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Building a Fast, Minimal, Mobile Website

As mobile website strategy plays a crucial role in web design and development we find minimal design can not only be visually pleasing, but important to ensure a fast loading experience for site visitors.

Beautiful design is nothing if visitors don’t stick around long enough to engage. It’s 2016, and your site visitors want to have a blazingly fast site experience. If you don’t deliver, they’ll Google their way elsewhere.

By the numbers

  • 47% of users want a site to load in two seconds or less (according to an Akamai study)
  • E-commerce shoppers want a site to load in about two seconds. Google aims for less than half a second (according to Google Webmasters)
  • 57% of users will abandon a mobile site if it takes longer than three seconds to load (according to a Mobify study)

The consensus is seems to be faster is better since it greatly improves the user experience. Here are some ideas on making your site faster!

Minimal Design

Minimal Design

It stands to reason that, when you create a bare-bones design, your site simply has fewer elements to load. When there are fewer elements to load, you can meaningfully increase the speed of your site. This is especially helpful with mobile website layouts.

It all depends on the philosophy of how the approach site is designed. A lot of trouble can be avoided from the very beginning by designing smartly to avoid harmful practices that affect the site’s loading speed.

An example of a minimalistic website would be:

  • Simple, concise main navigation items
  • More white or negative space
  • Short web forms
  • Smaller images
  • Fewer external assets being loaded (ie. Fonts, Scripts, etc).
  • Minify assets (compress and combine all Javascript and CSS files)

Help from Google

Mobile Website Testing in Google Pagespeed

Google wants your site to be faster. That would help its overall mission of making the Internet faster. So why not use the amazing tools that Google offers?

The best place to start is Google Developer’s own Make the Web Faster page. Here, you’ll get a stellar assortment of tools and info to speed up your site design.

Another excellent tool Google offers is PageSpeed Insights, where you get detailed insights into what’s causing your current site to run slowly. The best part is that you can get detailed reports and recommendations for both mobile and desktop versions of your site. This gives you a great starting point to make refinements to your site!

Optimize Your Servers

An important aspect of making your site super-fast is how you handle your servers. In particular, tackling your server response time which is key. Your server response time is how long it takes for your server to respond to a browser request.

A few strategies to consider for your server to make sure that your server response time is super-fast:

  • Use a content-delivery network or CDN
  • Use a caching solution
  • Improve your web server software configuration

These of course are just a few of the steps we normally take with all website projects. Questions, comments, suggestions? Feel free to reach out or comment below!

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Building a Fast, Minimal, Mobile Website

In February, Google officially rolled out AMP (short for Accelerated Mobile Pages). Google says mobile web pages load 85% faster with AMP. Faster rendering means more page views, leading to more ad views (which also load much faster).

At the same time, Facebook announced Canvas, a new fullscreen mobile ad format that can instantaneously load many types of interactive content, including animations, images, GIFs, videos and more. How instantaneous? As much as 10 times faster than the standard mobile web, according to Facebook.

Although ads are only a part of Google’s AMP while Canvas is an ad product in itself, there is a clear connection between the two. Both of these advances bring mobile ‘cloud-based’ engagements to near native-loading times. By dramatically reducing loading time, the user experience is vastly improved. Google and Facebook are essentially telling the world that the user experience is now the single most important component of mobile advertising, for users and businesses alike.

When two of the top players in the digital world make such clear and similar statements on the state of the industry through their products, others will undoubtedly follow.

Who’s in?

google-amp

Major publishers have already started producing AMP versions of all their content. Now, when you Google a news topic, AMP results appear at the top of the page in a carousel-style format that makes it easy to swipe left and right between stories. Twitter and LinkedIn have signed on as partners to the project, which should make social browsing smoother as well; in fact, Twitter Moments now link directly to AMPs.

While Google doesn’t use AMP as a ranking signal today, it does prominently feature AMP pages. Chances are, it will start doing so in the future, though. Over time, it will then increase the importance of using AMP just like it did with its first efforts in ranking mobile-friendly sites higher.

For publishers, brands, and even e-commerce sites, utilizing AMP means faster load times and a better user experience. After all, don’t we want our audience to engage faster regardless of the device?

 

 

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Building a Fast, Minimal, Mobile Website

Change can be somewhat unnerving at times. Yet evolving your brand as you grow is a necessity regardless if you’re just a small company with 1-10 employees or a Fortune 500 company. You should always look to refine and adapt to your target audience.

I had recently been discussing some exciting ideas with our client Redline Photo about different approaches to evolve and enhance the brand for next year’s events. The clean and minimal style of the logo design for Redline Run, their inaugural event, led us to ideas for updating the logo to convey that same feeling. Simple, elegant and upscale.

Change generates excitement

Starbucks Logo

With the recent holiday cup controversy that Starbucks has received on social media there’s proof that change can generate excitement and encourage engagement with your audience. Of course revamping your logo’s design every year isn’t necessary but trying out different avenues of growing your company’s audience whether through social media, within the community or even in reaching out directly to current customers for feedback can help generate some great ideas on how you can improve your brand.

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Building a Fast, Minimal, Mobile Website

Working with startups is something I enjoy doing. There’s plenty of ground to cover when building an online presence and for me the challenge is like having a blank canvas. So here are some things you should plan on if you’re just starting out to paint a complete picture.

Research, review and apply.

Take a look at what competitors are doing through their various social media outlets and see how they’re reaching their client base. Set the bar high and find inspiration from larger brands. Search for some example websites and make note of elements that work well.

With well established brands you’ll notice that their messaging is consistent and visuals are cohesive. This is something to keep in mind while you’re designing and assembling your messaging for your online presence.

The more preparation in place before developing assets to put online the easier it will be when you’re ready to start.

What’s your niche?

After you’ve reached critical mass with the intel you’ve gathered it’s time to make your statement. While you know what you do is great, how will you share this with your audience? What is it that sets you apart? There’s a reason you do what you do and why your excited to share it with everyone, crafting how you market this to your audience is key.

Startup in motion.

As mentioned above, having a consistent message and cohesive visuals are important when marketing your brand. Educating and exciting your potential client base regardless of the medium should be a priority. Once your website and social media accounts are up focus on growing your audience and encouraging interaction with your users.

Lego was once a company struggling to survive in the mid to late nineties. It wasn’t until they embraced their core audience and listened to suggestions that they then started outputting what customers wanted and regained popularity.

The same can be said for plenty of companies. Growing a community around your brand doesn’t happen overnight, but consistency and striving to grow with your audience will help get you there.

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Building a Fast, Minimal, Mobile Website

As a musician I sometimes find a part in a song that I don’t care for, it might just not sit well with the rest of the song. So I try a bunch or different ideas hoping lightening strikes. Sometimes this works, other times it’s best to step back and look at the whole song, the bigger picture. The same applies to design, development and marketing in a lot of instances.

Looking at what your main goal is instead of changing and tweaking things to kind of work is a better process to utilize in a lot of scenarios. Asking yourself questions like “what message do I want to communicate?” or “what is easiest for my customers?” can help you solve with an end goal and then allow you to work out what steps you need to meet it.

The idea of having one main goal and the steps to reach it certainly isn’t new, but it’s something that can be overlooked.

news-solutions-message

Clear Messaging

In a lot of cases I’ve been approached with lists of problems that a website has and the ideas of how it can be “fixed” just with a new layout. In this case I have to ask what the main goal of the website is. Is it solely for informational purposes? If so, what is the hierarchy of information that your users should find when visiting? If the website is e-commerce driven then you certainly want the process of shopping to be simple and intuitive.

Having a clear vision that’s communicated to your users is key regardless if it’s for a website, social media campaign or even business cards. Putting yourself in the shoes of who you’re reaching for a moment and really asking yourself if your messaging is clear can be extremely helpful.

So grab some coffee, and put pen to paper. What’s your goal?

 

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Building a Fast, Minimal, Mobile Website

I thought it would be insightful to share some ideas to help any one that’s in the market to hire a designer/web developer for their next project and what you can prepare before starting your search. Since in my experience I’ve heard plenty of horror stories of projects gone awry or completely out of scope from the initial concept, why not share some starting points before looking to hire your next creative pro?

Who are you? Where are you going?

A lot of times a project comes to a halt before it even gets started when there’s no content to work with. I personally enjoy learning more about a client’s profession and what their goals are for a project but no one knows more about what they do than you. So before logo concepts or worrying about making sure your website is responsive, start with a simple and clear branding statement. What services or products do you offer? What is unique about your brand that your customers should be really excited about? Why should you be a customer’s number one choice?

With a clear branding statement together you have a great starting point with how you want to be perceived. You should be thrilled to get your name out there and that excitement should come across in your messaging to your potential customer base. “Now can I build my website with flaming text and a custom mouse cursor?” you ask. Not quite yet.

client-questionnaire-2

Point B

The more of a plan you have in place, and the easier it is to outline to your designer/developer, the more streamlined your collaboration will be. Is your brand already established or are you looking to develop your brand? Do you intend to re-haul the company logo prior to a new website or mobile app?

Each step in the process can greatly effect your final product so it’s a great benefit to have a guide in place of what assets you may need from the ground up before sending that email to get an estimate on a project. Prepare a checklist of what you’ll need and what your long term goals are.

The more accurate information about what you need now and where you want to be in 6 months – 1 year could help your designer/developer in offering helpful solutions to get you there. It also gives them a better understanding of how to estimate your project and keeps the budget in a good spot!

client-questionnaire-3

Time to hire?

Now that you have your template in place of what assets you’ll need and your branding statement it’s time to start the search. If you have a vision in mind it’s always great to assemble some examples of what’s inspiring you for your project. What elements do you like about a design or functionality of an app/website? It’s in your best interest to find someone with a portfolio of work that has great examples of what you’re looking for and not someone that’s just cost effective.

Try to find the balance between budget and best potential. You’ll want someone that invests interest in what you’re doing and can offer helpful insights that will help your project. Finding a professional isn’t always easy but with the right information already in place to send them, it will make the hiring process that much easier.

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Building a Fast, Minimal, Mobile Website

Redline Photo is a leader in midwest motorsports event photography. They approached me with a new brand challenge for their first ever motorsports event that would have a cohesive look with their current identity.

The target

Given the audience RLP has grown within the motorsports world they knew that designing a brand that would be similar to their current identity would only help inform their audience of who is behind their event and lend credibility that it’s Redline behind it. With that I suggested “Redline Run” which would allow for a simple logo mark much like the company logo and describe what the event is in a straightforward fashion.

The design

In keeping with the same font and color scheme I knew that advertising assets could be overlooked so we set out to create a style with the imagery we used for social media assets to ensure that each would stand out and draw users into the information. Saturated and vignetted styled imagery is the overall theme I chose for social media promotion. This allowed for the simple red/white logo to “pop” more and draw attention to the new brand mark.

As for videography, I wanted to create “suspense” in leading up to the event. Since it’s the inaugural event the idea of capitalizing on the “what’s it all about?” factor seemed like a fun theme to build off of. With short teaser footage and the right audio backing I felt it would gain more of a response and leave their audience wanting more.

Redline Run Social Media Asset

The response

Event branding is an exciting challenge that requires focus on visuals and messaging across all mediums. By continuing to tweak and update the focus of messaging we started to see interest grow and social media has been the biggest player for advertising. If you’re up for a fun day at the race track consider joining us there!

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Building a Fast, Minimal, Mobile Website

We’ve finally made a little time in between projects to rehaul our site. Since most of our clients are utilizing WordPress for their projects we thought it was only fitting to make the switch ourselves and try and keep the updates going.

Along with the website redesign we’ve also made minor updates to our branding. Here’s to future endeavors and more innovative work!

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Building a Fast, Minimal, Mobile Website

The Silent Radio debut album is now available. For this project we designed the CD packaging, website and social media elements. Need a fix for 90’s alternative rock? Take a listen!

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Evolving your brand
  • November 16, 2015

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ForYouDesign is a web and graphic identity development firm established in 2001. Designing to enhance and capture the idea of what every client envisions for their project.

We cover everything from web design and development, hosting, branding, content management solutions and more.

Our team is intentionally small, eclectic, and skilled; with our in-house expertise, we provide sharp and innovative work.

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