Sparks August 2005 -

Sparks August 2005

In the News

What people hate about websites
A growing body of research shows that web users’ expectations are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Their number one concern is to find information quickly and easily. Too many companies load their sites with eye-catching yet irritating gimmicks that annoy the viewer, get in the way of information retrieval, and ultimately hurt the brand.

Among web users’ most hated techniques are pop-up ads (93% of people find them annoying or extremely annoying), registration log-in pages, and Flash animation. What do these three things have in common? They all get in the way of accessing information.

When potential customers come to your site, they have an objective in mind. If your site obstructs them, they will leave. Moreover, they’ll probably never come back. Plus, there’s a 55% chance they’ll complain about your site to people they know. Not exactly what you’re looking for to build an effective brand relationship!

Design also plays a role in people’s emotional responses to a site. Confusing navigation, slow-loading pages (usually due to too many graphics), and amateur design add to viewers’ irritation. Women generally prefer more color usage and informal rather than posed photos. Men generally prefer dark colors, straight horizontal lines, and three-dimensional renderings.

What does this mean to you? Design your site for visitors’ needs, not for superficial or irritating ad methods. Positive web experiences help build a positive brand.

Learn more:
Web Pet Peeves
Gender Differences

Enter today—win two tickets to Lotus Festival!
As part of our upcoming fourth anniversary celebration, as always we’re giving away a pair of Lotus World Music Festival tickets to one lucky client! The tickets are for the showcase concert on either Friday, 23 Sept, or Saturday, 24 Sept (the winner decides). This contest is open to any current Design client, but we need to know you’re interested! E-mail us and we’ll enter you in the drawing to be held on Friday, 09 Sept. This is our way of saying “thank you” for helping to make our business a success!

Mills appointed to Visual Communications Advisory Board
Cairril Mills, principal of Design & Marketing, has been named to the advisory committee of the Visual Communications Program at the Columbus campus of Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus.

The Visual Communications Program has three areas of specialization: graphic design, photography, and web/ interactive design. Advisory board members help determine the direction of the program, identify industry trends, suggest curricular changes, advise on equipment and software updates, and recommend community contacts and internship possibilies. The Visual Communications Program is set to receive accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design this year.
Read full press release




This month’s winner: Marcela Quiroz Luna!
In addition to the excitement of seeing her name in lights, Marcela wins a digital print featuring this one-of-a-kind design.Have a favorite quote or saying? Send it in! If your quote is chosen, you’ll receive a T-shirt with a custom design! Check out your competition here.

Client Spotlight

Smallwood Plaza
Bloomington-based NEXTWAVE Management Group owns a number of rental properties in Bloomington and Indianapolis. It’s made a dramatic impact on downtown Bloomington with the construction of Smallwood Plaza, a large, hip apartment community.

NEXTWAVE president John Jacobs, a long-time Sparks reader, came to us for a redesign of the Smallwood Plaza website. The previous site was difficult to use, not optimized for different browsers, ranked poorly in search engines due to its Flash home page, relied on complicated code for simple tasks, and did not reflect Smallwood’s strong, dynamic brand. There were also problems with the administrative back-end of the site and customer service issues. NEXTWAVE was ready for a change.

Working with the power trio of John, Paul Smith, and Kara Cornwell, we redesigned the site from the ground up. We began by examining the Smallwood brand and conducting a mystery shop of Smallwood Plaza to understand how the brand translates into the customer’s experience. We strategized on key elements to include in this first iteration of the site, with an eye towards expanding functionality in the future as well as building a core content management system that can be used by any NEXTWAVE neighborhood site.

Our redesign of the front-end of the site greatly simplified site layout and navigation. The previous site used ambiguous navigation terminology in a confusing array of buttons. Our design “chunks” information clearly so visitors can easily find what they need. Since many site visitors are coming to the site to check out floorplans, we created large, eye-catching icons on the home page with direct links to individual plans. We cut the home page copy by more than half, focusing on keyword-rich phrases that relate directly to visitors’ needs.

Site design is very much in keeping with Smallwood’s strong print identity, with splashes of intense color, angled block type, and dynamic photos. Site functionality includes online rent payments, online applications, and a variety of interactive forms, all of which can be managed easily on the back-end by NEXTWAVE staff.

Future development plans include both extending this newly built functionality to other NEXTWAVE sites, as well as adding new features to Smallwood in particular. The redesigned site is easier to use, communicates the Smallwood brand more effectively, will rank better in search engines, and allows NEXTWAVE to operate more efficiently and effectively.

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