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Is Your Website Due for a Refresh? Here’s How to Tell

We understand that your website is more than just a digital presence; it’s a reflection of your brand, values, and offerings to the world. Over time, even the most well-crafted websites can benefit from a bit of polish and modernization. Is Your Website Due for a Refresh? As your trusted web design partner, we’re here to review your website and advise on updates, recommended for sites 3 to 4 years old.

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Experts in Ninja Forms

At Bear Web Design, we specialize in harnessing the potential of Ninja Forms to transform your website. Our experienced team knows Ninja Forms inside out. We’ll leverage its capabilities to create forms that align perfectly with your business goals.

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Bear Web Teams Up with Girls Who Code

Believe it or not, I can’t wait to spend the rest of the summer coding with high school students I haven’t yet met!

Over the last two weeks, I helped high school juniors and seniors code websites advocating topics they care about passionately. I facilitated a sisterhood of young women lifting each other in praise and graduating from the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program (GWC SIP) with new skills, newfound friendships, and innovative perspectives on their futures. And over the next 6 weeks, I will see another 60 students, from all over the world, take risks, be brave, and discover how great Computer Science can be.

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Girls That Code Visit Bear Web Design!

Girls that Code from Wilson County visited Bear Web Design in Nashville today to learn about the opportunities for programmers & developers in the 21st century! The girls are taught programming by web designer/developer Jennifer Folsom and were treated to pizza after their visit.

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Is It Time For A New Website?

You have a website that has been up and running for a number of years. In actual fact many organizations have had 2-3 generations of websites now a days. It looked great when the website was launched (they always do) but over the years it has become less and less of a focal point in your companies marketing plans. You don’t really know how much traffic is coming to the website (as the reports you used to get stopped coming) and the big part that bothers you is that you don’t seem to get any inquiries from your website any more…

Website technology and design has changed quite dramatically in the last 2-3 years. One of the biggest changes came with responsive design (mobile friendly websites). Responsive design is the process of designing a website that responds to the device the website is being viewed on (giving an optimum visitor experience).

Google really started pushing this technology around 2014 when they commenced listing website as “mobile friendly” that were optimized for a mobile device. In other words if someone was searching a service your company provided and your website came up in the search and was NOT mobile friendly google would clarify this – basically telling the user that this might not be a great experience. (SO basically don’t go to this website).  Since 2015 there are more mobile devices than desktops and that trend has continued to grow so bottom line is you can assume long term that half your traffic will be mobile based.

If your website is not responsive “Mobile Friendly” then it is time for a new website.

The next most critical aspect about your website is your design layout and home page content specifically. Today a prospect may give your website 5-10 seconds to establish whether you match  his/her needs (and that they like your website). A slideshow that showcases your company (4-5 slides) that include clear specific captions can go a long way to helping a first time visit quickly get a feel for what you have to offer. These slides should lead to more in-depth information if the visitor wants to find out more.  If photos are vibrant and really appropriate in those slide shows then you might just have a home run on your hands with a good design.

Besides the slideshow (the elevator pitch) you want to clarify what you do, where you are, and samples of your work (or services and products)…. We are Bear Web Design, we design websites, we are located in Nashville, TN and here is our portfolio of recent work.  And here is some action buttons or links for you to choose from (Contact Us, Call us) as well as links to more details about our company. But the bottom line is that if your home page cannot give me the most important facts and information about your company in a professionally graphic based design “quickly” then I will probably moving on to the next website.

If your website home page does not tell your companies story professionally, graphically, clearly and quickly then it is time for a new website.

Then comes your websites content. Content used to be a paragraph of “let me tell you about us” but content today is sophisticated, exciting and really focused on selling and getting your messages across. Multimedia is starting to dominate the content landscape and even if you are not ready for video productions yet great photographs are definitely within your reach today. (Big bold photos that really showcase you and tell your story).  The key to updating your content is to make sure it is current. If you had a key selling feature 3 years ago (new office, new renovations or a new factory) that information should not be a key promotion today. (Why because when the office doesn’t appear new or the renovation aren’t new trust will be lost and a prospect may feel like they were misled. So old content must be updated.  Establish what your primary services are today and expand on them with text, photos and multimedia. Another key area that I look for a website is “Meet Our Team” which should include photos, bios, and background. I want to know who I will be potentially meeting with and working if I move forward with your company so please don’t have “Contact Us” with no location, no people, and no intimacy and expect to get good results.  With google being so location centric today it is crazy not to promote where you are. People really think locally today when searching the internet.

If your website content is out of date and your website does not do a great job showcasing your products and services as well as your team and location then it is time for a new website.

And if you do decide it is time to look at designing a new website we would love to help you! Let’s have a chat about your company’s website and what we could achieve together. Combine add-on internet marketing items such as e-NEWS, Blogging, and Social Media and your website could truly become the focal point of your companies marketing efforts.

Mobile Website Usage Continues To Grow!


If you are like me, in the last 24 months or so you most likely have started using your mobile phone more and more for browsing the Internet.  Larger mobile screens, voice recognition software, and better wi-fi access are just a few of the advances that have made this possible. 

The usage stats that I have found support this tremendously. Approximately 15% of all web traffic in 2013 has been mobile.  I see no slowing down in this growing segment as the phones keep getting easier to use while more and more websites are becoming responsive (mobile friendly) websites.

It used to be for e-mail (and a phone call)!

My first 2 smartphones were Blackberry’s and their primary purpose was phone and e-mail. On my last Blackberry I started taking photos and sending them thru e-mail. That was great and it certainly gave me a level of connectivity with customers, family and friends that I really enjoyed and used.  When I was travelling to Australia it really become obvious to me how valuable a tool this was.

I didn’t really start actively using my mobile phone for a web browser until I had upgraded to an Android (in 2011) when I started reading the news on my phone  (in the bathroom  – and let me tell you it was just as enjoyable as a newspaper!).

We started developing mobile websites around 2010 when we saw initial demand for mobile sites. Creating the sites generally required separate templates from traditional desktop websites (and lots of development work to make the sites work) but it really wasn’t as clear back then what people would actually use mobile websites for. Today every website we produce is responsive (which includes a mobile friendly version) and this is now a standard with Bear Web Design.

SO what do people use Mobile Websites for?

The answer seems to be more and more obvious today – any web based task that can be accomplished on the mobile in a gnerally short period of time (and without the hassle of turning on a computer and finding a suitable work location). Of course this is my definition but here are some of the things folks now do on mobile sites:

  • Reading, Viewing and updating Content (News, Social Media, Entertainment)
  • Social Media Engagement (Facebook, Twitter & Google+)
  • Personal calendars and contact info (remember back when Day Planners were so popular?)
  • Online Banking and Online Shopping
  • Browsing QR Codes (in areas such as Real Estate and Retail Shopping in particular)
  • General information searching (Just like we do on a normal desktop with google
  • Maps and directions (locating nearest shops and restaurants)
  • E-mail (Voice activation which makes it even easier) & Phone

I am sure there is a lot more to this list, but the reality is if I can do something on mobile – say, transfer money from one bank account to another while sitting in the living room watching TV,  versus getting up and getting my laptop and turning it on letting it boot up and then having it sit awkwardly in my lap “OH THE ABSOLUTE INCONVENIENCE OF IT ALL!” then frankly I am going to use my mobile. Its more convenient and ultimately easier to do and based on that I suspect we are all going to continue to use our mobiles more and more in the future.

Banking Just Got Simpler with CedarStone Bank’s New Responsive Website

Over the last few months, CedarStone Bank has been working on a new responsive designed website. A responsive website is a website that is mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop friendly and provides an optimum user experience based on the device with which the website is being used.

With the significant increase in mobile and tablet usage over the last 12 months, the need to provide easy website usage (not just access) has never been greater, and CedarStone Bank’s new responsive website site provides a great experience for all website visitors.

The website was custom designed and developed by local company Bear Web Design under the direction of John B. Bryan, CedarStone Vice President, Business Development Officer and Tina Winfree, CedarStone Senior Vice President and Operations Manager.

“The entire CedarStone Bank team is excited about the launching of our new and improved website. is easier to navigate while offering the latest and greatest online banking applications. The responsive design makes it attractive and manageable from most any mobile, laptop or tablet device,” commented Bryan.

“The website project was a product of our bank’s ABC program. In July of 2012 we started a program designed to train and mentor CedarStone Bank employees in becoming aspiring bankers. The Aspiring Bankers of CedarStone (ABC) program was designed to educate, enlighten and develop employees to be well-rounded banking professionals as well as to empower them to make our bank better,” he added.

Incorporating the corporate brand and colors of CedarStone Bank with an exciting array of images and data display widgets, the CedarStone Bank website comes to life with a prominent slideshow and rich content, friendly navigation, and a direct and easy login to mobile banking. A new feature of the website is CedarStone Bank News and Blog, which integrates and publishes directly to social media, keeping customers connected with the latest website news and information in their favorite social media.

We Are Responsive!

Desktop Laptop Responsive Website CedarStone Bank

Laptop and Desktop view gives visitors the full experience, with easy to use navigation and lots of key information accessible from the home page. You can find a branch location easily and our contact forms integrate with Google Maps, allowing you to even get driving directions while staying on the website!

Tablet and Mobile Responsive Website - CedarStone Bank

Mobile & Tablet views will really show you the advantages of responsive design. While launching a great image-based website is becoming the vogue (with large image backgrounds and slideshows becoming more common), the fact is, if that site isn’t easily accessible in a mobile or tablet experience, then a larger and larger user segment base is being overlooked and ignored.

ALWAYS SECURE – security remains CedarStone Bank’s top priority, with the highest standards of website security and protocols being implemented.

SO, like never before, Banking Just Got Simpler with CedarStone Bank’s New Responsive Website.

We look forward to seeing you online and at a CedarStone Bank branch soon!

The Web Development Phase

The Web Development Phase

The Web Development phase is the primary work phase when creating a new website. The design “look” of the website has been established in the Design Phase and with the client’s approval it is time to actually build the website.

When developing a website the development phase is the most time intensive. It is also a critical phase when you consider that great designs with poorly developed websites don’t produce great results…

But I thought the “look” was the most important aspect of your website?

It sure is an important aspect of your website – without a great looking website you really reduce your ability to keep new web visitors on your website – BUT no matter how good the website looks if it does not function well, if it does not have easy navigation, if key information and content are not available or if the DREADED “Coming Soon – Please Check Back” – is sitting on half your menu items – then your website might as well say – “Please go to a better website – one that has spent the time to get the information you are looking for online!”

Man that’s brutal – Can’t you just add information “after the site goes live”?

Clients and prospects alike do not enjoy wasting their time and seeing web pages “with great intentions… coming soon”.  It is a royal waste of their time and they will generally leave the website and not come back (now talk to me about brutal – you just lost a prospect!).  So it should be obvious why having a full understanding and game plan for your web content is one of the key starting points of developing a great website.  This includes establishing the menu items of the website that requires both the web development company and the client to participate and focus on.  The core content of the website should have been established in the sales phase and definitely finalized in the design phase. It simply is not good enough to decide you will update and add content after you have launched the website.

A good development company will work closely with the client in this phase and will encourage and motivate the client to launch good content.  Again It should clearly be established in the design phase what is the most important items (and content) required to produce the results the client is looking for. It simply doesn’t make sense not to produce key required content for the website during this phase.

Good Content takes Hard Work!

Today there are a lot of organizations that are now in the “Web Design” business. There is the old fashion webmaster (becoming a past relic to some extent if you can still find him or her), then there is the small web design & development companies (like BeareWare) and then you have the major companies such as AT&T, Network Solutions and GoDaddy to name a few who are now offering website design services. But no matter which company is developing your website the responsibility of content always rests on the shoulders of the client.

You will see this on most web contracts and descriptions – “Client to provide content”. Easy to say but  NOT really easy to produce. During the sales phase the prospect will inevitably hear “….and then we add your content” – MAGIC – and it includes a FREE CAR WASH! But the reality is good web content takes hard work and a good design and development company must have a good plan and solid methods to assist the client during this phase.  And as can be seen by the development check list below there is a lot of ground to cover and the importance of team work is paramount to producing an outstanding website:

Web Development Checklist:

Approved Design:  The “look” has been approved by the client in the design phase.
Route Domain:  Your domain ( must be pointed to your new website.
Setup Hosting:  Your website must sit on a web server” commonly called the host.
Install CMS:  Development starts with CMS Website installed on the “Web Server”.
Integrate Design:  The graphic templates are integrated into your CMS Website.
Setup Menu:  Menu options and functions should be clearly defined in design phase.
Customize Software:  Fine tune CMS Software to optimize the look and functionality.
Add Web Content:  Adding content to the site which really brings the website to life.
Add-On Systems: Add-on systems include Online Shops, Calendars or Photo Galleries.
Add 3rd Party Software: Real Estate Listings, Travel Agent Tools or RSS Feeds.
Setup e-Mail:  Setting up your e-mail accounts (with your domain brand).
FTP requirements: FTP Drop Box for uploading & downloading files thru your website.

Wow – impressive check list – what happens if you can’t get to all of this?

We end up with a website that is not going to produce the best results. So to be frank there is not an option to not complete all aspects of the development from our point of view.  But I have to say I do see quite a lot of websites online that have not completed all tasks listed above. It just looks poor on the company who owns the website – it makes them look Incompetent. That’s not a good message to be sending prospects.

I think this really helps identify the commitment that must be made by a client when they participate in the development of their new website. As stated above it’s a lot of work and the best results are ALWAYS when the web design company and the client collaborate closely during this process. When you look at the list above website owners should also be very cautious of companies that “tout” web design as an add-on “bundled” product (but fail to mention web development or state that “you” can setup your own web pages – cause its SOOO EASY!).

Web Design as an Add-On Product?

There are many companies that have become “Web Design” companies overnight. It is a happening industry and let’s face it everybody needs a website. It doesn’t surprise me at all that large corporations have now added “Web Design” as an additional product to sell.  Some of these large companies are selling internet access and online advertising and then additionally offer web design as an upgrade to their “bundled” package. Other companies offer web design as an additional package to domain purchases and hosting. If you review our web development check list above I think it should become obvious that someone is going to have to a lot of work once the “Web Design” phase is complete.

FOLKS – web design and development is not like turning your phone on or taking out an advertisement. It’s a LOT OF WORK that requires great planning, management and implementation to ensure success.  And just to add some food for thought here the cost of “Web Design” from these large companies is a monthly fee (usually tied into other packages) so ultimately the client will be forced to bundle multiple services (for many years) and may very well have to maintain the bundle to keep the website online. Your website is just way to important to ever be tied to any other product or bundled service!

And Just To Verify – Do I Need To Understand All Aspects of the Development?

Technology is complex just like investing and the best advice I have heard about investing is don’t ever invest in something you don’t understand. I really see an analogy to that statement with technology.  So when you have a look at the development list there certainly may be a few items that you may not be familiar with. Some of it is tech “stuff” – the core basics that come with each website – such as the domain name, the host, and website software such as a CMS System.  Most of these items can be explained in very easy laymen terms – and there is nothing in the development list that fits in the “magic” category.  Probably one of the more complex items in the list is the actual customizing the CMS software (which is the discipline computer programming).

To elaborate your CMS website is a computer program written with 1000’s of lines of computer code which actually is what makes your CMS website so powerful. Quite often in developing a new client site BeareWare will make some coding changes to the software to help the customization. Most of the time it’s nothing major and generally might be a cosmetic appearance or a functional behavior. But it is a part of why the development phase is important.

Now – If you can understand the last paragraph you just read in this blog – then you are fully capable of understanding the development phase. And as we constantly remind our clients – ask questions – then ask some more questions. It is very important that our clients are very comfortable with the development process – we hope to keep them as customers for the next 20 years so their education and understanding of this process is paramount.

So at the Completion Of Web Development Is A Great Website!

Well just about! As you can see there are a lot of pieces to the development phase. At minimum the website is developed over 30 days (longer pending the size of the project) – and you have multi-disciplined persons working on the website (the graphic designer, the programmer and developer, and the project leader) – so it really serves to have a final review with the client after the development phase is completed to do some final fine tuning before going live.

And being a CMS website this should include a training session (and a training manual) combined with that final review. Although we are at the finish line of the project the final review and training are an important part of the process.  The client is also much more “educated” about their website at this stage of the project and many of their questions and comments during the review and training session really make the launching of the website an exciting event!

After all that work your company’s professional website is live and ready for action on the World Wide Web – it just doesn’t get any better than that!

Cheers Mate,

Peter Beare – Webmaster
Interview with a Webmaster – Full Blog – Click Here

Send us your comments and questions – Click Here

Peter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included strategic website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still primarily a webmaster. And this is “Interview with a Webmaster.”