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Top Web Design Trends Businesses Should Be Aware of in 2015

Business Web Design trends in 2015

With so many interesting innovations in web design appearing all the time, it is tempting to tinker with your web site. This can quickly become expensive and your website will soon lose its focus and become a showcase for trends, rather than getting your message across. But sometimes you can’t afford to ignore a trend as it is due to a fundamental change to the way people access the Web.

The secret is to identify the significant trends from the purely cosmetic ones, so you don’t get left behind but also keep your costs down. You can then choose which of the other innovations will enhance your message and should be included, keeping in mind that any changes cost a fair amount and could reduce user response.

Responsive Designs

With the increasing use of mobiles, you can’t afford to ignore this user segment. Previously sites were designed for large screens and then shrunk down for mobiles. This often produced a clumsy mobile interface.

The new philosophy is to design for mobiles then scale up. This gives a better all-round design and fits the increase in mobile accesses. There are other innovations from mobile design such as:

Increased Use of Scrolling – Mobile design emphasizes scrolling rather than clicking: the SEO is poor, but no doubt the search engines will catch up. Other mobile design features such as hidden menus are also becoming more popular, but we feel that it is better to show menus on larger screens if at all possible

Fixed Width Pages – These are limited to mobile screen sizes. They are very effective for mobiles, but less so for Laptops and Notebooks. Maybe web pages will end up being tailored for different screen sizes, rather than 1-size-fits-all. WordPress made a start on this, but for now the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

Interaction via Hovering rather than clicking – This can be very useful but may also become annoying if you accidentally change to a new page when you don’t want to. Gmail can become very confusing for those who don’t understand this is happening, and it responds to unintentional hovers. If used for hidden menus, hovering to show the details is very useful.

Large Type – This trend from mobile designs also suits the latest focus. Does limit the message on a page. The optimum typeface for converting visitors is also usually smaller.

Performance

Performance is always an issue, and anything which increases it for no penalty should be welcome. Lazy loading and simpler designs are very useful.

KISS
This applies to web design as well. Simpler websites are easier to program and maintain, while navigation is a breeze. Unfortunately, there is a penalty: it takes more time to produce a simple website that works, but the results will justify the effort.

Microinteractions

Microinteractions should be treated with caution. While they are useful and increase engagement, they can be annoying if carried to excess.

Greater Realism

Stock images have become increasingly unpopular. Realistic photos make your site much more credible . Trust is one of the most important factors for a successful website, and realistic images make your site more trustworthy.

How to avoid 2015′s Web Design Pitfalls

2015′s Web Design Pitfalls

One thing is sure about 2015 web design: there will be many innovations to consider.

After all, millions of designers all over the world are busy coming up with new ideas, some of which will become popular. This means that you need to have some way of deciding whether an idea is worthwhile or not. Here are some ideas which may help you make better decisions

Know What You Want -The first and most important point is to know what you expect from your website. Anything that will help those aims can be tested, the others are not worth wasting time on. You have limited time and money, and can’t afford to waste either.

Stick to the Basics – Don’t get sidetracked by dazzling new developments. Most of them will eventually fail, and you can afford to wait awhile. The one exception is changes required to keep up with the technology, such as responsive pages to cater for mobiles. Avoid complex ideas which may distract for your visitors

Keep Your Users Interested – Anything which increases active engagement is worth a closer look. the idea is to keep them reading further until they finally decide.

Don’t be in too much of a Hurry to Make Changes – As long as you are getting good results, you can afford to bide your time. If there is a problem, make sure you know what is causing it and don’t get panicked: make sure you know what the problem is before making changes, and test each change.

Pace Yourself – If you make a lot of changes at once, you won’t know which are working and which not. There is software to let you do A/B testing before you commit to a change – use what is available, otherwise you won’t know which changes are doing the job.

Top Ten Usability Mistakes of 2014

Usability Mistakes

Many of these problems have persisted over several years, but are still a major usability problem. This is a list of problems we find most annoying – feel free to add your own pet hates. You have most probably met many of them yourself as you surf the web.

1 Pop-Ups on Loading – This is something which is showing up more and more on various sites. Sometimes these pop-ups obscure the content on the web page before it has even finished loading, and many are not easy to bypass. A common reaction is to leave the site in a hurry and avoid future visits. Who enjoys being asked to commit to something before you have any idea what is involved?

2 Slow Loading – This has long been known to deter visitors, yet many websites are still abysmally slow to load. A site which loads reasonably quickly with a fast connection and powerful computer can quickly become too slow for users with slower connections and older equipment. A CDN can help to speed up loading, but it is best to avoid overly complex designs.

3 Lack of User Testing Resulting in Obvious UX Flaws – Better to uncover usability problems up front than struggle to fix a problem once live. User testing is often sadly neglected, and time/cost pressure often means it does not happen. User testing can make such a huge difference to a design that you simply can’t afford to neglect it.

4 Accepting Terms and Conditions – Many web pages require the user to accept various terms and conditions before they can download or access information, but the acceptance message (and error messages) are in fine print and not easy to read. Any such messages should be clear and right next to the “Accept” buttons.

5 Badly-Designed Search Functions – Around 70% of users turn to the search box if they can’t immediately find what they want. Unfortunately, many search boxes expect precise wording before they will return any results. This can be very frustrating for users.

6 Unfriendly and Unwelcoming Pages – Connect emotionally and visitors will feel more comfortable and linger. Most websites focus too much on themselves and what they do, while your visitors are interested in what you can do for them.

7 Overuse of Banners and Sliders – Commonly ignored, as is anything which looks like advertising. Because they are simply ignored, you should prefer something with better impact to get your message across.

8 Confusing Call to Action or Confusing Wording on Buttons – In many cases the wording of a CTA is unclear and uninviting. “Get Your Free Offer Now” is much more likely to convert than “Click Here”. Your CTA is probably the single most important element on your page, and should be tested and perfected.

9 Taking All Visitors to Your Home Page. If visitors have discovered your website using a search engine, take them to the appropriate page: Don’t expect them to retype the search terms (most won’t).

10 Asking for Too Much Information – People dislike entering personal information on web pages. While the information may be useful to you, your visitors will find it intrusive and may abandon their shopping carts. Online shopping sites have increased sales by 30% or more by allowing “Visitor” purchases without the need for registration.

2015: The Year of Usability and Performance Websites?

Performance Websites

While it is difficult to predict what “advances” will be made in web design in 2015, there will no doubt be many new developments. Whatever appears, it will be an attempt to attract more visitors and improve conversions. In the midst of all sorts of amazing design innovations, most people struggle to remember that bread-and-butter issues such as usability and quick loading are still the most important factors for a successful site.

Lip service is paid to the importance of usability, but designers or website owners often become infatuated with new techniques and implement them, irrespective of their effect on the user experience. While you are forced to marvel at sites with amazing parallax designs, don’t just assume that they result in high conversions.

While such designs might attract visitors who are curious about the graphics, performance may be abysmal. Quick loading is an area of usability which is probably most neglected: even iconic sites like Facebook are a usability nightmare when accessed via mobile apps. Testing needs to be done using a range of platforms – but especially mobiles – and quick loading and reduced memory usage needs to be stressed in design and programming.

|Performance by Design

“Performance by Design” is a concept whose time has come, and deserves to be taken seriously. It is hard to program a performance website unless it has been designed with response in mind. Even ultrafast VPS hosting with a CDN can struggle to speed-up a clumsy design. Of course, developers must also be aware of the benefits of lazy-loading and other ways of increasing performance.

Surveys show that website speed is more important for a good conversion rate than fancy gimmicks: most people are not prepared to wait for a site to load if it takes more than a second or two. Even the major social sites need to start paying more attention to speed of loading or risk losing popularity, with so many of their visitors using mobiles these days.

Minimalist and flat designs are a move in the right direction, but don’t forget you need to communicate with and engage your users. The example of Amazon shows that a dated design can still be a top performer, perhaps because it is so easy to use intuitively and has excellent response times.

When you are considering using a new, exciting, graphical technique, don’t forget the impact it might have on performance and usability. You don’t want your users to have to work their way through a maze to the payoff – most simply won’t bother. Familiar conventions and designs make visitors feel more secure and comfortable. Only consider genuine improvements which provide obvious benefits and a better UX.

If you have any questions, need a usability audit or if you have a corporate redesign scheduled for 2015, feel free to get in touch about the best direction your company can take for your given audience and business goals.

What were the best web design trends from 2014?

2014 Web Design Trends

It is likely that a constant stream of new web-design trends will continue to emerge. They can easily distract or sideline your efforts, so it is important to be able to detect grass-root trends which are vital to your business from fads which can safely be ignored. Taking a look at where you’ve been gives some idea of which trends are likely to continue.

How do you judge how good a website is? The purpose of any website is to communicate effectively, and this provides an excellent yardstick to screen emerging trends.

It should also be possible to get the basics of a website with a brief scan. Your visitors are often in a hurry, and don’t appreciate sites where it is difficult to extract the nitty-gritty information quickly.

We have mentioned some popular techniques below, but just remember: a website is an exercise in effective communication. Anything which can interfere or distract from your message should be avoided. Some of the most profitable websites are extremely basic, but send a clear message.

Responsive Designs

These cater for users who surf the Web on mobile devices. Many countries already have more than 50% of surfers using mobiles, and the numbers are increasing for all countries. This is a fundamental change in the way people access the Net, and you will lose a lot of your visitors if your site does not handle mobile accesses..

Parallax Designs

Startling and impressive at first sight, but slow-loading and likely to distract from communication. A fad which is likely to fade. They are not mobile-friendly and usually cannot be scanned quickly. In our opinion parallax designs are ultimately doomed to be ignored by most visitors (just like most sliders), so if you are relying on a beautiful design to hold your visitors’ interest, then your site is in trouble.

Minimalist Designs

Great art, but poor communication. If your visitors have to guess at your message, they may guess wrong. Don’t make them think about what you mean – tell them clearly. This doesn’t have to be so, and this trend can be useful if coupled with good web copy.

Flat Designs

These can help to emphasise your message and offer minimum distraction. An uncluttered, quick-loading, format which offers many positives. Unfortunately, many examples do not convey a clear message.

3D Effects, Flat Design Elements, and Other Enhancements

Anything which can make your site easier to use or improve communication without affecting response times is welcome. These aren’t really design trends so much as improved graphical techniques. However, beware of anything new which is not handled equally well by all the different browsers.

Lazy Loading of Pages and Animations.

This is a useful technique which helps you to add interest for very little penalty when loading your pages. However, don’t get carried away by all the gimmicks and neglect the basic message you send. Tags, headlines, and copy are still the most crucial elements of an effective web page.

How to navigate 2015.

If you have a website redesign scheduled for 2015, make sure you’ve researched many options before choosing a web design partner as many of them will not only go along with the most fashionable trends at the time, but will actively promote the ones that cost the most to develop. In order to justify the investment you’re making in your new website, you’ll want real ROI, Ie. measurable results not just a pretty set of bells and whistles.

Top ten tips for a successful corporate re-branding

How to rebrand successfully

Sometimes managements find that they are running into a dead end, with opportunities beckoning while the company is not in a position to take full advantage of them because of its brand. If your company is in this position, the best way out could be to change direction and re brand. This path involves high risks (think “New Coke”), but could be the best way of taking advantage of new trends in the market or expanding niches.

Starbucks did this with great success when they wished to expand into slightly different markets: they handed the task over to Seattle’s Best Coffees. Without the baggage of the “Starbucks” label, this company changed focus on this different opportunity. But note that the Starbucks case was not a full re branding:They kept the original brand and allocated the desirable new markets to the reworked brand.

Here are what are arguably the 10 most important points to include in your plans:

|#1 ­ Re branding isn’t intended to fix a problem, and it also should not be seen merely as a public relations exercise.

The worst reason to try a re branding exercise is if your company has acquired a negative image due to poor service or some similar factor.In this case, trying to change the image of your business will not work unless you actually fix the reason for the problem, otherwise the perception will simply carry over: purely cosmetic changes will not be enough. this is much like a reorganisation, which gives the illusion of progress without accomplishing anything.

|#2 ­ Remember your website and social media campaigns.

These days, a website and social media strategy plays an integral role in any branding strategy. It is easy for senior management to overlook the importance of this factor, especially if they are more accustomed to older forms of marketing. Your plan must include provision for your existing customer database and ways of smoothing the transition without affecting existing SEO rankings and traffic numbers unduly. This is a complex task, and requires the services of a true expert in the field.

|#3 ­ Don’t try to do it on a shoestring budget.

While you should not simply throw money at the problem, skimping will not produce the results you are hoping for. The best way to keep expenses within bounds is with a comprehensive plan and tight controls. Having said that, programmatic marketing offers a way to get more “bang for your buck” in terms of advertising. This is particularly true if you operate in a niche market: mass marketers will be obliged to follow a more traditional route. If you have a choice, programmatic advertising is far superior to traditional methods.

|#4 ­ Don’t expect a first­rate job from second­rate people.

You must insist on the best people, so budget accordingly. This is the very worst place to try to cut costs.

|#5 ­ Be clear about what problem you are trying to solve and what you expect to achieve.

Ask staff who deal with customers if there are problems and how the company is perceived.. You really, really, need to know what the current perceptions of your company are. Don’t attempt to change your company’s image if it is not backed by the facts.

|#6 ­ Look at what your competitors are doing.

Is it working for them? Don’t despise a “me, too” strategy: giant companies have risen on the ashes of more innovative competitors by outdoing them at their own game. All the little rat­and mouse companies outflanked the mighty IBM to hijack the PC market. This might be a viable strategy for you. Look at what your competitors are doing badly, as this provides many excellent opportunities for your own position in the market. Also consider what other industries are doing, and see whether their strategies can be adapted to suit your purposes.

|#7 ­ Rather not re brand if your existing brand is well established and strongly associated with a particular market niche.

You have too much to lose and the danger of alienating your existing customer base is too great. The Starbucks option is a better bet, .allowing you to leave your existing brand intact but leverage its name to establish a secondary brand in a new niche. Remember that a supertanker has a much wider turning circle than a kayak, and a startup with your backing can adapt more easily. The New Coke, Crystal Pepsi, and other similar disasters should serve as a powerful warning.

|#8 ­ Seek partnerships.

Make sure any partnership is a win­win proposition which builds on the strengths of each partner. Consider buying a company which is already involved in your new market and building them.

|#9 ­ Be honest about the reason for the new brand.

If you are simply re­positioning to take advantage of new opportunities, say so. If you have problems you want to overcome, admit this and even make it a cornerstone of your marketing. “We’re No 2″, worked for Avis.

|#10 ­ Give it your very best shot.

Being half ­hearted about your new direction is a recipe for disaster. You might need to back out if it doesn’t work, but don’t make this contingency a large feature of your planning,otherwise you’re not likely to inspire great efforts from the people involved in the change.

Your employees must believe in the re branding: this will only happen if they see the changes taking place all around them. If it is merely a facelift, with business going on as usual, it will fail.

Synopsis

Even small businesses might need to be re­branded. For example, a small, startup, perfume manufacture brought out a line of quality, inexpensive, perfumes. Sales were dismal. The line was withdrawn, the name changed, and the same product was re launched at multiples of the original price, with stylish upmarket packaging.. The revised campaign was a huge success. There was nothing wrong with the product: Marketing had simply forgotten that price is part of the product in this case. After all, no women wants to be seen to use cheap perfume if she can afford something better.

In this case, a complete re branding was probably the only approach with any hope of success. Success was assured because the reasons for failure were correctly identified. There have been many highly successful re­brandings, most of which are simply forgotten because they are so successful. Failures are easier to remember, so it is much easier to point to highly publicised disasters. If the circumstances facing your company point to the need for this drastic solution, thorough planning and strong management should see you through to success. Get the right people to help you, and extend support for a sufficiently long after implementation of the change so you can adapt to any unexpected challenges.

Exposed – The dirty little secrets behind parallax websites

Parrallax Exposed

EXPOSED: The dirty little secrets of Amazing Parallax Websites!

Let me tell you about someone I met recently, called Harry. Harry is just like many other people with small businesses. While he was no design or development expert, he had a website which was happily chugging away so well that he could thank it for most of his customers. Just like many of us, he would have liked to make a bit more money. So he took to browsing the Net and looking at competitor’s sites, hoping to uncover something which he could use increase his own sales.

One day he found his biggest competitor had splashed out, and now had an amazing landing page. It had stunning graphics which included an awesome parallax design which was incredibly innovative. Never having seen parallax before, Harry was truly amazed.

“That’s amazing,!” he said to himself. “This is the answer! Stunning graphics that really stand out will treble my business!” (Sorry about all the exclamation marks, but that’s how you think when you’re excited.) So he sped off and got his friendly web designer to create an even more stunning landing page for his own website. Ht wanted it to ring all the bells and blow all the whistles.

In due time everything was implemented, and Harry sat back, waiting confidently for money to roll in by the bucketful. However, right from the beginning, while he got the same number of visitors and they were spending more time on his site, his conversion rate was well down. He found this disturbing, as he depended on the money from his online sales ­ his brick­and­mortar profits were inadequate for all but the bare necessities.

After a fortnight the situation was no better, although the number of visitors was up quite sharply. He tried changing his conversion funnel and added clickable banners, but nothing seemed to work. Harry was getting desperate and tried many different tweaks, without result. Eventually, Harry turned to a web marketing expert, and told him his sad story. This guru was very pragmatic, and had a good idea where the problem lay. A quick look at the website, and the diagnosis was complete.

Just what was going wrong? Much of what that guru told harry has now become common knowledge., Once all the evidence was in, heatmapping and multivariate testing showed that rotators, sliders, parallax designs and all the other innovative graphics are largely a waste of space on a web page. Let me say it another way: these special designs are really fascinating, but they can lower your conversion rate. Any web designers who try to convince you otherwise are doing you no favours.

In fact, if people visit your website because of your awesome graphics, you’re in deep trouble. They should come to you because the know you will give them a fantastic deal or provide quality service. Top­class service is Amazon’s secret success formula ­ despite a very mundane page design and ordinary conversion funnel ­ and it can also work for you. Harry now knows that a ho­hum design that does its job is better than a beautiful landing page which doesn’t convert.

He has also learnt the hard way not to implement a new design without testing the results. there are many tools out there which can be used to test changes and the efficiency of a website. There are also experts who know how to use them. In both cases, good ones will easily pay for themselves. What Harry also hadn’t realized is that his bounce rate had skyrocketed because his new site took a while to load. Slow­loading sites scare off large numbers of visitors. He also didn’t know that his extra visitor flow was coming from the social media (mainly Twitter and Pinterest) and weren’t potential customers, but just people curious about the graphics. His natural SEO rankings declined because Parallax designs are inherently SEO­unfriendly.

Changing the URL structure also meant that many former customers, visitors from the search engines, and referrals from backlinks were 404′d and sent to the competition instead. The new design was also unfamiliar to his old customers, and he lost a bit of their trust. After all, was this still the same person they had been used to doing business with? The dazzling design seemed a bit tricky to customers accustomed to a much more straightforward approach.

Lastly, his website had become very unfriendly to mobiles. While it is possible to make a parallax design relatively more mobile­friendly, Harry had not realized the importance of this factor.

The good news is that Harry was able to revert to his old design. It took a while, as many repeat customers were lost in this period of change, but eventually sales returned to their previous levels. He realized that any changes need to be tested before making a switch, and major changes involve major risks. Tread carefully, especially if a change could alter the focus of your web pages.

Looking back, it is easy to see that this type of design distracts from the message. Your conscious mind focuses on one thing at a time, just like a computer. It is best If a web page offers a visitor a solution to a problem without distractions.

What can you take away from this sad story? You must give visitors what they are looking for and need, not just wow them with incredible graphics. While there are some amazing techniques out there, it is important to stay in touch with the little voice of common sense which quietly asks, “Wonderful! But does it sell?” It may be possible to overcome the disadvantages if you make a huge effort, but why handicap yourself from the start?

Essential tips for choosing your creative partner

Essential tips for choosing your creative partner

Get Great Creative Partners to Help Create that High­Converting Website

You need to find the right creative partners if you expect to make money from e-commerce But there are so many companies out there offering all kinds of web services. Providing such services in­house might seem ideal , but most businesses simply can’t justify the expense. Anyway, the more skilled professionals often prefer to work on their own. This leaves you, the business owner, to choose the right people to craft that killer website.

The basic tasks you will need performed are: Design, Development, Testing, SEO, Support, Social Media Interactions and Analytics. These mostly require different skills, but all must be performed optimally for you to get the most from a website.

Freelancer or Agency? You should consider whether to use a small agency or a large one, or whether freelancers will suit you better. The answer to this depends to a great extent on your business and the nature and type of work you need done, as well as your personal preferences. A single freelancer is unlikely to have all the skills needed, as design, development, copywriting and SEO require quite disparate skills. However, most freelancers know others with complementary skills so they can provide a complete solution by working together.

Large agencies will usually have a number of staff with overlapping skills covering the whole spectrum of e­commerce development work. Smaller agencies might not have all the skills, but would probably outsource some of the work if necessary. Agencies may not have sufficient staff to give your project their full attention: This is especially true of the most successful agencies.

How much time do you have to devote to the project? If you work through freelancers you might need to spend more time managing the project, or one of the freelancers might be willing to take overall responsibility. Getting more involved is not a bad thing, as you can pick up any problems early, while they are still cheap to correct. With an agency, whether small or large, it will be possible to take a more hands­off approach and leave the management to the creative partner. Inputs from the company will be at a higher level, and more concerned with making sure deadlines and budgets are adhered to.

A good rule of thumb is that the more interest you take, the more satisfactory the results are likely to be. Whether you choose the agency or freelance route, you should make a point of keeping an eye on progress. Online project management software makes it easier to track progress and make sure that deadlines will not slip.

Establish your goals. Get examples of completed projects and testimonials. Consider how well they are likely to meet your goals; what is the major focus of their previous work?

How much can you afford? The budget you have available for the development is an important consideration. Remember that an expensive site may be less effective than a much cheaper development: effectiveness depends on how well you can persuade your visitors you can help them.: You don’t necessarily have to spend a fortune to get a steady stream of customers or clients.

Are they asking the right questions? Do the consultants ask questions which are focused on the business requirements and practicalities of your web page, or are they more involved in developing a prettier design. You want them to have a clear business focus.

Are they proceeding in the right order? Your headlines and content must drive the design, not the other way around. They must also focus on the benefits you offer. An effective website is not necessarily pretty – look at Amazon if you doubt this. It is easy to navigate with a great conversion funnel. As far as that goes, the less information you collect, the better.

What sort of implementation plan are they proposing? If you are changing an existing design, what are their plans for testing changes? Have they considered any issues with transferring existing data?

Are they prepared to maintain the site once complete? Support will be cheaper if you use the people who originally developed the site. They will also understand the importance of the various aspects to the design.

Do they have adequate resources to cope with the extra work? If possible, speak to current clients about their support levels. What plans have they made for the extra load?

How quickly do they respond. It certain skills are available in­house, a freelancer or small agency might be all that is needed to supplement those skills. This approach will tend to split the responsibility and may lead to a certain amount of friction and disruption in the long term.

Any website should have a specific purpose. You need to be clear about what is needed and not dissipate that focus. The most successful websites are all very good at presenting a clear message. If people are not sure what it is you’re offering, they won’t commit to anything, either.

Pre­Project Check list: Questions Your Website Developers Should Ask You

Pre-Project Check list for web projects

You want to be sure you are getting the right developers to build your website. A good way of knowing if your website developers know their jobs is the kind of questions they ask you. If the following questions are on their list, then you have a good indication you will get what you need.

What do you expect from your online marketing effort? This will indicate whether you merely want to get an email address, are looking to trigger an initial enquiry, or simply want a site which will enhance your standing in the market. Being clear about this will make it easier to create a site with the right impact.

|Why is your company different?

Who are you and how will your business help customers?
Also known as an “elevator pitch”, this brief statement identifies your company, what your company does, and how you can make a difference. The idea is this: If you were in an lift with a potential client and you had only a limited time to make the right impression, what would you say to describe your business succinctly.

What is your mission statement?
While this is not usually of crucial importance to visitors, it does establish a reference point for the designers and could be useful when deciding on the story you want your website to tell.

|What is the purpose of your website?

What do you expect from your website?
Must it get email addresses or initial contacts, is it an affiliate marketing site, dust it sell products, or is it simply an online brochure for your company? Whichever of these is true,you need to make an impact right from the start and a clear focus will make it easier to produce a knockout design.

Is getting fully­ qualified leads difficult?
Qualified leads have a high conversion rate and are more cost­effective. It may be that you need to change your keyword focus or marketing approach to improve the situation.

What are your biggest challenges when closing qualified leads?
What are the common sticking points or clients?

Which of your corporate goals, either long or short­ term, are likely to affect the design?
You want your site to be aligned with your marketing efforts.

|Who buys your goods or services?

How would you best describe your visitors?
Are there specific sectors, industry segments, company sizes, or geographical areas which are being targeted. This can have a profound effect on a design, although it must be remembered that B2B is still person-­to-­person.

What factors influence the way your market responds?
The characteristics of your target market will influence how you present an appropriate message.

What are the most common needs and problems of your clients, and how can you help?
These needs and problems are your best marketing opportunities.

Are the characteristics of your market consistent, or are there widely different client profiles to be considered?
It is more difficult to cater for a divergent market, and it may be necessary to employ Behavioural Targeting to optimise your site for different segments of your market.

|Your competitors as benchmarks

What makes those companies stand out from the pack, and where do they fall short?
By knowing what they see as their strengths and identifying any weaknesses, you will know which of your own strengths to emphasise.

Are there any elements of the online activities of these companies you would like to model?
It would be a mistake to automatically do everything differently: What works for one company will often also work for others. There are many successful “me, too” companies around.

What gives your company an edge over your competitors?
You want to emphasize these points strongly in any interaction with your visitors. This will also help to qualify your leads.

|Your current website

What do you like most about your existing website?
You want to be sure to include a feature you know to be working well or which is particularly associated with your web presence in your new design.

What do you really hate?
You need to think about why you hate it and whether it might actually be doing a good job before you discard it. Remember, you may think your site is ugly, but your visitors may be perfectly happy with it.

Which aspects of the present site are slated for inclusion in a future design?
This makes a good starting point for a new design.

How much business is it bringing you?
You want to be careful not to lose your existing SEO ranking or any current business.

Do you have data such as an email list or customer details which needs to be migrated?
Existing customers will hate it if you ask them to re­enter their details, and you will probably lose many of them.

What do you expect your new website to do for your business?
What functionality is required, you want to make sure that your site will handle your business needs suchnt to generate leads as downloads or accepting payments.

What visual elements are important?
You must be sure this are included in the design.

Do you have any colour preferences?
Colour is an important element in any design.

Do you have any logos, SEO keywords, or slogans to be included?
These need to be included up front to be sure they complement the final design.

|Time and money

What development phases do you envisage?
It may require a phased development to get essential changes in place quickly. An initial simplified phase to test certain proposed innovations can also help to clarify the reaction of your visitors before you commit too much money. You will then also have a better idea of the likely cost and impact of subsequent phases.

What is your budget?
How much can you afford to spend, preferably detailed by phase. A phased implementation plan allows you to commit limited funds for the each phase, while firming up your estimates in the light of experience as you progress.

How much have you allowed for annual maintenance and support?
Once your site is up and running, that is by no means the end of the story. It is likely you will need to tweak it, especially in the beginning. Your business needs or customer focus may also change, requiring the site to be adapted. Testing possible adaptations on an ongoing basis is essential to keep your site at its best.

How much time have you allowed for testing?
It is best to test the effect of proposed changes before committing to a new design, if at all possible. Without testing you are simply guessing.

|Support and Maintenance

What are your requirements regarding ongoing support of the site?
Do you anticipate that you may need to adapt your site in order to preserve or enhance its impact? The consultants responsible for the initial development will be most familiar with the programming and best situated to provide the most cost­effective support.

|Measuring Your Site’s Performance

Google Analytics provides some useful tools to measure the effectiveness of your site and even test changes. These and other tools allow you to test proposed minor changes and tweak your website. Changing the colour of a button may sometimes result in a substantial increase in conversions, so there is a lot that can be done without a total revamp.