Posted on: June 25, 2012
New businesses need a web presence as a reference to attract customers. In the twentieth century it’s almost more important to be on the web than in the phone book. Many people still use phone books but then again, many people don’t need them anymore. It’s much quicker these days to use the internet to find a business through search engines. A website is also more likely to be up to date than a phone book. Avoiding a website is not a good idea since potential new customers might find a competitor online instead.
Web design has many advantages for start-ups, whereas bypassing it has many disadvantages. One of the most important benefits includes getting indexed in search engines, which is like free advertising. The internet, unlike the phone book, can quickly help you find what you’re looking for just by searching for a very specific category. If a consumer is searching for a niche item like a DVD on how to build a water heater, using the phone book might mean calling ten different book stores or even companies that design water heaters. A search engine, though, is more likely to lead to a useful link in a matter of seconds.
Yes, the internet is very important these days because it has become the clearinghouse where you can find anything, including your new business. You may still want to be in the phone book, but it’s going to take time for that listing to appear. In the meantime, creating a website will ensure that your business exists online, where people are already searching for products and services. While the common small business can only afford to pay for so many different listings in the phone book, the use of keywords online allows you to list your business in a wider spectrum of categories for free.
Keywords are the foundation of Google, which indexes your site based on how you title your web pages and the keywords you choose to define your site. Experienced web content developers keep this in mind, knowing that the information on your web pages must match your most important keywords. This rule of thumb is an essential part of “search engine optimization,” more commonly known as SEO. With well-planned SEO techniques, your site may be ranked high in search results, provided your business offers a niche that isn’t flooded with competition.
The key to web design is useful content. Although many businesses expect their sites to look as nice as possible, too much emphasis on design instead of meaningful content can lead to diminishing returns. It’s better to make product information the priority on a website, without sacrificing appearance. In other words, the site doesn’t have to be all text, but search engines will favor content-rich sites over graphic-intensive sites. Not all web designers understand this basic principle, however, so it’s smart to shop around.
A website is powerful if you keep it basic with easy navigation to useful content that can be summarized with a site map. If you notice, Google, isn’t very complex looking and still manages to be one of the most popular sites in the world. It’s basically a search box with a few links and a logo. This doesn’t mean all sites should be that plain and simple. The reason Google succeeds with such a simple design is that it is an incredibly useful resource. The message Google sends is still important for all sites, which is to have an important purpose other than to be fancy.
Another benefit to a start-up company developing a website is that it opens the door to earning revenue right away. If the new business is selling digital products that can be downloaded instantly, the website with an ecommerce solution becomes a global storefront. If the store is selling tangible products, the website can still be where people around the world place purchase orders. Even if the business doesn’t plan to sell anything online, the website can be an effective brochure of the company. The site can offer information downloads and videos that showcase the business.
A valuable consideration when creating a website is that it should include contact informaiton and a way for users to provide feedback. Email gives your business a direct connection with customers and gives them a sense that the business is interactive and has credibility. While popular sites may try to cut down on emails, new businesses can benefit from email by building marketing lists.
When you are trying to decide on hiring a web design company, you will need to consider several factors if you want the best work done for the best deal. Be selective because not every company that specializes in building websites knows the big picture of what the internet is all about. There are firms big and small that know how to make flashy web pages, but appearance is only one part of a successful website. In some cases, appearance means very little as to whether your site will be successful or not. In fact, simplicity and text are usually more important,
Before you approach a web designer, you should learn the difference between examples of high and low traffic websites. Many people who are new to the web miss the point about what makes websites powerful. A common tendency of unschooled newbies is to make the site as graphic intensive as possible, which can be a major mistake that limits search engine rankings, loading speed and usefulness for users. That’s important to decide if you need a website designed for heavy traffic or a niche site for a limited following.
Once you pinpoint the objectives of your site, you can then explore the online community in search engines using simple key phrases related to web design. You may also want to ask knowledgeable friends who they recommend. But never just settle for the first web designer you find just to get a project rolling. As you shop around, ask questions about tools, experience and processes. A great web design company is closer to an all in one solution than a company that only focuses on certain aspects of design.
Web design is a mix of art and science. You want your site to look as nice as possible but nice appearance alone isn’t going to bring you much traffic. Your first priority should be finding a designer who understands your checklist of objectives. In other words, if you want the company to handle all of your design and you need a high end site with its own e-commerce solution, you will want a firm with seasoned engineers, not just HTML writers.
Ask if the company is up to date with HTML 5 and uses cascading style sheets (CSS) as well as database programming. Find out if their pros use hand coding or a web editing software program such as Dreamweaver. If they only do one or the other keep searching until you find talent that can do both. A firm that does not use CSS is going to make your site very difficult and more expensive to update in the future should you design to make mass changes to the appearance of your web pages.
Many web design firms with tight budgets, especially start-up companies, hire designers with limited coding skills. If you are only doing a small five page site with basic functionality you may conclude that experience and knowledge are not as important as to whether or not someone can quickly and inexpensively build your site. But if your site is meant to have a lot of interactivity with users, especially involving mobile platforms, you will want the most seasoned experts as possible for your budget.
You may have heard many times that “content is king” online. Content, meaning useful information, is certainly what drives eyeballs to the web. Chances are, no matter what web design company you choose, the bulk of your content will either come from your own company or you will subcontract the work to writers who specialize in your field. Web design companies at best may be able to proof, edit and spice up your content, but it is rare to find a full service internet company that can just start writing your content for you without doing a lot of research, which takes time and costs more money.
A multimedia site that streams audio and video or offers digital downloads for sale will likely be a bigger, more complex and expensive project. Be clear about the time frame involved at developing a multimedia site. Find out if the company outsources its labor or if the designers are in-house. Try to avoid companies that do a lot of outsourcing for more complex sites. For the sake of consistency, you will likely want the same designers who become familiar with your site over time.
As for graphics, you do not necessarily need the graphic artist to be an in-house employee of the web design firm you use. All the web design company really needs are files emailed to them from your graphic artist. The same is true with video or audio, since credible web design companies understand internet standards for presenting various media. Ask the firm to make sure they test your site on all popular browsers (IE, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari), since a site can potentially look different on each browser. If the response isn’t something like “sure, no problem,” then keep searching.
Finally, search engine optimization (SEO) has become a major component of web development. Unfortunately, this is an issue where expertise becomes questionable with a lot of firms. The science of SEO is constantly evolving, as Google frequently changes its system for indexing websites. Many tricks for getting high placement in search rankings become outdated, especially if it involves some form of spam. One thing that hasn’t changed is search engines seek quality content that points users to useful information.
Finding an all in one service that builds your site, as well as hosts your site and provides web statistics is ideal for someone trying to keep a complex project sensible. For those who need just simple websites, there are many low cost solutions that let you create your own web pages in a matter of minutes.
Posted on: June 22, 2012
Consider these helpful tips when planning your next web design project
Written by: James Weir, Founder of Xpirt Design
The internet is really the most accessible as well as the most important medium of communication as well as information dissemination in these modern times. That’s the reason why a number of companies as well as agencies seek the services of web designers as well as web developers to enable them to get connected around the globe in a split second.
In their eagerness to catch the “world”, quite a few companies commit the mistake of hiring website designer who doesn’t address their needs. Low experience as well as intimate knowledge in web designing more often than not leads to the following failures:
Treating SEO as a different project from the website – search engine optimization (SEO) ought to be at the core of the website. Make sure your designer provides you with an optimized website and to take care of everything to include keyword search, duplicate content, multiple domains, Google local listing, semantic mark-up, search engine friendly navigation as well as structure, and html and CSS coding.
Ignoring user interaction and also focusing on design perspective only – the success of a website greatly is dependent upon its guests. a not-so-great user experience will likely be a direct result improper design. Some designers neglect to look into user interaction. A professional web designer gives you understanding of the web as well as how users interact with it. He or she understands user interfaces and design techniques, including color theory and everything in relation. Design will include functionality and not mere appeal.
Neglecting to measure website performance – you’ll not realize the importance of something unless of course it’s measured. Assess the impact of your website with the use of metrics. Check out charts and reports to keep an eye on number of visitors, page views, traffic sources, keyword report, and content distribution. Measuring your website’s success is very important in case you want to make an impact online. By simply knowing how frequently people visit your web site, you would know how your site is faring on the internet and in case your site has actually reached its audience.
Neglecting to check former jobs or projects – check out what other individuals say about the designer or design company. Ask for recommendations from people you know having existing websites. Look into their weaknesses and strengths and learn from their experience. It’s also beneficial to ask for samples of previous work or company portfolio of the web designer you’re preparing to hire.
You’re shelling out significant amount to have a website designed for your company. Take good care of your resources; it is of great importance to find and also hire a reliable and professional designer.
Building a web site is one thing. Web design is another.
Websites are becoming increasingly well designed. There are some tremendous visual designs out there on the internet, some of which will have been designed by top class professional designers at huge costs, some by just clever skilled individuals with a tremendous flair for design. Some however will have been built by people who really should have stuck to what they really know!
Visual design is one thing, but the complete structure of the site being well designed is another. Building the site well is an important factor… just building it as a series of pages and links with bad navigation and clunky images and content, is not a good idea at all. This loses you customers.
So what am i trying to say? Lets start with…
To formulate the best web site you need to be able to convey to your audience exactly where you are coming from and how you can help them. A lot of that will be in the content and copy writing but I will leave that for now. However the instant visual imagery and immediate answer to their wishes must be conveyed within a few seconds of the visitor uncovering your page. It is most important that it does a lot of this visually. That’s where good graphic design comes in. the correct colors, images and overall feel makes all the difference in keeping or losing your visitor.
Once you have grabbed the eye of your visitor, they will want to learn more and this is your chance to tell them all about it and steer them to that all important contact page or email form. If your site is clunky, difficult to navigate and the visitor has to spend most of their time wandering about looking for those all important links… they will go somewhere else and you will have lost them… forever!
It used to be no more than three “clicks” to get to what you want, otherwise forget it. I think it should be no more than two “clicks” or even none at all… it just lands in their lap! Ideal of course but not always the most practical. Mind you if the visitor is directed straight to a landing page… well that would be perfect. It captures them and gets their contact details and you are set to follow up a potential customer!
Just building the site is not enough. Time needs to be taken to formulate the whole process and put together a structural map on paper. Work out where the information will be displayed and make it easy to find. I have struggled with big web sites, like local government sites. They are probably “organic”, stuck together by various people in different departments and because of this no one thinks out how the unsuspecting public may easily find that snippet of information or downloadable form etc. So you call them up and take up everyone’s time and complain too! (Have you ever noticed that the bigger the company gets, the less obvious their direct contact info is until it drops off somewhere to be lost forever? it’s all down to “knowledge bases” and “tickets”).
Some savvy people create the working structuring of the site in “wireframe” so you get the whole thing in front of the client to test, check and see if the client is happy before you go to all that trouble of loading in the content. A website wireframe is the only way to keep everything clear and in perspective whilst you are developing (building) a web site. The client knows exactly where he/she stands and what to expect. It is rather like doing a pencil sketch before the ruler and ink comes out. It will utilize basic boxes and simple lines to define the layout, image positions, navigation and text areas, before the actual content has been created at all.
Ok friends! fire up your design software and let’s get started.
Posted on: May 20, 2011
Finally, wholesale e-commerce made easy!
While developing and designing a recent Magento website, we were given the challenge to create both a retail customer site, and a wholesale site. However, instead of creating two separate websites, like most web design companies would done, we wanted to somehow consolidate the two ideas to work with one website, and one e-commerce software. We want to be able to provide our clients a turn-key wholesale and retail solution, so that the client can expand their online services easy and efficiently. We chose to use Magento to accomplish our goal. Though Magento does not come standard with wholesale features, it is the most advanced, feature rich, reliable, secure, and flexible e-commerce software available today.
To accomplish our goal, we needed to do a customize a few features, based on the nature of the client’s business.
1) Create an approval system for wholesale customers
2) Only wholesale customers can view special wholesale prices
3) Retail customers can only see retail prices
4) Manage both types of customers in 1 Magento back end
Most of the solutions we found ended up in ‘Creating two Magento websites/stores’, which is not what we wanted to do. We were looking for a single website solution. So we tried playing with the Magento customer grouping features, within the Magento customer manager area in the admin panel:
1. We created a new tax class for Wholesale by Sales ? Tax ? Customer Tax Classes
2. We created customer groups (Retail and Wholesale).
Customers ? Customer groups ? AddNew Customer.
3. And selected the wholesale tax class for wholesale customer group.
An extension is required; Netzarbeiter_GroupsCatalog, to hide or show categories and products from specified types of customer groups (wholesale or retail in our case).
When adding a product an additional option ‘Hide from customer groups’ will be there. This enables us to select the customer groups to whom the product can be made hidden. For instance, a product meant only for wholesale customers will only display to customers who are in the wholesale customer group. The wholesale customer will logon to their account (approval for a wholesale account is required). Once they have logged on, they will only see the wholesale products available. Retail customers will only see the retail products. When adding a product, you will be able to select which customer group you want to show the product to. You can also choose to show the product to both types of customers.
Here’s the link to access this custom plugin Magento Plugin
Though Magento does not differentiate wholesale from retail out of the box, Xpirt Design has done the research and the programming to provide our clients these features within the Magento E-Commerce software. This enables our clients to automate wholesale and retail as much as possible. You can also use these features to manage drop shipping, and other services you might want to offer. Let us know if there is a special need for your e-commerce website. Xpirt Design can help.
If you need Magento Design, please call us or use the “Request a Quote” form.
Xpirt Design is a professional and affordable Web Design Company based in Orange County California.
Posted on: March 24, 2011
After two years of servicing Orange County with web design and SEO, Xpirt Design has now expanded into the greater Los Angeles area. We now provide in-house consultations for both Orange County and Los Angeles!
Remember, it’s important to choose a web design and SEO company who is local to you. I can’t tell you how many horror stories I’ve heard from clients because they chose a web design company out of state, or even out of the country. The fact of the matter is, legitimate web design companies who are local to you stand a better chance in providing you with the best customer service, and the best communication. It’s very hard to communicate ideas, graphics, and procedures to someone who lives in a different time zone. Plus, you want the accountability of a web design company who is located near you. This decreases the chances of you getting ripped off.
So anyways, now that we’re servicing Los Angeles with our web design and SEO services, please feel free to ask about our free consultations. We’ll drive as far as south Orange County and as far as Northridge.
Posted on: March 15, 2010
Purchase a custom designed E-Commerce website from us and we’ll throw in free search engine optimization!
Once your website is complete, getting customers to find you online should be your next goal. Web Design, paired up with search engine optimization ensures that your website will be found by customers using the various search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN/Bing. Our search engine optimization services are second-to-none. This special only applies to customers located in Orange County, CA and only applies to brand new e-commerce web design. Call us today to take advantage of this great deal!
Posted on: January 5, 2010
by: James Weir, Orange County Web Design
To kick of the new year of 2010, we decided to put together a list of the top web design forums that we feel could be a useful resource to those of you looking to join a community of designers and developers. As the web design industry continues to grow, the need for such communities grow. These forums were hand picked based on the quality of information available, level of community support by it’s members, and finally, the popularity of the forum. If you have any recommendations for other forums, please feel free to let us know in the comments.
Posted on: December 17, 2009
by: James Weir, Xpirt Design
On behalf of Xpirt Web Design and SEO, I would like to provide the Magento open source developer community with a simple and straightforward solution in fixing the notorious problems with Magento’s category administration panel. If you get the dreaded “Please Wait” image that gets stuck or frozen when trying to add or modify categories on a fresh install, then this article is for you.
On a side note, this solution applies to Magento fresh installs on the latest stable version of 184.108.40.206, and also applies only to the problem of adding or modifying categories, as well as attempting to create, upload, or save a new product. This solution also applies to some users who are having trouble with the “Security” problem when trying to upload an image to a product. And lastly, this is a solution to the problem of saving configurations within the admin panel, such as editing and saving your company information, ect. This is “A” solution to these problems, not “THE” solution to these problems and I sincerely hope this solution works for you.
Just recently, we were trying to install a fresh version of the latest stable version of Magento (as of today, 12/17/09) for a new web design client that required the robust and feature-packed e-commerce solution, Magento. After a flawless install at the hosting company “Blue Host”, we logged into the admin panel of Magento and proceeded to start adding categories and products. Of course, like so many of you, we ran into the “Please Wait” problem when trying to add new product categories. We also ran into the common problem of getting the “Please Wait” notification when trying to save or add a new product, as well as the common problem of the “Security Risk” when trying to upload a picture for a new product. We followed all the directions that both the Magento Community and Blue Host documentations provided. As you can imagine, we were stumped.
After several hours of searching through the Magento Community Forums, we were left with no other options than to plead with our hosting company to help out. The hosting company (Blue Host) refused to assist in this matter and basically told us to go back to Magento with the problem. I expected a response like that and wasn’t surprised.
Just before we were going to give up, I thought to myself “why aren’t the updating information functions working either?” After thinking for a while, I decided to check out the .htaccess file in the public_html root to see if there are any 301 domain canonical redirects (in English, that’s the non-www. to www.). There was a 301 canonical redirect in the .htaccess file in the root, and another thing I noticed; If you use the “www redirect” in the C-Panel of your web host at the same time, it confuses the server and applications, such as Magento, will throw errors and won’t work correctly. So what I did was turn off the “www redirect” in the hosting C-Panel, then deleted the 301 canonical redirects (again, for those of you who still do not know what this is, this 301 redirect either adds or removes the “www” from your domain name, since search engines see the www. And non-www. As two separate websites and will penalize your SERPS or Rankings for duplicate content). Sure enough, the next time I logged into the Magento admin panel, the categories worked perfectly, the adding products functions worked perfectly, and uploading product images worked perfectly. No more “Please Wait” or “Security Risk” issues at all, whatsoever.
Magento is extremely finicky. On a fresh install, check your .htaccess files for errors and temporarily turn off the www redirects in the C-Panel of your hosting account. Then take one step at a time in setting up your canonical 301 redirects, preferably, use the .htaccess file instead of the C-Panel www redirect function.
I really hope this article will help some of you fix this problem. I can’t tell you how much of a headache this was, and how many hours of being frustrated, pissed off, and just plain irritated I was because of this problem. I mean, Magento is the Rolls Royce of e-commerce and it’s exciting to finally get to use the product, and then the nightmare begins when the darn thing wont just work. In any case, the problem is solved, and I would like to know if this solution helped some of you out there with the same problems. Please feel free to post comments about your experiences. These are DOFOLLOW comments for you SEO guys out there, but I do keep a close moderation on them so careful with the spam.
Also, for those of you who need any web design services, or need to design a template or theme for Magento, or any other E-commerce software, please visit our orange county web design section and find out how Xpirt Design can help you.
Posted on: November 4, 2009
Written by: James Weir, Xpirt Design, web design orange county
The goal of a professional web design company is to create a website that is attractive, easily navigable, and accomplishes the motive of the site. Whether you are selling products, services, or just displaying information, the motive of the website must be accomplished. There are many ways to increase the success of websites; however this article will explain ways to improve your website’s usability, attractiveness, and browser compatibility, by using proven web design techniques.
The objective here is to create useful, unique content. You want the user to view your company, or website as a reputable resource for whatever industry or niche you are a part of. Grammar and correct spelling is very important if you want users to view you as a reputable resource. Providing useful content that is unique and informative is a great way to increase your reputation as well as keeping the users interested in what you are offering. Creating useful and unique content is also important for search engine visibility, in other words, search engine optimization. You want to create new content regularly because the search engines will view your website as a valuable information resource and will tend to rank your website appropriately.
A web design’s cross browser compatibility is also important. If your website looks good in Internet Explorer, but looks misaligned or improper in Fire Fox, the people viewing your website with Fire Fox or Opera (which is about 30-40% these days) will click off of your website and move on to the next. This is why it is important to ensure your web design encoding for cross browser compatibility. This is a major problem with some of the older, outdated websites today. It is important to keep your web design’s coding up to date and bug-free.
When using graphics and pictures in your web design, you want to compress the image, avoid using too many images per page, or resize the images appropriately. The reason is to keep the page loading time down. If your images are too large, your website’s load time will increase, and most users these days will immediately leave the website. Also, it is important to label your images by using the image’s “ALT” tag. Labeling the ALT tags will tell the users who have images turned off in their browsers what that image is supposed to be. For search engine optimization, since the search engines do not view images, these ALT tags notify the search engines what that image is about, and in turn, you will increase your credibility on the subject matter with the search engines.
Avoid using background colors that blend with your text color. You want your text to stand out and be clearly readable to the users. It is true that sometimes, certain blending colors will look attractive in the web design, however, you are sacrificing the user’s ability to read the text for the design look and feel.
It is extremely important for users to be able to easily navigate through the website. A properly designed website will have an easy to use menu. You should always try to follow the three-click rule, which means the user should be able to reach any part of the website within three clicks or less. If you follow the three-click rule, you will have an easy to use navigation or menu system that is search engine friendly, as well as user friendly.
Use text links whenever possible. Search engines prefer the use of text links over image links or flash menus, ect. The text link should always describe the subject of the link and should be short and concise. If you find that you must use image links, remember to use the ALT tags and label the images according to its subject.
Make sure all links are working, point to the correct destination, and are labeled properly. It is bad for a user to click on a link and find that the link either leads to the wrong destination, or doesn’t work (broken link). The user will get turned off and move on to another web site. Search engines also use links to navigate through the website. If a link is broken, the search engine will have a hard time indexing the page where the link is pointing to. You can use Google Webmaster Tools to diagnose broken links. It is always good to create a sitemap, whether it be an HTML sitemap or an XML sitemap. Site maps are a good back up for search engines to easily navigate (as well as users) through the site. A sitemap is simply a list of pages on the website in the form of links. You may also use descriptions beside the links to inform the users further.
Frames are bad. Avoid using any kind of frames at all costs. A good web design will not use frames for the design structure. The only time frames should be needed is when displaying 3rd party content on the website.
Follow these general web design guidelines and you will find that your website will generate more results, look more attractive, and be easier to use. I can’t tell you how important a good, smart, and search engine friendly web design is to both the users and search engines. I’ve seen so many websites, that have great products or information, but end up failing because of a poorly designed website. Don’t let that happen to you!
If you are interested in using Xpirt Design for your next website design project, please visit us at web design orange county for more information.
Posted on: May 17, 2009
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are used to define the styled elements of a web page such as elements of the layout, colour and fonts, and then separate them from the content of the page (paragraphs/images).
CSS allows you to use greater or smaller font size.
It allows you more control of your page structure.
It allows you to keep the file sizes smaller, which decreases the load time of the page. Search engines prefer faster load times.
By using CSS, you can also increase the organization effectiveness of your coding. There much less code on the page, which makes things easier to find, edit, ect. This saves tons of time, and of course, the less code on the page means faster load time.
CSS allows greater, more advanced flexibility in creating the styles for your website design than using only HTML. You can get the look and feel you want without comprimising the structure of the website. Using tables for layout purposes is an example of outdated, and improper methods for layout design. Using Div Tags and CSS is the proper way to design a layout.
Google rewards the pages that have proper structure and it is wrong to assume that using the standard makes websites look bland and boring. If used properly, you can definately use CSS and Validated HTML to create stunning and functional websites, while benefiting from the rewards from search engines.
Be aware that some browsers interpret CSS differently than others, and therefore will display differently. For instance, Fire Fox and Internet Explorer. Most web designers can agree that internet explorer is not the choice browser for web designing. It has too many bugs, and makes too much use of improper coding. Firefox on the otherhand adheres to the strict CSS standards. Because of this, these 2 browsers can cause many problems when trying to display the CSS, so you need to be careful and write a seperate code for each browser.
This concludes my short article on CSS and its benefits. Please go to web design and seo in orange county for more information on our services.