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Website Navigation
Technology is just advancing at an amazing speed, isn’t it? The way that we search for things and the websites that we use. In the old days, navigation was just a little strip of pretty colored buttons running down the page. Those days are pretty much gone. . . or are they? Very often those simple navigations that we had ten or fifteen years ago were superior to website navigation today. The reality is that they were simple and it was easy to find what we came for.

Have you ever been to a website that was simply annoying to navigate and it felt like you couldn’t find what you wanted if you stayed a hundred years? Those are the kinds of sites that you simply leave– sometimes leaving a little webmaster feedback on the way out–and you don’t visit them again do you?

Statistics tell us that we have about a minute to offer up the information that our reader came to find before they become impatient and leave our site, very often to not return at all. Website navigation problems are the number one reason why visitors leave sites and find another, easier to use site. That means that you want to get it right the first time.

Web design navigation has some common problems that are seen frequently in older sites and in some brand new ones. The most common problems that are seen are:

Circuitous navigation that doesn’t take you anywhere. One page links to another to another, and the navigation on every page is different. This is frustrating to the user and hard to find what you came for. Once you do find it, you can’t find your way back to the first page.

Navigation that is hidden or hard to find–we’ve all seen this. About a third of the website buttons on the top bar and the remainder buried at the foot of the text on the front page or a content page because someone told them that would make people go deeper into the site. The reality is that sometimes it does. Usually it just annoys them because what they are seeking is not readily apparent. One very popular website company actually recommends this method.

Avoiding those problems means planning ahead. Determining what information you will house and how you will set it up logically to give people a good chance to see it quickly.

Set up the navigation when you build the site. Ideally you will be able to do that but if you can’t, fix what you have or rebuild the site to make it easier for people to find what they want. Website navigation is the be all and end all today.It’s a reason why search engines rank you well and people come back again and again. If you’re not getting the traffic that you want from your website or your bounce rate is inordinately high, ask yourself why.

The search engines today–and your readers– are all about a good experience. They want to find it quickly and read it in bite sized pieces. Hiding the navigation is a problem for both you and the website visitor because it is frustrating to you and that means that you lose customers.

It means that your readers and your prospective customers can find the information that they want easily or the products that they want to buy readily. If that isn’t the case in your website, it’s time for a change.

 

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New Website Design: Moving On from Your Old Website

You invested your heart and soul into your old website, but it just doesn’t load as fast as it used to. You still have the vision that inspired the site in your mind, but it takes more searching to see that vision when you look at what your site has morphed into through the months or years. Visitors aren’t responding to the site as well as they once did, and you know that it is time to take action.

When the analytics for your site start to look far less impressive than you are willing to tolerate, you have two options. You can embrace the need for change and breathe new life into your site’s design, or you can abandon the site entirely and watch it decline into nothing of value. You have invested far too much time to let it go completely, which leaves you with the first option: revive the site through change.

A thorough analysis of your old website will help you decide what type of change you need. Here is a quick checklist to help you complete this analysis:

  • Identify features that are used most often by visitors and which hold visitors on the page longest.
  • Identify features that are no longer used or are quickly abandoned by users.
  • List all complaints that you have received from visitors.
  • Test your navigation system to make sure it is still efficient.
  • Identify outdated or irrelevant content that needs rewritten or eliminated.
  • Have friends or family members give you their opinion on your overall site design.

In most cases, you will find that a completely new site design is needed to bring the site back to life. You can work with a professional designer to tackle this project, which often turns into a balancing act. While you need to maintain the essence of the site so that your loyal followers do not lose the features they find useful, you also need to upgrade to something more eye-catching and appealing to a larger audience.

Decide What Features to Keep

Make a short list of the features or design elements that you know should remain on your new website design. This will help you feel better about moving on from your old website, since you get to keep the elements that make the site unique.

Any features or pages of content that your regular site visitors use frequently should make it onto this list. You may end up redesigning some elements of these features, but you know that they must remain on the site to appease your regular followers. You may also want to keep evergreen content that gets a lot of attention from search engines and human visitors. You may also identify pages that are struggling but which might thrive if you give them a makeover with fresher content and better SEO strategies.

The Excitement of Going Live

It can take several months, to completely overhaul your website design into something more appealing to today’s viewers. Get in touch with your market and view competing websites so that you see where your new website design can one-up your competitors.

When it is time to take your new website live, prepare for a period of analysis. Make sure to analyze the elements of your old website that were not working to ensure that they do work with the new website design.

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Running a business website can certainly be a challenge for any company. But in today’s competitive market, having an effective web design that works for your business is just one of several startup marketing essentials.

startup marketing essentials

From our own company’s experience, here are three things in particular we have found that every business owner needs to have on their business website:

Prominent Calls to Action

Your online visitors want and need direction. With their super short attention spans and the dreaded bounce rate, you have mere moments to engage your website visitors and guide them where you want them to go. Be direct in your approach – a clear call to action whether it is a sign up form for a newsletter or a featured product  you are selling or even a big phone number in your header to drive phone calls, it needs to be obvious.

A clear call to action on your main page isn’t simply the act of adding a big button, it is about strategy. Make it clutter free and precise, stick to the essentials and take away the distractions.

Compelling and Engaging Content

Unique content is what will initially drive your online visitors to take the action you want them to take. If you are lacking an effective headline or a brief and prominent explanation of your value proposition, your visitors are not likely to make it past the homepage or landing page. Compelling content needs to be simple, short and direct. Motivate your visitors to take action.

Provide a Consistent User Experience

What does this mean? When you provide a “consistent user experience”, you are creating a feeling about your company in all of your marketing, especially as they interact with your website. Several elements influence user experience in your website design:

Web Design Elements – Your website design should embody your company brand. The design should also engage your target market and cause them to feel a certain way. For example, a bed and bath website targeted at middle-aged women, should “feel” like a place where women want to buy things for their home.

Credibility/Trustworthiness – Your website design and functionality also plays an important role in how credible and trustworthy you appear online. It may be seem like a small thing to you, but a person getting their first impression of your company wants to know that they are going to have a good experience and not get scammed. Credibility doesn’t mean having a fancy homepage with seals on your checkout page if you are selling something, it is more about creating an online space that is professional and easy to use.

Ease of use – Your online visitors need to be able to easily navigate your website pages without getting frustrated. You should use clear menu navigation and structure, use best practices to be effective and purposeful to direct users through your pages and make contact information easy to find.

Next Steps

So how do you take the next steps to get an effective web design? BMGcreative is here to serve, as an experienced web design company and marketing partner. Contact us to get started or make an appointment online!

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At BMGcreative, our designers and developers are often heard saying “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” This can apply to a variety of things but it seems to come up most often when we’re talking about web design mistakes people should avoid.

web design mistakes

Here are a few of our favorite web design mistakes people make:

  • Just because you can use 15 fonts on one website… doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can color your fonts…doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can use JavaScript…doesn’t mean you should (always use it for the right reasons!)
  • Just because you can use a busy patterned background on your website…doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can set up an auto tweet every 15 minutes… doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can take images with your iPhone and put them on your website…doesn’t mean you should
  • Just because you can design your own logo with clipart…doesn’t mean you should

We could go on and on….

What about you? Are there elements of your web design or even in your overall marketing plan where you have entered into that gray area? Is your business guilty of making common design, marketing and web design mistakes in the “just because you can” category?

We see this trend a lot when a business owner tries DIY in their web design and marketing. They aren’t professional marketers or designers and they do not know exactly where to draw the line. Always remember, simple is better and often, less really is more.

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In today’s marketing landscape, especially online, a company’s business website is often the prospective client’s first impression. You can image that it is a rare purchase that happens today which doesn’t in some way begin online with some bit of customer research. Both B2C and B2B consumers find themselves not only starved for time but they are much more web savvy than ever. And this means the research tool of choice is a quick Google search.

Business Website Redesign

Well before a prospective client will set an appointment or go into your business, they will scope your business out online. For this reason, when it comes to your business website, you must put your best foot forward. In many cases today, especially if your website is outdated, this may call for a professional business website redesign.

If you spend any time online yourself, you are likely to run into a lot of websites that even you think are not user friendly. They may be outdated and slow loading. Most companies feel that going through a redesign will be a hassle – we hear all kinds of excuses for not having updated a website including not enough time or money. We have also heard the excuse that there is no one in the office who is web savvy enough to maintain the website for them on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, letting a website site and go stale or having an old static website is no longer good for your business. It can do more harm than good and tell Google that your site is not a good result to visitors looking for products or services like yours.

If you’re website is outdated, you are basically saying that you don’t care what they see when they come to your website and that you may or may not follow up with them and your business has little attention to detail. If you think about it from a client’s perspective, you can see how that would look.

If your current web design is difficult to navigate, as in no real organizational page structure, your website visitors are simply going to get frustrated and leave for a more user-friendly experience. You will lose your potential customers on that first impression.

Going the DIY route or letting a “friend” do your business website redesign is a bad idea – we have seen many of our clients come to us after getting burned. You need a website that shows your company’s professionalism and functions the way you want it to.

If you are wondering whether or not your website is working for your business, check out these stats from around the web:

Websites with a blog overall get over 50% more traffic

Businesses who regularly update their blog obtain nearly 80% more followers on Twitter and other social sites

The top 2 factors that users say want when visiting a website is easy navigation and fast load times

Your business website is your introduction to your potential customers. How would you like to make your first impression?

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One of the most common things we see in startup marketing is that the small business–trying to save a little money–would prefer to take their graphic design or website design to a friend or relative, or even do it themselves as opposed to spending the money to have it accomplished by a professional. Marketing Mistakes

While this may seem be a viable option, typically it’s one of the biggest marketing mistakes a business can make in the beginning. The DIY “graphic designer” who has no formal instruction or years of experience in the field makes some serious mistakes that can cost you plenty in your marketing and SEO.

The most common problems that we see in DIY marketing and SEO include bad or poor graphic design which can bring a heavy penalty in terms of ranking. In many cases the DIY designer is not aware of the newer methods that allow compression and the sites load slowly. Additionally we see a broad range of mistakes in navigation that make it more difficult for the site user to be able to navigate the website easily and well. Additionally, the design looks amateur – and people take notice of this. Your business needs to look professional and trustworthy to earn a good reputation.

These mistakes can cost the company who is doing startup marketing a lot because the site visitor or user will become frustrated with tedious navigation and simply click off the site, finding another one that they can more easily use. In addition, the search engines are beginning to penalize sites which have speed problems and lower their ranking.

When you are just starting in business, why begin on the wrong foot by making marketing mistakes that can prevent your site from ranking and lower your business visibility? In that startup phase, it is important to consider your target audience and how you present your business. Consider a solid website design built by a professional rather than the DIY route. If your best friend made your graphics and you absolutely must use them, pass them along to a professional who will be able to polish the graphics into a usable state, as you want to be able to use them in the correct way – in a professional manner.

There are many affordable web design and marketing companies, but the cheapest will not always be your best bet. Just be sure to check out their portfolio for other happy clients find a design firm that will do great work to get you the return on investment you expect for the money you put in for your website and startup marketing budget.

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After investing the time to register a domain name for your business, taking the time to choose just the right one, now all you have left to do is find a web design company and hire them to make your business website, right? Well….not exactly. In today’s digital landscape, an effective web design is the foundation of any business’s initial marketing strategy. Your website will often be your customer’s first impression of your business, so it is important that you put a lot of thought and work into it. Here are some things to discuss with your web design team as you plan your initial meeting.Starting a New Website

First, you should decide what the main goal of your website will be. What is the main purpose? Is your website going to primarily serve as an online brochure for your company or is it supposed to function as a lead generation page in which it needs to capture the names and email address of prospective customers? Alternatively, would you need your website to sell products or services online? Whatever your needs for your new website, it is imperative that you determine all the features you’ll need prior to beginning any discussion or work with a web design firm to avoid wasting valuable time and money just to add functionality later in the development process that you didn’t think of in the beginning stages.

Secondly, think about how much maintenance you want to do on your own website. If you are okay with having a design firm handle everything, down to writing and posting content, factor that in. If however, you want to be able to publish and edit content easily, you will want an easy to manage CMS like WordPress which will greatly effect which web design company you choose to build your website. Your decision on this matter will especially affect the technology and platform used in constructing the website, meaning, the level of your involvement in maintenance after the launch needs to be determined up front.

Additionally, you have to think about how prospective customers will find your website. Obviously you will market your domain name in ways such as business cards and other marketing collateral, however, proper coding and search engine optimization (SEO) can help your website rank highly for keywords in the search engines to increase the amount of people who come to your site. Other factors like integration with social media can give your website greater visibility so these things should certainly be discussed. Whatever methods you use to get visitors to your website, the idea is that when they get there, the site is user friendly and engaging.

Now you can put some things down on paper and reach out to a few companies for a proposal to build a great website for your company. BMGcreative is a great place when you are starting a new website – check out our Portfolio for some web design ideas or Contact Us today for a quote!

 

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Lately, Google has been pushing those who advertise with them to design mobile-friendly websites, due to the fact that most generic websites look terrible on smartphones and other mobile devices. Google is now providing more research to support their advice. And this should go for any business owner who has a website. Take Google’s advice – make it mobile friendly!top mobile websites

Google is hoping that the better the mobile interaction, the more people will use Google to search for websites, businesses, and products. A lousy mobile experience not only reflects badly on the business, but also on the Google searches that sent the users there.

In a recent study conducted by a reputable market research firm, about two-thirds of smartphone users say a mobile-friendly website makes them more likely to purchase a company’s product or service, as well as return to the website in the future. 61% of smartphone users say that if they aren’t able to find what they are looking for within a short period of time, they’ll go to another website. Half of these users say that even if they like a business, they’ll use their website less often if it doesn’t work well on their smartphones or other mobile devices. 72% of smartphone and mobile device users say that a mobile-friendly website is important to them.

Google’s advice: Design a fast and simple mobile site. Make it user friendly and easy to navigate around to the different areas of content. Google notes that you can also advertise your mobile site with Google Mobile Ads, which is a notable choice for businesses if you want to reach out to the two-thirds of users who use Google search to find a website.

No matter the smartphone or mobile device (i.e. Android, Apple, etc.) it’s still important that your website is mobile-friendly, and easy to use. Why is a mobile-friendly website so important? More than 800,000 smartphones are activated daily, and more importantly, over 57% of smartphone users search for businesses on their device. The top mobile websites incorporate an eye pleasing design that works well on all devices, including your pc, and deliver great content about the product or service you were searching for quickly and easily. Keep this in mind as you design your next website. What you will find is that much of your web traffic is likely to come from mobile traffic as time goes on and that is just the nature of our tech driven society.

 

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In business, marketing is everything. What we see in our business is that start-up companies and small businesses try to focus on everything except their marketing and by the time they realize marketing is important, they’ve waited too long and they are behind the curve. They are scrambling to catch up with their competitors and get a campaign of some kind together and they want it all as quickly as possible. How this usually turns out is, well, bad.Web Development Company

Many take the DIY route of building a website and throwing together some marketing pieces or even going on a site that lets you design your own set of business cards and other print marketing materials for rock bottom prices because they think that looks reputable and they just don’t know any better.

How you present your business to your potential clients matters. What your website looks like and how it functions matters. Load times matter and content does matter. Where you may be able to cut corners in some places to save money, your business website should not be one of them. The best thing you can do when you develop a website for your business is to make sure it can grow with your company. This means putting your website in a content management system that is easy to use, like WordPress. Make sure you can easily update your content as needed without the need to hire an outside company to do it for you.

A professional web development company can help you put together a website that works for your company by producing a website that is in line with your company goals right from the start. Clearly communicating your goals to your web developer will ensure you are both on the same page and that the end result meets with your expectations.

If you are serious about your start-up, let’s get started on your website and make you stand out from your competitors online. Contact us for a quote online or call 877-887-6397.

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If you want your business to be successful on the internet, you need to ensure that you have an effective web design to begin with.

effective web design

With hundreds of other businesses selling products and services that may be similar, having a user friendly, effective web design with quality customer service is essential.

Your website design should begin by being as simple as possible. Customers don’t want long videos, animations or over the top graphics when they enter your site. Most of the time, they want quick information that they can scan and understand, in just a few seconds. As they click through the pages on a clearly defined navigation area, the flow should be logical and should contain facts.

Another important part of your web design, is to avoid the temptation to make your page too distracting by wanting to add too much. While social media connections are fine, you want to avoid them being the central focus of your website. What you want is a clean, professional layout that makes sense to your target audience.

Of course, all of this is going to be quite a bit of work. If this is your first time building the page, or you think you need a website redesign, then it might be time to have a website design professional step in. The web design professional will be able to construct a custom website design for your business that drives qualified traffic and produces sales and also ensures that everything runs smoothly throughout the project. They do this by understanding your goals such as:

What is your typical customer?
What potential customers are you seeking?
What does a person need from your website?
Do you have any sales or other goals?
What is your short term / long term marketing strategy for the website?
What immediate results does your site need to provide?

With this information in place, the professional handling your web design can begin to create a layout that will meet your needs. If e-commerce is involved, this includes verifying the shopping cart is integrated, and even that the pages are search engine optimized for the best performance when the website is launched.

Don’t let the need of planning an effective web design slow down your business. Instead, take a moment to speak with a qualified professional website design company like BMGcreative that will help you to create a top notch website that meets your needs and that is customized to help your business grow.

 

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