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Using the Web to Create Value

One of Cassel Bear’s primary services is designing and developing custom websites for our clients. The expertise, attention to content, and deep knowledge of our designers, developers, writers, and strategists mean that off-the-shelf templates or self-service website builders just don’t measure up to a site that’s designed specifically for your unique business. There are few things more effective at communicating your brand’s identity, your products/services, or your mission to the world than a carefully planned and well-designed website.

Over the last several years, however, the web has changed a lot, and it’s moving faster now than ever before. The explosion of mobile device use means that responsive design is no longer a luxury but a baseline necessity; the growth of web-friendly typography means that, as designers, we now have more control over the nuances of how a website looks; the prevalence of detailed analytics means that decisions about design and strategy can be made on hard facts, not guesswork; lastly, what a website actually does has, by and large, become fairly consistent from site to site. All of these factors combine to form a bit of a contradiction: An increasing number of tools for building sites is making web design and  development easier, but – more than ever – the site’s success depends on an enhanced understanding of technology, marketing strategy, and user behavior.

The exciting thing about this shift, for a designer, is that it means the easy problems have effectively been solved, allowing us to focus on the more complex strategic questions our clients bring to us. No longer do we need to reinvent a contact form, the main navigation, or a photo gallery for every client that walks through the door. Numerous studies of web users have shown that familiar patterns lead to longer sessions, meaning that by utilizing a tried and true menu pattern instead of a wacky new solution, your site’s users are less likely to get confused and leave your site. In addition to the increased engagement, using a standard navigation pattern is much easier for our team to implement.

These types of reliable, tested, and industry standard patterns are the building blocks we use when sketching out a site. With tried and true blocks in place, we can then focus energy towards achieving the goals of the site, such as higher user engagement on mobile devices, driving more traffic to a particular product, or figuring out why people aren’t reading your blog.

Finding solutions to these goals can deliver real, tangible value for you in a way that focusing primarily on design and aesthetics never will. When we pay appropriate attention to questions of strategy and function, the end result is more likely to be a website that goes beyond being a digital brochure. Instead, it can function as the first link in a connection between you and your next customer.

So when you start thinking about revamping your website, go beyond thinking about what colors you like or what photos you want on the homepage. Consider the business problem you want to solve, the desired outcome you want a user to reach, or the product sales you want to increase. Those are the hard questions to answer, the hard problems to solve, and just the type of challenge that we love at Cassel Bear.