Web Design and SEO Blog


New Website Project for Montana Moulding

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Montana Moulding, a client for many years, is a wholesaler of sign industry supplies and picture framing gallery products including materials such as vinyl, aluminum, ink and printers as well as picture frame moldings and gallery frame supplies. Located in Billings, Montana, they serve many customers across South Dakota, Wyoming and central Canada. The new site will be fully responsive, will allow better merchandising and product promotions, make it easier and faster to find and buy the products you need, will better integrate with their internal systems, and more.

We are excited to help Montana Moulding with this website rebuild as it will serve them for many years into the future.

Google Maps Highlights Areas of Interest

by Mira Brody in Google, Industry News, Optimization, Tools & Tips

Google has recently made a few changes, not only to their search results page, but also to another very popular feature: Google Maps.

Along with a redesign of their mapping system, they added an algorithmic change that highlights areas with a high concentration of restaurants, bars and shops called “Areas of Interest.” Areas of Interest show up in a light orange color as you pan and zoom around the map. For example, the most concentrated blocks on Main Street in Bozeman, MT are highlighted here:
Google's areas of interest.
If you’re a business trying to attract out-of-towners who are probably relying on features like Areas of Interest to direct them where to stop and shop, you’ll probably be concerned about where your business lands on a map with a color key like this.

Although the algorithm is still being worked through to refine its accuracy, users are noticing a few problems with the initial release, such as its subjectivity, and how it relies on the socioeconomic activity of the other businesses around it. For example, Dave’s Sushi, although a popular dinner spot, is just outside of the boundary; a mere block away. Although areas of interest may change as Google adjusts their algorithms, now is a great time to make sure your Google Places account is up-to-date with your business’s current information to give yourself the best chance at being highlighted. If you need help with your Google Places account, reach out to your digital marketing consultant or give us a call today; we’d love to help you be more visible to your customers.

Microcopy’s Impact on User Experience

by Mira Brody in Content, Design, Tools & Tips, UX

microcopy impacts user experience.
Microcopy is small but powerful copy that plays an important role in user experience. Although often overlooked, it takes a careful writer and QA process to make sure your site is communicating effectively. This means anticipating your user’s needs and utilizing functional content on your site to meet these needs resulting in more conversions. In fact, sometimes bad microcopy can be the difference between someone making a purchase and abandoning their shopping cart — a reoccurrence that can seriously affect your revenue.

Here are a few examples of where microcopy can be used to make for an improved user experience:

404 Page — “page not found” can be a frustrating dialogue to see, especially if a user was expecting to find an article they had been wanting to read. The best we can do with microcopy on these pages is to make them lighthearted, but professional, with links directing them to other pages of the website that might be helpful to them.
OnSite Energy has a unique 404 Page.
For OnSite Energy, a Bozeman, MT based solar installation company, we stayed true to the theme of the industry while providing links back to the home page and contact us.

Form labels — When filling out a form, it is important to use microcopy not as a crutch for the user, but as a way to guide them through a process without frustration. Microcopy can be used to help someone understand how you want their phone number formatted, which fields are required or whether you need their shipping or billing address.

Error states — error states are another frustrating experience for users. “There are errors on this page,” or “fields are left blank,” for example, is extremely unhelpful, especially on a particularly long form.
Form field text on Outpost Restaurant guide the user.
On most of our forms, we label our errors with specific actions as well as scroll you up to the topmost error. This helps guide the user to the action you need them to complete without being too vague.

Although microcopy appears small and insignificant and can’t ultimately fix usability issues, it has a big impact on a user’s experience, sometimes determining if that user is a repeat customer or completes a purchase. If you’re worried that some of the copy on your site may be compromising the experience your customers have on your site, give us a call and we’d be happy to help.

Representing Personality in Website Design

by Mira Brody in Content, Design, Imagery, Tools & Tips

Just as your storefront or business office may reflect the character of your company, the content of your website should be built with the same personality attributes in mind. Here are a few ways we’ve helped our clients integrate their unique branding into their site:

Silver Screen Insider
Silver Screen Insider
Silver Screen Insider
A project in progress, Silver Screen Insider is a great source for theater owners and fans of film alike, providing box office data, publications and games to their users.
Character: fun, current, a sense of humor
What we did: Because of their industry and causal user base, we added movie posters and classic movie quotes throughout the site. This keeps the theme of the business alive and users engaged, wondering what famous line will pop up on the page next.

Healthcare-Malpractice.com refers legal services to victims of medical malpractice and negligence.
Character: professional, comforting, sensitive
What we did: Effective copywriting was crucial in this project in order to make users of the site feel safe during what could be a stressful time for them. A scrolling tour of the company’s services helps to gently lead users to sign up for Healthcare-Malpractice.com’s services while stock photography of field professionals reassures them they are in experienced hands.

Bozeman Airport
Bozeman Airport
Bozeman Airport
Bozeman Airport is another newer project, but a longtime client. This airport serves a handful of major national attractions and is very busy during tourist season.
Character: major airlines, beautiful location, convenient
What we did: In order to emphasize the beauty of their location and convenience of their services, we’ve displayed hero images of large, commercial airliners as well as local mountain ranges. For their upcoming new website, we will carry this imagery over and emphasize the airport’s convenience to local attractions such as Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky Resort, Bozeman and neighboring cities.

By taking the time to discover these brand traits and apply them creatively, we can accurately apply design features to help build the website personality of the businesses we work with.

A New Project: Laundry Loops

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

Laundry Loops
Laundry Loops
Laundry Loops is the original inventor of the laundry bag alternative product that groups clothing in sport’s locker rooms, prisons and military bases by securing it to a loop that then keeps the sets of clothing separate during washing and drying. The loops are useful in commercial and industrial-sized washing facilities.

The new project we are working on for Laundry Loops will focus on streamlining the administrative side of their business so that staff can sell, produce and ship their product more efficiently. This project is a great example of the flexibility a website can allow not only your customers but your staff as well, making managing transactions easier as your grow.

A New Website for The Wheeler Center

by Mira Brody in Announcements, Design, Development

The Wheeler Center
The Wheeler Center
“An informed people is the basis of, and a necessity for, successful democratic government. The people of the United States are entitled to hear all sides to a question whether it be political, economic, social, racial or religious.”
— Burton K. Wheeler

Our team is building a new site for the Burton K. Wheeler Center, an organization promoting the discussion and scholarly analysis of critical Montana public policy and issues. Established in 1988 and located on the Montana State University campus, this nonpartisan center hosts conferences and promotes events that encourage the participation of citizens in government.

The Wheeler Center’s new website will not only provide the opportunity for a new design, but also some additional features, such as pages that encourage sponsorship and individual donations and to post upcoming events and conferences and provide resources and an archive of event documents. We are excited to get started on this useful resource in our community.

Don’t just market your business online. Do business online.

by Mira Brody in Design, Development

If you run a business, you may have a website to display branding, location and contact information — a digital billboard. Although this billboard may help grab people’s attention and get them to your storefront, there are many additional ways a website can help your business. With a custom site you can not only tell people that you do business, you can conduct business.

A good example would be a dog boarding facility. Yes, you want people to be able to find you and call your front desk to get their questions answered, but why not save time by answering their questions directly online? And what about the customers who need to book reservations or a training class for their dog? What if these customers are at work from 9-5 and need customer service after hours? What about the manager who needs to administrate those reservations on the backend, schedule trainers, order supplies and process payments?

These are the questions that build a custom website.

If you’re a business just starting out on a shoestring budget and need to attract customers, a simple billboard site may be useful to you. However, when you start to grow, you’ll need your site to grow with you, act as your POS system, schedule appointments, administrate billing, generate invoices — anything you need to serve your customers.

We work with our clients to uncover these needs, to reveal the full potential of a website and how it can improve your business workflow, saving you money in the long run. As your startup grows, so should your site, and that is where your investment will pay off quickly. If you have questions about how a custom website can help your business, give us a call! We will help you uncover needs and goals in order to help your business thrive.

When Not To Use PDFs

by Mira Brody in Content, Design, Tools & Tips

issues with pdfs.
Whether an employment form, a legal document or membership registration, sometimes you'll need to get information from your customers. Some websites still go by the method of having their clients download a PDF form, fill it out and fax or email it back. This makes for a poor user experience because it forces the user to put forth extra effort to complete a task and change their mode of communication.

A good example is the process for applying for a job.
Shipton's employment process.
On the website for Shipton’s Big R, instead of asking an applicant to print a PDF, fill it out and return it to the store, Shipton’s had us build an application system directly into the site. This not only makes it easier for the prospective employee, but there are significant direct advantages for Shipton’s as well.

If for budgetary reasons you are constrained to using PDFs on your website, it is important that you include them in your site testing process to ensure a flawless process for your customers. Here are a few things you can check for:

  • Test that inputting data using your computer works well — load the PDF in your computer and make sure all input fields work by typing data into each one, including the digital signature field.
  • Make sure the file you’re using is a PDF file, not another format. If your form downloads as a Word document, for example, people will be able to alter the form and they may not be able to open it easily.
  • Make sure it prints correctly.

If you’d like to streamline your processes and eliminate paperwork, talk to us today about building a custom workflow directly into your website that will gather the information you need from your customers securely and with ease.