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RWD2014 || Year of the Mobile

Responsive web design is extremely critical in today’s world; it is necessary for survival among the fittest. No doubt mobile browsing has blown up and continues to grow exponentially. There are times where no matter how good a company’s web site looks on the monitor, if it is not “mobile friendly” and the user gets a poor experience, well, the site might as well be deemed no good at all. On a personal level, I can relate to the importance of mobile browsing. For example, after giving someone my business card usually one of the first things they do is pull out there iPhone, and look at my portfolio. If my personal site was not built with a responsiveness to adapt to different media devices and viewports such as the iPhone; and the viewer looking at my work does not have a good experience, this could jeopardize the integrity of my work and in turn, possibly be loosing future customers and contacts. I would like to quote Andy Clarke, web designer, author and founder of Stuff and Nonesense. Andy says, “Anything that’s fixed and unresponsive isn’t web design anymore, it’s something else. if you don’t embrace the inherent fluidity of the web, you are not a web designer, you’re something else. Web design is responsive design. Responsive Web Design is web design, done right”…

Q&A with a UI/UX Designer

For this weeks blog I decided to interview a friend of mine and professional graphic/web designer. 

 Ryan Canfield is UI/UX designer & front end developer at Synapse Studios specializing in web-based javascript applications.


What do you think is one the most important thing as a web designer?   Thinking past static design & layout to consider the web at all screen sizes.

What about the creative process?   We use a repeatable, successful pattern. It starts with sketching, wire framing, mock ups, rapid prototyping and then development .

 How important is the creative process to you?   Very! Synapse didn’t have designers a few years back, it was developers doing front end. Having designers makes a huge difference in the usability of web applications.  Being classically trained as a graphic designer helps me daily in web design. I use the principles of design, like color theory, rhythm, balance etc. these fundamentals are paramount!

What is your outlook on simplicity?   Simplicity depends on necessity. That is one thing designers forget with the web design and graphic design in general. They feel like they need to fill all the space like it is some “hole to fill” esp. junior designers. Question the necessity of everything you include in the design and then question whether is it presented in the best way possible.

What about the the placement of things like “call to actions?”   You want to make sure your main call to action is available and accessible almost anywhere.  If you’re delivering information you want it at the end of that information. It should be the most prominent path for a user to take.

What do you think about traditional web placement i.e. headers etc. and switching the placement of them up, in non traditional ways?   It really depends on the users of the site or app. Sites that have the same user base are better candidates than sites that have mostly unique visitors. Additionally, younger, more techie users are going to figure out the placement of things and are less likely to get frustrated. With users that struggle you probably want a more conservative layout. You have to determine purpose of the site and the target audience. A marketing site is going to be selling products/services, reference website will be delivering information etc.

Any input for junior web designer?   Mobile first approach, responsive design and write clean code!   

 

Titan – The Man Behind a Marketing Revolution

In the biography Titan, Ron Chernow tells the story of John D. Rockefeller, the man who built Standard Oil of Ohio in the late 19th century. Before Rockefeller, people in the United States relied on wood for cooking and heat, and whale oil for light. These materials were expensive to extract and inefficient for generating power.  In contrast, petroleum products were easily and cheaply obtained. Chernow argues that the emergence of the railroad allowed industrialists to transport goods on a national level.  Until the railroad tracks were laid across America, items could be manufactured and sold to the local consumer. With the advent of the railroad, oil, drilled and refined in Pennsylvania, could be sold and transported across long distances. Hence, Standard Oil of Ohio, by controlling the railroads, could monopolize the petroleum industry.

Similar to this ‘sales revolution’ made possible by the railroad in Rockefeller’s time, the emergence of the 20th century internet created a market for items that were heretofore distributed nationally to be sold to wholesale and retail consumers overseas. The market was once again expanded, increasing from the confines of national sales to an international market.

Today, a merchant promoting the sale of his product on the internet can take advantage of another commercial revolution taking place in the in the 21st century. Companies can market to potential buyers on their mobile devices.

Until recently, a marketer had to market a product online by hoping that the consumer would sit down at his PC, surf the net, and see the product being offered. But today, as consumers have their cell phones in hand, the marketer can target the customer and achieve instant results. An added bonus that accrues to the salesperson is his ability to track users based on GPS location. In addition, mobile devices allow for a more personal interaction through direct dialogue via SMS. By targeting ads to the mobile phone, the owner of a given website can track a user’s response instantly, allowing the marketer to analyze and understand the behavior of the cell phone owner and to improve the seller’s standard of service.

Best of all, mobile communication offers the potential for an advertisement to go viral. Mobile users tend to share good content with friends and family, and they can to do so with the click of a button. This offers the marketer more exposure with less effort.

This all sounds good in theory, but does it hold true in practice? In fact, according to a study conducted by comscore.com, four out of five modern consumers – a staggering 80% – use their smart phones to shop. Furthermore, iacqure.com reports that 70% of mobile users took action and bought a product after a mere hour spent on the internet. This is three times faster than the same results realized on a desktop or laptop computer.

That consumers shop with their mobile devices comes as no surprise. In early 2014, CNN reported that Internet usage on mobiles devices and tablets surpassed that of PCs. CBS news added that 75% of Americans admit to surfing the Internet while in the bathroom, granting the marketer an additional opportunity to reach the consumer at time that used to be reserved for other activities

Rockefeller became a Titan because he recognized that a product – in this case refined petroleum products – could be manufactured locally and sold across the entire country. He expanded the availability of goods to a larger audience. With the advancement of technology, this trend continues today. The Titans that will emerge in our generation are those who take advantage of the trends and recognize advances in how their goods and services may best reach the consumers.

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The Psychology of Color

The psychology of color is one of the most interesting and controversial aspects of marketing. There has always been debate on the importance of color in marketing and its effect on persuasion. According to a study titled, The Impact of Color in Marketing, Satyendra Singh describes that the typical person makes up their mind within 90 seconds of their initial interaction with either people or products. She also claims that about 62-90 percent of the assessment is based on colors alone.

It is believed that the most effective colors for advertising are those that stimulate the viewer’s senses. Warm colors, such as red and yellow, are known to make people feel comfortable, and encourage them to linger—a reason why many restaurants primarily use warm color schemes. Nearly all logos, advertisements, and menus of fast food chains feature reds, oranges, and yellows. This is because warm colors are some of the best colors for advertising food, as they are known to increase the appetite, which may translate to higher revenue.

Cool colors on the other hand, like blues and greens, are very calming colors often associated with knowledge and understanding—why many businesses tend to use a cool color pallet. Darker shades of blue are known to indicate dependability and integrity making it a good color for business ads and logos; you will often notice financial companies incorporating dark blue. Shades of light blue seem to be very effective for advertising over-the-counter medicines and other health products. It is believed that light blue has a calming effect on people and it is most often associated with health and healing.

One last color pallet to point out is black and white. People often underestimate the power of the simplicity behind a black and white color scheme. According to research, these are two of the best colors for advertising because they create a strong contrast when paired together. Black and white often indicate opposites—white associated with purity and freedom, while black is interpreted as elegant, powerful, and/or evil. However, when used together, black and white can give off a highly professional feel for the brand.
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world wide web banner

A web sites web banner is by far one of the most important area of a site. It is what people see first,  this is where the viewer makes initial visual contact and gets an overall feel and vibe of the site, and ultimately decides if they want to continue on or not. I can not tell you how many web sites I have left due to the  fact they had a weak header. Even though it is the content that matters in todays world people judge books by there covers, and the web banner is the cover. I like this piece of information I found online, it is from a graphic designer and multiple business owner named Dawn Papandrea-Khan. She states, “usually when we visit a website or blog, we can get a feel for what the site represents in only a few seconds. This is the reason why it is even more important to focus on making the right first impression through a custom header graphic.”

As a designer, there are a few key aspects and bits of information I think the header should contain. The company, the product etc. Which brings me to my next point I found in an online blog talking about this exact topic. This is from boostability.com the importance of a header. 

1. Who are you? (You would be amazed how many websites make their visitors dig around to find out the name of the company!)

2. What do you do? (Again, the number of visitors who are forced to assume your site sells a product rather than just talks about it is ridiculous. Be clear!)

3. Why should I buy from you, not the other guy?

The web is littered with garbage, visual noise and a bunch of sites that house web banners that all look the same. It is up to me as the designer to produce clean, visually interesting web banners that represents the sites overall demeanor and entice people to stay on the site and explore further. It is also up to me to find new and exciting ways to display the content  so we can separate ourselves from the crowd.   Also, I feel like in design I have to take risks. I have to try new and “edgy” things and think outside the normal design box that I often get tunnel visioned in. I would also like to explore maybe trying a banner with out the traditional rectangle box, maybe another shape  or placement? That is something definitely for the sketchbook and some thought.

Future Shock

‘Overchoice’, or choice overload, is a term introduced by author Alvin Toffler in his 1970 novel Future Shock. The word describes a unique problem that faces consumers in the post-industrial age. Each year, advancement in technology offers more and more products to shoppers. On its surface, the increase of options for a potential buyer would seem to be a positive development. Closer scrutiny, however, reveals that an abundance of options breeds indecisiveness. Given the plethora of choices, customers are unable to choose the product the best suits them. The buyer grows uneasy and unhappy. Often the consumer refrains from making any choice at all. This, points out Toffler, is the irony: “freedom of choice” ultimately becomes “unfreedom.”

The vision proffered in Future Shock is not far off from today’s reality. The question every marketer asks is “how can we go about extracting expendable income from responsible consumers?” Or, as articulated by Phineas T. Ratchet in 20th Century Fox’s 2005 animated film “Robots”: “how do we go about sucking every loose penny out of Mr. and Mrs. Average Knucklehead?”

Offering a variety of choices to the consumer is an important component in making a sale. However, the marketer must also facilitate the decision making process. In modern society, most people lack the discipline Harry S Truman exhibited when he stated, “there’s always a decision ahead of you that you’ve got to make, and you don’t want to look back. If you make a mistake in one of those decisions, correct it by another decision and go ahead.” Society enjoys having options, but at the same time, people are paralyzed by indecision and suffer from second guessing.

With the advent of the internet, Tofler’s “overchoice” proves overwhelming to the internet consumer. Today, any product is available to a consumer through his internet browser. Multiple websites offer numerous products that offer the same results with only slightly different nuances. For fear of making the wrong choice, a potential buyer will often close out his browser without clicking on any purchase at all. Should the marketer to make the decision for the customer by offering only one option? I think not. Rather, the web designer should offer just a few options while creating the perception that far many more options are being presented. It is in this way that the marketer can crush on any fears that buyers have of making the wrong choice, while, at the same time, making them feel that they have the “freedom of choice” they so desire.shutterstock_144375991

Sketchy Situations


To me, one of the most important parts of the creative process is sketching. Usually coming right after the initial brainstorming, it is essential for to me to start getting ideas out of my head and onto the paper. This part of the creative process is critical, and is often overlooked or not even used at all. For me, to really explore layout possibilities and new areas it begins with sketching.

Sketching can vary from project to project. For a logo design I might start 45 minutes of straight sketching, with out erasing not making it look pretty just getting ideas out of my head asketching web banner layoutnd onto paper. From there I would pick maybe 3-5 of those and focus on those, then narrow those down making visual decisions, repeating this process.

 It helps me to understand and study the space before I go into the computer. It helps to find new positions, things that are static and centered are predictable and often visually uninteresting, (there are times when static positioning is effective, situation dictates.) Basically when I sketch, I am not going into the design “blindfolded” or rolling with the punches that technology throws at me. I need a foundation, and that is sketching, you can’t build a house with out a foundation!

 

Marketing on Reddit- An Impossible Task?

There are many internet communities on the web, but none are as expansive and popular as Reddit, boasting an Alexa traffic rank of 21 in the US and 54 globally (as of 6/12/14). Furthermore, Reddit has a remarkably low bounce rate at 24.5% where the average bounce rate for content sites, (according to Google Analytics), lies somewhere between 30% – 50%. But what truly makes Reddit unique is the profile of the user it attracts: people who are surfing the net for nothing specific hoping to read something interesting and entertaining. If utilized properly, Reddit can be an invaluable tool for marketers looking to promote a product on the web.

Reddit.com hosts user submitted content on its many different boards, known as subreddits. Visitors to the site can create an account and choose to either contribute to an existing thread, create a new thread, or up/down-vote threads and posts submitted by other users. It is also possible for a visitor to simply browse the site without creating an account. With some time and effort, a user can create a new “subreddit”, a new community within the Reddit universe that focuses on specific content. The “subreddit” allows users who are looking to engage in a particular topic to access threads whose content they are seeking.

For example, /r/AskScience, is a board that allows a person to ask experts pertaining to various areas of science and math. The subreddit /r/funny gives users the opportunity to share anecdotes and entertaining material, while /r/IAmA features celebrities and other high profile individuals who interact with the Reddit community. Other subreddits host discussions relating to politics and news, self-improvement, technology, entertainment, heavy and light-heated discussions, and offer general advice. Because anyone who is a member of the site can create a subreddit, there exists almost 500,000 unique subreddits, each one geared toward a specific niche. The number rises daily. Users can also use their homepage to subscribe to specific subreddits thereby allowing them to better control the posts that appear on their page. Subscribers to the more popular subreddits number in the millions. Given the significant number of accountholders on Reddit, a marketer using Reddit to promote a product can easily corner a significant amount of people interested in his products or services.

But here is the rub. As the Reddit website has evolved, it has formed a unique culture replete with its own slang, inside jokes, and internet celebrities. Users on Reddit display little patience for self-promotion. In addition, the individual subreddits, moderated by their creators, are adverse to spam. As such, assaulting a subreddit with spam will quickly result in a ban as the moderators work to maintain the highest possible quality of the subreddit upon which they have expended so many hours to build and maintain.

Reddit does provide a paid service that allows you to advertise without the possibility of being banned, but even if you were to target the right audience, it is doubtful that it would result in more than limited success. Instead, I would suggest using Reddit in the way it is designed. Instead of forcing an ad for a natural cream for relief from muscle-soreness that will reach the 66,000 subscribers to /r/bodybuilding, I propose the creation of a new “subreddit” that will promote discussions surrounding the relief from muscle soreness. Because you moderate the subreddit, you can cleverly introduce, with impunity, the elixir you are looking to sell and a description of how it works.

Reddit posts that garner up votes are interesting and well-written, filled with rich content and a list of sources. One would not spam his own subreddit with a line stating, “Hey, visit this link to check out this natural alternative to pain pills.” Rather, one could be creative and lead the conversation by saying, “Maybe there is a natural, “side effect” free alternative to the pain medication being prescribed by doctors.” After some discussion, the marketer can gently introduce his link to his audience. In this way the marketer would not come off as obnoxious, screaming for people to visit his page. While it may be  obvious that you are promoting your product,  Reddit does not prohibit the self-promotion of your blog or your product provided others users do not complain that you are inundating them with spam.shutterstock_171401612

The “Domain Info” site: Google’s latest target

Every few months, Google gets a bee in its bonnet about a specific type of site, and usually rolls out a series of updates intended to clean up the results pages.  We’ve seen it for directories and “content farms”, and untold man-hours have been devoted to keeping “payday loans” clean and safe.

With the recent “Panda 4.0″ update, a few sites have began publishing lists of “Winners and Losers”. The more interesting aspect is what happens when we look at similar lists over time. a clear trend appears.

Again and again, you see rank drops for the “sites that list every major domain” — this typically falls into one of three categories:

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Embrace Social Media Marketing to Boost Revenue

Today social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, all represent a new network of opportunity for businesses to grab the attention of customers. Each of these sites already have people addicted to them, this means you do not have to look for customers because they are already there. The Facebook social network alone is available in 70 languages with over 1 billion users worldwide, and more than 33 million users in the UK.

Just a few years ago people mainly obtained information from the newspaper and television. Although these traditional media of communication are still being used, the Internet world has developed into the primary way of acquiring information. This transformation changes our way of communication from one-way to two-way. In two-way communication, like on Facebook, people can acquire information, as well as voice their own comments and ratings at the same time.

One thing to remember is that Facebook Marketing is very different than the traditional marketing. What makes this new form of marketing so convenient is that it provides your business with customer interaction. Through comments or posts, you get to have direct feedback and conversations with your target audience, which will ultimately help you develop a loyal fan base.

Another way to benefit from Facebook Marketing is its viral business promotion and advertising. If someone likes your page, it then appears in their news feed for all of their friends to see. You also have the option of posting advertising campaigns. You can build your advertisements and choose a campaign suitable for your business with the decision of how often these ads will appear.

While spending money on promoting your company through a page is not required, it is still recommended. Many people feel that simply having a page or a group on Facebook is enough to help their company, which is not necessarily true. If you do not remain active through these social media sites, then they do not serve any benefit. With this summarized checklist from Jon Loomer, you too can learn how to fully utilize social media and ultimately boost your companies revenue.

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