Thursday, December 19, 2013

Five Internet marketing trends to watch

'Tis the season for annual predictions. As always, we’re keeping an eye on Internet marketing trends. We’ve come across a few that we think will definitely have an impact. Let us know what you think… have any to add?

1. The shift to mobile will speed up

According to Forbes, “87% of connected devices sales by 2017 will be tablets and smartphones.” That forecast shows that your customers will be (if they aren't already) accessing your site with a mobile device. Responsive design is more than just condensing the screen. It involves putting your customer first and making sure your website works well in their hands.

Questions to ask:
  • Can your audience easily navigate and get to your content? 
  • Have you considered displaying different types of information up front to people who are accessing you from a smartphone vs laptop?
Read our previous article: Five Reasons Your Business Needs a Mobile Website

2. Content marketing

Photography by garryknight, CC BY NC 2.0
What makes content juicy? Eliminate the fluff - focus on what matters.
Creating relevant, valuable content is becoming more and more important. When people take the time to pull up your site or search for your services, they want information. Engage your audience with solid content and they’ll spread the word and keep coming back. Once again, content marketing is more about the customer experience. Sharing information that you know your customers want in a format that they prefer is key.

Don’t forget the marketing in the phrase “content marketing.” Yes, your website should be founded on strong, engaging and relevant content but if you don’t tell people it exists it doesn’t matter. Staying on trend, content marketing isn't just about advertising – it’s about making the most of social media and email marketing to spread the news.

Questions to ask:
  • Are you currently blogging about your industry or service?
  • How often are you updating your content to make sure it is both current and relevant? Is it time for a content management tool?
Read more about content marketing.
Don’t miss this strong article about content marketing trends by Forbes.

3. The importance of images

Photography by familymwr, CC BY NC 2.0
Images can make you stop scanning and pay more attention. They can reinforce a message or be one of their own.
It is worth noting that some of the most popular websites right now have images as their focus: think Buzzfeed, Pinterest or Instagram. Images help you communicate your message in a powerful fashion. Infographics and other ways of incorporating large visuals in your written content will be a big trend to watch in the next year or so. You’re going to see more and more websites that incorporate one long page with a balanced mix of images and content to communicate quickly and easily.

Questions to ask:
  • Where can images (photos or illustrations) make an impact on your site?
  • Would video help you share your story in a more powerful fashion?

4. It’s all about the sharing

Photography by Jason A. Howie, CC BY NC 2.0
Internet marketing doesn't end at your website. Integrating social media is key.
You knew social media would have to appear on this list. As social media continues to integrate its way into our everyday lives, its impact on websites continues to grow. In fact, some experts think that search engines will soon start factoring in how often pages are shared or liked or followed into their search algorithms. That means that if your content is strong enough (see points two and three above) to be shared on social media, your website will rank higher in search results.

Questions to ask:
  • What social media channels are you using to stay on top of industry trends? Do you also have a presence on those channels?
  • Who is responsible for your social media strategy and content?
Here's a great article on integrating social media into your search engine optimization strategy.

5. It’s all about the customer

If there’s one thing these trends have in common it’s customer engagement. People are becoming savvier about websites and Internet marketing all the time. Gone are the days where a simple search advertisement will make a notable increase in traffic. You need to integrate your efforts, reach out to your audience in meaningful ways and make sure that what your readers find on your site is strong enough to hold their attention.

Your website is literally at people’s fingertips and they expect solid, relevant content to follow. Tools such as analytics help you measure your effectiveness. The key is to make sure you’re not just looking at those reports, rather that you are taking action with them. Know your customer and continue to develop what they want today and tomorrow.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Creating your next UI pattern library

Ensuring a consistent user experience throughout the life of a website is a challenge for all web professionals. As time goes by,  stakeholders change, new initiatives are developed, and the website that was initially launched turns into something completely new. Building a pattern library is an effective technique to use to maintain a long-lasting website.

Why build a pattern library?

A pattern libraries allow team members to quickly reference a set of standard elements and reusable components, and this set-up allows for greater productive while also saving both money and time.

Consistent user experience
As web design teams grows and change, keeping a pattern library helps to ensure a consistent user experience. As microsites and other digital properties are built and launched, a pattern library is essential in keeping a seamless experience between all related websites.

Efficiency
Pattern libraries not only create consistency, but they also quickly allow designers and developers to produce mockups, wireframes, and prototypes without spending hours on design and development.

Reusability
Having elements that are reusable goes hand in hand with efficiency. Pattern libraries allow developers and designers to avoid reproducing and redesigning elements.

Evolution
The evolution of the website benefits from a pattern library because it allows all team members to refer to the same code and design. New employees can quickly learn the corporate web standards and hit the ground running when team's have a pattern library for their website.

Typical elements of a pattern library might include:
  • Visual layouts
  • Typography
  • Color palettes
  • Grids (mobile, desktop, tablet)
  • Editorial best practices
  • Call to actions blurbs, buttons, links
  • Rules, guidelines, and toolkits
  • Code
  • Slideshow
  • Navigation
  • Social media features
  • Carousels
  • Iconography
  • Interactive elements

Here are several examples of successful pattern and design libraries:

BBC Gel - Web Style Guide

Mailchimp Pattern Library

Starbucks Interactive Style Guide


Additional resources

Creating a UX Design Library PDF

Yahoo Pattern Library

Google Visual Guidelines

Boxes and Arrows - So You Wanna Build a Library, eh?

Smashing Magazine - Designing Style Guidelines for Websites

Smashing Magazine - Creating a Pattern Library with Evernote


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Indianapolis web design link library

A library of websites we visit often, full of great information and inspiration.

Blogs

  • 24 Ways
    A group of designers get together every year in December and write inspiring and useful blogs for each day before Christmas. The blog topics could be on design or code, depends on the author.
  • 456 Berea Street
    Articles, tutorials, and comments on subjects that are interesting and useful to web professionals mostly related to web standards, accessibility, or usability.
  • 9 Rules
    Provides blog content from the web for users to view, which are separated by topics.
  • Abduzeedo
    Abduzeedo is a blog about design. There are all sorts of articles for those who want to look for inspiration. Also you will find very useful tutorials for the most used applications out there, with a special selection of Photoshop Tutorials and Illustrator Tutorials.
  • A List Apart
    Explores design, development, and meaning of web content, with a special focus on web standards and best practices.
  • Blog.SpoonGraphics
    Provides design tutorials including many techniques and effects using Adobe products and blogs with interesting topics about design to sharpen the skill set of a designer.
  • CreativeRoots
    Create blogs for an art and design collection from countries all over the world including historical or cultural expression. These blogs are geared to give ideas and inspiration.
  • CSS Beauty
    A database of well-designed CSS based websites from around the world with the purpose of showcasing designers' work and to act as a small portal to the CSS design community.
  • CSS Tricks
  • DesignM.agCommunity based website for designers and developers providing popular blogs, news, galleries, and a design job board.
  • Design Reviver
    Provides useful tutorials, free downloads, sources of inspiration, and articles that discuss the web.
  • Dev Lounge
    Online magazine for web designers, web publishers, and web workers overall–designing, coding, online planning, working freelance, and web applications and services to help the web developer.
  • FadtasticReviews and posts blogs that they’ve found as well as posting blogs on content they feel is important. It is separated in categories to the left of their page.
  • Just Creative DesignA blog mainly about graphic design providing tips, articles and resources on all types of graphic design.
  • Line25
    Line25 splits their design blogs into 3 different categories: Articles, Inspiration, and Tutorials. Though all of the blogs are inspiring, they are all geared to help create creativity!
  • Meyer Web
    Eric Meyer, author of 'Eric Meyer on CSS' writes about web standards and design.
  • My Ink Blog
    MyInkBlog is the creation of Andrew Houle and is designed to be a resource for designers.
  • Net.Tuts
    Offers web developers and designers tutorials and articles on technologies, skills, and techniques to help them improve.
  • Noupe
    Deliver news for designers and web-developers on all subjects from CSS, AJAX, typography, advertising, and even interview tips!
  • Six Revisions
    Publishes useful articles that provide noteworthy tips, tutorials, and resources for web designers and developers.
  • Skyje
    A blog for web developers and designers featuring Social Networking news and everything that’s Web 2.0. They are becoming more focused on WordPress.
  • Smashing Magazine
    Useful information, latest trends and techniques, useful ideas focused on design and web development.
  • Warpspire
    Web, Design and Code Geekery.
  • Web Designer Wall
    A web designers blog to share their ideas, tutorials, and talk about design trends.

Design Inspiration

  • Adobe
    Adobe revolutionizes how the world engages with ideas and information. We help our customers create and deliver compelling content and applications as well as fully realize their business potential.
  • CSS Zen Garden
    Contains many demonstrations of what can be accomplished visually through CSS-based design.
  • Most Inspired
    Design inspiration, articles and resources for web designers.
  • Style Inspiration
    Blogs about design, style and inspiration.

Color

  • Color Theory
    There are a lot of resources available about color theory. This page presents the concept in a more understandable fashion. Color affects the way we feel, how we behave, and the way in which we react to certain circumstances.
  • Color Schemer
    Build dazzling color schemes with software from ColorSchemer.
  • The Color Wheel and Color Relationships
    The color wheel helps with understanding color relationships and how to choose the best colors for your design or brand.

Stock Photos, Illustrations, Video and Fonts

  • Free Pixels
    Offers free high resolution stock photos for use in both personal and commercial design projects.
  • Font Play
    Features freeware fontmakers, and show people that nice things can be done with free fonts.
  • Free Range
    A team of passionate, wildly creative people who spend our days strategizing, branding and designing so the most important social messages get through loud and clear.
  • Fotolia
    Fotolia is the first worldwide social marketplace for royalty free stock images, allowing individuals and professionals to legally buy and share stock images and illustrations.
  • FotoSearch
    Stock photography and stock footage: The World's Stock Photography - One Website.
  • ImageBase
    Image Base is a full service business communications company specializing in video, new media and meeting production.
  • iStockPhoto
    The web's original source for user-generated, royalty-free stock photos, illustrations, video, audio and Flash.
  • Jupiter Images
    One of the leading suppliers of stock photography in the world. We offer a comprehensive range of premium, royalty-free images and stock illustration. So, whenever you need an image, whatever you need it for, you're sure to find it.
  • Public Domain Photos
    All photos on this web site are public domain. You may use these images for any purpose, including commercial.
  • PunchStock
    More than two million royalty-free photos and illustrations from Jupiterimages, TGetty Images and over 85 other collections – all in one convenient search.
  • Raster Vector
    A free service to convert fonts.
  • Shutter Stock
    Shutterstock is the largest subscription-based stock photo agency in the world. Every day we add thousands of photographs, illustrations, and vectors to our outstanding collection of premium, royalty-free images.
  • StockVault
    Stockvault.net is a stock photo sharing website where photographers, designers and students can share their photographs, graphics and image files with each other for free.
  • Stock.xchng
    Browse our huge image gallery or share your own photos with others.

Development

  • 4 Guys from Rolla
    An online resource site for ASP and ASP.NET information.
  • DevGuru
    Award-winning web developers' resource: over 3000 pages of quick reference guides, tutorials, knowledge base articles, useful products.
  • Dynamic Drive
    The #1 place on the net to obtain free, original DHTML & Javascripts to enhance your web site!
  • jQuery
    jQuery is a fast and concise JavaScript Library that simplifies HTML document traversing, event handling, animating, and Ajax interactions for rapid web development.
  • Cascading Style Sheets for WebsitesA website full of details around CSS styling of HTML markup from syntax and classes/IDS to padding/margins and backgrounds.

Tools

  • ASCII characters
    An ASCII character table and this includes descriptions of the first 32 non-printing characters.
  • DNS Stuff
    Helps you configure, monitor and fix problems with your domain and email. Our tools and alerts provide insight into your domain from the outside looking in.
  • Google Analytics
    The enterprise-class web analytics solution that gives you rich insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness. Powerful, flexible and easy-to-use features now let you see and analyze your traffic data in an entirely new way.
  • Lorem Ipsum Generator
    Reference site about Lorem Ipsum, giving information on its origins, as well as a random Lipsum generator.
  • Webmaster Tools
    Webmaster tools for Webmasters, includes Border Tool and Backgrounds for your web page.

Search Engine Optimization

  • Google Adwords
    Advertise with Google AdWords ads in the Sponsored Links section next to search results to boost website traffic and sales.
  • SEOmoz
    Provides companies and individuals around the world with online tools and tutorials to help with their Internet marketing and search engine optimization needs.
  • SEMrush
    SEMRush.com functions for detecting and analyzing your competitors in Google organic search.

Recommendations for W3C markup specifications for HTML, XHTML, and CSS


Do you know of other resources to add to our list?
Please tell us and we'll share
 

Subscribe to this blog