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Insights into the Online World

Jul252016

Considering a Website Redesign Check These 5 Things First - Modern Earth Web Design - Winnipeg Search Engine OptimizationWebsites are an important aspect of any business marketing strategy and should be updated regularly to maintain an active online presence.  Your website is often one of the first touch points your business has with a potential client, so ensuring it is up to date, and user-friendly is vital.  Another important aspect of your businesses website is its design.  A dated website is likely to drive traffic away, rather than drawing them in.  Here are five things you should consider if you think it might be time to redesign your website:

Most importantly, is your website mobile friendly?  Over half of all online search is done from a mobile device or smartphone, if a user has to scroll side to side, or even worse - zoom in - to read the content on your website they are more likely to leave your website and go back to their search. 

Secondly, how well optimized is your website?  Do you rank highly in search results for relevant terms, are pages optimized to be accessible to all users?  A strong SEO (search engine optimization) strategy for your website is an important factor to consider during a redesign.  It's much easier to optimize pages, images, and content during construction than it is to go back into the code afterward to try to "make things fit". 

Web design best practices have changed over time, and users have come to expect certain elements on each page of the website.  At the very least contact information and links to social profiles should be accessible on every page, and forms should be short and have a limited number of required fields.  Users want the information they want quickly and with as little effort as possible on their part.

Users process information in different ways; some prefer to scan a page, absorbing bullet points and important details and then moving on.  Other users prefer a much more visual way of getting information, and would prefer to scan over images or screenshots, infographics, or even watch a short video.  Older websites often include large blocks of text, broken up with the occasional picture.  Updating and offering your website content in a variety of formats makes it easier for users to learn about your business in a way that suits them.  

Making sure your website serves the needs of your audience is vital, but having a website that meets your needs as a business is equally important.  If you need to be able to share files securely online with clients, but your website doesn't offer that functionality it complicates your business process.  Custom web development as part of a redesign can enable your business, and your website, with the tools you need to help your clients quickly and efficiently.  

If you are considering redesigning your website, it can be helpful to look back at websites you find yourself using frequently.  What element of that website causes you to return to it regularly; can the same features apply on your website?  Another great way to get started is to make a list of the things you like about your current website, and what major pain points you have with it.  If the cons outweigh the pros, it would be worthwhile to move forward with a redesign of your website.  

Before my first day at Modern Earth Web Design, I had many different emotions about my upcoming internship experience. The overwhelming one, however, was I was nervous.  Maybe I didn’t know as much as I thought, and would find myself overwhelmed and fumbling through the next eight weeks, or possibly I wouldn’t feel welcome, or fit in with my fellow workers.  And most of all, nervous I would not perform to my abilities and would leave feeling like I had let myself, and Modern Earth Web Design down with what I did with my time during the duration of my internship.  All these emotions were mixing with excitement, which I believe anyone, starting a new job or setting out on a new endeavor in life, would feel.



The start of my journey with Modern Earth Web Design

My first day at Modern Earth Web Design was not what I expected.  I expected a lot of interaction and learning from another worker to take place, and to pretty much watch and learn as much as I could on the first day, and this wasn’t the case.  Due to unforeseen car issues that Michel, the senior software developer, ran into in the morning, and I was pretty much left on my own all day with the task of reading, and learning, all I could about Accelo.  APIs were something I had never learned about in school, so it instantly left me feeling overwhelmed and lost.  A feeling I had for most of the first day and quite often in the weeks to follow.  After eight plus hours of reading, I finished my first day without having typed a single line of code.  I did, however, have a feeling of understanding of what I was going to be doing.  By the second day, the coding began, I got to put my knowledge from the day earlier, and from all my schooling to the test.  My coding consisted mainly of making API callbacks to Accelo.  I used PHP as the framework to my code and eventually Javascript to make it user-responsive.  Having never used PHP and Javascript together, I found this experience very rewarding and beneficial to what I learned. 

My Modern Earth Web Design experience

I quickly learned that most of what I knew, I had forgotten.  I was forced to go back and relearn what I already knew time and time again.  I looked at these moments with both frustrations with myself for having forgotten something that was “so simple”, but also I took these lessons to heart as I used them to both grow in my abilities and to add new knowledge.  I must say it was such a positive feeling looking back after a few weeks with Modern Earth Web Design and seeing how much my work had improved, and how much my knowledge base had grown.  I was hoping, and expecting, my internship at Modern Earth Web Design would push me to learn new things and to broaden my programming abilities.  I was not disappointed whatsoever; my experience far surpassed what I was expecting and for that, I am truly thankful.  I also can’t say enough about my co-workers, or Earthlings as they are known.  They were accommodating and some of the friendliest and most welcoming people that I have gotten the privilege of working with to this day.  They put me in constant situations that challenged me, and I think that that allowed me to learn, in my few short weeks with them, more than I had learned in all my schooling up until that point.  For the duration of my internship, I can honestly say that I felt like I was a part of the Earthlings and that it was the most trying, stressful, and enjoyable times of my programming experience to this day.

 

This Modern Earth guest post was authored by Steve Larson, who came to us from Robertson College for an internship position. Steve can be seen chatting about sports drafts and has a great sense of humour!  We have enjoyed working with him, and hope nothing but the best for him in the future!

Tags Internship 

Modern Earth Web Design - Online Marketing WinnipegSo you wanna be an SEO rock superstar and live large? 

There’s no denying that having an understanding of the way Search Engine Optimization works will give you an advantage when it comes to your website.  If you’re a business owner who has a website, or an online marketing specialist who's looking to improve their skills - there’s always room for improvement in the SEO world.  The tough part is having to sort through the endless resources at your disposal - 84,600,000 for example just on Google if you search ‘SEO help’ - wow!  Which do you read?  Which don’t you read?  One site is saying meta keywords are important and the other is saying the opposite! 

Have no fear! I’ve gathered a short list of resources that I feel will be perfect for starting your journey towards better SEO practices.

Understanding Google

While there are various other Search Engines out there, approximately 90% of search traffic is through Google.  What better way to start improving your grasp of SEO than to go directly to the source and gain a good understanding of How the Google search engine works.  This will serve to enhance your overall comprehension of the powerful Oz that is Google.

 

Strategy over Tactics

So you have a website and you’ve taken steps to optimize it. You’ve made sure that your headlines have H1 tags, images have their alt tags, and your keywords have been implemented nicely.  These are all tactics you have at your disposal, but what happens when you’ve run out and your ranking still doesn’t improve?  Is there nothing left for you to do?  As I mentioned earlier - SEO is NEVER over.  This is why having a strategy - a systematic approach to optimization - is the best way to go.  Watch this video if you’re wondering How to Create an SEO Strategy.

 

Link Building

Links are becoming more and more important and are having more of an affect on rankings, which can be positive or negative.  You can attract unwanted attention from Google if you use manipulative linking practices (ex. paid links), which will undoubtedly lead to penalization.  But, when links are used properly and efficiently they can have a tremendously positive effect.  This is an informative and in-depth article on Creative Best Link Building Techniques.

 

Blogging Resources

There is a plethora of free blogs out there that can have some extremely insightful information into all sorts of SEO and Online marketing.  These are often very useful as they have more of a lighter tone and a direct way to convey information over, say reading through 20 pages of “SEO for Dummies,” or something.  Some examples include Quicksprout, Wordtracker, or my personal favourite Moz - which also includes a weekly Whiteboard Friday segment done in a video format.

 

Don’t get duped!

While there are a lot of places you can find useful information, there is also the very opposite.  Since the wonderful world of the interwebs is a rapidly changing and evolving one, it only follows that what may have been true at one time may not be true now.  It’s important to recognize what is and isn’t valid.  This is a good blog to read up on some SEO myths.

Copyright Do’s and Don’ts

POSTED BY Michel Stryker

Jul072016

DISCLAIMER:

The thoughts and suggestions in this article are not to be used as grounds for legal purposes.  They are designed to give a starting point on what should be posted online.  Copyright laws may change at the time of this writing, so please do additional research on this topic if you are concerned about copyright.

 

You have just started your website, but you are finding that you are low on content, both photos and writing.  What can you do increase this to make a better web presence?  Can you find a similar website and copy their text directly and place it on your own?  The following recommendations will help you get started and avoid copyright issues.

 

DO:

Create original content of your own.  You can achieve this by using tools for photos like Adobe Photoshop, MSPaint, or taking pictures with your digital camera, or for writing such as Notepad and MSWord.  Just keep in mind that taking a picture of a copyrighted item can also be counted towards copyright.

 

DO NOT:

Find an image online and claim it as your own.  When surfing through Google, it may be tempting to find a picture that would be perfect for your website, download it, and then upload it to your site.  Depending on the context, you could be infringing on the original photo’s copyright owner.  People work hard on creating graphics and photos to suit a need, and putting on your website without permission can lead to problems.  Taking an image that has a watermark on it and editing out said watermark is also something you should avoid.

 

DO:

Receive permission from the copyright owner.  If the photo you find is too good to resist, try to contact the original copyright owner and see if you can come up with some arrangement.  A good idea would be to put credit on your website of the author of the content.

 

DO NOT:

Purposely put up an image that you know for a fact is copyrighted without getting permission.  Doing so will increase the fine that you will have to pay because of the copyright violation.

 

DO:

Purchase content from companies.  There are plenty of services out there that offer royalty free content that you can use without permission, but you can also find high-quality content for a price.  Some examples are Pond5, iStock, ShutterStock, and UnSplash

 

DO:

Use content that follows the “Fair Use” guide.  Depending on the context of your web page, be it a product review or educational purposes, you may be able to use the photo to demonstrate a point.  When in doubt, it would be best to find an alternative solution.

 

DO NOT:

Hotlink.  Once you have permission or have decided to use an image for your website, make sure to copy it onto your own site.  Otherwise, owners of the photo could change the image but keep the same name, and you end up with their new photo instead of the photo you were expecting.  Also, if their website goes down,  your site will end up with a broken image.

 

There are a lot of rules and regulations when it comes to copyright, so it is best to be certain on content before you place it on your website.  You can always speak with a copyright lawyer for peace of mind.  What are your best practices to avoid copyright infringement?  Let us know in the comments below!

Jun152016

Have you ever tried to load a website and gotten a big jumble of text instead of the interface you were expecting? That’s actually what a site looks like without a cascading stylesheet or CSS applied to it. Style sheets are fantastic collections of rules which give a developer complete control over the functionality and look of a website. They enable you to edit the design of a page without actually editing the static code. This ability is important because you can now change items like the colour, size, and how an element displays throughout an entire website by changing just one file.

How Does A CSS Rule Work?

As I talked about before, a cascading style sheet is a collection of rules that allows you to define changes throughout every page to which it is implemented. A CSS rule contains three main elements:

CSS Structure - Modern Earth Web Design - Online Marketing Winnipeg

 

  1. Selector:  the HTML tag(s) that the rules will be applied to  (e.g., body)
  2. Property: the particular attribute you want to change (e.g., background-color) 
  3. Value: the desired change for your property (e.g., red which is written as  #FF0000)

 

Applying A Stylesheet

CSS works in partnership with HTML so you need to apply your style sheet to your page by referencing it in a link in the head section of your document. Make sure you have some content in your 

Writing CSS Rules

Once you have applied your stylesheet, you can start creating rules for your website, the example above being colouring the body of the page background red. You can write your rule by selecting the body, specifying the property of background-colour and declaring the value of red for your page background. 

CSS Rule - Modern Earth Web Design - Web Design Winnipeg

W3C CSS Demo - Modern Earth Web Design - Search Engine Optimization WinnipegWhen you apply multiple CSS rules to your stylesheet, you can make significant changes to your website with minimal effort. This demo by w3schools.com shows the beginning of how you can easily control and adjust your website by changing just one file.