Top 7 Small business web design mistakes.

A user-friendly website is your most powerful tool for your marketing efforts when you’re a small business owner. And a large part of this is making sure that users landing on your website have all of their questions answered in regards to your product(s)/service(s). If it’s designed wrong, you will be missing out on sales opportunities and a loss of revenue.

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Why does user experience matter in website design?

UX critically affects the success or failure of your website. If the user finds the website intuitive to navigate and the content easy to digest, it will positively assist your marketing efforts. If not, well…

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Colour theory and its emotional associations.

Being able to settle on a single colour for a design is a difficult task. Hopefully, you will have a better understanding of how colours affect our emotional response after reading this article.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have an in-depth psychological relationship with colours; it influences our emotions and behaviors. For example, sports team would alter the away team's locker room colours to directly affect them psychologically. And basic colour psychology is used by businesses to increase productivity with workers or encourage shoppers to spend more money.

As you can see, we use colours to stimulate emotional responses. But it should be noted there is no universal truth. Different cultures view colours in different ways and might respond differently to certain colours than another culture. Also, personal experience alters emotions pertaining to a specific colour. Regardless of this, what's important to understand is colours affect us and evoke specific responses. All we need to do is be mindful of which cultural and personal context we're working in.

Perception of temperature: By painting a room with specific colours you can alter their perception of the temperature. Using green and blues you can create a space that appears to be cooler, whereas by painting a room red or orange it has the opposite effect.

Acceptance: In the past, we have all been able to look up to the sky on a clear day and see the colour blue. We often associate blue with being good. It is one of the easiest colours to utilize to appeal to the majority of people.

Reduce analytical thinking: The colour red reduces how effective we think. You may already be aware of the fact when people wear the colour red we find them more attractive. Maybe that's due to red hindering mental focus. Also, athletes lose more often to an apposing team that wears red. ... And students exposed to the colour red before taking a test are likely to have lower scores.

Value: We often associate the colour orange with good value. Brands such as Amazon and Home Depot have incorporated the use of orange to influence our emotional perception to assist our response as a low cost supplier of costly goods.

Spark Creativity: The use of green has been linked with creative thinking, and we often associate green with growth and positivity. This most likely lends itself to spring, when the trees and plants start to grow and flourish. If you are looking to increase productivity in the workplace, you consider using the colour green around the office.

Calm down: We associate the colour pink as calming or draining of energy. Some sports teams in the past have painted the visitors locker room pink in order to lower the mental state before heading out onto the field.

Research has provided us with data that colours directly effect our emotions. Just remember there is no universal rule that says colours will affect us all the same way, but it may just provide you the home team advantage.

Below is a colour guide of existing brands and their associative colours.

Are you taking advantage of colours in your branding?

What is UX / user experience?

The UX or the user experience is how a person’s attitude and emotions relates to a product or system.

The context for understanding where the UX / user experience fits in.

In recent years there's been extremely high competition in how people interact with computer applications, mobile apps and web development. And due to high competition, developers focus extensively on how to maximize our experience with the software with the least amount of effort on the users part. The ultimate goal is to ensure that product meets the following metrics listed below. Now, keep in mind, the following list operates on a sliding scale for each separate person rather than a yes or no checkbox.

The main factors outlining UX.

Purpose: Does the system fulfill a purpose? This may sound ridiculous, but, keep this mind: just because it's useful to one person, does not mean its useful to another.

Usability: The ease or complexity to use a system. Try to ensure anyone who uses the system can do so with little to no effort.

Availability: Does the system allow for non-conventional variables, such as accommodating persons with disabilities.

Desirability: The overall design and aesthetics of the system needs to be pleasing to help evoke appreciation and emotions. One example of this is how car companies change and update models every year. The goal is to have its users fall in love with the overall design, function and just about every aspect of the vehicle, including the brand behind it.

Brand Authority: The system has or evokes trust within the system. In order to offer a system that people can trust, the company behind it has needs to be to hold high standards and ethics people stand behind.

Accessibility: It needs to be easy to find and use the given system. Having a great product or service is a start, but people need to be able to find and access it. Also, is it easy to purchase?

Once all the of the main factors have been carefully considered, and you have your product or service in hand, it's time to test everything out and carefully evaluate the metrics you receive. When it comes to web development, it's often easily done with website metrics as you can track almost everything regarding a website from the amount of traffic to a landing page to where they came from, to what they searched to find you. Then, after looking at the data you've collected, you begin making alterations and tweak your efforts to produce the optimal results.

Why is logo design important?
First impressions count:

Whenever I sit down to have a first meeting with a new or potential client, the saying,you never get a second chance to make a first impression, pops up in my mind. Deep down I feel most people understand that on some days we're simply not at our best. But when it comes to business, I feel people aren't as forgiving with their first impressions. I think it's because we don't really have any time to waste. We want to make sure that when we hire a business to solve our problems, it needs to be done right the first time, so, we take our first impression of someone and almost imagine that it was the first task we assigned them -- did they pass, or did they fail?

And that's why I think businesses need to have their shit together so people will have more faith in the idea that they'll get it done right the first time.

You might be asking yourself what does this have to do with logo's?

If you are, here's a straight forward answer: everything.

A logo design provides an instant visual representation.

A professionally designed logo allow us to instantly recognize a business as fast as we can recognize a friend’s face in a crowd of people. So, it's best to make sure you invest in a high-quality logo because it's going to be around for awhile -- 5, 10, even 20+ years for many businesses.

A logo is the Foundation of your brand.

A logo speaks to its target market. When you look at logo design, you take a peek behind the curtains and get a glimpse into what type of business they are. If you like the design, odds are you're their target audience. If they like the design of your logo, odds are they're your target audience too.

A recognizable logo cultivates brand loyalty.

Every time you see a business’ logo, our brains temporal lobe is activated. Our temporal lobe is responsible for the our ability to recognize everything in our world such as faces, objects, etc. Each time we recognize something, dopamine is released. Dopamine's a chemical our body produces as a natural reward system of positive stimuli. This means that each time your business’ logo is seen and is linked with a positive experience people “feel-good”, which is a driving factor in brand loyalty.

The bar is already been set.

People estimate that people are exposed to somewhere between 4,000 to 10,000 ads every day. Our new normal is design centric businesses who communicate with us daily with high-end, custom designed advertisements. In order to stand a chance in making an impression in the minds of the public, your design has to be amazing.

How to know when to update your logo design.

There are many reasons why you need to consider updating your business' logo design. Here are a few reasons that we think are important.

The first reason you want to consider updating your logo: your business has grown.

When your business started, it was young and new to the market place. Years have gone by, and you can see the blood, sweat, and tears it took to get where you are today. Now, looking back, you can see how much your business had shifted over the years to be as successful as it is.

Ask yourself this: does your logo represent what your business has shifted too? If your answer is no, it's time to start thinking about hiring an experienced logo designer.

The second reason you want to consider updating your logo: your market has changed.

We can often lose sight of our business' target audience. The market shifts, interests change, and some companies are left behind. Sometimes, when the market shifts the logo and the brand it represents are no longer in-line with each other. Here's another way of saying it: when the next generation of buyers look at your brand, does it still convey the same authority and trust in the industry that it always had? If not, it's time to consider a new logo design. A logo design that will recapture the new audiences while maintaining your brand's values.

The third reason you want to consider updating your logo: the logo design is outdated.

Just like everything else, a logo design can become outdated too. Now, a logo redesign can be expensive. However, the redesign can reset you ahead of your competition because they're too stuck in their ways to consider change, or it can help you keep up with other people willing to shift and change with the times. We understand that a logo is personal. But business' successfully reinvent themselves all the time. Many times, it breathes no life into the brand's image.

The fourth reason you want to consider updating your logo: your logo is DIY.

Some companies are bootstrapped together from $100 cash and a bit of wiggle room on a credit card. People are always trying to save money wherever they can, so, this is completely understandable. When people save money by designing their own logo, they risk missing the subtle influencing factors that professional designers put into a logo's design. This isn't to say a self-designed logo doesn't look right, but it might not be built properly. Your logo design needs to reflect the logo where your business is. Make sure your logo isn’t holding your business back.

The fifth reason you want to consider updating your logo: your logo has lost an edge over the competition.

This has something in common with reason three. Businesses are popping up and shutting down every day. The marketplace is constantly shifting. And everyone is using every imaginable tool to create a competitive advantage because of it. Ensure your business maintains that cutting edge and never let your competition outshine your business.

You've probably heard this before, but, maintaining your competitive edge never goes away. Knowing and understanding your market place provides you with a massive advantage. Just make sure you update the face of the business once in a while when the market calls for it.

Reach out to us if you're considering a new or updated logo design. We offer free consultations.

We've helped hundreds of clients over the years to find the perfect logo for them for where they are at right now. Just fill out the form below or call us.

Brand consistency, a few tips.

The first rule of building a successful brand is to create a unique design style that helps distinguish a company's products or services from its competitors. There’s a second, crucial rule: never change your brand’s style until it’s absolutely necessary.

Brand consistency is an important rule of brand management

The single most important rule of branding is consistency. Now, having a great logo helps, but it's more critical to ensure your brand is consistent across all of its mediums.

Every time someone views your brand, e.g., on a business card, website, or billboard, their brain locks it in to their mind. Repeated exposure to it (website, business card, etc.) makes it increasingly more recognizable. And this is only possible when your brand’s colours, style and tone are consistent across every medium you use. Once your brand is recognizable through constant exposure, and you have a great product or service, then your brand identity nets you an ROI through the trust and loyalty it’s developed.

Stop using a different brand identity on every medium

Here’s the problem I often see with businesses: each design medium looks different from the next. The business card style look different from the website, which also looks different from signage on the door. Each advertisement changes from advertisement to advertisement, and sales collateral looks like it’s mashed together.

So how do you maintain I brand consistency?

Create a set of brand guidelines: Create a set of rules that can be used as a guide when designing anything. This should include the use of your logo size, placement, space around it. The colours that will be used, the fonts, and sizing on each platform. Also, ensure the images you choose match and complement everything.

Designate a brand manager: Place someone in charge of policing your brand identity by following the rules of the brand guideline. Allow them to maintain control of your brand’s consistency and provide them with the power to make changes when necessary.

Partner with a single design agency: This is like having a brand manager working for you without having to put someone in charge. It becomes a relationship where the designers know what your expectations are and how to maintain your standards. You will end up saving money overall because each design for your brand will become second nature to them.

Last thing: Maintaining your brand extends past its design. You need to use the same language online, in print and in person. Right down to the culture of the business. The more effort you put into maintaining your brand consistency, the more you will see a return on your investment.

Web site landing pages. A short brief.

A landing page is what we call a person’s initial point of entry onto your web site. And this initial point of entry is extremely important to online advertisers who are interested in tracking and reporting their successes to their clients. For advertisers, the landing page needs to create enough interest to convince the user to take a specific action. The action depends on desired outcome, and each landing page is carefully designed to motivate the desired result.

Here are a few different kinds of landing pages which bring about different kinds of results.

Lead capture landing pages:The sole purpose of this kind of landing page is to create or compile a list of potential clients that are looking for your products or services. Often referred to as a sales funnel, this kind of landing page uses permission-based marketing to incrementally lead up to the big ask, i.e., asking the person to make a purchase. The most common delivery tactic is to offer some free information, like an audio file, eBook, etc., and asking for their email. Once the person has entered their email address, they can download the free information which sets off a series of emails over the next few weeks offering more free information. This slow-drip of information builds trust and familiarity with the brand. This is important because the person is eventually notified of a big promotional offer (the big ask), and the they need that trust and familiarity to motivate the sale.

Mircosites: A microsite is a small website often used by massive campaigns outlining a product/service offering. Even though the microsite is built up with more than a single landing page, the entire goal of the web site is to provide enough data and content designed to promote one unique offer. Some example web sites are new car promotions, a movie, and a new spin-off product in an already existing brand. One useful feature of microsites is that they can be used to determine if there is enough interest from a given audience, and data that a marketer can use to refine the style and content of the site to generate the best outcome for the advertising campaign.

Product / Service Page: A product or service page is designed with the sole purpose to provide you, the user, with information about a product or service. This can be designed as a carefully lead sales pitch, or a as a brochure. But the goal, whatever the design, is to create a compelling, quality report that outlines all the details, benefits, and values of your offer. You’ll hopefully see the sales pitch aside high-quality photos to keep the prospect focused and to fill in what would take too long to say in words. Other aspects will include guarantees, employee testimonials or client reviews showcasing how amazing you and your products and services are.

So, would a landing page be beneficial to you?

Are free logo designs worth it?

Many business owners ask themselves if a free logo design is better than a paid one. This short article will provide you with some information to help you make a more educated decision.

The first thing you realize when you're starting a new business is that costs add up quickly. So, with a limited amount of money to invest into your business, the first instinct is to minimize costs in as many areas as possible until the business' cash flow increases. This is often where the concept of a free or cheap logo designs becomes very tempting. But, after reading this, you may find that spending money upfront is cheaper overall.

Here are a few ways people have their logo designed.

Online Logo Generator: An online logo generator's a simple mix-and-match tool that allows you to sort out a variety of clip art icons and font choices. While the overall effect may be pleasing aesthetically, you don't actually own your design due to copyright laws that favor the logo designer over the logo buyer.

The online logo generator is actually a sales tool designed to entice you to purchase business cards, stationery, etc. The business behind the generator benefits the person who owns the elements of the design. Part of that business involves creating so many options that the odds of someone choosing the same parts and ending up with a similar logo as someone else is considered a coincidence. Although your local competitor can legally select the specific options, you are the one who decided to run with that logo.

Design Contests: Now, while logo design contests aren't necessarily free, they are often low-cost. So, it's worth mentioning. These are plenty of websites that allow you to create a general outline of your business and design goal. Designers then get together and square off, competing with each other to create a logo based on the information you've provided. Only the selected logo designer gets paid at the end. You do get to choose through many designs and styles, and sometimes you can even make a request to alter the design to better suit you.

Almost sounds too good to be true, right?

That's because it is.

One problem is that contests hurt designers because only one person receives payment when the design is chosen. So, designers instead end up submitting as many logo variations as possible. In order to submit that many entries daily, designers don't have time to sit down and create a logo specifically for your business'. Instead, they use clip-art libraries to create that logo design. This is similar to how an online logo generator works, and the same problem arises with buying clip art: You don't actually get to own your logo or icon design, just the rights to use the clip art in a limited way. In fact, anyone who wants to purchase and use the same clip-art logo you selected legally can.

Using a Student: Every once in awhile someone mentions to me that they're looking to hire a student to create their logo because they're often cheaper or willing to work for free, and this is usually the rational to justify using the student in the first place. They do this by by citing part of the Nike Logo Swoosh story to me.

Here's how it goes: Nike hired a student to create their logo and paid them around $35 for it. Logically, Nike is MASSIVE, and they didn't need to spend a lot of money on their logo.

Right?

Well, let's take an closer look at this: Nike paid $35 in 1971. Which is roughly, $270ca today. They also provided the designer with 500 shares in the company, which has since split to 32000'ish+ shares.

That's definitely not cheap. And most business' aren't very interested in providing designers with shares in their company to offset costs on their logo design.

Summary

There are several ways to create a free to low-cost logo design, but the caveat is that you never really own the design -- it's just borrowed.

If you are interested in owning the intellectual property of the logo design, then its in your best interest to hire us because we provide you with intellectual property rights.

And if you're interested in hire another designer, make sure that they're not selling you clip-art that you'll never truly own.

What illustration are in relation to your business

An illustration becomes a part of the business' brand image when it's used on it's media, like it's logo, brochure and business cards. Illustrations are used in advertising because they convey an instantly recognizable message. You can set the mood, tone, and style in one glance.

Illustrations, sketches, drawings, photographs and paintings: Any image representing something is another word for illustration: sketches, drawings, photographs, paintings. The only substantial difference between them is the format it's displayed on (web, paper, car wrap). And in today's world where artists are more technocratic, the format is less critical. But, at the end of the day, the aim of an illustration is still the same: to send a message.

Where you'll find illustrations: You'll find illustrations everywhere: publishing, transaction printing, images on blogs, business cards, internet memes .. you name it, it likely has an illustration associated with it.

Illustrations and graphic design: In graphic design, the illustrations should be created in a format that's easily outputted to a printer at the correct resolution. If the format isn't correct, it usually requires that the artwork is redesigned from scratch to ensure the printer prints it out correctly.

Digital Artists designing for business often use vector or raster image files.

Digital artists can create files in either Raster or Vector images file types. The final output dictates which file type is used. This is why most corporate illustrations are created with Vector: vector lacks pixels. A vector graphic design is entirely created from multiple points on a graph. These kinds of illustrations are freely scaled up or down without loss any of detail. The benefit here is that the company isn't bound to single-use designs, which mean they can reuse their designs over many different mediums and channels without having to recreate the image each and every time.

A short comment on custom illustrations: One fantastic way to visually define your business is through custom a illustration. By developing a unique style and voice through illustrations, you bring out what's unique about your company. And this will help you attract the kind of customers who are interested in your product.