Sometimes I work on Government funded projects and sometimes the client is much smaller. This is about a much smaller client. One of my longest standing and most regular customers is closely associated with the Abergavenny Kickboxing club. Abergavenny Kickboxing is doing well – its members are winning National Level competitions. As a result the club felt that it needed its own website. They had a small budget for graphic and web design but weren’t sure how to get started.
They asked my for help and we together we came up with a plan. It broke down into these steps
- Based on an existing logo we’d create a new logo and top banner from the club
- Existing flyers would be repurposed as part of the sites graphic design and placed in a rotating banner.
- We’d use an open source CMS as the page foundation – one that club members had little experience with.
- We’d take an existing open source theme and make a few changes that would make it more suitable for use on the clubs web site.
- Club members would edit the web pages.
The result would be something that matched the club needs, be quick to develop and stay in a tight budget.
In effect what we’d done is make use of one modern computings most wondrous things. Open source software – something that cannot be sold but which can be legally modified. It creates nothing less than a vast reserve of opportunity from which growth and progression can happen. In this case it’s helping a successful club grow by allowing the construction of a low cost web.
Its also true for small business. You do not need to design everything from scratch. You can save money and time by adapting what exists to suit yourself. The end result can be effective and offer a useful experience to your users / customers.
Keystrokes Training have just received a web site theme design update. The new look is designed to be crisp, clear and easy to read on both a PC and a mobile device. All existing page content has been kept the same – one of the advantages of a theme change is that changes to existing content are minimised and all existing page links are maintained.
Part of the new design was to update the navigation. There is a plan to grow the Key Strokes web site – coming soon there will be a live list of planned courses with venue information. In light of this site menus were modified to give a better experience. This new planned courses system is not yet operational, but I will announce it here as soon as it is.
The third and final design consideration was Petals Training. Keystrokes Training is a member of the Petals Training association of trainers and it was important that the new design for the Keystrokes web site reflected the look and feel of Petals Training as part of a branding exercise.
I wish all the best to Keystrokes Training. This is definitely a site to keep an eye on as its owner is determined to do all he can to make sure the standards of IT and Train the Trainer courses in South Wales are kept to a high standard.
I’ve just performed a web site update for Penarth Funeral Directors designed to help focus the eye on key areas of the web site. The update itself was to simply frame the left and right hand sides of the web site with pictures of lilies. The net effect of this is to create something that is pleasing to the eye and which due to the curving and positions of the flowers means that they neatly help focus the eye on they key content of each page.
The idea here is simple. Take basic rules of image and page composition and use them to create something that is restful , peaceful and helps users quickly find what they are looking for.
Findingviews has been around for quite some time and exists as a place to find aggregated information and original thoughts / works about digital artwork. Although not exclusively as you see in the image above it also branches out into T Shirt Design.
However the old design was looking a bit jaded and needed a refresh. There was also a desire to make it more mobile friendly without creating a mobile specific web site. That mean working in a way that would scale easily over a variety of screen sizes. The final part of the spec was to enable simple integration to an arts sales site at Red Bubble. Click here if you would like to see that site.
As a result a new look for Findingviews was created that worked with the full width of the browser but which would adapt to a variable width of screen. Attention was paid to the menu – to make sure that the options were large enough to easily tap with a finger, whilst not being so large as to dominate the screen. Everything else about the site was simplified. Clutter was removed in order to make usage and access easier.
The resulting web site is easy to use and promotes a clear display of information.
Google are introducing a change to their ranking algorithm that penalises sites with an excessive number of adverts on a page. In particular sites where there is primarily advertising with little or no content in the above the fold area (area before you have to scroll to see the rest of the page). The logic being that pages which quickly deliver their content offer a better experience for the reader and are therefore more useful.
This will not affect the majority of site owners, only those with very large numbers of adverts high on the page.
What it does do is illustrate the point that the future of the Internet is going to be focussed on those companies who value and treat their customers well. Those who put monetisation before the client will suffer under this new regime.
There is no doubt going to be some debate on the Internet regarding reading experience over advertising, but I think it can be condensed down to two points. Which do you prefer:
- A company that puts your needs first
- A company that puts its profits first
Whilst all companies exist to make profit. Almost all consumers like to be made to feel important. When next looking at your web advertising strategy it is going to be important to consider what kind of company you look like. In business who you appear to be can make all the difference
I’m writing this at the end of the first working week of 2012, and I can’t help but wonder what the year will bring.
So lets try some predictions for the year and see how they work out.
In Social Networking it strikes me that Facebook will have its usual collection of ups and downs and that Google+ will get stronger. In fact given that Google+ has had phenomenal growth I suspect that it will become increasingly important. I don’t think it will grow at the expense of Facebook. It think it will simply become another part of the Social Networking map.
And that brings me onto my second thought.
I think this is the year of choice. I think we will start seeing people getting used to using one or more services and also one of more operating systems – especally if tablets continue to grow. The indications are that we are seeing the end of the idea that to every problem there is but one solution and we will see people choosing solutions that suit themselves. It’s going to happen for two reasons. First of all there is more choice in the market than ever before and secondly more mainstream users are looking at options and thinking about what they really want.
Finally even though we are getting more choice I think that in design terms we will see more simplification. More and more people will look away from the implied cleverness of showing lots, and look to the design genius of doing more with less. Clarity in design is going to be the big thing. Clean lines and obvious are going to increasingly dominate design. I don’t of it in terms of being spartan, its just something that has to happen in order to let us easily make more sense of an increasingly complex world.
So that’s 3 predictions. I think that’s enough for now.
At the end of last week I was hosting a discussion at one of my web design classes. We were looking at well known web sites and discussing whether we thought they were well designed from a usability point of view. When we hit the Link to the BBC Homepage there was a bit of debate.
At the start of December the BBC launched new home page that is split into 2 halves. The top half is a side scrolling summary of the days news events and beneath is a simple explorer menu and information about the BBCs current content. Both sides are sleek. However my class thought that this new format did not work. The feeling was that whilst the lower half of the page is direct and simple. Exactly what most people would need to navigate the BBC Web Site. Whilst to them the upper half was desperately trying to look cool. Trying to look cool does not go down well with a good many people.
In fact to my class thought the site looked schizophrenic.
One perfect half battling an insane and busy sibling.
So here is the point – the current design trend for the Internet is to create simplicity, but what we cannot do is mix simplicity with too much interaction and too many options. Doing so creates debate in the users mind.
Most people seem to prefer easy to follow complex or very clean, clear and simple. That is something that you have to decided right at the start of building a web site and do not mix things up. Know what you are and be it. Your clients will thank you for it.
I’ve been working with Penarth Funeral Directors to design their first web site. It soon became clear from working on the project that what we needed to do was make the site simple, very clear and easy to navigate.
We made that assumption that it would be used by people looking for a funeral director, and that under such circustances what was needed was a professional human touch.
That meant we need to stay away from offering too many options, and that social networking integration was not really suitable.
The whole point of this site is to simply put the recently bereaved into a position whereby they could talk to a professional and highly experienced funeral director.
The brief from Kevin was very straight forward. He had already worked out a proof design on his Mac that showed exactly what he wanted. My job was to take that design and make it work with a content management system so that he could later make his own updates and add news of upcoming events and classes.
The fight itself has ended up simple to look at, easy to read and includes plenty of videos (with I’m sure more coming) of Kevs work.