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January 29, 2014

Creating Animated Pins for Pinterest

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Pinterest continues to be one of the fastest growing social networks and if your services or products are very visual it can be a great internet marketing tool.

It is ever evolving and recently launched the support of animated gif pins, giving marketers another dimension to play with.

animate-pins

Creating an animated pin is an easy process.

  1. Start by putting together a collection of photographs. make sure all the photos have the same dimensions.
  2. Upload the photos to http://gifmaker.me/ making sure the order you upload them matches the order you would like to see them.
  3. Adjust the canvas size to match your photos and set the animation speed at a level that suits the nature of the animation.
  4. Click CREATE and download your animated gif.
  5. Upload to Pinterest. The animated Gif will have a small button automatically added. This allows visitors to click and watch your animation.

Here is the animated GIF of this tutorial on Pinterest. If you click it you will see the button

output_u2FwKl

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January 8, 2014

Money Saving Tips for Your New Business Website: From Creation to Internet Marketing

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If you are planning on starting a new business in 2014, getting up and running online is probably a high priority. With  budget concerns, many business owners will be willing to do as much as they can themselves. Here are some money saving tips to get started.

new buisness website money saving tips

  • Research and Register Your Domain Name
    When coming up with a name for your new venture make sure you also check out domain name availability. There is nothing worse than coming up with a great business  name to find the domain name is unavailable. Godaddy is a good place to do you research.
    Ideally you want one that is

    • Short and sweet
    • Can be easily communicated verbally – avoid weird spellings
    • Avoids hyphenation
    • Has the .com extension
  • Your Website
    If you are technically savvy you may want to have a go at building your site yourself- WordPress.com is a good place to start. But if HTML, CSS, SEO, templates, plugins, widgets and web hosting give you the shivers it is probably best to leave the creation of your website to a professional web design company.  Scope a few local web designers and when getting a quote be specific as possible in what you are looking for. This way you will help the designer come up with an accurate quote right from the start and not have to worry about hidden costs later into the project.
    Some areas to consider are-

    • The size of your site – sketch out a site map of all of the pages you would like, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
    • The functionality – do you need e-commerce, a blogging platform¬† or want visitors to be able to upload information. Think long and hard exactly what you want your visitors to do once they reach your site.
    • The look and feel of the site -will you need a logo and brand image creation
    • Do you want your web site to be responsive? – look great on a desktop. tablet, cell phone etc … full explanation of responsive web design
    • Do you want to be able to update the site yourself ?
    • Are there any third party tools that you want integrated into your site
    • Search engine optimization- to get your site ranking well in the search engines required a myriad of behind the scenes code enhancements.¬† All search engine optimization projects start with a researched¬† list of keywords and key phrases. Get a jump start on your list –a great tool for evaluating what phrases are worth targeting is Google’s Adwords click “Tools and Analysis” for a keyword planner.
  • Online Marketing
    Getting visitors to your site will require an online marketing strategy, many web design companies Рincluding Indigo Image, can do this for you.   If you decide to tackle this yourself some of the basics you need to address are

    • Submitting your site to all the major search engine-¬† each search engine is slightly different
    • Creating quality links to your site from as many different sites as possible
    • Setting up social media profiles e.g Facebook page, Twitter account, Linkedin , Pinterest. Make sure you use a brand image consistent with your site across all social networks.
    • Engaging and promoting your business within your targeted social networks. It is much better to select a few social networks to focus on rather than dabble in all of them.
    • If your site has a blog write it as often as you can…to begin with aim for a post every day for maximum impact.
    • Promote any new content on your site through your social networks.
  • Website Maintenance
    Keeping your website fresh is important not only for returning visitors but also for your search engine rankings. Search engines will favor sites with frequent content updates compared to those with few.
    If your site has been built on a platform like WordPress you will be able ( if you are so inclinded!) to update the site yourself.
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January 24, 2013

How much does a website cost?

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how much does a website cost

How much does a website cost?¬† If you are visiting this page looking for a definitive answer then I am going to disappoint because pricing a website can be a complicated process but it is a question on every potential client’s mind. The cost of a web site is a little bit like the cost of¬† a house, the¬† bigger and more complex the heftier the price tag.¬† So lets break things down a bit to give you an insight as to where the costs lie and walk through some client scenarios.

Lets first consider the type of company quoting your project. A design agency with a portfolio full of fortune 500 companies and a trendy studio in a skyscraper in down town Chicago is going to charge more …well.. because they have to to cover their costs. If you are large company with mega$$ they may be a good fit. An offshore, say,¬† Indian based web design company, may give you an unbelievably cheap quote but how comfortable are you doing business that way?

A good approach to selecting a company to quote your project is to take a good look at their portfolio and services and if their offerings match what you are after, they are worth a call. Also don’t be afraid to check out any testimonials.

Any decent web design company will lead you through a discovery process (ours is free) to understand what it is you want to accomplish with your web presence. Come prepared to talk about your marketing objectives, the type of functionality you’d like on your site ( e.g shopping cart, content management, video integration, social media, blogging capabilities etc.), who your customers are, who you competition is and what makes you unique. The more information you can provide at this stage the better, as the information¬† will be used to create a comprehensive proposal which will outline the best plan of action to achieve your goals and a realistic price.

Whatever the goals of the project, the cost to create it can generally be broken down into the following categories

Design

  • A captivating design to engage you site visitors
  • Home page and inner pages of the site
  • email template design
  • Imagery selection
  • Navigation design
  • Definition of branding assets e.g color palette, typefaces
  • Working from a predefined brand style guide

Programming

  • Converting your design to a form which can be understood by web browsers
  • Integrating all content
  • Building and integrating functionality e.g¬† shopping carts, databases
  • Integrating with a Content Management System (CMS) e.g WordPress
  • Integrating 3rd party application e.g newsletter management, Google analytics
  • Mobile version of site
  • Browser compatibility testing

Launch

  • Domain registration/configuration
  • Hosting setup
  • Email setup
  • Upload to server
  • SSL certificate
  • uploading data ( e.g for e commerce)

Marketing

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Submission to basic search engines
  • More extensive search engine, directory, portal submission e.g Targeting Local directories
  • Social media profiles e.g Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest
  • Email campaigns
  • Paid Advertising Campaigns e.g Google Adwords
  • RSS subscription

Now not every project is going to require all aspects of these categories so lets take a look at a few client scenarios

Client A: Online Brochure Website

A small interior design business requires a simple online brochure type website to market their services. They would like to set up a Facebook page, an email management tool so they can send out a newsletter and a Pinterst account to pin photographs of their design work. They serve a local area and would like to rank well for anyone carrying out a local search for an interior designer- they are not interested in paid advertising although this may change depending upon the site traffic. They already have an offline brand image but require a domain name. The site will be between 10 and 12 pages in total.

Project Estimate

Design: 12 hrs
Programing: 18 hrs
Launch: 4 hrs
Marketing: 10 hrs

Total: 44 hrs = $4,400

Client B: Content Management Website

A company offering summer camps wants a web site they can manage themselves. The would like to upload photographs of camp events and allow parents to register their children Рthey already have an online application to allow this through a 3rd party but this need to be integrated seamlessly into the site. They would also like to be able to write a blog. They have a Facebook profile already set up but this to be linked to the site.  Most of their customers are by word of mouth but they would like a basic SEO and search engine submission.  They have a comprehensive offline style guide and already have a domain name. The site will be approximately 25 pages.

Project Estimate

Design: 24 hrs
Programming: 50 hrs
Launch: 8 hrs
Marketing: 5hrs

Total: 87 hrs = $8,700

Client C: E commerce Website

A small business want to launch an online store to sell their products. They also want the ability for their clients to sign up for an e-newsletter which will offer monthly promotions. They need assistance in selecting a provider for these email blasts and a custom template designed for the newsletter.They already have a merchant account set up and are interested in paid advertising to generate traffic. They have a logo and all copy for the website ready.

Design: 35 hrs
Programming: 70 hrs
Launch: 20 hrs
Marketing: 20 hrs

Total: 145 hrs = $14,500

As you can see the price range for a website can vary dramatically depending on what you want it do do and want to achieve.¬† If you would like us to quote on your next website give “The Chicago web Designer” a call at 847 607 8679, we may be a Chicago web design company but we don’t have a trendy studio in the city and don’t charge ridiculous prices!

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April 24, 2012

Local Search Directories offering free lisitings

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Gone are the days when people would use the trusty old “yellow pages” to search for services they require. Now the first port of call is the internet and many times will turn to an online local directory such as Yelp.

Does your business have a local search presence? Getting listed in local online directories can help the overall ranking of your site and give you more opportunities to connect with potential customers.

There has been a real growth in local directories over the last couple of years and generally getting listed in them is easy…although quite time consuming.

Here is a list of 43 directories that offer FREE listings.

  1. Google ( view our Google local directory listing)
  2. Bing ( View our Bing local listing)
  3. Yahoo ( view our Yahoo Local listing)
  4. Yelp ( view our Yelp profile)
  5. Merchant Circle ( View our Merchant Circle listing)
  6. Linkedin ( view Indigo Image profile)
  7. Yellow Pages ( yp lisiting)
  8. White Pages (local lisiting)
  9. Local Pages( listing)
  10. SuperMedia (listing)
  11. Mapquest ( view listing)
  12. Local ( view our Local Listing)
  13. Think Local (listing)
  14. City Slick ( view our listing)
  15. Show me Local ( listing)
  16. Insider Pages ( Chicago web designer listing)
  17. Manta(Manta Listing)
  18. Volta.com (Indigo Image Volta Listing)
  19. Zip.pro (our profile)
  20. Twibs (listing)
  21. Localeze (listing)
  22. Localdatabase (Chicago web design company listing)
  23. Yellowwise (listing)
  24. MojoPages ( listing)
  25. Tulapo (Indigo Image profile)
  26. Best of the Web (profile)
  27. Yellowbot(Listing)
  28. Yellowee (listing)
  29. City Squares (listing)
  30. Kudzu (listing)
  31. Brownbook (chicago web design profile)
  32. Match Point (listing)
  33. Hot Frog (listing)
  34. Zoom Info (listing)
  35. Magic Yellow (listing)
  36. UScity
  37. Yellowbook
  38. City Search
  39. Yellowassistance
  40. Localdex (Indigo Image-Chicago web designer listing)
  41. Business Journal
  42. US yellow Pages
  43. City Search

If you are looking to increase the visibility of your business in local search give us a call to see how we can help: 847-607-8679

© 2012 Chicago Web Designer

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April 20, 2012

Tips for Making your blog images more search engine friendly.

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If you have just started blogging, or even been blogging for a while here are a few tips that will make your images more friendly to both the search engines and your site visitors.

Before you upload: Optimize your image

  • Scale
    Scale your photographs to the exact dimensions which you wish to use them, don’t rely on your blog to re-size your¬† photos, they will download much faster if they are scaled pre upload.
  • File size vs quality
    Ideally your photographs need to be small in file size but in great quality, large files can take a long time to download frustrating your readers and driving them away.
  • How?
  • Most image editing software will allow you to easily optimize you images to be web ready, however if you don’t have access to anything suitable try Pic Monkey . It will allow you to crop re-size and add text and graphic overlays

Rename your images
Most camera will name photographs some like D03456, an arbitrary number that means nothing. Re-name your photographs so they encompass the following.

  1. The content of the photograph
  2. The content of your blog post
  3. A phrase that someone may search

e.g You are about to write a blog post all about how to make some rope pencil pots.

The image below is named rope_pencil_pots.jpg, which reflects the composition of the photo, the content of the blog post and could feasibly be a phase that someone would use as a search query.  Each word with an under score _, but is perfectly OK to separate with a hyphen instead (rope-pencil-pots.jpg)

 rope Pencil Pots

Why?

When search engines visit you site they are unable to “see” a¬† photo of a rope pencil pot, all they understand is the code (HTML) powering the site which in this case looks like this.


<img border="0" height="320" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-_lBtkHUaGZQ/TxhQ30_6TJI/AAAAAAAAA78/YYvdehrboig/s320/rope_pencil_pots.jpg" width="320" />

By giving the photo a meaningful file name it essentially helps the search engines ” see” the photo.

You have uploaded your photo now what?

Add an ALT tag to your photo

What is an Alt Tag?

Alt stands for “Alternative text”¬† and adding an alt tag to an image further enhances the ability of the search engine to understand the content of the photo.

In the case of my rope pots my alt tag would be

alt=”rope pencil pots”

As you can see the phase I am using is the same as the name I gave the image file.

How To Add an ALT Tag

The ease in which an alt tag can be added to a photo depends on which blogging platform you are using, WordPress is much easier than Blogger.

And because this is difficult to explain in words I have made a video which covers adding an Alt tag to your images in both Blogger and WordPress (and just in case you are wondering the accent is English!)

Is it worth the effort?

And here is a little test to show you this effort does pay off. Click the link below, it is the Google image search for Rope Pencil Pots …now look at what they have listed as the first image!

Google Search for Rope Pencil Pots
And just in case you are interested in making some rope pencil pots for yourself check out a tutorail over at Creative in Chicago

©2012 Chicago Web Designer

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December 15, 2011

7 ways to increase the visibility of your small business website

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Here is a list of 7 things you, as a small business owner, can do TODAY, to increase the visibility of your web site. The better visibility, the better rankings in the search engines . End result more site visitors.

website visibility

  1. Start a Blog
    Google’s blogger or WordPress.com are both good candidates for the novice blogger. They are easy to setup and require no technical knowledge .¬† Ideally your blog should be integrated into your web site and given the same look/ feel for a seamless branded image (we can definitely help you with this).¬† However having a standalone blog gives you a great platform to test the blogging waters and¬† find your voice.¬† Write regular blog posts relevant to your business expertise or product offering and make sure to create linksto your web site. Here are some articles on blogging which will help you get the most out of your blog.

  2. Comment on blog posts
    Commenting on blog posts is a great way to increase the visibility of your site.  A fitting comment and a relevant  link to your site where applicable can lead to considerable traffic. Tread carefully though and do not spam.
  3. Open a Twitter account
    Twitter is a micro blogging tool, each Tweet, or post can have a maximum of 140 characters.  Spend a little time setting up your profile which can include a picture, an all important link to your web site and a short bio.  Next find some people to follow using the tools offered on the Twitter web site, then tweet away.  The more you interact the more you will get of Twitter.
  4. Create a Facebook Fan Page for your business
    To get started with Facebook you first need to create a personal account. Then visit this page https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php
    Select a good name and populate the info section of the profile with your business information.¬† You are now free to start sharing your thoughts, ideas, products, links, video and anything else you think is relevant to your business via the Facebook status window. You will need to build up your fan base so include a Facebook “like button” wherever you can e.g In your email signature, on your blog, on your web site.
  5. Get listed on YELP
    Yelp is a local directory allowing users to search for all sorts of  services, everything from hair dressers to website designers.  Once you are a member (free) you can post reviews on any listing.
    See our listing on Yelp
  6. Upload a video to YouTube
    YouTube is the world’s 2nd most popular search engine ( Google is the 1st) so it stands to reason a presence there is worth the time and effort.¬† Creating your free account is easy and uploading a video a breeze.
    See our videos on YouTube How to select a great Domain Name and How to add video to your Internet Marketing Mix
  7. Pin something on Pinterest
    If you have visually appealing images on your website particularly if they relate to your products or services e.g You are a landscaper and have a portfolio of completed landscape projects, Pinterest is a great place to share them. Pinterest is one of the newest and fastest growing social media platforms. It is a virtual pin board allowing you to organize and share all the fabulous images you find on the web.  Boards and images can be  shared and repined .
    Check out our profile on Pinterest
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April 25, 2011

Does your web designer do this?

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Creating a great web site is only the start of an online presence for many business.

Does your web designer take care of:-

  • Domain name registration
  • Hosting
  • Email setup
  • Web Analytics – see how many hits your site is getting, where they are coming from, how long your visitors are staying etc.
  • Social Media Avenues – what is best for your business
  • Social Media Profiles, setting up Twitter, Facebook YouTube, Flikr …
  • Social Media Training
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Getting your site listed and ranked in the search engines
  • Getting your site listed on local directories e.g Yelp
  • Email campaigns

If not then you are using the wrong web design company.

We take care of all the nuts and bolts to make your web presence work for you.

©: 2011 Chicago Web Designer

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October 5, 2010

Video Internet Marketing: a New Service from Chicago web designer

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Since moving to Chicago I have been busy networking and last week met with a very interesting local business that offers video production for the web. Adding a video element to an online marketing strategy can reap huge returns.  While many samll business owners are eager to jump on the video bandwagon, once they have their video what do they do with it?

We now offer video internet marketing services and what better way to present them than a video!

2010 © Chicago Web Designer

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June 22, 2010

Is writing a blog worth the effort for a small business owner?

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Any savvy small business owner will have a carefully crafted online marketing plan, it may include a lead generating web site,  a monthly newsletter blast and even a blog.

Blogging is much more than a passing trend and is here to stay as an invaluable cheap ( free!) tool. However to be effective a blog must be written on a regular basis and this definitely requires a substantial commitment. Making time in your work schedule and coming up with interesting/relevant/unique content can be challenging.  Writing a new blog post is far too easy to push down to the bottom of your to-do list.  So is it worth the effort?

small business owner blog

When it comes to a blog you reap what you sow. Just take a look at the follow five things that can be achieved by blogging.

  • Illustrating ¬†expertise in your field to build and maintain credibility
    Do you offer a unique service or approach to problems? Are you an IT expert who can offer easy everyday tips to keep a home PC running smoothly? Blogging about your area of expertise will help build and maintain your credibility as an expert in your field.
  • Increasing traffic from search engines (SEO)
    There is nothing search engines love more than fresh content and blogs are a great way to deliver that content. Think about the key words and phrases you would like to target and include them in both the title and body  of your posts.
  • Generating sales leads
    Promoting a new product or service, have any special offers? Because blog posts are quickly picked up by the search engines they can act as great landing pages to engage your visitors. Be sure to include a call on action in these types of posts.  It is also important that your blog appears as a seamless part of your corporate web site so visitors can easily navigate around.
  • Sharing less formal thoughts/ideas
    Blogging offers a great platform for less formal thoughts or ideas that may not be suitable within the confines of a corporate web site. You can be personable and conversational.
  • Engaging with your site visitors
    Through blog comments you can interact with your visitors on a different level. Don’t worry about spam or detrimental comments. As a blog administrator you are always given the option whether or not to publish.

So is writing a blog worth the effort? I think it is.

2010 © St Louis Web Designer

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April 16, 2010

Blog Post and SEO

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I have been writing this blog since June 2005 ( quite shocking!) and in that time I have seen the internet do it’s magic and produce and ever increasing stream of traffic to my site via my blog. I have accumulated readers, subscribers and clients as a result, I thank you all.

It’s not really magic at all, its a combination of consistent posting and writing unique posts relevant to my business area, web and graphic design.¬† Here are a few tips for blog posts that will help generate traffic via SEO or other means

  • Select a good title for each blog post which contains¬† key words relevant to the post’s copy.
  • Write something unique and make sure you include the key words or phrase you have in your post’s title.
  • If your post contains an image, include key words in the image file name. Also make sure the image size is optimized for the web.
  • Share your post, include links to common social media networks like Twitter or Stumble Upon
  • Comment on other blogs and if appropriate include a link to a relevant post you have written. Do not spam other blogs though.

Blogging can be an excellent internet marketing tool, it has certainly worked for me.

2010 © St Louis Web Designer

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