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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:


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.


One, Two, Three More Steps to Improve Your Branding Score

Posted on Apr 25, 2013 by Johnny Jeffers

As consumers we know “brands” simply as a particular product or service we like or dislike. However, as a business owner we know there are several factors to be considered before consumers can truly identify and trust a specific brand. In a perfect world, everyone would be a great target for all marking and brand identities but that’s not the case. Let’s cover the three main steps to creating an interactive branding message that your consumers can begin to connect with!

1.  Logo – (Noun) “A symbol adopted by an organization to identify its products or services” We all know it’s never about what you have, it’s about how you use it that makes the difference! Since you’ve spent the time and/or money on this masterpiece called your “logo,” make sure it shows up everywhere including business cards, social media sites, and any other promotional materials. Your logo is your company’s identity in a picture and the more you show it off, the quicker your brand recognition will grow.

Does this really matter, you ask? Consider this… how likely are you to remember a random fast-food restaurant you visited when they use generic bags and soda cups versus the restaurant that brands every cup and bag with their logo? That garbage in your car becomes advertising and will make an impression every time you see it.

2.  Interact – Who knew this was a part of branding? Speak directly with your target and, even more importantly, with your clients. Share and respond to social media comments, answer your phone using your company name and/or slogan, and use interactive communication tools such as surveys and email marketing. Remember, everything you send and share should always include your logo and slogan.

3. Solve – Your mission should be simple. Every business offers a product or service that offers results and/or a solution; and just because you know that, it does not mean your target market does. Leverage your interactive tools to share a clear, concise, and consistent solution that is unique to your brand identity. Remember, the process you use to help your clients may be complicated but your message should be simple enough to earn the trust and comfort of your clients.

Branding is more of an art than a science; it takes creativity, time, patience, and just like a painting, it will even go through an ugly stage. An initial brand launch should focus on creating awareness for your unique product or services. Luckily you have a friend in the industry- whether your current brand is sour or your business is brand new, HMG can help you too!


Hitting the Sweet Spot with Your Next Social Media Contest

Posted on Apr 23, 2013 by James Trumbly

Everybody loves a good contest, right? For the customer, the contest is all about the prize; for your business, it’s all about the new contacts you make and future marketing opportunities. Let’s take a look at five steps to hitting the sweet spot for both parties.

Determine Your Goal
When the contest is over, what will you have to show for it? Potential goals might include growing your fan or follower base, increasing click-throughs to your website, boosting conversion rates, creating awareness of a new product, getting customer testimonials, and encouraging likes and shares on your Facebook page. Social media makes it possible to accomplish goals far beyond the contact-gathering efforts of the business-card-in-a-fishbowl, so think outside the box (bowl).Start with something new and check .

Create a Plan
Best Instagram photos, video testimonials, creative pictures of a product in use, and content creation for your website all make great social media contest ideas. If you’re looking to grow your contact list, a simple click-and-share contest may help you accomplish your goal. Make sure your idea will actually help you reach the goal you determined in Step One.

Make the Prize Desirable
The quality of the prize should be relative to the amount of effort participants had to exert. A musician I know is currently running a Facebook contest in which participants send in recordings of themselves and compete for a chance to win a CD recording session. That’s a great incentive designed to reach out to serious musicians. If he wanted to merely increase the number of likes on his Facebook page, he could run a contest with one of his own CDs as the prize. Smaller effort, smaller incentive.

Spread the Word
Social media creates the opportunity for your contest to go viral if you package it right. Offer the right prize and the right level of engagement, and people will want to share the chance to win with their friends. You can also include an option to share your link as part of the entry process. Promote the contest on as many social channels as possible, targeting your existing fans first.

Announce the Winner
Don’t forget to showcase the winner at the end of the contest. It’s not only a feather in the winner’s cap, but also another chance for you to interact with all those new contacts.

Social media contests should be easy to enter and easy to share. In order for your contest to go viral, you need a solid plan, a desirable incentive, and a plan for getting the word out. Oh, and if you’re giving away an iPad, be sure and send me an invite.


ParcelyPaid Launches!

Posted on Apr 18, 2013 by Amy Kauffman

HMG is thrilled to announce the launch of our newest client project,, which gave us the exciting opportunity to be a part of the growing crowdfunding craze, from the ground-up. ParcelyPaid is a startup that takes its own spin on crowdfunding and came to us almost a year ago for web development and design.

Parcely Paid, as the tagline “Real Friends Chip in” implies, is your personal platform to promote and raise cash to get the that you really want on your birthday. HMG Creative built out the membership-based site, enabled week-long campaigns leading up to a user’s birthday, integrated eConnect Email for email marketing and, of course, seamlessly set up PayPal for the ease of donating (and accepting) funds also offering tips for transferring structured settlement.

Make sure ugly sweaters, random gift cards and last season’s technology doesn’t happen to you. Move over Kickstarter, not everyone has an entrepreneurial venture, but we all have birthdays. Check out ParcelyPaid and the launch video here.

Website Screenshots

Here are some of the best plasma cutter reviews. Take a look.

View Project Overview


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!


5 Reasons why HMG is YOUR Creative Agency

Posted on Apr 08, 2013 by Daniel Alvarez

Local, as in—we’re from here, we work here and we employ here. As you already know, Austin is THE place to be; a thriving economy, a driven talent pool and all the BBQ, beer and live music you could ask for. Having our HQ here also helps connect us with some of the nation’s brightest entrepreneurs who are changing the way the Internet and its users operate. We’ve also had the pleasure to work with major staples in the local business community such as OneStar Foundation, WhaleShark Media and The State Bar of Texas.

When we say full-service we really mean it. We go past the web and focus on creating brands. We’re an extension of your business and work with you to create a lasting presence both on and off the Internet. From branding to email marketing to graphic design and printing, we have you covered.

Ten-year tenure. Say that ten times fast. Well, before you get caught up in a tongue twister, listen to this. We started in 2003 and haven’t looked back since. We’ve learned a lot from our successes but even more from our failures. These types of experiences can only be had over time and have been tried and proven over again. This is what we give you, a proven approach that has been molded and continues to mold with new technologies, new clients and new ways of thinking.

Okay, so we do branding, web and print. We’ve been blowing minds since ’03. We have a solid presence in the local community. But what does that mean to you, the business owner? It means nothing if we can’t deliver. Deliverability is the most important part of the process, because without it, we’d be out of business and you’d be pissed. So we avoid all of that by delivering a quality product that we stand by.

Coolness. Yes, I said it and yes, I meant it. We’re not only a happy bunch of creatives, developers, account executives, payroll administrators and interns; we are fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. We are the person you saw during SXSW at the Dawes show singing every word of “When My Time Comes.” We are the person who bumped into you at Tacodeli who accidentally spilled the “roja” sauce on your shirt- sorry. We are the person who wears a legitimate fireman costume on Halloween and pranks co-workers on April Fool’s. We are the group of people who work late to deliver on a last-minute project. We are HMG Creative and we are your creative agency.