Is it Time for a Website Redesign?

Is it Time for a Website Redesign?

Establishing a presence on the Internet serves a number of important purposes, but the simple existence of a web destination won’t sufficiently benefit a business’ bottom line. Many companies neglect the ongoing maintenance of their websites, in turn alienating would-be customers. According to statistics from the Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab, nearly half of all surveyed consumers find a website’s design to be the biggest indicator of a company’s credibility. If your website hasn’t been redesigned in some time, use the following keys to evaluate how a visual overhaul could benefit your business.

Examining User Experience

Web users are notoriously fickle, with countless distractions working to divert their attention when browsing the web. From pop-up advertisements to social media notifications, today’s webmasters have to cut through the noise with clean, modern sites that reflect the identify of their brand. Unfortunately, many older websites struggle to respond to user requests, with outdated navigation bars and poorly-optimized graphics making it difficult for visitors to browse through the site’s pages. These factors contribute to an undesirable overall experience, in turn negatively impacting the consumer’s perception of the company.

Catering to a Mobile Customer

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of mobile web design, with a whopping 80% of all web users turning to their smartphone to browse the web. The digital landscape has changed enormously in a short time, as just five years ago most websites weren’t optimized for the mobile consumer. Today, visitors simply expect responsive design, where sites change to fit the size of the reader’s screen. In fact, 48% of consumers reportedly believe a poor mobile experience indicates a business “does not care.”

Further complicating matters, Google recently changed its search algorithm to prioritize responsive sites over websites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices. This massive change has a huge impact on site ranking. A site designed just a few short years ago is already out of date, as far as the search behemoth is concerned. Google also reports that 50% of visitors who land on a small business site visit the company’s physical location that very day, further underlining the importance of a great site for restaurateurs and other local service providers. </>

Turning Visitors into Customers

The Internet once represented a niche sector of the marketing industry, but today it serves as one of the most important tools available to small business owners. As the industry has shifted, marketers have developed savvy strategies for better reaching web consumers. A well-designed site uses a thoughtful layout, catchy copy, and effective calls-to-action to capture a reader’s interest—sites that haven’t been updated in some time simply can’t compete.

Investing in a web design overhaul makes financial sense for companies in every sector, thanks to the undeniable benefits a great website provides. When optimized for modern browsers and devices, a company site can generate more sales, build clout, and contribute to customer loyalty. Best of all, an effective website acts as a company’s best salesperson, working around the clock without stopping.

Mobile Web Usage Increasing Daily, Is Your Website Ready?

Mobile Web Usage Increasing Daily, Is Your Website Ready?

With the number of active mobile web users increasing daily, responsive web design plays an ever increasing important role in the health and functionality of your website. Mobile sites were once viewed as relatively unnecessary add-ons, but building a dynamic web presence in the 21st century demands focusing your attention on the mobile space.
Responsive web design fills this need by catering to an audience viewing your site using an assortment of operating systems and devices. Best of all, responsive sites don’t require multiple versions that need to be updated— instead, these highly optimized websites shift to fit the screen of each unique visitor.

Exploring How Responsive Web Design Works

Responsive web design, often shortened to RWD in industry circles, ensures every web visitor experiences your website in the same manner, regardless of the platform used to view your site.
A responsive site contains coding language on the backend that instructs the site to check for variables like the screen size and operating system of each visitor. Armed with this information, the site’s layout, navigation system, and content change to provide the best possible viewing experience to visitors.

The need for RWD has exploded in recent years, thanks to the incredible growth witnessed across the mobile industry. A whopping 60% of Internet traffic now originates from mobile devices, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, an impressive 80% of all consumers now own a smartphone that provides access to the web.

Equipping Your Business for Success

While the move towards responsive sites has largely been driven by the sheer number of mobile web users active today, responsive sites also offer an assortment of advantages for your business,

•Simple Management: Responsive sites don’t require multiple marketing campaigns, in contrast to companies that use separate desktop and mobile products.

•Improved User Experience: Web users are notoriously fickle, making it imperative to remove all roadblocks that prevent your visitors from viewing your content.

•Lower Overall Costs: Instead of paying for the ongoing development of two destinations, you only need to invest in a single responsive site.

These factors further contribute to the undeniable value of a responsive web platform.

Preparing for Google’s Next Big Move

The mobile statistics alone clearly demonstrate the need for responsive site design, but industry giants like Google have taken matters a step further. In an effort to provide better search results to its users, Google has announced an impending change to its algorithm that will prioritize mobile-friendly sites over others. In practical application, this means you could see your page rank decline, simply because you don’t cater to users browsing through mobile browsers. Other search engines will no doubt follow suit, making a transition to responsive design urgent.

Embracing responsive web design protects your bottom line and helps your marketing efforts remain effective. As the mobile web continues to expand its dominance, catering to mobile customers simply makes logical sense. Using responsive web design will allow you to easily connect with such consumers while simultaneously keeping your desktop visitors satisfied. It’s a winning combination that can have enormous benefits for your overall business goals.

Web Essentials: The 5 Most Important Elements for Your Business Website Design

Web Essentials: The 5 Most Important Elements for Your Business Website Design

Your website should serve as your organization’s best salesperson and a key component of your marketing strategy. Simply popping your business details into a template and sticking it online won’t generate very impressive results. It’s essential to understand the key components of successful web destinations and work to implement them on your site. The following five must-have elements will help transform your site into a veritable online powerhouse.

Navigation: Building a Seamless Menu

On a fundamental level, a straightforward navigation structure simply makes sense. Your site visitors use your menus to browse through the pages of your site, and a confusing system can throw a serious wrench in your sales funnel. The impact of navigation extends far beyond your user experience.

SEO and your site ranking are directly influenced by your menu choices. Search engine crawlers can’t index navigation systems built on Javascript or Flash, so it’s best to choose a simple XHTML or CSS alternative. You should also pay attention to the “depth” of your site. In other words, how many clicks does it take to reach your internal pages? From an SEO standpoint, the fewer clicks, the better.

Content: The King of the Web

“Content is king” is a clever cliche that often spills out of the mouths of web marketers, but it’s hard to overestimate the importance of fresh, compelling content. Continually updating your site contributes to site ranking, while authoritative content builds brand loyalty and cultivates an audience of interested readers. Remember, great content alone isn’t enough — build an editorial calendar and provide new material on a frequent basis.

Visuals: Why Design Still Matters

Sure, a visually appealing site is nice but does design play a role in the health of a modern website? The answer is a resounding yes! As trends shift and mobile devices continue their climb to dominance, versatile, responsive designs play an essential role in a website’s success. Not only do sites need to be compatible with a number of platforms and devices, but they also should be visually optimized to push visitors through your sales funnel.

Imagery: Choosing the Right Photos


Beautiful images offer an additional avenue for capturing the attention of your visitors. Choosing lackluster stock images in lieu of clear, professional shots can have an overwhelmingly detrimental effect on your site’s success. Don’t overlook photography, but work with a local pro to create stunning photos of your products and team. These images convert better than stock alternatives and simultaneously foster authenticity, creating a personal connection to your brand.

Information: Give the Right Details

You’re running a business, not launching a blog for the fun of it. Even if your site is optimized for visitors and features stunning design, you won’t get far without providing a clear snapshot of your business. Make your operating hours, address, and contact information easily accessible, and create snappy headlines to move your visitors through the page. This approach helps ensure every visitor receives the necessary information to patronize your business.

Professional Photography: Why It’s Worth Paying for Photos in Web Design

Professional Photography: Why It’s Worth Paying for Photos in Web Design

Truly effective website design incorporates a number of different elements, including graphics and photography. Many small business owners are tempted to snap a few photos on their smartphone to save money, but paying for professional photography often offers greater benefits. Not only will professional pictures help establish brand credibility, but images play an integral role in evoking an emotional response.

Furthermore, research has continually shown that the presence of photos encourages web users to read blog posts and articles.

Foster Better Conversion Rates

Web marketers spend a lot of time and energy attempting to boost their conversion rates, but photos are an effective way to do so with little effort. 60% of consumers feel more likely to contact a business if it posts photos online. Additionally, blog posts with images receive 94% more views than those without photos. PPC campaigns and aggressive marketing rarely rivals those numbers, all of which can be achieved simply by using professional photos.

Create a Visceral Response

Emotions have always played an important role in marketing, which is why you’ll see countless ad campaigns that attempt to pull on your heartstrings or conjure pleasant memories. Professional photos should go hand-in-hand with an interesting narrative that ties back to your brand’s mission. Together, photos and written content create a potent potion for marketing success.

For businesses in the hospitality industry, stimulating positive emotions will cause potential customers to crave the experience you offer. Plunge your readers into the soft cotton sheets in your hotel’s suites, make readers smell the juices of your freshly grilled steak, cause their tongues to salivate in anticipation for your newest merlot. Stunning photos paired with vivid descriptions will maximize your selling power.

Establish Your Brand Authority

Why should customers choose your company over your competitors? It’s a simple question, but too many small business owners don’t have the right answer. A well-defined company culture and a polished appearance go a long way toward convincing consumers to choose your products or services.

Think of brands within your industry that have catapulted themselves to mass acclaim. Review their marketing materials, and you’ll likely find real people enjoying themselves. Happy customers and courteous staff enjoying the products and services in question. If you want to compete with these brands or even enjoy a small taste of their success one day, it’s worth investing now in photography that connects with your customers in the same manner.

Professional photography doesn’t have to break the bank, but it does represent a significant investment. While you may be tempted to cut corners and use DIY shots or stock imagery, professional photos offer the only effective way to control your brand narrative and ensure you connect with customers in a meaningful way. Consider photography one of those unavoidable expenses and partner with a local photographer who can help bring your brand to life on the page—you may be surprised to see just how useful it ultimately proves for your online marketing efforts.

Online Reservation Systems: Are They Worth It?

Mobile technology has dramatically rewritten the rules for the service industry, and the restaurant world is no exception to the rule. According to a report from the National Restaurant Association, a whopping 88% of consumers use technology to interact with a restaurant in some way. From reading reviews to scheduling reservations through online reservation systems, technology simplifies the buying process and helps find restaurants to visit. Of course, providing services like digital reservations comes at a cost—is the investment worth it?

Examining the Digital Reservation Model

OpenTable is easily the biggest player in the digital reservations world. Participating restaurants pay a monthly fee and $1 per person for the service. Along with the reservations themselves, the restaurant receives a touchscreen reservation system and can offer reservations directly from their own website. A restaurant could theoretically create a similar system in a proprietary model, although the development and implementation of such a system would likely prove prohibitively expensive.

As the NY Times points out, a number of competitors have also sprung up in recent years. Some of the competitors in this space include review company, Yelp (SeatMe). A few other minor players also operate in the industry.

Calculating the Cost

It’s difficult to substantiate the value of a digital reservation, as it’s nearly impossible to say whether or not a diner would have still visited a restaurant without a digital option. And yet, many restaurant owners feel the cost is well worth the service it delivers. A piece published in FSR included feedback from restaurant owners who credit online reservations with pulling diners during quiet periods and building the company’s reputation with positive feedback.

Maximizing the Value of a Digital Reservation

In addition to the reservation itself, services like OpenTable provide in-depth analytic information that allows restaurants to track buyer patterns and note specific information about the diners. Dietary habits, birthdays and anniversaries, and other personal information can all be tracked for the diner. This can help the eaterie to provide superior service for repeat visitors.

Many restaurants also feel a digital system helps create greater efficiency for the front of the house. Reservations can easily be tracked and the status changed as diners check-in for their meal. Managers can also take a look at reservations before the shift begins to better determine availability for walk-ins and schedule staff breaks.

Taking the gamble on an online reservation system can feel like a daunting undertaking, but the benefits these systems provide make them an appealing option for restaurants of all shapes and sizes. OpenTable alone services 32,000 restaurants, with approximately 16 million visits reserved each month. As consumers increasingly turn to their smartphone as a means of finding local businesses to visit, implementing a digital reservation system simply makes sense for restaurants eager to grow their earning potential.

Maintaining Your Brand Identity in a Digital World

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