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Design It Blog

RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN: Is Your Website Getting Left Behind?

Julia O'Reilly - Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In case you didn’t hear about Google's announcement for April 2015, yes, it’s true...  Google announced early 2015 that they would be boosting web browser support for websites that are mobile-friendly. Google proceeded with that action in April.

 “In the USA, 94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones. “
— Google Webmaster’s Mobile Guide

Both Pew Research Center and the Nielsen Report post data on the exponential growth of smartphones and phone apps since 2011. Like it or not, more of us are using smartphones for general information on the web and for information about local goods and services.  That trend is not only here to stay, it's growing.

What does this mean for your website?

For many of us, myself included, staying visible on the web means converting our websites to mobile-friendly usage.

The term "mobile-friendly" has been completely redefined in the last two years, along with development of the technology that runs it.

The brutal truth is: if your website is more than two years old, it is likely a dinosaur from the recent era when most people were using the internet from desktop computers.

Can people still see your site?
  Yes.  Can people still use it? Maybe, but perhaps not so easily.

So what to do?

1. Make your website easy for your customers to use.
2. Make sure you can measure effectiveness.
3. Use responsive web design.

“Responsive web design” means that the page is easy to use and adapts itself whether the user is on a desktop computer, tablet, or mobile phone – the display adjusts or “responds” according to the screen size.

A desktop version of a site might be difficult to view and use on a mobile device. 

(Images courtesy Google)

A version that's not mobile-friendly requires the user to pinch or zoom in order to read the content. Users find this a frustrating experience and are likely to abandon the site.

A mobile-friendly version is readable and immediately usable.

“Can I just revise my existing site? It’s not that old!”

Short answer: No. We really need to start from scratch, due to the changes in technology.

The good news is that you probably can use your existing content, and certainly your product and customer databases.

If you want to get a jump on the early-bird discount, take advantage of our Responsive Site Upgrades Special

Contact us today for more information, and look for announcements soon.

Honestly, I'm in the same boat.  So I'm busy on a new responsive, mobile-friendly website for the Studio.  We'll be rolling it out in September so stay tuned. 


Social Media, Your Way

We're creating a new department for Social Media Marketing.  Need help understanding your Facebook or Twitter account?  Know you 'should' be doing something, but who has the time?  We'll have resources available for you.


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(We respect our customers' privacy and never ever sell, share or trade your contact information.

How To Choose The Best Ever Domains, Part 2

Julia O'Reilly - Thursday, April 11, 2013

Part of choosing a good domain is getting accurate information, and knowing a few terms. Here is some information to get you started.

Mini-Glossary of Domain Termsweb graphics by Julia O'Reilly, ".com"

URL

Uniform Resource Locator

The address bar in your web browser where you see http://www.mysite.com.

TLD         

Top-level domain (for example in www.mysite.com: .com is the TLD, mysite is the second-level domain, and www is the third-level domain)

examples:  .com, .gov, .edu, .org, .net, .info, .mobi

ccTLD

TLD with a country code

examples:  .ca (Canada), au.(Australia), or .uk (United Kingdom)

InterNIC

Internet Network Information Center (aka Inter Network Information Center)

Internet governing and dispute resolution body in the U.S. Department of Commerce. InterNIC is a good source for a fast, effective search on domains.

If you're up for a little light reading about registrars, the domain name system and its history, you'll find some interesting intel if you travel more deeply into their website.  InterNIC is licensed to ICANN. 

ICANN

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, operates the InterNIC web site.

AJAX

Asynchronous JavaScript and XML

Translated from the Geek, AJAX is a widely used web browser technology that delivers better, faster and more interactive web and web information applications.  In short, with AJAX apps you can get more and better information faster, in a way that's easier to actually use.

Registrar

A domain name registrar is an ICANN or national ccTLD accredited company who has the authority to register domain names. Registrars are competitive retailers of domain names.  This means you can shop around for the best offers.


Best Registrars & Lookups

InterNIC:  list of accredited registrars
DomainTools:  good lookup tool, also offers domain registrations
WHOis.net: good lookup tool

Domain Tools

Domain selection tools allow you to search your desire domain name quickly and check the availability of your ideal domain name.  They generally offer additional domain query support, and may or may not offer actual registration services. 

Domainr finds domain names and short URLs and instantly check availability and register for all top-level domains (TLD's).

If you want only to check the availability of domain name quickly, try ajax domain selection tools.  Domjax is a  good choice, as the site makes it exceptionally easy to see if someone already thought of and registered that perfect domain name.

Best Generators

BustAName is a good domain name generator that's fun to use.  It lets you enter words and word combinations.  It will try every combination, then tell you which word combinations are available, and much more.

Impossibility is another good domain generator, also fun to use.  It lets you enter parts of speech from a selection list, at either the beginning or end of your entered word.


Shop Around Before You Buy!

Remember that you don't have to buy through domain search services. You can find a name you like that's available, then buy from your registrar of choice, or through your web host.

Check to see who has the best price for 1, 2 and 3 + years.  If you're buying a domain on sale, check to see how the regular annual renewal price compares to other registrars, and do the math.

Happy Shopping!

How To Choose The Best Ever Domains, Part 1

Julia O'Reilly - Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How To Choose The Best Ever Domains

Don't believe it if anyone tells you all the best domains are gone.  Not true!  It just takes a bit of creative thinking, and some good tools. 

Here are a few guidelines to follow.

Part 2 in our next post will have some resources to make it even easier.

 

Domain Name Guidelines, Part 1

Make It Unique

You don't want anyone to confuse your site with another popular website!  Create your own unique branding.

Choose Only Dot-Com Available Domains

If you're at all serious about building a successful website and/or online business over the long-term, you'll want to consider

  1. Type-in traffic
  2. Branding or name recognitionHow To Choose The Best Ever Domains

While directing traffic to a .net or .org is fine, owning the .com is critical.  There is still a huge majority of internet travelers who believe that .com is the only business or 'real' extension.

Make it Easy to Type

When was the last time you had a good time typing in URL's?  Keep the path to your website's front door easy to type.

Make it Easy to Remember 

Keep As Short As Possible

Be As Descriptive As Possible

Work with the words until your domain says as exactly as possible what you do or what you offer.

Review your website's main mission, and look for how your potential domain names will support your mission.

Try using color-words or rhythmic sounds to enhance memory 

Kickstarter.com and IndieGoGo are good examples.  These 2 crowd-funding sites have a similar yet distinctively different mission.  Kickstarter is completely descriptive of exactly what the site does. 

Indiegogo is also descriptive for those who will associate "independent projects, films, recorded music" with "indie".  Add the "GoGo" for rhythm and appeal, and voila!  An easy-to-remember domain.

Beware of Copyright Infringement

Visit the U.S. Copyright Office site.  Run at least a minimal search to ensure that you are not in violation of a copyrighted domain.  There are also attorneys who specialize in copyright search, depending on your budget and the extent of your business's reach.

Don't Use Hyphens and Numbers

No one will remember where the hyphens go or which numbers are in your address.  Avoid using them altogether. 

Don't Follow Fads and Trends

Unless you plan on being in business 6 months or less, avoid the temptation of the trendy.  It won't be the trend someday too soon, and you'll still be stuck with it.

7 Factors To Make Your Website A Marketing Marvel

Julia O'Reilly - Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Don't Be A Beautiful Wallflower Website

A wallflower website is all form and no function and doesn’t serve a purpose.

Creating a beautiful and non-functional website is a common mistake that small business owners make when hiring an inexperienced designer who has no marketing expertise, or when signing up for a 'free' website.

If you have no mission statement, specific goals or follow-up workflows associated with your content, there is no marketing action!

Make More Than An Online Brochure

In today's web ecosystem, you need to compel visitors to return. The best online marketing strategy these days is to pull your customers, not push your materials.

To compete, your site needs to be filled with interaction.  It needs to be educational, with new content added frequently.

Don't Pay The Kid On Your Block To Put Up Your Website

This is the flip side of the Beautiful Wallflower Website. This site looks homemade; it’s inconsistently designed, amateur and gives visitors a bad first impression.

A messy, poorly designed site leaves a trail of broken links, grammatical errors and embarrassing typos.

Don’t represent your small business as a shoddy, unprofessional company.  Would you want to do business with this person?

Be Organized

In general, you have .5 second (yes, that's one-half of a second) to engage your visitor's interest.  If your site is not cleanly and efficiently organized to guide your visitor or potential customer to what they need right now, they're outta there.  We've all done it.

Don't Be Annoying

Avoid over-using animation, annoying music.  Maybe avoid any music that repeats each time you load a high-use page, or that just keeps on playing.  And playing.  Remember: the music I like might not be the music you like.  And you might be my next customer.

Avoid aggressive pop-ups. Remove anything that causes irritation and does not lead to an action step, or that gets in the way of an action step.

SEO Is Still Important

If your website isn’t search engine friendly, then you’re losing money every second.  And SEO is really easy to employ.  Of course, it's easier if your site has been designed and set up properly to begin with, but no matter how it has been designed, you can likely take some very effective, very easy steps and put best practice in place for yourself. SEO is not rocket science, it's just good practice.  Really.

Learn about titles, meta-tags, keywords, back-links, on and off-page optimization.  It's easier than it seems, and your understanding will pay big dividends.

Convert! Convert! Convert!

Your site will move to the head of the class if you educate, inspire and motivate your visitors.

Convert your visitors to interested sales leads so you have a chance to convert your leads to customers.

If your website isn’t making money for you, then it’s not working.  End of Story

How many and which domains should I buy?

Julia O'Reilly - Sunday, January 20, 2013

Should I buy .com, or get all the extensions?

These are questions I receive often from my clients.  If you're asking, you're not alone.

Here are some thoughts to help you decide.

My general working principle is this: your best investment for a domain is one domain that is easy to spell, easy to say, and is a .com domain (no .net, .us, .org or other extension).

That said, there are instances in which you might be better off investing in some of the other TLD’s for your site.  (TLD = top level domains.  These domains sit at the root of a website, and are identified by extension:  .com, .net, .us, .org and so on.)

Multiple domains, one website
Buying multiple domain names and pointing them all to your website is a common practice.

Yes, you can point multiple domains to your website main domain. The best way to do this is to use a URL Forward or Forwarding or Redirection order or whatever your registrar calls it.

The procedure is relatively simple to implement (depending on which method you use), but it's important to take precautions so that you do not lose search engine ranking unnecessarily.  

If you're uncertain

Get your main domain handled first. 

You’ll get the best registrar pricing if you purchase your best domain for 5 or 10 years.  Most registrars offer 1 year, then multiple year increments for a better price.After your main domain is registered, buy the other contenders for a year or so while you experiment and monitor results. Point these domains to your main website domain.  

A good webhosting service will provide you with extensive analytics, or you can find a 3rd party service like Google Analytics for reports to tell you how much traffic is coming to which URL (domain). This can inform your decision to renew a secondary domain or not.

Buy as many as you can easily afford, and that you can afford to maintain and market to.  There’s no return on investment for a URL that sits quietly parked, unless you’re in the business of buying and selling domains.  (Domain investing is a robust and thriving industry, we’re just not discussing it in this post.)

Ask yourself why you're budgeting for more domains, what is your goal and your net gain?  

Do you simply want to tie up the domain so no one else can buy it?  Perhaps so, if you think your visibility will be high enough to warrant the purchase and protection.  While I don’t encourage anyone to make an investment based on fear, there are domain squatters who scout for isolated .com registrations and buy the .net or .org or other TLD that is an exact match.  The ROI for these investors depends on traffic, and other considerations, including their perception of the popularity and attractiveness of your domain. Your website may not be heavily trafficked at first, and the risk may not be that high.  Evaluate that cost against your budget.

Do you want to expand the possibilities that someone might type .org, .net or .info to search specifically for you, if they don't find you at a .com? (Hint: this is probably not a compelling reason to invest.  I mean, really, do you often duplicate searches using other extensions when you're looking for someone or for a service or product?  For me, that answer is no.  Sometimes, but not often.)  Weigh your costs against the possible return.  If you can easily afford the expense, it may be worth a trial year to observe the analytics, and see if anyone is searching for you or your services, products or type of business at those TLD's.

.mobi

Do you want the cool factor and the bleeding technology edge that a .mobi currently offers?  The .mobi extension is typically reserved for mobile device site development, and you have to develop an alternate mobile site to take fullest advantage of it.  

If you think you may want to do this down the road, yes, you should grab it as soon as you can.  The .mobi domain has a definite 'cool' factor, has greater credibility and implies that you are serious about your business, and is likely the wave of the future.  

.mobi is also better for SEO and domain ranking.  More browsing is happening on mobile devices as of this writing than on any other platform.  

More on how to pick a great domain name later.  For now, thanks for stopping in.

Beware The Dragonfly

Julia O'Reilly - Monday, October 08, 2012

Today I got to see a dragonfly tongue in my garden. Seriously.

You know how dragonflies usually zip away when you come too close? This one did fly away, but it kept coming back, and then it stayed.

I don't know why it stuck around for so long. I'd just pruned back the lavender where it was perched - maybe it was soaking up lavender essence.  What a lovely thought. Or maybe it was just tired. Or dreaming.

But the amazing thing was to see a dragonfly tongue at work!  Have you ever seen one?  It was very tiny, and nearly transparent, and edged with black - much like its wings. Tired or not, that tongue was busy, and fast!

I'd never thought about a dragonfly tongue before.

It reminded me how many amazing things there are in this world that I might never notice.  

When I do notice something as perfectly wonderful as the engineering of a dragonfly tongue, I'm reminded once again how the artist's job is to render the unseen and make it visible in a meaningful way. 

So I'd best pay attention. There is extraordinary design everywhere.

Choosing Colors for the Web

Julia O'Reilly - Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Whether you're working with a designer or developer, or building your own site, you will have better results selecting colors if you use a consistent benchmark for colors.  Web designers and developers often talk color to each other in HEX.  These are the hexadecimal screen values for colors.  Here's how Wikipedia defines it: 

Web colors have an unambiguous colorimetric definition, sRGB, which relates the chromaticities of a particular phosphor set, a given transfer curve, adaptive whitepoint, and viewing conditions.

Color ChartsIn other words, when you see a color in a web browser on your monitor that you like, find out what its HEX value is.  Give that number to your designer, who can designate that color exactly for a color element on your website.  

 This won't guarantee 100% perfect color consistency from monitor to monitor (every screen sees color just a bit differently), but it will get you a lot closer to a universal color.  If you need more control, you'll want to switch to using images and color management, but the use of hex colors increases the likelihood that your website colors will be seen the way you want them to be seen.

So how do you find these Fabulous hexadecimal color values? 

Here are some links to my current favorite sites: 

Last but not least, Firefox has a wonderful free download utility called ColorZilla, which is what I use.  It has to be installed, but the website guides you through. It's easy.

ColorZilla lets you pick a color directly from any browser window anywhere, and will give you the rgb and the HEX values you need, handily offer to copy those values to the clipboard and store it in your favorites.  And it's always right there in your browser toolbar.

What could be better?

Any one of these sites will give you HEX values for your selected numbers.  Just look for the boxes that identify themselves as such.  They're easy to spot once you know what they are.

Julia's Tip

My suggestion is to avoid highly intense or dark colors for your page area.  Your page background color or picture tile will definitely affect the rendered color of your text. 

Take note that light text over a dark color is more difficult to see and can be fatiguing for the eyes, especially on hand-held devices (though it can be successful if handled with care). 

If you don't have enough contrast between the two colors, your text will be difficult to see even on the best of monitors or device screens.

Happy Coloring!