Category: Websites

2021 UX Design Trends

2021 UX Design Trends

2020 has brought us a lot of ups and downs throughout the year. It has been a year of many firsts, but one thing is for sure: the User Experience (UX) world has not slowed down one bit. Now more than ever, design has taken the forefront of many companies’ agendas. With the already rapidly growing digital presence of many brands, this year has brought an unprecedented number of new eyes to a company’s doorstep. With all of these new viewers, it is essential that their experience with a digital product is seamless. For designers, staying relevant and up to date on the latest trends is crucial and can be the defining moment in one’s career.

Today, I would like to bring you current and upcoming design trends that will be taking us into the New Year. With the unknown future that lies ahead of us, designers must stay up to date on all upcoming trends to help cater our work to the next big client.

Minimalism

While there is such a love/hate relationship with this design practice, it is not going anywhere anytime soon. Minimalistic design is such a hot topic right now, with there being a growing need for design that caters to all generations of people. The saying “less is more” really does go a long way for the end-user. Anytime a designer can make the UX a simpler and effective process, it will always yield positive results.

AI

Anyone reading this on a cell phone has likely dealt with Artificial Intelligence in their life. Whether it be accidentally opening Siri or using voice commands to help turn down the music in the room. The growing usage of AI has skyrocketed over the last few years, and with all of the new advanced capabilities provided to end-users, there is not an end in sight for AI.

Mobile-First

Mobile-first design is not a new idea for 2021, but it is a vital practice that all UX designers have to keep in mind. With nearly everyone having access to mobile devices, it is important for all designs to have mobile implementations kept at the forefront. This is a practice that will only continue to grow going into the New Year.

Realism

Thanks to the capabilities of modern technology, designers can bring nearly everything to life. Whether it is something as simple as a postcard, all the way to a full-fledged billboard, bringing designs to life is a hot topic going into 2021. Giving a user the ability to see a product come to reality with a design really helps grab their attention.

Bold, Bold, Bold

Bold colors! Bold fonts! Bold graphics! While we talked about how minimalism is such a growing trend, integrating bold flavors into a design really pushes a product to stand

apart from the rest. A subtle pop of text or bold new color can take the design from just a simple image to the next big thing. Expect many designs in the New Year to really pop with a bold new look!

-Tyler T


You have your website, so what’s next?

An effective web presence goes beyond the creation of a website. You’ve just created your business’ first page, but do you know what to do next?

Continued support and maintenance are important factors in making sure your site remains an effective tool for driving new business and keeping customers coming back.

The beauty of a website is that it is the most adaptable marketing tool at your disposal. You can add to it, reshape it and even give it a fully automated life of its own. But as you build more and more into the site, things will inevitably go wrong.

So from content to security and maintenance, let’s break down what is needed to keep your website thriving.

Start with security

Once the bones of your website exist, hackers already have their eyes on your pages. Creating security systems is a good place to start so that you can prevent issues before they have a chance to happen.

Spam or dangerous links are sent to users through internal pages.

Let’s say you have a contact form as one of your pages after creating your site, as you should. That page is the portal for users to input their valuable personal info, which then lives on the server that hosts your website. This highly important part of your site is now a danger to your visitors. User data being breached through your website can be devastating to your Google rankings.

You can avoid this by ensuring that your website is locked down with security protocols, which are a standard for large websites everywhere on the internet. You can also set up a regular monitoring service that will notify you of infections and breaches.

Backups can also be a lifesaver for dealing with security breaches on your site. Even if this backup is a month old and is missing tweaks and updates you made recently, it’s still an important fallback to have if things go wrong.

Your hosting platform likely has a built-in backup system, which allows you to restore everything that made your site exist on that platform. FTPs provide a simpler backup, which will store your website files and nothing more. You’ll have to upload this backup to a new hosting account and, in a sense, rebuild the pieces from scratch.

Outside of security issues, backups can also be useful for server crashes when a website isn’t properly maintained.

Add content, and then add some more

Regularity is the goal when creating a content publishing schedule for your website. This will do wonders for your discoverability on search engines. It also keeps existing users engaged and likely to revisit often.

You can never have too much content, as long as your best posts don’t get buried. When it comes to Google rankings, all of your posts will prop up each other. You can take further advantage of this by back-linking to your own posts within new ones.

Blogs or other written content are the best way to keep fresh updates coming to your website. These posts should be relevant to your user without freely giving away too much of what your company might sell.

Use content to build confidence in your readers that you’re an expert within your industry. But at the same time, you want to attract new users that might not be as familiar with the subject matter your content discusses. Avoiding jargon can help your content stay relevant to both new and experienced readers in your industry.

Keep it alive and updated

We started this blog under the assumption that you have just created your first website, but website maintenance is equally important to companies that haven’t touched their website in years.

The internet moves at a breakneck pace and new trends come and go, so a 5 year old website that hasn’t been updated might look archaic today. If you dedicate time to usability testing, you can look at your website from the view of a customer and reevaluate your page’s design and structure.

Test any forms on your website once a month. Ensure that everything works as intended across mobile and desktop versions. You never want to miss leads because you don’t see when they fill out a form.

Always check for broken links, even if your website is still relatively new. Links that lead to a 404 page drive users away and are also horrible for Google rankings. This can happen as websites that you link to close down or change domains.

Whenever you change pages on your own site, you can stay ahead of this by creating 301 redirects. This is primarily so that search results don’t bring people to dead links. But it also means you won’t have to go back into your other pages’ back-links to update those.

Broken links can be tracked down on your site with free tools like Google Search Console. This service also provides many other useful resources for managing your site.

There’s always more

Analytics, loading times, SEO, host software updates, etc. The list of things to do for your website goes on and on. But addressing these first crucial tasks will set you up with the knowledge to upkeep your site and find greater success.

As we focus on website services, we’ll be sharing more tips for maintaining your site. Check back for a deeper dive into 301 redirects and a breakdown of blogging strategies for your website.


What you should know about web security protocols

Cookies, HTTPS and SSL might sounds like a confusing combination of letters and sweets, but when it comes to web security, these protocols are actually fairly straight forward. Knowing their differences and how they can each protect the integrity of your website is crucial. They can be easy to implement, and most users are already familiar with seeing the terminology of “HTTP” and “cookies.”

Cookies

Starting with the most familiar web security concept, let’s look at how cookies work for both users and websites. When a user comes to your website and enters in information, their web browser stores a small file of letters and numbers. This file acts as a key that allows the website to access the computer’s memory and recognize the user.

For websites with large databases and advanced customizability, cookies can do wonders for the user experience. If a user can be instantly recognized and catered to when they pull up your site, they will constantly come back for that ease of use. This can help to simplify the process of purchasing a product or service through your site. You can even build your website around the use of cookies. Give users the ability to arrange content in a way that suits their interests or needs. More customization is always a good thing for connecting with users and clients.

HTTPS

While web security featuresgive users peace of mind,  HTTPS matter much more for those who run websites. One key use that new web platform features get out of HTTPS is permission requests. Web pages and apps can use this feature to enable access to user media such as photos and audio.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a more secure version of a procedure that has existed for a while. The additional S, for security, was added on to the HyperText Transfer Protocol, which enables the exchange of information over the internet. HTTPS is an extra procedure that encrypts data between senders and recipients.

Think of it like sending a box that contains all of your personal identification info to someone through the mail. If someone were to intercept and open this package, all of the info within would be undecipherable and would mean nothing to the interceptor. HTTPS make it so that only the sender and intended recipient can decipher the contents within that box.

Setting up HTTPS for your website involves getting a certificate, which is where SSL comes into play.

SSL

On the topic of encryption, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is the standard protocol used to encrypt information sent between web servers and browsers. The first step in the process of ensuring your web security is hosting with a dedicated IP address. This is something you can set up with an IP hosting service, or work with your current web host to upgrade your account to have a dedicated IP address.

Next, you can purchase an SSL certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority (CA). There are many trusted CAs out there and you can work with your web administrator to decide which one to purchase through. Acquiring this certificate will allow your website to be fully trusted by internet browsers and mobile devices. It is also important to note that there are a few different types of SSL certificates, and you should know which one suits your business best.

Having the SSL certificate is what upgrades your website from HTTP to HTTPS. You can configure your site to automatically direct users to the HTTPS version of the page. One added benefit of an HTTPS protected site is that Google offers SEO benefits to pages with SSL.

You’ve seen the iconic padlock on your web browser’s URL bar. That lock comes from using SSL, and now you know how to add that lock to your website’s address. So lock down your security and take control of your privacy and that of your users.


5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs SEO

I’m sure you’ve come across the term “SEM,” and you’ve heard  that to have a successful business, you need “SEO.” You probably receive emails, phone calls, and solicitations in the mail every single week from companies that all want to sell you search engine optimization. But are any of them telling you WHY you need search engine optimization?

Here are five reasons why your business needs SEO:

  1. It delivers your highest return on investment

There is no other form of online marketing that can deliver a return like SEO. It’s important to use a reputable SEO company. Using an inexperienced company or one that is simply outsourcing the work overseas and has absolutely no idea what a successful SEO campaign consists of won’t yield the results that an experience company will.

So many businesses get frustrated by these low quality companies that simply don’t have the knowledge to deliver results. When done correctly, SEO can deliver nonstop organic traffic that would cost a tremendous amount of money if it was being paid for through a paid search campaign on a per click basis.

When SEO is done correctly, it can deliver consistent traffic to your website. If you’re working with an experienced and knowledgeable SEO provider you will not have to worry about these issues. So many companies fall for services that promise the world for a few hundred dollars and this just isn’t realistic. You have to be willing to invest in a service that does it correctly.

  1. SEO isn’t going away

SEO will never go away. It continues to evolve over time and the companies that understand it are constantly adapting. Over the past few years the mass link building spam has been penalized and now the focus revolves around creating content and earning links from high quality and relevant websites.

The concept of SEO will never change, but the techniques to maintain rankings will always change. SEO will be around as long as the Internet is, so it is a good idea to get involved now instead of sitting on the sidelines.

  1. Your Competition is doing it

Many businesses are under the assumption that SEO only needs to be done until top rankings are achieved, but that is not accurate at all. If your website reaches the top spots it will require even more work to maintain and continue to improve the rankings.

Your competition is going after those top positions as well, so you need to either compete to beat them to it or sit back and let them take the majority share of traffic for your industry. Are you going to sit back and just hand them business? Simply ignoring SEO is just giving your competition business without a fight.

  1. Your Customers Are Mobile & Searching

Mobile traffic continues to increase at a rapid rate and it is now outpacing traffic from desktop computers. SEO allows your business to be found by consumers that are actively looking for the services and products your business provides. Local search engine optimization can help your business be found by individuals that can turn into store visits, phone calls, or even instant online purchases. Mobile search is the future, so you need to make sure your business is ready for it.

  1. Everyone Looks For Businesses Online

With a SEO strategy in place you can increase the odds of your potential customer base locating your website and engaging with your company. Think about how convenient the Internet is for a consumer. They can search for a business, review products, review the business, and even make purchases. This can be done from the comfort of their home on a desktop, or while on the go from a tablet or mobile device. If you want to be found online then you need SEO.

There is no denying every business needs a SEO strategy in place to attract organic traffic and be found online. It provides a tremendous ROI when done correctly, and is a great long term marketing strategy.


5 Ways to Know if Your Website is Ugly

This week we announced a contest looking for the ugliest website the Lowcountry has to offer. Yes, you read that correctly. We are looking for the UGLIEST website in Charleston. A website is a business’s online front door, and we’re passionate about making sure each site we provide to our customers is attractive and productive. However, there is surprisingly large amount of websites that still need improvement to make them effective sales tools. We want to play a role in fixing that.

Thus, the Ugly Website Contest was born. If you’re having trouble figuring out if your website qualifies as “ugly,” we’ve got 5 telltale signs that will tell you the truth about your site:

  1. If the overall design of your website hasn’t been updated since before Lady Gaga wore a meat dress to the Grammys (so, like, 2010), chances are your website is ugly. Websites have changed dramatically over the past 8 years, so if yours hasn’t, your competitions’ probably has.

  2. Are you are still using Comic Sans font and decorating your home page with clip art, florescent colors, and dancing icons? If so, your website is definitely ugly. Less is more when it comes to designing your site, and the cleaner the information appears, the more likely your visitors will want to explore more.

  3. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you might have an ugly website. 60% of online searches are done via mobile. It’s obvious when a website wasn’t made to fit a mobile device because the display is cluttered and hard to follow.

  4. Is there a call-to-action on your home page? Easy to navigate to another spot on your website? If not, you probably have an ugly website.

  5. If you still have products on your site that you haven’t sold since everyone dialed in with AOL, your website is not only ugly, but outdated.

If any of these points make you think of your own website, this contest is for you. Submit your site to us HERE, and enter to win the following:

5-7 page website update including a contact form and blog page if desired

Mobile responsive layout

Mobile device “sticky call” button

1 year of GoDaddy web hosting

Initial meta description set-up

Search engine optimization

Google Analytics integration

A great website is not only visually pleasing, but user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and search engine optimized. We want to provide this for a Lowcountry business that needs it.  If you think you or someone you know could be a contender, we want to see your website!


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