What’s new in “New Media” in 2012?

Blog

On Friday I spoke on a panel about Media, to the current class of Leadership Butler County. My topic was “New Media,” though when you think about it, the Web has been around for a couple of decades so it’s not so very new any more.

Here’s the presentation I gave:

Client site launch: Allegheny Chesapeake Physical Therapy

Blog
Screenshot of Allegheny Chesapeake Physical Therapy website

For Allegheny Chesapeake Physical Therapy, we wanted to create a site that could expand with their practice — no small challenge, given their 12 locations, wide range of services, and variety of client tools and content.

We created their redesigned site using the Joomla open source content management system. Their web team can update all content on the site, and add news items and events. Staff have access to an employees-only area for in-house information and tools.

The new design reflects the open, friendly style of ACPT — and at the same time, it’s flexible enough to accomodate new text, photo, and video content easily.

Four steps for turning website visitors into customers

Blog

Have a lot of visitors to your website? Great!

Do you know how many of those site visitors go on to buy your products or services? No? That’s not great.

Of course the number of people visiting your site is important, but the number of people taking action based on what they find on your site probably is more closely tied to your success.

How can you improve your site’s conversion rate? I suggest a four-step process:

  1. Set goals. Clarify what you want to accomplish with your site. Are you selling online, generating leads for sales people, responding to customer issues, or something else? Your goals determine what you should measure.
  2. Measure and analyze. Track visitors, pages visited, links clicked, referring sites, and other information that tell the who/when/what/why of your site visitors. We use and recommend Google Analytics, which is free and chock-full of useful statistics and analysis tools. It’s also tied in with other Google services like AdWords, so you can see the effects of ad campaigns you run.
  3. Make changes and test alternatives. If you discover that the site is doing what you want it to and meeting your goals, you can leave it as it is. But if your bounce rate is high (meaning people arrive on the site and immediately leave without looking at additional pages) or if visitors are responding to your calls to action, you’ll want to revise the site. You may want also to try a few different versions of your content — various product photos, for example, or different headlines and text — to see which combination people respond to. Google Optimizer lets you see which content creates the most response, so you can maximize your website’s effectiveness.
  4. Repeat. Once you’ve gone through the process of improving your site, you’re not done. As your business or organization changes, your goals for the website must also change. And the world in which you operate changes constantly. Continually evaluating your goals, measuring results, and improving your site ensures that you stay on track.

You can start measuring and improving your site right away, and continue to fine-tune and improve over time. All the Google tools I’ve mentioned are free and are supplemented with tutorials to show you how to use them.

Or, if you’re not sure how to start, or if you would rather someone work with you on this so you can focus on running your business, we’d love to work with you and set you on the right path. Give us a call.

Client site launch: Duffy’s Pet Care

Blog
Home page of the Duffy's Pet Care website

Mary Ann Brookes has managed her pet grooming and boarding business, Duffy’s Pet Care, for many years. But she looks continually for ways to expand the business and provide better service for her clients.

When she came to us with ideas for a website, we wanted to make sure the site highlighted her expertise. We built in a pet care knowledgebase, which she’ll add to each month.

She can also use the News feature to spotlight new products and services, as well as season-focused ideas.

The home page puts the clients in the center literally, with a spotlight photo of a client.

Mary Ann and her husband, Dave, are fun and friendly people with a whimsical sensibility. To reflect that, we commissioned our multi-talented friend Rachel Arnold Sager to create animated animals for the home page. The illustration style and charming animation add just the right touch.

The ultimate guide to bad web design

Blog

Funny and painfully true: twenty-eight tips for “How to Make the Worst Website

Creating a terrible website seems to be a common goal on the
internet. I’ve seen it accomplished many times, so I thought I’d make
it easier for everyone and post the ultimate guide.

From the time a visitor enters your site to the time they exit,
there are plenty of effective techniques to annoy them. So in this
article, I will identify 28 points to remember during a website
development and how to execute them properly. Feel free to bookmark
this and use it as a reference when you’re in the mood to frustrate
visitors.

I can add a few tips:

29. Don’t provide any way for site visitors to contact you. Why should you bog yourself down with what they think?

30. List every page in the main menu. Long menus are exciting and give the site visitor many options — probably too many options to choose from. Give them the challenge of searching through everything you could think of! It’s like a word search puzzle on-screen.

(Link thanks to Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals.)

Refresh Pittsburgh meeting

Events

The next meeting of Refresh Pittsburgh will at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, April 1 at the Creative Treehouse in Bellevue.

Refresh Pittsburgh is a community of designers and developers working to refresh the creative, technical, and professional culture of Internet developers in the Pittsburgh area.

To start the evening, Pat Collins will present “CakePHP: Rapid application development with PHP”.

Why learn a new programming language when you can use your existing PHP skills to become a better coder and increase your productivity? Let Pat show you how to build a blog application in no time, and how you can help!

Then, Val Head will be presenting “A, B, C, D-esign!”

Val’s presentation will be a discussion of the basic building blocks of design as they apply to designing fo the web. She’ll show examples of concepts like colour, typography and hierarchy and talk about how these fit in to a web page design.

As usual, if you would like to show off a recent project or pose a few questions to our group, please let us know and we’ll fit you in.

We’ll make sure to provide a good supply of coffee and cookies and other sweets to get you through the night.

Please RSVP to let us know if you will be joining us. We need to make sure we have enough seats and most importantly, coffee and cookies! And by all means, please forward this invitation to anyone you like.

Refresh Pittsburgh meeting

Events

The next meeting of Refresh Pittsburgh will at 7:00 pm on Tuesday, February 26 at the Creative Treehouse in Bellevue.

Refresh Pittsburgh is a community of designers and developers working to refresh the creative, technical, and professional culture of Internet developers in the Pittsburgh area.

Cynthia Closkey (that’s me!) from Big Big Design will present “Google-Friendly Blogging in Five Easy Steps.” I’ll talk about basic search engine optimization for WordPress, and by extension, for other blog tools as well. I’ll talk about misconceptions about SEO, and I’ll give some simple steps one can take to improve one’s search ranking.

Next, Jeff Hunter, organizer of Devhouse Pittsburgh will present an introduction to Ruby: what it is, why you may want to consider using it for your next project.

Full details are at the Refresh Pittsburgh website. Visit there and RSVP so we have a headcount.