Tag: Web design

Are you using key words effectively

Are you using key words effectively

Keywords are the words that you want to be known for when customers do a search on the internet. This is a significant part of Search Engine Optimisation.

It is important to do your keyword research before you start generating web pages and posts, or you may end up being known for the wrong things. What do customers type into the search engines when they are looking for products and services like yours.  Just remember that it may be different to the language that you use.

Used effectively search engines will see that your web pages and posts have these words. Search engines have smart algorithms so don’t go crazy and use the same word too much as the search engine may consider this to be word stuffing and penalise your site. What are the associated words or synonyms?

Once you have these words sorted you can the start using them effectively. So that the search engines understand what your page is about use the keywords once in the title, in the meta description, in the first paragraph, in subtitles and several times in the content.

Key Words

Planning website content: 5 must-read articles

Planning website content: 5 must-read articles

Without proper planning, content can derail website projects. Missed deadlines, poor quality content, spiralling budgets, plummeting team morale and projects left in limbo are just some of the symptoms of failing to planning content production up-front.

To help keep your website projects on track, we’ve gathered some of our must-read articles on the topic of planning website content. From calculating the cost of content production, the right questions to ask, and how to run an effective discovery phase, the 5 articles we selected offer oodles of practical advice to help you and your teams plan for content and launch your website projects on schedule.

Calculating the production of high quality content

What effort, time and cost do you need to get content done? This article will help you calculate the resource needed, particularly the number of writers required, to help you budget and plan for content production.

Read: Calculating the production of high quality content

How to run a website discovery session

A well planned discovery phase can make or break a website project. This crucial meeting between the project team and client is the time to answer questions that will arm you with the knowledge to deliver a bespoke website, with content and design that will deliver measurable results. In this article we uncover who needs to be involved, how long the session should be, how to manage expectations and even include an agenda to get you started.

Read: How to run a website discovery session

13 content questions to kick off your website redesign project

Asking the right questions about content at the start of the project is imperative to getting content onto the project agenda, and keeping it there. Our article lists some content-focused questions you should be asking, including do you know how much content you have on your existing site, does someone have overall responsibility for content quality during the project to beyond launch, and 11 other must-ask questions.

Read: 13 content questions to kick off your website redesign project

The A to B to content: Planning website content

The more thorough and dedicated your content planning, the more engaging and fruitful your content will be. Fact. In this article we cover audience research, site maps, content mapping and scheduling content and join them together for the ultimate content plan.

Read: The A to B to content: Planning website content

Planning contextual content for users

Your content needs to serve a purpose. It has to meet a business goal and/or a user need and be provided at the time that they need it. Context is key to making sure your content is relevant and useful. This article will ensure you’re planning content with context firmly in mind.

Read: Planning contextual content for users

Source: Robert Mills

7 Rules Of Great Type Design (That Any Creative Can Use)

7 Rules Of Great Type Design (That Any Creative Can Use)

House Industries–a Delaware-based design firm and type foundry–might not be a household name, but you’ve definitely seen its work. It designed the New Yorker’s layouts and typeface, the font used in Shake Shack’s branding, and Jimmy Kimmel Live’s logo, among others.

House Industries: The Process Is the Inspiration [Image: courtesy Watson-Guptill/Penguin Random House LLC]

Andy Cruz and Rich Roat cofounded the studio in 1993, and have made a name for themselves in designing groovy fonts that nod to midcentury culture, including families inspired by Charles and Ray EamesAlexander GirardRichard NeutraGoogie architecture, and hot-rods. How do they do it? There’s no hard-and-fast formula and no rigid playbook, but they do have a process-driven approach that’s guided by a handful of loose rules.It wasn’t until Cruz, Roat, and Ken Barber sat down to compile House Industries: The Process Is the Inspiration (Watson-Guptill, 2017)–a monograph detailing their design philosophy through case studies from their 24-year career–that patterns began to emerge in their work.

“Going through the process of decoding, and playing the record backwards so to speak, revealed what were were doing,” Cruz tells Co.Design. We spoke to him to learn more about how House Industries creates its fonts.

[Photo: © Carlos Alejandro/Courtesy of House Industries]

1. MINE YOUR PERSONAL HISTORY

In the book, Cruz writes that House Industries “built on the selfish notion of incorporating personal interests into our work.” One of the most influential hobbies to House’s aesthetic is hot-rodding. Cruz’s dad restored Corvettes and brought him along to car shows, teaching him the science behind engines and explaining both the art involved in designing the body.

“The garage taught me the value of customizing a mass-produced machine and transforming it into a personalized work of art,” Cruz writes. “House built a company on hot-rodding the alphabet, whether it was related to lowbrow car culture or highbrow modernism. The approach was the same; it was just the medium that was different.” House’s earliest work leaned heavily on automotive references, like its Rat Fink Fonts inspired by model car kits.

The personal histories of every designer at House seeps into the studio’s work. Its Flyer fonts, for example, were inspired by Jeremy Dean, the first full-time designer Cruz and Roat hired. His history as a paste-up artist–someone who manually cuts and pastes type into layouts–informed the “anti-design” aesthetic of the font family, which looks like lettering you’d see on punk posters.

2. MAKE WHAT YOU’D WANT TO USE YOURSELF

When House designs a typeface, it’s often because it’s looking for something that doesn’t already exist. “They start off as selfish endeavors,” Cruz says.

In the process of compiling the book, Cruz realized that many of the fonts House designed reflected how he was decorating his home at the time–some of the same things that caught his eye in his daily life were seeping into his work. This eventually led him to collaborations with the Eames Foundation, the Girard Foundation, and estate of Richard Neutra; and fonts that riff on the style of tiki bars (Cruz collects tiki mugs).

“I try to approach [design] history from a fan’s perspective. If we are fortunate enough to collaborate with one of our heroes, I want to be reverent and do our best to share what got us excited about their work.”

Meanwhile, what cars are to Cruz, bicycles are to Roat. This led to the Velo collection of bikes–with a frame by Waterford Precision Cycles, decals designed by House, and custom parts and accessories from Cinelli, Tanner Goods, Brooks, and Specialties TA.

[Photo: © Carlos Alejandro/Courtesy of House Industries]

3. USE THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB

Cruz came to graphic design through illustration, and because of that the studio often leans on analog techniques like painting and ink drawing to arrive at their digital fonts.

“Money can buy fancy tools and special effects, but some of our most valuable tricks and techniques were born from a lack of it,” the studio writes in the book.

Its Studio Lettering collection, drawn by Ken Barber, for example, nods to pre-digital design.

“If you want a form or stroke to capture the feeling of drawing or painting by hand, it’s best to do that with an analog tool, then translate it to the digital world,” Cruz says. “I feel that’s one thing that humans seem to have a soft spot for—they might not be able to articulate it but can sense those considerations that add a little warmth or soul to a project.”

4. THINK HARD ABOUT CONTEXT

“Letter forms can trigger memories, experiences, and emotions. As manipulative as it sounds, depending on the image, [typography] can be used as a tool to provoke those sorts of feelings from a reader,” Cruz says.

House’s design work leans toward the evocative side, but that’s because they know where and when to deploy exuberance and restraint. When Cruz took a call from Jimmy Kimmel to design his logo, he learned that Kimmel studied graphic design before going into television. That fact helped them develop a more adventurous aesthetic. For the New Yorker, they took a more subtle and buttoned-up tack.

“There has to be a sense of, that’s cool, but is it right for this project?” Cruz says. “When does your personal taste outweigh or take a backseat to that thing we consider function? You’ve got to know the right time and place.”

[Photo: © Carlos Alejandro/Courtesy of House Industries]

5. DECLARE INDEPENDENCE

Cruz and Roat met while they were both working at design firms in Wilmington, Delaware, but they decided that they could produce more creative work if they were their own bosses.

“We definitely knew we could make a living [in the corporate design world], but it didn’t take very long to realize that it wasn’t for us,” Cruz says. “You can only do so many corporate design gigs when you’re young and idealistic. As the magic faded, we started seeing opportunities that didn’t have so many rules or focus groups. There was a much bigger design world out there we could play in.”

6. THINK BIGGER

Fonts are the bread and butter of House, but the studio also designs three-dimensional objects and products including toyshouse numbers, jerseys, and textiles. It’s also in talks with a developer to work on a project at the architectural scale.

“Anyone who knows us might usually come in through our font door, but they soon find out that our design ADD doesn’t restrict us from doing ceramics, bicycles, an interior, or even a satellite,” Cruz says.

Now their interests are in getting more people interested in the hands-on processes behind graphic design through educational programs.

“You can sit and talk about your work and logos, but it’s nowhere near as cool as seeing a 6-year-old or 66-year-old take our workshop and use their hands to letter their name or pull a squeegee and make their own serigraph,” Cruz says.

[Photo: © Satoshi Asakawa/Courtesy of Hermès Japon]

7. STAY FOREVER YOUNG

Part of what keeps House dynamic is that it approaches design with the same level of interest as someone who’s just discovered the field–but with the added wisdom and experience of decades in the business.

“Honestly, I’m still doing the same stuff I was doing when I was 16, and I think that’s what’s kept it interesting,” Cruz says. “We tried not to lose sight of the things that got us into design—whether that’s illustration, or type, or packaging. It’s all those little details that I dug that made me want to take a commercial art class in high school then continue learning through my interests, whether that was trying to make my car go faster or figuring out how to exploit the power of a printing press. We’re still doing a variation of all of those exercises. The more I can stay in touch with my childhood, the happier I am.”

Source: 7 Rules Of Great Type Design (That Any Creative Can Use)

How to write good content that people will read.

How to write good content that people will read.

Writing good content for your website and Blog has a lot to do with understanding your customer or audience.

If you have ever been through a good strategic planning or sales excellence exercise you will have looked at your value proposition, which should give you what you need to make it easy to write an article that relates well to your customers.

As you will see in this article the first step is to state your value proposition, followed by the feature then the benefits.

If you were looking at your value proposition in a business planning or sales excellence exercise you may have also looked at your channels to market, types of customer relationships and customer segmentation. Your value proposition message may change based on these additional elements. For example, the customer segmentation may have different age groups as segments and as a result, you will have a differrent language of value propositions.

It’s not necessarily about writing well.

It’s about writing persuasively.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a world-class wordsmith or a literary genius.

If you can’t effectively move readers through the proper sequence of steps and ultimately convince them to buy, your conversions are going to suffer.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the world’s greatest writer.

You probably won’t see me publishing a novel anytime soon.

But I’d like to think I’m good at copywriting, which, in its simplest form, is “the act of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing.”

In this post, I’d like to provide you with a straightforward formula you can use to become a highly persuasive copywriter with the end goal of maximizing conversions.

I’ll explain both the basic structure and the specific techniques you need to use to become more persuasive.

Start with a killer value proposition

Research from Nielsen Norman Group found that you have a very small amount of time to grab a visitor’s attention before they leave your page.

In fact, you usually have a max of 20 seconds.

Your first order of business is to make it abundantly clear what your value proposition is.

Now, there are several ways to go about this, but I believe in keeping things simple.

Getting too complex tends to dilute the message and confuse prospects.

What I’ve found to be most effective is keeping my value proposition short, sweet, and clear.

Like this:

I think the Moz homepage does a really good job at this as well:

Don’t make them guess what you’re offering.

Let them know in a split second what you are offering with your crystal clear value proposition.

To accomplish this, try to condense the essence of your product down to just a few words.

Swiftly move to the benefits

“What’s in it for me?”

That’s what most visitors are thinking after hearing your value proposition.

But here’s the thing.

Most people have a tendency to emphasize features over benefits.

But it should be the other way around.

Just look at this Venn diagram from ABC Copywriting:

Notice that benefits are valued over features.

Of course, you need to explain how your product works. But you can elaborate on that later.

What you want to do first is explain how the product fulfills a need or desire.

In other words, explain how your customers’ lives will be better after they buy your product.

Here’s a great example from Moz:

See how prospects instantly understand the benefits of using Moz?

It will save them time and make things more efficient.

They also don’t have to worry about deciphering complex data because Moz takes care of this for them.

When it comes to describing benefits, there are three main types to cover:

  • Tangible
  • Intangible
  • Commercial

This illustration from ABC Copywriting explains these various types of benefits in more detail.

As they point out, “Benefits need not be unique, but they must be compelling.”

Keep this in mind when deciding on an angle.

I personally find that it’s best to highlight the benefits before getting down to the nuts and bolts of the features.

That way prospects should be more receptive and willing to wade through the details.

But if you go the other way around and cover the features before the benefits, you’re probably going to lose a sizable portion of your leads.

Just sayin’.

Now explain the features

“What’s in the box?”

That’s what Brad Pitt’s character David Mills wanted to know in the closing scene of the movie Seven.

While the contents of the box were quite grisly (his wife’s severed head), this question demonstrates the importance of promptly telling your leads what they’ll get by making a purchase.

In other words, let them know what’s in the box.

They already know what you’re offering and what the benefits are.

Now it’s time to succinctly break down the features of your product.

Again, I feel like Moz pulls this off flawlessly, so I’ll use this as an example:

I prefer breaking features down into bullet points or concise little sections like Moz does.

“Digestibility” is huge, and you want to present your product’s features in an easy-to-absorb, intuitive way.

You also want to touch on specifics to distinguish your product from competitors and to add a sense of value.

by NEIL PATEL on MAY 31, 2017

Words you use on your website are important

Words you use on your website are important

Don’t overlook the words in your digital overhaul.

A website migration or refresh is a great opportunity to practise some digital feng shui – to rethink your goals, refocus your user journeys, archive all the content you don’t need any more, and ensure your content is aligned with your up-to-date proposition.

But done well, a migration is an opportunity to refresh and review not just the structure and design and look-and-feel of your digital presence – but the words too. What’s the point of spending all that time and effort and resource on a shiny new UX, a super-smart, contemporary new look and a cutting-edge CMS, only to pour back in all the tired words from your old site? And yet this happens, of course, and depressingly often.

So to make sure your website refresh is also a copy refresh, here are three key questions to have front of mind as you craft new content for your shiny new site:

1: Do I know what I’m doing?

Sounds flippant, but it’s really not. A good piece of web content packs a very clear sense of purpose and focus from the word go.

So for any piece of content you’re thinking of writing, you need to be able to answer those basic existential questions: Who is this content for? What do they need from this page? What do we want them to think or do after reading this page? How does this page support our business goals? And how will we know if this page is a success?

Poor planning usually begets confusing copy. If you’re struggling to come up with crisp, clear answers to any of these questions, maybe a rethink is in order before you begin.

2: Am I making life as easy as possible for my users?

Your customers are your business. Digitally speaking, your users are why you exist. And when it comes to copy, effortlessness is the cornerstone of a positive user experience.

With web content, the perception of ease is a powerful nudge to engagement and conversion. When a user looks at a new page, they carry out a very, very quick mental calculation: Is the probable effort being asked of me as a reader here likely to be worth the rewards of consuming this content, in terms of information or entertainment?

So ask yourself: Have I structured the content so that users get an instant sense of what it’s about? Are messages layered in order of user priority? Is the signposting intuitive?? Are there multiple entry points? Does the copy pass the reader’s ‘So what?’ test? Does it focus on benefits, not features? Are the words and syntax used simple to process?

3: Is the language fresh?

So the page is well-planned. You know who it’s for and what it’s about. It’s scannable and intuitive to look at, and the language is plain. So why is it still such a dull read?

Perhaps because the copy falls back on clichés and legacy language, the sort of words and phrases marketing writers often turn to because they feel safe and familiar. You know: ‘tailored to your specific requirements’, ‘today’s fast-moving world’, ‘we’ve got Christmas all wrapped up’, ‘something for everyone’, ‘solutions provider’, ‘state-of- the-art’, and all the rest.

The problem here is that the reader is so used to seeing such phrases that they cease to have any impact or even meaning.

So ask yourself: Am I showing rather than telling? Am I talking about what we do in fresh, interesting and specific ways? Am I thinking hard about why anyone will care about these words? Am I writing stuff that is interchangeable with what you could find on loads of other sites in our space? Have I injected any tone or personality?