Monday, January 17, 2011

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Three Things You Should Expect in a Low Cost Website Package

Low cost websites are one of the best things to have come out of the recession. Web design companies are aware that businesses need an online presence but in some cases they simply do not have the capital to invest in a unique and bespoke website. Although a low cost package website is a good idea, just because it is low cost doesn't mean it should leave out some very important features.

When looking for a website package, make sure at least these three benefits are included in the price:

Up to 5 Pages Included

You may want five pages. You may only want two. But don't settle for two if you want five! The option to have up to five pages should be a minimum offering in a website package from a reputable website design company. If only two or three pages are offered it is likely you'll be charged for any more and it might not turn out to be as low cost as you had envisaged.

Perfect Coding

Just because you may not know anything about coding doesn't mean you should ignore it. Poorly coded websites are penalised by the search engines and this will affect the overall success of your website. Remember some designers are more into how things look than whether they work properly so do your homework on this point!

Email Addresses Included

If you employ a fair few staff then with your website you need ample e-mail addresses that include your domain name. Not only does this look professional but it also saves you buying them separately at an inflated price. Usually a low cost website package will include a certain number of e-mail addresses: just make sure you have enough!

When opting for a low cost website design package, make sure what is on offer is a very high quality, professionally produced product that has these and plenty of other features included. Just because it is relatively cheap doesn't mean you should lose out on the basics!
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Use Color And Layout As Sales Tools!

Did you know that the color and layout of a web site could have a huge impact on selling your product or service? One of the key factors in establishing a friendly and attractive web site is color and layout. And that’s where a lot of beginning webmasters go awry.

If you look at any of the available professional web site templates you’ll see that the colors and the layout blend with the content. Web site templates can be a great guide to showing the inexperienced how to combine color and elements. This is especially important for the color challenged.

I have to admit I am partial to both red and blue. But that doesn’t always work well for a web site. So it’s important to step outside your own preferences when designing a web site. Many tests have been done on colors and impact for web site design.

Colors can often complement the product or service, or the company’s logo design. Some companies even use a color to brand their service or product, like UPS does with brown. Not my first choice in colors but it appears to be working well for them.

Colors can have an impact on mood and cultural significance. Red is a universal color for attention, yellow for caution, and green for approval. But there are exceptions, green hats in China indicate infidelity for a woman. Red implies danger in many cultures. So colors can affect the mood and emotional response of the viewer.

Men and women definitely view colors differently. Women prefer red, black, and bright colors. Men prefer blue, orange, and darker colors. Although most of the impact is psychological or emotional, it can have a positive or negative effect on buying products or services.

Dark and foreboding colors may deliver a message not intended. Bright and colorful designs on a web site selling a serious product or service (like medical products to treat a terminally ill patient) can definitely show a lack of sympathy and put off potential buyers.

Some colors may actually render the words unreadable to some people. Using light yellow or blue type on a white background is hard for many to see, not too mention not very attractive. Black backgrounds with white type certainly have enough contrast, but may miss the boat on creating the appropriate mood or emotion.

Most experts agree that neutral backgrounds and dark blue or black type are the most legible and readable for most viewers. Using other colors for emphasis is fine, as long as you don’t over do it. Having more than 3-4 colors on any page can diminish the impact of any one of the colors.

Too many colors, just like too many fonts (type styles) can agitate the reader and create a negative experience. And when you are trying to convince someone to buy something, that’s not a very effective presentation. Too little contrast makes viewing difficult, too much contrast irritates the reader.

Another problem faced by any web site designer is how the color will appear on different monitor and computers. Some colors have a tendency to not produce the same look on any monitor or video card. Each computer may have a different rendering technology and therefore produce a different hue or color.

Some video cards and monitors can only display 256 colors (it used to be about 16). There are also other factors such as the type of monitor (LCD display much differently than tube type) and available ram on the video card (more ram usually means more colors). But there is a way to help control this chaos.

There is a “standard” of sorts that is called Browser Friendly or Browser Safe colors. Netscape originally established this standard years ago and many still rely on it today. All of the major browsers have adopted this color set to help web site designers with choosing colors that display the same across all video devices.

Without getting too technical, these colors are limited to the basic 256 available on any computer equipment including our friends with Macs. These browser safe colors will display the same across all makes and models of equipment. You can see the colors and Hex values here:


The major concern is not to distract from the message of your web site, whether it be informational or selling a product or service. Don’t go for the big fancy design and forget the purpose of the web site. That’s especially important for web sites designed to sell a product or service.
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Web Design The Easy Way - Some Quick Tips To Get Started

Web design can be quite a daunting prospect if you are new to the Internet. You would like to create your own site but have no idea where to start. Html? Photoshop? Fireworks? FrontPage? Dreamweaver?

This article will give you some tips and hints on how to get started with web design - and which shortcuts to take!

Tip 1: Learn HTML

I can hear you groan. I said I was going to give you some shortcuts, now I suggest you learn HTML! Unfortunately there is no way around it. Even if you make use to the shortcuts to web design that I am going to suggest, learning HTML will still be the best investment that you can make. It is really not that difficult and it will greatly aid in your understanding of web design.

A really good place for online tutorials on HTML can be found here:

Depending on your enthusiasm and level of technical skill I would also suggest that you learn a bit about CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Cascading style sheets can assist you tremendously with controlling the layout, colors and images on your web page. You can also find good CSS tutorials on the w3schools website.

Tip 2: Use a web template for web design

Now this is really a shortcut to web design! I suggest that you create your first website by making use of a web template. There are lots of commercial templates available, and frankly, they are beautiful, but I am going to give you some hints on where to find free web templates. Most people would think that searching for 'free web templates' in Google would be the most obvious way of doing it - but I suggest that you rather search for 'open source web templates'.

Here are some sources with open source (basically - free to use) web templates. The advantage of these templates is that they are normally well designed and will also teach you good web design principles (as opposed to most of the commercial templates which, while they are undeniably beautiful to look at, they are normally not built making use of good web design principles).

My favorite Open Source web design site is
This site has over a 1600 free designs to choose from. Download any design and build your site! Most of these designs make use of CSS as well which is why it is a good idea to learn CSS.

Another site with lots of free template designs is
I suggest that if you are just starting out you stick with the designs made with tables. These are the easiest to manipulate and use. The templates on Daydreamgraphics are not for everyone - they are mostly geared towards a young funky look, so if you are looking for a design that you can use for your business or company, you might do better to rather select a design from OSWD, but if you are looking at setting up a personal website, a hobby site or a site related to music or entertainment, these designs will work very well.

Tip 3: Use Wordpress or Joomla to create your site

This option is really by far the best way to create your website in the long term. Theoretically you do not need to know HTML and CSS to create and modify your site but in practice it pays off to learn these skills since it will help you master these tools just so much faster.

The steps to creating your website using these tools are as follows:

1. Log into your CPanel control panel (if you are not using a host that provides you with a CPanel control panel and Fantastico scripts - frankly, my only advice is to change to one that does!)

2. Select Fantastico from the control panel

3. Select either Wordpress or Joomla from the menu on the left.

4. Install Wordpress or Joomla in the root folder. You will have to select an administrator username and password to access the admin side of your site.

Log into the admin backend (normally /wp-admin for Wordpress and /administrator for Joomla). There are lots of free Wordpress tutorials available - just do a Google search for 'free Wordpress tutorials' and to get started in Joomla, do a search for 'how to use Joomla'.
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Graphic Design Tools That Every Designer Should Know

Who designed the graphics on your favorite web page?

It was most likely done by a graphic designer.

Graphic designers, or graphic artists, create visual graphics that are intended to communicate a message to audiences. Designers create graphics for websites and games as well as film media. Graphic designers also use illustrations and photography to create layouts for print media. Marketing companies often call on graphic designers to help create promotional displays and brochures for products. Graphic artists can be trained at schools with graphic design programs and degrees can also be earned online. As with many fields, designers cannot complete their work without the proper tools. Below is a list of what is necessary for a designer to be successful.


Most of today's graphics are computer-based so this component is absolutely critical in graphic design. The computer is not only essential for designing graphics but it is also necessary for business purposes and is needed for email and communication. Computers are used to create illustrations, write copy for websites and publications, editing photos and designing layouts. Deciding which computer to purchase can be challenging but Apple's "Mac" is preferred by many designers because of their graphic capabilities.


Your computer can't design anything until it is told to, and this is where the software comes in. Software programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator help create and edit photos and images. Designers who specialize in website creation may use editors such as Macromedia Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage to create sophisticated web pages with rich color and content. Time management and project tracking software is also essential for the business end of design.


Graphic designers are constantly learning and refining their craft. It is helpful for designers to build their own library of graphic design books. These publications can be used for technical assistance, business tips, or for inspiration when needed. You may also consider attending a graphic design school for specialized training.


One of the most important resources that a graphic designer can have is other peers in the field. Professionals can critique the work of others while receiving information and tips on their own projects. Complex assignments may require collaborating with other designers, and having someone to brainstorm with can create the best ideas.
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Link-Building Policy for Bing

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It’s easy for everyone to get caught up in obsessing about how to optimise your site & build links for Google, when trying to market through search. That’s certainly a wise thing to do, considering Google totally dominates the search market. But, there are still other search engines that some people are using, so it is wise to make sure your site is performing to the best of its ability in those too!

Obviously the other two engines are Yahoo and Bing and whilst Yahoo is seemingly declining fast, Bing is actually gaining a market share. Furthermore, if the deal between Microsoft and Yahoo goes through, Bing search will be talking over Yahoo anyway. With the muscle of Microsoft behind Bing, you can be sure the search engine won’t be prepared to play second fiddle to Google for long!

However, unlike Google, we don’t hear much about what Bing wants out of a site for decent rankings, but Rick DeJarnette of Bing Webmaster Center has shared some dos and don’ts of link-building for Bing. Not surprisingly, a lot of his advice for complying with Bing’s policies, does not differ too much from the advice that Google would give you. It is however, still always nice to hear what they think, just to clear up any possible confusion.

Like Google, Bing places great emphasis on quality links to determine its rankings. “Just don’t make the mistake of believing it will result in instant gratification. Successful link building efforts require a long-term commitment, not an overnight or turnkey solution,” says DeJarnette. “You need to continually invest in link building efforts with creativity and time.”

What You Should Do!

DeJarnette shared some tips for getting more quality links. The following are Bing’s tips for effective link building (paraphrased):
1. Develop your site as a business brand and brand it consistently
2. Find relevant industry experts, product reviewers, bloggers, and media folk, and make sure they’re aware of your site/content
3. Publish concise, informative press releases online
4. Publish expert articles to online article directories
5. Participate in relevant conversations on blogs/forums, referring back to your site’s content when applicable
6. Use social networks to connect to industry influencers (make sure you have links to your site in your profiles)
7. Create an email newsletter with notifications of new content
8. Launch a blog/forum on your site
9. Participate in relevant industry associations and especially in their online forums
10. Strive to become a trusted expert voice for your industry, while promoting your site

What You Should Not Do!

DeJarnette shared a list of things that you should avoid in your link building efforts, if it is a good Bing ranking that you are after. Here is what Bing says will get your site reviewed more closely by staff:
1. The number of inbound links suddenly increases by orders of magnitude in a short period of time
2. Many inbound links coming from irrelevant blog comments and/or from unrelated sites
3. Using hidden links in your pages
4. Receiving inbound links from paid link farms, link exchanges, or known “bad neighborhoods” on the Web
5. Linking out to known web spam sites

“When probable manipulation is detected, a spam rank factor is applied to a site, depending upon the type and severity of the infraction,” says DeJarnette. “If the spam rating is high, a site can be penalised with a lowered rank. If the violations are egregious, a site can be temporarily or even permanently purged from the index.”

Most of the stuff DeJarnette shared is nothing any experienced search marketer is not already aware of, but it can be quite helpful when a search engine itself lays out what to do and not to do, to help webmasters get better rankings.

in reference to:

"Link-Building Policy for Bing"
- (view on Google Sidewiki)

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Google Sidewiki entry by SEO Expert

Banners have been a major part of the World Wide Web world since its early days. Copywriters burn the midnight oil looking for new designs that will grab the visitor’s attention and compel him to click on their banner. This article discusses some of the most successful banner designs.

Teasing your curiosity

“Do Not Click Here”. How many of you have seen this slogan in a banner? What did you do when you first saw it? If you are like most people, when you first saw it, you clicked on it. What makes this simple sentence so powerful that it compels the visitor to click on it? The answer is curiosity !!!

Copywriters and web designers are always looking for ways to arouse the website visitor’s curiosity. As banner designers their goal is to attract the visitor to the banner, usually completely ignoring the other elements on the web page that are more important to the website owner. However, because the “Do Not Click Here” slogan tells us nothing about what is on the next page, it arouses the visitor’s curiosity and makes it almost impossible not to click on this banner to see what’s behind it.

Simple integrated design

When Larry Page and Sergey Brin first introduced their product, “Google”, to potential investors, they mentioned Adwords as a backup option in case they didn’t make any money. We all know how lucky they were that they eventually needed to use that backup plan. What made these “boring” ads such a great success?

Unlike other ads, Adwords neither arouse the visitor’s curiosity nor disturb the main flow of the web page. In fact, the opposite is true. Adwords are meant to look like part of the search results giving the user the feeling that those ads are there because he asked for them. No one has any doubt that this simple design helps Google to promote both their search engine and the Adwords advertising program.

Take part in the action

Banner designers wisely used interactive technologies like Flash to develop type of banners that invite the user to take part in the action. Drawing the user into the action can be accomplished in many creative ways. Some web designers use popular old games elements as part of the scene. You all know the famous game pacman. One of the banners that I like the most is the one where the user is allowed to let pacman “eat” few dollar signs. At the successful completion of this mission, a nice slogan is revealed asking him to open a saving account that will earn money with a fixed interest rate. The idea behind those interactive banners is simple: Let the user take part in the action and then at the right moment when his mind is less resistant, show him the sales message. Those interactive banners proved to be very efficient. Their biggest disadvantage is that most webmasters will not allow that kind of banner because it distracts too much from the web page content.

Back to Black and White

Website designers are always seeking to be different with their design ideas. One banner fashion trend that can be found lately is Black and White banners. Although research shows that blue and yellow are the most efficient color to use in a banner, Black and White banners have been seen a lot lately. It’s probably something that will eventually vanish, but the idea behind it is to be different and to make the user wonder what’s up and hopefully click on the banner to find out.

Get Out of the box

Have you heard about the If not, check out this website before continuing to read this article. This website has proven that creative thinking not only can bring you money but also create a whole new trend. Right after the got the internet community’s attention, many designers used this idea to deign a banner on which they sell a 10x10 pixel area. Like the original concept, this banner design had its impact. Advertisers are investing money on these ad spaces while at the same time visitors are curious enough time after time looking at those unorganized pixel banners to click on them.

What about the next trends

What the

in reference to: The White House (view on Google Sidewiki)
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