Category: Web Development

Studio Hill Designs Websites with Heart

nmhi_webNew Mexico Heart Institute, the largest private cardiology practice in the state of New Mexico, has unveiled a complete redesign and rebuild of their website www.nmhi.com. Developed by none other than Albuquerque’s Studio Hill Design, the new website puts the patient experience front and center. The new site presents a fresh, friendly face for NMHI, and welcomes viewers with a simple and intuitive navigation experience.

With various custom built tools running a complicated but sleek backend, the site delivers simple and easy access to patient information and resources while allowing for easy in-house updates.

Studio Hill Design is proud to be a part the effort of NMHI to keep New Mexico hearts happy and healthy.

Studio Hill Design in the News… Albuquerque Business First interviews Sandy Hill

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Mike English of Albuquerque Business First took a left turn into our Downtown Albuquerque studio office to find out what it takes to make a perfect website and what it takes to make a successful 30 year career in marketing and branding. The interview can be read in the current issue of Albuquerque Business First or online via the link below.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

Sandy Hill’s marketing career covers more than 30 years in Albuquerque. As the owner of Studio Hill Design, which she started in 1986, she guides the company’s branding and web design efforts as well as everything from logos to interior design. She spoke with Business First about how her company helps clients discover the core of who they are and what they want from their website.

Your design career predates websites, if I might note. How does web design relate to other kinds of design?
It’s true. We not only predate websites, we also predate computers — think Xacto knives and rubber cement. But basically, the same principles still apply and they apply across all mediums. What I tell our web-design clients, who might be comparing us to other tech firms, is that we’re a marketing firm and a design firm. Our goal is to go in and see what is unique about the client, learn about their target audience and make a connection. Websites are just the vehicle that carries the same kind of messaging that we’ve always created.

What makes a good website, here in 2015?
All of the above: making a connection, providing value, speaking to the viewer and not just yourself. There’s a book around here we all had to read called “Don’t Make Me Think.” It explains that if someone needs to muck around on your website to find things, that’s not good. It needs to be simple and straightforward, easy to understand, easy to navigate and it needs to make a dynamic connection with the viewer right away.

How do you work with clients to identify what they want from their website?
We run everyone through our branding questionnaire, which is probably 12 questions, from asking them to describe their company in one sentence to what their target market is, what their goals are, all of that. The magic comes when we can get to their unique value. That’s why we do so much listening. It’s just like human beings: When we look in the mirror we cannot see ourselves objectively. Companies are that way too. We’re too close to see ourselves. I think that’s the beauty of having a company like ours come in, because we know how to look and listen and sort and separate out the magic of a company compared to what all their competitors might be doing. That’s the core truth we build the marketing message on. The super fun part then is to figure out how to communicate that.

Read the full interview here…

Studio Hill Design Ranked Top Web Design Firm – Again

connection-speech-bubbles-blogIn 2013 Studio Hill Design was again reported by Albuquerque Business First to be one of the top grossing web design firms in New Mexico. How does this happen to such a small company? Offering a combination marketing-based website design, graphic design, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and video production for websites is common place among good web design firms. But we add a little something special. We make connections. Using what our clients have referred to as insightful questioning and intuitive understanding, Studio Hill Design has developed an expertise in discovering and understanding each client’s potential. With this understanding we design websites that create positive, meaningful experiences … that’s how.

Is my website working for or against me? Get the website design you deserve.

siteAn estimated 8 out of 10 consumers who are dissatisfied with the performance of a website are unlikely to return. While the reasons for their dissatisfaction can be as numerous as there are connections to Kevin Bacon, the number one reason is due to poor design. Poor design could mean that the site is simply outdated or it fails to reflect the core character of the business it was meant to represent. It fails to communicate. In other cases, the site might be difficult to use due to underlying technologies that slow the site down or generate an unreasonable number of errors. It could be poor architecture, meaning the site is difficult to navigate and find what you want quickly.

Here is a closer look at some of the numbers according to the Online Marketing Institute;

• 85% abandon a site due to poor design
• 83% leave because it takes too many clicks to get what they want
• 62% gave up looking for an item while shopping online
• 50% of sales are lost because visitors can’t find content
• 40% never return to a site because the content was hard to use

In addition to the obvious revenue that could be lost due to a poorly designed website are the potential costs of fixing such a site.

Often placing a “band aid” can be a far from ideal solution and can sometimes cost nearly as much as the initial investment. This leads to the inevitable conclusion that it is well worth your while to plan properly before designing a website and hiring a website design firm.

Here are some questions you should be asking your web designer before beginning your next website. 

How much time do you spend planning and researching?
Designing a successful website requires planning and research long before a single line of code is written or a layout is considered. On average, Studio Hill Design spends 5 to 10 hours diving into the backstories and histories of our clients, learning about how they got to where they are and where they want to go. That might seem like a lot of time. But we take this knowledge and leverage the information into clear and measurable strategies that support our clients’ goals. We need to know who you are to take you to where you want to be. That is how we make good design. That is how we make successful websites.

Do you create wire-frames and site maps before designing a website?
Website wireframes and site maps are visual representations of where the content on your site will be placed. They don’t contain any design or content. They simply explain visually where content can be found. It manifests a mutual understanding between us and our clients as to the scope and expectations of the site. It clarifies and simplifies the viewer navigation experience. It presents an opportunity to consider additional value-added content. Wireframes and site maps are vitally important to creating a website that is useful to its audience and that accomplishes the goals that the research has identified, while staying on budget and on time.

How much do you charge for web design?
This might seem like an obvious question to ask, but the surprise comes in how you react to the answer you get. Website design that is results-oriented takes a generous amount of time and expertise. You might find an inexpensive web coder, but why would you trust your main marketing tool to someone without a design background? Studio Hill Design is a design and marketing company who understands how to make deep connections between you and your customers. Thoughtful website design is the key that helps our clients make that connection.

Is search engine optimization incorporated into the website?
The intent of a powerful, targeted and well designed website is for it to be seen. We incorporate search engine optimization (SEO) organically from the very beginning of the project to maximize every opportunity for search engines to find your site. Little details in the content and coding of your site make a big difference in your SEO rankings. Studio Hill Design can take this even further by offering you enhanced SEO options to drive even more traffic to your website.

So Now What?
Talk to Studio Hill Design. And talk to some web geeks. See who you feel comfortable trusting your company’s brand and reputation to, when you understand how important your online presence is. Then let’s get started promoting your company online and on target.

You do not measure up to this goldfish. Now get some video on your website, improve your SEO and engage your visitors.

PastedGraphic-9The average attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds. Your attention span? A paltry 8 seconds, down from 12, as recently as 4 years ago. Heck, you probably can’t even remember what you had for breakfast, let alone something from 4 years ago.
This statistic might seem alarming to you. But this is the world we live in, where a constant barrage of distractions are hitting us from every direction. Right now, within in your immediate vicinity there is probably a cell phone and an office phone where you can be reached, two email boxes that need answering and a text message coming in from your daughter who needs a ride. Distraction is everywhere. Add to this the fact that you have the entire world-wide-web at your fingertips right now. FlappyBird much? Facebook much? The average office worker checks their email an average 30 times an hour. Wow.

Still with me? I have another number for you – 2.7 minutes. What’s this you say? The entire history of the world? That my friend, is the average length of time that internet users are willing to commit to watching a single video on the web – 2.7 minutes. Compare this to the Neilsen Norman Group’s report that the average page visit is less than a minute, or that the average television commercial is 15 to 30 seconds. Think of what you could do with a 2.7 minute engagement from your website visitors.

Video is your best oportunity to communicate a lot of information quickly. Viewers can see what your products or your services look like and make a meaningful connection with you and your company. A short punchy video can convey in just a few moments what might take 200 words to say. That is powerful.

Further, with yin yang symbiosis, video can improve your SEO. You see, not only does Google index and direct traffic to your video, but once it sees that people are spending a lot of time on your web pages, it increases your SEO page ranking. It’s a win-win.

So if you have made it this far, the next thing you are probably asking is “How do I make a video?” That’s simple. Call us.

As far as goldfish are concerned… wait… what was that about the goldfish?

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Before the design – Choosing a URL for your website – 7 Simple Guidelines

th-2Choosing a domain name can be a big deal. Strike that. It IS a big deal. It is akin to choosing your first child’s name or deciding what color to paint the office – Antique White or Dashing Yellow. Because whatever you choose, you, or at least your child, will have to live with it. And in the case of a URL, it can be the difference between pearls and swine. Here are a few quick quidelines to help assure that your website climbs to the top of search results and receives the traffic it deserves.

  1. K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Silly – Euphemism aside, your domain choice should be short and easy to hear in a crowded bar – over martinis ideally. Don’t choose something you need to explain. Make it easy for your visitors to type on their mobile devices. Inebriated thumbs and complex domain names are a curse for getting people to your website. The shorter the better.
  2. Use Keywords – The presence of keywords in a domain name affects its page ranking. Sit down and make a list of 5 main keywords and then research them them using the <link> Google Keyword Tool. </link> If you can incorporate a valuable keyword into your domain NATURALLY by all means do it. But not at the cost of making it too complex or too long.
  3. Use .COM – If for some reason your organization requires a .NET, .ORG or any other extension, make sure that you can acquire the .COM as well and redirect it to the domain you would like. Many people, even techies, almost always assume a domain is .COM first and some of them won’t even think of trying another extension. Don’t lock out traffic from these folks. Traffic is vital to the success of your overall business plan.
  4. Make it Intuitive – Create and fulfill expectations. When you tell someone your domain name they should be able to easily and accurately guess what they will find when they get there. Think of your domain name as your road sign. If you are selling donuts, let people know. Advertise it.
  5. Avoid Hyphens and Numbers – It is just too complicated to explain that ninetofive is really 9to5 or nine-2-five. Spell it out.
  6. Avoid Trends – You need to look at your domain name as an investment over the long term. The equity that you build into it over time needs to be considered. Selecting a URL with vernacular of the moment, that in time will become meaningless, might have you “lol ‘ing” right now, but you’ll be better off with something that will outlast current trends.
  7. Read Between the Words – Seriously. Just learn through example on this one. http://www.boredpanda.com/worst-domain-names/ One of my favorite examples is whorepresents.com, as in Who Represents. Hilarious.

When choosing a URL for your website it is important to keep these basic ideas in mind. But just like anything there is always a caveat and to every rule there is an exception. So if you are getting all worked up and not sure where to turn when it comes to choosing a fitting URL for your business or if you need a fitting website design to go with the awesome domain you just created, let us know. We’d be happy to help.

Whatever you do, don’t name your boy Sue and don’t paint the office Gerbera Mauve.

You will regret it.

Another week, another website launch

Studio Hill Design just finished another great website design. This one is for Equal Access to Justice located in Albuquerque New Mexico. Eaj-nm.org is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was started in 1988 by concerned attorneys who wanted to assist New Mexicans facing civil legal problems that had financial hardships such as unemployment or health issues. The type of cases they work with include housing and shelter rights, domestic relations, consumer issues, government benefits, health care, Indian tribal issues, and protection of land and water rights.

The website was built in WordPress and allows visitors to make donations through the site. Take a look. We think it is pretty cool.

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Update your Site… Regularly

Apps-system-software-update-iconOver the years, Studio Hill Design has built a lot of websites – many of them in WordPress. Powering over 60 million sites worldwide, WordPress has become one of the world’s best blogging and CMS platforms available. But, if you cannot remember the last time you updated the core software that runs your website, you could be facing security risks while at the same time missing out on key upgrades and functionality such as increased SEO.

83% of hacked WordPress sites are not upgraded. Unless you are running the most current version of WordPress you should be concerned.

Your website is an ongoing investment that should be secure and we want to assure that happens – seamlessly. Updating your website yourself can cause errors and damage to your website if you are behind on updates. We recommend that someone who knows your website and knows the issues that can arise from updating WordPress do the update for you.

We, of course, would be happy to evaluate your website for you if you think your site might be at risk. Regardless of what platform your website is running, keep it up to date. Protect your investment.