May 7, 2011
Advanced Medical Imaging is one of KDesign’s longest clients! They are starting to introduce new services, like varicose vein treatments, that they wanted to brand separately, but still be attached to the AMI umbrella. The solution… a microsite for their new ‘Advanced Vein Institute‘. With a totally different look, this site enables a fresh, natural vibe to target women interested in ‘getting their legs back’ with vein treatments and other cosmetic aesthetic solutions. The website lives with its parent, AMI, on Vipa Suite where it can be easily updated and maintained by the client. Features include a before/after gallery, collapsible content and contact form. I think we all know someone who could benefit from these services! Check it out! www.advancedveininstitute.com
March 29, 2011
Agribusiness Management Company needed a fresh redesign of their website to accommodate their ever-changing business! This fascinating company is a leading global private equity firm that is focused on investing in agribusiness and ancillary businesses in the emerging markets, with primary focus on the Former Soviet Union. The new website better shows off their past portfolio (scrolling logos on the homepage) and better organizes the complex information provided on the website. Besides a couple of nice galleries, the site utilizes some ajax for content as well.
March 27, 2011
These were so much fun to do and just different enough from my regular work that I had to show them off! Tabitha wanted to spice up their communities pages, and 3D floor plans seemed like the appropriate action. This was my first time experimenting with 3D software and I (and the client) couldn’t be happier with the results! Can 3D elements be used on your website? Or marketing materials? There are the obvious markets for home builders, architects, real estate firms, and apartment communities, but let’s think outside the box… what about a 3D tour of your office space, or a 3D model of the product you sell? Interested? Contact KDesign.
March 23, 2011
Tabitha launched a beautiful new logo and desperately needed a beautiful, fresh new website to go with it. The website design was created by KDesign and built into the always-fabulous Vipa Suite by Vipa Solutions. (Vipa Suite is a state-of-the-art content management system that allows Tabitha users to easily update content and photos for their website.) Vipa Suite offers a lot of great features that are utilized by the website including the content slider on the homepage, expandable content on many pages, adjustable text sizes, tabbed content on communities pages, social media feeds and many others. Currently working on some 3D floor plans to spice up the communities pages as well!
March 14, 2011
While this isn’t necessarily a website question, it’s a question that comes up often nonetheless. Branding is one of those mysterious buzz words that people throw around, but what does it really mean? Like the term ‘marketing’… you could ask 10 different people for a definition and likely get 10 different answers. To some, marketing is sales. To others, marketing is advertising. How about branding… well you might want to compare this to 9 other responses, but here’s my answer!
To ME, branding is having one cohesive, consistent look and message across all marketing efforts. And of course, the look and message of these efforts should represent your company’s purpose. A brand starts with the logo which really sets the tone for all materials. The colors, fonts, and graphic elements all should contribute to that message/purpose or at the very least not fight with it! Then the other materials (business cards, website, stationery, brochures, advertisements…) should carry the same colors/fonts/graphic elements through all of them, and of course the content of all these materials should be consistent and again represent the purpose of the company. An example of branding would really be an entire suite of materials… not just one thing. Think of Ford vs Lexus. “Ford Tough” = dirty, powerful trucks climbing through mountains and off-roading with tough dudes driving them to construction sites or ranches. Lexus = luxury, sophistication. Sleek, sexy cars for sleek, sexy professionals. Their targets are totally different and their brands are consistent and speak to those targets. From the logos to the materials to the commercials… their brands have consistent looks and messages that represent their ‘tough’ and ‘sophisticated’ purposes.
So why is branding important? The simple answer is for consistency. If all of marketing efforts deliver different messages with different looks… it’s confusing to the public. Imagine if Coca-Cola decided to change their colors to green instead of red… or if McDonald’s ditched their golden arches for new blocky-font ‘M’… it would mess up the whole universe! Well not really, but people would complain about it. Not that it really affects their daily lives… it’s the inconsistency that creates confusion and therefore unhappy customers.
So… does your company have a brand? If so, does it represent your purpose? ‘I don’t know’ probably equals ‘no’! Seek branding help immediately!
February 28, 2011
This website is a must-see! Not because of the web design work, not even to necessarily buy the phenomenal handmade products on this ecommerce website, but to be inspired by Holly Leach’s story! It’s refreshing to work with someone like Holly who stands out amongst other businesses because her mission isn’t to make money for herself… it’s to give back to the community. She offers fantastic fundraising programs for groups and giving back options, where 10% of each purchase can be sent to the charity of your choice. Such an amazing business and business-woman and I’m so proud to be a part of this project.
Now for the technical stuff… we setup j.b. lane on yahoo merchant solutions and customized the shopping cart and checkout process to have the same look as her wonderful, whimsical new website! Check it out and remember this site for baby shower gifts and other unique gift ideas for women. All handmade in the USA!
February 21, 2011
If your answer is ‘I don’t know’… chances are that means it’s not. Unfortunately, unless you know your way around html or have researched search engine optimization, it’s difficult to know if your website is optimized. As a website designer, I am constantly thinking about creating websites from a search-engine-friendly perspective. I try not to push additional services onto my clients, however, I am very familiar with optimizing for web and have had great success with improving organic search results. Some of the things to consider for optimizing your website for search engines are the following:
- Meta tags – particularly the keywords and description. You can see if you website has these important meta tags by right-clicking on the background of your website and selecting ‘view source’. Do a search for ‘keywords’ and ‘description’ – they will be near the top of the code. Many websites do not have these, and while they are not THE biggest factor in search engine optimization, they can definitely help and should not be ignored.
- Title tags – these are a very important factor and should be optimized for each specific page. The title can also be found in the code, but always appears in the very top of the browser as well. Title tags should include your main keywords. For example, if your company name is KDesign (like mine), putting KDesign alone in the title tag is a bad move. Instead I put keywords like ‘custom website designer’ in there. That way, people searching for ‘custom website designer’ will find my site as opposed to just limiting my results to people looking specifically for ‘KDesign’ which would obviously be far fewer people.
- Heading tags – these are part of the content of your website but are given more ‘credit’ with search engines as they are considered ‘headings’ instead of just plain text. Headings have a hierarchy (h1, h2, h3… tags) in which the most ‘credit’ is given to the h1 tags. Again – your main keywords should be utilized within h1 tags. Again – you can see if your website has these by viewing the source and searching for ‘h1′.
- Content – this, of course, is the text on the website and is easy to find and review. Again, your keywords should be utilized throughout the content, while still flowing nicely and easy to read.
- Fresh content – another huge factor in search engine optimization is fresh content. If you do everything else on this list and then let your website sit stagnant for 5 years… the search engines won’t care about you anymore. Content should be refreshed as often as possible. Weekly, monthly, or at least quarterly to keep the search engine spiders crawling your site. The more fresh content and the more often, the better. If you want an easy way to do this… consider a blog!
- Domain name – this is debatable, but I’m a believer! The domain attached to your hosting account should contain a main keyword. Using my company as the example again… I have ‘webdesignnebraska.com’ – and I am #1 in google for that search term. I also have ‘kdesignweb.com’ which I put on all my marketing materials, but really – it just forwards to the ‘real’ domain name, which contains my keywords. I have seen great success with this theory, however, the bad news is that if you rearrange those words at all (like Nebraska web design) then it’s not #1 – but it is still 5th. Just choose your domain wisely! Enlist the help of a professional who can assist with researching great keywords if you can.
- Analytics – you absolutely HAVE to enable some sort of analytics on your website so you (or your web designer) are able to track and analyze the results of any keyword changes you have made. Google analytics is free and easy to install. A must have.
- Don’t overdo it – if you know for a fact your main keyword is ‘custom website designer’ and you put it in your meta tag keywords and description, title tag, h1 tag, and content… then you’re off to a good start. BUT… if you overdo it or abuse it (like putting it in every single sentence on every single page) the search engines will eventually punish you for it. In other words – they know you’re trying to cheat. (Not to mention the users attempting to read this content will think you’re a weirdo.)
In my opinion, the best way to improve search results is to have long term goals, stick to ‘best practices’ (avoid black hat techniques that will work quickly, but eventually get your website punished) , use a variety of keywords that are appropriate for your company and industry (not unlike diversifying in investments), and do the appropriate research/analysis at least once a quarter to determine what keywords are working, what aren’t, and what other trends you can find and take advantage of. If you are paying a web designer for a search engine optimization campaign, then they should be doing research and utilizing tools or software to optimize the keywords, descriptions, title tags, heading tags and content. Such campaigns should be ongoing – quarterly is a good time line as it typically takes a couple months to be able to see the results of the previous changes on the search engine results.
Clients often ask about ‘pay per click’ campaigns (like Google AdWords) which is a totally different ball game. This is not a service I provide and is a completely different strategy and process. I would always recommend giving an organic campaign a shot (for 6 months to a year) before paying the big bucks for a pay per click campaign. Unless immediacy is a factor – pay per click results can be much quicker.