3 Tips to Keep In Mind When Developing Your Website’s Navigation

3 Tips to Keep In Mind When Developing Your Website’s Navigation

Daniel Kelly

Daniel Kelly

Web Design & Digital Growth Specialist

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Developing a website is a balancing act that you can easily learn. You have to make sure data-driven decision making and usability concerns conform to the design of website navigation systems. Navigation helps users find information and functionality, encouraging them to take desirable actions. It allows them to get from one part of a site to another and includes standard elements such as search bars, top-level menu items, and dropdown lists. It also provides users with a sense of context and comfort as they explore new places.

Website navigation conventions may be challenged but should not break out from traditional navigation systems. It must allow visitors to visit a website for the first time and immediately let them get around knowingly, regardless whether the content on that site is familiar or completely foreign.

To make sure your website can easily be navigated, consider the following tips in your design:

Your Website: To DIY or Not

Tip #1: Think twice before putting up a persona-specific website

Developing a clear, well-documented image of your client’s buyer personas can help you in developing your website’s information architecture. However, persona-specific navigation forces your visitors to self-identify and can make them feel that they are alienated. You might also miss out on some profiles or fail to identify their need which decreases the availability of information which can lead them to nowhere. Therefore, avoid a navigational structure with “I am an xxx searching for xxx.”

Tip #2: Do not focus on format-based navigation

Some developers believe that users are seeking out videos when visiting a website. Video is a great way to deliver information about your business in an engaging way. It also increases time-on-page and promotes social sharing and organic growth. However, you must keep in mind that people are coming to your site to seek out answers to specific questions, not specific types of content unless of course, you are Youtube or Netflix. Therefore, avoid resource categories like “Videos”, “Ebooks” and “Blog Posts” but rather use “Understanding xxx” or “How to xxx.”

Best Practice #3: Steer clear of branded terminology for SEO

The goal of search engine optimization is to land your business on the first page of search results for certain terms. To achieve this, you have to generate high-quality content with your target keywords among other strategies which may cost you time and money.

Some businesses coin new keywords then disseminate them with hopes that once they increase in popularity, they will be the first one there. However, branding may or may not do the trick. Top-level navigation is focused on helping users find what they need and people normally type in keywords that are ‘unbranded.” SEO is a vital factor but if it doesn’t help navigation do its job, it’s just being detrimental to the user experience.

Conclusion

Your website should answer to how users call your product or service, not how you call them. Before breaking out from the best practices, consider the long history of standardized navigation systems as well as the high costs of breaking from these conventions. Otherwise, just go with the norm.

Growth-Driven Design: Agile for Web

Growth-Driven Design: Agile for Web

Daniel Kelly

Daniel Kelly

Web Design & Digital Growth Specialist

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What comes to your mind when you think of a website design? Is it the look of the pages? The images that come with the content? A lot of people tend to think of these things but it’s all wrong. Majority of businesses find themselves blowing their budget on a website which turns out to be futile. It simply doesn’t deliver. This is because most websites are designed to be pretty. They aren’t designed to perform. Wouldn’t it be nice if your website is not just pretty but is also designed with more important things in mind such as strategy, lead generation, goal attainment, and keeping your customers happy?

Design is the most important part of a strong marketing platform. It impacts a lot of key assets that are used to attract, convert, and please potential leads and customers. These include the brand logo, websites, social media platforms, paid ads, and physical materials. A superb and consistent design identifies your company and can make or break it.

This is where agile development comes in. Agile development is used in reference to start-up companies, especially in the software space. It divides tasks into short phases of work, with constant reassessment and adaptation of plans.

Web design should take the agile development approach with a focus on the frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans. It is an iterative development process that
focuses on your key analytics and data, surely not on a pretty front page.

Your Website: To DIY or Not

A Shift to Agile

With a Growth-Driven Design (GDD), you build and optimize your website so that it can achieve your goals. The key elements involved here are analytics, buyer personas, and data, aligning the design elements with conversion funnels, content, and structure.

Growth-driven design websites are often optimized for performance. You don’t stop looking for the best ways to connect with your audience. It’s not a new concept but traditional agency approaches to digital design are outdated and must, therefore, be challenged.

So what makes GDD different from traditional web design? If you have ever seen a building blueprint, you’ll know that everything is decided upon prior to construction. This is comparable to traditional web design. With GDD, it starts with a smart and agile process based on what you believe will work and then implemented quickly. This includes a framework and relevant content to connect with your main personas. Once it goes live, you take the actual data to make decisions and changes, applying quantitative and qualitative research strategies to identify and build the next feature or iteration of your website.

Once you find what has the most impact on the results and goals such as traffic or conversion percentages, you repeat the process, keeping the website components that work and optimizing what doesn’t. Now, let’s take a look at the three main pillars of GDD:

  1. Fewer risks compared to traditional website design – GDD’s shorter process allows you to focus on real impact and continuous learning.
  2. Continuous learning and improvements – WIth regular testing, analyzing, and learning about visitors, you will be able to reach peak performance.
  3. Closed-loop reporting – Other departments such as the marketing and sales team will also learn about visitor behaviour, helping them improve marketing and sales tactics.

Growth-Driven Design: The Works

Traditional web design often talks about the company whereas growth-driven design focuses on solving the problems of potential customers. You should keep in mind that your website should be about your customers, not you. This is why it is important to have a well-oiled marketing machine that not only delivers content but also solves problems. Now let’s take a look at how we can develop a strategic plan for your website design project.

The first phase of any website design project is to develop a comprehensive strategy, whether it’s for a traditional or growth-driven design. These key points will help you create the perfect strategy.

  • Goals and planning - First, ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish with your website. It is also very important to align your website with sales goals via inbound marketing!
  • Personas - Identify who your personas are so you can centre your web design around them.
  • Research - Get to know your customers by conducting quantitative and qualitative research and use the analytics to your advantage. You can gather insights from actual users or potential customers with heat maps and surveys such as HotJar.
  • Hypotheses - Use the data you’ve collected and hypothesize about your audience, focusing on your value proposition and key persona pain points first. This will help you create the first LaunchPad iteration of your website.
  • Page strategy - Map out your dream site with UX in mind. Stick to the most important elements and align them with your buyer’s journey. Track the most successful topics which will be useful for building for future iterations.

Your Wish List

In this stage, you should come up with ideas on what to add, remove, or edit on your site. You and your team should look at the data you have gathered so you can decide what kind of pages or content can support potential visitors. What should your list include?

  • Changes for user experience, visitor tools, features, functionality, design, and the most helpful website sections and pages.
  • Your wants and needs. You can decide on this by looking at impacts, efforts, and metrics.
  • Your priorities. Together with your team, decide on what you’ll tackle first.

After The Launch

Once you’ve got your website up and running, you should then shift your efforts to continuous improvement, the next growth iterations, and tests to run. You can accomplish this through an ongoing cycle.

  1. Planning – Look at the changes you’ve implemented and analyze the results. Then, refer to your wish list and decide on what you would implement next based on the following:
  • Performance - Check if your website is reaching the goals you’ve set up. Again, refer to your wishlist and see what else you can implement to improve your results.
  • Collaborate with the marketing and sales team - Gather new and useful information that you can add to your wishlist.
  • Prioritize - Once you’ve updated your wishlist with the new data you’ve collected, decide on which one to prioritize. They should be focused on boosting conversion, improving user experience, personalization to the user, and building marketing assets.
  1. Developing – With your new list of changes or additions, implement and develop them on your website.
  • Ask your team to implement the list of items you have chosen.
  • Test the impact each change has on your website and measure the results.
  1. Learning – Growth-driven design lets you learn from every change you make. You can always go back through them and learn from your edits and additions.
  • Allow enough time to pass then collect and analyze your data. From here, you can begin to see if your hypotheses are correct which can help you adjust accordingly. You can even turn your hypotheses and experiments into valuable content for your audience.
  • Ask yourself if the changes made any impact. The results should tell you something about your visitors.
  1. Transferring – Record everything you’ve learned so you can transfer it to other parts of your website which can effectively magnify success in future iterations. Remember, the growth-driven design process is a continuous cycle and there is always going to be something you can improve on. Make sure you’re taking the time to repeat the process.

Implementation Tools

You need to look for ways to measure your initial website performance and the results you get from the growth-driven design changes. You can use inbound marketing tools such as Google Analytics, HubSpot, or other customer relationship management (CRM) for this.

  1. Drivers – Drivers bring users to your website and will help you analyze and understand your visitors’ purpose. You can use tools such as feedback polls, surveys, and user tests to determine your drivers. SurveyMonkey is a popular tool for surveys.
  2. Barriers – Barriers could cause users to leave your website because of the things your site does or does not have. These could be pricing issues, lack of trust, confusing or missing calls to action, bad user experience, and so on.

    To rectify this, you can use tools such as heatmaps, feedback polls, conversion funnels, surveys, and recruiting user testers like HotJar.
  3. Calls-to-Action – Calls-to-Action (CTAs) are specific pieces of your website that promote conversions which can take the form of offers to a valuable piece of content or other information. With a CTA, you can convert first-time visitors to view your latest blog post or offer someone who is in the decision-making stage a demo of your product.

    CTAs can easily be managed by HubSpot. They often point to e-books, webinars, and other premium content.

Cost-Benefit of GDD

The goal of growth-driven design is to preserve resources and time as well as eliminate wasteful changes through continuous user-driven improvements. How does it differ from traditional web design?

Characteristics of traditional website design:

  • Requires a large upfront cost
  • Takes a minimum of three months to complete
  • Cost and time can fluctuate
  • May lack updates for 1 to 2 years after launch
  • Assumes everything is perfect and perform as planned

Characteristics of growth-driven design:

  • The cost can be divided into manageable monthly fees
  • Can be optimized for any combination of cost, schedule, or scope
  • Shorter launch time
  • Allows for constant improvements so you can focus on real impact and continuous learning
  • Tightly integrated with marketing and sales

Effect of GDD on Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing and growth-driven design are both about testing, working together to produce results. As an example, let’s say you have a landing page that doesn’t perform well. You can see that there is traffic but most of the visitors are not converting. This is where the analytics come in. From here, if you see that the users who fail to convert are coming from mobile devices, you can hypothesize that they don’t want to fill out the long-form that you have on the landing page.

Your next step would be to test out a smart form that only asks for the name and email when a mobile user lands on the page. Run the campaign for a month and if you discover that the landing page has increased conversion rate by let’s say 20 per cent, you can then transfer this information to all of your landing pages and implement smart forms for mobile
users site-wide.

What to Look for in a Growth-Driven Design Partner

With millions of web designers out there, your next design partner should possess these qualities:

  • Has a track record with inbound marketing - Creating an inbound focused website can mean the difference between the new design and a website that significantly increases leads and opportunities.
  • Expertise in CMS - Look for someone who is experienced with the content management system on which you are building your site. This will ensure your site can be easily updated without the need for constant developer help.
  • Business-minded - Your design partner should have a clear understanding of how your website can impact your bottom line. This ensures your investment generates a return.
  • Uses clean and modern designs - Your partner should be adept at applying clean and modern design elements to websites. They should know how to avoid design glitches and are detail-oriented.
  • Trusted process - Find a design partner that follows a sound design and development process for both your launchpad site and each monthly sprint. A trusted process will minimize cost and schedule overruns and demonstrate expertise in agile web development.
  • Personal experience - Look for a partner who will do the job himself! Design companies that rely on interns, off-shoring, and contractors are not a good idea.
  • Personalization - Seek a partner who can demonstrate expertise in personalization. This can provide a better visitor experience and enhance conversion rates.

Conclusion

The growth-driven design puts the customers first by looking at the analytics and
assessing their behaviour. Figuring out how your potential customers are behaving on a website can help you provide them with the information they need. SEO should be a standard part of every website to position it for success. It should be integrated and handled internally.

Finally, make sure you apply the growth-driven design concept of “plan, develop, learn, and transfer” to your business strategy from conception to completion, and you’ll be happy with the results.

The Fool-Proof Approach to Growth-Driven Web Design

The Fool-Proof Approach to Growth-Driven Web Design

Daniel Kelly

Daniel Kelly

Web Design & Digital Growth Specialist

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If you are looking for a web design approach that can deliver results and bring measurable value to your business, the answer lies in a Growth-Driven Design. What is Growth-Driven Design and how can it produce better results and grow your business?

Growth-Driven Design is the smarter, more agile, and data-driven approach that minimizes the errors that traditional web design makes. It creates a huge potential for you and your business so you shouldn’t even think twice about having a web design or redesign using this innovative, growth-driven approach.

Your Website: To DIY or Not

Why Traditional Web Design is Heading Out the Door

Your website plays more roles than you realize.

  1. It is your best marketing asset and centrepiece of your marketing activities.
  2. It is where you drive all your marketing efforts.
  3. It is the first place that prospects go to when looking for information about your products or services.
  4. It is your best salesperson.

Now let’s take a look at the traditional website design process.

  • Large up-front cost - An average website typically costs between $15k and $80k upfront.
  • Requires significant time and resource - An average small to medium-sized business (SMB) website typically takes three months to complete and requires a lot of resources and energy from the design team. Not only that. It has no scaleable results to show until it gets launched.
  • Unpredictable - Most web dev projects are over budget, not on time, and not flexible which can push back any potential ROI.
  • Subjective designs with no performance guarantee - You will be held accountable for a measurable increase in a result which you have no control over.

After its launch, a website typically sits idle with no updates for 1.5 to 2 years. How can you let something you’ve spent all your time and budget on remain unchanged for years? If you do small improvements like adding blogs or landing pages, well, they don’t count.

Accept the Fact That Change is Constant

Now that you’ve been enlightened, the time has come to embrace a quick and agile web design that produces better results and ROI. This is where Growth-Driven Design comes in. It is a completely new approach and way of thinking when it comes to building and growing your website.

Growth-Driven Design has its benefits:

  • Lessens the risks associated with traditional web design - With the systematic approach to web design that shortens the time to launch, you can focus on the real impact it produces and work from there.
  • Continuous learning and improvement - Constant research, testing, and learning about visitors can promote improvements and peak performance.
  • Disseminate learnings to other channels - Growth-Driven Design is closely integrated with marketing and sales so as soon as you get new user data, you can immediately share it with them, and vice versa.

Stages of Growth-Driven Design Phase One

Now, how do you approach a Growth-Driven Design? Let’s divide the approach into two phases and here are the three stages you have to follow for phase 1:

  1. Come up with your strategy – This is where you set a solid foundation to build your Growth-Driven Design taking into consideration the following:
  • Goals - Decide on what you want to achieve with your website, what you’d like to improve from the previous one, and assess its impact on the marketing department’s goal.
  • Personas - Research and develop a detailed representation of the different types of visitors or personas that you want to attract to your site. This is very important since Growth-Driven Design is user-centred. You can group your personas based on the characteristics that your audience shares such as job title, industry, etc.
  • Quantitative Research | Website & Analytics Audit - Measure the performance of your existing website to see what’s working and what’s not. From here, you should be able to see where your users are dropping off which can help you make improvements.
  • Qualitative Research | User Research - Reach out to your existing users and learn more about them. It will be useful to understand who they are and engage with them. This will also provide you with more information for your persona profiles.
  • Fundamental Assumptions - Gather all the information together and form the fundamental assumptions about your users which are important in explaining their behaviour and motivations. This will then help you in global and page strategy as well as for future Growth-Driven Design cycles. Make sure to include assumptions such as:
  • - The location and devices that they will be accessing your website from
  • - The value proposition for each service, product, and offer
  • - What information they are looking for
  • Global and Page Strategy - Develop a global strategy for the website as a whole as well as a specific page-by-page strategy for each major page on your website. Incorporate all of the previous steps and layout exactly how to best engage and influence the user in both strategies.
  1. Create a wishlist – Next, you come up with a wishlist using your strategy takeaways together with your team. Set your existing website aside and brainstorm for creative and innovative ideas that will create an impact on your site. Include the following factors:
  • Your website section and pages
  • Marketing assets, tools, and resources
  • Modules, functionality, and special features
  • Elements of design
  • Changes in experience based on devices, location, etc.

You are not expected to implement all the ideas you have come up with at once. Some may even remain to be a “wish”. The important thing is to gather all your goals together setting aside money, time, and development skill issues. This will help you in implementing your strategy and you can add or remove items as you go along.

  1. Create a wishlist – Next, you come up with a wishlist using your strategy takeaways together with your team. Set your existing website aside and brainstorm for creative and innovative ideas that will create an impact on your site. Include the following factors:
  • Run the Pareto Principle or 80/20 analysis on your wishlist - Go back to your wishlist and determine which items you want to first implement on your Launch Pad website. Identify 20% of the items that will produce 80% of the impact and value for your website’s users. Then filter the wants and the needs and prioritize the needs, sending the wants back to the wishlist. Narrow your focus to the needs since these will create the most impact on your website.
  • Create hypothesis statements for each core action item - Creating a hypothesis statement will help you clearly see how each action item can affect your goals, the personas you’re targeting, and your expected results. You can consider the following:
  • - Expected Impact - This is the value — a single number — your visitors will get from the action item and the impact it will have on your goal.
  • - Effort Required - This value — a single number — represents a combination of the number of hours, resources, and difficulty to implement a particular action time.
  • - Metrics Measured - Here, you come up with all the specific metrics that you will need to test the action item and evaluate the correctness of your hypothesis.
  • - Definition of Complete - How would you determine if the action item completed? Figure out the factors which will be very helpful in erasing doubts in the future — when reviewing results or efficiency.
  • Web implementation process - Once you have identified the most critical action items to include on your Launch Pad site, you can run them through the standard website implementation process including:
  • - Messaging and content
  • - User experience (UX) and site architecture
  • - Inbound marketing strategy alignment
  • - Wireframes
  • - Designs
  • - Development
  • - Quality assurance and testing
  • Set up data collection - Setting up data collection can help you learn about your visitors once your Launch Pad site is live. Consider the following when collecting data:
  • - Your goals as defined in the strategy phase
  • - Your fundamental assumptions
  • - Your hypothesis statement

Stages of Growth-Driven Design Phase Two

As previously discussed, once you have launched your Launch Pad website, continuous improvement starts. Your wishlist should be re-evaluated, implemented, and updated regularly. They should revolve around your personas, providing value to each of them who visits your site. To make sure you don’t skip a step, follow these:

  1. Plan – Identify the most impactful items to implement. To do this, you must identify the following:
  • Review the performance and goals - Review the current performance of your website and compare that to your goals. This will help you identify where to improve on.
  • Conduct additional research and gather more data - This will help you see if you need to add more action items to your wishlist. Ponder on this while reviewing your performance and goals.
  • Collaborate with the marketing and sales team - Ask the marketing and sales teams if they learned something new about the target personas which you can turn into action items. For example, they might have launched a blog that yielded a lot of organic and social visitors. That particular well-received topic is a gem of information that you can use in your Growth-Driven Design program.
  • Hold another brainstorming session and prioritize your wishlist - Based on all the new information you have gathered, another brainstorming session will help you determine any new action items to add to your wishlist.

Your action items should do the following:

  • Boost conversion - These include conversion points, user path, testing value props, and split testing which are directly related to conversion rate optimization.
  • Improve user experience - These include navigation, UI improvements, and mobile experience. The goal here is to give the user a better experience, make it easier for them to navigate, find what they are looking for, and solve their problems.
  • Personalized to the user - Here, you adapt your site, calls-to-action, content offers, etc. to the interests, device or country, and previous actions that occurred on your site.
  • Build marketing assets - These include tools, marketing resources, and SEO-focused assets that will help provide value to the end-user and your company.
  • General updates on your website - Update your website with new information that comes up from time to time. These can also be added to your wishlist.

Prioritize your wishlist to high, medium, and low based on their impact on the goal of the website and value to the user. Pick the one with the most impact and implement it then you can go back for another!

  1. Develop – Get everyone on the team working and start implementing your most impactful items on the site. Each of these action items should be considered an experiment to see the impact it has on the performance of the website. Measure your experiments by setting up validation tracking around the metrics outlined in the action item. Once your experiment goes live on the site, develop a marketing campaign such as blogging to drive traffic to that section and start collecting data. During this time, build and schedule that marketing campaign with your marketing team.
  2. Learn – Review the data you collected about your visitors then use the information to validate or disprove the hypothesis on your action item card. Disseminate the positive information to everyone within the organization using a structured system for publishing. This way, you can easily reference back to it.
  3. Transfer – In this last step, you have to transfer all relevant information to other parts of your business. Look for useful patterns and proofs that they can implement in their activities. Put your recommendations together, host a meeting, and brainstorm for ways to integrate and translate the ideas into fruition.

Repeat everything

Now that you’re able to successfully complete a cycle, go back to the beginning and plan the next one. Your goal is to get better results and more insights about your visitors with each cycle. Keep in mind that the more cycles you complete, the more impact it will have on your website.

Adopting the flexible Growth-Driven Design methodology has produced huge success to companies utilizing it. Growth-Driven Design is the smarter approach to your website so start implementing it now.

Important checklist for your web design process

Important checklist for your web design process

Daniel Kelly

Daniel Kelly

Web Design & Digital Growth Specialist

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Don’t you wish that launching a new website is as easy as posting a status on Facebook or Instagram? You know, upload photos, add content, click a button, and reach thousands of followers in a few short hours.

Time to wake up now. To make your website launch a little bit painless and easy, let’s look beyond the approved designs and development. Follow these simple steps and you’re on your way to a successful launch.

Your Website: To DIY or Not

Check your final design

Here, the design, development, and account management teams collaborate to ensure that all aspects of the developed site are visually aligned with the approved designs. What do you look out for?

  • InVision Mock-Ups: Check your developed pages against InVision mock-ups to see what the final design will look like. Go over the comments carefully to make sure everything is covered.
  • Stock Images: Make sure all stock images you used have been purchased and free from watermarks.
  • Favicon: Add a favicon to the site before launching. This helps in improving user experience.
  • Responsiveness: Use various devices to navigate the site and check if the design flows naturally and views correctly.
  • Fonts: Check if all the fonts are correct. If you’re using Typekit, the final domain needs to be added to the kit, not just the staging URL. Failing to do will show default fonts, which may affect your font-size and layouts.

Double-check your content

Make sure your content is proofread properly.

  • Final Copy - Check every page for grammar and spelling errors. Read through each page aloud, ensure there are spaces after periods, and make sure you got all the names correctly spelled in the About Us page.
  • Copyright - You can set the copyright date dynamically so that it’s always pulling the current year.
  • Punctuation - Check for consistent punctuation and letter-spacing especially for designs that have titles or buttons with all uppercase letters since it can be easy to miss a punctuation mark.
  • Downloadable Files - Make sure that Call-to-Action (CTA) or landing page forms are linked to the correct PDFs and that the PDFs are migrated over to the new site.

Check the functionality

People find it more engaging if they can interact with a website so make sure your site functions the way you intend it to be. It is important that you go through the following:

  • Links - Make sure all final links are inserted and are leading to the correct pages. This includes buttons or CTAs on the pages.
  • Forms - Check if test forms submit correctly and notify the right people when submitted. You can do this by filling them out yourself. Also, make sure you include a thank you message!
  • Compatibility - Check how your site looks and functions on different browsers/devices. Are the popups are actually popping up? Do the sliders slide?

It’s all about SEO

Optimize pages to land on the top spot of Google’s search results and remain there! To do that, look out for these:

  • 301 Redirects - Create 301 redirects from the old pages to the new ones so that previous SEO isn’t lost.
  • 404 Page - Make sure a 404 page exists for the site. This helps increase your conversions.
  • Sitemap - Create a sitemap which makes it easier for search engines to find all your website’s content.
  • Metadata - Make sure you add meta description and title tags to pages as well as alt tags to images.
  • Site Speed - Check your site’s speed and optimize when necessary.
  • Optimize Images - Use JPGs where you can and run PNGs through an image optimization tool such as ImageOptim. You don’t want to sit in front of your screen waiting for images to load and neither do your visitors.
  • Analytics - Implement tracking codes on your site to help measure the success of your launch.

Train your client

Training your client is a crucial step in a site launch. Why?

  • Your client gets to know how their site was built and realize the complexity that went with the process.
  • It helps them make changes to the site on their own rather than go running to you when they want to change an image or make small edits to a copy.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve gone through the nitty-gritty details of your newly created website, you can breathe easy knowing it’s going to be a successful one so go ahead and launch it.

4 Qualities a Creative Agribusiness Designer Must Have

4 Qualities a Creative Agribusiness Designer Must Have

Daniel Kelly

Daniel Kelly

Web Design & Digital Growth Specialist

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Choosing a good designer to provide you with creative services is very important, especially if you are in the agricultural business. They should have a deep understanding of the culture that is built on values nesting on tradition, honesty, and entrepreneurship. More important than sharing the unique story, they should also know how to preserve this while connecting with the audience.

Your Website: To DIY or Not

Not Your Ordinary Designer

What do you look for when investing in creative services for your agribusiness?

1. Superior talent and expertise

The way design is delivered is constantly evolving. It is therefore important that the designer you choose is updated on the latest technologies and can work with any form of media.

2. A tailored approach to design

Not all businesses are alike and it takes more than pretty pictures to get your word out. A good designer knows how to dig deep into your market to make you stand out from the competition. They should know how to make independent research before coming up with the final design for your agribusiness.

3. A proven track record in the agriculture sector

Look for a designer with whom you have a good rapport. A smooth contractor-client working relationship will produce the best solutions to meet your business needs.

4. A friendly design team

While handling your own social media marketing may sound grand, it does have its downside:

Conclusion

Establishing your company’s branding, creating and updating your website and marketing materials, and devising a marketing strategy to attract your ideal customers are the main reasons you are hiring a designer. Make sure you choose the right one for the job.

How poor web design will affect your business

How poor web design will affect your business

Daniel Kelly

Daniel Kelly

Web Design & Digital Growth Specialist

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A lot of small business owners tend to overlook the aesthetic appeal of their company website, focusing instead on social media which is understandably free and easy to setup. What they don’t know is that a great website helps extend their reach, increases brand awareness and reputation, and impacts their presence on the internet.

Your Website: To DIY or Not

Increasing Customer Conversion and Engagement​

A well-designed website sets the tone for your company’s culture, brand, and value. It is also helpful in boosting your SEO (search engine optimisation), increasing your website’s ranking. This then allows people to find your business on the internet with the help of your search engine’s algorithms.

Putting up your own website may be easy and save you some money at the beginning but it’s gonna cost you a lot in the long run, unless you really know what you’re doing. An unprofessional looking website will not convey a clear brand message and only hurt your reputation.

What are the characteristics of an organised, modern, and responsive website?

1. It Increases Customer Conversion/Engagement

Having a well-designed and well-organised website can help your customers quickly find what they are looking for. This will reduce the likelihood that they leave the site empty-handed. What tabs must your website visibly have and where should they be located?

  • Logo - this must be found at the left side of the web page and allows users to go back to the home page when clicked.
  • Contact - this tab must contain your complete contact information, located at the bottom of the page.
  • Social media icons - these must be at the top right of your website.

Once this has been set up, you can ask a few people to try navigating your website and ask for feedback on user experience. You can also use the A/B testing method which tests two groups of people using two slightly different versions of your website. Otherwise, keeping it clean and organised should be enough.

A study conducted on health websites allowed researchers to identify the trust factors that design elements and content give to web visitors. 94% of the participants claimed that the design elements made the most impact while 6% said the actual content had the most effect the website’s credibility. The data gathered from this study hold the same basic principles that can be applied to other industries. What elements should you avoid?

  • Slow-loading website pages
  • Hard-to-read small prints
  • Boring web design that lacks colour
  • Busy or complex layouts
  • Pop-up advertisements and flamboyant ads
Avoiding these pitfalls will ensure that you’ll get the conversions you want and need.

2. It Tells Your Company’s Story and Represents Your Brand

Your website directly reflects your branding so make sure to make it credible. It would also be helpful if you use the same colours and elements as your print marketing collateral such as brochures and digital ads which will help connect it to your brand and boost how users perceive it. A user-friendly website that is inviting also helps customers feel confident in your services and more likely to reach out to you. This increases their brand trust and likelihood for referral in the future.

How can your website be perceived as a credible one?

  • Looks professionally designed
  • Arranged in a logical way
  • Provides a useful set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers
  • Provides articles/blogs containing citations and references
  • Shows author’s credentials
  • Provides an archive of past content (where appropriate)
  • Provides links to outside sources and materials
  • As up-to-date as possible
  • Frequently linked to by other credible sites

Your website’s content, as well as call-to-action, plays a major role when it comes to conversions. When writing CTA, consider using the word “free” which is said to increase sign up rate by 4.2%.

Well written and useful content is another characteristic a credible website has. If you want to further increase brand trust, share blogs on your social media channels occasionally. In doing so, users will perceive you as an industry leader, making them go to your website for advice and expertise.

3. It Is Built for Search Engine Optimisation

Based on a survey, 85% of consumers use Google to help them find information about products before they make a purchase. This is one reason why when considering a website build or redesign, it’s important to always have SEO in mind.

A lot of people have been applying parallax design on their websites. Parallax scrolling is a special scrolling technique where background images throughout a web page move slower than foreground images, creating an illusion of depth on a two-dimensional site. However, parallax scrolling is not good for SEO. Search engines like to see websites that provide several, content-rich pages to users. Parallax sites are usually just one or two pages at most and having multiple H1 headers on the same page which is not SEO friendly either.

A study also showed that 68% of users in the United States are using the internet using a smartphone. This is why content should be readable across multiple devices, browsers, and platforms. Moreover, when a user is using a mobile device and searching for a business or item, Google’s newest algorithm update prioritize those websites that have a responsive (mobile) website.

Colour in Web Design

4. It Has An Aesthetic Appeal

Every great website is designed with three important factors: logic, art, and creativity. A beautiful website makes its users unconsciously happy, making them stay longer and navigate more. Furthermore, a positive emotional appeal can turn into solid action.

Colour has a big influencing effect on the consumer buying behaviour and plays a major role in marketing products. According to a study, it accounts for 85% of the reason why someone decides to purchase a product. This is why you should consider your purpose and audience so you can use colours the right way.

  • Big bold red or blue fonts for headlines can help develop a feeling of trust.
  • Blue, purple, and green are preferred by women and they dislike grey, orange, and brown.
  • Blue, green, and black are preferred by men and they dislike purple, orange, and brown.
  • Yellow is used for warnings.
  • Green is ideal for environmental and outdoor products.
  • Orange is a fun colour that can create a sense of haste or impulse.
  • Black adds a sense of luxury and value.
  • Primary colours preferably red are best for your call to action.
  • Use a little bit of white here and there.

Conclusion

Your website’s design can make or break your online reputation so make sure to take advantage of the opportunity to make an impact on your audience. Invest in a professionally designed website to ensure your company’s success.

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The Pros And Cons of Building Your Own Website

Retail Web Design

The Pros And Cons of Building Your Own Website

Retail Web Design
Daniel Kelly

Daniel Kelly

Web Design & Digital Growth Specialist

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A website is just like a house. Any homeowner would want it to be solid and functional from the ground up, with every room rightly in place. This is why they’d hire an architect, an interior designer, and a contractor to make sure it turns out the way they want and need it to be.

A lot of business owners, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and start-ups attempt to build their own websites. If you are thinking along the same line, consider the pros and cons of hiring a web designer before you do so.

Your Website: To DIY or Not

Why You Should Hire a Pro Web Designer

Why You Should Hire a Pro

1. It’s their forte.

Professional web developers spent a lot of time learning and honing their designing skills. They know the best practices, what needs to be done, and how to do it. They are also familiar with the functions of the different types of web platforms such as HubSpot, WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify including tech support. This means no cramming and guesswork when it comes to your website.

2. They come with the right tools.

Building a functional and user-friendly website requires the right tools, software, and information for the best results. Skilled and professional web developers have invested and come complete with these tools to build an amazing website. They also know the right talent to create graphics, illustrations, and imagery as well as content, SEO, and analytics/reporting.

3. You end up with a professional-looking website users will love.

Professional web developers are likely to have encountered every possible glitch a website can have so you can be sure yours will be free from them. They also know minute details—such as the tiny URL icons—to make them look complete and professional.

What Hinders People From Hiring a Pro​ Web Designer

What Hinders People From Hiring a Pro

1. It comes with a fee.

Would you hire a hairstylist to cut and dye your hair or would you trust yourself to do it? Most people won’t. Getting your website built by a professional designer is going to cost money. It’s a skill that they have invested their time and money with.

2. It can’t be rushed.

Creating a website is an art and most professional web designers need time to get their creative juices flowing. They also have other clients lined up in a queue. Yes, people are actually getting their websites built professionally. A web design project will take some time as well as a number of edits and revisions. Give it around two months before reaching completion.

3. They might get scammed.

We all know that scammers are everywhere. There are also web designers who might not meet your expectations in the long run. The best way to avoid this is to do your own research, ask for references, and look through their portfolio. It is also a good idea to talk face-to-face or via voice call to see if you get good vibes with your ideal candidate. You might also want to have a written agreement drawn with a clear list of your expectations and requirements.

Why People DIY Their Website​

Why People DIY Their Website

1. They think it will save them money.

Building a DIY website is great because you get to work at your own pace and time. If it’s a rush, you can make it a top priority and put everything together in a short span of time. Otherwise, you can work on it on turtle pace—which might take forever.

2. They get to be their own boss.

Professional web developers don’t come with superpower mind-reading capabilities so building a DIY website saves people a lot of time spent on brainstorming and explaining about their business.

Why You Should Not DIY Your Website​

Why You Should Not DIY Your Website

1. Your website might turn out to be self-centred.

One of the drawbacks of building your own website is you might build it around yourself. Doing so will make your target persona lose interest, failing to convert them. Your website should be about your audience which the professional web developer knows how to address.

2. Leave it to the pro.

Professional web designers are called such because that’s what they are. Professionals. Unless you are one, leave the designing, development, content creation, and marketing in their capable hands. Focus on your products and services instead. Once they turn over the website to you, you can watch traffic and money pour in.

3. It will take you a lot of time.

Learning something new takes time. Creating your own website might be foremost on your mind but building your products and services will be more rewarding in the long run.

Conclusion

In this day and age, having the best products and services to offer will not ensure that a company reaches its business goals. People utilise the internet in search of their wants and needs and a user-friendly and professional-looking website will make sure you stay ahead of your competition.

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Why Growth-Driven Website Designs are Better Than Traditional Ones

Growth-Driven Website Design

Why Growth-Driven Website Designs are Better Than Traditional Ones

Growth-Driven Website Design

Designing a website takes a lot of work. You have to invest around 1-3 months of your time and about $15,000 to $80,000 for it.

However, there is an approach that will cut down on these two without sacrificing functionality and performance and that is by using growth-driven web design.

What is growth-driven design?

Growth-driven design (GDD) is a systematic website design and maintenance approach that helps in minimising the risks of traditional web design. This shortens the time to launch the website by focusing on the actual impact as well as continuous learning and improvement.

With the growth-driven design, you’ll be able to launch your website in as short as one month. Once it goes live, real-time and ongoing data analysis on how the website is performing is then fed back into the website in regular sprints, which is based on actual users. This means the website is constantly improving and continuously adapting to current conditions and markets.

Advantages of growth-driven website

Using a growth-driven design will let you enjoy the following benefits:

  • Minimise the risks of late delivery and blown-out costs
  • Produce better results through learning and continuous improvement
  • Promotes collaboration between departments, particularly sales and marketing
  • Flexible and responsive to changes in trends.
  • Requires less time to launch
  • The cost can be paid in monthly increments rather than upfront.
  • Data-driven functionality allows you to continuously improve your website and track ROI.
  • Capable of informing you how users behave which is helpful in improving marketing and sales strategies
  • Learnings and insights gained from other campaigns can be applied to the website almost immediately to help facilitate collaboration between departments.
  • Gives you an amazing website that puts you ahead of your competitors

The stages of growth-driven design

GDD undergoes three stages namely Strategy, Launch Pad, and Continuous Improvement. Here is an in-depth view of each stage:

1. Strategy stage

During this stage, you set out your objectives and create your buyer personas which includes customer demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations, and goals. This will help you in understanding your users’ motivations and pain points which is crucial in setting a solid foundation for your website.

For existing websites, a detailed audit needs to be undertaken to get key information about where your users are coming from, how they are interacting with your site, and why they’re engaging or heading elsewhere.

Once you have all this information, perform the Pareto Principle and make an 80/20 analysis of every feature and function you want the website to have. 20% of these must deliver 80% of the impact you desire. It is also important that you prioritise your website needs and set the wants aside, at least until the next monthly sprint cycle.

2. Launch pad stage

The launch pad is typically the final step in the traditional website design process but with the GDD, this is the stage where you begin the standard work. What do you perform here?
  • Design the content and messages
  • Construct the information architecture
  • COme up with the wireframe and design
  • Start the programming and development
  • Perform simple UX testing
The goal at this stage is to create a highly functioning website in a relatively short amount of time and quickly launch it. Once you get the site into users’ hands, you can start monitoring the performance of the site, look at the organic traffic, heatmaps, and bounce rates. With this data, you can immediately make updates based on initial user feedback.

3. Continuous improvement stage

This is the stage where you start turning all the user data into updates and your website into a lead-converting machine. It is done in monthly sprint cycles making GDD different from traditional website design.

The four steps in the monthly sprint cycle

The monthly sprint cycle goes through four steps. These include:

1. Planning

In this cycle, you compare your performance against the goals you outlined in Stage 1. It might be the right time to initiate the wants you previously identified in the strategy stage. It is also a good idea to consult with marketing and sales to see if there are any new learnings that could be applied on the website.

2. Building

Here, you put your plan into effect. Make sure to set up validation tracking codes so you can measure success metrics, and develop marketing campaigns to drive traffic to the new pages and features.

3. Learning

Here’s where you track if the changes you applied achieved your desired effect. It will then help you learn more about your user and confirm your hypotheses.

3. Transfering

In order to ensure that the entire organisation is on the same page, you need to transfer everything you have learned to them especially to the sales and marketing team.

Your website is the most important marketing and sales tool that you have. Making use of the growth-driven design approach will easily bring you to the next level and help you achieve your goals.

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6 Useful Tips for Redesigning a Website While Maintaining Its SEO Ranking

Keep your SEO rank with a website redesign

6 Useful Tips for Redesigning a Website While Maintaining Its SEO Ranking

Keep your SEO rank with a website redesign

If your website has been up and running for a few years now, chances are, you need to have it redesigned. Why? It could be that your marketing strategies have changed or you need to give your website a makeover to stay ahead of your competitors.

Planning for Success

Redesigning your website or migrating to a new content management system (CMS) takes a lot of planning. You’ve got to be careful not to damage your current SEO ranking which you spent years working on. Here are six tips to help you update your website without hurting its structure.

1. Make an inventory of your current site

Taking snapshots of what your site and ranks look like before the big change will provide helpful reference points, helping you evaluate the updated one once it’s launched.

What do you need to do?

  • Take note of your present SEO rank – Review the current rankings of your pages utilizing Google Analytics and take note of the keywords you used.
  • Crawl your existing site – This allows you to see the layout of your current site and get hold of the structure, meta description, current URLs, and title tags. You can then match your new site with the old one. How do you do that? You have the option to use Screaming Frog for this.
  • Verify your blocked content – Using your Robots.txt and/or Google Search Console, you can verify your blocked content and go back and make sure that they remain as is after the redesign.

2. Don’t make any drastic changes to your content

Keep your content the same by making minimal changes if needed. The title tag, meta description, URL, and the H1 – H6 should remain the same as much as possible. Why? They are the most crawled areas and if they are already ranking on Google, don’t mess with them.

3. Keep the website structure similar

Since you are trying to protect your ranking, keeping the architecture of your site close to similar with the old one will help search engines recognize it just like before. It’s okay to organize your navigation and files differently to keep up with your new website strategy and goals but make sure the structure stays the same. This also helps your existing visitors adapt to the new site seamlessly.

4. Keep your existing pages alive by creating 301 redirects

What’s a 301 redirect? It simply informs search engines the permanent moving of a web page from one location to another. Implementing 301 redirects will make sure you don’t kill your traffic and retain your pages especially those that are doing well. Do this by keeping an organized list of your old page URLs and new page URLs which will be useful when it comes to importing the 301s into HubSpot’s URL Mapping tool, or your WordPress 301 Redirect Plugin.

5. Keep your new site blocked from search engines in the staging process

The staging environment is a duplicate of your live website and acts as a testing ground. It allows you to have a full working site that can be tested for issues before launch.

During this stage, it is important that the new site is blocked so that search engines won’t index duplicate content. To do this on HubSpot, put the “No Index, No Follow” code in the Global HTML Header in Content Settings under the specific staging domain. For WordPress, simply go to the settings tab and click the “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.”

Now let’s go back to the staging process. If you’re a HubSpot user, you can approach it in two ways:

  • For new sites, simply go to the Website Pages Add-On and create all the pages you need. You can find useful staging domains here which can go live and functional once you’re ready.
  • If you already have an existing site in HubSpot, go to the Website Content Staging area, set up a brand new page or clone existing pages, and push live to the staging environment.

If you’re a WordPress user, the staging environment can be created depending on where your site is hosted. If you use WP Engine, it’s an easy one-step push of a button and your live site is cloned and set to the staging environment.

6. Make sure to double-check everything in the staging process

Once you’ve got everything built in the staging environment, run the Screaming Frog and make sure all the H1 & H2 tags, title tags, and meta descriptions aren’t missing or have duplicates. In case you missed it, the Screaming Frog is a small desktop program compatible with PC or Mac and crawls websites’ links, images, CSS, script, and apps and fetch important elements that are used in analysing and auditing technical and onsite SEO. If everything is in place, then you are ready to go live.

Planning for Success

Yes, you’ve done a great job in the staging process and have successfully launched your new website but the work ain’t done. There are still a few tweaks you need to do:

  1. Remove the “No Index, No Follow” tag.
  2. Import and check your 301 redirects, making sure they are going the right path.
  3. Check if schema.org tags are still implemented.
  4. Check if the tracking codes are all still up and running.
  5. Re-run the broken link checker.
  6. Re-submit sitemap to Google Search Console.
  7. Check on the number of pages indexed in Google to ensure no pages are dropped. Also track impressions and clicks, and track your rankings.

With everything in place and double-checked, all you have to do is monitor your ranking constantly so you can get it back up if you did drop.

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What is the Cost of a Website Design or Redesign in 2019

Your 2019 Guide to the Cost of a Good Website Design or Redesign

What is the Cost of a Website Design or Redesign in 2019

Your 2019 Guide to the Cost of a Good Website Design or Redesign

In this day and age, a good website is a must-have for every business. It creates a powerful first impression and impacts how your audience perceives your brand.

To stand out from your competitors, your website should be fast and mobile-friendly, allowing customers and prospects to make quick decisions before making a purchase.

If you want to keep your leads on your page, you need a good web design.

The Cost of a Website Design

Your website is the central part of your inbound marketing strategy and the most important marketing tool you have.

A website design agency can charge $6,000 to $20,000 for a simple custom website design and $20,000 to $40,000 for more complicated, custom-built websites. There are also talented freelancers who prefer to work alone and charge a little less compared to an agency while providing you with a stellar website. Looking for the cheapest option? You can try your hand in designing your own website. However, It doesn’t stop there. Trends change and at one point in time, you need to redesign your website to keep up with your competitors.

How Much a Do-it-Yourself Website Costs

Building or redesigning your own website is the cheapest option which can cost you a few hundred dollars to more or less $3,000. The unforeseen expense here is the time and hassle required from you. However, if you’ve got the skills and the ability to code, then the odds are in your favour.

If you have a limited budget and want to start small, here are a few suggestions for D.I.Y. websites:

  • ThemeForest – ThemeForest lets you choose from a wide variety of website themes with varying functionality, performance, and ease of use. They will cost you around $30 to $100 and work well with WordPress. Make sure to choose a theme with plenty of positive reviews and doesn’t require technical skills for editing.
  • Genesis Framework by StudioPress – The Genesis Framework is not your average website back-end. This mobile-friendly and search engine optimized framework offers great themes and allows you to easily create content and edit the visual features of your WordPress website. The framework and theme will cost you around $100 to $130.
  • HubSpot’s Website Platform – HubSpot’s Website Platform features customizable themes as well as built-in features for SEO to content management. You can also test your design skills and build one from scratch using their drag-and-drop builder. If you want more custom features, you can always hire a developer to add them in. This platform costs $300 per month. 

The Importance of Content

Would you buy something if you can’t find anything that describes what the product is and what it does?

This is where content comes in. It is considered the most important part of a website redesign which also consumes a lot of time.

Building your website around your content is the ideal approach to a website redesign, not the other way around. The goal of your website is to persuade your buyers to avail of what you offer and that’s where your content goes to work.

If your prospects are not yet ready to buy but are doing some research or read blogs, you’ve got your content to thank for.

Content First, Design Later

Creating content for a website goes through a process. If you’re doing it yourself, first map out all of the pages you want your website to include before writing the actual content. This can help you pick out the best website theme that will suit your content strategy.

Although most freelance web designers can create content, most of them team up with a skilled copywriter do the specific work. Whether the content creator is sourced by you or your designer, make sure they are on the same page. You will also sleep better if you ask your designer to let you in the process of content creation.

Now, when it comes to an agency, content is already part of the redesign process and their experienced copywriters are just waiting for their queue to fill in all the work.

Why so High?

Back in the days when the Internet was still in the works, a website doesn’t do much for a business. Fast forward to the age of the Internet, a business cannot survive without a website. What’s behind the shift making the cost of a website redesign so high?

  • Supply and demand – One of the reasons why the cost of having a website redesigned has been increasing is because of supply and demand.
    In the past, running a successful business is not dependent on the Internet or a website. However, times have changed. Companies nowadays should be visible online and cannot be without a website. In fact, prior to launching, potential businesses first check on the availability of domain names and how the URL will look.

  • The process –  The techniques and tools in designing a website is constantly improving, making websites more advanced in the process. Although it does make a D.I.Y. website easier to design, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Every good designer knows that they should be ready to cope with the evolving digital landscape and be on the lookout for innovation. Let’s take for example the importance of a mobile-friendly website. Good designers have foreseen that the introduction and success of the iPhone would make an impact on how people navigate websites. Back then, mobile design was a complex and expensive feature and both designers and clients tend to avoid it. However, when Google suddenly raised its standards by allowing its search algorithms to show preference to mobile-friendly websites, everything went boom.

Working Round the Clock

A good website is like the perfect employee who tirelessly does all the work for you even while you sleep or go on a holiday. It does a great job consistently, using the tools that you’ve provided. All you have to do is find the agency that will give you this perfect employee. While it is true that humans play a vital role in a business, you need to pay them month after month, year after year.

A well-designed website is always on call, on all corners of the world, helping you rack up those sales asking for nothing in return but professional design.

Make inbound marketing work for you and invest in a professional website that is innovation and future-ready.

General FAQ

How much does a website cost?

A website can cost anywhere from $1,500 - $6,000 for a start-up business, to $8,000 - $80,000 for an established business. The cost of a startup business is cheaper because we use ready-made website templates, all we do is add in your content and photography. A custom website for established businesses involves a well-thought out strategy, wireframes, designs, development, plugins and man-hours to deliver a well-thought money-making lead machine.

What is the future of website costs?

The online world is ever-changing and so do the methods involved in building websites, the strategies required, the time needed to deliver a websites and the technology that goes into the structure of a website.

What if I cant afford a website?

Luckily technology has advanced enough in today's modern age to allow businesses an easier method of being able to afford a website redesign. The current shift in payment methods has moved towards a subscription based model, this makes it affordable for both business owner and brings in a steady stream of income for the website designer.

How do I know when I need a new website?

The average life-span of a website is always changing, with advancements in technology and trends it is almost impossible to keep up.

Things to look for are:

  • Is your website ranking on the first page?
  • Is your website converting leads, generating enquiries or making sales?
  • Do your services represent your business today?
  • Is your website aethetically pleasing?
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