Everything listed under: Letters

  • SEO Friendly CMS?

    Do you have an SEO friendly CMS? In other words, does your content management system (website editor) quickly and easily allow you to implement search engine optimization on your website? Besides that, there are many other important "SEO friendly" features and benefits that a great CMS should have. Our CMS has them all.

    Even if you don't choose our CMS for your website editor, this list will help you in deciding what to look for in your next content management system:

    1. HTML Control: Does your CMS allow you to view and edit the HTML on your website? It should. This is where you can place codes for things such as Google Analytics in order to follow and analyze your website's success online. This also allows for "cleaner" code, making it easier for the search engines to index your website.

    2. URL Control: A good CMS should allow you to have complete control over all naming conventions on your website. Our CMS allows you to name each page according to your design. No automatically generated page names here. You name it all.

    3. Speed & Quality: Is your CMS attached to a great hosting solution? The response time of your website can determine the overall quality and site speed. This is definitely a ranking factor - the faster the site, the less of a problem search engines are going to have placing your website before others in search results. All our websites are hosted at a Tier Four Data Center in Dallas, TX. It's one of the most state of the art facilities of its kind.

    4. 301 Redirects: If you delete or add new pages, change URLs or even just redesign your entire website, that can potentially leave search engines with a whole lot of old web addresses that don't go anywhere. This is bad for your SEO. Our CMS allows you to quickly and easily create 301 redirects. This lets you forward the old web address to the new one. In other words, if one of your old pages was www.mywebsite.com/awesome.html and the new page is www.mywebsite.com/just-awsome, then you would be able to set that forward up in about 6 seconds.

    5. Sitemaps: A great CMS will auto-generate a sitemap for your website. A sitemap is kind of a one stop shop for search engines and users to find what they are looking for on your website. A sitemap allows your entire website to be accessible from one page. Our CMS auto-generates sitemaps based on the way you have set up your website.

    6. Meta Control: Our CMS allows you to edit your meta data (title, description, keywords) on a per-page basis. This is extremely powerful, convenient, and simple. It's one of the most important things a CMS should be able to do. Sadly, not all of them out there can do this for you.

    7. Blog Feature: Want a blog, podcast, company calendar or news section? That's great. Search engines absolutely love blogs. Our CMS allows you to easily set up as many blogs as you want, tie them in with each other for a master blog, or even have separate blogs on every page, controlled by different users. The possibilities are endless. Most people choose to just have one blog, but sometimes one is just not enough. Our CMS Blog features auto archiving, tagging, tag clouds and pagination. It's simple and incredibly easy to use.

    8. RSS Feeds: A blog wouldn't be "whole" if it didn't have an RSS feed that people could subscribe to. Our CMS is XML and RSS friendly. In fact, any blog you set up on our system automatically generates an RSS feed that people can subscribe to through their browser. You don't have to do one thing to set this up. Of course, if you want to customize your RSS feed on Google's Feedburner, you're more than welcome to. Like most things on our CMS, it's customizable.

    Have any questions about our CMS or more details on SEO-friendly features? Leave a comment below or contact us.

     

     
  • Top 10 Reasons for Website Failure

    In our experience, the following problems are the most common culprits of website failure. These are issues that many of our clients had before deciding to hire us to redesign or take over their websites. Keep these problems in mind when either developing a website on your own or hiring someone else to do it for you!
     

    1. No Purpose

    A website that has no clearly defined purpose will often fail dramatically. Make sure your website has an obvious reason to exist. If you try to make your website into too many different things, you'll lose your target audience. Have an overall objective or subject with your website and stick to it.
     

    2. No Specific Demographic

    It's that old adage, "If you try to please everyone, you'll end up pleasing no one." Don't only define your audience through your website content - alienate everyone that is not your audience.
     

    3. Wrong Demographic

    Do some research. Who will be interested in this website and its content? Once you find that out, write specifically for that audience. They are the people you are interested in and want to focus on - no one else.
     

    4. Bad Design

    People relate to visuals. If they think a website is unprofessional, does not match the content, or is just plain bad, they'll press the infamous 'back' button before they even read the headline. Make sure a website is designed professionally.
     

    5. Wrong Design

    Don't have your website designed for you. Have it designed for your target demographic. Unless it's your personal website or blog, having pictures of your favorite pet, images of your face all over the website, or polka dots (just because you like them) is probably not a good idea if you want to attract visitors.
     

    6. Inconsistency

    Everything must be consistent. Your content, your subject matter, the website layout and imagery should all flow with each other to make a concise message that is easy to understand by the viewer. Don't confuse people by including random content or imagery in your website.
     

    7. No SEO

    Many companies and individuals underestimate the need for search engine optimization (SEO) on their websites. Don't make the mistake that your demographic will somehow find your website anyway, or that word of mouth will make your website a success by itself. It won't. SEO is an absolute necessity for any website struggling for not only more visitors, but the right visitors.
     

    8. Update Your Website

    Always update your website as frequently as possible. If you have a blog, we recommend updating it at least once per week. This allows the website to stay fresh in the search engines as well as to your viewers. The more new content for search engines and people to munch on, the better.
     

    9. Lack of Content

    Don't just title a page and write a few sentences. Your website needs lots of rich, relevant content in order to attract visitors and search engines. You don't have to write a novel, but a good number to stay around is 800 words per page. Many times this doesn't seem possible, especially for resource pages where all you may want is a list of links to other sites. If this is the case, try to write a few sentences about each link or resource. The more content, the better. Remember: content is king.
     

    10. Browser Compatibility

    Make sure that your website works in other web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Opera, etc). If it doesn't, the visitor you've just brought to your website via search engines or from giving them your URL will not be able to see your website. It can be even worse when they go to your website and see a broken website where the layout and content is askew. This makes you look unprofessional at best, incompetent at worst. Make sure to hire a web design company that ensures browser compatibility*.

    * Some browsers are just bad. For example, Internet Explorer 6 is known to create numerous and horrific problems for websites. While some problems cannot be solved, your web designer/developer should at least be aware that the problem exists.
     

    Questions, comments? Feel free to leave them below.

     

     
  • Top 10 Reasons to get a Website

    Website DesignIn light of today's level of technology & communication (and of course the economy), we thought we'd share a top ten list with you regarding why it's so important to have a website if you are a small business, entrepreneur, artist, job seeker - anything, really. All sales talk aside and in all seriousness - you really can't afford not to have a website. Here's why:

    10. Cost Effective Advertising: you don't have to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to advertise your products or services on your website, unlike paying for an ad in the yellow pages, newspaper, direct mail, TV or even radio.

    9. Online Selling: sell your products or services on your website. Easily set up an online store that you can update, change and reorder to your heart's content.

    8. Location, Location, Location: you can set your website up to be "located" anywhere you want. Using search engine optimization techniques, you can target your city, your entire state, or even the entire world. A website increases your geographic range.

    7. Awesome Versatility: a website can be a business website, an online store, an artist portfolio, a gallery, a resume, or even an educational website. A website can be whatever you want it to be.

    6. Marketing Tool: a website is one of the cheapest and most effective forms of marketing your products or services. It can greatly increase your customer base in  ways that networking, cold calling or having a brick-and-mortar location simply can't.

    5. Communication: Make announcements, post some news, start discussions and even get feedback from your customers. Used in tandem with Twitter and Facebook, your sales, announcements, news and press releases will go much, much further than printing out a few hundred fliers.

    4. Be Findable: A website can help potential customers or other interested parties find you. If a customer finds you online before they find another local service, they're most likely to choose you. If your competition doesn't have a website, this gives you a huge advantage.

    3. Create a brand: With a website, you can completely control your brand and the experience potential customers or users will have when they visit. You can define your target demographic in a way that no other form of marketing can by attracting the specific types of people you want.

    2. First Impressions: In any interaction having to do with people, first impressions are made in a matter of seconds. With a website you can control what that first impression is down to the tiniest detail. The best websites take advantage of this.

    1. It's Always On: Unlike any other kind of advertising, marketing or PR, a website is always available to the public. Visitors can be attracted to your website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. For the cost of designing and developing a website and minimal hosting charges, that kind of advertising is priceless - and that's why it's our number one reason why you should have a website.

    Questions? Comments? Don't hesitate to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading!

     

     
  • Web Design vs Web Development

    Web Design vs Web DevelopmentTime to time we have to explain the difference between web design (front end) and web development (back end). While the answer is readily available to anyone with the question and a search engine, most folks don't even know to ask it.

    Web design refers to the process of designing a website or template that includes all of the graphic and visual elements you see on any given website. Web designers are also sometimes called "front end developers". The design can be created using a graphics program such as Adobe Photoshop, or many other graphics-oriented programs available on the market today. The design provides the framework for the look and feel of a website and visually communicates information and branding. Layout, navigation, visual hierarchy, color scheme, depth, dimension and tone are all terms well known to a good, professional web designer.

    It is important to remember that many web designers are actual designers, whereas not many designers are actually web designers. Why? Because some coding is required in order to call oneself a web designer. Firstly, you have to know how to implement or manipulate HTML. Secondly, you must know CSS. The "web 2.0" look that we mentioned in our last blog post completely relies on this advent. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is the revolutionary industry standard at this point, and should be required when it comes to designing websites.

    Beyond innovative graphics, layout, HTML and CSS, we start to venture into developer land. This is where we start to see Javascript, AJAX, Flash (designer/developers combos in their own right) and an understanding of PHP and MySQL. This is the gray area between designing and developing. It is not uncommon to meet a front-end web developer that is comfortable with Javascript and a little AJAX and Flash. They might even have a small understanding of what PHP and MySQL are capable of, but beyond that, they're worthless in the database area. (Probably because the concept of manipulating databases bores them to tears).

    Web development is typically used to described the programming required to construct the "back end" of a website. The back end is the area of the site that isn't seen by visitors, but which does the work required in order to present the right information in the correct format to the visitors. Web development is used to describe any database-driven web designs using dynamic scripting languages like PHP, ASP, ASP.NET, Coldfusion and sometimes Java and AJAX. Web development also covers database design and development using MySQL.

    As you can see, these are two completely different areas of expertise. It is the difference between Architecture and Interior Design, Art and Physics. You might find someone out there that can do it all, but watch out: they might just be far better at one than they are at the other.

    For all the web designers out there looking for work, it is unfair to expect them to know everything about everything. An award-winning web designer should not be expected to also be an expert in ASP, PHP and MySQL. Likewise, a web developer should not be expected to be a Photoshop guru. It's just unrealistic. Like we said, there's definitely a gray area between the two functions - but let's face it: there is a huge difference between front-end web design and back-end web development. You wouldn't want your interior designer to lay the foundation for your new house, would you? In most cases the answer would be a resounding "no".

    Have any questions, comments, or hatemail? Send us your thoughts in the comments below or shoot us an email. Thanks for reading!

     

     
  • What is Web 2.0?

    What is Web 2.0?Officially, web 2.0 is the perceived second generation of web development that aims to facilitate communication, information sharing, interoperability, and collaboration. Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities, hosted services, and applications; such as social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies like Digg and Delicious.

    As a leading Dallas web design company, we find that we are constantly barraged with clients asking for a web 2.0 look. Sometimes after designing beautifully complex and graphically innovative website concepts, we get the response, "make it more web 2.0". This can be frustrating to us. Web 2.0 was, is and always will be functionality; a turn in technology - not design. Web 3.0 won't be the next design trend or layout fad. It will be the next level of usability, functionality, and technology on the internet.

    At first we tried to fight this misconception by clarifying the meaning of web 2.0 to clients and designers alike. After many frustrating conversations, we found that we were fighting a losing battle. Apparently when clients want "web 2.0", they want the current design fad seen on many designer's portfolios today. This design fad is centered, fixed, uses large text, minimal design, uses large amounts of negative space and usually has equal, centrally oriented columns. This design trend has become so commonplace that it has been mistakenly coined "web 2.0" to the design laymen. And it seems that talentless web designers are more than happy to accommodate this unreality.

    Don't get us wrong - this is an actual style that can be used to great effect in a great many cases. In other cases, however, it is copied, templated and used over and over in the web design world to recycle the same old look, again and again, client after client. With good branding, a "web 2.0" styled website can be very effective. Twitter is a good example of this - it has both actual web 2.0 functionality as well as the supposed web 2.0 style. Simplicity at its best. Unfortunately, when a data and information driven website wants to be "web 2.0" it doesn't work well. They end up with template-like sites that have very little in the way of design, and just end up looking like information soup, with a bold looking logo slapped on the top. Not very effective.

    Here at Arora Designs, we're not "web 2.0" designers. Not at heart, at least. We find it difficult to reign ourselves in enough to showcase a minimalist design. While many of our websites have "web 2.0" style qualities, we tend to showcase "the pixel" more often than not. But, like anything in the design world, it is subjective and relative. Even this website could be called web 2.0 given the right (or wrong) perspective.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And unfortunately, the beholder is more often than not in love with overused template websites that were designed with little to no creativity. The old story about the bridge comes to mind - and everyone seems to be jumping.

     

     
  • Design Crowdsourcing

    Design Crowdsourcing

    As many of you know, there has been a rise in crowdsourcing websites such as 99designs that allows a designer or design company to compete in contests for web design, logo design, brand stationery, tshirts, and more. These are not typical contests mind you, they are set up on any given crowdsourcing website by actual companies and individuals in need of design services. These companies or individuals may need a logo, a website template, a t-shirt, or some other type of brand collateral. Many of these individual contests feature literally hundreds of designers clamoring for the winning spot.

    For many freelance or beginning designers, this may seem like a dream come true. In many ways, they've found a place where they don't have to wait for clients - they are readily available and spelling out exactly what they want done. Even to an experienced designer, a crowdsourcing website may be just what the doctor ordered for an in-between project design fix with a possibility of cash.

    There are many good things about these crowdsourcing websites - a designer can design for whatever client they want, when they want, based on the type of project they are interested in at that moment in time. The designer also gets lots of practice designing for a variety of different projects that, winning or not, can still be added to personal or company portfolios. This type of design experience can be invaluable to many designers that are trying to grow their versatility or hone their specific style.

    Unfortunately, these crowdsourcing websites may also be the worst thing to ever happen to the design profession and community. AIGA (the American Institute for Graphic Arts) is currently fighting the very concept of design crowdsourcing, saying that it is against everything the institute has been fighting for and has believed in for decades. AIGA has been fighting for designer rights, pay rate and respect ever since its creation in 1914. Currently, AIGA has more than 22,000 members nationwide.

    Instead of hiring a designer (short or long term) for design projects and paying them for comps, revisions, and final outputs, companies are now able to use these crowdsourcing websites to pay a fraction of the cost for design services that it would in normal circumstances, in return for literally hundreds of designers to supply them with free design comps and their associated revisions.

    In AIGA's opinion, this hurts the entire design community by creating a system where the designers work for free. Worse, many new or "green" designers don't know any better and are needlessly throwing away hours of work and buckets of cash that they have earned because companies want free design services. These companies are (understandably) taking advantage of new technologies - but design crowdsourcing has proven only to undermine an entire profession and industry.

    Sure, it feels good to win a contest. If a person was to win a contest out of hundreds of other designers, it makes them feel good about themselves, simple as that. But you won't find experienced, professional designers spending more than a few minutes on a logo or website for a contest on a crowdsourcing website. No way, no how. They're designers by trade, and they should get paid for what they do.

     

     
  • No Contracts, No Hassles

    No Contracts

    Here at Arora Designs, we don't believe in hassling our clients with extended, time-based contracts (or contracts of any kind, really). We don't think it's fair to our clients if they are locked in to any kind of long-term arrangement with us. We want our clients to feel they are with us because they want to be with us - not because they're forced to for any amount of time. 

    Our peers do not agree with us. They think it's a bad business decision, and that we are giving up on basic-level protections and financial stability. We don't think so. If you're a client of ours, you can upgrade or downgrade your website plan at any time without ever having to contact us. You can cancel whenever you want. It's all up to you - you're in complete control. 

    Part of this disagreement between us and other web design companies might be that they don't have a product that they believe in as much as we do. We know that this sounds very presumptuous of us, but we really do believe in our products and services enough to let term contracts go out the window. We know from experience that our clients will stay with us if they can. If they can't, that most likely means they are going through a more difficult financial time, and we completely understand and support their decision to put their online advertising on hold for however long it takes for them to feel comfortable again.

    Of course, there are always clients who want a contract to feel safer. These contracts don't lock our clients in to time-based agreements either. They simply spell out what we'll do, and how much it is. Some of our clients need this in order to feel safe dealing with any kind of company - especially after getting burned in the past. We don't blame them. We'll create a contract if they ask us to - whatever it takes for there to be trust and integrity from the start.

    Putting our clients in control of their Arora Designs products and services creates immediate trust between us and our clients. To us, there's simply no other way to do business. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to contact us or leave a comment below.

    Thanks,
    Arora Designs

     

     
  • Is Pay-Per-Click Worth It?

    PPC CampaignMany of our clients have asked us if they should start a pay-per-click campaign such as those sold by Google Adwords. It's quite a loaded question and we often can't answer it in simple black and white terms. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you start a pay-per-click campaign (PPC):

    1. Do you have a niche business, or niche product to sell? If you plan to use your PPC campaign to simply advertise your business, stop right there. PPC ads do best only when they have extremely specific products to sell or a business niche to advertise. As it is with general SEO (search engine optimization), you are competing against hundreds and thousands of other advertisers for any given geographic area. Do yourself a favor and get specific - very specific. Instead of "We sell vacuums", you might want to say something like "We sell bagless vacuums with hypoallergenic filters".

    2. Do you have patience? PPC at the best of times can be slow-going. When it comes to search engine advertising, organic search results from search engine optimization makes up 75% of all clicks. Only 25% of clicks go to the ads above and to the right side of Google search results. If you're SEO isn't working, or it is working and you just want that extra 25% chance of clicks, be our guest and try out a PPC campaign.

    3. Test, Test, Test. If you do decide to start a PPC campaign for your business, make sure you watch it very closely to make sure your ROI (return on investment) is worth it. Obviously if you are spending more than you are making, it's not worth it. Test different ads within your campaign to see which gets the most clicks. Then, of the popular ads, see which one is actually converting into calls and emails from leads.

    We ourselves have tried PPC campaign advertising, but in the end we decided it just wasn't worth it. The SEO that we implement is much cheaper to test, and the chance of clicks is much, much higher. We do launch an occasional campaign though - not to gain leads, but to test if our landing pages, content etc are working. Combined with Google Analytics, it's a tool that often gives us insight into how users view our website.

    In the end, we'd conclude that there is no simple answer. Every business is different and has different products or services. Every business has different budgets for ad campaigns such as this. Our official advice would be to do as much reading as you can, and decide whether to test it out or not. And of course, be sure to start small. Good luck!

     
  • A Letter To Our Clients

    Here at Arora Designs, we know that we are not successful unless you are successful. When we design your website or optimize your website for search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing, we are customizing our services to fit your business and your customers - ethically and responsibly. We don't believe in quick fixes or shortcuts to success. We will care for your business as if it was our own.

    That's our guarantee.

     
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