Web Designers: Don't Be Scared of White Space 

white space in web designMany web designers feel the need to fill the screen with their design. They avoid white space as if they’re masking a pixelated plague that threatens to thwart users, shepherding them away from their site and nudging them deeper into the ether of the internet, never to return.

But is white space really that bad? Should we fill every available pixel with ‘stuff’ in an attempt to create an engaging web site?

What User’s Want

Users want clever, content-rich websites, don’t they? They want colors, images, words, widgets, feeds, links, tools and ‘stuff’, don’t they? The more content, the merrier, isn’t it? If we can cram enough carrots on the screen and tantalize with enough temptations, we can encourage our users to spend, can’t we? Surely, the more content we have on our web pages, the more chance we have of keeping people on our site and converting them, right? Wrong. It’s all wrong.

Unfitting Distractions

In actual fact, when you avoid white space and remove the available screen real estate, you do the opposite of what you’re actually aiming for: you don’t encourage engagement and conversions at all. Instead, you distract. 

Distractions aren't good when you're looking to convert your browsers into paying customers because distractions, well… distract.

When you start adding distractions in an attempt to meet every single need or want that every potential visitor might, at some point need or want, you end up sacrificing your user's experience. It gives your users more opportunities to get distracted and more chance to forget what they were doing and leave your site.

Embrace White Space

Showing some skin and being brave enough to embrace white space will actually help you increase conversions. 

“But how can removing ‘stuff' and having less on our pages help us convert?”

Simple: by removing the irrelevant and focusing solely on your site or page’s objective1. Everything that’s not purposefully edging your user closer to a conversion is a distraction and is vulnerable to the chop. And be brutal because nothing else matters more than your single page objective.

Embracing white space also helps you design clean, focused and simple web pages that are esthetically pleasing. It helps you space things out and direct your users eyes towards relevant content. This, in turn, can help users feel more comfortable and less overwhelmed while they’re on your site, which genuinely can keep them on longer and nudge them along their path to purchase. 

Users Want White Space

Users don’t really want clever websites. They don’t want to be overwhelmed. They may well be easily distracted, but providing willing distractions won’t help you increase conversions. Your users will only end up converting if you make things easy, simple and distraction-free. And you could do much worse than cleaning up your site and making more use of that white space.


1 http://www.fasttrackteam.com/the-big-mistake-web-designers-make-and-how-to-fix-it.aspx

View User Profile for Power Site Power Site is subsidiary of Fast Track. It's a robust, customizable website solution package especially developed to help small businesses how to leverage their website as a marketing tool. Follow Power Site on Twitter as @FTPowerSite.
Posted by Power Site Tuesday, August 12, 2014 11:12:00 PM Categories: web design website

Landing Pages Vs Micro Sites: Which Should You Choose? 

Landing Pages Vs Micro Sites

Micro sites and landing pages are often used interchangeably. However, to get the most out of either, you need to understand the benefits and pitfalls of each. 

In our opinion, there are specific instances where micro sites will provide more value than landing pages and, conversely, occasions where the opposite is true.

What Is a Micro Site?

Micro sites are typically temporary websites, often with 2 or more pages1 that are created for specific marketing purposes such as:

  • Promoting specific products
  • Limited edition or anniversary products
  • Sales, deals or offers
  • Lead generations
  • Email subscriptions
  • New product launches
  • Re-releases
  • Brand awareness exercises

So What’s a Landing Page?

Similar to a micro site, a landing page can be used for the same marketing purposes, although landing pages tend to consist of a single page, often with a prominent call-to-action (CTA) or a form of some kind2.

Both landing pages and micro sites can lead to the generation of leads, conversions and sales by engaging users and providing value, but which ones should you use and when?

When to Use a Micro Site

Micro sites are better suited for times where you need to do some convincing. Let’s say, you’re releasing a new product into the market that no one is aware of. You’re likely going to have to convince those that land on your site that this product is right for them. Micro sites are great for this, as you can dedicate a page to each feature, provide tutorials of how to use it, screen shots or images, videos, stories, social recommendations and any other form of content that might persuade the user to make a purchase or enquire.

With micro sites, you have more time with your user and, if you make something that’s engaging enough, you’ll have more attention. You can turn a sceptic into a friend right there and then if you’re respectful, provide genuine value and don’t ask for too much too soon3.

Micro sites are best placed following a relatively subtle CTA, such as a flat banner ad, a Tweet or a ‘find out more’-style prompt. When the user lands on a micro site, they ought to be inquisitive. This gives you the opportunity to engage them by allowing them to prod around and investigate. All the while, you’re priming them to convert, so the more dynamic and personalised, the better4.

When to Use Landing Pages

Landing pages, on the other hand, are best served when you've already convinced someone or if the convincing is done somewhere else. For example: if you see a 'Free Coke, sign up today' label on a Coke bottle, then a landing page could be used to simply finish off the transaction. Or if you’re having a flash sale or you’re discounting an existing product, you can use a landing page following a strong CTA, such as “Get 25% off X when you sign up today”. Here, the user has already been convinced as they:

  • Know the product,
  • Are aware of the offer
  • Have built up some interest in the deal
  • Understand what they need to do to benefit (i.e. sign up)

Again, a landing page can be used here to seal the deal.

Landing pages, then, should be free from distraction, include a strong CTA and be consistent with the preceding interaction. If the user sees “Free Coke, sign up today” in red and white with an parasol and sunglasses on the Coke bottle, then the landing page should use the same design, the same tone and reinforce the same message.

Alternatively, you can use landing pages following content where the user has already spent time engaging. Here, the user has again already been sold to elsewhere, such as a blog post about your product, or a rich media ad where users can interact with your proposal. When they land on your landing page following an engagement elsewhere, they are again in a position where they have an urge to convert. All you need to do with your landing page is help them over the finish line.

Micro Site Pitfalls

Both micro sites and landing page aren’t without their faults. Those most notable for micro sites include:

  • They’re typically more expensive to implement,
  • They take longer to create, as there’s more content,
  • They’re harder to maintain for the same reason,
  • They take longer to analyze,
  • More pages = more room for drop outs,

If you don’t position micro sites correctly, you’ll have trouble, too. For example, if you have a strong, long or informative CTA leading up to the micro site, and the user is ready to convert when they land there, they could be distracted by the content, loose momentum and drop out. So go easy on the convincing in your CTAs, let the micro site do the work.

Landing Page Pitfalls

Alternatively, with landing pages, if you don’t provide sufficient motivation or incentive before the user lands on the page, you’ll have a harder time converting users through a single page. In this instance, the inclusion of additional content such as videos will help increase the conversion rate of landing pages with poor CTAs preceding them.

Landing pages are relatively quick and cheap to create, so plenty of brands don’t put as much thought into landing pages as they should. They can sometimes be an after thought or a rushed job. Be sure to take enough time, do your testing and optimising first and strive for a high single digit conversion rate5.

The Choice Is Yours

Although seemingly similar in theory, micro sites and landing pages are two entirely different beasts in reality. Choosing the right one to use in your given circumstance could be the difference between generating leads and making sales and crying yourself to sleep at night, thinking about the money you’ve wasted.

Don’t make the same mistakes as everyone else and get it right first time.


1 http://www.slideshare.net/Regalix/the-success-of-microsite-marketing-strategy

2 http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/what-is-a-landing-page-ht

3 http://www.slideshare.net/marketingexperiments/webclinic-microsites-testedv6-25273142
4 http://www.marketingprofs.com/8/improve-lead-capture-conversion-turn-landing-page-into-microsite-parsa.asp

5 http://dannybrown.me/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Landing-Page-Handbook.pdf 


Wednesday, August 6, 2014 1:40:00 AM Categories: B2B content development inbound marketing landing pages website

The BIG Mistake Web Designers Make and How to Fix It 

web designer mistakes

When creating websites, many designers completely forget to ask themselves some of the most important questions:

  • What is this website here to do?
  • Why does this page exist?
  • What, specifically, do we want the user to do here? 

By reminding yourself of your objectives throughout the design process, you can avoid adding useless noise and clutter, and instead focus on increasing leads and conversions.


It’s Easy to Forget

Some websites tend to exist without a real purpose and perform poorly. This doesn’t happen by design, it happens because people lose sight of what’s important. They forget their objectives. For example:

  • Designers are told to design, 
  • Developers are told to develop, 
  • Bloggers are told to blog, 
  • The SEO team are told to do SEO

Site or page objectives should be at the heart of a site’s design. But, with staff focusing on their day job, sometimes the over-arching goal can become buried underneath the virtual pile of work on a designer’s desk. Or sometimes, the quest for aesthetics and the practicalities of functionality can cloud an objective and force it to take a back seat.


Where’s Your Banana?

In his book The Big Red Fez, Seth Godin mentions that internet users are like monkeys (but, sometimes, not quite as cute). Your call to action (CTA), or your objective, is the banana. All the monkey is interested in is the banana. So, if you hide the banana at the foot of the page, make it small and blue, what chance does the monkey have of finding it? 

But, if you make the banana BIG, clear and obvious, you stand a much better chance.


How to Meet Objectives Consistently

Whatever your single, specific objective is for each page, this is where your design efforts should start and end. Take whatever it is that you want the user to do, your objective, and make it stupidly simple accomplish. 

Here’s some ideas on how you might do that:

  • Want users to sign up to email notifications? Put it front and center.
  • Want your blog post to be shared? Put the important stuff in the first paragraph.
  • Want to increase sales? Stick your most popular product on your Home page. 
  • Want your ‘Enquiries’ menu option clicked more? Put it top of the list.
How to Fix Objective Oversights

Remind yourself of your objective constantly when making design decisions. One of the ways to do this is to use a little mind trick in order to get your objectives buried in your brain. Create a trigger that reminds you to check whether your design meets your objectives.

Remember our monkey and its banana? Good. Now, close your eyes (after you’ve read this sentence) and just imagine that banana sitting right next to the Save button in your software. (And open.) Now, every time you reach for the Save button, imagine that banana.

Let it remind you to put the banana front and center. Let it urge you to make your objective obvious to the user and easy to accomplish. Then, take a quick glance at your work and ask yourself whether everything you’ve just done is designed to meet your single objective for that page, site, tool or whatever it is you’re working on. 

If you imagine the banana next to the save button often enough, it will become the trigger for checking your design against your objective every time you save your work.


Don’t Make the Same Mistakes

Now that you know the secret as to why there’s so many terrible websites out there, don’t go making the same mistakes.

  • Stick to a single objective
  • Make it easy to accomplish
  • Keep reminding yourself of your objective during the design
  • Remember the monkey and its banana

Follow those steps and you’ll be ditching the clutter and rubbish and consistently designing focused, optimised websites that generate more leads and conversions.

View User Profile for
Posted by Monday, July 21, 2014 2:47:00 PM Categories: web design website

Five Security Tips You Need To Implement 

By Steve Hoag

Website security tips

Website security is a huge issue right now. Heartbleed has affected many people. Homeland Security claims it’s no safe to use Internet Explorer anymore. A new threat, ‘Covert Redirect’ recently reared its ugly head last week. Multiple US agencies and Fortune 500 companies were affected by threats like these. That’s why it’s becoming increasingly important to maintain a high degree of security on your website. You never know when you may be the target of a cyber-attack. With that being said, check out these five tips you can implement right now to keep your site secure:

Restrict users from uploading files to the website server.

One of the easiest ways to boost your website’s security Is by preventing users from accessing your server files or uploading their own. Clever hackers may eventually find their way in, but don’t make it easy for them by allowing them to upload malicious files.

Require passwords that use a variety of character types.

There are too many people out there that have easy to guess passwords for important websites. Your password should never include your name, or anything else that’s easy to guess. Make sure that your website requires users to choose passwords that include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.

Keep your website software updated.

CMS developers will often come out with new updates to address performance, security, and technology issue. Always make sure to update your site to take advantage of the latest developments! Hackers look for websites that aren’t updated, because their security systems aren’t up to snuff.

Read the news!

This may seem like a no brainer, but staying up to date with current events is an easy way to stay aware of new security threats and how to avoid them. Imagine if Fortune 500 companies decided to stop keeping up with current events and never heard of HeartBleed. They would have a huge problem on their hands, and have no clue what they were dealing with! A scary proposition indeed.


View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Monday, May 19, 2014 11:53:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web development web trends website

How To Improve Website Accessibility 

By Steve Hoag

how to optimize your website accessibility

Website accessibility is all about making sure anyone and everyone can access your website. There are many users out there who have disabilities or may be using devices that require additional accommodations. That being said, some things that can be done to improve accessibility will improve the user experience for everyone. Check out these tips on how to optimize your website accessibility:

Ensure your color scheme has an appropriate amount of contrast.

Color blindness is a very common condition among users. Make sure that your color scheme has enough contrast so that people with color blindness can still distinguish what exactly is on the page. Tools like colorfilter.wickline.org help to mimic colorblindness on your website so that you can see where to make changes.

Utilize alternative content where necessary.

Alternative content is useful for users with vision/hearing problems.  Alternative content means using text for non-text content. For instance, using words to describe images, or including transcripts along with videos for users who are hard of hearing. A text only version of your website can also be useful for users with slower internet connections or devices that are outdated.

Utilize skip links.

Skip links allow speech software to skip over links/navigation items that are repeated on every page. This is useful for people who are vision impaired and don’t want to listen to the same menu items being repeated on every page. Skip links allow users to skip over repetitive links so that they can access the primary page content.

Explain Select Menus.

The default value on select menus should describe what the menu is intended for. For instance, if a form is asking for your bodyweight it should label the default value of the select menu as ‘select body weight’ instead of leaving it blank or including number with no explanation. This will help to ensure everyone clearly understands the purpose of forms and fields.

Use descriptive link names.

Use descriptive links whenever you can! A link that says ‘click here’ isn’t nearly as useful as ‘click here to download Windows 2010.’ When in doubt, be more descriptive. 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, April 29, 2014 11:24:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design web development website
Page 6 of 20 << < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >>