Author Archives: Alyx Bunday

Creating An Award-Winning Website

When creating a website, web design has five key tenets: content, appearance, usability, standards compliance and feature functionality. An award-winning site must be easy to navigate through, no bugs, visually-stunning, seamless to use, and must be filled with information that is worth consuming. Follow the 4 secrets below if you want to have an award-winning website:

  • Using White Space To Your Advantage: When your audiences view your site, the website should be user-friendly and sophisticated. Utilizing white space throughout your site can highlight key elements and make the content pop. Having a simply-designed website that has plenty of white space will make your audience want to stay and explore.
  • User-Friendly Homepage & Navigation:  Make sure your products/services are accessible on the homepage and ensure the navigation bar is intuitive and conspicuous to use on both mobile and desktop platforms. The 3-second rule is one way to test your website and to see if it’s top notch! Make sure all text is clear and easy to understand. Only show a few quality graphics on each page and content that will catch your readers’ attention.
  • Having Customer Reviews / Offers & Promotions: When having an e-commerce site it’s wise to have a few positive reviews your customers have left for you. You could also have a few specials going on, and have coupons/ promotions posted to your site. This gives your readers that extra incentive to take things to the next step in wanting to purchase a product from you.
  • Responsive Design: Having a responsive design allows you to have content to be viewed on any screen; this includes both desktops and mobile devices.

If you have questions on how you can have an award winning website, give Windy City Strategies a call!

Trends In Web Design We LOVE!

It’s important to make your website perfect when it comes to your business identity. The first clause of the having the perfect website would be to make sure it’s the perfect design that you want. This website is going to represent your business’s visual outlook, and having an eye soothing design that’s responsive is a must! The web world is changing everyday, and having a new trend is always a good thing to follow so your business is able to survive!

  1. One Page Website
    It’s been proven that one page long scrolling web site format is staying for a few more years. Users are so accustomed to vertical scrolling that it’s easy for the users to look at all the content in your site.
  2. Hidden Menu
    Embracing design for smaller screens has also affected how menus are displayed – and with space being at a premium, fly out, slide out and hidden menus are becoming more popular across the board. It’s all about bringing an app-like feel to an entire site.
  3. Flat Design Layout
    One design layout that most designers love the most is called Flat Design. This design is using objects that are flat in color and appearance. With mobile devices and responsive design, it’s hard to create textures that will work well across multiple devices. Flat design gives the feel of layers and depth but also flat colors, and again having that minimalist design.
  4. Parallax
    Parallax design and coding trend has been very popular! The definition of Parallax means two or more parallel objects that are moving at different speeds. Now with parallax scrolling technique it is used to break up the linear monotony of a website, which is by having various objects scrolling at different paces.
  5. Simplicity
    You want to make your site as simple as possible for your users. Take away unnecessary concepts and pages. Don’t overwhelm your viewers by giving them multiple choices. Focus more on the design then the content. Also it might be good for you to start using large visual headings so it attracts the readers’ eye more.

For more information about what trends are new this year for website designs, contact Windy City Strategies! You want to be able to give your users what they want; keeping things simple and easy to follow is key!

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Small Business Owners Make Mistakes On Their Website Too

It’s important for small business to start investing in a high quality yet professional website design that will catch there users attentions!

When catching the attention of your targeted audience, holding it long enough is the way to go! Do you know how to hold their attention? It’s simple, by ensuring that your website speaks to your targeted market and resonates with them. It’s important to avoid making mistakes on your website, following these helpful tips below to get started!

  1. When you don’t fully understand how your website is contributing to your strategy and your bottom line.
  2. Thinking that Web Development & Web Design has to be rocket science, when it’s not. Leave it to the professionals to fix the issues you are having with your site! Don’t do it yourself, so you don’t cause any more issues.
  3. Don’t use a private proprietary platform that you created yourself, do it in WordPress. That way if you’re going to a professional Web Design Company, they can have FULL access of your platform.
  4. The number one thing you should NOT do is wait for your design to come before you start writing your content. You want to be writing your content while your website is being worked on. So once your site is ready for the content, you can either gives that content to your web designers, or you can add it in yourself. Don’t wait until the last minute, or else you can risk the chance at pushing back your site being launched.
  5. Don’t pay for services and features that you are really not going to need or use. It’s a waste of money and an investment. Spend wisely on tools like that!
  6. Your main goal is to focus on the traffic that comes to your site, not the conversions.
  7. You must develop a plan to promote your website, BEFORE it’s even done, so when it is time you are ready to go!

For more information about what small business owners should NOT do when working with their website, contact Windy City Strategies for more details.

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Which Trend Is Better For Your Website, Responsive or Adaptive?

There has been an on going battle between having a responsive and adaptive web design. Trying to figure out which design will work best for you! This isn’t just an opinion, this requires the understanding of what makes these two types of styles different and then figuring out the pros and cons on why the mobile traffic is so important.

Having A Responsive Design 

The goal to having an responsive web design is to make sure your website is fully functional at any display size. This does require a fair amount of coding, and understanding the different sizes while having a clear image of how the scaling process will work. This is why you should leave it in the hands of a professional designer. 

Responsive design creates fluid layouts that can automatically scale in size to make all elements fit in any type of resolution. This may cause some of the photos that were originally floating to the left of the text to drop the space in between the two paragraphs, scales up the text while it’s scaling down the side of the column in which it’s being placed.

With having a responsive design, it’s the number one most standard favorite with all designers and the majority of businesses. Not just because it often takes less technical work than having an adaptive layout but it makes the website fully compatible with any resolution. With all the new smartphone and other mobile devices that come out every year the resolution only gets higher! Responsive design assures you that you do not have to update your site every time a new iPhone comes out. Having an Adaptive layout is a different story.

Having A Adaptive Design

Some entrepreneurs that have a decent amount of experience with web design may not fully be familiar with the terms and concepts of an adaptive web design, but it does have its share of benefits.

Adaptive layouts are designed for specific resolutions and display sizes depending on the browsing window you are looking at. With an adaptive layout it checks what the resolution of your browsing screen is and loads the code for that webpage in a different way in order to display properly for that resolution. It sounds like a lot of extra work right? Actually adaptive design offers a level of fine-tuning and control that responsive layouts can’t do. Also by having full control over the design at multiple resolutions you are able to ensure that your website is always going to display exactly how you want it too look.

A responsive layout generally performs better than adaptive. The experts do admit that in case of some complex web applications and fields that need to be fine-turned, adaptive is the better choice then responsive. When you are able to fine-tune and customize your site layout at any resolution you can be completely sure that your embedded app or complicated order form displays perfect for both mobile and desktop.

Why Mobile Does Matter

When it all comes down to choosing responsive or adaptive for your business, it really doesn’t matter, just as long as your website has a mobile friendly page. With roughly 3 out of 5 visitors who access your site through any mobile device, your company can’t afford to miss out on the mobile traffic any longer!

For more information on which type of layout you want to go with contact Windy City Strategies for more details!

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Hiring A PPC Expert For Your Business

In the daily marketing world SEO and PPC are always in a constant competition with each other. Google changes out there algorithms, and companies start to find they competing against moving goal posts.

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): These guys can be a slow process and businesses in competitive industries may not be able to hold the number one rankings like we all desire. This is why we spend more money on PPC advertising.
  • PPC (Pay Per Click): With PPC advertising it does have a lot of potential that can deliver targeted traffic flows.

Now if you are planning to open up your own Google AdWords account, do not do that! There is a reason why PPC professionals are charging a fee for management. If your fairly new to PPC, you could be unaware that it will cost you less to hire an expert then doing it yourself.

These are the reasons why you should hire a professional PPC Management Expert.

Keyword Research: This task isn’t easy; this research is very crucial to your success. It’s something PPC experts spend a lot of their time on initially. Choosing the WRONG keywords can quickly exhaust your budget and with your campaign you could have poor returns.

There are some free keyword tools out there, like Google’s Keyword and its open for anyone to use but the better tools are the ones you have to pay for now. Paying for a keyword tool would give you a competitive advantage but it’s going to cost you. These paid tools can cost upward of $100 monthly in addition to other expenses. Now for an expert in Pay Per Click they don’t just use one of these tools, they use multiple data points to form a more complete sales landscape for you.

Low Conversion With Wrong Ad Copy: One of the many strengths of a PPC expert is they have the ability to perform a competitive research. They understand how to find a good copy and they study your competition, which helps them form ads based upon what they know will work. Having that kind of copy isn’t something anyone can do overnight, because every single word that is used, means something.

Tracking: Having a good PPC program they can track your sales and also figure out where those sales are coming from. Good analysis can show you which placements and what keywords are likely to bring you these conversions. Also if you are tagging your campaigns it can allow you to see which tags are most effective. This involves a tracking code that is installed for you. This does require some basic HTML knowledge, so if you don’t have those sorts of knowledge leave it up to your web developer.

Understand PPC Terminology: We should all know what PPC stands for, but now do you know what CPM, CPC or CPA means? How about the difference between impressions, views, hits and what retargeting is? Understanding these terms is really important in our day-to-day management of campaigns.

Staying Up To Date: Every online marketer out there has to stay up to date with the latest trends. By either reading the online news articles, journals, or forums. They can also attend industry trade shows for several times annually or by attending networking events. If you are feeling you can’t handle doing that, hire an expert to do it for you! They will keep you up to date on everything, so you aren’t missing out.

Having The Time: Being a business owner, your already busy with hundreds of other tasks daily. Are you going to be able to manage time for your own PPC account and give it the attention?

Hiring an expert or an agency to handle things for you will be best. For more information about why you should hire someone to do your PPC contact Windy City Strategies.

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How To Improve Your Communication Skills With Your Clients

When you walk into TJ Maxx, what is the first thing you want to know? Do you care that T.J. Max was founded in 1976? What about how they are the largest off-price retailer of apparel and home fashions in the U.S.? Or how over 1700 of their stores receives about 10,000 items a week!

Some clients may not care to know the history behind these retail stores, or bakery’s. Your clients are just as busy as you are and they have goals for their businesses. They simply won’t care about details that aren’t important to them, even if you think they should be. 

Talking About Your Services: It’s very important as the designer to be specific about what you have to offer. Yes it is smart to reach out to a lot of potential customers, but in actuality this is one the thing that can really hinder your career progress.

If a potential customer asks about what design services you offer, do you tell them “a little bit of everything?” If that’s the case, stop doing that immediately. Do you really know every kind of design? Do you design teakettles, buses, air plains, or even baby carriages? No you do not, so you don’t need to tell your customers that. Don’t assume they already know what you are all about; they won’t unless you spell it out for them.

What they want is someone who is perfect for their specific needs. Be specific about what kind of value you are offering, and quality clients will be more interested in your services.

Out Of The Box: Many designers make broad assumptions in their marketing strategies. Many of them assume that their potential clients are looking for someone who is able to give them a website, logo, or a brand. That’s not the case here. What they are really looking for is a designer who can think for them and come up with solutions to problems they don’t even know they have. Who can take his/ her business to the next level.

Clients are eager to work with a designer who understands their need for prime market positioning. Take yourself out of the box of marketing, and don’t be generic. You want to be known as the unique designer, so make sure your clients and potential clients can see what you have to offer.

Remember to not make assumptions about what response you are going to get or what you think people want, need or should know. People who feel as though you understand them will be genuinely excited about working with you. They will also be eager to recommend you to other potential clients. For more information about how to improve your communication skills contact Windy City Strategies for more details.

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What Designers Need To Know, Before Moving Forward With Your Site

First tip to designing a website would be to communicate with your designer. We know more about what it is you want before we can start creating the site, but we aren’t mind readers.

  • Color Palette: Many clients seem to like the basic colors of blue, white, or green. Not every business has the luxury of accessing a branding specialist, so that’s why they normally chose those colors. Many new customers could possibly need a logo design, so typically when you create their logo, you can figure out what colors to use of their site.
  • Ideas From Other Websites: Our eyes are trained to see the same design all over the Internet, and when you come across different sites that you like, that’s when you need to write them down. For example. Many websites have a large image towards the top of the site or in the middle. It stretches across the screen so you can see the whole picture. They are also very responsive, clean design, and east to follow. Give your designer at least 5 to 6 different sites that you love, and sites that you don’t like. So they can determine what mockup to design and show you. You can even tell your designer that you liked a previous work from a client they had recently.
  • What’s Your Marketing Goal:  It’s important to know who your targeted audience is going to be. Your content, design, and pages are going to depend on who your audience is going to be. For example, teachers, doctors, photographers, graphic/web designers, or even catering for food. Once you figure out who your audience is, you can start to find out what your wanting in a website. If your business is working with professionals, you can choose a formal tone, and as for retailers can choose an informal design.
  • How People Will Find Your Site: Once your website is complete, your goal is to direct traffic towards your site. Let your designer know if you are want to advance and invest in social media integration. If you do not have traffic coming to your website, something is going wrong, and you don’t want to lose potential customers.

For more information about what designers need to know before designing your site, contact Windy City Web Strategies. They can talk with you more, and figure out what all needs to be done first, before moving forward with the design process.

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How Web Designers Price Out There Services

Putting a price on your time and experience is sometimes harder then most think. For design projects it comes down to the clients wanting to go with a fixed price, and designers are fighting for charging them on an hourly basis.

Designer’s work very hard to meet their clients wants, and when clients keep asking for many other changes, things do start to add up. Keep in mind these designers do have other projects to do also, and not just one.

Fixed Pricing: With fixed pricing, clients know exactly what they are going to get. Setting up clarification on what the client wants BEFORE you start their project is very important. Once you start to design what the client wants, and if there are any changes that need to be made, make sure you talk to your client first. Many designers will often show their clients two or three drafts of what they have done so far, and if they are required to show more than one, that’s when an additional cost will be added on.

Estimated Times: Most designers are optimistic about how much time it will require them to finish a project. They do not take into count of the potential technical issues that come along with the process, and the client having misunderstandings or ask to change something. This is why it’s a great idea to figure out a number of hours it’s going to take for you to complete the project, and then multiply that by your hourly rate.

The Project:  When you are choosing a pricing structure, make sure to take into account for the biggest headache. The project creep, which is were clients are thinking they can just add on new things or new ideas as they are going along with the process. This is understandable to an extent, because the clients have to observe the work in progress as they think of new ideas.

With Windy City Web Design & Windy City Strategies, they use Red Pen, so when they start to create a layout for a client(s) website, the client(s) can go in and write comments on what they like or what they want to change. Both parties can access this Red Pen so the designers, managers and clients can see what’s being done.

For more information about what Red Pen is or how the web designers price out there services, contact Windy City Strategies for more details.

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How To Surf The Web Effectively

Ever watch someone use the Internet in the most painful and slowest process? Do not worry, if you don’t want to end up like that, follow these tips to surf the web effectively. Covering some browser shortcuts to SEO that will make it easy to find anything on the Web. The average person spends about 5 hours in front of the tablet, phone or computer. We spend a bunch of time of the Internet so let’s start to learn some quick tricks that can make things easier for you!

How To Reopen The Last Tab That You Closed : If you are using a iOS system use the shortcut (Command+Shift+T) and if you are using a windows system use the shortcut (Control+Shift+T). This will work with chrome or Firefox. This is perfect for when you are comparing products on different websites and if you accidentally close out the tabs.

Opening Incognito Windows : The average person has at least 3 email accounts, and chances are that number has only gone up since 2011. Google a few years back made all their products available to one login username. Meaning you can use your Gmail, Drive, YouTube, and Hangouts with the same information. If you have your YouTube and Gmail on different email addresses, you can login by using a incognito window to be in both accounts at the same time. Use the shortcut (Command+Shift+N) this shortcut works for all web browsers.

Using Password Mangers : Use a password manager to help save you time from having to enter in your passwords all the time. Start by using LastPass and Mitro these are great ways to save time and that frustration on trying to remember what your password is. These password managers work as a plug in for Chrome and Firefox. All you need to do is simply sing in to a website life Gmail or Facebook, and the manager will ask you if you want to save that password for the future. Works across multiple computers so you can have the same access that is saved at work and even your home.

When Using A Chrome Browser : To help save bookmark clutter in Chrome, you can right click on bookmark, and select edit and delete the name field and just leave it blank, and hit save. This will leave what it known as a favicon, which the logo of what the site is. If you need more room on the bookmarks bar you can create folders.

Using Ad block To Filter Out The Ads : Who isn’t tired of seeing advertisements on your favorite sites? Download a plug in called Ad block and this can filter out those ads out of browsing experience.

Opening Pages In New Tab : Do you want a link to open in a new tab, without losing the page your already on? Hold down (command) for a mac and (control) on a windows and click on the link you want to open in a new tab. Makes things much more easier!

Highlighting Terms or Phrase That You Want To Look Up : If there is a term or phrase that you want to learn more about, right click and select search in Google, and the search will open up in a new tab that saves you many other clicks.

For more information on how to surf the web effectively and quickly contact Windy City Strategies.

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Quick Facts About CSS Layout

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, this is a language that defines how the HTML elements are going to be displayed. External style sheets are stored in the CSS layout and this also saves a lot work. When you start to add font colors to your layout, HTML is intended to define the content, CSS layout is the place you add all your font choices in certain sections of the layout, font colors, paddings, margins and etc.

CSS saves the web designers a lot of work, the style definitions are save in the external files, and with having that external file, and you can change the look of your site at any given time. When creating a website, you want your readers to be able to read right to left with no issues, to make it clear for the readers to follow.

When working in the CSS, the rule set consists of a declaration and selector. With the declaration block it contains one or more declarations that are separated by semicolons. Now with the selector it points to the HTML elements that you want to have in your style sheet. For example; the selector is h1 and the declaration is {color: pink; font-size: 14px;}

When creating the layout of declaration you can put each code on there own line so it’s more readable. For example;

P {

       Color: pink; 

       Text-align: left;

}

Now, when creating a CSS layout comments are used to explain your code and it may help you when you go back to edit the source code at a later time. The browsers ignore them, so that doesn’t show up when someone looks at your site from the front end. A CSS comment starts with a forward slash /* and then ends with a */. Example of adding a comment to the code would be;

P {

       Color: pink; 

         /* This is a single-line text comment*/

       Text-align: left;

}

Comments can also go on multiple lines and it doesn’t affect your code at all. When using comments they become very helpful, when you start to have issues with adding images or a graph you can make a note and come back to it later.

Creating a CSS is really easy once you get the hang of where things go and how to place it in the style sheet. Lynda.com and W3Schools are both very great places to look up tutorials on how you can create a great CSS layout, where it’s easy to read, easy to follow and your able to make comments.

For more information about CSS layout contact Windy City Strategies!