5 Tips to Design for the Web

web design

By Keely Smith, Design & Multimedia Specialist

In an age of information overload, it’s vital to communicate visually and effectively. Presenting information on the Internet in a way that is easily digestible for any viewer can be a challenge, but here are five tips that will make any Web designer’s life a little bit easier:

  1. Create intuitive navigation

Navigation is a crucial element for keeping people on your site, and a viewer should be able to locate key information within the first 10 seconds.

Primary navigation is typically displayed horizontally toward the top of the page, while secondary navigation is often included in dropdown menus for subsequent pages. Pay attention to the titles – it should be clear to a visitor what they will see when navigating to another page.

  1.  De-clutter

Iorganizet’s very easy to be overloaded with images, a danger for anyone trying to communicate visually. When confronted with too many images on a website (graphics, photos, slideshows, animated gifs, bright buttons), it is overwhelming for anyone visiting.

Our brains stop processing information when presented with too many options. Simplify and consolidate your information. It will pay off!

  1. Use white space

I often come across sites that are jam-packed with information, making it difficult to navigate and find what I’m looking for.

Don’t be afraid of white space. The entire page doesn’t need to be loaded with graphics, pictures, buttons and calls-to-action. Having white space will help create hierarchy within a webpage. Allow your design to breathe! See examples here.

  1. Be intentional with color

nature paletteColor is a major player in the overall aesthetic of a website. It’s important to ask what colors are appropriate, consistent and complementary to your brand. Subdued color palletes, like those often seen on corporate sites, tend to render a clean and modern appearance, while personal portfolios or small business sites allow more freedom to experiment with brighter colors.

Remember that color can attract or defer viewers from certain information, so use it intentionally. Having a hard time picking a color pallete? Use photographs of nature to sample colors in Photoshop or resources like Adobe Kuler to find inspiration or download color themes.

  1. Pay attention to detail

Although elements such as rollover functionalities should be one of the finishing touches when designing a website, they should not be forgotten. Hover effects like change in color, text, dimming and highlighting are effective ways to add some interest to the overall functionality of your site. Visitors will be prompted to click on additional pages, keeping them on your site longer.

Designing websites is a complex process that requires experience and fundamental Web knowledge. If you’re new to the practice it may be frustrating at first, yet the end product is always rewarding!

If designing for the web sounds too technical, let us know. Our graphic designers are happy to work with you to produce a site you love.


Take a look at our related blog posts:

5 Signs Your Brand Needs a Refresh

How Infographics Work and Why Your Brand Needs to Use Them More


How Infographics Work and Why Your Brand Needs to Use Them More

increase in visualsBy Chance Shay, Communications Strategist

In 2015 it’s impossible to browse a news site, scroll through your social media stream or learn about an innovative product without coming across an infographic and there’s good reason for that.

Humans are consuming more information than ever before. In fact, in 2008 Americans consumed about 1.3 trillion hours of information outside of work. This works out to an average of nearly 12 hours per person per day, which means most American’s are constantly consuming information other than when they sleep.

With so much information coming at a person each day, how does a brand communicate in a way that gives itself the best chance at having its information capture the attention of current and prospective customers?


In addition to allowing information to be consumed easier, infographics lend themselves perfectly to the modern culture of social sharing. The cool designs, fun visuals and interesting kernels of data make infographics the perfect content to share with Twitter followers, muse about on YouTube channel,s up-vote on Reddit or even write a blog about (this blog about infographics being good for blogs = blogception).

But enough words, we’ll let the visuals do the talking. The good folks at NeoMam Studios put together an awesome interactive infographic webpage (we LOVE HTML5 too!) illustrating thirteen reasons why your brain craves infographics. Some of those images are below, but visit their webpage for the full list.

And remember the golden rule: if you can communicate your message visually, do it.

visually wired

information overload

visually persuasive

Check out our related posts below:

Solution-Based Web Tools For Every PR Pro

Your Competitive Advantage is Being Human


5 Signs Your Brand Needs a Refresh

branding refresh

branding refresh

By Keely Smith, Design & Multimedia Specialist

Branding plays an influential role in setting a business up for success. A brand is more than just a logo – it is a visual representation of a business’ values and creates an entire customer experience from the visual identity and website to social media presence. So is yours working for you? Below are 5 signs your brand is due for a refresh.

  1. Your brand looks outdated

Our world is certainly no stranger to change. With the adoption of new technologies, it is youtubeimportant to have a brand that moves a business forward and doesn’t hold it back. Having a “retro” identity may be intentional in some cases. However, if a brand is no longer effectively serving as a visual representation of your business and its vision and doesn’t communicate key messaging clearly, it’s time for an update.

A complete overhaul is not always the solution. Minor adjustments to existing elements, like a change in color palette or typefaces used, are very simple and effective ways to give your brand a facelift. The goal is to achieve an identity that looks timeless.

  1. Your brand is stunting growth

As a business grows, so should its brand. Let’s say a business changes its services offered – there has been a shift in target audience, or a new partnership has formed. A successful brand should reflect any modifications made. If the existing brand is no longer applicable to current growth and expansion, it’s time to go back and revisit the drawing board.

  1. Your brand doesn’t add value

Are you an industry leader? Do you have outstanding customer service? Are you serious about what you do and what your business has to offer? Great! Your brand should represent everything you take pride in as a business.

A well-thought-out, well-designed brand can do wonders for paving the way to success. A brand creates a “visual reputation” and has a major influence on public perception. If you want your business to be taken seriously, you need to seriously invest in the development of your brand. It will set you apart from competitors and is a proactive way to add value to everything you do.

  1. Your brand lacks consistency

Do you have five or more logos? Countless ways your brand is being used? Consistency is everything, and having too many brands or different logo elements displayed across different media platforms (web, social media, printed collateral, etc.) may hinder the message your business wishes to communicate. Less really is more when it comes to a visual identity. Excessive taglines, colors, gradients and drop shadows in graphic elements are a thing of the past. We have seen a shift in design trends from the overly flashy to the minimal and simplistic.

Although versatility is not a necessity, it provides an opportunity to establish a strong and consistent visual presence. You may have a visual element or icon associated with your brand, which could be used to create a background pattern for a website, for example. You can have a dynamic branding suite, yet maintain consistency and market your brand effectively.

  1. Your brand was your latest DIY project

DIY-foundation-repair-mistakeThere are countless platforms out there that allow anyone to create their own brand with the click of a button. Although this may be convenient and cost-effective, it runs the risk of projecting an unsuccessful or negative image. This is where investing in your brand pays off. It is important to work with a graphic designer when it comes to the development of your visual identity. Graphic design is an art form, and designers are constantly fine-tuning their skill. Designers specialize in visual communication and know how to deliver an intentional brand with a strong visual presence.

It all goes back to what you are trying to accomplish as a brand. Consistency is critical, and your branding should reflect that. Whether you’re a big corporation or a small startup, these tips will help you decide if a refresh is right for you.

Don’t Delete Your Google+ Profiles Just Yet: The Network Still Provides Benefits for Brands

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Everyone seems to have an opinion on the future of Google+.  A quick Google search of “Google+ is dead” nets several articles debating the future of the social network. The headlines read:

  • “Google+ Is Walking Dead.”
  • “Is Google+ Really Walking Dead?”
  • “Google+ Isn’t Dead. It’s Just In A Coma And On Life Support.”
  • “Google+ Isn’t Dead. Long Live Google +!”

In 2011, when I got an “invite” to join the new exclusive social network, I was excited about the possibilities. Would it replace Facebook as the social network du jour? Would Google finally launch a successful social media platform (RIP Google Buzz)? I was disappointed when, within a few short months, Google+ seemed to lose its luster.

Speculators have been hemming and hawing over Google+’s longevity since just after its launch, but those questions increased last month when Vic Gundotra, head of Google+ social efforts, announced that he was leaving the company. To add to the PR firestorm, Tech Crunch published an article citing a “source” that claims that “Google+ will no longer be considered a product, but a platform — essentially ending its competition with other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.” Google denied the claims.

(W)right On’s conclusion: Don’t delete your Google+ profiles yet.  While the future of the social network isn’t clear, it still provides a number of benefits for brands:

SEO: Google is a search engine, so it makes sense that Google+ provides significant SEO advantages. Google+ content itself – meaning content you post to your page – can rank in search results in instances where your website may not. Google+ also allows for near-instant indexing, whereas simply putting up new content and waiting it out usually takes a few days.

According to Forbes, “linking your Google+ page to your content via Google Authorship markup will cause the headshot and stats from your Google+ profile to show up in Google’s search results pages next to content you have written. This includes a your profile picture displaying within search results next to your content, which has been shown to draw user’s eyes and significantly improve click-through rates.”

Further, when someone follows you on Google+, it is much more likely that your content will appear higher in their search results. And when other Google+ users give a link multiple +1s, the pages shoot up in the search rankings.

No Pay for Play: Facebook has more active users than Google+. But with the latest change to its algorithm, Facebook has recently become “pay for play,” which means it’s difficult for posts to gain traction unless the page owner pays money to “boost” them. This means that “free” Facebook marketing may no longer a viable way for businesses to reach consumers.

[RELATED: Pay for Play: Will Facebook Get In Trouble?]

Quality Visits: According to a recent report from Shareaholic, Google+ actually has the second highest social media post-click engagement. YouTube took the #1 spot and Facebook is down at #5. So although Google+ drives fewer referrals compared to its competitors, it turns out the traffic it does drive is actually quite high on the quality scale. Google+ users spend more than three minutes diving into links shared by their circles, view 2.45 pages during each visit, and bounce only 50.63 percent of the time.

For these reasons alone, we recommend that brands include Google+ as one part of a comprehensive social media strategy. What are your thoughts on Google+? Is it dead, alive or maybe just sick? Join the debate in the comments.

Five Tips for Creating a Visual Brand

Visuals only hold the value that we give them. With no context, a shape is just a shape. Though it may serve many purposes in many forms, from complex geometry and math to the rich history of a 200-year-old brand, a shape on its own won’t tell your audience a story.
Suppose we took a shape and placed it with another to give it context:
In this instance, we can note that the shapes aren’t the same, but they appear to have similar weight and value. What happens if we distinguish them further?
Now we can assume more about these two shapes. They’re different colors and different shapes. They must be opposites.
It happens often. You’ll view an object that you haven’t encountered and make inferences about its use based on your personal experiences. The same happens with brand visuals. How can we influence our audience to make positive assumptions about us? How do we make sure that they view us in a good light, even if they’ve never interacted with our product?
1. Intentional Design
Like in the above example, we naturally make assumptions based on related experiences. It’s likely that we viewed the red “X” as a negative symbol, and the green “O” as a positive symbol. These exist for many other symbols, characters and even colors. It’s important that we bear in mind the suppositions that can be made about a brand.
Fortunately, designers have the edge. They have their own experiences in what has worked to connect with target audiences and what hasn’t, and can bring these experiences back to you. A designer’s real expertise is their ability to put themselves in the perspective of someone who has had baseline exposure to your products. In combination with the knowledge of their target market, designers have the opportunity to shape consumers’ opinions and future expectations of your brand.
2. Coherency
Visuals should obviously fit with company messaging: Composition is appropriate to the designer’s medium, color palettes appropriate to the unique target market and everything from front to back works toward the overarching goal. But as they say, “the devil is in the detail.”
What’s not so obvious is that a brand should be descriptive of its origins and convey your goals in the market. A brand should put a face to a product, service or organization. And when potential consumers look at the competition, they should be able to clearly see the difference in the experience your product can offer.
3. Design for People
One of the things that is not stressed enough is that people are going to be the ones viewing any branding you execute. When determining what “personality” a brand conveys, consumers often hope for something “tech-y” or “friendly” or “fun – those descriptors are a few of many, of course.” A successful brand will find ways to tie these themes back to the people in its market. It’s important to keep reminding yourself that your brand isn’t trying to appeal to your competitors.
As a designer, a good measure of success is the ability to provoke emotion, whether a simple positive/negative reaction like, “this is nice,” or nostalgic feelings, like remembering the color shirt your first date wore to the movies. Emotion is a good indication of success because it lets us know if and how people are making a connection to a brand. Keeping a brand too “market-centric” prevents doing so on a larger scale.
4. Flexibility
A flexible brand keeps things from becoming stale and brings a human quality to any and all of its messaging and collateral. Brand flexibility can open the door to many opportunities, and great brands can translate across multiple platforms simply and effectively. A successful brand will have a clear, recognizable and consistent message throughout.
It’s often difficult to tell what’s coming around the corner. Sometimes a series of events – planned or otherwise — could lead you to huge growth or opportunity to reach a larger audience. Going through the effort of a rebrand could be costly or untimely. When developing a brand, it’s hard to be conscious of the unknown, but leaving your visuals flexible can set you up early for success.
Like a great brand translates across platforms, a great brand can also translate across multiple generations. A brand can go through multiple rebrands and changes in messaging but always remember the brand is about the product or service. Keeping this in mind will help develop a consistent brand.
Continuity is the bridge between the visual and non-visual elements of your brand. This includes everything from the product, messaging, history, imagery and color scheme. Though these elements may change, the bridge that brings them together should not.
Need some examples of great visual brands? Visit our page to get our take on effectively approaching and building a brand. Or, comment below and tell us if you have any tips.