The Benefits of “Breadcrumbs”

November 17th, 2017 in Design breadcrumbs web design

Breadcrumbs are more useful than you think. Not only are they an essential ingredient in veggie burgers, Katsu curry and fish fingers … They can help you find your way home.

We all know the story of Hansel and Gretel, who were brave enough to explore the forest … and smart enough to lay breadcrumbs along their path. In this way, they didn’t get lost – useful when you’re running away from the evil inhabitant of a sinister gingerbread house.

In web design, his story has given a name to the tokens we leave throughout a website to enable a visitor to track backwards through their online journey. Often breadcrumbs appear as nested page names – Home > About > Our Company, for example – which situate a user clearly with the site’s architecture. They can take other forms, however, and always the aim is simple: to help your visitor to not get lost.

This is a good function to include, especially on a site which boasts a large number of pages. Resource-heavy websites are great, but once you’ve clicked one link you’ve clicked them all – and it can be very easy to become unmoored, lost amidst all these pages and unable to find your way ‘Home’ again.

 

Why Use Site Breadcrumbs?

Breadcrumbs – prominent indicators of where you are and how you can get back to where you were – greatly enhance the usability of a site. They make it easy to click on pages but also remain oriented; to find other content quickly; and to go back to content you found interesting once you’re done exploring.

In turn, this reduces the clicks or actions required to return to a given page – and this, too, enhances the user experience of your site. Making your content easy to navigate is a key means of making your site pleasant to use … And that will earn you return visits.

If you’re wondering why users can’t just click the “Back” button, you haven’t yet understood the power of the humble breadcrumb. Breadcrumbs aren’t just about going back: they’re about situating yourself within a site, and understanding how each of its pages relates to the others. You’ve worked hard on structuring your content – so make that structure clear. The “Back” button alone doesn’t achieve that.

Sites without breadcrumbs don’t get read as much as sites which opt to use them. Being able to find your way home encourages browsers, like Hansel and Gretel, to explore a little deeper; if you don’t help your users to find their way, they’ll stick a little more closely to the ‘top-line’ content – and never make the most of what you’ve built for them.

In fact, sometimes they won’t even read your top-line content: sites without breadcrumbs suffer from higher bounce rates, meaning essentially that their visitors leave those sites much more quickly. Today’s internet users are savvy and impatient – if they can’t find what they want quickly and easily, they’ll go somewhere else. Breadcrumbs encourage them to stay.

In other words, think of breadcrumbs as a wayfinding system. Complex buildings often include coloured corridors and large maps to help visitors find their way around. Hardy fairytale explorers carry loaves of bread. And websites have the benefits of breadcrumbs.

 

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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.

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3 Great Techniques for Engaging Typefaces

November 5th, 2017 in Design Design trends typeface typefaces web design web designers

Typefaces can be the poor man of web design. There’s so much else that’s novel or exciting about digital platforms – animation! video! parallax scrolling! – that the humble font can be overlooked.

This, however, would be a mistake. In fact, bold and striking typefaces have been one of the big trends in web design over the last year or so. That’s because they can be very effective at engaging visitors straight away, as soon as they land on your homepage.

A great typeface makes a statement almost subliminally. Getting your fonts right can in this way add some serious punch to your design – and give real character to your brand. If you play your typeface cards right, your visitors will be hooked instantly.

So what’s the secret? A lot of the typeface trick, as in any other aspect of design, is in understanding your brand and expressing it elegantly in your choices. That said, there are some elements of typography that you can consider in order to hit the right balance for you.

 

Be Minimal – but Dramatic

The temptation when toying with typefaces is to go wild. The problem with showily fabulous fonts, though, is that they can be distracting. Take comic sans, that much-hated font which purports to have lots of character. The reason designers hate it is because it’s unbalanced – its balance and shape and legibility are all compromised by its desire to be so kooky.

Don’t fall into this trap. Use a simple font that makes a big impact. Consider fonts like Fat-Frank, Frontage or Poly. These sorts of font will convey meaning and attract – but not distract – attention.

 

Keep Creatively Simple

Don’t over-use effects or point sizes. Be creative, but don’t go overboard. In just the same way that you want your typeface to speak eloquently but not always shout, think carefully about how to use it. Maybe you could do something very straightforward like using ALL CAPS to make your message loud and clear, instead of using italics, underlines and bold? It’s worth considering.

 

Integrated Images

If bold typefaces are a big trend in minimal web design right now, so too is integrated video and animation. The great news is that you can do both at the same time.

By using bleed – that is, placing an object in front of the text – or including video in the background of a text area, you can add visual interest to your site whilst still letting your text do the talking. Maybe your text can extend beyond the bounds on an image, or be partially obscured by one? This is a trick often used in comic books to make panels look dynamic – it can work online too.

In short, typefaces can make text sing. Great-looking text seals the deal with customers online, so don’t ignore the writing on your website … or it might wind up on the wall for you!

 

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If you need a web design or just want someone to check if your website is already responsive then speak to our 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.

 

Why Responsive Web Design is Important

October 20th, 2017 in Design Design responsive web design responsive website design web design web designers website design

Responsive web design is important. If you take only one sentence away from this blog post, let that be it: in today’s online environment, ensuring that your website can respond to the devices and screens on which it is viewed is absolutely key, for all sorts of reasons.

 

Clients and designers alike can get wrapped up in colours and font faces and where the navigation is positioned. They can become very agitated by the wrong graphic or a button that stands out insufficiently. The truth is, none of these will damage your site as badly as failing to make it responsive will.

 

To be fair, what everyone wants is for your site to look good – and the truth is that responsive web design ensures it always looks its best. No matter how great your graphics or vibrant your colourways, all that work will be for nothing if your site doesn’t look good on a mobile phone or a tablet or any of the countless types of device which can now be used to view your site.

 

This is all that responsive web design means: building a site that can shrink and resize and even display differently depending upon the platform. For example, on a large desktop monitor, a site might stretch across the screen, displaying big and bold slider graphics and expanding its menus fully. On a mobile however, it might contract and intelligently crop those images, or collapse the menu into a ‘hamburger’ icon.

 

Responsive web design is important because it enables you to ensure your content looks good in every context – and that you get the message across immediately, however a user is logging on.

 

Ensuring this cross-platform compatibility will increase mobile visits to your site – crucial given that mobile internet usage is increasing constantly, and is now the dominant method many use to go online.

 

Likewise, search engines such as Google reward website that provide this courtesy to broswers – meaning that your rankings will improve if you adopt responsive design. Should you for some reason choose not to go down this route, don’t expect to reach the top of the search pages for your chosen keywords.

 

For example, some businesses still use multiple non-responsive websites, directing users to the site most applicable to their device. Not only will this ensure that all of your sites do worse in search engine rankings; it also makes managing them a nightmare, since each time you update a page you’ll need to do it on every single non-responsive site you maintain. Responsive web design is a time saver, and will make your business more productive.

 

In other words, these taking advantage of responsive technology is the only sensible way to approach building a new website. In fact, all your competitors are already doing it – and maybe that’s the best reason of all why responsive web design is so important!

 

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If you need a new responsive design or just want someone to check if your website is already responsive then speak to our 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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.