Albuquerque has a new Ride!

21 brand new city buses just rolled in to Albuquerque. Studio Hill Design provided the concept and design work on the buses, including the new coordinated interiors. The new ABQ RIDE buses, managed by The City of Albuquerque Transit Department, are a big change from the previous bus designs.

“We felt this was a highly visible opportunity to help brand and promote Albuquerque.”

Read more at Albuquerque Business First >>

According to Sandy Hill of Studio Hill Design, “The city buses are large and they are everywhere. We felt this was a highly visible opportunity to help brand and promote Albuquerque. Working with ABQ RIDE, we selected 8 cultural icons unique to our city, and illustrated a different one on each bus, along with the tagline ‘Where You Want to Go.’ The illustrations will engage visitors and inspire them to see more of our city. Locals will be reminded of why this is such a special place to call home.”

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Read more at Albuquerque Business First >>

In addition to the cultural icons that are displayed on the sides of the buses, Studio Hill Design developed an entirely new color palette for ABQ Ride. The palette was chosen to enhance and coordinate with the existing turquoise used on the bus shelters and on the Alvarado Transit Center window trim. A modern, fresh lime green was selected and used as a natural complement to this classic New Mexican color. The lower section of the buses are detailed with graphics representing the streets and bus stops of a transit map and applied in highly visible reflective vinyl to keep our city safer.

A new, coordinating ABQ RIDE logo was also developed as a modernized, simplified graphic that is easier to read and works well on various applications including the bus shelters, print materials, and of course, the buses themselves.  Catch the Ride!

 

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 Poor design could mean that the site is simply outdated or it fails to reflect the core character of the business it was meant to represent.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.

It’s a Good Sign

seasons_signAs a highly successful Albuquerque real estate magnate once said, “All you need is a good sign.” At last, Seasons Rotisserie and Grill can attract the attention of all those Old Town passersby with their new, larger, well designed and lit sign on Mountain Road. Studio Hill designed the new larger sign to coordinate with the architecture and to attract attention, day or night. Sign on!

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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What makes a successful social media brand?

free_social_media_icons_image_ubersocialmediaLet me share a little secret with you. You know that social media campaign that your competitor just launched? The one that keeps popping into your customers’ inboxes and social media feeds? The one that has you scrambling to play catch up? Well here is the secret – the intern didn’t do it and neither did the company CEO. No, really. That insightful blog post, the ingenious timing and motivating call to action, the one that got even you to almost press the share button on your Facebook page – they didn’t do that in house. It was written by an advertising and marketing company. The same folks who produce the best advertising, the best billboards, the best print campaigns, and the best brands also produce the best social media content. In the same manner that you went out of your way to hire the best bookkeeper you could find, they went out of their way to hire the best social media expert they could find. And they are kicking your butt.

So what do you do? First you should understand exactly what a social media campaign is. It is building relationships over time backed by a game plan to maintain those relationships. Effective social media is not just posting every other day, tweeting a few times a week and then counting Followers and Likes. Instead, it is publishing engaging useful content on a consistent basis combined with excellent customer service and expertise in your particular industry. What does it get you? More sales. Over time, the cumulative effect of meeting and perhaps exceeding the expectations of your readers, your customers and even your vendors will have them talking. Word gets around.

So is it that simple? Do you just hire someone, give them access to your Facebook account and set them free? Not quite. Think of it like this. In the same way it would be unwise to have nothing more than a New York Times strategy it would be unwise to have a nothing more than a Facebook strategy. Your social presence needs to be a cohesive, integral part of your overall business plan along with your website, brick and mortar, company advertising, marketing and public relations. All of these reflect your company’s philosophy and unique value. To be successful, your social media voice must combine a deep knowledge of your business and offer valuable content delivered with the appropriate tone and an art for persuasion through beautiful creative and branding.

So the secret is out of the bag. Great social media brands don’t just happen. They are created through careful and deliberate planning by experts. Sort of like what your bookkeeper does. If you understand that kind of thing.

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.

Seattle Fish Company of New Mexico launches NetFish

For 25 years, Seattle Fish Company of New Mexico has provided high quality seafood to restaurants and retailers. When they decided to offer their products online to home consumers, they chose Studio Hill Design to create the new company brand.

We coined the name NetFish, along with the tagline “Catch the Tastiest Fish Online.” A cyber bitmapped fish image was developed as the logo, and applied to packaging, a market booth, t-shirts and trucks.

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Define, Refine and Manage Your Brand

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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?

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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