31
Oct 11

How to Build an Effective Website

So what are the attributes that make for an effective Website?  We ask that question ourselves regularly and try not only to fit the mold but create the mold as well.  Most of our attention at the 3 Magic Beans goes to Denver based businesses, but these attributes are more widely applicable.

  1. The most essential quality of an effective website is one that is graphically pleasing and engaging.  The 3 Magic Beans will build in free tools from Google’s Webmaster Suite including site Analytics.  Here you will find a most critical measurement in the quality of your web graphics and that is Bounce Rate.  Continue reading →

24
Oct 11

Trust Your Guide

If you are like many businesses/organizations, you do not have the expertise yourself to actually create your own web site.  Even so, to cut costs, there is the temptation to use a template to “do-it-yourself.”  While this independent spirit is admirable, it most likely will not lead to the level of quality web design that is needed to attract the attention of one’s audience. Just as poor penmanship can create an impression of inadequacy in a business setting, poor web design can be off-putting to potential readers.  A professional web-designer has the ability to use their experience and expertise to efficiently lead their client through the process of web design.

A web-designer acts as a bridge between the “virtual” world of the Internet and the “concrete” real world.  It can be like traveling to a new country to learn to navigate the web- but an infinitely large, confusing country.  How does one know how to get the attention they need for their company/organization in the midst of that new culture of technology?  Let the designer guide you.  As your cross-cultural guide (the web-designer) explains the language and values of the web, they are able to better gauge how to customize your site to reflect your business’s needs. Continue reading →


12
Oct 11

Contrast In Quality Web Design for Denver, CO

This week is one of the peak times for driving into the mountains west of Denver, CO, to view the incredible fall foliage.  Unlike areas of the northeast and Midwest, Colorado is not known for its diversity of oranges, reds, and yellows.  Instead, our autumn pallet is almost exclusively comprised of the astonishing gold of aspens flowing in wide arcs across rugged mountains.  What causes scores of the residents of the Mile High City to flock to the mountains in wide-eyed wonder?  Is it the color of the gold leaves themselves?  If you removed the aspens from their environment- their context- and placed them in an environment where the sky and surrounding trees were of the same hue, would the results be the same?  Absolutely not.  In fact, it is silly to even propose such a thing.  It is not just the color of the aspens.  It is the manner in which they contrast with the vibrant blue sky and the deep green of the multitude of pine trees, which truly set them apart.  As in nature, contrast in web design determines the difference between quality and mediocrity.

Contrast is one of the fundamentals of design that allow a designer to communicate significant material to their target audience.  Basically, that means, that by showcasing differences we can effectively get our point across.  The eye is constantly moving on a web page.  If there are no differences on the page, the eye simply wanders.  It follows no path.  There is no point.  Nothing jumps out as more important than any other area.  Chaos.  However, when a creative web designer utilizes the art of contrast, worlds of meaning come into existence.

Continue reading →


18
Aug 11

Denver Web Design

Web Design for Denver

As a design firm that focuses on creating clear, concise, and engaging brand messages, we have organized a few thoughts in this post on Website Design for local Denver based businesses.

1.  Simplicity:  Even five years ago, web sites tended to focus much more on quantity than quality.  “If I could only show prospective customers everything we do the moment they arrive on my site, I will increase my conversion statistics.”  This type of thinking generated very poor user experiences and hurt the overall Denver web community as a result.  If you can focus your content in a few general categories and step a visitor through a brief series of clicks to conclusion, your conversion statistics will be much better off. Continue reading →


08
Jul 11

Less is More

Clean Designs Equal Longer Attention Spans

Many businesses don’t know where to begin when it comes to creating content for their sites.  Often these businesses offer a number of products and services and want to make sure their clients don’t miss all the wonderful things that their company can do.  The result is a lot of distraction for the visiting customer, and odds are that they will leave your page without accomplishing any of your goals.  In order to avoid this, one has to understand the client and some statistics about them.  One very general bit of knowledge is that people often multitask when they are viewing your site information as shown in the chart. Continue reading →


01
Jul 11

More Engaging Web Design

Less text + More Effective Graphics = More Engaging Web Design

With the amount of websites we are inundated with everyday, it is imperative that we say more with less when attempting to communicate complex ideas. The job of great graphical design isn’t to be the loudest kid on the block, but rather a guide that makes the user-experience intuitive and effortless.

Why are visuals and graphics a necessity to clear and effective communication rather than straight text?  We will explore the importance of this concept and provide links to other similar thoughts and examples as well.

When I think of the relationship between graphics and text, I associate it with the relationship between tune and lyrics in music. The visually pleasing look of an ad, logo, or presentation relates to an enjoyable melodic tune that pulls your attention away from all the other stimuli around you and focuses your senses.  Success is only achieved when it focuses your attention.  Question for you: how many song lyrics would you recognize if they were out of context with the tune?  My experience is Continue reading →


24
Jun 11

Power Point Presentations

Don’t Let your PPT Presentation be a Liability

A primary medium of business communication is Power Point or PPT.  Power Point has a proven track record for its ability to take ideas and effectively transmit them to a specific audience.  Businesses need to consistently sell their brand and their innovative concepts.  That is where PPT can help the most.

We all know Power Point can be a great tool of expression, but we also know that it can have an adverse effect if used incorrectly.  We can all remember that one presentation where Power Point was used—not to enhance a concept—but as a cheap gimmick that came across as tedious and poorly planned.

Life After Death PowerPoint from EMT Media on Vimeo.

With that said, how can professional Power Point Templates improve your business presentation experiences?  This article seeks to explore the benefits of Power Point to enhance branding, visual communication and audience information processing. Continue reading →


17
Jun 11

Recommendations for Flash Usage

Tips and Considerations for Flash Design

At the 3 Magic Beans, we pride ourselves on telling stories through our designs here in Denver, CO.  A very important piece of storytelling online is the electronic medium used to get that story across.  One of the most popular mediums these days is Flash which can provide an excellent opportunity to create the optimum experience for the end client when used correctly.  In this post, we’ve researched some quality references on considerations for Flash usage.

For the best recommendations on when and how to use Flash, I immediately go to the source, Adobe, for their thoughts.  They do have a vested interest however and are not the only source of quality recommendations.  “Using text and text equivalents – Flash designers and developers can create engaging and exciting content for users of screen readers and other assistive technologies.”  So it’s important not to keep all users in mind.

“Flash is ideal for developing rich, eye-catching content, such as skyscraper adverts, banner ads, and promotions. Use Flash sparingly for when it offers an advantage over other media. If you can achieve the same results with an animated GIF or style sheets, then use them and save the Flash for another section.”

The Nielson Norman Group has set out to create the end all discussion report in their Suggested usability Guidelines for Flash.  This report is based on usability research with 46 different Web-based applications in Flash that were tested with users in the United States, Germany, and Japan.  Great resource. Continue reading →


03
Jun 11

The Problem with Rating Restaurants Online

Have you done a general search lately for something like “Denver Restaurants”?  What you find on Google Places in the first 10 pages is one hundred restaurants that have received in many cases hundreds of ratings and 92% of them have and average rating of 4 out 5 stars.  That means only 8 restaurants (from my count) of a hundred received a sub 4 score.  Does the old adage of
“When you love something –you will tell two people. When you hate something, you’ll tell twenty” not apply anymore?  I doubt it.  Does Denver simply have an overwhelming majority of fantastic restaurants?  Again, I doubt it.  Or, is there very little value in the current rating system?  Most likely.  I submit that the biggest issue at stake here is that people need education on how to rate restaurants and to expect more from their dining experience.

Rating a Restaurant

Now, you might be asking why the 3 Magic Beans has any authority to speak on the topic of rating restaurants when our focus is Website Design, Brand Messaging, and Graphics.  And you would be right.  But the bigger issue here that the average American might improve upon, is recognizing what is truly special and different rather than lumping everyone together as the current rating system does.  The biggest problem that quality companies or restaurants have in any industry is being lumped together with average businesses where they have to compete more on price rather than the value they bring.  You probably have experiences or frustrations similar to this where in order to not hurt some one’s feelings, we acknowledge everyone as being special in their own way and that, frankly, is a great mantra for mediocrity.  So, moving on, how do we rate a restaurant?

Continue reading →


28
May 11

Successful Sports Logo’s: Identity or Success?

Sports Logo’s

Just as the question of Nature vs. Nurture are debated on which impacts a person more, the question for a sports team is the value of Identity vs. Success.  Identity is how much a Logo, Color, and Brand Message impact your fan following compared with with a teams success?  The question is not as clear as you might think.  It’s always better to identify the extremities to get a clearer picture of the most accurate answer.

Chicago Cubs and their successful Logo Branding

On one extremity you have the “Lovable Losers”, the Chicago Cubs.  They have one of the larger fan followings in the game of Baseball but you can’t attribute that to success.  They haven’t won the World Series in over a hundred years.  What is it about the Cubs that keep the fans coming back, even when there is a decent team in the White Sox across town who have outperformed the Cubs on the field.  For the Cubs, the image and logo of the All American (red/white/blue), likable (baby bear mascot), and concentric circles to hypnotize you into forgetting about the game has served them well.  If you attend any Rockies games when the Cubs are in town, as I did this year, you know what I’m talking about.  The tag line on the Cubs official Website is “It’s a Lifestyle” which is exactly what they have created with their fans.

Failing Teams and Logo’s

Continue reading →