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What is UI/UX Design, and Why Is It Important?

What is UI/UX design, and what’s the difference in between them? It can be easy to use the terms interchangeably. While they are closely related, they mean two different things. User interface design (UI) is a graphic design term for the front and back end development. Specifically, what their users expect out of their devices and simplifying use. You can find user interface in machines from smartphones to refrigerators. Therefore, UI falls underneath the UX umbrella term. UX refers to user experience. This is what consumers gain out of their product thanks to UI software design. Here’s how UI and UX work together, but could stand alone.

Understanding UX

UX is a general term regarding user’s experience with the product. It can refer to any category of product, not just technology. It can apply to hardware/physical design as well. Let’s use a car for example. Do customers like the size, the look, and find it smooth? Does it function desirably? Could you see yourself using this every day? How does the car make you feel? Whether you are satisfied with the product or not is essentially user experience.

Understanding UI Design

User Interface design is the inner works that makes a product function. Since UX refers to overall design, that means that UI is a part of UX. UI is what gives the product its unique brand look. Also, UI is for electronics only: computers, toasters, and such. UI is concerned with software design and layout, like buttons. The main goal is to simplify design for easiest  Matters such as security, battery life, and speed all have to do with UI. Website designers, engineers, and technology developers heavily rely on UI design for their daily work. UI design evolves as technology improves.

 

 

UI/UX design is crucial for modern technology. We rely on our smartphones and computers to have the best user interface design so we can get the best user experience out of it. Since UI is strictly electronics, UX design could exist without UI. There’s a relatively high demand for UI/UX designers as technology continues to develop and evolve. Click here to read about what a computer whizz has to say about UI and UX design.

 

 

Interested in marketing tips? Contact Redwood Creative today!

 

Ecommerce Web Design

Important Elements of E-commerce Websites

E-Commerce websites, such as Amazon and RedBubble, are all the rage. Especially during times like now when people are browsing/shopping online for any items they may need. So, make it easier for your client to browse your site and make a purchase with these tips in mind. First, there are different types of e-commerce websites: business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and vice versa. Format your website according to the demographic that you are appealing to. Have a domain name that’s easy to pronounce and remember!

Clearly indicated prices

The biggest advantage to e-commerce websites is easy product research and price comparison. When displaying a product, provide a layout that will aid the customer in comparing prices.  If applicable, have a page on the website dedicated to products/packages and a chart of price variations.

A detailed description of the product

Some feel uneasy about online purchases, concerned that the product is not the quality that it appears to be online. Reassure them with a clear, technical description and how the product works. Provide a picture for every item and color. Also, guarantee returns for online purchases. Thus, the same applies for services, policies, and contact information as well. If a product has multiple colors/designs, feature a photo of every design that the consumer can click on and enlarge. Include any other handy information, like size charts. Also, offer suggestions for similar products.

Consistent theme and organization

Having a unified look all throughout the page will look more appealing and enticing. In order to stand out against competitors, the website should be uniquely designed. Stick with the same colors and text font. Make sure your website is updated. Have a consistent theme on both website and social media sites.

Other important notes

Fast connection! If it takes more than 2 or 3 seconds to load, then visitors lose interest. Have a clean-looking page, free of ads and clutter. Most websites have entire-page pop-up ads that interfere with scrolling. Instead, have a small pop-up ad inviting readers to join the mailing list for a sweet deal. Keep mobile device formatting in mind. Also, have optimal SEO (search engine optimization).  To learn how Redwood Creative can help you get more of your products online, found, and sold contact us today!

Interested in marketing tips? Redwood Creative is here to help!

 

Creating a Website Post

Things To Be Aware Of When Creating a Website

So you’re thinking of creating a website and you want it to look great right? Building a website can be fun but also quite challenging. You want it to look good, easy to use, and individualizes you and your business. It’s your website and you can do what you want with it. Just keep these in mind as you go along with your website.

Website creation process

In order to create a website, you must first plan your design. This includes theme, layout, graphic design, title/logo, and more. First you should design your logo. This will set the premise for the rest of your website. Stick with the same color scheme you use for your logo. Next, pick a name that’s unique and easy to remember. Try sticking with something that’s easy to pronounce as well.

Create your website with your audience in mind. Make sure it’s easy for them to find answers to questions they might have, such as service rates. Have your contact information readily available as well. Have a text format that’s easy to read, and space out your text boxes accordingly. Organization will give your website more credibility. If you include ads, make sure they are not distracting or make your site look like a spam page. Read more on website development here.

What you will need

To best develop and build your page, we recommend hiring a web designer and a web developer. Creating a website involves many interconnected process, and having more than one person on the project will ensure smoother development.

Consumers turn to the Internet to look for a product/service they need. Because of this, make sure your website offers a perfect display of all your products and services with a clear explanation. Having the history of your company on your page will help you gain more of your consumers’ trust. Be sure to provide visual representations of your business.

For best results, get creative with Redwood Creative! We will provide guidance and tools you need to build your dream website today.

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How To Hire A Web Designer

 

Our previous blog covered web developers. Today we’ll look at web designers more in-depth. The difference between a web developer and a web designer is that the designer draws out the graphics and layout. Front-end web developers will work very closely with designers. The designer decides how the website looks. Then, the front-end developer solidifies that design. Designers (digitally) draw out the navigation menu, graphics, media, and layout. Overall, designers create the blueprint, developers build based off the blueprint.

Why you need a web designer

It’s your business and it is ultimately up to you to decide how you want your website to look like. But, if you’re unsure about your web design, no worries! A web designer takes your vision and turns it into reality. And, they often improve the look. They can fill in holes and aspects that are often overlooked (such as load screen). Experienced designers could guide you on what your audience will expect from your website. In simplest terms, they set the overall appearance. A good designer should be able to express your goal through your website’s appearance.

Traits of a good designer

Like with web developers, designers have to go through formal education. Preferably, an associate’s degree. In order to complete the task, they will use Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, and Illustrator to construct wire frames and prototypes. In this process, they connect the visual design to the function design. However, creativity is critical as well. A good web designer will make your website stand out against competitors. Whether it’s through eye-catching digital art/media, or even a good color scheme, designers design uniquely for you. To learn more details, check out this link.

Are you interested in help with web design/development? If so, contact Redwood Creative to get started on your website and build your business today!

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How To Hire A Web Developer

Website developing and designing involves being fully knowledgeable in coding, computer programs, and formatting. It is also responsible for security, linking, and functionality. Furthermore, it involves creativity, patience, and clear communication between the business owner and the developer. There are two types of web developers- front end and back end. Front-end developers focus on the layout and physical design. Back-end designers specialize in behind the scenes works, like coding. Those who do both are called “stack developers”. Since the website needs to be created for the audience, it is up to the business owner to decide what the website will look like. A web designer will utilize their training and experience to bring that vision to reality.

Elements of a professional web developer

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Neo’s coding, 1999

A good website designer will have these skills: Sharepoint, JavaScript, Virtualization, Ruby, C#, and more. Version control and CSS are handy to know as well. They will also have a great understanding computer science & technology and how the website will function on different types of computers and mobile devices. Front-end developers work with programming language like Java and HTML. It will likely take two web developers for best results as there is a lot of programming and complex systems. Read more about a web developer’s journey and aspects here.

Where to find a good developer

A qualified developer has a formal education with an associate’s degree and experience. Since they’re typically not found at Best Buy or your local computer store, online is the best place to find one. But, you don’t have to bother with hours of research to find one. Redwood Creative can supply a quality web developer to help you kickstart your site! Our team of website professionals can give you advice, guidance, and the finest developers and designers. Check us out and see what we can do for you!

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9 Key Elements of Successful E-commerce Website Design

“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is one of the oldest adages out there, but unfortunately, it doesn’t apply to e-commerce website design. In fact, the opposite is true. When trying to wow online shoppers with your site, you’ve only got an average of 50 milliseconds to make an impression.

That’s all it takes for a user to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they’ll stay or leave. How’s that for pressure? But don’t worry. As long as you’ve got all of the right elements in place, they’ll stay, and crucially, buy products form your e-commerce website.

So what are the key ingredients when it comes to nailing e-commerce website design?

1) Easy Navigation

You won’t make many inroads with your e-commerce site if shoppers can’t understand how to use it. You should invoke the principle of Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) to leave visitors to your website in no doubt of how to navigate to where they want to be.

According to a recent survey undertaken by HubSpot, 76% of consumers said the most important factor in an e-commerce website’s design is “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want.” So overlook ease of navigation at your peril!

2) Frictionless Checkout

It goes without saying that the aim of an e-commerce website is to sell products. That’s not something you can achieve without a checkout capable of accepting payments. Regarding checkout design, you should always offer the option of checking out without creating an account since it’s the second-highest reason why people abandon their cart. (We’ll get on to number one shortly).

Next, take time over selecting your payment gateway. You need to have a payment gateway that accepts a range of payment methods, as everyone has different preferences. Some may prefer PayPal, whereas others may swear by Apple Pay. If they arrive at the payments page and discover you don’t support their preferred payment option, they’ll become one of the 70% of shoppers who bail at the final hurdle.

3) Fast Load Speeds

E-commerce sites are data-heavy entities. They are stocked full of product photos and videos, which is why you need to work with a web design agency with expertise in optimizing website loading speeds to avoid bad user experiences.

Time and attention are today’s most valuable commodities. Don’t believe us? Online retailers lose at least $2.6 billion in sales each year to slow loading speeds alone. Not to mention half of all shoppers expect a website to load in less than two seconds.

4) Live Chat & 24/7 Support

With more people shopping online than ever before, the customer service experience has moved online to match demand. Today, over half of online shoppers expect to be able to use a live chat function on your website. That figure increases to 62% for shoppers visiting your site on a mobile device.

In the age of everything, everywhere, just having the ability to quickly ask a question about one of the products can be the crucial difference between a lost sale and a conversion. Thus, make it easy to find within your e-commerce website’s design.

5) Mobile-First Design

Speaking of mobile visitors, your e-commerce site is dead in the water if it doesn’t perform well on mobile devices. This year, mobile devices have accounted for 70% of all internet traffic. Furthermore, mobile e-commerce revenue already accounts for over 50% of total US e-commerce revenues.

These figures are only going to rise as smartphone use becomes even more ubiquitous within society. Not to mention that Google openly admitted back in 2016 that it was beginning to rank the best performing mobile sites first. By 2020, those changes will affect all websites. Therefore, creating a mobile-friendly experience not only benefits your sales but your rankings too.

6) Free Shipping

Extra costs, and more specifically, additional shipping costs are the number one factor for online shoppers abandoning their carts. Therefore, it’s crucial that in the design of your site, you show prices that reflect their actual costs (including tax, etc.) of products as well as offering free shipping.

If a shopper thinks they’re going to pay $50 for the products added to their basket, you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll leave those items right where they are if that total increases to $75 at the checkout.

7) Gorgeous Product Photography

Pictures, it seems, really can paint a thousand words. It’s crucial to remember that it’s your images and videos that sell the product, not the text. The more photos, the better, as consumers want to see every possible angle.

A video of your products in action is even better. 97% of video marketers reported that video increased user understanding of a product, and 76% said video helped them increase sales. So don’t hold back on imagery when constructing your e-commerce website.

8) User Reviews

User-generated reviews are also a vital piece of the e-commerce jigsaw puzzle. First of all, reviews influence $400 billion of total e-commerce sales revenue. As if that wasn’t convincing enough, 97% of consumers report that the customer reviews they read influence their purchasing decisions.

Therefore, user reviews are a crucial element that you need to consider during the e-commerce website design process. Without any social proof, you could suffer from low conversion rates.

9) Security Features

Trust is another critical aspect of successful e-commerce sites. With so many online scams, customer’s trust is easily shaken. You’ve got to earn customers’ trust to make sales. That’s why you need to have security features that give them peace of mind. The SSL certificate (with the padlock in the browser) ensures that your site can be trusted to handle sensitive personal information.

Next, you have to build trust at the most crucial moment, the checkout. While some shoppers may see the padlock on their browser, others may need more encouragement. That’s why it’s a good idea to display your security badges on the payments page. Display your firewall, your payment processing certificates, and your SSL provider to give your shoppers total peace of mind that they can trust your website with their payment details.

Design Your Industry-Leading E-commerce Sites with the Help of Experts

Here at Redwood Creative, we’ve helped design successful e-commerce sites for both national and international brands. So if you would like to benefit from e-commerce website design skills trusted by some of the best in business, don’t hesitate to request a quote tailored to your specific requirements.

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5 Ways to Tell if You Should Redesign Your Website

Many small business owners may not think they need a new website, because they currently have a website that seems to work perfectly well. It appears on the screen when summoned. It says the things it’s supposed to say.  It doesn’t make your computer explode. But there are many more things to consider when considering what to consider about your website, such as professionalism. Often times a small business will take great pride in their brick-and-mortar location while ignoring their website. Here are five ways you can determine if your current website needs a redesign.

1) It Looks the Same as it Did 5+ Years Ago

There is a handy website that catalogs and preserves the entire web called Archive.org. They’ve been doing so since the 90s! What this means is that, with their “Wayback Machine” tool you can go “back in time” to see how a website looked in the primordial days of the Internet. You can also track how a website evolved over time. For instance, I used to work for a company called FramesDirect.com, undoubtedly the best online eyewear retailer. Here’s a screen shot of their site currently:

It’s clean, simple, elegant. Now here, thanks to the Wayback Machine, is what their website looked like on this same day back in 2013:

Sure, that’s not a complete dumpster fire, and at the time it was actually a top-notch design, but things change, and people’s expectations change. Look how busy and jumbled this older design is compared to the newer one. What the hell are you supposed to be doing on this page? Everything?! By comparison, the old site doesn’t look as trustworthy as the newer site and simply because it looks dated. Would you trust a company that doesn’t care enough about their image and reputation to bother revamping their website? Nope. Me either.

2) It’s Broken

Missing pages. Missing images. Malware infestation warnings. If your site is like this – in a state of retched virtual disease where it’s barely crawling on the floor gasping for bandwidth and begging to be moved to the recycle bin – you may shrug it off and say, “Eh, no one really visits my website anyway.” Well, of course not! One look at a website that’s falling apart at the seams and I click the back button in my browser faster than you can say, “Wow, this site’s in rough shape so I’m going to click the back button immediately in hopes that my own computer doesn’t hold a grudge against me.”

Fix that website and you may see an increase in leads from it. And while you’re at it – since a broken website is usually guilty of point #1 above – get the entire thing redone! Not to mention, that having a slick, modern website that works is something to be proud of, so you can proudly promote it on your business cards, t-shirts, window etchings, cloud writing formations, etc.

3) It Doesn’t do Anything

What does your website do? Is it just a static virtual brochure loaded with information? Well, that’s good, but a website shouldn’t just tell people about the business, it should let them interact with it. I don’t mean they should be able to challenge your website to a game of Asteroids (although that would be pretty cool), but they should be able to do something with it beyond simply reading text. Can they download your restaurant’s menu? Can they send you a message directly from the website? Can they chat live with a representative from your company? Can they actually buy products directly from your website? If you sell physical goods you are missing out big time if you aren’t allowing people to buy products directly from your website. With a modern ecommerce site you can easily bring your entire inventory online, and this includes built-in monitoring of things like sales, costs, stock quantity, etc.

4) Your Site is not Responsive on Mobile Devices

“So what does a responsive site mean, exactly?” I can hear you thinking. Well, that makes two of us. Hang on while I Google it real quick. Haha! Just kidding! A responsive site means a site that adjusts to varying screen sizes so as to always look good on any device. Your site may look nice and comfy on a big desktop monitor, but what about on a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet? If your site doesn’t adjust itself to fit the screen then this can cause many problems that will drive people away: 1) The text will be too small to read. 2) Links will be too small to tap. 3) The site simply won’t fit and users will not be able to see important content. This typically results in users smashing their expensive smartphones against the wall. Nobody wants that to happen.

Let’s take another look at FramesDirect.com on mobile. Here’s a few pages of their current site as viewed on a mobile device:

Notice how the content has re-arranged and re-sized itself so it fits nice and neat within the smaller window dimensions. Here’s that 2013 version of their site on mobile:

Yikes! This old site is less useful on a mobile device than a ball peen hammer in a LASIK operation! Most of the site doesn’t even fit on the screen. This is because their website didn’t respond properly to the smaller screen size and adjust itself.

5) YOU Can’t Use Your Website

Can you update your own website? I’m not talking about making massive changes to code or design, but how easy is it for you to update information or add new information?  When you try is the process more confusing and intimidating than trying to calculate NASA rocket trajectories with a Speak-N-Spell? Is it even possible to update your website? If you have to go through a webmaster just to update your business hours and write up some updated product information then you need a new website! One that not only your visitors enjoy using, but you enjoy using! Your site should be built on a solid and intuitive CMS (Content Management System) which allows you to make changes yourself as needed. Sure, you may not actually want to make these changes yourself. You are an incredibly busy small business owner already after all! But your site should allow for someone to easily make minor changes and updates. And not only do you want your site built on a good CMS, you want one built on a widely used and trusted CMS like WordPress. This way, it’s easy to get new people on board to help with the website. WordPress is so ubiquitous that it’s easy to find people who are already familiar with how it works.

There you have it. Five reasons why you really should redesign your outdated, broken, useless website. Naturally, we’re here to help! Just drop us a line for a custom quote and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible!

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Woeful Business Owner Needs Website

People often come up to me on the street and ask me, “Mr. Redwood Creative, why do I need a website?”

My first response is typically, “Who the hell are you?!” But once they relate to me that they are a woeful small business owner with no online presence, or a very dated online presence that looks like it was designed by hyenas in MS Paint, I throw my head back with a laughter of relief that they are not a mugger or one of my many stalkers, and exclaim, “Oh, my friend!” slapping a hand down upon their shoulder. “Let’s take a ride!”

We don’t have a taxi service in this small town so what I and this stranger do is jump into the backseat of the nearest car at the nearest stop light. It’s hot here in Texas, you see, so many people drive with their windows down. Yes, we jump in through the windows. This, literally, happens to me at least three or four times per week.

“Don’t worry about us driver,” I say to the driver who is either screaming or dialing 911, “We are but two consenting adults discussing online visibility.” This calms the driver down.

“So, why DO I need a website?” the woeful business owner will say once he realizes he just might not actually be getting kidnapped.

And here’s where my expertise really shines. I straighten my back, clear my throat, tell the driver to turn down the radio and I say, “Because it’s 2020 for crying out loud! You need a website!”

“B-b-b-but I’m in the Yellow Pages!” the business owner will assert. “I have my business cards tacked up on the bulletin boards in every laundromat in the tri-state area!”

“Well, imagine this, my friend,” I say, leaning in close for dramatic effect. “What if you could have your business card tacked up in a laundromat the SIZE OF THE ENTIRE EARTH!”

Naturally, the thought of a laundromat of such a size dazes the business owner for a second. The mere thought of so many broken Ms. Pac-Man machines is enough to give most NASA engineers pause. But then…they get it. It clicks. “Well, then, anyoneanywhere could find out about my business!” Their minds have shifted into spin cycle. They reel with the possibilities!

Often times, however, they tell me that they already have a website. “I already have a website,” they tell me, “See, look.” Then they show me their website on their smartphone or laptop, or sometimes the driver’s laptop if the driver’s not looking.

“Yep,” I say, squinting at the neon colors and animated gifs. “That certainly is a website. I mean, technically speaking.”

“It was designed by my niece – an artist – when she was 15 and it utilizes a whopping ELEVEN different fonts! Sometimes in a single word!”

“How old is your niece…now?” I ask.

“She’s 37 and just as artistic as she ever was when she can get time away from her septic tank scraping job.”

I sigh, and reassure them that their niece is, indeed, quite talented but things have changed. These days people like just one or two fonts. And instead of eye-gouging colors and gradients that induce vertigo they want useful information. Gone are the days when you could impress people with stock photos that still have the watermark on them and hit counters that show just how much traffic your site is NOT getting. People want to visit a site that looks professional. You know, business-like.

Then they sigh and, hanging their heads, they say, “My niece will be very disappointed, but you’re right.”

So, then we build them a totally awesome website.

Three or four times a week this happens.

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3 Simple Ways to Speed Up Your Website

In the spirit of an article about how to improve your site’s speed, let’s just cut to the chase…

Make Sure Your Site is Running the Latest Stable PHP Version

Often times a new version of PHP will roll out with many improvements that greatly increase speed, but your host won’t upgrade your website for you. If you aren’t sure what version of PHP you’re running you can ask your hosting provider or, if you’re running WordPress, install the WordPress Version plugin which will display your PHP version in your WP admin footer.

If you find that you are not running the latest version of PHP and need to upgrade you can ask your hosting provider to upgrade it for you. Some hosts may provide an option for you to do this yourself. In SiteGround‘s cPanel, for example, this can be done with the PHP Version Manager tool.

Optimize Images for Smaller File Size

There are many WordPress plugins that can do this automatically for you, such as EWWW Image Optimizer and Smush, but you can also optimize images yourself before you even upload them. If you’re using Photoshop to create and edit images already, don’t simply “save as” JPG or PNG. Instead, use the Photoshop export tool, which allows you to adjust the quality and file size of the output image. Simply choose File > Export > Export as and use the available options to adjust file size and image size.

Use Caching, Browser Caching & Compression

Caching essentially takes “snapshots” of your site’s pages and loads those for users, instead of loading each page fresh on every visit. This means, that instead of having to load every single element it loads a relatively static “snapshot” of the page. Likewise, browser caching tells your visitor’s browser what to cache locally, so the next time that user visits your site, they already have some of the site’s resources ready to go. Compression further increases site speed by serving a smaller version of the cached page. If you’re using WordPress it’s very easy to implement these things. Simply install one of the many popular caching plugins. Two of the most popular and trusted are WP Super Cache and WP Fastest Cache (which is what we use on the ETO site).

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Must Have FREE WordPress Plugins Vol. 2

As promised, here’s round two of our recommendations for “must have” FREE WordPress plugins you. If haven’t read part one of this two-part series then you’re really missing out on some darn fine blogging. You can check it out right here.

Duplicate Page

This one is so useful that I just used it to create this post! Instead of starting a new post from scratch and having to spend valuable seconds typing in a new title, assign categories, enter tags, etc. I simply used the Duplicate Page plugin to create a duplicate of part one of this series. Now, perhaps that’s not the most powerful use of this plugin, but it does come in a lot handier than that. For instance, if you spend a lot of time designing a highly detailed page or post that you need to replicate for other pages or posts this will save you a ton of time and ulcer-inducing frustration. Also, this thing doesn’t only work for pages and posts, but also other “post types” like products.

Download Duplicate Page

Ninja Firewall (WP Edition)

The last thing a spammer expects when attempting to hack a website is that they will be leaped upon and beaten to a pulp by ninjas! That’s exactly what this plugin does. By tracking hack traffic to your site it can pinpoint the exact location of hackers and deploy a battalion of skilled ninjas to their homes, parent’s basements or sweaty Internet cafés to utterly destroy them! Well, that’s really more of a metaphor for what this plugin actually does, which is detect “fishy” activity on your site – and within every file on your site – and put an immediate stop to it.

Download Ninja Firewall (WP Edition)

WP Fastest Cache

Website speed is crucially important. If a visitor comes to your website and it takes a ridiculously long time to load then they could become so frustrated they drop kick their computer into the nearest wall. This is not a good user experience. There are multiple ways to speed up a website and using WP Fastest Cache is one of them. In short, this plugin takes “snapshots” of your site’s pages, compresses them into lighter versions and serves those to visitors, so that instead of every element of the page having to load for them, they are given a single complete page at one go. Finally, no more having to drop kick computers into walls!

Download WP Fastest Cache

There you have it. The illustrious part two of our two-part series on “must have” WordPress plugins in two parts. What are some of your favorite WP plugins?