• To Build A Better Product, Get To Know Your Users

    Get to know your users. It’s a simple statement, really, but a powerful concept. One that we at Site Assembly — and those of us in the web design industry as a whole — have given a name. It’s called user experience design (or UX design) and it’s just a fancy name given to a really simple concept, which basically refers to designing your products and websites around your users.

    In everyday life, user experience design can include designing a sidewalk more efficiently so pedestrians can cut through a park rather than walk around it. Here at Site Assembly, user experience design refers to designing websites around specific use cases and calls-to-action. We understand and implement these practices on a daily basis. But, it’s something that I think we should talk about more openly.

    Especially if your goal is to convert website users into followers, subscribers, and customers.

    This is nothing new, really. Most of the world’s biggest brands, including Coca-Cola, Apple, and Uber, spend millions of dollars on user testing and product research to develop and improve their products.

    At Site Assembly, we have the unique advantage of working with a wide range of clients. From local mom and pop shops to some of the world’s biggest brands, the idea is the same: If you want to convert website visitors into customers, you’ve got to show them exactly what they came to find as quickly as possible.

    Through a combination of consultancy engagements, research analyses, and data collection, our Site Experts are able to take the time to learn about you and your brand in order to build a more user-driven website.

    But, why would you want to build a better user experience?

    If I haven’t already answered that question, the real answer is even more obvious: Because you should. You’re in business to make money, right. You wouldn’t invest in something that you knew wouldn’t, in some way, benefit your business or add to your bottom line. Well, that’s the sort of thought and research you and your web managers need to put into building your website.

    If you understand the steps to take, the journey becomes much less frightening; and the reward far greater. I promise.

    If you need help navigating this blog, let’s get in touch: daniel@siteassembly.com.

  • Data In Design: How Information Analytics Is Clouding Our Minds

    There’s no denying that data is a great thing. The accumulation and analyzation of it has become the next great frontier in technology, leading to a new world of startups, as well as more efficient ways to do things. It gives us insight into our applications and user engagements that we can in turn use to make more informed decisions as web designers, project managers and app developers. Data undoubtedly helps us to improve business processes and boost user engagement. But that doesn’t mean it’s the end-all to building killer user experiences. In fact, too much data—or the over-consumption of analytics-based information—can actually end up getting in the way of us doing our jobs most effectively. At times, data collection can even contribute to the stagnation of new design trends and may actually end up stifling innovation in more ways than one.

    “You’re not suggesting that all this information we’ve been collecting in vast troves can’t be used, though, right?”

    Of course not!

    In order to be the best at what we do, though, we must be able to admit our own faults. And right now, our fault as web designers and developers is that we tend to rely too heavily on data collection to make design decisions. Of course, data is one of the most important things to consider when creating and designing user experiences. But if we’re not careful, data collection can have a tendency to get in the way of our professional expertise and lead to our making of somewhat less exceptional design decisions.

    Think about it like this: The web is a vast, wondrous universe, ever-expanding in nature just like the very universe we occupy as humans. Evolution, therefore, is key to innovation and is what drives us forward as a collective—that being the Greater Design Collective. However, without adaptation and iteration, innovation cannot—and will never—exist.

    In December of 2014, Gil Press, an author and contributor at Forbes Magazine, predicted that Big Data would reach $125 Billion by the end of 2015. I’d be ignorant to suggest that the data we’re collecting on such massive scales isn’t beyond useful to say the least. Nor would it be beneficial to anyone for me to suggest that data isn’t extremely helpful in the curation and execution of better user experiences, and in making better design decisions. The point I am trying to make, however, is that it’s okay to mix a bit of that data collection with your own intuition in order to build unique user experiences and help push design forward.

    So, as we approach this holiday season, why not give yourself the gift of using more of your own expertise and less of that stuff called data. Help yourself to a healthy serving of experimentation and don’t feel bad about it. Discover new things and build new experiences without boundaries. You may be surprised to discover that when you do, more forward-thinking processes are created.

  • What To Consider When Launching Your Online Presence

    Launching and building your online presence may seem daunting and confusing if you’re not a technical business owner. (Don’t worry, you’d definitely fall into the majority if you’re in that category.) The task probably seems even less appealing if you’ve been left to manage it all yourself in the past, as if you have the time and expertise to maintain your website, manage your online presence, and learn SEO trends—while, of course, simultaneously running your own business.

    Truthfully, there are a lot of moving parts you’ve got to do to keep your online presence moving in the right direction. The good news is, with an experienced team on your side, the process can actually be quite manageable — pleasurable even. So, if you’re looking to “take the plunge”, consider these five things to gain an edge and get ahead!

    What are your website’s objectives/goals?

    One of the first things you should be asking yourself when looking to build your online presence is, “what is the intended goal of my website?” This is important not only for you, but more so, for your designer. Without this information, your designer will simply be designing “in the dark” (i.e. designing without a plan). This is less ideal for you, to say the last, and certainly not ideal for your business’s bottom line. So, before you go any further, take some time to figure out what you want to get from your website. Or, more fittingly, what your website can do for you—whether that be marketing your brick-and-mortar business, selling your products online, or adding to your newsletter readership.

    Where are your customers hanging out?

    If you’re just now getting your business online, chances are, you haven’t thought much about what sort of social outreach you’re going to implement to engage with your customers. And that’s okay. Now’s the perfect time to start! The best way to figure out how best to reach your potential customers is to first figure out where they’re hanging out already. For instance, let’s say you own an organic smoothie shop, who’s target customer is between the ages of 18 and 35. In that case, creating visually-stimulating Instagram posts that offer insights into the ingredients of your product would probably catch their attention. Or, if you’re a bike shop in Tampa, FL, writing a guest blog for TampaBikeRiders.org may be your best bet. The bottom line is, if you want to reach your ideal customers, you’ve got to go where they can already be found.

    Have you setup your core social media accounts?

    For Heaven’s sake, don’t deny the glory of social media! At Site Assembly, we’ve seen too many businesses turn down our social media services, and yet neglect to handle the task themselves. This is a detrimental mistake. Your customers want to interact with you; by all means give them what they want.

    Setting up a Facebook business Page and optimizing your Google+ business profile, for instance, can help kickstart your social media presence, and get the ball rolling. After you’re up-and-running, follow these steps to create engaging posts and boost your social media footprint.

    How will potential customers engage with your business online?

    This sort of falls in line with the first couple points, but also expands on them. Creating a strategy where your potential and existing customers can interact with you and your business is vital to creating a strong client base who will return many times in the future. Making it as seamless and easy for them to interact with your business is key to your online success. Some ways you can do this would be, integrating a Live Chat service in to your website, maintaining a strong social media presence, responding to online reviews quickly and sufficiently, or writing detailed blog posts aimed at increasing online interactions.

    What is your budget?

    Let’s not forget about the almighty budget: The dictator over all financial decisions, small or large. Whether your budget is $1,000 or $10,000, determining how best to spend your dollars, and how to maximize your ROI, is of utmost importance. Before you start building your online presence, your budget should be clearly defined and your intended goals set. Once you’ve got that much figured out, the rest will come much easier.