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!

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.

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.