Archive for the ‘Web Design’ category

Trend Spotlight: Video Backgrounds

April 1st, 2014

Remember our predictions for Web Design Trends in 2014? Now that we’re well into the year, let’s take a closer look at one of the more controversial design ideas that we mentioned: video integration.

To be more precise, we’re talking humongous videos in place of background images or in the large hero areas. Need some examples? Check out:

Exhibit A:

video_bkg_1

Gladeye uses this feature sparingly, choosing to use video only on its contact page. They also cleverly tie in their video content (of swooping angles of their location) with the page content (their physical address).

Exhibit B:

video_bkg_2

Savelli-Geneve takes a bolder approach with a more intimate video right on the homepage.

PROS:

  • Videos can quickly convey your brand to your visitor.
  • It can grab attention and leave a memorable impression with your viewer.
  • Videos can add a little extra oomph to your web design!

CONS:

  • Web users are now more concerned than ever about browsing the web at their own pace – does an auto play video take their control away?
  • Videos can have a jarring effect – does that suit your brand?
  • If not done well, videos can distract away from your content, or even annoy your visitor.

Weigh in with your thoughts! Is this a trend worth keeping or is it a distracting design gimmick?

3 Common Online Store Turn-Offs (and how to fix them)

March 25th, 2014

3_common_online_store_turn_offs

Your online store looks sleek, cool, and unique – but you’re still not getting the sales you were hoping for! There might be a chance that your amazing website might be unwittingly driving customers away. Here are some common mistakes that you should be aware of:

Confusing and Disorganized Design

While your site might look fancy, make sure visitors aren’t getting lost on your site. Can they find what they’re looking for? Some options:

  • Organize similar products in the same categories.
  • Have a search bar for customers to use key words to find what they want.
  • Consider offering “suggestions” for similar or compatible products below a product description.

Can visitors find the shopping cart?

  • Make sure the shopping cart button is on every page of your eCommerce store – bonus points if it’s in the same position on every page.
  • Have a strong call to action (such as “Add to Cart”) under each product description.

Not Gaining Trust

The idea of online shopping is no longer a foreign concept, but it’s still important to make sure your store looks like a website that visitors can trust. With the possibility of fraud and other scams on the web, you need to give your customers reassurance that your store is the real deal. Some ideas:

  • Have a professional web design and high quality images to showcase your products. If you’re looking for a makeover for your eCommerce website, give us a shout. Our Web Design package is only at US$695 which includes 5 web pages and one-on-one design consultation. Check out our design portfolio and the package details by clicking here!
  • List contact information – such as a phone number and base address – so that visitors know that your company physically exists.
  • Give opportunity for reviews. For example, letting others comment on your products increases your site’s credibility. It also allows you to keep a dialogue between you and your visitors.
  • Include an “About Us” page. This adds a personal touch to your site and allows visitors to put a face to your company.

No Reason to Buy

What does your site offer that others don’t? The few downsides to online shopping – such as shipping costs, credibility risks, and not having the opportunity to look at the physical products before you buy – need to be overcome by the strengths of your store.

Do you have an amazing return policy? Do you offer free shipping? Are your products unique and exclusive to your store? Know your strengths and expand upon them.

Do you have any other tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them. Give us a shout in the comments.

Filtering Images with Google Usage Rights

January 27th, 2014

While it’s nice to have a photographer on hand to capture some unique images for your website, sometimes you just need a quick image to spruce up your blog article or social networking post. We’ve mentioned some of our favourite stock photo resources in a previous blog, but we wanted to highlight a feature that Google has just conveniently placed under their search tools: Google Usage Rights. This tool can let you filter your image results on Google by their licensing rights!

 google_image_usage_rights

How to Use It

  1. Type your search term into Google Search
  2. Hit Images
  3. Choose “Search Tools”
  4. Click on “Usage Rights”
  5. Now choose the category you want

Decode the Lingo

Labeled for Reuse
You can copy or alter these images according to the ways specified in the license.

Labeled for Commercial Use
You can copy or alter these images for commercial purposes, according to the ways specified in the license.

Labeled for Reuse with Modification
You can use the image with alterations, according to the ways specified in the license.

Labeled for Commercial Reuse with Modification
You can use the image with alterations for commercial purposes, according to the ways specified in the license.

Note the emphasis on using images according to the ways specified in the license – we highly recommend verifying with the image creator to make sure the image is actually open to reuse, and whether there are certain terms you need to honour. No one wants to deal with those pesky headaches or other unfortunate consequences that come from making a legal blunder.

Check out Google’s memo for more details on how to use this filter.

6 Design Elements You Should Kiss Goodbye

January 22nd, 2014

Unnecessary, outdated, or just plain annoying- these are some website features we want to leave behind.

web_design_donts

Generic Stock Photos

In the battle of authenticity versus perfection, authenticity and originality is winning out. One way to gain the trust of your visitors is to try taking photos of the real people behind the company.

On the “About Us” page, if you can, choose to include a genuine photo of your team rather than an unrealistic stock image of three beautiful people wearing business suits. You especially won’t want your visitors to find that same polished photo of models masquerading as your team on your competitor’s website.

Flash Intros

You probably don’t see these that often, and for good reason. Flash intros are unnecessary and take long to load – a surefire way to irritate your visitor. Visitors will be clicking away before they even reach your content.

Automated Popups

When speaking of irritating, we vote that automated popups take the cake. They might be well-meaning- offering a free email subscription, a reminder, or a more “convenient” method to view their site on mobile. On the flip side, they might also be reminiscent of aggressive ads, and that’s something no visitor looks forward to. Despite the intention, automated pop ups interfere with the flow of navigation around your site, and don’t let your visitors see what they want on their own terms.

Autoplay Videos

In the same way, autoplay videos can also interfere with the flow of navigation around the site. While companies may attempt to boost their video view rate by autoplaying a video, they can be distracting and irritating to the visitor. However, autoplay videos can be smartly incorporated as part of your website design, for example, in place of a background image for your site, but keep in mind your user’s needs if you choose to implement this feature.

Too Many Elements

Simplicity is becoming the norm this year, and that’s because the user experience is the first priority when designing a site. The enthusiasm over new flashy technology is dying down, and we’re seeing designs become more selective with their element choices. Right now, the focus is on offering the most innovative site with elements that bring real use to the visitor.

Too Many Pages

Similarly, website designers are limiting their website page count as well. In fact, some websites display all they need to convey on a single web page. While you might not want to go that extreme, before you create each page, be sure to consider whether you and your clients will actually need it.

What else do you think should be a feature of the past? Let us know in the comments!

Our Web Design Trend Predictions for 2014: Part 3

January 16th, 2014

Hooray, you made it to the last part of our web design trend series! In part 2, we mentioned large hero areas, manipulated images, and simplicity as design elements we think we’ll be seeing. Here are the last 3 trends we think the wind is blowing toward this year.

chalk_background

Scrolling Websites

Okay, so you might be thinking that parallax scrolling is so 2013 (or some variation of that depending on how your brain talks). While it’s true that both infinite scrolling or parallax design aren’t exactly “new” techniques, we’re seeing them continue into 2014. This time around, however, the focus is on making it cleaner and more user-friendly than last year’s design. That means less text and better organized content.

Animated or Responsive Icons

How cute! Feel free to implement icons that jiggle, spin, or respond to a hovering cursor. CSS animations are simple and can add that bit of pizazz to make you stand out. Be careful not to go overboard with this- unless it’s your intention to overwhelm and confuse your visitor.

The User is King

The motto for 2014 is “Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.” Despite newer technologies and more possibilities than before, designers are resisting the urge to add flashy design elements for the sake of it. The key is to examine stats, bounce rates, and other data to understand the user first. As a result, we’re seeing sites that are simpler, load faster, have larger fonts, and more visual content.

So those are our last three predictions for the top trends of 2014. Let’s see what sticks and what gets kicked to the curb by the end of the year. Which ones are you liking so far?