What Makes a Good Web Site Design?

Several clients here at SmARTful Solutions By George! have asked us this question, and it is useful information that we think should be available to everyone. Answers are as plentiful as there are differing needs of various individual entities. But whether you need a simple web presence marker, or a complex multi-functional site, there are some aspects that should be present on all sites. Here are a dozen important ones.

 

  1. A good web site is well organized.

Make it easy for your clients to find the information they need. Menus should be quick to find and read; data should be grouped and prioritized in a logical manner. We are sticklers for consistency in format and logical progression through information; we are dedicated to proper grammar within an appropriate style; and we are obsessive about spelling and general usage, in order to inspire the desired confidence in all of your (potential) customers. Your goals, and the volume and detail of information that will be helpful to your clients, should always be guiding factors in the creation of paragraphs, lists, info boxes, separate pages, and various visual elements throughout your site.

Make it easy for your clients to find the information they need.

 

  1. A good web site is attractive.

Sample bar graph for illustrative purposes by SmARTful Solutions By George, LLC and owner L. Eilee S. GeorgeThere are a lot of boring sites out there. They look like they were designed in the early nineties by someone with no taste…don’t be that guy. Stimulate your clients with sexy product photography; engage their minds with an infographic; appeal to their practicality with a bar graph of statistical reasons why they want what you’ve got. Have a background or illustrations that enhance your company mission, or a visual metaphor to the intricate detail or the solid dependability of your product or service. We utilize color psychology as well as color theory to enhance emotional response while still facilitating legibility and retention. A site can be informative and beautiful – give ’em some eye candy!

 

  1. A good web site has functioning links and is updated regularly.

Cell phone with alert to webmaster that an update is required, © 2017 Linda "Eilee" S. George for SmARTful Solutions By George, LLCIf it’s broke, fix it. A site full of broken links is like a dilapidated old building, broadcasting neglect and apathy – precisely not the message you want to send to your clients! With a lack of updating, a companion pattern to that is vulnerability to spam, viruses, and unwelcome site seizure as a mule for those with evil agendas. However, with regular maintenance, site function stays running smoothly from the hammering threat of spammers and hackers (who exploit outdated platforms and plugins that create unsafe back doors to your site). Don’t let it be ripped from your control by cyber-piracy, very possibly ruining your reputation. Sure, visitors may not notice how great everything works on your site – because they take it for granted that it should – but they will take very immediate and damaging note of anything wrong on it! Don’t let them. SmARTful Solutions By George sets up alerts for any needed updates so we can address them quickly, before they become problems.

 

  1. A good web site has adequate info about the entity to entice clients to investigate further.

Image of branding for client Nekadam Skin Care done by Linda "Eilee" S. George and SmARTful Solutions By George, LLC; screen capture shows a well-populated menu and evidence of a blog.This is your hook, baby. Your web site is the most customizable place on the net for you to really shine. Unlike social media, you aren’t censored and limited to certain prescribed sizes, shapes and numbers of icons, logos, images, banners, usage, articles, blurbs, or pages. Take advantage of this with a full-throttle branding experience. Make your print and your web materials echo and compliment each other for maximum impact. You don’t have to put it all out there – but you can. You can even layer the depths of basic-to-detailed information, in order to accommodate both quick surfers and diggers. Your front page can give a teaser and we can link to a page with “more”, or even a well-developed Company Line Page showing all your products, services, vendors, affiliations or whatever, to best exhibit your credibility and versatility. Some folks just want your contact information, your hours, and a contact form – and we make sure they find it.

Respect visitors’ time: layer the depths of basic-to-detailed information, in order to accommodate both surfers and diggers.

 

  1. A good web site has accurate and current contact information and means to make contact.

sample contact form for a web site illustrating being available to one's clientele, customized from Contact Form 7 by SmARTful Solutions By George, LLC and Linda "Eilee" S. George

With so much bad information and “fake news” out there, more than ever people need to rely on what they read on your site. Be the expert you are and help people by offering a little free information to pull them in, and by all means, keep your contact information accurate at all times, update your product lines and services, and eliminate information that is no longer valid. This conscientiousness conveys to your clients that you will extend the same level of care to them. Be sure to test your contact forms regularly!

 

  1. A good web site has visual aids and relevant information.

Sample pie chart for illustrative purposes by SmARTful Solutions By George, LLC and owner L. Eilee S. George

Too much text body is nap inducing. Break it up with illustrations, graphs, diagrams; even bulleted lists to help compartmentalize and solidify relevant information in the minds of your audience. It holds attention and communicates more clearly. Images should be clear (not blurred or pixelated), and photographs should be well lit and well composed. A picture is worth a thousand words (but words help your SEO or search engine optimization for traffic). Bringing us to….

 

  1. A good web site has integrated SEO to help people find you.

We know how to use keywords to your advantage and to anticipate how people type into search engines what they’re looking for so that your site comes up as an answer. We don’t just use keywords in plugin forms; we work them into the copywriting and into the metadata for images, graphs and animations. Search engines love our sites!

 

  1. A good web site is customized to stand out from competitors uniquely.

You have something unique to offer. You’re bigger, or better, or more compact; more personable, give more customized customer service, have better quality products – or whatever applies to you. Let your clients know it! And let your design show it. Good branding goes across all of your materials and venues that come in contact with the public, making a consistent, instantly recognizable, and trusted emblem that has every nuance of every output in tune with it to reinforce clients’ (and potential clients’) knowledge of just what you represent.

Keep your branding consistent across all platforms to avoid a reputation-crippling identity crisis.

 

  1. A good web site has personality, but doesn’t get too personal.

Web sites can be fun, but crossing certain lines can alienate a large segment of customers that might have been. Getting off topic on your site about personal matters or hot-button topics may make someone wonder if there are any professionals to be had. Conversely, giving people no information about you at all stirs up suspicion and questions about what you’re hiding – your identity, your (lack of) knowledge or experience – their minds will naturally run to the most negative place. So let your personality shine through a mission statement and some company history on your About page, and it will build trust with people who want to know just who they’re considering dealing with.

Let your personality shine through a mission statement and some company history on your ABOUT page, and it will build trust with people who want to know just who they’re considering dealing with.

 

  1. A good web site gains the confidence of its audience.

Most Awesome Amazing Whoop Whoop Hubba Hubba facecious award example by L. Eilee S. George of SmARTful Solutions By George, LLCEven a few how-to articles or reviews of pertinent products in your lineup can establish your credibility in your field. Your web site is the perfect place to showcase your expertise and why your clients should trust you over the rest. Announce your awards and accolades; display user testimonies, and reveal what you’re doing to contribute to your sector and your community.

 

  1. A good web site utilizes restraint.

Editing is good. Information overload, without purpose, without breaking it down, overwhelms visitors and is nearly as bad as not enough information. Fancy fonts are pointless if people can’t read what you wrote, or they’re so obscure the browser doesn’t display them correctly. Body text should always be legible, and “standard” fonts are just that because they’re easy to read. Bells and whistles, as fun as they are and as useful as some can be to hold short attention spans, can be cluttered and distracting in a bad way if too many are used. Unless you’re selling antiques for a Victorian parlor room, don’t clutter your site like one, or your objective will get lost in the shuffle.

Give the client enough reasons to come to you, but leave something wonderful for them to discover once they’re there.

 

  1. A good web site is good, but a great one is better.

Despite the fact that there are many horrible web sites out there with ugly designs, broken links, outdated or just plain wrong information, or nefarious aims, almost anyone can have a “good” web site. But it takes the magic touch of a talented, conscientious designer to make a web site “great”. Stock images are fine – but we search to make sure they’re not overused. If you need unique images, our photography services can provide you with one-of-a-kind original works. Lists are great, but unless they’re organized in a sensible way with some visual eye-candy or helpful illustrations, they can lull a visitor to sleep – or to that “X” in the top corner. Copywriting can be purely functional or it can be fun, educational or edgy. Which do you think holds attention better? Which will be consistent with who you are, what you offer, and what you stand for? Does it coordinate with all your social media accounts and printed collateral and promotional material? We take all that into consideration through consultations with you about what your goals are and who your target audience is. We find a way to translate those facets into a visual essence that influences the viewer in a positive yet subtly unconscious way. We can add those little “extras” like favicons, specialty pages, clever customizations, and an injection of wit that can make you stand apart from the pack.

Stand out. Be unique. Show them why you’re the difference they’ve been looking for!

The internet is forever – think about what you put there before it’s too late – damage control is taxing on time and money. Do it right the first time! I invite you to get started today by contacting our experts to help you find the best way to let your clients know why you and your organization are destined to be theirconnection”. Click HERE to contact us now.

Happy Sales,

 

– L. Eilee George, SmARTful Solutions By George, LLC

 

 

 

 

 

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The KISS Rule in Graphic Design

Today I will focus on the KISS rule in advertising versus visual over-stimulation and subsequent flight, and will explain why designers embrace it. Remember – it is communication, and you don’t have much time to get it across in an ad.

For those who aren’t already familiar with it, the KISS rule is: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

I can see the KISS rule at work in every successful promotion I have ever witnessed. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a magazine, on a television spot, or an online banner ad. Simple graphics and copywriting stand out better and get the job done.

This is a hot topic in my household, as both my husband and I design graphic layouts for others. Principles so basic and simple to us often escape those outside our own industry, and when working with them to market their products or services, we only wish for these folks to get better results. But occasionally we run into clients that do not listen to good advice and doggedly insist on their own romantic preconception, and then they wonder why it doesn’t yield the outcomes they want. What one finds pretty or a rare campaign that seems to work for another company very well may not work for yours or anyone else’s. Today I address any individuals or businesses that wish to advertise their talents, services or wares, in any printed form.

Many individual elements can impact the success of an ad, announcement or résumé. Size, colors, how much of which information in what fonts and arrangements, images, appropriateness of the publication or other vehicle to the client’s industry and demographics, placement within the publication and timing all figure in, as well as many other factors. Most people understand that bright colors, in general, jump out at someone and draw the eye. Some comprehend that large type gets attention. Very few understand that a decent offer will draw in customers; they’re often too “conservative” to consider that 10% is a lousy discount – their clients aren’t that foolish and know they can go to the competitor for a better deal – and they will. Even fewer understand color psychology. And tragically, almost nobody seems to understand the concept of information overload, or that any of the above examples only work in certain strategically appropriate contexts.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If your ad is in a book full of ads, where all of them feature bright colors, and your own ad is like a carnival of pre-school primary hue, it’s overwhelming, and no one can even really see it anymore (not to mention that too much white or too many bright colors tend to look cheap if not childish). Bear in mind that overstimulation can make people glaze over. Think of the volume of signage in certain big-box stores; it’s too much to process and your brain goes blank. This is why you often see random people in these box stores wandering aimlessly like zombies. It’s the same with your print ad. Too much color, too many pictures, and/or too much verbiage and it assaults the eyes, and then for rest, your intended potential customers turn the page – this is not what you want!

If everyone is doing the same thing, how are you to stand out? If you have everything in large bold type, how can anyone figure out how to prioritize the information and know which information is the most important? If you have ten offers on an ad that’s only the size of a dollar bill, how small does that print have to be? Can anyone read it, even if the registration is perfect? The printer doesn’t always live up to the designer’s expectations; leave a little room in your font choice for overcoming registration issues; know that these printer problems are out of the designer’s control.

Do not attempt to list every single thing you peddle on your ad. There isn’t room; it looks cluttered and ugly. It’s too much to read – and you need to demonstrate more respect for the time of your potential customer – many flip through magazines, circulars and coupon books with alarming speed, and you have mere seconds to make an impression and hook them – just like HR reps do with résumés. The wee font size necessary to accommodate such information overload will be too small, and essentially be wasted gibberish. Listing, or even seemingly listing, every thing that you offer leaves nothing for the imagination – which can work against you as much as for you. Think: at least if they don‘t know that you don’t have x or y and come looking for it, they can serendipitously discover z and still become a happy customer. But if you listed everything and they saw beforehand that you didn’t have x or y, they might not have come at all, and you would have missed that sale of the z that they didn’t even know that they wanted yet. Remember that it’s an ad, not an article or book. You have very little time to make a meaningful impression. So provide contact information, and only highlights and teasers; don’t put it all out on display like it’s a red light district. And leave some things unspoken in this ad that you will instead include in the next one, to keep your series of promotions fresh and engaging, as well as giving an unconscious cue to customers that business is doing well, and there’s a reason – and they will want to discover what that reason is.

More subdued, sophisticated palettes lend class to an advert. Bullet points and info boxes help to organize important information for easier comprehension. Spaces between and around information eases readability. Don’t forget your address, phone number and web site address! If you don’t have a web site, get one: not everyone is on social media, and if people want more complete information, your web site can present it in an organized, comprehensive, attractive, custom-tailored and professional manner, in a format over which you have the ultimate control.

Consider your audience and the venue. A large segment of the general population needs eye correction, and especially older demographics. Does your ad accommodate that reality? What size is the substrate on which it will be printed, how far away will that ad be physically from your target audience, and what are these viewers engaged in as they look at it? Is your message plastered on the side of a moving bus? Better make sure you condense your information into something someone can read in one to four seconds. Make it easy and memorable for them. Make your pictures do the talking in an instant. Is your ad on a billboard on a busy highway? The same rules apply here as for the bus, with even larger letters and fewer words. Is it the ever-present banner ad? People are becoming blind to them; make them different, impactful and perhaps add an animated GIF element.

Poorly executed ads are like anti-advertising. Most potential customers will judge how much you don’t care about your business, and by extension your customers, by how sloppy your ad is. If it’s perfect, they won’t give you a gold star – it’s supposed to be right – they’ll just show up, that’s all. But that’s certainly preferable to the alternative.

If you provide images for your ad, ensure that they are high-quality enough to reproduce well – don’t expect enlargements from small images to look like anything but pixelated dead weight. If you don’t have decent images, pay for them – we will not facilitate any form of copyright infringement, and that’s to protect both your legal backside and our professional reputation. Unique images make your site look far more impressive anyway. Again, look like you care, or it’s counter-productive. And also, make images relevant, not just cut-and-paste clutter. If you sell tires and it’s December, think whether sticking an image of holly leaves on the ad is really going to get someone in the Christmas spirit to buy tires, or if it’s just going to look absurd (hint: it’s going to look absurd – and take up valuable space that something useful could have occupied).

Do not ask your artist to crowd every square millimeter with content. Give the customer’s eye a place to rest and digest the very important information that absolutely must be there. Give them an ad that’s considerate of their time, their wallet, and their eyes.

When designers tell you it’s a bad idea to put skinny medium-tone type over a busy picture, listen to them. They know what they’re talking about. (It’s pointless to do such a thing because nobody can read it anyway.) When a professional designer tells or suggests anything, take it into serious consideration. If you don’t see the logic in it, ask them and they will be glad to explain their reasoning. If that still isn’t in line with your purpose, then discuss your mission further with them to find a solution. You’re partners seeking a common goal now, and communication is key.

The designer is trying to get you good return for your investment. Creativity is great, but not when form eclipses function. The number one function in advertising is communication, and you should never hinder that. Your designer has every reason to try to give you the best ad you can get, in a balance of utilitarian and aesthetic solutions. Their motivation in giving you the best advice is good both for you and for them. Ultimately, if you make more money, they make more money, because the ad worked, and you’ll advertise more. But if you refuse their advice and your ad stinks and the customers don’t come after running a few issues (time for customers to leisurely get around to seeing your ad), you may have only yourself to blame if you shirked good advice.

And for heaven’s sake, carefully look over the proofs you’re sent for accuracy – in your contact info, your offer, and in spelling. Study it thoroughly and make all your correction notes at the same time and return it promptly; they are trying to finish the job in a timely manner but they do have other clients who deserve the same. Do not force multiple change orders, or costly fees for reducing their limited time to a premium commodity by your shifting the ratio of supply-and-demand will justifiably result. You are partnered with the artist, but they are tied to what you approve, and to a finite number of hours in a day.

Designers have typically gone through years of training in typography, aesthetics, composition, marketing technique, color theory, specialized software instruction, branding, and other relevant topics and media to enable them to present a cohesive approach to composing communication that works. In an age where Photoshop is nearly ubiquitous, those who haven’t earned degrees and compiled years of experience doing this sort of thing should remember that not every enthusiast who can run a photo through a filter in an editing program is a qualified artist. Professional designers can also advise you on logos, consistent branding (or adhere to an existing brand if it is successful), and keep you from the pitfalls of running assorted disjointed campaigns that confuse your clientele or muddy your reputation. Branding is important – and complexly sensitive – so this professional can be a treasured resource.

Your designer in most cases works with, or has worked with, many other clients and found advertising solutions for them that work. The designer is a professional who knows his or her field and takes into consideration the current market and economy and notices trends among all their clients (and others’ clients) as to what is getting results in real time. Sure, we all have our own preconceived notions of what we have seen and liked, but these things may not be appropriate for our particular situations. Make realistic goals and convey your desires to the sales rep and artists…and then trust them to know how to execute their jobs within your needs – it is best to leave the actual designing to the design team. And except in special, rare instances where it is an appropriate strategy, any design team will recommend Keeping It Simple, Successfully. KISS!  

(Mwaah.)

 

– The SSbG Team

 

 

We create one-of-a-kind work that showcases one-of-a-kind YOU.

 

BUSINESS HOURS: 10am-7pm Monday-Thursday (holidays excepted) and by appointment.

Closed Fridays, Weekends, and Federal and Christian Holidays for special events, classes, seminars and personal time. Email anytime via the Contact page; we will get back to you in a reasonable time, but please be professional and respectful and do not call or text outside of business hours.

All work outside of posted business hours will be billed at twice the normal hourly rate. Please plan accordingly and don’t procrastinate, in order to avoid this.

 

 

For samples of our policies, please visit our Policy page.

 

 

 

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