• HOME
  • ABOUT US
  • OUR SERVICES
  • ONLINE MARKETING
  • PORTFOLIO
  • CONTACT US
  • DBurns Design
  • news

    Archive for the ‘Website Design’ Category

    True inspiration leads to innovative designs

    Friday, September 6th, 2013

    In the design world, imitation is a big problem. With a quick peek at another designer’s portfolio and a few short hours on Photoshop, an average-at-best designer can duplicate just about anything. Both intentional and unintentional imitation has become the current state of the web. More and more designs are starting to look the same.

    Innovation, not imitation, is critical for the success of your design

    Many new designers get their start in the crowd sourcing community. Many designers feel pressured to put out the coolest, flashiest, and most “stand-outish” designs in hope that a buyer will like it and pay them. In an attempt to gain more business, designers will copy a high-ranking design from a competing designer.

    Some tech-illiterate buyers will even purchase the copy of an established website without even realizing it. Despite all the problems that go along with that, the designer responsible still gets paid. Many designers have come to the conclusion that they can call a design “their own” just by manipulating one or two features from another person’s design. Not only is it unprofessional, but it’s also inherently bad for the intended audience.

    It’s critical that up-and-coming designers make a name for themselves. If a new designer gets started by pirating a website, they run the risk of damaging their reputation before they’ve even established one.

    How to get inspired

    If you type in “how to get inspired” into Google, you’ll get anything from “meditate outside barefoot at sunrise” to “join support groups to discuss your feelings.” You can sharpen the line between imitation and inspiration without jumping through any hurdles. Here’s how:

    1). Determine what you need: What are your website’s requirements? Your main job, above all else, is to guide your users through the content. Content comes first. All of the elements that you implement into your designs need to address the content issue first. A user can’t effectively navigate through a flashy, over-stylized, aimless website that simply “looks cool.”

    2). Define what you want to create: Ask yourself a few questions. What am I trying to design? What will the user need? What will the user want? Why am I even looking for inspiration in the first place? Once you can answer those questions, go and look at things. Check out blogs. Take a walk. Read magazines. Once you have a general idea of what you want, go visit Awwards.com, Behance.com, and Dribbble.com to finalize your vision.

    3). Dissect the designs: After you’ve finished observing designs, figure out what made those particular designs so successful. Figure out what worked and why something didn’t work. “Inspiration” isn’t duplicating something from Awwards.com. “Inspiration” is realizing something is awesome and appreciating that awesomeness. That’s it.

    Observe and appreciate certain design elements. Understand how whitespace influenced the feel of a particular design. It’s hard to innovate when you’re stuck on something that has already been done. If you look at certain designs as the only way to accomplish something, then you’ve hit a roadblock.

    While you scroll through numerous designs, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re just trends. Who cares if it’s the most beautiful assortment of pixels that you’ve ever seen—if it won’t work on your design, there’s no point in obsessing over it. Ask yourself, “Is that flat hot-pink parallax design with the horizontal scrolling really what my website needs?

    Imitating another designer’s work dilutes your credibility and results in a sub-par design. Find the best solution for your user and you’ll have the best design you could ever create. You can appreciate and absorb fantastic design—but once you boot up Photoshop you should do your own thing.

    Design for the developer, the client, and the user

    Thursday, August 29th, 2013

    “You are not the user,” “the client is not the user,” and “the company is not the user” are three dissentious phrases that are often said in meetings, discussions, and articles about user-centered design. These simple phrases imply that the client’s goals aren’t the same as a user’s goals. And that’s the thing—the client’s goals aren’t the same. Despite the differences, developers and designers must learn to balance both business and user goals to reach the ultimate user-centered design.

    It’s not always about the user

    The CEO of a company, the board of directors, and the sales director often feel that they (and only they), know what a customer wants and needs. These upper-level roles dictate design—it doesn’t matter if they’ve been presented with data that suggests a feature isn’t working or isn’t functioning the way the user wants it. In reality, these higher-up business people are essentially in the same position as the engineers and designers; they are too involved in the product to know what the user wants. At this point, the guy with the biggest paycheck calls all the shots.

    Clients are hard-pressed for money, time, people, patience, and knowledge. It doesn’t matter if there’s a new feature that you know you can completely “wow” the user with. If the company can’t produce the content for the amazing feature or can’t hire staff to support the amazing feature, then the amazing feature can’t happen and it won’t happen.

    For example, one well-known B2B company sold large and expensive equipment to small businesses. However, they sold their products through a long-tail sales process instead of through an online store. Data showed that the quality of the company’s leads drastically improved when the user could search for the product online, read reviews, and gain more details about specific products. In response, the B2B company built an online catalog of their products with photos, descriptions, and detailed technical specs. Although the user was happy, the manufactures were not. The B2B company sold products from a wide variety of manufacturers; however they neglected to secure partnerships with each manufacturer. The B2B company didn’t have the right to access the manufacturers’ images and copy them onto their website.

    The B2B company had data from surveys and tests that supported the need for the online store feature. In this case, the designers and developers didn’t have to argue the necessity for the feature. The business-side interfered with the design-side. Designers have to take into account that the client is a user, too.

    The client-user “pain points” include lack of content, lack of resources, lack of personnel, and lack of knowledge
    Put yourself in the client’s shoes. Does the feature lack content? Will the client have to hire a writer, videographer, or a photographer? Does the feature lack resources? Does the client need to purchase additional software? Many engineers, project managers, and designers simply cut out the proposed feature instead of addressing these barriers.

    Create solutions that meet the needs of the user and the client

    Create fallbacks and design for empty states. You can code if/else statements that achieve a goal of consistency across templates. You can even create a fallback that’s as simple as “Image Unavailable” for a specific item.

    Create designs that will meet the future needs of the user and the client. For example, a designer should implement designs that can maintain their effectiveness and usability over the long run. It should be easy to add or remove content to the design at any time.

    Track where your users are running into issues. Keep track of when certain products or categories need unique content created. For example, instead of shelling out the cash to produce new images of everything in your 1000+ catalog, use your data to determine which 30-40 categories can be addressed first.

    User-centered design isn’t a war between the public user and the client. By balancing business goals with user goals, you can create a win-win solution for everyone involved.

    A Website Design Company Keeps You Well-Dressed Online

    Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

    When you’re in business online, your website is more than just your base of operations. It’s the first impression that people get of you, and of the goods and services that you offer. It’s like an outfit that you put on to meet your customers, much the same way that you would dress to look your best when attending a job interview or a consultation with your potential clients. Employers’ and customers’ first impressions are so vital, online as well as in the 3D world, that many people who work online choose to hire a website design company to make sure they image they send is exactly what customers and clients want to see.

    When you’re meeting someone important face-to-face, like a potential employer or customer, you want to look professional. Depending on the nature of the meeting, that can mean any number of different things, but you’re going to want to look neat, clean and well dressed. People can tell right away if you didn’t take the time to make yourself look presentable. It’s the same with your website. A site made by a website design company stands out from all the amateur efforts out there the same way that a person dressed for business stands out in a casual crowd.

    Part of looking professional is dressing appropriately for the job. If you’re a lawyer meeting new clients for the first time, you’re probably going to dress very differently from an artist meeting a potential customer. The lawyer will most likely wear a sharp suit to show a meticulous and detail-oriented personality, while the artist may wear something colorful and eye-catching to emphasize their love of beauty. A website design company knows when to dress your website up in serious, professional colors and when to jazz it up with fun, fanciful extras. It’s all about the impression that you want to send.

    Perhaps the most elusive part of dressing for success is the ability to let your true self shine through. Nobody feels comfortable when they feel that they are in disguise. A business outfit can be brightened up with a cheerful tie or scarf without losing the smart, professional appearance it’s meant to project. When people size up an outfit, they see the personal details as well as the overall impression. It’s the same with a business website. Even though your clients are looking at a website, they will enjoy the little touches that let your personality shine through. A website design company knows how to add that vital human element that lets customers get to know the person behind the page.

    image002

    No matter what business you’re in, you wouldn’t show up to a meeting or an interview looking as though you just rolled out of bed. You want to look competent, professional and totally in control of your image. But since people will likely see your website before they see you, it’s up to your website to give you that well-dressed and professional look that your clients want to see. How do you want to look? Let our website design company dress you up in style.

    The World of Los Angeles Website Design Is About More Than Looking Good

    Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

    Doing business in Los Angeles is a fast-paced undertaking. So is doing business in the high-speed world of the Internet. That’s why many people find that using a website to bring part of their LA business online is a profitable and satisfying move. But just like any business endeavor, a website has to be handled correctly or it won’t be a profitable business strategy. There is much more to a website than just putting your company online. Hiring a professional web designer to help you navigate the world of Los Angeles Website Design can make your choice to enter the online business world one of the best you’ve ever made.

    First of all, a Los Angeles website design professional can make your website look good. That sounds incredibly obvious, but when was the last time you spent more than a few seconds looking over a website that looked as though it was made by someone who didn’t even understand how the Internet works? The answer is probably never. Nobody wants to waste their time with a website that doesn’t even look like it’s going to work. A professionally designed website stands out… but an amateurishly designed website stands out even more, in exactly the way you don’t want it to! Make sure your site puts your best online foot forward. People will notice.

    Next, a professionally designed website can attract a clientele that you never had access to before. Some people shop almost exclusively online. Others can’t come to your place of business in the real world because they live too far away. And you should never underestimate the power of casual online browsing. Your most profitable customer may be someone who wandered onto your website while aimlessly surfing the web! Los Angeles website design professionals know how to turn your website into a recruitment machine to help you reach everyone who arrives on your site!

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a professional Los Angeles website design firm can help you use your website to make money. Not only can they transform a successful website into a successful online store, they know all the tricks of the trade when it comes to using your website to bolster all aspects of your business. A website professional can make sure that your company shows up first in a web search and take it from there, with improved shopping utilities, targeted advertising and other powerful online business tools.

    image001

    Whether or not you are computer-savvy, the Internet is a huge part of today’s business world. It is a fast-paced environment that takes skill and knowledge to navigate. Since website design isn’t everyone’s chosen field of expertise, a Los Angeles website design firm is the best choice for professionals who want their website to accurately reflect their business to their online clientele. Why let your website be anything less than the best? Contact DBurns Design, to help you turn your website into the profitable and satisfying business tool that it was meant to be.

    Website Design Firms are Form Following Function

    Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

    Finding the right website design firm is critical. If you want to have your site rank number one in the online world there are many factors that need to be put in play to make this happen. Your design firm is of key importance. It is essentially the architect for your online office, that point of contact that is the go between your customers and your business. In the same way as the look and location of our physical office is important to us, so too is your online presence. You take pride and consider every detail of your physical office. The same should be true of your online space — your website. Your website is likely to be the first point of contact between you and your customers. You will want to make a good impression.

    Think of a website design firm as an architectural firm. These are professionals who know your needs better than you do. You might come in with an initial idea of what you have in mind for your website and with the help of experienced professionals your idea will blossom into something you could have never imagined on your own. A website design firm understands how to blend and balance critical forms, technical specification, aesthetics, and functionality and user friendliness. The information on a website is much more than meets the eye. Architecturally speaking a website’s coding is very important not only in terms of form but also for navigation, speed and overall consistency with no bugs.

    In this way website design is much different than in print media. Print can be taken at face value although there is much more than the printing press behind what make a magazine possible, for example, layout and design as well as editing. On the other hand website architecture is something that is always evolving and can be continually modified as needed. The process of SOE, search engine optimization, itself is an evolutionary process where internet “robots” are constantly combing through and checking and updating a website’s information in real time. A website design firm is keenly away of SEO and knows best practices when it comes to creating a sight that will come up on top of a google search — something every business wants. Another important and more recent aspect of website architecture is the fact that more and more people are accessing websites through their mobile devices. A website now must be mobile ready and this also happens in the background. A good website design firm will make the most of all the new forms of internet browsing.

    image001

    All in all, a good website design firm will take your need for a website and reinterpret it as a kind of online, living entity. This living thing must be nurtured and fostered; given what it need to flourish in a jungle of other similar entities. Competition is fierce but a good design firm is a step ahead of the rest in terms of architectural understanding, SEO and stylistic composition. For all your website design needs, check us out online today.

    How Participatory Design Can Create A Better User Experience

    Thursday, August 1st, 2013

    Participatory design focuses on the user experience from the get-go. It uses real-time input and feedback from participating users to determine the customers needs, saving your company both time and money. Participatory design is not crowd-sourced design, but something more powerful. It builds off the natural intuition and flow of real users to enable designers and developers to steer the software towards the needs of the customer. By switching the emphasis from features to usability, the whole user-experience can be instantly and vastly improved during the crucial early stages of development and design.

    It seems obvious to suggest that software needs to be designed with the user in mind, but it is so easy to get caught up in the features and functionality of our beloved projects that we often forget that real people, probably without so much love for technology, are our target market.

    Why Use Participatory Design?

    Using participatory design means putting the needs of your customers first and thinking about them through every step of the process. You are not designing software for yourself, so it shouldn’t be developed and designed with your own needs in mind. In fact, you probably don’t know what your real users need until they show you.
    When you think of real-life examples around the world, it is easy to see how a lack of thought on the part of the user can result in bad experiences. Shopping malls without escalators, or ramps for wheelchairs, restaurants with uncomfortable metal chairs or long-distance buses without toilets are just a few examples of common mistakes that could have been avoided with some simple forethought for the final user. These types of avoidable shortfalls are all too common in the real world, and have frequently made their way into the online world too.

    Understanding Your Users Needs

    The best way to determine what your users need, what their problems are and how you can provide them with something to solve those problems, is to ask them questions; lots of questions. Let them talk but don’t interrupt them. Let them sketch but don’t guide them. Let them suggest but don’t encourage them.
    It is important that they feel comfortable, in a natural ‘setting’ and can feel open to communicate their needs with you. This is where participatory design finds its strengths. It allows designers and developers to observe users in a natural environment, but with the added benefit of gaining real-time feedback by creating an open dialogue. Designers and developers are often amazed at the results of these sessions, seeing their software being used in ways they had never even imagined previously.
    Not everything is handed over to the opinion of the participants however. They are simply used as a guide to gauge what your project may be missing or what you might need to remove. As Steve Jobs famously once said, “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” However, they do know what they need. Let the users show you what they need, and then you can then show them what they want. This process allows for a nice balance of creativity and control, without sacrificing on the user-experience.

    Find Your Audience

    Creating ‘personas’ is a popular way of putting the creators in the place of the customer and has been a process used for a while now in designing software. However, ‘personas’ have their weaknesses. Characteristics of these ‘personas’ are often adapted to suit the direction of the project, with the developer or designers best interest in mind. They are often vague and allow for oversights in the design. With real users, their needs will not change. They will remain certain of what they want and will consistently communicate their ideas to you. Real people help you to target your primary audience and, perhaps more importantly, those who you do not want to target. This helps to define and refine your project, continually improving the user-experience.

    Participatory design allows participants to draw, write and talk about their ideas and needs. Listen to their feedback and identify consistencies, patterns and irregularities in their criticism. The most important thing is to find a way of documenting the results. This feedback will become crucial during later design sessions, so it is important to be able to refer back to earlier research. Resist the temptation to alter their words or drawings to suit your own feature requests. Make sure you provide lots of paper for drawing, so participants can make revisions (without your influence) on different pieces of paper, thereby creating a de-facto ‘version control’.

    After you analyze the results from a few people, you will begin to see patterns emerge. It is important to analyze these patterns and gather the data. This is your audience telling you something, so you need to listen. This crucial insight into how people are thinking about and using your software is a gold mine of valuable information for designing your product.

    Participatory design should be embraced as an extremely useful and beneficial tool to help you design software. If you can effectively make use of the method, you will immediately reap the benefits of better, more user-friendly software for everyone.

    The different components of personalization

    Thursday, June 20th, 2013

    Many people have started to confuse “responsive design” with “personalization.” It’s easy to do. It’s only natural to come to the conclusion that “responsive” refers to the way people “respond” to an experience. However, responsive design is nothing more than adjusting a website’s layout based on a user’s screen size.

    Personalization, on the other hand, is a broader concept. Any single piece of data that can communicate context about the user, the user’s environment, what the user likes to do, etc. can be used to personalize an experience. Yelp, Google, Amazon, Netflix, Bluekai, and Doubleclick are all companies that use personalization tactics.

    If your company is planning a project or a release that involves personalization, it’s critical to separate various types of tactics in order to make the best possible decision about which to implement and how far you want to take it. Here are a few of the most popular tactics:

    Responsive design:

    It’s becoming increasingly frustrating for users to view certain websites due to the screen size of the device he or she is using to access the internet. Smart phones are becoming the number one way people view the web. Responsive design personalizes a particular layout more than the content itself. It’s about adjusting the message to the device, not adjusting the message to the person.

    Autocomplete:

    When a user types something in to a Google search box, autocomplete “personalizes” what it thinks the user is looking for based on what the user has searched for in the past. When developers design search with autocomplete into their applications, it’s important to make certain decisions about how they want it to work. Some companies benefit from skewing results toward marketing objectives. Some skew results toward new content.

    Geotargeting:

    Geotargeting uses location based off of GPS, IP address, or ISP. You can gain a lot of insight just by knowing where your users are located.

    Behavioral targeting:

    Behavioral targeting uses your browsing history to “discover” your likes and dislikes. However, instead of using data from a single site, it uses data from all the websites you’ve visited. It’s why you might see an ad for Niemen Marcus while someone else sees an ad for Target. This type of personalization is slightly disturbing. These “internet-based advertising” companies claim they are helping consumers see “relevant” ads.

    For example, let’s say you’re looking to book a hotel. You land on a hotel’s website and start browsing prices. Before you even arrive on the “prices” page, the hotel has already “scraped” your LinkedIn information, cross-referenced your job title with GlassDoor to find your salary, and sets the price of a room based on what they think you should pay. Maybe they discovered you have a dog. Now, not only are they overcharging you for your room, but you’re also forced to look at dog food ads.

    Collaborative filtering:

    Collaborative filtering is similar to behavioral targeting; it’s just a little less creepy. Collaborative filtering employs your browsing history as the data/context. Instead of using “popular,” collaborative filtering websites like Amazon use “what most people bought after viewing this item.” These systems have complicated algorithms, but if you can master them, you will reap the rewards.

    It is critical for designers that use these personalized experiences to understand what is and isn’t possible. It’s important to understand our users and be respectful of what they are willing to accept. It takes a lot of effort to win back a user you’ve scared off.

    A Website Designer for All Things

    Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

    A website can be many things. For some people it’s a personal hideaway, and for others it’s a booming place of business. Some people use websites as portfolios or resumes, and others use them as social networking tools able to connect with the whole world. By their very nature, websites are intensely customizable. With limitless possibilities, people can be extremely passionate about making their website into a creation of beauty, efficiency and unique personality. As a website designer, it’s your job to combine your expertise with a client’s vision to create a site to remember.

    The first thing to remember when creating a website for a client is that this website, in one way or another is their baby.  Whether the site itself contains their work or is simply an extension of their business, they have a great deal invested in this website. Even if their questions and concerns are things you’ve heard many times before, take the time to listen as though this client were the only client in the world. That way, if you need to suggest alternatives to some of their ideas, they will be satisfied that you heard what they were trying to say and that you have a good reason for needing to change it. A website designer should handle every website they make as if that site was their baby too.

    Secondly, every website designer should remember that they are the expert, and they should never be afraid to make suggestions. The client has hired you to make their website special. They may have a vision in mind, but they wouldn’t have contacted you if they didn’t believe that you were able to improve their ideas into something truly remarkable. Before committing to a final design, make sure to take the client on a tour of your firm’s previous work and show them all the possibilities out there. Don’t be afraid to explore new territory, but remember that there’s nothing wrong with tried and true.  You may come up with something that neither of you had imagined!

    Finally, you want to make certain that everything you do is in pristine working order before handing the website over to the client. You may be the website designer, but your client will most likely be its most frequent maintainer. Leave them a perfectly functioning system so that your good work is sure to last. When they do updates or make minor changes, they will be reminded all over again of how much they love their website. Not only will you have one happy client, you’ll have a client who will be very likely to recommend you as a website designer to brand new clients.

    As a website designer, you are part of one of the fastest-growing and fastest-changing industries out there today. Since your field is so very competitive, you need to do everything you can to impress your clients with a good first impression and a great follow-through. We at DBurns Design (http://www.dburnsdesign.com/) believe that communicating with the client, to hear what they have to say, and to allow them help design a truly fantastic site!

    What Can A Website Design Firm Do For You?

    Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

    Running a business isn’t cheap, especially if it’s in the early stages or if a new project is just beginning. Every penny must be accounted for, and it’s absolutely vital that every penny is spent where it will count the most. At this vital stage of a business, it can be tempting to cut corners and avoid spending money on things that feel like cosmetic improvements. One of the most common areas that new businesses will choose for cutting corners is their website. Hiring a website design firm can be a pricey proposition, and in this day and age most people have the computer knowledge to set up a very basic website on their own. However, this is a bad idea, and here’s why.

    When you go to look for a new service, or to find out whether a new product is a good investment, where do you look? It’s likely that you would ask your friends or associates first, but even if they have a good recommendation to make, you’ll want to make up your own mind, and for that, you will most likely look online. That means that you will be perusing a website, or more likely a variety of websites, to see what suits your needs. What you just did, looking online, is what everyone is doing, and it’s how people are most likely to find your business: through your website. A website design firm will make sure that your website will create a good first impression for your whole company.

     That is, most importantly, what a website design firm does: they make you look good. It’s not just a matter of making your website look good. In the mind of a customer who is surfing the net for the services you provide, there is no difference between your website and your company. Whether they realize it or not, they will make their decision based on what they see online. If your website is neat, clean, interesting and professional, you stand a much better chance of being noticed than if your website looks like it was thrown together by someone who barely knows their way around a computer.

    Of course there’s more to making a website work for you than just convincing customers to stay on your site. An expert from a website design firm will know all the latest tips for making a website into an invaluable moneymaking tool.  A professionally designed website can offer secure online purchasing software that allows you to expand your client base as far as you’re able to deliver your services. Consulting with a web design firm will show you that your website is so much more than just a pretty face.

    When you’re kicking off a new business, or even a new phase in a business plan, you need all the assets you can gather, and these days, there is no better place to gather those assets than the Internet. Your website is your gateway to success. Let an expert from a website design firm, like Dburns, show you what your website can do for you!

    The History of Los Angeles Web Design

    Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

    It’s true what people say: Los Angeles is a place like no other. The weather, the culture, the people – all of it creates a surreal mix that really can’t be matched anywhere else. And the rich and interesting history of Hollywood makes it an all-the-more alluring place to visit or even attempt to move to. Of course if you want to move there, generally you likely want to work in the film industry. And we all hear about the challenges people face when they are trying to break into that area of work. We’ve all heard the stories of out of work actors that have to support themselves by waiting tables while going on fruitless auditions that get them nowhere closer to their dream. But at least in this digital age, getting your name out there is a lot easier than it used to be. Especially with Los Angeles web design firms that help your build up a brand and profile for yourself through a personal website that outlines your skills and introduces your face to the world!

    Back in the day, when one wanted to “make it” in Hollywood, they physically had to carry their portfolio of work and headshots around with them to show to casting directors. But in most cases now, that’s no longer necessary. Now, a person can create their own professional website, like a digital resume, that highlights their accomplishments, describes them as a person, and outlines what kind of work they’d be interested in. And there are specific Los Angeles web design companies that will help you out with getting your name, work, and experience out there. One such site is Dburns Design Company, which has completed professional websites for the likes of Queen Latifah and Gloria Gaynor.

    Much like Hollywood, Los Angeles web design companies promote an interesting mix of culture and trendiness. Since LA is a city of constant motion with its own unique vibe, web design firms can’t just be like any other design agency. Just like LA and its people, web design firms have to stand out! LA web design firms have to be up on the latest trends. They also have to appeal to a diverse mix of cultural backgrounds, since people of all ethnicities swarm to LA. Creativity and passion are both a must within the film industry, so LA design firms have to have those qualities as well. Many hire skilled and talented staff members that have expertise in a variety of areas to ensure that clients get well-rounded services. But most of all, they strive to learn as much as they can about their customers. They want to give you a shiny and glossy finished product that reflects you as an individual and will be successful in getting the real you out there!

    Struggling to get that modeling or acting audition? Want to write the next indie screenplay or produce the music for it? Well don’t miss out on getting your name out there! Get in touch with a Los Angeles web design firm like DBurns Design(http://www.dburnsdesign.com/) and get that portfolio up! There are millions of agents and casting directors in that wonderful city just waiting to meet someone like you!

    image001

    //