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Insights on Internet Marketing & Web Design

5 Ways A New Website Design Will Improve Your Business

Website Redesign Increases Website Awesomeness

  1. Instant Credibility Upgrade
    Would you trust a company with an unprofessional website? One that hasn’t been updated since 2003? It’s questionable, especially if this is your first impression of that company. Make sure your website is not outdated. A redesign might go a long way to increase your company’s credibility.

    Add: affiliation and accreditation logos, testimonials, video, case studies and product demos to your website to improve credibility.
  2. Blow Your Competitors Out of the Water

    If you have a rocking website and your competitor doesn’t, you gain a competitive advantage. Is it a cure all? No. But there are many factors that influence why we buy or prefer one service over another. The impression you put out to the world through your website can make a difference in your prospects buying decision.

    Outdo your competitors by having: Professional, fast loading, search-engine friendly design , “don’t make me think” usability, customer focused copy, lots of relevant and free content.

  3. Be Memorable
    What will make you stand out from a sea of competitors? Here are a few things: Give away free relative content on your website. Be authentic and generous through your website. Make the customer’s experience on your site ridiculously simple and enjoyable.
  4. Build Better Customer Relationships
    Do you allow your customers to connect with you from your site via social media integration? Do you ask your customers for their opinion through a quick website survey? Do you make it easy for them to contact you from your website? Do you stay in contact with them through a enewsletter subscription, offering additional services, and discounts? If not these are some things to consider in your next redesign project.
  5. Make Your Business More Efficient

    Are you getting the most out of your site? Do you have FAQs, extensive product and services information and FAQs posted to your website? This can dramatically cut down phone and email inquiries. Could your company benefit from having web ticketing functionality. Is sufficient contact information posted to your website. Do you give several ways for your customers to get in touch with you? Get creative. Think of ways your website can help you be more efficient and include that in your redesign project.
Posted in Web Design | Leave a comment

December 2011 Wallpaper featured on Smashing Magazine

December 2011 Desktop Wallpaper

I’m honored to have my work featured amongst this month’s winners for Smashing Magazine’s Desktop Wallpaper Calendar series. “The Little Things” is a wallpaper made to represent the “Holiday Spirit” in a less commercial, and more inspirational way by illustrating 150+ little things that mean everything.

Downloadable on smashingmagazine.com or below ( less compressed) in the following resolutions:

With Calendar:
1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, 2560×1440

Without Calendar:
1024×768, 1280×800, 1280×1024, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, 2560×1440

Can’t read the 150+ things in the Wallpaper’s background?

Here’s the list:

  1. Accept
  2. Accommodate
  3. Advocate
  4. Affection
  5. Alertness
  6. Alleviate
  7. Amaze
  8. Amuse
  9. Apologize
  10. Applaud
  11. Appreciate
  12. Ask
  13. Attentiveness
  14. Awareness
  15. Beam
  16. Best Wishes
  17. Birthday Wishes
  18. Bravery
  19. Brighten
  20. Carefulness
  21. Caring
  22. Celebrate
  23. Check-in
  24. Cheer
  25. Cherish
  26. Chuckle
  27. Closeness
  28. Commemorate
  29. Commend
  30. Complement
  31. Composure
  32. Condolences
  33. Confide
  34. Confirm
  35. Congratulate
  36. Connect
  37. Consciousness
  38. Consider
  39. Converse
  40. Courage
  41. Courtesy
  42. Credit
  43. Cuddle
  44. Cultivate
  45. Delight
  46. Determination
  47. Diligence
  48. Discernment
  49. Donate
  50. Educate
  51. Elevate
  52. Email
  53. Embrace
  54. Empathize
  55. Empower
  56. Encourage
  57. Endorse
  58. Endurance
  59. Enlighten
  60. Esteem
  61. Fascinate
  62. Fearlessness
  63. Follow-up
  64. Forgive
  65. Fortitude
  66. Foster
  67. Friend
  68. Friendliness
  69. Friendship
  70. Give
  71. Gratitude
  72. Grin
  73. Guidance
  74. Handshake
  75. Harmony
  76. Heart
  77. Heed
  78. High Five
  79. Hold Hands
  80. Honor
  81. Hug
  82. Humility
  83. Improve
  84. Include
  85. Inspire
  86. Invite
  87. Invoke
  88. Kindness
  89. Kiss
  90. Kudos
  91. Laugh
  92. Listen
  93. Love
  94. Mindfulness
  95. Modesty
  96. Moxie
  97. Note
  98. Notice
  99. Nurture
  100. Offer
  101. Patience
  102. Peace
  103. Perseverance
  104. Phone
  105. Play
  106. Please
  107. Please & Thank You
  108. Poise
  109. Politeness
  110. Praise
  111. Presence
  112. Prudence
  113. Radiate
  114. Recognize
  115. Recommend
  116. Relate
  117. Resolve
  118. Respect
  119. Responsiveness
  120. Restraint
  121. Revere
  122. Reward
  123. Savor
  124. Sensitivity
  125. Sentiment
  126. Serenity
  127. Serve
  128. Share
  129. Smile
  130. Steadiness
  131. Strengthen
  132. Support
  133. Sustain
  134. Sympathize
  135. Tact
  136. Talk
  137. Teamwork
  138. Temperance
  139. Tenacity
  140. Thoughtfulness
  141. Tolerance
  142. Tranquility
  143. Treasure
  144. Understand
  145. Unify
  146. Value
  147. Vitality
  148. Well Wishes
  149. Wisdom
  150. Wish One Joy
  151. Zeal
  152. Zest
Posted in Company News, Wallpaper | Leave a comment

I don’t care how ugly it is just as long as it sells

This statement was made a fellow web professional in an industry podcast. This statement makes me cringe. This and a series of misstated, misguided advice from this podcast leads me now take everything they say with a grain of salt. To make this statement implies that web design and ROI are mutually exclusive. They are not.

I’m not saying that a website needs to be “pretty” or should be designed just for design sake. Web design needs to support the function of the website. It needs to say “Hi, we’re awesome and we’re professional. You can trust us.” and then fade into the background as the user navigates through the site. The effect of design should be subconscious. It should influence user behavior by supporting their goals and the goals of the website. Design should help lead the user to complete whatever task they came to the website to do.

I think there’s some misconception that designers just want to make things “look pretty”. A good designer understands the purpose of design: to support and influence user behavior on a website in a helpful manner, to gain the trust of the user, to help introduce and orient the user to the website and then move quietly out of their way, at least consciously. Subconsciously, good design makes friends with the user and supports their every move. In short, good design leads to a good user experience, which leads to increased ROI.

Posted in Web Design | Leave a comment

Internet Marketing: 2 Classic eBooks from Seth Godin

A web designer or Internet marketer’s blog is never complete without at least one post that references Seth Godin. Seth Godin is a marketing expert with a unique and captivating writing style. Short authoritative sentences, written in a conversational tone, Seth makes you feel like you are getting insider information. His marketing advice is a stream of revolutionary ideas, and at the same time just plain common sense.

If you are designing a new website or blog or trying to improve results from your current online presence. Here are a 2 classic eBooks from Seth Godin you are sure to find useful.

  1. Knock Knock – Seth Godin’s Incomplete Guide to Building a Web Site that Works

    Excerpt: “Here’s our first big rule: View your site as a series of steps, steps that go from a stranger clicking on an ad, all the way to a satisfied customer telling ten friends. Figure out which step is least efficient, and focus all your energy on making it more efficient. Measure everything!”
  2. Who’s There? – Seth Godin’s Incomplete Guide to Blogs and the New Web

    Excerpt: “People come to me all the time, believing that if I would just link to them, just highlight them, they’d be unstoppable. Alas, this isn’t true. What’s true is that if you write something great, and do it over and over and over again, then you’ll be unstoppable. Whether or not someone helps you.”
Posted in Internet Marketing | Leave a comment

Featured New Haven Web Design Company

352 Media Group has put together quite a directory of web design companies in the United States. As a New Haven web design company, I’ve been featured on the New Haven page. Click the graphic below to view the listings and vote for your favorite New Haven firm. Here’s a hint. It starts with a “W” : ) Web Design
Company

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Web Design: Five elements for designing a successful website homepage

What defines a “successful” homepage?

A homepage should to introduce users to your company and direct them to the most appropriate content in terms of the information they are looking for and the content you want them to see. The goal of your homepage is to start the conversion process for those who enter your site from there. Whether you are a business owner or professional concerned about your company website, or a web designer offering web design services, here are five elements to consider for designing a successful homepage:

  1. Strong Identity
    Visually this means displaying your logo and brand name clearly, and using graphics or photos that communicate your brand promise. Having a strong identity also includes providing a brief statement defining who you are, what you do, how you do it and who you serve.
  2. Prominent Call to Action buttons
    What is the main action you want the user to take on your website? Is it to contact you for more information? Download a demo? Sign up for a newsletter? This is the button that will lead the user to complete that task. Having effective, attention grabbing call to action buttons prominently displayed on your web page, encourages the user to click through to the next step in your conversion process.
  3. Highlighted Teaching Content
    If you have white paper(s), reports, product tour, video demo, resources page, or a blog, you should use some real-estate on your homepage to highlight the teaching content that will be most relevant to your users. Teaching content promotes awareness of issues important to your users. Include a link or explanation on how your company helps resolve these issues within the teaching content when appropriate.
  4. Social Media Links
    Give user additional ways to connect with your company online via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, or other social media platform.
  5. Clear Direct Navigation to the Following:
    • Information about your company
    • Information about your products and services
    • Information that builds credibility and trust (e.g. customer lists, customer testimonials, customer reviews, awards, affiliations, and recognitions)
    • Teaching Content (e.g. white paper(s), reports, product tour, video demo, resources page, blog)
    • Internal Search functionality (for larger sites and blogs)
    • Contact Information

Including these elements on your homepage will help the user find what they are looking for and help shape a positive perception and preference for your company offering.

Posted in Web Design | Leave a comment

Be Original on Twitter!

I wanted to take a couple of bullet points from my last blog post on Twitter and talk about them a little bit more here. Today’s subject: Tweeting Originality. It’s important not to sound like ‘everyone else’ on Twitter, to be original, be a thought leader, if you want your tweets to be followed, read, passed along and acted upon. Here’s a couple of examples.

Share relevant and informative links but also include your insight on them.

Sharing resources shows commitment to your audience’s empowerment. Sharing your insight on those resources, adds pertinence and personalization to the tweet. Tweeting and retweeting links without incite is lazy. It says, “I’m too busy to bother, but here’s a link to a blog post that I may, or may not have even read myself.” Not the message you want to send out to your followers. Adding even a little of insight with a resource link goes a long way to validate it and add some originality to the tweet. Even better, share a link to a resource, that you wrote yourself – your latest blog post.

Share your own quotes or insights

Although it’s very easy and tempting to share a quote by someone famous ( I know, I’ve done it!) It’s much more powerful to share your own quotes and insights. Two people I follow who are masters at this are @gitometer and @stevepavlina Gitomer even goes so far as to brand his quotes with #gitomer.

It may be hard at first to come up with your own quotes, but spending a little time on this will help you to become a better writer and help you to think differently. Challenge yourself! You may be surprised at what your capable of.

Posted in Social Media Marketing | Leave a comment

Twitter for Business: What do I tweet?

There’s a HUGE difference between social media and business social media. What you say on your personal Twitter account may not be appropriate for your business account. Your audience is different. Your business Twitter audience may not be too interested in your daily mundane ramblings, even though your friends may love it.

So you are left with the question: What do I tweet?

To answer succinctly, you should tweet messages of value.

Not sales pitches. Not what you had for breakfast (unless it has something to do with your business), but messages that will add value to your core audience. Messages that are memorable, inspire action, and are truly helpful to your followers. What this means to you will vary largely based on your industry.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Share relevant and informative links but also include your incite on them
  2. Share your own quotes or insights
  3. Share links to your blog posts, pictures, or other web link about your company
  4. Share industry tips
  5. Post book, movie, business, or other recommendations
  6. Ask a question relevant to your business that will ignite conversation
  7. Inform people of your upcoming events
  8. Post a relevant community event
  9. Respond to a mention
  10. Mention someone else (welcome them to Twitter. Congratulate, promote or thank them.)
  11. Answer someone’s question on Twitter
  12. Post a promotion or link to a promotion that will save people money

It’s important to keep in mind, it is a two way conversation. Interact with your participants. Don’t be a social spammer or broadcaster of “Me” based messages. Don’t always talk about you. It’s really all about them.

Your audience may have a hundred or more tweets flowing through their feed every day. Add value. Avoid being meaningless. Have your tweets stand out in a sea of noise.

Posted in Social Media Marketing | Leave a comment

13 Reasons Why Your Company Should be on Twitter

By now I am sure you have heard of Twitter. Just to recap: Twitter is a free micro blogging platform that allows you to update a group of “Followers” with, news, information, anything really, in 140 characters or less at a time.

Twitter is a fantastic opportunity for business owners to interact directly with a very targeted audience, in a highly personalized way. It allows your business to go beyond the reach of traditional print and TV advertising, and your website, not through marketing or selling to your audience, but by creating real relationships with your audience through Twitter.

If you are still wondering if your business should be on Twitter, here are 13 reasons to consider:

  1. Twitter allows you to get involved in conversations happening about your business in real time while its happening.
  2. Proactively find and create real relationships with potential customers using Twitter.
  3. Nurture relationships with current customers using Twitter.
  4. Network with other businesses in your field or community.
  5. Discover new products, services, and blog posts that may be beneficial to your company.
  6. Transition marketing efforts from slowing and ineffective traditional media to Twitter.
  7. Establish or strengthen your brand using Twitter, in a short amount of time, with no hard cost.
  8. Connect with otherwise inaccessible business leaders.
  9. Your potential customers and your competition are on Twitter, or will be soon.
  10. Lead people to your website from Twitter.
  11. Keep up to date with what your competition is doing and what their audience is saying on Twitter.
  12. Turn dissatisfied customers into advocates by addressing their tweets in real time.
  13. Be a thought leader, influencer, and add genuine value to others using Twitter, and in turn, be seen as a trusted resource by those who “follow” you.

The takeaway is this: Twitter, and other social media tools are becoming widely and rapidly adopted by the business community and consumers. The conversation is happening. Your participation in it could be very beneficial for your company, while your lack of participation, will definitely not be, and may even be detrimental to your business.

Are you ready to get started? Great! Not sure what to tweet? There are a few ideas, I will cover in the next blog post, so stay tuned…

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Search Engine Optimization: Basic On-Page SEO

Search engine algorithms change. What’s important today may not be important tomorrow. If you review the latest search ranking factors survey over at SEOMOZ you may find that SEO professionals sometimes have differing opinions on what factors they think are important, versus what is less important or not important at all. However what follows, are some of the top basic on-page SEO considerations I feel most would agree with, and have stood the test of time thus far.

  • Keyword in title element/tag: Some argue location of the keyword within the title tag doesn’t matter. Some say it should be close to the beginning. I agree with the latter. I believe the title tag is the most important on-page SEO factor but it needs to be supported by other factors considered on the page.
  • Keyword in H1 tag: The most important text tag to optimize in my opinion. Should also come first if possible.
  • Keyword rich content: There used to be a specific “keyword density” percentage, page optimizers would shoot for. That’s a tad outdated now. The general rule I follow is to use keywords as much as possible, where it makes sense to do so, without being spammy.
  • Bulleted lists containing keywords: In written text, bulleted list usually contain important information. This basic idea hold true for the web, so search engines give bulleted lists higher consideration.
  • Keywords used in strong, em, H2, H3: Although the H1 tag has the highest weight, the use of these other text formatting tags will also tell the search engines that the keyword is important.
  • Keyword rich anchor text: Keyword rich anchor text (specifically for the exact phase) on both links pointing internally and externally are given more weight by the search engines. Be sure to take advantage of every opportunity to link internally throughout your website. It helps spiders crawl your site and may help to determine link authority.
  • Short keyword rich url string: If your url is short and contains your keywords, there is a strong chance your site is going to rank higher in the search engines. Search engines may also give more weight to a keyword rich url string, however, stuffing website domain names and url strings with keywords can seem rather spammy. I believe a careful mix of a branded domain name with relevant descriptive url strings may be the best approach.

These factors are the main on-page elements I consider when I do search engine optimization on a webpage. Of course there are many other factors to consider on-page and off. It’s a highly customized process so general advice, will have caveats. Overall, making these considerations when you are building a webpage or writing content for a web page will keep you on the right track and may alone improve your search engine rankings.

Posted in Search Engine Optimization | Leave a comment
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