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Now Trending in Website Design

Posted by Mia Ness on Jun 24, 2016 4:00:00 PM

Website design has evolved immensely over the last few years in regards to what users expect from their online experience, and how they interact with their devices. More and more people rely solely on mobile devices as their main point of contact with the digital world. With the advent of social media, people have become even more tied to their devices in constant management of their online social presence. Here is a quick look at five current trends to keep in mind regarding websites and how they impact the user experience (UX) in today’s fast-paced technology landscape.

  1. Responsive Layout:
    Users expect a website to be accessible across all platforms. It’s disappointing for users if they visit your site on a mobile platform and it’s inaccessible or difficult to navigate. Keep your audience in mind, and take note of how those individuals will most likely be accessing your website.woman-smartphone-girl-technology-1.jpg


  2. Rich User Interface:
    Websites today lean towards an emphasis on a minimalistic, but effective layout with a strong focus on user experience (UX). This goes hand-in-hand with a responsive layout.


    Unfortunately, a side effect of responsive design is that a lot of sites look very similar. However, having a similar look isn’t always necessarily a bad thing. Since the way in which we consume the web is evolving, this evolution has brought about a number of commonly used elements for the user interface (UI). Here are a few examples:

    1. Hamburger Menus: The “hamburger menu” is just a fancy name for those easily recognizable three lines that designate a menu on mobile platforms. Although it’s a necessary utilization of space on mobile devices, hamburger menus have become increasingly popular on the desktop versions of sites as well.

    2. Registration Forms: Users have come to expect some form of registration for attaining certain information. Multi-step form wizards are an effective way of sectioning out required fields, thus providing a more streamlined way for users to flow through the registration process. Many people are also more likely to register if they have the option to sign-up through a social media platform like Facebook or Twitter.

    3. Long scroll: Utilizing a site with scrolling works great when you have a story to tell. By breaking the scroll into clear sections you can still mimic a multi-page site that is easy to follow. Just make sure users can easily get back to the top of the page if desired.ipad-tablet-technology-touch.jpg

    4. Card Layouts: Think Pinterest! A card layout presents quick bits of information that are ideal for the eye to scan through quickly. These content containers stack easily and can be arranged at different break points for various devices, making it very friendly when it comes to mobile-responsiveness.
  1. Animation & Visuals:
    Users generally prefer to scan content and let visuals weave a story. With this in mind, animations are being used more and more to enhance a site’s storytelling and enhance the interactivity of a site. Take careful consideration of whether an animation could add to your site’s story elements and personality.


    Typically animations are broken down into two main categories:

    1. Large-scale animations: Large scale animations have the largest impact on users as primary interaction tool. Examples would include pop-up notifications and parallax scrolling.

    2. Small scale animations: Small-scale animations are easier to integrate into a website and include spinners, hover tools and loading bars. These animations don’t require any user input and act on their own based on the sit’s functionality.

  2. Micro-Interactions:
    People want their online experience to feel personable and human. A website can accomplish this with use of micro-interactions. Micro-interactions are at the core of any mobile app making your device feel more human-like and less robotic. Ideally, these interactions should happen almost invisibly. Consider each detail with care, and make each interaction feel natural. 


    Examples of micro-interactions include:
    1. Communicating a real-time status update.
    2. Seeing the result of an interaction initiated by the user.
    3. Helping the user to manipulate something on the screen.
  1. Social Integration:
    Society has entered the digital age of social-sharing and people expect to distribute information freely. Social media has transformed brand like not other previous form of communication. It changes the fundamental nature of the brand/customer relationship making businesses more transparent and easily accessible.


    Have a social plan and pay attention to how your users are utilizing social media by tapping into Google Analytics. Take advantage of this information to make sure your site flows with how your users want to share your information. It’s important that you’re constantly evaluating and updating your social media strategy based on your results, interactions, and analytics.

Conclusion:
Don’t follow trends just because it seems to be the “cool” thing to do. Trends represent popular techniques for good reason. Always evaluate what is best for your users and how they expect to be using your site, and tailor your site’s functionality based on that information.

For more information on how Network Center, Inc. can help you develop a digital strategy and enhance your online presence, click on the link below.

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Topics: Web Development, Web Design

Announcing Our Newly Redesigned Network Center, Inc. Website

Posted by Angie Ryan on Jun 12, 2015 3:30:00 PM

We are excited to announce our newly redesigned website - www.netcenter.net. Our website's fresh new look, user-friendly navigation and search functionality are some of the features you will enjoy. The new site has several easy to use drop down menus with updated information about our technology solutions and company, along with a comprehensive resources hub that will keep you coming back for more. We hope that you will enjoy browsing our new site and find new technology resources and information each time you visit.

As you explore the new site, one of the first things you’ll notice is the rotating banner on the home page highlighting Network Center, Inc. news and solutions. The home page also provides easy access to recent blog posts, videos, and a technology resources.

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Review the solutions pages to learn more about our recently expanded list of technology services offered. You will notice the menu titles under the solutions tab are orange and green. The orange titles depict our Strategic & Consulting Services and Interactive Services. The green titles display our traditional IT Solutions and Support Services. 

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Please take some time to look around and acquaint yourself with the new layout and features that include:

RESOURCE HUB & BLOG

The redesigned site makes it easy to connect and share content from Network Center, Inc. with others on our new Resource Hub. Click through our Resource Hub to find our latest social, video and blog content. Be sure to subscribe to our NetConnect Blog to receive even more information about our latest products, tips and tricks. 

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CLIENT PORTFOLIO

Our clients’ goals are our goals. At Network Center, Inc. we work with our clients to create a customized solution that will meet their ever evolving needs. View our impressive collection of work on “Our Client Portfolio” page to see how we have successfully delivered for our clients through the creation of websites, digital signage and mobile apps. 

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CLIENT SUCCESS STORIES

Every day, Network Center, Inc. helps clients win in today’s complex world of technology. Visit our “Client Success Stories” page and click on any video to learn more about the solutions that delivered successful results.

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We are eager to hear what you think of the new site design—leave us a comment below! Thank you for your continued support.

Contact us to find out how we can partner with you to achieve your IT goals and streamline your business.

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Topics: Web Design, website development, responsive website, Website Redesign

11 Components of a Successful Website

Posted by Mia Ness on Feb 20, 2015 4:30:00 PM

great_website2Everyone has been to a great website that is easy to spend a lot of time on. But what really makes a site “great"? What makes you want to stay on a website and browse, when you could just as easily navigate away with the click of a button? Let’s explore 11 aspects of a “great” website, and how you can apply these tips to your own site.

1. Who is your audience?
Ultimately what do you want your viewer to do? Do you want them to buy something, read an article, or give you a call? This should always be the first question you ask yourself when you decide to build a site. You want your site to subconsciously direct the user to a goal, and you don’t want the viewer to scroll through miles of text if you’re goal is to get them to pick up the phone.

2. How quickly does your site load?
Unfortunately, people will only take note of this when speed is absent. As Internet connections get faster and faster, there is more and more content, images, and data for users to view and download. Everyone has been to one of those sites where you seem to sit there FOREVER to see your content or download your file. This by itself can be a major turn-off for people visiting your site. With a site that responds quickly, you’ll ensure that your viewers will stay longer and potentially return again in the future.

3. Navigation is essential.
If your user can’t easily get to where they want to be and get the information they want, they probably won’t stay terribly long on your site. Page navigation should be clear in the way it’s laid out and use a font that’s easily legible. If you have a very long page, it’s helpful if the navigation is either anchored in place or you have a “Back to Top” button of some sort to avoid unnecessary scrolling. 

4. All of your links should work.
Broken links are a huge turn-off for users and search engines alike. It can be perceived that your site is not well maintained and question the integrity of your business. Who wants to hang around on a site that doesn’t work? Having multiple broken links can severely hurt your search engine rankings as well, creating a domino effect that could potentially impact your overall business. 

5. Optimize Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Search Engine Optimization is the process of affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Optimizing a site for SEO involves editing a site’s HTML content, headings, and metadata to increase a site’s relevance to specific keywords. Increasing the amount of inbound links or backlinks is another tactic to promote a site and increase search engine optimization.

contactform26. A contact form of some sort should be easily accessible to the user.
Your site may be absolutely stunning, but if a method of contacting you is unclear, then that pretty site really won’t help you much. Again, ask yourself what is your ultimate goal? If the purpose of the site is to get the customer in front of you face to face, you need to spend some time thinking about the visibility and accessibility of your contact form. 

7. Use appropriate colors for your business.

  • Red – Is a common color in the food industry. It’s attention grabbing, aggressive, and evokes a call to action. It’s also been scientifically proven to increase appetite. However, it’s also a color that can easily be overused. Too much red creates a kind of mental shutdown and nothing will stand out. Try pairing red with cooler colors to tone it down a bit and really make it pop.

  • Blue – A very calm, reliable color. Evokes of sense of trustworthiness and reliability. Companies use blue to let you know you can stand by them, and they will be there for you. 

  • Brown – Brown is a common color for stability. This company is well rooted and very reliable. It’s also very earthy and is a good color for representing organic-type products.

  • Green – Green, like blue is a cooler color that evokes feelings of trust. It’s a very common color in the tech industry due it being reminiscent of green type on a black screen. It’s also very common in industries that want to represent a feeling of soothing calm.

  • Yellow – A very cheerful and energetic color. Like red, it’s often used to draw attention and can easily be overused if you’re not careful.
  • Black – Black pairs well with any color. It’s classic and elegant. A very common color in the financial industry, black evokes a sense of power and boldness. 
  • White – White, like black is very versatile and can be paired with any color. It’s simple, clean, and elegant. More whitespace is always a good thing. 

Of course you can use many combinations of multiple colors to fit your needs and evoke desired feelings. Yellow and black may be an excellent choice for a successf­­­ul construction business, but if you take that same yellow and pair it with orange and blue it takes on a lighter, more playful quality. Choose color combinations that make sense for your business. If your logo is red and orange, blasting your site with too much of these colors is overwhelming. Find colors that will compliment your brand so your logo pops and is easily visible.

8. Spell everything correctly.
People are very critical of spelling and grammatical errors. Misspellings can come across as a business that lacks a sense of detail. Have multiple people proofread your content to ensure that everything is correct and makes sense to the user. 

9. Don't over-explain the content.
Writing for web is a little different than writing for print. There is such an over abundance of information online, so people usually skim through the content instead of taking time to read big blocks of text. So if you’re taking the time to read this, great! Many readers are probably just skimming the headlines, and they will do this on your site too. If your goal is get the viewer to actually contact you, don’t overload them with so much content that they don’t feel they have to.

10. Include a purposeful footer.
Many people will look for contact information or an extension of the navigation in the footer area of the website. This is also a great spot to place social icons, or even a sign up for a newsletter or blog. Make sure the footer is purposeful and contains relevant information for you site. If you have a great deal of scrolling on your website, a “Back to Top” link above the footer is very user-friendly option to include as well.

mobile_friendly11. Make your website mobile friendly.
In today’s busy society, there’s a good chance people are going to be looking at your site on a phone or tablet. The NCI Interactive Services team always designs sites to be responsive and can be viewed consistently across any number of devices. 

These are just a few helpful pointers to help you improve or create your new website. The Interactive Services team at Network Center can help guide you through this process. Don’t hesitate to give us a call today to let us help you make the most out of your company’s web experience! 

Contact Us Today!

Topics: Web Design, Interactive Services, website development

The Interactive Services Client Process

Posted by Mia Ness on Feb 2, 2015 4:57:00 PM

Website DesignSo you’re in the market for a new website. The last time you changed the look of your site was about 8 years ago. It currently looks flat, blocky, and the navigation is clunky. You’re prepared to take the leap into the process feet first, but you’re still not sure what to expect. “How does the process work?” “How long will it take?” “How do I convey what I want?” A website is an important investment for your business. Not only will you be able to reach out to a larger pool of potential clients, but you’ll also have the power to target the individual needs of your customers. “So, this sounds great. But how do I get started?”

Sit down with a designer and developer for an initial meet. This first step in the process is crucial because it sets your expectations for the project. Communication is key. This is the part where you tell them what you want out of your site so they can give you an accurate idea of the “Scope,” or overview of the project. The more detailed you can make the scope, the smoother the process will go, and the estimation of price will be much more accurate. So, as the client, what can you expect from the designer and developer, and what can you do to make the process go as smoothly as possible?

  1. Research: The more information you can provide the designer and developer with, the smoother the process will go. It always helps if you’ve surfed the Internet a bit, and can provide some examples of what you like. Tell them specifically WHY you like the examples you provided. This not only helps the designer, but also the developers in knowing what you’re looking for as far as back-end functionality.

  2. Set Realistic Expectations: This goes both ways. Tell your designer/developer exactly what you want in the provided timeline. As a designer/developer it’s also their responsibility to give you, the client realistic expectations for your goals. If you ask for something out of the ordinary don’t be surprised if that takes a little more time (and costs a bit more) than usual.

  3. Website DesignSay What You Don’t Like: Most people will spend the majority of their time telling the designer what they like, but they forget to mention what they don’t like. This is just as important. Is there a color you can’t stand? Something you just don’t want your site to do? Let them know! The more information you can give them the better.

  4. Be Completely Honest: It’s their job to create a site for YOU. It’s your site; so if there’s something you’re not crazy about after the initial proof, please don’t hold it back! Don’t be afraid of offending them by saying what you want out of your site. The more honest you can be, the smoother the process will go, and the happier you’ll be with the finished product.
  1. Be prepared for questions, but don’t forget to ask them too!: Initially, you’ll hear questions like, “What colors do you prefer,” “What does your logo look like?” “What kind of functionality does your site need to have?” The more questions on both sides, the more accurate the finished product will be. As you get further into the development stages the questions will become more specific. Communication is key.

  2. It’s better to Over-Budget than Under-Budget: With any large-scale project it’s safe to say that you might have some unforeseen complications or requests somewhere in the process. As a client, don’t spread your finances too thin. Be realistic about what you can afford, and clearly communicate that to your designer/developer. Accurate communication really helps streamline the process so you get the most out of your site.

  3. Website DesignWhat if I don’t really know what I want? That’s fine too! Especially if it’s your first website, you might not have the best idea of what you’re looking for. This is where good communication and accurate questions come in. It might take a little longer in the early stages, but you will still get to your goal. Don’t be afraid to experiment with out of the box ideas.

  4. Share Meeting Notes: Sometimes you cover a lot of information in one meeting. If a great deal of information is presented, it’s unlikely the average person is going to remember every item discussed. It’s ideal if one person takes meeting notes and shares them with the attendees directly following the meeting. This way you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and avoid unintentional “he said” “she said” situations.
If these tips are followed throughout the preparation process the rest should flow smoothly. Moral of the story is that the more prepared you are walking into the process, the smoother the overall project will go. Above all, HAVE FUN! These pointers are applicable to mobile app development, custom application development, and many other products within our Interactive Services department as well. Our talented team can help you through the process from start to finish to make sure that your product not only looks the way you want it to, but also includes all the functionality you need for your business to be successful. The process shouldn’t be a hassle and the ultimate goal is that you absolutely love your new product. 

For more information on website development, contact a designer or developer at NetWork Center, Inc. today!

Contact Us Today!

Topics: Web Development, Web Design, Interactive Services

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