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

A letter to Chicago from the Chicago Web Designer

Dear Chicago,

Hello! A week ago today I was packing up my St Louis web design business and today, here I am firmly planted in Chicago. It may be a while before I am fully unpacked but I am really looking forward to getting to know you, all your fabulous businesses and getting down to work as the Chicago web designer.

Here is what I do:

Web Design

  • Custom Web Site Design
  • Web Site redesign
  • Banner ad Design
  • Email templates
  • Blog Design, wordpress, blogger
  • Internet marketing ( SEO)

Graphic Design

  • Logos and corporate branding
  • Presentations
  • Brochures
  • Advertisements
  • Traditional graphic design

I have been in the web and graphic design business for over 10 years and am truly passionate about what I do.

One question, as a city you have a lot of nick names. Which one do you prefer, Chi town, ChicagoLand or the Windy City?

Yours Sincerely

The Chicago Web Designer

2010 © Chicago Web Designer

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

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

New Website for Chicago Headhunting Company

There is nothing like kicking off a Monday morning with the launch of a project. Today sees the release of a new web site and brand image for Chicago headhunting company, Peter Meder and Company.
Chicago headhunter peter meder web site

We began working with Peter about a month ago. He wanted a very professional and polished looking web site and was interested in integrating his  blog and networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. We created a clean crisp look and feel enhanced by an amazing set of photographs ( taken by Peter himself) with call to actions on the home page to current headhunting searches,  social media connections and his blog.

The blog, “Moving up -A conversation with Peter,  career advice and stories from 25 years of headhunting” has been live for a few months but just using a standard blogger template. To ensured it flows seamlessly with the rest of the site we created a custom template, with navigation to the main site and branded with the Peter Meder and company brand elements.

peter meder blog

Twitter and Facebook accounts were also given the brand image.

peter Meder socail media

We are just finishing up on a stationery set to complete the brand makeover. As I said before full image branding are my favorite design projects and I am looking forward to the opportunity to working with more Chicago based clients!

2010 © St Louis Web Designer

St Louis web design blog evolution

When I first started this blog back in 2005 it was an experiment and educational process. I could see their potential and what better way to learn than start one for my own company. Over the last five years my blog has evolved and grown into an invaluable tool for attracting site visitors and generating leads.

Blogger was a nice easy platform to start on and I used one of their templates, modifying it to reflect some very simple Indigo Image brand elements. As you can see (thanks to the way back machine) it was pretty basic stand alone application.

first generation blog design

When I saw the amount of traffic visiting it became imperative to incorporate the main site’s navigation into the template from a usability standpoint . I developed a header which created a seamless transition from blog to the rest of the site and vice versa and had a consistent branded feel. I also introduced subject categories to better organize the ever growing content and give the visitor a different avenue to explore.

2nd generation blog

The momentum for the 3rd generation came from a complete site redesign. I took advantage of this to better position the blog subscription and offered users a number of ways to subscribe. The 3rd generation was originally powered by blogger but has been recently switched to WordPress ( this was due to blogger withdrawing FTP support). The switch to WordPress has made it easier to introduce additional functionality like a blog search (this is such an easy way for me to look up older posts) and better manage things like blog categories.

3rd generation blog

So what’s in store for the 4th generation? I will definitely be taking advantage of the functionality offered by WordPress and some ideas are certainly beginning to formulate but not quite there yet. My main objective still remains the same though, but they are secret so I will keep them to myself!

2010 © St Louis Web Designer

Blog Post and SEO

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

Your blog as an Internet Marketing Tool – Six Tips

Blogging is a great way to market you products or services. But are you making the most of this internet marketing tool?

Here are six tips that will help maximize your blog’s potential.

  1. Post Title Use key words in your blog post titles and make the title meaningful.
  2. File Naming Ensure that the file name generated by your blogging platform for each of your posts includes the keywords you want to target. Google’s blogger will automatically generate the file name from the title of your post but WordPress need to be configured.
  3. Post Content Write content that will engage your visitors, use imagery to add interest and format text so it is easy to read. Remember to include the key words you have targeted in the post’s title.
  4. Promote New Posts
    • Use social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to announce new posts. Facebook can actually be configured to pull all new blog content directly into your page.
  5. Subscription Offer your visitors a number of subscription options. For example allow then to subscribe via a reader such as Google’s Reader or have new posts delivered as an email.
  6. Comments Make sure visitors can comment on your posts. All good blogging platforms can be configured so you can approve comments before they get posted to your blog and answering  comments is a great way to engage with your visitors.

2010 © St Louis Web Designer

A ROI Website Success Story

Anyone starting a new business venture understands the importance of having a website, it can be tool to showcase their products or services, streamline their business operations or act as a lead generation platform.

Depending upon the complexity of the site it can be a sizable investment and the return on investment (ROI) is high on the agenda for any savvy business owner.

Last year we launched for a website for Ruth Hasser, a St Louis wedding Officiant and she has seen a huge increase in her business as a result.
Here is what she has to say

“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!”

You gotta love those leads!

The site ranks very well in the search engines thanks to excellent search engine optimization (SEO), a successful link building campaign and Ruth’s regular blog posts.

2010 © St Louis Web Designer

Need a custom blog? A showcase of our blogging Clients

Looking for a custom blog? Already have a web site and want to add a blog but need it to integrate smoothly within your site?

We can help. Take a look at some of our custom blogs.

What’s New with Cynthia Reeg

Goley News

Loomis Brothers:Featured Items and News

Ruth Ellen Hasser: Wedding Officiant

Pharmaceutical Sales Job Spotter


2009 © St Louis Web Designer

How to Subscribe to a Blog: St Louis web designers tip of the day

If you, are like me, and read a lot of blogs, it is not a good use of time to visit your favorite blogs every day just on the off chance there is something new to enjoy. A far more effective way is to subscribe to the blog and have new content delivered to you as and when it is published.

For those of us who have been blogging for many years this may seem like second nature but there are plenty of people out there for this is a whole new arena.

On a well designed blog there will be a button looking something like this

which is the universal icon for RSS feeds – a file associated with your blog.

Clicking the button will lead you to a page like this

Once on this page you are offered an abundance of ways to receive the content from the blog. One of my favorite is Google reader, which sends the new content of all your subscribed blogs to a single page – you can visit this page or set up a simple widget on your Google home page which allows you to read your content from there.

If you prefer you can subscribe to receive content from your favorite blogs via email.

The St Louis Web Designer’s tip of the day!

2009 © St Louis Web Designer