Category: Web Design

04
Jan

Sixth Gear’s 2016 Resolutions!

There is something about starting a new year in business. If last years marketing campaigns or rebranding efforts didn’t really make the cut there is always another year to step your game up, the only question is where to start?

Narrowing down your brand’s “New Years Resolutions” may seem like a resolution in itself, but we’ve got a little guide that will help you outline your 2016 strategy.

#1 Social Media Musts

This is the year to really take your social media efforts seriously. It seems to be an after thought for many small businesses when it should be at the forefront of your marketing regime. Social media has quickly become a necessity for any brand looking to have a competitive edge within their industry, and 2016 will be no different.

Every year new social media platforms are introduced to the public, and businesses in all industries hop on to make their connections with current and potential customers. Your resolution will be to actively participate and utilize your social media accounts to better your business. Posting is just the beginning, this year take an initiative to learn each platform and how to best use analytics to improve how you market your content and connect on the web.

#2 Responsive Design Do’s

Responsive web design is no longer just a trend. Having a website that is easy to navigate on mobile devices is essential to having a strong web presence in your industry. The vast majority of leads lost is due to having an out of date website that cannot be viewed correctly on devices like iPhones and tablets.

Search engines like Google have already begun taking away points to those websites that do not follow the responsive design guidelines. Search engines want the best websites to be fully viewable and accessible for individuals using their search engine, and if your website doesn’t abide then your organic search engine rankings will start to fall off. Your resolution this year if you haven’t already made the switch is to have your website transitioned into a fully responsive design.

#3 Branding Benefits

Your visual identity is often defines your brand, and it needs to be clear, aesthetically pleasing and bold. If you’ve felt that your brand hasn’t had the same response it did years ago or isn’t really catching on with your customers, 2016 might mean the year you consider a rebrand or tweak of your current elements.

Some of the biggest brands in the world have seen branding changes in the course of their history. Updating your brand doesn’t mean a complete overhaul… although sometimes that is needed. Simple changes or a focus on branding other key items in your business like print collateral, social media etc. could help you up your industry game and be the bold choice your customers are looking for. This year’s branding resolution is to take a look at your brand as a whole and decide what works, what doesn’t and what could be improved for a bigger impact.

#4 Web Design Wants

Nothing says a new year like a few web updates. Trends will come in go throughout 2016 but that doesn’t mean you should ignore all of them. A few aesthetic updates on your business’s website will be able to give you a fresh look without redesigning the entire site.

Areas like the navigation bar and home page are simple spots that could change the way your customers use your website without shaking it all up. Your web design resolution is to take a look at your current website and decide if it is organized in a way that is conducive for searching and appealing to your current and potential demographic.

#5 Content Marketing Challenges

If you thought content marketing was going to quietly go away, then we need to sit down and break the news to you… it is here to stay. Content comes in various forms whether it be a blog, post or graphic. We are living in an age where there is always new content being added online, and your business will need to be as active.

Areas of content marketing like blogging are a great way to keep up and stay sharp. If elements of your business like your website are never being updated with new content your organic search rankings could start to see a serious drop. If your competitors are consistently posting and putting out new media they will soon become the desirable option to the majority of audiences that search online for products, services or speciality businesses. This year your content marketing resolution will be to put out a blog a minimum of every two weeks, so that you can remain where you are on the industry totem pole.

Now, we aren’t saying these resolutions need to all be accomplished within the first month, but make this year the year you stick to your businesses resolutions and start to see the perks of it all.

We wish all of our past, present and future clients a happy and prosperous new year, cheers!

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03
Dec

All Is Branding & Bright

It’s that time of year when the world falls in love… with branding. When you’re a big or small business the holidays = marketing mayhem. It is the main time of the year to pull out all of the stops and show your customers what you’ve got.

So, what makes a brand really shine during the holidays?

#1 Silver & Website Gold

All year long your visual identity is the driving force behind your marketing campaigns, and the holiday season is no different. This is the time of year to add a little seasonal sprucing to your entire brand. First off is your website. There is no need to revamp your entire website for the holiday season, however you can utilize your home page to showcase specials and discounts giving your brand a good name in customer satisfaction.

Before hitting the stores the majority of customers go to the web to look up local deals and specials, so you want to make sure your website reflects current campaigns. Although this is the time of year to step up your marketing it doesn’t mean you should loose sight of the branding efforts and identity you have previously been pushing, you still want your customers to recognize your brand even under all of the silver and gold.

#2 Have Yourself A Social Little Christmas

Every great brand has a personality. Whether you are super serious or calm and inviting, that identity should be clear in every marketing campaign you do, including social media. During the holidays your social media platforms will be your best friend. They are there to give direct information to your target audience and give you a chance to showcase your brand’s personality. So before you post up your next special or holiday announcement pay attention to the wording and tone you use, keep in mind that even though it is the Christmas season you still have to carry on the persona you have worked so hard to develop online.

#3 And A Print Item in a Pear Tree

If there is one branded item to really focus on during the holiday season, it is your print collateral. Whether it is customer bags, brochures or inserts they should reflect your brand. Why? Because those items will still be around after the holidays and you want your customers to recognize your brand so it stays in their thoughts.

Many businesses see a lull after the holidays come and go, but not you. By including branded print collateral you will be the impressive business on your target audience’s mind and it will be the gift that keeps on giving.

Holiday marketing is one of the best times of the year. Share with us how you showcased your brand this year and how we can help take it to the next level in 2016!

25
Nov

Give Thanks to Your Website

The holiday season is all about sharing the love and giving back to those around you. Your website works tirelessly all year long to bring your business sales, traffic and above all, joy… so don’t you think it’s time to give thanks to your website?

#1 Let Your Website Get Stuffed on Content

Show your website you appreciate it’s hard work by feeding it new keyword friendly content, regularly. This will allow your website to work to it’s highest potential year round. It is important to keep your website content new and active so that search engines like Google can easily index your site and give you the organic search engine ranking your website and business deserves.

#2 Check the Turkey and Updates

Protect your website by always keeping plugins and security mechanisms up-to-date. There are so many viruses and hackers out there trying to put a damper on your holiday season, but don’t let them. Take the time to check in weekly to make sure all plugins are updated, there are no broken links or SPAM messages trying to attack your beloved website. The few minutes it will take to check in, could save you time and money from a hacked or virus filled website.

#3 Get Your Website Gussied Up

Show how thankful you are to your website by giving it a little makeover. Small changes and aesthetic updates are sometimes needed when a web design is a little past it’s prime. Trends change, and although we don’t have to follow the trends of each season, it is a great idea update your look every so often, so that your website can compete for best in show and give your customers something new to look forward to.

So remember to give thanks to your website this holiday season, and from your friends at Sixth Gear, have a Happy Thanksgiving.

03
Nov

This is the End… of-Year Marketing Tip

When you own a business it seems like the last two months of the year fly by. With holiday sales, events, etc., the whole end-of-year marketing strategy sometimes gets left behind. But not this year, this year is the year where you step up your game, so that when 2016 hits, you are prepared and already have great momentum.

#1 Use Your Social Media

Although social media is the popular girl in marketing, it isn’t just there to sit and look pretty it’s there to help your business grow. An endless stream of possibilities just waits for you on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. So what better way to spend a little of your end-of-year budget then on new graphics to entice new customers and post boosts. Boosting a post can open a whole range of new customer interaction and won’t drain your marketing piggy bank either.

#2 Spruce Up Your Website

One way to really utilize your end-of-year marketing budget is by being proactive before the next year starts, and your website is one of the areas that it could greatly impact. It is easy to keep pushing website updates on the back burner, because (A) your website might look okay as is, and (B) it functions, so why bother when you can get around to updates next year. But, let’s be honest, you said that in 2014.

Your website is the face of your business in many ways. Sure your logo and branding elements play a huge role in that, but your website is often the first interaction you have with new customers, so in make your first impression count. By adding a few new content & design tweaks you will be giving your brand a fresh look for the start of the New Year, and that fresh look may just be the edge you needed to stand out from your competitors’ 2013 web designs.

#3 Bright & Shiny Print Collateral

So you have done all of the website updates, you’ve spent a little on social media and you still have room for a few more marketing upgrades. New print collateral isn’t a bad way to start off the year or launch a new design. Think how great new rack cards or brochures would look at your business and show customers that you are ready to start things off in 2016 with a bang.

You don’t have to go on a huge budget spree to get the results you want. The small enhancements mentioned above are changes that can make a huge difference and be fairly simple and cost effective components of your total marketing strategy.

07
Oct

“The Importance of Being Updated” (Like the Importance of Being Earnest… haha get it)

Keeping up appearances is a necessary part of being a website owner. Although having a prim & proper exterior is a crucial aspect of your household’s good name, it isn’t the only element that needs adoration.

Maintaining your website will allow it to work to it’s full potential and prevent strife from hitting your business’s beloved marketing tool.

#1 Keep A Watchful Eye on Your Plugins

As an agency that primarily develops with WordPress, plugins are essentially the sugar to your tea. They are added aspects that enhance your website, but also keep it safe from harm. Keeping your plugins up-to-date will do more than help your website run efficiently, but it will keep it in pristine condition so it can deter potential hacking threats.

In the past few years, website hacking has become a burden among the online community that even the smallest of businesses have to be cautious of. Anti-malware plugins and security add-ons will be there to dismiss the less distinguished hacking groups and keep your websites reputation in good standing.

#2 A Good Appearance Will Earn You Good Prospects

Appearances can be everything when it comes to attracting suitable customers. Those who keep their websites up-to-date visually will appeal to new customers looking for a professional and proper business. Now, this doesn’t mean that every trend that comes through the web design world should be added to your site, but if you want to compete for your customer’s hand, than keeping up with the always changing times will be beneficial.

#3 Rules of Engagement

As trends in web design sweep through, so do the rules of your favorite search engines. The top search engines like Google & Bing are constantly changing their algorithms, and your website should abide to their demands. They are the reigning houses in the online community, and their rules trump your outdated design.

If they say “responsive”, your website says “of course, right on it”. Why you ask? If your website doesn’t keep up with the changing rules, it will be sitting alone at the SEO ball. Search engines determine how you are organically ranked, and if you website doesn’t keep up pace than it’s rankings will slip.

It is a complicated world your website takes part in, but you can make sure that it remains at the top of society’s standings by keeping an eye on plugins, trends and the every changing search engine rules…or hire someone (ahem) that will hand all of those things to you on a silver platter.

21
Sep

Becoming A Triple Threat

Some businesses are just born stars, while others have to put in the hard work to get to the top of their industry. Regardless of how you claw your way to the top, there are three elements needed in order to make Mama Rosa proud. (If you aren’t familiar with Broadway’s Gypsy, than that reference will make no sense to you.)

#1 Branding Baby

As you know, brilliant branding is the foundation to every great business. From the vision to logo, every facet needs be well thought out and well executed. No one wants to be in the chorus line forever, so you have to make your first impression count. How? Start with the basics and create a mission statement using your vision as a platform. Producing a clear intent for your customers will go a long way.

Make yourself pretty. If you want to be chosen by your target audience for the role of industry forerunner than you need to look the part. A graphic designer will essentially be your stage mom. They will make sure every visual aspect of your business cohesively works with your vision and gives a clean aesthetic customers will applaud.

#2 Into the Web

Since your branding work is just waiting in the wings, it is time to put it to work and implement its’ design qualities into your website. Why? Consumers like to see consistency and a well-rounded business. If you have a great mission but a lackluster website, than you won’t really have the whole package.

The key is to be proficient in every element. Your web design should leave the same impression as the rest of your brand so that customers will know it is you regardless if it is online or in store.

#3 A Social Line

Now that you have two core pieces down, it is time to introduce your social side. It is easy to have a great looking brand, but keeping your target demographic interested in that brand is another thing entirely. Social media allows you to showcase your vision and character to potential and existing customers.

A strong social campaign utilizes the top platforms including channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. The more the merrier. Why? Because not only is it a free way to market yourself, it is a direct line to consumers, and a facet of your company that says you are professional and ready to take this show to the top.

Your business has the ability to be a triple threat. It is a combination of perseverance, a clear vision and all that jazz… or a great design. So, are you ready to hit the stage?

28
Aug

Anatomy of the Web Design Vol. 1

The anatomical elements of a website vary depending on the needs of your business. Although every web design is different, their are three vital “organs” that ensure your website is functioning as a whole.

Your Home Page is Where the Heart Is

Considering your “Home” page may be the first interaction your customers or clients have with your business, it is imperative that you put your heart and soul into it. This is the area to not only attract your target audience with aesthetics, but present them with your vision and purpose.

A well designed and professional home page should have a clear focus. Too many times you see a cluttered or overwhelming page that has no direct purpose, so the solution is to have a clean design that is easy to navigate through, showcases your brand’s vision and offers a visually appealing first impression.

About Your Brand’s Internal Qualities

Although your “About” page may not seem like an important aspect of your website, it actually has a huge impact on the value customers place on your business. As a consumer we often look for validation in a company. Do they have experience or are they a qualified provider? These questions often help us determine if as a consumer we want to contact for further information or purchase a product.

So even though you might think this is a wasted page on your website, to your future customers this might be the element that helps them commit to your brand and services.

Contact for Assistance

A “Contact” page is the backbone of your website. The purpose of your site is to attract customers to contact for more information, hence the importance of a page dedicated to this function. An easy to use contact form is the best way to capture leads by email and open a conversation. One thing to keep in mind is to always include your business’s direct contact information, as some individuals like to have a personal interaction straight away instead of utilizing a web-based form.

The anatomy of a web design is simple. Your home page is the heart of the website, the about section serves as an internal function and your contact form is the backbone that’s sole purpose is to generate solid leads. With these core pages present, your website will be strong, healthy and ready to be an active source for your business.

26
Jun

Websites in Wonderland

Some websites seem to fall down the rabbit hole, or just don’t exist. This is a problem. W..H..Y? Because in order for your customers to find your brand online, you need to have an active website.

Your business’s website is the key that unlocks the door to new customer traffic. Those customers need a platform to be able to search for product information or services your business offers. Don’t let yourself become a DoDo bird and disappear from your customer’s radar. Have a website that is responsive, unique and full of SEO friendly content.

Chapter One : A Content Race

Content is more important than you might think. Not only does it give your customers information to read, it helps your organic search engine rankings, which will ultimately get customers through your doors.

An easy way to get your website to the top of the list when customers utilize search engines, is to blog. By publishing a new blog each week using keywords and phrases relevant to your business, you are creating new opportunities for search engines to index that content and in turn making your website more likely to show up a top the search results for those words or phrases. It is a race between you and your competitors to get that top search spot, so be consistent and try to be original.

Chapter Two: A Mad Design

Having a great website design is not only visually engaging for your prospective customers, but it allows you to set yourself apart from your industry’s competitors.

Since we live in a visual world, it isn’t enough to just have a website, you have to have a design that impresses too. Using your brand color palette and logo as a foundation will help your web designer create a platform that is cohesive, but unique to your industry. This doesn’t mean you have to go completely mad, but offer your customers a creative, yet easy to navigate website.

Chapter Three: We Are Painting the Website Responsive

Responsive websites are not just an option anymore, they are a necessity. Having a website that is optimized to be viewed on multiple electronic devices is crucial, as the majority of individuals searching on the internet are using mobile devices and tablets.

Search engines are now penalizing websites that do not utilize a mobile friendly design. Why? Because search engines want top quality websites at the top of their search, and a design that does not cater to the user experience, does not make the cut.

It is a competition out there. Regardless of the industry you are in, you need to have a presence online, and a website is your answer.

05
Jun

Four Ways to Increase Your Website Traffic

As a business owner you know that increased website traffic means more potential customers or clients… but what are you actually doing to increase that traffic? It is a common misconception that you have to pay top dollar in order to get a steady stream of traffic coming through your website. Although the use of online ads and SEO specialists will be able to give you everything your heart desires, there are things you can do on your own in order to start getting your website where you want it.

#1 Use Social Media

Never underestimate the power of social media. By creating pages for your business on multiple platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Linked In, you are opening the door to new customers. Engaging posts, imagery and links to your website, are three elements that are needed in order to get the new traffic moving. One thing to keep in mind is that it won’t happen overnight. Social media management requires a commitment in order to provide the website results you crave, and need.

#2 Don’t Discount Email Marketing

Sending out mass emails may seem like dated marketing methods with all the fancy smancy options available but the bottom line is they work! Having an email list can be key to website traffic success. Creating links to blogs or important sections within the website on your monthly or weekly newsletter will get customers from the email to your site, with the click of a button. Make sure your email utilizes a creative headline to capture your customer’s attention.

#3 Have We Mentioned That You Should Blog

Blogging is no joke, especially when it comes to building up your website traffic. Consistently writing new content for your website is what drives your search engine rankings up. Clever titles and filling out the blog with keyword rich material isn’t always easy, but it will give you results. Like social media, blogging is a commitment. Writing a post every other month, may not be enough depending on how saturated your industry is. In order to get your website on the top of it’s rankings we would recommend anywhere from daily to weekly or at the least bi-weekly postings.

#4 A Responsive Website Is Must

As mentioned in our blog last week, Google and other search engines have or are in the stages of changing their algorithms to penalize websites that are not responsive and mobile friendly. Why? Because in order to create a quality user experience, individuals need to be able to view your website on any electronic device. Those who have responsive websites are now seeing their sites climbing the search engine rankings, which means… more website traffic.

You don’t have to invest thousands when it comes to increasing your website traffic, you just have to invest your time. By consistently putting out quality content in your blog, or creating links within your e-blast, your business has the opportunity to get a slice of that sweet online traffic pie.

29
May

Mobilegeddon… The Aftermath

April 21, 2015 marked the day the internet world would change forever (well, at least until Google changes it again in 6 months). Google rolled out an unforgettable algorithm that would have a catastrophic affect on websites around the world.

Their mission, to destroy websites that are not mobile friendly…well not destroy, but penalize them. Why? Because non-responsive websites aren’t user friendly, and Google is looking out for the user experience. Thank you Google.

As a non-responsive website owner you might be asking, why would they do this to us? Google isn’t trying to blast your web dreams into a million pieces, but simply save online searchers from the pain and suffering of looking through a non-responsive websites on their smartphones and tablets.

Is a non-responsive site really that terrible to look at on a mobile device? Yes, yes it is. With the small print, closely placed lines and tiny navigation bar, it is one of the most frustrating ways to search for a product, service or business. With mobile and tablet devices being some of the top platforms to browse on, having a website that caters to the non-desktop users is a necessity for two reasons. First, with Google’s change in algorithm, your organic search engine rankings will be affected if your website is not mobile friendly. The “deep impact?” That #1 spot your business holds for organic searches is no longer secure. Without the upgrade to a responsive and mobile-ready design, you might be pushed down to page 3 or worse, due to the lack of mobile adaptiveness. The second reason is your customer’s sanity. The website user should be able to easily click on a menu item and read content without having to pull out a magnifying glass in order to grab information. So, even if they do find you on page 3 of the Google search, there is a good chance the customer will quickly exit your page because of its’ navigation and readability issues.

The roll out of Google’s latest mission had a slow start, but non-responsive websites are starting to see a shift in the internet’s crust. Rankings are changing, and businesses are starting to see the importance of responsive website design. Although Google is the first of its’ kind, search engines like Bing are following closely behind waiting to detonate their “mobile friendly” bomb.

The solution is simple. Take the time to switch to a responsive design before you draw the short straw and get left behind on page 3, for Mobilegeddon is already upon us.