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Why Hire a professional Website Designer

eye for design

Innovation and professional image are the keys to success.  However, to be innovative you need to be able to look beyond and improve upon that which others may believe to be good enough.  With the limitations of mobile and responsive design, it is becoming even more important to stand out and not look like everyone else on the Internet.  Due to smaller screen sizes, this requirement in web design necessitates the artistic creativity of a special kind of person known as a graphic designer.

As it relates to your businesses marketing and brand persona, you only get one first chance to portray your business brand and image to world.  To do so, often times requires a graphic designer’s vision and artistic eye. They’re creativity and eye for design can make all the difference in the world.

Even with all of this said, many people would undoubtedly still ask themselves, why hire a graphic designer when they can do the job them self? Good question, but if you are really thinking of making a good impression to your customers and you lack a great deal of artistic talent, a professional designer can assist with designs and tweaks to web templates that might not ever occur to the business owner. Remember that it is not always about the money. Sometimes it is worth spending a little cash when you can expect bigger returns. And you will be amazed with the difference a graphic designer can make with the idea that you have.

As a matter of example, a company would like to create a new attractive and memorable logo.  You informed your designer that you want different fonts and colors in your logo. But your designer said that what you are thinking can indeed make your business look catchy but at the same time give people bad signals.  With this in mind, the graphic designer creates several unique designs for you to choose while keeping with the theme that the business owner had in mind.  The end result might be that professional designer using his artistic eye developed several logos options that made your idea look stunning and inspiring.

You can see that there are many circumstances where a professional designer can help turn your website into a remarkable design. Remember that you are building a public image for your business, as such, there is little room to sacrifice the quality of your brand just to save a few bucks.

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Revisiting the Origins of Web Design

html code

I have been thinking about our original web design company, Animal 57 which launched way back in 1999, and how those relic websites have progressed since then.

Those were the days of AOL, and Netscape, when most sites were created using Microsoft Frontpage, when data driven applications were still years away and to change a simple sentence on your site required your web developer to perform 20 – 30 minutes of work using those 56k dial up modems.  This was a time before anyone had even heard of Google or Facebook.

We started designing sites in the infancy of the Internet, still called by most people, “the world-wide web”.  That was a time that the term SEO was not even a glimmer in the eye of most developers.  So what was the Characteristics of those few businesses who were at the forefront of online marketing and even had a website?

The first thing I think of is obnoxious Flash intro pages or “Splash Pages”, which was a slow loading giant animated graphic that served no purpose other than to entertain and provided little to no information or a beneficial user experience.  The pages had lots of text, and cartoonish graphics that made me think more of Saturday morning kids TV, then business marketing.

Why did Web Designers make these horrific pages?

For starters, the software was very basic, and you had to hand-code in HTML using Dreamweaver or Frontpage to put up almost anything, which a skill that most high school students today possess was rarely had by anyone in marketing or graphic design.  The decade of the 90’should also be remembered for load music, which was incorporated into so many Flash animations and animated gifs found in those early web sites.  In the event that the bounding logos did not make your eyes glaze over, Flash and JavaScript programmers loved to add scrolling text to the site to add just a bit more confusion.

In fact, it was hard to find a site that did not contain a logo revolving or bouncing across the screen.  Many marketers back then were clamoring for this, as it was the new alternative to pricy News Paper and Magazine ads.

Eventually as search engines such as Yahoo and Lycos entered the fray, web programmers realized they could game the search engines by adding keywords onto a white background page, and then making the text font match.  This led to what appeared as huge gaps in the design, until you hovered your mouse over those areas and saw all the cloaked keywords.  As a modern-day SEO technician I shudder at the thought of all those “black-hat” techniques that were not only used prevalently, but actually encouraged by the results you got back then.  Alternatively, many websites were created with text as images, that search engines would not index, which led business owners to great frustration when their web site could not be found on Yahoo.

It’s a wonder that we still have websites today, after the horrors of these relic web sites were the norm for over a decade.  Think of how far we have come.  I can appreciate WordPress and other modern Streamlined layouts so much more now.  With that said, I wonder what some web designer in 20 years will say about the sites we are building today?

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Why Real Estate Agents Should Have their Own Website

Real Estate Agent Avatar

When looking for homes, people surf the internet for real estate information. In past years, people surf for properties on their desktops, on maps or drive around to look for vacant residences. However, today, you can search for houses on your smartphone on the go because of the massive adoption of the mobile internet in the real estate industry. In order to generate interest in homes, real estate agents need to have and improve their online presence by having their own website. Most importantly, they must harness the SEO advantages of responsive web design to be found on Google and Bing.

With multitude of agent competing in for their own share of the real estate market, it may be hard to gain the attention of potential clients. In order to thrive, you must find a way to effectively market yourself. If your market strategy includes sending bulk emails, placing newspaper ads or even craigslist, you need to think twice because they are obsolete.

Reasons to have your own website

Brand yourself

Stay out of the fray in the competition, you don’t just want to be another new face on a corporate website, like Century 21, or Remax. By hosting your own website you are establishing your own online brand because your website is the reflection of your services, authority and goals. Both home buyers and sellers want to work with someone trustworthy. Information from the National Association of Realtors states that 64% of sellers and 54% of buyers found their agent either from a referral or stick with the agents they have done business with before. One of the SEO advantage of responsive web design that you can be found on a Google search for your name. With solid SEO and a responsive website, you can rank high on real estate related searches on mobile and PC. It is the ultimate referral!

Be the number one support for your clients

It let your clients know about you and the services you offer. A website is a great place for the buyers and sellers to learn about you and affirm that they made the right choices by choosing you as their realtor. Providing home buying information and tips, information on loans and resources like mortgage calculators will increase the value of your website. It makes your website the first choice for support for your clients.

Become the local real estate agent

Another SEO advantages of responsive web design is the ability target specific geographic areas. If there is a specific area of a town you want to focus on, it can be easily integrated by implementing targeted keyword in your website contents and other SEO strategies, such geo-targeting title tags. When potential buyers search for real estate in your targeted location, there is a great chance that you will pop up on their search result.

Build your network through blogs

Creating a blog page on your website will definitely help your attract an audience. This would be great way to showcase your knowledge of the industry, build your trust and improve you readership. With a blog section, potential clients can also connect with your by asking questions which builds your relationship with them. You can also link your blog to your social media pages like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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The SEO Advantage of Responsive Web Design

Responsive web design concept

Gone are the days when the internet and mobile devices were seen as innovation. Today, they have become the norm.
Why go for Responsive Web Design?
Before now, most users accessed the internet from their computers alone. Recent statistics has revealed that in the past few years, there has been a shift towards the use of mobile devices in accessing the internet. I was amazed when I read the news recently and discovered that over eighty percent of internet use and webpage visits emanate from mobile devices. Besides, even those who use computers in accessing the internet, go on to use mobile devices later on to access the same webpages, especially when they are outside their home or office – the mobile phones and devices come in handy at all times.
Understanding Responsive Web Design
Responsive web design is a means by which a web page is built to have a responsive reaction to several devices – mobile devices – whether mobile phones, Android OS, IOS, I-Pads, tablets, and so on. All of these devices and operating systems have varying screen resolution and sizes. The ability of a web page to be dynamic enough as to meet all these changing needs of devices is a result of proper Responsive Web Design.
Search Engine Optimization and Responsive Web Design
Search engines arrange and sort their web page listings in reaction to user preference over time. Some search engines like Google have come to appreciate the fact that most internet users are accessing through mobile devices. In a bid to give such users optimum satisfaction, the search engine will sort web pages that are well optimized to give the best quality access on mobile devices, paying close attention to the Responsiveness of the Web Design. Suffice this to say that those web pages that are Responsive to change in device and resolutions will be better optimized by the search engine.
Remember that the user’s preference is a determinant factor in the Search Engine’s optimization and preferential sorting of web pages. Where a web page is not able to give a user good quality access to information over mobile devices, users are not willing to stick around such web page for long. Such web page will end up losing popularity on the Search Engine Optimization index.
Best Choice for Web Page owners
As a web page owner, your success is determined by the amount of traffic that flows through your web page on a regular basis. Responsive Web Design will help you much in this regard. When users are able to access information on your web page from all sorts of mobile devices, with the image quality remaining the same, in the right size and proportion, and the web page is easy to read, understand and appreciate – adjusting font and size according to varying devices – you can rest assured that users will have a great sense of satisfaction and more traffic will flow through your web page. By applying Responsive Web Design, you will have succeeded in improving your web page traffic flow and in the same vein increase your Return on Investment (ROI).

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What Makes Web Design Compliant with the ADA?

ADA Compliance for websites

There is a Federal law in the United States called The Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires businesses and other organizations to provide handicap accessibility. That way the disabled public also has access to the same services as other people. Most people think that the ADA only pertains to physical locations. In reality, it also includes websites and electronic media.

According to the law, web design must be as accessible as terminals, elevators, ATMs, and other user interfaces. The site must be accessible on all devices that include the desktop, smartphones, and tablets. The website that fails to comply with ADA creates a bad user experience for people with disabilities. Through ADA compliance, the website becomes accessible to everyone.

When creating the web design graphics, it is important to note that not everyone utilizes Google Chrome and other standard browsers. There are users that don’t update their browsers. There are also people who use different devices to access websites, such as audio scanners and text readers. These devices require special code to translate information on the page.


The typeface is the main element of any website. It targets a specific audience and conveys a certain personality. When developing the graphics for a website, you should choose a font that’s practical and not stylistic.

To make it ADA compliant, choose a typeface that is easy to read. The font size must also be large enough to make the text readable on both small screened and large screened devices. The designer can choose to provide options to adjust the font setting that includes the decreasing or increasing the font size and changing the background.


Most websites today rely on images to engage visitors. However, if the some of the target audience is composed of visually impaired individuals, having many images will not be good for their user experience.

To improve the handicap accessibility of the website, it should not rely on images to convey its message. Instead, the website should use images to complement the text and not be the main source of information. Images used on the website must have a descriptive context.

HTML Markup

The website must use the right markup for headings, page titles, and other elements to ensure screen readers give out the right information. This is also required to ensure the screen reader understands the structure of the page.

The programmer, SEO professional, and copywriter are responsible for structuring the content of the page. They must use titles and headings to organize the copy and make them easy to read by screen readers and humans.

Screen readers can’t read images, and that’s why images should have the correct ALT tags. ALT tags must be descriptive and give information that the image wants to convey. Search engines also use ALT tags to index images, which makes it more SEO-friendly.

These are just some of the things to consider when creating a web design that complies with ADA. It is important to find a designer or developer who has experience with handicap accessibility of websites.

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How To Increase Page Load Speed In Word Press Sites

website on cafine

One of the key factors that Google has acknowledged as part of their calculation to rank websites in their search results page is how fast a site loads. Additionally, from a user standpoint, which Google bases many of its algorithms upon, the faster a web page loads the more likely a user is to interact with the site. As you can imagine, if a site takes 5 seconds to load every page, a user is not likely going to continue to wait for new content and will simply seek the information or application somewhere else. In fact, there is a direct correlation to slow loading pages and the increased percent of visitors to a page that exit the website. As evidence of this fact, a study by Akami found that around three-quarters of web users would not return to a website if, in their experience, it took longer than four seconds to load.

If you would like to get an idea of how slow or fast your website loads both for mobile and desktop use versus that of your competitors, check out Google’s page speed test. Google will even give you a few suggestions of things you can do to improve your web page loading speed.

In addition to the technical suggestions Google provides, there are some obvious techniques that have been discussed ad nosism on all the major SEO forums, such as reducing the size of your images and video or use a hosting company with more robust bandwidth. However, I want to discuss an often overlooked but so simple tactic for WordPress, edit your plugin strategy.

WordPress is a great platform for functionality because of the use of so many free plugins that allow users to add rich features to their site such as maps, contact forms, e-commerce solutions and so many others. However, often a website owner will download many of these plugins, activate them and never use them. In other situations, the plugins will be activated but the functionality provided will not really benefit the user and as such, every time their web page loads, the server needs to process a whole bunch of useless code that slows down a site.

There is a simple solution to this, which is to conduct an audit of your website plugins and determine first, if there are plugins that you are not even using. If this is the case, you can deactivate them and or delete them from your server. You also can search the WordPress plugin directory to find plugins that may provide the same functionality to are much more efficient, for example a caching plugin such as swiftlite works very well. Finally, you want to analyze whether the plugin is really helping you, or if it is simply slowing down your page.

One way to determine how much time it takes to load a page per plugin is to simply deactivate each plugin individually, then run the Google Seed test and see if there is an increase in speed. If you have a plugin that provides functionality that you really need, you can always download 2 or 3 others that do the same thing and test your page loading speed with each and then test the functionality as well to see what makes the best user experience.

If you would like more information about how to better optimize your website don’t be shy and give us a call today.