5 Signs It's Time For a Website Redesign

Posted by Allison Boyajian on October 15, 2014. Tagged: best practices, strategy, user experience

Debating if you need a website redesign? Wishing you just had a sign that said, “it’s time”?

5 signs website redesign

Here's 5:

Sign #1: It’s not responsive.

Long gone are the days when you can afford to have a website that doesn’t look good on mobile/tablet. In fact, according to Cisco, mobile data traffic grew 69 percent in 2014 alone. If your website isn’t looking and performing flawlessly on desktop, mobile and tablet, it’s time for a redesign.

Sign #2: It’s hard to navigate.

Websites are supposed to help, not hurt. When a user comes to your website, they should be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to find what they’re looking for, and how intuitive the navigation is. Otherwise, they will simply leave disgruntled and go straight to your competitor’s easy-to-use site. If your website isn’t easy to navigate, it’s time for a redesign.

Sign #3: Your analytics show high bounce rates.

Data doesn’t lie. The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave after visiting one page. If your bounce rate is high, it could mean your site isn’t providing the information the user is looking for, is taking too long to load, or perhaps there is a larger disconnect between your site and your users. The bounce rate essentially measures how effectively your brand is resonating with visitors, so high bounce rate=low resonation=time for a design.

Sign #4: It’s slow to load.

Load time is crucial to website success. You can have the most beautiful, innovative website, but if it takes too long to load, users will exit before they can see any of it.  One study showed that if an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost $2.5 million in lost sales every year. So what contributes to slow load time? A lot. Check out our more detailed post about it. Moreover, if your website’s load time is inhibiting your success, it’s time for a website redesign.

Sign #5: You don’t show it off.

If you’re not showing off your website, you’re probably not proud of it. If you’re not proud of your website, what better time than the present to update it? Your website provides an amazing platform to showcase your expertise, uniqueness and overall flare. It should be leveraged as a tool and seen as an opportunity to differentiate from competitors. Additionally, the majority of the consumer decision-making process happens long before they visit your store or go to checkout; it’s happening on your website. So, “if your site looks like it was designed by a barrel of colorblind monkeys, your chance at making a good first impression will be lost.” (Entrepreneur article). Make the investment in your website, and make the investment in your brand.

If any of these apply to you, consider it the sign (or 5) you were looking for! It’s time for your website redesign. 

So what are you waiting for? Drop us a line at hello@imarc.net! We’re here to help.

The iMarc OmniGraffle stencil set

Posted by Marcel Moreau on October 14, 2014. Tagged: strategy, user experience

Update 08/26/2015: Version 2 now includes:

  • flatter design
  • more Fontawesome icons (social)
  • modal window
  • nav w/ chevrons
  • jagged truncator

Download the iMarc OmniGraffle stencil set on GitHub

A long overdue item. iMarc now has its own stencil set for use in OmniGraffle. What is OmniGraffle? It's a Mac-based diagramming tool often utilized in the creation of site maps and wireframes. For years, we have relied on the Konigi stencil set and it has served us very well. We have taken some elements from Konigi and created a stencil set based on our needs.

We have been using Fontawesome icons within OmniGraffle lately and they have found a home in this stencil along with larger form elements, meta data and annotation badges, tables, social media, pagination and more.

imarc's omnigraffle stencil set preview

Website Launch: Clark Nuber

Posted by Allison Boyajian on October 7, 2014. Tagged: clients

Clark Nuber is an award-winning public accounting firm located in the beautiful Puget Sound Region in Washington. We were thrilled when they chose us for its website redesign project, and are even more thrilled with the end result!

The new website features responsive design, seamless video integration and a clean, modern look-and-feel. Clark Nuber's online presence has been enhanced by showcasing its vibrant, engaging blog, social media integration and personalized employee profiles.

Take a look around at: https://clarknuber.com/ 

clark nuber

clark nuber

clark nuber

The Everyday Carry of an iMarc Engineer

Posted by Kevin Hamer on October 1, 2014. Tagged: engineering

I'm a latecomer to most of the fascination with the belongings people carry with them on a daily basis. I keep my laptop bag stuffed as much as the next person here. So here's all the things I carry with me every day (mouse over for details.)

Western Digital Passport I back up this 500 GB drive regularly, but less for data recovery and more to just have archives of old projects or code that I may want to review and use again. Tron Legacy USB Drive I try to use this when I'm transferring files around the office, or I just want to show off some Tron memorabilia. Logitech USB Audio Adapter The X1 Carbon doesn't have a mic jack, and this is the easiest way to get one if I need it. It also letsme send different audio to speakers vs my earbuds, which I've done once or twice. Logitech AnywhereMX Mouse I do carry around a mouse, although I don't use it much. I prefer the trackpoint on the laptop most ofthe time. Cherry MX Keycaps and Switches I bought a mechanical keyboard switch sample kit a while from WASD and have it with me. I neverknow when I may need to geek out over keyboards. Leatherman Leathermans are nice and they last. I've had this one for ten years or so and I don't see any kind ofmodel or such on it. Sharpie Pen Sharpie pens write well, write anywhere, and dry fast enough that I don't smudge it all over the placewhen I'm writing (being lefthanded.) Reversible Screwdriver Just a simple reversible screwdriver. When you pull out the metal piece, it flips around to become aflathead. Business Cards I got this Umbra business card holder somewhere along the way. I just keep a stash of my own cards inthere usually, but I'll swap them out for ones from clients at a meeting. Fossil Wallet Just a black, bifold wallet I got as a gift from my fiancee when we were first dating. Mini DisplayPort to DVI I have adapters I leave at home and work too, but its good to have a way I could connect up to anexternal monitor or project in a pinch. MicroUSB Cable and Charger Both the external hard drive and my phone can use this cable for data or charging. This cable andcharger are just the ones that came with the HTC. Klipsch S4 Earbuds I prefer earbuds at work so I can hear if someone is trying to get my attention. I must have tried adozen different types of earbuds before finding these. I'd recommend these and Klipsch's newerversions to anyone. HTC EVO 4G LTE This is the third generation of EVO I've owned. I really do like the dedicated camera button and yes,the kickstand. I don't see myself switching away from Android to iOS, but I may check out the Ubuntuphones when they show up in the US. Keys and Carabiner I only carry two keys besides my car key. I've been clipping my keys to a belt loop for years. I'vewrapped a velcro strap around the keys just to prevent them from jingling as I move around. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon This laptop is near perfect for me. I run linux instead of Windows and couldn't really make use of atouchscreen yet, and this size and weight seems like a great balance. Also, the ThinkPad keyboardwith the trackpoint is as good as it gets for a laptop keyboard.

How It's Made

The interactive graphic above doesn't use any JavaScript – it's an SVG with CSS. While most of the time SVGs are static, SVGs can including internal CSS rules that define CSS animations and transitions.

While putting together the graphic, it occurred to me that it'd probably be possible to build an entire website using SVG instead of HTML, but I expect that there's probably ramifications that I've forgotten.

End of Quarter Evaluation: How to Determine the Effectiveness of Your Website

Posted by Katelyn Weber on September 25, 2014. Tagged: best practices, creative, design, engineering, mobile, technology

Whether you redesigned your website this year, last year or ten years ago, it’s important to perform a website evaluation at the end of every quarter. I know it seems like a lot, but with the constant evolution of technology, trends and user-habits, it’s crucial that your website can withstand the test of change and time.

Here are a few questions that you should ask yourself when measuring your website's quarterly performance: 

Is my site responsive?

Mobile Internet usage is exploding and with Google's recent Mobile Friendly Algorithm update, it's more important than ever that your website is mobile friendly. With hundreds of available devices, it’s important to consider where your users are accessing your website from.

Pull out your phone and go to your website. Can you find content easily? Can you access specific pages? Can you register for that important event? If you can’t, it might be time to consider making your website responsive.

Can my users access content easily?

Whether you’re accessing your website on a mobile device or desktop, finding information on your website should be simple and clear. Having multiple pages, with multiple avenues to access content can be extremely confusing for users.

Consider refreshing your information architecture or how your content is structured throughout your website. This will help users access your content more easily and engage more frequently. Check out iMarc's blog post on how NOT to be late delivering your website content.

Can I update content easily?

A content management system (CMS) is the heart of your website, allowing you to manage and update content for your staff, your users and your stakeholders on a regular basis. Are you finding that it’s becoming more and more difficult to update content? Is it taking you longer than usual? Are there things on the site that you want to change but you can’t?

Increasing administrative efficiencies will not only make your life easier but your user's experience easier overall. And with content marketing on the rise, it's even more important that you're able to update users about this valuable information. 

Is my branding outdated?

With crystal clear screens and giant desktops, it’s important to consider what the look and feel of your website says about your brand. Look at your website again: does it look outdated? Are the colors not working as well as they used to? Is your logo something out of the 80’s?

A brand refresh isn’t meant to be done every year but it’s important to be aware of what your brand image is saying about you and how it looks to your users.

Is my site generating leads?

There are multiple ways to generate leads through your website. Contact forms, calls-to-action, webinars, resources, downloadable content are all great ways to entice users to engage with you and reach out. Take a look at your conversion rates quarter over quarter, year over year — is your site generating the same amount of qualified leads? 

Your site is an interactive experience and should provide users with multiple ways to interact with your business and engage with your content. Measure your marketing efforts, track your leads — use your site as a tool to figure out what's working and what isn't. If you are seeing a decrease in qualified leads, it's time to start evaluating how your site can help. 


So, how would you grade your website? Ask your colleagues to do the same; does everyone agree? Ask your customers; are they happy with their experience on your site?

Grade your website on a quarterly basis. Getting ahead of these types of problems will help your team budget time, resources and withstand the test of change.

Didn’t get an A? We’re here to help. Email us at hello@imarc.net!

Infographic: LinkedIn Best Practices

Posted by Allison Boyajian on September 23, 2014. Tagged: best practices, social media

LinkedIn connects over 200 million professionals and is one of the largest and most influential professional social networks. LinkedIn can be a fantastic vehicle to drive business results, promote thought leadership and it can even work as an HR landing page for your brand.

Studies show that there are certain times, words and types of content that work best for the LinkedIn audience. Check out our infographic and study up on LinkedIn best practices to make the most when you post!

linkedin best practices






Ditch the pixels and get your hands on something real

Posted by Paul Kelley on September 17, 2014. Tagged: creative

Ditch the pixels and get your hands on something real

If you’re a web designer like me, you’re used to creating things in the digital space. You have a list of design galleries you visit for inspiration and you frequent websites like dribbble to stay on top of the latest trends; but have you created anything lately out of physical objects with your own bare hands?

If you haven’t done it in a while it can feel quite alien. My hands are so used to working with keyboards, mice, and wacom tablets that it sometimes feels weird to pick up an exacto blade. Lately though, I’ve been making an effort to create more things with my hands. As an example, I have a lot of pins I’ve collected over the years of various Disney parks. They have been collecting dust in my closet and I always meant to do something with them. Recently I finally pulled the trigger on a way to display them at home.

Back away from the computer

Sometimes you have to step away from the computer and exercise your mind in a different way. Planning out a digital project is similar to planning out a physical one, but the subtle differences can be beneficial to developing your problem solving skills. For my pinboard project there were several factors I had to think about that just don’t exist in the digital space: Was the board thin enough for the backs of the pins to fit? Will the fabric hold up under the weight of all the pins? How do I lay out the pins so that the weight is evenly distributed. Needless to say, working with physical objects opens up new problems to solve.

Stay sharp

The more problems you solve, the better you get at problem solving. To be the sharpest you you can be you should always be solving problems across different mediums. Do crossword puzzles, work on DIY projects, get creative with your landscaping if you’re a homeowner. It all keeps your mind sharp. I, along with my creative cohorts, are always thinking about different projects we can work on and they’re not always in the digital space.

Here are some examples of how we can flex our creative muscles away from the computer.

Paul's pinboard

Using embroidery hoops, black fleece, and foam board I created this Mickey Mouse shaped board to put my Disney pins on.

Jared's woodwall

Rather than painting this wall a different color, Jared used this creative approach of using barn wood to spruce up this room.

Christian's tool rack

Christian wanted to hang his tools in a fun and creative way so he used a pallet on the side of his shed to create this display.

Get out there and make something, it's fun and refreshing.

Do Home Page Carousels Work? The 2014 Edition

Posted by Robert Mohns on September 12, 2014. Tagged: best practices, user experience

Whether you call them slideshows, rotating banners, multiple offers, or carousels, you’ve seen them. You visit a new website, see a big banner or hero graphic, and a couple of seconds later, it changes, then changes again. They’re really popular. But do they work?

Last year we took a look at the research. Findings were mixed. They’re still popular and our clients still ask for them, so let’s revisit the research.

Why are carousels popular?

Here are the top reasons that my clients ask for carousels:

  1. Fear of the Fold. What’s on the first screen? Some of my clients start out fearful that visitors won’t scroll down the screen, and their first instinct is to push as much content as possible onto the first screen. Carousels let you put lots of content on the first screen. Hooray!
  2. Multiple Audiences. The site has several audiences. They’re all important. A carousel lets you offer something for everyone. Hooray!
  3. Internal Politics. Senior stakeholders do not agree on the business priorities for the home page. A carousel is an easy compromise: it lets you feature everyone’s pet issue. Hooray!
  4. Unclear Content Priorities. Closely related to the internal politics problem, the client can’t decide what’s truly most important to their site visitors. A carousel lets everything be important! Hooray!

Ye Olde Carousel Solution:

Disney carousel

Disney's carousel does all the wrong things: It starts moving by itself, has no consistency of theme or message from slide to slide, and has vague calls-to-action. Ship it!


What does the research say?

The clearest numbers yet were provided by Erik Runyon of Notre Dame University:

  • 3.7 million visitors
  • 1.07% clicked the carousel
  • 89.1% of those clicked the first slide
  • Positions 2–5 received 3.1% to 2.4% of clicks

Runyon also measured performance on several other sites that are used by parts of the Notre Dame community:

  • Two departmental intranet sites had 1.27% and 3.0% click rates, respectively.
  • A news aggregator with auto-playing carousel got a 9.4% click rate.
  • An “executive site” had a 1.5% click rate.

Check out Runyon’s first article and the follow-up data for details.

WiderFunnel, an agency focused on conversion, has found rotating offers hurt conversion. They describe the effect on the visitor experience:

Let’s think about your visitor’s experience for a moment.

  1. She arrives on your home page and needs to orient herself to your layout in order to decide which information to zero in on. A strong, page-dominant banner with a headline and bold image is where she’s likely going to start her focus.
  2. Unfortunately, the message in that banner usually isn’t relevant to what she’s looking for. Why? The marketing department is featuring current events, offers and news that may be important to some department within the organization but not to the majority of the visitors.
  3. In the lucky event that your visitor sees an offer that looks interesting to her, she will want to read a little more about it. But, just as she’s gathered the motivation to click through and learn more… the rotator switches to the next offer.

WhatUsersDo, a user testing firm, found that few users use the banners:

“Data shows that few visitors (other than your internal teams) ever get to the end of your rotating banners on your home page. This is because there is an average of a 50 percent drop-off after each banner.”

Ecommerce consultant Dan Barker found carousels get fewer clicks than static spots:

“I’ve set up tracking for quite a few of them. On the couple of occasions where they’ve gone from ‘no carousel’ to ‘carousel’, the carousel got less clicks than the static spot that was there beforehand.”
(Emphasis mine.)

Auto-playing or auto-rotating carousels have other well-documented usability problems:

  • Motion-Triggered Reassessment: “Motion in a scene triggers the reptilian portion of our brain. This occurs at the level of automatic survival instinct and cannot be avoided. Frequent motion changes in a part of the page keep stealing the visitors’ attention and make it difficult to visually prioritize or to consume any other content on the page.” Tim Ash, CEO, SiteTuners.com, Rotating Banners, April 2012
    (Emphasis mine.)
  • Your users won’t wait: Tim Ash also noted “a 10- to 15-second slideshow is way outside what we are willing to sit still for.”
  • Looks like an advertisement: “Because it moves, users automatically assume that it might be an advertisement, which makes them more likely to ignore it.” Jakob Nielsen, Nielsen Normal Group, Auto-Forwarding Carousels and Accordions Annoy Users and Reduce Visibility, January 2013
  • Reduced accessiblity: “Moving UI elements usually reduce accessibility, particularly for users with motor skill issues who have difficulty clicking something before it’s taken away.” ibid.

Carousels or rotating banners may also hurt your Google rank. Google has found that page load speed directly affects conversion and user satisfaction. Google has used site speed as a page rank factor since 2010. However, this isn’t a slam dunk: Moz found last year page size doesn’t impact Google ranking, but server response time does. So while carousels slow down your pages, they won’t hurt your Google rank.

Should I use a carousel on my site?


Really, no. The research says static, unmoving feature with simple, concise copy and a clear call to action will out-perform a carousel, pretty much every time.

Here are some great examples of carousel-free home pages with clear, on-brand, actionable heroes:

Home Depot: No Carousel!
 Home Depot leads with brand-level imagery supporting seasonal customer activities. They expose their navigation by default, and product features follow.

REI: No Carousel!
REI's home page is a bit busier. They use a promotional hero focused on current promotions, and then follow it with several selected “sub-heros”.

LL Bean: No Carousel!
LLBean splits their hero into two promotions, follows it with a quickly-read banner, and shows the visitor there is more content below the fold. Like Home Depot and REI, the layout leads with focus and then encourages exploration.

Carousel best practices

If conversion is important, the very best practice is not to use a carousel. But maybe you can’t sell that internally, whether because of politics, ignorance, or entrenched opinions that can’t be swayed with facts. So be it.

If you must have a carousel, here’s what to do, courtesy of Brad Frost and Nielsen’s Kara Pernice.

  • Use a hero instead. Offer one really big feature, and a couple of little ones. Nothing moves, and your visitor can see everything and pick the one she wants.
  • Every slide must support your brand. Sounds like a no-brainer, but every slide must be on-brand. No random “Like us on Facebook!” slides (unless your brand is desperate for attention, in which case, full steam ahead).
  • Don’t use more than five slides. And even that’s pushing it. Remember, each one will get half the clicks of the one before:
    1. 1%
    2. 0.5%
    3. 0.25%
    4. 0.125%
    5. 0.0625%
  • Give the user control. Tell her how many slides there are, show where she is in the progression, and make sure she can navigate easily.
  • Suggest more content. Make it really, really obvious that you can go find more content off-screen or below-the-fold. (This is a general best practice, but it’s shocking how often this is forgotten with carousels.)

Now you have the research, and the best practices. Use them wisely.

Infographic: Twitter Best Practices

Posted by Allison Boyajian on September 9, 2014. Tagged: best practices, SEO, social media

Social media has quickly transitioned from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have” for businesses. In fact, 93% of marketers use it. [1] If you aren’t posting daily, relevant content on all of the current platforms, your brand runs the risk of being quickly dismissed as archaic and untrustworthy.

That being said, long gone are the days when a simple news update or an interesting article share cuts it; your social media presence must be strategic. Studies have proven certain times, words and content better perform better than others.

Our handy infographic compiles some of these powerful stats to help you succeed on one of the most popular social media platforms, Twitter.  What, when and how you tweet plays a large role in your social-success, so keep these tips on hand whenever you're ready to Tweet.

twitter bp