What is Responsive Web design

So yesterday I talked about the launch of a new website mrbison.com and how we had taken the opportunity to recode it as a responsive web site.

But what does that mean…what is a responsive web site?

Simply put, it is a site that will give the  visitor an optimal viewing experience regardless of what device they are using to access it- desktop, laptop, tablet or phone. And as I am all about graphics let me show you in pictures exactly what I mean.

Here is the site on a 24″ desk top monitor

Responsive webdesign in action

Here it is on an iPad – both portrait and landscape orientation

Responsive design on ipad

and here it is on an i Phone

responsive design on iphone

The way the site is coded means it automatically “responds”  to what ever device it it viewed from. Here are some of the things that happen

  • Automatic  adjustment the overall width of the site
  • Re sizes all the images – see how the entire width of the header graphic and call to action banner are visible whatever the device
  • Adjusts the placements of page elements – on the phone the elements that were displayed horizontally ( the block of text and video) are now displayed vertically
  • Optimization of the navigational tool. If viewed on a phone a clunky navigational bar would detract from the site content. Instead the user is presented with a menu button, which, if selected, will display a drop down menu.

You don’t have to view the site on all of these different devices to see this responsive nature in action, simply visit the site and re-size your browser window…getting smaller and smaller as you do.. see how the site changes?

 

Taking a St Louis Retirement Community Social

A good website is a “living” marketing tool that can evolve to accommodate different approaches to engage with it’s users.  Our long standing client, The Rockwood, a St Louis retirement community, understands this and recently asked us to revisit their site and make suggestions on how it could be improved.

The site has now been overhauled  so it performs better in the search engines and offers interactions with it’s users through social networking sites Facebook and Twitter.  We also built them a custom WordPress blog which was seamlessly integrated into the site.

 

Rockwood st louis retirement community

You can subscribe to their blog, become a Facebook Friend or Follow them on Twitter

© Chicago Web Designer

New Website for Chicago Home Remodeling Company

Launched today is a new website for Restore North Shore, a Chicago home remodeling company.

Chhicago Home website

We designed and built a custom WordPress template which incorporated not only a blog but pages for project galleries, client testimonials etc.

chicago home website

If you are in the Chicago area and are looking to update your kitchen, bathroom or even an entire house check out the project galleries

© 2012 Chicago Web Designer

New WordPress websites for Life Celebrant Ruth Hasser

Launched today are two new wordpress powered website for celebrant Ruth Hasser.

Ruth has two sides to her business, weddings and funerals, or life tributes. As you can imagine the target audience for each is very different.

A first generation site, designed and developed in  2009 for her wedding business,  served her well and really helped grow her client base as a lead generation tool.

“Last year at this time, pre-website, I had one wedding scheduled for 2009. By the end of the year I had done 25. Right now, I already have 17 weddings scheduled, and I have been receiving an average of one lead per day since the beginning of January- outstanding!”

But like all tools they need to be refined to offer maximum effectiveness, so this second generation site offers social media integration allowing her clients to connect with her via Facebook and YouTube and we took the opportunity to move the site to the more robust blogging platform WordPress.  This has the added advantage that Ruth now has full editorial control of the content of the the site. Ruth was happy with the look and feel of the first generation site so we kept the design the same but did increase the width to accommodate the most common  screen resolution.

wedding celebrant web site

A website dedicated to the funeral side of her business is a new endeavor. We kept the brand image the same as the wedding site but used different imagery and a more muted color palette.

life celebrant web site

Switching from Blogger to WordPress can be a little daunting for a client and there is definitely a learning curve. As well as training we also provided Ruth with a set of screen cast videos which outline how to do the most common updates such as publishing a new blog post and uploading photographs.

© 2012 Chicago Web Designer

New WordPress websites in progress

I have been working recently on a number of custom WordPress sites.

Ruth custom wordpress siteThe first is a double project for Ruth Hasser, a St Louis celebrant. Ruth wanted to move her current site over to WordPress so she could take advantage of the content management (CMS)  it offers. She also needed a new site for the funeral and memorial side of her business.

We have kept the design the same for the wedding side of her business ( she loved it so why change it) but designed a slightly different look for the funeral site, with a more muted color scheme and different imagery.

Both sites are in the final phase of production and will be launched shortly.

Humble catholic custom wordpress websiteThe second custom WordPress site is for a Chicago group, The Humble Catholic.

This site will serve as a community allowing users to upload prayer requests, affirmations and suggest stories, all driven by the excellent blogging capabilities of the WordPress platform

The site is just going through some final testing and client review.

©: 2012 Chicago Web Designer

Moving from Blogger to WordPress

I am working with long a long standing client at the moment to convert her website to be powered by the WordPress platform. Her current site is constructed of static HTML pages and a blogger powered blog but the conversion will put everything under one roof and give her much more control of not only her blog posts but the rest of her site  too.

Pros of using WordPress?

  • CMS: WordPress is a powerful content management system and gives you complete control  to update the content your website yourself instead of relying on your web designer.
  • Design: The design options in WordPress are limitless. There are plenty of free templates around but with some technical knowledge a completely custom look can be created and you are not limited to using an identical template across every page on your site
  • Pages: With a self hosted WordPress installation there is no limit to the number of pages you can have on your site, pages can be easily ordered, sorted into menus and even hidden.  The look and feel of pages can also be changed by apply a different template to the page.
  • SEO: Compared to blogger WordPress offers much better SEO ( search engine optimization) functionality. Using a plugin like ” All in one SEO”, enables each blog post to be given a search engine friendly title, description and set of keywords.  The same functionality can also be applied to pages
  • Users: You can set up administrator, editor, author and contributor accounts, which allow different users different levels of access to the site.

Cons of Using WordPress?

  • The main con of using WordPress, for a client, is the learning curve associated with the administrative dashboard. It is definitely  more complex than Blogger but we offer comprehensive training on posting, editing and uploading images/files etc.

Ready to move?

Do you have a static web site or blog that could benefit from power of the WordPress platform? We can make the transition as seamless as possible. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your site or blog/

7 ways to increase the visibility of your small business website

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

WordPress training for new web site clients

Many of the websites we have created in the last year of so have been built on the WordPress platform. WordPress is more than a great blogging platform it is also a very powerful content management system (CMS) and for those clients who wish to maintain their site themselves it is a good option.

Once we complete a WordPress site we don’t just turn it over to the client and let then figure stuff out for themselves, we provide an interactive training session. Here is what we generally cover.

  • How to login
  • The anatomy of the WordPress dashboard
  • Writing a new blog post
  • Adding and assigning blog categories
  • SEO techniques for blog posts
  • Dealing with comments, approving, editing and trashing
  • Adding links
  • Uploading photos
  • Uploading documents
  • Viewing and editing website pages
  • Adding new pages

While this is not a comprehensive list of the all the things capable from WordPress,  it is the perfect collection of  “need to know how’s”  for clients who want to edit and update the content of their sites.

©: 2011 Chicago Web Designer