Tuesday, 30 September 2014

How Can A Business Benefit From Blogging?

Today I am going to talk about blogging as a marketing tool for businesses. Whether you are an individual running a one man show or a big business house, the need to effectively communicate with your user has never been greater than today. It is the need of the day to communicate with your users or potential customers. You need to know what the customer is thinking or what his or her needs are. There has to be a way to allow both way communication between the business and the customer. Blogging can be a means to gap that bridge and fill up the void that exists between the business and the customer.

Creates Backlinks
One of the not so obvious reasons for blogging is that it helps in SEO. This may very well be known to a SEO expert or a SEO company, but in my opinion, not so well known among most of the people who either run or own a business. A layman would fail to understand how a blog could help him reach out to many new customers or do better in search rankings. When a business writes expertly on a subject, they are proving that they are the subject matter expert in that field. Let us take an example of a maths tutor, a small business run by an individual. If that individual shares his or her knowledge in a blog giving mathematical solutions to common problems that students are looking for, then suddenly that blog becomes a hit with those students. Those students are not only going to keep it to themselves, but rather share it with their friends and on their blogs too. Many will bookmark the site; some will share it on Facebook and some on Twitter. This creates natural backlinks and the more back links you have the better you do in search rankings.
Weave a Community Around Your Business
Another major benefit that accrues from long term blogging involves creation of a community around your business. When you offer something valuable, people would naturally want to be associated with you. They would want to know what products or services you are coming up with, if that is what you do. If you are a subject matter expert and write regularly on your blog, people would want to follow you so that they can learn more on that subject from you. Over a period of time this creates a community of people around your business who are actively following you and are willing to listen to what you have to say.
A respectable amount of people following you on social media could translate into good amount of money for a small business and a matter of prestige for big businesses. This is the reason why businesses advertise on social media like Facebook to get more Facebook likes and to get them to join their online community. The same is true for Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms too. They are a means to form a community and stay connected to their fans and followers on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and various other social media.
Effective Communication With Users
A blog is a very effective means of communicating with your users. The electronic media has no boundaries and it is quick and effective. Unlike the print media, modifications can be done quickly at the click of a button. Don’t have to apologize in your next edition of the error made in your previous one. You can simply edit the post. It is a two way communication method enabling your users to interact with you as they can leave their valuable feedback or opinion on what you have written. You get to know what your user is thinking and what he needs. If he does not like something he or she can express their opinion. This is fantastic and this is exactly what a business wants; to know what their customers are thinking. This can be done so easily and seamlessly with a blog.
Easy To Use
Blogging software is super easy and intuitive to use. Anyone who has basic knowledge of computers and has worked on any word processing software like Word can easily operate a blog. This reduces a company’s expenses in hiring a dedicated professional or a design company to do regular updates to the blog. Anyone suitable from the company itself can be assigned the task to update the blog regularly. With so much free information available online it is super easy to operate as well as maintain a blog, including tasks like backing up the blog data itself.
A blog should be looked at as an indispensable part of a business website, especially when you look at the benefits that accrue from the use of it. It can serve as a medium to reach out to the masses and eventually weave a community around your business. Smart businesses must make use of this tool and take advantage of the opportunities that it offers.

Visit Our Website - www.3kits.com

Monday, 29 September 2014

Getting Web Design Content From Client – How Difficult Is It?

It is all too common for web designers to have finished all other aspects of a web design but unable to launch the site due to unavailability of content, as the client somehow have been too busy to provide it on time. Though, in all probability they may have rushed you through the initial phases of the design process, as they required the website to be live on an urgent basis. When asked about content, they would conveniently tell you that it is being prepared, but the important thing right now is the design. It must be finished on time and that you could use Lorem Ipsum in place of the copy as of now. So how difficult is it getting web design content from clients?

Finally Design Confirmed! Where Is The Copy?

After going through numerous iterations and changes, the client is now happy with the website and all that is required is the content to make the site live. After all, you get paid at the time of site going live. But now you find that you cannot launch the site as the content is still not ready!

Don’t Be A Doormat – Gain Client’s Respect

This could happen to anyone; however it happens more frequently to designers and freelancers at the beginning of their career, when they have not yet mastered the art of dealing efficiently with clients. When starting out, they are quick to take up any projects that come their way. They usually offer design services at lower prices. With a next to nothing portfolio and lacking in confidence, they become easy prey that others (clients) can take advantage of. Here is a hilarous representation of what clients can do to you. But let us not paint all clients with the same brush here. Once you learn the tricks to identity the crazy ones and filter them out, then you start to appreciate both your client and the work you do for them. And in turn, the client appreciates you and your work too. It is a mutual respect that has to be there, when you work for someone, otherwise it is all too easy for the relationship to sour and things begin to go wrong.

Steps To Increase Your Chances Of Getting Web Design Content From Client

Okay, we are discussing how we can get the contents from the client on time. There is no magic rule here but a combination of many. In my opinion, unavailability of content is the number one factor preventing successful completion of projects within the time-frame or deadline you have set for the project. Continuously failing to complete projects on time not only lowers the morale of the designer but also puts survival at risk. It is a very competitive market out there and you need to be smart to survive. I am listing below a few of the factors that are vital in creating an amicable working relationship with your client, so that he understands and respects you for who you are, a web design professional.

Educate Your Client:

I believe education is the most important part in setting client’s expectations. It is vital to let the client know the steps involved in the web design process and the role content play in each of these steps. Why lack of content in the beginning can cause you to go back to the initial stages again, which will cost you time; and time is money.

Set Milestones:

Many people don’t do it. In the beginning, we did not do this too. But we have found that setting milestones is a great way to set responsibility both for you and for the client. We specify actual dates against each milestone. We go as far as specifying, “Getting All Content From Client” as a milestone. We also specify that if content is not received within the timeframe mentioned against this milestone, it would not be possible to move ahead to the next milestone. The client knows from day one that he needs to provide content before a certain date; otherwise, the design process would halt. Since the process is outlined from the beginning, and the client’s expectation is set, there is a high probability that the client would provide all material within the time specified.

Outline All Required Content To The Client:

Don’t leave it to the guesswork of the client on what all content is required for the site. You design websites every day; the client does not. Possibly it is the first time he is getting a website created. List all the content required as an ordered list, so that he can easily figure out what is required from him. Be sure to give him sufficient time to get the required content.

Send Regular Polite Reminders:

Suppose you have set the milestone for content as one week from the start of the project. It is important to send polite reminders on the remaining content on a regular basis. It is important to let client know what has been provided to you and what else is still missing. Don’t just stop work after a week complaining that you don’t have the content. Rather, work with your client with a genuine intent on helping him create the content for the site in a timely manner.

Content Can Help You Create A Better Layout:

Let the client know that having the content during the initial stages of the design process would help you create better layout for the site. It would let you plan ahead on how the homepage should be structured. Come to think of it, how can you really design without knowing how much content should go into different sections of the homepage? Getting content during the final stages of the design process runs the risk of redesign or restructuring of the site again. After all, what is the point of having gone through all the stages if you ultimately have to start from the beginning again? That is why I say content is so important and should be made available during the early stages of the design phase. If this is properly intimated to the client, there is a big chance that he would make additional efforts to get the content in time as the design would be directly impacted.

Offer Help Creating Content:

It is possible that the client is super busy and really does not have time to get involved in the process of creating content for the site. You could offer to create content for an additional fee. If the client agrees, then you could do it yourself, if you have the talent and time for it; otherwise simply outsource it to other content writers. This way, you help your client and yourself by finishing the design project in time.


Let the client know that you are a professional and that your time is valuable. You should genuinely be willing to help the customer get a better site for himself; and you should also know where to put the foot down and say no to illegitimate demands. Avoid going overboard and helping the client with things and request outside the scope of your duty. You make yourself look like a fool when you do that. Once you know how to present yourself, your professional attitude and behaviour will convey the message that you mean business. All this, coupled with some of the steps given above will surely help you set a better working relationship with your client and hopefully also get you content on time.

Visit our Website - www.3kits.com

Sunday, 28 September 2014

A Few Advantages Of CSS Over Tables

A lot has already been written on the subject of CSS, however, since not much has been said on this blog, I thought to go ahead and write about CSS anyway. This article would serve as a refresher for all those who are well versed with CSS and its benefits and help those who are not so familiar with this topic.

Cascading Style Sheets or CSS is used to style the entire website. CSS cannot itself be used on its own to design a website; it is a tool or an external document with rules that control the layout, colors, styling etc of the web page or pages. CSS can be used with any type of server side scripting languages or simple html. It definitely has many advantages over using tables to control the layout of the web pages which we will discuss in the later sections.
However, if someone is new to CSS, it may be tempting to simply use tables instead of the CSS for a few obvious reasons. First of all, tables are easy to understand and grasp, therefore, it may be tempting to continue using tables. Also, the rendering of the pages using both CSS and tables are almost same across all browsers. Moreover, most clients will also not know the advantages or using CSS over tables, so since they don’t see any obvious difference therefore, they are not likely to complain or ask the designer to use CSS instead.
However, the advantages of using CSS far exceeds the time it takes to grasp the concept of CSS and once the designer fully understands the concept it would actually be easier to use than tables. I am going to highlight a few advantages that CSS has over tables.

1. Faster Loading Of Pages

CSS helps reduce a lot of unnecessary mark-up or code on a web page that you cannot avoid when using tables. To structure a page using tables you will need quite a few of them all nested within each other forming a complex structure. Moreover, you will need a lot of inline code like align, width, height, font sizes, faces, cell spacing etc to style, arrange, and hold the tables in position. This makes the whole page jumbled up and confusing and a lot larger in size with all the extra mark-up needed to arrange the page. With CSS, the mark-up needed is significantly less resulting in page size being smaller, reducing the actual time taken to download the page. Moreover, css files do not need to be downloaded every time a page is loaded; usually it is store in memory or cached the first time it loads. This makes the web pages significantly faster.

2. Better For SEO

Google has made it quite clear that speed of the page matters in SEO. It is one of the factors in determining the ranking of a page in search results. Since CSS makes for a lighter page and hence is preferred over tables and inline styling. Also, since CSS has much lesser mark-up, therefore, it is easier for the search engines to decipher between code and actual content of the website. Remember, it is the actual content of the website that matters; mark up is what we are forced to write to make the page presentable. Therefore, it makes good sense to use CSS which maximizes the ratio of content to code. Also CSS helps to improve the overall structure of the page giving you more control over the elements of the webpage like h1, h2 and other important tags on a page. This all makes the web site’s SEO prospects better.

3. Tighter Control Over Layout and Design

You write CSS code on a separate external css file which controls the layout and design of the entire website. Therefore, to make certain layout or design changes to hundreds of pages of you site, you will just need to edit one css file. The change is reflected immediately on all pages using those styles. In the long run this also helps maintain a visual consistency of the entire site too. When you have hundreds of pages, you will quickly realize that making changes to all the pages is quite a challenging task. There will be times when you update a certain page and forget to do the same for a few. Over time, this leads to inconsistency in the design of the web pages, which can be avoided with the use of an external css file.

4. More Complex Layouts

The layouts created with tables are rigid and not very flexible. Not every type of design a designer envisions may be possible with a table based layout as it uses grids or table based structure to format a web page or layout. However, CSS primarily uses divs which serves a similar purpose as tables. However, divs are layers on a web page which can be stacked on top of each other allowing for more complex designs. The positioning of the layer can further be controlled using the z index which determines the ordering of the layers on a web page.

5. No Spacer Gifs Required

Spacer gifs are transparent images used to fill up blank spaces of a table cell so that it can be filled with a background color. Spacer gifs were used a lot prior to CSS but are no longer needed. It added a lot of unnecessary junk mark up to the web page which is better avoided.
These are a few of the reasons why CSS is better. For those who still profess the use of tables, they are of course entitled to their opinion. However, I would still advise them to go ahead and learn CSS and then weigh the differences between the two and make an informed decision. Moreover, the learning of something new adds more skill sets to a web designer’s arsenal and helps increase their job security in the long run.

Visit our Website - www.3kits.com

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Why Your New Website Should Be Responsive

I am going to write this article for the benefit of those who are looking to get a new website designed in the very near future and want the best for them. I will try to answer the question, why your new website should be Responsive. Of course this is also going to help those who are still not aware of what Responsive Design is all about. Yes, I say still, because of the hype and buss that has surrounded this new technology; it is very probable that you have already heard of it. Even if you have not, do not despair; I will explain in a very non technical language what it is and how it can help you.

PC Sales Declining – What Does It Mean For Your Business

So why do we design websites? The ultimate motive is to reach out to as many people as possible and deliver the message that we want to get across to them. Isn’t it? It is also true that it is the first time that PC sales are going down then the previous year. More and more people are now buying products that can replace their PC like tablets, and iPads and using them to go online and surf the net. They are also buying devices that smartphones, iPhones and other devices. And if more and more people are starting to use other devices, shouldn’t your website also be accessible on these devices?

Regular Websites Do Not Work On All Devices

Unfortunately, most websites do not open so beautifully on these devices as it does on a PC; simply because these sites were designed to work on a PC. One simple option would be to build a mobile version of your website targeting a particular device. But the number of devices is just too many, and new ones are getting added to the list of existing ones really fast. The devices also differ significantly in terms of screen width, resolution, and orientation. So the challenge for designing for every screen is huge and is not a practical solution to the problem.

Responsive Web Design Has The solution

Ethan Marcotte who has written a book on this new technology, has a very interesting article explaining the Fundaments of Responsive Web Design. It is an interesting read, if you haven’t got the chance to read it already. It talks about “responsive architecture”, responsive design, media queries etc.
So how does Responsive Web Design solve our problems? Well, with this relatively new technology, you no longer need multiple websites targeting multiple devices. You just need one website that adapts to the device on which it is being viewed. It does so with the help of fluid images and smart use of CSS media queries by determining the width and resolution of the device. The website changes layout, resizes images and adapts quite magically on all devices.

Why Is It Important – Why Website Should Be Responsive

This relatively new technology is being called the future of the web by many. It is a paradigm shift akin to the transition from table based layouts to CSS, which made a huge impact on the web design industry.
It is estimated that within the next few years, there will be more people online using mobile devices than those using PCs. Therefore, it makes sense to be where your customers are, otherwise, you lose out on business. If your website is Responsive, your customers can easily access it using any device they like. Your website will adapt to the different screen sizes to always present an optimal view of the website that requires the least amount of panning, scrolling, zooming etc.
Checkout the prices we offer for Responsive Web Design; it is within reach of everyone now. On average, 90% of all our new customers are demanding a Responsive website for them. So the demand for this is quite high, which is quite understandable given the benefits of having one compared the cost of owning one.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Benefits Of A CMS Website

Contrary to a static website, a CMS or Content Management System based website is database driven or in other words is a dynamic website. The website information is stored in a database and is fetched in real time when a user looks for that information. Static website has the information hard coded or written on the web page itself. So if you need to modify a static website you will have to modify the actual content on the webpage and publish it again to the web server using some sort of ftp software. This involves some sort of technical knowledge on part of the user and therefore is not possible for every website owner to do so. On the contrary, it is very easy to update a CMS website from the website Dashboard. It is a password protected area and can be accessed only by authorised users, thus ensuring that the website content can be modified by only legitimate and authorized personnel. Some of the imminent advantages or benefits of a CMS website are given below.

Freshness Of Content
A Content Management System makes it very easy to update the website. Simply login to the Admin Control Panel or the Dashboard, and you can create a new page or post with the click of a button. You can add content, images, audio and video which make it super easy to add or update content on the website. This ensures that the content on the website is always fresh and updated. Increasingly websites are seen as the face of a company and having updated content can create a good impression among its users. Apart from the website information pages, a company may wish to update their website on a regular basis by publishing company news, press releases, events that happen in the company etc. A company that does so gives the impression of a forward looking company than the others who do not.
Some websites that are information centric and have hundreds and thousands of pages have no other option but to opt for a CMS as it would become impossible to manage it otherwise.

Implementation Of Site Search

Such a website with many thousands of pages would need a mechanism to search for the information that the user is looking for. It then becomes an important aspect of the website. Since all the information in a CMS website is stored in a database, search implementation is possible. Almost all CMS websites have search functionality inbuilt which enables the user to search and pin point the information he or she is looking for. Without this functionality it may become meaningless to have such huge sites.

Easy To Use And Operate

A CMS website is very easy and intuitive to use. For all popular CMS platforms, ample amount of help is available online should you need help with any aspect of your CMS website like installation, usage of the CMS, and also troubleshooting tips. No technical knowledge is required to operate a CMS and therefore anybody can do this and eliminates the requirement of specialized people to use the CMS website.

Access & Update Website From Anywhere

You do not need specialized software or any specific kind of technological environment to access and update the website. Any computing device connected to the internet would be good enough for the job. Simply log in to the Administrator area and you are ready to add or edit the website as required.

Roles Based User Access

Almost all CMS allows for role based user access to the CMS website. Depending on the role assigned to you by the website administrator, you are either allowed or restricted access to certain parts of the website. This is useful as you can allow an author to write on your blog but not to publish it online. An editor can then look over the file, make amendments, and quickly publish the file on the website when done. This is very useful in a multi user environment when responsibilities need to be divided among different users.

Good For SEO – Benefits Of A CMS Website

CMS websites are also good for SEO. Freshness of content is one factor that helps, as it is believed that search engines give preference to website with new and updated content than websites with stale and outdated content. Usage of social media plugins help in weaving a community around your blog. RSS feeds which are automatically generated by blogs or CMS websites can increase the number of subscribers and readers to your site. Url rewriting can be implemented easily which produces clean urls without parameters which further help in seo. There are plugins available that specifically help with website seo.
The advantages or benefits of a CMS website are many and varied as is clearly stated above. If you have to choose between a static and a CMS website, the points above would help you make up your mind. Please do let me know what you think of this article and do share your comments with me.

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Thursday, 25 September 2014

Essential Points To Consider When Designing Your Website

The first point to consider perhaps is why you need a website in the first place. What purpose is it going to serve? A website could be built for many different purposes. It could serve as a personal site, a business site or it could be a charitable site; or for that matter it could be for hundreds of other purposes. You will need to identify yours very clearly. Because that is the only way you could communicate the same to the designer who in turn will come up with an appropriate website so that your objectives and goals from the website are met. It may also be a good idea to communicate the budget you have for the project as many important decisions regarding the website will rely on how much you are willing to spend on the site.

The Type of Website Required

There are many types of website the designer can suggest to you depending on your budget and, of course, your requirement. Two major types that all websites can be classified into would be Static and Dynamic.
Static websites are usually simple html type and usually cannot be modified by the user. If your requirement is for a simple website whose content is not going to change for a long time, then you might as well opt for this option. If you require some changes after a few months or a year down the line, you might as well just ask the designer to do these changes for you and pay the designer for his time. It could be very economical in the long run. However, this is only suitable where changes are not required very frequently to the website.
Dynamic websites are usually database driven and make use of some sort of server side scripts like asp.net or PHP to make the website interactive. Usually the website information is stored in a database and retrieved and shown to the user as and when required. The website usually has an Administrative panel or Dashboard from where users can edit or add more content to the website. Templates make sure that right styling and formatting automatically gets added to the new content added by you. They are also known as CMS or Content Management Systems. A few examples of popular CMS would be WordPress, Blogger, Joomla, Drupal, DotNetNuke etc. CMS, as the name suggests, help in management of content in a website. Different CMS may be implemented for different purposes depending on your requirement. Therefore, it is a good idea to clearly convey your requirements to the designer, who then can suggest the best fit for your website.
Ecommerce websites also fall within the category of Dynamic websites and employ some sort of CMS to manage the content on the website. Some popular open source CMS used for ecommerce websites include NopCommerce, Magento, osCommerce, OpenCart etc.

Choosing The Right Web Design Company

It is also important to choose the right web design company for your web design project. Though it is not a bad idea to get quotes from a few companies, however, overdoing is not recommended. Hunting for the cheapest company is often the biggest mistake that people make when considering a web designer. Price may definitely be a deciding factor, but do not let this be the only deciding factor. It is important that the designer or Design Company has relevant years of experience in the web design industry. Ask for examples of sites they have developed or designed in the past. It will give you an indication of their design capabilities and industry knowledge. International exposure of the web design company could be seen as an added advantage as that means that the company is experienced and proficient in dealing with variety of clients.

Design Matters But Leave The Design To The Designer

The design of the website is important. It is important that it conveys and right message to the end user and right amount of professionalism too. This does not mean in any way that you take charge of the design process and dictate to the designer how the website should be. That is definitely not the right way. You know your business and your business objectives better than others and the designer or the design company knows how to achieve it online. Very often clients try to force their personal bias on the designer, not realizing that their personal bias may be counterproductive and may not get the results from the end users as expected. However, it is also the responsibility of the designer to explain to the client why he has chosen a particular type of website.
Remember, that just because you have worked a little bit on Photoshop, or Paint, or have designed your logo in Word, does not make your design knowledge is on par with the designer. Building a successful website goes far beyond the mere knowledge of Photoshop. And you must acknowledge that, otherwise, you harm yourself more than anybody else. Put too much pressure on the designer, and the poor guy may just do what you ask him to. So you get a website that YOU like, but may fail to get the desired results.
So you see; a lot depends on your web designer or Web Design Company, so choose wisely.

SEO & SMO Considerations

Once your website is complete, ask what options your design company offers for SEO and SMO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and SMO stands for Social Media Optimization. Both are interlinked now and play an important role in how your website is ranked in the major search engines. This is a very important aspect that many people overlook. There are millions of websites similar to yours and just leaving it on chance alone to be found online is not going to be much helpful. Because those who are among the top 10 are definitely doing something and that is why they are there.
These are just some of the broad points that one should consider when designing their website.

Visit Our Website - www.3kits.com

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Can Any SEO Company Guarantee SEO Results?

It seems to be like a trend that every SEO company website must have one of those beautiful “100% Guarantee” seals prominently displayed on their website; otherwise, the site somehow seems to be incomplete to them. It must be that way, or why would almost every SEO company have those “100% SEO Guarantee” seals on their website? The more I look around, the more I am convinced of this. But the fact remains, can anyone really guarantee top placement in Google?

No One Can Guarantee #1 ranking on Google

I was going through this post on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in Google Webmaster Tools and towards the middle of the page it is clearly mentioned, “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.” It then goes on to say that, “Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google.” So it is evident that no company can guarantee #1 ranking on Google. It is also not possible to guarantee any top 10 ranking on any keyword for that matter.

Why Is It Not Possible To Guarantee a Particular Ranking On Google?

The search algorithm Google uses to place websites higher in search results in not fully known. To be precise, Google has not made the algorithm public and therefore, a lot is left to speculation and also on tested and tried methods which are known to yield results. Google has also hinted on a few factors that help in securing higher rankings. However, it is a combination of many factors, not just one or two, which determines your rankings in Google. Adding to the uncertainty are changes that Google keeps making to its algorithm to factor in the changes that takes place over time, like introduction of social media like Facebook and Twitter. This is just one example of course. Google is constantly making changes or updates so that the search results stay relevant or improve in relevancy over time. So in such a scenario, how could a company offer 100% SEO guarantee when they are not even 100% sure of all the factors that are working to rank your website?

Difference Between Search Results & Sponsored Listing

It may be well worth mentioning as it may not be evident to a layman the difference between the two. Sponsored listing is where you can buy your listing and can control the position of the listing by bidding a higher price than your competitor. Google has made it very clear that you cannot buy the listing in regular search results. Clients must be careful that the amount they are paying for organic SEO should not go towards sponsored listing as sponsored listing is temporary and would stop the moment you stop advertising. It also does not influence regular search results in any way. So even if you advertise a lot in the sponsored section it will not help you in organic search placement.

What Can SEO Companies Do?

SEO companies can be honest with the client by educating them as to how SEO works. The SEO Company should also explain the tasks the company would perform and the benefits that the client can expect within a specified time frame. The tasks involved should also be defined as accurately as possible to avoid conflicts later on between the client and the company. The SEO packages offered by the company should be clear and precise. For example, it may be better to fix the number of articles to be written or press releases to be made, rather than just say that the company will write articles and press releases. The amount of work to be done or the amount of hours to be spent needs to be clearly mentioned so it can be measured at the end of the month. No company owns search engines and therefore cannot guarantee results, but they can definitely guarantee the amount of work that they will do thus ensuring that the client’s website does better in search rankings.
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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

A Brief Overview Of Responsive Web Design

Responsive Web Design, in short also known as RWD, is a technique in which a web site is designed in such a way that one website fits all devices. It makes use of CSS3 media queries to load a different set of CSS rules depending on the device on which the website is being viewed. Primarily the width of the browser is used to make a decision as to which CSS to load to display the website. So in essence if the website is being viewed on a smaller screen like on a smart Phone, the website layout would be different than when viewed on a desktop. The layout is optimized in such a way so that the site is optimal for that screen size in terms of readability, panning and scrolling. This is made possible with the use of media queries, fluid grids, and flexible images that automatically re-size with your browser width.
Responsive Web Design (RWD) is different from mobile sites where separate websites were designed for separate devices. A program would be used to detect the device and redirect the user to the separate mobile website for that device. A redirect takes longer and is therefore undesirable. Mobile device detection is not always perfect and is prone to errors, therefore, sending the user to the wrong website optimized for a different device altogether. Another major disadvantage is the change of URLs for each of the website versions built with this method. Separate URLs in a way would be considered as separate sites by the Search Engines, causing a lot of unwanted complications like content duplicity, SEO issues, difficulty in managing the websites, etc. Also, with time, the numbers of devices has grown manifolds, and are continuously on the rise. It is not practical to have a website for every device.
Responsive Web Design is therefore the answer. A RWD website does not have any of the disadvantages we discussed above for a mobile site. With RWD, it is one website for multiple devices. Maintaining one site is much easier than multiple sites. Since it is one website changing layout for multiple devices, therefore, you get one set of URLs only. Managing content also becomes much easier for the website owner is this case.
In the coming two to three years from now, there will be more people accessing the internet on their handheld devices compared to desktops. So your website needs to be able to cater to this segment, otherwise, you lose out on significant web traffic and potential customers. I don’t think there is much of a choice really. In the coming years Responsive Websites would become more of a necessity rather than a luxury.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Website Redesign – SEO Considerations

All websites will undergo redesign at some point of time during their virtual existence. It is inevitable and has to be carried out due to many factors like aesthetics, changes in technology, been too long with the same design, change in brand image, not doing well in search, for better usability, and many other such factors. Whatever your reason may be for a website redesign, it goes without saying that redesigning a new or relatively unknown site is much easier than the decision to redesign or revamp a site that is doing well in SEO. My other article here discusses a few points for considering a website redesign which may interest you: 5 Strong Indicators That You Should Redesign Your Website

Risk Of Dip In Rankings After Website Redesign

The reasons are clear of course, as any website redesign brings with it the danger of dropping considerably in rankings if certain points are not followed or observed. The chances of making a mistake or oversee certain points is high, therefore it is important to be attentive and take into consideration all points possible to minimize the risk. Though I personally believe that after a redesign, it is certain that there will be a dip in the rankings, however small, for a certain amount of time. The precautions are just a means to minimize that. I have seen sites that have not been updated for years. I suppose they are scared of the dip if they do something stupid to their site by accident. I know, freshness of content is important. For this I believe we should generally divide websites into two types.
Typical blog or an article site: For an article site, freshness of content is very important and it should be updated regularly for better rankings.
Websites selling products or services: These website are typically self advertising in nature and usually consist of two parts, Static or informational pages and a blog. Informational page, I believe should not be updated if not absolutely necessary. You should not simply update those pages on a regular interval for the sake of freshness only. You may do yourself more harm that way. Rather, update the blog as often you can which will take care of the “freshness of content” part.
This is to show how minimal changes can also affect rankings. Given below are some points that one should keep in mind during a redesign. Though redesigns can be of many types, from minor updates to major ones; from the point of view of writing this article, I am considering major changes to sites that are doing well in organic search results.

Duplication Of Content

During a website redesign, the temporary site or files are usually hosted on a separate domain or sub domain. And typically one would redesign the whole site here and test it before moving it to the production server or to your actual domain. It is important to take care that you block search engine spiders to crawl the temporary domain or files by using robots.txt file. Otherwise, you will end up with search engines indexing the temporary files causing unwanted duplicate content issues.

Change in URLs

It is recommended to keep the URLs same and not to change them. However, a major redesign may involve structural changes and moving of files from one folder to another causing your URLs to change. You may voluntarily want to change the URLs sometimes, like making them shorter for better readability; or perhaps removing unwanted characters or keywords to make them look less spammy. Though changing the URL and folder structure may make it better in the long run, you run a huge risk of losing the traffic for that particular page. If you do decide to change the URL for a particular page, do not forget to 301 redirect the old page to the new one. Also, if some pages have been permanently deleted, do not 301 redirect that page to the homepage of the website. It may do you more harm than good. However, if you have a very similar or related page, then it might not be a bad idea to 301 redirect to the related page instead.

Changes In Content

Again it will be helpful if too much content changes are not carried out on any of the pages. Try to keep the placement of the content, as much similar to the existing site, as possible. Take extra care of the h1 tags and other heading tags. Make sure you include any images or videos that exist on that particular page. The idea is to minimize the change in HTML as much as possible.

Page Title & Descriptions

Page Titles are very important and only change them if absolutely necessary. The same goes for Description. The Title as well as the Description contain your primary keyword or key phrase for the page and should not be changed unless you are targeting a new keyword now.

Final Check Before Going Live

When the new site is ready, it is important to go over the details again and again to make sure that everything is in place and that you have not missed anything. As I have said in the beginning, these considerations may not be important for a new site. But for a site that dependents on search engines for traffic and business, these considerations are of prime importance.

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Saturday, 20 September 2014

Trouble Clients One Should Avoid

All great designs need a certain degree of understanding between the designer and the client. Many a times the understanding is either lacking or does not exist at all. Even though a web design company may do its best to evaluate potential clients before taking them on, however, there are always instances when the relationship can go wrong. There are many checks and balances that a design company may take as a precaution to avoid such nasty instances, but whatever you do, there will be instances when there is disagreement and confrontations. For example, a design company must make sure that the design contract is discussed, understood and signed before taking on the prospective client. But would you really like to take the legal route in case of a dispute, or would you rather come to some sort of compromise and move on. After all, you have to evaluate what you stand to gain and loose out of it. Then you may say, what was the purpose of the contract in the first place? A contract is important, however, you may be surprised to know how many clients do not take the contract seriously at all, they take it as a mere formality and nothing else.

So I am going to jot down a few types of trouble clients and their annoying habits that a web designer may come across.

1. Wanting Too Much For Too Little.

The worst and the most frequent ones are where the client has a very low budget but wants everything included. They can be usually identified during initial stages of contact, and fortunately avoided. However, many a times, you may not be able to read the signs properly and take them on as clients. That is when the problem starts. I feel it is usually because the client does not fully understand the value of the work you do. They are of the opinion that they are paying too much and getting too less and that the job could have been done by anybody with some knowledge of Photoshop. So to get the maximum value for money, they want everything included. We have had prospective clients wanting to have websites similar to Facebook and Twitter for a mere few thousand dollars.

2. Designer Clients

These are clients who have some knowledge of Photoshop and consider themselves as designers. They would want to dictate to you how every piece of object on the canvas must be placed irrespective of whether it is feasible online on not. They don’t have any idea of the difference between the print and the web media, however, will continue to dictate how they have envisioned the design for their site. They usually will let you come up with the initial designs, then scrap them, and email you their own designs. It would usually be a combination of the designs and functions from the best websites in their industry. They are the type of clients who would want their logo to be 2 pixels bigger; want the background black, then tell you it is too black, try a lighter shade of black. This could end up into an endless cycle of revisions if not stopped in time.

3. Confused Client

The best way to know them is when they show you two totally different types of websites and tell you, “I want something like this.” Before signing them up, you explain to them exactly what it is that you are offering and what all is included and what is not. They will tell you they understand and you start the project happily. The moment you show them the initial design, they tell you how disappointed they are with the designs and that it is nowhere near to their requirement. They almost always don’t know what is wrong with the design or how it could be made better. They would probably say something like, “Design is very important to us, we need something very unique. What is unique about this design?” Whatever you show them, it will never be like how they see it in their mind.
You try to reason with the client telling them that they should not look at the website from a personal point of view; that they should leave their personal bias aside; the website is for the end user, after all they are the ones for whom the site should be built! It is important the end user likes the site; however, all this would just fall on deaf ears. Then they would start demanding features that were never included in the project. These types of clients are just confused and don’t know what they want and therefore, obviously cannot tell you what is wrong with any of the designs you show them.

4. Requiring Mock Up Designs Prior To Awarding Projects

You should never ever agree to design mock ups for clients before the project has been approved or initial deposit paid to you. Whenever a client asks you to design for free, it usually means that he does not trust your work and thinks that you have enough free time to work for free. These type of clients believe that they are doing you are favor by giving you work. You will be doing yourself a favor by avoiding them.
It is almost impossible to deal with such clients and the best suggestion I have is to avoid them from the beginning as it becomes difficult to get out of a contract in the middle of a project. One may feel tempted to take them on as clients, however, later on you may feel that you lost more than you gained in the process. Fortunately for us, majority of our clients do not fall into the above categories and usually we enjoy a healthy working relationship with them.
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Friday, 19 September 2014

Why A Well Designed Site Is Important?

Websites are a necessity for every business today. Though some still continue to operate without one, but most of them realize that they cannot continue without one for long. Sooner or later they will need a new site or existing one redesigned. I wrote this post titled “5 Strong Indicators That You Should Redesign Your Website” which should give you a good idea as to when your site needs a redesign. But one thing that continues to amaze me is the number of badly designed sites that people continue to have. How did they end up with such sites? There can only be two answers to this: either they hired a terrible designer or agency; or they designed those sites themselves or forced their design and ideas on the poor designer. In the later case, I always recommend the designer or the design agency to sack the client in such a situation. Anyway, in both cases, the business looses. So a combination of a good web designer and an educated client who is willing to hear and learn is important for a well designed site.

What Is A Well Designed Site?

When we say a well designed site, we do not always mean a good looking site. A very artistic site, or one that is lousy looking but functional, may both not be the right choice. An artistic design may please the owner of the site but the site may be extremely difficult to navigate or to find the desired information on the site. Same goes for a terrible looking site with good content, as it may prove extremely difficult to command respect or trust of the audience. There has to be a balance between form and functionality. One has to ascertain first what is a well designed site? Is it simply the looks? Is it just the content? Or does it depend on the amount of functionality a site has? A well designed site would mean understanding the business objectives of the client and their end users, and designing a site that works to achieve these objectives in the most efficient manner.

Right Advice and Guidance

It is a very important step towards a well designed site. It is important to understand the requirements for the site first before one can move in the right direction. Many web design agencies would ask clients a series of questions to understand their requirement better. There are no fixed questions to ask, the objective is to understand the purpose of the website, and any questions that help you to understand those objectives are good questions. Once the purpose of the website has been understood, the designer can then guide the client in the right direction.
It is important to tell the client about social media and why it is important; how blogging can be good for the business etc. You cannot expect a non technical business owner to know the features that would help his website, so someone has to explain these to the business owner so that he can make an informed decision. However, if the design company itself is inexperienced, then decisions can be taken which may not always be in the best interest of the business. Like most business owners won’t know the difference between static and a CMS site. CMS has its advantages compared to a non updating static site. And if a business understood the difference between them, they would usually opt for the CMS version, though it may be a little more expensive than the static version.

Advantages Of A Well Designed Site

A well designed site would follow the accepted standards of coding and best practices. These best practices could include anything from valid HTML markup to optimized content and layout for a faster loading site. So, once we have accepted the definition of a well designed site, we could go ahead and discuss the advantages of one.
  1. A More Professional Design

    Who says looks don’t matter. Look at the time people spend in just making one presentable and the amount of money, energy and time spend on such activities. Website is no different. You have to spend time and energy in creating something worthwhile that you can present to your clients. It starts with a good looking presentable site. After all, your customers will create an opinion about your business by judging the quality of your website. Of course, the design would depend on who the website is being built for. If the target audience are little children, one would do well to use bright colors and things that appeal to children. Similarly, if the website is for other business, a more professional looking design would be suitable.
  2. Valid Markup

    It is very important to use valid HTML & CSS to design your site. Correct usage of markup and CSS makes sure that your websites conforms to the W3C standards and uses industry best practices. Validated mark up not only decreases the chances of errors on different browsers, but also makes the site render as intended and possibly could make the site faster. Moreover, it is always better to do things the right way than do it shabbily.
  3. SEO Friendly

    Search engine visibility is big today. And why shouldn’t it be, when it has the potential to put your website in front of so many customers looking for your products and services. A well designed site should be SEO friendly and should take into consideration the major points that affect search engine visibility. Some factors include a user friendly site with good content, valid html, fast loading site etc. SEO is a combination of many factors and not just one. So the most number of factors that work in favour for you site, the better. So a well designed site goes a long way in making your site more SEO friendly.
  4. Cross Browser Compatibility

    It is important to have your site render well in all browsers and not just your favourite one that you use. While designing one has to keep in mind back ward compatibility with older browsers too. Remember everyone is not using the latest browser and one has to use keep in mind the user experience of these users as well. Your site should be cross browser compatible. The problem is, different browsers may render HTML markup slightly differently, which could cause your site to render differently on different browsers. The problem is compounded when one is using the latest markup language likes HTML5 which is supported on newer browsers only. Therefore, one has to include options to fall back on when viewing the site on older browsers, so that the user experience remains consistent throughout. You can check your site for browser compatibility here.
  5. Faster Loading Sites

    The faster a site is the better. Today no one has the patience to wait in front of a browser for your site to load. They will abandon your site and go somewhere where they can find something quicker and faster. So it makes for a good user experience to do whatever you can in your power to make your site go faster. There are a few things that one can do like caching your content; minimizing / optimizing the size of images used; not to use unnecessary flash animations that take ages to load; minify JavaScript, html and css etc. Perhaps, the most important factor is the time to first byte (TTFB), I am sure it won’t hurt if I call it the server response time; so it makes good sense to host with a reputable hosting provider. It could be expensive, but hey, you want your site fast right? Hosting is definitely not a design component, but a well designed site should incorporate the points I mentioned earlier. The best way to check your websites page speed is to use a service like Google PageSpeed Insights, where it not only shows you how you are doing, but also recommends the steps to take improve your site speed. So a well designed site should be fast loading too.
These are just a few examples, I am sure you could think of a lot of other advantages to a well designed site. Please feel free to mention them in the comments below.
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