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Insights into the Online World


At Modern Earth Web Design we choose  WordPress as the CMS when building websites for our clients. It is popular, well supported and a great tool for publishing and managing content on the web.

The four main areas of concern during the web development process are:

  • Website functionality
  • Website extensibility
  • Website security
  • Website support

Switching your website CMS (content management system) to WordPress provides easy solutions to common problems in these four areas.

How WordPress Helps

Website functionality

WordPress is a powerful CMS with a lot of functionality right out of the box.  WordPress easily manages: static pages, blog posts, media content, comments, users and roles.  All this functionality is included by default and ready to be used.

Website extensibility

WordPress websites can be extended with the large library of plugins and themes that are available.  There are 40,000 (and growing) free plugins with 1 billion downloads.  You can also choose from premium (paid) plugins.  All these plugins extend the basic functionality of WordPress. For example block spam in comments section, add eCommerce shop or add forum to your website. You can find a plugin almost for everything you need. There are 2,000 free themes as well as premium themes. Themes provide the styling to your website: how your pages, text, and menus will look. When building a website in WordPress, you’re not limited to existing themes or plugins.  You can design and build a custom theme, or create a plugin to meet the unique needs of your website.  If you’re not familiar, or comfortable, with building your own contact us.

Website security

The WordPress CMS is extremely popular with both professional and amateur website designers, and its popularity continues to grow.  A survey by W3Techs found that the most commonly used CMS is WordPress, a quarter of all websites are powered by it! The second most used CMS, Joomla, is used by about 3% of monitored websites.  This means that there are millions of websites powered by WordPress, that are accessed by millions of users every day.  With usage like this, the WordPress team must take security issues very seriously.  All security issues or vulnerabilities in WordPress are reviewed upon submission, and the WordPress team releases an updated version with fixes as quickly as possible, depending on the severity,  after the vulnerability is discovered.  You can learn more in the official statement from WordPress here.

Website support

WordPress has extensive support forums for web designers and web developers that allows users to interact with each other.  Questions can be asked and answered in real time, and responses are held in a searchable database.  In all these millions of WordPress users you are likely to find someone who  has encountered the same road-block you have.  In the support forum you will often find the solution you need after only a few minutes of searching. If you are unable to find a solution for your problem in the WordPress provided forums there are several off site resources that can help you with WordPress issues.  My personal favourites are Smashing Magazine and WPMU Premium.


The WordPress CMS solves the biggest problems you may face while designing, developing or maintaining your website, and does so more easily that other CMS platforms. What issues have you encountered in the creation of your website?  Let us know in the comments; we would love to discuss how WordPress can help you.

Selling Inbound Marketing to a Skeptic

POSTED BY Emma Sadonick-Carriere


As consumers shopping habits have changed over time, marketers have had to adapt their tactics to reach consumers.  Inbound marketing one of these new tactics.  Instead of pushing your product or service on the general public constantly using traditional print, audio, and video ads, you put out content that draws users in organically.  Social media marketing, search engine optimization, blogging and opt-in email marketing are the primary inbound marketing methods used by most businesses.  Consumers often go through a basic purchase process funnel:

  • Awareness of a problem and a need for a solution
  • Consideration of potential solutions they’ve found 
  • Solution to the problem is selected and purchased

Inbound marketing is about providing users with the content, experience, and solutions they’re looking for at the time they’re looking for them.

Generally, business owners and marketing executives have come to accept that inbound marketing is a more effective way to generate qualified leads.  Traditional marketing still works, and is likely to do so for several more years, but as more consumers grow up in the era of inbound marketing I expect we will see a decline in traditional marketing efforts.  If you’re in the unfortunate position of having to convince a skeptic to give inbound marketing a try, here are two different angles you can take.

Engaging in the Conversation

Online review websites provide a platform for consumers to voice their unfiltered opinion of a company or product with no real fear of the repercussions.  Many companies are wary of using these websites for fear of being constantly bashed online.  Whether you’re active on the website or not, users will still talk about you.  Monitoring and engaging with consumers on the website who are already talking about your brand helps you maintain control of, and guide, the conversation to a more positive light.  This also gives you the opportunity to deal with consumer concerns in real time.  Most platforms will send you a notification as soon as a review is posted, so consumers are not left dwelling on a negative experience.        

Social media gives consumers a direct point of contact with a brand in a public forum, and they expect a response.  A study published by Lithium Technologies found 53% of Twitter users expect a response to their tweet in less than an hour.  If the tweet contained an issue or complaint from the user the number climbs to 72% of users.  When you respond to a consumer comment or concern on social media they are likely to have one of a three reactions

  1. Happiness
    • If you were able to resolve their issue and exceed their expectations they are now a more loyal customer, and are more likely to refer you to their personal network. 
  2. Excitement
    • Being seen and heard by a company gives consumers a“warm and fuzzy” feeling, and will help your brand stay top of mind.
  3. Anger
    • Some consumers will remain unhappy, this is inevitable.  It happens “in the real world” and it happens online.  All you can do as a company is address their concern while upholding company values and being respectful.

Managing User Experience and Expectations

Maintaining your company website with current information, and updating your blog regularly are comparatively easy inbound marketing wins; it’s on a platform you have complete control over.  

Web design has evolved over the years, and users have come to expect an intuitive, informative and mobile friendly experience from all websites.  Incorporating quality search engine optimization across your website further helps to increase the value provided to consumers.  A well optimized website will have content that matches well with the keywords most closely related to the company and their offering.  One of the many factors that influence search rankings, this can increase search rankings and the chance that consumers will select your company to resolve their issue.

Blogging increases the amount of content on your website, and gives you the opportunity to provide your expert opinion on topics within your industry.  This is especially important for small businesses.  Consumers will spend time researching your company online; having a strong collection of content on your website that exemplifies your experience and knowledge in your industry re-affirms their decision to become a buyer of your brand.        


The same Lithium Technologies study found that when companies have quick response times on social platforms customers confirm:

  • 34% are likely to buy more from that company;
  • 43% are likely to encourage friends and family to buy their products;
  • 38% are more receptive to their advertisements;
  • 42% are willing to praise or recommend the brand through social media.

Reaching consumers when they are looking for the solution you offer ensures they are more qualified than a traditional ad that reaches a relatively undefined audience.  Take advantage of the opportunities available from inbound marketing.  Once a consumer has successfully gone through the purchase process funnel with your company, has had their expectations exceeded, and has developed trust in your brand they are considered one of your evangelists, which is the best consumer type of all.


Thanks to phablets, tablets, phones, computers, dual-screens, game consoles and e-readers we have more than just one way of browsing the internet. Responsive Web Design is about making your site look good and providing the user a great experience on every device and screen size. Here are 8 signs that it’s time you invest in responsive web design.


1.) You Can’t Use Your Site On Your Phone. 

If you can only see a quarter of your website at a time, it’s not mobile friendly. Anyone attempting to use your website most likely won’t be able to find what they’re looking for, and they definitely can’t use the navigation to see your contact information. For those familiar with web design best practices, this seems like an obvious sign to invest in responsive design. Those doubting the need to access a website on a smartphone can look at these statistics compiled by mobiForge


  • 25% of overall search queries are now on mobile devices
  • 58.7% of smartphone users and 73.9% of tablet users access search
  • 42% of calls to businesses are driven by mobile search
  • 80% of local searches on mobile devices turn into purchases



2.) Mobile: Yes. Desktop: Yes. Tablet: Maybe? 

You’re using a phone or your computer and your website looks and works great, but look at it on a tablet and you’ll be constantly zooming in saying to yourself, “What is this, a website for ants?!?” With phone sizes increasing drastically and tablets coming in full and mini versions, the target screen display sizes are always changing. The wonderful part of responsive design is that you’re building one structure and then styling it to make it fit for every screen size. No need to develop and update separate mobile and desktop sites, just one set of content adjusted to work for every tablet, phablet, and phone screen.


3.) Your Site’s Getting Less Traffic Than It Used To. 

Google started considering mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal in April of this year. What does this mean for you? If someone uses their phone to search Google for your keywords and your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you will lose ranking to other sites that are optimized for viewing on a mobile device. This shouldn’t affect your ranking for someone viewing your site on a desktop computer, but since 25% of search queries are done on mobile devices it’s a huge drop in traffic for your website. If you’re unsure how your website performs, check how Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test


4.) You Lose All Of Your Key Info On Mobile.

While you website may appear on a small device clearly, you might have a lot of unnecessary content to dig through in order to get to the key information the user is looking for. The average person only spends 15 seconds looking for information on your site. That means that if they can’t find your phone number, hours, or whatever they came looking for they may go back to their search and move on to the next result. Having a responsive design enables you to choose which information and what order you want a user to view for each screen size. On a small screen there’s a limited area to display your information to the viewer and you have to be conscious of what brought them to your site in the first place.


5.) Your Site Takes A Long Time To Load. 

In reality we usually only wait 2 seconds, maybe 4 seconds if we know we have a really bad data connection. This can lead to people abandoning your website because they didn’t get the service they wanted. Load time has also been a factor in Google search ranking since 2010. As we covered in #4, a responsive site allows you to trim the amount of content displayed to the viewer. Having the ability to limit the content on a mobile device can help you eliminate the excess items that may increase your site’s load time.


6.) You Liked Your Website, But Now You’re Thinking BIGGER. 

You used to like your website, but now you have a bigger monitor and want to take advantage of that empty space you see on the side. Responsive design isn’t just about mobile. Most websites that were built in the last 5 years have a fixed width and work just fine. Once you see it on a larger screen you may realize how much real estate you could be capitalizing on. One of my constant resources that has taken advantage of this is Smashing Magazine. By adjusting the position of their navigation, they developed an immersive experience for a visitor who is using a larger screen size. Just because your site works on a standard screen, tablets, and mobile, doesn’t mean you’re taking advantage of responsive web design. 


7.) Your Competitors Are Investing. 

When looking for a new business to work with, be it needing a new water heater, insurance, or purchasing a home, a quick Google search is my first stop to get a good overall impression of the company. Even if your company is in the top three search results for your category, a poor online experience can easily translate into a missed or negative experience with your company. It may even cause a client who was recommended to your company to go with your competitor whose website was optimized for a mobile experience.


8.) You Want To Reduce Maintenance Costs. 

If your website is aging, you might be feeling the effects of technology developing at a rapid pace. A Flash banner that you may have been excited about when you first constructed the site won’t work on mobile or tablets, and that’s as much as 60% of all internet access. While your skilled development team can certainly keep your website running, it will likely have the stability of a patched tire - it will hold air for a while, but soon you’ll have to refill it and patch it again. All of those patches add up in cost and you may reach a place where it can’t be mended anymore. The development of a responsive site allows you to build a site better equipped to handle the ever changing world of technology and cuts down the cost of site maintenance.


If you think that you’re ready to invest in responsive design, give us a call. We’re happy to help figure out the best solution for you, whether it’s converting your current design or building a new online experience.

Top 8 Search Engine Optimization Myths

POSTED BY Emma Sadonick-Carriere


Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a well known, yet often misunderstood topic.  As someone who works on SEO for multiple clients daily, I have come across various myths and misconceptions of what it is and how it works.  Before you can really understand SEO, you need to understand search engines.  

The goal of a search engine is to provide users with the most relevant and accurate result related to their search.  Good SEO implementation accurately describes the information contained in your website.  Poor SEO misleads search engines, and users, into expecting one “thing” and getting another when they click on your result.

To set the SEO record straight, here are the top 8 most common SEO myths I have encountered in my time in the industry.

  1. “SEO only applies to websites”

    You may not realize that images, products, events, and even locations can be optimized to appear highly in search engine results pages.  Optimizing the different elements of your website makes it easier for search engines to locate and index the information searchers are looking for.  This gives you a two-fold advantage when trying to rank for certain terms: you make it easier for search engines to find what they’re looking for which makes them more likely to put you at the top of their list, and it and creates more opportunities for your business to appear as a result because more of your information is easily crawled and indexed.  
  2. “SEO Keywords are all that matter for rankings”

    Google rarely explicitly confirms or denies what factors are taken into account when ranking a website.  The most notable instance where Google has spoken up is the Keywords meta tag.  Early versions of search algorithms used the keywords meta tag as a ranking factor for search results.  Over time this method was phased out because webmasters would take advantage of this knowledge and include terms that did not accurately represent the content of their website.  In a post on the official Google Webmaster Blog from September 21st, 2009, Google stated that their search algorithm “disregards keyword metatags completely”. 
  3. “Search Engine Optimization is a fad”

    Since search engines have been around, SEO has been what some see as a necessary evil.  As long as businesses have websites and want them to be found by potential clients SEO should be a requirement of any successful online marketing plan.  Why design and build a website you love, if no one will find it?  Which leads me to the next myth.
  4. “Web design has no effect on the organic SEO of your website”

    User experience has always been important to the design of a website.  The issue here is often that the website was built for the site/business owner and not their end client.  Designing a website with clear navigation, specific calls to action, and an easy to use interface create an enjoyable user experience, and lowers bounce rate (the percentage of users who view only the landing page of your website and leave almost immediately).  Users who enjoy using your site are likely to spend more time there, and view more pages overall - both factors that we at Modern Earth Web Design have found increase website rankings in search results.  
  5. “Anyone can implement SEO on a website”

    Implementing SEO on a website requires many things.  An understanding of code and how a website works, a strong attention to detail, and patience will benefit the person doing the actual implementation work.  There are so many small elements that make up the larger task that is implementing SEO on a website, an inexperienced person can easily miss several of these key elements.  

    Most importantly an understanding of SEO, and the desire to implement SEO properly will benefit the website owner and end user.  Marketers with an interest in providing a good service to their client know the frustration that comes from a poorly optimized website.  With all the information that is available online about SEO, and both the financial and time investment made in the design and build of a website, the reasons to leave your website un-optimized website are few and far between.
  6. “There’s no wrong way to optimize a website”
    SEO falls under two categories: White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO.  The later, as you may have guessed, is the wrong way to optimize a website.  Similar to a crash diet with fast results, the Black Hat method is not sustainable.  It may provide a quick boost in rankings, but after this brief period Search Engines catch on to the sneaky tactics and just as quickly penalize the website - often removing it from search results entirely.  Black Hat optimization methods like hidden text and keyword stuffing also negatively affect the user experience on a site.  Spammy looking content is a big red flag for users and will cause them to quickly bounce from your website. 
  7. “A good SEO provider will guarantee results”

    The exact elements of the Google Search Algorithm and most other search algorithms are unknown.  As such, any reputable SEO provider will never guarantee specific results.  Algorithms constantly change, and search result rankings fluctuate from week to week, day to day, and even user to user.  
  8. “Organic SEO is a “set it and forget it” thing”

    Search Engine Optimization is like a living, breathing thing.  Ranking factors and algorithms can change, as do search trends and user behavior.  Depending on your business, the search terms that are important to you will change from year to year, or season to season.  As a benchmark, we at Modern Earth Web Design recommend reviewing your SEO strategy every 6 to 12 months.   

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding organic SEO and all the moving parts that make it work.  I hope this post has given you some insight into the value that an investment in SEO implementation on your website can bring.  If you’ve already invested in SEO but aren’t seeing the results you would like, contact us today for a free SEO implementation review of your website and to discuss how Modern Earth Web Design can help improve your rankings.

Which Browser Should You Choose?

POSTED BY Vitalii Skorokhod


A lot of Windows users prefer to use Internet Explorer (also known as IE) as their default browser.

This may work for some, but I think IE is far from perfect to be used as a default browser when there are other options available.

IE is Complicated to Update

The most current version of Internet Explorer will only run on the most recent version of Windows, Windows 10. IE 12 (also known as Edge) can be installed only on Windows 10. This creates a problem for Windows users who are still operating on Windows 8 or lower.  They are unable to take advantage of the latest features of the internet browser.

IE is Updated Infrequently

  • IE8 - was released in 2008 and is the default browser in Windows 7
  • IE9 - was released in 2011
  • IE10 - was released in 2012 and is the default browser in Windows 8
  • IE11 - was released in 2013
  • IE12 or Edge - was released in 2015 and is the default browser in Windows 10

IE is updated every couple of years [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Explorer_versions ]; these updates are too far apart to keep up with for a fast-paced environment like the web.

Old IE Versions are Less Secure

Viruses often  appear on user’s computers because of out-of-date browsers.  As browser versions are updated many security holes are found and corrected.

The more recent your browser version, the fewer potential security holes it has.

What Other Options Are There?

There are several alternatives to IE:

I personally recommend using Google Chrome as your primary browser.

The Top 8 Reasons to Use Google Chrome

  • Fast; Google cares about the performance of their browser a lot and all deprecated or legacy code and features will be removed in the latest versions. Any unpopular features are moved to extensions in order to keep Chrome running even faster.
  • Secure; Chrome will warn you if a website you are about to view can harm your computer
  • Simple and easy to use; Chrome has clean and intuitive User Interface (UI)
  • Open Source; this means that everybody can see what is going on inside of the browser and anybody can report issues in it, or contribute new features
  • Frequent silent auto-updates; Google releases a new version of Chrome every month. This means that Chrome is always up-to-date, secure and uses the latest features of the web
  • Configurable; Chrome offers hundreds of extensions and themes to customize your user experience (UX)
  • Smart Omnibox; you can search from the browser's Omnibox or address bar because the Google Search Engine is integrated in the browser
  • Easy sync; Chrome offers a secure synchronization feature through your Google Account. When you log into Chrome on a different computer or device all your settings and bookmarks will be available to you. 

Installing the browser only takes a few minutes. 

But the right browser gives you long-term benefits in your usage of the web.