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: Web Design

Introducing ADD Filtration – Specialists in Solder Fume Extraction

We have just set another new e-commerce online store live today ADD Filtration – Specialists in Solder Fume Extraction. The site implements a shopping cart with integrated PayPal Business payments.

Featuring ADD Filtration’s BEN-120 Solder Fume Extractor and replacement filters. The site also features information on various panel filters, bag filters and HEPA filters that can be made to customer’s requirements.

Why not take a look at www.addfiltration.co.uk.

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Portfolio Update – Introducing Inter Gulf Travel

We have just updated our portfolio section with two new projects, ARK Architectural Concepts and also Inter Gulf Travel, who are a Egyptian destination management company, with offices round the world. Why not have a look at the sites and see how ADD create intuitive web design.

We produce design and sites that work across all browsers and platforms and confirm to all the latest W3C standards and validation criteria.

If you have any questions about web site design or our work please get in contact with us and we are happy to help.

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What do I need to get my web site made?

We often get questions from prospective clients about where to start with their site, so I thought I would take some time to address them as a resource for our visitors.

The first question we usually get asked is:

What do I need to give you to get my web site made?

We really need to have some idea of the following to give a decent accurate quote:

  • An idea of the amount of pages you want.
  • Some examples of sites you envisage to be similar or as close to what you like.
  • If you are going to need any e-commerce solution or if it is a brochure site.
  • If you have a logo or any graphics already created.

It’s beneficial for us to know what kind of pages and content you want to have, maybe draw up a list such as this for example:

Home
About Us
Services
Contact

This helps us work out a rough scale of a website and what might be involved. We also like to see other sites you like so we can work out the complexity of your design. All these factors go into the quote we give you. The more precise you can be the better the quote and it saves additional costs later or during development.

What do I need before you start designing?

You need to think of a domain name and you will need web hosting, the hosting is just server space where the actual web page files go and the domain is your www.mywebsite.com that points to that space on the internet. The cost is relatively small up to about £50 per year.

We also require your content, the sooner the better really as it allows us to start the draft design knowing what kind of content you  are including in your site. The more content we have to format at an early stage the better.

Its a good idea to supply text page by page, so why not make a word document and separate your content out allowing us to easily follow your copy and how you would like it to work.

If you have any questions about getting started with your website just give us a call on 01425 340508 and we will be happy to help you make those first steps.

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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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ADD Finishes ARK Architectural Concepts Ltd Website

ARK-Ltd.com approached us to create their brand new brochure website. They wanted a fresh modern looking site with clearly laid out information and a portfolio section to show off their impressive work.

Looking at brand colours with Anant and studying the competition we developed a draft and logo to suit the style and vision of ARK, also to give them the competitive edge in terms of validated code and modern design techniques.

The bold colours and layout of the ARK site really stand out and with PDF downloads and image lightboxes giving the site a slick feel.

We also produced business cards, letterheads and compliment slips for ARK giving them a new branding package to go with their new launch.

You can visit the ARK website here.

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7 Important Questions to ask Your New Web Designer

Question mark

It’s always a bit nerve wracking having a new website designed, and it can be difficult to know what to expect. So here are 7 questions you should be asking your web designer before they start.

1) Can you show me examples?

Your new web designer doesn’t have to have worked in your industry before, but it is helpful to know that if you’re a retail company, he or she has some retail design experience, and if you’re a B2B company, then he or she has experience in designing for this area.

Retail and corporate are two different areas, and when you add in magazine style websites, brochure style websites, blogging sites and more, you need to know that your designer has designed the kind of site you want in the past, no matter what industry you’re in.

2) Can I contact some of your past clients?

Testimonials on a website are great, but they only tell half a story – you want to know whether the designer was easy to work with, was the project finished on time, were there any hiccups (there usually are) and if so what were they, among other things. Don’t just look at a pretty new website and presume you’re speaking to the designer of your dreams, ask others about their experience before you sign on the dotted line.

3) Is my deadline unrealistic?

There will always be designers out there who will say yes to the most ridiculous deadline just to get the job. It always ends in bad feeling on either side.

Ask your web designer to help you to come up with a realistic deadline, and to be honest with you if what you’re asking for just isn’t going to happen.

4) Will I be able to update my site myself?

In this day and age, most designers will give you a site that you can update easily in the future, from adding new pages to updating content on the fly through a web browser. But it doesn’t hurt to ask – are they going to provide you with a CMS (content management system) so that you can change things on the site without ruining the look and feel, or are you going to have to go back to them afterwards every time you want something changed?

5) Will my site be SEO friendly?

Or more importantly; “Will I be able to change the title and meta tags of each and every page individually?”. This is vitally important when it comes to SEO, but many CMS do not offer this option, making it difficult to optimise the site in the future. In some cases this option does not come as standard and you will find yourself having to pay extra for it to be installed; better to know up front and make an informed decision than find out months down the line when you have no Google listings.

6) What will you do to maintain the Google listings I have already?

Often forgotten in a new website design, there are many things your designer can do to maintain the listings you already have, from 302 redirects, to keeping page names the same, and importantly copying over any meta info. Don’t lose your listings because you haven’t told your designer this is important.

7) What extras will I have to pay for?

Scope creep, domain name, hosting, plugins, modules and more could all add to the cost of your new website. Ask in advance if everything is covered, or will there be more costs in future? Don’t let yourself get a nasty surprise invoice once the project is finished.

You’ll obviously have your own questions you want to ask, but these are a few important ones, and ones that Milton Keynes web designers ADD Creative are happy to answer!

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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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Web Design in Milton Keynes

That’s our chosen power keyword, what’s yours?

Milton Keynes Web Design, is generally what we perceive to be our strongest keyword, however although we are based in Milton Keynes, many of our clients come from surrounding areas. This seems to stem from our targeting of other towns and areas, anywhere where we can provide the highest quality service with our clients, that usually involves Paul going to meetings to work out the clients exact requirements.

It is sometimes difficult to work out exactly what people search for when looking for our services. Analytics and other reports give us the data, but what’s going through the mind of the actual human who’s performing the search? What are their expectations when they are given the long list of web design companies?

Choose wisely!

Google always displays the Title tags (the text at the top of your browser window) first and then follows a description which should, if the site has been coded and optimized correctly, display  a brief description of what the user should find on that page.

At ADD Creative we always do some research and come up with suitable Title tags and Description for each page for all our clients, as when these are crawled by the Google search engine spiders it’s important to get it right first time. Mainly because the time it takes for Google to update can vary between a day and sometimes more than a month.

What should i be putting in my title tags?

Your core keywords are important so be sure to include them in your title tags, for example, make sure you include those first and generally only once is needed. So for example our title tags for ADD Creative’s homepage is:

Web Design Milton Keynes, Bedford and Northampton – ADD Creative

We tend to target specific locations so you can see we have included city names and our core keywords ‘web’ and ‘design’. If you then look through our pages you will see how we make sure that we are specific about who we are, what we do, and also, where we do it. These are the things a potential customer wants to know, and also the content is relevant to what people have typed in to Google search.

What are your golden keywords?

Why not check your content to see if there is a match between your title, headings and the content. And try searching and picking out your strongest keywords.

Getting your site indexed on Google quickly

Over time at some point Google should find your site in a variety of ways:

1) Submission, you literally give Google your site to index in the search engine. http://www.google.co.uk/addurl/

2) Have your site crawled by Google’s spiders automatically. Google is indexing all the time, and it sends ‘spiders’ going through links and then compiling its listings. If you add your website to a directory the link itself will then guide Google towards your site. This is generally a good way of appearing in the listings quicker than just submitting your site to Google.

The time it takes for indexing varies, but the more inbound links you have the better and the quicker it should be for Google to find you and start listing you. Where you appear for your keywords all depends on how your site is optimized and written.

If you got questions about how you can improve your site, just give us a call on 01425 340508.

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Going Local or Going Overseas for your web design?

In a market that is extremely competitive, more and more people are going for budget websites done by coders in eastern Europe and Asia. They can provide a service at a fraction of  a cost it would be for a local web developer.

So why choose a local company such as us?

The benefits of going with a local web design company in the UK in my opinion outweigh against getting it done cheap abroad.

When it comes to coding and the technical side, someone in India or China may have the same technical knowledge but they are unlikely to have the local knowledge and experience of UK markets and practices over here.

Time Zones and other restrictions

Dealing with a local company allows you to have better contact, you will be in the same time zone and be able to pick up the phone knowing your web designers will be there waiting to pick it up and hopefully they are not likely to be asleep. If your designer across the globe is not fluent in English, getting your point across could be a small problem. Where a lower hourly rate might seem to be of benefit, if more hours are spent getting it right then it might not be as cost effective as you first thought.

Can it really beat face to face?

With some clients we have no need to meet, we can do a large proportion of design and development work over the phone and email. Thanks to the speed of modern communication. However at ADD Creative we like to meet our clients if we can, it helps build a business relationship and sometimes communication can be better and more rewarding face to face. Interaction like that you cannot get from a budget web designer halfway across the globe.

Is it worth paying more for a local designer in the long run?

We certainly think so! Your web site is the portal to your customers, it has to be as good as it possibly can be. Shoddy work through miscommunication and cutting corners will tell your give your customers the same impression of your business. Yes our design services are a premium in comparison to other designers, but we are totally committed to our clients and feel we give the best service possible when it comes to web design.

Nobody does it better…. we hope!

We pride ourselves on one to one meetings discussions and ideas. We like to involve the client as much as they like from the design right through till the site goes live. We maintain good customer contact. We don’t add huge charges and add ons at the end of the project, we make sure we get it all first time. And if we don’t get things right first time. We try again till your project shines above the rest.

Read our testimonials page for a bit of info on what our clients say.

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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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Tel. 01425 340508
info@add-creative.co.uk
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