Thursday, September 1, 2011

Web Maintenance Packages: Less Money and More Value than a Website Redesign

Most organizations can’t support a healthy website

We all know that having a fresh, relevant website is important.

But if your organization is like most, you don’t have the resources to:

  • create content

  • format pages

  • start social media campaigns

  • optimize web pages

  • provide design enhancements

  • upgrade technology

Most organizations can’t support a healthy website. So what do they do? They opt for an expensive website redesign. It’s got bells, it’s got whistles, hell it’s got one of those font size adjusters. But are they really solving their problem? In less than two months, their site will have the same press releases, the same Facebook statuses, the same tweets, the same feature articles. People will get sick and tired of clicking that font adjuster button. Remember, most organizations can’t support a healthy website. A redesign is a Band-Aid for a larger problem. It buys you time. It also costs you a lot of money and resources to get up and running. And for what? Two months of, “Dude, awesome site!”

But that’s not a good reason not to have a healthy website

Let’s take a different angle at the issue. If you could take the cost of a typical high-end website (let’s say 20k) and divide that by 24 (the recommended shelf life of a website is 18-24 months) you would have $833.33. If you now invested that $833.33 each month for 24 months into valuable website enhancements, I can guarantee (assuming your vendor is reputable) your website will have the following:

  • More visitors to your site (return and new)

  • Formatted web pages

  • Fresh social media content

  • Professional imagery for your articles and web pages

  • A working search engine

  • An intuitive navigation that is user centric

  • A site map (imagine that)

  • Higher search engine rankings

$833.33 will get you a bit more than 8 hours of service a month. A web design company can do a lot in 8 hours. Your site will always be fresh, relevant and impactful for every one of your visitors. You’ll never have that worried feeling that a potential client is judging your website. You’ll be proud of it. You’ll know it is completely relevant. You won’t care that it doesn’t have a font adjuster.

A few more benefits of a website maintenance plan:

  • you are assigned a team

  • you get monthly reports

  • you receive cost savings on your vendors existing products and services

To learn more contact me at or call me at 410-740-9181

Mark Cyphers, President
DC Web Designers

Thursday, July 29, 2010

3 Website Upgrades Your Company Should Look At...

Advanced Search

With the advances in web searchability and navigation systems the patience of web users is at an all-time low. If your organization is using an out-dated keyword search that delivers a long mess of somewhat useless results, here are some affordable upgrades:

Find As You Type - The system populates common search phrases, based upon what the user types (you’ve probably have seen this on Google). We have recently integrated an additional feature to this functionality. In addition to the key word or key phrase hints, the system also tells you how many results your search will return. This is a great feature if you’re performing a general or specific search. See an example at (search box is in the top right corner).

Taxonomy or Subject Tagging - This is a must-have feature for websites that are very dense in content. Here’s how it works: when you create a web page in the Content Management System, you can assign it subject tags. When a user wants to search for content they simply select the subject (along with any keywords) for a very specific subset of related content. In addition, you can tag any content type – video, audio, documents, web pages, events, news, and job opportunities, etc. See an example at

Advanced Document Library

Sitemaps are a great way to see the big picture of a website's architecture and web page layout. However, most sitemaps don't show users a directory of documents they can find and view on the website. An advanced document library corrects this problem by providing a sensible, tree-structured sitemap of a website's documents. The value of this functionality can be seen here:

Media Module

We are seeing a major shift in how web users surf for material: studies show that video will soon account for 90% of all Internet traffic. In addition, video and podcasts are great opportunities for Search Engine Optimization. Each video file can be optimized using meta data, title, description, and keywords. Most video platforms are built on the web 2.0 framework, allowing other users to rate, comment, and embed your video on their website. In turn, this offers even more exposure to your organization's content. See an example of our latest Media Module at

Call 410-750-6499 to learn more about upgrading your current website capabilities.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Benefits of Social Networking for Business

It’s Free

Why would a business create a Facebook page, or Tweet about a new project? Executives over the age of thirty might not understand this purpose, but the concept is actually quite simple. It’s free, it’s an advertising medium in which you have the full attention of current and potential clients.

It’s a numbers game
Social Networking allows your organization to create an online network that increases in size with little effort (although more effort certainly pays better dividends). People want to share information with their networks; if your organization offers valuable information your clients will pass it along. The results are new leads and relationships that cannot be obtained using any other advertising medium. The current culture shift is one that leverages communication, interaction, and collaboration. Social networking sites provide the ideal platform to build and grow these profound capabilities.

You get personal
Although social networking platforms are not quite a networking meeting, they are the next closest thing. In many ways they are even more effective. Instead of passing out business cards, you can create dialogue, and continue an on- going correspondence with individuals or groups. These conversations can be public or private based on the nature of the topic. Social networking also allows others to see the personal side of your business. By showing pictures, creating more relaxed content, or writing blogs with a humorous undertone, you can provide your network with a taste of your company’s personality. Most corporate websites do not show this side of their business for fear of looking unprofessional or disreputable.

It’s a culture change, not a fad
Social networking cannot be dismissed as a blip on the Internet radar – we are experiencing a culture change in its infancy. Companies who pioneered in accepting interaction, collaboration, and communication within thier company Intranets, saw better employees, products, productivity, leaders, and group participation. We are watching leaders grow, employees participate, and quiet cultures contribute.

It makes you cool
That’s right. You’ll be cool.

Better Google rankings
Google loves content, and if you are writing content related to your industry you’ll be bettering your chances to get ranked higher. A simple monthly blog adds twelve pages of industry related content to your website a year. I could provide many more examples of this principle, but I’m hoping you’ll call us to hear more.

It’s easy
We can get you set up with a social networking plan, manage your accounts, and provide reporting on the benefits it has created for your business. Call me at 410-750-6499, or visit my Facebook page!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Target Marketing for the Web

From the smallest online brochure, to the largest social networking website, indentifying a website's target market is a crucial part of your business plan. The most successfull websites put their effort into reaching a very specific target market, without ignoring the rest of their potential users.

What is a Target Market?

The traditionally accepted definition of a Target Market is "A specific group of consumers at which a company aims its products and services". Can these same time-honored business principles apply to today’s emerging web platform? Absolutely.

A target market for the web is your main audience, or a new group of visitors to drive to your website. If you know your target market up front, you will be able to tailor your internet marketing plan to maximize your return on investment, or ROI. In everyday terms, it’s “the most bang for your buck" methodology.

Categories to consider when defining your target market:
- Age Groups
- Genders
- Nationalities or Ethnicities
- Income Levels
- Married or Single
- Eduacation Levels
- Location
- Social groups
- Interests

After identifying the target market for your site, specific marketing tactics can be formed based. These are based on the users’ influences and behaviors as consumers. Not only will this save you time and money, but the results will speak for themselves.

Please contact DC Web Designers for more information regarding these critical strategies. 410-750-6499

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Web 2.0, Creating a Culture Change

Social software, the platform for Web 2.0 is growing at a rate of 43% per year. Forrester predicts that $4.5 billion will be spent by 2013, and the business executives are scrambling to understand what it is and its significance in the workplace and our culture.

The term Web 2.0 was coined by Tim O’Reilly. “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as a platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.”

That definition leaves a lot up for interpretation. At DC Web Designers we believe Web 2.0 to be a platform that allows users to benefit and participate in the sharing of ideas, building communities, and a faster method of retrieving information. Users do so through websites offering social networking, web-based communities and forums, wikis, blogs, etc. This “collective intelligence” is structuring what was unstructured and fragmented information spread throughout the web.

We aren’t witnessing a huge technology breakthrough with Web 2.0. Most of the functionality that drives Web 2.0 has been seen for a decade. It is how people are using the technology, and how they are interacting is what changed. The more web sites embrace empowering their users, the more successful they are. Web 2.0 offers freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly. The sites restricting these basic democratic rights are losing because offering the ability to group masses of likeminded people are creating smarter systems and process than anyone person could ever achieve.

Business owners who feared unmonitored masses communicating within their web space are seeing shocking results from community based sites who embraced it. You can see examples of this through the Wiki phenomenon. Wiki, is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content (taken directly from Wikipedia). To most business owners, this philosophy seems like it would foster destructive and useless input, however we have seen that the community of users catch malicious content and correct it.
We are witnessing a culture change on a global level. The behaviors of Internet users are creeping into the workplace, promoting positive change.

Whether it is on the Internet or in a board meeting, organizations that are empowering employees are finding work forces that are optimistic, engage in debate and collaboration, and create high-trust transparent working relationships. The effect of Web 2.0 is a global change in behavior. People are fearless and are willing to engage with co-workers, customers, vendors, and executives to find solutions and create systems that are for the good of the whole.
Web 2.0 behaviors can be leveraged within the enterprise for more efficient knowledge collaboration. For instance, Web 2.0 communities can be used for new product feedback, which shortens product development time. Targeted blogging can influence public opinion about your organization’s brand and image. Semantic tagging can increase the navigation of informational searching.

According to the Forrester paper Social Computing Dresses Up For Business, enterprise Web 2.0 can improve five important business activities:

- Content creation and publishing
- Team co-ordination
- Proactive information delivery
- Information location
- Communities of interest

What will Web 3.0 bring? As the business owner of an Internet Solution Provide company, I can’t make guarantees. Still, I see a continuation of Web 2.0 technologies being leveraged with current practices such as polling, user profiling, data mining and Artificial Intelligence.

To learn more about Web 2.0 innovations such as blogging, discussion boards, RSS, and Wiki, please call DC Web Designers at 410-750-6499.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Preparing Your Company For A Website Project

Your website project will require you to do some upfront work in order to be armed with the necessary tools to execute a smooth project process.

Your responsibility starts with understanding the purpose of your website. Is your website used as a sales tool, an information resource, an online store…etc? Once you understand the purpose, we can begin working on the strategy and identify the elements to bring it to fruition.

Since each project is unique, and preparation will vary, we’ll stick to the basics.

  1. Understand the services – It is important that you and your organization get a clear understanding of our services. We will certainly do our best to educate you during our initial conversations, but you’ll need to make a conscious effort to understand the depth and scope of the services we offer. In addition, by understanding our services, you’ll feel more comfortable speaking with us regarding our recommendations, and how they apply to your organization.
  2. Tell us about your company - Please provide us with a document that describes your business, the purpose of the website, and your goals for the project. This information is usually in the Request for Proposal (RFP) document, but if one wasn’t created for your project, now would be a good time to do so.
  3. Prepare your content – Preparing new website content is a great opportunity for you to look at your business goals, focus on your users needs, and condense your content, making it readable and easier to navigate.

    In addition to the words on your pages, you must also be thinking about the architecture of your content. You want to do so with two approaches; the top-down, and the bottom-up. The top-down approach has you focus on the big picture and objectives of your content. You’ll be looking at the top level navigation and making it simple and intuitive. In addition you’ll want to think about the labels you use for navigation. Make certain they are clear for your users and not your employees. Once you have top-down clarity, you’ll need to look at your content from the bottom-up. This approach looks at the details of the content. It includes reviewing the page titles, making the content web friendly (using short paragraphs, bullet lists, text styles, and imagery). Here are a few resources on writing user friendly web content:

    Formatting Rules to Live By
    10 Tips for Good Web Writing

    The best way to organize your content is through a site map. This can be completed in outline form, or a diagram. Once you have organized your content, we can then begin to make our recommendations regarding your website architecture.
  4. Prepare your website hosting information – If you have an existing website, you are currently using a third party to host your website, or you have a dedicated server. Make certain you understand the hosting requirements of your new vendor. If you are using a Content Management System, they require the website to be hosted on their servers because of security and support reasons. You also should have all of your account information for your existing provider ready, as well as your registrar information (where you purchased the domain). By not having all of this information ready, you can slow the process of the project, because sometimes it takes a few days to get all of these issues worked out.
  5. Think about the purpose of the website from your clients’ perspective – It is important that your organization begins thinking about how you will present your website message to clients in the easiest, friendliest, and most pleasing manner. To do so, start thinking like your clients not your employees. This is referred to as the “user-in” approach. Businesses have a bad habit of throwing everything they can on their homepage, never thinking about how their users process this information (“organization-out”). This often yields an unorganized layout and too much content. The user-centric methodology is a challenging process that must pay close attention to the needs, wants, and limitations of your websites end users at each stage of the design/content process. A properly-executed process requires your educated assumptions of how users will interact with your website, and the testing to validate these assumptions. Start by answering these questions.

    Who are the users of our website?
    What are the users’ tasks and goals?
    What are the users’ experience levels with our website, and our competitor’s websites?
    What functions do the users need from the website?
    What information might the users need, and in what form do they need it? How do users think the website should work?