3 Common Web Design Mistakes To Avoid 

By Steve Hoag

There are a ton of great websites out there. There are also some really bad ones. When designing your company website you should take notes from both poles. Learning what NOT to do is just as important as finding out what to do in web design. Read on for techniques you should avoid:

Not enough contrast

You have a serious problem if users can’t read the text on your website because it is barely discernable from the background color. Few things are worse for user experience than not having enough contrast between content and background colors. Never pick a light grey font if your background is white. Similarly, don’t use neon colors for text. Unless burning the retinas of your visitors is your primary objective.

Employing design elements that impede the sale

Another classic mistake is making the sales process more complicated than it needs to be. Don’t impede the sales process with endless registration forms. You need to make it as simple as possible. Also, be sure to include instructions where applicable. Don’t keep your users guessing as to what they need to do next. That will just frustrate and drive them away.

Not using dynamic content

Content is king. You also want your content to be like heroin. In other words, something that brings users back again and again. The easiest way to do this is by using dynamic content like videos, showcases, infographics, and consistently updated blogs. Don’t let your content go stale or your traffic will too. Employing dynamic content is one of the best ways to build a solid base of organic traffic.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Friday, December 13, 2013 7:40:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design website

Red Flags to Look Out For When Choosing a Web Designer 

By Steve Hoag

Hiring the right web designer

Hiring the right web designer for your new business website is a critical decision. If you make the wrong choice you can be set back weeks and hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Make the right decision and everything is honky dory. So what are some things that should send your alarm bells ringing?

Lack of design experience in your industry

A designer could have dozens of years in experience, but they also need to have the RIGHT type of experience for your business. Do they have experience designing websites for similar companies? For instance don’t hire a designer that specializes in fashion when you are a government agency. If you see that they haven’t done any work in your industry before don’t hire them! Play it safe! Take a huge risk on your company website is not something you should do.

A bland design firm website

A great designer will have a great website. Their site should be a showcase of all their abilities. If they haven’t built a great website for their own firm you shouldn’t hire them. How can you trust someone that puts minimal effort into their own business with your new design? If you aren’t impressed within 10 seconds of seeing their home page, move on to the next option.

No clear pricing or product details

A common annoyance with designing a new website is that there can be unforeseen difficulties, delays, and costs. A good designer will clearly communicate pricing, timelines, and product deliverables before doing business with you. Make sure you cross all your T’s and dot all your I’s before settling on a designer. Otherwise you could be dealing with annoying delays and hidden costs.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, December 11, 2013 7:38:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design website

How to Integrate Social Media With Your Business Website 

By Steve Hoag

social media integration

Integrating social media with your business website is critical for increasing online exposure and engagement with your target segment. Check out these tips on how to connect your website with different social media platforms:

Add social media buttons on every page

Including buttons that link to your social media accounts is great for making it easier for users to connect with you. Social media is becoming a very popular way of asking for product advice or reviews. By including links you are streamlining the information search section of the buying process. This will also help to boost traffic and followers of your various accounts.  The best place to include these buttons is in the header and footer of every page. Make sure they are clearly visible or they may never be used by visitors. Including call to actions such as ‘Like us on Facebook’ are also better than simply using a basic badge. Everyone has badges these days, and calls to actions are much more effective.

Allow users to login using social media

Letting users use their social media accounts to log in to your website is great for increasing conversions. Long gone are the days where users had to fill out lengthy registration forms. Now all they need is a Facebook or Twitter account. Using social media logins can also help to share specialized  content and connect with their users on a much more personal level.

Make your website social media friendly

Users are starting to want a website viewing experience more akin to social media platforms these days. They desire to see dynamic content, category focused areas, news feeds, and social media feeds. Some websites are switching to more modular panel home page designs to cater to this. These panels can be used to show any type of feed or content they want. A great example of this is Google Ventures.

Make content shareable

Having great content is worthless if it’s hard for users to share it easily. Making content shareable is a great way to boost online exposure, traffic, and engagement with your customers. Including social sharing buttons next to all content like blog articles, videos, and images is a great way of doing this.

Embed dynamic content like YouTube videos when appropriate

Dynamic content is absolutely mandatory for websites that want to be more engaging. Including videos from YouYube or infographics are great for increasing visit times and conversion rates. The longer a user is on your website, the more likely they are to become a quality lead, and eventually a customer.

Integrating social media with your business website is critical for increasing online exposure and engagement with your target segment. Check out these tips on how to connect your website with different social media platforms:

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Monday, December 9, 2013 6:54:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB social media social media marketing web design web development website

How to Leverage Pinterest for Your Web Design Business 

By Steve Hoag

how to leverage pinterest for your web design

Pinterest has been gaining popularity among designers for its innovative visual features. This platform allows its users to pin images from other websites onto a board. This can help to increase traffic to these sites, as well as serve as a virtual portfolio for designers. So how can you use Pinterest for your design business?

Building your brand

Pinterest is just as useful as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn at building your own unique online brand. There are some great ‘About Me’ sections to communicate just who you are and what you do. You can also link to your Twitter, Facebook, and website.

Finding design inspiration

Inspiration is critical for designers. You can get design block just like writers do. Pinterest is great because you can pin any cool websites to your board that you come across. When you need inspiration all you need to do is come back to your board. Make sure to use keywords like ‘web design’ in each pin board’s name so that people looking for web design can view your profile.

Creating a unique portfolio

Pinterest is awesome for showcasing your portfolio. You can create separate boards for different market segments, or different skills you have. Another thing you can do is post images from projects to your website, and then pin these images to your board. If anyone shares your images on Pinterest they will still link back to your website. This is a great way of turning Pinterest into a traffic source for your business. You can also just upload screenshots of your work, but this won’t link back to your portfolio.          

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Friday, December 6, 2013 7:40:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging SMB social media social media marketing web design website

How to Decrease Page Load Times 

By Steve Hoag

how to minimize page load times

It’s absolutely important to keep page load times in mind when building your new business website. Users will leave if your website doesn’t load quickly enough, and traffic will begin to decline. Less traffic means less leads. Check out these five tips on how to minimize loading times:

Avoid Redirects

Some redirects are unavoidable, but you should do all you can to get rid of any that are unnecessary. Redirects increase page load times by adding an extra HTTP. Make sure to look for broken links and fix those!

Optimize Image Size

Images can end up taking a lot of your page size and significantly impact loading times. You should resize the images you plan to use with an image editor like Photoshop.

Image File Format

Always stick to standard formats for your images like JPG, PNG, and GIF! This will minimize any display problems.

Optimize Caching                  

Whenever a user visits your website they need to load its image, Java, and CSS files which can significantly increase page load times. Enabling HTTP caching on your website will let these files be saved by a user’s browser. Next time they visit your website they can simply retrieve the cached files instead of downloading them all over again. Optimizing caching can also reduce bandwidth and hosting costs.

Update your CMS Software

Content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, and others will release updates from time to time to their software. These will help to improve overall performance. Make sure to keep up to date!

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, December 4, 2013 5:16:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design web development website
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