Category: Web Design

01
May

Ring the Alarm: Building a Brand (Through Beyonce Song Titles)

Every new business has to start somewhere. Knowing the amount of design and marketing work needed to create a successful venture can be overwhelming to a small business owner, which is why so many overlook the key elements that have now become a necessity in order to stay competitive. There is no need to be Jealous of your competitors, because starting from the ground up allows you to create an original vision with a sturdy foundation.

Listen, we’ve got you bae. Building a brand is a huge undertaking, but it also the start to your businesses successful future. This week we are going to break down which items are on your brand building checklist, and why they will be important down the road.

#1 Say My Name

Your domain name is no joke. When new businesses are throwing around names they hardly even consider if they can get a domain name that aligns. Even though the name you’ve chosen may be Irreplaceable, make sure a website domain is available or a similar variation will cohesively work.

Often small businesses will choose a website domain that may not include the name of their business, and find that customers have a difficult time finding them online. The closer your domain is to your actual business name, the easier your website will be found. Why is this important? The more individuals you drive to your website, the more opportunities you create to make them a customer. (Not to mention it will help your search engine rankings).

#2 If I Were a Brand

Brand development. This is the time to think about Me, Myself and I. Your branding elements should ultimately reflect the vision you have for your business. If you are an existing entity with a brand that falls flat don’t be afraid to Start Over.

Decide how you want to be perceived by customers? How your product or service is unique? And what style/personality traits you are looking to project? Once these questions are addressed you can give your designer the Green Light to develop a logo that represents who you are as a company, and what it is you are providing. The design and content created for your brand will serve as the structure for future marketing and aesthetics, and is why your branding needs to have a strong concept that will last over time.

#3 Flawless, Web Design

Since web design is one of the more costly branded aspects, small business owners tend to either leave it out of their plans altogether or go for the bare minimum to save. Your website may be one of the first interactions your customers have with your business, so it needs to be able to say Hello with a striking design and user-friendly experience.

By investing in a responsive web design that is aesthetically pleasing with easy navigation, you are creating an opportunity for your target audience to leave your website with a sound impression. So many individuals make purchasing decisions based on the quality of a website, so if it means spending a little more to ensure you receive a top of the line design and structure, than it is worth it.

#4 Crazy in Love with Content

In reading social media posts, blogs or resources on your website, your target demographic should be able to get a clear sense of your brand. Copy provides numerous opportunities to really reach out to potential or existing customers. By giving useful tips in social posts or sharing recent news through blogs your business is opening up the floor to create further discussion and interest, which could turn into a sale or lead.

Another reason why content is the Diva of your branding checklist is because it works to drive customers to your website. By adding new content regularly you are nurturing your website so it can be properly indexed by search engines like Google and Bing. In providing original, keyword friendly copy, your business will be optimized for increased search engine visibility making it easier for customers to find you and your products.

#5 Run the World

With the right domain, branding, web design and content you are situated to Blow your competitors away. A solid foundation for your business starts with building your brand and from there you can grow anywhere.

 

Beyonce Photo Credit: This image, which was originally posted to Flickr.com, was uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on 03:30, 8 June 2010 (UTC) by Truu (talk).

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26
Feb

Handsome Lonely Website Seeking Visitors

Feeling lonely on the world wide web? Have you ever considered that maybe the reason no one visits your website is because they can’t see you? You might be missing out on opportunities to connect with potential customers, patients, or clients. So what do you say we try on some new ideas and get you back out there?

Beautiful Blog Seeking Search Engine

Could a blog will be the one you’re website has been waiting for? The issue you are having with customers unable to find you online could be because the content on your website hasn’t changed. In today’s website scene, there needs to be a consistent stream of new content.

Sounds great, but I am sure you are wondering how to generate new material on your website? Easy, a blog. A big beautiful blog added to your website weekly or bi-weekly will do wonders when it comes to snagging new online visitors. Why? Because it is how you stay in control of your organic search engine rankings.

Ever wonder how a website comes up in a search? Search engines like Google or Bing aren’t looking at your creative web design, they are interested in the text within it. Keywords and original content are the elements that make a blog beautiful. To avoid being forgotten by search engines your business will need to be proactive and consistent when it comes to copy. Make sure you are always adding new quality entries to your website that utilize the keywords your potential customers or patients will search for, that way you content can be indexed, ranked and made accessible to your searching customers.

Miss Mobile Seeking Responsive Web Design

Do you know how many individuals search on their smartphones for stores, services, blogs, products, etc.? Around 80%. Woah… didn’t think it was that high did you? Having a mobile friendly website is no joke and we are here to tell you why.

With such a high percentage of individuals searching on their smartphones why wouldn’t you want to create the best mobile experience possible? Responsive web design allows for your website to be aesthetically pleasing, readable and navigation ready on all electronic devices. No more struggle to view tiny text or battling to scroll across a navigation bar. Instead your website will automatically resize to the device being used, meaning more people will be more likely to view your website and stay on it.

Social Butterfly Seeking Wallflower Website

A commonly missed opportunity to drive traffic to your website stems from social media. Why? Well social media allows you to connect with customers and other businesses with a simple click.

By creating business pages on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., you are creating immense opportunities… and did we mention it’s free? The beauty of social media is that you can market your business without a budget and ultimately drive traffic to your website. Sure there are paid ad campaigns you can run or daily boosts you can invest in, but you don’t need to in order to be successful. All you need are professional looking cover photos, a link to your website and engaging posts.

Using social media as a platform to connect seems more complicated than it is. The idea is simple. Be present and connect. By following those two key ideas your interested followers will seek out more information which just so happens to be on your website… get the big picture?

Feel like you are ready to get back in the game? With a responsive web design, blog, and social presence you will be the new stud on campus and we couldn’t be more proud. Welcome to the world of new website traffic.

16
Jan

So You Think You’re Ready for a Web Designer?

You have a new business or your website was made in the year 2000… what you need is a web designer. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. In order to get your new website up and running there are a few things you need to do before you say yes to the designer. This week we will outline your pre-website checklist that will ensure you have a seamless and manageable web design experience. Also, your future designer (cough cough) will love you for it!

#1 Get it together will ya!

Focus your thoughts. It is good to look at other websites for inspiration, but before you send a list of links to your web design team, narrow it down. If you give ten completely different layout styles then your first design mock up will more than likely be a disappointment. Narrow the scope by deciding which aspects you absolutely need for your website and which elements are up to the discretion of the designer, that way there is zero confusion and a clear direction.

#2 Content Completion

There are many things that need to be accomplished in order to complete a new website, and content is one of the areas you play the biggest role in. Good hearty content takes time to create and compile and with it being such an important aspect of your website, it is crucial to do it right. Start with keywords you know your customers will search for and gear your content towards information that includes those keywords naturally. If you are not fond of your writing skills construct a full outline of information and bullet point items that way a copywriter can easily jump in and generate some creative and keyword rich text.

#3 Money will never grow on trees, so know your cap.

If you are shopping around for quotes, know your budget. For example, if your budget absolutely cannot go above three grand, make sure the agency knows that, because if their minimum for a website starts at five thousand, you are wasting both parties’ time. Although having a budget in mind is key, having some wriggle room could help your cause. This website will represent your business, so you want it done right. If a great design team sends a proposal that is slightly more than what you had in mind, be open to the opportunity because a well designed responsive website is really a long term investment that works for you 24/7.

#4 Timeline

Be realistic. It takes time to design, develop and build out a website. If you need a website in a week, it’s not going to happen. Figure out when you need your website and be sure to seek out a designer that can work within the proper time restraints. This is not a piece of business you want to rush and in order to get your dream website there are proper steps to follow that cannot be done overnight. Be patient and great designs will come.

You are ready… well, once you have taken on this list you are ready! Your website is more than likely the first interaction you have with a customer, so make it a memorable first impression and say hello with a clean, easy to navigate and branded web design.

23
Dec

Did Your Business Make the Naughty or Nice List?

Have you been a nice small business this year? The clock is ticking with only a day left until Saint Nick makes his appearance, so to make sure you end up on the nice list we are going to take you through the musts of 2014.

Have You Been A Scroogey Small Business?

One way to end up on the naughty list this year is by not giving back to your customers. Through deals, customer loyalty programs and thank you e-blasts, your customers will notice your dedication, which goes a long way. Loyalty programs are one of the best ways to gain returning customer traffic, so what do you have to loose?

Be A Part of Whoville

Even the Grinch ended up joining the merry circle of Whoville, so have you supported your small business community this year? Well lets just say you did. By supporting other small businesses like yourself, you are opening a whole world of opportunity. Businesses that work well together, help each other out. The chances of getting customer referrals or cross promotion will greatly increase if you support others in your community directly or through platforms like Facebook.

Socializing Sally

Utilizing your social media is another must of the year. Connecting with your customer base and driving traffic to your website is the ultimate goal in social media marketing. Whether you are posting daily or weekly any little bit helps and will keep you business active and engaging. Do right by your small businesses by including social media into your marketing strategy.

Responsive Rhonda

This is the biggy. The one item that will absolutely get you on the nice list this holiday is a responsive website. Too long have businesses subjected their customers to a website that looks terrible on a tablet or smartphone. Its time to do the right thing if you haven’t already and go responsive. With more and more of the general public searching on digital devices other than their computers you want to make sure your website is equipped to fully function regardless of the screen size.

If you don’t have any of these items checked off on your 2014 to do list, there is always next year. We can’t help your small business with the coal you might get Christmas morning but we can set you up for success in 2015. Take on the year with all the necessary elements to keep your customer base satisfied and your small business on top of it’s industry.

05
Dec

The Twelve Tips of Christmas

Twelve Writers Writing

Content is key. Over the past year we have written multiple blogs about the importance of including keyword rich material in your website. Consistent new copy on your site will engage your active customers and enhance your SEO efforts. So, whether you have one or twelve writers writing, get frequent content out there to be read by customers and indexed by the top search engines.

Eleven Responsive Websites

A responsive website is not just a trend, it is a necessity. In order to stay competitive your website needs to be easily accessible for all… meaning readable on all electronic devices. Don’t make your customers squint and get frustrated while looking at your website. Make sure it is responsive and looks good on all phones, tablets and computers, no matter the size.

Ten Logos Leading

Logo-A-Go-Go was among a few of the many blogs we wrote about the importance of a well-designed logo. Your logo is a key element of your brand. It is the symbol, mark or signature your customers relate to and place a value on. A logo should be timeless, simple and versatile in order to make a statement like these ten leading logos below.

ten_logos_leading

Nine Creative Spaces

We’ve said it once, and we will say it many more times. The space you work in can greatly affect your creativity and productivity. Creative spaces should feel creative, and color has a lot to do with that. Dark and grey tones can drag down your mood while blues and yellows give off a sense of calmness and positivity. Natural light is another must have in a creative space and has been known to enhance productivity. Check out Google’s Headquarters and see how some of the best creative’s work!

Eight Marketing Must Haves

Implementing a marketing strategy for your business isn’t as difficult as it may seem. With these eight elements, you have the ability to market your small business like a pro.

  1. Do your research. Take a look at your competitors and marketing campaigns that have been successful in your industry. Getting a background is the best way to outline your marketing game plan.
  2. Know who you are marketing to. Know who your target audience is. If you market to the general public, you may have a hard time reaching them. Narrowing the spectrum will increase your chances of implementing a successful campaign.
  3. Cohesive Brand. Your branding should be visible on all marketing materials. Take Target for example; whether it’s Christmas or summer their branding elements are apparent on all marketing items.
  4. Content Marketing. Blogs are your best friend. Offer your target audience helpful tips or information about your product or business via your website. This will drive new website traffic and potentially increase their viewing time on the site.
  5. Email Marketing. Email marketing is still as effective as ever. Provide useful content or specials to your customer base and reach them on an alternate marketing platform.
  6. Social Media. Social media essentially equals free advertising. You can post product photos or content that will automatically show up on your followers news feed. It is simple and accessible for all.
  7. Engage Customers. Engage your customers on social media or in store. Giveaways are great way engage your target consumer.
  8. Quality Visuals. There is nothing that turns a consumer off more than poor quality media. If you are going to use imagery (which you should) make sure it gives you the professional look you need.

Seven Social Winnings

Social media is a great way to interact and reach your customer base. These seven tips ensure you are getting the most out of your social media posting.

  1. Use professional quality visuals to attract customers to your post.
  2. Post frequently, but not obnoxiously.
  3. Respond to negativity calmly, than find a solution for both parties.
  4. Use relevant hashtags to expand your audience.
  5. Brand your social pages with your logo, color palette and professional cover photos.
  6. Keep posts short, but informative.
  7. Utilize the opportunity to engage customers, through giveaways and tips.

Six Designer Cravings

2014 has brought a year of web and graphic design trends. Here are the top six worth giving a look for your new website or re-design.

  1. Flat Website Design
  2. Large Home Page Imagery
  3. Motion Graphics
  4. Mix N’ Match Typography
  5. Parallax Scrolling
  6. Minimalist Design

Five Standout Titles

The best way to get your blog noticed is by having a great title. Here are five ideas to help your title standout.

  1. Be unique in your title choice. Generic will get your blog lost in a sea of blah.
  2. Be accurate. Make sure your title makes sense in regards to the blog content.
  3. SEO friendly. Use keywords in your title to boost your organic search ranking.
  4. Short & Sweet. Too long a title can turn off readers.
  5. Enticing. Think about the titles that attract you and use it as a base.

Four Compelling Blogs

Blogs are abundant in today’s content marketing world, which is why you need to have a compelling body of copy.

  1. Start with the title. Choose a title that will catch your readers attention.
  2. Play around with formats. Change it up and write in paragraphs or lists to keep it interesting.
  3. Use a visual. Giving you blog a visual will do wonders. The average person responds better to visual content over text, so give the people what they want!
  4. Don’t write a book. A blog is meant to give helpful or useful information, not compete with the length of War and Peace. Keep it short so that your readers will be more likely to finish the post.

Three Great Brands

A great brand is able to withstand time, has a logo that emulates an emotional connection and its’ name is why consumers choose them. These three brands have all hit those marks.

three_great_brands

Two Tweeting Don’ts

Try not to over tweet and whatever you do… do not send Twitter SPAM, don’t be that business.

And a Website with SEO, Please

Search engine optimization should always be on your mind. The better your organic search engine rankings are, the more visits your website will receive. A stagnant website with no new content will become static noise in the search engines eyes, but a website that has new content will makes it alive and kicking and will make a big difference in your website’s overall visibility.

Disclaimer: The logos used in this post are registered trademarks owned by their respective companies of which Sixth Gear LLC is not affiliated with or sponsored by.

21
Aug

Top 3 Components of a Killer Website

Having a website for your business is a necessity, but in order stay competitive your website needs to be more than the $99 template available from every web hosting company in the marketplace. Your online presence is dependent on a well designed and user friendly website that can be easily found through the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. We are going to highlight the three crucial components of a successful website below and if you find yourself noticing you are lacking in one or more of these areas give us a call so we can find a solution to get you back on track!

Design

This is often the element our clients consider first when asking for our assistance in developing a website for their business. Design can be broken down into to key areas in respect to website design, branding and user experience. When Sixth Gear designs a website for a client we are ensuring that the look, feel, colors, typography, etc. are cohesive with the rest of that client’s brand and in situations where the brand has not been developed yet we would approach the project from a different angle to help craft the brand before ever diving into the website side of the project. Secondly, when designing a website we are conscious of creating a positive user experience by using a hierarchy to highlight important topics and call-to-actions to help visitors transition to key areas of the website.

Content

There are so many sources out there claiming content is king, and we couldn’t agree more. Content is not only how your target audience gets to know you, but it assists in your overall website visibility. SEO is a term that every business owner likely associates with their website. Website content is what drives positive search engine rankingss and is why your content should be strategically crafted to included natural phrasing of keywords and phrases you are trying to rank positively for. In addition to making your content SEO friendly it needs to be enticing. The content on your website is the platform where customers get a sense of your brand. The tone and phrasing you use projects a persona and helps reinforce your business’s voice and engage readers.

Functionality

As we mentioned above, an easy to use website will do wonders for the time your customers spend on a page. Easily accessible content, company information and call-to-actions will make the user experience a pleasant one. Navigating a website should be effortless to the user, and is why the placement of information and search bars needs to be organized. A common reason customers click off of a website is due to it’s inability to direct a clear path to key information and is why a functional design will enhance the overall participation of website visitors.

Your website is the face of your business. The functionality, content and design are all factors in the success of your online presence. Web design is constantly evolving but the three elements mentioned today are classics when it comes to the foundation of a killer website.

28
Jul

Top Three Tips to Simplify Your Website Before It Becomes A Hot Mess!

Clutter. The one word that should never go hand in hand with web design, yet so many fall subject to a crowded design that is visually overwhelming and content heavy. So, this week we wanted to give our top three tips to simplify your website and get you on track to having an aesthetically pleasing and user friendly design!

Organize & Prioritize

What many people often forget is that you have an entire website to put content in. The home page is meant to be the face of your website and give a glimpse at what is to offer on the other pages. Prioritizing your content so that it reflects the crucial elements your customer base has an interest in will give you the outline necessary to have an effective and cohesive user friendly layout.

Limit Your Pages

A navigation bar should be the easiest portion of the website to access. Utilizing drop down menus is a great option in order to simplify and organize your information. It is difficult to decide what categories should possess specific content, however by breaking down subjects your potential consumer will be able to access the information with a simple click as opposed to searching though paragraphs of text.

It’s Not All About The Bling Bling

Call to action buttons, multiple colors and typefaces are appropriate, in moderation. Your home page is meant to draw customers in, but too many aesthetic elements can cause visual chaos. Call to actions are essential to drive website visitors to take action but one or two is all you need to be successful in doing so. An abundance of buttons all over the place will come off as aggressive and desperate to your target audience. Colors and typefaces can be combined to work cohesively in a design as long as there is a limit. More than a few various tones and fonts can be a turn off to a new consumer base and a confusing aspect to your brand. Keeping your home page within the realm of colors and typefaces specific to your brand will tie the look together and define who you are to your existing and potential customers.

Organize, prioritize and limit are the three tips Sixth Gear believes will take your website to the next level. Simplifying your layout is the most effective way to increase the user experience and clarify your brand’s message. Share with us how you plan to declutter your website and upgrade your brand!

23
Jun

In Progress Case Study: Connection Festival

Typically we wait until a project is complete before featuring it as a case study but we are so excited to be a part of Connection Festival that we wanted to give a little sneak peek into the project. A few months back we had the honor of becoming a partner in the 1st Annual Connection Festival, a 3-day open air music, arts and commerce festival taking place in Downtown Jacksonville, FL September 12-14, 2014. The event features some really great music including Sugarhill Gang, Surfer Blood, Less Than Jake and 40+ other local, regional, and national acts. We at Sixth Gear were tasked with re-designing the brand and consulting on all marketing efforts, here is little insight into what we have accomplished so far.

Branding

When we first connected with the team at Connection Festival, we knew that with our branding skills and their amazing festival concept and impressive music lineup we could create something incredible. The idea behind the festival is to connect music, art and commerce through technology and making sure that the brand reflected that was our challenge. Their initial logo design represented each artist medium and we knew that our design needed the same collective pieces. We strived to create a logo that was able to connect all of those pieces without appearing busy and would also work in a variety of sizes and mediums. After sketching out numerous concepts we moved forward with the guitar pick shape as the primary mark accented by random paint splatters. From their we incorporated additional icons to represent the music, art, commerce and technology components of the festival. Lastly, we put together a color scheme with a rich yellow-orange hue synonymous with sunny Florida contrasted by an aqua hue that resonated with our coastal community.

Connection Festival Website Designed by Sixth Gear

Web Design

When we first came on board the project, the existing website for Connection Festival, although lacking in aesthetics, was fast and easy to navigate, two characteristics we also wanted the new site to possess. Our first step was to take all the available content, expand upon it and organize it into clearly identifiable sub-pages which included completely new artist and music profiles that allowed festival goers to learn more about the individuals and groups participating in the 2014 Connection Festival. The result of our efforts was a clean responsively designed website complete with a ticketing portal that was cohesively designed to match the rest of the new Connection Festival brand.

The new Connection Festival brand and first round of website enhancements is only the tip of the iceberg in respect to this project. Stay tuned as we work on developing a full line of festival merchandise and work with the Connection Festival to create new marketing initiatives. You check out the new Connection Festival website at www.connectionfestival.com!

13
Jun

Case Study: The Confection Co-Op

THE CHALLENGE

Los Angeles, CA bakery The Confection Co-op came to us with their project while they were in the process of transitioning their cute cupcake shop to a modern bakery co-op. With a new menu, logo, sleek look and name, owners Simone and James Dole knew exactly what they wanted when it came to designing their new website. The challenge for Sixth Gear was taking their color palette of black, white, grey and red and incorporating that into a responsive design that reflected their new brand and menu items while encompassing the casual and friendly atmosphere that they were so well known for by their already booming customer base.

THE SOLUTION

In keeping with Jamie and Simone’s new brand we created a responsive website that upheld their casual and friendly atmosphere while infusing their new modern/rustic bakery elements. Using incredible product photography we created an interactive menu that laid out each individual product and encouraged their customer base to “like” their favorites. The design was constructed using their color palette of black, white, and grey with accents of red throughout, tying together the new shop design and decor. The result was a professional and modern website that worked with their old persona to create a new brand that had much more to offer without compromising its value.

09
Jun

Your Website is So 2002

As a web design firm we see a wide spectrum of websites needing a redesign. Your website is essentially the face of your company, so shouldn’t it look it’s best? This week we decided to point out a few dated techniques and elements of web design and why it means you are in need of a new one.

If your current website is not compatible with mobile and/or tablet browsing then it is time to cash it in for a newer model. A responsive web design is essential in having a successful web presence. Many of our clients looking for our redesign services are lacking a responsive design, but understand the importance. Websites that cannot be viewed on multiple devices will be a turn off to your potential customers and so will a slow website. For us we know that if we have to wait forever for a site to load that forever is just too long and we won’t even bother. The time spent waiting for a site to load results in one less potential customer. Another common trait of outdated websites is the dreaded use of flash. Not only are flash incompatible with Apple iPhones and iPads but they make it difficult for search engines like Google to read, which we all know will affect your search engine rankings and your business’ ability to attract new customers or clients. Your website is meant to enhance your business not turn people away.

Did you know that your low search engine rankings may be because your website is outdated? It all has to do with the algorithms that search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing use to determine search results. They have changed drastically over the last few years and if your website was built in say 2002, the tactics you used to optimize are probably no longer relevant. So Sixth Gear recommends giving your site an update. You want your website to have the best search engine visibility possible which can only happen with website code and site architecture that is in line with today’s standards.

We all like to think that looks aren’t everything, however when it comes to your website that isn’t the case. When a future customer sees your website it essentially represents you. If the site looks old they are more likely to go with a competitor who has a professional and current website. Giving your business a value behind it’s brand starts with your website design. The more professional it looks the more your customers will hold value to your name. There are a few ways to tell if a website is dated, and I wouldn’t recommend assuming that your customers won’t notice. Today’s designs are clean to look at, unlike the cluttered predecessors. The idea is to have an easy to navigate website and if there too much going on it makes navigating much harder than it should be. Your website’s user experience should be effortless.

There is no need to have an embarrassing website anymore. A redesign is your solution and will have a significant effect on leads and customer traffic coming in. Sixth Gear is here to answer any questions you may have and happy to provide a complimentary evaluation of your website and what it would it take to bring into this century.