Web

Forecasting for 2019: Social Media Trends

Social media continued to dominate the world of marketing through 2018. From an increase in live streaming and Instagram stories to customized chatbots and an ever-increasing emphasis on social listening, brands all over the globe have been improving their tactics by carefully tracking each platform’s changing trends.

Because social media’s constantly evolving, what works today won’t necessarily work tomorrow -so let’s take a look at what we predict is on the horizon for 2019.

Forecasting for 2019: social media trends  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Authenticity

Social scandals were rife last year. From fake news to personal data breaches, social media made the headlines for all the wrong reasons, causing users to really question who they could trust.

As a direct result, 2019’s expected to bring a change in what kind of content is popular. Instead of focusing on social reach, brands are likely to shift their focus to creating genuinely meaningful, transparent and personalized content. This’ll inevitably increase the time it takes to create quality social media content, but the level of engagement that comes as a result will likely justify the time investment.

 

Social stories

Social media stories grew at an exponential rate in 2018 and there’s no sign of that growth slowing down in 2019. According to findings published by Block Party, social stories are growing 15 times faster than feed-based updates, and some believe they’re set to surpass it completely in the not-too-distant future.

 If you’re not already on the social stories bandwagon, it’s certainly time to hop on board. But remember, stories require a different approach to be effective. Instead of being static updates (like with your feed), they should be live (even raw), provide a narrative, be personal, and give your followers a glimpse behind the scenes.

 

Instant messaging

 Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp now boast 2.8 billion users between them. That’s a whole load of potential interaction. The jury’s still out on whether instant messaging intrudes customers’ personal space, but there’s no denying that it’s worth trying out with your customer base. 

In an almost completely digital world, 89% of consumers are crying out for businesses to branch out into instant messaging apps for their customer service. However, the same study uncovered only 48% of companies are equipped to do so. That’s a lofty gap to close in order to meet consumers’ expectations – and we expect the gap will begin to close in 2019.

 

Dimensional ads

Over the years, social media ads have become saturated. Whether it’s a sponsored story, promoted post, or suggested follow, the majority of businesses invest in them, which has lead to increase in prices and a chance in consumer mindset. 

Social ad overload has begun turning audiences off – and many social media users are so inundated they’re starting to become oblivious.

Big brands like Spotify and Netflix have already taken their paid social approach to the next level by building them into full-fledged campaigns that incorporate videos, motion graphics, and narratives. These multichannel platforms are focused on driving engagement, upping discussion, and building trust. In 2019, it’s expected many other businesses will follow suit to stand out from an increasingly competitive crowd.

 

Groups 

1.4 billion Facebook users tap into the platform’s groups every month, and their usage saw a 40% uplift in the last year alone. Groups are valued by consumers for their intimacy, and because they allow consumers to hold more meaningful discussions in a relatively private forum.

Tapping into this trend requires additional patience and planning – but those who put in the work can expect to see big gains in trust in 2019. 


Hue & Tone Creative: Social Media Services

If you need a hand getting your business’ social media in shape for 2019 (and beyond), then you’ve found the right site. Get in touch with our team today at (336) 365-8559 to see what we can do for you.

8 elements of a great economic development website

8 elements of a great economic development website  |  Hue & Tone Creative

Creating a strong online presence for your development project allows you to widen your reach and share information with interested people and businesses. In addition to capturing the essence of your city or surroundings, your website should also follow a few marketing best practices in order to enhance your effectiveness. 

The things that make an economic development website great are the same things that make any website a dream: intuitive navigation, on-trend branding, and clear messaging. But what else can really help your website stand out from the pack? 

Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to overhaul what you’ve currently got, here are eight useful tips to help you get the most out of your economic development website.

 

1. Make your mission clear 

If you want to stand out, your mission needs to be clear, inspiring and distinguishable from the competition. The overarching goal for any economic development campaign is to connect with prospective companies about why you’re a good fit for their company.  

To lure potential job creators to your area, you’ll need to thoroughly develop your mission statement and make sure it’s clear who you’re targeting, how your site or area will benefit them, how you plan to engage them, and what the next steps will be. 

 

2. Show off your support

No one does economic development alone –chances are you have a handful of partner organizations and public or private financial backing. People should easily be able to determine who is involved with your project, and what portions of the project they are involved with.

However, just adding this information to your website isn’t enough –you’ll want to keep people updated as your project progresses. It can take years for a project to go from the idea stage to groundbreaking, and staying active on social media or sending out a monthly newsletter can help keep people bought in to your project. 

 

3. Use statistics sensibly 

If you are using statistics to support something you’ve said or to support the value of your mission, make sure they’re up-to-date, accurate, and applicable. If you try engineering semi-relevant stats to fit your message, you’ll just end up confusing your audience. 

 Use tailored statistics and use them sparingly to make the most impact on your audience. 

 

4. Disclose individual contacts

Don’t use generic email addresses like info@mywebsite.com or contact@mywebsite.com. Potential site consultants will want to be able to do research on all parties involved and want to know they’re about to build a personal connection with someone. 

We suggest including the name, job title, email address, contact number and photo of each of your employees.

 

5. Stick to the three-click rule

You might have lots of really great content on your website, but if your visitors can’t find it, it’s not going to be doing you any good. The less clicks visitors have to make the better!

As a general rule, you don’t want to make pertinent information further than three clicks away from any given location on your site.

 

6. Don’t cut corners on imagery

The look and feel of your online presence is clearly important –but it’s not just about branding. When you’re choosing your imagery, don’t cut corners on the quality. 

There will be times when you’re selling a vision for a mid-construction project, which means you may have to use stock photography. If that’s the case, look for images that feel authentic. Try to target stock images that all have a similar style so that your site looks cohesive. 

If you’re in the early stages of a project, we suggest incorporating lots of placemaking imagery to give prospects a better sense of your community. Photos of lively town centers will help balance out the sterile feel of elevation drawings and floorplans.

 

7. Boast about your buy-in

If you’re in the early stages of a project or are searching for an anchor tenant, community buy-in matters. Showing off major backers will definitely turn heads -- but if you’re stretched for valuable web content don’t limit yourself to just the big names. 

Consider compiling a semi-exhaustive directory of all the small businesses and civic leaders who are engaged with your project. Pull quotes that highlight public support to convey a feeling of success…before you’ve even broken ground. 

 

8. Keep it fresh

Keeping your stats up-to-date is one thing, keeping the rest of your content fresh is another. When a project is in a construction lull, or you’re waiting for permits to come through, it can be easy to let your content get stale. 

To make sure you don’t fall into a rut, we suggest putting together a content calendar together that highlights key developments for the next year. This will help you brainstorm relevant content for the down times and force you to think outside of the box. Just be sure to keep revisiting your content calendar as construction schedules change! 


Let’s get into business: together.

If you need a partner to help you optimize your website, help you develop a campaign, or maintain your social media efforts, get in touch at 336-365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com.

How to maximize your Black Friday marketing efforts

Black Friday officially marks the start to the holiday shopping season. It’s the kick off to what has turned into a four-day shopping frenzy – and whether you’re looking to capture Black Friday shoppers or Cyber Monday sales, you’ll have tons of consumers who are ready to jump on limited-time only deals. 

While this means the competition out there will be tough, it also means you’ve got a load of hungry consumers to target. If you’re gearing up to get in on the Black Friday or Cyber Monday action, here are five tips to help you make the most of your marketing.

How to maximize your Black Friday marketing efforts  |  Hue & Tone Creative

 1. Start it early

Don’t wait until the night before to advertise your Black Friday bargains. We’d recommend warming your audience up a week or two in advance so they: 

  • Know to come straight to you once your sale starts

  • Can start scouting out what items they might put in their basket

  • Can spread the word on your behalf

 

2. Be clear

People aren’t mind readers, so make it super easy for them to find out when your sale starts/ends, what the discounts will be, and which products or services they’ll apply to.

Drumming your Black Friday bonanza up to be something bigger and better than it is is a risky game to play. You run the risk of not only annoying customers on the day of, but also losing their long-term interest as well. 

 

3. Check your capacity 

If you’re lucky, your server will see a steep spike in traffic on and around Black Friday as consumers hunt through your site for the best deal. Make sure your systems can handle the increase in volume with ease - the last thing you want is your site or app crashing during peak buying times.

 

4. Take a targeted approach

Instead of sending out blanket marketing campaigns and hoping for the best, take the time to create a more tailored approach by digging into people’s behavior and targeting them based on past habits. 

Target people who have recently abandoned carts full of items that are now going on sale. It takes more time to set up, but if done right the results will be worth it. 

 

5. Make sure you standout 

Whatever medium you’re using - email, social media, direct mail, or otherwise, there’s a lot of competition out there. But it’s not only your competitors you’re competing against. 

You need to make sure your marketing collateral stands out from the stuff you typically send out so that recipients sit up, pay attention, and immediately click through to your website. Find the balance between an eye-catching Black Friday ad and your usual brand. It’s a great time to push the boundaries of your every day branding – just don’t lose your brand completely. 


Your Holiday Marketing Partner

Not sure where to start? Not a problem. Whether it’s support with your landing pages, social media strategy or email campaign, we’ve got you covered. For last minute Black Friday support, reach out to us at 336-365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com.

Best 404 pages: Designs that stand out

In an ideal world, your website visitors would never find themselves faced with a 404 page. But, suffice it to say, this isn’t an ideal world — people type things in wrong, links break, and technical difficulties happen.

Although your first plan of action should be ensuring there are no broken links on your site in the first place, there are ways you can make the most of a bad situation. If a visitor finds themselves facing a 404 page, you can turn their irritation into an opportunity to entertain them, sell yourself, or provide them with valuable resources.

Here’s a few people we think will delight their customers with their weird and wonderful 404 pages:

Pixar

It’s clean. It’s simple. It’s on-brand. It’s a complete over-exaggeration of the reaction you probably had. And in our opinion, it completely works.

Pixar.png

Bluepath 

Funny and relevant: the best combination! Bluepath’s a data strategy company, so they aptly designed a data-driven map to show their lost visitors where they stood.

BluePath.png

Lego

Like Pixar, Lego let their 404 page serve as an extension of their existing brands. They capitalized on a few favorite characters to illustrate the situation visitors have found themselves in. 

Lego.png

HubSpot

Not every brand necessarily has a set of iconic characters to bring their 404 page to life. But, as HubSpot have shown, this doesn't have to stop you from having a bit of fun.

They’ve also smartly reinforced their audience’s love of their services and cleverly tried to redirect them to a handful of other, selected pages - win, win!


GitHub

If all else fails, state the obvious. Super simple, but just as on brand.


Emirates

Everyone loves a good pun, right? The beauty of Emirates’ 404 result is that it puts their people on the page and capitalizes on a very obvious but on brand, pun-filled message.

Emirates.png

eHarmony

Another superb example of how your 404 page’s message can wittily relate back to your organization’s core message.


NPR 

Now there’s a lot more text on NPR’s 404 page than most, but it totally works. They do a lot here: in addition to giving you an alternative way to find what you’re looking for, they work in a little foolproof humor and even point you to a few other articles.


Magnt

There’s two elements on this page that we absolutely love:

1)   It puts some of the onus on the visitor - after all, 404s aren’t always the website’s fault!

2)   They’ve maximized on every single opportunity and managed to turn their 404 page into a sales pitch for their product


A couple of 404 basics…

 Now that we’ve taken a look at a few great examples, it’s time to create your own awesome 404 page. Daring 404 page designs aren’t for everyone, but even the most basic of templates must include:

Key links - make it easy for visitors to navigate their way back to live pages on your site. Ideally, you should make sure your main navigation bar is prominent on your 404 pages.

Branding - just because your 404 page isn’t a page you intentionally want to drive traffic to, doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Keep the look and feel of it consistent to that of your site so people know you’re still close by.


 Hue & Tone Creative: Custom design and marketing

When it comes to web design, we know what we’re doing. For help creating a killer 404 page or an entire website, make the first move toward better web marketing today: 336-365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com.

12 tips for a successful webinar

If done right, webinars are a great way to engage your audience, add credibility to your name, build meaningful relationships, and raise your brand awareness. But if things go poorly, you’ll be funneling a lot of time and energy into a failed presentation. 

Not sure what “getting it right” looks like? Well, we’ve put 12 tips together to help guide the creation of your webinar.  

12 tips for a successful webinar  |  Hue & Tone Creative


1. Make sure the speaker’s engaging 

If you’re expecting your audience to tune in for 10, 20, 45 or 50+ minutes, make sure the person delivering the webinar has a voice for it. You need someone who has an enthusiastic tone and, most importantly, is clear with their delivery. 

 

2. Sound out the sound quality 

There’s nothing more annoying than trying to intently listen to something that’s too quiet, keeps crackling, or has irritating background noise behind it. Do a few test runs before you go live so that you can ensure your sound quality is top notch.

 

3. Don’t forget about the design

As with any collateral you produce, your webinar slide design needs to be high-quality and on brand. Use easy to read brand typefaces, don’t cram too much on one slide, and don’t go overboard on graphics or photos. 

 

4. Analyze the length

There’s no golden rule when it comes to the length of your webinar. If you’ve got past recordings to learn from, see what time people tend to drop off and take it from there. If this is your first ever webinar, we would suggest never going over 60 minutes. 

 

12 tips for a successful webinar  |  Hue & Tone Creative

5. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

No matter how confident you are with your delivery skills, always do a test run. Fine tune the order of the slides, practice tongue-twisting lines, and work out all the glitch with your transitions –it’s better to work these things out now rather than later.   

It’s a good idea to have someone sit in on the practice run too - their fresh perspective might help you uncover issues you hadn’t previously picked up on.

 

6. Keep it conversational

Unless you’re delivering your webinar to robots, keep it conversational. It’ll make it easier for people to keep up with and digest, and itwill bring that all-important human element to it.

 

7. Introduce Q&As

Allowing a forum for Q&A’s is a great way to involve your audience, keep them engaged, and provide them with key takeaways that are tailored to them. 


8. Speak in second person

Refer to your audience as ‘you’. This’ll help submerge them into what you’re saying, build interaction, and make the entire webinar feel as though it’s being delivered to them on an individual level.

 

9. Bring it to life

Refer to real-life experiences throughout your webinar. In doing this, you’ll instantly make the information more relatable –and, the power of storytelling often makes details easier to remember.

 

10. Keep mobile in mind 

When you’re doing your test run, bear in mind that people might be watching your webinar on either their desktop, tablet, or mobile. So, make sure it works and streams easily on all types of devices. 

 

11. Your personal plug 

Don’t forget to mention your product or service at least one point - after all, the goal (whether now or in the future) is a sale. Just make sure you don’t go overboard. If your pitch is toosales-y you run the risk of listeners zoning out.

 

12. Don’t forget time differences

Last but not least, if you’re targeting people from different countries or time zones, factor these variances into the date and time you’re hosting your webinar –no matter what you’re sharing, people probably won’t wake up at 2am to see it. 


Hue & Tone Creative: Marketing for Greensboro, NC and beyond

If you feel like your webinar isn’t connecting, we can help you take your content to the next level. We can work with you on every marketing project, no matter what the format. To get an idea of what we can do, see some of the projects we’ve worked on in the past or get in touch.

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.