Wordpress website experts based in the UK.

Website Design

Website design is a huge area online and we will try and cover some important topics in this website section including: things to consider when designing for the web, how to do certain things in web design and more.

 
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Website Design

Is the Concept of the Homepage Dead?

In this article, we will explore the concept of the homepage and the misconceptions around having a homepage.

In olden times, say 3-4 years ago, it was important to have a beautifully presented website ‘homepage’.

Effectively your online storefront, it was the equivalent to the main entrance to a physical store – it needed to be attractive and enticing enough to bring visitors through the doors in order to help you make sales.

Nowadays, with the improvements that Google (in particular) have made, every page is now a potential storefront for a website visitor. Let me say that again – every page is now a potential storefront.

Let’s explore this information further.

So, you’re reading this article – imagine (heaven forbid) that you’ve never heard of Showcase Web Development before and you’ve searched for something in a search engine like “website homepage best practice” and this article has come up.

You, as a virgin reader to my content land on this page and imagine – it’s poorly presented.

The content is great but it looks boring and doesn’t present Showcase in the best light.

Wouldn’t you say that this page is effectively a store front? Wouldn’t we have more chance of winning you over and you reading and liking our content with a well presented and enticing blog post page? But we’ve just said that’s what we want to achieve with our homepage correct…..?

That’s just one example.

Imagine searching for “contact web developers in Northampton” and, Google doing what Google does, shows our contact us page because Google understands that you are looking for the contact details for a web developer in Northampton.

Now, you’ve never heard of us and you click on our link.

The page is beautifully presented and attractive, you’re now much more likely to reach out and contact us.

You see where we are going with this?

No longer would Google just present a particular, pre-defined ‘default’ page which is commonly known as a ‘Homepage’. You now need to consider the impact that each and every page that a visitor could land on is making to that initiated visitor.

Now, granted there will be pages which perform better in search engines than others and generally these pages will have more visitors and so need more attention than others.

But I would hazard a guess that a significant amount of time these pages will be pages OTHER than your ‘homepage’.

Maybe there is a particular service that you offer that other competitors don’t, so the page which outlines the details of that service would show up and get more attention than other pages on the site. Or maybe there is a blog post or series of blogposts which is attracting a readership and so getting a lot of website attention.

 

The Most Important Pages on Your Website

Now, this is where understanding your website and its visitorship plays a massive part. There is a simple but under-used method to work out which pages are your key entry points for new visitors – and anyone that knows me will know what I am about to say – Google Analytics.

If you don’t know about Google Analytics by now, you should! I’ve written a whole article which just scratches the surface of it – but in a nutshell it is a free software released by Google (with a premium version available) to help you effectively track traffic to, from and around your website.

With Google Analytics, it’s very easy to work out which pages are attracting the most attention and interestingly also, which pages are considered ‘exit pages’ – pages which people are getting too and then leaving.

It’s just as important to identify and improve these pages to increase visitor retention and engagement.

 

How To Manage Your Website Effectively

It can be a daunting task to say – you need to improve the image and performance of each and every page on your website. Some websites are 100’s of pages big and this job would just be too mammoth to comprehend.

So, what can you do?

By identifying which pages are your key entry pages and your key exit pages, you know where to concentrate your energy and control the initial impressions your website is making to new visitors.

By doing this, you are effectively giving your online store a facelift and making sure it looks as good as possible to all visitors.

The entry and exit pages on your website will constantly evolve and change, so this will become an ongoing process, but with every iteration of improvements you will be improving the website’s impression for new visitors.

 

Your Checklist

  • Install Google Analytics on your website and work out how to identify your entry / exit pages.
  • Navigate to the URL for one of the pages in question
  • Ask the following questions:
    1. What are you seeing ‘above the fold‘? Is it drawing you into the page?
    2. Is the page answering the questions you would have navigated to the page for?
    3. How can you improve any of the above? Try split testing to see if the changes you’ve made are helping or hindering your progress.

 

Summary

Modern websites consider each and every page a homepage in terms of designing the look and feel of the page to maximize the positive impact to a potential new visitor.

Long gone are the days of having a specific homepage which takes all the focus from new visitors.

You need to understand which pages are important to your website and improve them – and that may mean improving the poorly performing pages too.

By doing this, you improve the chances of website conversion across your whole website and will inevitable increase the ROI from your website.

vector - image on an easel
Website Design

Essential Rules to Keep Your Logo Design Brilliant – Part 6 – Colours

This is part 6 of our mini series in logo design.

If you’ve missed part 5 and earlier parts, you can click here to be taken back to part 1.

This point can be broken down into some smaller points which each are individually important.

But colours as a whole are vitally important as they can help communicate the feelings, values and position of a business.

 

An Example – McDonalds

Historically, I think of the bright Red and Yellow signage of my local McDonalds when I was a child. I used to love all the bright colours and even now, if I think of McDonald’s, I think of the colour red.

However, walk into any McDonald’s store nowadays and you are presented with a totally different colour scheme consisting of Greys, Greens and Yellows.

Why is this?

Because McDonald’s are looking to promote a more eco-friendly, earthly brand image to reflect the current trends in public awareness.

The change has been subtle and rolled out over 7 years already, but it’s crucial to their continuing success. It’s communicating their values (commitment to the environment), their relevancy (changing with the times and fitting in with public focus) and understanding of what their customers want.

I’ll release a separate blog post about colours in logos in the future, but ensure you speak to your graphic designer about the colours which are relevant to the feelings you’d like to invoke in your target market.

 

Single / Multi Colour

There will often be occasions where your logo needs to be displayed either in 1 colour, monochrome or restricted colours (2 or 4 colours) and it’s important to make sure your logo still looks good in this format.

 

Inverse

Having your logo look great in inverse colours is important and can add an extra angle to your advertising.

If your logo which was mainly going to be presented one a white background, what would happen if you wanted it printed in a magazine on which had a black background?

It’s important to have more than one version of your logo and at least one of these should be inverse – so designed to HAVE a background. Here’s an example…..

Gradients

Gradients are rare nowadays and I think there is a variety of reasons for this.

First of all, trends have changed more recently to “blocky”, solid bright colours.

I think also that many people have had difficulties with gradient-laden designs and having them printed or embroidered AND they can even cause issues online too.

All in all, I would say that it’s a good idea to steer clear of gradients. (These are lessons we’ve had to learn the hard way ourselves, so I feel in a qualified position to provide this advice and be able to help gently guide people away from going down this route!)

 

Pantone

For those of you that don’t know, Pantone colours are a way of getting consistency between design and print, whether that be digital design or litho print (for instance).

We’ve all had it where our colour looks great on screen but when we print it (or receive an order from the printers), the colour is totally different!

That’s where pantone colours come in.

Understand the colours of your logo then look to obtain the Pantone references for them.

That way, whenever you go to print, you are able to provide these and ensure that your logo looks great and consistent across all forms of print and media.

 

Summary of the Importance of Colour in Logo Design

So, in summary, there are some crucial things to consider when having a logo designed.

We’ve briefly covered some elements here which will help steer you down the right track as to what to look out for and as a result, you are already in a much better position to help your graphic designer give you a relevant, accessible and well considered look and feel.

If you would like us to offer our thoughts, feelings and opinions on a design you have, or would like us to design a logo for you then please do get in touch.

I hope you’ve found this useful and I would welcome your comments!

vector - compass on a map with a cog
Website Design

Essential Rules to Keep Your Logo Design Brilliant – Part 5 – Orientation

This is part 5 in our logo design mini series.

If you missed part 4 on logo sizing, you can click here and catch up.

Again, I briefly touched on this earlier in the series, but I think that orientation should form a key part of your design considerations.

The reason for this is because landscape orientation lends itself well to certain scenarios, whilst a square (whilst in my opinion, the most versatile orientation) isn’t appropriate to any and all logos.

We ourselves have 2 versions of our logo, a landscape one for letterheads, our website etc and a square version for most other applications.

An Example – Sponsorship Boards for the Football Team

Imagine we wanted some sponsorship boards printed for our school football team.

We have a couple of boards which will be installed horizontally around the pitch.

Now, in this situation, the spectators are some distance from the boards that they can see, which are generally the other side of the pitch. So we would want to maximize the physical size of our logo.

So here you can see just how much more the landscape version of the logo would dominate the board (if you were going to just use the logo and no supporting imagery or text).

It’s a simple example to prove a point.

 

Logo Orientation Summary

It’s important to consider the potential applications of your logo and cater for these during the design process.

This gives you more bang for your buck and potentially delays any need for re-branding or further expense on getting extra designs commissioned further down the line.

The scope for potential applications for using your logo will come from your marketing plan, which will outline how you intend to reach your target market and so you can work out which orientation would be most suitable for you.

In Part 6, we will explore the importance of the colours in logo design, and the feelings and emotions they invoke to your potential customers.

vector - pen and pencil over a set-square
Website Design

Essential Rules to Keep Your Logo Design Brilliant – Part 4 – Size Matters

This is part 4 of our logo design concepts mini series and although we touched on this before with embroidery, it’s important to note that size matters!

If you’ve missed part 3, please revisit it so that this makes sense.

In our school example, the logo will be presented the most on small media such as jumpers, A4 print etc.

So we need to ensure that the text and images used are able to be rendered well on these media.

The jumpers, in theory could be embroidered or screen printed, which provides 2 different levels of detail which can be obtained, so this should certainly form part of your consideration.

Accessibility: Having text on a logo is something we’ve considered earlier on in the piece, and if you decide you want text – that’s great. You just need to be cautious of the text:logo proportions.

Having too small a proportion will make things more difficult for the elderly and/ or visually impaired.

You could argue that having an image only logo would present the same challenges, but simple and recognizable shapes are easier to interpret than text normally and will at very least provide ‘context’ to help people understand the text (even if they can’t read it).

A good example of this is the Apple logo – where the Apple image itself is recognizable worldwide, but the words itself are not quite as memorable.

 

In part 5, we will explore the importance of selecting the orientation of your logo carefully based upon your marketing plan.

vector - plane on a screen
Jargon Busting, Website Design

What is Above-the-Fold?

‘Above the fold’ is a phrase often banded about by marketeers and the concept is something very useful to each and every website owner.

Here we’ll explore the roots of the phrase and it’s meaning – as well as how it relates to modern day advertising.

Above the fold is a term which used to be associated with the printing industry. It refers to the part of a newspaper that you see when it is folded in half – which happened most when newspapers were too big to be held or distributed comfortably when unfolded.

This still happens on some newspapers such as The Times and the Independent…..which are considered ‘Broadsheet’ newspapers.

It is a valid and important advertising strategy to make sure that the headline and first words on the page we enticing enough to convince would-be purchasers to investigate the article further – by buying the paper.

Nowadays, the equivalent is what you see when a visitor loads your website on their screen.

The first thing they see without scrolling is what is considered ‘above the fold’ and is important to entice the user to investigate your website further.

As a general rule, you have 3 seconds to make an impact otherwise the user will press the back button (often to a search engine) and try the next entry in the list.

There is something of a debate raging at the moment as to what is ‘best practice’ to show above the fold.

More traditional digital marketers (if that can be considered a real statement) would suggest that some kind of attractive imagery with a call to action, and a headline outlining either the overall gist of what you do or your offering should be the standard practice when someone lands on your page.

Other noted digital marketers such as Chris Cardell are stating that the age of the slideshow or large banner is dead and that an informative and catchy headline plus the first paragraphs of your offer should be used, rather than ‘wasting’ your 3 seconds on some potentially pointless imagery.

Both arguments are valid, and it is a matter of opinion at the moment – although I’m sure both sides could come up with statistics to back up their point of view.

However, we believe that you need to understand that the point is that you have to:

  • understand that that the content you show ANYWHERE on your website is important and should be tracked and
  • that you need to understand your audience.

 

3 Essential Features You Need on Every Page

I think all sides would agree that the following checklist should be accessible from above the fold on ANY page on your website:

  1. Your Logo – so that users know they have landed on the correct site if coming as a referral from other media.
  2. Your contact details – so they can contact you straight away even on a poor connection. This often includes phone, email and social media. Physical address is usually visible in the footer or on the contact page – but of course, there are exceptions.
  3. A Call To Action – important for getting users to do something that you want straight away.

 

What About Above the Fold on Mobile Devices?

It is really important to consider in this day an age that mobile traffic (users visiting your website off mobiles and tablets) will see your website in a different way – because of the reduced size of the viewport.

This means that different elements of the design will be visible and will take up a totally different proportion of the screen – and this can affect the ‘above the fold’ content your visitors see.

It’s important to test your website on some mobile devices to ensure that the crucial elements of your above the fold content are visible and accessible to visitors who have landed on your website on a mobile device.

 

Above the Fold in Summary

Consider what your visitors are seeing when they first land on your web pages – and don’t just consider your homepage as the page they will land on.

It’s important that each page be interesting and attractive in order to compel your visitor to scroll down the page and hopefully be interested enough to interact with the page (share, bookmark or comment if available).

By ensuring that your pages are interesting above the fold, you can help increase the length of time visitors are on the page and potentially engagement – both of which can positively affect your Google ranking as pages which people are engaged with and interacting with are ranked more highly than those which are not.

vector - pen tool
General, Website Design

Essential Rules to Keep Your Logo Design Brilliant – Part 3 – Image/Text/Both

This post is part 3 of our logo design series.

I recommend you look at part 2 first so you know what elements we’ve already covered.

It’s very important for your brand to establish if you need a text only logo, an image only or a text and image logo very early on.

Some well-known brands such as Toyota, Louis Vuitton, Sony, Chanel have based their entire image on the fact that they have some well-designed lettering in their logo, or have a great ‘icon’ as their logo.

                

Having both text and image can be difficult in a logo as you come across layout issues – letter-headed paper or websites for example would often favour a ‘longer’ type logo layout than ‘square’ – whereas t-shirt printing and print media generally could go either way.

This leads me into my next pertinent point…

 

Media

You need to consider the media that your logo is likely to appear on.

There is a multitude of different types of media and it could be a consideration as to what types of media are important to your brand (in terms of marketing) and working out some design constraints from that.

 

An Example – School Advertising

Let’s put this into an example – imagine we have a school (or academy).

Advertising for schools is important – they don’t have big budgets generally and, although it’s not often the same type of advertising as a retail outlet for example, it is there to help reiterate the values of the school.

What I am trying to get at is that the media that this school’s logo is to appear on is limited. Without putting huge amounts of thought into it, the list I come up with is:

  • School building signage
  • School uniforms and clothing
  • School bags
  • School brochures

So, we have a couple of different types of media to consider here: Print (brochures, signage) and Embroidery (school bags, uniform).

Now, if we were never going to use this logo on embroidery, or embroidered clothing wasn’t part of our consideration, we could use tiny text and gradients.

Both of which are no-no’s in the world of embroidery – due to the physical constraints of being able to sew small enough.

Since we ARE going to be using it in this example, we need to ensure that the logo works well on embroidered clothing – as quite possibly our #2 consideration (after #1: the values communicated through the logo).

So our logo would need to ideally NOT contain any gradients, or if it does it needs to work well as a solid colour and it would need to not be too intricate.

This is just a simple example to understand that the media and your marketing plan play a huge part in the considerations of logo design.

In part 4, we’ll understand the reasons that size matters in logo design and continue this logo consideration mini series.

vector - guidelines coming out of a 't' shape
Website Design

Essential Rules to Keep Your Logo Design Brilliant – Part 2 – Meaning

This is the continuation of our mini-series of posts regarding logo design and the considerations around it.

If you missed Part 1, I would recommend going back and starting there.

For those of you continuing from Part 1, let’s explore the meaning behind logos…..

Meaning

It’s important to understand the purpose of a logo and harness its meaning.

A logo is a visual representation of the values and ambitions you have for the company, however those may manifest themselves. It is a way of unifying the company and building a connection with your customers.

An ultimate logo should be unique and should evoke a positive feeling with your consumers. The best way to do this is by incorporating a genuine and honest meaning into your logo that makes it truly your own.

An Example – Domino’s Pizza

Let’s take one of the most famous examples – Domino’s Pizza.

On the company’s about us page, it explains the meaning behind a crucial element of the logo:

The logo has context and everytime Tom Monaghan looked at the Domino’s logo, he must have been reminded of the purpose of his business and the goals he had for it.

Nowadays, the Dominos logo is instantly recognizable and has become a household brand identity, effectively communicating the business and everything it stands for into houses across the world.

You need to make sure that the message you are sending out to people is the one you actually want to convey, so some serious thought and consideration need to be put into how others can interpret your logo.

 

Hidden Meanings – FedEx and Amazon

An example for a hidden meaning behind a logo is the example of FedEx.

If you look closely – you’ll actually notice that there is a hidden arrow between the ‘Ex’ of the logo. This represents the forward-thinking attitude of the company and their values.

This is another way to incorporate more depth to your logo and its representation.

 

Another company that has a ‘hidden’ meaning is Amazon.

See if you can spot the extra layer of meaning just by looking at the logo.

You’ll see that there is an arrow pointing from the ‘A’ to the ‘Z’ – this is Amazon’s way of telling its customers that it has a whole, diverse range of products ranging from A to Z!

 

An Unfortunate Example

Now, you can tell the business owner must have been a little naïve when he commissioned this design because, if I now add the company name back in….

This is a genuine example of misinterpretation (or a graphic designer’s in-joke) and you can read the full story here.

 

Summary of Logo Meaning

You will have to see your logo a LOT over the course of your venture, and it’s a good idea to take some time to settle on a design that means something to you – and will continue to mean something to you in the future.

Get the opinions of friends and family as they will offer a good sounding board and may even have different interpretations of your logo.

In part 3 we’ll be looking at some different types of logo.

vector - blocks stacked
General, Website Design

Essential Rules to Keep Your Logo Design Brilliant

We all see logos hundreds of times a day.

Whether it be a logo that represents a brand or business, or an event or even a person – logo’s are everywhere.

Logos are hugely important in marketing and a poorly designed logo can cost £1000’s or even millions to rectify, in terms of both the actual design and communicating the design change to your target market(s).

 

What makes a great logo?

I would describe a logo as a visual representation of the company, presented in such a way as to be understood and remembered.

Without a logo, people don’t have a visual point of reference for you or your business and it’s important that you provide them with that.

It’s an opportunity to be remembered and also to communicate subliminally what your business is about – in terms of it’s purpose and the experience it’s offering to it’s customers.

Have a look at the following logos and see if you can work out what the company offers and see if you can imagine what the customer experience of that company would be like…..

Easy huh?

I would say each of these brands clearly communicates the experience I would expect to get from them – some in a more obvious way than others (Thomson for instance).

The Vans logo deliberately looks a little ‘old skool’ – because their brand is all about nostalgia and being ‘classic.’

Fun Kids and the Georgia National Fair both are fun, bright and interesting – just like their fairs.

Rolex is a more ‘refined’ look and the colours relate the ‘the gentry’ and wealth.

The Cadbury logo is actually depicting the stirring of a chocolate pot but has been overlaid with the purple colour that is now associated with the company (especially after the drumming Gorilla advertising campaign).

The Thomson logo actually depicts the journey of a would-be passenger as well as a smiling/ winking face.

 

So why do some people get it all wrong?

There is a variety of reasons that people get logo design wrong, and it’s really easy to mess up!

There are a lot of considerations to think about and even more interpretations from others all around the world.

Sometimes business owners get emotionally attached to logos during the design phase, which is great if it’s a good concept, but terrible if it’s flawed.

It’s difficult to narrow down, but we’ve compiled a number of points we use as a reference when we design logos, and thought we’d share this valuable information with you to help you through this tricky design process.

We’ll continue in Part 2 of this series by exploring the meaning behind a logo and understanding how important that is to the success or failure of the design.

See you there!

vector - mobile with some random symbols behind it
General, Website Design

Responsive Media Queries for iPhones and iPads only

I had a bit of a bug with this website when I was creating it – basically we wanted to disable our homepage video on mobile devices because of bandwidth issues and wanting to keep the site as fast as possible. However, we still wanted to show the video on small desktop screens – which ruled out the use of basic media queries.

I asked the web development community for their thoughts on the matter, and was advised to have a look at this article, by Stephen Gilbert – which outlines the lengths Apple have been going to in order to provide a consistent experience across their devices- with regards to making it easier for developers too.

The Article outlines some queries which target iPhones and iPads across all generations and makes it simple to directly target these devices and their users.

Don’t know what media queries are? We will be releasing an article shortly with some more information on what they are and how they can benefit you.