Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Spotted: 8 Web Trends we are using in 2015

We are now half way through the year, where we are seeing some amazing trends in web design that will make you wish you had thought of it yourself! I must say, I for one am blown away with some of these trends, as they are so AWESOME that it websites are becoming more than just interactive entities, they are a piece of art.



I’ll walk you through these changes and how they are impacting us at Digerati Solutions on the design front.

1. Cinematic Design – LET’S MAKE IT BIG

You want to make a splash with your website – you want to be extremely visual with people being able to see what your site is about. One of the first trends that we are seeing is a cinematic influence. Think big – like Lord of the Rings BIG. Like Harry Potter BIG, like Ed Sheeran is singing at your wedding BIG… Okay, maybe not that far but you get it.

This usually consists of either a video or an image spanning the full width of your screen. The image gives you a feel for who they are and what they do, and they might have only one or two sentances to exhance the experience.

Think a Movie Trailer. Think, being at the cinemas only - you're not! You’re on your ipad, you’re on your desktop. You’re laying in bed scrolling through your phone before you go to sleep.

The trend is both visual as well as pragmatic- this gives users the maximum impact as soon as they land on your site. It is easier to code and works really well on mobile and desktop devices.

What does this look like?

A good example of this is Airbnb.


But don't just rely on a screen shot - go take a look... www.airbnb.com

The slow moving videos, the simple text like "Welcome home" or "Belong Anywhere" make you feel something. I feel calm, at ease and trusting - and that's exactly what you want to feel when you're travelling to a foreign city!

2. The Parallax Effect

The Parrallax effect is a classic example of how the old can be new again. It has evolved in many different mutations but it has one thing in common – designers use page scrolling or mouse movement to animate elements or properties of the page.

Sometimes this makes websites more fun and quirky, and other times it’s used to add mood and ‘depth’ to a 2D website.

Here at Digerati we did something just like this with Blue Mountain Camp. As you scroll, it takes you through the different experiences and features, taking you on a journey. It's a site to experience and explore, not simply just get what you need in under 3 seconds.  



Visit the Blue Mountains website

Here is some other great examples of the Parallax Effect in full swing - 

3. Long Scrolling sites

As more and more users are getting used to flicking up and down on their phones, websites are getting looooonger... In past days, every client asked me to ensure their website 'fit on the screen' or we discussed how the most important content had to be 'above the fold'. Now, while some of this rings true, most websites we're designing are a version of a long scroll. Still the most important message or call to action is 'above the fold' (or sitting in plain view when people first land on the site), the experience of the website happens as people scroll down the homepage. 

The great thing about this 2015 trend is that you have the opportunity to communicate more and communicate it more creatively on your homepage. You can give adequate room and white-space to content that gives it a renewed level of importance and beauty. 

Apple did this well when they launched the iPhone 6.


Visit the iPhone 6 website to get the full experience - www.apple.com/au/iphone-6/

4. Forget the Boxes! 

FORGET THE BOXES. We aren’t playing a game of Tetris here people! This is your website, we want you to experience everything that we can offer VISUALLY. As all the websites above have shown, creativity across the entire screen is the new approach to web design.

Web designers love to show how they think outside the box – and World of Swiss is a great example of how designers have done this.

Their site makes you feel like you are LITERALLY flying across the Swiss Alps, your destination – who knows! I’m too busy flying through the site! This is great fun!

Actually, you are flying through all the information that SWISS has to offer. It’s fun, it’s engaging and unless you don’t like flying, it's plays off your curiosity as you explore all it has to offer visually. 


Visit and experience the World of Swiss - www.world-of-swiss.com/en

5. Split Screens 

Vertical breaks are another trend we're seeing, where the full screen width is divided by two sets of content. This is ideal for companies who have two valuable products or services that they want to promote, where neither is more important than the other. 

For example, an online store selling two distinct products or to two distinct target markets could utilise this technique to ensure each gets the 'screen time' it deserves. 

For example, The Iconic. The first feature on their homepage is: Shop Women / Shop Men. 


Or, visit the live Iconic website - www.theiconic.com.au

6. Hidden Menus

This is the Ghostbusters of cool. This trend that has been appearing in some of the top websites over the last 6 months.

This is where menus are not your standard list across the top of the page with drop down, now they spend their time hiding behind buttons or tabs. The menu is only revealed when the mouse hovered over the icon or clicked. This is a fun and interactive way for users to search through a website.

This is the outcome of 'mobile first' design - where the first design consideration is; 'what will this site look like on mobile and how can we maximise the user experience (UX) here?' Mobile web browsing has resulted in the birth and growth of the "Hamburger Menu" or the "Kebab Menu" as we affectionately call them (aka, the three lines and the three dots). And now, we see these on desktop websites too.    

Hillsong do this across their sites, with a mega-menu that drops down when clicked. 


See the menu in action - hillsong.com

7. Very large typography

Large typography is a great way to attract your audience’s attention because it’s eye catching. It allows you to clearly communicate your key message or call to action. It also commands the audiences attention and becomes a design feature all on its own.

Tiny Giant have nailed this where they use large typography to engage you before your eye wanders anywhere else.


See the live site - madebytinygiant.com

SPOTTO - I see another Hamburger menu being used here too!

8. Ghost Buttons

What are ghost buttons one may ask? Ghost buttons are buttons that attract your attention but in subtle way. They are often transparent, 'flat', have a recognisable shape, are bordered with a very thin line and contain light san serif fonts.

It is a call to action button that isn't too invasive and over the top.

It is neat.

It is classy.

It’s the James bond of buttons. Not too distracting but once you see them, you want to click.

Remember the iconic homepage? 


These are great examples of ghost buttons. 

Ditto with the Hillsong Store homepage - see the 'Buy Now' button? 



Conclusion

So that's what we're seeing on modern and beautiful sites in 2015. No doubt these fun, sleek, interactive and user friendly features making their way onto more and more sites, and eventually onto yours!

Don’t be afraid of the bold changes, embrace them! Because in the end, the web is always changing, and next year, we'll be onto the next stage of website design.

So, until next time, Let's Make A Website!

Curated and written by www.digeratisolutions.com.au 





Thursday, 23 July 2015

Schools, you've heard it said, "content is king!"

You've probably heard it said "Content is King!" – Bill Gates

So let’s talk about the content strategy for your school's website!



Having a strategy in place is so important in any business execution. When you are thinking about a school, everything is structured in a way that allows both current parents and prospective parents to find what they need.

Having a strategy in how you are going to engage your audience is the most important thing that you can do when working on the content for your website.

In preparation for adding in content, it is always good to have written ideas of how you want to convey your content to your audience along with strategies on how you are going to convey that.

So what is a content strategy?

A content strategy involves planning what you want on your website. This includes the amount of pages that you want, and how you can introduce your information to your visitors. It not only includes your word content but it also includes your images, and your media. This could include your music playing on your site, other images and videos.

Your audience, especially prospective parents and children, want to be able to find your information quickly and efficiently. Seeing your content clearly conveyed also is dependent on your User Experience.

User Experience (or, UX if you want to get hip and technical)

What is user experience you might ask? Well, the best way to describe your user experience is:
User experience focuses on having a deep understanding of users, what they need, what they value, their abilities and their limitations. (usability.gov)

A schools website needs to convey this in a manner that not only differentiates themselves to their competitors but also engages their audience and helps them solve their problem.

For example,
Where do I enrol my child?
How to find school camps on offer?
What are the fees?
Where do I find my school time table?
What time is the bus timetable that takes me to school?
What extra curricular  

Considering both the user experience and using a content strategy will help you build on your ability to convey your content to your audience in a clear and concise way.

Your audience also wants to be involved in your content. In a school environment, audiences whether it be parents, students, or other members of the community want to feel at ease when they look to finding a school that will offer them what they want.

It is always good to have a plan of action. It allows you to be clear, concise and enables your audience to see what you are trying to convey.

A good content strategy depends on:
  • Good in depth research, this includes, keywords, search volume, and checking out your competition in regards to search pages
  • Differentiate your content
  • Ensuring that your content stands out using key phrases and key words is also an essential part to forming your content strategy.

You may ask, how else can I make my content different from others?
Some good examples include:
  • Interactive videos (don’t let your videos be too long as the audience cannot focus for very long when watching a video)
  • Images need to be clear and not pixelated. (They also need to be engaging through showing emotion)


Building on your reputation

As an educational institution, schools pride themselves on their knowledge and learning. Educating your audience on what your school has to offer is the key reason you want prospective parents to come to your school. It is all about building a reputation in a competitive market.

According to our recent Digerati survey, 85% of respondents said that they look at schools based on their reputation.

Through showing that your school is as successful as its reputation, conveying that to your audience is very important but also requires key planning. Making sure that you are able to convey these points using imagery, storytelling and testimonials as this will help in sharing that experience.

Content Focused Components
Conveying this to prospective audience is why a content strategy will assist you in building on that reputation.
Some of these components from Brain Traffic.com on content strategy are:
  • Substance: What kind of content are needed? 
  • Structure: What is the structure of your content? Will it be formatted, organised, and displayed?
  • Workflow: What processes and tools are needed?
  • Governance: What are the key decisions about content and it's strategy?


We want you to get the MOST out of your content so that your audience is able to see how your school can STAND OUT and be REMEMBERED.

Having a content strategy is complex but it will help in the long term in how to improve your Google ranking and SEO performance.

Build on those relationships with fellow teachers, students and current parents. Find out what makes them feel proud and inspired to attend your school. Enable them to feel involved in your content.

Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand – Chinese Proverb.


Until next time!




Wednesday, 24 June 2015

A school's website – what am I looking for?

When I’ve looked at a school’s website in the past, I’ve thought to myself, what am I looking for?



Growing up, I went to two different schools. One was my local public school and the other was a senior school. One may ask, why did you go to a second school for only two senior years?

Firstly, I had a lot of friends from school that lived in the area of this specific school. This I felt was a win from the start. I had the option to change schools and still be around the people that I had grown up with. Awesome!

However, my main reason that I had wanted to change schools was that the current school I was attending didn’t offer what I had wanted to study. My aim had been to go to university and study marketing. In doing this, I knew I needed to get good marks and I felt that in attending a school that had a focus specifically for the Higher School Certificate, I would be able to get my best marks and achieve my goals.

The school that I went to offered many more subjects than my previous school. It was the fact that they were able to show me what they had to offer through their website that had me sold, even before I had stepped foot into the school!

In our recent survey here at Digerati, we found that 85% of users are looking for what the school curriculum offers for their family. Parents want to feel they can engage with your school, and the website is their first impression. So, you want to make it count!

First impressions.

The first time that I had looked at that school’s website, I had thought to myself:

Where can I find what they will offer me?
How will I benefit from going to this school?

In the end, my last thought was:
How do I apply?

They got me. They had won me over.

How did that happen you might ask? Well, it’s all about the first impressions!

Aesthetics.

The aesthetic look of your website, and the user experience needs to be smooth and easy to navigate. 

In saying this, you can’t over compensate with content for the way that a website is designed.
If the site is designed to be fun and interactive, make sure that your content mimics this. Use fun and engaging photos of students. Show them LEARNING, show them being CREATIVE, show them being INSPIRING.


It’s all about the story.



Everyone loves good story. When reading a story that is engaging, it gets you excited. It makes you want to be involved. It makes you want to do something great.

This is what schools strive for. As the saying goes, ‘Kids are the future’. And they ARE.

Through telling a story of how your students and chasing their dreams, building on their own skills, allows them to be able to see that they are talented and smart. They can think about how they will be as adults, and thinking back nostalgically to their school that they went to.

You want your content to show this.

When looking at a schools website, content is definitely one of the most important features. The audience want to find out as much as they can about your school, so having clear and concise content is key.

Your content should tell the story of your school, its values and its future. Storytelling is what encapsulates us into another world. As Plato said:

“Come then, and let us pass a leisure hour in storytelling, and our story shall be the education of our heroes.”


Remember it’s the school’s students that tell the story. Capture their accomplishments: this could be through imagery, their writing or feedback from parents. This will build the websites character and create an emotional response from the audience. 


The importance of clear content.

When writing your content and telling your story, whether it be the story of your school’s athletic carnival, or the charity event your students took part in, it is important to think of the way the story flows.

Make sure that there is an Introduction, body and an ending but also make it personable along with the facts.

You want to be able to convey to your audience, whether they be parents or students that your school can meet their needs, along with showing that your school is a community that works together.
Using images that would help to convey your story will also have a visual impact on your audience. It will help them to visualise the atmosphere of your school.

Referencing back to my own experience, it’s not only the curriculum that interested me in attending a different school for senior year, but I also wanted to look at it from a social aspect.
Were there extra-curricular groups that I could become involved in? What would the social scene be like if I had changed schools?

I had a valuable experience in meeting different students from my previous school. They offered international exchange programs which allowed me to learn about the cultures of others outside of my own.

My school conveyed these experiences in the stories from their exchange students. This is what I felt not only made my school stand out, but it also showed me that they offer many opportunities that I didn’t think I would have been given from my old school.

Thinking back about what I remember about my school years, was that my school offered me an opportunity to learn and grow. This is what all schools want to be able to achieve when portraying their schools website to their audience.

Make sure that you can show what you can offer that makes you stand out.
Be visual.
Be bold.
Be engaging.
Be motivating.

And overall show them that your school is the school for them!
Tell your schools story!


Until next time.




Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A School's Website - more important than you think!

At Digerati, we have spent nearly a decade building website's for all kinds of businesses and organisations. We love it! And we love to be able to lead clients in the right direction, by sharing our experience and expertise.

Over the next few blog posts we are going to focus on a school's online presence.

Why? Because it might be more important than you think. 

I have begun looking for schools for my son. Sure he is only a toddler, but it's a really big decision, it's a new decision and it all starts with Preschools and Daycare centres. When I get a spare moment, I start my Google searching and I begin to look at the websites of all the primary schools, and centres nearby. I want to know anything and everything I can - where are you? who are you? what sort of things do you believe and do? when are you open? how do I apply? how are you different to the other one? how much does it cost? what are your facilities like? and so on...

At Digerati, we have also worked with close to 50 schools and school organisations across Sydney with their website project. In order to serve them and other school's better, we also conducted some research.

So what have we learnt about parents looking for a new school?

*****

Parents are looking up a school's website to get information. Not surprising! As is my experience, this is my first step. We know this is not only the case with schools but with all businesses now. A school's website is a key part of researching and decision making.

The research also indicated that when searching, parents are looking for schools in their local area. 64% of respondents would include their suburb or their region as one of the keywords in their search.

*****

And I thought I was the only one! Nothing bothers me more than comparing schools/preschools and seeing the same boring template!!! The respondents of our survey agreed. More than two thirds marked 'Good website design' as either Very Significant or Significant in their decision making process. Obviously, parents perceive that a good website reflects upon the school as it's the first impression they get. 

School's need to represent who they are and present their best through their website. After all, first impressions last! 

*****

Parents looking for a school want as much information as possible available online. And they want to be able to find it! This means, your menu's and information architecture needs to be logical! This might require some testing - grab your friends and ask them to find specific pieces of information. Watch them use the website - is it the way you imagined?  


If you are a school or a school based organisation, ask yourself: does my website send the right message? Is it the best first impression? Does it show how we are different? 

Digerati would happily talk with you further - we'd love to share our expertise and advice about how to get your message across clearly. 

Contact us - www.digeratisolutions.com.au or phone Adam on (02) 9545 2983