Creating a usable, beautiful website that addresses the needs of your stakeholders involves a careful balance of many different processes. VI employ a user-centric design methodology, ensuring that the user’s needs are placed at the forefront of the process as this is who the website will ultimately serve. Information architecture, user testing, colour hierarchy, persuasive design and copywriting combine to create a website that you can be proud of.
Behind the scenes, we offer complete client and server-side development services, and can integrate a wide range of Content Management systems (CMS), ranging from off-the-shelf solutions such as WordPress or Drupal that we customize to your needs or a completely bespoke system. We understand that the web goes far beyond simple web pages, which is why we also build rich internet applications and deliver multimedia content across multiple devices.
User Centric Design
This is an approach we take that focuses on the end user before we think about channelling their pathways. It's a customer-centric way of thinking about and doing website design.
Analysing the audience, developing personas who might use the site and ensuring usability across a wide range of user type allows us to assess the needs, wants and limitations of our designs.
It's a feedback-heavy process between designers and users and is necessary to intuitively understand what first-time users are likely to experience, and what learning curve there might be navigating through them.
Some good things to keep in mind:
- How will a first-time user best gain an understanding of your site
- Simplicity is powerful - don't overcomplicate.
- Seize today and plan for tomorrow's business
- Be human - you'll cut thro ugh the noise.
This is where science and art meet; where the engineering of a site's layout and the aesthetics of human usage join to help people find and manage information in a meaningful manner. It's not as sexy as design, but it allows for a solid foundation on which some truly impactful aesthetics can function well over time. IA optimises content layout for users and search engines alike. When done well, it future proofs and prepares you for a lifetime of great data management.
Information Architecture functions as the skeleton that your content and designs cover. It is much more than just a directory or sitemap of your site, going in-depth to describe the intricate relationships between content and how they play off each other to build a compelling web presence.
- Your site is intuitive and easy to use
- Your data is kept relevant & readable
- Clear hierarchies make search powerfully intuitive.
Persuasive Design & Copywriting
This is where your user experience design and information architecture integrate with your buying and selling process to actively create areas of influence. It's where you pull your visitors through pathways that allow them to accomplish both their goals and your own. Designing from a user perspective and constructing a firm information architecture are largely about usability, allowing for ease of interaction, but if you want people to buy, subscribe and enlist, you must be persuasive.
- Smart design for funneling user traffic.
- Effective use of media to keep users engaged.
- Great copy to convince and convert.
Prototyping & Wireframes
There are times when its necessary to build a prototype before investing a significant amount of money. Proofs of concept could be a prerequisite of funding from an investor, or you could want to give your userbase an idea of what the final system will look like. The interaction with users at this early stage could prove crucial to the success of your product or service, and we use it ourselves in our internal R&D programmes.
Prototyping is great for:
- For complex solutions, it's cheaper to invest in a number of prototypes to see what works best.
- We can help you give investors a good idea of where there money will go in funding a full version.
- We can help you query your users with tangible mockups they can feedback on.
A popular implementation of prototyping in site design is the wireframe. It's highly cost-effective, with rapid, multiple iterations of key pages helping to determine the layout of content before any major design takes place.
- Clearly indicate all screen elements.
- Show just enough to provide context.
- Not include visual elements or colouring since it will distract from evaluating a layout.
- Take into account accessibility and legal requirements of the eventual site.
Asset Development / Manipulation
Few sites are simply an array of textual data arranged neatly on a page. Photography, video, music - more and more the multimedia experience of a website is taken as a given by users of the World Wide Web and building a library of these assets is integral, rather than secondary, to the process.
As the traditionally-high costs of high definition video and photography plummet, a converse rise in its use takes place. YouTube has recently implemented 1080p HD video, whereas your SKy HD box in the UK is limited to 720p. As a consequence, it is well worth considering what multimedia you are creating and featuring in your web presence.
- Video is the fastest growing medium on the internet.
- Original photography can give your site a unique and memorable aesthetic.
- Managing multimedia assets & optimising how they are found is paramount to their success.
Client / Server Side Development
Developing for the client and server sides go very much hand-in-hand. Complex databases and processes that can't be handled by a node computer alone can be performed on a server, the results transfered down to the client for use by users. The rise of "cloud computing" amplifies this process ever further, and has many useful applications:
- Browser plugins.
- iPhone & smart phone applications.
- Database building and management.
- Client applications processing large requests to server.
- Automatic backing up of data.
Content Management Systems
We use Content Management Systems (CMS) for creating and managing the HTML files you see in a browser as part of your site. It allows us to effectively streamline and manage the creation and placement of new content - pages, images, videos, etc - on your site without having to redevelop every single page every time something changes. Our own site runs on a heavily modified version of the popular WordPress CMS platform.
- A CMS gives you ultimate flexibility in the way your content appears on your site.
- Using an open source CMS can help you cut down on development time and costs to invest elsewhere.
- Upgrading your site doesn't have to start from scratch, by building upon an existing CMS.
Streaming Video Solutions
This is a method of delivery rather than the medium of video itself. Rather than downloading in advance, streaming simply means that video is distributed in real-time. Generally used for live broadcasts or for content that has many simultaneous viewers, VI has pioneered techniques to deliver high definition video without any buffering times to the end user.
- High definition streaming without any buffering.
- Live broadcasts online of your events and conferences.
- Optimised for delivery to as many multiple streams as you require.
Rich Internet Applications
Increasingly, the internet is becoming less about sites, and more about applications that have the characteristics of desktop equivalents, delivered in a web browser or separate web-enabled area. Think about widgets, Facebook chat, auto-refreshing Twitter pages and you'll have some clue as to what an RIA constitutes.
- Widgets to embed across the web.
- Facebook applications that take advantage of the largest online community on Earth.
- Software solutions run in your browser.
Web isn't the only thing we do..
Define clear business objectives to your business and your site by gaining an understanding of the behavior, wants, needs and individual characteristics of your customers.
Websites have a central requirement to generate leads and improve results. Get the most out of your web presence with a variety of techniques to test, measure and maximize conversion.
Your offerings needs to be properly communicated, indexed and referenced across the web so you can reach those you're targeting and found by those seeking what you do.