Questions to ask your web designer

There are lots of people out there who call themselves web designers. But if you want a quality website that delivers real wins for your business, there's a huge difference between a professional web design company and an amateur working out of their bedroom.

Thanks to free tools like Wordpress and Wix, just about anyone can put together a basic website using a pre-existing template, and regrettably, there are plenty of so-called 'developers' who will charge you an exorbitant amount of money for something that you could easily have done yourself.

Before you pay someone to create a website for you, ask them the following questions and make sure you're going to get your money's worth!

1. Can I see some examples of your work?

Never agree to hire someone before you've seen what they're capable of. Any experienced web designer will be able to show you a portfolio of their previous work or send you some links to websites they've created in the past. If your prospective developer hesitates to offer you any examples of what they can do, that's a huge red flag and you should probably look elsewhere.

(By the way, if you want to see some of the websites we've created, check out our Web Design Portfolio.)

2. Do you build every website from scratch?

In our blog post about the advantages of bespoke web design, we explained why a bespoke website - built from scratch, specifically for you - is generally a far better investment than a template-type site that's based on a pre-built system.

Of course, a bespoke website will cost you more, but that extra cost will net you the following benefits:

  • A unique design that's tailored to the needs of your audience
  • Ongoing support from professional developers who can create just about anything you want
  • Improved security, making it harder for hackers to target your site
  • Far more flexibility and scalability - crucial for a growing business

Most modern businesses can't get by with just some text on a static web page. Whether you need a booking system, a secure online checkout, or just the ability to add and edit content at the drop of a hat, you're far better off with a bespoke website from a team of developers who can translate your big ideas into user-friendly online solutions.

3. How long will it take to get my new website live?

You obviously don't want to hire a web designer who's going to take the best part of a year to deliver what you need, but you should also watch out for developers who tell you that your new site will be live within a week. If they're able to turn a whole website around that quickly, they're probably not doing a very good job of it.

A well-constructed website takes time to create. When we take on a new project, we spend a fair bit of time...

  • Getting to know the client's market and their target audience
  • Checking out the competition to see what we're up against
  • Performing keyword research to find out what people search for
  • Working with the client to settle on a design they love
  • Mapping out what pages the website will include
  • Optimising the website and its content for search engines
  • Testing the site to prevent errors and eliminate bugs

You wouldn't eat a pork joint that's only spent a few minutes in the oven, and you shouldn't be satisfied with a website that was slapped together with no research or planning.

4. Will my website be mobile friendly?

As of November 2016, more people are browsing the Internet on mobile devices than on desktop computers. When your new website goes live, many of your users - perhaps even the majority - will view it on their smartphones. So you'd better make sure that your site looks just as good on a small screen as it does on your PC.

We've worked with a wide range of different companies over the years. Some of the websites we create get as much as 75% of their traffic from tablets and mobile phones, and even our B2B clients, whose average customer is someone working at a desk in an office, tend to rely on mobile and tablet users for about a quarter of their website visits these days. There's no way around it: if your web developer can't deliver a responsive website that's easy to navigate on all devices, you're going to alienate a sizeable chunk of your potential audience.

5. Will I be able to make changes in the future?

The world is always changing, and while you might be 100% happy with your website when it launches, it probably won't be too long before you want to make some tweaks. Perhaps you'll expand your business and start promoting a new set of services. Perhaps you'll hire an extra pair of hands, in which case your 'Meet the Team' page will need updating. Perhaps there'll be a global pandemic and you'll want to reassure your customers that you're still open for business. Who knows what additions and changes you might require in a few months' time?

Before you settle on a web developer, you should make sure that you'll always have the option to edit and improve your website when necessary. If there's something you'll need to update regularly (e.g. special offers, promotional banners, customer testimonials), you should mention this up front - your web design agency may suggest setting up a content management system (CMS) that allows you to make those changes yourself instead of having to go through them every time an update is needed. Of course, there will always be changes that you can't foresee, so you should also ask your web designer how much they'll charge you for future developments.

If your business needs a new website, Designer Websites can help! Here are some of the things our clients have said about us...

"Working with Designer Websites was so easy - they knew exactly what I wanted and executed it to perfection!" - Alana Spencer, Ridiculously Rich by Alana

"The websites that we have created in partnership with Designer Websites are just incredible. Thank you for your hard work and continued support." - John Sheppard, eTrader

"We are so pleased we chose Designer Websites to overhaul our site. They did an amazing job and were a pleasure to work with." - Andrew Buckingham, Slide Candy

Give us a call on 01446 339050 to discuss your requirements with one of our expert web designers!

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Website design psychology

Did you know that every detail on your website, from the colours to the typeface, has a psychological impact on your users? Website designers can influence the way someone feels when they visit your site by choosing design features that have a desirable psychological impact.

You're probably thinking: "Surely if my website looks nice, that should be enough?" Well, not necessarily. You can have a website that looks great, but if it doesn't appeal to the mindset of your target audience or reflect your brand positively, it probably won't convert as well as you'd hoped for.

Don't worry - you don't need a degree in psychology to understand the impact of different web design features. We've put together this helpful guide to introduce you to the psychology of web design. It's worth keeping these things in mind if you're thinking about a new website, but of course, our specialist website designers are always on hand to answer any questions you may have.

Structure and Layout

The structure of your website is fundamental to its success. Why? Because you want your users to find the things that they're looking for quickly, but you also need to add clean spaces for their minds to rest.

Websites that are over-cluttered and messy can be incredibly difficult to digest, so even if your page features all the photos, videos, and information that you deem necessary, you might be overloading users and driving them away.

We always recommend a website design that orders things in a logical way and features clean spaces between page elements and in margins. Keeping the features of the page relevant and concise will also help users to decide whether or not your website is a good fit for their query in a matter of seconds.

A clean, well-organised website is bound to make a good first impression and will psychologically reassure users that you aren't going to waste their time.

Colours

You've probably heard of the link between colour and emotion before, but in web design, this takes a more sophisticated form. Thinking beyond the typical 'red equals danger, blue equals sadness' conventions that we learn in school, colours can convey a lot of information about your business, so it's important to choose your colour palette carefully.

You've probably noticed that websites tend to have a neutral colour like white, grey, or mauve as the dominant colour throughout. This is because neutral shades are a great base for more interesting pops of colour, and they aren't too overwhelming for the user.

Different colours can be used to hint at the nature of your business. We tend to see cooler tones like blues and greens on more professional or 'serious' websites (our own site is just one example). Meanwhile, warmer tones like pink and orange might indicate a more creative or 'fun' business - take our clients Sweets in the City, for example. You can learn more about the relationship between colour and web design in our in-depth blog on this topic.

Typefaces

In the same way that the colours of your website can impact the way a user feels, so too can your chosen typeface. There are some typefaces that we subconsciously associate with traditional/professional businesses. These tend to fall under the category of serif fonts (fonts with feet). Some examples are Times New Roman, Georgia and Palatino.

In contrast, sans-serif fonts (without feet) have a more contemporary feel and are often used by tech companies to suggest modernity. Some examples of sans-serif typefaces include Helvetica, Arial, and Tahoma.

That being said, there are hundreds of different typefaces to choose from, so don't feel limited to the examples listed here. As a rule of thumb, choose a typeface that complements your brand while still being easy to read across all devices.

Price Order

We've already discussed why the visual layout of your site is important, but did you know the order in which you list your products and services has a profound psychological effect too?

One psychological phenomenon that online shoppers are subject to is anchoring bias. This meant that the user's perception of your products rests on the very first products they see (and become anchored to).

For example, if you list your most expensive products first, everything that the user sees afterwards will appear cheaper. Conversely, if you put your budget items first, you risk making your main line of products look overpriced.

Psychological studies have shown that anchoring bias is almost impossible to avoid; however, people who are more familiar with your products and pricing are less susceptible to it. With that in mind, it's important that you anchor products to the top of the page that are reasonably priced and a good reflection of your product portfolio.

When users land on your category page, you want them to see products that are cheap enough to be a good deal, but not so cheap that they're compromising on quality. Here are some more tips to help you make your category pages convert.

Trust and Confidence

The final thing to consider is whether or not your website design establishes trust and confidence. Whether you're providing legal advice or selling clothes, you need your users to trust you if you want them to convert.

We live in an age where digital scams and computer viruses are an everyday threat. At a brick-and-mortar store, customers can see the people behind the brand, ask questions, and even base their buying decisions on how friendly/helpful the staff are.

Online, you rely entirely on your website to provide the same great experience and make customers feel secure enough to part with their cash. There are a number of web design techniques you can utilise to help with this.

For example, you should refrain from asking for personal details like email addresses right off the bat. An immediate invasion of privacy before someone has had time to become familiar with your brand might be enough to send them elsewhere. Similarly, avoid adding multiple pop-ups and overlays, as these can appear spammy and make it difficult to browse the site smoothly.

Make a good first impression with a clean and logical structure, make it clear what you expect from your users at an appropriate time, and put security measures in place to put users at ease. Use a secure, well-recognised payment system like Sage Pay or PayPal, let users create password-protected customer accounts to store their personal details, and make sure your website is protected with an SSL.

Get all of these web design features right and you can create a website that's psychologically pleasing to your customers. If you're looking for web designers who can help create the best possible website for your business, get in touch with Designer Websites today!

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Improve your category pages

When you're trying to design a category page that will help drive sales, it's crucial to keep the customer's experience at the forefront of your mind. By navigating through your category pages, users should be able to easily find the products they're looking for and place their order.

At Designer Websites, we've been designing category pages for years, so we have a great understanding of what really works for our clients. We spoke to our lead designer, Jenna, and asked her what makes the perfect category page:

"We would always recommend that you use good images that are relevant and high quality, an interesting H1 heading that includes your page's keywords, and text that's short and relevant. Try to put your best-selling / most popular products towards the top of the page, and change them frequently so the pages look slightly different for returning customers."

Let's look at some of these different elements in more detail. You might find that some of these features are missing from your category pages, in which case, this might be a great opportunity to make some improvements.

1. Optimising Your Text

You want the text on your category pages to be concise, relevant and properly optimised for search engines. To achieve this, you should make sure that your category pages include a keyword-rich H1 heading and relevant information about your products.

Think of your category pages as a means for customers to get an overview of your products before making a purchase. You should try to describe the products or services on a category page using a few concise, easy-to-digest sentences, so users can quickly determine if they've chosen the right category.

In terms of SEO, you should try to include a range of keywords that are relevant to your category to increase the likelihood of your page ranking highly in the search results.

For example, if you own a cake business and you want to optimise the text on the category page for 'chocolate cakes' you might target keywords like, 'best chocolate cakes', 'chocolate sponge cakes' and 'chocolate birthday cakes'. You might find it beneficial to keep the text under the H1 (that users will see first) short but include more keyword-rich text towards the bottom of the page to improve your chance of ranking.

If your site is optimised effectively, someone searching for a 'chocolate birthday cake' should be taken to your category page where they can view all the chocolate cakes you offer. Someone searching more specifically for a 'vegan chocolate cake' might be taken straight to a product page instead, where they can read a detailed description of the vegan chocolate cake you supply and place their order.

2. High-Quality Images

When your business operates through an ecommerce website, customers are deprived of that real-life touch, feel and browse experience. It's important to use relevant, high-quality images on your category and product pages to really bring your products to life!

One thing that online shopping allows for is a comparison between brands. Your customers might be considering products from several different competitor sites as well as yours, so you want to provide the best possible experience you can and secure the sale.

Going back to our cake business example, imagine a scenario where a customer is looking for a great chocolate birthday cake. They're considering three or four local cake suppliers, including you. If your chocolate cake category page is filled with high-quality photos of truly tempting chocolate cakes, and your competitors have a few low-resolution images to compare to, you'll (probably) win the sale every time!

3. Featured Products

Highlighting products on your category page is a great way to boost sales. Moving products towards the top of the category page and adding a bold border or an eye-catching sticker is a great way to draw the user's attention towards the products you want them to buy. It also provides users with a sense that they are getting the best option or deal available.

Even if users only spend a few minutes on your category page before moving elsewhere on your site, the emboldened products are likely to stick in their minds. They might even decide to come back for a second look if they feel they've missed out on a good deal.

With that in mind, you should use the featured products section of your category page to focus on best-selling products, products included in special offers, and products that you want to shift quickly.

Keep your category pages fresh and engaging by rotating your featured products regularly. That way, returning visitors won't be greeted with the same products over and over again.

4. Filters

If your business boasts an extensive portfolio of products, you might want to consider adding filters to your category page so users can quickly find the items they need. Filters are a popular feature of most ecommerce websites because they break down categories into smaller, niche groups of products that more relevant to the user.

Let's say you own a shoe store and a customer visits your site hoping to buy a new pair of black high heels in a size six. They're going to a party at the weekend and (as usual) they've left it until the last minute to organise their outfit. When they land on your site, they see hundreds of different types of shoes organised into categories by style.

Luckily, your 'high heels' category page allows them to filter the shoes by size and colour. This instantly refines their search so they can browse all the pairs of shoes that fit their criteria. They spot a fabulous pair and place their order - success! That's one more happy customer who might recommend your shoe store to a friend or leave a positive review.

5. Search Box

No matter how well structured your site navigation is, there will always be some users who prefer to head directly to specific products. That's where the search box comes in handy.

It's important that your database is organised so that the right products show up for the right queries - you wouldn't want a user searching for 'black heels in size six' to be faced with an array of blue trainers, would you?

Data from the search box can also provide you with insights into the products that are most frequently searched for by your customers. Perhaps they're struggling to find the products they're looking for; in which case you could tweak your site navigation so frequently-searched products are easier to find.

Alternatively, frequent searches could indicate that a certain product is very popular with your customers. In this case, you might decide to run a special offer or add it to your 'featured products' section to boost sales. Either way, having a search box on your category page will benefit you and your customers.

If your ecommerce website needs an overhaul, Designer Websites can help. Our experienced team of designers, developers and SEO specialists understand what websites need to succeed - contact us now to discuss your requirements!

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Ski for Agents Website

Skiing season will be upon us in just a few months' time, which no doubt means that countless snowsports enthusiasts are already starting to think about booking their visit to the slopes.

Our latest project, Ski for Agents, is designed to help travel agents purchase ski holiday extras for the globetrotting skiers and snowboarders who come to them for assistance. Agencies can register multi-level accounts with separate logins for the head office, other branches, different members of staff, etc. Once signed in, the streamlined design and user-friendly interface makes it easy for agents to get the very best prices on lift passes, airport transfers, and other useful extras, which they can then book online quickly and easily.

We relish a challenge here at Designer Websites, and this project called for a lot of bespoke functionalities, integrations, and unusual features - it was the sort of brief that would make lesser developers turn pale!

The Ski for Agents website has a custom-built and rather complex content management system (CMS), which allows our client to completely control virtually every facet of the website, including...

  • A truly flexible ancillary page manager
  • Language control
  • Resort and service provider control
  • Equipment management
  • Bookings management
  • Agents management
  • Ski extras control
  • Customised client invoicing

...and much more.

We specialise in tackling complex, demanding projects like this one! If you have an idea that can only be realised with a custom-made online solution, give us a call on 01446 339050 to discuss your requirements with a member of the Designer Websites team.

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Part of the ever-expanding Greensquares family, DeckPlus is the newest brand to hit the UK composite decking market.

Offering a wide selection of decking products – ranging from premium, capped composite decking to affordable, eco-friendly hollow deck boards – the company were looking to create a fresh site that reflected this exciting new brand.

After laying down the gauntlet to our web designers, we quickly got to work creating a fresh, new site for his fresh, new brand.

 

 

web design, web designers, SEO experts

 

A One-Stop-Shop

Combining their existing TimberTech products with their all-new DeckPlus branded boards, the desired outcome of the project was conceptualised as an online amalgamation of decking solutions, providing the ultimate one-stop-shop for decking design.

The result was DeckPlus.co.uk – a true home for all things composite decking.

The DeckPlus website provides a welcome online home for the DeckPlus brand, while also acting as a worthy second-home for the company’s TimberTech range, in addition to the pre-existing TimberTech site.

 

A Modern Site for Modern Products

As part of the brief, we were asked to provide DeckPlus with a site that reflects their modern products.

Our team of expert designers were more than capable of living up to the challenge and were eager to create a site that accurately reflects the new brand’s contemporary flair, while also providing the necessary capabilities of an effective decking site.

Logically laid out in a prioritised order, each webpage is packed with all the user-friendly functionality you would expect from a professional site, blending helpful information with simple processes and easy navigation.

Topped off with a clean, crisp oceanic colour scheme, the aesthetic appearance of the site is modern yet inherently easy on the eye, with an occasional infusion of orange-brown as a tip of the cap to the company logo.

 

User-Friendly Functionality

From a functionality standpoint, we created an uncomplicated layout that provides seamless usability on all devices, working just as well on a mobile or tablet as it does on a laptop or desktop.

For further ease of use, the site is specifically designed to allow you to refine your decking search by a variety of chosen criteria: from colour and price to decking type and product range.

What’s more, the simple navigation bar positioned at the top of each page allows you to effortlessly transition from one page to the next, without the hassle or fuss of searching high and low for the relevant tab.

The site also features a company blog page to keep users up to date with all the latest goings-on in the company, as well as the wonderful world of outdoor decking.

 

Optimised Web Copy

DeckPlus offers a myriad of stunning designs and a variety of decking materials at a range of prices to suit all budgets. As a result, the site houses a vast online catalogue of these products and sub-categories, all requiring unique copy for each and every page.

This necessitated bespoke web copy for the entire site. Each page needed captivating copy that still included the all-important fundamentals: the essential top-line information, supplementing by the detailed nitty-gritty, before rounding off with the bottom line of price.

Meanwhile, each page was also painstakingly optimised by our SEO experts to give the site a running start when it was made live. This has helped to ensure the correct pages rank for the relevant industry terms and product descriptors in the search engine results, ultimately boosting the likelihood of conversions.

 

For more information on our web design and copywriting services, why not get in touch today? Call now on 01446 339050 or click the button below to get a quote online now.

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SunSpaces is a well-established part of the Greensquares family of brands, offering a range of high-quality garden rooms, verandas and awnings to help residential and commercial property owners make the most of their outdoor living spaces. SunSpaces stand out from their competitors because their products can be customised to suit every client’s unique requirements and preferences.

We were recently asked to re-design and update the SunSpaces website. Many elements of the site including the colour scheme, page layout and menus have been refreshed by our web designers to create a contemporary, professional-looking new website.  

You will notice that the new website includes many products that have always been a part of the SunSpaces brand, like the Aspire garden rooms and Compact awnings. However, in addition to these longstanding favourites, their new website incorporates a variety of new products and accessories, such as the Avant-Garde and Ultra garden rooms.

The new SunSpaces website is packed with features that make it enjoyable and easy to use. Our development team used the very latest coding techniques and schema tags to build a bespoke, responsive website that stands out in the search results and works seamlessly on both desktop and mobile devices.

We included a content management system (CMS) so staff can control products and prices, categories, photo galleries, banners, landing pages, performance reports and more. We integrated Salesforce so that staff can easily manage quotes and follow up requests.

We also added intelligent landing page control and advertisement tracking so that advertising campaigns can be monitored and altered effortlessly. The new site is also integrated with conversion tracking so that its performance is continually recorded and easy to assess whenever necessary.

With these new features and a modern re-design, we are confident that the SunSpaces team and future SunSpaces customers will take pleasure in using the site. We have been able to create a new website for SunSpaces without compromising any of the features that made the old site such a success!

You can visit the new SunSpaces website here: https://www.sunspaces.co.uk/

If you’re looking for a professional website for your business, look no further. Get in touch with the team here at Designer Websites for a free, no-obligation web design quote.

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RJ Funerals Website

Robert D. Johnson Funeral Directors are an independent funeral service based in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan. This family-run business specialises in bespoke, flexible funeral services for families who are looking to make arrangements after the passing of a loved one. With extensive experience in funeral care, they ensure every family receives the service they’ve envisioned for their dearly departed – while alleviating them of the stress of organising the funeral arrangements during their period of grief.

Robert D. Johnson Funeral Directors offer the following funeral packages:

As an independent business, Robert D. Johnson offer a caring, personal service that large chains are sometimes unable to provide. Staff are selected on the basis of their professionalism and caring approach to their work.

How Did We Help Them?

We have created a user-friendly brochure website for Robert D. Johnson Funeral Directors. The new design is professional and befitting of the industry in which this client operates, and the website interface is very easy for users to navigate. Visit www.rjfunerals.co.uk to take a look at our work.

We provided:

  • Responsive Website Design – The RJ Funerals website functions well across all screen sizes whilst maintaining its sophisticated look. Regardless of the device used to access the website, the pages of the website maintain their look and ease of navigation.

  • Search Engine Optimisation – Every page on the new RJ Funerals website features high-quality content which is relevant to the user, effective in communicating the services offered, and carefully optimised for high Google rankings.

Do you need a bespoke, professional website to showcase your business and the services you offer? If so, get in touch with Designer Websites for a free, no-obligation quote.

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Ecommerce Website Design Ideas

When you're trying to succeed in the world of ecommerce, there are lots of different factors to consider. Nowadays, most online shoppers expect ecommerce websites to meet each of the following criteria:

  • Secure checkout system
  • Appealing, mobile-friendly design
  • Minimal loading times
  • User-friendly site navigation
  • Extensive product information (so that people know exactly what they're buying)
  • Competitive prices
  • Positive feedback from other customers
  • Ability to contact the seller with ease

Consumer trust is key to the success of any ecommerce website, and you will probably need to tick all of the above boxes in order to earn the trust of the average online shopper in this day and age.

With this in mind, here are three helpful ecommerce website design ideas from the ecommerce experts here at Designer Websites:

Use engaging, good-quality product images.

Most people won't purchase something online unless they're certain of what they're paying for. Detailed product descriptions are important, but a picture is worth a thousand words, and a few good images will generally sell your product a lot more effectively than a few paragraphs of text.

Both quality and quantity are important here. You need detailed images that make your items look enticing, but you should also try to offer a variety of images for each product. Try to cover all bases: one no-frills image that clearly shows what the product looks like; one or two photos of the product in use; a picture to show what the product looks like in its packaging, and another to show what's actually inside the box. You get the idea - your product images should aim to answer every question the average customer might ask.

Of course, you should also ensure that the images on your website aren’t so large that they slow the whole page down. Loading speed is a critical issue for Internet users these days, and even an extra second or two can have a disastrous impact on your website’s conversion rate, so make sure those beautiful images are optimised for a smooth, speedy browsing experience!

Put lots of emphasis on customer reviews.

We all seek approval from other people, and this tendency can be clearly seen in the behaviour of online shoppers: by and large, we're far more likely to buy something if several other people say they did the same and had a good experience.

For this reason, you not only need to gather reviews from your satisfied customers, you need to put those reviews right where everyone will see them. Your ecommerce website design should ensure that every potential customer sees all the 5-star ratings and positive comments that your other customers have left. It should also be clear how many people have reviewed each product, since a 5-star average rating is a lot more persuasive if multiple people have given the product full marks.

Shoppers see positive reviews as seals of approval - they have a hugely reassuring effect on the potential buyer, so make sure those ratings and recommendations aren't buried way down at the bottom of the page.

Make it easy for users to find what they're looking for.

The modern Internet user is an impatient creature, and the more barriers you put between them and what they're looking for, the more likely it becomes that they'll leave your website and shop with one of your competitors instead. As we mentioned before, it's important to ensure that your pages load quickly, but it's just as important to make the journey from one page to the next as seamless as possible.

This can be achieved in a number of different ways:

  • Make sure your website's search function works properly, and ensure that the search bar is easy to find no matter what page the user is on

  • List 'related products' (or similar) on your product pages. That way, if the user decides that the product they're looking at isn't quite what they need, it's easy for them to find a suitable alternative.

  • Put important information - your delivery options, your returns policy, and so on - somewhere that's reasonably easy to spot so users don't waste time trying to find it.

  • When designing your site hierarchy (i.e. your categories and sub-categories), put yourself in the shoes of your average user and try to come up with a sensible structure that's easy to navigate even if you've never seen it before.

  • Make your homepage as helpful as possible. It may be tempting to simply fill your homepage with the products you're most keen to sell, but this may not be best for the user. Again, you should endeavour to put yourself in their shoes: if someone arrives on your homepage, are they looking for a specific product or piece of information, or are they just browsing for ideas? Do they want to know about your company, or do they want to see the newest additions to your range?

Essentially, your aim should be to minimise the number of clicks / actions the user has to perform in order to achieve their goal.

If you need a bespoke ecommerce website designed by professionals, we at Designer Websites are the people to call. Request an ecommerce quote here!

You may have heard about movie Easter Eggs or video game Easter Eggs before, but have you ever heard about Website Easter Eggs? The internet is filled with copious amounts of weird and wonderful things, so it makes sense that there may be a few surprising features hidden in the depths of numerous different websites. If you're prepared to go on a different kind of Easter Egg hunt this holiday, you will find that websites all over the world incorporate these hidden gems and they are just waiting to be discovered. 

To give you a brief history of where website Easter Eggs came from, it all started back in the late 70's with a game designer. Feeling slightly bitter about the fact that back then game designers were not provided with any credit for their work, this particular game designer decided to hide his credit in the game Adventure, which was made for the 2600 Atari. He designed the game so that when a player performed a specific action at precisely the right moment, the screen would briefly flash the designer's credit

This came to be known as an Easter Egg because Atari then had to go on a type of Easter Egg 'hunt' to find the secret message hidden in the depths of the game. From this point onwards, you will be able to find multiple examples of Easter Eggs hidden in games, movies, and websites - mainly to amuse those who are now 'in the know'. Just think of Stan Lee's famous cameos in all of the Marvel movies. The Marvel follower base now awaits these cameos and rejoice whenever Stan Lee's couple of seconds appear on the screen. Website Easter Eggs offer the same effect. They outwardly show that the company has a sense of humour and are willing to go above and beyond to entertain their followers

And so, with the Easter holiday upon us, we went on our own website Easter Egg hunt and put together our top 8 favourite website easter eggs hidden on the internet:

Konami Code on Digg.com

If you know a bit about gaming, you may have heard of the Konami Code before. This code was created by Kazuhusa Hashimoto when developing the notoriously difficult arcade game Gradius. To have enough time to test the game, Hashimoto created a code which would provide power-ups whenever needed. That code was up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A. This code was allegedly designed only for Hashimoto, but he happened to 'forget' to remove the code when the game went live. Once players got wind of this cheat code, the age of the Konami Code began.

This is why Digg's website easter egg has great comedy value. They understand that the Konami Code is designed as a cheat code, but have managed to turned that on its head by Rick Rolling users whenever they attempt it. We recommend having your sound right up when you enter the Konami code on the Digg website!

Google Search: Do A Barrel Roll

For our second website Easter Egg, simply type 'do a barrel roll' into google and watch as it follows your directions. This is one of our favourite google Easter Eggs, and google has quite a few. It should come as no surprise that Google has the monopoly when it comes to website Easter Eggs. Google is featured a couple of times on this list, but for a fully comprehensive list of all the google Easter Eggs, you can find hidden in the search engine here

Youtube Search: Use the Force Luke

Although the Star Wars hype may have died down, YouTube still has a nifty website easter egg stashed up its sleeve. Simply type 'use the force luke' into the youtube search bar and watch as everything on the page becomes controlled by 'the force'. By moving your mouse you can attempt to control the force, too. Another quirky website easter egg happens when you type in 'do the Harlem shake' in the search bar. We recommend headphones for this one too! 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on Google Maps

Hold on to your hats Harry Potter fans, for Google Maps can now take you back in time with their website Easter Egg. Google maps have partnered up with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to provide you with an inside tour of the 1926 wizarding world. All you have to do is type in 'Fantastic Beasts, New York City' and google maps will take you to all the focal points of the movie. You will be able to explore and have an inside look at MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), New York in 1926, The Blind Pig and Tina and Queenies home. It's pretty fantastic if we do say so ourselves.

Wistia's Dancing Team Page

Wistia Team Page

A great example of a company using a hidden website easter egg to display company personality is Wistia. On the Wistia 'about' section, you will find the 'Wistia Class Photos'. On this page, type 'DANCE' and click enter then watch as the team proceeds to dance to some classic jazz music.

Google Search: I'm Feeling Curious

 

If you're ever feeling bored, just remember that google has this clever little website Easter Egg just waiting to provide you with entertainment. All you have to type into google is 'I'm feeling curious' and google has a widget installed to provide you with a multitude of interesting trivia, ready for you to whip out at all the parties you're invited too. Find out what a heard of unicorns is called or the book the statue of liberty is holding with this useful website Easter egg.

Inspect Source on Coca-Cola Website

Inspect Source Code Coca-Cola

Some companies also have website Easter Eggs embedded into the very code of the website. This is because they are aware that many website developers will look at a website's source code to see how specific features were done. With this knowledge, coca-cola has inserted a little nod to anyone who may be looking at their code by inserting the coca-cola logo directly into the source code. To see this, just go onto the coca-cola home page, left click and click 'view page source'. 

Konami Code On BuzzFeed

Konami Code on Buzzfeed

As you can see, most of the biggest websites have got in on this website easter egg craze. Even Buzzfeed have incorporated the Konami code into their own website. Just press up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A and enter on the homepage and all of the text will change to 'Wilkie!' with a picture of BuzzFeed's chief of technology officer, Mark Wilkie, eating Cheetos with chopsticks. We think this one may be more of an in-joke, but it still shows the great company culture BuzzFeed have.

So, we hope you enjoyed our website Easter Egg hunt. If you know of any others or want to let us know your favourites, either tweet us or leave us a comment on any of our social media platforms. Have a great Easter!

Mobile User Experience

Mobile user experience should be a core consideration for all web designers and online businesses in 2017. A huge portion of all online activity now takes place on a smartphone; Google have even created a completely separate index to make sure they're giving mobile searchers the best possible results. Even if your website works like a dream on larger screens, you'll lose a lot of potential customers if it's a nightmare for smartphone users.

So what can I do to make mobile users happy?

If you want to get a good return from your site's mobile visitors, you'll need to think about the user experience you're offering and how this translates to smaller screens. Mobile user experience quality depends on many different factors, but here are a few key areas to focus on:

Use a responsive design.

The first step towards total mobile-friendliness is upgrading to a responsive website design. Browsing a non-responsive website on a smartphone usually means 'pinching' to zoom in and get a proper look at the content; a well-designed responsive website will automatically adapt to fit the screen it's being viewed on, so no matter what device your customer is using, your content should display perfectly with no pinching required.

Don't bury important content.

One mistake that lots of people make these days is assuming that mobile users are happy to scroll indefinitely in order to reach the piece of content they need. It's true that scrolling is a more comfortable and fluid action than clicking/tapping, and because of this, it's safe to assume that most mobile users would rather scroll through a long page than click through several small pages (this is why people don't like those articles that display information in the form of a click-to-proceed slideshow). However, smartphone users don't have an infinite supply of patience, and you won't be doing anybody any favours by putting your important content at the bottom of the page, several screen-lengths down.

Wherever possible, the 'meat' of your page should sit above the fold (or, failing that, not too far below the fold). Make your important content - your call to action, your key info - immediately visible rather than assuming that people will be happy to scroll down to find it.

Be fast!

If there's one thing that everyone on the web (but especially the average mobile user) hates, it's a page that takes an eternity to load. Even if you don't care about ticking off smartphone owners, you should be striving to ensure that your website loads quickly for the benefit of your desktop visitors; if you are serious about maximising your mobile conversions, then site speed becomes even more important because lots of mobile users are browsing within a very limited time window. Perhaps they're killing time while they wait for the bus, or perhaps they're already on the bus and they've got one minute to peruse your website before their stop arrives - either way, time is of the essence and long loading times will cause frustration and quite possibly prompt people to try one of your competitors instead.

If you're not sure how to boost your website's loading speeds, try typing your URL into Google's PageSpeed Insights tool.

Space out your clickable elements.

Tapping a smartphone screen with your finger is a less refined, less accurate action than a mouse click, so if there's something on your website that you want lots of people to click on (e.g. a 'Contact Us' button, a hyperlink within a paragraph of text), you'd better make it easy for them. In order to meet the basic standard for mobile-friendliness, all clickable elements on your website should be:
  1. A good distance from all other clickable elements
  2. Big enough to tap with ease
Crowding a whole bunch of links into a small space increases the likelihood that users will click the wrong link by accident. Giving your clickable elements a tiny 'click zone' that requires hyper-accurate tapping increases the likelihood that users will need multiple attempts in order to land a successful click. Both of these outcomes are very frustrating for the user and will seriously damage their experience of your site, so make sure your clickable objects are large and reasonably far apart.

Make the user's journey short and simple.

Think of your website as a running track. The end user is a sprinter, and they cross the 'finish line' whenever they complete a conversion on your site ('a conversion' being the thing that you ultimately want users to do on your website - this could mean making a purchase, requesting a quote, subscribing to your newsletter, et cetera). Between the user and the finish line are a series of hurdles: actions that they must complete and hoops they will have to jump through in order to reach the conversion stage.

Your mission is to make those hurdles as few and as minuscule as possible. Make that running track as short and as unobstructed as you possibly can!

Here are a few example of 'hurdles' and how you can help your mobile users to overcome them with ease:
  • Finding the right page. The first 'hurdle' for most visitors to a website is working out where to find the thing they're looking for. You can minimise this hurdle with a clear site layout and intuitive navigation (i.e. not too many menu options, self-explanatory category names).

  • Entering payment details. This is a huge hurdle on some ecommerce websites - entering your credit card number and billing address and so forth is a tedious, time-consuming task, especially when you're using a touchscreen rather than a computer keyboard. Minimise this hurdle by using an online wallet service like PayPal or allowing users to create accounts and save their payment details for future purchases.

  • Entering contact details. Even if you're not selling anything through your website, the inevitable 'fill out this form' stage can still be a big hurdle for users en route to a conversion. Whether you're encouraging users to send a message, request a quote / call back / free sample, or sign up for something, they will always be forced to painstakingly tap in their details; however, you can minimise this hurdle by only asking for information that is crucially important. For example, why ask for someone's postcode, telephone number and date of birth if all you really need is a name and an email address?
If you need help optimising your website for mobile visitors, Designer Websites can help - get in touch now to request a quotation for your project.
Prepare Your Website for 2017

Though we're only a few days into 2017, it's already clear that change is on the cards for this year. America is getting a new president; the UK is scheduled to begin the process of leaving the European Union; and important elections will be taking place in a number of countries, including France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Don't worry, though - this isn't going to be a post about politics. The world of web design is constantly reshaping itself, and just as 2017 looks set to usher in a number of big political changes, we're also expecting to see several sizeable shifts in the landscape of the Internet between now and January 2018. Lots of changes are coming, and if you want your business to succeed (or continue succeeding) over the next twelve months, it's very important that you stay abreast of these changes.

Priorities for your website in 2017

Below are 5 design, UI and SEO changes website owners should aim to make this year.

1. Speed it up.

If there's one thing that will utterly scupper your chances of online success in 2017, it's a website that takes too long to load. The days of dial-up, when web users would happily wait several minutes for a page to render, are gone; nowadays, most users will leave if your content doesn't load within a second or two. People hate waiting around, especially when they're on the go and browsing the web on their smartphones.

And what users hate, search engines hate too. Google, Bing, and the rest of them will be reluctant to list your website as a search result if it provides a sluggish and frustrating user experience. If you want to make your customers happy AND keep the organic search traffic rolling in, it's imperative that you minimise your site's loading times.

TAKE ACTION: Use Google's PageSpeed Insights tool to check your website's load times and find out how you can speed things up. Talk to your web developer if you're unsure of how to implement any of the tool's recommendations.

2. Stop using pop-ups.

For years, 'pop-up' was a dirty word associated with the spammiest, most irritating kind of online advertising in existence. When you think of a pop-up ad, you probably picture garish colours and dubious claims such as 'YOU HAVE WON AN IPOD' or 'THERE ARE 14 HOT SINGLES IN YOUR AREA WAITING TO CHAT'. Strangely, though, pop-ups have become somewhat legitimised in recent years, and many perfectly reputable websites now use pop-ups to drive newsletter sign-ups, app downloads, and other conversions. Perhaps you use this strategy on your own site; perhaps it even works for you.

But now is the time to stop. Google recently declared war on pop-ups (or 'intrusive interstitials'), stating that sites using them "may not rank as highly" from 10 January 2017 onwards. This doesn't just apply to old-fashioned, 'click here to claim your prize' pop-ups - it applies to pretty much any on-screen element that appears unexpectedly and gets in the way of the actual content. And yes, that unfortunately includes your nice-looking 'subscribe now' box. Get it gone by the 10th of January, or prepare to see a drop-off in your Google rankings.

TAKE ACTION: Remove any nonessential pop-ups from your website, or redesign them so that they don't cover up too much of the page itself. Learn more about Google's forthcoming pop-up penalty (and whether it will affect you) here.

3. Declutter your design.

We're always reading about the latest web design trends, and we've seen a lot of articles lately with titles like '17 Web Design Predictions for 2017'. Lots of industry experts are offering lots of different opinions and forecasts right now, but the general feeling seems to be that a minimal, uncluttered aesthetic is the right choice going forward. The design world has been moving steadily in the direction of minimalism for several years now, and it's unlikely that 2017 will buck that trend.

TAKE ACTION: Minimalism is a great approach to web design because it makes sites easy to navigate as well as easy on the eyes. Here are a few steps you can take to declutter your site this year:
  • Fewer menu options. Listing loads of different categories in your site menu can make things look messy, and users may struggle to work out which one they need. For this reason, it's better to streamline your site structure and show just a few options at the top of each page.

  • Make your message stand out. If you've got a key message to get across, don't bury it in reams and reams of text. Aim to cut down on unnecessary copy and focus on making the important words stand out. Lots of people have predicted that big, bold typefaces will be very popular in 2017, so ask yourself if the point you've taken ten paragraphs to make could have been made in a single striking sentence writ large at the top of your page.

  • Don't fear empty space. When designing your site's layout, you may be tempted to fill every last gap with an image or a bit of copy. But this may not be necessary! Discerning use of empty space can help your website to feel elegant and inviting rather than claustrophobic and overwhelming. Empty space also draws the user's attention back to the central focus of the page, whether that's an image, a headline, or a CTA.

4. Optimise for user intent.

There are two big buzzphrases that every SEO specialist in the land will be running into the ground this year. The first is 'user intent' - basically an extension of the well-worn adage that you should be optimising your website for users, not search engines. If you want to boost your organic search traffic in 2017, the key is to 'optimise for user intent'.

This means that, rather than picking a popular keyword and carefully concentrating on that term when you write your site copy, you should be thinking about your target audience and what they're trying to achieve. Keywords remain an important part of the search engine optimisation process, but both your keyword choices and your website's content should be directly informed by the needs that you're trying to meet.

For example, if you sell carpets, don't just write a tonne of copy about 'cheap carpets' and expect the search engines to reward you with a tonne of traffic. Instead, take the time to identify your target audience; consider what your average customer wants, and then create a website that gives it to them. This could be a simple, easy-to-navigate list of the different products you stock, or it could be a handy wizard-style tool that helps users to select the right carpet for any given room. What it probably won't be is a thousand-word essay on cheap carpets and why your cheap carpets are the best cheap carpets on the market.

You should also think carefully about the intent behind each keyword you target on your website. 'How to lay a carpet' and 'carpet installation' might seem like two very similar search terms on the face of it, but where someone who Googles 'how to lay a carpet' might want a how-to guide or instructional video, the person who Googles 'carpet installation' probably just wants a professional to come and do the job for them. Be sure to consider how well your content satisfies the queries people are typing in to find it.

TAKE ACTION: Don't just create a website and then stuff it with your industry's most popular keywords; instead, follow the Intent > Keywords > Content model described below
  1. Intent: Start by identifying your target audience and the needs that you're trying to meet. What is their intent when they visit your website? What are they looking to achieve?

  2. Keywords: Use a keyword research tool to find out what people type into Google when they need the thing that you provide. Do your potential customers use short phrases or longer, more conversational search terms? Identify a set of keywords that are directly related to your niche.

  3. Content: Structure your website and create its content based on the intentions of your users and how they are expressed in the form of search queries. Pick a keyword (or group of keywords) for each page of your website, and ensure that every page is perfectly tailored to the needs expressed by the query it targets. 

5. Remember your mobile users.

Here's the other big SEO buzzphrase of 2017: 'mobile first'. For many webmasters, mobile friendliness has thus far been little more than an afterthought, but now that the majority of Internet usage takes place on mobile devices, it's absolutely crucial to make sure that your website works perfectly on smaller screens.

Google demonstrated their commitment to putting mobile users first several months ago - not only did they roll out a completely separate index for mobile searches, they also announced that this new mobile index would be "the primary Google index" going forward. This shows that Google are extremely keen to make mobile users happy in 2017, and if your website doesn't make mobile users happy, your organic Google traffic may well take a nosedive this year.

TAKE ACTION: Look at your website on a range of mobile devices and ensure that it is nice-looking and easy to navigate on smartphones and tablets as well as on desktop computers. Strongly consider upgrading to a responsive website if you haven't already done so.

Need help getting your website in shape for the new year? Get in touch with Designer Websites - we are a team of expert designers, developers and SEO specialists, and no matter what business you're in, we can help you to succeed online in 2017.
 

Really Wild Bird Food are family-run business based in Hampshire, who specialise in growing, harvesting and supplying seeds and feed mixes for garden birds. Since their business was first set up in the early nineties, their selection of products has expanded rapidly, which means that their website is now a one-stop shop for a variety of garden bird and wildlife products, including:

  • Suet products, peanuts and live/dried mealworms 
  • Bird feeders, tables and stations
  • Feeder cleaning and hygiene products 
  • Bird baths and nesting boxes 
  • Food, habitats and accessories for attracting other garden wildlife 
The farm and business is headed by husband and wife team Richard and Lesley, who came to us with a vision of a new, user-friendly ecommerce website, which retained their approachable, hands-on image. In addition, they also wanted the ability to easily manage their product listings and company blog, which was especially important for a couple with such a long to-do list!
 
We are now happy to say that the website has been completely revamped, to include an eye-catching, user-friendly design, highly optimised SEO and copy, and a functional content management system that's easy to use. In addition to these many benefits, the site is now fully responsive, making it easy to navigate on mobile devices, and optimised to perform well in mobile search results.
 
Whether you're looking for seeds and wildlife products for the budding bird-spotter in your life, or you'd simply like to have a closer look at the new design simply click here to visit the new and improved Really Wild Bird Food site!
 
Would you like a functional, attractive and SEO friendly ecommerce site for your business? Get in touch now to request a free quotation.
 
When it comes to commissioning a web design and development project, we understand that the process can sometimes be confusing for business owners, particularly those who are building their online presence from scratch. Perhaps the most confusing aspect of all, is the level of input required from the business owner, which can vary massively depending on each case. While some clients may have a very specific idea in mind that they are determined to stick to at all costs, others may want to hand over most of the work to the design team, as they feel that they lack the direction and knowledge required to make a truly informed decision.
 
At Designer Websites, we’ve helped a variety of clients over the years, and feel it’s important to inform those who are looking to commission a website, about the steps they should be taking both before and during the process. Here a few common mistakes that can be made when planning a website, along with some advice about how and why to avoid them:

Mistake #1 - Setting your sights on a design that’s wrong for your business:

A common problem that may arise at the very beginning of the process, is a request for a design that is completely wrong for the business in question. While it can be useful to browse the internet for design ques, in order to get a better idea of which direction your headed in, insisting on emulating a design that has nothing to do with your business, can only end in disappointment. While it goes without saying that your design should be visually appealing, this also has to combine with functionality and business aims in order to create a truly successful website. There is little point in having a website with an ultra-sleek design that fails to sustain the interest of your customer, or present any of the required information to promote your brand and services. Having a clear idea of what you want can be a big help to your design team, but be prepared for these ideas to evolve according to the needs of your business, and the purpose of your site.

Mistake #2 – Assuming that the design doesn’t need to perform on mobile:

Despite the hundreds of articles that have circulated in recent years, which insist on the importance of having a mobile-friendly website, some businesses continue ignore this vital element of modern web design. Whether you think that your target demographic are likely to search predominantly on mobile devices or not, there’s simply no denying the fact that mobile search has overtaken desktop, which means that regardless of your audience, there will be many people who arrive on your site his way.
 
If you deal in ecommerce, then this should be something of a no-brainer for you, although a mobile-friendly design can also present a range of benefits to sites who are not looking to target direct sales. The main reason, which applies to any and all websites, is that Google have openly said that they favour mobile friendly websites, using it as a ranking signal to determine how your site shows up in search results. 

Mistake #3 - Forgetting functionality:

Business owners can sometimes neglect the most important element of the entire project – the end user. If your design is based solely on what you think looks and sounds good, or you just take a ‘web design 101’ approach to the project, then you’re completely missing the point of a great web design. It’s absolutely vital that you think about how your website will engage existing customers, and also consider how to attract new followers to your brand. Your website has to be easy to use, and it also has to deliver what people are looking for when they discover your business. While there are best practices that apply to all web designs, you have to think beyond the basics if you want a website that both meets and responds to the needs of the intended user.

Mistake #4 – Coming to the table without aims, ideas and targets:

A flaw that can sometimes hinder the design process, is the fact that many business have realised that they need to appear online, but aren’t sure how to go about it. A website should not only compliment your business, but be an extension of it, allowing you to enhance existing services and attributes, while also generating new possibilities. Before you begin the design processes, it is important that you consider not only what you want the website to achieve, but also what is possible in the modern digital world. You also have to make sure that this aim is clear enough to be understood by the viewer, in conjunction with the last point about usability. Some points to consider include:
 
  • If I want to influence sales through my website, what is the best way for me to do this?
  • How do I want potential customer to contact me?
  • Am I looking to provide an extension of my services to existing/typical users, or am I looking to appeal to a different audience?
  • What messages are most important to by business? What’s the first thing I want people to see?
  • What images do people in my industry respond to? Am I looking to correspond to certain expectations, or do I want to provide a new/unconventional experience?
  • Will I need scope to add new content and additional features in the future? How could this website potentially expand my business?

Mistake #5 – Stuffing in social media for the sake of it:

Using social media for business has become almost as important as the website itself, and for many businesses this may even prove to be just as influential for driving business. The problem with using social media within, or in conjunction with, your business, is that there is no universal approach to success with it, and not every platform will provide a positive result for a business. Having said this, choosing the right social media platform, and including this in your website in the correct manner, can provide tremendous results for your business. After thinking about which accounts you should have in the first place, your second thought should concern how these will fit into your website. Social feeds and icons need to enhance your website, not hinder it, so be very cautious about adding these in without careful consideration. Here are some examples of questions you should ask yourself, before rushing into the set-up of your on-site social media:
 
  • Which icons should appear? Do I need to provide every social media account, or just those which are most valuable to the business?
  • How should these social icons appear? How can I make them prominent, without distracting from the more important features of the website?
  • Is a feed right for my website, or will it just distract my users away from my site? Are my social accounts active enough to produce a feed which looks up-to-date and relevant?
 
If you’re have a web design project in mind, and are looking for the right knowledge and expertise to bring your vision to life, then get in touch with the team at Designer Websites! For more information, or to request a free, no-obligation quote, simply fill in our quick and easy contact form here.