The Milton Keynes Web Design Blog

A mish mash of ideas, suggestions and thoughts from ADD Creative Web Designers in Milton Keynes

Call us on 01425 340508 or E-mail info@add-creative.co.uk

Category: Graphic Design

Introducing CJ Aerosols – New e-commerce store

CJ Aerosols wanted to sell Custom Filled Aerosol Spray Paint Cans online. Using OpenCart as a base we set up a online store for them to sell RAL, BS 4800, BS 381C, NCS and PANTONE colour ranges with a custom aerosol paint colour selector to make selecting the right colour as simple as possible for their customers.

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Useful resources for web design customers

Customers often ask if we have an image library or where they can get ideas for text type and logo ideas to give to us. We create logos from scratch but sometimes a client wants a certain direction but does not know how to describe it or give direction on their idea.

We generally give our clients a list of various sites and resources that might be useful to them when it comes to choosing typefaces for print, web and also colour ideas and logo ideas.

Different Types of Logo

Sites like Brands of the world give inspiration and direction, it is always good to look at what other people have done and what else is out there. This is not a copying exercise, it’s a critique. You can look and study other logos and styles and ultimately pick and choose some great elements when creating your own idea, you are able to see what does not work, what might work and then give yourself a clearer picture of what type and kind of logo you want.

A great logo inspiration site is Logo Pond which features a vast array of different logo styles and treatments, it’s always good to have a look there and see if anything really stands out for you as inspiration.

Resources : Logo Pond Brands of the world

Free Image Libraries

A huge proportion of our customers came to us without having any images or without the budget to shoot specific images for their web site. Image libraries are really the only solution for good quality images and there are generally two types, completely free for commercial use (in most cases, but check the agreements) at the Stock Image Exchange and then pay as you go image libraries such as istockphoto. You can browse the libraries there to look for some professionally shot images, the quality on iStockphoto can be very impressive, whereas SXC generally are more amateur but even so you can find free high quality photographs which might do the job.

Our advice is to have a budget for photography, it can make a good site look great, just with some well chosen images which will compliment the design and the impression your company is trying to portray.

Resources : Stock Image Exchange istockphoto

Colour Palette and Colour Ideas

Choosing colours can be tricky, and after all, colour preference and tone is subjective, much like most design, but there are of course natural matches and blends of colour which just work really well. It is best to stick to what the wider public like and what suits your brand and your company. We use a few resources here for colour ideas and matches, from inspiration to a decisive colour picker which we can ask the client to match their exact colour they want, this allows them to be precise in regards to what shade or tone of colour they want. This has proved very useful over time and really lets the customer be a integral part of the design process.

Resources : Colour Lovers Colour Picker

In Conclusion

Inspiration is everywhere, but there is always a case to be made from seeing what your competitors do and making sure you do it better. Resources are there to be used for ideas, drafts and concepts and they trigger creativity to help us create your logo, match your colour styles and give you the brand you need. All our logos are unique and bespoke as we also take inspiration from the you and how you want to present yourself, in fact sometimes there is no need to use resources if the direction is clear and well thought out.

Make notes, scribble, sketch and annotate….. creativity is free.

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Content vs Design – Which is more important?

Designers may produce outstanding arty concepts for web but how that translates to the end user is always a grey area. One of the main problems with design is that of course like pretty much everything else in the world, it is subjective. A client can be turned off from a site if for example they detest the colour purple. It can be as simple as that. You will never win over everyone but you can do you best to at least please the majority.

Designing sites to tick all the boxes is becoming a far more difficult process, mainly because some people like their sites to be full of interesting images, some prefer video heavy sites, and there are users who even prefer the interactivity of flash. The same goes for the client too, it’s always important to find their likes and dislikes when taking on a job.

Design has its place, it is the instant impact, it is the handshake between you and your customers when they visit your site, a firm strong confident handshake is said to give a good impression, try to make your web site give a similar confident identifiable impression too, the design will effectively take the user on a journey across the page and then the across the site.

Some simple and basic ideas to apply for when producing a effective design can be very basic;

  • Contrasting yet complimentary colour combinations
  • Space around important elements such as logos and headings
  • Bright, clear and relevant images
  • Text on white or light if possible, stick with the conventions
  • Structured layout with sections and boxes of information

However sometimes different or adventurous can be good, breaking conventions can win over your visitors, something different targeted at your audience might make or break the instant visual success of your web site. I always recommend going with instincts for your target audience, if your web site is for a rock band, maybe make it edgy, if it is for a recruitment company make it more corporate and commercial. Play in to people’s expectations, it then lets you work on the real solid gold of a web site, its content.

Content is king, even as a designer I can fully admit that, as the design draws you in initially, the content will do the convincing. Well written, informative detail about products and services will always go further than the look of the web site, after all, the customers are buying your service or product and not the web site itself.

Getting the balance right

The design leads the content and the content will also lead the design, the balance can be sometimes difficult to achieve, but in reality if your web site is clean, clear and concise in all aspects it should be at a standard good enough to impress and be an asset to your business. A busy and possibly risky layout will confuse and has more chance of turning customers away.

When we create web sites we like to make it all ‘Clean Clear and Concise’, it’s a formula we have developed and seen great growth and reviews of the sites we create are often very positive. If there is need to venture off the path, great care is taken in how the design will affect the content, and vice versa. Design should still not be taken lightly, but content will always be king!

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Are all web sites different?

Since ADD Creative’s inception, we have learnt an awful lot about the subtle changes in client requirements. It seems that over the years, the industry changed shape and people have more choice and demand when it comes to web design. That might be why bespoke web site design is the best way forward.

Each business is different in many ways. Sometimes you have two companies in the same industry but they want to target two different sets of clients. Occasionally even the company’s approach to their clients differs and this makes our job just that little bit harder when it comes to getting the web site right.

We do not create two web sites that are the same, we do not believe in templates and cutting corners. Research shows that tailor made sites produce much better results in the short and long term, mainly because the web site represents the company in extra depth and in a finely tuned way.

Some companies require an online store, others just want to take orders over the phone, some do not need an online store, but just a simple online presence, possibilities and avenues with business web sites are vast.

When we first started, most of our sites were simple static sites but as time has gone, content management has become very popular and now is a mainstay on most of our sites.

How would a CMS (Content Management System) work for you?

If you feel your site requires content being changed on a regular basis, or if you like to have control on changing your text and images then a CMS is likely to be for you. ADD Creative can modify content for you at a really competitive price, but of course over time it would be more cost effective for you to have a content management system installed.

A CMS will not give you a advanced design tool, you won’t be able to drag and drop elements on your site like you would be able to do in a desktop publishing program such as publisher or word. It will just give you access to text, pictures and database driven content (price lists, menus, galleries). Changing graphical content and layouts will require expert interference from ADD Creative.

I have something really unique I need to display on my web site?

A web site can be a powerful tool these days, there is not much we cannot do in terms of design and functionality. To create custom functions does take longer in development time than normal static web sites, so expect the cost to be higher. We try to keep our prices as competitive as possible especially when it comes to quoting for unique programming code. The more in depth the specification the more accurate we can quote, it could be that your project might be easier then when first briefed.

What should I think about when doing a brief for my web site?

  • Try to think of how many pages you think you will have on the site
  • Do I have images I can use and do I own the rights to these images
  • Will I need anything unique such as a database or anything special
  • Will I need to update my content on a regular basis
  • What kind of colour scheme do I have in mind

The more details we have the better understanding we have of your project, this means we can produce the best possible result for you and your business.

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Looking for that special image

Just lately we have been using www.istockphoto.com as a really good resource for sourcing images for clients. Some people begrudge paying for a photo, but some of the sites we are currently working on really come alive with good imagery.

For web you do not need high resolution images, so iStockphoto can be a affordable resource, 1 credit per image is a good price.

We find that images with people in always seem to work well, it must be because as humans we are curious creatures and relate to faces and people more so than objects. This is why big advertising campaigns always use a face. Even for your brochure web site, a face popping up here and there is not such a bad thing, engaging your visitors is always recommended.

Why not have a look at iStockphoto and see if there are any ‘killer’ images that reflect your business and what you are trying to portray?

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Why Good Design is Important!

It’s a tough world out there!

In the current climate of tough competition, your companies brand has to be at its strongest. I have realised from years in the design industry that when marketing say “brand is everything” they really do mean it.

Of course most small businesses will not have the budget to get their brand out there but on a small scale brand is still important. It helps public perception and when you have a particular style, use certain guidelines, your customers will start to feel at home.

A good brand will work from the bottom up, a customer of yours might be searching for your details through a wad of paper and when they come across your headed paper/previous invoice, you are instantly recognizable. This helps communication, improves relations and eventually leads to sales.

Public perception of brand is more important than ever, in nature we apply ourselves to groups and are judged them, even if we like it or not, and in some respects design serves a purpose to categorize your business. Are you cool? or are you….. not so cool?

Simple little things can transform your business into something with a bit more bite, a bit more leverage when it comes to winning that all important contract.

What’s in a logo?

If your logo contains fonts such as Comic Sans and other cartoony fonts, are some of your new customers going to take you less seriously? You might think it’s crazy but research has shown in the past that font type on company logos does have an impact on how people perceive your company. Take Comic Sans for example, it is a free font usually used for home poster design, as it’s not as conventional as something like Arial it’s often used for fluffy letters and other unprofessional documents. A customer seeing Comic Sans on your website or even worse on your logo might have those connotations, but perhaps they wont, after all everybody is different.

The bottom line is, try to think how your brand is communicating with your customers, is it saying what you want it to say, do you look like a low budget operation?

ADD Creative are experts in branding and brand awareness, we can look at your current brand and give you options to improve and communicate in a far more lucrative way.

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