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The Value of Professional Photography

The Value of Professional Photography

Posted on Apr 18, 2016 by Jenna Meltzer

Executing the perfect website is a very intricate process for web developers. There are many details that go into ensuring that every objective is met through the look and feel of the site. This is especially true for photography. While stock photography is much cheaper and still takes time to search through thousands of photos to find the perfect image to represent your company, professional photography generates a deeper impact on your audience. As experienced web developers, we always recommend hiring a professional photographer to capture the exact images you need in order to develop an effective user experience, if a budget exists. And here’s why.

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Marketing Fail: Three Big Business Web Design Disasters

Posted on Apr 29, 2013 by James Trumbly

The world of web design can seem pretty intimidating at times. After all, the success of your business rises and falls on whether your website successfully engages your site visitors and conveniences them to take the next step. We know you’re kickin’ it with awesome web page design, but just in case you need some inspiration, take a look at these big business web design disasters and take some notes on what NOT to do:

Zulily

Plenty of “deal-of-the-day” websites require you to register before you can see the actual deals, but Zulily’s home page gives you next to no information about what the site does. Here are the biggest design problems:

  • You can find a bit of information about how the site works, but it’s buried at the bottom of the page under a banner that looks like advertising, making the viewer ignore everything below it.
  • Links to “How Zulily Works,” “Brands We Love,” and “FAQ” appear in tiny type that doesn’t stand out from surrounding content.
  • No secondary call to action if the visitor isn’t ready to register.

Bottom Line:  It’s too hard for non-registered users to learn about the site.

Carol House Furniture

Carol House makes visitors jump through multiple hoops in order to view their website—a surefire way to send customers scrambling for the back button. For starters:

  • Gray type on white background = hard to read.
  • After reaching the home page, you have to click an additional button to see any actual content.
  • The home page has a long list of obsolete requirements you must meet before you can see their content (high speed internet, Flash player, disable pop-up blocker). Really? Who has to remind people they need high speed internet these days?

After clicking the Enter button, a new page opens where all browser controls have been disabled, a cheesy Flash video plays, music automatically starts, and the talking heads at the top of the page point out interesting links we might want to click (wait, I thought we were here to look at furniture…).

We also see lots of wasted space on either side with no clear call to action anywhere on the page.

Bottom Line: After making your visitors enter an alternate universe in order to see your site, don’t handcuff them in a desperate attempt to make them stick around.

Pure Ecommerce

I’ll keep this one short and sweet (which is opposite of Pure Ecommerce’s site).

We have to read through lengthy blocks of copy just to find out what the company offers. Once we click on the call to action, we’re directed to more copy. Not exactly a one-click, ready-to-go experience as promised.

Bottom Line: Too much copy and weak call to actions.

So, what’s the point?

Big business web design disasters keep us all humble.  If they can experience huge marketing fails, so can we.  Keep testing, keep tweaking, and keep converting!  Would you consider your online web presence a “disaster”?   If so, we’d love to chat with you… after all we’re only a phone call away.

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Is Your Website Guilty of These 8 Disastrous Design Mistakes?

Posted on Apr 15, 2013 by James Trumbly

Web design isn’t an exact science. There are broad principles to follow, but at the end of the day, you have to figure out what works for you and your audience. However, you should always remember that your customers have itchy back-button fingers, and some web design mistakes will make them bounce every time. Here’s a list of our top eight design mistakes:

  • Making Content Look Like Advertising
    Web users these days have developed “banner blindness.” Anything that looks like a banner ad or block ad will be ignored. Avoid the common web design mistake of putting essential information in a format that looks like advertising.
  • Using Non-Intuitive Navigation
    If you have to explain how to navigate your site, you’ve done it wrong. Navigation should make sense to someone who has never seen your site before. Group similar links under headings and make it easy for visitors to find their way back to a previous page and to the home page.
  • Automatic-Play Flash Videos
    No one wants to be held hostage while you play a 20-second introductory video before loading site content. Video is great, but make it optional by providing a play button for the user to click when he or she is ready.
  • Not Listing Product Pricing
    What’s the point of having an ecommerce website if you make the visitor call, register, or start to checkout before he sees actual prices? This includes shipping rates as well. Provide estimates before checkout to reduce sticker shock during the sale.
  • Unclear Call to Action
    Can visitors immediately see how to take action on your site? Your call to action should use descriptive, action-oriented language that clearly communicates what you want the visitor to do.
  • Long Blocks of Text
    Our attention span is short and even shorter online. No one has time to read through a long page of tiny text. Break copy up into smaller chunks using subheadings and bullets, and make the font bigger so content appears less intimidating.
  • No Search or Bad Search
    Placing the search box in a difficult-to-find place (like halfway down the sidebar), not being able to handle misspellings, and not including search capabilities at all are common web design mistakes. Bad search can leave users frustrated and ready to bail.
  • Links that Don’t Look Like Links
    Use color to designate clickable text, and change the color for links that have already been clicked. Don’t be too creative with this. Underlines, italics, bolding, and unusual colors may look cool, but users may not pick up on the fact that they can be clicked.

Do you happen to be guilty of any of these disastrous web design mistakes? If so, it’s time to start testing a new design that will make it easier for your customers to convert. Give us a call and we’d be happy to talk through this with you!

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WebDev for SmithBros Maintenance

Posted on Jan 29, 2013 by Stacey Donelan

SmithBros Maintenance came to HMG Creative with only a splash page.  With their vision in mind, we were able to build out a full website that provided them with the functionality they were looking for.  The new site features their various services in an easy-to-navigate setting.  But what was most important to Smith Bros was the ability to provide their potential customers with the accessibility to easily request a quote.

About SmithBros Maintenance
Since 1970, SmithBros has been a company with a focus on quality workmanship, attention to detail and quality results.  They like to be known as the “home town” janitorial service that offers down to earth, old-fashioned labor for a competitive price.  Operated locally in San Diego and Southern Riverside counties, SmithBros provides services such as:

  • Commercial Cleaning
  • Floor Care
  • Window Cleaning
  • Floor/Mold
  • Power Washing

Check out their new website at www.smithbrossd.com.  If you like what you see, give us a call at 888.744.0464 and we can help your website dreams come true!

Screenshots of the NEW website

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City Values For Women Launches New Website

Posted on Nov 08, 2012 by Johnny Jeffers

HMG Creative is excited to announce the launch of City Values For Women, a site which offers fantastic shopping options with built-in savings. The new website allows visitors to tour home improvement stores, restaurants, health and beauty providers and much more through custom videos and offers.

Working closely with the City Values For Women executive team on all elements of the project was very crucial, which is true for any client project here at HMG Creative.  Our team identified the following tactics in order to ensure a successful launch of the website:

  • Discover the goals, ideal target market and functionality the company desires to launch
  • Develop an in-depth framework for the site
  • Create software that would allow for browsing of numerous directories
  • Further brand image and ensure consistency of the brand by designing business cards and a marketing print piece

City Values For Women launched this week at cityvaluesforwomen.com.

Screenshots of the new website

 Print Materials

View Project Overview
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How to Overcome Tunnel Vision in Email Design

Posted on Oct 17, 2012 by James Trumbly

How long do you have to snag your reader’s attention before you lose them? Say it with me: ten seconds or less. We’ve had this drilled into our heads, and great designers know what keeps people reading and what doesn’t. But what hasn’t been learned nearly so well is that your customer’s online attention is not only short, but also very narrow.

Usability guru, Jack Nielson, explains in a recent Alertbox Column that most users focus only on what interests them or what they expect will give them the answers that they need while ignoring the other content. Known as “Tunnel Vision,” this phenomenon can make the difference between click-throughs and deleted messages.

Let’s consider an example. You design a newsletter advertising your website’s 20 percent off sale. You include a headline, an image, a block of text that includes a coupon code, and a call to action that says “Shop Now.” Nielson’s usability research suggests that if you haven’t stated the coupon code in the headline or included it as part of the call to action, many subscribers won’t see it. It’s a phenomenon similar to banner blindness, where readers ignore portions of the screen that they think aren’t essential to the overall message. If the coupon code is necessary in order to receive the savings, you’ll need to follow a few design tips in order to keep it within your subscribers’ field of vision.

  • Put important elements near each other.
    If your image shows sale items and information, try putting the coupon code within the image or as the image caption. If subscribers must read through a block of text in order to find the coupon code, they may miss it altogether.
  • Include essential info in the link.
    People tend to focus on click-able elements within an email design. Your call to action button and any nearby links should contain the essential information you’re trying to communicate. So instead of using a call to action that says “Shop Now,” try “Save 20% with coupon code FALL2012.”
  • Test with actual users.
    Designers have difficulty recognizing usability problems with their designs because they already know where the important information is and their eyes gravitate toward it. They might not recognize where tunnel vision might occur for the average subscriber. Creating simple A/B split tests can point out problems that keep your readers from noticing the important stuff amongst everything else.

Tunnel vision means that users often don’t see things that are right in front of them. By grouping important elements together and putting essential information where readers tend to look anyway, you can boost your click-through rates and ultimately, your conversions.