Tag Archives: web design


6 essential steps to design the perfect logo

Getting the right logo is an important part of designing a website. And logos aren’t just limited to the web, but can of course be used in printed material too. This week’s guest blog comes from Vicki Willingham who runs VictoriaAnnDesign.com. It’s all about the steps she takes when designing a logo.

6 essential steps to design the perfect logo

I’ve been designing logos for a few years now. It started off as a hobby, and now I’m lucky enough to have turned it into work. Whenever someone asks me to design a new logo for them I always stick to the following steps.

1. The Brief
This bit is about asking the client the right questions. I’ll make sure I have all the details I need from the client including: style; preferred colours; orientation; and the message they want their logo convey.

2. Write it all Down
I’m someone who likes to think on paper, so I write down everything that comes to mind about the company and scribble thoughts and ideas around that.  For example, if I were designing a logo for a financial company I might write jot down the words money, wealth, success, banking, saving…then continue with further words relating to each.

3. Start Drawing
Once I have my ideas and thoughts down in writing I begin to scribble them out as images.    I keep drawing until I find an idea I’m happy with and can develop into a logo.  I’ll usually also jot down colour ideas.

4. Get it on the Mac
Now I have my logo draft/s I’ll hop onto the laptop and get the idea onto the screen.  Depending on what I’m doing, I might also be tracing the draft using a pen tablet.  I’ll usually come up with a multitude of styles and variations and I’ll disregard probably 80% of those and work further on the 20% I choose to keep.

It takes time
This part of the process can take any time from a few hours to a week.  Usually, if I have done the previous part of sketching out ideas properly, this shouldn’t take all that long.

It takes colour

I’ll usually design in black first to check the shapes come together well, before I apply colour.  As well as designs looking fab in colour, it’s also important that logos work in black – it can look a mess on a photocopied corporate header otherwise!  There are a few exceptions to this, I’m sometimes asked to make a logo that will only be used online for web based companies and that won’t be used on print at all.  In that case, things are clearly a bit different and I feel happy to throw colour in from the start.

5. Get feedback from the client
The client is sent a copy of the logo to view.  At this point I encourage revisions to ensure we’re all happy when the project is completed.  There’s no telling how long this can take, but if we both understand the requirements at the beginning then it really does help.

6. Send the final version
So, when the logo is done, the files are ready and I’ll send them over to the client.  Typically, I will provide an ai file; pdf; small jpg; large jpg; transparent png; opaque png; gif and a tiff.

So that’s about it.
The process looks really clear and straight forward, but life isn’t always like that. There are always some unforseen bits and pieces that get thrown into the works. But that’s the basic outline.

If you’re designing a logo for your own website or someone else, stick to these steps and your life should be a bit easier.

I’d be interested to hear from others and how they do things – please leave a comment below.

About Vicki Willingham
Vicki is a Macbook Pro aficionado who is expert in logo design and corporate identify. For more information, visit her website.

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Video Tutorials

Website Builder Tutorials: How to create a copy of your Website

You make a website. You settle on fonts, colours, images, layout, pages. You test it. You tweak it. You make it perfect. It takes time. It takes effort.

And now you want to make another similar website. Oh no! All that design effort! You’ve got to go through it all again haven’t you?

Not any more you don’t! With the new WebEden control panel you can copy a website, in its entirety, at the click of your mouse button. Design heaven eh? This feature has been a long time coming and we’re so happy its finally ready. Find out how to copy your website using the tutorial below.

Love it eh? Leave us a comment below

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Softwate Update

Could the Google homepage get any more simple? Google thinks so!

Of all the websites that you regularly visit, which one has the least information? Which one has no images, almost no text, and just two buttons?

Well even though Google tops the league of zero content home pages, their designers have started experimenting with a version that has even less stuff on it.

Here’s a screen grab of the ultra-minimalist look that Google is trying out:

Google is testing out what happens when they hide everything except for the logo and the search box.

Everything else that usually sits on the page, including the options to search for images; maps; videos; plus a sign in for a Google account; is hidden. Those features are restored if the cursor is moved, and then fade back to invisible if you don’t do anything else.

This isn’t the only ‘new’ version that Google is trying out. They are also testing varieties that include the ‘I feel lucky’ button and other bits and pieces on the page.

“We test hundreds of things everyday on the homepage and nothing should be read into it in terms of product change”, said a Google spokesman, playing the change down.

In the past, the Google homepage has followed a strict rule which demanded that no more than 28 words should be on the homepage. Even this has been broken recently with up to 30 words making an appearance.

This experimentation comes at time when the landing pages of other big Internet brands are trying to include more content, not less. But it is perhaps no coincidence that the world’s most successful Internet company is also the one which has the least content on their landing page.

At the end of the day Google’s number 1 aim is to get you to search for something, since it’s only when you do that that they start making money. Any content or information on the page that diverts the user from carrying out this task is potentially lost revenue for Google.

There is a take-away point here if you are building a website with WebEden.

It’s worth spending some time deciding what the point of your website is. Are you trying to sell something? Are you trying to get people to give you a call? Are you trying to make it easy for them to find information about an event?

If you run a B&B your main priority of having a website is to make more bookings. And that probably means that you want as many website visitors as possible to phone you, or send you their contact details so that you can phone them.

Therefore, make sure your phone number and the contact form is on as many pages as possible. Don’t take people down blind alleys – make sure that every journey they make across your website leaves them in a place where they can find your number or get in touch.

Have you tried changing your homepage to make it simpler, or less cluttered? What effect did that have? Leave us a comment below.

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Video Tutorials

Website Builder Tutorials: How to Align Objects on the page

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so they say. But when it comes to Web Design, there are a few rules that you need to follow so that your website is easy to read, understand and navigate. One of these is lining up objects on the page – it just seems to make more sense to your eyes and your brain. Here’s how to to make sure your objects are all lined up.

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Put your Gold… above the Fold

Here’s another Guest Blog by by Alison Cross from AlisonCross4Webs.co.uk. Its all about making sure your most important website content is seen every time by every visitor.

Introduction – its about Newspapers

The web may have overtaken newspapers as the fastest moving source of news and gossip, but there is a web term that stems directly from that old newspaper industry – the fold.

Picture the scene: you’re at a news-stand and there are racks of newspapers available.  What can you see? The masthead? A title? Perhaps a photo or intriguing strap line?

Before you know it, you’ve parted with your cash and the Editorial team can heave a sigh of relief. Job done!

And Websites

In web terms, the fold is exactly the same.  When you open a web page in your browser – without scrolling – the content that you can see is deemed to be ‘above the fold’.

The media gurus at Neilson reported that more than 50% of visitors to a site wouldn’t bother to scroll down beyond the fold, so reinforcing the importance of the fold in website design.

That’s a lot of potential bounces off your site if you get your content layout wrong!

But wait – that report was written in 1997 – surely our website viewing habits have changed a tad in 10 years?!

Some people will scroll, but not all

Certainly, there ARE websites where the statistics show visitors are more than willing to scroll down to the bottom of the page for information – but, by my reckoning, most of these visitors are repeat visitors, users who all ‘get’ how the site works.  The casual visitor will still bounce off if what’s above the fold does not engage them.

So where is this fold then?

Ah – that’s the $64million question.  The fold is a bit like a rainbow – it’s difficult to find its true location.  Why? Because so much depends on the screen resolution of the viewer AND any browser add-ons that the visitor may have.  The more additions that you make to your browser bar – such as the Google toolbar – make it deeper, which means that end up seeing less of each web page.

If pressed, I’d say that it’s somewhere between 500 and 600 pixels down the page – which is a pretty wide variation!

What is the ‘Gold’ that you need above the Fold

That depends on the sort of website you’ve been building. But generally speaking, you need:

•    Your logo
•    Your name
•    Your menu bar
•    Your main page message
•    Your social networking buttons
•    Your Ads
•    Your Call to Action*

(*Call to Action – what’s the purpose of your website? To encourage people to read your blog? To visit your shop? To take part in a survey? A Call to Action is where you ask your visitor to take the next step towards fulfilling that site goal. Make sure that the Call To Action (EG ‘Get in touch for more information’) is therefore above the fold.)

How can you make people scroll under the fold?

You may have lots of other content that you want people to look at. So how do you go about getting people to scroll down the page?

•    Break your copy so that it’s obvious there’s more to read
•    Have something visually engaging – an image, a slideshow, a Youtube video. (This all needs to be related to your product or service, of course!)

Test your Design

To find out whether your site has a problem, you can of course check your Google analytics to see whether your bounce rate is high. (Please see this for a video tutorial on how to install Google analytics). A good bounce rate is less than 30%. Anything above 50% and you need to change your design. If its that high, its clear that the information on your website isn’t what people were hoping for. And that might be because you’re failing the fold test.

Once you’ve place all your Gold above the Fold, check your bounce rates again to see if they are improving.

Do the same for every page

Don’t forget that it’s not just your home page that you should inspect for fold issues.  Every page in your website is a potential landing page, so you’ll need to check all of them to make sure that important info isn’t lurking beneath the fold.

And that’s it. Good luck putting our Gold above the Fold!

About Alison Cross
Alison Cross lives on the Isle of Bute where she has built over a dozen websites using our software. She also helps people use Twitter to market their business. For more info or advice about social media or web design, visit her website alisoncross4webs.co.uk.

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Softwate Update

Give your website the 5 Second Test

You’ve got a great idea for a website. You use the WebEden website maker to put together the homepage and are really pleased with the results.

But how do you know that you’ve got the right design?

If you’ve got time, then you can ask a few colleagues what they think of the homepage. Others of you might show it to friends. People tell you what they think. But since you already know these people, what they say will be coloured by your relationship with them. Some of them might say they like it just to make you feel good. Others might give you good feedback on the design because you’ve already told them what the site is all about. In short, you get just a partial view of what a non-independent person thinks of your website.

And the other factor to take into account is: how long did your friends look at your site before they let you know what they thought? The quite scary statistic is that if someone can’t work out what your webpage is all about in less than 5 seconds, the chances are they will leave. We’re all so used to having easily accessible information; if we’re made to work for it we’d rather turn our backs than persevere.

Leaving a site in just a few seconds is called ‘bouncing’, and even the best sites in the world have a bounce rate of around 25%. What’s worse is that a majority of websites have a bounce rate closer to 50%, and many others – even websites of some quite big companies – have a bounce rate of near 75%.

You can view bounce rates using Google analytics. Follow this link for a video tutorial on how to install Google analytics on your website.

Going back to the original problem, how do you get honest feedback about your homepage design, so you can minimise your bounce rate? That’s where a great new service called Fivesecondtest.com comes in.

With fivesecondtest.com, you can upload a screenshot of any page from your website. Once uploaded, your screen shot is randomly presented for 5 seconds to anonymous volunteers. These testers then write down what they can remember about your website having looked at it, and email their reactions back to you.

You can also test out the procedure for yourself, and also check as many designs as you like, before pushing the test out to the volunteers.

Getting this feedback is invaluable. If a majority of testers can’t tell you quickly what your design is all about, then you need to change it. On the flip side, if most of the testers can accurately tell you what your site means, then you could well be onto a winner.

And since this service operates on a volunteer basis, you can try giving your feedback to other people’s designs, by signing up as a tester. This may well help you improve your ability to design a page that appeals to people instantly.

Give your website the five second test and let us know whether you found it useful.

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Google Products

Google wants to get inside your head

How do you design a web page so that it’s easy to look at, has clear information, and allows the user to navigate quickly to the content they’re looking for?

Over the last 15 years, mostly by a process of trial and error, website design ‘rules’ have evolved. Now almost any successful website follows a similar format is followed. All sites have a header across the top. Logos are in the top left hand corner. Menu bars are down the left hand side or below the header. Content is in the main area in the middle. And a ‘call to action’ tends to be in the main content or on the lower right hand side.

There’s lots of ‘web gurus’ out there that can advise on clear page layout, and website structure. One of the best known, with some of the best writing you can find on this subject, is Jakob Neilson.

Most of this knowledge has been arrived at though trial and error. Web designers have tried putting menus across the bottom and up the right hand side, and have found that they sell fewer products if they do that. And people have been observed using websites in focus groups; researchers have examined what they looked at and for how long, and what they clicked on.

Its even possible to buy software that can tell you where on the page your users’ mouse hovers, and where they click, even when there’s no button there to record that click.

But now Google wants to take the trial and error out of website design, with a piece of research they’ve just commissioned for YouTube. They want to get fully inside the mind of the user.

If you’re a frequent user of YouTube you might have recently seen a whole bunch of new advertising formats that Google are trying out on the site. There’s been anything from full homepage takeovers to plain old sponsored listings (like on the rest of Google). The brand new advertising format -called InVideo – that is now being tested overlays ads onto the bottom of the video being watched by the user.

Google is so keen to discover how effective this format is that they have enlisted the help of a company called NeuroFocus, who specialise in ‘brain wave research’. What exactly does that mean? Well Neurofocus place sensors on users’ heads in order to measure brain responses to visual and aural stimuli. They also test pupil dilation and skin temperature. They’re doing this for people watching the new InVideo ads on YouTube, to find out how effective they are compared to more traditional advertising formats. Google reckon that this new ad format is so radically different to traditional online and offline advertising that it requires specialist research to prove that.

According to Leah Spalding who is heading the project from Google, “This is an innovative company, and we want to embrace innovative technology”.

There’s no doubting the innovation there, but there’s also a pressing financial need to prove YouTube’s worth.  It cost Google $680m back in 2005, and the high bandwidth, high storage resource it demands is an enormous ongoing cost. Yet despite being one of the most visited sites on the planet, Google haven’t been able to make it work financially. If they can show that InVideo really works, then advertisers should start pouring money into the site.

Unless you’ve got the money, your build a web site experience needs to rely on the old trial and error. Wait though… have you got a bit of foil… and a coat hanger… yes I can see it now! Visors on, electrodes attached, lets start testing!

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