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Marketing Fail: Three Big Business Web Design Disasters

Posted on Apr 29, 2013 by James Trumbly

The world of web design can seem pretty intimidating at times. After all, the success of your business rises and falls on whether your website successfully engages your site visitors and conveniences them to take the next step. We know you’re kickin’ it with awesome web page design, but just in case you need some inspiration, take a look at these big business web design disasters and take some notes on what NOT to do:

Zulily

Plenty of “deal-of-the-day” websites require you to register before you can see the actual deals, but Zulily’s home page gives you next to no information about what the site does. Here are the biggest design problems:

  • You can find a bit of information about how the site works, but it’s buried at the bottom of the page under a banner that looks like advertising, making the viewer ignore everything below it.
  • Links to “How Zulily Works,” “Brands We Love,” and “FAQ” appear in tiny type that doesn’t stand out from surrounding content.
  • No secondary call to action if the visitor isn’t ready to register.

Bottom Line:  It’s too hard for non-registered users to learn about the site.

Carol House Furniture

Carol House makes visitors jump through multiple hoops in order to view their website—a surefire way to send customers scrambling for the back button. For starters:

  • Gray type on white background = hard to read.
  • After reaching the home page, you have to click an additional button to see any actual content.
  • The home page has a long list of obsolete requirements you must meet before you can see their content (high speed internet, Flash player, disable pop-up blocker). Really? Who has to remind people they need high speed internet these days?

After clicking the Enter button, a new page opens where all browser controls have been disabled, a cheesy Flash video plays, music automatically starts, and the talking heads at the top of the page point out interesting links we might want to click (wait, I thought we were here to look at furniture…).

We also see lots of wasted space on either side with no clear call to action anywhere on the page.

Bottom Line: After making your visitors enter an alternate universe in order to see your site, don’t handcuff them in a desperate attempt to make them stick around.

Pure Ecommerce

I’ll keep this one short and sweet (which is opposite of Pure Ecommerce’s site).

We have to read through lengthy blocks of copy just to find out what the company offers. Once we click on the call to action, we’re directed to more copy. Not exactly a one-click, ready-to-go experience as promised.

Bottom Line: Too much copy and weak call to actions.

So, what’s the point?

Big business web design disasters keep us all humble.  If they can experience huge marketing fails, so can we.  Keep testing, keep tweaking, and keep converting!  Would you consider your online web presence a “disaster”?   If so, we’d love to chat with you… after all we’re only a phone call away.

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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!

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The Scoop on SXSW

Posted on Feb 27, 2013 by Daniel Alvarez

As the month of March rolls around, Austinites (and now, people from across the globe) are preparing themselves for the one festival that brings together over 50,000 locals, techies, musicians, hipsters, film makers, producers, celebrities and many more. Yes, South By Southwest or “South By” for those of you in tune with the local lingo has quickly become the go-to festival in North America. Boasting musical acts from over a thousand artists, countless indie movie premieres and hundreds of technology start-ups, SXSW feeds the souls of those in attendance.

In addition to the many fun-filled events, there’s a lot of business that goes down during the nine days that make up SXSW. And as a creative agency that specializes in working with startups, we take this time seriously, both as a networking opportunity and as a chance to help these young entrepreneurs realize their dreams.

Over the years, SXSW has been the launch pad for many major players in the tech and web-based industries. So much so that the third largest social network, Twitter, launched at SXSW back in 2007. The launch of the micro-blogging platform was so successful that Twitter’s servers became overloaded with users during the event. But not every story is as big as Twitter’s, there are hundreds of smaller companies making a name for themselves each year during the festival- and we’re excited to be part of that growth.

As a progressive digital agency with over nine years in the biz, we know how much hard work goes into building a reputable brand and a dominant online presence from the ground up.We can help get you to the next level through proven marketing techniques, creative web design/development and a plan of action that works.

Are you planning on visiting Austin for South By Southwest. If so, make sure you give us a call, Follow us on Twitter, or come say hi when you see us front row at The Flaming Lips and Green Day concerts!

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WebDev for SmithBros Maintenance

Posted on Jan 29, 2013 by Stacey Donelan

SmithBros Maintenance came to HMG Creative with only a splash page.  With their vision in mind, we were able to build out a full website that provided them with the functionality they were looking for.  The new site features their various services in an easy-to-navigate setting.  But what was most important to Smith Bros was the ability to provide their potential customers with the accessibility to easily request a quote.

About SmithBros Maintenance
Since 1970, SmithBros has been a company with a focus on quality workmanship, attention to detail and quality results.  They like to be known as the “home town” janitorial service that offers down to earth, old-fashioned labor for a competitive price.  Operated locally in San Diego and Southern Riverside counties, SmithBros provides services such as:

  • Commercial Cleaning
  • Floor Care
  • Window Cleaning
  • Floor/Mold
  • Power Washing

Check out their new website at www.smithbrossd.com.  If you like what you see, give us a call at 888.744.0464 and we can help your website dreams come true!

Screenshots of the NEW website

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City Values For Women Launches New Website

Posted on Nov 08, 2012 by Johnny Jeffers

HMG Creative is excited to announce the launch of City Values For Women, a site which offers fantastic shopping options with built-in savings. The new website allows visitors to tour home improvement stores, restaurants, health and beauty providers and much more through custom videos and offers.

Working closely with the City Values For Women executive team on all elements of the project was very crucial, which is true for any client project here at HMG Creative.  Our team identified the following tactics in order to ensure a successful launch of the website:

  • Discover the goals, ideal target market and functionality the company desires to launch
  • Develop an in-depth framework for the site
  • Create software that would allow for browsing of numerous directories
  • Further brand image and ensure consistency of the brand by designing business cards and a marketing print piece

City Values For Women launched this week at cityvaluesforwomen.com.

Screenshots of the new website

 Print Materials

View Project Overview
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How One Nonproft Shatters Expectations with New Technology, Innovative Website

Posted on Sep 26, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

The OneStar Foundation, a preeminent state-wide organization based in Austin, TX providing resources for the entire nonprofit sector recently abandoned old, cumbersome technology to better serve its public.  The shift is one that sets an ambitious tone for outreach and opens up increased opportunities for all nonprofits in the state.

This week OneStar announced the launch of an updated, redesigned website and a refreshed brand image through a partnership with Austin-based HMG Creative to further initiatives for nonprofits in Texas.

OneStar Foundation connects faith-based and community organizations,one of the best car accident solicitor businesses, government and foundations to resources and information about the nonprofit sector as well as facilitating public-private partnerships to drive community solutions and ultimately, build a better Texas.

In efforts to stay ahead of toll free numbers technology and better serve its audience, OneStar Foundation and HMG Creative partnered for the robust rebranding and web development project.

“We conducted several interviews but selected HMG Creative because we wanted the best end-product possible; we believe that their services will result in a long-term advantage,” said Elizabeth Darling, President and CEO of OneStar Foundation.  “Among many requirements and expectations that are necessary to be a leader in our sector, the most important are an easy-to-manage web platform and an impressive brand image, HMG gave us exactly that.”

HMG Creative increased site functionality, accessibility to information and updated the overall look and feel of the brand to connect with OneStar Foundation’s central audience.  With a refreshed online image and updated technology, OneStar Foundation can further their mission of educating, connecting and providing resources to build a stronger nonprofit sector in Texas.

Check out OneStar Foundation’s new website at www.onestarfoundation.org.

OneStar Foundation’s thrive for innovation continues with the launch of the Texas Connector, an online nonprofit mapping tool which boasts the most comprehensive nonprofit statewide database of any state in the country. Texasconnects.org goes live today after its debut at the Texas Nonprofit Summit in Austin.

To learn more about this project or how we can develop solutions for your company email: [email protected]