3 Types of Design Your Early-Stage Company Should Focus on

We’ve learned a lot at Aesthetic about how early stage companies can best leverage design to become more valuable, and we’re excited to share our learnings from working with more than 100 companies over the last 18 months. We hope this will be helpful to the entire startup community, especially founders that are just getting started on their journey who are new to design.

Design: One size does not fit all

Design is a highly diverse discipline, with dozens of different fields and specialties. Similar to software product development, the scope and scale of design teams is highly variant and meant to reflect the needs of the organization.

For early stage startups, design needs tend to follow a similar pattern, then vary based on the specific business model.

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The three most important types of design for early-stage companies

At the highest level, founders of early stage companies should focus on:

  1. Product design
  2. Web design
  3. Brand design

Here’s a breakdown of what each of these types of design means:

Product design is the user experience of your service or product. This doesn’t just include software that you build yourself, but also includes every other touchpoint you have with your customers or prospects. Product design isn’t just about creating user interfaces, but also developing wireframes, user research and user experience testing.

Web design is a company’s front door to the world. In 2020, your website is the most basic currency of reputation for every company and needs to make clear what you do and what people should care about. For most companies, a website is the first step to start getting customers.

Brand design is the “why” behind your company’s “what.” It’s how you explain who you are to people, by codifying the way you represent yourself across every surface.

As Paul Rand says, brand design is “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

This isn’t just your logo, fonts, colors, aesthetic and tone, but also the slide decks, emails, ads and one pagers that you put out into the world.

Related: 5 Essentials of User Testing to Ensure a Successful Product

What kind of design should my early-stage company focus on?

How much effort should companies apply to each of these three types of design? It of course depends, but there are some easy rules-of-thumb you can follow:

Pre-product-market fit companies should focus almost entirely on product design, with less effort on web design and brand design. This means spending as much time as you possibly can working on your product, and then bookmarking a few hours each week to make copy edits to your website. Don’t focus too much on the visuals at this stage, but rather your messaging and information architecture.

Early-market-traction companies should maintain focus on product design while beginning to ramp up web and brand design. These companies should develop more website content and begin developing their first marketing channel(s) and content roadmap(s) to activate their audience.

Strong-product-market-fit companies should focus across the board. Spend time clarifying your brand identity and take the time to review your entire user experience. Then, up the ante on production across all channels by turning brand design into a service center that can be consumed by your cross-functional teams (i.e., marketing and sales).

I don’t have a designer on my team. What should I do?

The answer depends on the current phase your company is in: 

Pre-product-market fit companies should focus on talking to customers. You should be spending most of your time talking to users to understand their problems. You can read “Don’t Make Me Think,” “Design of Everyday Things,” and “Just Enough Research,” or watch Gary Tan’s YouTube lectures as good primers on the subject if you’re interested.

Early-market-traction companies should consider hiring contractors to help with web and brand design. At this stage, it’d be hard to justify staffing for product design unless the founding team still maintained all user research, and just needed support with UI/UX. It might also make sense to staff web design if you have proof it’s a really useful channel.

Strong-product-market-fit companies should start hiring staff designers. Think of the trade-offs for hiring full-time versus working with outside support. Think of how you’d invest into these three areas of design, and what the top goals would be from anyone you worked with to get help. Then, start staffing by hiring full-time design, freelancers, and/or working with an agency.

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How do I get started?

If you’re new to design, here are a few concrete actions and tools we recommend:

  • User research: The Aesthetic team recommends scheduling two to three user research interviews each week, ideally at the end of the week so you can also do usability testing on new features from the week.
  • Take notes and record sessions: Make sure to take notes and record any user research interview sessions. Do an affinity mapping exercise to formalize your learnings. We recommend Fullstory for recording app and website user sessions.
  • Design your website: We love Webflow for this phase.
  • Iterate on your brand design: Aesthetic uses Figma for all of our marketing template designs, and the Adobe suite for developing our (vector based) brand identities. Depending on the specific tech stack, there’s a wide variety of solutions for helping deploy design systems to enable reusability and consistency across your product teams. Figma’s collaboration and animation support is second to none.

At this point, you should have a better understanding of the three major types of design your early-stage startup should focus on.

The post 3 Types of Design Your Early-Stage Company Should Focus on appeared first on StartupNation.


7 Tools That Make Mobile-Friendly Web Design Easy 

The post 7 Tools That Make Mobile-Friendly Web Design Easy  appeared first on HostGator Blog.

As of 2019, mobile website traffic (not including tablet traffic) generated over 52% of all global internet traffic. To capture and keep the attention of the growing number of mobile searchers, you need to invest in mobile-friendly site design.

While it’s true that mobile-friendly website design helps you provide excellent user experience, it also presents a slew of other benefits. A mobile-friendly website also translates to:

  • Better Google search rankings
  • Boosted mobile conversion rates
  • Faster load speeds
  • Cohesive user experience across devices
  • Increased average visitor time on site
  • Competitive edge over non-mobile sites in your niche
  • More social media shares
  • And more!

Now that you’re convinced of the power of a mobile-friendly website, let’s talk about seven of the top tools that will make your website more mobile-friendly.

1. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

If you don’t know whether or not your website is mobile-friendly, don’t despair. A lot of people are in the same boat. That’s why Google offers a free mobile-friendliness testing tool.

To check your site, click on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test URL, input your website info, and click “test URL.”

google mobile-friendly website test

Once you’ve submitted your website URL, Google will analyze it for mobile-friendliness.

Google will quickly return a report to you. The report is easy to read and provides additional resources to help you learn more about mobile-friendly websites.

google mobile friendly website test results

In the event your test indicates that your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you know it’s time for a website overhaul.

2. Gator Website Builder

If you’re not interested in building your own website, consider Gator Website Builder. HostGator has over 200 templates that are already mobile-responsive, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not your website will pass Google’s mobile-friendliness test. It will.

With the Gator Website Builder, you can pick a template with the perfect design for your website. Then, all you have to do is customize the design with the drag and drop builder to create a gorgeous and fully responsive site.

gator website builder design templates

3. WordPress Themes

WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, powering over one-third of all websites on the internet.

When you set up a WordPress website, you don’t have to do any website coding yourself (although, you can). WordPress offers a wide range of free and paid themes. 

WordPress themes are getting more beautiful and easier to customize every day. Additionally, like HostGator’s templates, nearly all WordPress website templates are mobile-friendly.

When browsing through the templates, WordPress will allow you to install various free templates and conduct a live preview. 

wordpress twenty fifteen mobile-friendly theme description

When you press “live preview,” WordPress will show you exactly what your website would look like dressed up in that particular theme.

To double-check for mobile responsiveness, read the theme description. The description will usually tell you the WordPress team designed it using a “mobile-first approach.” This means it’s mobile-friendly.

3. FitVids

Video content goes a long way when it comes to increasing time spent on your site, boosting conversion rates, and increasing customer engagement levels. But, this only applies if your video actually fits on your visitors’ mobile screens. 

FitVids is an easy-to-use JQuery plugin that makes all your video embeds mobile-responsive. In other words, this tool ensures that when a mobile viewer visits your website, the video’s aspect ratio will automatically adapt to the screen size of the viewer, no matter what mobile device someone is using. 

4. Adaptive Images

Images are another powerful mobile-design tool you can use to capture the eye of your visitors. If you’re a novice website builder with no previous design experience, it can be difficult to size your images correctly. 

Enter Adaptive Images.

Adaptive Images is a tool that detects your visitor’s screen size and does the hard resizing work for you. The tool will automatically create, cache, and deliver the re-scaled versions of your HTML images to match the viewer’s device size. Additionally, Adaptive Images speeds up the load time of images, decreasing UI lag.

The tool will work on your existing site, and all you have to do to set the tool up is add .htaccess and adaptive-images.php to your document-root folder. Then, add one line of JavaScript into the <head> of your site. Finally, add your CSS Media Query values into $ resolutions in the PHP file.

5. FitText

When it comes to website copywriting and design trends, there are a few widely-accepted and standard rules. These rules include:

  • Headlines and company names will appear first and be the largest.
  • Subheadlines and slogans will appear second and be slightly smaller.
  • Paragraph text will appear under the subheadlines and will be standard paragraph size.

FitText is a tool that makes large text font-sizes flexible. In other words, you can design your headlines and subheadlines to appear larger than paragraph text but still count on a fluid and responsive layout.

Here is an example of how your headlines would scale appropriately across different devices when using FitText.

fittext tool automatically scales headlines for mobile-friendly website design

6. Resizer

Once you’ve used tools like FitVids, Adaptive Images, and FitText, how do you test whether or not everything is working correctly and looks good? It’s true you could pull out a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, and your mobile phone, and test on each device, but that’s not exactly practical or efficient.

Instead, check out Resizer by Material Design. Resizer is a free mobile-friendly design tool that will show you how your website looks across various devices. The tool fleshes out the screens quickly and displays your website on the main screen sizes next to each other. Here’s what it looks like.

resizer mobile-friendly web design tool

If you want to take a deeper look into how your website will look on devices of different sizes, you can click on either the desktop or the mobile icon on the top right side of the screen.

Then, look at the bar on the top of the screen. You’ll see an adjustable slide that allows you to view how your website looks on different sized tablet, mobile, and desktop screens in horizontal and landscape views.

resizer shows how website appears on different devices

This functionality is a quick way to ensure all your design elements look good across all devices, be they mobile or desktop.

7. Bootstrap

Do you have experience designing websites and want to put your own creativity into the process? If so, you can look into a tool like Bootstrap.

Bootstrap is one of the most popular front-end open toolkits for designing mobile-first websites. Bootstrap features SaaS variables and mixins, includes a responsive grid system, and provides extensive prebuilt components to help you create your website quickly.

Quickly Build a Mobile-Responsive Website with HostGator

There are several responsive design tools on the market that will help you with DIY mobile-friendly website building. However, if you’re new to building websites, you’ll want to do everything to ensure your website’s design is outstanding and mobile-responsive.

For novices, it makes sense to purchase an affordable hosting package from HostGator, and then select a free, customizable Gator Website Builder theme or a WordPress theme.

Both HostGator and WordPress themes are easy to customize, mobile-responsive, and robust in their functionality. To get started with HostGator, check out Gator Website Builder now.

Find the post on the HostGator Blog

Web Hosting Tips – HostGator Blog

Where can I find resources on how to design a CRM/mailing system that I want a developer to build out?

Does anyone have a good resource on a step by step of how write up what I want to give to developers to get a quote on a build out? I found that if you have mobile idea to write each page on a separate index card in designing it. Would the same hold true for something like this?

I want to build a niche crm system to market in my current industry. I have a strong marketing background and my development experience is building and maintaining sites on WordPress so this sort of project is really out of my expertise.

I looked through the search function and didn’t find any answers. If there is a different sub that might be able to help I’d appreciate it.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Digital design platform Ceros raises $100M

Ceros is taking a big step up in fundraising today, with the announcement that it has raised a $ 100 million investment led by Sumeru Equity Partners.

Ceros provides a platform for clients like NBC, United Airlines, Snap, McKinsey, IBM, Condé Nast, JP Morgan, Red Bull and Pinterest to create what it calls “digital experiences” — basically, beautiful graphics and websites — without having to write any code. (You can see some of the best examples in the Ceros Inspire gallery.) It previously raised $ 33.5 million in total funding, according to Crunchbase.

SEP, meanwhile, is a technology-focused growth fund that’s backed companies like GoGuardian, Social Chorus and Talend.

Ceros CEO Simon Berg recalled that the firm’s partners have actually been “courting” him for the past two years. Those conversations started to get more serious, until the COVID-19 pandemic put them on pause.

Berg said he that as the country went into lockdown, he put a plan into place that ensured no one at Ceros lost their job — if cuts were needed, they would come in the form of across-the-board salary cuts. And he was impressed by the way the SEP team reacted.

“They were not screaming, ‘You should be cutting staff,’ none of the things I would expect,” he said. “They were cheering from the sidelines, which made me like them even more.”

And after the initial panic, Berg said he became “hyper-focused and energetic,” powered by his belief that “adversity and constraint is the birth of creative thought.” Apparently that optimism was borne out by increased activity on the Ceros platform, including the return of old customers.

“It’s been our opportunity and our mission to tell the world that digital experiences are as important as your physical experiences,” he said. So during a pandemic, “If your digital presence is your only presence, you’d better make sure [it’s] good.”

For his part, SEP’s Sanjeet Mitra said he was initially attracted to the company because it created “an enterprise-grade, easy-to-use, sophisticated tool that designers respect because it allows them to create fantastic content.”

In addition to SEP, Ceros’ existing investors also participated in the new round.

Moving forward, Berg said we can expect the creation of more products like the recently-launched design collaboration tool MarkUp, particularly as brands need to “craft experiences more rapidly, and you can’t do that if you’re sending PSD files across the internet via email.”

Mitra said the company also plans to use the new money to make acquisitions. (He emphasized that it won’t just be an indiscriminate roll-up strategy — an idea that prompted Berg to gag loudly — but rather will focus on products that Ceros customers actually want.) It will also fund continued international growth.

“Simon has the capabilities to be a global company leader and definitely a public company leader one day, if he wants to,” Mitra said.

Startups – TechCrunch

London-based TOffeeAM secures €1.1 million to expand with its design software for 3D printing

TOffeeAM, an Imperial College spin-out that optimises product designs for 3D printing has raised €1.1 million in seed funding. The funding round has been led by IQ Capital, alongside the Royal Academy of Engineering and Imperial College London’s Techcelerate program. The fresh capital will be used to hire engineers and additional staff, to expand upon the existing engineering capabilities of TOffeeAM and accelerate the growth of the company’s customer base, which already includes GE Aviation, Baker Hughes and a Formula 1 motor racing team.

Founded in 2019, TOffeeAM’s IP is based on four years of research at the Imperial College. The startup now licenses its software, TOffee, to businesses using 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing (AM). TOffee creates crucial structures within smart industrial production, such as coolant systems for gas turbines exceeding the performance of current heat exchangers.

The software is also quite useful for the aeronautics and automotive industries, where part design still relies on limited human intuition. The TOffee optimisation technology not only optimises the 3D printed parts, but also entire systems, by reducing the overall number of component parts and increasing the resilience of systems as a whole.

CEO and founder of TOffeeAM, Francesco Montomoli stated: “We are delighted to receive this funding from our investor partners – it’s a fantastic indication of their faith in the commercial applications of our technology. This funding will give TOffeeAM the opportunity to continue our success at speeding up 3D printing across all industries by up to 20 times faster and to expand our team with expert engineers and other team members, and continue to scale the solution to serve our rapidly expanding customer base. We are at the beginning of an exciting journey, and this funding will help drive our growth and the wider use of this transformative technology across a variety of industries.”

Ed Stacey, Managing Partner of IQ Capital commented: “This funding will allow the team to further commercialise their technology with additional staff, particularly the engineers which will drive forward the innovation at the heart of this company. With the intelligent software the team has developed and the strong deep tech expertise of the team, the sky is the limit in terms of TOffeeAM’s capabilities, and I’m looking forward to seeing the role they can play in the field of smart industrial production.”


Using the same page design with different text to improve SEO

We are a new startup and are currently developing our pretotype website. It's a one page website: there's an explainer video, a few bullet points with keywords and a sign up button.

My question is: can we duplicate the same page with different text or is that a no go in the SEO world. We would target one or two keywords per page and have 3 to 4 pages with different keywords. It would be something like www."""""".com/1 www.""""".com/2 etc. The pages will look exactly the same but just have the text written differently.

Appreciate your help with this.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Website design and online stores

I need a website for my brand and team. I run an esports team that continues to grow in sponsorships. I currently have paid sponsorships from 3 legitimate businesses which is great! Our success and partnerships have garnered support and interest from professional teams in our sport which is great and at this point I just need a website.

I really want to grow a brand around our team. I have a business model in mind and hoping to have a store (no I am not talking about selling T-shirts lol) and I legit need help.

If you are in web design let me know and if you have any words of wisdom for me please let me know. I love criticism and I want people to make me think this out. I tend to drive into things like a horse with blinds on

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

How did you design a home page for your saas or web app?

Hello all,

I'm in the planning/MVP building process of my web app for hospitals. I'm stuck on thinking about how to construct the home page. I'm hoping to make it inviting so customers are more likely to request a demo. I don't want to start from scratch trying to figure out what will convert and what will not.

I have looked at competitors' websites and they are too busy because competitors have too many futures. My innovation in this product comes from specialization so I can not do what my competitors are doing.

What should I consider when designing the home page? What are good practices?

Thank you!

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

How to Design a Website Without Knowing How to Code

As a small business owner, the importance of owning a website cannot be overstated. When you’re just starting out, however, you may not have the funds to hire a web designer. So the task falls to you or your team instead.

The good news is that you can build a website yourself without getting bogged down with any technical details. Using WP Website Builder, DreamHost’s suite of premium tools and plugins, you can quickly set up a professional, easily-customizable website — no coding knowledge required!

In this post, we’ll walk you through setting up a basic hosting plan with WordPress and WP Website Builder pre-installed, which you can use to create a responsive website from scratch. Let’s get to work!

We’ve Got the Ultimate Web Design Tool

When you partner with DreamHost, you get access to WP Website Builder and more than 200+ industry-specific starter sites for free!

An Introduction to WP Website Builder

The landing page for WP Website Builder.

It can be challenging to design a unique, fully-functional website from scratch. Going the traditional route requires you to learn, at the very least, web design languages like HTML and CSS. You also need to consider responsiveness across different devices, cross-browser compatibility, and accessibility for different types of users.

Enter WP Website Builder!

Built by our friends at BoldGrid, WP Website Builder is a drag-and-drop tool for creating websites with minimal effort. You’ll get access to a huge selection of professional website templates, making it simple to create a unique-looking site and publish your content quickly. And while you don’t need any coding skills to use WP Website Builder, you’ll be able to scale up your site’s functionality over time because it’s built with WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system (CMS).

Best of all, as a DreamHost user, you get access to WP Website Builder for free! All you need is one of our Shared or DreamPress plans.

How to Design a Website Without Knowing How to Code (In 6 Steps)

So how can you get started with your new site? The following six steps will take you from purchasing a hosting plan all the way through building a website.

Step 1: Create a DreamHost account

Shared hosting plans come cheap and are perfect for getting your small business off the ground. You get a user-friendly interface with a no-stress one-click installer and the flexibility to build any kind of website: whether that’s an e-commerce store, a business website, or a blog.

For new website owners, we’d suggest starting out with either a Shared Starter or Shared Unlimited plan. On the checkout page, tick the checkboxes shown below, either under the Additional Options section or in the right-hand menu, to pre-install WordPress and include WP Website Builder.

The checkout page for the DreamHost Shared Unlimited plan.

If you already have an account, you can access your DreamHost control panel to add WP Website Builder to an existing WordPress installation instead.

Step 2: Access Your Website and Choose a Theme

At this point, you’ll want to log in to your new WordPress website. You’ll be presented with the BoldGrid Inspirations wizard, which will walk you through much of the setup process. Click on the Let’s Get Started button to begin.

The WP Website Builder BoldGrid Inspirations wizard.

Next, you’ll want to choose a theme for your website. This will provide a starting point and help to determine your content’s appearance and layout.

The Inspiration wizard theme selection screen.

Hover over any theme to see it more closely, and click on the Select button to apply it to your site. We’ll go ahead and select the Cobalt theme. Keep in mind that you can always change your theme later, and you’ll also be able to customize many of its elements and styles.

Step 3: Choose Your Content Structure

Once you’ve selected a theme, the next thing to do is choose a content structure. Click on the Change Content button to begin.

The Inspiration wizard Content screen.

You’re given three Pageset options: Base, Five Page, and Kitchen Sink. You can also choose whether or not your website will have a blog.

Adding a blog to your site.

The Content screen also lets you see how responsive your website will be across different screen sizes. That way, you’ll know what it will look like for both desktop and mobile users.

Step 4: Enter Essential Site Information

This next screen lets you fill in information that will be used to populate key aspects of your website, such as your contact information and social media account details. You can also leave this screen as-is and edit these details later.

The Inspiration wizard Essentials screen.

Once you’re done here, select the Finish and Install button to complete the installation.

Step 5: Design Your Pages and Posts With the Drag-and-Drop Builder

After the installation is complete, you’ll be presented with your WordPress dashboard. The next step is to begin customizing your website by adding new pages and posts (if your site includes a blog).

The WordPress dashboard.

We’ll start by adding a new page called Documentation and include some content on the page using blocks.

The Add New Page screen.

The next screen is divided into two sections. The right-hand side of the page gives you a selection of blocks, and the left shows you a preview of what your page will look like once it’s live.

Hover over an appropriate block and click the + Add to Page button.

The Add New Page screen.

Here’s what our page looks like once a few blocks have been added.

A new page with multiple content blocks.

Once you’re satisfied with a block, select the checkmark icon to accept it. 

Step 6: Customize Your Blocks and Publish Your Content

After adding a block, you’ll be taken back to the main editing screen. This is where you can edit the blocks you added or include entirely new content.

The Add New Page screen.

When you’re done editing, preview your page to make sure you’re satisfied with the look, and then select the Publish button to make it live.

Publishing a new page.

If you chose to include a blog on your website earlier, you can create posts just as easily now. Click on the Add New link that appears when you hover over the Post menu.

Creating a new post.

You can then create your post exactly the same way your page was designed. Clicking the + button will open a menu with different types of block options. Once you’ve created your post, preview and publish it, or save it as a draft to continue editing it later.

Website Design Made Simple

Whether you want to install a WordPress theme, choose a website template, or hire a web developer, we can help! Subscribe to our monthly digest so you never miss an article.

You Can Be a Website Designer

Building your business website from scratch should be quick and easy. Fortunately, the intuitive drag-and-drop interface of WP Website Builder and its dozens of professional WordPress themes make it a practical choice for new website owners.

Ready to build your own website? Get started and have your WordPress site up and running in no time by signing up for one of our shared hosting plans and WP Website Builder!

The post How to Design a Website Without Knowing How to Code appeared first on Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge.

Website Guides, Tips and Knowledge