web designer vs web builder - 7 of the most inspirational startup websites

7 of the most inspirational startup websites

Everyone’s got a website.

From international financial organisations – to individuals turning out craft items in their own home, a decent looking site is reasonably easy to come by, so how do you stand out from the crowd?

Well, there’s a balance of design, functionality, usability, content… and much more. The perfect website is like a good recipe – all the elements and flavours have got to be perfect if you want the desired effect.

Take a look at 7 of the most beautifully balanced and presented sites we know of at Think Zap– and perhaps draw some inspiration for your own part of the internet…

Flying Piñata

Upon clicking through to Flying Pinata you’re greeted with, well, a flying piñata.

The company’s product is certainly unique – a traditional Mexican piñata, delivered to your party hanging from an expertly piloted drone.

The clarity of the message is exceptional – even just watching the great animation at the top of the site gives you a full run down of what the company does! Perhaps the most impressive about the site is that it only has 64 words of written content – with the rest of the message communicated with great looking colourful animations.

Now, it’s worth noting that the site is literally just a call-to-action to download the company’s app – but it’s a message that’s delivered beautifully and simply.

Ghost

Where images were once king – there’s an increasing move toward sites being designed instead around beautiful text and typography.

Since Ghost is a platform for creating and managing an online blog or publication, it’s no surprise that this is exactly the design route they’ve opted for – beautiful words in a minimalist setting – and they’ve done it very well.

The reason we’ve listed Ghost as such an inspirational site is because of how attractively and effectively they deliver quite a complex product. Ghost is no lightweight in the publishing world – in fact, it’s an open source platform used by huge tech companies like NASA, Apple and Sky – but, that aside, a read through their site gives you a detailed and very readable understanding of what they do, how they do it – and how you can do it too.

Artsy

Artsy is an example of how a website doesn’t have to be minimal to be considered a design masterpiece.

The homepage truly is a hub for all things happening in the art world. From auctions to shows, street art to the masters – it’s all there – and despite there being hundreds upon hundreds of links and pages to explore, there’s a very neat feel to the site – and a natural flow.

A scrolling banner at the top of the site crams loads of up to date and relevant information in – and the stunning images accompanying the text make it almost hypnotic to watch rolling around.

If you’re looking for inspiration and have a lot of info on your homepage – stopping by and studying Artsy is a great idea. 

Mint

Mint is a service that’s designed to put your finances in one place and make their management significantly easier.

Now, if there are some relatively dry sounding subjects for most people – finances and organisation are likely to be toward the top of the list – which is why Mint’s site does such a great job.

A super quick and clear explanation of the service is followed by a bright, vibrant and arguably even exciting pie-chart image that gives the service a really simple and engaging face. Continue scrolling and some very readable site copy has you understanding some of the finer points of the service in no time.

Although the colour palette is simple – it makes the site feel energetic and alive. If you’re dealing with a topic that lots of people will find somewhat dull – you’ll be able to draw inspiration from Mint on how to liven things up…

Stitch

Retail might look simple from the outset – but when you’re starting to scale and considering how to manage your ecommerce platforms, suppliers, warehousing, accounting, point of sale and much much more, you’re staring down the barrel of some severe headaches.

Stitch pens itself as ‘your operations command centre’ – pulling together everything you need to run your business with maximum efficiency.

Now, there are entire websites that are dedicated to explaining just one of the functions Stitch incorporates – so explaining them all in a neat and concise manner is no mean feat. Stitch does a great job of using annotated illustrations to flesh out complex aspects of the service.

If you’ve got a complex product or service and want to draw customers in with an indication of how your product could make life easier for your users, Stitch could provide some excellent inspiration.

Starry

Starry are providing the internet in an innovative and refreshing way.

That is; with no additions, no bundles, no imposed TV packages – just plain and simple internet – and they’re doing it with an emphasis on speed.

Their site is stunning looking too. A hero shot of their great looking hardware – mixed with some quirky illustrations and a colour scheme that gives a relaxed and dreamlike feel. Essentially, the Starry message is delivered with just gradients of two colours other than white and black, giving the site a clean and crisp feel – but not at all cold.

Draw inspiration from Starry if you’re looking to draw customers in by highlighting the simplicity and warmth of your brand.

Winnie

If you’re a parent you’ll know that there’s a host of important features that a restaurant, café or local attraction may or may not provide – such as changing tables, space for buggies, kid’s menus – and much more.

Winnie is a free to use service that helps you know which local businesses cater for your needs – without having to drag children in to have a look around.

Their beautiful illustrations give a really friendly feel to the site – and when you’re in and signed up for a free account, you can find venues quickly and easily with customer reviews to read through. If you’re looking to take the stress out of life – following their light and breezy illustrated lead could be a good plan!

Web design and development process 820x410 - What will web design look like in 2018 – and beyond?

What will web design look like in 2018 – and beyond?

Want to know why web design is so hard to get right?

It’s because it’s not one skill.

According to the web design team at Think Zap, one of Scotland’s leading web design agencies, it benefits to be fully laden with knowledge than spans from marketing and consumer psychology – all the way to innovative tech and cutting-edge programming.

But even then, the digital world doesn’t stop spinning. All of the areas it pays to understand develop on an almost weekly basis – what was in vogue yesterday is old hat today – as you’ll know from looking at and trying to use a site that’s not seen any updates in a couple of years.

It can be tricky knowing what’s hot today – let alone tomorrow, so we’ve talked to some innovative and forward-thinking web designers about what we’re going to see in 2018 and beyond. See if you and your brand are falling into line with what’s going to be the norm over the coming months and years…

  1. Chatbots and conversational UI

There’s an argument for conversational UI completely ruling the web design world going forward in time – but for 2018 at least, we’re going to see these technologies taking a more firm foothold in the sites we use.

The reason conversational UI has so much potential is because it appeals to a user’s sense of experiencing something that’s bespoke; that the site is responding to their specific wants and needs – rather than just throwing up the same experience that everyone gets.

Exceptional experiences also mean people come back and use your site again and again – and effective chatbots are resulting in much greater customer retention and revisit numbers almost universally.

Now, it’s arguable who benefits the most from this user specific experience online – the buyer or the vendor – but given there are benefits for both, it’s safe to say that chatbots and conversational UI is a firm win-win.

  1. Authentic photos

That picture of the smiling team that greets your traffic when they hit ‘contact us’ isn’t fooling anyone you know. The problem is, there’s a limited amount of stock photographs that tick the relevant boxes for a brand – and since there are millions of websites all putting out content on any one topic, there’s likely to be some repetition.

That repetition is a good way of saying ‘we’re a bit lazy’ to your traffic – a bit like you and all your friends turning up to the fancy dress party in the same lacklustre outfit. Lazy isn’t the type of brand image anyone’s hoping to portray – and even less so if you’re going to be representing someone else’s brand!

There’s a place for good stock photography – but as the hero image on your site it’s going to be a no-no in 2018. Instead, high quality authentic images are going to win the day.

Car manufacturer Hyundai recently ditched the small images of their range that featured on their homepage and replaced them with super high-quality, incredibly well shot images of their most prestigious cars. The result? A 62% increase in customers requesting test drives.

Exceptional images lead to exceptional conversions.

  1. Well-designed minimalism

Minimalism and negative space aren’t new ideas – but a break from the very-well-trodden path of black on expansive white backgrounds is long overdue.

Minimalism doesn’t have to be boring – in fact, it can be exceptionally colourful and beautifully designed while still being focused on the elements that matter. Take duotone images as an example – they’re a simple look (if not a little complex to create well) but are an excellent feature and unquestionably eye-catching.

What’s even better about a minimal approach is that it works exceptional well across all devices – and since the majority of web traffic is now mobile; minimal, well designed and light is a massive thumbs up.

  1. Stand out fonts

You may know a little about Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative – essentially an open-source, stripped back version of HTML that truly optimises for mobile. AMP is a topic suitable for a discussion on its own – but it’s definitely having an impact on the designs that we see, especially around the use of fonts and typefaces.

When you’re stripping a page back to its essentials, text takes centre stage – and making sure it’s dressed for the occasion is important.

Although AMP allows for the quick cached loading of images, the emphasis is still on the page being light and quickly accessible – and from a user point of view, it’s the text that’s delivering the most important content 99% of the time.

Expect 2018 to see design that’s built around great looking text – and in some cases, text being used to create the impact that’s traditionally delivered by hero images, buttons and clickable pictures.

  1. SVGs to deliver immersive content

SVG files are vector images – able to scale up and down in a way that just isn’t practical with JPGs, PNGs and other pixel based formats. This is great – as it means page load time isn’t impacted – the first big tick in their favour.

Secondly – SVGs are going to be used to deliver the kind of image based experiences that we dreamed of as kids – 360 views, 3D images, cinemographs and more – exactly the kind of immersion that companies at the forefront of internet experience are keen to deliver.

  1. Greater IoT connectivity

The ‘Internet of Things’ has seen great steps forward in 2017 – and will continue to evolve throughout 2018 – with companies doing more and more with their sites to enable connectivity.

The sheer numbers of IoT devices make integration something of a natural next step – leading industry figures expect 30+ billion networked sensor enabled objects by 2020 – that’s around 4 for every person on the planet!

Although they’re not commonly used now, we can expect APIs that will allow developers to integrate communication with IoT devices from sites becoming increasingly popular over the next few years.

What does the overall picture look like?

Somewhat predictably, mobile is king in 2018 and beyond – but instead of the ‘optimised for mobile’ approach that we’ve seen up until now, expect ‘mobile first’ designs to be the norm – with styles, formats and interactions based on that principle.

Blog3 809x410 - 2017’s Top 7 SEO Trends to Keep You Relevant

2017’s Top 7 SEO Trends to Keep You Relevant

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important factors in digital marketing. It’s been helping businesses grow since the start of the internet era. Every year, SEO trends change. As an SEO expert, you need to embrace these new advances to stay competitive. You need to study some changes in Google Algorithms and even new techniques of content writing.

This 2017, here are the top 7 SEO trends to keep your business on top of the page:

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)

In the end of 2016, Google started recognizing websites that have switched over to AMPs. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are open source protocols that enable websites to load faster on mobile devices. Apart from instant loading, these websites also consume lesser data which sounds very practical today. It is expected that AMPs will dominate mobile searches.

Voice Search

Voice Search has been rising popularity today, especially as smartphones become smarter and people become lazier…we mean, busier. According to comScore, it is expected that half of the web and mobile searches will be done through voice by 2020. As early as now, you need to expand your keywords. Voice searches focused on more personalized and location-based content. So consider these factors in optimizing your content.

mob1 - 2017’s Top 7 SEO Trends to Keep You Relevant

Mobile Optimization

This trend has started a few years ago. But marketers should keep this in mind. More people will become more dependent on mobile communication devices in the future. In fact, mobile searches outranked desktop searches in 2016. You need to optimize everything on your website to the mobile platform.

User Intent Prediction

Google is now better at identifying what a person intends to search or find on the web. Google makes searching more instant, answering even the most detailed queries. In this case, Google extracts a snippet from a top content provider and use it to answer the searcher’s query. Thus, you must take advantage of the opportunity. Think and act like a normal searcher. Identify the most common questions and keyword searches. Use these to publish a content.

301 Redirects

301 redirects keep your website relevant during a topical check. It’s not hard to implement. Basically, it makes sure that the old URL redirects to the new URL. This method does not affect your SEO ranking. There are different methods and strategies for implementing URL redirection.

mob2 - 2017’s Top 7 SEO Trends to Keep You Relevant

Cross-channel Marketing

Cross-channel marketing should never be confused with multi-channel marketing. The primary goal of cross-channel marketing is visibility. It uses a wide range of channels to market a specific brand. This shall include the CRM and marketing automation solutions.

Personal Branding

Personal branding has been an important component of SEO. But in 2017, Google and even social media platforms like Facebook are highlighting individual posts instead of branded posts. This is why personal branding is so important today. It will provide you more guest post opportunities, build user trust, and drive more traffic to your website.

mob3 - 2017’s Top 7 SEO Trends to Keep You Relevant

Search engine optimization really requires analysis. Google, as well as the target audience, are so unpredictable. As a marketer, you have to keep up!

Blog2 809x410 - 6 Tips for an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

6 Tips for an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Email marketing is one of the earliest forms of digital marketing. Up to now, it stills remains very effective in establishing your business’ online presence. In fact, 86% of the consumers would like to receive promotional emails from companies they support and follow, based on Statista (2015). For the next years, email marketing will remain to be one of the digital marketing strategies as email users are expected to grow up to 3 billion by 2020.

Basically, there are different things that you should consider in performing email marketing. The goal is for the recipient to open your email and engage. Here are our 8 tips for an effective email marketing strategy:

marketing1 - 6 Tips for an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Invite them to subscribe

Consumers don’t easily give their email address. Thus, it is you who should invite them to subscribe. Post a signup or subscribe form on your website, homepage, blog, or Facebook page, among others. Do not create a lengthy form. Name, email address, and birthdays are the most common elements. Besides, you might want to send them some deals and freebies for their birthday.

Inform them what to expect

It is a must that you tell consumers what to expect when they subscribe. This may include sending them company updates, daily and weekly deals, freebies and promos, consumer tips, and other important matters. Enumerate these in your signup form so they can decide if they want to receive these types of content or not.

marketing3 - 6 Tips for an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Send a welcome email

After their subscription, send them a welcome email. Thank them for joining the list and subscribing to your content. To make it more special, you can send new subscribers a welcome bonus or offer.

Email design and content is important

Email templates are readily available on the web. But as much as possible, make your email campaign more personal. Mention their name, the likes, and interests. The content should follow the appropriate structure. We recommend that the content should be 90% educational and 10% promotional. Moreover, the design and layout should be enticing. The goal is to look professional. Subscribers wouldn’t want a trashy look newsletter.

Send content that matters

It doesn’t mean that consumers subscribe to your page, they want to receive all content you send. In this dilemma, segmentation comes in. Segmentation allows you to classify subscribers according to the content they want to receive. Basically, their preference for content can be determined during their signup. By sending content that matters to them, you are decreasing your risk of being unsubscribed.

marketing2 - 6 Tips for an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Target the inbox, not the spam

One of the problems of sending newsletters is spam. Basically, email has been seen by hackers as a way to do their thing. In 2004, the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 became a law which prohibits scamming through emails. There are various techniques to avoid the spam. First, you need to get certified. Also, whitelisting has been performed by most companies. In this, the recipient identifies you as reliable. Lastly, your content composition matters. Avoid using too much punctuation marks or including words that sound like a threat.

Are you using email marketing today? Send us your thoughts.