Las Vegas Web Design & Marketing Insights

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We had the privilege of sitting with author, speaker and digital marketing extraordinaire Kellen Kautzman. Kellen has spoken at Roseman University, Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino, & The Real Estate Investment Summit Podcast. In this podcast interview, Kellen shares valuable online marketing tips and expertise for business owners on common issues such as: Which Online Marketing Avenue is Right for My Business The Recommended Digital Marketing Process from Conception to Results The Choice Avenue That Will Yield the Most Return for Business Owners Different Internet Marketing Approaches for Education & Law Firms How to Differentiate a Legitimate Experienced Leader that Can Help You Grow vs an Amateur Some Tell-Tale Signs an Organization is Ready for Digital Marketing Efforts Kellen also shares some helpful links and resources that are crucial for starting the online marketing process.
We had the privilege of sitting with author, speaker and entrepreneur Shaundell Newsome, Founder of the SBA Award Winning Family Owned Business of the Year Sumnu Marketing, Creator of the 12 Steps of Marketing, US Airforce Veteran, and Board Member on the Las Vegas Urban Chamber of Commerce. In this podcast interview, Shaundell shares valuable marketing tips and expertise for business owners on common issues such as: The Proven Approach to Marketing How Business Owners Should Approach Marketing Efforts What Business Owners Should Know from a Marketing Expert Common Misconceptions Such as, “I Don’t Have the Time or Budget for Marketing” Steps Business Owners Can Take at Their Early, Mid, and Mature Stages to see Profitable Growth Short Term and Long Term How Companies Know Where to Start and How to Differentiate Who is a Legitimate Experienced Leader that can Help Them Grow Some Tell-Tale Signs an Organization is Ready to Bring on a Marketing Consultant Shaundell also shares some upcoming events and projects on his agenda and tools soon to be launched that will dramatically help business owners with their marketing efforts.
2017 Seems to be the year to buck norms. Established web design trends are being overturned for a preference on visuals in spite of logic. Designers are heeding to the proven stats on video and custom branding and challenging developers this year with complex design that is not always mobile friendly. Taken to extremes, this could result in an inconsistent user experience across devices as some design elements would only appear on certain devices. In the long run, this sort of complex trend-bucking design could be the motivation software developers need to continue modernizing powerful and smart technology. Let’s take a look at what to expect this year. Cinematography Cinematography can be either videos, GIFs or still photos with repeated animation that run on a continuous loop. This is a fairly simple way to add engagement to a static page and hold interest for more than a couple seconds. High quality cinemagraphs can be found at Flixel. And if done right, they can be lighter than a heavy video file. In A/B testing, Turnstyle compared the effectiveness of a cinemagraph versus a still image on their homepage. It resulted in a 20% increase in new visitor conversions, which hints at the power of cinemagraphs. Virtual Reality & 360 Video Gamers had a heavy influence on VR as it’s common in the video game industry, yet fairly new to commercial web design. 360 Video allows for a walk through of a campus or office tour and significantly increases web engagement. We’ll continue to see more VR software emerge, but the most popular include Google’s VR View. We also like krpano. Companies with aggressive marketing goals should implement this tactic early while it’s relatively new and impressive. Asymmetry Another web design trend bucked. Interesting visuals are becoming dominant this year without regard to “pretty.” This results in content not equally balanced on the left and right sides. Duotone Gradients Bright duotone gradients are a great way to add visual appeal to an otherwise unimpressive image. Most styles are using just 2 color options, but it can be done in a kaleidoscope of ways. Spotify has already implemented this trend to attract and appeal to a youthful audience. Unique Navigation Original navigation doesn’t always make the best user experience, but if done well, it can leave a unique lasting impression. It’s a risk, but designing for a unique header menu or uncommon way to navigate through the site can set the company up as a thought leader. If done poorly, it can simply frustrate the user when they can’t quickly find content. Micro-interactions These are the smaller details of web interaction such as mouse hover animations, scrolling effects and click features. They are a highly effective but overlooked tool to improve user experience. In 2017, designers are spending more time on micro-interactions and putting thought into the end ux. Geometrics Geometric lines, shapes and patterns are in stark contrast to the flat design styles we’ve seen the past 2 years. Photos are being cropped to fit inside interesting shapes and designers are thinking outside the box – ahem, square. Check out how we utilized this trend for Nevada STEM Mentor Network. Grid/Modular Layout We’ve seen a lot of grid patterns this year used as a frame that supports content. Though it’s not a new concept (think Pinterest), it has gained popularity recently. The simplicity and organization benefits of this trend make it increasingly popular. It can be especially useful for showcasing portfolio pieces, the way NASA has done. In spite of being logical and at the risk of being incomprehensible to the audience, many of the design trends of 2017 are taking a leap. But they look promising and without a doubt continue to intrigue us with striking visuals. Remember, you don’t have to redesign for a trend just because it’s popular. But we do recommend a redesign every 2-3 years to stay relevant. Regardless, we’re continuing on the path of personalization and making the web more intuitive like the human experience. Customization is becoming the norm and that’s a great thing.
Last week my husband and I dropped off family at McCarran airport and on the way back to the parking deck, I stopped cold in my tracks in unbelief and disappointment for Las Vegas marketing when I saw this blurry, pixelated attempt at advertising: Most locals walk past these advertisements daily without a second thought. And that’s a problem. Poor, outdated presence has become part of Las Vegas cheese. But as owner of a digital marketing agency, my heart is for design, presence and first impressions. And when I saw a multi-million dollar Strip hotel casino with a faded, blurry and flat out ugly wall banner that looked like it had been there since the airport was constructed, it confirmed for me that Las Vegas has an online culture problem. We have come to love this community, its people and the organizations that make it up, so we hate to see beautiful places like this present themselves as less than. So let me tell you a bit about why this strikes a chord with me: I grew up an hour south of Cleveland, OH with a work ethic and a strive for excellence and quality. Many parts of northeast Ohio are rural and I suppose the culture carries its farmer roots when it comes to work principles. It’s not unusual to see people who still live in their 1800’s well-kept family home. Buildings don’t fall apart after 10 years, jobs aren’t finished until the customer is happy, and business websites are modern and up to date. Companies understand the importance of quality representation online. Let me give you an example from a small winery in Hartville, OH called Maize Valley. This is a tiny local winery off State Route 619 that you finally arrive at once you pass fields upon fields of corn (hence the name). They’re not famous, and their wine isn’t the best you’ve ever tasted, but you would never know that by their presence online. Maize Valley sits on beautiful land and they know it. So what do they naturally show off on their website? The very thing that makes them great! (And in a modern, high quality way might I add). Las Vegas is a much younger culture than those closer to the East coast and it has settled and become comfortable with an outdated online presence. The 1990’s still dominate this region’s graphics, usability, look and feel. It’s embarrassing. I could ruthlessly list outdated website after website, posts, banners, and endless advertisements I’ve encountered since relocating that I would be too ashamed to put my name on and label “finished work.” We’re talking serious, established, legitimate companies that anyone would be (unpleasantly) surprised to land upon. It just doesn’t match up. There is no consistent experience. But there will be no name and shaming. Instead, we’re looking to shape the culture in Las Vegas and bring a modern, high quality standard through our agency. Las Vegas is a leader in tourism, entertainment and attractions and every business here should reflect that on every front. Las Vegas should lead online. Here is a prime example of what that looks like: Below is the old, “before” screen shot of Nevada NASA Programs, a division of Nevada System of Higher Education at UNLV. It was a typical, unimpressive, outdated website. Every state offers NASA Programs, but we wanted Nevada to be the leader and the best so that when other states check them out, they’re absolutely floored. And so we did. This is the new face of Nevada NASA Programs and you can believe other state programs are talking. I highly encourage you to check out their live site as it’s even better than the screen shot (spoiler: the 3D effects are awesome!) The technology exists. We know how to use it and wield it for good. Your company website should be your hardest working, best looking employee on staff. We’re here to introduce Nevada to twenty-first century modern web design.
Web design trends change every year, and as website designers, it’s crucial to know what trends are popular so you can stay ahead of your competition and meet your clients’ needs. Remember, “trend” doesn’t necessarily mean “new,” just popular. But before we take a look at what’s gaining attention, let’s first look at the web design trends of 2015, as many of them are being refined and will reemerge this year with a new face. Responsive Design Video Infinite Scrolling Typography Minimalism Flat Design Some of these trends have been replaced, while others have evolved and improved as web designers equip better technology. Many refined processes will become the standard norm this year. Now let’s take a look at what to keep an eye out for in 2016: Mobile Responsive Web Design We just tipped the scales last year when Google announced more search inquiries are being conducted through mobile devices than on desktop computers. In the United States alone, 94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones. What’s more is that Google announced it will give higher ranks to responsive websites (that is, websites that pass Google’s standards for mobile friendly viewing). So that means avoiding any content that requires Adobe’s Flash Player, ensuring the website is readable without zooming, and separating content with white space so links can easily be clicked. And for those of you still a little confused about how responsive design differs from dynamic serving or having a separate mobile URL version of your website, remember this: Responsive web design serves the same HTML code on the same URL regardless of the users’ device (desktop, tablet, mobile, non-visual browser), but can render the display differently, or “respond” based on the screen size. Responsive design has a focus on the mobile user’s experience. Certain desktop features become hidden when viewed from a mobile device, allowing for clean minimalism. Images, buttons and menus are all designed with the mobile user experience in mind. These elements adjust and “respond” depending on the screen size and type. Unsure if your website is responsive? You can check it here. User Experience (UX) The overwhelming majority of visitors are less likely to revisit a website if they had a bad user experience. So trends will continue following the best practices for UX and mobile. These 2 forces are center stage and are driving web design trends toward an uncluttered user interface. Consumers expect companies to fulfill their needs in real-time. So any web design practice that reduces page load time will be favored as more and more users opt to view websites from mobile devices. The overwhelming majority of visitors are less likely to revisit a website if they had a bad user experience Not only will web design cater to the mobile viewing experience, but the mobile user experience as well. Designers are now considering elements as they never have before such as the amount of pressure necessary and the use of various touch gestures like 2 finger tap, swipe, or finger spread to perform actions. Video Integration The use of video is becoming more impressive as developers learn to integrate it into a design with animation. Use it to show off a product on your website or in a tutorial of how to use your new app. Both uses enhance the user’s experience. Typography Handwritten script has emerged this year as a popular web design trend. The personal touch that handwritten typography adds can make a company stand head and shoulders above the competition. The only caution with implementing this trend is legibility on small screens. One solution would be to display typography based on screen resolution. High-res screens would showcase more elaborate typography whereas lower resolution screens would revert to a more legible font. Card Style Layout This web design trend is popping up EVERYWHERE. It stemmed from using more images and less text to navigate the user. (Oh, and Pinterest helped a little, too.) Now it’s used to showcase portfolio pieces, blog articles, services, products and any content you can slap an image over. Simple marketing tells us people process visuals faster and consumers would rather look at an image than read text. The only drawback is balancing text rich SEO and delivering a pleasant user experience. Search engines index text but it’s more important to target your user. When in doubt, always cater to the human experience. If you’re using lots of images on your homepage, just be sure to compensate by giving search engines plenty of text rich content in your sub pages. Marketing tells us people process visuals faster and consumers prefer to look at an image than read text Of course, the most popular trend is not always the best solution, so don’t stray from a classic design trend if it converts and works well for you. What emerging web design trends have you noticed this year? How do you believe they will evolve in 2017? State your opinions and forecasts in the comments below.
It seemed last year many of our readers had the same questions about websites that kept coming up. So for convenience’s sake, we’ve compiled them neatly right here. Take a look and see if one of your questions topped our list of FAQs: 1. Why Does It Cost So Much? This most frequently asked question opens the golden gate of opportunity for us to explain precisely what the value of your website is. In a previous article on the cost of a website, I likened your website to an employee for your business. Your company’s website is working for you 24/7, without ever needing a break. It sells for you while you’re sleeping, and it’s a constant advertisement/promoter/educator for your products and services. So if you paid $20,000 for your website, that means after 2 years you have paid your website “employee” $10,000 per year. That’s an hourly wage of $1.14! Whatever the cost of your company website (and you should expect it to be at least $15k if working with an agency), you can be sure that it will quickly pay for itself and its value greatly outweighs the initial cost. Want further insight on what other agencies charge? Let a global digital agency expert, Karl Sakas, give you his weigh-in. 2. Can’t You Just Build on the Website I Already Have? Do I Need to Start From Scratch? I hate this question because no matter how thoroughly we explain why a prospect’s current website isn’t usable, many clients still come away feeling slighted as if dealing with sleazy auto mechanics pushing to sell them a manual clutch for their automatic car. I addressed this issue in Before You Hire a Web Developer as a caution to clients. Just like you need the keys and title to a car before you can make any changes to it, your web agency also requires a few things in order to touch your website: FTP / SFTP Access Admin Log in Credentials Proof Of Domain Ownership If you rent or lease your site, we do not have the legal right to make changes to it and therefore need to build a new website from the ground, up. Also, if it’s been coded in a custom framework such as a privately licensed shopping cart, it’s on lock down. Try translating Japanese into English after only taking a year’s worth of education in that foreign language. That’s why we use and recommend open source code (like WordPress). 3. Why Should I Switch to WordPress? Our favorite reason? No monthly on going maintenance fee to install and run it on your website. WordPress has become the world’s most popular content management system (CMS), with over 24% of websites powered by it. That means naturally there are more themes, plug-ins and tech support than any other CMS out there. It’s also the most user friendly. More and more entrepreneurs want to learn how to maintain their own website, and there’s no better platform than WordPress. It’s intuitive, simple and many features require little to no coding. We could go on and on, but I suggest you read the following article on how your business can use WordPress. 4. Isn’t There a Plug-in for That? As easy as that would make our job, the answer is not always, “Yes.” Even with thousands of plug-in options that exist for WordPress, a lot of times a client needs a custom function that an already existing plug-in won’t solve. Also be careful of installing too many plug-ins as they increase the load time of your website and often cause bugs because one plug-in is not compatible with another. They don’t always play nice together. 5. Can You Teach Me How to Maintain My Own Website? We sure can. We believe basic website maintenance is becoming the norm of the future, so when we hand over your finished site, we also equip you with the knowledge of how to keep it up to date (unless of course you don’t want to learn, in which case we will maintain it for you. We’re fine with that, too.) With us, training comes standard. 6. Why Do I Need an Advanced SEO Package? Though we build your website around keywords from the very beginning and optimize it for local search and quick page load time, that is no replacement for a strategic search engine marketing plan. We work with an SEO specialist who lives, breathes and sleeps SEO the way we obsess over the strategy, design and development of your website. Once the design of your site both wows and funnels users into sales and conversion, the next step of attack is to be found first above your competitors and in front of your audience. This involves investing some marketing dollars, but with SEO as the future of business marketing, you can’t afford not to. A good SEO specialist will gain you quality links, mobile search optimization, and integration with social media among many, many other factors. Don’t just take our word for it. Read for yourself. 7. Does It Really Matter Where I Host My Website? Yes! There are free and cheap web hosts that lead to banner ads and downtime on your site as well as slow load times. You can also use your own virtual private server (VPS) if you know what you’re doing, but if your website goes down (think 404 error), you are responsible for fixing it. Quality hosts, on the other hand, guarantee website up time by managing the server, fixing bugs, and security for you. And as your website sees spikes in traffic, a quality host will manage the changes for you automatically. You can read more here about the differences in web hosting. Got a question for us we didn’t answer? Feel free to email us or leave a comment in the section below.
I really feel for those clients that come to us as their second or even third source, after getting burned by hiring previous agencies or web developers. Those clients usually present us with a half finished, semi-functional website and want to know if we can pick up where their last hire left off. As much as we want to say, “YES!” sometimes we’re forced to explain that they need to start over from scratch because their unfinished website is on lock down and therefore inaccessible. And this is AFTER they have invested money, only to realize they do not own their own website and they do not have access to change any content or make updates to their site. So, before you hire an agency for your company website, here’s a checklist of some important terms that need to be set in stone: 1. You Own Your Content A reputable marketing agency will create a contract with you from the very beginning before any work is done protecting your rights to your deliverables. That way, once it’s complete the way you want, you own ALL content and have 100% access to it. Plus, you don’t ever have to worry about that agency going out of business because you can take your website anywhere and give them the log in credentials so they can make changes to it. This is so important because your company’s website is your store front online. It represents your company and therefore you should be the one making changes and updates to reflect your business. If someone else owns the content, you will be paying each and every time you need to contact them to make a change. You’re also relying on them to do it promptly, and you probably won’t rank high on their priority list. So it’s best to outline who owns the content and accessibility to it from the beginning. 2. Use Open Source Software Want to know a dirty little secret? A lot of web developers create job security for themselves by programming your small business website in their own custom coding, meaning they are the only ones who can make changes to it. You hate the idea of starting over and paying to hire a new agency to create a brand new website for you, so you keep coming back. But the truth is, a good agency will code your website using open source software that anyone can make changes to like WordPress (our favorite!), Joomla, Drupal, and Magento. If your developer isn’t willing to program in open source, that should be a red flag that you are being trapped into working solely with them with no option of moving your website to another agency if you become unhappy. 3. Budget for Growth A $500 website can be tempting, especially after all the costs you have already invested in your company. But a lot of people don’t understand the difference in website costs and often get trapped into a low level cost that ends up costing more money in the long run to fix. For example, often times the upfront cost of a site is cheap because the developer offers no custom programming. You get whatever the preset theme is capable of, nothing more. Then unfortunately, when your company grows and you need to make changes and updates to your site, you can’t. Suddenly need blogging ability? Too bad. Need your company site to sell your products online? Oh well. You get what you pay for. Don’t let your website limit your company’s growth. Try and budget for an agency that can expand your company’s online marketing capabilities as you need them. 4. You Own Your Domain Name & Web Hosting Do not allow any company to put themselves as owners of your domain name. This means you cannot take it with you and you cannot control it. It’s perfectly acceptable to pay the agency to acquire and set up the domain name for you, but be sure you are listed as the owner. Likewise, it’s typical to have your agency set up web hosting on your behalf as they may better know what your site requires such as the hosting platform, memory requirements and storage capacity. But make sure that the hosting is done at a third party provider (we like Flywheel), it is purchased under your own name, using your own billing details and that you have full access to all of the account administration and files. The contract should be clear that you own your own hosting and all hosted files. Having control of your company’s website is key in saving money in the long run. By ensuring these points are hammered out in a contract from the beginning, it will protect you from the cost of having to start over if you become unhappy with your web developer. It will also protect you from the anxiety of paying for a new website once your small business grows, as well as the fear of losing control of your site if your developer goes out of business. Have any questions for us on how to move forward after a bad web developer experience? Shoot us an email or comment below. We would love to hear your story.
2014 introduced a lot of new technology and evolution in the web world, much of which will become a staple in this year’s marketing and design. We at Vegas Website Designs pride ourselves on delivering the latest user experience and want to keep you informed of the top web design trends for 2015. Resolved to improving your online presence this new year? Take a look below to gain some insight as to what to budget for when revamping your website. Responsive Design I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: for those companies still lacking a website that functions on mobile devices, you are missing an entire world of opportunity! There will be 2 billion smartphone users by 2015. The concept of responsive design was pushed at us back in 2012 as mobile users multiplied, but if you don’t implement this web design trend in the coming year, there is a real probability you could start to see a decline in profits. This design trend isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s growing. A shocking stat from ONE shares that more people have access to a mobile phone than a toilet! What’s more is that 3/4 of those mobile users in the U.S. admit to taking their devices with them in the bathroom. So if you want unlimited access to your customers, taking advantage of responsive design will certainly get you there. The Rise of Video Make friends with this valuable content tool this year by incorporating video into your business website. With customers wanting to spend less time making a decision, implementing video tutorials and how-to’s certainly speed up that process. Another great way to make the most of video content is to use it to tell your story. Visual content is one of the highest effective methods when it comes to customer engagement, so creating a video about your company that shows off its standards, processes, or kick-ass office space is an excellent way for customers to relate to you. Another fascinating way this web design trend is being used in 2015 is through HTML5 video. Instead of having a static background image on your site’s main page, an embedded video runs in the background, grabbing your customer’s interest from the start. And the longer a customer stays on your site, the more invested they become. Plus, it gives your business a modern, high tech vibe that gives you a leg up over your competitor. Infinite Scrolling Users like to scroll. And it’s easier for customers to get all their information on one page than to click around trying to find it. We’re already familiar with this concept because of social media pages like Twitter and Facebook, so users have come to expect it. And with more and more websites opting for a one page design, fear of poor SEO ranking is dying. Typography Large, unique typography has become standard. With the endless possibilities of typography design out there, there is no reason a business can’t be personally branded. When coupled with a large size, your unique typography will make a statement that can’t be missed. So make sure the most important information is captured using this technique. Simplification Everything you need, nothing you don’t. That’s the design mantra websites are taking on this year, mainly driven by the small screen sizes of mobile devices. There is no longer room for fancy bells and whistles if you’re trying to convey what’s most important on a handheld screen. Removing non-essential design elements will give your website a cleaner, more functional look that will certainly be favored in 2015. And because smartphones aren’t going extinct any time soon, it’s a good idea to slim down your company’s website now and opt for simplicity. Many of this year’s web design trends are reinforced from last year, but have increased importance as consumers change their shopping methods. What are some of the design trends you have noticed moving toward 2015? If you implemented any of these into your website, what changes have you noticed? Feel free to join the conversation and comment below.
“If you really want to wound a man, hit him in the pocketbook!” The term “tithing” has a way of making a lot of people uncomfortable. Just talking about finances is considered tacky. It’s either shrugged off as a practice reserved for the religious or it can make someone feel judged. But as business owners having gone through the process of giving away zilch to faithfully committing 10% of all our gross income, we have experienced the gambit of emotions that accompany parting ways with our hard-earned profits. I remember when we first began attending church regularly and before each sermon there would be a call to tithe, that is to give 10% of your income to the church. For a long while, we felt this didn’t apply to us and we would be satisfied donating $5 or $10 into the offering basket, having accomplished our good deed of giving. But the more we attended, the more we began hearing sermons on the importance of tithing, which began peaking my curiosity. I was under the impression that practice was done away with and reserved for the Old Testament as an old law. How relevant was it today, anyway? And certainly God would not expect us to just give away hundreds of dollars of our income each month; how could we live?! God is so patient. He tells us in Malachi to test Him in our giving: “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'” -Malachi 3:10 So in part faith and part curiosity, we started to write larger tithe checks made out to our local church. They were not 10% of our income, and they were not regular. But the funny thing is that we always seemed to have just enough at the end of each pay, when before we usually fell short before Friday. This did not go unnoticed. In larger (and more dangerous) faith, we gave more and worked our way up to regular giving of 10% of our net income. It’s a scary place to be when you first begin to release those funds and are forced to trust God at His word. It takes a few wins under your belt to start believing He will supply everything you need, especially when the numbers don’t add up. Even still I sometimes struggle with letting go of that much money, but I do it anyway because I don’t want money to rule me. I do not put my trust in money, my trust lies with God. When something dictates your actions, it has become your master. How sad it is to live one’s life chasing after more and never being content? So I let it go and that keeps my hope on God, not in my ability to manage finances. If you aren’t watchful of your heart, man-made cotton paper can become an idol that cannot preserve your life. “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” -1 Timothy 6:17-19. I used to think this verse applied to wealthy celebrities until I heard my pastor state that if you make over $50k/year, you are in the top 1% of income earners in the world! Convicted. I guess my family is “those who are rich in this present world” the Bible was referring to. “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” -Ecclesiastes 5:10 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” -Matthew 6:24 Speaking of the heart, we have to examine from time to time what comes out of our own, for actions come out of the heart. People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. But if your heart is not right, it will cause things to be loved and people to be used. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” -1 Timothy 6:10. Notice it’s the love of money that’s the problem, not money itself. It is more blessed to give than to receive. If for no other reason, than to keep your heart right. Generosity increases happiness and I thank God He revealed this law of physics to me early in life. We decided our money was going to be a tool used to fight injustices in the world. When we made that decision, God showed us that His church extends beyond the local building we were tithing into. His church encompasses all the believers of the world in Christ and our finances should go toward relieving poverty and freeing the oppressed victims of slavery and human trafficking. As scary as it is to extend an unclenched fist, I challenge you to examine how your heart’s relationship is with money. Can you give up 10% of your income? We came into this world with nothing after all, and we’ll leave with nothing. You might as well make it work for you rather than work for it. Start to tithe small like we did, God will honor that. Then don’t be afraid to make a difference by increasing the amount you give as you see it working. As for us, I hope to be able to give away everything that’s not nailed down so God can keep pouring in enormous blessings we won’t have room enough to store. “There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.” -Proverbs 11:24-25
There is no over-stressing how important it is for your company to have a great website, yet while some business owners do, many of them are not taking full advantage of its selling potential. Your company’s website nears the top of the list for the most important investments in your business, so you should know how to maximize its return and make it work for you. If you’re not yet ready for a complete website redesign, here are some key updates you can make now that will increase revenue, retain customers, and make you more relevant in your field. 1. Go Responsive This year, mobile commerce sales are expected to top $100 billion due to the fact that an increasing amount of shoppers are making purchases from their mobile devices. That number is projected to hit 54% by 2018, according to Forrester. And if your company’s website isn’t functional on mobile devices, you can expect a lot of lost opportunities. Over half of mobile users will abandon a website if it doesn’t function on their device. With the need for a responsive website growing, it’s smart to prepare for the future. New devices are emerging and the way consumers shop is evolving, so ensuring your company’s website has a responsive design is like having insurance for the future; no matter what new device comes next, your customers can access it with no problems. Responsive websites also rank higher in SEO so you can be found above your competitor, and make more money. 2. Implement WordPress Have you ever thought about how much revenue you’re missing out on because you cannot easily manage your company’s website to post a simple event, store promotion, or new product? Website management systems are moving toward novice-friendly platforms and our favorite is WordPress. It allows for owners to easily learn how to make quick, simple changes to their websites so their latest promotion or event is relevant. No more relying on your developer to make these updates, which cost you the very money you’re trying to bring in. Posting new content engages customers and keeps them coming back. By implementing your site into WordPress, you are partnering with a powerful tool that helps increase sales through ease of use. Learn more about having a WordPress website. 3. Use Videos Because people have different learning styles, you should have an array of content to capture your audience so they will stay engaged on your site. One of the most engaging methods is video content. Use it to show off your office through a tour, explain how your products work, relay customer testimonials, and offer expert tips and advice. People process visual information much faster than reading text, so adding video to your company’s website can be a great way to boost sales. 4. Scale Down Your Website Website abandonment is a huge loss for company profits. The average online user expects your website to load in 2 seconds or less. After 3 seconds, nearly 60% of users will abandon your site. By making a key update to scale down the images, JavaScript and CSS files, you can dramatically decrease the load time and prevent customers from abandoning your company’s website, therefore increasing conversion. Here are some other tips for speeding up your load time. 5. Show Customer Reviews Word of mouth continues to be the most trusted avenue for business referrals. By posting testimonials on your website, prospective customers develop a sense of trust from reading real-life experiences from their peers on what it’s like doing business with you. Even the negative feedback, if handled tactfully, will increase sales through your website by allowing customers to see their concerns are addressed and dealt with respect. 6. Add a “Buy Now” Button Simple, right? But how many times have you searched a website, looking for a way to “check out”? Adding this handy little e-commerce tool makes it stupid simple for customers to quickly get what you’re advertising without having to go through a round-about process. Not to mention people like to push buttons, so why not give them a big, obvious one they can’t resist and improve your conversion rate at the same time? Making updates like these can increase your sales exponentially and who doesn’t want to make more money? With all the effort and investment you put into your company’s website, it makes sense to squeeze it for everything it’s worth and maximize your return. Most importantly, it helps to keep in mind that any update you make to your website should center around customer usability. Keep it simple, quick, and engaging. What tweaks have you made to your company’s site that has increased sales? Share some of your success tips in the comments section below.
By now, we all should recognize our company needs it’s own unique image and personality in order to market with success. People are drawn to originality and will remember a company’s logo, mission phrase, or design theme (if it’s a good one). Modern marketing has wrapped this process up into a term called branding. Branding your business should include everything from your logo, your promise to your customer, the image of who you are, what your business is about, your website, your voice, etc. So how do you use these qualities to brand your business so that it stands out? Be Consistent Consistency is probably the single most important tip for creating a strong branding strategy. Place your logo on everything from your website to your packaging, the sign on your store, company letterheads and email signatures. A uniform font and design theme should also be consistent. Steady branding develops a strong sense of value in a customer’s mind, allowing you to charge more for your products than the competitor without a branding strategy. Consistent branding builds trust and credibility by adding a perceived level of value that people will pay more for. There’s also an intangible side of branding that many businesses miss. Once the company’s logo is slapped on every box and whitepaper, many businesses fail to back up their branding because the voice they portray doesn’t flow with who they are claiming to be. For example, could you imagine if McDonald’s, with their family-friendly branding strategy, posted an article on Twitter in support of China’s one child law? That would create a bit of distrust in their brand, being that McDonald’s prides itself on helping children, yet they would tweet a child bearing restriction article. So make sure your voice is consistent with your perceived brand through all intangible avenues such as social media, customer service calls and even what you wear to business meetings. It all speaks to others about who you are. Ask Yourself Questions As a business, ask yourself questions that your customers are going to ask such as, “What’s your purpose? Why did you create this business? What do you support? How can you help your customers?” By defining your purpose, knowing how to brand will become easier. Decide what you want your customers to know about you and be aware of any misconceptions they might already have about your field. Try to offer something different, and through clear description of the benefits you have to offer, invite customers to give your product or service a try. If you don’t have anything different to offer, try offering it in a unique way to gain that extra edge over your competitor. Take our agency, Vegas Website Designs, for example. When we first started branding, we began as just another “website design and development” company with a good cause. There was nothing special or unique that made us stand out from our competitors. As time progressed, we settled into our niche of who we wanted to be and what we truly wanted to represent. We now brand ourselves as a digital marketing agency movement that helps launch organizations into 21st century web marketing and maximizes their online presence. We understand new customers can be found online by the boatload and business marketing has moved in that direction. It’s our passion to lead business owners to see the same and take advantage. Branding by Association It’s your job to get others to see what you see. If you are having trouble with that, joining a network of other businesses that support similar values and products might help. Becoming part of a network helps brand your business by referral. Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing avenues and being associated with a highly referred business ups your credibility. Remember this works in reverse, too. The organization in which you choose to sponsor and support adds to your branding strategy, so choose the ones you would be proud to be associated with and that accurately portray what your business is interested in. So, from a customer’s point of view, what does your image say about doing business with you? Is it clear? Do you offer something unique or in a unique way? Perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of your business as a product or service provider and start thinking of it as a means to educate, inform and engage people. Often times when you lead your branding strategy with the “Why?”, customers will naturally be interested in the “What”.
Why Does My Business Need To Market on Social Media? As an agency eager to support professional organizations, one of the first places we look to connect with them is through social media. Too often, we’re surprised to discover so many businesses either don’t have a presence on any social media platform, or their content has not been updated for months (sometimes years!). If you are a business planning for success beyond 2015, marketing on social media needs to become a priority. Already, marketing analysis is revealing 50% of marketers see improved sales from social media, and that number increases as the hours spent marketing on social media platforms increases. Take for example, the 74% of reported marketers that gained new business by spending over 40 hours each week promoting on social media, all according to this year’s social media tips report from the Social Media Examiner. Encouragingly, it only takes as little as 6 hours per week of engagement to begin seeing lead generation benefits from social media. But if you’re not one of the businesses interacting and advertising on social media, you’re in the drowning minority. 83% of marketers report they have integrated social media into traditional marketing, with 94% of them using Facebook. OK, So Which Platform Is Right For My Company? So how do you know which platform on which to promote? That depends on whether your business targets business-to-business or business-to-consumer. The survey found Facebook as the most important platform for B2C, whereas LinkedIn is the most important for B2B. To gain any significant visibility on Facebook, your business needs a healthy advertising budget. The main goal here is to interact within your community, display your products and services in unique, appealing ways, and post content that interests your buyer. Twitter however, is more of a free-for-all. The more people you connect with, the better. Try to follow other experts in your field as well as prospective clients. Listening to others’ concerns and problems, then offering a solution is the key to marketing on Twitter. When marketing B2B, LinkedIn provides that professional, credible approach for networking. How Do I Build Connections? But most importantly, be sure to connect, follow, friend, like, comment, share and re-tweet other individual’s content to establish a natural relationship. Get to know them through their social media persona then from there, offer a solution to a problem of theirs once you have connected instead of immediately pitching a sale their way. Building relationships on social media outweighs generating leads. Also be sure you’re not being self-serving. When you post, try to give your clients an idea of what it’s like doing business with you. Exclusively posting about your products or services turns clients away. It’s all about personal relationships on social media. In order to build on those relationships, it’s important for businesses to listen to feedback. Make your clients feel as though their voice is valued by responding to their comments and incorporating their ideas. Another way to remain generous and build relationships is by becoming an expert in your field. Offer free tips online to help your clients and build your credibility as the go-to source. So, whatever social media platform you choose to promote your business, the important factor is to adopt a unique voice and approach that reflects your brand and keep it consistent across all platforms. And if you’re new to social media, just dive in! Create a profile, upload some images from your business and begin to post content. With over a billion users on social media, it’s proven to be simple.
It’s time to go mobile, business owners. In 2013, we started to see companies encroaching on the mobile market and developing a new kind of website – not just a mobile version that spelled out your company’s URL with an “m” before the web address, but a responsive website. As more varieties of mobile devices are invented (tablets, laptops, smartphones), there is a growing need for a single website that will function and respond flawlessly on all devices, hence, a responsive site. Those quick to catch on soon realized if they wanted to beat out the competition, investing in a responsive website for their business early on would give them a leg-up that would last. And they were right! Will Consumers find your business or your competitors’? In May 2014, Google discovered that local searches led 50% of mobile users to actually visit stores. In fact, 1 in 3 searches on a smartphone occur just before consumers visit a store and half of consumers who performed a local search on their smartphone will visit a store within 1 day. Google already knows that businesses that list local content are favored in mobile searches, so it’s important your company’s website can be uniformly viewed on whatever device your customers are using. What’s more is that 4 out of 5 consumers perform local searches on search engines, with 88% using smartphones and 84% searching on tablets and laptops. Specifically, these mobile searchers want to know when your local business is open, where you are located, how to get there, and the availability of products. If this information is not quickly found on your company’s mobile website, it’s time to upgrade to a responsive design that clearly reflects these basics. Otherwise, you might be left out of the competition as this trend will only grow in 2015. While rooting out which website trends are most popular for 2014, the movement toward a mobile responsive website nears the top of the list yet again and is expected to grow in the years to come. Currently, there are over a billion smartphone users worldwide and counting, so companies that fail to tap into this marketing mecca are declining into a serious disadvantage. Google Analytics is a great way to gauge how urgent your need is for a responsive design by helping you track how much of your site’s traffic is currently coming from mobile sources. Don’t substitute social media as your company’s website Think posting all your business info on Facebook is enough? Sadly, what companies don’t realize is mobile users are searching for you by name, product or service, and if you don’t show up in local search results, then you have missed out on sales. That’s why it’s so crucial for your company to have its own space online, especially one that is responsive. This rule is especially true for companies that are in the retail or food business. Because many decisions about where to eat or where to shop are made impulsively and based upon a consumer’s mobile search result, you want to be certain your business website shows up as a mini virtual version of your store. Social media has gone mobile. More than half of social media usage is through a mobile device. So, if you’re posting business content on a social media platform to lead customers back to you, be sure to have a responsive website so all the content will be viewed nicely and function properly on a mobile device. Otherwise, users will leave unhappy and your conversion will suffer. Having a responsive website will also give customers an easier way to contact you for comments or complaints, making it less likely they will plaster it all over social media. Is Responsive Design Really Worth The Cost? The truth is, making a website responsive is about as costly as making a conventional site, but in doing so, there are many costs you are eliminating. Once a site becomes responsive, the development, marketing and maintenance costs significantly decrease. Responsive design has acknowledged the open future of new devices and will automatically conform to whatever new device your customers use. So, developmentally, you will not have to duplicate your website for mobile, tablet, desktop, etc., saving you on future costs. Responsive design also offers a single code base, so your developers are no longer managing and testing multiple code bases. Value through responsive design is also received through your company’s marketing costs. By eliminating different versions of your website, the cost of ownership maintenance and effort decreases. Not to mention, there becomes only one website to SEO (which makes Google happy). Google stated it prefers responsive design as the “recommended mobile configuration” because it makes it easier for them to index content online. And we all know if there is anything we can do to please Google, it will boost our search engine ranking. Google favors user experience and shared with us that 48% of users stated when a website does not function on their mobile device, it makes them feel the company doesn’t care for their business. Business owners need to come to realize more and more of their customer base is coming from the mobile pool and if their website isn’t fully functioning on those devices, they’re missing out on a growing market (but their competitors will thank them!) So, how much will going responsive cost? It depends, but a better question to ask is how much value will a responsive design bring to your business? There is a unique value that responsive design brings, especially through content driven websites. Going responsive is a great choice especially when you consider they’re no extra cost compared to most other mobile approaches. A few things are certain: you will notice a reduced demand on your time for site maintenance and content management. You will also notice an increase in marketing efficiency and greater opportunities in the mobile channel. And after you’ve made responsive design work for you, you can spend your extra time and money investing in SEO, keeping customer relations, or on family.
A recent study conducted by Verisign discovered a sad majority of companies don’t realize the benefits of having a great online presence. Many times the business lacks the technical know-how to develop a web presence, while others fear that it’s just not affordable. But the truth, backed by this research, is that those implementing it are experiencing formidable profits. It was also discovered the companies that do take advantage of online resources elect for social media instead of their own internet space. And those with e-commerce ability choose to establish themselves on sites such as eBay and Etsy. Though these avenues are tempting because of ease of use, companies are missing out on the value of possessing their own website. 1. Great Online Business Presence Builds Trust A Weebly survey found 56% of consumers would not trust a business without a website. Developing a great online presence goes beyond purchasing a domain name and posting a picture of your business with contact information. It should reflect a digital version of your company. Establishing your business online heightens credibility. Those potential customers who check you out online and find a well maintained website will see you as an expert instead of an amateur mom-and-pop shop. Giving potential customers a positive impression of your business makes future sales more likely. Also, having branded email that advertises your company’s domain name boosts customer trust and business credibility, making you appear as a legitimate business. 2. Online Presence Builds a Greater Clientele. With web-influenced predicted sales reaching $1.409 trillion in 2014, those without an online presence are at a clear disadvantage. Avoiding this crucial marketing avenue is like saying, “I don’t need any new business.” Even if you are already a well-established business, coupling that with an awesome online presence will set you apart. Your company’s website is not limited to the address at which your business stands. Your online presence stretches to the ends of the earth, reaching potential customers that word-of-mouth and newspaper ads never could. 3. Great Online Business Presence Makes Marketing Easier No matter what your message is, why you are communicating it, or what it may look like, you will be unable to engage with customers without relevant technology. If you allow your website to work for you, potential buyers won’t feel pressured by a salesman. Posting great descriptions of your products or services online lets the customer make relaxed decisions. Online marketing is also faster than conventional printing and mailing, as it reaches a wider audience in less time. Remember that online, special preference is given to local business so take advantage of the opportunity to out-do big business competitors. Verisign also found that prior to the creation of websites, the greatest perceived inhibitor of businesses was lack of technical knowledge and cost to develop the site. However, after developing a website, only 8% of company’s respondents found the investment to develop their website as a real barrier and technical know-how concern decreased from 45% to just 22%. Even though businesses  expressed several perceived and actual barriers to developing their own space online, more than three-fourths said they would recommend investment in a website to other businesses, concluding that the value of having one’s own website outweighs all feared or actual barriers. Some other obstacles included investment of time, security and ongoing website maintenance. Finding a digital marketing agency you can trust will ease those concerns.
Vegas Website Designs was founded on many “Why’s.” Why start the business? Why give 10% away? Why should someone choose to partner alongside us? Our very first “why” came through an inspirational film titled, “Isaiah 58,” pulled directly from Scripture where God corrects His people in their way of living. He tells them: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk. And if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” — Isaiah 58:6-10 After watching this film based on God’s word, and seeing the truly desolate living conditions of extreme poverty and human trafficking, my husband and I decided our faith alone was not enough; we had to act. From that point, God put a strong desire in our hearts to be an aid to the oppressed. Sunil TuduSponsored since June 24, 2013 A few short days later we were led to sponsor Sunil, a 9 year old boy from Eastern India, living about 600 km north of Kolkatta, where his family was making the equivalent of $27.00 US dollars per month. Months later, we also began sponsoring Hayatu – a 6 year old boy from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, living in a home with dirt floors. Hayatu’s family earned only $22.00 US dollars each month, making it difficult for him to attend school. Because of our decision to sponsor these children through Compassion International, they now attend school regularly and earn an education that will end the cycle of poverty. They are also receiving medical care, meals and learning about Christ. Hayatu MohammedSponsored since September 6, 2013 So God moved us from the Midwest here to Las Vegas, one of the top 3 cities in the United States for human trafficking. This is just the beginning. It is our heart’s desire to release thousands of children and families from poverty and human trafficking through Vegas Website Designs. God has blessed my husband and me with talents and abilities that we have been called to use for His kingdom and glory. Boys like these are the reason we give 10% away. Your decision to work with us helps boost that percentage until we can humbly give 50%. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.'” — Matthew 25:34-40
Usability What determines whether a user stays on your website? Is your target audience clearly receiving your intended message? Within 5 seconds, the usability of your website will determine whether visitors deem your site worthy of their reading time or decide to abandon ship. Failure to pass the 5 second test could mean lost customers and conversion opportunities. Some commonly-made usability mistakes can be easily remedied by checking your site with the guidelines below. Load Time The average online user expects your site to load in 2 seconds or less. After 3 seconds, 40% of users will abandon that site. Nearly a quarter (and rising) of website traffic comes from mobile devices; users are on the move and expect sites to respond quickly. A longer than average load time heightens your page’s risk of abandonment. To check how long it takes for your site to load, plug it into tools.pingdom.com. If your site’s load time exceeds 3 seconds, try these changes to improve usability: Use a JPEG for complex images like photos and compress the file size by up to 60% without compromising quality Only use a PNG when you need transparent images Use a sprite instead of individual images to decrease download time Wherever possible, use CSS and text in place of images Responsive An enormous amount of website traffic comes from mobile sources and if your site is not responsive, (that is, uniformly viewable on your customer’s laptop, tablet and smartphone) your site appears scrambled on their device and unreadable. Your visitor will not stick around to decode the jumbled mess. Ensure you are avoiding this silly mistake by having one existing version of your site that is clearly visible on whatever platform your user chooses. Important Information is Above the Fold The Fold is all the information visible before ever scrolling and it’s the prime real estate of your website. Users spend 80% of their time looking at content above the fold, so that is where all your important information should be. If you make your visitors have to scroll to learn what products/services you have to offer and how to contact you, they will likely leave. If you have a lot of important content that your customers need to know, try creating a slider on your home page above the fold to convey the information. Separating content between slides is a good way of keeping mass clutter in check. But remember to keep slide transition time under 5 seconds so your user sees it before making their decision. Informative Headlines &Titles If your users can’t find who you are and what you have to offer, they are not going to search for it. 8 out of 10 people read a page’s headline, yet only 2 out of 10 read the first paragraph. So be certain information such as who you are and what you do are positioned obviously in as few words as possible. For relevant examples of how to do this, check out my article Top Web Design Trends for 2013. Visually Attractive Engage your audience’s visual attention with a large, stunning image that portrays your product or service accurately and conveys the message you want to send. Strategic placement of images to text and whitespace improves usability by creating a clean, clutter-free page that mobile users will especially appreciate. Also be cautious of poor color combinations as certain pairs are harsh on the eyes and turn your user off. Experiment with hues and tones of the same color that aren’t offensive when matched with your background. Annoying color clashes and clutter-rampant content will almost certainly turn your visitor away. Ease of Navigation Your site’s navigation should be easy to use and intuitive. Be certain the highest-level tier of your navigation conveys the most important, easy to understand content. Make it simple for your visitors to know where they should go next in your site’s progression and how they can contact you, otherwise your call to action is lost on your users. The success and conversion rate of your website is based on many factors, with usability being one of the most influential. After comparing your site to these factors, does yours pass the 5 second test? Please share any additional marketing tactics that keep visitors’ attention.
As businesses try their hand at marketing techniques, a commonly made mistake is to promote their own company and get their message across. Usually, this technique results in lower conversion rates and leaves marketers scratching their heads. Analyzing your audience will return your investment much more efficiently. Before marketing, do a little target audience research and keep the focus on them. I’ve listed some questions and avenues below to challenge your thinking and bring your marketing efforts full circle. 1) Who is your target audience? The question may seem basic, but your target audience should be the foundation for any marketing strategy. Considering the following questions will help you narrow down your focus in order to keep your marketing campaign specific. Are you targeting business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer? What is the age group of your target audience? Does the majority of your target audience live in rural or urban areas? What is the income range of your target audience? What is your audience’s ethnicity? Is your target audience predominantly male or female? Businesses reported over 30% improved sales when they focused their offers and marketing on their target audience. 2) What does your audience want? This question can only be answered after you have discovered WHO your audience is. Different people want different things, so finding out what’s important to your target audience will help you negate which offers to promote and how. For example, if you discover your audience is of a younger age group between 18-29, it’s more likely they will click play on a video to learn about your product rather than taking the time to read a few paragraphs describing the same thing. Or if you understand your target audience is largely composed of senior citizens, you can pour less marketing efforts into social media avenues, as 18-29 year olds retain the highest percentage of social media usage. Regardless of age, gender or income, every customer is interested in how your product or service benefits them. Your audience wants to know what you offer and how it’s different. Make them aware of what they are missing and how your product can make their life better and easier. Another quality every customer desires is trust. Many Americans fear something “bad” will happen while on the internet such as stolen identity or money scams. Countering their fears with a money back guarantee and a concise return policy is a great way to build trust and confidence. People also trust photos of real people rather than animations, so try using staff members or even CEOs of your own company on your website. And remember to thank your customers. Responding to their input and purchases with a genuine “Thank you” reminds your customers they are dealing with humans rather than automated bots that lack manners. If you are unsure the best route to take in order to research and discover your target audience, here are a few of the best existing avenues: Social Media This is a great avenue to explore when discovering your target audience. Social media provides insight on what content your users respond to as well as revealing their age, gender, geographical region, ethnicity, and their active usage times. It also gives your customers an outlet to share their opinions and experiences, giving you insight to their interests. Connecting on social media will naturally build trust and confidence in your audience by making you more relatable, increasing customer loyalty, and heightening your credibility. Google Keyword/Adwords The tools Google Adwords offers will enlighten you to the keywords, terms and phrases your target audience is searching for so you can speak the same language as your customers and connect with them through similar content. Google Analytics How did visitors come to my website? Where are my visitors located? What do users do on my site? Where do users spend the most time on my site? What about my site is turning visitors away? If you have ever asked yourself these questions, turn to Google Analytics for the answers. This savvy tool gives you a head start in marketing, as if you are standing over your visitor’s shoulder, watching them navigate your page. Surveys Too many businesses try to predict what their audience wants, but never take the times to ask them. Surveys in the form of emails, on-site questionnaires or comment boxes give you freedom from the guessing game and bullseye insight on how you can improve your product. They may even provide you with an idea you’ve never considered. Either way, they will appreciate your attempts to understand their interests. It’s not unusual for businesses to re-evaluate their target audience especially if it was not clearly identified in the initial stages of business. You may have more than one audience and so targeting too specifically does not mean you have to exclude people that don’t fit your criteria from becoming customers. Defining your target audience(s) will save you marketing dollars and provide a better return on investment. Feel free to share some of the ways in which you have discovered your business’ target audience and how it has helped improve your success.
Design, whether it be for clothing or websites, is influenced by the reflection of our culture. And with all the latest technological advances this year, users expect web design to harmoniously interact on their new device, thus a shift in user interface is required. Here are the top 2013 web design trends capable of converting viewers into customers: Content Over-sized typography and large headlines support the #1 content-focused 2013 web design trend, making it easy for users to quickly identify and access important information. In order to drive traffic and improve conversion, designs should be developed around content instead of pasting content inside a completed design. Large, bold text conveys the primary message to your visitor without making them look for it. Flat Design Devices have been simplified and minimized in size, therefore designs with bevels, shadows and gradients appear cluttered and overload your user. Stripping away the unnecessaries leaves your site looking fresh, clean and simple and keeps the focus on content. Responsive Again, because users view sites on variable platforms, it’s crucial your site is uniformly visible on laptops, tablets and smartphones. There are over 1 billion smartphone users in the world, so it makes sense for your site to have one existing version that will load flawlessly on whatever new device comes next. Responsive design favors simplicity and your customers will appreciate it, too. Whitespace The use of whitespace (blank sections on your page, not necessarily white) emphasizes the main message of your website by ridding of distractions. Minimal design is key here, an advantage of which is the reduction of your site’s load time. On a small device, whitespace lends to a reduction of clutter for your user. With only one focus point, your customer’s attention is easily captured right where you want it to be. Fixed Header (aka Navigation) This new 2013 web design trend offers a constant compass on your website and quickly navigates your users back to your homepage. It also serves as a modern visual paired with exceptional functionality. A site’s ease of navigation often makes or breaks your visitor’s experience. Social Media Icons Positioning icons from social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are a highly effective marketing technique this year, and likely for the years to follow. These are actively used by readers who want to quickly share content and information. You can be certain by fixing social media icons to blogs and articles, that the chances of your content being re-posted increases dramatically. Grid Layout (“Metro”) With a focus on content-first design and the popularity of the Windows 8 “Metro” scheme, websites are moving toward a grid-style layout of variable colors, sizes and effects. Separating content with boxes creates an intuitive, easy-to-navigate user experience that narrows their options upon first glance and shepherds your customers into clicking. Large Images It used to be only photographers used over-sized photos and images as their site’s background. However, using a large, sharp image helps your visitors identify who you are and what products/services you have to offer. This trend is particularly useful to design businesses such as portfolio, photography and website design. Single Page Web Design The move toward a single page website is an excellent way to improve your site’s usability. Single page sites ease navigation (especially if your header is fixed) so your visitors know exactly where to go next. This web design trend is especially useful if yours is a call-to-action site. Another benefit of single page websites is reduction of load time, ensuring your potential customers won’t abandon your site out of impatience. Infinite Scrolling Infinite scrolling enables your site to load additional information as your reader scrolls toward the bottom of your page. This ability enhances your visitor’s experience by keeping them engaged in reading on one page instead of having them click on additional pages to continue reading. Infinite scrolling is trending as a design tool in 2013 because it mimics the familiar experience offered by sites like Facebook and Pinterest. Breaking up with Flash You’re no longer compatible and that is a great reason to break off your site’s relationship with Flash. Flash is hardly supported by mobile devices since new options like Jquery have arrived. By the end of 2013 and going into 2014, users will see a dramatic decline of browser crashings and choppy animation because sites will have made the upgrade to modern technology. Keep in mind though these web design trends are popular in the mainstream, they are not ideal for every business. Every company and individual is unique in personality and you need a website that will portray that beautifully. Feel free to comment on which emerging trends caught your attention in 2013 and which you predict will be dominant in the year to come.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Marie Thompson
Podcast Status
Hiatus/Finished
Started
Aug 6th, 2013
Latest Episode
May 31st, 2017
Release Period
Weekly
Episodes
18
Avg. Episode Length
6 minutes
Explicit
No
Order
Episodic
Language
English

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