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Marketing Maintenance: Update or Redesign Your Website

website-redesign

Have you been putting off updating your website because you’ve been too busy? Now is the perfect time to tackle that project. More people are spending time online and you need to be prepared for this influx of traffic with a refreshed or brand new website.

We’ve all experienced the effects of seasonal slowdowns or periods of lighter business activities. These quieter business days do not have to be unproductive. It’s a great time to review your website to see what updates you can make. You can also revisit a website project you’ve been wanting to tackle.

Updating Your Website

Have a website professional perform an audit. It’s good to have a new set of eyes on your website, especially a professional who knows the hallmarks of good website design. Whatever your industry, a website pro can assess whether or not your website is working toward your business goals. Below are some questions to ask yourself and things to consider when revamping your website design.

Search Engine Optimization

  • Have you completed an SEO audit in the last year? Take a look at the backend of your website and your content.
  • Is your content being updated regularly?
  • Are your headings and content properly assigned?
  • Are you publishing content on other websites or blogs?
  • How are you receiving linkbacks, if any?
  • Do you have any social media accounts or digital marketing campaigns that are feeding traffic to your site? If so, have you assessed them lately? 

Navigation – Menus and Pages

  • Are the menus and pages logical and easy to navigate?
  • Is it simple to get back to the home page?

Have someone else click through your site. Did they end up on pages that they had no idea how they arrived at? Did they find what they were looking for? You could even poll some customers to define the user experience better.

Mobile Responsive

  • Does the design look and feel right on a phone or is it outdated and difficult to navigate? Can it be viewed on an average sized cell phone?
  • Are the calls to action mobile responsive? The call button should automatically dial your designated phone number when someone taps it. The email button should automatically pop up an email to your designated address when someone taps it. These are just a few things that are necessary for proper mobile responsiveness in a website.

Overall Look

  • Simplicity is best. Large, clean photos should illustrate what your business does but not overcrowd the page.
  • Iconography helps users easily find what they are looking for and breaks up large blocks of copy.
  • Headings (H1, H2, H3) should be used appropriately throughout the website. They are incredibly important for search engine optimization (SEO). Not only do headings help define content sections, they make each page easier to view, because information is easier to find.
  • Clean layouts with little fuss are best, especially for professional services websites. Animations, auto-play music, and other “frills” actually take away from the user’s experience. Don’t make the mistake of thinking “more is better.”

Content Assessment – Copy, Videos, Infographics, and Blogs

  • When was the last time you reviewed your website’s content? Is it still relevant to your business, your industry, and current website trends?
  • Has a marketing professional ever reviewed and assessed your content?
  • Do you have videos on your website?
  • Is there too much or too little information on your website?
  • Is the content broken into digestible blocks with clear calls to action?
  • Are you updating your content regularly? Do you have a blog? This also fits into the category of SEO.

Assess Calls to Action

  • Is there a Call to Action on every page? You need to give the visitor every opportunity to take action, whether that’s a phone call, an email, or an online form.
  • Have you tried AB testing different colors or phrasing for your Calls to Action? This is a great way to make sure you are getting the most out of them.
  • Are your Calls to Action clear? Make sure users can easily understand your Calls to Action. Here, again, we want to be simple and to the point – no fancy language or poetics.

If it’s been more than 5 years since you invested in your website, chances are you will need a complete website overhaul. Perhaps you find that you only need or want updates to a few aspects of the website to get it working for you. Whatever your particular needs are, connect with the Pinstripe Marketing website design and development team. We’ll review your website and make recommendations on how to get it to achieve your goals and win more business.

10 Creative Website Trends (With Examples!) for 2019

Many brands, big and small, have been giving their websites a stylistic refresh. These little touches can be simple tweaks to their logo and typography or added design elements that attract more attention, like illustrations and animation. There’s a reason for doing this and it’s quite simple; users are attracted to good design.

It’s All about the User

Users respond better to a well-designed website. We all know this intuitively when we’re searching for something on the internet; we are more likely to stay on a great site for longer and finalize purchases when the site is well-designed. And design trends seem to change every couple years. The list below is our look into the 15 creative website trends for this year. Many of these will be in style for quite some time, just because of their user-friendly ways. So, we encourage you to read about them and see how your site measures up (examples included).

10 Creative Website Trends

  • Organic Shapes

Web pages usually have a grid structure with squares and rectangles that give a sense of stability, but can feel clunky, too. Organic shapes are irregular and asymmetrical, providing depth to make page elements stand out. These elements are drawn from nature itself and develop a visual flow.

  • Retro

Those styles from years past never went away—they went underground. Experimenting with nostalgia finds the juxtaposition between the old and new. For many young people, retro designs can feel new or unique. Retro design elements can make a brand standout.

  • Asymmetrical Layouts

Pages don’t have to be on a grid anymore. It’s easier to make them more asymmetrical and it’s becoming more common to see out there. This pushes the boundaries of design, which helps draw more attention.

  • Illustrations

Companies looking for depth to their design should take a serious look at 3D and iconoclastic illustrations. The creative potential illustration brings can extend a brand outside what their competition is doing.

  • More Video

Integrated video captures the audiences attention quicker than text. It also boosts SEO ratings, because users spend more time on the page. Video is strategic.

  • Overlapping Design Elements

Much like asymmetrical designs, overlapping elements can bring more emphasis to content on the page. It also makes pages look more three dimensional when boxes are layered.

  • Large Navigation

Experimentation with navigation isn’t a new thing. So, websites choosing to push the boundaries with their design should look at making their navigation very large and the focal point of their site.

  • Storytelling

Better writing, such as storytelling, will keep visitors on the page. This is also a strategic move. More companies are looking for an emotional response from their marketing and this is definitely a great way to get it.

  • Serif Fonts

The style, arrangement, or appearance of letters on the page matters. Serif fonts create elegant titles and sophisticated headlines. Some can be retro with a modern twist.

  • Screen-Dominating Text

The text does the talking. It’s a headline they can’t ignore. Much like large navigation, this design makes the message the focal point and it should also entice users to investigate.

This is not an exhaustive list. There are other design choices on the front end that draw users in, and on the back-end there are ways to enhance performance, such as programming and plugins. However, some of these backend adjustments tend to require complete overhauls, depending on your current developer’s method. Some of these are best to add when you are completely redesigning your website, which you should consider doing every 3-6 years.

Our examples above are supposed to spark your imagination, hopefully showing you a few tweaks that may increase traffic and conversions on your website. Let us know which ones are on your wish list.

Let’s Talk About Websites and the User Experience

websites and user experience_news

Over the past decade, we’ve experienced first-hand how building a website has become more complicated. This has been a journey for all designers and developers because it seems like something new happens every year to change the course of development. Yet, wireframes are still used to show the general layout of a site and user flow still describes where traffic tends to go. It’s good to know that some things are still the same, even though mobile apps and smartphone navigation have changed the way we create a positive user experience.

Do Some Homework

We have to do some homework before we can get started on those wireframes, because we need to see how potential clients will interact with your site. What is their goal when they get there? Are they searching for information or do they need help right away? Answering these questions can help us enhance their experience.

The site needs to be accessible and easy to use. Is it disability-friendly? How long will it take to load on-screen? It needs to connect immediately with the user and their motivations for being there. They should be able to quickly locate and navigate to areas of the site that are relevant to their needs.

From PC to Mobile

Five years ago, personal computers still dominated the market, but are losing traction quickly. Today, smartphones are now considered the gateway to the internet. Consumers access media and shop online more than ever. A company’s website has to be mobile responsive, or else it will lose potential business. Plus, Google lowers search results if the website is not optimized for mobile.

Visual Design

The best way to engage potential clients is through visual design. It communicates faster than words and solidifies the company’s brand through logos, icons, colors and texture. If this is their first impression of the company, it needs to consistently represent the brand while providing information.

Visual design should improve navigation, not hinder it. When a site is overtaken by too many visuals it gets bulky, especially on a smartphone. As a result users struggle to ignore the constant stream of images. Best thing to do is to strike a balance between recurring brand images and visuals for ease of navigation.

Be Intuitive – Be Engaging

A website needs to do more than just capture attention. It has to sell the brand. The best way to do this is through intuitive design, engaging visuals, and content that motivates. Website content needs to talk about solving problems. In some way, the site has to make visitors’ lives better, which means clearly identifying common challenges and how they get solved. Having a list of features and benefits doesn’t sell unless the “Why?” is there. Same goes for awards. These need to be explained in a way that makes people want to learn more or call.

To design a site from the user’s perspective takes time and some research, but it will increase engagement and funnel in more business. Connect with us if you have an upcoming web project and we’ll see how we can help!

Retail Branding: Treasure Island Cigar Lounge

branding campaign_news

The vast majority of Pinstripe’s clients are professional services firms – law, healthcare, architecture, technology, consulting, etc. Over the years, we’ve become pretty good at developing brands and crafting messages that work in those industries, but every once in a while we get a project that falls outside the norm which gives everyone a little shot of adrenaline and inspiration. The latest example is the rebranding of Ginger’s husband’s “retirement hobby” – a cigar bar on the beach.

When he purchased the bar, it had nine years under another name that we thought had a more retail connotation instead of a lounge to enjoy a fine cigar and cold glass of local craft beer. For a fresh start, and to highlight the lounge and to make it more ‘on the nose’ about the location (particularly for tourists checking Google), it became the Treasure Island Cigar Lounge.

Treasure Island Cigar Lounge

The logo was the fun part. Taking inspiration from local pirates, tattoos, a slight reference to his epic goatee, and Ginger’s fondness for octopuses, we developed a final, iconic brand for the lounge.

We don’t have many opportunities to work on consumer-facing, retail brands, so we enjoyed the creativity that comes with a fun project like this. So far, the logo appears on the web site, social media, menus, signage, stickers, coasters and t-shirts, but we’ll soon be producing ads, event materials and more. We’d love to see it as a mural!

Let us know if we can help you with a fun branding project!

Marketing Must Haves for 2018

content marketing

In the 2018 race to the top of relevant search results, companies of every shape and size will be adding more to their online experience. Simply having a website and a few Google Ads isn’t going to be enough to conquer the world of online marketing. And, if you don’t follow a comprehensive approach to strengthen your digital marketing mix, you may fall behind your competition.

The 4 Must Haves

“Must Have” is a great phrase. It implies necessity. And, it’s exactly why the marketing must haves for this year should not get pushed aside for another year.

  1. Website Optimization for Mobile Devices

Last year, mobile and tablet devices accounted for more than half of internet usage worldwide. This comes as no surprise, because sales in mobile devices have been growing exponentially since the inception of the iPhone.

Optimization for mobile devices goes beyond responsive design. It tackles mobile issues, such as connectivity, distractions, and smaller screens. The best website designs will resemble mobile apps.

Rather than struggle to read broken text and awkward drop-down menus, 61% of visitors to sites without optimization will leave the page. That’s a lot of opportunity lost! But, if the site is optimized, 67% of consumers are more likely to use a service or buy a product.

  1. Content strategy

Late in 2015, Google released a major update to its search parameters that included: frequent site updates, relevant content, and links to and from other credible sites. This was meant to eliminate poorly performing search results that gave irrelevant and outdated content to their users.

Over the past two years, Google continued to change many of the parameters to fit the needs of its users. Now, search engine optimization feels like shifting sands beneath our feet. A strong content strategy can provide some solid ground.

Company websites need to become a resource for all consumers—past, present and potential. This means frequent updates with articles, blogs, and case studies. Companies also need to develop relationships with media outlets and provide frequent press releases. Over time, this strategy improves search results and user engagement.

  1. Video

Dwell time is another parameter for Google’s search rankings. A “sticky site” can have visitors reading great articles, but what they would really prefer is to watch a video instead.

Videos provide an entertaining way for visitors to get more content, faster. A company’s brand message can be conveyed within seconds! The key here is entertaining, because visitors have a short attention span and they won’t watch bad videos. Professionally produced videos give an air of credibility and class, as well as faster brand recall.

What makes an entertaining video? It has to be interesting, relevant and useful. Tell a story. Present a narrative. Quality graphics, animation, professional photography, scripts, and production can make most subjects entertaining, even one about logarithms.

  1. Email list

Email marketing is still the most cost-effective way to reach your target market. According to MarketingSherpa, over 60% of consumers are open to weekly promotional emails and 91% prefer email promotions to other forms of advertising.

It’s time to clean up your current email marketing list. It’s time to grow it throughout the year, adding the leads you receive via tradeshows, website inquiries, and sales leads. Don’t forget to include your weekly or monthly email newsletters in your content strategy.

Maybe in a Year or Two…

Augmented and virtual reality is being used more and more on mobile devices. Some of the biggest companies in the world, IKEA, Facebook and Apple, are using these advanced technologies to capture the attention of more consumers, which means they are making it more mainstream for other companies to follow. Maybe in a year or two, we’ll be talking about them as must haves, but for now, this is the year to really focus on some core, online best practices.

If you don’t know where to start with content strategy, shoot us an email and we can help.