Smartphone Websites: How To Avoid The Common Mistakes

responsive web design

An increasing number of people around the globe are accessing the web on their smartphones. New figures released by Statista show that in 2013, 17.4% of web traffic came via mobile, this represents over a 6% rise since 2012 (when mobile traffic represented 11.1%).

As a direct result of this trend, smartphone-optimised websites are on the increase. However, there are a number of common mistakes often seen on these sites that can be easily avoided. We’ve compiled a list of those to help solve or avoid any issues and achieve optimum user experience:

  1. Speed is Everything

    Pages load times are particularly crucial to mobile users, so think of optimising your site’s speed. Most people on smartphones are on the move and attention, as well as time, is often limited. A great tool to use to check your site’s speed is Google’s PageSpeed Insight.

  2. Beware of Videos

    Many websites owners spend a lot of time and efforts developing great videos with their brand design agencies to captivate their audiences’ attention. However, it is a fact that many videos will not play on smartphones due to a range of problems such as licensing restrictions, device capability issues, etc. As a result of this, it is crucial to ensure that your videos can be played on the majority of devices. Also think of using a transcription of the content as an alternative.

  3. Make sure you review your redirection protocol

    Many smartphone sites have issues with redirections. For example, it is a common mistake to be redirected from a desktop site to an unrelated URL on the smartphone site. There are also sites that redirect users on some mobile devices but not all of them.

  4. Avoid Apps Interstitials

    Promoting your website’s app to your visitors can work against you if you use interstitials, as users find them increasingly disruptive. Good web design companies will be aware of this and propose to use smaller format ads to let your users know your app can be downloaded.

  5. Review 404 pages for Smartphones

    Some of your website’s content might not be available in a smartphone friendly format. In that case, instead of showing a 404 page, you should serve the desktop page instead. It is always better to show users the information they were looking for than an error page.

How To Boost Your Photoshop Skills

photoshop artwork

Since its creation over 25 years ago by Thomas and Knoll, Photoshop has now firmly established itself as the tool of choice for designers worldwide. Adobe bought the distribution license back in September 1988 and since then, a mind-boggling amount of new versions and tools have been added on, to make it one of the most sophisticated design software available on the market.

The fact is that anybody using complex tools, machines or software will develop their own methods of working, based on the training they had as well as their experience. However, it is important to sometimes sit back and review the habits we have developed to work out if they are the most effective and logical ones to produce the highest quality work. We have compiled a list of ideas that will help you review your methods and hopefully help improve them.

  1. Save time and effort by creating folders and layers

    One of Photoshop’s main features is the ability to create layers to allow for easy modification of your project. The ideal way to use them is to ensure that enough layers are created from the start. This means that you won’t have to start the work all over again when you realize that you don’t have enough to complete the project. The other good habit that will save you time is to make sure that your layers are organized into folders. A well-structured project has many benefits. Not only you will be quicker, but it will also create a much smoother process if you work with another team or design agency and need to share your work.

  2. Allow your work to go further: increase your resolution

    By default, Photoshop’s resolution is set at 72dpi (dots per inch). This is usually fine for most professional website design projects, but your work will be limited to the small screen formats and might pixelate if printed. Try and get into the good habit of saving your work at a higher resolution, it’ll save a lot of time and efforts in the long run.

  3. Expand your horizon with shortcuts

    Being able to produce great work in record time is one of the top employers’ requests when hiring designers. It is therefore hugely important to know your shortcuts, as they can speed up and improve your workflow enormously. There are over 40 essential Photoshop shortcuts you can learn here, but don’t forget that you can also create your own ones. This is the equivalent of shorthand for designers and it will separate the good ones from greats!

Top Tips to Find the Right Creative Agency

Looking for Creative Agency

Choosing the right creative agency or branding consultancy can be a challenge, particularly if you have not had much experience working with the design industry, but it is possible to compare the top design agencies and find the right one for your needs with these simple tips.

  1. Decide what you want from your creative partners before you begin your search. The right agency for you will depend on whether you are looking for a branding consultancy to reinvigorate your image, to launch a new product or to expand your online presence. Create a brief explaining exactly what you need, including your aims, target audiences, and estimated budget, so that you begin your search with a clear idea of the services that you require and what you want your creative agency to achieve.
  2. Research the top design agencies before you approach anyone. Use their websites, marketing material and examples of previous projects to learn about their services and style. Check their experience working with similar projects and businesses in your area, and ask for personal recommendations from others in your industry. Compare what is available in terms of the type of agency you would like to work with and your needs for the specific project, and draw up a shortlist of your favourites.
  3. Contact your chosen agencies to discuss your needs in more detail before committing to a relationship. Try to speak to members of the design team who would be working on your project, so that you can find out how well you work together. If you are still undecided, consider asking your top design agencies to pitch you their ideas in response to your brief. Judge the results carefully, by quality not volume, looking for an agency that is sensitive to your needs and which has produced work that feels right for your business.
  4. Once you have decided which branding consultancy or design service you wish to use, make sure you maintain a good working relationship by setting out your terms clearly at the outset and ensuring that you communicate well and open yourself up to their ideas. A successful project depends on input from both sides, so make sure you choose an agency that you will be able to work with closely. If you have the right chemistry, your relationship could last through many years of successful projects.
Photo Credit: www.freevector.com

Branding and Colour: How to Get It Right

One of the most impressive achievements of successful design services is the creation of such a close association between a brand and a colour that people talk about Tiffany’s blue or Cadbury’s Purple. Tiffany uses its robin’s egg blue everywhere, while Cadbury has used a very specific shade of rich purple, Pantone 2685C, since 1914. It now has the exclusive right to use this colour in chocolate packaging because it’s so clearly linked to the brand. Another brand that has managed to use colour very effectively, this time with a simple primary colour, red, usually combined with a flash of white, is Coca Cola. The association is so close that urban legend even attributes Coca Cola with the creation of Santa’s red and white outfit, although the bold red and white combination can also be associated with our own web agency logo.

colour branding

Other design companies have created branding strategies making use of all the colours of the rainbow, and even of simple black and white:

  • dependable, reassuring blue and the NHS
  • peaceful, prestigious green and Harrods
  • bright, eye-catching yellow and Caterpillar
  • playful orange and Orange
  • classic, powerful black and Guinness
  • pure, simple white and Apple

Making this colour branding work well requires skilful design that maintains consistency across all elements of the brand and its marketing. It can also require the selection of a very specific shade to separate the brand from other similar products, unless the existing competition uses only a narrow range of colours. However specific the colour has to be, it must also be the right choice for the brand.

colours in branding

Colour can have intense emotional effects that a professional web agency can help brands to harness. Warmer colours are generally bold and uplifting, while cooler colours are more calm and reserved. For example, the warm colour red is widely associated with danger, anger and passion, while the cool green is a calming colour, linked to nature. Tapping in to these kinds of associations can enable brands to elicit strong emotional responses, so while it can be tricky to link a brand with a particular colour, this strategy can be highly effective. With time, it can even allow brands to free themselves from the need for a logo or brand name to be recognised. The colour alone can be enough.