Is It Time To Upgrade Your Web Hosting?

February 12th, 2018 in Development, Web website hosting

Whether it is time to upgrade your web hosting may not seem like as exciting a question as which colour to use on your homepage, or what exciting functionality you can provide to your users. The truth, however, is that web hosting is what can help make the most of all those other choices.

“Web hosting” is the term we use for the infrastructure which powers a website. The computers – or servers – on which your website’s files are stored will, like any other piece of hardware, have their own specifications and capacity. Those attributes will, in turn, affect how well your website, and all its associated functions, operate.

So, is it time to upgrade your web hosting? Well. Ask yourself these questions:

 

Does your website have slow site speeds?

You – and most importantly your visitors – don’t have to put up with slow site speeds. In fact, your users almost certainly won’t, and they’ll go elsewhere. Slow site speeds are usually a sign of a problem with the web hosting associated with a site; don’t lose your customers – lose your hosting provider.

 

Do you share a server with other websites?

Lots of lower-end hosting providers squeeze a score of sites onto the same hosting platform – this is good for them since it maximises their resources, but not for you. Sharing a server with other sites means that you can’t control your level of service as well – a spike for another site, and maybe one of your competitors, will mean slower speeds for you.

 

What’s the reputation of your host?

This one might sound strange, but some hosting providers have a poor reputation – and that impacts upon you. That’s not just about word of mouth about their customer service: poor hosting providers often wind up on blacklists for one reason or another, and that can mean your emails don’t get through when they should. Choose a host that’s known and respected.

 

Does your website slow down during peak times?

The more people accessing your site, the harder your server has to work … and, if it wasn’t particularly good to begin with, that extra stress will send it crashing down. If you’re noticing slower responses during periods of peak traffic, it’s a good sign that your server isn’t working as well for you anymore.

If asking any of these questions leads you to question your current provider, drop us a line for a chat about our web hosting packages – you might expect us to say this, but they’re top drawer. Not sure about your servers? Well, then: is it time to upgrade your web hosting?

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

 

5 Tips for Improving Your Website Design

January 26th, 2018 in Design, Web web design

Tips for improving your website design might at first glance seem too good to be true: like every other “weird trick” online – from how to lose weight to how to grow a better beard – web design tips can have the air of the con. Surely no complex issue can be boiled down to a few cute shortcuts?

Of course not. Web design is an art and a science, and you’d be best off engaging an expert (like us!) when considering building a website for your business. A few “weird tricks” won’t build you a proper website; it’ll barely help you understand how one works.

That said, there are some basic principles which underpin all good design that can help even a layperson perceive how their website might look better – and which, in the hands of a professional, can make a massive difference.

Websites are, of course, ten a penny these days – if they’re to stand out, they need to look good. That’s where some rules of thumb can come in really hand. Think of them as ways to avoid common errors which undermine websites that might otherwise have been rather more impressive.

1. Simplify your site.

Clutter is the enemy of good design. A page packed with unnecessary elements might feel like one which imparts a lot of information, but in fact, it will do the opposite – because no one will bother to read it. Be ruthless with what you include; make your web pages clean and lean.

 

2. Reduce colours.

Who doesn’t love a pop of colour, a splash of vibrancy? You can, though, have too much of a good thing. Try to use one or two colours with neutral hues which can complement each other. Loud Hawaiian shirts offend because they’re too busy – don’t let your site make the same mistake.

 

3. Stick with two fonts.

Typography adds character, but it can also be distracting. By limiting yourself to two typefaces, you’ll get the best out of your fonts: they’ll offer variation and visual interest without crowding each other out and making everything seem confused.

 

4. Don’t forget mobile.

This is a biggie, but it feels bizarre that in 2018 we still need to say it. Mobile browsing has been a thing for a while now, has never been more important than now – and yet you still see site after site which doesn’t work when you’re on the go. Stop it, designers! Make sure your site is responsive.

 

5. Have a plan.

Never, ever start a site without a clear sense of where you’re going with it. Know which pages are important, how your users will find them, and where everything is going to go.  Map your site so you know how it will be used. Only then should you start building … because usability is the goal of all good design.

These aren’t solutions to everything – there’s no such thing as a silver bullet in design. At the same time, there are simple mistakes you can avoid and basic principles you should always follow. And that’s why these are our top five tips to improve your web design.

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

 

How To Ensure Consistency in Web Design

January 12th, 2018 in Design, Web web design

Ensuring consistency in web design is crucial. Indeed, any area of design can succeed or fail on the level of how well its various elements sit with each other – and how consistently. Design is ultimately a form of communication, and if we are to get anything across effectively there must be an element of constancy in our delivery.

In design, this most often means achieving a certain harmony – between colours and elements, shapes and sizes. Whatever identity your web designer intends to create for your company, the consistency with which they apply and repeat each element will go a long way towards ensuring that they achieve their aim.

 

Repeat Layout Styles

For example, repeating layout styles is a common way to give each page a fixed and predictable form. Consistent layouts are important if visitors to your website are going to easily find what they need: skipping between pages is one thing, but if each one is different it can be time-consuming to maintain your bearings. Pick a layout and stick with it: it will pay dividens.

Your aim should be to make your visitors feel comfortable, even at home; consistency in web design is about achieving just this, so that your website comes to feel intuitive in its familiarity.

 

Consistent Branding

So keep your branding consistent. Just as repeated layouts can help users settle into a rhythm on your website, so branding – a stable of colours, typefaces, logos and even images to which you return throughout the site in regulated ways – can help a user orient themselves. The subtle cues of branding work because they remind us where we are – this works on a website just as much as it does in a branch of McDonalds.

Ensuring consistency in web design is about building an experience that your user understands on a subconscious level: if a button was red on page one and did X, then a red button should also do C on page two. Branding helps direct users to expect certain effects, and helps them navigate spaces virtual and physical.

 

Intuitive Navigation

On which note … use intuitive website navigation. All these cues and clues will be for nothing if your menu makes no sense. Your users should understand a lot about your website just from your header and navigation links: make your signposting clear and simple, and arrange your content clearly and concisely.

Of course, relevant and good quality copy and content is key here: your users won’t thank you for helping them find what they need if when they get there it’s not much good. But taking that as read, if your users can find what they’re looking for easily, arrive at it simply, and feel immediately at home with what they find … then congratulations: you’ve learned how to ensure consistency in your web design!

 

Contact Image Plus for Web Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

 

How Can You Make Your Website Stand Out?

December 1st, 2017 in Design, Development, Web web design

Making your website stand out is ever more difficult. In today’s forest of web pages, how can your single tree ever hope to stand out from the crowd? What was once known as “surfing” the internet is more like “wading”; to mix metaphors, it can be hard to see the wood for all those trees.

The good news is that there are still plenty of ways to make sure that your website is a cut above the rest. A lot of this has to do with simple design principles. When applied well, good design simply makes a site look right – and it’s surprising how few sites, in truth, fully achieve this goal.

 

Layout & Structure

First and foremost, sort out your structure. Using a good layout is key to attracting and then retaining what we in the trade call “eyeballs”. If your navigation is clear and your site convenient to use, your visitors will like what they see – and make use of your pages again and again. In other words, you’ll stand out as a place to hang out.

 

Branding

Consistent branding can really help achieve this. A recognisable brand builds your reputation and inspires confidence. A good brand can provide visual clues, too, that can bind a site together like the egg in a cake mixture. Think carefully about colours, logos, and typography – make your site a uniform experience as much as a collection of pages.

 

Graphics

Indeed, using images and graphics appropriately can be a really powerful means of making an impact. If branding is the visual framework of a site, then photography and illustration acts as the decorative detail. Great imagery supplies visual flare and interest, making a site beautiful to look at as you use it – and every eyeball likes to be entertained!

 

Content

Finally, consider your content. The text and video you utilise to expand on and detail your messaging needs to reflect the identity of your brand. Your copy should be easy to read and characterful, but not distracting or overly wordy. Likewise, video is increasingly important on many sites, and offers a very dynamic way of supplementing your content.

Just remember to make sure that everything – video, photography, colours – are crisp and vibrant, the best quality you can produce. Muddy graphics or sub-standard video will reflect badly on you; however good the design of a site, if the content is wanting then you will only be able to stand out so far.

 

Ultimately, your goal is to stand out as much as possible – to be, at your best, head and shoulders above the other sites in your field. Clear design, consistent branding, and quality content are the best ways to achieve that. Get these basics right, and you’ll be amazed by the results.

Essentially, we’re telling you to get a good designer (fortunately, we know some!). It’s not rocket science: great design is how you can make your website stand out.

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you need web design or development, then speak to our friendly experts. Our web developers are based in Coventry, Warwickshire and are always ready to help. Please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

Top 5 E-Commerce Web Design Trends for 2017

August 9th, 2017 in Design, Web e-commerce web design

E-commerce website trends in 2017 are related to, but also diverge from, the more general web design fashions. Much of this difference, of course, is simply due to the separate functionalities required of an e-commerce site. You wouldn’t build a bungalow the way you would a skyscraper. Websites are the same.

The primary purpose of an e-commerce site, not surprisingly, is to drive sales. How you do this online is all about how a website looks, and how that appearance guides and empowers the user. E-commerce web design trends are equal parts style and substance: they both keep things fresh and make them functional, enhancing the user experience.

So what are the latest trends? As dedicated followers of fashion, we’re glad you asked.

 

1) Responsive Design

This one shares most with the general trends elsewhere in web design: a responsive site is one that can be viewed optimally on many devices and platforms, and with mobile a very big thing now this is essential. It’s extremely important that your e-commerce website looks good on a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer: you want to maximise your customer base, and responsive design is the way to do it.

 

2) Material Design

If responsive e-commerce design is primarily about function, material design is about aesthetics. Put simply, this e-commerce web design trend builds on a language introduced by Google in 2014, and focuses on card layouts and responsive animations. This is perfect for an e-commerce site, since the grid system of material design offers the perfect way to arrange products simply and easily. This helps your user find what they want quickly.

 

3) Menu Placement on the Left

This is another trend driven by Google. The service has begun to place its menus on the left, and so ubiquitous are the service’s platforms that users are automatically beginning to expect this. Intuitive navigation is a key means of ensuring your visitors become customers, so following this trend makes a lot of sense. Look for ‘hamburgers’, too – the three-line horizontal button which, when tapped or clicked, expands the menu. Hiding your menu in this way gives you more space for content when you need it.

 

4) Bright and Vibrant Colours

Web design in general, has been inundated with blocky colours of late: less pattern, more bold hues. E-commerce can make real use of this trend to highlight key areas of content and simply stray fresh when it comes to look and feel. Do away with whites and greys –  try reds and yellows. At last web design is fun again!

 

5) Lots of Images

Your e-commerce website is your new shop window – and no one likes an empty window, right? Let your customer see your products, and be unafraid of leaning heavily on original photography. Likewise, don’t just limit yourself to product shots – use attractive photography of your products in situ, being used and generally looking great. Release your inner artist.

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

Drop us a line to learn more about where we’re taking our e-commerce clients this year. But there they are in a nutshell: the top five e-commerce web design trends of 2017!

If you’re looking for a web design company in Coventry, Warwickshire and would like some support with a website or mobile website, then please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

Business Benefits of Website Design & Development

July 28th, 2017 in Design, Development, Web businesses web design web development

Businesses make decisions on the basis of value. That is a truism so obvious as to bear repeating: we’re all told that web design is important, but what are the business benefits of web design and development? How can we measure their impact in order to inform and justify our investments?

The benefits to a business of great web design are multiple – and offer multipliers in turn. In the digital age, your customers will assume any business with which they engage have a web presence – and they will trust you less for not having one or even merely for having a poorer platform than they expect. Expectation management, then, is key – but there are still more quantifiable business benefits to great web design and development. They can be roughly broken into four areas.

 

Good web design makes your service or product available 24/7

A quality website is a resource that your customers will want to return to. Not only that, but it’s always on. Unlike your reception desk or call centre, your business’s website is open to the public all day, every day. Whatever their schedule, each of your customers can access your services or products at the click of a mouse or tap of a screen, constantly. That means you’re doing more business throughout the day.

 

Smart web development streamlines business operations

Digital technology offers smart solutions. Integrating your business processes with your website and another online infrastructure, enables information sharing, more efficient operations and better lines of communication. All that makes your employees’ days easier and more seamless, which in turn releases efficiencies for the business. Websites aren’t just shop windows – they can be workbench tools.

 

The web opens up more channels for outreach to customers

From Twitter to Facebook, smartphone to tablet, having a good digital presence means you can open up a larger number of channels to communicate with your customers – and convert new ones. Does your website include a blog? Create new content regularly to engage new users. Have you developed a new product, service or feature? Promote that online to earn higher traffic and greater sales. Good web design means better conversation.

 

Your business will benefit from staying competitive online

For all these reasons and more, your competitors will be investing in web design and development, too. The business benefits of web design and development often flow from matching and exceeding their efforts!

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you’re looking for a web design company in Coventry, Warwickshire and would like some support with a website or mobile website, then please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

Why Branding is Important to Web Design

July 14th, 2017 in Design, Marketing, Web Branding web design

Branding can be a word that appears to lose meaning in its ubiquity. We all know what a brand is, right? We all understand that branding is important, don’t we? Well, maybe. But can we really quantify the benefits of branding in ways that strengthen our digital offerings?

Of course we can – but it requires a little bit of thought.

 

Customer Perception

Branding is as important to a website as it is to a drinks bottle or a hotel resort – it provides a seal of pre-approval. If your website agrees with a wider brand your company has already established – and is trusted by its customers – then automatically it will win people over and make them feel more comfortable.

The reverse is true, too, of course … but let’s for the moment assume your brand is good. Your website needs to mirror your wider brand – not be considered as separate to it because it is online or in a different format to your usual material – because it is part of that brand. Digital is increasingly integral to everything a business does, so it’s worth making it look that way, too.

 

Conveying Goals & Messages

The importance of branding to a website isn’t just about tying it into your wider activity, however. It’s also about grabbing attention and giving website users a specific message or goal in the moment that they arrive at the site. A good brand is designed to catch the eye of its target audience – so a good website will use it to good effect to attract and retain browsers.

Likewise, it will utilise the brand to offer a call to action. These can be key in directing users around your website, and towards the ends you’d like them to reach. A call to action can be a prompt to make a purchase or enter personal information, to subscribe or to get in touch. A good brand will subtly reinforce whatever action you wish your visitors to take: through colour, navigation, layout and messaging, a website can steer browsers in the appropriate directions for them.

 

Consistency & Usability

Indeed, the key goal for any website is usability. The most important metric by which to measure your site is simple: will the user enjoy the experience of visiting it, and will they get from their visit whatever it was they wished to obtain? A good user experience will result in repeat visits – and therefore repeat business. Branding is crucial here because it provides consistency and familiarity – which makes any visit anywhere easier.

First and foremost, a good brand is an expression of quality. Your branding says something about your product or service, and aims to inspire confidence. On a website, this will result in heightened engagement and greater usability – and that’s why branding is so important to web design.

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you’re looking for a web design company in Coventry, Warwickshire and would like some support with a website, then please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

3 Essential Tips for Great Web Navigation

June 23rd, 2017 in Design, Web web design web development web navigation

Great navigation on websites is the difference between becoming a really successful online resource for your customers – and, well, not. Today’s savvy internet users want every website they visit to make immediate sense and be easy to use. The best way to achieve this is with intuitive navigation.

From menus to hotlinks, back buttons to breadcrumbs, navigation is all about how a user goes from one page to another. Great web navigation enables visitors to your site to find the content they want quickly and with a minimum of fuss. In other words, it’s about convenience.

In survey after survey, the majority of web users admit that they judge a business by the quality of their web design. This might be unfair – although it’s increasingly easy to produce professional-looking websites – in today’s world, it is simply a matter of fact.

The good news is that ensuring your site is easy to navigation is relatively straightforward. On the other hand, it can be more subtle than at first appears: the interaction of your menu with the content and images on each page can render even the clearest architecture cluttered or difficult to parse. That’s why you’re always best off engaging professionals to build your site.

 

1. Clear & concise labels/categories

 This is the golden rule: make your navigation easy to understand at a single glance. Think of your site as a set of boxes, and file content and pages into the appropriate one. Then, describe each box with a single word of clear meaning and importance – and fan out your pages from there. Your users will thank you.

 

2. Theme, colour & layout consistency

An architecture of pages that structure your content in such a way as to make it easy for your users to find the content they need. But don’t neglect visual cues. That is, should each category of pages share colours or layouts, to emphasise the belong to the same group? Avoid clutter, make things subtle.

 

3. Utilising a flat architecture

 Not so long ago, websites had become unwieldy cascades of pages: under each category, innumerable pages nested under the ones before them, with users clicking again and again to reach the content they needed. It is very rare that this can’t be avoided. Try to ensure that each of your pages is reachable within a couple of clicks.

Follow these three tips, and great navigation – and happy visitors – will be yours.

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you’re looking for a web design company in Coventry, Warwickshire and would like some support with a website, then please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

 

Top 10 Web Design Trends of 2017

May 30th, 2017 in Design, Development, Web

We’re already almost half-way through 2017 (no, we don’t know how that happened either). So what have we learned – and what pointers can we perceive to lead the way for the rest of the year?

Web design, like anything else, has its trends and its fashions. Following them slavishly will make you seem like a cliché, but ignoring them entirely risks rendering you out of date. Here are the ten trends we’re keeping an eye on – and deploying where they make the most sense.

 

1. Responsive Design 2.0?

Designing websites in such a way that they can adapt to whatever screen or platform they’re being viewed on has been a thing for a while. But with designers increasingly adopted a mobile-first position, and Google rewarding response sites with higher rankings, its adoption has been picking up real pace this year.

 

2. More Use of Scalable Vector Graphics

This comes in hand-to-hand with more responsive design: vector graphics are able to grow or to shrink as windows stretch this way or that. It’s a clever piece of technology that will make your all-important graphics look great every time.

 

3. Big & Bold Typography

If responsive design is “under the hood”, one of the most visible changes to web design this year is the prominence of typography: big, bold fonts will be placed at the heart of designs. In particular look out for serif fonts and geometric ones. Single words, simply presented, have never been clearer.

 

4. New Kinds of User Interface

As mobile-first because more prominent, UIs are changing, too. They look more and more like mini-desktops – lots of buttons to click, sorted into grids – and increasingly involve conversational elements – think questions, prompts and chatbots.

 

5. Authentic Photography

Gone are the days when stock photography passed muster. Users see so many websites per day now that they notice when photographs look staged or don’t seem unique to the site they’re viewing. Take your own photos, and use them prominently.

 

6. More Animation

With GIFs now a thing way beyond cult websites like Reddit, and animated images easier than ever to produce, moving images are more a part of websites than ever in 2017. From animated transitions between pages to cheeky decoration, animation is having a moment.

 

7. Vibrant Colours

White and grey have had their day. The clean and stark lines of recent years remain, but their backgrounds have changed: think fuchsias and oranges, and even bright greens. Let your websites pop.

 

8. The “Hero Banner”

The large image at the top of the website, filling the first screen a visitor sees – situated “above the fold” to adopt newspapers terminology – now reigns supreme. 2017 may see its apogee, but for now it is having a real moment in the sun.

 

9. The Long Scroll

Partly because the “hero banner” is now such a thing, sites are scrolling further than ever before. Mobile-first websites in particular benefit from “single-page” websites – there’s no need for an endless navigation tree of pages. Just let your users scroll.

 

10. Minimalism

All of this said, the biggest trend of 2017? Simple sites, plainly appointed. But be bold.

 

Contact Image Plus for Website Design & Development

If you’re looking for a web design company in Coventry, Warwickshire and would like some support with a website, then please feel free to contact us and speak to one of our website design specialists.

Contact us on 024 7683 4780 or send us an email at info@image-plus.co.uk.

New Website Launched For FTC !

December 15th, 2016 in Design, Web

Another website that Image+ has designed and built and published in the mad Christmas rush is for The Food & Drink Training and Education Council (FTC), previously the Meat Training Council. FTC is a non profit skills charity representing the whole of the food industry. The FTC website includes information on a range of apprenticeships within the Food Industry and a range of food training courses – mainly around the area of butchery. The website also lists approved training providers.
In order to keep the content of the site fresh there’s a News section where visitors can choose from general news, blog items and press features.

https://www.foodtraining.org.uk/