Getting Started with Responsive Design 

By Steve Hoag

fast track responsive web design

Responsive Design is the one of the latest trends in website development/design. More consumers are accessing the web from a variety of devices. These range from traditional devices like computers to tablets to smartphones. In order to maximize your website’s effectiveness, it needs to be able to be properly displayed on all devices. Responsive Design is commonly defined as building a website for a number of devices that adapts to each ones display /functional requirements. Ideally, you want your content to adapt to fit the user’s screen and display regardless of what device they are using.

There are a number of approaches that are critical to successfully implementing Responsive Design:

Mobile First Design – This focuses on starting with the smallest devices like smartphones, and designing your website around this. This can mean anything from removing content that won’t display on phones, to eliminating excess elements from your page that can make it difficult to display.

Media Queries – These can be added to a website’s style sheets/CSS. They are used to alter the way in which content appears in different devices using rules.

Fluid Grids – Unlike fixed grids, which stay the same width for every screen, these are defined using percentages. This allows them to change size, but remain in the same proportion to each other.

Some tools currently available for use are BootStrap which was developed by Twitter, Unsematic which helps with fluid grid design, and ResponsivePX which can be used to evaluate the current responsiveness of your site. Adobe also has released Edge Reflow which offers a variety of design tools. Please click on the ‘tools’ link to find a more extensive list of options out there. Now that you know the basics, time to get started on making your website responsive with the help of some tutorials!

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Friday, July 26, 2013 6:18:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB web design web development website

Website Designer or Developer? The Catch 22 of B2B, or is it? 

By Steve Hoag

web designer, web developer

Ah yes, web designers and developers, the Michelangelos and Henry Fords of the Internet. Who do you need for your online business to succeed? This is perhaps one of the more perplexing, yet simple questions to answer. Before we work through this problem, let’s create a brief profile of both types of Internet professionals:

Web Designers:

These right brained individuals are oftentimes the creative, Apple-cult, organic coffee drinking artists of the internet industry. Yes, that is a generalization, but just roll with it for now. Their primary focus is on the visual and graphical representation of a website. They want to create a seamless experience for visitors by combining eye-catching design with usability. Most, if not all, have some knowledge in coding, but their core competency resides in design.

Web Developers:

On the flip side of the yin & yang spectrum are the left brained web developers. These guys focus on the nitty gritty work that goes on behind the curtains of the beautiful design that designers create. Designers are Xzibit on Pimp My Ride, while developers are your friendly neighborhood mechanics that make sure that your car does what it’s supposed to do – work.

So who do I need? A web designer or developer?

Put simply, it depends on the functional and visual requirements of the project you have in mind. Like I said before, almost all designers have programming knowledge, so they can handle a lot of tasks that are functionally simple, yet graphically/visually intensive. Do you need a simple 3-5 page site created? Hire a designer. How about a simple blog? Hire a designer.

However, it gets trickier the more complex of a solution you need. For instance, if you are looking for a custom e-commerce solution, you will want both a developer and designer depending on how visually attractive you need it to be. How about a new, shiny custom website? You will need both Xzibit and your friendly car mechanic – AKA a designer and developer.

Successfully building your online presence depends on sound design and programming. It is difficult to succeed with one, but not the other. Sure, your dependable ’90 Civic may still run well, but wouldn’t you rather have a Ferrari? Likewise, having a Ferrari with a defective engine really doesn’t do you much good either. That is, unless you are Fred Flintstone and can power it with your feet. The most important step in this process is clearly establishing its requirements at the beginning. Once that is done, the hiring decision is easy.

 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, June 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB web design web development website

If You Build It, They Will Come: Why A Strong Website Foundation Is Crucial 

By Steve Hoag

 

web foundationBuilding a great website can be a crowning achievement for many businesses. A lot of money and time are invested into these platforms, so much so that it is imperative the website turns out well. Companies with a strong foundation are like the kids in college who took the time to get internships and got a great job right after graduation. They set themselves up for future success. You reap what you sow, and that is especially true when it comes to online business. Here are some reasons why you want to be one of those college kids:

  1. Putting in the time and money now is better than having to do it repeatedly later.

If you’ve ever taken finance classes you know the basic principle that money now is worth more than money later. When it comes to websites, it’s the exact opposite. Yes, I know I am   completely disagreeing with some core ideas of finance, but those finance guys never had to go through multiple redesigns. And trust me; it can be a real headache. Making sure all your i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed early on can save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Custom websites aren’t cheap, and neither are multiple redesigns.

  1.  You only have one shot with some consumers. Get it right!

Eminem once said: ‘If you had one shot, one opportunity…would you capture it?’ I like to think he wrote that just for this article and not a biopic. It definitely applies to online business. Some consumers will only take one brief look at your site and completely write you off. No three strikes and you’re out. You need to have a strong foundation so that you can effectively capture these leads from the get-go. Any lost leads means lost $$$.

  1. Rebranding and redesigns can lead to lost sales opportunities.

As said earlier, redesigns cost more than money, they cost time. This means you have to allocate business resources to the redesign, which can detract from sales efforts. The opportunity cost on redesigns can be quite large when you take everything into account. Make sure your foundation is strong so you don’t have to make these unnecessary sacrifices later on!

  1. Websites are the new brick and mortar store.

Back in old timey days, people didn’t have the Internet. They had to physically move to buy something they wanted. Now you can do pretty much all shopping from the comfort of your La-Z Boy. Old timey people judged stores by their appearance and by holding their wares. Nowadays people judge companies by their websites and snarky customer reviews/social media comments. This means that your website needs to be in tip top shape, ideally from day 1. It has to effectively reflect your brand, and persuade viewers that what you have to sell is worthy of their Benjamins.

  1. Climbing search rankings depends on sound website design and development.

SEO is like trying to lose weight. It’s a constant uphill battle, and you can undo significant progress with a few late night pizzas. That’s why it is important to have a strong foundation that you can easily build off of. Good search rankings don’t happen overnight. You need to do the little things like having suitable tags, use of keywords, intuitive nav structure, and linking through social media/blogs etc. It’s better to have your growing pains early on, rather than trying to adjust further down the road. Make life easy for search engines, so they can bring customers to you.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Friday, May 31, 2013 5:35:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB web design web development website
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