Category Archives: Web Design

Slacking Off Series: How do I build an interactive website?

interactive website

Every company has them. Those discussions at the water cooler about work. They’re usually informal, fun, but still where the “meat” of workplace conversations happen. Often times, some of the most insightful things said are “off the cuff” in these environments.

Here at AE, we’re no different. Even though we’re often mobile, and our clients range across the country — our internal discussions serve as a way to discuss digital marketing as a whole, and our ideas of how we can improve.

The conversions (via Slack, our chosen messaging tool) tend to relate back to two areas of digital marketing: strategy and execution. So, we decided to create a blog series taken from the transcripts of messages between our Director of Creative Services, Jonathan Olivo, and our Director of Platform Development, Aubrey Berkowitz. For the series debut, we wanted to discuss a subject matter that is a blend of the two departments: website interaction and user experience. Users expect websites to be more interactive in the current media landscape and as a forward-thinking company — we’ve got to be ahead of the curve. So without further adieu…

How to build an interactive website.

*Disclaimer- if you do not like candid conversations about digital marketing and websites, you can probably stop reading here. We won’t use profanity, but we can’t promise GIFs won’t be involved.

Aubrey: Hey Jonathan, I know you’ve been working on the new AE website this week. One of the trends in digital marketing I’m seeing is that sites are no longer just an “online brochure” but are now becoming an interactive tool for businesses.

Jonathan: Hey Aubrey, correct. Businesses are now using websites as a tool, instead of an “online brochure.” Your target audience should not only find your website interesting but be able to interact with it. 

Jonathan: An interactive site gives you a number of ways to deliver content while giving users the option to add or contribute to that message.

Aubrey: So… when you say interactive and interesting, what are some tactics that you find effective?

Jonathan: Well, there are a handful of ways to make a site interactive, but it has to be a  personalized experience that goes beyond the normal browsing and viewing. Quizzes, for example, are a good tool for this.

Aubrey: I like quizzes.

Jonathan: Yeah, they are great because they’re also a really effective, yet subtle, lead generation tool. They can help a brand build smarter email lists for re-marketing campaigns as well.

Aubrey: When you’re designing a site — part of interaction has to do with conversions, right? How do you balance being “too interactive” and potentially lead them away from converting?

Jonathan: Correct, conversions are important!

Jonathan: But in this case, quizzes themselves are incredibly conversion-focused. It’s probably one of the most effective elements you can put in your site.

Jonathan: I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as being “too interactive,” but you want to make sure your quizzes are brief and offer incentives after completion. At the end of the day, you want to increase audience interaction and engagement.

Aubrey: I’ve seen quizzes work especially well for speakers, thought-leaders, and sites where the brand revolves around a particular idea or concept.

Aubrey: What are some other ways to make a site more interactive?

Jonathan: Something that doesn’t necessarily deal with the design but is important are frequent updates!!

Jonathan: When you keep your site theme, pages and content up-to-date, it encourages user engagement. Users are more likely to view it as a reliable source of information and visit more frequently.

Aubrey: You know, if there’s one thing that I can’t stress enough it’s the importance of regularly updated content!

Aubrey: There are SEO benefits as well. If a business owner could spend just thirty minutes a week updating content, it keeps a site much more relevant.

Jonathan: So Aubrey, there’s a big one that we haven’t talked about yet…SOCIAL MEDIA.

Jonathan: Social media has become a lifestyle, a way for people to keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the world. It has a huge role in making things trend or go viral. Adding a Facebook like button or the option to share a post from your site is a way to interact with users. With social media, you’re able to reach new users, funnel more traffic to your site and grow your online presence.

Aubrey: You’re totally right. We use social media for more than just pictures. We use social media as a life tool now.

Aubrey: You ready for a “Did you know moment?”

Aubrey: Did you know: in the year 2017, 25% of all referral traffic came from social media networks. That means that 25% of all web traffic that came from an outside source came from a social media platform.

Jonathan: :scream: 

Jonathan: Another way that you can make your site more interactive is by having a newsletter. Newsletters keep users engaged by sending shareable content they can forward to their friends and colleagues through email.

Jonathan: Your newsletter can include a link to a new post that you might want to promote or a link to a thread where other users can further discuss the content of your newsletter.

Jonathan: This increases both visits and interest in your site.

Aubrey: I think the key to a successful newsletter hinges on two factors: consistency and quality content.

Aubrey: It’s hard to follow a brand when you don’t get consistent updates. And who wants to open another email when they don’t care about the content?

Aubrey: So overall, we’ve focused on two things for a more interactive website  — quality content on a platform that provides said content in an accessible, aesthetically pleasing manner.

Aubrey: So, next week we’re going to have our 80’s Hair Metal Frontman Nick Alter with us to discuss creating a “Mobile Friendly” site in the current media landscape. Last question Jonathan…

Aubrey: What in the world is going on with Manchester United?

Jonathan: They’re awful and I hate everything they stand for. Weiss might have a different opinion though.

— DEFINITION: Nic Weiss is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Alter Endeavors known for his Manchester United fandom and Jonthan Olivo is on the opposing side as a FC Barcelona fan.

Aubrey: Well we should probably get back to work…

The Importance of Web Fonts, an Overview in Brief

the importance of web fonts

They’re one of the most taken for granted elements of the web. However, when done wrong, they can disrupt the visitor’s experience on a site, sending them fleeing. (Remember those early web pages with red or bright neon color type on a black background? Yeeouch.) The importance of web fonts does not only include aesthetics, but the foundation of communicating information, and (did you know?) can increase your SEO.

Web Safe Fonts

Once it had moved out the early stages of simple text on screens (years before we understood the future importance of web fonts, page load times, and SEO) creators on the web had an interesting problem. “How do we handle the fonts on the pages we design on the web? How do we control what people will see?” A simple solution was to use the standard font set that came loaded on almost every computer. The code of the site would tell the browser, “This font is Arial.” The computer would say, “Oh sure. I have that font in my library” and the user would see Arial and the page as the designer intended. This collection of fonts became known as “web safe.” Build your pages using one of these fonts and you’re good to go. There was just one problem: this only represented around 50 fonts.

Hosted Fonts

Major corporations have spent millions of dollars developing their logos and brand IDs. Graphic designers, of which I am one, prefer the room to make design decisions. This small set of fonts (of which many are solid choices, some even titans of the font world—see Helvetica) just wouldn’t do. They had to have their fonts on their web pages.

But those fonts aren’t on everyone’s computer, so what do you do? You host it on a server on the web. When the site is pulled up, the browser on the computer reaches out to that server and there’s the font on your screen. This is still a practice. You may notice that some sites present one font and then, SNAP!, quickly replace it with another—that’s a hosted font. There are multiple companies who offer hosting for fonts and even offer their proprietary sets.

There are a few issues with hosted fonts. One is the snap behavior I mentioned above. The other is you’re relying on that server to always be up for your site to look right. (All servers have interruptions.) The last is cost. Fonts aren’t hosted for free. There is a monthly or yearly fee. If you don’t pay this fee, the font goes away. If your credit card expires and you missed it (because you’re running a business), the font goes away.

Google: One Font Set to Rule Them All

Google came up with their solution, and at this time in web history, it’s the one with the most advantages. They looked at the importance of web fonts and created a their own set of fonts. They host it on their massive servers, meaning less chance for interruptions. They offer it for free.

Aside from no cost, there’s little to no replacement snap. Also, it’s a much larger library than our beloved original 50 web safe fonts. And there’s another, and most important, thing. They load fast.

Google is all about speed. It knows that a site has a tiny, finite, amount of time to engage with a visitor. Therefore, their fonts are optimized to load quickly. The faster a page loads, the more people are enticed to stay there, and the more the SEO value of that page increases. Because of these factors, Alter Endeavors designs the sites for our clients using Google fonts.

“But my brand font isn’t a Google font.” The solution is to pair a Google font with your brand. We either use a font that’s very close to your current one, or our designers identify fonts that compliment your brand’s font.

One note, if you’re just starting your company and are developing your brand ID, Google fonts not only work on the web; they are downloadable and can be installed on your computer. Then, when it’s time to build your digital presence, you’ll have cohesion across all of your channels and collateral.

This has been a short and very simple overview, but it highlights of the importance of web fonts and how they work. The font decision in any design project has always been one of the largest to be made. Now that decision is also accompanied by higher stakes accompanied by real dollars. Font optimization is just one part of Google’s SEO analysis, but as it’s a key factor in site load speed, it’s an important one.

Meet Christopher Jennings!

Christopher Jennings

Every once in awhile, we like to shake it up at Alter Endeavors and spotlight one of our incredible people and their accomplishments. It’s past time for us to brag on Christopher Jennings.

Christopher Jennings aka “Topher,” the Director of Website Operations at Alter Endeavors, just got back from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) National Conference in Los Angeles. That’s right, besides running the most complicated department at Alter Endeavors, Christopher S. Jennings is a man of many talents.

Christopher has worked at AE for a little over 3 years now and was our very first hire after Nick and Jamie (the owners). So, it should go without saying that Christopher means a lot to us —he’s like family. Not only does he head up the department of Web Operations at AE, but he’s also an illustrator and author for children’s publications. Like we said earlier, superbly talented.

Topher has illustrated dozens of published works for children (and he has even written a few of them too). Though he’s obviously extremely talented, he’s also incredibly versatile. He’s worked in publishing, gaming, editorial, advertising, entertainment, animation, commercial, apparel, apps and even drawn greeting cards for American Greetings. (Phew. What a list!)

It’s Topher’s focus on children’s books, and why they are important to him, that makes him extra incredible in our humble opinion. As a kid, reading didn’t come easy. His mother read him picture books to ease him into it. Picture books allowed him to learn to read while making sure not to discourage or dissuade him in the arduous process of learning how letters formed words. Huge props to Christopher’s mother, who says she still has Green Eggs and Ham memorized from all of those repeated readings. Although picture books helped Christopher read, their visuals also fostered Christopher’s love for the fun (but important) things, the light-hearted things, and how to visually interpret those things.

Christopher is the author of Hello, Texas! as well as the author and illustrator of the picture book Animal Band, both published by Sterling Publishing. He has drawn for published works for such companies as Penguin Group Books, Scholastic and Stone Arch Books (to name a few.) Christopher was chosen as the featured illustrator for SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) in September 2015. That year he was selected from volunteers around the country and given a grant—SCBWI flew Christopher up to New York, all expenses paid, for the annual conference. In October of 2016 Christopher took the reins as illustrator coordinator for the Austin chapter.

When asked what his favorite part of the creative process is, Christopher replied that “he loves the revision process.” Not only does this make him an exceptionally talented artist, this is why Alter Endeavors has built so many impressive websites over the past few years for some really important folks. What’s more, people love working with Christopher. He is kind, patient, understanding, experienced, and forward-thinking.

Not many super creative folks are able to be even half as organized and focused as Christopher, which has a lot to do with why he was made animation lead for the film A Scanner Darkly and why so many folks choose to work with Alter Endeavors. We are proud and thankful to have Topher as part of the Alter Endeavors core family. If you want to check out his awesome work, click here.

 

Soon Your Site Might Be Flagged As “Not Secure”- What Do You Do?

not secure

Google has announced that their popular Chrome Browser, starting in October 2017, will flag all websites that are not encrypted and ask for any information through forms, as “not secure.” Website encryption is used to secure data that is given by the visitor while on that website. Google started doing this in January for websites that asked for personal or purchasing information, but starting in October, they will flag websites that ask for ANY information forms as “not secure”. So, to further explain what this means, our Director of Website Management at Alter Endeavors, Steve Joiner, is here to help tell us how this may affect your website.

Wait, What?

Today most websites are not encrypted, although the number that are is growing fast. If your website isn’t encrypted, it uses the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and doesn’t have Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates. This means that the information passed between website visitors and the website is more easily intercepted and successfully read. Websites that are encrypted, use Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) and have SSL certificates installed. The SSL certificate ensures that the information passed between the website visitors and the website is encrypted which makes it much more difficult to intercept. SSL Certificates typically have to be renewed periodically in one, two or three year increments.

Why Google Decided To Make HTTP “Not Secure”

Google has long been a proponent of a safer, more protected internet. When Google considers who to rank for any search term, they want to send searchers to safe and secure sites. Thus, Google has started to rank sites that have encryptions higher in search engine results. Google wants to alert searchers when they are visiting a site that isn’t encrypted, which is why they have decided to start flagging sites that aren’t encrypted as “not secure.”

Should you consider switching your website to HTTPS and encryption? 

While it may seem hard or stressful to switch your website to HTTPS and encryption, it is definitely something you should consider doing. First, encryption will make your site safer and more secure for your visitors. Second, Google will give your site more “ranking points” for search engine results allowing your site to potentially do better than sites without encryption. Lastly, your site won’t be flagged as “not secure” when you are asking your visitors to provide information in a form. While a SSL certification may not be necessary, it can improve your overall success and traffic to your site.

What is involved in switching from HTTP to HTTPS?

For starters, an SSL certificate must be purchased. Before purchasing the certificate, you must get your server set up and make sure it has the correct company name and address. Next, you need to submit a Certificate Signing Request (CSR). Then, you will have to submit the CSR to the Certificate Authority and get your domain and company validated. Once it is purchased and you receive the certificate, you must get it installed on your site. In some cases, websites may include assets that are provided by unencrypted websites. Those must be reviewed and resolved. Lastly, this change should be reflected in Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools to help protect your existing search rankings.

Help! This is way too technical!  Can Alter Endeavors help?

Yes, Alter Endeavors can definitely help you with this. To start, we can purchase the SSL certificate on your behalf. Then, we can install it on your website for you. Next, we would review your site and identify potential problems with the switch over to encryption. Lastly, we can notify Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools that your site is now HTTPS/encrypted to help improve your search rankings and make sure your website is no longer marked as “not secure.”

How much will this cost you?

The two costs to consider would be the cost of the SSL certificate and the cost of our Alter Endeavors developer’s time. The cost of the SSL certificate is approximately $75-$150. If you wanted to hire AE’s developer, it would probably take anywhere between 2-5 hours. Once you Contact Us, we will review your site and let you know ahead of time what our estimate is.

We know that this topic can be too technical at times, but we hope this article has helped explain what this update will mean for your website!

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before a Website Redesign

website redesign

Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, especially when embarking on a website redesign. At Alter Endeavors, we try to break the process down into steps to get a clearer picture of what exactly we need to do to create a new and improved website for our clients. As an example of the steps we take, our Projects Assistant at AE, Rachel Clark, has narrowed it down to the three questions to ask before beginning a website redesign.

1) What is my timeframe/budget?

A lot of the time companies want to launch their site around a specific event such as a holiday, a book launch, a date that is relevant to their industry, etc. So when discussing your timeframe, you need to be sure to plan accordingly if you are trying to launch by a specific date or event. For example, our client Steve H Lawton planned to have the website redesign launch at the same time as his new book release for optimal traffic. After discussing your timeframe, it is time to figure out your budget. At AE, we discuss a baseline budget without clients at the beginning. That being said, we know that ideas and plans can change throughout the creative process of re-designing a website so we also discuss the importance of a “flexible budget” so that we can adjust along the way if necessary.

2) What do I want to change?

Next in line, is deciding how much of your website you want to change. Is it a single page, a quiz, or your whole website you want to revamp? Are you trying to keep your current content or completely redo what you have? What are you trying to change about the design of the website? Do you like your current colors and logo or do you want to create a completely new brand guide? All of these questions are important to consider before starting a website redesign.

3) Who do I want to work on it?

Your final decision to make before re-designing your website is who you want to work on this project. Do you want to do all of the work yourself? Do you have an employee who has website experience that you want to head up the project? Are you both going to collaborate together or are you going to give them the reins? Or, do you need to hire someone to do the re-design for you? When making this decision you need to consider who has the time necessary to take on this project. A website redesign can be a large task and you don’t want it to be forgotten about or swept under the rug because you are too busy to give it your energy and focus.

A lot of the time, our employees at AE are given different projects and tasks based off of their expertise or interest in the area. For example, our employee Nic Weiss was put on the team handling our client Aero Designed Systems because of his interest in how things work. By matching up our employees to clients in industries they are interested in, we are able to ensure the best overall performance we have to offer.

Now that you know the 3 questions to ask yourself before re-designing your website, it’s time to get the ball rolling. If you answered “who do I want to work on it” with hiring outside help, take a look at our Portfolio Page at Alter Endeavors and Contact Us if you like what you see!

How to Create Content That Draws Traffic

create content

Drawing people to even the most well-designed websites can be challenging. Creating content that draws traffic to your site is important, but even more crucial is making sure your SEO-approved content makes sense and keeps their attention. In this blog, I’ll go over the importance of UX-friendly content meant to prompt reaction, and give you an outline to create content that works in your favor.

Well-cultivated UX

The content on your site should be created with user experience in mind. You’re probably already on the SEO bandwagon with the rest of the internet, but if not, be sure to optimize your site for search engines for the best chance at drawing people from Google or Bing. Find your site’s most and least visited pages through Google Analytics, to identify weak areas and improve your content accordingly.  Most importantly, make sure the placement of content on every page of your site is visually navigable, with an easy-to-understand format and clear visuals where necessary. Every bit of your content is there for a reason—nothing is there without reason.

Create Content That Elicits a Response

Good content should elicit a response from the people who interact with your site. First, it’s important to identify the response you’re looking fordo you want people to contact your business for services, or take an online assessment that will give you information on site visitor demographics? Knowing your end goal will help you focus your content—the more focused, the better your responses. Finally, be sure to give explicit calls-to-action to get people moving, directing them to the right page or giving them access to a simple contact form. Bottom line: if you ask people who go to your site to do something, make sure they know what they’re being asked to do, why they should do it, and how.

The Anatomy of Good Content

Now that you know the importance of well-structured content, we’ll take a closer look at the most important components:

1. A strong headline.

Having a strong headline to bring the reader in is the first thing that will grab their attention. Remember, not too general—stay focused. Make it a simple, direct statement that your next section expands upon.
“Bring Austin’s #1 Churros to Your Celebrity Event”

2. Create content that is engaging & thought-provoking.

Answer the question created by your headline. Be prepared to back up any claims you’ve made. Use visuals and graphics where applicable.
“In 2016, Churro Monthly named us the #1 Churro Spot in the Austin area. This March, we launched our catering business at the SXSW premiere of the Lord of the Rings Ultimate Director’s Cut.”
[Pictured: Elijah Wood eating a churro like his life depends on it.]

3. A clear call-to-action.

As I mentioned earlier, CTAs tell site visitor exactly what to do, and where, with the information you’ve just given to them.

“Contact us to cater your next birthday, party, or movie premiere.”

[contact form]

(P.S. This content was created for example purposes only. There is no Churro Monthly, nor is there a LotR Ultimate Director’s Cut. Elijah Wood does, however, love churros.)

It’s an art form to create content for your site that meets all of the above criteria, but it’s not impossible. Be sure to make navigable content through research, practice, and reworking for the best user experience. Give visitors to your site direction with focused content that keeps their interest. Once you’ve nailed your perfect method, you’ll be able to fill your site with searchable, interesting content that gets the right benefits for your brand or business.

Site Case Study: Steve H. Lawton

Steve H. Lawton

While all of our clients are different, it’s not every day that you encounter a person like Steve H. Lawton. An executive at Dell, Steve had a snow skiing accident that nearly ended his life. He came out of that experience with a powerful perspective on living. His was a site we knew we had to build.

A SPECIFIC PERSONALITY

Alter Endeavors builds our sites to engage the visitor. Conversions and usability are at the top of our list. After that, however, the site is about the person or business; who they are and how they want to be perceived.

Steve was starting his branding from scratch. Aside from the cover for his book, the Steve H. Lawton brand had no look. Part of our process is having the designer interview our clients. We do this so the designer understands the vision and personality behind the site. As Steve and his designer—also Steve, funnily enough—talked, it was clear this site was going to be special. It was going to be capital-b Big on personality.

THE MAN. THE MESSAGE. THE SITE.

When we began our engagement, Steve’s book Head First: A Crash Course in Positivity was being finalized and on its way to the printer. With that in mind, it was important to identify the purpose of the site. Does it begin and end with the book? Or is the site about Steve H. Lawton beyond the book?

Steve wanted a platform to continue to share his message. His blog is front and center. Prominent newsletter signup forms and calls to action ensure those who want to hear from him can easily sign up to do so. An RSS feed signup is also offered.

Steve needed a stage for his speaking efforts. Steve’s speaking page is a study in how to do it right. Testimonies and client logos build credibility. Potential clients can see the topics he speaks on, and watch Steve in action in his videos. Steve’s bio and print-ready photos are there to be downloaded and included in programs and on event sites.

While the site is a solid platform for the book, it has a life after; accommodating all of Steve’s efforts and his mission moving forward.

A QUIZ THAT PROMPTS

The message of positivity carries an introspective aspect. To foster that interaction, we worked with Steve to put together a quiz that engages his visitors. The results of the quiz get them thinking about positivity in their lives, furthering the impetus to buy his book. (They can also sign up for his mailing list when they take the quiz; or not, it’s up to them.)

A SITE THAT BELONGS TO STEVE

Building Steve’s site was not only a pleasure—he’s great to work with, we were sad to see him go—but also fed into Alter Endeavor’s mission of making this world a better place. Another one of our values is constructing sites that are unique in the marketplace. There’s no one like Steve. There’s no site quite like his either. (Just try and get that from one of those cookie-cutter templates we all see the ads for.*)

*Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Web Design Mistakes – 3 That Seem Like Great Ideas

Is your Website “Naughty or Nice”? Are there web design mistakes that seemed like a good idea at one time?

web design mistakes

We’re in November, which means it’s officially the holiday season and digital marketers can pound holiday metaphors into oblivion. At Alter Endeavors, we’re always happy to audit a website and give feedback. We fundamentally believe that every website should be unique in its branding, calls to action, and user experience. Over the years, we’ve seen a wide array of web functionalities and marketing ideas that are designed to increase engagement or conversions. Most of them work, but here are a few ideas that seem “nice” but are actually web design mistakes that could end your website up on the “naughty” list.

1. Slide Show Carousels

If I’m a business owner and my business offers different service lines or promotions, a slide show carousel may seem like a great idea. It allows pictures to scroll through so that users can see my business’s versatility. But, that’s the problem. Your website should be designed to optimize interaction. When someone visits your website, they should be clearly directed towards the engagement that maximizes conversions for your business (or your call to action). By presenting multiple options, such as a carousel, you’re actually encouraging users not to click further into the site. Need more proof of how a carousel can frustrate users? Click Here.

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-10-37-55-am

Carousels can also be web design mistakes because they create an issue in regards to load time. When the page is pulled up, all of those images must load as well, which increases your load time. How does this translate to dollars? According to a recent study, for every second your website takes to load you are losing 16% of your traffic. If a carousel adds an extra second or two to your load time, you’re potentially losing up to 1/3 of your traffic before visitors even see the site. And while load time isn’t a major factor in Google’s search algorithm, it does play a part—so there’s that to consider.

2. Keyword Stuffed Copy

There’s a reason that black hat tactics exist in SEO. Because originally they worked. Keyword stuffing was a very popular technique 5 years ago because the content was designed to be recognized by crawling google bots rather than the users. In that respect, keyword stuffing seems like a “nice” idea to boost your SEO rankings. However, keyword stuffing is a web design mistake and a fast way to end up on Google’s “naughty list” and actually hurt your SEO rankings.

First, Google’s algorithm changes frequently. It’s designed to find optimal content for the user based on their search. Over time, Google’s algorithm advanced to the point where it is able to recognize what is valuable content and what is not.

Second, keyword stuffing is not designed to create easily digestible content for the user. Often times, the content overwhelms the user. Optimized content should encourage the user to engage further—either taking them deeper into the site or directing them towards a call to action. As Amy Renken of Amy Renken Writing Services put it, “when writing content for the internet, focusing on appealing to the human audience is just as important as writing for the search engines bots.”

3. Autoplaying Videos

If you’re considering a video on your homepage, first, I would like to highly recommend this idea. Video creates a palatable means of engagement with visitors and even helps your SEO rankings if executed properly. However, multimedia such as video that “autoplays” can actually decrease engagement on your site and are widely considered a mistake for website best practices. Here’s Sarah Murphy’s take, from our video partner Golden Arm Media:

“Autoplay videos on your homepage take viewers by surprise, particularly because of the audio. Instead, when a viewer clicks play to view the content, they are already more invested because they had to opt in to view it. It gives them the chance to be curious first, and dig deeper. Forcing it upon them with autoplay is an almost guaranteed way to turn them off before they have the chance to learn about your company. Just think about when you’re reading an article online, and a video ad starts playing—it’s not a very pleasant experience.”

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-10-42-39-am

Web Design Mistakes to Avoid

In whole, these are three ideas that seem like a great concept on your site but could actually put your website on the “naughty list” with your users and customers. Rather than a carousel, focus on one clear call to action. Instead of keyword stuffing, create content that is relevant to your business focused on creating engagement. Finally, video can be an excellent way to reinforce branding or give further insight to your business—just don’t force it upon your users!

Where Are We Going?—Mobile Friendly Websites

mobile friendly websites

In January, Apple’s iPhone will celebrate its 10th birthday. At the time, the idea that one could surf the web and be on the cell phone at the same time was not only revolutionary, but seen as unnecessary. Previous “mobile web” experiences were incomplete, information based, and lacked the design and branding elements now crucial to a mobile website. The idea that mobile friendly websites would now just be a series of listed out links seems prehistoric—yet this was the reality less than 15 years ago.

Back to the present, as consumers, we use the internet daily. The average adult spends over 20 hours a week on the internet. With the prevalence of smart phones, this number will only grow. According to a Morgan Stanley study, the number of global users who accessed the internet via a mobile device was larger than the number of desktop users. Where does this tie back in to business applicable? 65% of new visitors to your website this month will be accessing your site through a mobile device, including tablets. The mobile revolution has begun online. Is your business ready for those potential customers? If you were to access your website through your phone as a customer, would you feel comfortable spending money with your company?

Oh yes, and there is also a major SEO component to being mobile responsive. Mobile responsive encompasses a webpage being CSS responsive, having quick load times and low data overhead. These are all major factors in Google’s search algorithm. As of April 2015, Google prioritized mobile friendly sites in their rankings and boosted those sites in their rankings. Also known as “Mobilegeddon”, the most drastic difference in the algorithm was felt in mobile search. If your website is not mobile friendly, it is very likely you don’t rank in mobile search at all.

What does CSS responsive mean? Based upon the browser window size, the structure of a webpage changes. In practice, the structure will change for iPhones, Tablets and Desktop. A site can be CSS responsive but not mobile friendly at all. However, a mobile friendly site must be CSS responsive. How is this possible? Again, mobile friendly includes CSS responsiveness, quick load times and low data overhead. If a site is CSS but takes forever to load, the site is not mobile friendly at all. Quicker load times are essential because on average you have 3 seconds before a mobile user will leave your site. If a site takes a minute to load, you obviously just lost 33% of the time a customer will spend on your site (ultimately meaning less conversions). Low data overhead simply means that a user will not use a significant amount of data to load the page.

If you’re not sure if your site is mobile friendly, click here.

At Alter Endeavors, we build well branded and mobile friendly websites. Our team of designers and developers have mobile specific experience that can help your business be ready for the future of the internet—which is in the palm of our hands.

Writing Website Content: Accommodating Different Types of Site Visitors

writing website content

“How?” she said to me, “When writing website content, how do I accommodate people who come to my website who know what they want, and also those who still need to be convinced they need my services?”

She’s a new client who’s had a website for a while. She’s engaged us to build a new site that will increase her interaction with both of those audiences.

Her’s is a good question. A valid one. Let’s take a look at it.

The Two Types of Site Visitors

Visitor One has encountered you on social media. Your statements there, consistent posts, and engagement with others have convinced her she needs your services. When she arrives at your site, she wants to contact you.

Visitor Two needs what you do. Through a search engine query, she’s arrived at your site. She’s never heard of you. She’s encountering your message for the first time.

Visitor One : Give Her What She Needs—NOW

Accommodating Visitor One is simple, but it’s a step so often overlooked. Give her the ability to do what she wants, in this case, contact you. Put the information where she is looking for it. Make it simple.

I’ll say it again. Make it simple.

If you’re a service company. A restaurant. Any brick-and-mortar. Provide your phone number—right there, at the top of your page. On mobile, this phone number can be clicked and then will call you. See? Simple. 

Let’s review the steps:

1. She arrives at your page. 

2. She sees and clicks (or dials) the phone number. 

3. She calls you.

4. You are now talking to someone who wants your services (= money*).

*Yay!

Some businesses (I am looking at you Restaurant Industry) try to be fancy and tuck this information away. The phone number—and even more inexplicable—their address are in the footer (not a terrible place for it), but still not the first place the visitor will see. I’ve seen this information on about pages, menu pages in the middle of the appetizers, and there’s been more than a few where I can’t find this information at all. (Really? What’s a restaurant’s customers’ number one need? Find the restaurant.)

Ok. So back to visitor experience. Here’s the difference if the phone number is in the footer on the site. (This example is on mobile, a platform on which most visitors arrive.)

1. She arrives at your page. 

2. She looks for your phone number. (Time wasted.)

3. She doesn’t see it. (She’s a little frustrated.)

4. She scrolls down. (Time wasted.)

5. She scrolls down. (Time wasted.)

6. Wifi is slow, the site stutters. (MORE time wasted.)

7. She arrives at the bottom of the site.

8. She sees and clicks (or dials) the phone number. 

9. She calls you.

10. You are now talking to someone who wants your services (= money).

In the second interaction you’ve already cost your potential client. You’ve tested her patience, which few of us have on the internet. You have precious moments with those coming to your site. If they know what they want, you have to give it to them now.

Contacting you is a prime need of visitors. Phone number, address, buttons leading to your contact page to send an email—these are all common items included at the top of a site’s pages. However, depending on your business, this might be a newsletter sign-up, or link out to your social media platforms.

Visitor Two : Tell Her Your Story and Invite Her to Come Along

Visitor Two: she needs what you do, but doesn’t know anything about you. You have a little more time with her, because she’s open to gathering information to make her decision. However, you still need to make your case quickly and clearly.

The elements of a well-built home page—and interior pages—lead the visitor on a journey. She is presented with the prime theme of the site: a headline and imagery that boils down the purpose of your business into a few, quickly understood words.

Scrolling down the website, this statement is supported and defined by things like:

  • The elevator statement: a slightly longer definition of your company’s offerings and objectives.
  • Graphic presentations of your services.
  • Logos, testimonials, or review site ratings add credence to your claims.
  • A video of you or your company in action.
  • Blog feeds, kept up to date, show you are savvy and present in the industry.

On the home page, each of these items are brief, a few words or graphically presented concepts. Each is accompanied by an action—a link or button urging interaction—taking her deeper into the site. There she will be further educated, convinced, and spurred to act.

By the time she reaches the bottom of the home page, and is presented with the final encouragement to contact you, she should be sold. After all, she’s gone on a guided trip, guided by YOU. You’ve given her the best story you have, told your tale.

Visitor Three : The Invisible Presence

There is one visitor, too, for whom all of the above applies. Though this visitor is silent, there’s a strong case for saying it’s the most important visitor of all.

The search engines—those internet robots made up of code probe your site. They’re digging for clues that you are who you say you are; that you do what you say you do. Their goal is to present the best on the tops of their lists. 

There were once multiple strategies in the past for luring them, and even fooling them, but now the best strategy is strong, relevant content, in positions on the page where their human counterparts would look for them.

Accommodating All the Visitors

An effective website provides your visitors with what they need. Whether it’s a phone number, or more information to make a decision, the best sites do this in a quick and clear way. As you consider your website, consider your objectives, what you want your visitors to do, and then put things in easily accessible places. We’ll all thank you for it.