Thursday, 1 June 2017

7 Factors to Consider When Designing Websites

Web design is not only creative, but includes much more – from copywriting and typography to layout and graphics, coming together to create an interface that not only looks good but, one that communicates to its audience and delivers a good user experience.

A successful website project is a big task. Everyone wants their project to be successful, but this doesn’t happen magically and needs a strong plan.

1. What are your goals?

First port of call before starting work on your web design is to have a clear understanding of your business goals, or your client’s goals. What are you trying to achieve with the new website or redesign? What is the main reason or purpose of the website? Speak to your client, your manager or ask yourself what they are.

What is the function of your website? Are you selling products or services, creating entertainment or delivering information? Ask why you want the redesign: are you looking to grow the number of registrations, decrease the bounce rate or maybe increase user participation like downloads? The function will predetermine your website design and platform. Goals are equally important if you are considering redesign. 

2. Identify your audience

Knowing your audience is fundamental in how your website will look, feel and function. There are several demographics to consider that will have some effect in the design of your website, e.g. age, gender and occupation. A gaming website for a younger audience requires a different design than that of an entrepreneur. Usability is extremely important for senior and less technical audiences where small detail factors like font size and navigation should be considered.

3. What is your brand image?

Many website designers get excited about using the latest trends without considering the image they should be conveying. Glossy buttons, gradients and reflective floors may work for some websites, but they may not be right for your brand.

A few basic things to consider are colour and how you want visitors to feel when they land on the website and what emotions you want to evoke. Your design should bring to life the personality and character of your brand. Your website will have a feel that makes an impression on your visitors. Think about what that impression should be.

4. Do you have the right team in place?

If your strategy and direction is clear and you have the right team on board for the project, then trust that they will deliver. Communication throughout the website design is important so check in regularly and give feedback, ask questions, but at the same time micromanaging them isn’t necessary if you have the trust. The team will take ownership in pride of the website too and will want it to be a success.

5. Don’t expect a lot for a little

Website budgets are like a seesaw with factors like function, technicalities and design needing careful balance along with the work effort to build a successful website. The application of a budget should be common sense, but all too commonly not. Best practice is to base the budget for the website design on the value you expect to create and budget accordingly.

6. Quality takes time

Give your team sufficient time in regards to budget and timeline of your website project so they are able to complete the job the way you want it. Rushing generally means important and small steps are skipped and the website may not be the best it can be. Rushing means things will be overlooked.

7. Measure

Once your website has been designed, created and deployed, it’s time to measure your success. This is very important because until you test how well your design performs, you won’t know how effective it is in fulfilling your goals e.g. if your aim is to increase the registration numbers to your service, keep tally and measure it and see if your changes are making the impact you wanted. If your goal is to increase subscribers to your blog, check your RSS stats. If it is better user participation take note of comments or forum posts, etc.

Another way to measure the success of your new website is to ask people for their feedback. They will delight in telling you what they think and it's a great way to check you are on the right path, however, be mindful of every suggestion made – they may not be practical or relevant. Look out for regular patterns and common issues – deal with those.

Measuring website analytics is a science unto itself and beyond the scope of this article, but the important thing is you have some method of measuring in place keeping you on track of your key objectives.

Successful website projects aren’t an accident and are a result of a strong process, clear direction, a great team and much grafting and hard work.

Monday, 1 May 2017

My Useful Guide: Corporate Guidelines

When you are unsure how to use something, you normally refer to the user manual to help get better clarity. It’s no different with your branding and corporate identity. Corporate guidelines are your user manual to help set consistent communication across your business and to your customers.

Creating your corporate image is not enough. For any identity to be successful, it needs to be well managed too. Brand guidelines are designed to initiate and show employees the correct way to set and apply the brand communication across a variety of platforms and applications in a way that best supports and protects the brand.

A strong protected brand continues to build and grow value for your business. Corporate guidelines help achieve this by ensuring all employees, partners and external marketing agencies use the brand elements in the correct way at the right times. The guidelines provide the information and tools, setting the tone and standards for using brand names, logos, typefaces and other design elements in advertising (online and offline), brochures and flyers, POS, reports, newsletters, promotional items like exhibition stands, gifts, packaging and online communications.

A 2005 study by consultants Booz Allen Hamilton and Wolff Olin’s found that brand-guided companies outperform their competitors, with results that improve profitability. (1)

A key factor for maintaining a good and successful corporate image is consistency - especially important for any business with multiple locations. Consistency breeds recall and recognition, supporting your brand. Guidelines give your company control over the way other people use your brand so that its visual appearance to customers and clients is always the same.

Can you imagine the confusion for your customers if the signage on the outside of your building in one city was different compared to another? Is your stationery in the one office different to an office the other side of the country? Are you consistent or lax? Hopefully, your brand and corporate communication are the same at all your branches and offices. If not, you need to consider designing and creating a set of guidelines and apply and manage them so your brand is expressed and exposed consistently.

What should you include in your corporate guidelines:

• Brand values and ethos
• Logo
• Positioning, size and clear space
• Do’s and Don’ts
• Colour palette
• Typography

If applicable:
• Images
• Copywriting and tone
• Layouts
• Templates for stationery
• Web specifications
• Co-branding
• Advertising
• Signage

To Summarise
Corporate guidelines function at two levels: firstly, they explain why your employees and distributors and agencies should use the brand to achieve business objectives and goals. Secondly, they provide practical instructions on how to use communication fundamentals consistently across the business.

TOP TIP: Don’t assume that everyone has adhered to your corporate guidelines - it is important that you have an in-house process where final artwork is checked and approved.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

My Useful Guide: Informative Infographics

In their simplest form infographics (or information graphics) are visual representations of data or knowledge, designed to be easily understood at a glance. Basic infographics can be seen everyday in the form of traffic signs and weather charts for example, but from a marketing perspective the graphics featuring colourful illustrations, statistics, graphs and charts are the style most utilised by businesses and organisations around the world. Sometimes with a twist of humour these visual gems are perfect for sharing on social media and online.

Although we think of infographics as modern day design elements, their history actually dates back much, much further. In this blog article we look at the origins of infographics, their advantages and give you a handful of top tips.

A brief history

Believe it or not infographics arguably date back to prehistoric times, some 40,000 years ago! Cave paintings documented animals, geography and events through imagery as a result of the absence of letters and words with Egyptian hieroglyphics offering the same.

Another case bringing us into modern history, would be Florence Nightingale in 1857 using visual data in the form of stacked bar and pie charts. This early form of infographic was presented to Queen Victoria in a bid to improve conditions in military hospitals.   

Harry Beck designed a more familiar infographic in 1933, when he created the first London Tube map. Using bold colourful lines to highlight routes and stops proved a simple but effective representation of the London underground. Instigating an important step towards the infographic design that led to the iconic tube map used by thousands everyday.

These early examples are a far cry from the typical style of infographic we see today. Rising to fame in the online world, infographics are a great way to attract attention and communicate with a wide audience.

Why are infographics so effective?

It’s thought that 90% of the information the brain receives is visual, meaning that we can process imagery 60,000 times faster than written words! We respond better to visual content and are more likely to engage with graphics than text, making infographics an effective way to get a point across. Helping us to absorb more and learn faster consequently improving our understanding of the subject in hand. Infographics can have a longer lasting effect, have great impact and persuade people to take action.

This style of graphic information can be used to communicate a wide range of topics and can help to raise awareness of issues, make comparisons, state interesting facts, emphasize points, explain how something works and primarily communicate (sometimes complicated) information. Have a look at the example below, its on oldie but a goodie outlining the stats.

Having something as visually attractive as an infographic that’s easy to share on social media is a great marketing ploy. When scrolling through long social media feeds it’s the imagery that catches your attention and holds it. Using information graphics as a marketing strategy can prove rewarding through shares and likes on social media, quickly gathering momentum among like-minded audiences.

Some top tips

1.When implementing infographics as part of your marketing scheme keep them simple. Too much information can become overwhelming.

2. Strategic white space can help keep things legible and give it structure.

3. Stick to the main points and lay it out concisely and don’t misrepresent information with overzealous graphics.

4. Pick a catchy title if you need one but stay away from too much text, let the imagery and graphic elements do the work.

If you want help designing an infographic then get in touch with The New Fat, alternatively have a look at this months offer and receive £100 off a set of four infographics perfect for your social media posts. Why don’t you have a look at this months case study all about a project for NGO Forest Coalition. We designed a set of infographics, a leaflet and a supporting website, see how we got on.

What is an Infographic?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Fat Focus: The Impact of Emojis

Defined as visual communication, graphic design embraces a huge spectrum of styles, formats and interpretations. With this in mind we thought we would investigate the origins of one of the newest forms of communication…emojis!

The humble smiley face has opened up a whole new culture of cute and crazy icons adorning text messages, emails and social media platforms around the world. But where did emojis come from and why are they so popular?

Where did they come from?

Although a recent craze, emojis were first launched in Japan in the late 90s as a way of enhancing messages. Filtering their way around the world through messaging platforms such as MSN Messenger. Over a decade later Apple launched an iOS update introducing the emoji keyboard and the icons really took off.

2012 saw a massive surge in popularity, catapulting them into everyday life. Now dubbed the fastest growing language of all time, emojis comprise of over 1,600 icons and the list keeps growing! Spanning eight topics, they are now available in the form of smileys and people, animals and nature, food and drink, activities, travel and places, objects, symbols and flags. The most popular emoji being ‘tears of joy’ with over 1.5 billion uses on Twitter alone.

The word ‘emoji’ even made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013, and if that isn’t crazy enough, there will be an emoji movie released this year starring none other that Patrick Stewart and James Cordan!

So why are they so popular?

One theory is that they are personal. Emojis add emotion to an otherwise impersonal form of communication. It can often be difficult to judge the tone of a text message or a post on social media, but emojis seem to bridge the gap. Adding fun, creative elements to messages that help to express feelings better than written sentiments. They do say a picture is worth 1,000 words.

Emojis provide a human side to digital communication. Studies show that once we learn the meaning behind the symbol we start to relate to the emotion much like we do when we recognise it in a face.

Emojis can also help establish a personal or emotional connection that can be useful when promoting brand awareness. Used in advertising campaigns and on social media, big brands such as Mcdonalds, Dominos, Ikea and WWF have all implemented emojis, with Ikea and WWF even creating their own set. Audience connection is key when using social media, and the human element that emojis provide could be the difference between a like, a share or a scroll past. Many might think that emojis are limited to the younger generations but you would be wrong. Emojis are used by a wide demographic with studies showing a positive response to brands using emojis in their marketing with big increases in click through rates.

Emojis may be a passing craze that will eventually die out but for now they seem as popular as ever and here to stay.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Top Ten: Colour Palettes of 2017

2017 sees Pantone name their colour of the year as the vibrant and revitalising shade of green known as Greenery or Pantone 15-0343. With its cool, refreshing tone and spring-like feel, this yellow-green shade reinvigorates nature.

Representing new beginnings and vitality, this colour is universal. Present in nature around the world and encountered by most on a daily basis, our connection to nature is what grounds us when immersed in modern life.

With Greenery leading the way for 2017 our team at the New Fat have come up with our very own TOP TEN colour palettes.

Bearing in mind the current trend of nature and rejuvenation we have selected a range of colours that play on muted natural tones and paired them up with their vibrant counterparts and complimentary colours to create mini colour palettes. So in no particular order...

1. Sunny Yellow

These warm and sunny yellows evoke joy, happiness and warmth. A spontaneous colour it’s great for attracting attention. Inciting intelligence and youthfulness this is a perfect colour for energetic and fast paced brands. These shades work great with red, blues and greens.

2. Copper Tones

Coppery tones have been on the increase recently and we can see the rise continuing into 2017. With terra cotta undertones these warm, inviting earthy colours reflect strength and reliability. Great for reflecting a sense of loyalty and stability. 

3. Dusky Purple

A sophisticated pairing of purples adds a dusky vibe to our 2017 colour palette. Staying on the theme of warm and earthy these rich colours evoke a sense of luxury. An unusual take on the colour purple but we can see great potential in these rich shades.

4. Powdery Blue

These powder blue hues offer a soft feel and a fresh look. Signifying tranquillity and calm. Perfect for instilling a sense of trust. It’s a great middle-ground for purple and blue, projecting the best features of both colours. These blues have both composure and energy.

5. Deep Blue

A strong take on a mid-tone colour, these blues emit a sense of professionalism. Being slightly more masculine they promote strength. Although quite deep in colour these shades are great as a neutral base to pair with bright colours such as reds and yellows.

6. Sophisticated Teal

These marine shades feel sophisticated modern and summery. Teal is always a popular choice and this will continue into 2017 with a deeper, slightly muted twist. With the essence of the ocean behind them they add vibrancy and energy to any branding.

7. Fresh Green

This is our take on Pantones colour of the year, Greenery. With a stronger green undertone our shade still promotes freshness and growth but maintains an experienced feel. There are more shades of green than any other colour and these particular shades provide a great base palette.

8. Cool Green

Cool, calm, collected and up and coming. Spring has sprung with these greens. A fresh approach, these shades are both subtle and revitalising. Promoting a sense of lushness and vitality. A paler shade, these colours can still pack a punch when paired with blues or deep greens.  

9. Reddish Grey

A warm take on neutral these reddish greys are both classic and contemporary with a sense of reliability. More inviting than a typical cold grey these shades are comforting. Tertiary greys with a difference. For a colourful twist these shades make the perfect pairing with a powder blue or deep teal.

10. Earthy Grey

Whilst these colours may rarely standalone they work well as an addition to other colour palettes. Maintaining that earthiness they are a perfect compliment to other warming tones. Much like our reddish grey these shades represent longevity and diligence. A modern take on grey with the natural twist that 2017 is embracing.

So there is our TOP TEN colour palettes of 2017. A beautiful selection of varied shades that work well on their own or combined with other palettes in our countdown.