Max Media Pixels Wed, 19 Jul 2017 09:22:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 7 Reasons to choose a Freelance Web Designer over a web firm Sat, 20 May 2017 18:20:31 +0000 7 Reasons to choose a Freelance Web Designer over a web firm Given below 7 Reasons to choose a Freelance Web Designer over a web firm. 1. Low Overheads The main reason is price. They are cheaper. A freelance web designer … Continue reading

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7 Reasons to choose a Freelance Web Designer over a web firm

7 Reasons to choose a Freelance Web Designer over a web firm

Given below 7 Reasons to choose a Freelance Web Designer over a web firm.

1. Low Overheads

The main reason is price. They are cheaper.

A freelance web designer will most likely only take you on if they are interested. While they are cheaper, the money you pay goes directly to the person in front of you.

Wages, superannuation, insurance, holidays, maternity leave and rent increase the price of your website if you are working with a web development company. A company has to keep the coal fires burning, and that means taking on every job that comes in. Even if it’s not a good fit.

Most freelance web designers work from home. Or at a Cafe. They have tiny overheads and if they are doing okay, a freelancer will only take on a job that they like and can manage. Companies take on all work – sometimes just to keep afloat.

Low overheads not only halves the price of your website but you double the availability. If you choose a picky web designer – one who sees your website as a chance to boost his or her portfolio, you’re sure to get a good deal. And because they are’t a company, any freelancer will work hard o impress you right off the bat.

Do check their reputation first. Befriending your potential freelance web designer on Linkedin is a good way to see if the person is really walking the talk. Or just . . . talking.

2. No Queues

Wait in line, little guy.

Big clients bring in big money for web development companies and so smaller clients often have to wait in line. Big jobs can go on for months, sometimes years. It’s no problem dropping an $8K website when you have three big contracts. In fact, why should a big company care about your little tiny website dream?

Freelancers don’t have big clients. Period. A too-big client would hog all their time and they’d quickly be out of business.

Once you have checked out their reputation, a good freelance web designer is theoretically the best person to make a really good website – one worthy of showcasing on a portfolio page.

Because their advertising budget is low, they need to do a good job. Word of mouth travels fast. So in general, you’ll find they respond to queries promptly In the scheme of things, you’re quite important. You’ll probably get a direct line, rather than having to wait in a queue or play he-said / she-said games with the receptionist and project manager.

Because any freelance web designer is used to working to a tight budget, their portfolio work and client testimonials page are often the best advertising for their services. And because the left hand and right hand belong to the same person, a freelancer can be a better communicator than an entire sales, marketing or communications department.

3. New Technology

Large companies are weighed down by process.

If you read any management book at all, you’ll discover that process is part of intellectual property (IP). IP is what a proprietor sells when he/she finally lets go of a business. In fact many business models are just a matter of breaking down process, making it more efficient and then selling the business for a premium when it hits a good profit streak.

The aim of identifying, measuring, categorising and then training a work methodology takes a long time to establish. In this industry (where the technology changes almost monthly) adjusting to change and effectively communicating those changes to staff can take time. And the web waits for no-one. So any process has to be fluid and informed by things like latest SEO practice and HTML5 or new responsive website specifications.

A freelancer can change as soon as new technology (such as responsive web design) hits the ‘net. There’s no complex chain of management for seeking approval. This could be why freelancers freelance. They don’t like playing Chinese Whispers and dislike office politics (and dreaded work parties).

A freelancer mostly just wants to do a great job and proudly sit you on a podium in their showroom.

4. Skills & Qualifications

Is the person building your website fully qualified?

Is your freelancer aware of industry best practices and coding standards? Or are there two, poorly paid twenty-somethings sitting in a back room, drinking coke while using Dreamweaver to build your website – without any real understanding about the underlying code?

If you go with a large company, your designer will probably be a cheap graduate because that’s where the money is. It’s likely that he or she will also be 100% responsible for the build of your site – responsible to the company bottom line – not to you and your website. The web agency boss probably knows very little about web design. More likely, he will be reading about how to maximise profit, how to expand, or how to franchise the web company. If he can pay a web designer $25/hr and out-charge him at $200/hr, then he’ll be okay. None of this is remotely related to your website. Except when it comes to price.

A skilled freelance web designer can build your entire website using Microsoft Notepad. Unlike the company boss, he/she is probably in love with code and design and that’s ultimately what your website is.

It’s quite a different volition.

5. Communication

Communication or Chinese Whispers?

You’re with a web firm and they’ve tasked a great project and marketing manager. The team seems to listen well – identifying your needs and suggesting appropriate solutions to your online empire. He or she is probably attractive. It’s customary to send an attractive (often opposite sex young person) out to meet clients.

All goes well.

Problems start when the person (who probably has a marketing background) communicates your website dream to designers and then programmers and then project or line managers. Communication quickly becomes a game of Chinese Whispers. YOU are several degrees of separation away from the people who are actually building your site. And in many cases, coders are outsourced – outside the country. The company boss doesn’t want you to meet that designer directly because he might tell you how little he’s getting paid.

How often have you heard, “I forwarded that info to our Content Manager on Tuesday. Oh. She didn’t get back to you? Hang on … Ah, yes it looks like she’s on maternity leave. I’m Mike – your new project manager. Is there anything I can help you with? Where are we up to?”

The point I’m trying to make is that nobody is really listening to you. I know this because I’ve been that guy not listening on behalf of a company. The guy not revealing just how little time the thing you want will take. The real cost. When your web guy is working for the man, he’s answerable to his bottom line – not yours.

A freelance web designer is directly answerable to clients. Good freelancers listen. Not all do, of course, but if you find one that does – hang on tight.

6. Volition / Raison d’etre / The point of it all

A freelance web designer isn’t in it for the money.

Freelance web developers are in the business because they want to build really smart websites that work for people – sites that bring in new sales and business opportunities. Freelancers love what they do. Their intent is yours : they want to build the best website possible – not pay superannuation and maternity leave to employees.

Freelancers also tend to shy away from doing jobs they aren’t interested in. Few build sites for money. It’s why they are freelancers. They want to code, not run a business. Like me, most don’t see a need to expand. They are happy to either design or code (or do both) up websites. They have NO overheads and fewer financial responsibilities. If they are doing well, there’s NO reason to say yes to a job. Company bosses are staring at payroll, super, time-in-lieu, maternity and sick leave paperwork while trying to work out how to turn a profit over those expenses.

7. Care

This is the big one.

Freelancers actually care about what they do.

I’m not being twee here. A freelance web designer’s career depends on how much they care. The website they build for you will be their own.

If I were you I’d want this to be the case. It is definitely NOT the case with a web design company. That site is solely yours once you pay the final invoice.

Check out any website made by a company. Any website at all. It’s not uncommon for companies to charge more than $10K for just a basic website. That money will get you a cracking good ecommerce, shopping cart, freelancer-built custom website. Often the job and resulting website functionality is exactly the same, but for one third the cost.

In Conclusion

The upshot of it all this is that a freelance web designer can’t charge an arm and a leg to build a basic website. If they are just starting out, you might get a crazy deal (think under $2,500 or a fully worked, smashing website). Most Freelancers rarely build expensive websites ecauseb that job could take them away from less intense but far more interesting pursuits. Freelancers aren’t in it for the money. I can promise you that. Otherwise, they’d start a company – and then franchise it.

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The 8 Elements of Modern Web Design Fri, 19 May 2017 20:16:23 +0000 The 8 Elements of Modern Web Design Every year, we see new elements and styles in website design begin to emerge. Some elements — when incorporated thoughtfully — help tell stories and explain your company. Other elements work to improve how … Continue reading

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The 8 Elements of Modern Web Design

The 8 Elements of Modern Web Design

Every year, we see new elements and styles in website design begin to emerge.

Some elements — when incorporated thoughtfully — help tell stories and explain your company. Other elements work to improve how content looks on a specific device. While it’s not necessary to include every trend that comes about on your website, many of them have the potential to improve your visitor’s experience.

But with so many options to choose from, it can be challenging to determine which ones are really worth considering. To help you narrow your focus, we’ve detailed eight important elements of modern website design that you can include to improve your site’s performance.

Element #1: Unique and Large Typography

Most companies have a particular font or typography that they use to help their customers immediately identify them versus their competitors. In recent years, designers have received a larger selection of fonts to choose from, making it easier for brands to more accurately express themselves through typography.

For example, The New Yorker is recognized instantly through their use of unique font, Adobe Caslon Pro. While more unique fonts, such as Blokletters-Balpen, have begun to be used by startups and technology companies like Zero.

The 8 Elements of Modern Web Design

Why is it useful?

Typography uses one design trend across the website to lead readers to different parts of the page. For instance, The New Yorker website leads visitors from one section to another based on the typography and font sizes.

When creating your company’s brand, your choice in typography can indicate subtle hints about who you are. Are you fun or serious? Functional or informational? Regardless of what font you choose, be sure that your designer considers its applicability across browsers and computers. Choosing a font that is not supported by common browsers and computers could mean that your website displays awkwardly on different devices.

Element #2: Large & Responsive Hero Images

You don’t have to go far beyond the popular publishing website to see an example of a large hero image:

Large images such as this one do away with the concept of above and below the fold. By focusing on just the image with text rather than a CTA or social buttons, Medium creates a strong visual experience that encourages you to scroll down to read more.

Large hero images are also often placed in the background with text and other content overlaid on top, like on Uber’s website. Regardless of the approach you utilize, large images can help visually tell your story without having to rely on just text.

Why is it useful?

Your customers are coming from all over the place and have high expectations. You may not be sure if they are finding your website from their phone, tablet, or desktop computer. The image that Medium uses above is extremely powerful, but if it was only visible from desktop computers, many people may miss it.

That said, ensuring your images are responsive makes for a good user experience. Website visitors can look at different images — whether they are the background or product images — and be able to get the same experience no matter what device they are coming from.

Element #3: Background Videos

Videos that automatically play in the background can add a lot to a page. They can be used to tell a story and significantly reduce the amount of other content that is needed to explain your business.

Let’s take Wistia‘s website, for example. When you land on their homepage a large video automatically starts playing in the background, and by clicking on the play button, you get a deeper look at Wistia:

The 8 Elements of Modern Web Design
This background video serves as a brilliant way to get the visitor engaged to click-through to the main video.

Why is it useful?

Background videos focus on enticing the visitor from the moment they land on your page. The video allows your visitor to understand the key points about your company without ever having to read a single line of text.

In addition, video is processed 60,000 times faster by our brains compared to text. While people are often hesitant to read heavy blocks of text, videos appear effortless and can be consumed very quickly. It also helps that connection speeds are increasing and mobile device sizes are growing, making for better video experiences.

Element #4: Semi-Flat Design

In 2013 Apple fundamentally shifted to flat design. Simply put, flat design is any element that does not include or give the perception of three dimensions, such as shadows. Not only is flat design is easier for users to comprehend, but it can also load more quickly on websites without complicated or overly-technical elements.

Following in Apple’s footsteps, many other organizations — both large and small — have shifted to flat design. However, company’s like Uber have put their own spin on the style by adding subtle shadows and dimensions. As you can see in the image below, the boxes have an element of depth with shadows around them, without overdoing it:

When you scroll over any of the boxes on the Uber homepage the shadow disappears and relieves the image behind it.

Why is it useful?

Flat design helps the visitor understand your content more quickly, and adding some elements of depth can bring it to life. Regardless of whether you fully design your website using flat design or utilize shadows and other elements, it’s important to be consistent throughout your website. Ensure that your homepage, product pages, and any other key sections of your website all utilize the same design cues so that visitors can instantly understand what they’re viewing.

Element #5: Hamburger Menus

It’s likely that most websites you come in contact with have a long menu of options to choose from. The advantage of this is that the menu can take the visitor directly to where they want to go. However, the disadvantage is that they generally take up a ton of valuable screen space.

The hidden, or hamburger, menu changes this. This menu was common in web applications before making it’s way to web design — even in Google Chrome you can find a hamburger menu on the right-hand side.

The 8 Elements of Modern Web Design

Source: UX movement

Wondering why it’s called a hamburger menu?

If you use your imagination, the three lines that are stacked on top of one another look like hamburger patties. Get it?

Why is it useful?

The pages of your website should have a clear path for the user to take. Removing a busy navigation makes the experience cleaner and distraction free. This improved experiences help to improve the likelihood that the user will find the information they need to complete a desired action.

Element #6: Giant Product Images

You may have noticed that many B2B websites are starting to display large product images on their sites to highlight different features or parts of their product. This is no coincidence.

To give you a better idea of what we’re talking about, let’s take a look at the product page for the HubSpot Website Platform:


The 8 Elements of Modern Web Design

There is a large featured image at the top of this page, and as you scroll down the page there are additional in-depth product images. The images are also responsive which aims to ensure an optimized experience for viewers coming from different devices, as we mentioned earlier.

Why is it useful?

Larger product images help designers highlight different features of a product in a more efficient and effective way.

This approach reinforces the benefits of a feature by providing the opportunity to highlight the most valuable pieces. For instance, in the second image, you will notice that there are numbers on the image corresponding with benefits of certain features.

These large images are also scan-friendly. They help visitors generate a solid understanding of what the different product features do by convey them through images instead of words.

Element #7: Card Design

With the rise of Pinterest, designers and marketers alike have become fascinated with cards. Individual cards help distribute information in a visual way so the visitors can easily consume bite-sized pieces of content without being overwhelmed.

Brit + Co’s homepage serves as a great example of card design in action:

By breaking up different pieces of content into cards, users can pick and choose which articles they want to expand. This helps to keep the homepage feeling clean and organized, without relying on a ton of text.

Why is it useful?

Card design is becoming more and more popular across B2B and B2C websites because it helps to deliver easily digestible chunks of information for users. Using this design on your site can help highlight multiple products or solutions side-by-side.

Keep in mind that your cards should be responsive. This means that as the screen size gets smaller or larger, the number and size of cards shown should adapt accordingly.

Element #8: Short Product or Feature Videos

In addition to background videos, companies are also beginning to use short product or feature videos to highlight a specific use case. These short videos are great at bringing your solution to life, while not overwhelming the visitor with a long experience that they must sit through.

A strong example of this comes from the folks at InVision. They display this short illustrator of how easy it is to use their product by dragging-and-dropping a design directly on their homepage:

The 8 Elements of Modern Web Design

Why is it useful?

According to Inc. Magazine, 92% of B2B customers watch online video, and 43% of B2B customers watch online video when researching products and services for their business. Therefore, B2B companies need to create videos that explain their products because it is influential in the buyer’s decision-making process.

These short videos allow for your prospect to quickly understand value without watching a really long, in-depth experience. Sure, both have value, but the shorter videos allows for quick understanding that is best for top of the funnel.

What other design elements are important to incorporate into your website? Let us know in the comments section below. 


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What to do before creating a website Fri, 19 May 2017 18:23:56 +0000 What to do before creating a website Building a good website means having a game plan in place for your content, images, layout, and general user experience. The website should have immediate appeal to your target audience, doing a good … Continue reading

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What to do before creating a website

Building a good website means having a game plan in place for your content, images, layout, and general user experience.

The website should have immediate appeal to your target audience, doing a good job of describing what the brand is, what it does, and how visitors can benefit from its products or services. Even an information-based site such as a news blog can achieve these goals if it thinks of its content as a product, and its news gathering as a service for the visitor.

Often, the things you do before you start actually putting the site together can make a big difference on the outcome. It might seem appealing to simply find a good pre-assembled site and refine from there, but if you have a plan in place for the site’s content beforehand, you will be much better positioned to achieve your goals.

In this article, we will go over some of the things you should consider before building your next website.

Written Content

What to do before creating a website

If your website were a painting, your written content is the paint. It is the most important component of your site, and you want to consider what you want to say before you start assembling the page.

The way your content is written will ultimately define your brand on the page. How one block of information flows into the next is every bit as much a part of the written copy as it is the layout of the site.

You may not have every piece of information at the ready during the initial build, but it is always good to have most of it done before you do. This will help immensely when you get to the layout phase of the build, as the length of paragraphs, headlines, and other written components will look a lot better when the layout is built around them, instead of the other way around.


What to do before creating a website

How your site looks depends a lot on the images you use. Do you want big, bold images that are overlaid with written content, or do you want them to accent the site more subtly?

Figure out what images you want to use on the front page, as well as the subpages, and how you would like them to look. This will help a lot when it comes time to set up the layout.

The logo is also a part of this phase as it will need space to shine on the final build. It could also help determine the color scheme for the site, as one that plays off the logo will be less likely to clash in an unpleasant way down the line.

If you are building a website for a brick-and-mortar store, having a big image of the storefront displayed prominently on the front page can be a great idea. If you go into the build knowing this, you will have a much clearer idea of what you need to do to make it work.

Plan Visitor Flow

What to do before creating a website

How do you want visitors to navigate through your site? Do you want the front page to be a functional part of the online shopping experience, or an introduction to your brand? Do you want to have an About, Contact, and a Blog page?

This is all information that becomes increasingly more important as you go through the build process. Consider the role each page will play in the final product, and what you need to make those pages work.

This is a great opportunity to create or request written copy for these pages, as they are often overlooked in favor of the front page during initial planning.

The more hurdles a visitor has to jump through to become a converted customer, the less likely they are to do so. Consider how easily someone can find the information or make a purchase from the front page to the confirmation page.

This is where planning the main menu, supportive menus (sidebar, footer, etc.), search, and other navigational components occurs. It will make creating the layout a lot easier.

Sketch Your Layout

Once you have the written content and images in mind, you will want to sketch out a rough idea of what the layout will look like. Consider where certain components will go, and how they flow into one-another as the visitor scrolls down the page.

This is an important step, especially if you are working with clients that need to approve the design. It will enable you to receive feedback on the design before you have to actually put in a lot of development work.

This is also a great time to take a look at any themes or templates you might use to speed up the development process. Instead of building your site around a template, you would be finding one that best fits your concept. Again, putting you in a position where you can easily transition from concept to final product.

When you are building your next website, consider these important steps. They will help you to build a better, more complete experience for your visitors at a much faster pace than you could if you tried to match your content to a pre-existing layout.

This is one of the reasons I design its templates and themes in a way that makes their layout as fluid and adaptable as possible. With a little work, and the right planning ahead of time, you can create a site that is set up for success from day one.

Do you have any tips for website planning? Please leave a comment below and let us know.

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