Well, it’s been a while since we’ve posted any content to the Blog, and this is due to a very good problem to have: we are bursting-at-the-seams busy. So much that we have added two more designers to our team.
We must be doing something right to be expanding in an ecomomy that is this flat. But, the new hires do add even more inturruptions to the normally scheduled chaos. So how do we cope?
Depending on skill level, we assign the easier content updates to them to get them more versed in our working style. And then when I run out of work that is appropriate, I will have them investigate/critique websites and write up a quick analysis of what is lacking in both areas of design and in the way the site is marketed.
This method of homework is valuable to designers that are moving into the web world to help ensure that they not only design in our style of sites, but also that they think about the message behind the site in a similar manner. Designing is half about the thinking that goes into the design.
If your designer is not thinking about how the audience is going to interpret the message then in some respects they are not really designing, they are just layout artists. Both can be usefull, but for our design managers to be able to see the light of day we need our design staff to be self sufficient with this side of the job as well.
More to come…
Most website users today -no scratch that, everyone is moving to fast to take the time to casually stroll through your website. Not at least until you’ve convinced them that it’s worth their while. This means that in the top 768 pixels (browser navigation bar included) you had better make your stand and show them why you are worth more than just window shopping.
So look at your website and at what important aspects are above fold. Are you showcasing large attractive imagery that speaks to your audience? Are there unimportant taglines or obvious statements - why are they on your page? You have about 10 seconds (being very generous) to entice most visitors to read/skim on. Expect that of your home page content maybe 3-4 sentences will be read, so make sure that your designer is taking the most important tag lines and highlighting it bold and at least 5 font sizes bigger than your body text.
For your internal pages it is not quite as important. For example, visitors who’ve reached your About us page or your blog are probably interested enough to spend some time actaully reading. But for pages like a protfolio or other gallery focused page it is still important to see where the page breaks in the 1024 x 768 pixel arena to make sure that the page is delivered in a user friendly manner.
Would you rather bombard your customers with everything available to them and make them scroll to find the part that they are interested in, or would you rather get them focused on the best specific offering(s) that you have.
Less is more. The only thing your website really has to do is entice people through the use of strong photos and headlines (just like the dinosaurs of the newspaper industry have know for decades). Your business or organization likely has a niche -something you do really well that your audience would be ready to sign up for if only they knew about it.
You just need to help them get the ‘picture’ (not the text)
OK, this is not my original content, but the concepts presented are part and parcel to the discovery phase questions that we try to go through with every client to ensure that their website is created with the correct voice to the message presented to the right audience.
This came through my SitePro News email subscription which is generally pretty basic information, but every once-in-a-while they strike gold:
What Do You Know About Your Clients and Prospects State of Mind?
When visitors land on your website, they have very little time to read what you say. They have a need for information or a product and don’t want to listen or read verbose descriptions and comments. You have about 8 seconds to engage them and get them to take action.
Do most visitors land on your website wanting:
2) A “quick fix”,
3) A bargain,
4) A large selection,
5) Or a telephone call, etc.?
It is imperative to know the answers to these and many other questions BEFORE you design the pages within your website.
Do You Make Website Visitors Feel You Can Satisfy Their Wants and Needs?
Landing on any page within your website [especially the Homepage] must make the visitor know that you understand their needs, business, wants, and desires. The more you put yourself into the “mindset” of the website visitor, the better chance you have of converting their visit into something you want to happen i.e. buy, complete a contact us form, bookmark the page, pick up the phone and call you or any other method of measurable conversion.
What Approach Do You Take When Developing Pages Within Your Website?
What do you think you would want from your website if you were the prospective visitor or client? Assume you don’t know as much information as you want in order to make an informed decision. Talk to these visitors in a language they will understand. If visitors want more insight or information, tell them to click on the more info link or give you a call. They will follow your direction ONLY if you have built some level of trust or understanding.
What are You “Selling” to the Website Visitor?
Are you focused on telling them about your product or ervice or are you making them understand that choosing your firm will deliver that special feeling they are seeking by making the purchase? Are you sure that you made the visitor know that you understand their needs, wants, problems, etc.? What techniques did you implement to get your points across?
How are You Going to Get the Visitor to Stop and Think About Your Service or Product?
Remember… they are ready to pass by your website in a blink of an eye. What are you going to do to engage them? The answer you come up with will be critical to the success you have in gaining their confidence enough to buy or call you. Make sure what you say is NOT the same old thing they are used to seeing or reading on other websites. Be boring and you lose! Address the issues that appeal to the visitor and they WILL STOP! This is hard work… but worth the effort.
What Kind of “Call to Action” Statements are You Placing on Your Website?
Turning a visitor into a prospect or client is one of the most critical actions of your website. How will you engage them? Once they know that you understand their needs and wants, they are more inclined to follow your CTA direction. Call to Action statements are critical to the success of any website’s conversion. Guide them in a manner that is more telling, rather than selling. Don’t be afraid to be assertive.
How Does Your Website Address the “Who Are We” Issue?
Again, it is about making the website visitor feel confident that they are choosing a reputable firm or organization with which to do business. They need to read about your success. This can be done by exhibiting your affiliation with associations, awards won, satisfied client statements, client success stories, examples of your work, etc. Show them you are a “player” in your industry.
Are You Prepared to Answer: “What Makes You Different”?
What have clients and prospects said about you and your company? Have they applauded you for your approach to doing business? Did they say you made them feel like you understood their needs and wants? Think back to the reasons clients buy from you. How did you meet their needs and wants? Give your prospective clients reasons to do business with your firm.
A final thought…
Make it your primary goal to understand the potential client. Look at your website through that client’s perspective. Who are they? What makes them different? What do they individually want and need? Be informative… do more telling than selling. They will “get it” and appreciate that you have made them an educated buyer. Finally, tell them what you want them to do next. Get them to take the first step and be ready to deliver on the expectations you have set throughout your website!
Finally, be sure to hire Internet marketing professionals to do the job if you don’t have the capabilities in-house. Too much is at stake to leave this part of your business to chance! We are pleased to provide you the insightful comments contained herein.
(By: Internet Consulting And Coaching, Inc.)
So, in conclusion; no matter who you have create your website, be sure that these concepts are being addressed at your initial discovery meeting. because it defeats the purpose to have a great website design that doesn’t cause people to act on the information you are providing. Just like having a site that gets the message across without presenting it in a professional and exciting way. Good website design needs both the sophisticated design and thought process to seperate you from the millions of other distractions online.
I have found that no matter how ergonomic your mouse is or how many levels of sensitivity one’s stylus has, there is nothing to make your work go faster than good use of keyboard shortcuts. So I thought it might be useful for me to present some of the lesser know Photoshop shortcuts for your review.
First and foremost, the simple ‘tool switch’ shortcuts are the most essential in my process and these are also the ones that I never see my designers using. This allows you to skip the mouse moving over to the needed tool and back to the canvas. I recommend printing them off and having them next to your screen until you’ve internalized them.
The Tools Are:
‘M’ - Marque Tools
‘V’ - Move
‘L’ - Lasso Tools
‘W’ - Magic Wand
‘K’ - Slice Tools
‘J’ - Healing brush Tools
‘B’ - Brush Tools
‘S’ - Stamp Tools
‘Y’ – History Brush Tools
‘E’ – Eraser Tools
‘G’ - Paint Bucket/Gradient
‘R’ – Smudge/Sharpen/Blur
‘O’ – Burn/Dodge/Sponge
‘A’ – Path Selection
‘T’ – Text Tools
‘P’ – Pen Tools
‘U’ – Shape Tools
‘N’ – Notes Tools
‘I’ – Eye-dropper Tools
‘H’ – Hand (temp shortcut – Spacebar)
‘Z’ – Zoom
Additionally, any tool can be easily switched with the next in it’s series by holding the ‘alt’ key and clicking the tool. And of course, the spacebar temporary hand tool is essential for moving the document while using a different tool as well as all of the functionality of the ‘shift’ and ‘alt’ keys within nearly every tool and function in the program, if you are unfamiliar with these, just try it, that is what undo is for.
- Happy designing.