are looking for quickly and leave. Therefore, don’t bother them with unnecessary interactions such as ‘click here to sign up’. Such interruptions will only annoy your visitors and drive them away.

6. Avoid unsupported technologies

Many mobile devices don’t support technologies such as Javascript and Flash. Therefore, it wouldn’t be advisable to incorporate them in your mobile site design.  Instead, stick to the more familiar technologies which will enable anyone to access your site, regardless of the mobile device being used.

Tips for Dealing with Difficult Web Design Clients

Dealing with difficult clientsAlmost every web designer has dealt with stubborn and overbearing clients who keep making unreasonable demands. Handling such clients is usually a very frustrating and tricky experience. You could choose to give them a piece of your mind and end up losing their business. Alternatively, you could adopt a more diplomatic approach and maintain the relationship. Here are some tips which will help you deal with these difficult clients successfully.

1. Educate your customers tactfully

Since you have the technical expertise, you need to educate your customers on what would work for their best interests. To further emphasize your point, you could show them actual mockups of different sites. The important thing is to argue your case as tactfully as possible. This will enable the customer to see the sense in what you are saying without getting offended. However, despite all your efforts, there are some customers who will still remain stubborn. In such cases, you need to humbly surrender to your their wishes, however unreasonable they might be. Make the best of the situation, even though you know the project could have been done in a better way. Ultimately, it’s the customer who will have to deal with the consequences of their poor choices.

2. Keep your clients updated

As you do through the design process, it is very important to keep your clients updated on the progress. Failing to offer such updates might cause your customers to develop feelings of uncertainty and lack of control. You need to provide a functional phone number and email address which they can use to contact you. Knowing that they can reach you and make inquiries will give them a sense of assurance. Make sure you respond promptly whenever someone gets in touch with you. Whenever customers feel ignored, they are likely to get agitated.

3. Be patient

It is not the easiest thing to be patient especially when dealing with a particularly annoying customer. However, as a professional, you need to handle the situation in an objective way. Realize that the client might be acting out of sheer stubbornness or ignorance. Therefore, don’t take their complaints or criticism in a personal way.  Trying to prove to them that they are wrong will only make the bad situation worse. Customers who are offended might decide to revenge by spreading bad publicity about your business on the internet. The general principle to apply here is that the customer is always right. However, this does not mean that you have to do everything they demand at the expense of your reputation. Explain to them in a calm way the negative repercussions of doing things their way, and offer a better alternative. Handling the matter professionally might help you retain the client, as well as protect your reputation.

Frustrated Photo via Shutterstock