What is Responsive Design?

what is responsive design

More people are accessing the internet on their mobile devices than ever before. Whether you have a website or a WordPress blog (or both), it is absolutely vital in this day and age that your site looks consistent (and fantastic) on all devices.

Responsive Design is a relatively new concept that refers to building a website so it provides the most optimal user experience on various screen sizes, devices and orientations.

Think about how important this is. You have no idea where your next potential customer is going to be viewing your site. Will he be in his office on a 21 inch monitor? Will she be laying in bed with her 10 inch tablet? Or will he be on the road with his cell phone?

No matter where they are or what device they are looking at, your site must come across consistently, professional and easy to use.

Still not clear about responsive design? View our site and all devices and you’ll get it.

Is your site optimized for all devices? If not, just give us a shout and we’ll be glad to help.

Social Media Madness

social media madness

How do you keep it all straight?

If you are a business owner, which social media platforms to you jump on and which ones to you bypass?

If you are a web design company (cough, cough), which platforms to you offer to manage for your clients and which ones do you not offer.

We can’t afford to waste our time learning a new platform if it might not stick around. But then if it does turn out to be huge, we’re behind the eight ball.

As of right now, there are only two platforms that every business needs to be be a part of. No secrets here…they are Facebook and Twitter.

But I am sensing a Facebook backlash. There’s no rule that says it must stay popular. Does MySpace ring a bell? Will it still be here five years from now? Most likely, yes, but it is not a given.

Twitter is here to stay. There is nothing else like it on the market…from a technology, sociability and usability standpoint.

And what to make of the new kid on the block, Pinterest? Yeah, it’s kinda cool and kinda different. But will it have lasting power?

Looking for answers? I can’t offer any.

We’ll just keep spinning our wheels.

Why WordPress is Better

new jersey wordpress company

No…this is not going to be another post comparing the features of WordPress, Joomla and Drupal with fancy charts and graphs, as we spew our expertise on all things CMS.

The web is already littered with those posts.

But I will say this. At Altera Web, a New Jersey web design company, we’ve worked with all three content management systems. And from a development point of view, the learning curve is much, much steeper with Joomla and Drupal.

Which would be fine if the benefits far outweighed those of WordPress. But for 95% of our clients, WordPress is more than sufficient.

It is not only more than sufficient, it rocks!

It has come a far way in the past few years, from a blogging only platform to a full-fledged CMS.

Are there things that can be improved with WordPress?

Absolutely.

The WordPress editor could be much better.

You should easily be allowed to use whatever widget you want on whatever page you want without digging too deep into the PHP code.

But all in all, it delivers what we need without the unnecessary complexity of other CMS’.

And this simplicity is passed along to our customers.

Everybody wins. Isn’t that nice?

So You Want to be a Web Designer?

bucks county web designer

You’re young. You’re recently out of college. Your job prospects look bleak. You’re getting frustrated.

And then one day, you say “I think I’ll be a web designer“.

Hey…it can happen. My path is somewhat similar.

So my question to you is: What makes you think you can be a great web designer?

And if you’re not going to be great, don’t bother entering the field. It’s too competitive and already saturated with top talent.

But if you think you can indeed be great, here are the skills I would focus on:

  • Design: I know that sounds obvious. But you need to have a phenomenal sense of what works and what doesn’t. Especially when it comes to web design. Do I think you need a four year degree from a top design school? No. But you better be able to recognize and produce exceptional designs.
  • HTML: At the end of the day, browsers display HTML code. It may start as PHP or .NET or some other server side language. But you better know HTML really, really well.
  • CSS: This keeps the design separate from the content and is where you can get very creative.
  • PHP: I would focus on PHP over .NET to start. It’s more commonly used. You  do not need to be an expert coder, but you should be able to recognize what the code is doing.
  • Javascript: Same as PHP. Understand the syntax of the language.
  • Photoshop: You and Photoshop will be best friends as you spend your days together. Learn it.
  • WordPress: Clients these days want the ability to update their own sites. WordPress is the most popular CMS on the market today.
  • Customer Service: This is how you can stand apart from your competition. You better service the heck out of your clients or they will go some place else.

So…do you still want to be a web designer?

Do I Still Need a Website?

do-i-need-a-website

I know what you’re thinking…

“It’s 2012. Why do I need a website for my business? I’ve got Facebook. I’ve got Twitter. I’ve got Pinterest. I’ve got Tumblr. I’ve got YouTube. There are tons of ways to promote my business without absorbing the time and the cost of building a website.”

Well, not to get all Chandler Bing-ish, but you couldn’t be more wrong.

Here’s why.

  • Your website is “your” store front. YOU own it. You can’t say that about any of the other sites. I know you can’t imagine it, but one day Facebook may turn into MySpace. And then what happens? Your traffic plummets on your Facebook page. There is no law that says any of these other sites need to stay popular forever. You need something that is 100% in your control.
  • How can you show your unique voice when your social networking pages look pretty much like everyone else’s? You need something that represents you…whatever that may be.
  • You set the rules on your own site. Those other sites? They can take you down whenever they please and all of your data goes with it. Why?
  • Because they own your data. That’s right. Everything you or your “friends” put on your social networking sites is owned by those sites.
  • You want to get in the search engines? Of course you do. While some of those other sites may have some search-ability, you are very limited in what you can optimize for.
  • You want a forum on your site? A blog? E-commerce? You need your own site.
  • It’s expected of you to have your own site. Period. Not having a website means you will not be taken seriously.

This list just scratches the surface. But you get the point.

Oh, and by the same token, the days of having ONLY a website are also coming to an end. You need Facebook. You need Twitter. It’s a constant cycle of build and promote.

And those that do it right are the ones that will thrive in this ungodly competitive marketplace.

How Much Does a Website Cost to Build?

how much does a website cost

It’s a question we get here at Altera Web (a Philadelphia area web design company) all the time.

Somebody will call us or email us and simply ask “How much does a website cost to build?

It’s a valid question, because if we did not know too much about the website business, it’s one of the first things we’d ask as well.

And to that we ask (to ourselves of course)…

How much does a house cost?

How much does a car cost?

How much does a new suit cost?

How much does a loaf of bread cost?

Our point? It all depends.

Some of our competitors offer $500 websites but with lots of limitations.

This is not in your best interest. What you need is a website that will work for your business. One that will increase your traffic and bring in new customers.

In other words, you need a website that will increase your company’s value.

Otherwise, what’s the pointing of having one?

Finally…an automatic WordPress backup solution that works

wordpress backup solution

Here’s how it usually works when trying to find a solution to back up your WordPress website or WordPress blog.

Trial…error.

Trial…error.

Trial…error.

Ok. You get the point.

At Altera Web, a Philadelphia web agency, we have tried pretty much every WordPress backup solution on the market.

First, we tried the free plugins. All I’ll say is that they are free for a reason.

Either they weren’t dependable. Or they only backed up the site pages and not the database. Or they backed up the database, but not the plugins. Or they backed up the plugins, but not the images.

So free is out.

Then after much, much research, we came upon Blog Vault. And we exhaled.

Why the praise?

  • You get a 30 day free trial. And I mean free. They don’t even ask for a credit card and you can back up multiple sites.
  • You can back up multiple WordPress sites from one dashboard.
  • It backs up EVERYTHING (database, files, themes, plugins, images, comments, etc.).
  • It stores your data on their servers (Amazon S3) so you don’t need to worry about keeping things local.
  • It encrypts the data so it’s safe.
  • It allows you to easily restore your site.
  • It allows you to change hosts very easily.
  • Lastly, they are affordable.
Check them out and if you have any WordPress needs, give us a shout.

 

7 Reasons Why SEO is So Hard

why is seo so hard

SEO is difficult. I don’t think that’s any big secret.

But why? Why is SEO so hard?

Why can’t there just be a to-do list that you follow which will result in higher rankings?

Well…let us count the ways:

  1. Nobody knows how the search engines work. Their algorithms are completely unknown, so unless you are a Google Engineer (and if you are…let’s talk), there are no set standards to follow.
  2. Lots and lots of people are doing what you’re doing. Many people ignore SEO or get it completely wrong. But many more people get it right. And these people are your competition. So even if you do great SEO, somebody else could be doing it better.
  3. The algorithms frequently change. So not only do you really not know how the SEO algorithms work, just when you may have figured some things out, they change. You can be on page one today and page nowhere tomorrow.
  4. They are built to reward the best. For the most part, those companies that put in the greater effort get rewarded with higher rankings. And that’s exactly the way it should be.
  5. There are no magic bullets. There are over one hundred different SEO items that need to be tackled as part of an SEO program. And while some have greater weight than others, there is no ONE thing that will help you.
  6. It’s time consuming. Our SEO Program is a six month program. A lot of people try for a few months, don’t get the results they want and give up. You must be patient and persistent.
  7. It takes a lot of different skill sets. Effective SEO means your site must have a good design; it must be well written; it must be coded properly; it must be organized efficiently; it must be linked to from other sites.

SEO is achievable. Your can get on page one.

But only the strong survive.