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Is Your Website Guilty of These 8 Disastrous Design Mistakes?

Posted on Apr 15, 2013 by James Trumbly

Web design isn’t an exact science. There are broad principles to follow, but at the end of the day, you have to figure out what works for you and your audience. However, you should always remember that your customers have itchy back-button fingers, and some web design mistakes will make them bounce every time. Here’s a list of our top eight design mistakes:

  • Making Content Look Like Advertising
    Web users these days have developed “banner blindness.” Anything that looks like a banner ad or block ad will be ignored. Avoid the common web design mistake of putting essential information in a format that looks like advertising.
  • Using Non-Intuitive Navigation
    If you have to explain how to navigate your site, you’ve done it wrong. Navigation should make sense to someone who has never seen your site before. Group similar links under headings and make it easy for visitors to find their way back to a previous page and to the home page.
  • Automatic-Play Flash Videos
    No one wants to be held hostage while you play a 20-second introductory video before loading site content. Video is great, but make it optional by providing a play button for the user to click when he or she is ready.
  • Not Listing Product Pricing
    What’s the point of having an ecommerce website if you make the visitor call, register, or start to checkout before he sees actual prices? This includes shipping rates as well. Provide estimates before checkout to reduce sticker shock during the sale.
  • Unclear Call to Action
    Can visitors immediately see how to take action on your site? Your call to action should use descriptive, action-oriented language that clearly communicates what you want the visitor to do.
  • Long Blocks of Text
    Our attention span is short and even shorter online. No one has time to read through a long page of tiny text. Break copy up into smaller chunks using subheadings and bullets, and make the font bigger so content appears less intimidating.
  • No Search or Bad Search
    Placing the search box in a difficult-to-find place (like halfway down the sidebar), not being able to handle misspellings, and not including search capabilities at all are common web design mistakes. Bad search can leave users frustrated and ready to bail.
  • Links that Don’t Look Like Links
    Use color to designate clickable text, and change the color for links that have already been clicked. Don’t be too creative with this. Underlines, italics, bolding, and unusual colors may look cool, but users may not pick up on the fact that they can be clicked.

Do you happen to be guilty of any of these disastrous web design mistakes? If so, it’s time to start testing a new design that will make it easier for your customers to convert. Give us a call and we’d be happy to talk through this with you!


Using Surveys to Dig Deep With Your Target Audience

Posted on Mar 21, 2013 by James Trumbly

We’ve all gotten those receipts from big box stores encouraging us to fill out an online survey for a chance to win a $5,000 gift card. But how many of us have actually taken the time to fill one out? I’m guessing not many. The chances of winning are too slim to have much motivational power. But the fault isn’t with the survey idea itself. You can use surveys to find out what makes your target audience tick and you don’t have to give away $5,000 to do it. Here’s how:

Re-Think Your Incentives
Nobody sits around looking for surveys to fill out; you’ve got to make it worth their while. And while a huge prize for one lucky winner sounds cool, the truth is that smaller incentives offered to every respondent can generate more survey completions. If you own a restaurant, give away a free milkshake for every survey turned in. If you own a retail store or online business, offer a 10% discount, a free consultation, or a coupon code.

Ask the Right Questions
It’s easy to gather information about demographics and shopping behavior. But getting a look inside the heads of your customers can be a little trickier. The key is in asking questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Some potentially revealing questions include:

  • Who would you shop with if our company didn’t exist?
    This is a great way to find out who your competitors are. You may be surprised at the answers you receive.
  • How did you hear about us first?
    Find out which marketing methods generate the most business—Facebook, email, print advertising, direct mail or something else. Then use that information to determine where additional efforts should be concentrated.
  • How have we made your life easier or better?
    Find out if you are accomplishing your business goals and if your UVP is actually impacting your target audience the way you intend it to.
  • Why did you decide to buy from us?
    This question can help you dig a little deeper into the factors that motivate your target audience, even more so than asking how they heard about you.

Promote Your Survey
Once you have designed a survey that asks the right questions and offers the right incentives, promote it everywhere you can. Use your Facebook page, blog, Twitter account, email subscriber list, website, and any other online marketing avenues like Circulo Marketing available to you. The more responses you receive, the better you’ll understand what motivates the majority of your customers.

Surveys provide an excellent avenue for looking into the minds of your best customers. By offering the right incentives, asking the right questions, and promoting your survey as much as possible, you’ll gain valuable information that can help you take your business to the next level.


How to Achieve Social Media Stardom

Posted on Jan 23, 2013 by James Trumbly

Certain businesses have become overnight starlets in the world of social media. Somehow, things just clicked right from the start, and they “get it.” As it turns out, these social media divas all have some essential practices in common. With just a little effort, you too can enter the social media stratosphere.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for fans.
    Let your email subscribers know about your social media efforts by including “Follow Us” buttons in each message you send, including customer service messages. You can also create a special campaign to request followers. Templates are free and easy to integrate into your newsletter format.
  • Incentivize subscriptions.
    One-time incentives such as a coupon or discount for liking a Facebook page can be excellent tools to acquire likes. You can also tempt would-be followers with promises of regular Twitter-only specials, sale previews, or VIP access to sales events.
  • Integrate your promotion efforts.
    Email marketing is a great way to spread the word about your social media efforts, but don’t ignore other promotion opportunities. Include a link on your website, solicit followers in your print advertisements, and pin your emails to your Pinterest board with keyword-enriched descriptions so your business shows up in a search.
  • Encourage your fans to interact.
    Engagement is one of the keys to succeeding with Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm. In order to show up in a fan’s newsfeed, you need to establish a pattern of interaction. Think outside the box and make it fun with ideas like:

    • Post photos of recent community events you’ve worked with.
    • Run a video contest.
    • Ask questions.
    • Invite fans to post their pictures to your page.
    • Link your blog posts to your Facebook page.
  • Tailor content to the strengths of each venue.
    Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube—each social media venue you choose interact with will exhibit various strengths and weaknesses. Don’t try to shove all of your content into one mold. Create conversations on Facebook, provide how-to ideas and inspirations for Pinterest, and tweet about your online sales. While it’s important to integrate your marketing efforts, it is also important to recognize that your fans have different expectations from each venue.

Proactively building your fan list, providing great content and incentives, encouraging interaction, and capitalizing on the strengths of your various social media endeavors will give you all the know-how, popularity, and success you need to catapult you to rock star status.


Five Tips for Creating Healthy Routines at the Office

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 by James Trumbly

You sit in your car for a thirty minute commute. You hoof it into the office where you sit for another eight or nine hours. Then it’s back in the car and home where you plonk down on the couch for the evening. In fact, many Americans spend an astonishing fifteen hours a day sitting—and it’s showing up in our waistlines. Studies have linked sitting for more than six hours a day to numerous health problems including obesity, cancer, heart disease, and shorter life spans as the study on says. But the good news is that even if you spend all day at the office, you can incorporate these five healthy tips into your routine for better health.

1.     Stand Up
Stand up whenever you can, but at least once an hour. Sound impossible? Try standing when you’re on the phone, when you’re waiting for a printout, and when you’re flipping through a file. Walk to a co-workers desk instead of sending an email. Take a trip to the water cooler. Take every opportunity to stand up and get your blood flowing.

2.     Challenge Your Exercise Expectations
Exercise oxiracetam doesn’t have to mean an hour at the gym see best fat burner for women . It can mean a brisk walk around the building on your break, 10 wall-pushups, or a quick jog in place at your desk. It can mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking farther away from the building. Build exercise opportunities into your day in order to increase your overall activity level.

3.     Get Double Benefits During Lunch
If your typical lunch consists of a sandwich from the deli eaten at your desk, it’s time to change it up. Pack a healthy lunch the night before and include some fruit and veggies. Double up on the health benefits by taking twenty minutes to walk around your building or go for a brisk jog when possible.

4.     Switch Out Your Snacks
Wave good-bye to the vending machine and reach into your drawer for a banana or an apple with peanut butter instead. Choosing snacks that consist of fruit, vegetables, and protein can help you feel more awake during the afternoon and can also keep you full longer, helping you say no to the Jelly Belly jar on your co-workers desk.

5.     Pick a Partner
Ask a co-worker to jump into your new healthy routine with you. You’ll feel a lot less conspicuous doing squats at your desk and noshing on celery if you have a friend doing it with you.

If you feel chained to your desk, remember that it’s possible to create active routines even within the confines of the office. Creating healthy routines means making good choices every day, one small step at a time.


HMG Welcomes New Business Developer, John Wagner

Posted on Dec 20, 2012 by James Trumbly

HMG is pleased to announce Colorado native, John Wagner, is now a part of the HMG Austin team!  John’s background encompasses sales with a focus in consumer sales call centers and consultative business to business sales.  He has become an expert in the industry through his time at Dish Network and Silicon Valley start-up, RingCentral.  Along with this profession, John holds a strong passion for career coaching which has inspired him to offer as a side practice.  John will be bringing his competence in sales to the Business Development Department here at HMG.

In April 2012, John said so long to the cold and headed south to Texas, but his travels don’t stop there.  Outside of work, you can probably find him on the road visiting anywhere he can drive to (as long as he’s back for work on Monday, of course).  Oh, and did we mention he’s a baseball fanatic?  If you’d like to talk business or even baseball send John a “hello” at [email protected].



Jenn puts the Creative in HMG

Posted on Dec 18, 2012 by James Trumbly

HMG Creative is thrilled to introduce Jenn Buch as the newest member of our Creative Team. This proud alum from West Virginia University graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design and a dual degree in Multidisciplinary Studies in Advertising, Art History, and Foreign Literature.

If you couldn’t tell, this girl loves design and, trust me, she can talk about typography all day long.  Oh, and she secretly loves to learn a new shorthand in the Adobe Creative Suite. Lucky for us, Jenn will be bringing her love of all things design to HMG Creative.

Although Jenn is new to Austin, she’s exploring the city and taking full advantage of the “keep it weird” vibe.  Hiking trails and artist markets?  Jenn already feels right at home!  So give her a warm welcome at [email protected]