By Pat Giammarco, our new partner with PWG Marketing
Content is the lifeblood of your website. Visitors to your site are looking to gain something from viewing your website: blogs, articles, and ideas. All of these elements work together to convey your message and define your brand.
But, let’s face it… not all content is created equal.
Good content is interesting, actionable, well-written, and properly formatted.
Bad content is, well, bad.
Keep It Interesting
Content should be interesting. It should be useful and answer questions or address your readers’ needs. Higher user engagement—how long a person stays on your site after clicking a link from a search engine—helps improve your site’s page rank. More importantly: interesting content gives a user a reason to stick around and to return.
Ask yourself why someone would read your content. What would keep them hooked and spending time on your site? These are questions that you must answer when creating content for your website. Users want real information that provides something they need, not generic filler material.
Action Is Important
Content should always contain a call to action. The most important reason to write something is to get people to do something, such as make a purchase, change an opinion, or simply continue reading. Does your content tell your reader what you want them to do?
If you’re writing about a product that you’re selling, the article should contain a link to purchase that product. If you’re promoting an event, you should tell the reader how to buy a ticket to attend. You also may feature articles and blogs that aren’t for promotional purposes. Sometimes, a persuasive article may serve to encourage the user to continue reading at another source.
Spelling and Grammar Matter
Good content is well written. Content must be free from errors, readable, and easy to understand. Spelling mistakes and confusing sentences can turn readers away, even if the ideas are great. Readers won’t accept your webpage as expert content if they have to wade through comma splices and poor spelling to make sense of it.
Proper writing may not be an easy task for everyone, but spending a few extra dollars for professional writing or editing will be better for your business than pushing through with bad content.
Keep It Organized
All of your content should be properly formatted for readability and labeled with an easy-to-understand and informative title. Titles should be more than cursory labels; they need to tell your readers exactly what information they can expect to get for consuming your content.
Once visitors begin reading your page, they need to stay engaged. Break up your content into smaller blocks of text organized by a common idea. Massive, repetitive paragraphs are off-putting and give readers a reason to leave your page and search elsewhere for information. Subheadings and bulleted or numbered lists are irreplaceable tools that can take a wall of text and divide it into a user-friendly, welcoming copy.
Your website needs exceptional material to keep visitors excited and coming back for more. We can provide expertly crafted content and strategies that will get you found, engage your audience, and convert visitors into paying customers. Contact us today for a free online content audit.
Written by Angela Robinson, Web Developer
Hey, who needs it?!
Have you ever visited a website that irritated your soul because of the use of their, there, and they’re? A site that raised the hairs on the back of your neck with the sheer quantity of broken links within it? Do you manage or own a website that turns your visitors into IET – Instant English Teachers?
No? Great! Then this article is not for you. For the rest of you mere mortals, I will state that the message of this article is simple: Do Not Skip Out on the QA Process!
Quality Assurance – Pizza, Cheeseburgers, or Nachos?
Believe or not, there are many IT professionals that has either – a) never heard of Quality Assurance, b) has heard of it but has never included it’s process into their website development cycle, or c) considers it a complete waste of time and resources. This is because Quality Assurance is all about pizza, cheeseburgers or nachos.
The meaning of Quality Assurance or QA is in the definition of the words. The assurance that your website doesn’t suck and every piece of information contained within it meets quality standards – pictures, videos, the words in pictures and videos.
When you’re playing putt-putt golf at the local Magic Mountain, are you expecting to see Tiger Woods? No! But what if he does show up… with his kids… and his entourage… and dozens of paparazzi. If you’re the owner of that Magic Mountain, wouldn’t you like to double check your inventory, or make sure everything is clean, or all the vomit is removed from the jungle gym that a certain adult snuck into (NOTE – I know nothing about that). But that’s what QA is all about – a double check, a triple check, a quick check.
Remember way, way, way back in school and your math teacher told you to double check your work. The difference of checking or not checking your work can mean an A+ or a C-. That same rule applies here.
Why is it all about pizza, cheeseburgers, and nachos?
How would you make a pizza?
- You make the crust (the website design)
- You put the sauce on top of the crust (the website layout, code, a management system, a database, etc.)
- Any self-respecting pizzeria knows that the cheese (the content) goes on first!
- Then depending on your customer, the toppings goes on next:
- Does the customer want a lot of pepperoni (forms or applications) – then you must check that the pepperonis are on the pizza (that the forms or applications work)
- Does the customer want a supreme pizza with a lot of various toppings (a blog, import of old but necessary data, etc.) – then you must check that the toppings are on the pizza (that the blog is working, that the import was successful)
- Does the customer want a pineapple and chicken (a bunch of bells and whistles that’s really not relevant to the site but is fun to look at) – then you must check that the toppings are on the pizza (this would be an entirely different article)
- Bake at 425 degrees and once done give it to your customer (present the finished website to client and release the website to the production stage)
Five steps to make a great pizza – it’s a family recipe. Five well thought out and defined steps with 3 possible QA processes to make a great and user friendly website. The better defined your QA process is, the better your website will be.
How do you make a cheeseburger?
- Fry the hamburger meat in a smashed oval, or square, shaped patty, flipping it on both sides until it’s done (the website design and layout)
- Slap the hamburger patty on a hamburger bun – with Miracle Whip and cheese – (the content)
- You might take the time to add the fixings to the hamburger – like onions (forms or applications), pickles (a blog), or ketchup (other bells and whistles) – and check to see that the toppings are on the cheeseburger.
- Wrap it up and give it to your customer (present the finished website to client and release the website to the production stage)
Four steps to make a cheeseburger.
Four semi-defined steps with the QA process and activation dependent entirely on the customer. Because the QA process is dependent on the customer there is not guarantee that it will be executed. If you lead your customers to believe that the QA process is an unnecessary fixing and depending on what that fixing is, it might cost more, then prepare to live with the consequences of those beliefs – over extended budget, higher demand on support resources to fix production site errors and issues, less willingness to actual pay for a process that could save time, money and your customer’s customers, and so much more can be reaped from that disastrous belief.
How do you make nachos?
- Buy tortilla chips and a cheese dip
- Put it in a bowl or serving tray
- Dig in!
Nachos are fun to look at in the beginning, and they might taste very good. But its easy food – easy to buy and easy to forget. There are millions of “nachos” sites. Some don’t even look or smell good. These are cringe worthy sites that I will not waste another sentence on.
Do Not Skip Out on the QA Process!
Don’t even think about!
You! Yes, you in the business suit. You running that awesome, local IT business, down the street from McDonald’s, with your brother and father. You’re the person in charge of it all. When your team properly applies a consistent and detailed QA process into their website development cycle business will be a’ booming!
Because – hey, who needs it?! Everybody! Even “pizza” websites. And you do know that it’s all about pizza, cheeseburgers, and nachos.
Is it lunchtime yet?
Reproductive Diagnostics, Inc. (RDI) was founded in 1984 in Columbus, OH. RDI has established working relationships with multiple physicians and practice in the Columbus and surrounding areas to offer accurate, reliable, high quality andrology testing and services at reasonable prices. RDI employs staff with over 80 years of combined experience in the reproductive industry. All technicians have science or medical background and training, and we look forward to working with you.
Written by Lindsey Richardson, Web Developer
Technology is constantly improving and changing and because of that, so are websites! We have so many different options and technology has developed to Smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers that all come in all different colors, shapes and sizes. With the large variety and evolution of devices we have, if your website is not responsive you might want to consider it.
So what is a responsive website design?
To keep it simple, responsive design is the way the website appears on the device you are using. The website is built to display its content properly on a variety of different devices and orientations. When you open your site on your desktop screen, and let’s say this is a 23” screen, you are going to most likely see a full width image and content across the entire screen. But what if you are on your tablet and only have a screen size of 10”. With a responsive design the website is built to recognize and accommodate to the device you are using.
What are the benefits of responsive design?
That’s easy, you can actually see the information you want to see on any device you may have! So rather than building multiple sites for every screen size out there, one website is built to respond properly for all devices and screen sizes. This is very convenient for visitors because all the information is still in view and the site remains easy to navigate. Although a responsive site may take a little more work to build, with so many devices available it is a must have for websites.
There are endless possibilities you have with responsive website design. Kayla Knight writes “But responsive web design is not only about adjustable screen resolutions and automatically re-sizable images, but rather about a whole new way of thinking about design.” In her article she covers Responsive design, what features it has and what additional ideas are to come.
Contact Robintek today to see what we can do to improve your website and make it responsive!
Check out our newest website design and launch, VEITS Group! This website was built using the WordPress platform, and included custom design elements.
Written by Shawn Tucker, Web Developer
When it comes to building the front end of your website, there’s nothing more important than CSS. CSS is what takes your site from a white page with plain text and transforms it into a beautiful webpage with vibrant colors, font styles, and clever positioning of your content. At its core, CSS is very easy to understand. You add a class to an HTML element, and in your style sheet you can give that element different styles and colors. This is simple enough to understand, but when you dive deeper into CSS you start to run into several more complex problems.
When you first open a blank style sheet you are immediately faced with the first great challenge of CSS. Some immediate questions that will come across your mind are: How do I write these styles in a clean and easy to read way? What sort of naming conventions do I use for my classes? Can I break my classes up into sections so that they are easier to find? How do I order my styles so that they are consistent? CSS is written in a list style format, which makes some of these questions difficult to answer. Answering these questions and sticking to the standards you set make up a huge part of writing good, clean CSS.
As a part of our front end development team at Robintek, I’ve always been interested in answering the questions about naming conventions and grouping classes together. Keeping these questions in mind I started to change the way I think about writing CSS. How can I get the most use on my website out of one class? Is there a smarter way I can group my classes together so that they are easier to find and read? These questions and more led me change the way I write CSS and come up with a new phrase which I like to call “Min-Maxing CSS”.
The term Min-Maxing actually comes from Role Playing games. It’s a strategy of play where a player creates the strongest character possible by optimizing and focusing on the types of traits that make their character powerful. When you apply this term to CSS, you can look at your classes from a broad viewpoint. How can I minimize the use of focused or repetitive classes in favor of broad classes that I can use more frequently on my website? Can I create general and less content specific groups of classes that make my style sheet cleaner and easier to read? These questions are actually easy to answer when you look at your website as a whole instead of focusing only on the page you are working in, or the element you are styling.
The easiest way I’ve been able to start Min-Maxing my CSS is through the use of color. Color is one of the most common styles found in any style sheet. When you look at colors from a more broad perspective, you can usually find many common uses of colors in your design through various fonts and backgrounds. Keeping this in mind you can then create a section of classes in your style sheet for each color you intend to use on your website. These new classes can now be applied on every element of your website that uses those colors. This can save you an average of 3-10 lines of code in your style sheet each time you reuse a class instead of making a new one, saving you potentially hundreds of lines of code.
Writing clean, optimized, and easy to read code is one of the biggest and most important challenges faced by developers. This becomes especially true when writing CSS. Class sheets by their nature are going to be very large, and contain often thousands of lines of code. After all, CSS is what handles all of the styles, colors, and positioning of all elements across your website. Now using the Min-Maxing CSS strategy, you can optimize your style sheets leading you to faster load times, and a better user experience.
Written by Rachel List, Photographer & Designer
“Can I use this picture on my website?”
We get this question all the time from our clients, and the answer depends on the image copyright. Websites today are very visually driven and including compelling photos can help your business gain customers. Making sure that you aren’t infringing on copyright with the photos you use on your site is incredibly important to avoid costly bills and potential lawsuits. Here are some quick tips on determining which photos you can use on your website without committing copyright infringement.
“I took this photo myself, can I use it on my website?”
Copyright for a photo or other creative work is held by the creator of that image or work. If you took the photo, you are the creator and you can use those photos in any way you like.
Did your friend give you permission to use the photo? If they did, then yes you can use the photo on your website. If you want to be completely sure you’re covered ask your friend to give you permission to use the photo in writing.
“I found a photo I like online; can I use it on my website?”
In almost all cases, you can’t just find a photo online and use it on your website because you don’t hold the copyright to that image. This is true for almost all online sources from google to Facebook, and everything in between. Just because someone shares a photo online does not mean that it can be used by anyone. The original creator of the image still retains the copyright and can enforce that copyright, which can result in civil or criminal penalties. There are only three exceptions to images found online being off limits for general use.
- You purchased the image from a stock photography agency online, which specifically sells photos with limited copyright permissions allowing you to use the photo on your website.
- You track down the original creator of the photo that you found online and get written permission to use the photo on your website.
- The image is in the public domain. (There are a lot of rules regarding images in the public domain, which we will address in another article)
“I purchased a photo from a stock agency, can I use it on my website?”
Stock photography agency’s like iStockPhoto or Fotolia are great places to find imagery for your website and you don’t have to worry about copyright infringement because you are purchasing the right to display the image on your website. Each agency has a slightly different policy about usage rights so if you have questions about how you are using an image you can refer to their usage rights policies to make sure you’re in the clear.
“I don’t know where this photo is from, can I use it on my website?”
If you’re unsure where you found a photo and you use it on your website, you could be infringing on copyright and opening yourself up to legal action. It’s better to not use a photo if you’re unsure of where it came from.
In conclusion, when selecting images for your website it is important to know where they came from and make sure you have permission to use the image in order to avoid leaving yourself open to civil or criminal penalties.
Written by Jeremy Jorgenson, CEO
As one of the senior developers at Robintek, one of the things I’m regularly tasked with is to help develop technical project plans and quotes for projects. Most projects start with our marketing team meeting with the project stakeholders, listening to their needs, and then putting together a quote. The quote has to take into account the project complexity, timeline, budget, staff availability, and all sorts of other complicating factors. All of these things are really important, but by far my favorite part of working on project plans is trying to find opportunities to think beyond the problem at hand.
Too often, we as developers want to exist in a binary world. Problem A will be solved by implementing Solution B. The real world almost never works that way. Problem A probably has dozens of possible solutions, each with its own advantages and pitfalls. To narrow the field a bit, we like to present our clients with what we feel are the “good”, “better”, and “best” options. Often we’re able to meet the minimum project requirements with the “good” option, but the “better” and “best” options are more robust solutions.
What I find most helpful about approaching projects this way is that it forces us to look past the needs of the moment. By looking at and discussing the “better” and “best” solutions, we’re able to anticipate what needs may come up down the road. I often think of this in terms of a home constructions analogy. If you’re building a single story ranch house, but in the future you’re going to add an Olympic sized indoor swimming pool, you’ll probably pour the foundation a little differently.
Often, our clients opt to go with the “good” solution, and that’s fine. Not everyone needs an Olympic sized indoor swimming pool… but if we can lay the foundation for the pool without any additional time or expense, most people start making plans to do some laps.