Category Archives: Web Design

11 Tips for the Best SMB Website Designs

Small- and medium-sized businesses have several advantages over the big box retailers and other large companies. You probably already know many of them, and now it’s time to share that knowledge with potential customers or clients through your websites and social media campaigns. When you take advantage of our favorite tips for the best SMB website designs, you’ll find that your business will reap the benefits.

11 Tips for the Best SMB Website Designs

1. Show ‘em what you can do for ‘em.

What does your business do? … Make that answer pop – clearly, proudly, cleanly and on every page of your site. But don’t say too much. You don’t want to overwhelm the user. A few words should suffice.

For example, look at any household product in your bathroom right now. Each one will say what it does in general – “body wash,” let’s say. Use that principle throughout your website, preferably at the top.

2. Make it clean, clear and concise.

Don’t neglect the use of white space to make it easier for people to browse the pages. Tell them what they need to know on each page, but don’t be too clunky with the number of words you use. Make sure you use an attractive, easy-to-read font.

3. Art is a beautiful thing.

Photos and other design elements should be used to give your website visitors information, make your pages more appealing, and encourage users to click through to learn more about your business.

4. Show off your products.


Allow users to browse your products and offerings. Post photos of these products if possible.

5. Use your call-to-action buttons wisely.

Once your users have browsed your offerings on your website, make sure they can easily get to the next step: purchasing a product, signing up for a service, or asking for more information. Your call-to-action buttons should be simple, concise, and visible.

6. Make sure they can contact you.

If your website users are anything like we are, they will click on the “Contact Us” link often. That’s because it’s usually the go-to place for the basics. The contact page should include your phone numbers, email addresses, and physical address.

Also consider including the names of people in your business along with what they do and their contact information, but only in a list format. You can tell users more about them in an “About Us” page on the site.

7. Brag a little.

Don’t forget about those testimonials. Include photos of the happy customers, or consider even using a video of them talking about how great you are. Make sure the text of what they say in the video is there too.

8. Be real.

And here’s one of our favorite of the tips for the best SMB website designs. You can be real!

You are the website user’s neighbor, friend, and favorite small business owner. You can get personal on your website. That way, you can show your visitors that they are more than just a number and that they are important to you.

9. Keep your website alive.

One of the most important tips for the best SMB website designs is to regularly update your website through blogs, a calendar of events if appropriate, informative notes, and any other relevant information.

A website is no longer just a source of the basics about your business. Instead, it is now a way to communicate with your customers regularly.

10. Do tell everybody your business.

It doesn’t matter how beautiful your website is if no one sees it. Don’t overlook the power of social media. In fact, you should be active on social media sites every day by posting links to your blogs, reminding people about an upcoming event, or thanking or congratulating customers. There are endless ways to communicate on social media in order to bring customers to your site.

By the way, when you do post on social media pages, be sure to make your comments sound like they are coming from a real person, and include art with each and every post.

And 11: Reach out for Help

As for our favorite of the tips for the best SMB website designs, well that’s clear: Work with 602 Creative Studio! We know many ways to make your website design the best it can be.

If you want to know more, contact us through our 602 Creative Studio website or by phone at 888-602-0197.

 

Simple Web Design Practices in 2016

The digital industry is constantly evolving. To maintain a successful website, you need to be at the cutting edge of technology, software, and innovation. Despite the change, there are tried-and-true practices that help your website remain competitive. Simple web design practices in 2016 are a combination of innovative thought and conventional wisdom.

Simple Web Design Practices in 2016 for an Effective Site

Focus on Conversions First, Aesthetics Second

While a great-looking website is pleasing to the eyes, a website that converts visitors into customers is pleasing to the wallet. When redesigning your site, keep effective conversion at the forefront of all your decisions. You can have a visually stunning site and an effective one, but keep conversion the #1 priority.

And how can you enhance conversion? We’re so glad you asked…

Contact Link at the Top

This is a simple web design practice in 2016 that goes back for years. One place to begin is at the top banner. Make sure the contact page is linked directly to the banner. Not under a drop-down menu and not buried at the bottom of the page, but at the very top of your banner, usually somewhere to the right of the page.

Calls to Action Must be Clear

There’s a place on your site for poetic prose and whimsical wording; the call to action is not it. Make sure your CTAs are completely clear and direct. What do you want visitors to do? Why should they do it?

Many experts believe the CTA is the single most important aspect of your site. Make them simple, clear, and concise, and you’ll have more conversions and happier visitors.

A Search Box

Search boxes are the tool that visitors can use to type in a keyword and scan your site for results. Not all websites need them, but as your page count grows, it will come in handy. When the pages of your site begin to multiply, you’ll eventually need to make navigation easier. A search box enhances the user experience and creates happier visitors.

Website Speed Matters

A slow website will ruin your visitor numbers in a hurry. People don’t hang around websites that take minutes to load, so website speed is an important part of your overall performance. If you have to, implement design changes that decrease loading times, such as the use of smaller images or simplifying “above the fold” content.

Make Error Pages Humorous and Helpful

Have you ever encountered an error page on a website? Most of them have a humorous, light-hearted image, such as a broken robot trying to fix itself or a cartoon character spilling coffee. This lightens the mood and lessens the chances of a visitor becoming frustrated with your site. Your error page should also be helpful by providing a few links to the homepage, contact, and other important pages on your site.

Mobile Friendly

In 2006, a mobile-friendly site was a nice touch. In 2016, it’s absolutely essential. More users are visiting your site on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets than ever before, so you need to be completely prepared to give them a clean, attractive display. This is not only a design advantage, it’s also an SEO advantage, as Google is now rewarding sites that are adaptable to smaller mobile devices.

Enhance Your Online Performance with Simple Web Design Practices in 2016

Let our expert team enhance your site with top-quality website design services. From tried-and-true best practices to intuitive design ideas, our experts are ready to enhance your site’s performance.

Contact us today and learn more about our web design services.

Trends in Higher Education Marketing

Many of us can still remember what our mailboxes looked like when we were seniors in high school.  They were likely stuffed to the max with pamphlets and brochures from community colleges, trade schools, and universities. It was exciting at first, but most ended up in the trash and had no impact on your final decision.

What a gigantic waste of time, energy, and money. Today’s trends in higher education combined with clever higher education marketing eliminate the blind advertising in order to find those students who actually are interested in the particular school you represent.

Trends in Higher Education

In an article published by The Huffington Post, Dr. Scott Miller, president of Virginia Wesleyan College, says, “Technology and our millennial students go hand in hand – literally. Smart phones, iPads, and the rest influence how our students perceive the world, relate to their professors, absorb and use information, and evaluate success.”

Miller goes on to describe faculty concerns regarding technology in the classroom. He says that many fear students will lose their motivation to learn when they have access to such vast information at their fingertips. Miller views things differently.

“Students will have a greater role in driving the curriculum, filtering knowledge and course requirements through technology and interacting with their counterparts in other nations, in real time, via Skype and other ‘smart’ classroom innovations,” he says.

It’s important to realize that technology inside and outside of higher education is here to stay. This doesn’t just change the way we plan our lessons or run our classroom, it also affects (or should affect) the way we reach our students and future students.

Recognize that your potential students are more likely to know what they want for their futures, and have an idea where to find it. This is where smart higher education marketing comes into play: give the students what they want and they will come to you.

Higher Education Marketing

These days, the tired, traditional practice of sending brochures and other marketing collateral to random students throughout the country is out. Instead, bring student traffic to your website and increase leads with inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is all about making people – in this case students – contact you instead of you contacting them. It’s about turning what we thought we knew about marketing upside down.

Students know what they and how to search for it. The job of a higher education marketing specialist is predicting what that is and providing valuable content that meets their needs.

According to Hubspot, some of the major themes of inbound marketing are:

  • Content creation and distribution: Create content that answers Internet users’ basic questions and needs and then share that content through social media outlets.
  • Personalization: Tailor content to the wants and needs of the people who are viewing it.
  • Multi-channel: Inbound marketing approaches people where they are, in the channel where they want to interact with you. (If you’re targeting potential students, you cannot ignore social media. It should be a large piece of your inbound marketing campaign — and a blog post of it’s own.)
  • Integration: Content creation, publishing and analytics tools all work together to allow you to publish the right information at the right place at the right time.

Web Design for Higher Education


What happens if you build and implement  the greatest higher education inbound marketing campaign that ever existed, but fail to greet your inbound lead with an attractive, user-friendly website? You lose them. They click the back button and continue browsing before you ever get a chance to show off that valuable content you created just for them.

While beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to people and nature, there are some aspects of web design that are clearly cleaner, prettier and easier to use than others.

An inbound marketing agency that blends all the skills of a web design firm and SEO company can identify those key elements that make websites attractive, such as the appropriate use of white space, calls-to-action, and the most ideal locations for photos.

To make a website great, 602 Creative Studio offers the follow tips:

  • Determine user intent: Determining the purpose of each visit is crucial to creating a website that people actually want to see.
  • Visualize your perfect website: Close your eyes and imagine the steps that college-bound or current college students will take and provide that to them as part of your higher education marketing technique.
  • Research and plan: It is your responsibility to design the website that is convenient and easy to navigate.  Look through your competitors’ websites to see how yours can improve. Examine your website based on trends in higher education combined with students’ points of view. This will give you a good understanding about creating a user-friendly website.
  • Stick to the basics: Keep your website clean and neat with items on appropriate pages.
  • Pay attention to compatibility: The website you create should be compatible with all the leading web browsers in the world.

For more information on inbound marketing for higher education contact Phoenix inbound marketing agency – 602 Creative Studio.

 

Is It Time for a Website Upgrade?

When the Internet first took over many years ago, businesses began creating static websites. They were the place people would go to learn the basics about your business: hours of operation, contact information and maybe a description of the services the business provides. If your website still looks like this, it is beyond time for a website upgrade.

A Website Upgrade – Is it Really Time?

Today’s websites must be updated regularly, providing up-to-date and current information for users. Competition is stiff, so your website needs to be reviewed regularly and updated on a consistent basis.

Accurate & Up-to-Date Information

You go out to breakfast at a neighborhood restaurant. It’s supposed to open at 7 a.m. You get there at 7:25 a.m., and the doors are still closed. Would you go back? If you’re a regular customer and really love those pancakes, you might – possibly. But if you are a new customer, you probably lost faith in the business.

And there goes one customer who could have been a regular out the door, so to speak.

What about seeing a new doctor? You’ve heard great things about that doctor, so you reach out to the office to make an appointment with that doctor – only to find out she relocated 10 months ago. Now, you’ve wasted your time – possibly even risked your health – and the business looks unprofessional.

All of the same principles apply to websites. A website upgrade should allow you to make changes when needed so that you can add blogs, update contact information and share relevant reports with your current and potential future clients.

Optimized for Search Engines (SEO)

According to 602 Creative Studio, each and every page within your website should be optimized for search engines. A all-encompassing web design, inbound marketing, and SEO company will use its expertise to ensure that all of the pages within your website are aligned with SEO best practices.

Research what your potential customers are most likely looking for when they are browsing the Internet, and make sure it’s on your site.

According to HubSpot, your customers begin their buying process online, usually by using a search engine to find something they have questions about. You need to make sure you’re appearing prominently when and where they search. To do that, you need to carefully, analytically pick keywords, optimize your pages, create content, and build links around the terms your ideal buyers are searching for.

Social Media Presence

Are your social media accounts linked to your website? If not, your website upgrade should include a way for users to get to your social media accounts, and perhaps more importantly, your social media accounts should have a way for users to get to your site.

“The new marketing communication – inbound marketing – has become a two-way dialogue, much of which is facilitated by social media,” Lauren Dell says in a post featured on Mashable.

Posting regular updates on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest is perhaps one of the best ways to bring visitors to your site.

Other Signs that It’s Time for a Website Upgrade

Here are some additional reasons you might consider a website upgrade.

Your Website Still has a Dial-up Connection.

Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration (we hope), but if your pages load slowly, you risk your user getting impatient and clicking on the little “x” in the top right corner. Speed is critical to the user and SEO.

Your Marketing Strategy has Changed

As your business grows, it changes. As society advances, it also changes. Your strategic marketing plan changes – and therefore your website – should reflect these changes and fulfill the current needs of your business as well as those of your customers.

Your Website is Not Responsive


A great amount of traffic to your site comes from links that you post on social media. And – as you will surely see by sitting with almost any teenager – phones, tablets and other mobile devices are what are most often used to browse through or upload to social media accounts.

For that reason, websites should be adjust to different screen sizes, allowing the entire page to appear on the screen without forcing users to expand, minimize or move the content left or right in order to see it completely.

Help with Your Website Upgrade

Because there is so much to understand and think about in this complicated process, consider consulting with someone from a web design and inbound marketing agency to assist you in meeting your goals.

 

How To Generate Leads Online with Inbound Marketing

If you are reading this, you probably already understand the concept of ecommerce and the demand to generate leads online. Just in case you’ve been under a rock for a few years, we’ll briefly describe the importance of generating leads before moving on the fun stuff!

Who Needs to Generate Leads Online?

Every organization relies on their customer base or clientele to purchase their products or services and bring in money. Whether established or start-up, building and nurturing that customer base is critical to a company’s success and growth. To build a customer base, you must obtain contact information for your sales team to speak with.

Before the internet came into our daily lives, business owners and marketers generated leads through less effective means like direct mail marketing, telemarketing, networking events, and advertising. The internet changed everything by providing a world of potential customers and a place to grow your number of leads in a smart, effective way.

Why Use  Inbound Marketing Instead of Traditional?

The digital age and the ease of the internet has made our society impatient. We want our answers, products, and services and we want them now. We don’t want to be bothered with the cold-calling and television commercial tactics of traditional marketing. Even the more modern practices of digital marketing like spammy emails and annoying popups are interruptive. These methods are intrusive, ineffective, and costly.

There’s a better, more organic way to generate leads online.

According HubSpot, the trailblazer of the inbound marketing movement, “… inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be.” With inbound marketing, you will not only generate leads online, you’ll generate the right kind of leads online.

How To Generate Leads Online with Inbound Marketing

The Inbound Marketing Methodology requires specific actions to be taken in order to generate and maintain leads.

1. Know Your Customer

Identify your ideal customer and really get to know them. Think about what motivates them to search for your product or service. Think about their pain-points and any questions they may be asking themselves. Think about all of the ways you and your company can solve their problems and answer their questions.

2. Attract Visitors to Your Website

Now that you know who your ideal customer is and what type of questions they have, you are ready to create content that will attract visitors to your website.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Most of us begin our web surfing sessions with a stop by our favorite search engine, such as Google. Optimizing your website to rank on search engines is one of the most effective practices to bring traffic to your website and generate leads online. For tips that will help your website get found on Google and a full description of SEO visit our previous blog posts.
  • Blogging: Here’s the most important element of blogging – You must create quality content that your ideal customer is actually looking for.  Each blog post needs to answer a question, solve a problem, report industry news, or entertain your readers. Remember, this is your chance to prove your expertise and become the go-to place for information within your market. For your best chance at business blogging success, publish blog posts regularly and often. Your readers and potential customers will begin to expect this. Don’t forget the importance of search engine optimization when writing your blogs.
  • Social Media Marketing: Social media posting and monitoring is essential to any strategic marketing plan. You should use social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to promote the content that you’ve worked so hard to create.

3. Convert Visitors into Leads

When you’ve created exceptional content and promoted that content to the masses via social media, you’ll likely see increased traffic to your website. This is your chance. Take advantage of the increased traffic and convert those visitors into leads by gathering contact information.

It’s not as easy as it seems. People are hesitant to give out their contact information for fear of being hounded by unwanted sales calls and emails. You must to provide something of value, such as a free eBook or webinar in return. The following process has been tested and tweaked for maximum effectiveness in converting visitors into leads.

  1. Offer Something Valuable: This should be something that further establishes your business as a leader in the industry, but most importantly it should be something that your ideal customer really needs or wants. Possibilities include whitepapers, eBooks, templates, checklists, webinars, etc…
  2. Create Call-to-Action: A CTA is a button, or even a link, created to catch attention and call the website visitor to action. The CTA might say ‘Download our Free eBook’ or ‘Sign Up for Webinar’. Learn more about Call-to-Action best practices in this article by Smashing Magazine.
  3. Build a Landing Page: Once the website visitor clicks on the CTA, the Landing Page should appear with details about your offer and a contact form that the must complete before they are able to access the offer. You should keep the contact form short with only a few questions. At the very least, you’ll need to ask for the visitor’s email address.

Congratulations! Once the visitor has completed the contact form, you’ve successfully generated a new lead. At this time, you should send an automatically thank you email and add the lead to your Customer Relationship Management application or mailing list.

For a real life example of how this process works and our free eBook, click the CTA below.

 

3 Big Reasons Why You Need a Small Business Blog

In today’s fast-paced, hi-tech age, blogging is a key activity to promote your online business.  Most business owners and/or administrators have no clue how useful a blog can be or how to properly create and maintain their blog! Blogging is critical to leveraging and marketing your products and services.

Creating a blog is not all that scary or hard to do either, but that’s a blog post for another day. In this post, we will discuss the ‘why’ instead of the ‘how’.

I’ll be honest – it does take time and dedication to create the community and personal voice you want your customers to come to know and love! But if you look at the TOP THREE REASONS you need a small business blog for your company website, I think you will agree that it is a very useful tool.

1. A Business Blog Will Establish You As An Industry Expert

One way to become an industry expert is by sharing content that is relevant with your blog readers. Your blog content will help them realize that you are the only ‘go-to-resource’ that they need.  If your readers need have a question or concern, your business will be on the top of their mind and the first stop in their journey to find an answer. When they want to advance their own business or personal goals, once again they will turn to you and your ‘know-how’ in creating success.

A blog is also a good way to share important news about your industry while strengthening your online reputation. Positioning your company as the reliable source for industry current events and hot topics will further brand identity and customer loyalty. A blog will show others that you are a ‘real’ company, with style, personality, and not just some quick-pitch announcer out for a sale.

2. A Business Blog Gives Your Company A Voice and Personality

Blogging creates a place that lets you, your clients and visitors talk about new products and services. Everyone can comment on market trends or any new products and services that are out there.  It also creates a whiteboard that you can use to imprint your style on so people can see what ‘you’ are all about.

Blogs allow you to inject life into your online profiles. Once again, the interaction your blog generates shows that you are approachable, likeable, and that you are not just all ‘business.’  There is life on the other end of that website, with real people and real know-how.

We found an excellent article by Small Business Trends that will help you create a voice for your company through your business blog.

Every company has character, so if your company were a person, what type of character does it present and what would it be like? By presenting a consistent voice and personality, you are working to secure trust, which is a vital element in building customer loyalty.

3. A Business Blog Will Help You Target Potential Clients

While your blog does not directly market your products and services, it should be considered a vital part of your company’s strategic marketing plan. Your blog will help you get your name, your products and your services in front of clients that really need what you have to offer.

Take time to discuss the industry you work in. Let them know what is working and what is not working. Let them know that they are not alone when it comes to challenges. Have you developed any new metrics that help improve productivity? Use your blog to let them know what you found and how it worked for you. Create synergy with your potential clients in order to build and expand your marketing arena. Your blog is meant to inspire a connection between you and your potential clients. Use your blog to educate your audience and convince them to consider your products and services for purchase or for hire.

BONUS – Search Engine Optimization

Don’t forget – blogs are what Google looks for when reviewing websites, so blogging is another way to populate your website in those valuable search engine results.  Ranking high in search results has a huge impact on your company’s visibility will help you to draw in even more potential clients. You’ll find plenty of information on SEO at 602 Creative Studio Blog.

 

How to Increase Traffic to Your Company Website

From raw startups to seasoned market leaders, everyone wants to drive more traffic to their website. It’s been studied, hypothesized, tested, and proven that growing your internet presence and bringing more traffic to your company webpage will result in higher brand awareness, customer trust, and sales.

The majority of businesses and organizations understand this and created their websites years ago, but many are still in the dark ages when it comes to improving their company pages to increase traffic.

Optimize for Search (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, describes the process of enhancing a website or webpage for more visibility on common search engines without paying for traffic.

Search engines, like Google, have specific algorithms that determine the placement of a website on their search results page. The goal of SEO is to improve your search engine ranking for targeted keywords.

Learning and implementing the SEO best practices like those mentioned in our previous blog, can result in better brand awareness and will increase traffic to company website.

The 5 Basic SEO Techniques that Everyone Should Know are listed below. More detailed information can be found in our previous blog post.

  1. Fresh, Consistent Posting
  2. Mobile-Compatibility
  3. Create Social Media Signals
  4. Consider the Bigger SEO Picture
  5. Focus on Quality Content

Design for Usability

If Search Engine Optimization is what brings visitors to your website, a simple, thoughtful user experience is what keeps them there.

Thanks to technical advances, our society impatient. We expect to find what we are looking for quickly and with ease. If your website is difficult to navigate or too busy for concentration, you risk losing the visitor’s attention and a potential customer.

There are a few rules for web design that everyone should learn and implement.

  1. Well-planned navigation
  2. Stay consistant with design
  3. Simple, legible typography
  4. Don’t go crazy with color

Create Quality Content

“Content is King.” That’s what they say. Creating quality content that your company’s target audience actually wants to read and/or see is one of the very best ways to drive traffic for a few important reasons.

  1. Search engine optimization: As mentioned above, consistently posting content to your website will improve your SEO rankings. For best results, create content that is easily understood and speaks to specific pain points that your customers may have.
  2. Establish your company as the authority: What better way to show off your knowledge and become the expert in your field than with an up-to-date blog?
  3. Encourage communication and rapport: Up-to-date content gives your customers something to talk about and opens the line of communication between your customers and your company.

Convert Visitors into Customers

With the use of targeted calls-to-action, thoughtful landing pages, strategic forms, and nurtured email lists, you can take your current customer base and watch it grow exponentially. This approach is part of the inbound methodology created and coined by our partners at HubSpot.

Increase Traffic with an Inbound Marketing Agency

Let the experts at 602 Creative Studio turn your company website into a well-oiled marketing machine. Call or visit our website anytime for a free quote.