Archive for the ‘custom design’ Category

Some practical notes on how to design an effective web page – from Seth Godin’s blog, via UX, via Orange Yeti:

  • Ads in the top and left portions of a page will receive the most eye fixation.
  • Ads placed next to the best content are seen more often.
  • Bigger images get more attention.
  • Clean, clear faces in images attract more eye fixation.
  • Fancy formatting and fonts are ignored.
  • Formatting can draw attention.
  • Headings draw the eye.
  • Initial eye movement focuses on the upper left corner of the page.
  • Large blocks of text are avoided.
  • Lists hold reader attention longer.
  • Navigation tools work better when placed at the top of the page.
  • One-column formats perform better in eye-fixation than multi-column formats.
  • People generally scan lower portions of the page.
  • Readers ignore banners.
  • Shorter paragraphs perform better than long ones.
  • Show numbers as numerals.
  • Text ads were viewed mostly intently of all types tested.
  • Text attracts attention before graphics.
  • Type size influences viewing behavior.
  • Users initially look at the top left and upper portion of the page before moving down and to the right.
  • Users only look at a sub headline if it interests them.
  • Users spend a lot of time looking at buttons and menus.
  • White space is good.

Good stuff.

It is easy for company execs to leave the design of their website to IT guys because they “get” all that “computer stuff”. Bad move. Sorry, IT peeps, but while IT guys can be web guys, let me point out that website design goes well beyond a person’s knowledge of code and “computer stuff.”

A good web designer is a designer first and foremost: Someone who understands how to create the right kind of website for a company, and uses his technical knowledge to make it happen. A good web designer can write beautiful code, sure, but great code is meaningless if the website looks horrible or doesn’t serve the needs and wants of its users (your customers). Designing a website is about creating a consistently engaging, pleasant and valuable user experience.

This goes well beyond the world of code and IT. Website design is both a science and an art. Because few people/firms can manage both elements exceedingly well, a very small proportion of web design firms is capable of doing exceptional work.

Look at most corporate websites today, and you will notice that the same templates are used over and over again: There’s a big box of “content” in the middle, a fat banner at the top of the page, a left column with some sort of navigation/menu, and maybe a column to the right with ads and other resources. Not that there’s anything wrong with that: There is value – especially for very small businesses – in spending very little money on a website that can launch inside of a week. Plug & play websites have their place. No question. But when it comes to creating or driving a brand, understand that having a website that essentially looks like everyone else’s, a website that looks like you took little more than a couple of hours to put together, a website that offers nothing interesting or compelling for your users and fans, you are falling short of expectations. You are sending the wrong message. At some point along the way, your company needs to differentiate itself. When that happens, your website needs to reflect the difference between your company and all of your other would-be competitors. If you are going to stand out as being different, don’t just talk about it: stand out and be different – especially on the web.

If your management team is old-school and branding is the last thing on its mind, look at it this way: You are the type of company that takes care of the way it presents itself – from the experience you create for your customers and visitors to the design of your catalogs, ads and other promotional materials. You don’t want to look like a bunch of amateurs who can’t adapt to change and have neither the funds nor the good sense to create a decent website. Right? Right. More and more, your customers’s first impression of you is made via the web. This isn’t 1997 anymore. Your website isn’t an aside. It isn’t something you can throw at your cousin’s neighbor’s kid because he needs a part-time job and “boy, you should see his MySpace!” Your website is your global storefront. Your global lobby. Your global showroom. You can’t afford to allow it to be boring, ineffective or outdated. (It can’t be too obnoxious either, so be use flash sparingly, if at all.)

Do yourself a favor: If you have a website now, put together a small team of branding, marketing and customer service experts in a room with a handful of customers, and get them to do a complete 360 review of your website’s usability. If that doesn’t work for you, hire a creative studio or a web design firm instead. However you decide to do it, the point of the exercise is to stop what you are doing, take a real look at your website, and identify all of the things that could be improved upon. Once you’ve done that, hire a real web designer (or web design firm) to either improve your website as needed or rebuild it completely.

If you don’t already have a website… I just have to ask… what you are waiting for. (Tip: Most people I know haven’t cracked the Yellow Pages in years… and I know a lot of people.)

Spending money on creating an extraordinary web presence (or at least an adequate one) is probably one of the best marketing/communications investments you can make for your company, especially in this economy. If your senior management team doesn’t understand that completely yet, it is your job to help them get there.

If you aren’t sure how to get started, print the above list, go to your company website, and use it as a checklist. How many of your website’s design features match the above recommendations? How many don’t? What could you change already – today?

Have a great Monday, everyone. 🙂

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Yep, it’s time for Dutch Design Week again, and the Philips Design Probes site is getting a head start on bridging the gap between design, business, and where the next generation of viable innovative products will come from (via Yanko Design). Fascinating stuff:

The Design Probe projects carried out by Philips Design are part of a wider strategy aimed at improving the innovation hit rate. Growth through innovation is high on corporate management agendas throughout the world yet, according to figures in Business Week, “up to 96% of all new projects fail to meet the targets for return on investment.”

Many companies try to drive innovation by using a ‘funnel model’ in which research results, new technologies or user insights are filtered in a very linear way, with the concepts that are left – those deemed most feasible – being quickly forced into business cases. Given the pitifully low success rate of innovations in general, it is obvious that such a model has its limitations.

Philips Design proposes an alternative view; that imaginative ideas should be explored on a case-by-case basis, rather than trying to impose a business ‘straitjacket’ too early. The Design Probes are fully in line with this philosophy, because they can produce valuable input for the innovation process through structured exploration of weak cultural signals and non-mainstream topics.

Read the rest (including two pretty interesting probe samples) here.

*The Dutch Design week will run from October 20th to 28th in approximately 40 locations throughout Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The probes presentation is part of a Philips Design exhibition in on the 4th floor of the Witte Dame. Daily at 17.00 Philips Design will organize a workshop around a theme of a currently project Philips Design is working on.

image: greenthumbs on miniature – courtesy of Yanko Design.

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Outdoorsy women can finally accessorize with their pink iPod (or Zune):

It’s about damn time too.

Straight from Gizmodo:

“What better way to attract those lovely ladies to the hunting festivities than a pink shotgun? Offered for the first time this season exclusively by sporting goods and gun purveyor Gander Mountain, this 20-gauge Remington 870 Junior shotgun is offered complete with a pink Remington hat for $369.99. All that’s missing is the Hello Kitty insignia.”

It might clash with orange vests, but there’s something to be said for a company in a male-dominated industry that at least tries to cater to women.

Judging by how many female cyclists and triathletes refuse to buy pink bicycles, most women probably won’t want a pink gun either, but I’ll bet most boyfriends and husbands looking to get their significant others into their sport of choice (whether it’s huntin’ or good ol’ clay target obliteration) will be biting come Christmas time… especially in red states.

But come on: A 20 gauge? Why not go all out and also make a 12 gauge version?

And maybe one in Clemson orange maybe?

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