Friday, April 4, 2014

The Purpose of Psychology-Based Web Design

The online landscape is crowded. Competition to stand out, get recognized and engage an audience - and keep them coming back - is stronger than ever. But without the bottomless pockets of mega brands who can continually experiment with the latest web design technologies to make their sites sing and dance, is there a way of having a similarly dramatic effect simply by applying some basic psychological principles?

Why adopt psychology-based design? When designing for the web, considering the psychological drives of a target audience hasn't traditionally been a high priority. However, it can have a surprisingly positive influence on how users will utilize a website, how positively they'll engage and how frequently they'll respond to calls-to-action.

Our psychology affects how we interact with websites. Designers can use this to their advantage. Here are a few ways to use psychology when designing your site.

Building trust

In order for website visitors to do what you want them to do, they first, on some level, have to trust you. Trust doesn't come easily, especially with constant news of identity theft and digital schemes and scams.

Without stifling creativity, by offering familiar and recognizable patterns, a website will instantly put visitors at ease... or do the opposite. The site's purpose must be immediately clear. Is the site providing information or selling a product or service? Users must be able to easily move between pages of interest. Steering too far away from basic user expectations in an effort to differentiate, can actually be counterproductive.

As designers, we often overlook this as we’re so used to conducting business online. But for our clients, and for their clients, the Internet can still be a big, scary black hole their information goes into.

With this in mind, you can use design psychology to make your website look more trust-worthy to the average visitor. Creating a website that puts visitors at ease means they’re more likely to sign up for an account, buy a product, or otherwise do business with you. This can be done through a combination of design and the language used on the site.

Familiarity and Recognizable Patterns

When someone lands on a page within a website, there are certain things they expect to see right away, pretty much regardless of the kind of site they’re on.

If they don’t see these things, they often feel as if they’ve ended up in some strange wasteland that doesn’t make sense to them (and therefore, isn’t trustworthy). The two big things people expect are the purpose of the site (which could be anything from providing information on a certain topic to selling a product to looking pretty) and some form of navigation.

While tag lines can help with discerning the purpose, the design can complement and reinforce that message. Let’s say, for example, that you’re designing an environmental blog. If your design is all dark and brooding and has a city skyline at sunset in the header, it’s not going to give us even the slightest hint about what the site’s purpose is.

On the other hand, if it’s a clean, modern-looking site with lots of green and natural-looking accents, that’s going to reinforce the fact that this is an environmental blog.

Beyond the elements everyone expects to find on every website, there are additional things people may expect on certain kinds of sites or within certain industries. People expect blog posts on the front page of a blog. They expect products on the front page of an ecommerce site. They expect a search function on any site that’s more than a few pages deep. And in most cases, they expect some kind of “about” information and a contact page.

Branding Consistency

In addition to the general elements most visitors expect to see on a site, there are often things visitors may associate with your company in particular. While this might not be a concern for a new business, or a very small business, it is a concern for many others.

Think about the colors you use in your offline promotional materials. Those colors should be incorporated into your website in some way, even if it’s just in the header image or as accent colors.

The same goes for your logo. If you use a logo in your printed marketing materials, you need to include it on your website, too. These are very basic things, but it’s surprising how many businesses overlook maintaining consistency between their online and offline marketing efforts.

The majority of sites have logos in the top left corner due to people commonly reading a website in a 'Z' pattern. It's wise to place the most important content within this pattern. In addition, every page on a site should have an obvious focus, whether it's to sell a product or to inform a visitor about a particular subject. Each page design needs to emphasize this focal point, ensuring visitors are clearly made aware of what they're doing there.

Psychological triggers

Incorporating emotional triggers into your designs is most commonly done through the language on the site itself, with graphic elements serving as a support system for those triggers. Use image and graphics that reinforce the trigger being used.

Well-worded text can be full of emotional triggers and with other design features (i.e. fonts, colors, images etc.), reinforcing the desired communication, user engagement and interaction can be dramatically increased.

Images are useful for reinforcing concepts. With many well-priced, professional online image libraries available, there's no excuse for poor or misleading images on a website. Great image choices make your intent clear and professionalism obvious.

The psychology of color is one of the more complex subjects in design. Needless to say, colors used in a website can have a significant impact on how visitors react and engage. For example, red is fiery and represents both love and anger while white signifies purity and innocence.

Allowing areas of white or negative space can be a powerful aid with this and when combined with properly styled and proportioned elements, can far more successfully direct visitors' attention and encourage a desired action.

Color Psychology

The psychology of color is one of the more complex subjects in design psychology, and not something we’ll go in depth on here. But the colors you use can have a heavy impact on how your visitors perceive your site. Make sure the colors you’ve selected reinforce your message and the image you want to portray.

Below is a basic list of colors and their meanings. Of course, the combinations of colors you use along with their exact shade, hue, or tone will also have an impact on their meaning.

Red - Fiery and passionate, can represent both love and anger.

Orange - Shares attributes of both red and yellow. Associated with energy and warmth. It’s calmer than red and more cheerful.

Yellow - A warm, happy color. It can represent either joy or cowardice.

Green - Signifies nature, growth, and renewal. Along the same lines, green can sometimes represent inexperience. On the flip side, green is sometimes associated with envy or jealousy.

Blue - Calming and cool, but too much can be depressing. Often associated with corporate images.

Purple/Violet - Long associated with royalty and wealth. It’s also a spiritual color, and is thought to be creative.

Black - A bit of a chameleon, it can be conservative or edgy, traditional or modern. It can be mysterious and sexy or conventional and safe, depending on how it’s used.

White - Associated with purity and innocence. It goes well with any other color.

Gray - Neutral and balanced. Gray is conservative and sophisticated, but can be seen as moody, too.

Brown - A wholesome and down-to-earth color that denotes stability and reliability.

Focus of Each Page

Every page on your site should have a focus. There should be a purpose to every page, whether that purpose is to showcase a product, tell about your company, or serve up recent news.

Your design needs to put the emphasis on the focal element of every page. The focus of each page should also be immediately apparent, so that visitors know what they’re doing there. This can be accomplished through cues in the navigation or through a header, in addition to the page’s content.

One of the biggest marks of an amateur site is trying to put too much information on each page. Don’t be afraid of white space on your pages, and don’t be afraid of having a defined purpose for each and every page on your site.

Steps for Incorporating Design Psychology

Now that you’re familiar with what design psychology is and what it means to web design, you may be wondering how, exactly, you should go about incorporating it into your own design process. Here are a few techniques you can use:

Figure Out Who Your Visitors Are

Knowing who your visitors are is a hugely important first step in designing a site that will appeal to them. If your visitors are tech-savvy Internet veterans they’re going to have a different set of priorities than someone who only goes online to look at photos of their grand-kids. Figure out who your target user is and then figure out which emotional triggers will work for them.

Interview Your Users

If you’re not sure what your users or visitors want, try interviewing some of them. Find current or former customers and see if they’d be willing to answer a few questions about your site. Then create meaningful questions based on your own site’s specific goals. Most importantly, act on the advice they give you. Too often, companies do interviews or surveys but never make changes based on what they’re told.

Create a Sitemap for Your Site

You need to create a map of every page of your site so that you can ensure each page only has one focus. Make a list of everything that needs to be on your site, first, and then map out which page each item should go on (ideally, it should be one page per item unless things are very, very closely related).

Assemble Your Branding Elements

Make a list or create a file of the common elements used to represent your brand. Most likely, this would include a logo, a color scheme, and possibly a particular typeface. Then figure out where to incorporate these into your site design.

Do A/B Testing

Even if you do it on a limited basis, it’s important to figure out which site elements work best. If you’re unsure of what your visitors would be more comfortable with on a certain page, test it with two versions to see which one gets better results.

Design psychology is something every designer should strive to learn more about and to incorporate into their workflow. It can be the single biggest factor in how effective your designs are, and how happy your clients are as a result. It doesn’t take much time and isn’t particularly difficult, so there’s really no excuse not to take at least some of these principles and put them in practice.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Web Design Industry Analysis – Professionals vs. Amateurs [Infographic]

The web design industry in the US is worth $20 billion and is made up of professionals and amateurs. Designers and developers (the professionals), and amateur enthusiasts dab their toes into creating close to 16 million new websites every month.

This cool infographic by Webydo breaks down the web design industry in terms of what makes designers tick, the flaws of the industry, success rates of amateurs, and the industry overview. You’ll also get an inside look of what makes designers happy or not, and which web solutions takes the cake when it comes to web design market share.

Landing Page Basics – What Are They And How To Use Them

Running a website for your business is definitely not an easy task, as you probably know by now. So if you’re wondering why there isn’t much lead conversion going on, there might just be a problem with your landing page.

Many website owners take their landing pages for granted, without truly realizing the benefits of having a quality one. Today, I will show you some landing page basics and how you can use them to your business advantage.

What is a Landing Page?

To make it short, a landing page is where your visitor lands from a link they click. For instance, you are inviting people to go to your website and subscribe to your newsletter, in return, you give them a free eBook. The landing page is where you lead them to and where you get their information.

The fact is that using a landing page is the best method to get a lead, as long as you build the page the right way.

One important thing you should know, however, is that first-time visitors are, almost often, not ready to buy from you. So if you don’t have a quality landing page, they’ll end up leaving immediately.

Your landing page should include call-to-action buttons, where you invite your visitors to take some form of action that’s valuable to you. The most common thing you can do is ask for the visitor’s contact data so you can reach out to them later on.

The Makings of a Quality Landing Page

On a landing page, there are various elements to consider. All these elements should work in harmony to achieve your goal, which is to convert leads. Each element should attract visitors and support the other elements as well. And one of the most important elements of your landing page is quality copy.

Now, the copy you’ll make will depend on what call-to-action you want your visitor to act upon. Here is a guide to help you create strong copy for your landing page based on the call-to-action.

Express Your Unique Selling Proposition – Put headlines and sub-headlines to clearly express what your unique selling proposition is. Make the structure of your content correct. In other words, what makes your product unique? Not letting them know basically means you’re saying goodbye to conversions.

Use Visuals – People absorb information differently, but one thing is for sure, your visitors will appreciate a good mix of text and visuals. Adding a short video can also help in strengthening your landing page.

The Benefits – You have to tell your visitor point blank the benefits of your product. What value does it offer? This is the reason why they’ll buy from you and even share your product with others.

Explain the Features – Aside from telling them what’s unique and what value your product has to offer, tell them clearly about the features too.

Clear Call-to-Action – I have mentioned this over and over again throughout the post and that’s because it is so important to have a clear call-to-action in your landing page. After telling the visitor the benefits, value and features, it’s time to ask them to take action. Of course, you’d want them to make a purchase, but if they don’t, at least get them to fill up a form where you can get their information.

Additional Elements to Make Your Copy More Effective

Show your visitors that your product has been recommended by other people. This is called social proof and it is an effective copywriting method that will get you more leads. With more people recommending your product and testifying to its value, you’re showing visitors that you already have happy customers on board.

Including your guarantees can help too. People feel more confident in buying when they see something like “30-day money back guarantee.” Not only does this show that you care for your customers, this also shows your confidence in your product.

Moreover, don’t forget to include your credentials. This is how you establish trust with your visitors. Post any awards, reviews, badges, seals and logos that will help fortify the trust between your customer and your business. - WebDog

Sunday, August 11, 2013

How To Download a Copy of Your Facebook Profile Data

Downloading your Facebook profile data is easy. You can download Facebook archive data and your full information profile along with your Facebook photos, videos, albums, posts and private messages and save them on your local hard drive on your computer. Since the beginning Facebook has saved all of your social activity and FB will allow you to save and download a copy of your Facebook activity anytime for free.

To Download Facebook Profile Data Archives:

After logging in to your Facebook account you can download your information from the “Account Settings” page.
  1. Click at the top right of any Facebook page and select “Account Settings”
  2. Click “General” in the left-hand column
  3. Click on “Download a copy of your Facebook data”

After you click that link, you can start to download your personal Facebook Archives.

Once the button is clicked Facebook will notify you of your download and will take time as Facebook gathers all of your photos, wall post messages, videos and more for download to your computer.

The time it takes for Facebook to gather and collect all the information from your profile data will depend on how much information you have. Please be patient and note that very big profiles and large Facebook photo albums will take a long time to download to your computer. Normally Facebook will send an email to you when your archive is ready for download and will include a link on where to download everything.

The large file that you will be able to download will contain everything in your FB profile including your photos and videos, your posts, chat conversations and also messages sent. You will also have a copy of your Facebook Friends email address and names. This download will not include your friends photos and their personal info and will not download any comments you made on walls of friends.

If you are looking to download detailed account information like login and cookies then you need to “Download Facebook Expanded Archives”. When you download this make sure to keep the files safe as it will contain your private data and information about all your posts, comments and more.

It is a good idea to always keep a recent backup of your Facebook timeline just to have on your computer to be on the safe side.

16 Tips for a Better Website
Want a better website and don’t know where to start? Or, do you think your website changes are out of your control?

Many website owners think a better website means a complete overhaul – a brand new website. In some cases that may be true, but in my experience a couple tweaks can make the difference between bland and beautiful.

There are hundreds of things you could be doing. But, I want to take you beyond just spell-checking your site for errors.

Here are 16 ideas you can put into action right now:

1. Condense your menu

Do you have twelve items under one heading on your navigation bar? If so, you might want to look at tidying up. A cleaner navigation makes things easier to find. When things are easier to find, it creates a better experience for your site’s visitors. Plus, they’ll be less likely to hit the back button because they won’t be frustrated trying to find what they need.

 2. Have a call to action on every page

Every page on your website should be making your visitor act on something. Maybe it’s to get them to purchase your ebook, view your credentials, or watch a demo video. Whatever it is, make it known to the user. Remember, they don’t want to think when they’re browsing your site. Whether it’s a button or a hyperlink, but something on every page that leads them to the action you ultimately want them to take.

3. Put your phone number on your homepage

Every website should have their phone number. Seems obvious, right? But, many don’t. It’s often buried on a contact page or not on the site at all. Big mistake! Many visitors head to your website just to find your phone number, so make it prominent on your homepage. The top right corner is usually best – or, I’ve also seen it down in the footer. Regardless, put it up there!

4. Add business hours

Similar to the phone number above, when is your business open? Can I call you at 6am? What if I’m bringing my parents to your restaurant and it’s 10pm – will we be able to eat? These questions are inside the head of your customers more than you think. Making your hours known solves this, so put them up for all to see.

5. Add an about us page

Who are you? Do you work with a big team? When a business person – or consumer – selects a company to do business with, they often like to know who they’ll be working with. Add pictures of your team with real bios. Sure, professional experience is awesome, but list your hobbies, family life, and things you like to do for fun. Bottom line: show you’re a real human being.

6. Use big, bold images

This seems to be a pretty big trend in web design, but it’s because images speak louder than words. Capture your visitors with beautiful imagery. Take pictures of your team in action, shots of the local area, or recent projects you’ve worked on.

7. Add a directions widget

For those without a GPS, directions are convenient for just about anybody. Google has a free map widget you can add to your site. Just enter your address and you’ve got directions right to your front door. It shows prospective customers you care about the whole experience.

8. Make your site mobile-friendly

Mobile is huge right now. With over 50% of Americans owning a smartphone, your new customers are likely to come from mobile browsing. But, it’s tough to navigate a site not optimized for a tiny screen. There are plenty of inexpensive tools to create a mobile website from your current site. Explore those or get a designer to make your site mobile-friendly.

9. Match your company branding

Did you just update your logo or change your company colors? Make sure your brick and mortar experience matches your online experience. It helps to create brand awareness so customers recognize your company when they’re on the road or describing it to colleagues.

10. Cut the distractions (ie. music and splash pages)

Do you have Frank Sinatra playing on your site, or a splash page that blocks people from getting to what they need? Remove it all. Why? Not only is it annoying for many visitors, but it distracts them from doing what you want them to do.

11. Get social with your customers

Haven’t hopped on social media yet? These days, it seems like the entire world is on social media in some way. We’re social people who like to interact with friends, family members, and even strangers. Plus, we listen to their recommendations. You want in on this community building. Get started with a Facebook page or Twitter account and focus on mastering one of them. Then move to the next network.

12. Add industry resources

Want to establish yourself as the company to go to in the industry? Then add some resources to your website. This could be reports, surveys, white papers, or helpful links. This material demonstrates to prospective customers you know your stuff. So, get writing!

13. Put your customers to work – add testimonials

Your current customers are a huge asset to your company because they can provide real-world case studies – and testimonials – as to how your company has helped them save time, save money, etc. Reach out to your best customers and ask for a testimonial. Here’s a tip: have it pre-written, so all your customer has to do is approve it.

14. Figure out your site’s main goal

Why do you have a website? What do you want your site to do? After you figure out these two questions, make sure your website accomplishes the goal: add or delete pages, restructure your site, make a new landing page, etc. Make your goal a top priority. And let your team know what that goal is so they can help out too.

15. Start from scratch

While this isn’t recommended because it takes a lot of time, money, and resources, it may be worth it. If you’ve got an old website, starting over with brand-new technology would be smart, rather than trying to patch what you already have. Start with a pencil sketch of what you want and assemble the best team to make it happen.

16. Hire a professional

This leads me to hiring a professional. If you’ve kept your web work in-house, it may be worth looking at bringing in the big guns. They’ll not only move the project forward, but they’ll bring their own experience and expertise to the project.

Again, there are more than 16 tips to a better website, but this should be a good start for you. Pick a couple and make the changes to your site – or have a developer/designer do it for you.

Best of luck taking your website to the next level!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Automatically Logging Into Windows 8

Here is a quick registry tweak to allow your PC to automatically login to Windows 8 without needing to stop and enter your login credentials. 
  1. Open a Notepad Editor in Windows 8

  1. Type this into the notepad file:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]

  1. Change Password to your password and DefaultUsername to your username

  1. Save the file with the extension .reg and select All files from dropdown

  1. Double-click on it to add the registry entry
Now when booting windows, it will automatically log you in.

Please Note: Before performing these tweaks, we recommend backing up your systems registry. To back up the Registry the easy way, simply open Control Panel, click System, and then click System protection on the left sidebar. Click the big Create button to have Windows walk you through the straightforward process of creating a System Restore Point — it's as easy as that.

WebDog Hosting

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When to Reconsider a Site Redesign: 5 Useful Tips

Are you thinking about getting your website redesigned? Here are five tips that may help you to figure out whether or not it’s time for a digital facelift.

1: How Long Has it Been?

One of the things that can really make your site wear on visitors is if it never changes. Sometimes, your design actually might be quite good and completely serviceable but it’s up for a very long time you can be sure that people will get tired of it.

If your site relies on having an image of being technically savvy, socially savvy or very much connected into the latest trends, redesigning your site might be a good idea. If you’re trying to build a site that features the latest viral videos, for example, you’re probably not doing yourself any good if it looks like it was designed before Internet connections were fast enough to even accommodate streaming video.

2: Old Graphics

Just as computer processors keep increasing in power at a rather steady rate, the graphics you see on the Internet keep looking better year after year. Graphics that are even five years old may not look very good compared to graphics that were designed six months ago. You may not need a complete website redesign, but take a look at your company logos, the images of your pictures and so forth. If they’re starting to look a little bit dated or, if upon switching to a better monitor or video card you notice that they don’t seem very good, you might want to talk to a website designer about having your site revamped.

3: Lots of New Content

Remember that there is a lot more to a good website than a pretty face. If you have a lot of new content that you plan to add to your website or that you have already added, you may have outgrown your navigation structure. Talk to a professional designer about whether or not it might be useful for you to redesign your navigation menus. Doing so can make the site much easier to use.

4: New Multimedia Capabilities

The complexity of the multimedia content you can include on a website without bloating it so much that it becomes unusable has increased tremendously over the years. Adding video to a website is really not a huge undertaking for a professional web developer and they can usually add it to your website in a way that will not slow down people’s browsers or Internet connections appreciably. If you’re not taking advantage of the multimedia capabilities of today’s Internet, it might be time to redesign your site.

5: Broken Features

If your website has any features, links or other elements that don’t function as they should, it absolutely needs to be redesigned right away. Websites that have broken features and links on them are hallmarks of amateur operations. It’s not that the company that originally designed your website is an amateur, it simply that users come to these sites and come away with the impression that the people behind them must not be very technically savvy or that they simply don’t pay much attention to their website.

These are all good reasons to consider updating your site, but there is another very good reason why you should go ahead and do this, if it happens to apply. If you simply feel like it’s time to do something different with your website, you very well may be right.

Sometimes, a redesign can help your business to evolve by presenting a new public face and by giving you something of an opportunity to redefine your business. If you think it’s time, it probably is.

Written by: Matt Dandurand