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Archive for the ‘web 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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OC4 is live.

click here if you know what’s good for you.

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Gorgeous search app. if you’re looking for something a little more stylish than Google or Yahoo. Nothing cooler than functional eye candy. Searchme looks and feels like a cross between Minority Report and Flickr. I like. Above: playing with a BrandBuilder search.

Also, check out Trendpedia, which helps you search and compare trends in blogs. Below: A comparison between Apple, Whole Foods and Starbucks.

Hat tip to the very sharp Andy Woolard.

Bonus link (also from Andy): Muxtape. The coolest/geekiest way to spend a Friday evening cutting good old fashioned mix tapes for the object of your desire (like you used to in High School)… except in an mp3 world. Not at all branding or or business-related (aside from the throwback page design), but check it out anyway. You’ll be glad you did.

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Happy Monday!

As you kick off the week with your next project or some concept you need to turn into reality, here are some timely words of wisdom from Blue Flavor:

A great design has a point of view. A really great design will make a clear statement. It’ll be unique in a way that doesn’t necessarily mean it stands out, but it’ll be clear that it has something to say. As such, there will usually people who don’t “like it” and that’s not really a bad thing.

A great design isn’t done by committee. I don’t think you can achieve great design if you have to compromise to please many. Design is best done with one clear vision and an enabled designer who everyone involved trusts to bring that vision to life.

A great design is clear and to a large degree, invisible. A great design should speak for itself and there should never be any question as to what its purpose is.

A great design is written as much as it’s “designed.” The words you choose to use in your designs are as important as anything else that goes into it.

A great design is more than “usable.” If you’re shooting for a usable design, your simply shooting for average. Every design should be usable, it’s much better to be usable and good. Or great.

A great design pays attention to details. If there is one thing I wish I could have on many of the projects I work on is more time and budget to nail down all the little details.

A great design isn’t a template. Along the lines of paying attention to details, a great design will address an entire system in as much detail as possible. This is something that you simply can’t do on the “template” level alone.

A great design takes time and isn’t cheap. This is fairly obvious, but when it comes to design you do get what your pay for, and, along the same lines, if you rush it, it’ll appear rushed.

A great design is never ending. I think, especially when it comes to the web, and interaction design, that a really great design will evolve over time and needs to be looked at, questioned and refined over time.

A great design isn’t perfect. If there is one thing you should pay attention to on this list, IMHO, it’s that striving for perfection in your designs can do much more damage than good. Usually what happens here is that someone isn’t happy because the design isn’t exactly what they wanted to see, and so they want to make changes to bring it in line with that vision. This most often results in compromise to achieve consensus, which also means you’re getting further away from something great. There is no such thing as perfect design, accept that and strive to do something great.

figs by Matt Armendariz

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Seth Godin points us to these very cool little online resources dealing with – you guessed it – color schemes:

Color Theory
Colour Lovers
Kuler (adobe)
And the most corporate/boring one of all…

Hey, it’s the little things that matter most.

Web, graphic and product designers, this one’s for you.

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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. 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. 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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Aha! Fellow Greenville blogger James T. (of the evidently very well designed Bike Design blog) points me to this list of 12 well designed Blogspot blogs on Pingable. Both Bike Design and The BrandBuilder made the list, which makes me pretty happy.
This is not a list of the 12 BEST designed Blogspot blogs, mind you, but it’s still pretty cool to be recognized in this way.
My three principal secrets for designing such a cool looking blog:
1. A complete lack of web design & code knowledge forced me to keep things VERY simple.
2. When in doubt, flood the page with empty white space.
3. When none of your other ideas seem to work, take pictures of the stupidest looking dog you can find (in this case, my wife’s Chihuahua) and throw all good sense aside.
I am all for making the visual elements of a brand make sense, but sometimes, going the random/abstract route can be just as effective, if not more. (Note to creatives everywhere: When working on a design project for a client, always try to submit at least one off-the-wall but genuinely original design. Worst case scenario: They won’t go for it. Any other scenario: Your unexpected design will infect your clients with creative energy, which is always a good thing.)
Have a great Thanksgiving eve, everyone. 🙂

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