Category Archives: Web Design

Guidelines for Selecting a Website Builder

Website BuilderA website builder is a tool that makes it easy to create a website, even without any technical knowledge. The best thing about website builders is that they offer a wide variety of pre-designed templates, thus saving you the trouble of building a site from scratch. All you need to do is choose a template from the library, and then customize it to make it unique.

However, with the hundreds of website builders out there, choosing the right website builder to suit your needs can be a very frustrating process. Here are some guidelines which will help you make the right choice.

1. Technical ability

Make sure you select a site builder which matches your ability. If you have little or no technical ability, it would be advisable to go for a simple website builder. Being overconfident about your skills is likely to lead to frustration as well as a poorly designed site. However, if you have a significant level of technical knowledge, you should go for a builder which allows you the freedom to create your own unique design.

2. Budget

The prices of website builders vary according to your needs. Before choosing any website builder, you should to first decide how much you are willing to spend. Even if you don’t have a budget, you will find many site builders which offer a free package option. In case you are new to website building, it would be advisable to start out with free packages to get some experience and determine which site builder suits you best. However, if you require a site which can handle lots of data and traffic, you should opt for a paid package which offers more benefits.

3. Site needs

You need to figure out the kind of features your site requires and then look for a package which meets your needs. For instance, a visually-oriented site will need video or photo display technologies, while an e-commerce site will require a shopping cart. If you use a blog as part of your marketing strategy, you need find a website builder which allows smooth integration with the blog. In addition, you need to ensure that your site connects seamlessly with your social media profiles.

4. Usability

When it comes to choosing a website builder, usability is very vital. A good builder should make it as easy as possible to design your site. Therefore, take time to test it before signing up. It would be advisable to try out the free package first before going for the paid package. Some sites even offer a money-back guarantee if you are not happy with their product. One of the best ways of testing a site builder is attempting to create a site using one of their templates. If this proves to be a frustrating exercise, then you might need to look for another builder.

5. Support

Good support is a very crucial element for any website builder. Therefore, before choosing any builder, check out their support page and find out what kind of support is offered. You can test the quality of support by contacting them with an imaginary problem. How fast is their response time? How comprehensive are their solutions? Select a website builder which deals with problems in a timely and complete manner.

Tips for Designing an Effective Call to Action

Call to actionIn an attempt to increase conversions on their sites, many companies and businesses invest a lot of money and time in attracting traffic to their sites. Some of the most popular strategies used to generate traffic include search engine marketing, pay-per-click marketing and search engine optimization. However, in many cases, the problem is not low traffic, but a poorly designed call to action. If the call to action is not well-designed, then increased traffic will be of no use.

The following are some of the things you need to consider when designing your call to action.

1. Size

Visitors will judge the importance of elements of your page on the basis of their size. Therefore, make sure your call to action is of a considerable size compared to the rest of the content on your page. This will make it become more recognizable. However, avoid the temptation of making the call to action too large since visitors might not realize that it is clickable. If you have several calls to action, it would be advisable to size them based on importance. Make sure the primary call of action is the largest of them all.

2. Shape

The calls to action which usually effective are those shaped like buttons. Therefore, it would be advisable use calls to action with rounded corners which make it appear like a button. Avoid having square corners on your calls to action since some people might mistake them for banners or ads. Besides shaping your call to action, you could also consider using a distinctive font to make your call to action stand out from the rest of the page. However, make sure the font selected compliments the other fonts on your page.

3. Color

Color is very important for attracting attention to your call to action. Using a vibrant, contrasting color will make your call to action stand out from the rest of the elements on your page. For instance, if the main colors used on your site are black and blue, make sure your call to action is of a different color. You could consider using a contrasting color like yellow which will stand out from the black and the blue. However, make sure the colors selected compliment the overall color scheme of the site. Using random colors will only make your site appear unprofessional.

4. Position

Proper positioning of a call to action is very vital. The color, size or shape of your call to action will be of no use unless visitors can see it. Therefore, you need to make sure that your call to action appears in a prominent position above the fold. This will enable visitors to find it without having to scroll down. To emphasize its importance in relation to other elements on the page, remember to leave plenty of white space around the call to action.

Tips for Promoting a Web Design Business

web designPromoting any business calls for a significant investment of effort and time, especially when getting started. In particular, promoting a web design business can be a very daunting experience, filled with many challenges. However, proper promotion will ensure a steady supply of clients, as well as boost the reputation of your business.

The following are some of ideas that you can use to promote your web design business.

1. Be prepared

Before doing anything else, you need to be prepared. You cannot begin promoting a business before you have made proper preparations. The first step is self-preparation, which includes honing your web design skills. In addition, you need to work on your branding, as well as have a strategy for growing your business. These preparations will help you start off on the right footing.

2. Identify your target

Having a specific target market will help you promote your business more effectively. For instance, if you are targeting educational institutions, you need to have several sample website designs which would be suitable for your audience. Carry out some research to find out what your clients need. This will enhance your chances of winning a contract.

3. Print many business cards    

To promote your business effectively, you need to print a good number of business cards. Carry them with you always since anyone you meet could be a potential customer. In addition, you could ask your friends or associates to give the card to other people who may require your services.

4. Start an email newsletter

An email newsletter can be a very powerful way of promoting your web design business. Get as many people as possible to join your mailing list. The newsletter will keep them updated on any special promotions you are running. In addition, you can share web-related tips and tricks, as well as the latest developments in the industry which your subscribers would find interesting.

5. Focus on the client

When you get in touch with clients concerning potential projects, you need to client-focused. Always place their needs first. Ask questions and clarify what exactly they require from you. Being client-focused will ensure the success of your projects.

6. Get active in social media

To get more exposure for your web design business, you need to have a strong social media presence. Social media offers you the opportunity to show off your work, as well as interact with your customers. You can share useful and interesting information with your audience. Take time to open accounts with the main social networks including Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

7. Keep your site updated

As a web designer, it is important to have a professional site or blog which is regularly updated. This will enable you to win the trust of potential customers. For instance, you could decide to post every Wednesday and Friday. This way, your audience will have an idea of when to expect new articles.

8. Be persistent

As you promote your web design business, you need to remain persistent even when faced with opposition and hardship. When making a presentation to a client, don’t give up when things get difficult. Keep going until you win the contract. Explain clearly what benefits you can offer the client.

How to Design Sites for Target Audiences

web designWhen designing a site, you need to consider who your target audience is. This will enable you to come up with a design which is best suited to their needs, and thus enhance your chances of success. The following are some of the major areas you need to consider when designing a website for a targeted audience.

1. Layout

You need to ensure that the layout of different elements in your site is appropriate for the kind of audience you want to reach. For instance, a basic layout which has very few links would suit an older audience which has little technical knowledge, while a more youthful audience would prefer a dynamic site with more features. In addition, you need to ensure that the fonts used suit your target audience as well as your brand. For example, if your brand targets senior adults, a basic font in a large point size would be ideal. However, if your target is teens, you could go for a more artsy and fun font.

2. Navigation

Your site’s layout and navigation are closely related. An older audience which has limited technical knowledge would be comfortable with a basic top navigation bar. However, a youthful audience would not mind having several navigation menus, footers and sidebars which give them a chance to find more specific information from the site.

3. Color

When designing your site, use colors which are suitable for your target audience. For instance, while an older audience is likely to have problems reading white text on a black background, young people might find it stylish. Though a site which is targeting artists could use a vibrant color scheme, this might not be appropriate for a site targeting lawyers.

4. Features

Your target audience will also influence the kind of features you can have on your site. Research has proved that younger people prefer video or audio content over written text. In addition, they would like to find links to social media profiles such as Facebook or Twitter which will enable them to share interesting content with their friends.

However, you need to ensure that the additional features on your site don’t interfere with your user experience. Though features like fly-over ads or pop-up windows might not be a problem for web-savvy users, people who have little technical knowledge might get offended by these features. Finally, you need to use feature which allow your audience to access the site from their computers, as well as their mobile devices.

5. Content

Your site’s level of success will be determined by the extent to which your content resonates with your target audience. When people visit your site, they need to find solutions to their problems in the content published, as well as your marketing message. If your content does not match your target audience, they will end up leaving your site and finding others that are more relevant to their needs.

How to Make Your Blog Suitable for Mobile Browsers

smart phoneEach month, more and more people are using their smartphones and tablets to go online. Many websites, including Facebook, already derive the majority of their traffic from phones. While desktop computing is unlikely to disappear any time soon, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure that your blog works correctly on smaller devices such as phones.

In the past, many websites decided to cater to mobile users by creating a mobile version of their website, with streamlined content that allowed it to load quicker on old data connections. With the arrival of 3G/4G and larger touchscreen phones, users have typically shunned these mobile versions on their phones in favor of the normal desktop version.

Mobile and desktop users behave differently when they go online. People on a desktop PC are more likely to stay on a website and aimlessly browse, while users on smartphones are more likely to be looking for some specific information or service. But aside from these behavioral differences, there are a number of other key factors to bear in mind.

The first of these is that the majority of smartphones today are touchscreen devices. The way in which users interact with these devices is drastically different to how they interact with desktop computers. Smartphones owners do not have a keyboard and mouse: their finger is their only means of interacting with your website.

The following are some things you need to consider to make your blog suitable for mobile browsers.

1. Visual Effects

If your website relies on navigational menus that involve hover-over effects, these will not only be displayed incorrectly on a touchscreen device, but users will not be able to navigate easily around your website either. If you have something valuable to offer them elsewhere on your site, these visitors may never find it.

Most tablets are only marginally smaller than the majority of desktop computer screens, but smartphones are significantly smaller. They can range anywhere from 2 inches to 5 inches, at which point the line between smartphone and tablet becomes blurry.

2. Small Buttons & Fonts

While your website may look just as you want it to on your computer, many design elements may be less visually appealing or usable on a smaller touchscreen phone. For example, using small buttons can make it very difficult for people visiting from a phone to navigate around your website.

Likewise, small text will not be readable on a smaller screen. Users can easily zoom in with pinch to zoom gestures, but zooming in typically requires them to scroll around a page to read its entire contents. Using a larger font can alleviate some of these problems for smartphone visitors.

Adverts on your blog’s sidebar may be completely overlooked if mobile visitors have zoomed in to read text. Including text adverts within your blog posts may be a more effective way of utilizing adverts on your blog than visual adverts contained within the sidebar.

3. Images

Following on from this, desktop users may be drawn to a piece of text that captures their attention and encourages them to read. But if this text is too small for smartphone visitors it is never going to attract their attention. Instead, users may be more captivated by visual cues such as post images.

It is always a good idea to include high quality images on your website as it is a much more user friendly experience than a text-only website. But including images is not enough. Images should be large and colourful and interesting enough to draw people into your content.

4. Adobe Flash

Apple’s iPhone has famously never supported Adobe Flash due to the late Steve Jobs’ dislike of the platform (or his inability to buy it, depending on how cynical you are) but now newer versions of Google Android will not come with Flash support either. In fact, Flash is in such dire straits that even Adobe can’t be bothered supporting it for smartphones anymore.

While you may think that using Flash on a website can allow you to add some nice visual effects, these will be completely absent for any visitor coming from a smartphone.

If some of your website’s core functionality is contained within Flash menus your website will be completely unusable for the majority of smartphone visitors.

Conclusion

Most websites are still designed with desktop users in mind, while smartphones are generally not given much consideration. This is a big mistake given that an increasing percentage of internet traffic is coming from phones and that smartphone users are more likely to be looking for something they wish to spend money on, compared to desktop users who may simply be taking a leisurely browse around the web. To put your blog or website to full effect, you should give some consideration to visitors coming from smaller devices such as smartphones.

 

This is a guest post by Simon from Best Mobile Contracts, the UK’s favourite mobile phone comparison website.