Categories
Design Services

Your Ugly Website Needs to Go

(A few weeks ago, we talked about outdated website features that shouldn’t be on your website.  Today, we talk about why it’s so important that your website looks good.  Enjoy.)

In the beginning of the internet, there was darkness.

Upon that darkness, brightly colored text was placed.  And man said “It is not good for this text to be by itself”, so he added low-res pictures, scrolling banners, and gif animations that had nothing to do with the website itself.

And it was…ugly.

s so important that your website looks good Your Ugly Website Needs to Go

s so important that your website looks good Your Ugly Website Needs to Go

s so important that your website looks good Your Ugly Website Needs to Go

s so important that your website looks good Your Ugly Website Needs to Go

(Don’t worry, this was never actually our site)

It used to be that every website had a black (or really dark) background with white or brightly colored text over it.  Browsing the web felt like you were constantly hanging out in someone’s basement (which was fitting because most of those sites were probably built by some guy in his parents’ basement).

Of course, there were reasons for websites being ugly.  Coding abilities were limited.  In the same way video games once were incapable of 3D, websites couldn’t do smooth gradients, transparent boxes, moving objects, etc.

And everyone was too busy having their minds blown to stop and notice that the internet was ugly.  It didn’t really matter what your website looked like.  It just mattered that you had one.

But we live in a much different world now.

We live in a society that is starting to base their life decisions off what they see on the internet.  Whether that’s a good thing or not, what they see online will mostly affect the chances of them using your business.

To the majority of potential customers out there, your website is the first impression of your business that they have.  It is your store front.  It doesn’t matter what type of business or organization you might be.

If someone is looking for your services, finds your website, and finds it to be mediocre, they will pass that opinion directly onto your business.

According to a study done by Missouri University of Science and Technology, it takes a person less than two-tenths of a second to form an opinion about your brand when they visit your website.  It takes another 2.6 seconds for the eyes to fully adjust and respond to that impression.

If it’s not a good impression, the visitor will probably leave and move on to the next site.

In other words, it’s not enough to just have a website anymore.  You need a good looking website, one that’s functional, that establishes your brand, and let’s visitors know how you can help them and why they should choose you.

When someone hits your homepage, you have about 10 seconds to lure them in or lose them forever.

Is that fair?  It doesn’t matter.

That’s how it is.

A Parable of Two Furniture Websites

s so important that your website looks good Your Ugly Website Needs to Go

(photo credit: Amgad Fahmi)

A man was looking for a furniture store.  After a quick Google search, he found two stores in his area.

The first store he found had a website with two colors,  some scrolling text from the 90s, and some lifeless filler text that he could barely read because it didn’t mesh with the background.

The second store had a very aesthetically pleasing homepage with a direct call to action, a list of the furniture they had, and a personable presence.  After reading a few lines, the man could tell that these people are fun, helpful, and inviting.

Naturally, the man chose the second store.  But that’s not the end of this story.

You see, the second store’s website also worked on the man’s phone so after he went to the store and purchased something, he was able to easily show other people the amazing place he found his new furniture at.

As for the first store, he would never visit there.  It’s entirely possible they had exactly what he was looking for.  They may have had better prices and more helpful staff.  His family may have continued buying furniture from that store for generations.

But their website was terrible, so he assumed their business wasn’t too great either.

This story can apply to just about any business.

Repair shops, churches, retail stores, car dealers, antique dealers, the list goes on.  In the battle arena that is the internet, the winner often isn’t the necessarily the person with the best service, but simply the best looking site.

While there’s certainly some drawbacks to that, there is one very nice advantage:

The Internet Levels the Playing Field

Never before have small businesses been so capable of appearing much larger than they are.  A custom design mobile friendly website can make a two-person operation look like a fortune 500 company.  Actually, there are some large corporations that have terrible websites, providing the perfect opportunity for a small business to beat them at their own game.

We have a number of clients in niche markets where that are devoid of good websites.  These clients now have a serious advantage of competitors much bigger than themselves simply because they have a great looking website.

So What Should My Website Have?

Most new websites have embraced a simple, modern approach.  It starts with a primary call to action.  From there, other important areas are placed in.  A great website should act as a guide that brings customers exactly where they want/need to go without them having to think/search too hard.

But I don’t know anything about good design, you say.

Well, that would be why you hire professionals.  We provide very affordable design services to companies so that they can look their very best.  Just make sure you’re not afraid of a little change.

You might need to revamp your logo.  Nothing sticks out more on a fresh and sleek website than an old and busted logo that’s a few decades old.

And it Should be Good on the Go

Almost 50% of searches are done on mobile devices.  What does that mean for you?  That means your website should be viewable on a smartphone or tablet.  It’s called being “responsive”.  A responsive website scales to whatever screen size your website is opened on so that people see a beautiful site that they can still read and navigate.  You could be losing customers simply because they can’t see your website on their phone.

That’s why we built our own custom framework that’s built around being responsive.  Our client’s websites are tested both on computer screens and phone screens to make sure they look great no matter where you’re viewing them from.

Is a New Website a Good Investment?

For the majority of businesses out there, absolutely.  People are only going to become more internet and mobile dependent.  As the older generation of consumers is replaced by a more tech-reliant one, your website will become the doorway to your business.

Whether or not customers walk through depends largely on how attractive, helpful, and navigable your website is.

Have you ever chosen a business or service based off their website?  What attracts you about a website?  What turns you away?

s so important that your website looks good Your Ugly Website Needs to Go

Categories
Marketing

The New Google Business

What do small business owners and marketers have in common The New Google Business

(image via searchengineland.com)

What do small business owners and marketers have in common?

They are both greatly affected by the ongoing stream of changes that Google makes.

This includes changes to search algorithms, the interface for pay per click marketing, and how-to get a company in front of potential customers using Google’s various resources.

More often than not, these two groups are affected by the changes in a way that causes changes to strategy and an overhaul of efforts.

This, however, is not one of those changes that affects everyone in a negative manner.

Meet the new Google Business platform: Google My Business.

Google My Business

Google My Business (launched in mid-June 2014) is a centralized location where business owners and marketers can access information and manage how they’re being seen by potential customers/clients on Google.

This feature brings together search marketing, Google maps, local listings, Google+ pages, analytics, and adwords all in one simple place.

Additionally, Google has created a Google My Business app for android and iOS platforms, so everything can be accessed while on the go.

What does this mean for you?

As a small business owner, time is money. The new platform allows you to see how your business is doing all across Google’s many channels at a glance. It saves you time AND money by making updates simpler and more easily accessible.

Additionally, this will assist with your overall SEO strategy, as there are added benefits from using Google’s channels to share your content with the world.

Check out this video from Google to learn more about Google My Business:

What do you think of the new Google My Business platform? Have you started using it as part of your daily tools? Why or why not? What do you like/dislike about the new direction? Join the conversation below!

Categories
Inside Radiate Digital

Why We Love Gmail

In our last post, we talked about the differences between web-based and desktop-based email.  Ultimately, we favor web-based email because it can everything you need it to, you can easily access it from anywhere, and there tend to be less issues with it.

Today, we’re going to get a little more specific.

Today we’re talking about our favorite email platform: Gmail.

A Little Bit About Gmail

 we talked about the differences between web Why We Love GmailGmail, created by Google, is an email platform that was released to the public in 2007 after a few years of private beta testing.   Though it was still considered a work-in-progress at the time, it didn’t take long for Gmail to gain a strong following.

Gmail offered a sleeker interface, more inbox storage, and superior security compared to Hotmail and Yahoo.

Today, Gmail is the most used web-based email service in the world with over 425 million active users.

Why is it so popular?  Why do we recommend it to our clients?  Let us tell you…

The Many Perks of Gmail

It’s hard to decide where to start with Gmail.

Like pretty much any email system, Gmail will store your contacts, emails, calendar events, reminders, etc.  You can create event invites that go out to other people and you can even create entire shared calendars.

Additionally, Gmail has a built in chat feature that many refer to as g-chat.  With the chat feature, you can instant message your contacts for quick replies and discussions.  Those chats are then saved in an inbox folder so you can reference them later.

With the chat feature, you can also start a Google Hangout (video chat) with up to 10 people (15 if you have a premium account).  In a Hangout, you can talk face to face, share you computer screen, upload documents, and more.  If you don’t have a camera, you can also do voice chats.

Sounds pretty great, huh?  But wait…there’s more!

The Google Suite

 we talked about the differences between web Why We Love Gmail

Truth is, Gmail is actually just one piece of a bigger product.  When you create a Gmail, you’re actually creating a Google Account.  With your Google Account, you get access to everything Google has to offer.

If you’re an Android user, you have the added benefit of syncing everything directly to your phone.  Don’t worry, iPhone users can still sync up their Gmail and calendars with their phone.  It’s just not quite as seamless.

Your Google Account can be attached to your business’s Google+ page, YouTube Channel, Analytics, AdSense, and more.  It also allows you to give Google reviews and comment on YouTube videos.

Attached to your Google Suite are two other big tools: Google Drive and Google Docs.

Cloud Storage for the Win

Drive is Google’s cloud storage system.  With a free Gmail account, you can store up to 15GBs of files, documents, etc. online, where they can be accessed from anywhere you can find an internet connection.

You can also easily share files from Drive with anyone you want.  If someone sends you a document in an email, you can save it directly to your Drive.

Drive can also be installed on all of your electronic devices.  If you use multiple computers, this makes it very easy to start a project on one computer and finish it on another.

Personally, I have three computers and my phone, all of which are synced with my Drive.  I never have to worry about accidently leaving work at the office or losing important files if my computer crashes.  It’s pretty great.

Drive also integrates easily with Google Docs.

Fewer Downloads.  Better Collaboration

Technically speaking, Google now considers Drive and Docs to be one tool, but for the sake of explanation, let’s separate them.  Google Docs is essentially an online version of Microsoft Office.

With it, you can create text documents, spreadsheets, slideshow presentations, etc.  They aren’t quite as robust or powerful as Word or Excel, but for most, they can do what you need them to.

Also, they’re free.

But the best part about the Google Docs tools is convenience.  If someone sends you a Word document, and you want to edit it and send it back, rather than downloading it, editing it, re-uploading it, and sending it, you can just do it all online.

No downloading necessary.

Or you can have multiple people working on and editing a document or spreadsheet simultaneously.  Changes happen in real time, and you can even see who is accessing the file.

Going Pro

Gmail (and the Google Account that comes with it) is absolutely free.  However, if you want a professional email such as tim@radiatedigital, you will have to get a Google Apps account.

With Google Apps, you get all the features listed above and more.  For $5 a month (or $50 a year), your Apps account comes with 30GB of online storage.  If you’re going to be storing a lot of files in the cloud, you can grab a $10 a month account that comes with unlimited storage (and a few additional bells and whistles)

Are You Convinced?

 we talked about the differences between web Why We Love GmailYou’re probably wondering if Google paid us to write this post.  They didn’t, nor did they secretly buy us.

The truth is, we use Google for pretty much everything, and it works great for us , and we have no doubt it can work great for you too.  We have yet to encounter a client who went with a Google account and was disappointed in the end.

Even the ones who just use it for their email.

Do you use Gmail?  What other Google Apps do you use?  What email service would you recommend?