Fundamental Rules of Website Design
“Be Responsive” doesn’t mean replying when you are spoken to. It refers to the ability of your website to scale up or down, depending on the viewer’s monitor size. It means that your site will automagically rearrange itself to work as well on a mobile phone as a full size desktop computer.
Not only do responsive sites improve legibility and usability for mobile users, who now account for more than 50% of internet traffic. In addition, Google rewards responsive sites with higher search engine rankings.
You can test your site to see if it is responsive by minimizing the window size on your monitor, and/or by viewing it on your phone. If it is not responsive, it may be time for a new website.
Stay current and join the responsive crowd!
Albuquerque’s gathering place for the New Mexico climbing community would be stoked if you took a look at their new website – and so would Studio Hill Design. The indoor climbing gym is on the cutting edge of facilities across the Southwest and now clearly stems the gap on the web too. Fully responsive and optimized for both mobile and desktop, the website doubles down on the welcoming environment of their brick and mortar. On the technology side, the website utilizes the endless flexibility of the WordPress CMS and seamlessly integrates RockGym Pro to allow climbers to book classes and schedule events. clip in and check it out. http://www.climbstoneage.com
New 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.
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:
In 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.
Here is a closer look at some of the numbers according to the Online Marketing Institute;
• 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.
Choosing 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Avoid Hyphens and Numbers – It is just too complicated to explain that ninetofive is really 9to5 or nine-2-five. Spell it out.
- 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.
- 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.
Impressions count and people talk. People want to talk about new exciting things and a huge part of getting people to talk about you is walking the walk.
If your website has not been overhauled since 2008, there is nothing to talk about. It is that simple. In order to generate buzz you need to create it. Hardly a day goes by that you do not head out your front door without thinking about the kind of impression you are going to make. This is exactly how you should be thinking about your business.
If you fail to define, refine and manage your brand, like it or not, the world will do it for you.
But don’t limit this way of thinking to just your website. This concept applies to all of your social channels and your brand’s public persona. This includes your logo, your collateral, your social media and your branding. You need to be regularly evaluating your customers’ expectations and their experiences associated with your company. Are they finding the value and the meaning behind your products or services that you intend for them to see? Or are they seeing something else? Are they seeing something good or something bad? Helpful or neutral? And how can you get them back on track if they have mistranslated your brand?
Once you identify areas where your brand has gotten off track, you can take steps to shift all channels into alignment. You can strengthen your brand message and educate your customers about the value you have to offer. After all, this isn’t 2008 anymore and at some point, every cobbler needs a new pair of shoes. How do yours look? Do you need a polish or a new pair?
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.