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5 Tips to Help Your Website Load Faster

Web DesignWhen it comes to your website, you must consider more than just design. There are some factors that determine whether or not your site visitors will stay to explore or leave without so much as a goodbye. One thing that can make or break your website’s success is the amount of time it takes for your pages to load. After all, web surfers are a finicky bunch; they lose interest quickly if they can’t move around your site quickly and efficiently. So, what steps can you take to prevent page load lag? Here are five tips to help your website load faster:

Cut out unnecessary coding

Bulky coding slows downloading speed because browsers must read through everything as they load your pages. Therefore, just going through your coding to eliminate unnecessary white space and tag elements can reduce the amount of time it takes for your pages to load.

Enable caching

PHP caching will store images and other vital information from your site on visitors’ computers when it is downloaded the first time so that your site visitors can subsequently retrieve that data in the blink of an eye.

Trim your images down

Graphics take much longer to load than text, so you should be strategic about your use of them. There are a few things you can do to trim down your images. First, assess the images you are using to determine which are necessary, and then keep only those. Second, scale the images down if you can (as smaller images will load faster than larger images). Third, if you have a page with many images (an online catalog page, for example), then you can give each image its own page instead of including all of the images on one, slow-loading page.

Optimize your database

There are numerous ways you can optimize your database to decrease your site’s load times. Simple search the web for “database optimization” to learn the details of how to get optimal performance out of your site by optimizing your database.

Find a new host

Believe it or not, the distance you are from your host affects how quickly your site loads. You can decrease your page load time by simply choosing a host that is nearby.

Additionally, some of the cheaper hosting companies use cheap equipment. This can significantly delay your site load. Consider upgrading.

5 Tips to Help Your Website Load FasterWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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Design Essentials for Websites: 5 Must-Haves

Web DesignWhen people think of web design, they often think of things like graphics, page layout, and attention-grabbing fonts. And yes these elements are certainly part of web design. The truth is, however, that web design essentials encompass much more than just aesthetics. Are you interested in learning more about what makes a great website design? Then check out these five must-have website design essentials:

Navigation.

This pertains to how people will get around on your site. You can’t make them work for it. You want all of your content to be readily available and good navigation is the answer. Use primary navigation, secondary navigation, text menus, internal links, search boxes and breadcrumbs wisely. Do this throughout your site to ensure your site visitors can easily find what they are looking for.

Leading the eye

In addition to navigating through the site, you must also help visitors determine how to focus their attention on each page. You must “lead the eye,” so to speak, by strategically applying weighting, placement, positioning, spacing, and highlighting techniques to guide your visitors from areas of primary importance to supporting, or secondary, areas.

Typography

The type and size of font you use will greatly impact the user experience and will go a long way in creating the impression you want (or even one you don’t want if you are not careful). Additionally, you must consider line spacing, text effects, line length, paragraph size, and emphasis (italics and bold) when placing your typography.

Clarity

While it may be tempting to pack your website with all the neat graphics and informative content you can, it is more important that your site visitors can easily ascertain what is on your page. Keep in mind that simplicity is almost always preferable over complexity when it comes to web design and that too many visuals (and/or too much information) could end up looking like nothing more than a jumbled mess to your site visitors.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

Your site is no good if others can’t find it on the web. When it comes to design essentials, good SEO practices include using alt text for images, no-following outbound links that are irrelevant to the site, and labeling page titles and headers effectively.

Design Essentials for Websites: 5 Must-HavesWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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How a Good Website Design Creates a Great Impression

Web DesignIt goes without saying that your business needs a strong web presence to be successful in the Age of Information and that your website is integral to your web presence. However, do you realize the importance of good web design, when it comes to your business brand? That’s right – it’s not just enough to have an aesthetically pleasing site with good content. Good design is more complex than that, and it can mean the difference between having an effective or ineffective website. Want to know why design is so important? Here is how a good website design creates a great impression:

Professionalism

When you take shortcuts, it shows. Don’t make the mistake of taking shortcuts with your web design. Sure, your teenage cousin knows a thing or two about creating websites, but unless he can create a top-notch, professional-looking site for your business, your site is just going to look amateurish, and your site visitors will get the impression that you are an amateur. Spring for a good website design.

Navigation

Good design is centered on creating an effortless experience for your site visitors. You don’t want people to have to work or make guesses to find their way around your site. By providing them with straightforward, simple, and well-organized site navigation, you are not only giving your visitors the impression that you care about catering to them, but you are also ensuring they can find (and read!) all of the valuable content you have on your site.

Branding

Your website design should be in line with your business branding in every way – from the colors to the fonts. That means that good web design, with your brand in mind, will elevate your brand and increase brand awareness, thereby creating a lasting impression for your visitors.

Attention grabbing

You have a very limited window of time in which to grab new site visitors’ attention and pique their interest enough to want to stay and explore for a while. As a matter of fact, studies show that a first impression in the web world may take as little a fraction of a second to form. Good web design will snag your site visitors and enable you more time to get your message through to them. In a world where first impressions are so vital, you can’t afford not to invest in good design.

How a Good Website Design Creates a Great ImpressionWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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Fonts as a Design Element for Websites, Part 1

Web DesignChoosing your font

Fonts like images, beautiful colors and a user-friendly navigation are a design element. A font can either enhance or detract from the theme and feeling of your web design. Successful web designers understand this and know or learn which typefaces are most effective. The rules in the web environment are anything but arbitrary so they need to be followed if a website is to engage the reader rather than turn them away.

There are a lot of fonts out there, so many that choosing a font for your website can be overwhelming. The choice is important, however. Certainly, you want people to read the useful content provided on your site. The intricate details of a font, such as weight, kerning, axes, strokes, and counters affect how we read, although we are rarely conscious of it. The font that you choose could determine how much text is read and how effective your site is.

Yes, there are thousands of fonts from which to choose but only a few are successful on the web. Readability and availability are the issues. First, consider the difference between two popular font types: serif and sans serif.

Serif or sans serif

Serif fonts are fonts that have fine cross lines at the ends of the letters. Because the lines make each character more distinctive, serif text is typically easier to read in print, but generally harder to read on a monitor, particularly at smaller sizes. Serif fonts have been used for centuries in printed books, magazines, and newspapers. Consider a serif font for your website if you wish to convey qualities like warm, personal, artistic, distinguished, traditional, conservative or intellectual. Serif fonts are effective as headings or for text and documents intended to be downloaded and printed. The most common serif font is Times New Roman and just happens to be the default for most Windows-based browsers.

Sans means ‘without’ in French, so naturally, a sans-serif font doesn’t have the embellishments at the end of each stroke. Sans serif fonts are generally thought to be better for the web. This was particularly true when computer screens didn’t have a high enough resolution to capture the fine details of the serifs. They could appear blurred and unclear. Even today, on a screen, sans-serif fonts appear more readable. Sans serif fonts convey qualities like technical, cool, clean, crisp, youthful, modern or uncluttered. The most popular web font at the moment seems to be Verdana. It is a sans serif font and looks good on both PCs and Macs. Because of this, it is one of the most popular, widely-used fonts on the web.

Availability constrained by technology

Some fonts look better on PCs (such as Arial), while others are best viewed on Macs (like Helvetica and Geneva). The range of fonts that webmasters can reliably select for their pages is not as wide as you may think. Evan more limiting than avoiding Serif fonts (perhaps less of a requirement with today’s hardware) web designers have long been limited by what fonts website users have installed on their computers.

The list of universally available fonts is slowly growing, with additional fonts such as Cambria and Candara coming into the picture. In an ideal world, all fonts would be loaded onto all systems to open up design possibilities. Until then, conventional wisdom suggests that you use Web safe fonts from the following list.

Serif

  • Times New Roman/ Times
  • Georgia

San Serif

  • Arial Black
  • Arial/Helvectica
  • Comic Sans
  • Tahoma
  • Trebuchet MS
  • Verdana

Monospace

  • Courier New/ Courier

By selecting one or more of these fonts for your website, you will be able to somewhat control how your text will appear in most browsers. Using Cascading Style Sheets, which is the underlying technology used by a web page to control its appearance, web designers can specify a list of fonts to be used. In CSS your font-family code might look something like:

p{font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, Sans-serif}

The first three fonts are pretty common and chances are most computers will have at least one installed, but in case one doesn’t you provide the computers generic sans-serif font for the browser to use.

Technology advances

Google Web fonts are amazing free resource for web designers as seen at the LearnWebDevelopment and Fox News sites. A web with web fonts is more beautiful, readable, accessible and open. This is a newer approach that makes it quick and easy for everyone to use a broader selection of web fonts, over 500 font families, and counting. Google’s API service makes it easy to add Web fonts to a website in seconds. The service runs on Google’s servers which are fast, reliable and tested. Google provides this service free of charge. [Author’s note: To learn how to add Google Web fonts in WordPress themes the right way, optimized for performance go to http://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-themes/how-add-google-web-fonts-wordpress-themes/.]

Breaking the rules

Occasionally, there will be times when the “artist” in us desires to break the design rules. Thus, if you absolutely want to ensure your text displays in a specific font you will need to make that text an image. Just be aware that if you want to make any changes to the content at all, you’re going to have to edit the image itself, which is much more tedious than going in and editing text. This should be done sparingly as search engines won’t recognize the text in the image. Using images for your text will also increase the download time of your pages. However, there are places where it’s appropriate to use an image to display text. A good example would be your company logo.

Remember you are the designer

While fonts may not seem as important a design element as color and graphics, thoughtful consideration should go into your selections. The fonts will convey important information about your company, products, and services. They will help visitors successfully navigate your site and interact with you. Most important, the right fonts will contribute to your site’s overall visitor experience. If it’s positive, your content is read and you have made the right choices.
Fonts as a Design Element for Websites, Part 1Dr. John Elcik is the Pragmatic Web Designer. He is passionate about the application of web technologies to marketing communication issues. His specialties include web design, social media and customer relationship management technologies. His search for the “right” font has been a pragmatic one. It has never been about looking for something unique and distinctive that expresses his particular aesthetic taste. Rather, “appropriateness” is the acid test that guides his choice of font. His favorite fonts are: Takoma, among the san serif, faces for body text and Georgia, among the serif faces for headings. Typefaces that have a number of weights (light, regular, bold, etc.) and/or cuts (italic, condensed, etc.) work are good choices to become your personal “workhorse.”

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Recommendations for a Great Web Designer

Web DesignIf you’re in search of a great web designer, you may want to skip Elance and go directly to Twitter, do not pass go. Finding recommended vendors and freelancers for your business may be as easy as asking the hundreds of folks in your social media network who they recommend. Here’s a breakdown of ways to find trusted contractors, by social media outlet:

LinkedIn

One of the most powerful elements of LinkedIn is the “recommendations” feature. You can write, read, and request recommendations from others in your network. It may take a little legwork, but you can use this feature to find a great copywriter, and read what others have to say about him or her. Think of it as a Yelp for people.

Twitter

While you’re missing out on the depth of information available on LinkedIn, you can get instantaneous responses. For instance, tweet “Looking for a great online bookkeeper” and you should get a bunch of responses within minutes. Give more weight to those that come from inside your network, though, as often a request for referrals will generate automated responses from a spammer. It looks like it comes from one of your friends, but is actually just an ad.

Facebook

You can post requests for referrals, just like on Twitter, and you can also search for people with those keywords in their profiles. Beware, though; just because someone is listed as “Penelope Bookkeeper” doesn’t mean they’re an expert. You could also post your request in groups that are associated with the topic (post a request for a logo designer on a graphic artists’ Facebook group wall, for example).

YouTube

It might seem a little strange to put out a call for resources via video, but why not? Especially if you have a significant following, you could get a tremendous response. Added benefit: If the project you have in mind has a visual aspect, you can demonstrate it right on the video (think office organization, website overhaul, kitchenette remodel).

Even if fourteen people recommend the same web designer, make sure to do your due diligence. Get a written quote and scope of work, ask for a list of projects completed, and confirm that that person will be doing your project personally, not outsourcing to another. With these tips in mind, you should be able to find great outsourcing resources at the click of a mouse.

Recommendations for a Great Web DesignerWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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How Much Does a Quality Website Cost?

Web DesignPlanning your web design budget

Every website is different, which makes pricing an “art” more than a “science.” This being the case, all web developers use different methods to determine the cost of web design. There are four common types of web design pricing used in the industry today: Hourly rates, Project price, Package rates and Per page. Each of the common methods for website pricing is described below. If you already have a requirements list for your website ask for a quote.

Charging hourly

A very common way for web designers to charge is by the hour. Depending on the experience, your location, and many other factors, the hourly rate can be anywhere from $10 outsourced overseas to $200 per hour for a high-level consultant! This is a huge difference but you can find both and everything in between.

The important thing is to remember – you really do “get what you pay for.” Make sure the web developer is worth the rate they charge. Always check with the designer’s past clients. Common hourly rates:

  • Student/Offshore: $10-$30/hour
  • Freelancer: $35-$100/hour
  • Expert Consultant: $50-$200/hour
  • Company: $75-$150/hour

Per project pricing

Many web design firms will give you a set price to complete your project. This can be a good option. Make sure you have a thorough and complete requirements list before you begin the project. A good design firm will break out each proposal section with a list of features, specification and assumptions for each section of your website. Make sure you get it in writing so you both have clear expectations. Common pricing for projects:

  • Outsourced Offshore: $500 – $15,000
  • US Designer: $3,000 – $20,000
  • US Web Design Firm: $5,000 – $50,000

Package rates

Many web designers will have pre-made packages that are usually cheaper than the project model. The drawback with packages is that they try and fit your business into a pre-made website that might not have all the bells and whistles a custom site has. Most designers, however, will have a flat package rate then allow you to request customization at an additional charge. Package rates at Pragmatic Web Design begin at $299 for up to 3 pages.

Per page pricing

Some web designers charge a flat rate per page, this can range from as low as $50 to as much as $200 per page. This pricing is usually for basic static brochure websites that do not require a lot of custom features. The per page price may go down with a bulk discount depending on the number of pages you need. Typically, designers with less experience are the ones who usually charge per page prices.

Brochure websites

In this day and age, it is essential for a company to have an online presence as well as a basic corporate brochure site. A “brochure” site simply means a website that serves as an online brochure that gives general information about your company products and services. A brochure site does not have complex database programming, e-commerce, or lots of interactivity. It basically serves as an online advertisement that features graphic design. These websites may start for as little as $500 or be as high as $2,500.

Complex websites

E-commerce, Corporate or Commercial websites can range from very simple to very complex. There are quite a few things to consider when preparing to budget. More complex sites feature a greater level of interactivity and database integration. You may need a private intranet for employee communication and document sharing, or an extranet to share information and track vendors and/or customers. If you choose the lowest price possible you will probably not get any qualified providers to respond. These websites usually start around $5,000 and can go as high as $25,000 depending on the complexity. I say usually; as sites can go as high as $100,000.

Summary

If you have a requirements list for your website or would like to develop one; call 239-400-0622 or email [email protected] a request for a quote. At Pragmatic Web Designer we make estimating a project easy. Details on package pricing are provided in detail online. Our other rates are $50 an hourly or $100 a page. Project proposals can be made based on a requirements list.

How Much Does a Quality Website Cost?When it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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The Correlation Between Traffic and Sales

Web DesignMost of us involved in the internet or online marketing understand the correlation between traffic and sales. The more people who visit your site, the more sales you’re going to have. But just getting traffic to your site isn’t always enough to grow your sales. It’s important to be sure that you’re doing everything you can to maximize the number of sales that you get from the current traffic you have, and to make sure once someone has visited, they keep coming back.

How to Get The Sale

First of all, rethink how you sell to your customers. Instead of giving a hard sell, always keep in mind how you can best benefit your reader. People are more likely to buy from someone they trust, so write your sales copy as if you were trying to tell a friend about a great product. It will make the reader feel as if you’re talking directly to them.

After you’ve made some sales, try to get testimonials or reviews from your customers. It’s important to put a variety of comments; include the bad with the good. If all you’ve got are string after string of positive comments, it looks phony. The important thing is that people are more likely to trust buying from you when they see that other’s have. It’s called the “bandwagon” syndrome – everybody wants to jump on it!

Use enticing images of your product, showing it in use if possible. When people see something being used, it makes them think of how they could use it for themselves, giving them more incentive to buy.

If you can, offer bonuses for the purchase of your products. Let people see the monetary value of the bonus; they’ll feel more like they’re getting more value for their money.

Don’t forget to ask for the sale! I’ve seen so many sites that have a beautiful copy that lists benefits of the product, great bonuses, and lots of convincing testimonials – and then never tells the visitor “Click Here to Buy!” People have a tendency to do what they’re told; it’s human nature. When you see a big red button that says click here – you’re likely to click it! It’s also important that you make it very clear what they need to do to purchase. Make sure the link is big and obvious.

Keep Them Coming Back

Once you’ve made the sale, you want to make sure you don’t lose contact with the customer. If they’re happy with their purchase, they’re more likely to buy from you again. Even if someone hasn’t purchased from you before, if you can get them to return to your site over and over, you’re much more likely to make a future sale. Don’t let these potential customers slip away!

A frequently updated blog on your site is one way to keep them coming back. Talk about issues that are important to your customers; talk about updates to the product, new ways to use it, or new products that they might be interested in. But not just that; if applicable, talk about yourself and let them know there’s a real person out there behind what you’re selling. They’re more likely to trust you, which means they’re more likely to buy your products.

Another way to keep people connected is by way of a forum. This is a very effective way of bringing people back to your site and keeping them engaged. It also gives them an easy way to talk directly to you about questions about your products, which increases the trust factor like nothing else.

While increased search traffic is always a worthwhile goal, optimizing your sell rate and increasing customer loyalty are ways to maximize your income without relying too heavily on the search engines. It’s the threefold approach that will lead to your success.

The Correlation Between Traffic and SalesWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]

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How to Maximize Sales Using the Internet

Web DesignMost of us involved in the internet or online marketing understand the correlation between traffic and sales. The more people who visit your site, the more sales you’re going to have.  But just getting traffic to your site isn’t always enough to grow your sales. It’s important to be sure that you’re doing everything you can to maximize sales that you get from the current traffic you have, and to make sure once someone has visited, they keep coming back.

How to get the sale

First of all, rethink how you sell to your customers. Instead of giving a hard sell, always keep in mind how you can best benefit your reader.  People are more likely to buy from someone they trust, so write your sales copy as if you were trying to tell a friend about a great product. It will make the reader feel as if you’re talking directly to them.

After you’ve made some sales, try to get testimonials or reviews from your customers. It’s important to put a variety of comments; include the bad with the good. If all you’ve got are string after string of positive comments, it looks phony. The important thing is that people are more likely to trust buying from you when they see that other’s have.  It’s called the “bandwagon” syndrome – everybody wants to jump on it!

Use enticing images of your product, showing it in use if possible. When people see something being used, it makes them think of how they could use it for themselves, giving them more incentive to buy.

If you can, offer bonuses for the purchase of your products. Let people see the monetary value of the bonus; they’ll feel more like they’re getting more value for their money.

Don’t forget to ask for the sale! I’ve seen so many sites that have beautiful copy that lists benefits of the product, great bonuses, and lots of convincing testimonials – and then never tells the visitor “Click Here to Buy!” People have a tendency to do what they’re told; it’s human nature. When you see a big red button that says click here – you’re likely to click it! It’s also important that you make it very clear what they need to do to purchase. Make sure the link is big and obvious.

Keep them coming back

Once you’ve made the sale, you want to make sure you don’t lose contact with the customer. If they’re happy with their purchase, they’re more likely to buy from you again. Even if someone hasn’t purchased from you before, if you can get them to return to your site over and over, you’re much more likely to make a future sale. Don’t let these potential customers slip away!

A frequently updated blog on your site is one way to keep them coming back. Talk about issues that are important to your customers; talk about updates to the product, new ways to use it, or new products that they might be interested in. But not just that; if applicable, talk about yourself and let them know there’s a real person out there behind what you’re selling. They’re more likely to trust you, which means they’re more likely to buy your products.

Another way to keep people connected is by way of a forum. This is a very effective way of bringing people back to your site and keeping them engaged. It also gives them an easy way to talk directly to you about questions about your products, which increases the trust factor like nothing else.

While increased search traffic is always a worthwhile goal, optimizing your sell rate and increasing customer loyalty are ways to maximize your income without relying too heavily on the search engines. It’s the threefold approach that will lead to your success.

How to Maximize Sales Using the InternetWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email: [email protected]