In this short video, I show how to create a reading progress bar using a free WordPress Plugin called Reading Progress bar from Jean-Baptiste Audras. This is ideal for websites with blogs or long form content where your readers will see their progress as they scroll down reading. It keeps a custom colored progress bar at the top of the screen just below the URL address bar of the browser and scrolls from left to right as the reader continues to scroll down the page.
We’ve all been there. Some of us more than others – yet still the idea of a redesign initially starts out with great aspirations, then leads to feverish or lackluster enthusiasm weeks later. Let me back up and explain my story.
It’s been probably three or four years since our last redesign of the Design Theory Website. Years ago I can remember when I first tried WordPress and had a blog in a sub-domain while having our main website in HTML on the root. It worked out better than I could have expected and within about nine months I was ready to convert everything into one site on WordPress.
Fast forward to present day, and I can honestly say that I’ve been working on this redesign for about two months. Not consistently, more on-and-off. Reason being is that, well, we’ve been busy. Being busy is a good thing when you’re a creative but only to a certain point. Some of our best ideas get filtered into our client websites and strategy efforts, meanwhile our own website gets the cold shoulder.
Why Are We Taking So Long
To be honest and short, we want a really good and clean experience for you. We want all of our services laid out in a way that is easier to navigate, lead/sales funnels created with purpose, and products easier to identify and purchase. What we’ve learned over the years is that the customer experience is what matters the most in any website. It kind of needs to be catered to them more so than what I think the website should be designed like.
Another reason for the redesign is to make the new website load much faster than the current one does. Realizing that more web traffic is done via mobile browsers than desktops, we have to make sure that our website loads smooth and fast on hand-held devices. Make sure that it’s also Google Mobile Friendly is key too. It’s important to make sure that the almighty Google deems our website acceptable.
Lastly, we believe it’s time for a refresh. There are a lot of ideas that we want to do that include a rebrand, but we’re going to have to hold off on some of those bigger and more time intensive initiatives to be able to focus on tangible goals and a timeline. Good ideas are great but they’re truly a dime a dozen. It’s really about executing and to be able to launch some of our more necessary ideas we have to stay focused. When it comes to our customer redesigns we treat them the same. We come up with a lot of great ideas from improved functionality, new software, and new graphics, but we also stage things out in milestones so that there is always something to look forward to over the next several weeks and months.
As you can see we’ve got a lot to consider with our redesign. It’s more important to us that it’s done right than just putting together a new design and layout without constructive though behind it for usability. Have you been thinking about a redesign of your website? What is holding you back from getting started? Let us know in the comments below or contact us directly if we can help.
A couple of weeks ago I presented at WordPress Orlando on Client Transparency in Creative Development. For those of you who weren’t able to attend or wanted to watch the presentation below is the video. Be sure to watch all the way to the end as the Q&A session was also recorded at the end of the video, as well as some commentary from other members of the WP Orlando community. Of course if you have any questions please feel free to Contact Us and we help.
Featured Image Credit: WP Orlando
Earlier this week I did a presentation at my local WordPress Orlando MeetUp about Client Transparency. This talk was a really open look at what it’s like being a creative, dispelling some perceptions on the creative lifestyle, as well as some insight into the thought process of a designer or developer working with the average client. I’ll be honest and say that most of these views are my sole perception, however many other creatives have echoed the same emotions and feelings.
The purpose of this though was to bring some light and understanding to both sides of the table when it comes to working through creative projects. The better both creatives and clients understand and respect each other, the better the development process will be and increase working relationships for long terms.
If you were unable to attend the live presentation, it was recorded and will be shared soon.
Your readers are more visual now then ever. Captivating them with great headlines is key, and so is capturing their attention with an interesting photo or graphic that goes along with the headline. Full disclosure, we actually use these websites along with paid RF websites like iStock and 123RF for our projects as well as client projects. Reason being is that there are a good amount of free resources for images online with creative commons licensing, but there are times when you’ll need to purchase a specific image that just isn’t found anywhere on the free market.
“Free images and videos you can use anywhere
All images and videos on Pixabay are released free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0. You may download, modify, distribute, and use them royalty free for anything you like, even in commercial applications. Attribution is not required.”
What I really like about this site is the free videos. Don’t get me wrong, they have a great library of photos to choose from with a broad range, but lets face it video is where it’s at these days and getting to use some HD quality ones for your project will make a great impression for your viewers.
“Hundreds of high resolution images added weekly. Free from copyright restrictions.“
This is a very clean and easy to navigate and search user generated stock photography website. It’s easy and quick to create an account, and I encourage that you do so that as you download photos you take the time to “like” the photographs that you come across. As a photographer this means a lot to us!
“Search millions of Creative Commons photos and add them to your blog posts easily.”
Their headline pretty much says it all. Catering to web creatives and bloggers alike, you’ll find plenty of great images and photos to use on your websites here.
“NEED FREE STOCK PHOTOS FOR YOUR NEXT PROJECT?
We are a stock photo community where photographers & designers can share their own photos and artwork with people from all over the world.”
If you’re looking for really great high quality photography from photographers around the world, you’ll enjoy this website. I’ve seen a bunch of highly edited and HDR photographs posted here for free use.
“Startup Stock Photos was started as an outlet for photos we were already taking on a regular basis. It’s grown to be much more than that. People and organization all over the world have used these photos to make some really awesome things. We’re happy to have helped.”
If you’re looking for photos and images with that “startup” or agency look, you’re going to enjoy this website. From wooden desk tables to white board and monitor screens, you’ll no doubt find an image or two to fit your project. While there isn’t a search feature or a huge library of photos, the ones that this photographer uploaded for your free use are fantastic.
What did you think of the list? Hopefully this helps you if you were looking for some great sources for photography and images. Remember to give credit back to the website/author of the photos you choose to use. While what you find may be free, what it does cost time, expertise, and skill to do photography. Having credit and recognition goes a long way!
Creating and designing a new website is an exciting project. Initially you’re thinking of all the possibilities and great ideas of what it will be. Content though, textual, isn’t always a fun thing to conceptualize. Is it a better practice to curate your content prior to designing your new website? Here are some points to argue both sides.
Explaining Your Product or Service is Verbally Easy
When we talk to new clients about their businesses, or why they decided to start a business, I notice them lean forward and eyes widen. This is because they’re enthusiastic about what they do and what they want to do in the world. Even if it’s a community based venture, the excitement of making products that make lives better, or a service that saves time and money is easy to talk about.
Now you’ll need to take those key talking points and make them sound good in sentences and slogans. Stringing together a story that flows correctly from left to right and not jumbled or out of order. In our discovery phase of our projects we like to take time to understand the vision of our client’s business ideas are. We need to understand it and grasp it for ourselves in order to create a website, photography, and business strategies that will not only compliment but also magnify these aspects. This can be daunting for most. Imagine stage fright, but for content on your website.
- Hire a content or copywriter. They can take notes on your thoughts as you speak and translate the important key elements and combine engaging words that when it’s all put together makes a resonating impact on your readers and visitors.
- Record your own conversations when you’re describing your trade. Then pick out the things you repeat often, or the things that you notice happen to resonate more with the people you’re talking to.
- Create videos where you’re talking or describing your products and services. It’s no secret that videos are popular everywhere from SnapChat to YouTube and Facebook Live.
Web Site Pages to Navigation
Typically when creating a website you’re going to have a few common pages like; Home, About Us, Contact, and Services. (Side note, think about renaming those to something more creative. It will entice your visitors to click around more.) Now for the rest of your pages you’ll need to think about what makes sense and what order you’ll need to place them. For example, will it beneficial to have a small photo gallery on your home page? Maybe a three column display of products you have recent on sale under the main banner of your home page? Are you active in social media? And if so will it be best to showcase that in a predominant way?
You’ll also need to think about landing pages. Specific pages that talk about just one topic/product with an effective call to action and opt-in form. While these elements could be found on your home page, there are also many other things found on your home page that aren’t in total singularity. Hence why landing pages can be more effective at mainly selling a product or lead generation.
Page layouts are important to consider. You can go with the same set up for each page, but that’s not always something that works for every website. Some pages are worth being segmented into columns as a whole or various columns throughout the page.
Are sub-menus worth your visitors time and effort? For this you may need to do some split testing to understand what truly works, but it is valuable to consider when designing your pages.
Be creative and captivating with what is above the fold on each page of your website. This is the part of the page you see before scrolling down to see more content on the page you’re on. A lot of times what sits above the fold is crucial to the attention and staying power of your visitors. Pay attention to your bounce rate and see if what you’ve setup is working for you. Content also plays a big role in this too!
- Consider creating a sitemap. You’re going to want to create one maybe on paper using a pencil to plan out how your pages and subpage structure will be. This flows right into navigation because depending on where your visitors come into your website, you’ll want to make sure they’re not lost as they get around but also easily identify how to get to the information they need and find what page it is on.
- Check out your competitor websites and see what works for them as a user. Take notes on what you don’t like as well because that’s exactly where you’ll be able to improve on elements and layouts you felt are lacking.
- A/B testing your layouts for various pages. Your visitors may stay on some pages more than others. See if there are similarities in the page layouts on the pages with more staying power over your other pages.
When Does It All Come Together?
For some of our clients it helps to see examples of page layouts before considering the content that will go on each page. And for others they have a general idea on structure but aren’t sure what pieces of content should go where and what is more important than others to be strategically displayed. We’re more of a proponent to knowing the base pages and names, then the content for each of those pages. Not all of the content usually fits or is necessarily going to work on the initial page(s). After the first round of designing, it becomes evident on what content is lacking and also what layouts are conducive for reading and navigation. We usually make those adjustments and sometimes add filler text or graphics to then bring back to our editors/copywriters to then create more elements to better balance each page.
This is our process and view on how we do things in short. What do you do differently? Let us know in the comments below!
image credit: Patrick Tomasso