Let’s Talk About The Basics

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 12.06.49 PMWe all know that Websites, the Internet, and Technology are three of the most important factors in business and life in general today.  We know that in order to find a website we need the domain name of the site.  We know that in order to be able to connect to the servers that allow us to plug in and see this particular domain name, we need the internet.  We also know that without a doubt to even begin to see a website or navigate on the web we need a piece of technology, actual equipment like that of a computer, tablet etc. to even be put in the game.  What we may not really understand however is how all these things link together to create the powerhouse known as the online world.  

Let’s start with the basics.  In order for a computer to search the web for the website you are looking for the computer has to read the address in the language that it interprets.  The crazy thing is, computers can not read domain names like we can. Instead they need to convert the domain name into a string of numbers known as an IP address.  Once the domain name is converted to the IP address the computer is able to search the web for the site that we are looking for.  Humans however can not really navigate with and IP address.  Instead we take these domain names that are followed by a top level domain, .com, .net, .edu etc. plug them into our piece of technological hardware, and they are converted to an IP address.  How exactly is this conversion done?  That is where the DNS or Domain Name Server comes into play.  The DNS basically is the middle man between IP Addresses and Domain Names.  It is the translator between the too allowing for both the computer and human to interact and understand each other.

Going back to the top level domains, what exactly are those and what do they do for the website you have created?  Basically the top level domain is the abbreviation for what type or group or organization the website is affiliated with.  .Com refers to commercial, why .edu refers to a site associated with an educational facility.  These abbreviations are often important in judging whether the website being looked at is of credibility and is a reliable source.

Whether you’re new to the website world, building them, trying to understand them for your own business needs, or you simply just want to understand the basics of your own site, it is important to have some knowledge on how everything works together to create the big picture.  

It often helps when there is a problem or issue to be diagnosed with a website if you can at least identify the chain of command and how the system works together to give you the end product.

Technology continues to advance and so should we!


A Website for Growth

We’ve been hashing out a lot of important factors that influence the design of a website. From global emerging markets to cultural variables, the way a website is influenced by several factors.

The way a website is designed also influences many factors. These factors are core elements in the growth of businesses in today’s world.

As the digital market expands and defines the Era of Information, so does it expand the level of digital competition, options, and information, thus the term the ‘Information Era’.

All businesses need a website. A website is the virtual gateway to a business. It offers information on your company, the services or products you offer and ways to contact you.  You may even look at it as an online business card. People no longer want to carry hundreds of business cards in their wallet, or rememebr to save all the info in their phone. They can look you up by your web address, or even better yet, organically find you when searching the internet.By thinking you don’t need one, you limit the growth and awareness of your business. Online Search Engine Optimization(SEO),or Ranking, is a whole other topic that we will discuss at a future time. For now let’s focus on the foundational importance of a website for businesses today.

Important Factors of a website

  1. Mobile Friendly. This is one of the most important factors in setting up your website, or transferring an existing site to a responsive (mobile friendly) platform. The use of mobile devices exceeds the use of desktop computers. People use their phones as computers. Your website must be easily viewed, read, and navigated through from a mobile device. Five years ago this was not something even thought of. Today it is a necessity. A non mobile friendly website will even hurt your efforts to be discovered in Search Engines.
  2. Graphics/Images. High quality images and graphics are essential and contribute to the way people engage and take action on your website. Ryan, from RS Auto Salon in Seattle, says quality graphics & images really help people to step into your business through in online  door. He said that he himself is in the process of engaging his website visitors through graphic expression. It builds a connection with the way you display yourself, your business. Make sure your images/graphics are high resolution and files that are not too large. Large files will slow down the load speed of your site.
  3. Content. Speak to your audience. The content of your site goes hand and hand with having a responsive website. The content on your site gives you the opportunity to educate your audience, become the authority in your industry and provide value in the form of words.  Inform them, (website visitors), answer questions they may have, and promote them to take action in some form. This can be through a phone call or filling out a quote form, or signing up for a service.
  4. Contact. Make it easy for people to find how to contact you. Make your phone numbers click to call. This makes them “mobile friendly”, meaning someone can click the phone number form their mobile device to automatically call you. Have contact forms or quote forms on your website. Encourage people to reach out. If you have a great sales and customer service team, use them to build relationships and rapport with those that contact you.
  5. Simplicity. Do not over complicate or over design your website. It can be too much for people to take in and have the opposite effect, meaning they leave quickly, rather than hang out and check out what your saying and information on your business. Less is more when it comes to most things in life.

A mobile friendly website with creative content, high quality graphics and images, and a user friendly web design is an essential tool for business today. It encourages your online visitors to engage, interact and take the action that you most want them too!


Cultural Variables

One of the most important aspects of web design is Cultural Variables.  We often focus so much on the importance of the graphics and placement, as well as the responsiveness of a site, yet do not take into consideration these cultural variables….What about the Cultural aspect?  This is not to say that graphics, user experience, and placement are not important, but there may be another prominent factor to consider.

Think about it, you may have read my last post on the emerging markets and the takeover of international commerce.  With international business comes the cultural following and practices of those that differ from ourselves. When building a web site to reach the masses of the world isn’t it important to make sure the content we are providing and the icons we are displaying are not only understood but accepted by different cultures?  Thai Culture for example is that of a quieter understated culture.  They do not belief in expressing dominance, anger or emotion overly so. This leads into my point of how we have high context versus low context cultures.  What about the difference between circumspect and direct approach?  Or group versus individuality.  This perhaps is a very good point.  For many of us we believe in individuality and speaking and doing for ourselves. Often though in many other cultures the belief lies more on that of the group and the benefit of the group.

While I understand that the site you have built is yours and yours alone and that you are capable of representing yourself in whatever way you deem appropriate my point stands to be made as to why we have built this web site in entirety.  The point of your web site is to get you out among the different people of the world to either market your product, services or to have your information on your site be heard.  If any of those are the driving force and our world continues to grow in the international commerce front isn’t it best to tackle any barriers that we can.  I am not saying your own culture is not of importance when building a site I am saying though that making your site understandable and acceptable to many other cultures is of just as much importance as well.  In America we give directions by saying left, right up down etc.  In another culture or country they may use cardinal directions such as North, East, South, West.  Your icon buttons on your site may only pertain to up, down, left, right etc.  By adding different cultural variables to your website you are showing that you are concerned with and open to those who interpret things differently than you.  Your effort will not go unnoticed as well.  The more you show that you are trying to reach all kinds of people and cultures and provide them with the same understanding as those in your own culture the more you are actually getting your information out there.  You also show that you are open minded and aware of differences when it comes to doing business.

While I do agree that responsive sites and graphics are important, I also believe that to build a well rounded site and one that is of sound information, you need to incorporate all of the key factors when doing business with other cultures in the U.S as well as internationally.  Just some food for thought for my fellow web design friends.

Emerging Markets

Emerging Markets

Perhaps one of the biggest Global forces that is affecting web design is that of emerging markets. With international commerce taking the reigns with online businesses one thing is certain, the amount of people you reach with your websites is ever growing, and vastly. While this indeed has potential to offer a great boost in your business there are also some downfalls that come along with it.  For one with a larger market to target and the accessibility of the web, we have a lot more businesses creating online markets and responsive websites.  Because of this factor we also see that the competition for customers is also a very real and big thing.  Next, with so many businesses out there in the online marketing world, we also have to think about raw materials. It was at one time easier to purchase your raw materials for your business because the competition wasn’t as strong.  Now with so many people resorting to the ease and abundant accessibility of online marketing there are also a lot more businesses that are similar, if not the same, as yours competing for the availability of the same materials.  

So while we are thankful and happy that we as business owners are able to get out there and market our products internationally. It is important that we also factor in the set backs as well. This allows for better preparation and advanced market penetrations.

However, with the development of technology and science ever growing we can count on the fact that there will possibly be new solutions to our problems.  When these solutions will come to light is another story.

My advice to those who find themselves caught up in the world of emerging markets and international commerce, is to target a generalized area that you, for lack of a better word, monopolize.  What you are looking for as a business owner is to make sure you stay consistent with your product availability and if you do have back orders that they are filled in the most timely like manner.  Stay organized and ahead of the game when it comes to ordering your raw materials.  Do research to see what the availability of the most coveted materials are that pertain to you and your business.  Stay organized when it comes to inventory and on hand availability.  

With International commerce leading the online marketing industry we need to think cultural effects. Make sure your product and services are better then the next.  Customer service is perhaps just as important if not more than the actual product themselves.  Educate yourself on international business customs.  When doing business internationally it is important you know the different cultural variables that are included in business.  What we may deem as ok in our own culture someone else may deem as wrong.  It is important to stay sharp and without bias or opinion in the international business world. Go into it with the respect for others that you wish them to have for you.  China for example has one way of conducting business as do Americans.  Show you understand their customs.  You are the provider of your product and they are the consumer.  Establishing good business relationships and leading with value is the fast track to being successful, whether that be digitally, or in person.

valuable content for visitors

Offer Value To The Web

Alright, today I want to talk about one of the most important aspects of the online world, offering value. The entire web world is built around this single idea, and it’s why the internet continues to prosper. Everyday millions of people pick up their mobile device or hop on their computer to seek out some form of information. Whether someone is curious to know the operating hours of a particular business, the scores from the previous days football game, or wants to know the best choice for a certain product or service, they go to the web find it out. The web is filled with limitless information and that’s why so many people choose to use the internet every single day. Knowing that people are seeking out pertinent and reliable information, search engines like Google will rank websites often times according to the quality of information they are offering a reader. This means the validity of the information given, the details supporting the information, and diagrams and images to clarify the information. This takes genuine effort, research and/or expertise on whatever subject you are discussing. Furthermore it is important the information is delivered in a clear and well articulated manner, void of spelling and grammatical errors. Though this takes time, it is a necessary component of your online efforts in order to get your web page in front of a large audience online.

I’ll give you an example of what it means to deliver value. I have a friend in Phoenix who has been asking me to help him locate a reputable pool remodel company online. He knows that I am familiar with the online world, and can spot out the trustworthy from the not so trust worthy fairly well. So upon doing my research and helping my friend locate a pool remodel company, I came across a stellar example of someone offering value online. While navigating through the search engines I came across poolremodelphoenix.org and these guys were spot on with leading with value. Once I came across their site it was clear that they understood this concept of giving their viewers value. Their site is filled with a plethora of information regarding remodeling pools, so much so that it could be used as a reference source. They have all the information laid out so potential customers don’t not have to travel all across the web . They have compiled it conveniently so that they are essentially a one stop shop for people looking for information on remodeling a pool. (more…)

mobile responsive

Mobile Responsive

Lets touch on an important point that most of you are probably aware of, or can probably guess is an important element of web presence – mobile responsive websites. You might have noticed that just about everyone these days has a cell phone, tablet, or some variation of the two, and most of them use these devices to search the web. Unfortunately most of what users are searching for these days is not mobile responsive, even though much of what people use to search the internet is a mobile device. So it is our responsibility as practitioners of the web to offer our users a responsive mobile experience. Building a mobile responsive site is not inherently that difficult, in fact most platforms that are designed for beginners have mobile friendly themes built right into them.

Here’s a handful of reasons why your website needs to be mobile friendly.  (more…)


Social Media

If your not familiar with social media than I presume you have been under a rock for a the past 10 years.

Social media has essentially pioneered a new age in the online world. Changing how people act, interact and how they see themselves. Whether or not you use social media for your personal life is not my concern, in this article I want to emphasize the importance of using it for your business.

1.) First off, social media is another way to create presence for your company on search engines like Google. When a potential customer is searching for your business or a service you offer, social media pages can come up on these search engines. So beyond just your web page showing up on the Google, your Facebook or Twitter page may show up as well. This creates multiple avenues to your business online and promotes overall web presence.



Get Involved

Pay It forward..

One of my biggest suggestions for those that are joining the online community is to get involved. Act in ways that you wish others would act towards you. I have a friend who owned a restaurant for many years, and she told me that she loved when guests gave her positive reviews on yelp. Before she said that, I never really thought to give reviews on yelp, in fact I didn’t even have a yelp account. However, I ate out all the time, and would rate and discuss my thoughts between friends, but I never did with the greater online community. So after she shared that with me, I started rating tons of places I visited on yelp. Good or bad, but mostly good; I wanted to contribute to the online community and get involved. I’m in this space professionally so I figured I better get involved in this space recreationally, and plus its paying it forward, the more you give, the more you get. Once I started doing this, I almost felt that karma started to help some of my other online projects. So now I go around liking business on Facebook, dropping positive reviews on yelp and Google+ and talking online about great experiences.

In fact, just recently, me and some friends flew out to Arizona for a friends birthday to go sky diving. Yes skydiving. I wasn’t too excited about it, because I am terrified of heights, but I was willing to take one for the team. To cool down my nerves however, I made sure that there was enough other entertainment going on to distract me from our final destination. So I made sure we had dinner plans, drinking destinations, and a couple clubs lined up for the day before our sky diving expedition. What really took my focus off the sky diving however was renting a limousine to take us around the town while we liquored up and had a good time. I didn’t think much of this because we have rented limos as a group numerous times before and it just sort of seems like the norm when we go out as a big group. But this was different, we rented a limo from phxlimoservice.com and these guys were worlds apart from previous companies we went through. From the driver to the actual limo, to the follow up call we received the next day asking about how the service was, it was just unreal. By the time sky diving came around the following day, I didn’t have one ounce of fear because of how in awe I was of the great night we had the day before.




Monetizing your web page

I know that for most of my visitors this subject is going to be of interest at one point or another. Whatever subject that you cover, whether it be cooking, shopping, cleaning, sports or what have you, monetization can become an integral part of your website. We spend so much time creating and designing our sites that we might as well make money on them, right? Like wise, most of us have specialized knowledge on the subject that we cover on our sites so we are qualified to make suggestions on products or services to our website visitors. Additionally, there exist huge opportunity for affiliate marketing opportunities online these days.


Tips and Tricks (Menus)

In the previous post I spoke about internal links throughout your site to help with navigation. I wanted to make a quick post to accompany my previous post, that will contribute to properly formatting your web page, which is creating a menu. Your menu is the page links that appear at the top of the page (most of the time) and normally include a home page, contact, and perhaps products or services and the like. Presenting your menu conveniently, whether at the top of the page or on a side bar is a critical for your on page user experience. This is a fairly intuitive topic and most of you probably didn’t need this reminder, but for some who are using platforms like WordPress, you may have to ensure they are set to appear on your page. Most platforms make this process very simple, and you can manually grab pages that you want to throw on the menu and organize the layout of the menu with ease.

For those making a services page, you will want to have a parent tab, and then subsequent pages, the actual services, under it. By designating a parent page it will display the service page (or whatever parent page you have created) on the menu. Then when someone hovers over the the parent page it will display all the pages you have set to that parent page under it (normally like a drop down).

Again this subject is pretty elementary for most, but I wanted to make sure I covered it, for new designers and business owners who are making their first site. As always if you have any confusion when making a menu or customizing a menu, feel free to make contact.