Understanding the Web Design Process

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By now, you understand how much we value web design. We believe that a creative, engaging, and functional website is essential to building your business. Because of this, we’re web design enthusiasts.

A successful website is one that represents your brand and addresses your audience’s needs with artistic precision. This might seem like a daunting task. However, we’ve broken this goal down into an achievable three-part process.Web Design Process

Phase 1: Discovery

In this phase, we ask our clients questions about their business, their audience, and their goals. Some of the questions are meant for us. These questions help us understand what the business is all about.

However, we’re not just web designers. We’re marketers, too. As a result, some of the questions also prompt our clients to think carefully about their branding objectives.

Phase 2: Scope

At this point, we understand our client’s business objectives, and we have ideas on how to implement them. Now, it’s time to start planning.

Phase Two is all about the details of the project. We work with the client to understand their needs in terms of web development, design, and scheduling. After this, we devise a plan for when we will meet milestones and deadlines.

In this phase, we discuss when and how we will brand and source your site.

Phase 3: Implementation

Now it’s time to carry out the goals established in Phase Two. In Phase Three, we focus on production and perfection.

To do this well, we have even more steps:

  1. Find inspiration. We work with our client to look at other websites, competitors, and like-minded business owners and evaluate their sites.
  2. Create a mini brand kit. This kit includes colors, logos, web fonts, shapes, and images to use in the design.
  3. Source visuals, including photos, graphics, and videos. Our client works with us in this step. Having a visually appealing website is important in any industry, and you want yours to stand out. Because of this, sourcing quality images should be a priority.
  4. Draw wireframes. Our designers draw wireframes, or simplified outlines, of the homepage and one child page (a page that is subordinate to the homepage).
  5. Design a live mockup. The mockup of the homepage is hosted on a staging platform. In the past, we provided our clients with two to three photoshop mockup versions prior to this step. However, we’ve found that the live mockup is more efficient, interactive, and economical. Because we do this, our clients must communicate their needs throughout every step. When communication is clear, clients trust the designer to create a site that matches their needs.
  6. Finish the site. After the client approves the mockup and any modifications, we finish the site’s main pages. Websites with more than 15-20 pages are designed in cycles.

At Your Imprint, we never stop having fun. Web design is one of the best parts of our job. If you need help, get a quote. We’ll help you put on a show! 

10 Important Marketing Trends to Consider

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Have you noticed that there are hundreds of blogs, social pages, templates, strategies, and advice about marketing trends all over the Internet?  Much of the information is full of everything you could imagine, complete with mind-twisting jargon and eye-twitching strategies.  It’s hard to know where to start and what to pay attention to.

There’s no denying that we’ve transitioned into a consumer-driven economy, with demands for connection, transparency, and quality stronger than ever.  It wasn’t like this in the past.  Nobody ever asked us for reviews or feedback about products.  There were no rewards programs, referral gifts, and discounts (except on special holidays).  Now, marketing trends tell us that’s exactly what drives a business.

Buyers demand more from their brands, and there’s so much competition out there that if you don’t meet those demands, you’ll be eating the dust from the heels of your competitors.

A Bit of Marketing History

Before we get to the marketing trends, let’s review the definition of the term.  The American Marketing Association defines marketing as, “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Marketing includes branding (identity, awareness, and loyalty), communications, public relations, and event coordination.  As you can imagine, there are thousands of ways to market a business.  With the advent of higher technologies, marketing trends got harder to keep up with.

Long gone are the days where you could force your brand into the minds of your consumers through one of the major marketing channels:

  1. Print (est. 1839)
  2. Billboards (est. 1867)
  3. Radio (est., 1922)
  4. TV (est. 1941)
  5. Telemarketing (est. 1950s)

That’s not to say there weren’t any channels before 1839.  In fact, research shows several examples of marketing in history:

  1. Market towns sprang up in the Middle Ages (5th-15th century, but especially in the 12th), where people carted and sold their wares and produce. Some historians believe this was the origin of the term, “marketing.”
  2. In the 1390’s, Jakob Fugger was a German merchant who traveled the nation to gather information and report on the international textile industry trade.
  3. Branding and marketing are in antiquity as well. A fish sauce manufacturer from Pompeii in 35 B.C. designed a logo and plastered it around the city and his home, where he entertained national and international guests. His sauce was the most popular item in the Mediterranean and reached as far as France.

Here’s another interesting bit of history:  The first telegraph ad was for hardware in 1864.  This was the first recorded use of Spam to describe unsolicited advertisements.

In today’s age, you have more than 100 marketing channels and a distracted audience, and that means you’ll need to include a mix of traditional and digital efforts.

To do this, you’ll want to stay on top of the marketing trends that are popping up with blinding regularity.  Here are 10 marketing trends that we gathered through combing blogs, reading historical and modern marketing books, and taking part in discussions with industry leaders.

#1:  Mobile is dominant

Intelligent devices – wearables, tablets, smartphones, glasses, and others – have and will continue to shape the world, especially marketing, where consumers demand a more personalized relationship with brands.

#2:  Content is currency

Educational and entertaining content is the key to online engagement.  Writing your own copy is one thing (and not recommended), but designing and writing a promotional video or advertisement for Spotify is another.  Creating a good user experience is also a part of content, and don’t get us started on virtual reality and HoloLens mixed reality technology.  Content is everything from messaging to web design to market research and social presence.

#3:  Social networks have an ecosystem that rival the entire Internet

We thought the Internet was big, but none of us expected the colossal power of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Snapchat.  They are quickly turning into the channel for marketing.

#4:  Transparency is at the base of all consumer needs

Customers want to be engaged, entertained, and delighted, but they refuse to sacrifice quality and customer service. If you have a poor product, murky communications, or shoddy services, you won’t last long in this era.  Businesses who’ve chosen to stay with traditional methods of communications are failing because they refuse to embrace transparency. You read about these companies in the news every few months. Further, companies that take responsibility for their mistakes (“flawsome” folks) are rewarded with loyal advocates.

#5:  Big brands are adapting to customer-led marketing

A solid brand and culture connects you to your audience in an emotional way, allowing you to collaborate with them, rather than just sell to them.  Customers feel appreciated and rewarded when a company listens to their needs and responds appropriately.  Reviews and satisfaction ratings dominate marketing, so having them help you develop a worthy product/service will lead to successful growth.

#6:  Brands focus heavily on GenZ

These post-millennial folks are going to be much more demanding than the generations before them.  They’ll demand your story.  Why are you in business? And if it’s solely for profit or obviously fake, they will turn on you in a heartbeat.  It’s time to be real.

#7:  User-generated content is a powerful tool

User-generated content (UC) – reviews, testimonials, and social sharing – has surpassed branded content.  UC is the life of your brand, so make sure you’re creating a positive experience in the minds of your customers.

#8:  Product companies are seeing the most disruption in marketing

Products thrive in this new economy because it revolves around innovative futuristic thinking.  Product developers are asking “what if” questions to consumers and listening to their responses, developing a product that is exactly what they wanted. The people who think “how will this product look in the future?” have more ground-breaking developments than anyone else.  Think Google, Coca-Cola, and Amazon.  These CEO’s thought ahead of their time, predicted a need, and created the solution.

#9:  Tech wizards are honing tracking and measuring tools

Currently, most people focus on “vanity” metrics like impressions, shares, likes, and engagement on websites and social pages, but that can rarely be linked to a positive return on investment (ROI).  Tech wizards are developing analytical tools that help us mine the detailed and sophisticated data to accurately track ROI and better understand the target audience in terms of cultural and emotional values.

#10:  Data-driven disruptive marketing is different from data-driven interruptive marketing

It’s important to know the difference.  Disruptive and inbound marketing are focused on building relationships with your customers, while interruptive marketing is the old-school “push” method that no longer appeals to the masses.  Disruptive marketers know how to use content to build trust and entertain the audience without interrupting their daily flow.

 

Welcome to the new era of business and marketing. It’s disruptive and magnificent!  If you have some free time (hilarious, right?), you should check out the book, “Disruptive Marketing” by Geoffrey Colon. He gives us a new perspective, and his social conversations and insights are compelling.

We’re all being pushed out of our comfort zones to embrace the rapid-fire changes in our culture and development as a species.  Let’s use our skills to usher in reliable and trustworthy business ethics with disruptive marketing that focuses on building relationships with your customers, partners, employees, and community.

Ask the Marketing Experts! Do you have a question about these trends, or did you get an idea you want to brainstorm?

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What is Responsive Web Design and How to Improve It

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There’s a good chance you’re reading this blog post on your phone or a tablet. If you’re not, you probably still use your phone to scroll social media, search for information, and look up websites. In fact, 52.64 percent of web views of total web traffic comes from mobile devices.

Understanding this statistic matters when you’re building a website. To succeed in the business world, your site needs to be able to automatically adjust itself to fit the dimensions of a device it is on. This is what responsive web design is all about.

What is responsive web design?

Let’s consider the opposite of responsive web design or a “fixed” website. This website probably looks great on a desktop or a laptop computer. When viewed on the desktop, the site might have multiple columns that are easy to read. However, when a user tries to open it on their phone, they must zoom in and scroll in ways that are difficult.

On a smartphone, these websites are often slow to load, large pictures may break up the text, and certain elements may be blocked.

In contrast, a responsive website automatically adjusts in a way that makes viewing the content easy for the users. For example, this website converts multiple columns to one long column. It readjusts photo sizes and makes everything visible on one page.

How does responsive web design work?

Responsive web design uses proportions rather than pixels. For example, if your site has 4 columns, you denote how much of the site each column should take. When converted to mobile, those proportions remain consistent. In addition, a fluid design works better on a variety of screens with different resolutions.

This design also uses a tool called breakpoints. Also called media queries, this design trick allows the website to gather data about the width of a user’s device. The website uses this data to apply specific CSS styles to fit that width. Breakpoints can be set to any size. However, most designers follow standard width sizes for desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones. In other words, they tend to use the sizes 1200px, 768px, 480px, and 320px.

Why small businesses need to switch to responsive web design.

Check your web traffic. If your website is like most sites, then a significant number of users are coming to your site through mobile devices. In fact, studies show that users are quick to leave sites that are slow, difficult to use, or are a pain to navigate. Responsive web design doesn’t completely eliminate all of these problems (sometimes, you just need an overall website tune-up!). However, it often will improve these problems.

As a small business owner, you know that bringing people to your site can be especially challenging. Not only does responsive web design play role in Google ranking, but it also keeps people engaged once they’ve found you.

Easy ways improve your responsive web design.

 1. Think mobile first. 

It’s tempting for many people to build their website from the perspective of a desktop user. As a result, the website often becomes filled up with lots of writing and photos. However, scaling down to a mobile site is often more challenging. Instead, build your site with a mobile mindset. Adjusting your site to a desktop won’t be as challenging.

2. Remember what’s important to users. 

Why are people coming to your site? What do you want to take away? Focus on communicating what matters, and try to stick to that. If you are unsure how to do this, enlist the help of a copywriter.

3. Optimize your images. 

Large images cause websites to slow down, and they don’t always convert well to other devices. To manage this, use a service like Adaptive Images.

At Your Imprint, we never stop having fun. Web design is one of the best parts of our jobs. If you need help building a stunning, functional website, get a quote. We’ll help you put on a show! 

Why Good Website Design is Important for Business

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Do you believe your website is secondary to your marketing campaign? You shouldn’t. Over 80 percent of consumers visit websites before making a purchase. Your website tells your customers who you are and what you offer.  Although the content of your website matters significantly, so does your web design.

From your site’s organization to its layout and colors, your web design impacts your virtual presence.

Good web design establishes trust.

A study conducted for a research publication called the Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites showed that only 6 percent of web users distrust an organization based on its online content. The rest, or 94 percent of users, distrust a company because of its web design. They struggled to trust websites with:

  • complex layouts.
  • small text.
  • very slow load times.
  • too much text.
  • poor indexes or search options.
  • obtrusive ads.

Good websites tell your audience that you have the professionalism and financial means to effectively engage the business world. As a result, the audience uses your website to make assumptions about the quality of your products and services. In fact, 98 percent of users say that if a website works poorly on mobile, they take it to mean that the company doesn’t care.

This may not seem fair, but it certainly isn’t new. Long before the Internet, advertisers knew that packaging design mattered. For example, in chapter 5 of the book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell writes about the way we subconsciously perceive design. He writes, “Testers for 7-Up consistently found consumers would report more lemon flavor in their product if they added 15% more yellow coloring to the package.”

Good web design keeps people coming back.

Websites that are easy to use are websites that people return to more frequently, purchase products from, and stay on longer. Here are a few need-to-know statistics that back these points:

  • 51 percent of American online shoppers say slow site loading times is the number one reason they don’t make a purchase.
  • 40 percent of users will leave a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
  • 38% of people will leave a website if they think the layout is unattractive.
  • Two-thirds of people would prefer to read something that is beautiful over something plain.

Really, these statistics are self-explanatory. Nobody wants to use something that is visually unappealing, and websites are no exception. Chances are, there are other businesses like yours. Don’t let your website be the reason a customer chooses your competition over you.

Good web design matters for SEO and mobile users.

An SEO-friendly site is one that allows Google and other search engines the ability to examine your site. When building your website, you need to pay attention to how the site looks. However, you also need to build it with a long-term vision. This is what will impact SEO, and your business, in the long run.

Responsive web design is a type of design that readjusts itself based on the device it is being read through. For example, our site can be read on a phone, tablet, or laptop without requiring the user to zoom in or out to see our content. This sort of design is especially important when evaluating your design and SEO. In fact, Google and other sites reward sites with responsive design.

At Your Imprint, we never stop having fun, and web design is one of the best parts of our jobs. If you need help building a stunning, yet functional website, get a quote. We’ll help you put on a show! 

What is a link profile? And how do you get a good one?

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Think about link profiles like a network. On our YourImprint blogcast, we link to other sources frequently. Sometimes, other websites link back to our content. These links are inbound links. When they do this, they are inadvertently helping us develop our link profile.

Link profiles are an essential part of SEO. In fact, Google ranks websites higher if other reputable websites link back to them. In addition to this, inbound links push users back to your site organically. With a good link profile, your site will rank higher and attract more views.

What makes a link profile “good”?

Google analyzes link profiles based on their quality, their anchor texts, and their honesty.

  1. Quality. Links to your site shouldn’t come from just anywhere. You want reputable, non-spammy websites to link to your content. Otherwise, you might start to experience negative SEOrel=”nofollow” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”. Your links should also come from relevant content. For example, if you write about hair products, sites related to hair should be linking to your site.
  2. Anchor texts. Anchor texts are the words that contain a hyperlink to another site. For example, in the above paragraph, the words “negative SEO” are anchor texts because they link to another site. Anchor text should be relevant. If an anchor text contains the words “Colorado,” you expect to visit a site about the Centennial State.
  3. Honest links. Google is strict about how links are acquired. In fact, they say that links that are bought or traded for money will negatively affect your site. Some people still do this. It isn’t illegal or outright banned. However, buy link space still might hurt your site.

How do you build a link profile?

  1. Write quality content on a regular basis. This will give your website constant content that people will want to link back to.
  2. Link back to yourself. Every webpage and post you put on your site should include 2-3 links back to other places on your website.
  3. Get to know other people. Are you a small business owner? Connect with other business owners in your area. Link to their site when appropriate.
  4. Post on social media. These are links too, and they also expose your site to audience members that may not see your content otherwise.

How do I check my link profiles?

Check your link profiles regularly to make sure you aren’t the victim of spammy links. The following sites analyze your website:

Are you confused about this or other SEO problems? Do you need help building or fixing your website? Our experienced team is eager to help. Contact us to learn more about our marketing services!