Fundraising for Business
Fundraising for Business

Raising capital for a startup. Crowdfunding to kickstart a new product line. Asking family for a loan. There are many types of fundraising for business purposes.

Regardless of the method, launching a fruitful fundraising campaign takes some work. Avoid the most common fundraising mistakes by following our tips for success below.

Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More

You know what they say: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

When it comes to fundraising for business, perhaps the most common and overarching mistake is a lack of planning. Not only must the fundraiser itself be well thought out, but there needs to be a deliberate plan for everything that goes into making it a win.

  • Timeline – Determine your deadline and work backward from there. Don’t rush it. In fact, according to Martin Zwilling, the best time to start considering how to fundraise for a business is now. Regardless of when you will be executing your fundraiser, start planning as early as possible.
  • Research – Get to know your target audience. What are their expectations and restrictions? How do their priorities align with yours? A little research can go a long way, regardless of whether you’re launching a Kickstarter campaign or scheduling face-to-face meetings with investors.
  • Goal – How much do you need, really? Of course, you probably know how much you need to get your business or product off the ground. But that’s not the only thing that will cost money. Fundraising for business can include a few other expenses that might not be top of mind. Do you need to hire a PR person, pay a web developer, cover rent, etc.? Make sure you include all of those potential costs in your fundraising goal, too.

If we could give one word of fundraising advice, it would be DO. NOT. RUSH. Well, that’s three words, but you get the point! Bottom line: A well-executed fundraiser tomorrow will yield significantly better results than a rush job, today.

Think Outside of the Box

Repetition is boring! Implementing the same old fundraising ideas for small businesses is safe and comfortable. But that doesn’t mean they are the most effective (or efficient) way to raise funds.

The status quo won’t capture the attention of your backers, nor will it energize your team. Over time, a lack of creativity can result in flat or declining contributions, as well as missed opportunities. Who wants that??

Don’t underestimate the value of creativity as you consider how to fundraise for a small business. (Or a large business, for that matter!) Before deciding on a plan, really take the time to brainstorm some out-of-the-box ideas. The easiest way to formulate an innovative concept is to learn as much as you can about your niche and those in it. Once you really understand your consumers and investors, you’ll be surprised by the solutions you can come up with.

Remove Potential Barriers

It’s been said that customers make buying decisions in less than a minute. The same can go for investors. This means that they are making judgements about you, your business, or your product with nothing more than a single interaction. Even the best business fundraising ideas can flop if investors believe that you’re worth their money!

Focus on web design. Don’t let your website hold you back. You can have one of the best business fundraising ideas, but If your site is difficult to navigate, isn’t mobile friendly, includes distracting elements, contains poorly written copy, etc., potential investors are likely to take one look…and bounce.

Make contributing easy. A beautiful home page, a perfect fundraising plan, the ideal product. None of them matter if your method of processing payments isn’t functional. Honestly, how much effort would you spend trying to back a business if the process were a pain in the butt? Probably not much. You’d likely find another investment that provides the same value with less hassle.

In short, take the time to ensure that your investors and customers have a pleasant experience. Yes, this may mean extra time developing your site or extra money spent on payment processing software. Trust us! It will be well worth it in the end.

Put It Out There 

Marketing works! Get the word out about the opportunity your business provides potential investors.

Utilize Press Releases. This often-overlooked step is simple and relatively quick. Write up and share a quick press release to let the world know what you have to offer!

Network. Networking isn’t about finding investors in the moment. It’s about what happens afterward, and it’s one of the best ways to gain word-of-mouth exposure. Why? Because even if your opportunity isn’t right for Joe, it could be perfect for his sister Debbie, his buddy Patrick, or his neighbor Leon. Always share information about your company, what you’re trying to do, and how fundraising will help. You just never know who Joe knows.

Don’t Stop. Once you feel like you’re “there,” don’t back off. Keep talking, keep sharing, keep marketing. Extra publicity is beneficial, both today and down the road.

Put Relationships First

While a kick-butt pitch and awesome product are necessary pieces to the fundraising puzzle, trust and rapport are critical components as well. Always cultivate and nurture relationships with your investors, regardless of how much they contribute.

Build relationships first. Take time to build relationships before asking for money. This gives your potential donors time to get to know you. It also gives them time to reflect and ask questions. This investment in relationship-building will naturally create value in the eyes of those you plan on asking for cash.

Say thank you. There are a number of inexpensive, creative ways to thank your supporters. Whichever method(s) you choose, say “thank you” early and often. Never let a kind word, a social media share, or a financial contribution get past you without expressing gratitude.

Check-in. Relationships are a two-way street. A happy birthday note or congratulations email will set you apart. Want to take it up a notch? Send a bottle of wine as a housewarming gift. Deliver a box of candy at the holidays. There are thousands of ways you can stay top of mind and give back to investors.

Utilize social media. Social media allows you to easily build authentic connections with your supporters. You’ll make them fall in love with you, your story, and your business, all by sharing frequently on social platforms.

Keep everyone current. Don’t undervalue the power of information. Let your investors know what’s happening. Show them how their investment is helping. By sharing your process, you will keep your stakeholders excited about what you’re doing!

Fundraising for Business Success with Hungry Media

The “ask” is just one ingredient in the recipe for fundraising success. Don’t forget to do the small things well, and consistently.

Plan ahead. Be gracious and genuine. Make investors’ impact understandable. Interact. Put your whole heart into your fundraising efforts for amazing results. Hungry Media can help with all of this!

We’re a leading digital marketing company with experience in a wide range of industries. If you’re getting fundraising campaign off the ground, want to kick around fundraising ideas for new business, or just want to avoid the most common fundraising mistakes, reach out! We’d love to help you plan for success. info@hungrymedia.com

Mobile First Strategy
Mobile First Strategy

We Live in A Mobile World

Mobile is here, people, and it’s here to stay! So, it’s no wonder the term “Mobile First Strategy” has become a bit of a buzzword these days. 

The phone you keep in your pocket, and are very likely using to read this article, is exponentially more powerful than the computer NASA used to manage Apollo 11’s moon landing or Nixon used to run the country during his presidency. Another interesting statistic: more Americans own smart phones than desktop and laptop computers combined. 

Why are we sharing this with you? Because historically, most web developers have chosen to take a desktop-first approach, with a mobile design as a secondary consideration. In short, they begin with full-sized sites and work their way smaller. It makes sense, or at least it did fifteen years ago – before smartphones became the way of the world and mobile first development strategy became a must. 

But times, they are a-changing. 

What is a Mobile First Approach?

It’s pretty much what it sounds like. A mobile first strategy takes the typical “desktop down” paradigm of web design and flips it on its head. Mobile first strategy makes mobile considerations the primary concern, with laptop and desktop versions developed from there.  

This is not to be confused with a “responsive design,” in which a desktop-first design changes based on screen size. Navigation options and download speeds of responsive sites remain geared towards desktop users instead of mobile. This isn’t the case with mobile first.

Mobile first design is similar to developing a mobile app which is adapted for viewing on a desktop or laptop. In this case you start small – you can only fit so much on a mobile screen, after all. You’ll decide what is most important to include on that screen and go from there. Compared to typical desktop design, a mobile first design strategy usually includes fast download speeds, simple navigation, shorter forms, and interactive, media-rich content.

Why Mobile First Strategy?

“Why not?” might be a better question. There’s no two ways about it – we’re addicted to our mobile devices. 

Seriously, when was the last time you went a day, an afternoon, or even an hour without looking at your phone? As of 2019, 53% of total internet traffic came from mobile devices. It’s estimated today that 25% of mobile web users are “mobile only” (i.e. they rarely use a desktop or laptop to access the internet). 

Plus, Google’s algorithm favors mobile friendly sites. Currently, when a search is conducted from a mobile device, Google returns responsive sites closer to the top of the list. It stands to reason that as mobile first content strategy becomes the norm, the algorithm will begin to favor sites designed not just responsively, but with the mobile user experience as the top priority. 

The internet has broken out of its computer-shaped box, and it is now carried around in our pockets. That’s not going to change anytime soon.

What is a Mobile First Marketing Strategy?

Users make buying decisions based on their ability to access information on products or services immediately; therefore, it’s not enough just to have a mobile friendly website. A mobile first marketing strategy is a must, as well.

According to a bizreport study, while less than half of users actually make their purchase on a mobile device, most use it to research a product before purchasing. As consumers we’re using our smartphones to find inspiration, compare prices, learn about various companies, read reviews etc. If this process isn’t smooth and comfortable, the probability that we’ll move forward with a purchase takes a nosedive.

Even if most of your business transactions occur in person, you’re not immune to the mobile shopping trend. It’s been reported that 82% of smartphone users have consulted their device to research potential purchases while standing inside the store.

A mobile first strategy includes unique content for mobile users, social media integration, and of course web design optimized for mobile usage and viewing. 

So yes, everyone needs a mobile (probably even a mobile first) business strategy. Think about it this way: the content your consumers see on their mobile device establishes brand awareness, develops brand loyalty, and drives purchasing decisions.

Mobilize Your Mobile First Strategy With Hungry Media

To make it in today’s market, mobile is a must. We’re here to help design and implement your mobile first strategy. Contact us at info@hungrymedia.com to get started. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Writing a Mission Statement

Writing a mission statement is a must for business builders, app developers, content creators and any other entrepreneur. However, slowing down to brainstorm about one simple sentence doesn’t always seem like a great use of time, does it?  But while a mission statement is a single sentence – it’s certainly far from simple.

How to Write a Mission Statement

What is a Mission Statement?

In short, the purpose of a mission statement is to define your company and set it apart from the rest. It describes why you exist, your goals, what you will provide your stakeholders, and how you plan on achieving it all. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one little sentence, huh?

Why Should You Be Writing a Mission Statement?

That is a lot of pressure to put on one little sentence. Which is exactly why the importance of a mission statement can’t be understated. Creating a mission statement is a process. It isn’t something you throw together in a few hours and slap up on your beautifully designed website.

Good mission statements will serve as your compass. A well thought out mission statement guides your decision making. It helps you focus your resources. It serves as a starting point for your branding. It provides a framework for your employees to work within.

So, yes. A mission statement is a big darn deal! And, yes. You should definitely be writing one. But how, exactly, do you do this?

Questions to Consider Before Writing a Mission Statement

Learning how to write a mission statement for a business takes time and perseverance. To get started, sit with the questions below and document your answers. It’s important that your mission truly encompasses the spirit of your business, so don’t rush this part.

What are your beliefs? 

To what do you hold true? What colors your view of the world? The best mission statements are built upon this foundation. A sentence to describe each of your top 3-5 beliefs will do.

What do you value?

Think about what makes you choose to spend your money on one product over another? What makes you gravitate towards certain people? This is a great way to identify the attributes you value most. Try to pare your values down to 1-2 two words, each.

Why does your business exist? 

What is your goal? Take a holistic view of your beliefs and values to answer this one. Of course, most businesses aim to make money. But what’s the reason you chose to make money in this particular way? That is your why.

What action word best suits your company? 

Dedicate, inspire, awaken, nurture, champion, refresh. Your options are endless. If you don’t identify with one word right away, try starting with a broader statement and whittle it down to a single word from there.

Who is your ideal customer? 

Envision them actually deciding to use your product or service. Why do they want it? How do they find you? What benefit will you provide? Keep this person in mind as you draft each version of your mission statement.

What makes you special? 

Why should a customer choose your business, specifically? Do you provide incredible value, the best customer service in the world, the most relatable content? What sets you apart from the rest?

How do you serve your other stakeholders? 

Describe exactly how you want those involved in your business to feel about you (and their work). According to a 2017 study, mission statements are more effective when stakeholders other than customers are considered, too.

How will others perceive your mission statement? 

This will inform the words and tone you use to craft your business mission statement. It also provides a great starting point for the revision step, below.

How to Write a Good Mission Statement

Once you’ve spent time considering the questions above, you can begin creating your mission statement. While there’s no “official” checklist, there are a few logical steps you can follow to guide you through the process.

  • Get it out. Write down, in paragraph form, exactly what you want your mission statement to convey. Include the answers to the questions above as clearly as possible. Don’t worry about word count yet. Just get it out there.  
  • Collect feedback. Have others read your draft. Ask them questions. How does it make them feel? What meaning does it convey? What could make it better? This isn’t the time for you to talk. Just ask the questions, listen to the answers, and take it all in.
  • Revise. You may need to revise and collect feedback a few more times before this first statement feels like a true expression of your mission. Don’t move on until it does.
  • Use a formula. Rewrite what you’ve got to fit this formula: Goal + who + how = mission statement. 
  • Collect more feedback. Ask the questions again. You want to ensure sure the change in structure hasn’t changed the overall perception of the statement.
  • Revise, again. Same as above.
  • Pare it down. Get out your red pen and start editing! Aim for a maximum of 20 words. Yep, 20! Get creative. Use a thesaurus. Research other mission statement examples for inspiration.
  • Walk away. Give your brain a break. Take a day or two to clear your mind. This will give a fresh perspective before you dig in again.  
  • Rinse and repeat. Continue to revise and seek feedback until you’ve got it right.
  • Use it! Take advantage of all that hard work. Allow your mission statement to guide you from here on out.  

Need Help Writing a Mission Statement for Your Business?

A good mission statement lays the foundation for business success. If you find yourself stuck, want to make the most of your existing mission statement, or simply need help working a mission statement into your marketing plan, reach out! We’re here to help and would love to be a part of your journey. Contact us at info@hungrymedia.com to get started!

Importance of Branding
Importance of Branding

What is Branding?

The term “brand” refers to a name, design, symbol, or other feature that sets a product or service apart from the rest. “Branding your business” refers to the process of fostering an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand.

Regardless of whether you own an established brick and mortar, are in the development phase of a cool new app, or just getting your startup off the ground via a crowdfunding campaign – your brand is your reputation. The importance of branding cannot be underestimated.

The Importance of Branding

In today’s marketplace, brand building isn’t simply a task that you complete in order to move on. Working through the steps of branding is a necessity. Branding promotes recognition, sets you apart from competitors, and tells customers what to expect from you. According to a 2013 Neilson survey, 59% of consumers prefer to buy new products from brands familiar to them.

Customer aside, a strong brand provides an internal compass. Brand can guide business decisions and help you stay on track when faced with uncertainty.

What is Brand Identity?

Brand identity encompasses several factors. It might start with a brand logo, but it also includes what a business actually represents and how customers feel when they think of it.

A strong brand identity will help you stand out in the marketplace by making your product or service more memorable to consumers. Over time it can also solidify your identity as a subject matter expert in your niche.

How to Create a Brand Identity

Keep in mind that brand identity is fluid and ever evolving. Therefore, it’s not something to create and forget about. You’ll want to monitor it closely and work to strengthen it as time goes on. Here are a few brand building strategies to get you started.

  1. Establish a mission statement. The time required to develop a strong, meaningful mission statement is time well spent. Your mission statement becomes the foundation of your brand by defining your purpose and your target audience. Everything from logos, to taglines, to voice should reflect your mission statement.
  • Determine what sets your company apart. You don’t have to be the biggest, fanciest company in your niche to stand out. What do you offer that nobody else can? What do you do well that you competitors do not? Is it the authentic, transparent customer service you provide? Is it the simple, handwritten note you include with each order from your Esty shop? Figure out what sets you apart…and do that!
  • Develop a brand voice. What adjectives will describe the way you communicate with your audience? Casual? Humorous? Professional? Technical? Once you decide how you would like to be perceived, brand your business by ensuring all customer-facing content utilizes your brand voice.
  • Maintain consistency. Once you begin to execute your plan with brand identity in mind, you’ve got to stay consistent. Otherwise you’ll confuse your customer. This means ensuring you’re always guided by your mission statement; moreover, it includes branding design components and web design elements, such as colors, fonts, logos, etc.

After you’ve established a solid brand identity, you can begin to foster brand loyalty. And let us tell you, this is where the magic really happens!

What is Brand Loyalty?

Brand loyalty (or lack thereof) can make or break any business, since it is based on customers’ feeling of support or allegiance to the business. The best brands can (and do!) maintain a loyal customer base despite changes in the environment, increases in cost of products or services, actions of competitors, market fluctuations, etc.

Brand loyalty exists when customers feel truly connected to the brand itself. This connection can be derived from a number of factors including the quality of the product or service, trust in the business, and customer service experiences, to name a few.

An established, loyal customer base will lead to repeat customers and word or mouth referrals, which are the holy grail of business building. As you can imagine, though, brand loyalty doesn’t just develop overnight. I must be built organically, and over time.

How to Build Brand Loyalty

Now that we understand the purpose and importance of brand loyalty, let’s look at a few ways to build it!

  1. Identify your target audience. Who is your ideal consumer? What are their priorities? Where do they shop? How do they dress? How much money do they make? Answering these questions in advance will ensure that your marketing efforts are focused in the on the correct group of consumers.
  • Examine what makes them tick. Learn what drives your target audience to make buying decisions and use this information as you create customer-facing content. Everything from customer service replies to Instagram ads should be developed with the needs of the customer in mind.
  • Stay consistent. Consistency is key here, too. You’ll build the most loyal base when your customer knows what to expect from you. This includes anything from how often you post on social media, to shipping time for your products, to turnaround time for email responses.
  • Provide incentives. For your customers to return, that is. Repeat business is where it’s at! Consider creating a loyalty program or use promo codes to keep customers coming back for more.
  • Use Social Media Influencers. Brand loyalty is dependent upon trust. Generally, consumers already trust the influencers they choose to follow on social media. If one of those influencers believes in your brand, their followers will be much more likely to believe in you as well.
  • Let your personality shine. Connection can drive brand loyalty. And nothing connects people quite a common quirk or two! Don’t be afraid to be yourself! YOU might be the very thing that generates an emotional connection between your customers and your brand.

Build a Brand that Inspires Loyalty

The best brands are built upon a strong foundation, which allows each and every branding decision to be made strategically. Whether you want to learn how to start branding your business, discuss the importance of branding, or simply want to brainstorm business branding ideas, we’re here for you!

We’d love to make your ideas a reality and help you create a brand that inspires lifelong loyalty. Contact us at info@hungrymedia.com. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Squarespace vs Wordpress
Squarespace vs WordPress

Okay, so you’ve decided to build a website. You know what it’ll look like, which web design mistakes to avoid, and what it’s purpose will be. What’s next? Well, when it comes to actually building your website, the first step to pick a web design platform. This decision often comes down to Squarespace vs. WordPress, and which is right for you.

Both web design platforms allow users to create a website with minimal technical skills and experience; however, they aren’t created equal. There are pros and cons to each, when considering which to choose.

The main points of comparison between these two website platforms are a result of their fundamental differences. Web design powered by WordPress (and we are referring to WordPress.org, here) uses an open source content management system, where as Squarespace is a cloud-based website builder.

That said, they’re often used for the exact same purpose – building and maintaining a website for use as a business tool. So, which should you choose, and why? Well let’s take a look!

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Design Flexibility 

Variety and Availability of Themes

It’s pretty safe to say that there’s little comparison here. When it comes to design flexibility, WordPress is going to have Squarespace beat. This is because WordPress is intended to be built upon, while Squarespace is intended to be a one-stop shop.

When designing a site from scratch, the options offered by WordPress are nearly endless. To date, there are over 7,000 free WordPress themes. And then there are thousands more premium options available for purchase. Most, if not all, WordPress templates are customizable in terms of colors, fonts, layouts, etc. Additionally, WordPress web design provides more in-depth functions and allows for complete, customizable control.

Squarespace is a “feature rich” web platform known for it’s beautiful, sleek templates. But given the nature of Squarespace itself, there is a relatively limited number of templates available. On the other hand, these templates are ready-made and come with plenty of preset features that are simple to use.

Extensions and Integrations

In a way, this could fall into the category of “design flexibility” above, as it can refer to the options you have when creating your website. But, it also refers to the options you have after your site is up and running.  As your business, following, or customer base grows, you may find yourself in need of additional functionality.

WordPress is much more adaptable in this situation. In addition to the most essential WordPress plugins, you’ll have close to 47,000 options to utilize. Whether you need to connect with third party software, tools, and services, or simply need to add a new feature – there’s a plugin for that. As your business grows, you’ll find endless opportunities to grow your website alongside it.

The list of available extensions for Squarespace, compared to WordPress, is very short. There are a few third-party integrations, but there isn’t a very robust API to build upon. If you want to extend a site using Squarespace, you’ll have to work within its limitations.

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Performance

SEO Optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is super-important these days. It’s how you get your website to show up in a Google (or Bing or Wiki) search. But SEO optimization is an ever-changing science, and it can be a bit tedious to learn. Enter: SEO tools.

There are several SEO tools integrated into Squarespace, versus WordPress which requires plugins to achieve the same goals. WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO will guide you through best practices to optimize your site as well as your content.

Security

Website security is a hot topic, and for good reason. Your customers have to trust that you will keep their information safe. There’s one main difference between Squarespace vs. WordPress when it comes to security – who’s responsible for it.

WordPress requires that you keep your site’s security up to date. While this may seem a little scary, you need not fear! There’s a plugin for that. In fact, there are several plugins that automatically take care of security for you.

On the other hand, Squarespace manages security for you. The platform ensures your site stays safe from hackers and that the system functions properly.

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Convenience 

Mobile Editing

You’re probably on the go just as much as your customers are! You’ll want the option to edit, track, or analyze your site without having to sit down at your computer.

The free WordPress app allows you to edit content, review analytics, and update your pages from your smartphone. The official Squarespace app only allows you to edit your pages. There are additional apps available which provide the ability to update Squarespace content and track performance.

In short, you can edit from your mobile device regardless of which web design platform you choose. The only difference is the number of apps you’ll need in order to do so.

Ease of Use

When it comes to getting something new off the ground, the decision often comes down to ease of use. So, let’s talk about that!

WordPress is pretty intuitive. Given everything we’ve discussed here, it stands to reason that WordPress will take some time to learn. The good news is that the learning curve isn’t terribly steep. Most beginners adapt to WordPress after a just few days of working with the web design platform.

On the other hand, Squarespace’s visual, drag and drop operation very beginner friendly. In fact some might argue there’s no learning curve at all. Yes, it offers fewer choices in general, but that can simplify the decision-making process, thus shortening the time from inspiration to complete creation. Plus, you still get everything you need to design, publish, and maintain a full website.

Squarespace vs. WordPress: Cost

And here we are. The bottom line. What is each one going to cost you? Well, just like everything else on this list, there’s no black and white answer.

Technically WordPress is free. You don’t have to pay to use their software. But you do have to pay to host your site, as well as incur the one-time costs for any premium themes, templates, or plugins. There are plenty of hosting options available. For a service like Bluehost, which starts at $7.95/month, it’s a relatively inexpensive investment.

Squarespace is software as a service. Basically, you’re creating your site and paying a monthly fee for Squarespace to maintain it on your behalf. As with any service, there’s a cost. The cost of Squarespace includes hosting and starts at $12/month.

To be honest, the costs of each will probably equal out over time. You might spend less initially on Squarespace vs. WordPress, which could have a higher up-front cost. On a monthly basis, however, you will likely spend less on WordPress site.

Conclusion – Which is the Best Website Platform?

Well, as you might imagine, there’s no straightforward answer, here. Squarespace is certainly easier out of the gate for a beginner. However, it’s limitations can make future expansion of your site challenging, or even impossible. WordPress may take more time to learn, but most believe its flexibility is worth it.

The best platform for web design comes down to your ultimate goal. What do you intend to use your site for? Where do you see yourself and your business in two, five, ten years’ time? Our best piece of advice – start with the end in mind and work backward form there.

We’re Here To Help!

Want to talk it out? Interested in learning more about Squarespace vs. WordPress? Need a second opinion or some assistance? Get in touch! We’d love to help you design and build a website that meets the needs of your business today and well into the future. info@hungrymedia.com

Web Design Elements
Web Design Elements

You’ve done it! You’ve made the mental leap and decided to build a new website. Now what?!

Whether you’re building a site for your brand-new business, or your existing site needs an overhaul, the plethora of web design elements to consider can be overwhelming. But don’t worry. We’ve got you!

Web Design Elements to Avoid

Elements of good web page design include the obvious – a beautiful aesthetic, fast load times, a logical layout; however, there is more to effective web design than one might think.

The good news is that you don’t have to be an expert in web design principles and elements to spot a bad design. This is why the best place to start is by reviewing a few “Web Design Don’ts.”

We’re willing to bet you’ve come across at least a few of these elements during your browsing sessions.

Images

Photos and other graphics are among the most basic web design elements, and they are incredibly important. Done right, images compliment your copy by providing information that makes your message more understandable. To this end, try to avoid these image-related missteps:

Stock photography – It’s usually pretty cheesy, and your visitors will know that it’s stock. Original photos are always best.

Irrelevant images – Photos should provide clarity and add meaning to your text. If your user can’t draw an explicit connection between your image and your text, you’re better off with no image at all.

Non-responsive images – Users view your site on a variety of screen shapes and sizes. For this reason, responsive web design elements are a must. Images, specifically, should re-size to fit the device on which they are viewed.

Fonts

Flat web design elements will make your site easy on the eyes. Simple typography is a great place to start because font is a form of communication in and of itself. Font choice conveys a message before text is even read. As such, you’ll want to avoid the following font-based faux pas:

Cursive – Cursive or handwritten fonts can be difficult to read. When text is difficult to read, users have to work harder to understand each word. This can break their focus on the message you are trying to convey.

Too Many Fonts – Variation in fonts is distracting and takes away from the flat design look most users gravitate towards. A good rule of thumb is to stick with two or three fonts, max.

Extra large or small text – Text should be legible across all devices. Very large or very small font size doesn’t always translate well to various screen sizes. A huge swing in font size can also fall into the “too many fonts” category, above.

Navigation

Confusing navigation is one of the most common web design mistakes we see. We’re all for creativity, but this is not the place for it. Navigation should be as intuitive as possible, i.e. it should work in the way people think. Reinventing the wheel will only frustrate your users, and they’ll be more likely to leave before they’ve seen what you have to offer. To avoid this, skip these navigation no-no’s:

Animated navigation – Anything that flashes, bounces, or scrolls will make navigating your site more challenging than necessary.

Images as navigation buttons – If you opt to use images as a part of your navigation, make sure each image is accompanied by clear, concise text.

Uncommon placement of navigation buttons – Proper placement of navigation options makes your site easier to use. Regardless of how cool it looks, going against the grain here will only lead to confusion.

Pop-ups

We get it. Pop-ups can be necessary, at times. But do your best to eliminate them where possible. This is one of those web design elements that immediately makes users think “advertisement.” Many just close the pop-up instinctively, without even registering its content.

If you must use a pop-up, make sure it is easy to exit. When someone visits your website and can’t find their way out of your pop-up, they leave. Plain and simple.

Prominent Backgrounds

There are many background options that look great on their own, but when combined with content just become too much. Most sites should opt for simple, clean backgrounds. This allows users to focus on your text, graphics, and calls to action.

Background Music

Just don’t. Not only is music incredibly distracting, but you run the risk of deterring visitors who dislike it. If including sound is important for the sake of your business – like if you’re promoting your music – include media players that allow users to start and stop the music at their convenience.

DIY Web Design

You don’t need to be an expert to design a decent website. In fact, there are several tools available to help get started. Surprisingly, one of the most common is photoshop. Web design elements can be laid out with Photoshop and later converted into a functional template. And then, of course, there are the premade templates many hosting services offer. Most templates can help you avoid common elemental web design mistakes, like those discussed above.

Professional Web Design

Of course, we’re here to help if you’d like to take it a step further. Whether you have an awesome idea to get off the ground, a site in need of a makeover, or something in between – reach out! We’d love to discuss your website and share our painless approach to the design process. info@hungrymedia.com

Common Website Mistakes
Common Website Mistakes

It’s easy to view your website as The End Goal. In reality, a website is simply a tool. Don’t get us wrong, it’s an important tool. But it’s still just a tool.

Ultimately you want your site to work for you while providing a positive experience for the end user. So, here’s the million-dollar question: How will your website help you achieve your goals?

In all likelihood, it will serve several purposes. Prioritizing these will go a long way when trying to avoid the most common website mistakes. Once you’ve determined how you’ll leverage your website, you can begin the design process.

Read on to learn which web design mistakes to avoid – and how to avoid them!

Common website design mistake: Unclear purpose
Solution: Begin with the end in mind.

Web design issues often arise when the purpose of the site isn’t clearly defined in advance. When you begin with the end in mind, you can focus on creating both visual and content hierarchies that guide users in the appropriate direction.

  • Will your customers use your site to purchase products? If so, the goal of your website will be to get them to complete the “check out” process.
  • Will your site be used to gain exposure and build relationships? Then the goal might be to funnel customers to your Instagram page where you communicate with them on a daily basis.
  • Will you utilize your site to help build a customer database? Then your goal could be to gather information about users via a “Contact Us” form.

In short – every area of your website should be designed with your end-goal in mind, whatever it may be.

Common website design mistake: Ineffective architecture
Solution: Design around meaningful content

Designing without consideration for content is one of the biggest website mistakes we see. To avoid this, determine the type of content you want your website to contain, and design around it.

For instance, if your content is mainly text-based, focus on getting users to read it!

It’s fine to design a sleek website that highlights your awesome photos, but this won’t draw users to your text. In fact, it will do the opposite. In this example you’ll want to opt for a design that puts your text front and center while making it easy to read.

Common website design mistake: Conflicting visuals
Solution: Use consistent design elements

Website design issues, such as inconsistency in design elements, can lead to a less enjoyable user experience. While inconsistency might not be noticed consciously, it forces our brains to work just a little bit harder. Maintain consistency to ensure customers know what to expect.

Consistency Within Your Site

Calls to Action – Not only should you keep your call to action buttons the same shape and color on every page, but keep them in the same location, too.

Fonts and Colors – Maintain consistent fonts and colors. For instance, the font and color of all product prices should be the same throughout your entire site.

Consistency with Industry Standards

One of the biggest website design mistakes to avoid is an attempt to reinvent the wheel. We all know to click the top left logo to return to the homepage. We look to the top right of our screens for shopping carts. We’re sure to find Contact Us links at the bottom of the page.

Web design is not the place to set yourself apart. Consumers expect certain actions to be available in specific locations. Changing that up will do nothing but make the user experience more complicated than it needs to be.

Common website design mistake: Confusing navigation
Solution: Help users find their way

Browsing your site should be a positive experience for your users. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to make navigation a breeze.

Limit Navigation Options

Overloading the navigation will provide too many choices. When consumers are faced with too many choices, they are less likely to make any choice at all. This is a fairly common website design mistake. To avoid it, group the content in your navigation. Shoot for just 3-5 to choose from at a time.

Use Breadcrumbs

This is especially important for sites with lots of content. Don’t make your user restart their ten minute journey just to find the page they viewed thirty seconds earlier. And yes, they could use their “back” button, but they shouldn’t have to.

If users navigate through more than 2-3 pages to reach a final destination, clickable breadcrumbs make it easy to find their way back to parent page(s).

Add a Search Option

Another great option for content-heavy sites is a search bar. It’s simple to include and can help users locate that one page they know they saw last week but can’t seem to find today.

Common website design mistake: Short-term thinking
Solution: Plan for maintenance

Technology advances faster than you can say “Javascript Update.” All it takes a small change in one operating system to render your site obsolete – or at least shut it down while you scramble to resolve the issue.

Think about it like this: you don’t spend money on a new vehicle and call it a day, right? It’s awesome to have that fancy car, but if you don’t change the oil you’ll end up in a fancy car on the side of the road.

Easily avoid some of the most common website design mistakes by planning for maintenance right off the bat. If you aren’t able to maintain the site yourself, consider a maintenance contract with a company like WPMaintainer or WebFx. Just like changing your oil, site maintenance will save you time, money, and aggravation down the road.

Common website design mistake: Unresponsive site
Solution: Be mobile-friendly

A responsive site is a must these days. The majority of users will browse your site on a mobile device. If it’s difficult for customers to actually consume the information on your website they’re less likely to return.

We Can Help!

Whether you’re addressing current web design issues or you’re starting from scratch, you need a website that is effective and user-friendly. Hungry Media can ensure your website is a trusted tool that works for you. Let’s talk! info@hungrymedia.com.

Crowdfunding Tips
Crowdfunding Tips

If you’ve spent time on social media in the past decade, you’ve seen (or scrolled past) at least one crowdfunding campaign. But, how does it work? Why is it such a big thing? And more importantly, how can you pull off a kick-butt crowdfunding investment campaign yourself?

What is Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is exactly what it sounds like. A crowd helps fund your project. That’s it. Well, okay. That’s not ALL of it, but that’s the general gist.

The premise of crowdfunding is no different than that of traditional investment: capital is provided in exchange for an expected benefit down the road. What sets crowdfunding investment apart is the way in which this is accomplished.

Why is Crowdfunding Investment so Great?

Crowdfunding uses digital media to bring entrepreneurs and investors together, helping businesses gain traction and exposure. Because it’s based in cyberspace, a crowdfunding campaign has the potential to reach an enormous number of investors.  

Traditionally, an entrepreneur seeks out investors and pitches them individually, giving the same spiel dozens, or even hundreds of times. Crowdfunding sites turn the funnel upside down. The same pitch is received by dozens, or even hundreds of potential investors. But it’s all contained in a central location, and the investors are the ones doing the seeking. In short, it’s a streamlined approach for both the entrepreneur and investor. What’s not to love?

Types

Crowdfunding websites can be divided into three categories. The site you choose will depend on your ultimate goal and the type of product or business you are trying to launch.

Donation Crowdfunding

The most familiar form of crowdfunding is probably donation-based. We’ve all seen a GoFundMe page, right? Causes are varied and can range from crowdfunding for non-profits (i.e. disaster relief funds) to crowdfunding for personal purposes (i.e. helping a friend cover unexpected medical bills). Regardless of scale, this type of crowdfunding is born from the goodness of our hearts. There is no expectation of a return.

Equity Crowdfunding

Equity-based and real estate crowdfunding are relatively new. They allow accredited investors to become part-owners of a company or property by trading money for equity. This type of crowdfunding investment is most similar to traditional investing, as there is an expected financial return on the capital contributed.

Rewards Crowdfunding

Rewards-based crowdfunding turns consumers into investors. This is the most common type of crowdfunding for start-ups. Consumers provide a financial contribution towards a start-up or the creation of a new product. In exchange the company provides those consumers with a reward, usually in the form of the new product or service. This is the premise on which most Indiegogo and Kickstarter crowdfunding campaigns are based.

How to Optimize Your Campaign for Success

Whether you’re crowdfunding for business or personal purposes, here are a few tips to help you create the best crowdfunding campaign possible:

1. Leverage your network, both in person and online.

Now’s the time to use your connections, whether they are digital or IRL. Share your campaign with everyone you know, including your current customer base if you have one. Post on your social pages, talk it up to your family, tell your neighbors! The more people who know it, the better.

2. Tell a story.

Everyone loves a compelling story. Let potential investors get to know YOU. Share your background, introduce your team, dive into the history of your business. Investors will be more likely to back you after you’ve built a bit of a connection.

3. Focus on traction over funding.

Funds follow traction. Some of the best crowdfunding sites show the current number of backers for each campaign. This is awesome because investors are more likely to fork over a few bucks if they see that others have done the same. Aim to gain investors (i.e. traction) immediately. This may mean setting a low pledge amount initially. That’s okay. Eventually the number of backers can be used as an additional selling point, thus helping you raise more funds in the end.

4. Communicate often.

Talk to your investors. Tell them how you plan to use the funds you raise. Send updates. Share behind the scenes details. Like we said, people love a good story. So, there will be interest in following along as you work through your process.

5. Create a social media plan.

Of course you’ll share you campaign on social media, but don’t just throw it up on your pages, willy nilly. Social media platforms can vary in terms of demographics, user expectations, successful post types, post length, hashtag use, etc. Take the time to customize your promotion for each platform.

6. Tailor the pitch to your target market.

Gone are the days of generic marketing, so really think about who will benefit the most from your product or service. Now sell to them! Tailor everything – your pitch, your website, your social media posts – to the person who will be using your product.

7. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

Trial and error is definitely part of a crowdfunding investment campaign, but you don’t have to start from scratch. Take advantage of those who came before you. Research successful crowdfunding campaigns, both within and outside of your niche. Take notes on what worked and apply this new knowledge to your campaign.

8. Use video.

We repeat. Use video! Not only does video cater to our short attention spans, but it’s a fantastic way to achieve numbers 1-7 above. A well thought out video is more likely to move a campaign forward than a page full of text and day.

Which Platform is Right for You?

While there are several crowdfunding sites available to entrepreneurs, the most widely known are Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Kickstarter is the largest, with over $4 billion invested in more than 160,000 projects. This platform tends to specialize in creative projects and offers some pretty robust reward-level options.

Indiegogo is geared towards technology and hardware product launches. The big benefit to Indiegogo is its flexibility. The company will release funds on a prorated basis, as opposed to Kickstarter which requires that the fundraising goal is met before any money is released.

Other crowdfunding website options include Fundly, Just Giving, Facebook, and GoFundMe. Check out this comparison tool to learn more about the pros and cons of each one.

Want to Learn More?

Hungry Media is here to help! Whether you’re crowdfunding to jumpstart your new business or you are simply looking to raise capital for your most recent product, we’ve got you covered. We want to hear about your great idea! You can reach us at info@hungrymedia.com. Get in touch, and let’s start making plans!

Web Developer Insurance
Wed Designer

Dumb question, right?  Wrong!  Unfortunately, not every web designer or developer is insured.  “Why would I need insurance?” “What could possibly happen?”  Well, let me tell you, a LOT. 

As a web designer and software developer, there are some pretty simple things that could happen to you that maybe you have not considered.  Take us for example, we are located in LA, MO, and Warsaw.  While all of our software is backed up with cloud solutions, most of our day to day coding occurs locally before it’s uploaded.  Take the Midwest where tornadoes LOVE to threaten us.  As you can imagine, we didn’t buy the cheapest equipment on the market and for us to lose all of the software, the computers, and our serves…okay, let’s not think about that, but it’s possible and something to consider.

Outside of “Acts of God”, there are dozens of reasons for having insurance.  I know they are probably likable people, but let’s say another client of theirs and your developer have a falling out. Scope of work had changed, long hours and not getting paid, blah blah blah, you get the idea.  Now they are ready to burn that client bridge and there is a lawsuit, having insurance could be their only saving grace.  The insurance company will get a team of legal experts together to deal with the client and this could be settled out of court. If a client makes a claim against your developer, their professional indemnity policy will pay the defense costs. This isn’t just for situations that have escalated to court. Insurers want to solve problems before they get to that stage, so they’ll provide a team of legal experts to help negotiate terms with your client.  Now the company doesn’t have to close.  You’re safe!

Copyright Infringements

What about Copyright infringements?  This one is the most common claims that web designers are faced with.  Even if they unknowingly or unintentionally used a photo, verbiage, content or videos that were licensed, they are still going to be in trouble, will need to meet for hours with attorneys and will have to spend time in court. Now, I bet you are wishing they had insurance?  Still not convinced? Keep reading

Script Errors

Let’s say they are writing code for your new website they are building.  It has been tested and has launched and all of a sudden the accounting department finds an error with their script and they have cost you thousands of dollars!  OR they are cyber attacked because there is a data breach and you aren’t protected.  Losses due to hacking and malware issues are also covered with insurance.

Timing Issues

As a web design or graphic designer, they publish high quality designs on a schedule and a budget to make everyone happy.  Sometimes things don’t work out as planned. Maybe you, the client, was slow to get your information, maybe their project manager has been out sick and now you are really far behind.  This could put your hard work and their company at risk.

The Human Factor

We all know the company has a great reputation, but every once in a while, they get an employee that doesn’t love them as much as everyone else.  Next thing you know, they quit their job and with them they take their desktop, software, phone, you know, those precious tools of the trade.

It’s Required!

And the elephant in the room, most companies REQUIRE insurance.  That seems reason enough.  It will cover personal injury, property damage, medical expenses, completed products and personal and advertising injury.  Reassuring your clients that you are covered will likely make them feel more comfortable and could be the final selling point to having them hire you.  So yeah, you should care if your web designer or developer has insurance.

Tell us what you think!

Info@hungrymedia.com

Web Developer Location
Web Developer Location

How many of you check your email in the morning and you see several emails directed to you to help you build a “newer and better” website?  I’m sure all or most of you.  These emails are not bad; in fact there are some really great legitimate companies out there that send out those emails.  But before you randomly hire one of them, make sure you know whom you are hiring.

One of the questions you should be asking is where are they located?  There is a big debate about hiring a local web developer versus a company that is overseas and there are pros and cons to each.  Let’s go through some.

Cost

Often times overseas developers will charge a quarter (or less) than a local developer, who normally charges around $150 an hour.  The thought is “why would I spend more money to get the “same thing”?  If you spend less on the site, you could use the cost difference to add more to the site, right?  Well, in a recent survey, 62% of offshore IT contracts cost much more than the business expected. 

When you hire a local developer, you are paying the amount they charge for good reasons.  You are getting someone on your team, which can make or break your website.  Your local agency will be on the same page as you the entire time and can change directions with you rather than waiting 12 hours to talk to your overseas team.  You are also helping to pay for their healthcare, which we all know can be a ridiculous amount of money.

Contracts

Typically, you won’t have a long-term agreement with an overseas developer, which can be a plus.   If you find yourself needing someone with a specific specialization or skill set and down the road, a short bit later, you may realize that you need someone else to complete a different skill set, you will likely not be committed in a contract.

When working with a local agency, you will likely be asked to sign an agreement with them for the full spec of the work you need done.  All the developers and coders will all be in the same place working on the same projects so you are getting a smooth transition from one phase to another.  For us, we work in phases.

Phase 1: Discovery

We will first meet with you to discuss your concepts, must-haves, expectations, etc. in order to identify specs that effectively outline your ideal product. We will discuss design preferences, existing branding elements, and functionality requirements, while also identifying additional specs for Phase 2 development.

Phase 2: Design

From detailed documentation and architecture we will design a beautiful, functional interface, and present your brand as a trustworthy authority in its space. 

Phase 3: Develop

Immediately after initial planning is in place and approved by your team, the build begins. Regular meetings will be held to measure progress and manage expectations. Status reports will also be sent weekly to ensure written documentation of project status. 

Phase 4: Deploy

Hungry Media will provide rigorous testing, detailed QA, and a formulaic launch process to make sure we are putting your best foot forward. Additionally, we stay on through launch to support the work we create.  While we do have set completion dates with most of our clients, most projects require monthly maintenance and support, and this will be no different.

Time Difference

Don’t forget the time difference!  This one to me is huge. Probably because I love my sleep!  Unless you are willing to wake up in the middle of the night or early morning, don’t expect to speak directly to your overseas developer.  Let’s say I am in the Central Standard time zone and my developer is in India, that is a 12 hour time difference. While I CAN wake up at or talk late at night to make critical decisions, I am not going to be at my best when making those decisions.  One thing you could do is hire a project manager to deal with it on your behalf, but let’s face it…that’s just more money to spend.

While there is no right or wrong answer here (and honestly the best option for you may be a hybrid), to ME, hiring local takes all (or at least most) of the stress out of what will already likely be a demanding time for you.  Plus investing in a company that is local to you can help you invest back in to your community by creating local ownership and jobs and a supporting community groups.

Learn more about our Hungry Media locations stateside and overseas here.

Tell us what you think. info@hungrymedia.com