5 Red Flags to Look Out for When Outsourcing Web Development 

By Steve Hoag

outsourcing web development

Outsourcing web development work after your firm designs a website can be a great option if you want to save time and money. Outsourcing can increase your profit margins on a design project, and allow you to take on more clients at once. However, there are several key factors that should make you rethink your choice, and choose a different development firm:

Lack of experience in a particular CMS or technology needed for your project.

Every project is going to have different requirements. Clients may want a website to be built using a specific CMS or platform. You need to ensure that whichever development firm you are looking into has experience with that technology. Otherwise the entire process will be a trial by fire for all parties involved, and you could quite possibly lose a client.

They have a bad company website.

If a developer doesn’t have a good company website you need to move on to the next option. How are you supposed to trust them if they won’t invest any effort into their own company?

They don’t provide specific pricing, deliverables, and timetables for their work.

Regardless of what firm you are looking into, they should be able to provide clear cut pricing, deliverables, and timetables. If anything is left up to chance there could be delays, and your client could choose to take his business elsewhere. Also, unforeseen costs can drive business away as well. Everything should be clearly defined at the onset.

They aren’t proficient in English.

If you and your client operate in an English speaking company then by all means make sure your developers do as well. Clearly discuss with your client what sort of communication they need with the developers ahead of time so you know what language requirements to set. Miscommunication can be a deal killer in an industry where understanding what the client wants is so critical.

It takes too long to get a quote from them.

Move on if you present a development firm with a request to receive a quote and it takes them forever to respond. This is generally not a good indicator of timely communication on their part, and could spell trouble down the road. Not being interested in making a profit is their prerogative. You need to find someone who will respond promptly and efficiently to all communication.

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, December 27, 2013 5:57:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design web development

Why Should Your Business Invest in a Custom Website? 

By Steve Hoag

why business should invest in a custom website

A custom website is the way to go if your business wants a professional and unique online presence. Many people think that custom websites are extremely expensive, but this isn’t necessarily true. There are a number of affordable solutions out there. So why should you invest in a custom solution?

Custom websites offer a unique online presence.

Branding is all about carving out a niche for your company. Having a generic template design isn’t the best way to go about creating a unique online presence for your company. Custom websites allow you to work with a designer to design every single aspect of your website so that it matches your business vision. It’s a great feeling to know that your site is completely differentiated from any other business on the Internet.                                                                       

Custom websites are scalable.

Another benefit of a custom website solution is that many of them are scalable. That means they can grow with your business needs so you don’t need to invest in a new solution. Investing in a custom website now means saving time and money later on. You won’t have to worry about searching for a brand new product, or deal with migrating services, features, and content.

Custom websites offer extensive feature customization.

One of the biggest draws of a custom website is its customization capabilities. If you need a custom feature or widget, a developer can make it for you. You can add custom e-commerce storefronts, social media stores, news feeds, forms, blogs, showcases and many other cool additions. The only limits are your imagination and budget.

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, December 18, 2013 10:07:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web development website

How to Integrate Social Media With Your Business Website 

By Steve Hoag

social media integration

Integrating social media with your business website is critical for increasing online exposure and engagement with your target segment. Check out these tips on how to connect your website with different social media platforms:

Add social media buttons on every page

Including buttons that link to your social media accounts is great for making it easier for users to connect with you. Social media is becoming a very popular way of asking for product advice or reviews. By including links you are streamlining the information search section of the buying process. This will also help to boost traffic and followers of your various accounts.  The best place to include these buttons is in the header and footer of every page. Make sure they are clearly visible or they may never be used by visitors. Including call to actions such as ‘Like us on Facebook’ are also better than simply using a basic badge. Everyone has badges these days, and calls to actions are much more effective.

Allow users to login using social media

Letting users use their social media accounts to log in to your website is great for increasing conversions. Long gone are the days where users had to fill out lengthy registration forms. Now all they need is a Facebook or Twitter account. Using social media logins can also help to share specialized  content and connect with their users on a much more personal level.

Make your website social media friendly

Users are starting to want a website viewing experience more akin to social media platforms these days. They desire to see dynamic content, category focused areas, news feeds, and social media feeds. Some websites are switching to more modular panel home page designs to cater to this. These panels can be used to show any type of feed or content they want. A great example of this is Google Ventures.

Make content shareable

Having great content is worthless if it’s hard for users to share it easily. Making content shareable is a great way to boost online exposure, traffic, and engagement with your customers. Including social sharing buttons next to all content like blog articles, videos, and images is a great way of doing this.

Embed dynamic content like YouTube videos when appropriate

Dynamic content is absolutely mandatory for websites that want to be more engaging. Including videos from YouYube or infographics are great for increasing visit times and conversion rates. The longer a user is on your website, the more likely they are to become a quality lead, and eventually a customer.

Integrating social media with your business website is critical for increasing online exposure and engagement with your target segment. Check out these tips on how to connect your website with different social media platforms:

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 Monday, December 9, 2013 6:54:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB social media social media marketing web design web development website

How to Decrease Page Load Times 

By Steve Hoag

how to minimize page load times

It’s absolutely important to keep page load times in mind when building your new business website. Users will leave if your website doesn’t load quickly enough, and traffic will begin to decline. Less traffic means less leads. Check out these five tips on how to minimize loading times:

Avoid Redirects

Some redirects are unavoidable, but you should do all you can to get rid of any that are unnecessary. Redirects increase page load times by adding an extra HTTP. Make sure to look for broken links and fix those!

Optimize Image Size

Images can end up taking a lot of your page size and significantly impact loading times. You should resize the images you plan to use with an image editor like Photoshop.

Image File Format

Always stick to standard formats for your images like JPG, PNG, and GIF! This will minimize any display problems.

Optimize Caching                  

Whenever a user visits your website they need to load its image, Java, and CSS files which can significantly increase page load times. Enabling HTTP caching on your website will let these files be saved by a user’s browser. Next time they visit your website they can simply retrieve the cached files instead of downloading them all over again. Optimizing caching can also reduce bandwidth and hosting costs.

Update your CMS Software

Content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, and others will release updates from time to time to their software. These will help to improve overall performance. Make sure to keep up to date!

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, December 4, 2013 5:16:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design web development website

Five Classic Web Design Mistakes 

By Steve Hoag

web design mistakes

Web design has changed a lot over the years, but it is surprising how many businesses make the same mistakes over and over again. The good news is you can learn from their mistakes and not repeat them! Let them drive away potential customers, while you laugh all the way to the bank. Here are a few things to avoid:

Not adhering to the Martian Man rule

If a man from Mars saw your website would they be able to tell what it was about in four seconds? For many websites, the answer is no. Your website should effectively communicate what your company does/sells/is all about quickly and concisely. Use appropriate images, taglines, and titles to do this. Keep it concise.

Having pages that are too ‘busy’

Do you remember that thing called MySpace? If you do, then you will recall how there were thousands of things you could add to your profile to customize its look. Some people thought this meant they had to use every single widget, and made their profile look like a collage of neon colors, sounds, and ridiculous images. Your website needs to be the opposite of this. Sometime a simple, minimalist approach is best. It’s actually en vogue now. You don’t want to distract users from the core content they should be paying attention to. Avoid a clutter, auto-playing music, among other things and you should be fine.

Failing to make navigation intuitive

A user should be able to get from point A to point B quickly and intuitively. Don’t make getting to an important section a cumbersome process for a user. Keep your navigation simple, intuitive, and prominent in your website. Use tabs for the most important sections, and avoid including unnecessary links or buttons.

Opening new browser windows

Pop-ups aren’t fun for anyone. They are distracting, and impede you from surfing the web easily. Some designers think that pop ups are alright because they keep the user on your site longer. That’s like saying it’s okay to for a restaurant to take 30 minutes to process your bill because they want you to order more food. If anything it’s going to drive business away. Avoid using pop ups at all cost on your business website!

Not answering users’ questions

This mistake ties back to the Martian Man rule. Every user should be able to tell what your business does right off the bat. They also need to have any questions regarding your business answered easily. Making important information readily available is key. Including things like an About Us, Contact Us, FAQ, and Blog sections are great for providing users with all the answers they need. A well-informed visitor is much more likely to seriously consider your company when making a purchase.

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 Tuesday, December 3, 2013 6:46:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design web development web trends website
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