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  • B2B Ecommerce Solutions: What You Need to Know

    by Stefan Reeves | Oct 16, 2018

    B2B customers state the "lack of speed in interactions with their suppliers" as the number one pain-point...twice as important as price.

    Increased and Improved Sales

    Your B2B Ecommerce website can take orders 24/7, easily handle re-orders, provide one click checkout and allow ordering online via their phone. In addition it can provide answers to frequently asked questions via self-service support sections. By leveraging personalization capabilities, you can customize the way your storefront looks or the products it displays based on buyer preferences and history.

    Customer-centric Experience

    It is clear that users now prefer do-it-yourself options for researching products prior to purchase. E-commerce sites can provide them with access to self-service portals/websites with product descriptions, pricing, inventory, reviews, shipping and handling information, as well as their order history.

    Higher Operational Efficiency

    Digitization and automation of your business takes care of the routine tasks that previously were handled manually by your employees. This reduces errors while enabling your staff to address things a machine cannot do – advising, consulting and supporting leads & clients.

    The Right Tools

    Gone are the days of B2B compa­nies trying to force B2C Ecommerce platforms to meet their needs. Today the tools are available to meet most companies B2B requirements out of the box. This ensures adherence to best practices, far faster and less expensive implementations.

    The Right Implementer

    There are companies that now spe­cialize in B2B Ecommerce implemen­tations like Graphically Speaking. These specialists need to understand B2B businesses and how they work with the new breed of B2B Ecom­merce software. In addition they must have in-depth knowledge of product data, integrations with other software platforms, pricing, shipping and then all the other capabilities of B2C Ecommerce.

    Complex Pricing

    B2B companies typically have dif­ferent prices for different custom­ers. These prices can be achieved with combinations like: discount for customer groups; prices for specific product bundles; quantity and vol­ume discounts; or a combination of these methods.

    Keeping the prices current for your customers and products can be a challenge. Plan for how you will ad­dress this. It’s typically via a system integration or via a file, to bulk upload pricing.

    Pricing information is one of the most sought after pieces of infor­mation on a B2B website.

    Flexible Checkout Process

    Your checkout process should match your company’s unique rules for payment and shipping.

    Examples include:

    • Purchase orders available only to certain customers based on their credit limit and approval.
    • Integration of the checkout into your customers’ buying and approval process.
    • Certain products being restricted from shipping to certain geographic locations.
    • Enabling customers to charge the shipping to their accounts.


    Helping Customers Buy The Way They Want To

    B2B buyers demand personalized self-service, full-service, and hybrid purchase options. Some Ecommerce sites offer customers different tracks for their individual purchase path: fast-track for repeat and bulk purchases; standard-track for regular purchases; and advanced-track for more complex, customized solutions.

    Customer Registration

    For B2B Ecommerce sites registra­tion is typically mandatory so that customers get access to custom prices, products, and terms. Autho­rized users can see products, prices, order-tracking information, and potentially pay for offline orders.

    Mobile Responsiveness

    Make it easy for mobile users to in­teract and purchase by making your website mobile responsive. Ensure the checkout process works flaw­lessly on mobile devices.

    Faceted Navigation

    Includes filters for many different attributes (or facets) of the objects in a set. In essence it provides multiple filters that allow users to analyze a large set of content and exclude any objects that don’t meet that criteria. This tools allows users to better un­derstand the content space and gives them ideas of what is available and how to search for it.


    The Ecommerce system itself may not hold all of the key customer and product information, thus integration with other systems can play an im­portant part of Ecommerce success. Integration tools and capabilities have improved dramatically over the last couple of years with low cost and robust solutions.


    Allow customers to get information they need in a more effective and timely manner. Examples can include custom catalogues, order history, special pricing, new product an­nouncements, specials, etc.

    Site Search

    Search is critical for Ecommerce. Most platforms come with some level of search capability but improving the quality of your site search can greatly help conver­sions for a quick-win ROI benefit. Sophisticated, third-party search tools can often pay for them­selves quickly.

    User Navigation

    Plan your site navigation to assist users to find what they need, especially for sites with a large number of products. Common navigational tools include: filter­ing by price, attribute or rating; viewing of most purchased prod­ucts; and personalized product recommendations.

    Email Marketing

    Email marketing is a good way to drive repeat sales from your B2B customers. Integrate your Ecommerce site with an email system to personalize and target messages based on customers’ site activity and order history. Customers appreciate emails that inform them of their prod­ucts journey and delivery and this is a great opportunity to cross-sell and upsell.

    Quick Order

    B2B customers often know exactly what they want, right down to the item number or SKU. Provide a form where customers can enter item numbers and quanti­ties, to quickly add items to their cart without browsing and searching. Also if possible invoke one click checkout into your cart.

    Multiple Users in a Single Account

    For a lot of businesses, many people can place orders under a single ac­count. Account profiles can get com­plex and must be organized accord­ingly. Will each user see other users’ orders? How are the user profiles managed? What are the account re­strictions for each user?

    Tool for The Salespeople

    Many B2B companies are loading all of their product data, inventory, pricing information, etc. into their Ecommerce site. They then password protect the sensitive or confidential information and allow easy access for the sales or company representative.


    Configurators may be developed to solve all sorts of complications such as custom project pricing, parts specifica­tions or freight. Configurator’s help customers make complex purchases easier and can help vendors reduce the cost of sales support.

    Request a Quote

    Some products are complicated to quote and can require numerous interactions with the client. Built in quote management systems allow the potential customer to request a quote through a user friendly form, then the sales rep can configure, substitute products, price and send the quote back to the client. The client if necessary can then make modifications and send back to the sales rep for confirmation and then automatic entry into the Ecommerce platform. This can streamline the process making it faster and simpler to do business with your company.

    Real-time Inventory

    If a customer is in a rush to get an order, they need to know how much stock is available and ready for im­mediate shipment. They don’t have the patience to receive an email sometime later that states that half of the order is back ordered. This is one of the most sought after pieces of information from B2B customers.

    Continuity Orders (aka Repeat Orders or Subscription)

    Often a customer places the same order each month, much like a consumer may have a weekly grocery list. They can save a lot of time with a recurring order that automatically reorders items at a set interval. With online self-service, customers can also adjust those orders if something changes.


    With well-rounded B2B Ecommerce tools and experienced B2B imple­menters, customers can now expect a robust feature rich Ecommerce implementation to be done cost effectively and on a timely basis. Sometimes taking just a few short months.

  • Battle of the Content Management Systems

    by Michael Sytsma | Dec 04, 2017

    This September's Vancouver Web Design Meetup saw four content management system (CMS) opinion leaders battle it out for CMS supremacy. You can read about the products they promoted in this blog.

    Choosing the right CMS

    The meetup kicked off with one presenter giving an overview of where the most popular content management systems fit within different size organizations. The presenter was not biased to any particular CMS but stressed the importance of selecting a CMS that fits the scale and scope of a company’s online endeavor.

    Websites were categorized as entry-level, mid-level or enterprise, based on website features, complexity and initial investment budgets.

    Essentially brochure style websites costing approximately $5k to $25k.

    Corporate sites of moderate complexity with simple integrations and costing approximately $25k to $200k.

    Complex, feature-rich websites with 3rd party system integrations, marketing automation suites and typical investments of $200k+.

    Where do you fit?

    Entry-level CMS Category

    An entry level CMS can be a good choice for an organization with limited online marketing budgets and in-house expertise. These organizations usually want to have practical website features along with the ability to simply add, modify, or delete web content.

    In our meetup, WordPress proved to be the de facto player in the entry-level field, however, it was argued that today’s WordPress can support entry and mid-level web requirements, and even some enterprise needs.

    Entry-level CMS will be:

    • Easy to use and manage by non-technical users.
    • Supported by a vast developer community.
    • Proven with lots of useful plugins or widgets.
    • Customizable to achieve your desired design standard.
    • Capable of supporting digital marketing initiatives, plugins, or 3rd party tools.

    Mid-level CMS Category

    Drupal, Sitefinity and Kentico CMS represented the mid-level field. Each of these systems offers a powerful and extensible CMS solution with:

    • Workflow management.
    • Extensive digital marketing capabilities.
    • Extreme scalability and customization opportunities.

    Enterprise Level CMS Category

    The enterprise systems that qualified here include offerings from: Acquia, Adobe, IBM, Oracle, Sitecore and Sitefinity. These are the CMS systems that will support organizations’ looking to evolve and execute a digital transformation strategy.

    CMS’s that fall under this category are proven to be highly reliable and scalable. They can integrate with ecommerce systems, CRM's and or POS systems.

    Enterprise CMS’s will have extensive marketing tools that enable marketers to organize data and continually enhance their web offerings to deliver exceptional user experiences and optimal conversions.

    To Choose a CMS, It's Important to Know Which Questions to Ask.

    Here is a checklist to consider when you make that decision.

    • What is the purpose of the website? Is it to sell, inform, provide customer service, market, or?
    • What do you want the site to do; i.e. what features and functions will you need it to provide?
    • Who is your audience and what devices will they use?
    • Will your site need to display multiple language versions?
    • Do you intend to deliver personalized content?
    • Will you employ marketing automation?
    • Who is going to manage your website? Will it be managed by marketers or technologists, and how many will do the work?
    • What CMS is your team familiar with now?
    • Are there trained personnel to support you in-house?
    • What level of CMS service support will you need?
    • Is there a preferred software framework preference; .NET or open source?
    • What are your hosting needs; hosted or SAAS?
    • Will your site accommodate multiple brands or micro-sites?

    CMS Offerings

    Knowing your business and what your site must do for it, we can start to compare some popular CMS offerings. In our meetup each presenter was passionate that their offering is ‘the best’, and although each offering can ‘technically’ satisfy most of your organization’s requirements, each will have strengths and limitations that you should be aware of.


    WordPress CMS - the popular entry-level system.

    WordPress is by far the CMS market-share leader with 59% of the CMS marketplace.

    As noted earlier, WordPress is typically employed for entry-level website builds, however, that notion was dismissed as the National Post, Southern Bancorp, The Obama Foundation and Five Thirty Eight news websites – all fairly complex and substantial - are all powered by WordPress.

    Our meetup’s WordPress advocate demonstrated the tool’s ease of use, its potential for customization, and WordPress’ flexibility to enable content contributors to create rich content via page builder, long scrolling pages, videos, and embedded social channels.

    One can’t talk about WordPress without discussing security. Since WordPress is the dominant world-wide CMS, it’s understandable that it is also the CMS that is most targeted by hackers. Our presenter pointed out various security plugins and protocols that can be applied to thwart those with bad intentions.

    As WordPress is essentially a free community developed product, you shouldn’t expect the same level of professional support that is offered with a paid licenced CMS. Nevertheless, our presenter pointed out that WordPress is supported by a vibrant and growing community that can help you develop, grow and improve your WordPress website. In addition, professional vendors should be able to offer you WordPress security support.


    Drupal - the open source CMS for mid and high-level builds.

    Our evening’s Drupal evangelist gave an account of the Drupal CMS and described Drupal as an open digital experience platform to help organizations deliver web content across channels and devices. Innovation, speed and scalability are hallmark features inherent to the platform.

    Drupal has been employed by a number of major brands, so the product is well proven and trusted in the marketplace.

    In terms of strengths, Drupal has many, the fact that Drupal is an open source technology means that the product is highly flexible, accessible, and free of license fees. With 37,000 free modules, 2,400 free themes, and a community of over 100,000 active developer contributors, Drupal can be configured to accommodate virtually any website scenario. It is built around responsive design and can integrate with an organization’s digital technology ecosystem.

    Drupal can fulfill both mid-level and enterprise requirements and the total cost of ownership when comparing Drupal to other enterprise-level is potentially lower. On average fifty percent of Drupal’s project budgets range between $75K and $300K.

    Of course there is no perfect CMS and among Drupal’s strengths are some notable drawbacks. Getting developers or in-house teams up to speed on Drupal can be daunting as the learning curve is steeper than many competitive CMS systems. Part of the reason for this has to do with the vast number of modules and connectors that are available with Drupal. And although the CMS is free, you can expect the overall development cost to be higher, as Drupal out-of-the-box is bare-bones and needs a lot of configuring.


    Sitecore - the original mid to high-level proprietary CMS.

    Sitecore is one of the earliest .NET content management systems and sits at the top of Gartner Magic Quadrant for Web Content Management 2017. Sitecore is an ideal CMS for enterprise-level organizations with corporate marketing departments.

    The CMS was spun out of Pentia A/S (a Microsoft systems integration company) in 2001. Today Sitecore positions its brand as a ‘customer experience management company’. To support this assertion Sitecore provides a robust and secure CMS that features a multi-channel marketing automation suite and flexible content authoring capabilities.

    A key feature of Sitecore’s marketing automation suite is the ability to ‘market in context’ which essentially enables marketers to market based on an individual customer’s behaviour. Sitecore calls this ‘contextual intelligence’. Contextual Intelligence gives you the information you need about you consumers, e.g. their location, profile, social sharing, content preferences, devices, etc. so the content you provide is more relevant to and the overall customer experience is more meaningful

    On the downside Sitecore’s feature set is so extensive that many features will never be used. And since it is a proprietary CMS system your organization will need to pay for an enterprise-level license that is likely to be out of reach to small and many mid- size organizations.

    And what may be both a pro and con of the CMS Sitecore is built on the .NET platform, so if you want to deploy custom controls or plugins you will need to be an expert .NET developer to make that happen. Nevertheless, .NET is an ideal platform to connect with 3rd party applications and other ASP.NET services.


    Sitefinity - an up-and-coming heavyweight among the mid to high-level proprietary CMSs.

    While we are talking about .NET systems, let’s look at an acknowledged up-and-comer, Sitefinity.

    For mid to large size organizations that are looking for a .NET CMS that is dead easy to use, scalable, secure, and comes with robust out-of-the-box modules plus an easy to use but sophisticated marketing suite, Sitefinity might be the right fit.

    Sitefinity is a proven and reliable CMS solution used by some heavyweight brands like Microsoft, Sony, 3M, IBM, Toshiba, Coca-Cola, BBC, Toyota, City Bank, to name a few. And this year Sitefinity CMS was named a Contender in the 2017 Forrester Wave Report for web content management systems.

    One major reason for choosing Sitefinity is its simple and intuitive user interface. Sitefinity is arguably the easiest to use CMS in the mid-size to enterprise space. The simple UI can mean better adoption across an organization as non-technical users can easily modify, create and maintain website content.

    What sets this product apart is the company’s focus on providing a digital experience that can help you improve your customer’s experience via segmentation / personalization, conversion tracking, touchpoint attribution, and other tools – like big data crunching and machine learning recommendations - that let marketers manage and continually improve the customer journey.

    Like Sitecore, Sitefinity comes with a licence fee, though Sitefinity’s licence cost is aimed to appeal to mid-market and enterprise organizations and will likely be out of reach to smaller organizations.

    Vancouver Web Design Meetup

    The content of this blog has been adapted from a recent Vancouver Web Design Meetup.

    Join Vancouver Web Design Meetup today and gain valuable insights from experience, local industry leaders on all topics related to website design, development and digital marketing. Events are FREE and held in downtown Vancouver.

    Talk to a Website Specialist Today

    Book a free consultation and learn how Graphically Speaking can help add value to your business.

  • Tools, Technologies & Tips for Ecommerce

    by Michael Sytsma | Oct 25, 2017

    At a recent Vancouver Web Design Meetup event attended by over 250 people, a panel of five industry experts discussed the latest trends in the rapidly changing fields of ecommerce design and development. Here are their thoughts and recommendations.

    Ecommerce Market Trends

    As predicted, online shopping continues to grow with over 50% of consumers preferring to shop online. There are now a few cemented and some emerging ecommerce trends and tools that you will want to keep an eye on including:

    • Omni-channel sales.
    • Personalized shopping experience.
    • Mobile responsive design.
    • Artificial intelligence.
    • B2B strategies using advanced B2C tactics.

    Omni-Channel Sales

    With a multichannel approach to sales you can provide a seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online, by telephone or in a brick & mortar store. For best results, the design of the website should remain consistent when viewed on a desktop or mobile device and should also compliment the physical store presence. Consumers can shop the same way through in-store, website and telephone. Regardless of the customers' location and time. The order can either be delivered to the address directly, picked up at the store, or picked up from a retail partner.

    Personalized Shopping Experience

    Whether in person or online, a good sale starts with a personal connection to the brand or product. There is plenty of opportunity to serve each shopper new, customizable, relevant and unique content with each visit. Using the right technology and business intelligence, companies are able to serve this content based on customers':

    • Purchase history
    • Visited products.
    • Geographic location.
    • Demographic profiles.
    • Market trends.
    • Brand interactions.

    Mobile Responsive Design

    There can be missed sales without attention to mobile versus desktop viewing and buying habits. Desktop and mobile devices account for just over 40% of sessions each with tablets around 20%. However 63% of revenue is from desktop with only 21% from mobile and 17% from tablets.

    Some of the challenges with purchasing on mobile are:

    • Screen size.
    • Awkward navigation.
    • Concerns over privacy.

    Opportunities for mobile:

    • Improve ease of use & conversion optimization on small screens.
    • Add the ability for customers to share and save products and items.
    • Optimize your site for speed.

      Artificial Intelligence

      Machines are being trained to learn and solve problems. This is changing the way customer service is being handled—moving away from real people. Most queries can now be handled by bots. According to Gartner Research, by 2020 eighty-five percent of customer interactions will be handled without human interactions. Popular AI applications now are:

      • Voice search.
      • Self-driving cars.
      • Network routing.
      • Competing at strategic games.
      • Machine learning to interpret complex data.

      Ecommerce Platforms

      One of the biggest decisions you will have to make for your ecommerce website is what platform to use. With so many options it can be difficult to figure out which option best meets your needs. While there is no such thing as “the best ecommerce platform”, we have briefly reviewed our three favorites so you can determine which is best for your business needs.


      Shopify is great for small to midsize B2C websites with less complex data. This is a cloud service only and therefore is easier to setup. Shopify customers typically require an average $5,000 budget to create an ecommerce website on this platform.


      Good for simple to moderately difficult B2B and B2C websites. WooCommerce is an open-source plug-in for WordPress that requires hosting and security measures. It is excellent for content marketing. It is very customizable and boasts the second largest install base. Businesses should expect to budget $10,000 on an ecommerce website built with WordPress & WooCommerce.


      Magento is sold in two editions: Community for mid-sized businesses, and Enterprise for large businesses. It is based on open source technology and is excellent for integrations and customization. It has the largest install base and is relatively inexpeninexpensive
      compared to IBM, Oracle, SAP, etc. Budgets vary depending on edition; Community Edition requires a budget from $15,000 to $100,000, and Enterprise requires at least a $100,000 budget.

      Important Considerations

      Important considerations when choosing a CMS include: your product data and its complexity, plug-ins, integrations (POS, inventory, CMS, ERP, etc.). Other important considerations are the "multis":

      • Multi-store.
      • Multi-language.
      • Multi-currency.
      • Multi-brand.

      Live Chat

      Further reinforcing personalized shopping experiences, we have seen that Live Chat users spend on average 5% to 30% more on purchases. Conversion rates improve by 5 to 10 times following a live chat session. With the onset of machine learning and artificial intelligence, in the future, live chat will eventually be fully automated by bots.

      Digital Marketing Strategies

      Where to start? It's a never ending cycle of picking your audience, figuring out their value, messaging them accordingly, and not wasting money.

      Finding Your Best Customers

      Pick a segment that is important to your business and identify the potential future value of these segments. What stage of the sales funnel is your customer at: initial interest, browsed products, abandoned basket, or abandoned high margin basket? Think of ways to help guide your customer through the buyer journey with micro-conversions and lead nurturing. Follow the four principles of attract, convert, nurture and support.

      Focus On Your High Value Customers

      Obviously these include shoppers who purchase high value product categories. Customers that have viewed multiple products, or abandoned baskets should also be identified as they have the highest potential for future value. Watch for segments and learn which ones are performing the best. Don't forget your return customers as they signify lifetime value.

      Make the Message Match the Customer

      Remind your users why they should take the next step and move them along the buyer journey. It's easy to get distracted, so help your clients stay on track. One tip is to provide incentives to prospects who have abandoned their cart. In addition use email marketing for post sales, cross-selling and marketing opportunities. Increasingly, sales transactions are on mobile so ensure you are testing for usability, conversion optimization and speed.

      Don't Waste Your Money

      Keep profitability in mind. Of your messages, which ones did your segments respond to the most? Cut your bottom 30% and reinvest in the winning segments. Continue to mine for new segments and repeat these steps again.

      Digital Marketing Tactics

      Tips for Digital Marketing:

      • Allow your customers to use an existing social profile to log in, cutting down on necessary registration steps and therefore increasing conversions.
      • Make sure your homepage, product pages and order confirmation pages all have easy social sharing buttons.
      • Include a mixture of contests, inspiration and tips. Ask questions, encourage discussions and sharing of ideas. Don't oversell.
      • Get visually creative, quotes, photographs, infographics, motivational images and usage examples are all types of visual content that should be considered.
      • Measure, improve and experiment as the social media tools allow you to measure the most important things to help you improve your performance.

      Social Media

      Social media is now an integral part of almost every consumer's online habits. There are many great reasons to maintain profiles on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram such as:

      • An extension of customer service.
      • A way to build brand awareness.
      • A place to improve customer engagement.
      • A way to gain insight into what your customers care about.

      Indirectly, all of these things can contribute to a rise in overall sales.

      Email Marketing

      Email marketing accounts for over 7% of all ecommerce transactions, making it the second most effective ecommerce marketing channel behind search.

      Some of the best practices for email marketing are:

      • Use an email marketing tool that includes marketing automation and event-triggered campaigns.
      • Encourage customers to review the products they have purchased.
      • Setup cart abandonment emails to identify bugs and improve your checkout conversion rate.
      • Contact your dormant customers with email offers.
      • Use email to market product seasonality and retail holidays.
      • Develop your transactional emails to improve brand perception and cross-sell relevant products as well as services.
      • Integrate your marketing with other campaigns such as social media and display advertising.
      • Further engage by asking for user's feedback using the latest survey tools.

      Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

      Organic search success with effective SEO is still considered the best digital marketing option that will produce a ROI above all other opportunities around ecommerce. As the recommended options are very dependent on your digital marketing maturity and your competition we will spend very little time on this tactic. For a refresher the basics are:

      • Keyword and competitive research.
      • On page optimization.
      • Quality links.
      • Voice search.
      • Relevant and high quality content.

      Site Speed Optimization

      According to an Aberdeen Group study, a single second of page load delay time causes an 11 percent drop in page views and a 7 percent drop in conversion. Speed is also an important consideration for how well your site ranks in SEO.

      The following five tips can boost the speed of an ecommerce site and increase sales:

      1. Ensure you have sufficient server capacity, reliability and security.
      2. Test for speed on mobile, most phones have less processing power and a far slower connection.
      3. Produce efficient code, reduce HTTP requests, implement caching and split up page content are just some of the techniques to employ.
      4. Reduce unnecessary items, such as social media widgets, animations, rotating banners, resource taxing plugins, complex designs and others that are not essential, especially on mobile.
      5. Optimize photography, to ensure download speed is reduced. We have seen load times drop in half with properly optimized imagery with no loss of quality.

      Vancouver Web Design Meetup

      The content of this blog has been adapted from a recent Vancouver Web Design Meetup.

      Join Vancouver Web Design Meetup today and gain valuable insights from experience, local industry leaders on all topics related to website design, development and digital marketing. Events are FREE and held in downtown Vancouver.

      Talk to an Ecommerce Specialist Today

      Book a free consultation and learn how Graphically Speaking can help turn your ecommerce website into a dynamic marketing tool that will grow traffic, increase revenue, and build brand trust.

    • Top 2017 Web Design & Development Trends

      by Kevin Elliott | Feb 14, 2017

      At the recent Vancouver meetup event, we invited five leading industry experts to give us an insider's look at the hottest trends that will have an impact in 2017 and beyond. Here's what we learned.

      Web Design That Demands Attention

      A major design trend is going back to basics with more minimal designs. When designing a website, developers must consider a growing amount of factors, and ease of use on multiple devices is one of the most important. Elaborate website designs can complicate customer flow and user experiences.

      Hamburger Menus

      Usability experts are recommending that we avoid using this navigation style at desktop resolutions for the following reasons:

      • Among desktop sessions, hidden menus are utilized just 27% of the time
      • It increases perceived task difficulty by 21%
      • Slows average task time by 39% on desktops and 15% on mobile devices

      Parallax Scrolling

      Industry experts are calling for a reduction in the use of parallax scrolling because it increases load speeds and creates challenges for peak organic search engine rankings.

      Reducing User Options

      Seven used to be the magic number for main navigation items and now it’s 3 to 4. Mega footers are also on their way out with a dramatic reduction of links at the bottom of pages. Bombarding webpages with upsells, product suggestions and various secondary links decreases conversions as they overload the user.


      Experts agree that the fastest way to success is through testing. Major decisions are no longer made based on the opinion of the development group or the highest paid person in the room. From card sorting, usability labs and now Google Optimize for A/B and multi-variate testing, several tools and techniques are available to take the guesswork out of the equation.


      It was common to build a website and then leave it for years before re-doing it again. As the website is most companies’ top marketing tool, the new standard after launching a website is to continuously measure, make recommendations for improvement (hypothesize), implement improvements and then test to ensure improvements provide a ROI.


      Website speed is a critical factor for usability, conversion optimization and a high Google ranking. This should be a top priority when developing or enhancing your website.

      Death of Apps

      On average, people have 27 apps on their phones, but the majority of times they use just four. For a mobile app to be successful, it must provide both value and a unique offering.

      Ecommerce for Guaranteed ROI

      Customers expect old-school customer service with the now-ness of online mediums when shopping. They want to order any product, anywhere, at any time and on any device, and then for that product to be delivered immediately to anywhere they desire. Obviously this is very difficult to do.

      Big Data

      Most ecommerce experts obsess over customer data to improve their sales, customer retention and customer satisfaction. Opportunities are plentiful for tracking your customers as they engage with your website, social media, online ratings and reviews, remarketing, chatbots and more.

      Consistent Brand Experience

      Experts agree that a consistent brand experience across all digital channels is a must-have. This is a difficult task considering the many different devices and channels that must be supported.


      From remarketing to reorganizing your navigation menu items for your target audiences, personalization produces results. When evaluating your customer journeys, look for opportunities to present the exact information that they want and when they want it. The tools for making this happen are now more readily available and AI will have a profound effect on personalization shortly.

      Future Trend: Conversational Commerce

      Messaging apps have outpaced social networks when it comes to where we spend our time. These tools are rapidly developing ecommerce interfaces and soon will be able to handle a complete transaction without the need for external platforms. Look to Amazon Echo and Google Home to understand how users will speak to their devices for a complete ecommerce experience, from product enquiry to purchase confirmation.

      Future Trend: Marketing to Devices

      Funny as it sounds, but as our devices get smarter they will be making purchasing decisions for us. That will make for some interesting marketing discussions as we try and persuade machines to choose us or our products over the competition.

      The Next Wave of CSS

      Web developers need to think with a “mobile first” attitude for optimal site performance and ecommerce conversions.

      Three main trends in front-end development stand at the forefront in 2017, and they are:

      CSS Flexbox

      First released as part of CSS3, the Flexbox is already a reliable layout mode. Designers can manipulate a webpage component’s elements, such as size, so that it best fits on any screen or display device.

      Benefits of the CSS Flexbox

      • Auto-adjusts items to fill free space on a screen, or contracts them to prevent overflow
      • Optimized for one-dimensional layouts
      • Ideal for component applications and websites with small layouts

      CSS Variables

      Introduced as a supplement to CSS Preprocessors with desktop-browser integration as early as 2014, CSS Variables are only now starting to take off in 2017 thanks to recent mobile-browser integration.

      Benefits of CSS Variables

      • More customization options—developers can tailor elements such as colours and component sizes within any selector they choose
      • Less repetitive CSS code and easier maintenance requirements for large projects.
      • Variables live within their browsers, so you can edit them in JavaScript to create richer mobile-responsive interfaces for users

      The Future: CSS Grid

      The CSS Grid is a new layout model that resolves many previous limitations for controlling the sizing and positioning of website components. Now developers can construct dramatic visual layouts for mobile websites without the pain of altering markup language.

      As of now it’s only partially supported in a small handful of browsers, but experts predict it will quickly become an industry standard for web development by 2018.

      Benefits of the CSS Grid

      • Conducive to explicit overlapping of elements on a website
      • Optimized for two-dimensional layouts
      • Ideal for complex websites with large layouts

      The Future of Digital Marketing


      Companies now realize there are risks in having too many choices for services. Watch as more brands decide to limit their focus to drive performance by doing a few things very well instead of a lot of things with underwhelming results. This trend works well for Facebook and Google as over 48% of all internet sessions involve interactions with one of those two brands. 

      Voice Search

      As of May 2016, Google stated that over 20% of mobile queries are voice searches, which means that over 10% of all searches are voice based. It’s time to start optimizing your website for this key trend.

      Walled Communities

      You would hope that Facebook and Google would be opening up their domains by sharing data and allowing other applications to interact with them, but the exact opposite is happening. For example, Facebook launched two algorithm updates in 2015 penalizing pages for promoting content organically. As well, Google’s 2011 update (expanded in 2013) encrypted keyword data to encourage marketers to shift more towards AdWords. Look for more of this to happen in the future as both Facebook and Google continue to aggressively monetize their offerings.

      Social is Driving ROI

      The debate is over: companies can and should successfully get an ROI with their investment in social to gauge if they are doing it right.

      Era of the Image

      By 2021, about 50% of all online searches will occur via images and other non-text forms. Make sure to increase your emphasis on visual content, from attention-grabbing images displayed prominently with blog posts to conveying information using graphics. Just as importantly, mine these visuals with data so that search algorithms can properly interpret them.

      B2B Marketing

      B2B has always lagged behind its more innovative B2C cousin. Some have made the excuse that B2B is different, which is correct. However, watch successful B2B companies implement B2C tactics as their customers are expecting a similar experience. 


      Chatbots are a piece of software that you chat with to get things done or to be entertained; Siri is the most well-known example. Their future success is heavily dependent on new advances in AI technology. Soon a single Chatbot could be your personal assistant. When you ask it what the weather will be like today it knows that you are flying to San Francisco in the afternoon from Vancouver, and tells you the weather for both cities. 

      Virtual Reality (VR)

      Look for VR use to rapidly expand in media, education and training, video games, engineering, architecture & urban design, tourism, retail and marketing.

      Artificial Intelligence (AI)

      The power of AI is in its opportunity for mass personalization. Some say it will be the next big user interface (UI). B2C consumers and B2B clients view personalization, immediacy and intelligent engagements as key requirements when interacting with brands. AI in the future will be able to deliver exactly that.


      This industry is constantly growing and is now very broad. Focus on obtaining a wider knowledge to understand the big picture to complement your area of specialization. It’s very difficult to know everything, so specialization is still integral.

      Upcoming Events

      Vancouver Web Design Meetup

      How to Create Highly Effective Websites for 2017

      Get the inside view from our panel of experts in web strategy, design and technology as they share the best processes, tools and techniques for creating highly effective websites. You’ll get the insiders’ secrets on:

      1. The latest web strategies and methods
      2. How to plan, write, organize and manage content
      3. Best coding techniques for 2017
      4. Tips and tools to make the job easier


      Feb 23, 2017

      5:30-6 p.m. (networking, snack and drinks)

      6-8 p.m. (panel presentation and Q&A)


      CodeCore (142 W. Hastings St., Vancouver)

      Sponsored by Graphically Speaking and hosted by CodeCore.

    • 21 Digital Marketing Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

      by Kevin Elliott | Nov 30, 2016

      The world of digital marketing can be overwhelming, especially for those who are just transitioning from traditional marketing – so naturally, mistakes are going to be made. In fact, even the most experienced marketers will occasionally have digital campaigns that don’t yield desired results. From SEO and content marketing to paid advertising and social media, make sure your next online campaign doesn’t meet with failure by avoiding these 21 digital marketing mistakes.

      Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

      1. Not Optimizing for Local Search

      With the recent “Possum” update, Google made a number of changes to their local search algorithm to enhance the searcher’s local results. For brick-and-mortar businesses, proximity to the searcher’s location has become even more important. Businesses that optimize their location information will be rewarded with higher positions on search engine results pages (SERPs).

      To improve your local ranking, include location-specific keywords in your meta descriptions and page titles. Make sure your business name and address are “cited” on directories, association listings and review networks.

      2. Not Using Custom Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

      Every page on your website should have a unique title tag and meta description. Not only does it provide search engines with an explanation about your page content, it is used on SERPs to display a snippet of what the page will be about.

      Besides using relevant keywords for SEO purposes, make sure your meta data is descriptive to entice people to click on your listing. Stay within character limits so that your meta data doesn’t get cut off on SERPs.

      3. Not Optimizing for the Right Keywords

      Keywords are the building blocks of search. While it’s easy to focus on keywords that may bring you lots of traffic, to attract qualified traffic it’s better to target specific phrases that closely match your offering.

      Examples of keywords to avoid:

      • National or global keywords, when you only sell locally
      • Keywords that bring in visitors seeking information rather than buying
      • Broad keywords that have higher traffic but are very competitive
      • Generic keywords attracting visitors who are not interested in your offering

      4. Not Controlling Internal Link Juice

      You’ve seen this before: that website with hundreds of links on the homepage. Businesses often make the mistake of linking everything from their main navigation. This actually reduces the SEO value – or link juice – that those internal links can pass through the website in the form of PageRank.

      Suppose your homepage links to a total of 200 pages, meaning the amount of authority passed from the homepage to each of those pages is divided by 200. By cutting the number of links in half, you’ll double the amount of authority passed from the homepage and increase the chance that your inner pages will rank.

      Link juice should be distributed as evenly throughout a website as possible. Tools like the PageRank Juice Calculator can tell you how much link juice a page has to distribute so you can better optimize your site’s navigation.

      Content Marketing

      5. Not Knowing Your Target Audience

      Content marketing success begins with knowing your target audience so you can create attractive and useful content. Besides demographic characteristics, define targeted audiences according to behaviours, interests, purchase intent and life events. With this in mind, you can develop content that actually helps your readers and compels them to choose you over the competition.

      6. Producing Content That’s Not Useful

      Most companies believe that they need to churn out a constant stream of content on all channels to have engagement. However, it’s best to focus on quality over quantity. Your content should provide answers to user questions or address your users’ needs. Always write for your audience first and search engines second.

      7. Not Writing Specifically For the Web

      Web copy is very different from print. Most online readers don’t actually read text on the Internet; instead, they scan the text to pick out valuable parts. To get your message across you’ll need to write scannable content for your online audiences.

      Here are some tips:

      • Be concise
      • Prioritize key information
      • Use easy-to-read fonts
      • Use large enough text
      • Have ample white space
      • Delete marketing fluff

      8. Not Promoting Your Content

      Once you have written quality content, be sure to use SEO tactics to increase the odds of readers finding the content. You can help your pages land a top spot in SERPs by using proper keywords, title tags, image tags and headings. Marketing your content on social media is also a good way to gain exposure. As no two social media channels are the same, be sure to adjust your content and tone to each channel accordingly.

      Online Advertising

      9. Trying Only One Source of Online Advertising

      Organic search is a great way to drive website traffic but it can often take months to get the results you are looking for. Online advertising can help you get results more quickly. We recommend starting off with a few platforms to see where your target audience is most likely to be found. For example, Google AdWords offers targeting based on search keywords while Facebook targets demographics and interests. For niche audiences, you can explore other channels such as LinkedIn or Twitter. Ultimately you want to find the online advertising sources that give you the best ROI.

      10. Not Matching Your Landing Page to Your Ads

      You may have the perfect ad campaign set up, but are your visitors staying on your landing page once they’ve clicked on your ad? People click on ads expecting to be brought to the exact information, product or service you advertised so your landing page should be consistent with your ad.

      According to Google AdWords, your landing page is evaluated based on relevancy, transparency, trustworthiness, ease of navigation and how well you encourage visitors to spend time on your site. If your landing page sufficiently meets these requirements, your Quality Score will improve – meaning you can expect your ads to perform better and your cost-per-click to be lower.

      11. Taking Remarketing Too Far

      Remarketing (or retargeting) involves showing your ads to people who have already visited your website to get them to return again. A remarketing campaign can be very effective, but consumers often find this tactic annoying since they feel like they’re being followed around on the web.

      To avoid irritating your potential customers:

      • Set a frequency cap to limit the number of times someone can see your ads
      • Fine-tune your ad placements and targeting method to ensure greater relevancy
      • Vary your ads and rotate your creatives to combat ad fatigue
      • Exclude visitors who have already converted from your remarketing list

      12. Not Optimizing Display Ad Placements

      With AdWords display campaigns, your ads can appear on a huge network of sites across the Internet whether it be pages, sites, mobile apps or video. Depending on your targeting method, Google will do the decision-making for you and use automatic placements even though they may not fit your brand or be relevant to your business.

      To combat this problem, navigate to the placements tab in AdWords and exclude any placements that aren’t appropriate for your campaign like spam websites and mobile apps. Be sure to monitor over a longer period of time and exclude any underperforming placements as well.


      Email Marketing

      13. Neglecting Email Marketing

      Email marketing is often neglected for “newer” forms of marketing such as social media. However, this could be a missed opportunity to connect with your audience. Email marketing is known to deliver a high ROI and remains one of the most effective ways to reach consumers online.

      • Always get permission to email people and provide a mechanism for them to unsubscribe
      • Segment your email list to better target your communications
      • Monitor the analytics of your email campaigns including open rate, click-through-rate and unsubscribes


      14. Not Building an Email List

      “The money is in the list” has been a mantra for digital marketers for years. To put it simply – grow your email list, grow your business. Your email list will help you connect with your audience repeatedly and foster them into long-term customers. To grow your email list:

      • Place opt-in forms on your website
      • Encourage subscribers to forward your emails
      • Invite social media followers to opt-in
      • Use pop-ups on your website to prompt visitors to subscribe
      • Offer discounts to customers that opt-in
      • Require email address in exchange to download high-quality content like e-books, guides and white papers
      • Pre-sell upcoming content such as blog articles or a new product

      15. Impersonal or Incorrect Personalization

      Personalization issues are unfortunately common when it comes to email marketing. Even though most people know that majority of emails sent out by companies are automated, a certain level of trust is lost when you get their name, gender or interests wrong.

      Most email marketing software allow you to properly test emails with full personalization before sending. Many platforms also offer insights technology to correctly identify your customers’ interests so you can properly pitch products and offers for their next purchase.


      Social Media

      16. Creating Too Many Accounts Too Quickly

      When starting out with social media marketing, businesses often create accounts on multiple platforms at once despite being unable to post regular content to engage followers. More often than not, they can’t keep up and abandon the platforms altogether. Implement a social media strategy with a manageable number of accounts to start and branch out only when you are certain that you can share relevant and engaging content on each platform regularly.

      17. Being Anti-social on Social Media

      Your audience wants to interact with real humans, not corporate robots, so develop a tone of voice that is personal and reflective of your brand. Engage in two-way communication rather than talk only about yourself. To stay on track, follow the social media “Rule of Thirds” – your social media content should be one-third about your brand, one-third sharing content in your industry or thought leaders, and one-third based on interactions with your audience.

      Conversion Optimization

      18. Not Having a Single Purpose

      As a marketer, you may already know that it’s important to send your ads to a dedicated landing page rather than to your homepage. While the homepage is designed to convey your overall brand and encourage visitors to explore your site, your landing page should serve one purpose only – to get your visitors to convert through a single call-to-action.

      Landing pages with a single purpose typically produce better results because they help narrow a visitor’s focus and get more people to follow through with your call-to-action. The more choices people have, the longer it will take them to make a decision – so reducing options will increase your conversions.

      19. Ignoring Site Speed

      According to Conversion XL, 57% of visitors will abandon a page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load, so a slow website could result in lost conversions and sales. Besides delivering a better user experience, having a faster website also ranks better. Site speed is one of the signals used by Google’s algorithm to rank pages. You can improve your site speed by optimizing your code, optimizing your images, improving server response time and leveraging browser caching.

      Here are a few free tools to evaluate the speed of your website:

      20. Failing to A/B Test

      Conversion optimization is not about guessing what users want, copying other sites or applying “best practices” and hoping they work. If you don’t A/B test you won’t really know what’s causing your marketing efforts to succeed or fail.

      A/B testing or split testing involves comparing a variation of a webpage, app or email to the current version to determine which performs better. The next time you implement a campaign, conduct A/B testing so that you can make informed decisions based on “what you know” instead of “what you think.” Remember to test only one factor at a time and keep the features that result in positive changes.

      Wrapping It All Up

      21. Trying to Do Everything Yourself

      Digital marketing is a time-consuming endeavour that takes place in a rapidly changing environment. If you don’t have the knowledge, skills or resources to do it all by yourself, consider asking someone with deeper expertise to help you define and execute a strategy to get a better ROI. In addition, they can help you stay abreast of the latest digital marketing best practices and tools so that you can gain a competitive edge.
    • 21 Website Mistakes Marketers Make and How to Avoid Them

      by Kevin Elliott | Nov 14, 2016

      As a marketing or business professional tasked to build or redesign a new company website, you’ll want to be certain that your web project hits the mark. Having strong web design guidance for your website’s construction is essential for the growth of your business online. To help you succeed, we’ve identified 21 common website mistakes to avoid.


      Planning & Strategy

      Mistake #1: Not Using Data to Drive Your Decisions

      Relying on too much gut and not enough evidence can lead you to make poor decisions about your website. We often meet clients who have minimal data to inform their site goals and decisions. Goals should be founded on data, which you can find from several sources:

      • Google Analytics
      • Google Search Console
      • Surveys
      • Keyword research
      • Usability testing 

      Monitoring and analyzing your current website’s performance will help you to better understand your audience’s behaviours and give you the background to build a winning website.

      Mistake #2: Not Defining Page Priorities

      There are a host of elements used in web design - headlines, content, calls-to-action, widgets, banners, graphics, photography, video and tools come to mind. Purposefully revealing these elements in a logical order to support your goals and your audience’s interests can make or break your site.  Figuring out what people want from your page is the first step. Then, by presenting information and features in order of importance, your site will deliver better conversions and a more satisfying user experience. One way to sequence your information with a page layout is using horizontal slices, where your first priority appears in the top slice, followed by next and so forth.

      Mistake #3: Not Knowing Your Audience

      To be really effective, your website needs to speak to and resonate with your target audience. Develop a persona around your ideal customer or visitor to better understand their goals, their decision-making processes and their expectations for your website. In addition, evaluate your competitors - what they are offering to your audience, and how can you be different? Don’t try to appeal to everyone or you could end up with a muddled website.

      Mistake #4: Not Differentiating Yourself

      For service-based companies, your potential customers will look at your company personality when deciding to hire your service. A generic website design won’t help customers determine whether you are a good fit. Inform your website with a personality that matches yours. For example, write with a voice that matches your business style or use the “About” page to showcase your personality. You can also include bios and photos of you or your team – but beware of headhunters and competitors trying to recruit your staff. 

      Mistake #5: Failing to Define Requirements

      By thoroughly outlining the scope and requirements for your website project, a web design agency can provide a more accurate fee estimate and make informed recommendations. Consider the following requirements:

      • Technical – What features and widgets will you need? Will you be connecting to a point-of-sale (POS) system or an intranet?
      • Content – What type of website will it be – lead generation, ecommerce, customer service, brochure, brand or content? Do you have existing content or will you create new content?
      • Design – Will you be leveraging existing brand materials or establishing a new standard? What will be the tone of your design (e.g., friendly, corporate, clinical)
      • Audience – Who will visit your website? What do they want and expect? How can you help them?

      Mistake #6: Having Unrealistic Time Expectations

      You’ll need to allow enough time to properly build your website. Most web projects include multiple steps, tasks and processes that are carried out by different teams and specialists. In addition, many tasks cannot begin until a previous task is completed and signed off on. 

      Other activities that may impact your timeline include coordinating with internal stakeholders to review and approve designs and allowing time for professional photographers and content writers to do their part.

      Mistake #7: Not Structuring Your Website for Growth

      Consider your corporate growth and acquisition strategy when planning your website. For example, think about whether you will be expanding your business and website with:

      • New products or services
      • New locations
      • Additional staff or management
      • Third-party systems
      • New content

      If your web design team understands your growth path, they can recommend a scalable design solution and content-management system (CMS) that more readily meet your present and future needs.

      Mistake #8: Building a Website That Doesn’t Convert

      Your website is one of the most important tools for your business – it can serve as a silent salesperson, an authoritative thought leader, a billboard and much more. To meet your communication objectives, you’ll need to make sure your website can elicit a response from your audience. Whether it is to fill out a form, sign up for a newsletter, or make a purchase, your website should be working for you.

      Optimizing a site for conversion is a science; as an ongoing practice we recommend experimenting to see what elements will help you elicit the desired response more readily. For example, you can conduct A/B testing on your calls-to-action, headlines or button placements. Be sure to only test one thing at a time and implement the variation that works. Over time, minor improvements in conversions will add up to significant results.

      Information Design

      Mistake #9: Not Being a Subject-Matter Expert

      Your visitors (and search engines) expect you to be an authority in your field and you want to build credibility with potential clients. Regurgitating “common knowledge content” simply to fill your page will not make you stand out from competitors. You will be seen as an expert if you consistently share content that is new, original, insightful and useful.

      Mistake #10: Bombarding Your Audience with Information

      Visitors will immediately leave a website if they can’t find what they are looking for, so keep your website design clean. Use straightforward and consistent messaging and don’t mix up messages on one page. Convey your most important information right away, and use adequate white space to break up large sections of text.

      Mistake #11: Not Compelling Your Visitors to Take Action

      Think about the specific actions you want your visitors to take as a result of coming to your site or any particular page. Vague or generic calls-to-action (CTA) will not convert as well as a specific CTA with descriptive copy. For example, “Shop our latest style trends now” will convert better than just “Shop.”

      Placement and prominence of an effective call-to-action will encourage visitors to act, but you’ll also need to give your visitors enough time to orientate themselves to the site first. The CTA should follow a logical flow, meaning it should appear after your brand and main message.

      Mistake #12: Confusing Navigation

      While there is no standard for navigation, navigation must be intuitive, consistent and seamless. Use naming conventions that are clear, concise and familiar to your audience. Help visitors find information easily by showing navigation controls that match users’ goals – for example, if your visitor wants a service, provide a label that speaks to your services.

      Mistake #13: Not Building Your Website for SEO

      Your website may be a work of art, but if your audience can’t find it then it’s of little value to your business. Search-engine optimization (SEO) is too often postponed as an activity to be done at the end. To ensure your website is visible among search engines, SEO should be considered from the moment you start building your website:

      • Crawlable site architecture
      • Relevant, high-quality content
      • Use of headings and sub-headings
      • Metadata, image alt tags and site map
      • Optimum site speed

      Visual Design

      Mistake #14: Not Employing a Content-First Strategy

      In essence, a website is all about packaging your content or data, so you should have your website copy ready prior to the design phase (and don’t underestimate how much time and energy this will take!). If your design team has access to your web copy, then they can craft the design and layout around your copy. For example, they can emphasize titles, introduce photography or build relevant infographics to support your messaging.

      Mistake #15: Making a Poor First Impression

      According to studies done by Gitte Lindgaard, Gary Fernandes, Cathy Dudek and J. Brown, you have less than 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression on your website. This means that visitors will make an instant snap decision based on the initial look and feel of your website. Having a professional design, predictable navigation, clear messaging, compelling photography and scannable content are some of the things that will help you establish a positive first impression.

      Mistake #16: Inconsistent Interface Design

      Predictability is essential for proper usability. Once a visitor has been exposed to a single page on your website, they expect all the other pages to be structured in a similar fashion. If your design is inconsistent, it demands too much effort from visitors to navigate your website and they will likely leave. Make sure your navigation, brand, headlines, footer and utilities are consistent across your website.

      Mistake #17: Violating Design Conventions

      Jakob’s Law of the Web User Experience states that “users spend most of their time on other websites.” This means that they form their expectations for your site based on what’s commonly done on most other sites. 

      While you may have creative ideas for your website, if you deviate too much from the norm your site will be harder to use and less favourable to visitors, not to mention that your company may lose trust and credibility. Ask your web design team how far they can push creative without breaking convention.

      Mistake #18: Poor Use of Content and White Space

      Content is obviously a key part of your website. The way that content is presented on a page will guide and encourage your audience to read further or cause them to lose interest. Visitors scan copy before investing time to read it. So by eliminating long blocks of text, you will increase the chance that your page will be read. 

      Some tips: 

      • Include ample white space to allow your audience to easily view your content. This will also help move your visitor’s eye around the page and highlight important sections according to the priorities that you have laid out.
      • Select a typeface that is consistent with your brand.
      • Choose a font that is attractive and legible on all devices – sans serif fonts translate better than serif fonts on screen.

      Mistake #19: Visual Overload

      While it’s useful to include visuals like charts and videos to support your products or services, trying to cram too many on your page will cause “page noise” which turns off your visitors. Besides confusing your audience, too many page elements can also slow down your site. Every design element should be purposeful and support your goal – if it doesn’t, strip it out. Good design always simplifies rather than embellishes.

      Mistake #20: Using Poor Images

      Too often, the office camera buff is elected to take company photos. While this may save you money in the short-term, in the long-term it can compromise the quality of your site and degrade your brand. Employing high-quality, professional photography will elevate your website and your company brand.

      Make sure your photos are:

      • Relevant to your message
      • High resolution (they can be compressed later) and in focus
      • Properly lit (lighting is key)
      • On brand

      If it is not possible to hire a professional photographer, consider spending time to source relevant stock images – your web designer can help you with this. 

      Mistake #21: Not Delivering Properly Across All Devices

      Mobile site visits have now outpaced desktop visits. This highlights the importance of making sure your site displays correctly on all viewports or screen types to satisfy all users.

      Mobiole internet usage exceeds desktop usage in 2016.

      The mistake of not building your site to accommodate all devices can lead to limited site engagement, navigation barriers, high-abandonment rates and other issues. Your design team will understand and apply best practices for mobile information delivery.

      Talk to a web design expert today

      Preparing ahead of time when designing your website is important to help avoid many of the digital marketing mistakes that companies face regularly.

      Graphically Speaking has been one of British Columbia's leading web design agencies for over 30 years, having built over 3,000 websites that focus on strong digital marketing and design principles for increased conversions and traffic. Book a free consultation with us today to learn how our team of highly trained artists can make your website amazing.

    • 9 Things to Look For When Choosing a Web Design Company

      by Kevin Elliott | Sep 22, 2016

      Since your website is one of the most important assets of your business, selecting the right web design team to work with you is not a decision to take lightly. Working with the wrong team can lead to costly mistakes, as well as missed objectives. Here are nine things you should look for when choosing your web design agency.

      They Listen To Your Needs

      Your web design team should listen to your ideas - after all, it is your website. Only work with a team who is willing to thoroughly understand your needs and do what they can to implement your ideas.

      They Add Value With Their Own Ideas

      Your web design team should be experts in their field and understand what works. They can add tremendous value by making recommendations that can effectively meet your needs. Work with a team who recommends ideas you may have overlooked on your own.

      An In-House Marketing Team is a Must

      Web design is part creativity and part marketing. Work with a team who has in-house marketers - this ensures that they understand marketing and know which marketing features should be included in your website’s design.

      Look for a Proven Track Record

      When determining whether the web design agency is well-established, three key questions to ask are:

      • How long has the company been designing websites?
      • How many clients do they have?
      • How many people are on their team?

      Having a long history of success with clients and projects indicates that the company will be able to support your business in the long term.

      Look for a Portfolio of Live Websites

      Most web design agencies have a live portfolio of past work in order to show their skills and work quality to future clients. Only work with agencies who can show you their portfolio so you can be confident that they can execute your project successfully. Avoid companies or freelancers that may not have the required experience and thus are learning on your dime.

      They Set You Up for Success

      Work with a web design agency who is familiar with the best content management systems and plethora of tools available. Implementing the best tools is important so that once the website is launched, you can add or update your content easily and save yourself from future headaches. Your web design agency should provide an ecosystem for you to manage your website and digital marketing initiatives.

      They Understand Conversion Optimization

      Yes - it’s important that your website looks fantastic, but more importantly, it should convert. Your web design team should understand the factors of a high conversion rate and implement them into the design of your website. Otherwise, you may find yourself with an attractive website but no customers.

      Experience in Multiple Industries is a Plus

      When a web design agency has experience with multiple industries and brands, they are more likely to know which features and functionalities are required for your website to succeed. They are also more likely to create a unique website that helps you stand out from the competition.

      Understanding of Modern Design Trends is a Must

      Web design changes year after year, and it is important to stay relevant by using modern design elements on your website. Take a look at your agency’s portfolio to see if they clearly understand modern web design features such as responsive design and rich animations.

      Talk to a web design expert today

      Graphically Speaking has been one of British Columbia's leading web design agencies for over 30 years, with a portfolio of over 3,000 websites that we're proud of. Book a free consultation with us today to learn how our team of highly trained artists can make your website amazing.

    • Top Website Redesign Mistakes Your Company Should Avoid

      by Kevin Elliott | Sep 22, 2016

      A well-executed website redesign can greatly improve your business results, but it can also take a lot of time and energy to do it right. Once you’ve decided to pursue a website redesign, it’s important for you to properly plan your project to avoid costly mistakes down the road.

      You can save your company valuable time and money by steering clear of the following redesign mistakes.

      Mistake #1: Failing to Set Clear Goals

      Before you pursue a website redesign, you should have a reason to do so. First identify where your current website falls short and what you would like to accomplish with a new website. Some of the many goals you could set are:

      • Increase site visits by X% in the next month
      • Increase leads by X% in the next quarter
      • Increase sales revenue by X% in the next year

      Set clear goals and priorities for your redesign project and use these goals to keep you on track throughout the redesign process.

      Mistake #2: Lack of Initial Planning

      Avoid the mistake of moving ahead too quickly with your redesign process without a proper plan and strategy. Develop your redesign strategy by:

      • Auditing your current website’s performance
      • Outlining your target audience
      • Evaluating your competitors
      • Reviewing your website’s content
      • Taking inventory of your website’s assets
      • Identifying ways to achieve your goals with redesign

      Mistake #3: Not Benchmarking Your Performance

      You should audit the existing site analytics data to understand what currently works well and identify what could be improved. Monitor these benchmarks after your redesigned website is launched so you can compare results. Some basic benchmarks to record include:

      • Page views
      • Visitors
      • Bounce rate
      • Time on site
      • Pages per session
      • Conversion rates
      • Site speed

      Mistake #4: Failing to Define Your Requirements

      You may have a fantastic redesign idea for your website, but it may require special technical skills or software to implement. Outline the scope and requirements of your redesign project before you meet with web design agencies to get proposals for your project. The agency can only deliver an accurate cost estimate if you provide them with correct project details.

      Mistake #5: Setting an Inadequate Budget

      It is quicker and easier to design a website today; however, most companies are requiring more advanced and custom features to meet their objectives. Think about what types of features will help your business and ask your web design agency for their recommendations. The quantity and complexity of features you want will impact the budget required for your redesign project.

      Mistake #6: Having Unrealistic Time Expectations

      Many web projects require multiple steps and processes carried out by different teams and specialists. In addition, many tasks cannot get started until a previous task is completed and signed off (think of building a house). Ensure you include input from all parties to keep your deadlines attainable.

      Mistake #7: Not Testing Your Website Before Launch

      There are a number of metrics you should measure before launching your website, otherwise you may face a troubled launch laden with performance and technical issues. In order to ensure a great website launch:

      • Test your website across multiple devices
      • Proofread every page thoroughly
      • Check for broken links
      • Ensure 301 redirects are working
      • Set up a 404 redirect page
      • Optimize for SEO best practices
      • Install Google Analytics
      • Test that forms are working properly

      Talk to a web design expert today

      Book a free consultation with Graphically Speaking to learn how our team of web design experts can make sure your website launches flawlessly and beautifully.

    • 70+ Questions You Might Ask When Developing or Redesigning Your Website

      by Kevin Elliott | Sep 22, 2016

      Your website development project is a big deal, and you want to do it right. Small oversights can add up and cost you time and money. By asking yourself the right questions before you design a new website or redesign your existing website, you can more effectively meet your goals and objectives.

      We’ve compiled a list of over 70 questions you should ask yourself and your web design team before moving ahead on your project. Hopefully you will find them helpful in planning your website project.

      Background Information

      1. Who is your target audience?
      2. What is the purpose of the website?
      3. What are your goals for this website project?
      4. What are your company’s core values?
      5. How do you communicate your core values to your visitors?
      6. What makes you stand out from your competitors?
      7. Why should people do business with you rather than your competitors?
      8. Do you have any visual branding guidelines (e.g. typography, colours) that need to be followed?
      9. Do you have other marketing materials that the site needs to match with?
      10. Do you want to completely overhaul your website and its functionality, or are you striving for just a new look?
      11. What do you like most about your current website?
      12. Are there features or functions on your current website that you plan to keep?
      13. What are your top three frustrations with your current website?
      14. What do your competitors have on their websites that you wish to have?
      15. Are there any websites with designs that you like?
      16. What design features from these websites would you like to incorporate?
      17. What types of things do you see on other websites that you really like?
      18. What types of things do you see on other websites that you dislike?
      19. Do you have user names and passwords for your web host?
      20. Who will be involved from your company in the design and development of the website?
      21. Do you have a budget you are trying to meet?
      22. What is your timeframe to launch the new website?

        Scope & Specifications

      23. Do you plan on moving to a new host provider?
      24. Do you need help finding the right web host?
      25. Do you have an SSL certificate, or will you need this?
      26. Will your site pages announce their use of cookies?
      27. Will you need to plan for huge spikes in traffic, such as sales or giveaways?
      28. Do you have a completed site architecture for the new site, or will that need to be part of the scope of work?
      29. Approximately how many pages will the finished website be?
      30. Do you have any page wireframes prepared, or will those need to be produced as part of the scope of work?
      31. Do you have the content for the website ready, or will content creation be part of the scope of work?
      32. Who will be doing the importing and formatting of the content?
      33. What types of content will you publish?
      34. Do you or your team need training for publishing content and making website updates?
      35. Will we need to find or create any images for the website?
      36. Will video or audio be part of the new website?
      37. Will you provide us with the proper media files or will media creation be part of the scope of work?
      38. Do you have any other media or PDF documents that need to be incorporated?
      39. Do you have a preference for which content management system (CMS) to use?
      40. Do you need help selecting the best CMS for your needs?
      41. Will you need multiple levels of access?
      42. Do you need to be able to manage content publishing approval processes?
      43. Will you be looking for keyword optimization beyond the website development scope?
      44. Will you do user testing during or after the development process?

        Features & Functionality

      45. Do you require online or live chat features?
      46. Will your visitors require any special accessibility needs, such as screen readers or larger fonts?
      47. Do you have any specific mobile responsive requirements?
      48. Do you need multi-language translation or support?
      49. If so, in which languages will your website be available?
      50. Will you need a shopping cart system for ecommerce?
      51. Does your website need a blog or forum?
      52. Will you allow users to comment on blog posts?
      53. Will users need to log in to your website for any reason?
      54. Do you need any password-protected areas on your website?
      55. How many online forms (e.g. contact, sign-up) does your new website need?
      56. How will you want the submitted forms handled?
      57. How will users be able to share your website’s content?
      58. Do you need any social sharing features to be built in?
      59. Will there be any third-party applications that need to be integrated?
      60. Will you need an events calendar feature?
      61. Will you need a news listing?
      62. Do you have any subscription services?
      63. Do you use a third party for your subscription content delivery and/or payment?
      64. Do you need printer-friendly options?
      65. Do you wish to employ any rich animations on your website, such as animated banners?
      66. Do you wish to employ any “content-on-demand” features (i.e. ability to show or hide content)?
      67. Do you wish to employ any other interactive user-interface elements (e.g. popovers, tabs, overlays, etc.)?
      68. What features, sections or information do you want to emphasize on your website?
      69. How would you like that to be featured?
      70. Do you need an internal site search feature?
      71. Do you require a database?
      72. What specific functionality will the database need?
      73. Do you have any other specific functionalities that have not been addressed?

        Measurement & Analytics

      74. Do you have an Analytics account?
      75. What specific KPIs would you like to benchmark on your website?
      76. What types of data would you like to review on a monthly or yearly basis?


      By taking the time to think about your requirements, you can ensure a great website launch and save your company valuable time and money.

      Talk to a web design expert today

      Book a free consultation and learn how Graphically Speaking can help you cover all of these essential pre-launch questions for your website to function and convert perfectly.

    • How to Optimize Your Product Page for Conversions

      by Kevin Elliott | Sep 08, 2016

      Having product pages on your website that are well optimized can significantly boost your conversion rate. There are countless ways to optimize your product pages – but here are some of the best tips that you can start implementing today.

      As with any type of optimization, the right features will depend on your shoppers and their preferences. Always test your product pages to determine what practices have the greatest impact on your sales numbers and conversions.

      1. Use large, high-quality images with multiple angle shots.

      Product images are important to your conversion rate because they provide your customer with the first and often only impression of the product before they purchase. In a brick-and-mortar store, shoppers can pick up items and evaluate them from a number of perspectives. By replicating an in-person shopping experience with your product images, you can strengthen the user experience and boost your conversion rate.

      • Include multiple angle shots of the products. Your shoppers want to see every angle of the product, not just the front.
      • Product images should have non-distracting backgrounds.
      • Products should be properly lit in their images.

      2. Include a product-zoom feature.

      Shoppers want to see the product in detail before they make a purchase. Make this possible by including a zoom feature on your product pages.

      3. Feature user-submitted reviews to build trust.

      When products have user-submitted reviews, shoppers will feel more confident in making a purchase. Encourage your customers to leave reviews after they’ve made a purchase in order to increase conversions.

      4. Use wishlists to drive traffic.

      Many online shoppers may browse your store without intending to buy anything, but they may come across products that they’re interested in. Implement wishlists to help customers keep track of those products and return to complete the sale on another day.

      5. Show out-of-stock products and offer email alerts.

      Include out-of-stock products in your product listings, and invite shoppers to receive email alerts when the product is back in stock – this can have a significant impact on your conversions, as customers are likely to return to your site to purchase these products.

      6. Include a privacy policy to build trust.

      When your shoppers trust you, they are more likely to purchase from your store. As many online shoppers are concerned about their privacy, a clear privacy policy can help persuade them to make a purchase.

      7. Link to a sizing chart for clothing.

      Your shoppers cannot try on clothing before they make a purchase online as they would in-person. Include a link to a sizing chart so your shoppers can confidently purchase clothing that will fit.

      8. Include personalized product recommendations.

      Increase the average value of your customer’s cart by offering personalized product recommendations. By offering additional products they are likely to also want, you can boost the average quantity and value of your sale.

      9. Offer live-chat customer service.

      Live chat allows your customers to ask questions about a product and get an immediate answer. Offer a live-chat option on every product page in order to encourage shoppers to ask your customer-support team any questions they may have about a product.

      10. Make your product page the right length.

      If your product is complex, use long-form copy to describe it to your customer - this is appropriate for technological items, software and health products. If your product is simple, use short-form content in your product description - this is best for free trials, inexpensive products and items which require little explaining.

      11. Feature product videos on product pages.

      Product videos are one of the most effective ways to improve your conversions. Feature videos on your product pages to give your shoppers more information about how a product is used. This will reduce their buyer’s guilt and make them more likely to buy the product.

      12. Make your shipping policies clear.

      Unclear shipping policies are among the most common reasons for cart abandonment. Include your shipping policy on all product pages to prevent any unwelcome surprises on the checkout page. You should also include the expected delivery date of the product on both the product page and the checkout page.

      Talk to an Ecommerce Specialist Today

      Learn how our experts in ecommerce design and digital marketing can help convert your shoppers into buyers today. Book a free consultation.

    • Product-Page Testing Ideas to Increase Online Sales

      by Kevin Elliott | Sep 08, 2016

      For ecommerce store owners, optimizing conversions on your product pages is a high priority. However, it is equally important to test different factors on your product pages to figure out which have the highest impact on your conversions and sales.

      We’ve compiled a list of testing ideas which you can implement to improve the effectiveness of your product pages.


      Your product-page images should show your product in the best possible light, while making it easy for customers to see detail and get an idea of how it works (or how it fits, in the case of clothing).

      Most images feature the product with a basic, white background. These images are effective for conveying detail, but they don’t show the product in action. Consider adding lifestyle images to your product description - when products are shown both plainly and in action, customers may be more inclined to make a purchase.

      After changing your imagery or adding new imagery, measure:

      • Changes in conversion.
      • Increases in the time your customers spend on site.

      Keep any changes that result in improvements, and continue changing those that do not.

      Ratings and Reviews

      When shoppers see ratings, reviews and testimonials from other customers, they will feel more compelled to purchase a product. There are a number of ways you can feature ratings and reviews on your product pages:

      • Locate reviews nearer to the product’s price.
      • Add “hover states” to ratings, which show more detailed information about a rating.
      • Make ratings and review stars larger.
      • Use large quotes and user images for testimonials to make them stand out.

      Test increases in conversion rates, average order value and revenue per visitor as you make the above changes. Again, keep the features that result in positive changes to these metrics.

      Related Products

      Product pages with a “related products” feature can improve your store’s average order value. However, you need to include just enough products to catch your shopper’s eye without making them doubt the initial product of interest. Some changes to consider:

      • Remove related products altogether from your product pages.
      • Adjust the number of shown related products.
      • Use different algorithms to determine what related products are shown.

      After implementing changes, test for any alterations in conversions. Continue making changes and running tests until you hit the sweet spot.

      Free Shipping

      Free shipping is often reason enough for shoppers to choose your product over a similar one offered elsewhere on the web. You can offer free shipping in a number of ways, whether it be for all products, purchases over a certain price point or as a “sign-up reward.”

      • Create a “free shipping” logo instead of using text alone.
      • Make your “free shipping” label as conspicuous as possible to your shoppers.
      • Adjust the price point that qualifies for free shipping for optimal results.

      Measure any increases in conversions, average order value and revenue per visitor, and adjust your free-shipping options accordingly until each of these metrics is where you’d like them to be.

      A/B-Testing Tools

      There are hundreds of A/B-testing tools on the web. Most require a small fee or monthly subscription, but there are functional A/B-testing tools available for free. Our favourites include:

      A/B testing is essential to help assess what areas of your site are working and, by comparison, what areas need improvement.

      Talk to an Ecommerce Specialist Today

      Learn how our experts in ecommerce design and digital marketing can help convert your shoppers into buyers today. Book a free consultation.

    • Must-Have Features for Any Ecommerce Product Page

      by Kevin Elliott | Sep 08, 2016

      Your customers expect a seamless online shopping experience - anything less will significantly impact your conversion rates. Every ecommerce store must have a number of basic features to please their shoppers. We’ve put together a complete checklist of features your store should include to help increase your online sales.

      Product-Page Essentials

      Your customers want to see certain product information before making a purchase decision. The following features are a must for your product pages:

      • Product titles or names
      • Product images
      • Product detail (materials, dimensions, weight, etc.)
      • “Add to Cart” button
      • Price
      • Product availability (is the product in stock, and if not, when?)
      • Payment methods (Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, etc.)
      • Shipping information
      • Return information
      • Sizing guide (for clothing and accessories)
      • Available colours

      These essentials aim to describe the product and make it easy to purchase. Your “Add to Cart” button should be large and easy to find - if your customer cannot find it within seconds, they may become impatient, resulting in a lost sale. In addition, your product descriptions should be detailed and your product photos should be eye-catching and accurate.

      User-Generated Content

      User-Generated Content (UGC) is content your customer creates for your company. Certain UGC can greatly benefit your store. Typical UGC essentials include:

      • Product ratings
      • Product reviews
      • An option to leave a review or rating
      • Review-filter options
      • An “Add to Wishlist” button

      User-generated content gives your products and your store credibility. By including the features above, your customers will feel more inclined to purchase your products.


      Sometimes customers may add a product to their cart but miss related items that they are likely to want as well. There are a variety of merchandising features you can include on your product pages to help customers find products that may complement others they’ve purchased.

      • Relevant product recommendations (“People who liked this also liked…”)
      • Cross-selling (complementary items such as accessories)
      • Up-selling (“Frequently bought together”)

      Not only do these features help your customer, they help your bottom line. When implemented correctly, the right merchandising features can increase the revenue of your average sale significantly.

      Experience Enhancers

      While not essential, experience enhancers are used to improve the attractiveness of your product pages while giving shoppers more useful information about the product. The following experience enhancers can be used to take your product pages to the next level:

      • Product videos
      • 360-degree views of products
      • Zoom options for product photos
      • International pricing and currency converters
      • Trustmarks (security badges, testimonials, etc.)
      • Live-chat customer support
      • Special offers
      • Product codes
      • Social proof (e.g., how many people purchased the product or added it to their wishlist) 
      • Social-share buttons

      By including the features above, you can greatly improve your product pages and boost your conversion rates.

      Talk to an Ecommerce Specialist Today

      Learn how our experts in ecommerce design and digital marketing can help convert your shoppers into buyers today. Book a free consultation.

    • How to Create a Homepage that Converts

      by SF SF | Aug 16, 2016

      Your website’s homepage is vital to your conversion rate. A visitor’s first impression of your company will define their actions – whether they browse additional pages, sign up for your newsletter or whether they leave your website. Properly designed homepages effectively convert visitors into leads or customers, so it’s important that you design yours with conversion in mind.

      The Purpose of Your Homepage

      Your website’s homepage serves three purposes:

      • To introduce new visitors to what you do.
      • To encourage visitors to explore your website.
      • To convert visitors into leads.

      Homepages that don’t fulfill the first two criteria are much less likely to fulfill the third. Your homepage should inform customers and leave a lasting, positive first impression.

      How to Design a Homepage That Converts

      Design quality directly impacts the success of your homepage. There are several design elements you must include in order to improve your conversion rate.

      1. Communicate What You Do

      Clearly tell your visitor who you are, what your mission is and what you have to offer. Your homepage should convey to visitors a strong idea of the products or services that you provide within just a few seconds.

      2. Avoid Clutter

      A cluttered homepage is a common obstacle to conversion. Visitors will immediately leave a website if they can’t find what they are looking for, so keep your homepage design simple.

      • Use a straight forward structure, intuitive navigation.
      • Make your CTA buttons clear to your visitor.
      • Include white space in order to make text readable.
      • Avoid using images or media that don’t add to the user experience.
      • Avoid using rotating banners, which have proven to inhibit conversions.

      3. Use “Above the Fold” Design Elements

      The idea behind “above the fold” design is to feature your most important content in the top-half of the page. This should include your call-to-action buttons, as well as any other content your visitor should see the moment they load your homepage.

      4. Use Effective Fonts

      At the very least, your homepage should feature a legible font. Use fonts from the same font-family for most of your page – applying a variety of different fonts can make a homepage unattractive and unprofessional.

      Your choice of font will depend on your audience and your message. Sans serif fonts are common choices for tech and marketing companies, while serif fonts are popular on travel websites. Ultimately, you should use an easy-to-read font that matches your brand’s tone.

      5. Include Captivating Images

      Finally, you want to feature interesting images on your homepage. You don’t need to cover the entire page with media, but you will need one or two interesting images in order to captivate visitors.

      • Choose images that match your colour scheme.
      • Select high quality images that won’t appear pixelated or blurry.
      • Include interesting images that represent your brand and your message.
      • Show off your product or service in action, if possible.

      Excellent images are a great way to give visitors a positive first impression of your brand.

      Talk to a web design expert today

      Need help designing a homepage that is optimized for conversion? Book a free consultation and learn how Graphically Speaking can help you improve your website!

    • Tips for Creating the Perfect Landing Page

      by SF SF | Aug 16, 2016

      Your website’s landing pages are crucial to the success of your marketing efforts. A landing page provides people what they were promised in the online ad or search result that got them there. Your landing page should target your audience, offer them something of value and provide the information they came to find, such as the option to download a resource, purchase a product or contact you.

      Minimize Landing Page Distractions

      Distractions are one of the most common landing page killers. Distractions take away from the focus of the landing page – whether that be a sign-up form, a download or a purchase.

      Make the important elements of your landing page bold and reduce the appearance of your navigation menu. In fact, landing pages that take up the entire screen can be very effective at converting visitors, since they remove all distractions including navigation links and page content.

      Ultimately, a single call-to-action button should be the focus of the page. Change any page elements that distract from this call-to-action in order to improve conversion rate.

      Simplicity is Key

      Landing pages with a simple design are more effective at converting visitors. Your website’s design should do the following:

      • Tell your visitor something about your brand.
      • Explain what you are selling or offering your visitor.
      • Clearly point out your call-to-action button.
      • Your landing page should look professional, but not overdone or flashy.

      Make All Forms User-Friendly

      Forms that are divided into multiple pages aren’t a favourite among most web users. Instead of breaking up each field of your form into multiple pages, include all fields on one easy-to-use form. Make this form conspicuous on your landing page, so your customer can easily locate it and fill it out. Lastly, provide a great deal of value in return to maximize conversions and grow more leads into repeat customers.

      Design Your Landing Page to Match Your Ad

      If you’ve posted an ad that redirects visitors to your landing page, make sure the ad and the landing page have matching styles. When your landing page compliments your ad, it shows your visitor that they’ve reached the right place.

      Keep the font, typeface and colour scheme consistent to show visitors they’ve reached their destination. In addition, connect the keywords and copy of your ad to your landing page – for example, an ad featuring “new summer styles” should lead to a landing page that also boasts “new summer styles.” This tailors a seamless experience for your visitors and improves their chance of conversion.

      Deliver an Exceptional User Experience

      Your visitor will likely continue to browse your website after fulfilling your landing page’s call-to-action. You may have converted your visitors on the landing page, but you must improve your post-conversion user experience if you want to nurture long-term customers.

      If you’d like to know more about how to create an exceptional user experience, check out our guide here.

      Talk to a web design expert today

      Looking for ways to improve your website’s landing pages to convert more visitors? Learn how Graphically Speaking can help improve your website design today! Book a free consultation.

    • Website Design Guidelines to Achieve an Exceptional User Experience

      by SF SF | Aug 11, 2016

      There is a lot more to designing a website than just how your website looks. Besides aesthetics, you should optimize your website for usability and user experience – make it simple and enjoyable for people to visit your website. Websites with an exceptional user experience typically perform very well. If your customer can reach their destination with ease, they are more likely to stay on your site for longer and re-visit in the future.


      What Makes an Exceptional User Experience?

      A fantastic user experience is made up of several factors. Here are just some of them:

      • Minimal distractions
      • Logical hierarchy
      • Optimal navigation
      • Conventional layout

      Your website has an exceptional user experience when users can easily and quickly find the information they need. If customers or readers feel confused or frustrated by using your website, there’s a high chance they will leave.

      How to Improve Your Website’s User Experience

      There is no formula to create the perfect user experience. However, there are helpful guidelines you can use to improve your website:

      1. Keep it Simple

      Cluttered webpages can confuse customers. Instead, keep your website as simple and straightforward as possible.

      • Use five colours or fewer on all pages.
      • Choose a simple, easy-to-read typeface and font for your content.
      • Use graphics and media to inform your customers, not to fill up white space on your website.
      • Include plenty of white space to make content readable.

      2. Implement a Visual Hierarchy

      Structure elements of your website should be ordered logically, according to their function and importance – this is known as a “visual hierarchy.” You can establish a visual hierarchy by positioning important elements near the top of the page. Important elements should feature bold colours or fonts in order to stand out against the rest of the page.

      3. Improve Navigation

      Orderly and intuitive navigation is key to an exceptional user experience. Optimize your site’s navigation using the following tips:

      • Minimize the number of navigation options on each screen to seven or fewer.
      • Add major navigation options to the footer of your website.
      • For websites that are content-heavy, include a search box.
      • For websites with more than three levels, implement “breadcrumbs” to show users which pages lead them to their current location.

      Finally, ensure your website’s navigation is consistent across all pages. The location of your navigation links and the labels for each link should remain the same throughout your website.

      4. Use Responsive Design

      The number of mobile users is overtaking desktop users at an ever-increasing rate. As such, it’s important to enhance your website for both desktop and mobile experiences. By implementing responsive design, you website will work smoothly on almost any device, including:

      • Smartphones
      • Tablets
      • Desktops
      • Netbooks
      • eBooks

      Webpages can adjust to the size of a user’s device when a responsive design is used. This makes it easy for users to view and navigate your webpage, no matter what device they are on.

      5. Follow User Interface Conventions

      Most webpages follow a basic design formula which online visitors have come to expect. For example, the logo is usually located at the top of the page, followed by major navigation links, then important content. Contact information can usually be found in the footer.

      Follow common design conventions, even if you have more exciting ideas in mind. This will give your website a solid foundation to deliver an exceptional user experience.

      When a user visits your website, they will decide to stay or leave within several seconds. Improve your conversion rate by delivering an exceptional user experience – think about what you’d like to see as a customer, and implement your ideas into your own user interface.

      Talk to a web design expert today

      Book a free consultation and learn how Graphically Speaking can help optimize your website to deliver an exceptional user experience to your visitors.

    • How to Get the Most Out of Your Website

      by SF SF | Jul 28, 2016

      Make Your Website Work For You

      Your website is one of the most powerful marketing tools for your business. Every website can help you hit your company’s objectives if you follow the right steps. Often times, a few small changes can drastically improve the function and value of your website.

      Plan Your Navigation

      People are visiting your website for a reason and it usually revolves around finding useful and relevant information. Your web interface should provide easy navigation to all of your site content. Information pages, product pages and customer-service information should be made very clear to your visitor from the moment they reach your website.

      Navigation should be intuitive and easy to understand. Browsing menus should be hierarchical, and all pages of your website should be clearly labelled. Your customer shouldn’t be confused as they make their way through your website – make it clear what page they came from, which page they are on and how they can reach their destination.

      Present Your Message

      According to recent statistics, you have only 59 seconds to generate interest in your prospective customer before they leave your page. When users visit your website, they want to know what you are offering – or they will leave.

      Your homepage and key landing pages are powerful conversion tools. Use these pages to:

      • Present your product.
      • Present your mission.
      • Present a lifestyle.

      You’ll convert more page visitors into customers if you show them exactly what they’ll be getting from the very first second they reach your page.

      Optimize Your Loading Times

      In our growing culture of impatience, people have little tolerance for slow websites. According to Kissmetrics, 40 percent of online users will leave a webpage if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds. This gives you a very small window to attract visitors – particularly if your website is slow. Especially for an ecommerce website, a slow loading time could affect your bottom line.

      In addition, Google ranks quickly loading websites more highly than others. If your website loads in less than one second, you’ll be more likely to rank highly on the first page of Google search results. Optimizing your website’s loading times can be done using a number of free and paid online tools:

      Beware of Video Autoplay

      Video marketing is prevailing in today’s online market. More people than ever are turning to video reviews for products and companies. Including videos on your product pages is a great way to increase your conversion rates, but autoplay can be very frustrating for your users – in fact, a recent study shows that over 70 percent of online shoppers found autoplay videos to be more annoying than helpful.

      Videos that play automatically re-direct the focus of your user. They may venture away from your page in order to stop the video. In some cases, customers will close your website entirely, in order to avoid hearing or watching your video.

      Stay Active

      When users visit your website, they should not be greeted with outdated content – particularly if you run a blog. Some ways to keep your website active include:

      • Posting new, relevant content on a regular and consistent schedule.
      • Updating sales and featured products on your homepage.
      • Re-releasing evergreen content to repurpose your best work.

      Update frequently, but don’t overdo it. The more readers you have, the more frequently you should post.

      Talk to a Digital-Marketing Specialist Today!

      Looking for ways to make your website work for you? Learn how Graphically Speaking can help you optimize your website to attract more visitors today! Book a free consultation.

    • 5 Ways to Improve Your Content-Marketing Strategy

      by SF SF | Jul 28, 2016

      What is Content Marketing?

      Content marketing is a form of inbound marketing that brings potential customers to you. It is considered to be one of the top marketing initiatives for B2C and B2B companies. By creating content that answers customers’ questions and needs, you can attract qualified prospects to your business.

      Common Content-Marketing Mistakes

      If you’re experiencing trouble with your content-marketing strategy, ask yourself two questions:

      1. Is my content useful and relevant to my target audience?
      2. Am I promoting my content and making it easy to find?

      With these questions in mind you can begin to fine-tune your content-marketing strategy.

      1. Write for Your Audience First

      Write for your audience first and search engines second. Avoid creating content that is overloaded with keywords. This practice can be very obvious to your reader and will make your posts feel inauthentic. Google’s ranking algorithms may also penalize you for having excessive keyword density.

      Instead, use keywords as the foundation for your content – create topics based on commonly searched keywords, then write content that relates to your reader.

      2. Keep Evergreen Content Fresh

      Evergreen content is content that is timeless and continually relevant to your readers. The idea is that it stays fresh and valuable for months and years to come.

      Creating evergreen content is an investment. As time passes, you can re-publish evergreen content with new or updated information. This is useful in converting site visitors into loyal readers, as your content will always appear fresh.

      3. Stick to a Publishing Schedule

      In order to establish an audience, you’ll need to post content consistently. Create a regular publishing schedule and stick to it. Your readers will come to expect new content from you daily, weekly or monthly and they’ll be more likely to re-visit your page.

      4. Write Scannable, Long-Form Content

      The length of your posts will depend on your topic and audience, but long-form content tends to perform best among both readers and search engines. According to recent statistics, posts with an average of 1,500 to 2,000 words see the most readers online. Long-form content shouldn’t appear as a wall of text. Creating scannable content is also crucial to the performance of your content-marketing strategy. Most people don’t read articles diligently, word for word, so make your content more digestible with:

      • Headings and subheadings
      • Images and videos
      • Paragraph breaks
      • Bullet points and numbered lists

      5. Promote Your Content

      Social-media platforms are among the best online tools for sharing your content. They allow you to personally interact with your readers to build trust and engagement. The best social-media platforms on which to post your content include:

      • Facebook
      • Twitter
      • Google+
      • LinkedIn

      In addition to social media, there are other free and paid tools online you can use to promote your content. Deciding which service is best for you will depend on your audience, but these tools should not be overlooked. Investigate the following to see what they can offer you:

      • Mixpanel
      • TrendSpottr
      • HubSpot
      • Eloqua

      Ultimately, you’ll need to find out which sharing platforms your audience visits most so you can market your content there.

      Talk to a digital-marketing specialist today

      Need help implementing your content-marketing strategy? Learn how Graphically Speaking can help you bring more potential customers to your website today! Book a free consultation.

    • Scannable Content: Writing for the Web

      by SF SF | Jul 28, 2016

      How to Create Effortlessly Readable Web Copy

      Writing for the web is very different from writing for print. Most online readers do not actually read text on the internet; instead, they scan the text to pick out valuable bits. That’s why creating scannable content on your website is crucial to getting your message across. Inspired by Eddie Shleyner’s HubSpot post, here are some tips for creating effortlessly readable web copy.

      According to a study by Jakob Nielsen, the guru of webpage usability, combining these three best practices will help make your content easier to digest:

      • Concise: get your point across quickly
      • Scannable: make it easy to read and save users time
      • Objective: keep it non-promotional and use facts

      Tips for Writing Effective Web Copy

      Scannable content is designed with your reader in mind – it should be short and to the point. There is no set formula for writing scannable content; however there are a number of tips that will help you when writing effective web copy:

      • Prioritize Key Information

        Your reader wants information, and they want it right away. Provide the most important details at the beginning of your article, and include less important information near the end.

      • Be Concise

        Avoid overloading your content with unnecessary details. Provide what matters, and cut out irrelevant information.

      • Headlines and Subheadings

        Content structure is vital to scannable content. Use informative headlines to attract readers and section your content using subheadings – particularly subheadings that contain questions to which your reader needs answers.

      • One Idea Per Paragraph

        Use one main idea for each paragraph to highlight throughout three to five sentences. Paragraphs help you break up lengthy blocks of text into a few shorter ones.

      • Large Type and Bold Text

        Use a large enough font size that is easily readable. Bring attention to important keywords, ideas or critical steps using bolded text.

      • Graphics and Captions

        Strategically place images and videos to support information found in your article – infographics and animated explanatory videos are perfect for scannable content. Include captions to help give readers more context.

      • Bullet Points or Numbered Lists

        Long lists are excellent for organizing large amounts of information. Use short lists for information that can be delivered without a sentence. Long lists and short lists are both great for scanning, so use them whenever appropriate.

      • White Space

        Walls of text do not make for quality scannable content. When writing for your website, include white space to make your content more readable for your audience.

      • Active Voice

        Write in the active voice because it is it easier to read and understand. “Always write in the active voice” is written in the active voice; “the passive voice should never be used for your content” is written in the passive voice.

      Value of Creating Scannable Content

      To grasp the value of the above tips, let’s take a look at a before-and-after example from Nielsen’s study.

      Here’s a control paragraph that Nielsen used in his experiment: “Nebraska is filled with internationally recognized attractions that draw large crowds of people every year, without fail. In 1996, some of the most popular places were Fort Robinson State Park (355,000 visitors), Scotts Bluff National Monument (132,166), Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum (100,000), Carhenge (86,598), Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer (60,002), and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (28,446).”

      And here’s a new version that resulted in an astounding 124% improvement in usability: “In 1996, six of the most-visited places in Nebraska were:

      • Fort Robinson State Park
      • Scotts Bluff National Monument
      • Arbor Lodge State Historical Park & Museum
      • Carhenge
      • Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer
      • Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park”

      What this means for your website is that scannable content could result in better reader engagement and a higher chance of conversions.

      Testing Your Scannable Content

      Using these elements can improve your content but it is important to test just how scannable your content is. There are a number of tools online that you can use to test your document’s readability and scannability. You can find some readability services online for free (such as Readability Score), and many others for a small fee. If you own Microsoft Word, you can use the program’s built-in readability feature to analyze your content.

      Talk to a Digital-Marketing Specialist Today!

      Need help with optimizing your website content? Learn how Graphically Speaking can help you improve your content strategy for higher engagement and conversions today! Book a free consultation.

    • Key Methods for Reducing Cart Abandonment

      by Moneca Looui | Jul 21, 2016

      What is Cart Abandonment?

      Cart abandonment is a common phenomenon on ecommerce websites. Visitors navigate your online store, they pick out items they like, put them in their cart, but never complete the checkout process. In many cases, your would-be customer abandons their shopping cart because they feel intimidated by the purchase they are about to make.

      High shipping costs, slow shipping times, and excessive taxes are all shopping cart abandonment reasons. In other cases, your customers may abandon their cart because they are uncomfortable with your checkout process. In fact, a common reason for shopping cart abandonment is the length of the checkout process itself.
      If your business is experiencing excessive shopping cart abandonment rates, you’ll want to understand why your customers have trouble committing to their purchase. Once you understand the reason for high rates of cart abandonment, you can implement a solution to combat the issue.

      How Often do Customers Abandon Their Carts?

      Many companies have conducted studies on shopping cart abandonment rates, with results ranging from 59% to 78% of customers taking part in the practice. The Baymard Institute collected data from 33 reputable studies on shopping cart abandonment rates, and found the average of the studies to be about 68.63 % – meaning that nearly three quarters of all online shoppers abandon their cart before completing their purchase.

      Further shopping cart abandonment statistics show that the average conversion rate for online retailers is around 3%, meaning that only a small handful of online shoppers will complete a purchase once they’ve visited your store.

      CPCStrategy found that retailers lose about $18 billion each year as a result of shopping cart abandonment, which means your business may be losing out on a lot of money annually because of non-committal shoppers.

      Why do Customers Abandon Their Carts?

      As it turns out, there are dozens of reasons customers abandon their carts.

      Shipping Costs

      Shopping cart abandonment statistics show that 44% of shoppers abandon their purchase because of shipping costs, and another 22% do so because there is no shipping information available on the website or checkout page.

      When a customer feels as if they can get the same product in stores without needing to pay for shipping and wait for delivery, they’ll be very likely to abandon their cart and take a trip to the mall. Many shoppers prefer shopping online because they believe they will find better pricing than in-stores, and high shipping costs are often enough to convince them otherwise.

      Comparison Shopping

      Sometimes cart abandonment simply cannot be avoided. According to shopping cart abandonment statistics released by CPCStrategy, about 30% of online shoppers abandon their cart because they are “comparison shopping.” Shoppers commonly check the price of a product from multiple stores before committing to their purchase. Even if you have the lowest price, they may leave their cart initially only to return at a later time and complete their purchase. When evaluating your shopping cart abandonment rates, keep comparison shoppers in mind, and do what you can to get their purchase in the future.

      Payment Processing

      In addition to shipping costs and comparison shopping, there are a handful of other shopping cart abandonment reasons. About 2% of shoppers will abandon their cart if there is an issue with payment processing, 3% will leave because of unclear product descriptions, and 15% will abandon their purchase because the item they wished to buy is out of stock.

      How Can Shopping Cart Abandonment Be Reduced?

      Remove boundaries

      The simplest way to reduce cart abandonment is to remove any boundaries that may make your customer question their purchase. One of the best ways you can improve your shopping cart abandonment rates is to offer first-time shoppers a free shipping coupon, or a discount on their first order.

      Offering free shipping for all orders during a certain timeframe or for purchases over a certain amount is also a proven way to reduce cart abandonment.

      Create Urgency

      Combating cart abandonment as a result of comparison shopping can tricky, since you may not be able to offer the lowest price on a product for a number of reasons. While reducing your prices is a clear way to win over comparison shoppers, the same effect can be achieved by offering a time sensitive coupon or discount to your customers.

      Shoppers respond to urgency, thanks to their ‘fear of missing out.’ Providing your customer with a time sensitive deal they cannot refuse (such as 24-hour 30% off coupon, or a free gift with purchase during a specific period of time) will play on their fear of missing out, and will allow you to serve non-committal shoppers more effectively.

      Be Clear

      In addition to a secure checkout page, your products should have very clear, accurate descriptions, as well as photos depicting the product from a number of angles. We recommend showcasing customer reviews and customer photos on your product pages.

      When other shoppers see reviews and photos from real people like themselves, they’ll feel more comfortable making their purchase, and feel less at risk of being scammed.

      Add Trust Factors

      Finally, you’ll want to convince skeptical shoppers that your store and your products are legitimate. Many online shoppers have trouble purchasing from a retailer they do not recognize because they have concern with regard to their payment information, as well as the quality of the product they will receive.

      Online scams are common, and there are thousands of websites on the internet trying to take advantage of unaware shoppers.

      Gain the trust of your shoppers by having a secure checkout page that offers many different types of secure payment. Include any badges that prove your legitimacy (such as the “Powered by Paypal” badge).

      Final Thoughts on Shopping Cart Abandonment

      Shopping cart abandonment rates are a problem for nearly every business in the industry of eCommerce. The best way to combat shopping cart abandonment is to understand why it happens, and that can only be done by getting feedback from your customers.

      Email surveys and social media surveys can be excellent tools for beating cart abandonment, as they give your customers a platform to be heard. By listening to your customers, you should be able to find a solution to shopping cart abandonment that gives you and your shoppers a great shopping experience.

      Talk to an ecommerce specialist today

      Need help finding the right strategy for dealing with shopping cart abandonment? Learn how Graphically Speaking can help you optimize your eCommerce website for higher conversion rates today! Book a free consultation.

    • How to Establish an Effective Sales Funnel

      by Moneca Looui | Jul 20, 2016

      What is a Sales Funnel?

      A sales funnel is a general outline that depicts each step of the selling process, from attracting initial audiences, to making the very first sale. The funnel is used to determine ways a company can attract new audiences, make sales, and ultimately increase their conversion rates.While particularly useful for new ecommerce stores, businesses of any size can take advantage of the sales funnel diagram.

      How to Create an Internet Marketing Sales Funnel

      Creating a sales funnel requires several key components. The sales funnel works from the top down, first outlining ways new shoppers can be reached. The sales funnel stages work to attract new audiences and convert them into loyal customers, and the stages of each sales funnel may differ between businesses. Generally speaking, the stages of the sales funnel include:

      • Exposure
      • Discovery
      • Consideration
      • Conversion
      • Retention

      Drawing an actual sales funnel diagram is one of the best ways to understand the cycle. Once you’ve drawn the diagram, write notes on how you can accomplish each step of the plan.

      Completing the Sales Funnel Stages


      Exposure is the first stage of the business funnel for nearly all businesses. During this stage, businesses are looking to attract new audiences to their store. Exposure involves the use of both inbound and outbound marketing methods, but recent trends show a rise in popularity for inbound marketing methods.

      While online advertising and social media marketing can be used for exposure, more and more businesses are turning to blogs to reach new potential customers.  A blog allows a business to reach audience based on their pre-existing interests. Other popular inbound marketing methods for increasing exposure include social media marketing and video marketing.


      If your exposure methods are effective, you will attract new audiences to your brand with time. This takes us to the next step of the sales funnel: discovery.

      Today’s online shoppers are savvy, and they take their time to familiarize themselves with a brand before making a purchase. They may visit your store several times before making their first purchase, as they learn more about who you are as a company and what your products have to offer.

      The discovery stage works hand in hand with branding. Shoppers don’t just want to buy a product, they want to buy an experience, and they want to support companies that share their same values.

      During the Discovery stage of the sales funnel, you’ll want to collect information about shoppers who have visited your site.

      Collect emails from shoppers by asking them to join your subscriber list. When asking visitors to sign up for your subscriber list, offer them something they will appreciate in return.

      Common incentives for subscribing include first-time buyer discounts, free shipping coupons, and free gifts. Once you’ve established a database of shopper emails (leads), you can send them information about your company, your products, and your upcoming sales.


      The third stage of the sales funnel comes into play after the shopper has learned the basics of your company and your products. Some shoppers will immediately leave your store if you are not offering something that fits their needs, but others will take the time to consider what you’re offering before making a final decision.

      This is known as the Consideration stage of the sales funnel. At this point, your store visitor may compare your products to those of a competitor.

      Your pricing, product quality, shipping time, and shipping costs will play a significant role in determining how the consideration stage plays out.

      Online shoppers take consideration very seriously when making a purchase. Most shoppers are aware that the product they want or need is available from more than one source online.

      Many customers experience shopper’s anxiety when browsing online, and it’s your duty as a company to ease this anxiety in any way possible. The third stage of the sales funnel can work your way if you eliminate any factors that may cause shoppers to hesitate from purchasing your product:

      • Keep shipping prices and shipping times reasonable
      • Show customer reviews on product pages
      • Offer coupons or discounts to first time customers
      • Offer a money-back guarantee if your customer is unsatisfied with their product


      If you’ve effectively diminished shopper’s anxiety, your store visitor should convert from a lead into a customer after a few visits to your store. Conversion is the fourth step of the sales funnel.

      After you’ve reached new audiences with your exposure methods, created a list of leads from first-time store visitors, and proven yourself as a business others can trust, you’ll begin to see sales and conversion rates soar. High conversion rates are important to any business, but they are not the end goal of the sales funnel.


      The final step of the sales funnel is Retention. When customers are happy with their shopping experience, they will be more likely to return for a future transaction.

      Building a relationship with your customers is the best way to improve retention. Customers want to feel cared for by the companies from which they make purchases.

      If you offer 3-day shipping, your customer must receive their purchase in three days if you expect them to feel satisfied. If your customer has an issue with a product they received, they will expect fast and effective customer service to have the issue resolved.

      Ultimately, retention comes down to making your customer happy. If your customer feels they’ve had a phenomenal shopping experience, they’ll be more likely to return in the future, as well as recommend your brand to others.

      Even if a customer’s product arrived broken or several days late, excellent customer service and a money-back/replacement guarantee can be enough to convert them into a loyal, repeat buyer.

      One of the best ways to improve retention rates is to ask customers what you can do better. Ask your customers to fill out a survey, detailing what they liked about your service and what you can do better. Offer your customers something small in return, such as a coupon or an entrance into a sweepstakes.

      The more survey responses you get, the more feedback you will have about your products and services. Listen to customer feedback in order to foster excellent customer relationships and improve retention rates.

      Measuring the Success of Your Sales Funnel

      Your sales funnel diagram is an excellent tool for achieving growth, but you’ll need to measure that growth in some way. After you’ve implemented your sales funnel, you’ll want to see how your opt-ins and sales numbers have changed.

      Monitoring your opt-ins should be done using your email marketing program. Most programs that manage your email list will have a tool to measure your opt-in rates; this tool should be used to see how many site visitors were converted into leads, as well as how this number changes with time.

      If the number increases, you’ll know your sales funnel is working for you. If you see little to no improvement, you’ll want to figure out what can be changed to improve your rate of opt-ins.

      Finally, you’ll want to track the most important variable: sales. The sales funnel is about attracting leads and converting them into customers, and your sales numbers will dictate the effectiveness of your sales funnel. Note any changes in revenue from week to week or month to month. As time passes, make the necessary changes to continually improve your sales number day in and day out.

      Talk to an ecommerce specialist today

      Need help optimizing your eCommerce website? Book a free consultation and learn how an effective eCommerce website or digital marketing program will help convert shoppers into buyers today.

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