How have company logos evolved amid the rise of responsive web design?

Piranha Designs - Friday, July 07, 2017
Despite the reputation of the company logo in certain circles as something that remains necessarily consistent over time, it’s fair to say that it has been buffeted by various pressures in recent years – not least of which has been the ascendancy of responsive web design. 

Just think, after all, of the circumstances in which so many of today’s familiar brand motifs – the four Audi rings, for example, or the yellow ‘M’ of McDonald’s – were conceived. Until as recently as the 1990s, company logos may have been largely expected to take their place mainly on high-street signs, on printed advertisements and perhaps on the side of commercial vehicles. 

Matters have changed a bit since then, with the rise of responsive web design cruelly exposing the deficiencies of many logo designs. At the same time, though, the challenge of scaling down logos in accordance with the smaller screens of smartphone and tablet devices has helped to demonstrate what always made certain brand logos so great. 

The positive characteristics of such brands of which we are speaking are their simplicity and flexibility that not only makes them adaptable to various formats and layout options today, but was already making them effortlessly memorable yesterday – and continues to do so now. 

A short history of effective brand logos 


When “Purple Rain” hit-maker Prince swapped his name for a logo in the early 1990s, the overwhelming response was one of bafflement. However, the late Artist may have actually been ahead of his time in making such a move – and it’s hard to deny that many people remembered it long after he reversed the decision in 2000. 

Much earlier than that, however, the most impactful brands were evolving their logos in ways that would prove, if inadvertently, highly advantageous for the coming age of responsive design. Apple’s first attempt at a logo, for instance, was certainly intricate-looking, resembling a traditional print depicting Isaac Newton sitting under a tree, with an apple hanging over his head. 

However, such a design could hardly be accused of being simple or modern, so it was perhaps unsurprising that just a year later, a new logo was created. With its simplified, albeit instantly recognisable silhouette of an apple with a bite taken out of it, it was clear that the logo’s designer, Rob Janoff, had created a classic. While its colours have varied down the years, the basic motif has continued in use, largely unmodified by Apple, ever since. 

Is your firm’s logo fit for the responsive web design era? 


From Twitter’s bird symbol that presents itself to anyone firing up the micro-blogging platform’s app, right through to the Nike swish and the multi-coloured Google G, a variety of brands have shown their ability to create logos that just happen to scale well to any screen size and are therefore brilliantly compliant with our current responsive web design era. 

Could you say the same for your own company’s current logo, or would you like to discuss with us how we could play our part in crafting a compelling and timeless visual identity for your brand? Talk to our professionals in brand identity and logo design today to learn more.

Is your company website truly embracing voice search?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, June 22, 2017

‘Voice search’, in case you could possibly be unfamiliar with it, refers to the practice of speaking commands into a device to perform an online search. 

Voice search technology is advancing and becoming ever-more relevant, so what can you do to suitably optimise your site to drive ever-greater traffic and sales from it?   

Use language that people actually use 

Being ‘natural’ is the key here. What questions and phrases would your target consumers say when they are talking to their friends and family? You’re less likely to get great voice search results out of the ‘marketing speak’ and promotional ‘buzz’ terms that are used a lot more often by those within your industry than actual customers. 

Keep an eye out for natural phrases in your keyword research. They’re the phrases that tend to be longer and not searched as often, but which are also less competitive and thus easier to win. 

Account for mispronunciations 

It’s only natural that many online searchers for particular brands will read about those brands a lot more than they hear them spoken. They may therefore mispronounce a brand in a voice search – unless you account for such mispronunciations in optimising your site.

However, you will need to be creative in how you achieve this goal. Simply including misspelt words in your standard product content will simply give the impression that you are not professional enough to even bother to proofread your site content, and consumer trust in your brand will diminish as a result. 

Aim for descriptive, textual content 

Ecommerce sites typically consist of a lot of filter and category pages that do not exactly lend themselves well to voice search. This is why it is so crucial to produce descriptive textual content for your site – such as FAQs sections and how-to guides – that actually contains the type of words and phrasing your company might use. 

You should also ensure that you use such natural phrasing on pages of your site that are linked to other parts of your site, in recognition of the fact that search engines are more likely to lead voice searchers to pages that use natural language. 

Would you like to learn more about how you can optimise your site for all of the forms of search commonly used today? Simply get in touch with Piranha Designs today about our highly regarded SEO and marketing services.   

5 ways to make your product images genuinely compelling

Piranha Designs - Monday, June 05, 2017

When you are looking to boost conversions for your ecommerce site, it can be so easy to overlook the most seemingly obvious, but also simple details. Certainly, many website owners don’t put enough effort into ensuring their product images are truly conversion-worthy. 

Here are at least five things that you can do to make sure your product images play their own part in boosting sales from your ecommerce site. 

  1. Make your images relevant and high quality 

    This might seem to be very generic advice, but there are certain ‘conventions’ followed by the big ecommerce stores that are worth following for your images. Amazon, for example, sets out a list of requirements for images, including that they must be professional images of the actual product being sold, as well as in focus, in frame and with no confusing additional objects. 

  2. Include several angles 

    For many products, your ecommerce store will be competing with physical stores that give the customer the luxury of handling the item and examining it from several angles. While the former is not possible with online product images, you can give your customers a measure of the latter experience by simply showing photos taken from multiple angles. 

  3. Give a sense of context and scale 

    When a product is shown against a white background, it isn’t always obvious what size the product is, or how it would look in context – so why not show at least one image that gives a sense of this? While a depiction of your product against a neutral white background is probably still the best choice for your main image, an in-context image – such as a TV on a stand in a home setting – could make a great second photo. 

  4. Show each colour or option 

    This is an especially relevant option for items of clothing, where it may not be clear how the given product actually looks in a certain colour when being worn by someone. Show your customers a separate image of the product for each colour in which it is available, and they may well be surprised by how that product truly appears. 

  5. Make materials and details clear 

    Does the product that you’re selling have certain features, finishes or detailing that may influence the customer’s buying decision? If so, don’t leave them struggling to zoom in on your image to examine such aspects of the product – just take separate close-up images of those areas so that they don’t need to make the effort. 

    As we are well-placed to realise here at Piranha Designs, even the finest details can make a big difference to the impression made by your ecommerce site on the people that matter. Learn more about our ecommerce website design solutions today and what they could mean for your firm. 

Focus on usability to improve your website’s results

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Usability is a massive problem for many online business owners, marketers and web designers – not least as they can be so blind to it. So, how can you spot and fix those usability issues with your website that could be stifling your business’s growth? 

That’s a broad subject to attempt to cover in one blog post – but what we can do is deliver some key insights. 

Usability tests can be instrumental in improving your website 

If you were able to watch a random person – or maybe a not-so-random person, such as a member of your target audience – use your website for the first time, do you think they’d find what they were looking for straight away? Or do you think they would struggle to find what they want, scratch your heads and then leave your site? 

All too often, marketers and designers suffer from what is known as ‘the curse of knowledge’. By that, we mean that they’re so close to, and informed about, their own website that they can barely imagine what it must be like to be someone without any of that knowledge, trying to use their site for the first time. 

Such a phenomenon only makes it all the more crucial to take steps to ensure that your site can be used by even the busiest, laziest and most drunken idiots. If you are successful in accomplishing this, you can bet that even a lot of sober and hard-working geniuses will appreciate the benefits in the form of a much more usable website. 

Only usability tests can be truly depended on to help you to achieve this, as only they – rather than your own intuition – will really show you where you’re going right and wrong with the usability of your site. 

How can you recruit people for your website usability tests? 

It might seem the obvious thing to recruit individuals from your online business’s target demographic – for example, those looking to buy or sell a house if you’re an estate agent, or the kind of people who may wish to volunteer for your charity. 

However, they aren’t necessarily the only valid people on which to test your website. You could also speak to your existing customers about participating in usability testing, or even directly invite people via your site. Even a completely random person could provide useful insights that you may not have gained if you had only tested your site on one person or a single group of people. 

Usability is undoubtedly a tricky subject for even the most conscientious of online business owners, marketers and designers – after all, the most usable sites are often defined by what they don’t have, as much as what they do have. 

Creating a truly usable site can be an extremely difficult endeavour when you are attempting to do this on your own, so don’t hesitate to talk to Piranha Designs about our acclaimed custom web design services that really can make all of the difference. 

We are now firmly in the era of resilient web design

Piranha Designs - Monday, May 08, 2017

It’s easy to get bogged down in current-moment considerations when you feel that the time has come to revamp or refine your company’s website. What are the latest web design trends? However, you might also ask: which of those trends are likely to still be relevant in a year’s time, or five years’ time, or even 10 years’ time? 

This, in turn, might lead you to what is, in many ways, the philosophy of our present era of web design: resilient web design. 

How has web design changed down the years? 

That’s a very grand question to try to answer in the confines of one short blog post, but one thing that is certainly noteworthy is how our appreciation of the constraints of the medium of website design has changed. 

When the web first came to prominence in the 1990s, for example, web designers were generally those who had previously designed magazines, newspapers and other printed publications. They made the transition from print to pixels, but in the process, brought many of their old assumptions, preferences and biases with them. 

It was only natural, then, that they tended to treat the browser window much as they had the printed page. But there was a flaw with such an approach: whereas a newspaper or magazine page had a fixed ratio, a browser window could be any size. 

The journey to our present age of universality 

It was impossible for web designers to know in advance of the size of a given person’s browser window. What duly began over the decades was a struggle to impose order on this new, exciting medium – the web page – on which it was often much more difficult to impose order than had been the case with printed pages. 

So, we got web designers creating pages in ever-greater widths as people’s monitors got bigger – in the web’s early days, most monitors were 640 pixels wide, so they created layouts of the same width. But over the years, this ‘standard’ jumped up to 800 pixels wide... and then to 960 pixels wide. 

Similarly, in the early days of devices capable of fully accessing the web – as ushered in by the iPhone – the ‘answer’ seemed to be to design separate mobile-only websites on domains like m.sitename.com. 

But what happened when the lines between mobile and desktop devices blurred – when we started getting tablets like the iPad, and ‘phablets’? At this point, it became clear that even this segmented approach to web design would not be very resilient to the ravages of time. 

For truly resilient web design in 2017, choose Piranha Designs 

Today, of course, web design tends to be governed by very different principles, of serving exactly the same information in exactly the same representation across all of the devices through which one could conceivably access a given website. 

We are now in the age of not just adaptive web design, or responsive web design, but resilient web design, embracing the idea of just one World Wide Web. 

It’s a philosophy that our own web designers are proud to embody here at Piranha Designs. With all of the above in mind, we’ll leave you with a quote from the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, in an article for Scientific American on his most famous creation’s 20th anniversary. 

“The primary design principle underlying the Web’s usefulness and growth is universality. The Web should be usable by people with disabilities. It must work with any form of information, be it a document or a point of data, and information of any quality – from a silly tweet to a scholarly paper. And it should be accessible from any kind of hardware that can connect to the Internet: stationary or mobile, small screen or large.” 

Contact Piranha Designs today for more information about our complete web design services

Even if your site is attracting visitors, are they coming back?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, May 04, 2017

We couldn’t help but think that a natural follow-up to our earlier blog post on how to boost your site’s conversions if it doesn’t receive many visitors would be to look at what happens when your site does receive visitors, but they don’t necessarily get ‘over the line’ to converting. 

More specifically, we’re thinking of the times when ‘real life’ intervenes for your visitors – when they’re thinking of purchasing from you but then have to take the kids to school, or they have to mop up some spilt liquid at home when in the middle of completing your email newsletter signup form. 

Real life is distracting, and once your visitors are distracted away from your site, there’s no guarantee they will ever return. So how can you boost your brand’s chances?

Being memorable certainly helps 

One of the most old-fashioned tricks in the book when it comes to keeping your visitors coming back is to simply make your brand memorable. Even just a quirky name, rather than an overly bland or corporate one, could help to keep your brand in your prospective customers’ heads. 

Then, there are all of those brands that have risen to prominence on the basis of an amusing viral advertising campaign or something else a bit crazy. Just consider the especially famous example of Lingscars.com, which is surely one of the most garish sites you could ever expect to see – and yet, behind it is a multi-million-pound success story. 

Continual customer communication is also vital 

A perhaps more sustainable approach for most businesses than the Lingscars.com one is to ‘capture’ the customer in some way – whether by getting them to subscribe to an email newsletter or social media updates – so that there’s no longer so much pressure to get them to buy in a single session. 

It may be as straightforward a task as getting them to follow you on Facebook or Twitter, or you could attempt to persuade your visitors to return through ad retargeting or a shopping cart abandonment campaign. If a visitor fills up their shopping cart, for instance, they are highly likely to convert, so a well-timed email with a suitable offer or discount could be just enough to get them over the line. 

Any or a combination of these methods could make an appreciable difference to your site’s ability to get more people coming back. It’s an essential plank of any strategy designed to boost your site’s resilience, and when you talk to Piranha Designs about our expertise in web design, we can help to build you a site that is effective, chimes well with your brand and assists your business’s growth.

3 email subject line phrases that work, and 3 that don’t

Piranha Designs - Thursday, April 20, 2017

Attempting to get responses to your marketing emails can feel like a very hit-and-miss effort at times – and yet, it’s not doomed to failure. Just take a look at these email subject line phrases that have been shown by research to work or not work. 

Three that do work... 

  • “Next steps”: these two words set up an expectation – specifically, that there are next steps to your relationship with this recipient. When one person sets up an expectation, it drives other people to act in a manner in line with that expectation.  
  • “Thank you”: sending a “thank you” email is far from the superfluous activity that many people imagine it to be. Such an email acknowledges to the recipient that their time is worth something, and when you show your gratitude for that, they tend to respond positively. 
  • “Today’s call”: the more immediacy the language of your email subject line communicates, the more opens you can expect to attract. If you give the recipient an easy excuse to shelve any reading of your email until later in the week, there’s a good chance they will never read it. 

...and three that don’t

  • “Can we chat?”: people lead busy lives, so as with a cold call, so often, the answer is “no”. “Check in” has been shown to achieve much greater open and reply rates. 
  • “Something of interest?”: this kind of language screams “sales email” and therefore isn’t something that attracts reads – people just don’t think you’ve made an effort. There should at least be some attempt to tailor the subject line to the value your email provides, as you can do by indicating what the recipient could achieve by reading it or taking advantage of the advertised product or service. 
  • “Invitation to join”: you might think that your use of “invitation” makes you seem welcoming, someone with something to offer. But an automated invite from a stranger is hardly the same as a party invitation from a friend, and that’s reflected in the open and response rates. Maybe something like “Meeting...” or “Introducing...” would be much more effective. 

Even the most seemingly minor changes can make a big difference to the impact made by your email subject lines. Here at Piranha Designs, we offer an assortment of design and marketing services to help your brand achieve a big impact across the breadth of its online activities.

How to boost conversions if your site doesn’t receive many visitors

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, March 22, 2017

As the saying goes, we all need to start somewhere, and if you have a small or start-up business, the likelihood is that your current website – if you have one – won’t be receiving much traffic. 

This presents various issues in terms of improving your conversion rate – after all, when you have no or very few visitors, it is difficult for you to gain a sophisticated understanding of those visitors and determine what does and doesn’t work in terms of attracting and engaging them. 

So, what techniques can you use? 

If your website is a low-traffic one, it may be difficult to undertake the A/B tests that your high-traffic competitors do, for the simple reason that it is difficult to measure any statistically significant differences when changes are made. However, a lot of the other techniques used by high-traffic websites can still be used by even the smallest online businesses. 

Possibly the most fruitful of these approaches is user testing, which doesn’t need to be any more sophisticated than asking a friend – or anyone else you can get hold of – to try out your site while you observe them, noting any issues that arise. 

You may even go as far as having usability tests carried out on the websites of your industry competitors and comparing the results to those for your own site. You may find through this process that there are certain issues on your own site that the competitor has found a good way of addressing on their site. 

Another potential approach for boosting feedback on a low-traffic site could be to increase the incentives for visitors to complete surveys to attract a higher percentage of responses. In addition, you could place your phone number in a prominent position at the top of all of your site’s pages to encourage a greater number of calls, and even possibly charm some of your callers into carrying out long-term usability testing for you. 

Testing doesn’t necessarily need to be out of the question 

Business owners with low-traffic websites often presume that testing isn’t the right way to determine what does and doesn’t work with their site, because it would take too long to generate genuinely significant results. 

However, that isn’t necessarily the case. By testing only the major pages of your site and testing the biggest and boldest possible changes, you often can get meaningful results, even from testing on a low-traffic site. In any case, it is good to get into an early habit of frequent A/B testing, so that you can also realise its benefits at the earliest possible stage.

Don’t allow yourself to be too fatalistic about your low-traffic website! Get experimenting with and testing your site on a regular basis, and you may well see quicker-than-expected results. With our own in-depth expertise in website design here at Piranha Designs, we are well-placed to cater to your needs in this area, including if you need a site to be designed from scratch. 

3 of the key trends in ecommerce site design in 2017

Piranha Designs - Friday, March 17, 2017

Ecommerce website design is expected to see considerable continued change this year – not least the move to a firmly ‘mobile-first’ approach. Web design may be a slow-moving discipline, but we certainly expect significant evolution – at the very least – in how designers think about the design process. 

Here are three of the trends we anticipate. 

  1. Web design becomes mobile design 
  2. Articles about web design written a few years ago frequently mention the importance of creating a responsive or adaptive design for your site, so that a site intended to be viewed on a desktop computer can be accessed and used easily on a mobile device as well. 

    That idea is increasingly being turned on its head, with many ecommerce sites being designed to be mobile first and then made responsive for larger screens, in acknowledgement of the tendency for many customers today to shop on the mobile rather than desktop versions of online stores. 

  3. Hamburgers head left  
  4. A hamburger menu, in case you aren’t aware, is the button or icon consisting of three horizontal lines that can be clicked or tapped to open up a side menu with various navigational options. 

    While a hamburger menu can appear on either the far left or far right of a page, there is an emerging tendency for Google and other leading sites to prefer the left. This makes the menu one of the first things a user notices about a site, even when they are using an assistive device such as a screen reader.   

  5. Long scrolling and continual loading 
  6. When you are designing a site for mobile users, it can sometimes make the most sense to have objects added to the current view as they scroll down, instead of loading a completely new page or view. 

    This is increasingly leading to web designers creating pages that scroll to considerable lengths, with portions of a page only being loaded as and when the user scrolls down to them. 

    In the case of your own ecommerce site, you may do this with your product category pages, having 100 or more products on one page but only loading 10 products at a time to keep page load times short and site performance high. 

    With these and so many more ecommerce website design trends likely to affect how you should approach the creation of your own new site, here at Piranha Designs, we can advise you on the most relevant of them when you take advantage of one of our ecommerce site design packages. Simply enquire now to find out more. 

3 characteristics of the perfectly designed icon

Piranha Designs - Monday, March 06, 2017

Whether it is to be used on your website, social media profiles, printed marketing materials or somewhere else entirely – perhaps more likely a combination of the above – an effectively designed icon or logo can make a bigger difference to your organisation’s success than you might imagine. 

As the most seasoned icon and logo designers know, there’s also a thin line between a perfectly designed one and one that’s merely “OK” or “sort of good enough”. 

Here are three of the attributes to be guided by when designing an icon or logo.  

Form 

This attribute can be defined as the icon’s underlying structure, or how it is made. If you ignore the icon’s finer details and merely draw a line around its major shapes, what forms emerge? Are there circles, squares, triangles? 

Primary geometric shapes like the above provide a visually stable foundation for the design of your logo. It is on such a foundation that greater detail can be provided, but we would advise against any more detail than what is needed to communicate what you need to communicate with your logo. 

Aesthetic unity 

The elements contained within your icon or logo together determine its level of aesthetic unity. These elements may include the likes of square or rounded corners, the size of the corners, the line weights, the colour palette and more. 

Aesthetic unity may be a factor of particular concern to you if you wish to design a set of icons tied together by a consistent visual language – for example, a tendency towards rounded corners or ‘earthy’ colours such as browns and reds. 

Recognisability  

This attribute is about the ease with which the viewer can identify the object, action or idea that the logo is supposed to depict – in effect, the essence of the logo as a whole, rather than merely its component parts. 

You may design a logo that most viewers would recognise as representing an animal such as a fox or an owl, for example, due to the inclusion of the visual elements that would generally lead them to this conclusion. 

Are you anxious to ensure that your organisation’s logos and icons represent a good fit for your desired visual identity and wider objectives? If so, contact the Piranha Designs team today about our highly rated brand identity and graphic design services and expertise.  


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