LeAnne Eck

We strive to empower our clients and audiences with knowledge and understanding of the work we do, whether it’s graphic design social media, video production or website development. The technical aspects of many of the areas we offer support can seem, frankly, overwhelming to some, which is why we’re breaking down our process. To help you better understand website production, let’s take a look at user experience.

A BRIEF OVERVIEW

The user experience (UX) looks at how people interact with a website in relation to the site’s overall functionality. It is the study of the who, what, why, where and when pertaining to websites, analyzing what the user sees and stands to gain when navigating a website. Focusing on creating a connection between the user and a website, a successful user experience evokes emotion and feeling that, without it, may come across as static and boring. A positive connection will, in-turn, make the user want to return over and over again.

When you think about website design, UX often takes a backseat to the design and development of a site, but the research and planning serve as the most important steps in the process. Without a good foundation, a site will not have a clear path to function and grow. The study of UX pushes site design further and allows for updates to functionality based on the users’ needs. Can you imagine trying to search for something on Amazon using the interface from 15 years ago? Industry experts study how people use the site to improve the UX over time so as users’ needs change, so does the site.

 

THE FIVE W’S OF USER EXPERIENCE

Taking the time to study UX early on in the site design process will make it easier to use and more likely have users remain on the site longer while also returning more often. Most sites can achieve these benefits by taking a closer look at the 5 W’s listed below:


Determine your audience through research

  • Create employee or customer surveys to identify your existing audience
  • Research analytics, if you already have a site, to see who visits the site
  • Based on the survey feedback and analytics, create a user profile listing a fictitious person who would use the site, this allows the team to give a face to the audience


Focus on what is most important and design the site from there

  • Build off of the information architecture and start by creating wireframes, blocking off areas of the site without actually designing it
  • Adjust the hierarchy of the site to ensure the site flow leads users in the right direction


Create an information architecture and describe information placement

  • If you have a current site, start by outlining the current structure so you can work on making it better
  • Use a white board with sticky notes to easily move items around in real-time
  • Add notes for specific page elements and visualize the layout


Build out a realistic timeline for when you want the site to go live

  • Base your site’s launch around a new product release
  • Stick to your deadline


Determine your goal for the site and the needs of the users

  • Create a focus group to meet and brainstorm what you want users to get out of your site
  • Use sticky notes to get ideas out quickly and narrow down a concept

 

Current website design trends create an easy-to-follow, almost templated user experience. But with creativity, research and planning, the possibilities of website design are practically endless. Follow the five W’s when planning your next website to put your site on the track to success.

Corey Warnick

With the Internet, technology, design and a host of other website-related factors constantly changing, so does the answer to, “What can I do to improve my website?” As it stands today, the keys to a successful website can be broken down into four main components — responsiveness, interactive design, architecture and visibility. As you dive into each of these components, take a look at your personal or business website to see where it could use some upgrades.

RESPONSIVENESS

Having a good looking website will attract users initially, but making sure it functions well will keep them coming back. In the world of smartphones and tablets, making sure your website is responsive and mobile friendly, meaning the site is just as easy to use on mobile devices as it is on a desktop computer, is crucial. If your website doesn’t respond or function well on mobile devices, users have little incentive to stay on the site, and with technology continuing to improve and advance, a growing number of people use their mobile devices to browse the web. According to Statista, mobile devices accounted for 49.7 percent of web page views worldwide as of February 2017.

INTERACTIVE DESIGN

Incorporate movement into your website as a technique for catching the user’s eye and encouraging them to take a look around your website. While interactive elements take many forms, adding big, full-width videos, parallax scrolling — where background images are providing the illusion of depth when a user scrolls — and animation are at the top of the trendy website list add another level of interaction with the user. Keeping the user engaged will extend their stay on your website, leading them to learn more about what you have to offer.

ARCHITECTURE

Displaying the right information on your home page, such as call to action buttons and links to other pages, helps guide the user directly to the content they want. At a minimum, the most important information you should feature on your homepage includes details about you or your company, services you provide and contact information. You don’t want to overload the user the moment they visit your site with a lot of unnecessary content that could potentially confuse or mislead them. Smart architecture will give users what they need on the initial visit and more information as they become more familiar with your site.

VISIBILITY

So your website is responsive, has interactive elements and excellent architecture, but can your target audience find it? That’s where Search Engine Optimization comes in. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to getting your website to rise to the top of Google, Bing and other search engine results. Proper meta keywords, titles and descriptions relevant to your website content not only help define you or your business, but they help users easily find you.

As technology continues to advance and design trends continue to evolve, staying familiar with website terms and trends will help to ensure your website’s success. Think about your visitors when making or considering updates and how you can enhance their user experience.

For more information about user experience, stay tuned for an upcoming blog with everything you need to know. Are you planning on updating your website? Leave us a comment with your plans!

A. Bright Idea recently received recognition from the 2013 Communicator Awards, receiving Award of Distinction honors in three different categories.CommSilver1

Earning two Awards of Distinction, for a Cultural Institution and a Government website, the Battle of Bladensburg website was a project for the Maryland State Highway Administration in commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of The War of 1812. The site features interactive maps, timelines, paintings and an interactive video recount of the battle. Check it out here: http://battleofbladensburg1812.com/Bladensburg/

Additionally, a wedding menu designed for Grapevine Catering also earned an Award of Distinction in the Marketing/Promotion category.

View the menu here: http://www.abrightideaonline.com/portfolio/project/grapevine-wedding-menu/

We are certainly proud of our talented team, as well as the results for our clients.

Thanks to our clients for giving us the opportunity to work on these exciting projects!

 

 

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  • The experts at Courtland Hearth and Hardware warm homes in the Baltimore Metro with an advertising campaign, complete with a custom illustrated campaign mark and in-house production. Look for Courtland’s Fireside Chats on TV and on the radio this fall and winter.
  • Smith & Co Dental showcases its modern approach to dentistry with a sleek and state-of-the-art website design, also featuring an “About us” video produced and edited by the in-house talent of A. Bright Idea.
  • A. Bright Idea embraces Patriot Pride for The John Carroll School with marketing, design and interactive support for the2012 Viewbook, 2nd Annual Alumni Weekend, 25th Annual Ullmann Golf Tournament, special edition Connections Magazine and Annual Report, and the Capital Campaign container piece and collateral materials.
  • Madison Bank launched another great mortgage loan promotion, offering customers a competitive rate and a different take on the terms for new mortgage loans, promoted through a regional advertising campaign and microsite, changing the lives of banking customers with three little numbers – 10, 12 and 15!
  • A. Bright Idea was thrilled to work on the website redesign project for the Public Relations Society of America, Maryland Chapter (an organization near and dear to our hearts!) The new website includes interactive features and custom content management capabilities to keep the organization on the cutting edge and the go-to resource for PR pros like us. Access the website on your mobile device to see a responsive design layout as the site detects the size of your screen and formats the hierarchy of information accordingly (yes, that is cool!).
  • The Red Grape entices your taste buds virtually with a newly redesigned website with custom design, photography and interactive features. Warning – Viewers of this website are prone experience a serious case of hunger.
  • A. Bright Idea recently provided advertising and on-site support of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend. Experience the cork flying frenzy for yourself with our recap video!
  • Pairings Bistro connects with customers virtually through a strategic social media plan developed and set up by A. Bright Idea, including a presence on social media’s most popular platforms, Facebook and Twitter.

 

Courtland Hearth and Hardware Fireside Chat

Courtland Hearth and Hardware Fireside Chat Mark

Get inspired with a new way to view our creative

As a creative shop, staying cutting edge when it comes to technology gives us just another excuse to retreat to our “creative playground.” Our newest creation? A dynamic website user experience built on with the latest web technologies, HTML 5 and CSS 3. The new website showcases our extensive portfolio while also sharing helpful resources through our blog and detailed information about our staff and full service capabilities.

For those who don’t speak code, HTML is a language used for structuring and programming websites behind the scenes so they can be easily read and used by viewers on the World Wide Web. CSS is the code that controls the graphics and colors displayed to website visitors. Since these languages are so widely used around the Internet, updating them with new features is a long and slow process.  Fortunately many of these new features are available now on modern web browsers.

The previous version of HTML, HTML 4.01, was last updated in 2000! And yes, that means website design was confined to technology over a decade old, which is nearly a lifetime in the technology world. It’s more important than ever to use an updated web browser to take full advantage of what HTML 5 can offer! By exploring the depths of HTML 5, our creative minds can truly think outside the box to create custom solutions based on the ideal user experience.

The latest version, HTML 5 includes features that will change the way we experience websites, including:

  • Reducing the need for external plugins (like Flash that doesn’t load on mobile platforms)
  • Less frustration with errors and better error handling
  • Advanced form fields that include validation without requiring extra programming
  • Ability to build charts, graphs and interactive graphics with the new Canvas element
  • Streamlined code for faster page loads and improved semantic structuring to help search engines with indexing content.
  • Standardized support for video using the <video> tag

 

CSS is also getting an update with the march toward CSS 3. The new features will be more noticeable to the visitors than the update to HTML 5. Some of the new features include:

  • Transparency
  • Animation
  • Rounded corners
  • Drop shadows
  • Media queries (used to change layouts and styles based on mobile vs. desktop platforms)

The enhanced capabilities and features of HTML 5 and CSS 3 allowed us to present our creative and unmatched capabilities in a refreshing way, the perfect combination of sharing content the way our creative minds intended and organizing it in a way that makes the most sense to our visitors.

Just a few of abrightideaonline.com’s newest features and interactive capabilities:

  • Responsive site design perfect for any screen size or tablet device
  • Live social media feeds, including Facebook and Twitter
  • Online portfolio with intricate search capabilities
  • Interactive office tours

 

A. Bright Idea Homepage

Managing a website can be time consuming and overwhelming, especially when it comes to technical problems most business owners just can’t fix on their own.  For example, how many times have you visited your own website only to forget exactly what’s available or to encounter broken links? Or your list of small updates you want to make continues to grow?

 

As a small business, we recognize all of the demands that can take your focus off your website – your primary interface with customers and potential customers. We created the Digital Marketing Manager as the perfect solution for website hosting and maintenance, designed for organizations and small business owners looking for a hassle-free Internet marketing experience. This maintenance schedule, includes 1-2 hours of support per month for the client to use over the course of a year, and ensures accurate and updated content to keep your website is relevant. This includes:

  • Monthly hosting of your website
  • Monthly review of your links and images, to ensure all are working and linking properly
  • Monthly updates and posting of new content provided by client, including monitoring content and photos that can become outdated
  • Minor updates such as posting documents, updating announcements or event calendars

 

Further looking out for your best interest, as part of the Digital Marketing Manager, A. Bright Idea also compiles quarterly website analytic reports so you can analyze how your site is working, including number of visitors, page traffic, keywords, traffic sources, top content and more. With the web analytics report, clients also receive quarterly site recommendations and suggestions for updates and improvements.

The creative team at A. Bright Idea finished and launched a new website for Susquehanna OB/GYN. Susquehanna Obstetrics, Gynecology & Nurse Midwifery offers knowledgeable and personalized reproductive healthcare to the women of northeastern Maryland – and have been doing so for four generations! Susquehanna OB/GYN takes great pride in their full time local offices and exclusive use of area hospitals. Providing copywriting, graphic design, interactive services and more, A. Bright Idea has enjoyed working with this local Maryland company and looks forward to continuing working with them.

Visit the website here: http://sogmd.org/

Susquehanna OB/GYN Homepage