How To Improve Your Site Evaluator Accessibility Score 

By Steve Hoag

Site accessibility

Site accessibility is all about making sure your website can be used by any user, regardless of what browser, device, or possible disabilities they may have. Compliance with W3C guidelines is critical in making your site accessible to different types of users. Here are three ways can improve your Site Evaluator’s accessibility score.

 Ensure your site navigation and structure is logical and intuitive

Making your site’s layout and overall navigation logical and intuitive is imperative for making your site accessible. Viewers need to be able to easily discern between main headings, subheadings, and content. An intuitive main navigation system is important so that users can easily move throughout your website without any confusion

Use contextual links for disabled users

Many users who are disabled use screen readers that read out loud links on a page. Text links within copy will be read out as the term that as the hyperlink attached to it, rather than the page/content it is linking to. Make any contextual links in copy as descriptive as possible so that disabled users may easily navigate throughout your site. Use a descriptive link like ‘click here to see a list of products’ versus just ‘click here.’

Provide Alternative Content

Make sure your content can be used by anyone regardless of special needs. Some easy ways of doing this are allowing users to choose different font sizes, levels of contrast for colors, and providing text for non-text content like images.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, October 23, 2013 6:27:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise Site Evaluator SMB web design web development web trends website

Five Things to Look For When Choosing A Web Designer 

By Steve Hoag

Choosing a website designer

Choosing a website designer is an extremely important decision when building a new website. As a business, you need to ensure you do all your research and find the closest thing to a perfect candidate possible. Here are five tips to do just that!

Technical Skills

Whenever looking at different web designer options, it is important to take note of what they are adept at. If you want infinite scrolling/page-less design, find a designer who knows how to do that. The most valuable designers are ones with some experience coding and programming, because they know the limitations and advantages of different content management systems. They will be able to confidently say ‘choose this solution because it will work perfectly with what you want.’

Web Designer’s Website

The best indicator of a web designer’s abilities is usually their website. This is essentially their portfolio, and will tend to be reflect the full scope of their expertise. Pay attention to things like their use of color, graphics, layout, and navigation scheme. Combined, do they create a compelling website?

Familiarity with Business/Industry

Finding a designer with previous work in your industry is very important. You need to find someone who knows your target audience and how to appeal to them. Do they share or understand your business vision? If they don’t, move on!

Internet Marketing Knowledge

Websites are one of, if not the most important piece of internet marketing. They are becoming the brick and mortar storefront of the 21st century. The web designer you choose must have a working knowledge of internet marketing tactics like color schemes, SEO, layout, social media etc.

Experience

An experienced website designer is usually more valuable to any company. They have been around the block, have best practices in place, and know the ins and outs of website design. However, an experienced website designer may be more expensive, and may not always have exactly what you are looking for. If you are looking for new, unbridled, fresh, outside the box thinking it can be worth taking a look at younger designers. This is especially true if your audience consists of younger generations.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Tuesday, October 22, 2013 5:35:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB web design website

How Increasing Your Service Offerings Can Increase Your Web Design Sales 

By Sherry Kinavey

sales tactics

More business equals more profits. There are many ways to increase sales, but a lot of these can be quite troublesome. One of the easiest methods available is to increase your service offerings. By becoming a one stop shop, you can capture every single dimension of a client’s project, and not lose any revenue to other businesses.

Here are three ways to accomplish just that:

Add on-going service offerings to retain business

Cash flow is extremely important for business. Building consistent revenue is crucial to ensuring business survival. Adding ongoing service options such as SEO, content optimization or design alterations can go a long way to stabilizing cash flow. This is even more important if you see that your competitors are employing similar methods. Monthly subscription packages also allow you to maintain close relationships with companies. Eventually, they will have another large project to do and you’ll already be top of mind.

Become proficient in multiple web platforms

WordPress designers are a dime a dozen. The problem is that not every business wants a WordPress site.

And this doesn’t only apply to WordPress. There are quite a number of designers that specialize in only one platform.  They fail to realize that they are potentially limiting their business by doing this. Larger enterprises may want something based on .NET or another platform. Becoming proficient in multiple platforms will open up more doors, meaning more sales.

Outsource development to increase profits and secure more contracts

This ties in to the idea of becoming a one-stop shop for clients. While offering great design services can lead to business success, tying in good development services to the mix is essential. Offering to do both design and development for clients will streamline their processes and minimize costs, while creating more profit for you.

Outsourcing development is cheaper than it has ever been before. There are tons of companies both local and abroad that are looking for work and are willing to provide great deals.

Also, outsourcing development work goes both ways. As your business relationships grow, you development partners may approach you with potential design opportunities.

Definitely a win-win for all parties involved.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Monday, October 21, 2013 7:22:00 PM Categories: B2B SEO social media social media marketing web design web development web trends website

3 Ways to Improve Your Site Evaluator Usability Score 

By Steve Hoag

site evaluator usability score

In order for you website to realize its full potential, it needs to have an optimal level of usability. This means making it easy for users to navigate, find, and use content. Site Evaluator looks at a bunch of factors when providing a usability score to your website, and here are 3 ways to improve your score.

Include a suitable site map for users and crawlers

Every website needs to have a well-structured site map that users and site crawlers can use to navigate to different pages. A site map most commonly refers to buttons or links at the header or footer of every page that connect to major areas of the website. If users find it hard to navigate your site they will leave. If search engine crawlers find it hard to navigate your site they will give you a lower search ranking. If you make life easy for users and search engines they will reward you with more traffic.

Make sure every link and file isn’t broken

One of the most annoying things on any website is when you see a link that connects you to something cool and it doesn’t work. Nothing makes a user more frustrated and more prone to leave a site than that. Every link and file needs to be working so that you don’t drive potential customers away. Take care of the little things and your website will perform much better.

Ensure content is fresh, ample in supply, and with no errors

You can have the greatest website design on Earth, but if you lack consistently fresh content no one is going to come back for more. The Internet is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ industry. Everything on your site needs to be fresh, and error free so that any user can take advantage of everything you have to offer. Search engines look at this too and will reward you with higher rankings for doing so. Keep up with developing trends, and throw out anything that isn’t fresh.

 

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Thursday, October 17, 2013 7:36:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SEO Site Evaluator SMB web design web development website

5 Things To Look For In A Website Developer 

By Steve Hoag

things to look for in a web developer

Deciding on a great web developer to create the website you want is a critical decision in the business world. There are tons of options out there, but only a handful that are right for your company. Many of them have their own unique proficiencies, and your mission is to find the one with the right blend of skills for your website. So what are five things you should look for? Read on!

Experience

Some web development firms have been around for a few months, and others for years. Older web development firms have the advantage of plenty of experience, having best practices in place, and years of knowledge of the internet industry. This can be highly valuable, but at the same time do they have the right TYPE of experience? Do they know the industry YOU are operating in and what your needs and wants are? Can they deliver on these? You may find that the older firms you look at don’t, but the younger ones do. That’s why it’s important to do your research. Ask to see a portfolio, and take a look at their website to see what they are capable of.

Great Customer Service

An important aspect of the web development process is customer service. Once you have your website completed, you will invariably have more questions. The web development firm you choose should be one that will stick around to help you as you acclimate yourself to the content management system and features at your disposal. Some firms will even offer ongoing support packages that can be very beneficial if your team doesn’t have a lot of technical experience.

Pricing

The price of custom developed websites can fluctuate greatly. Some may cost $500, while ones with more complicated features like e-commerce can cost thousands of dollars. Establish your budget and features needed before beginning your search. This will help you to narrow down the pool of potential developers. Also, ask for an estimate before finalizing any sort of deal. Many development firms will do this for free.

Communication Skills

Much like customer service, great communication skills are crucial during web development. The firm you choose needs to be on hand at all times to respond to all concerns and questions you may have. It is wise to choose a developer that is close in proximity to your business. Choosing a development firm that is headquarters half way across the world can create timing problems if not handled correctly.

Turnaround Time

Time is money. And this is especially true when it comes to web development. Developing a website is a lengthy process that will invariably need revisions, meetings, and troubleshooting. Having a developer that can establish a clear timeline and meet your deadlines is very important. Make sure to ask potential candidates for their expected turnaround times for deliverables, and compare these with your needs.

View User Profile for Steve Hoag Steve is a recent graduate from UW, and the Marketing Coordinator at Fast Track. He primarily has experience in the tech and start-up industries. When he's not busy promoting Fast Track, he's watching Huskies or Green Bay Packers football. You can find him on Twitter @steven_hoag .
Posted by Steve Hoag Wednesday, October 16, 2013 5:52:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB web development website
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