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Why Responsive Design Matters

Posted by on Friday, June 21, 2013

Responsive Web Design—If you’re not familiar with the term, that’s okay. Many people that aren’t intimately aware of websites haven’t yet heard of it.

Basically, Responsive Web Design is a technique to building websites that gives the client a much more efficient, effective, and robust website, while reducing the time it takes to build a website, depending on the particular needs of the project.

Understanding Responsive Web Design involves realizing just how many devices are currently being used to view your website. If your website isn’t responsive, and someone on a mobile phone goes to your website, they may see a jumbled mess of text and images, instead of your clean, effective site. This is because mobile devices (as well as iPads) use a different process to show you the website, and this difference causes tons of poorly built websites to become nearly unusable. So it’s vitally important that you update your website to be responsive, if your budget permits. Otherwise, you’re losing customers that would otherwise be purchasing products, or calling for your services.

If your website isn’t already using Responsive Design, let us help you get your website up-to-date and starting making your website more effective for your business!


Enticing Readers Down the Rabbit Hole

Posted by Hanan Wilson on Monday, March 07, 2011

Website Story

Our PIT leader (Hanan) recently shared an interesting article with me entitled, Life: Below 600px by an Irish web designer named Paddy Donnelly that really struck a chord. In the article, Donnelly conveys the article's point with a clever visual demonstration that flips the current trend of placing all of a site's premium content "above the fold" (an industry term for the space immediately viewable in a browser window, much like a newspaper that has been folded).

Reward Visitors for Scrolling

While he's not the first to cover the topic, Donnelly nonetheless incites his readers to buck the golden rule of cramming as much information above the fold as possible for a more mischievous, and admittedly sensical, approach where readers are encouraged to scroll the entire length of a page and are ultimately rewarded for doing so. This reward could be monetary (a special discount), the exchange of important information, or even just a strong call to action. Donnelly makes a lot of good points, many of which are being employed (either consciously or not) by websites that have begun focusing more attention on their footers. For instance, here at Productive I.T. we've placed a lot of useful support information, our e-newsletter signup form, and a fun team illustration that changes every month all at the footer of our site.

Rabbit Hole Blog
Disney's Alice in Wonderland side-by-side with Donnelly's "below the fold" example of 37 Signals


Invite People Down the Rabbit Hole

As both a designer and a reader I can appreciate the unification between a site's content (it's message) and it's overall design that Donnelly is hinting at. Oftentimes, I'll find myself immediately drawn to the footer of a site for (dare I say) the instant gratification of being able to find exactly what I need. Alternatively, while still arguably effective, the big header images that have become a stable of many designs can be accused of being over bearing at times (kind of like a billboard on the interstate). That's not to say that either method is better than the other, both have their place in design. However, it does bring up some new ways to employ these tools (header images, footers) to convey a site's message. Don't be afraid to be creative... invite your visitors down the rabbit hole every once in awhile.

Further Reading:
IAmPaddy: Life Below 600 px
Below the Fold: Why Scrolling Isn’t A Bad Thing
Debunking the Myth of the Page Fold in Web Design


Wild Kingdom Unleashed! Montgomery Zoo Website Launched!

Posted by Production Productive IT on Friday, February 04, 2011

Wild Kingdom Unleashed! Montgomery Zoo Website Launched!

Montgomery Zoo

Today, Productive I.T. is pleased to announce the launch of the brand new Montgomery Zoo website www.montgomeryzoo.com/, a bold new look for one of Montgomery's biggest attractions.

This site is the result of months of hard work done by our design and production team here at Productive I.T. in coordination with the City of Montgomery and the Montgomery Zoo. At MontgomeryZoo.com, visitors can now better experience all the wild terrain that the zoo has to offer from "the jungles of South America" to "the savannahs of Africa and the hilltops of Asia."

With the launch of new site, the zoo is now able to offer a variety of rich content with easy access to all the latest events and attractions. MontgomeryZoo.com is designed to provide an excellent user experience and features a revamped menu system, newsletter registration, ecommerce (membership registration and donations), and even an Interactive Zoo Map with animal bios that enhance the site's educational value and makes planning your next visit simpler than ever.

We encourage you to visit the new Montgomery Zoo website today and be sure let us know what you think.


The Art of the “About Us” Page

Posted by on Monday, January 24, 2011

About Us Page

Although you should always strive to make every page on your website as unique and conducive to your brand as possible, nowhere is this more important (or evident) as your About Us page. Often times, this page will serve to define the entirety of a visitor’s first impression so it would be wise to make sure that first impression is a good one. There are several ways in which you can best optimize your About Us page to achieve increased sales, some of which we’ll cover here.

Don’t be generic

When it comes to writing the content for your page, you should avoid using copious amounts of industry jargon or technical terms that your visitors may not understand. Likewise, NEVER use generic content that has been pre-packaged for you or is being used by someone else. This comes off not only as unoriginal, but dishonest and will likely cause visitors to completely overlook anything else you may have to offer. Whether you know it or not, your company does have a unique purpose, belief, or philosophy- tap into those ideals in order to convey your story. Got a nice signature? Use it to add your personal stamp of approval, and thus a sense of authority, to your message.

About Us Example
Planit Agency offers just enough personality from each photo to make it stand out while remaining consistent with the company's overall brand.

Be clever… but please, no smiley faces

Don’t be afraid to let your company’s personality shine through. If you and your team have a humorous disposition, then show it. Don’t be afraid to scribble outside the lines every now and again to interject that part of your brand, but always remember your audience. People are generally more likely to do business with someone who they can relate to and/or like. So what if you’re not the biggest or most well known company on the block? You’ve got personality! (Hey, it means more than you think.)'

Use lots of photos/artwork/video

You can go even further with your About Us page by allowing your staff to submit their bios, photos, hobbies, blogs, and points of contact (email or social media). If possible, post a video or photo gallery showcasing you and your staff both at work and at play- doing so will allow visitors to feel closer to you physically. You may even choose to feature an Employee of the Month (be sure to update this regularly).

About Us Photos
Blue Sky Resumes manages to pack in a few things here, including some creative usage of photos and a link to each staff members social media profiles.

Do be sociable

Social media has become a powerful tool not only in networking with potential clients and collaborators, but also driving traffic to your website or blog. Although it does require a commitment to maintaining your profile and fostering relationships online, integrating social media into your site (specifically as a point of contact with your staff or yourself) proves that you are willing to embrace an open dialogue and that you have nothing to hide.

Provide testimonials

In a virtual world where a review on Yelp carries more weight than just about any ad campaign it’s important that you understand the importance of word-of-mouth. Oftentimes, companies either completely unaware or, even worse, just don’t care to manage their reputation online. Those companies are missing out on not only cultivating good reviews into strong testimonials, but they’re also passing by ideal opportunities to convert critics into customers. People like to be voice their opinions (just take a look at Twitter), so give them the chance to be heard.

Our Team Page
Polecat chose to forgo a lengthy bio for each staff member in order to stay simple, however, the illustrations of each blend seamlessly
with the rest of the site's design.

Define a “call to action”

Most times, visitors to your site will either know exactly what they want and where to get it or they’re just interested in learning more (aka browsing). Those who know what they want make your job pretty easy, but they are most likely dedicated customers already. Your goal should be to convert those visitors who are still undecided, they could either purchase something from you or the 50 million other Google search results that came up alongside your site. Give them some direction by employing a strong, simple call to action. This could be a brightly-colored button that says “Buy Now” or “Free Trial” or “Subscribe to Our Newsletter,” but be sure that it’s noticeable and attractive.

These are but a few of many strategies that will help you take the most advantage of your site’s About Us page, increasing traffic and boosting sales conversions. Key to all of these, however, is a commitment to continuously improving your content. Doing so will add a “value experience” to your site that visitors cannot get anywhere else on the internet. Remember, no matter how large the internet may seem you and your staff are collectively the most valuable marketing tool you possess.

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