To help people interact with their environment, you need clear, consistent signs. The potential value of signs goes beyond identity and navigation. Signs provide opportunities to establish a mood and transform a flat dull space into a fresh, memorable place with character. START Communications offers both wayfinding strategy and sign design services, including the development of navigation, exhibit, interpretive, regulatory signs, and environmental graphics.

At START Communications we have designed signs, sign programs and wayfinding plans for a wide range of environments, including professional office buildings, pulp & paper mills, oil and natural gas facilities, manufacturing plants, retail spaces, plus interpretive and trade show displays & signs. We go the extra mile for our clients, overseeing the entire project, fabricator bidding, production, and installation. We make the whole process easy.

Wayfinding and sign design can help visitors and employees easily navigate to their destination.

  • Prevent accidents from happening
  • Unify a space through a common identity
  • Establish a character and mood for an environment
  • Create a memorable sense of “place”
  • Improve awareness of surroundings and offerings
  • Improve building accessibility, efficiency, and traffic flow
  • Support and demonstrate customer service
  • Compliment the architecture of a built environment

Benefits that increase sales

  • Improved perception of “place” builds greater trust and brand recognition
  • A clear, “friendly” environment increases duration and frequency of use
  • Greater coordination improves customer service efficiency and effectiveness
  • Clear, understanding improves environment navigation and efficiency
  • Wayfinding and sign design service offerings

START Communications sign and wayfinding strategy services involve developing standards and effective plans for navigation, sign location and sign messages. Our sign design services include sign structure development, sign graphics, and design documentation. All in coordination with the local architecture, branding, and maintenance considerations.

  • Wayfinding auditing and evaluation
  • Wayfinding strategy development
  • Routing & navigation planning
  • Sign location planning
  • Sign message programming
  • Sign and environmental graphics design
  • Interpretive and exhibit sign design
  • Map and directory development
  • Iconography and pictogram development
  • Sign manual development
top 5 questions concerning website design

At START Communications, when working through the beginning stages of a new web design project, understandably we find clients ask us a number of recurring questions. To answer these and help those of you who are unsure, we’ve put together a list of FAQs you might find useful.

1) How much will my new website cost?

This is the most commonly asked question and also a hard one to answer without first having thoroughly planned out the work that will be needed. The needs and sizes of different websites can differ substantially.

In order for us to accurately quote for a new website you will need to supply us with some information, including:

  • An overview of your business such as services, products, target market and business objectives
  • Your current or intended web address
  • An indication of design style, including any existing branding design
  • The approximate size of the website in terms of pages and content
  • The main outcome(s) of the website– why do you want to do it and what do you want it to do when it is live. For example, do you want to sell online, or do you want to promote your company?
  • An idea of budget, timescales and technical considerations
  • Overview of your competitors

Please don’t hesitate to call or email us to discuss your web design project and we can walk you through any details we need.

2) How long will it take to build my website?

Once you have provided details of how you would like your website to work we will discuss a project timescale with you. If you require a straight-forward ‘brochure’ web design we can get you up and running in no time. If you are looking for higher levels of functionality such as a content management system (WordPress for example), e-commerce, customer logins or other features, the timescales will obviously reflect this.

The quickest way to get your new website live is to help us by providing as much information as you can from the start. The more we know the quicker and more thoroughly we can work.

START Communications has a great reputation for producing quality work with a quick turnaround. You will be able to discuss your website requirements directly with the person who will be working on it, so contact us, we’d love to hear from you.

3) Will I be able to change things on my website?

The majority of our clients have access to their websites through a content management system (CMS). This allows clients to log in via any browser, such as Internet Explorer, to make changes and additions to the site content with no extra software required. This includes adding and updating articles and images.

CMS-based websites are considered the industry norm these days, and so we usually recommend them to our clients.

4) I don’t have any text or pictures – can you help me pull some together?

Don’t let this put you off. START Communications would be delighted to help you in generating the site’s content. We can offer advice as well as full copywriting services, custom photography, stock imagery searches, illustrations, video, animated content and much more. See our full list of services for more information.

What’s more, copywriting and commissioned or royalty-free photography can be very cost-effective. You will probably be able to use these for your marketing and sales materials too (brochure, trade show display, presentations, etc.) making them even better value for money.

5) I like ‘so-and-so’s website – can you make it look like that?

It’s great to have an idea of what you do or don’t like –try to take some ideas of both to your initial website design meeting or send them to us in an email.

A crucial part of any website development project is communication – talk openly with us about what you do or don’t like and clearly explain why. That way you will get a website that looks and works how you want it to. And be open to ideas too – make sure the communication flows both ways.

Well, that’s are top 5 FAQ about website design. We hope this has answered some of your questions. If you still have questions, please call or email us, we are here to help.

company product brochures

“We first contacted Start Communications when we decided that the Nursery needed a website, but had no idea what that entailed. Eric took the time to get to know us and our company. He focused our very vague ideas and made the whole process painless.

He has since helped us put together a whole package of distinctive, professional marketing materials.

Eric’s creativity, knowledge and excellent service make him a pleasure to deal with, and we would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone.”
– Sylvan Vale Nursery Ltd.

Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish salmon packaging design

Customers are drawn, more than anything, to products that look good. Something that is well designed and interesting is bound to attract more potential customers than a product that is poorly designed and looks bland. This is the importance of packaging design.

A good design should always reflect the product and personality of the company. There is more, however, to packaging design than simply ensuring a package looks appealing. At START, we think carefully about everything from the shape of the package, to the materials used and of course its functionality. In a world overflowing with product choices, packaging design is increasingly important.

Contact START now for packaging design that stands out on the shelf.

VIEW MORE OF OUR WORK >

Over the last few years we have been notifying our clients and publishing articles online and in print concerning the importance of businesses changing their websites to a responsive mobile friendly websites or be left behind. Today marks 1 year since Google made this change, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly you are probably feeling it, your website rankings in Google searches could be penalized as Google updates their algorithm. 

“Starting April 21, 2015 we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

Ref Google Blog

What are the requirements to make my website ‘mobile friendly’?

Requirements are quite simple:

  1. The website must be scalable – there shouldn’t be need to zoom and pan around a page to view it all
  2. Fonts must be readable without having to zoom in
  3. Links must not be too close together so fingers and thumbs can click on them easily

If you are still not sure what to do?
Contact us see what options are available to you. If your business depends on it’s website, this could be the best investment you make all year!

award winning book design

“Working with Eric Beal of Start Communications has been a joy. Not only is his design work extraordinary, his patience and sense of humour throughout the process of producing our books were steadfast (and at certain points, necessary). Eric makes a special effort to get the job done efficiently and professionally. We always felt well taken care of.

The books he designed won us a bronze medal in the Education category of the Independent Publisher Book Awards (North America) which has boosted our sales and made us proud. The judging is based on originality, design, and production quality with emphasis on those who exhibit innovation and creativity – which Eric clearly does.

We wouldn’t hesitate for a moment in recommending Eric. He is an outstanding artist and a true pleasure to work with.
– Connections Publishing

qr code for businesses

Over the last few months since our article on “Responsive Website Design” in which we mentioned QR codes (Quick Response Code), I have been asked a fair amount about them and how companies can implement them into their business. So here is a little bit about the subject.

QR codes have been around for a while (since 1994). Toyota invented QR codes to track vehicles and parts during manufacturing. Toyota would place them on their vehicles and parts for identification with a quick scan of a QR reader. In the last few years QR codes have taken off in mainstream business because Smartphones are now equipped with QR reader applications.

QR codes are a type of two-dimensional bar code (as seen above) that can be read using Smartphones and other devices. By scanning the code the user is linked directly to text, emails, websites, phone numbers and more. The beauty of QR codes is that the information contained in them is stored online and changes or updates to that information can be done in minutes.

Keep the code simple.

To avoid readability issues I recommend the QR code image be black, no less than 1” square and have a 1/4” white space running around, this allows an easy scan for the user. The QR code is meant to enable a user to get information quickly and easily; therefore, issues with readability can defeat the QR codes purpose.

Keep the content of your QR code to a simple website URL (targeted web page), a small line of text, a small text message, or, if used as a V Card – just your name, phone and e-mail. The more data your QR code contains, the larger more complex the code will be, and the more difficult it will be to scan, again defeating the purpose.

Remember that the information contained in the QR code should be designed for use on a mobile device.

Here is an online example of a QR code.

This QR code is designed to allow the user to easily scan the QR code directly from their computer screen, capturing the contact information on their Smartphone. This saves them from keying the information into their Smartphone. Since the website is a Responsive design website they can easily view the website on their Smartphone or tablet devices without any problems.

The possibilities of use are endless.

Product Labels: Place a QR code label onto an item you have manufactured, guiding people to a parts or consumables page making it easier for your customers to order, find specifications or even download assembly instructions.

Business Fronts: Add a QR code to your business front window directing people to your website products page, so even when you are closed people can browse and get maybe the information they are looking for.

Trade Shows: Great for exhibition stands, a QR code on display makes it easy for people at your stand or passing by to collect and store your information for a later reference.

Product Packaging: Allow space for a QR code directing customers to a product page where they can learn more about the product.

Print Marketing Campaigns: If you advertise using product sell sheets, banners, posters or magazine ads, using QR codes here is practically mandatory.  The code used here should link to a mobile-friendly webpage specifically created to match the campaign used in your print material.

Realtors: Realtors can use QR codes on property listing posters they leave in public places (code will lead to a mobile friendly version of online property listing, including pictures, address and map), on their business cards (clients will scan and contact info will automatically be added to their phone’s address book), on the property’s For Sale sign (the code would take the user directly to an online listing where they can immediately learn more about the property while sitting in their car).

Be realistic where you use QR codes.

I have seen incorrect QR code usage everywhere, from a “yellow” QR code on a poster which a QR reader can not read to “moving” advertisement on the back of transit bus to one that was obviously not tested before use and directed users to different website than the one intended.

QR codes are a great tool for business if well thought out and used properly.  If you want more information about how to make QR codes work for your business do not hesitate to contact me. START Communications works with its clients to create QR codes, select appropriate information for their QR codes and apply the codes to existing or new sales and marketing material.

Eric Beal is a professional graphic designer (CGD) and owner of START Communications who provides design services to local and national clients.

© 2014 START Communications

websites designed in woodstock nb

The websites we design and develop are more than just online brochures, they become one of your best sales people, one that works 24/7. An engaging website can convert visitors into customers and make a real difference to your bottom line.

Together, we can design your website, build it, then make sure it gets seen.

If you think your website is under performing or if you would like to see sales increase from your website, contact us today.

Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish Inc. opened its doors in 1994. 2014 marked their 20th anniversary! With over a dozen varieties of smoked fish made fresh on-site daily, this premium smoked fish company has become known and loved by Canadians near and far. Our involvement since 1997 has been logo designs, new websites, print materials, packaging designs, print ads, signage, sell sheets and trade show displays. Visit http://www.hardybuoys.com/

Responsive website design

First published in the Times Transcript

This article is about one of the most fundamental changes of how corporate websites are being viewed on desktop computers and mobile devices.

At my child’s Christmas concert I took note of the large number of parents who were photographing their children’s big moments with their smartphones. I have been aware of this trend to smartphones for some time. Indeed, a 2012 Nielsen study found that half of mobile customers are smartphone owners, that two out of three new mobile buyers are opting for smartphones, and that this trend will continue. As well, people are now using devices such as iPads and tablets, which also allow them to stay online while on the fly. The Internet is no longer chained to the desktop.

What does a mobile Internet mean to business owners and managers?  In June 2012, the Internet analytics company Comscore found that within the next 12-18 months the number of website viewings on mobile devices will overtake those on desktop and laptop PCs.  Their further research revealed that four out of five smartphone owners were using their phones to shop.

Until now, websites have been designed to accommodate the relatively standard size of desktop-computer screens.  The variety of screen sizes across the different brands and versions of mobile devices presents a challenge because most standard websites appear muddled or are inaccessible to the trail-blazing mobile shoppers. As the faces of the Internet so quickly vary, many business owners are being left behind.

To allow customers to access their websites via smartphones and mobile devices, in addition to their main website designed for a desktop computer many businesses have built websites and apps customized to specific mobile platforms, using simpler graphics and smaller screen-size designs.  This duplication is not only expensive but also a maintenance nightmare as each separate website must be kept up to date.

How many websites must an organization build and maintain?  What if a single website could be accessed on any device and be seen the way it was meant to be seen?

Five years ago I attended a seminar that introduced the idea now coined “Responsive website design”.  Five years later, this idea has finally become a reality as Responsive website design is now at the forefront of website development.  A responsively designed website responds to the screen size of the device that opens it, and displays itself accordingly.  New brands and sizes of smartphone screens will not affect the site.  This allows me, a graphic designer, to build only one website and have my intended site design displayed with integrity to all my customers, no matter what smartphone, tablet or desktop they are viewing from: one design, one website and one set of changes and updates. These websites are sleek and user-friendly, and index well with search engines:  all the characteristics of a great website.

The Internet is now mobile and the number of people viewing websites on a mobile screen will only increase.  With the creation of QR (Quick Response) codes (a type of square matrix barcode that devices like a smartphone can scan for information related to an item), apps and now Responsive website design, this is an exciting and dynamic time for businesses to connect with their customers. Denying website access to customers who choose to search on their mobile devices makes no sense when such an easy and elegant solution as Responsive website design is available.

——

To view a Responsive website design, check out The Boston Globe who just did a site revamp or our website at startdesign.ca. On a desktop computer just resize your browser window and watch the site respond as you resize. On a mobile device view the site vertically then turn your mobile device horizontally and watch the site respond to the screen size change.

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Eric Beal is a professional graphic designer (CGD) and owner of Start Communications who provides graphic design services to local and national clients.

© 2013