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The internet has caused a total shift in the way many Americans shop and search for the information they need. According to Statista, consumers spent more than $289 billion in online sales during 2012. In addition, Envesp has claimed that more than 80 percent of the people who use the internet have made at least one online purchase in their lifetime. With this much consumer power, it is vital for any size business to have an online presence to stay competitive within its industry. Maintaining a good web design is one of the best ways to promote a business online.
Tell Customer Who and Where You Are
Having an active website is important even for small, local businesses. According to a study done by Nielsen, 85 percent of consumers use the internet to find a local business. Without a business web design, these customers may not even be able to contact or locate the business. Search engines such as Google are heavily focusing on local results, so a website is even more important if you are a local business.
Reach All Corners of the World
A professional business web design gives you an instant global presence and allows your business to capture customers from around the world. This has the potential to greatly increase your customer base. If you can service customers nationally or globally, a website that reflects that is a must for prospects that are researching your business.
With the help of the internet, consumers can now literally shop online around-the-clock. The only way businesses can reach all of their potential customers is to have a good business web design that will allow them to shop or research the company any hour of the day. In an example such as ours, we usually receive 1 to 2 leads overnight while we are all sleeping. That would not be possible without a website.
Once a business has its website, it gives them the ability to communicate with their customers instantly. Upcoming sales and new products can be instantly advertised on the business website. This can eliminate the need to send out costly mailings and flyers. Another important factor is content and the integration of social media. As you generate content that may help a prospect, you can use social media to instantly propagate that content across thousands of potential customers.
A business website can cost very little maintain. When compared to other advertising techniques, it is fairly inexpensive. Considering the power of a business website, the return-on-investment is higher than other advertising channels in most cases. A website should be a sales tool, explaining products and services and generating leads from that information. If you compare this to a salary of a person and the cost of sales collateral, it is a fraction of he cost.
Attract New Customers
One of the top reasons for a professional web design is the potential to attract new customers. As consumers surf the internet, they will have access to the businesses products, services or information, where otherwise they may not have even known the business existed. You may find prospects in multiple stages of the sales process, meaning you may find researchers, comparers or purchasers. Make sure to have an offer for all of them.
Improved Customer Service
Usually a business web design will include a contact us section that gives your customers instant access to ask a question, or notify you about a problem with your goods or services. This gives you the ability to provide instant feedback to the customer and improve your customer service satisfaction rate. There are many creative ways you can improve a customers experience including a simple contact form so they may contact you with questions, a blog or forum they can leave questions in or even a live chat for immediate satisfaction. There are many live chat programs that are simple to install.
Know Your Customers
Businesses will have the ability to track who is viewing its site and who is making purchases. The data collected can provide valuable information to the business that will allow them to better target their current and potential customers. Tracking software is becoming very intelligent. At minimum, install Google Analytics which is completely free.
Today’s consumers like their shopping experience to be quick and easy, which is why more and more consumers are turning to online shopping. Maintaining a business website will offer a more convenient way to shop for your customers. When is the last time you’ve ordered something by mail? Most reading this post might not even remember the mail order era, it was painful. Today, commerce and information is immediate.
Once a business website is initially set up, it requires very little maintenance to maintain on a day-to-day basis. This makes it an easy way to advertise without taking too much time away from the daily operations of the business. This doesn’t mean you can neglect your website, a content strategy should be in place so that you are providing regular and consistent updates to your website so it doesn’t become stale.
It is easy to see why it is so important for every company to have a business website. Without a website, it will be difficult to remain competitive in today’s market and generate more customers. Business websites are also easy to setup and maintain. If you don’t have a website, leave us a comment and tell us how you are doing business.
The layout is the foundation of your website. It guides the user through the sections and tells them what is most important. It also sets the aesthetic of the website. Therefore, you need to carefully think through how you lay out content.
An original, creative layout goes a long way to improving the user experience of a website, although not letting your creativity get in the way of usability is important. As usual, we have to put ourselves in the users’ shoes: What do we want them to see first? How will your message be best communicated? We have to ask these questions before we start designing, because the layout will shape the rest of the design.
Well, the following websites have some quite… unusual layouts. They aren’t necessarily perfect; still, browse through them, and maybe, just maybe, your creative genius will be sparked.
Original Web Layouts
Beurre & Sel
This website is just beautiful. The automatic slideshow plays in the background, with the main navigation bar at the top. As you scroll down, the navigation shrinks but remains fixed at the top. Below is a colorful list of the different cookies the company makes, but these also serve as buttons in a submenu. When you click on a flavor, information overlaps this submenu, allowing you to click through the assortment of cookie flavors. The navigation bar at the top and the submenu are confined to the middle column of a three-column grid, maintaining the user’s focus at the center.
As the page loads, a fun 3D line animation starts to fill the screen. The arrows indicate movement and fluidity and encourage the user to scroll down toward the content. The content below is laid out in a three column grid with two main columns and one smaller side bar. However, it doesn’t feel boxy and constrained but has a more open feel — this is due to the ample space given and the use of rounded corners. The layout of this site is comfortable for the user.
The Drawing Room
I love this layout, simple yet so visually interesting. The studio’s work is displayed in diamond shapes of different sizes that fit together. The center diamond is the nameplate, which isn’t too prominent and so doesn’t detract from the work. As you hover over a diamond, it fills with a description of the work. This single-page website has an original and clean layout that it easy to use.
We Love Noise
Luke Finch’s portfolio has a fun and friendly layout. The work seems to be haphazardly scattered, breaking away from too clean and predictable an approach. The transitions tell you a bit about the projects, and you can navigate using the arrows. The little heart in the top-left corner is the navigation for the whole website, it swivels into an “i” on the home page. When viewing a project, you can exit by hovering over the heart.
This layout is dynamic. Upon loading, it greets you with a quirky photograph and prompts you to scroll down, where the navigation appears and eventually affixes to the top. I really like the transparent navigation bar, which opens the page up a little, revealing the content underneath. The content is scattered around the page, although the website does have structure; each section is set off by a different background color. The projects are prominently displayed in a three-column grid, but the section for the team members breaks away from the grid and uses the space in an interesting way.
Edward Carvalho Monaghan
How’s about some color? This portfolio website has some serious personality, and the work is loud and lively as it moves about. Most effective is the consistency in style. The website coheres as a complete work, representing the designer while supporting the individual portfolio pieces — which is precisely what such a website should do. The color palette is incorporated in the nameplate, and the flashing animation brings energy to the website.
This site has an original take on layout with the right side of the page acting like a kind of letterhead, providing all the necessary information like who they are and what they do. The left side of the page scrolls vertically and resembles the layout of the windows of the condominiums they build. Once you click, you are directed to a more blog-style layout which is easy to navigate.
KathArt has a great video layout. The personality just about oozes from this simple yet highly effective design, as you meet the members of this team. The team members are introduced as they’re working, as though you’re in the office with them! The navigation as a timeline is clever because you can track the progress of the video easily.
Wacom targets a wide audience of both professional and non-professional creatives with its website. The layout is an integral part of this and creates a user-friendly experience. The navigation on the left minimizes when hovered over, and it shows the various categories available. The user is in control and can choose which products to look at; they are not coerced or subjected to a sales pitch. The layout of the home page is simple and guides the user to the product that best suits their needs. I like the subtle hand-drawn elements that accompany the products.
Amsterdam Dance Event
The layout here really helps to showcase the attitude and spirit of this event. The navigation runs down the left side, becoming a reference point across the website. A slideshow of strong, visually stimulating images rotates, with teasers for the event’s festival, playground and conference. This is an effective way to engage users.
As you scroll down the page, the content below slides over the slideshow, bringing the submenu from the bottom to the top. Each section of the website has a banner that runs across the screen, making for a visually appealing introduction to that section. The rest of the articles are laid out in a grid. The rows in the grid don’t line up perfectly; each column starts slightly lower than the last — another small yet effective visual device.
Cropp has a big and bold personality, and the layout showcases it. As you hover over an image, the image pixelates beyond recognition, which grabs your attention. The navigation bar at the top is consistent across all pages, and the home page is basically a loud, visual representation of the options in the navigation. The layout captures the idea of pixellation, and all photographs and videos are laid out in blocks, like a pixelated image.
The layout is the foundation of your website and a crucial part of any creative endeavor. Consider the user and how they will interact with the website. Will they likely be viewing your website only on a mobile device? How would that affect the layout? I hope you’ve gleaned some inspiration to tackle some layout designs yourself!
People don’t spend their money online easily. Think about it: If you had to answer a long list of questions or struggle to navigate a website, how much money would you be willing to part with? Online shopping is about convenience and comfort, and those of us who have at least once ventured into the realm of online shopping know how time-consuming and unpleasant it can be.
The online stores that stand out from the rest are those that go the extra mile for their users. We’ll look here at some small and big e-commerce websites that create pleasant online shopping experiences. We’ll consider the experience from the very start to the very end, right through to the checkout process.
Interesting E-Commerce Websites Link
Bonobos’ shopping experience is smooth. Good typography and subtle colors help focus on the products and features, with all distractions fading away as you interact with the site. When a new item is added to the cart, it appears in a sliding sidebar on the right, prompting customers to either keep shopping or check out. The design of the checkout form is elegant and clean. The amount of data required is never overwhelming since it’s clearly separated in manageable chunks. And the most important bit: the favicon is a bananas icon! Now that is pretty cool.
Martina Sperl’s website is a lovely website. The shop features polished photography of her products, with a simple navigation panel fixed on the right side of the page. The hover effect is simple yet bold, showing the item number and price boldly in a large sans-serif typeface. You can, of course, click an image to view details about the product and get a 3-D view of the furniture (just a series of images). Buying a piece of furniture requires you to order by email. Again, bold full-width product images are used on product pages, and you can click on the “heart” icon to express your love for a product. Powered by WordPress.
Putting the shopping cart on the left, with the navigation, is a great idea. Because the eye starts from the top left of the page, the shopping cart takes precedence, making it more natural for users to keep track of the items in their cart and the running total.
Banana Cafe is crazy. The 3-D hover effects of the site are consistent across the entire shopping experience. The blocks rotate in different directions, creating interesting movement throughout the website. It isn’t your ordinary online shop, but rather a collection of suggestions for your closet. The hover effects reveal a reference number that you would use in the contact form at the bottom of the page. Well, the audio and video in the background aren’t really necessary, but they do complement the unique experience on the site quite well.
Well, this online shop could be made for fun, but fun was probably not the only reason to set it up. The experience on the site is, however, quite snappy indeed. You can quickly customize each product with features displayed using an accordion pattern. The shopping cart preview is visual, almost infographic-alike, rather than filled with quick-paced text. In fact, the shop even has rainbow-alike horizontal lines which still fit quite well into the design.
Indigo’s shopping experience isn’t particularly extraordinary, but it’s a great example of how shops with a relatively large inventory can have a quite nice user experience. The number of navigation options on Indigo is quite overwhelming, especially the navigation in the sidebar looks a bit too complex, yet what’s interesting is the bar at the bottom of each product page. As you add an item to cart, the item is visually added to the shopping cart in the bar. Quite interesting is the fact that Indigo provides a discount for customers who are willing to invest some time into creating an account on the page. Clever.
There you have it, some of the interesting online stores out there. Spending hard-earned cash is tough, so of course as a designer of an online shop, you want your users to feel as comfortable as possible. Whether you’re selling your own design services or a pair of designer jeans, it’s about a nice overall shopping experience and a quick checkout. Now if that’s not a reason to remove a couple of unnecessary checkboxes, add better typography and remove the unnecessary in the checkout, what is?
What interesting design/UX techniques for better shopping experience have you found recently? Or how have you optimized the checkout process of an online shop recently?