Seattle Web Design – Top Features for Business Websites

If you’re about to set up a website for your business for the first time then you really want to start considering the features and options you want on the website. While you can discuss your needs and any good local web design team will be able to tell you what you need, it’s also a good idea to decide what you want and why before you go. Here are a few of the things that Seattle web designers agree are the best features for business websites.

Seattle Web Design

Great UX

UX is probably the most important thing to integrate into your web design. UX or User Experience refers to design that specifically makes it easy for users to visit and navigate your site. This means clean design, simple menus, and easy navigation. While it may mean skipping some of the bells and whistles, it does mean a better site.

Contact Information

If you want to look professional to local visitors then you want as much contact information available on the site as possible. The best way to go is to put some information in the header or footer and create a dedicated page with everything visitors need to get in touch.

Integrated Social Media

Visitors want to see that you’re an established business and the easiest way to show them that is to link in your social profiles. Showing a Facebook profile or Google Plus followers is the easiest way to convince modern web users that your site is established and trustworthy. Because many online shoppers actually research using social, many will actually click through to your business page and perhaps even like the page, which makes your social marketing that much easier.


The web is quickly becoming a very graphic driven place, and using graphics on your website creates a modern look. While you might be prepared to put up a few pictures of your products and perhaps a few stock photos, you should also consider creating graphic centric pages that center around an image. This makes your website cleaner, more modern, and simpler for viewers.

Mobile Ready

Whether you choose to go mobile friendly with a specific mobile website or with a responsive design, you need mobile friendly. An study showed that some 40% of Seattle smartphone owners use their phones to research businesses and products before shopping, even when out shopping, meaning that if your site is not mobile friendly, you could loose customers.

As a business, you want a website that is simple, easy to use, and informative. If you’re operating a web shop, you also want to make sure that your site is secure, offers secure protocol protection, and that it loads quickly enough to allow users to access and research products from their phones. Other than that, most of your services and pages might be unique to your business.

Want to know more about what goes into a great website? Or want to talk with professional Seattle web designers about building your perfect business website? Contact us today at 206-355-0894 to get a free estimate.

What Seattle Social Media Can Learn from Ello and Anti-Marketing

seattle social media

Ello? What is it? It’s the thing that suddenly everyone seems to be talking about. Despite a March launch amid nearly zero fanfare, Ello has suddenly skyrocketed into fame and is currently one of the most talked about social platforms on the web. As something where most people do not yet have a profile and therefore no friends if you do have a profile, it’s not something that most people would expect. The truth is that Ello skyrocketed into a hot topic because of anti-marketing in the wake of Facebook’s many flagrant privacy and personal violations. Ello’s promise of no ads, no tracking personal data, and no selling personal data to big companies appeals to the many disgruntled social users who are, quite frankly, sick of having their personal data used for ads. The result is a clamor for invites, even though very few people seem to have one.

What is Anti Marketing

To better understand the concept of why Ello is currently so popular, let’s talk about anti-marketing. This is the concept of using a companies current policy, branding, or advertisement against them. GreenPeace does it almost constantly when they attempt to show the world how uneconomically friendly a company does. Usually they use logos and convert them into something a little less brand friendly. Essentially, anti-marketing is a form of brand-sabotaging, by using their policies or advertisements to point out flaws in the company, or to prove that your company is better. In Ello’s case, that’s the promise to not sell data or display ads in opposition to Facebook’s very ad-heavy platform. But anti-marketing isn’t the only reason Ello is currently so popular.

Ad-Free and Service Culture

One really major thing about users is that they like service, they enjoy clean, user-friendly environments, and they often find ads annoying. In fact, the click-through rate on banner ads and popup ads is depressingly low for advertisers. Ad-free is something that users see as a luxury, and more and more apps and now websites are beginning to integrate it into their business plan. Why ad free? How do you make money selling ads if you’re not charging for your product? For example, if you have an ap and you offer it for free or nearly free, you might think that you stand little chance of making an income without ads. However, apps and games like Whatsapp have long proven this theory wrong. Whatsapp had over 45 million downloads for free the first year, and 99 cents per year following. They did not display ads, but instead made money off of extras and additional sales. Many other web services, especially online games use this same business module to make considerably more than they would with ads, and without annoying their customers. So is Ello. They intend to sell additional site services to users who want to do more with their page. These services are wildly popular because they offer a solid service that is valuable and not annoying. In addition, Whatsapp has not spent a single penny on ads.

What you, and other Seattle social media managers can learn from it is that you don’t necessarily have to use a multi-thousand dollar marketing program to succeed, especially on the web. What you need is a great campaign that recognizes your target audience and your competition and then uses every bit of information you have to create a website, social media page, and brand that appeals to that demographic. Most consumers respond better to strong branding, value, and honest practices then they do to any amount of mass media marketing, although you shouldn’t abandon the latter.

Seattle Social Media Tips: Paid, Owned, & Earned Marketing

Digital marketing is quickly becoming one of the most important outlets for businesses that want to grow themselves, but most users don’t understand the differences between various types of online marketing except that some are free and some are not. Understanding various types of media is important for Seattle businesses that want to promote themselves in a digital setting, mainly because understanding means that you can use it to create strategies that work.


What is Paid Media

Paid marketing includes most basic paid advertisements including PPC, banner ads, and paid coverage such as a paid blog or article on a popular website.

What is Earned Media

Earned media is media or marketing material that you earn without paying for. Examples include press release coverage, coverage in a local newspaper, unpaid coverage or reviews on blogs, and user shares. Earned media is often accomplished by sharing valuable information and data, such as infographics and videos, doing something noteworthy, or reaching a press worthy milestone. Earned media also includes partnerships, offering free content in exchange for a review, and generally any sort of PR efforts.

Owned Media

Owned media is the least important of these three, but still important for digital marketing. Owned media includes any media content or hype created by the company for the company. For example, a blog posted on the business website is a great example of owned media.

How to Use Them

While the ideal for almost any business would be to create a great deal of earned media through viral content, the truth is that it is rarely that simple. For example, earned media is usually either paid or owned media, which may confuse you at first until you realize that you have to create content that is either yours or have someone else create it for you.  The most common reasons that content goes viral is social sharing, which also means that you have to first get users to see it. Essentially, unless you already have a fairly large number of visitors to your company blog or YouTube channel, then paid media in the form of posting your content elsewhere, or paying for advertisements, is the best way to go to create earned media.

So earned media, which is created from shares and interest in your topics, is typically generated from paid media. The result is a marketing strategy that should include both paid and owned media options, both with the intention of created earned media through shares and additional coverage.

Any good local social media strategy will include paid and owned media with a marketing strategy for creating earned media. If you want to make it happen for your business, you need a Seattle social media company that knows how to work with all three to create results. Hybrid campaigns are the most successful option, and also the most logical. Companies ranging from General Motors to Orange are taking advantage of campaigns that maximize the use of every type of media, and you should be to.

Contact us to find out more.

Seattle Social Media Tips – Creating Content To Post

Running a social media account is never easy, especially if you aren’t a professional social media manager, but the hardest part about it is content. And the longer you run your social pages, the more difficult content gets. The truth is that followers are unlikely to follow you if you don’t post, and not posting regular content means that you loose ranking on systems like Facebook’s EdgeRank. The result is that you have to continue posting frequently and regularly, or fall under the metaphorical social bus. If you don’t have the money for a professional social media manager, you have to come up with long term plans for curating your own content. Here are a couple of tips from local Seattle social media experts.

Watch the News

If you want your posts to be relevant, interesting, and on topic then your best bet is to watch the news. Make notes about interesting things that relate to you or your business, and then try to integrate that into your page. For example, if you run a roofing company and there are storms coming, it’s quite easy to figure out that you can post about them to try to boost sales. If you sell shoes, you might talk about events or local happenings instead.

Follow Hashtags

Hashtags are another great way to keep up with what’s hot in the Seattle area, and you can actually boost your own visibility by using them yourself. A bit of quick research should find you a lot of local hashtags, which you can then use for inspiration, and integrate into your posts.

Plan Posts One Day At A Time

Unfortunately, while planning and posting content months in advance may be convenient, it’s not interactive, and very little of it will be relevant unless you plan for your sales, problems, and any local events. You can plan and pre-schedule some content using Facebook or an external event like HootSuite, but try to post at least one live comment each day for authenticity.

Listen To Your Customers

You can always use customer questions as inspiration for tips and answers. For example, if someone comes in and asks you a question, answer them in person, but then also add a “Customer Question” or “Question of the Week” to your social media and answer it. This isn’t always possible on pages like Twitter, but works well on both Google + and Facebook. You can also share items from your FAQ, or random questions that you think customers might be interested in when you don’t have any questions.

Write a Blog

A blog offers you great content to share on your social media, directs traffic back to your website, and allows you to answer questions or get creative with your products. While you should make sure that it is professional, or hire someone to do it for you, it can greatly benefit your social media and your website.

Mix It Up

While every post should be on topic, don’t be afraid to mix things up by adding jokes, humor, or memes into your social. You do want to avoid having the majority of your posts being memes though because this may look like you’re not a business. You can also share relatable quotes and other information. Just keep it on topic.

If curating content is too much work for you, hiring a professional Seattle social media manager could be the way to go, just talk with them first to make sure it is in your budget, and that you will get a return off of it.


Five Major Red Flags For a Seattle SEO Company

If you’re in search of a local SEO company to help boost your ranking in the Seattle area then all well and good for you. SEO is still one of the most potent marketing options, and, if done right, can actually offer unlimited return. Unfortunately, when done wrong, it can do the exact opposite and ensure that your site never sees any organic traffic. While there are thousands of ‘SEO companies’ out there, not all of them are created equal, in fact, many of them have no idea what ‘SEO’ is anymore. So how do you sort out the chaff? Here are five major red flags that should send you running.

Seattle SEO

SEO Copywriting

The truth is that there is no such thing as SEO copywriting anymore. Sure, you can optimize content here and there and make sure that the content is right, but today’s ‘SEO copywriting is more about good grammar, relevance, and helpfulness rather than using algorithms or keyword insertion. If they’re selling SEO copywriting, steer clear.

One Size Fits All Packages

If they have packages like “200,000 hits in one this period of time”, you can basically just turn around and run. Basic packages that offer a lot of results for one set fee look good, but they don’t really promise anything. Without a tailored and structured package designed to drive targeted traffic to your site, that traffic might as well not be there. Why? Because ‘traffic’ does not mean a consumer who wants to buy your products.

Backlinking Services

Whether it’s backlinking, guest posts, directory links, or automated linking, you have to steer clear. Backlinks can actually hurt your site more than help it, especially with Google’s new strict rules about relevance. If the links are not from an approved, relevant, and non-spammy source, then they could actually get you blacklisted on Google, which means no traffic from the world’s largest search engine.

SEO Tools

Are ‘SEO Tools’ one of their main sells? If so, you probably don’t want the company. Real SEO has very little to do with automation and more to do with good old fashioned marketing, back end optimization, and quality. It’s not about using tools to get the most done.

They Promise Quick Results

You probably want fast results. You would probably be happy if the traffic started pouring in tomorrow. Unfortunately, SEO doesn’t work that way. No matter what search engine you’re aiming for, fast results just aren’t happening if you do SEO right. In fact, time to results actually vary depending on the company, the search engine, and the number of competitors. Saying you will get ‘fast results’ is like promising that there won’t be anyone at the Starbucks counter if you go in fifteen minutes after they open. It’s possible, but not very likely.

A great SEO company offers quality digital marketing, not gimmicks and empty promises. Watch out for the red flags to root out the ones who won’t be doing your business any good.

Seattle Web Designers Discuss: Better Brand Analysis For Better Websites

Web branding has become a crucial part of marketing over the past few years, but while many businesses are more than ready to integrate branding into their social and marketing strategies, few take the time to design their websites around a solid branding concept. Despite that, branding efforts have been proven to increase both sales and brand loyalty, especially on web orientated businesses.

But what is branding? While many people assume that branding is a logo or a slogan, it’s actually something more. A brand is business identity. While many brands try to influence their brand image, it is the consumers who eventually create their own versions of the brand. How does this affect your website?

Visual Identity

Your visual identity is a huge influencer on your brand, partially because it affects everything that you control that your consumers can see. Visual identity includes colors, images, graphics, logo and header sizes, slogans, and basically everything that many people consider to be ‘branding’. It’s what people see on your website, and it is important. A brand analysis at this stage tells you what brand emotions to focus on, which consumers to target the website for, and what your competitors are doing, so that you can be different but better than them. Visual identity can be impressive to a consumer, but unless it is extremely bad, it won’t really make or break your website on its own. Visual identity is part of your UI, or User Interface, and it is a good idea to invest in a web designer who can represent you properly.


UX is another part of your brand identity, and one that fewer people think about. UX is usability and it affects your website through several functions. The first is that it makes a website easy to use, which is beneficial to your consumer, to reducing the cost of customer service, and to improving brand loyalty. The second is that a good UX is actually present in planned content, meaning that everything present on your page becomes part of a design, intended to guide the user down the page to a call to action in order to create a lead or make a sale. A user friendly design with integrated UX is becoming increasingly important for improving consumer loyalty, and for making sales in the first place. In fact, one Australian study on multiple websites showed that return customers jumped up 17% after integrating UX into the design.

Today’s internet market is highly competitive and if you want your website to thrive, then you have to integrate branding. And that means using a better brand analysis to capture the essence of your company, your consumers, and your competition in order to formulate a digital picture of who you are as a business. For a Seattle what you want people to see, think, and feel when they visit your site. Investments in improving digital can provide as much as an 83% return, and as web purchases rise, that number is likely to as well.

Want to get started on brand analysis so that we can get started on creating a branded website for your business? Contact us today, or visit our web design page to learn more.

Seattle Web Design Teams Now Focusing On UX for Marketing & Usability

While UI or user interface has always been the most important part of a website, UX is becoming increasingly important for websites and more Seattle web design teams are focusing on user experience. Today’s service culture demands not only service, but good service. And while the web has always been an amalgam of various talents and services, it is maturing rapidly, and consumers are quickly coming to expect that maturity in the websites and their services. If you don’t know what UX is or what it can do for your business, then you might be missing out.

What is UX

UX is quite simply user experience, and in terms of web development, it means a carefully thought out and designed experience. While UI is the interface with which consumers interact with your website, UX is the ideas and thoughts behind it that ensure that the consumer has a good experience. But it goes deeper than that. UX also creates an easy to use and even interesting experience with minimal clutter to increase attention, guiding users down the page to a call to action. The result is that UX is also a branding and marketing tool as well as a website tool.

In fact, many businesses are already beginning to integrate UX into their digital marketing, through the use of customer feedback, consumer prompts, and actually listening to their customers. One example of a company using UX is Delta Airlines, who offer customer service through both their website and their mobile site by proactively fixing issues. For example, when a customer’s flight is cancelled, the website automatically sends an email with a list of next available flights that the customer can choose from. The result is not only a happier customer but also a lower cost for Delta, because that customer doesn’t have to call through to customer service. This sort of proactive user experience is what can and should be the future.

Working UX into Your Design

If you already have a website then you might have UX, especially if you hired the right design team. Some teams are even good enough that they can create a UX without doing so intentionally, but this is rare. However, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to work UX into your design, or to have a new website designed around user experience. In fact, because UX is mostly just a well thought out web design, you may only need a few tweaks to increase usability and improve your information architecture for maximum efficiency.

UX really is becoming a huge buzzword right now, but it is an important one because it encompasses something that greatly affects your website and your consumer perceptions. A great UX ensures that your customers have the best experience on your website, and if not, that they have easy solutions. Want to learn more about UX? Talk to some of our specialized Seattle web developers today to find out what we can do for you and your user web experience.

Five Questions to Ask Your Seattle Web Designer About Your Site

If you’re having your site rebuilt, redesigned, or launched for the first time, you might want to stop and take a few minutes to stop and consider the website. While you might have a really good idea of what you want and need, especially if you have some design experience, it’s always a good idea to get advice and ask questions before you do so. And most importantly,

Am I Using the Right CMS For This Site?

This is especially important to ask if you’re launching a site for the first time, or aren’t sure what you have. CMS or Content Management Systems allow you to add information to your site, and some common ones include Joomla and Wordpress. You can also have a Seattle web designer build you a custom CMS if you need it. While different CMS are better for different types of websites and different functions. Unfortunately, unless you’re prepared to do a lot of research, you might not know which is best for your site. The best thing to do is ask. You can get a recommendation for the best CMS for your business, whether it be Joomla, or something custom.

Do I Really Need That?

If you have a list of items that you want for your website, it is always a good idea to go over them with your web designer to talk about which elements are most beneficial to your site, and which, if any, you should get rid of. This is especially important if you have a lot of features and pages that you want to integrate, because feature rich usually means slow to load, which is bad for your search marketing. Plus, too many features may actually be confusing for your site. Consider talking over the essentials with your web designer and then making decisions based on recommendations.

What Happens If I Want Feature Outside the Project Scope Later?

Another important thing to discuss is whether or not the web design team will be able to make adjustments or new features after the rest of the site is finished, and how much extra that will cost you. Depending on the web design team they will want to charge an hourly or a project rate, and the final rate should depend on that. While you might not need changes outside of the project scope, it is always a good idea to discuss them so that you can make an informed decision about changes later.

There are plenty of things that you should ask your Seattle web designer, but chances are you’ve already figured out that you should get credentials and consider why you should hire them. In addition to these basics, it’s always a good idea to ask them about your site plans, what you need, and which options are best for your site so that you make sure you get the best options for your needs. Want to know more or want a consult with professional web designers? Contact Rory Martin to discuss your option


Seattle Social Media Experts Discuss: Internet Marketing Teams

Whether your business is small, large, or somewhere in between, you need marketing. And if your business can make sales online, then you definitely want to focus a large percentage of that marketing on the internet, where you have the potential for a great deal of return with very little investment. Unfortunately, while social media might sound deceptively simple to those who are not familiar with marketing, it is often a task that requires expert advice in order to pull off correctly. But while you could hire just one person to manage all of your digital marketing, there are multiple advantages to having a team to do everything for you.

Collaborative Planning

If you’ve ever worked with part of a team then you know that there is a major difference between working with one person and working as a team. Collaborating on ideas and trends, creating strategies together, and creating marketing plans together allows for more dynamic marketing because more people submit ideas to create strategies and plans with more ideas and more perspective, which usually results in a better plan.

Better Content and Strategies

Another great thing about working with a social media or online marketing team is content and proofreading. Mistakes happen. In fact, even major publications like the Washington Post sometimes publish mistakes. But with a team handling your social planning, you are less likely to have problems with posts, marketing, and quality because each item goes through several hands before it ever reaches the internet. It also means that most of what you put online will be chosen from a selection of ideas rather than the only idea, because more people were working with the idea. This is highly beneficial to all forms of social and online marketing, especially when catering to a specific area like Seattle, where different people will be more knowledgeable about different demographics than an individual.

Specialized Team Members

When you hire just one person you’re getting someone who has a rough knowledge of a great deal of different social media tactics, and while that works for the most part, it’s hard to beat having multiple people who specialize in one area, such as affiliate marketing or blogging or social media posts. The result is that the people you bring into your company have more combined knowledge, and can make more informed decisions regarding the direction and content of your online marketing.

Unfortunately, unless you happen to be a much larger business with a considerable marketing  budget, you won’t be able to hire a team full time. While you might think that you’re stuck with hiring one expert, that isn’t quite true and you do have an alternative. Hiring a local Seattle social media marketing company to do your social and online marketing for your means that not only do you only pay for the actual work that you need, but also that you have a marketing team rather than an individual for much less than the price of a full-time hire. Of course, if you need full time, some social media teams can do that too.

Seattle Social Media Talk: Facebooks New Content Like Ban & Your Page

Facebook’s newest platform update introduced a ban to content incentives to likes, which essentially means that you can no longer offer anything in order for someone to become a fan. While some forms of content link enticement are still available to pages (for example through apps), there are a lot of currently common content incentives that are no longer available for pages. Let’s talk about what that means for your page, and what you can do about it.

No More Likes for Content

Gated or incentive content is any sort of content that requires the user to like your page in order to take advantage of it. Because like to win, and like to access content or contest pages have been active on Facebook for the last five years or so, this will mean a big change for the way some pages market their business. However, it’s not all bad. One very common trend seen in incentivized likes is that they are not extremely active, and many of them have no real interest in the page, other than that they wanted to win something. The result is low quality likes that do nothing for you as a business. While the numbers look good, they aren’t precisely driving any sales. Some examples of no more content for likes include:

  • No more gated content

  • No more ’25% discount if you like our page’

  • No more ‘Access this content if you like our page’

Essentially, you can’t offer anyone a reward for liking your page anymore. Facebook has not listed the specific details, but failure to comply with other guidelines usually results in a page being banned.

Alternative Marketing Strategies

While you might be upset that you can’t use gated content or likes for coupons anymore, you shouldn’t be. There are plenty of other marketing techniques you can use to build your fan pages, and do so in a Facebook friendly way.

Facebook Share Campaigns – Share incentives are still a great way to boost exposure for your page, and you can continue to offer prices for photo post likes, shares, and comments. You can also stipulate that the giveaway is only open to fans of the page so long as you do not ask people to like the page in order to enter the competition.

Hashtags – Hashtags are another great way to increase exposure, although it is important to research active hashtags for your area first.

Optimize Your Facebook for Local SEO – If properly optimized, your social page will come up in searches for local businesses that provide your services. Optimizing your page properly ensures that you get maximum local exposure to people looking for your business.

Encourage Feedback – When one of your fans posts feedback on your wall, it also posts on their wall, which not only shows that you have fans (if they leave a good review), but also improves your reach and potentially converts their friends. Good feedback also improves your local SEO reach.

The new policy will take effect in November of 2014, so you have a couple of months to phase these sort of like incentives out of your marketing strategy before you start to get in trouble for them.

© Copyright © 2012 Rory Martin Inc.