Archive for the ‘Web Design’ Category

Wow Modular

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Renowned architect William E. Poole and Venue Communications launched a site focusing on his modular home designs today.  The site features several image sliders, a database of home plans, pricing forms and ecommerce.  The design is modeled from his main website, William Poole Designs.

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Native Landscapes

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Native Landscapes NC

Impulse Web Solutions has just completed the design for Native Landscapes, a Wilmington, NC-based landscaping company.  The website features a sliding filmstrip of images on the homepage and a JQuery shadowbox photo gallery to showcase the company’s work.

The design was a collaboration between the client and our lead designer and went through many design mockups to come up with this simple yet elegant design.  An emphasis was put on making sure the site looks good and functions perfectly on iPhones and other mobile devices.

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8th Wonder Redesigned

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

8th Wonder Spice

I’ve been terribly remiss in not announcing Venuecom’s completion of the redesign of 8thWonderSpice.com, which is, in my opinion, one of the nicest sites we’ve built recently.  (And, also in my opinion, that’s saying something.)  I’ll chalk it up to Christmastime busy-ness, and I don’t mean shopping.  We’ve been crazy busy lately.

At any rate, 8th Wonder started off as a very simple website several years ago.  The owner just wanted an online presence, not much more than a holding page, so he got a website with his logo at the top, a patterned background and a few pages.  I meant to save a copy of it so I could do another before-and-after video, but I didn’t manage to grab it in time.

Anyway, 8th Wonder was ready to start making a big push and needed a more professional design and the ability to sell their product online.  We wanted to build on the branding established in the company’s name and the beautiful (seriously, very nice) tins the spice comes packaged in to create an old world feel for the website.

Aside from the upgraded design, the 8th Wonder Spice website features a growing list of recipes with which to use the spice and an also-growing list of retailers where you can purchase the product.  If you’re unable to buy find a local retailer, you also have the option of buying the spice or refills (because seriously, the tins are nice and you won’t want to throw them away) online.

Check out the site and feel free to leave some feedback in our comments section.

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Redesigned Fuzzy Peach Frozen Yogurt Website

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

The new design for The Fuzzy Peach, Wilmington, North Carolina’s premiere frozen yogurt bar, went live last night.  The new resembles the eatery itself with clean, open spaces.  The first thing you’ll notice on the homepage is a auto-scrolling 3D slideshow that lets you pause on one image or go back or forward to the next image, all shot by noted photographer Millie Holloman.

Social networking is prominent on the new design with prominent Facebook and Twitter icons at the top of each page as well as a Facebook plugin beneath the fold on the homepage.

You’ll notice as you go from one page to the next that the pages slide in transition instead of loading separately (with the exception of the store link, which goes off-site).  The location page sports an embedded interactive Google map.

We’re proud to have created the new Fuzzy Peach website.  The local yogurt bar that has been the talk of Wilmington now has a website to match its hype.

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2010-2011

Friday, November 12th, 2010

It’s hard to believe the end of the year is almost here.

Okay, so I just spent a good bit of time (much more than I should have) hand-crafting a flipping calendar graphic for a newsletter and I just wanted an excuse to show it off.

2010-2011 flipping calendar

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Worthy of the Buzz

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Babies at The Fuzzy Peach by Zach Dotsey

If you were in Wilmington, NC for the summer of 2010, you probably heard about The Fuzzy Peach, the most talked-about new eatery in town.

The Fuzzy Peach was the brainchild of three recent UNCW grads.  It’s a simple concept- you get a bowl, fill it up with whatever kind of frozen yogurt you want, load it up with all the crazy toppings your heart desires and pay for it based on how much it weighs.  We’ve been a couple times and really enjoyed it.  My one-year-old girl (seen here sharing some froyo with a friend) particularly loves it.

The first time we went the wife and I were planning on taking some friends of ours from out of town, and before they arrived I wanted to see what the store hours were so I took a minute to look up their website.  I was surprised by what I saw.  Here was the most talked about new place to go in town, and the site appeared to be thrown together with a .Mac account (seen above).  That’s all well and good, but a place with buzz like that needed a buzz-worthy website, so I decided to suggest that to them in an email.  I’m not usually one to make cold calls, but I figured there was nothing to lose.

A couple weeks went by and I didn’t really think anything of it, but one day I finally got a response.  They were interested in talking to us about a redesign, so I had Travis give them a call and, long story short, they had a few meetings and today they gave us a deposit.  I’m pleased to announce that Impulse and Venuecom are going to be updating The Fuzzy Peach’s website to give them a site worthy of their buzz!

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Causes and Solutions for Slow Websites

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Does it take forever to load pages on your site?  Does it feel so much like you’re on dial-up that you can almost hear the modem noise?  In case you forgot (or you’re too young to remember), here it is:

There are a number of reasons your website could be running slow, even if you’re on a high-speed internet connection.

Slow Server

This is something you’ll have to discuss with your hosting company.  There are a lot of different reasons that a server can be slow, but there’s not much you can do about it if you’re not a server admin.  In the interest of brevity, I’ll just say that if the server is the issue and your hosting company can’t do anything about it, it might be time to search for a new website hosting company.

Large Files

In particular, I’m talking about images.  I’ve probably seen hundreds of websites where someone uploads a full-size digital image and then uses the image properties to shrink it down.  Sure, the image only takes up 300 x 200 pixels on the screen, but it’s actually a 3000 x 2000 pixel image scrunched down to that size.  Unless you change the size of the before you upload it, it’s still, in reality, a really big picture, and a big, full-quality picture is always going to take a lot longer to load than one that has been optimized for the web.  And when you try to create your own photo gallery of images that haven’t been optimized for the web, you’ll definitely feel like you’re back in the dial-up age.  Besides, a scrunched-up image looks terrible compared to one that has been properly optimized.

There are a few of options you can use for resizing a picture prior to uploading it.  There are lots of programs out there, such as Photoshop, GIMP and even MS Paint that easily take care of resizing picture.  There are lots of websites out there too.  Just do a search for image resizing and you’ll find plenty of them.

Another option is to see if your web designer can install a program that will resize the images for you automatically when you upload them.  For example, if you use our ecommerce solutions and upload a category or product image, we can set the parameters of the uploader to set the image to a specified height and/or width.

While I’ve mainly focused on images here, you could have the same issue with any sort of media such as Flash, music or videos.  Remember that the web, as nice as some things look on it, is geared (at least for now) towards low resolution.  For example, a client of ours recently sent me an audio file of a radio commercial she wanted to play on her homepage.  I noticed the large file size, re-sampled it to a lower quality and cut down the file size by about 75%.  And you know what?  It still sounded fine on her website.

Just remember that in order for your page to load fast, you’re going to want to make all your files as small as possible while still maintaining an acceptable quality.

Coding

This ties into my last point, to a degree:  The smaller the size of the files on your page, the faster it will load.  By that same token, the smaller your page’s file size, the faster it will load.  You’ll most likely have to talk to your web designer about this, but optimizing your code includes such things as converting the site to CSS, linking to external files (such as one consolidated CSS file and one consolidated javascript file) instead of coding them directly in the page and reducing unnecessary white space in your code.

Of the three suggestions I gave, the one that will usually make the biggest difference is converting a site to CSS.  Now, I don’t want to get into a CSS vs. tables debate, but the fact of the matter is that a site using pure CSS is going to have a lot less code than a site using tables, so it’s going to be faster.

The problem that a webmaster will sometimes run into in telling a client that they need to optimize their code is that a client won’t see a difference in the site, so some website owners are hesitant to shell out the dough necessary for a website coder to spend hours on updating their site’s guts.  Cleaning code isn’t sexy, but it can be extremely effective in speeding up a website.

Making sure your site loads quickly will not only make your website visitors happy, but it will make Google happy as well.  Search engines put a premium on sites that are quick to load, so it can also push your website up in search engine rankings.

If you have any questions about how to go about doing some of the things I mentioned above, feel free to leave a comment below, contact us or send us a Tweet.

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Does My Business Need a Website?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Yes.

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Things to Consider Before Building a Website

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

I saw someone on Twitter ask if anyone had a good checklist for building a website.  I wondered if they were talking about a checklist to look at before a designer gets involved, or if this include looking for a designer.

If the list were to include looking a designer, I’d have to write it to be shamelessly self-promoting.  (Do they build the site in a CMS at no extra charge?  Do they offer any free updates?  Do they give you a free search engine ranking report?)  In light of that, let’s assume you’ve decided you want to build a website, but are not at the point of hiring a designer yet.  A lot of people skip the part in-between, but the more fleshed-out your site is before you talk to a designer, the easier that talk will go and the faster the designer will be able to come up with a quote for you.  Having a clear vision for your website will also keep you from adding to the project as you go, sparing the designer a headache and saving you some money.

So, here’s a checklist for building your website.  Maybe it’s not a checklist, per se, but this could serve as a guideline for things you should know about your website before you seek out a designer.

What is the goal or purpose of my website?

Are you selling something?  Are you trying to generate leads?  Are you giving information?  What do you need to do to draw attention to that purpose?  Knowing the answer to these questions will help you strategize the layout, graphics and typography of your website with your web designer.

Who is the intended audience?

If the purpose of your website is to sell Medicare supplements, you’ll want to capture the attention of people around the age of 65 and above.  You’ll want the writing to be easy to read, maybe a little larger than usual.  You probably wouldn’t want the design to be too slick and techie.  On the other hand, if your website is geared towards gamers, you probably want more images and slick graphics.  Keep your audience in mind when planning your website.

What should my website look like?

This is a pretty big one.  A decent web designer can make a site look like anything.  Some people are fine giving a designer complete freedom to design a website however they want, but hopefully you have some idea as to how your site should look.  It will save your designer time, even if you look at other websites and pull elements you like from them, if you’re able to give at least a few guidelines.  If you already have a logo, business cards or some kind of branding, make sure to incorporate that.

Do I need my website to be found?

You’d think the obvious answer would be the affirmative, but not every site needs to be ranked #1 in search engines to be useful.  I refer to these sites as business card websites.  Some people just need a portfolio, resume or supplemental information to be available when they point people to the site.  Most sites, though, do need to be found.  If you offer a service or sell goods, you need to make sure to set aside a good budget for search engine optimization and/or pay-per-click ads, and you need to plan your website accordingly.

Does my website require any special features?

Would it be useful to my visitors to allow them to create an account for my website?  If you have a movie theater website, it would be useful to have a database to add movies and their showtimes.  For a real estate agent, it would be great to be able to have a database for real estate listings on your website so you won’t have to manually create new pages and links for every listing.  If you need a special feature on your website, think it through in as much detail as you can.  Simply telling your web designer that you need a client login doesn’t really tell them anything.  What information is required to create an account?  How do they retrieve a lost password?  What happens when they log in?  Think through what you need and how it should work.

The point in all this is that the more fully realized your website is before you even contact a web designer, the easier the entire process will be.  You don’t need to write out an entire RFP (although we do love those), but you should know something about your creation.  Many people dream about having a great website, so get it started on the right foot by laying the groundwork for success.

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APlacetoBead.com Redesign

Friday, July 30th, 2010

A Place to Bead | Wilmington, NC Bead Store

Venuecom and Impulse Web Designs are pleased to announce the launch of the redesigned aplacetobead.com.  The new website sports the following features:

  • A fresh, more fun new design
  • A content management system to allow the client to make changes and upload images to the pages of the site
  • E-commerce to allow the client to sell jewelry and jewelry supplies online
  • Newsletter signup and management
  • A WordPress blog implementing the site’s design (coming soon)
  • 100% W3C-compliant code

After completing the working demo site, we spent a couple hours with A Place to Bead’s owner, Sabrina Baggett, along with the store manager to show them how to use all the site’s new features.

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