Web

Pros and cons: DIY Web Design vs. Hiring a Web Designer

Pros and Cons: DIY Web Design Vs. Hiring a Web Design  |  Hue & Tone Creative

We’ve all seen commercials for web builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Wordpress. They lead with a promise of creating a great website at lightning fast speed... even if you have no previous experience. It almost sounds a little too good to be true, right? 

It all depends on your needs. While web site builders make it easier than ever for non-designers to pull together their own website, they don’t work for everyone. If you’re a tech savvy business owner who needs a simple site, they might be a great option. But, if you’re tech-challenged, short on time, or in need of a more custom site you probably need to consider hiring a web designer.

Anyone can point out a website they like or select a template – but designers are the ones who can identify and execute all the elements needed for an on-brand, functional website. From color palettes and font pairings to white space and photography, there are some things a novice just won’t be able to execute on their own. 

Before you decide which route to take, let’s run through some of the pros and cons of DIYing or outsourcing your design: 
 


Outsourcing design: pros

Professional end product

There’s no denying that the end result of hiring a web designer is inevitably going to be stronger than what you’ll be able to create on your own. A strong website design will inevitably help you achieve your website goal, no matter if it’s more email opt-ins, a higher conversion rate, or more brand exposure.  

Functionality aside, did you know that 75% of consumers judge a brand’s credibility based on their site’s design? Web users are savvy, and they can sniff out a homemade website from a mile away – which in the long run could translate to a lot of missed opportunities. 
 

Saves you time and stress

Pulling together a list of your website needs and handing it over to a third party saves you immeasurable amounts of time and stress. You’ll be able to skip the hassle of doing background research, brainstorming concepts, refining ideas, finding your way around unknownsoftware, and making endless tweaks to the site. 

You can simply put your wish-list together, pass it on, and then get on with the rest of your to-do list while your designer handles the creative.
 

It’s a long term investment

Every business’ end goal is to generate revenue. But every good business owner knows that sometimes you have to spend money to make money. While you’ll pay a greater upfront cost to hire a web designer, you’re going to be walking away with a high quality final product that will serve your business for years to come. 

Creating your website yourself has the potential to open you up to issues with data security, mobile responsiveness, search optimization, and more – which long-term could lead to spending more than the cost of hiring a web designer.  

 

Pros and Cons: DIY Web Design Vs. Hiring a Web Design  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Outsourcing design: cons

It’s more expensive

The price you pay will vary from designer-to-designer (we would estimate anywhere from $500-$8,000 based on the complexity of your site) but it’s certainly more expensive than what a DIY tool will cost you. If you’re a brand new business or start-up with a limited marketing budget, the cost of hiring a web designer may feel prohibitive.  

Although we’ve listed this as a con, we urge you to think of the bigger picture, and your return on investment down the line.
 

Less insider info about your business

Every business has their own way of working, their own personal preferences, and their own knowledge of what’s worked in the past. Understandably, an outsider won’t possess nearly as much knowledge about your business as what you have. It make take a few meetings to educate them on the ins and outs of your business so that they’re able to create an effective website for you. 

If you feel like your designer isn’t listening or doesn’t have the time to talk through the backstory of your business, we suggest finding someone else who will. 
 

Finding the right fit

You do your research, talk to a number of potential designers, and still you feel like you can’t find the right fit. Keep on looking! 

Settling for the wrong designer is going to cost you more time and money in the long run, so be sure to do your research and settle on a clear scope of work before agreeing to anything. 

A good designer should ask you a lot of questions before providing a quote, should explain the process to you, be able to answer your questions, and will outline a clear scope before the project kicks off. If you feel like you’re in the dark about what you’ve agreed to or you feel like they just don’t get your business, then we suggest looking elsewhere. 

Ask for referrals, get the designer to provide ample work samples, and check out the quality of their online presence to get a good idea of their working style and final products. 
 



DIY design: pros

Save money

There are lots of online tools that let you create artwork for free, or offer additional features for a low fee. Either way, it’s likely to be cheaper than onboarding a designer. 
 

Total control

Working with a designer means having to make compromises based on their expertise, and we’ve seen first-hand how hard this can be for some business owners. If you think you’ll be unable to work with an outside party on your website, you may want to consider keeping the project in house. 

 


DIY design: cons

Compromised quality

Design is a skill like any other. The same way you can’t waltz onto a construction site and expect to be a builder, you can’t start using software and expect to be a designer.

Imagine you had to build a brick wall right now. Now imagine what the end result would look like. Compare that to what a professional mason would be able to build. The world of design is no different.
 

brooke-lark-609902-unsplash.jpg

More time, more limits

We’ve already mentioned that there are various cheap and/or free design tools around. But with their cost-saving benefits come limitations – both on what free software can do and what you’ll be able to execute with your limited skill set. 

There’s only so much you can do on basic design tools, and by limiting the flexibility of your designs, you’re essentially putting a cap on the potential quality of your finished product.

 

Tunnel vision

After working solo on your marketing for so long, you think you know exactly what works best and what your customers want. In some cases this might be true, but in a lot of cases there’s value for bringing in a fresh perspective – especially someone who is a marketing expert. Bringing in a web designer will help you get a fresh perspective and some new ideas. 

An expert designer will be able to take your marketing materials to a new level that you’ll never be able to execute with in house design, making you more competitive and more likely to stand out from the crowd. 
 

Loss of expertise

Last but not least, is the loss of experienced, tried and tested expertise. Let’s stick with our construction analogy. If someone asked you to build a skyscraper, you wouldn’t know where to start, or what best practices you need to follow, would you? Nor would you be expected to.

Professional designers have spent years mastering their trade. They’re hot on the heels of current and emerging trends. They’ve had past success and failures to learn from. And, they’ll be able to translate your ideas into something that works well for you while still fitting in with current trends. 

What does all that mean for you? A stand-out final website.


Hue & Tone Creative: Web Design for the Triad

Now convinced you need to hire someone to help with your new website? Give us a call so we can see if we're a good fit for designing your new site or sprucing up your existing one. From web mockups to executing the final design, we want to be your go to partner for all things web and design. 

Marketing Trend Alert: Data Visualization

Marketing Trend Alert: Data Visualization  |  Hue & Tone Creative

We’re officially in a data-driven era. Decisions are made on it. Purchases are persuaded by it. And trust is gained through it. But what is data visualization? Where do its benefits lie? And how do you make data visualization truly effective? 
 

What is data visualization?

Qualitative data is information about qualities; information that can't actually be measured. Some examples of qualitative data are the softness of your skin, the grace with which you run, and the color of your eyes.
 Quantitative data is information about quantities; that is, information that can be measured and written down with numbers. Some examples of quantitative data are your height, your shoe size, and the length of your fingernails.

In its simplest form, data visualization is the representation of data in a pictorial or graphical format. Displaying information this way allows readers to grasp complex concepts with less effort and makes it easier to summarize a large of data quickly.

Data visualization can be used for both qualitative and quantitative data, but some common business uses include:

  • Breaking down market research results
  • Sharing customer insights and/or feedback
  • Displaying geographical variances
  • Detailing a timeline of events and/or activities
  • Presenting internal trading reports
     

Data visualization: the benefits

Your data is only as good as its interpretation, which is where visualization is key. For you visualized data to be successful it should have: 

Aesthetically pleasing results: lines and lines of numbers with the odd word interspersed never looks good -- nor does it read well. Data visualization removes the need for all the numbers and brings your pages to life with eye-catching graphics.

Digestible takeaways: data can be a minefield to understand and take several read throughs to understand. By presenting it visually, your audience can quickly and easily skim and digest the information you’ve given them.

Easier processing: by presenting your information visually, you’re upping the chances that people will understand and remember it.

 

Types of data visualization

When it comes to picking a type of visualization that’s right for your data, there’s no end to the choices. If you're looking for a jumping off point, we've compiled this list of different data styles for you to research and explore: 

Hierarchical

  • General tree visualization
  • Dendrogram
  • Radial tree
  • Wedge stack graph
  • Hyperbolic tree

Network

  • Matrix
  • Node-link diagram
  • Dependency graph
  • Hive plot
  • Alluvial diagram
  • Subway map

Geographical

  • Choropleth
  • Cartogram
  • Dot distribution map
  • Proportional symbol map
  • Dasymetric map

Time-related

  • Timeline
  • Time series
  • Connected scatter plot
  • Gantt chart
  • Arc diagram
  • Stream graph

Multi-dimensional

  • Pie chart
  • Histogram
  • Tag cloud
  • Bar chart
  • Tree map
  • Bubble chart
  • Waterfall chart
     

Data visualization examples

So, now that we’ve explored the benefits and types, let’s take a look at some great data visualization examples in practice.

 

Bubble cloud

  Image via  E  xplorer.uk

Image via Explorer.uk

Looks more engaging than a load of words and values dumped in a paragraph, right?

 

Tag cloud

  Image via  4  th World Movement

Tag clouds are a great way to bring word-frequency data to life. Like with this example, they can be extra effective if you use your creativity to mould your data into the shape of the topic, too.

 

Subway map

  Image via  Concept Draw

Image via Concept Draw

Subway maps aren’t just for subways...This type’s a great way to attract attention because, odds are, visitors won’t be expecting to find a subway map on your site!

 

Timeline

  Image via  P  oppyField.org

Image via PoppyField.org

This is a superb example of how a timeline (or really any chart) doesn’t have to be plain to be effective. With a few crafty tweaks, you can brand your charts and infographics to fit your brand! 

 

Looking for us to dive deeper on data visualization? Or, maybe you want to hear about another topic completely? Leave us a comment letting us know what you would like us to blog about!


Hue & Tone Creative: your marketing partner

Need your own custom infographics, charts, or presentations? We can help with all that and more! We'll help you define your brand and create tailored marketing materials so you can impress each and every one of your stakeholders. To get started, just shoot us an email explaining your needs: hannah@hueandtonecreative.com.

Web Basics: What is web hosting?

Web hosting. We hear those words a lot, but how many of us actually know what it is? Well if you don’t, then look no further. We’ve cut out the jargon and waved goodbye to all that techy mumbo jumbo as we take a quick look at the basics of web hosting. 
 

What is web hosting?  |  Hue & Tone Creative


Web hosting vs domains

When it comes to web hosting and domains there can be a bit of confusion between the two. We like to break it down like this: 
 

Web hosting: This would be your house, because it’s the space where everything is stored.

Without web hosting there wouldn’t be any websites. It’s the physical location that your website (and everything it entails) sits, and it ensures that your site maintains a sturdy connection to the internet -- without that connection, people are unable to access any of the files on your site (which, in layman’s terms, means you have no website!).

Some examples of web hosting companies include InMotion, 1&1, HostGator, GoDaddy, Wix and Weebly.

 

Domain: This is the equivalent of your address, because it’s the location your host can be found.

It’s not a physical entity, it’s just the series of characters that make up your site’s unique location. So, the same way you’d enter an address and ZIP code to get to your end destination, you enter your domain name into the search bar to get to your website.

Some of the most popular domain name providers out there are GoDaddy, Hover, Dynadot, Google Domains and Namecheap.

 

Where should you buy web hosting from?

When it comes to choosing the right web host for you, there are a lot of solid contenders out there. To help you along your way, here are the top five as rated by the experts over at Techradar.


Web host

InMotion

Voted

Best overall shared web hosting

Selling points

Wordpress hosting, business hosting, web design services, and 24/7 US-based support

 

Runner-up overall shared web hosting

Baremetal servers, free SSL certificate, secure hacker protection, and email marketing

 

Best ‘cheap’ option on the market

Unmetered bandwidth, unmetered disk space, money back guarantee (45 days) and $150 search credit

 

Good all-round service

SEO services, free domain, database backup/restore, and unmetered bandwidth

 

Wordpress’ #1 preferred partner

Unmetered bandwidth, WooCommerce hosting, Free domain, 24/7 US-based support


What does all that terminology mean?

We just threw a bunch of terminology at you -- but since this is a beginner's guide to web hosting, let's go ahead and break it down: 
 

Bare metal servers: The term ‘bare metal’ refers to a hard disk, and so a bare metal server is when a computer system or network’s virtual machine is installed directly on to hardware.

SSL certificate: In its simplest form, an SSL certificate is a public-facing, digital document that tells people a site is secure. It also lets you know that the company that says they own the website you're accessing legitimately owns it. 

Bandwidth: Bandwidth is the amount of site content and visitor traffic a server can transfer in a certain amount of time.

Unmetered bandwidth: A hosting plan with unmetered traffic. The price you pay each month does not depend on the amount of traffic (data) sent to and from your server during the month

Unmetered disk space: Disk space is the amount of data you can store on a web server. The amount of disk space you need will vary depending on the size of your site. Similar to unmetered bandwidth, unmetered disk space means you are given an unlimited amount of disk space. 

SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the online practice of increasing the amount of traffic you get through to your website via organic search results, like Google. Some hosting companies offer services to help you improve your SEO.

 

Questions about what any of these terms mean? Leave them below in the comments -- we'll be happy to help clear up any questions you have! 


Hue & Tone Creative: Web Design Services

Once you've secured your domain and hosting, let us help you bring your site alive with a great design and intuitive user experience. Get in touch today to see how we can support your website’s set-up.

Google Speed Update: What you need to know

  Your website shouldn't leave people staring at their watch. 

Your website shouldn't leave people staring at their watch. 

It’s no secret that speed is central to user experience -- and slow load times translate to a higher bounce rate and less traffic. Think about it: How long did you wait around last time a page wasn’t loading? In addition to annoying users, a delayed page speed means users will read less once the page does load.

With all that in mind, it comes as no surprise that in June 2018 page speed will officially become a ranking factor in mobile search results. The algorithm update was announced in January and has been named the ‘Speed Update’.
 


Wait a second, isn’t speed already a factor? 

Why, yes, it’s true that page speed has been a ranking factor since 2009 – but, it’s never been an official factor for mobile ranking speed. According to a blog post by Google on the topic: “Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches...Starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.”

 

What Google has said

If you’re already in a panic, take a deep breathe, because Google has said the new algorithm will “only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users, and it will only affect a small percentage of queries.” (source)

Google has also repeatedly stated that the intent behind a user’s query will still be the strong ranking factor -- so if a website has a slow page, but the content of that page is relevant and high in quality, it may still rank highly regardless.

But, how fast are we talking? In a Google Webmaster video, Maile Ohye, states that “2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability.At Google, we aim for under a half second.”

It’s no secret that over the last two years Google has been implementing a mobile first strategy that prioritizes mobile-optimized sites. The Speed Update just takes this initiative a step further by prioritizing speed, which is key to mobile responsiveness. 

 

What you need to do

In preparation for the Speed Update, Google has recommended a number of resources to help gauge where your website’s performance is at.

1. Chrome User Experience ReportChrome User Experience will give you intel on how real-world Chrome users experience popular destinations on the web, and the factors that shape and contribute to their final user experience.

2. LighthouseLighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. You can run it against any web page, public or requiring authentication. It has audits for performance, accessibility, progressive web apps, and more.

With each audit (which only takes between 60 to 90 seconds), you’ll receive a document detailing what’s important to fix, and how you can fix it. Suggestions could range to anything from oversized and unoptimized images, to unused CSS rules and render-blocking scripts.

3. PageSpeed InsightsAnother one of Google’s powerful speed tools, PageSpeed Insights will analyze your page and present you with a page speed rating, optimization score (out of 100), page load distributions, page stats and optimization suggestions. 

The recommendations might range from things like prioritizing visible content and leveraging browser cashing, to eliminating render-blocking Javascript and CSS in the above-the-fold content. 

 

What's next

Once you've made all the updates possible you'll need to monitor your search rankings. Keep in mind that because the update is entirely algorithmic, there’s no tool that will just simply show you which pages have been dinged – after you make all the adjustments you can to increase page speed, you’ll have to keep an eye on your mobile rankings to make sure your site isn’t taking a hit.

Looking for even more resources to get your page up to speed? We’ll leave you with this list to check out: 


Hue & Tone Creative

Do all these terms look like gibberish to you? Bring in an expert -- let us help you get your web presence up to speed (literally). We can help with everything from branding and email campaigns to social media and your web presence.  

10 ways to make B2B blogs more enjoyable

When it comes to business to business (B2B) marketing, blogging can be a valuable tool. Your blog is a great place to showcase your knowledge and dive in-depth on your products, in a way that you wouldn’t able to in a quick tweet or status update. 

The downside is that B2B marketing has a reputation for being boring – and, unfortunately, in our experience a lot of the content we see lives up to that expectation. There’s a common misconception that blogs targeted towards other businesses need to have a straightforward or corporate feel. While we don’t believe you should compromise your professionalism, we believe it’s possible to share your knowledge without putting everyone to sleep. 

If you’re looking to give your business marketing a more approachable feel, we suggest you check out these tips to keep your marketing focused, but fun, for the reader. We believe that B2B marketing done right might even be what helps set you apart from a competitor! 

 

10 Ways to Make B2B Blogs More Enjoyable  |  Hue & Tone Creative

 

1.  Talk like a human

No matter how interested a potential customer is in your topic, talking like a robot is going to lead to people clicking off your website. Type like you talk, keep it simple, and don’t be afraid to push the conventional boundaries -- i.e. don’t let that red squiggly line stop you from experimenting with your words!

One caveat? Just make sure your meaning and professionalism aren’t lost in too much slang. If you wouldn’t say something in the workplace, don’t type it on the blog. 

 

2.  Don’t forget the fun factor

Business owners, directors, and managers still have a sense of humor, so don’t sap all the fun out of your blogs. Adding fun anecdotes or playful pictures into your blogs can help them feel more relatable. 

 

3.  Don’t baffle them with jargon

Getting lost in the jargon of a blog is never productive. Ever. Even though you’re addressing to other experts in your field, you’ll want to talk in simple terms and only use jargon when it’s needed. You never want to assume every reader knows what you do, so be sure to explain terms on the first instance you use them.

 

4.  Don’t publish a wall of text

Stay away from clunky chunks of text -- they’re not enjoyable to look at or read. Use subheadings, pull quotes, and succinct paragraphs to make your text easier to browse. Even if you’re publishing a whitepaper, there’s no reason not to give your readers a pleasant and intuitive experience. 

 

5.  Mix up your mediums

Remember, blogs don’t always have to be written like an article. Try out creating an infographic or recording a video blog. You can also consider publishing presentations or papers – it’s content you’ve already created, and chances are if it was worth presenting about it’s a relevant topic. Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to, just share the work you’ve already done! 

 

6.  Use images creatively

In need of some fresh photos? We’ve complied a list of FREE stock photo sites

If your blog is long, add a few images in along the way so that it’s not too text heavy. Be creative with your choice of images, and try to refrain from using the same handful of stock photos repeatedly. 

 

7.  Keep it concise

Business owners are busy people, so the last thing they want is to have to read through three paragraphs of mumbo jumbo before actually getting to the relevant information. Get to the point early on and it’ll be a more enjoyable read all round.

 

8.  Use examples

Examples can be a great way to show off how you can help. Using real life scenarios are often more relatable to potential customers and give you a chance to show off your results and solutions. So, instead of explaining, start showing what you can do!

 

9. Sentence structures

Writing is a craft. Not everyone’s good at it -- nor are they expected to be. But when you’ve got a good writer on board, they can make even dullest topics enjoyable. Something as simple as mixing up sentence structures can quickly ramp up the readability-factor.

 

10.  Reader participation

Whether it’s adding a quick poll half way through a post or inviting readers to leave a comment at the end, getting your audience involved with your blog is another way to get them more invested in the content. 


Hue & Tone: Your partner in B2B Content Creation 

Need a helping hand to elevate your blogs to the next level? Here at Hue & Tone Creative, we’ve got you covered from the right words right to the perfect picture. Contact us today to learn more about our design and marketing services.

How to design a user-friendly form (and still get the information you need)

How to design a user-friendly form (and still get the information you need)  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Forms are essential for gathering user’s information in a smart and efficient way. Getting them wrong means a poor user experience and abandoned leads – which translates to missed opportunities and lost revenue. 

Because the formatting and design of your forms has a direct impact on how well they convert, we’ve collated some top tips to make sure your forms are performing as effectively as possible.  

 

1.  Form length: Always question the why

How long should a good form be? The more fields you give a user to fill out, the less likely someone will be to complete it. However, the more information a lead is willing to give, the more likely they are to be a qualified lead. Like most questions of quality versus quantity, the key is to strike a balance. 

For every question you have in your form, take a moment and really ask yourself why do I need this detail at this stage of the user’s journey? If some of the information can wait until later on in the buyer’s journey, consider leaving it out in an effort to streamline your form.

 

2.  Page placement

When adding a form to your website, it’s important to place the form near the top of the page. Visitors shouldn’t have to scroll to get to your form – and if they do, chances are they won’t fill the form out. 

 

3. Tailor the keyboard

In this day and age all forms need to be mobile responsive. But, did you know you can also take user experience a step further by customizing keyboard layouts? 

This one’s only for mobile or tablet forms, but we thought it deserved its own shout out. To make the user’s life eveneasier, you can code your site so that the keyboard changes each time a user clicks on a new field. For example, the keyboard will default to digits when they’re filling out their phone number. 

For more on how to do that, check out this Treehouse article

 

4.  Time saving tactics

Users are accustomed to a quick and easy sign-up process – nothing should slow them down from filling out the form you provided. To make sure their experience is as streamlined as possible, make sure you’re abiding by these tips: 

  • If the user has already provided you with information, make sure you’re pre-populating any fields you can.  
  • Instead of waiting until users click “submit,” make sure to highlight errors or overlooked fields as soon as users click on to the next field. Boxes with incorrect information should be highlighted in red straight away – that way users won’t be stuck scrolling through a form trying to figure out what needs to be fixed. 
  • If what you’re asking might be unclear, be sure to add descriptive information or a tip call out near what you’re asking. If a user gets stuck, you can be sure they’ll abandon the form. 
  • If there’s no way around using a lengthy form, give users an option to save their information so that they can return and complete it at a later date. And, if this is the case, be sure to automate email reminders that will nudge them to come back and complete the form. 

 

5. Submit button

Once the form is filled out, the last major factor for form success is the “submit” button. While labeling this button “submit” seems like an obvious choice, it may not be the best choice. 

According to Hubspot, landing pages with buttons labeled “Submit” actually have lower conversion rates than those that use other wording. Consider buttons that relate back to your initial offer, or sound less committal than "Submit." Try out things like: "Go," "Download your free e-book," or "Get Started." 

 

Further reading:  

Looking for a more resources on how to create effective forms and successfully convert leads? We’ll leave you with these three suggestions for further reading: 


Hue & Tone Creative: Greensboro Web, Design, and Social

No matter what your marketing needs, we've got your back. Take a look at all of the services we offer and then get in touch -- we'll work with you to set up a custom marketing solution that addresses all your needs. 

5 signs you need help with your content

5 signs you need help with your content  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Your content is at the core of everything you do. Every part of your business relies on strongly written content – everything from your website and welcome emails to business cards and online ads. 

But how do you know if your content is connecting with potential and future customers? We’ve put together a list of 5 key signs that you need to revamp your content or bring in some outside help to revive it. 

 

1.  Your traffic isn’t converting

Plenty of people are landing on your website, but your conversion rates are way below what you’d expect them to be. There are a whole load of factors that could be contributing to this, but content tends to be one of them – along with page design, graphics, and mobile compatibility. 

Across industries, the average landing page conversion rate was 2.35%, yet the top 25% are converting at 5.31% or higher. Ideally, you want to break into the top 10% — these are the landing pages with conversion rates of 11.45% or higher. 

Ask yourself -- does your content do your product or service justice? Does it clearly explain what you’re about? Does it speak to your audience in a way they want to be spoken to? Is it accurate and engaging? Does it give people a reason to choose you over your competitors? If you just answered with a stream of no’s, there’s plenty of room for improvement.

If you’re not sure how your content is being received, consider sending out a survey or asking a few key customers for their thoughts. Sometimes an outside perspective is needed!

 

2.  Your website it stale

When’s the last time you added a piece of content to your site? So long ago you can’t remember? Well, therein lies your problem.

Google likes to see fresh content, and places greater value on up-to-date, newsworthy articles. In a nutshell, if you don’t have fresh content, this means you could be impeding your efforts to gain organic traffic. A simple way to overcome this is by adding a blog section (and actually posting on it!) which will help improve your SEO (find out more about that here).

In addition to a blog, consider setting a calendar reminder that goes off every 6 months to prompt you to review and update the content on your static web pages.

 

3.  Social media struggles

If you’re constantly grasping for ideas of what to post on social media, it’s probably because you don’t have anything to shout about, and the reason you don’t have anything to shout about is probably because you haven’t published anything new – or, worse, you’re out of touch with your audience.

Regular, relevant content will bring your social media streams to life, give you something to talk about, get your audience engaging with you, and drive traffic to your website.

 

4.  People aren’t talking about you

If you want people to talk about you, you need to give them something to talk about. Producing great content will get people sharing it on social media, encourage other websites to link to your material, and can help get your audience engaged in new ways. 

The end result? Brand awareness, word of mouth advertising, more inbound links (which will benefit your SEO efforts) and inevitably more leads.

 

5.  No internal linking opportunities

Internal linking aids your website’s navigation, help you define the architecture and hierarchy of your site, and plays a part in building your website authority. 

When it comes down to it, the more relevant content you have, the more opportunities you have to add internal links. For example, we sent you to this article about SEO earlier in our blog post – but because we have so much relevant content we also could have linked you to this article or this article… or even this one! See? Relevant content builds linking opportunities. 


When it comes down to it, having a bank of relevant content not only makes your marketing more effective – it also makes things easier on you in the long run. Having a deep well of articles and posts to send people to gives you more to promote – as well as the behind-the-scenes SEO benefits of establishing authority. 

If you’re stuck on what to post about, we’ll leave you with this blog series for a little further reading. 


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5 things we need to know before designing your website

5 things designers need to know before designing your website  |  Hue & Tone Creative

You want a brilliant website. We want you have to a brilliant website. But, to make that happen, there’s the small matter of distinguishing between what you think you want and what your business really needs.

Before we get going, here are a few quick facts for you. Did you know:

  • 38% of people say they’d leave a website if its content/layout was unattractive?
  • 94% of people gave poor web design as the reason for mistrusting or rejecting a website?
  • 46% of mobile users face difficulties interacting with a web page?

If anyone who’s reading this post doubts the importance of a good website, hopefully we’ll be able to clear up any confusion!

Whether you’re looking for a brand spanking new website or a revamp of your existing site, here are five things we need to know before helping you embark on your web design or redesign.

 

1.  What's the purpose of your site?

There’s a reason we’ve started with this question: it’s probably the most important one. Why? Because your end goal will heavily determine your website’s look, feel, navigation and layout.

Is your aim to sell a product or a service? Or both? Are you B2B or B2C? Are your offerings low or high value? Or do you exist to ply people with knowledge and information? Are you on the web to raise awareness? Or are you after a personal portfolio? There are endless options. All we need know is which goal is applicable to you – and the more specific the goal the better.

 

2. Who's your target audience? 

Your audience and their persona also play a large part in engineering your website, and this is where collecting data comes in handy. Examples of persona information include

 

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  • Age bracket
  • Employment status
  • Living arrangements
  • Education
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Salary
  • Online behaviors
  • Pain points
  • Motivators
  • Personality traits
     

All of these elements (and more) will influence how people interact with a website and what makes them tick, which is why it’s essential the behavior of your ideal end user is incorporated into your design.

 

3. What kind of content will you be using?

You can’t have design without words, right? So who’ll be writing those words: you or us? If it’s us, do you have tone of voice guidelines? 

And, do you plan on having a blog? Try and think of the long game for this one. Even if you don’t think you’re in the position to have one in the immediate future, is it in the pipeline? If so, it makes sense to factor it into the design stage from the get go.

 

4.  What kind of branding do you already have established?  

If this isn’t your first stab at a site, it’s likely you’ll already have some form of branding guidelines established – for both your on and offline brand elements. So, the question is, are there elements of that branding you’re adamant on keeping? And if so, why? We need to know the why to help us build a robust picture of how you want your brand to look.

What have you learned about your existing brand since you started using it? How are customers responding – good or bad? Knowing this will help us to make any necessary tweaks to your branding so you can reach your maximum potential. 

Bonus question: If we’re making tweaks to your branding on the website, do you also need help updating things like your emails, social media, brochures, and letterhead?

 

5.  Do you have any no-go's?

Whether it’s from an old website of yours, your competitors’, or the local store you buy your groceries from -- are there any color palettes, page layouts, fonts or image styles you absolutely do not like? If so, let us know! 

This’ll help us to build only the elements you like into our wireframes and reduce unnecessary back and forth. The end result? You get your polished, finished product as soon as possible!


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Why You Need To Be Blogging

When business is booming, it’s easy to put blogging on the back burner. If you blog frequently, it can seem logical to cut back on something that can require a lot of your thought, time, resources, and skill. However, investing all that time and skill has a very real payoff -- 74% of businesses say that engaging blog content increases their quality and quantity of leads. Surely worth the investment, right?

There are umpteen reasons you need to be blogging, but for the purpose of this post we’ll focus our attention solely on some of the top SEO and brand authority benefits.
 

Why you need to be blogging  |  Hue & Tone Creative


Blogging is a staple part of your SEO strategy


Linking

First and foremost, blogging gives you significantly more opportunity to link internally. The logic is simple -- the more quality content you have on your site, the more relevant pages you can point visitors to.

The second opportunity comes in the form of external links. If you’re pushing out engaging, authoritative, and useful content, other sites will want to link to it, so that they can add value to their audience, too. Evergreen content (timeless content that attracts both first time and repeat readers) is especially great for this, because it can earn you links until the end of time - for free!
 

Enhance your engagement

Blogging not only helps to get visitors landing on your site, but it helps to retain them too. So, why does this matter? Low bounce rates and longer session durations are signs that you’re providing people with quality content, which is exactly what search engines look for when serving people search results. 

Long-term, this will boost your rankings and help you come up higher in a Google search. 
 

Target your keywords

Blogging is the perfect platform to target all your keywords – as long as you’re incorporating them organically, of course. It allows you to answer the questions your audience is asking, to engineer your content strategy towards what’s being searched for, and to produce intent-based blogs that help to convert.

The end result? Higher rankings, greater organic visibility, more traffic and an increase in sales.

 

Blogging build your brand’s authority


Become an industry leader

By pushing out timely, high-quality, accurate, and interesting content on a regular basis, you’ll prove yourself as a leader in your arena. People will trust you. When they’ve got a question, they’ll come directly to you. They’ll recommend you to others. And they’ll build a rapport with you without a single word being spoken.
 

They’ll keep on coming back

Great quality content wins lasting relationships. Poor quality content turns people away. One less than interesting article can lose you a visitor for life - it sounds extreme, but it’s true. Cast your mind back to a time when you landed on a poorly put together piece of content: what impression did it leave? And, how fast did you click away from that site? 
 

Get your name out there

Having a regular flow of posts helps you get your business out there. Whether it gets traction from external sites, is shared on social media, included in your weekly newsletter or promoted in paid ads, it gives you something to shout about. Without it, you’ll soon run out of things to say.

 

So, that’s it for our handpicked pros of blogging. What else do you need to know? Leave us a comment below! 


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4 methods to measure your web traffic

Having a slick looking website is key. Having quality content is key. Having an SEO strategy is key. Having an enviable UX journey is key. But what use is all of that if you can’t, or aren’t, monitoring your results?

Measuring traffic is a monumental part of running a website - without it, all your efforts are essentially a guessing game. The benefits of meaningfully measuring your traffic are almost endless, but here’s a summary of our top six. It:
 

  • Identifies which pages are and aren’t working for you
  • Shows you where improvements can be made
  • Presents your business’ peaks and troughs
  • Allows you to identify trends and patterns
  • Provides a benchmark to continually evolve
  • Puts tangible data behind future design, journey and content adaptations
     

If you’re new to this data-driven side of things it can be daunting, but it needn’t be. To help you start your web traffic measurement journey, we’ve got four easy-to-use tools to share with you.

4 methods to measure your web traffic  |  Hue & Tone Creative


1. Google Analytics

Given it’s the leader of the pack, it only seemed natural to start with Google Analytics (GA). GA is a completely free tracking and reporting platform provided by Google, and it’s an absolute beast in the world of web traffic measurement.

So, let’s take a look at some key metrics you need to be getting the most out of:

Sources: Whether it’s email, SEO, PPC, social, referrals or otherwise, with GA, you can keep abreast of exactly which campaigns are driving traffic to your site, and how much of it they’re bringing in. This will help you to understand which campaigns are working, and which ones are falling flat.

Bounce rate: this is the number of people who land on your site and then ‘bounce’ straight back out. With this one, the lower the number the better. The bounce rate is a really good indicator as to how visitors interact with your site.

A high bounce rate could mean that people find the corresponding page difficult to navigate around, that they don’t like what’s on the page, or that the page isn’t what they expected it to be. Conversely, a low bounce rate shows that visitors have engaged with the page, so much so that they’ve gone and had a look elsewhere on your website.

Time on page: this one ties in nicely with what we’ve just been talking about. A high bounce rate and little time spent on page is the worst combo. Why? Because it’s a sign that the visitor is highly disengaged with what they’ve landed on.

On a more optimistic note, long page durations will show you which pages and content types visitors are interested in, which may help steer the direction you take other pages of your site.

Exit pages: quite simply, this’ll show you at what point visitors are abandoning your site. So, why is this so important? Of course, everyone will leave at one point or another, but if there’s a trend emerging that lots of your visitors are leaving on x page before they complete a conversion, it may well be a sign that some form of action needs taking to rectify it.

Such is the size of GA’s traffic tracking capabilities, we could literally go on forever. But hopefully we’ve given you a flavor of how it can steer your overall strategy.

 

2.  A/B testing

A/B testing lets you change what your traffic sees when it lands on your site - this could be anything from the text on the page to the color of a button.

So, why’s this so great? Because it puts real-life data behind which variations work best, which can subsequently steer your marketing efforts - for the better.

With A/B testing under your belt, you’re no longer sticking your finger in the air and implementing changes based on what you think might work. Instead, you can make informed decisions using a reliable and representative source of data.

One thing worth mentioning is that’s important to be patient and wait until you’ve built up a decent pot of data before coming to any conclusions. As with any type of research, the numbers need to be statistically significant to add value. Not sure what this means? Check out this calculator to help you with the maths. 

 

3.  Heatmaps

Another method you can use to measure your web traffic is setting up heatmaps: enter Hotjar (they’re big guns in this arena).

Heatmaps are a really handy way to monitor how your traffic interacts with pages on your site, by tallying up numbers for things like clicks, taps and scrolling behavior.

What does this tell you about your traffic? Well, it tells you where on your page visitors are losing interest. It tells you where people are clicking most, which might steer the placement of your page’s assets. It tells you if certain elements on your page are getting lost. And it tells you which part(s) of the page are drawing the most attention.

All of these learnings can form the basis of navigational, design and content decisions.

As with A/B testing, you should wait until you have a meaningful amount of data before interpreting your numbers and coming to conclusions. Heatmaps work by adding a snippet of code onto chosen pages, so if you’re after quick wins, it might be worth starting with sections of your site that you know receive large volumes of traffic.

 

4.  Visitor videos

Last but not least is the use of visitor recording tools. Admittedly, some of the perks overlap with that of a heatmap, but while heatmaps provide valuable numbers, videos let you actually see your visitors in action.

This helps you monitor and measure your traffic by:

  • Understanding visitors’ movements
  • Seeing how visitors interact on an individual level
  • Getting under the skin of why people get stuck in certain sections
  • Seeing exactly where visitors abandon you and forming a picture of the ‘why’
  • Allowing you to test new designs and journeys and how they impact your user experience.

The end result? Ample learnings to feed into your website strategy. If you’re unsure of where to go for video recording support, tools like UXPin, Inspectlet, Hotjar and Mouseflow do it well.


HUE & TONE: YOUR WEB MARKETING EXPERTS 

Know what you need to improve about your website, but not sure how to do it? Need a fresh perspective on your content and design? Give us a call. We're here to help you with all your web and graphic design needs -- big or small.