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DISCLAIMER: The FTC requires me to let you know that I may be compensated for products or services recommended. In many cases I am recommending my own company's services, so it's kind of funny to have to spell this out, but I do get paid by some of the companies whose ads are on the site. I ONLY list ads for companies that I use and fully endorse.

Archive for the ‘web design’ Category

Critical Issues to Discuss with your Web Designer

Oftentimes people learn the hard way (read – expensive way) about what they paid for when they had their website developed. It is certainly understandable if you are just starting out and trying to get a new site up and have not had any prior experience.

Here are some pointers to help you ask the right questions and know exactly what you are paying for.

1. Make sure you own the website & domain. Too often people have a website built and later decide they want to change providers, only to learn that they do no own what they though was their own website. There are two component of ownership to consider; the first is the actual content and images that make up the website. I would only work with a design firm that creates the code for you with no restrictions. The second aspect is the domain name (the www.yoursite.com address). If they register this for you, make sure it is registered in your name and worth your contact information. In fact, I recommend registering your domain yourself so you know you have control over it.

2. Find out how to make updates to your website. There are three ways to make updates to your site:

– Have your website built using a content management system (CMS). This will add to the cost but give you more control over adding pages and changing your content. Just make sure you use a search engine friendly CMS.

– Have your designer manage your website. They will usually charge either a monthly fee or a per incident fee, but it is normally not included with the cost of building the website.

– Make the changes yourself. If you have some knowledge of HTML, you can possibly update your own site. You can run into challenges however, so you want to make sure that you maintain a relationship with your designer for those emergency situations.

3. Get a backup copy of all your website. If something were to happen to your site such as a virus infection or a problem with your hosting provider, you want to be in control and be able to re-upload your website at any time. You can request it as a zip files which is a compress file containing all of the images, templates, pages, and any other components of your website.

4. Where is your website hosted. This may sound basic, but I have spoken with many website owners that did not know where there website was hosted, or how to contact their web hosting provider in the event of a site outage.

5. Web Marketing. Typically web marketing is exclusive of website design, as it should be. The most important thing you want to discuss with your web design firm is whether or not they are using any non search engine friendly technologies such as flash, dynamically generated URL’s, non search friendly CMS, etc. If they don’t know what you are talking about or blow you off, this is a good sign that you need to hire a new designer.

I hope you have found this helpful. Keeping this information in mind can save you lots of headaches and money down the road.

If you have any further questions, please leave a comment below and I will respond.

Have a great day!

SEO Basics for Web Designers

I don’t have to try really hard to find content to blog about because I live this stuff, but finding time to write, now that is the real challenge. Today, I had to post something about my latest client interaction. I did a site analysis a while back and was told that the clients design team would handle the changes. I assured him that his design team, while very skilled in design, most likely did not have the skills necessary to implement the recommendations effectively. I went as far to offer to chat with the designers if they had any questions, but never heard from any one. Today, he contacted me to ask me to review the implementations, and truly, it was one of the worst things I had even seen. Not only had they taken a site designed with a flat architecture and a site map and convert it to a dynamic site with no site map, they left the default Joomla coding in the pages, so here is what the titles and meta data look like:

< title>domain.com – Home
< meta name="description" content="Joomla - the dynamic portal engine and content management system" />
< meta name="keywords" content="Joomla, joomla" />

For you designers out there that want to be WAY ahead of the competition, I will share some pointers with you.

First – make sure you know the difference between a flat site architecture and a dynamic architecture. If you are building a non-ecommerce site, DO NOT use a dynamic architecture. It just doesn’t make sense. While I am not a Joomla programmer, I understand that they even had a module to correct this and you should learn it.

Second – PLEASE put something other than the defaults in the title, keywords, and description. If it were all the same on every page that is still better than nothing. Here are some recommendations.

Title – Don’t put just the URL and by all means, don’t leave the defaults in there (you know, Home, New, etc.). Just put the company name in there. If you don’t know what they do, look at the website you just built then describe it in five words or less. For example for this blog you could put “Old School SEO – Search Marketing Blog”.

Description – If you really can’t figure it out (and you should be able to) go the extra mile and ask your client what they do. Then put that in the description in two sentences or less, but at least 10 words.

Keywords – Without using generic words, list the first five words that come to mind when you read the site and separate them by commas. For example, with this blog, you might use “search, engine, marketing, blog” This is better than nothing, and in my example above, FAR better than putting Joomla on a site that has nothing to do with Joomla.

I hope you appreciated that because if you implement it, you will look like a genius compared to the competition. If you need an SEM partner, let me know and I will do what I can to help you or refer you to a trusted colleague


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