The Web Developer Blog

A mish mash of ideas, suggestions and thoughts from ADD Creative Web Developers.

Call us on 01425 340508 or E-mail

ADD Creative Re-Brand for 2011!

Things may look a little bit different right? That’s because we are proud to launch our new brand and look for ADD Creative. Our old design served us well, but we thought we needed a refresh. It is good to show new techniques and skills learnt over the last few years and expand our portfolio section.

We hope the bright colourful style and format breathes some life into what could be a gloomy financial outlook of 2011.

The latest news

The news will be updated when we start and finish new clients sites, or if we have any news ourselves such as offers or interesting comments to make. Milton Keynes Web Design is a competitive sector right now, but we are on the front foot leading the way with well designed functional sites, giving good value for money.

We are currently working on a few projects which we will post more details about soon, showing the variety we can work on here at ADD Creative.

Twitter is already running

Why not follow us on Twitter where we will be posting news and tips on keeping your web site fresh, unique and giving ideas on how to boost visitors and give something back.

If you have any questions or have any comments about our new site please get in touch.

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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.

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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Looking for that special image

Just lately we have been using 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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What images can i use on my web site?

Did you know you need to have permission from the copyright owner for any images used on your site or in your design? The days of going on Google image search and using the millions of images from there are long gone. This was common practice in the early part of this decade but recently large firms are putting a stop to unauthorized images.

If I need pictures for my website where do I go?

You have two options, pay for stock photography, for a small fee, sometimes as small as 50p you can have unlimited use of a professionally taken photograph. Of course like with every industry you get what you pay for. The better the quality (not just in terms of technical quality) the more expensive the image will be to buy. However, be careful, read the terms and conditions of your agreement for the image carefully, some specify that images cannot be used in certain ways or be modified from their original state.

Always be careful to check the terms and conditions when you buy your imagery, most online stock photo sites have their terms and conditions specific for each photo. As everyone is different make sure if it’s for your business web site that you can use the image for commercial purposes. It’s aiding you sell your product which is why you need to read the small print.

Of course there are other ways to get the right imagery for your web site, take the pictures yourself. At ADD Creative we have the facilities to take good quality images and using photo manipulation software turn them into vibrant exciting imagery. Professional photographers are needed for exclusive shots that you will need, you will find prices vary, but anything around £600 a day for a good photographer is what to be expected.

Good, well thought out imagery is very important, it can be the difference between a inquiry and a sale, bring some brilliant photography to your site and wow your visitors. Strong brand identity mixed in with clear colourful photography is a winning combination.

If you have any questions about imagery for your site, why not get in touch?

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Will a website get me new customers?

This is one of the common questions we get asked as web designers, to answer it can be quite difficult as every business is different and some business obviously do not need an internet presence. However you would be surprised at what new revenue a website could give you.

As a consumer yourself, you need to be in the mindset of your customers, it’s very rare that customers will just look at one place when choosing where to spend their money, look, functionality are  important because we all know, impressions last.

How does a new website or reworked website make me more money?

Quite simply, we can design sites that engage the customer in intuitive ways that will hopefully lead them to contact you. Style, presentation are key but also how your content is managed, placed and written play big parts. In the current days of the browser wars, sites sometimes display ever so slightly different, in some cases the difference is dramatic, maybe causing the pages not to display as intended, how do you think a customer reacts when they go to your site but it doesn’t show images or boxes correctly, or even text?

We make sure we do the very best to get websites working cross platform in all browsers on PCs and Macs. some designers only worry about the big share browsers. We know that every browser has its quirks and we try to iron out any problems, can you say your website works perfectly on all browsers? You might be surprised. It can be a clincher for getting a customer.

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How Much Should a Web Site Cost?

It is the holy grail of being a web designer, the perfect price plan, what is it? The answer is it does not really exist. You can have a website for as little as £99, although this is a one page information site, it is still bespoke and designed to suit your business it will only do so much.

What goes into a web page?

If you think about all the little boxes, areas, images, backgrounds and textual content, it all amounts to a complex layout which might take someone 30 minutes in paint (although we prefer Photoshop 🙂 ) to create. The magic is slicing, styling and profiling the page in the code.

Curved boxes, lists, placing of text are sometimes not simple three click procedures like it is in flat graphical design. In some respects the web page has dimensions, layers, and interaction. These take time… and time really is the key factor.

Most web design companies who offer the common, Bronze, Silver and Gold packages that you see with set number of pages are usually using templates, with bespoke website design pricing is done based on what the client needs, not done to a strict code and stretching or squeezing content just to fill a page quota.

Although these can serve  a purpose to some extent, is it really how you want to reflect your business? That you settle for templates? It might not show you have invested time and effort into communicating to your brand to your customers.

How much work comes through my website?

Of course it depends if you are selling directly or selling a service, but you would be surprised if you have a good clean working brand driven website, it will generate revenue in time. The web is everywhere these days, you cant really escape it, information is key and if people find your business, like what you do and you give them every reason to use you, you should find things pick up nicely. It’s all about ROI (Return on Investment), think carefully about your budget but don’t tighten it too much or it could backfire.

We generally price on h0w many man hours the project takes, the more complex the greater the price. We do offer workarounds and other ideas to try to keep costs down and simplify your ideas to make things easier.

Please keep reading the BLOGS and checking back for more insight into what goes into this interesting industry and what twists and turns await us.

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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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