Web Design vs. Web Development

Many people often confuse the terms web design and web development, using them interchangeably. While they sound alike, and sound like they mean the same thing, their meanings are actually very different from each other.

When making the decision to build or design your website, it is important to know the difference between the two.

What Is Web Design? 

Web design is the part of the website referred to as the “front end”, or the customer-facing part. This part of the website includes the appearance of the website and how the customers interact with it.

A good web designer will know how to put together all the principles of design in order to create a site that is not only appealing, but modern as well. Designers also understand the importance of usability and how to create a site that customers want to navigate through because of the site’s ease of use.

It is important to know the importance of keeping your customers interested in your product or services that you have to offer. If your site is boring, your customers will likely think so too. Be sure to keep your website updated and fresh.

What Is Web Development?

Web development is the part of the website that refers to the back-end of the site, or the programming and interactions side. A web developer focuses more on how a site works and how the customers get things done on the site.

A good web developer knows how to program and code with ubiquitous languages such as HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), PHP (recursively known as PHP Hypertext Preprocessor), and CGI (Common Gateway Interface). Web developers also understand how the web forms work, ensuring they are able to keep your site running smoothly and effectively.

Web Design vs. Web Development

Both Web Designers and Web Developers need to work together to achieve one goal, creating an effective and modern website or app that attracts potential customers to your business.

In order for a website to function properly and be attractive at the same time, both the design and development must be sound. Colors, graphics, and content need to reflect the product, brand, or service that you are offering.

If you have any questions, or need help with your web design or web development needs, contact the professional designers and developers at Windy City Web Designs.

Web Design Tips for Your Small Business

In order for small businesses to stay ahead of the competition, it is best to be on top of how you are marketing your business. This is especially true when it comes to running your website.

If you do not have a website that will attract and hold your customers’ attention, you are in jeopardy of falling behind your competitors and without a website, you are missing an incredible opportunity to engage and connect with your customers.

These web design tips will help your small business be as successful as possible:

Tip#1: Reflect your brand. What are you trying to sell? What do you want your customer’s first impression to be? Be sure to keep your design fresh, simple, and unique. If your site looks similar to others, especially your competition’s, then you risk the chance of being forgotten, instead of making that all-important lasting impression. Your homepage should do all of these things, while appropriately representing your brand and your message you wish to communicate to your customers and visitors.

Tip #2: Include high-quality content. Content rules when it comes to finding your website amongst all the others in the search engines. Quality content and links on your website are key to helping your chances of being found in search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Since content does need to be fresh in order to be effective, it is important to keep all your information up-to-date and incorporate content rich items such as blogs on your site.

Tip #3: Use responsive design. In a world where smartphones and tablets rule, it is critical to ensure your website can be easily accessed by these types of devices. It is best to consult with a professional web design firm if you are interested in incorporating responsive design into your website.

Here at Windy City Web Designs, we do everything in our power to create custom, responsive websites for all our clients. Not only do we enoucrage your input for design and layout, but we also explain all of what we are doing, meaning being a computer-wiz is no longer a requirement to become a successful business owner.If you have any questions or would just like to get in touch, contact us today to see how you can get started on a unique solution to fit your business’s needs.

Windy City Web Designs Wins Business of the Year for Professional Services

Windy City Web Designs is proud to announce their earning of the Algonquin & Lake In The Hills Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year Award for our Professional Services.

From helping small businesses grow their online presence with our customized websites, to effective Internet marketing strategies, Windy City Web Designs has been working hard to help make businesses more successful.

One or our many great success stories is Dana Voyes and her website for her garden and landscape business, Gardens Done Right. Dana originally started with a 4-page website last year, and is now needing to add an additional 22-pages due to a successful year. Dana attributes a big portion of her success to her online presence.

With flexible payment options, our success in designing award winning sites that perform, and our ability to help your company grow, Windy City Web Designs is dedicated to making your website our next success story.

Windy City Web Designs is a full service web, marketing, and branding agency, proudly serving the Chicagoland area. Contact us for more in formation on how we can help increase your businesses online presence.

Capture Your Customers’ Attention With Your Homepage

It takes a matter of seconds to capture your potential user’s attention. For this reason, it is important to ensure that your website’s homepage is functional as well as informational, attracting and keeping their interest.

The following tips will help to capture your customers’ attention when visiting your homepage:

  1. Choose a layout that is clutter-free and easy to navigate. Avoid too many images and icons, as well as long texts or banners.
  2. Use high-quality and informational photos on your landing page. Avoid using too many photos since they can overwhelm the eye and low quality photos in order to maintain a professional appearance.
  3. Be sure to use “call to action” buttons. Keep in mind, however, that these buttons should not contain more than four words, as should be placed where it can be seen.
  4. Keep your text simple and up-to-date. Be sure that your information is always current and resourceful to your users. Avoid using too much text as well, which can turn off and tune out users.
  5. Include your contact information, including your address. This will help your users when looking to contact you or looking for your location. Avoid making this pertinent information hard to find on your homepage.

Windy City Web Designs specializes in custom websites and Internet marketing solutions for businesses in the Chicagoland area. Contact us for help with your business’s needs today.

What Your Business Is Missing By Not Having A Website

Although there could be a number of reasons why a business would not have a website in this day in age, it is an important part of your business and is a form of marketing that could help you increase the number of customers you already have. We understand that your company may be on a tight budget or you can’t afford it at this time or have been wanting to get a website and it just keeps ending up at the bottom of the list. Even though many businesses may think that a website for their company is a waste of time, it is the complete opposite and will end up saving you money if it is done the right way. “How will it save me money?” you ask. Listed below are reasons why every company, no matter how big or small should have a website.

Windy City Web Designs has professional website designers and developers that can help your company gain credibility. Since people are doing more and more searches not only on their computer, but mobile phones and tablets, odds are they will most likely look for your website if they are a regular customer. Not having a website will result in them visiting the website of your competitor and using their product or service instead of yours. It will provide a professional image for your business and can be used as a very successful marketing tool after the website is created.

A website is always accessible and can keep your customers informed 24 hours a day. It is easier to update information on a website than it is a brochure or informational packet and it is an effective way to inform your customers about upcoming sales, specials, or services you may offer. If you give your customers the option to buy your products online as well, that will give your business the opportunity to increase the number of sales since customers are able to buy at any time.

Having a website is a good way to introduce yourself to your customers if you are a startup business or even a large business. It gives your customers the accessibility of your business from the comfort of their home and can show them that you are a serious business that they can trust. It can open the doors to new possibilities with existing and potentially new customers, which will increase your sales or profitability.

Marketing your business can also be a hassle without a website because you are using other forms of it besides the computer like newspaper ads and print marketing which are probably not even reaching your target audience.  Online marketing such as pay per click, SEO tactics, and blogs are all ways to market your business online and will increase your rankings.

Contact Windy City Web Designs for more information about what we can do to help you get your first website or if you would like a website redesign.

Cleaning Up Your Website Design

A great website, is designed to draw in a visitors attention and provide them with the information they are looking for quick and easily. In order to do this, here are a few steps that are important to consider for your website:

1. Have a great logo– Your logo can say a lot about your company. It is sometime the first impression people have on your business. Make sure it is sleek and clean and if it has a tagline is easily read and is understandable as to what your business does.

2. Clean Navigation– Create a navigation bar that is not cluttered and includes drop-down menus which include appropriate individual pages to help increase your SEO.

3. No Clutter– Do not overcrowd your website and include too many options and items for people to choose from. Make sure pages do not have competing calls to action or visual clutter that would draw the visitor’s eyes away from the most important part of the page.

4. Strategic Colors– Using mostly neutral colors can help your site project an elegant, clean and modern appearance and adding color in small amounts are great for call-to-action items.

5. Professional Pictures– While adding your own pictures is always a plus, using professional high quality pictures can draw a user attention and increase there changes of purchasing or signing up. Your own pictures sometimes are better utilized on a gallery page rather than a homepage, or be sure to higher a professional photographer to capture your work.

6. Consistent Font– A typical rule of thumb is to only use 3 fonts on a website. There are hundreds of fonts and unfortunately, many of those fonts are not readable on most computer. Sticking with Google fonts is a good option to make sure everyone can read your content.

7. Every Page Should Sell Itself– When designing a website, you should design it with the idea of each page selling itself. Providing the user with the appropriate information, call-to-action buttons or ability to easy purchase. Users should not have to visit several pages in order to convert.

If your website is in need of some upgrading and you would like to discuss your website options with a designer, contact Windy City Web Designs today.

Reasons To Consider A Responsive Design

Since there was a good reason 2013 was deemed “The Year of Responsive Web Design”, it might be time for you to consider if this could be the best decision you may make this year when it comes to your business. Here are the many advantages to going responsive:

Responds to the user’s behavior. Since responsive web design is just that, responsive, this means that the screen will automatically adjust accordingly for optimal viewing, according to the specific type of device that is being used. Responsive design uses technology like HTML5, which provides for the use of more fluid grids, flexible images, and CSS3, allowing for consistent user experience, which, in turn, will create higher conversion rates.

Increase your search engine optimization. Not only does Google prefer that your website be responsive in order to improve your visibility in the search engines, but by having a website that is responsive will allow you more time to focus on a single SEO strategy, as opposed to one for each type of site you have. Additionally, this prevents the dreaded duplicate content, which happens when managing sites for both desktop and mobile.

Keep ahead of your competition. Since responsive design is still a relatively new trend, by jumping on the opportunity now will keep you ahead of your competitors and keep ahead of the game, especially in this very technologically driven world where there have never been more smartphones and tablets.

Allows for easier monitoring and analysis. Unlike situations in which you have separate desktop friendly and mobile friendly sites, having a responsive website means that this will be the only site you will have to spend your time monitoring. Additionally, site analytic tools, like Google Analytics, are now optimized for handling of mobile devices and reporting of responsive sites.

It is essential to not only provide your users with optimal experience when visiting your website from any device, but most importantly, keep them coming back. Windy City Web Designs is Chicagoland’s leader in web design and Internet marketing solutions. To take your business, and website, to the next level, contact us for a consultation today.

By Bjorn Torling

Do You Need A Website Redesign?

Since it’s a new year, it’s time to think about a fresh start. I’m not talking about dieting or exercise, but getting a jump start on your business and becoming the best of the best in this technological based world. Now is as good a time as any to consider a website redesign, especially since your website is your greatest marketing tool. The following are the top reasons why you may need to consider a website makeover in order to keep up with your competition and stay on top.

Are you mobile friendly? In order to meet user’s demands, it is becoming more apparent that website need to be mobile friendly. Since the majority of your website’s visitors will do so from a smartphone or tablet, it is becoming more imperative to incorporate responsive or mobile web design on your website, all the while, still allowing other users the ability to visit from desktops and laptops.

Are you social media ready? Since word of mouth can sometimes be the best marketing for a business, it is imperative to be using a social media marketing strategy. This can easily be accomplished by including things like links to your social media pages, adding social sharing tools that enable your visitors to “like”, “share”, or “pin” your pages and products, and socially connect with others.

Are you user friendly? If your visitors can’t find what they are looking for, they will leave, and worse, wore than likely won’t come back. By having the information they are looking for like your product information, your contact information, and calls-to-action, will allow for maximized user experience and keep your customers satisfied and coming back.

Are you up-to-date? Not only is it important to keep your website fresh and modern, but it is also important to add new features to increase user experience. Things like blogs, e-commerce, and other features can cause an old website to not function properly. If you are looking to add any of these tools, it is essential to look at your website and consider redesign to create a more fluid website.

Are you wanting a new look? If you say yes to this, then a redesign is a must. Whether you are creating a new logo or rebranding your business, a redesign can help to boost your business and give you a second chance.

Redesigning your website can be a difficult task. By working with a professional web design team like Windy City Web Designs, we can ensure that we will create the website of your dreams. Not only will we work with you to create a website that is easy to navigate and attracts your visitors, but is search engine friendly and provides you with higher rankings and conversions as well.

By Bjorn Torling

Calls To Action: Why Your Website Needs To Have Them

When designing a website, the most important goal is to influence your users to do something. Whether this be buying your product, subscribing to your newsletter, or requesting more information, this call to action, or CTA, is essential in running a successful website. Here are few other reasons why your website must have strong and effective calls to action.

It gives your users direction. Once a user has been directed to your website, you must help guide them as to what step they want to take next. Whether it is a free trial offer or a video demo, you are encouraging your visitor to further investigate what you have to offer them.

It measures your user ratings. By comparing the number of visitors to your site to the number of visitors that accept your CTA, you get your conversion rate, which is a tool used to measure your website’s success.

It provides your website with an objective. By adding a call to action, you are adding a better understanding of what your website is about and what you have to offer. The purpose is to generate leads. The only way to do so is by providing relevant content.

Since not all calls to action suit everyone’s business needs. It is important to only use what will be most effective for you. It is also important to remember that it is not necessary to overwhelm your audience with too many calls to action. Some of the most essential calls to action are things like promotional deals or events; email sign-up, social media sharing, and product and services discovery.

Not only are calls to action not only an effective and fundamental part of optimizing your website for conversions, but they play a key role in your content marketing strategy. For help or questions with your CTA or web design solutions, contact Windy City Web Designs. Our team of professional designers, content writers, and marketers will work to ensure your website not only increases your ROI, but provide your website with your optimal conversion rate.

By Bjorn Torling

Creating a Niche Website

Creating a niche website is something every business should strive to do (or pay someone else to do).  Below are tips about creating that niche website that will make you profitable without chaining you to your desk for all eternity.

Choosing a Subject

Unless you can bring a unique opinion, new information, or are an exceptional writer, steer clear of over saturated niches.  Conversely, you need to find a subject that will have enough of a critical mass of traffic to earn customers.  Seasoned Search Engine Optimization can sell leads where no traditional affiliate programs exist.

Find something that you are at least slightly interested in.  If you don’t care about the subject, the quality will slip, it will show, and the project will die.

Use Different Types of Content

When you are building and/or running a website, you need to mix up the content.  You can easily do this with things like editorial content, reviews, destination content, and seasonal content.  The real key here is taking advantage of scheduling posts if at all possible.  Create a blog and schedule relevant news that goes hand in hand with your business.

Windy City Web Designs

Is directly connected to Windy City Strategies, allowing us to create a website for your business that will not only function well and present your brand in a unique way, but increase your ratings and traffic to your site.