Career Growth in Industrial Design

c10b0f6f-cb37-44a7-980f-bcd01d9d61dfIndustrial designers are heavily involved in many of the steps of basically everything that is mass-manufactured from the initial concept all the way through to its presentation to the marketplace. The rapid pace of the development of new technology combined with a constant craving for the latest and greatest technological gadget means that good industrial designers are in great demand. [Read more...]

Today’s Top Industrial Design Companies

Hochhäuser - BankenWith the advent of many new technological features, many companies are starting to produce their own industrial designs. These include a wide variety of different machines and computer products. Many new consumer goods originated through the industrial design process, since companies often have to patent these products. Identifying the top industrial design companies these days can be a challenge, since there are so many different fields now. But it is possible to measure their success by the number of patents that they generate and how successfully they are received by their consumers. Take a look at some of the best industrial design companies operating today. [Read more...]

Industrial Design Careers – Choose Your Path

StudentA hard question for industrial design students to answer is what exactly it is they design.  There are so many options in the field of industrial design.  What’s the right direction?  Commercial Products?  Industrial Products?  Household Products?  This is also a question industrial design students face when trying to pick a career path.

The difficulty is understandable as the term “industrial design” is  young one compared to other design fields.  It is also a broad discipline that is still expanding.  Even those within the field are hard pressed to explain which industrial designers design what products.   Below are four basic categories of industrial design but they are not the entirety of the industrial design continuum.  Design is in flux and the terms describing different types of industrial design are fluid so use the descriptions as a overview in choosing an industrial design career. [Read more...]

Industrial Design Defined

Engineering industrial designing. Electrical schemeIndustrial design is not a new concept.  It’s been around for a very long time.  The term “industrial design” is just something that’s been more commonly referred to over the last 20 or 30 years.  Industrial design is the utilization of applied sciences or engineering and art to design or produce an actual product.  An industrial designer will often be hired to solve for a problem by designing a product that fits the problem’s need.

What Does an Industrial Designer Do?

Let’s start with a simple example of what an industrial designer does.  Let’s start with you – the small business owner.  You have the problem that your employees are constantly complaining about back pain due to sitting long hours in a chair.  Then you, as a business may order some ergonomic chairs to help your employees with their back pain.  The chair company supplying you with these ergonomic chairs has a team of industrial designers that are on staff built to design that chair that will help alleviate back pain and meet certain specifications.  Part inventor, engineer, graphic designer and artist, industrial designers need to be intelligent, patient and above all creative. [Read more...]

The Top 5 Industrial Design Schools

College door with fall ivyAre you interested in a career in industrial design, but aren’t sure what college is right for you? Don’t worry. Your talent deserves the best it can get.  While we could talk about the best design schools in Canada all day long, below is our list of the top five industrial design schools in the United States.

1. Rhode Island School of Design
RISD is one of the oldest colleges of art and design in the United States. The school was founded in 1877, and is home to around 2,300 students with a driving need to become the best they can be in their respective fields. RISD offers both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in 19 different programs, including architecture, design, fine arts, and more. Located in the beautiful and historical Providence, Rhode Island, RISD is close to New York City and all its attractions. [Read more...]

Tips to Establish Trust on Your Website

When someone visits your website, you have about 15 seconds to keep them there. One of the first ways to do this is instilling confidence and trust. This is especially important for small businesses that do not have a big brand behind them. They must build trust before people will be willing to buy from them. Follow these tips to make your website appear more trustworthy and help improve your conversion rate.

1. Invest in a Good Design
Good web design shows your visitors that you are a serious and legitimate business, not some fly-by-night operation that’s using a premade template. A site that is designed well and aesthetically pleasing shows your visitors that you have spent both time and money on it.

2. Add Some Humanity
Visitors aren’t going to trust a website but rather the brand or people behind it. It’s important to use real images of yourself or your team so your visitors can see that there are real people behind the site. A good example of this is found on websites for plastic surgeons like Dr. Vito C. Quatela of Rochester. You can see his website here http://www.quatela.com/BreastandBodyProcedures/liposuction/ includes his photograph. As an added bonus toward establishing trust, you can see at the bottom of his website that he has mentions of trusted brands like The Wall Street Journal.

3. Make Your Website Familiar
Even if visitors have never been to your website before, it should still feel familiar. How do you do this? By making your website very easy to use. Your site should have a structure that is common so visitors feel in control.

4. Leverage Brand Power
You can also leverage the brand power of other companies by affiliating yourself in some way. It may be a service you use, a partner’s logo, places where you have been reviewed like Yelp or a site seal. In the website linked above, you will see the site boasting about being “seen in the New York Times” and other recognizable media. This is a common tactic, because even if the mention is negative, it still triggers recognition and trust among your visitors.

5. Give Your Address
Don’t try to be anonymous. This is bad for business! Always display your real address so visitors know where you are located. If you live in an obscure location or cater to people around the world, you may want to show the address on a map.

6. Have an About Us Page
This is a quick and easy way to instill trust to visitors by helping them feel like they know more about the person behind the website. It’s also a good way to send visitors to the main content on your website.

7. Proofread your content
Finally, there is no faster way to tell people you aren’t serious about your business than filling your site with grammatical and spelling mistakes. These problems are easier to forgive on informal sites like the blog or the Facebook page, but you should consider hiring an editor to check your formal channels and website pages to make sure you aren’t eroding trust.

Are You Overusing Your Keywords? Google May Think So

Just when you think you’ve got the whole SEO thing down – it changes – again. It used to be that those who neglected to use enough of their main keywords were penalized with a lower ranking for being irrelevant. Nowadays, the opposite is true. Think you’re helping your website with those densely keyword-rich articles? Google has caught on to you, my friend. Outsourcing your articles to a non-native English speaker? Google will lower your ranking for that, too. Flawed grammar and too many keywords are two red flags that Google’s current algorithm, Hummingbird, doesn’t tolerate.

For example, let’s say you are writing an article about your family company and you want to make sure people are able to find you. The old way was to make sure this longtail key phrase was in every paragraph – and sometimes, multiple times. Annoying? Yes. But, it worked. Try that today and see how fast you get buried in the tenth page of your search, right next to that guy who outsourced all his articles to English learners. The harsh realities of Google’s updated algorithms left many websites scrambling to keep their sites from completely tanking, with rewrites on articles happening faster than Google can say, “we’ve changed our algorithm again.”

But, wait – there’s more! Some thought having local longtail key phrases wouldn’t affect them as much, since there is less competition on local searches. They were also wrong. Having a key phrase such as “facelift procedure in Indianapolis, IN” too many times worsened the ranking just as much as any national search. The truth is – SEO shortcuts are running low on the white hat side of operations. Google’s evil plan is working – quality is now trumping quantity.

Okay, my sad-faced friend, what does all this mean for you – and how can you keep your website from being targeted as a spam site? While too many main keywords are out – many similar but not identical keywords are in. Using synonyms where appropriate and different key phrases with the same meaning as your main key phrase helps to keep your article from getting bullied by Google. This popular search engine is hard at work trying to make sure its top search pages are worthy of such positions. These updates might seem like they’re out to get you, but in truth – they are upgrading the search experience for everyone. By reanalyzing your own website’s keyword habits, you might unlock the mystery of why your site hasn’t hit number one for that keyword you’ve been after. You may be overdoing it.

While it’s a pain to redo an entire website’s article database – expect more changes to come that’ll have you praying to the SEO gods for mercy. Except, they won’t listen – because it’s for everyone’s own good to increase the quality of a search. Who wants to read a redundant article with confused grammar, anyway? Maybe Google knows what it’s doing, after all.

I speak from experience. Just recently, I had to work with my team to rework the website of a client, Dr. Michael Schwartz, MD, which can be viewed at http://palmbeachface.com/blepharoplasty.html. While the site did not previously have an excessively high keyword density, we found that bringing it down to less than 1% did the trick! What are you waiting for, shouldn’t you be getting to work yourself?

5 Tips to Improve Contact Form Conversion Rates

Contact forms are the means for potential clients to communicate with your business, and it is where most of your visitors will go to connect with you. While web design and marketing strategies can increase the amount of visitors your website receives, it is absolutely essential to convert them to get leads from your site and make it worthwhile.

Your visitors may be semi-interested in what you offer, hesitant or confused. Any inconvenience in contacting you will instead turn them to your competitiors. To increase the inquiries you receive through your contact form, follow these proven tips.

1. Minimal Mandatory Fields
If your contact form requires that visitors fill out too much information, you can bet that the majority will take one look and click that “back” button. Get rid of fields that you do not really need and stick with the basics to make it easy for visitors to get in touch. This should be your number one takeaway. You can increase your conversion rate by nearly half when you reduce the form fields from 4 to 3 fields.

2. Make the Contact Form Easy to Find
Some websites hide their contact page deep in a submenu. If you want to generate leads, it should be as visible as possible and one of the most prominent calls to action. A good example of this is found on the website for Dr. Ran Y. Rubinstein, MD, which you can see here: http://www.YourFaceMD.com/facial-sculpting-manhattan-ny/chin-augmentation.html. Notice that the contact form is visible on the side of the screen as a clear call to action.

3. Establish Trust
If you want users to take the time to connect with you, remember that the first thing you are asking for is personal information like their email address and name. Make sure you establish trust that you will help them with what they need by first evaluating the information you are requesting on your contact form and not asking for overly sensitive information at first. Next, set expectations to eliminate confusion and invalid input errors, and be user friendly.

4. Give Users Some Help
You certainly have needs for the data you collect from your contact form, but it’s important to communicate exactly what you need and why you need it. Too many businesses add contact forms as an afterthought with no text, which can frustrate some users and reduce the conversion rate. You can provide help in many ways, such as ghost text in the fields to let users know what to enter, or providing a hint at the formatting with ghost text. For example, the ghost text for a phone number can use “(xxx) xxx-xxxx” as an example. You can also add help text below the fields to help users, especially if you have a more complex contact form.

5. Reduce Friction
Finally, add specific elements to reduce friction and improve the completion rate of your contact form. You can set the tab order to help users quickly move through the fields, which is especially helpful for mobile users. Be sure to pay attention to the final tab to submit the contact form, as it shouldn’t be located right next to the cancel button.

Your Education Begins AFTER Design School

How many years does it take you to go through design school and earn your degree (or whatever qualification you are studying for)? This may come as a shocker, but the hard truth is that your wed design education actually takes place once you leave school.

The following are some of the things that you can only learn once you leave design school and start working.

How to Write
In design school, a lot of time is taken to teach you the basics of how to design a website. You learn programming and little attention is given to how to write material that is intended for actual website visitors.

Once out of school, you soon realize that most clients will expect you to design as well as write the content that will go on their website. That is when your true education really starts. You soon realize that it isn’t as difficult as you thought, and that all it takes is for you to put across a message using the clearest language possible. Design school forgot to teach you that!

How to Handle Clients
No amount of reading about how to drive will give you any competence in driving. The same goes for customer handling; you can only learn how to deal with clients by actually dealing with them.

There are clients that will keep changing their mind about what they want and there are clients that will want their finished work yesterday. You will bungle a few times but with time, you will become adept at handling all types of clients that come your way, without losing much needed business as a result of getting into a shouting match with a customer.

All that theory that you read about the customer being king will be severely tested in the field so you better develop a thick skin quickly before your career is permanently ruined by blunders you make in dealing with difficult clients.

Speed of Learning
Web design is a rapidly changing landscape. What is in vogue today will be obsolete a few months later. As a web designer, you must learn how to quickly adapt to the changes that are introduced in your field or you will be out of business very soon.

For example, the rise of social media and online reviews has made it imperative that these aspects be worked into web design. A colleague recently did his first website for a client whose business is based a great deal on word of mouth, which meant it was important to work in reviews for Dr. Max Polo, MD into pages like this on the surgeon’s site.

Final Comments
This post shouldn’t in any way encourage you to leave design school. School is important in that it exposes you to the basic things that you have to be aware of. School teaches you how to learn, and that is an invaluable skill since it sets you up to learn on the job. You should start working with the confidence that school has given you want you need to get started in your career, so view the end of school as the beginning of learning practical skills.

Call to Action Tips for Web Designers

Before a website goes live, one of the most vital components it must include is effective calls to action. In fact, I would argue the calls to action are as important as the design itself or the web content.

So often, I come across business websites that don’t even have phone numbers that are easy to find, or fail to entice visitors with offers that will keep them around. I read an interesting study recently that reviewed 100 random small business websites and found that 70% did not have a notable call to action on the website, or any interior pages aside from the standard “contact us” in the navigation. You don’t want your clients’ websites to end up like this!

Here are some tips to make sure you design a website that isn’t just beautiful — it also gets the job done.

1. Use contrasting buttons
You don’t need to go overboard choosing the color of the call to action buttons, despite what you may read about the importance of color in web design. What matters the most is that the buttons stand out and get attention. You can feel free to stick with the company’s color scheme and logo. A good example of this is here, on this website for Santa Monica’s Skin By Lovely. You’ll notice the prominent calls to action that blend perfectly with the website’s design, yet still get your eye.

Prioritize Calls to Action
Don’t assume the call to action prompting visitors to “buy” is necessarily the most important. The highest priority call to action should match the content of the page, depending on where the visitor is in the sales process. Not every button can be a priority, as there will probably be some secondary buttons like signing up for a newsletter or downloading a brochure.

When you do this, you won’t have calls to action that are competing against each other.

Be Repetitive
Sometimes calls to action need to be repeated, especially if there is a lengthy sales page. Don’t be afraid to put in a call to action several times on the page, as long as you don’t go overboard.

Tell Them Why
Finally, don’t just throw in calls to action randomly or assume visitors are going to read the entire page. A good call to action focuses and directs visitors, but it also gives them a reason. It’s important to effectively communicate the benefits of following through and clicking that button. What will they get? Keep it simple. Will they get a free gift if they order now? Is an offer going to expire soon?

Effective calls to action require a lot of thought. You should start by choosing a goal for the specific page, whether it’s getting social media shares, downloading an eBook or buying a product, then consider the context. Think about where the prospect is in the sales process. For example, someone on the home page shouldn’t be steered toward buying something right away but rather requesting a demo or learning more. Make your calls short and actionable, and make it clear what visitors will get in return. Finally, think about the placement to get CTAs that get the job done.

Physician Websites are Catching On

Whether your practice is rebuilding your website or launching your first site, your needs in 2014 will be different from those of the past several years. The health care landscape is changing with the adoption of the Affordable Care Act, and future sites will be an integral cog in the relationship between physicians and patients.

Physician Websites and the Affordable Care Act
There is definitely a current need for physicians to put more into their websites, so that they are less static and more able to keep up-to-date with current information. Since the ACA was implemented, engaging with patients will be a more important aspect of physicians’ websites. 72% of people who regularly use the Internet say that they do look online for up-to-date health information.

Many doctors only use their sites as if they were electronic information brochures. They need to offer more services and more information about the practices, and they should be updated regularly. Diane Walder, MD, a dermatologist, has a user-friendly site at http://DianeWalderMD.com/dr-diane-walder.asp, if you want to view an example of a positive, working website.

Must-Have Features on Physician Sites in 2014
Videos and photographs offer a personalized look at physicians and their practices. This gives potential patients a feel for your practice. Care must be taken not to use any patient photos without permission.

Personal touches mean a lot for physician websites. 30 million new patients will be insured beginning in 2014, and many of these people will be searching for physicians. Making a connection with potential patients emotionally is not adequately done by many physician websites online today.

Integrating sites with electronic records of health events is a part of the new meaningful use requirement. Physicians will need to include a patient portal, where their patients can easily access their medical records and send secure electronic messages to their physicians. Patient portals will likely be hosted on the websites for each practice.

Health education is an important new aspect of physicians’ websites. Your patients probably already go online for information related to their health, so it makes sense to be a preferred go-to resource. This may be accomplished using a blog. Setting blogs up is relatively easy, and even physicians and healthcare workers who are not tech-savvy will be able to update their sites easily through free blogging services commonly available.

What else Should Be Included on Physician Websites?
Medical practice websites should include capabilities that allow patients to order prescription refills and schedule appointments online. Information you provide to patients should be written just as though you are speaking to them, making it easier to digest for patients.

Integrate your site with social media sites. Your areas used for educating patients can be placed on your healthcare practice social media sites. Be sure that you have good integration between social media and your website, to raise your exposure level to new and current patients.

You can integrate with a simple column on one side of the website main page, or use those often-seen badges on your home page, which, when clicked, will take your patients directly to your social media channel.

The easier your website is to use, the more patients will feel comfortable interacting with your medical practice online.

How Can You Make Physicians Websites User-Friendly?

Plastic surgeons are often on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to their procedures. However, they may lack in technical savvy when it comes to their websites. It’s not their fault personally, of course. They may need professional web designers to handle their sites, to make them user friendly.

What Can Physicians Websites Do?
The websites of today allow healthcare providers to offer a great deal of information for their patients. They can also collect pertinent patient demographic information. Websites allow patients to enter their medical history before they come to their appointments, which saves valuable time they would otherwise spend filling out forms in the waiting room. Patients can also set up realistic payment plans.

How Can Physicians Websites Take Advantage of Availability?
Information should be frequently updated. Search engines will more often retrieve sites with information that has been updated. Organic search results are highly sought after by physicians and businesses, since they come up higher in results, and the added traffic doesn’t cost a thing, except time.

A website should be appealing and not so busy that it detracts from patients’ ability to use the site. Navigation should be easy, and pictures should be inviting. Researching to see what other medical practices are currently doing will help newer medical sites to keep up with others.

Websites that are user-friendly will increase patient interaction. For example, virginiafacialplasticsurgery.com is a popular medical website for Shervin Naderi, MD, FACS, who specializes in cosmetic procedures like you see here.

Implementing a patient portal that is connected to a physician site will allow patients to communicate with their doctors securely, online. Just as physicians communicate with their financial services electronically, patients should be able to contact their physicians.

What about Blogs?
Physicians’ offices could once have someone on staff or a private blogger set up and run a blog for their businesses. Answering common questions is just one topic that a blog can cover. Blogs will also ensure easy search-ability on Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Not many medical offices keep staff that will be able to handle the demands of keeping a website and a blog running and up to date. These tasks can easily be outsourced to companies that specialize in these areas. Paying a little more for a website that promotes the practice is preferable to having someone in-house do an unprofessional job that will reflect poorly on the practice. User-friendly, functional websites pay for themselves over time. It is the online footprint of a medical practice.

Using medical-specific tips will help in creating memorable medical practice websites that patients will use and enjoy. They will play an active role in promoting the physicians who have sites online and keep them up to date.

Most patients are online already, many of them on mobile devices. It is especially important that medical sites are mobile-friendly, to take advantage of this growing trend. There will likely soon be many more people accessing medical websites from tablets and smartphones, so having a mobile site is very important.

5 Mistakes to Avoid As You Design Your Website

Many people think that creating a website means that they have given their clients a way to find them. What they forget is that a website or blog is a way for them to interact with their clients (past, present and future). Avoiding the mistakes below will take you far on the journey to proper interaction with your clients.

1. Forgetting the Search Box.
A website is a huge store of information, all of which is useful to your visitors (at least we hope so!). It is therefore very bad to forget to include a search box that helps people who have come to your site to find what they have come for.

Include the search box where it can easily be seen so that visitors will have a reason to dig deeper into your site because you will have given them a way to easily do so.

2. Forgetting a Call to Action.
Why did you set up the website in the first place? If there is no call to action, you will not get the results you desire because you will not have told your visitors what they should do.

If you want them to sign up for a newsletter, tell them to do so. If you want them to share your content, let them know. If you want them to buy a product, invite them to do just that.

An example of a site with clear calls to action is the site of Dr. Nachlas of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, with this page http://DrNachlas.com/Facial-Cosmetic-Surgery/minimal-downtime-facelift.cfm clearly explaining a service and then telling visitors what to do.

3. A Cluttered Homepage
Nothing puts off visitors more than getting to your homepage and it is full of images, icons, texts, and so on. The truth is that less is more so if you want visitors to get a very positive impression of your site, keep the landing pages neat and free of clutter. This one change will produce remarkable results for your website statistics.

4. Confusing Navigation
It is very bad when visitors can’t find links or various buttons on your site. They will simply leave and go elsewhere.

Check your site and ensure that everything is where it should be. Links should be easy to find and visitors should not feel like they are groping all over the place as they search for something.

5. Stale Content

Some people upload content when their site has just gone live and then stop updating the information on their site.

Avoid this mistake by ensuring that all the content you upload is relevant to the theme of your site and post regularly so that visitors have a reason to keep coming to your website.

Final Thoughts.
There are many mistakes that people make when designing their websites. Those highlighted above are just some of them. See if you are guilty on any of those counts and do the needful as soon as you can. When you correct your mistakes, the usefulness of your site will have jumped more than tenfold.

4 Misconceptions Clients Have About Web Design

Every web designer has at one point or other come across a client that touted a glaring misconception thinking it is a fact of web design. If you haven’t come across one, your time is coming!

Here are some of those misconceptions that get bandied about by clients. There are suggestions about how you can deal with a client that brings them up, so be prepared.

1. They Imagine They Own You.
There are some clients that think when they hire you to do a design job for them then you are at their beck and call 24/7 for anything they want.

Such clients will send you dozens of messages each day about “inspirations” they have had about ideas that they have come up with. They will even call you in the dead of the night on Sunday morning!

To handle this situation, let the client know that you have certain hours within which you work, and that if they communicate outside those hours then they shouldn’t expect a response from you until you get back to work. That way, you get some breathing space so that your creative juices can flow.

2. Expecting All Their Content To Go Viral.
The “viral” bug has taken website owners by storm and they are all smitten. They think it is your job to make their content tweeted, re-tweeted, shared, and the “buzz” on all social media.

Let such clients know that if that is what they want, they can hire someone who specializes in providing that sort of service so they shouldn’t put that on you.

3. Clients That “Know It All”
There are clients who will come to you demanding for animated logos, dozens of pop-ups and all sorts of things that are now obsolete in web design.

Such clients don’t know that what they are asking for has long been abandoned by savvy web users and they will be doing themselves a disservice by going backwards.

Politely explain current trends to such people and hint at letting them hire someone else to do the job if they insist on be-smudging your name by asking for archaic trends. Most will take the hint and let you do your thing.

4. Those Who Insist Space Is Bad on a Site.
There are people who take the “nature abhors a vacuum” mentality too far. They want to fill up every inch of the site with something, leaving no space for the website to “breathe.”

This is not to say there are no clients who even suggest you minimize how much content each webpage has. A clear example is the website found on the Campbell Facial Plastics Yellow Pages listing that links to this procedure you see here. It shows how less is more, but many clients are yet to catch on.

Patient explanation of the minimalist trend is needed to help such people appreciate this trend.

Wrap Up.
There are many more misconceptions that clients will throw at you. Your job is to insist on what is right, not cave in to their demands. Learn to be firm or your career will derail!

Top 3 Web Design Trends Of Summer 2014

Summer is here and the splash of color that started with the onset of spring has been stepped up a notch. Web design isn’t blind to these changes and the trends of this summer (2014) reflect this brightening of websites. The following are the web design trends that have been causing a stir this year.

Simple Design
Simplicity has never been taken to such a high level as it has this summer. Before you begin thinking that simple equals dull, it does not. It means that the best web design practices are put to maximum use so that whoever visits that site quickly gets what they want without having any troubles navigating from one page of the website to another.

It also means getting rid of any clutter that could have sneaked its way into the design of the site. An example is much better than a thousand words so take a look at the website belonging to Dr. Mounsey of Ravesse, a revision rhinoplasty specialist who uses a very sleek design that emphasizes the minimalist way of web design.

How can you get such a site? Get the right web designer and they will test each aspect to ensure that simplicity has been adhered to all the way.

Responsive Design
You can no longer tell what device your target audience will use to access your website or blog. As such, the emphasis this summer is to design websites that ensures that whether someone is using a tablet, smart phone or desktop-size screen, they will get to fully get all that there is to get. Only important features are included and the design is such that any screen will seem like it is the one for which that website was designed.

If you don’t follow this trend, you are going to be left out big time because even your ranking on Google will suffer. Do the smart thing and have a responsive site.

Let Your Website Tell A Story
What started as an isolated attempt has now firmly made its presence in the web design world. A client walks in and asks you to come up with a design such that if a new visitor gets to the site, they can scroll down a page and in 30 seconds or less they will know the story of that company or individual.

It is now no longer trendy to directly tout your horn. You simply have to tell your story and in that story it will become very clear how awesome you are, without that fact being directly stated. Try this design this summer and gauge how your visitors respond.

Summing it up…
Summer is a month of brightness and color so if you already have a website, why not add a splash of brightness to it in the spirit of the season?

If yours isn’t yet up and running, then ensure that it is designed with the summer trends given above in mind so that you move with the times rather than playing catch up.