Web Design Errors to Stay Away From

Posted on April 26th, 2011 by Tiffany Categories Uncategorized

We’ve researched and we’ve researched. And we’ve folded some experience into our portfolio. And time after time, this nugget of wisdom stands out when our eye turns to web design. Don’t overdo it.

 

No, really. We’ve all seen websites with awful design decisions, and we’ve walked away feeling overwhelmed – too many bright colors, no contrast, drop-shadows on the wrong text. The lists of web design faux pas are seemingly endless.

 

But it’s good to remember that the best aesthetics are contained within simplicity. It sounds very Zen, but it’s true. When you’re designing a website, white space is your friend. And below, we’ve compiled a list of our "How Not To" favorites.

 

1. Cut back on the Flash.

We know. Flash is fun, it’s snazzy, and is versatile in its own ways. But Flash elements shouldn’t take up space where text-based content needs to go.

 

2. Speaking of Text…

Stay away from cascading and endless paragraphs of descriptive text. While details and eloquence have their place in writing, a website isn’t the best platform. Especially not for a business – large or small.

 

3. Plan Your Navigation

If a design element is important enough to have page-length articles written about it, then you know we’re not kidding around. Think of your navigation as a road sign – it provides your visitors with direction around your message, your purpose and your products. And if your visitors can’t find the content they’re looking for, then they’ll have very little reason to linger around your website and explore, much less buy.

 

4. Color and Contrast

"Contrast," says Wikipedia, "is the difference in visual properties that makes an object (or its representation in an image) distinguishable from other objects and the background." Paying attention to color and contrast is as important for small businesses as it is for the larger ones since these elements affect the readability, and they command the attention of your visitors. Consider seeking assistance from color contrast tools to help guide your color decisions. An easier way to emphasize message via contrast is to play with the size of your text. Since most people prefer scanning to reading, use larger text to communicate the information that matters the most.

Marketing to Generation Z

Posted on April 19th, 2011 by Tiffany Categories Uncategorized

Generation Z. They’re profiled as efficient multi-taskers who can text, blog, play on Facebook, post a Tweet and still get their homework done on time. They’re media savvy, technology savvy, thrive on speed (who remembers a dial-up connection?) and they need instant gratification.

 

Origins

We’re not really sure when they came to be, but the general consensus falls between 1994 – 2004. What we do know is that they’re the quintessential no-holds-barred generation who were born connected to the digital age. Generation Z is 23 million strong and marketers are now realigning themselves and their strategies to make their advertising more relevant to these hyper-niched consumers.

 

Part of the new marketing and advertising strategies includes incorporating some form of entertainment for our GenZ-ers. If the message is targeted with a multi-media, multi-platform mash-up, chances are it will elicit the required response. Especially in an age where social networking can make virtually any post go viral.

 

As with any demographic, communicating requires understanding who they are. At the moment, marketing to and communicating with Generation Z is a work and progress; because they’re still developing, we’re still learning about them, and these are the characteristics we’ve gleaned so far.

 

Born Curators

Generation Z is not brand loyal. There, we said it. What they are loyal to, however, is building and sharing their own view of the world, with as many people as they can. They share play lists, movies, food reviews, books and possibly, everything in between.

 

How does that translate for the marketer? Bring focus back to content and quality. Going viral is the digitized version of “word of mouth.” There’s no substitute for it. If your product is inherently “awesome”, it will be talked about. And sold.

 

Transparency and Dialogue

Don’t stifle conversation, nor attempt to control conversation about your products – encourage it,” advises Mashable.com. Sound advice in a world where transparency and trust are becoming synonymous terms. While an open forum may dredge up negative comments, demonstrating a commitment to authentic and open dialogue will earn respect and “ultimately contribute to the long term success of your brand.”

Making Google AdWords Work For You

Posted on April 12th, 2011 by Tiffany Categories Uncategorized

Google AdWords are the sponsored links that appear alongside your search results in Google and sometimes on web content as well. The process involves specifying targeted pay-per-click keywords, which can become quite an effective (and cost-effective) way to advertise online.

 

Touted as possibly the “most successful business idea in history”  AdWords requires a combination of business acumen, patience and a heavy investment of man hours. Safe to say that before you begin, you should know what you’re getting into.

 

Tweak Your Keywords. Constantly. Once you begin advertising with AdWords, you’ll have to spend time everyday, studying and tweaking your keywords to maximize your click-throughs, conversions and profits. Timothy Thomas, a small-business consultant, recommends spending at least 15 minutes a day to fine tune your keywords. Specificity is the key. Search terms that are too broad or lead away from your website and business are, needless to say, harmful. Your ads will be the first opportunity for you to develop a relationship with your clients – ranking high in an irrelevant search is a good way to lose potential long-term relationships.

 

Search Engine Optimization Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and AdWords are closely related to each other. In fact, your SEO efforts will need to work in tandem with your AdWords campaign for the most lucrative results. The only caveat: include your SEO keywords with AdWords, but don’t pay for words that already have you ranking high.

 

Creative Content At The REFUGE Group, we just can’t emphasize the value of fresh, creative content enough. At the end of day, creative marketing tactics, a well planned strategy and a stellar campaign are built on the foundation of excellent service and good website content.

 

You can bring the people in, but if there’s nothing there to see, they’re not going to stay around for too long.

Email Marketing: 5 Errors to Avoid

Posted on April 7th, 2011 by Tiffany Categories Uncategorized

With Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn being all the rage for electronic communication, sending e-mails to your (opted-in) client base may seem passé. And for a certain generation, it is. As Mark Zuckerbug, CEO at Facebook has said, email is too much of a cognitive load for youngsters.

 

However, at The REFUGE Group, we don’t believe that email is completely dead. Marketers continue to employ this messaging medium to alert consumers about in-store and online deals, raising awareness for social causes and for staying in touch with their client base.

 

Besides, email and e-newsletters have quite a lot more flexibility with design options and they can integrate links to social media.  Since email marketing campaigns continue to be crafted, knowing how to make them effective and efficient is a good idea.

 

1. Determine Your Purpose This is the mainstay of any effective form of communication. What are you trying to do with with your email campaigns? Educating? Informing, which covers sales and special offers? Too many marketers launch an email marketing campaign with a vague view of why they want to do it. Understand your purpose for sending emails before you send them. By the same token, develop content that is relevant to your demographic and your business.

 

2. Get Permissions If you’ve ever received spam email, you know that the experience can be frustrating. And it works the same way with your clients. Make sure you begin your email campaign on a good note by getting permissions from your clients, either through an opt-in form or through an in-store sign-up sheet.

 

3. Develop Creative Subject Lines Creativity can’t be over-stated because of the direct relation between catchy subject lines and the increased likelihood of opened emails. Spend some time developing a subject line that is short and contains relevant information. For instance: “Who’s Who in the Design World”.

 

4. Use Your Domain Name You want to be perceived as a genuine company that people can trust and feel at ease with. According to Mashable, “a Gmail or Yahoo address is a tip-off that a company is small-time.” Send your emails using an address that carries your company’s domain name.

 

5. Opt-out Option Email marketing is a great way to build a relationship with your client base, and one of the easiest ways to make this happen is by making them feel safe. Give your clients an option to opt out from your email campaign at their prerogative to give them freedom from feeling locked-in.

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