Posts Tagged ‘seattle web development’

Improving Your Website Security – Seattle Web Development Tips

Whether you’re using a CMS like WordPress or Joomla, or have a custom design, security is a huge issue that affects every site on the web. With thousands of websites hacked every day, using strong security is essential for your site, your investment, and your customers. Not only do hackers mess up the work your web designers put into the site (that you paid for) they can also redirect your clients and customers to pages where you don’t want them to go, infect their computers with viruses and malware, and steal their information. If you want to protect yourself and your reputation, you have to take steps to secure your website.

Web-Security-Threats

Make Site Backups

Site backups won’t protect your site, but they do allow you to cancel everything and immediately re-upload to your last working site if someone hacks it. If that happens, you will have to immediately change all of your passwords and add security, but it does allow you to get everything up and working again without losing money if your site is hacked.

Limit the Number of Failed Connections/Entries

You can limit the number of times that someone can attempt to log in before they are locked out. This is essential for blocking hacking bots, which input lets and numbers and words randomly until they gain access. Usually, 3 to 5 times is enough, after which you can require administrator assistance.

Change Your Login URLs

If you’re using ‘administrator’ or ‘login’ or ‘wp-admin’ to access your login, then you’re making a mistake. Change the database to change the URL. Your Seattle web development team can do this for you. What should you change it to? Make it unique, something you can remember, and short.

Use Stronger Passwords

If you’re using Password 123, or another similar, easy to guess password, you should try again. Don’t use anything related to your name, your business, signing in to an account, or your password. Try a password generator, or use an 8-15-digit password with lower case and upper case letters, numbers, and punctuation or special characters.

Be Careful

If you’re downloading and using free skins or site themes, they could include base64 encoding, which could allow hackers to distribute malware to your site. Only use themes from trusted sources.

Use HTTP Encryption

It is important that you use encryption on any pages where customers check out, pay for something, or input personal data. This is important to ensure that their data is not stolen, because you will be liable. If you store their personal data, you have to encrypt that as well. Put your security measures in your privacy policy document so visitors can check it. You can purchase a security certificate from a number of providers to set up HTTPS encryption.
Securing your website is important for your business and your reputation, so make sure you take the steps to protect it. Hiring a professional Seattle web developer to help you with making your site secure is a good step if you aren’t sure how to go about the technical aspects of security.

Do you want to know more about website security or features? Contact Rory Martin for more information.

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Website Navigation Tips for Businesses – Seattle Web Development

Your website navigation is one of the most important aspects of your site, because it controls how people get from one place to another, and can make or break sales, creating leads, and even reading more on your site. While it can be tempting to simply cram everything into your menus so that people can find it, they often find nothing at all. If you’re working with a Seattle web developer, or planning to hire one, these following tips will help you with making the right decisions regarding your menus and other website navigation.

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Use a Recognizable Style

It may be tempting to use a unique menu or navigation system because it makes you stand out, but the important thing to remember is that people will have to learn it. When helping people through your site, especially to making a purchase, the last thing you want them to have to do is take a moment to learn. Studies and real world reactions show that people hate things they aren’t familiar with. Use existing menu systems and layouts that people already know, understand, and can use without a second thought.

Ditch Drop Down and Sub Menus

Drop down menus and sub menus may seem like a good idea because they allow you to clean up your home page, but they aren’t usually a good idea. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to see where they have to go, which means using a menu that they can see. Hamburger menus are popular, but not always a good idea because they make finding the menu difficult, especially on small screens.

Optimize Your Navigation Order

If your navigation order is completely randomized, then you are doing it wrong. You want to figure out which pages people are most likely to visit, and in what order, and organize based on priority. You don’t really want an irrelevant page on the top of the menu, because it completely throws the menu off and makes it that much harder to use. If you’re upgrading an existing website, you can usually go about upgrading your menu by prioritizing the pages that get the most traffic, or using the path that most people take through your website. If you’re building a new website, you can ask your Seattle web developers to create a natural path through the website for users to follow, and organize navigation accordingly.

Use Links Not Buttons

Links are better for menus than buttons because they’re smaller, simpler, less likely to malfunction, and are better for search optimization.

Keep it Simple

Simplicity is the key to a good menu. Don’t make it hard to find the right things, don’t add too many items, and certainly don’t have more than 10 items. Sub-menus may seem like a good idea but they are most often messy, difficult to use, and can fail completely on mobile devices.
Good navigation makes for a good user experience, which boosts your SEO, your website’s usability, and your conversion. Discuss it with your local Seattle web development team during site development, and make sure that it’s easy to use before you launch.

Things to Keep in Mind When Redesigning Your Website – Seattle Web Development

Building a website and standing out in the busy Internet traffic that makes up much of Seattle’s modern commerce can be tough, especially if you’re a small business. Redesigning it can be even more of a hassle, especially if you’re not entirely sure what you want, or why your first design didn’t work. The following considerations should help you out with what to keep in mind, what to ask your Seattle web development team about, and what to consider during the process.

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Who’s Doing the Research?

Depending on your web development team, research and planning may be up to you, or up to them. You usually want them to handle it, because unlike you, they are professionals. Market research, keyword research, continuity mapping, demographics, brand image. You have to know everything, and hopefully before you plan your website.

Backend SEO

If you’re doing a redesign, then now is the perfect time to handle your backend SEO. Everything from your site structure to your URL’s affects your SEO. Talk with your web developer about items like website structure, and research to see what the normal route through your website is (pages people visit). You also want responsive or adaptive design.

If you decide you need a mobile site, then you have to make sure you have canonical URLs, which also have to be set up. Redirects and canonical URL’s are something that will help with your SEO, because it ensures that even if you have a mobile website and a normal website, search engines see visitors from both as on the same page. It also reduces the risk of being flagged for duplicate content. Speed, page load times, 508 and W3C compliance, and if you have an international website, EU Cookie Law, all have to be considered as well.

Navigation

Too many websites are unnecessarily complicated, making it difficult for users to get around. If you’re trying to sell something, whether that be products or a pitch to visit your brick and mortar business, poor navigation can be detrimental to your pitch. If people can’t find what they need in 30 seconds or less, they will usually leave your site. You want to make navigation and menus as simple and as easy as possible to use.

Content

Content is the backbone of the web, so it’s important to consider it when creating your website. Considerations include photo size, how much web content you want per page, whether or not you’re publishing a blog, and other types of media such as whitepapers, video, eBooks, and for-purchase content. All of these considerations are important to keep in mind when designing your website because the website usually has to be designed around them.

Testing

You wouldn’t create a recipe and make it for guests without ever once trying it, so try not to do it with your website. You want to hire a web developer that handles testing, or allows you to come up with a testing team for quality assurance. This is especially important if you’re promoting your website launch to your regular customers, so that you know everything works. You also want feedback before you launch, so you can make changes to perfect your site.

There are a lot of things to keep in mind before you redesign your website, but if you have a good developer, you should be able to get most or all of it from them. Contact Rory Martin to learn more, or to discuss your website needs.

7 Steps to a Great Seattle Website

Deciding to launch a website, or to redesign your existing one, can be a big step, especially if you have to start from the ground up. While costs vary, you have to budget a few thousand dollars for a good Seattle web developer, so it’s important that you know what you want, and how to get there. Working with your designer, ensuring that they know what they are doing, and ensuring that they know what you want are all crucial elements of getting a site you will love. The following 7 steps will help you with getting there.

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1. Discovery, Research, and Strategy

The first step of building any website is planning and research. One of the biggest mistakes that small businesses make is putting building their website quickly ahead of any sort of brand research or targeting. Unfortunately, this is very much the wrong way to go. Take the time to do brand analysis, market targeting, and strategy based on that analysis, or choose a web developer who will do it for you. Communication strategy, primary audiences, and perception goals can all drastically change how your website should look.

2. Solid Architecture

You might not know what site architecture is, and that’s okay, your Seattle web designer will. What you need is to plan in solid site architecture, including backend, and great copywriting. This means search optimized, clear calls to action, and enough user oriented design that readers are guided clearly down the page to wherever you want them to go.

3. Design

Your actual web design is incredibly important because it affects your brand image and perception. A busy, flashy website might seem tempting, but studies show that simplicity and clean website design is much more effective. You’ll also have to consider your target audience in the design. For example, if you sell hearing aids or glasses, you’ll want large, clear text that’s easy to read for those with sight problems. The size and number of images, site design, menus, colors, and impression are also important. Generally, if you can go on the page and not find what you’re looking for in three seconds, it’s probably too busy.

4. Development

Whether you’re going with an existing content management system or want a custom one, you need great web development. Your development team should be able to build an interface that allows you to achieve anything you want (such as flash, interactive menus, etc.), but also that resizes based on phones and browsers, displays properly on different browsers, and allows you full functionality.

5. Stage 2 of Development and Design

You’re probably going to want a few adjustments to the initial design and development, so that should be considered as part of the process. Make sure you plan in going over the website and making changes, but make sure that you outline what you want, and why you want it as clearly as possible, so that your developer knows what to do.

6. Launch

Your website launch is important, and if you plan it correctly, you should already have a fair amount of hype for your site before it goes live. Some Seattle web developers will help you with marketing your site before it goes live, but make sure that you’ve budgeted for the extra cost if so.

7. Maintenance

If you want updates, new features, new designs, or just to ensure continued functionality, you will need the occasional update. While you don’t have to keep your web developer on the payroll, you should ensure that they’re willing to do updates from time to time, or even schedule regular maintenance to ensure that everything is going as it should be.

Hiring a Seattle web developer is a big step, but you do want to make sure that they offer help through every step, including planning, brand analysis, strategy, and maintenance after launch.

How to Protect Your Website From Hackers – Seattle Web Development Tips

If you have a business website then, you no doubt, worry about hackers, viruses, and other issues that could not only affect your website, but also your business reputation. This is especially important if you offer online purchases through a shopping cart. Even if you’re just starting to set up and build your site, the following tips from Seattle web developers can help to ensure that you take the right steps to protect your site. While these tips do not include coding issues, you can talk to your web development team to ensure that they are integrating security into your design.

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Use Secure Logins

While you may be tempted to use your default logins, or ‘administrator’ plus “password123”, you should usually be a bit more creative. Some hackers are nothing more than good guessers, and some use software to input commonly used password and username combinations, until they get lucky. Make sure they don’t by ensuring that your password is a string of complex numbers and letters, with special characters, and that your username is something other than your name, ‘administrator’, or similar. A good idea is to use the name of your first pet plus your school locker number or your first phone number if it’s a personal website, or a randomly generated secure hash if it’s a website that multiple people are using.

Consider Security Plugins

If you’ve gone with popular CMS like Drupal, Joomla, or Wordpress, you can choose multiple security plugins to ensure that your website is as safe as possible. Options range from apps that only give you a few tries to log in until they lock you out, to those that email or text you if you’re logging in from a new location.

Don’t Integrate Third Party Flash Apps

Unless you’re using apps from a very trusted source like Google Maps, try not to integrate third party applications into your website. JavaScript and flash injection both allow hackers to insert malware into visitors computers directly from your website.

Purchase a Security Script

Buying security is a must if you want your consumers trust. Most web hosts offer security certificates, but you can also purchase them from popular antivirus companies like Symantec’s Norton. Posting these on your website tells your visitors that you are doing everything you can to keep them safe. If you don’t know how to set this up, don’t be afraid to ask your developer.

HTTPS

If you’re running a store, asking for personal information, or even asking for email addresses, you should consider setting up HTTPS. This means that your site is secure, as is the connection, so that hackers cannot access the information under normal circumstances. Once again, just ask your developer.

Knowing how to protect your website is important, especially with more and more vulnerabilities found in websites. If you want to know how to protect your specific website, ask your developer, or hire them to build in more security.

Five Tips for Choosing a Local Seattle Web Developer

Finding a quality web developer is notoriously difficult on the web, especially with thousands of overseas companies who operate under dubious credentials and often offer themes or pre-built websites under the pretense of a custom site. Going local is the easiest way to ensure the originality of your site, but it also allows you to find a company that understands your local customer demographic, local website trends, and that you can meet in person to determine their actual suitability for the job. Whether you’re looking to hire a one-off Seattle web development team to build your website, or need a long-term web specialist for maintenance, updates, and constant development, you can use these tips for choosing a good local Seattle web developer or team.

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Understand the Market

The first rule of hiring a web developer anywhere, not just in Seattle, is that you have to understand the market, fair pricing, and what you can expect for the money. If you’re accustomed to choosing outsource and offshore companies with engineers and developers primarily in India and Pakistan, then you’re going to be able to afford considerably less if you go local. However, you also have to know normal pricing for a website of your size and standard, so that you can get a fair quote, without feeling that it is over the top or too cheap. Your best bet is to set a budget in advance and then figure out what you can get for that budget before you go ‘shopping’ for a developer.

Decide on Skills and Requirements Up Front

You wouldn’t hire a Japanese sushi chef if you wanted a French Crémeux, and the same goes for web development. While some developers are experts in everything, that’s rare and usually quite far fetched. Instead, look for a developer who has the skillset you need (I.E. JavaScript, PhP, and HTML) and make sure they can work with it before you hire them. There is no one size fits all developer, unless you’re happy with whatever they can build you.

Look for a Past History

While it may sound unfair to only hire experienced developers, you wouldn’t hire an inexperienced person for most other jobs, so don’t risk it with your website. Choosing someone with verifiable experience, standards, and hopefully references you can use to verify claims and ensure that the developer hits deadlines and offers quality websites is an easy way to cut out a lot of hassle.

Check their Portfolio

Finally, you want to know that you like their work and that they are capable of building you a website that you love. Checking your prospective web developer’s portfolio is the easiest way to make sure that they will offer you the website you want.

 

Want to know more about how a local Seattle website designer can help you? Contact Rory Martin to see if we’re a good fit for your needs.

What Seattle Companies are Doing Wrong with Web Design

With over 644 million active websites on the Internet, it can be difficult to make yourself stand out. Luckily, there are far fewer local Seattle websites to compete with, but you’re still going to have to make yourself stand out. While the average small business now recognizes that they need and should have a website, not everyone goes about it in the best way. A website is your brand on the web, and it has to be just as convincing as any physical storefront. Because many consumers are now visiting mobile websites before they go to a store for the first time, your site is becoming more and more important. With that in mind, here are few things that Seattle businesses frequently get wrong, and help from local web designers on how to fix those problems.

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Forgetting to Research Your Demographic

If you’re in a hurry to get your website up, a new business, or don’t think you need a target demographic, you could be making a huge mistake. While some people don’t think they need to target anyone and others try to target everyone, both options are a mistake. Researching your target demographic allows you to market your website directly to the people most likely to need your services or products, allowing you to create more churn and make more sales.

No Marketing

No one likes to be marketed to but if you have a whole website with no calls to action, no links driving people to buy things, and nothing at all to tell the consumer that they should be spending money, then you’re probably missing out. Integrating strategic calls to action, links to products, and creating landing pages for users who search for your content on the web can be crucial to your success.

Overly Complicated Design

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The 90s and early 2000s saw a rash of poorly designed websites with flashing banners, jQuery animation, and really cluttered design. If your website looks like an advertisement board, has more images than free space, or crams something into every possible space, you’re probably telling customers that you aren’t professional or modern. Go with simple, elegant, and easy to use.

Not Updating Your Content

Regularly updating your content, even if it’s as simple as changing all of the listed dates on your website once yearly, is crucial to being on the web. Customers like to see activity so that they can see you’re a relevant, real business. Consider linking your social media so that consumers can see your likes and social activity, keep a weekly blog and update it weekly, and post regular updates.

Using the Wrong Designer

The wrong designer can completely ruin your website. Whether you’re paying more than you have to and going way over budget, or paying less than you should and getting a substandard website, you’re making a mistake. You’re probably also messing up if you decide to do your website yourself, unless of course, you’re a qualified website designer. Go over your budget, decide how much you can make back from your website in a year, and choose a quality designer with a good reputation based on that criteria.

If you want to know more about quality Seattle web design, contact Rory Martin for a free quote.

Seattle Web Development and Design: What Affect Your Bottom Line?

Paying for quality web design is an understood part of doing business on the web, but do you know how it affects your bottom line? Does having a certain type of website, or a quality looking website, actually affect sales? Actually, studies show that having a ‘credible’ looking website affects sales, and it scaled a four out of five on the level of importance. If you’re interested in improving your web design, the following include a few tips from Seattle web development professionals on what actually affects your ROI.

Clutter

Did you know that minimalistic, clean websites are more professional and usually convert better than cluttered and crowded websites? The natural idea is to try to fit everything in, but statistics show, that might actually hurt your business. Keep your tabs, submenus, and features to a minimum, and focus on offering the best quality possible for what you do have. This holds true for your web design as well. A minimalistic look with large, clean graphics, rather than more images, serves you better.

UX Design

User Experience is incredibly important for professionalism and sales. If the user can easily navigate a website, get a clear idea of what to do, and not feel marketed to, then they are more likely to purchase something. While UX design can be complicated, it’s mostly the idea of planning out your website, taking consumers from top to bottom, and then to secondary pages, and guiding them through your website. UX is making it easy for the customer to purchase something.

Content

You may have guessed that your content, including graphics and web copy, affect your sales a great deal. For graphics, you want large, unique images as often as possible. Clutter is always bad. Web copy is a little more difficult. You need well written content that avoids clichés, is easy to read, flows, well, and doesn’t make it obvious that it’s trying to sell something. Obnoxious calls to action may have worked in the past, but the modern Internet prefers to be talked to rather than marketed to.

Frequent Updates

New, content is the best way to tell your consumers that you’re still around and you’re still relevant. By updating your website frequently, keeping dates on your website to that year, and blogging regularly, you tell your consumers that you’re always around, and that you’re reliable. No one wants to purchase anything from a website that hasn’t been updated since 2012, mainly because the might not know if the website is still in business. This does mean you need a quality Content Management System.

Professionalism

If your website looks professional, then you look professional. Because a website represents your brand on the internet, it is every bit as important to be professional online as it is in your business. Your text, your conduct on blogs, and your site design should all reflect that, because they do impact your business and sales.

Want to know more about how quality web design can improve your business? Or, do you need a quality, modern website to help boost your conversion rates? Contact Rory Martin to ask about a consultation, or browse through our past websites to see what we’ve done for other clients.

Why You Should Hold a Kickoff Meeting With Your Seattle Web Development Team

Whether you’re hiring your first web development team or hiring someone to make small updates to your existent content, they will probably offer you a kickoff meeting (if they don’t, go find another developer). While it may seem like a waste of your time to get together and have a meeting with your web developer, after all, some people hire international rather than local Seattle web developers, there are a couple of pretty convincing reasons why you should take them up on the offer and attend the meeting.

What is a Kickoff Meeting

A kickoff meeting is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a meeting where you go over initial design ideas, tell your web developers what you want, and if you’re lucky, they will show you any preliminary ideas. This sort of meeting can be done over the web if you’re short on time, but you can also show up to get to meet your designers, and they can meet you to get a better feel for who you are and what you might want. Some developers will want to host the meeting in your place of business so that they can get an idea of what your business is like as well, which is helpful when creating a design.

What Should You Discuss with Your Web Designers

A great kickoff meeting will allow you to discuss your needs, desires, and requirements for the product. In return, web designers will discuss product viability, feasibility, budget, time constraints, and any preliminary options for the site. You’ll cover topics like your brand, your core products, your product purpose, and most importantly, getting everyone involved to submit ideas, suggestions, and other information which might be helpful for creating a finalized idea of what you want your website to be.

Seattle web design meeting

Preparing for your Kickoff Meeting

While your web developer should do most of the prep work for the kickoff meeting, you can make sure that you are prepared by bringing along ideas of what you want your site to look like, lists of requirements, timelines, and items such as crucial elements of your website. If you have a separate web designer, then you’ll want to bring them along to the kickoff meeting as well so that they can work with the developer, but most development teams include design in the package.

Other than that, you really just have to set up a time and a place, and then start talking to your web developers about what you want and need in a site. From there, they can decide which direction you want to go, get a better idea of the feel of your company, and choose an appropriate direction, so that you get a website you truly love. A good kickoff meeting sets the stage for a whole project, and the ability to hold them is actually one of the reasons why you should choose a local Seattle web development team, rather than choosing one in Austin, Texas.

Want to know more? Contact Rory Martin to discuss your web development needs.

Seattle Web Development: Do You Need Mobile Web?

Seattle Web Development: Do You Need Mobile Web?

If you’ve been looking around for a website designer then you’ve probably heard or seen the term ‘mobile web’ a few times. If you’ve been reading up on what your website should and should not have on a blog then you’ve probably heard it more than a few times. The mobile web is a vast and confusing place if you’re new to the world of web development, but, whether you have an existing website or you’re planning on hiring a local Seattle web developer to build one for you, you’re probably only wondering one thing about the mobile web, do you need it?

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What is the Mobile Web?

The mobile web is technically any part of the web designed for mobile use. For the most part, that means websites and menus which resize or adjust or are sized properly for phones and tablets. Because traditional websites are often too big to display properly, or display so small that it is impossible to read or select the menus comfortably, the mobile web makes using the web easier.

Do You Have Mobile Traffic?

If you already have a website, then the easiest way to see if a mobile website could benefit you is to check your mobile traffic. If you have any analytics program (the free version from Google will do the trick), you can easily check to see which percentage of your visitors visit on a browser vs. a tablet or phone. Some will even tell you the specific devices such as Samsung Galaxy or iPhone that you’re getting your traffic from.

If you don’t have a website or don’t have analytics (or don’t know how to use your analytics) then you can also go by general statistics. Right now, mobile usage is trending upwards, more than 60% of users research shops, restaurants, and stores on their phone before visiting them, and more than 70% of consumers research products and cross compare them on their phone before purchasing. Essentially, if you sell products, have a store, or have anything that users may want to research online first, then the mobile web could directly impact your sales.

What Are My Options?

There are multiple options for anyone who wants to have a website that’s compatible with the mobile web, but sometimes the best thing to do is to talk to your Seattle web developer about your needs and your site first. Some websites work well with mobile websites set up separately, although these do have their issues with search engine optimization and duplicate content. You can set your website to automatically re-direct to your mobile version whenever someone logs on from a mobile device. You can also have your web designer set up a responsive web desing that resizes based on your visitors, but this isn’t always ideal.

Do you want to talk about which mobile web option is best for your website? Try talking to one of the professional Seattle web developers at Rory Martin before you make your decision.

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