Become a Web Designer
Become a Web Designer

Despite the fact that it’s been growing for years, the web design space continues to expand today. What does a web designer do? Designers use a combination of creativity and technical knowledge to ensure a website is visually appealing. While web design does require a special set of skills, becoming a web designer is well within the realm of possibility for those who are interested.

Work Environments

There are several possible work environments and career types within the web design world. If you want to become a web designer, consider which of the following will work best for you.

Freelance Web Designers

Freelancers manage their own business in addition to doing the actual design work. This offers an incredible amount of flexibility and freedom but comes at a price – namely the pressure of running one’s own business.

Agency Web Designers

The variety of work done by web designers employed by an agency can be similar to that of a freelancer, however agency designers are responsible for design only. This means no stress of running a business, but no real say in the jobs they take on, either.

In House Web Designer

An in-house designer works for a single company and their website(s). The variety of projects will likely be narrower than freelance and agency designers, which can allow for development of expertise in a particular niche. This can be a great opportunity if you’re interested in learning how to do web designing for a specific type of website (i.e., membership sites) or a particular niche (i.e., property management websites). The more experience you have in a specific area, the more marketable you’ll be to those looking for that type of designer.

How to Become a Web Designer

Formal Degrees Are Not the Standard

While formal web design degrees are available, they come with an innate problem: the industry evolves faster than the educational system. It’s very challenging to surmise, today, what knowledge is required for web designing, tomorrow. Much of what is learned in a formal web designer education could be out-of-date by the time a student completes his or her degree.

For those interested in how to study web designing, we actually recommend online classes (from sources like Udemy, Coursea, and Lynda) which can better teach you what to know about web design in the current market. In our experience, online classes are the best way to learn website design because they make better use of time and money.

Continuing Education

What do web designers do to keep themselves up to date on current trends and industry changes? They never stop learning. When you become a web designer, you’ll need to continuously educate yourself on changes in technology, trends in digital marketing, and any new web designer skills you can learn. Again, so many of the things to learn for web designing can be found within the online courses we mentioned above.

Skills Needed to Become a Web Designer

Web designers play a pivotal role in all aspects of a company’s business. From marketing, to commerce, to customer service, they have a hand in it all.

In all honesty, the question shouldn’t be about how to become a website designer, but how to become a good one. Web designer skills are wide-ranging, so the more you know, the more value you’ll provide to clients or an employer. That said, here are a few important things to learn for a web designing career.

Technical Skills

Skill-wise, what do you need to be a web designer? That’s a tough question to answer because there’s no hard and fast rule. You don’t need to be an expert in all areas to be successful, but there are a few basics of what to know about web design before you jump into the market.

Graphic Software and Design Tools

Just like any industry, web designers use a common set of tools and software to get the job done. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with these tools such as WordPress, Photoshop, stock photography options, etc.

 

Programming language

HTML, CSS, Javascript. Having at least a basic knowledge of web development languages will improve an aspiring designer’s marketability. Designers don’t need to understand the nitty gritty. That’s what developers are for, after all. But a general comprehension of how each major programming language is used, as well as their limitations, can make collaborating with a developer so much easier.

SEO Knowledge

Part of creating a successful website is making it visible to search engines; therefore, a clear understanding of SEO basics is a must for anyone who wants to become a web designer. Even the most beautifully designed site won’t serve its purpose unless it’s target audience can find it.

User Experience Principles

Today’s web design has to focus on user experience (UX). As you become a web designer it will be important to understand the components of UX web design. This includes demographic research, defining user personas, and generally understanding the user in order to develop a site that works best for them.  

Graphic and Visual Design Theory  

To become a web designer, you’ll need a basic comprehension of design theory. Conveying meaning or eliciting a specific feeling can be done by using different fonts, colors and layouts. Understanding and executing upon these concepts is a key part of the web designer’s job.

Conversion Focus

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) involves designing websites in a way that motivates users to complete a desired action – such as filling out a form, making a purchase, or sharing on social media. A site that is optimized for conversions will be much more effective, and a designer who understands CRO concepts will be much more likely to land a job than one who does not.

Soft Skills

It may surprise you to know that some of the skills needed to become a web designer aren’t computer skills at all. Soft skills are important for any person in charge of web design, and they are especially important for freelance designers.

Communication

Communication is key for a web designer. You’ll be working with concepts and within frameworks that most are unfamiliar with. To be effective, you’ll have to communicate what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and what you need from those around you.

Time Management/Project Management

Staying on top of the moving pieces within a single web design project, let alone more than one project, is truly a skill. Those who want to become a web designer will definitely need to master time management and project management skills in order to be successful.

Customer Service

As a web designer you provide a service. The key to great customer service is empathy. Work to keep in mind where your customer is coming from and what they are trying to accomplish. A combination of empathy and communication skills will put you well on your way to providing top-notch customer service, always.  

What if you DON’T Want to Become a Web Designer?  

In that case, don’t you worry! You don’t need to know how to be a web designer in order to run a successful website.

Hungry Media brings powerful and affordable digital design solutions to any project. Our team of web designers takes pride in creating incredible products that meet the needs of every individual client. Whether it’s a website, mobile app, digital refresh, or anything in between – if you can dream it, our team can build it. Contact us today to get started. We can’t wait to meet you!

UX vs. UI Design
UX vs. UI Design

UX vs. UI Design. They are two terms which are often used concurrently, and most definitely rely upon each other. While the difference between UI and UX design is subtle, they are two distinct concepts and practices.

Regardless of which type of website or mobile app you are developing, you’ll want a broad understanding of each of these disciplines, how they are different, and the ways in which they are dependent upon each other.

What is UX Design?

User experience (UX) describes any and all interactions between a user and a product or service. For our purposes, we are assuming those interactions take place via a website or mobile app; however, anything one can experience is UX, meaning the term “UX” can apply to any product or service. This could be a new car, a visit to the pet groomer, or (of course) a website or mobile app. UX involves how it feels to drive that car, what it’s like inside the groomer’s storefront, or how easy it is to complete an online purchase using the website.

User experience design is a human-first method of creation. In terms of web development, UX design starts by clearly understanding the needs of the user on the other end of the interface. UX designers focus on the overall user journey – the path that users follow as they interact with your interface – and how each step along that path impacts them.

We are assuming a user has a goal in mind when they pull up your website or open your app. So, what does the process of achieving that goal feel like to them? Is the website or app clunky and difficult to navigate, leading to frustration? Does it leave them feeling accomplished? Are they excited to come back for more? UX design principles take this, and so much more, into consideration.

What is UI Design?

A user interface (UI) is the graphical layout of the website or app. UI, by definition, includes elements like buttons, text, images, forms, and any other visual components of a website or app. UI design uses these elements to create a pleasant experience while visually guiding the user through the interface.

User interface designers select and create each individual element on your website or app with the goal of providing a perfect user experience. In today’s world where users tend to connect with many of these interfaces while on the go, designing a responsive website is a significant component of UI design. In the end, if UI design is well-executed, users won’t even think about the design of your website or app.

UX vs. UI Design: How do They Compare?

There are several ways to describe UI and UX differences, as well as the connections between these two design disciplines:

  • UX design focuses on the overall user journey from start to finish. UI design focuses on the individual moments that make up the journey.
  • UX design looks at what needs to happen to improve conversion rates. UI design makes it happen.
  • UX determines how the interface should work. UI design creates the interface in that image.
  • UX designers create the basic outline of a website or app. UI designers flesh it out with visual and interactive elements.
  • One last example: Web Developer Dain Miller describes the relationship between UX and UI design perfectly. “UI is the saddle, the stirrups, and the reins. UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse.”

UX Design vs. UI Design in Practice

Okay, so what does this look like in practical terms?

UX design involves lots of research into what users want and what would make their experience better. For example, what would improve users’ emotional responses when interacting with your website or app? Or, what makes them continue to use your website or app day after day?

UI design takes the answers to those questions into consideration while designing each individual element of the interface: buttons, forms, graphics, menus, and so on.

UX Versus UI Design Examples

A UX designer might determine that users would have a better experience if the “purchase now” button were easier to see. A UI designer would then figure out the best way(s) – using placement, contrast, size, color – to make the button stand out.

A UX designer might come to the realization that bounce rates increase when the website is viewed on a mobile device, and thus make the recommendation to go with a mobile first strategy. The UI designer will implement the strategy using all the right design elements.

UI and UX Design Steps

As you can see, while UX and UI design involve two different skillsets, each relies upon the other. Both UX and UI design need to be well executed and aligned with the company mission and user expectations.

You can have a beautiful website, but if it doesn’t work, nobody’s coming back after their first visit. Conversely, you can have the most efficient and functional site, but if it’s unpleasing to the eye or uncomfortable to use, users are much less likely to return.

UX and UI design simply won’t be effective without a little bit of “pre-work,” on the part of your designer. Most of this work will be in the form of research and testing. Trust us, putting effort in on the front end of your UX and UI design strategy will save you lots of time and money down the road.

Define Your Users

The better you get to know your target audience, the more effective your UX and UI efforts will be. Define everything from your users’ gender to what they love to eat for breakfast. No detail is too small when it comes to learning about the end user.

Determine How Users Will Interact with Your Interface

Before you determine how to implement a UX vs. UI design strategy for your app or website, you’ll want a good grasp on the ways in which your product will be used. Will your users be accessing your interface via desktop computer, tablet, smart phone? Will they be using your product at work, at home, while driving, while shopping?

It’s nearly impossible to design for experience if you do not have a clear understanding of the ways in which your interface will be used.

Test Your Ideas

Testing is huge for UI and UX design. A/B testing allows you to serve up one version of your website to group A and another version to group B. You’ll then be able to determine whether the changes you made were effective at achieving their intended goal.

Alternately, you can also test to determine the best way to solve a problem. If you’re on the fence about which potential solution is right for your audience, you can utilize A/B testing to see which option works best.

Analyze the Results

While it’s natural to have your own opinions and ideas about your web or mobile app design, they don’t matter one bit. It’s the user’s ideas and opinions that drive decisions.

That said, after testing has been completed, it’s time to review the data. Compare the key analytics of group A to those of group B. Tools such as Google Analytics will quickly reveal whether your UX or UI design strategy was successful.

UX and UI Design with Hungry Media

Hungry Media has years of experience in a wide range of digital industries, so you can confidently leave the UX vs.UI design details to us, freeing you up to focus on the big picture.  From Web design to mobile app development – we can help with it all. Contact us today to get started!

UI Design
UI Design

Most of us are so used to interacting with electronic devices in the form of smart phones, tablets, and computers, that we might find it difficult to carry out our everyday tasks without them. This is a testament to effective web page user interface design, executed with the end user in mind.

What is a User Interface?

It is not terribly difficult to define “user interface (UI).” Simply put (for our purposes, at least) it is the means by which a user interacts with a software system. Think about your computer desktop, which is an example of a user interface. Meaning all of the icons, colors, buttons, feedback schemes, and anything else you interact with on your screen are a part of the interface. Similarly, what you see when you use a website or mobile app is a user interface, as well.

In short, a user interface is the point of human and computer contact. And behind every UI interface there is the designer who thoughtfully created it.

What is Website UI Design?

So, what is user interface design and what does it mean for you? Website UI design uses visual elements to communicate meaning to the user.

UI design of websites or mobile apps focuses on selecting the best elements for each action a user may take and designing them in a way that conveys meaning. Ideally this meaning is expressed so well, and the site functions so flawlessly, that users don’t notice the design itself.

Make the Most of User Interface Design Principles

Effective website UI design starts with research. Using surveys, studies, and psychology, you can learn all about your users, their habits, and how they interact with your technology.

Demographics

Who are your users, exactly? The better you get to know your target audience, the more effectively you can use web UI design to create an interface that works for them. Considerations can be as broad as their gender and as specific as the shoes they love to wear. No detail is too small when it comes to learning about the end user.

Define How Users Will Interact with Your Interface

Before you determine the best way to integrate UI design elements into your app or website, you need a clear understanding of the ways in which it will be used. Which type of device will your app be used on most? Where will users be when they’re interacting with it?

By taking some time up front to really define when, where, and how the audience will use your app or website, UI design will be much easier down the road.

Analyze Data

It would be amazing if user interface design were evaluated on aesthetics of our sites alone. Alas, the user is King, and they determine whether you’ve achieved the goals set by your website UI design plan.

Review analytics after you launch to see how you did. Take a look at bounce rates, cart abandonment rates, traffic sources, session times, and so on. This will help you learn where and how to tweak you interface for maximum effect.

Features of User Interface Design

After you’re sure you know your users, you can begin to design your interface. Let’s take a look at some practical tips for creating your mobile app or website using UI design techniques.

Set Expectations

If you let users know what will happen before they take an action, they will find your interface to be much more user friendly. Nobody wants to be taken by surprise when they click a button or make a selection.

Anticipate Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes, and no matter what type of website you manage or how perfectly you’ve designed your UI, your users will, too. One of the most common responses upon making a mistake is frustration. One of the most important jobs of website UI design is to minimize frustration by anticipating your users’ mistakes.

Making an unintended selection, leaving a page earlier than expected, hitting delete instead of submit. To boost user experience, design an interface that makes it easy to avoid or undo these mistakes.

While there is certainly no “right” way tackle this, here are few user interface elements that can help:

  • Buttons that don’t become active until all required form fields are completed
  • Detection of an incorrect email address format
  • Confirmation dialog boxes for destructive actions
  • Error messages that clearly explain a mistake
  • A button to recover deleted files

Provide Timely Feedback

Think about the ways in which we receive feedback all day long. You wave to the mailman and he waves back. Your dog wags his tail when you scratch behind his ears. The washing machine turns on when you hit the start button. All of these responses let us know that the mailman, or the dog, or the washer, have received your input.

Likewise, your user interface should provide feedback as users’ input is being processed. How do users know that they hit the correct button, or even hit a button at all? How will they know whether a blank screen is present because the page is loading or the device is frozen?

Here are some elements that can providing clarity to your users in the form of feedback:

  • Buttons that “depress” when clicked
  • Links that change color once selected
  • A progress bar for uploads or downloads
  • Graphics indicating a page is loading

Leverage Layouts

Not only does your layout provide a visual aesthetic, but it also provides practical guidance as users navigate the website. Focusing your website UI design on hierarchy and readability as you consider layout will improve user experience and conversion rates throughout. A few ways to achieve this:

  • Use consistent alignment. As a rule of thumb, edge alignment is preferred over center.
  • Draw attention to important features using color, brightness, and contrast.
  • Place control elements in close proximity to the objects they control.

Layout can also help define relationships between elements. For example, elements with little space between them indicates a relationship. Elements spaced further apart indicates the opposite.

Keep It Simple

The more options you present a user, the more difficult it is for them to make a decision. This covers everything in your UI design from navigation menus to pricing information. Don’t worry. You can still include everything you want within the website. Just focus on one main function per page, and leverage other UI design elements to help users navigate between pages as necessary.

Keep it Consistent

Once we’ve familiarized ourselves with the way a website functions, our brain doesn’t have to work as hard to use it. This principle doesn’t just apply to individual websites, it applies to all websites and apps as a whole.

When you make users think again about a process they have already learned, even if it’s as simple as returning to your homepage, you’re requiring them to think harder than necessary. Website UI design is not the place to reinvent the wheel. For the sake of your users, it’s best to stay consistent with industry trends.

Website UI Design with Hungry Media

The good news about UI design for websites is that today’s technology allows us to make changes, test the outcomes, and evaluate results before starting the cycle over. But this kind of trial and error can be both time consuming and costly. Hungry Media can help cut down on the time and expense of designing a user interface via trial and error. Whether you want to improve your UX via UI design, you’re updating your website entirely, or need to build a new site from scratch, we are here to help. Contact us today to see how we can make your website vision a reality.

UX Design
UX Design

It’s estimated that Americans spend nearly seven hours per day online. That time may include shopping, conducting research, consuming news content, scrolling and posting on social media, or streaming videos. With the variety of options available for each of these purposes, what makes us choose one website or app over another?

Whether we know it or not, the answer lies in our experience with each site. The term UX (user experience) was coined by Dr. Don Norman in the 1990’s as a way of describing all aspects of the end user’s interaction with a platform.

UX Definition

User experience, by definition, is a consequence of many factors including brand image, presentation, functionality, system performance, interactive behavior and assistive capabilities. Think of it as users’ perceptions and responses that result from interaction with a system, product, or service.

What is UX Design?

User experience design is the discipline that concerns itself with creating a positive experience for the end user of a system. But really, what does UX mean for you? Basically, UX describes the way a user feels during and after an interaction with your system. UX design aims to improve that experience.

UX web design focuses on developing a deep understanding of what users need and value, their abilities and limitations, their ultimate goals, and their behaviors. UX designers then use this information to create an intuitive digital interface that works exactly how users expect.

Note: For the purposes of this article, the systems we are discussing are websites and mobile web apps.

Why is UX Important?

Before user experience web design became a “thing,” websites were built based on what designers thought was cool and what their clients wanted to see. None of this took the end user into consideration, but that didn’t matter thirty years ago when the internet wasn’t such an integral part of our day to day lives.

Since then, as user experience design has emerged as a sort-of science, it’s been proven over and over that the most successful websites and mobile apps are pleasant to use.

Benefits of UX Design for Websites and Apps

There are several benefits to using UX methods while developing your mobile web app or website. In the end they all lead to a more successful interface which lends itself to a more successful business.

Customer Loyalty

Of course, the goal of any business is to retain loyal customers who refer others. Now, there’s no guarantee that a providing a positive experience will lead to customer loyalty, but utilizing UX principles can ensure you don’t lose users because of a negative experience.

Conversion Rates

Users are more likely to convert if their experience is pleasant. And we all know that conversions are key to a website’s (or app’s) success. In fact, some of the same principals employed for purposes of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) are also used to improve user experience.

Customer Satisfaction

Users come to you to solve some sort of problem. Regardless of the reason for their visit, they are likely to be satisfied if their problem is solved and the experience is positive.

UX Design – Website and Mobile App Considerations

UX methodology focuses on several elements of user experience which have been proven to impact the perceptions and feelings of those who interact with a specific platform. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list of factors that impact mobile app or website UX, below you’ll find some UX best practices which, when implemented, lead to a significant improvement in user experience.

Research

To create a site your users love, you need to know all about them first. UX research focuses on understanding user behaviors, needs, and motivations via observation and analysis. The better you know your customer, the more you can tailor your platform to their needs.

Usability

How does your product function compared to the way users think it should? Does the link they click direct them to the page they expect? Does swiping up create the result they were hoping for? It can lead to a frustrating experience if features don’t function the way a user anticipates they will.  

Information Architecture

The structure, organization, and presentation of information within your website or app can have a huge impact on UX, meaning these factors must be considered when developing your UX design strategy. Can your users easily find what they are looking for? Is it clear what information is contained in each section of your website? Optimizing information architecture makes using your website much easier, thus improving user experience.

Visual Design

As silly as it may sound, visual design plays a big role in engagement. Visual design focuses on creating an aesthetically pleasing interface and considers how the look of your website or app makes users feel. Effective UX design in websites creates a hierarchy that leads users to take the actions you want them to.

Content Strategy

Aim to deliver valuable content that works to help you achieve your business goals. A content strategy can employ web copy, blogs, emails, ads, and other elements to connect with users and keep them coming back for more.

Analytics

No UX strategy is complete without a plan to analyze its effectiveness. Conversion rates, session time, and bounce rates are particularly useful in determining the success of your UX design. Website analytics tools such as Google Analytics can (and should) be used for this purpose.

UX Design Principles

The UX process puts user experience ahead of presenting information. In fact, when determining whether they will return to your site or app, it’s suspected that a memorable experience carries more weight with users than the actual information provided. Below are a few truths about user behavior that should be considered when developing your UX web design strategy.  

Users Scan Instead of Read

Most people scan content for something that looks interesting before they actually begin reading, which is important to know for purposes of UX design. Meaning, to capture user interest, your interface must be scannable and the information easy to digest.

Clarity and Simplicity Rule

Users will evaluate whether they like your platform in less than a second. They’ll glance at your site and almost immediately determine whether it’s worth their time. You’ve got to appeal to them very quickly, and it’s been proven that clarity and simplicity are two key factors here. Clean fonts, a simple color palate, consistent alignment, crisp photos. They all make your interface much more appealing to users.

Common Elements are Key

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Going against the grain is one of the most common web design mistakes we see. If your website functions differently than expected, your users will be frustrated. And no number of cool features or creative design elements will be able to change that.

Audience Above All

Not only do you need to know who your audience is, but you need to understand their expectations. By using styles and designs your audience is comfortable with, by anticipating their needs and presenting solutions in advance, by providing valuable content – you will create a pleasant user experience, and they’ll want to come back.

Visual Hierarchies Help

The priorities of each website or app will vary, as will what matters most to each group of users. Regardless of which elements are most important on your interface, highlight them. This will draw users’ attention right to where you want it. There are plenty of ways to employ visual hierarchies, but the most common is to differentiate importance based on size or color of the element.

Love Your UX Experience with Hungry Media

Hungry Media has years of digital experience in a wide range of industries. From web design to content creation – we can help with it all. Don’t get bogged down with the nitty gritty. Let us worry about your UX design and website while you focus on the big picture. We can’t wait to hear about your business and ideas. Contact us today to get started!

Common Types of Websites
Common Types of Websites

Gone are the days when small businesses could get by without an online presence. Given the extent to which we live our lives online, today’s consumers expect every company, no matter it’s size, to have some sort of website. It’s important to put some thought into the type of website you want to build before pulling the trigger on actually building it.

All Websites are Not Created Equal

Wait, what do we mean “types” of websites? Aren’t all websites essentially the same?

Not at all.

Which means that choosing the correct type of website is a key to ensuring its success. Different types of websites come with different user expectations, and nothing tanks faster than a site which fails to meet them. Whether it’s the look of the site, the way it functions, or how it’s navigated, we expect one thing if we’re searching for an acquaintance on social media and another when making a purchase from our favorite online retailer.

What is the Purpose of a Website?

The purpose of a website will ultimately determine which type you should build. So, before you hire a website design company to create your new site or mobile web app, take some time to consider why you are building it in the first place. This will help your developer by giving him or her some initial direction, and it will help you by giving you a framework within which to work.

6 Common Types of Websites

How many different types of websites are there? More than we can list here, that’s for sure. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some pretty common uses of websites in general. Chances are your site will wind up being one of the six main types of websites we’ve listed below. Read on to learn about each and how they function.

1. Business and Non-Profit Websites

Perhaps the most common type of website is one that communicates information about a business or a non-profit. At the very least these sites provide information about the organization represented as well as products and services offered. Business and non-profit sites also function as marketing tools since potential customers or donors will almost always do a little bit of research before choosing to fork over their hard-earned money. It’s safe to say that every organization should have at least a basic website in today’s world.

2. E-Commerce Websites

An e-commerce site is a website that allows users to make purchases over the internet. Think of it as an online shopping destination where customers can browse product and service offerings before making a purchase. A well-executed e-commerce site makes it easy for shoppers to learn about products, compare options, make a choice, and then check out – just like they would at a brick-and-mortar location.

E-commerce sites can be businesses in and of themselves. Or, they can complement retail locations by offering a larger variety of products than a physical storefront. WooCommerce and Shopify are two well-known platforms for today’s e-commerce sites, and they are both geared towards the needs of online retailers.

3. Blogs

Originally called WebLogs, blogs essentially started out as online diaries written by individuals or small groups to document daily happenings and experiences. Blogs quickly gained popularity as a tool for expressing opinions and conducting outreach.

Today, blogs are used in many different capacities. They can be used as personal diaries, to share one’s expertise, showcase hobbies, build a community, improve SEO rankings, and so much more. Regardless of their purpose, blogs feature regularly updated content and are the types of web pages users find engaging, entertaining, helpful, or (ideally) all of the above.

4. Educational Websites

When we think educational websites, we might initially picture the website of a school system or university; however, these types of websites tend to function more like a business site with the goal of communicating information about the system or institution. An educational website is one that actually provides educational content to its users. This can be in the form of video or written content, and usually includes a combination of both.

5. Entertainment Websites

Like an e-commerce site, an entertainment website can be an extension of an established entertainment company or the site can be all the company offers. For instance, NBC’s website mainly consists of content which is already shared across its television stations. Netflix, on the other hand, is an end in itself.

Other than these, what are the different types of websites used for entertainment? They include online magazines, news sources, and video platforms to name a few. Regardless of the type of site, one thing remains consistent among entertainment pages – the content is dynamic (i.e. consistently refreshed) and relevant to its users.

6. Social Networking Websites

It’s safe to say that most of us are familiar with social networking websites. While we might think of the world in terms of “staple” sites such as Facebook and Twitter, there are new social sites launched all the time. The goal of a social networking site is to connect individuals based on their commonalities – whether that be friends, interests, hobbies, career type, political views or anything else one can imagine.

Combining Different Types of Websites

In reality, most websites are some combination of two or more of the types of websites listed above. A business site might include some e-commerce options for customers to make purchases (or a non-profit site could include the same for donations). E-commerce sites may include a blog page to boost SEO while building a reputation for being an accessible expert. A blog might function as an entertainment site.

The possibilities and combinations are endless. But before you start to develop your website, it’s important to home in on its main focus. Is your goal to sell product, foster a community, market your business? Design your site around your main goal and build in ancillary functions from there.

Determine Which Type of Website is Right for You

Want to take your business to the next level but feel unsure about which type of website you need? Not only will Hungry Media’s unique approach and years of experience help you make that determination, but our professional developers and designers can make your website vision a reality. Contact us today for more information!

What are the different types of websites?

1. Business and Non-Profit Websites
2. E-Commerce Websites
3. Blogs
4. Educational Websites
5. Entertainment Websites
6. Social Networking Websites

How to Choose a Domain Name

Your domain name is your online identity. Sure, you could use the WordPress or Squarespace domain that comes with your free website. But your domain name is the first impression visitors have of you and your business. In this sense, it’s not just an extension of your brand, but also provides helpful information to anyone searching you out. Oh, and speaking of searches, your domain name has the ability to positively impact SEO. So, if you’re concerned about how to choose a domain name for your website, you’re not alone. After all, it is a pretty important decision.

Tips for Choosing a Domain Name

Coming up with a kick-butt domain isn’t an exact science, but there are certainly a few best practices for choosing a domain name that will make a big difference. The best way to choose a domain name is to go slowly and consider the following before settling on your new web address.

Pronunciation

You can have the most thoughtfully designed site that’s perfectly optimized for conversions and search engines alike. It might even contain the world’s most engaging content. But the likelihood of a new user visiting your site drops dramatically if the site is difficult for them to find.

Confirm that your domain name is easy to pronounce by sharing it, in writing, with at least ten different people. Ensure each of them can pronounce it out loud, correctly, on the first try. If there are any sticking points, go back to the drawing board.

Spelling

In general, creativity is viewed as a huge plus, especially when learning how to pick a catchy domain name. But choosing a domain name for your business might not be the time for thinking outside the box. You want people to recall your domain name quickly and type it accurately. Here are a few faux pas that can stand in the way:

Funny Spellings – Sorry, but a domain name isn’t the place for cre8tive spellings. Using an uncommon (or made-up) spelling makes it incredibly difficult for users to find your website.

Homophones – Words with a single pronunciation but more than one spelling should be avoided in domain names. How will a user know whether you mean “new” or “knew” when they hear your domain name spoken aloud?

Numbers and Hyphens – In the same vein, avoid hyphens and numbers in your domain name, as they are confusing when it comes time to type it into a web browser.

Commonly Misspelled Words – Words that are difficult to spell can cause just as much trouble as made-up spellings or homophones. For the sake of ease, avoid using the most commonly misspelled words in your domain name.

To ensure it’s easy to spell, do another experiment. Say your domain name out loud to at least ten different people and ask them to jot down what you said. Did they spell it right? If not, you still have work to do.

Keywords

Want to know how to choose a good domain name for your business? Keyword research! Including words in your domain that relate to your business makes it easier for users to understand what your website is about. It also makes it easier for customers to find you.

Consider using keywords that describe the services you offer or products you sell. Bonus: this can also boost SEO. If you choose to use keywords, they’ll be most beneficial at the beginning of your domain name as opposed to the middle or end.

The Future

Before you settle on a domain name, think about your long-term goals. Do you dream of turning your small dog-walking business into a well-known doggy daycare and boarding facility? Then a domain name focused on dog walking might not be the way to go. Sure, the keyword is relevant now, but it could hurt you way more down the road than it will benefit you today.

Extension

Of course .com is by far the most well-known domain extension. However, since it’s been around for so long, the availability of affordable .com domain names shrinks every day.

In good news, there are several new domain extensions available. Think: .shop, .club, .photos, and .pet. If you decide to go this route, don’t just choose the first extension that pops up. Consider how to choose a domain name extension that will add clarity and context to your website. Dig into your options. You may find that there is an extension that works perfectly for your niche.

Research

Okay, now that you know how to choose great a domain name, it’s time for some due diligence. There are several factors unrelated to the name itself that will impact the viability of any given domain.

Trademarks and Copyrights –Be sure no part of your domain name is trademarked, copyrighted, or in use by another company.

For instance: even if the domain OldNavy.net is available, you probably shouldn’t use it to blog about your grandfather’s experience as a Naval Officer during the Korean War. Not only could this confuse those shopping for cargo pants and puffer vests, but you don’t want the headache of a legal battle arising from copyright or trademark infringement.

Cost– This is an important factor when picking a domain and choosing a domain name extension.  Your ideal domain name could cost a pretty penny. If you’re on a budget, brainstorm additional variations of your domain name and compare costs before making your final decision.

Social Media – Social is where it’s at when it comes to today’s digital marketing. It’s a good idea to make sure your domain name – or something very close to it – can be used as a social media handle.

Online Tools

If you need help choosing a domain name, there are several online tools to get you started. While they won’t do all of the work for you, they’ll make choosing a business domain name a little bit easier.

Keyword tools such as Google Keyword Planner can help you come up with a list of keywords related to your business.

Online “brainstorming” tools use keywords you provide to generate relevant domain name ideas. Tools like Lean Domain Search help you learn how to pick a domain name that sets you apart from the rest.

A Hosting Service will be your last stop after choosing a business domain name. Enter your desired domain with a service like GoDaddy or Bluehost to start the process of actually purchasing your domain.

How to Choose A Domain Name with Confidence

One thing’s for sure, a great website starts with a great domain. If you’re overwhelmed by what must be considered when choosing a domain name, you’ll benefit from our years of experience as we help you find one that accurately expresses what your brand is all about. At Hungry Media we specialize in developing websites that help businesses grow. From eye-catching design, to captivating copy, to a top-notch user experience – we can create it from domain down, or simply update your current site. Contact us today. We can’t wait to meet you!

Shopify vs Woocommerce
WooCommerce vs Shopify

WooCommerce vs. Shopify

They are two of the most popular and easy-to-use eCommerce platforms available. Both allow you to build an online storefront without hiring a professional designer or developer.

What is Shopify? Shopify is a user-friendly, all-in-one eCommerce platform that allows you to set up shop without having to manage the technical aspects of website design and development.

What is WooCommerce? Easy to use and fully customizable, WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin built for WordPress. 

Here’s the thing about trying to compare WooCommerce and Shopify: while they are intended to accomplish the same goal, they function very differently. In fact, this comparison is reminiscent of our Squarespace vs. WordPress debate.

Honestly, the comparison isn’t “Is WooCommerce better than Shopify (or vice versa)?” But rather, “Which is better for you?” 

That said, let’s get to it!

Build Time

While both platforms are relatively simple to use, there is a significant difference in the amount of time and effort required to actually create your online store. 

Shopify’s build is geared towards the everyday user. One of the greatest benefits of Shopify is that even their most basic plan includes everything you need to get your eCommerce site up across multiple channels. The setup wizard makes Shopify an easily accessible option for beginners, and the drag and drop interface makes design simple and intuitive.

WooCommerce requires a bit more effort up front. Before you set up your online store, you’ll need to select and pay for a domain name, sign up for hosting, install WordPress and download the WooCommerce plugin. Honestly, these steps can be executed in a matter of minutes, but they do add an additional layer of semi-technical work to get through. Once you install the plugin you’ll find an online setup wizard that walks you through the customization process. 

If you’re building your site from scratch, Shopify is going to have a faster setup. However, if you’re already using a WordPress site, all you’ll have to do is install the plugin and get to customizing your storefront.

Design and Themes

Both WooCommerce and Shopify offer sleek professional themes that meet the needs of your mobile-first strategy

Shopify has a theme store that comes with over 180 different themes. Some are premium but many are free, and most come with options to customize. In addition to Shopify’s store, sites like Themeforest provide additional paid theme options. 

When it comes to customization of a WooCommerce site, the sky’s the limit. There is a seemingly endless number of themes to choose from when beginning your design journey. The best place to start is Woo’s own online theme store called Storefront

Plugins and Integrations

No matter how robust the platform or plugin, you’ll always need third-party tools and services to grow your eCommerce business. For example, digital gift cards optionsanalytics integrations, and shipping tools can all be purchased from a variety of online extension stores.

Shopify has an app store for this purpose. They have hundreds of options covering several features. WooCommerce has their own marketplace as well, but since they are an open-source platform the options don’t stop there. There’s almost no comparison in terms of extras when it comes to Shopify vs. WooCommerce. WordPress extensions are available for anything and everything you could possibly want, and most of them are WooCommerce compatible.  

In short, your additional options are significantly greater with WooCommerce than Shopify.

Payment Options

You’ve got to collect money in order to turn a profit, right? So, it’s pretty darn important that you accept payments online and that your customers have a variety of payment options to choose from. 

WooCommerce and Shopify both work with over 100 payment gateway options. These are either built in or added through integrations. Some examples are Stripe, PayPal, Apple Pay, and Square. Each gateway will charge a transaction fee. Keep an eye on these as you make your choice.

Shopify has its own payment solution called Shopify Payments (Powered by Stripe) plus third party options. Shopify charges a basic transaction fee, and if you use a third-party gateway, there is an additional fee on top of that. 

WooCommerce offers PayPal and Stripe payments automatically, and it supports many other popular payment services. But Woo doesn’t charge you an additional transaction fee for using a third-party payment gateway. 

Security

Online stores must be security-conscious. Taking care of your customers (and their personal information) serves to build trust. We can’t underscore the importance of branding, and trust goes a long, long way to create a positive brand image. Plus, let’s be honest, protecting your customers’ personal information is just the right thing to do. 

At the bare minimum you’ll need a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate, which safeguards your website so that internet bad guys can’t access your customer’s personal information. In order to process online payments, you’ll be required to maintain compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS).

Because Shopify is fully hosted, security is the platform’s responsibility. Your store will come with a free SSL certificate and is PCI-DSS compliant from day one. They also take care of making sure the site meets industry standards and that any potential security threats are addressed immediately.

The main bummer with Shopify, security-wise, is that backing up your storefront, which you should definitely do, requires a plugin. One of the benefits of WooCommerce is that it’s sites can be easily backed up to any hard drive.

Now, WooCommerce doesn’t technically have any security measures built in, but this doesn’t mean your store can’t be secured. You’ll have to source your SSL certificate first, and then tackle PCI compliance by following a few easy steps.

Customer Support

While both platforms are fairly easy to use, it’s always good to know there’s someone available to back you up if you need. 

Shopify provides 24/7 support – via live chat, phone, email, and Twitter – as they well should, since your online shop is completely dependent upon their platform. This is incredibly convenient when you have questions or need a helping hand. 

WooCommerce, on the other hand, handles support a little bit differently. Because it’s self-hosted, your primary support system will be your hosting provider. The official WooCommerce website also has a ton of documents and tutorials on demand, as well as the ability to submit general support tickets. 

An upside to WooCommerce is that it’s very popular, which means that both DIY and professional problem-solving options are easy to find and inexpensive to source.

Pricing

Obviously, cost is an important consideration anytime you make an investment in your business. Because they function differently, it’s not surprising that WooCommerce and Shopify use different approaches to pricing.

Shopify’s plans include many of the basics you need to get your store off the ground – a domain name, SSL certificate, and web hosting. A basic plan starts at $29/month with two upgrade options available, priced at $79 or $299/month. 

This price does not include third party tools or add-ons that you may need in order to upgrade functionality or help keep up with your growing business.

The WooCommerce plugin is technically free, but there are still costs associated with building and maintaining a WooCommerce site. Your domain name can cost as little as $10 per year and an SSL certificate goes for about $70 annually. Web hosting starts at about $8 per month.

Don’t overlook one important feature when comparing Shopify vs. WooCommerce – transaction fees. Both Shopify and WooCommerce charge a payment processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. But, if you opt to use third party payment gateways, Shopify charges an additional 2% per transaction. WooCommerce sites are subject to standard processing fees, only. 

In short, it’s much cheaper to start with WooCommerce than Shopify. However, there are more places to spend when you’re using WooCommerce. Paid add-ons such as premium themes, plugins for SEO or security, and social integrations will definitely make your shop stand out, but they’ll also impact your bottom line. 

WooCommerce vs. Shopify: What Now?

Both Shopify and WooCommerce have a place in the online shopping world. Which one is right for you depends on your ultimate goal.  

Our suggestion is to start by writing a mission statement. How do you see your online store growing in the next five years? What are your short-term goals, and what are the next steps once you achieve them? If you know where you’re headed, it’s much easier to figure out how to get there. 

Set-up Shop with Hungry Media

We know, even after reading all about WooCommerce vs. Shopify, the decision can still be overwhelming. Sometimes, simply determining a starting point is all you need, and sometimes you’ll want support throughout the entire process. Regardless of where you stand, Hungry Media can help. Our unique approach to design and development ensures your needs are met and your eCommerce site is set for success. 

Reach out today to get started. We can’t wait to help you make your big idea a reality!

Website Update
Website Update

Understand the Importance of Updating Your Website

Website updates might not seem like a big deal on the surface. After all, your website looks nice and it works just fine. Why fix what isn’t broken, right?

Wrong. Well-executed website updates will ensure you’re ahead of the game as inevitable changes in technology, trends, and user expectations occur. Here are a few reasons to update your website, pronto.

8 Reasons to Update Your Website

You’re So Yesterday

Retro isn’t a good thing when it comes to your website. What was “on trend” two years ago is probably out of date today. Whether in terms of navigation, aesthetic, logo, or menu options you’ll want to keep current. Almost all consumers research their purchases online prior to buying, so be sure you are staying as relevant as possible. You may not get the chance to win them back if they leave.

You’re Unrecognizable

Your brand will evolve over time. Showcase that evolution! Even minimal changes to your brand aesthetic or business strategy warrant a website update. This will help maintain a cohesive look and feel, which is super-important for brand awareness and recognition.

You’re Behind the Times

Tech evolves faster than you can say “refresh website!” Regular website updates will help you keep up with new apps, plugins, and integrations. Additionally, updates will maintain your site’s compatibility with the most popular web browsers and mobile technology. It won’t matter what an amazing product you’re selling or how beautiful your website is if it doesn’t function properly. Honestly, the benefits of updating website tech can’t be understated.

You’re Unresponsive

There’s no way around it. If you don’t have a mobile friendly website, you’ve got to get one, stat. And honestly, even if your site was designed with a mobile-first strategy, you still want to make sure it’s up to date in terms of hardware (i.e. the newest mobile devices) and current customer expectations.

You’re Slow

This could be due to the file size of your images, running an old theme, or just coding used on the backend. Regardless of the reason, users will bounce if load time is slow. This should be all the reason you need to make updates for the sake of speed!

You’re Insecure

It’s not like a new website can’t be hacked. But sites that rely on older technology are easier to hack; therefore, the chances of a security breach increase as tech ages. Plus, as a website owner, you want to keep your users’ information safe. Make sure to update your Content Management System (CMS) regularly and confirm your security is compliant with the latest standards.

You’re Not Optimized

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical to digital marketing strategies everywhere. SEO includes (but isn’t limited to) maintaining relevant original content, managing and targeting the right keywords, using alt tags and meta descriptions, and including backlinks. The thing is, search engine algorithms change regularly. If you want to rank higher than your competitors, you’ll need to keep up with SEO trends and changes.

You Don’t Share Well

While your website is likely the home base for most of your business, we all know that social media plays a huge role in customers’ lives. Make sure that your content is easily sharable. Including social media “share” buttons will make it simple for your customers or consumers to help spread the word about your business.

How Often Should You Update Your Website Content?

How often should a website be updated? It’s a great question with a terribly non-specific answer (sorry!).

If you implement a plan for continuously updating your SEO, CMS, and hosting solutions, your site is much less likely to require a full refresh. Website aesthetics, however, will probably need to be revised every three to five years to keep up with current trends.

In terms of the little changes – revising and adding content, small branding updates, adding or changing alt tags, etc. – we suggest as often as possible. Monthly is the bare minimum. If you can pull it off, weekly is ideal.

Basically, the more effort you put into small, frequent website updates, the better. Think of it as preventive maintenance to increase the longevity of a valuable asset. Put in the work now, and it will pay off down the road!

Let Hungry Media Help with Your Website Update

Your website is a tool for business success. Hungry Media can help you make the most of it! Our collaborative approach will leave you feeling confident, and your website current. Contact us today to discuss your website being updated or event to simply start from scratch. We can’t wait to hear from you! info@hungrymedia.com

Website Design Company
Website Design Company

Everyone has a website these days. Even the most basic of mom-and-pop shops need some sort of online presence to remain competitive. Now, with some luck, finding a good designer could be as easy as Googling “website design companies near me,” but it’s not usually that simple.

While searching for a custom website design company you’ll find that there have never been more options than there are today. This is good news, as it means you have the luxury of shopping around. But…it also means must shop around to find the best website design company for your business.

Identify Your Needs

Choosing a web designer can be difficult if you aren’t clear about your needs. So, we suggest you start by identifying what, exactly, you are looking for.  

Purpose of your site. Just like your business has a mission, so must your website. What is the main goal of your site? Generate leads? Build sales? Inform? Entertain? Prioritize the ways in which you want your website to function and go from there.

Growth. Maybe it’s a blog now, but do you have hopes of selling apparel down the road? Are you a small business that needs a basic site at the moment, but plan on sharing how-to videos within a few years? All of this must be considered as a part of today’s design. Think at least five years into the future.

Aesthetic. Your website could be the very first contact a consumer has with your brand. How do you want them to feel? How do you want your site to look? Take the time to develop a general idea of the aesthetic you prefer. This will point your designer in the right direction.

Software Integration. Is there a specific software that your website needs to work with, either today or in the down the road? This is a biggie and should always be communicated with your website design company in advance.

How To Select a Website Designer

Once you’ve established your needs you can start shopping. Ask potential designers about the following as a part of your decision-making process:

Portfolio

With your list of needs in mind, take a look at their previous work. How do those sites look and feel? Do they avoid the most common website design mistakes? What’s the overall style? Are they mobile-friendly? Functional? Easy to use?

What type of experience do they have? The needs of a blog site can vary significantly from the needs of an e-commerce site. You’ll either want a website design company with lots of experience in your niche or a company with a wide variety of experience in many niches.  

References

You’re not just looking for a company that can design a website, but a company with top notch communication and project management skills, too. Request references and contact a few. Ask about their experience with this particular designer. Would they hire them again? What, if any, drawbacks did they encounter?

Cost

The ever-important bottom line. Of course, cost will factor in to choosing the right website designer, especially if you’re a small business on a tight budget. After all is said and done, remember that your website isn’t a purchase. It’s an investment. And just like everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

Does the price include graphic design, copywriting, follow up consultations, revisions, etc.? Ideally, you’ll get a breakdown of the individual costs within your project so that you can make an apples-to-apples price comparison when decision-making time rolls around.

Oh, and don’t forget to ask about payment terms. Will you receive a monthly invoice? Milestone-based invoices? Is there deposit? This is all important information to have before choosing which company to hire.

Completion Time

There’s no right or wrong here. However, it is important that you have a timeline in mind. It’s also important that your designer can adhere to it. After all, finding the best website design company doesn’t matter if they can’t deliver when you need, right?

Maintenance

Your website will change over time. That’s just a fact. One of the most fundamental differences among web design companies is how they choose to handle ongoing maintenance and changes.

Ideally, you’ll be set up to make small changes on your own – like revising copy, swapping images, or adding blog posts. But will your website design company help when it comes to the bigger ticket items? If so, what does that look like? Can you put them on retainer? Do they charge an hourly rate? Is any maintenance included in the initial cost of your website?

A Website Design Company Designed for You

Your website is crucial to the success of your business. You want to work with a website design company that is willing to really listen to you, can create a site that reflects you and your business needs, keeps within your budget, and hits deadlines.

Hungry Media’s approach is one of collaboration and communication. We design and develop user-friendly websites to meet the needs of your growing business. We can’t wait to hear your big idea! Get in touch and let’s start making plans.