Thoughts on 2017 Vintage web Design

Happy New Year Everyone!

We've been very active at Distant Horizon in Q4 of 2016, developing our latest product, Proven Structure M1 ("mobile first").

That has led us to refine some of our gut instincts into actual techniques and best practices. Something I've always been sensitive about is the feeling that web design and search engine optimization is like some special voodoo or witchcraft that only a techie can understand. My challenge is to take the complex and put it into business-person-speak. So here goes:


In 2017, your web site has to be mobile friendly, which means "thumb friendly" and "stoplight friendly" - people are on the go, and they are using their phones for real-time research while standing in line at Potbelly, while stopped at a long stoplight or in their driveway as they're about to embark on their day. We thought about this - and studied our own behavior. We believe the typical bootstrap/responsive design technique of using this textless menu icon:

was a serious step backward in information design. So instead, we took a queue from Google and from a favorite hand-held device from my childhood - a "walkie-talkie". Walkie talkies are very easy to use and only have a couple of buttons. I want your web site to work like this if someone is going to hit it from their car or while standing somewhere. So you will see on our newest web sites buttons like "call" "map" "e-mail" and "menu" that give users of your web site one-click access to the most important functions:

The "call" button queues up a phone's phone dialing feature. The "e-mail button" pulls up a new e-mail message. The "map" button loads Google Maps navigation. Brainless and fun! The whole web site is still there, but we provide these shortcuts for the mobile experience. Whether your web site is currently "mobile friendly" or not, it is important to look at it critically and say "what is my prospect/customer experiencing when they hit this site?" One way to test it is to have a relative or friend surf your site from Google in front of you on their own device. Have them talk out loud as they go through it.


Content management is at the heart of a good web site strategy because it gives your web site the same power you have in other communication. If you had to contact an Outlook expert to send an e-mail, or if you had to send your documents to a copy editor to produce Word documents, you would do a lot less writing right? Well I consider it my responsibility to give clients the ability to add navigation, pages and content to their web site at will. It has to be easy and fast. I'm proud to say that our new Proven Structure M1 content management and e-commerce system is going to provide all the simplicity and fun-to-use features of our old system - but better and faster than ever. The benefit of having hundreds of clients on our previous platform is that we really know what needed to be better - and we are delivering it in spades. I can't wait to show it to you.

If you had the power to update your site anytime from anywhere would you get those products photographed? Would you finally write those case studies or white papers? Do you have the expertise to become a "thought leader" in your industry on the web?


Integration of Web, E-mail Marketing, Social Media and CRM. 2016 was a very exciting year because we re-invented ourselves with no pre-defined rules. This led us to new products, new approaches and a new sense of purpose (important for a tech company like DH that has been around for almost two decades). I am having a blast with our last several projects because from the ground up we're building web sites to work in tandem with, and pull content from Facebook, and we're tracking web activity and new prospects in a comprehensive CRM that contains all clients and prospects from all the companies' prospect and client lists. Google Adwords is still essential for some businesses but whenever possible we are using highly targeted local or interest-group specific Facebook ads.


I want to be your go-to person for web design and marketing strategy. I told my staff when we started the redevelopment of Proven Structure that we are not doing this like a business venture - we are doing this with the passion of a hobby. I love web design - I can do it in my sleep, but thanks to this trusty Keurig I'm wide awake and as excited as ever! In rebuilding this product from the ground up I am going to have incredible flexibility in launching web sites, e-commerce, corporate intranet/extranets, school web sites, surveys, gift card sales, event sign-ups and more. If your web strategy is sleepy -- if 2017 can't be just like 2016 or 2015, or 2014 - let's talk. We don't have to break the bank to do it right! We'll put our heads together and come up with a plan to make the web a bright spot of your year! Click here to contact me now!

Brandon Wilson

Brandon Wilson started Distant Horizon in 1999 and never looked back. With an enthusiasm for the web and over 15 years of experience, he combines business strategies with passion and drive - and based on past experiences makes sure that your money is well spent and your risks are proportional to the potential rewards.

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It was a long time ago, but I can remember in the early 2000's feeling comfortable when I would see a web site getting between 1,500 and 6,000 visits per month. Now, for some small niche businesses, I'm seeing numbers a lot lower than this - not just my clients, but when people come in the door from a previous web developer too. At first, I blamed the fact that Google has indeed become more specific when showing search engine results. I remember back in the late 90's, if you typed in "great pizza restaurant" to a search engine restaurant, the results would be pizza places from all over the world! Some of the localization efforts are good and well intentioned and much needed. But the other day while driving down the road an even more important reality hit me. When I say this it is going to forevermore seem so obvious you're going to be angry. When Google gave users the buttons for "directions" "web site" and "call" they effectively put your business card on the web -- a great number of people who used to visit your web site are no longer ending up there, because they got your phone number or your address without ever becoming a "click"!