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graphic-design

Has Graphic Design Gone Backwards?

For a website to be successful, it relies on graphics. However, the very idea that graphic design has gone backwards somewhat is going to be rather disturbing for those individuals that are aware of the important role that it plays.

But then, is it even possible for ‘art’ to have gone backwards? Surely as long as the client is happy with what they see before them then everything else is also going to be absolutely fine?

Well, it certainly does not work that way every single time.

The problem is that graphic designers will often wish to experiment with their ideas and concepts. Now, that is the thing that pushes the industry along, but surely there has to be a line where the client and the Internet in general decides that enough is indeed enough?

Too often, the client that is having the website constructed will give the graphic designer too much space and power in deciding on what they produce. This is wrong because it can then get to a point whereby the client feels that so much work has been done that they effectively just ‘go along with it’ as they want their website to be live.

Once again, this is wrong.

You see, Internet trends tend to then force graphic design down a particular path. Social media plays a role as designers look at the kind of things that seem to catch the eye of individuals and then seek to apply those trends and concepts to their own ideas. Of course, this doesn’t always work as there is such a thing as thinking too far out of the box.

So why do we ask the question as to whether or not graphic design has gone backwards? Too often there is little interaction between client and designer whereas in the past this would have rarely been the case. There can, at times, be a feeling that they also need to throw designs out as quickly as possible as competition is so tough that the client could easily go elsewhere at any point.

Previously, there was an acceptance that quality designs took time to create. There was an entire process to be worked through from coming to terms with what the client was looking for, to coming up with the initial ideas, to finding out what the client thought of those ideas, to the final product.

In all seriousness, this would take weeks to work though on some occasions, but that length of time can often feel like professional suicide with the speed at which the web design and graphic design industry appears to be moving.

In other words, it is the pressure of competition and the desire to produce something that stands out mixed in with a willingness to push boundaries that has led to graphic design heading in reverse. It’s not to say that the designer no longer has pride in their work. That would be a crazy thing to try to argue.

However, there is perhaps a reluctance to invest as much time and energy into a design due to the pressure being applied almost from the outset. When you also add in that prices can often be driven downwards due to that increased competition, then when you are doing the same work as you did a decade ago and feel you are being paid the same; well are you going to invest as much time and effort?

The question now is what this means to the client and how to rectify the situation. Clearly, the role of the client is to give the designer the time and space to come up with something exceptional. You must communicate with the designer to let them know that you are open for ideas and interpretations, but that you are looking for specific ideas to be included. Obviously, you need to do your own research first and know what you want or else you are making life exceptionally difficult for yourself.

Perhaps then it is not the skill of the graphic designers that has gone backwards, but just a result of turmoil and pressure being applied from different angles. The need to squeeze prices down as low as possible coupled with clients sometimes having ideas that just cannot work without it looking crazy, due to them seeing something elsewhere, does not exactly help.

If space and time is provided, then there is no reason to doubt that something brilliant can be produced. It’s just a case of allowing that to happen.

ecommerce webfoot

E-commerce is hardly going to be going away, so it makes sense for anybody that is considering venturing into this particular world to have an idea as to some of the key things that can help you to swim rather than just sink. After all, there is so much competition out there that surely anything that can make even a modicum of difference is worth doing?

The mistake that people often make is they simply dive in with both feet without giving much thought about it. Clearly, this is the wrong thing to do and we would much rather that you give these tips some consideration first.

  1. Get Inspiration.

The first thing is to get inspired, and by this we mean look at e-commerce websites that you find to be appealing. It might be the way in which the products are displayed or the navigation. Perhaps it is the categories that appeal to you? No matter what it is, you need to spend some time contemplating what other people do with their e-commerce website and try to get inspiration from it for the sake of your own website.

  1. Consider Your E-Commerce Platform.

This is also more important than people realize in that you need to be sure that you use the correct e-commerce platform from the outset. By doing so, it should then mean that your entire website works smoothly and without any issues because that is going to be one huge thing that is capable of putting potential customers off spending money on your site. You also want to be sure that you are using something that is easy to update and change when required to do so as your prices may alter as will your products and you hardly want to rip the entire website out and start all over again every time this has to happen.

  1. Consider Your Payment Gateways.

You need to also spend some time thinking about payment gateways and being aware of the ones that work best for your website. Paypal tends to be the most popular out of the market leaders, but there are other options available. It can all depend on the e-commerce platform you plan on using along with the amount of business that you are conducting. Furthermore, you need to be aware of the currencies it can operate as well as making sure that you can actually get the money without running into too many problems.

  1. Don’t Launch Until You Have Tested the Website.

This might sound crazy to point out, but there are individuals that will try to put together their e-commerce website and then launch it in the hope of earning money as quickly as possible. The problem here is that they effectively do live testing, and that is pointless. Actually, it is even worse than pointless simply because if this kind of website is rushed, then it leads to broken links, issues with the cart, and a whole host of other things that will only serve the purpose of putting off potential customers.

  1. Stay Relevant.

Once again this may come across as being extremely basic advice, but it is astonishing how many companies allow their e-commerce website to just stay stuck in the past. It’s absolutely fine to keep the initial template the same, but ideas and concepts related to the world of design in this area are ever-changing. Being aware of the latest approaches can make a real difference to the way in which your website is viewed by your potential customers, and surely you want them to be as happy as possible? If displaying relatively few items on the front page is where it’s at right now, then maybe it’s a good idea to follow that concept? If large images displaying a few categories is the modern approach, then once again you may be better suited to adopt that particular strategy?

What we are saying here is that there are a whole host of things to take into account when it comes to operating your very own e-commerce website. There is so much more to it than simply adding some products to a program, getting some hosting, and then waiting for people to come. Would you do that with a physical store? Of course not, so why do it with this?

Just What is the Cost of Bad Design?

cost of bad designIt is understandable for you to be excited about getting your new website out there for the world to see, but this is certainly a case where patience is indeed a virtue.

To stress this point, we can look at the actual cost of bad design. Now, we aren’t saying that we will be looking at exact figures, but this is more about discussing the negative impact that poor design can have on not only your website but also the way in which you are perceived.

Bad Design from a Technical Point of View.

Getting your designer to just throw something out there without too much thought or care for the end product is just not something that you want to be doing. It’s important to remember that your website is the key form of advertising that you will be doing online, so you should want to take some care over it so it represents what you are doing in the best light possible.

If you put pressure on a designer to just produce something that is barely functional, then you run the risk of encountering a website that has not been adequately tested. This can mean that there is code contained within it that is just not going to work smoothly leading to broken links and even worse if you are not careful.

There can be bugs and additional performance issues that have a negative impact on the way in which the website works. This will hardly be something that will then appeal to the visitors who will be expecting something smooth and functional without having to screw their eyes up wondering what on earth they are trying to look at.

Also, additional pressure to get a design completed will lead to poor choice of colors or fonts. There could potentially be a mix of images at various sizes and resolutions that are difficult to comprehend.

It is a real mess. But it gets worse.

Bad Design from a Business Point of View.

We have only really hinted at the mess it can make from a technical point of view, but you are probably more concerned about the business aspect. Well, as you might expect, it’s bad news.

It has been shown that bad design leads to you effectively bleeding business. Visitors to your website see the poor design and are instantly put off. They view you as just not being too concerned with the fabric of your website, and this is then translated into the fabric of everything else that you do.

It does not inspire confidence in what you offer, and trust can be gone in an instant. This break in trust is especially true when they know that your competition has a plush website that works and delivers everything that they would expect.

Think of it this way. Poor design often means that things are all over the place. Nobody knows where to look or what message you are trying to portray. Think about how you would react if you walked into a real store expecting something that is functional and able to provide you with the product or service you need, only to be encountered with boxes all over the place and broken windows.

What would you think? The chances are you would walk away.

Also, if you do rush out a new website, there is a pretty good chance that you will end up spending more money and more time trying to rectify everything later on. Is it not worth you spending that time correctly from the outset than trying to repair a giant hole in the future? By then, the damage has mainly been done, so it’s not exactly worth taking that chance, is it?

Finally, and this should come as no surprise, your sales will drop accordingly. As we said, nobody is going to feel excited about buying from you if their first impressions are poor thanks to the bad design.

It is known that a healthy percentage of buyers will make their decision from the moment they set eyes on the website. If your shop front looks as if it has been looted, then people will run away and spend their money elsewhere. All of this just comes from your reluctance to give your designer the correct amount of time to do their job correctly.

Overall, what we are really saying is that this is a problem with planning. A problem with arranging your time and setting out to have a website designed well in advance. This allows for the correct research and development to take place before everything is revealed to the world. Things will work smoothly, and your visitors will love what they see leading to a boost in your sales rather than you committing some form of commercial suicide.

seo-checklist-webfootA new website has many problems to overcome. First, everybody else is way ahead of you, so you are going to have a mountain to climb just to get noticed. Second of all, there is the issue of SEO and simply not appearing anywhere on the radar. You may have even sat and thought about your potential budget, and yet there are often fears that it will not be enough to make a difference.

So, how do you deal with this situation without getting too depressed about it all?

Well, for us, the first port of call has to be establishing the appropriate SEO checklist for a brand new website. Yes, we just believe that there should be a number of different things that you do to really jump start your SEO campaign even though it may potentially be some time before you notice any difference in your rankings.

  1. Set Up Google Analytics.

To kick things off, we strongly recommend setting up Google Analytics. This is where you will be able to look at all kinds of useful information connected to traffic and also conversion rates. This can be done even before your website is fully launched, so if there is a landing page, then get it added so you can get to grips with the data that you will then be receiving.

  1. Google Search Console Verification.

Google search console is a completely free tool, so as it is going to cost you nothing then there is no reason for you to not go and sign up to it. By doing so, you will then be able to see how the different search engines actually view your website allowing you to then tweak your SEO campaigns in order to be viewed in a more favorable light.

  1. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile Friendly.

Google is pushing mobile friendly websites, and if you are unsure as to whether or not your website is fine, then you might want to check out their mobile friendly test. This is available via the webmaster tools on Google, so you are going to need to sign up there and run your site. It will let you know if there are any issues that you then need to tackle before Google penalizes you.

  1. Check Out Your Page Speed.

Page speed is not only a huge factor when it comes to SEO, but also in the way that people view your website with there being a reluctance to hang around while something loads. This means the bounce rate for your website can be high, so it makes sense to counteract this as much as possible. For this, look at using Google Page Speed Insights via their developer tools, and you are going to ideally want to have something rated at 80+.

  1. Get to Grips with Your Keyword Analysis.

Keywords remain a huge part of any SEO campaign, so you need to make sure that you understand the role played by keyword analysis before you go any further. Search for niches, use Google Keyword Planner, and even check out the likes of Quora and Wikipedia for additional ideas of keywords. Also, remember to check the competition as this can determine the phrases that you will be aiming for due to the potential costs that will be involved.

  1. Learn About Title Tags.

Even with all of the different changes to the search algorithm, one of the things that Google still loves has to be the title tag. With this, you need to include the keyword to really make it count, but at the same time it still has to make sense and relate to what comes below or else you lose the power that it held over the page.

  1. Think About Outbound Links.

Outbound links are huge when it comes to SEO, but at the same time there is a very real need for you to be aware that the type of links and where they point to are just as important. You want to focus on authority websites as much as possible as you get more ‘juice’ in return for those links, so don’t fall into the trap of just linking out to anywhere or you could be wasting your time.

  1. Study the Backlinks of Your Competitor.

Finally, backlinks are important as they do largely determine where you appear on those search engine pages. However, you can be clever and spend some time studying the backlinks that your competitors have managed to accumulate allowing you to know the number, and also where they are pointing to. This information will then prove to be useful in any SEO strategy as you will know what you are up against in order to then beat them.

There are a whole host of different options and things that a new website should be prepared to do as part of their SEO campaign. However, there are certainly enough things to go on at this moment in time, and if you successfully implement them, then you can perhaps consider moving onto other areas to improve your position even further.

anchor-text-imageThe use of anchor text is nothing new, but the rules as to what can appear in it have certainly changed over the years. As a result, a number of websites are falling foul of these changes leading to their websites being punished and being sent tumbling down the results pages practically overnight.

That in itself is soul destroying for the owner of the website. On most occasions, there is even an inability to understand what went wrong with them frantically searching for an answer.

Now, we don’t want that to happen to you as the stress it causes is huge. So, how can you avoid it? Well, the answer is so much easier than you perhaps thought as it is all to do with the information that you have included in your anchor text.

What is Anchor Text?

Let’s kick things off by looking at what anchor text is according to the laws of SEO. The simple explanation is that it is the text that is visible in what is actually a hyperlink to another page of the website, or another website entirely.

In other words, you can often see them as the words will be blue to mark them out as being different from the rest of the text, or else nobody would click on them.

But, here’s the thing. There is a need for you to be aware of the things that you can and cannot put on these links before Google starts to complain and punish your website for breaking some of the rules that you are supposed to follow.

Why it is Important for Search Engines.

So, why is this text so important for the search engines? Surely the overall content is more important to them?

Well, this is not about determining what is more important. Instead, it’s about doing things in the way that is going to be most beneficial to you and your website.

With anchor text, the search engines use it to determine what your website is all about. They also use it to determine how people view your website, and as you are in control of the text that is used for these links, it does mean that you have a lot of power in your hands even though you may not have previously been aware of it.

What happens is that other websites that may want to link to you will view these links, so you have to make sure that they are relevant, useful, and descriptive. These links can determine the relevance factor of a page, and if your content is then regarded in this way, then that can only be a good thing for your ranking.

Things to Avoid.

We have given a brief description of why this anchor text is so important, but there is still a need for us to guide you away from making various mistakes that could hamper the way in which your website is viewed.

The first thing to avoid is making the anchor text too keyword heavy. This is hated by Google, and they will treat it in such a way that you know this is something to be avoided at all costs.

The text should also be succinct. Long and rambling anchor text is also frowned upon, so keep things as short as possible and you will be viewed in a far more favorable light as a result.

Linking to the wrong page is another thing to avoid. You cannot mislead people by having anchor text that says one thing, which they then expect to find, and yet you then send them elsewhere. This is similar to a form of entrapment, and you will also have your website punished because of this, so don’t do it at any point.

You should also avoid having too many of these anchor texts on the one page. This comes across as something similar to spamming, and it changes the impression that people have of your website, which is something that you just do not want to happen. Limit yourself to only using them when it is correct to do so and where it actually adds something to the experience of the individual that is visiting your website.

Anchor text is here to stay, but you cannot just use it in any way that you want. Google do have a firm understanding of what it is that they are looking for with this, so you have to make sure that you fall within those parameters, or you will have to deal with your punishment.

Use them wisely to enhance the experience that people have when they visit your website. Never overdo it, or you will turn people away, and who wants that to happen with their site?

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