Web Design

4 common web design mistakes - and how to fix them

You can have the best product on your shelves, the best customer service around, the best words on your webpages, and the best advice on your blogs, but, if your website’s design isn’t up to par it can all fall flat. 

Getting your website’s aesthetics just right can be a tough nut to crack - especially if it’s not your area of expertise. Small mistakes here and there can wreak havoc with your conversion rate. Many of these web design blunders are easily avoidable – or can be quickly corrected. 

4 Common Web Design Mistakes -- and how to fix them  |  Hue & Tone Creative

All you need is the knowledge about how to correct them, and then you can get your design quickly back on track. If you’re not sure where you might be going wrong, here are four common mistakes we come across and how to overcome them:

1. Hidden contact details

Getting people to land on your website is one half of the battle, getting people to take action is the other. So, make it as easy as possible for visitors to find your form, email, or number.

All too often, organizations leave their contact details buried in their footer or three links deep into their navigation, making it hard to get in touch. 

The fix: Task someone who doesn’t know your site inside and out with tracking down your contact details. If they report back it took them more than a second or two, it’s time to look at your placement. A couple of easy-to-see suggestions include: 

  • At the top right of your main navigation bar, so it’s instantly visible on every page

  • Within your main navigation bar, clearly labelled - something like ‘Contact us’ or ‘Get in touch’

2. Cluttered pages

4 Common Web Design Mistakes -- and how to fix them  |  Hue & Tone Creative

The phrase “less is more” couldn’t be more true when it comes to designing a clean and easy to navigate web page. Lots of sites out there are guilty of cramming each and every page with images, buttons, text, and widget – but all these elements are competing for your visitor’s attention and can quickly become overwhelming. 

People don’t know where to look, what to read, or what’s most important, and they certainly can’t skim your content - all of which can be a big turn-off.

The fix: Go through your website page-by-page and really question what the value of each element is. If there isn’t a motivation behind a certain element, go ahead and remove it. Once you’ve whittled your on-page items down to the essentials, start strategizing about each page’s hierarchy. Make sure you’re incorporating clear call to actions and plenty of whitespace.

Shameless plug: hiring a designer might help with this.

3. Fatal contact forms

Complicated contact forms can be fatal to your conversion rates. If you’ve got lines and lines of fields to fill in, there’s a good chance your visitors will take one look, race to the back button, and exit your site altogether. After all, time is of the essence for everyone on your website or social media. 


The fix: Similar to your site’s pages, go through all your forms field-by-field to see what info is and isn’t needed. For example, you probably don’t need a prospect’s address until they’re further down the funnel – so don’t ask for it, because it could deter people from filling out your form.

In most cases, we recommend keeping forms to just a name and email address. Often, even just an email address field will suffice. 

By the end of this process you should be left with concise, tidy forms, and a clear plan for your data collection strategy.

After some extra advice? Here’s more on how to design a user-friendly form.

4. Absent search boxes

Quick tip: Another quick and easy workaround could be Google Custom Search.

If your site’s relatively big (more than 10 - 20 pages including regular pages, products, blogs, etc.) it’s probably a good idea to add a search box. It makes your site easier to navigate and ensures people will be able to find the content they’re looking for. No more worrying about people leaving the site because the blog post they were looking for was buried in your archives! 


The fix: The solution will depend on your CMS. Some will have a search box feature built-in for you to download, but for other platforms you might have to source a developer to help create a custom one. 


Hue & Tone Creative: Your Website Design Expert

If you’ve not got the time or experience to give your website’s design the attention it needs, then we’re here to give it the TLC it deserves. To see what we can do for you, get in touch today at (336) 365-8559 or hannah@hueandtonecreative.com.

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. 

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. 

15 Questions to Ask Your Designer Before Hiring Them

15 questions to ask your designer before hiring them   |  Hue & Tone Creative

“You’re hired,” maybe two of the greatest words ever uttered. These babies mean rising employment rates and new beginnings and additional human resources helping to further your professional dreams. The human resource in this case being the much sought-after web designer.

Entrusting your business’s online presence to a trained professional is an excellent choice.  However, before journeying any further, there’s something you must consider: you’re the boss. Like with any other hire, it’s your responsibility to find the right talent to perform the task. Here are 15 questions you should ask a designer before shouting, in boss-like fashion, “you’re hired!”

 

1. What are your qualifications/professional background?

Your designer will work for you; at least for a time. It’s not unreasonable to seek more information about this person or the company in question. Inquiries regarding past work, training, and experience are all fair game and a good start.

 

2. How are your services priced?

This may not seem like an important matter upfront, but it’s one that you want to clarify early. The designer probably can’t provide a complete quote at this stage, especially if you haven’t yet articulated all the specifications for your site. This question pertains to how the designer arrives at the total. Does she prefer to work hourly or is the work charged as a flat-fee? Are some items only available a la carte, such as a logo design, or are packages offered? Understanding how the project will be priced will allow you to decide if you’re comfortable with the arrangement and moving forward, and may help you to more knowledgably consider the final quote later.

 

3. What services do you offer?

The web landscape is changing. While having a professional website is better than not having one, web design is more than just domain names and eye-catching pages. Maybe the designer is qualified to perform analytics once the site has launched or search engine optimization. There may be functions and additions that you’ve not considered. Asking what a designer can do is a great way to discover your options. It can also highlight what services aren’t available.

 

4. Who owns what?

Once you enlist the assistance of a third party, it’s best to get clear on ownership. If you don’t already own your domain name, who owns it if the designer or company obtains it as part of the web building process? Who maintains possession of any graphics, artwork, content, and the website as a whole once the site is built? What about when your professional relationship ends? It’s best not to assume the answer to these questions and prudent to ask during the vetting stage.

 

5. What platform will you be using?

Assuming that your designer is constructing a site from scratch, the building medium is key. Are they partial to using a blank slate platform like WordPress or do they favor Squarespace which offers beautiful templates? (If you’re unfamiliar with the latter, see our helpful post, To Squarespace or not to Squarespace?).

The answer to this question will affect everything from costs to curation options.

 

6. Do you outsource any work?   

The answer here is neither good nor bad. It’s just essential that you know who is working on your project. Being informed helps you better assist in the process and it’s good to know what to expect along the way.

 

7. What are my hosting options?

Hosting is basically where your web files are kept on the net. You may not want to get this technical, but the answer, depending on how much traffic your site experiences, could mean the difference in site speed, SEO, and accessibility. Also, if the designer self-hosts, questions regarding future accessibility can be discussed here.

 

8. Do you provide content?

Websites need a consistent flow of updated or new content. If you’re interested in having someone else do this for you, your designer may be your solution. Web design and content production go hand in hand and some designers have begun offering this special service.  Be sure to ask if this is an option.

 

9. Will I be able to update my site’s content?

Say your company wins a prestigious award, as it should, and you want to add the accolade to your site right away. Will you be able to access the intended page and update your site yourself or will you need to contact your designer each time? Having the ability to easily add and update content is something you definitely want, and knowing if it’s possible is super important.

 

10. What kind of clients have you worked with in the past?

Your similarity to past clients may mean a more seamless move from building their websites to creating yours. If your designer is used to working with much larger or far smaller companies, this isn’t an indication that they can’t perform the work, but similar practice makes perfect.

 

11. Do you have a portfolio or examples of previous work?

Taking a gander at a designer’s portfolio can communicate much more than words. Asking to look at completed sites is a quick and easy way to familiarize yourself with the designer’s capabilities.

 

12. What is your design process?

Ernest Hemingway, Maya Angelou and Eat, Pray, Love author, Elizabeth Gilbert, all expressed very similar writing processes. These masters having like methods is less the point, but there being a process at all is what matters. How does your designer get from point A to point Z? Is there a plan? As stated earlier, knowing what to expect allows you to better assist in your site’s development and eliminates unnecessary uncertainty.

 

13. What is your timeline?

Will the site be up and running in 3 weeks or 3 months? Get clear on how much time your designer needs to complete their plan. With this info, you can design a marketing campaign around the launch date or if you’re having an existing site revamped, you’ll have a timeframe for maintenance and testing; either way, you’re in the know.

 

14. What happens if I need additional work once it’s complete?

Your site is not static. It’s a living, breathing organism that will require changes and maintenance from time to time. You may need future support from your designer and working out the logistics now is certainly the way to go.

 

15. Can you help me, help you?

Designers are usually pretty busy. Juggling several clients and multiple projects with strict deadlines isn’t unusual. While they essentially work for you, they probably aren’t able to be at your beck and call.

You want to understand their best forms of communication and best times to be contacted. This simply allows them to be as responsive to you as possible while allowing space and time to build an amazing product. Openly and honestly communicate any concerns or needs like you would with any other part of your team. Professional courtesy goes a long way in a situation like this and treating your designer with due respect may result in a better product. Asking questions could certainly aid in you confidently uttering those two special words, “you’re hired,” they may also lead to you hearing the beautiful response, “I happily accept.”


WEB MARKETING CONSULTANTS  |  GREENSBORO, NC

We're happy to answer all of these questions...and more! Hue & Tone Creative will take the stress out of developing a new website. Check out our design portfolio to see clients we've helped in the past, and then give us a call -- we can't wait to get the conversation started. 

Most Outdated Web Design Trends

Stop boring your visitors with bad web design...

Stop boring your visitors with bad web design...

Like chain wallets, spiked hair, and jelly shoes, many web design effects have come into fashion and then disappeared, never to be seen again. As design technology continues to develop, so do consumers’ opinions of what constitutes a strong, professional design aesthetic. Here are 7 outdated effects we’re happy to say goodbye to.

 

Drop Shadows

The drop shadow was one of the 90s’ most beloved Photoshop effects. With the click of a mouse, web designers could make big blocks of text appear “fancy” and defined. Unfortunately, when applied to a large area of text, drop shadows made websites uncomfortable to read and difficult to browse. Thankfully, designers have moved on to more minimal font-enhancing effects.

 

Outdated Fonts

Many fonts which were once very popular now serve as bright red flags that a website was created by someone with very little design experience. Comic Sans is widely recognized as one of the world’s worst fonts, as well as Papyrus, Curlz, and Bradley Hand. Even “normal” fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial can make a website appear unprofessional since, as Microsoft Word default fonts, they indicate “lazy” font selection.


Bevel, Emboss, and Gloss

Bevel and Emboss were once extremely popular Photoshop tools which could be used to create a stylish “3D” appearance. Flash-forward a few decades later, and the effect is now more cringeworthy than impressive. Bevel and emboss were supplanted by the “Gloss” effect, which was used to make web buttons imitate shiny plastic or glass. Nowadays, designers have mostly moved onto more subtle choices to create attractive buttons that beg to be clicked. 

 

Adobe Flash Intros

Once upon a time, Adobe Flash intro videos like this one were all the rage. Nowadays, however, such videos have become internet dinosaurs. Not only do visitors tend to find them irritating, Flash videos are not supported on most mobile devices and can even hurt a website’s search engine rankings.

 

Auto-Play ads/music

Auto-play, which has been described as “the most hated digital advertising tactic,” is not yet completely eradicated, but should be. Few things are more alarming than opening a new webpage and being assaulted with a loud advertisement or blast of music. Sadly, many companies still insist on treating their visitors’ ears with everything from loud sales pitches to soft jazz.

 

Lack of Mobile Optimization

The biggest mistake modern companies are making in terms of web design is lack of mobile optimization. With smartphones and other mobile devices quickly becoming the preferred method of internet access for the majority of consumers, it’s more important than ever for websites to be mobile-friendly. Google itself says that more Google searches are performed on mobile devices than on computers, so if your website isn’t legible when shrunk to fit a smaller screen, you’re missing out on a huge market opportunity.


Professional Greensboro Web Design Company

If your company website features any of the above trends, perhaps it’s time for an update. A professional graphic designer at Hue & Tone Creative can help create a visually pleasing, modern design that guides people to focus on your products and services, not the platform on which you offer them. If you’re interested in logo redesign, website design, or another creative branding service, give us a call today for a free website audit.