Food for thought.

The Strategic Web: Crafting tailor-made websites that generate new business

Posted June 12th, Under Web Design

As Barrie based web designers, we are constantly striving to help our clients realize the potential of their online marketing, particularly with regards to the importance and value of their website. In an environment as cluttered as the web, we place emphasis on strategy and execution to craft success. If you are thinking about design or redesigning your website, consider the following tips from the creative innovators at A4C.



" To create a memorable design you need to start with a thought that’s worth remembering…"


- Thomas Manss



Okay... But Where Do I Start?


With Coffee. And lots of it… Meet with a professional Web Designer to:
+ Generate ideas
+ Determine your objective
+ Gather research
+ Make a budget
+ Create a deadline
+ Establish a domain name & hosting
+ Plan your strategy


For now, Let's Focus On Strategy, This is the pulse of a successful site. Ask yourself the following:
+ Who is my target audience? (Age, gender, income bracket )
+ What are they looking for? (Information, deals, products)
+ Who are my competitors? (What have they done successfully? How can we improve?)
+ What is the goal of this website? (To generate new business, provide information, sell products)
+ How will I promote this site, to ensure that it is successful?


Begin With Research:
Share this information with your web designer. They will need this to make sure that the objectives of the website are met, and to understand your target audience so the design is tailored towards this demographic. We typically deem this information our
"creative brief".


Record Your Findings:
Use your research to better understand your goals and what you plan to achieve with the design of this website. Once your objective is understood, it can be met.


Plan Your Strategy:
But what determines if a strategy is weak or strong? What if I'm missing something? Well, There are a lot of great creative websites online. But all the best designs have a few things in common…


The 6 Elements of a Successful Web Strategy:


1 | Brand Continuity
+ Consistent logo usage
+ Colour application
+ Typeface choice
+ Design considerations
+ Choose a relevant domain name


2 | User Experience
+ Intuitive navigation and ease of use
+ Responsive design for a mobile experience
+ Good contrast for type legibility
+ Accessible for those with disabilities
+ Cross platform and browser compatibility


3 | Content
+ Planned information architecture
+ Obvious hierarchy for important information
+ Content is relevant, useful and informative
+ Content is credible and original
+ Content has search engine ranking potential


4 | Focus
+ Remember the sites objective
+ Consider your audience
+ Establish, what you want your user to do or find on the site (call to action)
+ Use design hierarchy to guide your users to the call to action


5 | User Connection
+ Interact with your user to create continued site interest and traffic
+ Contribute content to your site regularly (Use a content management system, blog, project gallery, or announce events)
+ Use social media, to drive traffic
+ Respond to user comments


6 | SEO & Promotion
+ Use proper meta information and research potential keywords (include a geographical point of reference, and don't forget synonyms )
+ Create 2 way links from social media, external blogs and online partners (back linking)
+ Use content wisely (include keywords, consider content hierarchy)


Abiding by a Process:
Custom web design is an indulgent craft that requires time and discipline. Each step must be carefully planned, designed and executed in sequence to ensure your strategy is implemented properly.
1. meet
2. research
3. design
4. refine
5. develop
6. test & debug
7. deploy


Interface Design 101:

Crafting business tools cleverly disguised as websites
+ Use predicable and intuitive navigation to organize and facilitate easy site navigation.
+ Include important contact information where it is easily seen and accessed.
+ Relate and appeal to your target audience with imagery, colour usage and design style.
+ Use CTA (Call to Action) buttons to lead your users to important information or prompt interaction.
+ Providing an overview of your services, allows users that have landed on your homepage, to tell if they have come to the right place.
+ If you have a means of managing content, use a blog, or news and events section to keep your content fresh, informative, and most importantly, search optimized.
+ Consider offering user incentive, such as special offers to help promote your site and strategically drive traffic.
+ Education is an important factor in establishing trust and credibility with your clients. Showcase your industry expertise, and let your users know what you can offer them.
+ Adding search functionality makes it easy for users to locate specific information, especially on sites with large amounts of content.
+ Integrate social media. Not only will you have another outlet to connect with your audience, but your visibility is increased through back linking and an active web presence.
+ Use your site as a business tool. Collect leads, by encouraging users to contact you, book an appointment or request a quote.


Future Proof Your Website

The web is evolving at an alarming rate. As new technologies are embraced and others made obsolete, It's imperative to build your website so that it survives this ongoing change in website standards.


Cisco expects there to 10 BILLION be mobile and connected devices by 2018, compared with the approximate 7.6 billion people expected to be on earth in this year.
- Cisco's 2014 Mobile Traffic Forecast


In 2013 Global mobile data traffic grew by 81%
- Cisco's 2014 Mobile Traffic Forecast


In 2013 alone, mobile data traffic was nearly 18 times the size of the entire global internet in the year 2000
- Cisco's 2014 Mobile Traffic Forecast


It's estimated that roughly 28% of all website traffic was from mobile devices in 2013
- Mobile Website Traffic Report // Walker Sands Communication


So how can we cater the user experience to a mobile generation when the technology we use is actively evolving? With Responsive Web Design and Development. Responsive layouts conform and adapt to the resolution and orientation of the device the website is being viewed from, providing an optimal user experience from any device or platform.



Optimizing the Mobile Experience:

A mobile device lacks the precision of a traditional mouse cursor used on desktops devices. The on-screen viewing area is also substantially smaller on these devices, which means a few layout modifications must be taken into consideration when accommodating mobile users.
+ Layouts use "break points" to stack content according to the resolution of the device it is being viewed from
+ Use larger "touch friendly" buttons, for a larger hit-zone
+ Use collapsible/hidden navigation structure for optimizing visible space
+ Use adaptive sizing and retina images for crisp images on mobile devices that zoom
+ Remove non-essential content like advertisements for the mobile experience
+ Use a grid! (for design)


The expectations of our users has changed. Our now constant exposure to the web has redefined the standard for good web design. So where does the actual design of a website factor into this equation?


Studies show that you have less than 30 seconds To capture the attention of your user before they have decided to look else for what they are searching for. Design serves as a bait & hook combo, to not only attract and hook your viewers attention,  But to reel them in as well. Presenting your message, services or goods in a way that is professional and enticing makes the viewer WANT to hear what you have to say.


Poor design(bait), deployed with a weak strategy(hook), yields few/smaller results(fish).

And What about SEO?


What is it? Why is it important? How can I use it in my web strategy?


What is it? (in a nutshell):
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Is the process of affecting your websites visibility or ranking on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. For most online marketing strategies this is a vital means of exposure, that is achieved through a combination various technical factors and dedicated efforts.


Why is it important? Let's look at the facts…


93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.


75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
- Search Engine Journal


For Google,  18%  of organic clicks go to the  #1 position, 10% of organic clicks go to the #2 position, and  7% of organic clicks go to the #3 position.
*The term "organic" refers to search results that are ranked based on relevancy. The opposing term "non-organic" refers to pay per click advertisement
- Slingshot SEO


Collectively, these top three positions account for 35% of organic clicks.


How does SEO fit into my web strategy?
+ Increase traffic
+ Increase leads/sales (better conversion rates)
+ Increase Brand Awareness
+ Increase Brand Credibility
+ Surpass your competitors


GREAT! So how can I optimize my website? Well, that's a discussion for another time...


Plan your web strategy today. Realize potential business tomorrow.



Food for thought.


From A4C (Appetite for Creation)


Cisco's 2014 Mobile Traffic Forecast
Search Engine Journal
Walker Sands Communication
thinkwithGoogle: Mobile Path to Purchase

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