A Website Freshen Up

Can your website accommodate changes in your business? When designing and developing a web site this is an important consideration. Your web site needs to be able to easily change and grow with you without going back to the drawing board.

We practice what we preach with our own website and launched today is a mini overhaul of our site. There is no major redesign just a few tweaks here and there to better serve our visitors and behind the scenes some updates for the search engines to reflect our new Chicago location.

We have added a couple of new pages detailing our branding and social media services.

The entire updates were done very quickly thanks to the way the site is coded. For most of the changes we needed just a few lines of code switched out in the style sheet.
© 2011 :Chicago Web Designer

Happy Christmas from the Chicago web designer

As much as I embrace American traditions some of my British traditions have yet to fall by the wayside. Every Christmas I make a “Christmas cake” which is a rich fruit cake ( I can hear the gasps from here..but when made properly they are quite yummy) covered in marzipan and iced with royal icing.  This battered old  Father Christmas (Santa) always sits atop. See here for a previous years cake

Merry Christmas from the Chicago Web Designer!

chicago web designer xmas

©:2010 Chicago web designer

All Change

I have been writing this blog for … gasp … five years, that’s half the time I have been in business. Today marks the start of a few upgrades. Drum roll…

I have changed the name from

Indigo Thoughts

to

The Chicago Web Designer

Now back to blogging!

© Chicago Web Designer

Video Internet Marketing: a New Service from Chicago web designer

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

Chicago Web Designer: The Power of 10

To celebrate the 10th month in the year 2010 ( gosh can you believe it’s October already) the Chicago web designer presents the “Power of 10”

  1. 2010 marks our 10th year in business. It is a milestone we are extremely proud of, showing that we can not only survive but thrive in this highly competitive market.
  2. When I was 10 I started my first business. I opened a museum in my parents garden shed! The museum was stocked with fossils and interesting artifacts I had found in the Welsh countryside where I grew up. I  hung a sign up in the front garden and charged local kids 2p entry fee. I soon had a amassed and considerable sum and if I remember rightly I blew the lot at a local sweet shop (candy store in American speak). It’s interesting that many of the entrepreneurs I know have similar stories.
  3. The 10th month of the year marks two life changing anniversaries. It was the month I got married and the month I moved to the USA.
  4. I have moved a total of 10 times in my life, most recently relocating from St Louis to Chicago, hence the change from St Louis web designer to Chicago web designer. I have lived in three different countries, each country has it’s own merits but I love the fact that the USA offers so many opportunities.
  5. There are 10 applications on my computer I use every work day without fail. Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Outlook, Firefox,  Microsoft Word, Quickbooks, Adobe Acrobat and my FTP client.
  6. I test our web sites on 10 different browsers to ensure cross browser compatibility. They include the super popular and obscure : Explorer, Mozilla, Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome,  Konqueror, Opera, Netscape, AOL and Camino.
  7. I aim to write 10 blog posts a month. It takes time and effort and I don’t always reach my goal but regular blog posting is an excellent way to keep a web site fresh in the eyes of the search engines.  I always stress this to my customers and practice what I preach. I have recently doubled my work load with the launch of  an additional  blog “Eye of the Chicago Web Designer”  www.ichicagowebdesigner.com
  8. I am all about using tools on the internet to save time. Take Hootsuite for instance, an application that talks to most major social networks. In 10 seconds I can update my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
  9. By 10 o’clock in the morning I have already been hard at work for three hours. I am most definitely a morning person!
  10. Last but not least, if you are interested in a free quote on any graphic or web design project please call our 10 digit phone number: 847 607 8679 . We may be a Chicago based web design company but we are happy to work with you whatever your location.

2010 © Chicago Web Designer

New Website for Zagros Robotics

There is something very satisfying about a web redesign project. Take a look at this site we seriously revamped for Zagros Robotics.

This is the before

old zagros website

and here is the after

New Zagros web site

The site not only looks more appealing and easy to use but has the advantage of some major under the hood improvements too.

The original site incorporated a shopping cart (PDshop.net) and while this had been well configured in terms of categories  it was embedded into the static site with frames (yikes!…. a SEO nightmare). The shopping cart software was the basis of our redesign. We created and implemented  a unique template and used the custom page feature within the software to add all the “static pages” of the site. The frames were stripped away leaving a site that is much more friendly towards the search engines and is also a lot easier for the client to manage.

The end users win, the client wins and the search engines win! Success

2010 © Chicago Web Designer

Do you need a professional Web Designer?

Creating a web site must be easy, something you can do yourself over a weekend , right? Your nephew/cousin/admin assistant has just taken a six week class in web design at the local community college, are they now  fully qualified to produce that highly polished web site for your small business?

In all likelihood if you take these routes you will end up with a sub standard web site which, at its worst, can be detrimental to your business. It’s much better to call in the pros but what are the advantages of hiring a professional web designer?

To put it simply they know what they are doing. Consider the following

Design

Creating the look and feel of a web site is not just a case of opening Photoshop and playing around with a few pixels. A web designer will understand how to engage your visitors, enable them to navigate effortlessly all this while  considering the complexities of coding the design-what is and is not possible. How many pixels wide should the site be, what fonts are web safe, how should the files be saved, optimized for fast download.  What are the latest design trends? What type of design will appeal to your end user.  A web designer will be continually asking themselves questions as they design.

Coding

Coding involves rendering the design into a form that can be understood by web browsers. A professional web designer will be an expert in HTML and CSS and well versed in platform such as WordPress,  content management systems -CMS ( e.g Joomla) and be able to work with any shopping cart e.g PDshop.net.  They will constantly test the coding to iron out any bugs and make sure of cross browser compatibility.  Your site will look good irrespective of what browser of platform you are viewing it on. They will also remain up to date with all advances in the coding arena so you know your site will not be using outdated techniques.

Launching

The nuts and bolts of making a web site live,  registering a domain name, opening a hosting account, configuring email, stats packages. All bread and butter to a professional web designer.

Internet Marketing

Having a site which ranks well for particular key phrases is on the wish list of most, if not all clients. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the first step to achieving that goal and this end game will have been in the forefront of the designers mind as early as the design phase of any project. From researching the best keyword phrases, to naming files to optimize the potential of those phrases. What’s considered white hat (best practices) and what not do ( black hat practices) Getting the site listed is the next step, whether through organic ranking or paid placements through advertisers like Google. If social networking is part of your marketing plan your designer will help you implement.

So which route to take, the DIY  or the PRO approach?

I can guarantee by hiring a professional web designer you will end up with a far more effective web site.

2010 © Chicago web designer

iChicagoWebDesigner.com. We have a new blog!

Inspired by my original  “Eye of the St Louis web designer” and now Eye of the Chicago web designer” series I have decided to launch an additional blog dedicated to my “Eye of the Chicago web designer” posts.

Chicago is a rich city full of inspiration for us web designers … my camera has hardly stopped clicking since I arrived here! I didn’t want to swamp this blog with my photos.

So without further ado click iChicagoWebDesigner.com and take a peak.

2010 © Chicago Web Designer

Eye of the Chicago Web Designer: In the garden

My regular blog readers will know that gardening is my antidote to many hours sat in front of a computer screen designing web sites and the like. As much as I love my job I do need to get away from the technological world .

Moving to my web design company to Chicago has meant a new house and I have inherited a new garden. The garden is structurally excellent but it could do with a little color magic,  just like a web site a pop of color can make all the difference!

Chicago web design company

2010 © Chicago Web Designer