Tag: Nashville Web Design

Do You Have A Webmaster?

Do you have a Webmaster?

With modern websites becoming more and more sophisticated in both look and behavior the expectation that a standard web hosting company will take care of everything your website needs is simply not correct.  The game plan of hiring a web designer that builds a new website and then moves it to a hosting company to sit indefinitely is no longer a viable plan for you or your website. Today you really need a webmaster.

Nashville Web Design, Webmaster, Website Management

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WordPress Gutenberg & The Classic Editor

The new block editor, also known as Gutenberg, stands to change the way you create and update content on your WordPress site.

It’s likely you have experienced the classic WordPress editor. You might use it to post a blog, for instance. It’s also likely that you had to look up how to complete complex tasks like style changes, adding buttons or changing the background color. (You may have also asked your friendly agency for assistance.)

Managing Your Website, Nashville Web Design, Wordpress Classic Editor, Wordpress Guternberg Editor

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How Does Your Digital Profile Look?

Have you recently heard the term “Digital Profile”? it is becoming a key focus area for companies as well as individuals that provide services that are searched for on the internet. That means just about any company that operates today should be paying attention to their Digital Profile.

A Digital Profile as it sounds is a profile that has been establish online through your internet resources and usage.  Google is the best place I know of to check out your digital profile to get a feel for what people will see when they type your companies name.

Thanks to Google My Business (formerly Google+) we have really seen the development of the Digital Profile over the last 12-24 months. Google My Business includes Google Reviews, Google Maps & Directions, Google Search Results, hours of business, photos as well as links to your website. On mobile it is as powerful as it appears on a desktop and it can heavily influence whether a customer communicates with your company directly from google (e.g. calls you) or links to your website for further information.

So using Bear Web Design’s Digital Profile as a starting example lets look at some of the basic elements… (see our Digital Profile above)…

  1. Google Ad Words and Organic Information sit on the left hand side of the search page result. Adwords are an online advertising services by Googler where advertisters pay to display ads that are tied to key search terms and phrases. Organic search results are website listings on search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms.
  2. Google My Business sits on the right hand side and consists of photos, address & location, directions, website link, reviews, business hours (absolutely critical to being correct) and links for action – phone number to call, driving directions to come visit and website link to learn more about your business.
  3. Notice the Google Post that is under Google My Business (this is a new featured offered by Google allowing business owners to feed their content directly into their search results page! Google Posts will stay active for 7 days and I have seen some posts that receive 1000’s of views.
  1. Google Insights which shows you how many searches that your Google Digital Profile appears in including (Discovery) – those searching for your services or products but don’t know you directly and (Direct) – those that do search for you directly.

So if you haven’t checked out your Digital Profile it is definitely time to do so. It will be a critical part of your online success! And if you need some help managing and updating your digital profile please be sure to contact Bear Web Design!

Bear Web Design, Google Digital Profile, Nashville Web Design

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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.

Nashville Web Design, Responsive Website Design, Website Content

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Google Will Drive Traffic to Secure Websites With New Security Standards

So you are surfing the internet on a bright sunny day. The kids are playing in the back yard with Bucky the Golden Retriever and your wife is in the kitchen baking cookies. All is good with the world – if Norman Rockwell was around this could have been his next American Classic – “Dad On The Internet”…

You go to the same website you have been going to the for the last 3 years but as soon as you get there a big warning message takes over your screen “WEBSITE NOT SECURE”. Bang the Norman Rockwell scene vanishes from your home in a matter of seconds. The dog goes nuts and there is a burning smell coming from the kitchen as a shadow falls across your computer screen.

THE WEBSITE IS NOT SECURE – so what does that actually mean?

For the average user on the internet a warning that the website is not secure is the END OF THE SESSION on that website. It doesn’t matter if there is a good explanation or not for this warning – it simply stops the user in their tracks as the fear of what could happen simply supersedes any need to use a website.

For Google it will mean that the website is not using an encryption connection which in plain English means the session between your computer’s browser and the server where the website resides is potentially accessible to other parties who could access your valuable information (or not so valuable information) pending what you are doing on this website. Please note the word “potentially” and this potential risk could be high (OR) low pending where you are accessing the internet. If you are on an open public network you probably have more chance of your information being intercepted than on your business or home secured wi-fi. Keep in mind we have been accessing non-secure website since the web was invented – but of course with no warnings.

We have also used encryption on websites before in particular when we check out of an online shop. Several of the websites we manage are encrypted completely (no matter where you go on the site the data is encrypted) but quite a few websites we manager have secure server but it only engage it for checking out of a store or sending sensitive data. (as that is obviously the most important data to keep secure). Unfortunately this will not satisfy Google’s new plans.

So I need a Secure Server Certificate to Secure My Website?

Secure Server Certificates are small data files that digitally bind a cryptographic key to an organization’s details. When installed on a web server, it activates the padlock and the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser. (Boring as crap I know but you have all seen the Gold Padlock before indicating you were secure)… Currently unless a call goes to a Secure Server Certificate that has expired (or is not working correctly) you would not be told the website’s connection is not secure…

GOOGLE IS ABOUT TO CALL OUT ALL WESBSITES THAT ARE NOT SECURE!

Google Chrome Website Not Secure Message!

BUT that all changes in 2017 when Google will start calling out all websites that are not secure. That means ANY website that is not running secure server certificate on ANY page on that website is going to produce this warning flag. It is actually going to be chaos in my opinion as so many websites will not be secure according to Google. But regardless of the initial chaos I have no doubt that the users will stick to current behavior and not use any site that is flagged as not secure and no doubt any of the website that are fully secure will gain more traffic in the short term (as everyone else catches up).

Bear Web Design’s own website has been secure server certificate fully for several years now (actually setup in relationships to PCI Compliance – a credit card / banking requirement). Unfortunately there is an annual cost to having a certificate, updating the certificate to the website and then making the website fully secure in all calls. Based on what we see coming we will be contacting all our clients to identify those costs and the timing involved in adding the secure server certificate to their website before 2017 to make sure they don’t lose traffic (and maybe) gain some web traffic in 2017!

If you have any questions about this new initiate of Googles please contact me or call me at 615 504-6845 and I would be glad to discuss and provide help if  needed!

Google Will Drive Traffic to Secure Websites, Nashville Web Design, The Website Is Not Secure, Users End Sessions When Site is Flagged Insecure, What is Secure Server Certificate

What is a Plugin, a Module and a Component in Joomla?

Joomla Components, Modules and Plugins can have a great influence on your final website design. They can enhance your website design ranging from interesting content such as blogs to desired action items such as purchasing a product.  Some of you may already know what these additional pieces of Joomla are… But for those clients or future clients that are new to Bear Web Design and Joomla! lingo, here’s an introduction.

A component in Joomla! is the most complex add-on. This usually adds a completely new, or different, function to your site. A component handles data input and storage into the database.

Some Examples:

  • An Online Store System
  • A Blogging System
  • A Business Directory
  • An Advertising System
  • A Slideshow or Photo Gallery

A module in Joomla! is usually an add-on to the site that extends the functionality of another part of the system. It usually has fewer options and most of the time does not handle any storing of information into the database. A module usually supports a component by allowing more options on how to display data from the component.  Modules are the most commonly referred to in a design meeting environment at Bear Web Design.  Many modules can be customized to fit your color-scheme and style.

Some Examples:

  • A module that shows a visitor their account info, shopping cart, and or login/logout info. (Works with a store component.)
  • A recent blog area or featured blog listing. (Works with a blog component.)
  • An advertisement area that holds an advertising banner. (Works with an advertising system component.)
  • A mini calendar. (Works with an Events component.)
  • Customized Quick link buttons. (Works with Joomla! menus.)
  • A slideshow on the homepage. (Works with a slideshow component.)
  • Search Box (core Joomla!).

A Plugin in Joomla! will manipulate output already generated by the system. It typically does not run as a stand-alone element but retrieves data from other sources like content on your site.

Some Examples:

  • Search Plug-in (works with components, to make some of their data able to be searched within the entire site)
  • Simple Image Gallery – pulls images from a folder in a database and displays those images when called into an article.
  • Article Editor Plug-ins – allow for embedding of special media such as iframes, videos, etc.

It is also good to know that modules and components are great ways to provide interaction with your website visitors.

These items are important to know when starting or redesigning a Joomla! website. In a design meeting these will help express how you would like your site to look and function.

Content Management Systems., determine your success, Great Web Design, Joomla, Nashville Web Design

What is the Best Blogging Environment?

A question that is often asked in our EasyBlog class is “What is the best writing environment?”It was a topic of discussion again this week. So I thought it would be fun to investigate and here is what I found out.

Obviously, a question for the ages, there are a considerable number of thoughts on this subject. A Google search for “the best environment for writing” provided about 650 million results. The results included tips, tricks, scholarly advice and a number of great anecdotes. There is even software designed to improve the condition. It boasts a range of soothing backgrounds to fit your mood. Oh my…

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Peter likes to sit with a cup of coffee at his computer. He once told me that he likes to get up early, while it’s quite to write. He recently told me that he likes writing at a café. So I’m not so sure about the place, I think it’s just the coffee.

It appears that everyone has their own habits that put them in the “zone” for writing. However, I found that these habits fall into categories:

  • Setting: Generally the setting falls into two distinct groups – solitude or a bustling environment
  • Atmosphere: It appears to be a toss up between total quiet vs. music
  • Time: “Early morning” and “up all night” seem to be the two most popular times
  • Workspace: This is the category that has endless variations that include
    • an organized desk
    • a corner seat in a favorite café
    • at the kitchen table

When asked about the importance of the best writing environment, Stephen King described his workspace when he wrote Carrie and Salem’s Lot. He used a portable typewriter and set with a child’s desk on his lap wedged into the laundry room of his doublewide trailer. No wonder his stories are so tortured!

There were two common denominators of the successful writers that I researched.

  • Schedule: They all set a daily measurement for their work. The measurement was in length of time, words or pages.
    • Ernest Hemmingway limited his time to 500 words a day
    • Thomas Wolfe was a little more industrious at 1800 words a day.
  • Resources: They were all insatiable readers and chose like minded friends.

Famous writers are no different than the rest of us. They have all determined their best environment to write.Click on the Bear to take our survey!

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Nashville Web Design, Website Marketing

Analysis, Communication & Collaboration – A Key To Great Web Design!

Of all the areas of web design and development that I enjoy the most – our Web Design meetings really rank highly for the part they play in ensuring a great website result for the client.

The key to the success of those meetings starts with analysis & research before the meeting, which can include reviewing the client’s business and marketing models , their current website, and industry leading websites for comparison and samples.  Key communication actually starts in the sales cycle and should be in full “voice” – during the design meeting.  Clients should be engaged in identifying their needs, aims and outcomes and the whole team (client and designer) should establish a collaborating process to ensure a successful outcome.

Surely Your Web Designer’s Skills Would be More Important?

Without a doubt you have to have a great web designer to produce great websites. But an accomplished Web Designer is not only measured by graphic abilities. He or she must have a strong knowledge of the development tools the website will be using (and how they function) and must also have the ability to understand their client’s needs and requirements and to create a design that is results oriented.

There are many great web designers out there who can create the most eye catching web designs. But not all of those designs actually work for their clients. If the site looks good that will no doubt pass the first test of a new visitor  – the test of whether they like the website or not. But as soon as they start to look for the specific items and areas of interest this may quickly change from “Liking The Site” to “Leaving The Site”.  As my dear mother in Australia used to say “Peter – Looks Aren’t Everything” – in my case and the case of a successful website she would be right. (p.s. I do have a great personality!!!!)

Good Web Design Planning Starts with Analysis & Research!

We had two web design meetings planned for a Monday recently.  In order to ensure that myself and our Design Director Vicki Payne were ready for those meetings we spent around 1-2 hours preparing for each meeting. During the sales cycle we really focus on the business and marketing models of the clients, the desired results they want from the website, and their timeline and budget. In the design meeting we really start to hone in on the look and feel!

Preparing for our Design Meeting:

To prepare for design meeting my primary responsibility is to prepare an agenda for the meeting that ensures when we leave that meeting our Design Director has direction and clarity as to the design the client is seeking (the “look and feel” of the website). Although the design is now in the hands of our designer this process should remain a collaborative process.  The client will ultimately pick the design sample (or combination of) that they feel best represents them. This decision making keeps the client in the forefront of the design process.

Wouldn’t The Designer Know Best when it comes to Web Designs?

At Bear Web Design we have two of the best custom web designers in Middle Tennessee.  Vicki Payne our Design & Development Director has designed and developed over 150 great web designs over the last 10 years (plus hundreds of other sample designs).  She is clearly expert in her field – as is our junior designer, Dana Bryson, who joined Bear Web Design in 2010. Yet when we attend a design meeting with a new client we approach every design the same – analysis, research, business direction, and business and marketing models of the client. Those steps really help establish a great design plan, ensuring that it is never just “our opinion” that directs these meetings.

I am sure many small business owners have ended up with what they thought was a great looking website that 6 months down the track was deemed as non-functional. (or basically not working for them). If you have ever been involved in a web design project and you have been told “Don’t worry – our designer knows exactly what you need” – you probably need to REALLY WORRY!

Without a strong analysis of your business, how on earth can that designer really know what your business is about and what specific outcomes you are looking for with your website?  Pre-selecting a website template is a great example of how a website that only looks good on the surface is simply not the best option (because in all probability that template was never built for that client’s business in the first place).

Analysis – Starts in The Sales Cycle!

It is much more difficult for me to produce a proposal for a client without having the entire web project understood. The only way to understand a website development project is to have a full analysis of the business and marketing models of the client. There is no other way to do this but to ask questions and do research — including research on the client’s existing site and also similar sites in their industry. So when we have produced a proposal we have a complete timeline and pathway to designing our client’s new website. We understand the client’s business models and we understand the outcomes the client is looking for.

Design Meetings Focus On details

When we commence our design meeting we are really focusing our design on the details with a primary focus on the look and feel of the website. We must leave this design meeting with clear direction. To help show the techniques we use to accomplish this,  here is our standard agenda we use to help us really focus in on the details (with some comments to explain each area)…

  • Introduction – Specific Aim of Meeting – Identifying Look & Feel of Website(s)
  • Client’s Mission Statement – Primary Business & Marketing Models
  • Slogans – Logos – Identifying Demographics and Customer Base
  • Design Discussion – Website Look – Site Functionality – Web Site Areas
  • Color, Images (Photos), Logos, Font Style, Menus, Graphic Techniques
  • Additional Extensions, Components & Modules and any integrating 3rd Party Software
  • Social Media integration and interaction as well as the website interaction
  • Review of current website (likes, dislikes) and good industry examples (that we can learn from)…

Additional Questions – Next Step(s)

At the completion of the design meeting we have really established all the necessary information and direction for our designers to be able to produce design samples for our client. We do not actually start building the website until the client has signed off on the design through this process. Our designers then create and post  3-5 unique design samples in .jpg image format, which are the exact replica and size of a normal website.  This saves time and money in deciding the final design. To design the site and then change the design after development has begun would be inefficient and extremely costly.

Once the client has selected the final design we are ready to move forward with the actual web development. To a very large extent the success of the website has already been established and — don’t be mistaken — it has been established with analysis, research, communication & collaboration, and of course a great web designer!

Bear Web Design, Great Web Design, Keys to great Web Design, Nashville Web Design, Web Design Analysis, Web Design Collaboration, Web Design Communication, Web Design Meetings

Contact

Bear Web Design
2622 Bluefield Avenue
Nashville, TN 37214
(615) 504-6845


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