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The Creator Of The Web Says Ads Are Killing It But Design Can Save I

The internet’s problems were “created by people–and can be fixed by people,” writes Tim Berners-Lee. [Source Image: tovovan/iStock] By Mark Wilson2 minute Read This weekend the World Wide Web turned 29 years old. And in that time, it’s grown from a democratic experiment to connect the world into a finely quantified advertising machine, in which …


The process of visual communication and problem-solving using one or more of typography, photography and illustration. The field is considered a subset of visual communication and communication design, but sometimes the term “graphic design” is used synonymously. Graphic designers create and combine symbols, images and text to form visual representations of ideas and messages. They use typography, visual arts and page layout techniques to create visual compositions. Common uses of graphic design include corporate design (logos and branding), editorial design (magazines, newspapers and books), wayfinding or environmental design, advertising, web design, communication design, product packaging and signage.

Click on aw to see design derivatives







What Is The Purpose Of Your Website?

What is the purpose of your company website? If you can’t answer that question clearly, there’s a good chance you’re squandering your best online asset. And even if you can answer the question, if you’re off the mark you’ll wind up with the same result — an underperforming or even counterproductive site. Don’t let that happen to you!

Established companies frequently drift into purposelessness because they launched a site when the Internet was new, and from then on have never given it much strategic thought. Over time, their sites have become Frankenstein monsters of patched-together tactics: a little e-commerce here, a little lead generation there, a lot of “look at me!” content everywhere.

Newer companies struggle with purpose for the opposite reason: too much strategic thinking. These days you can’t open your browser without bumping into a hundred blog posts about how to do this with your site and how to do that with your site. A business that’s paying attention can easily reach the conclusion that if its site isn’t as complex as the genetic code, it will be a woefully inadequate business tool.

How do you begin to shape a purposeful company website? Old or new, your best bet is to keep it simple. Basically, you have three strategic options:

  • Sell products and services
  • Generate leads
  • Establish credentials

Option 1, an e-commerce site, requires the biggest development and marketing budgets. It produces direct revenue and measurable profit, as well as sales leads.

Option 2, a lead-generation site, can be developed and marketed for less (generally speaking), but still requires a hefty investment. It produces qualified, trackable sales leads.

Option 3, a credentials site, is the simplest and least expensive option. It makes a good impression on people who know who you are, but won’t help you find new leads or customers.

How do you know which option is right for you? A lot of factors go into that decision, with budget being one of the most important (which I’ll cover in my next post). For now, suffice to say that many companies have lead-generation ambitions but only a credentials budget.

Other major factors to consider:

  • The nature of your business. A law firm specializing in antitrust cases probably won’t attract leads from Google search or pay-per-click ads. On the other hand, the firm needs to make a solid impression on potential clients who have already heard of it. In contrast, a law firm specializing in personal injury cases will most definitely be able to generate leads on Google. The antitrust firm has better things to spend money on than a lead-generation site; for the personal injury firm, such a site could make all the difference in the world.
  • The geographic scope of your business. A credentials site makes sense for a local art gallery. But suppose the gallery wants to market its art regionally, nationally, or internationally. Now, e-commerce and lead generation can be contemplated, and the overall business plan can drive decisions about must-have site capabilities and the marketing budget that makes the most sense.
  • Supporting business structure. Sadly, well-executed lead-generation sites sometimes fail because the firm lacks a sales department capable of following up on the leads or closing them. E-commerce sites implode when the firm’s IT resources are overwhelmed by system demands, or when its fulfillment infrastructure becomes overloaded by the additional volume. Website strategies must always be considered in the context of your overall business capabilities.

Each type of site has its own set of characteristics, which is why it’s hard to mix and match features. For example, a few items thrown up for sale on a credentials site will probably have

  • low visibility or awkward positioning on the page
  • a poor user experience in terms of understanding the offer and completing a transaction
  • the effect of confusing visitors as to the purpose of the site and nature of the firm’s business

In short, mixing and matching purposes does more harm than good. As with most business activities, Internet marketing strategies cannot be crafted or executed haphazardly. Winning sites are built and marketed with singular focus.

Article by Brad Shorr re-printed from Forbes magazine.

10 Small Business Website Errors That Drive Customers Away

Visitors seldom leave a small business website with a neutral impression. For most prospects, your small business is an unknown quantity, so their first impression of your company will either make them more comfortable doing business with you or less comfortable. For this reason, you want their first experience with your website to inspire them to contact you—not your competitor.

These are the 10 biggest website problems that can drive potential new business away:

1. “Look at Me” Content

If you think burying prospects under a mountain of features, benefits, and self-praise will convince prospects to buy from you, think again. Information dumps and inwardly focused website content are big turnoffs. Website visitors want to know what’s in it for them, and they want to know quickly. Always write from the prospect’s point of view, and keep it at a high level.

2. Blurry Branding

Many small businesses try to communicate excellence in everything: “We’re the best,” “we’re the cheapest,” “we’re the most innovative,” etc. All this does is confuse prospects or make them think you’re mediocre at everything. Like big, successful brands, try to be known for one thing, and hammer that point home. Think about Apple: It does lots of things well, but most people are attracted to its products because of its design excellence. What differentiates your company in a meaningful way? That’s your brand.

3. No Credibility Elements

As I mentioned earlier, many small businesses can be unknown quantities. To overcome buyer skepticism, you must have powerful credibility elements on your website. The most impressive types are customer testimonials; BBB and other well-known accreditations; and statistics about your number of customers, volume of sales, and other pertinent data that makes your company look big, growing, and successful. Without credibility elements, website visitors have only your marketing propaganda to go by, and that won’t be enough.

 4. Clumsy Contact Options

If your website doesn’t make it easy for visitors to contact you, they won’t. Small business websites frequently lack easy-to-use contact forms, and many don’t even display a phone number. Clumsy contact options can drive site visitors crazy. Good contact forms have only a few required fields and include a privacy statement to reassure prospects you won’t sell or give away their email address. It’s also imperative to send prospects a confirmation email after they submit a form.

5. Poor SEO Structure

Because your small business is not a household name, you need customers to be able to find you in Google search results when they are looking for the products or services you offer, but don’t yet know that you exist. Many small business websites are poorly structured for SEO, making it difficult or impossible for Google crawlers to understand the content and rank it accordingly. The result? You are invisible in Google searches, a deficiency that over time could cost your business hundreds or thousands of sales leads or online orders.

6. Using Stock Photography

Small businesses are usually on a tight budget, so using stock photography is a tempting way to cut costs on website design. Big mistake. This isn’t 2002; prospects have seen thousands of websites and have likely seen your stock photos a hundred times. Stock photography conveys a lack of imagination, a company that is going through the motions and presenting a false image. It should be called “schlock photography.” Instead, spend a few hundred dollars on a professional photographer to take interior/exterior building shots, headshots of personnel, and useful photos of products. It will make your company feel real and add credibility in a big way.

7. Typos

Website copy must be free of grammatical errors, spelling errors, vague statements, and other defects that tell customers your company doesn’t pay attention to details, lacks sophistication, and is content to do the job halfway. Few businesses have professional writers on staff, but they are easily found online, as are editors. Skilled freelancers are affordable, and can transform negative-impact content into content that prospects find irresistible. Obviously well worth the investment!

8. Confusing Navigation

Creating user-friendly website navigation is far more complex and nuanced than meets the eye. Strong navigation is intuitive and simple, and makes it easy for visitors to quickly find what they need and get back to where they were. Small businesses often botch the job by having too many navigation labels in the header, using non-intuitive text for their labels (e.g., “People” versus “About Us”), failing to use sidebar and/or breadcrumb navigation to supplement top-level navigation. A lot of navigation issues can be corrected by observing actual users explore your website.

9. Not Showing Your Work

Small business websites that talk in generalities are not going to persuade visitors that you can deliver the goods. To build credibility and also provide insight about how you get results, make sure your website has detailed case studies, a portfolio with brief narratives and images of successful projects, and/or data showing specifically how you helped customers save money, improve throughput, or whatever else it is you do that makes your products and services valuable. Unfortunately, a lot of small companies try to shortcut the website work, and fail to provide this type of information, which is often right under their noses.

10. No Mobile-Friendly Website

This last point is probably the most important of all. Today, more people access the Internet from mobile devices than from desktop computers. If your website is not mobile-friendly, you are writing off half your potential audience—maybe a lot more depending on your business. Beyond that, a mobile-unfriendly website hurts SEO, and is likely to hurt it a lot more in the coming years. The best mobile option is usually to have a responsive design, making your website adjust automatically for optimum display on any size screen.

Avoid these 10 errors and you can transform your website into a lead- and revenue-generating machine. Plus, because so many small businesses fall into these traps, by avoiding them you will give yourself a substantial competitive advantage and get more than your fair share of business from online sources. That alone will add value to your company.

Article by Brad Shorr re-printed from Forbes magazine.


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