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2020 Hunting or Firearm E-commerce Website

5 “Must-Do’s” Before Starting a Hunting or Firearms E-commerce Website 2022

By Firearms and Hunting

Firearms, hunting and shooting brands have awakened to the fact that a strong e-commerce component is critical to doing business in the future—especially now that COVID-19 has changed consumer buying habits for good

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  1. How to build your ecommerce website for your buyer persona
  2. The importance of preparing your product library
  3. Identify product fulfillment methods
  4. Security issues
  5. Should you consider an enterprise solution?

With more retail outlets closing, disruption within distribution, some large firearms and hunting brands are bypassing distribution and dealers and going straight to the customer. The manufacturer/dealer relationship is still vital to most brands, and will remain so for the foreseeable future — but the trends are getting harder and harder to ignore because of customer behavior changes.    

Here are some interesting statistics according to Fortunly:

  • More than 80% of online shopping carts are abandoned before checkout on mobile devices.
  • American consumers spent around $8.9 billion on online shopping during Black Friday 2021.
  • eCommerce sales are expected to surpass $735 billion by 2023.
  • It is estimated that 95% of all purchases will be made online by 2040.
  • eCommerce businesses lose more than $75 billion per year because of bad customer service.
  • eCommerce sales are expected to reach $7.3 trillion on a global scale by 2025.
  • Around 80% of US customers said that free shipping would make them more likely to make an online purchase
  • Credit cards are the most popular payment method for shopping online, followed by electronic wallets and debit cards.

In this post, I want to give you five critical “must-dos” (before you consider how to generate traffic) if you’re evaluating a new e-commerce website initiative that will help you organize your team, save time and make it easier and faster to implement your new e-commerce-based website if you are a manufacturer or retailer. 

1. Build your e-commerce website for your buyer persona

Before you get to the part of what you want your website to look like, nothing will bring your web team more clarity and focus than understanding your buyer persona.
You most likely have a good idea of who your customer is—but taking the time to understand what they want from your website will make all the difference. Seek to understand what their wants, needs, problems, behaviors, and questions are.

Create a web experience based on them and use story to create clear messaging.  This will ultimately make for higher sales and less abandoned carts.

2. Prepare your product image library

firearms ecommerce product image

Photograph products on a clean white background.

The second step is establishing your product library. If you’re a large manufacturer, you may have over 2000 SKU’s that are jumbled into a hundred different sizes, on gray backgrounds, outdated, or that show your product in a less than ideal format. Since this aspect of the project can take the longest, you can save a lot of time by starting now.
Start by creating a shot list:

  • What products need to be reshot?
  • Which product images can be reused?
  • Locate a lifestyle photographer
  • Have the photographer provide the raw sizes and cropped images set to 1000 x 1000 pixels for use on the website

Sort all these on a spreadsheet so the photographer can easily sort and organize when it comes time to shoot your products. Make sure you place all your products on a white background. Placing products on a clean white background allows your product to be the hero and creates a clear understanding in your customers mind without any unnecessary background clutter.

3. Identify how you’re going to fulfill orders

With over 20,000 (Source: CNS) laws on the books—determining how you want to fulfill orders that comply with federal, state and local laws is the next consideration and if you’re a firearm manufacturer. Below are five considerations.

1. Utilize a third-party cart.
Ruger, for example, utilizes the GearFire and Gallery of Guns.com to sell its products online. All you need to do is apply for membership with your FFL and set up an account. This can also be done through your distributor. This allows your products to be embedded in hundreds if not thousands of online gun store websites and outdoor specialty retailers and takes the hassle out of you (or your staff) having to deal with running your online store. The downfall is you rely on their somewhat antiquated looking shopping cart that doesn’t align with your website’s look and feel.

2. Ship direct to customer via an FFL
Daniel Defense’s website is an example of how to set up a shopping cart where the product is shipped directly to an FFL of your customer’s choosing. They will enter their local FFLs address, notify them that your firearm is being shipped to them, and the FFL will handle all the paperwork. This all happens after the purchase. There are hundreds of shopping cart software solutions on the internet from WooCommerce and Magento to name a few. Choose the software that best suits your needs and one that you feel is easiest to use. I recommend WooCommerce as it is used by over 21% of all shopping carts on the web if you’re doing a custom install with WordPress. 

2022 UPDATE: I do not recommend signing up with any third-party solutions like Miva, Wix, GoDaddy, and especially Shopify, who as of (August 16, 2018) has banned Franklin Armory from using their platform. When building on these networks, you are essentially handing over your lawful online business that puts you at risk because these providers can shut you down at anytime—sometimes without warning.

firearms ecommerce diagram

 

3. Dealer only
Springfield Armory, Benelli and Beretta only sell through their dealer network—some use a hybrid (dealer and third-party cart). You can purchase other accessories on their websites, but to purchase a firearm you are redirected to a dealer locator.

4. What States should I NOT ship to?
Some manufacturers do not ship to New York, Illinois or Hawaii. Other states have magazine restrictions like Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and California. The anti-gun laws in these States are very confusing and can leave you open to a lawsuit. It’s better to not even take the risk unless you have a good attorney advise you on your options.

5. What shipping provider should I use?
The shipping of firearms seems to constantly change. The main rule of thumb is to always ship to an authorized FFL—never to a personal residence. Below is the latest information from GunBroker.com. If you have any questions, it’s always wise to check with your attorney, USPS, UPS or FEDEX representative.

  • US Mail – unlicensed persons:
    • Unlicensed persons can ship a rifle or shotgun by US Mail.
    • Unlicensed persons cannot ship a handgun by US Mail. Pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person (for example, short-barreled shotguns and short-barreled rifles) are defined as handguns.
    • Postal regulations allow the Post Office to open your package for inspection.
    • Ammunition cannot be shipped by US Mail.

    You can search the US Post Office Postal Explorer site for specific USPS regulations regarding firearms and ammunition (Hazardous, Restricted and Perishable Matter).

    US Mail – licensed persons:

    • Licensed persons can ship rifles, shotguns, or handguns by US Mail. In fact, we suggest you use the USPS, as it is now the most cost-effective way to ship a handgun.
    • To ship a rifle or shotgun, you need only inform the Post Office the package contains a firearm.
    • A licensed manufacturer, dealer, or importer can ship a handgun via the US Post Office if the licensed dealer fills out a US Post Office Form PS 1508 and files it with the local Post Office branch where the handgun is to be shipped.

    You can search the US Post Office Postal Explorer site for specific USPS regulations.

    FedEx (Updated September 17, 2022):


    UPS (Updated July 11, 2022)
    :

6. Flat rate or box size?
The easiest and most hassle-free way to ship your products is by weight. You can set-up different weight tiers of pricing for all of your products. However, if you’re in a segment that is highly competitive and $5-$10 is a factor in getting the sale, then be prepared to discount your shipping.

4. Get the security issues out of the way

The next “must-do” is security and encryption. Everyone who sells online must take precautions for their customer’s data. And with every website now a target for hackers, it’s more important than ever.

1. Payment Processor or Gateway
To take payments online, you first need a payment processor. Authorize.Net acts as the middleman in between you and your merchant bank account that securely transfers funds from your customers’ credit card to your account. During this process, Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discover—whatever credit cards you accept on your site all take a percentage of the sale, usually 1.5-2%. Your bank may also charge a percentage as well. Be sure to configure these fees into your product costs.

2. A Secure Socket Layer or SSL is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and your customer’s browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. You can purchase an SSL through a number of providers like Symantec, Thawte, or RapidSSL. Your host provider will need to install it for you. Before purchasing an SSL, make sure to ask your host provider what kind of server software they use for example, Apache, Oracle, IBM or others.

3. Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy pages are essential in protecting your site from users who may encounter problems. These important legal pages on your website ensure your business is protected from any fraudulent behavior from users. Read here for more information and some horror stories. Always get an attorney to look over your T&C and PP before launch. 

4. Secure and Speedy Hosting is usually the last component considered when building your e-commerce website. But beware, there are many services out there who sell you on services and packages you don’t need and who guarantee speed and security but fail to deliver. One #2A friendly company that we recommend is WP Engine. WP Engine provides you with a secure and fast platform to run your WordPress website. For many years, we have enjoyed little to no downtime, fast speeds and literally no hacks. With Google now ranking websites based on speed, WP Engine remains a good choice for the hunting and firearms industry.

  • Content Delivery Network
  • Included SSL
  • Content Page Performance
  • Fast 24/7 Support
  • Staging Server
  • 24/7/365 Backup

Pick A Plan

5. Consider an Enterprise Solution

For enterprise manufacturers, it may be time to connect your CRM, ERP, and WMS and eCommerce altogether. Companies like NetSuite, Sage, SAP and other software companies serve larger companies with large global inventories with complex supply chains. These software solutions allow you to manage your inventories in greater detail and with greater efficiency. If you’re a large manufacturer, taking the time to explore these solutions may be what you need rather than a simple shopping cart. A SAP or NetSuite implementation can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. If that seems like overkill, there are other low to mid-market solutions like Magento Enterprise that can be connected to your back-office operations and warehouse that tracks inventory, shipping, and accounting.

In conclusion, when considering your next e-commerce store, it’s important to identify who your buyer persona is, get a good product image library created, identify what kind of shopping cart setup you want, make sure you have the right security components in place to take payments securely and if you’re an enterprise manufacturer, consider a larger solution to more efficiently run your operations.

By taking into consideration these five “must-dos,” you’ll have what you need to engage a web development firm and make your website project go much faster.

 


firearms ecommerce website planner

FREE DOWNLOAD: Website Design Planner for the Hunting, Outdoor and Firearms Industry

A time-saving guide on how to plan an effective website that meets your online business and branding goals.
In this planning guide, we help you and your team think through the critical points of the website design process that helps you form a specifications document to obtain accurate pricing.

Download by filling out this form: 


Firearm Digital Marketing

What are Successful Firearm Digital Marketers Doing That You Aren’t?

By Firearms and Hunting

 

If you’ve ever launched a new website that didn’t attract visitors or sales, poured time and money into a search engine optimization plan that failed to improve your position in Google, or watched in vain as your social media posts fell flat, then you probably ask yourself a common question: what are my successful competitors doing that I am not?

In my experience, the answers tend to be surprisingly simple. Although a lot of business owners imagine it must come down to differences in budgets, we have learned that most successful firearm digital marketers simply share a few common traits and habits. If you’re seeing another company do better than you are, here are a few of the likely reasons why…

They know who their buyer personas are

While a lot of average marketers take a random approach to their messaging, the best know exactly who they are trying to reach and what kind of message they want to convey. If you aren’t sure what your best prospects look like, and where they hang out on the web, you’re going to have a hard time reaching them in a cost-effective way.

They have a distinct brand message

With so many me-too products, taglines, slogans and imagery in the firearm industry—successful digital marketers also have a firm understanding of what their brand purpose, positioning and value proposition is in their respective segments. They then beat key messaging into every piece of communication through text, imagery, tone, and style.

They invest in growth-driven web design

Unsuccessful business owners tend to see web design and digital marketing as a one-time cost. The best, on the other hand, devote a monthly or quarterly budget with the goal of improving and optimizing website performance over time. That’s important because consumer behavior, technology, and competitor tactics change roughly every six months. Conversely, it’s hard to do well when you take a “one-and-done” approach and try to accomplish everything at once.

They keep adding new blog posts and social content

Experienced marketers know that customer interest, search engine traffic, and a strong social following are all the byproduct of regular content updates and engagement. So, they work hard to release new content on a regular schedule. If you simply let your website and social profiles set without any new updates or additions, customers and search engines alike are going to perceive your business as having gone stale.

They check their web analytics regularly

The longer you spend in digital marketing, the more you learn that the devil – along with the opportunities – is always in the details. By paying attention to web analytics, you can see trends developing in real-time and remove bottlenecks from your website or sales funnel. But, if you aren’t keeping a close eye on the numbers—or you don’t even know what your numbers are—it’s difficult to make sense of the seemingly random results you get from your website from one week to the next.

They are getting experienced creative help

Web design and digital marketing are highly complex topics. Even if most business owners and executives could manage to stay on top of all that’s going on in our industry, they wouldn’t have time to execute most of their best plans and ideas. That’s why they turn to experienced creative teams that have a proven track record of success. Without a bit of outside help, they just wouldn’t have the time and focus needed to get everything done.

Digital marketing can be incredibly complicated, but it’s based on simple principles. If you aren’t getting the help you need, or the right kinds of results, now is the perfect time to call us and see how we can help in 2017!

 

firearms-growth-driven-design

Free Download:
Introduction to Growth-Driven Web Design

Is your website performing at its peak, or has it been sitting idle for 2-3 years? Was your last website redesign over-budget, out of scope and delivered late?

In this ebook, Luke Summerfield explains a different approach to website design that will help you save cost, launch faster and create a more effective sales and marketing tool that will grow leads, customers and sales online.

[easyembed field=”CTA”]

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

Digital Firearm Marketing

3 Digital Firearm Marketing Trends Poised To Continue In 2017

By Firearms and Hunting

 

It’s not always easy to tell the future in the world of Internet marketing. New ideas, apps, and challenges can seem to spring up from nowhere in a heartbeat. However, there are some trends and ideas that are so clear and profound that you can’t help but notice them on the horizon. The rise of search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising (firearms excluded), and social media (as examples) were all fairly easy to see coming for those of us working in the firearms and hunting industry.

And so, as we gear up for the end of an eventful year and head into SHOT Show, it’s worth taking a moment to look ahead and see which new ideas are likely to pick up steam in the coming year as you evaluate your marketing plan. If you want to get a jump on your competitors, and make your business as profitable as possible, here are three firearm digital marketing trends you should prepare for in 2017…

1. Mobile-First Web Design

In a relatively short amount of time, responsive web design became the accepted way to create new websites because it allowed companies to maintain one presence that would work for desktop, tablet, and mobile visitors all at the same time. Now, many businesses are thinking primarily of mobile web visits, since they make up a growing majority of all web traffic.

Responsive design still makes the most sense for the average firearm or hunting business. The big change, though, is the knowledge that mobile visitors are likely to make up the bulk of your visits within the next year or two. And now with Google adding a mobile-only index to mobile users, if you’re not responsive, then you’re basically non-existent. 

2. Local And Niche Search Marketing for Firearm Dealers

Not so long ago, engaging in search engine optimization or pay-per-click marketing meant competing against other businesses in your market or industry from around the world. But, customers have gotten savvier – looking for both local businesses and those that can meet very niche demands especially when looking for the best deals.

The net result is that marketers have to be much more focused about the kind of visits they attract online. Targeting large groups of buyers might sound appealing, but it’s no longer efficient.

3. Conversion Optimization

Because the effort and expense associated with attracting visits to the website has gone up, the pressure on marketers to convert visitors into buyers has become greater, too. And so, companies aren’t just worrying about their search engine positioning, but also the rate at which potential customers are completing purchases and requesting information.

If your website isn’t efficient, then you’re leaving money on the table. Or, you might not even be making money at all. For those reasons, conversion rate optimization (which is the art and science of turning web visitors into buyers) is going to keep getting a lot of attention.

There’s no guarantee these will be the only three trends you have to worry about next year, but you can bet being ready for them will put you in a much better position than most of the other companies in your segment. Isn’t that worth aiming for?

 

firearms-growth-driven-design

Free Download:
Introduction to Growth-Driven Web Design

Is your website performing at its peak, or has it been sitting idle for 2-3 years? Was your last website redesign over-budget, out of scope and delivered late?

In this ebook, Luke Summerfield explains a different approach to website design that will help you save cost, launch faster and create a more effective sales and marketing tool that will grow leads, customers and sales online.

[easyembed field=”CTA”]

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

Firearm Website Design

10 Things To Boost Your Firearm Website’s Credibility and Trust

By Firearms and Shooting

 

If your website was designed over three years ago, there is a good chance that your firearms business is missing out on potential leads and sales.

If your website is suffering from high bounce rates, low traffic, cluttered pages or is just plain ugly—it may be time to update your website.

Here are ten things to keep in mind.

1. Design a professional impression

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make sure that your website is credible. Don’t use pixelated and small pictures of your products. Take the time and invest in your photo library. Most prospective customers will get annoyed and leave your site for your competitors—especially if they’re are struggling on what firearm to buy. Use a credible color palette and a clean layout that uses white space as a design element that doesn’t crowd your pages’ most important messages.

2. Verify and cite your sources

When blogging be sure to cite your information; include a link to the source on everything you reference. This will allow you to leverage industry experts and lend credibility to your topic. This also will help in getting your content shared on social media by industry influencers. (Source: HubSpot)

3. Show your people

Your people are the key differentiator in a marketplace full of identical competitors™. Show your people and list their expertise and link to their personal social media profiles like LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. This shows “social proof” and humanizes your brand.

4. Show real testimonials of real people

If you have great testimonials and reviews, ask your customers if they wouldn’t mind having their picture on your website. This improves your credibility and trust factor even more. Find them on Twitter and follow them back!

5. Make it easy to contact you

Give your customers an easy way to contact you if they have a problem with your product. Use a contact form, list your physical address, add a picture of your building, a map with directions, phone number and email address. Use your Facebook page or Twitter feed to answer questions or concerns about your products.

6. Don’t make your visitors think

Create an easy and intuitive navigation bar that segments their interests. Create a content strategy that is easy to read and follow. Use big section titles, white space and visuals to improve the “stickiness” of your web page. Don’t clutter your pages with paragraphs of text. Identify the 2-3 main points you want to communicate about your services or product and format the page accordingly. Ask yourself: what is the number one thing I want our prospect to know about our product/service? Use a Call to Action (CTA) that tells them what to do next: sign up for your email updates; follow on Facebook, download manual.

7. Refresh content regularly

Customers that see a website that is regularly updated—assign more trust to your company. Create a blog and update it at least weekly. Companies who blog receive 55% more traffic, 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages. (Source: Writtent). By building your website pages based on your keywords—brick-by-brick, over time— you will naturally accumulate more traffic.

8. Security

Add a secure socket layer (SSL) to your site that proves to your prospects and customers that their data is safe and that you are a credible and viable business. It’s also been shown that Google will give you a slight bump in rankings. (Source: Search Engine Land) You can get an SSL at GoDaddy.com for around $60.

9. Avoid spelling errors and typos

Have you ever came across a website filled with sporadic spelling errors? Or the improper use of your, you’re, there or their? Make sure you have someone proof your copy to get rid of any spelling errors and typos. Correct grammar and spelling is crucial in today’s content-consuming internet. 

10. Create a responsive layout for mobile and tablet

51% compared to desktop (42%) use mobile as their primary internet source. (Source: SmartInsights) When designing your website, make sure that the layout responds on desktop as well as mobile and tablet devices. A cluttered or misaligned layout can be very distracting and reduces your brand’s credibility.

In conclusion, by taking into account these ten things to boost your firearm website’s credibility and trust—you will increase leads, on-page visits and reduce bounce rates and ultimately your bottom line. 

growth-driven-design-firearms-web-design

How to Use Growth-Driven Web Design To Build Your Firearms Business

By Firearms and Hunting

 

If you’re a firearms manufacturer or work for one, you’re most likely familiar with the term “Agile.” If you’re not, here’s a quick primer: In regards to product development, Agile is a process that says you will make incremental iterations along a timeline based on wish lists or goals for your product (or service) in short development cycles, learning and improving as you go based on customer feedback.

Contrast this with traditional approaches to firearm manufacturing—were it’s an all or nothing approach to product development, which is typically how most manufacturers’ processes go.

With manufacturing going through massive transformation (Source: McKinsey), process and management terms like Agile, Scrum, Six Sigma and Lean—are becoming more commonplace and accepted manufacturing processes due to rapidly changing consumer behaviors of personalization, faster delivery, and customization.

Steve Denning from Forbes writes: “One would think that with the declining returns from traditional business strategy the need to become more agile would be obvious and that firms would be embracing the radical management practices and values of Agile. Yet even today, Agile is largely ignored by senior management and business schools. In some ways, Agile remains the best-kept management secret on the planet.”

But what does “Agile” have to do with your website?

Your website is the hardest working sales person in your company. Here’s why:

  • It doesn’t go home at night
  • It’s working 24/7/365 for your business
  • It is the hub of all your marketing and advertising activities
  • 57% of the sales cycle is over before a dealer or customer contacts/purchases from you because they visited your website first (Source: CEB)
  • 80-90% of your customers research products online before purchasing (Source: Retailing Today)
  • It is the basis of all your social media efforts
  • It can reach more interested dealers, distributors and customers than any trade show, print ad or T.V. show
  • It’s the source of building a viable email marketing list
  • Every customer interaction can be tracked

And the list goes on and on. With more and more of your customers researching and buying firearms and accessories online first (Source: NSSF), your website should—and if not—be your hardest working sales person. 

In this post, I want to introduce you to a different way of thinking about your next firearm website design (that you most likely are dreading) and how you can approach it in an “agile-way” that is more budget-friendly, produces greater results and is based on your customer rather than assumptions.

Traditional Web Design

For a long time, the all-or-nothing approach to web development has been the standard. A typical project starts out with you knowing that your company’s website is outdated and needs to be redesigned.

So you go searching online for a design agency to develop the site. You narrow it down to 3 firms and choose one based on price, capability and delivery.

Typical website design costs range somewhere between $10,000 to $80,000+. This means you have to come up with a large sum of capital up front and then devote 3-4 months of your time to the project. Your site goes live—most likely over budget and out of scope—and then it sits there for 2-3 years until you have to redesign again.

firearms-website-design-risks

 

But there is a bigger problem.

How will you know that the website you just launched is the best possible performing website that achieves your revenue goals and provides you a return on your investment? With a traditional approach, you base your firearm website design on a hypothesis of what will work—not what’s been proven. And this is why the traditional approach to web development is broken.

Growth-Driven Web Design

Now let’s apply an “agile” approach, or what is called by Luke Summerfield, Growth-Driven Design to web design and development.

In a growth driven design model or GDD, you do everything in a traditional web design model, except you adjust and build your website in short intervals over time based on user feedback, not assumptions of what your users want.

 

growth-driven-design-firearms-website
There are three main benefits to Growth-Driven Design:

  1. Minimize risk associated with traditional web design
    You work to avoid the risks of traditional web design by taking a systematic approach to shorten the time to launch, focusing on real impact and continuous learning and improvement.
  2. Continuously learn and improve
    You are constantly researching, testing and learning about your visitors to inform on-going website improvements. Through continuous improvements, you can reach peak performance.
  3. As you learn, inform marketing and sales (and vice versa)
    Growth-Driven Design is tightly integrated with inbound marketing & sales. What we learn about visitors helps inform and improve marketing & sales strategies and tactics (and vice versa).

The GDD process is much more effective, and it turns your website into a sales and marketing machine that is constantly improving over time versus leaving your website to drift over the next 2-3 years like most companies in the industry do. (Source: Luke Summerfield)

The Growth-Driven Design Process

Instead of going through the long traditional web design process of one and done, with GDD—you focus on creating strategy first, getting online quickly with the bare minimum requirements—and then iterate over the course of the next year as you plan, develop, learn and transfer your understanding to marketing and sales as you go, then rinse and repeat. 

growth-driven-firearms-website-design

1. Strategy
In the strategy phase, you do everything in the traditional web design process but, prioritize what you need now, and what you will need later allowing you to get online faster.

  • Goals
  • Personas
  • Website & Analytics Audit
  • User Experience Research
  • Fundamental Assumptions
  • Global & Page Strategy
  • Brainstorm Wishlist

2. Launch Pad Site
In the launch pad phase, you go live with your new website with the bare minimum requirements based on what has worked in the past. This typically involves listing all your best selling products (or services), adding new photography, new design template(s) and some new content or positioning messages.

  • Map out process: Messaging, copy, wireframes, UX, design, develop, Q&A
  • Collaborate with team based on specific customer/client and action items

3. Plan, Develop, Learn and Transfer
After the launch pad site has been launched, using tools like heat mapping, usability testing, analytics and qualitative customer feedback, you build and improve your website. Also worth mentioning is the SEO benefits that keeps your content fresh, which according to MOZ, allows you to rank higher on Google

If you realize the importance of how your website can grow your business, Growth-Driven Design offers a greater opportunity for forward-thinking firearm companies to engage their customers with an increased level of customer satisfaction, communication, product development and brand building that in the end ultimately saves you time, cost and grows your business more effectively. 

So to sum up, Growth-Driven Design:

  1. Gets your new website launched faster
  2. Takes a phased approach that helps your budget
  3. Is based on user feedback, not assumptions
  4. Is constantly being improved over time (content, functions, features, modules, etc.)
  5. Works with single stakeholders within your company one at a time, minimizing internal conflict and achieving each department’s goals more effectively
  6. Less up-front cost and risk

If you’re interested in learning more about GDD and if it might be a good fit for your firearms business, download the eBook below. I’d also be happy to take whatever questions you have to help improve your current website and inbound marketing efforts.

Related Resources:

Summerfield, Luke. Rethinking Web Design Webinar
(Accessed October 30, 2015)  https://www.growthdrivendesign.com

 

firearms-growth-driven-design

Free Download:
Introduction to Growth-Driven Web Design

Is your website performing at its peak, or has it been sitting idle for 2-3 years? Was your last website redesign over-budget, out of scope and delivered late?

In this ebook, Luke Summerfield explains a different approach to website design that will help you save cost, launch faster and create a more effective sales and marketing tool that will grow leads, customers and sales online.

[easyembed field=”CTA”]

 

10 Secrets to better home page design

10 Secrets To Better Home Page Design

By Web Design

With only 3-5 seconds to capture your website visitor’s attention, your company’s home page is one of your most important pieces of brand real estate.

If you’re a business owner (or marketer), knowing the secrets to effective home page design is critical to success in the realm of inbound marketing. In this article, I’ll give you the recipe that will help you design a better home page that will decrease your bounce rates, improve customer conversions and improve your brand’s digital impression. 

To begin, there are 5 overarching secrets to building a better home page.

1. Cognitive fluency
home page web designCognitive fluency is simply a measure of how easy it is to think about something, and it turns out that people prefer things that are easy to think about to those that are hard.

Google researchers found that users judge a website as “beautiful” within 1/50th – 1/20th of a second. “Visually complex” websites are consistently rated as “less than beautiful” as their simpler counterparts.

Let me an illustrate an example. Have you ever gone on a blind date?

As soon as you open the door — you’re able to within 1/50th of a second determine if the person standing before you is attractive or not. 

Websites work a lot like a blind date. You punch in a keyword not knowing what to expect until the page loads—and when the page finally loads—you either bounce away in horror or you pleasantly choose to stay—gazing at the beautiful layout in front of you. 

When designing your home page, simple = beautiful. 

2. Simple navigation
Simple navigation keeps the home page clean and gets your visitor to where they want to go quickly. Try to keep your navigation to an absolute minimum. Design your website’s architecture in a way that doesn’t detract from your overall goal. Notice the examples in this article. The examples shown have 3-5 navigation topics max.

Website Homepage Design3. Relevant color scheme
Keep your colors appropriate and in context to your industry. Do you need a dark color palette to convey luxury—or a more lighthearted palette to show approachability? Know what colors are used in your industry for maximum appeal. Find out more about your buyer persona to get an understanding of what will resonate with your target audience.

4. Streamlined next steps
What do you want your customer to do when they are on your website? Download an ebook? Contact you? Map out what you want them to do next. Don’t leave your visitor hanging. Think for them and move them through the buyer awareness stage using strong call to actions (CTA’s).

Now that you know the 5 overarching factors for a successful home page design, now you need to know the 5 elements and how they are implemented.

5. Logo

Your logo design serves as the anchor point for your website and communicates your company’s credibility and trust. Eye patterns start from top left and go down toward the right. An interesting and professional logo makes a great first impression. 

Website-Homepage-Design-Saucony6. Main image = main message

Next is your main image with the main idea that you want to communicate. Your message should be short and succinct. Be clear, not clever. Your imagery should position your brand accordingly and be tied to your main message. The image should be creative and eye catching. This is your chance to “stick” your visitor to your site. If someone hits your site and immediately bounces off, it’s because your message was not clear and they found your site unexciting or irrelevant.

7. Service offerings

Scrolling down—you should now tell your visitors what you offer and how you can help them. Make sure the text is written for them. By accurately defining your buyer persona, you’ll be able to talk their language in a way that grabs their attention and presents the impression that you understand them. This works in your favor to convince them you’re the company for the job.

8. Why work with you?
Next, you want to present the reasons why someone would want to work with you. These should be the top 3-4 things that separate you from your competitors and distinguish your brand. Make the reasons compelling enough and link to the areas of your website for more information and to track engagement.


Website-Homepage-Design-Hubspot9. Social proof
People tend to follow people. By showing social proof that people like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter can lend real validity to your above claims. If possible, showcase real customer testimonials with faces. This is the icing on the cake for presenting a credible narrative by showing others who you’ve helped.

10. Load time & responsiveness
Users want sites that load fast and that are responsive (iPad, iPhone and Desktop). By keeping your content simple and optimizing your images correctly you can decrease load times. If you’ve hired a web design company to build your site—ask them about load times and if they use content distribution networks (CDN), browser caching and if they will minify javascript and CSS for a faster loading home page. Below are some interesting stats on load times according to MOZ.

  • If your site loads in 5 seconds it is faster than approximately 25% of the web
  • If your site loads in 2.9 seconds it is faster than approximately 50% of the web
  • If your site loads in 1.7 seconds it is faster than approximately 75% of the web
  • If your site loads in 0.8 seconds it is faster than approximately 94% of the web

See how your website stacks up at: Pingdom

In conclusion, knowing the secrets for better home page design will ensure lower bounce rates and attention grabbing messaging you need to move your customer further down your sales funnel for customer conversion. These factors when taken into account will turn your website into a revenue generating machine.

Responsive-Website-Planner
FREE DOWNLOAD: Website Design Planner

A time saving guide on how to plan an effective website that meets your online business and branding goals.
In this planning guide, we help you and your team think through the critical points of the website design process that helps you form a specifications document to obtain accurate pricing

[easyembed field=”10secretsCTA”]

 

 

 

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Professional web design

Can Your Website Do These 5 Things?

By Web Design

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes most marketers and business owners make is that they overlook their website’s true potential. We know that a website is a necessity to do business. We know how our site should function and what kind of information it needs to contain. But a lot of times we don’t quite grasp the importance of how—that with a few changes—our company’s website could be modified to work harder for our businesses.

Below are 5 things you didn’t know your website could do. More than a pretty face —your website has much more potential than you think.

1. Make you look bigger than you are
If you’re a smaller business looking to attract big clients, your website is the first step. In today’s digital world, impression and trust is everything. A website can communicate your brand’s unique message and connect with your prospect. Microsoft Research reports that people spend only 10 seconds on your homepage before leaving if they don’t immediately connect with your marketing messages. With the aid of professional website design and targeted and clear messaging, you can present your company as a reliable, professional partner that keeps your visitors on your website longer.   

2. Generate revenue

Through methods like blogging, social media, CTA’s (call-to-actions), premium offers and landing pages you can essentially create a completely new revenue channel to grow your business. This process, termed “inbound marketing” is a method that attracts, converts, closes and delights customers to grow your business online. This methodology is proven in the digital age and can significantly affect your bottom line. Consider these following statistics:

  • According to Social Media B2B, B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t.
  • The Content Marketing Institute reports that 8 out of 10 people identify themselves as blog readers, and 23% of all time spent online is spent on social media sites.
  • ContentPlus published that blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links.
  •  Search Engine Land shares that up to 80% of people ignore Google-sponsored ads.
  • HubSpot’s research shows that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
  

These trends show that one way to grow or market your business more effectively is by utilizing an inbound methodology as a way to increase traffic, leads and convert visitors to customers. When these mechanisms are in place, and given time to work— your website turns into a 24/7 lead generator.

3. Build your brand
With the right content marketing tactics, you also can build your brand locally and nationally quicker than traditional advertising and marketing methods. Unless you have 20 million for a national ad campaign to spend, inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional marketing. 54% more leads are generated by inbound than outbound or traditional advertising and marketing methods. If you are able to generate relevant content that solves your customer problems—and do that consistently, your brand will begin to take root in the minds of your customers.

4. Attract talent
90% of all online applicants will visit a company’s careers page. Data suggests that just because you have a strong corporate brand, doesn’t necessarily mean it translates into a strong employer brand. Websites that have a video that showcases their company’s values and culture will receive more applicants than a company who doesn’t. (SOURCE: LinkedIn Employer Handbook. December 1, 2012) With a strong careers page, your chances of attracting top-tier talent increases.

5. Connect your brand to your customer
Having a professional website design created with your customer or buyer persona in mind can allow you to connect your brand to your customer more effectively than traditional push marketing can. By utilizing your website as the cornerstone in your social media activities you can drive traffic from social networking sites like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Pinterest that connects your brand to your customers that creates real affinity and preference.  

In conclusion, your website may not be able to cure world hunger or create peace in the middle east, but it can make you look bigger than you are, generate revenue, build your brand, attract talent and connect your brand to your customer. By adopting an inbound marketing methodology, you can turn your website into revenue generating machine and a valuable and effective marketing tool.

If you need help or have questions on how to make your website work harder for you, please contact us.

Responsive-Website-Planner
FREE DOWNLOAD: Website Design Planner

A time-saving guide on how to plan an effective website that meets your online business and branding goals.
In this planning guide, we help you and your team think through the critical points of the website design process that helps you form a specifications document to obtain accurate pricing

[easyembed field=”5thingswebsiteCTA”]

 

 

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

How Much Does A Website Cost

How Much Does A Website Cost?

By Web Design

I started my first HTML page back in college in 1997 before the internet was ‘thee internet.’  Since then, I’ve architected and built sites for start-ups to public-traded companies with hundreds of thousands of users and yet even in 2014 the question of cost is a tricky one.

    
Here’s why…

Today, I think it’s a fair assumption that most people view websites as a commodity. Due to recent hard economic conditions—that seems to be letting up—small business owners and start-ups can’t afford to spend big money on a website which they see as just ‘a website’. With the bad economy brought the emergence of crowdsourcing and discount website building companies. Websites now have a terrific low barrier of entry—with little differentiation in how they function which has brought the perception of their value down.

Savvy companies and brands know that their website is an invaluable marketing and sales tool that allows them to achieve their sales and marketing goals. It supports their marketing and sales efforts and provides assurance to their customers and employees in the form of innate trust. Through social media, content, video and imagery, modern companies understand that the look and feel of a website is just the first step in a broader strategy.

Below I’ve compiled 4 things to help you understand how and why a website is priced and what separates the free websites or discounted website builders from a true marketing tool that transforms your business.

1. Start with your goals
When we start with a new client the first thing we ask is: “What are your goals?” Is your goal just to have a great looking site with great pictures and products and photography or do you really want it to be more than a pretty face? Today, having a website is just the first step. That free website you started and launched a few months ago isn’t enough to build a business or a steady stream of revenue in today’s digital landscape. Businesses must adhere to a specific set of standards, rules and best practices if they hope to ever be found online according to Google’s recent algorithm changes. If you can’t get found, then what’s the point of having a website? Sure, you can have it on your business card and point your customers/clients to it, but in today’s competitive environment is that enough?

If your goals are to increase traffic, there are ways to do that through blogging, social media and search engine optimization. If you want to generate leads, there is a process that creates offers your visitors can’t resist; offers so good that they will gladly trade their contact information for your offer that allows you to continue the conversation. If your goal is customer acquisition, there are methods through things like workflows and lead nurturing that can be utilized to move a potential buyer further down the sales funnel to the close stage. All of this begins with your goals. Design and functionality should be built around your goals and not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all solution.

Bottom line:

  • Research
  • Traffic generation

  • Lead generation

  • Customer acquisition
  • Search engine optimization
  • Content creation
  • Social media management
  • ROI analysis and reporting
    COST = $500 – $15,000/mo. (depending on how fast you want to achieve your goals)

2. Build a solid foundation
Once your goals are set and we know what kind of website you want to build we start with building a strong foundation. There are numerous platforms and applications out there to build a website. You can even start with a blank html page and start building one from scratch. Each are different and come with a set of standard features and functions. Names like Drupal, WordPress, Joomla and Expression Engine come to mind. We use an open source platform called WordPress. WordPress comes with a basic content management system and thousands of free plugins that function like apps on your iPhone. Plugins add extra functionality to a WordPress site like spam blockers, newsletter signup forms, contact forms, maps, buttons, sliders, Facebook feeds and more. It’s also one of the easiest platforms out there for our clients to use—which is why we use it—and it’s for a great price (FREE!). Hosting is also quite cheap to come by. We host with Rackspace Cloud that provides our clients with a cost–effective hosting solution backed by Rackspace’s fanatical support guarantee.   

Bottom line:

  • WordPress: FREE
  • Hosting: $4.99 – $14.99/mo.
  • Domain: $9.99
  • Premium domains: $50+
    COST =$4.99 – $100

3. Design, integrate and optimize to get found
You can go out and by a theme for WordPress for around $40. However just plugging in a theme assures your website will look like a thousand other websites out there. We offer two cost-effective options that take a theme as a base design and modify or “skin it”. “Skinning”
 means taking a native theme design and customizing it to your brand’s unique look and feel. This way the theme takes on a completely different look while customized to your specifications. If you were to build a website from scratch, or through a base code program like Bootstrap the costs would top into the tens of thousands. Fortunately today, small businesses have the option to start with a theme and modify it to match their desired look and feel for a reasonable price.

Additional design costs begin to incur in the form of content. Content can be anything from written text, custom graphics, buttons, background patterns and more. All these add to the time and effort the team must put into the project. You may need diagrams, a video, or downloadable collateral to help customers understand complex products or services. All of this will need to be taken into account.

Then comes photography. No one EVER wants to invest in photography—which is a shame. You basically have the choice of buying quality images or low-quality images. High-end stock photo sites like Getty and Corbis start at $250+ each. Mid-grade sites like Veer and Jupiter start around $50+; and low-quality sites like Shutterstock and iStock prices start at $5+. However the quality shows. Cheap images don’t add visual value to your website and they look cheesy. Most visitors will pick up on this and leave and forget your site ever existed. Photography is always a huge line item in any web project. So be prepared to invest to make your site look polished.

At the end of a professional webdesign design process you also will need to optimize the site for your keywords. Search engine optimization consists of having relevant title tags, descriptions, image alt tags, on-page links and inbound links all based on the keywords someone would punch in to find you. Google accounts for almost 90% of all search traffic so everything is typically geared toward their requirements.

Bottom line:

  • Theme = $40
  • Customizing (Skinning) = $1,500-$2,000
  • Custom graphics = $800-$1,200
  • Photography = $500
  • Good photography = $1,000
  • Search engine optimization = $400
  • Content creation (provided by web company): $1,500-$2,000
    COST = $40 – $10,000

4. Have a back-up plan
After the site is launched the site isn’t over. Websites should not be viewed as a “one and done”. Now you have to factor in the possibility of any malicious attacks, customer service problems, billing errors etc. that add to the costs of maintaining the site. Most sites can go for years without any major issues, but you will need to keep someone on hand who can address any required updates and any other issues if they arise. The old saying: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong —is true. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had clients going into a meeting and their website goes down.

Bottom line:

  • COST = $0-$1,000/yr.

To wrap up, pricing a professional website is a very difficult thing to do. As a small business you are trying to cut costs and do things right. You have to start with your goals and work backwards on what you have to spend.  Only by setting goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely can you accurately quantify ROI and what a realistic investment is.

Responsive-Website-Planner
FREE DOWNLOAD: Website Design Planner

A time-saving guide on how to plan an effective website that meets your online business and branding goals.
In this planning guide, we help you and your team think through the critical points of the website design process that helps you form a specifications document to obtain accurate pricing.

[easyembed field=”howmuchCTA”]

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

Why a free website won't gorw your business

Why a Free Website Won’t Grow Your Business

By Small Business, Web Design

Perhaps you’ve seen the latest television ad by a company that offers free website design.  And if you go online and google ‘free website’ you get over 4 billion results.

If you’re a start-up or small business, a free website is a great way to get your dream off the ground. A professional website design is as necessary as a business card in today’s marketplace. Without one, you lose credibility in the eyes of your prospects and the ability to attract customers/clients outside of your geographic region.

However, like all things ‘free’ or ‘cheap’ there are a few catches that as a business owner you need to be aware of if you are serious about growing your business online.

Before signing up with one of those discount or free website providers, here are 5 points you need to know before spending the time and effort building a website your self.  

1. Welcome to the jungle – how to stand out
Nowadays, pretty much anyone can put together a website. By the end of 2014, there will be over a billion websites online. (Source: Internetlivestats.com) Like a car that has four wheels, doors, windshield and an engine, the template for building a website has pretty much been standardized. A website has a nav bar, logo, footer, buttons, home page, secondary pages and a contact page and maybe even a blog. There isn’t much you can do in way of convention to change it. What this has done is driven down price and forced designers to work on price and not value, essentially making web design a commodity. This causes an inefficiency between business owner and developer in that now, you are paying for the cheapest price but not necessarily getting the best value to grow your business.  This discrepancy causes a gap in your efforts to achieve your goals and solve your problem of generating revenue. Without the eye and talent of a design professional—your site at best—hangs on the precipice of mediocrity. Free templated solutions do not reflect your brand or unique story in way a professional, strategic-based design can.

2. It’s all about the brand
As a business owner you need to understand what makes your brand different, not just from a product or service standpoint, but from a customer standpoint—especially if you are in a competitive industry. This can only be accomplished by understanding who your buyer persona is and how your brand strategy connects to your customer. Who are you? Who needs to know? How will they find out? Why should they care? Every brand must answer these 4 questions. By being able to answer these questions, you will be able to write content specifically for your customer that allows you to connect and humanize your brand through your website.

3. Content is key
Your website is just another page floating in cyberspace unless it educates or solves a customers or clients problem. The quality of your content will determine if people stay or ‘bounce’ from your website. Content can come in the form of videos, text, infographics and imagery. Better content is proven to keep your visitors on your site longer and builds trust so they warm towards your service or product offering. (SOURCE: Hubspot).

4. Trust is paramount
One of today’s biggest hindrances to getting customers is the ability to demonstrate that you can be trusted. I think a fair judgment would be to say that skepticism is at an all-time high due to the continuing fallout we see in our society via the news media. Websites with shabby written content, overused stock photography and low-quality content will often cause potential prospects to leave your site. You must show social proof, a physical address, the people in your company and case studies on how your product or service is being used.  The quality or lack-there-of in design can either inject instant credibility or disgust in your visitor.

5. A website doesn’t guarantee you’ll be found
The digital game has changed thanks to Google. Recent algothrim changes have sifted the wheat from the chaff on search engine results pages (SERPS). Only sites with relevant content will be ranked higher. Higher rankings mean more traffic, which mean more leads, which means more customers. A website isn’t enough, its just the beginning. What good is a website if no one is able to find you? If your aim is to have a website, then mission accomplished, but if your goal is to build a business — then the ability to generate revenue becomes job one. Only through creating fresh relevant content, remarkable content offers, and then optimizing that content for search engines promoted through social media will you begin to generate traffic and ultimately leads that convert into customers. According to Google, “Our guidance to webmasters is the same as always — we encourage original, high-quality content, since that’s what’s best for web users.” Notice, they didn’t say website. (SOURCE: Forbes)

Final Thoughts
I understand that coming up with $1-5K for website can really pinch the bank account these days. Everything is changing and what was working yesterday is different today. If you don’t have a large budget, by all means go for a ‘free’ or ‘cheap’ website, but if you have the means, it’s well worth your investment to invest in a professional website design and do it right. There is no better time than right now to do it right.

Having a website isn’t what sells your services, great content does. If you have a ‘free’ or ‘discounted’ website and need help generating traffic, lead generation, customer acquisition or ROI analysis, contact us for a free Inbound Marketing Assessment.

54 Brilliant Home Page Designs

FREE DOWNLOAD: 54 Brilliant Home Page Design Ideas

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Having a website is just the first step into generating revenue online and growing your business.

In this quick flip book — we introduce you to some of the best home pages on the web. Use this resource to inspire your ideas when creating your business’ next website.

[easyembed field=”54brilliantCTA”]

 

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

Responsive Web Design

5 Best Practices for Responsive Website Design

By Responsive Web Design, Web Design

If I had to guess, I would estimate that over half of all U.S. businesses have yet to change their website to a responsive web design format (viewable on smart phone, tablet and desktop).

What most brands don’t know is that 50% of mobile phone users, use mobile as their primary internet source. This statistic will only continue to grow in the years to come. If your business has not made the move to a responsive website design format yet, here are a few best practices and things to keep in mind when you do.

What is Responsive Design?

Responsive means that it fits on three screens: mobile, tablet and desktop. Responsive web design is accomplished by CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). CSS is what developers use to design a webpage. From a marketer’s perspective it’s like a branding guide for your website. It tells the browser how to interpret the HTML that contains the CSS. Why does this matter? It means that if creating a mobile-specific website or app is out of budget — you can still deliver a great experience through responsive design.   

Here are a few key statistics you should know:

  • 91% of all people on earth have a mobile phone
  • 56% of people own a smart phone
  • 80% of time on mobile is spent inside apps
  • 72% of tablet owners purchase online from their tablets each week
  • 50% of mobile phone users, use mobile as their primary Internet source

1. Start with Your Brand

Before any coding takes place — start with your brand. As more and more competition enters the marketplace (domestic and global) it seems darn near impossible to stand out. Having clear brand differentiation in the marketplace will be one of the main ways to attract customers, close leads and delight customers.  When people hit your website, the first impression must reflect your brand’s persona, message and promise to the customer. Your brand must answer these four questions: Who are you? Who needs to know? How will they find you? Why should they care? Read more about brand development here.

2. Create Buyer Personas

Once you have your brand tuned up — begin by creating an architecture based on who your ideal customers are. Get really granular on who they are and write your content for them specifically based on these key points:

  1. How does my product or service solve my customer’s problems?
  2. What can I do to add value to their visit?
  3. How does my brand align with their personalities and expectations?
  4. What is the tone and voice I must take to communicate clearly to them?

By basing your content on your buyer persona your content will keep them engaged and add value. Wrap this content around a clear and intuitive navigation to help them find the information quickly. The old rule in website design: “Don’t make me think.” still rings true today.

3. Content Strategy and Perception

Your brand must provide a credible and authentic impression to your visitors. Today, people want more visuals and less text on the home page and secondary pages. Communicate your offering simply and effectively.  With 60% of the sales cycle over before a visitor even contacts your sales person — your website must engage your visitors and make the sale for you.  According to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth study, consumers consult an average of 10.4 pieces of content prior to making purchase decision. Make your content count.

4. Optimizing for Search Engines

To be indexed by Google, Yahoo! and Bing — use the following criteria to create your page structure:

  1. Accurate keyword titles and descriptions
    Use the Google Trends tool or MOZ to target the right keywords.
  2. Fast loading pages
    Optimize your images and use CSS to speed your site’s visual elements. Your website must load less than 2 seconds or people will abandon your site.
  3. A flow of fresh and relevant content via blog
    77% of all Internet users read blogs. By blogging on a regular basis you will receive 55% more website visitors. By creating interesting content, you increase your chances of getting back links from other credible websites which passes on “link juice” to your site, increasing your rankings. You also will have your content tweeted, shared or liked.
  4. Low bounce rates
    If you’ve done the above 3 points, you should see lower bounce rates. 50% or less is excellent, 60-70% is typical, 70-80% is poor, 80%+ is very bad. When Google sees sites with high bounce rates, it typically means the site loads slow, is a spam site or the keywords are not representative to what the site is about.
  5. Social proof
    If you haven’t embraced Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ now is the time. Consider the following shocking statistics:
  • 4.2 billion people use their mobile device to access social media sites
  • The population of the United States is 313M
    • There are 245M internet users in the United States
    • 56% of Americans have a profile on a social networking site
    • 166M or 52.9% of all internet users are on Facebook
    • 47% say Facebook has the greatest impact on purchase behavior
    • 54% of Facebook members have used the social network via a phone
    • 22% of Americans use social networking sites several times per day
    • Facebook is the most addicting of the social networks
    • 76% of Twitter users now post status updates

By adding social proof to your site you humanize your brand and allow your users to share its content far and wide.

Professional Responsive Web Design Company5. Design for Responsiveness

Now that you have some directions on how to go about planning your responsive website design here are a few things to keep in mind when design and coding time comes.

The screen size is the diagonal measurement of the physical screen in inches, while the resolution is the number of pixels on the screen. The resolution is displayed as width by height (i.e., 1024×768). Also, while desktop and laptop displays are in landscape (wider than tall), many mobile devices can be rotated to show websites in both landscape and portrait (taller than wide) orientations. This means that designers and developers, in some cases, must design for these differences. Make sure to design each view to see the differences in each and adjust accordingly:

  • Your website accomplishes responsiveness by scaling the images and text by percentages of the screen instead of fixed widths
  • Create 10px margins on each side so that the design doesn’t look crowded
  • web designImages should fill the whole screen and scroll evenly down the screen
  • Remove any non-essential content
  • Watch for breakpoints. As the site scales, make sure the screen adjusts at  the right resolution to keep the design and layout in tact
  • Allow compression of your scripts and CSS to make the site load faster on mobile devices that are often on a 3G or low-speed connections
  • Create an Apple touch icon (129 x 129) so people can save to their home screen
  • Most people prefer landscape (59.8%) over portrait (41.2%) (Source: Apple Insider)

Google announced starting April 21st, 2015—your website’s mobile-friendliness will now be a ranking factor. (Source: SEMPOST) This means if your website is not responsive and mobile friendly, you will loose out on potential ranking factors. Find out if your website is mobile-friendly.

  • Desktops & laptops 1024×768 and higher
  • iPhone 5: 1136×640 4S: 640×960 3GS: 320×480
  • iPad First & second generations: 1024×768
    Third generation: 2048×1536
  • iPad mini 1024×768

Android phones & tablets
Most phones are 320px wide or 360px wide, and most tablets are 800px wide. When designing for them, however, it is typical for developers to break them into the following groups based on their Density-independent pixel (dp), which is the minimum screen size.

  • Small screens: 426dp x 320dp
  • Normal screens: 470dp x 320dp
  • Large screens: 640dp x 480dp
  • Extra-large screens: 960dp x 720dp

In conclusion, by making your site responsive, you now have the ability to tap into mobile traffic that you otherwise were missing out on. As companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft continue to innovate new devices — businesses will need to keep up to speed on the latest trends to ensure they are maximizing their online potential.  

Responsive Website Design Company Planner
FREE DOWNLOAD: Responsive Website Design Planner

A time-saving guide on how to plan an effective website that meets your online business and branding goals.
In this planning guide we help you and your team think through the critical points of the website design process that helps you form a specifications document to obtain accurate pricing.

[easyembed field=”websitebestCTA”]

 

 

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.


 

6 Reminders Why (or why not) Your Website Rocks

By Web Design

shutterstock_11682370So you just launched a new website. The site looks great, functions as it should and the whole company loves it. You’ve had great feedback from customers and the rumor is the board members are also impressed – all is good in the marketing department today. Good job! But just in case you have forgotten about the initial goals and objectives, here are 6 reminders why your new website is rock’n!

1. You have an amazing careers page
People are like gold and are your most important asset. This important section of your site should be shared with marketing and HR. The best career pages have videos that present some aspect of the company other than work. By attracting and hiring the right employees you will create a better company culture. You’ve given your employees purpose and a reason to get out of bed every morning to come to work. They are empowered to generate ideas and innovation is so thick it’s flowing from the water fountains. Your people are the key differentiator in a marketplace full of identical competitors™.

2. You write specifically for your customers
You’ve spent some time figuring out who your target market is and you’ve pegged three buyer personas that you have based all your content around. When potential visitors hit the site, they are drawn in and stay there. Low bounce rates baby!

MOBILESTATS3. You’ve made it responsive
Since over 20% of all website are viewed on a  smartphone or tablet  and climbing – you’ve created a responsive website that allows users to see content on multiple devices. See some other interesting mobile more stats to the right.

4. Every page is optimized
The old adage goes, “unseen is unsold”.  Every page is optimized and indexed by Google. Your keywords have really gained traction and are passing on important leads to your marketing team for qualification.

5. Every page is like flypaper
Every page on the site uses succinct phrases and larger type with big beautiful graphics. Graphics are easier to scan and easier to understand. Most people’s attention span is less than 10 seconds. You must get your point across quickly and engage your visitor and you’ve done that. There is also some videos that allow visitors to watch about your latest product feature.

6. Strong call-to-actions and lead nurturing
Every page has a CTR (Call to Action) and a mechanism in place to pass on quality leads to the sales team. You created the website in this way to reduce costs on lead generation because cultivating leads online can save your company money and make your sales funnel much more cost-effective.

Is your website still rocking?

Today, with so many aspects of digital marketing changing it’s somewhat impossible to keep up with best practices for web. Contact us today for a free consultation on your website and how to make it rock!

Responsive-Website-Planner
FREE DOWNLOAD: Responsive Website Design Planner

A time-saving guide on how to plan an effective website that meets your online business and branding goals.
In this planning guide we help you and your team think through the critical points of the website design process that helps you form a specifications document to obtain accurate pricing.



 

 

How to Revive a Dead Website

How to Revive a Dead Website

By Web Design

Revive a Dead Website

So you started a website project a few years ago and it has basically been left to drift and DIE!  Somehow you got really busy and the dreams of starting your new internet venture got put on the back burner.  It wasn’t your fault… job, kids, life got in the way.  But now, you’re ready to get back on it – fully motivated and ready to rock. Have no fear, here is list of things you can do to revive that old website and get it back on track, or until you can afford a new one.

Ask yourself these questions to evaluate where you are and where you need to go:

Website Design & Branding:

  1. Is the current branding look/feel in line with the audience you were targeting years ago?  If  not, make some changes.  Update your tagline, maybe change your logo to a new font face, update the colors, etc.
  2. Is the imagery looking a bit nostalgic?  Replace those pics with people who live in this era.
  3. Content – does it look busy?  Is the functionality outdated?  These types of issues usually deter savvy internet users from staying on your site.  Make it super easy to understand.  You only have about 8 seconds to capture their attention.
  4. More pictures, more content, more action!  Add some JQuery sliders or an animation.
  5. If you made the brand about you, make sure you evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.  People will tend to heavily gravitate or heavily repel from personal brands based on how they see and/or relate to you.  This will also effect your ability to effectively target your audience.
  6. Make it mobile-friendly! Your website must work on all devices. 

Content & Community:

  1. For subject enthusiast sites (hobbies, interests, sports, politics, etc.) to be successful, you need to be blogging 2-3x per week – yes, that’s a lot.  No one said it would easy.  To supercharge it, add 2 or 3 videos monthly or more and make sure the photography and content is interesting and adds value.
  2. Imagery needs to be rich and interesting.  This causes the site to be “sticky” – meaning when people hit it they stick around.
  3. Inbound marketing or “pull” marketing is the name of the game.  Blogs or articles should add value to your subscribers and visitors.  Earn their trust, help them solve problems, make them feel a part of something bigger, provide useful information — build your credibility.
  4. You need to think in terms of how you can build a community or “tribe” where you earn the trust of people who have the same likes/dislike as you.  I have two clients who are really successful at this.
  5. Client 1 on average sees over 6k visits per day and Client 2 has a community of over 85,000 people and has over 10k visits per day. They both built a community that supports their users.  In your case, you need to be the catalyst to help your visitors come together.  You may seem to have the right topics, but you must also be willing to let things go completely organic and be as authentic as possible.  In a media saturated world, authenticity is better.
  6. Both clients direct their efforts toward other online groups, email marketing, merchandise, events and online radio shows.  Checkout blogtalkradio.com.
  7. Social Media – Once you’ve got some relevant content going, time to start reaching out and joining the conversation on other blogs, Facebook pages and following like-minded people on Twitter and connecting on LinkedIn.  Build a following by commenting and jumping in on conversations.  The great thing about the web is you don’t need an introduction, just something in common — so jump in and start making friends.
  8. Already thinking along these lines?  Good…now you need SEO to ignite it.

SEO & Marketing:

  1. Your site most likely needs to be optimized.  Since it’s been dead for months (or years), it lacks a lot of the keywords necessary for page rankings.
  2. To accomplish this, you need to hire a professional SEO firm to help you get it optimized.
  3. Google just put out a new algorithm – the programs that rank websites – and their requirements are stricter than ever.  The new algorithms are now based on sites that provide real substance and real human opinion.  Gone are the days where links were enough.
  4. Site speed – very important, make sure your site loads quickly.

By keeping these points in mind, you’ll be ready to shock your website back to life!

Responsive-Website-Planner
FREE DOWNLOAD: Responsive Website Design Planner

A time-saving guide on how to plan an effective website that meets your online business and branding goals.
In this planning guide we help you and your team think through the critical points of the website design process that helps you form a specifications document to obtain accurate pricing.



 

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.