Website Design

Web Design is where design meets functionality with expert commentary by the Bear Web Design Design and Development Team who have produced over 450 custom websites.

Web-Accessibility---Jennifer-Folsom---Bear-Web-Design.jpg

Web Accessibility

We all visit websites for similar reasons regardless of the technology we use to interact with it. A person who is visually impaired will use a bank’s website to pay a bill with the same intent as someone who doesn’t use assistive technology. A person using their mobile device requires the same functionality of someone using their desktop. Just as a good site design will have considered the requirements of different screens, good site design needs to consider a variety of users’ needs and accessibility issues. This is called Web Accessibility.

Jennifer Folsom, Userway, Website Accessibility, Wordcamp Atlanta, WPAccessiblitiy Plugin

Continue reading

is-it-time-for-a-new-website-bear-web-design.jpg

Is It Time For A New Website?

You have a website that has been up and running for a number of years. In actual fact many organizations have had 2-3 generations of websites now a days. It looked great when the website was launched (they always do) but over the years it has become less and less of a focal point in your companies marketing plans. You don’t really know how much traffic is coming to the website (as the reports you used to get stopped coming) and the big part that bothers you is that you don’t seem to get any inquiries from your website any more…

Website technology and design has changed quite dramatically in the last 2-3 years. One of the biggest changes came with responsive design (mobile friendly websites). Responsive design is the process of designing a website that responds to the device the website is being viewed on (giving an optimum visitor experience).

Google really started pushing this technology around 2014 when they commenced listing website as “mobile friendly” that were optimized for a mobile device. In other words if someone was searching a service your company provided and your website came up in the search and was NOT mobile friendly google would clarify this – basically telling the user that this might not be a great experience. (SO basically don’t go to this website).  Since 2015 there are more mobile devices than desktops and that trend has continued to grow so bottom line is you can assume long term that half your traffic will be mobile based.

If your website is not responsive “Mobile Friendly” then it is time for a new website.

The next most critical aspect about your website is your design layout and home page content specifically. Today a prospect may give your website 5-10 seconds to establish whether you match  his/her needs (and that they like your website). A slideshow that showcases your company (4-5 slides) that include clear specific captions can go a long way to helping a first time visit quickly get a feel for what you have to offer. These slides should lead to more in-depth information if the visitor wants to find out more.  If photos are vibrant and really appropriate in those slide shows then you might just have a home run on your hands with a good design.

Besides the slideshow (the elevator pitch) you want to clarify what you do, where you are, and samples of your work (or services and products)…. We are Bear Web Design, we design websites, we are located in Nashville, TN and here is our portfolio of recent work.  And here is some action buttons or links for you to choose from (Contact Us, Call us) as well as links to more details about our company. But the bottom line is that if your home page cannot give me the most important facts and information about your company in a professionally graphic based design “quickly” then I will probably moving on to the next website.

If your website home page does not tell your companies story professionally, graphically, clearly and quickly then it is time for a new website.

Then comes your websites content. Content used to be a paragraph of “let me tell you about us” but content today is sophisticated, exciting and really focused on selling and getting your messages across. Multimedia is starting to dominate the content landscape and even if you are not ready for video productions yet great photographs are definitely within your reach today. (Big bold photos that really showcase you and tell your story).  The key to updating your content is to make sure it is current. If you had a key selling feature 3 years ago (new office, new renovations or a new factory) that information should not be a key promotion today. (Why because when the office doesn’t appear new or the renovation aren’t new trust will be lost and a prospect may feel like they were misled. So old content must be updated.  Establish what your primary services are today and expand on them with text, photos and multimedia. Another key area that I look for a website is “Meet Our Team” which should include photos, bios, and background. I want to know who I will be potentially meeting with and working if I move forward with your company so please don’t have “Contact Us” with no location, no people, and no intimacy and expect to get good results.  With google being so location centric today it is crazy not to promote where you are. People really think locally today when searching the internet.

If your website content is out of date and your website does not do a great job showcasing your products and services as well as your team and location then it is time for a new website.

And if you do decide it is time to look at designing a new website we would love to help you! Let’s have a chat about your company’s website and what we could achieve together. Combine add-on internet marketing items such as e-NEWS, Blogging, and Social Media and your website could truly become the focal point of your companies marketing efforts.

Nashville Web Design, Responsive Website Design, Website Content

girls-who-code-watertown.jpg

Welcome To Code Club for Girls!

Over the last few months I have been working with the Watertown Wilson County Public Library to launch an after school coding club called “Watertown Impact”. Every Wednesday, 7 young women, 6th through 12th grade, spend their afternoons learning to code.

The students come from different backgrounds, and utilize their different learning styles and problem solving skills to create something entirely new. They are quickly realizing that enthusiasm, hard work, curiosity and risk taking are essential to learning standard web languages as well as structural and presentational aspects of web design. And they’re usually laughing the whole time. They are becoming digital creatives, and it is wonderful to witness their originality and curiosity.

Already, they are putting their burgeoning coding skills to work for Wilson County by creating a website to promote the use and maintenance of the county’s new Little Free Libraries, a project organized by United Way of Wilson County to promote reading, strengthen community and inspire creativity. The site will feature pictures of the new Little Free Libraries, a map of library locations, and information on use, donations and the sponsors of the libraries.

This project requires peer-to-peer in addition to student-to-mentor relationships that extend beyond the local and into the world-wide coding community. Students will have the opportunity to publish their code in online repositories and receive input from others in the industry from around the world. They will visit local agencies, too, for some hands-on experiences of the local programming scene. Connections between industry and students opens possibilities and opportunities for kids and their futures and that’s something we’re very proud to facilitate.

Be sure to read the bios of these fledgling coders, once their new site is live. Their enthusiasm for learning, experimenting and having fun is contagious. They know that anything is possible.

Girls Who Code, Jennifer Folsom

Responsive-Web-Design-Bear-Web-Design.jpg

Responsive Design

We do our best to help you  “Go Responsive … Responsibly.” When we design a Responsive Website at Bear Web Design we focus on what a mobile, tablet or desktop visitor is wanting to accomplish.  Working with our clients we try to create a user experience that is optimal in varying device sizes. Check out this article from Website Magazine:

Some Key Quotes from Article: 

What’s more, because viewing websites on mobile devices is generally quite slow, most people are reluctant to start tapping all over a page. This means that design must make it visually clear what elements on the site allow for user interactions. Buttons, links, form fields and other points of user interaction must be large enough to be clicked easily, and spaced far enough away from other page elements that users don’t risk clicking the wrong elements. – See more at: http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/pages/responding-to-the-hype-of-responsive-design.aspx?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter#sthash.fiNiJ9zw.fS5Q6Zwx.dpuf
What’s more, because viewing websites on mobile devices is generally quite slow, most people are reluctant to start tapping all over a page. This means that design must make it visually clear what elements on the site allow for user interactions. Buttons, links, form fields and other points of user interaction must be large enough to be clicked easily, and spaced far enough away from other page elements that users don’t risk clicking the wrong elements. – See more at: http://www.websitemagazine.com/content/blogs/posts/pages/responding-to-the-hype-of-responsive-design.aspx?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter#sthash.fiNiJ9zw.fS5Q6Zwx.dpuf

“… viewing websites on mobile devices is generally quite slow, most people are reluctant to start tapping all over a page. This means that design must make it visually clear what elements on the site allow for user interactions. Buttons, links, form fields and other points of user interaction must be large enough to be clicked easily, and spaced far enough away from other page elements that users don’t risk clicking the wrong elements.”

“A safer approach for many sites will be to use a drop-down or “select” menu. The user simply clicks the menu and scrolls to the selection (or category) of interest.”

Bear Web Design, Custom Joomla Web Design, Responsive Templates, Responsive Website Design

Mobile Website Usage Continues To Grow!

cedar-stone-bank-mobile-website.jpg

If you are like me, in the last 24 months or so you most likely have started using your mobile phone more and more for browsing the Internet.  Larger mobile screens, voice recognition software, and better wi-fi access are just a few of the advances that have made this possible. 

The usage stats that I have found support this tremendously. Approximately 15% of all web traffic in 2013 has been mobile.  I see no slowing down in this growing segment as the phones keep getting easier to use while more and more websites are becoming responsive (mobile friendly) websites.

It used to be for e-mail (and a phone call)!

My first 2 smartphones were Blackberry’s and their primary purpose was phone and e-mail. On my last Blackberry I started taking photos and sending them thru e-mail. That was great and it certainly gave me a level of connectivity with customers, family and friends that I really enjoyed and used.  When I was travelling to Australia it really become obvious to me how valuable a tool this was.

I didn’t really start actively using my mobile phone for a web browser until I had upgraded to an Android (in 2011) when I started reading the news on my phone  (in the bathroom  – and let me tell you it was just as enjoyable as a newspaper!).

We started developing mobile websites around 2010 when we saw initial demand for mobile sites. Creating the sites generally required separate templates from traditional desktop websites (and lots of development work to make the sites work) but it really wasn’t as clear back then what people would actually use mobile websites for. Today every website we produce is responsive (which includes a mobile friendly version) and this is now a standard with Bear Web Design.

SO what do people use Mobile Websites for?

The answer seems to be more and more obvious today – any web based task that can be accomplished on the mobile in a gnerally short period of time (and without the hassle of turning on a computer and finding a suitable work location). Of course this is my definition but here are some of the things folks now do on mobile sites:

  • Reading, Viewing and updating Content (News, Social Media, Entertainment)
  • Social Media Engagement (Facebook, Twitter & Google+)
  • Personal calendars and contact info (remember back when Day Planners were so popular?)
  • Online Banking and Online Shopping
  • Browsing QR Codes (in areas such as Real Estate and Retail Shopping in particular)
  • General information searching (Just like we do on a normal desktop with google
  • Maps and directions (locating nearest shops and restaurants)
  • E-mail (Voice activation which makes it even easier) & Phone

I am sure there is a lot more to this list, but the reality is if I can do something on mobile – say, transfer money from one bank account to another while sitting in the living room watching TV,  versus getting up and getting my laptop and turning it on letting it boot up and then having it sit awkwardly in my lap “OH THE ABSOLUTE INCONVENIENCE OF IT ALL!” then frankly I am going to use my mobile. Its more convenient and ultimately easier to do and based on that I suspect we are all going to continue to use our mobiles more and more in the future.

Mobile Website Usage, Mobile Website Usage Continues to Grow!, Mobile Websites, Responsive Websites

Banking Just Got Simpler with CedarStone Bank’s New Responsive Website

Over the last few months, CedarStone Bank has been working on a new responsive designed website. A responsive website is a website that is mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop friendly and provides an optimum user experience based on the device with which the website is being used.

With the significant increase in mobile and tablet usage over the last 12 months, the need to provide easy website usage (not just access) has never been greater, and CedarStone Bank’s new responsive website site provides a great experience for all website visitors.

The website was custom designed and developed by local company Bear Web Design under the direction of John B. Bryan, CedarStone Vice President, Business Development Officer and Tina Winfree, CedarStone Senior Vice President and Operations Manager.

“The entire CedarStone Bank team is excited about the launching of our new and improved website. CedarStonebank.com is easier to navigate while offering the latest and greatest online banking applications. The responsive design makes it attractive and manageable from most any mobile, laptop or tablet device,” commented Bryan.

“The website project was a product of our bank’s ABC program. In July of 2012 we started a program designed to train and mentor CedarStone Bank employees in becoming aspiring bankers. The Aspiring Bankers of CedarStone (ABC) program was designed to educate, enlighten and develop employees to be well-rounded banking professionals as well as to empower them to make our bank better,” he added.

Incorporating the corporate brand and colors of CedarStone Bank with an exciting array of images and data display widgets, the CedarStone Bank website comes to life with a prominent slideshow and rich content, friendly navigation, and a direct and easy login to mobile banking. A new feature of the website is CedarStone Bank News and Blog, which integrates and publishes directly to social media, keeping customers connected with the latest website news and information in their favorite social media.

We Are Responsive!

Desktop Laptop Responsive Website CedarStone Bank

Laptop and Desktop view gives visitors the full experience, with easy to use navigation and lots of key information accessible from the home page. You can find a branch location easily and our contact forms integrate with Google Maps, allowing you to even get driving directions while staying on the website!

Tablet and Mobile Responsive Website - CedarStone Bank

Mobile & Tablet views will really show you the advantages of responsive design. While launching a great image-based website is becoming the vogue (with large image backgrounds and slideshows becoming more common), the fact is, if that site isn’t easily accessible in a mobile or tablet experience, then a larger and larger user segment base is being overlooked and ignored.

ALWAYS SECURE – security remains CedarStone Bank’s top priority, with the highest standards of website security and protocols being implemented.

SO, like never before, Banking Just Got Simpler with CedarStone Bank’s New Responsive Website.

We look forward to seeing you online and at a CedarStone Bank branch soon!

Bear Web Design, CedarStone Bank, Joomla Custom Design, Mobile & Tablet Friendly, Responsive Web Design

What is a Plugin, a Module and a Component in Joomla?

Joomla Components, Modules and Plugins can have a great influence on your final website design. They can enhance your website design ranging from interesting content such as blogs to desired action items such as purchasing a product.  Some of you may already know what these additional pieces of Joomla are… But for those clients or future clients that are new to Bear Web Design and Joomla! lingo, here’s an introduction.

A component in Joomla! is the most complex add-on. This usually adds a completely new, or different, function to your site. A component handles data input and storage into the database.

Some Examples:

  • An Online Store System
  • A Blogging System
  • A Business Directory
  • An Advertising System
  • A Slideshow or Photo Gallery

A module in Joomla! is usually an add-on to the site that extends the functionality of another part of the system. It usually has fewer options and most of the time does not handle any storing of information into the database. A module usually supports a component by allowing more options on how to display data from the component.  Modules are the most commonly referred to in a design meeting environment at Bear Web Design.  Many modules can be customized to fit your color-scheme and style.

Some Examples:

  • A module that shows a visitor their account info, shopping cart, and or login/logout info. (Works with a store component.)
  • A recent blog area or featured blog listing. (Works with a blog component.)
  • An advertisement area that holds an advertising banner. (Works with an advertising system component.)
  • A mini calendar. (Works with an Events component.)
  • Customized Quick link buttons. (Works with Joomla! menus.)
  • A slideshow on the homepage. (Works with a slideshow component.)
  • Search Box (core Joomla!).

A Plugin in Joomla! will manipulate output already generated by the system. It typically does not run as a stand-alone element but retrieves data from other sources like content on your site.

Some Examples:

  • Search Plug-in (works with components, to make some of their data able to be searched within the entire site)
  • Simple Image Gallery – pulls images from a folder in a database and displays those images when called into an article.
  • Article Editor Plug-ins – allow for embedding of special media such as iframes, videos, etc.

It is also good to know that modules and components are great ways to provide interaction with your website visitors.

These items are important to know when starting or redesigning a Joomla! website. In a design meeting these will help express how you would like your site to look and function.

Content Management Systems., determine your success, Great Web Design, Joomla, Nashville Web Design

What is Responsive Website Design?

What is Responsive Website Design?

2013 has been declared the year of Responsive Design in many web circles. If you haven’t heard of  Responsive Design yet, you will soon. The reason it was created (and is snowballing in popularity) is because of the need to optimize websites on different devices — mobile, tablet,  laptop & desktop — with the growth of the mobile and tablet markets being the driving force for Responsive Design. 

In the last 12-24 months at Bear Web Design we have seen a significant increase in customers requiring their sites to be mobile friendly.  In the last few years mobile strategies have ranged from building completely separate standing mobile sites (which have been expensive to develop and quite often require double web content entry) to adding multiple separate templates to a website which would detect the device and execute the appropriate template.

Similar challenges have also emerged with the tablet market.  When you add the various browsers and operating systems into the mix of devices you can easily see the challenges that are facing websites today (and Web Designers and Developers).

Introducing Responsive Website Design!

Responsive web design is a web design approach aimed at creating sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).  Basically your website responds to the device and browser to give an optimal user experience.

Generally speaking these Responsive templates are built from the mobile level up (complete opposite of creating a mobile site from an existing full size website).  The template is then customized as needed to suit each device with image and content sizing and various element display.  The key is that all images, content, forms, buttons and other elements fit attractively (and usably!) into the device viewing the website.

Bear Web Design Commences Responsive Website Design

We have commenced designing and developing our custom templates using Responsive Design in late 2012 and we have our first client sites coming online in this quarter.  We will be sharing these sites with you and highlighting the sites on each device so that you can develop and increase your knowledge in this area. 

We are also very excited be able to offer Responsive Designs upgrades to our existing client base (which includes upgrading from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 2.5 as part of that process). There will be cost and time involved in these upgrades and we will be sharing the process with our clients. But the rewards will be immense, as there is no doubt that websites which are not mobile and tablet friendly are going to lose a large segment of prospects and customers in the upcoming years!

Be sure to watch out for our Responsive Design blogs from our Design and Development team over the next few months.

Talk to us today about Responsive Website Design!

If you wish to find out what’s involved in making your website responsive shoot me an e-mail (or call me at 615 504 6845) to discuss!

Cheers,

Peter

Bear Web Design, Mobile First Design, Mobile Website Design, Responsive Templates, Responsive Website Design

Responsive Design in 2013!

As 2012 draws to an end, we have lots of new developments (“web developments” that is) on the horizon for the coming year. Most important of these is that our new custom templates will feature Responsive Web Design, also known as RWD — click here for definition.

In a nutshell, RWD is a design approach that optimizes the web browsing experience no matter what web device you happen to be using – desktop, laptop, iPad or other small-screen device, or mobile phone.

We are in the process of finalizing the templates of our newest sites and will provide links, examples and more info in early 2013… stay tuned!

Vicki Beare (this is my new last name — as I mentioned, we had LOTS going on around here lately!)

Bear Web Design, Joomla Responsive Websites, Mobile Friendly Websites, Responsive Web Design

What’s in Your Color Wheel?

One of my favorite lines in the movie The Blind Side is when Sandra Bullock (referring to UT Orange) says, “But I will not wear that gaudy orange, I will not. It is not in my color wheel and I’m not gonna wear it.” And that gets me thinking about web design.

color wheelMost people, male and female, have a general idea of what’s in their “color wheel” – what their favorite colors are, whether they are comfortable pairing, say, a purple blazer over emerald green slacks, or whether they are soothed by the sight of a closet full of khaki and blue. The same goes for interior decorating, the color of our cars, the television ads that catch our eye… all sorts of things. The bottom line is that, generally, we pay more attention than we know to color and style.

But websites haven’t been around nearly as long as those other things, and I’ve noticed that sometimes people can’t define exactly what it is they like about certain websites. Is it the color scheme that’s most attractive, or the “flow” and ease of use, or the crisp-and-clean lines, or a feeling of excitement that there’s a lot of information and interactivity going on here?

As a website designer, I ask clients to provide a few examples of websites they like. Sometimes they will supply distinct details of what sort of look they want — color, type of background, location of logo and other features — but I’ve also noticed that sometimes it’s hard to define what it is you love about certain sites (and, equally important, what drives you away from other sites).

If you are thinking about getting a new website, or upgrading an existing one, it’s a good idea to do a little analysis on the sites you visit frequently, or ones that have caught your attention. Even if one of your favorite websites is for a restaurant, and your business is something entirely different, ask yourself what it is you like about the site.

Some things to pay attention to include color, depth (a flat, clean look vs. 3-D and layered), squared or rounded corners and borders, visually vibrant or information-rich, even what kind of background is behind the site (you might prefer a colorful and interesting background – or you might not want to distract your site’s visitors from the content).

Of course, there will be many other questions to be asked and analysis to be done before we design and build your new website… but the clearer you are about what you want and don’t want, the closer we will be to creating a site you will absolutely love!

And, incidentally, if you happen to like UT orange, we have no objections at all to using it in your website.

Contact

Bear Web Design
2622 Bluefield Avenue
Nashville, TN 37214
(615) 504-6845


© Bear Web Design, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Website designed by Bear Web Design