Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Design & Layout

Design & Layout

Your web site design can (and should) be as unique as your company, we do not advocate cookie-cutter web designs. That does not mean, however, that your web site should not follow a set of design principles (similar to those of print design). In almost every case, a clean design with plenty of “white-space” is the best starting point. It is by no means enough, however.

Every element of a web site is a useful tool for relaying a message to the navigator about whom you are and why they should give you their hard-earned money (or why they should spend more time on your site). The color scheme affects their mood, the graphics and icons portray an image of who you are, the fonts and layout determine how easy on the eyes the site is — and therefore potentially how long they will stay, and the list goes on.

It is crucially important to get the right combination of these elements in order to build the perfect web site for your company. At Leone Image and Design, we are dedicated to working together with you and your company to come up with an overall design strategy for your web site that will allow it to do what every web site should: earn you money.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

For companies that rely on their web site to bring them new business, the visual design of the site can be secondary; what the visitor sees is less important to them than what the search engines see. The reason is simple: people searching for your product or service on the internet use search engines such as Google™, Yahoo™ and MSN Search™ to mention a few. The search engines “look” at every page on your web site and determine how high up the list you appear for a given search. What the search engines see can be quite different from what your visitor sees.

Let us say, for example that you have a hotel in Vancouver, BC. In order to maximize the number of visitors to your web site (and presumably the number of reservations), your ultimate goal would be to come up as the first result on all the major search engines when someone does a search for “vancouver hotel” or anything similar.

Getting your web site ranked higher in the search engines is the aim of search engine optimization (SEO, for short). The problem is three-fold:

  • the algorithms that search engines use are complicated mathematical formulas that are very difficult to understand,
  • the search engines keep their algorithm a very tight secret,
  • and they are constantly changing and fine-tuning this algorithm.

Nonetheless, it is possible to optimize a web site to get a better ranking for a given search, using the right tools and a well-executed and ongoing plan. That’s where Leone Image and Design comes in.

It should be noted that there are many companies out there that claim they will “register” your site with x number of search engines (usually in the hundreds) or that they can guarantee you a top ranking in the search engines. The former is useless because registering your site on the four or five top search engines (which cover over 90% of all searches) is either free or unnecessary and registering does not get you a better placement; the latter is almost always a scam; no one can guarantee you a top placement in any search engine unless you agree to pay the search engine for every time someone clicks on your link. This type of “pay-per-click” campaign can be effective in some cases, but is not the same thing as appearing at the top “naturally,” without paying. Visitors tend not to click on these pay-per-click results - which are clearly marked as ads — as often as the natural search results. If a pay-per-click campaign is right for you, you can save some money by going directly to the search engines. In summary, buyer beware: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Another path we at Leone Image and Design warn against is a web site made completely in Flash™. Flash is a wonderful program that (among other things) allows web designers to incorporate animation and motion into web sites. The header that loads at the top of every page on this web site is made in Flash. Because of its ability to create beautiful, fluid and interactive user interfaces, many web designers are designing web sites completely in Flash. The drawback to this is that sites designed completely in Flash are virtually invisible to search engines, which means you get a poor ranking and therefore few visitors and sales.

Leone Image and Design can create and execute a search engine optimization plan on your behalf to help drive the greatest number of visitors to your site. Please contact us to evaluate your current site, develop a SEO plan, and help you in deciding whether or not it would yield you net profits.

Content & Copy

When it comes to writing the content of your web site — the actual words your visitors will read — it is critical to get the visitor’s attention as quickly as possible and then to keep them reading. The longer a visitor spends on your site, the likelier she is to spend money and/or return to your site. This can be achieved on your site by using attention getting titles, headings and first sentences as well as strategically placed pull-out quotes, images, tables and bullet lists

Leone Image and Design can write copy for your site in any style that you would like (old-english, technical, witty, etc.) while keeping with your overall marketing strategy and getting as much attention as possible.


One of the greatest frustrations of web surfers is navigation (or lack of navigability). Your site may contain a wealth of resources that a visitor would like, but if they can’t easily find it, they will leave and likely never come back to your site. The experience is analogous to not being able to get help at a retail store even after asking for it several times. You may be losing money simply because your site is not arranged in a way that makes it easy to find the resources you provide.

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