Web Designers vs Developers: An Infographic Story 

There's always been a bit of confusion over the differences between web designers and developers among the mainstream. What does development even mean? Isn't it the same thing as design, but just a fancier word? Who drinks more coffee? Who has a scruffier beard? What do I study in college to become a designer or developer? To answer all these questions and more we have scoured the web for a handful of the best infographics. Check them out!

infographic of web designers vs developers

 

H/T to Visual.Ly , Web Design Ledger , ThemeAlchemy.com , and SixRevisions.com for the great infographics!

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, February 5, 2014 5:24:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C web design web development web trends

The Top 3 Mistakes Made in Content Marketing 

content marketing mistakes

Content marketing can be a huge asset to any business that uses it. It drives traffic, brand awareness, SEO, and lead generation. The trick is to avoid some common pitfalls that can really inhibit the success of your online marketing and implement best practices. So what should you be careful to avoid?

Not having a clear plan and appropriate metrics established.

Every marketing tool needs to have a solid plan and strategy behind it. Otherwise, it’s like having a ship with no compass. You have a great tool but no direction. It’s important to build a content calendar to know when/where to post. Also, be sure to clearly define metrics to measure your success. Depending on your budget, there are a lot of great free and premium tools out there that you can use. For instance, bit.ly is a URL shortener that you can utilize to measure clickthroughs. Metrics and analytics are crucial for building on previous success, and continually optimizing your marketing.

Not clearly defining your audience.

Another common mistake businesses make is not clearly defining or understanding their target audience. Understanding your target audience is one of the most critical success factors in content marketing. Create an audience profile so that you have a clear direction to go in for every piece of content. Not knowing your audience means a lot of your content can be hit or miss, and that’s not a recipe for long term success.

Not making content easy to digest.

Online marketing content should not be like reading a college textbook. It needs to be concise, informative, and compelling. Don’t write something in two paragraphs that can be done in one. Use pictures or infographics where appropriate to quickly convey information. Also, make use of sub-headings that allow users to skim content, and still have the same basic takeaways as someone who read every word. Internet content marketing is about turning a whole meal’s worth of info into bite-sized chunks.

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, February 4, 2014 8:25:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise SEO SMB social media marketing website

How To Decide Which CMS Is Right For You 

By Steve Hoag

which content management system is right for your business

There are a ton of CMS options out there for your business to use, but only a few are ideal. It’s important to ask yourself some key questions when deciding which CMS to implement. The answers you give will help to evaluate your options and come to a decision.

How much do I want to pay for my CMS?

This is a very important question because it immediately eliminates many options. Take a look at your budget and determine how much you want/can pay for a CMS. Also, keep in mind that even if there’s room in your budget for a paid option, there are many awesome open-source solutions like MojoPortal, Joomla!, etc. It’s important to remember that if you don’t have an in-house designer/developer, you will also need to allocate money for web design or content migration. Choosing a CMS is only part of the website puzzle.

How many customization options are there?

Another key question is what sort of customization capabilities a CMS has. More customization is always good, but it doesn’t really matter if you won’t need it. Focus on what you need, like crucial add-ons. For instance, e-commerce store integration, or blog/newsletter add-ons. Make a list of all the customization options you will need and then evaluate your options based on that.

Is the solution scalable?

An important factor to consider when choosing a CMS is how scalable it is. Scalability refers to a website’s ability to grow with a business. You will eventually need to invest in a new CMS if your current website management system doesn’t scale very well. It’s important to think long term as well as short term, and find the best trade-off for your business.

How user/novice friendly is the CMS?

User/novice friendliness is crucial if you will be managing your website in-house. It’s even more important if you know that you don’t have any experience with that CMS and need to adjust to it. On the other hand, if you are outsourcing your website management to a development firm, this may not be as big of an issue.

What sort of support options are there?

Customer support is critical in any product. A lot of CMS options out there like WordPress and Drupal have tons of community support available. If you are dealing with another lesser-known option, make sure that the company has great support plans or documentation. It will save you a lot of headaches in the long run!

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, January 30, 2014 7:53:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design web development

Web Designers: How to Turn LinkedIn Into A Lead Generator 

By Steve Hoag

digital marketing

Social media is here to stay. Since initial offerings like MySpace, it has captured the minds and attention of the world. Businesses are still only touching the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential this platform has to offer. There are a variety of social networks available now, but it’s important to focus on the ones that matter to your business. For many businesses that boils down to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. In this blog post we are going to focus on how to leverage LinkedIn and turn it into a reliable lead generator for your web design business. Here’s a quick rundown:

Make sure your personal and company profiles are fully developed.

Nothing says credibility on social media like a fully developed personal and company profile. It’s all about the little things like a professional profile photo, detailed work history, recommendations etc. Be sure to post links to your website on both profiles, as well as examples of portfolio work. Make it easy for people to trust you! You will be surprised how far dotting all your I’s will go.

Join groups relevant to your profession AND your target segment’s business.

Getting your brand in front of the right eyes requires a two-fold strategy on LinkedIn. You need to improve your standing among your peers, and get active where your target customers are. To start, join web design and development groups. If you are a freelancer, join freelance designer groups etc. Next, figure out where your target customer segment is active. Are they small businesses or enterprise? Tech or retail? Create a customer profile to truly understand your target, and then join groups where key decision makers are active. For instance, if you realize that you need to go after a CIO in a company, check out his/her profile and groups and start contributing in those!

Stay top of mind in yours newsfeed and groups.

The most important part of turning LinkedIn into a lead generator is staying top of mind. People forget about each other fairly quickly online, so the only way to combat that is by remaining active. Be proactive in connecting with people and networking. Scan your newsfeed every day and congratulate people for new jobs, anniversaries, great articles etc. Making others feel valued goes a long way on social media! The same goes for groups that you are involved in. Post questions, share articles, and comment on discussions. People seeing you continually add value to conversations will begin to think of you as a thought leader. Becoming a thought leader is the ultimate goal of social media because it makes everything else come easier. The people you interact with online may not need a web designer at that exact moment, but they will come back to you when they do if you cement yourself as a thought leader!

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, January 29, 2014 8:50:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise retail marketing SMB social media marketing web design web development

Three of the Best Free Social Media Tools Today 

By Steve Hoag

free social media tools

 

There are a bunch of great tools out there for social media that you have to pay for. There are also some awesome tools that won’t cost you a dime. For a lot of SMBs, there isn’t really a ton of wiggle room in the budget for social media tools. For that reason, it’s important to take advantage of all the freebies on the web. For example:

HootSuite

HootSuite is to social media tools as Google is to search engines. It’s the industry leader, hugely popular, and packed with features. It’s also a freemium product, where you get a lot of the features in the free version, but can pay extra if you want more advanced tools. HootSuite allows you to simultaneously post from multiple accounts, schedule posts, create custom searches and reports, and much more! It’s very effective at displaying all of your social media feeds in a concise and intuitive manner. Give it a try today if you haven’t already, it’s not like it’s going to cost you anything.

Bit.ly

You need to use a service like bit.ly if blogging and sharing dynamic content is an important part of your social media presence. This service allows you to shorten URLs, which is great for networks like Twitter. The real benefit though is that it tracks clickthroughs. This will help your marketing team see what types of content are performing the best, at which times, and in what region. It’s an incredible amount of insight for a free tool.

Klout

Klout was the new kid on the block not too long ago, but has since become a mainstay in the social media world. It is the first major effort at creating platform that measures influence across social platforms. And frankly, it’s done a pretty good job! The Klout team is also continuously revising its algorithm so it keeps getting more accurate. There are a bunch of cool features like who your top influencers are, and who you influence the most. If you want to create promotional campaigns Klout has ‘Perks’ which are deals that companies can offer to thought leaders in a certain industry to create buzz about their company. For instance, a $30 gift card to Starbucks in exchange for tweeting about a new coffee drink. Klout is also integrated with other services like HootSuite, quickly cementing its status on social media.

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, January 28, 2014 6:31:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C blogging enterprise retail marketing SMB social media social media marketing
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