When someone lands on your website, what is the first thing they think of? Hopefully, it’s “Wow! These guys look great! I’m going to use their services for sure!” But is that what they’re really thinking? Is your website representing you the way it should, or is it chasing potential customers away?
Your website is an important asset to your business, and you need to make sure it is doing what you want it to: showing you at your best angle and garnering positive interest from visitors. So how do you know what your website is saying about you? Here are some examples of what it MIGHT be saying… and how to fix it.
Ever wonder what the world’s worst website looks like? Wonder no more: www.theworldsworstwebsiteever.com
“I have no sense of organization.”
If you’ve ever visited a website, and upon arriving, had NO idea what you were supposed to be looking at or clicking on, you know what we’re talking about when we say “no sense of organization”. Just as you organize files, invoices, or piles of clean laundry, you need to organize your website. When a visitor arrives, they should immediately know what your business does and where to click next depending on their needs.
Having too much information crammed into the homepage makes it hard to understand or navigate. If you have a website for your pet supply business, you don’t need to list every single type of pet and pet product that you sell on your homepage… Let visitors know you are a pet product supplier with variety, then let them click the appropriate menu item to narrow down the information.
“I wanted a website, but I didn’t care enough to get a nice one.” Also, “I’m cheap.”
Of course we are all on a budget and don’t want to spend unnecessary amounts of money on anything. However, your website is important, and having a GOOD LOOKING website doesn’t have to bankrupt you. If you had the choice between the nice new store on the corner, or the store down the road that is falling down around itself because no one cared to pay for repairs, you would most likely choose the nice store. Why? Because you know the owner cares enough about their own business, which means they care about their customers as well.
Ok, we know this one’s not in English, but it’s bad for other reasons, too.
“I haven’t touched this thing in years.”
We all get busy, and sometimes we just don’t have time to update our website. However, you shouldn’t let it get TOO far behind. When you come across a website with information that is obviously several years old, you may wonder if the business is even open anymore, or if they are so technologically behind that they can’t update their site.
If you happen to be stuck in the situation where you have a website, but can’t update it unless you hire someone with a degree in web programming, you should seriously consider switching to a CMS (Content Management System). With a CMS, you can take control of your site and update it easily without knowing HTML or any other specialized skills. (Time for a shameless plug! We here at Bergey Creative Group have several great CMS options… give us a call: 215.256.4512)
“I don’t really know what I’m doing.”
Ah, yes… the website that screams, “Look I have a website but WHAT DO I DO WITH IT NOW?” Not everyone is super web savvy, but that’s what professionals are for. Make sure your website is created and setup by someone with good knowledge and skills to not only make it look pretty, but allow you to actually get good content in the site. If your website is sitting half finished, or looks like someone’s nephew took crack at it using Microsoft Paint, that looks bad to anyone who finds it.
“BUY BUY BUY!!”
Unless you enjoy pushy sales people when you go to the mall or shop for a car, you won’t enjoy a website that tries to shove products in your face either. Your website visitors really won’t like it, and chances are, they won’t come back. People usually want content and information before they will attempt a purchase, so you need to make sure your website offers information about your business and products, as well as easy access to the shopping area. Lead them to it gently, don’t push them!
One more really bad site example for you, just in case you haven’t had enough:
We could go on and on about different types of sites that aren’t particularly good, but we’ll stop here for now (maybe a part two in the future?). The main point we’re trying to make is that your business needs a site that is pleasing to the eye, easy to navigate, and keeps visitors engaged (as opposed to chasing them away).
If you need a website built or updated, we are here to help. We will happily take a look at what you have and what you need, and we can point you in the right direction for your business and budget. To start a conversation to discuss your website needs, call us at 215-256-4512 or use our contact form.
Regardless of whether you are a graphic designer or business executive, paying attention to what you are doing is imperative to success. The smallest mistake, even an innocent typo, can cost a lot of money and be cause for quite a bit of embarrassment. With the tools we have at hand, there are some mistakes that just shouldn’t ever happen.
1. THAT DOESN’T LOOK RIGHT
One way to avoid embarrassing mistakes that could follow you around and make you look more ridiculous than professional is to have someone else look at what you are doing. The more eyes, the better. This is especially important to graphic designers who may no longer be able to “see” things that aren’t right after staring at a project for too many days in a row.
For example, check out the accidentally conjoined father and daughter (click to view larger). There’s a whole slew of visual disasters here at PSD: PhotoShop Disasters.
2. SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK!
Considering how every program on a computer nowadays has some form of spell check built in, you should really take advantage of it. The “I’m not good with spelling/grammar” excuse no longer cuts it when all you have to do is run what you’ve typed through the spellchecker and voila! Something intelligible comes out on the other end.
Granted, the spell check function can only take you so far. It’s probably best to have someone decent at spelling and grammar take a look at any important documents… or body art…
See more body art fails here: http://ugliesttattoos.failblog.org
3. TRIPLE CHECK IT. NO, REALLY.
So you’ve run spell check, looked over everything, and had a friend look at it. Think you’re finished? You really might want to consider looking over everything one more time. Read your sentences backwards to catch spelling errors, look at photos extra carefully, go over the math using a calculator.
I mean, NASA is full of really smart people, but look what happened to the Mars orbiter when someone forgot to convert the feet over to meters (what happened was a $125 million piece of equipment missing its mark and presumably traveling into Mars’ atmosphere, where it burned up).
Moral of the story? Pay attention! You may be trying to impress a client, land a new job, or simply not screw up… attention to detail will help you avoid mistakes, impress the people who matter, and make clients grateful to have your eyes catching mistakes.
If you’ve ever tried to get a group of people together for a presentation, you know that it can often be as frustrating as herding cats. Sometimes, you just can’t meet your clients face to face, and sometimes, what you’re trying to show them isn’t very effective when you have a bunch of people crowded around one computer. In the case that you can’t get everyone in the same place at the same time, or you don’t have the equipment to make viewing your presentation comfortable for everyone, you will find that a webinar is a lifesaver.
However, having a webinar is much different than holding an in-person meeting. You’ll need to know how to use the webinar software, create an organized and well-designed webinar presentation, and engage your audience often… you won’t be able to look at your audience to see the confused look on their faces when you’ve lost them.
So how do you prepare an effective webinar? Well, first you need to get all your ducks in a row. What webinar software will you be using? Will your presentation be recorded and distributed? If your webinar needs to be designed, can you design it or do you need some outside help? Do you fully understand the topic you will be presenting so you can answer questions?
Once you have those details worked out, you can start putting together your webinar. Create an outline of what you will talk about, especially if you’re a rambler. You may want to mark down specific places within your outline where you can ask if your audience has any questions. Be sure to leave some time at the end for a designated question and answer session. If your presentation involves more than your audience watching your mouse moving around the screen in a software demonstration, make your design easy on the eyes, but visually interesting so your audience doesn’t get bored. Your best bet is to have a design agency put something together for your webinar, as that will ensure your webinar is as successful and professional as possible. You may want to consider avoiding adding animations (like those in slide programs) and videos, as they may cause issues. If your webinar is for a very large audience, bring in some extra people as moderators to handle chat comments and technical issues.
Most importantly: TEST your webinar! Do a trial run (or three) with someone who can act as a test audience to make sure the software is working as intended, the sound and video are working correctly, and you feel comfortable with what you are doing. Work out all the bugs as you get to know your webinar software and rehearse your presentation. Prepare yourself for technical problems DURING the webinar, as that is always a possibility.
As a design agency, we primarily use webinars for group meetings, software training, and the occasional client proposal. Others may hold webinars to sell a product, lecture on a subject, or a variety of other things. Regardless, the point of any meeting or webinar is to COMMUNICATE with clarity and purpose. Keep that in mind as you set-up your webinar, and it will be sure to be a success.
Color is an important part of our lives. Assuming you don’t see life in black and white, color is everywhere and affects people more than they may realize. There is even an entire field of study called “color psychology” that attempts to identify the effects of different colors on human emotions and activities. Chromotherapy is another interesting take on the effects of color, as it is a form of alternative medicine that is based on the hypothesis that certain colors can have health effects.
In design, color is a critical part of the creation process. Since color affects people’s emotions and perceptions, it is important that the right colors are chosen for every project. So how does a designer know what colors to choose? We pay close attention to color theory, which gives guidance to color mixing and the visual impacts of specific color combinations. We also pay attention to factors such as cultural associations such as national colors, holiday color combinations, etc.
Another important aspect in choosing colors for a project is paying attention to color trends. Knowing what colors and combinations are going to be big in the future helps a designer create something fresh and distinct. Here are the color predictions for 2011!
Benjamin Moore‘s seventh annual analysis predicts vintage wine as 2011′s Color of the Year. This color has been seen on runways in New York, Paris, and Milan. (Benjamin Moore releases annual color trend reports for architects and interior designers.)
ICI Dulux has named a citrus yellow as their “Colour of the year 2011″. This color symbolizes free spirit, fun, and positive energy. ICI Dulux is one of the world’s largest paint manufacturers with a prominent position in Malaysia’s decorative paint industry.
Pantone Color has chosen Honeysuckle as the “Color of the Year 2011″. This color is described as “courageous” and “confident”, which is an interesting reflection on 2010, a year of economic trouble and worries. Pantone LLC is a leading authority on color, with 45 years of experience providing professional products and services to design professionals.
In this day and age, everyone from the business down the road to your Aunt Marcy’s poodle has a website. If you have a business or service, but no website, you may want to consider jumping on to this particular bandwagon.
The good news is that you DON’T have to know how to build a website to have one. But wait, there’s more… you can keep it updated with new content all on your own! Updating your website can be as easy as using a toaster oven, which is quite honestly the easiest piece of kitchen equipment to use. In goes what you want on your website, and in just a few minutes, out comes your updated (and lightly toasted) website.
XChange is a CMS (Content Management System) that allows you to easily manage your website without any previous knowledge of web design. It’s flexible and easy to use, and your XChange site will be hand-crafted to custom fit your business. XChange doesn’t use templates, like other CMS systems such as Drupal and Joomla.
What is CMS?
CMS (Content Management System) is a software system that allows people with little web programming knowledge to author and manage a website’s content. You simply log in to your website’s CMS panel, update the content like you would a Word document with easy to use tools, then save and instantly see the changes show up on your website. Your website will always look professional and updated!
To find out more about XChange:
Download an informational PDF here.
Visit the site: http://bergeycreativegroup.com/pages/xchange/xchange-overview
Give us a call: 215-256-4512
Send an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a great video that showcases the problems with spec work in a more humorous way:
The creative industry has become increasingly important to economic well-being, and being part of the creative industry, Bergey Creative Group has a deep interest in keeping this industry healthy and growing.
However, there is a threat to all individuals working in the creative industry (and we aren’t just talking about recent economic troubles). Spec work and spec-based design contests are devaluing our industry and our professionals.
What is spec work?
Spec work is any work done on a speculative basis with no agreed upon contract, and therefore no guarantee of payment. Many clients think of it as a “try before you buy” approach, and it usually ends with a designer not being paid for the work they’ve done. An example of a big spec work offender would be design contests. Someone posts what they are looking to have done on a website, a bunch of designers put time and effort into creating a solution, but only one designer walks away with any compensation for their time.
Some businesses use spec work as a method of hiring, which is unethical and unfair to the creative industry professionals looking for a job. The hiring business will ask the potential hires to create and submit a project as a sort of “test” before choosing their new employee. The result is a lot of designers not getting paid for services that took a lot of time, effort, and knowledge, and there is no guarantee that any of them will be hired.
So how can a business go about hiring a creative professional without knowing what they are getting beforehand?
That is what a portfolio and an interview are for. Any designer or creative individual worth your time will have a portfolio of their work put together so you can see their abilities before investing your time in them. The end result? You get a creative professional that fits the bill, and the other interviewees walk away without losing anything but perhaps an hour of their time.
Just think, you wouldn’t ask a carpenter to start building a house for you, but if you decide you don’t like it, you don’t pay for the work they’ve done. You wouldn’t go to a restaurant and ask to sample a few entrees and only pay for it if you liked something. So why would you ask a designer to take the time and expertise that they possess to create a solution to your problem, and then not pay them for the work because you’ve decided you don’t like it? Looking at their portfolio beforehand let’s you know what they are capable of, agreeing on a contract guarantees that both you and the designer will fulfill your end of the deal, and you develop a client/designer relationship that can benefit you again in the future.