web content services - WebSubstance - Web Design and Search Engine Marketing

URL: Why Does It Matter for Your Business?

Lots of smart business leaders know that a website URL can have a big impact on customer response.

It's important to have a domain that is easy to spell, that sticks in the viewer's mind, and something that's easy to navigate to. But beyond that, there are other questions about domain name purchases that can get a bit more tricky.

The Traditional Generic Approach
Throughout the early days of the Internet, many companies chose to buy up Internet real estate that matched generic search terms. They wanted top-level domains that were roughly the same as their keywords. A soap company might purchase soap.com. A pencil company might purchase pencils.com. You get the idea.

This idea made sense for a while -- and some people still argue for it. But there are two strikes against the traditional system of picking generic URLs. One is that in these domains are getting harder to come by, because we're not in the early days of the Internet anymore. The second point has to do with specific market research that shows some companies can get further using a branding approach than they can with generic top-level domains.

Taking a Brand Path
A lot of SEO people and marketers would agree that the brand path is more difficult, at first.
Having a branded URL can require a bit more work. At first, the domain is more obscure.
However, what happens is that the branded domain forces the company to build muscle. The company has to supplement its core website with social media campaigns, e-mail marketing and more, all of which ties back toward the brand name. Slowly, over time, this builds more power into the site and people start looking for that brand name everywhere, including on the web.

The Case for Transparency
In a way, branded domain names allow companies to more clearly see who's looking for them, and why. Instead of getting floods of visitors who are just looking for a generic product, they are getting people who made a deliberate choice to see their site and view their products and look at their approach to their industry. All of this is valuable when the company is really making a commitment to building a better web footprint.

At WebSubstance, we understand that the slow branding approach can provide a much better foundation for a company. We work with our clients to develop a long term digital strategy and help them find the best way forward in web design and development -- and that includes the domain choices that they make, as well as the site structure, and the core elements as well. We take a comprehensive approach to helping our clients to succeed on the Internet, and bring state-of-the-art marketing practices to their brands, in order to drive better conversion and visibility over time.

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Keep Refreshing Your Site All Year Round


Lots of us have had that heavy feeling – sitting around the holiday dinner table. You’ve simply eaten too much. You feel like you can’t take another bite – or another step. You’re done for the day. Time to go crawl into bed.

The Internet can be like that. Dense sites with too much topical material that’s difficult to digest are like that rich meal – someone’s throwing something at you all at one time, and it’s too much.

Making your site a great experience takes more than a simple list – it requires some dedication to design and web engineering.

Text Typography and Layout

Some ways that professionals get around a thick or dense site have to do with orienting text on the page. One of the simple commandments for content people is to use bullet lists -- instead of putting lists into “comma form,” which leads to bulky, hard to read paragraphs of close text, it’s often better to write these bits of text in a linear format, which adds whitespace and allows the eye to scan the page more easily.

Designers also alter logos and important bits of text, blowing up letters, creating neat visual shapes, or otherwise using layout to enhance the site.

Another strategy is short paragraphs -- rather than going on for lines and lines, it's better to create short sentences, hit return and move on.

Site Functionality

While good text layout is essential, good design and refreshing content goes well beyond that.

Some of it relies on a more broad-based design process. For example, someone creates a mockup on a piece of paper, showing how to create pages that don't look too crowded.

Then, an expert coder utilizes languages like HTML and CSS to put those ideas into real web code, so that a browser renders them the same way that they were dreamed up.

Adding Visuals

Another easy tip is to add visuals. Although this might sound like it's too simple or a bit of a cliche, it really is effective.

Take a look at any product and services web site that you really liked to click on and scan through. What do these sites have in common? Often, it's quality photography. Whether they use stock photography or their own images, companies that ‘import’ fresh, attractive snapshots of people or places into their sites tend to get a lot more traffic and a lot better retention of the page views that they do get.

Some companies go a step further and embed short texts pieces, like quotes or customer testimony, over top of the images.

All of this makes a web site a place that's “more fun to play in” -- and when you get right down to it, that's really one of the ultimate goals of good web design. You can build anything you want -- but the reader had better have fun while they're taking it in.

See our related blog post about typography

Let WebSubstance help to build a site that’s user-friendly, to keep readers coming back for more, not overwhelmed by bad user interface design. We know how to keep a web site looking fresh and how to keep readers engaged and entertained all the way through your site. And that can make all the difference.

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Are Your Logos 'Responsive?'


Lots of us have got the memo about responsive web design and making sure controls are user-friendly, but not as many sites have great text. Top-level logos can benefit from some extra TLC, like stretching them into creative shapes, etc. That really draws the reader’s eye and makes a site stand out in the herd. Get this and more from WebSubstance…

When it comes to web design, it's often the little details that allow a site to stand head and shoulders above the competition.

By now, with the global Internet acting as a major e-commerce hub for more than a decade, most businesses have mastered the art of the 500-word page, and the basics of how to create a web menu. Likewise, with mobile commerce making up so much of the online landscape, companies are now migrating from the traditional HTML designs of laptop and desktop days, to dual-use sites that can present a project well on either a computer screen, or a smaller smart phone or mobile device.

Responsive Controls

Experts talk a lot about ‘responsive design,’ the need to make sure that all users have a good time on your site. Responsive design basically means making sites accessible for both computer and mobile device users. It means eliminating all of that crazy up-and-down and side-to side-scrolling, and creating controls that make sense when they're populated on a smartphone.

But in all that, you don't hear a lot about the role of text. Pieces of text need to be ‘responsive’ in an entirely different way. They need to create a response in the reader. And with so much clutter on the Internet, that's getting harder and harder over time.

Creating Great Logos

Logos and other short bits of text need to be built right to get attention.

So many companies are simply typing in page content, and maybe clicking on a headline 1 or headline 2 format for more important titles and headers. The text really isn't reaching out to readers. It doesn't have the great typography and layout that draws people in and makes the company look impressive online.

Creating great logos means making an eye-catching bit of text that doesn't conform to the standard fonts that you see all over the web -- Times New Roman, etc. How do you do this? You basically have to break out of the box, take each letter and make it an art form. This long list of examples at Awward will give you a good set of starter examples on real, innovative logo design -- for example, in many of these, specific letters are made into objects. In others, letters are tweaked, curved or stretched in a way that's different and catches the eye.

At WebSubstance, we understand that every element of your web site needs to be great. You don't just need responsive design and overall functions – you need style. That means every word and every image has to evoke a feeling in a reader. You don't just want to plunk down content, even if you have the best HTML/CSS design. Let WebSubstance help you with your web projects. Our experienced technicians and creative people will give you that one-two punch: a site that users can easily navigate, with straightforward controls and icons, but that also has a lot of curb appeal. Don't settle for less. Go with a firm that understands the real values of professional web design.

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A Few Reasons to Update Your Portrait


Some companies invest in professional portrait services or other photography services, and that's a good idea. Not having this kind of photography on a web site can create a poor impression. But there's another issue: companies can end up using these images long past their expiration dates.

Here are some of the best reasons for having professional and up-to-date images on your site.

Changes in Your Image

Simply put, people change their appearances over time. Taking a look at old portraits, you might notice that you're wearing different and possibly outdated clothing. Any improvements you made to hairstyles or other aspects of how you look won't be reflected in the old pictures. And at the end of the day, these pictures probably just don’t look like you.

Having updated pictures does a few things for your site -- it gives a more consistent impression of who you are now, and it can also make you look more professional online.

Changes in Photography Trends

Photography equipment and technique also has changed quickly over the last few decades. Even ten years ago, the technology that was used wasn’t consistent with what's being done today.

Old portraits can often look washed out, poorly lit, or otherwise less attractive for a web site. It’s a combination of when the pictures were taken, and how they were taken. But it’s fixable.

Want Better Than the Originals?

Getting the best photos on a page takes thought. Maybe the originals are okay, but you want something that really wows the crowds. Are your pictures and profile images enough? Are they welcoming and accommodating? Do they look attractive and professional?

It's also a good idea to look at other visual aspects like skin-tone and eye tone.. Getting the right photo retouch in post processing will give you the right skin tone, and make your eyes sparkle like diamonds in the sky. 

Working with WebSubstance

At WebSubstance, part of what we offer is professional photography services that bring professionalism to a site. We can help you to update old pictures or create a brand-new photo archive for landing pages and more. We work closely with our clients, using techniques in postproduction to optimize photos and make them look natural and friendly, as well as modern. We take the time to review your portraits and get your feedback, to get you just the right results.

Photography is one of the extras that we bring to the table as a web design company. When you get a brand-new web site, you don't just want average photography, you want what's good. Let us help you build your site visually to create a better impression.

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The Reader’s Eye


One of the big principles that researchers are looking at in the technology world involves how people perceive things, how they receive images to the brain and how they process different kinds of information. Groundbreaking research is showing us much more about how the human brain works, and that's playing out in many different fields.

Print Versus Digital Reading

One important aspect of layout and design for the web is based on differences in how people read and take in electronic pages versus print pages.

This article in Scientific American goes into detail about how reading is different online and on paper. There is the issue of how to take in information, where lots of people prefer the printed page, but there's also the issue of composition -- how to more effectively reach readers on the web and offer them accessible information. For example, the article shows how on-screen reading is “more mentally and physically taxing” but it doesn’t say much about how to alleviate some of this burden with white space, good text and image layout, etc. That’s what experienced designers have learned on their own, over time.

Sophisticated Scientific Models

At the vanguard of this kind of science, some pioneers have gone beyond simple evaluation and started to explore models like ‘hierarchical temporal memory’ or HTM that actually show how our neocortex works. These are becoming a critical part of artificial intelligence models, and they're also helping the rest of us to understand just why it is that we might respond to different cues on different web sites and pages in a similar way.

Web Design with WebSubstance

At WebSubstance, our professionals understand the ways that the most effective web sites reach viewers. We will help you build web sites that are effective and responsive to a customer’s needs. We are experienced in providing the right kind of composition and layout, and complementing the core of a web site with available extras that will make your customer’s experience even better.

Rely on a web shop that is a leader in its field, and has done the research on digital media. We’ll make the decision-making process easy, and walk you through the major aspects of building a web site that works. Our customer service approach is to truly assist our clients in taking the hassles and headaches out of comprehensive web design. Let us be an effective partner in transferring your dreams and visions into an actual working site that accomplishes the goals and objectives of your business.

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Revamped Website for Dentist Upstairs


Our latest web project was for Dentist Upstairs.  We revamped their website to make it more modern and up to date.   We also updated Dr. Partrick's portrait to go along with the new website.  The new site now has responsive design, which means it is designed for mobile and tablet viewing as well.  A new feature for their website is a blog.  Dr. Partrick can now inform patients about new products and services as well as teach them about dental care.  Copywriting was used to create content that grabs the reader's attention and help behind the scenes working with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  SEO will help their visibility on the web to reach more clients.  SEO is a popular service with our clients because of the proven results it generates.

Contact us today for any of the following services you may need:
•    Professional web development
•    Website design for mobile
•    Affordable SEO services
•    Creative graphic design services
•    Professional photography services
•    Web copywriting
•    Online shopping cart solutions

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Website for Bangrak Thai Cuisine

A client we recently created a website for is Bangrak Thai Cuisine. The restaurant owner, Rose, was looking for a fresh new page and we worked with her to achieve that. We created a website that includes all of the essentials. The menu, happy hour, directions, operating hours, delivery, and contact information are all easy to find and are displayed nicely. The website features responsive design which allows readers to easily view the page from any device.

Below you can see how the same webpage appears on a monitor, tablet, and mobile phone.


Contact us today for any of the following services you may need:

  • Professional web development
  • Website design for mobile
  • Affordable SEO services
  • Creative graphic design services
  • Professional photography services
  • Web copywriting
  • Online shopping cart solutions
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Corporate Photography

Contact Us

21800 Town Center Plaza, #266A-281
Sterling, VA 20164
(703) 470-0808
Jenny Le - President