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Archive for the ‘Web Design & Development’ Category

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10 Steps to Choosing the Right Imagery for Higher Ed

By | June 10, 2014

Imagery is one of the first things prospective students see when they arrive at your website or landing page. Even if you aren’t able to hire your own professional photographer, paying close attention can help you make a memorable and accurate first impression on students. Find out how to choose the right images for higher ed websites – even if you’re limited to stock photography:

  1. Choose imagery that reflects your school’s brand. This will help your visitors to immediately identify who you are and what you do. Pay special attention to lifestyle, demographics and even color pallet. The more ways in which you can align your imagery with your brand, the better.
  2. Pay special attention to color, vibrancy and style. Form a consistent, site-wide look by seeking out images that go together. Look for photos that will maintain a uniform color pallet and vibrancy. To be sure your imagery doesn’t compete with your call to action, look for photos with more muted tones.
  3. Include photos of people. Human faces tend to form a stronger connection with students than non-living objects, but even implied humanistic characteristics can work.
  4. Choose photos that display emotion. A connection can often be enhanced through empathy formed from an emotional response. When students experience certain emotions, their ability to be persuaded can often increase.
  5. Choose normal, everyday people. Stray from using models that look like they’re models. To form a stronger connection, choose photos of people who seem relatable or approachable.
  6. Avoid the typical “stock” photo look. Try to choose photography that looks natural and not staged, posed or cliché. Staged photos can make you look phony or insincere, especially when you’re trying to build trust.
  7. Avoid imagery that isn’t believable. Don’t use photographs that look unnatural or overly Photoshop-ed. Choose photos that appear crisp, in-focus and professional yet realistic.
  8. Tell a story. Choose photos that offer a deeper message than merely a visual. Resist the urge to make the story too literal, but don’t tend toward overly generic either. Aim for a happy medium, leaving just enough up for interpretation to connect with the majority of your audience.
  9. Pay attention to images that could be subjective. A photo has the ability to completely change the meaning of a headline or other copy. Be sure your copy and imagery work well together.
  10. Pay attention to directional cues within the imagery. There are many subtle cues in imagery that may seem subliminal, yet have a crucial effect on where users focus. Take advantage of cues such as line of sight, forward motion, pointing, or even the direction in which a model is facing to direct attention toward your call to action.

How do you choose the right imagery for higher ed? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


Get deep analysis and take advantage of the latest marketing trends in higher education:


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How Creative, Conversion and Analytics Joined Forces to Reinvent the Fathom® Website

By | January 16, 2014

About one year ago, Fathom decided to focus even more tightly on areas of industry expertise.

At this time, the Fathom website –the most important medium for reaching new customers and generating more sales – was in need of a new identity to reflect our evolving approach, services, areas of expertise and brand identity.

(Cue superhero music) Enter a dedicated marketing team with the sole purpose of promoting and establishing the Fathom brand.


As we began digging into the analytics of the website, we found ways to boost the conversion rate, audience engagement, and overall user interaction.

From a design perspective, the original version of the website was not mobile-friendly, and was not automated to react responsively to browser window sizes. Responsive Web design (RWD) is an approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience — easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors). A site designed with RWD adapts the layout to the viewing environment by using fluid, proportion-based grids,flexible images, and CSS3 media queries.

Also, there was an incredibly large amount of real estate in the upper-left-hand corner of the home page that was ripe for repurposing. Your top priority “above-the-fold” should be establishing who you are and how your products or services can benefit your potential customers. Think of it as your storefront window; it is a peek inside of your business. If it is not appealing almost immediately, then chances are that your prospects will move on very quickly (attention deficit issues are at an all-time high on the Web these days, if you haven’t noticed).


Issues with the problematic homepage included wasted space and a lack of conversion elements.

Elements to focus on with a redesign of the homepage included wasted real estate, mobile viewing, and a lack of conversion elements.

Another balance designers must achieve is aesthetics vs. usability, i.e. user-centered design (UCD). UCD is focused on the usability of a site, or what makes for an easy and seamless user experience, including the ability to complete tasks (especially conversions, from the commercial perspective). We needed to integrate conversion-centered design (CCD) with a total creative redesign of the website. UCD and CCD do intertwine, but the major distinction of CCD is that it aims to persuade the user to achieve your business goal while ideally matching it to the user’s.

To sum it up, CCD is a discipline targeted specifically at designing page-level experiences that achieve a single business goal. It seeks to guide the visitor towards completing that one specific action, using persuasive design and psychological triggers to increase conversions. In Fathom’s case, that single business goal was to get users to request a free marketing opportunity assessment.


Now that we had established a conversion-centered design, the next steps were to mock up a website that not only maximized our new desired conversions, but also appealed visually to our target audience, and behaved in a responsive manner.

We redesigned the entire site to be responsive within our existing CSS template, but for the sake of time and this article, we will focus on the design of the homepage. The plan was simple: Focus on key elements that spoke to our customers with clarity about three very important topics:

  • Who Fathom was and why we exist
  • Our approach to digital marketing
  • Industry specialization

The initial mockups resulted in two varying designs of the homepage consisting of essentially the same content. Version A focused heavily on our digital funnel management approach to marketing, and included many features:

  • Industry areas of expertise
  • Ticker for tracking revenue delivered to clients
  • “About us” video
  • News and blog feed
  • Featurette of one of our teams
  • Resource library slider
  • List of the company’s top accomplishments and awards

Version B primarily concentrated on who Fathom was as a company, our goals, and our service areas of expertise. Version B was designed to be much simpler and more visually appealing than Version A, and included a large image slider with large calls-to-action; a breakdown of our digital funnel approach; a list of industry areas of expertise; our “about us” video; a news and blog feed; and a resource library slider.

Both variations included two main call-to-action buttons: “Free Assessment,” and “Chat with Our Experts.”


Versions A and B of the newly redesigned Fathom homepage



After some quick and masterful development within WordPress by our resident front-end Web developer/genius, Matt Thompson, it was time to put Versions A and B of the revamped homepage to work. With the help of Visual Website Optimizer, a multivariate conversion testing application, we put the two variations of the homepage face-to-face in a battle for conversion glorification. We focused our tests on three important variables:

  1. Our Approach (clicks to the ‘approach’ page through any stages of the funnel breakdown buttons)
  2. Engagement (overall time on the website)
  3. Free Assessment Conversions (clicks on the green button to our assessment request page containing a lead form)

The results of the test, which ran a total of three months, although very close in some cases, gave us some very important insights (see below).


While Version A led by a hair in conversions to the “Free Assessment” page, winning by 0.30%, Version B won the test for website engagement and clicks to learn more about our approach. With these analytics, we were able to conclude without a doubt that Version B led to higher engagement, keeping visitors on the site longer, resulting in higher education about Fathom’s approach and services.  With this knowledge, we have set Version B as the static and full-time variation of Fathom’s homepage.


And the testing is far from over! Now that we know Version B holds the highest engagement, we will utilize this data to formulate and create three new variations of Version B to A/B/C test. Because we now know that our homepage visitors did not overwhelmingly request the “Free Assessment”, we can focus one of our variations around it with a slider banner image. Other elements we are planning to test include:

  • Variations of CTA button designs within the slider to increase clicks
  • Moving the “about us” video above the fold to increase engagement/time on site
  • Focusing the top entirely on our industries of expertise
  • Designing the top fold to be “approach”-centric, educating our audience on the services and people who make Fathom unique

The bottom line is: We will never stop testing, and neither should you! Web design and content architecting is the perfect storm in which creative, conversion and analytics fuse together to become the ultimate proving ground for your business. Do you have what it takes to appeal to your audience while maximizing conversions for your business? Balancing these interests can be a challenge, but the only way to truly refine and perfect this art is through the fusion of creative, conversion and data. The measuring stick to this balancing act will always be testing – and you should never be satisfied.


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Best Practices: Website Pages for Manufacturing Firms

By | October 24, 2013

pic-specialty_manu wrench Alright, so it’s 2013, and your manufacturing company has an attractive website to promote your products and/or services across the Web to potential customers. Good for you! Your competitors have websites, too. What’s going to set you apart from them online?

Sure, there’s PPC ads. And online videos. And email newsletters. There are white papers and case studies, even infographics and webinars. These are great additional options – the latter 4 falling clearly in the much-hyped camp of content marketing. But it’s tremendously important to also make sure that the foundational issues are being addressed on your site in regards to the types of individuals visiting your website and the kinds of information they really need in order to feel confident in doing business with your manufacturing company.

Some basic pages that are frequently ignored during site creation can help to assuage fears and earn the trust of your buying audience. Let’s look at several of them below.

  • Capabilities page. Whatever manufacturing specialty you happen to operate within, chances are you have specific machinery and technology needed for that production area. Let your potential clients know about that equipment and the electronic systems you use. Blast furnaces, laser-guided design, sonic cleaners, mechanical and robotic assembly systems, chemical baths and more … these help interested buyers in understanding the sophistication and possibilities inherent in partnering with your business. Methodical buyers want to know all about your capabilities – the more you can provide them easily via your website, the closer they’ll be to reaching out to you for business.
  • Testimonials page. Quotes from your past or present customers – touting your virtues in terms of customer service, production and delivery times, product quality, innovation and even pricing - ‘word of mouth’ goes a long way towards establishing your firm as the ‘go-to’ company to engage with when it comes to decision makers who value the past experiences of your customers. And soliciting these quotes from your clients is usually very easy, especially if you have a good working relationship with them.
  • Sustainability page. Like it or not, global weather change, environmental awareness and energy conservation, LEED certification (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) and carbon credits are all slowly changing the ways companies do business … and WHO they do business with. Many forward-thinking companies are establishing policies due to pressure from their boards of directors and even shareholders to engage with manufacturing firms with proven committments to environmental protection and energy conservation. Developing a page that lists your firm’s actions in this direction–use of solar panels or wind turbines, recycling efforts, commitments to landfill use reduction via reusable resources, secondary containment protocols, support of national eco-charities–tells visitors that your company is a good corporate citizen, a growing concern in the 21st century.
  • Digital Resources page. It’s one of the easist resources to set up on your website, and yet many manufacturing firms today do not make digital assets or resources available to website visitors. What are digital assets? Your company product brochures, spec sheets, instructional guides and the like. Having these available as PDFs that can be downloaded just makes extremely common sense. Think about it: Your product brochure is downloaded and printed, and then your potential customer sees it on his or her desk every day; or it gets passed along electronically to the boss or buying manager for consideration. Better yet, you can “gate” the more premium versions of these assets, and you’ll then have the email addresses of interested potential buyers who have already visited your site and requested information. Talk about a pre-qualified lead!

Take some time to visit the websites of your close competitors – what do they have for public view and consumption that your site is missing? What would you like to present to possible buyers that isn’t currently on your site? Be mindful of such ideas and make easy content marketing happen for your company with thought-out best practice pages for your intrigued site visitors.


Learn why the Internet is manufacturing’s best friend, including reliable ways to generate cost-effective leads:

Digital Marketing 101 for Manufacturers

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Overhauled Fathom Website Brings Responsive Design, Human Touch

By | September 23, 2013

Last Thursday, we officially unveiled our redesigned updated website. With all due respect to the talented Fathom developers and designers who had a hand in the project, the reason I’m avoiding redesign is because we launched not so much a full-scale redesign, but primarily a visual overhaul. OK, let’s call it a mini-redesign. Basically, the fundamental structure remains as it was, but things should be a little easier to explore and a lot easier on the eye.

Victoria karaoke

Best of all, I would argue, the current version more fully represents our people, who are an essential part of what makes Fathom unique. Other improvements include:

  • Responsive design, adapting to specific devices and window sizes (If you’re reading this on a desktop/notebook computer, fiddle with your browser window size and you’ll see for yourself)
  • Reinforced company identity and philosophy (what distinguishes us from other marketing/analytics agencies)
  • More intuitive navigation
  • Warmer tone, more colors
  • More prominent buttons/icons
  • Revised industry pages (articulating common goals of businesses just like yours)
  • Better-looking and easier-to-use forms
  • Other content updates (including new competitor comparison chart)

To our regular blog readers and site visitors, we hope you and all our new guests enjoy the new site experience and that you find it more usable. We also hope it communicates our passion for growing your business, along with more of our personality (and personalities).

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Boomers, Seniors & the Internet [Infographic]

By | February 20, 2013

When developing a marketing plan, seniors and boomers are two target demographics healthcare marketers should not ignore. This audience is particularly essential to a successful healthcare marketing plan when considering the Administration on Aging predicts that people 65 and older will represent 19% of the population by 2030.

For a senior, independence is a source of confidence and overall life enjoyment. Last year, Anthem released information on how seniors can stay active and “live fully well past retirement.”

One of these suggestions included learning new technology. While the Internet is not exactly new, Anthem encouraged seniors to use smartphones, email and social networks to stay in touch with their family and friends. As noted before on this blog, some seniors are already quite tech-savvy. So in honor of February being National Senior Independence Month, we would like to celebrate with an infographic that breaks down seniors and boomers’ Internet usage along with senior-friendly web design tips.

**Click infographic to view the full-size version and zoom in.

Check out Fathom’s detailed study of social media usage in the top 25 hospitals. Benchmark your own system’s social media situation and get other ideas to build your online presence and reach more potential patients, current patients and caregivers.

Social Media in the Healthcare Industry

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