Category Archives: Website Design

Websites for Start-up Businesses

At OMdeSIGN we produce a host of state of the art, beautifully designed websites for start-up businesses and local companies.

We don’t make any distinction between working on projects such as these and on branding or development which is designed to operate on a global basis. The time we take to get a handle on exactly who the client is, what they do and how they want to be presented to the world, allied to our commitment and attention to detail, often results in a project which take the form of an interactive experience linking the owners of the business, OMdeSIGN and the all-important end user.

If you’re starting, or are planning to start, your own business, then you’ll naturally be an expert in the service or product which you’re seeking to provide, and will be keenly impatient to get that message out to the wider world via your own website. The days when an online presence could be regarded as either a luxury option or a virtual adjunct to the wider business are long gone.

Put simply, if you don’t exist online – and by ‘exist’ we mean boast a website which is effective, accessible and easy to find – then, to all intents and purposes you hardly exist as a business.

With a few extremely niche exceptions, virtually all businesses will attract new custom, build their client base and expand into new territories via their online presence. Your competitors, whether large or small, will all have websites, and so your aim is to create – or have created for you – a site which can better those of your rivals in terms of form and function. The ‘democratisation’ of the web is such that even the smallest business can compete with huge multi-nationals, using flexibility, innovation and attention to detail to differentiate themselves. The key lies in finding an agency that can meet that brief, and OMdeSIGN is just such an agency.

We’ve created a huge number of start-up websites over the years, and amongst the sectors which we’ve worked in recently are the following:

How much does a website cost?

The only honest answer to that question is that it’s not really possible to say, any more than it is to answer the question ‘How long is a piece of string?’ Every site we create is bespoke, tailor made and individually crafted to answer the needs of your business and your end users; the customers and prospective customers you need to impress. For that reason, the price of each website will vary, because each website will be an individual, unique project. The promise we do make is that our pricing structure will be transparent and easily understood from beginning to end. If our portfolio appeals to you and you’d like a website of the same quality, then contact us with a few details and we’ll happily provide a quotation. And you know what? There’s every chance it might actually be cheaper than you imagine.

Are You Ready For Google Mobile Friendly Update?

There used to be a saying which ran something along the lines of ‘When America sneezes, the whole world catches a cold’, an aphorism designed to capture the overwhelming global financial clout of the USA. As the 21st century advances, it may well be that those with a keen eye on the general good health of the world are more inclined to watch out for China developing the sniffles, but the principle remains the same. When a big player does something different, it’s smart to pay particularly close attention, and in the fields of web design, internet searching and e-commerce, they simply don’t come any bigger than Google.

The change in question is an alteration which Google has made to its’ search algorithm. The search algorithm is the almost sacred, semi-mystical formula which Google uses to come up with its all-important page rankings – the brutally simple metric via which so many websites live or die. Along with every other web developer we make it our business to try and second guess the algorithms utilised by Google, and thus to create sites which work with them. In the past, many of the changes to the Google algorithm have been fairly subtle, concentrating search results, for example, on high quality content rather than simply picking up on keywords, but the latest change heralds a major rethink of the way in which all sites have to be designed.

From here on in, the algorithms used by google will examine a site in even more detail and give priority to those which are optimised for access via mobile use. This means that the design and development of a site are now every bit as important to its Google rankings as ‘traditional’ factors such as content and search engine optimisation.

While some developers may have been taken by surprise when this change was announced, we weren’t amongst them, since seasoned Google watchers will have been aware that they’ve gradually been shifting in this direction for some time. Recent guidelines, for example, have included tips on the most responsive approach to design, as well as advice on optimal page loading time, a factor which is vital when visitors to the site are using mobile devices. To put it simply, the direction of travel was clear.

The difference this makes is that a responsive website – one which works equally well and looks as good no matter what kind of device it is accessed from – is now a necessity rather than an added luxury. The new emphasis on the ever growing phenomenon of mobile searching will impact upon the Google ranking of a website in every language and all around the world.
In the words of Google, those people who access the web via a mobile device such as a tablet or smart phone should be able to “get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

Buzzwords and terms such as ‘mobile friendly’ and ‘mobile optimised’ tend to be used far too easily by people steeped in the technology of development without the time being taken to stop and explain precisely what they entail. We like to make sure that our clients are completely on top of what we’re doing for them every step of the way, so we make it our business to explain exactly what we’re talking about and aiming for.

‘Mobile friendliness’ refers to the ability of a traditional desktop site to adapt to devices of all shapes and sizes. This means that the design, the content and the navigation will work just as well on smaller screens, providing a flawless and accessible experience for visitors whether they’re at their desk or on the move.

We think that the appearance of our sites, no matter what the shape, size and device, speaks for itself. If your website isn’t optimised for mobile then you’ll be losing out in terms of visitors, enquiries and, most important of all, revenue streams.

What to do now?

So we urge anyone considering a new website: it’s got to be responsive. A website without a mobile version is just not worth having. And we’re of course ready to help you.
Conveniently, we have a few examples of sites we’ve designed recently which adapt to devices of all shapes and sizes:

CASE STUDY 1:

Gander and White Shipping – shipping and installation company, providing services to Art Dealers, Private Collections and Museums around the World.
Fully device responsive content managed website.

portfolio-gander-white-mobile

Read more about this project

CASE STUDY 2:

Grant Macdonald – an internationally renowned Silversmith with a tradition of handmade quality, design and innovation..
Fully device responsive content managed website featuring full width slideshows on the homepage and gallery pages.

portfolio-grant-macdonald-mobile

Read more about this project

E-commerce: Are you maximising sales with your product photography?

When it comes to the design of an e-commerce website, the importance of product photography should not be underestimated. After all, if your customers can’t get the product in their hands to touch, taste, or smell, then the images have to work twice as hard to do the selling. You need images that instil confidence in your customers and show your product at its tastiest, flashiest, softest or most luxurious. This is ultimately what will compel people to ‘add to cart’ thereby increasing your conversion rates.

However, there’s more to good photography than simply making the products look great. The images should work with the overall design and aesthetics of your website as well, so that everything gels nicely together and the images look like they were taken just for you. Here are a few key things to bear in mind when you’re taking product shots.

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Keep the background simple – you want to hero the product at the end of the day and an overly complicated background will just distract people from the product. Keep it clean and neutral and it will be much easier to achieve a consistent look.

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If your products come in a range of different colours or styles then you need to show them all. Not everyone can visualise what a product might look like in a different colour or with a different texture, so paint the picture for your customers with images of each option.

Make sure that the images are high res enough to show off details. Customers like to get up close and personal to products when they are shopping online and a high res product shot shows that you have nothing to hide. It also gives your customers a much better idea of what it will look like in the flesh. This is particularly important with clothing.

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Taking the time to get your product shots right can really help to boost your sales and turn browsers into buyers. Photos answer questions and reassure your customers that they are making the right decision. And at the end of the day, the more people who decide to ‘add to cart’ the better it is for business.

If you require product photography or photography service for your website, why not get started with contacting our studio and we can take it from there?

Dating Websites. Looking for the perfect match?

Looking for the perfect match? We guarantee OMdeSIGN will make your heart beat that little bit faster the first time you set eyes on us 😉

Let’s be honest, mention the words ‘Online Dating’ a few years ago and, well……. you wouldn’t have mentioned it would you? You’d have kept it a secret, been a little embarrassed, thought it was the kind of thing that women who live with too many cats or men who think ‘Jedi Knight’ is a real thing to be tended to do. Not any longer. The rush to social media, meaning more and more people spend more and more of their life online, has altered the situation radically. You stay in touch with your friends and family online, you do more and more of your shopping online, and use the same tools when you trace your family tree, watch your favourite box sets or research your holiday. Mobile technology has increased online access even further, and with this ease of access comes ease of opportunity, so why not find love there as well? The short answer to that question is that there’s absolutely no reason why not, and a huge number of reasons to get online and start searching for Miss, Mr or Ms Right.

The latest research (as published at www.dailymail.co.uk), the result of a survey carried out by the online dating service eHarmony, indicates that the situation as it stands today, in which over a third of marriages begin with an online romance, is set to accelerate in the future. Before too long, it is predicted that 38% of couples will originally have met via an online dating site or matchmaking service. Given the rapidly accelerating spread of mobile online contact and social media, it should come as no real surprise to discover that, by 2040, seven out of ten couples will be able to thank online dating or other online communication for bringing them together. Drilling down into the figures, what’s more, uncovers the fact that an online inspired relationship needn’t be any less stable than its analogue counterpart. Of the 19, 131 married couples who took part in the survey, only 6 per cent of those who met online had gone on to be divorced, compared to 7.6 per cent of those meeting in the ‘real world’.

So not only is online dating a large and thriving market, but it’s one which is growing exponentially and looks set to keep expanding into the future. It’s no longer an embarrassing secret, it’s a mainstream activity, and as it moves into an increasing number of niche areas, it’s bound, somewhere out there, to be suitable for you and your individual speciality.

The popularity of dating websites is driven, in large part, by the lack of pressure they represent. It’s entirely up to each individual user how far, how fast and how deep they wish to go. Users can come from all age groups, all parts of society and have all manner of expectations, whether they’re looking for friendship, a brief flirtation, a lifetime of love or just a few hours laughing and chatting with like-minded individuals.

 

If you want to get involved in the supply of dating sites and are wondering where to start, the answer is to ask yourself a few vital questions:

What is your unique offer going to be?

What will make your dating site different?

Will you specialise, and if so in which arena?

Maybe you’ll construct a site targeting people of a certain age, be it the growing ‘silver surfer’ movement of older people online, young professionals, students or perhaps wealthier professionals, people like doctors, lawyers and architects.

No matter who your site is aimed at, the key to success is ease of use. As a web designer it’s all too easy to become overly absorbed in complex design ideas and the striking use of graphics. Whilst the look of your site may well be what first attracts casual visitors, the most beautiful and aesthetically innovative site in the world will fail if users find it difficult to navigate. Anyone visiting your site, especially for the first time, is going to be using all of their time and energy wondering how exactly to present themselves, and trying to capture both their personality and what, or who, it is they are looking for. Any technical issue which gets in the way of entering and storing this information, or makes it difficult to do so, is just going to frustrate would-be users and stop the experience being the fun it ought to be.

A user verification system will ensure that all of your users are totally genuine, and will also offer the reassurance that anyone they meet on the site is equally ‘for real’. User profiles should also contain all the necessary information other users will be looking for, and searching for that perfect profile should be made as simple as possible.

Here at OMdeSIGN we’ll design a dating site with the following features:

  • Profile search filters including distance, zip code, city, county, username and individual keywords.
  • An option to narrow down the geographical area of each search.
  • Quick Search forms, Advanced Search forms and the ability to save the criteria searched for.
  • Communication tools such as a mailbox and internal messaging. Above all else, a site of this kind is about easing communication. That’s why we’ve improved our user interface and made it possible to start new conversations straight from the mailbox, alongside providing auto-complete suggestions from the friends list, if you’re wondering exactly who to send that message to.
  • Photo Uploading – users may insist they’re looking for just the right personality, but trust us, a photograph is still all important.

Added extras, the kind of bonus features which will really make your site stand out, include matchmaking, a virtual gift shop, a general chat ‘Shoutbox’, the option to connect with Facebook, a profile building tool, private messenger, public chat forums and classified ads. The idea behind these extras is that you’ll be creating a one stop shop offering everything required no matter what your guests are looking for.

We know, we had you at hello, and you’d like to know how to create your dating site. With us by your side it really is simple: you provide a name and idea and we do the rest – designing your unique logo and branding and crafting a bespoke splash page to greet visitors. If you’d like to know more, just get in touch. We give you this promise – we will keep your number, and we will call back…

Why not get started with contacting our studio and we can take it from there?

OMdeSIGN appointed by bulthaup UK to build their new website

bulthaup is an award-winning German kitchen manufacturer, founded in 1949 by designer Martin Bulthaup. In recent years the company’s designs have been honoured with The European Design Prize, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Commission and, in 2004, a Good Design Award from the Chicago Athanaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design.

bulthaup is renowned worldwide for its architecture of living spaces, with innovation and precision being familiar characteristics of the brand. The company’s approach to design is a holistic one and takes in the needs of the individual as well as the physical architecture of the room.

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With precision, expertise and technical perfection being trademarks of this award-winning company we are delighted to have been chosen to handle their online presence.

Alex, online sales and marketing manager for bulthaup UK says: ‘I’m hugely excited to be working with OMdeSIGN. We felt that with their strong web design credentials and breadth of experience, OMdeSIGN was a great fit with bulthaup.

Your Essential Checklist before launching your website. Part 2

In the excitement and rush to launch your new website it can be all too easy to overlook some very important things. Drawing on our extensive web design experience, we’ve compiled a simple at-a-glace checklist to help you optimise your website before you go live.

Pre-launch checks

6. Performance

It’s a simple fact, a faster site gets better rankings. It also reduces frustrating load times and therefore the risk of losing browsers. Services such as Google Page Speed can help you check the load time of your pages. Compressing any images or keeping them as small as possible is also a good way of improving load times.

7. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

SEO means making your site as visible as possible to the search engines in order to get your site ranked as high as possible in the listings.

Titles and headlines – page titles and main headlines play a key role in this. You should think of them in terms of what your users will type in as their search and also to give them an immediate insight into what they can expect to find. Users will click on what they think is most relevant to their search, so put yourself in their shoes and adjust your key messages accordingly.

Keywords – good use of keywords is vital. Make sure your headlines and text include a good density of your keywords in both their singular and plural forms. But keep it natural so that it doesn’t look forced.

Image Alt-Tags – use short descriptions to make sure your site includes relevant and descriptive alt-tags.

Descriptive URLs – check the format (user/search engine friendliness) of your URLs. Your website’s URL enables search engines and users to quickly view the content of your pages.

8. Social Media Sharing Tools

Encourage your site visitors to help promote your business through social media. So before launching your website, you need to secure the name of your site on the major social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest. Also make sure you embed social media sharing tools into your site.

9. Legal considerations

Make absolutely sure that your website complies with all relevant legal considerations that pertain to your online business. Issues can include:

Data Protection and Privacy – if you capture or distribute data or use cookies, then you need a simple, clear policy. You will need to display a Data Protection statement on the relevant pages on your site together with contact details for further information.

Copyright – make sure the copyright ownership is clearly stated.

Terms and conditions – these need to be provided if you are offering a service or providing e-commerce facilities.

Company Registration Information – limited/registered companies are legally obliged to clearly display the registered company name, number and address on your website.

10. Final Tips

Web Analytics – these track visits to your site and gather valuable information about daily hits, monthly page views, time spent on site etc. The statistics not only show how well your website is performing, but can also show you where improvements can be made – for example, if key pages aren’t holding users’ attention. Google Analytics is one of the most common tracking services and you can sign up free!

Favicon – when your website is open in a user’s tab or window, a favicon is a device that brands the tab or window and is also saved with the bookmark, allowing your web pages to be quickly and easily recognised. Try saving favicon.ico in your root directory as some browsers will automatically pick up the favicon from there.

11. Tell the world!

Promote, promote, promote! Use emails, tweets, Facebook updates, friends and anyone and anything to announce the launch of your new website and drive more traffic to your site – this in itself will help in the rankings battle.

Remember, from now on your business has a 24/7 presence in the world – how good is that!

Your Essential Checklist before launching your website. Part 1

In the excitement and rush to launch your new website it can be all too easy to overlook some very important things. Drawing on our extensive web design and development experience, we’ve compiled a simple at-a-glance checklist to help you optimise your website before you go live.

The design and build stage

Text font and size – ensure all text is clear and easy to read with good line spacings. Large text and plenty of white space works well on the web.

Contrast – today’s screens show up subtle differences in colour, so make sure your design and text complement each other and enable maximum clarity.

Consistency – this is vital across your entire site so that users don’t get confused or fed up. Consistency also makes you look professional. Buttons and links should be obvious, while headlines and sub-headlines should be consistent in style, size and colour.

Coming Soon – it’s a good idea to include a ‘Coming Soon’ page to encourage users to bookmark your site. But make sure it’s just as impactful and well designed as the rest of your site.

Pre-launch checks

Whatever you do, do not skip these vital checks before launching your site!

1. Proofreading

Nothing says unprofessional as immediately as poor spelling and grammar. Spellchecks are important but not good enough on their own (especially if you’re a UK site and your spellchecker automatically changes things into American spelling!) – you should proofread everything twice, especially to check that no ‘lorem ipsum’ test content are still in place.

Triple check that all contact details are correct – names, phone numbers, email addresses etc.

2. Navigation and Functionality

Check everything is exactly where it should be, functions properly and that all buttons and links take you to where they should take you. It’s also a good idea to make sure your logo links to your home page.

3. Updates

Give your audience a quick and easy way to receive new updates without always having to visit your site. Let them subscribe free to an RSS feed link via your Blog so that any updates can automatically be available to them.

4. Cross-browser checks

Your website needs to work across all the most popular browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Google Chrome.

5. Compatibility and Validation

Compatibility – make sure your website works across all devices, including desktop and mobile.

Validation – sites often fail to validate for simply rectified reasons. It’s important to understand any errors in order to be able to remove the causes.

JavaScript – for security reasons, many web browsers turn off JavaScript. So you need to ensure any response forms or similar will still complete server-side validation checks without Java-Script. This is especially important when talking about ecommerce London projects so please make sure this requirement is not overlooked.

Continue reading here:

Your Essential Checklist before launching your website. Part 2

OMdeSIGN named one of the best Web Design Companies in the UK

The independent authority on digital media vendors in the United Kingdom, topseos.co.uk, has published a list of the best web design and web development agencies in the online media industry for the month of January 2013.

Agencies included in the list have been thoroughly evaluated by an independent research team which delves into a vendor’s business strategies and compares them against industry standards to guarantee that the services offered are top quality. Businesses access the list online to identify the very best Web Design and Development companies to assist them in their website design and web development projects.

The Managing Partner of topseos.com , Jeev Trika, has stated that the “evaluation process for both agencies and software tools is meticulous. We review strengths, weaknesses, and competitive advantages.”

The Top 10 Web Design Companies in the UK for January 2013 are:

Best Website Design Companies in the UK
The Top 10 Web Development Companies in the United Kingdom for January 2013 are:
Best Web Development Companies in the United Kingdom
Since its launch in 2002, topseos.com has been recognized as an independent authority on vendors who provide online products and services. Topseos.co.uk offer thorough and independent advice to help bussinesses in making purchasing choices from digital media companies. Before being added to the list of the best, each organisation is put through a thorough assessment process comprising of a set of evaluation criteria containing five areas commonly connected with successful Web Design and Development services. These five areas of evaluation comprise of: navigation, visual appeal, compliant code, consistency, and download time. Clients of the Web Design companies being evaluated are also contacted to inquire about their individual opinions of the services provided to them. To find out more about our ecommerce London services please get in touch.

OMdeSIGN have the right recipe for Munch Food Company

Munch Food Company, renowned for their mouth-watering food, impeccable staff and the utmost attention to detail has chosen OMdeSIGN to design their new website, due for launch later this summer.

The new site will be a definitive resource for cooking enthusiasts, and a place to browse entire range of delicious food for a wide range of parties.

Munch Food Company is dedicated to producing original, stylish food for a wide range of events from launches, canapé parties, weddings, private parties, corporate events and cooking master classes.
They offer seasonal and principally organic menus and their dishes showcase the very best of British produce, sourced locally and ethically.

Munch Food Company was established by Keith Goddard. Keith trained at the FCI in New York and has worked in some of London and New York’s top restaurants including Daniel Restaurant NYC, Tom Aikens, Jack O’Shea’s Butchers, 101 Pimlico Road, Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road, Zuma, Nobu, Bibendum and many more. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

New EU Cookie Law – What Is The Hassle All About?

What is the cookie directive and what does it mean for you?

Legislation which relates to how you use cookies and similar technology for storing information on a user’s hardware including their computer or mobile device came into effect at the end of May 2012.

The EU cookie directive, otherwise referred to as ‘the Cookie law’, is a legislation that is meant to improve data privacy and online security by offering online users more control over what information can be held about them. The new regulation states that all web sites will be required to ask visitors for their permission to use the majority of web cookies.

The UK cookie law forces online businesses to be more transparent about the way they are using cookies, i.e. for how long they store cookies, what data is stored, before their cookies may be used to enhance website performance.

The law relates to all Member States of the European Union, however, if a website is located outside the EU, but is directed at visitors from inside the EU, they will certainly need to comply with the identical laws.

You can learn more about this on the official ICO website.

What exactly does that mean for you?

How should you deal with the changes on your website? The change in legislation means that adjustments should be made to the site to ensure that users are aware of the way to ‘opt-in’ to permitting cookies.

It will be possible for websites to use cookies without worrying about visitors consent in situations where it is absolutely necessary for them to do so for website functionality, good example would be the shopping basket on an e-commerce website.

What are cookies?

Cookies are small text files, primarily consisting of numbers and letters, which can be downloaded onto a device, whether it’s a desktop computer or a mobile phone, whenever a user visits a website. Cookies contain information regarding the visitor, and are used to keep track of their activity, remember their personal preferences and enable specific website functions.

The cookies which are kept on your device by a website, do not contain any data that can be used to identify you personally. Nevertheless, they actually do contain some information that is utilized by the website to improve your experience as a user.

Website owners use cookies for several reasons, for example, in order to: store your preferences regarding a specific website to ensure that the site can be customised according to these preferences when you return; For instance if a person suffers with reading difficulties, they may wish to view text on a website using a larger font. Enabling cookies will allow the site to recognise their preferences, which means that they won’t have to adjust font size each time they visit the website.

Cookies also play a significant part in saving user preferences such as the language that the particular website is displayed in, and storing the products that customers have added to their shopping basket.

Having cookies enabled ensures that if you have already entered a username and security password, you won’t be required to do it all over again for every single webpage that requests that information.

As you can see, enabling cookies can tremendously improve your experience when surfing around the web.

You are in control.

You are able to control cookies by adjusting the settings on your own browser. You can setup your browser to accept virtually all cookies, reject all cookies, or alert you each time a cookie is set. Should you reject all cookies, however, you will not be able to make the most of the Web Services.

By performing a complete cookie audit of your website you can be ahead of the game. If you are concerned about your website contact OMdeSIGN for more information.

Consalia chooses OMdeSIGN

Following a three way pitch, global sales performance improvement company Consalia has appointed OMdeSIGN to handle their entire online presence.

Consalia is a joint venture formed by three of Europe’s largest and well-respected consulting groups: Praxi, Development Systems and ITC Network, with 320 salaried consultants, and 20 offices in Europe and the Americas.

Consalia clients include Vodafone, Hewlett Packard, Renault, Hertz and Siemens Mobile Phone to name just a few.

Initial planning of their brand new website that truly reflects the strength of their business and all the energy and expertise within their organisation has already started. It involves OMdeSIGN communicating with key members of staff to gather requirements and present concepts to company.

Web Design Awards & Recognition

Web Design Awards

Whenever we ask our customers how they became aware of our website design studio, 7 out of 10 claim their starting point was searching for winners of website design awards. Our websites have been recognized for their high level of visual creativity, professionally coded CSS, excellent user experience and clean, W3C compliant code. How easier to spot excellence in any industry than by the accolades given out by judges and insider specialists. We are incredibly thankful for the kind words and recognition we have received so far and in the work we create will continuously endeavour to settle for nothing less than award-winning standard.

March 2012

Our Web Design Studio featured on CSS Design Awards, a living archive of the world’s greatest websites and an inspirational showcase celebrating emerging talent. The goal of CSS Design Awards is to capture every step in the rapid evolution of web design and to shine a light on designers that inspire us all.

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March, 26th 2012

omdesign.co.uk is a featured website on Design Delight.

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February 2012

OMdeSIGN London website featured on Best CSS Vault, an Inspiration Gallery of beautiful CSS websites.

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January 2012

OMdeSIGN featured on CSS Nature.

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January 2012

OMdeSIGN featured on Neue CSS, a showcase of inspirational quality CSS websites, serving as inspiration for the design community.

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December, 18th 2011

OMdeSIGN featured on Web Design Inspiration, a premium web design inspiration gallery.

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November, 17th 2011

Our London Web Design Agency featured on CSS Mania, one the most visited CSS showcase websites featuring only beautiful websites written in valid XHTML/HTML5/CSS.

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What is the Internet?

What is the Internet, exactly? To some of us, the Internet is where we stay in touch with friends, get the news, shop, and play games. To some others, the Internet can mean their local broadband providers, or the underground wires and fiber-optic cables that carry data back and forth across cities and oceans. Who is right?

A helpful place to start is near the Very Beginning: 1974. That was the year that a few smart computer researchers invented something called the Internet Protocol Suite, or TCP/IP for short. TCP/IP created a set of rules that allowed computers to “talk” to each other and send information back and forth.

TCP/IP is somewhat like human communication: when we speak to each other, the rules of grammar provide structure to language and ensure that we can understand each other and exchange ideas. Similarly, TCP/IP provides the rules of communication that ensure interconnected devices understand each other so that they can send information back and forth. As that group of interconnected devices grew from one room to many rooms — and then to many buildings, and then to many cities and countries — the Internet was born.

The early creators of the Internet discovered that data and information could be sent more efficiently when broken into smaller chunks, sent separately, and reassembled. Those chunks are called packets. So when you send an email across the Internet, your full email message is broken down into packets, sent to your recipient, and reassembled. The same thing happens when you watch a video on a website like YouTube: the video files are segmented into data packets that can be sent from multiple YouTube servers around the world and reassembled to form the video that you watch through your browser.

read more at 20things i learned

What we’re up to recently – Web Design and Development Projects

We combine beautiful design with expert coding to produce highly effective websites and we cannot be happier to see more companies appreciating good design and placing it at the top of their priorities when choosing a web design company. Here’s what’s in our pipeline:

Website Design and Development for AMBS Enterprise

AMBS Enterprise, Independent Property Search & Acquisition Consultancy specialises in finding and securing exceptional upmarket properties and provide complete advisory services to buyers and tenants for both residential and commercial properties.

ambs-subpage-investment

Ecommerce Website Development for Loma Books

LomaBooks – a virtual bookshop, where you don’t need to leave home to get a personal level of service, all the new titles for children, sorted by reading age; bestsellers, reviews from the papers and links to school reading lists.

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Web Design and Development for Evan Consulting

Established in 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, Evan Consulting is a Limited consultancy company based in London. Their aim is to provide consultancy in the innovative sector of the economics of nature.

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E-commerce Website Development for Roxana Alamouti

Roxana is a Freelance Textile Designer and Craft Artisan who designs eco-friendly textiles, home accessories and lighting.

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HTML5: The Facts And The Myths

You can’t escape it. Everyone’s talking about HTML5. it’s perhaps the most hyped technology since people started putting rounded corners on everything and using unnecessary gradients. In fact, a lot of what people call HTML5 is actually just old-fashioned DHTML or AJAX.

First, Some Facts

Once upon a time, there was a lovely language called HTML, which was so simple that writing websites with it was very easy. So, everyone did, and the Web transformed from a linked collection of physics papers to what we know and love today.

Most pages didn’t conform to the simple rules of the language (because their authors were rightly concerned more with the message than the medium), so every browser had to be forgiving with bad code and do its best to work out what its author wanted to display.

In 1999, the W3C decided to discontinue work on HTML and move the world toward XHTML. This was all good, until a few people noticed that the work to upgrade the language to XHTML2 had very little to do with the real Web. Being XML, the spec required a browser to stop rendering if it encountered an error. And because the W3C was writing a new language that was better than simple old HTML, it deprecated elements such as <img> and <a>.

A group of developers at Opera and Mozilla disagreed with this approach and presented a paper to the W3C in 2004 arguing that, “We consider Web Applications to be an important area that has not been adequately served by existing technologies… There is a rising threat of single-vendor solutions addressing this problem before jointly-developed specifications.”

The paper suggested seven design principles:

  1. Backwards compatibility, and a clear migration path.
  2. Well-defined error handling, like CSS (i.e. ignore unknown stuff and move on), compared to XML’s “draconian” error handling.
  3. Users should not be exposed to authoring errors.
  4. Practical use: every feature that goes into the Web-applications specifications must be justified by a practical use case. The reverse is not necessarily true: every use case does not necessarily warrant a new feature.
  5. Scripting is here to stay (but should be avoided where more convenient declarative mark-up can be used).
  6. Avoid device-specific profiling.
  7. Make the process open. (The Web has benefited from being developed in the open. Mailing lists, archives and draft specifications should continuously be visible to the public.)

The paper was rejected by the W3C, and so Opera and Mozilla, later joined by Apple, continued a mailing list called Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG), working on their proof-of-concept specification. The spec extended HTML4 forms, until it grew into a spec called Web Applications 1.0, under the continued editorship of Ian Hickson, who left Opera for Google.

In 2006, the W3C realized its mistake and decided to resurrect HTML, asking WHATWG for its spec to use as the basis of what is now called HTML5.

Those are the historical facts. Now, let’s look at some hysterical myths.

The Myths

“I Can’t Use HTML5 Until 2012 (or 2022)”

This is a misconception based on the projected date that HTML5 will reach the stage in the W3C process known as Candidate Recommendation (REC). The WHATWG wiki says this:

For a spec to become a REC today, it requires two 100% complete and fully interoperable implementations, which is proven by each successfully passing literally thousands of test cases (20,000 tests for the whole spec would probably be a conservative estimate). When you consider how long it takes to write that many test cases and how long it takes to implement each feature, you’ll begin to understand why the time frame seems so long.

So, by definition, the spec won’t be finished until you can use all of it, and in two browsers.

Of course, what really matters is the bits of HTML5 that are already supported in the browsers. Any list will be out of date within about a week because the browser makers are innovating so quickly. Also, much of the new functionality can be replicated with JavaScript in browsers that don’t yet have support. The <canvas> property is in all modern browsers and will be in Internet Explorer 9, but it can be faked in old versions of IE with the excanvas library. The <video> and <audio> properties can be faked with Flash in old browsers.

HTML5 is designed to degrade gracefully, so with clever JavaScript and some thought, all content should be available on older browsers.

“My Browser Supports HTML5, but Yours Doesn’t”

There’s a myth that HTML5 is some monolithic, indivisible thing. It’s not. It’s a collection of features, as we’ve seen above. So, in the short term, you cannot say that a browser supports everything in the spec. And when some browser or other does, it won’t matter because we’ll all be much too excited about the next iteration of HTML by then.

What a terrible mess, you’re thinking? But consider that CSS 2.1 is not yet a finished spec, and yet we all use it each and every day. We use CSS3, happily adding border-radius, which will soon be supported everywhere, while other aspects of CSS3 aren’t supported anywhere at all.

Be wary of browser “scoring” websites. They often test for things that have nothing to do with HTML5, such as CSS, SVG and even Web fonts. What matters is what you need to do, what’s supported by the browsers your client’s audience will be using and how much you can fake with JavaScript.

HTML5 Legalizes Tag Soup

HTML5 is a lot more forgiving in its syntax than XHTML: you can write tags in uppercase, lowercase or a mixture of the two. You don’t need to self-close tags such as img, so the following are both legal:

1

You don’t need to wrap attributes in quotation marks, so the following are both legal:

2

You can use uppercase or lowercase (or mix them), so all of these are legal:

3

This isn’t any different from HTML4, but it probably comes as quite a shock if you’re used to XHTML. In reality, if you were serving your pages as a combination of text and HTML, rather than XML (and you probably were, because Internet Explorer 8 and below couldn’t render true XHTML), then it never mattered anyway: the browser never cared about trailing slashes, quoted attributes or case—only the validator did.

So, while the syntax appears to be looser, the actual parsing rules are much tighter. The difference is that there is no more tag soup; the specification describes exactly what to do with invalid mark-up so that all conforming browsers produce the same DOM. If you’ve ever written JavaScript that has to walk the DOM, then you’re aware of the horrors that inconsistent DOMs can bring.

This error correction is no reason to churn out invalid code, though. The DOM that HTML5 creates for you might not be the DOM you want, so ensuring that your HTML5 validates is still essential. With all this new stuff, overlooking a small syntax error that stops your script from working or that makes your CSS unstylish is easy, which is why we have HTML5 validators. Far from legitimizing tag soup, HTML5 consigns it to history. Souper.

“I Need to Convert My XHTML Website to HTML5”

Is HTML5′s tolerance of looser syntax the death knell for XHTML? After all, the working group to develop XHTML 2 was disbanded, right?

True, the XHTML 2 group was disbanded at the end of 2009; it was working on an unimplemented spec that competed with HTML5, so having two groups was a waste of W3C resources. But XHTML 1 was a finished spec that is widely supported in all browsers and that will continue to work in browsers for as long as needed. Your XHTML websites are therefore safe.

HTML5 Kills XML

Not at all. If you need to use XML rather than HTML, you can use XHTML5, which includes all the wonders of HTML5 but which must be in well-formed XHTML syntax (i.e. quoted attributes, trailing slashes to close some elements, lowercase elements and the like.)

Actually, you can’t use all the wonders of HTML5 in XHTML5: <noscript> won’t work. But you’re not still using that, are you?

HTML5 Will Kill Flash and Plug-Ins

The <canvas> tag allows scripted images and animations that react to the keyboard and that therefore can compete with some simpler uses of Adobe Flash. HTML5 has native capability for playing video and audio.

Just as when CSS Web fonts weren’t widely supported and Flash was used in sIFR to fill the gaps, Flash also saves the day by making HTML5 video backwards-compatible. Because HTML5 is designed to be “fake-able” in older browsers, the mark-up between the video tags is ignored by browsers that understand HTML5 and is rendered by older browsers. Therefore, embedding fall-back video with Flash is possible using the old-school <object> or <embed> tags.

But not all of Flash’s use cases are usurped by HTML5. There is no way to do digital rights management in HTML5; browsers such as Opera, Firefox and Chrome allow visitors to save video to their machines with a click of the context menu. If you need to prevent video from being saved, you’ll need to use plug-ins. Capturing input from a user’s microphone or camera is currently only possible with Flashso if you’re keen to write a Chatroulette killer, HTML5 isn’t for you.

HTML5 Is Bad for Accessibility

A lot of discussion is going on about the accessibility of HTML5. This is good and to be welcomed: with so many changes to the basic language of the Web, ensuring that the Web is accessible to people who cannot see or use a mouse is vital. Also vital is building in the solution, rather than bolting it on as an afterthought: after all, many (most?) authors don’t even add alternate text to images, so out-of-the-box accessibility is much more likely to succeed than relying on people to add it.

This is why it’s great that HTML5 adds native controls for things like sliders (<input type=range>, currently supported in Opera and Webkit browsers) and date pickers (<input type=date>, Opera only)— because previously we had to fake these with JavaScript and images and then add keyboard support and WAI-ARIA roles and attributes.

The <canvas> tag is a different story. It is an Apple invention that was reverse-engineered by other browser makers and then retrospectively specified as part of HTML5, so there is no built-in accessibility. If you’re just using it for eye-candy, that’s fine; think of it as an image, but without any possibility of alternate text (some additions to the spec have been suggested, but nothing is implemented yet). So, ensure that any information you deliver via <canvas> supplements more accessible information elsewhere.

Text in a <canvas> becomes simply pixels, just like text in images, and so is invisible to assistive technology and screen readers. Consider using the W3C graphics technology Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) instead, especially for things such as dynamic graphs and animating text. SVG is supported in all the major browsers, including IE9 (but not IE8 or below, although the SVGweb library can fake SVG with Flash in older browsers).

The situation with <video> and <audio> is promising. Although not fully specified (and so not yet implemented in any browsers), a new <track> element has been included in the HTML5 spec that allows timed transcripts (or karaoke lyrics or captions for the deaf or subtitles for foreign-language media) to be associated with multimedia. It can be faked in JavaScript. Alternatively (and better for search engines), you could include transcripts directly on the page below the video and use JavaScript to overlay captions, synchronized with the video.

“An HTML5 Guru Will Hold My Hand as I Do It the First Time”

If only this were true. However, the charming Paul Irish and lovely Divya Manian will be as good as there for you, with their HTML5 Boilerplate, which is a set of files you can use as templates for your projects. Boilerplate brings in the JavaScript you need to style the new elements in IE; pulls in jQuery from the Google Content Distribution Network (CDN), but with fall-back links to your server in case the CDN server is down.

It adds mark-up that is adaptable to iOS, Android and Opera Mobile; and adds a CSS skeleton with a comprehensive reset style sheet. There’s even an .htaccess file that serves your HTML5 video with the right MIME types. You won’t need all of it, and you’re encouraged to delete the stuff that’s unnecessary to your project to avoid bloat.

Via Smashingmagazine, Authors: Bruce Lawson, Remy Sharp
Further Resources
HTML5 is a massive topic. Here are a few hand-picked links..

  • W3C Specification: HTML5 (Edition for Web Authors)
    Just the stuff for those who write websites (as opposed to those who write browsers).
  • HTML5 Demos and Examples
    Demos of the HTML5 APIs that are implemented in browsers.
  • Short, focused articles, “helping you implement HTML5 today.”

  • html5-shims
    Scripts that fake HTML5 functionality in older browsers.

Top Tips For Choosing A Web Design Company

You’ll find numerous website design agencies to choose from, therefore it’s essential to choose one that is going to be perfect for you and your business. A website designer can do more than simply construct a couple of pages based on your brief. They’ll help you outline, design and produce a website that should best suit your visitors. Aside from creating the ‘front end’ of your website, services that website designers can provide include things like:

Copywriting

Ensuring that the text and photographs on your website catch the attention and engage site visitors. Correctly translating your brand to the web making certain that the values and personality of your business come across loud and clear. Website content is immensely important, not only for your clients, but to make sure your website show up high in search engine results.

Redesigning your corporate identity

or assisting you to create one, if this is something you don’t have already.

Search engine optimisation

Ensuring that your website ranks high up in search results. Choosing a search engine optimisation services allows you to optimize the content of your site to ensure that it shows up prominently in search results.

Bespoke Web Development

This will likely include things like content management system and e-commerce solutions.

Your budget as well as the scope of your project will certainly determine what services you will require, plus it’s important to clarify these together with your selected web design company right away.

When setting up a shortlist of website designers you can consider web sites that appeal to you, they don’t have to represent your market, and see who’s created them; in most cases this is indicated in the footer area of the website.

Website designers of all sizes with satisfied customers will have their work presented on their own web sites. This can be the best indicator of whether the agency will have the ability deliver the results, however do make certain they were sufficiently involved with that site’s development. Once you have put together a list of website designers, you can then ask them to provide you with a web design proposal that will allow you to decide if the agency will fit your company.

Usually, it’s been highly recommended for companies to put detailed requirements together prior to hiring a designer. However many businesses won’t always realize what they or their potential customers are looking for, even if they believe they do.

At the very least, prior to hiring the agency you ought to have a clear idea regarding:

  • Your corporate identity/brand
  • Your competitors as well as the character of your business
  • What your customers require, or at best what you may perceive those requirements to be
  • Generally, what you believe a brand new website should accomplish for your visitors

You should additionally have an idea of:

  • Your timescales
  • Your budget

Our top tips when choosing between website design proposals:

Don’t immediately be taken aback if the designer’s proposal features a initial design before you’ve even got the website off the ground. It could appear impressive, however the reason you’re hiring a professional web design company is to establish a design that will be perfect for the needs of your visitors, rather than use one that merely looks nice.

Don’t always go low-cost

the agency may be undercutting competition to be able to attract new customers, however it won’t automatically deliver value in the long run.

Listen to your intuition

Ask yourself if you are able to have a good working relationship with these people? If the design agency can easily commune its points in plain English, this is a very good start. Choose an agency you’ll get along with… not only before the website commences, but beyond.

Whether you intend to develop a completely new website or improve an existing one, choosing the best suited London website design company is essential. It can be a good idea to base your choice on a combination of such aspects as experience, agency’s portfolio of previous projects, and services provided to market your website.

Trendspotting: What’s hot and what’s not in 2012?

Some of the trends for 2012, including shopping trend to buy anywhere and any-way, Indian E-commerce, app overload, growing concerns over cloud and mobile security, and interactive screens infiltrating our retail and restaurant experiences…

Anywhere, any-way shopping

As e-commerce (electronic commerce) and brick-and-mortar retailing integrate and overlap, shopping will entail simply clicking-buying products from a PC or mobile device – and then collecting the order at a physical location or having it immediately delivered. Multichannel buying will be faster and streamlined, with less time in lines and shorter waits for online shoppers…

PPL love us: Global Ocean Charity

OMdeSIGN received a testimonial from Global Ocean, a London based marine conservation charity and it said the following:

There are many people in the field of designing websites so to find a great company to go with can be like finding a rare breed of turtle in a whole ocean. We were lucky in the sense that we had helping us a person who had a refined eye for good website design so when we were putting out our website brief to various companies, she was able to advise us.

Thanks to this early advice and the fact that we very much liked what we saw of Omdesign’s work, along with their easy and professional manner, we put our trust and faith in their hands. It turned out to be well placed and we are delighted with the exact mix of creativity and clarity that Omdesign gave to our new website. They followed the brief exactly and continue to play a supportive and advisory role today…

The team at OMdeSIGN would like to thank Global Ocean for such a nice testimonial.

Read more about this website, or read more testimonials.

Our New Website!

Finally it’s here; the OMdeSIGN re-vamped and re-charged website! Yes, we know it’s been a long time coming; we were just simply far too busy using up all of our creative energy on our growing base of amazing customers!
As sweet as things have been, we like to keep things brand new. For us the time had come to jazz up and redefine ourselves once again. Our fantastic team put in some serious hard work after-hours to make our funky new look possible.

With some brilliant new things to offer, the new site is all we’d hoped it would be, strengthening our brand essence to create an even louder and clearer message for our visitors. We’ve also added some great case studies and an integrated blog platform.

We really hope you enjoy using the new site and finding your way around. If you’ve got something to say about our new look, as always we’d love to hear from you!
OMdeSIGN has come a long way this year, and this is the icing on the cake; a design by our team, for our company, with three key features; distinctive, intuitive and compelling.

Just a note to let you all know that the Omdesign office has moved. We are now located in Camden.

PPL love us: City of London CLF

OMdeSIGN received a testimonial from City of London Central London Forward (CLF) and it said the following:

I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending the services of OMdeSIGN. Marek, Ola and their team are consummate professionals: efficient, helpful and exacting.

Everyone has a vision of what their website might look like when they embark on this kind of project. OMdeSIGN will help you translate and actualise that vision with their technical expertise and artistic flair but they also know how to take a step back and let you guide the creative process.

Their customer service is also beyond excellent. If you have a question they will answer it. If you have a problem they will fix it. If you don’t like that particular shade of red they will mix it with whatever colour of the rainbow it needs until it is perfect.

In short they will treat your project with the same dedication and integrity that you would give it yourself.

The team at OMdeSIGN would like to thank CLF for such a lovely testimonial and we look forward to working with you again in the future.

To read more about this project please click here

OMdeSIGN awarded by WDI

OMdeSIGN awarded again. Created by OMdeSIGN website has been selected for inclusion in the Web Design Index, one of the most important publications in its field.

About Web Design Index

The increasingly common use of fast-speed Internet connections over the past few years has considerably increased designers possibilities to use advanced capabilities, including larger image files. Furthermore, it is clear that web design is reaching its maturity: whereas in the past many designers were hesitant to make the change from print to web, many designers now primarily work in web design. The results of these developments can be seen in this years edition of our best-selling Web Design Index: as ever, the most accurate overview of the state of art in web design.

Since its first edition in the year 2000, the annual Web Design Index has developed into one of the most important publications in its field. Year after year, it gives an accurate overview of the state of the art in web design. Every Web Design Index contains 1002 outstanding web pages. With each web page, the URL is indicated, as well as the names of those involved in the design and programming. Selection for the Web Design Index is based on design quality, innovation, and effectiveness, and the books offer examples of all conceivable forms and styles.

The Pepin Press/Agile Rabbit Editions web design indexes are international best-sellers, with about a quarter of a million copies sold worldwide.

Languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish

 

This entry is filed under Web Design Awards.

7 reasons why you should choose OMdeSIGN

 

1: We’ll make you look great!

After all, isn’t that what you care about the most? Our work speaks for itself. We strive to give each customer the kind of first class service they expect and deserve.

2: Customer Service.

A happy customer always means more and better business, so we try to make the completion of your web site an enjoyable experience. We specialise in giving our customers the kind of consistent, friendly, personalised service. We keep you informed at every step of the design process.

3: Price

We offer high quality work matched by a superior customer service at a reasonable price. Experience tells us that large companies charge two or three times our rates.


4: OMdeSIGN has been recognized by many of the leading web design publications.

OMdeSIGN London has been awarded and recognized by The Pixel Makers, Web Design Index, Graphic Orgasm, Big Mag, Free Oops, Pages Think. OMdeSIGN is an outstanding solution for website design.

5: OMdeSIGN can help you with all your design needs.

In addition to outstanding website design, we can also create for you printing materials. As with our website design service, you can expect remarkable quality. If you would like to discuss any of your design needs, just contact us.

6: You have nothing to lose.

We’ll work tirelessly to get you a website you’ll love.

7: Finally …

We love what we do and we have a lot of fun doing it! So, if you want quality web development, delivered on time from a company which truly values its clients, please contact us.