Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Marketing

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Make a Website Today

One of the first things a new or small business should do is make a website. It is a crucial component to operating a successful business in this technological age, but is often overlooked by business owners. Whether due to the fact that they do not realize it’s importance, or do not believe it to be necessary, many businesses continue to operate without their own website.

“Make a Website?”

A puzzled expression, followed by “Well, we have a Facebook page, so why do we need to make a website? Everything we would put on the website is on Facebook!” All too often we hear this when talking to people.

We understand the importance of Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and the myriad other social media sites. And it is true that a lot of the information you want to provide to people about your business will have a place on those sites, such as hours of operation, locations, sales, promotions and events. But there is a lot more you can do with a website that you just can’t do on “the Facebooks”, such as:

Establish Brand Authority

Going to Uncle Joe’s Rib House on Facebook may give me their business logo, vital information such as hours of operation and location, and a way to rate them after I eat there. But going to unclejoesribhouse.com and seeing those juicy ribs sizzling behind the page is a lot more appetizing than Facebooks plain blue and white style. Plus, I automatically feel like the business is more stable, since they invested in a beautiful, delicious website.

Rank Higher in Search Engines

While your Facebook page can be found in a Google search, you can get a lot more traffic with a properly optimized website. If you make a website following SEO best practices, more of your pages will be found by people doing searches for your products or services. And the first thing anyone does when trying to find something (even a new rib place) is consult Google/Yahoo/Bing.

Generate Higher-Quality Leads

If you are in a services industry, you may want to capture information about prospective clients. Social media is definitely important, but having a contact form on your website will gather hotter leads than a call to action on Facebook. For the best results, add a lead generation form to your website, like “Subscribe to our newsletter!” or “Click here for a free consultation!”, and also link that form into your social media accounts!

So now, if you haven’t already and want to make a website, please be our next hot lead, and “click here for a free consultation! 🙂

Oh, and by the way, apologies to Future Uncle Joe and his rib house: unclejoesribhouse.com did not exist at the time this article was written!


Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Web Design

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Website Redesign with Pie

When contemplating a website redesign, keep in mind that one of the best ways to grab a person’s attention is having delicious graphics. We mean so delicious, they contemplate eating the page (or screen, if it’s on a website). And so, without further ado, here’s your weekend snack:

Website Redesign Strategy: Graphs, Plots, and Charts!

Ahhhh, reminds us of the good old days of slide show presentations. Graphical representations of your data makes it more entertaining! Tables are and always will be boring.

For the more adventurous among us, try a fresh helping of animated graphs! Click here to animate the line graph below.

But this is only a demo, and a demo can only go so far. You need to have a good feel for how this type of display will look with your own data, on your own website. You can take a look at Google Charts, which is what we have used in this article, and try to tie it into your own website redesign project. The good thing about using Google Charts, (besides being backed by Google), is that they maintain backwards compatibility for older browsers. You won’t be leaving some of the people visiting your site out in the cold, without pie (and everyone loves pie)! So go ahead and start adding some graphs, plots and charts to your website; people will be more likely to stay on your site longer, and share those pretty graphics with their friends on social media.

And now, we’re off to write some more code (which is how we enjoy our weekends). At least, right after we wash all these sticky pie jokes off our fingers! (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

Oh, and if you’d like some assistance baking that special pie chart for your website, we’d be more than happy to lend a hand!


Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Web Hosting

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Free Website Services

In any given week, we’ll hear something along the lines of “I’ll just go to one of those websites saying they will make my site for free” several times, and we just shake our heads. Free website services aren’t good enough, and here’s why:

Free Website Services Offer No Additional Value

Another way of putting it is that you get exactly what you pay for.

A basic set of instructions, some self-service “customizing”, and your cookie cutter website is out of the oven and onto the internet! Typically this is on an underpowered server, and eventually your free website service will try to sell you an overpriced hosting plan. And while that is pretty annoying, it isn’t as much of a problem as the fact that, while you may feel a sense of accomplishment setting up such a free website, it ultimately lacks the uniqueness and character required for a professional-looking web presence.

And while free website services may even offer guidance/support, they will not do any custom development work for you (unless you pay them, which means it is no longer a free website service after all). These services are inherently limited by either your own skill-set (in case you do not know how to code websites) or the system itself (which may not even allow custom HTML, for example).

The Correct Way To Launch a Website

Getting your feet wet with a free website service can be appropriate in some cases, such as hobby sites/personal blogs, and beginner tech students getting into web design for the first time. But for those of us seeking professional-looking, high quality sites with their own unique texture and branding, a web design firm should be consulted and utilized.

If that sounds like you, please contact us for a free consultation on how we can get your web presence off the ground and onto the internet!


Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Web Design

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Responsive Web Design

There are many different approaches to web design, itself a broad topic extending from such basic drudgery as page layout all the way to the farthest reaches of human creativity and aesthetics. From the pixel-perfect image alignments and framesets of the 1990s to the fully responsive layouts of today, practices and paradigms have shifted in countless ways, along with the underlying technologies which support them. This flux will continue well into the future, but for now, this list of ten key components of awesome web design serves as a rock-solid foundation on which every site should be built.

And of course, if you’d like assistance implementing these features on your site, we can help!

1. Responsive Web Design

Originally, there was only one device to support as far as websites went: a desktop CRT monitor running at 800×600 (or even 640×480!) resolution. And as far as web design and development went, that made things quite simple indeed! Alas, such simplicity is not meant to last. With the myriad ways a person may visit a site, be it on their PC, smartphone, or tablet, on an endless array of resolutions, it has become common for sites to display poorly for many people. Responsive Web Design fixes that problem.

As a rule, no matter the resolution or device with which a person visits a site, it should present itself in a consistent way. A good example of this can be found at responsivedesign.is. And it’s a great resource for studying how to implement Responsive Web Design, too!

2. Utilize HTML5 and the Latest Browser Technologies

With the advent of HTML5 and its widespread adoption by major browsers, a host of features have become possible (or in some cases, simpler to implement). Streaming audio and video, graphics acceleration, and large caches of local storage are all easily accessible. Leveraging these technologies provides a rich and rewarding user experience for your visitors. Read up on it at html5rocks.com.

3. Keep Backwards Compatibility

However, with all these shiny new technologies and browser capabilities, we sometimes forget that not everyone updates as soon as Google/Mozilla/Microsoft tells them to! Unless you want to alienate a large chunk of potential visitors, you need to provide backwards compatibility with older browsers. Luckily, HTML5 is inherently backwards compatible: if a feature is missing, it won’t break anything: it simply won’t work!

There are several ways to maintain backwards compatibile web design, but the key thing to remember is to utilize feature detection! When transitioning to HTML5 or the latest ECMAScript, remember to check first if the browser supports the new and improved method, and if not, leave your original code in as a backup! A good library for HTML, Javascript and CSS feature detection is Modernizr. If you are building a completely new site, you will have to implement things twice, but the extra work pays off in the end with happier visitors!

4. Balance Aesthetics and Performance

We all know that its fun to watch menus slide down and fade in, or have an email newsletter form that bounces into view after ten seconds. But having too many such visual “enhancements” actually decreases the performance of your site! A notorious example of this is parallax scrolling, which in a nutshell is an effect where several parts of the page scroll across at different speeds. While it can be beautiful, it usually ends up causing the page to load slowly and scrolling to visibly stutter.

Be cautious when adding pretty aesthetic animations, and remember that sometimes “less is more”. For a good example of web design with proper parallax scrolling, visit Stellar.js, or even our homepage!

5. Have a Concise Color Scheme

Sometimes you have to return to basics, and a good color scheme is as basic as it gets. A good web design will have 2-3 dominant colors and 3-4 secondary colors maximum. Everything else should be a variation on those colors, so that the eye is not overwhelmed. Not much else to say here, except that color‑hex.com is a great resource.

6. Optimize Images, CSS and JavaScript

You may have heard the term “minification” before, and it is something that every site should utilize. In the case of JavaScript, Google’s Closure Compiler is a great place to start. Minification can make your JavaScript files smaller (which saves on bandwidth costs and load times) and even speed up their execution (faster parallax and those pretty spinning newsletter forms!). CSS and Images can also be minified and compressed, respectively, to make your pages load faster. And with search engines getting more and more complex, this extra web design step can actually boost search rankings. Which leads us to…

7. Maintain a Solid SEO Foundation

Usually people think that SEO is the job of a specialist or a programmer, but a lot of SEO best practices have to do with layout and planning at the web design stage. Having an awesome website is useless if no one visits it, and the best way to gain new visitors is through successful organic searches on popular search engines.

Yoast has some great tips on building successful SEO practices into your web design.

8. Support Internationalization

So you have followed the above steps, and your site is really coming together. Excellent! But you realize that a large number of your new visitors are from foreign countries. Sure, they probably can read some English, but wouldn’t it be great if they could enjoy your content translated into their first language? The problem from a design perspective comes with right-to-left languages, like Arabic or Hebrew: a site is usually laid out assuming that text flows from left to right.

When designing your site, try to envision how it could be morphed to accept right-to-left languages in a natural-looking way, and develop the appropriate CSS and JavaScript to support that, preferably on the fly via AJAX or i18next!

9. Implement Printer-friendly CSS

Now it comes time to print out that lovely informational article on your site, except that it uses a full ink cartridge to print out only half the article! CSS can target the destination display, and a printer is considered a destination! Rather than have the familiar printer-friendly-page, have a printer-friendly CSS stylesheet in place, so that if a visitor prints your page, it auto-magically prints out the printer-friendly version!

10. Watch the Typesetting

A lot people will have heard of the   HTML entity, which is another way of putting a space character into an HTML page. They might use it to have multiple spaces in a row, since HTML documents ignore any adjacent spaces after the first. However, it has another use: proper typesetting! Take for example a long address, such as 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW Lincoln Room, Washington, D.C. 20006. On a mobile device, this line might wrap inappropriately between Lincoln and Room; it would be better to wrap the line earlier, just after NW, so that “Lincoln Room” is together on the next line. This can be achieved with   between Lincoln and Room, since putting   instead of a space instructs the browser to “never wrap on this space”. Essentially it makes “Lincoln Room” a single word. Proper placement of &bsp; is a small change that can make a big impact on the appearance of professional web design.

11. ???

So, have we hit on everything you feel is necessary to amazing web design? Let us know in the comments if you have a different opinion or another way to make your site awesome!

Or if you’d like assistance implementing these features on your site, contact us for a free consultation.


Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Security

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OpenSSL Lock

OpenSSL, the cryptography software library enabling SSL/TLS-related functionality for most of the world’s webserver software, announced recently that they would be releasing a new version of their software tomorrow, July 9th 2015, to address a high severity threat to systems using their software.

The details of the threat have not been made known to the public, but considering it has been rated as high severity, users of OpenSSL should immediately update their systems following the release of the patch. Not doing so could be disastrous, potentially leading to such hacker activity as denial of service attacks or remote code execution on affected systems. Typically, details on the methods used to exploit a high severity bug are released after a fix has been issued to users of the software, so time is of the essence tomorrow: update your systems quickly!


Posted on Leave a commentPosted in General

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