15 Essential Factors to Look Into Before Launching a Website 

Here are some of the factors you need to look into prior to launching your business website.

Launching a website for your business is a dream come true. After all the hard work, sweat, and tears that you've put into planning and executing your business, it's only a matter of time that a website is put in place.

With the help of a business website team, it is much easier now to achieve that dream of having a website to gain online presence and audience. Of course, it's more exciting to see the end product and show it to the world. But it's also essential to check the most important elements before letting your customers know. This is the most crucial part of having a website the first time - the inspection will help you see any flaws and have them fixed before making it live.

Here are some of the factors you need to look into prior to launching your business website:

(1) Website content

Depending on the business and audience you have, your content should be able to deliver the message clearly. However, each and every page of your website should be checked before the very first visitor lands on your site.

Ask your friend or colleague to do a second check and make sure it's thorough. While outsourced web development includes checking and corrections of content on your site, it's always best to do a second and third (and even a fourth) check to make sure it's 100% error-free and reader-friendly.

(2) Sitemap

The sitemap.xml file is found in the root directory. This allows search engines to find and properly categorize your website. Your small business website solution can help you find and submit your sitemap to all major search engines.

(3) Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions used to be among the relevant elements of SEO. Nevertheless, these are still very useful especially in providing short overviews of pages on a website. These are the wordings you see on the SERPs when you search for a specific topic and it's just below the bolded page title.

(4) Contact details

Your contact details should be the very first element to check on your website and you can add or update them moving forward. Include in your business' physical address, telephone number, email, Skype ID, and other possible contact info.

(5) Site speed

Online surfers are known to have very short attention spans. This is important to note because if you have a slow website, they will leave immediately.

Ensure that your website is up and loading fast. You can check your site's speed using tools such as Pingdom.

(6) Compatibility across various platforms

Check your website's compatibility across all possible platforms. You'll never know where your site visitors are coming from and what browsers or devices they're using. You can check your site's compatibility using Browsershot which automatically tests different platforms.

(7) Favicon

Favicon is one of the factors that some business owners forget. Remember that this is an element that makes your website memorable as it helps with branding. Tell your business website team to create a customized favicon for your site if you haven't already.

(8) Internal and external links

Check all of your links - both internal and external. It may take a while since this is done manually, but it's worth the effort if you do it now. You don't want those 'dummy' links that most web designers and/or developers forget to check after developing your site offline.

(9) 404 pages

404 pages are often overlooked, but they are quite important especially when a previously existing page becomes inaccessible in the future.

(10) Legal policies

Check the link/s to your legal policies such as terms of services and privacy. Make sure copyrights, company info, and use of cookies are included in the legal pages of your site.

(11) JavaScript independence

Check if your site still works when JavaScript is turned off. For security reasons, many website owners turn it off. However, if you use image sliders, they might not work if the JavaScript is turned off. Also, check for other features and elements on your site that might be directly affected by JavaScript.

(12) RSS feed

If you have a blog on your site, it's best to setup an RSS feed so your visitors can subscribe to your posts. You can place the RSS feed icon together with your social media icons.

(13) Social media sharing capability

Driving more traffic through social media is now the norm. So make sure you regularly have shareable content via social media. You can add Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and other social media buttons. Your small business website solution will be able to incorporate these into your website's HTML or CSS code.

(14) Website functionality

Test and check your website's features once it's transferred from development server and made live. Such settings may affect the file structure and possibly break your website's functionality. Test your site and see if it will break.

(15) Backup

Last but not least, make sure to have a backup of your website. You can save your data in cloud space or any other location just to ensure that you have backup data when your site crashes. You may use tools or plug-ins for automatic backup.

So, are you ready to launch your website? Have you found any errors along the way?

Checking these factors before the launch will help you improve and find out early if ever there's anything wrong with your website. The other key to your success is to have an outsourced web development team to ensure you'll have a fully operational and trouble-free website launch.

If you need to get in touch with a business website team, give us a call or send us an email.

 

 

View User Profile for Shirish Sharma Shirish Sharma is a Project and Account Manager for Fast Track, Seattle, handling multiple Microsoft accounts. Shirish is a proactive, energetic, detail-oriented and versatile technical project manager with more than ten years' experience. He has successfully delivered high-quality Microsoft projects and has vast experience in software development life cycle. He holds a B.E. in Computer Technology from Nagpur University in Nagpur, India and a PG Diploma in Advanced Computing from the CDAC (Infoway Technologies) in Pune, India. Follow Shirish on Twitter as @ShirishTweets.
Posted by Shirish Sharma Wednesday, May 20, 2015 10:25:00 PM Categories: SMB web development website

How to 301 Permanent Redirect for SEO 

How to 301 permanent redirect for SEO

Redirecting from non-www domains to www domains (such as 301 redirection – permanent) is very important for ranking on search engines such as Google and it's also important to make sure that you're getting traffic from old locations to new.

So what's a 301 redirect, you ask?   Say for example, you're moving your site from one domain to another.  You wouldn't want to lose all of the traffic on your current site.  Instead, you want to keep that traffic, plus get traffic from the new site.  That's where a 301 redirect comes in.  It's basically a simple way for the internet to tell site visitors "don't visit the page here, visit it here instead".  When the user types in the URL of the old site, it redirects the visitor to the new site.  

Search engines consider  http://domain.com to be a different from  http://www.domain.com. This is an important search consideration, so it's critical that your technical team creates the site direction  both with and without the www prefix.    

It's better to have every link used in exactly the same form as your domain. For this purpose, it is common to configure the redirect request from non-www side to www side.

It can be done in a number of ways but in this written tutorial, we will just focus on ASP.Net. Here are two simple solutions.

1. web.config : 

This is the most common practice because the IIS access is on the shared hosting environment.

Make sure you replace example.com with the name of your domain.

 
<configuration>

 
  <system.webServer>

 
    <rewrite>

 
      <rules>

 
        <rule name="Redirect to WWW" stopProcessing="true">

 
          <match url=".*" />

 
          <conditions>

 
            <add input="{HTTP_HOST}" pattern="^example.com$" />

 
          </conditions>

 
          <action type="Redirect" url="http://www.example.com/{R:0}"

 
                  redirectType="Permanent" />

 
        </rule>

 
      </rules>

 
    </rewrite>

 
  </system.webServer> 

 
</configuration>

 

2. Global.asax.cs:

If you wish to redirect  within your application, use the Application_BeginRequest in Global.asax.cs to intercept the request and do a 301 (permanent) redirection on the URL. 

NOTE:you will need to set up the bindings of the site in IIS to accept both the www.domain.com and domain.com host names.

protected void Application_BeginRequest(object sender, EventArgs ev)

{

   string FromHomeURL = "http://www.example.com";

   string ToHomeURL = "http://example.com";

             

   if(HttpContext.Current.Request.Url.ToString().ToLower().Contains(FromHomeURL))

   {

       HttpContext.Current.Response.Status = "301 Moved Permanently";

       HttpContext.Current.Response.AddHeader("Location",

       Request.Url.ToString().ToLower().Replace(FromHomeURL, ToHomeURL));

   }

}

 

Would you like your site more SEO friendly?  Fast Track is here to help. Contact us today and let's begin this journey.

View User Profile for Shubhada Paranjape Shubhada worked as a team lead for the Objectstar testing group (a product of Fujitsu) for two years. Later, she was the product lead for the e-filing development and support team for two years. Shubhada then joined Brian and her husband Ajey to start and run the Fast Track India operations. She holds a Masters in Mathematics from Pune University and an advanced diploma in Computer Science. She's on Twitter as @ShubhadaPar.
Posted by Shubhada Paranjape Friday, May 15, 2015 9:02:00 PM Categories: web development website

7 Qualities to Look for When Hiring a Web Support Team 

web support team

Hiring a remote team of web developers and designers is the norm. Many small to medium online businesses go this route because of two major reasons: cost and efficiency.

Let's face it, not every business owner knows how to develop a website from the ground up. Many of them are just starting to realize the benefits of having an online presence even with a brick-and-mortar store. There are those who are just learning how to use the internet for their businesses –that’s why it’s the perfect opportunity for outsourced web support teams to provide their expert services.

One of the best solutions is to use one or a few of the numerous tools and apps available that allow remote teams to work cohesively.

However, it is the selection process that poses a lot of challenges. If you’re having this dilemma, here are seven qualities that every business owner should look for in an outsourced web support team.

(1) Expertise

In your quest for accelerated business success, it is important to find and partner with a web support team that is backed with years of experience. Since web development, design and optimization are crucial in meeting your business goals, this team should possess professionalism, expert knowledge, and skills. Teams are also expected to be up-to-date and in line with the latest web development and design trends.

(2) Fast turnaround time

Look for outsourced web support teams with short work cycles. This gives both parties the opportunity to take a peak of the website in action. Web support companies usually have outsourced people in different corners of the globe, making it possible to complete web projects in the shortest amount of time.

(3) Range of quality services

Typically for outsourced web development and design teams provide a wide range of skills and expertise. You’ll l find quality web services that include development, design, hosting, quality assurance and testing, site maintenance and audit, support, software design, and business analysis, just to name a few.

(4) Cost-effective rates

A combination of flexible rates and packaged fees are predominant among web support companies. This allows clients from various industries with varying budgets to avail of the services they can afford. If you belong to the small to medium businesses group, there will always be a type of service package that's suitable for your budget.

(5) Flexible options

Another quality that benefits online businesses is the flexibility of web support providers. They offer several options with regards to payment schedule, and team assignment. You can even request for a specific team or individuals to consistently work for you.

(6) Effective communication

Communication is a top priority among remote web support teams since it fosters trust, credibility, and coordination among team members and their respective clients. Good teams utilize all communication channels to support both internal and external needs of clients and their projects. Among the best practices involve proper documentation and relay of information such as project status, time spent, issues and resolutions, among others.

(7) Great customer service

Of course, any company - whether online or offline - should always aim for great customer service. Those handling this department should be able to address both technical and non-technical inquiries of clients, as well as deliver accurate and swift information from web support to client.

Are you looking for a web support team to help drive your online business ahead of the competition?

Fast Track offers a wide range of web services to Fortune 50 companies since 1999. Get in touch with us and let's begin this journey.

View User Profile for Shirish Sharma Shirish Sharma is a Project and Account Manager for Fast Track, Seattle, handling multiple Microsoft accounts. Shirish is a proactive, energetic, detail-oriented and versatile technical project manager with more than ten years' experience. He has successfully delivered high-quality Microsoft projects and has vast experience in software development life cycle. He holds a B.E. in Computer Technology from Nagpur University in Nagpur, India and a PG Diploma in Advanced Computing from the CDAC (Infoway Technologies) in Pune, India. Follow Shirish on Twitter as @ShirishTweets.

Website Custom Development: Why Businesses Need It and What Benefits Do They Have 

website custom development

Today's business owners understand the need for an online presence. Whether online or brick-and-mortar, it’s important to connect to its target audience in order to attract more customers.

In order for a business to have online presence, it’s important to have a website that's strategically built in terms of what it offers to consumers. Some small businesses will only have a Facebook Page and/or Twitter account. They don't have real .COM websites, but blogs hosted by either WordPress or BlogSpot.

If you haven't been able to put up a website, now is the time it. But, it should be a customized site to better represent your business. Here are some of the main reasons why your business needs a full .COM site:

  • A customized website gives your business a unique look and the design represents your brand. This may consist of a custom-made logo, color scheme, features and user-friendly interface in which a website custom development provider can do for you.
  • With your target customers in mind, you and your design/development provider can create a simple and easy to understand site structure.
  • A fast turnaround time is always possible with an outsourced web development provider. They are able to provide a dedicated team to build your site within a specific time frame, so you can provide the web pages your target customers are searching for.
  • It's less likely that you'll see a similar or duplicate site design. This allows you to give a good impression and unique experience to your site visitors.
  • You can always add and update your site's features as your business grows.
  • You can also save on costs since most web development companies operate online - which means you don't need to call them often via phone, no commuting or gas expenses, and their overhead costs are fairly low. The key is proper communication, so the development team knows exactly what you need and what they have to do, based on your requirements.

Among the major reasons why businesses fail to have a .COM website is the cost. However, in this day and age, it's important to have a site that caters to both the needs of the business and its customers. That's why a website custom development is the best solution to meet these needs and to make a mark in a specific industry.
    
The competitive nature of being found online is reason enough to delve into outsourced web development. The cost of having a great website is no longer too expensive even for a small business because there are many providers such as Fast Track who are offering competitive prices based on the type of work required.

In your search for website custom development provider, you'll find that there are a lot of solutions that have great features that can benefit small to medium businesses. When you’re looking for a solutions provider, look for the following:

  1. A customized website comes with custom features and design. Based on your agreement, the developer/designer will be able to match your specific needs and vision for the site.
  2. Free services included when you work with a website custom development team. These vary per provider, so make sure to ask if anything for free is included in your agreed package.
  3. A cost-effective customized website because you pay for the services rendered and not for tools - which they already have.
  4. Support services. These are likened to after-sales services which you can avail of especially in time of need.
  5. A developer that can help you meet the requirements of your business.
  6. You work together with a tenured team or individual who knows how to implement your ideas and goals for the website. This happens when there's constant communication, proper planning, and coordination.

Outsourced web development and design is the beginning of your business's online journey. Providers such as Fast Track can help to give you a better understanding of where and when to begin, and how this project can take your business to the next level. Consider these benefits and your needs when speaking to the web development team in order to achieve a smooth process throughout the project.

Why Outsourcing Web Development is Profitable for Designers 

outsourced web development team

Freelance designers are high in demand today. Their expertise is much coveted, especially by start-up companies and small business owners, as the perception is that they're more efficient and don't cost too much. Partnering with outsourced web development enables both parties to get the work done quickly within limited budgets and quick turn-around times.

Good development partners are not always easy to find. You will come across stories of failed web development projects because hired developers or designers were not able to fulfill their assignments in time for launch. When this happens, it's both a loss on the website owner (company or business) and on the development team.

If you are the one providing web design services to clients, you know it’s critical to meet expectations in order to keep them as clients.

Looking for a developer with these qualities will help you to fully enjoy the flexibility and increase your earning potential:

(1) Customer-oriented

As a design professional, you know the art and science of customer service. Your development company should be the same.  

(2) Looking at Function AND Form

Websites today have to be both functional website and nice looking. There's always a way to update and spruce the appearance of a website; while a messy and slow-loading site is more difficult to fix if left for later. If you're a designer who puts design first and form second, you may experience the consequences once a client complains.

It's best to focus on both form and function. Working with a development team can help you to do that.

(3) Familiar with the Client's Industry

A designer who succeeds with every project takes the time to understand the client's industry. This knowledge will help you to understand the elements required and should be included in the website's design. A well-versed development team knows what the industry needs in terms of appearance, function and features.

(4) Creative and With Good Imagination

Creativity is at the heart of a website designer's goals and success. This doesn't end in the appearance of a client's website, but in the proper execution of your client’s ideas. Sometimes, you’re put in a position to weigh how to implement your ideas against the functionality of the site.  Good developers can suggest options to make the website more appealing and useful to all end-users.

(5) Values Site Usability

As a designer, understanding how to implement usability on every site is important. Jakob Nielsen's design principles help designers avoid common design errors; thus, helping you and your clients save money and headaches in the long run.  Your web development team uses these resources also.

(6) Has Good Communication Skills

Maintaining a good relationship with your clients is key and depends on your ability to communicate effectively with your client.  Many development companies use tools to help you to expedite that communication.  It’s worth seeking a development partner that employs the use of these tools.

(7) Includes Clients in the Design/Development Process

It’s important to take the time to communicate project details to the client, to ensure the project takes the correct direction. The planning phase in any project is the most important, and it’s important to work with a development team that takes time to understand the project.  A good development team understands challenging requests and works with you and your client throughout the development process.

(8) Sticks with Deadlines

Meeting deadlines builds trust. It also gives your client a sense that the money they've spent has been worth the effort. Having a good track record of meeting deadlines is critical to your success. It’s important to have a development team that shares this vision.

(9) Knows and Has Access to Latest Design Techniques

This one is obvious. Looking for a development team that has the most up to date knowledge in technology trends keeps you ahead of your competitors.

(10) Efficient and Trustworthy

Being efficient is not just being deadline-driven. It also means that you and your development team share the ability to get the work done in the most cost efficient way for your client.  Having this perspective increases your level of trustworthiness, and will increase your business. It’s important that your development team share the same perspective.

Your profitability as a designer depends on many things, starting with client expectations. A good development team will share your vision and your passion for all of your projects.

Monday, March 2, 2015 6:25:00 PM Categories: business partnership SMB web design web development web trends
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