Archive for the ‘General’ Category

CGK Consulting Group

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Website: www.cgk-consulting.com
Genre: Construction
Description: CGK Consulting Group needed a website that would showcase their amazing skills, community outreach and portfolio of work. The website features lots of fun CSS Transitions and can easily expand using the CMS to fit all their needs in the future.

Pierce Home Watch

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Website: www.piercehomewatchaz.com
Genre: Home Services
Description: This was the first of two websites I did a redesign for Pierce Homes. Even though they recently had their site redesigned, the site still looked outdated. They wanted a clean, modern website that was easy to navigate, and that was exactly what I tried to do for them. The end result was a monochromatic design that emphasized all their services and strengths as a home watch professional.

Jam in the Van

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Website: www.jaminthevan.com
Genre: Interactive Music Site
Description: Jam in the Van had their original site redesigned so they could include many new features. After signing up for the site, the user can stream, queue and download music. The bands page allows for the artists to be browsed by location, searched for, shown by staff picks, or viewed entirely. An e-commerce store will be up and running soon to buy some cool Jam in the Van merchandise like t-shirts and sunglasses.

Old Site Design

Click here to view the previous design of the site.

What’s a Bounce Rate and How to Improve It

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

You may have heard the phrase “bounce” to mean that someone is leaving. Having a website bounce is something very similar meaning they have left your site after viewing only one page. This can be any page of your website.

Having some type of monitor helps to identify your bounce rate, and often, which page the bounce comes from. I always recommend Google Analytics be added to your site, it has your bounce rate and many other items for Search Engine Optimization readily available for you. You can even set up Google Analytics to email you this information on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, creating even less work for you.

While the average bounce rate depends on the industry and type of website, a normal bounce range is between 40-50%. Usually, anything over a 60% bounce rate is a bad thing. Again, there are many exceptions to this rule, but most websites can follow these percentages. Below is an example of statistics for one month of a website from Google Analytics.

Bounce Rate from Google Analytics

Positive Reasons for Bounce Rates

A bounce rate of 0% can never be achieved, but below are a few positive reasons for bounce rates:

Contact Information

Many customers are simply looking for a phone number, email, business hours or a physical address on your website. If they successfully find this information on the first page they see, you have given the customer the information they were looking for. They would, most likely, otherwise already be familiar with your business and there is no reason for them to click on additional pages, which would create a bounce.

Resources or Informational Pages

Search engines (like Google) now create subpage listings in search results. These could link directly to the page or resource the person was looking for. Other websites may have links to a specific page on your website as a reference or promotion. This would mean many people would leave your site after viewing this content and return to the original website. This not only gives a link to your site, but also shows you are a credible source for that information.

Blogs

Many business and bloggers post articles on a regular basis. If viewers can read the new material on the first page, they are likely to leave afterwards since they have likely already have read the other pages or posts previously. If this is the case for you, a good idea would be to check the average time for each page. Depending on the length of your posts, you will usually see a longer time per page than a normal website.

Negative Reason for Bounce Rates

Having a bounce rate of over 60% should be of concern for you. This usually means that visitors are seeing something that elicits a bad reaction and causes them to leave. Here, doing more in depth research to find out which page people are leaving on might be helpful.

Spelling & Grammar

Most of us are not English majors who always use proper grammar when writing; I know I am one of these people, but I can easily spot if someone uses ‘there’ instead of ‘their’, or ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’. The opposite is also true, writing in a way your general audience cannot understand with surely make them leave. Always take the time to proof, and if possible, have someone else proof your blog articles or pages for you before publishing.

Out of Date Material

One of my biggest issues with websites is very old copyright dates*. I looked at a website today that I would estimate cost in the five digit range originally and the copyright was from 2008. For me, that means the content is also most likely out of date. Some other examples would be: having a staff page with people that no longer work for the company, using dates in your content that are very old or no longer apply, or even a blog that has not been used in a year or more.  This outdated or inaccurate information is very damaging to your reputation as a credible source.

*There is a simple bit of code that can be added to most websites that updates your copyright automatically every year, so there’s really no reason for this to be wrong.

Poor Navigation or Layout

We have all probably seen the “Page Not Found” error when trying to view a page or website. Adding a broken link checker plugin, or creating a sitemap and uploading to Google’s Webmaster Tools will help you find and correct these problems.

Having a very complex navigation of pages could also be problematic to a viewer. Sometimes a person will quickly click through a few pages to try to find what they are looking for, or sometimes they will just leave and not return to your site. A good rule to follow is to make every page accessible by no more than two clicks. This can be accomplished by drop down menus, listing subpages in a sidebar, or having a site index.

Multiple Ads or Music/Video

If you have so many paid ads on the site that your content is hard to find or read, or if the ads are animated and distracting, a visitor is almost sure to leave. The same goes for music and videos that start automatically. Let the user decide if they want to listen or see the media, do not force them.

My opinion is small business should not use ads, unless they are for an affiliate that is also promoting your business. Bloggers or informational sites should use limited, discrete ads that do not interfere with content.

Consistently checking your bounce rate and for broken links will help keep you informed of any problems within your site. Want an expert opinion or need help setting up Analytics or Webmaster Tools? Contact us to get a free quote!

Eclipse CPR

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Website: www.eclipsecpr.com
Genre: Healthcare
Description: Eclipse CPR came to me looking for a new website design. Their old version was dated and difficult to navigate. The new site added a rotating banner and client testimonials all in a Content Management program that easily allows them to update their site.

Old Site Design

Click here to view the previous design of the site.

3 Simple Rules for Choosing a Domain Name

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Having a proper domain name for your website is crucial for your website. Not sure what a domain name is? Then think of your domain name as a phone number, and your actual website as the person that picks up when you dial that number. Just like a phone number, having something short and easy to remember will help people to find you quickly, but that is not the only factor to consider. Read on for 3 simple rules to choosing a domain name.

Domain Extensions

Since the internet grows each year, there are now other choices beyond the .com including .net, .org, .biz and many more. Since .com is the most popular extension, it is usually the first that comes to mind for most people and ultimately the best for most companies. An exception to this rule is for non-profits who usually have the extension .org (referring to an organization). This leads to another valuable point: if possible, always buy the most popular extensions for your domain name (.net, .org, .biz). These extra extensions can then be forwarded to your main domain name (if choosing the .com). Since domains only cost about $15 per year, this is an inexpensive and easy way to make sure no one muscles in on your domain name.

Domain Name Spellings

The spelling of your domain name is important to your success online. If your brand or company name has an unusual spelling, or a commonly misspelled word, it is best to try to find a domain name that may be more mainstream or easier to spell. Example: I have a small business in Portland called Principal Financial and I do investments. I buy the domain name PrincipalFinancial.com. There is a good chance that people might spell Principle instead of Principal. Knowing that, it would be wise to buy both PrincipalFinancial.com and PrincipleFinancial.com, the misspelled one would then be forwarded to the correct one. I could even go a step further and try to find a domain that uses keywords. This is explained further below.

Hyphens and Substituted Letters

Avoid using hyphens or numbers instead of words if possible. Adding in hyphens becomes confusing and hard to remember if there is a hyphen between each word or just one. Some people might forget the hyphen entirely which could bring them to a wrong website. The same goes for replacing numbers for words.

If your company or brand name is not available, you could focus on using keywords. Using the made up financial company above as an example, if PrincipalFinancial.com was not available, I could try using keywords such as PortlandInvestments.com or PortlandFinancial.com. This would help with my search engine rankings (SEO) for people in Portland searching for financial or investment companies.

Follow these 3 simple rules and you can’t go wrong:

      Keep it short
      Make it memorable
      Do not substitute letters or use hyphens if possible

Remember, domain names sell quickly! If you find one you like, make sure you buy it!

Could Your Site Design be Hurting Your Business?

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

When I first started learning HTML, a site called Geocities was popular. It was free to sign up (but had ads on the free version), and being young and poor, having a free personal website was great. I spent countless hours late at night editing the website code and adding items like blinking text and animated GIFs. If I were to put this into my portfolio today, I would be laughed out of the web designer community, banned from ever doing another website again and possibly might even have a hit out on me by the web design mafia*. This was also during the time cell phones were the size of your head and AOL charged by the hour to use the internet. The internet has evolved greatly since then and so have websites.

*The web design mafia does not really exist. But it should.

Is your website hurting your business?
Your website is a reflection of your business. Having an out of date or poor website design reflects badly on your company. I recently had a client come to me needing help with their website. When I was looking at their website, I thought it was done sometime in the early 90’s. The entire site looked dated, had grammar errors throughout the content, and made no sense from a navigation standpoint. I was shocked when I learned the website had been built within the past 6 months. I was able to work with the client in designing a new site that looked as modern and as professional as the business they were running.

Here are some helpful tips when reviewing your design:

Check competitor’s websites
Find competitors in other cities that offer the same services as yours and compare theirs to your website. If yours looks boring or out of date, it is time for a redesign.

Readability
If a viewer is not able to read your content, they will leave quickly. Make sure you are using fonts that are easy to see, large enough, and a strong contrast from your background (dark text with a light background is the easiest to read). For large blocks of text, a standard, clear font should be used; avoid fancy fonts.

Avoid Clutter
A webpage should be able to be scanned easily and quickly. Having too many ads, images or graphics makes it difficult to scan through your content. Keep pictures small and off the the side, and other items in a sidebar if possible.

Navigation
Having a two click rule is essential for keeping your site easy to navigate. This means every page should be no more than two clicks to find. Having a drop down menu, sidebar navigation for subpages, a search bar or a sitemap will help your customers move around your site.

Don’t look at your design
Have someone else look at it, preferably a person in the design field that can give you some constructive criticism. If you have been looking at your website for a long time it becomes difficult to be objective. Try to keep an open mind when you receive the comments if they are negative. It will only help you and your business to make changes.

These are just a few tips when looking at your website. Be realistic about website expiration dates. Websites are not meant to be static. They are meant to grow with your business. If your website has metaphoric paint peeling and stained carpets, potential customers are going to get the impression that you put the same care into your website as your business.

M. Nicley Testimonial

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

I came across Brandon Bush when I was seeking professional help with starting a website blog. My computer knowledge is very limited and I had no idea how to start or maintain a blog site. Brandon was extremely patient and very supportive during the start up process. He promptly responded to my inquiries and took time to explain things in a way that even a novice could understand. His guidance was invaluable and his input has made my blogging experience painless and enjoyable. Brandon is incredibly talented and I would recommend his services without reservation.

Paragon Peak

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Website: www.commercialcleaningtucson.com
Genre: Commercial Services
Description: Paragon Peak needed a redesign of their site both for being able to use Content Management to update their site, but to also add a less confusing navigation to their site. The redesign features a full background rotating image, a blog that displays recent articles on the home page, and a navigation with dropdowns for use of use.

Old Site Design

Click here to view the previous design of the site.

Pierce Homes

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Website: www.piercehomesaz.com
Genre: Real Estate & Construction
Description: I was shocked when I first saw their site and was told it had just been designed, I thought it was over 10 years old. After I showed them the ideas I had for their new site, they were on board. In fact, they also wanted me to redo their other site, Pierce Home Watch. I wanted to coordinate the two sites, but also give each one its own personality.

Old Site Design

Click here to view the previous design of the site.