Friday, 21 November 2014

Website of the Week: John Bertram Motor Company
John Bertram Motor Company Home Page                            John Bertram Motor Company Showroom

John Bertram Motor Company
Selling used cars & commercial vehicles
Products Chosen:
Why we Love it:

Our Website Design Team based in Southampton really loved working with John of John Bertram Motor Company. It's definitely a website that stands out from the rest.

It features a very bold design with almost a retro feel. When looking through the pages, you are almost reminded by classic, favourite car brands from the past. The fixed, wooden texture background perfectly represents a busy workshop trimmed with flashes of red and gold with some fun transitional highlights on some graphics.

The layout of this website is also worth praising and features two, bespoke page dressings. The Home Page is very professional looking and it is easy to see the different, outlined sections highlighted in signature red backgrounds and bold white titles. There is a small, in-body slider in the top right with quirky sequential graphics meaning that a lot of the important content is immediately visible and the space is not wasted.

The Our Cars/Showroom page is even more elaborately dressed. The signature colours are used in blocks here also to make the statistics of each car stand out yet organised and easily read. And there are lots of the client's own photos so that visitors to the website can view the vehicles from every angle as if they were there. The great thing about this page is that it is so easy to update. The dressing is a template that can be duplicated as many times as needed for every new car that is added to the Showroom.

The client needed this website up and running as quickly as possible so this website was put together in just over a month. It's a great example of a professional looking website for a company that is on the ball and forward thinking. They are already making updates to their new website which will make it popular with Search Engines and results.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Website of the Week - Inkwazi Kommunications

Inkwazi Kommunications
Sales Training, & Event Management Solutions
Reading, Berkshire
Products Chosen:
Why we Love it:

Our Website Design Team based in Southampton really loved working on Inkwazi's new website and so decided to make this our Website of the Week.

The design of it demonstrates a lot of the trends going on in website design at the moment with its panel-style backgrounds and pastel colors. Grey and blue, though very corporate, have been softened to match the quirky but professional eagle logo.

The Fish Eagle (the meaning behind the word 'Inkwazi') and the colours used achieve a friendlier tone better suited for this company, dedicated to working with charities, helping them to stand out from other corporations in the field.

This simple yet modern design also makes a good frame for the well written and organised content within. The main menu and sub sections represented by custom icons in the Home Page Dressing sit above an attractive Twitter Feed integration which will help Inkwazi reach out to clients as well as impress Search Engines like Google.

You can see this organisation is also continued onto each internal page of the website. Each section is represented by custom backgrounds & custom icons. It's so easy to navigate using the four main sections in the website menu at the top. Then from there, you can find the Services section with five sub sections to jump between, complete with 'Back to Top' buttons every step of the way.

This is a great example of a website to look at if you're thinking about ways to structure your own content. The design fits in perfectly with this resulting in a great website for a truly deserving company.

Find out more about Toolkit Websites, Web Design in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and how they can help your business grow.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The History of Web Design - Do you know where it all started...

To understand the history of website design you first need to know a little about where websites came from. Function and design have been the two driving forces behind website development over the years and one has always affected the other.

Birth of the World Wide Web

The internet was actually born out of a need for easier communication in the 1950s. Using it, certain institutions were able to carry out basic social interactions and share information with each other across a computer shared network. Think of a very basic Dropbox system combined with Wikipedia and perhaps a blog-type format.

The First Website
From this, in the 1990s, people started to actually create their own landing pages on this network. Access to these pages was gained by simply typing in an address into the address bar on the browser used at the time. These then developed into websites and web pages. The first of these was built in August of 1991, a physicist named Tim Berners-Lee created it from his NeXT computer located at the CERN facility in the Swiss Alps.

At the time, Berners-Lee didn’t have that big of an audience to impress (basically just his colleagues at CERN) and it was all about the functionality and making the information available to an audience. It was then realised that websites could be used as a marketing or advertising tool and represent businesses and companies, generating revenue.

To give you a better idea, from the years 1990 to 1993, 50 websites were built. Then in the following 2 years, 1994 to 1996, 100,000 websites were set up - which was a rapid increase as people began to understand the true potential of the internet and websites.

Web design actually came into its own much later when the number of websites began to increase even further and it became the norm for all companies and businesses to have them. Website design gave those companies a way to stand out from the competition and it is still that way today more than ever.

To better understand the evolution of website design, there are a few important milestones to explore.

1. The Invention of HTML

As you can see in the example above, text based websites came first and were written using something known as first generation HTML which stands for Hypertext Markup Language. As you can imagine, these were very plain and there was little room for creativity.

2. Images and Tables
However, soon after came the ability to accompany this text with images in a tabular structure. And then, images could even be part of the website's background.
The Space Jam website is great example of these early websites where website design was just beginning to flourish. It has been kept live on the web by fans and has a truly nostalgic feel for those who remember the Internet's early days.

3. Flash
Later a technology known as Flash started being used on websites in 2008. It gave designers and developers the ability to display a huge variety of visual effects and even had interactive capabilities. It could replicate movement or be similar to watching a film or video game. 

Flash is still used in special circumstances today. Click here to experience some of the top Flash based websites from 2014.

But overall it has begun to be phased out due to it being considered 'clunky' and even causing the slowing down of load times. Flash also cannot display on mobiles, making it a huge disadvantage in this era of smart devices. The last nail in the coffin for Flash was that search engines such as Google cannot read Flash elements and even punishes websites that use it for this reason. This can be crippling to online presence so updating is strongly advised.

In the fall of Flash, we saw website functionality limiting design and modern websites were reverting back to the format of the early days where text was the most important element. Features such as hit counters and background music also become obsolete and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) became the most important aspect in driving the evolution of design and the trends that would follow.

You might be interested to see some other early websites that feature HTML and Flash elements alongside their current, optimised counterparts:

The early Google Home Page alongside today's
The early Marine Resources Home Page alongside today's
Our very own website in the early days early alongside our most recent redesign

4. CSS
Come the year 2000, CSS was starting to be widely used on websites in partnership with HTML. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets and gave website designers a huge amount of options in terms of the way elements built into websites displayed. Websites began to have a more uniform and creative appearance and it is often thought of as the father of design-based website branding.

CSS contains the instructions the website needs on what fonts and colours to display (among other things) and how to be laid out. It is placed in a separate document to the content on the website and provides more flexibility and control in the specification of design and presentation.

Explore some great websites that make the most of their Cascading Style Sheets here.

The Future
Other technologies have been developed over the years to give website design more options and website designers the ability to be even more creative. Among these are Javascript and jQuery and inevitably even more will be developed in the future and this will help website design to evolve even further.

In our next blog post we'll focus more on the trends found in web design today and what may have brought them about.

Websites are a really exciting form of media as they are a unique blend of purpose, functionality and design. Out of their purpose came the need and inspiration to make them exciting, design-based works. But the design must always have a purpose. Whether that be to be informative, or to be a platform for communication or to even be a way to advertise, the history of websites and web design clearly shows this. I'm sure whatever the future holds will be just as interesting and we at Toolkit Websites, can't wait to see it.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The future of web design: Where web design is going…

In this ever-evolving discipline, it’s always been a challenge to keep up to date with latest web design trends and ideas. The explosion of the mobile market as well as tablets and similar devices has seen people browsing the Internet on the go, and using a personal computer to access the web far less.

“Access to the Internet using a mobile phone more than doubled between 2010 and 2014, from 24% to 58%.”

Because of this, web design in itself has had to adapt as well. Gone are the days where you can build a website to just look good in a browser. Now, websites need to be accessible on a myriad of devices, due to the increased level of choice people have when it comes to “surfing the net.”

Not only does this mean that responsive design has taken centre stage, it also means that trends such as “flat design” and “parallax scrolling” have become increasingly popular among those wanting their website to stand out and clearly showcase their message.

For now, we can see that website design is heading towards a more simplistic, stripped back and minimal design style, with people preferring an uncluttered and easy to navigate site. There is a rise in popularity for websites that are open plan, larger in width and focus on beautiful graphics, typography and imagery.

Gone are the days where websites are built in three columns with rigid sidebars, paragraphs of text and blocky flash animation headers. The future of web design shows us throwing these routine elements out of the window and using the space to tell a story. No more blocks, or rigid boxes.

The idea of design is now moving more towards a pageless website experience, where you only need to scroll to journey through the site. No more clicking back and fourth or being inundated with blocks of vast information… the idea is for it to be much more fluid. This style makes for a seamless experience, ending the need for link hunting or any other type of point and click guesswork.

Because pageless design needs to be well thought out and planned, the website creator would need to carefully think about their content, making it clear and concise about what their business has to offer. This in turn makes the overall message more powerful than if you had a complicated page structure for the user to try and navigate.

To summarise, it is difficult to predict the future of web design, because it’s an ever-changing entity. The way things are looking now though, shows that mobile and tablet usage is on the increase and doesn’t look set to go anywhere any time soon. Flat design, Parallax scrolling and one page websites will probably become much more widely used, enabling ease of use and creating a positive and enjoyable experience for the end user.

Find out more about Toolkit Websites, Web Design in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and how they can help your business grow.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Social September - All About Instagram:

Popular with the public for its clean design and easy to use dashboard, many businesses and brands have included Instagram in their digital marketing strategy. With over 150 million monthly users, Instagram is a way of sharing images with captions to a wide range of people, and is a great way at getting to your target audience in a more visual way of advertising.

As they say, a picture paints a thousand words!

Free Advertising

With this social media app, you can provide window-shopping opportunities for your followers, giving them a taste of your products and services. You can include useful information in the caption, such as location details, price, and anything else to intrigue your followers.

Engaging with your target audience

People buy from people and Instagram will help you to create that emotional connection with your audience. The great thing here is that it allows you to share the day-to-day experiences of your business whilst giving a personal feel to your brand.  Behind the scene photos and employee images tend to rank well on Instagram. When you attend a social event, start work on a new project, take part in a charity event, visit a particularly good restaurant, go on holiday to a beautiful city, or celebrate a success in your business… make sure you capture the event on camera. Knowing what’s happening in your world keeps your organisation fresh in your target audiences mind.

Every business needs a personality behind the brand, because the more human a business comes across the more likely you are going to engage your target audience and open up discussion about your products and services. Not just that, but it also becomes a memorable visual image, which is a lasting impression on potential customers.

Increase In Traffic

Although you can’t add clickable links to every Instagram update it can be a great source of traffic driving. Because Instagram is visual, it’s more about making your brand visible, and getting noticed.

In a nutshell, having a selection of accounts, from Facebook to Twitter, and YouTube to Instagram helps reach the largest audience possible, and increase brand awareness even further.  By integrating Instagram into your social media marketing campaign, you can give your online following insight into your company in new ways.

Find out more about Toolkit Websites, Web Design in Southampton, Hampshire, UK and how they can help your business grow.