877.799.9994   330.666.5164

A skilled graphic designer, Heather is responsible for the visual branding of Pilot Fish client websites.  Before joining Pilot Fish in 2000, she worked her design magic at DigiKnow, an Ohio-based web development firm. 

Keep Your Website Redesign Project on Track and within Budget

Problem: Not getting back with your web design company in a timely manner 

Solution: Be accessible.
Designing a website is a team effort and requires a lot of back-and-forth communication between the client and the design company. To keep your project on track and to secure your place in the production schedule, respondto questions, requests for materials and feedback, and gather approvals on your end in a timely manner.

Problem: Including decision-makers too late in the process, or not at all.

Solution: Involve all decision-makers early in the process and get feedback and approvals for design concepts and content before programming begins. Don’t sign off on design concepts until all important decision-makers have reviewed and agreed. Anyone and everyone that has an impact on the launch of the website should be involved throughout the ENTIRE process. Please do not sign off on any step unless you have gotten the go-ahead from each of these individuals. Not reviewing the design with all of the decision-makers almost always results in complex late-stage edit requests which have proven to be one of the most costly mistakes a client can make. For instance, if the nature of the edit requires a change in the structure of the site, the request could cost thousands to implement. These late-stage changes will undoubtedly throw your project off schedule and off budget.

Problem: Changing out images/sliders/headers

Solution: Know ahead of time which images you would like to use for all areas of the site.

Be specific about which images you would like to include on your website andassign those images to individual pages. Know that design work goes into editing each image and takes time to complete. If approved images have already been edited, cropped, uploaded and incorporated into the site, having to later replace those images could result in additional costs. The same is true, even more so, for header images and sliders, which are often custom-designed and could take a significant amount of time to recreate.

You can avoid having to swap out images late in the process by making careful image choices prior to the start of the design. Also, consult with your web designer about whether the images that you are considering are of a high enough quality to use on your website, or, whether you should hire a photographer for more professional-looking images.

Be sure to discuss your image choices with all of the parties involved in the website design before submitting those to the designer.

Problem: Late-stage design changes

Solution: Don’t sign off on designs prematurely.
This is one of the most crucial and costly mistakes that I have seen clients make. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to request all design edits before the site has reached the programming stage. So, that means, you will need to submit all of your final design edits before signing off on any design approvals. If you have officially signed off on the design, edit requests from this point on will most-likely affect the structure and programming of the design (and of the responsive design), which are often very costly. (Most minor text edits do not apply, unless they are part of an image, or affect the overall structure of the page.)

Problem: Waiting to review content till it’s on the website

Solution: Whether you write your own website content or have your web design/SEO firm write it, it’s important to have your company’s decision makers review and approve the content prior to building the site. Although most text changes are easy to make after the site has been built, some content may be incorporated into more complex graphics or website features that can be costly to edit later. Legal reviews should occur at the time the content has been written or early in the website review process so that the launch date isn’t impacted by waiting for a lawyer to give his/her blessing.  

For assistance in planning your company’s website redesign, contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

  1861 Hits
1861 Hits

Effective Website Redesign Starts with Materials Checklist

Once your company has made the decision that it’s time for a website redesign, it’s important to gather all the materials that your designer will need to start the project.  Putting extra effort up front to pull together the media and content will enable your designer to begin the website redesign process without delay. 

Also, giving your designer access to all available media that could be used for the site prior to starting the project helps the creative process and minimizes the possibility of major changes to the new design.  There’s nothing worse than having your designer create a new home page design and then find out there are several really good videos, PowerPoints or images that could have been and possibly should have been incorporated into the design. 

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  1807 Hits
1807 Hits

Three Costly Mistakes to Avoid when Developing Your Website

It’s easy to let the cost of any project – including a new website – get out of hand. But a few simple precautions can prevent such a disaster. Below are three notable mistakes to avoid during the website development process to help you remain within your website design budget.

1. Including decision-makers too late in the process

Putting off the purchase of an SEO package will save you money now, but you will be losing out on the necessary promotion of your website and on opportunities for business in the future.

Starting with the decision to purchase a design-and-SEO package all the way through the website launch, it is necessary to include all decision-makers who have any say in your company’s website. Through many steps of the development process, you will be asked for sign-offs and approvals. Be sure to consult all of the decision-makers before approving each of these steps and before getting back your web developer with edit requests.

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  1635 Hits
1635 Hits

Adapting to Responsive Design

Responsive web design is a great solution for creating a site that is adaptable to any device, large or small. However, since there is less real estate to work with on smaller devices, some additional measures have to be taken to in order to make your responsive design uncomplicated and user-friendly while still getting your message across.

Fortunately, there are some decisions that you can make about which website elements are visible and how information is arranged for the smaller devices. And, this can be accomplished without compromising the integrity of the site in large, or in small format.

A beneficial aspect
of responsive web design is that it allows you to decide on the sequence of your site content.

So, if you are ready to make the switch to responsive design, here are some of the things that you should consider as your site transitions from a large screen to a small screen.

Reducing navigation
Navigation bars and buttons are commonly duplicated on websites that are made to fit larger screen resolutions, but, for the responsive website, you will have the option of hiding redundant or unneeded navigational elements to conserve real estate on the smaller screens. You may also consider including collapsible navigation bars as another option for conserving space.

 

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  2423 Hits
2423 Hits

What is the Quality of Your Image?

Even the most subtle errors in design regarding logo quality, spacing, and even paper choices can negatively affect how people react to your marketing efforts or correspondences.

I recently received a letter in the mail from a business that was claiming to represent my insurance company. The letter requested some personal information regarding a recent claim. Immediately, it gave off some red flags that caused me to question whether the letter was legitimate or a modern-day phishing scam.

After several phone calls to my insurance company, I finally learned that the company that sent the letter was, indeed, legitimate. But, the company was so poorly represented by their letter that one would never know it was actually a credible organization. The representative at my insurance company said that she’d received a number of calls asking about the validity of the letter but she wasn’t aware of the exact issue until I explained to her the unprofessional appearance of the correspondence.

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  1791 Hits
1791 Hits

Getting Your Website’s Navigation Back on Course

A website’s navigation is a roadmap to finding pertinent information, a product of interest, contact information, a form, a site’s shopping cart, or all of the above. But, whatever it is we, as visitors, are looking for, we want to find it as quickly and as easily as possible, no matter where it is we have entered a particular website. If we suddenly become lost or frustrated due to an insufficient navigational structure, we are most likely going to leave the site we are visiting to head to a site that is easier to maneuver.

The same is true for our own website. We want to be able to navigate, and more importantly, we want our customers to be able to navigate with ease and we want them to find exactly what they are looking for in a timely manner.

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  2004 Hits
2004 Hits

Blowing the Whistle on the Bells and Whistles (Why your website really doesn’t need all of the hot new technology)

Remember the days of the animated cursor? You know, when the little sparkly stars would follow your cursor around the page. Wheeeeeeee …… this is fuuunnnn!! It’s like a magic wand!! That was soooo cool, wasn’t it? Yeah, maybe for about five seconds. Then, the proverbial “magic” was gone. Those sparkly little stars became very annoying VERY quickly. “Abracadabra!!! How do I make these awful stars disappear??”

Or, how about the cursor that was shaped like a football or an animal or had an adorable little face? “Hey, check this out, my cursor has cute little eyeballs and TEETH. Awwww! Neato.” Well, soon that novelty, too, wore off and now it was time to do some serious browsing. “Hmmm, how do I get back to my plain old arrow cursor? Send out the search parties. I want him back!”

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  2427 Hits
2427 Hits

Website Design: Choosing the right colors for your website

Did you know that colors are proven to leave a lasting first impression and can subliminally affect your customers’ impression of your business? It’s true! Picture this:

... A vibrant, green forest.
... A pure, white, picturesque snow scene.
... A bright red sunset.
... A clear blue sky.

When thinking of these colorful scenes what emotions did you feel? Calmness? Intensity? Joy? Relaxation? How would you feel if these scenes were presented in a different color? Or in black and white? Just as colors in nature can evoke emotional responses, so can the colors of your website.

This invites the question: Is your website sending the right message? What are you trying to convey? Loyalty? Reliability? Perhaps your company is environmentally friendly and you’d like to spread that message. Or maybe all of the above apply to your company.

Successful color schemes play a large role in how your customers perceive your business identity and will create an overall positive experience for your customers.

To help you decide whether your website is relaying the right message, let’s first take a look at some of the most popular colors used in marketing, their meanings and what messages they are traditionally known to relay. Keep in mind, it is important to have the right balance and combination of colors in your website design in order to deliver an accurate message and elicit the intended response.

Red – The color red is very easily detected by the human eye. It represents action, determination and strength. It demands attention and stimulates buying.

If used in excess, red can be very overpowering to a page. It will provoke a sense of fear and give the user a feeling of anxiety.

Blue – Blue is a color favorite and, because it represents loyalty, dependability and stability, is one of the most popular colors used in marketing. It also gives the viewer a calm feeling and stimulates productivity.

In excess, blue can cause feelings of depression and gloom or loss of appetite.

Yellow – Yellow is very vibrant, easily seen by the eye and attracts attention. It symbolizes wealth, happiness and energy. It mentally stimulates customers, spurs attention and encourages communication.

In excess or coupled with black, yellow implies danger and leaves users feeling alarmed.

White – White is an expression of purity, simplicity and cleanliness. A good balance of white space will promote mental clarity leading the eye around the page and giving the mind a place to rest.

Too much white can leave a page looking vacant and boring and cause visitors to quickly lose interest in the page.

Green – The color green provides a strong representation of nature, durability and reliability. It gives visitors a feeling of relaxation and alleviates anxiety.

Choosing the wrong shade or using green in excess could imply wealth in a negative or pretentious manner.

Orange– Orange is another vibrant color. It conveys a feeling of energy, creativity and cheer. It stimulates activity and is known to remain in one’s long-term memory.

In excess, orange could make products seem inexpensive, which, depending on your intentions, could be a positive or negative. Shades of orange should be chosen carefully because they often clash with other colors.

Brown – Like green, brown symbolizes nature. It implies that a company is genuine and reliable and increases customer confidence.

Light shades of brown in excess could cause feelings of depression or sadness.

Gray – Shades of gray give the impression that your company is conservative, traditional and serious.

Having too much gray can leave a page looking flat and uninteresting and could decrease buying or customer interaction.

Black – Black is a color of sophistication, power and mystery.

In excess, black could mean evil, despair and symbolizes death. Used as a background, it’s also often hard on the eyes.

Now that you know what each color symbolizes, it’s time consider what message your website’s colors are relaying to your visitors. Is it accurate or is it time for a new website design?

Remember: Successful color schemes play a large role in how your customers perceive your business identity and will create an overall positive experience for your customers. Colors can help to strengthen your brand, establish tone and create a positive impact that will inevitably lead to more business. A good website designer will consider your overall image and help you select the right colors to convey your company’s message.

To learn more about what your website design is saying about your company or to talk about a redesign, contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

  2121 Hits
2121 Hits

Why it Might be Time to Redesign Your Website

Saying goodbye to an awful, outdated, ugly website is easy. If you can’t bear the looks of your site because the style is outdated or because the structure has fallen apart, making the decision to redesign is an obvious one. The hard part is saying goodbye to a website that you still actually like. But just because you still like your website, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s still functioning the way it should to achieve the best results.

So if you’re hanging on to a likable, but aging, website, here are some of the things you might be overlooking:

Promoting a new website is a great opportunity to reach out to your customers.
  • Your website technology is no longer current.
    Sure, not all of the latest technologies are going to be the perfect fit for your company, but taking the time to review what’s available and what will give you the best return on investment might not be a bad idea. For instance, if your visitors are viewing your site from a variety of devices, switching to responsive design (where the size of your website adapts to any device, large or small) might be a great investment for your company.
  • The style of your site is looking a little dated.
    It’s kind of like having a favorite “go-to” pair of jeans that you’ve had in your wardrobe for a while. There is a reason you bought them in the first place, and there is a reason you’ve been wearing them for so long. They fit you just right, and they are comfortable. Sure, you think they look fine, but they might be the reason your friends refuse to be seen with you in public. The same might be true of your website. You think it looks fine, and you’re used to it. But, others might be thinking that it’s time for you to say “Out with the old and in with the new.” Because, unlike that old pair of jeans, no matter how long you wait, those old website styles won’t be coming back around.
  • Your site has accumulated obsolete elements and features.
    Over time, you’ve added a few elements here and a few features there that are adding up and are making your site appear cluttered. Redesigning your site will give you an opportunity to reorganize everything that has been added since the last design was created. A new design will also allow you to restructure your navigation and will help to restore the balance of your website as a whole.
  • Your Search Engine Optimization has fallen by the wayside.
    Of course, you don’t have to redesign your website in order to adopt new ways of improving your SEO, but if you haven’t had the chance to keep up, this is a great opportunity to revamp this aspect of your site as well.
  • A new user experience is a great way to engage your audience.
    Promoting a new website is a great opportunity to reach out to your customers. You can gauge their interest by promoting the new site through email, blogs, press releases and social media and inviting them to view the new site once it has been launched. You can encourage additional interaction by asking for feedback on the new site.

If you’re still having a hard time letting go of your current website, please keep in mind that fresh ideas can be applied to many of the components that you like, making them brand new again.

Do you think you’re ready for a website redesign?  Contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

  2820 Hits
2820 Hits

Website Design: Managing TMI

Have you ever visited a website with the single purpose of purchasing a product, only to find that the website was so overloaded with information and so convoluted that you couldn’t figure out where to even begin your search?

I recently visited a very popular website with the purpose of updating some of my computer software.  When arriving at the home page, I found that the site was overwhelmingly packed with information. Too much information. There were so many images, so many navigation buttons and drop-downs (53 links under the first drop-down to be exact), and so many levels of hierarchy (font sizes, colors, anomalies, etc.) that my eyes immediately went crossed.

Every other page of the site was equally overwhelming and, frankly, annoying. If the product I was about to purchase wasn’t a necessity or if it was a product that I could have purchased elsewhere, I would have bailed immediately upon arriving at the homepage. I really thought that such a popular site would have been set up with a much simpler design and at least a trace of organization. Boy, was I wrong.

Ask your customers if your site is easy to use, whether they are able to quickly find what they are looking for and what can be improved for a better user experience.

After a lot of time and frustration, I was finally able to purchase what I needed. But this was no thanks to the website. I actually had to contact the company directly to get the answers to all of my questions. The website was no help to me at all.

After leaving the site, I needed a nap. I thought, “What a shame.”  I am pretty sure the website included everything that I needed — somewhere.  But the way the information was organized made it impossible to sift through and hard to even look at.

Of course, it wouldn’t be very productive to just complain about these problems without offering solutions that could possibly be useful to our clients. So I’ve since returned to the site to critique it and to decide what I would do differently to reorganize and rework the site to make the user experience more efficient and more pleasant. (Note: The name of the company will remain anonymous to protect the not-so-innocent.)

So, here is what I have come up with:

Problem:
Scattered information/poor sense of hierarchy

Solution:
Visitors should know where to look first, second, third, and so on. The first thing that you should see should be the most important element on the page. With the proper placement, sizing and color of page elements, this can be achieved, no matter how much information you have to share.  Delete irrelevant information.  After doing so, if you are still left with a lot of material, that’s OK, just make sure it is properly organized with the order of importance being a priority.

Problem:
Unruly navigation – 53 drop-down links under the first navigation button? Are you kidding me?

Solution:
Simplify your navigation. It sounds pretty obvious, but having too many buttons is a very common problem. If you think you have too many navigation buttons or drop-down menus, adopt a good system for organizing your buttons, such as breaking those navigations up into groups (a top nav, a side nav, etc.). Or try using sub-page navigations.

Make sure the buttons are easy to read and easy to click on. Avoid using multiple tiers of drop-down menus that are often very difficult to maneuver. (As you try to very carefully navigate your mouse across and down and across again, your mouse falls off the edge of a button and the drop-down disappears and you’re back to square one. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Ugh.)

Include a site map on your website and/or a search box so visitors can type in what they need and quickly arrive at their destination.

Problem:
Trouble finding and/or purchasing a product

Solution:
This is also directly related to hierarchy and/or navigation. Whether you have one product or service or 100 products and services, make sure there is always an easy way to find the product and description and a direct route to the final sale (getting there with as few clicks as possible). Perhaps it’s as simple as placing a “Buy Now” button next to your product image or a phone number on each page where customers can contact you. Instead of a wild goose chase to the product and checkout, make finding and purchasing a product easy and as simple of a process as possible.

One last suggestion would be to take some time to evaluate your own site. Think about the sites that you find easiest to utilize and what it is that makes those sites so user-friendly. Compare those sites to your own. Ask your customers if your site is easy to use, whether they are able to quickly find what they are looking for and what can be improved for a better user experience.

If you suspect your website is suffering from TMI, contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104 for a professional website evaluation.

  3031 Hits
3031 Hits

20 Questions to Ask Before Starting a B2B Website Redesign

If you've been involved in the design of your company's website, you probably already know how difficult it can be to convey the type of website design you want.

Website design is a matter of personal taste. What one person finds attractive and professional, you may not and vice versa. Oftentimes, what you want is a matter of "I'll know it when I see it," but unless your website designer is a mind reader, that's not enough information to assure you'll get what you visualized in your own head.

Below is a list of 20 questions to help you solidify in your own mind and communicate to your website designer the look and feel you believe would best represent your company.

Website Redesign Questions

  1. Do you prefer website designs that contain many different colors or designs that use fewer colors?
  2. Do you prefer bright colors or muted colors?
  3. Does your company have specific corporate colors? PMS Colors?
  4. Do you prefer website designs that have white backgrounds behind the text or colored backgrounds behind the text?
  5. Do you prefer sites with black type for the main text or those with colored type for the main text?
  6. Do you have any font preferences?
  7. Do you prefer website designs with a horizontal layout or a vertical layout?
  8. Regarding navigation, which button locations do you prefer - horizontal across the top, down the left or the right side, in blocks, or a combination of some horizontal and some vertical?
  9. Do you want a straightforward rendering of the logo, or would prefer something with more color gradation or artistic treatment?
  10. Does your company have a motto or tagline that should be incorporated into the design?
  11. If yes, do you prefer the site tagline in a straightforward, headline-style format or do you prefer a more stylized format?
  12. Some sites have faded terms related to their businesses embedded in images- Do you like this technique?
  13. Do you prefer sites with actual product images or those with stock photographs that evoke specific responses, such as a sense of dependability or professionalism?
  14. Do you prefer website designs with straightforward, realistic photographs of products or those that contain artistically altered images of products?
  15. Do you prefer to have your product images on the left side, along the top or down the right side?
  16. Are there any logos for industry quality, certification programs or association memberships that should be part of the site's design?
  17. Do you want your site to incorporate additional media, like slide shows or YouTube videos?
  18. Does your company have social media accounts that you would like to have linked from your site? 
  19. Who are your primary competitors?  Is there anything you like or don’t like about their sites?
  20. Do you have any favorite sites that do something well that could be incorporated on your company site?   
  21. Do you have any marketing materials you would like to have the site complement for brand continuity?

For assistance with your website redesign, contact Pilot Fish at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

  5625 Hits
5625 Hits