Benefits of Working with a Designer with a Proven Process
May 2, 2019
A business is most successful when your brand is professional and held to a high standard. Although it is possible to hire someone internally or create your own designs yourself, it is extremely beneficial to invest in an experienced designer. In order to effectively manage your brand and grow your business, here are 3 ways working with a designer with a proven process can greatly benefit your business.
1. Has a Proven Track Record
First, finding a designer who has the expertise and has a proven track record will result in a greater chance of success for your marketing materials. Utilizing this experienced designer will help you to feel a sense of security knowing that your designs will be professional and done right. This nearly guaranteed success is necessary because there is a lot on the line when it comes to a brand. Often times, marketing material such as the website is the first impression a customer has on your brand. Having a professionally designed site and other marketing collateral will make sure you leave a lasting positive impact on your targets. According to Matrix Marketing Group, an agency provides an outside perspective on your brand that an in-house marketer would not have. Having an unbiased view is a good thing because it brings about a view that is more customer-based rather than a one-sided, internal business view. A marketing agency is able to focus on what your target customer wants and create visuals that communicate with them.
2. Creates Quality Work
Next, when you pay for a designer you’re paying to receive their quality work. Not only will this look good, it will also save you a lot of time and money overall. Rather than spending an overwhelming amount of time attempting to create designs for your business internally, a design firm will be certain to get it right the first time and in much less time that it would have taken to do it yourself. As explained by Arc Reactions, a marketing agency does not just create your designs; it also provides you with “tested and trusted strategies and access to advanced technology.” Agencies can help your business keep up with the latest trends and rules since it is difficult to stay on track on your own. Additionally, an agency only requires one fixed cost, which can often be a smarter choice than putting time and money towards marketing employees.
3. Brings a Return on Investment
Lastly, professional designs may come at a price, but the investment will be worth it in the long run. By paying for a professional design, you’ll eventually get a return on your investment. For example, our client, Madison Urban Ministry, saw a significant increase in donations when we implemented the redesign of their website. In a short time, MUM was able to make back the money spent on their designs and continue to bring in even more revenue. Hiring a marketing agency means that you do not need to invest in training or invest in software. Since a marketing agency already has the necessary resources, it is one less large investment your company would need to make. This is proven time and time again to create successful designs which will result in the best financial benefits for your company.
Overall, it is clear that working with a designer with a proven process will help your business in many ways. A good image is important in order to reach more consumers, to allow for customers to connect with and trust your business, and to show credibility. A designer will create a successful image with ease. Professional designs bring a greater chance of success, are high quality, and create a return on investment. A designer with a proven process is sure to be extremely worthwhile for any business, allowing you to grow your business and focus on what you do best!
April 4, 2019
When it comes to a business, there are a lot of essential aspects that must be taken into account. One of the most important parts of a business is its website. A website must be high-quality in order to leave a good first impression on customers and to effectively represent your company. In order to create the most ideal site for your business, here are the five major website mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Limited Visibility of Information
While Websites have gotten longer in length and screens resolution have gotten greater, it important to remember that there are so many different screens and resolution. 4k monitors and newer laptops have allowed users to see more of a website, but not everyone has a 4K monitor or a screen with big resolutions. Remember customers will come to your website with certain goals in mind; most often, customers will be searching for information. A customer who is looking for information will not want to spend more time than necessary retrieving that information. It is important to make sure your site is formatted in a way that allows customers to find information quickly and easily. In addition, ensure that your website has a proper fold. It needs to be noticeable that there is content underneath the part of the site that is immediately visible without scrolling. An article from Optimizely explained how most viewer attention will be focused above the website fold, no matter how you design your website. With an appropriate website fold, customers will scroll down and view all of the information on a page.
2. Endless Scrolling
Having to dig through the clutter in order to reach important information on a website can be frustrating to visitors. An article from the Nielson Norman Group explained how endless scrolling can be especially harmful to a site that is goal-oriented. For example, a customer may come to a website hoping to view information located in the footer. The footer commonly contains important details, such as contact information, and should be easily accessible. A common mistake that often results in endless scrolling is a one-page design. By placing all of the content on one page, a customer may feel overwhelmed or tricked scrolling through the site not knowing when they will reach the bottom. Endless scrolling is similar to a Midwest winter. Just as people do not enjoy the never-ending freezing temperatures, they would not like to be endlessly scrolling through a website either.
3. Putting Features Over Fuctionality
A website needs to be unique in order to stand out amongst competitors. Implementing innovative features can be very positive in many situations, but also comes with downfalls that are important to avoid. First, if features compromise functionality, customers will not understand how to navigate your site. If a user cannot navigate your website effectively, they will simply leave the site and look elsewhere. Next, if features are too innovative it may be difficult to adapt to older technology as some technology may not be compatible. For example, many people use older browsers or an older computer. It is important to keep this in mind in order to not compromise load time or user experience. Be careful to only include features that are functional and strengthen the site, rather than diminish its quality.
4. Preloaders When You Website is Taking Longer to Load
When thinking of a way to inform customers that website content is still loading, websites often utilize preloaders. While preloaders could be an acceptable addition to a site in certain cases, it is not recommended to use them in cases that a website take more than three seconds to load to keep the visitor engaged. In our IH5 Web Principles, we talk about the importance of people needing to get information quickly. Keeping your customer waiting may cost you in the long run. Your website should load quickly to eliminate the need for a preloader. In order to keep bounce rates down, make sure your website is fast and functional.
5. Hamburger Menu in Place of Menu Bar
The first thing a customer will notice on your site is the design and the layout. Having a standard menu bar is essential to maintaining the functionality of the site. According to News Style Digital, some companies choose to integrate a hamburger menu on desktop websites, which does not do the site justice. Hamburger menus can lead to confusion, inconsistency, and lower web conversions. A hamburger menu is acceptable for a mobile site, but standard navigation should be used for desktop sites in order to provide the best user experience.
6. Responsive Design that Doesn’t Take Smartphone User Habits into Account
A final and extremely significant design aspect is adapting your site to mobile devices. This tip is important to remember when creating a site, as mobile websites are viewed almost as frequently as desktop sites. ShivarWeb explained that your mobile site needs to not just fit the screen properly, but also needs to be “user-friendly” for all mobile users. Since 63% of all web traffic is coming from mobile devices, it is essential to take the mobile user experience into consideration in the design and functionality of your site.
An effective website is crucial to bringing in more customers and more sales overall. Avoiding a website with limited visibility, non-functional features, endless scrolling, preloaders, hamburger menus, and improper responsive design will significantly benefit your business in the long run. When building your website, avoid these common website mistakes to ensure your web presence is strong and will put you on the path to a successful business.
There are always exciting things happening in the graphic design world, and this year will be no different. There will be some returning trends, as well as some new styles, so keep reading to learn the 9 major graphic design trends for 2019.
1. Art Deco
When designing a logo, such as this cover photo, there are many paths you can take. In 2019, the modern and elegant styles that were seen in the 1920s are making a comeback. With so many classic yet fancy aspects, such as detailed line symmetry and shiny colors, art deco designs will be a staple for logos this year.
2. Vivid Color
Get ready for a bright and colorful year! Pops of vivid color will be seen in graphic design. Bring light, fun, and joy to your designs by adding vivid colors to your palette. Apple has shown to utilize this trend in many designs, such as the iPhone XR advertisements. By using pops of vivid color, your designs will outshine others and make sure to remain memorable.
For a different version of the vivid color trend, duotones and gradients will continue to be a staple this year, but with a twist. Rather than just using a gradient as a simple background as seen in years past, gradients will be seen in many various forms and contexts this year. Utilize a duotone gradient in specific parts of your graphic or even over an entire photo. The creative possibilities are endless!
4. Custom Illustrations
Looking for a way to channel your creativity in a unique way? Look no further than hand-drawn illustrations for your company. Custom illustrations can range from being delicate and simple to dynamic and complex, really showcasing your originality and helping you stand out. Airbnb does an excellent job at creating these drawings, as seen in a blog image below. Custom illustrations can take your company to the next level this year.
5. Typographic Focal Points (with Buxom Serifs)
2019 is all about standing out. Bold fonts will dominate graphics, showcasing as the focal point of a piece. These fonts include 3D fonts as well as the big return of the serif font. For example, the Jeep ad below grabs the audience’s attention with the words “Stay” and “Go.” Rather than placing any writing to the side of a graphic, utilize a bold font as the main aspect of your design and clearly get your message across.
6. Authentic Stock Photos
This year, graphic design is moving away from “perfectly polished” photographs and sticking with the more genuine and authentic stock photos. Authentic photos help a lot by connecting with customers and telling a story about your brand. For example, we decided to stray from the “ideal” body type for a company photoshoot in order to remain genuine. People are not using the same stock photo that has been used 100 times already. This is an opportunity to show that your company is unique and genuine.
7. Light/Dark Schemes
Remaining versatile with your designs is very important. Being able to create both light and dark color schemes, such as on a poster, can really go a long way. It is hard to fit all scenarios with just one color scheme, so why not provide both? This simple trick will create flexibility and help your designs to stand out in many situations.
8. Open Compositions
Open compositions help to create strong designs while leaving room for a lot of imagination. By embracing white space and eliminating boxes or frames, open compositions allow designs to be more free and powerful. For example, this open composition ad for Nivea night cream is minimal yet so effective. These open designs are sure to leave your customers interested and wanting more.
9. Isometric Designs
Isometric design is such an interesting, yet simple design trend to follow this year. Transform an icon by creating depth with isometric designs. Flat images can become boring after a while, but transforming objects from a 2D plane to a 3D space can liven up any icon.
2019 is going to be a very unique and interesting year for graphic design. There is so much room for creativity and so many different possibilities for designs. Whether you choose to implement a trendy color scheme, utilize custom photos or illustrations, update your logo or font style, or add openness and depth to designs, you will certainly be successful. Follow these trends and your designs will be sure to stand out to consumers.
What Not to Do in Branding: Follow These And You’ll Make an Impact
February 11, 2019
Perfecting a brand is extremely important to any organization. A brand is a first impression connecting your audience to your organization. When it comes to a brand, a company must keep several components in mind. There is a lot you can do to help boost your brand reception, but there are specific things to avoid. Here are our 5 things to avoid in branding:
1. Calling Branding Done at the Logo
A logo and a corporate identity are just one part of your overall brand. Branding takes on a much larger concept. In general, your brand encompasses who you are, what you stand for, and what you believe in. In a previous IH Concepts blog “5 Things for Businesses to Consider When Developing a Brand”, we discussed 5 key points in branding which include telling your story, keeping your audience in mind, being memorable and recognizable, staying current, and keeping it consistent. Your brand needs to have a purpose and represent your values. Achieving these aspects will show credibility, connecting your business to your target audience. For example, when customers view the Nike swoosh symbol, it is common that they associate it with the “just do it” empowering message Nike strives to promote. As a result, Nike continues to attract people who support the company. Finding your mission, determining your why, crafting your message, positioning your company, and then designing your logo will lead to success.
2. Overdoing Your Logo
Thorough research from BusinessBlogs Hub has shown that when it comes to a logo, staying simple is key. Creating a simple logo that does not have too many colors, objects, or words keeps your visual message concise to draw in your audience. For example, the McDonald’s arches logo and the Target bullseye logo have remained so effective over time due to the straightforward designs and minimal colors. Successful organizations are following the trend of simplicity in order to remain more memorable, provide more clarity to customers, and make sure that people will continue to come back. Creating a logo that can be easily recognized and recalled will leave a lasting impact on customers.
3. Designing or rebranding without purpose
Considering if and when to change your logo requires thought and rational. Examining how this change in identity would impact your company is important. When deciding whether it is appropriate to rebrand, it is important to pause and ask yourself why you want to do this, what you would change, and how your current audience would react to the change. It is important to avoid making a change just because a competitor may be doing it or because of a current trend. If you are creating a new organization, designing with purpose can ensure that you will be meeting your goals and doing it right the first time. This will result in credibility and give your organization the highest possible impact.
4. Going the cheap route
Logos should be unique in order to stand out, but most importantly to avoid trademark disputes. Creating a logo is going to be one of the most important decisions you make for your organization. It is necessary to keep this in mind over choosing the quickest or least expensive option. With many logo makers available such as Wix, many businesses are starting to navigate towards these alternatives because they appear inexpensive. However, this route can be more expensive in the long run. For example, two well-known companies, HealthPartners and Sam’s Club, experienced a trademark logo dispute because their logos were too similar, as discussed in an article on StarTribune. Finding that one-of-a-kind logo can assure you steer clear of similar trademark disputes. Just like McDonald’s logo finds success in its simple design, it is also known to be completely unique of all other brands. A logo needs to clearly represent who you are, making it an extremely important investment that should be handled with careful consideration.
5. Overlooking trademark research
When it comes to research, it is smart to use an attorney depending on how big you want your organization to grow. In an article on Belmont Vision, it was discussed how Baylor University and Belmont University experienced trademark disputes because of the similarities between their logos. Being in a trademark dispute can often be very costly in attorney fees and wasted marketing efforts. In order to avoid a situation like this, do the research ahead of time and consider an attorney. Think about where you will be in the future and how far you want to grow. Thorough research is necessary to protect your brand and your reputation for years to come. A business is a significant investment in both time and money. While putting in the proper steps is an upfront investment, it will be worth it in the long run.
When you foster a brand that represents your values and goals, you can leave an impact on customers for years to come. Your brand is what represents your company and the perception you want to leave your customers. Looking at the whole picture of branding, keeping your logo simple, having a design plan, investing in your brand, and taking the proper steps to protect your brand will put you on the path to success and create an impact with your audience.
Attracting Customers vs Retaining Customers – How to Master Both
December 4, 2018
Attracting customers can be a challenge, especially online, where people have a wide range of options to choose from. In order to attract and keep more customers online, a small business owner must be familiar with how customers behave online and how they react to branding changes. In this article, we will examine consumer behavior and offer insight on how businesses can use strategic branding to attract and retain customers.
Attracting New Customers
When marketing towards new customers, a business must make a strong first impression. A study by Liu, White and Dumais found that users become less likely to leave a website the longer they stay on it. As Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group says “The probability of leaving is very high during [the] first few seconds because users are extremely skeptical, having suffered countless poorly designed web pages in the past” Following these critical first ten seconds or so, the user becomes less likely to leave the page. Though many users leave the page after 20 or 30 seconds, by this time the chance of leaving has roughly leveled out and is far lower than during the first few seconds.
What should you do about the high bounce rate at a time when your potential customers are just getting to know your brand? Jakob Nielsen says you must find a way to communicate your value proposition to the visitors before they can leave. To attract new customers, your homepage should communicate who you are and why you are the best option for your customer in ten seconds. For the Madison websites and other area websites that we work, we take extra time to develop those features that customers will likely see first: the logo, tagline, and your mission statement. It may help to partner with a web graphic designer or several graphic design companies to provide services such as custom logo design.
To attract new customers, you should focus on branding that is immediately appealing. To retain customers, on the other hand, you should brand with consistency in mind.
You should aim first and foremost to be consistent in your values. If your first customers came to you because you offered excellent service, your service and care for your customers should be emphasized in your advertisements, publications, and media posts. This way, you will keep your returning customers happy by staying true to the characteristics of your brand that have already proven to be helpful.
Other elements that contribute to your brand identity such as visuals and the selection of goods and services you offer are more open to change. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to know when something constitutes a major change in values. Consider Volvo as a case study for change done both well and poorly.
Prior to the 1990s, Volvo had built a reputation for making safe and reliable cars. Then in the 1990s, the company began offering slightly more sporty and luxurious vehicles. According to Eric Friedman, owner of an ad agency that worked with Volvo in the 1990s and a content contributor on Jalopnik car blog, Volvo at the time “looked at abandoning safety as a message, but it was deemed integral to their DNA, so instead they doubled down. The ads started to show people living wonderful lives where they relied on the car to get them where they needed to go, safely.” This is an example of a shift in branding that expands a company’s reach without alienating old customers. Volvo still offered the features that they had built their reputation on safety, manual transmission, fuel efficiency. But they were able to attract an entirely new demographic by advertising their cars as both powerful and safe. They altered how their cars looked to stay current and expanded the type of product offered, but their original values remained central to their branding approach.
Following an acquisition by Ford in 2000, Volvo ads began to focus more and more on the cars’ luxury and performance, and less on the safety features. Some models were also less fuel-efficient. The company attempted to attract luxury buyers, but it was a case of too much, too soon. The change alienated some of Volvo’s most loyal customers, and though sales have rebounded since the recession, Volvo lost their core values in the process. Edmunds.com analysist Michelle Krebs commented on the topic “Many companies have more safety features than Volvo does, so they can’t own that anymore. Same with durability. The average car on the road today is over 10 years old — which speaks volumes to the quality improvements made by the industry. So what is their niche? It’s hard for them to compete in the luxury world with Mercedes and BMW.”.
Customers value consistency and trustworthiness. Therefore, always take caution when making changes, and ensure that they fit your values. This becomes easier the more connected you are with your customer base, who can provide feedback, and will in turn appreciate your attention. Establish a Loyalty program, listen, test changes gradually, promote your core values, allow for and read reviews online, maintain an active social media, and share your appreciation with your customers.
When attracting new customers, you should aim to make your information easily accessible. Be able to communicate your value in a short amount of time. With return customers, cultivate consistency – everything should come back to your core values. The same values that the new customer learns about the first time they see your homepage should be part of their experience as return customers. If you follow these guidelines, you will be well-positioned to build a loyal, wide-ranging, ever-expanding customer base.
November 2, 2018
If your website was an employee of yours, what would you want out of it? You should consider this question during your web design and development process. A good website handles a set of responsibilities much the way an employee does, and helps other employees in the process. Your website should likewise be a valuable part of your team.
Websites are important because they can help you reach more people. every time a potential customer or a current customer visits your website, he or she is trying to obtain information about your business. Your website may be the first representative of your company that customers interact with. Therefore, your website must be functional and have a presentation that is professional. People tend to remember bad websites and won’t return to a website they didn’t like, so having a website that represents your business in a professional manner is extremely important. The following are characteristics that your website must have in order to be working for you.
Ease of use
Your website needs to have everything the customer is looking for and be easy to use. Customers want all relevant information to be easy to find so they can find what they came for. Being informative is key to success. A customer should be able to find the answers to any questions they may have on the website; they should be able to learn about your business. The information they seek should also be easy to find because as a business, you want your customers to be informed and content with their time spent on your website. Like an employee providing information to customers, your website should be reliable and personable. The more reliable your website is, the more people will want to come back to it to do business.
Once you have established a professional website that is reliable and provides the information that users are looking for, building trust with returning visitors is an important next step. Why should you be so concerned about having customers return? Return customers comprise a huge portion of the average small business’s sales. If you miss out on a repeat customer, you miss out on revenue.
Trust and brand loyalty are created through strong relationships with customers. Think about which characteristics lead you to trust someone For one, being knowledgeable is makes someone more trustworthy. The best websites are trustworthy in this regard; they provide information. Your website should be informative. Also, when customers form trust towards your business, you build brand loyalty. Since they trust you, they trust your brand. Every time they see your logo or visit your website, customers will have this prior positive attitude towards your brand. This positive association will make them more likely to think of your when they need your type of good or service. This will lead to higher sales and revenue.
Strong Sales Capabilities
The last but very important characteristic your website needs is a capability in sales. An important way that your website can work for you is not only by developing your customer base but also by generating direct sales. The website needs to be an extension of your sales staff.
When a potential customer comes upon your website, they have seen that it is reliable and trustworthy. Now, they want to buy your product or service. To help facilitate closing sales, calls to action are important. Giving customers frequent opportunities to purchase or contact your company are an important part of any well-designed website.
After you have created your website and improved its sales conversion abilities, let it officially work for you! You can sit back while the website informs customers and makes sales. It is like having another salesperson on your staff without actually having to pay them. The revenue for your business will soar.
It is clear that a business should have their website working for them. It is more likely that the first time a customer encounters your business, it will be online. That is why you need a professional website design that shows customers that you mean business. They should be able to get all the relevant information about your business on the website. The site should be an employee: knowledgeable, easy to work with, and sales-driven. If your website can follow these guidelines and leave customers satisfied, your brand will grow!
4 Reasons that Operating a Mobile Website is Essential
October 19, 2018 77% of American adults now own smartphones. Consequently, more people than ever are likely to reach to their phones rather than their computers in order to visit your website. However, businesses frequently underestimate the importance of having a website that looks good on mobile devices.
In a recent article, we talked about mobile websites, and explained how they differ from desktop or “full” websites. In this article, we have gathered some of the best studies on mobile websites, and we have found that mobile websites aren’t just a nicety to be added when your company has the extra time and money to spend; they are an essential component of any business’s web presence. Here are four reasons why.
1. Mobile sites boost SEO and can improve conversion rates, as shown in this study.
According to a study, In November of 2015, footwear retailer Offspring launched a responsive mobile website, and saw a 15.19% increase in their mobile/tablet conversion rate. The company’s decision to go mobile also had an immense influence on their search engine rankings: their visibility on the first page of results increased by 77.59%.
Offspring’s switch to mobile shows how a mobile website can directly influence sales and brand visibility. Aside from a higher conversion rate, their redesigned website was in a better position to attract more customers.
2. Mobile web use is now more common than desktop web use
According to research firm Statcounter, mobile web use surpassed desktop web use worldwide in October 2016. Statcounter, which keeps data on page views to over 2 million different websites, recorded the type of device used in those visits and demographic location of the device used, among other information.
The ongoing study has revealed that U.S. web users now slightly favor mobile devices, such as tablets and phones, over desktop devices. And while desktop web use still constitutes a large portion of U.S. web visits, web users have trended towards mobile use in recent years, as is suggested by the next study.
3. Mobile website use is growing rapidly
A study by StoneTemple looked at 2.0 trillion web visits in 2017 compared to 1.9 trillion recorded in a 2016. In 2016, mobile use constituted 57%, of web visits. In 2017, the share had jumped to 63% of web visits, with desktop use constituting 37% of all visits.
Given the very drastic shift from desktop to mobile web use, some predict that websites as a whole will become primarily mobile-oriented. Eric Enge, General Manager of Perficient Digital, advises to design the mobile site first, and get the basics down, like contact info and product info. “Then you can figure out how to leverage the larger screen real estate available on a desktop platform as a second step,” he says.
In order to build a strong mobile website that is the basis of their web presence, small business owners without extensive web design experience will greatly benefit from partnering with a web designer or web development expert.
4. The amount of time spent on mobile sites also is growing
Examination of 513 trillion visit-seconds in the same 2017 StoneTemple study found that the average amount of time spent on any given mobile website is increasing. Though the average user still spends more time on the average desktop website than the average mobile website, mobile sites experienced a greater growth in average visit time than desktop websites did between the years of 2016 and 2017. It appears, therefore, that mobile websites are getting better at keeping visitors engaged.
When looking at the distribution of the 513 trillion visit-seconds in total, users spent 49%, or 251.37 trillion visit seconds, on mobile sites. The remaining 51%, or 261.63 trillion visit seconds, were on desktop. This roughly equal split, even though users spend less time on the average mobile website than the average desktop site, suggests that mobile users switch among websites more rapidly.
Therefore, it is especially important for a mobile website of a small business to be easy to use and have quick loading times, in order to bring in new customers who are used to spending less time on mobile sites.
As these studies suggest, mobile websites can really change how you do business. Though desktop websites are certainly important, especially for transactions, mobile websites communicate more effectively with the growing number of people who may be learning about your business while on their phone’s web browser. By making a greater investment in your mobile website, you can provide the best web design and web experience for your customers on all devices.
Desktop Websites, Mobile Websites and Mobile Apps: What’s the Difference?
September 5, 2018
One of the most common questions we get is “what is web design?” More specifically, many of our customers want to know the difference between websites and mobile apps. Read on to learn more about their differences so you start crafting the best website design and mobile app development for your brand.
A ‘full website’ refers to the website interface that shows up on a computer screen. Full websites can afford to take more risks in the type of information that they present on the page because of the larger screen size of a computer (as compared to a mobile device). For example, a website could have a rotating slideshow of examples of reviews or past work the company has done on the side of the screen. This would be less feasible on a mobile website, because it may hinder the user’s navigation.
Websites are an essential tool for attracting and engaging with customers. Chavan Mayur, marketing specialist and blogger at Medium, offers five reasons why websites can help your business run more smoothly. Some of these include: cost effectiveness (your website is a place you can advertise your business for little to no cost), customer service, and 24/7 display.
For our customers, such as our Madison web design clients, we base our design process around IH5 Web Principles. These are five guiding principles that collectively emphasize ease of use and unique, personalized design as the most important traits of a website. The best websites are able to convey the brand’s unique identity in tried-and-true web design layouts that users are familiar with.
“Mobile website” refers to a scaled design of the full website that adapts to smartphones, tablets or other mobile devices with internet access. Due to the smaller screen size of mobile devices, minimalist design is a characteristic of successful mobile websites, according to copywriter Victoria K. and web designer Anton S. of RubyGarage. Simple design is also of heightened importance on mobile websites because mobile users are often in a hurry. They will want the most important information, such as address or reviews, to be readily available.
Our IH5 Mobile Web Principles, much like our IH5 Web Principles, emphasize ease of use and branding via consistent design. One way that we provide these values is by working with web development experts and web graphic designer consultants who use software with responsive web design capabilities. Such styles of website are ideal because they allow maximum consistency across device types. Rather than having to design many different websites for different screen sizes, a responsive site fits to the device it appears on, thereby keeping layout styles consistent.
Apps are very popular in the business world for a number of reasons. Mainly, they provide an experience that is tailored directly to an operating system, and they are often more interactive and user-friendly than a mobile website is.
Many apps work great as a source of easily accessible information for the visitor, as they do not need to be connected to the internet to run. They also provide companies with more opportunities for engaging with their users because users can be notified of changes, promotions or new posts.
Apps must be submitted for approval to app stores before they can be downloaded. They also require effort and data on the part of the user, and will take up more space on their device’s screen. Therefore, customers will only want to download and keep an app on their phone if they have a reason to.
Apps are great for certain endeavors, such as coupon systems or engaging with a dedicated consumer base. However, apps are also a larger investment, usually costing more than web development and web design. So businesses should consider if they are in an industry that will support apps: for example, industries that rely on repeat customers might do better with a mobile app. And above all, businesses should ensure they are operating a top-notch website, social media presence, and mobile-format website before considering app development.
Full websites, mobile websites, and mobile apps each have their own share of benefits and disadvantages, and they each have slightly different functions. Full websites are the starting point for an online presence – a center of information that can double as a platform for marketing. Mobile websites offer the same information, with even greater emphasis on simple design and ease of use. And finally, mobile apps are a great way to connect with an already dedicated group of customers. They can also function as a promotional tool that fulfills a niche purpose, with a message that can be easily communicated to new customers. Be sure to keep these differences in mind as you develop your company’s online presence in order to best make use of each format’s strengths.
IH Concepts is a Madison-based graphic design firm. IH Concepts specializes in custom logo design, web development, mobile app development, and other graphic design services.
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General Data Protection Regulation: What You Need to Know to Be in Compliance
August 21, 2018
In May, the European Union passed the General Data Protection Regulation, a piece of legislation that places greater sanctions on what corporations can do when collecting web users’ personal data. The law requires companies to be more transparent about personal data collection.
The GDPR refers to ‘personal data’ as “any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified in particular by reference to an identifier.” This includes name, location, and other sensitive identification info. With the GDPR, consumers who are citizens of countries in the European Union can inquire about what data companies have collected on them, and ask those companies to delete the data, among other rights (for a full overview of the changes, see here).
These changes affect American businesspeople, even small business owners, because any company who does business with European citizens, or uses the data of European citizens in any way, must comply. And the ramifications are significant: noncompliance with privacy laws of the GDPR can result in a fine of up to $20 million, or 4% of the company’s global turnover for the previous year. Furthermore, U.S. states, such as California, have begun to adopt similar policies to safeguard the privacy of their citizens. It is estimated that more U.S. states will adopt similar policies, and that the EU’s GDPR will have a wide-reaching influence on the standards that businesses are held to regarding privacy protection.
Therefore, it is important that small businesses are upfront about their data use, as a means of good business that will benefit both the customer and the owner. Here are some steps to take to ensure clear communication and secure transfer of data.
State what data you are using from the customer and require customer consent
The new GDPR requires corporations to state in plain terms what type of data they are using from the visitor and how it will be use. Consent must also be easy to withdraw, in addition to give. For most websites who have begun to implement this, a pop up window at the top of the screen has been used to state the use of information, like cookies, and require consent before continuation onto the website.
Appoint a data protection officer if you handle large amounts of information, information pertaining to criminal convictions, or other special categories of data
According to Article 37, businesses must appoint a data protection officer if they handle certain types of information, like criminal records, religious affiliation, or large amounts of information. The data protection officer, per GDPR requirements, can be a staff member or external service provider. Consult with a legal advisor to see if your business’s data usage necessitates a data protection officer.
Notify when a breach of security occurs
When the security of data is compromised, businesses must notify customers and national authorities within 72 hours of first detecting the data breach. In the U.S., the data controllers office is the Federal Trade Commission, according to Jason Weinstein, a lawyer, data security expert and content writer at iapp.
Become SSL compliant
SSL stands for Single Socket Layer. This is a feature that protects the transmission of information as it is being sent from the user to your business. This way, cybercriminals cannot access the information.
The presence of SSL is indicated by a bar at the beginning of the URL, usually with a lock symbol (though it may differ depending on browser). It usually runs around $100-$200, an annual fee, with potentially more money required hire a web development expert to help you implement it. And SSL must be implemented with care in order to ensure that peoples’ search engine is being redirected to the new, secure URL. You can read more about SSL here.
Consult with a legal advisor
The above tips are a general outline of some of the ramifications of the GDPR’s latest changes. These tips are not meant to replace legal advice from an attorney, however. It is in your best interest as a business to consult a legal expert who can offer advice tailored the needs of your business.
The changes of the GDPR may seem overwhelming at first, and compliance will take some time and effort on the part of your business. However, complying with the GDPR does not just mean making changes just to fit predetermined criteria. The GDPR aims to make web usage a more pleasant, safe experience for consumers. By abiding by GDPR standards, you are taking another step in offering the best customer service to your web visitors. Knowing the rules of the GDPR and the reasoning behind its implementation will aid you not just in preventing potential legal disputes, but perhaps more importantly, in providing a safe and enjoyable web experience for all visitors.
4 Things You Need to Know About Single Socket Layer Security
August 7, 2018
With the ever-present threat of cybercriminals, customers on unprotected websites remain highly vulnerable to data theft. Cybercriminals are continuously looking for ways to take data while being sent from the customer to the business, says Tarun Sharma, content writer at ServerGuy.
At IH Concepts, we have taken steps to ensure the security of our customers: we are happy to announce that our website is now officially Single Socket Layer (SSL) certified! If you’re wondering what that means, you’re not alone – but you are also probably more familiar with SSL than you think. The following are a few pieces of information that will help you create a secure website.
1) What It Looks Like
Most people are familiar with the padlock symbol that shows up to the left of the web page address. This symbol indicates the presence of SSL. Websites with SSL also have a URL that begins with “https://”, with the “s” at the end standing for secure, as opposed to the standard “http://”.
2) What It Does
SSL is a web security measure that reduces the likelihood of personal data, such as credit card numbers or email addresses, being compromised. It does so in two ways.
First, the presence of SSL on a website is a certificate of authenticity. It signifies that the website is run by the individuals/company who claim to run it.
Second, SSL requires that all personal data be sent cryptically between the web user’s server and the hosting server that the website operates on. This prevents cybercriminals from taking that information when it is being sent between servers.
3) Why It Is Important for Small Businesses
If you handle online purchases, it is imperative to have SSL on your website. If you do not have SSL, you run the risk of having your customers’ data stolen.
SSL is also important for small businesses that do not handle credit card information. Cybercriminals can steal passwords, usernames, or information that your customers send to you through a chat service or email.
On Google Chrome 68, which was just released July 25, webpages without SSL automatically notify visitors that they are not secure. This will have a considerable influence on how many people will stay on your website.
When you implement SSL, the benefits extend beyond customer protection. For one, SSL provides a boost in search engine rankings, as search engines prioritize secure websites. You can also use the presence of SSL on your website to reassure visitors that your site is secure, therefore adding to your reputation as a trustworthy brand.
4) How to Implement SSL
SSL usually runs about $100-$200 annually and can be purchased directly from many domain hosting companies, as well as from third-party vendors. There are also packages that allow you to update multiple websites with SSL if need be.
At IH Concepts, we have recently finished outfitting our clients’ websites with SSL. Like many other elements of web development, updating a website with SSL is a process that extends far beyond paying the annual fee. We have gathered a few tips on how to outfit a website with SSL:
a. Be sure to modify your links in search engine results and on other webpages so that users are being directed to the new, secure site. You may need to work with a web development expert to ensure your links correspond with your website; we at IH Concepts worked with a web developer when outfitting our Madison web design clients with SSL.
b. Make sure that your HTaccess file is updated on the hosting server. This will redirect visitors to the correct link. Again, you should consult a web developer to ensure that this feature, along with others, is included correctly. Since web development is an investment, it is important to make sure that your SSL connection is implemented correctly.
With the preponderance of data use scandals in the news, as well as the inception of Chrome 68, web users have begun to pay more attention to the security of the websites they visit. Remember, however, that a secure website has countless benefits for both your customer and you. For example, it is a preventative measure, an SEO aide, and a sign of good customer service. And after adequate research and careful implementation, you will be ready to make the most of your SSL certificate.
IH Concepts is a Madison-based graphic design firm. IH Concepts specializes in custom logo design, web development, mobile app development, and other graphic design services.
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