Web Design in Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada

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10 ways to bake UX into your company culture

Posted On October 17th, 2013 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Branding & Web Design, User-Experience,

With all the talk about UX these days, it's sometimes easy to get it confused with user-interface (UI) design. For example, someone might say, "Hey, I like X's website better than Y's because it has a better UX". Translation: 'X's website is more visually attractive'.

But here's an important point to consider: User-Experience is everything about your product/brand that a user experiences.

That might seem really obvious and not-too-insightful. Here's what I really mean by it; Your Chief Financial Officer doesn't impact UX whatsoever because customers generally has no idea what the financial status of a company is (excluding publicly traded companies, of course) and even if they do it has to be very poor for it to affect their choice to use your product.

This is what really goes into a user-experience. And it can't be done by one person, your entire team has to live and breath UX. This post isn't meant to explain UX methods, like research or testing. Instead, it's meant to discuss all of the different components of a company that affect the experience a user has with your product.

Cool graphic from Creatica

I launched my new site, now what?

Posted On June 13th, 2013 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Business Development, Coding & Application Development, Branding & Web Design, Internet Marketing, User-Experience,

We work with a lot of companies and organizations at Headspace. For many of them, the process goes like this: 

  • find a budget to re-design the website
  • put out an RFP
  • hire the right company for the job
  • Work with said company and launch the site
  • Ignore the relaunched website for another 3-5 years until they get another budget to re-design.

Sadly, this is the way economics work for these organizations. 

But there's a better way.

Instead of blowing your entire budget on just the website relaunch, spend 50% of it. Then spread the other 50% evenly across the next 3 years so that by the time the 3 years are up, your website isn't in too bad shape.

This leaves many website owners left wondering: What the heck do I do after the website is launched? Here's a check list:

Measure

There's a ton of stuff you can be measuring every day or every week. Google Analytics contains a wealth of information about your website traffic. Don't just focus on traffic alone, although this is an indicator of how your website is performing. Look at…

What does your brand really say?

Posted On March 7th, 2013 Author Amy Wheaton Filed Under Branding & Web Design, Internet Marketing,

Kickoff meetings with our clients are crucial for helping us get to know each other. They get to meet the team that will be working on their new website, app, or strategy. We get an in-depth view of their business, their website objectives, and perhaps most importantly, how they want their brand to be portrayed. 

We always like to ask clients to put a face on their brand, a personality. We ask them things like:

  • If your brand were writing a profile for a dating website, what would he/she say about themselves?
  • What kind of car do they drive?
  • What's their favourite outfit?
  • Where do they like to go for dinner?
  • What do they do on the weekend? 

Putting a face on your brand - not your customers or your target market, but your actual brand - is an interesting exercise. So often, clients will say that their brand is cool, casual, friendly, and approachable. And then we look at their current website, advertising materials, and collateral they've been using, and often discover that it's none of those things. 

No…

Clean and simple.

Posted On February 18th, 2013 Author Amy Wheaton Filed Under Branding & Web Design,

When we sit with a new client to discuss what they want their website to look like, the two adjectives we hear most often are "clean and simple".

This isn't a shocker. I don't think too many clients are on the hunt for "messy and cluttered".

But interestingly, during the design process, what starts off as "clean and simple" can quickly veer into cluttered territory - and it can be hard to pull a site back from the precipice of disaster once that line has been crossed.

Clean and simple does not mean easy. In fact, a truly clean design can be the hardest kind to maintain. It's like buying white furniture. That white couch looks gorgeous in the showroom, doesn't it? Bring it home to your kids and your dog and your coffee-drinking self, and before you know it, it's unrecognizable.

So, you're getting ready to build a website. You have a ton of information to share but you really want it to be clean and simple. How do you do both? A good web design and development studio will be able to suggest some solutions for you, but here are a couple of…

Is design perfectionism possible on the web?

Posted On December 2nd, 2012 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Branding & Web Design, Mobile and Responsive Design, User-Experience,

I still remember back in design school, one of the very first lessons we learned during a cut paper project was that professional designers are anal-retentive perfectionists. When we mounted work, it had to be perfect. Our mat board couldn't have any tears, our printouts were cut with a metal ruler and exacto blade, our sheets centred perfectly on the board (measured two or three times). No knicks, scratches or glue bubbles were permissible on the project.

This lesson was beaten into us (not literally, most of the time) for a reason: We had to give a shit about our work. If we were that obsessive about just mounting a printout to hand in to our instructors, we should be even more attentive with work that the world would see. The kerning of letters had to be adjusted just so. The spelling had to be accurate. Things that were supposed to align had to align precisely.

If you were to lurch behind a good designer and watch him or her work, you'd probably see him moving objects on the screen pixel by pixel with the arrow key, fine-tuning the typography, or sliding the opacity…

A new look for an old favourite

Posted On November 14th, 2012 Author Amy Wheaton Filed Under Branding & Web Design, Internet Marketing,

On Monday, Coca-Cola rolled out its new website design, which aims to be more of an online magazine than a brand mouthpiece. Called "The Coca-Cola Journey", the new site is named for a magazine that was published for the company's employees during the 80s and 90s. It features articles, interviews, opinion pieces, videos, and blogs about a variety of topics: sports, history, health, environment. 

Sure, it's impossible not to notice that this is indeed a Coca-Cola website, with frequent references to the brand and a subjective favourable slant, but material is presented in a way that's interesting, engaging, relevant and consumer-facing. 

Coca-Cola is just the latest corporation to shift their web presence to be more about sharing a story than flat-out hawking a brand. In a New York Times interview, Ashley Brown, director for digital communications and social media with Coca-Cola, explains that his team now operates similarly to an editorial team at a magazine. 

While there's definitely a Coke-friendly "point of view" to the content, they're striving to be a credible source, open to things such as accepting opinion columns that don't necessarily jibe with the views of the company. Coca-Cola's…

9 ways we (nearly) perfected our development process

Posted On September 8th, 2012 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Business Development, Coding & Application Development, Branding & Web Design,

I used to think process was an ugly word. Who wants to be neck deep in charts and documentation, wasting time when we could be actually doing the design or dev work? And it’s that kind of thinking that got us screwed over on jobs our first couple of years in business.

Well this year, I think we finally got it right. Sure, there’s always room for improvement, but there are several ways in which we nailed down, perhaps our most efficient, effective process of building websites and applications, and one that actually enhances the fun for us, while also ensuring clients get what they want in the end.

Take a look at this process chart I made a few months ago:

This process shows a more refined way that we go about a project that fits into one of two camps; Either a website built in ExpressionEngine or an application built within the CodeIgniter framework.

Putting the visuals first: UX first

We’ve recently adopted a UX-first approach to most projects. The bigger and more complex the application, the more important this approach is.

Scrolling is the new… not scrolling?

Posted On July 25th, 2012 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Branding & Web Design,

So you've often heard clients say: "There's too much on the page, people might not know to scroll. Did I mention, I HATE scrolling on websites?"

Yes, this was the reality of the web a few years ago. But is this direction really relevant now?

I say, no.

First of all, the only time scrolling ever sucked was when you had to physically maneuver your mouse over to the right side of your browser window, click and drag it down. But wheel's on mice have been standard for about 10 years ago, and on Mac laptops, you have to merely use two fingers to scroll instead of clicking and dragging anything.

And of course, touch screens have changed everything. One finger to swipe up or down the page is all it takes.

But mobile devices are the primary reason that having a lot of content on a page is not really a big deal. In fact, I'd argue that it makes for a worse user-experience to limit content to above the (imaginary) fold.

The primary reason is bandwidth. What makes more…

Podcamp Halifax

Posted On January 23rd, 2012 Author Kyle Racki Filed Under Business Development, Branding & Web Design, Internet Marketing, News,

Yesterday I attended Podcamp Halifax, which is a great annual, free event full of presentations about the web and social media. It's a great place to connect with people face-to-face that you know from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and learn new things that can help you with your business.

Much kudo's to the folks who put it on including Craig Moore from Spider Video. To those who came, it was great meeting you and I hope to you next year (or sooner)

 

I was privileged to put on a presentation based on Aarron Walter's book, Designing For Emotion. It attracted a good sized crowd and seemed to resonate with the people in attendance. Here were some mentions on Twitter:


HarmonicDev Harmonic Internet
 
GREAT talks yesterday by @brightwhite @kyleracki @SpiderVideo and keynote speaker @julien #podcamphfx and big kudos to the event organizers!


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