The control which designers know in the print medium, and often desire in the web medium, is simply a function of the limitation of the printed page. We should embrace the fact that the web doesn’t have the same constraints, and design for this flexibility. But first, we must “accept the ebb and flow of things.

John Allsopp, A Dao of Web Design

Responsive design presents content in ways that recognize and best utilize the user’s viewing environment. For example, a person on a desktop computer with a high-resolution screen/monitor should have their content presented differently than a smart phone or tablet user.

Web Design and Development influences your visitors and their perception of your company, brand, services or products. Look Twice Design works with the latest technology delivering exceptional measurable results. From creative concept and strategy, to development and testing, we integrate web design best practices with our extensive creative process to consistently produce professional websites for our clients.

From Indulgence to Necessity

by Wade Jabbour

The Internet and its vast uses have evolved throughout its short lifetime as quickly as its users and contributors have allowed it to. But changes of an even more profound nature have occurred in our relationship to and reliance on the Internet and web-based innovations. Simply put, the Internet has transformed the way we interact with the world, and in turn, revolutionized the way we live and do business. As creative director and founder of LookTwiceDesign.com I know first hand the power of the Web, and how well-designed websites can influence people’s perception of the information they are processing (consciously and subconsciously).

This rapid evolution into a digital-based society has in no small part been influenced by the proliferation of billions upon billions of websites hosted on the myriad of globally networked systems: the Internet. It’s remarkable to think that in the span of only fifteen years, websites have gone from being the exclusive domain of larger elite businesses, governments, and academia, with fewer than 1,000 modest sites, to one of the most widely used communication mediums in the 21st Century.

The emergence of social media sites, in particular, have reshaped how people access and share information. Today, small businesses and entrepreneurs can harness the power of the internet by becoming active members in the online community. Over 80% of North Americans access the web every day, helping shape consumer perceptions about business.

Websites facilitate a rapidly increasing volume of ‘online commerce’, now a $200 billion industry. Although much of what people purchase and consume, be it products or services, are still acquired through offline transactions, studies show that people increasingly source information online before making their offline purchases. Many consumers are admittedly reluctant to purchase online, but would prefer not to buy from businesses that do not have a web presence. A common misconception in the small-business community is that a website  must serve as a virtual store, with the sole purpose of generating direct sales. Websites can be very powerful marketing tools that enable relationships and critical information exchanges between companies and their clients. Information that can help consumers make informed decisions can help to build confidence and loyalty in a company’s brand.

Print ads, direct mailers, collateral material, television and word of mouth were some of the only marketing tools available twenty years ago. Although these tools are still used today, a well-designed website can be the most efficient and cost-effective marketing tool. Professionally designed, fully functional sites can invoke an instantaneous emotional bond, leaving people with a powerful and lasting impression that affects consumer choice, and more importantly, the way your company is perceived.

How long a company has been in business was traditionally a compelling indicator of quality and staying power. In today’s market, we have seen the fall of many long standing companies only to be replaced by new startups. People are looking for businesses that can adapt with the changing times.   Steve Jobs, claims  that mastering the message and how the message is delivered was crutial to his/MACs success.

“You can have the most innovative idea in the world, but if you can’t get people excited about it, it doesn’t matter”

Steve Jobs By Walter Isaacson

As we move to a more  digitally centred society, websites become a requirement to be considered a player in the professional world. Giving clients further confidence that your company can adapt and will be around in the future.

Unlike social media sites, blogs, and twitter feeds a website gives you more control of the message you wish to deliver. Layout, navigation, colour, font selection, hierarchy all play a role in shaping your company’s image and delivering the intended message. Social networking sites play a key role in online marketing strategies by helping direct consumers to your business site; but they do not replace the importance of your company website. Social media sites are structured differently than websites, ads, updates from friends, notices, comments etc. can be distracting as you are being pulled in all directions. With a thoroughly research and professionally designed website, it’s possible to control all element of the user experience, while shaping perception and guiding the consumer to what they are looking for.

Research is perhaps the most integral phase to successful web design. There is no one-size-fits-all solution or template that will allow you to skip this phase. A deep understanding your clients’ business and their values (the more difficult part) will help you design and develop a site that engages the  audience while addressing their needs. As with any successful product or service, asking the right questions can be at the heart of building a good site. Who will use it? Why will they use it? What tools and modes of media will they interact with?  And finally, a clear focus of your sites message is an integral component of its impact. Too much often leads to confusion, ill fitted colours, the wrong font selection, the lack of a grid, inconsistent screen layout, poor navigation, unprofessional imagery make it harder to retain the interests of a user and establish a good reputation.  The elegance of simplicity, as Steve Jobs said, is a lot of hard work. Professionally designed sites can seem expensive, but a poorly designed site can cost you much more than the initial investment and maintenance. The potential revenue losses and customer loyalty is enormous.

Business owners are often too concerned with getting their site up fast and cheap. Seen as an expense, business owners often seek to minimize the required investment. Hiring the wrong designer can derail an already successful business, and bury start-up ventures before they have a chance to get off the ground. Don’t simply settle for the lowest price. That said, expensive design doesn’t guarantee sound design. You don’t have to blow your budget or settle for all-or-nothing tradeoffs between good design and price. Do the necessary research.  Working with a professional that understands your values, aspirations business goals, emerging technology, creativity, and how to work through a comprehensive research process is invaluable to successful design.

Many people believe that the content is the most important aspect of a website. Although the ultimate goal is to transmit a message or information vis-à-vis the content contained on a site, the fact is, if the user experience is obstructed by poor layout, confusing structure, or incoherent messages (visual or otherwise) then content will invariable be overlooked. The web—and the technology to support it— have developed into mostly a visual experience. People experience an immediate reaction to a site before they have read a single word. Therefore the design must support the content, invite and entice the user, and invoke confidence.

Determining what you would like or expect your visitors to do once they have landed on your web site is an important element to controlling the user experience. Ultimately they are looking for an answer. Whether in the form of a product, service or information, your site must address their concerns quickly and easily. The user expects that your website will have the latest information about your area of expertise. If the information is stale or too old, people assume you are no longer in business or simply don’t care. Hence, carefully controlling and managing the content lifecycle to address your audiences expectations and adapt as their changing needs is crucial.

Design is not simply a style or aesthetic. Your company site is often the first and potentially the last experience a consumer may have with you. Remember the timeless adage that first impressions are everything. You have the ability to dictate change, shape perception and guide users through an informative, captivating and fluid site. Make changes happen through sound web design.

By: Wade Jabbour , Creative Director at Look Twice Design