We get it. Embarking on a big digital project can be a bit scary. The industry is full of horror stories about extended deadlines, budget confusion, scope creep, poorly-defined sign-off procedures, and work just not hitting the bullseye.
We get it. Embarking on a big digital project can be a bit scary. The industry is full of horror stories about extended deadlines, budget confusion, scope creep, poorly-defined sign-off procedures, and work just not hitting the bullseye.
Here’s the thing though. All of these problems are actually pretty easy to avoid so long as you invest time into the production of one crucial document at the start of every project.
That’s right, we’re talking about having very tight briefs, even if you only need a quickie from your agency.
Yes, I’m blushing too. Take a second to compose yourself…
Back? Ok good. Because this is serious stuff. Writing a great brief for your agency is no joke. For an agency to produce truly great work, their creative and technical minds need direction, boundaries and inspiration to nail down the best possible solutions.
A brief is a document which details everything your agency could need to know in order to fulfil your project requirements to the best of their abilities. It might include a mixture of facts, figures, goals, obstacles and general information that will help the team to find a solution and produce the work.
There’s a subtle but important point there. A great brief does not try to provide the solution for the agency. You should be paying your agency for their expertise and therefore trust them to know what the best solution is for your problem. The reality is, in many cases they will have various solutions they could offer you. A great brief will allow them to choose the very best one for your specific situation.
To help guide their decision-making, you might want to include some or all of the following:
Clearly defined goals
Anyone can tell a digital agency that they want their website to be better. If you want the best from your agency, be more specific.
Do you want more people to add products to their basket? Do you want to reduce cart abandonment? Maybe you want visitors to buy certain products or ranges, or do you want more people to call you instead of using the contact form?
What is the specific thing (or list of things) that you want to improve? Again, you don’t need to tell us exactly how you want to achieve those goals – it’s our job to find the most effective and cutting-edge solutions. But we do need to be told which metrics we should focus on.
Do your research
While you don’t need to worry about finding a solution, it can be useful to give your agency some inspiration. If there are competitor websites, indeed any websites, which you feel are addressing the same problem and are doing so in a very clever way, then let us know about it!
Also tell us if you know of any websites that are addressing the same problem in the WRONG way, for that matter, and tell us why their solution would be wrong for you. Every solution ruled out is a step closer to finding the right solution.
Finally, while we’re pretty good at understanding user types, customer groups and behavioural trends, it never hurts for you to give us some additional insights into your customers; from your perspective and direct experience. Users never cease to surprise us and no business’s customers fit a ‘standard model’ exactly. Help us to tailor your user experience through market research data or even just some anecdotal evidence.
Talk about the future
Change is inevitable. Your business will change, your customers will change, and so too must your website. Make sure your agency don’t give you a solution that will hinder you in the future.
Try to help the agency understand where you think things might be heading further down the line for your business. You may not have a crystal ball, but chances are you’ll have a better handle on the nature of things to come for your service niche or category than your agency will. You are the expert in what you do.
On the flipside to that, try to remember that your agency will have a very good idea of where web tech is headed. Allow them to create a future-proofed technical solution, but provide the info they will need to ensure that their solution meets your marketing needs now and, as much as you can predict, in the future.
Don’t shy away from budget
This is often the most delicate part. However, quite frankly, a poorly-defined budget is the most likely thing to doom a project from the outset. The biggest piece of advice we can offer is to just be open and transparent. This is the only way you and your agency partner can settle on a solution. It’s also the only way your expectations can be set properly.
Contrary to popular belief, most agencies won’t try to overcharge you for a piece of work. In an industry so saturated with competitors, we can’t afford to be uncompetitive in our pricing! We might find OTHER things to suggest to use any additional, remaining budget, but you can always say no to those things.
Moreover, digital agencies live and die by their ability to generate ROI. Ultimately, we want to get the best performance from your website as much as you do, so we can shout about it in a case study. Don’t let awkwardness around budget discussion get in the way of that.
Where do I even start?
Speak to your agency. Nothing makes us happier than a well-written brief, so we’ll be happy to help. And once you’ve done the first one, the next one will be much easier.
Include everything that you think might be pertinent, and nothing that definitely won’t. Be clear and detailed, but please, please be concise. By all means offer some examples to draw from, but draw the line at suggesting actual solutions.
And remember, much like in a swimwear calendar, the best briefs are always the tightest and shortest with just the right amount of detail.
Sorry, blushing again.
Get in touch today for more information and advice. Our friendly team are waiting to help you.
Google have mastered artificial intelligence, advanced language processing, voice recognition, augmented reality and headless page-rendering software.
Google have mastered artificial intelligence, advanced language processing, voice recognition, augmented reality and headless page-rendering software. They have some of the most advanced technology in the world, ranging from military robots and driverless cars to interactive global satellite maps and semantic internet archives.
Of course, not all of that tech gets used by their search engine algorithm for answering day to day search queries, but it could be if they felt it was worth the processing power. The point is, Google’s search engine algorithm is just about as clever as they feel it needs to be right now.
As a result, Google is very good at understanding content. It sees beyond ‘keywords’ and works out the content’s topical relevance, its meaning and even the context that the content was found in. It can assess the trustworthiness and accuracy of the content. It understands the intent behind content and only shows it to users with relevant needs.
However, despite all of this big picture stuff, sometimes Google can still struggle to pull out the smallest, most granular pieces of info. This is where structured data, microdata and Schema come into play.
What are structured data, microdata and Schema?
Structured data, as the name suggests, is any data that has been organised into a logical and defined format. For example, data in a table with rows and columns specifying different types of information could be described as structured data. The opposite would be scattered information without formatting – and this would be known as unstructured data.
When coding a website, unstructured data scattered in the page’s content can be given structure by adding special tags to label it up. Those tags are known as ‘microdata’. So for example, a product’s name, description and price can all be wrapped in microdata tags so that any crawlers, such as search engines, can know exactly what that content is.
Schema, which is a word you’ve probably heard a lot recently, is a specific library of microdata. It is the result of a collaboration between Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo. These search engines use it to improve their search results and create richer experiences for their searchers.
Common examples are displaying prices and review ratings within the search results. This is only possible because of Schema markup.
These enhanced elements on search results are known as rich snippets and are considered very effective at boosting click through rates from search results.
Schema predictions for 2020
1. Rich Results
More and more of the first page of results in Google is taken with what are known as ‘rich results’. These come in many forms, but are essentially any results that are not a traditional ‘blue link’.
They are designed to highlight key information from a page’s content as accurately as possible. Rich results are composed of rich snippets and new ‘rich cards’ –offering more image space and a carousel feature. All of this hinges on Schema data.
2. Ranking Factor
Google and most SEOs have repeatedly said that Schema is not, in itself, a ranking factor. However, with the meteoric rise of Rich Results and the increasing complexity of search engine results pages, this could feasibly change.
3. Voice Search
Voice search is nothing new, but it is still growing. Home assistants have made some big leaps in 2019, including the ability for single commands to trigger a series of events pulling data from various tools and platforms, allowing much more complex tasks to be carried out. Schema will likely continue to grow in importance as a mechanism for facilitating voice search technologies.
Is your website as transparent as it could be to Google? Are you ready to capitalise on the rise of voice search? Speak to our experts for help and advice.
Logos and company branding are some of the most important areas to cover when it comes to getting your name and products out there. Think about your favourite brands for a moment. There’s a very good chance that their logos will fall into one of three categories:
- Font based (wordmarks and lettermarks). Font based logos such as FedEx, Sony and Google.
- Abstract / conceptual pictorial. Instantly recognisable graphics like the Twitter bird or the Starbucks logo.
- Descriptive / illustrative pictorial. Logos which describe a company’s products or services like 7-Eleven, Burger King or the British Heart Foundation.
Whichever style they follow, there are many aspects of popular logos which help to catch our attention and cement them in our minds.
Keeping things simple is perhaps one of the most important things to think about when developing a logo for your brand. A simple logo is easier to recognise and remember and will become familiar to customers more quickly than a complicated, overdone logo. The best logos are simple enough to be drawn from memory – think along the lines of the McDonald’s arches, the Apple logo, and the world-famous Nike Swoosh.
Unfortunately, not every logo designed to be unique is guaranteed to be ‘good’, but when you get it right it can be super effective. Choosing something unexpected and unique helps you to distinguish your brand from similar companies in your sector which is exactly what you are looking for in a logo.
Once you have finalised your design and launched the new logo there is a good chance you will want to use it across various platforms. The easiest way to make sure your logo is versatile is to think critically about where and how it will be used; the best time to do this is before or during the design phase. Your logo needs to be easily scaled and suitable for use in both digital and printed media.
Don’t forget that your logo’s main job is to capture exactly what your company or brand is all about. Use colours, fonts and styles which instantly give customers a feel for who your company is and don’t be afraid to inject some brand personality into the logo. Of course, your logo doesn’t need to show everyone exactly what you do at a glance – in fact, playing to customers’ desire for mystery and novel ideas can work out really well from a commercial perspective.
Trust The Professionals At Digidude
The best way to ensure your company ends up with a logo that looks great and helps you to flourish is to leave it to the professionals. Digidude Web Design Agency specialise in creating logos, branding which are meaningful, polished, and future-proof:
- Logo design
- Company stationery
- Social media assets
- Signage design
- Website graphics
- Promotional material
- Leaflet and flyers
If you’d like to find out more about our design services and packages then give us a call!
There is no question that content forms the backbone of our online presences these days. From product or service descriptions to blogs and more, almost everything we do online involves written copy to a degree. There’s a good reason for this; by now it is well known in digital spheres that there’s a strong correlation between the quality of site content and engagement and conversion rates. We’ve touched on the importance of building rapport with your customers and site visitors in previous blogs, and this blog will go into more detail on how this can be achieved with written content.
Choose quality over quantity
It is not enough to simply churn out content regularly, the content also needs to be engaging and have value for the reader. When content fails to engage a reader or offer them valuable information they will tend to abandon the page and look elsewhere. You should aim to create content which demonstrates thought leadership on your chosen topic. The best way to do this is to focus on writing content which is well researched, interesting, and addresses any pain points your site visitors have. It is much more effective to create fewer, more in depth pieces than a larger number of shorter pieces which can be annoying for readers.
Tailor your content
Once you have thought about the topics you want to cover, think about the different angles you might use to approach them. You should be able to use existing data on your site visitors to find out which web pages are most popular and therefore which topics your readers are most interested in. Use this as an opportunity to let your customers get to know you and inject your content with personality and authenticity. By tailoring your content to your audience you will ensure that it is relevant and interesting.
Make sure your content is visible
There’s not a lot of point in creating awesome content and then burying it on your website. Make sure that any content you create is easy to locate on your site, whether that is having a dedicated section for blogs and video content or by having a dedicated resources or FAQ section – there are plenty of creative and effective ways content can be displayed onsite, and we can help with this.
Keep your content up to date
When we say ‘keep your content up to date’, we don’t mean that you should publish new content or change existing content for the sake of it. Find a schedule for creating new content which is realistic for you and try to stick to it. Blog posts in particular can become outdated very quickly, and seeing that your most recent blogs are actually a few months old can put readers off exploring the content. If you can get into the habit of producing regular and reliable content then you can establish yourself as an authority on your chosen topics. The aim is to cement your company’s position as a go-to source of information and one of the simplest tools you can use to guide your efforts is a content or marketing calendar which should keep you on track.
Make sure your UX is as awesome as your content
Providing valuable, engaging content for your readers is important, but it’s also vital to make sure your UX is also top notch. This will make your content as accessible and enjoyable to use as possible, and is something that your users will definitely appreciate. Contact us today for more information on how we can help bring your content to life and boost your online presence.
Even if you have never heard the phrase ‘human-centred design’ before there is every chance you are familiar with the principles it involves. Those with a design and development background in particular will have more than likely come across concepts like user experience design – frequently shortened to UX – and at a first glance the two terms might seem interchangeable. While both intend to create meaningful solutions to everyday human problems, there are a few key differences which set the principles apart.
The first thing to consider is that UX tends to happen at the interface between technology and humans and refers to the quality of a specific feature or function and how well it addresses pain points for consumers. Examples can be digital if they take the form of apps for example, but they can also be as simple as the way the on and off switch on a radio is designed and positioned. Human-centred design is a broader principle and it refers to a design framework or management system which puts people first. So, while you may use UX as a means to improve and refine your app, human-centred design is the process that would lead to the decision to make the app in the first place. Therefore, UX is just one principle which is used under the umbrella of human-centred design.
As you can see, the application of this approach has much wider implications for business, and can be used at all stages to cover a range of thought processes. For example, if a company is asking business centred questions such as ‘how can we increase average order value by 20%?’ then they may find that their approach isn’t giving them the results they need. Switching this to a more human-centred approach might lead you to ask different questions which help you to reach a similar outcome by different means.
You could reframe the question to have a more human-centric focus by asking instead ‘how do customers prefer to interact with our brand?’. From there you can look into directing your efforts and investing more resource into providing a relevant and rewarding experience. For example you might look into improving customer journeys and interfaces, improving tailored advertising for your target demographics, and therefore making the experience more personal to your users.
One of the keys to successful human-centred design is to treat it as an ongoing process. You should aim to continually seek feedback from users and customers in order to ensure that human experiences are always used to inform developments and changes. Of course you don’t need to be planning huge changes within your company in order to have a more human-centred approach to design – it can be incorporated into your everyday operations in a non-intrusive way which still adds value.
1. Get to know your people
Getting to know your target demographics in detail will help you to foster a human-centred approach. Try not to think of them as users in vague terms but consider them as real human people who are using your product in order to reach a personal goal of theirs. This will help you to consider the customer journey from start to finish. Start by asking who will be using the product and then think about the context of that use – more specifically the time and place, and of course, the device they are likely to use.
2. Assess the problem.
Not all problems will require a standalone solution. In previous blogs we have touched on explanations used by Don Norman, the man credited with coining the phrase ‘user experience design’, and he makes the distinction between two kinds of problems: fundamental problems and the symptoms of these fundamental problems. Once you have sorted your issues into these two groups you will see that addressing the fundamental problems often solves the symptomatic ones. The identification and sorting of these problems is an essential step when taking a human-centred approach to your design and development, so it’s well worth investing time and energy in getting this part right.
3. Think holistically.
When you take a holistic, top level view of your business then you can step back and look at the bigger picture. Addressing smaller complaints will not necessarily give your users or customers a better experience; for example, there is little point in investing all your resources into a mobile app if your customers prefer to interact with your brand through social media sites.
4. Test your ideas.
If you consider global brands like Facebook and McDonald’s you’ll see that they always test changes rigorously before implementing them on a wider basis. Restaurant chains will play around with the shape and colour of packaging to see which is most appealing to consumers or will try a limited edition sandwich on a relatively small demographic to see how it fares; social media sites will subtly change the colour or form of the ‘like’ button to discover which one their users are more likely to interact with. Thorough testing is vital before any changes are implemented widely. Of course, you do not need to set aside the same amount of time and money that these behemoth brands do, you can start small and scale your research as and when you need to.
5. Learn from your users’ feedback.
There are plenty of quick and easy ways to get customer feedback and insights; these include Twitter polls, customer satisfaction surveys, and requesting feedback via email. The important thing is to actually listen to the feedback provided by your customers and to act on it accordingly. Remember that negative feedback can be one of your most useful tools when developing your business as long as you use it wisely. Quantitative data may be preferred when tackling big issues such as budgeting, but don’t disregard the value that qualitative data can add. It can help your customers to tell their stories and address their hopes, fears and expectations and can in turn help you to help them meet their goals.
Last year we saw more of the minimalist web design style which has become synonymous with high end and tech brands such as Apple. Its use of negative space and pared down colour schemes has been a welcome oasis in
Last year we saw more of the minimalist web design style which has become synonymous with high end and tech brands such as Apple. Its use of negative space and pared down colour schemes has been a welcome oasis in an otherwise harsh and sometimes gaudy landscape, and this trend is set to continue throughout 2019. A tendency towards a minimalist web design style has given rise to interesting variations on the theme. A lot of new designs are brighter, bolder, and a bit more informal than purely minimalist designs.
1. Nostalgic and retro design elements.
These web designs draw inspiration from nostalgic motifs and themes which would be familiar in the mid 20th Century through the the 1980s and 1990s but with a modern, minimalist flair. Lines are cleaned up and colour schemes are limited to a smaller palette. A great example of this is New York Moon’s website which captures the ‘Keep calm and carry on’ style in a tasteful and modern way. Other brands use colours popular in the later half of the 20th Century paired with a modern, minimalist layout in order to give a nostalgic yet unfussy feel to their site such as Tens Sunglasses.
Though it has never truly gone out of style, monochrome web design is making a surge in 2019 and one of our favourite examples is Eat Genesis’s super-cool website. Its use of illustration in a black and white palette is effective and impactful while avoiding a cluttered and fussy look.
Asymmetry is basically a lack of symmetry between design elements across two halves of a design. The key to creating an impactful and appealing asymmetrical design is to make sure there is an element of balance throughout the design. This can be a little tricky to get right, especially if you get too bogged down in the finer details so it’s important to focus on the bigger picture. An old favourite which is both minimalist and asymmetrical is the Apple website. Asymmetry is particularly useful if you want to incorporate a perceived element of movement in your designs.
4. Creative heroes and headers.
The top ‘above the fold’ section of a web page is often dedicated to eye catching and on brand imagery and headers which take up the whole viewport. 2019 has seen this area become almost like a billboard, with more experimental elements being brought in to replace the standard full width image with a text overlay. A good example of more experimental header areas comes from popular marketing tool Hubspot. Another favourite is the straightforward and practical header offered by Airbnb which allows you to find properties the moment the site loads using a simple form.
5. Brutalist websites.
While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, brutalism certainly has its place amongst 2019’s hottest web design styles. The look is characterised by oversized cursors, bold in-your-face fonts in large format and has a freestyle feel to it. A notable example is Yale University of Art’s creative and slightly bonkers website. The overall look draws on minimalist style while exaggerating each element in size and colour.
Whatever Your Style, Digidude Can Bring Your Ideas To Life
We love a creative challenge so whatever your style, contact the team at Digidude today and together we can build something amazing. Call us today on +353 (0)87 700 7495 to discuss your ideas, big or small.
What Is User Experience Design? User experience design is something that has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years. Commonly shortened to UX, it’s the process of designing things which enhance customer experiences, helping users to have a meaningful
What Is User Experience Design?
User experience design is something that has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years. Commonly shortened to UX, it’s the process of designing things which enhance customer experiences, helping users to have a meaningful interaction with a product or brand.
Scientist Don Norman gets the credit for inventing the phrase in the late 1990s, stating that ‘User experience encompasses all aspects of the end-user’s interaction with the company, its services, and its products.’
This broad definition doesn’t specifically refer to digital and it can be applied to everything from the on/off switch on your car stereo through to complex government security software; as digital specialists, our involvement with user experience design generally takes place in the digital sphere and relates to websites, apps and other digital products.
What Makes Good UX?
These days we spend a good portion of our time navigating a complex digital landscape, so it’s only logical that UX is becoming more important than ever. There are a lot of factors that work together to create ‘good UX’, but improving end user satisfaction and inspiring customer loyalty are at the core of the process. When a customer is interacting with your products there are three questions that form their opinions:
- How easy is it to use?
- How enjoyable is it to use?
- How much value do I gain from the interaction?
As UX designers, we have to go a little deeper and think about the user’s journey from start to finish. The best designs from a user experience perspective strike the perfect balance between four main elements:
- Usability – Products need to be designed in a way that is familiar and easy to understand and therefore easy to use.
- Desirability – Things don’t just need to work in a straightforward and intuitive way, they also need to be aesthetically pleasing and (if possible) fun to use.
- Accessibility – Products need to be designed in such a way that any user can have a meaningful experience regardless of physical and mental ability.
- Usefulness – The product needs to meet a specific need in your customers, addressing their pain points and enhancing their daily experiences.
It is a combination of all these factors which help assess whether a product will offer good or bad UX. As you can see, it goes beyond simple aesthetics and makes us consider the why, what and how of customer behaviour.
- Why – What motivates your customers and how do their values and views inform their choices?
- What – What pain points are you trying to address and what features and functionality will facilitate this?
- How – How will the product incorporate all the elements of good UX to create a useful product which is easy and pleasant to use?
Paying close attention to the quality of your user experience design can be hugely beneficial to your brand – if you’d like to know more on how we can boost your UX then contact us online or by telephone at +353 (0) 87 700 7495.