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Too often have I seen clients agonize over 30 word ad copy while ignoring the importance of photos on their website. If a photo is worth a thousand words, then it's worthwhile to provide customers with great photos that tell your brand story. Through the immediacy of photo-sharing sites, the inclusion of cameras in seemingly all consumer electronics, and the radical improvement in digital cameras in the last decade, there is a heavy burden placed on commercial photography. It is now expected that pack shots, location images, and staff portraits will be nearly perfect if not stunning. No longer can we get away with the photos our nephew took for his high school photo class, or the iPhone photos you took last January. Consider that:
  • Product shots make your item tangible.
  • Pack shots improve product recognition on the store shelf.
  • Location shots give credibility and help customers find you.
  • Staff shots give your business a face.
Providing photos of yourself, your products or your business is a great way to tell the story of your business. Professional photos make your brand shine.
Traditionally, the problem with browser statistics is that the research data is based on developer-biased group of users. To avoid that problem, we used Google Analytics data from a chain of Chicago pizza restaurants as our basis for the average user. With 3,041 unique visitors looking for pizza during the month of September, Gulliver's data should provide a representative sample of Chicago's average user.
Other conclusions suggested by our data:
  1. Dial-up is nearly non-existent.
  2. 1024x768 is the most common resolution by far, which is good news for the 960 grid system.
  3. 1 in 6 computers are Macs.
  4. IE is anything but dead, with IE8 taking the largest individual market share.
  5. 1 in 10 browsers were on an embedded device
  6. 2 out of 3 embedded devices are Apple products.
  7. The web is moving forward!
Along with other local business (including our clients 2 Sisters and Amphora) we're sponsoring Operation Holiday, a fashion show charity event benefiting Wings.
The show will be held at Amphora on Sunday, November 7th starting at 1pm. We're proud to be involved. Found this post helpful? Follow us on Twitter.
The actual text you use in the title of a page is one of the most important factors in how a search engine may decide to rank your web page. In addition, all major web crawlers will use the text of your title tag as the text they use for the title of your page in your listings. The most common mistake made by small business owners is placing their name exclusively in every title of every page. Since the business is presumably already the domain name, this is both redundant and counter-intuitive to searches. With the exception of the home page, using the business name in the title is probably a waste of valuable keywords and space. Dedicating the first three title words to descriptive keywords (while avoiding stop words like "and" or "at") is crucial to search engine optimization. Your title tag is the single most powerful on-page factor in your SEO toolbox. Use it wisely.
Over the weekend we attended BarCampMilwaukee5 at BucketWorks in Milwaukee. BarCamp is a self-described "unconference," meaning that it is essentially sourced ad-hoc the day of the event by its own participants. Being totally free, there is no barrier to entry, so absolutely anyone was able teach, learn, and share in an open environment. The attitude is equal parts positive and relaxed, and the participants seemed to be shining stars in their fields. It was inspiring and humbling to attend. At the end of the night, while sitting at a table covered in Lego, we listened to the endlessly enthusiastic James Carlson discuss his overarching plans for the community he was bringing together. During this five minute "lightning talk" we saw a glimpse of what the future of learning and collaboration could be like. What we witnessed there drew strong (positive) parallels to the communities depicted in Daniel Suarez's Freedom. It was an absolutely thrilling and inspiring experience when I realized the power of the community we had just become a part of. Thank you, BarCampMilwaukee.
Convincing your prospects to purchase from you is a hard job, but have you ever thought that you're making the process twice as difficult for both parties if your prospects are convinced but don't know how to buy from you? No matter how good you are at convincing your prospects, they won't buy if they find the process cumbersome. For small businesses, there's no easier way to securely and reliably accept credit card payments than with Google Checkout. It increases conversions by allowing customers to make convenient, secure purchases from you simply by entering their Checkout username and password. If you're using Checkout for the first time, you only need to fill out one page of information to complete your purchase. And you can shop with confidence knowing that Google will protect you from unauthorized purchases should they ever occur. There are no monthly, setup, or gateway service fees. You Pay only a competitive per-transaction rate. Additionally, you can boost your prospects' confidence by providing testimonials, a convenient way to contact you, and a money-back guarantee. Remember, you're a total stranger on the internet, you need to earn your customers' trust. There's nothing more frustrating than turning away willing customers. For any e-commerce site, the importance of your shopping cart can not be understated. It's the most important link between you and your customers.
Just like your wardrobe, websites can need "a fresh look" for a number of reasons. They can be out dated, broken, tired, or just plain not fit your organization anymore. Are you considering a redesign just for the sake of it? If so, you may want to reconsider. Being bored of your site isn't a good enough reason to redesign what may be a perfectly good website. If your current site has traffic and a good conversion rate, you should probably not redesign it. Redesigning your website is like performing plastic surgery on it. Your website loses its current identity (for the better or worse) and your regular visitors might not recognize your new design at first glance. You risk losing them just because they thought they landed on the wrong page. Hence, it is very important that your brand identity be maintained throughout the redesign. Logo, colors, and brand message are critical. The best way to know if you should redesign is to ask! Ask your customers, and if they think it is necessary for the website to have a fresh look, give it to them!
The low barrier to entry when joining social media sites makes them very alluring to small business owners looking for low-cost effective advertising. The reality of content strategy and social media management rarely occurs to an entrepreneur as they spend an evening clicking through signup pages on half a dozen web 2.0 sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Flickr. Once signed up for these services, they end up providing little more than profile backlinks for the business. While backlinks are great for SEO, being overwhelmed by social media is not. Our advice to starry-eyed web business owners is that yes, you should engage in social media, but you should only invest your resources in the networks that you're certain your customers are using. Let's first agree that the relevant social media networks to businesses are:
  1. Twitter
  2. Facebook
  3. LinkedIn
  4. YouTube
  5. and Blogs (Blogger & WordPress)
To determine which is the most relevant network, search the above networks for your niche keywords, ask your customers what they use, and engage in some common sense. For us, I know that Twitter is the most active, YouTube has had the greatest return on investment, and LinkedIn has resulted in affiliate partnerships.
  1. My first loyalty in any web project is to the users.
  2. I will use the most up-to-date web standards and technologies to guarantee my users a positive experience.
  3. I will do the best I can to support the least capable of my users without compromising the experience of my best ones.
  4. I will always adhere to a separation of content and presentation in my markup.
  5. I will always use sensible and semantic CSS.
  6. I will not use HTML elements purely for presentation.
  7. I will design for the content.
  8. I will enhance my websites using semantic technologies wherever possible.
  9. While I understand and practice good SEO, I do not, and will not ever use black hat SEO techniques.
  10. I will do my best to support and educate my fellow web designers on the importance of web standards.
  11. I will not degrade my work, nor my industry, by working on spec.
  12. I shall not, through action or inaction, allow my company or my clients to use work on spec.
  13. If I meet a professional web designer who uses table layouts, I will punch him or her in the face for degrading our industry.
Source: Sneak-Attack Philosophy by Bernard Yu