Web Designer Insider Tips – Sarah Anne Hudson

Web designers have their work cut out for them in today’s ever evolving technology market. Without the right know-how and training, it might be hard for some businesses to keep their website design current.  What’s more the  numbers show that more than 60% of internet users are accessing websites via their mobile devices.  That means that designers need to be able to craft sites that look great on all types of devices including: smartphones, tablets, laptops and home desktops.That is where companies like ours come into play.  Sperling Interactive designs web sites that are easy-to-navigate on any device.  Our Designer and Front-end Web Developer, Sarah Anne Hudson, specializes in the field of Responsive Design.  Let’s meet her and find out more of her tips on Responsive Designs and as well as her tips on Embracing Footers.

Sarah-1Meet Sarah Hudson

While Sarah, a designer with an eye for detail, is proficient in html, css, php, javascript, MySQL and the Adobe Design Suite, she specializes in designing responsive websites.  This type of design means Sarah can create a site that can easily adapt to the wide range of device sizes. Responsive web design ultimately means crafting sites that look great on all types of implements. Sarah asserts that, “A website not designed to be responsive could come out looking wrong to upwards of 50% of your audience!”  Thus she faces the primary challenge of simplifying the design and minimizing the content as elegantly as possible so the site’s purpose is maintained. As technology continues to change and new devices are churned out yearly, responsive design will help keep websites easy-to-navigate regardless of what instrument it is being viewed through.

Along with supporting responsive design, Sarah also suggests embracing Footers in the design of web pages. Using larger footers packed with highlighted content for the users is one of Sarah’s favorite design feature currently.  In the web designing world, it is a popular design trend (for good reason!) Footers could include navigation, social media icons, contact info, Facebook feeds, etc.. Larger footers are a great secondary reference for users as they navigate through a site. For example, instead of a page that scrolls on forever, an elaborate footer would simplify navigation/contact info to another page without the hassle of scrolling back to the top of the page. So save your end users some time and needless swiping with a handily designed footer!

Check back for more tips and trends in web designing with Sarah Anne Hudson and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Importance of Brand Consistency

Top brands like Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Microsoft know how to create a unique name, image and theme for their products or services.  Consumers can easily recognize their slogan, tagline, colors, logo and message in many forms.  When branding properly and consistently, a company can establish themselves as a strong presence in the market or field of business that attracts and retains loyal customers.  So how do top companies create that sense of brand consistency across all marketing and visual platforms?  Let’s explore some ways to be sure your product and service is being branded consistently.

  1. Appearance – One of the first things that consumers may notice about your company/service/product is how it looks.   It should go without saying that all print media and digital media should have a consistent appearance.  The physical look of your brand is based upon font, color palette, logo, and custom images.  By remaining consistent with the overall appearance of your brand you will make it easy to recognize.  This means all visual images of your company on your website, social media, and print media should be quickly discernible. Think about how easily we recognize the companies mentioned about merely by sight.
  2. Message and Voice – Consumers can easily identify a tone, message and voice in writing.  Your audience has come to expect a certain pattern in the content that you disseminate.  For example, if you post blogs or social media, the voice and message needs to be easily identified as something that would come from your company.  Are you young and hip? Techno and innovative?  Traditional and trustworthy?  This message will and should come across in all content. Problems remaining consistent in this area usually stem from changing writers, spokespeople, or marketing groups.  Try to maintain a clear message about what you stand for regardless of who is doing the work.  Also by using the same tone and descriptive words throughout your media you will make your brand cohesive no matter where a consumer hears about your company.
  3. A Brand Checklist – This may sound corny but before any newsletter, email, print media, social media post, or sign is created, have the marketing team go through a short checklist of questions that may include: Does the item have our logo, colors, and font used properly?  Does the image match what we are trying to portray?  Does the content sound like our brand?  Is the voice or tone consistent?  These quick questions may save your company from sending out a post or newsletter that customers will not recognize as coming from your valued brand.

Is your Business Mobile Ready?

How are you reading this blog?  Are you reading it on your desktop, laptop, tablet or quite possibly on your smartphone?  As of the start of 2015, Americans have passed the tipping point between desktop and mobile device usage.  According to Smart Insights, mobile use overtook desktop usage with 1.8 million people using their smartphones for a multitude of tasks including reading/updating social media, checking email, online searches, business reviews and of course viewing the millions of ads that are out there in the digital world.  What exactly does this mean for your business?

It means that the traditional notion of “going online”  has changed drastically.  With nearly 2/3 of all Americans owning a smartphone and accessing it daily, your company needs to be mobile ready . . . and now!  Here are some questions to consider when deciding if you really are mobile ready.

  1. How does your website look on a broad range of devices?  Consumers use many different mobile devices including iphones, Androids, Tablets, Kindles, and on and on.  (In the near future there will probably be even more devices to consider.) It is imperative then, hat your website be compatible with all these.  Responsive Design, therefore is the solution in order to be certain the mobile version of your website is readable and easy-to-use.  Responsive design means basically that your website is crafted to provide optimal viewing and interaction experience with a minimum of re-sizing, panning, and scrolling.
  2. Be Local – Research from Entrepreneur indicates that the majority of shopping/choosing services occurs within a 10-mile radius of home.  Due to this it is critical to be sure that contact info on your mobile website includes a map and phone number that makes it easy to find you locally.  Local mobile use also means that you can use real time special offers for people who are in your area. Geo-location services are also an essential part of your mobile strategy.
  3. Be Social – With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all the other social media platforms at consumers fingertips it is easy to understand that being social it important for your company and brand.  Many consumers check online reviews or their social media channels for company information prior to purchasing.  Marketers who have integrated their mobile program with customer reviews and social media sharing buttons are reaping major rewards.
  4. Be Analytical – Monitor and keep up-to-date on the statistics about how consumers are using your mobile site.  This makes it easy to see how and where your best consumers have found you via their mobile device.  This information can be used then to plan how to spend the marketing budget in future campaigns.

Benefits of Custom Photography

We have all heard the old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but did you know that when it comes to your website, custom pictures can be worth a whole lot more than just words? Custom photography for websites, print material, and your social media can be advantageous for your company in many ways.  Yes, stock photography is easy and cheap but custom photography is a much better solution for your image needs and is often less expensive than one might think.  Let’s look at the many benefits of choosing custom photography.

  1. Branding – Custom photography really embraces your brand.  Custom means any pictures can include your people, your location, your product, your logo and ultimately reflect your brand’s culture instead of trying to find something that is “kinda” close on stock sites.  Your company’s uniqueness and the brand that you represent can be captured in custom photos exceptionally well.
  2. A Glimpse Inside your Company – When a consumer is researching your product or service wouldn’t it be better if they found photos on the website of people that actually work at your office or better yet a staff photo that shows off the company’s personality? Maybe even a location that they recognize might be a plus as well. Custom Photography allows you to feature genuine faces, spaces and products. This allows your company to be one-of-a-kind and original.  What you really don’t want is a stock photo that ends up on some competitors website or print design.
  3. Consistency – By having custom photography, you are ensuring that the images best represent who you are as a company.  Feelings, personality and trustworthiness does show through even in photos. Consistently showing off who you are a company will show through.  Businesses which present themselves in a professional, polished manner immediately appear more reputable in the eyes of customers.
  4. An Investment – Once photos are taken they are yours and can be used for a wide number of purposes from print media, email newsletters, websites, blog posts, brochures, ads, webinars, presentations, social media and during trade shows or networking.  Custom photography should be able to be used over and over again thus making the most of the investment you have made in this powerful marketing tool. Custom photography is a well worthwhile investment in the marketing needs and brand awareness of your company.


Techniques to Increase Traffic to your Site

One of the most frequently asked questions from businesses is,  “How do we get more people to visit our website?”  At Sperling Interactive this is one of the things we successfully help our clients with regularly.  As marketers, we understand that what every business wants is more customers.  One of the best ways to get that is by having more people visit your website and convert into customers!  Here are some of our top tips of simple things that you can do to increase traffic to your website.

  1. Advertise Your Site – This may seem fairly simple but many companies forget that there are a multitude of channels through which to advertise.  Free business listings is the first place to start.  Be sure to have all pertinent information about your company in the listings including an easy link to your site, your phone number and google address. Paid search, social media advertising and display advertising are all excellent ways of attracting visitors, building your brand and getting your site in front of people. Adjust your paid strategies to suit your goals – do you just want more traffic, or are you looking to increase conversions, too? Each paid channel has its pros and cons, so think carefully about your objectives before you decide.  We can help you find the right channel for your desired audience.
  2. Social Media – Do you have great content on your site that you would like to promote?  One of the best ways to increase traffic to your website is to use social media channels to promote that content. Create links on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram pages.  Give tidbits of content on these sites and encourage viewers to visit your main site to get more information.
  3. Keywords – Specifically Long Tailed Keywords are optimal for attracting customers to your site.  Drive target searches to your site by using very specific and focused keywords.  Long-tail keywords account for a majority of web searches, meaning that if you’re not targeting them as part of your paid search or SEO efforts, you’re missing out. Use Google’s Keyword Tool to find long-tail keywords that match up with your content or, even better, write content unique to your brand.
  4. Blogging – They say that content is king, so be sure your website has valuable content that viewers will want to access.  Blogging about your business field will draw customers to your products or services and give them a sense of your company’s voice through your blog.  In addition, search engines reward companies who are getting high-quality, consistent content coming from them.
  5. SEO – Optimizing your content for search engines is still a valuable and worthwhile practice. If customers are not able to find your company then the game is over.  Sperling Interactive has many techniques that will help your company be found.  Contact us today to start planning your SEO and Marketing strategy to increase traffic to your website.