In the modern information age, we’re all experiencing information, or cognitive overload. The sheer volume of information we’re exposed to and the frequency with which it arises can be an issue, but researchers tend to agree that it’s not the volume of information; it’s how it’s organized that’s the problem.
Forest Park Forever Map by TOKY
One of the biggest mistakes we see people make when it comes to their websites is not prioritizing information architecture. While the design aspects of a website are fun, glamorous, and ultimately vital to the success of your site, it’s important that you don’t jump straight to the design and forgo the important process of building a solid information architecture and understanding the purpose behind your site and its content.
You have a lot of choices when it comes to choosing a partner agency for your web design or development project. Here are some things to consider before making your selection:
What are their core services?
An agency that has the ability to complete all aspects of your project is going to be more qualified to give you the best solutions and the results you want.
- Do they offer comprehensive design, development and support services that are up to industry standards?
- Have they had experience with web projects that require complex problem solving or customization skills and advanced coding capabilities?
- Are they able to develop mobile applications that are consistent with your other marketing platforms?
DO Start early
Ideally, feedback should be part of your production plan from the very beginning when you’re looking to release a new website or feature. It’s not only a useful marketing activity to manage your online reputation, but it also may help you find the areas of your business that need improvement. The earlier you ask for feedback, the easier it will be to correct any problems that exist. You can monitor activities manually, or use an all-in-one monitoring service such as Sysomos or Brandwatch.
The accessible web means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, interact with, and contribute to the web. This encompasses all disabilities that affect access to the Web, including visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive and neurological disabilities. But web accessibility also benefits others, not just those with disabilities, including people with “temporary” disabilities such as a broken arm, older people with changing abilities due to aging.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990. Its effects are visible in nearly every public space in the form of disabled parking, ramps as alternatives to stairs, Braille signage, and more. Although the need to provide disabled people with reasonable accommodations has been a civil rights issue for decades, one important public space – the Internet – has been largely overlooked up until now.
When it comes to web design, don’t underestimate the power of color.
- Black: sophistication and power
- White: cleanliness, sophistication, virtue
- Red: courage, power, strength; can also stimulate appetite
- Blue: calmness, peace, trust, safety
- Yellow: optimism, happiness
- Green: balance, sustainability growth
- Purple: royalty, spiritual awareness, luxury
- Orange: friendliness, comfort, and food
- Pink: tranquility, femininity, sexuality
- Complementary: colors opposite to each other on the color wheel
- Analogous: colors that sit next to each other. These are “related” colors that create pleasing and relaxed visuals when used together. They don’t stand out from one another, but can create subtle and beautiful content. You may need to add a complementary color to make a particular item stand out.
- Triad: a color combination made of three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel
- Split-complementary: Choose one color as your base, and combine with two complementary colors adjacent to its opposite
- Rectangle: a color combination made up of four colors in complementary pairs
- Square: similar to a rectangle palette, but the two sets of complementary pairs are colors evenly spaced around the circle
Caution: Color Blindness
- colr.org – lets you upload an image and see the range of colors within that image
- colorblender – generates a set of five colors that will work well together
- Adobe Colour CC – lets you try out and create different color schemes
- Check my colours – lets you determine if you’re using the right color combinations in your web design
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If you’re in charge of a blog, newsletter, social media or other content management, you know there are times when you need a little more than a nice stock photo to make the best impression. What about when you want to show off your new website’s awesome responsive design? Or need a custom graphic for your Facebook banner? Here are three totally cool — and FREE! — image tools that will help put the polish on your content!
This is a very cool tool — I can already think of dozens of ways to use it! PlaceIt creates product mockups and videos showing your images on device screens in beautiful, crisp stock photographs, which you can then download for use in your blog, newsletter, social media, etc. You can upload a product shot, or it will take a screenshot of your website. If your website is responsive, it will present the appropriate image on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone; and you can even choose a multi-image shot to demonstrate your site’s responsiveness. Super easy to use, with fabulous looking results.
Simple and fun to use, fresh designs, and the basics are cost-free! Choose from a whole range of templates which include handy items such as Facebook Cover, Twitter Post, Blog Graphic, and many more. Or use your own custom dimensions. It’s easy to play with their pre-formatted layouts, or get creative with tons of trendy backgrounds and text treatments. You can upload your own images, or select from their huge library of stock images for only a dollar. In just minutes you can have great looking, professional quality graphics to perk up your content.
If you’re posting to different social media feeds, you know how frustrating it can be to ensure that your images are viewed correctly. Twitter uses a 2:1 ratio; Facebook likes images more square; Pinterest and Google+ are set up for vertical images. The Social Image Resizer Tool can save you a nice chunk of time: just upload your image, and select from the drop-down list of options and places you want to post the image; then move and scale to optimize your image for all the most popular networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. You can also use your own custom dimensions as well.
Do you have a favorite tool or tip that you use for your website content or promotion? Let us know!
For the past four months we’ve been working at Sanmita as marketing interns. In the second half of our internship, we focused exclusively on building Sanmita’s sister brand, DrupalAnswers. Over the course of our internship we have gained experience in market research, higher education website audits, video marketing, the creation of social media and blog posts, and content curation.
We also learned how to create an integrated content strategy across different platforms. Throughout the entire experience, we worked as a team to complete tasks and brainstorm strategy, which we believe led us to produce even greater results than we would have alone.
When we started this internship we had basic understanding of what exactly web development involves. We understood there were multiple facets to the development process but our grasp of the topic was limited to design and the aesthetic aspect of a site. Throughout our internship, we gained a fuller understanding of what truly encompasses web development.
We now know the importance of the discovery process and why research is a vital part of a website’s strategy and creation. For instance, conducting proper research influences the development of information architecture, which plays a major role in determining the success and organization of a site. As we completed audits of college websites, we also learned several other aspects that contribute to a site’s success, including accessibility, page speed, mobile-friendliness, and how easy it is to navigate through the website’s content. One of our favorite quotes found during our research sums up what we learned perfectly:
“Pretty things can be useless, and ugly things can be useful. Beauty and quality are not always related.” ― Abby Covert, How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody
Essentially, good design rests upon a solid foundation.
Since our company focuses on higher education institutions, we spent a lot of time researching best practices for mission critical sites. Without a doubt, we agree that Drupal is the best CMS for higher education. Drupal is powerful, flexible, and is built to handle the complexity of a higher education site– even the White House chooses Drupal as their go-to CMS. As we’ve learned, Drupal is the best option when stability and scalability are vital to the project, or if it requires close attention to detail and unique customization. An added benefit of Drupal is that most of their extensions and ways to customize the site are free of charge – perfect for higher ed institutions that might be working on a tight budget.
Now with just a week left in our internship, we feel that we have gained experiences that we can apply in the future. One of our favorite parts of the internship was having the opportunity to work on the company’s integrated online marketing strategy. We strategized and executed ways to drive traffic to the website and blog posts through social media, demonstrating the importance of consistent messaging across all platforms. Another aspect of this internship that we were thankful for was being able to see the full lifecycle of the projects we worked on. We were involved in each step of the way, from start to finish. This was a unique experience that we have not received elsewhere. Overall, the skills and experiences we have had working at Sanmita are invaluable to us and will affect the way we will grow as marketers.
- You manage a large number of products (eCommerce sites like REI)
- You publish and manage a lot of content (content aggregators and news sites like Reuters)
- You have complex service offerings requiring a lot of supporting content (large association sites, higher education sites like Cornell, government sites like The White House)
- Your site is information-oriented, diverse, and you offer a lot of long-form web copy
- Your site is small without too much content (small businesses, restaurants)
- You have fewer pages and focused content
- Your site is dedicated to a singular function, such as a tool or online calculator