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Content Marketing for Engineers: The Converging Needs of Buyers and Sellers

Marketing surveys of industrial buyers and sellers show that content marketing is the key to bringing them together online.

There’s good news for industrial companies using their websites to generate leads. Two recent marketing research reports of buyers and two surveying sellers show a convergence in what industrial sellers want to happen with their websites and what industrial buyers look for when using the web for business-related buying. The common thread: Content.

What Sellers Want

In an Engineering.com survey of more than 100 engineering marketers, 44.4% of the companies surveyed said the biggest marketing challenge of 2016 is “needing more leads.”  Other challenges cited included:

When asked what their top marketing priorities are for 2016, 61% of the industrial companies said “lead generation” and 55% said “branding/awareness.”

Similarly, the Ascend2 2016 State of Digital Marketing report found that for 58% of the company’s surveyed, the most important digital goal this year is “increased lead generation,” followed by 48% who said “increase conversion rate,” and 44% who said “improve brand awareness.”

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2272 Hits

Solidify Your Brand with Professional Social Media Sites

No matter which platform you are on, casual or not, meaningful content can be overlooked if your brand identity is weak.

We all know that having a professional appearance is an important part of a marketing strategy that can help build credibility and trust with customers while distinguishing a company from its competitors. This aspect of branding should resonate throughout all areas of marketing, including social media. Establishing continuity across all marketing platforms is challenging, but can be accomplished with the proper use of professional photography, color and consistency in style.

It seems that many companies are on board with maximizing the appearance of their social media sites, but it is surprising that there are still some companies out there that aren’t taking advantage of such a considerable opportunity for fully and suitably promoting their brand. Although social media is often a conversational, casual and informal platform, it does hold a very significant weight in current marketing strategies that should not be taken lightly, and the appearance of these sites should not be neglected.

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1853 Hits

Why Cheap Website Hosting Costs More than You Think

Companies that choose the cheapest hosting providers can expect to pay for those savings in the form of lost potential business.

As a company that provides full-service web site design, development and search engine optimization services, it’s not uncommon for industrial businesses that have asked for a quote to want proceed with the core services we offer but scoff at website hosting.

After all, a buck is a buck, and if a company can save $20 or $30 a month by hosting it with a cheap national provider, why wouldn’t they do that?

From our 20 years of experience of saving clients from themselves, here’s a few reasons why:

1. Site Security and Maintenance – Hosting your site with an inexpensive hosting provider really only works if you have your own experienced, internal technical staff to keep up with the regular requirements of site software updates, security patches and other maintenance issues.

Sites built with common open-source Content Management Systems like WordPress and Joomla, regularly need to be checked for updates that fix bugs and protect sites from newly discovered vulnerabilities. A cheap hosting provider won't track notices issued by trade publications or software companies warning of possible issues that could impact your website (like this: http://www.thesempost.com/wordpress-plugin-admin-backdoor/) or provide technical assistance to keep your site up-to-date with the latest versions of your website or blog software.

Additionally, site performance issues caused by incompatibilities between the site’s CMS and server software can become a big headache to troubleshoot and fix since you won’t have access to or knowledge of the exact setup of the server your site is on. This can lead to many hours of a valuable technician’s time, which eats up any expected cost savings.

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1913 Hits

Your Website Redesign Begins with Research

Looking at other industry sites will give you a more vast selection of tone, style and design.

When designing or redesigning a website, it might seem overwhelming or difficult to articulate the details of how you would like your site to look. So, how do you describe the appearance of something that doesn’t exist? The easiest way to do this is through research and communication. Finding bits and pieces of elements that you like or dislike and providing your designer with this information is the first step to getting the look and functionality that you want in your website. Once you communicate these findings, your designer will assess all of your input and will produce a unique design to fit your company’s needs.

So, where should you begin?

1. Review your competitors’ sites.
Do you see something that gives other companies in your industry a competitive advantage or edge over your company? Do you like the way the information is presented on any of these sites? Is this done through the use of good photography, colors, fonts, or, all of the above? Or, do you hate everything about a particular site? Understanding your dislikes can be just as important as understanding your likes. Is the site difficult to navigate? Is there too much information on a page? Or, is the site perfect and you would really like to figure out a way to surpass the demonstration of quality with the innovativeness of your own website?

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1717 Hits

SEO Planning Saves Your Company Time and Money

Let me give you a good piece of SEO advice: learn from other peoples’ mistakes.

Yes, I do sound more like my mother every day. But that’s not the point.

The point is that Pilot Fish has been spending a good bit of time lately – and, even more to the point, our clients have been paying a good bit of their hard-earned cash lately – to fix problems that could have easily been avoided.

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1889 Hits

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.

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1732 Hits

Industrial SEO: Does your Website Content Appeal to Your Industrial Buyers?

The answer is quite simple: Industrial purchases typically present a longer sale cycle and the buyers need more detail.... In other words: Images compel, content sells.

Over that last several years there’s been an apparent shift in website design from a traditional text-driven layout to a more image-heavy format.   I guess many are buying into the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. 

People love pictures!  This strategy works great for consumer-based websites, where consumers buy with emotion, the brand is well known, the sale is just a click away or a quick drive to the nearest big box retailer.

So why are industrial and manufacturing companies failing with this new design approach?  The answer is quite simple: Industrial purchases typically present a longer sale cycle and the buyers need more detail.  Images as the main selling feature work best for consumer-oriented sales.  

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1356 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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1699 Hits

Open Source vs. Proprietary CMS – What you should know

More and more companies are opting to use a Content Management System (CMS), like Joomla, DotNetNuke or WordPress, when they redesign their site so that they can can add, edit and delete content on the fly.

But, before you jump in with both feet, it’s important to make a decision about whether you will use an open source CMS or a proprietary system.  Here’s where we can help.

It may not work with cooks and kitchens, but having many programmers who understand the underlying source code for your site is a good thing.

Open Source vs. Proprietary CMS – what’s the difference?

  1. Site Ownership – an Open Source CMS is one that has been developed with input from many programmers across the web-o-sphere with ownership of the code provided in the public domain.  A proprietary CMS is one that a specific web design firm has developed on their own with which they will build your site.  The key question to ask your prospective developer is “who will own the source code for your web site” if you choose to move your site to another web host.   An Open Source CMS like DotNetNuke, Joomla or WordPpress can easily be moved to other web hosts – you will own rights to your entire site.  But you might not own the underlying code for a site built in a Proprietary CMS, thus making it difficult or impossible to move should your web developer fall out of favor.
  2. Ease of Maintenance – As you know, Internet technology changes pretty fast (are we on IE 100.12 yet?) and with many different types of browsers in use, making sure your site functions properly in all of them can be a challenge.  Open Source CMS has the advantage of constantly being updated, with many developers contributing so that the technology will work appropriately in any new browsing environment.   With proprietary code, it’s up to your developer whether they update the code so that your site works across all platforms.  
  3. Many Hands – It may not work with cooks and kitchens, but having many programmers who understand the underlying source code for your site is a good thing.   With an Open Source CMS there are many developers who can assist you with site edits and updates should you dispatch your current developer.   That usually isn’t the case with a Proprietary CMS – the company that built it is generally the only one that can manage it without a huge learning curve by a different team.  
  4. Many Apps – One of the nicest advantages of using an Open Source CMS is that you can have your site built using applications already developed by someone else.  For sites that have a lot of different features and functionality, this can yield a big cost savings compared with doing a custom build.  Oftentimes with Open Source CMS, there are multiple modules available for the same function, but with different bells and whistles so that your developer can pick the ones best for your site.  A Proprietary CMS usually won’t have as many module options.
  5. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – Open Source CMS developers have keyed into the importance of sites ranking well on search engines, so each of the platforms offers special SEO modules that get your site started on the right foot.  As for Proprietary CMS platforms, depending on who built it and when, they may not provide the tools you’ll need to optimize your site properly.    

Pilot Fish offers site development and maintenance in several Open Source CMS platforms, including Joomla,WordPress and DotNetNuke.   We also can evaluate your existing proprietary CMS to determine whether we can host and/or update it for you.

Read more about our web design capabilities, or contact John Inama at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104 or fill out our form.

 

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5059 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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1527 Hits

4 Tips for Industrial Marketing on Pinterest

Pinterest. It’s not just for crafters anymore.

Manufacturers – including major corporations like GE and IBM – are incorporating the photo-curating website into their Internet marketing to improve their branding, funnel more traffic to their websites and boost their search engine optimization efforts.

A little planning and forethought can go a long way toward creating a successful corporate Pinterest account. Keep these tips in mind to get the most out of your efforts on Pinterest:

Sharing insights from other industry leaders is one of the best ways to build your audience’s trust

1. Showcase your products, first and foremost. Post as many product images as you can, but don’t just throw everything up there – cherry-pick the very best images that truly illustrate your products at their best. And remember to link each image to the corresponding product page on your website.

Example: Provia Products’ doors, windows, siding and manufactured stone

2. Offer business resources. Like any good marketing channel, Pinterest works best when it provides a tangible benefit to your target audience. White papers and how-to guides can be promoted via Pinterest, simply by uploading a cover image of the paper or guide and then linking to the appropriate file.

Example: Machine specs for centerless grinders from Total Grinding Solutions

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1714 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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2313 Hits

A Website Redesign for All the Right Reasons

Done right, a website redesign can accomplish a wide range of important goals:

  • Make it easier for site visitors to find the information they need
  • Illustrate more clearly the web site owner’s strengths and mission
  • Provide an opportunity to update information, ranging from product offerings to company history and contact details
  • Offer new features/online services for customers and prospects
  • Take advantage of the latest advances in website technology

ATL, a longtime Pilot Fish client, achieved many of those goals and more with today’s launch of its redesigned website.

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1557 Hits

Big Consumer Sites Aren’t the Only Ones at Risk for Hacking

You see it in the news with more frequency, another major retailer, health care site, or insurance site has reported that they’ve been hacked. Over the last few years hackers have commonly attacked these consumer sites to obtain sensitive information like credit cards or key personal data. In the end, these hacks cost companies millions and even worse, the loss of consumer confidence.   

So you have a B2B industrial site that is informational, with no sensitive or personal data. You’re site is safe, right? Think again, here are just a few reasons why hackers want a piece of your site too:

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1439 Hits

What will Google’s Mobile-Friendly Change Mean for B2B Sites?

Google’s announced a “significant” algorithm change that will prioritize mobile-friendly sites in its mobile search beginning April 21, and 99% of web marketing folks are wringing their hands over the possible fall-out.

But I’m more interested in how much of an impact this will really have in many B2B segments where few, if any, companies have or care about mobile sites.

When the announcement came out, our team went into full gear to try to assess the potential “damage.” What we found was that most of our industrial B2B clients get very little traffic from mobile, most under 15%. So, does that automatically mean that all those clients will lose 15% of their traffic on April 22?

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1831 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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1701 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.

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2030 Hits

Make Your Website Useful to Search Engines and Prospects

There's been an exciting trend among our website design clients: More and more of them want to include features that site visitors – customers and prospects alike – can actually use.

It's heartening to see companies moving away from static websites that mirror their sales brochures and creating online knowledge centers that provide distinct advantages, like a product selector, an equipment inventory, a service shop locator or installation videos.

I. Stern & Co., a plastic resin distributor and long-time Pilot Fish client, is the latest to join this trend. When I. Stern management decided they were ready to redesign their 13-year-old website, they took some time to consider what their customers and prospects wanted the most.

As a result, when it launched earlier this month, the new website included an extensive resin cross-reference chart, allowing site visitors to easily find which I. Stern resins meet their needs.

The new site also features a handy locator that quickly identifies which I. Stern sales office and warehouse are best suited to assist a site visitor, along with a blog to keep customers and prospects informed of new developments.

At the same time they were looking for new features, I. Stern executives were also smart enough to cast a keen eye over their old website and keep useful functions like product data sheets and a simple resume uploader for job applicants.

Overlaying all of I. Stern's great new content are the standards of any Pilot Fish web development project: carefully implemented search engine optimization and a user-friendly design that clearly illustrates just what sort of company I. Stern is.

I. Stern took its time and made sure the company was ready to move forward with a new site. If your business has had the same website for a number of years, it's probably time for you to begin the same process. Contact Pilot Fish or call 877-799-9994 ext. 2104 to create a website that your clients and prospects can actually use.

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3015 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.

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2671 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.

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2885 Hits