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First Impressions

January 25, 2017

In today’s world, your website, whether it’s being viewed on a mobile device or a computer, functions as the brochure, flyer, business card, billboard and face of your company – all wrapped up together.  And you, via your website, have only seven (7) seconds1 to make that critical first impression a great one.  And you must reinforce that positive experience throughout the user’s exploration of your website – or you’ll lose that potential customer.  So what makes up a great website design?  Let alone the actual web development?

Let’s start with the web design.  There are five key components to a great web design:

  • Design
  • Responsive and mobile strategy
  • Call to action
  • Social and digital marketing
  • SEO

Each one must work with the others, supporting an integrated experience for the user.

Design

The best website design will speak your customer’s language, while conveying your brand and message and connecting with each customer individually.  It should answer your customer’s questions, and communicate why your company is the authority.  It will always include clear calls to action that guide the customer to closing a transaction with your company.  And it will incorporate SEO (Search Engine Optimization) from the ground up, organically.  As Status Not Quo worked with Landscape Development Inc. (LDI) on their website design, these points were always at the forefront of the process:

When designing the LDI website it was clear that the most important design insights should come from its users. The client had a good idea what their current and future audiences would want, but laying out the minutiae was a whole different ballgame.

It was important for us to have a clear picture of what needs would bring people to the LDI website, and exactly how those needs would go about providing a design that would draw them in further.

Once our insights were clear we decided on a clean, simple, and elegant visual design.

The hallmark of a great interface is simplicity. By this I don’t mean simply sticking a button or two here and there with some animations thrown in – I mean easy to understand and interact with.   This is the lost art of User Experience Design.  A key part of the LDI site design is to subtly guide users from where they are to where they need to go – each page tells a story about the company’s services and acumen with clear calls to action at each conclusion.

By working closely with the client throughout the ideation, design and implementation stages of development we were able to achieve all these goals and produce an elegant website with clear and easy to use navigation that showcased LDI’s beautiful craftsmanship and dedication to quality.
Christian Rossi, Chief Creative Officer, Status Not Quo

 

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And in the words of Gary Horton, CEO of Landscape Development, Inc.:

“We recognize that most customers have become highly visual and don’t have time for lots of menu-manipulation and ‘drilling down.’  Their time is valuable, and they appreciate stories that quickly explain capabilities, and clients like images with emotional impact. The new site feels compelling and visitors quickly understand how committed we are to their interests and care. They learn this visually, intellectually, intuitively and emotionally. And they learn it quickly.”
– Gary Horton, CEO Landscape Development, Inc.

Responsive and mobile strategy

In 2014, mobile device sales outpaced PC sales.  The Pew Research Center survey found 77 percent of American adults now use a smart phone, versus only 35 percent only five years ago in 2011. ”Today just over one -in-ten American adults are ‘smartphone-only’ internet users – meaning they own a smartphone, but do not have traditional home broadband service.”2  Having a mobile strategy is now a requirement – it’s no longer an option.

A responsive web design not only ensures that the resolution and entire user experience dynamically change to suit the screen size of the device; it also provides an experience that is tailored to the needs of a mobile user.  A key point to keep in mind during web design is that customers use mobile websites for different purposes and in different ways than they use a website on a computer.  The design flow and calls to action are different as well.  Your design has to support both users seamlessly.  And to add just a bit more weight to the responsive side of the scale, Google prioritizes search results on a mobile device to those websites that are designed for mobile.

The call to action

A website should have a clear course of action, targeted behavior, or desired emotion from your customer.  To achieve these goals, you have to identify the purpose of your website:  is it brand awareness?  Product engagement?  Information transfer?  Your customer’s behavior channels should be identified and mapped.  Know and identify the end point of your customer’s journey – and then track the metrics to evaluate the outcome, and continually refine your process to improve that outcome.

Social and digital marketing

Social search is increasingly prevalent, carrying great influence with brand and product recommendations.  68% trust online opinions from other consumers, which is up 7% from 2007 and places online opinions as the third most trusted source of product information. [Nielsen]  If you’re optimizing your social and digital marketing, you’re losing out.

But what is digital marketing anyway?  Digital marketing involves making connections, influencing designs and enhancing search engine results.  Consistency and clarity of message are critical to the process, and the web design must be built from the ground up on a social foundation, rather than adding it as an afterthought.  Most digital marketing roads should lead back to the website.

On the Landscape Development, Inc. website, within the “in the “News” section, all content is automatically delivered straight from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and is displayed in an organized, easy to access area of the site. Also, the entire site is in both English and in Spanish. Everything is equally accessible to all employees and customers, alike. This also bodes well for business in nearby Spanish-speaking areas.”3

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Search engine optimization

The days of link building, keyword stuffing, black hat techniques and offshore promotion are gone.  Search rankings are now based on the value you provide to your customers – what question have you answered for them, and how well?  Organic search is based on “authority” – why is your website a trusted source?  If you answer the questions your customers have and do it will, your authority increases, which improves your organic search results – and organic search trumps paid advertising every day.  Since search is how most customers will find you, ranking well is critical – and SEO can deliver.

A great website design will garner a reaction such as this:

“Working with Status Not Quo was a pleasure in developing our new website – they made it easy and made it look groundbreaking.  From the start we insisted on a production that was not “template factory” material in any sense.  It had to be free-flowing and adaptable, both during design and for later end-user updates and modifications. 

Using Kentico, I was able to express my vision with simple story boarding to the staff at SNQ and they ran with it from there.  Without too much time passed they handed me by my project and it was mine for fine-tuning of images and text content.  The whole thing quickly came to life and today we have perhaps our industry’s very most imaginative and unique site.  SNQ with Kentico truly made this unique site possible.”  – Gary Horton, CEO of Landscape Development, Inc.

Does your website deliver on these five critical components?  Does your design convey what makes your company special, while capturing the customer’s interest and leading them to the right call to action for their needs?  And does it incorporate SEO and social and digital marketing to enhance your search rankings so that your customers can find you in the first place?  If you can’t answer yes with confidence to all of these, it’s time to reevaluate your website – contact Status Not Quo – we’d love to help you achieve your business goals by helping you craft a website that delivers on all five key components!

Status Not Quo (SNQ) is a Creative Services and Technical Production firm.  We provide turnkey services beginning with digital marketing strategy, brand alignment, and creative design, with that vision executed and implemented utilizing the highest caliber of programming expertise and technologies.  Let us show you how we work jointly with our clients to continually evaluate and refine the strategic objectives to help ensure their success – long-term.

 

 

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