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Two Web Design Trends That Are Here To Stay

responsstrat.jpgBy Craig Schneider, Designer/Front End Deeveloper

Web design trends come and go faster than political posts in Facebook, so it's important to weigh their potential against their impact on your site. Sometimes these elements benefit the user experience and become common user interface patterns. But often these experiences fail to deliver any tangible results.

These two "trends" have proven their worth and become mainstays in today's web design.

Hero images (not the Marvel or DC kind)

We've all seen multi-image sliders or carousels at the top of website home pages. Although they're very common, studies have shown that the use of multiple images can lead to mixed messaging and confusion from a marketing standpoint. In addition, image sliders increase load time because multiple images and scripts need to load in order to run these elements. Instead, we recommend pairing a hero image with elements that move a user down the page (users do scroll, and the lingering myth to the contrary has been debunked). This eliminates the need for confusing carousels and reduces load time.

By reducing the clutter on a page and presenting a singular image tied to your marketing message, you reduce the potential for information overload and allow a user to focus and settle into your site. If you want something more visually exciting, using subtle animation or video elements can enhance the visibility of the area, furthering the potential of discovery.

Responsive design

Responsive design is no longer just a trend, it is best practice. With ever-rising mobile traffic and the cross-pollination of site traffic from social media, it is imperative to deliver a site tailored to the user's specific device. Responsive sites use percentage-based widths and responsive images to adjust layouts as they scale down to mobile devices. This fluidity, along with the ability to turn off elements to reduce clutter, leads to increased site performance.

Not only is the visual user interface important from a branding standpoint, but it also impacts SEO. Google released a search algorithm update in the Spring of 2015 which penalizes sites that aren't mobile friendly. As our main man Tom Snyder has pointed out, "Companies that have responsive, search optimized sites are now getting 60 - 70% of their traffic from mobile devices, achieving lower bounce rates, garnering higher mobile conversion rates, and getting even better rank for non-mobile searches."

The bottom line is that if your site isn't responsive, it will hurt your bottom line!

Of course we're always looking for design inspiration and working to understand how current technology is impacting your website visitors' expectations. By integrating these two best practices into the creative ideas for improving user experience on your site, your website can support your other marketing channels and help you achieve your business goals.
 

About Craig Schneider

Criag Schneider.jpgCraig Schneider is one of Team Trivera's Web design/Front End Development specialists. In his role, Craig uses his 10 years of digital design experience to build websites focused on user journeys to create ROI for our clients. Craig also assisted Concrete5 in development of their certification program. 

A Question for #BeLateDay - Is Your Content Always Late?

By Christina Steder, VP Client Strategy

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Yesterday was Be Late for Something Day. To celebrate, we're posting a blog about it one day late! There are many reasons people are often late or miss deadlines. In this case, we deliberately missed be late day because we were enjoying Labor Day weekend with our families. (And we thought it would be fun to be late for #BeLateDay.)

I know - easier said than done. But trust me, once the plan is done, you'll find that it's much easier to create content when you know what to create. Your first question won't be, "What the heck should I blog about?" Instead, your first question will be, "I need to write a blog about my three favorite pizza places (or whatever). What do I know about this?" Much easier!

Here are some questions you should ask yourself when planning your content:

  • What do we want the people who interact with our content to do?
  • Why will people care about what we want to say?
  • What will we measure?
  • Who are our audiences?
  • What are the optimal content types for our audiences? 
  • How can we reuse and amplify what we create?

If you can answer these questions, it will be much easier to decide whether to start a blog, or a Facebook page, or an Instagram account. These questions will help you think of useful topics and how often to post. And they'll help you figure out how you can repurpose your content for maximum impact.

Content marketing is well worth the effort. Once you start thinking, you'll realize you do have a lot to say. If you're still having trouble figuring out what to say and where to say it, give us a call. We're here to help!

About Christina Steder

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With 15+ years of experience in consumer product, professional service, and nonprofit marketing as well as brand strategy and client service, Christina provides strategic direction for our clients - linking their ongoing online and content marketing needs to business goals and ROI. 

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock 

Meet Todd Zimmerman, the Newest Member of Team Trivera

todd01.jpgTodd Zimmerman has joined Trivera as Project Manager.  

A former English major and UWM film student, Todd fell into IT as a profession and discovered a drive to use technology to make work life more productive and enjoyable. Over his 20 year career, he has also held titles including Response Center Engineer, Webmaster, Interactive Manager, and PR & Marketing Director.

Todd brings his organizational experience to bear on Trivera's roster of complex activities, working with all staff to make sure projects progress smoothly and on schedule. Todd has developed intranets and public web sites for several manufacturing and technology companies, at times handling everything from server configuration to copywriting. This variety of experience provides him with the knowledge and vocabulary to work with both technical and creative staff, synchronizing efforts towards shared goals.

He comes most recently from Versant Solutions, where as Interactive Manager he managed site administration and development for clients including Thomson Reuters, Barnes & Noble, and the Milwaukee County Transit System.

In his free time Todd enjoys racing sailboats, motorcyling, science fiction, his wondermutt Luna, and endlessly troubleshooting his home internet connection with Time Warner tech support. A former President and Marketing Director of Skydive Milwaukee, he spent ten years on their Board of Directors and still serves as public spokesman when called upon.

Back To School! What Our Clients Learned About Digital Marketing Last Year!

by Jamie Rinehart,  Digital Marketing Strategist

backtoschool.jpgEvery morning I walk my Boxer, Bella, before work. Any season, any weather. I particularly relish the Summer walks for the obvious reasons, it's light and warm outside. Thus the past several months have been amazing! Yesterday, as I set out on my morning jaunt, I noticed a slight change in the air, a little fall bite. As I continued, my senses now keen to seasonal changes, I observed some other signs of fall; a stray orange leaf or two on the ground and the sun was taking its sweet time to peek it's face over Lake Michigan in the east. Then, I was smacked in the face with reality, as I saw a big yellow school bus rolling down the road.

FALL IS COMING! BACK TO SCHOOL!

Overcome with the nostalgia of back-to-school, I started thinking about how Digital Marketing and Web Development is a constant cycle of learning. Team Trivera and our clients are always striving to stay cutting edge. Whether we are getting a Digital Marketing Certificate from UWM, completing a Master's Degree or gaining the latest Google certifications, we are always learning and sharing that knowledge with clients.
Now, completely in the Back-to-school spirit, I asked some of our clients what THEY have learned about Digital marketing in the past year! Here is what they shared!

Bill McCormick - Natural Look Salon and Wigs

"As a sales and marketing professional with 25 years' experience, I've used traditional marketing venues such as brochures, trade publications, trade shows and newsletters to communicate to our customers or potential customers. Prior to our meeting with the Trivera team I viewed the idea of having a website about the same as having to have a sign outside our building. In other words I felt it was a necessary part of doing business, however I did not put much thought into how the website can be used to bring in new customers.
The Trivera team has opened our eyes to the digital marketing world. They have shown us how important it is to set up and structure our website to optimize our marketing efforts through the search engines of Google, Bing and others. We are excited about the aspects of SEO and what it can do for our business in attracting new customers to our store front and e-commerce business."


Erik Bergstrom - Dental Associates

"This photo was in a case study I presented at the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network member meeting this summer. It shows a parking spot in the deck Dental Associates uses in downtown Milwaukee. I walked by this parking space one day and laughed at how many times they have altered the parking configuration. Then I thought to myself, "that reminds me of the typical social media strategy over the past decade!" Start in one direction, completely pivot to another direction, move back toward the original direction, then settle for something in the middle.

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While I was speaking about social strategy at the time, it really applies to any aspect of digital marketing. Change is constant, and you must be willing to adapt and innovate if you want to continue to succeed."


Haley Kloss - Rogers Behavioral Health

"In the past year as de facto database admin, I've been working on using data to really segment our email campaigns. When we can determine the nature of a client's relationship with our brand, we can make sure they are getting content they want. We've seen success when we make our messages more and more tailored.

I think the next step in this is going to be working on what kind of content we're putting out in our email campaigns. We certainly know what we want to tell people: new programs opening, this great thing one of our docs did, etc. But that's not necessarily what people care about. Relevant content is important. I feel like a lot of people forget that, especially in digital channels. It's easy to feel like we did our work because we sent an email, put it on social, posted it on the web. But, there are still times where the metrics say our message is falling flat. So, something for us to work on for the next year!"
 

This Fall as the weather changes, leaves fall and school busses fill the roads, get "back-to-school" and learn something new about Digital Marketing!

About Jamie Rinehart

Jamie Rinehart

Jamie leverages his 10+ years of Digital Marketing and Advertising account management experience to help new Trivera clients develop strategic digital marketing plans that will help them acheive their business and brand goals.

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock 

2 Reasons the #MissingType Campaign Makes Social Cause Marketing Work

by Christina Steder, Trivera VP, Client Strategylogo_2015.jpg

Perhaps you've noticed Google's logo is missing some Os. Toronto too. Qantas is missing their As. All around the world, from news team anchors, to street signs, to movie and TV stars, people and companies are removing the letters A, B, and O from their names.

The #MissingType campaign is the brainchild of NHS Blood and Transplant and London-based PR agency Engine Group. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the need for blood donations. The hashtag has been posted nearly 10 million times, and has attracted influential followers such as the Mayo Clinic. This is the second year in a row the campaign has run.

Exposure like this is something many nonprofits only dream of. This particular campaign spans 21 countries including the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, and South Africa. So why is this campaign so successful when others are not?

First, it's relatively easy and it benefits the corporate partners. Sure, it takes planning for a company to cover up the appropriate letters on the sign outside their buildings or to create a modified version of their logo for online use, but it's not terribly difficult. The effort is worth it to the corporations because it can bring the corporate partner a lot of exposure for their involvement. I know this sounds cold-hearted, but the fact is that sponsorship is a MARKETING decision, not necessarily a community relations decision.

Second, this was not a low-budget, grassroots campaign. The agency behind the campaign, Engine Group, is a global company with offices in four countries. They probably spent months researching and planning the campaign. All those hours aren't free. The campaign is supported by videos and television ads, once again - not free. MHP Communications, one of the 10 largest PR firms in the UK, is handling a massive media outreach campaign. They're working with influencers. They have huge corporate partners. Even if NHS Blood is getting nonprofit discounts, all that work costs money.

Not all nonprofits can afford to market at this level. But some can and it's important to remember that even nonprofits have to spend money to get money. There is a balance between good stewardship of dollars and looking like you know what to do with the donations. There is a reason that large nonprofits can get millions of dollars in donations. They look like they know what to do with the money. Do you?

About Christina Steder

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With 15+ years of experience in consumer product, professional service, and nonprofit marketing as well as brand strategy and client service, Christina provides strategic direction for our clients - linking their ongoing online and content marketing needs to business goals and ROI. 

 

3 Reasons Email Marketing Is Not Dead.

by Christina Steder, Trivera VP of Client Strategy

AdobeStock_25774384.jpgIn the ever-changing world of digital marketing, the list of tactics that are available to reach your target audience is continuously growing. With so many new, interesting, and buzz-worthy options, it can be tempting to declare "older" techniques, such as email marketing, dead. Don't. Email marketing is very much alive and well, and it's something you should probably be using. Here's why:

  • Email marketing is mobile marketing. According to the Pew Research Center, 88 percent of smartphone users read email on their phones. In fact, email is a more widely-used smartphone feature than social networking, watching video, or using maps and navigation. Make sure your email marketing is optimized for mobile and think of it as a mobile marketing strategy. It sounds a lot more cutting-edge now, doesn't it?
     
  • Email marketing can be highly targeted. Today's consumers expect a personalized online experience. Email can deliver this, if you have a quality database and the ability to segment your audience.
     
  • Email marketing can increase online sales. Using email remarketing, online retailers can send personalized messages to website visitors with abandoned shopping carts. Retailers can also use email to nurture potential customers who are still in the information gathering stage or follow up on purchases.

Although we all get A LOT of email, we do notice the ones that matter. Email allows marketers to easily test messages and segment your audiences to deliver the information your customers need, when they need it. And that makes email marketing very much alive.

 

About Christina Steder

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With 15+ years of experience in consumer product, professional service, and nonprofit marketing as well as brand strategy and client service, Christina provides strategic direction for our clients - linking their ongoing online and content marketing needs to business goals and ROI. 

Is Your Brand Going for the Gold?

Rio2016OlympicLogo.jpgby Serene Mireles, Web Design/Front End Development Specialist

I'm very excited for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games (despite some of the controversy). I love to see countries and cultures come together; the camaraderie, dedication, and the amazing athletes and their accomplishments. As a designer, one of my favorite things about the Olympics is the branding and graphics. It excites me as much as watching the Games! We all know that a brand is more than a logo (at least I hope everyone knows that). Branding is all-encompassing; branding is emotional and perceptive. It's what people think of and how they feel when they hear your name; it's the color palette, the graphics, how everything comes together. When I think of the Olympics, I think of world-class athletes; people who have dedicated their lives to their sport; hard work and pride. How is that represented visually? Good branding is so seamless that people don't even notice. It's about representing the values and essence of the organization, product or service.

The Olympics' branding is strategic and the organization has set the bar high. Every Olympic games requires its own identity and look, while still representing the organization's core essence and values.

The Rio 2016 logo was designed by Brazil's Tátil Design, and the Olympic font was created by Dalton Maag, a British typeface firm. The bold, vibrant designs of the 2016 Olympics represent the diversity of Rio-the atmosphere, the energy, the people, the mountains, the beaches, and the city. The organic forms in the graphics express motion and performance. The designs can be seen in the logo, venues, products, uniforms, signage and displays. The Olympic motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger." The motto was meant to inspire athletes to keep pushing themselves, to break records, and to accomplish their dreams. I think the motto can also be applied to designers and marketers to inspire them to push the envelope and think of new ideas that haven't been done before. I give the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games a Gold medal for branding.

How is your brand doing? If your brand isn't winning, it might be time to rethink your strategy and go for the gold.
 

About Serene Mireles

serene01.jpgSerene Mireles is one of Team Trivera's Web design/Front End Development specialists. In her role, Serene uses her 18 years of digital design experience to build websites focused on user journeys to create ROI for our clients. Serene was the first developer in the world to be certified for Concrete5 version 7. 

Note: Although we're confident that nobody actually thinks Trivera is affiliated with the Olympics in any way other than watching the competition from the comfort of our homes and wishing we could achieve even 10 percent of what the athletes do, Rio 2016 Guidelines require us to inform you that Trivera is in no way affiliated with the Rio 2016 Games or the Olympic and Paralympic movements. Go USA!

A Shout-out to Trivera Client MMSD During Water Quality Month

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August is water quality month. Here at Trivera, we're observing the month by kicking off a new project for one of our newest clients, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. We've actually been working with MMSD since earlier this year, migrating all their web properties from an expensive proprietary Content Management System to Concrete5. We're well into the migration of milorganite.com, and are just now beginning to migrate the remaining MMSD brands: mmsd.com, Huntgreen, Basement Connection and Fresh Coast 740.

At Trivera, we start every client engagement with a brand discovery process. During MMSD's brand discovery, we learned some really interesting things about them and their commitment to the environment.
Did you know that MMSD:

  • Is responsible for water reclamation and flood management for about 1.1 million people
  • Serves 28 communities in the Greater Milwaukee area
  • Allows licensed hunters to use MMSD land during hunting season
  • Has been recycling nutrient-rich microbes from the city's water reclamation process into Milorganite, a natural fertilizer, since 1926
  • Is committed to meeting a goal of having a net 100 percent of its energy supplied from renewable resources 

Trivera's efforts are focused on making MMSD's digital marketing efforts both more successful and more efficient. Greater results for less money means MMSD can continue to be great stewards of our natural resources while also making them more efficient with their financial resources.

Trivera is honored to be partners with this high profile agency, working to support their efforts to improve the quality of our water. You can learn more about MMSD and milorganite in this video: 

6 Ways That Neglecting Your Website is Killing Your Brand

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By Tom Snyder, President and CEO of Trivera

Over our 20 years in business, we have seen most of our customers fall into one of two categories. The first is the type that make their web presence a focus of a digital Marketing Stratgey, constantly updating, supporting, measuring, analyzing, improving and investing in it. The other type are the ones who contracted us to build their site, and despite our recommendations that digital marketing needs to be an ongoing process, and not just an event, still treated their launch like a drive-by.  The very vehicle that was supposed to help their business flourish in the growing digital economy now stands as a testimony to four, nine and even thirteen year old technology.  What may have been state of the art brand re-reinforcement at one time, is now the brand killing equivalent of a dilapidated building in a bad neighborhood.

When pressed to consider an update, a new focus, or additional inbound marketing efforts, the typical response is "we just don't have the money."  While that might seem like a justifiable and economical approach, it's short sighted. Your neglect is actually costing you money.

Here's why:

1.) Not regularly updating your website's content causes it to drop in ranking in search engines. Lower ranking means less traffic, resulting in fewer sales.

2.) Not executing a sound inbound marketing plan reduces the number of potential visitors who even know your site exists. That means less traffic, resulting in fewer sales.

3.) Not having an organic search engine optimization plan puts you behind all of your competitors who do. That not only means less traffic and fewer sales for you, but also more traffic and more sales for them.

4.) Not keeping up with the current best practices for navigation and visitor expectations for functionality reduces the number of site visitors who become customers. That means traffic is coming, but leaving without buying, resulting in fewer sales.

5.) Not keeping your Content Management System and operating environment up to date leaves it vulnerable to hacks and hijacks, causing things to not work in your site that you may not even be aware of. Sometimes it means your site is offline entirely. That means traffic is coming, getting frustrated because your site doesn't work properly...or at all...resulting in fewer sales (and maybe even thinking you've gone out of business).

6.) Not having a responsive site built around user journeys  loses the growing number of customers who use smartphones and tablets as their preferred web device. That means less traffic and more visitor frustration, both of which result in fewer leads/sales/conversions.

I've said before...ad naseum...that your brand is not your logo, it's the promise of an experience, and everything you do either reinforces or erodes that brand. And a crappy old website erodes your brand just as badly as letting your building get run down, not being able to provide the product or service your customer expects or making them put up with a  poor salesman or CSR.

With your website, you're either moving ahead or you're falling behind. Thinking that doing nothing keeps you where you are is a delusion.  The time to begin getting serious is long past, but before you start executing a hodgepodge of tactical efforts, the better plan for long term success is to take a strategic approach. 

Trivera Has an Opening for a Web Designer/Front End Developer

Trivera is looking for a passionate, experienced Web Designer/Front End Developer that can design compelling websites and user interfaces based on the right composite of client direction and current best practices for navigation, design and UX. Concrete5 and Magento are our preferred platforms, but Joomla!, Drupal and/or Wordpress experience will suffice. 

See the rest of the details here.