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2016 Web Design Trends to Increase Your Website's Conversions

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Photo Credit: The Deep End Design

 

Though trends come and go, there’s something to be said for when your website just looks old. A dated website can lead people to question your credibility as a business or turn away because what they’re looking at is just plain ol’ ugly.

Many web design trends are driven by their effectiveness at converting potential customers into paying consumers because of best practice design that makes use of user behavior tendencies. As such, this list of 2016 web design trend highlights design elements that help to boost conversions.  It isn’t just about visual style, it’s about being on point with your design to sway your visitors to be full fledged fans and supporters of your business. 

Here you go:

1. Full Width Images

Full screen images capture the attention of a website visitor. We can’t help but stop and stare at something pretty. Wouldn’t you rather look at an image in full size instead of a mini box that you have to squint to make out what it depicts? Large images create a kind of interruption in our activities, forcing us to take notice and in turn contribute to higher levels of conversion.

2. Split Screen Layouts

Split screen layouts are great for highlighting two primary elements of equal importance and allowing the user the ability to navigate quickly and easily to what they are looking for. By creating a split screen as your landing page, your visitors can choose which direction they need to go without having to navigate through subpages to find it. The quicker they can find what they’re looking for, the more likely they are to convert.

Read more: 2016 Web Design Trends to Increase Your Website's Conversions

Don’t Get Reeled In By a Phishing Scam – What You Need to Know

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A client of ours recently forwarded an email stating that his website’s domain was going to expire. Littered throughout the email were calls to action, all capitalized warning IMPORTANT NOTICE, EXPIRATION OFFER NOTICE, and then of course CLICK UNDERNEATH FOR IMMEDIATE PAYMENT. He knew it was a scam but still wanted to check in with us to ensure his domain was in good standing – it absolutely was.  

Scheming criminals are constantly on the hunt, using the internet to prey on folks in an effort to steal personal information that they can then use illegally. Phishers use personal information to empty out bank accounts, steal identities or leave people locked out of their very own online accounts. The email our client received was exactly this – a phishing scam.

Phishing is fraud that happens online, according to the RCMP it’s “a general term for emails, text messages and websites fabricated and sent by criminals designed to look like they come from well-known and trusted businesses, financial institutions and government agencies in an attempt to collect personal, financial and sensitive information.”

Read more: Don’t Get Reeled In By a Phishing Scam – What You Need to Know

3 Reasons You Want Online Reviews Now & How to Get Them

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With people increasingly heading to the internet to research products and services before they commit to purchasing online or in store, reviews are fundamental in turning prospective buyers into paying customers. Reviews are like word of mouth recommendations but have the added benefit of taking on a viral form of feedback that can virtually reach an audience that extends beyond a friend of a friend. Peer reviews help others make and solidify their purchasing decisions acting as a kind of marketing currency that is provided by your loyal fans.

Here are 3 reasons why online reviews are so important:

Online reviews increase conversions

When conducting research into a product, potential buyers are further in the buying process given that they’re trying to seek out the finer details beyond a manufacturer’s description or your sales pitch. Instead, they’re looking to see what other people have to say about a service or product because they are seriously considering making a purchase.

Read more: 3 Reasons You Want Online Reviews Now & How to Get Them

SEO and Marketing Blogs Every Small Business Owner Should Follow in 2016

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Every business began with a single entrepreneur’s vision to succeed. As hard as it is to believe, even the bigwig brands started at the bottom but with tremendous dedication, perseverance, luck and killer marketing – they stand as they are today.

As we welcome a new year, we also welcome the opportunity to help those hoping to up their SEO and marketing game in 2016 by leveraging the knowledge shared by the best blogs on the web. 

For those just starting out, developing your business and marketing strategy can be overwhelming. Especially in a saturated market like Calgary, how to gain that competitive edge can seem like a mystery. But the challenge is worth the effort.  

If you’re just beginning to learn about SEO and want to implement SEO strategies yourself - you may be spending a lot of time scanning the net for tips, tricks and tutorials. To streamline the process for you, we’ve consolidated a list of what we feel are the best SEO and marketing blogs out there for you to read in 2016. All of them present pragmatic ways you can apply SEO and marketing strategies yourself:    

Moz

For SEO newbies, Moz has a wonderful Beginner’s Guide to SEO that offers comprehensive information about what SEO is, how it works, and strategies you can use to optimize your site for search engines. They have guides to link building, social media strategies, Google analytics and a whole slew of beginner’s guide PDFs that teach the fundamentals. In addition, their blog covers more advanced and timely SEO news and offers tips on how you can apply these findings and their research into your own SEO and online marketing endeavors.

Read more: SEO and Marketing Blogs Every Small Business Owner Should Follow in 2016

Blue Ocean’s Best of 2015 Blog Posts

Holy moly! 2015 is coming to a wrap and it’s been a busy one for us designing websites, graphics, logos and all our other many shenanigans. We love sharing what we know to help small business owners, freelancers and whoever else may benefit from our knowledge – flourish and succeed from our knowledge in their own endeavors.

Sharing means caring and well, we care. It’s always interesting to go through our analytics to see what blog posts perform well and what it is our readers want to learn about. That being said, it appears that SEO is still a huge draw for people looking to improve their website and move it on up in search rankings. Also, it appears that attaching modern day hero figures to blog post titles aids in keeping people interested as well.

Here’s a roundup of our top 5 performing blog posts for yet another wonderful year:

1. Local SEO: Optimizing Your Website for Local Search

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This article gives you the nitty gritty details on how to ensure that your website shows up in local search results. With the number of “near me” searches increasing exponentially each year, local SEO is huge for business owners looking to advertise to potential customers in their area.  It’s a must read.

Read more: Blue Ocean’s Best of 2015 Blog Posts

May The Design Force Be With You

The Force is awakening with the 7th installment of Star Wars set to hit theatres this Friday and how better to celebrate the return of the Jedis than to learn a few design principles from the epic films.

The folks at Venngage have created a wonderful infographic using stills from the Star Wars films to illustrate essential design principles in practice. From depth, to contrast, negative space, perspective, symmetry, directional cues and repetition, these design principles guide the way for stellar design.

Have a look:

 [Infographic] Design with the Force - 7 Star Wars Design PrinciplesInfographic by Venngage.


Website Do’s and Don’ts

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Your website represents your business online and your homepage is much like a welcome mat, greeting people when they first enter. You want them to stay and not turn away because they’re put off by something. Much of this has to do with your website’s design, the user’s experience of your site and of course, what your website has to say.

Here are a few best practice tips to keep your visitors on your website rather than having them looking elsewhere:

Do Keep It Simple

Simplicity is an art form. Steve Jobs noted that “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.” We get that building a website is exciting, you want to promote your business and show off all the things that you can do. But TOO much, TOO soon, can be TOO overwhelming for a website visitor and send them looking elsewhere.

Think about the simplicity of Google’s user interface, it’s a single box that you type a question into. It’s not complicated. It knows what it is intending to do – which is answer a question for you. Granted your site might not be as simple as a search engine (which isn’t simple at all actually) but you want to pare down all the unnecessary items that can get in the way of your user’s experience.

Read more: Website Do’s and Don’ts

5 Marketing Lessons to Learn from James Bond

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Like the suave James Bond himself you can woo your potential customers by adopting a few of his tried and true techniques. We’re not talking about taking them back to your hotel room or anything like that – that’s another article altogether. Instead, we’re talking about making your brand embody the strength, confidence, self-control and charm of 007. Here is how you can employ some MI6 agent-like techniques yourself to skyrocket your marketing endeavors:

Finish What You Start

When Bond is on a mission, he doesn’t cop out mid way because it’s too hard. The man doesn’t even appear to get tired. His fierce determination is admirable and what is needed to get the job done. For marketers, you can’t throw in the towel because a campaign failed or you have yet to see a return on your SEO endeavors. It takes time and it takes effort.

Everyone is capable of starting something but few see things through to the end. Bond however, he’s a closer. When things fail to go as planned Bond finds creative and innovative ways to meet and master the challenges at hand. It’s up to you to strategize and do, and when things don’t work, to rework your strategy so that your marketing operations do become a success.

Read more: 5 Marketing Lessons to Learn from James Bond

Create Product Descriptions For Your Ecommerce Website that Sell

253A SKU and a picture just aren’t going to cut it in this day and age. With people taking to their desktops and mobile devices to shop for the things that they need on the go, e-Commerce websites have to step up to the plate and play the game better than their opponents if they want to land the sale. The competition is fierce and getting that leg up is important.

One strategy for doing this is by adding product descriptions that speak to your consumer, selling them on the benefits of the product and telling them exactly why they must buy it now. But what this means is that you actually have to add a product description! Too often people rely on the manufacturer’s descriptions which gets cut and pasted around the web on other sites selling the same thing. By crafting your own product descriptions, you not only have the ability to target your ideal customer but you also boost your SEO efforts in the process.

Here are a few tips to help you write distinctive product descriptions that sell:

Write something

First and foremost, write something. Despite the fact that manufacturers supply product descriptions that include product numbers, sizes , colors, etc. most e-commerce companies only post that info and fail to add any words of their own. You want to distinguish yourself from the competition by adding your own spin to the product description. Change the wording so it speaks to your customer…

Read more: Create Product Descriptions For Your Ecommerce Website that Sell

Local SEO: Optimizing Your Website for Local Search

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Local SEO is all about effectively promoting your services to your local customers. It’s a matter of honing in your marketing strategy to target potential buyers in your area and optimizing your website to ensure that when someone is looking for your local business, they find you.

Here are a few tips to help you optimize your website for local search: 

A Mobile Friendly Website

First and foremost, you want to ensure that your website is mobile friendly. We live in a cross-screen world with mobile searches happening constantly. According to a study conducted by Nielsen and Google Canada, 80% of mobile searches happened even with a computer available. We are turning to our phones because it is faster and more convenient. With 78% of searches occurring in a store – you want your website to be readily accessible online, especially when people are grabbing their cell phones to look you up on the go.  

Use Keywords Strategically

Think like a customer in this case. What words would your ideal customer type into Google or Bing to find you? Those are the words you want to be using throughout your website’s copy. While you want to sprinkle your site’s content with the keywords that are relevant to your business and its location, you don’t want to douse your copy with them. Search algorithms are smart enough to detect when content is saturated in keywords and consider the stuff spam. So don’t be the guy who’s a “Calgary plumber, specializing in Calgary plumbing services, throughout Calgary and area.” It’s too much. Write for people, NOT for search engines.

Read more: Local SEO: Optimizing Your Website for Local Search