Great website design features in 2019

My favourite features for great website design - written by Cameron Baird

Why I am writing this?

Hello! My name is Cameron Baird and I am currently doing some work experience at Sokada . I am carrying out some research into what I think are good web design elements, that work well together to create great website designs. I am writing this blog post about what I think are the most effective elements of web design in creating a fun website.

When I’m on the internet, there are many websites that I skip over not bothering to read. Whether that is because it is an overload of sentences or I’m not interested in what the website is showing. However, every once in a while there comes along a website with a great design that really piques my interest despite what it is about. Below are a few elements of great web design that work really well when all used together:

Web design can really make or break a website!

The Use of Colour

Colour is a very important tool when it comes to creating a page that will really stand out. Can you think of a website that has no colour at all? Every major company uses colour to their advantage. Look at Apple for instance. Apple uses the colour white a lot in their website and we often associate it with purity.

However Apple doesn’t just stop there, they also add splashes of other colours. These colours are bold and contrast the white background. Colour is important as it can instantly draw viewers in without knowing what it says. Plus information can be identified up to 70% faster when coloured.

Videos and Animations

I find that when a website has a video or animation to watch, it instantly captures my attention. I can process the information much easier and remember it for longer. The Adidas home page has a clip of different shoes on the screen that are constantly changing and if you scroll down you find another video.

The use of video really helps to cement the viewers attention to the site. Most viewers say that a video is important for a website for showing how a service / product works. Using a video can also simplify complex information into a fun to watch clip. As a result this helps bring them back, once again, to your website.

Bold Original Illustrations

Using a creative illustration to attract viewers helps the website to look much more engaging and professional. The use of a picture can:

1. Help break up the big chunks of text
2. Make the information more digestible
3. Create a fun atmosphere on the website.
4. Instantly grab my interest and make me want to keep exploring the website.

According to studies by Doctor Jakob Nielsen, only 28% of a websites actual content is read by viewers. Using images like this can help the viewer process a website’s information much faster and ultimately help them to remember the website.

Website Simplicity

Another extremely popular design style is minimalism. What is minimalism style you ask? It is a simple and easy to navigate page style. By putting a few elements onto a page it creates the effect of minimalism.

Great Web Design example from Layer Design

A great example of this is the Layer design home page. The home page’s whole screen is filled by a presentation of the designs they have made and has no other information. Most importantly this makes me want to look and see what this website is about.

Minimalism helps create an interest in something as it already has a unique professional look with the mystery of what else the page has to offer. It makes the viewer seek out more information and stay longer on the website.

In conclusion…

These elements of web design, when used together, can create great website designs and make some unique and interesting website pages. Try it yourself and see what you think. Whether the website itself is serious or for fun, you cannot deny that a great website design just feels good!

Click here to get even more design tips to create more conversation!

What is a broken link?

Many people and companies who have their own website do not check for broken links. But you really need to know why fixing broken links is important for your website. The internet is built on hyperlinks. Linking between web pages is a fundamental feature of it all and is one aspect of keeping a strength to your website. When all is well and good, every link on your site will lead exactly to the right place.

But sometimes links don’t work. A page may be deleted or unavailable. An image might not load or be missing. A site or resource you link to might disappear. Someone who you have linked to might move a post or page and not update others which link to it. A particularly regular problem will be linking to online magazines. Most articles will eventually get deleted and that can lead to lots of broken links.

What could happen?

When someone clicks on a link on your site and it doesn’t take them to its intended destination, the following can happen:

  1. It’s frustrating for the user.
  2. It shows that you don’t do regular housekeeping.
  3. It can harm your credibility as an authority in your field.
  4. It could affect your website conversion if it’s on a sales page.
  5. It can definitely hurt your SEO and page rankings.

The worst result for the user clicking on a broken link is to be sent to a generic browser 404 page. Then the user has to click the “back” button to return to the previous page. We know that this is really frustrating, so we are sure your customers would too!

Ideally we want to identify those links that are broken and change or remove them. This is basic housekeeping of your website and should be done on a regular basis.

Linking to external websites

It is a great idea to link to external websites. It actually helps to strengthen your own website slightly. However these links could always stand a chance of being changed or deleted; then you may have a problem. It will be your website that suffers, if they haven’t redirected this page somewhere else. And this happens so much!

However, this is a really easy fix to make. There are plenty of free broken link checkers online today that are so easy to use. Just add in your URL and they do the work for you. They tell you which pages have broken links and even the section of the page that is broken, along with the source code. Broken Link Check is one such website. We have just done a test on our own website and sure enough there was a broken link from one of our customers. They had moved a page and not redirected it.

Just keep up to date with this – always make sure there are no broken links! Here you have found out why fixing broken links is important for your website. Go to our blog to find out other tips and advice.

Thanks for reading!

Cyber Security and understanding more

I went to a really informative Cyber Security event last week in Hailsham. It was presented by Andy Rawlinson from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) and sponsored by the Hailsham Chamber of Commerce and Astec Computing (UK).

We see a lot of companies in our day to day work, who don’t really have a lot of understanding of the dangers of the internet, or even the importance of having a reliable, secure IT infrastructure.

I think people and businesses just think they will be OK. However, listening to the presentation this morning, they clearly won’t be!

Some of the elements I understood more than others as we see them all the time, like Phishing, Denial of Service Attacks and Website Hacking.

Cyber Security

Some of the key elements I took away with me were:

Anti-Virus

Make sure that any device you have that connects to the Internet is running an up to date anti-virus system. These don’t have to be expensive, there are some really good free ones; but you have to use something. Keep this up to date and make sure that it is working properly, as well as regularly scan your devices.

Also use something to detect Malware on your devices. Malware is the malicious software or programs that are harmful to your devices; it’s these that actually do all the dirty work.

Firewalls

A firewall is your first line of defense. It’s a protective barrier that sits on your PC or router and protects you from unwanted access to the system. You can change the security settings on your firewall to suit your requirements, making them specific to you.

When you add new software or apps to your PC, you will need to change the permissions on your Firewall and you will probably notice requests to do this. You can also review what software/websites have access to your system. Setting up your firewall properly is important.

Secure Offsite Backups

Make sure you have an effective back up of your computer data. If you can get a backup of your system files that’s even better. This will make it easier to get things working again if your security is breached. Also do your best to understand how the backups work and what is actually backed up. As well as this, you need to know how to restore the backed-up files.

Backups should be offsite. Whether that’s in the cloud or on a drive that you physically remove from the office after the backup is completed. You may not want to trust a cloud backup, but they are generally pretty good and make a lot of sense.

If you don’t have time to do this, or the inclination, then it makes sense to find an IT company who can help you create a backup plan.

2FA (2 Factor Authentication)

These days most online systems that require you to login with a password also give you the option to set up 2FA. This basically means that when you login with your user/password it will also send an authorisation code, usually to your mobile phone. To gain access you will need to have access to the phone and enter the code that is sent to you.

We build a lot of WordPress websites and we have been starting to implement 2FA on the CMS (Content Management System) so that you can’t login and make changes unless you can authenticate properly. This is relatively simple to do so ask your developer to help you.

Email security

This is something that affects us more than most of the others on a day to day basis. We manage email for most of our clients and security and strong passwords are very important. We also see quite a few Phishing emails which we regularly speak to clients about. Spotting a dodgy email can be hard enough especially as they are so well disguised, but it’s really important that if you have any suspicions then you must not open an email.

As a rule of thumb, large companies, banks and government bodies won’t ask you to login to your account via an email. If you are worried call them instead. Phishing emails will try and push you, by adding a sense of urgency to the request, but again if the request is unexpected or urgent and you don’t know what it is then it’s probably not from who you think it is.

Having a good password won’t stop you opening a phishing email, but it might stop someone using your email account for a different purpose. Hackers can use your account to attack other businesses, sending thousands of emails to slow and cause their systems to crash. DoS (Denial of Service) attacks may not be focused on you but if you are part of one, even unwittingly, it can lead to your mail account getting blocked and much more.

Create a business wide policy in regard to handling suspicious email, so that as a group you understand how to handle these as well as how to deal with them.

Password Management systems

Having good quality passwords is very important. Ideally of 14 characters or more, with upper and lower case text plus numbers and special characters. Unfortunately, the better you make them the harder they are to remember.

Another good idea is to create a pass phrase, so three sets of words that you can remember but that aren’t linked or obvious… something like “RelaxingFriendsSkiing” might be a good one for me. You can then juice this up a little by making some of the characters numbers or using special characters; “#Rel4xingFriends$kiing”.

But creating and remembering lots of good passwords is still going to be hard, so you could try using a password management system. These store and remember all your different passwords with you using one good pass phrase to access the management system. A lot of these can also remember and log you in automatically to systems that you use regularly. But only do this on devices you trust and manage and of course make sure you use 2FA.

Some simple steps to take

OK so here are the basics of what we have said above:

  • Make sure you use a good anti-virus and keep this up to date and working
  • Combine this with a good Malware package to illuminate malicious software
  • Back up your critical business systems and understand how to restore the back up if anything goes wrong
  • Use 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) whenever possible
  • Use business email and make sure your passwords are strong. Also have a policy within your business for dealing with suspicious emails
  • Invest in a good password manager

For me the single most important thing to do is get help. Speak to an expert about your Cyber Security and work with them to do as much as you can to prevent access to your systems. This is definitely worth spending money on as it potentially can save you EVERYTHING…

As well as publishing some great blogs, you can really showcase your work by explaining about some of the historical work you have been involved in. By writing case studies. It isn’t always easy to get time to do this. We, as a company are really guilty of that! You spend all your time helping your clients and then forget to market yourselves! But case studies are a really great way to do this. Within this platform, you can promote what the brief was, the challenges that could have occurred, how you got around them and what the outcome was.

Obviously, case studies are similar to blog posts. You can use a similar format and then once live on your website, they can help to bring in more traffic, with ultimately (and hopefully) more business. What case studies have over blog posts, however, is they show potential clients exactly what you can do for them.

Getting started

Case studies can seem like a bother to put together; especially if you’ve never written one before. How do you decide which clients to feature and what details to include? Just getting started can be a challenge.

While there’s a bit of a learning curve to writing a good client case study, it’s not as difficult as you might think, and the benefits of case studies far outweigh the effort of creating them. Good case studies should be engaging, visual, and effective.

Case studies speak directly to potential clients

Your blog posts are probably well-written and informative, but are they compelling? Readers are busy, and if your latest blog post doesn’t speak to their current needs, there’s a good chance they won’t read it.

Case studies, on the other hand, are more likely to grab readers’ attention. People love reading about situations like their own. If you can tell a potential client a story about how you helped a business similar to theirs, they won’t just pay attention – they’ll remember you later.

Case studies can do everything blog posts can do

Your client case study doesn’t have to be a dry, boring wall of text. It can inform, entertain, and inspire readers. You can share useful findings or advice in a case study, just like you would in a blog post. Case studies are also ideal for displaying your skills and positioning you as an authority, which is what blog posts should do, but often don’t.

Case studies build credibility and trust 

Your perceived trustworthiness is a crucial factor in whether people decide to work with you or not. Most people would hesitate to work with a company that didn’t have any examples of their past work on display. Case studies give clients a way to evaluate your competence before they commit to working with you.

Case studies make you stand out from the competition

Case studies are a bit more specialised and challenging to write than blog posts. Which means that not everyone writes them. If you want to look more professional and put-together than your competitors, writing case studies can give your image a boost.

And remember to keep it relatable. Don’t just rattle off a list of stats your client wanted to improve. A compelling case study will also be entertaining and enjoyable to read.

Ask your customers for testimonials

Anyone can posts a case study, which could have elaborated on the truth. However, if you name the customer you have worked with, link to their website and then add a testimonial, this is a pretty powerful endorsement. And can be one of the best ways to promote your work. In most cases, your customers will be only too pleased to write you a testimonial. Especially if you have overcome and difficulties they were having. But make sure you still make them look good and avoid giving away anything they don’t want to be public knowledge!

Sokada Ltd have set up my company Creative Tailored Therapy so I can now be found for local searches. They made it really easy to understand and have answered all my questions so well. Really pleased and would highly recommend them, which I already have!
Catherine Simmonds

Provide great advice

An effective case study doesn’t just make you and your client look good. It also provides information or advice that anybody can use, whether they decide to hire you or not. You don’t have to give away the key secrets of your trade, but don’t be stingy either. Share some of your methods, your knowledge and anything interesting you learned in the process of helping your client. Give the reader something they can take away and apply to their own work.

This isn’t as counterproductive as it might sound. Being open about your work will help build valuable trust with potential clients. And even if you’re completely transparent about your methods, most people who aren’t marketing experts will still opt to hire you instead of doing the legwork of implementing your strategy themselves.

Can we help you?

Ensuring the companies we work with have consistent effective case studies is a large part of our online marketing and will continue to be so. If you are struggling to work out how to promote your business online, then please get in touch today. Either by email, calling us on 01435 817226, or please fill in our contact form and someone will get back to you.

 

Wow so yesterday was the 30th birthday of the World Wide Web. Obviously it took some time to go from a proposal written by Tim Berners-Lee to what we call the internet today. I read that his supervisor wrote “Vague but exciting…” at the top of the document. 

happy birthday WWW

So is this going to catch on then?

It reminds me of the time I first heard mention of the internet. I was in my print studio and a friend had called me to discuss his new business; he needed a designer as he was setting up a website design company. This was back in late 1997 and when he explained that the internet would enable companies to share information and advertise all over the world, I apparently asked him “So is this going to catch on then?”; he reliably informed me that the Internet was going to be the next big thing. Well done Paul I think you might have been right. 

Well I took the design job and worked there for 11 months before moving on to what I hoped was bigger and better things. After 18 months selling, planning, designing and building (I wouldn’t call it developing) websites I went back to what I think I do best… running my own business. 

I remember that noise that the modem made as it connected via the phone line at 14.4kb/s or later at the positively explosive 28.8kb/s, or  trying to design and build websites with graphics that were tiny by today’s standards and structuring a website using tables; such fun…  

The rise and fall of giants

Yahoo seemed to own the world in 2004 raking in astronomical profits, they would surely dominate the internet for years to come, but it wasn’t soon after that the much simpler Google search came about… rather than paying for a position on a search engine your content helped you get there instead. It felt like Yahoo disappeared almost overnight as is the way with the internet. 

I suppose 2004 was also the start of social media as we know it now, with MySpace and then Facebook bringing a new way to communicate. Whether you like social media or not it has had a dramatic effect on nearly all of us, especially our children. 

One of the biggest areas of change caused by the internet has to be shopping; e-commerce is changing the physical nature of our high streets. It’s hard for specific types of businesses to compete with the internet, with the high street becoming more about service lead businesses rather than shops selling things. Love or hate them Amazon’s plan to lose millions before making billions seems to have worked for them rather well with them dominating internet sales. 

Easy Money!

Then there is my personal favourite; no it’s not what you are thinking… online gaming is now a job, you can play games all day on the internet and get paid to do so. Some streamers get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a month through online subscriptions, donations, sponsorship and merchandise; one of my favorites Shroud recently celebrated getting 100,000 subscribers! 

I’m looking to see what happens over the next few years. 

So once again happy birthday WWW. Love Julian

Networking works!

Julian goes to a few local networking groups. As a company, we want to get our name out there, meet new businesses, talk to people and hopefully give them good advice that will help to grow their businesses. At one of these groups was Jane Guest from Adaray Marketing. Julian, along the course of a few conversations chatted with Jane who then referred Sokada to her clients, organic skincare brand, Nathalie Bond, based in Sheffield.

Organic Skincare by Nathalie Bond

Organic Skincare by Nathalie Bond

Nathalie Bond is a family run business. They have created their own brand of luxury handmade organic skincare. It is being sold wholesale, abroad and through other online companies, but they also wanted to start promoting it themselves to the massive growing online retail market.

Nat and Andy are a great family led couple, (expecting their third baby) who want to offer an alternative to the mass produced, chemical filled, skincare products that are being sold worldwide. They have gone back to basics, using organic essential oils and butters. Everything is organic, gentle and most importantly, there is no animal testing and no harsh chemicals or additives.

Product testing

So in the spirit of trying the products before we work on them, we bought some through their online shop. They arrived promptly, beautifully boxed with no damage whatsoever. The packaging is all completely recyclable, as are pretty much all of their jars and bottles.

Jude has always been thinking of going organic, when it comes to skincare. So we ordered some of the handmade soaps, the Bloom skin balm and a set of the organic facial skincare, as well as some of the liquid soap, with a lip balm thrown in for good measure. The organic soaps are wonderful to cleanse your face as well as body. Using the soap bars in the shower with a bath puff ball sponge (whatever you call it…) works perfectly, letting you use the soap as a body wash. But apparently you can also use the liquid soaps, which are also ideal sitting in the kitchen, downstairs loo or at the bathroom sink.

The skin balm is great for the body, including feet, elbows as well as the rest of the skin. It is just as lovely on the face and neck though!

And using the organic soap, with the Bloom face mist and then the Gentle face oil, leaves your face clear, smooth and completely moisturised. This is such an easy skincare routine and with all products having a multi-use capability, they are extremely versatile.

Organic Skincare by Nathalie Bond

In summary

Obviously, we can’t always product test all the businesses we work with at Sokada. However this was an ideal opportunity. And this organic skincare company is really going places. Wonderful gentle products that can also be used on sensitive skin, baby skin, during pregnancy as well as skin with allergies. The ingredients in these wonderful products are organic, gentle but still smell fabulous! We have already ordered again and will continue to do so.

And what makes it even easier to make the transition across to this skincare brand is the price! It is really competitive and you don’t need loads of products for a daily skincare routine, which doesn’t break the bank (unlike some skincare brands!).

Sokada are currently working with Nat and Andy on their online marketing as well as a Google Adwords campaign – all is going very well and bringing them in lots of online orders and new customers from the retail sector.

Nathalie Bond Organic Skincare are a definite “YES!” from Sokada!

 

Christmas is fast approaching. We therefore wanted to let you all know our opening hours over the Christmas period.

Our offices will be shut over Christmas from the 22nd of December to the 3rd of January 2019. Should a website or email related emergency occur please contact us via Email with the subject line URGENT.

The Sokada team wish all customers a lovely Christmas and a very successful New Year.

Ever since I can remember, when I talk to businesses about their websites, they ask me the same question “What’s more important – website design or marketing?” Up until recently I have always replied with the same answer… actually, they are both equally important. But is that changing?

 

The designers view

Most website design companies will want to sell you a new website design. It’s all about the design, because that’s how they make their money. They will usually find issue with a previous design and explain how you can change this and how that will impact on your business.

They often do have a point, as the design is usually the first thing a visitor notices. It is important to get the look and feel right; so yes, the design is very important. It will also impact on how a visitor perceives your products and services; if the design is poor then it is assumed that the services and products are equally poor.

A clear and obvious call to action is also very important and if this is well considered and designed properly, it should mean that you will get more enquiries. Especially if your visitors like what they see.

From a marketing view

In the same way that a designer wants to sell you the design element, a marketing company will want to sell you marketing; no surprises there. There are a wide range of marketing opportunities available and all can be used to promote your website. A marketing company will say that it is all about the data they add and positioning your site correctly. They usually tend to try and baffle you with terminology and statistics, SEO, PPC, analytical reporting, trends…

Actually, they aren’t wrong. All of these are important but are they more important than the design of a website?

As always, I like to look at these and apply a good level of common sense. If your website looks bad this will affect sales and enquiries, so it must be good. In all fairness it doesn’t have to be amazing, on trend or completely out there. It has to make a user believe in the quality of your services enough to allow them to contact you. But, if a user can’t find your website on a search engine, then it doesn’t matter how beautifully designed it is, you won’t make sales or get enquiries.

What you can see and what you can’t!

But it is now becoming more and more important that you consider another element; a much maligned and forgotten part of the process – the code and how the site is built. Yes, this is the geeky bit; the element that no one really understands. How your website is built is rightfully very important.

Site speed: If your site loads slowly because it’s been poorly coded or has a bloated theme with lots of plugins, this will have a negative affect on your search engine position. Google wants it’s users to have a great experience; slow loaded and badly structured websites will be penalised. Slow websites will also have a higher than average loading time, giving you a higher bounce rate, causing your rankings to be lowered further over time.

Code structure: Code structuring is important when it comes to ranking efficiently in Google. Structuring titles, content & images are all major factors in the search engines. An example of this is header tags. Your page could have multiple H1 tags, causing issues when it comes to Google identifying your focus keyword. You could also have a lack of key headers like H2 & H3s, also giving you a negative effective while ranking.

Page & Site builders: The question we hear a lot is “can I go onto Wix and create a website and be ranked in Google” The answer is yes & no. Yes, you can create a website. However it’s highly unlikely you will ever get a good search engine ranking using this method. Page builders and site builders like Wix & Divi actually struggle to get ranked against websites with a great coding structure. This is because builders like Wix add bloated code to factor all websites on their platform. An example of this is our average home page design comes with 500 lines of code. All this code is relevant to the page you are viewing. Therefore loading fast and allowing Google to dissect relevant information. An average Wix homepage is 5500 lines of code; 5000 lines extra of bloated code calling in all web fonts and unnecessary scripts, causing website speeds to be extremely poor and having irrelevant code for Google to dissect.

Mobile Friendly: Ensuring your website has been coded to support mobiles & tablet devices is crucial. The mobile market is currently taking the lead when it comes to browsing websites. Mot supporting mobile means Google will not rank a website on a mobile or tablet device, if the website does not support it.

What’s the answer?

Well the answer is that there is no individual element that is more important. Each project needs to be looked at with fresh eyes and a plan devised that will enable the right website to be created. Beautifully designed, well optimised and purpose built to enable the website to be found on a search engine, this will give the user enough confidence to contact the owner about their services and products.

When you are looking for a company to build you a website, you need to make sure that they have the skills to enable them to create the website that you need. They shouldn’t try and sell you one particular service, but help you understand why they are all important.

If you have a project you want to discuss in more detail please contact us, we would love to show you how we are different.