Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A little thing that counts

Making sure a favicon, or favorites icon, is associated with your website is an integral part of extending your brand online and improving usability.

But, what's a favicon? And, furthermore, where is it located?

A favicon is the petite 16 × 16 pixel image shown in browser navigation bars and in browser bookmarks. Look at the top of this browser, and you will see a teeny yellow "TBH" next the the URL for this blog entry. That's the favicon we have associated with this blog.

When you bookmark the TBH Creative blog, your browser will also use that graphic to help assist in visual identification of this website from all of the other saved pages, aiding and increasing usability.

Have more than one tab open in your browser? A favicon associated, if it exists, will also appear along with a truncated portion of the page title to help you distinguish between all of the pages open.

Why are favicons important?

Strategic web design plans often includes discussions about marketing goals (e.g., converting visitors to customers and sharing case studies), content needs (e.g., creating graphics, links, forms, and copy) and development steps (e.g., planning the site architecture and navigation and customizing a CMS solution).

While thinking about these big picture items, small details—like creating a favicon—are sometimes overlooked. Pay attention next time you browse a website that has misspellings, broken links, and error messages. When website developers and designers aren't at the top of their game or too busy, the attention they'll pay to the smallest details is often revealing. You can usually trust that the more important details—such as website load time and security certificates—are carefully taken care of and maintained for quality when the little things are done properly, too.

Using your wordmark or logo is often best choice for your favicon image. If you need ideas, this website with lots of samples from popular websites will help you get brainstorming for a solution. Once you're ready to go, read our "how-to" blog post that shares how to integrate a favicon into your website.

Blog Content Ideas: My Business Has A Blog. Now What?

Blog writer’s block is common. Learn how to conquer it!

I often catch myself thinking too hard about blog topics. They shouldn’t be that hard, right? My theory: If you’re spending over 15 minutes wondering what to write about, you’re thinking way too hard.

Here are a few tips for getting over writer’s block:

Who are you? What do you do?

Introducing yourself and your company seems like a no-brainer, but most companies skip this step. Why not tell the readers a little about the authors?

Stop Assuming

Sure, you know everything there is to know about marketing and the Internet (or whatever it is that you’re good at). Don’t assume everyone reading your blog knows the tips and tricks pros use for successful Internet marketing.

Plan Ahead

Or at least, try to plan ahead. Most companies have a set schedule of when blog posts are released. If you know you need to write one or two posts every week, start thinking about it now. Your current blog post could lead to another topic, and another topic, and so on.

Be Passionate About What You’re Writing About

If you’re really not interested in what you’re writing about, the readers can tell. It will also make the blog writing process take longer than it should.

Do you like Spongebob Squarepants? Find something interesting to pull from it, and write about it. Not all blog posts need to be 100% serious all of the time; that would make a dull blog. It is very important to make sure your readers want to read about it. If your audience is 60+ year old women, writing strictly about Spongebob will not grab their attention. However, writing about new Spongebob toys that will make great gifts for grandchildren on Christmas might.

If you need some specific post ideas, Compendium has a great list of 200 ideas for your company’s blog. Slingshot SEO also has some great blogging tips about getting out of writer’s block.

Google can also be your best friend when trying to think of blog topics. Look at other companies’ blogs. You can find inspiration everywhere.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Brand Identity & Why It’s Important

Is your company in need of a branding makeover?

The business dictionary states that brand identity is “the visible elements of a brand (such as colors, design, logotype, name, symbol) that together identify and distinguish the brand in the consumers' mind.”
Let’s face it. The first thing customers are probably going to see is your logo. Your logo is the face of your company. You want it to look nice, and make sense . . . right? 

There are several different items that contribute to identity; logos are not the only thing your company needs. Just Creative Design posted several examples: 
  • A Logo
    (The symbol of the entire identity & brand)
  • Stationery
    (Letterhead + business card + envelopes, etc.)
  • Marketing Collateral
    (Flyers, brochures, books, websites, etc.)
  • Products & Packaging (Products sold and the packaging in which they come in)
  • Apparel Design
    (Tangible clothing items that are worn by employees)
  • Signage
    (Interior & exterior design)
  • Messages & Actions (Messages conveyed via indirect or direct modes of communication)
  • Other Communication
    (Audio, smell, touch, etc.)
  • Anything visual that represents the business

Brand New is also a great website that shows several company logo transformations. Each entry includes reasoning as to why the person submitting it thinks it is a good or bad change. If your company needs a branding makeover, be sure to consult a professional.  People do not like change. When large brands have major branding makeovers, usually it doesn’t go over well with the public at first. After a few months, customers get used to the change.
Companies need to update their logos, websites, ect. every once in a while. It is not recommended to do it frequently; sometimes a change after 5-10 years is nice and refreshing.
After all, do you think Pepsi kept the same logo throughout the years? Definitely not.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Web Design Case Study: Imaging Office Systems

We launched a new website for Imaging Office Systems today and it can be viewed at http://www.imagingoffice.com/.

TBH Creative was hired by Imaging Office Systems this Spring to help with their new website and online strategy. The previous website was created in-house, and it was time to take things up a notch in terms of design, ease of maintenance and results.

Web Design
We proposed a fresh design. We brought in complimentary and bright colors to their brand for interest and appeal, as well as professional details throughout the graphics and style.
One primary goal of the new website was to communicate to visitors that they offered more services than typically thought of -- more than just scanning and document management. They also offer custom professional services and storage. We emphasized this throughout the website and with a clear navigation structure and calls to action.

Content Management System
Our services went beyond design with our easy to use Content Management System and custom module to manage resources. IOS is also just beginning in social media and is now participating in visit the newly designed website to see more. Some featured pages include Meet the TeamLocations and Directions, and Resources.

Imaging Office Systems' new homepage. Check it out!
We used JQuery technology for the screen rotation at the top and also the logo slider across the bottom.

Resources page 

“After I sent a request to TBH Creative for pricing on a new company website, they were quick to respond and to understand what was driving the desire for a new site and what we wanted to accomplish. The presentation and proposal then addressed all of our requirements. Out of all the proposals we received for this project, TBH Creative's was the only one that made me confident that they understood what we wanted to do, had addressed how they would satisfy our requirements, had a process in place to control the project, and would be good to work with.

The site design process and the end product definitely lived up to our expectations; and TBH Creative were great to work with. The site is exactly what we needed and we have gotten a lot of very positive feedback from our customers and business partners. I have no doubt we made the right decision."

~ Angela Childs, Director, Professional Services

About Imaging Office Systems

Imaging Office Systems (IOS) was founded in 1972. They began building its expertise on document management systems that included tools such as moveable filing cabinets and offsite paper storage. These were low tech solutions by today’s standards, but they solved a very real need.  It is now an industry that is significantly more high-tech including scanning, document management, storage and professional services.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Is Usability Testing Really Necessary?

Absolutely! Anything from websites to software programs need usability testing.

This usability blog posted several tools that are very helpful while usability testing. My personal favorite is starting out with pencil and paper (free!), and then creating more refined digital mockups for testing. In my opinion, you can never do too much usability testing.
You can approach usability testing however you want, really. You can use basic black and white, pencil and paper. You can use full color. Possibilities are endless. During your last round of usability testing, it should be on the final product. It’s always a good idea to test prior to a release to catch any bugs.
It is important to test as many people as you can in your target audience.  Find your friends, neighbors, and even random strangers: ask them to help you out! Rewarding testers with food also helps to give you a good turnout. It is best to not test strictly with your family and close friends (they probably won’t give you the criticism you need). While usability testing, be sure to record pauses, how long it took the user to complete the task, ect.
It is best to find errors early in the development process. The longer you wait to do usability testing, the harder it will be to fix those errors. Here is an example of a website usability checklist. There are several to choose from out there. Checklists are very helpful. They help you to think of things you skipped over or never thought about.

Do you do usability testing for your websites or programs? Why or why not?

(PS: This is a trick question. You should ALWAYS do usability testing!)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Amazon’s Newest Kindle Lineup

Is Amazon Fire the biggest competitor for iPad?

This week, Amazon released the newest generation of Kindles. The traditional Kindle is $79. There are two brand new touch Kindles: $99 for the WiFi version and $149 for the 3G version. The Kindle Fire is only $199.
Kindle Touch:

Kindle Fire:

The Kindle Fire is the most talked about Kindle this week. It is the first full color Kindle for magazines, books, movies, web browsing, and more.  It is very similar to the iPad, but not identical. The Kindle Fire is significantly smaller and cheaper than the iPad, which may make more users choose Kindle over iPad. Amazon has worked hard the past few years. They now have online movie streaming, music, ebooks, magazines, and more. Amazon has made it easy to literally have everything at your fingertips.

Amazon also has a great tool on every Kindle order page. You can compare every Kindle they are currently selling. This is a very user-friendly tool if you are indecisive about which Kindle to get. I have the last generation Kindle. I’m still not too sure how I feel about the new color and touch Kindles. I like the e-Ink versus a backlit screen. It is difficult for me to read for extended periods of time on a backlit screen. However, everyone is different!  Most people do not like change. I remember just a few years ago, I stated I would NEVER get a touch screen cell phone. I currently have a Droid X. It’s funny how technology becomes less scary as years pass.

How do you feel about the new Kindle lineup? Competition for the iPad or just another e-reader?


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