Category Archives: Web Site Design

Using Artisteer to Develop WordPress Themes

Your theme is the first thing visitors will notice when arriving on your site. Although it may be the content that drove them there in the first place, it’s the design that will help them decide on whether to stay and read more.

The Artisteer program is one of those methods that can help you develop a great looking theme tailored to your desires. There are many features in this program that make it a wonderful tool, especially for those who plan on developing more than one website.

1. User Interface - The user interface of Artisteer is incredibly easy to manage. Each tool is self-explanatory and nearly every aspect of the website can be altered. The layout of the tools is chronological and will help any user customize a blog theme from top to bottom, literally. Adding images, font sizes, icons, and more can be altered to make your site look and feel exactly how you want it to.

The WYSIWYG editor will show a representation of what your page will look like when a visitor is browsing it. Any aspect you change can be seen within Artisteer and you can make easy adjustments in order to produce the theme you are envisioning.

Whether you need a specific pixel dimension for your blog’s width or imposing borders around the blog itself to give it a drop-shadow effect, the Artisteer software can handle it all. While the preset suggestions will randomize a look and feel for the website, you can change any aspect you wish in order to create the perfect look to fit your niche.

2. Graphics - Although you don’t need Photoshop or Illustrator to create impressive graphics, it doesn’t hurt if you have these skills. You can develop all of your graphics, icons, header images, and more using any image development program you have including Paint. As long as your image is saved as a supported graphic type such as a JPG, PNG, and others you can add them to your theme.

These images can range from small icons or bullets to as large as background images for your site. There is truly no limit to what imagery you can use within the software. However, keep in mind that your website could perform poorly the larger and more elaborate your images are.

3. Exporting - When you are done with your masterpiece, simply export the theme as a .zip file that is usable by WordPress. Once you are in your Admin panel for WordPress, browse and install the theme like you would any other. Your website will look exactly as it does in the Artisteer WYSIWYG editor.

Artisteer will allow you to save these .zip files for installations or .artx files for editing your templates for future updates. You may find that a specific font or color scheme isn’t widely accepted by your target audience and using the .artx file in Artisteer will allow you to make quick changes and theme version numbers to keep track of your progress.

Looking to add that personal touch so that you get credit for developing such a beautiful template? Artisteer will allow you to embed your name, link to your website, and version information within WordPress so that anyone using or seeing your template will know who made it and where it came from. This could help others click on the information at the base of the page to drive additional traffic to your own website.

4. Ideas - Artisteer gives you the ability to create as many themes as you want for any occasion. You can make a different theme for your blog corresponding with the seasons. Holidays can be accentuated by developing graphics and color schemes that match such as cool colors and white for winter. The possibilities for design are only limited by your own imagination. Backgrounds, overlays, and even java video can be used in this development program to provide a unique look that no one else in the world has.

5. Extenuation of Development - Artisteer doesn’t just make themes for WordPress. A wide variety of other content management systems are also able to utilize these templates such as Joomla, Blogger, and Drupal. You could provide themes and designs for friends and family. You could even assist others in a professional atmosphere by helping them develop an attractive site using the Artisteer program.

6. Continued Support - As Artisteer has gained so much popularity as being one of the best template and theme design programs from the various content management systems, there is little fear from the software becoming outdated. Versions and upgrades are constantly available from Extensoft, Inc. and available forums are constantly utilized by users in order to share knowledge and help with virtually any problem should one arise. The responsiveness of the staff is impressive and they can be very helpful if you’d rather contact them directly.

You can sift through the websites looking for that perfect theme for your blog, or you can create exactly what you want. You can pay someone to develop your themes for you, or you can buy Artisteer and make them yourself whenever you want.

You don’t need extensive programming or graphic design knowledge in order to create a lavish theme perfect for your content. You only need a basic idea of what you want your blog to look like.

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @ gmail.com.

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Filed under Blogging Tips, Blogging Tools, Software, Web Site Design, Website Builders, WordPress

Holiday Season Shows the Importance of Mobile Interaction

This guest post is contributed by Grady Winston. Grady is an avid writer and Internet entrepreneur from Indianapolis. He has worked in the fields of technology, business, marketing, and advertising – implementing multiple creative projects and solutions for a range of clients.

In 2012, shoppers spent $1.46 billion online on the Monday following Thanksgiving (also known as “Cyber Monday”). And more than 18 percent of shoppers used a mobile device to access retail sites that day. As mobile devices become more available – and as retailers designer their websites to be more mobile-friendly – the trend in online shopping is expected to continue.

Of particular interest to retailers is the fact that people who use mobile devices to shop online exhibit a slightly higher rate of conversion when compared to their desktop computer-using counterparts. That’s why it pays to develop a strategy for capturing this audience.

Buying habits

Shopping data pulled from Black Friday and Cyber Monday show that the average mobile shopper is approximately 7 percent more likely to make a purchase in the evening than during the day. While they may not be outside of their home in the evening, the convenience of their tablets and cell phones makes for easy shopping from their favorite leisure spot in their home. To take advantage of this trend, be sure to coordinate your efforts to take place after dinner time to achieve better conversion rates.

Best practices

To achieve sales conversions, you should engage the potential customer in a variety of ways. Some good approaches include:

  • Optimizing your mobile site – To convert visits to sales, you need to use simple features on your website. Especially when dealing with mobile devices, which have less precise input and smaller screens, an optimized site is easier for shoppers to use. Make sure to include basic features customers may be looking for, such as “subscribe” and “contact” fields.
  • Implementing social media campaigns – While a long-term campaign is needed to build a significant following, you can ramp-up customer excitement about sales or new inventory by carefully timing tweets and social media posts. Tying in your message to your other channels (including blogs, emails and print publications) will help to unify your message for any special sales or deals available. Consider including deals or discounts for followers of your accounts to foster brand loyalty.
  • Using SMS messages to get immediate results – A text message is frequently read within four minutes, which can lead to quick conversions on limited-time offers. Brands such as Redbox and Papa John’s effectively use SMS to deliver coupon codes to subscribers, encouraging them to take advantage of deals and generate business on specific days.
  • Building a subscriber list – When it comes to digital marketing, email is a very effective solution. A subscriber list can bring customers back repeatedly, especially if you deliver limited-quantity offers to subscribers on occasion. Making your brand advocates feel appreciated will lead to higher conversions – and people who appreciate your brand are more likely to spread the word about positive interactions with your business.

Mobile shopping could eventually become the main way people buy goods and services. Plan accordingly, always being mindful of how mobile-friendly your website is. And don’t be afraid to ask for input and ideas from your customers – they’ll happily share their opinions about what might make your website easier to use.

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Filed under Connected Devices, Guest Writers, Point of View, Web Site Design

How Do I Select The Right Company To Host My Website If I Live In Australia?

Guest article: If you want a website online, there are a number of reasons why you want all your support in your region. This is not just because they will speak your language. You are making contractual arrangements with suppliers, and therefore, you need them to be in your region for legal issues. Here is a deeper look at this issue when setting up a website.

imageDespite it being the World Wide Web, we want to make sure we know where our website is being hosted. This will also depend on the type of website you are building. Locality is always an issue. For example, if you live in Brisbane, you want IT services Brisbane.

In this article, we look at the right type of services, and other server needs you must think about. You could have put a lot of effort into your website, and you want to make sure you have complete control. There are some very local issues to understand even though you could view your website from anywhere in the world

  • Getting Started. When we think about setting up a simple website, we think about getting online and buying a host program – the hosting program is where your site will go. On these websites, we can buy domain names and buy the space and location for our website. We build our site ourselves, or we build it online through one of these sites. When everything is running smoothly there will be no problem. What happens if that company that you bought your domain name and hosting location goes out of business? What happens if something goes wrong or there are legal problems and the hosting company you bought space from is in another country? While we will buy a simple hosting package online, we still need to make sure that company is in our locality, city, state or country. It could be very hard to deal with them if they were in some lawless country on the other side of the planet. You know you are safe when the supplier is in your country, and they have a physical location. Get your hosting program from a company in your locality.
  • Computer Support. The hosting company will give you a limited amount of IT support in relation to how their servers work. This support is normally in the form of emails and other online interaction. You still need to maintain your own computers repairs, service and security. Even simple sites can have very confidential information, and so you will need to know how to handle this. If you are in Brisbane, for example, having a local computer repairs is essential. You might need to get face-to-face support by people who understand you and speak your language. Having support locally is always essential.
  • Going a Bit More Professional. When you buy your hosting program online, you are normally buying space that is shared with other people. The hosting company has a room of servers where everyone’s website and web space is shared. If you are looking for a more secure and professional setting, you will need to look for a more professional dedicated servers provider. Dedicated servers are individual computers for each client. This will mean you will have your own computer in a secure location with your own super-high speed internet connection and support. If you are intending to earn income from your website, this will be essential. It will mean your data, and information is more secure, your website’s speed will not be influenced by anyone else’s internet use, and you will have professionals who will keep an eye on it for you. You could set up your own server in your own location if you have that knowledge. You would need to make sure you have backup power and a range of other security issues (both online and offline) solved. Dedicated servers are often in a very secure location, and you want this location to be in your locality, city, state or country. Again there are legal issues you need to think about. Just like your hosting program, domain name and IT services, you want them from someone who understands you and resides locally.

Guest article by Sachin.

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Filed under Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Networking, Tech Net News, Web Development, Web Hosting, Web Site Design, Website Builders

Boosting Your WordPress Blog Site’s SEO And Traffic Tips

imageIt can take some time before you get a large amount of views on your blog, but there are ways to increase the chances of internet users finding your site. You can’t just rely on referrals and traffic links – your blog needs to be optimized.

This article looks at some of the easy and basic steps you can take to improve your site’s SEO and visibility.

WordPress is by far the best site to host your blog. Even if you have a blog on your own site, you can still boost your own site with another blog on WordPress. All you need to do is create links to your original site and all your work on your WordPress blog will be working for your main business website. In this way, you are creating crucial inbound links for your website – all on your own.

So the question arises, how do you make your WordPress blog rank higher? Luckily, there are a number of plug-ins and tools you can use to boost your blog.

Here’s a look at some simple techniques related to search engine optimization that will greatly improve your blog visitor numbers.

  • Use Your Own Domain Name. Domain names actually can have a lot of influence on the way your blog will come up in a search. Purchasing your own domain name and setting it for your WP blog is very easy. You want to make sure you know how to choose the right name. Do some research before you commit.
  • SEO Tools. There is a range of plug-ins to improve your blog’s onsite search engine optimization. Some plug-ins allow you to track the rank of the keywords you are focusing on, while other sites will improve the way your whole blog is viewed by Google.
  • Video. Videos on Google’s YouTube are a great way to get rapid results and rank high in searches. By posting your videos on YouTube, and linking your blog as a part of your video description, your chances of ranking higher are greatly increased. Always embed your own YouTube videos on your own blog, and make sure you have plenty of content with crucial keywords for Google around your website.
  • Social Media.WP makes it very easy for your blog posting to interact with your social media. Add each of these functions so that you are automatically sharing your posts on your main social media profiles. Adding buttons on each of your blog pages is very simple and will make it very easy for others to share.
  • Commenting On Other Blogs. By commenting on other blogs and leaving your link, you are showing interest in other people’s work, and showing a way for them to see yours. You will find that there will be many comments and links on your own site before too long. Be careful you do not start following the practice of many on WordPress, which essentially equates to spam. Spending the time to create quality relationships is essential.
  • Keep it Regular. Regular posting and interactivity is essential. A new visitor will view the validity of your site by how regular you post. If you have not posted in a while, users may assume you are not there any more. Current content gives validity to your older content. If you don’t have current content, it is easy for users to assume all of your content is no longer valid.
  • Submit to Blog Directories. There is a huge array of blog directories, which allows internet users to see a list of blogs on a particular topic. Constantly keep listing your blog with all and any directories you can find. The more directories you are listed with will mean a higher chance of being found.

Above all, be yourself. Keep your topics fresh. If you are interested in something, your posts will reflect that. Write when something is of interest, and keep those posts for later. Forced writing to keep to a schedule may mean you are not writing good content. Online marketing and SEO is something you build over time. The need for patience and consistency cannot be stressed enough.

Guest article from Sachin.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Blogging Tips, Blogging Tools, Free Blogging Platforms, Guest Writers, SEO, Social Blogging, Software, Web Site Design, Website Builders

Bryan Keller’s Web Design and SEO Primer

Guest writer Bryan Keller, gives you the lowdown on how you can improve, not only your web site or blog’s visual appeal but, how SEO (search engine optimization) properly utilized, can drive more readers to your site.

image SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization, is the process of optimizing one’s website to improve the position in which the website will appear within the search results obtained from a search engine based on specific keyword phrases.

The exact formula for achieving this result effectively and efficiently is a much talked about and debated issue.  However, there is at least consensus on the basic approach to improving position and for anyone who owns an online business it is just about imperative to follow these basic techniques for there to be any hope of appearing somewhere on the first or second page of Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

First, foremost and most important is the basic design and structure of the actual website itself.  A carefully planned out, user friendly, logical, and straightforward landing page or home page is essential.  In addition, maintaining a structured, easy to navigate, uncluttered and not overly complicated web design results in lower bounce rates.

It is very useful to actually layout the design of the website on paper before any computer design work even begins.  Using a graphical flowchart also greatly helps keep things organized and makes the design much easier to understand for anyone who will eventually be involved in the design, coding or implementation of the final project.

A flowchart is basically just a simple graphical representation utilizing directional lines, graphical symbols and pointer arrows that is utilized to depict the design characteristics of a websites menu-flow, page-order, and logic path.

In designing the website keep in mind that as much useful, high quality, informative, data about the business or industry the website is focused on should be included throughout the site itself.

A glossary of terms that relate to the industry the website specializes in would be a good place to start.  Another very useful inclusion could be a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page that describes in detail the most common questions relating to the website’s area of business, with descriptive answers.

When it comes to SEO, there can never be too much information included in a website as long as it is all completely original unique content (unless references are duly noted).

Original content means copying pages of data from the Wikipedia, or using content pages found on other websites or even ‘lifting’ excerpts of content from other websites simply will not work.  Plagiarized content ‘lifted’ from other sources without express consent can also be a source of legal concern.

This is one place where Google in particular, is very good at detecting copied content and will give no SEO advancement for such material included in one’s website.  If a business owner is not able to author original content themselves it would be advisable to hire someone to write original content for the website.  Original content is just as important if not more important than any other aspect of achieving good SEO results.

Additionally, there are many so called ‘article submission’ websites that are available to host uploaded content articles written about almost any subject.  As a matter of fact it is very possible that you may be reading this article on an article submission site at this very moment.

The purpose, in SEO, to the process of uploading and submission of articles to these types of websites is twofold:  first, popular article submission sites have thousands of guests each day which is a huge potential market for readers of the submitted articles and second, as an author one is allowed to create a signature that can include a link that directs traffic back to the website of the author’s choice.

This brings us to the topic of links, and more specifically ‘backlinks’.  The term backlink refers to a hypertext link, which is located on an external website that links, references, or points back to one’s own website.  A ‘backlink’ is made up of two parts: 1. The ‘URL’ of the destination site (or the site the link is pointing to), and 2. the ‘anchor text’ which is made up of the ‘keyword phrase’.  An example of a ‘backlink’ written in html code would look like the following:

<*a href=”http://www.yourwebsiteurl.com

“>Your Keyword Phrase<*/a>

When displayed this link would appear as:

Your Keyword Phrase

‘Your Keyword Phrase’ would be an active link pointing to the ‘url’ that follows the ‘href’ in the link statement above. (Please be sure to remove the asterisks – I used them only to prevent the link from becoming active.)

In the early days of the Internet backlinking was the holy grail of SEO.  One merely needed to acquire many, many links pointing back to one’s website to achieve a very high position within the result set of a search engine.  At that time it was mainly just the quantity of backlinks that determined a websites PR and not the quality of the incoming links.

Those days, I’m afraid, are long, long, gone.  The search engines are much ‘smarter’ today and the number of backlinks is not nearly as important as the ‘quality’ of the backlink in determining whether or not the backlink will provide a benefit to SEO at all.

To prevent the misuse of link farming and other types of link manipulation the use of the ‘no follow’ attribute has been implemented.  When the use of the ‘no follow’ attribute is applied to a link it directs the search engine to award no PR or ‘PageRank’ (PageRank will be explained in a moment) benefit to the landing site no matter how high the ‘PageRank’ of the referring site may be.  This has been successful in helping to reduce the amount of spamming and ‘spamdexing’.

Other methods that were once popular but are no longer effective include:  keyword stuffing, the use of hidden or invisible text, the use of unrelated hidden content with high search volume, and Meta tag stuffing.  If you are solicited by a business that mentions any of these techniques as a means to improve your SEO be sure NOT to do business with them!  None of these methods work at all anymore.

At this point it becomes necessary to discuss PR or PageRank.  PageRank is the method of grading a websites ‘authority’ or importance on the web and the process was developed primarily by researcher Larry Page (hence the name ‘Page’ Rank) at Stanford University as part of a research project.

Page and another researcher named Brin later founded Google and took the technology with them and it is still the basis of the Google search engine and search tools to this day.

A website’s PageRank is a numerical weight ranging from 0 to 10 that is assigned to a website based upon, among other things, the quantity of and the PageRank of the external websites that link in or have inbound links that refer to the target site.  A website that has many inbound links from websites that have high PageRank themselves will in turn be given a high PageRank as well.  According to Google’s website the PageRank is calculated by ‘considering more than 500 million variables and 2 billion terms.’

Needless to say, trying to understand an algorithm this complex exactly will never be possible but there are still many things that can be done to boost a sites PR and help improve its placement in search engine results.

We have discussed the importance of a high quality website design, the need for very informative original content, article submissions, backlinking and PageRank.  This would be a good time to begin discussing the process of determining keywords and keyword phrases.

Selecting the correct keywords and keyword phrases to focus the SEO efforts on can determine whether or not it will be possible to successfully achieve the intended result.  It is very important to take the time to do some research on competition and keyword popularity.

In general the most common terms that describe a business would be the best place to start.  For instance if you own a business that provides roofing contracting services keywords that you might consider focusing on might be ‘Roofing Contracting’ or ‘Roofing Contractor’.

Google provides a tool that displays the average number of searches for selected keyword phrases.  You can find this tool by searching Google for ‘keyword tool’.  After entering the keyword or keyword phrase and pressing the ‘search’ button a page of results will be displayed that indicate the number of times the particular keyword(s) has been searched for on average each month.

Also displayed are many other similar phrases that most closely match the keywords that were searched for.  Take the time to scroll through this list and many good alternative phrases can be found in this way.  Choosing the phrase that has the most searches and most closely matches the website’s line of business is a solid practical approach.

Guest writer Bryan Keller:

I own a Computer Repair and Data Recovery business in San Antonio, TX, San Antonio Computer Repair. I spent 10 years in database development. I am now also providing Website Development, Hosting, and SEO services. We use the Joomla CMS.

Altogether, I have been involved in computer programming for over 30 years. I was a self-taught programmer back when the ‘Atari 800′ was all the rage! I had an Atari 800 with 16 kilobytes of ram and a 6502 8-bit processor that ran at 1.7 MHz, no hard drive and a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk that stored just 180 Kilobytes of data. Of course there was no internet but we had the dial in bulletin boards that we connected to at 300 baud. lol.

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Filed under Guest Writers, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, Web Development, Web Hosting, Web Site Design