Can You Build A Website With WordPress?

There are a lot of ways to design and publish a website. You can use straight HTML and design your website from scratch or you can take an off-the-shelf template and use it, or modify it. You can buy a template. Or you can use a content management system.

A content management system is a software package that you upload to your website’s server so that you can publish your content without having to mess with the code on every page. It makes content publishing a lot easier.

WordPress used to be nothing more than a blogging platform. It still is that, but since WordPress 3.0 it has become much more than a blogging platform. It is now a content management system.

What that means is you can design and publish a full-fledged website with WordPress. You can add a blog on the backend without having to upload new software. Or, you can just build your website as a website without a blog using WordPress as your content management system.

Of course, as a content management system, WordPress still has its limitations. For many functions you have to upload a plugin and that means spending the time to perform research to find the right one. Most times, there are several plugins that could work for what you want them to do and you have to compare them to see which one is best. That can be time consuming.

For most businesses, a real content management system with built-in functionality for your most commonly used features is best. Don’t skimp when it comes to content publishing.

February 5th, 2012 / Web Design & Development

Make Your Website Mobile Ready

When it comes to making your website mobile ready, there are some very specific things you should focus on. iPhones and smart phones have their own type of browsers that create challenges for regular web pages. So you should either create a separate website for mobile browsers, offer up a subdomain for mobile browsers, or use a module or plugin for your content management system so that mobile phone users can access your website.

If you want to test your website to see how mobile ready it is right now, you can do that this website. Enter your URL in the box and click “Go.”

When you’re ready to work on your website to make it more mobile, keep the following principles in mind:

  • Your site should not use Flash elements as they won’t show up in mobile phone browsers
  • If your web pages are too large or bloated with code, then they won’t work in mobile browsers
  • Do not use frames since most mobile browsers don’t support them
  • Include MIME types with your documents
  • Do not use popup windows
  • Use the proper CSS and layout for mobile browsers

These are just some of the things to think about when getting your website ready for mobile browsers. This will become more critical as more and more people start to use smart phones.

January 7th, 2012 / Web Design & Development

Is The Robots.txt File Necessary?

Webmasters have a load of tools available to them to help them build websites that help their customers and make them money. One of those tools is called a robots.txt file.

What what does the robots.txt file do?

With a robots.txt file you can tell robots (i.e. web crawlers or spiders) not to crawl your website or sections of it. If there are pages on your site, for instance, that you don’t want indexed in the search engines, then you can disallow the search engines from those areas.

The catch is, robots don’t have to obey those commands. Good robots generally do, but bad robots generally don’t.

What that means to the webmaster is, if you have sensitive information you don’t want the world to see, then don’t put it on your website – even if you include a robots.txt file to prevent search engines from accessing the sensitive pages. But if there are pages on your website that you don’t want indexed in the search engines for some reason, then the robots.txt file is good for that purpose as long as you recognize that bad robots can still access the information.

Nutshell: Don’t use the robots.txt file for excluding sensitive information from access to web crawlers; it won’t work. But you can use it to prevent search engines from indexing parts of your website.

December 18th, 2011 / Web Design & Development

What Does WYSIWYG Mean?

If you’re new to the web and web design, then you might wonder just what WYSIWYG means. It’s an acronym that stands for ‘What You See Is What You Get’.

Simply put, a WYSIWYG editor is one that displays icons that do just what the picture says they do.

For instance, if you see a printer icon, then that button prints your screen. If you see an icon with the word ‘link’ plastered on it, then that icon creates a link for you. What you see is what you get.

Why is WYSIWYG important? Well, it’s important for a number of reasons.

First off, not everyone is a code master. Some of us can make web pages do what we want just by using code that looks funny to everyone else. But those codes make web pages do necessary things. A WYSIWYG editor takes that code and translates it into image buttons for someone who doesn’t know code. So you can do the same thing with a web page that a code expert can do.

Most content management systems use a WYSIWYG system in some way. The images and icons may be slightly different or the way the CMS is structured might be different, but the outcome is the same.

The next time you want to build a website and you want to do it yourself, find a CMS with a WYSIWYG editor that helps you build web pages with pizzazz.

December 14th, 2011 / Web Design & Development

Do You Need A CMS?

A content management system is a type of software that you can upload to your domain so that you can better manage the content on your website. It allows you to upload content without knowing HTML, CSS, PHP, or other website development code.

There is nothing wrong with developing your website using coding languages. In fact, it’s often preferable. But using a content management system can save you a lot of money on development costs.

Since you are uploading your own content, you’ll save yourself a bundle of money every time you need to upload new pages to your website. You won’t have to pay your website development company to do that for you. If you write your own content, then you’ll save a ton more money on website development costs.

But you do have to be careful with the content management system you choose. You want to make sure that you use a system that

  1. Allows you to make maximum use of search engine optimisation strategies;
  2. Is flexible enough to provide you with web design alternatives and ways to tweak your design should you want to change it after the development stage;
  3. And that is affordable and within your budget.

Not all content management systems are created equal. You want the one that is just right for your business.

December 7th, 2011 / Web Design & Development

How To Get Users To Submit Content

One of the best ways to get more visitors to your website, increase your monetization opportunities, and save time managing your website is to solicit user generated content. But what kind of content is best for your website and how do you get your site visitors to send it to you?

The first step, of course, is to build an attractive website that attracts visitors. You have to have some useful content to prime the pump.

Next, decide what kind of content you want your users to submit. Are you looking for photos, videos, textual content, or something else? What would be the best kind of content for your website? You can always ask your visitors what they want to see? Then send out invites.

Make your invitation for user generated content visible all over your website. You can also send out e-mail blasts to your e-mail list. Then, post in forums and other social websites that you are looking for users to submit their content. Be sure to define precisely the kind of content you want users to submit.

Finally, you’ll need to make sure that you have the proper platform and architecture for your website to make it easy for site visitors to submit their content. Don’t put up hurdles. Make it easy.

December 2nd, 2011 / Web Design & Development

Flash Or HTML 5?

Flash has been around for a long time and in the early days there were people who thought it would never be an acceptable standard. But it has been acceptable for about five years now. I believe, however, that will soon change.

With the development of HTML 5, Flash is going to be obsolete in the next five years.

The reason is because HTML 5 includes a way for website designers to incorporate video right into their websites without forcing their visitors to download a plugin or browser extension. Currently, your site visitors will have to download a browser add-on in order to view videos created in Flash.

Some webmasters have already started using HTML 5. And it’s pretty powerful.

From a design perspective, you can’t really tell if a website is using HTML 5 or Flash for its videos. It just doesn’t matter. If the viewer can see the video and enjoy it, then it’s a quality video and a quality user experience. That’s all that matters.

HTML 5 is still in development, but it is the wave of the future. Once it is out of development stage, expect web design to rocket into the future with panache. The best web designers will use the latest developments, and that includes HTML 5.

November 18th, 2011 / Web Design & Development

Your Website As Brochure

Websites have been likened to brochures and billboards, television and radio ads, and all sorts of other traditional marketing animals. Some of the analogies make sense and some are bizarre. The brochure analogy is one of the ones that makes a lot of sense.

Your website is sort of like a brochure. However, it’s like a brochure that can be navigated through with hyperlinks.

This is one of the things that makes a website more effective, and more cost efficient, than a traditional brochure. When you print out 1,000 brochures, that’s it. Your budget is spent and you got 1,000 brochures for your money’s worth. Plus, every brochure has a limited number of panels the audience can look at.

A website doesn’t have those limitations. Yes, you can only get so much website for the budget. But you can always go back and add more to your website by increasing your budget, in the same way that you can print more brochures.

Where the website has an advantage is that you can add content to the existing content without losing the old content. With a brochure, you can either print out the old content with its limited panels or create a new brochure. You can’t do both without extending your budget.

Think of a website as an always-on navigational brochure that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Your traditional brochure can’t do that.

November 17th, 2011 / Web Design & Development

What Makes For Good Web Design?

The first thing to know about web design is that every website is different. That makes it difficult to make any definitive list about characteristics that make for good web design. Website design is a creative enterprise, not math, so adding numbers together and coming up with a calculation to determine whether a particular website is designed well or not is out of the question.

That said, I do believe that good web design is important. And you can determine whether a website was built using the best principles or not.

So what are those principles?

Good web design anything that benefits the user. In other words, when your website visitors arrive, what do they see? Do they like it? Are they able to use your site? Does it drive them away?

The best web design is design that facilitates a good user experience. That may include, but is not limited to:

  • Attractiveness
  • Functionality
  • Logical navigational structure
  • Easy payment system
  • E-commerce system that makes it easy to buy
  • Well written content
  • Achieves search engine optimisation results
  • Encourages sharing
  • Compatible with multiple browsers

Not all web design is created equal. Every website must be judged on its own merits. It is much easier to tell a bad web design than it is to define a good one, but you’ll know it when you see it.

November 15th, 2011 / Web Design & Development

What Is CRM?

Do you have a CRM system? If not and you have a robust sales team, then you could make good use of a Customer Relationship Management system. And, as luck would have it, ASM Development has one.

Customer Relationship Management is all about managing your customer relations better. It’s a software system that allows you to keep vital information about your customers and prospects to help you manage the sales process better. You can store data such as:

  • Names and contact information
  • Past purchases
  • Information regarding their business processes
  • Last time contact was made

And if you are dealing with clients who have multiple contact points, a CRM can benefit your entire organization.

Let’s say that you have five departments that interact with six different departments of each prospective customer before a sale is made. How do you manage that process? A CRM component that is designed to interact with your e-commerce system and CMS can take care of the whole load for you. It’s much easier than working off of spreadsheets and your upper management team can sleep at night.

Learn more about how a CRM and e-commerce system can work together to improve your company’s sales process.

November 2nd, 2011 / Web Design & Development