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web design

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Skimmers, Swimmers and Divers

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The Three Types of Visitors to Websites

Are you looking for ways to make your business website more effective? Want to know how to make your content appeal to every visitor on your site?

It’s not impossible if you keep in mind the following:

  • Skimmers want to find the information they need and get out as quickly as possible.

  • Swimmers will go a little deeper and browse more of your site.

  • Divers want to take it all in and spend time exploring.

Many websites are bursting at the seams with valuable information and content.  Serving up this content in a way that’s informative and engaging (and not overwhelming) can be a major organizational and design challenge. 

As you plan the organization and design of your site, think of your site visitors in three categories: 

Skimmers, Swimmers and Divers

Each group is willing to go progressively deeper and spend more time on your site.  They each have different needs and wants when it comes to their online experience.  So how do you design your site to address all of them?

Start by understanding what each audience is looking for and think through opportunities to meet that need.

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Skimmers

Glide along the surface – they want to get in , get the info they need and get out as soon as possible.  They are headline readers and use title to guide their journey through your site.

How to meet their needs:

  • Think about the info most visitors are looking for.  This might include hours, contact info, admission price, menu – the low hanging fruit of info.

  • Make headlines clear and concise and use different headlines and establish a clear hierarchy to make page structure easy to understand at-a-glance.

  • Include search functionality. If the skimmers can’t locate what they need at-a-glance, an easy search function can keep them from leaving your page.

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Swimmers

Splash around – willing to get a little deeper.  They are interested but have a limited amount of time and energy they will devote to your site.  They are most likely looking for something specific but may stop and peruse if something catches their attention.

How to meet their needs:

  • Take a cue from magazine – the covers of which have the most dramatic or thought-provoking quotes from stories in bold colors and fonts to grab attention.  Translate this approach to your site and emphasize our most compelling content to make it irresistible.

  • Not everything can be on the home page, but don’t bury content under too many layers of navigation.  And use page metrics to help adjust content that is most sought.

  • Feature related and relevant information “in context” – include similar content when visitors are most likely to be interested in it.  For example, an info page about services could include testimonials or links to companion products.

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Divers

Going deep to get the full story – they will consume most, if not all, content and come back looking for new additions.

How to meet their needs:

  • Make sure your information is organized in an intuitive manner.  Divers may become frustrated if they cant make a mental map of your site as they browse.

  • Make the content progress clearly so they can easily find a stopping point and remember for when they resume.

  • Enhance their experience with multimedia – videos, imagery, audio – to keep them interested.

 

Building the Foundation

Keep in mind the needs of each of these visitors for a site that can cater to all who visit your site and convert visitors to customers.

  • Skimmers are looking for speed, ease, clarity and brevity.

  • Swimmers are looking for options, simplicity, efficiency and possibility.

  • Divers are looking for details, background, interaction and connection.

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Build Brand Awareness through Email

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Build Brand Awareness through Email

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Employing an effective email marketing strategy is an essential tool for building up brand awareness.

Many online businesses tend to view email marketing solely in terms of sales, but that’s a short-sided view of what email marketing can really do for you. Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing mediums, offering brands the opportunity to reach loyal customers regularly and directly.

Consumers subscribing to an email list are telling you they want to hear from you so use this to your advantage!

When employed well, email marketing can:

  • Foster serious customer loyalty by creating direct links with consumers

  • Leverage ROI of any marketing campaign

  • Establish a brand as a reliable reference point for consumers

  • Decrease email list unsubscribe rates

In short, email marketing provides one of the most powerful tools for encouraging long-term habitual interactions with a brand.

You’ve been given a great opportunity – don’t squander it!

Here are some things to keep in mind when developing your email campaign:

Personality and Tone of Voice

Should a brand be serious or friendly? Scientific or colloquial?

The personality of a brand’s marketing communication should be

consistent with all points of contact with the consumer.

By keeping to a tone that is representative of its values a brand will instill confidence and reliability in the eyes of their customers.

Email Campaign Template

People love consistency – especially when scrolling through a full inbox. Building up recognition is the foundation of strong brand awareness and loyalty.

The easiest way to establish this is with an HTML email template that is in line with the company’s objectives.

It is important to consider the following:

  • Do the fonts, colors, call-to-action and layout match those of the business?

  • Is the logo being used correctly and is prominent?

  • Are contact details clear and easy to see?

  • Does the email message contain a personal signature or the company name?

Email marketing templates are an opportunity to reinforce brand recognition. Making an email instantly recognizable will encourage consumer confidence.

Make Sure That Your Email Campaign Converts

You spend all this time putting together your emails, make sure thy convert.

Put the most effort into your subject line as this will determine whether or not a consumer opens to explore more – you need to grab their attention and pique their interest

  • Use graphics as these tend to perform better than the text-only transactional emails

  • Include the company logo prominently as users are more likely to open messages from brands they recognize

  • Put a compelling image in the top area of the email to convey a brand’s message and engage consumer

  • Place at least one call-to-action so that the receiver knows exactly what to do

  • If possible, split test all email campaigns. A split test could include testing a different call-to-action, graphic or layout.

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Match the link to the message

The email marketing sales funnel is not complete without ensuring that you are sending the consumer to the right place.

From the customer’s perspective there is nothing worse than being presented with a scintillating offer, eagerly clicking on the call-to-action in the hope of redeeming the offer, only to be directed to a landing page where it’s hard to find the offer or worse still one that doesn’t contain the offer at all.

Keep it simple. Give them what they want.

Avoid Continuous Sales Pitches

Email campaigns are a simple way to communicate that a brand is an authority in their niche, but a brand that is only interested in sales will find that their email drop off rate is high.

By offering solution-focused email content customers will not only remain engaged with the brand but will be eagerly awaiting the next email follow up.

The sales will come later.

Send Emails Regularly

Consistency is key – not just in brand and tone, but also in frequency. Build a calendar and stick to it. Keep track of the days and times of days that convert the highest and incorporate those metrics into your planning. Track everything!

Segment and Personalize

Any company not working on list segmentation and deeper personalization are missing out on a method for solidifying brand awareness. Segmenting an email list into highly targeted micro-segments allows for more customer targeted product marketing.

The benefits for brand awareness include minimizing the unopened email rates, decreasing email list subscriber drop off and fostering confidence in the customer that the brand really understands what each individual customer needs.

Conclusion

The key to developing brand awareness through email marketing lies with consistency, providing solution-focused content, personalization, and highly optimized campaigns.

A well thought out email campaign can run for many months and keep customers coming back for repeat visits and repeat conversions.

If you’re not employing your email marketing strategy to its full potential, it’s time to get to work on content and mailers and start thinking about how to keep those customers coming back.

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How design can boost clients' profits

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How design can boost clients' profits

How design can boost clients' profits

For a client, the success of a design project usually hinges not on acclaim, but sums. No matter how many Yellow Pencils, social media mentions or column inches a project tots up, it’s hard for a client to see true value for money unless the work boosts their profits by generating cold, hard cash.

According to a 2013 report by the Design Council, for every £1 a client spends on design, they reap over £4 in net operating profit, over £20 net turnover and over £5 in net exports. The same study also reveals that two-thirds of companies that ignore design have to compete mainly on price, whereas that’s true of only one third where design is integral to the business.

Earn more with the designer's guide to money!

To designers, the benefits of creative work are obvious, but convincing a client that it will yield a return on investment requires tangible statistics from previous outcomes. However, whether it’s a commercial campaign that shifted a larger than average volume of products, a charity campaign that raised a considerable sum of money or a high-profile rebrand that can be credited for helping reverse the fortunes of a business, measuring effectiveness can be a slippery task. 

Part of the problem is that design work rarely exists in a vacuum. Separating the power of a well-timed rebrand from the appeal of a good product or service, and the consumer trends surrounding it, is often nigh-on impossible. It might be possible to measure a packaging design overhaul's impact on sales figures, but a rebrand is an investment that could take years to pay off – and sometimes in ways that aren’t immediately apparent or easy to measure.

Laying the right foundations

Dedicating some time to assessing brand health before you even start thinking about the creative side is an investment that will pay dividends when it comes to measuring how much you’ve improved a client’s bottom line. When it comes to qualitative data, interviews and focus groups that establish desirability, satisfaction and aesthetics are the keystones of ROI measurement – but when calculating bang for buck, quantitative metrics need to be finely tuned to the client’s business objectives. 

“I think where design fails a lot is where it doesn’t connect to organizational goals,” says Hulse & Durrell partner Greg Durrell, whose rebrand of the Canadian Olympic Team led to overwhelming financial and social success. “If you start with aesthetics and style, it’s not going to create meaningful change. Knowing where the business needs to go can really help define your path.”

The strength of a brand overhaul isn’t just in the finished outcome

How you define success – as well as your approach, and most likely the creative itself – is going to be different depending on whether your client wants to sell more products, break into a new market, increase its attractiveness to sponsors or buyers, cultivate brand loyalty or amplify social media clout. But remember, the strength of a brand overhaul isn’t just in the finished outcome, but in helping clients see their strengths and weaknesses, and streamlining their operation throughout the process. 

“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” adds Durrell. “Foundational branding work is largely about the long-term goal, but what rebrands can do is be that rallying point for an organization to change.”

Next page: discover four ways in which design can help contribute to a client’s financial health...

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10 Perceptions Outdated Websites Create That Damage Credibility

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10 Perceptions Outdated Websites Create That Damage Credibility

1. “They’re going out of business”

Where’s the latest blog? Press release? Social media status? Upcoming sale? New product release?

“No news is good news” is certainly not applicable here.

This silence gets people wondering if the company is dying a slow death (even if their books show skyrocketing profitability!)

2: “Their customer support will be terrible”

If customer support is imperative to an organization, don’t you think their website should make it easy to get that support?

“78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience.” (Source: American Express Survey, 2011)

Outdated websites come laced with wrong phone numbers, hidden email addresses, broken contact forms and confusing navigation — all red flags, especially to a prospective customer.

3. “The company must be OK with the status quo”

Consumer expectations are high, especially in retail. “Shoppers want to experience a brand online as they do within the store.”

A company OK with an outdated website feels like a company OK with just doing enough to get by. Technology companies in particular might be labeled “status quo” which cheapens their products/services.

4. “They just aren’t with it”

Though being “with it” is difficult to translate into practical meaning (and sounds like teenager speak), it’s still a gut reaction that damages credibility.

Being “with it” could mean a variety of things, but my guess it’s related to the website’s design — a factor with significant persuasion.

Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab found that almost half (46%) of people say a website’s design is the number one criterion for discerning credibility.

5. “They have technology incompetence”

We all live in the Digital Age, but using technology isn’t always easy.

A recent WSJ study found more than half (54%) of small to mid-sized businesses are concerned with “technology outpacing their ability to compete”.

Technology can’t be ignored. Especially on a website.

Outdated websites typically run old technologies (e.g. Flash, Frames, Hit Counters) and give the impression the company hasn’t left 1999. This creates the perception that the company faces similar technology incompetence — which impacts almost every single aspect of today’s business.

6. “They won’t keep my data safe and secure”

An outdated website tends to forget about the details, even the critical ones like keeping their SSL certificate renewed (which allows the URL to securely shift to https://).

Negligence with security (like an expired SSL certificate) leads to skepticism when giving up sensitive information such as name, email address, phone number and — especially — debit/credit card information.

7. “They must not be proud of their company”

When you interact with an updated and lively website, you can almost feel it. The company’s executives (especially if there’s thought leadership) and their employees feel proud to be part of things.

The website is an extension of their organization.

Outdated websites don’t represent organizations well because they send an apathetic message — which might not be an accurate measure of pride within the organization.

8. “There’s no buzz”

Most people like to buy from companies that are exciting and have a “buzz” to them. I’m sure you’ve heard of Apple?

This buzz is especially important in the B2C (Business to Consumer) sector where emotion has a dramatic role in marketing. Existing and prospective customers want to — sometimes unknowingly — be part of something buzzworthy.

This brand excitement is hard to see and hear without an updated website.

9. “They’re not good enough for my money.”

This perception feels a bit harsh, but I’m getting the impression that consumers just don’t care anymore. An organization with an outdated website is simply, bad business.

This study found that 35% of consumer walked away from a small business because of its poor website. Let me repeat. Over 1/3 of them WALKED AWAY.

The old fashioned business approach can only go so far without a solid website

10. “I could never work for a company like this”

An outdated website will impact a company’s ability to attract, recruit and retain talent. I know this perception exists because I’ve seen it first hand with my clients

One client’s leadership was galvanized because a hot recruit verbally trashed their outdated website, and another (Stanford Careers) made it clear that it was the #1 reason for hiring ProtoFuse.

An amazing work culture and competitive pay may, in fact, be a reality for a recruit, but this perception stops the conversation from even starting.

 

original article

 

 

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     The headline above is a lie. Recent studies have shown that given the increasing speed of the Internet, websites now have less than 0.03 seconds to impress a visitor. Less than a split second to invite someone to stay and make themselves at home. Less than a second to have them take a look at your company, your service or your products.  With this limitation in mind, do you think your current website design will keep your customers or will they leave your site and never return again? Once on your website, there is no guarantee that your one time visitor will become a permanent customer. Before you launch that site, check the following:  Check Your Loading Times If your site is too heavy to load in a few seconds, chances are your customers do not even wait to see it. They look at the little icon and close the window. Of all web design functionalities, loading times are the most critical. People are no longer patient. They no longer have to deal with dial-up modems or slow Internet service. They do not need your slow site in their lives, unless you are their bank or a service they desperately need.  Many countries, even those classified as underdeveloped countries, enjoy high-speed Broadband internet, Wi-Fi and even LTE (Long Term Evolution or 4G) mobile Wi-Fi. And you cannot be bothered to fix your site so it loads just a fifth of a second faster.  Improve Your Color Scheme Attractive design never fails to attract visitors. Humans are drawn to color and have many different psychological reactions to different hues. A fresh palette attracts visitors and gives them a subliminal impression about the website, what it is for and what to expect from it.  Color schemes also affect readability, so make sure to test your color schemes on your target market.  A Well-Designed Header Does your header have impact? Does it tell your visitors what your website is about? Headers are important because they typically load first, even in the 1/10 of a second. They often contain the site's title and images that embody the website's personality. Headers or the top half of the site design (usually referred to as the part above the fold) should contain your company logo, navigation tools or search tools and other important features.  Do You Feel Familiar?  Avant-garde is good, but some people will recoil if they encounter a website with a layout so revolutionary they have no idea where to click. Clean, simple architecture is key to a great first impression and gives your visitor a concrete idea of what your website is for the moment the front page loads.  Keep in mind that this does not mean that your website has to be boring -- really. A great web design company can help you stick to convention but give the user a great user experience by playing with different design elements.  Are You Recognizable? Is your marketing campaign cohesive? Is your customer able to identify your website offhand? Do they recognize what you are immediately or are you asking them to figure it out first? Or do you disguise your website as a blog when in reality you are an ecommerce site?  Recognizing the type of website they are on is key to a better user experience. Some companies and some websites like to make their customers guess by including strange navigation elements or vague copy on the front page. Confusing your customer will not do you any good.  Are You Appealing? Visiting a website for the first time is like going on the first date -- first impressions last. Is your website's look and feel something that will keep users engaged? Often, a complex layout with multiple ads, too much content, small fonts and ugly design is the number one reason customers do not stay.  Poor design is a sign of laziness and is a sign that companies have given more thought to what they want instead of what the customer wants. Visual appeal is rated higher than content, but only for first impressions. Later on, what matters is what is on the website.  First impressions last, this is true for all humans who meet face to face and for all websites. Make sure you give the best first impression you can by appealing to your customer's visual sense and making it easy to be recognized.   original article

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0-3 seconds to impress your customer.png

The headline above is a lie. Recent studies have shown that given the increasing speed of the Internet, websites now have less than 0.03 seconds to impress a visitor. Less than a split second to invite someone to stay and make themselves at home. Less than a second to have them take a look at your company, your service or your products.

With this limitation in mind, do you think your current website design will keep your customers or will they leave your site and never return again? Once on your website, there is no guarantee that your one time visitor will become a permanent customer. Before you launch that site, check the following:

Check Your Loading Times
If your site is too heavy to load in a few seconds, chances are your customers do not even wait to see it. They look at the little icon and close the window. Of all web design functionalities, loading times are the most critical. People are no longer patient. They no longer have to deal with dial-up modems or slow Internet service. They do not need your slow site in their lives, unless you are their bank or a service they desperately need.

Many countries, even those classified as underdeveloped countries, enjoy high-speed Broadband internet, Wi-Fi and even LTE (Long Term Evolution or 4G) mobile Wi-Fi. And you cannot be bothered to fix your site so it loads just a fifth of a second faster.

Improve Your Color Scheme
Attractive design never fails to attract visitors. Humans are drawn to color and have many different psychological reactions to different hues. A fresh palette attracts visitors and gives them a subliminal impression about the website, what it is for and what to expect from it.

Color schemes also affect readability, so make sure to test your color schemes on your target market.

A Well-Designed Header
Does your header have impact? Does it tell your visitors what your website is about? Headers are important because they typically load first, even in the 1/10 of a second. They often contain the site's title and images that embody the website's personality. Headers or the top half of the site design (usually referred to as the part above the fold) should contain your company logo, navigation tools or search tools and other important features.

Do You Feel Familiar? 
Avant-garde is good, but some people will recoil if they encounter a website with a layout so revolutionary they have no idea where to click. Clean, simple architecture is key to a great first impression and gives your visitor a concrete idea of what your website is for the moment the front page loads.

Keep in mind that this does not mean that your website has to be boring -- really. A great web design company can help you stick to convention but give the user a great user experience by playing with different design elements.

Are You Recognizable?
Is your marketing campaign cohesive? Is your customer able to identify your website offhand? Do they recognize what you are immediately or are you asking them to figure it out first? Or do you disguise your website as a blog when in reality you are an ecommerce site?

Recognizing the type of website they are on is key to a better user experience. Some companies and some websites like to make their customers guess by including strange navigation elements or vague copy on the front page. Confusing your customer will not do you any good.

Are You Appealing?
Visiting a website for the first time is like going on the first date -- first impressions last. Is your website's look and feel something that will keep users engaged? Often, a complex layout with multiple ads, too much content, small fonts and ugly design is the number one reason customers do not stay.

Poor design is a sign of laziness and is a sign that companies have given more thought to what they want instead of what the customer wants. Visual appeal is rated higher than content, but only for first impressions. Later on, what matters is what is on the website.

First impressions last, this is true for all humans who meet face to face and for all websites. Make sure you give the best first impression you can by appealing to your customer's visual sense and making it easy to be recognized.

original article

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‘Coding is dead, automation the real deal’

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‘Coding is dead, automation the real deal’

 

 

If you’ve been spending years learning a programming language such as Java or .Net, there’s a message for you from your potential employers: “Coding is dead”.

Yes, coding as we know it, may not longer be relevant in the world taken over by machine learning and automation. “Coding is dead. I don’t need to do any native development anymore,” Nitin Rakesh, newly appointed CEO of IT services firm Mphasis, told BusinessLine.

‘Cloud first’

“Large public platforms such as AWS, Salesforce.com etc, are the ones where the future of all the development will be. If you talk to a bank, they are doing code writing on native Java, sitting on a Unix machine anymore. The simple view is to be cloud first, mobile first,” he said.

Billions of lines of open source codes are freely available for programmers, which can be reused the way we put Lego blocks together to create a building model.

Akhilesh Tuteja, Partner and National Head (Technology and BPM), at KPMG, says: “It is true the way we program today may not exist in the near future, as there’ll be more of reusable code that’ll be in play. However, you will require some level of programming knowledge to understand how to put these blocks together and make sense of them.”

Application platforms such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s Azure and IBM’s Watson, make it easy for engineers to build code in a rapid way by simply using existing pieces of code or simply a combination of multiple tools. Automation simplifies the task further by testing your code with the click of a button, which would’ve otherwise taken days to test.

“That’s why platforms become more important. Whether it is Java or .Net, it will be more configuration than coding. If you look at Node.JS, it is a script of Java. With that you’re not doing native coding but just using existing routines and put it together,” Rakesh said.

IT firms following suit

Mphasis is not the only company trying to change the way it trains its employees and see automation more important than native programming skills. Larger IT services companies such as TCS, Infosys and Wipro are also embarking on re-skilling lakhs of employees on digital technologies that train them on how to use agile methodologies, using more of reusable code to achieve the goals faster.

“If you look at delivery in digital, it is about design thinking, agile, rapid prototyping and everything that is fast and furious. The way we have designed our delivery so far is not fast and furious,” Patrick Nicolet, Group Executive Board member, Capgemini, had earlier told BusinessLine. Nicolet highlighted the importance of automation in order to survive in the current environment.

However, a world without the need of native coding skills does not mean we’ll not need programmers. The reuse of code will further help in reducing dependency on programming skills of individuals.

“The native coding capability will be required but people will need to understand how to reuse code rather than build it. That’s how you reduce your time to market by using existing code.

Our training would also have to align with the platform approach,” Rakesh said.

(This article was published on February 17, 2017)

 

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