A web design firm's perspectives on beautiful website design, content generation, and Search Engine Optimization; including insights on branding and low budget/no budget marketing.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Practical Uses for QR Codes...

Use your Phone's QR Code Scanner to visit this link.
This is an example of what a QR code looks like. It's compiled of a series of black and white pixels to create a unique pattern that a smart phone's QR coder could read.  Most smart phones don't have the ability (yet!) to just snap a photo, first you have to download an app.  I personally like the QRReader for iPhone (it's free!).  

QR Codes, short for "Quick Response" codes are popping up everywhere.  And if you're anything like the rest of marketing world, you're wondering just how you can leverage these little abstract pixelations to reach your consumer.  Remember, QR codes are only a means to an end - meaning, a QR code is not a message, but the way that your prospect, consumer, or client can access the message.  Check out the list below for some practical ways to implement QR codes:

  • V-Cards: Put a QR code on your business card.  People who scan the code will have the ability to download your v-card right into their phone contact list. 
  • Print it: in the newspaper or add it to your print campaign. Make sure your QR code takes your prospect to interesting content such as a contest, or a video tip.
  • Digital Newsletter: You are not limited to print.  QR codes can be scanned in digital media too. 
  • Enhancing an experience: If you are a brick and mortar business, this is a great opportunity to enhance the customer experience.  Assign QR codes to some key products and have it link to more information about that product when scanned - such as online reviews, or exclusive online coupons. 
It's important to remember that if your target is taking out their phone to scan the QR code, they need to find something exciting and relevant.  This experience should give back to them in some way, or allow them exclusive access to content the general online user wouldn't be able to find.

Take care when deciding where to place your QR codes.  Remember if someone is sitting down on a mall bench and scans your QR code they probably have more time to spend on the content, whereas someone shopping in a store wants access to your content quickly and efficiently.  Target your content and QR Code placement accordingly.

Be aware of the device your consumer is using.  Don't send your prospect to a cluttered home page meant for desktop users - they are on a mobile device so make sure you have  mobile ready content set up for your campaign.

Something I'll be doing for White Radish Design in the near future is buying some of these little sticker books and making my own QR Code stickers - who know's when you just might find the perfect place to put one?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Are you mobile ready?

Are you ready for your mobile audience?

Only 21% of all businesses on the web can answer yes to that question.

A mobile optimized website is a necessary component to any successful digital marketing campaign.  With  more than 5.3 billion mobile subscribers (77% of the world population) how can you afford not to have a mobile website? One of the most common misconceptions surrounding mobile websites is that most companies already think they have one:

"I can see it on my iPhone, so isn't it mobile already?"

Seeing your full website on a mobile device is cumbersome for the mobile user.  Some forms don't work properly or are just too small to navigate on a mobile device.  Are you willing to risk missing leads because your form doesn't work on anything other than a traditional desktop computer?

The following are a few points of consideration when getting ready to develop your own mobile site:

  1. Take Advantage of Mobile Functions Today's smartphones are incredible.  Take advantage of the interactivity through touchscreens, sound, and location.  You content should be customized to leverage the different ways of interacting on a mobile device - think about the iPhone's mapping feature, or number-touch to call.
  2. Know What's Relevant Not all of your traditional website content will make sense to feature on your mobile website.  Are you a restaurant? Highlight your menu, phone number, and map to your location - leave out the rest.  Think about what people want the most when they are on the go.  Your mobile site is for finger-tip access to your most relevant content.
  3. Optimize and Build Accordingly The mobile environment is like a throwback to the early day's of the internet.  Keep in mind that the network connections are much slower and that will extend loading times beyond that of desktop browsing.  Your site has to load quickly enough to keep visitors from leaving and never returning.  Graphics should be kept to a minimum, and the size of your site will be much, much smaller to accommodate smaller screens.
Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when designing your site:
  • Avoid Flash - it's largely incompatible with mobile designs.
  • Don't forget the redirect - you should have a redirect code implemented to redirect any and all visitors who are on a mobile device, this URL will be directly connected to your website.
  • Keep branding consistent - This should go without saying, but your target needs to recognize you so keep your branding cues in check. 
  • Test it in every phone browser possible - Different phones render sites differently - you always want to make sure your visitor is seeing a quality website regardless of the device they are using. 
Mobile sites come with many different uses and reasons, make sure you know what you want to achieve.  Here are the four main executions we see in mobile website development:

  1. Mobile Version of Existing Site - Present your content to users in a condensed format that is specifically designed on a platform for mobile browsing.
  2. Landing Pages - Created to leverage an existing marketing campaign.  Redirecting someone to this page which may not even be a part of your traditional website but was developed specifically to reach the mobile visitor.
  3. Dedicated Mobile Site - Completely stand-alone solution.  Typically developed as a brochure-type site dedicated to reaching only the mobile audience - usually have their own designs and marketing strategies to promote as an independent site.
  4. Plug-in based Mobile Site - Several open-source website development platforms have plug-in's developed to format sites for mobile audiences.
Join the Mobile revolution.  Look at your website on your phone. Does it make sense? Does it take awhile to load? Is the content relevant?

© 2011, White Radish Design. All rights reserved. The material presented here is copyright by White Radish Design. Reprinting or reproduction is prohibited without the express written consent of White Radish Design.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The relationship between your business and your designer is key to brand harmony

Do you have a web designer?

If the answer is yes, you will certainly have an opinion about yours.  Most people highly recommend their web designer, or they run away screaming in pain and agony about the experience.  Needless to say, there is hardly anyone out there that has worked with a designer with whom they simply feel ho-hum about.

Choosing a designer is one of the most important things you can do for your business - let me repeat that - one of the most important things you can do for your business!  Hiring a designer means you are entrusting someone, typically a stranger, with your brand - a brand that you are either hoping to develop, or have spent years developing and the right designer can make your brand stand on its own, while the wrong designer can send your business crashing to the ground.

Relationships have chemistry, trust, honesty, integrity and they take work.  Finding the right designer is a lot like navigating online dating sites and going on blind dates that your friends and colleagues set you up with.

Like any relationship, there are a few rules that should apply:

Just say no to blind dates....
Aunt Agnes has set you up in the past with some of the most atrocious excuses for a date imaginable, so when she recommends you work with her best friend's nephew's ex-girlfriend because she is going to school for graphic design, you should probably run away screaming.  The chances that said best friend's nephew's ex-girlfriend is really worth your time and money is slim, and if she is in school it's even less likely that she will have time for your project - look at your source, does Aunt Agnes have a good track record with you? Does the person making this recommendation have any personal experience with the designer? If the answer is no, walk away now. 

Find someone you know, who's designs you LOVE  (think logo, biz card, brochures, pamplets) and ask them about it.  People who love their designers are always willing to give good recommendations and they will be upfront with you if there is something they did or didn't like.  They'll be happy to hear that they hired the right person and that their work made a good impression - and chances are if you decide to work with their designer, you may get a cost break for being 'in' with one of their happiest clients. 

Cheap does not mean good....
McDonald's is a cheap date, not a good date.  Good, Cheap, Fast.  You can have any two, but never all three.  Good design really fast should cost you.  Cheap design really fast probably won't be very good. Cheap design that's really good, probably won't be finished in a very timely manner.  If you are strapped for cash, but love a certain designer - don't be afraid to explain your situation. There are many designers who will work with payment plans if you can at least put down a deposit.

Know that the designer you are working with is making their living providing you with this service - their business is just as important to them as your business is.  Please try to avoid exaggerated expressions in regards to costs - if your design work looks like it was easy, then your designer did a very nice job and they deserve to be paid for it, this is not an easy job.  

Do a little research.....
It's unlikely that you have gone out on a date without doing a little Facebook stalking - you should do the same with any potential designer you work with.  Look at their portfolio, request a list of clients you can call and talk to about their experience working with the designer, ask to see their 3 most recent projects, look at their website, Facebook stalk them, follow them on Twitter, are they a legitimate business entity, how long have they been in business?

The designer will want to know just as much about you and your business.  Afterall, this is going to be a mutual relationship and your designer will want to make sure that you are a legitimate business too.  Interview your designer, request a meeting at your office - or theirs if they have one.  Choosing to work long distance? Skype them - contact them and find a way to get face time.  This is a great way to establish if they are professional, business oriented, well-spoken, organized and timely.  Put the time in now to get to know them so that you aren't throwing money away later. 

Chemistry is key....
So your date walks the walk and talks the talk, but you're just not that into him? GOOD! You aren't feeling the chemistry, you know its not right - talking with this person is like licking a bug zapper, it totally sucks and you aren't looking forward to the next encounter.  Walk away now! This cannot be stressed enough - walk away now.  At this moment you are only in the interview stage, what happens down the road when there is a problem? A really tight deadline? Or there is a little strain on the relationship? If there is no chemistry now, you can bet there will be misses in the future.

Finding a designer that you mesh with is perhaps the most important thing to look for.  Your designer should be able to provide you with something that you may not even be able to properly articulate - and that can only be achieved through chemistry.  When you say something like "I really like the way the Starbucks Website looks, but I hate all that black, green and white." Your designer should respond with a smile and a nod and then turn around and ask you some leading questions that help you delve into what it is you really like.  You want someone to be able to read you - someone who gets you! Yes, its very hard to find, yes, it may take awhile - but all the worthy relationships are that way.  If your business is that important to you, you will take the time now to avoid the problems that are certain to arise in the future. 

All in all, take your time, find someone you like - someone you trust, and someone you can be honest with.  Look at their portfolio, make sure you like their style, their personality and the way they do business.  The right designer is out there - and Aunt Agnes probably won't know them!

© 2011, White Radish Design. All rights reserved. The material presented here is copyright by White Radish Design. Reprinting or reproduction is prohibited without the express written consent of White Radish Design.