The Best Website Evaluation Tools on The Web Today 

By Steve Hoag

best website evaluation tools

Having a great business website is all well and good, but you need to leverage tools to keep it optimized. There are a bunch of free evaluation tools out there that will help you keep your website in tip top shape. Many of them focus on areas like SEO, design, and marketing. It’s important to use a variety of them to get an accurate view of how your website is performing. Some of the best free tools available today are:

HubSpot Marketing Grader

HubSpot has made a huge name for itself in online marketing. Their main product is a marketing automation platform, but they have some other nifty tools like their Marketing Grader. This takes a look at a variety of things like social media and blogs to evaluate your online marketing. It evaluates everything in the marketing funnel, and then compares that to your competitors’. Definitely check this out!

Pingdom Full Page Test

Pingdom is great at evaluating your website in some key metrics. For instance, it takes a look at your website’s speed and bottlenecks, and identifies areas where you can make simple changes for big performance boosts.


This tool is, as the name denotes, SEO focused. It’s a toolbar plugin for your internet browser that gives Google/Alexa scores, and your Pagerank. It’s great for monitoring and analyzing links. It also offers features that can analyze your keyword density, and then diagnose problem areas on your website.

Fast Track Site Evaluator

Another great tool worth checking out is our comprehensive Site Evaluator. It measures your performance on everything that goes into a website like SEO, marketing, and design. Getting a full report will take a couple days, but it’s well worth the wait. You will receive a detailed analysis which identifies areas of strength and weakness, as well as recommendations on how to improve. Get yours today!

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, March 27, 2014 12:59:00 AM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise inbound marketing landing pages SEO SMB social media social media marketing web design website

Template Design: Is It Right For Your Business? 

By Sherry Kinavey

web design template

When a small business decides they need a new website, many face a decision as to whether to choose a custom design for the site or to create a site by using a pre-designed web template. 

There are pros and cons to each option, so it's important to understand these before making a choice.

Advantages of using pre-designed template

They're more affordable.

One of the main advantages of opting for a template is that you'll save money. They tend to be quite a bit more affordable than custom designs.

WordPress, an open source platform, offer basic templates for free and for sale.  If you take the time to learn how to use WordPress and other free online platforms, you can set up a site for a very reasonable price.  If you're strapped for cash, sites such as these are a alternative.

What you see is what you get.

Some people love surprises. Others hate them. When it comes to your web design, surprises are typically a bad thing.

Templates offer security. What you see is what you get. No surprises, no hassle. This can save both money and time in terms of preventing future revisions that could result from custom design.

Faster turnaround.

Templates are ready to go, plug and play. When you use a template, it's pretty much plug and play.  And, faster turnaround means lower costs.

If you need a website now and don't have the budget for a custom website, a template is the way to go.


It's not as unique and tailor-made for your business.

Obviously, the main drawback of using a template is that it isn't necessarily unique.  There will be other companies out there with a similar color scheme and layout. If you want a completely unique online presence, it's better to get a custom design for your site.

They can lack scalability.

Some templates are specifically made for smaller websites. They aren't designed to accommodate the needs of a large enterprise or business. If you want to plan for the long term future, custom design may be a better option.

Can prevent the use of some custom functionality.

Template designs can be very cookie cutter-esque. They may not be designed to accommodate different widgets and custom tools that you want to use.

It's important to clearly define all the different features and requirements for your new website before choosing between a template or custom design.  And, make sure they can be met by the solution you choose.

View User Profile for Sherry Kinavey
Posted by Sherry Kinavey Friday, March 21, 2014 4:38:00 PM Categories: B2B enterprise SMB web design web development website

Landing Pages: Three Mistakes To Avoid 

By Steve Hoag

inbound marketing strategy

Landing pages are one of the main components of any inbound marketing strategy. They capture the user’s attention and drive them back to your website, while capturing lead information. Landing pages are extremely effective when done correctly, but there are some easy mistakes to avoid and be aware of.

Don’t forget to have a compelling call to action.

Users need a good reason to click on a landing page link, and then they need a better reason to fill out a lead capture form. You may have a great e-book waiting on the other side, but that doesn’t make a difference if the user isn’t made aware of that. Make sure your call to action is easy to see, front and center, and compelling.

Don’t overcomplicate sign up forms.

Landing page sign up forms are great for lead capturing. They need to be as simple as possible. Too many fields can scare potential leads away. Focus on what’s absolutely necessary. You can use A/B testing to find out how many fields is ideal. Don’t worry if that ideal number is just two fields for first/last names and an email address. Some contact information is better than no contact information.

Don’t forget to integrate analytics with your landing pages.

This is absolutely crucial. Using analytics to track performance is a must. Without it you will be completely in the dark as to how you are doing and what you need to change. Use or another URL shortener to track click throughs to your landing page. Then make sure to use Google Analytics and/or a marketing automation platform to track landing page performance. Some of the more comprehensive marketing solutions offer great features like A/B testing, and on page analysis to track performance. At the very least make sure you have something in place to track click throughs and that your forms link to a database.

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, March 19, 2014 7:11:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise inbound marketing landing pages social media social media marketing web design website

Responsive Design: Why Every Company Should Have It In 2014 

By Sherry Kinavey

responsive design

The Internet doesn't revolve around computers anymore. Users access the Internet with a variety of devices. This raises a significant problem, because businesses need to ensure everyone can access and display their site properly.

What's the point in having a fancy site if only a handful of people can access it?

Websites are the brick and mortar storefronts for online businesses and need to be kept in tip top shape in order to succeed.  One way of doing that is employing responsive design.

The variety of devices with Internet access is only going to increase.

Technology is advancing at an insane rate. Desktops used to be the norm. Now we have laptops, tablets, smartphones, TVs, game consoles, and iPods. And all of them have internet access. Not to mention products like Google Glass are just starting to hit the market.

The variety of devices with internet capabilities is going to continue to grow. There's no slowing down, which means your website needs to adapt to these new technologies to maximize accessibility.

2014 will be the year responsive design becomes a staple in web design.

Responsive design isn't something that is just a fad that only big companies are going to use. It's useful for every business, large or small. More people are using multiple devices to access the internet and this generates demand for responsive design. Not to mention that more design/dev firms are offering responsive design, and portraying it as a must-have feature. There is a lot of push and pull marketing going on with this technology, and online businesses are stuck in the middle.

Not having a responsive design in place will affect your bottom line.

Responsive design is becoming increasingly important to businesses as more people use multiple devices to make purchases online. Ignoring this segment of users will severely limit the effectiveness of e-commerce by reducing accessibility and reach. This will eventually impact the bottom line for many companies as leads and sales are lost. You may have the best product on earth, but it won't matter if the user can't properly access your website to purchase it. Responsive design is all about optimizing website accessibility to maximize sales. Get on the bandwagon while you still can! 

View User Profile for Sherry Kinavey
Posted by Sherry Kinavey Wednesday, March 12, 2014 12:32:00 AM Categories: B2B B2C enterprise SMB web design web development web trends website

Web Designers: Three Qualities of An Ideal Candidate 

By Steve Hoag

qualities of an ideal web designer

Finding a perfect client can be difficult. Nothing is ever perfect after all. However, you can establish criteria for an ‘ideal’ candidate so you can decide on which projects to take. So how do you do that? Read on!

The client knows their budget.

It’s important to have a client who knows exactly what they can and can’t pay for. A headache among designers is getting fully paid for all their services. No one likes having to hunt down people for money. It can end up hurting your business’ cash flow if you have too high of accounts receivable.  That can lead to even larger problems down the road. That’s why it’s very important for your client to clearly establish a budget that you can stay within, and consult with them about if there are problems.

The client has a clear timeline established.

Every client should ideally know when they need to receive their deliverables by. A clear deadline needs to be established in any business endeavor so things don’t get dragged on forever. Before starting a project, be sure to ask them when they need everything done by, and plan accordingly. Minimize any possible miscommunications at the beginning so that they can’t hurt you at the end with unwanted surprises.

The client can clearly communicate what they want.

Embarking on a project with someone who doesn’t know what they want can be a huge headache. You complete one aspect of the design and they shoot back that that’s not what was wanted at all. In order to sidestep these hurdles it’s important to focus on working with clients who know what they want, and can explain it. It helps to make a questionnaire and use other consultation meetings prior to the beginning of work so you can nail down exactly what needs to be done. Being pro-active on both sides will help a lot 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 Wednesday, February 26, 2014 10:11:00 PM Categories: B2B B2C web design website
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