Category Archives: Web Development

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Website Maintenance: 6 Things You Need to Do on a Regular Basis

So you’ve built yourself a website. Now you just have to sit back and let it work its magic – right? Not quite.

Websites are in need of constant monitoring, nurturing and development. Basically, your site is the equivalent of a technological child. To set that kid up for success, give it the love and attention it deserves.

Why is website maintenance so important? In order to keep your audience engaged with your site, you have to go far beyond the initial build to make it happen. Here are some of the most important maintenance essentials your business website needs.

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Search engine optimization is vital to the success of your website, and to being found on the internet by your target audience.

Benefits of SEO:

  • Help you rank higher on search results
  • Increase traffic to your website
  • Boost your credibility on the web
  • Long-term results

In order to be found, your SEO game has to be strong. The algorithms search engines use to rank websites are continually changing and evolving to better serve the consumer. Regularly and actively staying on top of these search engine updates, and adjusting your SEO strategy accordingly, is the best way to nurture your website for long-term, sustainable growth.

Related: 5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Improve your SEO

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Best practices for enhanced user experience are continually changing in our fast-paced technological world, making it one of the most important factors to consider for website upkeep.

Top user experience priorities:

  • Ease of use
  • Fast load time
  • Seamless functionality
  • Responsive design

When users come to your site, you want the experience to be easy, interactive and seamless. Can they find information without hunting for it? Are there visuals that make the site dynamic and interesting? Do pages load quickly? All of these factors need to be considered from a user’s point of view to ensure a positive experience.

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There are several online security threats that can leave your website with unexpected and costly downtime.

Security threats to watch for:

  • Data breaches
  • Ransomware
  • Malware
  • DDoS

As technology evolves and develops, unfortunately so do these types of malicious threats. Routine system updates and consistent monitoring can help prevent attacks by finding potential holes in the security of your site.

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Daily site backups are also an extremely important part of website maintenance. In the event of a crash, when you have recent backups of your site you are able to restore it as soon as possible with all of your content, forms and important information, and any changes you’ve made over time intact.

Computer on desk with charts.

Consistently monitoring your website analytics is an important part of website maintenance.

A few things website analytics show you are:

  • How people are interacting with your website
  • Referrals and traffic sources
  • Top visited pages and blogs
  • Results on paid campaign efforts

In order to better serve your audience, it’s vital to monitor your analytics to see how your site is being used and where you may have room for improvement. Demographics, referrals, most viewed content, mapping out a user’s visit to see what pages they interact with – these are all basic user experiences you can look at and use to improve your site.

Man writing in notebook.

Content helps to create customers and, when done right, helps to make sure your website stays ahead of the competition.

Quality content on your site helps to:

  • Improve SEO results
  • Position your site as a valuable resource
  • Convert prospects into customers

Quality content is the driving force behind good SEO and how Google determines if your website is a valuable resource for users. This makes creating fresh content essential to the long-term health of your website. When visitors come to your site, make sure their questions are answered quickly and succinctly to help position your business as a go-to resource.

In order to keep your website working for you in the long run, regular maintenance is essential to your business. Need help navigating the vast world of website upkeep and improvement? Find a team of professionals to have your back.

At Stray Media Group, we offer website maintenance, hosting and SEO plans that fit your needs and marketing budget. Give us a call to learn more about how we can help you improve your website today.

2016: The Year of the User Experience – Part 2

With 2016 well underway, in this post we continue to build on ‘The Year of the User Experience’ predictions for what lies ahead this year in the marketing world. Many of the elements featured in our Part 1 post focus specifically on graphic design and how vital it is to make sure the experience your design efforts create is extremely user-friendly and intuitive. Here, we continue that theme with a slight shift to focus more on how to best present the content within those design elements and marketing materials. Without further ado, let’s see what trends in content we can expect to see becoming more prevalent in the coming months.

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Modular design allows you to present content in an interesting way that aims to keep users engaged. Because we have busier lifestyles than ever before, as users our attention spans continue to get shorter and material needs to be extremely intriguing to hold our interest. Layouts that feature hard-to-anticipate designs keep one’s eye moving from one thing to the next, offering the fun experience that is preferred by our busy minds. This style of breaking up content is comparable to the shorter paragraph layouts of most blog posts you’re seeing these days, but with the flair of visually interesting design elements to make it pop. For a deeper understanding of modular design and resources to help you get started with this cool trend, check out this article.

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Did you know that 100 million people watch at least one video per day? Or that website visitors are 64% more likely to make a product purchase after watching a video? As humans, we process visuals 60,000 times faster than the written word. These are extremely powerful statistics that you’d be wise to use as fuel in your marketing efforts. Telling a story through visuals, especially video, is becoming more and more essential when it comes to sharing your brand with the world. Learn more about the video production services we offer and how we can help you grow your brand.

In addition to video, other visual essentials to include in your marketing strategy are good photography and infographics. These handy and appealing graphics are a fabulous way to organize and distribute information or stories using the power of visuals. Not only do they make data look pretty, but they are also 3x more likely to be shared by viewers than any other type of content. If increasing traffic is one of your top goals for 2016, infographics would be a good area to prioritize.

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Truly great design cannot be complete without the key element: typography. A language in itself, typography has the ability to give the written word a voice, ignite emotion and even make the reader believe a statement to be true. This coming year we expect to see some blasts from the past such as retro, serif and handwritten fonts. Check out this great infographic from Design Taxi with some need-to-know trends. Plus, with all the great resources available for finding fonts of all shapes and sizes these days, you’ll never have a shortage of options; in fact, you could most likely spend the rest of 2016 looking at every one out there – you’ve been warned.

Want more information on how to apply these anticipated trends to your own marketing efforts? As always, we’d love to meet with you and discuss how these elements can be incorporated into your marketing plan to help grow your business. Contact us today to learn more.

2016: The Year of the User Experience – Part 1

The beginning of each new year triggers fond memories we’ve made, reminds us of growth from lessons learned, and brings a sense of wonderment about what the future holds. As marketers, we become giddy at the thought of NEW – new design concepts, new innovative tools and resources, new advancements for better experiences and big dreams for the future.

Looking forward to what the coming year has in store, we’re already beginning to see changes in processes, design and more. What are some of the top predictions for changes this year? Grab a coffee, kick back, and let’s take a trip to Daydream Land to imagine all the opportunities to explore and trends to anticipate in 2016.

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We cannot stress enough how vital it is to provide users with the best, most seamless experience possible. Your company could feature the most outstanding web design ever, which you feel should be displayed in the Louvre next to the Mona Lisa, but if it isn’t easy to use and quick to load, users will jump ship and move on to the next.

Be mindful of what effect the interaction with your site will have on a user, and allow that to help determine the best route. For example, will your mobile site make someone want to toss their smartphone at the wall because their fingers have to go ninja-status, zooming in and out to read a product description? Or will they feel a sense of calm tranquility from the clean, intuitive design that does exactly what they want without having to do much more than lift a thumb?

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A key factor that will contribute to giving the best user experience possible on your website is the first screen. With mobile screens becoming the primary screen users interact with, it is paramount to the success of your site – and business – to grow with the times and put smartphone screens as the top priority when developing design concepts. Focus on elements such as calls to action that require little to no extra work by the user, simple sign-up fields for capturing emails quickly, and easy-to-read content that is both effortless to view and full of rich, useful information.

A top-notch responsive design will cater to both mobile and desktop, leaving nothing to the imagination when using either device. For a superb example of a recent rebrand that encompasses the perfect balance of design, functionality and user-friendliness, look no further than Netflix. The company appears to have immersed itself into the life of the end user to fully understand how people use their devices these days and how to best cater to their needs. If you find your site is not able to provide a cohesive experience across every device, it’s time to take it under the knife for a facelift.

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There is a saying that goes “if it doesn’t nurture your soul, get rid of it.” Take this flower-child-like philosophy to heart when it comes to your website and the creation of an excellent user experience. For each piece of content, every photograph, logo or form – ask yourself “What purpose is this serving?” If the answer isn’t a solid justification to keep it on your site, it’s most likely best to remove it and allow the user to engage with the pertinent information of your business, rather than sift through what may or may not be of interest.

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Intuitively designed websites are of the utmost importance, and with this in mind, the ‘navicon’ or Hamburger Menu will be your new best friend moving into 2016. Clever little hidden menus are starting to replace the more traditional navigation menus across all devices, desktop included. Check out some great examples of these hidden menus on websites across a wide variety of industries. Intuitive and space-saving, these menus not only provide more white space for you to work with visually, but also give a subtle sense of clarity that allows the user not to be distracted from more important elements of your site you want them to focus on.

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Modular Scrolling

The infinite scroll function became a huge trend in 2015 on some of the world’s most popular sites, including Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, and has since been adopted by numerous sites around the web. What’s the new thing in 2016? Enter module scrolling, a layout that enables modules of a site to scroll independently from each other, like this prime example from a hotel in Rome showcasing two columns working in harmony side by side. While the functionality and feel of this trend is pretty nifty in itself, its purpose all comes back to the top priority – user experience. This scrolling feature on a site allows the user to continuously absorb content from your site without being interrupted by loading pages, searching for links via clicks, etc. and providing a one-stop-lane for your site’s entire library of contents.

To learn more about the trends and concepts reviewed in this post and how you can apply them to your marketing strategy, contact us today. We find this stuff interesting and exciting, and would love the chance to take this journey into the coming year with you to help your business grow. Cheers to 2016!